The Snowglobe

Way back before the 2016 election really got started, I recall watching National Review’s David French learn on twitter what the word “cuckservative” meant. It was an amusing thing to watch as he went back and forth with some alt-right types. I could tell he was feeling like a cool kid picking up slang from the in-crowd on the playground. Then he realized that the “cuck” they were referring to was him. He then set off blocking half the internet. It was an amusing example of just how isolated these people are from us.

The chattering classes are supposed to be the interface between the Cloud People and the Dirt People. Before the explosion of mass media, the chattering skulls would go on the three Sunday chat shows to tell us what to think, while pretending to tell us what our rulers were thinking. Usually, these people had a column in one of the big city broadsheets or they were a “reporter” in Washington. This worked as the Dirt People had nothing against which to compare it and we never got to see these people outside of their roles.

Mass media has some unexpected consequences. For example, we get to learn much more about the commentariat. A super cuck like David French has put his whole life out on the internet, so he’s not fooling anyone. They say familiarity breeds contempt and the general hatred of the media is most likely due to the exposure that comes in the mass media age. That and their lies are much more easily exposed. When some popinjay goes on a rant about something, we can easily find where he said the opposite in the past.

Another result is the strange isolation of the media from the rest of us. Read biographies of old newspaper guys and one of the things that stands out is their working class lives. It was not just that they were the sons of toil, they remained in that world. In 1934, it was not weird for a big city newspaper reporter to live in the same building as a plumber or bus driver. Carl Bernstein never went to college but worked his way up from the copy boy at the Washington Star. Today, no newspaper in America would hire a guy like him.

This isolation has a another facet to it. The volume of media means the number of people thinking of themselves in that world is massive as well. Then there is the overlap between the academy, government and the media. When Obama took office, over 100 media members quit and went to work for the new administration. As the managerial state has grown and matured, it has absorbed the mass media with it. Look at the major chat shows and you often see people who have been in government, media and the academy.

These blurred lines mean the sense of community has grown. The people covering the Imperial Capital no longer see themselves as natural adversaries of the people they cover, unless those people are seen as a threat. The fawning over Obama by the press corp even embarrassed Obama. Contrast that with Trump, who is viewed as an outsider. The conspiracy to rig the last election by the CIA/FBI/DOJ has largely been ignored by the media, because they see the principles as their neighbors, allies and friends.

A more amusing reminder of this great divide between them and us was the heavy breathing last week about the so-called “intellectual dark web.” Someone from alt-right central casting, name Bari Weiss, wrote a piece declaring a group of old warhorses the new radicals of the internet. Like all women writers of her age, Mx Weis employs the autoethnographic style, popular with the womyn in gender studies. It’s mostly a feeble attempt to cast herself as edgy, because she knows people who think they are edgy.

That was the point though. This was not written for the broader audience, if it even exists for publications like the New York Times. It was written for people in the media. It was the sort of self-adulation you see on award shows. From the perspective of someone like Mx. Weis, Ben Shapiro is super-edgy. Anyone inside the managerial class, offering the slightest resistance to the prevailing orthodoxy, is a rebel. It’s not a lot different from the guys at prep school who cut class to smoke weed. To their peers, they are bad boys.

The old paleos were able to see the managerial state forming up. They were surprisingly prescient about what would happen to the politics of both liberalism and conservatism, as practiced thirty years ago. What they did not anticipate is the merging of corporate culture, multiculturalism and the mass media into the managerial state. They can’t be faulted for it, as no one could really anticipate how new technology would accelerate the growth and evolution of the American ruling class. In the 90’s, the smart people predicted the opposite.

The managerial class has achieved class consciousness. If you are working at the New York Times, the American Enterprise Institute or a government agency, you see the people in these roles as your colleagues. They are the people with whom you socialize and gossip. Their kids go to school with your kids. You live in the same exclusive neighborhoods. Not only are the people outside that world strangers, they vaguely feel like a threat, with their inability to vote correctly and complaints about diversity.

