Strange Days

Way back in the time before corona, it was conventional wisdom that shutting down the economy would have dire consequences for the economy. Whether you were on the panic side or the skepticism side, you were sure that locking down the economy was going to be bad for the economy. The stock market losing a third of its value in a week seemed to confirm it. No matter the truth of the virus, the consequences was going to be an unprecedented economic depression.

Here we are four months on and the world does not look like anyone imagined it when this all started. The promised bodies in the streets never materialized. The virus has thus far been a sever flu season hyped up by mass media. The promised depression has not made an appearance. The streets are still mostly empty during the work day and many businesses are still closed. Those that are open have all sorts of restrictions and they seem to have fewer customers.

What we don’t have is people out banging their pots and pans demanding the government do something about the economy. A lifetime ago a handful of white people showed up at state capitols demanding the end of the lock downs, but that soon gave way to swarms of blacks and Antifa promising to burn the cities. Otherwise, the productive portion of society seems to have gone back to sleep. Those working from home, work from home and those not working stay home.

The weekly jobless claims say that 30 million Americans are currently unemployed, but no one seems to notice or believe it. Of course, no one should believe the official statistics from the government and other sources. The only thing true about these numbers is they are constantly revised. We do know that 30 million people are still collecting unemployment benefits at the moment, so at least that many people are not working, but would like to be working.

The virus and the economy are a good example of partisanship. The panic crowd, which overlaps considerably with the anti-Trump, Hamilton listening set, was so sure the virus was a plague sent by the gods because of Trump they are convinced the hospitals are overrun and people are dying in the streets. Similarly, the skeptics of modern economics are so sure the system cannot last, they believe we are in a grinding depression that will explode into civil unrest at any moment.

What we are living through right now is probably one of those times when the partisan framework gives way to a new partisan framework. Perhaps in liberal democracy there needs to be a regular molting of the old partisan skin so a new one can emerge and refresh the debate. After all, forty years ago, the Left was endlessly going on about free speech and the dangers of corporate media. Today, it is the Right that champions speech and opposes corporate media.

Putting that aside, what we are seeing in the economy runs counter to pretty much everything we have been told for generations. The government should not be able to manufacture trillions of dollars without causing hyperinflation. This was something everyone, Left and Right, knew was true not so long ago. Here we are with the US debt at 23 Trillion, a number so large no one can imagine it. So large, no one bothers discuss it anymore. No one cares about the debt.

Similarly, we have been told for generations that the US savings rate was so low that the typical American could not afford to skip a paycheck. Small business was so strapped it could not go a month without business. We’re four months into the lock downs and we don’t have soup lines. Instead, Americans are paying down credit card debt at a record clip. In fact, credit card debt is now the lowest it has been in over a decade and headed for unprecedented lows.

One driver of the credit card debt decline is the collapse in spending. This makes sense, given those empty streets and closed shops. Still, people worried about money tend to hoard cash, rather than pay down debt. You can always tell the credit card company to go screw, but you can’t do that with the landlord, the mortgage company or the grocery store. Contrary to conventional economic wisdom, Americans are choosing to pay down their debts right now.

The weirdness in the economy is just one item. No new movies or television have come out since the panic and no one seems to care very much. Sports entertainment has been shuttered and no one seems to care. All of the spring and summer youth sports have been cancelled. This time of year, kids into baseball, lacrosse, soccer and big-time football would normally be in summer leagues. Their parents would be toting them around the country. None of that is happening.

You can probably spend the better part of day listing the things that used to be a fixed part of daily life that are now gone. More important, they are gone and no one seems to notice or care. Talk to people with kids in the summer sports and they will tell you the kids have quickly adjusted. They are doing other things. Parents with small kids are quickly adjusting to life at home with the kids around all day. Kid sounds are the background music of Zoom sessions.

The point of all this is we are like people who have been dumped out of their canoe in the rapids and we are now being swept down river. All sorts of things are happening to us and around us, but we have no way of getting our bearings. The thought of getting back into canoe has long passed. Now it is just a matter of surviving each minute until the river calms or we bash our head into a boulder. We have no perspective and no way to gain perspective until we reach flat water.

That means we really have no idea where this will all end. Maybe that’s why there is a strange calm over daily life. Maybe that’s why people are instinctively paying down debt and hunkering down. It may not make total sense, but in uncertain times, simplifying the household finances becomes a point of stability. Again, it is hard to know, as we are all just being swept along. Still, the one thing we can know is that we are being swept along by forces outside our control.

Note: The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is like a tea, but it has a milder flavor. It’s hot here in Lagos, so I’ve been drinking it cold. It is a great summer beverage.

For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!

The American Drama

One of the sports leagues announced recently that they intend to get rid of the white national anthem before games and play the black national anthem. Most white people, of course, were surprised to learn there is a black national anthem. Racists were momentarily excited, thinking that maybe blacks now had their own homeland, but that was not the case. Instead, it turns out that the black national anthem is a poem written a century ago by black civil rights activists.

It is an interesting bit of history that is worth considering. The poem itself reads like a call to black unity. The celebration of their new found freedom does not indicate what they hope to do with it, but there is a prayer to God that they will keep on the righteous path to victory, whatever that means. A cynic cannot help but notice that the poem and the musical performance was really aimed at the white Progressives that saw black abolition as their Christian duty.

