Request For Failure

I was out drinking with a former co-worker the other day and he had with him a RFP, which stands for a “Request For Proposal.” When he and I worked together, handling RFP’s was a regular part of the job. In other parts of my work career, I was on the other end, helping craft these things. As a result, I’ve had the misfortune to have read hundreds, maybe thousands of the documents. After a while, you lose track. As is the case with most of them, this one was poorly written, with some hilarious errors and omissions.

For those unfamiliar with the RFP, which is sometimes called a request for quote or even a request for information, it is a document companies produce when they wish to buy a capital product or service. In theory, the document describes the item or service, the conditions that have to be met in order to be considered and the process by which the company intends to evaluate potential vendors. These are popular in government and large corporate environments. Here’s a useful overview for those interested.

Not having had to field one of these for a while, I’d forgotten just how dumb it is to try and do business via this process. If an organization or government is buying a well defined product or a commodity item, it makes sense, but for something like a complex service, then it is a recipe for failure. Even in the case of well-defined item like a machine tool, I’ve seen RFP’s that appear to be written by enemies of the issuing company. The people creating the document use it to impress their boss, rather than make a sound purchase.

In the case of the one my buddy had with him, it was missing key information, like what it is the company actually does and why it is they are buying the service. Worse yet, it was written by a consultant. Even after having been away from this stuff for a long time, I can spot the greasy fingerprints of the consultant. Every industry has these creatures and they are always the same. I’m probably being unfair, as I’m sure there are some who are honest and conscientious, but most are just grifters, who prey on the stupid.

Anyway, we got to talking about why it is this stupid way of buying stuff persists, despite the fact that it often ends in tears. You don’t have to be in the business world very long to notice that good companies have strong relationships with both their customers and vendors. They cultivate their vendor relationships, just as they cultivate their customer relationships. They train their vendors to be conscientious and to think of themselves as partners in the enterprise. That way, the vendor becomes an asset to the business.

I think if I were going to write a business book on how to buy stuff, the first rule I’d have is never use an RFP. The second rule I’d have is make sure to visit the vendor’s facility and ask for the nickle tour before making a purchase. If they have a business culture that fits your business culture, or even better, one you strive to cultivate, then you will have a good working relationship with that vendor. If on the other hand, the vendor is running a sweatshop where the employees are miserable, that will show up in their service.

Another thing that I’ve seen often, and it always shows up in RFP’s for a service, is that the prospective customer starts off by lying to the prospective vendors. It’s the strangest thing, but I’ve seen it a lot. For example, salesmen are often trained to ask about a budget for the project. That way, they can gauge how serious the prospect is about actually doing the deal. Countless times, I’ve seen companies lie about their budget or simply refuse to disclose it. The result is they waste everyone’s time, including their own.

Similarly, salesmen are trained to find the motivators. If a company is buying a new five axis machine for their manufacturing facility, they are expecting to spend a lot of money for the machine and the training. They are not doing this on a whim. They have identified a serious problem or a serious opportunity. As a result, they are willing to invest a lot of money to address it. That’s important information that will help get the right machine and vendor, but the company will often hide that from the vendor, like it is a state secret.

Back to the book idea, the third and fourth rule for buying any big ticket item would be to quantify the return on investment and set a budget. Make that part of the purchasing narrative by disclosing it to the pool of vendors. Most likely, the guy you select will look at your reasoning and find additional opportunities for you to turn the purchase into an investment. Again, this is something I always see successful companies do for themselves and for their clients. It’s why they attract strong people and vendors.

The other thing that always turns up in RFP’s is the underlying assumption that the person who wrote the thing is a genius. The specifications will be hilariously narrow, which results in the request being for an exact copy of what they have now, but newer. My suspicion has been that there is a correlation between the level of specificity and the lack of understanding of the problem to be solved by the purchase. Smart companies buy products and services to solve problems. Stupid companies tick boxes on forms.

Again, this circles back to cultivating relationships with vendors. The RFP that spawned this post was obviously the result of some serious business problem the company needs to solve. The trouble is the RFP so thoroughly obscures it, no vendor will be able to identify the problem, so they will not be able to solve it. Instead, they will answer the RFP in a way they think gets them into the next round. In other words the purchasing process moves from problem solving to a long drawn out game of liar’s poker.

