The End Of The World

Back in the 1990’s, most people knew Bill Clinton was a crook and a degenerate, but people also knew he would never be held to account. An unspoken truth of the age was that a big part of the frustration with the Clinton crime family was really over the unwillingness of the so-called conservatives to get tough. The National Review types carried on like they were too good to get into the outrage over the endless stream of scandals surrounding Team Clinton. They were above that stuff.

As a result, talking about the Clinton shenanigans became a staple of talk radio, mostly because it was amusing, but also as a form of outrage porn. Every time one of them got away with some obvious lie, the phone lines would light up with people ready to talk about how angry they were about it. In other words, a big part of the Clinton hating was over the fact they kept getting away with it, because the political class, particularly the so-called principled conservatives, lacked the stones to do anything about it.

That’s an important thing to keep in mind while watching the Left wrestle with the fact Trump will not be sent to prison for treason. To normal people, the Russian collusion stuff was always a nutty conspiracy theory. It seemed obvious that the point of the Russian collusion narrative was to distract people from the fact the Obama White House was engaged in activity that would have made Nixon blush. If there was a conspiracy, it was the media running cover for the crooks in the Obama administration.

This understanding blinded people to what could be the most important part of the Russian collusion story. The Left really believed it. They really thought there was a secret conspiracy between Trump people and Putin people to work some secret magic to alter the 2016 election. They did not know the nature of this magic. In fact, it was probably supernatural, but the Left was sure it was real. This is something people outside the Progressive hive are just starting to realize. The Left really is that crazy.

The juxtaposition of the Clinton haters and the NeverTrump people is a good way of understanding the vast chasm between the Progressive worldview and that of normal people. The hatred of the Clintons was rooted in a grudging acceptance of the reality of modern politics. It was a lament, more than a set of beliefs. People knew they were crooks, but also knew the so-called conservatives were wimps and liars. Bill Clinton in the White House was the symptom of the disease that had infected the nation’s elite.

The NeverTrump stuff is something different. It’s rooted in a fantasy about how the world is organized and the role the Left plays in it. They really do believe in mysterious forces that operate on the fringes. They not only think there is a man behind the curtain, but that the curtain itself is part of an elaborate conspiracy. Most important, they deeply believe that the arc of history bends toward the Promised Land and that they are on the right side of history, leading the rest of us into the light of salvation. They really do think that.

It’s why their response to the Mueller report has been like the response to the sudden death of a child. They were not convinced some Trump people had some shady dealings with the Russians. They were sure there was an elaborate conspiracy that altered the election. That was the key part of their coping system for the last two plus years. The conspiracy altered the election. The arc of history was not altered. The bad guys were not able to legitimately defeat those on the right side of history. The devil real!

Cults have ways to deal with disconfirmation, but there must be a way to salvage some of the original core belief from the wreckage. If the aliens were supposed to arrive on Tuesday, but failed to show, the cult can explain this by claiming they got the dates wrong or that they failed to perform the proper ritual. In this case, the Left can’t seem to find a way to salvage the core belief from the wreckage, because the core belief had to be completely true in order to confirm their role in the Great Russian collusion narrative.

What we’re seeing with the Left is a child learning that they have not only been adopted, but they have been in a coma their whole life and everything they believe about themselves is a dream. Rachel Maddow right now is someone sure she was a Jewish TV lesbian, but has learned she is really white guy with two kids and an ex-wife, working at the Home Depot. Everything about who she was in the moral sense is not just false, it never existed. As a result, she never really existed. She was part of the fraud.

That’s why the audience has evaporated for these lefty chat shows. Conservatives will try to explain this in the same dimwitted way they explain everything, by focusing on the fact these shows promoted a fake story. In reality, we’re witnessing the collapse of an identity cult, built around the belief in a sinister conspiracy to snatch away the 2016 election from forces of light. The collapse of the central narrative is also the collapse of the core of this identity cult. These are now people without a reason to exist.

Bring Back The Hangman

It appears the Michael Avenatti story arc has reached its final phase, with his arrest by the FBI for trying to shake down the sneaker company Nike. Like everything else about this guy’s story, the events leading up to his arrest were an amusing mix of outlandish claims and ham-handed attention seeking. He was tweeting about how he was about to expose Nike for their crimes moments, before he was arrested by the FBI for his crimes. Even in custody, he is still working the grift that landed him in Federal custody.

What’s remarkable about this Avenatti story is not that he exists or that he has managed to hustle the left-wing media for a couple of years now. He actually had them giving him money to explore running for President. What’s remarkable about his story is that he is not all that uncommon. He’s more garish than most, owing to his heritage, but his type is becoming a common feature in public life. The most prominent politicians today are every bit as dishonest and corrupt. Ours is an age of the universal sociopath.

This proliferation of sociopaths is most certainly a new thing. A few generations ago, the rules of society would have prevented a character like Avenatti from getting to this level, as his demeanor would not have been tolerated. He simply would not have been granted an audience by the media, which is a big part of his story. In fact, it’s probable that his character cannot exist without social media. New social media not only makes it easy for stupid people to get on-line, but it makes it easier for grifters to exploit them.

