Understanding the Modern World (II)

In this post I want to give an overall account of two previous ones, trying to make sense of our strange and fast-changing times. While I write it, I’m reading Ryszard Legutko’s The Demon in Democracy, a book that helps clarify the critical issues and one I can’t recommend highly enough.

Choosing among the several meanings of the word and following those previous posts, I understand liberalism as the political, economic, and social system of modernity, the historical era that started with the American and French revolutions. Liberalism is, in classical political terms, the regime * of developed Western societies.

More specifically, liberalism is a historicist utopia with a slight kink: it evolves over time. It is historicist because it embodies the idea of progress in a linear historical development, and utopian because it will eventually actualize human happiness in this world, much as a secular religion. The Novus Ordo Seclorum brought about by the Enlightenment has been immensely successful, quite beyond anything its founders could imagine. They, however, thought it would be there for the ages, not changing essentially over time. But, as I have written before, it has evolved and this fact alone changes everything we think we know about modernity.

Since it is the only surviving system that incarnates the idea of progress, liberalism must defeat any opponent who is seen as retrograde or obsolete; as a hegemonic regime it can’t accept any competitors, they all must be destroyed. And as it changes, it is no longer the “classic liberalism” of the origins —the one that conservatives talk and dream about. Its current dominant form, postmodernism, is the point of a new and dangerous spear that magically transforms any new desire into a “right” and ruthlessly crushes all traditional beliefs. Liberalism is about power, power to change, power to destroy everything in its wake, and power to plow ahead to fulfill the utopia: to reach the end of the arc of history, a global society with a global government. From this point of view, globalization is a normal tendency of the economic form of late liberalism, as the new multicultural, medieval society of seigneurs and serfs takes shape right in front of us in California, for example.

Contrary to what conventional wisdom tells us, liberalism, the regime of modernity, is widely accepted by modern societies. One important key to understand this is how rapidly the majority in America and Europe embraces each new imposition, each new right and entitlement, no matter how absurd or worthless. And —very important— the accepting includes conservatives and the right, most of whom are as liberal as their opponents, only pharisaic. The only big difference is the activism on the left, because they consider themselves a “vanguard” as in the other utopia.

As Legutko (who is a member of the European Parliament) writes:

“What we have been observing over the last decades is an emergence of a kind of liberal-democratic general will. Whether the meaning of the term itself is identical with that used by Rousseau is of negligible significance. The fact is that we have been more and more exposed to an overwhelming liberal-democratic omnipresence, which seems independent of the will of individuals, to which they humbly submit, and which they perceive as compatible with their innermost feelings. This will permeates public and private lives, emanates from the media, advertising, films, theatre and visual arts, expresses itself through common wisdom and persistently brazen stereotypes, through educational curricula from kindergarten to universities, and through works of art. This liberal-democratic general will does not recognize geographical or political borders. And although it does not have a control center or an executive body, it seems to move forward relentlessly and to conquer new territories as if under a single well-structured and well-organized command … The liberal-democratic general will reaches the area that Rousseau never dreamt of—language, gestures, and thoughts.” (Op. cit., p. 65)

In this cosmic fight, who are liberalism’s opponents or rather, who are the hegemon’s victims?

First, let me say what the fight isn’t about: it is not “right vs left,” it is not “populism vs democracy,” it is not “nationalism vs globalism,” it is not “mainstream vs far-right,” and it’s not “protectionism” or “isolationism” vs free trade. Yes, there is some basic truth to all of those oppositions, but highlighting any one of them only helps veil the important truth:

The fight is about wiping out and trying to avoid being wiped out.

As examples of conventional wisdom, Americans who voted for Trump in 2016 have been called “poor economic losers,” although the median income of Trump voters was $72,000, compared to the national median of $52,000. They have also been presented as “angry old men,” although 41% of white millennials turned out for Trump. In Europe, the same liberal analysts tell us, they are “old pensioners with vague memories of Hitler,” but the German AfD Party appeals to people aged 25-50 who never knew Nazism, and Marine Le Pen won more people aged 18-34 than any other candidate in the first round of the French elections.

