The Case of the Citizen Truly Stated

In the English Civil War, a group of renegade soldiers, along with political supporters in London, began demanding radical reforms like universal suffrage, religious tolerance, equality before the law and popular sovereignty. The Levellers did not last long, but they remain an important turning point in Western history. Their radical idea was that a man must consent to be governed and therefore have a say in how he is governed. This is a seminal moment in Western history. A nation would be defined by its people, while empires would be defined by their territory.

Another way to look at it is that a nation is a group of people, who decide their borders, their customs and how they will govern themselves. The consent is not just from citizen to the state, but from citizen to citizen. An empire, in contrast, is whatever land the ruler can hold and the people within it. His relationship to the people is transactional. He guards the people, enforces the rules and the people pay taxes. The people have no obligations to one another, at least in a legal sense. Their only duties are to the king as a subject, while they remain in the kingdom. L’Etat, c’est moi.

The critical thing here is that a citizen has obligations to his fellow citizens, while a subject only has obligations to his ruler. The former is the model we have had in the West for a long time now. In America, it has been the only model. All the blather about the propositional nation stuff obscures this fact in an attempt to justify mass immigration, but even within that mythological concept of America, the citizen is defined by his relationship to his fellow citizens. It’s not the government who defines the citizen. It is the citizen that defines the state. As such, the citizens get to decide who is and who is not a citizen.

That’s the problem the open borders types refuse to address. The government of a nation is just an extension of that agreement between the citizens. It’s even written into the American Constitution, right at the very beginning.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

In a nation, the government is defined by the people – literally. The people decide who is and who is not “the people” by whatever means they find agreeable. As with any contract, social or otherwise, the parties enter into it voluntarily. We don’t think of it that way, because we are born into our citizenship in most cases, but the fact that we can renounce our citizenship means it is always voluntary. Further, the fact that the state cannot revoke it means it is not a contract with the state. It is a contract with our fellow citizens.

In a land of no borders, there can be no social contract. What would be the point? If anyone can wander in and get the benefits of the contract, without first consenting to the terms of the contract and gaining the agreement of the counter party, what value can there be in citizenship? Citizenship becomes a suckers deal, just as it was in the Roman Empire when citizenship simply meant you paid taxes and had to provide men to the military. In the world of open borders, citizenship is all obligation and no benefit.

In such a world, it will not take long before the calls of patriotism fall flat. After all, what is patriotism but the moral obligation of a citizen to his fellow citizens? Patriotism is the spirit of the social contract. To their credit, the open borders crowd agrees that their vision of paradise is one where all human relations are transactional. Everyone acts in their self interest. So, why would people serve jury duty? Volunteer at their kid’s school? Serve in the military? All of these things assume a moral duty to your fellow citizens. In the borderless paradise, no one owes anyone anything.

Even in the paradise of open borders, order must be maintained and the interests of the wealthy protected. When calls to patriotism and culture are no longer tools available to the state, force is what’s left. This custodial state we see being rolled out by our rulers is not due to a breakdown of the citizens willingness to uphold their part of the social contract. It is the breakdown of the social contract that is causing the growth of the custodial state. Put another way, the state is not just failing in its obligations, it is nullifying the compact between citizens. In fact, they are obliterating the very concept of citizenship.

In response to the Leveller’s call or democratic rights, Henry Ireton responded,

No person hath a right to an interest or share in the disposing of the affairs of the kingdom, and in determining or choosing those that shall determine what laws we shall be ruled by here — no person hath a right to this, that hath not a permanent fixed interest in this kingdom.

How is this different from the arguments of the open borders proponents? They argue, that no one has a right to say who can walk into your country. They say, no one has a right to determine who is and who is not entitled to to the blessings of liberty. Ireton rejected the concept of citizenship. Those who demand open borders are doing the same thing. Instead of a king, they promise a custodial state to rule over us, to keep us safe, accountable only to those with a permanent interest in it.

Return of Heptarchy

We don’t know a lot of the British isles, prior to the Romans arriving. Archaeological and genetic evidence gives some broad outlines, but the details of daily life and the history of rulers and tribes is largely unknown to us. The best we can do is piece together some general ideas based on what has been dug from the earth and what the Romans recorded about what they found when they landed in Britain. There’s also genetics which can be used to trace the movement of peoples over time. This helps build a general picture, but it is filled with assumptions.

What we do know is that for most of her history, various tribes controlled areas of land and those tribes eventually formed kingdoms. The Picts, the Celts, the Welsh, the Angles and later, the Saxons, are familiar names to people fond of history. Similarly, Wessex, Mercia, Northumbria  and East Anglia probably ring some bells for most people. These were some of the kingdoms of the Heptarchy, a period in British history that lasted from the end of Roman rule until most of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms came under the overlordship of Egbert of Wessex in 829.

