The result is monotony and boredom

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

The Harvey Weinstein episode revealed two generational truths about Hollywood culture, Victor Davis Hanson argues:

One, the generation that gave us the free-love and the anything-goes morals of Woodstock discovered that hook-up sex was “contrary to nature.” Sexual congress anywhere, any time, anyhow, with anyone — near strangers included — is not really liberating and can often be deeply imbedded within harassment and ultimately the male degradation of women.

[...]

Two, Weinstein reminded us, especially in his eleventh-hour medieval appeals for clemency by way of PC attacks on the NRA and Donald Trump, that mixing politics with art was, as our betters warned, always a self-destructive idea.

Hollywood ran out of original thought about three decades ago, and the people noticed and so keep avoiding the theaters. How many times can a good-looking, young, green progressive crusader expose a corporate pollution plot, or battle a deranged band of southern-twangy Neanderthals, South African racists, or Russian tattooed thugs, or a deep-state CIA cabal in sunglasses and shiny suits? How many times can the nth remake of a comic-book hero be justified by updating him into a caped social-justice warrior from L.A.? Ars gratia politicorum is suicide.

The ruling generation in Hollywood is out of creative ideas mostly because it invested in political melodrama rather than human tragedy. It cannot make a Western, not just because Santa Monica’s young men long ago lost the ability to sound or act like Texans in 1880, but because its politics have no patience with the real world of noble people who are often doomed, or flawed individuals who are nevertheless defined by their best rather than worst traits, or well-meaning souls who can cause havoc, or courageous men who fight for bad causes.

Political correctness has become Maoist: All art must serve progressive struggle, defined in Hollywood as good race and gender warriors pitted against bad racists and sexists. The result is monotony and boredom. All the cleavage, flexed biceps, cheap obscenity, rap-music scores, and car crashes cannot hide that lack of an idea.

Class-struggle just didn’t work as a generator of loyalty

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

The genius of Leninism was in building a ruling class from scratch and making it cohesive by explicitly choosing people from low-status groups, Spandrell explains, ensuring they would be loyal to the party given they had much to lose:

It worked so well it was the marvel of the intellectual classes of the whole world for a hundred years.

Meanwhile, what was the West doing? The West, that diehard enemy of worldwide Communism, led by the United States. What has been the American response to Leninism? Look around you. Read Vox. Put on TV. Ok, that’s enough. Who is high status in the West today? Women. Homosexuals. Transexuals. Muslims. Blacks. There’s even movements propping up disabled and fat people. What Progressivism is running is hyper Leninism. Biological Leninism.

When Communism took over Russia and China, those were still very poor, semi-traditional societies. Plenty of semi-starved peasants around. So you could run a Leninist party just on class resentments. “Never forget class-struggle”, Mao liked to say. “Never forget you used to be a serf and you’re not one now thanks to me”, he meant.

In the West, though, by 1945, when peace and order was enforced by the United States, the economy had improved to the point where class-struggle just didn’t work as a generator of loyalty. Life was good, the proletariat could all afford a car and even vacations. Traditional society was dead, the old status-ladders based on family pedigree and land-based wealth were also dead. The West in 1960 was a wealthy, industrial meritocratic society, where status was based on one’s talent, productivity and natural ability to schmooze oneself into the ruling class.

Of course liberal politics kept being a mess. No cohesion in a ruling class which has no good incentive to stick to each other. But of course the incentive is still out there. A cohesive ruling class can monopolize power and extract rents from the whole society forever. The ghost of Lenin is always there. And so the arrow of history kept bending in Lenin’s direction. The West started to build up a Leninist power structure. Not overtly, not as a conscious plan. It just worked that way because the incentives were out there for everyone to see, and so slowly we got it. Biological Leninism. That’s the nature of the Cathedral.

[...]

The Coalition of the Fringes, Sailer calls it. It’s worse than that really. it’s the coalition of everyone who would lose status the better society were run. It’s the coalition of the bad. Literal Kakistocracy.

Their status will fall as fast as a hammer in a well

Monday, November 20th, 2017

Feudalism is a natural form of government, Spandrell notes — it’s basically transposing the hierarchy of a conquering army into peacetime — and it tends to maintain loyalty, but it doesn’t get things done. Feudalism led to absolutism, and absolutism led to liberalism:

Liberal states were strong, had armies of bureaucrats and tax revenues that feudal states could only dream of. But while they were effective, they were a mess. Feudalism is good at generating loyalty. Liberalism is awful at that. And loyalty is very important. The fundamental problem of politics is the distinction between friend and foe, said Schmitt. A friend is someone who is loyal.

