Between Barbarians and Fanatics

For most of human existence, the great conflict was between ordered civilization and chaotic barbarism. The Bronze Age societies had to contend with barbarians from the north. The Greeks and Romans had to deal with various barbarian tribes to their north and east. Medieval Europe had to deal with the Viking raiders and the Mongol invaders from the east. Then there were the Muslim invasions from the South that threatened Christendom. The story of the West has been the story of fighting barbarians.

By the time the West reached the Enlightenment, barbarian invasion was a thing of the past. In fact, it was inconceivable. The Nordic people were just as settled as the rest of Europe. Their days of raiding and pillaging were over. The idea of Asian tribes crossing through Russian into Europe was equally ridiculous. Of course, the Muslims had been beaten back and were no longer a threat. In fact, it was the West that was now heading south into the Middle East and Africa. The barbarians were no longer an issue.

Instead of organizing to keep the barbarians from coming over the horizon, it was the West sailing over the horizon to conquer the barbarians. The thing is though, all those years of organizing to defend civilization from the barbarians, however one wants to define the terms, meant a degree of internal vigilance. There could be no tolerance of internal actors and actions that weakened the social and political structures. Civilization was a near run thing so anything that weakened the West internally could not be tolerated.

The Catholic Church gets a bad rap for being intolerant of science during the Middle Ages, but that’s mostly left-wing nonsense. In an age when dissent could pull the support posts out from society, intolerance of troublemakers made a lot of sense. Of course, from the perspective of the secular rulers, a theological consistency, one that supported the order atop which they presided, was seen as essential. Anything that threatened the internal logic of the social order, even unintentionally, had to be treated very seriously.

That meant an extreme intolerance of religious fanatics. The post the other day about the Flagellants is a good example. The Church and secular rulers suppressed the movement because their fanaticism threatened order, by questioning the legitimacy of the Church. After all, if God was punishing people with the plague, that implied the Church was not on good terms with the Almighty. Throw in the fact the Flagellants were preaching about a coming age of bliss and it is easy to see why the Church suppressed them.

The point is, the West was good at policing the ranks for fanatics, because they had no choice. The very real threat from beyond the borders coupled with the fragility of the feudal order meant anyone coloring outside the lines was a mortal threat. As the alien threats receded, the need to impose a uniform intellectual order receded with it. While it resulted in a great intellectual flourishing in the West, it also let all the fanatics off their leash. The result is the West has been convulsed by fanaticism since the Enlightenment.

That’s how you have to look at radical ideologies like Marxism. These theories defy observable reality and imagine something that has never existed. There’s simply no way for a sober minded person to accept the idea of the worker’s paradise. Only a true believer is willing to commit their life to something that has never existed on earth. It is the same cognitive tool set that allows someone to think they can appeal directly to God or conjure miracles, simply because they believe. The fanatic is the fuel of radicalism.

In The Inequality of Man, the great natural scientist J. B. S. Haldane argued that fanaticism was a Judaic-Christian invention. That’s most certainly wrong, but he was not wrong to think it had been a feature of mankind for a long time. It is the fuel that drives a people to build a great culture. As we saw in the last century and now in our present age, it is also the fuel of great raging destruction. Other than allowing the rage of the fanatics to run its course, no one has yet to come up with a way to meet the challenge of the true believer.

That really is the challenge of this age. Lacking anything resembling a unified religion, our overabundance of fanatics are free to indulge in whatever is handy. One minute they are threatening order if gays are not allowed to marry. The next minute they are tearing down the borders, inviting in the barbarians our ancestors pushed over the horizon. It’s as if some strange mind virus is sweeping our societies, turning the afflicted into berserkers, beyond the reach of reason. As a result we edge closer and closer to collapse.

What’s happening in America, at least, is a replay of what happened in the Pennsylvania colony at the founding. The eastern part of the state was home to many fanatics, convinced they were part a project to immanentize the eschaton. To the west were the borderland people, living in the hills as pre-settled people. In between was where the civilized people lived, just looking to live peaceful, orderly lives. Eventually the middle aligned with the east to keep the hillbillies in the west from overrunning the middle.

To a great degree, this was true for the country as a whole. The emotional energy of the crazies, mostly located in the northeast, fueled the expansion across the continent. The Indians never stood a chance, not because of technology, but because the pale face was driven by a sense of destiny. It powered the northern conquest of the South and the expansion of America into a global power. It came with a price. Just as Pennsylvania is still dominated by Philadelphia, America remains captive to the Northern crazies.