It’s useful to keep this in mind when looking at the changes that are coming to the UK if they follow through on the Brexit vote. The Scots are talking about independence again. The Welsh have been talking about independence for a while and may get serious about it again. Then you have the always difficult problem of the Irish. Membership in the EU was a disaster for the Irish in many ways, but they instinctively wish to go the opposite of whatever way the English are going so it is hard to know what happens with them. Then you have the Unionist issue, which is complicated in the best of times.

Whether any of this will come to pass is unknown at this point, but there’s no doubt that the UK is about to go through a period where it redefines itself to meet the world of the future. Those two great forces discussed in yesterday’s post are at work in the UK now. On the one hand, we have movements toward greater local control, even independence, and on the other hand we have a movement to fold the whole country into Europe as an administrative zone of Germany. For now, the smaller is better side is winning the argument, but how far it goes is up in the air.

The issue that lies beneath all of this is whether or not the United Kingdom as a concept is of much use in the modern world. A unified island made a lot of sense in an age when invasion was a reasonable concern. A divided squabbling people would not stand a chance against Norse raiders. The Continent has produced many threats that required a strong and unified Britain. Today, invasion is not a concern and the greatest threat from the Continent is a fresh batch of regulations that make flush toilets less efficient. It’s entirely plausible that the costs of being united outweigh the benefits.

Scotland voting themselves out of the UK is an obvious first step, but that may not be a great move on their part. The Scots remind me of the French-Canadians. They like waving flags around more than they like self-sufficiency. Similarly, the Welsh voted Brexit and seem to like being in partnership with the English. Preservation of local customs and language don’t require independence. The Scots and the Welsh would probably be happy with the symbolic parts of nationhood, but let the English run foreign policy, trade and the central bank, as long as they have a voice in Parliament.

The other side of this is the fact that the English may be tiring of the Scots. In the last two national elections a clear line exist between the Scots and the English. SNP is basically Labour with more Brave Heart references. The Scots vote for a populist left-wing party while the English are voting for what passes for a nationalist right-wing party now. UKIP in Scotland is a collection of fringe nuts, while in England it is a real party gently tugging the Tories back to where they belong on the Right. I bet more than a few English would like to vote the Scots out of the UK and be done with them.

Then we have the Irish. Currently, there is free movement between England, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Britain leaving the EU means a return of border controls to the UK and that means borders come back between Ireland and England. There’s also the fact that Norther Ireland voted heavily against leaving the EU and is making noises about gaining special EU status. That’s only possible if they are an independent country. How likely is it that Northern Ireland will follow the same path as the Scots and begin badgering for independence? How long before the English tire of them?

All of this is idle speculation, but the ground is shifting in the UK.

The Fate of Europe

Science tells us that earth quakes are caused by a fault between two plates on the earth’s surface. The tectonic plates are very slowly moving, but they rub up against one another and get stuck at their edges due to friction. When the stress on the edge overcomes the friction, there is an earthquake.  Energy is released in waves that travel through the earth’s crust and cause the shaking that we associate with an earthquake. In America, the most famous place for this is California where the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate meet.

It’s a useful image to keep in mind when looking at current events. The great rumblings we see are not just linear events, one cause and one event. Often, they are due to multiple forces working in series, parallel or even in  direct contradiction to one another. The rumbling, in the case of direct conflict, may be a warning of what’s coming next. Two opposing forces headed for collision. When the rumbling is due to friction between two unrelated forces, the quake is just an adjustment period that will last a short time until the friction points are worn away and that will be the end of the trembling.

There are at least two great forces in human events. One is the drive for ever larger units of organization. Early humans were organized in small groups of related people. Later, we got villages where these groups would live in larger organizational units together with other groups. Then we got cities and then city-states. This tendency for every larger organizational units eventually gave us nation states that are bound together by a common language, culture and heritage. Our current rulers believe the next step is regional super-states governed by multi-ethnic global elites.

The other great force is working in a different direction. Here we see ethnic groups expanding and contracting their territories and reforming into atomizes sub-states, relative to the modern notion of super-states. The Brits voted to leave the EU. The Czechs split from the Slovaks. The Kurds want to leave the Turks. Catalonia wants independence from Spain. The Scots wish to go on the EU welfare system, rather than the English welfare system. The Uighurs seek independence from the Chinese. All over the world we see these ethnic movements for greater autonomy.

