FORWARD BASE B

"Pay my troops no mind; they're just on a fact-finding mission."

Rob Stark’s Journey to Vapor Island, A Review

We first meet nerdy Jewish kid, Noam Metzenbaum, at a heavily multiracial urban high school where he takes solace in his books as star Black athletes monopolize the few pretty blond girls. While everyone else goes along to get along, Noam intensely resents the perverse social order he’s forced to live in. He dreams every day of a society that actually rewards people of culture and intellect with aristocratic status, money, and beautiful women. The people he sees receiving society’s best gifts in the real world are almost always the lowest IQ, the most brutish, the most crass and lewd.
Above the plebeian press of sweaty bodies, there’s just one towering modern figure Noam admires, a dissident version of Trump named Blackstone. Like Trump, normal people both high and low in society who benefit from the status quo instinctively loathe him.

After every humiliating day in his grinding reality of crushingly low incel status, Noam confides in his diary how even though he is an outcast, he knows he has a sort of greater vision that people who just want to be popular at school can never understand. This made me both laugh and reminisce. I can remember thinking a lot like Noam at his age. Adults would praise my bookish abilities yet their approval never turned into real advantages in life. To the contrary, anything the older generations encouraged was counterproductive to any sort of real-life success. So as with Noam, I experienced an extreme dissonance as I was despised for trying to develop my gifts and to be the best I could.
As it turned out, everything I had ever been taught was a lie and Noam finds himself trapped as I was, forced into visions of desperate grandiosity to shield himself from truths that are too harsh for sanity to bear.

Noam forms a crush on a blonde Jewish girl he once met who goes to another school. To his delight, he discovers he is transferring to Chadsworth Academy, the preppy private school she attends. Suddenly he has the chance to escape his daily grind, unite with his crush, and finally vindicate himself as a true Platonic aristocrat ubermensch(as anyone in the dissident sphere has probably dreamed of.)
Chadsworth, though, is full of Chads. They are handsome, athletic, with Dads who are big bankers and hedge fund managers. Yet in spite of these noble qualities they are as debased and lewd as the minority athletes Noam despised at his old school. Noam’s sense of betrayal reaches a new level. Before, he could tell himself he only had to escape the bottom of society. Now, he faces the fact that social order is in its sorry state because the whole hierarchy is rotten from top to bottom. If there had been a true nobility steering the ship, things would never have gotten so bad to begin with. Instead, the aristocracy snorts coke, listens to vulgar rappers, and finds time to virtue signal as society continues to fall apart.

Noam’s transition here again resonates with my own experience. As an incel bookworm myself in high school, I could still hope that maybe society as a whole was headed in the right overall direction. As George W. Bush came to power with his contrived Texan accent and thrust the nation into one pointless war after another on behalf of Lockheed Martin and Halliburton, my faith in the entire system went into freefall. The perversion I had experienced was no accident. Even the very highest and most powerful people in the world were insipid, mediocre tools and from them, waterfalls of venom rushed downward. When one is forced to conclude that they’re a majority of one against a fallen world, the dissident path can no longer be avoided. Though Noam’s pretensions to aristocratic ubermensch status are an obvious desperate coping mechanism that is often darkly humorous, it is difficult for the reader to avoid thinking “he’s not wrong.”

Noam is frustrated by the failure of the elite to show elite leadership. He is blocked from being with his one true crush just as surely as before. His disenchantment grows and he must find a way to solve his problems decisively. You’ll have to read the book to find out how.

As the story progresses, there are whole segments of it that I could only describe as pornographic with enormous amounts of all kinds of bodily fluids and bizarrely kinky behavior. Not my thing, but I saw the emphasis on non-penetrative sexual fetishes as a metaphor for our debauched sexual culture that somehow produces practically no offspring or families.
Moreover, Noam’s never-ending longing for his one true crush that he missed in high school despite the unlimited sexuality that surrounds him contains a poignant message about our culture.
We spend decades “dating” around, always wondering what it might have been like to be with that one high school crush and have a family. But the whole mendacious society rotten from top to bottom relentlessly pushed our young and idealistic selves away from the one thing that might have fulfilled us, continued the cycle of life, and sustained the ruling order’s and the culture’s mandate of heaven over us.

Rob Stark’s story makes good use of dissident symbols such as the various colored pills and the religion of Kek.
In one of my favorite scenes, students at Chadsworth Academy have a debate where they form into groups and represent political parties. The smarmy son of a Jewish millionaire and his JAP hangers on get assigned to the Dem establishment faction. The Chads have fun affecting fake southern accents as the establishment conservatives. The nerdy kid who’s just cool enough to be socially accepted speaks for the libertarian candidate no one cares about. Our protagonist, Noam, is the only one who stands up to speak for Blackstone, the Nietzschean dissident Trump figure. The exchange that follows is hilarious. What’s more, the Blackstone platform includes “smart socialism,” a phrase that may well be borrowed from my own blog. I find this sort of cross-pollination of ideas encouraging.

Another thing I would note, is the trend of almost everyone in the story calling out Noam as a virgin, with his Mom as almost the only exception. It’s so exaggerated that it started to remind me of the kid from a Christmas Story getting told “You’ll shoot your eye out!” every time he brings up his desire for a BB gun for Christmas. Almost all the Chad antagonists act like they could have walked right out of Back to the Future. This emphasizes where Noam is at in life as a vulnerable teenager approaching peak sexual frustration. I came to read Noam’s narration as semi-unreliable and it was amusing to try to filter the real world from his perception of it.
As the story reaches its later stages, this unreliability seems to be confirmed. But what should we expect from a story called “Vapor Island?”

Overall, this is perhaps the first novel I’ve read that I would place squarely within the dissident sphere and totally independent of the philosophy and tropes of the neo-liberal order. Despite the strange fetishes that take up quite a bit of this story, I found it to be a poignant parable of growing up as a majority of one in a deranged society where all anyone cares about is popularity, “networking,” and the top 25 pop songs.

Podcast: Pragmatic Dissidence With Robert Stark

Robert Stark and I focused on the specifics of an Alt-Center that recognizes the essential role of effective redistribution in a successful society and rejects worship of the “free market,” critiquing its role in the creation of culture. After all, we can look at all the great art, encyclopedias, and fan made mods people make for free. How do we manage this massive leisure economy? Furthermore, much great work of the past resulted when single, or a few patrons, rather than the mass market was the source of funding for creative work.

Also, I make mention of my dissident fantasy fiction story, Apostasy, and mention some of the inspirations for its setting.

http://www.starktruthradio.com/?p=6924

Human “Stupidity” Comes From Conflict of Interest

Humans are remarkably good at coordinating when everyone’s interests align. Every day there is heavy traffic on the roads because no one gains from crashing. Tens of thousands die every year but in that same time hundreds of millions drive trillions of times. Thus, the incentives for driving to work year after year are correctly aligned.

Markets find a price to a fraction of a cent because an equilibrium between competing interests is arrived at.

But government, politics, sexual and status competition involve a zero sum battle between interests that never ends. This disputed territory is the slice of life that most human energy is devoted to.

When I go on message boards, the most common comment I see is some variety of “OMG people are stupid.” People are not so much directly stupid as they are personally self-interested. The core difference between high and low IQ countries is whether the average person can ask themselves. “What if everyone did it?”
IQ as far as I can tell is a way to get a rough idea of someone’s ability to handle abstraction, and that, as it turns out, is decisive.

Let’s imagine for a moment we’re typically corrupt third world traffic cops. We’re just using a position of power to maximize our leverage in a cutthroat society where a few winners take all. If you don’t take as many bribes as you can, someone else gets ahead of you.
Even if you have 150 IQ in an 85 average IQ society, it doesn’t matter much, because you know that even if you choose not to take bribes, no one around you will follow suit. So even though there are some very intelligent outliers, they are drowned out in the larger culture and its institutions. Some of the smart ones may rise to the top, but they are smart enough to understand minimally abstract crowds require immediate threat of force to keep them in line. Given more than just enough to eat, they breed without abandon until the whole society collapses. So if you are one of the smartest guys in power in a benighted African “republic” why not be a ruthless kleptocrat?
When everyone is maximally self-interested, a single dollar beyond subsistence in another man’s pocket is just a weapon he will one day use against you. If all these countries end up with kleptocrat strongmen, regardless of the nominal form of government, then we must conclude it’s no accident and that’s what the incentives select for.

Third world people are highly effective and rational when it comes to survival. But when everyone is like that, it’s like a Chinese finger trap. The harder you pull away in the direction of societal-level defection and competition the tighter and more inescapable it becomes. Until you have enough people of sufficient intelligence, no one figures out that if you forgo total competition, humans can reach a negotiated truce that allows for higher trust and a superior standard of living for everyone.

Those who cooperate by paying for goods, get more and better stores to choose from. Those who defect by stealing whenever they can are rewarded with “food deserts.” What few stores remain in these districts lock up anything that’s small enough to conceal and worth more than $10.
Whenever I go to the liquor store, single malt scotch is out in the open up to about $100 a bottle. Meanwhile, even lower shelf brandy, especially the Hennessy gets kept behind the cash register where sticky fingers can’t reach it. It is easy to tell which community prefers which.

It plays out the same way in every aspect of life that lies in that disputed sector. For populations of smart people, the contested area is just a bit smaller and that makes a huge difference.

Because lower IQ people are more or less rational. It is easy to have casual conversations with them and not think them especially lacking. This is why people who disparage their capabilities in any way seem like “racists” and why “oppression” seems at first like the best explanation for their consistently poor fortunes. Their deficiency manifests most greatly not on an individual but a group level. The scions of the Enlightenment ultimately abolished the group and therefore regard the study of the interaction of collectives in aggregate as a mortal sin. This neglected and most important of the social sciences, which all advertising and electoral politics are steeped in, is an open opportunity for dissidents of all stripes.

There’s No Power Without “Downward Distribution”

“Downward distribution” or worse, “socialism,” gets muttered in tones of dread from vanilla conservatives to hard core dissidents. This is a sign they are deeply confused since distribution of resources is what makes a ruler to begin with. In primitive societies, there are big men who work hard to throw the biggest feast and win followers. In early cities, the civic life and religion revolves around distributing grain from the temple granary. It is only in mega-societies of millions where flows of wealth are less transparent that anyone could forget the ruler rules by largesse.
As it is, the roads, the parks, libraries, schools, the military and police, the utilities, the courts, public entertainment, are all forms of downward distribution that establish the legitimacy of a ruling class. If the rulers did not redistribute in ways that provided a net benefit against any alternative, no one would suffer them to rule if they could possibly help it. Even if a local gang is the strongest power, it taxes for protection and its godfather may grant a favor in return for your loyalty on his daughter’s wedding day.

When I see rants about downward distribution on message boards, I understand they are really concerned about the wrong kind of redistribution. Yet these critics are almost unanimously unable to make this critical distinction because they buy into an idea of a mythical independent man who pulls himself up by his own bootstraps. This attitude may not have been wholly delusional in an immature frontier society but in the US the frontier started to close off in the 1890s, helping to trigger a wave of populism then as the pressure release valves suddenly stopped working as well. Now, the frontiers are long gone and there are 330 million mouths to feed in an ungovernable omni-ethnic empire.

Until those with that conservative impulse examine themselves, they are doomed to abject failure. They idolize the lone wolf stronger than all the rest or the elite cadre but all social animals decide affairs by politics, or in other words, alliances rather than individual prowess. This is why an alliance of women and gays can effortlessly push aside the protests of individual men. Even an alpha chimpanzee has to be careful about making too many enemies. Thus we need not dwell on theories of Biological Leninism. If one philosophy encourages individual competition and another encourages collective action, an alliance of children throwing dirt clods triumphs just as easily.

Those who like to call themselves right-wing typically exclude more than they include. Joining their group is supposed to be a hard and selective process. This is the fundamental mistake they make in politics. The right fails to distinguish the ethics of the close-knit tribe from the process of making alliances, even with people and groups they may not like.

The right also lacks any introspection about what kind of group it is. Conservatism, for instance, only really appeals to the white upper working class to the middle of middle class outside of major city centers plus some well-to-do country club types. Nothing they do can broaden that appeal. Neither “natural conservatives” nor Prester John will ride out of nowhere to save the day. Conservatives are the classic case of a static tribe that thinks it is an alliance. Since 2016, reality has caught up with them no matter how they might weep and gnash their teeth. They are but one part of a coalition now, unable to decide elections even on their home ground.

The right wing desires power but it always floats outside their grasp and it will always do so until they recognize that that downward distribution is a tool for sealing alliances that help get them what they want. For decades, their reaction has been to thrash and flail like a drowning man, giving anyone who tries to rescue them a sharp elbow to the face in their panic and paranoia. It is a mathematical law that the party of the 48% loses every election by at least 4%.

First, the faction that wishes to assume power must assess who they want to include and who to exclude from a hierarchical alliance while maintaining strict standards for their core tribe which they intend to occupy the top rung. So the problem lies not in whether or not to redistribute, but in how and how much to redistribute to each included faction. Then, when that is decided, it remains to figure out which enemy factions the alliance should attack first and most intensely.

Lately, the term “incel” has entered into the popular consciousness after possibly a decade of it being common parlance in the manosphere. Incels are men who have nothing to lose in the present system, many of them skilled and educated. They are the very stuff from which a re-alignment in power is made. The cost of their loyalty is very little as a plant kept in the dark loves dearly a single hour in the sunlight. Yet right wingers want only Christian married men with solid careers and successful businesses who can spit tight game when needed. They just don’t get it. The people they want most are those least likely to rock the boat.
The raw material is already abundant. Someone astute just needs to throw a few bones in the right directions.