That said, geography kept the crazies on their leash into the 20th century, with the exception of the Northern invasion of the South. As technology made it possible for the fanatics to extend their reach into every corner of the country, the threat of nuclear annihilation forced a degree of discipline on the elites. With that gone, the fanatics were free to run wild, pulling at every support beam and cable they can find. That’s where we find ourselves today. There are no barbarians at the walls, just our own fanatics.

If the West in general and American in particular, is going to survive this age, it will mean coming up with a way to control the fanatic. Perhaps it will mean finding a DNA test to look for the lunacy gene or simply change the culture to fear fanaticism. We were once willing to do what had to be done to ward off the barbarian.  Maybe we learn how to cull our herd in order to remove the crazies, no matter how unpleasant. Civilization lies between the barbarian and the fanatic. Both must be tamed if we are to survive.

The Seekers

The book, When Prophecy Fails, is a classic work of social psychology written in the 1950’s based on a study of a UFO cult called the Seekers. This group was led by a woman named Dorothy Martin, who claimed that aliens spoke through her to warn of a coming apocalypse. She employed something called “automatic writing” to channel the messages from the people of the planet Clarion. Through her, they were telling humanity that a great flood was coming and the world would end on December 21, 1954.

The study documented the believers and how they coped with the fact the word did not end on December 21, 1954. What they found is that instead of the group realizing they had been duped by a lunatic, they quickly developed an explanation for why the great event had not occurred and came to believe that with the same degree of intensity they had believed the original prophesy. In the case of the Seekers, within hours they were telling themselves and the world that their faith had convinced God to spare the world.

It is a useful thing to keep in mind while observing the actions of the America Left. Whatever it was, today it is a cult. We tend to assume cults have a charismatic figure at the top, but that’s not always the case. Hassidic Jews are not led by a charismatic leader, unless you consider the Rabbi a cult leader. In fact, that may not be a bad comparison, in that Rabbis come and go, temporarily holding the position of sect leader. Progressives swap out their chief lunatic as well. Look at their list of three initial heroes.

In the summer before the 2016 election, the Cult was sure Hillary Clinton would be anointed as their new cult leader. They were so sure of it there were people quitting their jobs so they could prepare to move to Washington and serve the new ruler. Then disaster struck and the prophecy failed. Like the Seekers, they waited all night for a miracle, but there was no miracle. Also like the Seekers, the cult has cooked up an elaborate explanation, rather than accept the result. Russian collusion is a coping mechanism.

It does not stop there with the Progressive cult. They have a new prophecy that they are sure will come true on the first Tuesday of this November. They believe the magical blue wave will cleanse the Imperial Capital of the sinners, who defend the evil Donald Trump, by concealing the Russian hacking scandal. It’s why fiction writer Bob Woodward released his book this week and why the NYTimes ran the fictional op-ed. These are intended to be evidence at the trial of Donald Trump, when he is impeached and removed.

It’s also why Elizabeth Warren was out demanding they invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump now. After all, if it is inevitable, why wait for the election? As far as she and the other hormonal crazies in the cult are concerned, the impeachment and removal of Trump is written in stone. True believers always succumb to the Tinker Bell Effect, because they believe so intensely, they inevitably begin to see everything as confirmation of their deeply held beliefs.  Fanatics see only that which confirms their fanaticism.

You’ll also note that these periods of extreme mania come and go. When Trump fired Comey, the Left was apoplectic for a week. Comey himself was out there casting himself in the role of martyr for the cause. Then it passed and no one talks about him anymore, outside of grand jury rooms. When Trump met with Putin, there was another week of fevered lunacy in the Progressive media. This week’s spasm of fervor from the cult coincided with the Kavanaugh hearings. Next week, all of this will be forgotten.

What’s happening is the cult is responding to disconfirmation in the same way the Seekers handled it. Rather than reevaluate their positions or beliefs in light of obvious reality, they escalate their intensity as a way to pull the faithful together. Firing Comey showed Trump was not about to resign, as the cult believed. When he met with Putin, it annulled their Boris and Natasha fantasy. Now that Kavanaugh is obviously going to be confirmed, it undermines their belief that his own party is about to abandon him.

Another aspect of the Seekers is relevant here. Dorothy Martin came out of the same cult that gave birth to Scientology. She later went on to reinvent herself as Sister Thedra and start a new cult called the Association of Sananda and Sanat Kumara. Progressives have similarly morphed into different things over the years. You’ll also note that spiritual cults tend to be led by women or have a lot of high profile females.  The same thing is happening with the Progressives. It is hormonal woman shepherding non-whites.

