The Dark Ages, new and improved!

The Z-man doesn’t get the etymological origin of the term “Dark Ages” quite right, but he raises a good question about whether the West has already entered another one:

That’s a good point to wonder if the West has not already entered a new dark age, in which superstition rules over rationality. The concept of the microaggression is something superstitious people living in a dark age would have understood. After all, a microaggression is the idea that certain words and phrases, incantations, will cause a miasma to develop around the people saying and hearing the words. This miasma or evil spirit will cause those exposed to react involuntarily and uncontrollably.

In fact, everything about political correctness and multiculturalism relies on oogily-boogily that people in the dark age of Europe would have found ridiculous. The people of Europe in the middle ages may not have had a sophisticated understanding of the natural world, but they did not think the dirt had magical qualities. Magic Dirt Theory would have struck them as laughably ridiculous. They may not have understood cognitive science, but they knew the apple does not fall far from the tree.

As I explained in TIA, Petrarch’s term was the reversal of an earlier Christian perspective of the time before the coming of the Light of the World by an embittered Italian patriot looking at the ruins of the Roman Empire and despairing of the relatively barbaric German domination of his time.

Which is hauntingly similar to the situation which the people of the West may soon be facing. That is why it is so important to preserve knowledge now. Barbarians have never cared about building or minded living amidst filth, which is why we are already at the point where the fate of our indoor plumbing is in doubt.

It’s not enough to know about things. It’s not even enough to know how to maintain them. It is vital to learn how to design, develop, and build things if civilized society is to be preserved. We’re already bringing back the Junior Classics, but perhaps we also need to create a new series, Core Civilization, comprised of books that teach the core basics of everything from architecture to gardening and water engineering. Because it’s clearly time to begin thinking about these things.

I started to think about those people living in the Roman Empire wondering why the water no longer comes from the big stone thingy anymore. Some may have remembered their ancestors working on them for some reason, but they no longer recall why. The people who knew how and why those aqueducts worked were long gone. No one was around who could figure out how to make them work again, because they lacked the capacity to do it.

Nothing works anymore: construction edition

Forget bridges, highways, and high-speed trains. Major US cities can’t even build simple buildings without drama anymore:

A large portion of a Hard Rock Hotel under construction in New Orleans collapsed Saturday morning, killing at least two people and injuring 20 others, authorities said. The building bordering the city’s historic French Quarter is considered unstable and officials said further collapse is possible.

Three people were initially reported missing, though one has since been found, according to the New Orleans Fire Department. Authorities said no one on the ground was injured in the collapse.

According to Mayor LaToya Cantrell, 112 people were in the building at the time of collapse. Though the search for those missing was suspended for the evening, Cantrell confirmed that rescuers found two bodies but were unable to retrieve them.

VFM Bear said it best: it’s the indoor plumbing that I’m going to miss the most.

Import the Third World, become the Third World. This really isn’t that hard. Ain’t immigration and diversity grand?

So it turns out the guy behind the collapsed Hard Rock hotel, Praveen Kailas  was previously convicted of ripping off the state, and was allegedly cutting corners by employing unqualified labor.

Big Bird has a problem

Or so it would appear:

Never a show to shy from tough subjects, “Sesame Street” is tackling America’s opioid epidemic head on, revealing that Karli, the little green Muppet with yellow hair, was in foster care because her mother suffered from addiction.

When the children’s show returns for its 50th season, Karli will explain that her mom “was away for a while because she had a grown-up problem.”

Never fear, Bert and Ernie can adopt her after getting gay-married, right? Nothing is safe anymore. Pop culture is filth.

Aquinas on usury

As is so often the case, it profits those of us whose understanding of a given topic is insufficient to consider what Thomas Aquinas has to say on the subject:

To take usury for money lent is unjust in itself, because this is to sell what does not exist, and this evidently leads to inequality which is contrary to justice. In order to make this evident, we must observe that there are certain things the use of which consists in their consumption: thus we consume wine when we use it for drink and we consume wheat when we use it for food. Wherefore in such like things the use of the thing must not be reckoned apart from the thing itself, and whoever is granted the use of the thing, is granted the thing itself and for this reason, to lend things of this kin is to transfer the ownership. Accordingly if a man wanted to sell wine separately from the use of the wine, he would be selling the same thing twice, or he would be selling what does not exist, wherefore he would evidently commit a sin of injustice. On like manner he commits an injustice who lends wine or wheat, and asks for double payment, viz. one, the return of the thing in equal measure, the other, the price of the use, which is called usury.

