Citationism

One of the irritating things about reading anything that strives to be academic is the thicket of citations throughout the text. It’s not just the end notes and footnotes, but the constant references to the work of others. Often, the text reads like a summary of the work in the field, rather than something original. Just as often, the text has the feel of a paper turned in by a teenager, trying to prove they did their homework. It is not just bad writing, it is a waste of time. It is disrespectful of the reader.

It’s not just a stylistic thing, but a reflection of something that has happened in the intellectual classes of American society. It used to be that an intellectual mastered a subject in order to build on it. The point of his labor was not to prove he had read everyone in the field. The point was to find the gaps in his field and use the source material as a foundation for filling some of those gaps. In other words, the academic added to his field, rather than maintained it like a curator of a museum.

This shift from speculation to memorization reflects the shift in the culture, not just the education system. As a managerial system came to dominate the upper reaches of society, the education system became an exam system. You pass through the system in order to accumulate credentials that open doors within the managerial elite. The system began to select against people who question the current order. Instead, the system selects for those most likely to support and defend the system.

Of course, as the mass media moved from being a vocation to a profession, it began to adopt the habits seen in other areas of the managerial class. Commentary on current events is less about explaining what happened and more about the writer showing they memorized all the things that will be on the test. The opinion sections of news sites are echo chambers, where each writer salts their text with the latest fads, as if they are writing an essay for their high school social studies class.

The banality is not confined to Progressives. The so-called intellectual dark web is just as dull and cautious, but decorated with some risqué phrases picked up from dissident politics. Here’s a story from Claire Lehmann about the Australian election. She is sort-of from Australia, but the post reads like it was written by someone, who knows everything about the place from a text book. There are no insights or speculations, just a long proof that the writer has read all of the approved source material and passed the test.

She seems particularly proud of herself for using the term “champagne socialist” as if that is a catchy insight. It’s just a different ways of saying “limousine liberal” which was popular with conservatives in the 1980’s. Again, we see that strange echo. The New Left in the West is a weird museum exhibit on the 1970’s, while the New Right is nostalgia for the 1980’s. We have a generation of public intellectuals, who memorized the political fights of their parent’s generation, but have no idea what they meant.

The fetish for the citation also has crept into elite commentary.  In books about current events, writers fill the pages with references to other people’s ideas. Even in op-ed style pieces, there’s every effort made to name-drop and preen about having read some famous person in the field. Instead of trying to enlighten the reader, or even just inform, the modern writer is like the kid in the front of class, furiously waving her hand saying, “I know! I know!” Everyone is trying to show they did the required assignment.

When people stop looking for gaps in their own knowledge or in the prevailing orthodoxy, they no longer have much to say. The lack of curiosity used to be the end of an academic career. It was when the old guy was put out to pasture, gaining the “emeritus” label. Today, a promiscuous lack of curiosity is a requirement for anyone entering the media, the academy or the official public space. As a result, we have a class of academics and public intellectuals, who are a circus of banality.

Worse yet, and this gets back to the citation fetish, there is no effort to make existing ideas accessible. The other role of the intellectual is to explain complex things in a way that regular people can grasp. That’s both a public service and proof you have mastered the material. In an effort to prove to teacher that they have done their homework, modern writing is so junked up with citations, references and insider jargon, it is unreadable to anyone outside the field. Much of it is just unreadable.

Perhaps this is just another manifestation of the end phase of a society. Like an old man, who no longer has the energy or courage to question authority, a society gets old and loses its will to question. Instead of sitting around looking at scrap books and telling war stories, the intellectual class reboots old ideas from prior generations and repeats the same things over and over. It’s not that these people were trained wrong. It’s that they are the result of a culture with nothing left to say, so they just repeat their greatest hits.

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Privacy In The Technological State

Privacy is something that has become a front burner topic for everyone, because every day we are treated to stories about how corporations are spying on us. They harvest information from our daily routines, put it into databases and then use it to push ads on us wherever we turn. They are now inserting surveillance devices in our homes to listen in on us as we go about our daily routines. Of course, no one knows how much is done with government blessing and cooperation, but we know it is there.

Of course, the fact that everyone is worried about this issue means the politicians never speak of it. The old Joe Sobran line was that America is a country where the political parties are significantly to the Left of their voters. Today, when Left and Right are meaningless artifacts from a bygone era, both parties simply make sure to never address the concerns of the people. While Democrats are analyzing spectral evidence for signs of Russian gremlins, the GOP is thanking you for not smoking.

Even though it seems that the unwanted gaze is upon us everywhere, we are just at the start of a new problem. In the pre-industrial age, the privacy concern was the king’s men rummaging through your possessions or intercepting your courier. For most people this was never going to be a concern. In the industrial age, the state expanded to the point where everyone could be exposed to a government process. The concern then was your rights within the process. How much did you have to reveal to them?

In the technological age, where the lines between the state and the global technology companies are blurred, we have very different problems. These are the sorts of problems classical liberals, so beloved by libertarians and conservatives, never contemplated. It’s why civic nationalism sounds so ridiculous when debating what to do about these tech firms controlling our civil discourse. For example, this blog is blocked by corporate firewall makers, which are private companies doing the bidding of the political class.

