The Morning After

Well! Here we stand, on the morrow of our victory. In this glorious dawn, let us survey the battlefield.

The Clintons are finished, done. Their political careers are over, and the parasitic criminal syndicates they run, which draw their life’s-blood by selling access to power, have been expelled by the host. Each of them has good reason to be worried today, as a newly constituted Department of Justice — a department that may now, refreshingly, concern itself with justice, and with the enforcement of the nation’s laws — will no longer serve as their Praetorian guard.

The GOP, for what they’re worth, have held the House and the Senate, have gained three governorships, and have increased their numbers in state legislatures and local administrations. In the Senate, Chuck Schumer will not be the Majority Leader.

The predicted collapse of the stock market — futures were down hundreds of points late last night, as the Clintons’ doom became apparent — did not happen. As I write, the DJIA is up over sixty points, and heading rapidly north.

In short: the enemy is driven before us. For a morning, for a day, let us listen to the music of their lamentations. Drink deeply of their sweet tears.

Then to work. We have retaken the citadel, but it is burnt and broken.

As Churchill wrote:

In War: Resolution,
In Defeat: Defiance,
In Victory: Magnanimity
In Peace: Good Will.

We have been resolute, and we have been defiant. Now let us be magnanimous. But I will add: let us be stern, and let us be vigilant. Let us defend the country we have retaken, and know that our Hydra-headed enemy still lives, is swollen with hatred, and never sleeps.

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Well, Whaddya Know

Donald Trump has won the election. This means that Hillary Clinton will never be President. She will be lucky to stay out of prison.

We did it.

The Underdog

If you haven’t seen this clip, I think you’ll enjoy it.

Sobornost

I have noted often in these pages that in the absence of a natural and organic social framework, order must be imposed artificially from the “top down”. Here, for example, is an excerpt from a 2014 post, The Death of Culture:

To create the new metaculture, muticulturalism cannot not add cultures together, due to the points of contradiction and conflict that are, in turn, manifestations of the innate differences of the peoples whose cultures they are. Instead, it can only proceed subtractively, by stripping away particularities, until it finds commonality at some baser level — and as more peoples and cultures are added to the mix, more and more must be pared away. Among the first things to go are the natural cohesion and public trust that organic cultures enjoy; these natural assets must be replaced prosthetically, by an act of power imposed from above. That this artificial, top-down structure in turn creates new inequalities even as it scrapes away familiar liberties must simply be tolerated as the price we pay for our salvation.

In May of 2015 I commented on the dissolution of our own organic culture:

All of the erosive forces at work here — demographic displacement by poorly assimilated immigrants, low birthrates among cognitive elites, multiculturalism, galloping secularism, centralization of Federal power at the expense of local government, anti-traditionalism, hedonistic apathy, instutionalized disparagement of America’s history, mission, cultural heritage, and mythos, and behind it all the universal acid of radical doubt that is the “poison pill” of the Enlightenment itself — all of these things attack and corrode the horizontal ligatures of American civil society, leaving behind only an atomized population with no binding affinities save their vertical dependence upon a Federal leviathan that is, increasingly, the source of all guidance and blessings.

Today I have for you an essay, posted by Mark Citadel at Social Matter, on what sort of organizing principles are necessary for the coalescence of a cohesive, organic society. He argues that mere abstracta will not do; they form the basis of what he calls “artificial collectives” that lack the sinews and ligaments that a living society needs to survive existential pressures.

The survival of a group, preyed upon by others as it will be, is in large part down to its organic, inner coherence or knowledge of itself. If a group lacks this, while at the same time refusing to recognize its enemy, it will succumb in every battle. At some point along this line of error, all the technology in the world couldn’t change the outcome. You won’t even fight. You will fade out in silence. If your society is based upon individualism, you will be playing vidya right up until your killers thunder up the carpeted stairway. If your society is based on some artificial collectivism (David Cameron’s pathetic “British values” come to mind as a good contemporary example), then rest assured, your ultimate security will be as brittle as fretwork in a hail of gunfire.

Read the essay here.

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We Need to Start Leaving Each Other Alone

It should be obvious to all at this point that a very great part of our nation’s political sickness is due to the ever-increasing concentration of power in the hands of the Federal leviathan in Washington, at the expense of local government. (That this is, even at this late stage of the disease, not obvious to many millions of citizens does not augur well for the nation’s prospects, as it makes it far more likely that, the proper treatment not being applied, the disease will progress until the patient dies.) Even if subsidiarity were not a sound principle for all hierarchical organizations, he United States is simply far too large, and far too diverse in political and cultural tradition, for one-size-fits-all regulation by remote and largely unaccountable administrators to provide good government, or to promote harmony and cohesion.

At the time of the Framing, a group of writers known collectively as the Anti-Federalists foresaw this problem, and wrote extensively about it. (You are far more likely to have read The Federalist Papers than the writings of this equally articulate opposition, for the same simple reason that you’ve probably never read Thomas Hutchinson’s Strictures Upon The Declaration of Independence: the Anti-Federalists didn’t win.)

The Cato Institute’s Trevor Burrus has published an essay today illustrating the prescience of the Anti-Federalists. What they feared has come to pass, in exactly the way they predicted.

We read:

For many, the city on the Potomac might as well be a later-stage Rome, sliding into decadent splendor and orgiastic self-absorption. Or, in the words of ‘Cato’ [probably New York governor George Clinton], the “federal city” would be “the asylum of the base, idle, avaricious and ambitious,” that would “possess a language and manners different from yours.”

A national government imbued with unrestrained power would be a bad idea, thought [Robert] Yates, because the people of the country were too diverse to be effectively centrally governed. A remote, national government given such great powers would cause a “constant clashing of opinions; and the representatives of one part will be continually striving against those of the other.”

This was because the “laws and customs of the several states are, in many respects, very diverse, and in some opposite; each would be in favor of its own interests and customs, and, of consequence, a legislature, formed of representatives from the respective parts, would not only be too numerous to act with any care or decision, but would be composed of such heterogeneous and discordant principles, as would constantly be contending with each other.”

Quoting the Constitution’s preamble, Cato sounded the same concerns:

[W]hoever seriously considers the immense extent of territory comprehended within the limits of the United States, together with the variety of its climates, productions, and commerce, the difference of extent, and number of inhabitants in all; the dissimilitude of interest, morals, and politics, in almost every one, will receive it as an intuitive truth, that a consolidated republican form of government therein, can never form a perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to you and your posterity.[/em>

It is well-known in the engineering disciplines that too-tight “coupling” is at the root of many, if not most, failures of complex systems. Far more robust are loosely coupled systems, in which components interact with, and depend on, each other no more than is necessary; in which the actions of each component affect the actions of others only so far as is essential for the operation of the system as a whole; in which friction between components is minimized; and in which the failure of a single component does not unnecessarily cause the failure of others. This is precisely the opposite of the systems that govern us today, at both the national and global level.

Read the whole thing here.

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Vote Suppression

Well, here’s a fine state of affairs: the lovely Nina has thrown out her back here in Wellfleet, MA, and so we can’t make the long ride back to New York — which is where we are registered to vote. I very much doubt that Hillary Clinton will take New York’s electoral votes by a margin of one, but if so, I will be very sorely vexed indeed.

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The Common Touch

From the Podesta emails:

 
“With friends like that…”

See also this. Three days to go, folks. Choose wisely.

The American Heartland As Viscoelastic Liquid: A Case Study

From the Wall Street Journal today:

Places Most Unsettled by Rapid Demographic Change Are Drawn to Donald Trump

ARCADIA, Wis.—Small towns in the Midwest have diversified more quickly than almost any part of the U.S. since the start of an immigration wave at the beginning of this century. The resulting cultural changes appear to be moving the political needle.

A Wall Street Journal analysis of census data shows that counties in a distinct cluster of Midwestern states—Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota—saw among the fastest influxes of nonwhite residents of anywhere in the U.S. between 2000 and 2015. Hundreds of cities long dominated by white residents got a burst of Latino newcomers who migrated from Central America or uprooted from California and Texas.

That shift helps explain the emergence of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump as a political force, and signals that tensions over immigration will likely outlive his candidacy. Among GOP voters in this year’s presidential primaries, counties that diversified rapidly were more likely to vote for the New York businessman, the Journal’s analysis shows.

As you probably know by now, I’ve got a metaphor for everything. My metaphor for this, as explained here a year ago, is that societies are like Silly Putty: the faster you deform them, the more likely they are to snap.

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Everyone Needs A Hobby

Here’s a nifty visualization of the Clinton, etc. emails.