What we have, on the one hand, is a drive toward larger organizational units and the obliteration of ethnicity as the building block of sovereignty. On the other hand, we have movements toward greater atomization of the organizational units of society, based on every narrower definitions of ethnicity. The rumblings we are seeing in world politics could be the first sounds of a collision between these two forces or the smoothing out of the rough edges between these two forces where they bump up against one another. From where we sit today, it is hard to know, but history suggest the former is the right answer.

With that in mind, this story coming out of Europe suggests the people in charge of the super-state movement see the calls for autonomy as a threat to their thing. It is why they kept this under wraps until after the Brexit vote. It is also why they are now thinking it is time to hit the accelerator and impose their vision on the continent, before any other rebel groups get crazy ideas into their heads about leaving. From the response of European elites, it’s clear they don’t see a possible reconciliation of these two great trends. They want to crush the “smaller is better” movement.

Of course, the Brexit vote has given every nationalist party on the continent a shot in the arm, as well as a shot in the groin to the main parties. François Hollande did not invite the queen of the French Dirt People in for a meeting because he is full of confidence. Across Europe, people are wondering why it is they cannot just manage their own affairs, based on local custom and through their traditional methods. After all, if the Brits can decide for themselves whether or not to remain in Europe, why can’t the French people or the Greeks or the Italians? It’s not an unreasonable thought.

It was on June 28 in 1914 that the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by Serb nationalists. The Austrians believed they had no choice, that the tides of history were on their side, so they issued an ultimatum to the Serb government. To accept the terms of that ultimatum would mean Serbia ceased to be an independent nation. They could never accept that. The plate of nationhood was colliding with the plate of empire. Over the next month the best minds of Europe tried to figure out how to keep the earth from trembling. It was 4 years, 3 months and 2 weeks later that they finally stopped trying, for a little while.

Tax Farming

Tax farming is a system where the state, usually a ruler or oligarchy, grants the right to collect taxes to a private person or group of individuals. In theory, this agent collects the taxes and hands them to the state, keeping a percentage for his fee. The tax farmer is eager to make sure the taxes are collected so he does a really good job collecting those taxes. Since the tax farmers are usually closer to the people being taxed, they are going to be better at unearthing the various tax dodges cooked up by the people, thus avoiding the problem of tax avoidance.

This was common in the Bronze Age and flourished from time to time in various places into the late Middle Ages. The Italians still maintain a form of it in their banking system, where the small local banks operate as a taxing authority for certain transactions. The remains of this practice are still with us in the form of business and sales taxes. The retailer is basically a tax collector. The difference is the business collecting sales and employment tax is not getting a commission. They are forced to do it by the state as a condition of doing business.

Like all solutions, it came with trade-offs. The king may have lacked the communications systems and granular knowledge of the local economy to efficiently collect his own taxes, but he gave away some degree of his authority when he resorted to tax farming. He also gave away some portion of his tax revenue to the tax farmer. Since the power to tax is the power to rule, the king was also ceding some of his own power to others, who could one day use those powers against him. In other words, the king was trading power for money, which is always a risky trade-off.

Tax farming is something to keep in mind when reading stories like this one from Hollywood. Of the eight people in the story, three run cable empires. Two run empires that piggyback on the cable monopolies. That means five of the eight most powerful media men in America base their power on state-granted cable monopolies, that are really just updated forms of the old tax farm concept. Instead of the state taxing you through your cable and internet, they grant that right to these companies, who kick a portion of it back to the government in the form of bribes and taxes.

It’s tempting to resist this comparison because the cable company is not banging on your door, demanding that you give them half your crops. It does not feel like a tax, but income taxes don’t feel like a tax either. You never see them. They just happen behind the scenes. Most people are completely unaware of the taxes on their wages. They see what’s on their stub, maybe, but they don’t see the laundry list of taxes paid by their employer. Those of you who sign the front of paychecks know the stuff on the pay stub is just the tip of the iceberg.

Similarly, as a consumer of pop culture you want to watch TV and go on-line so you get cable. In most areas of the US, there is one cable company. They don’t just sell you the content you want, they sell you a package that you have to buy whether you watch it or not. You pay for ESPN, for example, even if you never watch sports. You pay for the parade of freaks on the news channels, even if you are a sensible person who gets his news on-line. That’s a tax, no matter what they call it. You are required to pay for these channels even though you don’t want them.

Here’s a little math. The average cable TV bill in America is now over $100 per month. There are roughly 100 million cable homes in America, which means $10 billion per month flows into the cable companies via subscriber fees. Then you have the internet access portion which is about half that number. When you have the right to tax $150 billion from the public, you have a very powerful tool at your disposal. It’s no wonder that five of the eight most powerful media moguls are in the cable rackets. They have been granted the power to tax.

