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An apology to Sam Kriss

An apology to Sam Kriss
Photo by Markus Spiske / Unsplash
"Without a monarch, nothing is possible. With a monarch, anything is possible."

I have to admit that Sam Kriss has scored at least one point on me. Maybe more than one. Ok, maybe he blew me off the court—at least, in the field of Sam Kriss Studies.

TLDR: I am guilty of carelessly treating Kriss as an ordinary lib, even suggesting chestnuts he must believe which a simple Google search would have shown he did not. I am sorry. This deponent affirms: Sam Kriss is not an ordinary lib, but a thoughtful person who thinks, often, in many ways, for himself. Gray Mirror regrets the error.

(False, orchestrated accusations of intellectual carelessness have dogged me for my whole career—like the conspiracy to tell me I have a “Canadian accent.” I don’t have a Canadian accent. But it’s statistically inexplicable that so many people are so wrong.)

Left but not woke

On the other hand—lie down with dogs, get up with fleas. Considering the number of people who every day call me a Nazi, I can’t be too sympathetic. Kriss, he claims, can be “left but not woke.” Or as someone once said: “Real Nazism has never been tried.”

What leftists never ever seem to understand is that, from the outside, we rightists (a rightist is just anyone who isn’t a leftist) see leftism as essentially criminal in nature. The question is not whether you believe in it, but rather whether you collaborate with it. You can’t just disavow whatever felonies you never did and like didn’t even support.

Note that this is how it is when people accuse you of being a Nazi. You can’t be like: sure, I’m a Nazi—except for the Holocaust. Which some 21st-century Nazis deny, and others endorse. I have never heard of a Nazi bold enough to just disavow the Holocaust. “Real, Holocaust-free Nazism has never been tried.”

If you go with the family to Sharon Tate’s house, but stay outside with the car, you stay in the family. You don’t hurt anyone but you don’t get kicked out either. What’s not to like? That’s “left but not woke” as far as I can tell. It’s actually a conservative gesture: “so far, but no further.” Okay… but it’s still the Manson family… ya know? “That was a Tex thing. Charlie would never have approved.”

This is how we read “left but not woke.” Yeah, we know. We are the crazy ones and you are the sane ones. Do you at least have the literary imagination to see yourselves as you must look to us? Put yourself behind the eyes of someone who is outside the left.

One of the fantastic freshnesses of Tarantino’s Manson movie was its willingness to see Manson as his own time saw him: as, first and foremost, a hippie. Nowadays we think of Manson as unique—not a member of a class at all—perhaps he was a hippie, certainly he was ugly; but his ugliness does not contaminate all hippies as a whole.

At least, now it doesn’t. But then, it did. Tarantino’s genius is to take you back in time before this logic was retconned, and live in a world where Manson was the Hollywood hippie killer—fully foreshadowing the future in which the hippies would win, anyway. From outside the leftist future, from the loser’s standpoint, divisions within leftism are irrelevant and illegible. Charles Manson, Tom Hayden and Hubert Humphrey are all on one team.

Though some may find it crazy, to me this unified-field theory of leftism is a beautiful synthesis. It is simply the null hypothesis. We should not have to prove that liberalism and communism are the same thing. They should have to prove that they are different. This is especially difficult when they both call themselves “progressive.”

One way to establish such a distinction, for example, would be to find some partition in the social graph—if liberals never invited communists to their parties, or vice versa, or both. If we find such a dent, it is likely to be the far left that shuns the near left, not vice versa—consistent with the general leftist tradition of “no enemies to the left.” It would also be interesting to look at the behavior of this hypothetical political seam in the period 1941-45. A good researcher will find something—maybe with a microscope. From 1917-1941 and 1945-1989 there is certainly a schism between the Western and Eastern branches of progressivism. But both pope and patriarch are Christians.

Of course, this unification from outside is exactly how we regard all prerevolutionary and counterrevolutionary powers. Fascism is fascism, from Italy in the 20s to Greece in the 60s. It does not matter which faction of fascism did the Holocaust. Does it? In some ways maybe it does. But it also kind of doesn’t. The outside view has its merit.

One way to see this unification is to invert it and imagine its converse. When some leftist tries to disavow his comrades’ dirty deeds, try hearing—some teenage sperg with a roomful of Mussolini swag, telling his mom all about the difference between Fascism and National Socialism. “Actually, the Duce’s mistress, Margherita Sarfatti, was Jewish! You see—under Giovanni Gentile’s theory of the state—”

The fissiparous “left but not woke” path is one well trodden—in extremis, it is the path of the 20th-century Trotskyist, who begat the neocons we know and love. It is hard for Americans to see that neocons have never really left the Church of Marx. At least the neocons claim to. You don’t even claim to. (Or do you? More Sam Kriss Studies…)

Sam, the problem is not that you never break away from progressive orthodoxy. The problem is that you never go far beyond it—you never just let your curiosity lead you so far out of the left that you can’t still call yourself a leftist. And get kicked out of the good parties. Which is what I guess happens when you stop being a leftist. But, no, it’s not even a schism. You’re just, like, edgy.

(The neocons went further. They really got kicked out of the parties, though there was sweet DoD money. But they stayed Trotskyists, which means Marxist-Leninists. Maybe… moderate Marxist-Leninists? The basic bass note of world revolution was always the same. “The only way to fight extremist racist terrorism is to support moderate racists.”)

You are definitely not making any attempt to dissociate yourself from the left. You can just disavow all the parts of it you don’t like. “Real Nazism has never been tried.” See: National Socialism is, like, super-German, by definition? And the Holocaust was a  barbaric and un-German act. Right? And therefore, real Nazism has never been tried.

Is “woke,” in some way, the same thing as “progressive”? Is “progressive,” in some way, the same thing as “communist”? Are they all some variety of “left” or “Marxist”? You sound like Tony Soprano telling his daughter there’s no such thing as the Mafia.

The New York mob, Tony might have said, that’s the Mafia. Johnny Sack’s crew. Bad people. They run protection—break people’s hands—sell drugs—“real nasty stuff, Meadow. But me—me—I’m in waste management. Daddy’s just taking out the trash.”

What is the meaning of all this moral evasion? What is it concealing?

Dresden and all that

But you do care about Dresden, you tell us! This is good. You are drifting up against the frame of the Overton window. Why not try drilling into the frame? Like me, Sam, you have the famed “revolutionary Jewish temperament.” Let me help you deploy it.

Let’s start from where you do indeed get it right—sort of—a little bit:

The expulsion of the Germans after 1945 was maybe the most understandable of the great exterminations that convulsed Europe in the twentieth century, but it was still an extermination. Estimates of the number of people who starved or froze or were worked to death or mobbed or shot vary wildly. Maybe half a million. Maybe two million or more. Their crimes might have been multiple, but the only crime they were actually punished for was simply being German.

Sometimes atrocities are inflicted on the wrong type of people, people we don’t want to acknowledge as victims. You’re not supposed to think about it too much. (It’s always puzzled me: why is it seen as mildly dodgy to mourn the people who were massacred in the firebombing of Dresden, but perfectly acceptable to mourn their Axis allies in Hiroshima and Nagasaki?)

It’s really swell that you care. That you’re puzzled. It’s great. You are a morally serious person—you take this “crime against humanity” seriously. Or do you?

Think about where you are on the massacre curve here. It is mildly dodgy to mourn the victims of war massacre A. But it is perfectly acceptable to mourn the victims of war massacre B. Perfectly acceptable! And some exterminations are even understandable—at least, some are more understandable than others… okay.

Let us extrapolate this moral curve out to C, or D, or Z. Perhaps it is ethically superior to mourn the victims of war massacre C, and ethically imperative to mourn the victims of D. By Z it is socially, legally and morally mandatory not just to mourn them, but rather to avenge them—even at the cost of your own life—even question this and you go to jail

That’s how the Hamas martyrocracy feels—they’re pretty much at Z. Where are we with the Holocaust? X? But what if the Nazis had won? Maybe with some last-minute secret V-weapon? How would ordinary Germans feel about the Holocaust then?

If the Nazis had won, keeping the Holocaust a secret, it could obviously not have been kept a secret after the war. So probably most Germans would have felt that, while the Jews obviously caused the war and reaped the consequences, etc, etc—presumably anti-Semitic public-service messaging would be as ubiquitous, in this Nazi reality, as climate-change awareness in ours—but gassing them was a little much. But oh well.

This is how we are supposed to feel about the firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo—it was a little much. Oh well. That’s the A treatment. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are just at B, since nukes are icky. This is the depth and complexity of the morally serious reasoning we are looking at here. (Actually, historiographically, I think that the main difference was that Hiroshima and Nagasaki got used in a “progressive” narrative—the old Cold War story that that the A-bomb was dropped to intimidate and alienate the USSR.)

Now, imagine a world in which we put Dresden and Tokyo at Z, not A… or even at F… what is going on here? What are the moral rules? Are there, actually, any moral rules? Or is the only rule just: whatever is most useful, right now? Whatever power needs?

It’s always puzzled you. I am not convinced that you are that puzzled, actually, Sam. It is not especially easy to look into these questions. But nor is it especially hard. Would you prefer to stay puzzled? Have you heard of crimestop?

A puzzling question

Let me tell you quickly why you should care. You should care because you should ask this question: if World War II wasn’t a humanitarian Marvel-movie crusade by humanity to keep Hitler from taking over the world / gassing the Jews, what was it?

If WW2 was a humanitarian war, I feel, it would have cared way more about burning eight-year-old girls alive. But it didn’t. So it wasn’t. So—what was it? Given that we live in a world made by, defined by, World War II—where everyone bad is a “Nazi” (come on, it’s been 80 years since the Party was even accepting applications)—what was it?