Forensic Entomology

From the Express:

A migrant turf war erupted into violence on the streets of one of Paris’ trendiest neighbourhoods early this morning as asylum seekers beat each other to a pulp with wooden clubs.

Story and video here.

A defining characteristic of a living organism is the maintenance of its internal order, and of its boundary with the external world. Draw your own conclusions.

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Star Power

A dramatic clip from NASA Heliophysics. Here.

Firesign Theater

Here is an amusing item: a secret report, ostensibly leaked by the hacker cartel “Anonymous”, outlining the extent of the Clinton disadvantage in the upcoming election, together with some highly imaginative ways to prevent a Trump victory.

Fake, of course – but as I said, amusing. What times we live in!

Read it here.

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The Wild God

Today we have an essay for you, from Francis Spufford, on how two prominent atheists — Sam Harris and Barbara Ehrenreich — have approached their profoundest subjective experiences. It begins:

To say, as people do from time to time, that science is the only source of meaning available to human beings is to consign large swaths of everyday experience to insignificance. (And to offer an open goal to any quick-footed apologist for religion who may be passing.) The implication of the maximal claim for ­science is that anything that can’t be brought within the reach of hypothesis-­experiment-conclusion is to be ignored. I’ve heard Richard Dawkins, on a stage, respond to someone asking why people’s conviction of the presence of God doesn’t count as data: “Oh, all sorts of funny things happen in people’s heads. But you can’t measure them, so they don’t mean anything.” Yet atheists, like everybody else, fall in love, read novels, hum songs, and value the unrepeatable shadings of their sensory and cognitive experiences. The subjective makes its irrefutable demand for attention as soon as you quit the lectern.

So after periods of intense polemic there often comes a point when the polemicists double back to give subjectivity its due. It happened in the nineteenth century at the historical moment after utilitarianism had made its maximal claim that we are all self-­interested calculators. John Stuart Mill in his Autobiography (1873) records his younger self’s discovery that, alongside the utilitarian reading list, he could allow himself the un-rigorous beauties of Wordsworth: “I never turned recreant to intellectual culture, or ceased to consider the power and practice of analysis as an essential condition both of individual and of social improvement. But I thought that it had consequences which required to be corrected, by joining other kinds of cultivation with it.” And now, with the maximal claim of New Atheism just behind us, it seems to be happening again: a similar spiritual stirring, defended by a similar insistence that “analysis,” or its contemporary equivalent, has not been betrayed.

Here.

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Sublime Injustice

In a post from 2013, we quoted Will and Ariel Durant on the persistent delusion of Equality. The pursuit of an unattainable equality has been a reliable political implement throughout the modern history of the West, despite the natural impossibility of its achievement.

Since Nature (here meaning total reality and its processes) has not read very carefully the American Declaration of Independence or the the French Revolutionary Declaration of the Rights of Man, we are all born unfree and unequal; subject to our physical and psychological heredity, and to the customs and traditions of our group; diversely endowed in health and strength, in mental capacities and qualities of character. Nature loves difference as the necessary material of selection and evolution; identical twins differ in hundreds of ways, and no two peas are alike.

Inequality is not only natural and inborn, it grows with the complexity of civilization. Hereditary inequalities breed social and artificial inequalities; every invention or discovery is made or seized by the exceptional individual, and makes the strong stronger, the weak relatively weaker, than before. Economic development specializes functions, differentiates abilities, and makes men unequally valuable to their group. If we knew our fellow men thoroughly we could select thirty per cent of them whose combined ability would equal that of all the rest. Life and history do precisely that, with a sublime injustice reminiscent of Calvin’s God.

Nature smiles at the union of freedom and equality in our utopias. For freedom and equality are sworn and everlasting enemies, and when one prevails the other dies. Leave men free, and their natural inequalities will multiply almost geometrically, as in England and America in the nineteenth century under laissez-faire. To check the growth of inequality, liberty must be sacrificed, as in Russia after 1917. Even when repressed, inequality grows; only the man who is below the average in economic ability desires equality; those who are conscious of superior ability desire freedom; and in the end superior ability has its way. Utopias of equality are biologically doomed, and the best that the amiable philosopher can hope for is an approximate equality of legal justice and educational opportunity.

In America, the Democratic Party’s brand is built on on its championing of this illusory “equality” — and its ideological handmaiden, “inclusivity”. In reality, of course, just as the Durants (and so many others) understood, there will always be hierarchy and exclusivity: given that inequality is real, natural, and universal, social “equality” must needs be an artificial imposition, and as such can only be maintained by power — a power that will always be exerted by the few upon the many.

Making the rounds today is an article from The Guardian that looks at how this eternal truth manifests itself in present-day America. Read it here.

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One Week Out

With seven days to go until the election, the walls of Festung Clinton are beginning to collapse. The FBI disclosure by James Comey has the campaign furiously denouncing the same man they praised so highly back in July. Clinton mole Donna Brazile is out at CNN for helping Mrs. Clinton cheat on the debates. The stinking pall of corruption surrounding the Clintons and the Democratic Party blackens the sky.

Writing at the blog MANSIZEDTARGET, however, Roman Dmowski argues that even if none of this were so, it wouldn’t matter. We read:

Hillary touts her skill within the system as a qualification, which Trump has dismissed as “bad experience.” She is experienced no doubt, and her experience coupled with her venality and penchant for secrecy is what brought about this entire email situation. But the claim of experience has an additional flaw. While she is clearly of low character, even if she were honest and authentic–like Bernie Sanders or Dennis Kucinich for example–it would not matter.

The goals she aims to achieve are bad ones.

She is hostile to the historic American people, our limited government traditions, our traditional distaste with empire, our desire for a less intrusive government, our unplanned and spontaneous and natural approach to family life, among other things. She is a leftist. And her experience and political skill, such as it is, recommends against her rather than in her favor, because the better she can accomplish her goals, the more we collectively suffer.

Mr. Dmowski makes the point I’ve been making here for years (and that many others, of course, have made as well): that the ideological disagreement in America — so often represented by the Democrats as their side simply wanting to do “what works”, in contrast to the “ideological” obstinacy of the Right) — is at bottom a question of what we want done in the first place. The most fundamental consideration in this election, then, is a matter not of qualifications or experience or competence or even character, but basic premises about our vision of the American nation and culture, and of the proper role of government.

He continues (my emphasis):

The appeal to experience by those in the middle is quaint and wrong-headed. There is no abstract notion of good government in an ideological age. We’re not running a homeowners association or a village deciding to pave with concrete or asphalt. What each side wants to do is quite different. While the GOP’s steady decline as an institution of conservatism masks this, the Trump campaign highlights the issues in full relief. She wants to take our guns, she wants to tax us into oblivion, she wants to flood us with hostile foreigners, she wants government run by people like her to run our lives, she wants neighborhood bakers and schools harassed into accepting transexual mental health sufferers, she wants eight month unborn children to be aborted without any impediment, she wants black criminals elevated above hard-working police, she wants us all dependent on an ever-growing and more intrusive government, and the better she is able to do any of these things, the worse off we are individually and collectively.

In a healthy society, the appeal to experience might have some weight. It has some value in local and even state elections, where the good is conceived less ideologically and more practically in terms of efficiency in bringing about noncontroversial government goods like public safety and public works. But, particularly on a national level and cultural level, we are under attack by a hostile ideology and increasingly our identity itself is under assault by social engineering writ large in the form of mass immigration. But perhaps her manifest public corruption and criminality would give pause to those who think her experience is some kind of virtue. But whether virtue limiting her ambition or vice furthering her designs, it is the leftist content of those designs that chiefly disqualifies her from the presidency.

Yes, Mrs. Clinton is in many ways a very capable woman. But, given her aims:

Like a trained assassin, her abilities and experience are to be feared.

Thank you, Director Comey, for making it, perhaps, just a little less likely that Hillary Clinton, or her husband, will ever again enter the Oval Office. Better late than never.

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Nice!

I’ve been on the road all day — eight hours battling traffic in a fully loaded car with wife, daughter, grandson, and mother-in-law — and only made it to the stormy Outer Cape late this evening. We hadn’t listened to the news during the trip — the A.M. radio in our old Volvo stopped working a few years back — so imagine my delight, when I logged on just now, to find out that the F.B.I. is re-opening its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Better yet, the whole thing came back to bite her because of the investigation into Huma Abedin’s estranged husband’s sexual perversions. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer bunch of people.