This would be just another scam the Billionaire Boys Club is running on the American people, except that most people still get their news and culture through the television. All of those moguls are raging left wingers, who use their billions to finance their favorite politicians and pump into your home their ideas about how you should live. It’s not an accident that most of what turns up on television looks like it was dreamed up by the sophomores in the women’s studies department. The modern tax farmer does not just have the right to tax the people in his domain. He gets the right to tell them how to think.

The Nature of the Cult

It’s natural to think of cults as being filled with gullible people bamboozled by a charismatic confidence man. It’s popular to portray the cult leader as a deeply cynical, maybe even evil, person, who is using his flock to inflict harm or make himself rich. The Nazis are often described as the quintessential cult and Hitler as the ultimate cult leader. The implication of this way of looking at things is that the people who get caught up in a cult are dupes, fools or gullible innocents. Because they were well-intentioned, they can be forgiven, to a point, for falling in with a bad crowd.

The truth is a bit different. The true believer seeks out movements to join. They don’t need convincing. They are filled with self-loathing so they seek out groups to join in order to swap out their identity with that of the group. By immersing themselves in the movement, they obliterate their sense of self and assume the identity of the group. It’s why within five minutes of meeting a vegan, they tell you they are a vegan, because it is, literally, their identity. It’s also why cult members ferociously defend the group. It’s self-defense.

Being in a mass movement or a cult only works if the logic and beliefs of the cult explain the world to a satisfactory level. If the cult says the world is going to end tomorrow, it better end tomorrow. Otherwise, the cult collapses as it fails to comport with observable reality. Since reality never fully comports with the worldview of a mass movement, there has to be a method to deal with dis-confirmation. This either means filtering out contrary data or finding a method to fold it into the beliefs of the group.

A good recent example is the Afghan Muslim, who shot up the gay club in Orlando. For the modern liberal, Muslims and gays are always victims of bad whites. Therefore this event creates a paradox for the Cult of Modern Liberalism as it means two of their beliefs are mutually exclusive. To resolve this, they created a backstory claiming the shooter was actually gay and this was gay rage. The extreme homophobia of the bad whites finally sent this poor gay Muslim over the edge. Therefore, he is just another victim of the bad whites.

It did not take too long before it was clear that this guy was not gay or struggling with being gay-curious. Because the liberal media kept promoting the idea, the FBI eventually had to announce that they found no evidence to support the claims. It was also clear that Mateen was a Muslim lunatic with ties to other Muslim lunatics. None of that mattered as the Cult had their narrative and every Lefty now believes this had nothing to do with Muslims. It was all the fault of white America, homophobia and Islamophobia. The dis-confirmation was turned into confirmation.

Normal people wonder how it is that liberals so quickly cook up these weird theories and then agree on the story, as if it is coordinated. Look at how quickly they came up with the gay rage stuff and how every liberal was saying the exact same lines within hours of the incident. Well, look at a school of fish. There’s no head fish calling the shots, but they move in concert, responding to perceived dangers, as if they are under a uniform command. The school swarms in one direction and then, in an instant, veers in another direction, as a big fish approaches.

Liberals work similarly. They are always looking to one another for signals as to how they should respond. As soon as one lefty pulled the gay rage card, the rest started repeating it as it felt like the path away from danger. It’s why they watch the same shows and read the same news sites. They are constantly watching one another for cues as to which way to swarm. Being in a mass movement is first and foremost about blending seamlessly into the whole. Again, the adherent is there to swap their identity for that of the group so they are hyper-sensitive to the direction of the group.

When faced with dis-conformation, the members of a mass movement will first look to one another in order to reinforce their beliefs. This “circle the wagons” instinct is clear with the reaction we are seeing to the Brexit vote. Instead of wondering what they did wrong, the Remain crowd is blaming it on the moral degeneracy of the Leave voters, calling them racists and xenophobes. The Remain people are locking shields to clearly set themselves apart form the evil Leave voters. Their instinct is to first defend the faith, and then look to each other for the correct response.

You’ll also note something else in the response to the vote. They are blaming it on old people. We see this in the States after every Democratic loss. When they win, it is young people who carried them to victory. When they lose it is those grubby old racists, who were driven by fear and hatred that defeated them. Mass movements make a fetish of the youth. At least a dozen times since the vote in Britain I have heard a liberal say “the delusions and fears of an aging population have thrown away the future of the young in Britain.”

