The Marx Of America

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There are men who are remembered for what they did. There are men who are remembered for what they said. Then there are men who are remembered for who they have influenced or the chain events touched off by them. This last group is unique for the simple reason it is hard to say exactly why they are remembered. They are history’s version of the popular figure who is famous for being famous. One such example is the late philosopher, Leo Strauss.

That last sentence provides a clue as to why this mediocre philosopher and historian is a figure who looms large of contemporary politics. Serious students of philosophy take exception to calling Strauss a philosopher. Historians dismiss him outright. Students of Greek philosophy roll their eyes when they the man’s name. Even his followers will spend hours debating how to properly label the man. Despite this lack of distinction, Leo Strauss is an important figure in our politics.

For those looking for an accessible explainer on Leo Strauss and his work, Paul Gottfried’s book, Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America is a straight forward summary and analysis of the man and his work. For those looking for an even shorter introduction to the topic, here is a good review of the book. At the end of that review, the reviewer touches on the central question of Strauss. Why does this mediocre academic cast such a long shadow?

The main reason anyone talks about Strauss is that his followers have been central to American politics for half a century. His most famous acolyte was Harry Jaffa, who created the cult of Lincoln that still animates conventional conservatism. His reimagining of American history allowed contemporary conservatives to get to the left of their opponents on the issue of race. It is why the modern conservative cannot shut up about Abraham Lincoln. He is their get out jail free card.

That does not explain why we have lots of middlebrow intellectuals announcing themselves as Straussians rather than Jaffians. Modern conservatism owes far more to Jaffa than Strauss, but the conservative intellectual space is littered with people flying the flag of Leo Strauss. Additionally, there are flavors of Straussianism, as in the East Coast Straussians and the West Coast Straussians. What is so magical about this man that half a century after his death he still casts a shadow?

This is where Marx comes into the picture. Like Strauss, Marx was a mediocre intellectual, but he cast a huge shadow. There were many smart men working the communist and socialist circuits in the 19th century, many smarter and more reasonable than Marx, but it was Marx who towered over the rest. Despite having been wrong about pretty much everything, Karl Marx remains a respected thinker and philosopher on the Left.

One reason Marx rose above the rest was that he provided intellectual authority to the socialist movement. His theory of history turned a collection of moral preferences into scientific fact, which gave the believers an unquestionable authority upon which to base their economic and political claims. To this day we hear people on the so-called Left claim that they are on the right side of history. This means their opponents are on the wrong side of history, so they can be dismissed.

Similarly, the Straussian method provides the believer with a set of tools to instantly create the needed authority for their normative claims. Strauss taught that you must learn the true intent of a writer. The Straussian, of course, has the special skill to see through the esoteric writing of genuine philosophers, who out of necessity always cloak their real meaning from the casual reader. Strauss allows his followers to divine the real meaning of historical texts.

At first this does not sound like much, but it allowed Harry Jaffa to tease out the real thoughts of the Founders, which to that point had been called the Framers, because they wrote the text of the Constitution. Jaffa claimed that their real thoughts were contained in the Declaration. From that he could turn the Founders into Moses and Lincoln into Joshua. The former led his people out of bondage, but not into the Promised Land, while the latter completed the journey.

That is a clever trick, but as Gottfried noted, this was not simply for the amusement of bored intellectuals, but part of a political strategy. By casting Lincoln as the real founder of the American republic, conservatives, who were clustered in the Republican party, could claim him as their own. Not only does the “great emancipator” become a shield against the charge of racism, but he also becomes a license to turn egalitarianism and the blank slate into conservative principles.

That is a major appeal of Strauss. His method provides a set of tools for rhetorical combat within practical politics. The Straussian method allows the user to flit from one tine of Hume’s fork to the other. They can conflate those things that are axiomatically true with those things that are contingently true. Decorated with their own interpretations of Plato and Aristotle, gratuitous assertions become immutable fact. These tools let the users win the debate, rather than reveal important truths.

Probably the main appeal of Strauss is the same as for Marx. For the initiate, the system of thought provides a framework to answer every question. This in turn elevates the believer’s sense of self. When you are on the right side of history, you inevitably are filled with confidence. When you can divine the intent of the great minds and use this secret knowledge against your opponents, you become a god. The appeal in both cases is spiritual, not intellectual.

The comparison between Marx and Strauss works because of the people who were most attracted to the two men. The people who rallied to Marxism were not the urban proletariat, but the urban bourgeois intellectuals. Similarly, those rallying to Strauss are not highbrow political thinkers. His appeal is to the middlebrow bourgeois intellectuals that grow like a fungus on the modern age. Both provided a purpose to idle men without an obvious role in life.

Ideas have consequences and bad ideas have bad consequences. That should be the lesson of Marxism. Leo Strauss was a clever man, for sure, but his bad ideas have given us a half century of political agitation and subterfuge. One would think the embarrassing catastrophe that was the Bush presidency would have relegated Strauss and his followers to the dustbin of history, but when you are untethered from facts and reason, the facts never get in the way of your next argument.

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124 thoughts on “The Marx Of America

  1. When I think of the modern “philosophers” and their Conservatives, I tend to equate them to the Socialists. Someday no one will care about what they have to say for many people will literally be fighting for their lives someday in this country.

    I think what Idi Amin had to say will hold far greater say than anything our own homegrown mental pygmies ever had to say.

    My favorite Idi Amin quote is this: ” You cannot run faster than a bullet.”

  2. > …license to turn egalitarianism and the blank slate into conservative principles.

    Ironically, Lincoln was no blank-slater. He saw blacks as clearly different and was happy to see them go to Liberia or elsewhere. If Lincoln wrote for a normie outlet like National Review today, he’d be purged as Derb and Gottfried were.

    • If you want to get The Mental Philosophic Cloud People all fired up, here what I always say: It works every time, and it pisses off both Conservatives and The Woke:

      “Abe Lincoln was really a small and stupid man. If he had been smart, he would have never sat with his back towards an unlocked door.”

  3. For God’s sake, already. Do I really have to expend energy responding to ad hominem dreck? Strauss as the “American Marx?” “Serious students of philosophy take exception to calling Strauss a philosopher?” Name names, please.

    Strauss regarded himself as a scholar, not as a great philosopher. Marx, while far more brilliant than Z admits, was completely unlike the scholarly Strauss — Marx was an arrogant prick and a biased political advocate.

    The misunderstanding of Strauss here is breathtaking. What Strauss sought, above all else, was to restore Socratic intellectual discourse to political philosophy, which had been corrupted by crude Marxist (and then National Socialist) mass ideology.

    In so doing Strauss understood that the central problem for any political philosopher was to advance ideas and to question myths without getting himself killed by the believers in the myths, as Socrates had.

    Among other things, Strauss questioned the Hegelian/Marxist argument that history unfolds progressively. The ancient Greeks, who had no such belief, believed that philosophy was an ongoing and recurring and necessary enterprise for Man, who, as the only political animal, needs to discuss how to achieve the “good life” and what “justice” is. Strauss was willing to consider the possibility that a return to classical and ancient philosophy would be necessary in the course of rejecting the crude determinist ideology of historical progressivism.