It’s hard to imagine that the bureau would have taken this step, at this crucial time, if they didn’t have something pretty big. As one presidential aspirant remarked upon hearing the news: “perhaps, finally, justice will be done.” Maybe, at last, it will. Hope springs eternal.

I’m reminded of something a noted sage of the Left once said, right here in these pages: “Schadenfreude: it’s a beautiful thing.”

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Where Is Assange?

Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, has been effectively imprisoned in the Ecuadorean embassy in London for four years. He is accused of rape in Sweden, and the U.K. has spent millions surrounding the embassy in the hope of swooping him up and extraditing him. I won’t comment on the merits of the charges, other than to say that it all appears murky (as high-profile rape cases often do) — and to remark that for Sweden to make such a fuss about this case when that nation has voluntarily made itself, as a matter of idealistic public policy, the rape capital of the Western world, seems a bit much.

I in no way mean to downplay the seriousness of the crime of rape, but obviously there is much more to l’affaire Assange than a sex-offense. Mr. Assange would probably have faced the charges, of which he claims to be innocent, were he not worried that Sweden would in turn send him off to the United States to face a much more dangerous inquiry.

He had lived quietly in the embassy for years, until he began leaking documents that have embarrassed and incriminated the Clintons, Barack Obama, and the Democrat party machine. A few days ago, he had his Internet access cut off. Wikileaks was prepared for this, and had a “dead-man-switch” release schedule in place, so the document dumps have continued.

Now, however, Mr. Assange seems to have gone missing. Rumors abound, including that he has been removed from the embassy, taken to the U.S. in a small plane, and is now in CIA custody. Some have suggested that he is being used as a hostage to apply pressure to a Wikileaks organization that was well-prepared for his death, but which might be coerced into silence to save his life. Someone even suggested that Wikileaks had put a coded message in a series of tweets saying “HELP HIM”.

These are all just rumors, and I have no idea what the truth is. None of them seem too far-fetched to be beyond plausibility, however. Mr. Assange has some very powerful and utterly ruthless enemies.

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The Swamp

Hardly a day goes by now without new evidence of Clintonian corruption. The latest has to do with the FBI’s curiously handled investigation of the Clintons’ email server, and the FBI director’s audacious decision not to recommend charges in the case.

As the Wall Street Journal reports here, after the FBI began its investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s felonious mishandling of classified information the governor of Virginia, longtime Clinton bagman Terry McAuliffe, had his political committees make donations amounting to almost half a million dollars to the election campaign of an obscure state senator, Jill McCabe. That would be odd indeed — half a million is a lot of shekels to be throwing around in such a low-level race — except for the fact that Ms. McCabe is married to FBI director James Comey’s “right-hand man”, Andrew McCabe.

As bad as this is, it is, of course, just the latest drop in an ocean of malfeasance by the Clintons, this thoroughly rotten DOJ, this President, and both political parties. I suppose there have probably been other periods of American history, under other Presidents, where things have been this bad — but the difference, of course, is that thanks to a century of continuous expansion of the managerial Leviathan, and the consolidation of power over every aspect of American life under the power of the State, corruption has never mattered more. It is a given that there will be corruption in government — but the bigger and more powerful the government is, the more corruption it attracts, and the greater that corruption’s noxious effect becomes upon the lives of the people. As Dennis Prager once said: “The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.”

Hence Trump. His candidacy is a gigantic middle finger to all of it, from an angry and frustrated people — of whom millions are only one last legal recourse, and one final insult, away from refreshing the tree of liberty in the way Jefferson prescribed.

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Birds Of A Feather

The choleric president of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte (the one, in case you’ve forgotten, who called Barack Obama “a son of a whore”), recently announced his “separation” from the United States, and a pivot to China. Why? Well, it obviously makes sense, in an era of spastic and ineffective American foreign policy, for a small nation on China’s doorstep to seek good relations with its powerful neighbor. There is, however, more to the story — as Mark Yuray explains, here.

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The Soul Of A New Machine

You’ve probably heard of “quantum computing”, but you may not know what it is. Here is a piece by Peter Diamandis, of Singularity University, that gives a helpful introduction to the key idea: that the bizarre “superposition” of a particle’s unmeasured quantum states makes it possible for n quantum bits (or “qubits”) to do the processing work of 2n “classical” bits.

How to take advantage of this has been a challenging problem both technically and algorithmically, but it is yielding, and the technology should begin to become useful within the next few years. Once the power of the qubit is in harness, whole classes of problems that, in terms of processing time, “scale up” exponentially on classical machines will now scale linearly.

This is no small thing; in particular it will enable modeling of complex systems that are, in principle, beyond the reach not only of current supercomputers, but of any classical computer that could ever be constructed. Peter Diamandis is right to apply S.U.’s favorite adjective — “disruptive” — to the prospect of this technology’s arrival.

The tone of Mr. Diamandis’s piece, as with everything related to Singularity University, is one of breathless excitement; when I spent a fascinating week there a few years ago, I remember one of the speakers saying that “if you can see the road ahead, you aren’t going fast enough.” To say that an emerging technology is “disruptive” is, for the members of this community, the highest praise.

This infatuation with “disruption” puzzles me. If the best societies are organic, living systems, as I believe them to be, then “disruption” is hardly a thing to be wished for. Would you like to have your family routine, or the regularities of your daily life, “disrupted”? Would an ecologist encourage the “disruption” of a healthy and balanced ecosystem? If I offered you a pill that would “disrupt” the workings of your own bodily organism, would you take it?

I’m no Luddite, and have, in my two careers as a recording engineer and software developer, always been an “early adopter” of new technologies. But I’m old enough now, have read enough history, and have seen enough radical change in my own sixty years, to understand that not all of the modern world’s “progress”, either technical or social, has in fact been a movement toward greater human flourishing and happiness.

I understand that technology will advance, willy-nilly, and that the pace is increasing. Nothing short of a major civilizational catastrophe could prevent it. I am sure as well that many of these advances will provide astonishing material benefits, and will confer upon us powers that would have seemed magical — even godlike — not so long ago.

What I have far less confidence in is our own wisdom and foresight. Our technology is advancing exponentially. I see no evidence that our judgment, our self-mastery, or our insight into the eternal conundrum of human nature and the human experience, are advancing at all.

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Service Notice

Our daughter’s visiting from Austria with our infant grandson, and we are all out of town for a wedding this weekend. Back soon. Chat amongst yourselves, if you like.

The Observer-Created World

We’ve just had another intractable disagreement in our most recent comment-thread (with, of course, our resident Clintonian gadfly). The dispute is, in microcosm, the same that is pulling America, and indeed all of the West, to pieces.

As I have said many times before, so much depends on axioms, and on what words mean.

We read a sentence like this:

And while there may be “millions of aroused American patriots” enraged at social change, there are millions more American patriots who believe in diversity, inclusiveness, Obamacare, a return to balance on the Supreme Court after thirty years of right wing control, and the other things which will drive Clinton voters to the polls.

Consider “diversity”. (“Inclusiveness” is just another word for the same thing, as is “multiculturalism”.) Here we see the axiom that more of it is always better, despite that assertion’s being completely at odds with our empirical experience (ever-increasing racial and ethnic tensions everywhere in the West, the need for increasingly totalitarian “hate-speech” laws, and the enormous cost of the burgeoning “diversity-management” industry being obvious examples), at odds with any careful examination of what makes cultures and societies happy and cohesive (see here and here), and sharply at odds with all the lessons of history — which teach us again and again that, sooner or later, Diversity + Proximity = War.

Where one person says “diversity” and “inclusivity”, then, another reads: “open borders, demographic displacement, Balkanization, cultural deliquescence, worsening social tension, more intervention to manage that tension, and of course the steady accumulation of new Democratic voters and clients of the ever-expanding managerial state.”

Where one person says:

Others are angry because ordering chicken at a Roy Rogers on the turnpike is frustrating when the counterman lacks English skills (although – who knows? – he could be the Syrian refugee whose son starts Apple Computer).

… another sees a nest of hidden axioms, namely that (a) all people from anywhere are exactly fungible, (b) that a randomly chosen illiterate immigrant from anywhere on earth stands a robustly non-zero chance of siring the next Steve Jobs, and that (c) this prospect is both so likely and so attractive that it justifies, in terms of the policy interests of American citizens, flinging open the borders to thousands, or perhaps millions, of profoundly alien and unvettable immigrants on the chance that the offspring of one of them may someday sell us a better phone. Moreover, so incommensurable are the axioms here that where one person will read what I’ve just written and see in it the traditional human virtues: love of home and country, love of peace and harmonious order, love of one’s culture and heritage, a grateful sense of obligation to those who built it all for us, and love of the generations yet unborn for whom all of these treasures are to be cherished, preserved and protected — another will read it and see only “hate”, and fear of change. (Implicit in that is yet another hidden axiom, namely that change — which is of course inevitable — is also innately and self-justifyingly good, and so should not be questioned or resisted.)