Do you want to know what it was? At the risk of leading a horse to water—and of boring GM readers who have seen this link too often—why not let the era itself take 20 minutes to tell you what it was? “When someone tells you who he is, believe him.”

Do you want to see, with your own eyes,  the mindset behind the Allied expulsion (and starvation) of Germans after 1945, and the mass aerial attacks on civilians before 1945? In an Oscar-nominated short film, expanded from a Frank Capra original, directed by Don Siegel who would later do Dirty Harry,  with a script (uncredited) by Dr. Seuss?

Meet: Hitler Lives. No, it’s not a zombie flick.

Still puzzled? More puzzled?

If you don’t have 17 minutes to watch “Hitler Lives,” you can just absorb its message—which is that WWII was a race war—a race war against the eternal German, and his eternal German desire to conquer the world and kill babies. We defended ourselves! And now we need to make a global communist UN world with our good friend Stalin. It’s important that we keep the Germans down and repress the Republicans at home. Also, Jews do not exist. Race does not exist. We are all healthy young Americans and we will always beat the Nazis at football. Always trust your government. Never listen to public speakers—they are probably Nazis. Who kill babies. Remember that!

Amidst all this weirdness—in a way “Hitler Lives” is America at her most Orwellian; in a way its very crudeness disqualifies it from that position—we recognize a stance and a position in history. Without even knowing anything about this film or how or why it was made, we can connect this vibe to the present-day op-ed page of the NYT.

You will probably be unsurprised by the word both moments use to code themselves: progressive. (This word has meant about the same thing for about the last century, ie, more or less since Teddy Roosevelt, who was more like a fascist, kicked the bucket.)

Do you agree with this, Sam? In your eyes: is “Hitler Lives” (a) left, (b) woke, (c) progressive, (d) what? How do you feel the answer relates to your puzzling question?)

At the time, “Hitler Lives” was the straight-up Office of War Information party line. You’ve probably never heard of OWI. You did know Orwell was at the BBC, I hope? Kind of the same thing, except ours metastasized back into the “mainstream media.”

Journalism has never been a purely private enterprise. It is always a public service. When you try to push it outside the state, it becomes a state outside the state. If the state is not its master, it is the state’s master—and then it is an invisible state. While the state is always unaccountable by definition, its unaccountability must be visible. Otherwise it is not only unaccountable but also irresponsible.

Some things that didn’t happen

So: what is the true story of WWII? What actually happened? I feel with these things it’s always important to start by getting completely clear on what didn’t happen.

Here’s one thing you and I know didn’t happen: (a) it was a great humanitarian crusade on behalf of humanity to save the world for human beings and their human rights.

Here’s another thing you and I know didn’t happen: (b) it was a humanitarian crusade to save the Jews from Hitler, who was just in it to kill Jews. No serious historian will tell you this—but many will let you believe it.

Here’s a third thing you and I know didn’t happen: (c) it was an anti-German crusade to free the world from the pallid, termite-like, militaristic, invasive Teutonic race. No one today can watch “Hitler Lives” and take it seriously.

(There never was any German plan for world domination. Just because Hitler invades Poland, Hitler is not going to do a reverse D-Day and storm ashore on Jones Beach—with amphibious gas vans gassed up to start gassing the still-dripping Jews on Field 6… Frederick the Great also invaded Poland. Frederick the Great had no interest in any part of the East Coast—he thought it was hot and buggy and the winters were cold.)

Here’s a fourth thing you and I know didn’t happen: (d) the Allies and the Soviets were two arms of one international Jewish conspiracy. (Which then presumably… broke into two halves in 1945? With two Elderses of Zion—each claiming to be the real Elders of Zion—like competing Popes? Or were the same Elders just behind both sides? Tell us.)

(In other words, the Nazis weren’t right about the Jews. You know this and I know this—but I hope you can believe me: if the Nazis were right, I would say it. Would you? Or, like the rest of the 21st century, are you still under Hitler’s spell? In the end, the only way to beat the Nazis is to normalize the Nazis. Who were people, not magic demons.

While an unusual part of history, the Third Reich cannot be a special part of history. While the Nazis thought they were special—so do the progressives. So does every present day, in every time and place. Presentism is the lock on the gate of history. Till we acknowledge that no time or place is special, we are trapped outside history. Once we abandon the delusion of uniqueness, we can learn from every past in every way.)

So if it isn’t one of these four, what is it? How is there a more interesting historical mystery? In fact, since the answer to this puzzling mystery literally defined the world we live in (you must know the role of Alger Hiss (not a Jew) in creating the UN, for instance), is there a more important question?

Because if you took Dresden seriously, Sam, you would ask what it meant. You know, the way people ask what the Holocaust meant. Sure… the numbers are lower… kind of… is this how your ethical system works?

What was the historical cause of this great crime? They find this cause in the darkness of nationalist, racist, bad, Nazi ideology—then look around for some modern-day badthink cousin of it to ban. You see this trope already in Hitler Lives—the argument “ad Hitlerum,” applied against American populists like Father Coughlin.

We don’t want to think about Dresden because we don’t want to look at ourselves. Dresden stays puzzling because Dresden was done by us. (Once you have watched “Hitler Lives” enough times, you start to see Dresden as illustrated by Dr. Seuss. Couldn’t he have at least done sketches for an edition of Slaughterhouse-Five?)

It has to stay puzzling because if you actually dive into the mind of the period, by consuming OC like “Hitler Lives”—and there is a lot of it—you are horrified by the fact that (a) the voice of the OWI at the time is clearly the voice that would evolve into today’s voice of NPR, and (b) this voice is clearly both mendacious and homicidal—without a trace of irony.

Or when there is irony, it is the voice of Noel Coward:

Don’t let’s be beastly to the Germans
When we’ve definitely got them on the run—
Let us treat them very kindly as we would a valued friend
We might send them out some Bishops as a form of lease and lend,
Let’s be sweet to them—
And day by day repeat to them
That “sterilization” simply isn't done.

You have heard of Coward, haven’t you, dear chap? Yes, in this verse he is making the case (through irony, but un-ironically) for the deranged ideas of Theodore Kaufman, who seriously argued that the Germans needed to be racially sterilized. While Kaufman was a total outsider nut, he hit a nerve, made a big splash and sold a lot of books. He certainly wasn’t joking.

Thirty years from now, when the teenage fascist spergs grow up and seize the reins, Coward (also apparently a homosexual) will be canceled for this—high-school musicals will, instead, adapt the Pisan Cantos—but, after consuming this odd content from a lost historical world, we reflect: how did that work out for the Greatest Generation?

In twenty years? When Dr. Seuss was in the hands of every first-grader, and Don Siegel was directing Dirty Harry? And Germany had gone back to exporting cars?

Honestly—it worked out, at least from the point of the producers, quite well. From their perspective, Germany was re-educated. In fact, in a very real sense—certainly a sense that both sides of the war would have understood—Germany was sterilized. We cannot now imagine a World War 3 against Germany—except as some kind of drag show. The Nazis and the Prussians are as vanished as the Vikings and the Huns.

How did all this happen? Well—it’s puzzling. No, actually, it’s not puzzling. WW2 was a sort of progressive jihad to conquer the world. As with progressivism large and small, progressivism east and west, progressivism old and new, it sold power as compassion.

Everyone always wants power. Power always confers status. Everyone always wants status. Another path to status is to be seen as good. One way to be seen as good is to do good, to act with compassion.

Power and compassion have one thing in common: they both make you feel good. But power lasts longer and makes you higher. But it has an ugly name. Compassion is charity—power is vanity. But if we found a way to just rebrand vanity as charity…

Everyone is ambitious for status. Everyone wants to be seen, especially by themselves, as compassionate. The market for pseudo-empathic vanity in politics is everyone. And its actual performance is so bad that it has to make sure it captures the whole market. An ideology that always loses an equal competition is inherently a totalizing ideology. Its worst victims are often its purported clients.

Sometimes power and compassion really are the same thing. The Marvel superhero who saves the world gains status by using power with compassion. If only the world was a Marvel movie! Everyone in the 20th century bought a ticket to a Marvel movie…

And everyone (on our side) felt good and strong and happy when the good guys won. But don’t the good guys always win? Don’t they? Don’t they?

Sam, I am not hoping to convince you of anything. You are just so sure you are right. I just want you to be not sure. I want you to take that little spark of doubt that is puzzled about Dresden, blow on it gently, and see what other dry-rotted history it will burn. A mind as strong as yours can only change itself. But if you are, actually, puzzled…

In your story, Allied war crimes are anomalous and puzzling. In my story they make sense. Maybe there are things that make sense in your story but no sense in mine. It would be nice to hear these things. I would be happy to read any books you can recommend. But here are some books that helped the period make sense to me.

Unfortunately, I actually cannot recommend any single good history of WW2.  I do not think one has been written—because the histories we have are wrapped around 20th-century narratives which are not fully independent, and probably cannot be independent, of the period’s own propaganda. Even where independent in one area, they tend to be either orthodox or oppositional (which is just as bad) in others.

But if you want a light, airport-tier interaction with “dark WW2,” I would start with Nicholson Baker’s Human Smoke. If you want to plunge deeply into the diplomatic history of the war, I would go with Charles Beard’s President Roosevelt and the Coming of the War for the Western front, and Ernst Topitsch’s Stalin’s War for the Eastern.

To knit these two perspectives together would be amazing work which I do not believe has been done, and maybe can never be done. It would depend on facts that may not exist—I am convinced that there is an enormous amount to learn about covert relations between the US and USSR from 1933 to 1945. Just throwing that out there. Certainly, anyone who knows anything about the period will tell you that taking either Stalin or FDR at face value is stenography, not history.

