Category: What He Said

The Decline And Fall Of The American Empire

Coffee time.

“THE MULTITUDES remained plunged in ignorance… and their leaders, seeking their votes, did not dare to undeceive them.” So wrote Winston Churchill of the victors of the first world war in “The Gathering Storm.” He bitterly recalled a “refusal to face unpleasant facts, desire for popularity and electoral success irrespective of the vital interests of the state.” American readers watching their government’s ignominious departure from Afghanistan, and listening to President Joe Biden’s strained effort to justify the unholy mess he has made, may find at least some of Churchill’s critique of interwar Britain uncomfortably familiar.

Britain’s state of mind was the product of a combination of national exhaustion and “imperial overstretch”, to borrow a phrase from Paul Kennedy, a historian at Yale. Since 1914, the nation had endured war, financial crisis and in 1918-19 a terrible pandemic, the Spanish influenza. The economic landscape was overshadowed by a mountain of debt. Though the country remained the issuer of the dominant global currency, it was no longer unrivalled in that role. A highly unequal society inspired politicians on the left to demand redistribution if not outright socialism. A significant proportion of the intelligentsia went further, embracing communism or fascism.

Meanwhile the established political class preferred to ignore a deteriorating international situation. Britain’s global dominance was menaced in Europe, in Asia and in the Middle East. The system of collective security—based on the League of Nations, which had been established in 1920 as part of the post-war peace settlement—was crumbling, leaving only the possibility of alliances to supplement thinly spread imperial resources. The result was a disastrous failure to acknowledge the scale of the totalitarian threat and to amass the means to deter the dictators.

Intimidation not Persuasion

It’s not so much that they’re brainwashing people as they’re bullying and scaring the shit out of them so they comply.

The common understanding of propaganda is that it is intended to brainwash the masses. Supposedly, people get exposed to the same message repeatedly and over time come to believe in whatever nonsense authoritarians want them to believe.

And yet authoritarians often broadcast silly, unpersuasive propaganda.

Political scientist Haifeng Huang writes that the purpose of propaganda is not to brainwash people, but to instill fear in them.

Beatings will continue until morale improves.

Our Increasingly Unrecognizable Civilization

Mark Steyn, for Hillsdale College;

It is not at all clear to me that many of America’s conservative politicians understand the seriousness of all this. You can see it in the fact that they go around trying to scare people with the specter of a “radical socialist agenda.” For well over a year now, we have been living in a world in which it’s accepted as normal that the state has essentially unlimited power—and in which our freedom to decide for ourselves has been diminished almost to invisibility. Why do these conservative politicians think the words “radical socialist agenda” still scare anyone in a time when the state can tell us whether we can have Aunt Mabel over for Christmas? They are completely out of touch.

Death Spiral Of American Academia

Patrick J Michaels, via Judith Curry,

In the academy the free interchange of competing ideas creates knowledge through cooperation, disagreement, debate, and dissent. Kaufmann’s landmark study proves that the last three in that list are severely suppressed and punished. The pervasiveness of such repression may be a death sentence for science, free inquiry, and the advancement of knowledge in our universities.

I am led to that dire conclusion because the universities appear to have no way to prevent this fate. No solution can arise from within the academy because it selects its own lifetime faculty, which is largely left wing—increasingly so—and makes the promotion of dissenters highly unlikely. Kaufmann demonstrates profoundly systemic discrimination by leftist faculty against colleagues they find disagreeable. […]

Kaufmann’s study is shocking in its depth, even to academics (like me) who experienced for decades what he describes. He documents all aspects of an academic career, from advanced graduate study to landing a faculty position, research funding, publication, and promotion. That normal career progression is all but derailed if a person expresses a scintilla of non-left views in casual conversations, faculty meetings, public discourse, teaching, grant applications, submitted publications, or the promotion process.

Academic Freedom in Crisis: Punishment, Political Discrimination, and Self-Censorship

What Would We Do Without Experts?

There’s a cure for this plague of experts, and it’s called “accountability.” Accountability is the bane of experts, so our ruling caste has dispensed with it. That’s why these people can be wrong time after time after time – on COVID, on Russia, on why crime happens and on how the economy works – and yet still maintain their public sinecures even though they are batting .001. The real reason the elite hated Donald Trump was not that he was an ideological conservative (he only sort of was) or that he tweeted mean things (they like mean tweets, just not ones directed at them). It was that Trump identified the failures of “the best and the brightest” and called them out. There is nothing these experts hate more than challenges to the authority they think they deserve.

No Libertarians in a Pandemic

Facebook makes it difficult to link to or embed things so I’m just putting this whole thing here.

