Author Archives: Severian

Join the Democrats

It occurs to me that we’ve got a great opportunity for in-person meetups right under our noses: The Democratic Party.

Those of us who remember the 1980s had a good laugh at the campaign of alleged right-wing nativist extremist maniac uber-Republican Ted Cruz, who would’ve been a fairly conventional centrist Democrat as late as 1988.  Commie rags like Mother Jones and The Nation have surely purged their paper archives in true Stalinist style, but the internet is forever — it wouldn’t be hard, I imagine, to find all sorts of articles from big-name Lefties arguing for things near and dear to our hearts: Closed borders, protective tariffs, the breakup of Big Tech monopolies….

In short, since “the Working Man” is now code for “White people,” recasting ourselves as Friends of the Working Man — as all good Democrats once pretended to be — is a no-brainer, organization-wise.  Hell, even Hillary Clinton — as out and proud an oligarch as you’ll find this side of Cosimo de Medici — made a few token gestures about the Plight of the Working Class in between jetting off to $10,000 a plate fundraisers.  The Left dropped Socialism the minute they realized stuff like lower drug prices would benefit Badwhites, but they left a paper trail nearly a century long.  All we have to do is pick it up.

Please note: This isn’t some hypothetical gas about DR3*.  It’s purely a tactical move.  Most party organizations in most places, I imagine, run skeleton crews outside of election years.  The Democratic Party Booster Club of [town name] would be a perfect way for us to get together.  All you have to do is pass the hat once a month, to raise a modest “speaker’s fee” for some flunky in the city government, or some Poli-Sci dweeb from the local junior college, to come in and give a speech, “with reception to follow.”  Once the speaker hightails it out — which should be soon, as blue-haired nose-ringers tend to di di mau when faced with a room of White guys — we’re free to discuss all sorts of interesting things that would benefit our fellows… as are written in the Scriptures, circa 1987.  Surely no one can object to a “study circle” focusing on the work of, say, David Corn….


*”Democrats R tha Real Racists,” for you older folks who don’t speak Internet.
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The Pre-Crime Department

As it seems I’m auditioning for the role of Our Thing’s E.M. Cioran, let’s talk about things to come.

We all broadly agree that “race is real,” by which is meant — again, broadly — that 1) certain mental and behavioral tendencies are strongly heritable.  We also broadly agree that 2) society’s current trajectory is unsustainable, because it takes a certain suite of strongly heritable tendencies, IQ and high future time orientation being the most prominent, to keep an advanced technological society going — tendencies which, obviously, the Replacement Population currently flooding over our borders doesn’t have.  Finally, we broadly agree on 3) what they called “degeneration” back at the turn of the 20th century (the last time we were allowed to speak on such topics): That this advanced technological society is, itself, destroying the tendencies necessary for its maintenance, by easing or eliminating the evolutionary pressures that produced them.

So: What to do about it?

Let’s leave the nightmare scenarios of apocalyptic collapse aside for the moment (see below).  Let’s also set aside Ray Kurzweil-ish speculations about widespread genetic engineering and the robot future.  Let’s treat the givens as given — we have such-and-such a population now; they are what they are right now; and thanks to all the stuff we broadly agreed on above, technological innovation is pretty much dead in the water (what, you think Jose, Prajneet, and Kunta Kinte are going to invent the gene editing kiosks?).  Let’s stipulate that we’re working with what we have on hand.

Starting from the top: Technological progress has flatlined, or will shortly, as thanks to 2 and 3, above, the necessary tendencies aren’t being inherited in sufficient numbers.  Since that’s the case, whatever’s left of “free enterprise” will quickly be co-opted by the state.  If you’ve only got five engineers where you used to have fifty, those five guys will need to keep every brain cell firing just to maintain what we have — any “innovation” will involve streamlining existing processes for an ever-dumber workforce.

Therefore: Do we have reliable, widely-available genetic tests for IQ and high future time orientation?  If we do, we can go ahead and implement the caste system now.  But if we don’t, and I don’t think we do, then the educational system will need a complete redesign to help ferret them out.  I know, I know, but you’re not gonna like this one: Instead of endless self-esteem and sex ed classes, you’ll need a Prussian-looking system that’s all-STEM, all the time.  Note carefully our stipulations: Since the suite of necessary tendencies is rare, and getting rarer, we’re doing all this to discover (let’s say) 25% of the population.

