FORWARD BASE B

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

My Response to Ginsburg’s Fall

The High Priestess was slumped over in a high tower of the palace after she had fallen the day before and broken three of her ribs. Soon the word of it was all about the City.
For decades she had been an unquestioned bastion of the Revolution of Light and Togetherness clad in shining robes as she expelled the intolerant and the enemies of Humanity.
But now, an Evil Emperor had usurped the throne and with every day tried to summon more demons to aid him.
The High Priestess’ very life force kept away the demons of the rift and no matter how stooped her frame she lived on to protect her people against the forces of sin and destruction.

As the sun sank beneath the horizon tonight, a sense of trepidation settled over the City. In the splendid cathedral, the faithful clad all in white assembled in tight rows murmuring their prayers. Priests strode down the aisles swinging censers of incense, perfuming the entire sanctuary wrought in ponderous marble domes with purifying resinous fronds of smoke.

One woman with a long, severe face, tight white bonnet and resplendent robe came forward, spread her arms and closed her eyes. Her lips were stretched tight in anticipation of holy delivery. A priest took a heavy steel mallet and with a single sharp blow struck her in the ribs. She crumpled to the ground, squealing in pain as much as fractured bones next to her lungs would allow her. Her friends and family stepped forth to carry her away.

As the night wore on, the rituals grew more solemn. Finally a woman came forth saying she had volunteered her ribs for the High Priestess. The crowd hushed altogether and only the sputtering of braziers could be heard as she stepped forward, even purer than the rest with a perfect rectangle of fabric cut away along her torso.

She lay back on the altar and lay somehow still as a priest began to saw through her flesh. Her lungs were exposed and everyone could see them pumping like a bellows. She was abruptly carried away from the blood-spattered altar before the congregation could fully grasp the horror of it.
Her rib bones were burned in a pyre of incadescent heat that burned pure white in offering to the Priestess.

Finally, a woman volunteered every part of her body for the preservation of the High Priestess, but as the knife was about to descend, she screamed, wailed, and struggled away from danger.

Now everyone rose in a clamor, shouting at the unfaithful woman who had promised everything and delivered nothing. She tried to argue back, shout, and insult, kicking out indignantly with her white high heels as they tried to grab her.

It was five minutes until daybreak when the death bells began to toll and the ceremonial candles all sputtered out at once. The high priestess was dead. With a concerted wail the mass pummeled the unfaithful woman with every solid object at hand until she was reduced to a spasmodically twitching pulp.

She had died just in time not to hear the laughter of the chaos lords as the rift ripped open and legions of demons poured through. The sun would now never come and the lights of the stars went out one-by-one as they fell from the sky in despairing showers.

In complete darkness, the faithful felt mercilessly sharp claws tear into them as glowing eyes drew near, a mercy as the world already descended in the eternal chill of deep space.

The Changing of Power

Not that long ago, President Eisenhower presided over the construction of the interstate highway system and the formation of suburbia as we know it. Lyndon Johnson created social security, medicare, and medicaid as we know it. Nixon took the dollar off of the gold standard, making it the currency we know today and opened trade with China. A little further back, Woodrow Wilson gave women the vote. Modern political discourse is just discussing incidental details of the state of affairs put together before Watergate forced Nixon to resign in 1974.

The magnitude of decisive policy changes these previous leaders regularly participated in dwarfs anything that has been possible for decades.
As we bicker for years over the trivial funds needed for a border wall, keeping roads repaired, keeping consumerism chugging by keeping interest rates eternally low, or cooking up convoluted subsidies to health insurers as the next social safety net, we are but children playing among the ruins built by giants who came before us.

Since the last powerful presidents, power has become increasingly informal and has been diffused across the vassal states we often call the “international community” through state and non-state entities.
A warning sign of the trend of de-formalization was declarations of war becoming obsolete since World War 2. It is now taken for granted that a basic diplomatic procedure even Empires observed is simply ignored as less obvious forces guide the direction of hostilities towards causes and places that neither pose a direct threat to the state nor offer prospects of profitable(to the nation) conquest.

Bill Clinton squeezed off some decent-sized legislation. George W. Bush got a little bit more through before he was completely a lame duck, mostly to lower the standards of the already-crippled education system. The creation of Homeland Security might have been the last long-term significant legislation ever supported by a US president.
Barack Obama heralded the post-formal age of US politics. He forced through one last piece of pork barrel for health insurance companies as arterial plaque sealed up the last wiggle room. Even that very modest action cost him dearly in political capital and cost his party hundreds of seats. He never recovered.

