The government “shutdown”

October 21, 2013

Now that it’s over (whatever “it” is), I guess I should say something about the government shutdown.

We should begin by establishing what the heck actually happened. The government employs roughly 4.5 million people.

(This figure has been broken down in lots of different ways, but I’ve never seen any argument against using the total number).

The shutdown began by sending 800,000 of them home, but after a few days, about 400,000 came back to work. A breakdown of those furloughed is here (note the number of furloughed employees looks huge here because huge parts of the government aren’t shown at all).

So, about 400,000 out of 4.5 million people didn’t come to work for a couple weeks. Let’s say that the “shutdown” of government means that about 9% of its workforce doesn’t come to work.

We’re coming out of a recession in which lots of business (that are still going concerns) laid-off a much larger fraction of their workforce. We never considered those places “shutdown.”

It’s also worth pointing out that these employees in many cases kept working, may get paid twice (indeed, even the Outer Party was eager to have it known that it wanted to pay employees to not work), and got paid to do a lot of fun stuff.

We’re left to conclude that nothing was really “shutdown” and no one really has much to complain about.

Besides the freak-out over the “shutdown,” I was also struck by the freak-out about the idea that government “isn’t supposed to work this way.” I find that surprising because – if the shutdown was an honest disagreement as opposed to political theater – it strikes me that if powers are really separated, the shutdown is exactly how government is supposed to work.

If power is really separated, everyone should be grasping eagerly for it. If it’s all a show, we should see one party constantly agreeing to the demands of the other (so much for separation of power – hey, it was a good idea in theory). It seems like we see the latter.




October 21, 2013

My apologies for the lack of content lately. Hopefully you’ll pardon an extra long list of stuff worth reading.

Professor Mansfield on Machiavelli is worth your time. So is John Gray on Leopardi.

– 21st Century Progressivism in one sentence: “One bright, ambitious young philosopher I met at a party says it doesn’t matter if there was a warm consensual romantic relationship. He said the problem of sexual harassment is so rife in philosophy that it is good for someone to be strung up and example to be made.”

– There was some great stuff at More Right while I was away, particularly: Total Reaction, the neoreactionary glossary, and some empirical claims of neoreaction.

Fiat everything

– The thought police go after the comments at YouTube and Scientific American. Gavin McInnes sums up how this feels to me:

Without exception, the outrage was related to Tweets [perhaps the only thing more vapid than comments]. That’s right. Twitter. The place in cyberland where adolescents tell their 13 followers how tired they are and say, “Fuck you faggot” to their friend who refuses to root for Green Bay. You know you’re desperate to find a villain when you have to mine the flippant comments of 500 million users to locate examples. Wow, a teenager named Dallas thinks Indians are Arabs. Oh no, a fat kid named Colton thinks the Miss America contestant did “Egypt dancing.” You know what else teenagers say? “This apartment isn’t zombie-proof.”

America is a communist country. More here. Just for fun, who were the top American communists and was McCarthy right?

– I’m not sure I’m convinced by this argument, but it’s interesting: “The Rationalist Conspiracy suggests, however, that a new elite caste is emerging, in opposition to the rule of the Brahmins: Namely, the Silicon Valley elite are starting to engage in politics, and are forming their own prestige ladders and policy view.”

– Nick B. Steves on Bruce Charlton:

In case it was in doubt over these past couple years, Bruce Charlton is officially un-officially Mormon. (Explicit admission here.) Just as there never was such a thing as Mere, i.e., abstract, Christianity, Charlton is living proof that there is no such thing as Mere Traditionalism, no matter how hard and eloquently one wishes for it. Bruce Charlton, one of the original Orthosphere Players, has declared his loyalties to lie well outside the “Ortho-” part of the Christian religion.

I bear no animosity towards Mormons. Their religion is patently successful in the adaptive sense. (Perhaps even moreso during their “polygamy” phase.) But it is laughably outside the faith as promulgated in the first 1000 years of Christian history. . . .