Where one person sees “thirty years of right-wing control” of the Supreme Court, another sees a wholesale abandonment of Constitutional rigor, the usurpation of the public will in order to advance the destruction of States’ rights and the traditional moral order, and the discovery of mysterious and ever-unfolding “emanations” from Constitutional clauses and amendments whose original purposes were clear, limited, and clearly limited.

And so on.

These are not petty differences, and they are not, by their nature, amenable to compromise. (Existential questions are like that. If I see that you are about to drive us over a cliff, and you say there is no cliff, what is our compromise?) We are at a point of such outright and deepening hostility between two fundamentally incompatible visions of America, the American tradition, the role of government, the moral order, the right to association, the meaning of the Constitution — in the simplest terms, of what is good and right and sacred — that the best we can really hope for now is some kind of divorce. It is the great tragedy of our age that the geographical interpenetration of these hostile camps makes this almost impossible. We cannot live together — we cannot agree on the most basic principles of society and government, or of rights and truths and responsibilities — and we cannot get away from each other. How much suffering we might avoid in the months and years to come, if only we could.

Finally, to make matters worse, let’s go “meta”: while one person sees the moral and axiomatic fault-lines I’ve described above, and recognizes that the tectonic strain is reaching the point of catastrophic release — another thinks that his candidate will simply win the coming election, we’ll all have a good laugh at the fools who lost, and things will “get back to normal”.

Place your bets.

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I’m Shocked – Shocked!

It’s been a busy few days, with little time for writing. But I won’t run off without offering a morsel to sustain you (and to reassure you that things are, indeed, as they seem).

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Caste And Character

Tonight’s reading assignment is an outstanding essay, Weaving the Basket of Deplorables, recently posted at the site The Dissenting Sociologist. Its epopseudonymous author (sorry, but I felt the need for a name that’s both an eponym and a pseudonym), whom I shall call DS, has done a masterful job of distilling and clarifying some core neoreactionary ideas.

I am going to excerpt key sections, but please don’t let that stop you from reading the essay in its entirety. If you want to understand the new, deeply dissident Right, this is an important contribution, and is very well worth your time.

The point of entry is the increasing antipathy of our cultural and political aristocracy toward a certain segment of the American polity, as displayed most recently by Hillary Clinton’s remarks about them on the campaign trail (an antipathy that is also overwhelmingly evident in media and academia). These “deplorables” — to Barack Obama they are “bitter clingers” — were, however, once seen as the heartwood of the American nation. (In any purely practical sense, they still are.)

We read:

It is symptomatic that the leader of one of the two historic governing parties of that country, who as a Presidential candidate aspires to embody the unity of the body politic, should in the very course of attempting to convince others of her fitness for that role try to rhetorically DISMEMBER the corporate body of society, to proclaim that one of that body’s own organs- once by standard rhetorical convention exalted in political speech as the very “backbone of society”- is so much irredeemable social refuse deserving not only to be cast out of the social body, but regarded as as an anti-national element (“they are not America”).

This is worrisome:

Without wanting to lapse into alarmist dudgeon here, an appraisal of the nature and history of the modern State strongly suggests that, when a given social group is identified by elite political and ideological functionaries as an irredeemable anti-national element- viz. objectively dangerous to the State- a social process has already been set into motion that may not end well for that group, and that working-class Whites would do well to continue to cling to their guns, as the acting President of the USA has depicted them as doing.

Is this a question of class? If so, it’s not an ordinary one:

The upper classes … can be expected to sneer down their blue noses at the Great Unwashed at least a little bit. But it’s quite another thing for those classes — in any society tasked with the duty of care of the social whole — to propose that the plebs should collectively be regarded as altogether beyond the pale. In the West right now, elites are not only doing exactly that, but as though to add insult to injury seek in one and the same stroke to incorporate hordes of various migrants, who are often there illegally, and in any case exhaustively foreign (by birth, race, language, nationality, culture, and religion), as valued members of society while reducing the indigenous organic working class to the status of illegal aliens at best- and enemy nationals at worst- in their own country.

DS argues that this is better understood not as a matter of class, but of caste. This is a key insight (and one with which well-read NRx’ers will be familiar):

In order to grasp the meaning and significance of this class war from above, we need to go beyond the Marxian concept of class to the much deeper phenomenon of caste, as the bedrock social division of any Indo-European civilization past or present. [Mencius] Moldbug was on to something perhaps greater than he intended when he famously proposed that certain dynamics of contemporary American society could be profitably redescribed through ancient Hindu terminology. Caste not only provides a fresh perspective on current events, but in some cases, the only truly adequate one.

Analyzed in light of caste, the true bottom-line comes into view, as follows. It is well-known that, in modern society, politics takes over the place and function of religion as the privileged centre of social integration and thus as the dominant force that bears upon every aspect of life. Just as pre-Modern society found its all-encompassing unity in e.g. the “mystical body of Christ”, so Modern society finds its own unity in the “artificial person” of Hobbes’ political Leviathan, which aggregates a mass of isolate individual atoms into a single social organism. The State is co-extensive with society and defines its boundaries, just as religion once was.

The society in which religion is the dominant force always sets a certain bar of purity where its rites and rituals are concerned, and accordingly banishes from the ritual community individuals, and whole categories of individuals, deemed indelibly polluted, degraded, and corrupt, such that their very presence in the midst of public worship would be contaminating to the point of desecrating the proceedings. This vile condition typically accrues by, variously, work deemed unclean and debased, contracting certain types of disease, eating foods prohibited by dietary rules, miscegenation, infamous dereliction of morals or social duty, or ritual performance and utterance that is inexcusably incompetent or derelict.

The effort, in present American society, to banish an entire subset of the citizenry from the political community is clearly analogous to the older form of ritual exclusion. In this light, there can no longer be any doubt concerning the meaning of phrases like “basket of deplorables” in elite political discourse, with its image of a garbage bin filled with White people (cf. “White trash”) who fully deserve to have been discarded there: the elite is attempting to debase the White working class to the status of an untouchable caste, a new chandala for the secular 21st century milieu.

What is the cause of this “coming apart”? It is tempting to imagine that it is due to the widening gulf between the types of work the two castes do, but that explanation, while not wrong, still falls short:

Intuitively, it would appear that the cause lies in working-class involvement with industrial, construction, or agricultural labour increasingly further and further removed from the horizon of upper or even middle-class experience, and in the process come to be thought of by the latter classes as indelibly dirty and degrading. This is only partially true; the elite does not propose that other socially tenuous castes e.g. lower-class Blacks or Latinos deserve to be completely kicked out of society for doing those and other still more menial forms of work (the very opposite is true, to say the very least). Thus the Marxian hypothesis that predicts an exact correspondence between one’s place in the labour process and social status doesn’t exactly pan out here.

No, it is a question of a breach of ritual, an insufficient deference to what is sacred in our new secular ekklesia (I have bolded what I think are two especially important passages):

It is rather to ritual itself — more accurately, its secular and political functional equivalent — that we have to look. Mrs. Clinton made that absolutely clear; the White working-class deplorables, and their political speaker, Donald Trump, are deplorable because they either out of ignorance or willfully break with good ritual form and decorum as defined by the protocols of what is known in popular parlance, and with exact sociological precision, as political correctness…

In most societies, public ritual and its exactitudes do not concern the labouring castes, who on an a priori basis are deemed incompetent to perform it, and are quite content to leave this area to the priestly and other superior castes. In the West, this sociological default setting began to change, over the course of the past several centuries, with:

the rise of Protestantism, in which each worshiper takes an active part in the proceedings on a more or less equal footing as part of the universal priesthood, and is held to the same, exactingly high, standard of conduct

— the rise of mandatory universal and standardized education

— finally, the rise of democratic notions of citizenship, according to which each citizen has both the legal right and ethical obligation to stay abreast of public affairs, to vote according to his conscience and interest, and above all, to speak freely on all subjects (“civic participation”).

