Evangelical Mercerism

Those inclined to accuse me of thinking like a lapsed Catholic or even being a lapsed Catholic will have much to work with in this post. First, let me admit up front to having gone through Catholic schools and Catholic colleges. In those schools I received an education in the history of religion, the history of Christianity and the granular doctrinal differences between the sects laying claim to the label of Christian.

That said, I have not counted myself as a Catholic for a very long time and I’m not much of a believer. I think the Catholic mass is the most beautiful of the Christian services, followed closely by the Anglicans, the latter having much better music. The CoE also does a first rate job designing churches. Those big red doors are striking.

Black churches are the most entertaining and have the best food. It’s not even close on the food side of things. The mail order theologians I see on TV like Joel Osteen strike me as creepy and weird. I suspect they are just con-men without a lick of faith, but I have no proof of that. I could be completely wrong, but that’s my hunch.

Having said all that, I wish you nothing but the best if you find peace of comfort watching Joel Osteen or attending a non-denominational quasi-Christian service down at the motor lodge. A world run by the followers of Joel Olsteen would be a better world than one run by Progressives. In the former you get to say “no thank you” and close the door when they knock. In the latter you better open the door and do what they say – or else.

That buildup is a lead in to some comments regarding this post Rod Dreher linked to the other day.

One of the great Evangelical leaders of the twentieth century, Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ (now called Cru) and signatory of Evangelicals and Catholics Together, published a small booklet in 1952 entitled Four Spiritual Laws. It was used for over six decades as an evangelistic tool by literally millions of Christians worldwide. And it had – indeed, continues to have – a profound and lasting impact on Evangelicalism and the way in which that movement presents the Gospel to unbelievers and those who have strayed from their faith.

Even though I count myself among those whose spiritual journey was shaped by Bright’s vision and his call to share the good news of Jesus with family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues, I have come to believe that Bright’s first spiritual law – “God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life” – presents a misleading depiction of what it means to follow Jesus.

I’ve known a great many Evangelicals and I have attended their services and even some of their Bible classes. This passive, feminine view of Christianity has always struck me as anti-Christian. It is occassionalism, the antithesis of Christianity, to believe man does not play a defining part of his destiny.

Logically, it is even nuttier simply because God’s plan could be that you have to figure it out on your own. Put another way, His plan may be for you to create your own plan. Simply blaming things on God and his plan for you sounds like an excuse to me. It also sounds like paganism, where the fates determine the course of your life.

But the decades long near-absence of the truth of the cross and the Gospel of suffering and transformation – that following Jesus is as much about getting heaven into you as you getting into heaven – resulted in generations of American Christians who spend half their Sunday services singing “hymns” to a Jesus that sounds more like their boyfriend than their Lord.

For this reason, as the hostility to Christian faith continues to mount in the United States – especially on issues that will require government coercion in matters of religious conscience –many of our fellow believers, unwilling to entertain the possibility that they must suffer as Christ suffered, will continue to acquiesce to the spirit of the age and construct a Jesus that conforms to that spirit. This Lord will wind up agreeing – or at least, not disputing – any of the pieties of the secular intelligentsia.

The economic, social, and familial pressures will seem so unbearable – so inconsistent with that “wonderful plan for your life” – they will quickly and enthusiastically distance themselves from those brethren who choose to pick up the cross and not check the “like” button. Whatever it is that hangs in the balance – professional honor, academic respectability, securing a lucrative business contract, or thirty pieces of silver – it will surely be described as the place to which “the Lord is leading us.”

Although they will claim to be devout “Evangelicals” or “Catholics,” they will nevertheless embody the beliefs that H. Richard Niebuhr once attributed to what was at the time the most dominant religious force in America, Liberal Protestantism: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.”

This is already on display as many Evangelicals adopt the pagan beliefs of environmentalism. You can be sure that they will quickly buckle to pressure on gay marriage. There are already many out celebrating the love that won’t shut the hell up. How long before Joel Osteen is sporting a rainbow tunic and pointing out passages in the Bible he say are in support of sodomy?

It’s why I say Christianity in the West is in permanent retreat. Sure, there will always be people kicking around calling themselves Christian. There will be churches with decent crowds on Sunday. But, in the face of the Fosterite Cult of Modern Liberalism, it will be nothing more than Mercerism, a harmless pastime at best. A tool of social control at worst.

Loserville

Anyone who has played sports knows that strange feeling where you look up and see you’re not just losing but getting clobbered, despite feeling like you were doing well. Maybe the last time you looked up it was close and now it is a blowout. Perhaps you feel like you’re competing, but the other side just keeps pulling away. When you’re in the heat of the battle, it is easy to not only lose sight of the bigger picture, but get a wildly incorrect view of that bigger picture.

Reading conservative sites the last week, I’m getting that vibe from both the chattering skulls and their readers who show up in the comments. There’s a state of shock at what has transpired over the two weeks.Their preferred party sold them out to please global finance. The court untethered itself from the English language and made itself the enforcer for the Cult of Modern Liberalism. Not only was the Right not winning, they were blown off the field.

