A Meandering Post About Nothing

Imagine you are in a room with six sides and each wall has a door. If you leave the room through one of the doors, you end up in another six-sided room with doors. Assuming no obstacle, you can move in a straight line in any of six directions. If there obstacles, then things gets more complex. Anyone old enough to remember the Avalon Hill war games from the 70’s will be familiar with this concept.  The idea was to simulate the 360-degree movement of the real world, but with segmented game space.

Now, imagine yourself in that first room and let’s assume it is filled with sights, sounds, smells and all sorts of other things that you can experience with your senses. So much so, in fact that you can’t quite experience and remember all of them. You spend as much time as you want, studying as much of the room as possible, before moving to the next room. Let’s say you master 80% of what there is to master. Then you move onto the next room to experience whatever lies within.

Here’s the thing though. You can only remember so much before the memory begins to fade and you forget some things. When you get into the new space, you have new stuff to process and organize in your head. Making room for the new stuff means forgetting some of the old stuff. Let’s say you forget a third of what you tried to remember of the first room by the time you get to the 80% point in the new room. Your head now contains 66% of 80% of the first room and 80% of the second room.  You can do the math. I’ll wait.

If you move into the third room, you forget even more of the first room. You can see where this is headed. Keep moving from room to room and before long you only have vague recollections of what happened in the first rooms where you started. Even if you write stuff down you’re recollections are bound to get out of whack. When it comes to why you picked one door over another or what you were thinking at the time, well, your memory will be clouded by the present. It’s called recency bias.

Now, instead of you moving from room to room, imagine it is generations of men. The first generation operates in the first room. The next generation moves onto the second room, taking with them as much as they can recall being taught to them by the first generation. Then the third generation moves onto its phase of existence, having only second hand memories of their grandparent’s age. It does not take but a few generations before the people in the present are thoroughly detached from their ancestors. All they have are recollections of recollections.

That’s where the modern conservative finds himself in this age of turmoil. I was listening to someone on the radio the other day, lamenting the fact that no matter what happens in the election, the “conservative movement” is mortally wounded. The Trump insurgency has forever marginalized those rock-ribbed conservatives and their dreams of managerial technocracy. They did not put it that way, but that was the flavor of it. The person saying this clearly had no recollection of where the Right started or the road it had taken to end up at what some think is its terminus.

The fact is, Official Conservatism is so far from where it started, it is a crime against the language to call it “conservative.” The traditional American Right was always an individual liberty cause, which starts and ends with freedom of association. Everything that can be “conservative” rests on the basic idea that you have a basic right to associate with whom you like, when you like, on the terms you like. No one on the modern Right has talked about that in so long it is now forbidden knowledge.

The people writing at the big foot conservative publications never think about such things. Most of them came into the world of political ideology thinking that conservatism was about cutting taxes and losing wars of choice. The geezers came along when conservatism was focused on fighting the Russians and trying to figure out how to get around Roe in order to curtail abortion. The neocons are pretty much just hyper-violent globalists with a bizarre grudge against the Russians.

It’s why Trump’s talk about law and order, for example, sounds so alien and weird to the modern right-winger. To their ears, it almost sounds like Trump is hostile to government, which is crazy talk on the Right these days. That’s because the modern conservative is so far removed from the time when conservatism stood for ordered liberty that it is no longer even a recollection of a recollection. It is no longer part of their mental landscape so it falls outside their definition of conservative.

One can go on forever about the wrong turns the Right has made over the decades. Lord knows I’ve written enough on the topic. None of which really matters all that much, as the modern Right is where it is, in this time, a time when it no longer has anything to offer those outside the statist ideology of modern globalism. The alternative to post-national managerialism cannot be a different version of post-national managerialism. That’s why people, particularly young people, are turning their back on it, heading off to other rooms.

46 thoughts on “A Meandering Post About Nothing

  1. I’m really enjoying your blog. Thank you. My children and I (we homeschool) read American history from original sources and Liberty minded publications so upon hearing what Conservatives™ actually think, I am shocked. Thank you for writing out how we got here. Although I find it nearly impossible to discuss current issues with people who can’t seem to understand/remember even basic principles. i used to consider myself a R and conservative. I’m not sure I can anymore.

  2. “The neocons are pretty much just hyper-violent globalists with a bizarre grudge against the Russians”
    Bollox. This is accurate as far as it goes but somehow omits their treasonous primary allegiance: Israel.

  3. “The geezers came along when conservatism was focused on fighting the Russians and trying to figure out how to get around Roe in order to curtail abortion. The neocons are pretty much just hyper-violent globalists with a bizarre grudge against the Russians.”