That’s the truth about services like Facebook and Twitter. They did not invent the concept of social media or the public platform. Usenet was a very popular platform at the dawn of the internet culture. It’s fair to say the BBS was what initially drove amateur interest in the internet. Long before Mark Zuckerberg, message board communities were flourishing on-line, serving tens of millions of people. The thing was, you had to have a little savvy to reach these platforms and you needed some smarts to exploit them.

What the new platforms did was make it so a moron could get on-line. Phones come with Twitter and Facebook apps baked into the platform. In most cases, you can’t remove them even if you don’t use them. If you can operate a phone, you can be on these platforms, interacting with your fellow morons in minutes. What’s unique about this age is that the people who were encouraged to remain silent for most of human history have now been fitted with the tools to stand in the public square, bellowing like lunatics.

The stupid have always been catnip for the dishonest, so it stands to reason that the grifters would also flood in the public square, attracted by the stupid. Social media has become a hunting ground for the modern grifter. In a different age, Mike Cernovich would be a lawyer with an office behind a Vietnamese nail salon at the strip mall. Milo Yiannopoulos would have been working children’s birthday parties as a clown, who made the adults uncomfortable. Michael Avenatti would be selling real estate or used cars.

Now, go even further back and it is hard to imagine these types making it to adulthood, much less becoming public figures. For example, the serial killer is most likely a phenomenon of modernity. To get away with ritual killing, you have to live among people who don’t find it odd to be around strangers. If people started dying or disappearing in a small medieval village, people noticed. For most of human history, being a drifter or even a traveler was a good way to get killed by paranoid locals.

Of course, what we know about sociopaths like Avenatti is that their behavior did not start in late adulthood. He was a ripping people off as a kid. His inability to distinguish right from wrong probably would have gotten him killed by puberty in most times. Society was too near a run thing to tolerate these types of people. In fact, there’s good evidence that Western society deliberately removed these sorts of people from the breeding stock by the miracle of capital punishment. The executioner was essential to human civilization.

There’s pretty good evidence to suggest the prolific use of capital punishment raised western intelligence and provided the spark for what we think of us as the birth of modernity. By reducing the population of stupid people, the smart fraction increased. This led to a larger smart leisure class, who could then work on technological advances to overcome scarcity and the problems of human organization. More smart people made it possible for more smart people, so a cascading effect gave us modernity.

We know we are getting dumber now, and that may be due to the elimination of capital punishment, or possibly the fact we have eliminated the lethal consequences of stupidity, so the stupid are proliferating. Just as social media makes it possible for the proliferation of grifters, it’s possible that the end of capital punishment has allowed for the proliferation of sociopaths. In another age, these people either would have been killed in their youth or killed soon after reaching adulthood. Their reproduction would have been limited.

In short, what we may be experiencing is the result of western society evolving down a cul-de-sac, like the Panda. The proliferation of smart people resulted in a new social morality that permitted the flowering of a class of sociopaths and also a growing stock of stupid people on whom they can feed. It’s as if the Enlightenment unleashed a pathogen that made the left handed into status-seeking sociopaths and the right-handed into high-trust altruistic suckers. In time, the former has come to dominate the latter in the West.

Of course, no process continues into the future unabated. At some point, survival will require dealing with people like Michael Avenatti. If after a quick trial, he is hanged in a public square, the dynamics of society would quickly change. Being the slick talking grifter would plummet in status and even the dumb people in mass media would become afraid of them. The executions would proliferate until the balance of personality types in society was restored. In other words, it’s time to bring back the hangman.

Failure Analysis

For a time, it looked as if the “yellow vests” revolt was going to shakeup French politics by legitimizing populist issues. The protests were mainly focused on economic issues, but those issues are the sorts of things that highlight the divide between the cosmopolitan ruling class and the general public. That is the heart of the great political divide in the current age. The ruling class and its supporters are living a fantasy life paid for in a million small ways by the unorganized and ignored masses making up the general public.

That’s really what the yellow vest protesters were about initially. As is always the case with revolts, what got them in the streets were the little things, but those little things were symbolic of the bigger problem. The yellow vest originated from the nutty law that requires all French drivers to keep a yellow safety vest in their car. Whether or not having such a thing is a good idea is not really the point. It is the symbol of elite attitudes that result in the proliferation of thousands of such laws.

Half a year on now and it looks like the yellow vest revolt has followed the same arc as all previous efforts to oppose the prevailing order. In France the protest culture is a part of the political system. It’s not just a left-wing phenomenon, like it is in America. It’s how the political factions rally support and press their case to the public. A populist movement joining the system offered some hope that a genuine alternative could emerge. Instead, it appears that the establishment has found a way to corrupt and de-legitimize it.

Now, Scott McConnell is a yesterday man, stubbornly attached to a politics of a bygone era, but what he describes should be familiar to anyone who has followed dissident politics. What made the Gilets Jaunes initially effective was their authenticity. They were just regular people expressing their complaints the only way available to them. The fact that they had to go into the streets underscored their legitimacy. These were not the sort who engaged in protest. They voted and wrote letters to the editor.