That would be another chapter in my book on buying stuff. This actually applies to every aspect of life, not just business. If you have a problem to solve, make that the starting point for proposals. Unless you have a monopoly or an exotic niche, you have competitors who are solving the same problems. One of them may have come up with a great solution and his vendor may be willing to sell that idea to you. Even better, the competitor of that vendor may have an even better solution. Smart people spend money to solve problems.

The Art of Life

At the Mencken Conference, I made a point to some big brained people, a point I’ve made here many times. That is, if a reasonably aware and smart person in the 1970’s had fallen asleep, like Rip Van Winkle, and woke up in our age, he would assume the Soviets had won the Cold War. After all, we have adopted the aesthetic of the Soviets. Our cars all look the same and come in black, white or shades of gray. Our buildings are sterile, utilitarian structures. Our high and low art is purely ornamentation, rather than imitation.

Living as we do in this age, we don’t often notice this, but we live among the ruins of the culture that made the West. That culture is dead and has been dead for a while. It’s why our creative side does not create much of anything. The other day a high end art auction featured a work that self-destructs. That was probably the closest thing to art created by a modern artist in several generations. Otherwise, it is all pointless nonsense that says nothing about life. At best, it matches the decor and provides a tax break for the owner.

The death of western culture, or what we think of as western culture, was a top down thing that started with the spread of democracy. Modernism began roughly a century ago with painters of limited skill, abandoning any attempt to imitate or celebrate the world around them and instead make increasingly abstract pictures. By the middle of the 20th, painting meant something closer to what is produced at a daycare center. Sculpture looked like something found in the local dog park and architecture had devolved into brutalism.

The top down decay made its way into the lower forms of cultural expression. Look at popular music which probably peaked in the 1970’s, but is now produced by robots and grunting retards with no musical training. When was the last time someone wrote poetry popular with the middle-class? Do they even teach school children poetry today? The world of fiction is mostly a poor imitation of what was done in the past. Even movies, a modern creation, are now made by robots and aimed at foreign audiences.

Imitation is the celebration of life. That is the art of a thriving, growing culture. Like a child coming into the world, it seeks to capture the beauty of the world around it through imitation. It’s why most of the western literary canon was created by young writers, while the great histories are written by old people. Today, the brightest minds wish to spend years in ugly training centers called colleges so they can get a cubicle job and participate in the enforced conformity that defines this age. Our young people have no souls.

Ornamentation, in contrast, is the sign of a dead or dying culture. There is nothing left to create, so the goal is merely to “add a personal touch” to the creation of others. Home builders stamp out the same dozen house designs, but allow the buyer to alter some of the light fixtures, so they can pretend to be unique. Cars are all aerodynamically designed to look the same, but you can get the sport package, because you’re different. Every pop song made by the robots sounds the same, but the singer wears a slightly different outfit.

As people sensing we live in the winter of western culture, it can be discouraging. After all, what’s the point of trying to preserve anything, if it is already dead? Why engage in political fights, if the outcome, in a larger sense, has been decided? It’s important to remember that the world does not end when an important man dies. The world may go off in a different direction than if he had lived, but it goes on nonetheless. Cultures come into being, grow and thrive, then decline and die. That is the cycle of history, the cycle of life.

Here is the important thing though. The plowed under fields of the one age become the birthing ground from which will sprout the life of the next age. For example, imagine if in the next election, all white Americans decide to sit it out. Whites don’t run for office, participate in the debates or follow the action. Whites stopped voting. Fox News would have Ben Shapiro debating Tariq Nasheed about how the gay black guy is more conservative than the one-legged, transgender lesbian of color, but they will do so as a pantomime to no one.

If whites turn their back on the rest of the people living in this land, those people will spin themselves like tops trying to get whites to reengage with them. That’s because what we think of as culture is purely a white thing. That flicker of life is an ember carried from one white culture to the next, that ignites the fire of what follows the dying present. If whites turn their back on all this, they will not be looking into a void, but into a mirror. They will see themselves and their power to create. This scales up to a new culture being born.