What happens to the other 75%?

Since we’ve already stipulated that the only issue that matters is maintaining the technological infrastructure we have, and so we’re willing to do what it takes to find future techies in the cradle, the other 75% are, at best, support staff.  But since we’re running on the assumption that society requires certain heritable traits to keep going — and that we can test for them — the only logical thing to do is to ruthlessly select against the other traits, while we find something useful for the current crop of Marching Morons to do.  We already have industrial-scale applications for Marching Morons — fruit pickers, meat packers, and the like.  How scalable are those, and how early do we need to start?

(Note that the process could be streamlined still further if we cut out the middleman — that is, if instead of the State taking over the Big Tech companies, the Big Tech companies take over the State.  If you dig the thought of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez setting your kids’ curriculum, you’re gonna love Mark Zuckerberg’s syllabus.  The other industrial-scale app for Marching Morons is, of course, the infantry, and while I’m sure the Jack Dorsey Division could settle Al Qaeda’s hash over in The Sandbox, I imagine Jack himself might insist on deploying them a little closer to home).

The culture will need a complete overhaul, too, since it’s obvious to all but the die-hard HBD True Believers (alas, something like 90% of Our Thing at last count) that biology and culture have a dialectical relationship.  Biology is prior, I’ll grant you — the best-designed culture in the world isn’t going to turn a bunch of Congolese into a nation of rocket scientists — but culture is a major influence nonetheless.  See, for example, the African-American population.

When Daniel Patrick Moynihan was writing The Negro Family: The Case for National Action all the way back in 1965, it was obvious that huge programs designed to help the Black community had had the opposite result.  Welfare encourages bastardy single parenthood, and single parenthood is closely correlated with just about every social pathology negative life outcome there is.*  Black Americans were indisputably better off, on just about any metric that makes sense, before programs like The Great Society….

…that is, in the era of Jim Crow.

It seems, then, that a monolithic culture, imposed from the top and ruthlessly enforced, can ameliorate, if not outright eliminate, a lot of bad heritable tendencies.  Not a lot of rocket scientists came from the Jim Crow South, I’ll grant you, but Clarence Thomas did, as did Thomas Sowell. If you’re looking for role models for the non-techie 75%, you could do a lot worse… and does anyone really believe that Thomas and Sowell would be who they are if they’d been born in the Great Society?

Lest we be tempted to the sin of race essentialism, note that it works just as well on White people.  The Soviets actually did a lot of the stuff I’m suggesting our future HBD-compliant state will do, and it worked — the USSR had way more engineers in 1957 than in 1917.  That it turned Ivan Sixpack into a low-IQ, low future time orientation, vodka-swilling oaf was a feature, not a bug, of the Soviet system, but it’s proof enough of the dialectical relationship between biology and culture.   Between the tackles, humanity is pretty plastic.  You might not be able to turn the Congolese into rocket scientists, but you can definitely turn Russians into modern-day cavemen.

Time being what it is, and demographics being what they are, ruthless imposition of “culture” at bayonet point is the only hope.

A final word: Some will no doubt say that I’m cheerleading for Fascism.  I’m not.  It’s abhorrent.  But History doesn’t care about our morality, let alone our preferences.  It is what it is, and no individual can stop it.  There may have been a “Dissident Rightist” in Rome in 410, who saw everything perfectly and had the perfect plan to fix it.  I make no such claims for myself, of course, but it wouldn’t matter if i did see everything perfectly and did have a foolproof plan — the barbarians were already at the gates.  What I’m talking about — “Bio-Fascism,” I guess you could call it — is repugnant, but in my “black pill” moments I’m convinced it’s actually the best-case scenario.  It’ll be an ugly couple of generations getting the DNA back up to snuff, but considering the alternatives….



*N.b. that’s from The Brookings Institution, the most wretched hive of Goodwhite virtue-signalling there is.  If they say single parenthood is “problematic,” it must really be the fucking apocalypse.


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Home is Where You Hang Your Enemy’s Head

My own life has been the globalist dream.  I grew up in the New South in the Reagan Years, in one of the zillions of prefab “communities” that sprang up during the local tech boom.  Change was constant.  My parents’ work-friends were throwing around the term “starter home” long before it hit national circulation.  If you stayed in the same house for five years, you’d get three different sets of neighbors — Susie’s house became Prajneet’s house became Quantavious’s house, and then it was time to move yourself.  You could ride around with your buddies on lazy afternoons after school, pointing out all the houses we used to live in (this was back before the Internet, you understand).

