Author Archives: Severian

The Problem of Assimilation

The last Assyrian I’ve ever heard of was Yossarian, the protagonist of Catch-22, and while I’ve met plenty of “Anglo-Saxons,” I’ve never met any Angles or Saxons (or Jutes for that matter).  Ditto Etruscans, Babylonians, Mound Builders, Harappans, Minoans…. they didn’t get wiped out, they just assimilated.

The trend in the modern West is to embrace ever more bizarre boutique “identities.”  But it doesn’t really work, and we all, boutique “nationalists” most certainly included, know it.  That’s why referendums on Scottish etc. independence always fail — True Scotsmen may be so proud of their heritage that they’ve got an informal fallacy named after them, but they’re not proud enough to consign their country to shivering unimportance on the ragged edge of nowhere by voting “leave.”  Ditto Croats, Serbs, etc. — if the Austro-Hungarian Empire were still a going concern, they’d all make big noises about leaving it, while hanging Franz Joseph’s picture in every living room.  The days of “national self-determination” are long over; the Black Hand would be a chat room for keyboard warriors.

That being the case, we’d do well to craft ourselves a “culture” into which many disparate groups can merge.  The alternative isn’t tiny minority states getting along in wary but ultimately benign coexistence; it’s merger into a global super-empire, either

  • Chinese,
  • Facebook,
  • or the Brotherhood of the Irradited, Mutated Survivors.

Humans sprawl.  It’s in our firmware.  Hobbes said that our only imperative is “a desire for power after power, that ceaseth only in death,” and he’s right.  That’s why human organizations always expand until checked by a hard limit.  In the past, the hardest limit was communication speed — you simply couldn’t control an empire past a certain size when outpost commanders had a six months’ lag time in which to contemplate the pros and cons of continued allegiance.

The Internet nixed that, though, which makes the current hard limit nuclear.

We’re getting a police state anyway, y’all.  Let’s get to work on making it the most congenial police state we can.

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Educating the Uneducable

Back when I was teaching college, I asked students the standard question at the start of the semester: “Why do we study History?”  They’d parrot back the standard answer: “To learn from the mistakes of the past.”  But, I’d point out, nobody ever does.  Who here has woken up with a pounding headache, a sour stomach, and no pants, swearing “I’ll never drink again!”  And what did you do that very same night?

That was always good for a chuckle, but in all my years of professing, nobody ever asked the obvious followup question: Then why do we study History?

Which is good, because my answer would’ve blown my cover: History, and the Liberal Arts in general, are like kung fu in The Matrix.  Since human nature doesn’t change, you can download all the wisdom mankind has accumulated since we stopped swinging in trees.  It may not stop you from getting your ass kicked by Morpheus your first time out (or, you know, stop you from trying to drink off your hangover down at the student union), but it sure beats learning everything the hard way.

At least, that’s what I would’ve said until recently.  At this point, I doubt even that analogy would sink in (and not just because The Matrix is ancient history to today’s students).  We’ve managed to brainwash kids so thoroughly these days that they’re not only uneducated, they are, I have sincerely come to believe, pretty much uneducable.  Combine standardized tests with the culture-wide insistence that everything in human affairs boils down to race/class/gender, and you’ve got a whole generation of kids who can only parrot back approved answers.

The PoMo mantra that there are no facts, only perspectives, makes study pointless.  If everything is a social construction, then studying any particular society — Republican Rome, say, or Ming Dynasty China — tells us nothing, other than the brute fact that society can be constructed that way.  Whether it’s the cursus honorum, the Analects of Confucius, or anything else, it’s all the same in the end: Yet another “technology of power,” keeping the CisHetPat elite on top.  And since they always do end up on top, by definition, then it’s just a mad lib getting them there: “In ___, the __ oppressed the ___ by means of __, __, and ___.”  Please mark all spaces clearly, with a #2 pencil.

Since it all ends up the same in the end, the only thing that matters is jumping through hoops.  To keep the futility of it all from becoming too obvious, we turn hoop-jumping into a national obsession.  Why does one study for the test? To get good grades.  Why do you want good grades?  To get into a good college.  Why go to a good college?  To get a good job.  Why get a good job?  To buy more iCrap, and by that point, who cares?  Have you seen the latest McWhatever?  It’s got a slightly wider screen!