The 19th century, which destroyed the Ancien Regime in Europe, was an economic and scientific golden era, but politically it was a mess. A revolution every decade, governments which lasted months, huge scandals every week. Elections were a violent and chaotic affair. If anything got done at all it was because the political chaos gave way to economic freedom, and the private sector got things done. A lot of things done. But the intellectuals weren’t cool with that. Intellectuals are always the reserve army of the bureaucracy. They want the government to get things done.

With all the scientific advances of the last centuries, the 18th and 19th century intellectuals were just brimming with excitement with all the things they could get done. All those plans of social engineering. Utopia on earth! It just seemed so feasible. And yet they could never pull it off through the political process. They just couldn’t pull it off. The politicians and bureaucrats just weren’t loyal enough. Constant factionalism and infighting made any real reform impossible.

Until Leninism, that is. Now Leninism is most likely mislabeled. Lenin did indeed found the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. But Lenin died in 1924. And the Soviet Union was still a huge mess in 1924. It was Stalin, general secretary of the CPSU since 1922 who, through the means we all know, really built the Communist Party and stabilized the Soviet government. Stalinism is used to refer to his brutal purges and his approach to criminal justice, but it would be more accurate to use Stalinism to refer to what we today call Leninism; the structure of rule of single-party Communist regimes.

Say what you will about the Soviet Union: the Communist Party was loyal. They got things done. Every crazy and stupid thing that the Politburo approved got done. Yes, it took a while to achieve that result. Stalin had to kill a lot of people. But it wasn’t through sheer terror and cruelty that the Communist Party worked. The Communist Party had a system. Which worked. It still works today in China. You might have noticed how people in the West today talk about China in these same terms. China gets things done, it does them fast and cheap. China got the world’s biggest high-speed rail system in the time that it takes to dig a tunnel in Boston. And for not that much more money. That’s not a coincidence. That’s Leninism at work.

Any country has a ruling class. What I call “loyalty” you could also call asabiya; the coherence of the ruling class as such. Their ability to stick with each other and gang up, keeping the structure of rule stable. Feudalism got that; the nobility was the ruling class, they formed a society very much separate from that of the peasants, and they took much care that their rule was never contested. The destruction of that world by enlightened liberals resulted in a ruling class which was orders of magnitude less cohesive and orderly. You might be a libertarian and think that is a good thing, and you may have a point. But any organization wants to fight entropy and ensure its stability and reproduction. Liberalism historically has shown itself incapable of that. Leninism was the first solution to that problem.

Leninism is, of course, applied socialism. Socialism was huge before Leninism was even a thing, and that Marxism was and is still popular is not due only to Soviet patronage. Socialism works by hacking the Social Calculus Module that humans have in our brains. Remember, humans care deeply about status. Status is what drives human behavior. Everybody works to achieve more status, and to avoid losing status. Socialism of course sells egalitarianism. It tells people with low status that they can get some more.

[...]

What did Lenin do? Exterminate the natural aristocracy of Russia, and build a ruling class with a bunch of low-status people. Workers, peasants, Jews, Latvians, Ukrainians. Lenin went out of his way to recruit everyone who had a grudge against Imperial Russian society. And it worked, brilliantly. The Bolsheviks, a small party who little popular support, won the civil war, and became the awesome Soviet Union. The early Soviet Union promoted minorities, women, sexual deviants, atheists, cultists and every kind of weirdo. Everybody but intelligent, conservative Russians of good families. The same happened in China, where e.g. the 5 provinces which formed the southern Mongolian steppe were joined up into “Inner Mongolia autonomous region”, what Sailer calls “consolidate and surrender”.

In Communist countries pedigree was very important. You couldn’t get far in the party if you had any little kulak, noble or landowner ancestry. Only peasants and workers were trusted. Why? Because only peasants and workers could be trusted to be loyal. Rich people, or people with the inborn traits which lead to being rich, will always have status in any natural society. They will always do alright. That’s why they can be trusted; the stakes are never high for them. If anything they’d rather have more freedom to realize their talents. People of peasant stock though, they came from the dredges of society. They know very well that all they have was given to them by the party. And so they will be loyal to the death, because they know it, if the Communist regime falls, their status will fall as fast as a hammer in a well. And the same goes for everyone else, especially those ethnic minorities.

