Ruminations on the Great Game

If you are floating around on your yacht in the Black Sea and decide to visit your home on an island in the wine dark Aegean, you will have to first pass through the Bosporus into the Sea of Marmara and then through the Dardanelles into the Aegean. If you keep going, you end up in the Mediterranean. It’s reasonable to say that a lot of the important stuff in Western history happened in and around what we call the Turkish Straights.

It’s also reasonable to say that a lot of what is going to happen in Western Civ will be happening in and around this area. Those Muslim hordes pouring into Europe are mostly crossing Asia Minor into Greece and the Balkans and then making their way to your town. The Turks have found a clever new weapon to lever concessions out of the Germans. They now control the flow of terrorists into the heart of Europe.

The downing of the Russian plane by the Turks is a reminder that the place where civilization started could very well be when it ends too. The Turks and the Russians have fought wars going back to the 16th century. It may go even further back as there are a lot of blond haired, green-eyed Turks. There are a lot of swarthy looking Russians who can grow a beard in hours. In other words, the two sides have been swapping wives the old fashioned way for a long time.

The most recent was 100 years ago when the Turks decided to try to recover some lost lands from the Russians during The Great War. With the Russians fighting the Germans and struggling to keep their army supplied, the Turks figured it was a good time to strike so they launched an attack into the Caucuses. It did not end well for the Turks, but it really did not end well for the Armenians. Anyone who has ever known an Armenian knows they will never forgive the Turks.

One of the many reasons America has no business mucking around in that part of the world is we know pretty much nothing about that part of the world. On the other hand, the people in that part of the world know everything about that part of the world. History for them is a nightmare from which they can never awake. All sides have old scores they would like to settle for no reason other than that’s who they are and that is what they do.

It’s why the Russians getting into Syria should be our sign to get the bleep out of the region and leave the locals to settle their disputes. The Turks should be told that NATO will not get involved in any war they start with the Russians. Maybe deliver it with a copy of Churchill’s The World Crisis, Volume II where he describes the thinking behind his plan to seize the Dardanelles. American leaders are too stupid to appreciate their own stupidity so we will blunder along regardless.

Of course, it is not just the Turks and Russians. The collapse of Syria is the latest chapter of the intra-Islamic war that is playing out in fits and starts between Saudi Arabia (Sunni) and Persia (Shi’a). The former is willing to destroy OPEC in an effort to throttle Russia and Iran. The latter is willing to risk war with Israel (a war they would lose) in order to get a nuke, which would make them the regional hegemon.

The Russians, of course, have long range goals that have little to do with the war within Islam. They are just seeking advantage where they can find it. The Turks are Sunni, so it is convenient for the Russians to play the game in order to provoke the Turks. It will not be long before the Russians figure out how to “help” the Kurds and maybe encourage them to demand a separate homeland. The odds of a full blown war between the Turks and Russians are small, but an unconventional war with the local variety of “little green men” popping up in Asia Minor is not out of the question.

Putin may have dreams of sacking Constantinople, driving off the Muslims and repopulating the place with Cossacks, but that seems unlikely. Instead, he probably sees an opening to regain influence over the Balkans. That fits with Putin’s pattern of casting himself as the protector of the Slavs. Plus, control of the Balkans means another pressure point on Europe. When your best customer is also paying you to keep the frontier under control, you become the indispensable man.

More important, increased influence in the Balkans means it is another entry point for Iranian oil and gas. Look at the map and you can see that Russia controls a third of the Black Sea coast. Building strong relations with the Balkan states and that control grows to more than fifty percent. If the Turks are pinned down with the Syrians to the South and restless Kurds in the east, they will not be much of a problem in the Balkans.

The Russians have been at this a long time. It is in their nature. Americans, on the other hand, can’t stop thinking about Hitler. It’s tempting to think the West is simply allergic to nationalism, but it may not be that sophisticated. Fear of Hitler keeps the defense dollars from Washington flowing. Millions of people make a tidy living watching out for Hitler. Reality simply does not pay as well.

Even so, 100 years ago conventional wisdom said war was a thing of the past. A 1910 best-selling book, The Great Illusion, used economic arguments to demonstrate that large scale wart had become unprofitable. Global commerce had eliminated war. You hear the same arguments today. If a country has a McDonald’s, it is no longer interested in war. Not long after The Great Illusion was published, war became inevitable and it started in the Balkans.

My Theory of Everything: Part IV

In times of plenty, the weeds find life easy. The trouble is weeds flourish at the expense of everything else so the times of plenty are self-limiting. This is especially true in human society. In good times the soft and sneaky can be tolerated so they flourish, corrupting society over time until either some crisis requires reform or that crisis overwhelms the society.

Steppe people like the Mongols understood this. In fact, the genius of Genghis Khan was in truly understanding the dynamic. The hill people would raid the valley people because they were tougher and meaner. They would soon settle down and become soft and stupid like the people they conquered. In a generation or two a new hill people would come along and the cycle would repeat.

In America, a culture evolved in a world without fear of invasion. That’s an important thing to understand about America. It is a continental people with an islander’s mentality. Sure, Indians were some threat, but from the start the colonists knew who was on the winning side of history. It did not take long before the people understood it was their destiny to conquer the continent.