But a funny thing happened: Even though nobody was from there, and nobody expected to stay there — I bet half my graduating class transferred in, to replace the other half that transferred out  — everyone was fanatically loyal to the football team.  It was the South, yeah, but that Friday Night Lights bullshit is the OLD South, the rural South.  In the New South, the South of Prajneet and Achmed and Kung Pao, all the White kids have just moved in from Massachusetts, where high school football is nonexistent.  And they sure as hell weren’t getting their die-hard Puma Pride from Prajneet and Achmed and Kung Pao…

Even funnier: Military recruiters had the run of the place.  Every fall we were “encouraged” to take the ASVAB; every spring there’d be a big assembly where Uncle Sam’s spit-shined hucksters gave you their best pitch.  And lots of kids signed up.  Again, I can’t stress enough that this place was middle class to the core — upper middle class, actually, in lots of cases, since tech booms involve stock options.  These days, one whiff of Brasso would send that kind of parent to the fainting couch, but back then it was no big deal.  Nor was it any big deal to sign up.  Several of my friends did, and again, these were middle-to-upper-middle class guys — the son of our family dentist went on to a long and classified career in the Special Forces; a few other guys with uber-white collar parents joined the Marines.

Those who weren’t called to the colors shipped off to college (or didn’t bother, since “computer science” wasn’t really something one majored in back then.  A guy I knew in high school was the CTO of a giant company, probably pulling seven figures, and well into middle age before he finally bothered to pick up a college degree).  And again, a funny thing happened: Though Prajneet’s and Achmed’s and Kung Pao’s parents were obsessed with getting them into the Ivy League, the other kids’ parents didn’t really care.  The kids who applied to the pricey engineering schools did so because they really wanted to be engineers.  Prajneet wanted to go to Berkeley because it’s Berkeley, but as a White kid you’d get laughed out of the room if you said you wanted to go to Cal Tech because it’s Cal Tech — unless you really want to design missiles for the DoD, what’s the point?

Even funnier: Though schools were chosen pretty much on a whim, once there, the same fanatic loyalty to the football team kicked in.  I knew a guy who literally made the choice between Big State and its hated rival Directional Tech by doing eeny-meeny-miny-moe with the acceptance letters, but by Christmas Break this dude’s loyalty to Big State was nearing Heaven’s Gate levels.  He’s still that way decades later, and he went several mortgages’ worth into hock to make sure all his kids could be Big State Fightin’ Farmers too.

The point of this little trip down memory lane is that for all of us — the rootless cosmopolitans of the globalist dream — whatever success we may have had in life has come through the process of identity-construction.  Lacking anything on which to build a truly personal identity, we jumped at the biggest, most all-consuming prefab identity we could find.  Those guys that joined the army out of high school are almost to a man still in the army, or involuntarily separated (they used to have an “up-or-out” promotion system; if you didn’t make the next rank in a certain time, they’d retire you).  Even if they’re out, they’re still as rah-rah-sis-boom-bah in their way as the guy who still flies back to Big State every year to tailgate at the homecoming game.  Look at all those “US Army Retired” bumper stickers that proliferated in the past few years; note how many of the drivers of those cars are middle-aged.

If Our Thing ever hopes to turn things around, it has to start with a sense of place.  It doesn’t have to be a physical place — those Army guys are loyal to the Army as a whole, not Fort Bragg or whatever —  but it has to give a sense of rootedness.  Otherwise, people will take whatever prefab identity is most all-encompassing… and that, of course, is “Liberal.”  Everyone needs a home, and home has to mean something.

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Biological Reality

The Z Man writes

What comes next is going to be a moral philosophy rooted in biological reality.

It’s interesting to think about what that would look like, because it sounds like a contradiction in terms to me.  What do y’all think?

Here’s my case: The “moral sentiments,” or whatever 19th century phrase you choose to use, have been a thorn in Darwinism’s side from the beginning.  It’s easy to get lost in the weeds of “sociobiology” and the like (and some Internet neckbeard will always accuse you of not understanding Teh Science(TM)), but the fact remains that if we humans are animals like any other — bound by the same evolutionary laws, subject to the same evolutionary pressure — then LOTS of human behavior doesn’t make sense.

