The importance of morale

It would be unwise to count out the Catalonian bid for independence yet. They have a long history of being tenacious in defeat. From A History of the Peninsular War:

Thus six months had elapsed between the fall of Lerida and the commencement of the next stage of the French advance in Eastern Spain. If it is asked why the delay was so long, the answer is easy: it was due not, as some have maintained, to Suchet’s slowness or to Macdonald’s caution, but solely to the splendid activity displayed by Henry O’Donnell, a general often beaten but never dismayed, and to the tenacity of the Catalans, who never gave up hope, and were still to hold their own, after a hundred disasters, till the tide of success in the Peninsula at last turned back in 1812-13. 

And clearly Henry O’Donnell was no gamma. Failure is never to be feared. It may be disappointing, but it should be viewed as nothing more than a stepping stone – and sometimes a necessary one – to ultimate success.

Portrait of a Sigma

People often ask me to provide historical examples of the various ranks in the socio-sexual hierarchy. Alphas are always very easy to find, because history is largely a written account of the doings of the greater Alphas of society. Deltas are too common to escape notice, and Gammas frequently show up wherever disasters have taken place. Sigmas, on the other hand, tend to be much more difficult to notice and identify by virtue of their discomfort and disdain for the trappings of the social hierarchy as well as for the hierarchy itself.

But this example, taken from Volume II of A History of the Peninsular War by Charles Oman, is about as clear-cut as one can hope to find.

The officer who wrecked this part of Napoleon’s plan for the invasion of Portugal was Sir Robert Wilson, one of the most active and capable men in the English army, and one who might have made a great name for himself, had fortune been propitious. But though he served with distinction throughout the Napoleonic war, and won golden opinions in Belgium and Egypt, in Prussia and Poland, no less than in Spain, he never obtained that command on a large scale which would have enabled him to show his full powers. It may seem singular that a man who won love and admiration wherever he went, who was decorated by two emperors for brilliant feats of arms done under their eyes, who was equally popular in the Russian, the Austrian, or the Portuguese camp, who had displayed on a hundred fields his chivalrous daring, his ready ingenuity, and his keen military insight, should fail to achieve greatness.

But Wilson, unhappily for himself, had the defects of his qualities. When acting as a subordinate his independent and self-reliant character was always getting him into trouble with his hierarchical superiors. He was not the man to obey orders which he believed to be dangerous or mistaken: he so frequently ‘thought for himself’ and carried out plans quite different from those which had been imposed upon him, that no commander-in-chief could tolerate him for long. His moves were always clever and generally fortunate, but mere success did not atone for his disobedience in the eyes of his various chiefs, and he never remained for long in the same post. All generals, good and bad, agree in disliking lieutenants who disregard their orders and carry out other schemes—even if they be ingenious and successful ones.

But when trusted with any independent command, and allowed a free hand, Wilson always did well. Not only had he all the talents of an excellent partisan chief, but he was one of those genial leaders who have the power to inspire confidence and enthusiasm in their followers, and are able to get out of them double the work that an ordinary commander can extort. He was in short one of those men who if left to themselves achieve great things, but who when placed in a subordinate position quarrel with their superiors and get sent home in disgrace. From the moment when Beresford assumed command of the Portuguese army his relations with Wilson were one long story of friction and controversy, and Wellesley (though acknowledging his brilliant services) made no attempt to keep him in the Peninsula. He wanted officers who would obey orders, even when they did not understand or approve them, and would not tolerate lieutenants who wished to argue with him.

Notice that the very successful Alpha did not want the Sigma around potentially interfering with his own plans. This was actually a correct decision and demonstrates Wellesley’s excellent management instincts, although ideally he would have kept Wilson on hand for special operations where independent free-lancing was required. And speaking of special operations, notice that the Sigma was not merely independent, but also the innovator on the scene.