What’s going on here is the process of turning contrary evidence into proof that their cause is righteous. Further, they are turning the loss into a reason for hope. After all, those horrible, racist old people will be dead soon. Then the young and righteous will inherent the earth and usher in the promised utopia. Since there can be no doubt about the validity of their beliefs, focusing on the alleged weaknesses of their adversaries inspires the faithful to keep up the fight. And they always keep up the fight. They never quit. They never change their minds. They just keep at it until they get their way.

Will to Irrelevance

George Will has thrown down his pacifier and stomped off in a huff, breaking with the Republican Party and officially becoming un-enrolled. Of course, Will lives in Washington DC so being a Republican was pointless in the extreme. The GOP rarely fields local candidates in the District and they don’t get to vote in national elections, except for President. The last Republican to hold office in DC was Mathew Emory in 1870. His office was abolished the following year. Being a Republican in Washington DC is an entirely symbolic act.

It’s also in keeping with Will’s long-time role as a conservative on television. The bow-tie, the wig, the round spectacles and the elaborate speaking style were all in furtherance of his job as a domesticated conservative, who would not scare the horses. All of it was a pose, a gesture, carefully choreographed so he could set the right tone for conservatives at home, by endorsing the terms of the debate as set forth by the Left. He was the candy coating for the liberal nut inside every ABC chat show.

Like so many of the Official Right, Will earned his spot in the mainstream media by attacking his own side. In his case, he was a rabid Nixon hater. That made him useful to the Left and got him a job in the Washington Post Writer’s Group and eventually a TV gig. He was also no fan of Reagan, but once it became clear that Reagan was going to be successful, Will shifted gears and became a Reaganite. Unlike Charles Krapphammer, Will saw which way the wind was blowing before the ’84 election.

Of course, as is the case with everyone in the clown car that is #nevertrump, Will’s hatred of Trump is more about money than ideology. Will’s old lady is Mari Maseng, who has worked for Republican politicians like Bob Dole and Rick Perry. She was also an adviser to Scott Walker. When not on the payroll, her company provides consulting services to Republican candidates. She also works for a GOP political action committee. As we see throughout “conservative” media, Republican politics has been a lucrative racket for the Will family.

That said, I doubt anyone under 50 bothers to read George Will’s column or listens to his commentary, but he is worth studying. Will is the quintessential Yankee Conservative. I sometimes call it Buckley Conservatism, or if I’m in a foul mood, the Wuss Right. Southern populists like Sam Francis called it Northern Conservatism. Yankee Conservative is probably more accurate as it is essentially a reaction to the Neo-Puritanism we call liberalism today. It’s not an accident that National Review is located in New York instead of Richmond.

Yankee Conservatives are not particularly interested in conserving anything. Their main issue is that the other team is in such a hurry that they often look undignified as they sprint off toward utopia. The Yankee Conservative places the greatest value on his dignity by putting up a choreographed resistance only to acquiesce to whatever it is the Progressives have in mind. It’s why the Left has gone from triumph to triumph, despite popular support for the “conservative” candidates. They know the guys standing athwart history yelling “stop” don’t really mean it.

It’s why guys like Will are so fond of attacking their fellow conservatives. The point of their ideology is not to remain rooted in the present or hearken to the past. It is to be gently pulled behind the Left like a skier behind a boat. Anyone seen as a drag on this process is cut loose by any means necessary. That’s why guys like Will are so fond of using the weapons of the Left against people like Trump. It cuts them loose and does so in a way that pleases their friends on the Left, letting them know they are the right sort, just a little reluctant.

It’s a bit ironic that at the end of Will’s career, he finds himself back where he started. Nixon, for all his faults, which were many, was a Dirt People candidate. In 1968 you voted for Tricky Dick because he was willing to punch the hippies and their Ivy League commie enablers. Guys like George Will and the other members of Team Buckley hated Nixon for it. Just like we see with Trump, the Buckleyites claimed their principles prevented them from embracing Nixon, but it was never principles, it was class. Nixon was not their sort.

Now Will is back where he started, except this time there’s really nowhere for him to go with it. The rise of alternative media makes having a perch on liberal media outlets pretty much useless. Now that he is at Fox, he has to compete with perky bimbos that say all the same things he says. Then you have alternative media voices that are more nimble with new media so they are able to bury the staggering geezers of Conservative Inc. Will makes a dramatic exit from the GOP and it is mocked on-line by the alt-right.

Like the rest of the Yankee Right, Will is fading into irrelevance.

All They Have Left is Vengeance

I’ve become aware of the term “Holocaustianity” of late. It’s one of those things that I probably saw and skipped past, not bothering to register it in any way. I’ve never found the Holocaust and WW2 to be very interesting. In the long run, it will fall in importance well behind the Great War and many other wars further back in time. It’s significance to us is due to recency bias and the fact there are still people who lived it.