It is a good reminder that the history of black civil rights can probably be best explained by the phrase, “Now what?” After the Civil War, the blacks were freed, but then everyone, including the former slaves stood around asking, “Now what?” The people who did the freeing did not have an answer, so everyone else was left to sort it out. The people in the Old South, black and white, had to come up with new living arrangements and nature, as it always does, took its course.

Something similar happened after the Civil Rights movement. Legal segregation and discrimination were eliminated and then everyone was left to wonder what will come next, but the civil rights champions had no answers. After a couple of decades of inaction, the final resolution was a few statues of Martin Luther King and a federal holiday for him. The efforts at forced integration were slowly abandoned in all the meaningful areas and we were back to where we started.

The cold-hearted cynics have always said that white Progressives and their fellow travelers just see blacks as another weapon in the Cold Civil War. If they actually cared about the condition of real blacks, they would address the horrific crime levels and social pathology that immiserate blacks in America. Instead, they periodically unleash black crime waves on the bad whites, along with lectures about social justice. In other words, none of this has anything to do with blacks.

That’s certainly true, but it mistakenly asserts a consciousness of action to the Left that probably does not exist. Talk to your self-righteous lefty about the current ructions and they have no idea why they are out in the streets ululating about racism. Like a trained circus animal, they are responding to prompts and expecting certain rewards. You, the racist bad white, are supposed to get vexed with them, so they can feel the dopamine rush that comes from self-righteous indignation.

This lack of consciousness is better observed in something that is less radioactive at the moment. Disney has now added the musical Hamilton to its subscription offering, causing every Progressive in America to sign up for it. The play has become something like the old musical Cabaret. Instead of being a show about Nazis, Hamilton is a show about social justice. The sound track is something like “Horst-Wessel-Lied” for the modern Left. It’s more than a musical for them.

When you press them on why they like it so much, they cannot explain it. A paranoid conspiracy type would be forgiven for thinking that maybe there is a subliminal message in these songs. As soon as a person prone to Progressive fanaticism hears the soundtrack, he spends hours listening to it. A couple of years ago when the soundtrack was released, it became a moral signifier like an Apple product. The good lefty would ostentatiously reveal he was listening to it.

This is where you see the total lack of reason and introspection on the part of Progressives caught up in the ecstasy of these moral panics. Hamilton was not black and he was certainly not a social justice warrior. In fact, he was probably the one Founder who was the least in favor of popular government. He is an unlikely hero for people claiming to be the liberators of the oppressed and the champions of all-inclusive liberal democracy, but that’s where they are.

That brings us back to the black national anthem. Like everything else about race relations, that poem was never about blacks or their disposition. It was written to titillate the good whites in the halls of power. It was their pets obsequiously performing a ritual for them. Similarly, Hamilton is just feel-good revisionism for white liberals. A bunch of blacks perform for their white masters in a way that flatters the master. Race is just another popular theme in the Progressive Dionysia.

There is no shortage of analysis trying to explain the insane behavior of mobs pulling down statues. All of it from outside the Progressive hive misses the point, because it projects reason and consciousness of thought onto the performers. What’s happening is these people are just that, performers. They are unconsciously playing a role, like participants in a pagan ceremony. They are doing so for their Progressive audience, who cheers and sobs after each statue is toppled.

This is the real source of power of the Left. It is not that they control the institutions or control the media. Those are consequences, not causes. Their real power is they control public morality and the expression of it. All public rituals are funneled through left-wing mythology, drawing in friends and foes, all of whom play a role in the great ongoing morality tale of liberal democracy. Like pre-reformation Catholic Church, the Left controls the supply of salvation.

Note: The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is like a tea, but it has a milder flavor. It’s hot here in Lagos, so I’ve been drinking it cold. It is a great summer beverage.

For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!

Right-Wing Marxism

There was a time when conservatism was defined as a lack of ideology, by which Russel Kirk meant ideology in the Marxist sense. The Marxist defined ideology as a set of beliefs that were assumed to be true, but were, in fact, the product of economic and social conditions of the time. The ideologue, whether he knew it or not, believed in a collection of things he assumed were true in all times and all places, but were only true in his time and place. Conservatives rejected this argument.

That was a long time ago. For generations now, conservatism has succumbed to that old Marxist understanding of ideology. What that usually meant is the so-called conservatives would figure out the position of the Left on some issue and then take an alternative position. Not necessarily the opposite, as they have always been careful to avoid being called reactionary by the Left. This is, of course, evidence that they are reactionary, but reactionaries have some self-awareness.

A good example of this is this piece in the American Conservative. The writer is someone calling himself Charles Marohn, but his friends call him Chuck. He is the president of something called Strong Towns, which promotes itself as an advocacy group in support of rebuilding local community. Of course, it is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Here is their tax filings. Their language and choice of media outlets suggest they are conservative or right-leaning.

The best one can say about it, however, is it is a mix of misguided libertarianism and Breitbart-tier reaction. Consider this line. “After all, there is no greater distortion of the market than local zoning codes, and there are few bureaucracies doing more harm to property rights and freedom than local zoning offices.” This is right out of libertarian market worship. An actual conservative would ask, “Do these local zoning laws reflect the attitudes and customs of the local community?”

Nowhere in the piece is there any discussion about what the local people may want or how these zoning laws fit in with local customs. Instead, the author is frazzled over the prospect that the market, peace be upon it, may be vexed with these laws. Even more vexing, suburban voters have somehow managed to get the Federal government to back these zoning laws. In this case, it means rules against building tenements and trashy commercial development in white suburbs.

