Monday, August 28, 2017

Where is the Outrage?

So reports the Los Angeles Times. 

Some Trump supporters planned a protest; some others showed up in counter-protest.  I will say up front, the rest of this post will shock you; not for what happened, but for the reporting when considering the source. 

As I have mentioned, I normally don’t react immediately to such events.  But the news here is the source as much as it is the event.

I will let the Times reporters speak (mostly) for themselves:

…it was soon punctuated by tear gas and a scattering of violent skirmishes. Some anti-fascist protesters, wearing black and with their faces covered, chased or beat Trump supporters and organizers…

Wait…who chased and beat whom?  Who started the violence?

Officers reported 14 arrests, many of them for violations of the city’s emergency rules banning masks, sticks and potential weapons inside the demonstration area.

Some in Berkeley worried that Sunday’s chaos, captured on video and quickly disseminated through social media, would provide unwanted ammunition to Trump and his supporters.

You think?

…the demonstration of more than 4,000 people pulled heavily from area labor unions, church groups and liberal activists — but also scores of young people clad in all black, some carrying shields and others with bandanas pulled over their faces.

Church groups….

Those activists are sometimes referred to as “antifa”…

What were these “antifa” counter-protestors there to counter-protest?

The counter-demonstrators were in the city to protest the “Say No to Marxism in America” rally, police said.

I guess this means anyone who supports these counter-protestors is saying yes to Marxism in America.

Anti-fascist protesters also beat one person wearing an American flag.

Because, you know, Nazi fascists display American flags.

Some threatened to break the cameras of anyone who filmed them, including journalists.

Maybe this is why we get an honest report?

One counter-protester, in tears, said she worried that Sunday’s event would be tied to violence.

Why would that be?


Another, who helped break up a fight, was upset over the altercations.  “We need to get antifa out of here,” said Jack Harris, 20, of San Francisco.

No, little Jack Harris, you just need to stop associating with criminals and thugs.

Musings on Left-Libertarians

A couple of thoughts that have popped into my head….

Are Left-Libertarians Anti-Semites?

Just letting my mind wander while waiting for the flood of posts in defense of open borders for Israel

Consider the following premises, all valid in the left-libertarian world:

1)      Libertarianism is universal
2)      Libertarianism is cosmopolitan
3)      Libertarianism requires open borders

So…if left-libertarians do not support open borders for Israel, I ask: what do you have against Jews?  Why withhold from them this universal, cosmopolitan…well, let me be the one to say it…culture-enhancing possibility?

On the other hand, if left-libertarians support open borders for Israel, well…no guards, no checkpoints, no nothing between the West Bank and Jerusalem or between Gaza City and Ashqelon?  Nothing but big fat “Welcome Neighbors” signs?  El Al Airlines – come and go as you please; we don’t even scan your luggage?  Nothing?

Do you think there might be more than a few Jews who consider such open-borders-for-Israel-left-libertarians to be anti-Semites?

Anyway, just something to ponder while we wait.

A Possible Formula

Libertarianism minus a generally accepted culture equals communism

I’ll bet you never thought anyone could turn a subjective concept into an objective formula before, did you?

Sure, economists have tried, but they have never had any success.  I think my formula will stand the test of time.

Friday, August 25, 2017


This post will only begin with Charlottesville; it will thereafter flow into other topics – I think all related, flowing through the same stream.


On the day of the events many stories were told, all parroting some version of the mainstream narrative: white supremacists and Nazis did it; everyone else there just wanted peace. 

I decided at the time not to comment: most importantly, I was certain that whatever we heard in the mainstream was a lie, so why not let things settle a bit before opening my mouth; second, I guess I would consider myself more of a journalist than a reporter.  There are so many people so much better than I am at putting together the facts, almost real time.

One sign of a politically developed conscious, in my view, is that one never believes the initial reports regarding events such as these.  This would be, or should be, especially true for a libertarian…wouldn’t it?  Skepticism of government and mainstream narratives has been proven prudent almost universally. 

This didn’t stop the same-day reaction of one of the more well-known left-libertarian pundits.  I didn’t know everything about the events (I still don’t), but I knew enough to know his story was nonsense.