Orwell got it wrong.  The future isn’t a boot stamping on a human face, forever.  It’s a human face lit by the glow of a blinking screen.

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Back in the USSR

For the sake of argument, let’s say that it’s possible for the USA to break up peacefully.

I’d like you to think about the mechanics of that for a second.  Not the legal, “Article V” (or whatever) stuff; I mean the nuts and bolts of things like infrastructure distribution.  Who gets the federal buildings, the arsenals, the nuclear weapons?  If we go with the ancient legal principle of “possession is 9/10ths of the law,” we’ve just made Wyoming a global superpower… and if we don’t, do you really think those now nuclear-armed hotheads in Cheyenne are going to give up their Minuteman IIIs without a fight?

[Forget peaceful collaboration.  If we liked or trusted each other enough to have a joint nuclear defense force, we wouldn’t be splitting up in the first place].

As always, we’d be wise to let history be our guide.  As it turns out, there’s precedent for a globe-spanning military-industrial superpower breaking up peacefully:  The USSR, in 1991.  That’s our best case scenario, y’all.  How’s that working out?

In reality, of course, the dissolution of the USA would be nothing like that of the USSR.  For one thing, for every low-rent “national liberation” movement like the PLO that was totally dependent on regular arms deliveries from the Eastern Bloc, we have entire nations dependent on us for their military security.  Israel, obviously, will get invaded from every side the minute the Article V convention sits down, at which point it will turn all its neighbors into self-lighting glass parking lots.  It didn’t matter that Poland, say, didn’t get any more Soviet tanks after 1991, because if Germany wanted to get the band back together in Warsaw, they’d have to rent their panzers from us.  Vladimir Putin, who actually has all the tanks that were supposed to get shipped to Poland, is under no such constraint.

And so on down the line.  The dollar is still the world’s reserve currency, no?  Remind me: What state is Ft. Knox in, and what part of the Neo-Neoconfederacy will they belong to?  How about the global information infrastructure?  Does Nuevo Nuevo Mexico (formerly Southern California) get that?  Or will the People’s Republic of the Pacific Northwest get Silicon Valley?

The US won’t break up, peacefully or otherwise, because it can’t.  That’s the end of the fucking world, and if we don’t see that now, wait until the situation really starts to heat up.

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Lives Lived Online

I’ve always considered blogging to be performance art.  When I’m here, I’m “Severian.”*  Some of the things I write about myself are true, in the way actors use their own personal experiences to shape their performances.  Others are true-ish, others are false, but they’re all part of the role.  This isn’t “the real me,” any more than I’m “the real me” when giving a lecture, on a date, on the phone with a client, or in any other public place.  I thought all adults understood this — that “the real me” (if it exists at all outside of teenagers’ imaginations) is something that only pops up intermittently, among close friends.

Alas, it seems like mine was the last generation to get it.  There are legal adults now who have grown up entirely online.  They’ve made their peace with social media’s “context collapse,” the merging of all your social groups — and therefore all your personae — into one.  Kids these days, by which I mean legal adults of drinking age, have no problem posting photos of themselves puking in a gutter on Facebook, even if their parents, their professors, and their potential employers can all see it.  It never crosses their minds that the behaviors appropriate among drinking buddies are inappropriate among professional colleagues.

This is why I have some sympathy for the “iCrap has permanently proletarianized us” school of black pill sociology.  Humans are hardwired for sociability; even we very very badthinkers are compelled to share our badthoughts.  But conspirators need privacy to conspire, and that’s the most terrifying characteristic of the New New Soviet Man — while we oldsters recognize that the Internet compromises our privacy, the new generation doesn’t grok the basic concept of privacy.  You might as well just report yourself directly to the Thought Police, since anything you say to anyone born after 1984 is going to end up on Twitter anyway.

There are historical parallels for this.  Communist Romania didn’t have the Internet, but they did have the most comprehensive social surveillance net in the Soviet bloc.  Something like 1 in 30 Romanians was a Securitate informant; even other Commie secret police goons felt their agents were nasty pieces of work.  If every phone in Romania wasn’t bugged, it wasn’t for lack of trying.  They wore a distinctive “uniform” — the now-standard Eurotrash track suit — and made a big show of following people randomly in public as an intimidation tactic.  Anything pre-Facebook surveillance could achieve, in other words, was achieved by the Securitate.