The Gilets Jaunes are like the Tea Party movement in America. What made the Tea Party work initially was the fact it was organized by normal people, not political professionals with hidden agendas. Like the Tea Party, this ordinariness, and the lack of organizational structure, made the Gilets Jaunes vulnerable. At some point, the French equivalent of Antifa showed up to start smashing things. Muslim groups joined into the attack Jews on camera. In Paris, Gilets Jaunes is now just a weekly bit of anarchy.

Something similar happened with the Tea Party in America. Instead of radical leftists, it was political barnacles like the R Street crowd. These are the political shape-shifters, who always turn up in conservative circles. Their job is to co-opt and neuter anything resembling a legitimate challenge to the people in power. In the case of the Tea Party, they jumped in, wrestled control of the name and many of the organizations away from the grass roots and turned the whole thing into cover for the GOP establishment.

A common theme to all of these failed opposition movements is the decision to engage in the established political system. Once they connect to the system, the system releases a virus that either assimilates the new group, turning it into a feature of the system, or kills off the threat. The former case is a universal in life. When the king recognizes a threat to his rule, the first move is to buy off the threat. Offering him a position in the system, in exchange for him adding his legitimacy to the king and his ruling order.

The latter is the one that is most puzzling, as it suggests legitimate opposition lacks the right antibodies to function in a modern liberal democracy. A recent example in America was the alt-right. When it was a humorous on-line enterprise, operating outside the political system, it was effective at introducing paleocon ideas into the flow of social media. Those memes making sport of ruling class piety were highly effective. The alt-right operated like a highly diffuse guerrilla movement, using mockery and satire to undermine order.

Then Richard Spencer started imagining himself as the leader of a vanguard and started to stage protests and go on speaking tours. The shift from underground guerrilla movement to above ground political activism was a disaster. Quickly, Spencer became David Duke 2.0, which gave the Left cover to send in their street mobs. Woke capital joined in and the entire dissident scene was subjected to an ongoing pogrom that persists to this day. The alt-right exploded and has followed the Tea Party into the dustbin.

Decades ago, Sam Francis observed that the Buckley brand of conservatism was bound to fail, because it sought to engage in politics on Progressive terms. By engaging in conventional politics, Buckley was legitimizing not only the rules of the game, but the roles for the participants as created by the Left. Since the Left controlled the institutions, they would always set the rules so they would win and the Buckleyites would lose. That is, of course, exactly how things unfolded. Conservatism was a failure.

Something similar happened with the Tea Party, the alt-right and now the Gilets Jaunes in France. By trying to play by the rules, they legitimize that which they claim to oppose, at least at a meta-political level. It also removes from them the one weapon all outsider movements possess. That is the willingness to break the rules. The flipping over of tables inside the temple is how these movements gain attention and attract followers. To then be seen putting the tables back and sitting behind them robs the movement of energy.

Something else seems to be at work. These movements all suffered from poor leadership and poor organization. The first Tea Party folks were honest, energetic, but wildly naive about the reality of political organization. The alt-right figures that rose up in 2015 were good at getting attention, but incapable of building organizations. Richard Spencer is media savvy, but you would not put him in charge of anything. The Gilets Jaunes appears to also lack capable leadership, which is why they have been taken over by the Left.

What this suggests is that any legitimate opposition must first insulate itself from the political system. Its guerrilla phase cannot be where they start, but where the end, in order to function as a subversive subculture in opposition to the prevailing order. The Vietcong and the Khmer Rouge did not fully come out of the shadows until the prevailing order was collapsing. It was at that point they rushed into fill the void. If there is to be a legitimate opposition in the West, it is going to operate in the shadows.

The Grand Conspiracy

The modern age often seems chaotic and random, but there are fixed rules to human nature that transcend even this age. Despite the proliferation of gender as the preferred way of describing sex roles, biological sex still prevails. Boys and girls are still boys and girls, despite some loud attempts to create exceptions. Feminism has ruined a lot of female lives, but most women are still normal women. Human nature is immutable, despite the best efforts of the crazy people in charge to convince us otherwise.

One of those iron laws of life that will not go away, despite every attempt to pretend otherwise, is the Opposite Rule of Liberalism. Whatever the Left is howling about at the moment, you can be sure something like the opposite is the truth. Their need to deceive and their natural habit of projecting their sins onto others, combine to create a predictable part of Progressive culture. Wherever they are focusing the attention of their cult, find the spot 180 degree the opposite and you are getting close to the truth.

The release of the Mueller report is one of the great confirmations of this rule we have seen since the the Left’s reaction to the Tea Party. In 2015, as the Clinton campaign was struggling to deal with the slow releases of e-mails from WikiLeaks, they started howling about Russian hacking. The claim was Boris and Natasha had secretly gained access to the computer systems of the Clinton officials and the DNC. The point was to have the media focus on that rather than the contents of the e-mails being leaked.

The Russian hacking conspiracy soon morphed into Russian collusion and we have close to three years of frivolous investigations and media coverage about alleged collusion between Trump and Boris. The truth of course, using the opposite rule here, was that it was the Left colluding with the Russians, or someone, to undermine the election. That was really just the tip of the iceberg, as it turned out to be the FBI and the Obama White House conspiring to undermine the election. Once again, the opposite rule of liberalism holds.