If you are interested in very alien, yet very lucid, perspectives, go for Michael Sturdza’s Suicide of Europe, Sisley Huddleston’s France: The Tragic Years, and Reinhard Spitzy’s How We Squandered The Reich. Fit all those perspectives together, and maybe you start to get a picture of the whole war—still a rather impressionistic picture, I’m afraid.

If you are interested in human-rights abuses of Germans—always mildly dodgy, since no nukes were used—for bombing, try FJP Veale’s Advance to Barbarism; for postwar abuses, Freda Utley’s High Cost of Vengeance. The whole James Bacque controversy may interest you, as might the Nikolai Tolstoy controversy—about the treatment of disarmed German soldiers, and White Russian exiles, respectively, in the hands of the glorious, conquering, and very human-loving Allies. All agree that it was not nice—but how not nice? Further investigation, I feel, is warranted. The same for George Victor’s Rethinking the Unthinkable and Thomas Mahl’s Desperate Deception, about Pearl Harbor and British Security Coordination respectively. There remain many straight-up secrets about the war that the next regime will have to pry out of old files—and many documents, too, have been destroyed. History is not mainly a detective story—but sometimes it is. And when it is, historians must not shrink from that task.

Finally, if you want a fun hardcore primary source—most of you probably use Signal:

Most people don’t know that before Signal was the world’s leading encrypted text app, it was the literary magazine of the SS. What did Western soldiers think the Allies were fighting for? Signal interviewed captive British and American troops in 1944. What they said will shock you! Or not:

By the second day of our visit to the transit camp, we realized that there was no common opinion among these English and Americans. Each one had his own goal for the war, which contradicted those of the others. The ten officers and soldiers that we selected for this Signal article are typical of the larger group of prisoners that we talked with. There were professional officers, including an English lord, civil servants, attorneys, students who were reserve officers, a Jew from Philadelphia, and common workers from England and New York.

We encountered the opinion that England and America had to fight National Socialism because otherwise their rich homelands could not live in peace and in quiet. Some thought that National Socialism probably was no better nor worse than what they had at home. Others said they were fighting only because they had to, and that they wanted to go home as soon as possible. Only one wanted to remain in Europe to “democratize” it.

A large number did not even know where Germany was. As many openly favored Bolshevism and said that the war would soon lead to a revolution in England that would sweep away the ruling class. Others even believed that the landing in France was the first stage of a third world war between the Anglo-Americans and the Bolshevists. That was only the view of a few officers from the English upper class.

We encountered a confusion of views, opinions, hopes, and faiths. When at the end of our conversations these American and English soldiers and officers were shipped to POW camps in Germany, we concluded that this complete intellectual confusion seemed typical for the Anglo-American invading army.

To see ourselves as others see us! Complete intellectual confusion, alas, may even be the hallmark of Anglo-American history… I demand more such content. Signal is killing it these days and could get back into publishing. At least put the old archive back online?

When people ask me to summarize the war I have a stupid answer. I observe that, by the year 11000, so much will have happened that World War 2 will get only 3, or 5, or maybe even 7 words, in some history book. Those words will be: “America conquered Europe,” or “America and Russia conquered Europe,” or even “America and Russia conquered the world.”

Yes, you say. But we conquered because—otherwise they would have conquered us! We conquered them—in self-defense! Sure. OK. When the police find two men with knives covered with blood, and a third slain with a knife in his hand, it is entirely possible that the two slew the third in self-defense.

But—they would look into it. Have you looked into it? Drill into the frame.

Anticolonialism is a form of colonialism

For how on earth can we understand Gaza, when we cannot understand Dresden?

When all our ideas of war, all our rules of war, our whole picture of human conflict, seems to owe nothing at all to any war before World War II, and few wars after it? When a besieged city, which is what Gaza is, is hardly a new thing in human affairs… but never forget that Dresden, in February 1945, was militarily far more at its enemies’ mercy than Gaza today. Hamas, for instance, is obviously going to survive the war.

Sam, you scored another point on me in Sam Kriss Studies when I condemned you for Byronic Palestinian fanboying. Look at the vivid words, you reply, in which you yourself, Sam Kriss, have condemned this exact trope of Byronic fanboying:

There’s a certain kind of discourse I’ve come to really, really hate: the way some people go into rhapsodies over violent Palestinian resistance. The courage! The heroism! Put a red triangle in your display name; hoot at videos of rockets exploding against a Merkava’s Trophy APS like you’re watching the football. Isn’t it thrilling? Isn’t it fun to root for your team?

Sam: these people are doing the same thing as you. They’re just embarrassing you by making it obvious.

You are vastly more tasteful than them—the principle is the same.  This is addict speak—you’re not an addict, that guy—now, that guy is an addict—you only smoke that stuff, just, like, once in a while… The whole conflict is caused by this addiction—which the Western world must stop in one step, without any semblance of moderation.

As I keep telling my well-meaning conservative friends: what’s happening at these protests isn’t anti-Semitism. “It’s something even worse. It’s anticolonialism.”

Red-state hobbits: I love you. Steal this. You will always get a laugh, and it’s true. Whereas what I tell my well-meaning progressive friends is: anticolonialism is the worst form of colonialism. This is true too. It will probably not get a laugh.

There is no such thing as indigenous anticolonialism. Anticolonialism is an export product—like glass beads, or Belgian rifles, or Hollywood movies. Or opium. The trouble is that while opium is a vice for its consumers but a job for its producers, anticolonialism is a vice for both its producers and its consumers. On either side of the relationship, it does nothing but harm. And on either side of the relationship, there is nothing else. It is all the same, all the way down, for more than a century.

In the geology of the historical relationship between the Anglo-American elite and the Arab world, you think that those rhapsodic, bloodthirsty gladiatorial fanboys are but a thin stratum of manure atop a sound base of moral rock and soil. Consider the possibility that you are mistaken—that the story is nightsoil all the way down. Every decade deposits its stratum of turds, which time and pressure leach and pack into something like rock. I can see why you would think it was rock. But it is not rock. Actually the Anglo-Arab relationship is made entirely of shit and always has been. Look at the relationship between Laborites and Egyptian nationalists in the 1920s—you’ll find exactly the same romantic garbage.

While my unrealistic policy would be to also sever the Anglo-Israeli relationship—imagine having such a solid harem, then breaking up with both your girlfriends—there is a kind of healthy, personal warmth that I find lacking in its Semitic sister. Israel is part of the Western world—or at least, its old Ashkenazi ruling class is. Many Arab countries have Westernized governing classes, but not ones as deep as Israel’s.

(Do you want the best of the Anglo-Arab tradition? Try Glubb Pasha. You won’t like him. Heck, try Lord Cromer! And I’m curious as to what you make of Meinertzhagen…)

The Armenian analogy

But why on earth would anyone with a moral compass waste a single breath on Gaza, when so much breath is put into it—and so little into the friendless Armenians? As Hitler once put it: “who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?” History is sad because it never seems to change.

Today’s Armenians are not being annihilated, of course. Just expelled by military force. Forgive me for my shallow approach to Sam Kriss Studies—but here is the only thing I could find about the ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh from your writing, Sam:

I asked [the AI] to explain Armenia-Azerbaijan relations in the form of a recipe for cheese fondue, and it did:

The Nagorno-Karabakh region is like the cheese (1/4 pound each of shredded gruyère, gouda, and fontina) in the fondue, a central component that is essential to the dish.

The historical tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan are like the wine and water in the fondue, providing the base and setting the stage for the conflict.

The recent outbreak of violence in 2020 is like adding flour and garlic to the fondue, stirring in the ingredients and causing the mixture to thicken and become more heated.

Cute! Then he goes on to some other cute, unrelated, point.

It’s easy to explain, Sam: you are just not a fan of the Armenian peoples. The conflict, the ethnic cleansing, that Nakba 2.0 leaves you cold—like a Lakers fan seeing a 76ers game on TV at a bar in with your friend in Philly. Then the guy next to you at the bar explains how the refs are fixed. Yeah sure buddy. The refs are fixed.

And yet—in a way—the Armenians are lucky. They didn’t lose their lives. They only lost their property. They didn’t cower under bombs. They took a capital loss. They can probably write it off on their taxes this year. Maybe they even made the right choice by not having big American friends? The Israelis, the Gazans, and the Ukrainians all do have big American friends. And how much good has it done them? Objectively?

Someone more perceptive than you, I think Jacob Siegel, remarked that there is no Arab-Israeli conflict and never has been. There is only an American civil conflict. There is a conflict in the Anglo-American world, and also within Anglo-American liberal Jewry. But liberal Jews are not the only Anglo-American friends of the Arabs.

On the deep history of the Arab-Israeli problem, there is one text that reigns supreme: Elie Kedourie’s Chatham House Version. Kedourie traces the threads that lead Arabism from a clique of British colonial bureaucrats in Egypt and the Sudan to the vast international diplomatic self-licking ice-cream cone it is today. The missing link between Lord Byron and Dennis Ross is, of course, Lawrence of Arabia. Literally!

Even in the prewar colonial period, even before the Cold War, we can see easily that all anticolonial movements are projections of colonial domestic politics. In retrospect, even Irish “nationalism” has been a cat’s paw for London liberals since Gladstone took on the Church of Ireland. Small wonder that Sinn Fein, whose name in Irish Ebonics means “ourselves alone,” the party of the IRA, bent its knee to the Church of George Floyd. On the other end of the planet—Floyd was almost an honorary Maori. An extremely indigenous moment, gentlemen! You can’t say it’s not intersectional.

You can tell that anticolonialism is a colonial movement because if it did not all come from the same place, it would not be the same everywhere. Instead it is. How is the connection not obvious? How far is it from the white man’s burden to white guilt? At least the white man of old could carry his burden—the best our best can do is drag it.