A classical historian assesses World War II

Sunday, November 19th, 2017

Thomas Ricks picked up Victor Davis Hanson’s The Second World Wars with some trepidation, because the subject was outside Hanson’s area of expertise:

To my surprise, I found it lively and provocative, full of the kind of novel perceptions that can make a familiar subject interesting again. It wouldn’t make a good introduction to World War II, but it may win readers already familiar with the conflict’s events.

Much of the book is written at the level of the strategic overview. Hanson notes, for instance, that both Germany and Japan probably would have won the war had they stopped early in 1941 and consolidated their gains in Europe and the western Pacific, without Germany attacking Russia and Japan pulling the United States into the conflict.

One of Hanson’s running themes is that the Allied victors mainly killed German and Japanese soldiers, while the Axis focused more on killing civilians. Over all, in its accounting of the global carnage, this book amounts to an ode in praise of deterrence and against appeasement and isolationism.

Hanson is most original and enjoyable when he uses his professional background in ancient history to illuminate 20th-century war. He writes, for example, that, “like Spartans, Wehrmacht soldiers were effused with militarist doctrine, chronically short of men, brilliantly led on the battlefield — and often deployed for imbecilic strategic ends.” The Red Army’s powerful new T-34 tanks “shocked the Germans, not unlike the manner in which unfamiliar Parthian mounted archers flummoxed supposedly superior Roman Republican legions.” The Allied landings on D-Day in 1944 amounted to “the largest combined land and sea operation conducted since the invasion of Greece by King Xerxes of Persia in spring 480 B.C.” In fact, the book might have been better called “A Classical Historian Assesses World War II.”

Floating cities are no longer science fiction

Friday, November 17th, 2017

The New York Times is willing to describe floating cities as no longer science fiction:

Mr. Quirk and his team are focusing on their Floating Island Project in French Polynesia. The government is creating what is effectively a special economic zone for the Seasteading Institute to experiment in and has offered 100 acres of beachfront where the group can operate.

Mr. Quirk and his collaborators created a new company, Blue Frontiers, which will build and operate the floating islands in French Polynesia. The goal is to build about a dozen structures by 2020, including homes, hotels, offices and restaurants, at a cost of about $60 million. To fund the construction, the team is working on an initial coin offering. If all goes as planned, the structures will feature living roofs, use local wood, bamboo and coconut fiber, and recycled metal and plastic.

Good guys with guns saving lives

Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

John R. Lott shares some recent stories of good guys with guns saving lives:

It is only too bad that someone with a concealed handgun permit wasn’t already at the [First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas]. We may never have heard of the shooting — national news stories are virtually never done on permit holders stopping mass public shootings.

An article at Fox News this past week mentions four such cases. It talks about a 1997 shooting at a high school in Pearl, Mississippi; a 2007 church attack in Colorado Springs; and a Chicago Uber driver who in 2015 shot and wounded a man who opened fire on a crowd. The most recent case was a 2017 church shooting in Antioch, Tennessee. But those cases just skim the surface.

[...]

There are countless examples of people using guns in self-defense at their homes or workplaces. But I want to focus on a much narrower set of cases where permit holders stopped public shootings. Here are 10 additional recent cases.

Arlington, Texas, May 3, 2017: A police spokesman stated that the concealed handgun permit holder “prevented further loss of life.” A Dallas Morning News headline read: “‘Hero’ stopped mass murder by crazed bar patron who was armed to the teeth, police say.”

Lyman, South Carolina, June 30, 2016: Just a couple of weeks after the Orlando massacre, 32-year-old Jody Ray Thompson opened fire on another nightclub. Fortunately, permitted concealed handguns were allowed in South Carolina bars. Thompson was able to shoot three people before the permit holder fired back and wounded Thompson in the leg. Fox 5 in Atlanta reports: “At least one South Carolina sheriff are crediting a man with a concealed carry permit with preventing further violence at a nightclub this past Sunday.”

