Why Boris means Brexit

Like me, Mark Steyn we can have confidence in Boris Johnson’s desire to be regarded as a Man of Destiny and a historical figure of note:

Like Boris, Theresa May schemed and maneuvered for decades to reach the top spot …and, by the time she pulled it off, she’d spent so much time and effort on the scheming and maneuvering that she had no idea of what to do once she got there. Boris is likewise invested in himself, but, having reached the finial of Disraeli’s greasy pole, he doesn’t intend to be just the latest seat-filler. Mrs May wanted to be prime minister; Johnson wants to be a great and consequential prime minister.

Does that make him a philosophical Brexiteer? Doubtful. In the 2016 referendum, he considered the Leave and Remain choices in terms of what served his interests. To favor Remain meant supporting David Cameron, the de facto leader of the cause, and consigning himself to being a mere gentleman of the chorus. Whereas, if he chose the other side, his star power would make him the face of the campaign. He expected the Remain guys to win, and himself to have done himself a world of good with the Tory base come the next leadership election. Instead, and at least partly because of him, Leave won, and the chaos of the last three years began.

Something of a similar head fake is going on right now. A threatened “no deal” departure on October 31st is supposedly being touted by Boris just to force the EU into re-negotiating Theresa May’s floppo “withdrawal agreement”. So M Barnier and his backstop boy Leo Varadkar are insisting that’ll never happen, and it’s the May deal or nuthin’. Let them huff on. My view is that the whole re-negotiation thing is a feint, and Boris actually wants to leave with no deal. He wants a clean split – and the UK reborn as a sovereign nation, no ifs or buts. Whether he wants it because that’s his preferred public policy or because it cements his place in history is unimportant if you happen to believe, as I do, that that’s in the best interests of the United Kingdom.

Greatness beckons, Boris.


The problem with US nationalism

As Alan Mendenhall notes, it simply doesn’t exist, because it has never existed:

What is this national conservatism all about?

The succinct answer is the marriage of nationalism to conservatism. The conference organizers defined nationalism as “a commitment to a world of independent nations.” They presented national conservatism as “an intellectually serious alternative to the excesses of purist libertarianism, and in stark opposition to theories grounded in race.” Their stated aim was “to solidify and energize national conservatives, offering them a much-needed institutional base, substantial ideas in the areas of public policy, political theory, and economics, and an extensive support network across the country.”

Sounds interesting. However, neither national conservatism nor nationalism — whatever the distinctions between them — can take hold in the United States.

The Difference Between a Country and a Nation

Why? Because the United States is not, and has never been, a nation. The founding generation referred to the United States as a plural noun (i.e., “these United States”) because several sovereigns fell under that designation. St. George Tucker called the United States a “federal compact” consisting of “several sovereign and independent states.” If his view seems unrecognizable today, it is because nationalism within the United States is dying or dead—and the United States killed it.

The United States of America in the singular is a country, not a nation. It contains nations within it, but does not itself constitute a nation. Nations involve solidarity among people who share a common culture, language, customs, mores, ethnicity, and history. A country, by contrast, involves political arrangements and governmental territories and boundaries.

From its inception, the United States has been characterized by faction and sectionalism, cultural clashes, and competing narratives — between Indian tribes in what is now Florida and California, Wyoming and Maine, Georgia and Michigan; between the British and French and Spanish and Dutch; between Protestants and Catholics and English Dissenters and nonconformists and splintering denominations; between the Calvinism of Cotton Mather and the Enlightenment rationalism that influenced Franklin and Jefferson. The United States has experienced, as well, numerous separatist movements, including, most notably, the secession of the states that made up the Confederate States of America.

The United States is not a nation.

The United States is not a nation, it is an empire. But the formerly dominant American nation that it contains is, despite its self-disbelief, nevertheless still a nation. And its national self-interest is naturally opposed to the self-styled “nationalist conservatives” who are neither nationalists nor conservatives, but rather, neoclown imperialists in nationalist clothing.

Mendenhall observes: “The national conservatism they envision for the United States can lead only to the suppression of actual nationalism.” And that, of course, is precisely the point.


At least he had the decency to resign

Britain’s disaster of an ambassador resigns his post:

Sir Kim Darroch has resigned as the UK’s ambassador to the US after Donald Trump vowed to no longer deal with him over bombshell comments he made in leaked diplomatic memos.

Sir Kim said he wanted to ‘put an end’ to the speculation over his future after his heavily critical comments about the Trump administration sparked an all-out diplomatic war between the US and Britain.