    Strauss himself made no “Second Founding” thesis nor did he endorse any of the neoconservative warmongering that is wrongly attributed to him. As a Socratic scholar, Strauss was analytical (and skeptical) toward all types of political regimes. He preferred “liberal democracy” only insofar as it allowed the philosopher free speech. But he understood that illiberal mass democracy would crush the philosopher just as easily as any despotic regime. Thus, a mixed regime of sorts is likely the best. None of this is news to anyone who has read James Madison.

    Strauss was not explicitly egalitarian, aside from the fact that he believed that anyone capable of understanding the Platonic Forms and participating in Socratic dialogue might provide useful insight.

    Strauss’s teaching on the distinction between esoteric and exoteric writing is best understood by his discussion of Machiavelli. When Machiavelli says “It is better to be feared than loved,” is he flattering and agreeing with the prince — or is he subtly telling the perceptive reader what an asshole and a gangster the prince really is?

    Jaffa’s writing on the “Second Founding” and the cult of Lincoln has done a great deal of damage to Strauss’s scholarly work and insights. It is not even clear to me that the distinction between esoteric and exoteric writing even properly applies to the American founding at all.

    Any serious study of the racial question and the slavery question provides some rather definite proof that the Founders would have preferred to create a white nation, but had inherited both African slaves and the slave economy from the British, and had no idea how to resolve the problem after the revolution ended except by kicking the can down the road until it finally blew up in 1861.

    Yes, Strauss was a Jew, but not a particularly political or religious one. He was even-handed and scholarly enough in his study of the history of political philosophy to credit Christian philosophy where it was due — his understanding of natural right was highly influenced by Aquinas’s synthesis of Christianity and Aristotelianism. To ascribe to him the perfidy that some of this fellow Tribesmen have engaged in is a calumny.

    Anyone who truly wants to enrich his understanding of Western political philosophy is highly encouraged to purchase and read thoroughly “History of Political Philosophy,” the classic text edited by Strauss and Joseph Cropsey, ISBN 9780226777108.

    Like Socrates, you should always be willing to cut through the bullshit, ascertain the facts, and think for yourself.

    • I know very little about Strauss and therefore cannot offer an informed to response to the men, either X or Z. I can, however, state that X has written a lucid, cogent post that evinces a much deeper knowledge of Strauss than what Z wrote. I’ve got Strauss’ Persecution and the Art of Writing on my shelf. Perhaps it is time I finally read the dam’ thing.

    • Thanks for the counterpoint. I have not read Strauss but have heard about him a lot. I hope that our esteemed host responds to you.

      “Strauss’s teaching on the distinction between esoteric and exoteric writing is best understood by his discussion of Machiavelli.”

      I have read some Machiavelli with great benefit. Finally:

      “Like Socrates, you should always be willing to cut through the bullshit, ascertain the facts, and think for yourself.”

      If you really want to disorient yourself, read Nietzsche’s criticisms of Socrates.

    • I think Marx got his multitudes of Jewish fans on the basis of his polemical output and the fact he was Jewish. His underlying theory of sorts doesn’t seem directly appealing in an ethnic way, and it requires a lot of assumptions not in evidence and selective historical context to claim otherwise. To assert he was undertaking an insidiously Jew-centric program — as distinct from
      the post-hoc character of said program — is psycho-history, like deciphering screaming teen girls’ politics during Beatlemania from the rhyme scheme and meter of “A Hard Day’s Night”

      He had a more hardcore Zionist orientation than Marx but actually I have no idea what Strauss wrote about modern bourgeois Jews (not Maimonides) analytically; now *that* might make an interesting blog post, instead of the umpteenth “K-Mac” genre variation of deducing genetic social-engineering fervor, “group evolutionary strategy,” whatever it’s called these days. I don’t include the above post in that genre, rather it clearly is noble lie with esoteric writings about Afro-Atheno-Jerusalem invisible ink. Z Man is running the secret Aesopean code radio to the sleeper cells, I reckon

      • “[Marx’s] underlying theory of sorts doesn’t seem directly appealing in an ethnic way, and it requires a lot of assumptions not in evidence and selective historical context to claim otherwise. To assert he was undertaking an insidiously Jew-centric program… is psycho-history…”

        Excellent point, thank you for making it. Marx was raised a Lutheran and was racially Jewish, not culturally or religiously Jewish.

        In fact, Marx was quite critical of Jews and Judaism. From “On the Jewish Question”:

        “Let us consider the actual, worldly Jew – not the Sabbath Jew, as Bauer does, but the everyday Jew. Let us not look for the secret of the Jew in his religion, but let us look for the secret of his religion in the real Jew. What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money.

        …Emancipation from huckstering and money, consequently from practical, real Judaism, would be the self-emancipation of our time.

        …The social emancipation of the Jew is the emancipation of society from Judaism.”

        I suspect the Tribe was heavily involved in Marxism more because they were a racial outgroup in Tsarist Russia, and they saw Marxism as a way to literally get out of the Pale (and exact some retribution on the goyim) not because of any explicit ethnic appeal in Marx’s doctrine.

        In other words, Marxism was a means, not an end.

        • Jewish communists in Tsarist Russia were primarily organized around opposition to the Tsar. Communism was a means to an end for many of them. They ended up influencing Lenin a great deal, especially with regards to organizing.

    • “Strauss regarded himself as a scholar, not as a great philosopher”. then why discuss him at all?

      • Because he encouraged us to re-read and re-evaluate the great philosophers of the past that had been forgotten or dismissed by the ideologues of determinism and historical progressivism.

  4. Mid-century America suffered from an explosion of rabbinical cults.

    They ranged from the ridiculous (Objectivism) to the nauseating (Ginsberg-ism) to the sublime (Reichian Orgone-ism).

    Strauss’s clique is simply another one of these. Despite their pretentions, all share an ersatz quality common to all made-up bullshit.

    • You could probably even go earlier, with the Unitarians and their adoption of a bastard form of Hegelianism (1830s or so). That’s the order of the ridiculous “the arc of history bends toward justice” notion which was the fuel of the abolitionist engine and remains the essence of the “american creed,” both “right” and “left.” The American Puritans had their problems, but the problem is less them than their descendants who replaced Christ. inherent to which is an idea of sin and limits, with “History,” which countenances neither.

  5. There is a book that explains this whole tribe of “philosophers”. Kevin MacDonald wrote “The Culture of Critique” in 1998.

  6. What is the essential benefit of esoteric critique?

    I am persuaded by today’s posting that Strauss is a menace to society by virtue of his impact on weak-minded conservative shills and grifters. But what is the usefulness of this revelation? It’s largely preaching to the choir here on the Zman blog, and even if it somehow influences the thinking a few souls on the political margin, it’s unlikely to change the course of politics anytime soon. And even if you managed to start a grassroots movement of new dissident voters, the “fortified for democracy” strategy makes voting meaningless. That is the reality that won’t go away with wishful thinking.

    Bongino has a huge audience and preaches voting harder-harder to the masses, which is the equivalent of asking all the passengers of the Titanic to go below deck, grab a pot from the galley, and start bailing furiously. His impact is far greater and more tangible than the Strauss/Jaffa effect on the few egghead voters out there.