In other words, his definition of conservative simply means opposing anything that impedes the marketplace. Further, he points out that these sorts of zoning laws started in the New Deal years. There’s where you see the Pavlovian aspect of modern conservatism. Instead of judging the thing in question against a set of accepted principles, they just ask if Democrats were for or against it. Conservative Inc. better hope the Left never takes a strong stance against suicide.

That’s where you see that conservatism, rather than being a rejection of ideology as the Marxists define it, has become an ideology, one that compliments and supports the prevailing ideology of the Left. In the case of single-family zoning laws, there is no consideration of their efficacy. The writer does not bother to ponder why these laws exist in the first place. Instead, he just assumes they are bad because the Left once supported them and they violate market absolutism.

Of course, he does not address why we have zoning laws prohibiting the demolition of the suburbs with tenement blocks. The Left destroyed those old white ethnic neighborhoods in the cities, by unleashing a black crime wave starting in the 1960’s that drove whites from the urban areas. Twenty years ago, the legendary quantitative blogger, La Griffe du Lion, pointed out just how quickly blacks began to prey on urban whites as their population grew.

At least with the Obama administration, they were honest about why they wanted to destroy the white suburbs with tenements full of blacks. They hated white people and they hoped to reclaim some urban real estate. The game is to change the zoning laws in these white suburbs, so builders can erect apartment blocks. The Federal government, coordinating with the local Democrat machine, then fills them with blacks from the nearest city, using Section 8 housing vouchers.

Toward the end of the piece, he writes, “The progressive left has discovered that single-family zoning has racist underpinnings. That’s great, because we should now have no problem finding common cause for repealing this most distorting of regulations, one that the federal government never should have forced cities to adopt to begin with.” Instead of using this observation to discuss why these zoning laws exist, he falls victim to the fallacy of Chesterton’s fence.

There is another part to the Marxist definition of ideology. Once one accepts that beliefs are shaped by conditions, you no longer have to think too much about the truth content of political beliefs. Your opponents are simply the victims of false consciousness, while your ideas reflect the interests of your side. This inevitably leads to both close-mindedness and fanatical zeal. Any questioning of your side is heresy, while the other side’s arguments are assumed to be without merit.

This is where conservatives find themselves today. They are confined to a moral ghetto created for them by the Left. On the one hand, any new ideas, especially those from the Right, are rejected out of hand. On the other hand, they are completely defined by their opposition to whatever the Left is doing at the moment, but snugly within the confines of the moral orthodoxy. Conservatism has been completely stripped of the ability to question and debate political reality.

This is also why conservatism has turned into a racket. The people inside this maze of right-wing institutions have been imprinted by ideology. They can only see the world in terms of partisanship, a term coined by Lenin, by the way. Of course, the same is true of left-wing institutions. They treat their enemy as an indefatigable foe that is always right there ready to pounce. In reality, both Left and Right are exhausted ideologies and exist like two drunks leaning on one another for support.

Note: The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is like a tea, but it has a milder flavor. It’s hot here in Lagos, so I’ve been drinking it cold. It is a great summer beverage.

For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!

The Noosening

For those on this side of the great divide, the NASCAR noose hoax played out in an unexpected fashion. Instead of the fraud going undetected for a month until some clever sleuth uncovered the truth, this time the hoax was revealed in real-time. Usually the Left is better at concealing the truth long enough for another hoax to come along and push the first hoax down the memory hole. That way, anyone talking about the old hoax is charged with being a racist conspiracy theorist.

This time it was different, as the FBI flew in an army of investigators to hunt down the racist before he could noose again. Why they responded with 15 agents is a question no one will bother to ask them. Did they really think this was true? Do they swing into action like this for every noose warning? Did Bill Barr suspect a hoax and send the FBI in to expose it before it could be forgotten? All of these reasons seem unlikely, but the FBI responded with overwhelming force for a reason.

Putting that aside, the absurdity of this hoax bears some examination. The supposed cause of the panic was a garage door pull-down that had been there probably since the last garage door pull-down was replaced. The old one, most likely, looked a lot like the new ones as it is a common thing. Whoever claimed it was a noose was either extremely stupid, insane or so filled with a sense of entitlement that he just assumed everyone had to accept his story about the noose.

There is a strong possibility that the truth is something different. These facilities are not open to the public. They have lots of security. In this age that means cameras recording everything that moves 24-hours per day. There is a good chance the footage made clear that there was never a noose in the garage, so they quickly came up with the story about the garage door pull-downs. It’s better to be thought a moron than to having to admit to being a fraudster. Just look at Jussie Smollett.

That is a useful comparison for lots of reasons, but the one to watch here is how Wallace reacts to being outed as a fraud. As of now, he is taking the Smollett approach and demanding you believe him rather than your lying eyes. It is one of those examples where you see how extreme entitlement is what is driving this stuff. Wallace has lived a charmed life, but he assumes he is entitled to more. So much more, in fact, that anyone who dares say “no” to him must be evil.

It is an unexpected result of the Left’s weaponization of blacks against normal white people the last 70 years. They have always expected blacks to be a pit bull on a chain they can use to terrorize white people. For the most part that has been the case, but blacks have been internalizing Progressive race speech to the point where they have come to see themselves as a sacred people. The endless doting and fawning has convinced them they are exempt from the rules.