We do know that the people taking the blame for the events were the only people who had a permit that day.  We do know that they worked with the city to ensure proper security.  We do know that others came to counter this group, with no permit to gather.  We do know that there were people on both sides who were armed. 

We do know that the police did not keep the two groups separate.  We do know that the police stood down when the fighting began, and for an extended time thereafter.

We don’t know why this was handled by the city and the police as it was – contrary to what the organizers attempted to achieve.

This is about the part of this post where I am supposed to write: “of course, I am not a Nazi.”  Of course.

Anyway, that’s enough about that.

Libertarians and Culture

I suspect that over the last two years I have written more about this (broadly defined) topic than any other, and more about it than anyone else has over the same period.  For whatever that’s worth.

Doing so has taken me to many places: exploring the left, understanding better the split in the libertarian community, the value of culture (and certain types of culture) in reducing government, immigration and border controls, etc.

Doing so has been, and continues to be, one of my more intellectually satisfying pursuits at this blog.  I have learned much both because I learn when I write and because I learn when I receive feedback to what I write.

Doing so has also been one of the more frustrating pursuits at this blog: too many points and questions raised are ignored – ignored by people who hold different views and who I know have read my comments.

Doing so has broadened the audience of this blog – not that I write for this reason.  Some would describe many of the individuals who offer feedback here as “alt-right,” even fascist.  As long as they remain respectful toward others in my community, I care not about this.

In any case, I find such terms kind of useless.  I have concluded that “alt-right” means nothing more than taking exception to one or more of the planks of the progressive agenda.  It isn’t more complicated than this.

For example: Mitch McConnell is right, but isn’t alt-right.  He doesn’t take exception to the progressive agenda.  Donald Trump is (or…was) alt-right; the positions he took during the campaign, almost every single one, was contrary to the progressive agenda.

Speaking of Interesting Feedback….

So, I recently had an interesting comment, offered by Unhappy Conservative (2.0) August 19, 2017 at 4:26 PM:

"Those who want to live, let them fight, and those who do not want to fight in this world of eternal struggle do not deserve to live."

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Rivals Masquerading as Allies

Co-opt Russia or destabilize Russia and cause chaos along its entire frontier – this has been the foreign policy of first Britain, then the United States, for well over 100 years.  It continues even today.

Previously, Frankopan offered an overview regarding Britain’s concern of the threat created by Russia against her empire.  In his view, this was perhaps the primary cause of the Great War.  Frankopan goes on to develop some of the specifics:

…Russia’s influence and involvement in the east continued to expand at accelerating speed as it developed its own Silk Roads.  The construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway, and the connection with the Chinese Eastern Railway, led to an immediate boom in trade, with volumes nearly trebling between 1895 and 1914.

In 1895, Russia established the Russo-Chinese bank, via its embassy in Paris and capitalized by Russia and France.  The bank opened an office in Shanghai shortly thereafter.  This bank helped finance the Chinese Eastern Railway.

In 1894, before the railways had opened up new possibilities, more than 80 per cent of all customs revenue collected in China was paid by Britain and British companies – whose ships also carried more than four-fifths of China’s total trade. 

Better developed trade routes by land throughout this “world island” would reduce the value (and leverage) of the trade routes via the British-controlled seas and ports. 

It was obvious that Russia’s rise, and that of the new land routes that would bring produce to Europe, would come at Britain’s expense.

Further, there was tremendous untapped wealth in this world island – wealth that could drastically shift the global balance of power.  As Russian Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin told the Duma in 1908:

“Our distant and inhospitable frontier territory is rich in gold, woods, furs, and immense spaces suitable for agriculture.”

It was during this time, in the late 1890s, that Russia began to take steps to woo Persia.  At a time when the mountains effectively blocked Russia from Afghanistan (and, hence, India), Persia offered a clear pathway to Britain’s crown jewel of the sub-continent.

By this time, Russia had already built the Trans-Caspian Railway, skirting the northern borders of both Persia and Afghanistan.  By 1900, there were those in Russia advocating the development of connecting lines into each of these neighboring countries – and the British knew this. 