    Why can’t we apply available brainpower to real solutions of solvable problems?

    • What do you consider a problem that is solvable under the currently prevailing rules?

      Please note, I’m not trying to flame or challenge you. But I am of the opinion that it’s important to understand the “philosophical” and historical origins of our current woes. For me — and I think for our esteemed host, too, but I don’t want to put words into his mouth — it began with Lincoln, who saw himself as a sort of rustic Napoleon or Bismarck (see the Lyceum speech) This was compounded by Jaffaism, which as Paul Gottfried pointed out and Z highlighted in this excellent essay, is more a political program or set of political tools. You lure all those Based Black Men over to your side because Dems are the Real Rayciss/We the Party of Lincoln; it also supports “free markets,” meaning corporatism, and endless war, which is good for the defense industry and donors there.

      I would like to think that people are increasingly seeing through the scam/fraud/degeneracy that is Lincolnite America. So I think it’s always important to discuss its origins, for the sake of people who are gradually coming around to our way of seeing things. One of the best things we can do at this point, I believe, is educate. The GOPe/Civnat cuck-a-doodle-dos are wrong; here is why they are wrong; here’s where the wrongness began; here is how to argue against it; here’s why to avoid anyone blathering about Muh Lincoln.

      I was at a guy’s house the other day; he’s about my age, did well in lil and gas and took early retirement. He had some nice Mort Kunstler prints of Confederate soldiers on his wall. We got to talking, and he said that while he respected the South, he still thought that Lincoln carried through a “necessary” further “revolution.”

      Nice guy, but totally cucked out. there is a lot to do in terms of breaking that conditioning, and as people drift in our direction, we have to repeat these things.

      My two cents, at least.

    • Because it’s at the intellectual levels where policy is developed. The Heritage Foundation, the National Review….all know about Strauss and Jaffa, heck even your local high school history teacher is at this moment teaching a class where Lincoln is the man who attempted to correct the flaws in the founding of this nation.
      Strauss and his disciples have deep seated remnants in our culture.
      We must have an intellectual class that can argue these points and build our own think tanks to counter it.

      • In a fortified democracy, even a “mainstream” conservative think tank’s highest aspiration is…….. pretty low. A dissident think tank isn’t even acknowledged (by the regime) to exist.

        But at least some folks with fancy sounding degrees can get paid six figures to write policy papers and appear on talk shows. So I guess it’s good for the economy. Somebody’s economy.

        • Hi Jeffery Zoar –

          I think your impulse to do things that are practical and meaningful is great. I think one of the respondents to your point about needing an intellectual component to our movement is also correct.

          I think what needs to happen is that we need action in all spheres. Ideally it is a good balance of coordinated but also distributed. If you have specific things that you think need to be done in the realm of practical, concrete actions then step up, organize and get those things in motion.

          We all have something to offer and where our passions and interests lie are what we should follow for ourselves. ZMan is tirelessly prolific and what he is doing is important. I fully agree with you that we need action – a lot of it. ZMan has some good back catalog podcasts that talk about things to consider and do when organizing yourself and others for meaningful action. I don’t remember the episodes, but they may be of help for someone of your inclination.

          Go for it and make a great contribution. There is a green field out there for all of us to shape.

          • Dissident schmissident. Real conservatism will make manifest out of the blood and ashes after the screens go blank. Triumph of biology. Yeah, kinda trolling here, but look around…

      • Policy development only matters if you can get your hand on the tiller of government. Trump is the closest thing we’ve seen to an Azimov “mule” president, and he was thwarted by the Deep State at nearly every turn.

        The problem with believing in the pipe dream of electing a messiah president who will save us with new policies is that the odds of success are minuscule and getting worse with each new million illegal aliens crossing the border. In addition, all the wasted effort spent rallying the vote-harder electorate takes away resources that could be directed at solving the core problem. Putin is similarly under attack from the US Deep State and he has responded by directing his military to expand its ranks from 1 million to 1.5 million men in arms. Methinks his approach will be much more effective than community organizing efforts geared toward expanding the voter base.

    • It’s not really either/or, is it? Some are better at the esoteric critiquing, others at the more pragmatic issues of the day.

      Let a hundred flowers bloom.

      • Yeah, but skill at esoteric critique is of little value when lead and shrapnel are flying about. Ukraine’s military is now losing about a 1,000 men per day; and those husbands, fathers, and sons will be sorely missed and largely irreplaceable when the war is over. No amount of fancy words are going to fix that.

        • And with this post, you’ve answered your own question.

          The lead & shrapnel have NOT started flying yet, so we have copious free time to waste on history and thought exercises.

          We are halfway between the ballot box and the ammo box unfortunately. And to be 100% honest, there are many other places for more pragmatic talk. This is not and never has been that forum.

          There are lots of eggheads, deep thinkers, and smart people here. Far more well read and intelligent than probably you & I, who I think skew more towards a nice balance of intellectual horsepower and a propensity for righteous violence***. We are not needed just yet, but when the wheels come off, men of that stripe will naturally rise to the top rapidly as has always been the case.

          In the meantime, I listen to the smart people chit-chat since I can’t start collecting skulls just yet… As I said, if you want something more edgy there are lots of places for that besides here.

          ***No actual people were threatened or harmed in the writing of this post. How’s the weather in Quantico?

  7. “These tools let the users win the debate, rather than reveal important truths.” I suppose the debate in question is the internal debate among conservatives/the-right/… Then there is the issue of winning the political war.

    I vaguely remember many of the Paul/Rockwell/DiLorenzo critiques of Strauss from the War on Terror days. I haven’t heard the critique of the second founding and its massive failings so clearly described as they have been in yesterday and today’s posts. Even DiLorenzo tries to de-legitimize Lincoln because he was racist.

    If the Straussians did manage to make Lincoln the great champion of egalitarianism that was a massive trick. It implicates more than the Straussians though, it implicates the entire culture that created for itself a climate of denial and dishonesty that made practical problem solving impossible.

    We have entered into an interesting time period. The goings on in California, the ongoing crime wave and the fortification of elections which may fortify urban lawlessness and its territorial expansion may someday make people wonder if the way the post-antebellum South was organized was done so for a good reason. When we were a majority an albatross population was our problem. As demographics shift it is going to be the problem of the new majority.

    There is a part of me that wonders if they are going to be far more brutal in dealing with reality than Anglo-American Christian culture ever was. Speaking of reality, it has been years since I watched television. I didn’t watch it per se on the holiday but games were on at various locations. It is impossible not to sweep the lightbox with your eyes and when the commercials emerge … Wow! It is a near complete replacement. The exact same feel good wholesome imagery with a totally different people inserted as the actors. It is astonishing.

    It brought to mind the Havel essay that was referenced yesterday that discusses how reality is substituted in totalitarian regimes. In finance capitalism the grocer’s window sign has been replaced with Madison Ave’s casting requirements. It is truly stunning. I suppose when you martyr a violent thug with a lie a lot of make pretend is required to convince people of things that may be true as outliers, but as the norm, are patently false.

