The fall of empires, like our own deaths, is a difficult subject. No one wants to end up on the losing team, so no one wants to believe it can happen to them. If we just push it out of our heads, maybe it won’t happen — or will happen in such a way that we don’t notice, and so don’t have to face the horror of it all.
But the thing is that we take our lives into our hands every day. Just walking across the street can bring the end. In the same way, every single day a civilization, empire or society (pick your term; they’re all about the same) exists can be its last. Start a losing war, sabotage your infrastructure, or even just make a fatal economic decision and your empire is over.
However, history is not measured in minutes, hours, days, months, years or even decades. It’s measured in centuries. The policies we put into action today will reveal their success or failure in 2110, possibly, but more likely before 2210. Those numbers look weird because they’re a future beyond our lifespan. It’s unlikely anyone reading this today will be alive for either. But that’s how long it will take for the full consequences to shake out.
Think about it through this simple metaphor. If I decide to put a pond in my backyard, I can do the work in a few hours. Over the next few weeks, I’ll notice immediate responses: there’s less grass to mow, or it’s harder to get around the yard. Over the next few months, I’ll learn how much water it takes to fill and how much time it takes to clean.
And for the next five years, we’ll see the effect of the pond on our personal lifestyle and how we use the backyard. It will take the next two decades however to see what the structural impact of the pond will be. Did I interrupt the flow of water through the backyard, dehydrating flower beds? Does the pond leak, or did it conceal that sinkhole I should have been worried about? What was the effect on the critters in the backyard?
Right now, as people go out to wage ideological war for America, we’re seeing a big fear just under the surface: do we fall like the Soviets did? We’re all painfully aware from history that the bigger an empire gets, the more carefully it has to step, because it commits itself on a grand scale and has a long, long way to fall. And the higher up you go, no matter how much money you give away, the more you’re hated by everyone else for your success. Envy is always there.
One reason we’ve got large-scale political disagreement right now in this country is that it can no longer be ignored that our political actions have consequences. In the 1945-2005 period, we were rolling in cash and it seemed that no matter what policy we picked, it was up, up, up — with a few hiccups of course, but those were temporary and then we kept on rolling. Now people are seeing that the dice rolls have higher stakes.
The general designations of the ranking system for world status date back to the 1950s, and have included countries at various stages of economic development. Since the Cold War, the definition has come to be synonymous with repressive countries where a wealthy class of ruling elites segment society into the haves and have-nots, many times capitalizing on the conditions that follow an economic crisis or war.
6. Failing infrastructure: As 46 of 50 states are on the verge of bankruptcy, cities are going dark, asphalt roads are returning to the stone age, and nationwide budget cuts are leaving students without teachers, supplies, or a full-time education. These are common features one will see as they travel through the poorest of Third World countries.
7. Disappearing middle class: During the last presidential debate season, they argued that a family income of $250K was solidly middle-class. Well, Census data shows less than 15% of families make over $100K, and only 1.5% of families make over $250K. The income gap between the rich and poor has increased at a staggering pace, while many more middle-class folks join the ranks of the poor every day. Cavernous income gaps may be what Third-World nations are best known for.
8. Devalued currency: The value of the Federal Reserve Note (U.S. dollar) has declined 96% since the inception of the Federal Reserve in 1913. The value of the dollar is based on its supply in circulation and, to a lesser extent, the demand for those dollars. For the last three years, the money supply has spiked literally off the charts. It can be argued that the dollar has become America’s top export as the world’s reserve currency, and if the volatile dollar is scrapped, which the U.N. and IMF now suggest, then demand will plummet, killing the currency. – Some liberal
These are some ominous signs, and they suggest to us that we’d better get our act together, put our money and efforts in the right place, and quickly! If you want to know why the right-left debate is suddenly much more acrimonious, it’s because we’re not playing with Monopoly Money anymore. We’re playing for pink slips, and no one wants to make the wrong decision and become a burned-out white third world husk like the former Soviet Union.
Even more, we’ve finally got globalism to worry about. What is that, you say? Well, we’ve spent the last 40 years sending our cash off to countries who make us cheap consumer goods, and now they’ve ramped their economies up to compete with ours — and in some cases, they’re so much bigger we’re the ones at a stark disadvantage:
The prices of imported consumer goods will rise with increasing labor costs in emerging economies. China’s nominal GDP is growing at about 20 percent per year. The odds are that its labor costs will surge as its worker shortage bites.
Lastly, labor in the West will demand wage increases to compensate for current and future inflation. One may argue that high unemployment rates will keep wages in check. Think again. In the 1970s, the U.S. suffered a wage-price surge even with high unemployment because workers saw through the Fed’s “growth first and inflation be damned” intention.