It was Wilson who first showed that the new levies of Portugal could do good service in the field. While Silveira and Eben were meeting with nothing but disaster in the Tras-os-Montes and the Entre-Douro-e-Minho, he was conducting a thoroughly successful campaign on the borders of Leon. From January to April, 1809, he, and he alone, protected the eastern frontier of Portugal, and with a mere handful of men kept the enemy at a distance, and finally induced him to draw off and leave Salamanca, just at the moment when Soult’s operations on the Douro were becoming most dangerous. The force at his disposal in January, 1809, consisted of nothing more than his own celebrated ‘Loyal Lusitanian Legion.’ 

 “But couldn’t he have been a gamma,” one can anticipate the inevitable objection. No, most certainly not.

Wilson received from Sir John Cradock the news that he had ordered the British garrison to evacuate Almeida, and to retire on Lisbon, as the whole remaining force in Portugal would probably have to embark in a few days. The new commander-in-chief added that he should advise Wilson to bring off his British officers and depart with the rest, as the Portuguese would be unable to make any head against Bonaparte, and it would be a useless sacrifice to linger in their company and be overwhelmed. This pusillanimous counsel shocked and disgusted Wilson: he called together his subordinates, and found that they agreed with him in considering Cradock’s advice disgraceful. They resolved that they could not desert their Portuguese comrades, and were in honour bound to see the campaign to an end, however black the present outlook might appear.

The Tenth Circle

John Derbyshire proposes a useful addition to Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell:

If I had written The Divine Comedy I would have added an extra ditch to the ninth circle of Hell—where dwell traitors, fraudsters, and sowers of discord—for the Nation Wreckers.

Putting together my Radio Derb podcast for November 16th I thought I should say something about the Brexit business, now coming to some kind of climax. I haven’t followed the negotiations, and am anyway out of touch with British politics; but it’s plain the Brits are having much difficulty wriggling free of the European Union and setting sail once again as an independent sovereign nation.

That’s a reminder of the cosmic principle that some processes are hard to reverse. “The toothpaste’s out of the tube,” we say; or in Chinese, “The wood has been made into a boat” (木已成舟).

It’s also a reminder of how glibly the Brits were talked into this nation-sized death-trap.

There are some in this country who fear that in going into Europe we shall in some way sacrifice independence and sovereignty. These fears, I need hardly say, are completely unjustified.

That was Prime Minister Ted Heath in 1973. Heath would be one of those I’d expect to find in the Nation Wreckers Ditch, along with the unspeakable Tony Blair from the following generation, and Cameron the Clueless and May the Mediocrity from more recent years.

There’d be plenty of Americans in there, too. The U.S. equivalent of Heath’s assurance was of course Ted Kennedy’s speech to the Senate when moving the 1965 Immigration Act:

First, our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Under the proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same … Secondly, the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset …

Into the ditch with him!—and Hart and Celler and McCain and Schumer and Ryan and McConnell, and all the liars, fraudsters, and fools of Britain and the U.S.A. who, from either malice or stupidity, transformed settled, stable, well-governed nations that did not want or need transforming into Afro-Latino-Islamo-style corruptocracies.

I don’t think a ditch in the Ninth Circle is sufficient. Grant them their own deeper circle filled with even more hellish torments, for they are literally the very worst people that history has ever known. Even the great evils of history, the Arnolds, the Quislings, the Hitlers, and the Stalins were not as awful as the glib-tongued Nation Wreckers have proven to be.

Global cooling was not a myth

The failure of the long-predicted global warming to show up now has the AGW/CC scammers scrambling to claim that there never was an expectation of global cooling in the 1970s. Fortunately, climate skeptics are exploding the scammers’ latest falsehoods.

A review of the climate science literature of the 1965-1979 period is presented and it is shown that there was an overwhelming scientific consensus for climate cooling (typically, 65{72cf27ffdac1ec816f49e283bd4617ffdd8df37c3501aa744a12e9a9c4d5faff} for the whole period) but greatly outnumbering the warming papers by more than 5-to-1 during the 1968-1976 period, when there were 85{72cf27ffdac1ec816f49e283bd4617ffdd8df37c3501aa744a12e9a9c4d5faff} cooling papers compared with 15{72cf27ffdac1ec816f49e283bd4617ffdd8df37c3501aa744a12e9a9c4d5faff} warming.