On the other hand, there are things the use of which does not consist in their consumption: thus to use a house is to dwell in it, not to destroy it. Wherefore in such things both may be granted: for instance, one man may hand over to another the ownership of his house while reserving to himself the use of it for a time, or vice versa, he may grant the use of the house, while retaining the ownership. For this reason a man may lawfully make a charge for the use of his house, and, besides this, revendicate the house from the person to whom he has granted its use, as happens in renting and letting a house.

Now money, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. v, 5; Polit. i, 3) was invented chiefly for the purpose of exchange: and consequently the proper and principal use of money is its consumption or alienation whereby it is sunk in exchange. Hence it is by its very nature unlawful to take payment for the use of money lent, which payment is known as usury: and just as a man is bound to restore other ill-gotten goods, so is he bound to restore the money which he has taken in usury.

The Philosopher is Aristotle. And it’s worth noting how, centuries ago, Aquinas logically concluded the inevitable consequences that we are empirically observing, which is that taking usury for money lent will lead to an unjust form of inequality.

Contrary to the assertion of economists like Murray Rothbard, the gradual acceptance of usury across the West was not a civilizational advance, but rather, a slow descent into misrule and barbarism.

America as Chinatown

Thanks to President Trump, Maureen Dowd just noticed that the USA is corrupt:

Forget it, America. It’s Chinatown.

Washington, once the guarantor of American values, is a crime scene. This capital of white marble is now encircled by yellow tape, rife with mendacity, cowardice and corruption. It’s Chinatown on the Potomac.

Robert Towne, the screenwriter of the 1974 classic “Chinatown,” wrote the movie as a eulogy to great things that were lost. He said that he was not conjuring a place on a map but a state of mind: the futility of good intentions.

Or, as Raymond Chandler, the premier chronicler of Los Angeles noir, once wrote: “We still have dreams, but we know now that most of them will come to nothing. And we also most fortunately know that it really doesn’t matter.”

This is hardly news to Generation X, let alone Generation Z. But it’s interesting to see that Baby Boomers may be finally losing their childlike faith in The System. Regardless, Baby Boomer columns like Dowd’s are increasingly out-of-touch, referencing as they do former cultural touchstones like 45-year-old movies that are completely foreign to the three younger generations, to say nothing of the immigrants and children of immigrants.

A game designer gets it

The designer of Sense: A Cyberpunk Ghost Story has some excellent advice that sounds rather familiar:

Widdowson then puts forth four tactics, “never apologize,” cease any support for “people that engage in this behavior (on all sides),” minimize “engagement with these people,” and speak “with your wallets,” and states that these tactics are “the only way to stop this stuff from happening”:

“– Never apologize to the mob, if enough people stop doing the corporate non-apology, or the “I’m sorry, I’m woke now”-apology then the mob loses it’s power and the “game” stops being exciting for the hangers-on. An apology is a vindication, a self-defeat, a statement saying you acknowledge you did something worth an apology. Don’t do it.

– Stop supporting the people that engage in this behavior (on all sides), and stop supporting the companies that employ them. Money talks, eventually…

– Minimize engagement with these people. Starve them of attention; make them feel like they are screaming into a void of exactly 0 people that care. Remember, these people subsist purely on outrage, anger, and discomfort. You don’t have to. So if you really need to engage with these people though, make sure you do it in a way that benefits you. We’ve connected with some great fans and new customers thanks to this.

– Speak with your wallets, if you see a large company bend the knee to the mob, stop giving them your money at all. You don’t need the next AAA  EA/Activision/whoever published game, but they certainly need your money. You guys have 100{20631733b5a15c3694dbfcf360b60a1948a54005354f1d1bb00d126531fe1735} of the power. Never, ever forget that you determine actual success regardless of what those in “power” redefine that word to mean.”