That’s why people on this side of the great divide continue to engage with whites still trapped on the other side. It’s why we engage in politics, follow the news and debate the issues of the day. Every election, every event, is a chance to tap a normal white guy on the shoulder, so he breaks free from the trance for just a minute, to see that that there is something else going on and he needs to be a part of it. After every election, after every turn of the wheel, the boats crossing the river to this side are full of new adventurers.

We may be living in an ugly age, but you cannot have spring without winter. It is the normal cycle of western civilization. At some point, the number of people realizing this reaches a critical mass. The project then swings from trying to animate the long dead carcass of the past, to building a new culture for a new people. In time, the aesthetic will reflect the flourishing of the new, a celebration of life through imitation. Most reading this will never see it, but you will probably live to see the green shoots.

Open Thread: Voting Day

20:00: The internet tells me the polls are closing and both sides are sure their dreamed of result is coming true. I’m listening to the extremely racist and clearly “not who we are” guys at The Right Stuff cover the results. I may flip over and watch Jean-Francois Gariépy and extremely racist and clearly “not who we are” guests. There’s also a strong possibility that I watch a movie or read a book on Puritans I have in the queue. I’m getting the same vibe I had in 2012 when normal people hoped the polls were wrong.

15:00: Someone asked me what I was doing tonight. By that they meant where I would be watching the election results. The answer is, I probably won’t bother watching much of it and may not watch any of it. Getting a pirate feed from one of the cable channels is a hassle,e specially on a big news night. That and the talking heads they have in the studio are offensively stupid now. It has probably always been this way and it is just more obvious now that I never watch the stuff. I’m just not used to it anymore.

Still, it does feel like the quality of public affairs television has dropped significantly since when I started paying attention in the 1980’s. I recall there being a line about public discourse aiming at a ninth grade level audience. I forget the details, but it was soemthing like that about the intelligence of TV news. Admittedly, I’m not around many ninth graders, but I suspect the target IQ of TV these days is in the 80’s. It’s aimed at the sort of people our rulers think will be running America in the not so distant future.

Anyway, I’m not sure how I will track the results. I have to workout, eat dinner and then work on the podcast for this week. Jean-Francois Gariépy will be hosting a live show with some alt-right people, so maybe I’ll watch some of that tonight. The FTN guys are doing a live show, but I have no idea how they are hosting it or where they are hosting it. If I figure that out I’ll post a link here. I should probably figure out how to do live shows, just for events like this. I do have the NPR guy radio voice. May as well use it.

12:45: A great post by J’Onquarious on the midterms with some good links and a prediction for the outcome. Since I have not offered a prediction, I’ll go ahead and say the GOP ends up with 55 Senate seats, to 45 for the Democrats. I ignore the fake independents, as that’s just a Prog lie. In the House, I said way back that the result will be much closer than Team Brown has been predicting. I’ll go with the Democrats getting 220 seats to capture a razor thin majority. This will set off a circus like we have never seen.

Something that does not get mentioned is there are a dozen or so Democrats running who promised to vote against Pelosi for Speaker. That means anything other than a brown wave results in an ugly leadership fight. The bet made by the leadership was that they could wish themselves into a big majority and vindicate their decision to stagger on long after the expiry date. Anything less than a 20-seat majority is going to call that bluff and lead some of the young non-whites to demand a bigger slice of the leadership pie.

12:30: Someone suggested I re-post this.

11:40: I was a little late getting out of the office to vote. It’s raining heavy today, so that probably tamps down the enthusiasm. This morning I saw a lot of hens that are typically associated with the pink hat nonsense, but when I went back it was mostly blacks and old white people. If you want to see why I oppose democracy in all of its forms, come stand in line to vote in a Lagos election. It’s not just the people voting. It is the circus atmosphere of the people running the polling stations. They will not survive without us.

