Secret America

Friday, October 1st, 2010

What is the truth about the secret America of the 20th century? Mencius Moldbug gives his take:

The truth, which no one wanted or wants to hear, is that communism is as American as apple pie. Communism is a form of American liberalism, or progressivism. It is not, as so many anti-communists liked to suggest, an exotic foreign import. When imported from exotic lands, it’s because we exported it there in the first place. In America it may speak with a Russian accent; in Russia, it speaks with an American accent.

By the 1930s, communism with a strong Protestant flavor had become the dominant religion of American high society — the wealthiest and most fashionable Americans. But it was not yet the dominant religion of the American population, and America was a democracy. Thus the strong flavor of secrecy and intrigue, often frankly anti-democratic, that we find in the progressives of the early 20th century.

With a figure like Colonel House, for instance, the conspiracy theorist cannot find much else to ask for. Was Colonel House a free agent? Or did he report to some committee of bankers? How would we ever know? Frankly, in the Colonel’s world, the Elders of Zion hardly seem necessary.

Thus, as Quigley himself pointed out, the crusade of anti-communism was doomed from the beginning. Rather than attacking a foreign infection, anti-communism was attacking the host: the American social establishment. For this purpose it was a little short of lymphocytes. No surprise, thus, that it should fail and be consigned to historical ignominy.

Moreover, this social mismatch has been entirely rectified. What the bohemians of Greenwich Village believed in 1923, everyone in America (and the world) believes now. The beliefs of an ordinary Calvin Coolidge voter would strike the ordinary John McCain voter as outlandish, ridiculous, insane, and often downright evil. America has no surviving intellectual tradition besides progressivism — which is no more than a synonym for communism. (My own grandparents, lifelong CPUSA members, used “progressive” as a codeword all their lives.) Communism is as American as apple pie, and America today is a completely communist country.

The Study of History

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

The study of history reduces to two tasks, Mencius Moldbug says — reading primary sources and assessing their credibility — and one good way to assess their credibility is to test their predictions against hindsight.

This test is especially useful when the prediction comes from someone on the losing side, powerless to make his predictions come true, like Confederate theologian R. L. Dabney, who made the following declarations in his Life and Campaigns of Lieutenant-General Thomas J. Jackson (1866):

History will some day place the position of these Confederate States, in this high argument, in the clearest light of her glory. The cause they undertook to defend was that of regulated constitutional liberty, and of fidelity to law and covenants, against the licentious violence of physical power. The assumptions they resisted were precisely those of that radical democracy, which deluged Europe with blood at the close of the eighteenth century, and which shook its thrones again in the convulsions of 1848; the agrarianism which, under the name of equality, would subject all the rights of individuals to the will of the many, and acknowledge no law nor ethics, save the lust of that mob which happens to be the larger.

This power, which the old States of Europe expended such rivers of treasure and blood to curb, at the beginning of the century, had transferred its immediate designs across the Atlantic, was consolidating itself anew in the Northern States of America, with a wealth, an organization, an audacity, an extent to which it never aspired in the lands of its birth, and was preparing to make the United States, after crushing all law there under its brute will, the fulcrum whence they should extend their lever to upheave every legitimate throne in the Old World.

Hither, by emigration, flowed the radicalism, discontent, crime, and poverty of Europe, until the people of the Northern States became, like the rabble of Imperial Rome, the colluvies gentium. The miseries and vices of their early homes had alike taught them to mistake license for liberty, and they were incapable of comprehending, much more of loving, the enlightened structure of English or Virginian freedom.

The first step in their vast designs was to overwhelm the Conservative States of the South. This done, they boasted that they would proceed first to engross the whole of the American continent, and then to emancipate Ireland, to turn Great Britain into a democracy, to enthrone Red Republicanism in France, and to give the crowns of Germany to the Pantheistic humanitarians of that race who deify self as the supreme end and selfish desire as the authoritative expression of the Divine Will.