I don’t know any Romanians, but I’ve met people who grew up behind the Iron Curtain.  Even after 30 years in the West, they’re still off, in ways that are hard to describe but easy to recognize.  Theodore Dalrymple said a Romanian dissident told him it’d take five full generations for the national psyche to recover from Communism, and I believe it.**  And here’s the truly terrifying part:  A person who grows up knowing his every word is potentially being recorded by the enemy is one thing.  A person who grows up knowing his every word is potentially being recorded and loves it, because he’s been trained to chase likes and upvotes and retweets like a lab rat on crack, is something very different.

We know what happened to Nicolae Ceausescu.  We also know why: Life in Romania truly sucked, even by Soviet bloc standards.  But: It took 44 years before the Romanian people finally rebelled.  That’s 44 years of suffering, in the shittiest police state this side of North Korea.  And America’s not Romania.  Life doesn’t suck here, and despite our ruling class’s best efforts, we’ve got a long slide to get even halfway to Bucharest.  Our police state has Hulu, and Amazon Prime, and Starbucks, free wifi hotspots at every highway rest stop.  We love our Securitate.

And yet, the Romanians did rebel.  We will too, I believe…. but I can understand where you’re coming from, blackpillers.





*I really hate that stupid moniker.  Back in the early days, I needed a handle to post a comment somewhere.  I looked around the room, saw the bookshelf, saw Shadow of the Torturer hanging slightly out, and boom.  I guess it works — I, too, am an unreliable narrator who probably isn’t 100% sane — but it’s not what I’d choose if I thought I’d be using it more than once.
** whether they’ll get five generations is another question entirely.
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What Bad Guys Got Right

I love George Orwell.  But I can never forget that he was a Socialist, which meant that, when the chips were down, he was cuckoo for cocoa puffs.  Here he is, in The Road to Wigan Pier, discussing the typical Left-wing attitude of his time toward the British Empire:

Every left-wing ‘intellectual’ is, as a matter of course, an anti-imperialist. He claims to be outside the empire-racket as automatically and self-righteously as he claims to be outside the class-racket… [but] in the last resort, the only important question is. Do you want the British Empire to hold together or do you want it to disintegrate? And at the bottom of his heart no Englishman…does want it to disintegrate. For, apart from any other consideration, the high standard of life we enjoy in England depends upon our keeping a tight hold on the Empire, particularly the tropical portions of it such as India and Africa. Under the capitalist system, in order that England may live in comparative comfort, a hundred million Indians must live on the verge of starvation–an evil state of affairs, but you acquiesce in it every time you step into a taxi or eat a plate of strawberries and cream.

The alternative is to throw the Empire overboard and reduce England to a cold and unimportant little island where we should all have to work very hard and live mainly on herrings and potatoes. That is the very last thing that any left-winger wants. Yet the left-winger continues to feel that he has no moral responsibility for imperialism. He is perfectly ready to accept the products of Empire and to save his soul by sneering at the people who hold the Empire together.

And yet, Orwell thought “[social] class-breaking,” as he called it, not only could happen, but would happen — that his fellow Englishmen, Left and Right, would choose a herrings-and-potatoes life, if only they were sufficiently informed about social conditions in the Raj!

Karl Marx was far less sanguine, and far more sanguinary: He knew that social classes would never break without Revolution, and that the Revolution would produce, of necessity, a new type of human being — one that is perfectly content with herrings and potatoes so long as no peasant in Hyderabad ever goes to bed hungry.

Marx got the diagnosis right.  His prescription was wrong, because human beings don’t work like that (and there is no such thing as Spirit, History, and the rest of the Capital Letter Stuff that is Marx’s real philosophy).  But he nailed the fact that conflicts between social classes are the drivers of history, small-h.  Looking to Marx for political insight is like going to one of those bird mask-wearing medieval plague doctors to treat your head cold.  He’ll spot the problem straight off, but he’ll want to bleed you and make you wear a poultice of sheep rectum or something to cure it.