Think about this. Police departments are now using services like Ancestory.com to help solve cold cases. They submit DNA evidence to the service and the service reports back members who have some connection. You committed the perfect crime in 1982, but left behind some DNA at the crime scene. Your cousin decides to trace her (it’s always a her in these cases) ancestry using a DNA service. All of a sudden you have cops at your door asking you about your whereabouts 40 years ago.

It’s easy to shrug this off as the person suddenly tangled in this new technological surveillance web is a criminal. We all want to see justice done. But, think about the implications of this new world. All of us now have a permanent record that is increasingly open to examination by unofficial agents of the state. How long before some tech company gets into the business of solving crimes? How long before the cops start purchasing their services on-line just like they are doing with ancestry?

There is another side to this. The tech companies can also spy on the state, by accessing the records of people working in the state. Every government has to keep secrets in order to function. It is why every modern society has developed processes for determining what can be revealed and what can be concealed by government. There are processes the public and government must follow and they are administered by the courts. What happens when the tech giants can bypass all of this?

Think of another problem. Before the media was completely owned by the government, private media operations would publish government secrets they thought the public had a right to see. It sounds crazy, but it used to happen. The courts carved out exceptions to permit this, basically putting the burden of keeping secrets on the state. Now, with help from technology, the state can fight back and go after the handful of independent media people snooping around government. This story will be interesting.

There are two problems we face in the technological age that are new. One is how to place hard limits on the synopticon. This unwanted stare called the surveillance state that is now on all of us will have to be blinded, unless there are hard limits on where anyone can peer into the lives of the people. In other words, it is no longer about the state and the citizens’ right to privacy. It is about society and the human right to a private space, free of the unwanted gaze. We will need absolute zones of privacy.

The other problem is how to fashion punishments that are so terrifying that they change behavior. What’s happened within these massive technology firms is the evolution of a culture where everyone sees themselves as a member of a clerisy, guarding the public from themselves. These decisions to ban books and censor speech are not made at the top, but in the middle, by functionaries doing what they assume is their duty. Either the firms are destroyed and the people chased off or we change the culture in them.

One way to change the culture is to attach liability to violating the safe zones. The reason every company in America spends money proving they are not racist is there are serious liabilities that come with doing otherwise. Something similar must happen with privacy. Companies need to be as berserk about not looking where they are prohibited from looking, as they are about conforming to current morality on race. Otherwise, the solution is to let a million flowers bloom in Silicon Valley.

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Ethno-Fanaticism

For a long time, the internationalist argument for a world governed by supra-national bodies, established through multilateral treaties, was that these systems would prevent a repeat of the first half of the 20th century. The lesson learned by Western elites was that nationalism leads to competition, which then leads to war. By forcing all countries into a web of cooperative agreements to arbitrate disputes, the opportunity for conflict is reduced and the benefits of war are eliminated, so we get less war.

That is the germ of Europeanism as manifested by the European Union. Instead of these countries competing for resources and status, they will cooperate economically in such a way that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Similarly, the U.S. giving the store away to a country like China for the last thirty years is seen as a trade-off to prevent war in the Pacific. Rather than the countries competing, the rich countries led by the US would help lift China and others into the modern age as a post-communist society.

It all sounds wonderful, but the aversion to nationalism evolved into this self-loathing we see today all across Western elites. Instead of creating a post-national super-society of European people, the elites are now at war with their own people and the people are breaking into their own tribes. The Western elites ramp up their efforts to eradicate a sense of identity among the people, which causes more people to abandon the old sense of national identity for a new tribal one that is hostile to the elites.

The old national identity used to function as the strong force that subordinated the local and tribal, in favor of the national. While France could have plenty of local flavor, so to speak, the strong force of French nationalism bound all those local tribes together like horses pulling a wagon. As that strong force is deliberately weakened, nothing has come to replace it, so the weak force is taking over. The response by elites is to attack group identity by writing the people out of their own history.

That’s what you see here with this claim that Shakespeare was not a white man from England, but a Jewish woman. The usual suspects have jumped onto it, because they think it makes them look clever, but there is something else. These claims are popular with left-wing Jews for the same reason white identity politics is increasing popular with white people. Without a strongly typed host society, tribalism becomes the default sense of identity. These secular Jewish women are becoming ethno-fanatics.

Now, to be fair and offer a counter to this argument, Jews rewriting history to put themselves in the center of it is not a new thing. What Christians call the Old Testament is pretty much the first work of revisionist history. A small literate tribe in the Middle East wrote the story and made themselves the stars, despite the fact they were minor players in the region for thousands of years. If the Persians had been better at passing down a written history, the story would have different stars and narratives.

In modern America, Jews have come to dominate much of the ruling class, so they are rewriting themselves into the national story. That is the whole point of Ben Shapiro’s new book. His argument for Judeo-Christianity is all about the Judeo and nothing about the Christian. The point of the project is to make himself the star of this think he greatly admires, even if it is imaginary. The fact that he is every bit the ethno-fanatic as people like Elizabeth Winkler underscores the tribal nature of these efforts.