The apparent central fight between left and right can be seen in America due to its particular two-party political system and the fact that the society is more or less evenly divided. Why? Because only in America among developed societies, the remains of previous eras are still strong: religion, traditions, normal families, virtue ethics, patriotism, small business, etc., something we know since Tocqueville. The classes that embody those characteristics are the middle class and the working class, a citizenry that is majority white. That is the real enemy liberalism must wipe out.

The truth can be seen more clearly in Europe, where practically all mainstream parties and groups are openly liberal, and religion and traditions don’t count as heavily as in America, and where liberalism doesn’t hide totalitarian tendencies such as forcing Marine Le Pen to undergo psychiatric tests.

Beginning in the coming November elections we’ll see just how strong those remains are. Under President Trump’s leadership they are a light of hope, especially if they can forge alliances with European nationalists. Long-term, besides understanding the issue clearly and acting upon it, the key to their eventual survival, security, and even triumph is bringing children to the world. This could also be a Pyrrhic victory for either side, as demographic collapse seems to be a key characteristic of late liberalism.

Vladimir Dorta, 10/11/2018

____________

Ryszard Legutko, The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies, Encounter Books, NY-London, 2016.

* Regime: “the politieia, the order, the form, which gives society its character, its specific manner of life. Regime is the form of life as living together, the manner of living in a society and in society, since this manner depends decisively on the predominance of human beings of a certain type, on the manifest domination of society by human beings of a certain type. Regime means that whole, which we today are in the habit of viewing primarily in a fragmentized form: regime means simultaneously the form of life of a society, its style of life, its moral taste, the form of society, the form of state, the form of government, the spirit of laws.”
Leo Strauss, What Is Political Philosophy?, The University of Chicago Press, 1959, p. 34.

When Everything Seems To Be Upside Down

The fight to the death between globalism and nationalism unfolding right before our eyes could well be the definitive fight between good and evil. Because the prize couldn’t be any bigger: controlling the United States of America and influencing the future of the world.

Since I’m a pessimist, at the beginning —even if I was one of the first believers— I didn’t give the American nationalist movement led by President Trump any chance, and I still don’t give it any chance in Europe. On the other hand, if there is a place for a movement like this to triumph and keep the flame alive it’s America, always ready to show her exceptionalism. America is the only country that can confront globalism and the collectivist push for global government. And a person like Donald Trump can only be born and succeed —to the extreme of being elected President against all odds and when he didn’t have to try— in America.

But the fight is still unequal.

A coup d’état was in place, directed by the Obama White House —as recognized by James Clapper, as written in the Strzok-Page emails, and as shown by the Carter Page warrant without a court order— with the immediate goal to depose a legally elected president, and whose final goal was to secure permanent hegemony for the Democrat Party in order to build socialism in America. The coup is still going on. The body of the coup is the “resistance” of the Democrat Party; the media and the cultural industry are its accomplices, and the Republican establishment tacitly sides with them by washing its dirty hands, keeping mostly silent at the onslaught. And one more: the Special Counsel investigation is the always important “legal” face of the coup. This is an unprecedented moment in the history of America: The bad guys assume their new personas and their new places in the revolution, getting ready to take the Bastille. On the opposite side, President Trump is almost alone, fighting for us. Unless he has an ace up his sleeve, like a real-world James Bond and the perfect leader for his time, this will end badly.

But our guy is such a fighter that the “resistance” is desperate and reckless, and the reasons why are clear: no president in history has done as much for his country and his fellow citizens as Donald Trump has in as short a time. This is especially dangerous for Democrats, the revolutionary left, socialism, Antifa, the globalists. If Donald Trump wins, they are all kaput.

Why do the rest of the people, the reasonable citizens, supposedly the majority, appear to be indifferent and above the fray? Because modern, developed liberal societies are ill-prepared to counter something like this. The revolutionary left never rests, it is always on a war footing, and this is something the liberal right has never understood. The right is principled, sanctimonious, well-meant, and cowardly. That is easy to see both from a Marxist perspective (“the bourgeoisie will sell us the rope with which we’ll hang them”) and from Lockean principles (“peaceable acquisition”). Liberalism is about fair play, free elections, and faithful opposition. And that is also why the left’s “fascism everywhere” talking point is absurd. One side doesn’t see or tends to ignore the fight because it takes the original Enlightenment seriously; the other side doesn’t rest and propels the revolution forward because they are heirs of the thinkers who radicalized the Enlightenment. Only the left is the enemy of the established liberal order.