Winton, Ohio, July 26, 2015: A man started shooting at four people who were walking outside on a summer’s evening. Fortunately, a concealed handgun permit holder fired at the attacker, giving the four people a chance to escape into their home.

Conyers, Georgia, May 31, 2015: A man killed two people at a liquor store and continued shooting at others until a permit holder ran inside and exchanged fire. The killer then fled the store. “I believe that if Mr. Scott did not return fire at the suspect then more of those customers would have [been] hit by a gun,” said Rockdale County Sheriff Eric Levett. “So in my opinion he saved other lives in that store.”

New Holland, South Carolina, May 5, 2015: New Holland Fire Department volunteers were hosting a children’s day event with ice cream and fire truck rides, when a man started shooting. Fortunately, two firemen were permit holders and were able to stop the attack.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 22, 2015: A 40-year-old man started shooting at people in a barber shop. A permit holder who heard the gunfire ran inside and shot the attacker. “The person who responded was a legal gun permit carrier. He responded and I guess he saved a lot of people in there,” said Philadelphia Police Captain Frank Llewellyn.

Darby, Pennsylvania, July 24, 2014: Convicted felon Richard Plotts killed a caseworker at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital and started shooting at Dr. Lee Silverman. Fortunately, the doctor had his own gun and returned fire, critically wounding Plotts, who still had 39 bullets on him. “Without a doubt, I believe the doctor saved lives,” said Yeadon police chief Donald Molineux.

Chicago, Illinois, July 7, 2014: Gang members started firing at four people who had just left a party. The attack started because one of the four people removed a cup of liquor that had been placed on top of her vehicle. Luckily, one of the four people — a military member — had a permitted concealed handgun and was able to wound the primary attacker.

Portland, Oregon, January 11, 2014: Convicted criminal Thomas Eliot Hjelmeland was ejected from a nightclub but returned 30 minutes later wearing a mask and carrying a gun. He shot the bouncer who had ejected him, and shot at others. Two others were wounded, and Hjelmeland was shooting all around the club. A concealed handgun permit holder who worked at the nightclub then fatally shot Hjelmeland.

And here are just two more cases from 2000 to 2013 — the same period that the FBI claims only had one instance of a permit holder stopping a public shooting. Again, law enforcement say that permit holders saved lives in both of these cases.

Plymouth, Pennsylvania, September 9, 2012: William Allabaugh shot at people as he walked down the street in Plymouth, Pennsylvania. He wounded one and killed another. Permit holder Mark Ktytor fatally shot Allabaugh. “Mr. [Ktytor] then acted, taking him [Allabaugh] down. We believe that it could have been much worse that night,” said Luzerne County Assistant District Attorney Jarrett Ferentino.

Spartanburg, South Carolina, March 2012: Jesse Gates kicked open a door to a church and pointed a shotgun at the pastor and congregation. Parishioner Aaron Guyton, a concealed weapons permit holder, got the drop on Gates and held him at gunpoint. Sheriff Chuck Wright called Aaron and others at the church “everyday heroes.”

Permit holders haven’t just stopped public shootings. They have stopped everything from public knife attacks to vehicle attacks.

I haven’t found a single case where gun control advocates’ fears were borne out by the facts. In not one of these cases did a permit holder accidentally shoot a bystander, or a police officer accidentally harm a permit holder.

There are many more of these cases.

Important if true

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

A book can be great without being correct:

Max Weber, the north German economist, proud reserve officer in the Kaiser’s army, literal dueler with academic opponents, and co-founder of modern sociology, sits on every college reading list for his 1905 book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. If you didn’t read it in college, it’s time to turn off the TV, Google it, and do so. It’s a stunning performance, one of my top 100 nonfiction books of the 20th century. The book is brilliant, readable, short. (By the way, henceforth you should exhibit your sophistication by pronouncing his name correctly. It’s “VAY-ber,” not like the “WEB-er” hamburger grill you’ve just put away for the year. You get extra points for saying “Max” in echt deutsch: “Maahx,” not like “Mad Max.”)

Others of the stunning 100 include Joseph Schumpeter’s Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (1942), John Maynard Keynes’ The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936), Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex (1949), and Edward Tufte’s The Visual Display of Quantitative Information (1983). If you don’t know such books, you don’t know much, and you really need to get going.