Unlike ruling classes of prior ages, this one is not entirely endogamous or closed off to outsiders. Like the Chinese imperial exam system, Dirt People with something on the ball can test into this world. But also like the exam system, the American managerial class is becoming immune from new ideas and innovation. What passes for creativity is simply neologism filled recitations of the one true faith. If Jordan Peterson is your idea of a radical thinker, you’re living in an intellectual waste land. A world where Bari Weiss makes sense.

In the Belly of the Beast

On Friday. I went into the lair of the most vile, racist hate filled monsters to ever crawl this earth. That would be The Daily Shoah. When you get around these people, what’s most disconcerting is that they are genuinely nice and honest. Our rulers put so much energy into demonizing dissenters, it is easy to forget that even the most fringe partisans are just decent people with different ideas about the world. Usually, the ideas that come to shape the future start out on the fringe, so it worth engaging with them.

As far as the show itself, it was fun. Mike and Sven are very nice people and extremely generous with guests they have on their show. Unlike the mass media, they don’t see their guests as furniture they can abuse for the amusement of the braying mules in the audience. My only regret is not having used my podcasting setup to do the show. I used my laptop because I could not get Skype working on the other machine. Skype is crappy software and on my laptop the sound quality is terrible, but it came out good enough.

I got a bunch of responses via e-mail. All of them fall into a number of categories. One group wondered why I would go on a show run by anti-Semites, given that I am not an anti-Semite. My view is antisemitism is just an opinion, with the same moral currency as tastes in ice cream. Here’s how I like to explain it. Imagine you move to a new town and learn that one new neighbor is an anti-Semite. Then you learn that another neighbor is a Methamphetamine cooker. Only a liar or a lunatic cares more about the anti-Semite.

More important, the open exchange of ideas and opinions is a base line requirement for a civilized white society. Like any marketplace, the marketplace of ideas does not always produce optimum results. That’s an argument against democracy, not a reason to suppress heretical opinion. In time, bad ideas fail while good ideas eventually succeed, which is the foundation of popular government. That means engaging all comers, as long as they are honest and willing to debate in good faith. It can also be a lot of fun.

Another category of response was to ask why I don’t do more of these things. One main reason is time. My day job, life, the blog and the podcast fill up the dance card. I’m also not a fan of the “blood sports” model that is most popular. Some are OK, but most degenerate quickly into the typical internet purse fight. They should call these things “bum fights” because it’s usually two poorly trained and equipped debaters desperately trying to land a hay-maker. The Daily Shoah format is more to my liking as it fits the medium.

Of course, there were people wondering if Mike Enoch had red-pilled me on the JQ. I’ve come to hate that expression, to be perfectly honest. It implies a soteriological awareness that is only achieved through devotional study. I know the arguments around the JQ as well as anyone can know them. I’ve read the source material and listened to the proselytizers. I’ve done the math. The facts are what they are and there’s no denying Jews wield an enormous amount of influence, in absolute and relative terms.

Where Enoch and I would disagree is in whether or not Jews can be a part of white identity politics. With some exceptions, anti-Semites say no, Jews have their own group and therefore cannot be part of the white group. On the other hand, I would be thrilled if Jews swung our way. Having six million rich smart guys on our side would turn the fight instantly. We’d have a wall on the border that would make Israel envious. Fifty years of multiculturalism would be reversed in no time. The remaining liberals would be in hiding.

In fairness to the anti-Semites, there is zero evidence of this happening. In fact, the most berserk opponents of our remaining liberties are Jewish organization like the ADL and they get zero push back from their fellow tribesman. It is probable that the arrival of alt-Jew will be permanently delayed. I find that disappointing, but I’m used to it. That does not change the essential message, which is that whites in America must come to terms with the realities of being a minority surrounded by hostile minority populations.

This is another area where Mike and I would disagree. If white people in America come to except that they must put their racial interests ahead of all us, in order to contend with the swelling minority populations, the JQ answers itself. Jews either join White Team or join the dark side. Therefore, instead of expending energy on the JQ, a better use of time is to focus on the HQ – Honky Question. There’s a reasonable debate to be had there, which is why it is important for people on our side to have these debates and discussions.