Just as killing off Christianity was never going to kill off religion – people will believe in something – killing off national identity is not going to kill of identity. The decimation of mainstream Christianity has resulted in a fragmentation of the religious space, with all sorts of beliefs rushing in to fill the void. The decline of national identity and the subsequent war on white people is creating room for tribalism to flourish. In this regard, civic nationalism is a rearguard action. It’s why it is popular with old people.

Jews tend to be the canary in the coal mine for the West. Whenever the West is about to take a bad turn, Jews start to pop up in the story. Part of it is that rewriting of history to make them the stars, but their role in the West is real. The outbreak of ethno-fanaticism among secular Jews is probably a leading indicator and a trailing one. That is, what’s happening with Jews will happen with the other tribes in these territories, but it is also the sign of an end point. The Tribe is rallying the tribes in the face of disorder.

The outbreak of ethno-fanaticism does not necessarily mean we are headed to a great conflict between tribes. The story of the post-war years is really the story of overshooting the mark. In America, black civil rights should never have gone beyond the legal, but it turned into a war on whites. In Europe, the project should never have gone beyond economic and military cooperation. Perhaps ethno-nationalism is simply going to be a corrective that puts the limiting principles back on the elites.

On the other hand, maybe the road to a post-national West is going to be built on a strong, local sense of ethnic-identity. Everyone retreats to their local camps, sorting themselves into those natural boundaries. In the face of massive migration out of the south, it becomes a defense in depth. Imagine if locals in America were passively hostile to all strangers, even their neighbors. Immigration no longer makes sense for Hispanics. The same would hold for Europe with regards to Arabs and Africans.

In one of life’s ironies, it could be that the West is going to start emulating what has worked for Jews. That strong sense of ethnic identity does not rule out cooperation with other tribes. In fact, it becomes the engine of cooperation. Jews probably would not exist at all, if not for Christendom. They adapted to being a guest population, by combining a strong ethnic identity with a willingness to adapt to the conditions of the host population. Now, the rest of the West is heading down the same path.

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AmRen Journal II

Saturday is the long day of the conference. It starts at nine and runs through five, then there is a banquet with a speaker. This year Taylor went with a youth movement for the speakers. Patrick Casey started things off with a talk about his group and what they are doing. Young people are terrible public speakers, because they are inexperienced, and nervous, but Casey delivered a nice professional talk that did not try to do too much.

That’s the key with public speaking. You’re not Cicero or Patrick Henry so don’t try too hard. Make your points, respect the audience and play within yourself. Casey delivered a nice professional speech that covered the material. It suggests he is growing into his role as a leader of his group. There’s nothing wrong with youthful energy, which AIM has in plenty, but there needs to be a steady hand guiding that youthful energy.

It occurred to me, while interacting with the AIM guys, that the biggest challenge they will face is maintaining discipline in the organization. Bring together a bunch of bright young guys and they will come up with a million new ideas. Not all of them will be great ideas, which where guys like Casey need to step in and impose some discipline, in order to keep the groups on the same page and out of dangerous waters.

The trouble, young guys will buck and not want to take direction from the home office on what they are doing locally. Casey is going to have make belonging to his brand so valuable that the local chapters will never consider breaking off on their own, which was an issue with the Identity Europa organization. Casey is a bright guy getting good advice, so they will unriddle it, but it will be a challenge for them in the near term…

John Derbyshire, who gave a talk on his idea of an arctic alliance. It’s a stock talk he has given before in various ways, but with so many new people showing up at these things, it is important they hear the source material for many of the ideas they have found persuasive. His talk was a good counter to the Casey talk, as Derb is more on the philosophy and theory end, while Casey is a retail organizer.

Political theory and meta-politics are important, but they are useless without a retail arm implementing those ideas. At the same time, organizing to gain political power is just barbarism, unless it is toward some larger goal. Power is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. America has rotten elites and they need to be replaced, but their rotten ideas have to be defeated as well. Giving the audience a taste of bother ends of that political teeter-totter was a good way to open the show…

The afternoon session shifted gears a bit. Jared always has at least one speaker discuss events in Europe, which is a great way to add some perspective. As Americans, we often fail to notice what’s happening in the broader world. That’s mostly because our media is all propaganda at this point, but we have always been a provincial people. We have a big country with plenty to keep us busy. Still what’s happening in with regards to the big issues of this age is just as important as what is happening here.

John Morgan from Counter-Currents gave a great talk on Hungary. He is an American, but he spends most of his life in Europe. Oddly, what is happening in Eastern Europe probably has more salience for dissidents than much of what is happening here. In Hungary, they are wrestling with the problems of globalism, nationalism and migration and radical democracy. In a sense, the great fight between globalism and nationalism is being fought in these former Soviet Bloc nations, so it should have our attention…

The dinner speaker was James Allsup, who has a hug YouTube following. I’ve been to a lot of events for all sorts of things and I can count on one hand the number of time I paid attention to a dinner speech. By that stage, I’m tired and ready for a nap. The Allsup speech was great and had my attention throughout. He’s only 23, but handles himself like a veteran on stage. Unlike Nick Fuentes, it seems perfectly natural. I really enjoyed listening to his talk and he is going to be a big star ion this scene for years to come…

Generational politics is a little annoying, because the supposed differences in generations are usually meaningless. Since the middle of the last century, it is mostly a way to keep whites bickering with one another, rather than defending their interests as a group. Something that is different with the next generation though is total comfort with all media. The Millennials grew up consuming product, but the Zoomers have grown up producing product. It’s second nature for them.