The leaked documents revealed Sir Kim had called Mr Trump ‘inept’ and described the current White House as ‘uniquely dysfunctional’.

They prompted the US President to launch an unprecedented attack on Sir Kim and Theresa May as he called the former a ‘pompous fool’ and the latter a ‘disaster’.

It was a rather spectacular own goal that serves as a fitting capstone to one of the more disastrous prime ministerships in British history. I recently finished reading Charles Oman’s A History of England and there have been very few Prime Ministers as epically inept as Theresa May.

While it is true the ambassador fell victim to a leak, only a complete fool would ever have put such gravely insulting words about the leader of his country’s most important ally down in writing in the first place. The level of ineptitude that is the most obvious hallmark of modern life makes one feel embarrassed for our historical epoch.

Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary and Mr Johnson’s leadership rival, had promised not to replace Sir Kim if he became PM. 

See what I mean? When Boris Johnson is legitimately the most competent candidate for leadership, you know the UK is in trouble.


The literature we have lost

I was comparing the 1918 and 1958 editions of the first volume of the Collier Junior Classics, and one of the first things I noted was that the Introduction by Harvard University President Charles Eliot had been replaced with one by William Neilson, the former President of Smith College. I strongly suspect the following two paragraphs will suffice to explain why it was replaced:

The right selection of reading matter for children is obviously of high importance.  Some of the mythologies, Old Testament stories, fairy tales, and historical romances, on which earlier generations were accustomed to feed the childish mind, contain a great deal that is barbarous, perverse, or cruel; and to this infiltration into children’s minds, generation after generation, of immoral, cruel, or foolish ideas is probably to be attributed in part the slow ethical progress of the race.  The commonest justification of this thoughtless practice is that children do not apprehend the evil in the bad mental pictures with which we foolishly supply them; but what should we think of a mother who gave her children dirty milk or porridge, on the theory that the children would not assimilate the dirt?  Should we be less careful about mental and moral food materials?  The Junior Classics have been selected with this principle in mind, without losing sight of the fact that every developing human being needs to have a vision of the rough and thorny road over which the human race has been slowly advancing during thousands of years.

Whoever has committed to memory in childhood such Bible extracts as Genesis i, the Ten Commandments, Psalm xxiii, Matthew v, 8-12, The Lord’s Prayer, and I Corinthians xiii, such English prose as Lincoln’s Gettysburg speech, Bacon’s “Essay on Truth,” and such poems as Bryant’s “Waterfowl,” Addison’s “Divine Ode,” Milton’s Sonnet on his Blindness, Wotton’s “How happy is he born or taught,” Emerson’s “Rhodora,” Holmes’s “Chambered Nautilus,” and Gray’s Elegy, and has stamped them on his brain by frequent repetition, will have set up in his mind high standards of noble thought and feeling, true patriotism, and pure religion.  He will also have laid in an invaluable store of good English.

What has happened to the former “Junior Classics” in the last 100 years is both a prelude and a microcosm of what has happened to the West as a whole. It’s something that can be seen in everything from the transition of blasphemy laws to hate speech laws and the musical descent from “The Hallelujah Chorus” to “Christmas in Hollis”. First, the Christian influence was pushed to the side, then it was removed and replaced with a focus on secular aesthetics, then the aesthetics were abandoned and the original purpose of the institution was entirely lost.


A collection of curious anomalies

Ron Unz observes an intriguing anomaly in his review of a Jewish historian’s account of anti-semitism in US military intelligence:

Oliver’s peremptory dismissal of the standard Holocaust narrative led me to take a closer look at the treatment of the same topic in Bendersky’s book, and I noticed something quite odd. As discussed above, his exhaustive research in official files and personal archives conclusively established that during World War II a very considerable fraction of all our Military Intelligence officers and top generals were vehemently hostile to Jewish organizations and also held beliefs that today would be regarded as utterly delusional. The author’s academic specialty is Holocaust studies, so it is hardly surprising that his longest chapter focused on that particular subject, bearing the title “Officers and the Holocaust, 1940-1945.” But a close examination of the contents raises some troubling questions.

Across more than sixty pages, Bendersky provides hundreds of direct quotes, mostly from the same officers who are the subject of the rest of his book. But after carefully reading the chapter twice, I was unable to find a single one of those statements referring to the massive slaughter of Jews that constitutes what we commonly call the Holocaust, nor to any of its central elements, such as the existence of death camps or gas chambers.