In 2012, the Fed will run out of excuses not to raise interest rates. As the excess liquidity in the global economy will be gigantic by then, the tightening will probably trigger a global crisis as asset bubbles burst. – Bloomberg
Americans would be content to act like this year is a repeat of 1945, 1968 or even 1987, when despite some hiccups our economy was still riding the post-war wave of wealth to dominate the world. Times have changed while you slept, American consumers. Now everyone else wants their piece of the pie, too, and they can out-compete us on cost, and probably more things as time goes on. With no really striking innovations waiting in the pipe, we also have to wonder: can we keep a lead as the designers of microchips, inventors of DNA tests and makers of hip movies that we have been as part of our “service economy”?
The Soviet Union died for many reasons, but the biggest was perhaps that it became the Communist version of the service economy, which is a dogma economy. A huge and calcified bureaucracy appeared which kept a few elites in power at the expense of the rest of society. These elites in turn demanded that everyone else obey the dogma, and filtered out those who violated dogma, which ensured their power but threw out legitimate, insightful critique along with the agitators.
We don’t have that kind of dogma elite here in the West, do we? Well… sort of. Just like the Soviets, we have expanded government into an industry. The single greatest increase in costs since 1945 has been the expenditure of the government on its citizens, through welfare and social programs. In turn, that employs a huge subsidized bureaucracy. Saying anything that deprives that bureaucracy of its legitimacy is now a big unhappy taboo.
This type of social entropy happens with the best of intentions. The Tea Party versus Obama split can be summarized in the following paragraphs; it’s about choice of the type of society we want. Do we want a European-style socialist economy, where a small elite controls society without intervention by markets, and therefore, must be closed and insular? Or do we want a more open system, where dogma and having the “right friends” in unions, government and the tame parts of industry is less important?
It is more useful to think of this administration as pursuing a European-style corporate state, a form of political economy that allows the state to exert strong control in the economy while maintaining a nominal façade of private ownership.
In their current form, European corporate states tend to be more informal than their predecessors, drawing on mutually supporting networks of labor, industry and government leaders without the explicit structure of Mussolini’s cartels or Roosevelt’s code authorities. These networks are driven by an implicit deal by each of the three groups to protect their mutual interests and to recognize specific obligations.
In this three-way arrangement, unionized workers in key industries get high wages, guaranteed employment, rich pension systems and government protection from competition from younger and foreign workers. In return, they promise labor peace (barring the occasional strike to demonstrate their power) and tremendous election-day muscle.
The losers in all of this are … everyone else. In effect this corporate system is just another age-old, historically time-worn effort to cement the power of a small group of elites. Entrepreneurship and innovation are often impossible, as incumbent businesses can call on tremendous state powers to stifle competitive threats. – Forbes
Europe has experimented with socialism for many decades now, and the results are in: slow, steady decay. The years of a vital Europe are behind it, and while there are periodic surges in the economy, we don’t see much leadership coming out of European societies in part because they are so calcified — “the way we do things around here” trumps new ideas because of the huge number of people dependent on the way they do things around there — that they are inflexible, dogmatic Nanny States in which a hotdog costs $20, half of your taxes go to government, and you get lots of free social services as a result but they are of low quality.
Visualize this process as a type of flattening. When you have a central junta of unions, government and big corporations who do what’s convenient for them, life has become like high school. There’s a right answer, and a wrong answer; there’s only one way (maybe with a few variations) of getting anything done. This central control keeps the peace and keeps order, but it does so at a great cost. In order to flatten the social order, and make every student more equal, and avoid any kind of disturbance, they have to filter out anything but that which falls within the range of average or those actions which their rules expect and have a check-box on their triplicate forms for. Anything else becomes bad, evil or just unsupported. But remember, it’s all in the name of safety, peace and equality.
As a consequence of living in such a frustration zone, Europe is dying from low birth rate. They’re importing labor so that they don’t vanish entirely. Does this sound like a happy society to you, or people whiling away the time until the collapse takes them silently in the night?
The number of elderly already exceeds the number of young people in many countries, and the European Union’s executive arm, alarmed by the trend, estimates that the bloc will have a shortfall of 20 million workers by 2030 if the low birthrates persist.
Immigration from non-European countries, already highly contentious across the EU, would not be sufficient to fill the gap even if Europe’s relatively homogenous countries were willing to embrace millions of foreign newcomers, experts say.
Throughout Europe, women have delayed having children, or opted out entirely, as they have become more educated and better integrated into the labor market.
As countries begin to feel the demographic crunch, Europe’s “birth dearth” is becoming a political issue. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany pushed through a package of family-boosting incentives for working women in June, and President Vladimir Putin warned in May that Russia’s population decline was critical. Almost all governments are increasing baby bonuses. – NYT
This is the flattening of societies: the more you spread the wealth, and the more rules you put into place and thus the more you make people dependent on that centralized junta of government and unions, the less change can occur. You have a less dynamic society. In fact, you have a stagnating one that can’t reproduce, has “growing” economies that somehow end up playing second fiddle, and of course, lots of infuriating rules.