As I pointed out the other day, the gay marriage ruling is the biggest assault on religious liberty in the history of the nation. One cannot read the majority opinion without wondering how long before the courts declare Christianity illegal.

The ObamaCare decision is the most radical in the history of the court. Judge Roberts literally declared that the English language is no longer a constraint on the court, which means they no longer have to read the relevant laws in future cases.

Most of the Right is in shock, unable to muster more than the old complaints that sound rather silly given what has just transpired. Surprisingly, Rod Dreher gets it, as far where things stand for people of his faith. That’s a well written essay displaying the right amount of sadness for what he and his coreligionists face in the coming years.

No, the sky is not falling — not yet, anyway — but with the Supreme Court ruling constitutionalizing same-sex marriage, the ground under our feet has shifted tectonically.

It is hard to overstate the significance of the Obergefell decision — and the seriousness of the challenges it presents to orthodox Christians and other social conservatives. Voting Republican and other failed culture war strategies are not going to save us now.

Discerning the meaning of the present moment requires sobriety, precisely because its radicalism requires of conservatives a realistic sense of how weak our position is in post-Christian America.

What Rod and others got wrong is they thought they were in the fight. They truly thought they were giving the other side a battle over who will control society. The fact is, they never had a chance. They were getting their butt kicked for decades. The last week is just the part where the other team does the outrageous celebration on the loser’s team logo.

Last week was part of the mopping up phase of the culture war. The major institutions of the West have all been converted to the Cult of Modern Liberalism. There are no cultural institutions that stand in opposition to any of this stuff.

Their breathless support is seen in the speed with which retailers banished the rebel flag. A white guy shoots up a black church and the Cult demands a sacrifice in return. Hours after the gay marriage ruling major companies were celebrating it in TV commercials. You would not be cynical to think that maybe this has all been coordinated.

It’s tempting to think that normal people will resist, but history says otherwise. The Catholic Church is maneuvering to join the Cult on global warming. The Pope has already made noises about embracing the homosexual agenda. Everyone with something to lose is figuring out that it is time to join the winning side. You can be sure that the rest of the Christian sects will follow the Catholics into the abyss.

I received an e-mail from Paul Gottfried a while back, in response to one I sent him. I don’t know Professor Gottfried and he does not know me. I doubt he knows of this blog. Today, no one thinks twice about firing off an e-mail to a stranger and I’m no different. I sent off my query after reading this column.

It occurred to me that we are losing a lot of important knowledge as the geezers of the Old Right die off. They are the last ones to remember the old fights and why we find ourselves where we are. Professor Gottfried would do us all a great service by putting together a list of writers and books that the next generation could use in the resistance.

He was not interested and sounded a bitter tone in his response. Professor Gottfried, like many on the Old Right, has been shunned and forced to live on the fringes. The fringes of the public intellectual space, that is. Almost all of these guys used to write for mainstream publications and conservative publications with wide circulations. One by one they were proscribed starting in the 1980’s.

I really don’t blame these guys for being bitter, assuming they are bitter. They were right from the start. In the 80’s, when being Right was suddenly cool, all sorts of faddish sorts jumped on board, but few possessed the social core required to carry the fight to the Progressives. Instead they went in for whatever was fashionable to sell books, radio shows and ugly ties. Instead of building a movement that could displace the Left, they sucked it dry. The so-called paleo-cons predicted this result.

That’s all water under the bridge now. There’s value in learning from past defeats, but the time for that has passed as well. The only job left is to pack up the old books and articles in the hope that some future generation, looking for a way out, discovers them and find some inspiration.

It Was Always About The Christians

After The Supreme Cultural Revolutionary Council declared marriage, as we have known it for 10,000 years, to be null and void, most of the chattering skulls on what passes for the Right these days went into predictable hysterics. Progressive lunatics decorated themselves in rainbows, celebrating without fully understanding what it is they are celebrating. They just like gloating.

So far the only chattering skull to sort of get what’s happening is David French at National Review.

The most striking aspect of Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges, which created a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, was its deep emotion. This was no mere legal opinion. Indeed, the law and Constitution had little to do with it. (To Justice Kennedy, the most persuasive legal precedents were his own prior opinions protecting gay rights.) This was a statement of belief, written with the passion of a preacher, meant to inspire.

Consider the already much-quoted closing: As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

Or this:

“Marriage responds to the universal fear that a lonely person might call out only to find no one there.”

This isn’t constitutional law, it’s theology — a secular theology of self-actualization — crafted in such a way that its adherents will no doubt ask, “What decent person can disagree?” This is about love, and the law can’t fight love. Justice Kennedy’s opinion was nine parts romantic poetry and one part legal analysis (if that).

It has always been theology. The striking thing about the century long battle between the Cult of Modern Liberalism and the American Right is how uneven the fight has been. One side is focused, never losing sight of the bigger goals. The other side is composed of blithering idiots convinced they can talk their opponents out of destroying them.