Look at how deeply conditions of basic order and security—the most fundamental task of the state—have diminished, in how many places, since 1900. What do we have to brag about to the High Victorians? Our technology? They would not have built it? Can you even imagine what the Victorians would have done with our technology? Then you criticize their understanding of political science—perhaps unmatched in human history. I’m glad they can’t see me having to talk down to you like this!

(Sam, you should be the best England has to offer. But… try reading Lecky, or Maine, or Froude. Heck, write a review of Carlyle’s Latter-Day Pamphlets. Someone will print it! Think you understand colonialism? Never read Seeley’s Expansion of England? Check. Lol. The only real difference between us, Sam, is that you publish in the Guardian, and my publisher got doxed by the Guardian.)

The empire-builder and the philanthropist are the same man—separated only by time and decay. The early empire-builder is both missionary and soldier, both aid worker and settler, both bush-doctor and trader. As European imperialism advances, the missionaries rise and the settlers fall. Anticolonial “soft power” defeats colonial “hard power.” Eventually the prewar missionary-industrial complex grows into the modern aid-industrial complex and winds up ruling the world—the Third World, that is. And in the end, even a donkey can foresee—the whole world will become the Third World.

In other words, anticolonialism is a form of colonialism. This is why anticolonialism is the same all over the world. In every historical case, the anticolonialist regimes are objectively less indigenous than the colonialist regimes they replace—and, of course, far less competent. (But caring about that would require actual empathy—not mere Byronic ambition, now hardened into today’s oily global diplomatic bureaucracy.)

For example, in India, the post-independence Congress regime is far more English in nature—essentially Fabian socialism, as seen through the eyes of the vast army of babus and pundits that would become the “Permit Raj”—than the Raj itself, which inherited many designs from the Mughals. And the Raj worked much better. Not that anyone cares. (Try Nirad Chaudhuri’s Thy Hand, Great Anarch, on the end of the Raj.)

To be an anticolonialist in the Third World, either before or after independence, is to be a mindless puppet of Anglo-American elites. Just different Anglo-American elites. Your political system is no longer a puppet of United Fruit, but rather of the Harvard Center of Latin American Studies. United Fruit didn’t care how your country was governed—so long as the peons kept coming to work. But Harvard has lots of ideas… has your country become less American, or more? And how’s that working out for you?

To be an anticolonialist in the First World is to be the master of these puppets—or, at least, inspired by that fire of mastery and leadership. You can be Lawrence of Arabia without even getting sand in your socks. Gaza on campus today is a pure drug—that drug is passion. And you can’t buy passion. It’s intellectual fentanyl. Heck, it’s porn.

Kick the Palestine pill

Matthew Yglesias, who despite his own savage racial beating in 2011 also thinks he can be a functional addict to leftism, has made a useful distinction: he distinguishes between the Palestinian people (or rather, their welfare), and the Palestinian cause.

Talking about the Gulf states and their general refusal to admit the Palestinians or even give them money, Yglesias stumbles on—a broader pattern:

What’s peculiar about the Palestinian issue, though, is that this normal level of indifference to the welfare of foreigners coexists with what we’re told is a profound level of preoccupation with their fate.

The key is that their concern is the success of the Palestinian cause (the reversal of the Nakba) rather than the welfare of the Palestinian people.

Indeed. This tension between cause and welfare is the hallmark of anticolonialism—and even of progressivism as a whole.

When I see leftism consistently choose cause over welfare—not only when it is out of power, when it is in—I observe a fundamentally meretricious and poisonous element. It is not a trace element, like selenium, which is poisonous in large doses but essential in small ones. It is a toxin, like arsenic—which should not be in orange juice. At all.

If leftism did what it says on the box, I would have no problem with it. But what it says on the box is welfare. And what I see written all over your face, Sam, is cause. As Knut Hamsun observed during his Minnesota years: the Unionists did not hate the Confederates because they pitied the slaves, but because they envied the masters.

Every one of these client peoples has some cause preached upon them—typically first in the 19th century by Presybterian liberals, later in the 20th century by globetrotting diplomats, and still today by oily aidocrats, envious and narcissistic journalists, and self-important professors—and that cause almost always conflicts with their welfare.

The welfare of the Indian people rejoiced in perhaps the best government that that subcontinent ever got. The Indian cause required that India throw it away, and instead get… Partition and the Permit Raj. The welfare of the Gazan people cries out for evacuating every human being who is not a soldier from the besieged city. The Palestinian cause demands that even the toddlers stay there as human shields. Ugly!

Think about it: if you had a friend in Gaza—not one of your political friends, but an ordinary adult person who doesn’t care about power and just wants to live her best life—what would you want for her? To get her out of Gaza. And out from under Hamas?

Gosh. If you extend that empathy—normal, healthy human empathy, not voyeuristic, masturbatory, Byronic ambition—to the whole Gazan population, maybe you will be ready to rethink your foreign-policy perspectives. Based on welfare—not on cause.

Or will Hamas not let her leave? It is quite possible that Hamas would block the flight of civilians to safe housing. Then we see what your friend is—just another hostage.

Which side are you on—your friend’s? The hostages, or the kidnappers? You are not a man of peace. Sam: you are like every other man—blood makes your dick hard. Own it.

Our ahistorical reality

And yet there is a sense, Sam, in which you are totally right when you call my ideas unrealistic. They are. They are unrealistic. One way to see how unrealistic my ideas are is to ask which Israeli politicians support my obvious policy of evacuating Gaza.

The answer is: none. None, that is, including the most radical right-wing settlers. Who get in trouble with the Guardian when they call for “voluntary emigration” from Gaza, or even restoration of the old Israeli settlements. No one is for a Nakba 2.0—not even one conducted with the highest old-Swiss standards of the International Red Cross. How could they be? They would probably get their US visas revoked. Or the Israeli Supreme Court would sue them into bankruptcy. Or something like that. Come on.

This is how powerful the 20th-century reality distortion field is. Not even the most radical right-wingers can imagine applying the simple rules of history to the present reality—as if the “nations” of today were historical nations, not realistic “nations.”

The reason for this lie is that all politicians are realists and live in a real world they did not invent and cannot change. If any of them can change it, he is one in a million. For the rest—for everyone—reality is the real context of real power in which we live.

And yet this does not satisfy me—because while I can see this frame, the frame itself is still relative to a broader picture of history. Any present is in the frame of its past.

In your narrative, this history remains essentially a Marvel movie, though with certain disturbing deviations. These puzzling moments give the story the dark and mysterious tone that any 21st-century audience demands. What do they mean? Who knows? In the new cinema, the director never needs to answer the question.

In my narrative, the past is bleaker and more fucked-up than you could ever imagine. The good guy of World War I is the Kaiser. The good guy of World War II is no one. The reality we live in is not actually historical reality. It is a broken simulation. It is the wreck of the failed utopian order designed by the designers of World War II.

We have reached a point at which, to act reasonably, to save lives, we must act outside the debris of this historical disaster. We must stop claiming exceptions to the utopia. We must escape from the utopia itself—which considerably predates the 20th century. We must act not relatively, but absolutely.

Reality and history have diverged. Reality is ahistorical and history is unrealistic. When I think about the present as if the present was part of history, I am being unrealistic, you tell me. I am. You are right. But also, you are being ahistorical.

By definition, history always wins in the end. What this will mean we cannot know—except that it means that the transition from ahistorical reality to unrealistic history cannot be gradual. Anyone who wants to abolish reality and restore history should not be thinking about it locally or gradually. Reality is abolished all at once or not at all.

One world

We start from where we are, which is here: our ahistorical reality. Which is 100% real. On some days this is hard for me to believe. But there you have it. What is it? Where did it come from? Who invented it, and why? What was it supposed to be and do?

We should not expect this accidental order to work. We should be happy and surprised when it does, by accident, work. But to see the dream as its dreamers dreamed it—will cost no more than a few bucks. Order a vintage copy of Wendell Willkie’s One World—easily found, as it was an immense national bestseller. (It is from the same ideological stream as Hitler Lives—but way more upbeat.)

Writing in early 1943, Willkie—the Republican shill candidate in 1940, who had been a Democrat until six months before the election—understands the meaning of the war. And he understands the world the war is designed to create. This plan did not work—but we cannot understand its failure without understanding its intent.

Chapter 12 of One World is titled: THIS IS A WAR OF LIBERATION. It starts with this interesting sentence:

This war that I saw going around the world is, in Mr. Stalin’s phrase, a war of liberation.

Indeed. By the way, Willkie, on his world tour, has a great time with Stalin:

Stalin is a simple man, with no affectations or poses. Once I was telling him of the Soviet schools and libraries I had seen—how good they seemed to me. And I added, “But if you continue to educate the Russian people, Mr. Stalin, the first thing you know you’ll educate yourself out of a job.” He threw his head back and laughed and laughed. Nothing I said to him seemed to amuse him as much.

Strange as it may seem, Stalin dresses in light pastel clothes. His well-known tunic is of finely woven material and is apt to be a soft green or a delicate pink; his trousers are light-tannish yellow or blue. His boots are black and highly polished.

Ordinary social pleasantries bother him a little. As I was leaving, I expressed appreciation of the time he had given me, the honor he conferred in talking so candidly. A little embarrassed, he said: “Mr. Willkie, you know I grew up a Georgian peasant. I am unschooled in pretty talk. All I can say is I like you very much.”

The Republican Party of Wendell Willkie is alive and well in Washington today. Back to Willkie’s “war of liberation,” and its goals:

It is to liberate some nations from the Nazi or the Japanese Army, and to liberate others from the threat of those armies. On this much we are all agreed. Are we yet agreed that liberation means much more than that?

Specifically, are the thirty-one United Nations fighting together agreed that our common job of liberation includes giving to all peoples freedom to govern themselves as soon as they are able, and the economic freedom on which all lasting self-government inevitably rest?