The “democratic” ideal of a mass of standardized citizens collectively making decisions on an individualistic and egalitarian basis is, of course, a Utopian fancy that has not been realized anywhere and will not be. Our societies continue to be vertically organized according to a caste hierarchy, and the governing castes continue to define the standards of public protocol, decorum, and good form. What democratic ideology does succeed at doing, though, is seriously undermining the social authority of the governing castes on the one hand, and on the other hand conscripting working-class participation in affairs in which their input may clash dramatically with the expected standards set by the higher castes.

How does this have a uniquely delaminating effect in a democratic, and ostensibly egalitarian society, as compared to more firmly stratified ones? Pay attention here, because this is another innate liability of doctrinal egalitarianism (and by extension, democracy itself):

The net result with respect to political correctness is as follows. Where the right to pronounce sacred words, and the corresponding obligation to hold one’s conduct to the highest standards of moral and ritual purity, would by civilizational default be jealously reserved to the highest castes, today each citizen is expected to do his part to Celebrate Diversity, Ban Bossy, be an LGBT Ally, and so on like that. This means mastering, and then publicly repeating, words like “systemic racism”, “misogyny”, “White privilege”, etc.

The working class, as a group, sometimes runs into problems with this sort of thing, which is foreign to the overall working-class horizon of lived experience and likely to be rejected by a greater or lesser number of its members accordingly.

In other words, the strain occurs when modes of speech and thought are imposed on people for whom they are simply not believable. And why aren’t they? Because they collide with reality in ways that the caste doing the imposing does not personally experience (I have bolded another key passage here):

The typical early-adulthood bourgeois experience starts with attending University. There the student learns the correct cant from the source, and is rewarded for repeating it. He then goes on to take a white-collar job, where the exact measurement of his productive output is difficult or altogether impossible, and where in any case proven mastery of this or that form of correct ritual jargon will be a criterion of his fitness for assuming a management role. Once again, he is rewarded for repeating, in the presence of superiors, cant he need not actually understand, and which likely has no precise denotation in any case.

The working-class experience is different. The blue-collar youth is much more likely to enter the workforce immediately, or following completion of vocational training. In any case, whatever technical terminology he learns does have a precise technical denotation that must be understood in order to carry out practical operations whose success or failure will have productive consequences immediately and transparently known to everybody in the work process. (N.B. much the same set of considerations can also go for University-educated STEM personnel, especially engineers- who, to the extent that this is the case, really comprise part of the working-class, notwithstanding that both the salaries and social prestige attached to these positions are often very high).

The bourgeois youth acquires, both by training and experience, a “postmodern” worldview in which there is no objective reality worth worrying about, and pleasing superiors in positions of power- which means telling them the things they want to hear- is what really counts. Use of language, for him, is thus primarily a matter of social, i.e. ritual and magical, efficacy. His working-class counterpart, who bears the weight of objective reality on his shoulders the live-long day as though Atlas, primarily uses language that has a direct connection to material reality, exerts its effects by direct action on material reality as opposed to acting on social reality from a distance, and thus has mechanical as opposed to magical efficacy. This individual naturally regards the postmodern attitude with scorn, those who use magical language as untrustworthy charlatans, those who are socially but not mechanically efficacious as effeminate, and ritual cant with skepticism, if not open derision.

Those for whom words and ideas are generally much more than social utilities empty of substantive contents, but have serious practical implications, are also that much more likely to think the practical implications of politically-correct cant all the way through, and to ask certain critical questions: What would happen to society if polymorphous perversity became the rule? Why are all White people evil, or all straight men “misogynist”, because some of them are? Am I not in a certain existential danger for being a straight White male, now that all of us are collectively impugned? Meanwhile, none of this even occurs to the postmodern mindset- after all, the practical nuts-and-bolts of things are somebody else’s job to worry about.

Last but not least, the working-class guy is more likely, especially if from a geographical area in which industry/resource-extraction and/or agriculture is prevalent in the economy, and/or from a small community with relatively high social cohesion, to already have traditional values, regularly attend church, and so on, and so find the ultra-Leftist content of PC cant to be utterly odious and depraved from a moral point of view to begin with.

The potential for fairly serious social friction in all this is obvious.

That “potential for serious social friction” is an equally serious understatement; the potential is becoming actual all around us in these darkening times.

Go and read the whole thing, here. Then, if you like, we can discuss.

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Pussy, Ariot

This is where we’ve got to.

Rules For Radicals

Bil Vallicella comments here on the selectivity of Democrat outrage over Donald Trump’s hot-mike remarks. The gist:

The insight is that the Left uses our decency, which they don’t believe in, against us, mendaciously feigning moral outrage at what doesn’t outrage them at all. (Cf. Saul Alinsky’s RULE 4: “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.”)

Be sure to read the other items linked to in the post — in particular this piece by Heather Mac Donald.

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Round Two

Tonight we have the second debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Before watching you might like to read Diplomad’s thoughts, which are generally the same as my own.

In response to anyone who is on the fainting couch over the latest peek into Donald Trump’s character, and can’t imagine how anyone could vote for such a man (and this includes some of my own friends and family), I will paraphrase my own comments, from an earlier thread:

There is not a single person (that I’m aware of, anyway) voting for Donald Trump who doesn’t already know that he is a deeply unattractive candidate. I’m not here to defend Donald Trump against the many valid criticisms that can be raised against him. He is in many ways a grotesque and unsophisticated man. He’s a vain and preening popinjay, an unlettered boor of low tastes, and far too prone to bullying and childish insults. We can now add juvenile sexual bluster to that list of shortcomings.

Sadly, however, either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be our next president. That’s it; it’s that simple. It’s a horrible choice to have to make, but to me, and to million of other Americans, the decision is painfully clear. No tasteless remarks the press may dig up between now and November will change it; the ickiness of Donald Trump is already fully “baked in”.

I, and millions of others, believe that for all of Donald Trump’s obvious faults, the focused and ruthless malevolence of the Clintons is by any measure worse — by orders of magnitude — and that a Hillary Clinton presidency would be a catastrophe from which the traditional American nation, already gravely wounded, would never recover. That woman must never be president. She and her husband must never again wield the levers of political power in this nation.

If you are like many people I know in my deep-blue circle of friends and neighbors, you don’t agree with any of this, and the chance of persuading you otherwise is nil. We have, then, an intractable difference of opinion, and any conversation we might have about it will be completely unproductive.

All I can say at this point is: these are parlous times. You vote as your conscience demands, and I will do the same.

*

 
Post-debate note: Trump was strong, and punched hard. It was what he needed to do. He owned his lewd remarks. He rightly pointed out that the Clintons have no claim whatsoever to the moral high ground when it comes to treatment of women. The hot-mike tape will now recede into the distance. He also put the income-tax issue behind him with brusque effectiveness, and was cheered by the audience for saying that Hillary Clinton belongs in jail. (Which she does.)

This isn’t over yet.

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Bear-Baiting

From this morning’s NightWatch:

Russia-US-Syria: Russian relations with the US over Syria continue to worsen.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said on 6 October, “Let me remind the so-called US strategists that the air cover for the Russian military bases in Hmeimim and Tartus is provided by S-400 and S-300 surface-to-air missile systems, whose range may come as a surprise to any unidentified flying objects.”

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova accused the West of protecting the al-Nusra Front. She said at a briefing, “So far we see in the actions of Western countries, first of all, not a concern about the humanitarian situation in Syria but a desire to protect Al-Nusra fighters and the forces and groups of fighters affiliated to them. To be even franker, not just to protect them but directly get them away from harm’s way.”

Comment: The statement by General Konashenkov apparently is a pre-emptive response to press reports that the US is considering approving air attacks against Syrian government forces. His response is a dare. The message is that the Russians will shoot first at long distance.

We are playing a very dangerous game here. There is no realistic path that ends in ousting Assad that does not pass through direct combat with Russia. Moreover, even the goal is a foolish one. What do we imagine would take his place?

I must also note the shameful hypocrisy of weeping for Syria’s people (and using it as a pretext for importing millions of them to the West) while having done everything possible to maintain a rough balance of power in this civil war, thereby prolonging it for years — during which time that miserable nation, and the innocent lives of millions of its people, have been blasted to rubble. Had we not stepped in to “help”, the thing would have been over in weeks or months, cities and antiquities now completely destroyed would still be standing, and the chaos of tribalism and jihad would not have had this vacuum to occupy. Whatever you may say about Bashar Assad, it should be obvious to even the most causal observer that life under his rule was better for most people — incomparably so — than life in Syria now. His regime may have been an affliction, but our efforts to cure it have killed the patient. Chaos is death.

