Posts Tagged ‘america’
So what I’m going to talk about today is something I’m calling Silicon Valley’s ultimate exit. So as motivation here, it’s a bit topical: is the USA the Microsoft of nations? We can take this sort of thing and we can expand it: codebase is 230 years old, written in an obfuscated language; system was shut down for two weeks straight; systematic FUD on security issues; fairly ruthless treatment of key suppliers; generally favors its rich enterprise customers but we still have to buy it.
And if we think about Microsoft itself, there’s a great quote from Bill Gates in 1998: what displaced Microsoft, what did he fear, it wasn’t Oracle or anybody like that, what he feared were some guys in a garage, who happened to be ultimately Larry and Sergey back in 1998.
And the thing about what Larry and Sergey did is: there’s no way they could have reformed Microsoft from the inside. At that time, Microsoft already had 26,000 employees; joining its numbers as 26,000 and 26,001 and trying to push for 20% time or free lunches… they probably wouldn’t have gone too far. So what they had to do was start their own company: they had to exit. And with success in that alternative, then Microsoft would imitate them. And this is actually related to a fundamental concept in political science: the concept of voice versus exit. A company or a country is in decline, you can try voice, or you can try exit. Voice is basically changing the system from within, whereas exit is leaving to create a new system, a new startup, or to join a competitor sometimes. Loyalty can modulate this; sometimes that’s patriotism, which is voluntary, and sometimes it’s lock-in, which are involuntary barriers to exit.
And we can think about this in the context of various examples and start to get a feel for this. So voice in the context of open source would be a patch; exit would be a fork. Voice in the context of a customer would be a complaint form, whereas exit would be taking your business elsewhere. Voice in the context of a company, that’s a turnaround plan; exit is leaving to found a startup. And voice in the context of a country is voting, while exit is emigration. So if there are those two images on the left is the Norman Rockwell painting on voice; on the right is actually my dad in the center, and that’s a grass hut on the right-hand side, so he grew up on a dirt floor in India, and left, because India was an economic basket case and there’s no way that he could have voted to change things within his lifetime, so he left.
And it turns out that, while we talk a lot about voice in the context of the US and talk about democracy… that’s very important, but you know, we’re not just a nation of immigrants, we’re a nation of emigrants: we’re shaped by both voice and exit, starting with the Puritans, you know, they fled religious persecution; the American Revolutionaries which left England’s orbit, then we started moving west, leaving the East Coast bureaucracy to go to the Western nations; later, late 1800s, Ellis Island, people leaving pogroms, and in the 20th century fleeing Nazism and Communism. And sometimes people didn’t just come here for a better life; they came here to save their life. That’s, you know, the airlifting at the end of Saigon.
And it’s not just the US that’s shaped by exit; Silicon Valley itself is also shaped by exit. You can date it back to the founding of Fairchild Semiconductor with the Traitorous Eight, the founding of Fairchild… the fact that non-competes are not enforceable in California, and the fact that DC funds disruption, not just turnaround. The concept of forking in open source, if you think about the back button, that is, in some ways, the cheapest way to exit something. And of course the concept of the startup itself. That right there, if you guys haven’t seen, is one of Y Combinator’s first ads. Larry and Sergey won’t respect you in the morning.
So the concept here is that exit is actually an extremely important force in complement to voice, and it’s something that gives voice its strength. In particular, it protects minority rights. In the upper left corner, for example, you imagine two countries, and country 1 is following policy A, and country 2 is following policy B. Some minority is potentially interested in following policy B, but policy A is very stridently promulgated by the majority. However, there’s some other country, maybe a smaller country, maybe another country, that’s actually quite into B, and so that person leaves. And they’re not necessarily super into B, but they think it might be interesting, thus B question mark. And what happens is that all the other guys in A see that people are actually leaving. They really care about this particular policy so much that they actually left. It could be a feature where people are leaving for a competitor; it could be a bug that you haven’t fixed so people fork the project and take it somewhere else—what happens is that exit amplifies voice. So it’s a crucial additional feature for democracy is to reduce the barrier to exit, to make democratic voice more powerful, more successful. And so a voice gains much more attention when people are leaving in droves. And I would bet that exit is a reason why half of this audience is alive. Many of us have our ancestors who came from China, Vietnam, Korea, Iran, places where there’s war or famine, economic basket cases. Exit is something that I believe we need to preserve, and exit is what this talk is about.
So exit is really a meta-concept: it’s about alternatives. It’s a meta-concept that subsumes competition, forking, founding, and physical emigration. It means giving people tools to reduce influence of bad policies on their lives without getting involved in politics: the tools to peacefully opt out. And if you combine those three things: this concept of the US is the Microsoft of nations, the quote from Gates, and Hirschman’s treatise, you get this concept of Silicon Valley’s ultimate exit. Basically, I believe that the ability to reduce the importance of decisions made in DC in particular without lobbying or sloganeering is going to be extremely important over the next ten years. And you might ask, “Why? What does this have to do with anything?” So the reason why is that today it’s Silicon Valley versus what I call the Paper Belt. So there’s four cities that used to run the United States in the postwar era: Boston with higher ed; New York City with Madison Avenue, books, Wall Street, and newspapers; Los Angeles with movies, music, Hollywood; and, of course, DC with laws and regulations, formally running it. And so I call them the Paper Belt, after the Rust Belt of yore. And in the last twenty years, a new competitor to the Paper Belt arose out of nowhere: Silicon Valley. And by accident, we’re putting a horse head in all of their beds. We are becoming stronger than all of them combined.
And to get a sense of this: Silicon Valley is reinventing all of the industries in these cities. That X up there is supposed to be a screenplay, the paper of LA, and LA is going to iTunes, BitTorrent, Netflix, Spotify, Youtube… that was really the first on the hit list, starting in ’99 with Napster. New York right alongside: AdWords, Twitter, Blogger, Facebook, Kindle, Aereo. We’re going after newspapers; we’re going after Madison Avenue; we’re going after book publishing; we’re going after television. Aereo figured out how to put a solid-state antenna in a server farm so you don’t have to pay any TV fees for all of their recording. Recently Boston was next in the gunsights: Khan Academy, Coursera, Udacity. And most interestingly, DC, and by DC I’m using it as a metonym for government regulation in general, because it’s not just DC: it includes local and state governments. Uber, Airbnb, Stripe, Square, and the big one, Bitcoin… all things that threaten DC’s power. It is not necessarily clear that the US government can ban something that it wants to ban anymore.