I think that may be why we are seeing so many you YouTube stars with a lever of sophistication in their product that seems impossible. Allsup has done a million video and interview by the time he is 23. This young girl calling herself “Soph” is probably a sign of things to come. Producing content is as natural to her as breathing, because she grew up doing it. She’s also consuming content at a rate never seen, so she has internalized ideas it used to years to grasp. The Zoomers are going to be different…

It used to be that countries routinely issued visas to people entering for business or tourism without too much hassle. It was what civilized countries did. On the other hand, the less civilized discouraged visitors. Albania was famous for operating like a hermit colony during the Cold War. Saudi Arabia is known for being unfriendly to visitors, even their fellow Muslims. The rule of thumb was that the openness to tourism was a proxy for the degree of order and civility in the society.

Today, America is now routinely rejecting people from Western countries because of their politics. Greg Johnson’s Canadian video guy was detained by U.S. customs at the airport and then deported, because he was coming to AmRen. He was told he violated the terms of his visa, because he intended to interview people at the event. It is complete nonsense, but they don’t need a reason to reject someone. He was also made persona non grata for five years. This is where we are now in America…

There was a lovely couple from Wisconsin in attendance and we chatted at length about what we need to do and where we want this thing to go. It is a common conversation I have with people new to this stuff and I don’t always have the best answers. I think I may have stumbled upon one this weekend. I said, “The best thing you can do for the cause is bring two of your friends next year.” That really is the right answer, when you step back and look at it. It is our version of “think globally, act locally.”

Everyone has a role to play, but the most important role is for everyone in dissident politics to get creative on red-pilling their friends and family. That means getting together to talk about what works and what does not work. If everyone at AmRen could convert one friend by next year, the event is sold out in weeks, not months. If that keeps happening the thing will not be held in a forest, but on the Capital Mall. In all matters, it is numbers that matter. First we get the numbers, then everything else is possible…

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AmRen Journal I

In order to get to American Renaissance, I have to rent a car and drive about an hour west to the secret location in the forest. It’s not a terrible drive, so I don’t mind it, but I have come to hate dealing with car rental places. For some reason, the Nashville car rental counters are staffed by the worst people they can find. This time I was served by a black guy named Abdul with a strange accent that I could not place.

Abdul had a very bad attitude, but the sort of thing that you see from a sub-Saharan government worker. He carried on like I was disturbing him. He also stopped doing what needed doing every few minutes to stare at women walking past. The weird thing is the whole thing could be automated at this point. Most of it is, but they still have guys like Abdul working the counter for some reason.

The car was not where it was supposed to be, so with the help of guys who looked like extras from a documentary on Hernán Cortés I found the car. It turns out that Abdul is not good with his letters, so he transposed some of them on the paperwork.  I get why many Americans are not troubled by machines taking over these jobs. The machines are more polite and make fewer mistakes…

I took a detour to see the Parthenon, which is a weird landmark in Nashville that I have never seen, despite being here many times. It’s a fun park and I highly recommend it if you are ever in Nashville and want a nice relaxing afternoon. It’s still weird to have a copy of the Parthenon in an Appalachian city, but it is quintessentially American. The answer to “why build a Parthenon in Nashville” is “why not build one?”

The rental car is Hyundai of some sort. It has all of the usual electronics, plus the collision avoidance stuff. Man is that annoying. Every truck that passed too close set of the buzzer. At some point, the car decided I needed to take a break and started beeping, suggesting I pull over for coffee. No kidding. I politely told the car to go screw, but it kept making that suggestion every ten minutes.

I think one reason the word seems like it is going mad, is that it is increasingly becoming idiot proof or at least trying to be idiot proof. Our cars now treat us like children. To a normal person able to navigate the world without help, this is awful. To the dummies, it is manna from heaven, I’m guessing. Still, I’d like to get my hands on the engineer who came up with the idea for the car to recommend coffee breaks…

The first time I attended American Renaissance, I was surprised by the quality of the people, which was most due to my ignorance. It was more like an academic conference than a political event. The point was the attendees were educated, professional and representative of the sort that keep the wheels of this society turning, which was what I found so striking about my first time here.

This time, I’m struck by the youth. I’m 53 so I’m probably a bit more aware of the age in the room these day, but correcting for that, the room is much younger this year. There is a new generation coming into focus here and that is encouraging. Interestingly, there were some father and son attendees. In some cases, it is the father bringing the son along and in others the son bringing the father. That’s another one of those green shoots.