    Neo-conservatives that rose in the 1990s wish essentially that the Soviet Union hadn’t collapsed. They grew up in the shadows of fathers and an establishment that framed itself as fighting against this enemy and they prepared themselves to join that fight only to see everything fall apart before they could step a foot out the door. Since then they have struggled to frame new fights to resemble the old one that they missed out on and have failed completely. So now they’ve reached the point where they are hoping to simply restart the old Cold War fight simply so they can fight it again and be a part of it on their own terms. Looking at it like that, I wouldn’t call the neo-conservative obsession with Russia bizarre or a grudge; it has less to do with Russia and more to do with the sad fact that the neo-conservatives don’t know anything else except how to fight the Soviet Union.

  4. The neocons are pretty much just hyper-violent globalists with a bizarre grudge against the Russians.


    (I wish I could take credit for that one, but I saw it on another site.)

  5. “We could not understand because we were too far and could not remember, because we were traveling in the night of first ages, of those ages that are gone, leaving hardly a sign – and no memories…” – Joseph Conrad

  6. I don’t see much evidence these days that policy has much to do with politics. Your garden variety congressman seems to readily acquire a fondness for free rides in the Gulfstream, free golf at Pebble Beach, and abundant bimbos. If he can pull down $100,000 per hour speaking fees and his kids can magically be admitted to Harvard, he will be quite happy to advocate any position that will allow the good times to keep rolling on. It is left to the pundits, sorting through his random screw-ups, like examining chicken entrails, to divine clues to a po

  7. I remember the wargames made by Strategy & Tactics magazine even better; Avalon Hill bought the rights to some of their games and published them. Good times!

  8. The room analogy is much like what most people do when lost in the bush. They make the same decisions over and over again and begin walking in an almost circular pattern. However difficult it may be, it is important to maintain a sense of orientation. This is what survival schools begin with because, after access to water and fire, this is of paramount importance. You’ve mentioned Russel Kirk in the past. He emphasized self examination of the movement on the basis of historically derived principles more than any of the other father’s of the movement. Buckley and his ilk are the guys out wandering around in the bush without any survival skills.

    • Bingo, Rurik. Were the founding members of the Republic to return today there would be one more amendment and it would be Freedom of Association, but their minds could not conceive that such a thing would ever be necessary.

  9. We’ve simply lost the tether to what came before us. And to what existential risks really are. Growing up, my grandfather (a veteran of the WWI trenches) used to tell me stories about his grandfather (GAR ’61-65- one of the 20% of his regiment to survive) who related to him stories of the last living veterans of the Revolution who were still alive when he was a boy in the 1830s. Used to joke that in the 2000s I was still just three degrees of separation from the founding. But it does give one perspective on the sacrifices made for the world we take for granted today. A couple years ago after DiBlasio was elected in New York was having lunch with some old colleagues down that the Standard under the High Line and someone wondered aloud “How the hell did DiBlasio get elected”. I said, “Because all these twenty and thirty somethings weren’t here and don’t remember that this very spot was someplace you only went if you had a death wish in 1990”. Memories are short and people are willing to buy into “end of history” nonsense.

    • I, too, am a hop and a skip from the American Revolution. My paternal grandmother, whom I never met, was born in 1856, died in 1926; her mother was born in 1817 and died in 1900. Rev War ancestors a-plenty. One of my forebear’s family, not direct descent from him, was Lemuel Cook from CT who was the oldest Pensioner from the Revolution, passing away after the Civil War. My father was the youngest of six, born in 1899, and was a real history buff. Every conspiracy “theory” bandied about today I heard at his knee in the 1950s/60s! The first thing we watched on our new tv set was the Army-McCarthy Hearings. I got an earful about all sorts of things and it has shaped my worldview to this day. I feel fortunate to have this long view of history and feel part of it, which is why I hate that people want to eliminate/alter the facts of what has actually happened!

      • While we’re at it look up a relative of mine. George Ross. Only Revolutionary War veteran buried in a Civil War cemetery. Shiloh.

        • If you ever get the chance read Bierce’s “What I Saw of Shiloh”. Not unusual to find Revolutionary Veterans that far west. It was not uncommon for veterans to be paid in “land bounties” by the cash strapped new government.

  10. There was an analogy about intellectual life that I cooked up in my brain when I was going to college in the late 70s: You had these coliseum like games that were always playing. Like the Sugar Bowl, the Cotton Bowl, etc. Except they had different labels: Religion, Art, Natural Science, and now a new game: Economics or Managerialism, what have you. Different, changing quantities and types of people were at all those games simultaneously. But, the latest game is the latest *fashion*. New games are always a big deal. But, eventually many people grow tired of the latest fads and want something more established and migrate back to the older games. I think we are at that place now.