All of this is amusing, but imagine a country with a powerful army and nuclear weapons being run by nutters like Elizabeth Warren. Imagine a situation room that looks like the editorial board of the Huffington Post. There are no obvious remedies to having the ruling class succumb to mass insanity. The big challenge is accepting it. The public can accept that their rulers are corrupt or evil. It’s really hard to accept that they are insane. The proof of that probably comes too late as the loonies have already pulled the roof down us.

The Haunting

A couple of years ago, John Derbyshire talked about the sexual aspect of what ails the West. He referenced this comment to Steve Sailer, in one of Sailer’s blog posts. No doubt others have noted that women in the West seem to be the driving force behind things like immigration. The angle is always that the women are ascendant because the men have grown soft. As Derb talked about in that podcast, the girls are inviting in the swarthy foreigners, because they are dissatisfied with their men.

That is appealing to men, especially older men, as older men are always sure that the younger generation is soft. When I was a boy, my grandfather would say, “In my day it was iron men and wooden ships. Now, it is iron ships and wooden men.” I am an old man, but not so old that my grandfather lived in the age of sail. It was just his way of saying that his generation was tough, while the younger generation was soft. The thing is though, this assumes that only men have changed.

Maybe a better way of thinking about the sexual aspect of our cultural crisis is that both men and women are haunted by different specters. For instance, our women are increasingly deranged, not because men are wimps, but because the traditional sex roles no longer exist. This leaves them as free radicals, with the wacky fads out of feminism and gender studies, orbiting them like unpaired electrons. Women are like bees without a hive, so they become erratic.

Here is a good example. This woman is an angry lesbian. She has been a public nuisance for a long time, ranting and raving about homosexual causes. Self-identified lesbians are 1.3% of the population, according to the CDC. That is a small club, but not select enough, so she is now claiming her son is transgender. Like so many of our women, this woman is in a race to the most bizarre position imaginable. It is the need for attention, applied to inappropriate things.

The male side of this coin features a nostalgia for a lost future. It is a form of romanticism, where men imagine a past that led to a different present. All of those decisions by prior generations, have led to a present where there is no point to being man, because there is no role for men. The only place where men are needed is the military, but even there, the multicultural nags are ruining things. It is not a longing for the past, but a longing for a different present.

If you look at the various sub-groups within the Dissident Right, they are almost exclusively male. The alt-right certainly has a strong romantic streak. Their embrace of the fascist aesthetic was always based on an imaginary version of history. The PUA guys go the other way, embracing a cynical and callous view of women as nothing more than a game to be won. It is an absurd version of the alpha male. Weirdos like Patriot Prayer are trying to create a space for men to be men.

The result of all this is men and women are rocketing off in different directions, seeking something that fills the void left by traditional sex roles. The trouble is the current culture views traditional sex roles as toxic. That not only directs the search for biological fulfillment toward the wrong answers, but it also makes the right answer the polar opposite of what is acceptable. The result of this is blue-haired feminists screaming into the void and the cartoonish primal scream of the Bronze Age Mindset.

It is why polling on so many issues divide sharply between males and females, married people, and single people. That last part is probably the most important, as people living the traditional married life may as well be in a different country. The former have a point, while the latter are searching for one. The former see politics as a necessary burden, while the latter view it as the hunting ground for personal fulfillment. It is why Antifa is run by girls and the alt-right is run by boys.

Of course, the specter driving all of this was created in the bygone era, the one where the West still had its traditional social arrangements. The increasing animosity toward baby boomers has a lot to do with the fact that the young blame their parents and grandparents for screwing up the system. This is certainly true in America, where the boomers inherited a world of order and then set about destroying it, replacing it with a world of disorder and irrationality.

That really is the specter haunting all of us, regardless of our age. It all seems so unnecessary and pointless. What was so monstrous in the 50’s and 60’s that it spawned a generation hell bent on self-abnegation? That is the specter that haunts our age. It is as if the point of the cultural revolution were to create a society of people infected with the existential attitude. The result of the revolt was a people gripped by a sense of disorientation, confusion, and dread.

How Not To Be Boring

There are few things worse than conversing with a boring person. I’m not talking about quiet people. A person who keeps his own confidence is often thought of as mysterious or complex. Their silence makes them interesting. A boring person is almost always someone who talks a lot, revealing that they are not very interesting. Boring people are such a menace, that there is a whole area of etiquette about politely getting away from the boring guy at a social event.

So, what makes a person boring?

More important, how can you avoid being seen as a boring person?

The first thing you notice about boring people is they never seem to have a point to their stories and anecdotes. Stories must have a point. No one cares about what you had for lunch, unless it was something bizarre or unusual. If you had a delicious turkey club for lunch, that’s not something anyone wants to know. Now, if the waiter stripped naked and ran screaming into the street after serving you that delicious turkey club, then you have a story with a point. That’s an amusing tale.