Obama resorted to the executive powers of his office to get anything done. The formal power that remained was exercised ever more through appointed officials and bureaucrats while circumventing elected assemblies as much as possible.

Trump is a far-diminished version of Obama when it comes to the exercise of power. Obama had a friendly bureaucracy and his “thousand statesmen” who worshiped him. Trump is despised by these same unelected officials and they do everything they can to impede even the exclusive powers of the executive. Collaboration with elected officials is almost out of the question.

Trump has spent the last two years making appointments and promotions that will allow him to become capable of things Obama could do on a whim during breakfast. Obama could have had some soldiers build a border wall with no trouble.

The trouble with the extreme constriction of power is it either becomes formally ceremonial at some point, meaning people look somewhere else for the real power.
Or else, like a faucet plugged by a thumb, it goes spraying everywhere out of control as that pent-up pressure surges through. Trump is on the verge of assembling his first batch of loyal statesmen, perhaps ten or twenty instead of a thousand, but it will enable him immensely to further erode the opposition that faces him from un-elected and non-state sources in the very limited time he has left. Blog.jim is fond of pointing out that Trump must understand he, his kids, and grandkids will not be simply left alone if he leaves his position of power with the present elite intact. Now that is a powerful incentive. If power must turn inward on itself, perhaps at some point, the elected assemblies simply get left out.

Stopping the Race to the Bottom

A strong authority is necessary to stop a society-wide race to the bottom and tragedy of the commons, especially when the internet gives every individual actor highly accurate information.

Some problems are pretty obvious.  A lot of the dysfunctions with European-American flight and the hand-wringing over “good schools” can be solved by simply allowing freedom of association.  If neighborhoods can decide what kind of people belong in their territory, millions of people are suddenly free to become more stable and rooted, giving trust and social capital a desperately needed boost.  Sometimes, an inept or malicious state can break what naturally fixes itself.  This has been a main theme of Western politics since the 1960s cultural revolution.  Fixing this problem no doubt would also help with low Western fertility but that problem is more complex.

Even countries like Japan that experience minimal pressure from the expansion of hostile outgroups have some of the lowest fertility rates in the world.  There is a measure of altruism involved in having children but if it’s all headaches and sacrifice, no one wants to bother if they can avoid it.
If the state wants more kids from its core polity, it must take measures to make the prospect of fecundity more tolerable.

Western countries are extremely punitive towards men in every aspect of life while women have very little responsibility.  Women work, but they generally get first dibs on part-time middle-paid jobs in safe air-conditioned offices.  If they don’t want to work there is always state assistance, sex work, or a man who supports them.
In the inherently unstable modern mating market, men cannot continue to be held to 19th century expectations.
Draconian child support laws make it so even the horniest men above 90 IQ are going to be very thorough about using condoms or making sure she really is on the pill.  This is a recipe for underclass dysfunction and eventual idiocracy.

There’s millions of men and women holding out until they start to turn grey for the “right one” by the standards of a society that no longer exists.  The fields of the first world will remain barren and cracked so long as cooperating men are expected to make lifelong commitments to partners who can leave them at any time while plundering their assets.  The problem with going back to traditional marriage is in an urban, wired society, people have too much information to be easily content with one partner their whole lives.  Men crave variety.  Women always want to move up or at least diversify the genes in their child portfolio to hedge their bets against nature.

The way forces and incentives are aligned, it may make more sense to ease up on male penalties rather than mandate Sharia law.  Perhaps cooperating men get a slap on the wrist or no penalty for knocking up women, so that the anti-natal equilibrium becomes defect-cooperate rather than cooperate-cooperate.  If one side has little incentive to care about contraception, there will be more babies.  Perhaps there would still be state assistance for single mothers, but the amount would depend on who the father is.  If her drug dealer gets her pregnant, not a single penny of taxpayer money is forthcoming and perhaps she gets paid to get the abortion.
And of course, we must understand that marriage is a 5 year dating arrangement below the upper middle class in modern society.  There is no need to take half of a man’s stuff when it goes sour as it typically does.  If she wants to leave, she leaves with her stuff.  Period.  And the man gets some kind of guaranteed access to the kids if he wants it.  Maybe she even has to leave them behind with him.  Furthermore, in a promiscuous modern society with little means of enforcement, DNA tests need to be a default made mandatory under law before a man invests one penny in a child that may not be his.

Without some form of guaranteed paternity and freedom from state punishment for men, first world fertility is certain to continue its downward spiral.  And it’s our fault, not that of any other group.