  11. Yes that’s pretty much what happens. Civilizations rise and fall because humans cannot sustain status quo. Last weekend we were invited to dinner with friends. They have a bright sixteen year old. Actually he is more than bright. He is quite opinionated and has no problem discussing politics. He was a Bernie fan. That should clue you. This time we got pretty deep into the major differences between socialism and capitalism. He truly believes that humans can work together, achieve Utopia and expects that war will be only a historical reference in less than 100 years. Because, you know – detente – no one would even think about setting off a nuke because it would … WAIT! This is where I mentioned human nature and psychopaths rising to power.

    I watched his arguments as though I was seeing a flashback- we talked about Brexit. He was a Remainer, of course. Because, because, because you know. What I saw was the replication of my idealistic youth. It must be biological – endorphins bathing the brain in hope and trust in man’s ultimate ability to overcome human nature.

    I am a card carrying first tier Boomer. If I had taken my drama teacher’s advise I would have been among the student protesters at Kent State when the bullets rang out. I remember believing in Civil Rights and Make Love Not War and Trust No One Over Thirty.

    And then real life happened to me and I finally figured out that hope for mankind to change is a pipe dream. What changes is that good things always get hijacked by those who wish to dominate and rule. Words get redefined and good becomes evil. Civilizations rise and fall…

    • My 16-year-old is the complete opposite. He came to the realization that the left literally hates him and wants to emasculate him and his friends. He walks around with a Trump hat just to offend them. He knows little about the policies differences but recognizes instinctively who is on his side.

      • Treasure your teen. Interesting that our friends are staunch republicans and every advantage this kid has, which is above and beyond average, was provided by the company that his parents built from scratch. Perhaps it is true that prosperity is a drug that kills common sense.

    • Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I got an incredibly lucky break in my HS Senior year. We got sent off to do some pamphleting in a urban ‘ghetto’ (no one called it that, of course). OK, I thought; the dirt on the streets and the cars are because they are poor, the shabby clothes ditto. Dirty clothes and bodies? Anyone can afford plain soap and the water is essentially free. Then the people, young and old wandering around either drunk or with drugged out eyes, “Drugs cost money, booze costs money.” I thought. The eyes that looked at us were either apathetic or hostile. They must have brought us to a real ‘Sh*thole’ because I’ve been to many Black and Mexican neighborhoods since and most of those people were clean and as well attired as they were able to be.

      But seeing that first ghetto street and it’s denizens put me in a different place; in-between the comfortable smugness of progressive do-gooders and the blank faced racism of contempt of most of the other people I knew. I’d like to help anyone that was trying to help themselves, but I resented being told to care about those that didn’t care about themselves and then I was supposed to feel guilty about myself to boot.
      Needless to say I did not fare well when I arrived at a liberal arts school the next year, it seemed that I was one the few in whom the cultural programming hadn’t taken hold. The sex was nice but the constant pressure to try drugs and get swept up in the 60’s anti-establishment hatred wasn’t for me. One year and out, then I started working for a living. Is that conservatism?

      • My story’s similar. Grew up practically a commie, then moved from the Upper Midwest to New York City. New York at the height of the Dinkins terror. Eyes opened. If this is what liberalism brings, NO THANKS!

      • That sounds like something Loretta Lynn said. “Soap’s cheap and water’s free”. Her mother did not tolerate dirt, even though they were poor.

  12. Whenever I teach a history survey, I raise the question “what’s a government FOR, anyway?” The kids always look at me like I’m speaking in tongues. Such a thing has never occurred to them, even though they are theoretically bright / educated enough to get into a decent school, had history or civics in high school, and many of them are history majors. Back in the Jurassic, this is why we read “the classics” — you may not agree with Hobbes, say, but he lays out an ironclad case given his premises… which voters under 35 have never even heard of, much less have the mental furniture to start refuting. You’d think somebody even planned it that way.

    • The purpose of government as a human phenomenon is to extract tribute from its subjects in order to sustain a dedicated warrior class in order for that warrior class to conquer and defend a piece of land from trespassers. The piece of land is secured in order to secure control of reproductive opportunity by securing control of reproductive resources—women—and to secure the safety of the vulnerable fruits of those resources made manifest, the young children fathered by both the warrior class and the men supporting the warrior class with their tribute.

      This is why the two most fundamental functions of government are taxation and the military, and why the police comes in a close third.

      The implication being that if that government becomes unable to defend the state with its military, it is illegitimate in that it will soon be conquered by a competing state, much the same way as when that government becomes unable (or unwilling) to defend its borders, it will rapidly lose its legitimacy and thus the loyalty of its citizens, its “men supporting the warrior class with their tribute”, who then go searching for a new government.