Your stories and anecdotes don’t have to be amusing.  What’s important is you have some reason for telling the story. This is a courtesy to the listener. By having a point, you are showing respect to the listener, whether it it by sharing information with them or making them laugh with an amusing story. When your stories are pointless recitations of mundane events, you are, whether you realize it or not, insulting the audience. At the minimum, you are wasting their time, which is just as bad.

You should also avoid unnecessary details. That story about the waiter stripping down and running into the street is a good example. If you spend five minutes describing the menu and the turkey sandwich, then thirty seconds on the naked man, you made an amusing tale into misery for your listeners. Sure, a little setup to the big reveal is a good way to create tension, but a little goes a long way. In a social setting, a good story is one that avoids extraneous details.

The easiest way to avoid loading up your sixty second story with ten minutes of tedium is to never explain the obvious. This is the most common error boring people make when telling a story. For some reason, they think they need to explain what everyone on earth has known since childhood. In the case of our turkey club, the boring person will actually explain what he means by turkey club or maybe even talk about the history of the turkey club. When in doubt, skip it.

Another way to avoid being the boring guy everyone avoids is to never tell a story that requires a back story. Boring people often start a story that should last three minutes, then veer into a long back story. For example, the they will veer into a story about how they met their lunch companion in the turkey club story. The result is a dull story about the lunch companion, plus a dull description of the turkey club. This is misery for listeners and is an unacceptable price for the pay-off.

The boring also have a funny habit of talking over people. They ignore the little things others do to signal to the boring that they need to stop talking. The boring are strangely competitive in their dullness. If you notice people starting to speak as soon as you take a breath, or they start looking at their phones, you are the boring guy. You are not going to improve this situation by talking louder or talking over any interruptions. Take the hint and wrap up your story.

A good way to stop yourself from being that guy is to always invite others to tell their story or comment on the topic of conversation. People will find your turkey club story more interesting if you showed interest in their lunch story. A little active listening goes a long way. It not only keeps you from droning on about the delicious turkey club, it makes you seem more interesting to others. Boring people are selfish people, in that they are only interested in their point of view, in far too much detail.

Finally, if it is a story you tell often and the listener is someone you know well, assume you told them the story, because you almost certainly did. Start with “If I told this before, stop me” or maybe, “I probably told this story before…” This gives them the right to stop you from boring them with the 80th retelling. This is a courtesy to the listener and it makes you seem more interesting. This is flattering to the listener and and they will think better of you for it.

The Immorality Of Immigration

Every ruling elite has certain primary duties. These are obligations that come before anything else. Regardless of the form of government, the rulers  have to maintain things like public order. Being the tribal chief is useless if your people are in chaos. For that matter, having a tribal chief is useless if it means living in chaos. Therefore, one of the primary duties of all rulers in all times and all places is to maintain public order by enforcing laws and local customs.

There are other primary duties of the ruler, like organizing the common defense, that are universal to all forms of government. Then there are primary duties that are peculiar to a people or to a form of government. If the ruler is understood to be a god, then the ruler and his retainers have to maintain that myth.  In modern western countries, protecting property rights and enforcing contracts is counted as a primary duty of the state in order to maintain its legitimacy

One of the more destructive things to happen to America over the last half century is the sacralizing of immigration by the elites. The endless repetition of the nonsense phrase “nation of immigrants” has turned a temporary expedient a century ago into an essential element of the nation’s founding mythology. The fact that immigration is a violation of the state’s primary duty to the people is excused because the immigrant now has a superior place in the moral order.

In a country like America, one that allegedly is built on consensual government, citizenship has great value. In fact, the most valuable thing to a citizen of a representative democracy is his citizenship. The reason for this is that citizenship is an ownership stake in the country. In theory, the American government was voluntarily founded as an agreement among individuals, invested with the power to secure mutual protection and regulate the relations among its members.

If you had the option of selling your citizenship, let us say at some sort of auction, there would be no shortage of bidders. For example, there is no shortage of buyers for the EB-5 visa, which costs $500,000. That is right, you can buy citizenship from the US government. Your citizenship is something of value and therefore, the state has a duty to protect it, just as they have a duty to protect your property rights. This is a primary duty of government.

When the American government hands out citizenship to millions of foreigners every year, it is stealing the value of your citizenship and giving it to someone else. This is no different than a company diluting the value of its shares by selling additional shares. It is why open borders fanatics swear that immigration makes us all richer, despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary. They know it is essential that people believe this as even the sacred immigrant is not enough to justify theft.