Any educated person can easily think of a hundred characteristics, commonly occurring in our species, which are not only ‘in the least degree’ injurious to their possessors, but seriously or even extremely injurious to them, which have not been ‘rigidly destroyed’, and concerning which there is not the smallest evidence that they are in the process of being destroyed.

Here are ten such characteristics, without even going past the first letter of the alphabet. Abortion; adoption; fondness for alcohol; altruism; anal intercourse; respect for ancestors; susceptibility to aneurism; the love of animals; the importance attached to art; asceticism, whether sexual, dietary, or whatever.

Each of these characteristics tends, more or less strongly, to shorten our lives, or to lessen the number of children we have, or both. All of them are of extreme antiquity. Some of them are probably older than our species itself.

Adoption, for example is practised by some species of chimpanzees: another adult female taking over the care of a baby whose mother has died. Why has not this ancient and gross ‘biological error’ been rigidly destroyed?

Even if we grant Darwinists their convoluted explanations for this kind of thing — the “kind gay uncle” hypothesis and whatnot — it doesn’t address the central question:

Isn’t the very idea of evolutionary adaptation itself an evolutionary adaptation?

We evolve traits that help us survive.  Science itself is obviously the #1 item in Humanity’s survival toolkit.  Therefore, science itself is an evolutionary adaptation, and the whole thing is a question-beg.  (If you’re tempted to write this off as the rambling of a lone Internet weirdo, it’s not my argument — it’s Ernst Mach’s.  Maybe I don’t understand Teh Science, but Ernst Mach sure the hell did).  Because if that’s true for science, then it’s most certainly true for every other field of human intellectual endeavor, including moral philosophy.  (Again, not my argument; it’s Arthur Balfour’s).

So it seems were left with two options, moral philosophy-wise.  One is pure, shit-flinging nihilism, Nietzsche’s Will to Power writ large: Might makes right (Balfour may have gotten this from Nietzsche, who wrote a big bombastic book about it).  The other is that humans are simply different — we solve Darwinism’s many paradoxes when it comes to human behavior by simply writing humans out of the equation.  Humans are an act of special creation, a union of body and soul.  Our bodies are subject to the same evolutionary forces as everything else, but our souls are eternal… and eternally apart.

I hold the second view, obviously, but as I said over at Z Man’s, that’s an awful tough sell in a secular age like ours.  But since we’ve brought the Manly Mustache Man into it, let’s end with him.  The subtitle to Beyond Good and Evil is “Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future.”  Nietzsche admitted he didn’t know what comes next; that he couldn’t know, in fact, being a man of his time like everyone is.  Just because I can’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.  I’m a Historian; I always look backward.  Maybe the Z Man is, like the Manly Mustache Man, just a prophet.

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Someone else also suggested a “FAQ” page.  Never let it be said that we don’t give the people what they want.  So if we were to do a “Frequently Asked Questions,” what kind of stuff would y’all want on it?

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How Did the Romans Do It?

Our Thing likes to compare late-stage America to the collapsing Roman Empire.  It’s all there — the overproduction of decadent, parasitic elites; a huge, costly, but laughably ineffective military; the proliferation of weird cults and suicidal ideologies.  Our Thing also agrees that the old way of doing things has comprehensively failed, and that Western Civ — should we decide to give stuff like “indoor plumbing” and “living past 35” another go somewhere down the line — will need to be rebuilt from the ground up.

Which suggests we should take a look at the early Roman Empire.

Let’s be wildly optimistic and assume we can get through the collapse without widespread ethnic cleansing.  Thanks to a half-century’s frantic effort by Our Betters, the Liberals, no matter how many polities the ex-USA splits into, none of them will be ethnically homogeneous.  Which means that every state will have a significant minority population it will need to manage at worst, integrate at best.

The Romans were in the same boat in the early imperial days.  The Greeks, the socii, even the North Africans were Roman enough not to require much special handling.*  The Gauls, though…

We know the surface-level details.  Proconsuls or client kings, each with a legion or two to play around with, “administered” each region.  But: What, exactly, did they do?  Aside from obvious stuff like “helping out army recruiters” and “protecting tax farmers,” what, other than policing up potential malcontents, occupied their days?  How did they see themselves in the grand scheme of Roman government?  Did they consider themselves part of the grand scheme, and was there a grand scheme in the first place?  What about the local elites that served under them (or, perhaps, controlled them)?  How Roman were they?  How Roman did they want to be?