The cause of this is something I call the Paper Jam. The backlash is beginning. More jobs predicted for machines, not people; job automation is a future unemployment crisis looming. Imprisoned by innovation as tech wealth explodes, Silicon Valley, poverty spikes… they are basically going to try to blame the economy on Silicon Valley, and say that it is iPhone and Google that done did it, not the bailouts and the bankruptcies and the bombings, and this is something which we need to identify as false and we need to actively repudiate it. So we must respond via voice: the obvious counterargument is that Valley reduces prices. The top is a little small, but that’s a famous graph: consumption spreads faster today. That shows the absolute exponential rise of technologies over the last century. Anything that is initially just the province of the one percent, whether it be computers or cell phones, quickly becomes the province of the five percent and the ten percent, that ??? that barely works that someone is willing to pay thousands and thousands of dollars for allows you to fix the bugs, to get economies of scale, to bring it to the ten percent and the twenty percent and the fifty percent and the middle class and the 99 percent. That’s how we got cell phones from a toy for Wall Street to something that’s helping the poorest of the poor all over the world. Technology is about reducing prices. The bottom curve there is Moore’s Law. And by contrast, the Paper Belt raises them. There’s the tuition bubble and the mortgage bubble and the medical care bubble and too many bubbles to name. The argument that the Valley is a problem is incoherent, but it’s not going to be sufficient to respond via voice. We can make this argument, but the ultimate counterargument is actually exit. Not necessarily physical exit, but exit in a variety of different forms. What they’re basically saying is: rule by DC means people are going back to work and the emerging meme is that rule by us is rule by Terminators. We’re going to take all the jobs. Whereas we can say, and we can argue, DC’s rule is more like an overrun building in Detroit, and down right there is a Google data center. And so we can go back and forth verbally, but ultimately this is about counterfactuals: they have aircraft carriers; we don’t. We don’t actually want to fight them. It wouldn’t be smart.
So we want to show what a society run by Silicon Valley would look like without actually affecting anyone who still believes the Paper Belt is actually good. That’s where exit comes in. So what do I mean by this? What do I mean by Silicon Valley’s ultimate exit? It basically means: build an opt-in society, ultimately outside the US, run by technology. And this is actually where the Valley is going. This is where we’re going over the next ten years. That’s where Mobile(?) is going: it’s not about a location-based app, it’s about making location completely irrelevant. So Larry Page, for example, wants to set aside a part of the world for unregulated experimentation. That’s carefully phrased: he’s not actually saying take away the laws in the US—if you like your country, you can keep it. Same with Marc Andreessen: “The world is going to see an explosion of countries in the years ahead. Doubled, tripled, quadrupled countries.” Since the end of the Cold War, we’ve just been seeing them burst up in all kinds of places. And some of the best will have lessons for all the rest. Singapore’s health care system is an example to the rest of the world. Estonia actually has digital parking meters and all kinds of things. We can copy those things without necessarily taking the risk: let them take the risk and then we can copy them. It amplifies voice.
So, importantly: you don’t have to fight a war to start a new company. You don’t have to kill the former CEO in a duel. So a very important meta-concept is to create peaceful ways to exit and start new countries. So, you know, two of the founders of Paypal: Peter Thiel is into seasteading; Elon Musk wants to build a Mars colony. And you can scale it back too: even on Hacker News, just recently, within the realm of someone on startup number 1 or startup number 2, these guys just went and bought a private island. It’s random, it’s in the middle of Canada, it’s freezing cold, there’s sticks over there, it doesn’t exactly look like Oahu… but the best part is this: the people who think this is weird, the people who sneer at the frontier, who hate technology—they won’t follow you out there. That’s the thing about exit is: you can take as much or as little of it as you want. You don’t have to actually go and get your own island; you can do the equivalent of dual-booting or telecommuting. You can opt out, exit at whatever level you prefer. Simply going onto Reddit rather than watching television is a way of opting out. There is this entire digital world up here which we can jack our brains into and we can opt out. The Paper Belt may stop us from leaving, and that’s actually what I think of as one of the most important things over the next ten years, is to use technology, especially Mobile(?), to reduce the barriers to exit. With it, we can build a world run by software: for some examples, 3D printing will turn regulation into DRM, it’ll be impossible to ban physical objects, from medical devices to drones to cars: you can 3D print all these things, and there are entire three-letter regulatory agencies are just devoted to banning goods. With Bitcoin, capital controls become packet filtering. It’s impossible to do bail-ins if everyone’s on Bitcoin, to seize money as they did in Cyprus or in Poland. With Quantified Self, medicine is going to become mobile: you’ll be able to measure yourself. Telepresence, your immigration policy is going to turn into your firewall. Double robotics is just a start: any bots, these robots that you can control remotely, moving around like a Doom video game, soon they’ll be humanoid on their side and they’re going to get pretty good, so you can be anywhere in the world with a humanoid robot walking around on your side, and without paying a plane ticket. Drones, warfare is going to become software, laws are going to become code, management via robotics is going to become automation, and property rights are going to become a network ??? Bitcoin and smart property.
These technological details, these are topics for the next MOOC, you can sign up at ???, it’ll be better the third time around… But that’s what I think… you know, if you want to think big, if you want to think about things that are next, build technologies as minimal or as maximal as you want for what the next society looks like. It could be something as simple as allowing middle-class people to make tax shelters, apps that allow people to travel and relocate better because it’s a huge pain to move from city to city. Anything you can think of that reduces the barrier to exit that produces lock-in. If we work together we might be able to build something like this.
America has an adulthood problem, and the problem is its absence. The new generation, the generation of twenty-somethings with thick glasses and three-day beards, the generation of bright colors, capital letters, and opiate-fueled electronic music is rejecting adulthood in favor of an extended Neverland adolescence stretching out to the horizon. They don’t want to grow up; they want to postpone growing up for as long as possible, to hang on to the aesthetic of a commercialized counterculture teendom as time drags them by the feet into their thirties. This is evident from the twee aesthetic, but also from the fifteen-minute ultrapopularity of bands like Salem:
Salem has only been around for a couple of years, but Holland and Marlatt met years before in high school at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, a boarding school in Northern Michigan that Josh Groban and Rufus Wainwright once attended. Both Holland and Marlatt studied visual arts; Holland later became addicted to heroin and cocaine, funded by work as a gas station prostitute, mostly for married men. …
Prior to talking with Salem, it all seemed so obvious: Teams of marketing men carefully cultivated this band’s persona using magnets and only the best SEO-baiting tricks—some real buzzband conspiracy shit! But it turns out the reality is much more banal. Their music—and their aesthetic aura—is ambiguous and full of fuzzy definitions, but Salem is not part of a JT LeRoy-style hoax; the darkness and the crack smoking and whatever else come from a more intuitive lack of giving a shit than some secret, unfolding plan.