The argument from open borders people is that immigration is not just holy and beneficial. It is perfectly legitimate. The trouble is, when 50% plus one vote to rob the 50% minus one, it is still theft, even if it comes after an election. This is why America is not a democracy and it is also why democracy was famously called two wolves and a sheep voting on lunch. The very nature of democracy makes it an immoral form of rule because of the theft problem.

Additionally, a primary duty of the modern state is the maintenance of equality before the law. In fact, this is what makes the law legitimate. Not only do all citizens have a say in what laws are passed, but those laws apply to all citizens equally. The very nature of immigration violates this principle. Immigration steals from some citizens for the benefit of foreigners and the connected. This is true for quasi-immigration schemes like guest workers, as well as for permanent settlement.

If the primary duty of the state is to safeguard the citizens, including the value of their citizenship and maintain equality before the law, then immigration by its very nature is a direct violation of the social compact. It makes a mockery of the very idea of consensual government and sows distrust among the people. It is why all mass immigration quickly leads to a breakdown of order, because it erodes the legitimacy of the ruling authority, as the people see they are no longer willing to fulfill their basic duties.

That does not preclude all immigration. It is just that the bar is extremely high. In order to justify that which is naturally and always immoral, the offset must exceed the cost of the deed. Since this is impossible in the modern age, the open borders people have been forced to turn morality on its head, claiming the first duty of the state is to foreigners at the expense of its own citizens. It has turned America into a bust out where the value of your citizenship is stolen.

The Dumbening

An important project of the Left for a long time now has been to discredit the idea that intelligence is genetic and therefore heritable. In order to maintain the blank slate, they have to argue against genetics and evolution. Anytime someone can produce a study showing that environment alters life outcomes, progressives rush to the internet to trumpet the study as if it was holy writ. That has been the response to this Norwegian study on intelligence, that claims to observe a reverse in the Flynn Effect.

There is confusion in the commentary, because there is confusion about the meaning of the Flynn Effect. The Left likes to claim that the Flynn Effect shows that better schools and ideological indoctrination make people smarter. What the Flynn Effect observes is that populations get smarter as environmental conditions improve. People also get taller when environmental conditions improve. In other words, an improving physical environment means more people able to reach their genetic potential.

On the other hand, the other side often leaps to the conclusion that immigration and fertility rates exclusively drive IQ. This is true in the aggregate. Import large numbers of Africans into Iceland and the average intelligence of Iceland will decline. That does not mean the native Icelander got dumber, although the decision to import Africans could be proof of that claim. The Flynn Effect observes that children will be smarter than their parents, when environmental conditions improve. A better life means better kids.

This Norwegian study is causing blank slate believers to hyperventilate because it claims to show a decline in IQ within families. Specifically, the children are dumber than their parents and younger brothers are dumber than older brothers. Children born in the 1960’s had an average IQ a little over 99, while children born in the 1970’s had an average IQ of 102. Since then, IQ’s have declined to the 1960’s level. Because this was measured within families, it rules out genetics, dysgenics and immigration as causes.

Now, the first thing to note is that blank slate people employ the same tactic we used to see with the intelligent design people. The ID’ers would hunt around for anything they could hold up discrediting Darwin or natural selection, no matter how trivial or tangential, so they could claim evolution was not science. This was supposed to “prove” that intelligent design was therefore a valid theory. Blank slate people play the same game by trying to poke holes in genetics.

There’s a word for this sort of argument. It is called sophistry. Just because natural selection cannot solve every puzzle in the fossil record, that does not mean magic is the default explanation for the fossil record. Similarly, just because IQ’s appear to be declining within Norwegian families does not mean IQ is not heritable. It has always been known that intelligence varies within families. The question posed by this study is what is causing the change.

Further, it has been observed for a long time that average intelligence within Western societies have been declining since the 1970’s. Overall IQ appears to have peaked in the 1970’s and been in decline ever since. Immigration is one cause. Another is the habit of smart successful people having fewer children. The opening scene to Idiocracy is not entirely wrong, even though fertility among the poor has declined. Smart people used to have big families, because they could.

Again, this Norwegian study is not reporting this sort of result. Instead, they are picking up a decline within families. The one potential flaw is that it measures only male intelligence, which means sons are dumber than fathers and younger brothers are dumber than older brothers. The Flynn Effect observes increases in IQ within families due to improved environmental conditions. Therefore, a decline would logically be linked to some unknown environmental changes.

Of course, the changes are quite small, so it could simply be the Breeder’s Equation at work. The uptick in the sample population used in this study could have been driven by a bit of environmental luck. The decline is simply a reversion to the mean. The recent uptick you see in the above graph could also indicate a natural variance between a maximum and minimum for this group. The observable difference between a 99 and 102 IQ is so small it has no impact.