Again, this is the tip of the iceberg. For years, the media has been peddling this nutty conspiracy, while at the same time waging jihad against what they consider to be conspiracy theories. The Progressive media is full of pink hat types scolding about the proliferation of conspiracies on line. CNN spearheaded the de-platforming of Alex Jones on the grounds he was spreading falsehoods. In truth, Alex Jones is a rock of sober-minded empiricism compared to the aluminum foil hate crazies of CNN.

Again, there’s that opposite rule again. The Left has been howling about conspiracy theories for several years. It turns out that it is the Left that is the primary peddler of conspiracy theories. In fact, it is not unreasonable to say the Left is nothing but a series of weird conspiracy theories now. Everything from gun grabbing to white privilege rests on the claim that mysterious forces, operating in the shadows, control daily life. The only way to counter these dark forces is for the shamans to perform the right sacrifices.

The truth is, the West is now ruled by a cult of primitives, who are incapable of dealing with the reality of the age. Instead, they cook up one nutty conspiracy theory after another to explain away that which they find upsetting. When Trump won in 2016, they could not accept that result, so they fell in love with the mother of all conspiracy theories. Even now, like a UFO cult, they cannot accept that it was all a big lie. If you want to know how they will respond to the Mueller report, here’s a preview that will hold up pretty well.

The thing about the conspiracy theories on the Left, versus the more conventional conspiracy theories, is that the Left’s theories are less plausible than anything coming from the Alex Jones types. Lizard people who look like us and live among us, but secretly control society is at least bound by physical reality. There could be a race of lizard people traveling the universe. The Left mostly relies on evil spirits and the supernatural to explain their conspiracies. All of their conspirators are dark forces operating in the shadows.

Think about how the Alex Jones types respond to their conspiracy ideas versus how the Left responds to their theories. The guys worried about the lizard people are spending their time learning about lizard people and interstellar travel. They create on-line groups to compare notes. The Left, in contrast, forms mobs to attack local statuary, believing the statues are casting evil spells on the locals. In comparison to the Left, the people worried about the lizard people come off as sober-minded and prudent.

Of course, the Left will never let go of this. It will be their JFK conspiracy, operating as a rallying point until Trump is gone. Mueller probably tried hard to find something he could use to support the theory. He was no doubt under intense pressure to find something to confirm it. His report being sequestered will feed a new round of conspiracies, but in reality, the opposite rule will apply here as well. The details of his report will reveal it was the FBI and Obama’s White House all along. That was the grand conspiracy.

The Custodial State

If you were to transport someone from the 1980’s to our age, they would be amazed by some things, like HD TV’s and streaming services. They would probably be a bit disappointed that the internet has not advanced very far or that cars are still pretty much the same as they were forty years ago. Of course, even the most jaded man of the 80’s would be shocked at the cultural revolution that has taken place. The thing that would be most shocking though, is the total collapse in social trust.

In the 1980’s, people generally thought most Democrats wanted to improve the lives of the working class and most Republicans wanted to protect the middle class. The media, while biased, had lots of people trying hard to get the facts to the public. Big business may have been motivated by greed, but most people in business were decent people. People who doubted everything were conspiracy nuts, who wore aluminum foil hats. 1980’s man would be astonished to see that only total fools trust anything in the public domain.

There are a lot of explanations for why no sensible person trusts anything now. The breakdown of homogeneous communities, mass immigration, the derangement of the civic religion by the Left, late phase empire and so on. All of these arguments are plausible in their own way and are all probably true to a degree. Human societies operate like the Julia set and the Fatou set. There are chaotic aspects that seem to defy explanation, but most of what happens in a society operates in a predictable manner.

An example of this may be how technology is changing a key relationship in Western societies that seldom gets addressed. That is the rise in the use of modern technology to insulate people from the consequences of their own behavior. This story on Zero Hedge about new Volvos threaten their drivers for driving drunk. The car will call the cops on you if it detects alcohol. Simply disabling itself is no longer seen as a enough to prevent people from self-harm, so now the car will initiate an intervention for the driver.

It is one thing to live in a world where no one can trust the public institutions. That’s something science fiction writers have imagined for a long time. There’s also nothing new with the surveillance state. The Orwellian idea of an omnipresent surveillance state, monitoring citizens as if they are prisoners is probably the most popular dystopian future in western pop culture. What no one thinks much about is a dystopian future where the state operates like an overly protective mother, rushing about to protect you from you.

That’s really what the Volvo business is about, when you think about it. It’s not about safety, as in protecting the innocent from the negligent. If that were the goal, the car would simply shutoff if the cabin sensors detected alcohol. The car notifying authorities is more like your teacher sending a note home to your parents, telling them you put gum in the hair of one of the other kids. In other words, Volvo is trying to protect you from you, with the threat of calling your parents if you don’t start acting responsibly.

Circling back to the rapid decline in social trust, what maybe happening is that these small technological changes are having drastic changes in our societies. Human societies are complex systems that have both a predictable, repetitive set of rhythms, but also a set of chaotic elements, that seem to be arbitrary. The predictable stuff, like putting up traffic speed cameras, has predictable results. People tend to be on their best behavior, as defined by social norms, when they know they are being watched.