In the eight-circuit model of consciousness developed by Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson, heroin activates the oral biosurvival circuit, the first circuit to activate in the course of human development, and the most primitive and childlike. (Crack cocaine arguably produces the same effect, or at least fills a similar societal niche, although Wilson rightly said that cocaine proper activates the neurosemantic circuit.) For Freudians, opiate addiction represents a desire to return to infancy. The infantile trend in pop culture arguably began with grunge music and the ‘slacker’ aesthetic; Kurt Cobain, who wore pajamas to his wedding, was addicted to heroin, as was Courtney Love, the musician he married. After Salem came soft grunge, subversive kawaii, and so on, all of which have features in common, and in common with Nirvana-era grunge and zine feminism: a color scheme of black and pastels, sloganistic social criticism of the individualistic tabula-rasa left, and an emphasis on ‘empowerment’ coexisting with a tired and confused outlook toward a world perceived as fundamentally harmful and painful.
But where did this come from?
The grunge generations are not the first to be terrible at handling time. The baby boomer catchphrase goes, “No, no, I’m Firstname, not Mr. Lastname; Mr. Lastname is my father.” Then consider the pop-culture phenomenon of the midlife crisis, and the general fear of aging. Time is something to be feared. This leads baby-boomer parents to refuse to acknowledge the adulthood of their children when it comes; they speak no differently to them than seven years before. It’s much easier to go with this, to accept the state of childhood that the parents reinforce, than to fight it and thus create familial discord.
Another characteristic of baby-boomer parents is helicopter parenting. Children are weak and frail things, to be protected from all hardship, to be sheltered from the slightest threats, of which there are many in this hostile world. Don’t talk to strangers; pedophiles and murderers are hiding around every corner. Don’t play competitive games; tag is to be banned because kids might fall and skin their elbows, and anyway they can’t handle the emotional pain of losing. Self-esteem must be maximized and assiduously protected. And so on. So children grow up in a bubble, with no experience of risk or disappointment, and come to hold that the bubble must be maintained at any cost.
The planet Krikkit is located in a dust cloud composed chiefly of the disintegrated remains of the enormous spaceborne computer Hactar. … Due to the dust cloud, the sky above Krikkit was completely black, and thus the people of Krikkit led insular lives and never realised the existence of the Universe. … Upon first witnessing the glory and splendor of the Universe, they casually, whimsically, decided to destroy it, remarking, “It’ll have to go.”
But there are also economic reasons. No longer can economic self-sufficiency at a reasonable level begin before about 30. College is necessary and grad school is preferable; education ends four to ten years later than it used to, and it would be prohibitively expensive were it not practically mandatory. Adulthood does not require self-sufficiency in the American cowboy sense—otherwise women could never have become adults until a few decades ago—but it does have economic preconditions. Adulthood is oriented toward reproduction, even though not all adults reproduce; one who cannot bear the costs of reproduction, just like one who cannot bear the emotional costs of having success not always guaranteed, is not yet an adult. The cultural command to do what you love no matter the pay thus hinders entrance into adulthood.
It’s not just Weird Twitter.
In the story of the emperor’s new clothes, tediously referenced by every internet commenter who wants to pretend that not liking something popular is somehow ennobling, the lone truth-teller is a little boy. Rousseau lionised childhood as an all-too-brief sanctuary from the big bad world. Wordsworth, much like Chris King (27 & 3/4), believed the child was “Might prophet! Seer blest!” He, too, might have allowed a three-year-old to rename his bread. But Innocentese didn’t appear in the late 90s out of a vacuum and I think the ground was laid, at least in part, by indie culture.
In the mid-80s, indie bands like Beat Happening in the US and the C86 scene in the UK employed a childlike aesthetic as a form of resistance to dominant cultural trends. In place of slick professionalism and expensive overproduction, chaotic amateurism. In place of exaggerated sexuality, puritanical sexlessness. In place of glossy “lies”, painful sincerity. In place of adulthood, essentially, a magically extended childhood. One could note with some discomfort that the pop culture being opposed, though identified with corporate America, was driven by working-class black people, but in the heyday of Thatcherism and Reaganomics the “twee” approach was still a valid form of rejection. [No it wasn't.]
A generation of factory-farmed autists reject the outside world as too challenging once the hermetic seal is broken, regressing to a made-up childhood, idealizing its clueless and confused point of view and its mass-marketed aesthetic, hoping to extend the seal of age segregation always just a bit longer, until they’re 40, they can’t get away with working at coffee shops and reading avant-garde transgressive poetry over a four-chord ukulele backing anymore, and either they’ve hit the wall or college girls won’t fuck them anymore.
If you’ve been around Hoxton Square lately – as unpromising a start to an article as you’re likely to see this year, I know, but bear with me – you’ve probably noticed several billboards displaying short poems in LEDs. These texts are the work of Scottish conceptual artist Robert Montgomery. Now, it’s unlikely that one expects much of the art which emanates from this part of N1 to endure, but, although they’ve only been around for a few weeks, Montgomery’s pieces seem unusually haunted by suggestions of imminent datedness. The most prominent, above the door of host gallery KK Outlet, reads:
THIS CITY IS WILDER THAN YOU THINK AND KINDER THAN YOU THINK. IT IS A VALLEY AND YOU ARE A HORSE IN IT IT IS A HOUSE AND YOU ARE A CHILD IN IT SAFE AND WARM HERE IN THE FIRE OF EACH OTHER
Describing precisely what’s so grating about this is tough. Broadly, though, it’s the insincere stab at starry-eyed ingenuousness which comes to the fore particularly, though not exclusively, in the saccharine metaphor, fridge-magnet capitalisation, and exaggeratedly remedial punctuation. It’s bad enough that supermarkets will rename products to please the demands of annoyingly precocious three-year-olds, a symptom of the current ubiquity of twee tropes in marketing, without self-declaredly radical art getting in on the nicey-nicey act.
‘Radical’ is how Montgomery styles himself. Interviewed in the Independent recently, he recounted how Situationism had been a “point of obsession” for him since his art school days. Situationism, to offer a – very – brief summary, was a 60s strand of French post-Marxism which proposed that consumer capitalism reduced all experience to mere spectacle, diminishing the individual’s capacity for self-realisation and mediating all encounters with the external world. In Montgomery’s usefully concise précis, the movement’s figurehead Guy Debord sought to describe “a society where we live divorced from real life, surrounded by images designed to sell us things and give us paranoia”.
Artistic responses to Situationism’s theorising have attempted to undermine the spectacle in order to provoke a radical questioning of the everyday, an act which might serve as the beginning of some form of return to ‘real life’.
Of course, they fail. The left, marinating in the stomach juices of neoliberalism, still doesn’t realize it’s been eaten!—that it forms a demographic for companies to market to, a subculture for companies to jump on the status-structure of, and a false opposition, thoroughly neutered by that which it claims to oppose, turned into a mere demographic, a mere subculture, a mere move in the great American game of maintaining status in the torrent of pop-culture change.