Bad guys, in other words, get things right all the time.  Adolf Hitler well understood liberal democracy’s hedonism problem, and here again, Orwell said it best:

Hitler…knows that human beings don’t only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags and loyalty-parades. However they may be as economic theories, Fascism and Nazism are psychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life…. Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people “I offer you a good time,” Hitler has said to them “I offer you struggle, danger and death,” and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet.

Like Marx, Hitler got the diagnosis right, but his prescription was equally barmy.  His (and Himmler’s) big idea for the post-victory Reich was a network of autobahns linking what were essentially medieval castle towns all across the former USSR.  The Waffen-SS was designed specifically for the role of warrior-peasants farming the Ukraine.  Think of the Teutonic Knights, but with tanks and jet aircraft — that’s what the Wehrbauern were supposed to be.  Like Orwell with his English Socialists, the Nazi leadership seemed to believe that the proper National Socialist consciousness would prompt people to give up the comforts of a globe-spanning slave empire to go dig in the dirt in the ass end of Lithuania.

The question for us is: Have our modern day bad guys gotten it right this time?

Soros et al seem to believe — and lots of folk in Our Thing seem to concur, if comment sections are any guide — that modern techno-feudalism has produced a new kind of human being.  Bread and circuses couldn’t keep the Roman plebs suppressed for ever, this line of belief goes, but Augustus et al didn’t have iCrap.  The carrot of constant ego-validation on Facebook, combined with Facebook’s constant suppression of badthink, has produced a proletariat too fat, lazy, and stupid to do anything other than “work” just enough to keep consuming.  We social media-sotted “workers” are like the Capitalists in Lenin’s famous quote, except that instead of selling the ropes by which we will be hanged, we buy the chains by which we will be forever enslaved.

I don’t buy it, and as proof, I give you the “Antifa” themselves.  I’ve written about this before, many times, but if you haven’t been on campus recently (or at all), I really can’t convey to you just how nice everything is.  I stand by my hyperbole, because it’s really not too much of an exaggeration:

There is no nicer, safer, cushier existence than that found on a college campus.  There never has been, not once, not in all human history.  The great Ozymandias would trade half his empire for an air conditioned dorm room and all-you-can-eat sushi at the student union; he’d trade the other half for a MacBook Pro and free wifi.

I’m a middle aged, upper-middle-class White guy.  I live a life chock full of “privilege.”  But I’d trade it all to be a 19 year old college kid again, because thanks to student loans, an on-demand culture that caters to students exclusively, and the continuing stupidity of upper-middle-class parents, 19 year old college kids live way better than I do.  Half the cars on campus are nicer than mine, the other half are way nicer, and the kids all carry about my month’s paycheck’s worth of stuff just on their persons.  iPhones, Mac Books, top of the line fashion, $200 Ugg boots, $300 watches that don’t even tell time…. But hell, I’d trade all that just for the sheer, glorious irresponsibility of it all.  College kids know nothing, because they’re required to know nothing; do nothing, because they can’t be made to do anything.  Failed the exam?  Just go nag the professor until he changes your grade, and if he won’t, keep nagging up the chain — someone will change it, because the customer is always right (and if all else fails, by definition you’ve got at least one Victim Card to play).  It’s heaven.

And yet, these are the most miserable critters in captivity.  They have everything, they’re required to do nothing…. and they’re out rioting in the streets, because President Trump’s tweets make them feel bad.  They’ve got their own fucking pronouns, for Christ’s sake, that they can change at will.  If anyone should be Soros’s New Soviet Persyns, it’s these kids.  If iCrap can’t keep them happy, then there’s something wrong with the iCrap-and-iCircuses view of society.

We’d do well to figure out what it is.  Western Civ depends on it.

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A Brief History of (Liberal) Time

President Trump’s good economic numbers, we’re told, are all due to Obama’s “legacy.”

When that Guardians of the Galaxy guy got fired, we were told that his Tweets didn’t matter, because they were old.