This is the progressive faction in 1940s DC, aligned with that icon of progressivism the USSR, demanding decolonization. In concrete diplomatic terms, it means: liquidating the British, French, Belgian, and Portuguese empires; also, dismantling the mercantilist economic protections built around them (eg, Imperial Preference).

Moreover, these empires are not to be liquidated and their colonies left alone, isolated, like Prester John’s Ethiopia, free to go backward to mud huts or forward to Wakanda. Oh, no! All these liberated human beings will now be incorporated into something bigger. Of course, Willkie expected there to be one world progressive empire, not two.

When Willkie says “one world,” he means it. We are to “unify the peoples of the earth in the human quest for freedom and justice.” This will take a world government—duh:

If hopeful billions of human beings are not to be disappointed, if the world of which we dream is to be achieved, the United Nations must become a common council, not only for the winning of the war but for the future welfare of mankind. While we fight, we must develop a mechanism of working together that will survive after the fighting is over.

When was the last time you heard about the UN lol? Yet there it sits in Turtle Bay. (In 1942, “the United Nations” does not mean an organization—it’s just a pompous way of saying “the Allies,” ie, the international community, ie, the Anglo-American Empire.) What does the UN do? What could make it go away? Wendell Willkie won. Sort of.

In 1942, the Cold War was never supposed to happen. The winning powers of WWII were supposed to unify their regimes into a single global progressive bureaucracy—almost exactly like the EU today. In fact, Willkie was exactly right about Europe today. Even the countries of Europe, he says, will lose all economic and military sovereignty:

The re-creation of the small countries of Europe as political units, yes; their re-creation as economic and military units, no; if we really hope to bring stabilization to western Europe both for its own benefit and for the peace and safety of the world.

This condition—local “political” dignitaries with no economic or military sovereignty—is almost precisely the condition of cities conquered by the Roman Empire. And of course it is exactly the condition of Europe today. (Read Kenneth Weisbrode’s Atlantic Century, a straight-up hagiography (once you really grok a period, you can extract solid history even from its hagiographies) of the US diplomats who invented the EU.)

WWII was a war to end democracy, an abominable system of government which had become universally unendurable. Each power in the war had its own conception of the end of democracy. Our progressive side, whose plan was that democracy would transfer its powers to a professional oligarchy, prevailed. Their fascist side, whose plan was that democracy would transfer its power to a popular monarchy, was defeated.

The east half of our side purported to be progressive but was actually, it turned out, fascist. Sorry we didn’t notice that! This was called communism and it was bad, too. Fortunately we didn’t have go to war to root out communism and it just went away. God is good and we are back on the progressive track for the future of humanitay.

With history’s hindsight, we observe two things about the Wendell Willkie 1943 plan. (Obviously, it is not his plan and would have happened much the same if his plane had crashed. Progressivism has never had a single prophet, leader or even center, not even really FDR—which is perhaps the scariest thing about it. FDR was riding the jihad. He could even steer it. But it was not his. FDR could not have just woken up one morning, changed his mind about everything, and allied with Hitler against Stalin.)

One, stripped of all its honeyed rhetoric, Willkie’s missionary imperialism is a doctrine of world conquest. Not that America will govern the world she conquers! Oh, no. She will influence it, with her “reservoir of good will.” Willkie talks long and eloquently about what we now call “soft power.” Also, there will be no war and no armies (except the UN’s, which is really America’s), and no trade barriers (to American products).

Above all, there will be no other world powers. The Monroe Doctrine is now revealed in its full glory: both a doctrine of world conquest, and a doctrine of world anarchy. And in its insistence on its own ideological monopoly, it reminds us more and more every day of the Brezhnev Doctrine. Every day we see more and more of the hard bones under the velvet flesh of “soft power.” Freedom means: there is no power but us.

Once European sovereignty over Latin America was denied, it followed that European sovereignty over Africa and Asia had to be denied.  But this was only the beginning. European sovereignty over Europe had to end. All sovereignty everywhere had to end.

Once overt kings were no longer acceptable, they were replaced by undercover kings—presidents-for-life, temporary dictators, juntas, etc. For a while this subterfuge was enough; eventually it had to be broken. Every way to break the power of politicians also breaks the power of voters. Elections become celebrity game-show contests.

Everywhere, “political units” could no longer be “military units” or “economic units.” Even the logic of domestic cultural politics had to be subjugated by global soft power. In the end, war and trade were not exceptions. Democracy was not an exception. Every kind of local or distinctive power had to be suffocated. And no one would even miss it—since, in general, these local institutions were not good.

Even internal American authorities would bend to this force. The last remnants of state sovereignty were crushed in the South in the 1960s. Now the US cannot even police its “borders.” Why have borders anyway? No one can tell you—because we all believe in One World. In the end… Willkie was right? He certainly anticipated Fukuyama. Not that Willkie was original. But Fukuyama is not a historian.

Two, we observe—this plan did not work.

Uniquely in world history, the power that was displacing sovereignty had little or no interest in assuming responsibility itself. At least in 1943 it was still competent to do so, and could successfully occupy conquered countries. Now we could never imagine, for example, the Marines governing Haiti as they did a hundred years ago.

The effective doctrines for military imperialism do not exist. Only missionary imperialism is allowed—only the irresistible global cancer of intersectional anticolonialism—only the UN. And things like the UN. There are many!

Progressivism in world politics vandalized the ancient powers of the world, without bringing any healthy new powers to life. It did create giant, oleaginous, adhesive, cancerous “aid” bureaucracies. Everywhere it goes, the stink of anarchy follows. The Third World, the world American progressivism made from the empires it stole, is its magnum opus. If the Third World has not yet come to you, it will.

And—in the lacunae of anarchy and civil war that its “human quest for freedom and justice” created—new powers, not progressive, not in any way responsible to it, not have risen—Russia, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia. There is nothing nice about these new powers; every one of them is deeply flawed in its own way; above all, they are deeply tentative and deeply disunited. But they are, at least, to some extent, sovereign. How hard would it be for Israel to join them? Not hard… not hard at all… on paper, anyway.

And this, this, is the “reality” in which this absurd Gaza war, with its Lewis Carroll rules in which no one is allowed to win—just because Woodrow Wilson tried to outlaw war itself, and couldn’t quite do it. To outlaw war is to dominate the world. Period. If you can do it—that’s one thing. But to try, and fail—a recipe for blood.

No. I do not want to live in this “reality” and I don’t think anyone should. I want to shut down America’s failed progressive world empire. And I think everyone should. And what do I want to go back to?

History is the other reality

Actually, now that I have figured out that I am living not in timeless history but in the 20th century’s failed progressive utopia, I am much more okay with it.

My reality and my history are not constantly interfering with each other. I just context switch. I know that “nation” means one thing in reality, and another thing in history. And I am okay with that. It’s just a different language. I will maintain that (recorded) history is way bigger than reality—for instance, it is about 50 times as long as our era. But reality exists and history doesn’t, so there’s that.

I understand, for instance, that the Arab-Israeli conflict can never end, because about a hundred years ago a bunch of “internationalists” in top hats decided that wars are bad and no one should be allowed to win them. Don’t blame Wendell Willkie for Gaza—blame Kellogg and Briand. Don’t blame them either. The idea of permanent world peace through permanent world government goes at least back to Kant. (If only these protesters could contemplate, much less complete, the system of German Idealism…)

If no one can win a war, no one can end a war. So wars will never end. Sam, you keep insisting that Israel is sovereign in Gaza. Does Israel have a monopoly of violence in Gaza? Is there no Palestinian fanboy in you? What about those rocket videos? That happened, didn’t it? It’s not CG? Doesn’t look like a monopoly of violence to me.

Today, Israel cannot even conquer Gaza—in which territory, long ago, it used to be the colonial administrator. Militarily, it can conduct infinitely many “mowing the lawn” punitive expeditions. We agree that this is stupid and awful. You think it is stupid and awful because the punitive expedition is a classic colonialist trope. I think it is stupid and awful because the punitive expedition is colonialism at its worst and its weakest.

Strong colonialism is impossible now. It would be against the law—just like deporting the Gazans. Israel can neither govern Gaza nor install another government—in either case, the incoming government officials would just be killed or intimidated. There are ways for any power to easily subjugate a hostile population. They are against the law. They are against Israeli law—never mind international human-rights law! And if you have to ask what Israeli law is—why not ask the Israeli Supreme Court? Lol.

So Israel’s only choice is to let itself be terrorized with impunity, or conduct punitive operations. The punitive operations are followed by a huge wave of support for Hamas from the Western world, neutralizing their intended effect on Hamas. Any personnel they kill are quickly replaced by other enthusiastic martyrs. Hamas, in the end, wins strategically. But not completely. The eruption subsides and the conflict continues;  the barbs lock deeper into Israel’s sides. I feel we are a long way from the endgame.

Israel has no winning move, and Hamas knows it. Eventually the rest of the world will agree on a one-state solution and force Israel to implement it—perhaps with some kind of Palestinian Mandela. Then there will be a brief honeymoon. Then most Jews will leave—and the rest will be driven out. Anticolonialism will win its normal victory.

Usually it is an ugly victory. Its victory in Algeria, a victory JFK himself endorsed, had the charming motto “the coffin or the suitcase.” Americans were all for it. Like any great people, we can believe in anything—from straight-up ethnic cleansing to straight-out blood-and-soil nationalism. Our best thinkers and artists can adore Stalin in the decade of his greatest crimes, then weep madly at the death of a petty felon.

When civilized Europeans considered America in previous centuries, they saw it as a land of madness, anarchy, cults, vigilantes and criminals. As late as the ‘20s, D.H. Lawrence called America “the great death-continent.” To be conquered by this blood meridian, infected by its wild, barbaric whims and moods—what an undignified fate!