By the way, you probably know Thomas Jackson by his nickname: Stonewall.

Three Attitudes Toward Government

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Mencius Moldbug wrote a letter to a liberal friend who had sent him a link to J.M. Bernstein’s NY Times opinion piece on the very angry tea party:

If I had to describe it in a sentence, I would say that the rage is easily explained, but not easily explained in the terms of those who feel it. They are clearly angry about something, but the actual words that come out of their mouths are often nonsensical and contradictory. This is why it is so hard for so many to get a handle on. It is simply inarticulate demotic discontent.

Basically, you will see this in any hieratic system of government which the peasants do not really understand. They feel, somehow, that they are getting jobbed. They are (in my opinion) getting jobbed. But how they are getting jobbed is infinitely more complicated than their simple peasant mind can understand. (Also, the idea that they are in some way jobbing the peasants is the farthest possible concept from the collective mind of the gentlemen.)

Therefore, the peasants open their mouths and out comes rage and nonsense. As a gentleman, you are fascinated and repelled by this extraordinary wave of rage and nonsense. Do I have this reaction right? You may of course feel free to disregard the crude metaphor of medieval class conflict, which is no more than a metaphor. Still, I feel it is a good way to ground the conversation in history.

One easy reaction is to blame Fox News. It is true: for the first time in a long time, the peasants have an exclusively peasant-themed mass propaganda channel. However, the objective observer notes quickly that Fox News is not so much telling its audience what to think, as telling them they are allowed to think what they already think. Since they are peasants, lacking any semblance of an aristocratic culture that can accumulate and transmit collective wisdom across generations, what they think is generally nonsense.

Fox News aggregates and retransmits this nonsense, but does not really direct it much in Goebbels style. In some ways it even moderates it — for instance, Fox, and neocons in general, are not much less aggressive in purging racism than establishment journalists.
But, although they do not reason openly and explicitly in this existential manner, the tea partiers feel emotionally that their entire system of government has lost, over the course of decades, their confidence, and needs to be replaced by something entirely different. The basic problem with their rhetoric is that in place of “something entirely different,” they insert two-dimensional cliches of historical American nationalism, dimly remembered at a folk level from the 1920s. It was no less nonsense then, but at least it had an aristocratic leadership caste, which was actually capable of governing a country. In short, it had Calvin Coolidge. Sarah Palin is no Calvin Coolidge.

There are three basic attitudes toward government in America today:

There are people who believe government is there to serve them; there are people who believe government is there to serve others; there are people who believe government is there to subsidize them. In our medieval metaphor, these correspond to peasants, gentlemen, and varlets respectively. The last is the caste Marx called the “lumpenproletariat” — and he was no fan of this group, or of political movements that exploited it. Respectable people say “underclass.”

When gentlemen look at progressivism, they see a movement whose purpose is to help the underclass, those whose plight is no fault of their own. When peasants look at progressivism, they see a movement whose purpose is to employ gentlemen in the business of public policy, by using the peasants’ money to buy votes from varlets. Who, in the peasants’ perception, abuse the patience and generosity of both peasants and gentlemen in almost every imaginable way, and are constantly caressed by every imaginable authority for doing so.

Among gentlemen, the idea that government could be there to serve us is almost socially taboo.
Peasants see a patron-client relationship between the gentlemen and the varlets — a relationship not at all unlike the late Roman relationship of clientela, where a patrician measured his social status by the vast army of plebeians that battened on his trenches. Again, what to the gentleman appears as a noble act of charity, compassion, etc, to the coarse and cynical peasant reveals itself as a purchase of political power, with his tax dollars if not his physical safety. Therefore a vision of the gallows arises in his hindbrain.

Can both be correct? Of course they can. Every case, in every detail, is different, and every case can be viewed from both perspectives. As Solzhenitsyn said, the line between good and evil runs through every human heart.