The core thesis of an alt-center is the golden mean where the interests of a neo-tribal aspiring upper caste and its supporting alliance intersect. Instead of shaming the man who doesn’t get laid, offer him virgins if he’s willing to take big risks against the common enemy.

My Parser Computer Game

Programmed in Python 3:

https://github.com/GiovanniDannato/Do-Anything-Text-Game

Growing up I had a special affection for games where you could type commands into a parser because unlike a mouse interface you could attempt anything you could possibly think of and play with language itself.  In puzzle games this made it so you had to actually think things through and no clickfest could save you.  One could try to cheat by typing “use x with y” for every combo of items in your inventory but designers were usually more clever than this.
Frederik Pohl’s Gateway, one of my favorite games of all time, had limited graphics but understood the fun and capricious nature of the text interface better than any other.  The designers actually made an effort to think of all the dumb stuff you might type in. Here’s a couple of screen shots I just made:

messing around in Frederik Pohl’s gateway

 

 

What’s more, Gateway was a very well-made game when you actually took it seriously.  I loved that kind of depth.  For years I wanted to make something similar.  So I did as a way to learn some python a couple years ago.  I’m sure my code is terrible by any professional standard but it seems to work.  There are still bugs of course.

I tried to add some of the whimsical flavor I loved so much back in the day from games like Zork and Gateway. Come to think of it, death sequences were definitely inspired by reading too many Choose Your Own Adventure books as a kid.  I have monsters, puzzles, and an ending.  The player character can take 3 hits before dying.  There is an optional item that will improve your chances at the end but solving that puzzle requires thinking a bit immaturely. If a monster seems overwhelmingly difficult, you probably haven’t found the right item/solved the puzzle yet. If you have a weapon but use the word “hit” you will still be attacking with your hands. For those who have never played these kinds of games:
‘i’ =”look at inventory”
‘n, s, e, w’ = “go x” direction
‘l’ = “look at room”

Finally got around to putting it on github:
https://github.com/GiovanniDannato/Do-Anything-Text-Game
DoAnything is the executable and it should run in python 3.

To Stand Within or Without the Circle of Life

Every thinking person at some point confronts the trap of nihilism.  One is faced with a fork in the road.  Down one way ultimately lies detachment and resignation, down the other way the undivided embrace of life in all its primal vigor.
In my own journey, I would reflect how even insects with grotesquely broken limbs crawl desperately onward until the very last spark is gone out of them.  Those living things that cannot think, I observed, are pure life force, never doubting.

In my own life, I noted that any practice I adopted that went against the pure will to live proved to be ineffective and destructive.  I hadn’t believed in the gods of religions since I was a small child but it became increasingly clear to me that there were objective rules, like laws of physics that govern the outcomes of our beliefs.  I thought it a bit like the concept of the Tao, that there is a Way of the universe and if you try to fight it, it’s like standing in the way of an oncoming ocean.

There was a period in my mid-20s when I had an interest in mysticism and read about figures like Gurdjieff and Aleister Crowley.  At the time, I thought it somewhat disgusting to be a meat robot acting out algorithms that would help me survive and reproduce just like bacteria and insects.  Part of the appeal of mysticism to me then was that my algorithms could be re-directed and the ability to do that might even be equated with humanity, transcendence, and consciousness.  Colin Wilson was one of the authors I read at the time who showed me the way toward a more life-affirming mindset.  He examined men like Nietzsche or Van Gogh who he saw as outsiders who were full of life and creativity but died defeated and broken.  He distilled the problem that faced them into the ultimate ‘yes’ or ‘no.’  Wilson gave a memorable example of the ‘yes’ state by telling a story of a man who was put before a firing squad and had all the beauty and possibilities of life suddenly dawn on him only as he was about to die.

There came a point where I had to admit the mystical thinking was holding me back more than it was helping.  Actually, I noticed on a meta-physical level that living by those rules and mindset not only didn’t work, it created more problems.  Every single time, as if I were testing out the pull of gravity by dropping a pebble.  I came to understand that most of the time detachment is really just a way for losers without hope to accept their lot.  I was reading Will Durant at the time of my transition on the history of the ancient world and on the history of philosophy.  A common theme he noticed is that fatalism and detachment always thrive when bad times or bare subsistence has gone on awhile and isn’t going to change anytime soon.  Whether Stoicism in the West or Buddhism in the East, it was impossible to ignore the conclusion that these belief systems are in large part learned helplessness writ large.

As soon as I began to think of myself as a pure living thing in the natural world with all the physical and meta-physical laws that govern it, my life steadily began to improve, which prompted me to continue in that direction to the present day with consistent results.

Having gone through this journey I may have a glimmer of a fundamental divide between “leftist” enlightenment secularism and everything that now gets called “right wing.”
I remember how the primal life force seemed grinding, mechanical, and crude to me back when I was trying to redirect it.  I still do value the development of consciousness and hate the idea of subsuming myself into an unthinking state.  What changed in me is that I resolved to use my state of consciousness in service of the meta-laws of nature rather than trying to circumvent or defy them.
I can perhaps understand though why a secularist recoils on a visceral level when they hear talk of fertility rates and population replacement.  As scions of enlightenment thought, they see it as blasphemous to weigh down transcendent rational man with the sweat, blood, and rutting of of lower animals.

The secular world view also depends on a notion of relativism, the idea that there are multiple equally valid solutions—at least when it comes to how society is organized.  When they denounce a belief as “radical” or “far right” they mean to say it challenges this doctrine.
The moment one starts to examine how societies throughout history work with a clinical eye it’s clear that some solutions are objectively better than others and that there is often a clearly optimal solution.  One begins to notice persistent patterns across thousands of years of migration, trade, and conquest.  The affairs of humans on a large scale resemble any other natural phenomenon no matter if it’s a blizzard or a beehive.  Yet under the strangling grip of secularism, the same science that dutifully measures the circumferences of a thousand galaxies can’t encompass the dimensions of culture here on earth.  It is bizarre and unholy for them to contemplate the gears and tickings of millions humans as a whole sorted into categories when each person must be considered a rational agent desirous of endless goods and services but bereft of any group.

The emerging anti-secular thesis rejects societal relativism and embraces the laws of nature as the rightful guiding star for all life.  This is why there’s that irreconcilable chasm.  For even an attempt at discussion to take place, some basic premises must be agreed upon.

We might consider Conan the Barbarian, a wild wanderer who is practically apolitical even once he becomes a king, yet few would hesitate to call him a right-wing character, even if they cannot say why.  In every story he appears in he’s likened to big predators preparing to pounce.  He embraces the pure passion of being alive over intellectual detachment:
Let me live deep while I live; let me know the rich juices of red meat and stinging wine on my palate, the hot embrace of white arms, the mad exultation of battle when the blue blades flame and crimson, and I am content. Let teachers and philosophers brood over questions of reality and illusion. I know this: if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.”
Just by existing, Conan embodies the primal life force, objective reality, and the circle of life, making him the opposing principle of priestly idealists.

The great circle of life is not just a cycle.  There are those who stand within and without it.  Within are those who simply have kids as well as those who understand there are Malthusian pressures, Nash equilibria, and endless competition between groups.  These people all share a sense of seriousness about existence.  Like hatchling sea turtles striving towards the waves as waiting predators pick them off, they stay fixed on their mission.  Life must find a way wherever it finds itself.

Those who stand outside the circle of life are fixed on the injustice of the natural world and hold its harsh attrition in contempt by trying to remove themselves from its demands.  They base their lives around vacations, hobbies, “soulmates,” and their hopes for progress towards heavenly Utopia.  Their lives are never quite serious.  There is no wrong way to live.  The sun eventually explodes, the universe one day ends.   Yet despite these superficially callous attitudes they regard their values as their children that will take over the world when they are gone.  This willful delusion that their pseudo-intellectualism lives after them obscures the truth that by Divine Justice they already are fossils to be excavated some millions of years later with a petrified deck of Cards Against Humanity alongside their contorted skeletons.

The Shape of Water: Del Toro’s Final Descent into PC

I heard del Toro’s film The Shape of Water had a politically correct agenda touted by the recent Oscars, but I still watched it.  As soon as I saw the trailer I was drawn in.  Whatever, its political orientations, this is one of the more aesthetically appealing films I’ve ever seen.  You might even say it kind of feels like bioshock/fallout, the movie with its retro tech feel and color scheme of oceanic aqua, golden lights, and rich amber tones with rain perpetually pouring(one of the atmospheric effects I liked about Blade Runner.)
This shouldn’t be completely surprising given Del Toro’s previous love of making surreally realistic films in the tradition of the Spanish speaking world.  Nor are his leftist sympathies anything new in his work.

Pan’s Labyrinth (2006), the film that really made Del Toro recognized internationally had Captain Vidal, an evil right-wing White male in sharp uniform who’s a complete raging dick with a submissive wife and no redeeming qualities to speak of.  Years later, the villain in this latest film, Colonel Strickland, fits a very similar profile but manages to be possibly an even more over-the-top cartoon mustache-twister.
Whereas Vidal was mainly a symbol of authoritarianism with some sexism thrown in, Strickland is a brimming cauldron of multiple “isms” in a film that’s very consciously set right before the Civil Rights Era.

We meet Strickland in a restroom where he walks in on the female janitor protagonists, starts peeing in a urinal right in front of them and starts talking to them midstream like LBJ might have done.  Then as he continues to relate to the ladies in an off-puttingly affable manner he tells them his baton is actually a stun prod, an “Alabama Howdy Do.”  I think it is hard to be any more heavy handed than this and that’s just the very beginning.

We soon discover Strickland is using his baton to regularly torture the water creature for no reason.  Captain Vidal also loved torturing people but at least he was motivated by his desire to get information from suspected spies and enemy combatants.  Why would Strickland do that if he took the trouble to capture it and bring it all the way back from South America alive to a top secret base?  The creature is supposedly the key to technological secrets that could decide the Space Race and ultimately, the Cold War.  It can’t talk to them vocally nor are they interested in communicating with it.  Why on Earth would even a villainous person want to risk harming “the asset?”  Strickland even loses two of his fingers playing this pointless game and then keeps doing it.  At one point a five star general walks into the room with the creature beaten and bloodied right in front of him and sees nothing wrong with it.  What the hell?

Alas, we know why.  The visuals of the Southern White good ol’ boy cop and then the curmudgeonly old general standing over the lacerated water creature in chains says it all.  The fish man obviously represents the diversity crowd as a whole, the White males, the ultimate evil oppressors of the secular mystery religion.

The main protagonist is Elisa, one of the female janitors, who is mute and while quite White has the Spanish surname to perhaps give her another fraction of a diversity point.  I enjoyed seeing subtitled sign language on screen and how that added to the physical acting in the film.  The main character and her companions are actually well-written and quite charming even though each of them blatantly represents a major diversity lobby.

The goofily heartwarming gay best friend inexplicably goes to the same pie place frequently to get the same pie, even though it’s just a chain and the pies are terrible(his refrigerator is full of barely nibbled-on slices).  It finally makes sense when we realize he’s gay and has a crush on the guy who runs the place.  The sassy female Black sidekick punches in her mute friend’s timecard whenever she’s late for work holding back a whole line of other co-workers to do it.  While these archetypes don’t behave like they do in real life, in my experience, these are fun and loyal people anyone would want to be friends with.  Contrasting the cast of good guys with the overwhelming villainy, crassness, creepiness, and cruelty of the White men and the gorgeous aesthetics gives us the makings of some very persuasive propaganda.

We have the disabled, the gay, the Black woman but one team member is still missing, a Jewish scientist Soviet spy with a heart of gold.  He turns a blind eye to Elisa’s interactions with the creature and even ends up pretty much recruiting her once he needs to simply save the creature from being vivisected as part of his mission.  His own feelings implausibly get in the way, even though it is established he is quite ruthless when he needs to be.  He was prepared to kill the creature if he couldn’t rescue it and at one point, he murders a clean-cut White military guard who did nothing wrong to help the fish man escape.  None of the protagonists, normally thoughtful of others’ suffering, seem to care.  There are for all of us those who fall outside our circle of empathy, a rule of human nature the “open minded” always prove true in spite of themselves.
After taking these extraordinary measures, the spy then lies very obviously to his Soviet handlers about his knowledge of the creature’s whereabouts and instantly seals his own fate, for no compelling reason as far as his previously shrewd character is concerned.

Every narrative will carry ideological messages of some kind but a well-crafted story tries to keep the message of the story consistent with the narrative structure.  In good storytelling even the most vile villains have plausible motives and perhaps some redeeming qualities to add an element of tragedy to their downfall.  Most movies tilt leftwards to say the very least so when I watch one that is well made, I can suspend my ordinary beliefs for a couple hours and just enjoy it on its artistic qualities.  This is where it gets complex for me.  The Shape of Water has good acting, good dialogue, amazing attention to detail and aesthetics, how can it manage to still go wrong?