Now, consider how children behave differently after exposure to the outside world. A part of growing up, at least it used to be, was finding out that the world was never going to be as forgiving of your mistakes as your mother. The adult world, relative to the safety of home, was a rough place. The normal process for a child transitioning from youth to adulthood was to go through a period of hyper-cynicism. Full maturity is when you realize the world is not out to get you, it is simply indifferent to your happiness.

In the evolving surveillance state, which promises to make sure citizens never have to leave the loving safety of mom, daily life is the repetition of that first realization that the world is a harsh place. That car with all the safety features did not keep you from hitting that tree and that seems unfair. The label on the shampoo bottle was not enough to prevent you from drinking it and that’s not right. Each of these realizations are met with greater demand for safety and greater efforts by the mommy state to protect us.

A great example is how gun control has become entirely feminized. In the 1970’s, gun control polices were about limiting crime. No one said it, but it was really about making it hard for blacks to get guns. It was a debate around facts about guns and crime. Today, gun grabbing is nothing more than an hysterical reaction by women to what they see on the news. It’s all about safety, by which they mean protecting people from themselves, not reducing crime. It’s mommy putting covers over the electrical sockets.

Perhaps one driver of the sudden decline in social trust is that technology now allows for the evolution of the custodial state. The future is not Orwell or Huxley, but both, operating like a mother and father, to protect us from reality. In this transition phase, modern people are regularly going through the jolt we associate with growing up, when you realize mom and dad were the only ones looking out for your interests. The cold wind of indifference and the loneliness it inspires, is making everyone into adolescent cynics.

Oligopoly

Way back at the dawn of the internet age, the people paid to promote the interests of the ruling elite came up with the phrase “new economy” to describe the rise of electronic commerce. The idea was that it was not just a different way of doing the same stuff, internet sites instead of catalogs, for example, but a new type of economics. The old idea of a business having a building, employees and profits, was being replaced by the virtual business that existed as idea on-line, without a defined physical presence.

This idea that we were about to step through the barrier between the world governed by classical economics into a new world controlled by new economics was very popular with the business press. Guys like James Glassman wrote books about stock valuations based on this new form of economics, where companies that had no assets and no profits, had stratospheric share prices. These predictions were hilariously wrong in the short term, but the whole new economy stuff has proven to be false in the long run too.

As Peter Thiel explains in his book, Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future, the key to this “new” economy is an idea as old as civilization. That is, the successful enterprise first seeks a monopoly or control of some bottleneck in the economy, in order to extract rents from the market. By gaining monopoly control of a market or critical juncture in a market, the enterprise is then able to operate like a highwayman, demanding money from those conducting normal commerce.

This is why technology companies quickly moved from creating innovative technology to creating barriers between themselves and competitors. The abuse of the patent system, for example, is about raising barriers to entry. There is nothing all that clever about what PayPal does, but they operate as a monopoly because they own patents on just about anything required to build a competitive service. The last mile of walling themselves off from competition is active collusion with the banks to keep out competitors.

The result is the new economy looks a lot like a very old economy, the one we used to call feudalism. A small number of people control vast swaths of property, forcing everyone else to accept a vassal relationship. They can effectively control entire sectors of the economy, simply by maintaining control of key points or by maintaining near monopoly status in certain areas. Google and Apple control the mobile phone market, by controlling the mobile OS. That’s why an open source alternative has never appeared.

That’s the real value of market dominance. A useful example from the classical period is how Athens rose to dominance after the Persian wars. The Athenians did not have to control every polis in order to be the regional hegemon. They had the biggest navy, so they could control the seas, which forced the other city states to submit to the leadership of Athens. In other words, controlling the choke point, the sea lanes, gave Athens control of commerce, which forced everyone else to follow the lead of Athens.

Just as the Greco-Persian wars shattered the old relationships in Greece, allowing Athens to transcend the other city-states, the internet shattered the old economic relationships, allowing these new robber barons to rush in and make themselves market hegemons. Now they are taking this power and doing the same for the flow of information and control of political discourse. This story about what Apple is plotting is a great example. The New York Times used to be a gatekeeper, but now they will be a vassal to Apple.

There are two things worth noting about the true nature of the “new” economy. One is it is more proof that a core tenet of libertarianism is false. Markets do not naturally devolve into ad hoc competitions with low barriers to entry. In fact, there is no such thing as a natural market. Without some central authority, willing to use force, to maintain a market, eventually a handful of oligarchs rise up to control the market. Once they control the market, they turn everyone else in that market into a vassal.

The other thing, the more important thing, is that the real enemy of the West is not our increasingly bizarre political class. In fact, their bizarre rantings are probably a symptom tied to the growing oligarchical power of the tech and finance giants. Lacking real power, the politic class is then free to indulge in bizarre behavior. The new oligarchs are subverting the political class by providing them with a lifestyle they believe they deserve and protecting them from competition. It’s why 2016 was so horrifying to them.