The Warcast

The show this week was a technological struggle. The mic I had been using started to give me trouble, so I had the bright idea of upgrading the recording gear. Now I have a bunch of wires hanging off the desk, which bugs me no end. Worse yet, I’m not entirely sure how to use the new stuff. I’ve muddled through, but I have much to learn. That said, if I’m going to do this right, I should learn how to use the proper equipment.

The funny thing about doing something like this is you get into a rhythm, as far as picking topics and the recording schedule. Every day I take some time to look for material, surfing reliable sites. Then I make some notes on what I find and think about what I want to say about it. Every evening, I record a little. When something changes, like the technical issues this week, it can throw you off your game. But, I suffer for my art.

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

This Week’s Show


Direct Download

The iTunes Page

Google Play Link

iHeart Radio

Full Show On Spreaker

Full Show On YouTube

A Vibrant Society

When you live in Lagos on the Chesapeake™, people like to send you stories about the place, as if to be reassured that it is as bad as advertised. I’ve developed the habit of telling people that it is worse than they’ve heard. That’s probably not true, as Baltimore has quite a reputation, but it makes people feel better about it. One of the items sent to me recently was this story about the restaurant closures in Baltimore. So far this year, 24 trendy restaurants have closed, continuing a trend of bad news for the city.

Baltimore has seen another spate of restaurant closures — as consumer habits change and suburbanites find less incentive to dine in the city, according to experts, restaurateurs and consumers.

At least 24 restaurants have closed since January, including Federal Hill stalwart Regi’s American Bistro, Hampden’s popular Corner Restaurant and Charcuterie Bar and Canton’s Fork and Wrench.

Increased vacancy rates for small commercial real estate spaces reflect those closures. Chris LeBarton, a market economist for CoStar Market Analytics, said vacancy rates for spaces up to 3,000 square feet — often home to independent restaurants — rose to 8.1 percent at the end of March, up from 6.8 percent at the end of September, when the city underwent a previous wave of closures. That rate is at its highest since 2010.

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics point toward a trend long in the making. The number of Baltimore’s food and drinking establishments decreased 4.6 percent between 2013 and 2016 — from 1,613 to 1,539. Nationally, the number of establishments increased by 5.7 percent, from 8.9 million in 2013 to 9.4 million in 2016.

Analysts attribute Baltimore restaurant closures to factors including the natural cycles of the industry, millennials’ preference for convenience and value and — more particular to this area — competition in the suburbs and high crime rates that ward off suburbanites.

Downtown Partnership President Kirby Fowler pointed out that restaurants often have a three- to five-year life cycle.

“There might be issues involving the city’s reputation, but it as well could be an explanation of what the restaurant is doing or not doing,” he said of the factors driving local closures. “To open a restaurant is a risky endeavor, but it’s what we all want to happen more and more.”

One of the funny things about life in Lagos is just how many of the locals work hard to avoid noticing the obvious. You see the self-deception is this story. It’s those rotten millennials or the wacky unpredictable nature of the restaurant business. There is an oblique reference to the “city’s reputation” but the bulk of the article is about blaming things that have nothing to do with the problem. They say people see what they want to see, and that is very true, but people can also not see what they don’t want to see too.

On the other hand, it is tempting to blame the crime wave that was unleashed by the Freddie Gray case. The riot was national news, but the subsequent spike in murder has done far more damage to the city’s reputation. That’s most likely not the cause of trouble for the restaurant and entertainment businesses. The real issue is the uptick in black on white crime, particularly in the hipster areas of the city. When a bartender at a trendy restaurant is gunned down in a robbery, white people take note.