But that a book is “great” does not mean it is correct, or is to be taken as good history or good economics or good theology. Marx’s Das Kapital is indubitably a great book, one of the very greatest of the 19th century, as I say to annoyed friends of libertarian or conservative bent. But then I say to my left-wing friends, annoying them too, that Marx was wrong on almost every point of economics, history, and politics. Which is why I haven’t got any friends.

[...]

So Weber was mistaken. But his is still a great book. Culture, wrote the Victorian critic Matthew Arnold, “is a study of perfection [which] seeks to do away with classes; to make the best that has been thought and known in the world current everywhere.” Even the best may be found after a while to be mistaken.

Hobbes’ Leviathan is mistaken, claiming centrally that “Covenants, without the sword, are but words, and of no strength to secure a man.” Wrong, wrong, wrong. Geist expressed in words does indeed bind and secure people. But Michael Oakeshott properly classed Leviathan as the greatest (and “perhaps the only”) work of English political philosophy.

Another Victorian, a witty atheist, used to suggest that every church door have a large sign declaring “Important if true.” The Protestant Ethic is important though false, an instance of imperfect perfection.

That witty Victorian was Alexander Kinglake, according to Bartlett’s Book of Anecdotes:

KINGLAKE, Alexander William (1809–91), British writer.

  1. A skeptic by nature, Kinglake suggested that all churches should bear the inscription: “IMPORTANT IF TRUE.”

Protesting has become a progressive tradition

Monday, November 13th, 2017

Protesting has become a progressive tradition:

The grievances of progressivism are now like Boomer Christmas, stuck in time, repeating the same old songs over and over again, recapturing the youthful days of a generation long gone by. That doesn’t mean there aren’t real problems to be solved, it just suggests that’s not why the majority of people do it.

We failed in the direction of truth

Sunday, November 12th, 2017

Razib Khan is excited to read Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment Now, because he’s looking for a little hope:

At this point, I am very pessimistic as to the prospects for the Enlightenment project.

This is pretty obvious to anyone who reads me closely. I’ve been writing and discussing with people on the internet, and in private, for many years now, and have come to the conclusion most people are decent, but they’re also craven and intellectually unserious outside of their domain specificity when they are intellectual. Many of our institutions are quite corrupt, and those which are supposedly the torchbearers of the Enlightenment, such as science, are filled with people who are also blind to their own biases or dominated by those who will plainly lie to advance their professional prospects or retain esteem from colleagues.

[...]

n psychology, much of the replication crisis was simply due to personal self-interest (more publications). But some of it was obviously political (see stereotype threat). Similarly, look at the fiasco in nutrition science. Some of it was personal, but there were also political demands from on high that there be something done. So “scholars” set some guidelines that people followed for decades, even if later they were shown to be totally ineffective. I’m not even going to get into the travesty that is modern biomedical science, with professional advancement and institutional interests combined in a deadly cocktail.

Also, I enjoy science popularizing (or did, I don’t read science books much anymore) as much as the next person, but isn’t it interesting how much of modern science confirms the mainstream elite cultural norms of ~2020? Curiously, if you read science popularizations in newspapers in 1920 they would also confirm the elite cultural norms of 1920…. But this time we’re right!

Other institutions aren’t doing better. The media is going through economic collapse, and journalists and their paymasters are reacting by pandering to their audiences. Instead of illuminating, they’re confirming. That’s what the audience wants, and I’m sure it’s more satisfying to journalists anyway. But can you blame them with the economics that are before us?

[...]

People have always been biased and subject to motivated reasoning. We’ve had our disputes whatever our ideology, whether it be conservative, moderate, or liberal. But the Enlightenment perspective of critical rationalism, which took philosophical realism seriously, meant that ultimately people who disagreed often assumed that fundamentally they were trying to converge on the same facts, the same reality. Reality existed, and you couldn’t just wish it away. Discussion might forward two individuals to a convergence!

We’re not there anymore. Whether it be Bush-era contempt for “Reality-Based Community”, or the rising crest of “Critical Theory”, the acid of subjectivism is eroding the vast edifice of aspirational realism which grew organically in the wake of the Enlightenment. This isn’t a Left vs. Right phenomenon, it’s a human dynamic, because for most of human history what is true has been determined by what the tribe dictates to be true, and what the tribe dictates to be true has often not been based on a critical evaluation of facts and theories. What the tribe dictates to be true is computationally less intensive than thinking things through yourself, and, it’s often right-enough.