A more enlightened worldview would see Russia — a great Christian nation, and one that has made priceless contributions to the treasure-store of Western civilization — as a natural ally in these perilous times. We have much in common, including ancient, existential enemies who gloat to see us fighting with with each other rather than uniting against them. Yet our stance toward Russia has been relentlessly bellicose, with our support of the Ukrainian revolution, and our actions in Syria, being only the most obvious examples.

One might imagine that, standing as we do upon the crumbling lip of a very dark abyss, and with such enlightened statesmen in charge, we would now move cautiously. One would be mistaken.

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Got Me!

Just now I put up a post linking to a Washington Post article about simulated violence in football.

“Not parody”, I said, and mocked its author.

I’ve changed my mind, and taken down the post. The article is parody — well done, and richly deserved.

A good example of Poe’s Law, either way.

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It’s Turtles All The Way Down

In yesterday’s post, I wrote:

It’s foolish to romanticize the past, to yearn for a Golden Age that in many ways was never so golden at all, and anyway can never return. But it is equally foolish — indeed, far more so — to revile and reject and discard it all, to imagine that in the world’s long history, the present, radically disruptive era is the first and only flowering of understanding and moral truth. This juvenile and hubristic presentism, this temporal solipsism, it seems to me, is obviously and utterly false, yet it is now hegemonic in our cultural institutions.

I posed this question as the most important of all for serious reactionaries:

How do we harmonize the wisdom of the past with the unprecedented human context of the present, and of the accelerating and onrushing future? What do we keep, what do we discard, and what must we create?

A day later, over the transom came a link to a new item from Thomas Barghest, over at Social Matter. In a long walk backward through time, he finds evidence of prior decay in every era of history (and I mean every era). It’s as if the history of life on Earth were a narrative version of the famous (and unspeakably gloomy) Shepard Tone.

Mr. Barghest’s conclusion:

The poor history above, far from being ‘more rigorously’ reactionary, is a parody of progressives’ frequent inability to recognize that reaction is not simply a belief in contemporary degeneration and a hatred of everything too new.

Reactionaries must be, rather, good judges of both past and present: we know that most mutations are deleterious and that innovation is not an unalloyed good, but also that mutation is the engine of evolution and that even our oldest, fondest traditions were once innovations far back in forgotten time.

As I’ve written before, reaction is also not a celebration of stasis; reactionary order is organic harmony, adaptation, and civilization. Stasis is in conflict with the God or Nature of the world and therefore disordered, just as surely as pessimism is. So we do not long for fixed, historical, perfect Golden Age societies, only aspirational, mythical ones or ones that we’re willing to acknowledge had foundations destined to crumble. If we model the myths after our ancestors—well, we remember how to love what is best in our fathers without denying their faults.

In the meantime, we have no illusions that history is either endless progress, endless decay, or an endless cycle. It is not just a long rise followed by a recent fall. And God forbid we satisfy ourselves, instead, with a sophomoric spiral! The histories of civilizations and institutions show progress, decay, stagnation, and cycles, but also branching, collision, annihilation, hybridization, and much more. There are more dimensions, edges, and twists to history than there are grains of sand on the beaches of Normandy, Hispaniola, and Lake Kinneret.

We study history, we learn from it, we judge the good and bad. And when there is degeneration, we condemn it, but when there is glory, we praise that also.

Amen. Read the whole thing here.

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Service Notice

Late this morning our previous post attracted a sudden flurry of distasteful comments. I don’t usually moderate comments — life is too short — so I’ve just removed all comments from that post and shut it down.

I’ve generally been very fortunate in this regard. I flirt with serious heresy here sometimes, and so far I haven’t attracted a plague of trolls. Unlike most people who blog about the things I do, I write under my own name, and although I’ve reached a point in my life where I am not as vulnerable to the most serious consequences of crimethink, I nevertheless have friends and acquaintances who read this blog from time to time, and I have a family (and yes, a personal reputation) to think of. It’s one thing to examine uncomfortable questions, or to push back against propaganda and falsehood; it is quite another to revel in viciousness and needless provocation. Given how electrified these topics are today, and how fraught with terrible history and the darkest of human emotions, it is no sign of timidity to handle them with care and clarity. It is also important to remember always that even when considering the grimmest and most unfortunate realities of human nature and human affairs, the subject, ultimately, concerns human beings — real people, who live and breathe and love and hope and suffer and bleed, just as you and I do. If we lose sight of that in all of this, then we become, in a vitally important moral sense, less human ourselves.

My aim in thinking and writing on these topics is focused only on a better understanding of a few critical questions:

What best fosters and encourages human flourishing?

Why have things seemed to have gone so astray in the modern world, despite obvious advances in material well-being?

What truths of our nature do we deny at our peril?

It’s foolish to romanticize the past, to yearn for a Golden Age that in many ways was never so golden at all, and anyway can never return. But it is equally foolish — indeed, far more so — to revile and reject and discard it all, to imagine that in the world’s long history, the present, radically disruptive era is the first and only flowering of understanding and moral truth. This juvenile and hubristic presentism, this temporal solipsism, it seems to me, is obviously and utterly false, yet it is now hegemonic in our cultural institutions. To me, then, the most clamant question of our time is:

How do we harmonize the wisdom of the past with the unprecedented human context of the present, and of the accelerating and onrushing future? What do we keep, what do we discard, and what must we create?

It’s very easy, especially as we watch our society coming apart both here and abroad, just to choose up sides and focus on the fray. Certainly that’s what we see all around us; it’s just human nature. As Mencken said: “Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”

I feel that temptation very strongly, and yes, I yield to it sometimes. I’m a fighting man — and the stakes are high, and the crisis very nearly upon us. My own language here is often barely temperate. But it is also essential that some of us, while we still can, be not only warriors, but philosophers; that we seek not blood, but wisdom. When the tempest is upon us, it will be too late.

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P. P. P.

When the Rachel Dolezal story popped up in June of 2015 (if you’re fortunate enough to have forgotten this one, she was a “black” activist who turned out, embarrassingly, not to be black at all), I wrote a little post about real versus fictional privilege. An excerpt:

Once upon a time, people of mixed race did everything they could to “pass” as white. No longer. The mulatto Barack Obama ostentatiously identifies himself as black, while pallid Elizabeth Warren listed herself in the legal and academic community as a “Native American”.

Another sign of this inversion of privilege is that membership in groups considering themselves ‘oppressed’ is as tightly restricted as an exclusive country-club, and for the same reasons. No sooner had the news about Ms. Dolezal came out than she was denounced as a scurrilous pretender to victimhood. But people only defend what has value. In a right-side-up world, no sane person would ever bother fighting to keep others from seeking low status — but they will do whatever it takes to wall off their privileges against unqualified pretenders.

To sum all this up, I offered Pollack’s Principle of Privilege:

To learn where true privilege lies, simply see how people choose to identify themselves.

Now we learn that the Obama administration has proposed giving a newly favored (and rapidly increasing) demographic bloc with a handy way to avoid the increasingly repugnant stain of Whiteness: a new racial category — called MENA — just for people of Middle Eastern and North African extraction.

Steve Sailer comments here.

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Alt-Right, or Wrong?

There’s a lively discussion on the “alt-right” underway over at The Maverick Philosopher, if you’d like to have a look.

Rut-roh

Given the, shall we say, somewhat imperfect blessing that mass Muslim settlement in the West has turned out to be, there’s been some ruction in certain “deplorable” quarters over the President’s unilateral action to admit unvettable Middle Eastern individuals to the U.S. in large and increasing numbers. “On what authority?“, some folks wonder.

Well, with a hat-tip to the blogger known as “Porter“, I can answer the question for you: on the authority of Section 207(a)(2) of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 [8 U.S.C. 1157], which says (my emphasis):

Except as provided in subsection (b), the number of refugees who may be admitted under this section in any fiscal year after fiscal year 1982 shall be such number as the President determines, before the beginning of the fiscal year and after appropriate consultation, is justified by humanitarian concerns or is otherwise in the national interest.

For broader context, see our previous post.

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After The Republic

It’s September, and the lovely fall weather is here. Feeling refreshed and optimistic? Well, snap out of it. Need some help with that? This jeremiad, by the distinguished scholar Angelo Codevilla, ought to do the trick.

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And The Ball Comes Loose!

If you are able to achieve the detachment necessary to view politics as a spectator sport (no easy trick, when the existential stakes are so high), then one of its most entertaining features, for those of us up here in the cheap seats, is what has come to be called “narrative collapse”. It affects the Left with gratifying regularity, and would be the political equivalent of a fumble or a pass-interception, save for the fact that it never seems to cost them any points. (This is largely due to who reports the sporting news.)