It is evident that the conclusion of the PCF-08 paper, The Myth of the 1970s Global Cooling Scientific Consensus, is incorrect. The current review shows the opposite conclusion to be more accurate. Namely, the 1970s global cooling consensus was not a myth – the overwhelming scientific consensus was for climate cooling.

It appears that the PCF-08 authors have committed the transgression of which they accuse others; namely, “selectively misreading the texts” of the climate science literature from 1965 to 1979. The PCF-08 authors appear to have done this by neglecting the large number of peer-reviewed papers that were pro-cooling.

I find it very surprising that PCF-08 only uncovered 7 cooling papers and did not uncover the 86 cooling papers in major scientific journals, such as, Journal of American Meteorological Society, Nature, Science, Quaternary Research and similar scientific papers that they reviewed. For example, PCF-08 only found 1 paper in Quaternary Research, namely the warming paper by Mitchell (1976), however, this review found 19 additional papers in that journal, comprising 15 cooling, 3 neutral and 1 warming.

I can only suggest that the authors of PCF-08 concentrated on finding warming papers instead of conducting the impartial “rigorous literature review” that they profess.

If the current climate science debate were more neutral, the PCF-08 paper would either be withdrawn or subjected to a detailed corrigendum to correct its obvious inaccuracies.

This historical revisionism is deeply insulting to the intelligence of at least two generations. Look, I was there at the time! They were absolutely going on about global cooling in much the same way they were banging on about global warming 20 years later. I assure you, as a child growing up in Minnesota who occasionally had to wait outside for up to half an hour for a late schoolbus, in windchilled temperatures as low as -30 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, you do not forget being told that the climate is going to get even colder.

I distinctly remember thinking “how on Earth is anyone ever going to survive here?” when I first encountered news reports of scientists predicting global cooling.

The end of the neo-liberal world order

For all its global reach, the neo-liberal world order will likely prove to have been exceptionally short-lived in the historical sense:

Though the press is obsessed with President Trump defining a change we are seeing, that is a classic case of mal-educated Amerocentrism. The shift started before him. He is just a symptom, not a cause. It isn’t even an American phenomenon. If anything we are lagging the global trend.

What period started to come to an end at the start of this century? The end of the post-Cold War as a period by itself? I don’t quite buy it. There is a lot of talk of an end to the post-WWII, “Liberal World Order” (LWO). I think that might be right.

The LWO began at the end of WWII. The period after the fall of the Soviet Union that people call as the Post-Cold War Era wasn’t really an era. It was either the final or the penultimate chapter of the long running LWO that the Cold War was just a longer chapter of. Even while the Soviet Union was on its death bed we saw the next chapter, AKA Bush41’s “New World Order” (NWO).

One could argue the NWO was the penultimate chapter, and 2001-2008 the final chapter of the LWO.

Hard to say right now, but if forced, I’d put my chips on that argument.

The NWO lasted less than a decade, if that. It was a period of unchallenged American dominance, but that rode on the back of the “The Liberal World Order” built in the post-WWII period.

What I would call the final chapter, somewhere from the attacks of September 2001 and the newly elected President Obama’s apology tour and welcoming of a rising China, I’m not sure – but it marked a shift to something new. The pivot is not yet complete – it is a slow turn that took awhile to get here.

The last two chapters of the LWO saw the falling apart of those structures – the EU, ascendency of Western culture, extra-national international legal bodies, American dominance of the high seas – that defined the success of the old age. The vacuum left behind by them, and the fragility of remaining ones like NATO, is feeding change.

This new era is a movement of returns, reckoning, and realization. Strangely, end of the LWO can probably can be traced back to the Muslim world. They were an the early adopter or canary in the coal mine of the structural culmination of the LWO. There you find the first place where the assumptions of the ruling Western elite began to fail.