At the same time that Britain faced these concerns, Russia was undergoing internal turmoil.  Strikes in St. Petersburg in 1905 were only a foreshadowing – with the Tsar considering to flee Russia.  After the disastrous outcome of the Russo-Japanese War, there were concerns in Russia about the effect on the population if further wars were pursued – a revolution, perhaps.  Then, as now, the threats posed by Russia may have been exaggerated in order to secure other agendas.

Nevertheless, if Russia was to develop its “distant and inhospitable frontier territory,” and connect it via rail to trading locations east, west, and south, this would be a damaging blow to Britain.

Britain’s position in the east was limited and dangerously exposed.  What was needed was the reorientation of Russia’s focus away from this region altogether.

And with this, perhaps, one will find the root cause for the Great War in Europe – a root cause just waiting for an exploitable event.  Onto the stage steps the soon-to-be appointed Foreign Secretary, Sir Edward Gray:

In a bold statement given to The Times just a month before his appointment at the end of 1905, he made it clear that there would be much to gain if an understanding could be reached about “our Asiatic possessions.”  No British government, he said, would “make it its business to thwart or obstruct Russia’s policy in Europe.”  It was “urgently desirable,” therefore, “that Russia’s position and influence” should be expanded in Europe – and diverted, in other words, from Asia.

Britain desired alliance with Russia in order to get Russia focused in Europe, which meant, ultimately, a war in Europe that would consume Russia.  When looked through this lens, many subsequent events make sense.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Silk Roads to the Great War

In this part of the story, Frankopan will intersect with Halford Mackinder without ever mentioning his name.  Mackinder gave a presentation in 1904.  To summarize: the coming (from his vantage point) struggle is for the Eurasian landmass – the world island.  My most extensive review of his work can be found here. 

I have long felt that his views best capture the geo-political struggle for empire; his views best explain the reasons for the wars of the last one-hundred years.  To summarize Mackinder: whoever controls this world island will control the world; I posit a corollary, or maybe a fallback position: whoever prevents anyone from controlling this world island has a chance to control the world. 

Co-opt Russia or destabilize Russia.

With that, we are now ready to cover Frankopan’s views of the road to the Great War, World War One.  From Frankopan:

…it was not a series of unfortunate events and chronic misunderstandings in the corridors of power in London, Berlin, Vienna, Paris and St. Petersburg that brought empires to their knees, but tensions over the control of Asia that had been simmering for decades.  It was not Germany’s spectre that lay behind the First World War; so too did that of Russia – and above all the shadow that it cast on the east.  And it was Britain’s desperate attempt to prevent this shadow growing that played an important note in bringing the world to war.

Forgive the long cite, but you must admit that you have never read anything like this in school: the root (or, at least, a major root) cause of the war was Britain wanting to push back on Russia, to keep Russia in check. (Emphasis added…for emphasis.)

Finding a convincing reason for this war – and the assassination of an Austrian prince is not convincing – has proven elusive to many, certainly to me.  Maybe one will be found here.

Frankopan traces the roots back to one hundred years before the war.  Russia began extending its frontiers to include various regions and peoples of Central Asia: the Kyrgyz, the Kazaks, and the Oirats.  The respective leaders were rewarded handsomely by St. Petersburg if they would support the Russian expansion.

Then there was the south: the Ottoman Empire.  Russia secured major concessions, including Bessarabia and major areas around the Caspian Sea.  Then on, beyond the Caucasus to Persia.  At one point, to appease the Tsar after a tense event, the Persian Shah sent off the ninety carat Shah Diamond – once hanging above the throne of the emperors of India – to St. Petersburg.

Russian intellectuals explored the question: is Russia’s future to be found in the west or in the east?  Themes of the east were to be found in Russian music of the nineteenth century; Dostoevskii wrote with passion that Russia should not only engage with the east but embrace it:

In a famous essay entitled “What is Asia to Us?,” he argued in the late nineteenth century that Russia had to free itself from the shackles of European imperialism.  In Europe, he wrote, we are hangers-on and slaves; in Asia, “we go as masters.”

What does any of this have to do with Great Britain and the Empire?  Egypt, India, Afghanistan, passages to the Far East: all at risk, with Afghanistan seen as the key – the key to Britain’s crown jewel of India.