We’ve actually got a few documents on how it worked that are available to everyone.  Even at this late date, most everyone knows who Pontius Pilate was.  That seems to be close to the worst-case scenario — the best the governor can do is keep a lid on an intractably hostile population.  Leaving teleology aside, it’s hard to see how he could’ve done other than he did, Jesus-wise.  Jesus had broken no Roman law, which were the only laws Pilate could (theoretically) enforce.  So he turned Jesus over to the local religious elite, but — crucially — facilitated their decision.  The Sanhedrin passed the sentence, but local auxiliaries (there were no legions in Judea in Christ’s time) actually did the killing.

How did the best-case scenario work?  Spain, say, was Romanized pretty early — the Emperor Hadrian (r. 117-138) was half-Spanish by blood, but obviously all the way Roman by culture.  How Roman were the Romans in Spain?  Were all of them Roman, or just the elite?  After Caesar’s time, no up-and-comers got posted to Spain — it was fat, but secure, with no plausible threats within 1000 miles.  The perfect lab to perfect “Romanization.”

So how did they do it?  I have no idea.  I’m not a field specialist.  My Latin begins with “Gallia divisa est in partes tres” and ends with “illigitimi non carborundum,” with a brief stopover at the Special Forces motto “de oppresso liber” (“free oppressed books!”).  I doubt the field specialists themselves know too much, as this is one of those “mentalities” issues that all historians hate — “how they thought in the past” is the thing we’d most like to know, and it’s the least accessible.  Maybe the best we can do is to determine when a province became “institutionally” Roman — that is, functioned economically and governmentally the way Italy did.

Perhaps we’ll never know.  But it’s a place to start thinking these issues through.


*Yes, I know, the Social War.  Big picture, people.
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Blame the Eggheads, Part III

There’s another reason our “intellectuals” are the way they are, of course: They chose it.

Now we’re getting to the useful part.

Because its goals were impossible, The Revolution didn’t go as planned.  For every two self-deluded fools who thought the Soviet Union was a new civilization, there were five who knew exactly what the Communists were about.  Bomb-throwing anarchists had terrorized European cities for years before 1917, and Red atrocities during the Civil War were no secret.  It was obvious to anyone who cared to look, then, that horrors like the White Sea Canal were features, not bugs, of Communism.

If you’ve read your Festinger, you know what happened next.  The True Believers searched frantically for any “explanation” that wouldn’t invalidate their precious Marxism, and Antonio Gramsci gave it to them.  Though he didn’t coin the term “false consciousness” (Georgy Lukacs did), Gramsci weaponized it.  The reason the Bolsheviks are forced to do all that awful stuff — which we don’t admit they actually did! — is that The People lack the proper revolutionary consciousness.  They still believe in stuff like “God,” “free speech,” “not getting starved to death while the Party fatcats drive around in limos,” etc.

And where do they get this “false consciousness,” comrades?  Why, it’s the same place the Western proles get theirs, which is also why the Western proles haven’t joined The Revolution (yet!), in fulfillment of the scriptures.  Gramsci called the false consciousness installation process “hegemony.”  There are a zillion unread academic tomes covering all the nuances, but the basic idea is simple enough:  The ruling class controls the institutions; the institutions transmit culture; therefore, the culture takes ruling class values for granted.*

The solution, therefore, is as simple as the diagnosis: Capture the institutions, change the culture.

I trust y’all see where this is going.  The best conspiracy theories are the ones that are actually true, and this one is.  You want a grand conspiracy to destroy Western Civ?  Here it is, laid out as openly as Marxist prose can express it, in excruciating detail.  If anything, I’m being unfair to Antonio Gramsci.  He put it all together in true kommissar style, but these ideas were everywhere on the Left in the early 20th century.  In America, for instance, Progressives like John Dewey had been maneuvering to get control of elementary schools since the late 19th century.  Progressives just looooove putting their hands on children.  Have you noticed?

Every single insane, culture-destroying, gulag-enabling idea the Left has had in the last 200 years, starting with Karl Marx’s sub-Hegelian flatulence itself, can be traced directly back to some fucking egghead.  I’ll repeat that: DIRECTLY.  You can find their works, and quote them, because this stuff is in every syllabus of every Humanities class of every college in the Western world.  The prose is opaque as only PoMo prose can be, but the main ideas are easy enough to decipher….