All that said, there are two things we know are true about human intelligence. One is the population with low-IQ’s are breeding like bunnies. Simple math says mankind is getting dumber on average. The other thing we know is that the load the smart fraction can carry is finite. Pile in enough stupid people in a population and eventually they overwhelm the efforts of the smart people. The puzzle is in figuring out the tipping point and the goal is to make sure to avoid it.

Prison Reform

One of the under discussed topics floating around Washington is prison reform, which has the support of President Trump. His son-in-law has been quietly whipping support for a bill backed by the White House. Trump’s photo-op with Kim Kardashian was part of the effort to get Democrat support for the bill. The point of the reform plan is to put more money into training and counseling for inmates, in an effort to reduce recidivism and decrease the prison population. America has 2.2 million prisoners.

Prison reform in America is a loser of an issue, mostly because all previous prison reform efforts have been nothing more than opening up the jails. Even if you are not old enough to remember the crime wave of the 1970’s, the “soft on crime, bleeding heart liberal” is a stock figure in pop culture. As a result, whites are solidly against anything with the name “prison reform” in it. That is why you never see blacks on TV making demands for prison reform. Their handlers have no interest in it.

Republicans in the House and Senate are in no hurry to pass anything. Even the open borders fanatics, who want to fill your neighborhood with criminal aliens and MS-13 gang-bangers, are not in a hurry to pass anything. Instead, they are doing the “comprehensive reform” dance, which is how politicians manage to do nothing, while endlessly talking about the need to do something. That means the odds of something getting done in the near term is not good.

That does not mean the status quo is workable. We have roughly 2.2 million people in jail at any moment. There are roughly 4.7 million people on parole, house arrest and court supervision. In a country of three hundred million, that is not a huge number, but seven million people is more than the population of Paraguay. It is close to twice the population of Ireland. One reason we have so many people in jail is it is a lot easier to manage criminals in jail than when they are on parole.

Of course, the prison population is about 40% black. That means about 2.5% of black people are in jail at any one time. Another 5% are under court supervision. As has been pointed out for decades, eliminate black crime and America is suddenly as docile as any other Western nation. That brings us back to the politics of prison reform, as everyone knows the stats on black crime. Since addressing the realities of the black population in America is forbidden, we maintain a massive human warehousing system.

The looming problem is demographics. In the 1990’s, getting tough on crime mostly meant longer sentences for smaller crimes. The “broken windows” approach to policing is mostly mythology, but getting crime under control does have a real impact. It works the same way the death penalty worked to pacify Europe. By handing out long jail sentences, cities like New York culled the herd. Eventually, the people sent away for 20 years get out of jail. What happens to them at that point?

A useful example, although not representative, is Joseph Konopka, who went by the name Dr. Chaos in his criminal career. He recruited a group of young people he called The Realm of Chaos, who committed acts of terrorism and vandalism in Wisconsin and Illinois. Konopka was arrested plotting a mass cyanide attack on the Chicago transit system. He is serving a 20-year sentence at ADX Florence and will be released in August of next year. How is that going to work out?

For those unfamiliar, ADX Florence is a prison for the worst of the worst. It is called a “supermax” prison, but the inmates call it the Alcatraz of the Rockies. It holds people like Larry Hoover of the Gangster Disciples, Barry Mills and Tyler Bingham of the Aryan Brotherhood. They also have Zacarias Moussaoui, Faisal Shahzad, Ramzi Yousef, Ted Kaczynski and Eric Rudolph. In other words, when Konopka comes out, he will have spent 20 years living with some of the most dangerous men on earth.

This is an extreme example, but illustrative. The solution to crime was to lock people up, which made sense at the time, but no one thought much about what those prisons would produce in 20-30 years. Granted, many men coming out of the system are going to be old, but they will still be useless, as the prison did nothing to ready them for life after jail. There is zero chance the social justice warriors running Facebook or Starbucks will be hiring Joseph Konopka upon his release.

The right answer, of course, is to start accepting reality about the last 70 years of social reform that started after WW2. Crime spiraled upward when the constraints on non-whites were removed, and diversity was imposed on whites. Steve Sailer famously used Katrina to illustrate this biological reality. Black crime would be half of what it is today, most of which is against other blacks, if whites were willing to reimpose the sorts of cultural restraints common before Civil Rights.

That said, the diversity horse has left the barn. By turning America into a majority-minority nation, the ruling class of the last half century has condemned future generations to endemic crime problems like you see in Brazil. One solution to this is the return of penal colonies and criminal reservations. The people serving life terms should be housed on remote islands where they can live out their lives, without causing harm to other prisoners and prison guards.