Despite everything the movie has going for it, I can’t quite immerse myself.  As biased as Pan’s Labyrinth was, I could just enjoy the story on its merits.  According to Del Toro the “pale man” from that film was supposed to be a politically correct jab but back when I saw the film, I’d never seen a more unsettling and terrifying monster.  The political subtext was inlaid deeply enough I could just appreciate the story and the artistry.  That Del Toro had to make a statement about it years later, demonstrates it was at least somewhat subtle.
Over a decade later, what once was muted is now a blaring airhorn.  It’s impossible to ignore the politics anymore.  At some point, a story reaches an event horizon where the message starts to supersede character development and structure until eventually all that’s left is a spittle-spraying preacher pounding the pulpit.

Perhaps Hollywood learned its lesson from Avatar where I found the gung-ho duty-bound white male antagonist, Colonel Quaritch, far more sympathetic and badass than the indulgent and selfish “hero,” Sully, who finds an Indian village and predictably throws everyone else under the bus for a chance to bang the chief’s daughter.
So now, the antagonist is made into a caricature of even a real-life shitty person and the story misses many opportunities in its monomaniacal obsession.
If we pretend for a moment that I could go back in time and help out Del Toro with the script, maintaining fidelity to his political vision, here are some suggestions that would have made the story less preachy, more complex, with better character motivation.

-Having Strickland torture the water creature serves no purpose.  He’s already established as a huge douchebag.  If anything, a sincere guy who is just doing his job might make for a more believable antagonist.  Or at least if he must be truly evil, try not to make him a caricature since this is a drama, not an action film.
-Having the muteness of the protagonist as a feminist allegory of women “silenced by the patriarchy” is beyond ridiculous.  This point could have been more subtle but Strickland’s fetish for women being silent during sex(and in general) pounds in that point with a sledgehammer.

-Every blond character turns out to be mean or unlikable in some way.  Strickland and his blond wife are shown be somehow debased and perverted while the goofy gay guy is awesome even though he flirts with a blond straight guy who doesn’t take kindly to his advances.  Even more sinful, Strickland has two White kids.  They stare like zombies at the TV screen watching cowboys shooting Indians rather than the quirky melange of dance numbers and nostalgic clips the good guys always watch.  We never even see Strickland interact with his kids because any humanizing touch would be too much.  This is all overkill.  Just stop and try to portray real people.

-The Soviet spy tells his handlers exactly what’s going on and where the creature is as we would expect.  Even if he has emotional reservations he has a bigger mission and knows he would be endangering his own life if they suspect he is withholding information.  The film then reaches its climax as the American military and undercover Soviets converge on Elisa to stop her from helping the fish man escape.  I think that would lead to a pretty cool ending.  But no, the communist spy has to be a revisionist good guy, even if the script has to make him stupidly sacrifice himself to make it work.  Whatever.

One last thought, the single most disturbing moment for me might have been when the fish man goes out into the apartment to explore and eats one of the gay guy’s pet cats.  Everyone seems to take it in stride, rationalizing that the creature didn’t have a moral understanding of its actions and has been through a long period of torture and oppression.  Confronted with kindness it begins to understand it did wrong and starts doing things to make up for it.  This struck me as an allegory for the way the establishment always excuses terrorist attacks and consistently high crime rates from some minority ethnic groups.  Even within the context of a story, this propaganda message was particularly hard to sit through.
Nevertheless, that I could find this level of shilling as compelling as I did reminds me why our establishment has been so resilient.  The so-called left still dominates the realm of story-telling and aesthetics.  Though their grip on the popular imagination has begun to slip, there seems no clear replacement yet.

How Does the US Empire End?

The world has largely been at peace for almost 80 years now under American hegemony. It’s pretty impressive, really. Constant war and high levels of local violence have been the rule for most of human history. The world is a far more tame and centralized place than it used to be…for now. No one lifts a finger without an ID number that’s far more important than their mere given name. So what after all, is so bad about our entrenched ruling classes?

There were also about 100 years between the Conference of Vienna and World War 1. It would seem that when conflicts have been held in stasis for awhile and the balance of power becomes ever more like a precarious house of cards, it can all come tumbling down at once.
As with forest fires, even managed forests have to have controlled burns to prevent a much worse conflagration later in a forest packed full of trees weakened by tight competition.

But how does the seemingly impregnable national order actually end? It took two world wars to finally end the British Empire and unseat the pound as the world reserve currency.
America has an enviable geopolitical position with domination of an entire continent, separated from any competitors by thousands of miles of ocean.
It has a stranglehold on the world economy. They say when a debtor gets too big, the creditors are at their mercy. Too big to fail, as they say. If the US were to fold we would see another worldwide depression.
Hence it’s in everyone’s interests to make sure that doesn’t happen. So long as US consumers are indispensable to the world economy, the whole world of servants will rush to keep the consumers aloft on their luxurious palanquin and comport them along their way, above the sweaty press of the common crowds.

However, Golden Age Spaniards also thought they could purchase more than they could produce forever and that never works. Even if you have access to bottomless bullion from a whole New World, it’s just stand-in token for real wealth. Sooner or later, reality catches up. If, like a Spanish Habsburg King, you’re buying all your tapestries from Flanders, your parade armor from Milan, your glasswork from Venice, sooner or later the bill comes due and all the people you poured your money on for a hundred years are now the powerful people.

At present, though, the thought of a Chinese unilateral superpower remains laughable when we consider they’d be thrust back into bare subsistence farming with human shit for fertilizer if it were not for the juggernaut of 1st world demand. Constant hysteria aside, China cannot be even a truly sovereign power until they are no longer utterly dependent on other powers for their wellbeing.

I am a fan of the Mark Yuray hypothesis that besides a US led “international community” there are only really two sovereign powers, China and Russia. While the two “sovereign powers” may have formidable home rule, though, they are still completely dependent on the international system.
If we were to reformulate a bit, we might say there are:
-Powers under the direct political hegemony of the US Neo-Liberal Establishment
-Powers (like China and Russia) that manage their internal affairs but still answer to the world-wide economy.

China is stuck making manufactured goods for Wal-Mart, or else there would probably be a second Taiping rebellion composed of the starving unemployed.
Russia can’t really deny shipments of natural gas to Europe or even the oligarchs would be facing hard times. The whole economy of Russia is only worth a bit more than that of Italy with nearly 3 times the population. Accounting for Purchasing Power Parity means the numbers aren’t quite as ridiculous—everything 1st world is ridiculously expensive. It doesn’t change the fact Russia isn’t really 1st world and never really has been. They have tons of weapons, but so what until you actually use them?

Manufacturing and commodities comprise the backbone of economic activity, yet in the post-modern era the real proceeds go to value-added goods and rent-seeking. An I-phone beats the crap out of the world’s best potassium anyday when it comes to securing money and power. Every step of the process, outsourced all over the world, accrues a bit more profit than the last and presents that much more of a barrier to entry against any competitors. As for rents, why actually make stuff when you can just charge someone to use your same old property every month?

So, we have a world economy where finance, interest, rent, value-added products are the predators and commodities and manufacturing are prey.
Of course, the weakness of predator nations is they increasingly lack a backbone to support all their stored-up fat after decades of feasting.
As with the Spanish after their golden century, all the money gets sent to the actual producers of tangible goods and all the manipulations of finance and rent might as well be a sleight of hand with Chuck-E-Cheese tokens.

But for now, banana republics like Russia that churn out boring commodities are suckers. How do we transition into the long run?

On casual observation, the US Empire has two main mechanisms that keep it in power:
-Economic interdependence. No one can afford to opt out.
-Military dominance. If persuasion fails no one can opt out, even if they want to.

On one side of the world, the oil exporters of the Middle East are obligated to do business in dollars by both the overwhelming convenience of the network effect (the same one that keeps people using Windows) and and if the offering of bread fails, then the stick.  “Pan o palo,” as Porfirio Diaz liked to put it.

On the other side of the world along the Pacific Rim, the price of mass exporting to the US is you have to use much of the proceeds to finance US debt.  It also pays to buy tons of US currency to be able to manipulate the dollar.

The net effect is that these East Asian powers are at once tributary vassal states and shareholders in the US Empire.  This is what makes the prevailing order so stable.  The USA and East Asia are joined at the hip.  China and Japan can engage in considerable internal manipulations in the US.  In return, their interests are intricately tied to the fortunes of the US, holding them hostage to its capricious whims and holding them responsible to keep their great benefactor propped up no matter what.

Those who like to obsess about the national debt fail to understand that the US, as the center of the Empire, operates by different rules.  If the US incurs trillions in debt, so what?  They simply auction it off as bonds and there must be enough takers willing to buy them up or the whole game is up and nobody wants another worldwide depression.
In reality even the national debt is just another system of extracting tribute from lesser nations and from the hapless peasantry who happen to live within the bounds of the Central Imperial Zone aka. USA.

But all Empires so far have fallen, so how does the US Empire, perhaps the most powerful in history, deteriorate?

To begin with, it has already begun.  The idiotic foreign policy of the decadent mandarin classes within the Washington beltway has already driven Russia and China into alignment.  Only their high-flung lunacy and idiocy could have managed to forge these two most natural rivals together!

This new Eurasian alliance with China and Russia at its center has begun the process of negotiating trade agreements outside of the sacred US dollar.  One by one, numerous satellites of the Empire are signalling they are dropping out and it happens with barely a headline.  Last month I think it was Cambodia.  A couple weeks ago, Pakistan after decades of enormous bribes to their leaders while getting little in return.  Much more well-broadcast, the Philippines, once literally an Amerian colony failed to kowtow to the American President.
What is most telling is how these entities can drop out now without any “color revolutions” fomented by US intelligence or wars of “freedom” fomented against them on phony pretexts.  The fear of reprisal, unless truly weak and without strong nearby allies just isn’t what it used to be.

But this steady decline isn’t enough and meaningful change is fairly rarely gradual anyway.  Even if the erosion has progressed steadily there is still a catalyst and a cataclysm that brings about a new order, always more abruptly than the bean counters expect.  In history, the water level reaches a certain key height and then there’s a flood that tends to take us by surprise.  What is that in the case of the US Empire?

A couple obvious answers right now:

-The US gets involved in more Middle East quagmires as the military budget perpetually bloats in size.  As the Empire gets more desperate to keep its “clients” in order, it starts to take off the velvet gloves.  We now see a Sunni-Israeli alliance against a Shi’ite-Russian bloc with Turkey and Egypt acting as opportunists.  The US foreign policy establishment has committed more and more to the Saudis and Israelis, a stance that could suck them into a general conflict that will finally siphon off too much of their resources, like the Soviets in Afghanistan.  Worse for the US, the Persians are throughout history a higher IQ, more civilized, and competent people than the Arabs who beyond the inception of Islam and the Rashidun Caliphate were hardly ever a major power.  Pumping money and weapons into Saudi Arabia through years of protracted conflict will be as much a black hole of wealth as social programs in inner St. Louis or Detroit.  For now, the Arabs put oil profits into useless fighter planes as the Chinese put their export profits into US bonds and dollars.  The smug US establishment will gape in astonishment as the financially bulky Saudis start to tire after just a few rounds and then they have to pay them to take more weapons, desperately trying to keep them in the fight.  As guys like Hitler can attest, crappy allies are just a liability.

-The US debt at some point simply becomes big enough to fail and the rest of the world has built just enough of its own infrastructure that they are willing to let it drop.  Already, city and state governments are failing in the US even as the federal edifice continues to vacuum up the world’s wealth.  The main takeaway though is the circle of people and organizations who benefit from the Empire’s streams of tribute grows ever smaller.  Once it grows small enough, there simply won’t be enough people with power and money who are invested in the Empire’s continuation.

Podcast With Rob Stark About Alt-Centrism, Current Events

http://www.starktruthradio.com/?p=6168

This time, we discussed among many things

-the direction of American politics, especially the development of a true “alt-left” from disillusioned Bernie progressives

-the shifting of alliances in the Middle East and how ethnic struggles there presage the future of US internal politics.

-the importance of social capital in determining human desires and the general direction of societies.

-the impropriety of suffering the presence of the underclasses in cities that rightfully belong to society’s best cooperators

And more… Please join us.

My New Alt-Dissident Fantasy Fiction

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5 (conclusion)

I have previously opined that the alt-dissidents ought to establish culture and aesthetics rather than just making formal arguments.
I decided to try to practice what I preach and for the last few weeks I’ve been working on a mini-novella instead of my regular blog posts. I’ve chosen to write in a fantasy setting because I’ve always wanted to, but also because establishing mythological tales is a natural place to start for an emerging culture. And much of modern mythology comes from fantasy, sci-fi, and superhero stories.
Narratives about gods and heroes are popular in every culture because humans seem to universally process the world around them in terms of archetypes. Greek Gods, Norse Gods, and modern superheroes all embody essential principles and the interactions of these characters mirror the relationships between those principles in real life. It is my guess that myth-making is a primal human activity because it can communicate abstractions even to people who are illiterate and/or low IQ on a visceral and intuitive level.

I have often used the concepts of Heaven and Hell on this blog to contrast the established social order with those who thrive outside of it and against it. Now, I have applied this analogy to a narrative.
I didn’t feel this blog was the right medium for longer pieces of fiction. I have always believed in sticking to essays here between 600-1500 words that readers can easily scroll through.
So I approached Kaiter Enless of Logos Club with a query and after reviewing it, he expressed his interest in publishing my story on his site divided into 4-5 parts. Part 1 was just put up today and I will have the rest forthcoming soon.

Special thanks to Garr who personally volunteered his time to edit and critique the story and to Ulric Kerensky who also read through the rough draft and gave me excellent feedback.