This is most evident with successful blacks. Every black athlete walks around with a chip on his shoulder. NBA players carry on like they are being forced to work the fields, when in reality they live like nobility. No group of blacks complains more than NBA players, despite having so much. This is something you see to vary degrees with all high achieving blacks. The endless adulation from their masters on the Left has led blacks to obsess over their own blackness.

It is that sense of entitlement that keeps the hoax game going. That and there is rarely any consequence to the people promoting these hoaxes. The pint-sized pundit, Ben Shapiro, will never have to explain himself. He got to feel like a hero when he instinctively condemned all white people. Then he gets to be smug, while pretending he was never fooled by the hoax. He’s not alone. All of Conservative Inc. plays the same role in every one of these hoaxes. It’s their job.

The Left, of course, needs these hoaxes to feed the engines of the rage machine, so they are more than happy to indulge black fantasies about oppression. They will be out their washing the feet when some NFL team is forced to sign Colin Kaepernick to a contract this summer. They will get to feel vindicated. Then when he can’t play, they can blame racism for his benching. In the skins game, the Left is the house and the house always wins, which is why they never close the game.

That brings us back to Wallace. Like Kaepernick, he is destined to be a mediocre performer in his sport, who got a big leg up because he is black. In other words, his best asset has always been white guilt. The path forward for him is the same as with Kaepernick, which means militant anti-white agitation. Look for him to start issuing demands to NASCAR and other drivers. He will expect exemptions to the rules and when they don’t come, he will cry “racism!”

The irony is we will end up with something close to what the Left calls white privilege, but it will be for blacks. The Left has claimed for years that white people out-perform all others because they get to play by a different set of rules. This was always nonsense, but it is what we will get with negrophilia. Blacks will be given a pass on the rules and loaded with benefits and praise. They are quickly becoming a race of spoiled children, around whom society is organized to keep them happy.

Whether or not such a world can last is another matter. NASCAR has done everything it can to placate the blacks. Will their fans find a way to swallow the humiliation and stick with the sport? Will the NFL be able to humiliate its fans and survive. There are plenty of broken white people, so it is possible, but there does seem to be an awakening among whites too. Whether they know it or not, the race hoaxers have opened a debate among white people about what it means to be white.

For those on this side of the great divide, this is the way to see it. For the first time in generations white people are thinking about race, rather than emoting about it. Lots of white people are wondering if they want to live in the same world as people demanding they wash the feet. Many will kneel, but many will not. This is something that always had to happen. If it means the death of sports entertainment, it is small price to be paid for the freedom to decide for ourselves.

For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!

The Paradox Of The Market

An axiom of liberal democracy is that the more open the system the more choices there are within the system. A market for widgets, if it is an open market, will have the maximum number of widget makers and widget suppliers. The marketplace of ideas, if it is open to all, will have the full range of ideas. Similarly, as long as the demand side is unrestricted, the full spectrum of demand will be represented. Every widget buyer will have the chance to demand his type of widget.

This is the starting point for modern societies. It is no longer a point to be debated and certainly not questioned. This is obvious in the non-debate over tech censorship. Any effort to discuss what is going on with companies like Google and Twitter is met with a wall of sound about the sanctity of private firms operating in the market. “Build your own platform” has become the top single in the amen chorus. The marketplace is now a god that provides what the people need and deserve.

In theory, the chorus should be right. If everyone who wants to make widgets is allowed to make widgets, then there should be a widget maker for every type of widget demanded by the public, assuming the widget can be produced at a profit. Even people wanting free widgets could be supplied by charity. Outside of the extremes, if there is a way to make a profit by meeting even the most bizarre demands for a product or service, someone will find a way to meet that demand.

Something similar should happen in public discourse. If the public space is open, then everyone can present their ideas. If everyone is free to listen, or not listen, to those ideas being offered up, the marketplace should develop in the same way as it should with a product or a service. The insane ideas will have a small audience, while the sensible ideas will gain a larger audience. The marketplace of ideas will sort and stack the ideas on offer based on the preferences of the audience.

This is a bit redundant, but it is important to think about this axiom of liberal democracy while considering current reality. If the market place for goods and services functioned as believed, then we would have more than two mobile phone makers. There would be more than one search engine. We would have lots of small car makers, rather than a handful of global operators. In fact, General Motors should have gone out of business decades ago based on market principles.

In the realm of ideas, we should have a dozen political parties flourishing to one degree or another at the state and national level. For example, there is no obvious reason why there should not be political parties that operate just as the state level. According to the axioms of liberal democracy, there should be state parties that focus just on state and local issues, maybe operating as a feeder to a national party. Yet, we have just two parties that are really just two faces of a single party.

It is a paradox of markets that the internal dynamic of the market leads to fewer choices and maybe even no choice. Take the desktop computer market, for example. The only choice is the color and the label of the Chinese slave camp that produced it. Inside, the parts all come from the same source. Alternatives to the standard PC are fringe options that exist for hobbyists and weirdos. You see this everywhere you look around the marketplace. Our markets are oligopolies now.

It goes beyond market consolidation. Another aspect of this is that as some dominant players emerge, they begin to insulate themselves from demand. In fact, it is possible that the quest for market domination is actually an effort to insulate the supplier from the pressures of the marketplace. The players initially experiencing success shift from competing for clients to competing to wall off their share of demand in order to prevent others from competing for that market share.