It’s also why in the aftermath of 2016, the oligarchs invested heavily in stamping out dissent. They were sure their “soft” methods had worked to rig all elections as a choice between their two preferred choices. The results of 2016 refuted that, so they have gone to the use of “hard” power with naked censorship and de-platforming. Soon, the oligarchs will control enough to make sure the theater of democracy is exactly that, theater. This may be why Trump is so eagerly becoming a stooge for the people he once opposed.

March Grab Bag

This was one of those weeks, where the show could have been much longer, as I had no shortage of items that bugged me in some way. It’s not a busy news time, but for whatever reason there are lots of little things that got my attention. It’s also a lot easier to verbally grapple with items in the news than items in the history books. Most of what constitutes the news today is aimed at the sort of people who never got why the movie Idiocracy was funny to the rest of us. The news is a 24×7 argument against democracy.

I was tempted to just do a whole show on Ben Shapiro, but I think I may skim his new book first. The nonsense that comes from Conservative Inc, especially the Zion division, is great material for a book review. My review of Goldberg’s book got a ton of traffic and I enjoyed writing it. I’m thinking the Shapiro book is every bit as vapid and stupid as everything else churned out by these guys. When you actually examine what these guys say in detail, it’s clear they have the depth of a teenage girl.

Beyond the shallowness, watch the video of Shapiro I have linked below. The image of this creepy little goblin, who is right out of central casting, standing in the shadow of Reagan, captures the sense of the age perfectly. Late stage empire is a age where mediocrities like Shapiro pick over the bones of the dead culture. His whole act is based on convincing decent people that we can go back to a better time, when off-stage he and his sort work to make sure sure that can never happen. He’s a shameless grifter.

This week I have the usual variety of items in the now standard format. Spreaker has the full show. I am up on Google Play now, so the Android commies can take me along when out disrespecting the country. I am on iTunes, which means the Apple Nazis can listen to me on their Hitler phones. The anarchists can catch me on iHeart Radio. YouTube also has the full podcast. Of course, there is a download link below. I have been de-platformed by Spotify, because they feared I was poisoning the minds of their Millennial customers.

This Week’s Show

Contents

  • 00:00: Opening
  • 02:00: Progressive Paranoia (Link) (Link)
  • 12:00: Unreasonable Men (Link)
  • 22:00: The Public Space (Link) (Link)
  • 32:00: Bust Out America (Link)
  • 42:00: Carny Folk (Link)
  • 47:00: A Deceitful Little Bugman (Link) (Link)
  • 52:00: The Minstrel (Link)
  • 57:00: Closing 

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The Future Of Media

Forty years ago, just as the microprocessor was making itself known to people in their daily lives, your news and entertainment options were pretty simple. For most people, news meant the newspaper or the evening TV news. Some cities had competing papers, but most had just one by the 1980’s. Talk radio was just coming on-line, so there was some alternative for politics to the Progressive media outlets. Otherwise, your information about the world came through three narrow pipes, newspapers, TV and radio.

Even if you lived through those dark times, it is still hard to imagine what it must have been like to have such limited choices. If you wanted to interact with a guy like Mike Cernovich, you had to wait until he tried breaking into your tool shed. If you were into Alex Jones type stuff, it meant meeting a guy behind the library where he distributed his mimeographed newsletters. Despite these deprivations, people managed to get along. In fact, there’s good evidence that people were happier without the 24×7 information fire hose.

That’s the first little clue that maybe the proliferation of news and information channels is not entirety driven by demand. Another little clue is the fact that commercial on-line sites appealing to a national audience can’t turn a profit. The rounds of lay-offs at second-tier sites like Buzzfeed and Huffington Post suggest there is no way to make money selling content to a broad audience. Niche sites and small operators can make it work, but their model does not scale up. It requires a subsidy of some sort.

Of course, this tracks with what happened to the local newspaper. When they had a monopoly and dominated retail advertising, they could scrape by. Once exposed to market forces, the daily newspaper has continued to shrink. The ones that make it as a commercial enterprise are very small and the larger ones are the public relations department for an oligarch. In the near future, most small and mid-sized cities will find themselves without a newspaper at all, unless a local rich guy has one.

We’re probably on the cusp of seeing something similar happen with cable television and cable news channels. ESPN has been feeling the pinch as people cut the cord. In most markets, ESPN gets about seven dollars per month from all cable subscribers, whether they watch or not. Cord-cutting is threatening that old model, which means lots of these channels will go away. The most likely outcome is a few services like Amazon, Apple and Hulu that provide your content. No more channels, just categories.

The one area where contraction does not seem to be on the horizon is the amateur content side of things. Live streams are popping up all over. The number of dissident YouTube channels has grown to a point where it is hard to track them. Podcasts exist for every conceivable audience. Again, the small footprint guys can do well enough to make a living from it, but this model does not scale up. One guy making videos from home can do well enough to live. A company with overheads cannot make it work.

One reason internet media operations cannot scale up is that sharing is integral to selling ads for the site. Sharing stories, video and comments brings eyeballs to the site. The trouble is, the cost of pulling that off for a broad audience, exceeds the revenue from selling ads on the site, so the site has to go the paywall route. Paywall content cannot be shared, so this solution actually makes the problem worse. In other words, you can be a paywall site or an ad-based site, but you can’t be both and you can’t be big.