The biggest irony to me is that Bruce Charlton, who consistently argues, contra Moldbug and the “Secular Right”, that the decay into leftism far predates the Protestant Reformation, that the truest and best expression of Christian society lies in Byzantium and the Eastern Orthodox faith, would fall for an evangelical über-low-church Protestant heresy invented from a whole cloth not 200 years ago.

More good stuff here:

But just because the Church cannot fail to live up to Her original founding principles by promoting no particular political constitution; She certainly can fail to do so by promoting an evil or disordered one. And it certainly looks that way today; what with her popes and bishops gleefully, even if rather awkwardly, tap-dancing in obeisance to the multi-culti, open-borders, Progressivist Zeitgeist. . . .

Progressivism is a memetic virus that evolved out of Protestant Christianity. No institution is immune from it. But clearly some identifiable pockets of resistance exist, and most of these lie within the visible confines of the Church (however plausibly defined). I have long believed that orthodox Christianity’s memetic nearness to Progressivism is a source of strength and resistance to it. At any rate, if there is hope at ridding the world of Progressivism, or hope that humanity will survive its inevitable self-immolation, it seems clear that unaffected (or reclaimed) Christians will be around to play a role in that future, somewhat saner, world.

Yet more here.

Taleb: “Amateurs in any discipline are the best, if you can connect with them. Unlike dilettantes, career professionals are to knowledge what prostitutes are to love.”

– Forney reviews “What is Neoreaction?”

– The civil war never ended.

– A map of Human Accomplishment. I really can’t get over how politically incorrect maps are.

– In case you missed it, alfin is back.

– A sort of book review from Spandrell.

– From feminist-speak to english.

– George Will is shocked to find politics at a powerful governmental organization – this is what passes for Conservative thought these days.

Diversity in Syria and Theden on the Rose Revolution.

– Vice continues it’s Conquestian-progression from actually-interesting organization to mouthpiece-of-the-Cathedral with this piece on “segregation” of the Greek system at the University of Alabama. Meanwhile, every college in the country has black-only fraternities and sororities. I hope no one at Vice was injured in the filming of this piece of hard hitting journalism.

– Wait, I thought there was a Constitutional amendment that prohibited people from eternally selling their labor?

– Legionnaire on the natural aristocracy.


October 21, 2013

In “Further conversation on regime change,” Moldbug defined propaganda as pseudohistory and pseudoscience.

Psuedoscience is (‘round these parts) generally considered this. However, I think that’s too narrow a view. It misses much of the most pernicious pseudoscience of our times, which involves the expansion of the term “science” to cover things that are in no way related to the scientific method.

Peer review is a perfect example of this phenomenon. Peer review isn’t part of the scientific process (unless the reviewers were to actually try to replicate the results of the paper they’re reviewing, which they never do). The process is really no different than the editorial process, which no fool would conflate with science.

The results are surprising to only those not paying attention.

The other obvious example is statistical analysis. Such analysis is mathematical, but that doesn’t make it scientific. Pardon the aside, because what I really want to chat about it pseudohistory.

A couple weeks ago, we got a great example of pseudohistory.

When I was young a lad, I was taught the terrible tale of Matthew Shepard. Mr Shepard was a nice, law-abiding gay man who was beat up and killed by a bunch of redneck, gay-hating thugs. As a young lad, this story made a big impression on me. The sort of people that would do this sort of thing were really out there – they were real.

Although your lying eyes would seem to tell you that most violence is not in fact committed by living and breathing admirers of Hitler, it seemed that – at least sometimes – some violence was.

Except that it wasn’t. Apparently, the Matthew Shepard story was totally bullshit: Chuck has a great summary, which I don’t think I can improve upon. Hopefully he won’t mind if I excerpt a lot his post, because I think a bunch of his points deserve some further analysis:

Jiminez [a dude that just wrote a book about Shepard] spent 10 years researching the book and found lots of evidence showing that Shepard was a low-level meth dealer. At least one of the men who admitted to killing and torturing Shepard was a bisexual lover and drug partner of Shepard’s.

At Breitbart, Lee Stranahan compares the myths surrounding Matthew Shepard, if this news turns out to be true, to that surrounding Trayvon Martin. . . .