And destruction is the only end possible. The Cult never loses sight of their main targets. The health care bill was mostly changes in the law to interfere with the free exercise of religion. Forcing some Christians to pay for abortions, for example, is forcing them to violate their faith. Do that enough and even the faithful give up. History is clear. Conversion is always compulsory.

This piece in America’s Newspaper of Record shines the light on what comes next.

On Friday, in a momentous decision, the Supreme Court allowed same-sex marriages nationwide. But the fight over how those weddings are accommodated or recognized, particularly by religious organizations, is far from over.

Chief Justice John Roberts’ dissent noted the many outstanding issues, which is why he would have preferred states passing laws allowing gay marriage, rather than judicial fiat. For Roberts, only legislation or voter initiatives signal “true acceptance.” Also, “respect for sincere religious conviction” led to “accommodations for religious practice” in every jurisdiction to democratically adopt it.

Those religious-liberty protections make clear that pre-existing bans on sexual-orientation discrimination — which provide sorely needed protections to LGBT individuals in housing, hiring and public accommodations — do not inadvertently spill over to a religious sacrament like marriage.

For example, in DC, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Washington, marriage counseling provided by churches could continue to cater exclusively to heterosexual couples. After extensive hearings, legislatures in four states expressly provided that religious social-services agencies could continue to place children exclusively with heterosexual married couples, although in three states, such placements may occur only if the program receives no public money.

The First Amendment, courts agree, means churches can refuse to conduct religious ceremonies for same-sex partners if it conflicts with their belief. But what if, say, a couple wants to hold a reception in a church basement? Can they be refused?

The dissenters skewered Justice Anthony Kennedy for trivializing the impact on religious believers. Kennedy says, “The First Amendment ensures that religions, those who adhere to religious doctrines, and others have protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.”

Clarence Thomas countered that “individuals and churches [will be] confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples,” an “inevitability” that the majority’s “weak gesture toward religious liberty in a single paragraph” is wholly insufficient to address. Samuel Alito worried that “those who cling to old beliefs . . . risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.”

At oral argument, Alito asked Solicitor General Donald Verrilli the question nagging many religiously affiliated educational institutions — the fact that Bob Jones University lost its tax-exempt status in the 1980s because it opposed interracial marriage. “So, would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same­-sex marriage?”

Verrilli conceded that tax exemption is “certainly going to be an issue.”

Of course it is going to be an issue. It has always been the issue. The whole point of gay marriage, after all, is to further bust up the traditional family and to marginalize Christian churches. A central tenet of the Cult of Modern Liberalism is the first and only loyalty of the people is to the state. The state is not just a government but the entirety of life. Nothing is outside the state, including God. This reads like it was written yesterday by Barak Obama for a reason.

What will happen from here is a wave of lawsuits against anyone and everyone holding out against the Homintern. This will include churches. Initially the courts will try to beat back this assault on the First Amendment, but in a decade the cost of not embracing the sodomite banner will break the remaining holdouts. Churches that refuse to perform gay weddings will lose their tax exempt status. Many will close. Being a Christian will be equated with being in the Klan.

Burning Man

There’s an old gag in DC about how government works and it goes something like this. The city seizes a building for tax reasons and while the tax case is being litigated they will have to take care of the building. They put up a fence and hire a security guard.

It becomes clear that they need more than one guard so they hire a team of them to guard the building 24×7. Those guards need a supervisor so they hire one of those and an administrator to process their paperwork. Each year the budget for the building security staff gets bigger and they add staff until one day Congress cuts their budget so they lay off the security guards.

Some variation of that gag has been kicking around, I bet, since Diocletian. Bureaucracy tends to proves things about human nature that the people in favor of bureaucracy vigorously deny.

One of those things is that humans are naturally tribal. Group a bunch of strangers under a banner and they will quickly be a team. Give them a common incentive and they will quickly acquire a collective identity that transcends their individual identities.

It’s why bureaucracies become self-aware. The people inside soon put the needs of the group ahead of all else, including the stated purpose of the group. The people at your local department of motor vehicles (Ministry of Transport for my British readers) are more focused on what’s good for the department than on serving the public.

Here’s a good example from the upcoming Burning Man.

Burning Man festival organizers are pushing back after the U.S. Bureau of Land Management requested upgraded accommodations for its officials at this year’s event in the Nevada desert.

The federal agency asked for flush toilets, washers and dryers, hot water, air conditioning, vanity mirrors, refrigerators and couches at its on-site camp, called the Blue Pit, The Reno Gazette-Journal reported (http://on.rgj.com/1GxU4Bb) Friday. The toilets are also to be cleaned daily by Burning Man staff.

Festival leaders have refused the request, saying those amenities alone would cost $1 million and hike its permit fees to about $5 million. Burning Man holds the largest special-recreation permit in the country, but its cost has steadily increased in recent years. In 2011, the permit fees were $858,000.

“We want to work this out. We’re getting close to the event, but we feel that there are more common-sense and cost-effective solutions,” Burning Man spokesman Jim Graham said.