You see this with sports. The NASCAR phenomenon is assumed to be driven by the edicts of this weird new religion that has gripped the great and good. That may be one aspect of it, maybe even the primary aspect, but there also seems to be a desire to get rid of their own audience. That is, NASCAR would be fine with not having a live crowd and depending entirely on television money. Then they no longer have to be responsive to the demands of the customers.

The temptation here is to say that the fans will not watch, but in the realm of television these days, ratings matter very little. ESPN, for example, gets the bulk of its revenue from mandatory cable fees. If you have a TV sub through the local cable monopoly or a service like Hulu, you pay ESPN eight dollars per month. It does not matter if you watch, you pay the fee. All cable channels work off this model. Once again, the glory of the market place is to result in a monopoly and no market.

This dynamic where the dominant suppliers seek to eradicate the demand side is evident in politics. Both faces of the uniparty are now onboard with vote by mail, for example, which eliminates the pesky demands of the voters. This form of voting makes for unlimited fraud, so we will end up with Stalin’s maxim. “It’s not the people who vote that count. It’s the people who count the votes.” Since picking one party or the other has no effect on policy, voting will soon be entirely ceremonial.

It is always tempting to confuse a paradox with a contradiction. Critics of modern capitalism, for example, will claim that the oligarchs are not really capitalist in the free market sense. They are corrupting the system. Similarly, people will claim that the problem with politics is that a small group of highly corrupt people are subverting the democratic system. In other words, the axioms of the market place are true, it’s just that the current systems are not adhering to them.

The trouble with this line of reasoning is it suggests that the marketplace itself selects for the sorts of people who seek to subvert the marketplace. Everywhere we look, the great experiment in open markets has had the same result. Whether it is finance, technology, ideas or politics, the result is small club that controls everything, not only to their exclusive benefit, but to the detriment of the people they allegedly serve. It is almost as if the market selects for sadists who despise their customers.

For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!

Systemic Collapse

Note: I will be on with Joseph Cotto and Paul Gottfried this evening to discuss big-brained stuff. The show is scheduled for 7:00 PM. This is a link to their YouTube page, but I’ll add a direct link when it is available. One topic will be my post about America and Athens, but there will be other topics as well.

One thing that seems to be true of all civilizations that are in crisis is they have a period in which the laws are no longer respected by the people in power. It is not exactly a period of lawlessness, as in chaos. That certainly does happen when the crisis reaches the point when the official authority can no longer project power. Before that, there is a time when the people charged with enforcing the laws simply stop doing it on a consistent basis. The law becomes arbitrary and selective.

A good example of this is what we see with the civil unrest. Mobs of people go into the streets looting and rioting, with very little push-back from the police. The politicians carry on as if they are in support of the rioting. It’s not as if these mobs are that large or all that fearsome. The police, if given the chance, could end the riots in a few hours with a minimum of trouble. The people pulling down statues could be arrested, charged with lots of crimes and sent to a prison. Yet, it does not happen.

Part of it, for sure, is that the local politicians are taking some weird pleasure in seeing their cities destroyed. They would like to join in on the mayhem. That is obvious with the child mayor of Minneapolis. In other cases, the local politicians hate the police and refuse to let them do their jobs. Still, in many cases, the local government is paralyzed by fear and incompetence. In Atlanta, the police are in open revolt against the local authorities over the corruption of the law by the politicians.

Lost in all struggles to advance a preferred narratives is what is happening on the ground in these cities. If you are a shop owner in these areas or a resident, you now live in a lawless age. Again, it is not entirely lawless, but the law is no longer clear and predictable for you. If you, as a shop owner, shoot someone looting your store, maybe you get arrested. Maybe the looter gets arrested, if things fall the right way, but you can’t know. The law is no longer clear.

A more ominous example is what we see happening with the Silicon Valley oligopolies now controlling the public square. Recently, Google threatened to end the advertising revenue of the Federalist and Zero Hedge. They did this at the behest of NBC, who called them up and asked them to do it, because NBC did not like that they allowed users to post comments on the stories. Google does not like people expressing their opinions either, so they happily agreed to threaten both sites.

There is a term for this. It is called extortion. Using the threat of force or property damage to obtain something from another is illegal in every state. What Google and NBC did to these sites is no different than what the Mafia used to do with local business. NBC said, “that’s a nice business you have there. Shame if something were to happen to it.” Then Google came in and smashed a few things to make sure both of them knew they were serious about it.

What’s even more amazing about this story is both NBC and Google have publicly bragged about what they did. They don’t dispute that they essentially muscled these two sites like gangsters. Their public utterances are enough for the FBI to arrest the people involved and charge them with multiple counts of extortion. They could probably even begin a racketeering case against Google. There are laws on the books for exactly this situation, yet the government is silent on the matter.

A less egregious example is what we see with the tech companies de-platforming people accused of impiety. In a better time, one-way contracts were strongly discouraged and highly scrutinized by the courts. It was assumed there was an unequal relationship between the company and their customer. The court tried to balance that relationship by heavily scrutinizing the contracts involved and the actions of the company issuing the contracts. The court defended the customer.