And again — are the tea partiers thinking this story? No such elaborate historio-political fantasy has ever come anywhere close to their heads. But it is, I would argue, the reality of history in our time. Truth, even if not realized in totum, glints off every surface. Therefore, it is an emotional subtext that spawns a continuous stream of inchoate, inarticulate and inexplicable rage. Precisely as your New School prof observes!

Taboo Cannon

Monday, July 5th, 2010

Mencius Moldbug opens fire with the taboo cannon and recommends prohibiting travel between Salafist countries and the West:

Frankly, orthodox Salafi Muslims don’t want or need cultural contact with the West, any more than the West wants or needs cultural contact with them. Isolation is a no-brainer here. The fact that noticing this requires a blast of the Taboo cannon is itself truly worrying. I’d really like to think the world was run by sane grownup people, who can see obvious things and act on them in the obvious way.

But no. But after 9/11, no one asked: what does America gain by allowing random dudes from Saudi Arabia to visit New York? Let alone Afghanistan? What — a billion dollars in tourist revenue? So instead we had to go spend a trillion dollars, not to mention thousands of our finest young lives, on turning the Hindu Kush into the 51st state.

True History of the American Rebellion

Sunday, July 4th, 2010

The Fourth of July is the perfect time to revisit the true history of the American Revolution — or, more accurately, the American Rebellion — which hinges on some little-discussed factors:

  • Why do the American loyalists share a nickname with a British political party? Is this just a coincidence, or does it imply some kind of weird alliance? And what is on the other side of said alliance? If the loyalists are called Tories, why does no one call the Patriots Whigs?
  • By coincidence, two of the leading British generals, Howe and Cornwallis, were Whigs — in fact, Whig MPs.

Vietnam 2.0

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

Afghanistan, Mencius Moldbug claims, is Vietnam 2.0:

Persons interested in the 1.0 edition may consult one of the few informative English-language histories of that war, Background to Betrayal, by the incredible Hilaire du Berrier.

Note that as the moderate, pragmatic, realistic left-wing option (Diem/Karzai) is revealed as a complete and utter disaster, the Overton Window of DC shifts to include the radical left-wing option (helicopters on the roof). In other words, as the moderate left-wing quack cure (strength through weakness) fails, the extreme left-wing quack cure (victory through defeat) becomes a legitimate policy option. Since it is inevitable, hopefully it will be embraced as quickly as possible. Americans should prepare themselves for lots of good Afghan food in their diverse urban areas.

No apology is ever offered for completely ignoring the obvious and original strategy, ie, actual conquest, occupation, or any other form of right-wing domination, foreign or domestic. Hiring General Fonseka is not a legitimate policy option. No one in the reality-based community asks: how did Afghanistan/Vietnam work before we broke it? How have these kinds of problems been solved here in the past, or elsewhere in the present? Instead, the leftism response to the failure of leftism is always: the failure is caused by insufficient leftism. Lather, rinse, repeat.

It’ll be interesting to see what the Taliban do with their state. At least there won’t be any liberals there.

Blue Monkey Hindsight

Friday, July 2nd, 2010

It’s easy to assume that causes like that of the Arabs in Palestine are indigenous movements, Mencius Moldbug says, which arise spontaneously and then attract influential foreign backers:

One notices, however, that the foreign backers often precede the indigenous movements. Which is the cause, and which the effect? If you invert the relationship, you get a very different political structure which seems to make a lot more sense.

Moldbug then geeks out a bit:

Before Sigourney Weaver got her mind-tentacles into the blue monkeys, I’ll bet they were perfectly happy to find a new sacred tree. The whole war was her fault. And the monkeys may be partying right now, but in fifty years they’ll be living in gang-infested shantytowns. District 9 is Avatar 2: Alien Aid. Blue monkey hindsight: throw Sigourney Weaver off the tree, as soon as she shows up. No war, no movie, happy monkey life with new views.

Who was John Birch?

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

In 1961, Time magazine asked, Who was John Birch?