What happens in Europe and America today is a sharpening of the crisis of liberalism that has developed as the destruction of Western civilization, the greatest ever, the one that began on the plains of ancient Greece, that radially created a new world starting from a tiny center in Rome; that later dominated the world out of a small island, Britain, and that reached its zenith in America. The destruction flows from the inside: the hippies, the new left, academia, Hollywood, the media, postmodernism, radicalized political parties, and the masters of the global economy. As I have written before, this is the result of the evolution of liberalism itself.

I like American Westerns, including the spaghetti ones, but a happy ending is not always a given because some problems don’t have practical solutions, and inventing theoretical solutions only amounts to an intellectual exercise. I can imagine a nationalist alliance of America, the UK, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary and Italy, but let’s wait and see what happens.

Vladimir Dorta
09/18/2018

Idealizing Murderers as Saviors

Third-Worldism is the daydream of Jeremy Corbyn and —as I have written before, of Barack Obama. Always looking for the next anti-Western cause, from The Wretched of the Earth and the Khmer Rouge to Castro and Chávez, to the Ayatollahs and the latest —migrants invading Europe— the world left’s longing for utopia is worth many corpses and much suffering. Please read Ben Sixsmith’s superb essay Anti-Imperialism and Apologetics for Murder. Quillette is always worth visiting.

Nineteen Eighty-Four is Here

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face –forever.
George Orwell, 1984

The future envisioned by our new Big Brothers is a bit different, more progressive and less brutal, if not less controlled. Of course, with AI-enhanced lords and normal paupers, it would be a big progress over the crude Oceania of 1984.

The sudden and unexpected rebirth of nationalism, and its tentative and fragile initial successes in the USA and Central, Eastern and Southern Europe, have triggered panic in the globalist and collectivist centers of power in the West, together with the expected backlash. The whole thing is yet another sign of the decay of late liberalism and it tells us they will defend their power at any cost, which means more suffering for the usual suspects: the middle and working classes that conform the native Western populations. Antifa, the paramilitary arm of the Democrat Party in America, together with its budding alter ego in Europe, follow a left-wing revolutionary tradition that vies for violent control of the streets although, unlike the 1930s, this time self-justified by invented “Fascist” and “white supremacist” threats. Talk about tragedy and farce in history.

In reality, the violent charade has blended itself with the diminished, desperate, but still ongoing coup d’état against President Trump by Obama and his socialist government minions, a revolutionary coup cloaked and neutered as the “Deep State.”

The Big Tech companies Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple, as well as their subsidiaries, openly censor and “shadow ban” any person and group that oppose the Democrat Party or their common goal of a dystopian future. The mainstream media, unmasked as yet another arm of the Democrat Party, support the initial moves and ask for more. Google not only accepts China’s censorship, but gradually translates the model to the USA as if that is the normal thing to do. “Hate speech”, a vague but useful accusation that reminds us of the thought crimes and the thought police in Orwell’s novel, is the new soft bludgeon wielded to silence dissenters.

To make the mixture combustible, the government is afraid of calling Antifa the terrorists they are and acting on it, and the establishment republicans are the same cowards we always knew they were, hiding behind their “conservative” and “free-market” ideology and ready to accept “the algorithm did it” excuse of their globalist seigneurs. Just as the globalist rampage was the main cause of the nationalist renaissance, this time their inaction will be the cause of even more violence from the left. As I have said before, this is a pre-revolutionary situation in Marxist lingo.

Meanwhile, the division between Blue and Red extends and deepens. Either anarchy or a civil war would be the logical end of the whole enterprise, unless somebody acts to stop it. God save us.