Europe’s unemployment rate unexpectedly increased to 10 percent, the highest in more than 11 years, as companies cut costs in the wake of the worst recession in more than six decades. – Bloomberg
What’s important to realize about the European model is that it’s not a bold choice. It’s a process of entropy by which the most complex decisions of a society get dumbed down into a sort of inertia, an ethic of convenience and making sure everyone in the room is happy and fed. This results in a proliferation of incompetents, and a slowing down of society at large so that it can deal with those incompetents at their speed, which makes for a starchy, frustrating, slow-moving place.
Coincidentally, those attributes describe both European economies lagging behind the USA and the declining Soviet Union. Dogma reigns the bureaucracy, dissidents are punished (in this country, we just “debunk” and ostracize them) and as a result, the economy has become less competitive and the society itself cannot react to obvious problems in its daily life. The result is total chaos: no agreement on what’s important, what’s real or where we’re going.
I concluded that it was the not the newsworthy events of the last ten years that produced such a seismic shift in the tone of our national conversation. Rather, the information that we garnered from them and how that information shaped our beliefs and reactions to those events was the real culprit. And not just information, but lack of information, incomplete information, ambiguous information, conflicting information, misinformation, disinformation, and just plain lies that really struck at the heart of this new information age.
The problem is that there is no longer any source of objective and trusted information. In previous generations, Americans could turn to reliable sources of information, for example, reportage from newspapers, television, and radio news departments.
If you want to talk about how a society fails, this kind of confusion is a good start. In addition, people taking advantage of the confusion by setting up a Nanny State and its unions who, having outlived any useful function, now serve as a perpetual kleptocracy that siphons money away from the top of the food chain.
The top of the food chain is important because it sends money through the economy from its most vital functions outward, strengthening that which is important for everyone; handing money lower in the food chain benefits the people at that level, but then dissipates that money very quickly into areas that are not as stimulative to the economy as a whole. Thus the society becomes a customer of itself and sells itself a bill of goods, and no one can tell that these are not as valuable as they like to think they are, at least until the currency collapses.
Europe and the USA are now in the same boat: we’re able to keep fooling each other that we’re vital and thriving republics, but really we’re thrashing around — and we’re miserable:
It used to be easy to divvy up the labour market: there were the McJobs, and the rest. The task of politicians was to keep the number of tedious, routine occupations down, and to enable as many good jobs to be created as possible. Except that the reverse appears to be happening. More and more prized careers are becoming McDonaldised – more routine, less skilled, and with the workers subject to greater control from above.
In their paper, published this summer, Grugulis and her colleagues note that “almost every aspect of work for every kind of employee, from shopfloor worker . . . to the general store manager, was set out, standardised and occasionally scripted by the experts at head office”. Or, as one senior manager put it: “Every little thing is monitored so there is no place to hide.”
Not all routine is bad. The commutes, the tea breaks – these make up the essential scaffolding of our working days. But when more and more of your work is claimed by routine and control, it becomes hard to bear, especially when you have the qualifications that entitle you to expect more. – The Guardian
The problem isn’t technology, as the article above alleges, but the flattening-out that I describe above. Society is no longer designed for the competent among us, but to spread the wealth to everyone so that every person is fed and happy and no one is excluded. The price we pay for that is that incompetence becomes the norm, so managers do what they’ve done in every age: dumb it down and remove control from the worker.
This in turn creates a daily life of boring jobs that are not essential, so that workers are both understimulated and replaceable. We have made ourselves into a society of interchangeable parts, and what has done it is the Union rules, the well-intentioned government regulations, and the desire to include everyone and keep those unemployment figures low.
In turn, we’ve created a zombie culture:
Smith hoists the bike on to the oak table that dominates his office, and gazes at it longingly. It is a work of art, but for Smith it symbolises more than a deep fondness for the sport. He designed it as a favour to Mercian, one of England’s last bespoke cycle makers, to mark its 60th anniversary. It was a Mercian that transformed Smith’s upbringing in Beeston near Nottingham; the designer says he has “no memory at all” of life before he was 11, when he got his first bike, a pale blue racer.
“I look at this bike and see something that was handmade in England by a small business,” Smith says. “And that’s something I mourn – the fact that there are now so few small companies like that. I worry about the pressure young people feel to earn a certain amount of money or to achieve a certain status. To be a stonemason and only to carve as much stone as your hands can manage isn’t attractive anymore.” It’s a curious cry from Britain’s most commercially successful fashion designer – a man who commands a global empire spanning 74 countries that racked up sales last year of almost £350m (from which he is thought to have pocketed £4m), and who lends his instantly recognisable autograph and candy-stripe motif to a dizzying array of accessories including, last year, a glass bottle for Evian (the stripes were painted in organic ink, naturally). – The Independent
Our jobs have become a pursuit of money in place of a social order, and as a result we have no faith in our own society. Kids don’t want to grow up; adults don’t want to grow old. They feel their lives missed some essential meaning, and that meaning is in my view, a faith in society as an important process. If your society is inward-looking, oblivious to its own faults, and dying slowly through irrelevance, how can you claim your 45 years at a job were important? And as a kid, why would you join this suicide crusade?