Internally, the country evolved with various cultural groups jostling with one another for influence. This natural competition for resources (land) made everyone better, bolder and more aggressive. For a country evolving at the dawn of the money era, a culture that rewards risk taking, creativity and experimentation is an enormous asset.

Think about it. The country comes into existence in 1789 and roughly 100 years later knocks off Spain and steals many of her overseas possessions. In four generations a collection of farmers and tinkerers was on the cusp of being the mightiest economic power in the world, with a military soon to follow and match it.

From the Civil War forward, America was becoming a land of abundance without any natural enemies. Sure, the Europeans could make war on American shipping or cause financial mischief, but there was no fear of being invaded or having land taken by force. The result was a ruling class that imagined no risk premium for policy decisions. No matter how boneheaded the policy, there’s no perceived downside.

The Civil War is a great example to use here. It was entirely unnecessary but made possible by the understanding that America had no reason to fear outside threats. Europe could fund one side on the other. Europe could muck about in American shipping and finance, but there was no worry that some outside power would take advantage of the war and seize Ohio.

That was the lesson of 1812. The young country could be boarded by pirates from over the horizon, but those pirates could only cause mischief, not sink the new country. Eventually, their supplies would be exhausted and they would flee or die. Therefore, two groups of fanatics within America could tear into each other in a bloodbath over slavery. The group of fanatics that won were left with an ecosystem to flourish in which there were no natural enemies.

That’s largely been the story of the last 150 years in America. For fifty years after the Civil War, Public Protestantism slowly morphed into Progressivism, mostly through various reform movements. With the rest of the country flattened by war, the old Yankee Protestants had no natural enemies and were free to outgrow the restraints of religion, through the Social Gospel and finally the Progressive Movement. By the time Europe was ready to commit suicide, American was a growing industrial power run by fanatics convinced it was their destiny to reshape the world in God’s image.

Again, without any substantial threat from outside, this mode of thought could flourish without consequence. If the Europeans had not tried to obliterate themselves in two great wars, America probably would have evolved into a slightly violent Canada. Instead, the massive void left by the implosion of Europe allowed the world’s remaining power to become the world’s dominant power.

The Pax Americana has been good for the world, but it has not been without consequence. In America, it has resulted in a warped political culture in which one side is always on the prowl for some new enemy in the world on which to unleash the world’s dominant military. The other side is turning over every rock domestically for any signs of the South rising again. Like a teeter-totter, one side dominates for a while and then descends while the other side rises.

This is fine as long as America and the West, over which America presides, are safe and secure militarily and economically. The Europeans have been able to indulge in one social welfare scheme after another because they have relied on American military might to keep them safe. Similarly, America has built an elaborate and dysfunctional domestic social structure because the dollar is the world’s currency. King Offa would be proud.

Nothing lasts forever and everything that must end eventually does end. Europe is now being invaded from the south at the same time that elements of her own population are becoming hostile to the developing social arrangements. If you scour the international press, you find a lot of signs that the natives are getting very restless. No people have flung open the doors to invaders without there being violent, transformative consequences.

In America, the South has finally rebounded and become as economically and culturally strong as the rest of the country. We are a generation away from there being a real challenge to the dominant mode of thought. Progressives can look at a map too and that’s why they are in a panic, hoping to flood the hinterlands with migrants in an attempt to dilute the opposition. Alex Tabarrok wants to fill your neighborhood with foreigners because he fears you more than he fears them.

Internationally, the economic arrangements are being challenged all over, with the currency arrangements running out of steam. Central banks are keeping the whole thing from collapsing, but the international appetite for maintaining the dollar as the reserve currency is waning. When that ends, the cost of Progressive rule in America will no longer be exported abroad through currency manipulation.

We are in the downside of a very long cycle that is now heading for an end. At the same time, what is bringing about that end is the first real external threat to Western Europe in centuries and the end of America’s economic dominance of the world. The dream of global government where ruling elites are untethered from national loyalties will never materialize. It is at odds with human biology. What comes next will be a settling of the greatest threat to civilization since the Black Plague. This time the plague walks on two feet and demands to go on the dole.

Thinking About Stuff

Thinking about things is both easy and hard. It is easy to sit around, like the mass of our academics, frittering away the day dreaming of nonsense that is of no consequence to anyone. If you are, for example, Leah Lowthorp of Harvard University, thinking about the world is easy. She is the Harvard College Fellow in Folklore & Mythology so she spends her days thinking about elves and sprites.

If on the other hand, if you wish to understand something about the real world, thinking about the stuff you see and hear for the purpose of discovering truths about the world is hard. The world is complicated. There are easy to recognize trend lines, but seemingly infinite variables underlying them. Even the stuff we think we now can be turned on its head quickly.

I would imagine that most of my readers have heard about the many worlds interpretation and some of you may even know the math. I used to have a reader who was a doctoral candidate in physics, but I have not heard from him in some time. Regardless, this is extremely tough stuff that is well beyond what most of us can comprehend. I suspect most people reject the “Big Bang” because it makes no sense to them. It does not make that much sense to physicists.