The reality is that this cultural cognition and conformity has always held. It’s just that it seems that for a few centuries substantial latitude was given in public to a relative amount of heterodoxy from broad tribal visions. And it was always a work in progress. But there was a goal, and an ideal, even if we habitually failed. We failed in the direction of truth.

We live in a post-modern age now. Feelings are paramount, facts must bow before them. But the curious fact is that the post-modern age is just the pre-modern age. When I first read the Christian author Alister McGrath I literally scoffed at his contention that atheism would fail before the ascendancy of post-modernism. Ten years on I will admit that I now believe he was right and I was wrong. Though I don’t think the New Atheism failed miserably, I do think that the problems it is encountering from the cultural Left are due to its cold modernist baggage.

No truth, no liberalism. No liberalism, and democracy become the mob. The passions of the mob do eventually fail, and its wake a more oligarchic and hierarchical system will emerge. We may simply be seeing the end of the liberal individualist interregnum, as history reverts to its despotic collectivist norm.

[...]

Finally, understanding that most people don’t need to be right or utter the truth, but simply need to win, has made me much more cheerful and less sour observing everyday stupidities. It is no great insight to observe that I’ve never been one who has had much esteem for the admiration of my peers. I like to do my own thing. But tribal acclamation must be the best of all things for most humans, and now I understand why they fight unfairly and stupidly with such ease and naturalness: their aim not to be right in the eyes of nature, but to rise in the esteem their fellow human. That is the summum bonum.

Not everybody knows your rules

Friday, November 10th, 2017

Seinfeld co-creator Larry David did something during his Saturday Night Live monologue that is almost unknown in 21st-century America, Steve Sailer reports. He engaged in Jewish self-criticism in front of gentiles:

It’s hardly surprising that David would be the one to stumble upon this prime directive of contemporary culture: Don’t recognize Jewish patterns.

Both Seinfeld and David’s subsequent HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm are shows about rules, about the descendants of shtetl dwellers awkwardly adrift in a world without an all-encompassing set of laws itemized in the Talmud. David’s characters are constantly either getting in trouble for violating rules that they didn’t know existed or are outraged that other people aren’t aware of rules that seem obvious to them.

As Larry’s blond wife on Curb explains to him in exasperation after his attempt to enforce his assumption that the cutoff for Halloween trick-or-treating ought to be age 13 ends in disaster:

You know what? Not everybody knows your rules, Larry. You’ve got your own set of rules and you think everyone’s going to adhere to them, but they’re not because nobody knows them.

On SNL, Larry, who is now 70, was appealing to an older Jewish-American rule that the most obvious way for Jews to avoid criticism for stereotypically Jewish failings, such as exploiting shiksas as if they were members of a different tribe, is to try to behave better.

[...]

In other words, show some shame. And don’t try to shame everybody else.

[...]

It’s worth observing that White Guilt and Jewish Guilt are diametrically opposite. White Guilt is the worry that your ancestors were too ethnocentric, but Jewish Guilt, as given its classic formulation in Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint, is the concern that you aren’t ethnocentric enough for your ancestors.

[...]

One common explanation for why nobody, not even Larry David, is supposed to joke about Jewish tendencies is because Jews are so powerless.

An alternative and perhaps more plausible answer is because Jews are so powerful.

[...]

Indeed, much of the Late Obama Age Collapse of the progressive coalition into squabbling factions seems to be focused on heavily Jewish institutions such as Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and the universities. There isn’t all that much wealth left in red-state America for identity-politics groups to strip-mine, so their claws are now out for the wealthy institutions of blue-state America, whose leaderships are, of course, quite Jewish.

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. An intelligent people should be able to sidestep these kinds of self-inflicted disasters. But when you make your highest priority keeping everybody else unaware, you wind up intellectually disarming yourselves as well.

False-flag operations plainly exist

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

False Flags plainly exist, John Schindler notes:

In recent years, I’ve exposed several such cases, including how East German intelligence was behind a notorious “right-wing” assassination in Cold War Berlin, how Yugoslav intelligence masterminded a False Flag bombing in New York in 1975, how a still-unidentified third party was really behind the destruction of a Swiss airliner in 1970, and most notoriously, how the Algerian military regime in the 1990s bloodily defeated jihadists with a massive deception operation employing numerous False Flags.