If you are a savvy fan, you can see it coming nearly every time. Take, for example, the recent shooting of a Mr. Scott, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Early reports were that he was unarmed — better yet, that he was holding a book. The assumption was that his shooting was yet another example of endemic racism, and on the strength of this “narrative”, the lovely city of Charlotte suffered days of rioting. White people (including news reporters) were beaten, stores were looted, property destroyed. There were injuries and at least one death. The usual people made, for the usual audience, the usual denouncements of white America.

It was all just too good to be true, of course. Mr. Scott, it turns out, had been shot by a black police officer, not a white one, and he had been carrying not a book, but a gun.

“Narrative collapse”. Expect to hear a lot less about the events in Charlotte going forward. (You’ll still hear plenty about evil racism, of course — so as usual, the turnover won’t affect the score.)

So here’s another one. Did you watch the Presidential debate the other day? If so, you may recall Mrs. Clinton castigating Donald Trump for remarking unkindly upon the character of one Alicia Machado, a Venezuelan muchacha who had won a beauty pageant he’d been in charge of. Mr. Trump, it seems, had complained that after her victory, la belleza had quickly become una balena, which was bad for business. Mrs. Clinton scored a point at the debate by announcing that not only had the injured and virtuous Ms. Machado decided to enrich all of our lives by becoming a citizen of the United States, but that she would also be voting for Mrs. Clinton. Zing!

Alas, the toothsome Ms. Machado has quickly become more of a liability than an asset for Mrs. Clinton, it seems, as there is more to her “narrative” than the former First Lady might have realized. The blogger “Libertybelle” has the skinny.

Maybe we’ll pick up some yardage on this one. Probably not. Now where’s that hot-dog guy?

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Rise And Fall

Here’s a fine animation showing the expansions and contractions of religions and empires over the past two thousand years.

Our Wonderful Future

I actually watched the debate tonight (my plans for a far more enjoyable evening, which included a body-cavity search by the TSA and stepping on a nail, having fallen through at the last moment).

I’d give it to the team of Lester Holt and Hillary Clinton. They worked well together, and Mr. Trump was on defense most of the evening. He was good on some topics, rambling and unfocused on many others, and woefully bad at pressing Mrs. Clinton when the opportunity arose. How, for example, could he listen to her lecture us about cybersecurity without hammering on her own willful and utterly unforgivable laxity? How could he let her take him to task as beholden to questionable influences without bringing up the Clintons’ obscene pay-for-play empire? How could he let her paint him as an abuser of women without mentioning her casual destruction of so many women in the defense of sexual predators, including the Rapist-In-Chief? These are not difficult targets, and would have inflicted richly deserved pain. What gives?

To the credit of her medical team, Mrs. Clinton remained upright and conscious throughout; her eyes generally pointed in the same direction, and she did not cough up an alveolus. (It’s a low bar, yes, but she sailed over it.)

Nobody should underestimate her. She is, after all, a Clinton: a tough, smart, experienced and utterly ruthless politician, deeply accustomed to power. Her eyes glitter at the nearness of the ultimate prize. Behind her are an enormous political, business, and media machine, an ocean of money, and the support, though often tepid, of many millions of Americans (including many of my friends and family). She will not go gently into that good night.

Anyway, what a pleasure to watch two such inspiring candidates cross hands in thoughtful debate! Can’t wait to see how the next few years are going to go.

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Sunday Sermonette

Just a couple of links to get the ball rolling on this busy Sunday: first, a pungent jeremaid by Lewis Amselem, a.k.a. Diplomad (nothing we haven’t all been saying, really, but a fine summary of where matters stand), and then John Schindler with a retrospective look at the F.B.I’s role in Mrs. Clinton’s email affair.

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Scalia On A “Runaway Convention”

The idea of an Article V convention — the remedy the Framers gave the States to rein in an out-of-control Federal government by amending the Constitution without the participation of Congress — is slowly gaining support, despite the fact that most people, were you to ask them about it, still don’t even know that such a mechanism even exists.

This Constitutional provision was intended to be a panic button, the last non-violent resort of the people and the States against an overbearing Leviathan. Near the end of his life, James Madison described it thus:

Should the provisions of the Constitution as here reviewed, be found not to secure the government and rights of the states, against usurpations and abuses on the part of the United States, the final resort within the purview of the Constitution, lies in an amendment of the Constitution, according to a process applicable by the states.

It has never been used. Many fear the idea because there is no way to know what it might produce. Here are the late Antonin Scalia’s comments on that concern, given in 1979, before he was appointed to the Court.

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Our True Present Danger

Adam Walinsky, a career Democrat, has written a lucid and persuasive essay to explain why he will be voting for Donald Trump.

It begins:

I was a Democrat all my life. I came to Washington to serve President John Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy. When the president was murdered and his brother struck off on his own, I joined his Senate campaign and staff as his legislative assistant and speechwriter, until his presidential campaign ended with his own assassination. I ran on a (losing) Democratic ticket in the New York state elections of 1970. When I was working to enact my own program of police reform in the 1980s and 1990s, then-Governor Bill Clinton was chairman of my National Committee for the Police Corps.

This year, I will vote to elect Donald Trump as president of the United States.

So profound a change, and a decent respect for old friendships, requires me to deliver a public accounting for this decision.

Here it is.

I won’t quote the rest. You should go and read it all yourself.

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That Time Of Year Again

Tomorrow will be the first day of autumn, my favorite season. Here’s a musing on the topic from ten years ago.

Tell Us How You Really Feel

I do enjoy a good polemic every now and then, and Kevin D. Williamson has “the knack”. Here he is today on IRS commisioner John Koskinen:

Every day this crime-enabling, justice-obstructing, lying, craven, tinpot totalitarian walks around in the sunshine is a day we should be ashamed to be Americans.

More here.

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Remains Of The Day

We’ve mentioned the mysterious “Antikythera Mechanism” before (see here and here). Now divers have found a human skeleton, probably containing intact DNA, at the shipwreck site.

Story here. (See also this story, suggesting that the device was already old when it was lost at sea.)

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Dancing With The Bear

Here’s NightWatch‘s John McCreary on the Syrian aid-convoy incident:

Syria-UN: The UN suspended aid convoys in Syria after the air attacks against the aid convoy on the 19th. “As an immediate security measure, other convoy movements in Syria have been suspended for the time being, pending further assessment of the security situation,” a UN spokesman said.

US-Russia: US officials blamed Russia for the attacks. Two US officials said that two Russian Su-24 fighter bombers were in the skies above the aid convoy at the exact time it was struck late on Monday.

Russian Defense Ministry’s official spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said the Russians studied video provided by Syrian opposition “activists.” They saw no evidence of craters or of damage patterns consistent with bombs delivered by or rockets fired from aircraft.

Konashenkov said the attack on the aid convoy occurred in the same area at the same time as an offensive by the al Nusra Front. The damage they observed was damage by ground ordnance that started fires. A later report said a rebel truck with a heavy weapon in its bed was responsible for the attack on the convoy.

Konashenkov said, “Neither Russian nor Syrian aviation has carried out any air strikes against a UN humanitarian convoy on the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo. Furthermore, since the convoy’s route lay through territories under militants’ control, the Russian center for reconciliation of opposing sides in Syria yesterday monitored it from drones.”

Konashenkov also said that at about 1340 Moscow time [1040 GMT] on Monday, 19 September, the whole of the humanitarian cargo had been safely delivered. After that the Russian center for reconciliation of opposing sides in Syria stopped monitoring the convoy.

“The Russian side did not monitor the convoy’s further movement. All information about the convoy’s whereabouts was known only to the militants controlling that area,” he said.

Comment: The exchange of accusations is a study in the uses of intelligence as evidence. The US accusations of Russian responsibility are based on circumstantial evidence: the proximity of the aircraft. Correlation of aircraft with the convoy location is not evidence the aircraft attacked, only that they were in the area.

The US case would have been helped by testing the evidence. Unasked questions include whether the Russian aircraft were positively identified; their altitude; whether they had ordnance loaded; whether they were heading towards the Russian air base at Hmeimim or heading away from the base; and at least a half dozen other evidentiary tests that could have strengthened or refuted the US accusation.

In presenting their case, the Russians said they studied ground video provided by activists, thereby inviting independent corroboration. They also described their analytical method — what they were looking for and what they saw — and their conclusions, which can be easily checked against the video.