Minimizing engagement and voting with your wallet are the two most important points. The evil power of the Devil Mouse would be significantly reduced if idiot conservatives would simply stop going to Disneyland and buying tickets to Disney-produced movies. Hollywood would be significantly less able to influence minds all over the planet if the people it hates would stop paying for its increasingly horrendous products.

No wonder they harbor such contempt for the men and women of the West. Far too many of us not only materially support, but actually pride ourselves on, destroying our own interests and our own societies.

The clueless and short-sighted elite

Peter Turchin explains that the US elite is working off of inaccurate and misleading social models:

Last year I had an interesting conversation with someone I’ll call the Washington Insider. She asked me why my structural-demographic model predicted rising instability in the USA, probably peaking with a major outbreak of political violence in the 2020s. I started giving the explanation based on the three main forces: popular immiseration, intra-elite competition, and state fragility. But I didn’t get far because she asked me, what immiseration? What are you talking about? We’ve never lived better than today. Global poverty is declining, child mortality is declining, violence is declining. We have access to the level of technology that is miraculous compared to what previous generations had. Just look at the massive data gathered together by Max Rosen, or read Steven Pinker’s books to be impressed with how good things are.

There are three biases that help sustain this rosy view. First, the focus on global issues. But the decrease of poverty in China (which is what drives declining global poverty, because Chinese population is so huge), or the drop in child mortality in Africa, is irrelevant to the working America. People everywhere compare themselves not to some distant places, but to the standard of living they experienced in their parents home. And the majority of American population sees that in many important ways they are worse off than their parents (as we will see below).

Second, the Washington Insider talks to other members of the 1 percent, and to some in the top 10 percent. The top-income segments of the American population have done fabulously in the last decades, thank you very much.

Third, many economic statistics have to be taken with a grain of salt. Government agencies are often under substantial political pressure to put a positive spin on the statistics they publish. Many economists work hard to please the economic elites and other powers-that-be, because that’s how you get ahead in that profession. Fortunately, there are enough “heterodox” economists who provide us with alternative views. This all doesn’t mean that statistics are worse than “damn lies”; on the contrary, one cannot make sense about where we are headed without statistics. The point here is that one needs to understand why different statistics may give us different answers.

This is more than a little reminiscent of the Boomer cluelessness that simply can’t grasp the significance of a rise in tuition from 500/semester to 15,000/semester when wages have not risen. Not a single American cares about the rising Chinese standard of living when his own has declined, and declined significantly in comparison with his parents.

What we’ve witnessed over the last 50 years is the mass transfer of American wealth and property title from the middle classes to the elite of the US elite. These indicates that revolution is coming, sooner or later, in one way or another. Right now, the average citizen is content with Taco Bell and Netflix… but Netflix is becoming less entertaining with every season that passes.

The problem, of course, is one of labor oversupply.

The American economy has been operating under the conditions of labor oversupply since roughly the 1970s. The main causes were immigration, the entry of massive numbers of baby boomers and women into the labor force, the export of jobs overseas.
– Peter Turchin

Don’t let them leave

After the wall across the southern border is built, a second one needs to be built on the California border:

Just over half of California’s registered voters have considered leaving the state, with soaring housing costs cited as the most common reason for wanting to move, according to a new poll. Young voters were especially likely to cite unaffordable housing as a reason for leaving, according to the latest latest UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll conducted for the Los Angeles Times. But a different group, conservatives, also frequently suggested they wanted to leave — and for a very different reason: They feel alienated from the state’s political culture.

They defecated all over their collective bed. Better they be sentenced to enjoy the hellhole they created rather than be permitted to travel elsewhere and recreate it.

This is why no city, state, or country should ever permit any immigrant, or his children, or his children’s children, to vote. People are very bad at understanding causality and they tend to prefer the familiar, so despite the apparent senselessness of this behavior, it is not difficult to understand why emigrants reliably attempt to recreate the very conditions they sought to escape.

The fall of the neoliberal order

The demoralization of Europe is complete with a declaration by the President of France concerning the end of Western hegemony.