[...]

Therefore, [the La Penca bombing] was a False Flag terrorist attack — yet the exact opposite of what left-wing activists claimed. Thirty-three years ago, at La Penca, the Sandinistas blew up 22 people, killing seven, to blame it on the Americans and the CIA — not the other way around. Given that Sandinista intelligence was trained by the KGB in provocation and deception, this does not surprise the initiated.

Runaway national fragmentation is inevitable

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

One of the strongest and most consistent geopolitical trends of the past 200 years has been an explosion in national entities, Anatoly Karlin notes:

But it wasn’t always like this. I don’t know if anybody has quantified this precisely, but the number of states or state-like entities in the world must have constituted many thousands during the medieval and Early Modern periods.

historical-number-of-countries

Just the territories of the Holy Roman Empire at times accounted for more than a thousand!

map-holy-roman-empire

Then the rise of the great gunpowder empires and European colonialism rapidly whittled down the numbers of independent states to a few dozens, with even the Latin American independence movements of the 19th century making nary a blimp at the global level.

But then the 20th century saw the collapse of the European monarchic empires, the emergence of national self-determination as a legitimate consideration in international law, the decolonization of the Third World, and the collapse of Communist federative states such as Yugoslavia and the USSR. The number of independent states, including unrecognized de facto polities, now numbers over 200.

[...]

Consequently, under a liberal globalism that is true to its ideals, that is, one free of authoritarian coercion or Malthusian selection for big strong states, it appears that runaway national fragmentation is inevitable.

Jocko interviews Jordan Peterson

Sunday, November 5th, 2017

Jocko interviews Jordan Peterson. Self-recommending, although you may not enjoy the gruesome intro:

The fascist that Germany’s baby boomers loathed

Sunday, November 5th, 2017

What if everything you know is wrong?, John Schindler asks:

Back in the spring of 1967, West Germany was enjoying a wave of student protests of the sort then causing annoyance across much of the Western world as the baby boomers came of age, crankily, and acted out in public. On the evening of June 2, a big demo in West Berlin protesting the visit of the Shah of Iran, who was in town that night seeing an opera, got out of hand. Police were jumpy and soon the demo was verging on something ugly. Then a twenty-six year old student named Benno Ohnesorg was shot in the back of the head by a policeman — for no reason, according to his friends. Ohnesorg died at this, his first demo, leaving behind a pregnant young wife.

Outrage ensued, not least because the protestors claimed that the unarmed Ohnesorg had been murdered by the police without cause; no one under thirty believed the policeman when he said that he had seen a knife and had to defend himself. For a generation, the murder became “the shot that changed Germany.” It didn’t help matters that the killer, Karl-Heinz Kurras, was a middle-aged cop of thuggish inclinations who had served in Hitler’s army in the Second World War, and was almost a caricature of the “fascist mentality” that West German baby boomers who came of age in the 1960s so detested about their parents. Kurras was an ideal stand-in for the so-called “Auschwitz generation” that younger leftists reviled and wanted to junk on the ash heap of history as soon as possible.

For the hard Left, Ohnesorg was a welcome martyr, since his death confirmed all their dark fears about West Germany, which they asserted was objectively a fascist state, despite actually being a high-functioning democracy, not to mention a quite prosperous one, with exceptionally stringent protection of civil liberties and dissent. There soon arose the June 2 Movement, a terrorist group dedicated to Ohnesorg’s martyrdom. Next came the far more dangerous Red Army Faction, popularly known as the Baader-Meinhof Group, a terrorist movement dedicated to Ohnesorg’s memory that claimed to be fighting fascism, but whose leaders seemed mostly into fast cars, turgid ideological dissertations, and murder-as-self-actualization. It took the West German intelligence and police agencies over a decade to stamp out the RAF, even though the gang was small and not very adept, a longevity that, it turned out, had a lot to do with the RAF’s close relationship with the Stasi, East Germany’s notorious Ministry for State Security (MfS). The Stasi offered RAF fighters sanctuary, logistical support, training, even weaponry. (The support by East Bloc intelligence services for terrorist groups in the West was another issue dismissed as a “conspiracy theory” by mainstream thinkers in the 1970s and 1980s, but with the collapse of the Soviet empire and access to secret files — whoops — turned out to be quite true.)