The exception, of course, is when an oligarch owns the operations. Carlos Slim subsidizes the New York Times, so he can guarantee positive coverage in America of himself and his allies in Lebanon and Mexico. Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post for the same reason. Oligarchs have different motivations than companies, which is why corporate ownership is not a solution. Verizon expects to make money from the Huffington Post, which is why they are cutting costs and will eventually drop the site.

What all of this suggests is that we could be heading back to the old model of information, where the general public has a few large media pipes they can tap into for news, entertainment and information. If you’re a “prime” citizen, you get most of your information from Jeff Bezo approved sources. If you are an Apple Nazi, then you get your information from sources approved by the current degenerate running Apple. These pipes will not be commercially viable, but they will serve the political interests of their owners.

Small operators will exist, but as vanity projects and boutique businesses serving a niche audience. If you are really into the local sportsball team, you will have a pay site you can join where you get custom content just for that sportsball team. These kinds of sites have a proven model, where they have one or two owners, who keep the overheads low and stick to a very narrow audience. They can supplement their revenue by feeding the bigger players information, as long as they pose no threat to the big pipe.

Of course, given the outsourcing of censorship by the state to these commercial players, it means dissident content will be back to guys distributing mimeographed newsletters in the supermarket parking lot. Maybe the oligarchs will tolerate a limited amount of it on-line, as a relief valve, but they don’t appear to be the tolerant types. Even so, the public will be happy to return to their old ignorance, so returning to an updated version of the old model will probably be embraced, as long as it evolves slowly and gently.

Esoteric Political Language

Politics in the modern age was symbolic, as much as practical, as the state had grown so large that meaningful change was going to be gradual. In fact, change was so slow that it transcended generations. One generation of politicians would tinker around with the rules and the next generation would realize the consequences. By the time the consequences of Johnson’s Great Society were felt, the people who pushed it were mostly out of office, so it was the successors who had to deal with the ramifications.

In the post-modern age, some may call it the technological age, political language is becoming esoteric, rather than symbolic. The language and discourse is not supposed to be sensible, but rather designed to test the boundaries of the formal political language. It is a game, of sorts, to figure out how to insert bits of heresy and forbidden topics into the political discourse, in a way that is only obvious to the people doing it. The point of the effort is to get people talking obliquely about forbidden topics and themes.

The most recent and best example of this is the Pepe the frog stuff in 2016. It was not just a pointless gag. It was about testing limits. Initially, it was about getting forbidden subjects into the mainstream of social media in a way that the designer could understand, but that made little sense to others. Eventually, a general awareness of what was happening turned the Pepe image into a symbol. Clownish political hucksters then adopted it as a symbol of their edginess, because it carried with it an implication of radicalism.

Another great example of this is the word “cuckservative” that got going around the same time as Pepe. One of the more amusing things during that period was watching members of Conservative Inc. come to understand what it meant. These are people who thought they were the face of dissident America, so they initially did not understand the term was a slur against them. Slowly, they understood and then the term moved from an esoteric insider gag to a symbol, denoting a line between dissidents and conservatives.

Currently, a similar dynamic is at work with the long shot candidacy of Andrew Yang, the Taiwanese businessman running in the Democratic primary. Dissidents, unhappy with Trump, initially landed on Tulsi Gabbard, due to her anti-war positions. The trouble with Gabbard, though, is her positions are explicit, rather than symbolic or esoteric, so supporting her does not serve the purpose of dissident actors using esoteric political language to test limits. That’s where Yang’s UBI proposal comes in.

The Universal Basic Income is a dumb idea, but that’s part of its appeal to those engaged in esoteric politics. The point of backing it and Andrew Yang is to take the reality of modern politics, that it is a bust-out, where non-white tribes loot the country, and pushing it to the limit. If non-whites have their snout in the trough, then everyone should have their snout in the trough. It’s also an oblique way of introducing white identity politics into the discussion. White Nationalists want their thousand bucks.

The Yang phenomenon is more than just an internet fad. According to 538, Yang is now a serious candidate and as such he is getting serious attention. It is the epitome of esoteric politics that an Asian candidate will become a cat’s paw for a wide range of issues important to white Americans, but forbidden in conventional discourse. You can be an open white nationalist, by sporting a YangGang ball cap, while BoomerCons are getting beat up for wearing their old MAGA hats to their grand kid’s ballgame.

Esoteric political language is not simply about camouflaging taboo subjects. That’s never worked, as evidence by the collapse of libertarianism. That was always the truth about libertarian politics. Outside of the weirdos and potheads, people identified with libertarian ideas as a form of implicit whiteness. Free markets and meritocracy assume that biological reality will take care of the rest, leading to a restoration of heritage America, but the obviousness of this is why it never got very far and is now a joke.

That’s what is different with things like the UBI support among white nationalists. It’s not just a proxy for white identity. It takes the logic of identity politics as practiced by the ruling class and pushes it to the boundary. It’s going to be hard for them to dismiss Yang as a white supremacist or his UBI idea as some sort of honky plot against the browns. In fact, any effort to do so will make them look ridiculous. That’s the point of esoteric political language. At its best, its critics confirm what they wish to deny.