Anyway, this came to mind when reading this post by Steve Sailer today. Sailer is a smart guy, but he has his blind spots and knowledge holes just like everyone else. My first reaction was to jump on the fact that political parties are not very good proxies for ideological groupings. One of my pet themes is the broader, more subtle cultural groupings that define American political life.  Somewhere in the comments I make that point.

In those comments is something that got me thinking about how hard it is to think about this stuff in a clear way.

Worth reading all of the posts Jayman links to. He has written on this extensively.

It is also worth considering how much the political orientation gap among white Republicans and white Democrats has widened over time. In the mid-seventies, white Republicans were only slightly more likely to self-identify as politically conservative than white Democrats were. That difference has trebled in the last four decades to the point that white Republicans are now far more likely to identify as conservative than white Democrats are.

Political orientation is probably more heritable than partisan affiliation. I’d guess the gap will appear wider on the liberal-moderate-conservative spectrum than on the Democrat-independent-Republican one.

Two variables that are stronger predictors of fertility than political orientation or party affiliation are educational attainment (inversely correlated, especially for women) and religiosity (positively correlated–to the extent that high IQ people who attend religious services regularly outbreed the irreligious at every level of intelligence, social class, race/ethnicity, etc.

Parenthetically, educational attainment looks to be the driving force, not intelligence. Fertility by wordsum score varies little once educational attainment is controlled for, but educational attainment is a strong predictor even after wordsum score is controlled for–put more clearly, educational attainment is 5x as strong a predictor of fertility as IQ is.

The strong inverse relationship between education and fertility shows up strongly on the international level as well.

For as long as I have been alive, the official religion has claimed education results in fewer children. Specifically, educated women have fewer children. Even more specifically, stupid uneducated women have litters of rugrats because they are too dumb to work a rubber. This is the automatic response from Progressives anytime the topic of fertility comes up. I have heard it since forever.

That’s always struck me as ridiculous. Stupid teenage girls know where babies come from and how they are made. Humans have understood the mechanics of baby making since the dawn of time. The ancients knew about the use of Silphium as a contraceptive and abortifacient. The women of Rome were not heading off to the university to study folklore, yet they seem to have known where babies came from and how to prevent pregnancy.

Further, there are plenty of examples to the contrary. In the English speaking world, there was a time when the upper classes had loads of kids as a way to signal their success and intelligence.Then we have modern Iran where women don’t have ready access to formal education and their TFR is below replacement. The connection between education and fertility, if one exists, is not necessarily causal.

That’s where things get hard and maybe why the official response is the official response. There’s something that drives women to seek out credentials and it also may drive them to avoid motherhood. In other words, there’s some third element that explains the correlation between education and fertility. But, thinking about that is hard and it may reveal things that are unpleasant. Best not to get too close to those truths.

Watching the iceberg of life is easiest from a distance. Get too close and you discover unpleasant things, like there is a big portion of it under the waterline ripping a hole in the hull of your ideological ship. Everyone on the Titanic was wiser about the human condition after the ship started taking on water, but it came with a dear price. Most people are happy to not know and you can’t blame them for that.

Even so, fertility rates tend to fall when a society’s prospects are on the wane. In times of stress, we typically see a spike in religious observance. Yet in the West, church attendance has collapsed along with fertility rates. At the same time, the quest for credentials by women is at an all-time high. The women of the West are telling us something through their behavior, but no one seems all that interested.

The Mosque on the Hill

One of my themes here is to point out the similarities between modern Progressives and the Islamic lunatics in the Middle East. Both sides of that equation would deny the equality symbol exists, but that’s the nature of the fanatic. The hatred of Islamists toward the West, in most respects, is due to the similarities they perceive in the other side. You always hate most in others what you fear about yourself.

One way to look at ISIS is in the context of the sectarian wars within the Christian West starting with the 30 Years War. The first schisms eventually lead to increasingly extreme  rejections of the dominant sect culminating in the Puritans who left the West entirely and set out for the wilderness. The folks who landed on Plymouth Rock were the ISIS of their day.

It turns out that Obama agrees with me.

This Thanksgiving, President Obama is calling for Americans to lend a helping hand to another group of pilgrims fleeing persecution.
“Nearly four centuries after the Mayflower set sail, the world is still full of pilgrims – men and women who want nothing more than the chance for a safer, better future for themselves and their families,” Obama said in his weekly address Thursday. “What makes America America is that we offer that chance.”

The president praised Americans who have offered to open their homes to refugees fleeing war-torn Syria.

“One woman from Pennsylvania wrote to me to say, ‘Money is tight for us in my household. … But I have a guest room. I have a pantry full of food. We can do this,’ ” Obama said.

“Another woman from Florida told me her family’s history dates back to the Mayflower — and she said that welcoming others is part of ‘what it means to be an American,’ ” he added.

Obama called for citizens to put the “generosity” of America on full display by welcoming refugees into the country with arms wide open.

“I hope that you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving, surrounded by loved ones and full of joy and gratitude,” he said. “And together, may we all play our own small part in the American story, and write a next chapter that future generations can be thankful for.”