Vladimir Dorta, 08/07/2018

Greener Pastures

New Yorkers, Angelenos and Chicagoans leave their bankrupt liberal states and move to Florida, Arizona and Texas. They are all fleeing the ever-growing power and inefficiency of government, the crime, the sloth, the homelessness, and the taxes and regulations piling up on them. But when they get to their new, resplendent destinations, they keep voting for the same types of politicians and for the same issues they loved in their old homesteads. It’s then not surprising that, after a couple of decades, the new places look very much like the old ones. However, those same voters would never even think they are the ones responsible for the destruction of both places.

Vladimir Dorta, 08/07/2018

Human Stupidity

We asked for workers. We got people instead.
Max Frisch

Socialism

Life is hard and it’s harder if one acts stupidly, a rule of practical wisdom one learns when growing old but one that some people never do. It points to something stronger working under the surface: human nature. Many wrong social, economic, and political decisions have been made under the enlightened belief that human nature doesn’t exist or that we have overcome it. From Rousseau’s belief in infinite human malleability, to Locke’s rejection of innate ideas, to Marx and humans being able to manipulate history. They all believed we are blank slates, virgin wax tablets on which those in power can inscribe anything they want. Humans as laboratory animals, or worse, because even the most evident failures don’t force the social engineers to accept their failure, as there is a chance next time they’ll get it right. When they tried socialism in Venezuela and it failed, it wasn’t real socialism, so they are going to try it again in Spain and maybe for the first time here in the USA:

Caracas is now the world’s most violent city. The people are starving and without medicine as inflation goes through the proverbial roof. The rich flee to Miami and the poor to Colombia. Venezuela is the shell of itself, a disaster area, currently close to the saddest story on Earth, given where it started. Meanwhile, with exquisite timing, our Democratic Party has found the solution to its woes —socialism! Er, excuse me, democratic socialism. We’re going to do it differently.

As one of my favorite texts ever reads:

There is no disillusionment for socialists. After every failed experiment, they recommence their work: the solution hasn’t been found yet, but it will be. The idea that no solution exists never occurs to them, and in this lies their strength. Ernest Renan, Histoire du Peuple d’Israel, Tome Troisième, Livre VI, Chapitre X. (circa 1890).

These self-appointed social engineers don’t know a thing about human nature and thus can’t get the success of practices that have demonstrated their utility for millennia. All they see is appearance, since capitalism was created by man it can be undone by man. But socialism is likely to fail time and time again because of this: Adam Ferguson, the founder of sociology, contemporary and friend of Adam Smith and David Hume and leading thinker of the Scottish Enlightenment, helped in the understanding of capitalism and markets as products of human action, but not of human design. He saw this as a third category of nature, besides the classical Greek ones of “natural” and “artificial.” It also includes language, society, family, social traditions, science, ecosystems, common law, money, government, democracy, even cities. Ferguson is behind the following comment by Greg Ransom about Friedrich Hayek:

“[These are] some of the outcomes of the accumulated experience of human beings pitting their wits against nature and social circumstance. They represent a distillation of what human experience has found works to satisfy our various needs. Because they arise from a multitude of circumstances and influences too diverse and too obscure to be known in their totality, they offer a rational guide to human action that individual human reason seeks to supplant at its peril. At its core, this evolutionist account of human society’s growth challenged the notion that a human will must be behind the remarkable social order that lets us achieve our goals and that allows other people to behave toward us in usefully predictable ways. If this authoritarian vision of the origins of social order were correct, then the order we know would simply be the choice of some human authority. If but a choice, it could be redesigned to achieve an outcome more pleasing for one reason or another. In contrast, Hayek offered a vision of social order that was not designed, but rather ‘spontaneous.’ In a spontaneous order, like the abstract order that was its predecessor in Hayek’s thought, people pursue their own goals within the framework of rules that facilitate cooperation with others. Spontaneous order adds a further dimension: that the rules themselves, because of their evolutionary pedigree, allow the emergence of a far richer and more complex level of cooperation than rules invented by clever people. Just as the attempts to ‘invent’ a universal language, such as Esperanto, always seem a pale and inadequate imitation of the complexities and resources of a language refined and enriched by millennia of human experience. So, too, invented moral codes and planned economies reduce the complexity of human relations to what the designing mind can comprehend.”