    • i am very curious if these new style ads are harming the brands using them? i never watch anything with ads, so i don’t get exposed to them, but i know they are widespread (and see their online brethren sometimes). i read yesterday that media companies have lost $500B in value so maybe the nig-ads are harming the companies paying for them?

      • And yet, this is what we’re going to get from here on out. There’s a great deal of truth to the saying “once you go black, you’ll never go back.” Every aspect of culture that becomes Africanized remains locked into that paradigm. Sportsball is a prime example. Popular music hasn’t enjoyed a revolutionary moment since 1991; if you ain’t beating on a hollow log and chanting, you’re not getting the major label push. And if you think Madison Avenue will once again depict white men as anything other than incompetent, cucked, lickspittles, you’re mistaken. Negroes are the new master race and you will forever be reminded of this on the Talmudvision.

      • The 3rd world-ization of air travel in America forced me to drive 1/3 across the country to get to family for Christmas on an ad-hoc car rental that I was lucky to get. Billboards in ethno states are fully vibrational. It points out how everything is centralized. The Hive said, this is the new image that must be portrayed, and the entire industry selected for the advertisers the images on the ads.

        One thought I had was that there is probably a huge opportunity for our people to start advertising platforms that serve images and clips that come from our people who hire the now forever unemployed models and actors for the images. The debt financed corporate monoliths won’t use it, but small and mid-sized businesses would have that option and I bet that would be a big success. Provide the images for billboards, local ads, and internet ads and even a custom ad design platform for them.

        I think it could do very well. Clearly the images are centrally sourced from some subdivision of Mordor. I think a parallel industry could rise up that could be a platform for the entire European and Anglosphere world. Food for thought. Someone who understands how the industry currently works could help see if this is viable. I suspect there is some good money to be made there.

        • Shutting down commercial air travel is a key part of the Great Reset.

          I’ve been ill so I rewatched The Lord of the Rings. Even boiled down from the books, there are still a lot of subtexts in the films regarding the evils of industrialization and life in a dying society and world.

        • I’ve been reading a lot of the posts here today and it seems that regardless of people disagreeing about Strauss there’s agreement that we need action more than words.

          The action in question being things of a counter-cultural variety (sorry Agent Smith). This idea about alt-ads of yours in one example. I’ve been toying with setting up a sort of “dissident practical exchange” website. The idea is a bit vague but essentially a place to share practical skills and engage in barter.

          I’m going to need ideas about keeping the thing simultaneously on the down low so I can still find work in Cucktopia but not so down low that no one ever knows about it. I’m aware of Tor but quite honestly, I’m not sure the extra hassle of setting up a Tor site is justified. Supposedly the intelligence agencies own a lot of the nodes anyway. I’d say my main concern with a website would be finding a registrar I could (mostly) trust to keep the “secret” registrations actually secret and a hosting provider who doesn’t enforce wokist policies on content.

          • I once looked at contributing to Tor. Their community policy is as Cult of Woke oriented as any Big Tech firm. I do think the nodes are owned.

            I think you should pursue your idea. Sharing practical skills and bartering won’t get you banned from Cucktopia. Another approach might be a blockchain based P2P network for organizing with a physical world requirement. Say, time on the network is dependent upon time spent sharing skills and knowledge in real life. Just riffing a bit on that one.

          • Speaking of Jaffa, check in with the New Founding guys who are working on establishing the one-app blockchain protocol. Not sure where they are at, but it could be an option and you might find some community there too.

            Civnats and we may not agree on everything but we all agree the clock is ticking on building out our alternatives.

    • …may someday real soon make people wonder if the way the post-antebellum South was organized was done so for a good reason.

    • “The goings on in California, the ongoing crime wave and the fortification of elections which may fortify urban lawlessness and its territorial expansion may someday make people wonder if the way the post-antebellum South was organized was done so for a good reason.”

      There was absolutely a good reason. White people in the South had lived among blacks their entire lives. Contrary to modern popular opinion, they did not hate them. They just recognized that black culture and white culture where very different and that the races where both more comfortable living separately.

      I know this because both of my parents grew up in the South during that period. My father worked with blacks in the local cotton seed oil mill and the ice plant when he was young. He found blacks to be naturally funny and enjoyed working with them.

      His hunting buddy was an older black man named Burt who lived in a small cabin with his wife out in the woods. They would go coon hunting at night with their Redbone Coonhounds on a regular basis. Dad took my brother and me out to meet Burt when we were young kids. He was a great old guy.

      Dad was the quarterback on the white high school football team and he was good friends with the quarterback on the black team. In fact, the black quarterback went on to play in the old AFL heard my dad was in town on leave from the military and made a point to go by his mother’s house to visit him.

      Black crime against whites was virtually non-existent. Blacks knew what the consequences would be if they engaged in the type of behavior that is common today.

      Bottom line, is that both races preferred to live and attend school separately. But there wasn’t the hate that there is now. That didn’t start until ((northerners))) came down and started stirring up trouble during the so-called “Civil Rights Period.”

      • Excellent post. As much as I bang on about them, I don’t resent the ones here in the south. It’s still pretty copacetic where I am.

  8. Perhaps this helps explain the shift from public debate to propaganda campaigns. Everyone with a public microphone feels unencumbered by facts or logic and free to advocate, even if it means having to tell nothing but lies or illogical leaps of reasoning. A recent example is how the last week’s weather events is not just a winter storm but one rung on the ladder to climate catastrophe. Or how every election is the most important ever and will make or break the Republic.

    • And if you question “climate change” based on facts and reasoning, even pointing to other examples of extreme weather many years ago, you’re an evil planet hater and want everyone to die. That being said, if you contest the desire for nuclear war with Russia, you’re a racist demon who hates “democracy”.

  9. If you’re a real sucker for punishment, but wish to understand the tortuous logic that the Jaffa/Lincoiln cult uses to make its claims) might I recommend “The Soul of Politics: Henry V Jaffa and the Fight for America” by 32nd degree Grand Magus Jaffa culktist Glenn Ellmers (Jaffaites are big on “soul,” eg the execrable Victor Davis Hanson and “The Soul of Battle,” which is one long fellate[sic?] of the likes of Sherman). The Ellmers book painful to read, all sorts of endearing anecdotes about Jaffa (he liked to entertain Leo Strauss by scraping away on a violin, eg) and a philosophical train wreck, but if you’re able to get through it, then you will completely understand how civnats/cucks/GOPe (the ridiculous Glenn Reynolds is my personal poster-mutant for these types) manage to combine warmongery, worship of Israel, endless quest for the Based Black Man and reverence for Muh Constitution with a stunning lack of self-consciousness and inability to see what’s in front of their noses.

    Anyway, I think the basic Strauss/Jaffa notion — that various eminent nen from the Greeks to the “Founders” larded their writings with little ideological nuggets awaiting a Lincoln to discover and implement them — has to be among the most retarded ideas in the history of stupidity. When you step back and think about the idea in the abstract, it’s hard to believe that anyone could subscribe to such idiocy, but that’s “america” for you.