There are more women here than in the past. That’s probably a good thing, but I’m not going to carve that into stone just yet. The Yoko Ono problem is a universal that transcends time and place. Still, the women I met here last night all seem level headed.  Now that Heartiste is in internet gaol, I feel I have to pick up the slack on the wammin issue, so consider this my contribution to the cause. Speedy return Heartiste…

In years past, the socializing has been about the journey to this side of the great divide, with people trading stories about when they were red pilled. This year, at least so far, the talk is all about how to get more people to our side. It’s anecdotal, but it fits in with what I see elsewhere, so maybe there is a trend here. My first guess is that the number of people with their eyes wide open has reached a point where it is no longer seen as unusual…

One last note before I head off to the morning sessions. Coming in yesterday I bumped into Jared Taylor and his fiancée having a walk around the grounds. We chatted for fifteen minutes or so. They wanted to know if I have had any trouble traveling in Europe. I think Jared is still pissed about his banning, which is understandable. It’s not so much the banning, but the slimy way it was done. He expects better from his adversaries.

The fact is though, we are being treated like dangerous revolutionaries for simply wanting what people have taken for granted since the dawn of human settlement. We’re not going to get better adversaries. We’re stuck with the shabby, ruthless and vulgar people who take pleasure in harassing normal people. We have to adjust to that. If we’re going to be treated like revolutionizes, then we best start acting like them…

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The Roots Of Our Madness

By the time you are reading this, I will be winging my way out of Lagos to Nashville Tennessee for the annual American Renaissance conference. Those of you who will be attending, I look forward to meeting you. I will be easy to find. For those not attending, I will be positing about it over the weekend. It is just Friday and Saturday, so I’ll probably post something Saturday and then something when I get back on Sunday.

This year there is a bit of a youth movement, as many of the speakers are quite young, but maybe it will be good to have some youth on the roster. The crowd will be close to a record, so maybe the young speakers are drawing in a young crowd. There will be some old timers in the mix, as well, so it is not a children’s crusade. It will be good practice for me at being an old man in a room full of rotten kids.

This week’s show is a little different. I like to keep things fresh, so the format is a bit different, mostly due to the fact I could only think of five sub-topics. The genesis of this week’s theme was something John Derbyshire covered in his podcast last week. He talked about quantifying the degree of craziness in this age. I’m taking a shot at explaining the causes of the present lunacy. You can catch John’s show here.

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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

Contents

  • 00:00: Opening
  • 02:00: The Crazy Town Express
  • 12:00: The Mad House
  • 22:00: A Crazy Sexual Marketplace
  • 32:00: Ruled By Morons
  • 42:00: Monopolized & Homogenized
  • 57:00: Closing

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Thoughts On Southern Identity

Southern identity is one of those things most people think they can define without too much trouble. After all, there are so many southern stereotypes popularized by Hollywood that you are spoiled for choice. If you think poorly of the South, then you can go with the snaggle-toothed redneck in overalls and no shirt. If you hold romantic notions about the South, then there is the smooth and courtly southern gentleman, who makes the ladies blush. Of course, there is everything in between.

In reality, those types we get from popular culture are caricatures of old realities, more than anything based in present reality. In the major population centers in the modern South, you will be hard pressed to find the snaggle-toothed redneck or the courtly southern gentleman. Instead, it is mostly middle-class suburban people living better than most of the country. The quality of life in the modern South is much higher than most of the country, which is why so many are moving there.

Of course, the South has never been monolithic. Georgia has a different culture than South Carolina, because it has a different origin story. Parts of North Carolina are more like Virginia, while other parts are more like Appalachia. Again, this is due to the people who settled these areas. While Southern identity has largely been bordered by slavery and the Civil War, even within that framework there was a great deal of diversity in the South, going back to the beginning. Southern culture is diversity.

Then there is the fact the South has always been home to a large black population with its own identity and origin story. Despite what northern historians claim, blacks have always been a part of Southern identity. In the rest of the country, blacks are a tolerated add-on population. A black person raised in Boston would never call himself a Bostonian, while a black raised in the South is going to identify as Southern. It is a different sense of identity than a white person from the South, but not alien.

Compounding the natural diversity of the South in the current age is the large number of foreigners that have moved to the South in the past few decades. From the perspective of the natives, it is hard to say which is worse, the migrant laborers from over the horizon or the economic migrants from the rest of the country. The former seems to have more respect for the locals than the latter and they generally have the decency not to vote in local elections. Still, both are now a part of the South.

Unlike white identity, Southern identity, as a cultural and political movement, has another problem. There have been prior efforts to forge a politics in the South, all of which have failed for various regions. As a result, Southern identity carries with it a stigma that is hard to shake. Efforts to organize today, inevitably have to deal with the old guys from the past showing up wanting to revitalize their thing, rather than embrace something new and based in present reality. The South still has ghosts.

All that said, the South is going to be on the cutting edge of identity politics, even if it struggles to forge a new identity. Georgia is 55% white, with a large black population spoiling for a chance to hold the whip hand over whites. Florida is 56% white with a swelling population of Caribbeans. Texas is already minority white and the flood of migrants is making it more so. It is in the South that white identity, regional identity and identity politics will be the defining issues in the very near future.