Just look at the pictures of Cairo and Kabul in the 1960s and 1970s. Western dress, cultural norms, secularism, and political systems (socialist, capitalist, or a mixture of both) dominated. At the end of the 1970s the wave crested first there when you saw decades of progress for women in the public space begin to retreat from Islamabad to Alexandria.

Those were indications that the West had lost its confidence and its appeal. Once that support goes soft, everything it underpins weakens. Much of the weakening started with the anti-Western efforts in our own universities and popular culture. Jesse Jackson’s “Hey, hey, ho, ho; Western Civ has got to go” was just one of a long series of notes to the outside world that things were well along the way to being not quite right.

If you value Western values of tolerance and progress, how do you expect them to grow and expand abroad when you cannot support them at home? In their absence, something will fill the void.

I don’t believe there is any difference between the LWO and the NWO. Both were aspects of the neo-liberal world order championed by the same people. Globalism was always the objective of certain elements behind the neo-liberal world order, and the ongoing rise of nationalism represents the inevitable reaction to globalism that is described in the old Chinese aphorism.

 The empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide. Thus it has ever been.

But remember, what fuels the drive for global institutions is the result of widespread failures at the national levels. As we have seen in the USA, when centralization fails, the response is not to abandon it, but to try to salvage it through expanding its reach. As fast as the neo-liberal world order has failed, any globalist order would fail even faster due to the greater stresses upon even more fragile bonds.

An archeological synchronicity

The combination of pyramids and eyes never seems to bode anyone very well:

An enormous ancient Chinese pyramid has been discovered in an 4,300-year-old lost city, which regularly hosted human sacrifices and was once one of the largest settlements in the world. The astonishing find was documented in the latest issue of the journal ‘Antiquity,’ in which researchers revealed that the newly excavated step pyramid is at least 230ft high and covers a staggering 24 acres at its base.

The article, written by a team of professors at universities in China and California, says the city, now named “Shimao,” flourished for five centuries across a 988-acre region surrounding the pyramid, making it one of the largest cities in the world.

The pyramid is decorated with eye symbols and part-human, part-animal figures which, the researchers say, could have given the pyramid religious power in the eyes of the Shimao citizens of the day.Both the city and pyramid were surrounded by a series of sophisticated defensive stone walls, ramparts and gates, which the team says indicates highly restricted access to the complex. Decapitated human heads were also discovered, suggesting human sacrifice was a popular tradition at the time.

Do you ever get the unsettling impression that this isn’t the first time the human race has been through this whole technological cycle?

America has been remade

Patrick J. Buchanan observes that what now calls itself “America” is not, in fact, American at all:

America has been remade. Not only has Christianity, and all its symbols and expressions of faith and belief, been removed, but also a purge is underway of monuments and statues of the explorers, colonists and statesmen who, believing in the superiority of their religion, culture and civilization, set out to create the county we inherited.

And William Frey, resident demographer at the Brookings Institution, writes about how America is being changed — without the consent of the people.

“Since 2000, the white population under the age of 18 has shrunk by seven million, and declines are projected among white 20-somethings and 30-somethings over the next two decades and beyond. This is … a trend that is not likely to change despite Mr. Trump’s wish for more immigrants from Norway.

“The likely source of future gains among the nation’s population of children, teenagers and young working adults is minorities — Hispanics, Asians, blacks and others.”

When we are all minorities, and all behave as minorities, making our separate demands upon the country, what then holds America together?

In Federalist 2, John Jay famously wrote:

“Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people — a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion … very similar in their manners and customs…

“This country and this people seem to have been made for each other, and it appears as if it was the design of Providence, that an inheritance so proper and convenient for a band of brethren, united to each other by the strongest ties, should never be split into a number of unsocial, jealous, and alien sovereignties.”