It’s this trend that leads you to wonder if Montgomery doesn’t really know his enemy. As another of the billboards shows, his is effectively a black-and-white world in which the moral failures of capitalism can be corrected by simply sending the archetypal city bloke back to the land: ‘YOU WILL HAVE TO LEARN TO LOOK AT THE SKY AGAIN, YOU WILL HAVE TO LEARN TO EAT FOOD THAT GROWS WHERE YOU LIVE AGAIN.’ If only it were so simple. Oppositions between belligerently acquisitive urban capitalism and an idealised pastoral ignore the new set-up, in which everybody seems to want to repudiate modernity in favour of some long-lost innocence and ease.
The target is no longer capitalism, imperialism, or anything else, but the absence of the seal. Douglas Adams, as always, is the prophet of our age:
The planet Krikkit is located in a dust cloud composed chiefly of the disintegrated remains of the enormous spaceborne computer Hactar. … Due to the dust cloud, the sky above Krikkit was completely black, and thus the people of Krikkit led insular lives and never realised the existence of the Universe. … Upon first witnessing the glory and splendor of the Universe, they casually, whimsically, decided to destroy it, remarking, “It’ll have to go.”
Hence the demographics of these movements: hopelessly confused suburbanites fresh out of college, clueless and jobless, wanting only to be back in high school, to be commanded, to be told by the melonheads that drift in smelling meat for their puppetry what is right and what is wrong, how to act and what to like. Twee is our Juche; it is the expression of the same underlying human factors that motivate the single-minded ‘minders’ in North Korea, watered down by the postmodern half-death of the metanarrative into a confused and anti-intellectual posture of prelapsarianism, a jumble of feigned childlike wonder and hate of all that is different. Difference is confusing; difference is challenging; difference prevents the twee-leftist from getting precisely what she wants, and therefore she must hate it, she must pray to the media to push PSAs, to the city Vogons to count all that is insufficiently thedish as a crime against fashion or peace. The goal is to maximize comfort, nothing else—exactly as Nietzsche predicted. Behold, I show you the last man!
“What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star?” Thus asks the last man, and he blinks.
The earth has become small, and on it hops the last man, who makes everything small. His race is as ineradicable as the flea-beetle; the last man lives longest.
“We have invented happiness,” say the last men, and they blink. They have left the regions where it was hard to live, for one needs warmth. One still loves one’s neighbor and rubs against him, for one needs warmth.
Becoming sick and harboring suspicion are sinful to them: one proceeds carefully. A fool, whoever still stumbles over stones or human beings! A little poison now and then: that makes for agreeable dreams. And much poison in the end, for an agreeable death.
One still works, for work is a form of entertainment. But one is careful lest the entertainment be too harrowing. One no longer becomes poor or rich: both require too much exertion. Who still wants to rule? Who obey? Both require too much exertion.
No shepherd and one herd! Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse.
“Formerly all the world was mad,” say the most refined, and they blink.
One is clever and knows everything that has ever happened: so there is no end of derision. One still quarrels, but one is soon reconciled—else it might spoil the digestion.
One has one’s little pleasure for the day and one’s little pleasure for the night: but one has a regard for health.
“We have invented happiness,” say the last men, and they blink.
All that Nietzsche failed to predict was the Yankees, colonizers to the very end, who largely refused to leave the cities, the places most complicated and most filled with potential, but instead set about building dystopia right there where they were, in the heart of confusion and the womb of much now-aborted greatness. Vogon neo-Puritans with public shaming campaigns and exclusivity reserved only for themselves are no strangers to hate; no, hate is a bonding mechanism, hate is the glue that holds them together and the foundation on which their narcissistic egos are built. Hate is what makes them feel alive, what makes them feel healthy and active without being either; hate is the heroin the Kurt Cobains of the suburban age inject into their veins, pushing ever larger needles through sacks of fat and sclerotic fuck-you postures playing at mimicry of the rural self-defense mechanisms Mencken mocked in true Yankee form. The twee and grunge aesthetics—two sides of a coin, as their frequent comorbidity shows—are nothing but attempts by hyper-Brahmin suburbanites to escape the world their ideological ancestors created and return to a sick, self-conscious, and intolerably intolerant totalitarianism marching ever onward to left singularity.
Thede separatism with the world as their country. “Earth is ours! Eternal comfort for every convert, and to hell with all the others!” May they find their place and never preach outside it.
The world is a large and complicated place, and it ought to stay that way.
This week held two newsworthy events. Two events and many Events, to be sure—the rats must always feast—but two events nevertheless.
The first is an event only because it is an Event. This is, of course, the Tsarnaevs. A misfit hyper-Sunni haarpfucker and his average younger brother blew up the capital of the Brahmin caliphate—and the fleas who ride the rats’ asses saw in them Allah’s response to their prayer, their prayer that the bombers be white Americans. White American Salafi Chechens from Kyrgyzstan; what a world we live in! Would Dzhokhar Tsarnaev have called himself white? We may never know; certainly we can’t just ask the boy—a boy of 19; what a world we live in!—but his ‘nigga’-peppered Twitter suggests that doubt is reasonable, and we can only hope against the ways of the world that those small men who live within earshot of the fleas will see.
But the second is far more interesting.
Only an event of great magnitude could outshine white American Central Asians bombing Boston; but this is just what we see: we see nothing less than that Americans have finally discovered democracy, that Johnny Dickweed, always praised and always muted, has finally found his voice.
His voice! Yes! The rats were right, but two years too early. Two years ago the king of knotted tails proclaimed that Twitter, this great megaphone of the people, had democratized the Arab world, but they were right and they were wrong: the Arab world was democratized, but not democratized. When the Taylors and Jaydens of the global America are freed into the media from their Ivy League boot-camps, they see democracy where they see America; and this is just what they saw in 2011. From every Massachusetts outpost the cry was raised: let these good Yankee men dispense with the relics of the unenlightened past! let Libya become the 51st state! But this is not democracy: to these good Yankee men the people stayed foreign. And as it was there, so it is here: what could Jayden, looking down from her latte-macchiato world where all is covered by white New England foam, know of Johnny Dickweed?
But Jayden was right: Twitter really is the great megaphone of the people. Twitter is Johnny Dickweed’s voice-box; and Johnny Dickweed has spoken.
Johnny Dickweed has spoken! Let him speak, and be heard! Let his shots ring ’round the world, to herald the great new age of democracy! A great enwhiggened world, where his voice shall ever echo in the Czech Republic’s ear!—wait, shit.
Many times before have we seen democracy; the great guns of the God’s grey government have brought it to most of the world. But democracy and democracy don’t work well together at all. Johnny Dickweed, this blight upon the face of democracy, this clinging remnant of a pre-enlightened age!—he lives yet, and he has spoken, spoken and been heard. His dinner-table talk is now displaced to Twitter, is now ringing ’round the world, and despite all the efforts of democracy to soundproof him in, to generate a ‘public opinion’ fit for rule, to construct a great automaton of many Taylor-and-Jayden gears, many bureaucrats in many Washingtons and Washington outposts—despite all this, the Czech Republic has resonated to his ignorant frequencies.