How this breaks out is hard to know. There are people with ideas about it, like the folks at Identity Dixie, with whom I did an interview recently. They are in many ways the New South, in that they are college educated, middle-class guys. As I like to put it, the new Southern man has a pickup truck, but it cost sixty grand, has leather seats and the bed has only ever seen his kid’s toys and his golf clubs. If it has a bumper sticker on it on, it is for parking at his office building or maybe his golf club.

When thinking about Southern identity, a good place to start would be the world of William Faulkner. A century ago, the changing nature of the South was the displacement of the old gentry with the decedents of white plantation workers and dirt farmers. The old aristocracy was giving way to a cruder, more cunning and less culturally ambitious breed of Southerner. The Snopes family was the new South, not invested in any romantic notions of the past, beyond what could profit them.

What seems to be happening today is a reverse of that. The people in the new Southern identity movements are like the guys at Identity Dixie. They are smart and educated, working in the modern economy. They have a connection to that old sense of Southern identity like the Compson family in the Faulkner novels, but they are not haunted by it. It is in the South where a native archeofuturism is forming up, where the past informs the present, as they develop an identity for the future.

It is hard to know where this goes. It is in the South where the homogenization and financialization of America is most obvious. Vast developments of identical houses, with Potemkin “town centers” populated by strangers from all over the earth, is just as much a part of the New South as anything else. If someone had moved away from the Charlotte area thirty years ago and returned for the first time today, they would be in a foreign country. Even NASCAR is different from the recent past.

How a Southern identity grows out of that is hard to know, especially one that is not reactionary. If the new sense of Southern identity is going to avoid the fate of prior efforts, it will have to be positive, rather than negative. When a group identity is based on opposition to some other group, it is not something to carry a people forward. It is their long retreat into the oblivion of history. Whatever comes next for Southern identity will have to avoid that mistake and be forward looking and independent.

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Modern Political Escapism

One of the weird features of current age America is it is kind of like a community theater production of popular Broadway shows. The people on stage are enthusiastic to play the roles and the production people work hard to get everything just as the audience would remember it. The audience will tolerate some changes and revisions, in order to update the show, but otherwise they want to see the original. The culture of this age is like a long re-do of the past, in order to get it right this time.

The most obvious place for this is in movies. There are small independent films that try new things, but the big productions are all rehashes of old material. In many cases they are remakes that deviate in amusing ways from the original. This has become so obvious that there are a bunch of hackneyed jokes about it. As soon as a remake is announced, everyone lets fly with jokes about how it will feature a one-legged trans lesbian of color, rather than the white male star in the original production.

Where this lack of new ideas is most obvious is in the realm of politics. The vast Democratic field, which is up to 22 now, is interesting for the sole reason that it is the wildly boring cast of characters. The front-runners are two near-dead geezers who sound like museum exhibits on the 1970’s. The rest remind everyone of the people you meet at a corporate retreat. They are studies in blandness. The primary is going to be a beauty contest without a talent competition, because no one has any talent.

One of the interesting things to come out of the Ben Shapiro meltdown on the BBC, besides him behaving like a spoiled teenager, was the exchange over which side of the political class has new ideas. Shapiro was right to point out that the new ideas on the Left are just remakes of very old ideas, but he was unable to name a single thing the so-called conservative movement has to offer. The American Left is a post-modern art installation, but the American Right, the official one, is the storage closet.

If you go to National Review Online and search for the word “socialism” you get more than a hundred pieces ranting about socialism this year. The word “automation” generates no hits for this year, despite the fact automation of labor is the most important economic topic of this age. The word “immigration” gets some hits, but all from the two people who focus on it and nothing but political observations. Is there a “conservative case” for or against immigration? They have one for men pretending to be women.

In fairness, those “conservative case for” pieces that dissidents love to mock have dried up of late, in favor of a trip down memory lane. The conservative movement is now committed to fighting socialism. Every day they put out tired essays like this one from Kevin Williamson. National Review is committed to promoting the moronic strategy of the Republican Party, which is desperate to campaign on anything other than what their voters see as important. America has always been at war with abstract ideas!

Of course, they never actually argue against socialism. There’s no conservative case for ending social security. That’s a giant wealth transfer from the young to the old. The same is true of Medicare. They can’t even muster a case against programs like subsidized school lunches. Instead, like Ben Shapiro, they focus all of their energy on attacking the ideas of unstable females like Ocasio-Cortez. American political debate is a bum fight outside a debilitated old bar in a town that has seen better days.

In fairness, there are some people on the permitted Right that understand Buckley Conservatism is dead. This Rod Dreher post about J.D. Vance speaking at the American Conservative dinner touches on it. The thing is though, you see why these guys are hopelessly trapped in an ideological cage built for them by the Left. What Vance imagines is some weird new conservationism that proves once and for all that the Democrats are the real racists. It’s reactionary nostalgia for yesterday men.