They went beyond the attack to describe information available in their control center, which also can be checked independently. Statements that can be checked independently constitute admissions against Russia’s interest if it were culpable. Such open admissions establish a prima facie basis for probity and invite the accuser to do his homework and accept the invitation to check out the Russian evidence.

For us, the most interesting and important points of the denial defense are the way the Russians made a case for a totally different explanation for the damage. They not only denied the US accusations, they raised questions about the competence of US intelligence by implying that it missed the real cause of the damage – a ground action initiated by the al Nusra Front terrorists.

The US has not commented on the Russian evidence.

Following the killing of 62 Syrian soldiers by US air attacks on the 18th, the Russians are hammering the issue of incompetent US intelligence analysis. The Russians may be expected to attack every judgment based on inferences made by US intelligence to show the US cannot be trusted to distinguish battle damage by a ground attack from an air attack.

Concerning a resumption of the ceasefire
, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the truce could only resume if terrorists stopped attacking government forces. “The hope that the ceasefire in Syria will be reinstated is very little now.”

Comment: Peskov’s statement indicates that the Russians now back the position of the Syrian government that the ceasefire has ended.

See also Stephen Cohen’s latest commentary on our relations with Russia, here. Among other things, he asks:  “Why is the war party so adamantly opposed to any cooperation with Russia anywhere in the world when it is so manifestly in US interests, as in Syria?”

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How Do You Solve A Problem Like The Alt-Right?

Milo Yiannopoulos explains. (He’s happy to do so, because he knows the Left won’t take his advice.)

An excerpt:

As well as jokes, there’s something else that establishment elites need to stop demonizing as racism: national pride. During the 2015 election in England, a left-wing candidate for parliament called people who fly the English flag “simpletons and casual racists.” And this is nothing compared to some of the things said by university academics about displays of national pride.

The globalist elites, who assemble in places like Dubai, Davos, and whatever unfortunate country hosts the Bilderberg Conference, don’t have a nation.

Whether they’re from Istanbul, London, or Beijing, global elites tend to dress the same, act the same, talk the same, and think the same. They look at what’s different and unique about their home countries, and squirm in embarrassment.

We don’t.

If you want to draw people away from the alt-right, this has to stop. If you want to identify with the jet setting, cosmopolitan, nationless elite, that’s fine. I like being rich and powerful too.

But stop looking down on people who want to stay true to their roots, and remember the national values and traditions that made our progressive, globalized civilization possible. Because for every national flag you take down to replace it with the faceless and sinister logo of the European Union, the International Olympics Committee or the United Nations, ten more will fly upwards in protest.

This is what and who we are.

Leftists will insist that racism underpins national pride, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Most members of the alt-right, even the serious ones, will agree that they want everyone to have national pride, not just western countries.

And they’re right — the instinct for belonging, for a sense of common identity, is universal. The global elite’s foolish quest to suppress this instinct is one of the reasons why the alt right, as well as the populist nationalist right, have gained so much ground so quickly.

Like him or not, Mr. Yiannopoulos is an astute observer, and understands the Alt-Right better than anyone in the media punditocracy. (Better too, I’m afraid, than our friend Bill Vallicella, who in a highly uncharacteristic lapse of discernment, reduced the movement to Nazism.) Read Milo’s speech here.

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Truth To Power

With a hat-tip to our e-pal Bill Keezer, here’s an old piece by the late Christopher Hitchens, in which he recounts his filing of an affidavit swearing that the Clintons had sought to smear and discredit Monica Lewinski.

It’s a fine example of Hitchens’ style — how I miss him! — and is well worth your time. It also contains this marvelous summary of Clintonism, as apt today as it was in 1999:

I had become utterly convinced, as early as the 1992 campaign, that there was something in the Clinton makeup that was quite seriously nasty. The automatic lying, the glacial ruthlessness, the self-pity, the indifference to repeated exposure, the absence of any tincture of conscience or remorse, the awful piety—these were symptoms of a psychopath. And it kept on getting worse and worse—but not for Clinton himself, who could usually find a way of sacrificing a subordinate and then biting his lip in the only gesture of contrition he had learned to master. (After reading the testimony of Juanita Broaddrick, I’ll never be able to think of his lip biting in the same way again. But no doubt Arthur Schlesinger will be on hand to assure us that all men lie about rape.)

For more of Hitchens on the Clinton machine, read his book No One Left To Lie To. These people should never be allowed anywhere near the levers of power ever again.

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All Power Rests In Belief

The American author Lionel Shriver recently gave a keynote speech at a writers festival in Brisbane, Australia. Rather than give the talk she had advertised, she decided to say a few words about the victimological specialty known as “cultural appropriation”. She denounced and anathematized it root and branch, and said, very clearly and correctly, that it would be the death of literature. This provoked a storm of outrage and abuse.

Best of all, by the way, Ms. Shriver delivered her remarks wearing a sombrero. (I think I ‘m in love.)

You can read about the event here. (See also this related item.)

The transcript of Ms. Shriver’s talk is here. An excerpt:

The author of Who Owns Culture? Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law, Susan Scafidi, a law professor at Fordham University who for the record is white, defines cultural appropriation as “Taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission. This can include unauthorized use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc.”

What strikes me about that definition is that “without permission” bit.

However are we fiction writers to seek “permission” to use a character from another race or culture, or to employ the vernacular of a group to which we don’t belong? Do we set up a stand on the corner and approach passers-by with a clipboard, getting signatures that grant limited rights to employ an Indonesian character in Chapter Twelve, the way political volunteers get a candidate on the ballot?

How indeed? But even if it were possible, the very idea that culture is somehow property, and that anyone alive needs anyone else’s permission to write or eat or think or say or wear whatever the hell he likes, should be beneath the contempt of serious adults.

We must remember always that those who seek to silence and control us have only the power that we choose to give them. In this case, even to say “who the HELL do you think you are??” — a perfectly fair question, under the circumstances — is to pay too much attention; the very idea of “cultural appropriation” is one that should simply be ignored.

“The dog barks, the caravan passes.” The choice is entirely ours.

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Bête Noire

I’m a bit of a stickler for language. One common locution that’s been bothering me, ever since I started noticing it a few years ago, is the habit of news reporters to use the word “after” when they mean “when”. (Now that I’ve pointed it out, you’ll start noticing it too, and you’ll see how common it is.)

Here’s a randomly selected example. The news story begins:

The Hawaii official who verified and released President Barack Obama’s birth certificate has died in a plane crash, authorities said… Fuddy, 65, was the only one killed…

All well and good. But the caption accompanying a photo of the unfortunate Ms. Fuddy says :

Fuddy was killed after a small plane with nine people aboard crashed into the water off the Hawaiian island of Molokai Dec. 11, 2013.

Don’t know why, but this sort of thing really bothers me.

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Back To Business!

Well, I’m back from Star Island. The musical weekend was a blast, even though a few of us — for example, our keyboard whiz Ray — had last-minute conflicts that kept them from coming. We carried on undaunted, nevertheless, and had a splendid time.

I must say that after having had, what with our Vienna trip and all, an exceptionally long break from blogging this summer, getting back into form may take me a few days. Writing regularly is a discipline like any other, and I’ve rather let myself go these past few months. (It’s been awfully nice, though, to pay almost no attention to the news.)

Things are certainly getting lively on the campaign trail. It’s especially gratifying to see Mrs. Clinton failing to open a lead over her opponent: the abundant exposure of Clintonian venality by email leaks, together with various gaffes, disinformation about her obviously failing health, and some excellent speeches by Mr. Trump, have tightened things up considerably. The way things are going, we “deplorables” may even dare to believe that, despite the best efforts of her Praetorian guard in the media, she might actually lose.

It’s also amusing to see Mr. Obama (or “that man”, as the Clintons call him), stumping so earnestly for Mrs. Clinton. It’s no secret that they, to put it mildly, don’t like each other — and while he’s been out selling her like a used car, the Clintons have been talking about the “awful legacy of the past eight years”, and generally saying how bad things have been lately. Mainly, though, it warms my shriveled right-wing heart to see this awful woman desperately trying to “power through” to November 8th, and finding it heavier and heavier slogging week by week. May God, and an awakening traditional American polity, confound at last her vile ambitions.

So, I’ll do some catching up, and start flexing some atrophied muscles. Meanwhile, though, with the “Alt Right” securely in the spotlight thanks to Mrs. Clinton’s baleful speech of a few weeks ago, I’ll direct you to the transcript of the latest Radio Derb for one man’s take on what the term refers to. (You will also get a brilliant insight from “Theodore Dalrymple” on the role of obvious lies in totalitarian societies — and in this one.)

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