Obama, like all Progressives, sees the West as a fading force in the world. The future will belong to the yellow, brown and black. You really can’t blame him for that. That’s what the facts are telling us.Just look at the television for a short time. It’s Pale, Male and Stale being pushed aside by young and vibrant. The Puritans had the same view of Europe in the 17th century.

There’s a new Audi commercial that captures this perfectly. It starts with an old white guy thinking no one is coming for the Solstice celebration. He’s putting away all those old western culture items, preparing to have dog food for dinner. Then, his mixed race family arrives and all is good. His hilariously black granddaughter informs him how Audi is responsible for her being there. Not hard to see the point of that ad.

Audi is letting you know, old white man, that the future is not you. Audi is the future, helping bring the black, brown and yellow to you. You better embrace it. That way you can have some peace in your final years. Otherwise, it’s dog food for you. Or, worse.

That’s ultimately why the Left across the West wants to flood your neighborhood with young male Arabs. You’re not just the past. You’re a wilderness, a nothing, into which the vibrant people of the future will arrive and build a new mosque on the hill. In the process, that means slaughtering the locals and pushing them into holding pens, but let’s not notice that and instead pretend our sacrifice will be noted by Allah God.

Imagination Land

If you view the mass media through a skeptical lens, you can’t help but notice how parts of the official narrative are at odds with observable reality. The “whole black lives matter” nonsense is a good example. It is a handful of paid trouble makers, but the media carries on like it is a great wave sweeping society. Even race obsessed blacks know that the biggest threat to black lives in America is black lives.

The thing is, the flow of made up nonsense is so steady and universal, it is easy to stop noticing it. Everything is warped to fit the narrative in a million little ways that is hard to notice after a while. Take a look at this “news” story in the sports pages.

A Florida State official said in a deposition that 20 rape claims had been made against Seminole football players in the last nine years, according to the Associated Press.

Melissa Ashton, the director of FSU’s victim advocate program, made the statement last summer during a deposition in the ongoing civil lawsuit filed by former student Erica Kinsman against the university. Kinsman said the university failed to respond to her allegations that former quarterback Jameis Winston raped her.

The deposition was released as part of an open records request by the Associated Press.

Ashton also asserted that she thought football players received special treatment at the school and that most of the alleged victims declined to press charges for fear of retaliation.

A Florida State spokesperson told the Associated Press that the school could not confirm the number of allegations because communications with victims in confidential through the victim advocate program.

The first red flag is the weird data set of nine years. That tells me they are trying to have fun with numbers to get a scary statistic. Even so, let’s use the nine year figure. How many players would have gone through the program in nine years? Roughly 300 is the number. A college program carries 100 players and adds/subtracts 25 per year. Using a full roster in year one. they added 200 new players over the subsequent eight years.

Let’s assume for a second that these rape claims are actually rapes and not the more common “next morning regrets”, that’s 20 rapes in a pool of 300 men. Let’s assume the worst case and none of the “rapes” were committed by the same men. That’s a 6.6% rapist population. Even the most outlandish estimates from the rape industry claim 4.5% of males are rapists.

So, the reporting of the “rape epidemic” seems plausible, until you think about how a man gets a scholarship to play football at an American college. For their demographic, these males have higher grades and test scores than their coevals. They overwhelmingly come from two-parent families compared to their cohort. They have participated in extracurricular activities for most of their primary school years.

More important, they are subjected to extensive background checks that go back to elementary school. These kids have been recruited since they hit puberty. Teachers, coaches and counselors have been hovering around them 24/7 as soon as they showed promise as an athlete. In college, they have full time minders to watch over them.

The point being is that the likelihood that football players will have a 50% higher rape rate is at odds with everything else we know. Scholarship athletes have higher graduation rates than the general student population and lower overall crime rates than their demographic cohorts (age, sex, race). In other words, the rape industry is suggesting that the “rape culture” as it pertains to athletics is this wild outlier, completely out of sync with all of the other statistics.

Of course, that’s not the case. One of those rape claims is against Jameis Winston. The police, Feds and school have investigated this, depriving him of many normal protections in an effort to corroborate the accuser’s charges. The facts suggest the accuser got drunk, went home with the player, woke up and figured out she may have won a golden ticket. How many of the other charges are similarly bogus is unknown, but some surely are.

That’s the easy stuff to spot for a crime thinker like the people reading this blog. Shame on you! The hard part is picking out the more subtle agit-prop baked into mass media reports. The line, “most of the alleged victims declined to press charges for fear of retaliation” is the sort of thing we always see in these stories, but never see much in the way of supporting evidence.

What we’re supposed to believe is the college campus is a testosterone fueled penis culture where women are treated like the TV show Mad Men imagined women were treated in the olden thymes. Here we have legions of examples where males are driven off campus for wearing a sombrero on Cinco de Mayo, but they have a free hand to wear the coeds as hats.

At Yale, a women falsely accused a male student of rape. Her charges were dismissed as entirely without merit. She was permitted to harass the male student and have her friends harass the guy. The campus even helped her do it. Yet, we’re supposed to think that women who were actually raped really fear retaliation? The only way to believe that is to believe the same admins celebrating “mattress girl” are then shaming real rape victims.