There is a phenomenon, that most white people in vibrant areas intuitively understand, but people rarely discuss. That is as vibrancy increases, black-on-white crime escalates. The legendary quantitative blogger La Griffe du Lion showed that the risk whites faces from whites, in terms of crime, is independent of neighborhood size and racial composition. The probability a white is attacked by another white in a given year is the same no matter where he lives. This is true when adjusted for socioeconomic factors, as well.

On the other hand, as the number of blacks increase, the odds of a white being victimized by a black accelerate upward. The reasons are well known now. Blacks are more than three times more likely to commit violent crime than whites and black on white crime is vastly more common that any other inter-racial crime. It turns out that what everyone knows is true. Blacks prefer to target whites when committing crime, especially violent crimes. So as vibrancy increases, white victimization rates accelerate upward.

Again, most people intuitively know this and pick up on the clues from news accounts and conversations with friends. All it takes is a spike in well publicized black on white crime in a tourist area and whites stop going to the tourist area. Of course, this accelerates the trend, as the black-white balance swings to the dark side. It’s why when a neighborhood around here “turns” it tends to do so slowly, then all of a sudden. As La Griffe du Lion noted, the threshold for these things is about 20%. After that begins the run for the exit.

If you look back at the population mix of cities like Baltimore and Detroit, they thrived up to the point where their vibrancy crossed the 25% line. At that point, the infrastructure started to crack under the strain of keeping the vibrancy under control. As the vibrancy spilled into white areas, whites began to flee, the vibrant-to-plain ratio began to quickly tilt to the former and the die was cast. It’s why gentrification only works when the locals are physically removed or they are systematically walled off from the gentrifying areas.

The Rock Fight

The on-going investigation into FBI shenanigans trundles on and it is easy to be a bit cynical about the whole thing. It’s clear that the DOJ and FBI are stalling, hoping the Democrats take the House thus relieving them of their duties to Congress. The modern habit of the Washington elite giving themselves a pass for their bad behavior, should lead sensible people to assume nothing comes of this. After all, it involves some of the biggest players in the semi-permanent Washington ruling class and they are above the law.

On the other hand, the list of people who tangled with Trump and then came to a bad end is long enough now to think it is not a coincidence. The mass media and the NeverTrump loons like to paint the guy as a buffoon, but he is a very savvy political athlete. What makes it work for Trump is that when guys like Eric Schneiderman go up in flames, it looks like Trump was not involved, but curiously prescient. The fact is, Trump plays rough and the people in the FBI scandal have every reason to fear retribution from him.

That’s the thing with Trump. He is a genuine politician, who does not have his head in the clouds or frets about getting a little dirty in a street fight. This is something we have not seen on the Right in national politics since forever. Reagan, on occasion, would throw some sharp elbows, but all of his worshipers since then have either confined themselves to the world of forms or found a reason why their principles prevented them from getting into the fight. The result has been a once sided drubbing of the Right by the Left.

The great Sam Francis observed this about the America Right a long time ago. The Old Right, as he called what think of of as CivNats, lived in the world of ideas. They operated under the assumption that their ideas would take human form and do the practical work of politics without the creators leaving their salons. You hear echos of this with libertarians and TruCons today. Every discussion ends up with them quoting some theorist and waving around their Cato supplied pocket Constitution like it is a magic talisman.

On the other hand, the New Right, as he labeled the neoconservatives and Buckleyites, were willing to engage in practical politics, but assiduously within the rules, as currently written.This meant they were always captive to those rules. This gave the Left the whip hand, as they could change the rules whenever the Right was getting the upper hand in politics. The Buckleyites and neocons, instead of challenging the managerial state, have been absorbed by it and have become its champions. Sam Francis predicted this.

The fact that neocons and Buckleyites have been assimilated into the Borg that is the managerial class is evidenced by the people participating in the FBI scheme. You have neocons, their former critics and hard thumping Progressives working together in this conspiracy. Further, the extreme Left, that operates the mass media, is endlessly promoting the narrative cooked up by the conspirators. Whatever minor quibbles these people have with one another, defending the managerial state comes first.