Anyway, I saw someone use the term “Holocaustianity” on twitter and the responses reminded me of something I saw on Vox Day a while back. That post on the alt-right makes the point that no one under 40 years of age cares about the deification of the Holocaust. This may be true, I have no way of knowing, but it sounds plausible. World War II ended 70 years ago. Most young people have never met someone who was alive during that time.

That said, Western Radicals will never forget and never let the world forget. At least that seems to be the plan. The interwebs tells me the Germans just convicted a 94-year-old former Auschwitz guard of being an accessory to the murder of at least 170,000 people at the concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

A 94-year-old former Auschwitz guard was sentenced to jail in Germany on Friday by a judge who branded him a “willing and efficient henchman” in the Holocaust.

In what is likely to be one of Germany’s last trials for World War Two-era atrocities, Reinhold Hanning was convicted of being an accessory to the murder of at least 170,000 people at the concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Rejecting the defense argument that the former SS officer had never killed, beaten or abused anyone himself, Judge Anke Grudda said Hanning had chosen to serve in the notorious death camp and had helped it run.

“It is not true that you had no choice; you could have asked to be transferred to the war front,” Grudda told Hanning as she read out the verdict.

She said it was impossible that he had been unaware of the murders since he spent two and a half years at the camp and had been promoted twice during that time.

“That shows that you had proven your value as a willing and efficient henchman in the killings,” Grudda said.

The white-haired Hanning, dressed in a gray suit and tie and seated in a wheel chair, listed to the verdict impassively. His lawyer, Johannes Salmen, said they would appeal.

During the 20-day trial that dragged on over four months, the court heard testimony from around a dozen Holocaust survivors, many extremely elderly, who detailed horrific experiences, recalling piles of bodies and the smell of burnt flesh in Auschwitz.

I have no doubt that the death camps were horrible. Russian prison camps were horrible. The Andersonville prison in the American Civil War was monstrous. The Japanese did horrific things to Allied prisoners. I had family die in the Bataan Death March. Of course, the Rape of Nanking and the Turkish genocide of Armenians killed unknown numbers. The point being, war is horrible and industrial war is the most horrible. It’s why we should do what we can to avoid it.

Vengeance after war for the “crimes” of the losers is understandable. Hanging German officers and leading political figures for their crimes during the war made perfect sense. In this case, what the Nazis did was the logical end of Rouseau-ist moral philosophy and that scared the hell out of people in the West, as it should. They needed to find a way to pretend it was an aberration. The Nuremberg trial was an effective way of “proving” that the Nazis were outside the scope of Western moral philosophy.

Still, prosecuting a 94-year old guy, for anything, is of dubious value. It’s not like there had been a 70 year manhunt for this guy. He lived his entire life in plain sight. He did not go around bragging about his time in the war, but he could have been put on trial years ago if it was so important to justice. Clearly, it was not important enough 70 years ago or 50 years ago or even 20 years ago. It’s not like this old man was a danger to anyone or a flight risk.

It’s important now because the people in charge only have a list of bogeymen. They no longer have an affirmative argument for why they should rule and why their preferred system is best. The main argument against Trump, for example, is to chant “Hitler” or “Racist” over and over. The argument for maintaining the monstrosity that is the EU is, well, “Hitler!” Putting a corpse on trial for the Holocaust is just a morality play to remind everyone that the night is dark and full of terrors.

In the US, the Civil War often fills the role of the Holocaust. A mentally ill kid shoots up a black church and the people in charge restart the Civil War, tear down some Confederate flags and topple over some old statutes in the South. The message was clear. Do as we say or the KKK will be riding through the streets and Union Army will be forming on the Potomac. It’s a histrionic madness that is wildly out of proportion to the triggering event, but all they have now is this pointless vengeance.

Maybe Not

People who knock on doors and proselytize on behalf of some set of beliefs are people riddled with doubt about those beliefs and probably every other thing they claim to believe. The reason I know this is that if they were sure about the things they were saying, they would not care what I think about those things. They would not be on my doorstep trying to convince me to come around to their way of thinking. If they were so sure, they could just send me a post card or wait until I discovered the truth as they did.

The point here is that people trying to convince you of something, in almost all cases, are not doing it because of altruism. Sure, dad telling you not to drink and drive is doing it because he loves you. The cop telling you the same thing is doing it because he has a soul and hates seeing car accidents. Outside of those very narrow areas, people trying to convince you of something are either full of doubt and looking for validation or they are full of crap and looking for a sucker. Sometimes it is both.