    • In my book anyone who worships Lincoln is automatically not worthy of respect, attention or anything favorable. I’m Southern so I may be prejudiced but Lincoln is the worst person, not just president, ever. With the blood of over a million on his hands he deserves our hatred and contempt. If someone screwed up and gave me power, my first act would be to level the Lincoln Memorial.

      • Couldn’t agree more. I’m also a Southerner, but that aside, anyone who makes claims that Lincoln was in any, way, shape or form a “conservative” should not be taken seriously and, indeed, should be treated with contempt. One cannot but note that the GOPe and the “left” tumble over each other trying to prove who can most idolize that vile orangutan. Jon Meachan and Brian Kilmeade come to mind, but there are countless others

      • To anyone who’s anything like an American conservative/libertarian/etc., Southern or otherwise, the worst Presidents are obvious. It’s those who most deformed the government away from its Constitutional shape and sent the most Americans to their deaths. So Lincoln is on the podium with FDR and Wilson.

        To blind the normie right to such an obvious thing requires a “Satanic inversion” (or esoteric reading or whatever) of the presidency, the invention of a higher purpose for it than the Constitution and Americans’ lives. For Wilson it’s Democracy/internationalism, for FDR Democracy/Jewry, and for Lincoln Democracy/Black Lives™. Democracy being a rhetorical constant, it doesn’t really count or mean anything. The rest are made objects of worship / altars of sacrifice.

        It’s a neat trick.

  10. When a fellow dissident recommends a book, I immediately go to Amazon to get the Kindle version. Not so this time. $11 to RENT? $22 to buy? Outrageous. I’m an author, too, so I understand the need to profit, but I wonder how much Gottfried is getting and how much o the motivation is simply Cambridge University Press getting greedy.

    • Paul has no control of the prices. It probably has more to do with the publisher than anything else. Academic publishers tend to be small so their costs are higher.

    • There was a time where publishers added value to a book. In the old days, even I remember they took an author’s manuscript, proofed it, sometimes made suggestions for improvement of content, typeset it, printed it and distributed it through a network they developed of resellers. For all this, the author always got a ridiculously minor percentage of the profit on the sale of their efforts. For example, a dollar or two on a $20 dollar text (this experience refer’s academic use books. I am less familiar with popular literature).

      Today with the advent and maturity of the Internet and freely available word processing software, they do none of that. They are simply disposable middlemen—and worse, in the case of school textbooks—keepers/promoters of wokism in the public school system who will “design” their textbooks as required by State review committees.

      • There was a court case recently against one of the larger publishers. In discovery it was revealed that only a tiny percentage of books sell more than their first run. I think it was 90% sell fewer than 1,000 copies. Pareto would be proud.

        That said, the best sellers underwrite the rest of the catalogue, so as the profits for the best sellers decline, the price of everything else rises to reflect the true cost of publishing.

        • very true. I’ve written two books for academic presses (Univ of Delaware, Praeger Security International) and even though we’re told to aim for the general reader, the primary paying customers are libraries….that explains the 1K to 1.5K initial press run.

      • “There was a time where publishers added value to a book.”

        Publishers like Cambridge, Oxford, and Springer (Germany) still do. The problem is that any particular title is not going to sell well — usually under 2,000 copies, which includes sales to university libraries. The print run is small and the price higher than a hardback bestseller. There’s no other way for these academic publishers. On the other hand I’m aware of publishers who are charging over $300 for a calculus text and where the author has become a millionaire from his royalties.

    • You aren’t missing anything. I found it in a bin in a local second-hand shop. Z-man covered the most important bits of the 200 or so pages in a few sentences. In a lot of ways, Straussianism has no more heft than Buckleyite conservatism. Yelling “Stop” isn’t much of a principle. More than projecting your own prejudices into another’s work? Tough call.

    • Always search on the title and the author and the various ISBN numbers [ISBN-10 & ISBN-13] at both Alibris and eBay.

      You can even try the marketplaces at Books-A-Million & Barnes-N-Noble.

      If you look around, you can often find yuge deals.

      PS: Note that ABEbooks is ackshually (((ABEbooks))).

      Of course, eBay is ackshually (((eBay))), and so forth and so on…

      But Alibris tends to be very Mom-N-Pop-ish.

  11. As usual, there’s an underlying personal reason that people gravitate toward a certain philosophical theory. Anton is no different.

    Anton makes abundantly clear in the piece linked below that he adopts the “natural rights” position because he’s not ethnically Anglo-Saxon. For him to accept that natural rights are natural to a certain people at a certain time would exclude him, so he says that the Founder’s natural rights are natural to all people at all times.

    Here’s Anton:

    “The natural right standard is both more integral to America—just read what the founders said and wrote—and more appealing to those who, like Gottfried and me, can trace no lineage to the Anglo tradition.”

    Anton’s notes that God-given natural rights is something many Americans can rally around or, if America collapses, a sub-set of future Americans. Again, a proposition nation.

    As always, it comes down to the simple question: Who are your people?

    Anton can’t answer that. He’s says that his people are those who believe in American values, but that’s not a people, it’s a club.

    Steve Sailer does a similar thing. Since he can’t say who are his people, he clings to his convoluted Citizenism, which is HBD-aware but colorblind Civic Nationalism. Citizenism implies that, yes, there are group differences but that within each group, there are certain members who, due to luck of the bell curve, are basically Anglo-Saxon in IQ, temperament and what values they desire.

    Regardless, Anton’s natural rights proposition is doomed to fail. A nation build on words rather than blood is always open to interpretation. It’s also always a juicy target for clever wordsmiths and groups that are willing to work as a group to take advantage of those who believe their constitution will protect them.

    In the end, Strauss seems to be a man that some use to avoid reality and others use to crush their their opponents. Anton is the former; neocons are latter.

      • Actually, I was too harsh on Anton in saying that he’s using natural rights as a way to hide. He’s also pretty open about expecting the US to break apart at some point. He seems to be getting things ready for what comes next.

        But he wants to base some semi-autonomous region on colorblind civic nationalism. The region would demand that it’s policies are based on these natural rights.

        Anton doesn’t address why he thinks this would work in this new region when it’s utterly failed for the past 50 years in the US. Sailer’s Citizenism has the same flaw.

        • They’ve been trying to write themselves into our history and people for quite a while. All it really accomplished was diluting our culture and people.

          • The fatal flaw of colorblind civic nationalism is that it has no moral reason to exclude anyone.

            If everyone possesses these natural rights, how to do you exclude would-be immigrants from your country that’s built on those universal rights. They are just as “American” or whatever name you call your country as the current citizens.

            Anton tries to square that circle here:

            “Do would-be immigrants have a “right” to come here? I assume Gottfried would agree with me that they do not. Why not? I would say: because America is a regime, constituted by a sovereign people, who instituted and now maintain their government via a social compact. Gottfried’s ancestors, and mine, were admitted to that compact by the consent of its existing members. I believe that, right now, it is unwise to admit new members. I would like the sovereign American people—the currently existing members—to limit immigration via the political institutions they (ostensibly) control.”

            It’s literally Sailer’s Citizenism. But just as with Citizenism, it suffers from a number of flaws.