The forty page chapter that follows focuses on the plight of the Jewish “survivors” in post-war Europe, and the same utter silence applies. Bendersky is disgusted by the cruel sentiments expressed by these American military men towards the Jewish former camp inmates, and he frequently quotes them characterizing the latter as thieves, liars, and criminals; but the officers seem strangely unaware that those unfortunate souls had only just barely escaped an organized mass extermination campaign that had so recently claimed the lives of the vast majority of their fellows. Numerous statements and quotes regarding Jewish extermination are provided, but all of these come from various Jewish activists and organizations, while there is nothing but silence from all of the military officers themselves.

Bendersky’s ten years of archival research brought to light personal letters and memoirs of military officers written decades after the end of the war, and in both those chapters he freely quotes from these invaluable materials, sometimes including private remarks from the late 1970s, long after the Holocaust had become a major topic in American public life. Yet not a single statement of sadness, regret, or horror is provided. Thus, a prominent Holocaust historian spends a decade researching a book about the private views of our military officers towards Jews and Jewish topics, but the one hundred pages he devotes to the Holocaust and its immediate aftermath contains not a single directly-relevant quote from those individuals, which is simply astonishing. A yawning chasm seems to exist at the center of his lengthy historical volume, or put another way, a particular barking dog is quite deafening in its silence.

I am not an archival researcher and have no interest in reviewing the many tens of thousands of pages of source material located at dozens of repositories across the country that Bendersky so diligently examined while producing his important book. Perhaps during their entire wartime activity and also the decades of their later lives, not a single one of the hundred-odd important military officers who were the focus of his investigation ever once broached the subject of the Holocaust or the slaughter of Jews during World War II. But I think there is another distinct possibly.

As mentioned earlier, Beaty spent his war years carefully reviewing the sum-total of all incoming intelligence information each day and then producing an official digest for distribution to the White House and our other top leaders. And in his 1951 book, published just a few years after the end of fighting, he dismissed the supposed Holocaust as a ridiculous wartime concoction by dishonest Jewish and Communist propagandists that had no basis in reality. Soon afterward, Beaty’s book was fully endorsed and promoted by many of our leading World War II generals, including those who were subjects of Bendersky’s archival research. And although the ADL and various other Jewish organizations fiercely denounced Beaty, there is no sign that they ever challenged his absolutely explicit “Holocaust denial.”

I suspect that Bendersky gradually discovered that such “Holocaust denial” was remarkably common in the private papers of many of his Military Intelligence officers and top generals, which presented him with a serious dilemma. If only one or two of those individuals had expressed such sentiments, their shocking statements could be cited as further evidence of their delusional anti-Semitism. But what if a substantial majority of those officers—who certainly had possessed the best knowledge of the reality of World War II—held private beliefs that were very similar to those publicly expressed by their former colleagues Beaty and Oliver? In such a situation, Bendersky may have decided that certain closed doors should remain in that state, and entirely skirted the topic.

Translation: just about everything you think you know about 20th century history is wrong.


A million times worse

Ann Coulter is not wrong. I’ve been trying to explain this to Americans who mindlessly mourn “Europe is lost” while failing to realize that their own situation is considerably more dire:

This stunning demographic replacement matters because American culture is the envy of the world. Not only was this wonderful culture created by white Western Europeans, but merely asking immigrants to assimilate to it is generally considered a hate crime.

If everyone assimilated to our culture, who cares what race they are? But given sufficient numbers, they don’t. They don’t need to, and we certainly aren’t asking them to. The reason we successfully assimilated not-so-different European cultures was that we controlled the numbers — essentially stopping immigration for 50 years while we forged an American character.

Let’s compare our demographic situation to the European countries we’re weeping over. France is still about 80{a3284b3ba67427f8ed9871d8e3b1ff4835a7ddb93b4ba454c458c4bc1776a10c} French (85{a3284b3ba67427f8ed9871d8e3b1ff4835a7ddb93b4ba454c458c4bc1776a10c} Western European), and England is about 80{a3284b3ba67427f8ed9871d8e3b1ff4835a7ddb93b4ba454c458c4bc1776a10c} English (85{a3284b3ba67427f8ed9871d8e3b1ff4835a7ddb93b4ba454c458c4bc1776a10c} Western European). Even Holland is still approximately 76{a3284b3ba67427f8ed9871d8e3b1ff4835a7ddb93b4ba454c458c4bc1776a10c} Dutch (80{a3284b3ba67427f8ed9871d8e3b1ff4835a7ddb93b4ba454c458c4bc1776a10c} Western European).