To us Normals, this would suggest that there’s a sort of statute-of-limitations in effect.  Obama policy X, for instance, took Y number of years to mature, such that its beneficial effects are being felt only now.  “Cash for Clunkers,” for instance, began in the summer of 2009.  Trump’s first quarter in office ended in the spring of 2017.  This suggests — again, to neurotypical people — that IF “Cash for Clunkers” is part of Obama’s economic “legacy” to Trump, THEN a “Cash for Clunkers”-type “incentive” plan takes eight years to start paying dividends.  And so on down the line, with all His Majesty’s policies — take the year it was implemented, subtract from 2016 (to give max credit to Obama), and that’s your interval: Liberal policies of X type take __ number of years to mature, so we should expect policy __ to kick in right around the year ___.*

It works backwards, too, as the James Gunn saga has taught us.  He said what he said on March 2, 2012 (or whenever); therefore, only stuff from 3/3/12 forward counts.  I may be an unrepentant reich-wing hatemonger, but you can only use stuff from the 2nd Obama administration on in to make your case against me.  Everything before that is sealed, like my juvenile court records.  At least, that’s how Normals would interpret it…

I’m sure you can find a dozen more examples with a five-second internet search.  The Left has a certain… nuance in their perception of time.  The best explanation I can find is The Z Man’s: while we perceive time linearly (diachronically) and dispassionately, they perceive it synchronically and emotionally.  They’re still going on about Jim Crow and the 1964 Civil Rights Act (and the hilarious Great Magic Party Switch it must’ve entailed), on this understanding, because it still resonates emotionally for them.  There are still a few drops of virtue juice to be squeezed from it, so they keep squeezing.  The sad states of Detroit and Chicago, on the other hand, mean nothing to them, because, well, that’s just history.

Add to this the fact that they never seem to learn, even when doing so would by their own “logic” benefit them immensely (see footnote), and you have to conclude that they don’t learn because they CAN’T learn.  It’s not that cognitive dissonance doesn’t apply to them, or that they’re shameless hypocrites (though, of course, it doesn’t and they are).  It’s that they’re wired differently.  Their brains are broken.

This suggests that the only tactic that will truly work against them is instant massive retaliation in kind.  The Gunn firing was a good start.  It doesn’t matter that Gunn said whatever he said however many years ago — someone on the Left disemployed someone on the Right today; therefore someone on the Left gets it today.  It does no good to put it to them as a general rule — IF one of yours does this, THEN we will do that — because, as we’ve seen, they don’t really grok the passing of time.

They’ll never say to themselves “maybe I shouldn’t do thus-and-such, because look what happened to So-and-So the last time.”  For Leftists, there is literally — literally, Millennials, literally! — no “last time.”  They only “remember” goodfeelz and badfeelz, so the only hope is Pavlovian conditioning — make the badfeelz overwhelming and instantaneous, and they’ll automatically cringe their finger away from the “post” button.

Nuke the site from orbit, every time, right away.  It’s the only way to be sure.



*The obvious, fascinating question this raises: If we know that Policy X takes Y number of years to mature — as we must, since every Liberal assures us that it’s all Obama’s doing — then why don’t they simply enact these wonderful policies to benefit themselves?  Why leave Trump the “legacy” of a great economy, instead of simply having a great economy yourself?  I guess Liberals are right — their greatest weakness is that they just care too much.  They’re so concerned about helping Donald Trump feel better about himself that they’ll take five or six straight “recovery summers” on the chin, just to leave him a “legacy.”
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HBD and Moral Philosophy

At Z Man’s, an interesting discussion about redpilling.  In the comments, Z Man asserts:

A moral philosophy of HBD [human biodiversity] does not exist yet. But, that does not mean it can’t exist.

Which got me thinking.  So as not to clog up his comment section with abstract stuff, I’m putting it here.

Moral philosophies of HBD, or, at least, moral philosophies that can be consistent with HBD, do exist.  They’re a dime-a-dozen, actually.  Any utilitarian philosophy — “the greatest good for the greatest number” — can easily be HBD-retconned, but there’s an even better one: Kant’s Categorical Imperative.  “Treat others as you’d wish to be treated;” “treat others always as ends, never means;” “do unto others as you would have done unto you;” “don’t do to others what you wouldn’t have done to you*” — these are all great slogans, not to mention fantastic rules to live by.  The problem is, without divine sanction, they’re just good advice.