            1. It’s failed for 50 years.

            2. It asked that citizens of all races and religions show more loyalty to their non-kin fellow citizens than to non-citizen kin. That assumes that non-whites will act like whites, which denies the reality of race.

            3. It lacks a moral reason for excluding these immigrants. Why limit immigration? Anton would likely argue that we need time to get recent immigrants to fully embrace our colorblind civic nationalism. But if these natural rights are universal, shouldn’t everyone adopt them immediately.

            If these natural rights are reality, why do we even have to teach people about them in the first place. Indeed, why isn’t every society already based on these natural rights?

            Anton denial of racial realities causes him to say obviously silly things, just as it does with Sailer.

          • Citizen: Dude, you’re on a roll. I hope that your thoughts are preserved and sharpened in a manuscript.

          • CoaSC –

            ” Anton would likely argue that we need time to get recent immigrants to fully embrace our colorblind civic nationalism. But if these natural rights are universal, shouldn’t everyone adopt them immediately.”

            Nice comment. I think someone should ask Anton why this would work when an entire subgroup has not and seems to have no intention of ever doing this despite 70+ years of favors, concessions, handouts, self immolation as apology … …

            He is also effectively proposing swearing an ideological oath as the basis for membership in this propositional nation. This notion of mass immigration is absurd. Even much smaller but still large immigrant arrivals, would require having a staging area – a sort of neutral proving ground zone – for potential inductees to prove over the course of 10 years that they behave properly and should be permitted entry. Ceding territory like this for this purpose is silly.

            I think we need to find a way to push someone like Anton into taking a position on Israel and its ethnic and immigration and deportation policies. Hold their policy as our ideal and force them to either support our desire/right as equally valid as Israel’s, or assert that nobody, including Israel, has the right to territorial sovereignty for an ethnos. That in turn would put the unbending strong advocates form me but not for thee in a very interesting position.

          • I would argue that even if you acknowledge natural rights, you still have a moral reason to exclude outsiders.

            We may all be equal in the eyes of the Lord (or Zog, take your pick), but our relationships to each other are not equal. While your wife and kids may have equal value to my wife and kids, my obligation to my wife and kids has moral priority over my obligation to your wife and kids.

            Likewise, the claims of the citizens of a nation has moral priority of the claims of non-citizens.

            Even if you buy the proposition that all men are created equal, that doesn’t necessarily mean your obligations to all of them are equal. That would obviously be an unworkable proposition.

          • Bruno,

            That’s pretty much Anton and Sailer’s proposition. They say that current citizens own more loyalty to non-citizens and should judge immigration decisions on what’s best for current citizens, not the potential immigrant.

            In essence, you would only let in immigrants who will make the lives of current citizens better, presumably all of their lives and not just the wealthy.

            But, again, this is laughable in a multi-racial society because it assumes that current citizens of all races will show more loyalty to people holding a piece of paper saying “Citizen” than they do to their own extended family who live outside of the country.

            Citizenism might work in a country that’s 90% one ethnic group and where the would-be immigrants are also of that ethnic group. This would negate the ethnic loyalty part – at least assuming the would-be immigrants aren’t starving or something.

            But since we don’t have that, it’s a mute point.

            Colorblind Citizenism fails morally (you should show more loyalty to your kin than to your non-kin) and from a game theory perspective (working as a group always beats individuals who don’t work together).

            Sailer and Anton are living in a ridiculous fantasy world because they personally find ethnic loyalty distasteful. It makes them argue laughably stupid positions.

          • The problem there is where Sailer and Anton are placing their priorities, not in the concept of priority itself.

            They’re starting with “citizenship”, basically an artificial construction with vague boundaries , and using that for the basis for establishing priority.

            If you start with a more organic priority, such as “family”, “community”, “ethnicity” and work outwards from there, you end up with a very result.

          • Anton: “Gottfried’s ancestors, and mine, were admitted to that compact by the consent of its existing members.”

            It’s unclear that the consent of its (then) existing members was ever consulted in the first place. What was somewhat mitigated in the past by the sheer capacity of the existing nation to absorb new members in its territory is increasingly untenable.

          • @citizen I agree. It all starts with who is one of “us” and it cannot be expanded to the whole world. What it means to be “us” is more than could ever be bestowed by a pledge or a piece of paper.

    • Close, but blood is also not enough. The real nub is selecting the individual compatible with high trust society. Most people today, of every race, are not. There needs to be some utterly ruthless way of removing low-trust individuals from your society if you want to have a high-trust society. Note, I did not say “nation”. I doubt that is desirable. I also did not say “citizen”, same reason, at the very least, that citizenship is generally understood to be heritable. Yet the “shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves” phenomenon is familiar to all, and the later generations should have been excised before they destroyed all of grandpa’s wealth.

      The best that can be said of race realism is it gives a starting point for deselecting low-trust individuals. I agree it’s probably the best we have at the moment, but that tells me we need to figure out some better way of figuring out which are the deadbeats, and develop the backbone to kick them to the curb.

      • A test like you propose would be helpful but such tests are unworkable on a large scale. Instead, we have to really on less precise heuristics, like race and sex.

        This is why women shouldn’t be allowed to vote, for example. While I have no doubt that there is at least one woman who can cast a wiser vote than me I also have no doubt that most women have trouble thinking objectively and are more conformist than men. Maybe someday we can devise a test that we can administer on a society-wide scale to decide for each individual but until then we must go with more crude heuristics.

      • The test exists when you have a society that enforces self sufficiency and self reliance. You create incentives and severe consequences for free riding. This includes when free riders turn to crime you have harsh punishment.

        The Welfare State removed that test. The Ponzi Financialized State that followed is even worse because it enables a sizable class of people with private sector jobs who are not just free riders, but net detractors given their job is to subvert and undermine civilization.

        • I understand the appeal of the “live and let die” of minimal government. I feel it a bit myself but most white people don’t want, for example, an old woman to die in the street because she didn’t understand the complexities of her health insurance and wasn’t covered for the medical treatments that she needed for her illness that bankrupted her.

          Most of the white people who build civilization don’t want what you propose. Most productive white people want Nordic-style socialism although they have been shamed out of asking for it by name.

      • This reminded me of the Hoppe piece “On Free Immigration and Forced Integration” which states:
        “For the same reason, a democratic ruler, quite unlike a king, undertakes little to actively expel those people whose presence within the country constitutes a negative externality (human trash, which drives individual property values down). In fact, such negative externalities – unproductive parasites, bums, and criminals – are likely to be his most reliable supporters.”

  12. A far more interesting and insightful thinker of political theory and history is Eric Voegelin. He’s probably too dense of a writer to become popular though.

    • Couldn’t agree more. “The New Science of Politics,” while dense, is a great place to start. Volume V of the Complete Works is called “Modernity Without Restraint” and contains The New Science of Politics, The Political Religions, and Science, Politics and Gnosticism. if you have to buy just one Voegelin book, that’s probably the one.

      He is one of those academics that Germany used to churn out in such abundance – he had read everything, most of it in the original language. His lectures on the history of political philosophy have been published as part of the “Complete Works” over four or five volumes. it’s well worth your time and money. His magnum opus is “Order and History.” His volumes on Plato and Aristotle and the Greek polis put Strauss and his clownish followers in complete and utter shame.