What we’re witnessing in Europe is that continent’s first brush with the joys of diversity.

American conservatives’ obsession with Europe’s snail-like introduction to diversity, while ignoring a demographic tsunami in their own country, is the mirror image of neoconservatives’ fixation on unrest in the Middle East, while ignoring the invasion on our border.

When did it become deplorable, Walmart-y behavior to care about your own country? Not to care more, but merely to care as much as you do about the rest of the world?

It seems as if progress is inevitable, that things always get better and never retrogress. But the Roman Empire had philosophers, literature, science, great buildings, statues and works of art. It had advanced communication, plumbing and transportation systems. It had a universal set of measures, laws and rules.

And then the Dark Ages came. In the blink of an eye, all that was lost. The people no longer had the technological know-how even to repair bridges and aqueducts built by the Romans. They had lost the ability to make cement. They lost many of the works of Aristotle. Roads and plumbing fell into disrepair. Statues crumbled. Nikki Haley would be happy!

Only centuries later did civilization begin to reassert itself, barely climbing back to the accomplishments of several centuries earlier.

Not only is Europe’s situation less severe, but the European nations are reacting much, much more strongly than Americans, still caught up in their moronic civic nationalism, are. Even as she plays Cassandra, Ann Coulter STILL feels the need to make a nod to equalitarianism.

At this point, it is far too late for anything but very, very large scale repatriations to prevent the complete collapse of the USA. But there is not a single US politician who is even remotely willing to seriously address the problem.


Southern Reconquesta

The South Carolina flag will be back. Sooner or later, and most likely, sooner:

Three years after South Carolina removed the Confederate flag with pomp and circumstance from the grounds of the S.C. State House, the flag’s shadow fell across the north lawn of the state capitol again Tuesday.

In what has become an annual ritual, about 30 flag supporters stood in the warm morning sun to honor what they consider their heritage, placing the flag back in the place where it stood for 15 years as “Dixie” blared over loudspeakers.

Organized by the S.C. Secessionist Party, the 10 a.m. ceremony marked the third anniversary of the flag’s removal from the State House grounds.

This disrespect for native history is a useful reminder of why immigrants and the descendants of immigrants should never be permitted to vote or hold political office.


China rejects civic nationalism

If you want to know why all the smart long-term money is on China vis-a-vis its strategic struggle with the declining US global empire despite the latter’s current military superiority, it is China’s growing nationalism that is the strongest reason:

“Make China Great Again” is officially now the agenda of President Xi Jinping. Can “Make the Han Great Again” be far behind? In this interesting if somewhat academic work, Australian China scholar Carrico has examined the rising influence of traditionalist, racially based sentiments within modern China, particularly through study of the Han Clothing Movement (Hanfu yundong) and associated ideas.

At one level, the movement, established in 2001, is a curiosity, seemingly on the fringe of a society rapidly modernizing and engaging with the world. Han clothing is the symbol of a wider commitment to belief in restoration of a largely imaginary era of Han greatness and cultural purity and rejection of foreign-influenced money obsession of China today. But it has important elements in common with the officially promoted emphasis on Confucian principles, and on long held beliefs in the genetic division between Han and the rest.

Nor does this merely appeal to aging traditionalists and those who hanker after a return to traditional script and other pre-Communist aspects of the nation. The book begins with a quote from a Han Clothing Movement supporter, an IT professional based in that hub of Chinese modernism, Shenzhen:

“You can’t have nationalism without race (minzu zhuyi). That’s what we want to do: promote Han racial nationalism (Han minzu zhuyi) …. The multiracial nationalism we have now in China, with 56 races as part of a larger “Chinese race” (Zhongua minzu) is a big scam. It was imposed upon us by the Manchus, forcing us Han, the core of China from the beginning of time, into submission. All that this nationalism has done is to weaken China.  You can’t just destroy the distinction between civilization and barbarism (Hua yi zhi bian), incorporate a bunch of barbarians into our nation and then expect a strong nation. All this talk of “wealth and power” (fuqiang) is empty and meaningless without Han nationalism.”