Was not democracy to democratize the world? to make every man a king? Was not the wave of this great age to plant art galleries in every Podunk province? But what have we now! No light, no color, no sound! No nanokings schooled in the ways of their worldwide realm! Johnny Dickweed remains uncivilized, remains unable to distinguish between two places thousands of miles away, two places outside his village, his unreconstructedly small space of interest. What would Mencken say, this great Plato or Robespierre of the city on a hill? What have all the Menckens said?
What they have said is that Johnny Dickweed must cease to be, must become as Jayden, reading missionaries’ tracts on Russian republics over organic raspberry mochas: he must familiarize himself with the world, must become a citizen of it; and all this despite the great machines of democracy constructed precisely to protect him from the necessity of this. Johnny Dickweed is not a citizen of the world; he is a citizen of where he is, and he has no desire to change that. His country, his realm, that eclipses all else, that inspires in him great emotion and action, is Podunk, is one of many thousands of Podunks, not the one and growing Protestan.
Podunk, of course, is neither Chechnya nor the Czech Republic, and so Johnny Dickweed has no reason to care about them, nor to know the difference. Both have become newsworthy; but the news is not Podunk. The case will be solved, the stories will be written, and Johnny Dickweed will get his coffee tomorrow as he always has. Life goes on. Life blows over Podunk as wind over so many rocks. The rocks will be eroded soon enough; already are, by the great God’s-wind of the Protestani turbines; but is this not the real shame? For even Protestan has its podunks; even the administrative centers of the great Brahmin caliphate have their Johnny Dickweeds, their own Podunk gears cranking silently in the background as God’s wind eats away their kin—and without this, how could they survive? It is not the Washington men who manage Washington’s affairs; no, the Washington men only sleep in their suburbs. Why would the Washington men attend their podunks’ town councils, when they must continually attend and attend to the town councils of the world? In my own DC suburb, the town councils, the town newsletters, the policy-machines of the mere podunk are staffed, and staffed quite well, by the Johnny Dickweeds, the babysitters, gardeners, and retirees, who are as apathetic to the goings-on of Chechnya or the Czech Republic as the Protestanis with their two-hour commutes are to the goings-on of what for them is merely a place to sleep. The Washingtonians have yet to notice that PG County sucks; they are too cosmopolitan, their view is too wide to take in such little things. And why should they? They drive three towns over to buy their groceries! Laurel has collapsed into zombie apocalypse, Hillandale no longer speaks English, Greenbelt is little more than a collection of pawn shops, halal markets, and clothing stores for the morbidly obese; but what do they whose country is the world care? Protestan needs no location; Protestan lives in their cars, their metros, their routes and interstates, their Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods carved out of the side of their commute.
The Protestanis, in other words, are apathetic about the workings of their dormitory podunks, just as the podunkites are about Protestan. Johnny Dickweed doesn’t care about Chechnya; Jayden doesn’t care about Calverton just the same.
But if we have yet to attain democracy, if Johnny Dickweed remains Johnny Dickweed, have we at least attained half of the ideal, half of the cosmopolitan vision? Johnny Dickweed is plainly not a citizen of the world and plainly refuses to be; but is Jayden? Jayden, who spent a year in France, who goes to Germany on holiday, who flies out to Kenya to take pictures with emaciated orphans? Does Boston at least have the light, color, sound that Burtonsville lacks?
No! No, and never so much not as now! Jayden is a citizen of nothing but Protestan; she certainly noxçiyn mott ca yiyca xa1a, certainly nemluvit česky, and probably can’t even speak French! The language of Protestan is English, and English only. (I once went to Berlin with a retired NPR correspondent who for years had lived and worked there. I had to translate in the cafes whose owners spoke no English; but there were very few of those. If France is East England, Germany is East America; Berlin especially so, even in architecture.) All not in English is foreign to her—no, worse than foreign, invisible; and when she hears the patois of the unreconstructed Johnny Dickweed come in from Podunk, all she hears is patois, for what could Johnny Dickweed have to say to her, the wise priestess of Protestan? She simply has no clue that there is a world outside Protestan, a world of many million podunks joined together by -stans not her own; she can only interact with that world through its own Jaydens, its thoroughly enwhiggened ambassadors to the great grey god she worships. For her, diversity can only be of color, food, and scenery; the world speaks English now, the world has become Protestan, and as for all that hasn’t yet been conquered: soon! sooner than ever! There is no podunk too podunk for Cthulhu’s tentacles to reach and enlighten it, for the great grey god to find and enwhiggen it! The mandate is for a global caliphate, and a global caliphate she will make!
Jayden is no Kuehnelt-Leddihn, gathering apathy in Basque from fishermen under Franco; no, she will never meet such a fisherman. “Franco takes care of the government; I just fish.” No, Jayden takes care of the government, and doesn’t give a damn who fishes as long as the fish keep coming—and if the fish stop coming, she’ll go where they still do.
The most elementary definition of ideology is probably the well-known phrase from Marx’s Capital: “Sie wissen das nicht, aber sie tun es” (“they do not know it, but they are doing it”). The very concept of ideology implies a kind of basic, constitutive naïveté: the misrecognition of its own presuppositions, of its own effective conditions, a distance, a divergence between so-called social reality and our distorted representation, our false consciousness of it.
Orders are obeyed for four reasons: because the orderee doesn’t realize he’s being ordered, because he’s willing to obey, because he stands to gain, and because Nelson Mandela is threatening to cut off his nose. Ideology, imperium, incentive, and war: when one fails, the next is always there.
What makes a hipster? A hipster has certain thede-marking behavior patterns: three-day beards, mason jars, Animal Collective, liberal slacktivism, plaid shirts, or whatever. So does a goth. The difference is that, while the goth talks along the lines of “of course I’m wearing all black, why are you even asking, I’m a fucking goth, isn’t it obvious?”, the hipster instead says “well, I dunno man, plaid shirts are just cool”, and when pressed, will deny either the existence of the thede, its relevance, or his membership in it: “I’m not a hipster” or “there’s no such thing as hipsterism”. This may even play out in the form of ironic acceptance: “yeah dude, I’m totally a hipster”, in the same way the liberal says he wants to kill babies and send all of America to hell.
The goth’s mode of relation to his thede strikes the good American on some level as savage. “Of course I want the Bosniaks killed, why are you even asking, I’m a fucking Serb, isn’t it obvious?” is just not how things are done. I dunno man, Massachusetts is just objectively right. It’s basic empathy and common sense. If you can’t understand it, something’s wrong with you. Onward Yankee soldiers! Crush the kulaks! Not because they’re kulaks; because they’re just wrong! This isn’t political; it’s common sense! This isn’t ideology—it’s ideology!