Migration

The same stupidity reigns here. Even if the Enlightenment ideal of universal education failed, politicians and social engineers still think that all humans are equal and interchangeable. They are clearly not. They bring their problems with them and, under welfare-state conditions, most of them become burdens on society. As Milton Friedman said, a modern, developed country with a welfare state cannot have open borders because “the supply of immigrants will become infinite.” This is so self-evident that we see it happening in Sweden and Germany and not happening in Hungary and Czechia: as Niall Ferguson writes in a devastating essay about what he calls the European meltdown pot, “it’s hard to be Denmark with a multicultural society.” This is a threat to Europe as grave as those posed by the Arabs in 732 and the Ottomans in 1683:

The threat Europe is facing if it refuses to close and control the borders is examined by Stephen Smith, an expert on Africa and admired by French President Emmanuel Macron, in his new book, The Rush to Europe: Young Africa on the Way to the Old Continent. Today, he notes, 510 million Europeans live in the European Union with 1.3 billion Africans facing them. “In thirty-five years, 450 million Europeans will face some 2.5 billion Africans, five times as many”, Smith predicts. If the Africans follow the example of other parts of the developing world, such as the Mexicans in the US, “in thirty years”, according to Smith, “Europe will have between 150 and 200 million Afro-Europeans, compared with 9 million today”. Smith called this scenario “Eurafrique”.

A new study shows that non-Western immigrants will cost the Netherlands more than $100 billion throughout their lives, simply because they are economic migrants looking to benefit from European welfare states. And let’s open Germany’s borders, what could go wrong?:

Arab clans dominate Berlin: Twenty families rule large parts of Germany’s capital; each family clan has up to 500 family members. Twelve clans are causing great problems for the police because they repeatedly commit organized crime. The clans, which consist of Arabs, Turks, and Africans, operate primarily in the west of the city. Some Arab clans live in Berlin’s Neukölln suburb and have divided certain streets among themselves. The problem is not limited to Berlin. The clans are also active in the Ruhr area, in Lower Saxony, and in Bremen.

And most illegal immigrants are a burden to American society:

The general consensus is that illegal aliens pay $12 billion a year in taxes. Every job an illegal alien takes is a job an American would have and for which an employer would have to offer fair compensation. Ergo, if Americans were in those jobs, the taxes they would pay would add much more to the tax coffers. If you include tax subsidies enjoyed by illegal immigrant workers and their employers, lost tax revenue is estimated to be $30 billion annually. Next, unless we also consider how much illegal aliens take out of the system in the form of government assistance, we aren’t talking real numbers. It is shocking how many benefits an illegal immigrant is entitled to receive, especially in California.

California is home to between 2.35 and 2.6 million illegal aliens, more than any other state in the nation. Illegal immigrants in California are entitled to in-state college tuition, scholarship assistance, emergency medical assistance, lab costs for indigent mothers who give birth in a hospital emergency room, outpatient dialysis, legal representation to fight deportation, drivers licenses, and law and other professional licenses. There is now a bill before the California legislature to extend full-scope Medicaid benefits to illegal alien adults.

As soon as an illegal alien has a baby on American soil, the new American citizen qualifies for a host of government services, most of which conveniently boomerang to benefit the entire family: WIC, free/subsidized lunch, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, food stamps, Medicaid, and Limited English Proficiency (LEP) education. It is estimated that 12.3 percent of California’s K–12 school children have an illegal immigrant parent.

The Center for Immigration Studies estimates that 62 percent of all illegal immigrant households use some kind of welfare, including households with one or more workers present. Eighty-seven percent of illegal immigrant households with children use some kind of welfare. The Federation for American Immigrant Reform estimates that Americans are spending $135 billion a year in welfare payments to illegal aliens.

If we consider what we’re spending in welfare services to support illegal immigrant households, the $12 billion they’re paying in taxes is nothing. After accounting for taxes illegal immigrants pay, we’re still supporting them to the tune of some $123 billion.

But we are told that America can’t pay $20 billion one-time for a border wall to stop this. Nor can America develop a system to check visa overstays.

Vladimir Dorta, 07/23/2018