The principal villains, from this Han perspective, are not the western powers and Japan and the one hundred years of humiliation, they are the Manchus. The dynasty may have been overthrown in 1911, but Manchu ideas, customs and (allegedly) Manchu money continue to prevail. The queue may have gone but the Manchu qipao and magua – both designed originally for horse-riders –are is still viewed as the standard Chinese traditional dress, as for example provided to delegates to the APEC Summit in China in 2015.

The Han movement’s intent is to remove all such foreign impurities, which has also to include inter-marriage with inferior foreign genes, a problem which has supposedly been enhanced by the one child policy.

While China is rejecting the Manchu legacy that was imposed upon its nation, the US is increasingly being forced to submit to its own Manchus, to such an extent that American history is being revised, American heroes are being vanished, and the 1st Amendment is under legal and political siege.


No one knows anything

Especially the so-called experts:

The idea for the most important study ever conducted of expert predictions was sparked in 1984, at a meeting of a National Research Council committee on American-Soviet relations. The psychologist and political scientist Philip E. Tetlock was 30 years old, by far the most junior committee member. He listened intently as other members discussed Soviet intentions and American policies. Renowned experts delivered authoritative predictions, and Tetlock was struck by how many perfectly contradicted one another and were impervious to counterarguments.

Tetlock decided to put expert political and economic predictions to the test. With the Cold War in full swing, he collected forecasts from 284 highly educated experts who averaged more than 12 years of experience in their specialties. To ensure that the predictions were concrete, experts had to give specific probabilities of future events. Tetlock had to collect enough predictions that he could separate lucky and unlucky streaks from true skill. The project lasted 20 years, and comprised 82,361 probability estimates about the future.

The result: The experts were, by and large, horrific forecasters. Their areas of specialty, years of experience, and (for some) access to classified information made no difference. They were bad at short-term forecasting and bad at long-term forecasting. They were bad at forecasting in every domain. When experts declared that future events were impossible or nearly impossible, 15 percent of them occurred nonetheless. When they declared events to be a sure thing, more than one-quarter of them failed to transpire. As the Danish proverb warns, “It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.”

As it happens, I’ve occasionally taken part in the project as one of the forecasters, although I haven’t even logged in to the system for years. The one time I was moderately active, my team was in second place, although that was largely thanks to one guy who was easily the best in our group. If I recall correctly, I was better than the average forecaster, but not in the top ten percent. I still get emails from time to time asking me about the prospects for a Russian attack on Estonia before September and so forth, but I lost interest in it pretty quickly.

Anyhow, the article is right. Everyone is wrong about the future and most people are actually much more reliable as negative predictors, which I interpret as meaning that events proceed in a non-linear manner that is contrary to normal human expectations. That’s my best guess as to why the future is so hard for everyone to predict, or even anticipate.


The myth of al-Andalus

A review of a book on Spanish history by Dario Fernandez-Morera that I, too, found to be extremely useful in better understanding the real history of Muslim-occupied Spain:

I have just finished reading a volume that should be a required text for anyone enthusing about how enlightened and tolerant Spain was under Islamic rule in medieval times, The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise by Dario Fernandez-Morera.

The enthusiasm for the glories of tolerant Islam is suffused throughout modern scholarship, to the point of embarrassment. It is difficult not to conclude, after one looks at the actual historical facts that the scholars ignore and suppress, that their enthusiasm for Islam finds its roots in their distaste for Christianity. It is certainly not rooted in the historical evidence itself.

In this vision of Islamic Spain (renamed by the Muslim conquerors as “al-Andalus”), all three monotheistic faiths got along famously and all three enjoyed cultural flowering and prosperity under the watchful eye of a tolerant Islam.

In this version of history, the Christians of Spain were a benighted, primitive, and ignorant lot, who fortunately for them, ended up under Islam, which then offered them previously undreamt of opportunities to learn tolerance and culture. In this paradise Jews, Christians, and Muslims coexisted in a happy sunlit land, enjoying the benefits of convivencia—at least until the horrible Christians spoiled it all at the Spanish Reconquista, which recovered the land for Christendom and brought again the blight of intolerance and darkness to their land.

Ah, al-Andalus, now gone with the wind: those happy dhimmis, contented and protected under their gallant masters! How sad that such gallantry is no more than a dream remembered! How sad that it is now gone with the wind!

Or…maybe not.

My two previous blog posts relating to the book:

In fact, I thought so highly of The Myth of the Andalusian Paradise after reading it in 2017 that I put it on list of recommended History books available from Castalia Direct, where you can pick up the hardcover at a discount. It’s well worth reading.