The thede still functionally exists, of course; the hipster still wears the plaid shirt, but to his conscious mind, the plaid shirt is just cool; and the three-day beard is just what’s done, the liberal slacktivism is just basic empathy and common sense, and so on. Er weiß das nicht, aber er tut es. Thedishness joins all else of today at the furthest remove.
Imagine if African American men and boys were committing mass shootings month after month, year after year. Articles and interviews would flood the media, and we’d have political debates demanding that African Americans be “held accountable.”
For a part of the mainstream to say that the mainstream would do something that fundamentally contradicts their principles is always and everywhere absurd.
The real issue, of course, is that there are two mainstreams. Brahmins think the Brahmin mainstream has no power, just truth, which it speaks to the horrible power of the Vaisya mainstream. And vice versa. But who wins? What major gains have Vaisyas made in the last… oh, hundred years? Which mainstream is actually mainstream? Which rat-king wears the crown?
Move a clock backwards and it gets to where it’s going; move a clock forwards and it gets to where it was.
Memetic immunity and changing material and ideological conditions render true reaction implausible at best. Technology and economy shape society; Marx and Moldbug were both right. A society is also shaped by its history; CasaPound can exist in Italy and Nation of Islam can exist in black America, but obviously not vice versa.
What can exist in America? Or, depending on your allegiances, what can exist in white America? (I agree with Richard Strauss—”I recognize only two types of people: those who have talent and those who have none.” But your mileage may vary.) A one-party state that decisively crushed the last traces of opposition forty years ago, with an impotent, Reaganite right and a thoroughly liberal left concerned not with class or caste but with atomistic individual identity, appears to offer no chance of an organic outgrowth moving in a new direction.
Christianity is impotent as a root for such an outgrowth, due both to simple memetic immunity and to the fact that Brahmindom never really cared much for church. A self-conscious return to Christianity fails because of its self-consciousness; such a thing lacks imperium, the ‘natural’ motivating force found today in, say, the discourse of ‘human rights’ or ‘racism’. CasaPound can say, of course we’re fascists; Mussolini did great things for Italy! Berlusconi would agree. Some in Italy may see fascism the way some American liberals see Christianity; but nobody would see it the way American liberals see fascism. Fascism, to an American, is not only elthedish but truly foreign.
What is imperium?
The key of black magic is the art of naming the nameless, of showing that that which appears natural—that is, ideology in the true sense—is not. A secure ideology (in the man-on-the-street sense of “political memeplex”) is one that has no name. What is the name for that on which American liberalism and American conservatism agree? What is the name for that on which Americans agree? Liberalism is an -ism; conservatism is an -ism; but talk of justice, of human rights and freedoms, is not.
Imperium is that which ideology has that lets it be ideology. Imperium is what makes Nietzsche’s philosopher stop digging where he stops. Imperium is what makes the (false) opposition oppose gay marriage, not the semantic legitimacy of the concept of sexual orientations, despite its origins in Victorian pop psychology. Rawls says that justice is the first virtue of social institutions; but why does he see no need to back it up? Because that’s how it’s done. Pure ideology. That’s just how it is. ‘Justice’ has imperium.
How can the clock be turned forwards in the right direction, given where its hands are now?
This is, of course, just a restatement of Han Feizi:
In the most ancient times, when humans were few and creatures numerous, human beings could not overcome the birds, beasts, insects, and reptiles. Then a sage appeared who fashioned nests of wood to protect people from harm. The people were delighted and made him ruler of the world, calling him the Nest Builder. The people lived on fruits, berries, mussels, and clams–things rank and evil-smelling that hurt their bellies, so that many of them fell ill. Then a sage appeared who drilled with sticks and produced fire with which to transform the rank and putrid foods. The people were delighted and made him ruler of the world, calling him the Drill Man.
In the age of middle antiquity there was a great flood in the world, but Gun and Yu of the Xia dynasty opened up channels for the water. In the age of recent antiquity Jie and Zhou ruled in a violent and perverse way, but Tang of the Shang and Wu of the Zhou dynasty overthrew them.
Now if anyone had built wooden nests or drilled for fire in the time of the Xia dynasty, Gun and Yu would have laughed at him, and if anyone had tried to open channels for the water during the Shang and Zhou dynasties, Tang and Wu would have laughed at him. This being so, if people in the present age go about exalting the ways of Yao, Shun, Yu, Tang and Wu [like the Confucians do], the sages of today are bound to laugh at them. For the sage does not try to practice the ways of antiquity or to abide by a fixed standard, but examines the affairs of the age and takes what precautions are necessary.
There was a farmer of Song who tilled the land, and in his field was a stump. One day a rabbit, racing across the field, bumped into the stump, broke its neck, and died. Thereupon the farmer laid aside his plow and took up watch beside the stump, hoping that he would get another rabbit in the same way. But he got no more rabbits, and instead became the laughing stock of Song. Those who think they can take the ways of the ancient kings and use them to govern the people of today [e.g., the Confucians] all belong in the category of stump-watchers!
Again the media’s horns call the dogs to the hunt, again the crusaders for Justice take up arms and keyboards to fight the exceptions to the Brahmin regime; the same tedious scene, repeated since Salem; always the same…
Always the same indeed. Every major news event stirs up a mile-high wake of hacks using it to crow about their favorite delusion, but the Newtown shooting eclipses every other event that can’t be called racist: a white male with mental problems going Columbine on an elementary school hits every tedious moralizer’s talking point short of apocalypse and Satan. We need more government action! We need more mental health care! White people are a problem! Ban video games! Ban guns! Abolish masculinity! And whatever you do, you heartless Wild-Wester, you odious failure of empathy, think of the children!
The overlooked crime of the Adam Lanzas of the world, the Dharun Ravis and the George Zimmermans, is their setting-off of a tedious tide of superficial analysis from the rats of the ratus quo. No words should have to be wasted refuting the pellets poured forth from their bubonic keyboards into the mouths of the masses, but alas, we as a society stand fuck deep in rodent excreta, with hardly even a shovel to scoop us out.
Some talking points are old and faded, worn out to the point of becoming punchlines to the bad jokes of worse webcomics; only the worst of the Volusii would bother anymore to cacare such thoroughly cacata carta as the Jack Thompson line that it all comes down to not enough censorship. No, these are old and stale, little more than discolorations on the carpet, certainly lacking the new turd shine of the leavings of the new media rat-kings seeking scapegoats better suited to the attacks of neutered Jaydens waxing slacktivistic on Facebook between racking up headshots in the game of the week and sticking their shriveled ratling in a Lena Dunham lookalike with a Tumblr full of Dworkin and a drug problem.