The 20s are a black box, and there is a lot of churning in there. One-third of people in their 20s move to a new residence every year. Forty percent move back home with their parents at least once. They go through an average of seven jobs in their 20s, more job changes than in any other stretch. Two-thirds spend at least some time living with a romantic partner without being married. And marriage occurs later than ever. The median age at first marriage in the early 1970s, when the baby boomers were young, was 21 for women and 23 for men; by 2009 it had climbed to 26 for women and 28 for men, five years in a little more than a generation.
We’re in the thick of what one sociologist calls “the changing timetable for adulthood.” Sociologists traditionally define the “transition to adulthood” as marked by five milestones: completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having a child. In 1960, 77 percent of women and 65 percent of men had, by the time they reached 30, passed all five milestones. Among 30-year-olds in 2000, according to data from the United States Census Bureau, fewer than half of the women and one-third of the men had done so. A Canadian study reported that a typical 30-year-old in 2001 had completed the same number of milestones as a 25-year-old in the early ’70s. – NYT
For the last 40 years, in the name of safety and security, we in the West have been constructing our own special kind of hell. We pollute the waters, commute thirty miles to our boring jobs, avoid our rotting inner cities, ignore political corruption, gloss over the fact that our “culture” is popular music and art that has nothing profound to say, and then at the end of the day, feel empty from a lack of meaning. We made this hell from good intentions. Our good intentions, in fact, constitute a type of entropy — a flattening of civilization, and a reduction of emotional dynamics, so that everyone is safe, and everyone is fed, and everything is peaceful and not disturbing. But the result is paralysis, calcification, neurosis and ultimately, misery.
In the late 1980s, the Soviets underwent the same process but in manic fast-forward. Because theirs was a state with strong central control, it was easier for them to make their dogma absolute, and so they fell harder and faster. We’re on the same path — an inability to make decisions, to react to reality — and while it’s a slower boat, it arrives at the same port. If you wonder why political contentiousness has ramped up a few thousand times in the last year or so, it’s because America (and Europe) are trying to decide: do we like ourselves enough to survive?
The liberal commentators of America don’t fear Glenn Beck and his “Restoring Honor” rally because he’s a demagogue — both sides use demagoguery extensively at this point. They fear him because he’s found a principle we all agree on, Civil Rights, and is demanding that its protection be extended to the white, suburban, middle-class, mostly conservative majority who have been funding the last 40 years of progressive experimentation that have taken this country from a prosperous, happy place and made it into a divided, chaotic and declining one.
As both of my regular readers know, I am not the biggest fan of television or the mass news media outside of newspapers. Newspapers I can handle, if they’re good papers, because they spend the time to get the facts and present them in a logical, orderly fashion.
USA Today and television news, however, specialized in finding the outrage, sadness, frustration and hatred in the news and then hype it right into your ears. This is why at the time of this writing my only exposure to Glenn Beck has been four minutes of YouTube and I wasn’t even able to make it through that. Like all TV news, left or right, he plays to the outrage and frustration.
But I do think the man has a kind of perverse genius. Like a spacecraft captain using the gravitational vortex of a planet to fling his craft into deep space, Beck pairs up liberal scorn against conservative outrage and comes out ahead because he emphasizes principles we all like in practice. His most recent “Restoring Honor” rally was pure brilliance in that he took the legacy of a civil rights icon, Martin Luther King Jr, and by staging his own event in his footsteps, effectively said, “Civil rights are great — now my people get them, too.”
Beck has tapped into the outrage of middle class white America by pointing out the obvious: for the last 40 years we’ve been on a manic quest to take care of every non-majority group — blacks, Asians, gays, Hispanics, potheads, Muslims, polygamists — while doing so at the expense of white suburban middle-class America, which we assume will just keep trucking along and footing the bill.
Now these people are waking up, and people do wake up very slowly, to find America transformed. It’s no longer the happy world of the 1950s. It’s a crime-ridden, third world state with corruption, devalued currency, a crazed Nanny State kicking down doors, constant combat in its cities. What happened? While the consumer was busy looking in the mirror, wondering if the blue dress or the red dress was the best, the idiots crept in behind the scenes and stole the country away.