The one normal person working the station told me the turnout was very light thus far, so I’m a bit more encouraged about what will happen. There’s no logic to it. I just feel better when I know fewer people are voting. The conventional wisdom has always been that the bad guys need high turnout to rig an election. I’m not sure that applies in a place like Lagos, but I don’t know. There’s nothing happening locally to get the native angried up, so maybe this is just a normal turnout on a raining midterm election day

I voted for the Democrat for governor. I know nothing about him, other than he is black and he sounds remarkably stupid. The sitting governor is a white guy and a Republican, but Lagos deserves a king of their own. That and the current governor is a gun grabber, who signed off on a red-flag law that has already led to one murder by the cops. There’s no chance the Nog King will overturn that law, but sometimes the only thing you can hope to do in the voting booth is send a message. I’ll vote for a black moron over a gun-grabber.

08:40: Maybe it will not be a brown wave, so much as a twat wave. I stopped to vote and the place was jammed with middle-aged hens. It is raining here, so I was not about to stand in the rain to throw my vote away. I don’t recall it being that busy when I voted in 2016, but I would not trust my memory. Come to think of it, I went in the mid-morning last time and stood in line for an hour or more. I’ll go over around ten to see what it is like and that will be a better comparison. Still, seeing all of those hens was ominous.

07:00: Every once in a while, I get a request for an open thread on a topic, inviting commentary from the readers. Famous blogs like Star Slate Codex and Steve Sailer do this with some frequency, so it has been suggested I give it a try. According to the people who rule over us, the prophesies have foretold that today is when we are cleansed of our sins by the great brown wave. If this is indeed the end of the honky hegemony, we may as well enjoy it with a bit of running commentary. Perhaps today is the end of the world.

For those looking for some nitty-gritty analysis of the House and Senate races, here is a deep-dive on the former and one on the latter by Ethnark and McFeels at FTN. I have to say, I don’t watch or listen to any mainstream political chat shows these days. I’ll catch clips from Tucker once in a while, but otherwise I skip all of it. I make an exception for the FTN shows, because they do a very good job analyzing the news of the day in a format that is not openly hostile to my existence. I recommend their shows to the curious.

I’ve been puzzled about this midterm for a while. For starters, the Senate is going to swing to the Right this year. No pollster questions this. It is mostly due to so many Democrats up for re-election. In other words, when a Democrat cannot hide in the pack, like in a House race, they are in trouble. That’s why the predictions for a brown wave in the House strikes me as unlikely. A reader pointed out that the one election in modern times to be a split decision was 1970. Usually, both chambers move the same way in a midterm.

The thing about 1970 that makes it salient is the Left back then was going through a spasm of self-destructive lunacy similar to what we see today. They were also sure Nixon was Hitler. The big difference though is the Democrat leadership back then was not insane and the Democrats were in firm control of politics. They were the majority party with control of the House and control of most state houses. They also had 57 seats in the Senate prior to the election. In other words, beyond the superficial, there is no comparison.

Back when this brown wave stuff started in the media, I did a post on the House races, just looking for the number of seats that were legitimately in play this year. The most generous estimate is about 35, with a handful that are new due to redistricting. Incumbents just don’t lose very often and gerrymandering has made 80% of the House seats safe for one party or the other. Can the Dems win the House? Sure, but it is going to be very close and their majority will be very thin. Narrow majorities in the House are unworkable.

The funny thing is Trump will be guaranteed re-election in 2020 if the Democrats take the House, especially if Pelosi is the Speaker again. That ridiculous old bag is a great reminder of why no sane white person should ever vote Democrat. Trump does his best work when he has a foil and the Democrats in the House are a great freak show for him to use as props for the next two years. Given how quickly whites are figuring out the changing demographics, having anti-whites running the House is manna from heaven.

Learning From The Past

Over the weekend, something that kept popping into my mind was that the paleocons have never spent much time thinking about what they did wrong during their long struggle with the neoconservatives. They spend a lot of time rehashing old fights and discussing the things they fought, like the Civil Rights Act or the Reagan amnesty, but they always seem to stop at the water’s edge when analyzing these things. It’s almost as if they agree with the Left that these policies were inevitable, due to the tides of history.