Penal colonies would also mean a shift in sentencing. A guy like Joseph Konopka would not get 20 years. Instead, he would get life in the colony. In fact, a fair chunk of the 2.2 million currently in jail would get sent to the penal colonies. There is simply no point in pretending that a man can come out after 30 years in a gladiator academy and be a normal person in society. There is no point in pretending the rest of us wish to invest in the effort, even assuming it is possible.


In early December of 1241, the great Mongol army was camped on the Hungarian plain, poised to invade Europe “all the way to the Great Sea.” In the spring, they had defeated the Hungarian army at the battle of Mohi and spent the summer and fall ravaging eastern Europe. By autumn, all of the lands east of what is now modern Germany had been subdued by the Mongols. There was no army between the Mongols and the Atlantic Ocean capable of stopping them.

Then, in the middle of December, Ogedei Khan, the Great Khan, died on a hunting trip, most likely drunk. He was well known as a drunkard and the legend is that he fell off his horse while drunk. Regardless of the reason, his death required all of the Mongol leaders to return home and select a new Great Khan. That meant the Mongol army returned home. It was one of those fortunate events that probably made it possible for Europe to be Europe.

To put this into some perspective, the Mongols invaded what is now Iraq, known in the 13th century as the Abbasid Caliphate. This was the third caliphate, whose rulers were descended from Abbas, the uncle of Muhammad. Baghdad was the capital and one of the most advanced cities in the world. The Mongols sacked the city in 1258, putting up to one million people to the sword. They destroyed the city, filled the canals, and stole or burned everything of value.

At the time, Baghdad was the center of the Islamic world. The Grand Library of Baghdad may have been the most important center of knowledge on earth. It had books ranging from medicine to astronomy. The thirty-six public libraries in the city were also burned. Of course, the scholars and learned people who used those books and libraries were murdered. The center of Islamic learning was destroyed. The population of the city and surrounding areas did not recover until the 19th century.

The point of this is that serendipity often plays a definitive role in humans affairs. At the dawn of the 13th century, there was no reason to think Europe was about to rocket ahead of the rest of the world. Through the Middle Ages, Europe slowly began to develop more advanced societies and develop a high culture, but they were still playing catch-up with Asia and the Middle East. The unexpected and unpredictable events of the Mongol invasions radically changed the trajectory of the world.

In retrospect, it is easy to look at a singular event like the Great Khan dropping dead just when his armies are about to sack Europe and see the significance. Once you read the story of the Mongol invasions, you know the West dodged something close to a meteor strike. The Siege of Baghdad, and its subsequent obliteration, is probably the great inflection point in the history of Islam. The Islamic intellectual curve bent sharply downward because of the Mongol invasions.

The thing is serendipity can also be the result of great stupidity. The Mongols initially tried to establish trade relations with the Khwarezmid Shah, who ruled the lands between the Mongols and the Abbasid Caliphate. The trouble was the caliph and shah hated one another and conspired to keep each other from making a deal. It is a matter of dispute, but some historians argue that the Mongols never would have invaded if they could have struck a deal. They took the rejection as an insult and invaded.

This brings us to some rather interesting serendipity of our own age. In 2015, there was no reason to think the 2016 election was going to be important. The smart money said it would be Bush versus Clinton. If not Bush, then Bush clone. Then like the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs, Trump entered the race and altered the political trajectory of the empire. Not only has this event extinguished the Bush wing of the GOP, but it is also threatening the neo-liberal world order.

How did this happen? Mostly it is due to Trump getting angry about how the political class has treated him. Like all rich guys, he had spread his money around to buy friends in the political class. He never had any respect for them, but if you want to do business in the world you have to do business with the people who run it. According to people who know him, what got Trump interested in running is being disrespected by the people in the chattering classes.

How this improbable event happened is going to be debated for a long time, but there is no debate about the consequences. Imagine if Clinton were president. The CIA meddling in our politics would only have accelerated. The corruption of the FBI would never have been revealed. In fact, it would have metastasized. People like to focus on the policy issues, but without the miracle of Trump, Washington would be ruled today by a dumpy old Caligula in a muumuu.

Here is another bit of serendipity. This would never have come to light if not for two stupid moves by the Democrats. One is the nonsense about Russian hacking. For no other reason than spite, the Left embraced this ridiculous narrative. The other is the  demands for an IG investigation of the FBI’s handling of the Clinton e-mail stuff. They were the ones who demanded it, after blaming Comey for the election loss. Two dumb decisions have changed the world.