But the Bureau of Land Management said state and federal officials will use the accommodations and that they’re needed for security. Staff was added after a fatal crash last year, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

“It’s safe to say that if you were working 14 to 16 hours a day in white-out conditions on the hot playa, you don’t want them to be unrested. Safety, security and health are paramount. That, I will not forgo,” said Gene Seidlitz, the bureau’s Winnemucca District Manager.

It’s a preliminary proposal and a compromise is possible. But Seidlitz said Burning Man leaders hadn’t yet outlined their issues.

After the Reno Gazette-Journal’s report, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada weighed in with a letter to Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell. He called the requested accommodations unprecedented, extravagant and “outlandishly unnecessary.”

In other words, the BLM wants to build a vacation land for their people at the expense of the event organizer. In a few years they will get their congressman and senators to sneak this into the budget so permanent vacation facilities will be build for them. BLM employees will be planning their family vacations around working Burning Man.

In the last few decades, America has seen the government class become self-aware. Spend any time around DC and what jumps out is the mass of government contractors. These business often do nothing more than provide services to government employees. The extravagant pay and benefits has made the region around the Imperial Capital one of the most expensive areas on earth.

What’s clear is the game now is to loot as much from the dwindling middle-class as possible. The government class is one group doing the looting. In theory government is supposed to guard against monied interests looting the country. Instead they are one of the looters.

 

 

Musing About The Womyn’s World Cup

I’ve often made sport of soccer even though I like watching some of it. I’ll watch the World Cup and the Olympics. The rest is of no interest as the American soccer league is awful and only douche bags in America watch Premiere League. Obviously this is an American thing but every liberal lunatic in the US likes soccer or at least pretends to like soccer. If you see an America wearing a soccer jersey, punch him in the face, he will know why.

Anyway, I have been watching the women’s World Cup. Unlike women’s basketball, you can watch women’s soccer. Basketball is a sport that relies on speed, quickness and agility. Women’s games look like the local YMCA league for middle aged fat guys. Soccer is a game of passing and ball skills so the women can do most of the things men can do, just a few clicks slower. Since soccer is a slow moving sport, you really don’t notice that the girls need extra time to traverse the field.

Not being in the habit of watching women’s soccer, the first thing that jumps out to me is the number of obvious lesbians playing the game. It is just assumed that women’s sports have a high number of lesbians, but it is not always obvious. Maybe it varies from one sport to the other. In soccer, the players are mostly white so that could be a factor. It may be easier to spot white lesbians than black lesbians.

There’s also the willingness of modern lesbians to advertize their lesbianism. The weird haircuts and clothing have become familiar to everyone. This does seem to be a white girl thing, but I see a few Asians out there with the weird buzz cuts so maybe it is jumping the rail from white to other races.

Watching Japan play Australia yesterday, the number of girls with lantern jaws even on the Japanese side suggests there’s other biological forces at work with lesbians. Alternatively, maybe female players at this level indulge in chemical assistance with their training. The lantern jaw is a well known side effect of female steroid abuse.

If you’re inclined to the nurture side of the nature-nurture debate, soccer is a good example to use in your argument. In America, the relentless pressure on girls to play sports has resulted in high participation rates for girls soccer. SWPL-ville women always stick their girls in soccer as it is all white and safe. Plus, they are convinced it will allow them to sprout a penis, thus making them perfect women. The result is the US is very good at women’s soccer, while we stink at men’s soccer.

Conversely, South America is not very good at women’s soccer, despite being obsessed with the game. They prefer having their women be women so they have very low participation rates for girl’s sports. It is no accident that other authoritarian countries are good at women’s sports. China is great at female sports now. The Soviets used to be dominant. There’s a lesson in that.

The games are OK, even though they are slower. My sample size is small, but it appears that the girls rely much more on the header than the boys. My guess as to why this the case is that you can afford to have a very tall girl on the team without losing team speed. Everyone is slow so if you have a 6’5″ player, you have another weapon. Japan, I think, has a girl who towers over everyone.

As we see with most other sports, women’s soccer suffers from having to play by the men’s rules. The games would be faster and more interesting to male viewers if the field were shorter and the goal taller. The first bit would make it easier to advance the ball, which can take ages in the women’s game. Maybe tinker with the off-sides rule to help with this, but that gets the purest worked up in a lather. Taking some players off the field is another option.

The size of the goal is something no one ever considers, but the number of shots sailing high in these games makes me think there’s an issue there with the girls that is less prominent with men. Perhaps the differences in leg strength or fine motor control are to blame, but a taller goal could address it.

There can be no changes, of course, because that would be admitting that biology is real and the religious authorities will never permit that. A central part of the women’s sports movement is that sex is a social construct. It’s why they never actually use the word “sex” and prefer the incorrect usage of the word “gender” to describe the sexes.

 

The Progressive Timeline

A topic of interest amongst many crime-thinkers, as well as some mainstream writers who secretly read crime-thinkers for column material, is why Progressives can never come to terms with the fact that they have been in charge of most of society for generations. It’s as if they have been asleep for the last fifty years or were taught an alternative history.