The Dance of Cooperation and Defection

It’s good to cooperate when everyone is defecting and good to defect when everyone cooperates.  Kind of like it’s you vs. the crowd when you try to buy a stock low and sell it high.
In a high trust society, it pays to be the first to break trust and plunder the commons knowing that the full satisfaction of your greed won’t even make a dent.
Once too many people join in the plunder, the payoff plummets as everyone’s defenses go up.  Worse, once that downward spiral of mass defection starts, it’s hard to break out of it.  We’ve yet to ever see a society recover from decadence and avoid collapse.
Yet the first group that can somehow break out of that negative spiral cleans up and founds the new order.  This seems to be what happened with early Christianity.  All they had to do was be a group of people who actually cared about each other and backed each other up.  Once they got sufficiently established an atomized late-stage popular culture nobody cared to defend was easily swept aside.

Conversely when everyone goes along with the system it pays to be the guy who exploits the herd.  In the US Civil War, there were professional enlistment dodgers once large sign-up bonuses became necessary to recruit more troops.  While the guy who followed instructions and popular sentiment naively marched into the line of fire expecting glory,  the guy who stayed out of the early craze could get paid just to show up and then change identities to do it again.  While raking in all that cash, I can only imagine the successful dodger was quite the catch for all the lonely young ladies and found himself living in luxury, getting laid like tile while the other poor schlub was getting his gangrenous leg sawed off.  Winners and losers: those who can adjust their survival strategies to changing circumstances and those who get outmaneuvered.

Our own society suffers from far too many defectors and as a result social capital has collapsed.  We’re bowling alone and doting on animals to feel some kind of connection in the midst of this economic war of all against all.  The unclaimed prize goes to the first organization, whatever it is, that establishes high-trust, reliable social capital for even average people who get trashcanned for falling a few steps behind the pack.  This is the service that early Christianity provided and it exploded because the pent up demand for cooperation was immense.   Those who got in the faith during its rise and avoided getting martyred got to reap the benefits of family and community while everyone else was still fighting to the death over a dwindling trail of crumbs.

I felt the dots in my head connecting as I read about Darwin’s finches a few years ago.  Female preference is elastic because they just select whichever males seem well-fed and prosperous at a given time.  Whenever the environment changes, different kinds of males meet with more success and become the most attractive.  The present social order heaps money and status on the most flagrant defectors, getting them the best mates as decay nears rock-bottom.  Being the best defector is increasingly difficult though because everyone is trying to do it.  At some point it’s smarter to look for the early Christians wherever they may be found and sit tight while the cycle winds down.  This is pretty much what formerly nihilistic PUAs are doing as they’ve changed their rhetoric almost unanimously to family, nation, and traditional marriage over the last few years.

The story of the finches also made me think of the decline of the middle class.  During good times, it pays to be a generalist who can benefit from many different food sources.  During bad times, the best survivors are specialists that can access niches others can’t reach.  Right now is a boom time for the highly skilled upper middle class as it is for the highly fecund underclasses.  Those of merely above average intelligence and disposition have neither the brains or patience to be electrical engineers nor the raw guile and viciousness needed to rule the streets.  Now that there’s a drought, they find themselves starving while specialists thrive.  The prevailing question is, from what direction do the next rains arrive?

Unlike finches, humans have some ability to shift their strategies and pivot with the times.  The human brain arose from nature not to invent science but to participate in a cerebral arms race between humans locked with each other in a collective prisoner’s dilemma with constantly shifting payoffs and losses.  The finches have different kinds of beaks for different foods, lions have teeth and claws to kill prey, humans try to win at the great game of musical chairs.

Suburban Populism Beats Rural Traditionalism In Mass Identity Politics

Race is indeed a major dividing line between human beings and their collective interests but class and culture is often at least as important.  The dissident right’s model of reality falls short when it focuses on race while ignoring class.  

Barack Obama, for example, is anathema to working class Whites as Trump is to upper middle class Whites.  People across the political spectrum seem to focus on Obama’s Blackness even though he is only half-Black and talks and acts White much of the time.  Race is a huge factor, but at least as significant is how Obama oozes a smarmy SWPL vibe.  When you combine race and class in one man, you end up with anti-red-state personified.  When Obama said “clinging to guns and religion” that was roughly equivalent to Trump saying “not sending their best” or “grab them by the pussy.”   

The upset defeat of Roy Moore is a good example of the importance of class and culture.  The focus on bibles and cowboy hats may have appealed to the rural working classes but alienated the suburban middle classes.  This leaves Reagan era conservatism and the religious right utterly discredited as decisive political forces.  Even a lame GOP candidate should have won easily in Alabama, by far too much for ballot stuffing in the cities to make a difference.
To be successful in politics, populists and racial identitarians must be able to reach across the huge class and culture barrier or at least, not be overtly threatening to the other side.

On right wing blogs and on gab I see endless discussion about everything from being “trad” to restoring the Christianity of the crusades(Deus Vult!).  Also pretty popular is posturing about getting married to virgins somewhere in rural Montana or putting sodomites back in the closet.  These are kind of cool-sounding concepts that establish an aesthetic and a “feel.”  They’re great for memes and trolling too. The problem with all these things is some people start to forget that this stuff is fantasy.

In the real world, most of America lives in the suburban orbit of the cities and not only does a minority live in the more traditional countryside, lots of them are old people.  The city and its hinterlands is where most the action is at.  The country has the advantage of providing safer territory for right wing populists to operate in, but in any kind of electoral politics, suburbanites both middle and working class have to be the main focus.  Even people in the country can use facebook and tinder now.  Going “trad” is a recipe for failure at this point.  Nobody really can go back or even really wants to.  The real question is what replaces obsolete, dead social structures.

That’s a problem that can’t really be dealt with until more urgent matters are settled first.  What most Euro-Americans can agree on now across class lines are the principles of alt-centrist tribal populism.  Everyone younger than boomers intuitively gets that the pie is either static or shrinking for most people no matter how headlines boast about unemployment or the stock market.  Thus the fundamental question all politics must address is how to increase the security and access to resources of a given group.  First, constituents need solid proposals of how they will materially benefit. 

Talking about “heritage” is a good start to set the tone, but the looming reality is we have jobs we have to show up at, bills to pay—and that’s what informs most of our actual actions.  European roots are just an abstraction for the typical suburban White American.  The way forward is to remind them how they are living in exile and can be forced to run away again at any time, how affirmative action turns their jobs into nightmares, how immigration legal or illegal crushes their wages, how the law fails to protect them from colored criminals and punishes them more severely, how their taxes fund the very parasites they struggle to fend off…

The mistake of speaking to principles and responsibility is no one actually wants those things.  Being principled and responsible is tough and in the modern workplace these behaviors are not rewarded, or even crushed and punished instead.  Nobody cares.  Successful politics offers people something they want.  The common complaint about the left’s successes is they give out “free stuff.”  Well, that’s exactly what a successful faction is supposed to do for its people.  If you don’t get a share of the plunder, why bother?  A political movement that spouts empty platitudes about individual responsibility while leaving its ordinary backers with empty pockets has already lost.

Heritage, tradition, cohesiveness, self-improvement, and responsibility are the legitimate language of nascent neo-tribes and cells of activists for whom loyalty and cooperation matters most—but it has no place in mass politics. 
Dissident activist groups already form a sort of cultural aristocracy, a tiny handful who make international headlines every time they appear in public.  As a vanguard they have a powerful ability to nudge the ship in the direction they want it to go, but they can’t forget—they are not the ship.
Most of us are still stuck on the 20th century idea that every successful idea must become a mass movement.  In the 21st century, there is a strategy for the cultural aristocracy and a lowest-common denominator approach for people who are just worried about paying the bills.

Both the counter-cultural aristocracy and regular people alike must understand how race, class, and culture intersect.  If there is excessive focus on race, the upper classes win by simply dividing the races against each other and making them fight over the crumbs.  It blinds identitarians to important institutional divides.

A video came out recently showing a white man abjectly begging police for his life as they scream contradictory instructions at him and make him play a life-and-death game of Simon says until they have an “excuse” to pull the trigger.  The guys who shot Daniel Shaver after treating him worse than an animal were White themselves.  But anyone with common sense knows the real color of a cop’s skin is Blue.

I have wanted to vomit in my mouth a bit every time I’ve seen right-wingers heaping praise on police and the military.  I’ve been perplexed at their sense of shock every time the institutions have turned on them.  Had they understood other factors than race, they would have known the enforcers of the system are their most natural enemies.
This is in fact an area where the alt-right and black lives matter share common ground.  These groups are also natural enemies but perhaps both could set aside their differences where the police are concerned.

Successfully pursuing identitarian interests will require just this kind of diplomatic nuance.  A group with an incorrect or incomplete model of reality can easily be triggered into counter-productive and self-destructive actions.  By indulging in delusion, the establishment left has been caught in a downward spiral since Trump came down the golden escalator.  Now their energies are consumed by feminist witch hunts, race-politics in sports, and obsession with fever dreams of impeachment.  Entrapment in that blinding haze of rage, panic, and pain is a fate any faction would wish to avoid. 

Dissident Success Requires Cities

I too get a certain sense of delight seeing a map of the “Hillary archipelago” a few blue counties drowning in an immense sea of red.  Yet I still remember that LA, NYC, or Chicago areas, each easily outnumber all the population of the mountains, northern Great Plains, and the Great Basin combined.  The vast stretch in between Reno, Salt Lake City and Omaha up to the Canadian border has possibly less than 10 million in it out of a country of 330 million.  If not for provisions protecting small states built into the constitution, these outlying provinces would be politically irrelevant.

Even aside from overwhelming quantity, cities have been the natural generators of culture, art, and ideas since the beginning of civilization.  It is a common sentiment in the dissident right to be disdainful of the city, and having lived in cities, I vehemently agree with most of their points.  I only disagree with the conclusion that the city ought to be written off and surrendered.  On the contrary, the goal should be to take the city back.

When you have millions of people who can hop on a subway for a few bucks and see each other within the hour at any time, you can have groups of even highly unusual types of people that can meet up regularly.  Nobody reaches their full potential alone.  Throughout history look at any group of contemperaneous authors, artists, or thinkers and usually they all knew each other or at least corresponded.  These social circles generally had to form in cities.
The internet made the fluid real-time formation and exchange of ideas possible outside of urban areas for the first time, but this interaction remains abstract and ghostly until it is consolidated by regular interaction in person between people.  In the countryside a nascent high IQ counterculture is usually too diffusely distributed.  The city allows for the concentration of a critical mass of neo-tribalists in close proximity where they can interact and their energies can be amplified.

We will know the internet dissidents have fully transitioned into the real world not just when they have rallies, but when there are urban neighborhoods people associate with their identity that have their own public events and meeting places.  There are, however, the circumstances we have now that make cities ridiculously overpriced, unsafe, and dirty.  The dissidents might begin as a rough urban enclave bringing improvement to a small area but with long term goals in mind of how cities ought to be managed to maximize civilizational creativity.

Firstly, we should reflect on the problem of unproductive underclasses flooding into urban areas.  A properly run system wouldn’t allow this.  The poorest will always be crushingly poor no matter where you put them.  Productive people produce far more wealth if they have easy access to urban areas.  It does not make sense to even allow underclasses near the cities.  By simply occupying space, they drive up prices for scarce real estate.  This is compounded by the fact that any place they congregate becomes uninhabitable for law-abiding cooperators.  Even worse, crime spreads outward from these dead zones and further contributes to making cities into violent undesirable sinkholes people work a job in and then flee from at 4 PM.

In a righteous empire, the city should be seen as a desirable privileged place that non-rich cooperators are rewarded with access to, not a third world hellhole.  Obviously every city has many lower IQ jobs that need to be done, but that just requires an orderly, properly vetted working class preferably with higher IQ and conscientiousness than their work strictly requires.  Every person who lives in an urban area incurs a significant opportunity cost for society if they do not need to be there or are not the best choice to fill their scarce spot with.

When skilled professionals making six figures start living in their employer’s parking lot, we already know society has seriously mismanaged its resources and infrastructure.  Just think of all the wealth that gets wasted in a huge bonfire as people compete for scarce access to the economy’s machinery!  When poor planning and a dysfunctional undercaste prevent wealth producers from reaching the means of production, it’s kind of like cells getting blocked from processing oxygen by exposure to cyanide.

Of course, the main structural problem of cities in all times and places is they are “gene shredders” as Spandrell calls it.  Civilizations rise as the brightest and most capable congregate in cities and declines as they fail to breed or are massively outbred by the peasantry and underclass.  The automobile and with it the modern suburb allow people to participate in the urban economy while still reproducing at near-replacement levels.  Real light rail systems would be a lot better still.  Thus admission into the suburbs also must also be carefully controlled to have a sustainable high agency urban society.

In the longer run, I hope new technologies might even make cities less important and allow people to live outside of nodes on a narrow grid that are natural chokepoints for rent-seekers.  The obvious strategic problem with modern mega-cities is their huge vulnerability to attack.  Having all the best and brightest in one spot of course means it’s not that hard to decapitate an entire civilization with a single strike.
So long as the city remains the center of modern human power and organization, any dissidents require at least a foothold there.

The Cryptocurrency Explosion

I do not know that much about cryptocurrency yet but I will take a stab at discussing it as even some “official” sources seem wrapped up in one hysteria or another.  The people who write for zerohedge, for example, live and breathe investing but always seem to write about how the world is ending.  I guess perpetual clickbait is a good business model for them.