The legacy of Matthew Shepard is too deeply entrenched in gay victimization culture for this new information to matter all that much. Society has been marinating in the fable for 15 years. Trayvon Martin was only a one-sided story for a couple of weeks, and there are a lot of people who will consider him the modern-day Emmett Till. Shepard’s story has fueled way too many rallies and has had too much impact on policy, just as Martin’s death will eventually shape gun laws. Hell, a musical was even made in honor of the gay icon. So even if Jiminez’s book is soundly researched and even if objective observers think the findings are true, the book will largely go ignored. It doesn’t matter anyway because none of the policies and energy generated by the initial outrage will be ceded back.

Ultimately, after the surprise at these new revelations wears off, and even if they are largely accepted as truth by the public and by many gays, it will still be a social sin to mention the truth surrounding Shepard’s death. We hear the response “well why do you need to even talk about it?” or “why do you care?” when discussing racial crime statistics or HIV rates among gay males or anything else that makes a celebrated group of people look bad. We care because we care, and we have to point out the truth so gullible progressives will stop being wrong and naive.

If you’re at all open-minded, this sort of shit has to make you wonder. What reporter in his right mind would question the narrative? Doing so is a fast-track to career ruination. The media has been taking sides in these sorts of issues since, well, since democracy was invented. You really can’t trust the historical narrative at all.

For example, I assumed the Emmett Till story was totally true. But I know that the Trayvon Martin narrative is bullshit (thanks exclusively to “reporters” that work entirely outside the mainstream – a recent possibility), and if Martin is exactly like Till – which all the mainstream accounts would have you believe – then is the Till story bullshit, or is it the other way around?

Indeed, it doesn’t take too much digging to turn up some evidence that some of the Civil Rights Era stories may have been a little more complicated than what we were taught in high school. For example, even Wikipedia says Rosa Parks was a plant.

The further I dig into these sorts of stories, the more I tend toward the conclusion that there’s at least as much bullshit as fact in the mainstream versions.

Let’s take a seemingly uncontroversial quote from a mouthpiece of the Cathedral:

Throughout the 1970s and most of the 1980s, the so-called “right wing” was right about virtually everything on the economic front. Most of all communism, but also inflation, taxes, (most of) deregulation, labor unions, and much more, noting that a big chunk of the right wing blew it on race and some other social issues. The Friedmanite wing of the right nailed it on floating exchange rates.

Arguably the “rightness of the right” peaks around 1989, with the collapse of communism. After that, the right wing starts to lose its way.

Did the right, especially the post-Civil Rights Era right really blow it on race? They obviously did in the sense that they lost, and we know who writes history. But that’s a terrible standard of correctness. Both sides made predictions about the future – whose predictions were better?

If we could resurrect a rightist and a leftist from the time and take them to say Detroit, would the leftist turn to the rightist and say, “I told you so?” I’m not so sure. Would they look at maps of racial segregation in cities and conclude that the rightist was wrong? I think there just might be a bit more nuance to the discussion than that.

But, as Chuck notes, the truth doesn’t really matter.

What about other bits of history?

Radish recently did a post on suffrage (go there for all the links, which really does make it much better):

In any case, the point is: anti-suffragist women had a number of reasons to oppose suffrage, none of which involved women being too emotional to make sound decisions. How do those reasons strike you? Don’t worry, you don’t actually need to scroll up and re-read them and think about it and come to your own conclusions, as if this were some kind of homework assignment. That’s what teachers and journalists are for: to tell us which ideas it is socially acceptable to call “true,” sparing us the trouble (and likely embarrassment) of figuring it out on our own. So here’s how they should strike you:

“Some of them might seem silly to you, but they made a lot of sense to people at the time,” reads a 2002 textbook. “Anti-suffragette arguments relied heavily on emotional manipulation and downright hateful nastiness,” explains The Week (2013); “bizarre reasons,” according to The Atlantic (2012). Similarly, this 1988 textbook:

Well, these particular reasons appear to have been chosen to seem ludicrous to us (and it’s not clear that the third one was “taken seriously by a wide cross-section of women”). Are they ludicrous, though? How’s chivalry doing these days?