Nobody has ever marched into battle solely on the strength of good advice.

That’s the first major problem with the HBD-centric view of life.  In Z Man’s wider post, he’s talking about legitimacy.  Why obey a government that not only doesn’t represent you, but seems to actively hate you, and seeks your destruction?  A political philosophy based on HBD alone seems, unavoidably, to entail a caste system.  Which, I think we’d all agree, is a major part of America’s ongoing legitimacy crisis — we live in a “representative government” that seems determined to consign the majority of us to serfdom.

The only way “representative government” seems to work, in fact, is if we’re all pretty much genetically equal.  Which seems to entail — again, unavoidably — genocide.  It would’ve been nice if the Founders had kept all the riffraff of Europe out after 1792… but they didn’t.  It would be nice if all the “recent-Americans,” as (per Vox Day at least) everyone without a Mayflower ancestor seems to be, would self-deport… but they won’t.  We’re stuck with the population we have.

Telling our fellow Americans “caste system, genocide, or both, take your pick” is not a winner, legitimacy-wise.

The fact is, as Z Man himself pointed out in the original post, legitimacy requires something constructive.  People are — as Z also points out, often and at great length — hardwired for belief.  We need something higher than ourselves.  Whether or not that something actually exists is irrelevant; religious (in the broadest sense) belief is part of our brain structure; it shows up in fMRIs.

Which is the second big problem with the all-HBD view of life: It’s self-contradictory.  You’re telling them that the only meaningful thing about humanity is our genes, which — since, on the HBD account of human life, our genes control our belief — entails that our lives are meaningless.

And that’s why “a moral philosophy of HBD” can’t exist.  If the best it can do is good advice — “treat others as you would be treated” — then it’s not a moral philosophy, it’s a Hallmark card.  And since that good Hallmark-card advice seems to rest on nihilism, it’s not even an effective Hallmark card.

I’ll close with a practical example: The French Revolution.  Robespierre et al, like all Leftists always and everywhere, thought they were science’s BFFs.  They knew there’s no God.  But even they acknowledged that the unwashed rabble couldn’t do without it, so they offered up first the Cult of Reason, then the Cult of the Supreme Being.  But the French Revolutionary armies wouldn’t fight for those.  They fought, of course, for la patrie en danger, for the fraternité.

Any government that doesn’t recognize the realities of HBD will fail eventually… but any government that recognizes only HBD will never get started.



*my favorite, because it’s Hobbes’s.
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A Little More Academia-Bashing

Since that seems to be popular around here, and thanks to the inspiration of a “male feminist” professor who… wait for it…. has been accused of sexual harassment.

Totally unexpected, I know.

For you normal folks who never wondered where your professors came from (and why would you?), take a minute to think about it.  Take your wildest imagining, then make it ten times worse.  That’ll get you in the ballpark.

Academia, as a career, has one of the most perverse sets of incentives on the planet, and of course I mean “perverse” in every sense.  Let’s consider the economic first.  Forget the dismal job prospects, as nobody really feels those when he’s 22 (and modern college kids can’t do math anyway).  You need a PhD to be a professor, which means at least another 4 years in college, and usually more like 6-10.  Even if you get an assistantship — good luck with that! — it’s a pittance.  Think about the kind of person who would willingly live like a college student in his late 20s and into his early 30s, when all of his friends are out making money.*

That’s where another meaning of “perverse” kicks in, because, of course, the kind of kid who would go to graduate school doesn’t have any friends, almost by definition.  Professing is a seriously schizo business.  You’re required to teach, and that’s all the public sees, but you’re hired to do research… none of which ever gets publicized, because it’s so recondite that it’s often hard to tell what exactly it is.  The lady who teaches English Lit 101 doesn’t have a degree in “English Lit;” she did her PhD on the gendered use of adverbs in 18th century British newspaper ads or something.  It might not be “‘How to Write as Felt’: Touching Transmaterialities and More-Than-Human Intimacies,” but as far as everyday people are concerned, it might as well be.

That’s the kind of person who goes to graduate school.