Yet the America that infects is infected as well. America does not prevail because she is immune to her own venom—just because she is more resistant than everyone else. As with most invasive species, the source of the pest is also the center of immunity. Can we turn our own evolved resistance genes into a reliable and universal therapy?

The historical alternative

As Julius Evola, on trial after the war, said: “my principles are only those that, before the French Revolution, every well-born person considered sane and normal.”

What are those principles? What are those principles—as applied to the law of war? When nations were nations, not “nations,” when Wendell Willkie was not even a glint in FDR’s eye? In the 18th century, the 17th century, the 16th century or the 6th BC…

Before the age of “enlightenment,” the present considered itself part of the past. Any theory of presentist exceptionalism could only have been entertained as a joke. The age of technology gave us an excuse for exceptionalism. The excuse is fully disproven. From Aristotle’s time to ours, the rules of human political science have not changed. The 20th century just decided to unlearn them. Maybe it’s time to relearn them.

When we step outside the death throes of the 20th-century world utopia, there is an obvious candidate for a standard reference of international law. This is Vattel’s Law of Nations—itself a considered compendium of a tradition that goes back to Grotius and still further to the ancient world.

Let’s apply Vattel to the conflict in Gaza—pretending that both Hamas and Israel are, in some sense, nations. Of course this is not true, because Wendell Willkie. But one way to roll back from Willkie to Vattel would be to make them truly sovereign nations—then apply Vattel’s rules to their dispute.

Let us indulge this dangerous illusion, and see what happens. Obviously, my solution as previously described will happen—Israel will defeat Hamas, evacuate Gaza, clear and redevelop its newly captured property.

Vattel in Gaza

What is the purpose of war, according to Vattel? Book 3, chapter 8, section 136:

The end of a just war is to avenge or prevent injury—that is to say, to obtain justice by force, when not obtainable by any other method,—to compel an unjust adversary to repair an injury already done, or give us securities against any wrong with which we are threatened by him.

As soon, therefore, as we have declared war, we have a right to do against the enemy whatever we find necessary for the attainment of that end,—for the purpose of bringing him to reason, and obtaining justice and security from him.

While Hamas has a base in Gaza and Gaza is right next to Israel, there is no way for Israel to obtain justice and security against its enemy besides conquering Gaza and either replacing its government completely, or moving the people elsewhere, or both.

One reason “mowing the lawn”—making war to punish the Arabs—feels so viscerally wrong is that it is not, in fact, a way for Israel to obtain justice and security against its enemy—except with the hope that hurting Hamas and Gaza will teach them the error of their ways.

History teaches us that this punishment does not work, making Israel’s tactics wrong—not because they are too harsh, but because they are too weak. The problem with punishing the Arabs is that it strengthens American support for the Arabs, which more than counteracts the intended effect on Arab morale. The only true law of war is: if it hurts people and doesn’t work, don’t do it.

Of course, there are some situations where avenging the wrong is sufficient to prevent any recurrence of the wrong. This is clearly not one of them. Rather, the only way for the Israelis to obtain justice and security from the Gazans after October 7 is to occupy and seize their land, moving them to somewhere where they cannot harm Israel. The idea that this is not militarily straightforward, given the military disparity, is comical.

Avenging is not the end—it is only one permissible means toward the end. While it is permissible, it is only permissible if it actually works. Any tactic or strategy that does not work is only a recipe for useless violence.

The end of war is always peace—peace on the terms of the strongest party. Justice and security for the victor. “International” diplomacy aside, the strongest party is clear. Wherever the strongest party is clear, there is no motivation for mutual combat.

This simple rule of “might makes right,” which is always the law of war, is the way in which that the Azeris were allowed, on the basis of basically no reasonable argument so far as I can tell, to ethnically cleanse and seize Nagorno-Karabakh. With almost no physical harm to any of its residents—who just left. Losing their land and property.

How much better is that than being bombed? Than having to live in a war zone? Gosh. The Armenians have taken some bad raps—but at least the “Armenian cause” has never really taken off at Harvard. (I think it’s because the Armenians are already Christian, sort of—which is weird, and deranges the whole missionary impulse.)

Basically, the blame for Israel’s tactics falls on the “international community,” aka the State Department, because “mowing the lawn” is the only action that State permits. Other than “bend over and take it,” or, in the longer term, “the coffin or the suitcase.” Since “mowing the lawn” is not an effective military tactic, it is not morally acceptable. One wonders if the Gaza protesters are sensing this in some way. Nah probably not.

But is conquest of territory an okay thing to do? Book 3, chapter 13, section 194:

If he has to do with a perfidious, restless, and dangerous enemy, he will, by way of punishment, deprive him of some of his towns or provinces, and keep them to serve as a barrier to his own dominions.

Nothing is more allowable than to weaken an enemy who has rendered himself suspected and formidable. The lawful end of punishment is future security.

Sounds “sane and normal” to me! Does conquest create a right of ownership? Can Israel conquer Gaza, then turn it over to Jared Kushner to redevelop? Sure thing, bro:

By the rules of the voluntary law of nations, every regular war is on both sides accounted just, as to its effects; and no one has a right to judge a nation, respecting the unreasonableness of her claims, or what she thinks necessary for her own safety.

Every acquisition, therefore, which has been made in regular warfare, is valid according to the voluntary law of nations, independently of the justice of the cause, and the reasons which may have induced the conqueror to assume the property of what he has taken. Accordingly, nations have ever esteemed conquest a lawful title; and that title has seldom been disputed.

What is the most aggressive response Israel would be justified in taking in response to October 7? According to the most genteel classical international law, as perfected in the days of pretty little cabinet wars with dripped-out dress uniforms and trumpeters who played Bach—book 3, chapter 8, section 141:

There is, however, one case, in which we may refuse to spare the life of an enemy who surrenders, or to allow any capitulation to a town reduced to the last extremity. It is when that enemy has been guilty of some enormous breach of the law of nations, and particularly when he has violated the laws of war.

This refusal of quarter is no natural consequence of the war, but a punishment for his crime,—a punishment which the injured party has a right to inflict. But in order that it be justly inflicted, it must fall on the guilty.

When we are at war with a savage nation, who observe no rules, and never give quarter, we may punish them in the persons of any of their people whom we take (these belonging to the number of the guilty), and endeavour, by this rigorous proceeding, to force them to respect the laws of humanity.

Just by fighting without uniforms, let alone all that cray Comanche-tier slaughtering, Hamas fighters have entered this legal territory—which survives in GWoT parlance as the “illegal combatant.” The IDF has the right, if not the duty, to execute all its captives on the battlefield. But what about the civilians? Section 148:

But all those enemies thus subdued or disarmed, whom the principles of humanity oblige him to spare,—all those persons belonging to the opposite party (even the women and children), he may lawfully secure and make prisoners, either with a view to prevent them from taking up arms again, or for the purpose of weakening the enemy.

The IDF has the right to invade Gaza, shoot all the Hamas militants (who have given up their rights under the law of war), and detain all the civilians. This is how it works. No one in any other time would have questioned this as a normal result of war.

Actually, even letting all the civilians out of the Hamas fortress is kind of generous:

By the polished nations of Europe, women and children are suffered to enjoy perfect security, and allowed permission to withdraw wherever they please.

But this moderation, this politeness, though undoubtedly commendable, is not in itself absolutely obligatory; and if a general thinks fit to supersede it, he cannot be justly accused of violating the laws of war.

If there are hopes of reducing by famine a strong place of which it is very important to gain possession, the useless mouths are not permitted to come out. And in this there is nothing which is not authorized by the laws of war.

In other words, if their plan is to starve Hamas out—a very solid military plan, given the geography—the IDF is actually authorized, by the laws of war, to keep the Gazans in, so that the women and children compete for food with their husbands and fathers. Caesar, of course, did this at Alesia. Worked like a charm.

What is the best way to peacefully govern a captured territory? According to reality, the occupying power should win hearts and minds. According to history—or at least according to Vattel—the proper technique is quite different:

A conqueror who has taken up arms, not only against the sovereign, but against the nation herself, and whose intention it was to subdue a fierce and savage people, and once for all to reduce an obstinate enemy,—such a conqueror may with justice lay burthens on the conquered nation, both as a compensation for the expenses of the war, and as a punishment.

He may, according to the degree of indocility apparent in their disposition, govern them with a tighter rein, so as to curb and subdue their impetuous spirit: he may even, if necessary, keep them for some time in a kind of slavery.

He said it! He said the S word! Emeric de Vattel, this colonialist, is actually licensing Israel to enslave the Gazans. Who are certainly fierce, savage, impetuous and indocile.

But why would that work? Wouldn’t that just make them more angry? Don’t you have to do the opposite—win hearts and minds? Oddly, old Emeric doesn’t see it that way:

But this forced condition ought to cease from the moment the danger is over,—the moment the conquered people are become citizens: for then the right of conquest is at an end, so far as relates to the pursuit of those rigorous measures, since the conqueror no longer finds it necessary to use extraordinary precautions for his own defence and safety. Then at length every thing is to be rendered conformable to the rules of a wise government, and the duties of a good prince.

No paragraph could make clearer the difference between the old historical political science, which actually worked, and the new realistic political science, which is bogus. Actually, even when the 20th century needed to do a conquest that worked, it forgot about hearts and minds and did it the solid Vattel way. Look at post-1945 Germany! Complete with “forced labor,” ie, slavery. You see, Sam, it really is all connected.

Is it not astounding how Vattel, one of the great legal minds and scholars of statecraft of his day, simply assumes that any government can rule any people? The power and majesty of any state, Vattel believes, can reconcile any population to its affections. A Catholic prince can govern Protestants; a Protestant prince can rule Catholics. And of course the language and race of the prince need not even match the population. As late as the 19th century, the Greeks imported a German king.