It’s why, to some degree, the alt-right and its fellow travelers punch so far above their weight and scare the people in charge. Outside of a few basic ideas, the alt-right is non-ideological. Put three of these guys in a room and they have ten different arguments, depending upon how the alcohol is flowing. At the same time, this loose collection of the like-minded is willing to engage in ad hoc guerrilla war against the managerial class, mostly for the laughs. It is, in part, why the managerial class has over reacted to them.

That brings us back to how Trump is handling the seditious plot, currently being exposed by Congress and the Inspector General. The Right side of the managerial class is puzzled and frustrated by Trump’s unwillingness to put on his good government cap and yap about the process. The ridiculous bleating from National Review types about his boorishness or his recklessness reveals a central fact about Trump and the emerging political movement he has set off. Trump is not of the Old Right or New Right, and neither are his supporters.

For it’s part, the Left is unnerved by his success at undermining the Mueller plot, while exposing the FBI treachery. They are grasping the reality of Trump. He’s not a guy committed to winning them over with theory or looking for a way to join the club. Popular lore says he set off on this journey because he was insulted by the snubs from the political elite. The people peddling it hope it means he wants to join their club and will do so on their terms. It turns out that Trump is looking to bust up the club and make his own.

There’s a lesson here. A culture war is a zero sum game. The ground you gain can only come at the expense of the people in charge and there can never be peace. Complex political theories and carefully elucidated principles have no place in a culture war, or even a political war. It’s a rock fight and that means you have to use whatever is handy to take out the other guy. After you win and secure his turf, then you take a break and maybe use the off-time to think about theory. Principles are for the victory party.

The Sedition Lobby

I take some pride in the fact that I sniffed out the FBI scandal long before the media had any idea what was happening. The whole Russian hacking thing was such nonsense, that it had to be a cover for soemthing else. The subsequent machinations of the FBI and DOJ made it clear that they were hiding something. Of course, we now know that some members of the FBI and DOJ were engaged in domestic spying on the Trump campaign, for purely political reasons. We are now starting to get a sense of who is really behind it.

This post from Conservative Tree House is a bit meandering, the guy really does need someone to organize his thoughts, but it reveals an important fact about this case that has not been made public. That is, the root of the scandal is not the FBI, but the CIA. The guy who got this thing going was former CIA Director John Brennan. He’s been an anti-Trump rage head for a long time. It appears that he is the guy who initiated the surveillance of the Trump campaign and set off the FBI conspiracy to get Trump.

What appears to have happened is Brennan, or his people, contacted a trusted friend of the neocon family for some help. Stefan Halper is the guy fingered by the Tree House guys as the most likely candidate for the job. He is a good candidate, as he did meet with Carter Page and George Papadopoulos. If you look at the career of Halper, he has been in these fever swamps¹ for a long time, so it is not unreasonable to think he was working for the anti-Trump loons. It’s also possible there were others used in this caper.

The way it works is he reaches out to these guys and gets them thinking they have been spotted as men on the come. Low-level types with big ambition are always looking for a chance to talk with the big shots, so Page and Papadopoulos were easy marks and they took the bait. Then he engages them in discussions that he can then claim were initiated by them. He passes it along to his friends in the CIA, but the CIA cannot spy on citizens in the US, so they pass it along to the FBI as a friendly bit of inter-agency cooperation.

At this point, no one knows what was passed on from the CIA to the FBI. That’s the crux of the ongoing battle between Congress and the FBI/DOJ. It is well-established now that the FBI was spying on the Trump campaign and Trump Tower. Their explanation for why they did this is laughable nonsense, so the question is why did they do it and what was the pretext. Most likely, they used what the CIA manufactured, along with the phony dossier and possibly an FBI plant in the campaign, to get the FISA warrant and spy on Trump.

Since the mass media has been instructed to give this story a good leaving alone, it does not get the attention it deserves. What started out as maybe some bungling and perhaps petty malfeasance among middling FBI people, has now progressed up to include the former CIA Director, former Attorney General and Former FBI Director. Those are some pretty big fish. They are also the sorts of people who meet with the President and his top aids on a regular basis. This is looking like what the Left says Watergate was about.