At least the species isn’t dying out. Ludicrous! Check the fertility rates for 2009. In Afghanistan, for instance, where “women are retreating into public silence to avoid being targeted by extremists:” a robust 7.07. In Guatemala, where “in 2011, some 700 women were murdered, many of whom were also sexually assaulted, their bodies then mutilated and left in public view:” a promising 4.15. In Burkina Faso, where “women and girls continue to be subjected to early marriages and female genital mutilation:” a solid 6.00. In Yemen, where “many young girls” are “pulled out of school to be married for a fee to an older man, often then forced to have sex and endure abuse, both physical and emotional:” an encouraging 5.50. In DR Congo, where “sexual atrocities… extend ‘far beyond rape’ and include sexual slavery, forced incest and cannibalism” (see Radish 2.2): a healthy 6.70.

To put Radish’s point more succinctly: “The antisuffragist activists argued that suffrage would destroy the American family and that suffrage was part of a larger effort of some women to destroy all sexual differences.”

The world is full of many reasonable conclusions. The conclusion that we’re not currently witnessing these very phenomenon is not one of them. Perhaps, it’s purely coincidental that the anti-suffragists seem to have been completely correct – perhaps it just so happened that the outcomes they predicted actually came to pass – but the idea that they were obviously wrong is ludicrous.

Progressives have certainly been wrong before, there’s really no reason to think it was an isolated incident.

The pseudohistory is out there, and it’s harder than ever to distinguish the good from the bad. Honestly, you’re probably better off not reading anything about current events, since it’s basically all pseudohistory. Heck, we don’t even have a good history of the ‘60s yet.

Team names and the thought police

October 3, 2013

The self-appointed heads of the volunteer thought police (people who were previously known as “sports writers” in a more innocent time), have decided that they will no longer refer to Washington DC’s football team by the team’s actual name, Redskins.

I thought it would be fun to go through the remaining 31 NFL team names and try to guess how many of the names will eventually be deemed too-politically-sensitive for hyper-hysterical sports writers.  Without further ado . . .

Dallas Cowobys – Cowboys were not nice to Indians, excuse me, Native Americans.  If you can’t name a team “Redskins” you certainly shouldn’t be able to name a team after their oppressors.

Philadelphia Eagles – This name is not-so-veiled reference to nationalism.  This name probably makes immigrants feel excluded and offended.

Green Bay Packers – I can’t believe a name this homophobic has survived this long.  Surely, this name will be the next to go.

Minnesota Vikings – Might as well be the Minnesota Ayran Nation.

New Orleans Saints – The name “Saints” probably offends Muslims already.  Plus, I’m sure their organization has taken public money, and thus any religious naming convention probably violates the separation of church and state.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – One man’s pirate is another man’s freedom fighter.

New England Patriots – Obviously this name suffers from the same problem as “Eagles.”

Kansas City Chiefs – One could argue that Chiefs is a more respectable term than Redskins, but it seems too racially exclusive and any reference to Native Americans is highly suspect.

Oakland Raiders – See the entry on Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

By my count, that means 10 out of 32 team names are obviously offensive.  If we extend our analysis:

San Francisco 49ers – I don’t know much about the actual ‘49ers, but since they’re old and they lived during a time of slavery, they’re almost certainly racist.

Detroit Lions – There’s a sort of implicit racism associated with naming the team from a predominantly black city after an animal from Africa.

Carolina Panthers – Again, there’s a sort of implicit racism here, since panthers are black and the team is from the South.

Miami Dolphins – Dolphins will probably someday be given rights like people.  At that point, they’ll probably be a protected class – see entry on Kansas City Chiefs.

San Diego Chargers – I don’t know what this name means, but it appears to have something to do with electricity, the generation of which is causing global warming.  Enough said.

Baltimore Ravens – See entries on Detroit and Carolina.  This business of naming teams from predominantly black areas after black animals is starting to seem like sort of mass-racist conspiracy.  I think I’m on to something potentially huge.  (I wonder if this sort of analysis could be extended to Cincinnati, Cleveland and Jacksonville).