Now middle class America wants it back. To them, diversity was always the idea that other people could live here and we’d provide them a stable place to exist. It didn’t mean that affirmative action would be used to penalize qualified white applicants, or that any lawsuit brought about by a non-majority member would be seen as de facto proof of “racism”; it certainly didn’t mean witch-hunts for non-liberals, who would be called “racist,” fired from their jobs, etc. Diversity to the left means war against the majority.
Beck’s message is clear. We should celebrate MLK — and then do what he did for his people, for our own. If racial liberation is good, let’s praise the idea of civil rights and then demand our own racial liberation. That way, we’ve taken a known good that’s more abstract than what we demanded, and extended it to what we needed.
This is how liberalism gained such power, after all. It started with the idea of equality, which sounds good to everyone. Then mission creep began branching equality outward from “treat people fairly” to “re-dedicate our society toward forcing everyone to be equal,” which rapidly became a program of penalizing the more affluent, just as it did in post-1917 Russia and post-1789 France.
But liberalism won by expanding from the most abstract concept, equality, to specifics like equality for serfs, slaves, midgets, women, homosexuals, etc. Once you’ve gotten everyone to agree on the abstract principle, the rest is gravy. Beck is doing the same thing: if we agree civil rights are a good idea, aren’t white civil rights a good idea? And if not, why not? Fight fire with fire.
Many people are also realizing an unsociable truth that sounds unfair to say, but needs to be said: liberalism is not an ideology. It’s a system of complaints against reality. Conservatism is the sum total of our learning from history, but liberalism is a counter-force that surmises that conservative ideals are arbitrary and that we can change them at will without consequences. Liberalism is the individual demanding reality change to suit them.
Liberalism: reality must adapt to me, and to make that happen, I’ll gather a Crowd and unite them on the lowest common denominator — that we wish reality was different — and try to change the effects of history. If not all people are equal in ability (a cause), enforce political equality (an effect) upon them.
Conservatism: we must adapt to reality, and do it with grace, learning from history. If we do want changes we have to change causes; if not all people are equal, and abilities are heritable, we need to use Social Darwinism to make better people so that we are all equal as causes.
Conservatism is the only true progressive ideology: If people are working toward a higher standard, someone shouldn’t be able to come in and lower standards and ruin their hard work, just because they as individuals want to be different, or to believe their actions don’t have consequences.
I like to compare it to a neighborhood. Conservative ideology is that if we’re all starting up this neighborhood, we all agree that lawns should be cut and trimmed, no garbage in the yard, no loud barking dogs, and so on. Therefore, everyone must adapt to that standard, which is in itself an adaptation to the reality of having a neighborhood: life is best when we all sacrifice some of our time to uphold this standard.
Liberal ideology is that if I move into a neighborhood, I should be able to do whatever I want. Not mow and trim the lawn? Fine, it’s your individual choice. Keep trash in the yard, have a loud barking dog, paint the house bright pink with a mauve pentagram on it? Sure, that’s your individual right. But the industrialized world is starting to realize that liberalism as a result is an inherently divisive ideology that splits up our countries, pits us against each other, and sews chaos wherever it goes.
In Europe, they have “Islamophobia” and here in the US, we now have fear-of-ground-zero-mosques. We’ve had years of indoctrination against racism; the official propaganda of equality is written into every US textbook and curriculum, even to the point of distorting history (the same thing happened in the Soviet Union, and in Revolutionary France). But dogma does not equal reality, and those of us who haven’t bought into the illusion are breaking free.
If that has to start with a fire-tongued television news presenter like Glenn Beck calling for us to come back to Jesus, that’s OK by me. I don’t worry so much about the specifics as the principle. And his principle is identical to that of Martin Luther King, Jr: my people need the right to determine their own future without someone else telling them what they can or can’t do.
Except now, the shoe’s on the other foot, and it’s liberal fears that we won’t “be equal” that are holding back those who want to build a prosperous, safe, moral and cheerful America. We have to ask ourselves: what are they really afraid of?
Much hot air has blown regarding the symbolic MLK-like protest Glen Beck staged yesterday. Most of the liberal outrage concentrates on how he can compare himself to MLK.
I believe he compares favorably.
Where MLK attempted to work for his people, Beck is attempting to work for his.
From a white, middle class, lowercase-c conservative and semi-Christian perspective, the last 40 years have involved government intervening on behalf of the poor, the minorities, and the radical, while slighting the people who actually keep this country running — the white, middle class, lowecase-c and semi-Christian.
The Tea Party, Glen Beck, recent interest in Libertarianism are all the same — they’re the result of this group trying to cut free from the moral obligation government (Nanny State) that has done these things.
By cut free I mean disconnect government from its moral obligations, and stop it from penalizing the white middle class in the name of helping those who either cannot help themselves or are doomed by history, because they languish in roughly the same condition they were in during the 1940s, with a few notable exceptions.