I mentioned schools earlier but that is another area where the competition of individuals has gotten out of control.  First of all, the corrupt state gets a huge population addicted to public daycare for 12 years so both men and women can work full time.  This gives the economy a short term boost at the cost of cannibalizing future generations.  By age 18 a young person should be ready for adulthood.  There should be no such thing as a “teenage” state of limbo, a bizarre pathology that only emerged in the 20th century.  Since the dawn of time, the mission of young people has been to learn from adults, not to spend all day in an insane asylum full of other kids taking pointless classes about things that serve no use and which they will never remember.

Worse, schooling has only continued to become more bloated as many now spend 16 or even more than 20 years in school.  For those older workers making good salaries, it is always tempting to keep the young warehoused for as long as possible in an already over-saturated economy bombarded with illegal immigrants and H1-B visas.  College tuitions have been spiralling now for decades.  It is a dysfunctional race to the bottom that only the virtuous state can bring to a stop and which the corrupt and evil state aids and abets.
Contrary to the rhetoric of libertarian shills, corporations are happy to have a taxpayer-funded system that churns out certified conformists with a ball and chain of debt around their ankles to doubly ensure their meek compliance.
This undeserved support needs to be torn away and the monasteries dissolved.

The solution here is to limit compulsory education to reading, writing, and arithmetic for most people.  In the 19th century, most kids could be taught these skills in a few months here and there at minimal public cost when they were not needed for the planting and the harvest.  How far we have fallen.

Then, further education must be limited to people who are genuinely curious and able to learn.  In my own time in the public education system, nearly every class was packed to capacity and any attempt at teaching was sabotaged by kids who did not want to be there, all in the sacred name of Equalism.

College must be limited to the best of the best and the aristocracy only.  This way the righteous ruler can arrest a race to the bottom while nurturing geniuses who will shape history.  For hobbyists, there is always the internet and perhaps some of them will rise to the highest level on their own.

Health care is another area that has suffered from “cost disease.”  It’s the same problem as college tuition, really.  If everyone can get college loans, prices adjust to assume everyone has a loan.  If everyone gets health insurance, prices adjust so you can’t afford healthcare without health insurance.
The solution here is more obvious.
Populations at the first world level do pretty well with a single-payer system.  Mixed populations do well with both systems in effect.  If you are a cooperator who pulls your own weight, you can tap into the single-payer free system.  If you are underclass, you have cash for your treatment or you die.  That’s how it works in many countries with high levels of stratification.  The US has just had enough wealth so far that it has managed to avoid facing reality with stupid schemes like trying to have mass subsidies for health insurance.(Affordable Care Act.) The inevitable result of this disastrous policy is even higher prices.

As you can ascertain from this essay, most of the solutions to these seemingly intractable problems are not that complicated if the ruler has an accurate understanding of reality and human nature.
The root cause is a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to be a ruler and what duties that exalted social position entails.  The people must be protected from self-destructive game theory equilibria as zealously as they must be defended from outside invaders.

There’s No Real Freedom Without Authority

The people always want to be free but they are their own worst jailors. If everyone can do what they want in their own best interest, a ruthless race to the bottom is assured. If we know others face no restraint we won’t exercise restraint ourselves in the lifelong competition for food, shelter, money, mates, and prestige.

The information age has outstripped the ability of traditional social technologies to limit individual choice in ways that yield a net benefit to everyone. It is now too easy for individuals to circumvent the customs and soothing myths that create an illusion of harmony. They can get very accurate real-time information to optimize their self-interest whether in the job market or the dating market.

When everyone has access to networks, no one wants to be the 5 that settles for a 5 in life and so all the rest is a game to outmaneuver and sabotage one’s way to a better spot in the great game of musical chairs as society falls apart. Instead of getting things done, most energies are devoted to finding out who has to jump on the grenade and take one for the team. Then arises even more social strife when the despised loser nominated as grenade jumper refuses to jump.

It is impossible to reinstate rules that no one really wants to practice in real life. Nor does acting as if older customs still existed do anything to resurrect them. These systems existed by being airtight constructs that very few could successfully defect from. With that seal broken, they are imaginary fancies.

So the question lies in how to adapt to the problems of modernity in an efficient and realistic manner.
Policy in most other areas of public life suggests we need to arrest the relentless race to the bottom at strategic points.

Without safety nets like EBT cards, soup kitchens, shelters, and minimum wage there would be bread riots and people working for less than a dollar an hour to be able to afford just enough white flour and rice to keep them alive. Desperate people with nothing to lose would force anyone with surplus wealth to live in compounds guarded by private armies.(aka the 3rd world)

Without solid rules, there would be no 40 hour work week with a cushy weekend for those lucky enough to have jobs. There would be no holidays, paid vacation, or benefits. Many would be simply be worked to death. The marketplace would have no use for useless old people sticking around.