Mass media is Imagination Land for the ruling elite. Granted, much of it is deliberate. The people running the BBC want to use their power to shape behavior, promote their friends and skim money from the people through taxes. The same rackets exist everywhere in the West. That said, a lot of it is just a general insanity that has infected these people, like a rage virus. For them, reality has become the enemy at the gates.

My Theory of Everything: Part III

The American domestic conflicts of the current age are unique in human history in that they are entirely caused by social reformers. In prior ages, reformers sprung up when there was a need for actual reform. Social conditions demanded changes so that the people could attain a higher degree of peace and prosperity. Today, peace and prosperity are the default, so reformers sow discord and mayhem, like firemen who set fires, so they have something to do.

It is tempting to assume this is by design, but as Goethe put it, “misunderstandings and neglect create more confusion in this world than trickery and malice. At any rate, the last two are certainly much less frequent.” While there are certainly cases where the people in charge swing the wrecking ball just for fun, more often it is due to incompetence, an incompetence that is the inevitable outgrowth of a universalist worldview.

One defect of the universalist mind is the inability to appreciate the complexity of life.  This is something most people understand intuitively. What works for you in your life is probably not going to work for everyone. The proletarian cliche of “different strokes for different folks” did not spring from nothing. It is a readily observable phenomenon and why restaurants have menus and cars come in different colors.

The great minds that rule over us just assume that everyone wants what they want, hates what they hate and loves what they love. There’s no room in their imagination for valid and legitimate alternatives to their ethics or even their aesthetics. Instead, when our betters hear the phrase “different strokes for different folks” they assume it means varying the application of the whip in order to achieve conformity.

This is the color of every great blunder made by the American ruling class over the last half century. They cannot imagine that anyone, at least anyone worth considering, would have different priorities, values, or passions. In foreign policy it means blundering into foreign lands handing out ballots at gun point. Domestically it means toppling over traditional institutions in favor of technocratic solutions that appeal to no one but their designers.

Another aspect of this is the inability to grasp the concept of scale. An old gag in statistics is that quantity has a quality of its own. Many things simply do not scale up or down very well. An obvious example is the New England town meeting system of governance. In a small town, getting the citizens together to hash out problems works very well. Try that in New York City and you end up with a riot. Try that in New Orleans and you have a hip-hop video.

The universalists cannot grasp that what works for them in their small groups of privilege and plenty cannot scale up to society as a hole. Caroline Swipple in Greenwich thinks it is great that Whole Foods does not sell sugary breakfast cereals. She thinks that should be the case everywhere so she demands government ban the sale of Fruit Loops. It is baked into the universalist worldview that their personal choices are universally good so they just assume they will work for everyone.

From the outside, it simply looks like the people in charge, the so-called social justice warriors, are just ignorant busy bodies obsessed with pushing people around. In some cases it appears to be spite that motivates them. Making smokers huddle in alleyways behind the pubs looks like the sort of thing one does to someone they hate. But that is not what is driving it. It is a blinkered view of life that cannot incorporate the great complexity and variety of human action.

This narrow view of life is the root of another defect and that is the lack of self-awareness. Stable, sensible people have some regard for their limitations. They know that some problems are not fixable. The best you can do is work around them. The people in charge, truly believe that all problems are solvable, including death itself. Not just that, but they are certain they are the ones to solve them.

The constant blundering in the Middle East is the most obvious example. Since the Bronze Age, the people living in and around Mesopotamia have been at war with one another. This is the nature of tribal people who have outlandishly high rates of inbreeding. Cousin marriage is near universal in some parts of the world, the most clannish parts of the world. Cousin marriage fosters clannishness, corruption and clan warfare.

Violent, tribal societies composed of low-IQ individuals is not the raw material for a liberal democracy. Despite these well known facts on the ground and 5,000 years of history, American leaders have been blundering around the Middle East for over 25 years. Bush gets most of the blame, but Obama has proven to be just as incompetent, despite actually being a Muslim of sorts. Obama, like Bush, just assumes he’ll solve thousands of years of problems in a few years.

When you roll it all up, America is a country with an abundance of peace and prosperity, but an overabundance of blinkered blunderers obsessed with conquering the human condition. Almost all of what ails us as a people is inflicted upon us by people who simply refuse to leave well enough alone. There is no version of the social contract that obligates or even permits the civil authorities to sow discord among the people. Yet, that is exactly where we find ourselves.

Thus, ends Part III

My Theory of Everything: Part II

Yesterday I got started on this project by blabbering on about my view of the dominant mode of thought in America. Today, I’m going to get into the chief alternative to it. I’m using the word “alternative” loosely as few people of any consequence subscribe to this view.  Those that do tend to come from the parts of the country and culture that are unrepresented in the American elite.

One of those areas, and one that is a convenient example, is the US military. The great innovation Americans brought to war fighting is the prioritization of training over discipline. Put another way, the prioritization of what gets done over how it gets done. Soldiers and officers are encouraged to be creative in their problem solving and be mission focused.