In 1939 Birch graduated from Georgia’s Baptist-controlled Mercer University as the top man in his class, leaving behind him a record that is still recalled. “He was always an angry young man, always a zealot,” says a classmate. “He felt he was called to defend the faith, and he alone knew what it was.” Says a psychology professor: “He was like a one-way valve: everything coming out and no room to take anything in.”

In his senior year. Birch organized a secret “Fellowship Group” and set out to suppress a mildly liberal trend at Mercer. He and twelve colleagues collected examples of “heresy” uttered by faculty members (example: a reference to evolution), whipped up support among Georgia’s Baptist clergy, finally forced the school to try five men on the charge. Mercer eventually dismissed the cases, but not before admonishing 75-year-old Dr. John D. Freeman, a world-famous Baptist leader, for using a theologically “unsound” textbook. That summer Dr. Freeman quietly retired from Mercer. Says a professor: “It broke him.”

Birch went to China as a missionary in 1940, and was caught there by Pearl Harbor. In 1942, as he was trying to find a way to enlist, the war literally dropped in on him. He was taken one night by a native to a man who had fallen out of the sky. The fallen: Lieut. Colonel Jimmy Doolittle. Birch led Doolittle and a group of the survivors of the Tokyo raid to safety, then joined the unit that later became General Claire Chennault’s Fourteenth Air Force and began a remarkable career in air combat intelligence. Wrote Chennault later: “Birch was the pioneer of our field-intelligence net.”

Traveling up to 100 miles behind enemy lines, Birch radioed back word on prime Japanese targets. He directed the building of three airstrips within enemy territory. For his work, Birch was awarded the Legion of Merit, got a posthumous Oak Leaf Cluster for “exceptionally meritorious service.”

Birch was eventually transferred to the Office of Strategic Services and was assigned late in the war to a tiny, scorpion-infested base at Sian in North China. Baptist Birch is remembered as a loner with a somewhat overbearing manner. In his diary, Major Gustav Krause, commanding officer of the base, gravely noted: “Birch is a good officer, but I’m afraid is too brash and may run into trouble.”

When the Japanese surrendered, Birch led a routine mission to discover how far south the Chinese Communists had penetrated. His group bumped into a Chinese Communist force. As the scene has been reconstructed, Birch argued violently with the Communist officer who wanted to disarm him. Birch was seized and shot after his hands had been tied. The Communists then bayoneted him at least 15 times and tossed his body on a heap of junk and garbage.

That, I suppose, is how you get an arch-conservative society named after you.

This next passage moved Mencius Moldbug to remark that DC has been sacrificing American kids to the PC gods for a long time:

“In the confusing situation,” said Krause last week, “my instructions were to act with diplomacy. Birch made the Communist lieutenant lose face before his own men. Militarily, John Birch brought about his own death.”

Professor Hanson has never learned any philosophy?

Monday, June 28th, 2010

I found Mencius Moldbug’s latest piece uninspiring. Like a media-savvy fighter, he tries to build up hype around his not-really-personal conflict with Professor Robin Hanson:

It is small wonder that Professor Hanson has never learned any philosophy.

This is the wrong insult to fling at Hanson, Aretae notes:

I ran into Robin Hanson the first time in ’95 or ’96, when Jimmy Wales was just a stocks guy who ran an internet philosophy discussion list (MDOP). Back then, Larry Sanger (the other founder of Wikipedia) was starting up a philosophy discussion group dedicated to foundationalist philosophy, and I joined.

Unless my memory is weaker than I think it is, over the course of a year or two, I became quite impressed with the insight and breadth of knowledge of one of the most insightful commentators on that list: Robin Hanson.
Of course, as I look up Robin’s CV, I see why he was on the philosophy list I was on. He has a masters in philosophy of science, and a master’s in physics.