The reverse is now true. In every area of life, people are confronted by terms of service that run contrary to our legal traditions. Domain registrars, for example, willy-nilly break their contract with users like VDare. There is no remedy, as the courts simply no longer enforce large swaths of contract law. In fact, as we see with the Supreme Court, they invent new laws and re-imagine history to justify it. The courts are now something less predictable than a flip of a coin. It’s chaos in the law.

It is tempting to explain all of this as part of some highly orchestrated plot by the usual suspects, but in reality, we are in a period of lawlessness. The people charged with enforcing the rules either refuse for factional reasons or they simply can no longer project the power they theoretically possess. In the case of the courts, it very well may be fear from people with real power. John Roberts, for example, is most likely being extorted or intimidated by powerful people.

In response to legitimate power failing to act, illegitimate power is starting to step into the void and enforce its own rules. We see this with so-called private companies trying to impose the new religion on people. The NCAA, for example, is trying to force the state of Mississippi to change its flag. Again, it is resorting to extortion and doing so without regard for the law. A big part of what they are doing is displaying their power level by brazenly threatening the duly elected government.

What we are witnessing is not a revolution. The Left would love for people to believe that, which is why they have instructed conservative media to sell that idea. Instead, we are seeing the breakdown of order. Government, either because of corruption or ineptitude, is no longer able to enforce the laws. Private power centers, no longer respecting the spirit of the laws or the legitimate power centers, are beginning to fill this void, like gangs trying to impose order when the cops are gone.

The public sees this only from the outsider point of view. The legitimate power centers like state and local government, appear to be functioning, but for some reason they are randomly failing in their basic duties. Corporations and newly minted religious authorities are suddenly able to push people around without consequence. To the average citizen it does look like a revolution, and maybe that will come, but for now it is the slow breakdown of order. The system is collapsing.

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The Morality Of The Madhouse

In The Spirit of the Laws, Montesquieu outlined the motivations that drove citizen behavior in the three types of political systems known at the time. In republican forms of government, love of virtue is what motivates the people. In monarchies, it is the love of honor that motivates the actions of the people. In despotism, the people are motivated by fear of the ruler. He argued that the political system must match the inclinations of the people or it would not last.

Although Montesquieu did not address it, it certainly seems that these principles have a hierarchy of their own. Honor, for example, will give way to virtue, once the people begin to think they have a choice. Throughout history, monarchy has given way to democratic rule as the people abandoned honor in favor of virtue. Similarly, virtue has never been much of a match for fear as a motivator. Authoritarianism, the soft or hard variety, tends to overcome public virtue once the rulers realize it.

Montesquieu was working with the materiel at hand, so he could not contemplate the nature of liberal democracy. He knew of democracy, but only in the limited experiments among the ancients. Democracy on the grand scale as we see today was beyond the realm of plausible at the time. Similarly, liberalism was in its infancy. Liberty, consent of the governed and equality before the law were purely theoretical concepts at the time, so he and other theorists had no working knowledge of them.

Almost three centuries on, we have a much better sense of what liberalism and democracy produce. For several generations now, the West has been ruled by the ideology of liberal democracy. Further, the West has worked hard to impose this moral philosophy on the rest of the world. Trillions have been spent, for example, trying to plant the seeds of liberal democracy in the Muslim world. South America has been forced to embrace the rituals and ceremonies of liberal democracy.

What we can now see that Montesquieu would not have been able to see is that something unique motivates the citizen in a liberal democracy.  There is no willingness to put the interests of the community ahead of private interests. There is no desire to attain greater rank and privilege. There is fear, but not of a ruler, but rather fear of falling afoul of the general will. The collective morality in a liberal democracy works like an invisible fickle tyrant that terrorizes the citizenry.

We see this in the current turmoil. The citizen is now suddenly faced with a whole new moral order, as if the ruling class all converted to some new church. People who are slow to pick up on the morality are shamed and harassed. You can lose your job for refusing to use the right pronouns, for example. Two members of the Supreme Court just converted and declared that the Founders were actually sodomites in dresses, therefore sodomites in dresses are sacred beings.

Just as fear of the tyrant is a more powerful motivation than a sense of sacrifice to the needs of the community, morality is a much more powerful motivator than virtue or even fear of a powerful individual. Look at Donald Trump. He is incompetent, for sure, but his office has real power. Yet, fear of falling afoul of the new morality leads the converted to risk everything to destroy him. The needs of the new morality are pushing the followers to bring the country crashing down to please the new gods.

Unlike the motivations behind monarchy, republicanism and tyranny, there is no structure to liberal democratic morality. There is no sacred text or body of philosophical work to provide authority. Like a school of fish, morality shifts on a dime and that new direction is assumed to be the general will and therefore the proper course. Morality in a liberal democracy is a riot with no real purpose, other than to feed the need of the people to feel they are the virtuous actor in the great drama of life.

Without a controlling doctrine, morality in a liberal democracy has no limiting principles to contain the excesses. Everything worth doing is worth overdoing. No matter how pious someone is, someone else can be more pious. Each new fad becomes a race to the absurd, which is how we quickly went from tolerance of homosexuals to declaring transvestites sacred beings. You can be sure the pedophiles and polygamists are getting ready for their elevation into the ring of honor.

It turns out that fear, virtue and honor are no match for morality in the great battle of organizing ideas. Honor is an individual characteristic. It is something you give yourself through your own decisions. Similarly, the virtue of the man willing to sacrifice for the good of the institution is largely an individual creation. It has a collective component, which makes it more powerful than honor, but it is still individualistic. Fear, of course, is about saving your own skin or that of your family.