This was most evident in the Great War at the Battle of Belleau Wood. German commanders ordered an advance through the woods onto the Marine’s position. The French commander ordered a retreat, but American General James Harbord refused the order and told his men to hold their position. Both the French and the Germans marveled afterwards at the ferocity and improvisational tactics of the American Marines.

On the afternoon of 3 June, German infantry attacked the Marine positions through the grain fields with bayonets fixed. The Marines dug shallow individual trenches so they could lie concealed, but still fight while lying on their bellies. The Marines waited until the Germans were within 100 yards and then opened fire. The German infantry was mowed down and the remainder was forced back into the woods.

The legend of the United States Marine Corp was born in the Battle of Belleau Wood not because they had great leadership, or they had superior numbers. It was not technology that gave the Marines their edge. It was their tenacity, improvisational prowess and unrelenting ferocity in pursuit of the mission. “The deadliest weapon in the world is a United States Marine and his rifle,” was said by General Pershing after this battle.

The philosophy at work here is you solve problems by giving competent people the tools and the support to go solve the problem. How they solve the problem is secondary. In small business, this is the dominant mode of thought. The owner can be seen washing the toilets then signing payroll checks. Alternatively, his second in command could take over the toilet washing and then hire a new person for accounting. The point is to get the job done, whatever it takes.

It is in sales that this way of looking at the world is still dominant most everywhere. No matter the industry or scale, salesmen are always on some sort of commission system. They are also given more freedom of action than other employees. You hire a good salesman, train him on the product, give him a quota and let him go, trusting that your best weapon is a salesman and his commission check.

Hold on. My meth dealer is here.

The pithy and patriotic examples aside, this way of thinking is most popularly understood as using “the right tool for the job.” It may not be the perfect tool and the completion of the job may not be ideal, but often, good enough is, in fact, good enough. Underlying this mode of thought is the understanding that the human condition is immutable. Perfection is for the afterlife. In this life, human error is a feature, not a bug.

For most of Western history, this has been the dominant mode of thought. Even in the age of kings, finding the right man for the job was the way things were done. No one had grand, complex schemes for creating the perfect society. In fact, having grand schemes for creating heaven on earth was a good way to get burned at the stake.

The Antichrist’s deception already begins to take shape in the world every time the claim is made to realize within history that messianic hope which can only be realized beyond history through the eschatological judgment. The Church has rejected even modified forms of this falsification of the kingdom to come under the name of millenarianism, especially the “intrinsically perverse” political form of a secular messianism.

The last time this utilitarian mode of thought was dominant in America was at the founding. The first shot at a national government was pretty much just leaving most everything to the states to figure out on their own. The Articles of Confederation did not work, because the impotent national government was the wrong tool for the job, so we got the US Constitution.

The men of the Tidewater who crafted it understood that we needed a strong central government for managing trade, national defense and the courts. At the same time, they knew the Puritan lunatics in New England would immediately try to pervert the national government so they could dominate the rest of the country. James Madison had no illusions about the nature of John Adams. The result was a government based on negative liberty.

While this mode of thought is common in the lower classes, the people who run the country reject this completely. Therein lies the rub. The people are asked to validate the decisions of the rulers with their ballots, but no one on the ballot thinks like the people standing in line to vote. To remedy this the parties make noises about American values and talk about the Constitution, but that’s just for show. Thus, the inevitable conflict.

Thus, concludes Part II

My Theory of Everything: Part I

Somewhere in the Clinton years I began to sour on official conservatism. Part of it was the odious carbuncle Newt Gingrich becoming the leader of the Right. If that loathsome human toothache was the Right, I was going to be something else. Part of it was the general incoherence of the official Right. How can you be in favor of small government, but in favor of an exotic tax code designed to alter behavior?

The other thing that bugged me was the hoard of B-school and J-school strivers taking up positions in the official Right. Naturally, they set about making culture into science! and loading up their language with meaningless jargon. Hearing a guy like Paul Ryan say, “proactively leverage other’s high standards in infrastructures” generates warm thoughts of Gavrilo Princip.

Anyway, I slowly concluded that the whole Right-Left dynamic was just a myth. One of things about working in Washington, even briefly, is you learn quickly that politics is nothing like you see on TV. Two people on a show ripping one another apart will be at the bar after the show laughing it up like old pals. That’s because they are old pals. The Right-Left narrative has simply become a convenient framework for the reality show called politics. This has been true since the 80’s.

Once you free your mind, if you will, of that framework through which you are expected to see your world, you have to make sense of what you see. If the Right-Left construct is just a version of good cop/bad cop where the people in the media hustle the rest of us so they can live above their utility, then what’s really going on in the world? How do things really work?

One way to understand the world is to think about the primary modes of thought that dominate the age. If you want to understand the Mongol Empire, for example, you have to learn something about the Mongol worldview, how they organized themselves and why they believed that was the correct way to do things. Just knowing what they did is not going to tell you why they did them.

In America, there are two dominant modes of thought that are not exactly in conflict, but they are incompatible. The primary mode of thought is best illustrated by an example from business. Every company in America of any size has some sort of quality initiative or business process improvement program. Big companies have whole departments to improve performance throughout the organization.