What makes this more serious than Watergate is that the crimes committed here reveal a malice of forethought. The people caught trying to cover-up Watergate and other campaign shenanigans did so after the fact and mostly as non-participants. The people involved in this caper acted with a clear intent. They set out to trap some Trump people so they could then spy on the Trump campaign, including Trump himself, with the goal of ending his campaign. When that failed, they decided to try and remove him from office.

In what is turning out to be the proof of this post from five years ago, there was Russian meddling in the last election. The trouble is, the Russians were working with US intelligence to undermine the campaign of Donald Trump. That meddling may not have stopped at the election, but may be continuing to this day. In fact, according to that linked article in The Hill, the FBI was trying to enlist Oleg Derispaska in their scheme to link the Trump campaign with Russian espionage. You cannot make this stuff up.

There is another element here. The NeverTrump operations was a purely neoconservative operation, led by the current pope of the neocons, Bill Kristol. John McCain has confessed to having played a role in the phony dossier. Stefan Halper is a neocon fellow traveler¹. Bill Kristol’s son-in-law, Matthew Continetti, helped finance the dossier. Everywhere you look in this scandal, you find neocons. It’s almost as if these people have some sort of hidden agenda, that they were willing to do anything to promote, even if it meant sedition.

¹A reader (lars hemmer) pointed out that my short-hand description of Halper as a neocon was inaccurate. He’s more of a intel community insider, who has been a some time neocon fellow traveler, when convenient and hostile, when convenient. I changed the original post to reflect that correction. Thank you lars hemmer.

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 of the people who rule over us 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 became a problem as soon as Saddam was toppled. Then, 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.

After the fall of Saddam, we learned just how complicated. 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, because there is no other option.

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 ostentatiously ignore the demands of Europe.

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. Again, the minority population has been there forever. The Czech Republic is 95% Czech. These countries are not just arbitrary markings on a map. 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 calls 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. As long as there are people, there will be a Poland.

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, like Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland.

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 now. 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 more like Iraq than the Visegrád nations.

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. California is really not America now, in reality.

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. Every country has deep connections with neighboring 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, at least at the fringes.

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 keep 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? Someone should think about that.

Markets Are Not Gods

One of the many reason libertarians had no choice but to evolve into the pep squad for the managerial state is they could never finish their own sentences without sounding like loons. For example, their reification of free markets, often has them sounding like primitive shaman. Their deification of personal liberty would lead them to defending morally abhorrent things like the poor selling their organs to the rich. In order to avoid this, they developed the habit of stopping short of fully stating the inevitable ends of their ideology.

One of the errors of libertarianism, as well as the various tribes of the New Right, is the mistaken belief that markets are a Platonic good. Therefore, the free market is the end, rather than a means to some end. A popular trope among those in the post-war New Right was the claim that an undesirable end, arrived at through principled means, was superior to a desirable end, arrived at through unprincipled means. It is has always been a ridiculous statement that can only have utility in the world of forms, not on earth.

The marketplace is never perfect and it can often lead to undesirable ends. This is why it has to be viewed as a tool, one of the many tools a society has to better itself and insulate itself against its own internal division. A fair and open marketplace for housing, for example, will result in the maximum amount of affordable housing. Open borders and unfettered trade will lead to the corruption of the people’s laws. An unfettered recreational drug market will end up with large portions of the population exploited by a small part.

A less emotional example of this is the market for concert tickets. It used to be that states protected the primary market by suppressing the secondary market. The internet and the unwillingness of the people in charge to enforce the laws has changed that. The primary market has now been captured by the secondary market. The bulk purchase of tickets by brokers now makes them the primary player in the market. In fact, they can control the market, by manipulating availability. That’s what’s happening with concert tickets.

With the curtain rising on her “Reputation” tour, Taylor Swift blinked.