Houston Texans – This name relies on exclusionary language, which almost certainly offends someone who is not himself a “Texan.”

By my count that makes 20 of 32 teams that will have to change their name.

Review of “The Last Lion” by Paul Reid

October 1, 2013

Given their distrust of Stalin, why did two such brilliant politicians as Churchill and Roosevelt remain so loyal to an ideological enemy who for almost twenty years had terrorized his own people while declaring capitalism to be his mortal foe?

– Paul Reid

This post is divided into three parts: 1) some brief thoughts on the book; 2) a very long digression on the very interesting question that Reid raises above; and 3) some thoughts on what to make of Churchill.

The Book

William Manchester wrote two volumes of a planned three volume biography of Churchill. He suffered a stroke during his research for the third. He asked Paul Reid to write the last volume.

Manchester was a protege of H. L. Mencken. I very much enjoyed Manchester’s biography of MacArthur and I very much enjoyed the first two volumes of this book.

Churchill leaps off the page and slaps the reader in the face. I remember laughing out loud – a not impressive feat for a massive, multi-volume biography.

Reid’s book is not nearly as good as a biography – frankly, it’s not even close. His Churchill is at times, almost an afterthought to the war narrative, as opposed to the shaper of events that Manchester described.

However, Reid makes up for his less-than-stellar biography skills by being a rather decent military historian (though he does make one absolutely unforgivable omission).

The book sucked me in, not as a biography of Churchill but as a meditation on the question that opens this post – how did Stalin win the peace? Indeed, Reid seems to lose himself (and his subject) in this question. How did FDR and Churchill get pwned by Stalin?

How Did the Soviets Win?

Churchill fought the war to save the empire. Alas, his only strategy for winning the war consisted in getting the US to join the war on his side. The price the US would ultimately demand was the end of the empire.

Churchill once said that if hell would fight Hitler, he’d find something nice to say about the devil. I’m sure he meant it in jest – but it ended up being all too true. A fact Churchill saw well before the war ended and decades before the most brilliant minds in US diplomacy figured it out.

In the end, the story of Churchill is a tragedy. The very values he fought for were compromised by the Allies he ultimately chose. Far from delivering the world into the sun-lit uplands of liberty, his victory delivered most of the world into hands of horrors at least bad – likely worse – than the ones he fought. (Admirers of Manchester – and Mencken – can’t help but think but think Manchester would have delivered something more concrete on this subject at the end of the book).

Thank you, gentle reader, for allowing me such a long preamble. Anyway . . .

The story of the war – in Reid’s telling – is almost nicely split into thirds. In the first third, Britain fights alone. In the second third, Russia does 90% of the fighting. In the last third, the US joins (though Russia still does the vast majority of the fighting and dictates the strategy for all powers combined).

In each third, it’s worth considering why Churchill kept wanting to fight Hitler . . . and whether (in hindsight) he made the right decision considering his original objectives.

The First Third

The mystery of the first third is why Churchill didn’t even consider seeking terms with Hitler during the years Britain fought alone.

Others – Lord Halifax, for example – suggested negotiating peace with Hitler to facilitate “safeguarding the independence of our Empire.” At the time, Churchill viewed these men as appeasers.

Years later, after starvation, bombing, cruelty, death, destitution, the end of the empire, and the deliverance to the Soviets of the very nations Churchill fought to protect, Lord Halifax’s suggestion doesn’t seem so crazy.

On the contrary, statements from Churchill like, “If this Long island story of ours is to end at last, let it end only when each of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground” seem a bit crazy. (Especially since, after an initial scare, there was no prospect of this happening).

Take a moment and imagine the situation for the next few years. France is gone. The Soviets and Hitler have carved up Eastern Europe and are allied. The US has no interest in joining the war, and even if it does it won’t be effective for years. German submarines control the Atlantic and English cities are under bombardment.

To fight is crazy. To fight without even considering some sort of truce is crazier. The Germans were baffled – they had no plans to invade. Hitler was prepared to offer generous terms (no demands of unconditional surrender were made, as was the case in France) to the British.