Actually, it’s worse than that.  A lady who did her doctoral dissertation on the gendered use of adverbs in Augustan newspaper ads would be one of the comparatively normal ones.  That, at least, requires serious (in the sense of time-consuming) archival research, plus a working knowledge of things like “adverbs.”  Yeah, there’s that “gendered” stuff, but that’s the academic version of a cover charge — you have to use words like “gendered” and “Foucauldian” to get in the door.  You can at least be sure that this lady has read some Augustan newspapers, and can place the Augustan age in the correct country and century.

For many others…. not so much.  David Thompson is a rich source for the deep thoughts of modern academics, and I suggest going over there right away (be sure to hit the tip jar).  There you’ll see things like this:

Where women have usually been objects to be looked at, hypermedia systems replace the gaze with the empowered look of the embodied browser in motion in archival space. Always in flux, the shape of time’s transformation is a Möbius strip unfolding time into the dynamic space of the postmodern text, into the ‘unfold.’

I defy anyone to make sense of that.  I speak PoMo, and I’m buffaloed.  But the woman who wrote that, of course, has tenure, and was at the time the Hot New Thing in a hot new field, “radical cyber-feminism.”  400 pages of politicized junk, a random scramble of buzzwords.  And that’s her dissertation, which means it was closely directed by at least one tenure-track professor, extensively workshopped, vetted over the course of years, and finally passed by a multi-member committee, also composed of tenure-track academics.

And it’s fucking gibberish.  Every sentence, every clause, nearly every word.

That’s the kind of person who goes to graduate school.  If you saw the author of that piece walking down the street towards you — and trust me, you’d know, there’s no mistaking a radical feminist — you’d start moving very fast the other way.  What’s the difference between an Intro to Studies professor and a schizophrenic hobo off his meds?  About 130K per year, plus the hobo will stop coming on to you if you just give him some spare change.

I couldn’t be happier to be gone.  I’ll miss watching the freak show, and I feel like I’m letting the side down by not providing the few conservative college kids with one secret ally, but one can only pull the King Canute routine for so long before you’re spending your entire paycheck on blood pressure medication.

But hey, I’ve got some wonderful memories.  And I’ll be happy to share ’em….




*For any new readers (which would put us at, what, 10?), I did the “nontraditional” student thing — I picked up my PhD piecemeal, mostly while working a real job, and I was never on the tenure track (and I’m now retired).  So yeah, I was never a “real” professor, which means my anecdotes don’t count, but they seem to amuse the rabble.
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On Leaving Academia

Watching the first school year in forever gearing up to start without me, I’m trying to think of a metaphor to describe leaving academia.

It’s like being the last buggy-whip maker watching Model T’s roll off the assembly line …. no, that’s not right.  By that point, it was obvious that the horse-and-buggy age was gone and the automobile age had begun.  College as we currently know it is deader than disco, but the corpse still has some twitches left in it.  That’s because the academic version of the Model T — nationwide skill certifications, done online — hasn’t gotten off the ground yet (the buggy whip makers have themselves one hell of a lobby).

Maybe it’s like being a lumberjack on Easter Island, eyeing the last stand of hardwood.  We sure as hell don’t need another huge damn stone head, but what difference, at this point, does it make?  That’s closer to the spirit.  The Easter Islanders had to realize they were irrevocably screwed at some point, but they went on making the heads anyway.  Maybe they thought their gods would step in and save them?  But eggheads recognize no god but government, and it’s the government, via tax shortfalls and ballooning pension liabilities, that are slowly closing the universities’ money spigot.  So that can’t be right.

The best I can come up with is the later Roman Empire, which was still building forts and stuffing them with legions long after it was obvious the forts-and-legions model was unsustainable.* The Empire needed deep structural reform, down to its fundamental principles — i.e. “should we even have an Empire in the first place?”  Everyone with half a brain could see it, but the political will wasn’t there.  Because, of course, everyone with half a brain, from the Emperor to the legionary to the day laborer building the fort, was utterly invested in the current system.

That’s where the ivory tower is right now,  My former employer, Flyover State, went all-in on the college version of legions-and-forts, bigtime football and the five-star hotel dorm room experience.  They did this even though the football team isn’t good and the dorms, though lovely, are still located in the ass end of nowhere.  The campus fitness centers — plural — look like the gym where Drago worked out in Rocky IV.  The libraries, also plural, look like a combo of coffee shops and sports bars; you have to delve deep into the under-basements to find an actual book.  Each dorm has its own cafeteria, with on-duty chefs making bespoke meals.  There are so many extracurriculars that nobody bothers with the curriculars anymore — pay for an A is the order of the day, as Kanye West probably said when he was in college.