  13. Why would anyone be in the armed forces of this country, should hillary be elected (or even if she isn’t)? Just whose country would you be defending?

    • You might be inclined to serve if you felt you were going to learn some skills but sheesh, all the crap you would have to put up with! I’m sure it would not be worth it.

    • I am a prime-time physical and mental age young son of the West whose literal ancestors literally founded and made this country, and I will in no capacity aid or abet the armed forces of this country until such time as they are no longer dedicated to provoking nuclear states and tempting nuclear holocaust, but expelling the 100 million foreign trespassers from the land my forefathers conquered. But after that, you couldn’t stave me off with a stick. I’ll drop everything to be a part of those armed forces.

      I suppose you might say I am a man without a country, looking for a country to secure and defend.

  14. May I be permitted to ask a question that is not pertinent to your current theme? Has anyone noticed the Lone Wolf Muslim attacks have suddenly stopped in the US (and elsewhere)? And “surprisingly” BLM has lost interest in how poorly gangstas and thugs are treated, by the police, at just about the same time.

    • Total coincidence. The fact that these were helping right-wing candidates and parties instead of the government parties is purely coincidental.

      • Man, there are some intensely cynical dudes and dudettes lurking at this blog! Did it ever occur to you that your government merely has your best interests at heart?

        I kid.

      • Yes indeed, the Islamic attacks and BLM anarchy was helping to energize people leaning toward Trump. Suddenly, and simultaneously (almost) these “actions” stopped like a light switch was tripped. Normal, everyday Americans would have known, from the beginning, these actions would injure the progressive, totalitarian “Do Gooder” operatives vision. Of course the Boobus Americanus section of the audience would not have noticed. Ready made excuses at hand. Will the “actions” pick up again right after the election? Very best regards to you.

  15. You can do the math.
    I can but I do much better with words. 🙂
    Conservatism is about freedom of association.
    Conservatism: to conserve, to hold on to, to keep that which works. thor’s definition.
    I always understood conservatism was about doing what was right, that is, the things that worked, or would for everyone if we all had the same basic view of each other. Keeping your word, building things that worked, giving an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, etc. The things that are morally correct. I’m not suggesting Puritan standards; just basic decency. The freedom of association and non-aggression principle came when I developed a far more libertarian view of society, without changing my view of treating others as I wanted to be treated. The non-aggression is treating others the way I want to be treated anyway.
    We lost our way on everything when we decided as a society that anything and everything was acceptable.

    • To take Mr Z’s theme here, the choice you have as a conservative is which door you choose to go through. Under our socialist masters, you don’t have that choice. They will tell you which is best for you and even, happily, provide the key to what they decide is best for you.

    • I always associated “conserve” with a minimalist approach. Government that governs more than absolutely necessary is pure waste. Modern establishment “conservatives” have lost all perspective on this. They think that raising spending by 4% rather than 5% annually is a victory for small government,

  16. “Life is a journey, not a destination” or so said Ralph Waldo Emerson. The elites of both parties, well educated and all, lost themselves in the journey and forgot about the goal.

    • Replace journey with struggle and you have a simple definition of the ruling classes as they come mostly from the different factions of the Left. Struggle to reach utopia is a feature, they are aware that it can only be reached across the sea of blood.

      • I am quite certain that many Leftists, ordinary and exalted, believe each is writing his, her, zirs, or sees own “My Struggle.”

      • Yeah, but this time, they’re going to kill the right people. This time.

        As always, Utopia will remain one murder away.

  17. What you write brings to mind the lessons learned in playing sports. Namely, when your game is off, what did coach tell you … time to get back to basics. Practice, practice, practice the fundamentals. What the congress critters do is not demonstrable republican government, they have gone to jungle ball where they make up the rules as they go along to suit themselves. The game they play is nothing resembling the government the Founders worked to establish through their hard work and wisdom.

    There have been times in my life, and I’m sure most people’s where you get so busy with “stuff” that you get overwhelmed. Time to get back to basics. Time to shed the unimportant and focus on First Things First. This is true of citizens who think they participate because they “vote” every once in awhile. Or like Christians who think they are good because they go to church on Easter and Christmas. It takes daily, regular practice to get good at something and people do not want to invest in themselves because it takes too much effort, is inconvenient, and they think they don’t have the time.

    You bring up a good point in that the modern right has lost all bearing and knows not where it comes from or what it “should” be about. Instead, it has been co-opted into the big game of playing the game of corruption and avarice. They are no different from their opposition/enemy.

    Seems to me the Left has been much better at refocusing efforts when they go off the rails. Off course, it helps tremendously when the complicit media is not beating them over the head stuff day and night and they can immediately change to topic of the day to whatever distracts from their mistakes.

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