Countries And Nations

In our current age, we just assume that the world is organized into countries. Look at any map and there is no place on earth that is not part of a country. The exceptions are the Arctic and Antarctica. They are governed by a coalition of countries, but they lack more than a sprinkling of people. Otherwise, every bit of the world that has people is part of a country. More important, a bedrock assumption is that countries are a permanent part of the human condition. Countries are forever.

Nothing is forever, of course, but we can get a sense of how durable the current country model is by looking at some recent examples. The war in Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein revealed that Iraq was not a unified country. The big sectarian divisions of Sunni, Shia and Kurdish quickly became obvious. Within those larger divisions, there were smaller groups with other loyalties. There are 150 tribes in Iraq and below that are hundreds of clans and thousands of houses. Iraq is a complicated place.

It turned out that keeping Iraq together required a very strong central government with the ability to balance the various tribes against one another to keep the peace. Even after the US military figured it out and pacified most of the place, the government did not fully control all of the country. The only reason it remains an intact country today is the surrounding countries prevent it from breaking up and the West provides money and material so the government can survive.

The fact is, Iraq is a country only as long as the rest of the countries accept it as a country and help it keep together. If Iran decides it wants to annex part of the country, a part with coreligionists loyal to Iran, there’s not much Iraq can do about it. Joseph Tainter explained this in his book The Collapse of Complex Societies. In the modern age, a society is unlikely to collapse, because of the surrounding countries. Like Iraq, a country can go through a very difficult period, but ultimately survive.

At the other end of the country scale, in terms of internal stability, we have some good recent examples in Eastern Europe. The Visegrád Group, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, have managed to stay together, despite enormous external pressures. Just surviving the Soviet Empire is something close to a miracle, given what happened to Russia proper. Now, under enormous pressure to allow millions of foreign invaders into their countries, they persevere.

This is not hard to understand. Poland is 98% Polish. They speak Polish in their homes and see themselves as Polish by ethnicity. The tiny minority communities, like the Silesians, have been there for as long as anyone knows. Slovakia is 80% Slovak, with another 9% Hungarian. That minority population has been there forever. The Czech Republic is 95% Czech. These countries are not just arbitrary concepts. They are nation-states that share a common language and a common heritage.

The peculiar history of these countries may explain why they have survived as nation-states, but also why they resist the call for open borders. All of these nation-states have been absorbed by empires, but they have never been on the other end. Poland never tried to conquer Europe. Still, the core reason they have managed to survive through conquest and division is they are nation-states. What this says is that countries can come and go, but the nation-state has permanence.

That brings us to another type of country, the United States. At the founding, calling America a nation-state was a bit of a stretch, but not unreasonable. The overwhelming majority of the people were English and spoke English. There were some Dutch and Indians, with some French sprinkled in, but the only other ethnic group of any consequence were Germans. They were about 10% of the population at the founding and clustered in the midland states.

That’s not the America of today. You can probably just lump in the whites as a single ethnic group, the White American, but we have large numbers of non-whites. Then you have those old regional cultures that are still lurking in the background, creating new divisions among the newcomers, as the newcomers magnify those divisions. Somalis dumped in Maine are going to change the state in a different way than those dumped into West Virginia. America is looking like Iraq now.

A reasonable person should wonder how long before America starts to have the same troubles as we saw in Iraq. The central government is better organized and more capable than the Iraqi government, but there are limits to everything. The Federal government largely depends on the states voluntarily going along with what the Federal legislature decides is the law. But as we see with California, states are starting to buck this trend, mostly due to their new citizens.

This brings us back to Tainter. His conclusion, after reviewing and analyzing why complex societies collapse, is that the modern age has too much inter-dependency for a society to collapse. Countries have deep connections with other countries. Everyone agrees upon the borders and that the country system must be maintained. The thing is though, the primary force behind this is the United States. Without American economic and military might, the country system probably falls apart.

That’s not to say America is headed for a collapse or even a crackup. Maybe as the country turns into Brazil demographically, it will avoid becoming Brazil economically and culturally. The bigger question though is when does the internal cost of keeping this country together cut into the resources needed to keep the country system together? At what point does the vibrancy of America make it impossible to keep an Iraq together or a Mexico from dissolving into chaos?

The Book Of Spite

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

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

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

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

I was wrong. This book is terrible in ways that I did not expect. The terribleness starts in the introduction, which is written in the jocular style you would expect from a short blog post about a television show or a movie. In fact, he relies on quotes from movies to make his points. When you pick up a book with the pretentious title Suicide of the West, it better read like a serious book. Instead, Goldberg becomes Shecky Goldberg doing a vaudeville routine based on Western philosophy.

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

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

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

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

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

The result is a dull book by an equally dull writer.