As far as policy in Asia is concerned, wrote Lord Ellenborough, a senior figure in the Duke of Wellington’s Cabinet in the 1820s, Britain’s role was simple: “to limit the power of Russia.”

British envoys to the various at-risk regions were rejected – or decapitated; while in retreat from Afghanistan to India, a British column was attacked and annihilated in the winter snow – legend held that only one man survived.

The British intended to teach the Russians a lesson.  The Crimean War was an outlet for this desire.  The result of the war: a Russian defeat, continued Ottoman decline, and the French as the leading power on the continent.  This was cemented by The Treaty of Paris in 1856:

The aim was to humiliate Russia and to strangle its ambitions.  It had the opposite effect – this was a Versailles moment, where the settlement was counter-productive and had dangerous consequences.

Russia learned the shortcomings of its army, and extensive reforms were implemented.  Further, the Tsar abolished serfdom.  Russia’s growth during the second half of the nineteenth century was impressive: iron production surged five-fold in just 20 years; rails connected the vast reaches of the empire.

Russia redoubled efforts in Persia and Afghanistan and the various khanates between it and India.  The missions paid dividends, as hundreds of thousands of square miles of territory were brought under its control, without force, within fifteen years of the end of the war. 

These efforts were followed by incorporation of Tashkent, Samarkand, and Bukhara as well as much of the Fergana valley – all protectorates or vassals of St. Petersburg.

Russia was building its own massive trade and communication network, which now connected Vladivostok in the east to the frontier with Prussia in the west, and the ports of the White Sea in the north to the Caucasus and Central Asia in the south.

In 1867, Russia sold Alaska to the United States.  Frankopan sees this as an embarrassing decision; it is possible it was nothing more than a realistic appraisal.  Land army or sea power: where was Russia’s relative strength to be found?

And it was in this environment that Halford Mackinder gave his presentation.  And it was with this background in mind that Frankopan suggests that the roots of the Great War were not to be found in the capitals of Europe, but in Asia; not to be found in the overt alliance between Britain and Russia but in the covert machinations of the so-called Great Game between Britain and Russia.

And this will be the story for next time.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Jordan Peterson and the Bible

As many of you are aware, I have been watching the series by Jordan Peterson, The Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories.  I have written a couple of posts commenting on certain statements made by Peterson and insights gleaned by me.

With this post, I will capture several different tidbits, taken from several of the videos.  I am focused on his points about culture, albeit he makes dozens of other equally insightful points.  I do not attempt to cite Peterson word for word; I merely attempt to capture the substance. 

I will not link to each video separately; I suggest that if you find the following of interest, take the time and watch the videos…which will take a real commitment, as the total runs about 25 hours.

I must say up front, this experience has been eye-opening for me.  Not so much for what I am learning (although this is extremely valuable), but because of how I have not considered these early chapters of the Bible previously.

What do I mean?  The Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah and the Flood, Abraham, the Tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah…I am not sure to describe how I considered these people and events.  I know how I didn’t consider these; I didn’t consider these in the way presented by Peterson.

And, like a few other moments in my intellectual and emotional life, I immediately went through an “aha” moment almost from Peterson’s first words.

Whether one believes these stories and events are the Word of God, infallible and literal history, or whether one believes these stories and events capture an oral tradition going back countless millennia…in either case, it was kind of stupid of me to believe that there weren’t some tremendously important meanings in these stories beyond the surface.

If it is God speaking, why didn’t I expect more?  If it is man capturing oral tradition going back tens of thousands of years, why wouldn’t I expect something more?

Finally…it seems reasonable for me to suggest: Peterson’s views on the value of culture to civil society, the value of maintaining culture in order to avoid tyranny…let’s just say he is eminently more qualified than I am to make such points.  More to the point: he is eminently more qualified on this topic than any mouthpiece on the left (to include left-libertarians).

Of course, the Cultural Marxists understand this.  Then again, I may be biased as I find his views and my views overlap considerably.

From Peterson:

When you are going through a book like the Bible and you come across a phrase that you don’t understand, that actually means you missed something.  It doesn’t mean that that’s not germane to the story…it means you’re stupid.

This is clear to me now.