It’s possible that esoteric political language is a natural result of democracy. In the Cold War, threat of nuclear annihilate meant politics remained grounded in the real, even as it relied on symbolism to communicate ideas. After the Cold War, the Clinton years were mostly about symbolism. The Bush years started the same way, but then curdled into a blend of symbolism and mendacity. Bush was the opposite of what he claimed. In the Obama years politics became an absurdist pantomime.

Perhaps this phase we’re entering is something new, where the dull-witted masses participate in democracy, but have no practical influence, because they are manipulated by the smart fraction using esoteric language to avoid plunging into the abyss. Maybe it is just another facet of late-stage liberal democracy. Maybe it is just the death rattle of empire, where practical politics is nothing but frightening choices, so the political language descends into a weird competition to reach some absurd limit.

The Fiction Of Democracy

Some on this side of the great divide have come to accept that the West is not going to vote itself out of its current decline. If the West is to survive, it will require a radical change in the political arrangements outside the democratic apparatus. Not everyone on this side accepts that. Some still cling to the hope that the ruling class will have an epiphany and begin to accept reality. Others think that if enough of the public wakes up to what’s happening, this will force the political class to yield.

It is an interesting question as to how people in the West, particularly heritage populations, really think about democracy. The new comers mostly think democracy is free stuff and a comfortable lifestyle, but the heritage population still has the residue of civic nationalism The Left, of course, despises democracy, despite their yelping about it. They see democracy as a means to an end. The rest have been conditioned to say they think liberal democracy is the best, but how many really believe it is unknown.

It is a worthwhile question to consider when watching the Brexit drama unfold over the next two weeks. The official version of this process is the British people had a referendum and they voted to leave the EU. The law put March 31, 2019 as the deadline for leaving and Parliament had until that date to work out a deal with the EU. If there was no deal, then Britain unconditionally leaves the EU. A deal to leave slowly and gently, however, would need to pass through Parliament. That was the orderly process laid out for Brexit.

As of this writing, the government of Theresa May has tried several times to get the deal she struck with the EU through parliament. The deal is an insult to the intelligence of the average British subject, so it has failed to get through parliament. The deal she cut is to leave the EU in name only. Britain would continue to allow Brussels to dictate terms on things like regulation, trade and most especially immigration policy. Those rooting for democracy have to be appalled by the craven cynicism of this ploy.

The Commons Speaker, which is like the head parliamentarian, ruled that Theresa May cannot submit her deal for a vote again, unless it is substantially altered, which is an impossibility at this point. That would mean Britain is headed for a hard Brexit at the end of this month. It would also mean that a responsible democratic government would now be moving to inform and prepare the public for that eventuality. Instead, the government is scheming with the EU to delay everything so they can have a second referendum.

Americans are familiar with this gag. Back in the dark days when marriage was linked to biological reality, left-wing agitators would get homosexual marriage initiatives onto state ballots. These initiatives would fail, but the agitators would get them on the ballot again the next election. The Left sees democracy as a bus. Once it takes you to your desired stop, you get off. That means they demand people keep voting on their issues until the people get the correct result. Once that happens, no more democracy.

This is the scheme the “Remainers”  have always had in their back pocket. It’s why they have been happy to drag out this process for years, right to the deadline. This week, they will argue that the country is not prepared to meet the legal deadline, so there has to be a delay in the process. Of course, the point of the delay is to then get a second vote setup for later in the year. If that vote goes their way, that’s it. If they lose again, then the whole process begins anew as they scheme to undermine the results.

For Americans, watching this unfold is useful in understanding why Trump has become Jeb Bush. After the 2016 election, we saw a parade of Washington politicians stagger around shell-shocked at the result. What we did not see is how they immediately got to work plotting with one another as to how to undermine the new administration and the will of the public. Just as the political class in Britain has spent the last few years undermining the Brexit result, official Washington has worked tirelessly to undermine Trump.

Democracy can only work if the people in elected office and the political system see the will of the people as legitimate. They have to respect the system as much as the voters, in order for the system to function as designed. The trouble is, democracy selects for the cynically ambitious and sociopaths. The former sees the public as suckers to be fleeced, while the latter simply enjoys lying and deceiving. For democratic politicians, democracy is mostly just a game they play to amuse themselves.

For the public, democracy inevitably becomes a weird game of Russian roulette. In every election, no matter how hard they study the choices, the results are almost random. You vote to leave the EU, and three years later you’re voting on the same issue again or maybe the vote was ignored entirely. People forget that the French voted several times on joining the EU and all of those votes were ignored. In fact, most of what we see happening in the West has never seen any ballot anywhere. Immigration is an obvious example.

At some point, the absurd uncertainty of voting becomes obvious to even the most delusional civic nationalist. It’s why democracy always ends in authoritarianism. The certainty of a dictator, even a bad one, beats the randomness and uncertainty of the democratic process. There are probably plenty of Brits who would welcome the monarch taking control of the government again. Even the daffy Prince Charles is an upgrade over the circus of Parliament. At least the ceremonies would be fun.