Power without Responsibility

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

While discussing the cancer of bureaucracy — in a piece I’ve already recommended — Bruce Charlton addresses the odd rise of the committee:

Committees now dominate almost all the major decision-making in modernizing societies — whether in the mass committee of eligible voters in elections, or such smaller committees as exist in corporations, government or in the US Supreme Court: it seems that modern societies always deploy a majority vote to decide or ratify all questions of importance. Indeed, it is all-but-inconceivable that any important decision be made by an individual person — it seems both natural and inevitable that such judgments be made by group vote.

Yet although nearly universal among Western ruling elites, this fetishizing of committees is a truly bizarre attitude; since there is essentially zero evidence that group voting leads to good, or even adequate, decisions — and much evidence that group voting leads to unpredictable, irrational and bad decisions.

The nonsense of majority voting was formally described by Nobel economics laureate Kenneth Arrow (1921-) in the 1960s, but it is surely obvious to anyone who has had dealings with committees and maintains independent judgement. It can be demonstrated using simple mathematical formulations that a majority vote may lead to unstable cycles of decisions, or a decision which not one single member of the committee would regard as optimal. For example, in a job appointments panel, it sometimes happens that there are two strong candidates who split the panel, so the winner is a third choice candidate whom no panel member would regard as the best candidate. In other words any individual panel member would make a better choice than derives from majority voting.

Furthermore, because of this type of phenomenon, and the way that majority decisions do not necessarily reflect any individual’s opinion, committee decisions carry no responsibility. After all, how could anyone be held responsible for outcomes which nobody intended and to which nobody agrees? So that committees exert de facto power without responsibility. Indeed most modern committees are typically composed of a variable selection from a number of eligible personnel, so that it is possible that the same committee may never contain the same personnel twice. The charade is kept going by the necessary but meaningless fiction of ‘committee responsibility’, maintained by the enforcement of a weird rule that committee members must undertake, in advance of decisions, to abide by whatever outcome (however irrational, unpredictable, unjustified and indefensible) the actual contingent committee deliberations happen to lead to. This near-universal rule and practice simply takes ‘irresponsibility’ and re-names it ‘responsibility’…

If that sounds like anyone, Charlton’s postscript confirms it:

Although I do not mention it specifically above, the stimulus to writing this essay came from Mark A Notturno’s Science and the open society: the future of Karl Popper’s philosophy (Central European University Press: Budapest, 2000) — in particular the account of Popper’s views on induction. It struck me that committee decision-making by majority vote is a form of inductive reasoning, hence non-valid; and that inductive reasoning is in practice no more than a form of ‘authoritarianism’ (as Notturno terms it). In the event, I decided to exclude this line of argument from the essay because I found it too hard to make the point interesting and accessible. Nonetheless, I am very grateful to have had it explained to me.

I should also mention that various analyses of the pseudonymous blogger Mencius Moldbug, who writes at Unqualified Reservations, likely had a significant role in developing the above ideas.

Again, I recommend the whole thing.

Mencius Moldbug Channeling Elihu Root

Monday, April 26th, 2010

The Center for a New American Security describes itself as developing strong, pragmatic and principled national security and defense policies.

Mencius Moldbug finds that such “principled” policies work against their own principles:

Yet somehow, we have the strictest ROE since Gandhi invaded Heaven, and civilians keep getting their guts all over the road. Accidentally, of course. But have you ever heard of risk homeostasis? The more American troops behave like Gandhi invading Heaven, the less worried your average Pashtoon is about being mistaken for a Taliban. You’ll note that they drive pretty recklessly, too.

What’s needed is not to incinerate the civilians, but to conquer them. The art of conquering Pashtoons, or other warlike tribes, is no big secret. Make every Pashtoon responsible to a sheik, who is responsible to the Viceroy. If the Pashtoon causes trouble, his sheik hangs him. If his sheik doesn’t hang him, the Viceroy hangs both Pashtoon and sheik. Or at least, fires the sheik and replaces him with his cousin.