Yet many, including Jack Colville (who shuddered at the idea of a Nazi victory), thought the prospects afforded by a compromise peach preferable to the prospect of “western Europe racked by warfare and economic hardship; the legacy of centuries, in art and culture, swept away; the health of the nation dangerously impaired by malnutrition, nervous strain and epidemics; Russia and the U.S. profiting from our exhaustion; and at the end of it all compromise or Pyrrhic victory.”

Churchill’s crazy desire to fight was balanced by his absurd prescience. Soon after the French surrendered, he said, “Hitler must invade [England] or fail. If he fails, he is bound to go East [to Russia], and fail he will.”

So he fought on. He had no strategy to win the war, other than to wait for the Soviets and the Americans to be drawn to his side.

Churchill did all he could to milk fears of invasion, which he basically used to build himself an offensive army. His strategy – while he waited – was to harass Hitler and force him to spread out.

Churchill was obsessed with invading Norway – forcing Hitler to keep (and waste) troops there for the entirety of the war. But Churchill’s real obsession was the Mediterranean. Fighting here would keep open the route to India (and keep the empire together), spread Hitler’s forces out, allow his troops to fight Italians and not Germans, maintain access to Middle Eastern oil, and – one suspects – allow him a short route to German soil, if one was ever needed.

All this must be placed against the background of what the British people were suffering. And the peace terms actually achieved at the end of the war.

The Second Third

It would be a measureless disaster if Russian barbarism overlaid the culture and independence of the ancient states of Europe.

– Winston Churchill

And yet it was for this measureless disaster that the war was ultimately fought.

When the Soviets entered the war, it becomes a bit easier to see why the British continued to fight. The bombings slowed dramatically, for example.

It’s worth noting that Churchill tried to warn Stalin several times of German invasion (as did some of the Soviets’ incredibly successful spies). The warnings were unheeded. Stalin would prove to be far more skillful than Churchill, and infinitely more skillful than FDR, in winning the peace (it’s worth how tactically brilliant Stalin was in this regard), however Stalin was caught unprepared by Hitler’s invasion.

Though the Russians seemed vulnerable (Churchill was not among the majority that thought the Soviets would soon be overrun), one can’t help but wonder in retrospect if it would have been better had the Soviets lost.

Churchill had been a long time critic of Communism. I certainly can’t improve upon this: “‘Communism,’ Churchill declared . . ., was ‘Christianity with a tomahawk.'”

We’re left with a confused picture. On one hand, Churchill says,”No one has been a more consistent opponent of communism that I have for the last twenty-five years,” but “all this fades away before the spectacle that is unfolding.” On the other hand, he would later write that, “from 1942 on, he put every strategic decision in the war against Hitler under two lenses: ‘How will it shorten the war, and how will it prevent the Bear from stealing the peace.'”

If this was true, he was smart in 1942, but he lost the peace. Surely, it’s fair to judge a man against his own standards?

He also continued to say, things like, “And in that morning of hope and freedom . . . all that is noble and fearless in the New World as well as in the Old, will salute the rise of Poland to be a nation again.”

Nay nay, but far otherwise, all that is now considered noble allied with the oppressor of Poland.

The Third Third

Churchill did not rise to the bait until Stalin [at Yalta] proposed to shoot at least 50,000 German officers after the surrender in order to ensure Germany’s docility well into the future. “I would rather,” Churchill replied, “be taken out to the garden here and now and be shot myself than sully my own and my country’s honor by such infamy.” Roosevelt then chimed in with a compromise; he suggested that only 49,000 officers be shot. [Whether FDR was joking at the time, or not, both he and Churchill knew of Katyn at the time].

[Later at the conference, FDR]: “Poland has been a source of trouble for over five hundred years.”

So much for America’s best President. At Yalta, he proves himself an ass. Has any other President ever been so absolutely dominated in foreign policy as FDR was at Yalta?

When the US finally joins the war, it does so with – as best as one can decipher – only a few clear war aims: 1) demanding unconditional surrender (of Germany and Japan – aka the only bulwarks against Soviet domination of post-war Europe and Asia); 2) establishing the United Nations; and 3) ending European (excluding Soviet) colonialism.