Yet, each decade, less and less are we descended from the same ancestors. Less and less do we speak the same language, profess the same religion, share the same manners, customs, traditions, history, heroes and holidays.

Does America look today like the “band of brethren united to each other” of which Jay wrote, and we seemed to be as late as 1960?

Or does not the acrimony attendant to the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh suggest that we have already become a land “split into a number of unsocial, jealous and alien sovereignties.”

The historical revisionists who falsely talk about “our Judeo-Christian heritage” are inadvertently telling an important truth. America has an Anglo-Saxon Christian heritage. It is post-1965 Fake America that has a Judeo-Christian foundation and is less and less European, and less and less Christian, with every year that passes.

It is not just “liberals” who are to blame for this. It is not just the Jewish and Irish immigrants who struck the fatal legislative blow who are to blame for this. It is the civic nationalists who believed, and continue to believe, the lies of Magic Dirt and Equality, who pride themselves on their refusal to defend their own people and boast of their treason to their own nation.

Because civic nationalism is not just globalism lite, it is the elevation of loyalty to the political state above loyalty to the actual nation.

On wealth and “economic growth”

Apropos of nothing, really. Just writing down a momentary observation. Don’t ask me what it means. I don’t know yet.

  1. Wealth: (economic) all things that have a monetary or exchange value.
  2. Gross Domestic Product: a monetary measure of the market value of all final goods and services produced in a period.
  3. Ergo, GDP is at most a subset of a state’s wealth.
US Total Credit Market Debt Outstanding / GDP, 1950-2017
1950: 461 / 320
1960: 764 / 543
1970: 1580 / 1051
1980: 4501 / 2790
1990: 13565 / 5873
2000: 29374 / 10003
2010: 53481 / 14721
2017: 68591 / 19832
US Debt/GDP ratio
1950: 1.441
1960: 1.406
1970: 1.504
1980: 1.613
1990: 2.309
2000: 2.933
2010: 3.633
2017: 3.459

Dead on arrival

PM points out that the popular free trade argument that trade prevents war is based on an early 20th century Nobel prize-winner’s idea that proved itself to be an epic falsehood within seven years of its first articulation:

Norman Angell is most widely remembered for his 1909 pamphlet, Europe’s Optical Illusion, which was published the following year (and many years thereafter) as the book, The Great Illusion. (The anti-war film La Grande Illusion took its title from his pamphlet.) The thesis of the book was that the integration of the economies of European countries had grown to such a degree that war between them would be entirely futile, making militarism obsolete. This quotation from the “Synopsis” to the popular 1913 edition summarizes his basic argument.

He establishes this apparent paradox, in so far as the economic problem is concerned, by showing that wealth in the economically civilized world is founded upon credit and commercial contract (these being the outgrowth of an economic interdependence due to the increasing division of labour and greatly developed communication). If credit and commercial contract are tampered with in an attempt at confiscation, the credit-dependent wealth is undermined, and its collapse involves that of the conqueror; so that if conquest is not to be self-injurious it must respect the enemy’s property, in which case it becomes economically futile. Thus the wealth of conquered territory remains in the hands of the population of such territory. When Germany annexed Alsace, no individual German secured a single mark’s worth of Alsatian property as the spoils of war. Conquest in the modern world is a process of multiplying by x, and then obtaining the original figure by dividing by x. For a modern nation to add to its territory no more adds to the wealth of the people of such nation than it would add to the wealth of Londoners if the City of London were to annex the county of Hertford.

Whenever you dig into the logic of free trade or the arguments presented on its behalf, you inevitably discover that they are based on foundations that were conclusively proven to be rotten decades, or even centuries, ago. One of the most remarkable things about free traders I have observed is their relentlessly stubborn ignorance of the roots of their own economic philosophy.

Of course they don’t know anything about Norman Angell’s case for trade. One can hardly criticize them for that, as it was justly obscured by the course of historical events. But free trade advocates don’t even understand the specifics, let alone the intrinsic flaws, of David Ricardo’s comparative advantage argument.