Without free association and strict controls on real estate, bidding wars impoverish even the highest paid workers, ensuring they never have kids and their high IQ breed goes extinct.

Without land forcibly set aside for parks, every urban area would be an unbroken sea of grey and all old buildings would be demolished to make way for cookie cutter tenements.

Without force itself, there would be no taxes, nor any polity at all.

The best kind of rules aren’t heavy-handed, stupid rules no one wants like forcing all American women to wear hijabs or banning plastic straws.
The rules that work best are those that force people to do what they’d like to do anyway by using the authority of the state to make sure everyone else has to do it.

No one could afford to pay taxes if the IRS didn’t maintain an airtight seal with extreme aggression and precision. Otherwise any sucker who paid up would live at a disadvantage to everyone else.

The state is truly legitimate when it becomes not just a parasitic occupying army but a broker that relieves the tensions in the endless struggles between humans. Without such an intervention, the natural state of man is Malthusian squalor. Hobbes was right.

We can see that the legitimacy of our present system really went into steep decline right as it broke the back of the old labor left that Bernie Sanders tried and failed to resurrect. The negotiation between labor and the state ended, and with it their role as a broker sustaining balance for the average worker.
Ever since, there has been a wasteland of open borders, free trade, corporate welfare, and parasitic wars to enrich the military industrial complex.
I am critical of corrupt unions and of the borderline communists who did their part to bring a hostile reaction down on them, but the “cure,” I think, has proven far worse than the disease. When the duty of easing tensions is not fulfilled, a swelling volcano cone rises up under the ruler’s feet.

The result of these modern pressures is both sides of the political spectrum now demand a return to authoritarianism. Most people, whatever their politics, understand intuitively that their freedom and empowerment have enslaved them to one another more than ever, the great game board a terrible gridlock of collective checkmate further than the eye can see. It has become self-evident that any kind of modern society requires the intervention of a strong state at carefully chosen points.

When everyone has excellent information and mobility they are forced to beg for a legitimate ruler to mediate between the people on earth and the powers of heaven.

Seattle Airplane Suicide Is A Barometer of Culture

In a society where most people have lost hope in a worthwhile future, the creep of nihilism gains ground in human hearts.
A mild-mannered airport worker with an affably broey affect commandeered a huge prop plane in a daring last act on earth rather than eke out another four to five decades as a wage slave in a drab and pointless neo-liberal society.

What is most telling about this event is not the actions of a single man, but the overwhelmingly positive public reaction I’ve seen so far on social media. Some are even calling him “Sky King.”
People often identify with the motives of mass shooters more than they admit but selfishly taking the lives of others dampens any sympathy they may feel. Even in the darkest and angriest periods of my life I was disgusted by the thought of petulantly lashing out against people I didn’t even know.
Sky King Russell sets a new precedent by going out in a stoic and affable manner while harming no one.

This may be a natural reaction to incentives as mass shootings are now so common that like car crashes, they cease to be of much note. It now takes some more flair and creativity to get the mass society’s attention and hold it for a news cycle or two as one’s final legacy to the ages. A fleeting reward but still better for a few than to labor a whole lifetime away, appreciated by no one.

In this time of constricting internet censorship, this suicide is an important indicator of the culture. The more the system takes away from people, the less they have to lose. Isolated suicidal people and nutjobs are harmless on their own, but the crowds regard the Sky King as almost a Robin Hood kind of figure. He hurt no one else, showing millions a glimpse of real freedom, while putting a dent in some impersonal corporation’s bottom line. When crowds begin to support this kind of behavior, the real trouble for elites is just beginning. It is a sign that under certain circumstances, certain targets are seen as legitimate by most people.

Very tellingly, Russell was a European-American, especially when most airport workers I see running around are minorities. Suicidal behavior, especially that requiring real initiative and planning is endemic to higher-agency Euros and Asians. The Africans and Indios of this world may groan from time to time under the lash of their overlords but they resign themselves to the grimmest slog of daily life and always manage to push out progeny just the same. I honestly cannot completely blame the world elite for wanting to replace a troublesome population with more pliant and domesticable strains. If that task were completed, there would be no more airplane thefts and no more flamboyant aerobatic maneuvers born from heightened existential consciousness.

Attack on Titan and Modernity

I watched the first two seasons of the anime, Attack on Titan and was quite impressed. It was the darkest and creepiest concept I’d seen since Berserk. The Japanese have an amazing eye for visual details in the natural world I never tire of whether it’s falling rain or cherry blossoms. That comes across strongly here too conveying visually both the sweetness and impermanence of our brief lives.