Detroit collapses in on itself and Progressive are out in the streets protesting as if the city was run by a secret cabal of Free Masons. They demand change and the implementation of their preferred solutions. Left out is the fact they were the ones in charge for fifty odd years and they had implemented all of their preferred polices, causing the collapse.

Race is the most obvious big social issue which has been totally controlled by Progressives. Since the 1950’s, the Left has had a free hand in trying tonmake the races get along. They even control the definition of “getting along.” Despite this, the last few years has been a non-stop campaign to “fix” race, as well as a cynical effort to cause a race war.

After the church shooting, every member of the Cult was out in the streets claiming nothing has changed since the last time a white guy killed a bunch of black people, which was fifty years ago. Normal people would look at the near total absence of white on black crime in the South, relative to the bad old days, as an amazing development. To the Left, this has not happened and it is still 1955.

My theory for why Progressives have a folded timeline is that their religion is synchronic versus diachronic and it is emotional. The Western tradition, informed by the Catholic scholarly traditions, is diachronic and dispassionate. History is a series of events, each influencing the other. The French Revolution, for example, led to Napoleon, the latter being the result of the former.

The Progressive sense of history is synchronic and emotional. The Civil Rights Movement has enormous emotional resonance with the left so it is of constant interest and talked about as if it happened yesterday. On the other hand, the near total domination of America urban centers by Progressive politicians has no emotional resonance so may as well have happened ten thousand years ago or not at all.

This jumps out when talking with millennials, who have been marinated in the New Religion throughout their schooling. Even those who ostensibly reject the one true faith have this emotional timeline baked into their thinking. They divide the past into two parts. There are those events that happened a long time ago before they were around and those events that happened in their time, which are all consuming.

For instance, I recently was talking with a millennial about mobile phones. He made the comment that life must have been rough before Steve Jobs invented the iPhone. He just assumed that this thing important to him, was a seminal moment in history. When I explained to him that I had a mobile phone in the 1980’s, I may as well have told him I lived in the age of dragons. He was incredulous.

I think this explains the current moral panic over the Confederate flag. In the Progressive timeline, the Civil War looms large, casting a shadow over everything. Their emotional response to the flag is the same as abolitionists felt in the 19th century. It’s why plagiarists like Doris Kearns Goodwin try so hard to make Lincoln into a Progressive Democrat.

It’s also why after half a century that we are still treated to JFK retrospectives around the anniversary of his death. Kennedy was an insignificant figure in American history, but he looms large in the Progressive imagination, even larger than FDR. The reason is he was “martyred” and then turned into a saint in the Cult of Modern Liberalism. The real JFK would have been revolted by modern liberalism, but the mythological one is the Brigham Young of the faith.

A strange little book I read a long time ago is The Man Who Folded Himself, by Star Trek writer David Gerrold. The premise is that the timeline can be folded on itself so that points separated by eons can appear to be moments apart. That’s the mind of the Progressive. Events of great emotional import are clustered together on their timeline in the near past. Everything else is scattered in the distant past, many beyond the event horizon.

The result of this folded timeline is a historical amnesia. It is, perhaps, a defense mechanism to deal with disconfirmations. When the prophesies do not come true, those events quickly recede into the distant past so the believer can maintain their faith. Think about how chronic gamblers never remember their loses, but remember every cent they won.

Those events that fit the narrative are always in their minds as if they just happened. Sometimes, they confuse the imaginary events like the Mathew Shepherd murder with real events. Just the other day a moonbat brought this case with me. When I pointed out that he was not, in fact, a victim of homophobia, the moonbat was incredulous. I had to provide proof and they were still insisting it could have happened.

Oddly, the Dark Ages are described as the period when the barbarians snuffed out the light of Rome. That’s not exactly true, but it is useful. What will we call the period when the fanatics turn out the lights on the past, disconnecting us from material reality? Maybe in  the future, our time will be known as the start of the Blind Ages.

ISIS in America

One of the themes here is that the Cult of Modern Liberalism has a lot in common with modern Islam. Progressives and Muslims have different traditions and a different vision of their desired future. The point of the comparison is not to prove they are the same. It is simply to explain by comparison. Multiculturalism has made comparison a taboo, but it is a useful way to understand things. It used to be the main way we studied cultures, but that was a long time ago in another country.

Anyway, consider this story the other day from the heart of Islam:

ISIS fighters have destroyed two ancient Muslim shrines in the oasis city of Palmyra, the Syrian government confirmed Wednesday, the latest act of cultural vandalism by the Sunni extremists.

ISIS seized control of Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back 2,000 years, last month, prompting fears for the site’s survival.

An email sent on behalf of Syria’s antiquities chief, Maamoun Abdulkarim, head of the Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums, said the body had heard four days ago from people in Palmyra of the shrines’ destruction.

“ISIS has blown up two ancient Muslim shrines in Palmyra, and has published photos of this awful crime against the Syrian cultural heritage on Facebook,” the statement said.

One of the tombs destroyed is that of Mohammed bin Ali, a descendent of Ali bin Abi Taleb, the Prophet Mohammed’s cousin, the website DGAM said. It’s in a hilly area 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) north of Palmyra.