I find myself thinking these thoughts whenever the robot future is pitched to me in news stories or by John Derbyshire in his podcast. In John’s case, the doomsday nature of the robot future is, I suspect, the main appeal. If the robot future promised puppies and ice cream he would dismiss the idea as silliness. In the case of news stories, my instinct is that the people pitching the idea really really want to believe it, so they try really hard to get everyone else to believe it. This piece is a good example.

One of the most convenient changes in the modern era of air travel has been the ability to check in online, drop your bags at the counter, and stroll off to security, potentially without having to speak to a single human. But when everyone else started doing the same thing, the lines at check-in got shorter, but the drop-off line got longer.
SITA, a Swiss telecoms firm specializing in the air transport industry, working in parternship with robotics firm BlueBotics, has a solution: Autonomous robots that check your bags at the curb.
SITA’s robot, called Leo, is being tested at Geneva Airport, the company said in a release late last month. To use the bot, passengers with luggage tap a few buttons on Leo’s touchscreen, scan their boarding passes, drop their bags in its cargo bay, and affix the luggage tags that Leo prints out. The bot then closes up its cargo area—so that no one can tamper with your bag while it’s in transit—and drops the bags off at a loading station, where a human drops the bags on a conveyor belt to be scanned and loaded onto the correct plane.

For starters, the person writing this has not been in an airport since the 90’s if their last memory is “drop your bags at the counter, and stroll off to security.” Maybe in fantasy land or at small airports for private aircraft this is the norm, but in normalville, standing in endless lines and suffering endless humiliations is the norm. I’ve been flying for decades and I don’t remember a time when air travel was anything but a hassle and it has not been made better by technology.

Putting that aside, there’s the fact that this wonderful leap into the robot future has existed for a long time. In America, many airports have kiosks where you check your bags. You slide your credit card, answer a few questions, get the bag sticker and then deposit your bag onto the belt. Maybe an attendant puts it on the belt, but that’s his only job and you have no reason to speak with him. After 9/11, DC airports had you put your bag through a screening machine first. Again, no humans involved.

Having a clumsy mechanical man handle the placing of the bags on the belt is hardly a great leap forward. It looks like a publicity stunt. That’s the thing with the robot future stories. They are short on practical specifics and long on predictions about how the clumsy mechanical man will soon be ruling over us as a mechanical overlord. Yet, we remain stuck in the clumsy and inefficient mechanical man stage. It always feels like we are being sold something that the seller does not truly believe. They just want to believe or pretend to believe it.

Don’t get me wrong. I tend to agree that automation is the great challenge to Western civilization in the long run, but it is the long run. No one reading this is going to live to see the day when they are enslaved by smart robots. In fact, few will see the day when smart robots are doing work in public places. That day is a lot further off than the futurists want to believe. Technologically, it is really hard and expensive to replicate even the most basic of human labor. Getting more complex stuff right and cheap is going to take a long time.

It’s the solar power narrative. For as long as I’ve been alive, I’ve been hearing about how solar is ready to take over the world and make fossil fuels obsolete. It never happens. The best we have are small panels for running a small devise like a traffic camera. We’ve had those for decades. The large scale projects turn into tax sinks and then white elephants. The solar companies spring up and then go bust. The glorious solar future always seems to be just over the next hill, along with electric cars and forever life.

What To Do About Islam

Terrorism from the Middle East got going in a serious way in the 1960’s and was allegedly spawned by the creation of Israel. Having failed to destroy Israel militarily, the Arabs set off on a policy of targeting civilians outside the Levant. The main actors at the time were Palestinians, but the rest of the Arabs, including Arab governments, eventually got into the act. Now, of course, we have these amorphous criminal organizations that exploit the global telecommunications system to recruit and direct lunatics all over the globe.

At the same time, Western involvement, and particularly US involvement, in the Muslim world has steadily increased. In the 70’s a handful of Americans worked in these countries, mostly in the oil business, but also as defense contractors. Today tens of thousands of Americans, plus equal numbers of Europeans are in these countries. That’s on top of the saturation of Western culture via the internet and television. Then there is the military aspect. America has been dropping bombs on Muslims since the 80’s.

No sane person can conclude that relations between the West and Islam are on the upswing. Thirty years ago, the typical Westerner had no reason to care about the Muslims. Today, it is all we think about, because every other week a Muslim goes bonkers and kills a bunch a people. To make matters worse, the flood of Muslims into Western countries is threatening the social fabric of the West. Think about it. We now have political candidates running on explicitly anti-Islamic platforms.

What is to be done?