Part of it, of course, is the losing side never wants to spend a lot of time dwelling on their own failures. Even the humbling experience of being hurled into the void is not enough to overcome ego. We see that on our side of the great divide, where some alt-right figures simply cannot come to terms with the fact that they screw up a lot. This reality does not prevent others from being objective about these things. History may be written by the winners, but the great lessons are almost always on the losing side.

One lesson that was more obvious in the past, than in recent days, is that the paleocons always assumed the other side would be bound by an agreed upon set of rules. They were plenty suspicious of Progressives, but they could never bring themselves to think of them as outside the set of rules that decent people applied to themselves. You see this in their willingness to participate in politics by the rules established by the Left. Read old paleo-conservative writing and they never question the basics rules of the game.

The one exception is Sam Francis. In Beautiful Losers he wrote about the difference between what he called the Old Right and the New Right. For him, the former was the conservatism of the 19th century, which was legalistic and theoretical. The latter was the Buckley style conservatism he saw flourish in the Reagan years. This was a conservatism willing to engage in the nuts and bolts of politics. He predicted that their embrace of the liberal rules would eventually lead them to embrace liberal ends.

He was right about the Buckley crowd, but the paleos escaped that fate, only to be hurled into the outer darkness, spending their time either trying to maintain their orbit around the Progressive sun or lamenting their fate. The paleos were not good at building alternative institutions and as a result they were always living like outlaws in a kingdom run by the Left, with so-called allies willing to act as sheriff. It is an inescapable fact that the people hurling paleocons into the void were always their friends on the Right.

That’s one of the more obvious truths about the past failures, but another less obvious mistake remains unexamined. Some time ago I was sent a link to this post by Thomas Fleming, about how to begin the fight again with the Left. It is a well-written post by a great writer, so it is worth reading simply on aesthetic grounds. It has one flaw, however, and that is it repeats the same mistake paleos and others always seem to make when plotting an alternative to the prevailing orthodoxy. That is, the obsession with principles.

A point I have become fond of making, particularly at secret handshake societies, is that principles are the things winners create after they win, to justify their winning. Winners always create an origin story for themselves that suggests their dominance is the product of the moral order. The fetishization of Lincoln, for example, happened after the winners at Gettysburg were firmly in control of the conquered. The spasmodic hooting about unity we hear from the modern Left, is an aspiration they rejected when they were the rebels.

A mistake paleos and others often make is to assume that having a goal requires a well reasoned set of principles, by which they mean morals. Some goals contain within them all the justification they need., For example, Jews want their promised land to be an explicitly Jewish country. Similarly, White Nationalists want a land of their own that is the exclusive domain of whites. In both cases, the goal is the principle and the principle requires no further explanation. To do otherwise suggests the goal is negotiable.

Similarly, paleos were prone to negotiating with themselves. The endless debating over principles is really just an excuse for not moving forward. It may not be intentional, but that is the result. When the conqueror sets out to sack a city, the one thing he never does is wait until he has a detailed administrative plan for managing the city after the siege. The winners of life never lose sight of this truth. Principles are the things you create after the victory to lock in your gains and give the people a reason to celebrate your dominance.

Another thing that all forms of conservatism in the democratic era have struggled to understand is the role of the pseudo-intellectual trimmer. These are the sorts of people who attach themselves to right-wing movements, and immediately begin working to turn them into useful losers. A good recent example of this is Ross Douthat, who thinks the goal of his tribe is to infiltrate populist movements and then purge them of anything useful, turning them into a uniform that poseurs like himself can wear in the morality play.

This is exactly what happened with the Tea Party. What started out as an authentic white middle-class revolt was quickly hijacked by charlatans. In fact, the grifters arrived so quickly it looked like the Normandy invasion. These types of people operate in the same way English pirates operated in the age of sail. That is, the people in charge give them a free pass, as long as they meddle in the affairs of dissidents. The Right has never figured out how to defend itself from this attack or even tried to understand it.