The basic premise is a great walled medieval city has been under siege by shambling giants for hundreds of years, as long as even ancestral legends can remember. Life has gone on normally inside the walls while only a handful of scouts have to deal with the harshness of the outside world. Then one day, a giant even taller than the walls peeks over at the terrified people below and everything goes to hell from there, complete with a breach in the wall.

We soon see these giants attacking the city itself, forcing the locals to retreat behind one inner wall after another as they are forced back.
The titans themselves are the most unsettling creatures I’ve seen since the titular Aliens with their chestburster larvae.
The Alien Xenomorphs are designed to appear as foreign as possible. The titans are possibly even more terrifying because of their familiarity. They look like very large, naked people at first but something is missing. They have vacuous facial expressions and their eyes are totally innocent like those of a baby. Even as they approach with mouths eagerly open and hands outstretched their pupils are dilated as though they may be friendly.

The human foolish enough to fall for this ploy is scooped up with a firm hand and promptly chopped in two by a great set of teeth, the hulking beast oblivious to their desperate pleading as they go in. If their whole body somehow goes down the Titan’s gullet without immediately debilitating blood loss, they get to perish in the steaming heat of the Titan’s stomach amidst a clutter of twisted corpses they are soon to join.
What’s more horrifying still is for all the titans’ hunger for humankind they don’t need the nourishment and periodically cough up “hairballs” of undigested human body parts. To add insult to injury the butchery to which they are single-mindedly devoted serves no apparent natural purpose.

I see this new Japanese Titan myth as a natural descendant of the African zombi myth that later became popular in the West.
Zombis were originally an allegory among African peoples for humans torn away from all family and identity by the slave trade, the living dead. In the modern West, zombies live on as atomized individuals in a post-Western atomized society where nobody cares about anyone else because all others are just adversarial competitors in the market economy whose main contribution to one another is to drive down each others’ wages.

The Japanese have one of the last, best societies on earth that is high trust and homogenous with low crime and world class health care and education. They have refused to have third world immigration on anywhere near the scale of other modernized societies preserving their ethnic domain and culture. The fertility rate is among the lowest in the world with a large and dysfunctional culture of incel outcast males but the Japanese have weathered population contractions before when hitting the very limited natural carrying capacity of their mostly mountainous, resource-poor island chain.

The variables that are different this time are those introduced by the modern neo-liberal capitalist economic system that pits all humans against one another in a fight to the death in a single grand arena.

The adversarial nature of man vs. man is the very core thesis of Attack on Titan. The overt adversaries resemble humans, but like zombies lack empathy or any trace of human spirit. Man vs. man is a strong direct theme in the series. As the humans are forced back by the Titans, there is less food and resources to go around, meaning much of the population becomes unsupportable surplus. At one point, the unimportant, the useless, and the old pretty much draw straws to go on a mass suicide offensive against the Titans so the rest don’t starve.
Furthermore, it is strongly hinted throughout that the central government of the great city is highly corrupt. To everyone’s astonishment, the most promising Titan fighters from boot camp are funneled away from the front lines to the government enforcers and secret police instead. Amidst an existential crisis of the entire species, scheming politicians are still up to no good. As if that were not enough, a religion of evangelical fanatics also vies for power and influence in the dying embers of the human world.

Even in the most dire circumstances, humans still engage in relentless zero sum games against a heavy backdrop of nihilism.
What is most shocking is this narrative comes from one of the best-off societies on the planet. Yet they too are consumed by the malaise and despair and decline that besets everywhere else.

History tells us there are sweeping trends that affect everywhere. A Japanese mercantile elite overthrew landed warrior aristocrats just like in the West when exposed to the same technology and pressures. They pursued a flavor of nationalism very similar to that in Europe and America at the time. The outcome was inevitable and so it is now.

Even if all the foreigners were instantly expelled from the United States, the intractable questions remain as we can see from the example of Japan. If these questions were answered, foreigners would be little threat and kept as powerless guest workers or expelled at will rather than function as a civilization-destroying political wedge.

Japan shows us that modernity poses a spiritual and cultural challenge that every 1st world country must deal with as roughly the same historical forces are in play from one end of the globe to another as it has been before.
Caught in a vice between attacking swarms of Titans and the backstabbing tendencies of our own treacherous kind, we seek a way towards a worthwhile future where people can cooperate again against common threats.

The society that figures it out first seizes the unclaimed prize. Or perhaps we all sink back into a great Dark Age.

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.

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