Even tech-savvy people are calling cryptocurrency a “bubble” but I don’t think that’s the right way to think of it.  There’s a clear demand and niche for the value it provides.  These currencies are just now reaching a point that normal people can use them easily and a critical mass of businesses and organizations are adopting them. 

So the huge explosion of cryptocurrency over the last year is not so much a bubble as it is the Atlantic spilling past the Pillars of Hercules and filling up the basin of the Mediterranean.

The question is not when it will burst but when it finds its natural level and reaches a steady equilibrium.  How much water does the Mediterranean hold?  I’m very far from being expert in anything financial but I casually notice world bond markets hold 10s of trillions of dollars and precious metals contain well over 10 trillion dollars worth of value.  World-wide derivatives are somewhere in the hundreds of trillions.  The market cap for all cryptocurrencies combined only approached 500 billion dollars in the last day or so.  I could imagine that as a mature sector, cryptocurrency ought to hold at least a few trillion. 
That said, even as the Mediterannean sea fills up, I can anticipate there will be plenty of volatility between cryptocurrencies.  Right now, I suspect bitcoin is golden because everyone is using it.  It might be the microsoft windows of cryptocurrency, for a little while.

Unlike operating systems, cryptocurrencies don’t have as much of a moat.  There’s little to stop a business from accepting multiple crypto-currencies.  Also, bitcoin is way too slow and it already has many alternatives, even bitcoin cash, a more scalable hard fork of itself out there. Bitcoin alone is worth more than all the other cryptos combined which is pretty impressive, but that’s still a lot of market share out there it doesn’t control which has also been growing.

The real killer about bitcoin’s slow transaction speed is miners will be able to blow up fees for priority customers to get to the front of the line until bitcoin becomes the San Francisco, Manhattan, or Arlington of cryptocurrencies.  As wait time and fees mount, the pressure rises to spread ballast to other crypto-currencies, especially those that have been specifically engineered for better scalability.

So the real question regarding bitcoin is how strong the network effect is before it starts to settle into equlibrium with other cryptocurrencies.

Sexual Harassment Hysteria Seriously Undermines the Establishment

Since the beginning, feminism has been a sort of alliance between women and powerful men against the average Joe.  Even in first wave feminism, the leaders were the wives of upper and upper middle class men who supported their political activity.  Since the second wave sexual revolution that began in the 60s, this alliance has secured powerful men soft harems while giving the average woman maximum personal freedom to compete for exclusive spots in those harems.

Lately, there has been a fervent moral hysteria with mass sexual harassment accusations of powerful men.  For decades, ordinary men have had to live in deadly fear of post-feminist accusations while powerful men have been secure in their ability to ignore those rules to some considerable degree.

The larger significance of this development is that it represents a critical rupture in the alliance that has created and sustained feminism as a cultural force since the late 19th century.  Women have grown so accustomed to the easy exercise of power in society that they have forgotten that they are helpless without the backing of powerful male sponsors.

Feminism has freed women from the clutches of drab provider males for a few generations now and so the memory of where they came from has faded.  They now think when the bill comes due, they can free themselves from their more undesirable sponsors as well and perhaps even seize control themselves.  Alas, they will discover to their dismay that is not how the world works.

If women do not make it worth the while of the men with money and who tell the men with guns what to do, their inflated status begins to mysteriously erode even as they shriek and flail in helpless rage.

Meanwhile, this furor is incredibly damaging to the legitimacy of the Gods of culture.  When a star and senator like Al Franken is punished like a common office worker for presuming to enjoy the natural rewards of his station, his prestige and the prestige of all those on his tier of societal heaven suffers immensely.

People participate in a society and its hierarchy because they can look up to those at the top.  When we look up to the stars we feel a sense of awe precisely because they are so far removed from us.  That sense of awe legitimizes a social hierarchy and when it is violated the power of the culture to inspire and command obedience and unity is greatly diminished.

When a hierarchy loses its prestige people cease to dream of rising in it themselves.  This implicitly opens the way for the growth of parallel, competing hierarchies, or even for Hell to triumph over Heaven.  Now that the social contract has been soured for men at every level of society, the incentive to rise, strive, and back the status quo for all men has been damaged more than we can realize now.

I have been immensely pleased to watch the growing conflagration as the secular state religion overreacts time after time since the accession of Trump to Heaven.  When they use the word “normalize” they refer to their terror that Satan could become the new God people look up to.  This craze of accusations and rapid firings has only been the latest delight, and possibly the most significant we’ve seen so far.

The 21st Century Leans Toward Aristocracy

It has now been nearly 20 years since George W. Bush, the son of a president, inherited the grandest ship of state in history and splendidly wrecked it.  He could have passed into history as just one bad president but as the people desperately cried out for the ship to steer, it stayed the course no matter who the pilot was.  What little remaining illusion that the masses can meaningfully participate in the exercise of power peels quickly away.  Even Trump, the avatar of American popular discontent, finds himself powerless to bring decisive change and is only half-ironically called an emperor, as if in hopes he might somehow take up a more authoritarian mantle.

Counter-intuitively in this time of populism, we see conditions arranging themselves in favor of aristocracy and the ebb of the 20th century high tide of the masses.  The official state politics playing out before us is just one area where a few become increasingly dominant over the many.

Mass politics ascended toward its peak when firearms combined with industrialized logistics.  We may not appreciate now how revolutionary it was to have an army of hundreds of thousands of trained soldiers in the field at once in the Napoleonic Wars for prolonged periods, millions by the mid 19th century, and tens of millions in the 20th century.  Mass production, pasteurization, railroads, the telegraph made possible a condition of total war that was new to agrarian peoples.

Political power is ultimately backed by the potential for violence and since the inception of settled agriculture, only a few people could have the equipment and leisure to be skilled soldiers on the backs of massed peasant labor.  Among settled peoples war had always been aristocratic by nature.  Though there have always been levies, mercenaries, and conscripts, they were support for a backbone of warrior elite whose investment in the system gave strong incentive for loyalty and whose training gave them tight discipline in combat.

Even Roman legions that made heavy use of commoners promoted soldiers on retirement to citizen status for them and their posterity.  In our time, any warm body under a state is a “citizen” but for most of history that distinction has meant entry into the petty aristocracy.
Warriors not only need to fight well against others, they also need good reason not to overthrow the government and install one of their own.  So it follows warriors are by definition invested in politics.  Anyone who is relied on to fight for the state, gets a share in state power sooner or later.  Even if kept as slaves, the warriors just make themselves into kings, as the Mamluks did in Egypt.

As more of the population was potentially needed for state violence in the 19th century, suffrage became universal to every male and there the bloat exploded out of control to its conclusion with everyone but children and teenagers allowed to vote.  This craze has left us with an enormous political power bubble.  If elected leaders simply ignore a bunch of powerless peasants, what do they do about it?  “Oh yeah? How are you gonna make me?” applies to state power as much as it does on the grade school playground.  If there is no solid backing to claims of power, the illusion fades and reality begins to re-assert itself.  Just as the Mamluk warrior slaves could not be shut out of power, the helpless cannot long hold onto it.

Some suppose a coalition of single women, gays, and impoverished races holds the key to political power in the future because their helplessness makes them dependent and therefore fanatically loyal.  Yet once reality inevitably returns, a furious trans-genderist in a dress can shriek at the top of his lungs all he likes only to be sent tumbling into the mud with a saber slash to the face from a smug, mounted noble wearing a powdered wig.  A coalition of the weakest is by nature opportunistic and requires the support of the strong to hold power at all.  At best, they are tools who are ultimately discarded the moment they cease to be sufficiently useful as a legitimizing priesthood.  That moment always comes sooner than ascended undesirables think because a successful religion helps pacify the masses, save the ruler energy, and keeps the army inspired and loyal—a church of obnoxious political commisars inflames and sabotages things instead.

It was the possibility of mass conscription that ensured the common man the vote but since the atomic bomb wars of mass conscription have gradually all but disappeared and with it, the impetus for mass political power.  The battlefield has returned to being a realm only a small minority participate in directly and consistently.  Modern technology and the precise nature of objectives in 21st century war make it so that unskilled, inexperienced, unmotivated conscripts just get in the way and cause trouble. 
The US military has relied on volunteers for decades now and over time an increasingly small number of those are relevant to combat.  Now, even the tiny front-line military shares even this diminished role with mercenaries who answer directly to factions of elites.

Public opinion no longer supports the reckless wars of a discredited elite, but simultaneously, rulers that no longer rely so strongly on a loyal public to fight wars does not need their consent so much as before.  They do not need to fear their subversion either so long as most people are prosperous enough to stay in an apolitical torpor.

In the culture we see the same principle of a warrior elite applies.  In an emerging neo-tribal age ISIS forces that may have numbered a mere 10,000 men fought multiple national armies to a standstill for years.  Similarly the altright and antifa each likely have no more than 10,000 operatives active in the field.  Yet when 300 alt-rightists have an event, their signal is amplified across the world by behaving strategically as a culturally disruptive vanguard.  Those 300 have more impact than the next 30 million who cast ballots from time to time and look on in disappointment as nothing happens.  In the mercantile modern world, tight group loyalties are far scarcer than money, enabling even a handful who can actually work together to run roughshod over millions of atomized serfs who just want that next paycheck.

In Silicon Valley a handful of people at a few companies hold a few billion consumers in the palm of their hands.   A few small cadres at national banks can influence the trajectory of all the wealth in the world.  A few incestuous social circles in a few big cities tell everyone what to think, tell all their stories for them, and make all their music and dance.  Even those active in the emerging counter-cultures are vanishingly small as a percentage of the population yet their impact is wildly disproportionate.

Meanwhile, the average worker scurrying to and fro from a job has almost no impact or influence on the culture, the politics, on finance, or anything that matters, even if they are among the dwindling number who live comfortably above subsistence.  Actually, comfort makes them that much more inert, their only attribute of significance an implacable dead weight for forces of change to push aside. 

It becomes increasingly explicit that nobody cares what ordinary people living their lives on facebook and netflix think.  Almost every meaningful interaction we see is propelled by just a few and when this is the reality, it is only a matter of time until there is aristocracy.

The Augustus Principle

A dry history text book lulls us into the complacent idea that one time always splits neatly into the next on a precise date.  This way of thinking leads us to misinterpret our own time.
There is nothing quite like the look on someone’s face when I explain that Julius Caesar wasn’t an emperor and didn’t intend to end the Roman Republic forever.  It moves into an even stranger dimension when I explain that Augustus, who came after Caesar, had to pretend for a long time that he was not the real, autocratic power and the senate was still there for hundreds of years after it became a ceremonial institution within an empire.  There never was a precise moment Augustus(played by Brian Blessed) came out on stage and said “Ho, ho I’m the emperor of the Roman Empire!”

But surely, people back then had some idea when Julius Caesar took over that some new and drastic change was taking place even if they didn’t know what it was?  Then I mention Caesar wasn’t even the first guy to march on Rome.  A guy called Sulla had already been the first to do that.  He used it as a way to destroy his political opponents and reshuffle the deck of the senate in his favor.  People expected more of the same from Caesar and for the republican system to go on as it had for hundreds of years.

If I want to keep shaking up the prim and tidy version of history I can mention that the military reforms of a guy called Marius re-aligned incentives so that troops first owed their pay and pensions to their general, not to the government, making the emergence of miltary strongmen like Sulla and Caesar possible and inevitable.  At the time he did it, Marius was just trying to increase his own power and prestige in Rome and the senate went along with it so he could deal with the immediate crises presented by armies of Germanic barbarians.

As the republican system proved too inflexible to deal with crises, precedents and rules were worn down one at a time until the old system gradually became something else we now call an empire.

This fluid version of history makes people uncomfortable because it makes them start to think about their own time in a new way.  When history is a mesh of gradualisms rather than clean breaks on memorized dates a smug sense of security evaporates.  Anyone might reflect “The ancient Romans thought the Roman empire would never end in its heyday.”  This feels comfortable enough because it fits well with the tidy history of discrete periods.  The Romans had their time in the sun.  So did the dinosaurs.
It feels far less safe to think: “The ancient Romans did not even realize their government had ended as it was happening!  Nobody even really intended for it to end up that way!”

In reality, once Marius smashed term limits for consulship and made his military reforms, the Roman Republic was effectively over in a practical sense.  The control of the government over the military had been compromised and all government requires monopoly over the legitimate use of force.  Once one learns to think in terms of the fluid version of history, it becomes possible to see where crucial pivot points lay that went without recognition or fanfare when they happened.  Furthermore, there is an interplay of multiple pivot points.

The rogue generals unleashed by Marius’ personal ambition might not have been able to overturn the republic had the popular opinion been overwhelmingly in favor of the system.

The Roman Republic had a long tradition going back to its origins as a small city state of cooperation and compromise between the classes.  Periodically, the proles had revolted and gotten concessions giving them limited representation in government and some safety nets.  Perhaps the greatest concession the plebs ever got was a special political office created just for them, the tribune of the plebs.  To compensate for their votes being counted less, they got two tribunes who had veto powers.

As Rome grew richer and more powerful, this last obstacle to the elites became intolerable.  As Roman territory became concentrated in the hands of just a few wealthy families, pleb revolt in favor of land reform was taken up by a tribune named Gracchus.  Gracchus came from a wealthy family and was viewed as a class traitor(kind of how Trump is now.)  This threat to the mega-estates of the ultra-rich resulted in Gracchus actually getting beaten to death by the senate.  