Finally, the thing that got many paleos in trouble is they could never figure out how to keep the lunatics out of their thing. I’m talking about the people who cannot control themselves and say nutty things in public. The Buckelyites just purged anyone they saw as bad for their racket. In fact, it is what defines them. Paleos hated this about the Buckleyites and the neocons, but they never found an alternative. As a result, they were often put in the position of defending people who maybe should have been reprimanded instead.

The alt-right is a good recent example of this. What started as an edgy internet movement was plagued by old school nutters from the white nationalist subculture, as well as by loons who simply lack self-control. As a result, they became defined by guys like Chris Cantwell, instead of people like Mike Enoch. An outsider movement can only be successful if it offers a respectable face to the skeptical public. Policing the ranks for lunatics and subversives is a requirement, but one past movements never mastered.

Mencken 2018 Diary

Last year was my first time at the Mencken Club event, which is held every year here in Lagos. I knew about it for years, as John Derbyshire has been a regular there since the beginning and he has written about it every year. Not being an intellectual or an academic, I just assumed it was not for me. A few years ago, a famous person in dissident politics suggested I give these events a try, as I might enjoy it. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I attended Mencken and AmRen last year, as well as some other lesser known events.

The Mencken Club conference is organized like an academic conference and it is populated with smart people, many of whom are intellectuals and academics. There are plenty of normal people there as well. Academics and intellectuals like to socialize as much as normal people, so even if you don’t play in that space, you can still enjoy fraternizing with these folks over drinks. The social element is what makes these things worthwhile. That’s why our enemies try so hard to shut them down…

This year the event went off without incident and it was a good crowd. Mencken is a smaller event than American Renaissance, mostly because it unabashedly appeals to an academically oriented crowd. Paul Gottfried, the man responsible for it, has written a dozen or so books on politics and political theory. The speakers are all big brained people, who read and write about big brained topics. It’s also an older crowd. I scanned the room and maybe a dozen people were younger than me and I’m no spring chicken.

Last year, I noted that there was a strange nostalgia in the room. It was what I imagined it was like when Confederate soldiers got together after the war, to reminisce about their experiences and the what might have been. There was a lot of talk about old lost battles and old lost friends. There was some of that this year, as it is just part of the deal with an older crowd. There was also a new embrace of the new fight and the new battlefield on which it will be fought. I heard a lot of alt-right-ish stuff from people this year…

It occurred to me that one reason the sober side of the Dissident right is becoming more radicalized is the fact the Left is now otherizing them. When CNN demanded the White House hurl Darren Beattie into the void, it was a Fort Sumter moment for a lot of the paleocons and their fellow travelers. They could live with being purged by the Buckley Conservatives, because they could still live and work in the above ground intellectual economy. The Left is now demanding that end and I think that was a wake up call…

I met a famous legal scholar on Saturday. I’ll not name her, just to be safe, but she is a dedicated reader! In fact, she told me she recommended one of my podcasts to her students, which was quite flattering. It is another benefit, at least for me, of attending these events. To be around members of our intellectual elite is quite humbling and a good reminder that I can always get better. There were people in that room, like the legal scholar, who have forgotten more about these topics than most of us will ever know…

I got to sit next to the great John Derbyshire at lunch. I don’t have to worry about naming him as he has not only been hurled into the void, he is now the pit master. He gave a talk on how the future was most likely going to resemble Brave New World and most people would be happy with it. This rankled more than a few people in the room. A woman from Tennessee stood up during the Q&A and said something to the effect that her people would fight to the last man to prevent such a future. I love mountain culture.

I think John’s talk rankled, because he was mostly right. Look around and you see the signs of the looming World State. People are never vexed by a distopia they know is a fantasy, but they do get upset about a distopia that is possible. I pointed out to John, however, that his vision has one flaw. Utopia always implies genocide, as no perfect world can include the full range of humanity. Marxist relished this truth, but our rulers, like libertarians, lack the guts to face this reality. Therefore, they will lack the will to impose it…

On Friday, I met someone who is in government. He heard I was at the event and came to meet me. I can’t say any more about him, but let’s just say he works for a famous politician. We had arranged to meet in advance, so his name would not be associated with the event. This is not the first time this has happened. I get e-mails form “our people” who work in the system, trying to undermine the enemy from within. I jokingly call it the secret handshake society, but that’s the way it is and it is what I find most encouraging.