What is interesting is that the “something more,” as explained by Peterson, fits very nicely into my views of the importance of culture and tradition.  Whether you believe this history is handed down from God or from man’s dawn of time, this is probably important.  Not important because it matches my views; important because of the source – either source: God or tradition.

Being critical of the culture is OK if your objective is to separate the wheat from the chaff; not OK if your intent is to burn the entire field.

In all views of what is described today as the left: from Gramsci and the Cultural Marxists to the left-libertarians, this is their intent: to burn the entire field.

Destroy a culture and you will end up with tyranny.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Jeffrey Tucker for National Review

Your reaction to the title is telling….I will get to this shortly.

I am going on a bit of a Jeffrey Tucker run.  I came across his article on the event in Charlottesville (which I covered here), which then led me to some other recent work of his.

Tucker asks: Do You Know What a Nation Is?   Of course, being a reasonably subjective concept, I think there will never be a precise answer.  Tucker still goes looking for one.  He wrote this on the occasion of the recent July 4 anniversary.  This reason I mention this will be apparent shortly.

Tucker outlines five theories of “nation,” taken from an 1882 essay by “the great French historian Ernst Renan”:

·        Dynasty: begins with family and tribe, kin – becoming king.  Marriages, wars, treaties and alliances. 
·        Religion: a common faith.
·        Race: biological characteristics.
·        Language
·        Geography

Tucker dismisses them all.  I am not kidding.  While the idea of nation is certainly subjective, we at least know some of the variables that define it.  Each of the five listed above, to varying degrees, can – and has and still does – play a role.

Can we identify any single factor to account for people’s sense of attachment to a political community?

This is a question designed to dismiss all of the ways by which “nation” is to be found.  Of course the answer is “no.”  Only a simpleton would think in this manner.  Tucker is no simpleton; therefore it seems he believes his audience is made up of simpletons. 

Tucker holds each of these five to an impossible standard.  He is looking for one single characteristic that will explain this most complex social relationship.  Can’t be done.

But he does!

In Renan’s view, nationhood is a spiritual principle, a reflection of the affections we feel toward some kind of political community – its ideals, its past, its achievements, and its future. Where your heart is, there is your nation.

But somehow, family, religion, race, language and geography can play no role? 

So, what does Tucker describe as the ideal “nation” scenario?

This is why so many of us can feel genuine feelings of joy and even belongingness during July 4th celebrations.

One of the most war-mongering, state-worshipping holidays (yes, a holy day); this is Tucker’s ideal.

It is all about affections of the heart, which appear without compulsion and exist prior to and far beyond any loyalties to a particular dynasty, regime, or anything else.

This could have been written at the National Review.

I have seen these affections of the heart – at every sports event, every holiday celebration.  There is nothing of peace or freedom to be found in these.  The most massive, coercive government ever known in the west that has indoctrinated its citizens from youth through adulthood; this group of people has come to this feeling “without compulsion”?


You cannot replace something with nothing.  Tucker finds nation in something other than family, religion, race, language or geography; in other words, something outside of a common culture.  This is the work of Antonio Gramsci and of the Frankfurt School of Cultural Marxists that followed him.

What will replace this common culture?  Tucker believes this will be replaced by “feelings of joy” and “affections of the heart.”

Folly.  Destroy a culture and you get tyranny.  If the 20th century didn’t teach Tucker this, let’s just say that the non-compulsive compulsive state education and propaganda machine did its work well on him.

You cannot replace something with nothing.  All Tucker is left with is state worship. 

He says so himself.  On the fourth of July.


Ernst Renan gave a lecture in 1882: What is a Nation?  Some interesting quotes:

Nature has made a race of workers, the Chinese race, who have wonderful manual dexterity and almost no sense of honor... A race of tillers of the soil, the Negro; treat him with kindness and humanity, and all will be as it should; a race of masters and soldiers, the European race.

Interesting, for someone who, according to Tucker, believes race plays no role in nation.

Some other quotes:

Communism is in conflict with human nature.

Tell that to the left.

All history is incomprehensible without Christ.

While Renan’s views on Christ differ from mine, nonetheless I agree fully with this statement.

But…religion has nothing to do with nation.