As if this wasn’t enough, Gracchus’ brother tried to step in and carry on the cause.  He ended up committing to suicide to avoid also being beaten to death by the senators.  For some reason reform attempts were never quite the same after that and the social tensions rather than being resolved just simmered as the elite tried to sit on the pot lid.  With this tension and disenchantment already well established, it’s unsurprising in retrospect that rogue generals could count on considerable popular support. 

It seems a rule across time and place that any elite class tries to eliminate all obstacles to the exercise of power and cut any bothersome obligations or responsibilities to a larger society.  In a smaller-scale society like a city state, there is a limit to how far the elite can separate from the obligations of societal leadership.  However, when there is a huge increase in wealth and territory, the elites try to use this rocket fuel to break free of the gravitational pull of the lower classes so they can rule the world below as they will from their untouchable elysium in outer space.

If we apply the more fluid way of history to our own time, we realize the neo-liberal cultural revolution that took hold in the 1960s effectively ended forever in 2016 and we have entered a new historical period.  Even those who desperately want to restore the old social order do so with a tribal sort of viciousness in stark contrast to the harmonious star trek utopia they had envisioned for mankind barely one year ago.  Even as they yearn to go back, they are unable to appreciate the irony of how their fanaticism only fuels the formation of faultlines that will define a new age. 

Once we learn to ignore the dull farting tuba noise that is textbook history, we can see how Trump is a transitional figure and a pivot point.  Those who believe in the system of periodic shoeboxes might say “He is trying to be a Caesar!” of course without understanding what that really means. 

Trump is more like a Gracchus, a Marius, or even a Clodius Pulcher that aligns forces in a new direction.  Like transitional figures in the Roman republic, he will know not what he does as he helps begin the 21st century in earnest.

Lebanon Predicts the Future USA

It will prove difficult for the US to Balkanize, even if it wanted to because every group is represented in every city and state.  Furthermore, the typical suburban American moves every 5 years or so to wherever their next job is.

If we want to simulate a mercantile society where many disparate groups are crammed together in the same territory some of which might be semi-nomadic, we need only look to the Levant where tribes have competed for a very long time over a narrow neck of valuable sea-side real estate with a Mediterannean climate that lies on top of a natural chokepoint of world trade routes.

In recent history, Lebanon provides us with the best example because it experienced a bloody civil war in that confined space after a multi-cultural democracy broke down over the issue of mass immigration.

We can roughly divide Lebanon into 3 major factions, Christians, Sunnis, and Shi’ites.  When Sunni Palestinian refugees flooded into the country after Israeli independence guess which faction started lobbying to make sure Palestinians stayed?  Then are any of us surprised that once the Palestinian camps were effectively permanent one of those 3 factions tried to count them towards a majority of seats in parliament?  No doubt they also wanted them on a “path to citizenship.”

Of course we are not surprised that the Sunnis conspired to upset the balance of power in their favor by “electing a new people.” A fatal flaw of mass suffrage democracy where any warm body can vote or be counted towards seats in the assembly is that the temptation for factions to bring in more warm bodies always becomes irresistible.

At the time the Christians were the ones with the most power so they were the ones to beat.  The Shi’ites and Druze were tempted to join the Sunnis and dogpile the Christians.  A fatal flaw of multi-cultural democracy is it always becomes a game of king of the hill.  In Lebanon, when one faction has an advantage the others are sure to join against them and so it repeats endlessly.

Most recently, the Christians and Shi’ites were aligned against the Sunnis because both feared the growth of ISIS in Syria.  Now that the threat of ISIS has dwindled, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was yet another re-alignment as the balance of power is re-assessed.
Right now, the Shi’ites led by Hezbollah are the most powerful, so perhaps the other two will join up to take them down a peg.  I’m sure Washington, Riyadh, and Tel Aviv would send them billions of dollars to make sure it’s worth their while.

Hezbollah gives us a model of what the neo-tribal state might look like as the power of nation-states recedes.  They are the de facto government in southern Lebanon while seemingly content to operate within the framework of a formally recognized nation-state.  They get to have their own territory while still participating in a larger economic zone.  They effectively carry out their own foreign policy as they maintain their special relationship with Iran while still participating in the national politics.  Hezbollah gets to enjoy all the privileges of being a nation without the strategic liabilities of nationhood.  They get the best of all worlds.

I noticed this same impulse for political arbitrage in the renewed flareups of European separatist movements.  The Catalonian government wanted regional autonomy under the protection of the larger EU economic zone, cutting out the annoying middleman so they could enjoy the best of all worlds.

I anticipate a similar sort of dissolution might happen in the United States.  The government in Washington might well still be there as the reality on the ground quietly changes.  De facto territories emerge but no one wants to disrupt commerce in a way that impoverishes everyone.  When Lebanon was embroiled in its civil war each militia had checkpoints at its borders to “tax” anyone passing through.  No one in present day Lebanon wants this.  I would figure even the most diehard Hezbollah member enjoys being able to drive into Beirut.

But what what about direct state coercion?  One lesson of Lebanon is multi-cultural national militaries only exist on paper once tensions are high.  I was shocked as I read there was still a national military in Lebanon amidst 20 years of civil war.  Once members of every group serve in the military, commanders know better than to order them into actions that will cause mass mutiny and infighting.
To the average soldier, the military is just a paycheck and that’s true for the United States as well where all the effusive praise and near-worship just papers over the fact that it’s a government jobs and training program for millions of Americans who would otherwise be barely employable with their high school diplomas.  The military is welfare for the working class.

Just as no one in Lebanon wants to charge territorial border tax anymore, the different ethnic groups in the military can all agree to sit on the easy paycheck even once bullets are flying and simply revolt or desert if someone tries to actually send them into battle.
Those soldiers who want to actually fight leave the military and join their group’s militia.
We can look at the Mexican military as a supporting example.  They go through the motions of following their orders for the most part but they have little appetite for challenging the power of emergent narco-states anymore than they need to.

The defensive power of neo-tribal militaries isn’t necessarily being able to defeat national militaries outright.  Like a sea urchin or a cactus pad, they need only represent a net energetic loss for large predators.

Another lesson we can take away from Lebanon is that coalitions are always shifting in the game of identity politics.  Euro-Americans are perceived as the strongest, most vulnerable faction right now, so all the other groups can agree to target them.  As this position is weakend, it will become progressively easier to peel factions away from the coalition of the fringes.  The same applies if the strongest faction seems to be winning.  Then the least loyal members of the coalition of the weaker start jumping ship.

It would do well to always watch for opportunities to re-align and ultimately divide and conquer.
In these kinds of struggles it’s smaller factions caught in the middle of the struggle that switch sides first so they will end up on the winning side.  In Lebanon this is how the Druze, a group that’s about 5% of the population, plays their hand.

If we think of Whites as Christians, Sunnis as Mestizos and Indios, Shi’ites as Blacks, and Palestinians as Illegal Immigrants, the Druze in our situation might be Asian Americans who are ambivalent about either side and shift their allegiance wherever they feel benefits them most.  Right now, they fall behind the establishment even though the other members of the coalition of the fringes envy their wealth and power.  When the American Druze begin to waver, the Christians know there has been a change in the balance of power.

Scarcity of Social Capital Sustains Institutions

For almost twenty years it has been pointed out countless times how all the knowledge we get from universities is online for free.  Time after time people have predicted the collapse of universities or that for-profit colleges will take over.  Not only has the institution of the University not collapsed, tuitions are higher than ever and the for-profit colleges are the ones that have seen their business model collapse. At first, this seems counter-intuitive as the corrosion of the establishment’s credibility accelerates.

Though colleges are no longer sacrosanct as they once were they can keep hiking tuition to the pace of loans because there are no viable alternatives.  Red-pill dissidents have spent years bashing the college degree as a “piece of paper” while missing the point.

College offers access to reliable high-status social capital in a modern society where any sort of non-adversarial, high-trust social interaction is extremely scarce.  For most people entering adult life with even slightly above average IQ, campus is the funnel they must squeeze through to avoid the wasteland of service jobs where they’ll live without prospects surrounded for the rest of their lives by people they cannot really connect with. 

Also, there are far more people scrambling to take respectable white collar “real jobs” that require degrees than there are slots available.  This pressure means those who make it have to know someone on the inside.  To establish rapport with someone on the inside they need to have experienced the unique culture of life on campus.  People reach out and help those they feel are like them and with whom they have shared culture and experiences.  To get that gen X manager to reminisce about college days over lunch while you’re there as an unpaid intern can easily be the difference between having a career and being a barista. 

For those who do not go to university the military is one of the last sure reservoirs of reliable social capital.  The most cynical blue collar people you’ll ever meet will curse about the polticians, the government, the country but still glow with almost religious reverence if you mention the military and thank you profusely “for your service” if you were ever in it.  For average people who did not grow up with deep, high quality roots to see them through life, that’s pretty much the last social ladder available to them.

Then there is of course the public education system.   The crowning genius of the 19th century-style nation-state may well be the ability of compulsory mass education to standardize culture.  People instinctively understand that even if someone learns better through home-schooling, they are at a disadvantage by not having the standard life experiences in the standard environment installed in their meatware.  Someone who strays away from the insitutional status ladder finds themselves standing just outside the tribal circle as they interview for jobs, vie for promotions, try to make friends, and go out on dates.

The backbone of a society is not jobs, an economy, or even armed men.  The central structures of society are ladders and funnels leading to high quality social capital like lifelong friends, stable social roles, family, marriage, or even just the bare minimum status to be seen as eligible in one’s dating pool.  In a hunter gatherer band or a traditional agrarian village there are rites of initiation to test for eligibility and connect cooperators with the social capital they need to flourish.
The nation-state institutionalized these networks on a mass scale of millions.  The industrial revolution did not just lead to the mass production of goods, but also of culture and social status.

This assembly line of souls is still very crude compared to the simple organization of a village.  With such a large system, a glitch can send 10 million souls tumbling into the abyss where they have no role and no one cares if they live or die.  Overwhelming numbers made these casualties sustainable.

When everyone has been to the same sort of schools since they could walk, then go to the same boot camps, you can crank out 100 divisions of soldiers who can all understand each other and work together.  The 21st century however has heralded the shift away from mass culture and the return to inequality, caste, tribe, and natural aristocracy.

Neo-tribal groups are sprouting through the drab concrete slabs of the establishment but they will only be able to displace institutions when they can bust the monopoly of social capital and offer better prospects of meaningful belonging.

The Class Divide in the Alt Right

As the alt-right matures it can now be divided into working class and middle class wings.  Most of the arguments about strategy, methods, and optics since Charlottesville have at their root been different parts of society talking past each other.  The alt-right likes to talk about race, but too many of them seem to neglect class, which in some circumstances is even more important than race in a highly stratified America.  

The pre-existing White Nationalism 1.0 was a working class movement by its nature.  They were notorious for being abrasive purity-spirallers who don’t work well with others but those who made the transition to 2.0 have brought with them established organizational structures and are willing to show up in the real world.
At this point, when people are taking huge risks just stepping out into public, just showing up is the decisive factor, not wardrobe choice.  As a mercantile culture, we are still grappling with the new reality that action, revealed preference, and loyalty means more than words, presentation, or “brands.” 

From what I have seen, the most aggressively anti-social purity spirallers are already getting pushed out.  Over time I am seeing progressively fewer Nazi costumes.  As far as I can tell from pictures of Shelbyville, a few last people wearing nazi helmets are all that remains to be dealt with.  Counter-intuitively, complaints from the middle class wing of the alt-right actually grew louder after this event.  They were just as upset by a procession of people who looked like bikers and hunters dressed in black.  The reality is that working class groups won’t look nice and fuzzy, especially since the people who will actually show up tend to be the most angry and disaffected.  People who look determined and intimidating are not necessarily a bad thing.

The white polo shirt strategy has proven to be a stroke of genius that has created an image of the alt-right in the public consciousness.  More specifically, this has become the uniform of the middle class and SWPL alt-rightists.  They are trying to reach an audience where it pays best to be approachable, clean-cut, and well spoken.  While the black-clad bikers are gathering in rural white America, the polo preppy alt-right are targeting universities and urban areas.  

Rather than one conquering the other, these factions will end up pursuing their strategies in parallel.

I have seen a lot of criticism over the people showing up being “defective” but I think a lot of the armchair generals forget these are bands of dissidents.  The people who are comfortable and happy with their lives stay home, have other stuff to do, and have way too much to lose.  

The critics expect that the leaders of these groups can micromanage everyone like they are playing a real time strategy game and freak out about every negative thing the press seizes on.  In real life, these leaders are pirate captains elected into their roles by a motley crew of mutineers.

It takes a lot of guts and a disagreeable nature for anyone to actively go against what the rest of society is telling them to do, to reject false received wisdom, and seek out truth.  When you get a bunch of people like this in a room, you can’t expect any organization they form to run like a corporate department.  It’s only natural that it’s a bumpy ride and knees will get scraped. 

There has been a lot of public arguments between the leaders of these groups as they jockey for position and influence.  These are not crises but part of the natural process through which every organization is formed.  The clash of personalities has been a positive thing as the most able rise to the top and the worst narcissists, anti-social types, and the outright insane get weeded out.  

Every time there is a setback, loyalty gets tested and those who counter-signal too hard in the wrong way or against the wrong people fall by the wayside.  In these struggles, the class divide has been especially obvious. 