You see, people in power don’t waste time and resources hunting down the harmless or harassing the easily frightened. They target the people, groups and ideas they see as threat to them. That has the strange effect of making heresy more appealing to the sorts of people who oppose the prevailing order. The Left’s paranoia is not unjustified, but it is probably our greatest asset. Their lashing out at heretics is making heresy cool. It is the new counter culture and that alone draws support to our banner…

Finally, I sat at Paul Gottfried’s table at dinner on Friday. I have had very little interaction with him to that point, so it was a great treat to finally get to spend quality time with him. He is a wonderful person and exactly what one would expect a college professor to be like, in that he is willing to indulge those striving to learn, but willing to correct in order to facilitate the process. He’s also got a great sense of humor too. Like everyone at the conference, I am grateful that he has created a place for subversives to meet and socialize….

Autumn World Tour

As this show is released to the world, I am preparing for The Mencken Club conference, which is held annually here in Lagos. Unlike other events on the far far far extreme right, this is an older and more educated crowd. A good number of the attendees have advanced degrees, work in the academy and are members of AARP. Last year, the crowd was a blend of people in their 30’s and people in their 60’s, with a small number in the Generation X category. In other words, it’s mostly Boomers and Millennials.

Despite that, I had a good time last year, so I’m returning. I’d say the crowd is also divided ideologically. The older crowd is pretty much paleo-conservative, while the younger side skew alt-right. Given the condition of the alt-right these days, I doubt any of them would use that label, at least not in public. Still, the generational divide at this event is a useful proxy for what is happening in the culture. The older generation still thinks ideology is what matters, while the younger generation is drifting into identity politics.

One of the things that will be interesting to watch over the next decade is just how these sorts of events change, as the old give way to the young. The older generation prefers a model similar to an academic conference, in which you have speakers and organized social events. The younger generation seems to be less inclined to formalized meetings and more interested in the general socializing aspect. There’s also a noticeable lack of leaders in the younger generation, willing to organize these sorts of things.

Given the events of the last year, I’m interested in see who shows this year. The older crowd is less concerned with being outed as a heretic than the younger people, for obvious reasons. If you are a 30-something college professor hoping to get tenure, you need to be cautious in this age. This weekend will be a good test to see if the the endless persecution of heretics is having its intended effect. If I don’t see as many young faces this year, then we’ll know that the terror campaign working. .

This week I have the usual variety of items in the now standard format. Spreaker has the full show. I am up on Google Play now, so the Android commies can take me along when out disrespecting the country. I am on iTunes, which means the Apple Nazis can listen to me on their Hitler phones. The anarchists can catch me on iHeart Radio. YouTube also has the full podcast. Of course, there is a download link below. I’m now on Spotify, so the millennials can tune in when not sobbing over white privilege and toxic masculinity.

This Week’s Show

Contents

  • 00:00: Opening (Music)
  • 02:00: Racism In Kenya (Link)
  • 12:00: The German Right (Link)
  • 22:00: China Worries (Link) (Link)
  • 32:00: Brazil Hegemonic Masculinity (Link)
  • 42:00: Viva L’Italia (Link)
  • 52:00: Oh Canada (Link)
  • 57:00: Closing (Link) (Music)

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The Cancer of Fanaticism

In my school days, teachers would often say that historians remained puzzled as to why so many good Germans stood silent as the Nazis took over or how Russians just allowed the Bolsheviks to go on a murder spree. The point was to have us think about these events as something other than just a good guy versus bad guy thing. The lesson of history was that the forces of good had to be active, not passive. Otherwise, the people seeking to exploit and subvert society would not meet any resistance.

Perhaps for school kids, it was a fine exercise, but it was the sort of thinking that motivated the Nazis and Bolsheviks to murder. These were not people who thought of themselves as evil or on the wrong side of history. To the contrary, they saw themselves as the champions of light, fighting the forces of darkness. As such, they were duty bound to use any means necessary to win. Maybe the people at the top were more cynical, as is usually the case, but the rank and file were the truest of true believers.