What, for example, are we to make of American masculinity? Are we to assume, contrary to all evidence, that Adam Lanza was a paragon of it, a modern-day Al Jolson, flaunting his rippling masses of Twilight flesh in the cafeteria and making all the girls swoon, and this is what led him to kill his mother and twenty random children? Valenti’s rat-king “we” certainly ought to talk about it, but a relevant and reasonable discussion would more resemble that of Roissy than anything regurgitated from the reeking latrines of the internet liberal-feminist set. Valenti wants to relate Lanza to American masculinity—but how is he to be so related? Was he a Trayvon Martin, an average male member of an American community, acting on his masculinity in the events that propelled him to the status of a national story? Of course not! The relation of our Lanzas, our Harrises and Klebolds, to American masculinity is one of absence: they lie asocial and sexless at the bottom of the masculine hierarchy, unable or unwilling to learn and accept the rules of the game and too unlucky to win without playing. Where then is the value of Valenti’s implication that the blame should be placed on the game?
To better consider this, rephrase the question: if Valenti is right, if Lanza’s problem was American masculinity, it follows that it ought to be destroyed, or at least fundamentally remade, but if his problem was a lack of it, it ought to be taught. But who are these shooters? What is their context? Did shock stories of Adam Lanzas whistling Al Jolson as they tommy-gunned through schoolhouses packed with the spawn of bootleggers’ sons drip from the telegraphs in the age of gangster movies and Errol Flynn? Are we really to believe that the demographic of low-status post-80s white male high school suburbanites is a hotbed of masculinity? To ask the question is to answer it. Low status implies by definition a misunderstanding of the rules of the game, and the modern-day white suburbs are about as masculine as Dylan Klebold in a tutu.
But then, the rats will cry, what about the guns? How can we overlook the necessity to corral these wild packs of Bushmasters, these agents of aether-sprung death that now haunt the halls of our elementary schools, to clog their barrels with our shit and feed them to the Feds? We must remember: Guns murder! Clarisse Grime was run over by an out-of-control SUV! There is no agent to all this; no, it simply happens, it is done, with no by appended to make the theory meaningful. Certainly, the rate of maggot infestations would lower if the government banned shit—but what kind of analysis is this, that postulates such absurdities as spontaneous generation, that so limits our ability to think about the damned thing, and therefore to ameliorate it? Instead of a world without shit, a world where the jackbooted thugs of NRA lore goosestep about with gloved hands Goatseing the God-fearing citizens of this great rotting nation, what must be demanded is a world without shit, an end to the progressive game-rules incentivizing Facebook status-junkies to proudly wear their crowns of shit mass-marketed and made in Massachusetts, to the reign of these tedious media rat-kings matted with the filth of their own cacata carta, feeding their superficial theory-excreta into the mouths of the self-righteous hipsters and morally-panicked soccer moms below them.
There were three referenda on the ballot: Question 4, a statewide analogue of the DREAM Act, which would extend in-state tuition eligibility to illegal immigrants; Question 5, which would reject the 2010 Maryland districting, which can be reasonably described as resembling a CAT-scan of a diseased yak’s intestines; and Question 6, which would allow gay marriage. I’m sure you can guess which passed and which didn’t.
There is much to learn from each question, but some are more complicated than others; so they will be covered in reverse order. Question 6 is the easiest to explain: it represents the continuation of a trend visible for decades, if not centuries. The legalization of gay marriage in Maryland represents the further progression of, well, progress. The Zeitgeist rattles yet another pan. The historical vector can be traced back from Election Day to the 2008 UN discussion of LGBT rights to the entrance of gay marriage into public discourse as a serious issue to Lawrence v. Texas to the removal of homosexuality from the DSM’s list of paraphilias, and probably beyond. Analogous historical vectors can be found for many other issues. They track together, progressing inexorably through the Elsewhere—usually either Western Europe, in some ways more American than America, or Latin America, for which a significant influence is obvious in the name—to America, and then to the rest of the world. The American Revolution to the fall of Rhodesia! The abolition of slavery to civil rights to the end of South African apartheid! (Depression-era populism to the New Deal to Reaganomics to a Heritage Foundation healthcare proposal being labeled socialist…?) It cannot now be denied that history has a vector, that very powerful forces are at work, whether they be the justice of the progressive cause or the Reptilian Illuminati Space Jews, and as a corollary, that conservatism, the electoral force that not only advocates the progressivism of thirty years ago, but claims it as its unwavering core conviction, always held and always to be held and we will never concede any ground whatsoever to the Zeitgeist, not one more step and don’t look behind us at the miles we’ve already been dragged—is “about as likely to work as suing Shub-Niggurath in small-claims court.”
Where Question 6 shows the power of this historical vector, Question 5 demonstrates where its power comes from. Yak-intestine districts created to benefit Democrats are judged accurate districts by a heavily Democratic state. One could, perhaps, judge them evil for this, for corrupting what ought to be a neutral institution; but one could also walk into K’n-yan waving an allocation questionnaire. Gerrymandering makes sense. There is no reason within the system to refrain from it, and plenty of reason to fling the entrails of large bovines at a map, even disregarding the satisfying splat they make on impact. What advantage do ideals of sanity offer in the face of concrete electoral gain? In the end, the ends are always held to justify the means, for the simple reason that anyone who holds otherwise renders themselves less able to compete, and is therefore made obsolete. Nothing is off the table, save what would hurt support for the ends if it were known to have been taken off of it.
Question 4, and the passage thereof, throws into even sharper relief the winning strategyof the progressives. A heavily Democratic state votes on moral grounds to pass a law that just happens to incentivize behavior that is both illegal and immensely beneficial to their party. Yes, immensely beneficial: although it is beneficial for a party—more generally, an ideology, or memeplex—to control the Cathedral, the structures by which information is distributed, and although the Democrats—more accurately, the progressives—obviously do, this is not enough.
Why? There are two reasons. First, the market works. The structures of information distribution cannot be entirely monolithic, unless nobody disagrees with it strongly enough to want to switch to a distributor ideologically closer to them or it is impossible to start such a thing. Hence Fox News and Liberty University. Second, democracy has a race problem. Voting is essentially tribal. The voting-tribe of a child can be predicted with at least 50% accuracy by the voting-tribe of the parents. (Note also that, when the child and the parents disagree, it is far more likely that the child has become liberal than conservative. The Cathedral strikes again!) Party identification exhibits the key feature of group identity: people commonly incorporate party membership into their identity, and think people within their party are better than people in a different party. Examples of this are readily obvious to anyone on social media. So, although holding the Cathedral is necessary to maintain power, it is not sufficient.