For the “no libertarians in a pandemic” file:

It will be interesting to see how the last year affects those classical liberal/minarchist libertarians who said “well, sure, a pandemic or a public health crisis is one of the few situations where government intervention is justified.” The botched responses at the federal and state levels in the US (and this is about WAY more than Trump) should lead to some reconsideration there.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that government would fail at this task for all of the same structural reasons it screws up other tasks. Saying government *should* do X doesn’t mean it will or *can* do X. And if governments couldn’t get right one of the things that even many libertarians agree is one of its proper roles, well what kind of case is there against a whole bunch of other stuff government does, including the small list of other things minarchist types think government should do?

The massive fucking up of the pandemic response can be interpreted as evidence that we should all be *radical libertarians* in a pandemic.
-Steve Horwitz

I forgot to mention that this guy also has a severely compromised immune system due to cancer treatments. As such his words carry more weight than that of the average person. If he gets covid it’s likely a death sentence.

The Power Of No

“Call me whatever you want, I’m not going to participate in this.”

In a recent long-form essay on New Discourses (…totalitarianism/), James Lindsay explained the origins of totalitarianism in a single word: psychopathy. There, he explained that totalitarianism arises from people who cannot cope with reality as it is, and yet who are content to manipulate others, constructing a “pseudo-reality” in service to a vision of the world that serves their needs. That pseudo-reality holds as its North Star a Utopian vision that aligns with artificial resolutions to their inability to cope with reality as it is, and it thereby attracts others who have similar issues. By constructing a false logic (a paralogic) and a false morality (a paramorality) to define and enforce the pseudo-reality, they can gather supporters in a cult-like fashion. In the end, those ensnared lose the ability to distinguish reality and pseudo-reality almost entirely and become functionally psychopathic, and if they gain enough social, cultural, economic, and political power, they can hold hostage entire societies that are, in effect, on the march to totalitarianism and, eventually, total catastrophic collapse.

[…] in this podcast, he begins the process of linking the concept of “ideological pseudo-reality” to more familiar examples, not least Wokeness. Critical Race Theory, for example, is a pseudo-reality that positions racism as the ordinary state of affairs in society, not an immoral aberration from them. Queer Theory is a pseudo-reality in which being normal with regard to sex, gender, and sexuality is a problem while being in some way deviant (which is not the same as being gay or even trans) is elevated as normal. Communism is a pseudo-reality that deems socially engineered command economies as effective and efficient ways to maximize human flourishing. Covid-19 is a pseudo-reality built to enact control around a genuine and serious virus called SARS-CoV-2. These topics and more are presented in this episode of the New Discourses podcast to help people understand and, hopefully, able to see reality for itself again.

Grab a coffee. You’ll recognize much of what he describes immediately.

h/t RP

Discourse Engineering

James Lindsay; (Twitter thread, collated)

In no regard does “coup” apply here. Disruptive? Yes. Illegal? Yes. Bad? Yes. Violent? Yes. But they didn’t even have a coherent plan to stop what would have been their main target (certification of a vote, which could have happened again later anyway). It’s not even close.
The totality of evidence does not bear this out. Some of Trump’s rhetoric and some of his expressed views are favourable to those views, but he hasn’t ever actually applied any of that or gave any indication that he wanted to, even with a pandemic in his lap to justify it.
I spent years incorrectly arguing Trump was a tyrant. You’re not likely to convince me using arguments I’ve already worked through and seen for being wrong in myself. You’ll need real evidence, which I suppose could still arrive, but it hasn’t yet.
My own opinion remains that every single person in the United States who participated in riotous activity, say in the last 12-24 months (if we want limitations) should be prosecuted appropriately under the law, regardless of political affiliation or rationale.
If Justice isn’t blind, it isn’t Justice.
I said something similar today too. The form we’ll see today will look a lot more like what we presently see in China, but more advanced. Social credit will be the primary mode of social control. Wrong politik will get you bad credit, as will wrong travel and wrong association.
Five years ago, the media launched a campaign to define conservatives as “racists and white supremacists.”
Five days ago, they changed the terms to “seditionists and domestic terrorists.”
The first is to dehumanize the opposition; the second is to justify their repression.
It’s pretty important that you learn to see this “discourse engineering,” or, as Lyotard had it, “legitmation by paralogy,” when and where it occurs. The media is high enough on its own supply now that it believes it can do it more or less without limitations on its power.
The most dangerous part of believing they can do it without limitations on its power is that that is dangerously wrong and will therefore be “fixed” by using increasing amounts of force and coercion. This is what the slide into totalitarianism and atrocity looks like.
Another parallel example of exactly this is when radical Islamists (not all Muslims!) insist that Islam is “a religion of peace,” wherein what they mean is that when everyone believes THEIR NARROW THEOLOGY and submits to it, there will peace. Same, same, or very close.
The asymmetry is a crucial point to observe here too. They’re using Repressive Tolerance (link) as part of their paralogy. They’re going to “induce national calm NOW” by silencing their enemies and continuing to force their pseudo-reality onto everyone.