Now, consider this story from the heart of Liberalism:

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial, which has stood near the banks of the Potomac River in Washington for more than 70 years, is a classical tribute to the author of the Declaration of Independence and the third U.S. president.

This week, the Jefferson Memorial was drawn into the national debate about race following the shooting deaths of nine people in a predominantly black church in South Carolina last week. It joins other public statues depicting Southern or Confederate figures, including Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, that some are arguing represent the country’s racist past and should be removed.

CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield this week questioned whether the Jefferson Memorial should be taken down because Jefferson owned slaves. “There is a monument to him in the capital city of the United States. No one ever asks for that to come down,” Banfield said.

Fellow anchor Don Lemon responded by saying Jefferson represented “the entire United States, not just the South.” But he added: “There may come a day when we want to rethink Jefferson. I don’t know if we should do that.”

Now, it is easy to dismiss the chattering skulls on CNN because no one watches CNN and these are two idiots with the IQ of goldfish. They are not demanding we blow up the Jefferson Memorial because it is blasphemy.

I’ll just point out that twenty years ago fringe idiots on TV were talking about men marrying men. It sounded absurd then, but now you can have your property taken if you laugh at gay marriage. Twenty years from ululating liberals could very well be blowing up the Jefferson Memorial because it offends the one true faith.

 

The Cult at War

A day will come when sacred Troy shall perish,
And Priam and his people shall be slain.

I’ve always found the Third Punic War to be a deeply instructive period of Roman history, one that helps us understand much of the modern world. What allowed the Romans to survive and then dominate their neighbors was their implacability. They never quit fighting even when they were beaten. The only ways to gain peace with Rome were surrender or defeat. No matter how many times you beat Rome in the field, they would keep coming back until they figured out how to win.

I think the reason for this is explained in the Punic Wars, particularly the final chapter that ended with the sack of Carthage. Rome was more than a place and a people. Rome was an idea, an animating force that defined the people of the city. Being Roman was more than just about lineage or location. It was a way of life, the way of life for righteous people. To accept defeat or compromise would be to reject the essence of being Roman.

It’s this nascent nationalism that drove the Romans to keep fighting. It is what drove them to sack Carthage and later Corinth. It was impossible to be Rome if these cities existed as anything other than subjugated provinces of Rome. This implacability is what carried Rome through the third century crisis period. Even when maintaining the empire made no military or economic sense, they did it anyway. It was who they were. Keep in mind that in the third century, Rome was led by men from the Balkans known then as Illyricum.

If you were an enemy of Rome, you knew there could only be two outcomes. You could surrender and hope for good terms or you could fight and eventually lose. Sure, you could win some battles and have a good run of success, but the Romans would never stop coming. Eventually, they would gain the advantage and win. Just as important, Rome did not just extract rents from conquered people. They Romanized them. Rome was the first iteration of The Borg.

This comes to mind now that we are in yet another Confederate flag debate. The first one of these I recall clearly was in the 90’s, but I seem to recall the Cult in a snit over the flag in the 70’s when Southern Rock started using it in their stage shows. Regardless, the Cult tried to stamp it out in the 90’s, the 2000’s and now again in this decade. Ever since that lunatic shot up the church in South Carolina, the Cult has been buzzing about that stupid flag.

As we saw with Obama’s birth certificate, the only people who care about this flag are liberals and lunatics, the distinction between the two is impossible without professional training. The rest of us, a group professional demographers call normal people, simply don’t care. But, we live in a country run by a quasi-religious cult and they do care, so the rest of us have to care – or else. That’s how it works in a theocracy.

What’s instructive here is we see the same implacability on display as I described with the Romans. In the 70’s and 80’s, I used to see Rebel flags on sale at convenience stores – even in Boston. Now, only outcasts display them and the occasional red neck. Most red necks have decided it is not worth the hassle. But, the Cult is still determined to sack any city that flies the flag in any way shape or form. The Cult never quits and never settles. They declare peace only when they have won completely and permanently.

Of course, the flag is not really the issue. That’s why normal people are caught off-guard whenever the Cult starts waving it around and ululating like lunatics. The real issue is the long War Between the Whites that started in the 19th century and continues to this day. We call this the Civil War and that’s a good label, but I prefer my label, as it is more precise. Civil War implies both sides were equal or the same or viewed one another in that way. They never did and they still don’t.

In the 19th century, northern whites of mostly English ancestry used slavery as an excuse to attack and kill as a many Southern whites as possible. Those southern whites were of mostly Scots-Irish ancestry. The northern whites were ready to join their European coevals in the industrial, global age and they did not want those backward agrarian crackers holding them back. Slavery had to go and the people responsible for it had to be punished.

Abolitionists cared more about punishing southern whites after the war than the welfare of the freed slaves. The squabbling between northern lunatics and more reasonable minds over how to go about the post-war reconstruction is largely responsible for the failure of reconstruction to resolve the issue of freed slaves. That was left to the South to figure out on its own.