Let’s look at who the Tea Party are, again:
Tea Party supporters are wealthier and more well-educated than the general public, and are no more or less afraid of falling into a lower socioeconomic class, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. – NYT
More educated? More successful? If it weren’t for the fact that they’re white and conservative, our general public would be falling all over itself trying to get to them.
But they’re making a good point. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is in the long term, a dubious strategy. Paul hasn’t magically become a clone of Peter as a result. So we need to reverse that policy.
Glen Beck, although I’ll never watch his program, is a civil rights leader for the white middle-class. They’ve been the ones supporting the great civil rights crusade for minorities, homosexuals and the sexually voracious for the last 40 years, and they’re pointing out that this great Progressive crusade has its costs.
While we’ve been chasing the great diversity and tolerance Crusade, our country has spent itself into bankruptcy, and most of that did not come from wars — it came from increased social spending, including welfare and Nanny State imperatives such as rehabilitating criminals, educating drug addicts, counseling pedophiles and so on.
Our infrastructure is rotted, we’re in debt, and white middle class America is warning us that we’re about to devalue our currency as a result — and for what?
For all the talk about post-racial, justice, freedom, etc. the country remains much as it was before. Ethnic groups do not mix, and when they try, constant clashes of values and customs result.
The message of Tea Partiers, Glen Beckers, whatever we want to call them: enough is enough. This great experiment isn’t working, so we need to focus instead on more important issues, like the health of the country that sustains all of us.
That’s why Glen Beck is a civil rights leader, albeit for white middle class Americans instead of impoverished non-white ones, and that’s why the left is shouting so loudly that he is not.
This is an older dispute than the WTC tower event. The dispute is this: is America defined by its ideas or by its founding people. The left side says ideas, modern lefty ones, essentially make people. The right side says people are a natural biological and cultural continuum.
Left side America says anyone can come because all they have to do is make the pledge, sign on the dotted line, and voila, instant American. In other words, American as such is nothing more than trivial formalities in series that even one of the great apes or perhaps with assistance for the mobility challenged, a stray dog can perform.
Right side America says we have an America as such because of people much like themselves and if the people change, then at some point the America that people worldwide have loved in the past may not be such a loved place in the future.
Can we swamp Japan in Scandinavians and still have those things we respect about Japan continue into the future? Can we overwhelm Tanzania with Chinese immigrants and still have an authentic African tribal aesthetic and an exotic Dark Continent vibe therein?
On the PRC occupation of Tibet:
There is room enough for cultures that have developed further in some direction and for cultures that have yet to strive as far in their own direction. What’s the hurry to ‘develop’ or ‘progress’ anyway?
There is no need at all for one culture to overlap with another and create the social sickness called multiculturalism. It is multiculturalism, not Mongol people, not the Han, that is the one and only problem in this case.
On the Holy Land of more than one group:
Nationalist can work but not if two nations inhabit the same land. That is multiculturalism. When multiculturalism happens and internal conflict sets in, the leftist academics, media and politicians will point an accusing finger at one group and insist their nationalism is wrong. The truth is that multiculturalism is the problem and that any group will by definition have nationalist cohesion to some degree.
On the modern way of life:
For the past century rampant consumerism has
replaced all our once cherished ancient cultures with phony ethnic themed products
introduced waves of mass immigrant cheap labor of such scale that it is an ethnic cleansing of us
set us on a path of endless international wars for access to more and more raw materials creating a bankrupt empire
clear cut our forests for now boarded up malls with lifeless parking lots and low rent housing packed with minority welfare colonies
used our only sources of fresh water for toxic waste dumping to the extent that 19 out of 20 sources are hazardous
created festering hills and mountains of ever expanding landfill
put us in a dependency cycle with global corporations who put profit and popularity for the short term before compassion and sanity for the long term
given us disposable conveniences which puts us in debt for life and has a dysgenic effect on us by enabling our bypassing of natural selection
It will be interesting to watch the evolution of ideas from simpler right wing reactionary thinking to a more progressive mode that remains true to New Right goals. As a natural selection process, the evolution of ideas is bound to leave behind the less fit, mired in the blunt bigotry of yesterday, while the rest move ahead.
While one side of the debate likes to characterize it as a war for religious freedom, and the other likes to play off the outrage about 9/11, let’s be real: this is a war of memes.
When our ancestors began to imitate they let loose a new evolutionary process based not on genes but on a second replicator, memes. Genes and memes then coevolved, transforming us into better and better meme machines. – NYT
Genes and ideas cross-influence each other. Genetics, as an encoding of data, can carry on the results of memes. This means that much as our genes war for supremacy over one another, our memes do.
In the case of the “ground zero mosque” (which is 600m from “ground zero”), what’s going on here is a culture war.
One side is saying that they want globalization; that is, they don’t want America to be a land of mostly European-looking people with a culture like Europe. They want anything goes, with all ethnic groups mixed and no common cultural standard except tolerance for others being different.