Morality, in contrast, pivots on the collective sense of identity. The chants of “who we are” resonate because it implies a choice. You can be inside where it is good or outside where it is bad. In reality, it reminds the people that they have no choice. To stand against morality is to stand against destiny itself. Those who resist the new morality are first anathematized then invisibilized. Liberal democracy maintains an invisible gulag for those who refuse to bend the knee to the prevailing morality.

The defects in monarchy, democracy and despotism are well known. The next in line to the throne can be a lunatic or a simpleton. Democracy eventually murders itself. The tyrant eventually dies, leaving a battle for power. It seems that the defect of liberal democracy is that it has no way to control the fanatic. They are not just allowed to run free, but they are encouraged to fully explore their fanaticism. Liberal democracy eventually becomes a madhouse run by madmen.

Modern America has entered the madhouse phase of liberal democracy. Just how far along we are in the journey is unknown, but the journey has begun. Evidence of this is the wanton destruction of civil society. The pointlessness of it is the point. No one in power is willing to defend the institutions and customs that defined old America. No one in power is offering an alternative, other than more fear of the mob. The only questions now are the timing and terror of the eventual collapse.

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Athens In Winter

It has been popular on the Right for a long time to compare modern America to the Roman Empire. Often the point of the comparison is to support the claim that America is an empire, rather than a republic. Alternatively, the point is to warn of an imminent collapse, just like what happened to Rome. The so-called conservatives, of course, reject the idea, because the Left requires it, but most Americans still cling to the idea that the country is some sort of democracy.

The comparison to Rome is a popular one because it is a well understood story and it has a clear end. The Romans lost their republic and became a dictatorship and then an Empire that dominated Europe. America, as the story goes, has lost its republic and is now an empire that dominates the world. The analogy is not intended to tell us anything about the dynamic that has led America to this point. It is more of a self-serving warning of an inevitable end dictated by history.

The thing is, Rome is not really a good analogy. The better comparison is with ancient Athens, which went from a democratic city-state to a democratic empire. Unlike Rome, Athens avoided the transition to authoritarianism. It remained a democracy even as it came to dominate the region and operate as an empire. Unlike Rome, it never accepted itself as an empire. The spirit that animated the democracy as a city-state remained as they came to dominate and control the other city-states.

That is something we see with modern America. The typical American, regardless of political cult, does not think of himself as a subject in an empire. In fact, most stubbornly cling to the old democratic ideas. Most white people, for example, think the constitution still plays a role in the law. They think elections make a difference. Even non-whites think elections matter, which is why they are organized. They want their guys in office on the assumption that their guys will act on their behalf.

Like Athens, America is an empire that does not know itself. Further, it is an empire that is blind to its own authoritarianism. Many are shocked, for example, at the widespread and coordinated response from the corporate oligarchs to the riots. They are baffled as to how they have these propaganda campaigns ready to go as soon as the riots were started in Minneapolis. They struggle to process why people are forced from their jobs for not cheering loud enough at the struggle sessions.

That really is the distinguishing feature of the modern American empire. No one can accept that it is both an empire and authoritarian. This is a society that bans books, throws men in jail for their politics and has created a form of internal exile for those found to be guilty of impiety. These were things that happened in Athens. Similarly, America is a financial empire, more than a military one. Athens became an empire when their currency became the default in the region.

Like Athens, the American Empire struggles to control itself. On the one hand, the economic prosperity allows it to generate great wealth, while on the other hand the internal incoherence leaves it staggering around like a blind giant. Twenty years in Afghanistan, for example, is every bit as insane as the Greeks invading Sicily in the Peloponnesian War. Democracy demands a unifying purpose, so that becomes the point of the democracy, finding some unifying cause.

The one difference, of course, is Athens was blessed with a neighbor that could defeat it in war and strip it of its empire. America has no enemy that can do that or even wants to do it. The Soviets were as close as we came, but the analogy does not work because Americans and Russians do not share the same heritage. The Spartans and Athenians were Greeks and saw one another as Greeks. No such relation existed in the rivalry between communism and liberal democracy.

The American empire lost its one rival in the 19th century. America became an empire when the Yankee north conquered the Tidewater south in the Civil War. At that point, the Athens of America became a continental empire. After conquering its great spartan rival, it then moved west, conquering the rest of the continent. In time, it expelled the European powers from the hemisphere. Then in the 20th century, the American empire conquered Europe and Asia.

Instead of reliving what happened to the Western Romans Empire, what we are experiencing is what would have happened if the Athenians had prevailed over the Spartans in the Peloponnesian War. Instead of the Athenian democracy being contained, it would have spread like a virus around the region. It is hard to know, but Hellenization would surely have been more widespread and more democratic than what eventually happened. The result would have been more familiar to us.

That means we can only speculate as to how the American Empire ends. It may be that it does not end until some military power rises up to defeat it. What was at the core of Athenian democracy is what is at the core of liberal democracy. That is, an absolute certainty that this system is the only one that can work. The intolerance of democracy is not rooted in fear, but in an unbridled confidence. Only a defeat in war can shatter that confidence in the democratic system.

Maybe the future is the present forever. On the one hand, the people at the top make sure to keep the food and fun flowing to the people, even turning protest into a form of spectator sport. On the other hand, it is one spasm of virtue after another, finding new villains and new victims of those villains. Maybe the only way a democratic empire can end is to be defeated by an external force. Maybe the end of history is what we are seeing today replayed over and over forever.