Like those Romans 2,000 years ago, the Cult never quits or accepts defeat. For 150 years northern whites have been trying to finally eliminate their eternal enemy. Over the decades the Cult evolved from an English Protestant thing into a full blown post-industrial theodicy. They still have a special hatred for southern whites, but they have expanded their field of vision to include what Obama called “typical white people.”

That’s what was missed when he made that comment. Everyone thought race, when Obama was thinking class. This is a guy raised by elites in elite culture. His grandparents were low-class compared to his coevals in prep school. They were typical Americans, which the Cult identifies as middle-class, white and embarrassing. While normal people in the South have no emotions about the rebel flag, it means everything to the Cult as it has always been, in their imagination, the flag of their enemy – core Americans.

If you follow the logic, so to speak, it makes perfect sense for the Cult to go on jihad against the rebel flag after the white guy shot up the black church. The Cult’s idealized image of the enemy is white, male, southern and poor. His flag is the Confederate flag. Therefore, the logical response to this shooting, from the perspective of the Cult, is the same as the Romans when Carthaginian traders ripped off Roman merchants. That’s a policy of the extirpation.

Techno-Feudalism

Since the dawn of human settlement, being rich has been a process, not an end point. In order to accumulate capital, you need to figure out a way to organize people in such a way that their extra becomes your extra. Ideally, you leave a little for them so they think helping you grow rich is to their benefit. But, 1,000 years of feudalism proves it is not a requirement. With the right system, you can grow rich and powerful at the expense of others.

That’s the other part of the process though. To keep the peasants, slaves, servants, workers and associates from revolting, you either invest some of your extra back into them or you invest it in men with weapons who will keep the order. Recently the former has been the preferred method, but the only proven way to keep order is the latter. That’s why gun laws are enforced by men with guns.

This is not how most Americans look at economics. I’m sure a few reading this are thinking I have been reading too much Marx. But, that’s the thing. Marx was not wrong about everything. He made some excellent observations. His recommended solutions were insane, but many of his observations were spot on and hold up well even today.

Marx observed that capitalism, as he defined it, destroys and reconfigures previous economic orders, but also that it must ceaselessly devalue existing wealth. We see this today with Uber. The old order of state run cab companies is under assault from the new order of distributed contractors linked by a public information network paid for by people who don’t use it.

Joseph Schumpeter argued that this process was not pure destruction as Marxist claimed, but a reordering that eventually added value to the old stock of capital. The automobile did not entirely obliterate the horse and buggy industry. The carriage makers moved to the car business. The property employed in keeping and raising horses did not go away. It was re-purposed for car maintenance. While some value was lost from the end of horse travel, much of it was retained and a whole new layer of value was added onto it.

Both men were working from the perspective of rapid material progress. Events seem like they favor Schumpeter as opposed to Marx as we have seen whole industries grow up in one generation, displacing an old industry from our parents’ generation. The example I love using is the fax machine. In my lifetime, I saw it created, dominate and then replaced with something different. My parents could not imagine it and the kids today have never heard of it.

When I see stories like this one, I wonder if rapid material progress has reached an end or at least a lull. This looks like techno-feudalism to me. Amazon is trying to arrange things such that they can get writers to work for the benefit of Amazon, rather than their own benefit. Amazon gets the benefit of being the world’s largest bookstore, without incurring any risk. Get halfway through some book and decide you don’t like it? No problem. The author will refund you the difference! Amazon looks like a hero and the writer is looking for food in neighborhood dumpsters.

Amazon is not the only billionaire operation running these scams. Apple is trying to screw performers out of royalties. They backed off this time, but you can see where they are headed with this. These new “rental” services are about locking up the pipeline between the creator and the customer. Once they gain that edge, they will stop paying royalties. The next step will be that small acts get nothing but the benefit of “advertising” themselves on Apple or Amazon. It’s classic rentier behavior.

These are two recent examples, but the entire financial system is nothing but feudalism these days. Banks charge people for savings accounts. That forces everyone to put their savings into equities where smart people charge fees on investment funds. This arrangement means that when the economy is strong, everyone gets richer, but the rich get very rich. When the economy falls, everyone gets poorer, except for the rich, they keep getting richer. It is heads they win tails you lose.

The reason for wondering if these are symptoms of systemic stagnation is that when the pie is expanding, the rich guys are rushing to get the lion’s share of the new pie. When the pie is not growing, they look to expand their share of the pie at the expense of the weak. The new business from expansion is always the most profitable. Cannibalizing the existing market is low margin. When big players like Apple and Amazon are slumming this way, it suggests they have nowhere else to turn for profit.

It’s what appears to be at the heart of the massive new trade bill that just passed. The point of it is not to expand the US market, letting a rising tide lift all boats. No one believes that anymore. This bill is about making it easier for global players to loot the American middle class. William the Conqueror imposed feudalism in the English speaking world after the Battle of Hastings. Silicon Valley and Wall Street are imposing it on America a millennium later.

The Crisis Period

John Derbyshire regularly makes the point that in Europe, what defines Right and Left is not economics, but immigration. The only reason they continue to use the old terms of “right” and “left” to describe the mainstream parties is habit. While there are some differences of opinion on economics, foreign policy and regulation between the German CDU and the SDP, for instance, those differences are trivial.