When you think about it, that’s the best society in which to be if you’re not sure you can live up to a moral standard or so hate the idea of moral standards that you want chaos. The downside of it of course is that it produces an anarchy that in turn will demand a strong state…
But enough of that now. We keep hearing about how some people believe Obama was born in Kenya, might be a Muslim, could be gay, etc. What’s the meme there? That Obama is alien. And is it correct?
Muslim Americans continue to give President Barack Obama the highest job approval rating of any major religious group in the U.S., while Mormons give the president the lowest ratings.
The differences in Obama’s approval ratings across the religious groups included in this analysis have held fairly constant across time, even as Obama’s overall rating has fallen by 15 percentage points between the first half of 2009 and the first seven months of this year. American Muslims — in the news recently with the controversy over proposed plans to build an Islamic center and mosque near ground zero in New York City — have given Obama his highest ratings in all three time periods: 86% in the first half of 2009, 83% in the second half of 2009, and 78% so far this year. Mormons have given Obama his lowest ratings across time, dropping from 43% in the first half of 2009 to 24% this year. – Gallup
The crucial data is in that second paragraph is highlighted; Muslims were loving Obama far before this recent ground zero mosque debacle. So while he may not be a Muslim, or born in Kenya, he as a meme represents those who want Muslims and those born in Kenya to have equal importance here in the USA.
The countermemes to this from the right are so far rather defensive, because their job is much harder, trying to articulate the complex idea that it’s best if we have social standards. With social standards, you need less government intervention, and fewer rules, because everyone already knows the rules. Even more, you have a social identity in common, not a political one (“liberty, democracy, equality”). But that requires ethnic near-uniformity, and that we actually have standards, which scares the heck out of people who feel they cannot live up to a social standard or moral standard.
The underconfident sink empires by demanding this kind of anarchy, and then when they think things are going swimmingly, finding out that anarchy means they’re getting the crap kicked out of them — at which point they demand stronger government, stronger law enforcement, and more rules. That in turn converts the society into constant infighting which leads to its collapse.
This memetic war is far from over. If you want the only meme I find meaningful, it is this: I don’t define myself by externalities, therefore I want a stable society — and history shows us that globalization is not the way to that stable society.
Some people feel they need external accomplishments and battles to feel whole. “We were the first to legalize vegetable sodomy!” they say proudly, as if that were true (someone has done it before, undoubtedly) and as if it were important. But I don’t need that externality. In fact, what I want is fewer externalities, so I can focus more on making myself and my family better, stronger and smarter people.
In protecting the diversity that exists on our planet, we want to conserve not only biodiversity, but human biodiversity.
Every species, habitat, culture, tribe and race has fascinating differences and these make each greatly adapted to their region within the biosphere. Whoever pretends that we have nothing to learn or gain in a form of intellectual wealth or evolutionary wealth is a fool putting themselves in debt against natural reality.
Society at present suffers from the converging failures of consumerism and cultural decadence at a level unprecedented in history. Any solution requires alert and determined leadership to begin implementing the following methods toward our goal of preserving our ecosystem and with it those who are responsible to guard it;
1) Firstly, Ethno-nationalism.
For human biodiversity to continue to exist we need to (or at least, a few influential people) understand that any form of biodiversity can only exist if all things in nature have their own space without having to compete constantly for essentials like food, water and land.
Although many people have common ancestors, the greatest thing of all is that nature can transform this into true diversity, not a antagonistic paradoxical lie of ‘equality and diversity’ but unequally evolving into many fascinating social values, which then into cultural and civilization’s traditions that can only grow into greatness when they have space of their own.
2) Secondly, Conservation.
On that last point, biodiversity can only exist greatly when it has space of its own. There is nothing greater than a responsible nation that can diet its urban growth and preserve at least 2/3 of its land for natural fauna and flora, totally independent of human intervention, no pollution, no roads, no fences and no humans all together, just left alone to do its thing and recycle the atmosphere and create a beautiful landscape that urban growth could NEVER replace.
If we stopped expanding, stopped growing in quantity and instead insisted on Quality, we could then stand face to face with our problems instead of running away from them – we’d have to deal with overpopulation and see who is being a drain on resources, who is committing ecocide crimes against human biodiversity and biodiversity itself in all things.
When we can manage ourselves and keep it fit, then our cities will not be filthy and full of parasitic fellow citizens, our country side will be a wilderness in the natural sense and the life that lives there will be inspiring for those who are great enough to appreciate it. It also serves as a cornerstone for future societies that enables us to leave this planet and exist on multiple planets across the solar system.
We must face reality and be unafraid to make the healthy decision no matter how ridiculously unpopular it is, we need a future for our descendants and HAVE to make these critical changes.