If you, gentle reader, can come up with a list of war aims that would be more destructive to mankind at the time than those, the next round is on me. Perhaps entirely coincidentally (or perhaps not) these aims would seem to all work towards the direct benefit of the Soviets. It’s almost like Soviets were making US foreign policy.

At this point the book chronicles a huge number of strategic disagreements between the Allies. The Soviets want a big Western Front as soon as possible, preferably in France. The Americans . . . wait for it . . . want a big Western Front as soon as possible, preferably in France. Churchill preferred operations around the periphery of Nazi-occupied areas, culminating in an invasion of the Balkans. (He did briefly support an immediate invasion of France when he thought the Soviets were winning ground very quickly).

As I read it, Churchill was objectively correct during the first couple years of American involvement in the war. American troops would have been crushed if they’d immediately invaded France.

As time wore on, the Soviets and Americans got more impatient and the troops got battle-hardened. At this point, the best action depends on your aims.

If the goal in ’44 was to defeat the Germans as quickly as possible, the Americans and the Soviets were right. If, however, the goal was defeating the Nazis while ensuring the Soviets paid the maximum possible price, Churchill was undoubtedly correct.


What to make of the man?

You can’t help but admire certain aspects of the guy. He would have been a hell of a lot of fun to hang out with, he was right about so many things a long time before anyone else was, and his will included a provision inviting Ian Smith to his funeral (much to the chagrin of the establishment at the time – which Churchill undoubtedly planned).

Churchill was an ardent supporter of British colonialism. For him, “the fact that more than a million Hindu and Muslim men volunteered to serve in defense of India, trumped all criticisms of HMG’s imperial policy.” (While Ghandi was advising them to prostrate themselves before the Japanese invader (and advising Jews to do the same for the Germans)).

Churchill was incredible – old but energetic, worked ridiculously, drank, smoked, flew around the world (“asked the RAF ground crew to customize his oxygen mask in order to allow him to smoke his cigars. The request was dutifully carried out.”)

“When, during his second premiership, his cabinet debated the adoption of new laws limiting West Indian immigration, Churchill proposed his suggestion for a national motto: ‘Keep England White.'”

He believed that “the British alone had managed to combine Empire and Liberty.”

“Churchill believed that had the victors in the Great War fished a Hohenzollern or Hapsburg heir out of oblivion and put him back on the German or Austrian throne to lead a constitutional monarchy, there would have been no Hitler.”

Churchill to an American feminist who criticized British colonialism in India: “Before we proceed further let us get one thing clear. Are we talking about the brown Indians in India, who have multiplied alarmingly under benevolent British rule? Or are we talking about the Red Indians in America, who, I understand, are almost extinct?”

In the House of Commons, Churchill: “I think the Communist Members and fellow travelers have a pretty good run in this House.” Reid notes that this statement goes further than anything Joe McCarthy ever said.

Churchill: “I read with great interest all you have written me about what is colonialism; namely, bringing forth backward races and opening up the jungles.” In India, “with all its history, religion, and ancient forms of despotic rule, Britain has a story to tell which will look quite well against the background of the coming hundred years.”

In a world of pseudo-multiculturalism, it’s worth pausing to marvel at the real thing: “In the Imperial Army: Britons, Canadians, New Zealanders, South Africans, Newfoundlanders, Indians, Ceylonese, Swazi, Mauritians, and Caribbeans.” And, of course, Rhodesians.

On the other hand, it’s really difficult to understand why he fought at the beginning and why he had so much faith in FDR – so much so that one can’t help but wonder if at some point, in his darkest thoughts, he wondered if he’d made a mistake. Churchill did title the last volume of his war memoirs: “Triumph and Tragedy.”

What would a non-propaganda-filled history of WWII look like?

As Reid puts it:

Why did Churchill and Roosevelt during the next three years fail, utterly, to hatch any plans between themselves that addressed the possible – probable, even – consequences to Europe of their alliance with the Soviet dictator? . . . The wonder is not that in late 1941 Churchill foresaw future problems with Stalin, but why he ever could have thought otherwise.