One leader screams at another about being a nazi larper only to be derided as an effete metrosexual in return.  One thing I have noticed though is over time certain rules of engagement have solidified and there are lines the leaders left standing no longer cross.  Now, even when disagreeing on tactics, there is almost always a disclaimer, of “I am glad this guy’s on our side but…”  

With pirate brawls now staying within this etiquette, the hierarchy steadily figures itself out.  Since the alt-right is the executive wing of the dissident sphere, those who come out on top will be those who can most effectively lead people to accomplish strategic goals in the field.

One of the biggest misunderstandings I see about the alt-right is from those who want it to become a mainstream political movement.  For some time yet, the niche of the alt-right is to be a minority of radicals who push the envelope and goad their enemies into over-extending.  By challenging the boundaries a few hundred alt-rightists can clear cultural space for millions more to drift slightly further towards them.

The alt-right is succeeding not by persuading everyone at once to their views but by changing the collective mood enough that alt-lite marketers are being forced to adapt or perish. 

Barely a year ago, a group with mostly gay men and women rose to become the alt-lite because their diversity points helped them get away with pushing ideas that no white straight guy could have presented to a large audience.  Someone like Milo was necessary and even his presence was enough to trigger a riot at Berkeley that was a huge turning point in exposing the establishment’s willingness to shut down free speech with violent thugs.

This excess lead directly to Antifa defeats at the battles of Huntington Beach and Berkeley forcing them to change their tactics ever since.  Few seem to reflect on the strategic significance of the fact that antifa has never again been able to attack independently, relying completely on sympathetic authorities to take their side. 

Now, it’s no longer necessary to be flamingly gay to popularize edgy political ideas.  Alt-lite figures like Milo are failing to make the transition and ex campus conservative types like James Allsup and Nick Fuentes are taking their place with far more discussion of ideas and less mindless sensationalism.  As the alt-right continues to keep on the pressure, it will change the culture—and the conventional politics lies downstream of culture.  

Unraveling Civil War Moral Hysteria

The public discourse has sunk to a new low.  Even John Kelly, an uptight pentagon general has triggered his very own mass moral hysteria by simply saying General Lee was “honorable” and wishing the US Civil War could have been prevented by compromise.
The result of these boring, mild statements was a firestorm of pundit-powered opprobrium.  Ordinarily, I ignore these stupid hand-wringing scares as there are several of them a day, but this one in particular catches my interest because it marks another step in a progression of rising frenzy since we started to see the destruction of confederate statues.

The important thing to notice is they are trying to use fake moral outrage as a political weapon to rewrite history.  The legions of political correctness are trying to march across the landscape of the past until even the US founders are dismissed as villains who were “on the wrong side of history.”

I could ignore the pundits easily enough but what got my attention was actual historians like Ken Burns seeming to support this Maoist hysteria when he undoubtedly knows better. 

He doesn’t say that much here, but it is clear from context he was joining in the mass chastisement of General Kelly.  Indeed, his rebuke went viral. 

Burns is the creator of an entire documentary television series on the Civil War that has been considered for years to be a classic of its genre.  He is known to have a bias as all people do, but in any serious treatment of a historical subject, one expects the investigator to at least try to understand the motivations of the people he’s studying without just venturing to vilify and crucify them.

Burns was trying to treat Kelly’s statements as though he was pushing the old Lost Cause argument that the war was really about States’ Rights.  Kelly did not try to do this and it’s dishonest that Burns framed it this way for the benefit of a howling, angry mob.

The “Slavery caused the Civil War. Period.” refrain has become an ingrained establishment reaction to anyone who would suggest that there’s anything more to the Civil War than diversity injustice.  Their favorite evidence is the declarations of secession that unanimously mention slavery as their main motive for seceding from the Union.  Case closed, right?
The problem with their case is they interpret this to mean there was a seamlessly ongoing moral crusade for Black rights and freedoms from John Brown to Martin Luther King.  The problem with their virtuous narrative is that slavery causing the war didn’t mean anyone actually cared about Blacks.  The truth is, nobody really did except for a tiny handful of abolitionists who nobody liked.  Slavery causing the war doesn’t mean what they think it means.

The more important thing to understand about slavery is that it was an incompatible economic system with the wage-driven industrializing North.  I suspect the moment Lincoln was forever set against slavery is when the institution arrived in Kentucky and depressed the local economy, playing a role in his family moving to Illinois.  To really understand what slavery meant to average white people back then, you need only reflect on how average workers feel now about the onslaught of tens of millions of 3rd world immigrants.  

Slavery was incompatible because free labor was toxic to the wage economy.  If anything, many people who opposed slavery would have despised the Black slaves, a seeming contradiction to revisionist moralizers.
Any historian who tries to portray the US Civil War primarily as moral conflict should be banned from the profession. In reality, people were back then as they are now.  The vast majority of people just cared about making a living.  No one except a few fanatics wanted to go to war over moralistic crises.

No one seems to impress on us now that the core founders of the United States were members of the Southern plantation culture.  When we reflect on that, we much more easily realize why they saw themselves as the legitimate ruling class of America.  Many of the Southern elite were the actual relatives of people who had signed the Declaration, fought in the Revolution, and helped draft the Constitution.  The Virginia planters had been at the forefront of power, prestige, and cultural influence for decades by the time tensions began to escalate out of control and one of the rules of history is no elite class ever willingly steps down and allows itself to be replaced.  Humans, whether elementary school janitors or Kings, tend to defend their accustomed social status at any cost.

The industrial revolution disrupted the accustomed hierarchy in America by placing the Northeast industrialists and merchants decisively ahead of the Planters and this gap only widened over time.  To make things, worse, the Northern aristocracy flooded their cities and the Midwest frontier with millions of immigrants who tended to be sympathetic to their agenda.  The flood of immigrants was as big an affront to the Southerners as the democrats trying to flood the country with 3rd world foreigners is now. 

If there’s one phrase that seems to reliably cause moral panic complete with crazily rolling eyes like a spooked horse it’s “Three-fifths.”  All anyone can ever seem to talk about is how everyone ran around telling Black slaves they were three-fifths of a man.  In their hysteria they utterly miss the point.

The Southerners were calling out the Northern elites for importing millions of people who would eventually be able to drown out the South entirely in Congress.  As you might imagine, this proposition was unacceptable to them.  The real point of the three fifths compromise is it was an attempt to buoy up the fading political influence of the South by counting each slave enough to preserve their power in the House.  Until people can calm down and soberly evaluate events it’s impossible to understand the important thing was a political arms race that was taking place between two competing groups of elites.  This same force was behind most of the other compromises, as well as the urge for territorial expansion of the US.

The first American revolution was a revolt of local elites against the control of elites who were far away.  The Southern elite saw secession as another iteration and continuation of what their parents and grandparents had started barely 70 years before.  We have to understand that they saw themselves with some justification as the real United States that wanted to split off from New England as they had from England.

The Southern leaders were arrogant, stupid, and decadent, though.  They ultimately demolished their credibility by using heavy handed methods to try to keep rigging the whole system in their favor indefinitely, just like the present-day elites.  The Kansas-Nebraska Act led directly to the birth of a Republican party singularly dedicated to opposing them and the final demise of their power over the system.  The ridiculous Dredd Scott case(that a president did actually collude with) followed by the Fugitive Slave Act destroyed any remaining hope for coexistence.  This duplicitous sleight of hand through control of the judiciary resembles the machinations of the present elite classes.

The present rulers imagine themselves as Lincoln and Martin Luther King when in fact they are actually closer to Roger Taney and Jefferson Davis greedily clutching to the tatters of their power and trying with all their might to move back the inexorable hands of the clock.  The present elites’ sanctimonious self-image very closely aligns with how secessionist planters saw themselves.

The stupid mistake of the Southern leaders is they tried to lead the entire country as long as they could and only lobbied for secession when all hope of their dominance was lost and the best part of their bargaining power was gone.  Instead of trying to rule by deceit through weak presidents like Pierce and Buchanan, they needed to go their own way, or negotiate their role as a member of a looser confederation with a revised constitution when it might have been possible.  By the time Lincoln actually came to power, it was far too late for them to preserve their top positions in the hierarchy.

Even then some kind of partition or understanding may have been possible.  But stubborn to the end, Jeff Davis saw that enthusiasm for a partition was not as widespread as he liked, especially in border states outside the main plantation zones.  The new order of power was swiftly becoming “normalized” and for Davis, this was unacceptable.  All bets were off the moment he gave the order to Beauregard to fire on Fort Sumter.  To Davis, this was the publicity stunt he needed to polarize public opinion and ultimately a final monument to the stupidity of the entrenched elites who went down kicking and screaming in rivers of blood.

No class of elites ever goes down willingly so the important lesson normal people can take away from the American Civil War isn’t some sappy story with spiritual hymn music in the background.  They need to realize that these present moral hysterias are the attempt of a declining elite to manipulate millions of ordinary people into scrambling to grab their chestnuts out of the fire.  If people fall for it, they will find themselves shocked one day when they end up on the wrong side of history.

And what about the Black slaves?  African Colonial slavery largely disappeared worldwide by the 1880s to the 1890s even from places like Brazil where slavery had existed on a hugely greater scale.  The importation of slaves had already been banned decades before the Civil War in the United States.  In reality, slavery would have ceased altogether in the US within 20-30 years like it did everywhere else.  The industrial revolution and the economy of cheap wage labor made slavery obsolete. 
Historians with a narrative to push never talk about this though because it conflicts with their interpretation of the Civil War as a war of liberation and the triumph of good over evil.  History, however, rarely ever plays out like a story from a safe space coloring book.

General Kelly was right to wish that a compromise had been possible because like many wars, the Civil War was ultimately a pointless slaughter.  It was effectively a gangland war between the Crips and the Bloods that millions of ordinary people got sucked into and it did not affect the overall direction the winds of history were blowing in.  The founders’ republic would have become a 19th century industrial nation-state in the mold of Germany, Italy, France, or Japan in that same period of history.  Slavery would have died in the South on its own without 600,000 people killed in battle.
Of course, the moralistic interpreters of the Civil War see those 600,000 lives as a necessary sacrifice for politically correct justice.  Once we understand their love of pious bloodshed, we begin to realize why no one liked the extreme 19th century abolitionists.  In their secret hearts, no doubt, all those dead Euro-Americans are probably just a nice bonus.

I am no fan of Kelly who I see as a handler sent by the pentagon to make sure Trump sticks to their neo-con agenda and to cockblock their political enemies from having easy access to the president.  Ironically, though, this first hand experience of being targeted by the shrieking masses will drive him closer than before to the Trumpian orbit.  By all means, they should keep burning down Kelly’s establishment cred until he must side with the very forces he was sent to keep under control.

The Scarcity of Social Capital in Western Societies

In most of the world and through most of history, social capital has been far more important for most people than money won by participation in the market.  The 1st world has become a dramatic reversal in how human society works with jobs rendering people’s wellbeing far more than friends, family, or community.  The beginning of our lives we spend with parents or caretakers is now a passing larval stage, our adulthood spent fluttering aloft on market forces.

The strange inversion of commerce and social life means there are millions of strangers paying monthly bills with few connections between them all.  The irony of a mass commercial society is its scarcity of social capital on all levels of human relations.
After we leave school, we spend most our time at work and that’s where we tend to form our social circles.  But these are circles of convenience, the tacit understanding that these associations are temporary and subordinate to paycheck or promotion.  We watch what we say with friends at work, never knowing if we could be talking to our future supervisor or if we could be turned in by informants for our irreverent gossip.

In the hours of the day we have left, we go to bars and meetup events but there everyone has their guard up because the baseline of social trust and commonality is far too low in a milling stew of millions.
Even mating is stymied by a multitude of social and sexual harassment tripwires.  Meeting the future wife at the company christmas party becomes a quaint artifact of 80s romantic comedies.  So now, when someone finds a rare non-adversarial scene to interact with the opposite sex, it’s a secret to be closely held like that sweet spot for fishing or mushroom hunting.

In this anonymous mass, filters of pre-selection are essential.  This is in fact how humans have always been, but modernity forces us to struggle to create from scratch the kind of communal structures that were already well-established for our ancestors.

Any kind of social filter is useful as long as it is hard to fake or at least sufficiently uncomfortable.  There must be sacrifice.  In Islam, we have to give up alcohol, fast for a whole month, kneel like fools on prayer rugs.  In Mormonism we have to say we believe in disappearing golden tablets, give up all drugs, and pay up 10% of our income.  The humiliation and monotony if kept up is rewarded with a social network and a family.

Even these traditional networks are not as useful as they used to be in an open society.  It is far more difficult to insure against defection when one can periodically disappear into the the crowd and do whatever they want.  The modern 1st world society naturally sees the decline of traditional doctrines wherever it is not held together by other factors such as ethnicity or relative isolation in the countryside.  For most, different sorts of networks are required.

The most basic and common social filter in a commercial society is money.  Have an auction whether for houses or groceries to price out as many people as possible and when you get down to a manageable number, try to interact sincerely with whoever is left standing.  The result is a society of snobbery where the worthiness of others is synonymous with the accumulation of capital.  This influence shapes the entire world view of those who can afford their McMansion and 2 new cars in a nice neighborhood.  It allows them to cocoon there in willful ignorance and contempt even as the society as a whole starts to fall apart and revolt against them.