Can General McChrystal fire his traditional leaders? Or his non-traditional leaders? Or, God forbid, hang them? See, that’s your first problem. Fix that problem, then get back to me. Or tell me, with a straight face, there’s no one in Kabul who needs hanging.

A little suspension will not put any great strain on your execution machinery, either. Eldon Gorst in Egypt used to muse that if he could hang one Egyptian a year, chosen at his sole personal discretion, all disturbances would end for all time forever. Alas, the mysterious art of colonial government was moving in the exact opposite direction. With what result, we now see!

Bet you don’t even know who Eldon Gorst was. See, there’s your problem. Arrogant ignorance, plain and simple. Americans are dying because of it. They will continue to die.

Our troops have all the technical devices anyone could ever need to conquer a country. At their feet lies the most pissant country ever conquered, inhabited by the most backward peasants in the known universe. But we can’t do it. We are institutionally incapable of knowing how to do it. Google Books has scanned the entire Second British Empire, all written in English and accessible at a click. No one goes near it.

Today, in 2010, it would be far easier for USG to put a man on the moon, than nail up a gallows in Kabul. And we couldn’t put a man on the moon, either! Alas, it will be a long time before civilization returns to the Korengal. All I can say is one thing: when it comes back, it will come back with a rope and something tall.

There’s much more.

Moldbug Instructs Auster

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

I don’t read Lawrence Auster’s View from the Right, but he recently posted an exchange with Mencius Moldbug, whom he characterizes as friendly, witty, and engaging — and a bit more:

But the fact is that he is an extreme paleocon nihilist who, in the midst of a leftist revolution aimed at destroying our Constitution and reducing us to slavery, would, from the vantage point of his supposedly superior knowledge of history, undermine any effort on our part to stop it.

Mencius Moldbug writes:

It is not necessary for Americans to transform their civilization, only their government! If that civilization has decayed, it has decayed under long and continuous pressure from a corrosive form of government inimical to it.

Government can heal a society as well as corrode it; but without the infection, it will also heal itself. Government has broken society. Your parody of my remedy is: to repair government, first heal society. My remedy is: to heal society, first repair government.

The natural order of government is not a secret. Aristotle knew it. It is natural for children to respect and obey their parents. It is natural for parents to guide and support their children. It is natural for the poor, weak, and ignorant to respect and obey the wealthy, strong and powerful. It is natural for the wealthy, strong and powerful to guide and support the poor, weak and ignorant.

Why do ghetto blacks vote for Kennedys? Why do Kennedys repay them for these votes with government welfare? Because they are recapitulating this natural feudal structure, albeit through a broken political system that perverts its every good to evil.

Why did “healthcare reform” experience a burst of support when it prevailed? Because, pace Osama, people like a strong horse. This too is natural. They flock to winners, however perverse, and abandon losers, however noble.

Because your conservative vision of the defeat of liberalism is in fact modeled on historical events in which liberalism prevailed over conservatism, it is a fantasy that can never succeed. Decay is an entropic, progressive process that feeds on itself. A little decay leads to a lot of decay. A little fire leads to a lot of fire.

Restoration is an anti-entropic process. A little restoration does not lead to a lot of restoration. It is an intrinsically futile act — a candle that soon goes out. Rather, if order is to be restored, it must be restored entirely in one step. A house can be ruined incrementally. It cannot be renovated incrementally.

Is this one step more difficult than the little, incremental steps you encourage? Yet to other conservatives, your little, incremental steps (ending Muslim immigration! Repatriating Muslims!) seem grandiose, incredible, impossible.

And they are. Not, though, because they are too big; because they are too small. In the ruined house (picture America as an old mansion in Detroit), Powerline wants to start by cleaning and sanding one floorboard. This inspiring act will spread to the next floorboard, and so on, and eventually the house will be clean and new. Destruction works in this way. Renovation does not.

You would like to remodel the kitchen. The whole kitchen! And the result will be — a ruined house in the slums. With a state-of-the-art kitchen.