  13. Have never understood this conservative/Republican fascination/fetish for A. Lincoln. An atrocious president who – IMHO – helped set up the tyrannical state now unfolding before our eyes. He mobilized the Army & sent it south to shoot up & destroy private property & force the southern states back into the Union @ the point of a bayonet. Under The Articles of Confederation, the South had the right to secede. Slavery is a totally separate issue; Lincoln- in a cynical move – framed that argument masterfully by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, thereby keeping France & Britain out of the war on the side of the South.

    Moreover, Lincoln suspended The Writ of Habeas Corpus & considered arresting the Chief Justice of the SC…

    …& Republicans celebrate this guy?

    • ” His reimagining of American history allowed contemporary conservatives to get to the left of their opponents on the issue of race. It is why the modern conservative cannot shut up about Abraham Lincoln. He is their get out jail free card.”

      • Lincoln a get out of jail free card. That’s rich. He wanted to ship them all back to Africa. Then John Wilkes Booth interfered.

        One of the reasons we are in the shape we’re in is because the Civil War is taught in schools as solely a war over slavery, with Saint Abe unlocking the chains. Tenth amendment issues, tariffs, industrial vs. agrarian interests – never a peep out of anyone about those aspects of the War of Northern Aggression. The victors (corporate Republicans, the real Republicans – Taft, Goldwater, and Reagan provided cover) did indeed write the history. Thomas DiLorenzo and others have attempted to enlighten us, but the Cult of Lincoln makes that an uphill endeavor.

    • As Some Guy says, Republicans embrace of Lincoln started after the Left grabbed the high ground on race. As soon as Republicans became terrified of being called racist, they adopted Lincoln as their standard bearer so that they could claim that they were the original saviors of blacks and of desiring a colorblind society.

      The fact that Lincoln did all the things you mentioned and was openly disdainful of blacks didn’t matter.

      • Exactly. Had Lincoln framed the war in 1861 as a war of slave liberation he would’ve had a riot – or worse – on his hands. Outside of the die hard Abolitionists it’s my understanding no white man would’ve laid down his life for a black one. The whole Federal Army would have revolted most likely. He had to frame it as a war to save the Union & slide in the Emancipation Proclamation thru the side side door when the time was right. And again, he only did that to forestall France & Britain entering the war of the side of the Confederacy.

        Must admit – masterfully done politically.

      • It way predated Civil Rights. My grandmother was indoctrinated into Lincoln idolatry, and she was born in 1900. I think a fair case can be made that they repurposed an already existing belief, but not more.

        • How much of the Lincoln mythology was cooked up in the late 19th century in an attempt to provide a narrative to be used in solidifying the Imperial Capital’s new hammerlock on the States?

    • I still don’t get the rift over good old Abe. In lieu of a specific clause in the Constitution directly permitting secession or outlining an orderly process for such, he resorted to decision by force. South lost the decision.

      Folks don’t like this, I don’t like this, but is it really hard to understand and accept? Lincoln was just the first to jump the ship. An end justifies the means sort of fellow. We’ve had a long line of them—and here we are today.

      The real question is that *if* we ever get a second chance at a new “founding” how do we prevent Lincoln II? Man’s innate nature is the issue.

      • You won’t prevent a Lincoln. I’d suggest that you change tactics.

        Don’t fight an opponent in a way that favors their strengths. Slowly break away. Use peaceful non-compliance when possible. Use low-level violence – which prompts an over-reaction and waste of resources from the other side – when needed.

        Force the other side to choose between genocide and withdrawal. You’ll win either way because the minute they choose genocide, every man, woman and child will take up arms. In addition, the population on the other side won’t back such an extreme strategy from their leaders.

        • Agree, but I was thinking about the aftermath of a successful breaking away and *our* reorganization into a new society. True, this is counting chickens before hatching, but comes to mind in my thoughts.

          If we or our children are ever successful in our secession, how do *we* reorganize and govern ourselves in light of our prior “bad” experience with the present form of self government.

          The South for example, gave this little thought (I profess no expertise here) and as near as I can tell simply formed a governmental mirror image of the government they broke from. Perhaps they had other thoughts in mind when the issue of secession was settled. I don’t know.

          But I do know that men are a variable lot wrt virtue and power over others. This is inherently recognized by the repeated comments we see in this group regarding appeal in all tings to a “higher power” (God) in the hope of controlling such tendencies.

          • I think a good start would be to look closely at both the Articles of Confederation and the Confederate Constitution. The former for the ideas of unanimous consent, no taxing power, and strict federalism, the latter for ideas on how to fix the holes the weasels found in the first 80 years.

            To that, you need to add a strictly defined judiciary. Giving Congress the power to create one could not help but end in star chambers. The SC was correctly established as a way of settling squabbles between states, but should never have been expanded beyond that.

        • One might be excused for thinking they’re running a genocide now. They’re just very clever about keeping it kind of low-key …. they do have tremendous message discipline.

        • Citizen, I would not be so sure that the other side would not back “such an extreme strategy from their leaders.” The American Left has revealed its bloodthirsty tendencies in its indulgences of BLM and Antifa as well as its letting hardcore criminals loose on the streets without bond. Forget not its willingness to let people freeze and starve in order to implement its idiotic climate change protocols.

          And in response to all that, there has been almost no protest coming from the average Volvo driver living life in the Starbucks line. That vaunted liberal compassion is just the public persona of the neurotic beast that rages within and wants total control, and will, under the right circumstances, approve anything that accomplishes totalitarianism.

      • Absolute Monarchy
        Yarvin is right that the Anglo-American world has been moving left for hundreds of years because that’s where power is.
        Machiavelli told the Prince to appeal to the people against the nobles, but what do you do when there’s no more king or nobles? You can always expand the franchise and reach lower in social status and invent new sexual identities to court as supporters.
        Spandrell’s bioleninism in action

    • Lincoln was a linchpin, sure, but the American trajectory was always going to be either federal imperialism or dissolution, due to the nature of federation in relation to demographic and economic growth. Imperialism was always more likely because it was always more lucrative, and would likely have happened without Lincoln, though not in the same way.

      • Marx’s parents converted and he was not brought up in any Jewish tradition. He hated Jews as much as anyone here. See his piece “On The Jewish Question.” But the Jew haters here appear to believe in some weird-ass genetic determinism that somehow overrides any upbringing and education.

        • Genes do, frequently, override education and upbringing, as demonstrated in studied of twins and adoptees. There are genetic markers that even influence our political preferences. It is a lot more intellectually defensible to claim Marx was a Jew and acted like a Jew because he was genetically a Jew than to claim his parents conversion overrode all his genetics.

  14. To follow up the Straussian angle, looking forward to your response to Michael Anton who paid you the compliment of reviewing your piece on natural rights. Anton is reasonable and readable. I think it would be a profitable back and forth.

    • Michael Anton and his “Flight 93 Election” article is the penultimate poster boy of the apocryphal dog that caught the car and didn’t know what to do with it.

