Let’s say you can see the future. Not perfectly, in every detail, like Biff with his sports almanac. But the big stuff, like you’d just aced a rigorous history exam. What would you do with it?
To simplify things, let’s pick a significant historical date and work forward. Let’s say it’s January 1, 1914. You know what’s coming. What do you do?
Most of us would probably say something like “tell that dork Franz Ferdinand to hang a left at Albuquerque,” but on a moment’s further reflection, we know how futile that would be. Does anyone think a failed assassination attempt on the Archduke would’ve prevented World War I? All of the major European leaders wanted war. Hell, the vast majority of the European population wanted war, and the overwhelming reaction when it finally came was one of relief. Let’s get this over with!!
The fact that it started in 1914, instead of, say, 1905 or 1911 is epiphenomenal. Bad as it was in 1914, a World War I delayed into the 1920s would probably have been much, much worse. If it helps, think of America’s nullification crisis. The Civil War would’ve been far less devastating, and the peace — whatever it turned out to be — much more secure, had it been fought in 1833 when it should have been, and not put off until 1861.
Could World War I have been prevented? The question is a category error. One can imagine all kinds of scenarios in which a general European war didn’t break out — plague, asteroid strike, the Second Coming — but “prevented” implies human agency, and it’s doubtful even the wholesale replacement of the entire European ruling class would’ve “prevented” something like World War I from happening sooner than later. Marx was right, that bastard, as he was about so many things:
Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living. And just as they seem to be occupied with revolutionizing themselves and things, creating something that did not exist before, precisely in such epochs of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service, borrowing from them names, battle slogans, and costumes in order to present this new scene in world history in time-honored disguise and borrowed language.
Indeed, this is, perhaps, the primary emotional fuel for those people who feel — as we all do, from time to time — that there really are mysterious Forces of History moving us towards predetermined ends. Something out there seems to want what it wants, and though lots of people — perhaps the vast majority of people — would’ve said “no” if you’d asked them, on January 1, 1914, if they wanted a war, the very briefest glance at their world proves otherwise. War was in the air, and though of course they had no idea how horrible it would be when it came, I hope none of us here are so naive as to think that knowledge would’ve stopped anyone from going to the trenches….
What, then, would you actually DO if you fell into a time machine and found yourself alive, knowing everything you know now, on January 1, 1914?
If you find yourself in Belgium or northern France, move. If you’re in one of the soon-to-be combatant nations and of conscription age, move. Hoard gold maybe? Try to play the stock market from Switzerland? There’s just not much you can actually do, even with complete, perfect foreknowledge. What’s coming is coming, and unless you actually land in Flanders fields, as an individual you’re basically powerless.
That goes triple, of course, for people who don’t have perfect foreknowledge, as of course no one actually does, and hope springs eternal. Even if you know war is coming, maybe the armies will go there instead of here. Even if it’s likely they’ll come here, maybe the battle will happen a few towns over. Even if it’s coming to this town, they won’t come to my neighborhood. Even if they come to my neighborhood…
This is the situation in which we find ourselves today, kameraden. What’s going to come of the electoral mess? Nothing good, as we’ve discussed ad nauseam. The likely outcomes — the ones produced by humans, excluding meteor strikes and plagues and other acts of God — range from “bad” to “inconceivably horrible.” There really aren’t any Forces of History, my friends, but something out there wants what it wants, and what it wants, apparently, is rat utopia, the kinder gentler police state, Karen uber alles. Even the increasingly unlikely event of a total Trump victory in the courts only delays it a few years, tops. We all know which way the world is heading.
So… what do we, as individuals, DO?
Tend your gardens. Raise your children. Be loyal to your friends. Pray. Meditate. Read the great books, view the great artworks while that’s still permitted. Enjoy your time in the sunshine, because that’s all any of us ever really get in this world. Amor fati.
CLARIFICATION, for the record: As y’all know, I had high hopes that Trump would win this one outside the margin of fraud, and while I never for a second thought we could vote our way out of this, I was hoping for four more years of peace with my family. But even though I of all people should know better, I underestimated how shameless the Left is.
It doesn’t matter how the courts rule. If the Left is shameless enough to rig an election as it’s happening, on camera, while laughing about it, why on earth would they abide by anything the courts say? And that’s assuming the courts rule Trump’s way. Which they won’t, because as we all know — see “gay marriage,” the Obamacare “tax,” and every other damn thing — the Constitution says the Left gets whatever they want, because reasons. “Mr. Justice Marshall has made his ruling; now, let him enforce it.” So sayeth the Left.
The only way Trump is President of the United States come January is if he goes Full Pinochet right fucking now. Which he won’t. That’s not to say he’s not a fighter, or courageous, or an honorable man. He’s all three. But so were the millions of young men who went over the top into the machine guns. The war is a useless con, fought only for profit…. everyone knows this, but we go anyway, because play up and play the game for the Old School Tie, old chap.
We’ve been wondering what the John Brown Moment would be. This is it. I just wish it wasn’t Appomattox, too.
UPDATE: There are, of course, practical steps one can take going forward that don’t amount to quietism. The social contract has been broken; the consent of the governed has been withdrawn, forcibly, by the government. Henceforth I’ll do nothing I’m not compelled to do by an agent of the State. I will take every possible exemption to every possible statute. I will preemptively disqualify myself from any jury, for example, and if compelled to serve, I will rule in favor of the White party no matter what. I will vote in no election. I’ll join Colin fucking Kaepernick, and kneel for the goddamn “national anthem.” It’s like the Delta House guys said – a situation like this absolutely requires that a stupid, futile gesture be made on somebody’s part.Loading Likes...