She buckled by having Ticketmaster turn off resale ticket listings on its interactive venue charts for the first leg of her North American tour, according to music-industry veterans.

The tour, which begins on Tuesday in Glendale, Ariz., shows plenty of primary tickets still available for the first nine shows.

But the delisting of secondary, or resale, tickets — a move experts called unusual if not unprecedented — makes the inventory of available seats seem much smaller.

On July 20, for example, Swift is scheduled to appear at MetLife Stadium as part of her tour’s third leg.

About half the seats still available for that show are represented by red dots on Ticketmaster’s venue chart, meaning they are up for resale.

The other half, represented by blue dots, signify primary sales. Those are the only dots currently visible to visitors trying to score tickets for a show on the first leg of “Reputation.”

Ticketmaster’s shutting down ticket resales for Swift’s early shows perplexed many in the industry because it handed secondary sales to competing resellers like StubHub.

On blockbuster tours, Ticketmaster admittedly makes more revenue on ticket resales than primary sales.

It also left some wondering if Ticketmaster was taking orders from its parent company, Live Nation, which as the tour’s overseas promoter, has much riding on “Reputation” being perceived as a success.

Now, the libertarian argument is that the venue should simply auction off the tickets for their show and not worry about the secondary market, because the bidding process would no doubt undermine the secondary market. The trouble is, there are no pure markets, so the sophisticated players in the market, would game the auction just as they game the direct sales market now. In other words, there can never be a free market, as long as there informational asymmetry and there is always a player with an information advantage.

If we stop pretending that a free market is an end in itself, we can think about the desirable ends would like to see in something like the concert business. Obviously, one end is for the performer and the venue owner to make a profit. Without them, there is no market for concert tickets. Secondarily, you want the fans to have access to tickets at a price that they see as reasonable. The libertarian idea of an initial auction solves one problem, but the other problems require shutting down the secondary market, like we used to do.

This is a trivial issue, as the world is not going to stop spinning if Taylor Swift can no longer make a living doing concerts. In fact, if all of our mass market entertainments dried up tomorrow, people would find new ways to entertain themselves. The point I’m trying to make is economics, particularly the market place, is always an means to an end. When thinking about what’s happening to us, the question is not how best to get people cheap stuff. It is about the kind of society we want the type of people we want in it.

Back In White

I’m back! Honestly, I missed doing the show last week. I’ve started to grow fond of hearing my own voice. All joking aside, there were things that came up in the news last week and I thought, “I should put that in the podcast”, but there was no show. This has turned out to be a fun hobby for me, so taking a week off was like giving up heroin for a week. I was looking forward to getting back on the horse. That’s a reference for the old guys out there.

I am now up on iHeart Radio, which is something I know nothing about, but I’m putting a link to it. I think it is a service like Pandora and it is available on the media systems in newer cars. There’s a phone app for it too. I may be on Spotify soon as well, but that process takes longer for some reason. People tell me it is a good thing to be on all of these platforms, so I’m doing what they say works. My media empire is growing!

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

This Week’s Show


Direct Download

The iTunes Page

Google Play Link

iHeart Radio

Full Show On Spreaker

Full Show On YouTube

The Book Of Spite

When I read Jonah Goldberg’s book Liberal Fascism, I was a bit surprised that it was popular. I think the main reason for people liking it 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 were knowledgeable on the subject treated the book as an insult. Paul Gottfried has never forgiven 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, by Goldberg, at an ideological 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. This is why the old  paleocons were angry at Goldberg the last time.

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 the state of the Right. The rest of the book’s title sums up the entire neocon argument since Trump came down the escalator.The rather mild push-back against cosmopolitan globalism we have seen 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. I was reminded of the German word fremdschämen, which loosely means the shame you feel when seeing someone humiliated or embarrassed.

Added to that is a superficiality that you see when someone is uncomfortable with the material. 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 claim that the revolt against cosmopolitan globalism is the end of the world. 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. 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, they pick up a few things and start thinking they are the experts. That’s how this book reads.

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, who exist to keep the machine running.

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.