The basis for this is the belief that the human errors can be mitigated by arranging things in just the right way. For instance, you can stop Jose from putting the wrong stuff in a box by implementing software systems that physically prevent Jose from making that error. Jose’s machine supervisor stops him before he can sin against the firm by making a shipping error. Ideally, Jose gets eliminated completely and a robot does the job.

Everything and everyone in the company gets this treatment. If you read through the literature of the Six Sigma Cult that was popular at General Electric, it sounds like a pagan purification ritual. The financial incentives for reducing errors quickly give way to spiritual incentives. Being right 99% of the time is less fulfilling than being right 99.9% of the time. The last time I checked, salvation in Six Sigma comes at 99.999999% accuracy.

This scales up to social advocacy. Progressives, for example, are obsessed with the people they see as failures or victims, the human error rate. The former are people that, through poor choices, fail to have self-actualizing careers, achieving their full humanity. The latter are people who are prevented from fulfilling their potential due to structural impediments like racism, sexism, interstellar conspiracy, etc.

This is the crux of the dominant mode of thought and it even has a name, Positive Liberty. In politics, you see this with Obama’s health care plan. They fully believe that abundance can be had if they arrange the parts of the public health system a certain way. It’s also on display with the myriad of Conservative tax schemes. Arrange the incentives the right way and people will make the “correct” choices. The tax code becomes the enterprise software of the economy.

As an aside, what fuels the semi-sexual fantasies of the robot future types is the belief that the robots will remove human error and therefore human sin. Once the robots are in charge, there can be no more human error. The Christian conception of God and Heaven is perfection. You see how that works? Perfect the human condition, and you have created Eden. Alternatively, the robots slaughter everyone and the human stain is removed from creation.

There are few people in public life that reject this mode of thinking. Almost all of the so-called conservatives accept this as a premise. Progressives not only believe it, but they also view anyone who does not accept this world view as a mortal threat to civilization. The debate, therefore, in modern American politics is over how the central planners arrange things and whether or not to punish the refuseniks.

The revealing character trait of people who subscribe to this mode of thought is the refusal to ask why things are as they find them. If they talk about the “why” of anything, it is as a jumping off point to debate their preferred “solution” that they believe will solve some aspect of the human condition. “Why are the prisons full of blacks? Racism! Now, let’s talk about how we fix that.”

Thus, concludes Part I.

Fear of the Dark

Jonah Goldberg still churns out a newsletter, of sorts, that National Review distributes for some reason. I’m not a subscriber, but they post it on their site. I don’t read Jonah Goldberg very much, but I don’t have anything against him. It just feels like he has said everything he has to say as a writer. Whenever I read one of his columns these days it just feels like I read it a few times already.

That’s not unusual. A lot of opinion writers exhaust their supply of insights, gags and gimmicks within a few years. The exceptions are those who have very fertile minds and a high degree of curiosity. Christopher Hitchens was an example of someone who never stopped fine tuning his worldview so he kept his work interesting, even though I rarely agreed with him.

Anyway, his column starts with the stock gags he has been doing for a long time, but the point of it is to solve the puzzle as to why the Left keeps denying the obvious about Islam. After meandering around a bit, he gets to this:

And that is why, as I argue in my column today, Barack Obama is so eager to respond to the Paris attacks with a rhetorical fusillade against Republican bigotry. It is a ploy as brilliant as it is disgustingly cynical. Obama is a co-author of this refugee crisis. As Walter Russell Mead writes, “No one, other than the Butcher Assad and the unspeakable al-Baghdadi, is as responsible for the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria as is President Obama.” Somewhere deep inside Obama’s supposedly Niebuhrian conscience even he must suspect there is some truth to this. And even if his denial is total, he must understand that a great many historians will side with Mead in this appraisal.

One of my themes here is that the Professional Right is not all that interested in understanding the motivations of the Left. They much prefer to be the foil as the pay is better and the work is easier. Instead of digging deeper, the preferred response is to just assume the Left is playing politics, dodging responsibility or scoring points for the party. In this case, Jonah just assumes Barry both agrees that the refugee situation is a disaster and that he knows he is largely responsible for it.

There’s no evidence of this and there’s plenty of evidence that Obama thinks the refugee situation is a pretty good result. Further, he does not seem all that concerned about the politics of it. You can tell when a politician is worried about how something looks by watching him change his position, often denying he was ever on the other side of the issue. None of that is happening with Obama.

The general consensus from people who have read his two autobiographies and studied his life is that Obama was a Muslim growing up. His church in Chicago was nominally Christian, but was modeled on a mosque. Within Islam there’s a tradition of street corner Imams building a following, which is what Reverend Wright did in Chicago, but waving the Christian Bible around instead of the Koran. Reverend Al is another obvious example. Holy man without portfolio is common in Islam, too.

That’s not to say he is a Muslim. I don’t think Obama is very religious. It’s just that when he thinks of religion, he thinks of what he knows and that’s the street corner Islam of his youth. Therefore he is sympathetic to Muslims in the same way normal Americans would be sympathetic to Christians fleeing the ISIS lunatics. The truth is, most Americans would welcome Syrian Christians. Obama’s instincts are 180 degree out of phase with normal Americans.