Part of the explanation surely lies with Stalin and FDR. Stalin outsmarted FDR and Chruchill. “He was perhaps the most politically adroit of all the principals, Allied and Axis.”

It was pretty easy to outsmart FDR, who said stuff like, “I think you will not mind me being brutally frank when I tell you that I think I can personally handle Stalin better than either your Foreign Office or my State Department.” Probably true – but not saying much.

FDR is a very odd ally for a guy who wanted to defend the empire – indeed, the Empire didn’t survive very long after the American alliance. Besides tactical differences of opinion, there were numerous post-war differences of opinion. For example, Roosevelt wanted to absolutely dis-aggregate Germany (his vision included five separate states) – Churchill was of the opposite belief. Roosevelt would have gone further and disarmed all of Europe other than England and Russia (even breaking up France). “Churchill’s France, unlike Roosevelt’s France, would reclaim its glory.”

Roosevelt overruled Eisenhower and Churchill and demanded unconditional surrender – prolonging war in Germany and Italy. Churchill desperately wanted to get to Vienna before the Russians, again overruled.

The Germans never seemed to figure out what the heck Churchill was thinking. In the end, it appears that Churchill fought to preserve empire, Roosevelt for financial gain, and Stalin fought for territory. Churchill lost.

Brooke perhaps best sums up the British view of the American strategy: “All right, if you insist on being damned fools, sooner than falling out with you, which would be fatal, we should be damned fools with you, and we shall see that we perform the role of damned fools damned well.”

After Churchill and FDR heard of mass killings in Warsaw: “Churchill proposed cutting off convoys to Russia” . . . “Days later, Moran told his diary, ‘Winston never talks of Hitler these days; he is always harping on the dangers of communism.'”

Churchill had to argue with Eisenhower and FDR about extremely obvious points, for example Churchill actually had to explain the strategic importance of getting to Berlin and not letting Soviets get there alone. FDR replied, “I do not get the point.” Indeed – truer words are hard to come by.

(Before concluding, I must parenthetically note that Reid commits an act of historical malpractice by failing to mention that Harry Hopkins was quite possibly a Soviet agent.

Hopkins was Churchill’s main contact with FDR’s aides – they really spoke more than Churchill and FDR. Surely, the fact Hopkins was potentially a Soviet agent deserves a mention. Arguably, it changes everything).

Of course, you can always go a bit further down the rabbit hole of real WWII history:

Similarly, American historians overlook the obvious fact that Alger Hiss could have done nothing without FDR’s personal permission, and mistake the Hiss-Hopkins backchannel to the KGB for a case of “espionage” – not even considering the idea that FDR, the New Deal, or America as a whole could be seen as generally guilty for our collaboration, concealment, and general complicity with Stalin’s enormous crimes.

It’s hard to blame to Churchill for not figuring that out.

Why now?

September 29, 2013

Nick Land is looking for feedback on a series of questions about the Dark Enlightenment here.

I’d like to take a stab at the “why now” question.

One of the key realizations of the Dark Enlightenment is that progressivism has been beating its opponents for centuries. This concept is difficult to grasp because 1) none of us have lived through centuries and 2) since progressives always win, they always get to write the history.

One of the necessary conditions for a Dark-Enlightenment-style movement was something like this or this.

Every neoreactionary I’ve met seems to have 1) at some point discovered the old books on and 2) studied science or engineering. Make of that what you will.

I recently listened to this set of lectures. Many of the people cited in the lectures qualify as reactionaries (in the archives I’ve reviewed many of their books). The history of conservatism seems to be: 1) develop of a set of ideas; 2) have your ideas crushed; and 3) develop a new set of ideas and apologize for the first set. Repeat forever.

At some point, once this information was all readily available for nothing, someone was bound to piece this all together – assuming such a person could consume a huge amount of information and synthesize it into something meaningful.

Breaking: Economists discover the law of supply and demand

September 29, 2013

See here and here.

I wonder if the “blockbuster” paper cited Pat Buchanan.