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The Nostalgia Loop

Note: A good example of a small project in community building is this small documentary being made about the plight of small ranchers. The people behind it are the sorts of people dissidents should support. They are not the sort of people to wash the feet or take the knee. If you have a few bucks to spare, make a donation to a worthy project by and for our people. It would be nice to see them reach their rather modest goal this week and maybe move past it. Thank you in advance.

One of the strange things that turned up quickly in the Obama administration was the odd sense of nostalgia about the whole thing. Lost in all the gaudy rhetoric about the seas rising and the birds chirping for the black messiah, was the references to old slights and past failures. It was not explicit, but it was there when you looked at their agenda as a whole. It was clear that a big part of what was animating them was a commitment to revisit and settle all those old scores.

Vengeance has always been a big part of the America Left. This is due to it being a spiritual enterprise, rather than an ideological one. They are atoning for past sins, so addressing those past sins is always part of the agenda. For blacks, vengeance is part of their identity. They dream of exacting revenge on white people. Still, if you looked carefully, the Obama agenda was more like a nostalgia tour for the aging radicals who managed and underwrote his political career.

The best example is health care. This was a fresh wound for the Left and they were determined to have a do-over, no matter the cost. The distinguishing feature of that period was the total lack of a plan to engineer a new health care regime. Instead, they just replayed the early 1990’s, but slightly different. The Iran initiative was a re-do of the Carter years. This time, they would do negotiations right. The same was true for their Russia reset. They were spiting Reagan.

It is not just the Left that has been trapped in a nostalgia loop. The so-called conservatives curdled into a Bill Buckle mystery cult. They spent the Bush years comparing Bush to Reagan. Then they spent the Obama years pretending Obama was Carter and their next Reagan was due any minute. Even Trump has gone in for the nostalgia politics. His MAGA idea is right out of the 1980’s and he was all set to run a Morning in America campaign this fall.

You can’t help but notice that the current ructions look like a cheesy reenactment of the riots of the late 1960’s. There is a distinct lack of authenticity. For starters, the black riots have as many white people as blacks. In fact, the whole foot-washer thing is mostly old white people reminiscing about the old days. There is a very strong Baby Boomer vibe to the anti-racism thing. They are pretending nothing has changed since their youth as a way to feel young again.

The young people involved in this stuff are more like hobbyists playing a role in a historical reenactment than people with legitimate grievances. The black looters are certainly people from the ghetto getting some free stuff. The people organizing the actions are bourgeois bohemians living in the suburbs. In fact, they are upper class members of the ruling class. Instead of using peasants for a human chessboard, they are using morons for a game of urban riots.

The nostalgia is most evident in the racial component. They are so caught up in the role, they are incapable of seeing the absurdity. We just had four days of funerals for a drug-addled black criminal. All of the corporate oligarchs are imposing anti-racism on their customers, even refusing service to them if they are not enthusiastic enough for the cause, but we supposedly have a white racism problem. We’re literally worshiping black people right now, but we supposedly have a racism problem.

It is not just race either. Feminism has been caught in a nostalgia loop for quite some time now. The whole campus rape culture business was just a remake of the war on chauvinism from the 60’s and 70’s. In the original, women in polyester pantsuits complained about men treating them as sex objects. In the remake, it was frumpy coeds complaining about horse-faced guys named Haven Monahan ravaging them in their fraternity. Same bodice ripper, new scenery.

Go back to the Bush years and the anti-war movement was just a bunch of oldsters reliving their youth through college kids they hired to play them in the remake of the Vietnam protests. They even used the same language. Days into Afghanistan, they declared it a quagmire. Note too that as soon as Bush left the scene, the protests came to a screeching halt. There were no anti-war Left in the Obama years, despite the fact he was droning the Muslims on a daily basis.

Step back and look at the last couple of decades and what we seem to be experiencing is the end point of American Progressivism. They have run out of great moral crusades, so they are rebooting old franchises. Just as Hollywood has collapsed into a series of remakes and reboots of old ideas, the political elite is reduced to replaying old political battles, but with better graphics. Of course, they make sure they are the hero in all of these remakes, just in case that was not clear the first time.

There is also the fact that this ruling elite is probably the most spoiled and pampered elite since the French Revolution. Scan the resumes of the people at the top and you don’t find any signs of struggle. Even the financial elites have ridden the warm thermals of a rigged system. Jeff Bezos thinks he is Ernst Stavro Blofeld, but in reality, he is the product of a system that grants massive government subsidies and protections to a select group of insiders and friends of the system.

As a result, this ruling class operates on the assumption that there is never any consequence to their actions. The rioters did not burn down their houses or their businesses last week. They are not going to be forced into struggle sessions at their office or college job. None of this affects them. Again, like the aristocrats forcing peasants into a game of human chess, they get to take it all in as bemused spectators, enjoying the good life as an insulated ruling class.

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The Race Drama

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For sites like this to exist, it requires people like you chipping in a few bucks a month to keep the lights on and the people fed. It turns out that you can’t live on clicks and compliments. Five bucks a month is not a lot to ask. If you don’t want to commit to a subscription, make a one time donation. Or, you can send money to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. You can also use PayPal to send a few bucks, rather than have that latte at Starbucks. Thank you for your support!