…I wrote “ideas,” but there’s really only one “idea.”  Since The Revolution obviously ain’t gonna happen — it seems even Leftists can acknowledge one tiny aspect of reality, if you give ’em twelve decades and 100 million bodies — the Left’s entire program, top to bottom, stem to stern, is shit-flinging nihilism.  Hey hey, ho ho, Western Civ has got to go — not because it’s Western, but because it’s Civilization.

That’s the enemy, gentlemen.  If I were building some kind of movement-energizing mythology for Our Thing — and of course I am not; this is all hypothetical — the first thing I’d do is demonize the professors.  Consider that you’ve got a group

and you’ve got a crew that’s frankly begging for it.  They’d love being the devils in your pantheon, because it’d give their sad, squalid little lives some meaning.

Best of all, anyone can contribute to the Great Anti-Egghead Crusade.  If you’re a college student — hell, if you’re a high school student — you can find umpteen examples of anti-civilizational preaching in every single one of your textbooks.  Just copy them down and circulate them.  (If you want to be a briefly notorious shitlord, you can ambush them with it.  Since you know Professor So-and-So wrote something horrible about killing off class enemies, you can stroll into her office hours, cell phone camera at the ready, and ask her about it.  “Do you really believe, and I quote, ___”?).

If you’re long past your own college years — or you’re one of the smart ones who never went in the first place — pull your support.  Most college sports programs don’t make money, but they’re invaluable for marketing.  A 10% dip in viewership for the 2020 March Madness will bankrupt a bunch of schools by 2025.

Even if you’re one of the rare sensible ones who doesn’t watch sports, colleges are public institutions.  They’re funded by taxes, which are passed by politicians.  The education committee of  your state legislature isn’t one of the glamour posts.  They stick the dimbulb no-hopers there.  Someone who’s a dimbulb by politician standards is a mouth-breather indeed; they’re exquisitely susceptible to pressure.  Write them letters.  LOTS of letters.  Quote extensively from professors’ published works.

Most of all, just spread the word.  Get on the listservs with the quotes our student friends have put together.  Talk to your friends, the ones with kids or grandkids in the higher ed pipeline.  Are you really going to go a second mortgage in hock for this?

If you want to get really nasty, Alinsky that shit.  Find a target, freeze it, polarize it, personalize it.  Being half-educated halfwits, our professors don’t know who Admiral John Byng was, but they can certainly be made to grasp the concept of pour encourager les autres.  Again: These people publish these statements.  Under their own names.  What academic, I ask you, is going to complain when her never-read tome suddenly gets cited all over the place?  That’s how you get tenure in the first place!

If you want to get really, really nasty, of course, you should get out there with the Bernouts and Trustafarians and agitate for the cancellation of student loan debt.  Sure, sure, it’ll crash the economy so hard that the Great Depression will feel like a happy ending at an Oriental massage parlor, but that’s going to happen anyway.  At least the blue-haired nose-ringers will starve first.

And that’s just for starters!  Feel free to add your own.  Hypothetically, of course — this is all hypothetical.




*Thus setting up one of those flabby tautologies that give Leftists chubbies: The ruling class rules because it’s the ruling class.  Marxism, in all its flavors, is just the bloodiest iteration of The Worst Argument in the World.
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Blame the Eggheads, Part II

The question then becomes, how did our “intellectuals” get to be the way they are?

Believe it or not, “college” was a conservative institution well within living memory.  We were suspicious of our intellectuals long before the 1960s, of course — to a frontier people, incomprehensible enthusiasms probably have ulterior motives — but we were not in any meaningful sense “anti-intellectual.”

Before the 1960s, even the most fiercely intellectual intellectuals reached wide audiences.  The James brothers, for instance (William and Henry), were as Boston brahmin as it got, but though their works weren’t page-turners most literate Americans at least knew their names and the outlines of their thought.  Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. wrote popular light verse; though we slog through them now, heavyweight writers like Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne were bestsellers in their day.  We even claimed native sons T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound when they got famous / notorious enough (though they didn’t return the favor), and no one then or now would call them popular writers.

So what happened?  How did our “intelligentsia” go, in the space of maybe two generations, from “aloof but respected” to “hated and mocked”?  How did they go from conservatives — meaning, if nothing else, “conservators of high culture” — to purple-haired, nose-ringed genderfluids with custom pronouns?