What, then, can be done? The solution is obvious. Voting is tribal, and behavioral reality knows only one iron law: whatever is subsidized is promoted. Therefore, if a democratic faction wants to gain power, it should set up incentive structures to promote tribal demographics favorable to them. This is intuitively understood by almost all politically aware progressives, but not completely: it is widely known that conservatives would prefer the voting population to contain relatively more whites (voter ID is going to allow Romney to win Pennsylvania!), but not widely known (or at least not widely admitted) that progressives would prefer the voting population to contain relatively fewer whites. Consider:
When one of my old Labour Party acquaintances expressed anxiety over Islamic terrorism, I asked him why he had always been so keen on getting as many immigrants here as possible. He told me that he had been ‘trying to make the revolution’.
Or just read the headlines in the wake of the election. Hispanics helped drive Democrat success! This is Die Lösung. The solution. Wäre es da nicht doch einfacher, die Regierung löste das Volk auf und wählte ein anderes?
It can only be good in the long run that things are exposed as what they are. This election season, with its referenda, its base partisanship, and its always-inevitable win for Romney in the Republican primary and Obama in the general, is characterized by the destruction of illusions. Many conservatives honestly believed that a Romney win was inevitable, and that Nate Silver was a propagandist and only the party osteomancers could possibly come up with an accurate prediction; and many honestly believe now that the reelection of a neutered center-right neoliberal spells doom for the country within the next four years; if they aren’t self-aware enough to realize that their mental models of the world have next to zero predictive value and revise them accordingly, it is at least plain to everyone else that His Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition is in reality the court jester, fundamentally incapable of even holding, much less regaining, ground to the inexorable march of progress.
In time, people may come to realize that the things they detest are not corruptions of the system, but inescapable results of its internal logic—that “politics”, with its partisan mind-viruses and party capture of ‘neutral’ institutions, and that strange religion “democracy” are one and the same. That people are coming to understand Duverger’s law is a sign that this comprehension of system-logic may be soon to come: when it can be admitted that the American political system leads inevitably to the existence of two parties, can it not also be admitted that there is at least a possibility of it leading to other things? Remember: nothing is off the table.
Inescapable results of its internal logic! Sooner or later, all shams must end; the mystification of the true aspects of the system, the unexamined civil-religions, ideologies in the Marxian sense, cannot last forever. The “end of a world” never is and never can be anything but the end of an illusion. Or, if you prefer a longer quote:
When Maistre says that every nation gets the government it deserves, I believe him. Maistre didn’t think his great law was a law of physics. He thought it was a law of God. I am not a religious person, but I agree. History has convinced me that when laws of God are broken, bad shit happens. Bad shit will happen anyway. But isn’t Obama bad enough?
… Dear conservatives, I have a question for you. Suppose God appeared to you in your sleep, and gave you a choice. You could lose your country, but keep your institutions and constitutions. Or, you could lose your institutions and constitutions, but keep your country. Which would you choose?
But I don’t have to choose, you say! Au contraire, mon frere! I will save my country, by saving her institutions and constitutions! Which are the best in history ever! Look at all this corn and bacon! Dear conservatives, this is just your way of cursing God. Do you think he doesn’t have enough fools and drunks to look after?
Do you know what terrifies me? What terrifies me is that not only do I not think America deserves Mitt Romney, I don’t even think America deserves Barack Obama. After all, a couple of centuries of diligent looking-after has run us up quite a tab with God. A tab that will be paid or punished. What terrifies me is that while I see no collective interest in paying the tab, it doesn’t seem to me that the punishment has even begun to begin. Barack Obama isn’t exactly Robespierre, you know. “Capable” might be going too far, but “basically decent” isn’t that much of a stretch.
“Death to America!” is no longer a rallying cry, but instead a prayer, a hope that reality will stop dragging out what is essentially inevitable, and put an end to the shams, that we may cease to see them chattering incessantly in the tedious jargon of the sham-religion and get the hell on with our lives.
You’ve probably seen this already, but Lena Dunham, the writer for some SWPL show, starred in an Obama campaign ad comparing voting to sex.
This ad makes one thing clear: Christopher Lasch was right. Progressive zombieism is fueled by pathological narcissism.
In a dying society, perhaps in any society not deserving the term in its strictest sense, one can expect weakness. In weakness, there is the desire for a way out of it; but to find an authentic way out, a path toward true merit and merit-recognition, requires the very strength the absence of which marks a zombie-to-be. The shortcut is to sublimate oneself into a collective, alpha over sigma, Lena Dunham over Don Colacho, the rule of cool. Cool is that which brings merit-recognition without merit. Zombies will always look favorably upon other zombies. Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success.
A mediocre-at-best media nitwit zombifies into the face of a generation. We are cool, you are not. “Tons of flesh,” the blaring purple signs assert. “We have tons of human flesh. Will you resist us? Our meat and bone and hair and tooth will fall, and crush you.” We are the Zeitgeist, we are the media, we are the cool. Watch the tone: Lena Dunham is no religious fanatic. Her manner is that of a five-star zombie, someone at the top of a hierarchy, someone who knows they’re at the top of a hierarchy, and that that hierarchy is at the top of the meta-hierarchy. She is animated not by religious conviction, but by the smug coolness of the success-actor. Swag. Televangelists don’t have swag.
To illustrate the point further, consider the internet communist. Their methods of attack are that of the schoolyard. The distinction between blasphemy and uncool is admittedly subtle, but it exists: blasphemy implies a core conviction, a perceived Knowledge of Truth, and one could use it as a charge were one the last man to Know it. Uncool is just that: uncool. Uncool is a violation of not a truth-norm, but a social norm, a ton of human flesh, a jackboot upside the head of the shitnerd too douchey and bad to accept the norms. Blasphemy is Plato; uncool is Protagoras. Wrong vs. bad, blasphemer vs. douche, heretic vs. gross insect. Wracked by the depression of meritlessness (we really need a less clunky word for that; how about anaxia?), the anaxic (hah, see what you can do with these things!) zombifies into coffeeshop politics, theory as social game, coolness as truth. The brotherhood of man rested on common weakness and frailty. Religion can be painful; religion can demand sacrifice; religion can be uncool; but the coffeeshop cannot. The suffering inflicted by coffeeshop-theory involves interaction outside the coffeeshop. This is the difference between a religion and a cult.
Progressivism, with its emphasis on communal solutions, is particularly suited to the coffeeshop: regardless of the truth of their claims, individualists—at least, those who avoid the cultlike absurdities of movements like Objectivism—tend to be stronger people. Part of this is because individualism is uncool, but part is in the nature of the thing. Han Solo could never be an internet communist.
It’s super uncool to not vote. Right there in the video! Before, I was a girl; now I am a woman. Become cool. Obama is cool. Sex is cool. Lena Dunham is cool. Vote Obama because he is cool. Doing otherwise is super uncool. You wouldn’t want to be like these conservative freaks, now would you?