Who would sign up for this task? Who would volunteer? No one, because the task is obviously futile. For one thing, the rest of the house is still full of the same old squatters. They can ruin your lovely kitchen in a week. Sooner or later, they will.

It is this futility, both of your approach and of Powerline’s, that creates the deep apathy of the discontented American population — the people who give Congress a 14% approval rating. The 86% could sweep away this body with a tap of its finger — if only they could agree on an alternative to replace it with. They have no such alternative. So it rules, forever.

There’s much more to the exchange. Read the whole thing.


Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

If you haven’t yet seen this video of an American Apache helicopter crew shooting at suspected insurgents, I recommend you skip past the intro to 2:45 in, when the gun-cam footage starts. Try to ignore any helpful captions, so you can see it with your own eyes.

You can stop watching after a few minutes.

Now, viewed without the intro and the captions, the video seems straightforward. An Apache was dispatched to the area for some reason, spots some insurgents armed with AK-47s and RPG-7s, shoots them, spots more insurgents coming to their aid, and then shoots them, too. Simple.

Only, we’re told, those weren’t insurgents armed with AK-47s and RPG-7s, but locals and a reporter with a professional video camera. So the whole thing is tragic — but apparently many, many people on the Net see it as downright sinister.

I think Foseti has it right:

I submit that anyone with a historical perspective will find this video to be 0% shocking. In wars, this stuff happens. If modern warfare is remarkable for anything, it’s for how far some militaries go to avoid these incidents. Nevertheless, it is shocking and sickening and harsh — it is war and it can’t be otherwise.

What I find most interesting, is that no one talks of the most interesting part — namely, the fact that Wikileaks exists. It’s a site that coordinates an illegal activity — one whose only purpose is to facilitate government employees illegally undermining their government agency.

I understand that our system of government (the unwritten American Constitution) depends on leaks from official government (agencies) to unofficial government (press). But I still find it astounding.

If your theory of the way the US government works cannot explain why Wikileaks exists, then your theory sucks. If your plans to reform government do not deal with the Wikileaks phenomenon, then your plans for reform suck. As far as I know, Mencius Moldbug is the only person who has come up with a convincing explanation of why Wikileaks is allowed to exists.

Addendum: It looks like they were carrying weapons — at least by some accounts:

The footage is grainy, but, in fact, it is very clear that some of the men were carrying weapons. See this photo at the Jawa report. Clearly one man is carrying a gun and, it seems to me, the other is carrying an RPG. According to the military, troops on the ground had taken fire and called in for air support. As Bill Roggio wrote yesterday, “note how empty the streets are in the video. The only people visible on the streets are the armed men and the accompanying Reuters cameramen. This is a very good indicator that there was a battle going on in the vicinity. Civilians smartly clear the streets during a gunfight.”

Apparently the official report was that they found RPG rounds at the site:

We remained above the engagement site while Bushmaster sent ground forces to the site. Bushmaster arrived and reported 11 x AIF KIA and found RPGs and RPG rounds at the site. We also witnessed a loaded RPG lying 2-3 blocks south of the engagement site.

Trying to Drown a Fish

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Mencius Moldbug finds it really quite amazing that anyone shows up at elections for the present system of government or cares about it at all:

To anyone who knows anything about Washington, the prospect of achieving any actual result by this means is nothing short of hilarious. Everything in Washington is designed to resist hostile political interference. Indeed, it is nourished by hostile political interference! When you try to defeat Democrats by electing Republicans, you’re trying to drown a fish.

A Great People in a Great Place

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

America’s successes did not happen because of America’s unique political system:

They happened despite America’s unique political system. America became great not because American democracy was great, but because America was a great people in a great place. As such, it was uniquely resistant to the poison of democracy, and alone survived its own disease. Now that the bloom is off the continent’s youth, we can see how well American democracy works in a normal country. Others have experienced this disappointment; now, it is our turn.