It’s completely unsustainable.  A 10% drop in enrollment — which lots of junior colleges and the like are already experiencing, thanks to a booming economy — would gut half the universities in America.  A 10% dip in the value of the yuan would finish the rest off, Chinese students paying full out-of-state tuition being the only thing that keeps most programs running.  Those lovely five-star dorms are going to be Section 8 housing here in about ten years; plan your real estate deals accordingly.

The fact is, very few people need a college education.  An apprenticeship system, combined with online certification exams, would serve for all but the heaviest lab-bench disciplines.  The Liberal Arts are a complete waste of time, and have been for decades — I spent far more time teaching remedial 5th grade English to students who can barely follow a Tweet than anything in my supposed field; actually trying to teach students something in my field would be like lecturing to butterflies about particle physics.  It’s a multi-trillion dollar scam, top to bottom.

And it’s closer to ending than anyone thinks.  I wasn’t kidding about the Chinese kids.  The minute it no longer makes sense for CCP officials to send their spare kids to American day cares for a few years, the university system is toast.  The yuan is already dropping versus the dollar, and aren’t we supposed to be getting into some kind of trade war here soon?  That’ll be a fun chapter of the history books when the rubble clears — the Great Collapse of 2019 was caused by college kids skipping the five-year day camp and getting real jobs.




*Joseph Tainter talked about this in The Collapse of Complex SocietiesIIRC.  That’s a book that should be at the top of Our Thing’s reading list.  It’s academic archaeology, but there are more lessons for us in it than just about anywhere else.
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Inflection Points

When does a gathering become a crowd?  When does a crowd become a mob?  When, and how, do mobs self-organize into societies?

Social thinkers used to be fascinated with questions like these.  Gustave Le Bon, a brilliant SOB* with wide influence on guys like Freud, Sorel, Lenin, and Hitler, spent a lot of his life working on the psychology of crowds and revolution.  The great British anthropologists, like E.B. Tylor, theorized about the stages of human socio-cultural development.  Even nutters like Bakunin thought hard about how an anarchist “society” would operate.  The late 19th century was the great age of social anthropology.

We’d do well to reacquaint ourselves with these guys.  Modern anthropology — now the various “Studies” — is useless, because they’ve gone all-in on relativism.  Everything is a “social construction” to these folks, which makes not just anthropology, but the humanities in general, worthless.  What could, say, the Ancient Greeks have to teach us, other than the self-evident fact that it’s possible to “construct” a society in the way they did?

Which is to say, racist, sexist, homophobic, blah blah blah, just like every other society in the history of humanity (those scoundrels).  Why study the Greeks’ art or literature, except to see the specific ways in which they “reified” Greek prejudices, or served as “technologies” of oppression?  Le Bon and Sorel could make something out of that — a really killer “how-to” manual for a high-Victorian police state — but the ivory tower is all about talking, never doing.  We need to go back to the sources.

What’s the inflection point?  Our Thing is strictly an Internet thing right now, and maybe it always will be.  It surely will be if we don’t figure out some way to take it to the streets.  Sorel was a dirty commie, but Sorelianism has much to teach us.  Le Bon, Lenin, Hitler, Bernays, Maurras, Mao, even Bakunin and E.B. Tylor (if only because carrying around a book called Primitive Cultures would be so deliciously triggering).  Relativism is false; human nature was, is, and always shall be.  These guys actually went out and did something with it.

At what point does a mob become a tribe?  Find the inflection point, before the Left finds it for you.



*It sounds like I’m indulging in a version of the genetic fallacy here — because Le Bon’s ideas were used by awful people, Le Bon himself must’ve been a bad guy.  From what I know of him (very little), he seems to have been no worse than your average belle epoque Frenchman.  But it would’ve been much better for the world if all his insights hadn’t been collected so cogently, and with such energy.  They marched Western Culture off the cliff, that generation, but you sure can’t fault their work ethic.

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