None of this is groundbreaking. As I said, this is the consensus of people who have read his books and studied his life. People who are his supporters often point to his exotic foreignness as the primary attraction. Obama’s critique of America is from the outside and his desire to fundamentally transform the country is from the perspective of an outsider, particularly an outsider who is emotionally outside the traditions of the West.

You never hear anyone in the professional Right point this out. It’s as if they fear it. If you go on Fox and talk about Obama’s own words in his autobiographies, you get branded an extremist loon. The only people referencing Obama’s writing in their columns are hate-thinkers like John Derbyshire, who may be one of the few people to read Obama’s books.

The reason for this studied avoidance of the obvious by the Professional Right is fear. When Obama was elected, the great fear of Republicans and their cheerleaders in the conservative media was that Obama would be accommodating to them. They would have no choice but to go along and, in effect, sign off on his proposals. The game would be up and it would no longer be possible to carry on like there is substantive fight over public policy.

Obama turned out to be a petty and venal guy once in office so everyone could relax and pretend there’s a real fight going in Washington. Obama seems to fine with it and may even enjoy it. He wins all the fights so I suppose he should embrace this dynamic. The GOP huffs and puffs. The “right-wing attack machine” goes into high gear. Then, Obama wins and he feels like a hero. Everybody is happy.

Alert: The Backlash™ Was Spotted

This is a public notice to all of my readers. Reports are coming in that The Backlash™ was spotted near the internet safe zones of the University Illinois. Reports are still coming in, but it appears someone associated with the university may have said some mean things on Facebook about rampaging black students on that campus.

A Facebook page ostensibly created for an audience at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign called “Illini White Students Union” has drawn fire after it characterized the national Black Lives Matter movement as “terrorism.”

Created Wednesday after a protest sympathetic to Black Lives Matter, the page declared itself “for white students of University of Illinois to be able to form a community and discuss our own issues as well as be able to organize against the terrorism we have been facing from Black Lives Matter activists on campus,” as the Daily Illini reported.

The page did not last long in its original incarnation, but was taken down after three hours. It has since been revived here.

“We recognize the right to free speech, and we encourage you to exercise that right when you see examples of racism, discrimination or intimidation on our campus,” Interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson, who called the page “extremely disturbing,” wrote in a message Thursday to the student body.

Got that? When blacks go bananas on campus it is the most beautiful thing in the world. When a honky posts mean things on Facebook, well, they need to be stopped because they are extremely disturbing.

In an anonymous message to the News-Gazette, the page’s administrator discussed Black Lives Matter.

“We feel they disrupt student daily life and activity far too much,” the message read, saying that movement “marginalizes” white students. “… We are in the United States and not Africa and we don’t desire to have an African flag on campus.”

Given that there’s probably a 10-to-1 hoax to non-hoax ratio on campus, it is a good idea to assume the anonymous administrator here is a black guy, probably a professor at the university. Check that. Probably a black female professor. For some reason they are the most common perpetrator of hoaxes on campus. Even so, it is pretty tepid stuff.

A recent post was a clip from the 1998 film “American History X,” in which Edward Norton plays a white supremacist. In the clip, billed as “revelant to all Ferguson news,” Norton’s character denounces the 1992 riots in Los Angeles.

“It’s a bunch of people grabbing any excuse they can find to go and loot a store, nothing more,” Norton says. “… Lincoln freed the slaves what, like, 130 years ago. How long does it take you to get your act together?”

The amusing part here is the quote is not actually on the page. Instead the WaPo reporter fished it out of the interwebs. If I were Steve Sailer, I’d assume that was not an accident.

While this was certainly eyebrow-raising, the original page was even more provocative.

“Feel free to send in pictures you take of any black protestors on the quad so we know who anti-whites are,” one message read, as FOX 55 reported.

According to a student reporter, protesters were particularly concerned that they were being targeted.

“One of the parts on the page particularly concerning to students is that they were taking pictures from the rally of the main quad and identifying students in attendance to identify the ‘anti-whites,’” Marijo Enderle, a 20-year-old senior at the university, said in a telephone interview. Enderle also pointed out that “there hasn’t been any indication that it has been a university student” who created the page.

My recommendation to the black lives matter types is they start wearing masks at their riots. Maybe dress up as the old Black Panthers and carry fake guns. That will scare those honky oppressors!

I like this closing bit from the WaPo story.

And in 1991, the New York Times discussed a similar group at the University of Minnesota.

“I have no desire to harm the non-white races,” senior Thomas A. David, who founded the group, said at the time. “I simply think it would help everyone to separate.” He added: “I don’t want to be a mud race in this country, and I will fight to the death against that.”

Again, If I’m Steve Sailer I wonder if this is code to let people know the reporter is not as batshit crazy as it would first appear. It’s the magic signal to let the outside world know he is being held against his will. If that last time The Backlash™ showed up was 1991 – 25 years ago – one has to wonder if maybe it really even exists. But, that’s crazy talk. We all know the greatest threat to humanity is The Backlash™. We have always been at war with The Backlash™.