There are two answers, a simple and a complex one.  Both are right as far as they go.  The first is simple arithmetic.  The Cold War required more techies than the Ivy League could provide.  What we should’ve done, of course, was create a separate “defense tech” higher ed system, but that’s not the American Way.  Instead, we noticed that there were all these state colleges around, wasting their math and science faculty on Rocks for Jocks-type classes for the local sons of privilege.  Why not give them gazillions in grant money to buy the kind of lab equipment you can design missiles with?

The problem, though, was that universities — which, again, were profoundly conservative institutions back then — didn’t see “churning out missile designers” as their core function.  They really believed all that “shaping young men’s characters” stuff they put in the college motto.  So they made all the aspiring missile designers take stuff like English and History….

I think you see where this is going.  Since only “original” “research” gets published (it’s the hoariest old college tradition of them all), and since everything that needed to be said about high culture had been said centuries ago, the only way to crank out the huge numbers of new English, History, etc. PhDs that the vastly expanded student bodies required was to vastly expand the meanings of “original” and “research.”  Thus the road to tenure takes only Left turns, and thus the Mark van Dorens and Van Wyck Brookses of the academic world — “liberals” by the standards of their day — became crusty old dinosaurs within their lifetimes.  Mark van Doren might deserve a few years in Purgatory for encouraging Allen Ginsburg’s pretensions, but nobody deserves the hell of watching his lifetime’s work wiped out by creepy old Nazi-collaborating Frogs who insist there’s no such thing as “literature.”

The second reason our “intellectuals” are the way they are stems from the first.  I’m an educated man by today’s standards, but as I’ve said here many times, the institutions that granted me advanced degrees at the turn of the 21st century wouldn’t even have admitted me as an undergrad in the middle of the 20th.  Compared to mine, the erudition of the Baby Boom generation of professors is deep, profound… and those are the half-trained scabs crashed through to fill English 101 slots back in the early 1960s.  Living “the life of the mind” is awful damn hard when your mind doesn’t have much furniture…

Which is the profound, sick genius of “radical” politics.  A guy who graduated with a BA from Podunk State in 1960 knows at least Latin, probably Greek, and likely can still diagram a sentence and factor a quadratic.  I have a Master’s and a PhD, from places with much heftier reps than Podunk State, and I can’t do any of that.  So which is easier: Admitting that I suck, and that putting me in front of a college classroom is like putting a kid straight from tee ball in the batter’s box against Max Scherzer… or claiming that all that stuff — the Greek and Latin and whatnot — is just a patriarchal imposition of the Pale Penis People?

I’ve got a few decades’ worth of pay stubs from various colleges, so you know which one I picked.  At least I had the good grace to feel a pang of conscience while cashing the check, though.  Most of my colleagues, though, really believed that stuff….

Part III soon.

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Blame the Eggheads

No revolutionary movement gets off the ground without an organizing myth.  It needs to offer a comprehensive vision of the world.  Crucially, it needs to make its adherents feel special just for believing it.  It’s a tall order.  If I were trying to do it — and I’m not; this is all strictly hypothetical — I’d start with The Enemy.  After all, as Eric Hoffer taught, you can get a mass movement going without a god, but never without a devil.

My suggestion for a modern-day devil: The eggheads.

Europeans call Americans “anti-intellectual,” and as much as it pains me to admit it, those cheese-eating surrender monkeys have a point.  Americans love intelligence — witness the fact that we invented everything that makes modern life worth living.  About the intelligent we’re ambivalent — we appreciate what they do (that “make the stuff that makes life worth living” thing), but insist that they stay in their lanes.  Bill Gates, for instance, writes a mean line of code, but despite spending gazillions on it nobody takes him seriously as a lifestyle guru — just give us the free computers and fuck off, four-eyes.  We despise intellectuals, though, and that takes some unpacking.

Part of it is the old saw about American vs. European social life.  In Britain, it’s said, the worst sin is to be boring.  Hence the long parade of truly great English eccentrics.  Oscar Wilde, for instance.  Or, if you prefer a modern example, that Milo guy — though calling him a cut-rate Oscar Wilde is a gross insult to the bargain bin, it’s the same basic idea.  People will listen to what he says because he’s entertaining (for certain values of “entertainment”).