For this reason, Vattel does not really cover ethnic relocation policies—unless they concern the relocation of savage populations which do not obey the civic law of war. Vattel would consider this another incentive in favor of civilization and civilized war.

In every war, the rules are mutual. They sink to the lowest standard of either side. If you are at war with Comanches, you are licensed to use the methods of Comanches—but never just because they make you feel warm and good—only if they actually work, and nothing less nasty does. Vattel is a recipe for peace, not endless asymmetric wars.

Note that in the early days of Israel it was thought that a Jewish government could rule Arabs, which is why Arab-Israelis became normal Israeli citizens. Later a war of conquest was forced on Israel—but after these conquests it proved impossible, for demographic reasons and general national sanity, to digest Judea and Samaria and Gaza in this way. Yet for a long time they could still be under colonial government. Then the US hatched the crazy scheme of the PLO’s return from Tunisia—and in that power vacuum, Hamas, an arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, seized control of Gaza.

This clock cannot be turned back. Israel cannot recolonize Gaza. One illusion that died with the paraglider assault on the rave was Jabotinsky’s idea of the iron wall. Fundamentally, any wall has a two-dimensional quality. While it is probably possible to make a wall better than the “iron wall” that Israel had up, which was basically a chain-link tennis fence with some Ring doorbell cameras, modern warfare operates in three. dimensions. Any wall will always be too short. No act of vengeance is adequate. The problem of governing these artificial, Byronic Comanches needs to be solved.

Hamas has turned Gaza into a fortress. If Israel decides to act according to history, not reality, and obey the natural laws of Vattel, not the weird whims and whimsies of the increasingly-demented American progressive elite, here is what it will do with this fortress.

Israel will recognize that the Gaza Strip is a besieged city and offer to evacuate its population—who will walk out in single file along the beach, with their hands up. Anyone who stays is either a martyr or a hostage and will be treated as such. Anyone who emerges is safe unless he has committed war crimes, in which case he is a martyr.

Israel, which has a lot of land, will build secure temporary housing for two million people in the desert—and pursue moving them to a charter city in someone else’s desert, or maybe even jungle, or perhaps if Elon can guarantee a safe journey Mars. Hamas has a lot of energy—what if they put it into colonizing Mars? Just a thought.

If the residents of this new post-Gaza have a valid ticket anywhere else in the galaxy, they can go there. Otherwise they stay in secure temporary housing. They can still go to the beach, in VR. The Palestinian people are safe. The Palestinian cause is finished.

Imagine you have a friend in Gaza. You could give them their present experience. Or, by pressing a button, you can give them this experience. Why not press the button for everyone? What is stopping you? Is it not your own vanity and/or ambition?

It is not at all too late to choose the Palestinian people over the Palestinian cause. For the West, the way to make this choice is a policy of neutrality: the normal foreign policy of the age of Vattel. Do not give money, lend money, or sell arms to either side.

We see instantly that neutrality equates to “letting” the Israelis just expel the Gazans—a fate their collective support of October 7 has collectively earned them. Vae victis.  But the IDF will have to do it with their own homemade Uzis. I think they would? Of course, it’s totally up to them.

One of the perverse pleasures of this solution is that it is not just far to the right of the Israeli right, but also far to the left of the American left. Who are not (yet) seriously thinking about banning US investment in Israel, unless your name is “Harvard.”

Actually, one strain of criticism of early 20th-century internationalism was that it was deeply driven by international finance. US lending to Britain and France was indeed a major cause of US entry into the war. In Vattel’s era, international finance was weakly developed. Today he would see it as a dangerous compromise of national sovereignty—as one of Washington’s “foreign entanglements.”

A nation that does not borrow or lend internationally—that pays for all its imports with revenue from exports, and does not allow cross-border capital flows—can obviously be much more independent than one which does. Still greater levels of independence come from self-sufficiency in energy, resources, food and technology. (The cost of exporting technology for America, a creative country, has been immense.)

America is growing dangerously dependent on China. But its independence is pretty strong compared to Israel’s. The early Israel put a lot of work into real independence. The early Israel was a country, not a resort. Can a resort defend itself? A tax haven? Even a real-estate development? Having not only your own language, but even your own alphabet, is quite a piece of independence. But not, I fear, enough.

A true foreign policy of abandoning the American empire would not just allow our old satellites independence. It would force independence on them. It would cut these ties from the center.

Why? Because it is in America’s interest, I feel, to be one nation among many in a healthy world of healthy nations. (Admittedly, I would feel more comfortable about this if we also unilaterally militarized space.) Our diplomatic empire is a blight not only on the world but also on our own country. Just kill it with fire.


As you put it, Sam:

I’m a product of the British private school system. For us, this routine disassembly of another person is a kind of sport. No animus. Some kids played rugby, some took up boxing, but I’m lanky and dyspraxic and I got really good at this instead.

I think multigenerational institutions are awesome. But they have certain weaknesses. Where did you go? Eton? Let’s call it Eton. One phenomenon we see in declining eras is the decoupling of reputation and capacity. Capacity can decline more quickly. What trajectory is Eton on? Or wherever you went? How does it compare to itself in 1924?

You think you are really good at this. You are. But only, I hope we’ve seen, at a trivial and superficial level. You weren’t trained to go really deep into these historical and ideological ratholes. No one is. I wasn’t either. (I was only trained in computer science.)

While you are good at performing the role of the classic irritable London wit, even your rare dissents from the day’s tired orthodoxies are no more than skin-deep. And you have the talent to do better, too! This is the problem of genius in an aging time: your competition is not good enough to keep you in shape. Spend more time with the past.

Ever read any Wyndham Lewis? You could be as good as Wyndham Lewis. But not, I think, without reading Wyndham Lewis. (In addition to being a painter and a novelist, Lewis was also a historian and a political scientist. Check out Left Wings Over Europe.)

The paradox of these institutions and the people in them is that they both take pride in their past incarnations, and hold them in contempt. Generally, ignorant contempt. They hardly ever read the Victorians or Edwardians—except for the rare figure who seems like a piece of the present lost in the past—and when they do, it is never with any kind of sympathy. It is more like the way Eichmann studied Judeology. The past by definition does not need to be gassed, so we will never know if they would do the deed.

Old institutions see themselves as their reputations. These reputations were built over centuries—the way coral polyps build their coral reef. The polyp is real institutional capacity. When it sickens or dies, the reef remains—still proud but no longer capable. All that inhabits the cracks and crevices of the reef’s dead city are algae, lice and eels. Its structure still protects its new residents. But they will never nourish or renew it. Parts may be in this condition; parts bleached but living; even parts in fullest bloom. The actual institution is dying. But its public reputation has barely begun to crumble. Diversity much? Everyone who has seen these institutions from the inside knows how deeply the ideology has corroded their most fundamental functional mechanisms.

In the mid-80s, I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of years in one corpse of the British Empire: the English School in Nicosia, Cyprus. I was only a day student but it had it all—Harry Potter houses, Anglican hymns, school ties, the lot. (As a quasi-Jew, some wag put me in Beaconsfield, who I only found out much later was Disraeli! And what was his color but… yellow?)

The content was even better—a wild mix of High Victorian and mid-century Fabian. We memorized “Ozymandias” but also learned “social studies” from English redbrick sans-serif textbooks. The battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton. The playing fields of Nicosia were better: water being expensive, or something, we played soccer on dirt and gravel. Every wipeout was a dermatological catastrophe—leaving you with knees like German dueling scars. (Since I was an eleven-year-old nerd, I got kneepads and was laughed at.)

And yet the English School was “progressive” enough to teach me calculus at eleven. Imagine any institution able to do that now! There are some. They are very special. They are vastly outnumbered by the set of all eleven-year-olds who could do calculus. For all the English School’s faults (including its a la turca privies, a detail I doubt Eton shares), we can only begin to imagine a whole society educated by its designers. No, they could not make normie children smarter. But what a culture they would create!

We would be imagining—the High Victorians. I sometimes wonder if there would be a market for a “Victorian immersion” education. I also have an unspeakably terrible thought—two thoughts, actually. One is that while many these days talk idly of being “based” or even “keyed,” the Victorians were more based than you can possibly imagine. The other is that if you look at what happened to them—they weren’t based enough.

Would I save the English School? Forty years later—it is probably impossible to save. (As its present website notes, “The English School has a proud history of promoting diversity and inclusivity.”) Heck: in 1984 it was probably impossible to save. Frankly: saving institutions is not my bias. Replacing them is.

I believe—if we applied startup-tier talent and government-tier money, together at the same time (frankly, pure startup attempts in this area have been under-ambitious and under-scaled), we could make a school, an education system, that would look even Eton in 1984 look lame. Perhaps it could even outclass Eton in 1884.

And it would be entitled, maybe more than entitled, to a Sam Kriss level of confidence. But this gap between capacity and self-assurance is always seen in late regimes. One bitter pill for conservatives to swallow is that the current state of a declining system is inherently impossible to conserve. When we see this kind of arrogance—and, clearly, Kriss is one of the machine’s best hacks by far—we must be in the presence of decline.

The procedure

Effort and energy can slow institutional decline, but not reverse it. The specialist we need is the surgeon. Before institutions can be replaced, they must be displaced. And when a neoplasm, infection, or invasive parasite is treated surgically, it is important to remember the wisdom of Bishop Arnaud, in 1209, at the siege of Béziers: novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius. For every condition, the surgeon’s goal is always clean margins.

One of the important things about dissolving institutions, state or nonstate, in the 21st century, is that it is easier and more painless than history teaches us to expect—because all the bonds of society are already almost dissolved.