Plenty of West Germans to the right of the Baader Meinhof thugs were troubled by the conduct of the German police. Kurras was never seriously punished for the Ohnesorg killing. Twice he was acquitted of major charges and was suspended from the force for four years, working in private security, but after that suspension he was back with the Berlin police and was actually promoted. Kurras continued a normal career, retiring to a pension at age sixty, remaining defiant and unrepentant: “Anyone who attacks me is destroyed,” he explained to a reporter who asked him about the shooting of Benno Ohnesorg.

By 2009, Karl-Heinz Kurras was an elderly pensioner and a mostly forgotten minor hate figure, yet that May he returned to the front pages in a sensational fashion when it was revealed that he had been for years a highly valued agent of the Stasi. Information from the files of the MfS, which German authorities have combed through carefully for over twenty years, revealed that Kurras had volunteered to work for East German intelligence in 1955. He wanted to move to the DDR, but Stasi handlers convinced him to stay where he was and to serve as an agent-in-place inside the West Berlin police. Files indicate that Kurras was a loyal and effective Stasi source, handing over reams of documents and all the information he could find to the MfS. He was decorated several times and was allowed to secretly join the SED, the East German ruling Communist Party, in 1964, a rare honor for a foreign agent. He helped the Stasi and the KGB expose double agents, reported regularly on U.S. and NATO military developments, and during the 1961 Berlin Crisis was informing the Stasi about critical events at Checkpoint Charlie, the heart of the East-West confrontation.

The revelation that Kurras was a long-term and highly valued agent of East German intelligence exploded like a bombshell, turning a generation’s worldview on its head. The man that Germany’s baby boomers loathed as the archetype of fascism, a living symbol of the evil Nazi-ish past, actually was a Stasi hero, a loyal servant of Communism.

You probably can’t force the public to love you

Saturday, November 4th, 2017

Perhaps the best kind of advertising is the kind that doesn’t look like advertising, Steve Sailer suggests:

I’m biased, but I can’t help pointing out that lots of smart rich guys are investing more in opinion journalism than you might expect. For example, Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos, who overtook Bill Gates as the world’s richest man last Friday, spent a quarter of a billion of his own money to buy The Washington Post in 2013.

Bezos claims it’s profitable, but profit and loss is hardly the point. His goal is to shape the climate of opinion in ways favorable to his interests, much as Mexican monopolist Carlos Slim bailed out The New York Times in 2009 with a $200 million infusion.

A bigger purpose is less to change minds than to rule out inconvenient ideas. For instance, Harvey Weinstein got away with decades of bad behavior by controlling the means of production of public sentiment.

You probably can’t force the public to love you, but you can spend money on journalists to make their readers sense that it’s just not done to hate you.

You might notice that you haven’t read a lot in the American press about how Slim made a bundle off charging impoverished illegal aliens exorbitant fees to speak with their loved ones back home in Mexico. Nor have you heard much about how Slim married himself into a genuine Fascist dynasty, the Gemayel clan, founders of the Lebanese Phalange party.

That’s not considered news. The American news media traditionally gets its guidance on what is fit to print from The New York Times, and the Times hasn’t been in a hurry to cause embarrassment to its largest individual shareholder.

Similarly, the U.S. media has in recent years been more interested in topics such as transgender rights than in former staples of debate, such as the need for anti-monopoly enforcement.

In Mexico, Slim was more or less synonymous with the Mexican state since the 1990s, when he offered a $25 million campaign contribution/kickback to the ruling party at the notorious “Billionaires Banquet.” But recently Slim had the misfortune to fall out with the latest presidente, who opened up the Mexican market to an American competitor, knocking tens of billions off Slim’s net worth.

Things could be worse for Slim. He is still the sixth-richest man in the world, in part because he hasn’t had these problems in the United States since investing in the Times eight years ago. Donald Trump always calls it “the failing New York Times,” but from the perspective of Slim, the newspaper is working quite well.

[...]

In summary, while Americans tend to believe they are natural-born advertising geniuses who could create commercials that would outcompete their opponents, the richest, smartest businessmen don’t believe in a fair fight. Instead, own a monopoly and then own a major chunk of the media to protect it.

It may (or may not) pay to advertise, but it pays to look like the news.