      It was a great article. But it didn’t work (he never said it would); I’ve yet to read anything of his since that wasn’t standard Conservative Inc boilerplate.

      There may be no answers. Not ones you can print, anyway.

    • “The Biden administration isn’t influenced by Karl Marx, but Groucho Marx.”

      If only we were that lucky. The Marx Brothers were brilliant and their work (most of it) stands the test of time quite well. If what you say were true, we’d at least have some world-class repartee, instead of the cringe that is this government.

      • The Marx Brothers were Jewish, so their humor must have been designed to demoralize Whites and destroy White society, right?

  15. The settled dialectic seduces a lot of people. I think it goes back to something you said about Obama. He constantly liked to say things like “We solved that already” or “That’s already been decided.” As if every problem had a solution, rather than requiring constant vigilance, and recognition of the intractability of the human condition and all its downsides. Bumper stickers and yard signs are not going to stop the hostility—genocides, wars, etc.—that erupt every so often as much for atavistic reasons no one understands as over territory. But Obama was “the first president who’d gotten where he was by waiting in line and filling out the correct bubbles on the scantron,” as I think you said.

    That programmatic view of things is what gives Marxism its appeal. Such brainwashing can actually be helpful in certain situations. Young dumb kids who believe they’re invincible need to have it impressed upon them that they’re not, in everything from driver’s ed to basic training. One alcoholic I know said, “AA is brainwashing, and do you know what? My brain needed washing.”

    But trying to cram all of human nature into an economic dialectic (or a philosophical one, like Anton) is lethal. The best way to deal with life, with politics, with everything, is like a jaded detective who puts on his gun every day knowing any good he does is but a drop in the bucket, and may be undone by the end of the day. Life is hard and messy and complicated and it’s a war and any Weltanschauung that doesn’t recognize this can’t properly be called conservative.

    • When I’d have to give introductory talks to new crops of analysts, would usually work in a reminder that as much as you’ll hear the C-suite talking about “building”, “increasing”, “expanding”…ad nauseum, half your effort in business is generally spent simply resisting entropy.

    • “From the maggot up to man, the universal law of the violent destruction of living things is unceasingly fulfilled. The entire earth, perpetually steeped in blood, is nothing but an immense altar on which every living thing must be immolated without end, without restraint, without respite, until the consummation of the world, until the extinction of evil, until the death of death.” — Joseph de Maistre

  16. “Marx was a mediocre intellectual, but he cast a huge shadow. There were many smart men working the communist and socialist circuits in the 19th century, many smarter and more reasonable than Marx, but it was Mark who towered over the rest. Despite having been wrong about pretty much everything, Karl Marx remains a respected thinker and philosopher on the Left.”

    Granted, his prognoses turned out wrong. But in the three volumes of “Das Kapital” — which few people read today, and particularly not the so-called US Left — he provides an unparalleled analysis of the structure and dynamics of 19th century industrial capitalism. This was overshadowed by the finance capitalism of the early 20th century, and for that one has to turn to other thinkers such as Kautsky and Hilferding, who in a sense had to revise and update Marx’s analysis. But for its time, Marx’s “Das Kapital” and his “Grundrisse” were major breakthroughs. Nowadays virtually no-one reads him or if they do, it’s the lightweight “Communist Manifesto”, co-authored with Engels.

    Agree completely about the mediocrity of Strauss, who couldn’t hold a candle to Marx.

    Returning to Marx and the tradition of leftist thought (the real thing, not the bullshit identity politics of today), it kept developing and evolving. I have in mind the major US work, “Monopoly Capital” by Baran and Sweezy, published in the mid 1960s, which remains relevant even today.

        • I have said many times that Marx is important, not just historically, but as a model for anyone looking to create a genuine alternative to the prevailing orthodoxy. Fostering and developing an alternative elite is fundamentally a Marxist idea.

    • Granted, his prognoses turned out wrong. But in the three volumes of “Das Kapital” — which few people read today, and particularly not the so-called US Left — he provides an unparalleled analysis of the structure and dynamics of 19th century industrial capitalism.

      That seems to be the common problem with all our modern political analysts, from everywhere on the political spectrum. All of them have a great analysis of the problems. And none of them have a clue how to fix them.

      • Before the time of Marx, in his time, and certainly after his time , much of Leftist “thought” — I use the term rashly — consists of moral judgements, admonitions, and prescriptions. Marx said, “Well, hang on a moment, what if the capitalist is forced to act the way he does because of the nature of the evolving political and economic system? What if he has to maximise profits by underpaying labor because otherwise he won’t be able to invest the profits in upgrading his machinery — and not doing that would mean he can’t compete with other capitalists who are doing just that? What if he has to produce a return on capital to repay his investors and the banks?” This was cold-blooded analysis by Marx (i.e., not a moral criticism of the avarice of capitalists), and this vein of dispassionate analysis continues to today. For example, you might like to glance at this recent essay on crypto:

  17. I love these parallels. If Strauss is the Karl Marx of the Right, wouldn’t that make that “Mencius Moldbug” dude the Michel Foucault of the Right?

    • My main association with Foucault is the normalization of pedophilia,

      As low an opinion as a I have of Moldbug, it doesn’t include this association. I mostly think of Moldbug as a guy who will use ten obscure sentences to say what could be said clearly with one and who intentionally misdirects people. He popularized the term “the Cathedral” as where we should affix blame when the temple where his people worship would have been at least as accurate.

    • Foucault is the one who gave us the body as the site of politics. The reason you hear every undergrad in a soft science saying “black bodies” more often than a bird chirps is because of Foucault. His books, like “Discipline and Punish” ostensibly examined the body as the locus for the state exerting its power or “gaze” as the feminists/critical race theorists would say (brief summary: males/white people are so evil that they destroy everything just by seeing it, like Cyclops from X-Men firing lasers out of his eyes).

      Someone (Bruce Bauer or Steve Sailer, maybe both) postulated that all this disciplining bodies stuff was just a way for Foucault to talk about his fetishes and give it an intellectual patina. So he was a pioneer in that sense too, of using junk science just to justify bringing dirty-mindedness into the classroom.

      “Black bodies” used to be what physicists talked about when trying to bridge the gap between the Newtonian and quantum models. Now it’s what we talk about when trying to explain why half of America had to burn because some toad trying to pass a phony twenty overdosed on fentanyl.

      Foucault, on his deathbed (dying with AIDS) had a bit of an epiphany, when he realized all those nurses hooking him up to tubes weren’t trying to suppress or control him, or engaged in some weird medical fetish. They were just trying to lessen his pain as he went into the darkness.

      Among all the other things that the Left is (evil, venal, dishonest) sometimes they’re just sad.

      • Roger Scruton had Foucault’s number. Another overblown fraud exposed.

        Related, if you see someone refer to The Bearded One, that is someone who is left-adjacent and wanting to ride coattails but afraid to admit to who he really means or to acknowledge decades of failures and deaths.

    • That’s an insult to them both, so we should probably say it.

      But Moldbug doesn’t have the Marx/Foucault/Biblical quality of being hugely influential in name and unread in fact. We all read reams of Moldbug and all we got is “the Cathedral,” misappropriated from Eric S. Raymond.

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