The only person I have read, other than myself, who bothered to contemplate the mindset of the typical Nazi, Bolshevik or Progressive was Eric Hoffer. His classic book, The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, is the field guide to understanding the mind of the political zealot. Over the years I have referenced it many times, when posting about the American Left. Hoffer’s book is not the definitive work, more of a skeleton key to unlock a mode of analysis. It is a starting point in thinking about the Left.

For example, the conventional way of framing politics is the old Left-Right scale, where Hitler is on the Right and Stalin is on the Left. This scale was useful during the Cold War as a rhetorical device, but it never made any sense, as a way to describe the modern political universe. It’s why stupid people and the historically ignorant argue that the Nazis were actually leftists or that fascism exists today. The demands of that political scale require everyone to seek the undefined to middle, to avoid being Hitler or Stalin.

A better scale, especially in the current age, is probably one that has the true believer at one end and the non-ideological skeptic at the other. Unlike the old Left-Right scale, there is no one at the either end to point to as the most extreme example. Instead, it is impossible to be entirely free of belief, as humans are not robots. Therefore, there are no pure skeptics. At the other end, there is always some way to be just a bit more pious than the most pious, or at least appear to be, so it is a line that extends out indefinitely.

Another way to think of it is the skeptical end is zero, the complete lack of belief or faith, if you will, and the total acceptance of observable reality. No human is built with a desire to reach zero. It’s like looking into a blast furnace. No matter how beautiful it is, the closer you get the more intolerable. Just as no one can walk into and experience the purifying flames of the furnace, not one can ever fully embrace reality. As a result, the most cynical among us are clustered at some safe distance from the point of absolute reality.

At the other end, the next point on the scale is like the next step on the road to paradise and each step is more inviting than the next, at least to those built to seek it.  Unlike the other end of the scale, there is no intense resistance, so the only thing that can keep the believer from seeking greater purity is a leash of sorts, either internal or external, that limits their ability to seek the ultimate goal. In the post-Christian West, we are learning that some men lack that internal governor and will go as far as they can to reach paradise.

That is, of course, what lies beneath the great ideological struggles of the Western world since the French Revolution. They may not be explicit, but that is what lies beneath all of them. Communists of various stripes thought they could create the worker’s paradise in the industrial age. The radicalism of Robespierre became a secular religion, in which men were gods. The fascists were a utopian reaction to the utopian radicals of their age. They simply had a different vision of paradise, which is why they embraced the same methods.

We see this today with the America Left, which has, in fits and starts, become increasingly radical and increasingly untethered from reality. Into the 20th century, it still carried with it the Christian restraint of accepting that paradise, if it exists at all, is in the next life. That’s all gone now and the believers are filled with the passion of the zealot. All that matters to them is the next step on the path. Whoever is the most pious, the furthest along on the journey, is the standard until someone else can prove to be pious, further along the path.

That explains the dog-piling we see from these fanatics, whenever they discover a heretic or obstacle. They lack anything resembling human compassion, so the heretic serves only one role for them. That is as a point of comparison. The more outraged and exited one is about the heretic, the more pious they are. The heretic, becomes point zero on the graph, so the further one is away from the heretic, emotionally and spiritually, the further along they are on their journey to paradise. Thus the endless piety contests.

It’s why someone like Howard Dean feels righteous in calling for the imprisonment of Andrew Torba, for the crime of existing. Dean is not a bright man, but he is filled with the passion of the true believer. For him and the rest of his cult, the point of shrieking at Torba is not a practical one. It is spiritual one. They are showing how far along the path they are away from the sinner and toward the land of milk and honey. Dean probably would have called for Torba’s murder, but he did not have to in order to show he was the most pious.

That is the great challenge of the post-Christian era. The limiting principle of Christianity, that grace was for the next life, is gone. That means all of the lunatics are off the leash and society has no intellectual framework for putting them back on the leash. As a result, the West is afflicted with a metastasizing cancer in the form of increasingly deranged true believers, determined to extend their quest for self-abnegation to the whole of society in order to bring about the end times. Either the cancer is removed, or the host will die.