In America, on the other hand, the worst sin is insincerity.  Oscar Wilde did a very successful tour of the USA just as he was rising to fame, and though he packed the house every night, you could fit the number of young Americans who aped his style into a port-a-potty.  Not because young Americans in big cities weren’t bored, rich, and decadent — this was, after all, the Gilded Age — but because Wilde’s act was so obviously an act.  Wilde may have been making a serious point about art — then again, he may have been just a screaming queen — but every single thing he did was contrived.  We had to wait until the 1960s to get a homegrown version of Oscar Wilde — Andy Warhol — and even then his actual influence was limited to a few rich New York degenerates.

The explanation for this contrast is simple: Britain had been civilized since Roman times.  The British horsey set not only knew each other from the cradle, but had been intermarried for generations, in lots of cases all the way back to Hastings.  When you’re at least kissing cousins with every single individual who matters in an empire that covers half the world’s landmass, novelty, any novelty, is the only thing.

The USA, on the other hand, was a rough frontier society.  You could get yourself killed with frightening ease in America, even in 1882 (the word “dude” was originally coined to describe this exact situation, of a soft-handed, muddle-headed city boy wandering into Indian Country).  In a frontier society, you’d better be exactly what you say you are at all times — you might not live long enough for a second chance at a first impression.

That leaves the intellectual — no quotation marks — in a tough spot.  I’m pretty sure everyone has an interest that baffles everyone else in their lives.  Comic book fans, I imagine, spend more time answering the question “How could a grown-up possibly still be into comic books?” than they do actually collecting the books.  The kind of person who asks that question, of course, doesn’t really want to know the answer.  He just doesn’t get it, full stop, and never will.  Now: Imagine that situation, but with a truly recondite interest — Etruscan vases or the Metaphysical Poets or something.  Like the comic book fan, it can’t but come off as contrived — since no adult could possibly still find value in a pastime for ten-year-olds (a bunch of ancient junk, whatever), it must be a pose.

Europeans, as we’ve noted, are completely fine with poseurs (feel free to change “completely fine with” to “all total,” depending on your level of anti-Continental animus).  See “civilized since Roman times,” above.  This is why they’re so good at keeping “weapons-grade philosophy” contained — up to 99.5% of the dorks in European “revolutionary” parties are just poseurs, and Europeans find poseurs amusing.

To Americans, poseurs are dangerous.  The guy who says he’s a badass gunfighter better actually be a badass gunfighter, because the Comanche war party is always just over the horizon and we have to have each other’s backs instantly, completely, and competently.  So when we hear some noodle-necked, pencil-armed nerd talking about liquidating entire classes of people, it fries our circuits.  How can he possibly say these things?  This…organism… doesn’t even know which pronouns to use, and xzhey cries whenever the cafeteria’s out of free-trade, shade-grown, sustainably-sourced tofu.  We can’t possibly take it seriously….

…. and yet, we’re compelled to.  America was a rough frontier society for so long that it’s in our DNA — a man making a threat is, in fact, making a threat.  And so our “intellectuals” — note the quotation marks this time — are ruthlessly evaluated on the only metric that makes sense to a frontier people: Can he actually do what he says he’s going to do?  Obviously, xzhey can’t — hence the utter contempt.

Part II soon.


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The Greatest Hits

I’ve been asked about this twice now: What are Rotten Chestnuts’ “greatest hits”?

I have no idea.  Of the posts I’ve written, the ones I personally like the best seem to get no response.  Stuff I consider crap, on the other hand, gets lots of response.  But not consistently — since I believe that in blogging, as in democracy, the people deserve to get what they want good and long and hard, I’d happily produce nothing but crap if I knew what specific kind of crap y’all want.  But I can’t figure it out.

And anyway, response rate is probably a very poor metric.  We had an idiot troll collective infesting the place back in the early days, so some posts have dozens and dozens and dozens of comments…. they’re good posts, mind you, but probably not “triple-digit comments” good.

Finally, the posts that stick in my mind as having sparked discussion are often way outside my wheelhouse.  This one, for instance, is about Star Wars.  Despite being on the Internet, I really don’t care about Star WarsStar Trek, anime, manga, comic books, Dungeons and Dragons, or video games.  I haven’t watched network tv in years, and haven’t seen a movie in a theater for at least that long.  That piece represents the sum total of my engagement with nerd culture, and it’s mostly about Socialist Realism.

So I’ll open the floor.  Do y’all have any suggestions for “greatest hits”?  That is, if you wanted to convince someone to give Rotten Chestnuts a try — and God alone knows why you would, but if — which posts would you pick, and why?

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