The fact is, Buckley style conservatism was always just a wart on the face of American Progressivism, intended to make it less attractive. It was never a fully formed moral philosophy that could stand independently from Progressivism. It’s why it was so easily infiltrated by libertarianism after the Cold War. Both ideologies are dependent on the Left to exist. Libertarianism was a critique of central planning, while conservatism was a defense of Western order in the face of 19th century radicalism.

Whatever comes next is not going to be rooted in middle-aged white guys emoting about black single mothers. That Vance speech is just another version of the same old plea for mercy conservatives have been sending out since they lost the fight on freedom of association in the 1960’s. Cobbling together tribes of losers, hiding out in the jungle long after the war has ended, is not the future of the Right. What comes next is going to be a moral philosophy rooted in biological reality.

In the meantime, both sides of the political order will belt out show tunes from their salad days, while pretending they are having a serious debate. It is, in part, a way to avoid facing up to present reality. Why talk about the inherent instability of a majority-minority society when you can debate climate change? Why talk about the plight of white people in America when you can rant about Venezuelan economic policy? In addition to being a dearth of new ideas, modern political debate is a form of escapism.

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Back To A Forgotten Past

When you read old books, something you will notice is that intellectuals a century ago had a better sense of history. They did not “remember” things that happened before their time, of course, but they knew a lot about the past. Therefore, their sense of history was broader than what you see today. For most people in this age, history started somewhere around when they began to notice things. This makes for a strange sense of history, particularly for young people, as they have not been around long.

This is something that Oswald Spengler addressed in The Decline of the West, with the ancient Greeks. An interesting point he makes is that because the Greeks did not create monuments for their dead, like elaborate tombs or cemeteries, they could not build a timeline from the lives of their heroes. The Egyptians, on the other hand, would always know they were an ancient people, because they lived and died in the shadows of great monuments built by their ancestors to venerate their ancestors.

The claim is debatable, but a people’s sense of time is not universal. If you are a people without a belief in an afterlife, it will shape how you live this life, compared to those who believe in judgement after death. The possibility of eternal damnation not only alters behavior, it is a daily reminder of the brevity of a man’s life. Similarly, if you know, or at least assume, you will die young, you’re going to live fast. That is the whole basis of the “live fast, die young and leave a beautiful corpse” ethos of the rock star.

In modern America, the past is a foreign country to most people, even for those with an interest in history. The reason is our present is not littered with reminders of those who came before us. America has always been a live fast, die young country, so we have never centered our culture on people and events of the past. In a few weeks we will have “Memorial Day” and few people can say what it is we memorialize. What it means to most Americans is the start of summer and the consumption of summer product.

There is something to say for the live fast, die young ethos, but it makes it easy to repeat the same mistakes over and over. We see this with the mass media, which is in low regard at the moment. The inability to remember before yesterday has people thinking this is a new thing, rather than the normal state of affairs. Matt Taibbi thinks the media wrecked itself in the 1990’s, with the Lewinsky scandal. Their covering up for the Clintons was the start of the collapse of journalism and the reputation of the media.

While it was certainly a shabby performance, it was not all that different from what went on the 1980’s and it was not worse than what happened in the 1970’s. If you want to put down a marker as the starting point of modern advocacy journalism, the Watergate scandal is where it all started. That’s when narrative journalism bloomed and it made some reporters rich and famous. Since then, every upper middle-class kid entering journalism school, has dreamed of being Bob Woodward and taking down a Republican president.

The reality though, is the media has always been advocacy. There was never a time when news reporters were objective or conformed to a set of ethics. In fact, the idea of journalistic ethics is an entirely new thing. The reporters in the 1920’s would have laughed themselves silly if someone scolded them about their ethics. The newspaper man was a carouser who lived rough and played rough. Until after World War II, being in the media was a working class job with the morality of carny folk.

It is this inability to think clearly about the past that has people like Taibbi confused about what’s happening in the media. Because what’s happening is new to him, he assumes it must be new. This cultural amnesia is also why the media started thinking of itself as a priesthood back in the 1960’s. The well-scrubbed college graduates from good families showing up in newsrooms just assumed it had always been a profession for beautiful people. After all, they had never experienced anything otherwise.

The fact is, the only thing different about the media today is the scale and the uniformity of opinion. In prior ages, both sides of the political class had their media, so there was competition. As the political class collapses into a monolith, the mass media is following in the same path. The difference between Fox News and CNN is quite small, once you get past the theatrics. Sean Hannity having an aneurysm over the latest attack on Trump is the flip side of Don Lemon squealing about Trump’s last tweet.

Probably the one real difference in the modern media compared to the past, is that we are saturated with it today. In the old days, communist countries would put up loudspeakers in the middle of small towns to broadcast propaganda. Today we have the internet, mobile phones and cable television. The agit-prop is everywhere and in the case of the internet, it is actively spying on us. Our rulers are now installing listening devises in our homes in order to make sure we are consuming the correct media products.

If you are over the age of 50, you recall a time when consuming mass media was something you did on the train to work or when you got home. There were morning papers and evening papers. The evening television news was an hour. First you had the local news then the national news. If you wanted to consume a discussion of public affairs, you did so on Sunday morning. Within living memory it was easy for a man to be completely free of politics and mass media. Today it is close to impossible.

