Note: In a break from the grifter code, I am not going to assume the new merch is the greatest merch in history. Criticisms and suggestions are welcome. This is new ground for me, so I expect to be terrible at first and get better over time. Please shop here and leave a comment when you can. Also send feedback to me.
A topic that John Derbyshire and Peter Brimelow have discussed over the years is the cultural interregnum that existed in the late 1980’s and 1990’s. This was a topic raised in their talks at the inaugural VDare conference in Berkeley Springs. For a little more than a decade, starting toward the end of the Cold War and running through the Clinton years, certain taboo topics could be discussed in public. You could also take the rational position on these topics without being killed.
For example, Peter Brimelow published his book in immigration titled, Alien Nation: Common Sense About America’s Immigration Disaster. The book was an expansion of an exceptionally long essay he published in National Review. His essay criticizing immigration policy and warning about the cultural damage being done by it took up the majority of the space for that issue. National Review published an anti-immigration special edition and felt no need to grovel about it.
Around the same time, Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray published the The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life. Not only did they publish the book, but lots of people bought, read and discussed it. Those alive during this period probably recall that it was a popular topic of conversation. Murray was actually allowed on television to frankly discuss the findings. Again, mainstream conservatives did not ritually denounce the book.
These are two examples of where now taboo subjects were acceptable. During this interregnum, a wide range of topics and people were allowed to operate. Jared Taylor, the founder and leader of American Renaissance, was allowed on television to talk about his views. His conference was shown on C-SPAN. Here is an old clip of Sam Francis speaking at the conference. Notice the lack of fainting and hysterical demands for violence against the people in the clip.
Today it is hard to imagine what it must have been like to live in a country where people could openly debate the topics of the day. One of the only benefits of the communications revolution is that we now have easy access to archival video from the time before the crazies took over the public square. We know there was once a place where adults could speak freely about difficult topics. The past is a counter to the claims of the present and operates as a hope for the future.
That is the context in which Brimelow and Derbyshire usually discuss this. The 1990’s was a peak time for them and the older dissidents. It was not just the peak years of their personals careers, but a peak for honest inquiry. The end of the Cold War and the apparent transition back to normalcy was a hopeful time. Instead of everything organized around a twilight struggle against communism, the focus of public life could return to the practical and productive.
There are two questions at the heart of this. Why did this period of relative tolerance occur and is it possible to return to such a state? For two decades now the lights have been going out in America and the West. The former Soviet Union offers more political freedom, because they have clear rules. The public square in the West is now controlled by a feckless, emotionally unstable mob that flits from panic to panic, destroying whatever happens to be in its way.
The answer to the first question is rooted in the past. What appears to have been an interregnum was actually a continuation of the Cold War consensus. Maintaining a broad public debate was an essential part of opposing communism. The West was where people could question the state. The Soviet Union did not permit public debate or questioning the state. This consensus carried forward after the end of the Cold War but shifted to more relevant topics.
Note that the closing of the American mind started with the 2000 election. During the Clinton years both sides of the consensus had to search around for a reason to exist now that the communists were gone. One side settled on post-Marx culturalism and the other embraced neoconservatism. For the former side, white people and heritage America would be the enemy around which the ruling class would organize, while the other side wanted Islam to be the new enemy.
You will note that the neoconservatives have produced a new enemy now that post-Marx culturalism seems to be burning out. The Russia-China axis will be the new forever enemy around which America must be organized. The other side seems to be open to this new arrangement, perhaps sensing that their war on white people is becoming dangerous for themselves. On the other hand, nostalgia plays an enormous role in ruling class thinking.
The second question is more difficult to know. The Judeo-Puritan ruling class that still prevails is a product of the 20th century. Unlike in Russia, where the old Cold War ruling class was eventually replaced by a modern one, America and the West remains saddled with a ruling elite built for a prior age. The American ruling class is sure that it can only exist if America is organized around some great struggle. It is why for thirty years they have lurched from one crusade to the next.
On the other hand, reality eventually does prevail. America is now suffering a shortage of qualified people for high skilled jobs. It turns out that airplane pilots and engineers are not floating across the Rio Grande. It also turns out that the cost of racial vengeance is not only borne by the bad whites. Managerial class whites are now experiencing the consequences of their reckless misbehavior. This is no way to organize a society for a new cold war with old foes.
In the end though, the answer to the larger question that looms over all of this is that for America to become a normal society, it must acquire a normal elite. Again, Russia provides a useful example. The old communist elites were able to transition into a new system of rule by oligarch. The 1990’s was also an interregnum of sorts for America’s old Cold War foe. The end of that period brought about a return to normalcy with the rise of a new elite reflective of the new Russia.
This did not happen in America. The cost of winning the Cold War was the belief among the ruling class that they had no need to change. They were on the right side of history so the only rational answer was to push down on the accelerator. For thirty years America has been rocketing toward the glorious future with a generation at the wheel, high on Cold War success and cultural narcissism. Unlike Russia, America’s elite has never had to confront their limitations.
In the long run, the last twenty years may be seen as the slow painful death of the Cold War ruling elite’s legitimacy. This dark age in America and the West will be understood as the slow death of an old power structure. These spasms of illiberal authoritarianism are the death throes of an old system. From the rubble of elite legitimacy will rise a new elite and new cultural framework to support them. There will be a new elite for a new America and a new West.
If you like my work and wish to kick in a few bucks, you can buy me a beer. You can sign up for a SubscribeStar subscription and get some extra content. You can donate via PayPal. My crypto addresses are here for those who prefer that option. You can send gold bars to: Z Media LLC P.O. Box 432 Cockeysville, MD 21030-0432. Thank you for your support!
Promotions: We have a new addition to the list. Havamal Soap Works is the maker of natural, handmade soap and bath products. If you are looking to reduce the volume of man-made chemicals in your life, all-natural personal products are a good start. If you use this link you get 15% off of your purchase.
The good folks at Alaska Chaga are offering a ten percent discount to readers of this site. You just click on the this link and they take care of the rest. About a year ago they sent me some of their stuff. Up until that point, I had never heard of chaga, but I gave a try and it is very good. It is a tea, but it has a mild flavor. It’s autumn here in Lagos, so it is my daily beverage now.
Minter & Richter Designs makes high-quality, hand-made by one guy in Boston, titanium wedding rings for men and women and they are now offering readers a fifteen percent discount on purchases if you use this link. If you are headed to Boston, they are also offering my readers 20% off their 5-star rated Airbnb. Just email them directly to book at email@example.com.