A related article here.

h/t RP

“What if these weren’t fat LARP’ers, lost young men, and Q dummies?”

A portion of a Mike Cernovich thread collated, and slightly edited.

When Charlottesville happened, I begged guys not to go. They did what young men do – mock me as a weak old guy. I said they’d ruin their lives, and I’ve watched one after another get caught up. Some bad actors, and a lot just showed up not really understanding the implications.
It was like beating my head up against the wall. Warning people that events often sweep people away. “Caught up in the game” is a term you hear in law. Wrong place, wrong time. You’re maybe just curious, but you end up getting swept up in events. And then it’s over for you.
But from the young guy’s perspective, what’s the answer? There’s no escape value. It’s all, “Oh you’re broken because you’re a man. You have toxic masculinity.” The only socially offered fix is for men to become less like men and more like women.
Otherwise, they’re diseased.
I saw political violence coming because I understand men. ANTIFA is largely white men. That’s been proven over and over again. You’re a man, you want to live out Fight Club, and ANTIFA is a way to do this and basically get a free pass.
The counter to that is the Capitol.
Extremist researchers from Muslim world know that you have to offer a moderate solution, an off road. That when you call men terrorists, you drive them into radicalized groups. That research is being tossed out now in the West. Every man who has alternative view is a terrorist.
The incentives are to create more problems, that drives funding into “extremism research.” To raise money, you need more extremists! And yet that’s how you summon more of what you’re supposed to be militating against. The researchers know this, and they don’t care. It’s money.
I’ve said this consistently since at last 2015 – terrorism will become a way of life in the U.S. It’ll be like parts of Middle East. Because everything we learned about Islamic terrorism, that you don’t attack *all* Muslims, that you build up moderates, is being thrown away now.
The biggest mistake a society can make is to confirm the righteousness of zealots. That started with “Punch a Nazi,” where Nazi predictably grew to mean every Trump voter. Capitol rioters watched attacks and riots celebrated by media, and now they feel righteous, too.
The U.S. is poised for a post-911 crackdown on civil liberties – which was a disaster then and will be a bigger disaster now. You cannot enforce authoritarianism against 40% of the country. To do so is to incite a “civil war,” which won’t be what people think.
Capitol LARP’ers watched too much Bravehart and 1776 stuff. They are in an old model of war.
A current model of war will be 4GW, which is the worst possible way of having a war, because it never ends. You end up not with Balkanization, but the cartelization of society.
We are in unbelievably perilous times. Just as people who didn’t see Trump’s rise and dismissed it, because they know it all, think they can just put the boots down the necks of 40% of the country.
I just can’t believe what I am watching, and what will *obviously* happen. It’s not the Q people or fat LARP’ers I worry about. It’s that the oppression becomes so severe that you get what happened in Mexico. A Special Forces Group says, “F*ck this.”
Then what?
There is 0 reason to believe It Can’t Happen Here. We are not special. I won’t go into tactics, not only for reason to not educate bad people, but for others.
If you watched the Capitol storm you no doubt asked, “What if these weren’t fat LARP’ers, lost young men, and Q dummies?” What if this had been *real* guys?
If the attack on the Capitol had been real guys instead of fat middle aged men and Q boomers and aimless young men, it would have been *hundreds* of dead Congress members. That’s how vulnerable an open society is. That’s how fast civil society can disappear.
The Scalise attack, the Capitol attack, all of this shows that – thank God – it’s simply the case that real guys don’t want to do violence and domestic terrorism.
Anyone anything about solutions must start from there. As of now, real guys don’t do that. How do we preserve it?
I don’t have a lot of answers on how to preserve civil society, but I do know one fact. You *do not* preserve society by turning the state against 40% of the country.
This isn’t Soviet Union, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, or Mao’s China.

You should read the whole thing, while you still can.

The Two Reasons Things Fall Apart

My New Years gift to us all, to be viewed before the word “resolution” passes anyone’s lips. Ten minutes with Dr.Jordan Peterson on the life lesson that is part of automobile ownership (and more). Great stuff.

I’ve set the video to begin at the relevant portion of the lecture, which continues until about the 25 minute mark.