When you serve an institution—even one as elect as Eton, or the Times, or the State Department—it is ultimately just a job. No one thinks they have a right to a job. If it can employ you, it can go out of business. And then it’s just a line on your resume.

To dissolve the Cathars, or the Knights Templar, or the Communist Party in 1924, you have to actually kill people. Or at the very least threaten them. To dissolve Apple, or Harvard, or the Communist Party in 1989—you just have to edit some databases. The bonds that hold these institutions together are not sacred oaths of blood loyalty. They are employment agreements and business contracts. The heretics of Béziers had to be put to the sword. All that needs to suffer in a 21st-century revolution is the orgcharts. God also loves a good orgchart and will reinvent anything that needs to be reinvented.

When we see liquidating institutions as difficult or even violent, we are larping a lost  world of genuine social loyalty—of tribes, orders, nations and religions. To the extent that these things still exist, they are empty symbols, dead reefs.

The modern urban professional is an atomic producer in a libertarian job market. Even if he is technically an employee, not a contractor, his relationship with his employer (unless he is in Japan) is a shadow of the complex, reciprocal social ties he would, in a medieval society, have across the temporal, spiritual, and commercial worlds. (Even marriages are almost trivially dissolved.) He is not in any way some kind of sworn liege—nor is he a dedicated comrade. An atomic human being is politically nonexistent.

Imagine a world where people stayed loyal to an employer that stopped paying them! Even if they were Harvard professors… Not everything in 2024 is the gig economy. But compared to 1524, everything is the gig economy. Imagine a world in which people would literally fight and die for their employer. Crazy!

Then, as consumers, we are attached, in a desultory brand-loyalty way (the other day I got a CVS “loyalty card” and was reminded of the SS motto, “our honor is loyalty”—does CVS have a motto? Why isn’t it on the cashiers’ belt buckles?), to these brands. This brand loyalty is what accountants call “goodwill.”

It makes little difference in their goodwill whether institutions are nominally “private” or public—I presume that Sam is writing for us American morons and says “private school” when he means “public school.”) At least a non-state brand like Eton or Harvard still has positive equity. This is not necessarily true for the government itself—though we note that those who most hate their government tend to most love its flag, and those who most hate their universities are the biggest fans of college football.  Great old brands, like coral reefs, take a long time to crumble.

But as Gorbachev discovered, they are surprisingly easy to knock over by accident—because no one cares about them. No one would kill or die for the Communist Party in 1989. The Party had captured Russia three-quarters of a century earlier because it was the party than men would kill or die for. The reef was immense. The coral was dead.

It is historically anomalous for any polity to have such a large and powerful system of institutions, public and private, state and voluntary, for which no one is willing to kill or die—which, the minute they no longer exist on paper, will no longer exist at all.

The Hells Angels do not need paper to exist. Apple Computer needs paper to exist. Harvard and the New York Times need paper to exist. All three of these institutions have tremendous internal loyalty—in the top 0.1% of employers. But if they ceased to exist on paper, they would cease to exist at all. The same was true of the Stasi. The same is not true of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Everyone who has ever been a Harvard professor will probably be proud of it. But the same is probably true of colonels in the Stasi. We cannot imagine either recreating the institution, or even trying to, after its unconditional dissolution under a new regime.

No powerful thing can survive a loss of power. It is bound together by its own power. It is not made of underdogs willing to suffer for their beliefs. It is made of conformist strivers ready to say or not say whatever they are supposed to. The evil wizard always turns to dust when his magic ring comes off. The conformist strivers conform—to the new regime.

The Stasi colonels and NYT reporters genuinely think they would go back to the streets and ply their old trade without an infrastructure. The colonels would become “urban revolutionaries” and the reporters would become “citizen journalists.” This delusion would not survive reality for more than a few weeks. You might as well drop off these professional strivers on Kodiak Island, and expect them to kill bears and eat them raw.

And no one, no one, not one single person, will fight for this establishment. Not unless it is his job to do so. That, like Sam Kriss (or the repellent Sohrab Ahmari—I am sorry, frens, that I ever penned for his Soros-funded front)—he is willing to shill for it today, tells us nothing about what he would do tomorrow. Certainly not pick up a rifle! Lol. Tear up the orgchart, and the whole dead reef collapses. The paper is sturdy, but…

Someone had better be ready to replace it! 55% of Americans think our system “needs major changes.” Another 15% thought it should be “torn down entirely.” Especially since I’m quite confident that 99% of the 15% have no idea what to replace it with, these are still rookie numbers.

Everything has have to start somewhere, though. From here we can start to imagine our way to a world in which some significant percentage of these 69% of voters, whose average IQ may even be north of 102, realizes that either “tearing down our system” or “making major changes” is a large, complicated task—and the only way of successfully performing large, complicated tasks that anyone knows is to assign them to one person. Without a monarch, nothing is possible. But with a monarch, anything is possible. But—is a monarch possible?

The dream

The irony of all these slave intellectuals is that they could be imagining a new world. The New Republic—the magazine of Michael Straight, let’s not forget; it’s as if you could still get Signal at any newsstand in Munich—just published a hyperventilating, paranoid mega-issue on the Trumpenreich that will come to us if Orange Man wins. What struck me most was how unimaginative all the nonsense in it was.

Forget the probability of this after another four years of energetic, well-funded, and invisible election fortification. Forget that even if it happened, Trump would have every incentive to pull a Schwarzenegger. Forget that Trump, like Schwarzenegger, looks every inch the king, but only from the front. He has branded many a hotel, but he has never operated a hotel. The only way it could work is if he effectively agreed to be the chairman, not the CEO, of the USG. Which is so not him. But…

The election issue is especially important, because Republicans (who do believe in democracy) see elections as a sacred process, and the politicians who win them as anointed with a kind of holy legitimacy. So Republicans have very little interest in engineering the election process—which cheapens its sacred nature and makes them seem mercenary.

Of course Democrats constantly accuse Republicans of being mercenary. They are sensitive to this charge—since Republican politicians are unbelievably mercenary. They are so mercenary that they are not even in it for power—just money and fame! The followers, however, are unbelievably innocent.

Democrats (who do not believe in democracy) treat it as a military problem—while the “independence” of the civil service, press, judiciary, universities, etc, is their second line of defense, winning elections is their first line of defense. However they can fortify the election—both by more effectively organizing low-information and low-motivation voters, and by weakening security to open doors to undetectable fraud—they are doing God’s work by defending their God-given right to power against the barbaric peasant flyover hordes. (But even if they lose the election, of course, they have the “rule of law” to fall back on. While this unfortunate-female, justice, has started to look a little raddled of late, there is always more concealer for her pox.)

For example, when Republicans read polls, they take these polls as messages from God, via public opinion, that they are winning or losing. Democrats, however, know that polls are normalized against election results. To the extent that they can fortify the election, they prove the polls wrong and make the pollsters adjust their algorithms. And the best pollsters will be those who most accurately anticipate this fortification…

In short, for them to become effective, the psychology of the opponents of the regime needs to completely reverse. Instead of trying to make the sacred idol work, the idol must be cast down and shattered. Instead of treating elections as a religious process, they must be treated as a military process. You win not by having ideas that shine in the eyes of God, but by organizing the most votes, then making sure your politicians use these votes to capture the state and put it in the hands of a single administrator.

(“The libs” understand this perfectly—except instead of “a single administrator,” they would say “professional administrators.” This is the only difference between the two ways to escape from the impossibility of democracy—monarchy or oligarchy.)

Can we imagine this happening? In the beautiful but sadly limited brains of the 69%? God only knows. I think we can—because these brains, as I previously said, are not in any way tied down to any philosophy or religion. (The word “religion” literally means a spiritual tie—the “lig” is the same root as “ligature” or “ligament.”)

21st-century voters are floating atoms in a postmodern meme soup. By their natural instincts, they are most attracted to ineffective, atomized memes of decentralization, libertarianism, anarchy, etc. When they can even perceive the institutional oligarchy which rules them as a form of power, they condemn it with terms, like “tyranny” or “totalitarian,” which literally mean absolute monarchy. In short, if they even realize they have a problem, they instinctively run directly away from the solution. This is the exact structure of a trap. The power of this trap is why these ideologies are so lasting.

But both progressivism and libertarianism have a significant downside in the market for intellectual memes. They are tired. They are for boomers and GenXers and maybe even millennials. They are about as exciting as a stale box of Cheerios from 2020.

Whereas if you asked those 69%, casually, in the elevator, if they could press a button and get “a radical monarchy. Like Napoleon, dude. Or Steve Jobs. Put one guy in charge of the whole system, tell him to do the right thing, and let him do his job. You really don’t think we can find the right guy?”

The right guy certainly exists. The right guy is neither me nor Sam Kriss. We are dreamers. When we intellectuals change the world, it is only because we sell our dreams for others to dream. Why not dream the right guy, dreaming them?

What would he do? Imagine how interesting our conversation would be if it centered around that. Politics is the art of the possible. With a monarchy, anything is possible. Anything can change. Without it, nothing is possible and nothing can change.

Which doesn’t mean you can’t have a good wank, though. What was Brexit? A good wank. Your Gaza protests, Extinction Rebellion, Tommy Robinson, Jordan Peterson, all that—all good wanks. Lovely wanks. But somewhere out there in the deep water of the future is the shadow of a real politics, a politics penetrative and even progenitive.

When there is a real regime change, everyone’s life changes. Why design anything else? Regime change is not impossible. It is inevitable. The question is when—and who. But it will have to be someone. It can’t be an accident. If it is an accident, it will be a disaster. If there is a plan—it might still be a disaster. But it might also be a miracle. As a dreamer, why dream anything but miracles? Sam: you must change your life.

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