The international order is being shaken in an unprecedented manner, above all with, if I may say so, by the great upheaval that is undoubtedly taking place for the first time in our history, in almost every field and with a profoundly historic magnitude. The first thing we observe is a major transformation, a geopolitical and strategic re-composition. We are undoubtedly experiencing the end of Western hegemony over the world.

We were accustomed to an international order which, since the 18th century, rested on a Western hegemony, mostly French in the 18th century, by the inspiration of the Enlightenment; then mostly British in the 19th century thanks to the Industrial Revolution and, finally, mostly American in the 20th century thanks to the two great conflicts and the economic and political domination of this power. Things change. And they are now deeply shaken by the mistakes of Westerners in certain crises, by the choices that have been made by Americans for several years which did not start with this administration, but which lead to revisiting certain implications in conflicts in the Middle East and elsewhere, and to rethinking a deep, diplomatic and military strategy, and sometimes elements of solidarity that we thought were intangible for eternity, even if we had constituted together in geopolitical moments that have changed.

And then there is the emergence of new powers whose impact we have probably underestimated for a long time. China is at the forefront, but also the Russian strategy, which has, it must be said, been pursued more successfully in recent years. I will come back to that. India that is emerging, these new economies that are also becoming powers not only economic but political and that think themselves, as some have written, as real “civilizational states” which now come not only to shake up our international order but who also come to weigh in on the economic order and to rethink the political order and the political imagination that goes with it, with much dynamism and much more inspiration than we have.

Look at India, Russia and China. They have a much stronger political inspiration than Europeans today. They think about our planet with a true logic, a true philosophy, an imagination that we’ve lost a little bit.

This is the result of the so-called Enlightenment gradually eroding the foundations of civilization. Western civilization ebbs and flows with Christianity because Christianity is the spiritual and intellectual barrier that separates truth from untruth. It should be no surprise that a post-Christian West has not only divorced itself from truth and reality, but in doing so, has lost its historical power and influence.

Embrace your extremists

Because you’re going to be defined as one sooner or later.

Earlier this month, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a resolution declaring the National Rifle Association (NRA) to be a “domestic terrorist organization.” Some of us laughed at the absurd move and simply wrote it off by thinking “It’s San Francisco, they’re all nuts over there,” but the sentiment is actually more popular in the Democratic Party than you might expect. In fact, nearly a third of Democrats believe that the National Rifle Association (NRA), the largest gun rights organization in the country, should be declared a terrorist organization, and that it should be against the law for Americans to become members.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that nearly one-out-of-three Likely Democratic Voters (32{9576e478f725cceae1d2658658ad3e64422d2ca740094a2fb07c0611fe338f11}) favor declaring the gun rights group a terrorist organization in the community where they live. Fourteen percent (14{9576e478f725cceae1d2658658ad3e64422d2ca740094a2fb07c0611fe338f11}) of Republicans and 20{9576e478f725cceae1d2658658ad3e64422d2ca740094a2fb07c0611fe338f11} of voters not affiliated with either major party agree. Twenty-eight percent (28{9576e478f725cceae1d2658658ad3e64422d2ca740094a2fb07c0611fe338f11}) of Democrats say Americans should be prohibited by law from belonging to pro-gun rights organizations like the NRA, a view shared by 15{9576e478f725cceae1d2658658ad3e64422d2ca740094a2fb07c0611fe338f11} of Republicans and 10{9576e478f725cceae1d2658658ad3e64422d2ca740094a2fb07c0611fe338f11} of uanffiliateds.

Among all likely voters, 23{9576e478f725cceae1d2658658ad3e64422d2ca740094a2fb07c0611fe338f11} favor declaring the NRA a terrorist organization in their home community, while 18{9576e478f725cceae1d2658658ad3e64422d2ca740094a2fb07c0611fe338f11} think it should be against the law to belong to pro-gun rights groups like the NRA.

When nearly a third of a political party believes that an organization supporting gun rights is a “terrorist organization” and should be illegal to join, it makes you wonder what percentage also oppose free speech, freedom of religion, and other rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution.

They have to go back. And if they have nowhere to go back to, the states, once united, must divide.