What we need to change:
Democracy – Popularity contests will always be disorganised, ineffective and focus on the lowest common denominator. The masses are manipulated by symbolic carrots on a stick and show no signs of ecological awareness except the ineffective greenism, and will never, ever focus on issues of importance. Who would ever be elected if they stood on the platform for survival of biodiversity? for space exploration? for anything which is inconvenient to the short term but greatly generates more wealth in the long term? Democracy will not and can not do this, it’s not popular.
Major dirty industries such as coal, oil and gas – If we localised, we wouldn’t need so much energy in the first place and would only need a few public transports to get us where we need, rather than migrating hundreds of dirty miles a day just to get to a job disconnected from reality.
Mining industries – That want to savage the wildlife to get at the minerals under the soil (nevermind space, the asteroid belt and the infinite supplies of gold, platinum, silver and other chemicals and metals just floating around us, waiting to be discovered). We have dug up plenty of metals previously, they are being used for mundane uses like microwaves and flashy cars – get rid of them and recycle the trash.
Mediocrity and entertainment – This does what democracy does to politics, but to culture and subsequently civilization – inverting it into a social reality ruled by popularity and commerce where anything that requires achieving is ignored because it isn’t fun.
WITH THE TRAIN OF CIVILISATION hurtling at ever-increasing speed towards self-destruction, the most pressing question facing humanity in the 21st century is that of the preservation of life. Can Life Prevail?, the latest book by Finnish environmentalist Pentti Linkola, provides a radical yet firmly grounded perspective on the ecological problems threatening both the biosphere and human culture. With essays covering topics as diverse as animal rights, extinction, deforestation, terrorism and overpopulation, Can Life Prevail? for the first time makes the lucid, challenging writing of Linkola available to an English-speaking public.
“By decimating its woodlands, Finland has created the grounds for prosperity. We can now thank prosperity for bringing us – among other things – two million cars, millions of glaring, grey-black electronic entertainment boxes, and many unnecessary buildings to cover the green earth. Wealth and surplus money have led to financial gambling and rampant social injustice, whereby ‘the common people’ end up contributing to the construction of golf courses, classy hotels, and holiday resorts, while fattening Swiss bank accounts. Besides, the people of wealthy countries are the most frustrated, unemployed, unhappy, suicidal, sedentary, worthless and aimless people in history. What a miserable exchange.”
The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9
Every so often, I find ideas typed by my compatriots challenged by some readers. There are apparently many misconceptions about what are thought to be new ideas. One of the more frequent challenges centers around originality.
There are two problems with our notion of original ideas. The first is the problem of truth.
There are no original ideas that are useful outside of entertainment. All we have falls within the range of wild fantasy with no particular place to go or things that actually work well.
Since we aren’t in the wild fantasy or entertainment business and at our worst we simply speculate on reasonable possibility, our intellectual property as such pushes toward the ‘probably works well’ gradient.
To anyone’s knowledge, no person invented reality, physics, or metaphysics as systems themselves. The very best creators from (not inventors of) these systems among mankind are relaying to us descriptions, properties, or manifest instantiations derived therefrom as material products we may enjoy.
All of our non-fantasy ideas are drawn from what was already in place prior to us all.
Although the properties of an atom may vary within a range all the way up to electrons blown off the shell and eventually fragmented nucleus, the essential components of an atom are consistent: protons, neutrons and electrons summoned into orbit.
Atoms are instances of structures that actually work using borrowed energy to come into existence. Original ideas are similar in that they describe what can or does already take place. A thinking person is a span of borrowed energy. Some thinking people bring that which works to the forefront among our concepts for a while.
As time has gone on, our simpler concepts have been recombined with others into more complex, often hybridized concepts. Fire. Bonfire. Furnace. Engine.
Notice engines are no longer simply fire or even furnace as such and there are many varieties of engine designs that work. Nor are engines just a hunk of rocky iron ore, or only an ignition system or fuel supply; things also in use in less complex form before our latest engines existed.
Retracing our steps back along the ignition system path, we will find wiring which is copper and insulation material, a power supply, an electrode and so forth, all simpler, less complex instantiations of both material and design idea.
The same goes for fuel supply where we revisit metallurgy and metalworking for piping or tubing, pumps with electric motor wiring, valves, and pressure.
It is fair to state that someone or many others have already described or created fire, metallurgy, fan blades, and tubing. But it does not invalidate the ‘originality’ of the creator of the jet turbine. Nor does the creator’s state of being original or not being original have any bearing on his credibility.
This is the truth of all seemingly original ideas. All any of us can possibly do is recombine or reiterate what was already there to begin with. This brings us immediately to the second problem with our notion of original ideas, beyond our nothing is original revelation.
What is important is not the novelty of any idea, which is as I have shown, a simpleton’s challenge for measuring its value. Instead, for us, an idea increases in value the further away from fantasy and toward the works well when tested gradient it pushes.