What we are seeing today, in terms of media status, is probably just a return to the historic norm. Media companies are slashing their payrolls, because there’s no money in advocacy, at least not enough to warrant lavish salaries. More and more news is being reported by low paid kids and crafty independents with a specialty. Opinion writing is becoming a hobby again. The future of mass media is the past, where the business is to sell a point of view and live like carny folk on the fringes of society.

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Post-Modern Awakening

Religious awakenings or re-awakenings are common in human civilizations, particularly in the West. They manifest themselves in different ways, but the root is always a sense that society has lost its way and strayed from the moral path. When enough people come to this conclusion, a cascade preference begins and a mass movement forms to start the return to that moral path. It may be a restoration of the old faith or it can be the rise of a reform movement. Of course, it can also be the start of a new religion entirely.

Social cycle theory holds that a return to the old faith, maybe tuned for the age, is part of the end phase of society. The beliefs that were part of the young culture, but faded away in the middle age of the people, makes a comeback of sorts in the winter of the culture. It’s not nostalgia driving the revival, but a sense that the thing that inspired the best years of the people has been lost. The religious revival we have seen in the Islamic world is a good example. They are trying to recapture a lost golden age.

In the English speaking world, particularly America, another religious phenomenon has been observed. The Great Awakening was a series of Christian revivals that swept Britain and the colonies in the 18th century. It was the emergence of Anglo-American evangelicalism within the Protestant churches. While considered a singular event, historians have noted that America has undergone subsequent revivals, where a blend of strong social activism and religious revival sweep the nation.

An argument made here, from time to time, is that the spasms of Progressive activism we have seen over the last century are an extension of this cycle. The New Deal was more than just about political reform or addressing the economic crisis. After the war, a period of relative social harmony led to the great cultural upheavals of the 60’s and 70’s, which were clearly spiritual, as well as political. These were no longer explicitly Christian, but “Judeo-Christian”, reflecting the new composition of the elite.

These periods of social activism are described as revolutions, as if they are led by plucky outsiders trying to ignite change in a resistant society. In reality, these efforts, including the current spasm we are experiencing today, are top-down and within the ruling elite itself. If you look at these movements, going back to the Great Awakening, you see they are not led by outsiders. Instead, they were led by people of high status, who first sought to reform the top of society, then society as a whole.

The political face of the New Deal, for example, was the result of an intellectual competition within the ruling elite of America. It was argued between the radicals, who embraced ideas from the old world, versus those who embraced the uniquely American sense of social reform. If you go back and read the early Progressives, many salted their language with Christian references that only a believer could grasp. The Left became anti-Christian, but it has its roots in the 19th century evangelicalism.

The other side to these spasms of social reform and spiritual awakening is a militarism that sees itself as missionary work. America’s involvement in the Great War was due, in part, to Progressives like Theodore Roosevelt casting it as a moral duty. “Making the world safe for democracy” is not a practical goal. It is a religious aim. Similarly, the fight against fascism was seen and is still seen, as a moral crusade. Of course, the neoconservative effort to democratize the Muslim world was a spiritual crusade.

These spasms of religiosity, spiritualism and social activism, within the context of Christian belief, had some built in limits. Within the Christian context, utopianism could be avoided, as that contradicts Christian dogma. By the 20th century, however, American elites were losing their Christianity. The arrival of Jewish intellectuals in the early 20th accelerated the secularization of the elite. As a result, the Progressive spasm of the 60’s and the current one, was and is anti-Christian and utopian.

This lack of a limiting principle in the “new religion” of the ruling class, and that’s what multiculturalism is when you think about it, inevitably leads to excess. The 60’s ended with excessive drug taking, social unrest and pointless terrorism. This current spasm appears to be burning itself out in mindless self-destruction, assaults on reason and self-mutilation. The race to stake out the most extreme position leads to an embrace of increasingly self-destructive behaviors by the people leading the revival.

Getting back to social cycle theory, where Spengler and others may have gone wrong is in their scope. Perhaps what we are seeing in America with these revivals is the end of a cultural phase, rather than the culture as a whole. The New Deal era closed the door on the post-Civil War period. The cultural revolution of the 60’s closed the door on the New Deal consensus. This current spasm is closing the door on the New Left consensus that defined the late Cold War and post-Cold War period. This the end, not the beginning.

The question then is what comes next. There’s not much in the way of intellectual development, in terms of moral philosophy or political philosophy, on either side of the Progressive order. The liberals are mostly shrieking primitives, defending their privileges from anything they see as a threat. The conservatives are just a nostalgia cult, telling each other stories about Reagan and Bill Buckley. Their beloved principles are just a map to a room off to the side where they can reminisce about the old days.

Baring some revolution at the top, whatever comes next for America after this awakening is going to be external to it. Perhaps that is what we’re seeing with the various dissident movements percolating in the West. With the fading of the American empire, new ideas are springing up at home and abroad. At some point, a new moral framework will coalesce to challenge the brittle dying orthodoxy. Alternatively, maybe what comes next is a new dark age. Perhaps this Progressive spasm the last one before the lights go out.

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