The real difference between modern mainstream parties in Europe is the aesthetics. This is expressed in the leaders they choose. It varies from country to country, but usually one side prefers a Cavalier and the other a Roundhead in terms of presentation. Otherwise, the parties agree on all the big stuff, particularly immigration.

What’s happened in Europe and starting to happen in America is the rise of a new Right. These new voices are all over the map in terms of economics, social liberty and foreign policy. What unifies them is patriotism and immigration. The Danish People’s Party is a bunch of old style socialist and pro-EU, but they want a halt to immigration. The Swiss People’s party is libertarian, Eurosceptic, but anti-immigration. These parties simply want to maintain and preserve their countries.

The whole left-right political spectrum is itself a relic of a bygone era. It arose in the French Revolution when members of the National Assembly divided into supporters of the king to the president’s right and supporters of the revolution to his left. This divide was more than aesthetic. On one side was the future and on the other the past, as far as how the French would be organized as a people.

What’s important to keep in mind is this binary view of politics arose when one form of social organization was collapsing. The divine right of kings made a lot of sense when people accepted the divine. By the end of the 17th century, the ruling elite of Europe was not all that sure God existed, much less cared all that much about who was in charge of each country.

Now, nothing springs from nothing. Just as the right-left politcal spectrum grew out of the French Revolution, the EU and other extra-national organizations did not magically appear for no reason. Individual countries competing for advantage nearly snuffed out western civilization in two great industrial wars. The whole point of the EU is to keep the peace in Europe.

The trouble is it is rests on the new organizing ethos that I call the New Religion of egalitarianism, multiculturalism and anti-racism. In the EU, there’s no difference between a Frenchman, a German and a Greek. In fact. all people are the same, regardless of national origin. Further, all cultures are the same and arguing otherwise is racist.

The problem with that is two-fold. One, people outside the West are not the same as Europeans. The millions of them trying to head north into Europe pose the greatest threat to Western Civilization since Abd-al-Raḥmân was defeated at Tours. Current estimates say there are at least 500,000 migrants in Libya planning to cross the Mediterranean this summer. Given our inability to count, that number is probably double or triple and it is just the start. Tens of millions more are behind them.

As if having millions of Africans pour into your lands is not enough, it turns out that all Europeans are not equal after all. The Greeks are about to usher in another financial crisis, which could very well invite the Russians into the south of Europe. The Italians, Spanish and Portuguese are not far behind. It turns out that the people of the Mediterranean do not share Germany’s sense of frugality.

When explaining the revolts that led to the French Revolution, historians will point to the intellectual rumblings of the Enlightenment or the changing class structure of Europe. While important,the precipitating events were more mundane. Europe experienced extremely cold weather where springs came late and summers ended early. Crop failures followed and then starvation.

In the book The Collapse of Complex Societies, Joseph Tainter explains how human societies develop complex systems for solving the problems they face. That includes complex economic systems, social systems, war fighting systems, etc. These systems buckle and collapse in the face of new threats when the cost of reforming and modifying them exceeds the benefit of preserving them. When their value exceeds their cost, people invest in reforms.

In the case of the French Revolution, the highly complex economic and social systems that evolved out of the feudal period were all wrong for the emerging post-Enlightenment world. The financial crisis, bad harvests and mistakes by the ruling elite were just the final grains of sand to bring the old system down. There was no value in preserving Ancien Régime so it collapsed.

The point of this walk down memory lane is to point out how societies can evolve down a cul-de-sac. The Greeks, the current ones, invested a good chunk of their national wealth in an attempt to join Europe. They even borrowed to pay for it. That has turned out to be a disastrous decision. All of those arrangements they made are now useless to them in the current crisis and arguably part of what plagues them now. The cost of reform exceeds the benefit of reform so there will be no reform.

Circling back to where we started, the reordering of the politics of the West is in response to the stresses faced by the people of the West. The people working to form the new Right in response to the present crisis could very well be in the same tradition as the men who met at Rue Saint-Jacques. When the current arrangements are no longer able to secure the rights and prosperity of the citizens, people begin to think about what comes next.

The Left, of course, is convinced they are the vanguard of the revolution, pushing social evolution toward the promised land. They view the rise of these parties as a reactionary rearguard action by yesterday men afraid of the bold new future. In the abstract, they may be correct, but people don’t live in the abstract.

The Greeks stashing money under their beds only know that the people in charge have failed. The Dane seeing his taxes propping up a growing community of Africans in his ancestral home wonders why the people in charge permit it. Western elites are facing a crisis of legitimacy because they cannot contend with the basics people expect from their rulers.

Periods of crisis are defined by their precipitating events and their resolution. The current crisis has been brought on by mass immigration and economic stagnation. Its resolution will be one of two possibilities. One way is the existing arrangements reform and adapt in order to mitigate the migrant invasion and economic stagnation. The other way is they are wiped away and replaced by something new. There is no third option.