We are all infused with the habits and attitudes of the class we were born into.  People assort based on these affinities even though many cannot even understand what they do.  We simply associate with those who we simply like on a gut level.  If we doubt the strength of these subtle signs, we need only look at the visceral revulsion the polite middle classes feel towards Trump with his crass working class mannerisms made infinitely more egregious in their eyes by his high station.

Finally, as 1st world affluence becomes concentrated into a smaller number of hands and the youth culture becomes ever more relatively impoverished we see the emergence of more primitive types of sacrifice signalling.  Many dissidents have commented on the enormous popularity of tattoos and stretched ear-lobe holes from mid-millennials onward.  Without money, status, or meaning, people revert to ritual disfigurement, a signal of group allegiance that comes naturally to hunter-gatherers.

An easy tribal initiation is to ask someone to have their face scarred up with a knife.  It’s a simple, effective ritual popular from the Amazon to Papua New Guinea.  It has a universal appeal because it’s an all-in-one package that requires someone to voluntarily undergo significant pain, adopt a signal of allegiance that can’t be taken back, and is impossible to fake. A tattoo on a hipster or bro-ey pothead comes from that same impulse.  When allegiance and affinity are scarce, its most ostentatious advertisements proliferate.

But what if one has no affinity for religious abasement, has little money or care for wealth signals, and has no connection with the outgoing people with tattoos?  There are plenty that fall between these cracks who struggle to find a place in the milling horde of humanity.  This is especially true of outliers of any kind.

Under these pressures we can easily understand the appeal of the dissident right, antifas, or hard-core SJWs.  People who are unusual in some way in the general population try to find ways congregate where their essential nature is distilled.  This is the impetus behind the formation of the first neo-tribes.

Like someone covered in tattoos, the multi-colored hair, pasty acne speckled skin inflicted by vegan diets, and ugly attire of SJWs penalizes them in the normal society while simultaneously giving them a status boost in their community.  Likewise young men who wear crisp white polo shirts to openly protest against Jews are risking everything in the normal society for a spot in a new society where membership actually means something.

The more we are expected to exist as atomized individuals the more powerfully we grasp for compatible chemical bonds that by their sealing, release enormous energy.  The group that best masters these forces becomes the new dominant tribe.

See Also: How the Middle Class Used to Be Affordable

“Average Is Over” Is A Destructive Mindset

Every year the sort of inspirational speakers who appeal to drab office schlubs come up with flashy new slogans to say the same things.  For some time the theme they’ve had to address is how the marketplace has grown more competitive as the pond of opportunity shrinks for most people.  They can’t say it like that of course because that would be “negative thinking.”  You can’t make a living giving seminars at business hotels unless you make your clients feel good about themselves.  So this year the fad phrase to say while wagging your finger in admonishment with a smug, fake smile is “Average is overrr!”

All this means is the job market and society itself continues to become more scalable.  Instead of having musicians in every town, you have 1 musician who plays for 300 million.  So it goes for increasingly more fields.  You get your very best talent recorded to internet video or on a website and the guys 99.99% as good are out of business. 

 “Average is over” is an attitude of acceptance that only extreme excellence is of any worth from now on, the rest of us consigned to the dumpster.  And so we must go out and strive to beat the lottery.  If we make it then we are quadruply entitled to adopt sanctimonious airs and wag the finger at those below on “the ladder to success.”
This may well be the final form of that American strain of Puritanism before it finally implodes under the dire pressures it glorifies.

Hyper-individualist Americans love to hear stories about the very best meeting with stratospheric success.  Striving to do one’s best is admirable, but this attitude is not compatible with successfully running a massive empire of 330 million souls who all get hungry and sick whether or not they are particularly useful to anyone.

Furthermore, as only a few can be successful in the scalable world, we ironically see a regression to mass mediocrity in everything from culture to services.  This is because the best possible performers do not come from a vacuum but are incubated by thriving local subcultures filled with other competent enthusiasts.  If only a few can succeed at something, the subculture that cultivated geniuses withers and ironically, the baseline for the elite performers declines.

The subculture of a field that contains relatively average people also supports the sort of refinement that can beget works of genius that stand the test of time.  The very best talent has colleagues as a preliminary audience through whom the works of genius filter down to the populace.  When we have a culture that worships “average is over” the elite .001% answer directly to the perfect democracy of the masses.  The natural output is endless remakes and prequels calculated to reap x millions of dollars with y minimal % of risk.  We are left with precisely calculated drivel churned out as if by a data-mining algorithm.  This is the apotheosis of a market culture that tries to maximize popularity while eliminating all concept of selectiveness and loyalty.

One of the challenges a new society must overcome in the post-industrial age is to figure out how to cultivate subcultures, and eventually actual castes that concentrate human potential in self-reinforcing ways.  The pathological individualism of “average is over” is ultimately the delusional idea that you can have a rose without the bush.  A post-Western caste system asks: “what kind of bush might produce the best rose.”

This is achieved by thinking of culture or any other kind of excellence as we might think of politics and government.  We can’t get the best performance or the best talent without having the right filters.  Even the decadent United States governs through representatives rather than direct mob rule and retains certain filters of the unadulterated popular will such as two senators for every state, the electoral college, or the absence of voting rights for children.

The important concept is no human endeavor can be successful without selecting and filtering specialized groups within society.  This is like the difference between a multicellular creature with organs and an undifferentiated primordial soup.  Every one of the organs within the social body has its own bell curve of performance and in any healthy living thing, the average is not over, it is the backbone.

Catalonia and Sovereignty

I have been aware of separatist movements in Europe for some years and I saw them as a weathervane indicating the general direction of politics and culture.  Brexit made me hold back on this thesis for awhile, but the tepid progress towards actually leaving the EU and now the resurgent talk of Catalonian independence confirms my initial intuitions.

Nations are made up of regions that in a perfect peaceful world would each be independent, their governments fully representing the wills of the locals.  As the aftermath of the Versailles treaty demonstrated, regions must combine into a tolerable nation for the sake of common security.
Once combined, the central government cannot easily allow regions to secede or it loses its legitimacy and a precedent is set for its complete disassembly.  Thus I understand the position of Lincoln in 1861 or of the Spanish government now.

However, the overall trend is nation-states are becoming far less relevant in the 21st century as most of the world is organized into interlinked economic zones.  The nations are still there with their armies, territories, legal systems and leaders but the reality is power is no longer neatly circumscribed by the borders of discrete sovereign entities drawn on maps in different colors.

For the purposes of international commerce separate political units are a nuisance.  We can imagine what it would be like going through customs every few miles or paying a fee to change currency to be able to buy anything.  There is little incentive for globalist rulers anymore to pay much attention to borders, except as it inconveniences the stupid local serfs who are still tied to the land.

To understand Catalonian “independence” we must understand they are not trying to gain sovereignty but only to change patrons.  With no threat of invasion, they are a relatively rich region with no need for a national government that funnels away their taxes into poorer regions.  They have every interest to signal they’d rather have direct allegiance to Brussels rather than Madrid.  They are like a toddler running to Daddy for protection, only to have him back up Mommy’s verdict.

The European movements for regional separation are mostly an attempt of regions to align with the larger economic zone instead of outdated nations whose protection is no longer needed.  None of these movements are succeeding though.  The regionalists are blocked by an intractable problem of modernity.  No region is really regional anymore.  For some time people from all over Spain and the world have congregated in Catalonia until the core going back centuries can no longer unite as a political whole.  Furthermore, a Spaniard in Barcelona probably has more in common with a resident of any worldwide city than an inhabitant of the Catalonian countryside.

As the experiment of regionalism falls flat as a political movement, people will begin to realize the key to modernity is a sort of techno-tribalism that unites by IQ, class, neurotype, and relatedness rather than some dumb flag people pretend to care about with tremendous heart-slapping sentimentality.  One of the most common sentiments I see online: “I have more in common with this alt-right guy far away from me than these assholes who live right next to me with their loud music.”  This is the future.

Fourth Generation Sovereignty

Why doesn’t the US take over Canada?  It doesn’t need to.  Both are seamlessly plugged into the same mass economy and international Western political and cultural system.  On maps, there is an independent, internationally recognized nation known as Canada but taking that too seriously is to misunderstand how the system works.

Before the Western powers twice committed mass suicide, power relationships were more explicit and required more direct maintenance.  Canada was little different back then except it was aligned with Britain instead of the US.  Instead of pretending to be a truly independent entity it openly called itself an affiliate of the British Empire.  Back then, as now, they sent their young men on command to fight pointless wars for their hegemon.  To suppose such a political unit is really sovereign when it does not even have its own foreign policy is, of course, a joke.

Most non-Western political units in the world were explicit territories of colonial overlords run at least at the topmost levels by imperial administrators.
Then, after WW2, we are told, all these subservient satrapies suddenly found their independence and the world lived happily ever after.

The former colonies established their own political systems but the new empire was founded on economics rather than politics.  The colonial administrators went home because they were no longer necessary.

The major powers needed only to entice the new local leaders into loan agreements with puppet strings attached.  If the new nominal countries had strategic resources, they often had no local infrastructure to exploit them.  Then they became dependent on international corporations to do the drilling and mining in hope of getting some crumbs.  The local leaders then owed their power to the resource extractors with their expensive equipment and engineers more than to their own people.

The old colonialism collapsed because it had become a bulky ideological affair and a big money loser.  Keeping colonies became an ostentatious display of national prestige instead of a profitable venture like it used to be.  The depletion of wealth after the World Wars and a worldwide depression in between them finally made this arrangement untenable.  Minimizing overhead, and maximizing profit was in again.  Allowing subject peoples nominal independence imposed all the costs and dangers of keeping order onto the local figureheads while they got to passively reap the benefits as absentee owners.

 Since the end of WW2 the state of affairs has more in common with the heyday of the British and Dutch East India Companies or the United Fruit Company with foreign affairs carried out primarily by economic actors working in conjunction with great powers.
In the earlier eras of economic imperialism the great powers supporting international extractive commerce were obviously sovereign entities acting with their own benefit in mind.

What makes our own age different is that the great powers are no longer clearly connected to anything we would consider a nation-state or even a well-defined empire with concrete borders.  The whole planet is fair game.  It is appropriate that those affiliated with this system of power are now often referred to as “globalists.”

I have stated before the thesis that in our age of fracture, political organization is both smaller and larger than the centralized bureaucratic nation-states we’ve taken for granted since the 1860s.  On the large scale we have vast economic zones that swallow up mere nations.  On the smaller scale we see actual sovereignty re-emerging in the form of tribes.  I call them “tribes” to contrast with 18th to 19th century ideas of ethnic groups or cultural groups monolithically united within the borders of one nation-state’s territory.

So far I’ve seen the term “fourth generation” used to refer to decentralized, non-state warfare.  I think this concept will apply to everything, not just warfare.  I see ISIS trying to found an Islamic state, a bunch of Kurdish enclaves across several different countries declaring themselves Kurdistan, growing separatist movements within the European Union, or now the emergence of the alt-right as signs of where we’re heading.

In the 21st century, having a nation-state is a strategic liability and an easy target.  A nation intrinsically defined by an unchanging territory and population can be isolated, blockaded, bombarded, or invaded.  A bunch of soldiers who put on official uniforms can’t act without making their permanent territorial unit a target for retaliation.  Even when they attack much smaller and weaker groups, they open the whole of their much larger group to counter-attack.  Soon there are many small, cohesive organizations that begin to overwhelm a mega nation that fewer care to be associated with anymore until it finally only exists on paper. 

If 1 US soldier charges across the Russian border screaming with bayonet fixed and randomly spraying on full auto, Russia technically could reasonably contemplate attacking New York City as a legitimate reaction. That soldier, if acting on orders, is a representative of all 330 million Americans.  In stark contrast, if one jihadi suicide bomber blows up some US soldiers there may be no clear idea of who to counter-attack or how to find them.

ISIS could set up in Nebraska and call it the Islamic State.  The Kurds could have Kurdistan in Oklahoma if they wanted to.  The Federation of Occupy could just have some moving tent towns.  Any of these polities would have far more real control over their affairs than Canada does.

The emerging neo-tribal, techno-tribal state exists firstly as its people, not as a territory its people are tied to.  They can choose to conceal their presence, influence the politics or not, stand and fight or try to set up elsewhere, they can be urban or rural as they please, gather all together or distribute far and wide across national borders and economic zones alike and still be united. 

The new tribes even if their members few in number and poor have a wealth of strategic options nation-states simply do not have access to.  They trade brute strength for maneuverability and flexibility, advantages that have been super-augmented by the information age.  Making this tradeoff is a winning strategy when nuclear weapons make massed brute force much less decisive than it used to be. 

It should have been immediately clear the old ways were over when US forces could not reconquer all of Korea after they decisively defeated the Chinese in combat or why the US could not simply crush North Vietnam or even shut down the Ho Chi Minh Trail supply lines that crossed international boundaries without serious political consequences.

Since then, organizations that have adapted to the post-nuclear, post-agriculturalist, post-colonial rules have met with astonishing success despite their relatively small sizes and limited resources.  Meanwhile, the nation-states have grown ever more sclerotic and impotent even as they dump infinite wealth into weapons systems that just sit there as their roads, hospitals, and power grids crumble.

The old nations are now easily outmaneuvered by both the globalists who manage the economic zones and by the techno-tribalists.  It is now a question of who ends up with the upper hand in a 4th generation age.  The new tribes began their rise as a counter to nation-states hobbled by the threat of nuclear weapons.  Now their fluid nature makes them suited to challenge an economic colonialism that is also nebulous by design.

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