The first thing to do is to ban all immigration from predominantly Muslim countries. Banning Muslim immigration is impossible as you can’t implement it, but you can halt immigration from countries like Afghanistan and Iran. The United States actually runs recruiting drives in these countries via something called a diversity lottery. There is no patriotic reason to be importing these people. The West is not short of low-skilled, low-IQ people so importing more of them makes no economic sense. Importing people violently hostile to the West is suicidal and it must end.

That still leaves the problem of illegal migrants. The West used to have no qualms about rounding up illegals and sending them back, but fear of being rude to strangers has paralyzed Western governments. There’s no reason to think this will change, but governments can make migration less attractive. Cutting off welfare benefits is the most obvious point of attack. Every Western country is creaking under the weight of social welfare programs. End all welfare programs to non-citizens.

Obviously, there are millions of Muslims living in the West and many have been here for a couple generations. The Orlando shooter was born in America and his father was a naturalized citizen. America has about 5 million legal Muslims, while Europe has over 44 million. Germany is 25% the size of the US and has far more Muslims. Given current fertility rates, these are dangerously high populations of people with a very poor history of assimilation. The West needs to think hard about encouraging reverse migration.

One way to do that is to offer cash bribes to leave. Some European countries are already doing this. It’s a form of Danegeld, but sometimes that’s what must be done. Many of the recent arrivals will jump at the cash bonus, figuring out that the party is over and they are better off going home. That’s a big part of all of this. The West needs to make it clear that Islam is not welcome in the West. Cutting off the welfare and paying them to leave sends that message and it discourages others from making the trip to the West.

Another tool that can be used to discourage Muslim migration is a hard ban on cousin marriage. Most Muslim countries continue to marry off daughters to family members. First and second cousin marriage should be banned and heavily fined. No marriage of this type should recognized. We have DNA tests to check this so it is cheap and easy to enforce. This is one of those things that sends a clear message, “You’re not welcome” to the Muslims.

All of this is incandescently obvious to anyone who has been paying attention. What’s remarkable about the age in which we live is that the things people have known and understood for thousands of years are now suddenly heretical. This is due to the fever that has gripped our rulers, but normal people fully understand the sensibleness of limiting Muslim migration into the West. We owe Muslims nothing and are under no obligation to destroy ourselves to accommodate them.

What is not obvious is that our good intentions have done a lot of harm to the Muslim world and as a consequence invited these manufactured problems to our door. The culture and habits of the West evolved in the West. The people of Europe evolved in Europe and in the culture they created. Exporting our culture around the world to people, wholly unprepared for it, has had the same impact as exporting smallpox to the Americas. What has made the Mohammedan go crazy is the endless assault on his culture by Western culture.

The West not only needs to stop bombing the Muslims, we have to stop flooding their world with our culture. Western governments, especially the US, have to halt the export of Western culture to the Muslim world. Guys like Sergey Brin will fight it as he wants to control the world via Google, but maybe it is time for Sergey to take two in the hat anyway, but that’s a post for another day. For now, the point is to halt the export of Western culture into Islamic countries via TV and Internet.

This also includes technology. What we fail to appreciate is how toxic Western technology is to these countries. They are not built for it. Our technology is like an infectious disease that seems harmless at first, maybe even beneficial, but then curdles into something that destroys the social fabric of these cultures. It’s why we have observed initial periods of great progress, followed by a shift to tyranny and then total chaos. It’s the pattern all over the Muslim world and the main driver is technology.

What happens is technology results in a material improvement in the lives of the people. They get better food, better medicine, better entertainments and better stuff. But then, this material improvement starts to disrupt the social arrangements and the ruling class uses the better technology to clamp down on dissent in very modern ways. As we see with the Turks, the result is authoritarianism. All over the Muslim world, the only stability comes either from despotism or backwardness.

Secular authoritarianism, however, sets off a counter-reaction where cultural elements begin to take on the secular authorities, the Islamic movements in the Middle East are not just religious in nature. They are counter arguments to Westernization. They are the response to tidal waves of foreign culture that are sweeping over Muslim lands. The West thinks it is helping by demanding democracy and shoving our values onto these people. Instead, we are creating fanatics who are dedicating themselves to fighting against what they see as an invasion.

Since this is going too long, let’s summarize it this way. The solution to the West’s Islam problem is a version of containment. The goal is to keep the Muslims bottled up in their lands. Limit their access to the West physically, but l also limit their access culturally. Cut them off from our TV and the Internet. Let them drift back to their traditional ways, even if that means living in tents and riding camels. The Muslim Middle East needs to be a reservation for the Muslim. The only role of the West is to make sure they don’t wander off the reservation.