Some thoughts on the current American epoch, written on the 4th of July, 2021
We can't keep living like this. We won't keep living like this. That is as core a certainty as I have at this point. That's the thing that keeps me doing politics in 2021. Not victory in my lifetime, perhaps not victory in any recognizable sense, not catharsis, and certainly not the opportunity for some kind of "payback". Just hope. Hope that there is something better coming after our own fake, grating, and mendacious age. What is that exactly? A new spirituality? A new political promised land? A new philosophical perspective? Something different at least. After all, everything that can't go on forever will stop. And our own broken global order, ever falling short of its pretended immortality, very much fits this bill.
The only question remaining is not when the dawn arrives (for no man may know the hour), but in what direction we need to walk to greet it. As we might expect there are many answers to this question. But wherever our journeys lead us in the search, I suspect that the direction forward is not on the path that leads back towards the American project.
If any new and exciting dreams are to emerge, we need a separation from the falsehood of the United States in the 21st century, symbols and all. We need a divide that distinguishes the new project from the old. Perhaps some kind of spiritual divorce? In fact, a spiritual divorce of sorts has been building for quite some time. But this now needs to move beyond vague implications and into a mode of lived reality. After all, don't we all know this is coming? Aren't we sick of living in anticipation of the inevitable? Like the desperate situation of a battered housewife, things need to change. Even if we don't have an escape plan, even if we haven’t packed our bags and can’t yet head out the door, there needs to be a break. We need to start emotionally divesting from our abusive situation.
People talk about our present time as a period of confusion. After all, who can really explain what happened to this country across the last ten years? For myself however, it is more clear. The tectonic shift which started in 2013 and reached maturity in 2020 is the end of the old world. It will mark the point in history when we lost our home, the period when America and Europe ceased to be accommodating to orthodox Christians, middle class families, or peoples of any ethnicity looking to live inside a traditional mode of life. It is clear that the American Dream is over. The country has ceased to be what it once was and once promised to be.
And what has America now become? Perhaps something different? Perhaps something more forward looking? That's the line from our leaders anyways, but don't believe it. It is a fiction.
The world our progressive leaders want to install over the bones of the old is simply not appearing. Its promises did not manifest for the Boomers post-1968, just like its new promises are not manifesting for their children post-2008. Unsurprisingly in the current year, the old leftist vision remains little more than a half baked pipe-dream long since disbelieved by anyone reasonably cogent and sincere. Its continued fantasy now lives only in the minds of old rich Baby-Boomers humming John Lennon's "Imagine", depressed Zoomer nihilists LARPING as communists, and our own global ruling class, ever promising to keep the ship on course and hoping desperately that their mounting debts and contradictions will be resolved by the replacement of humans with artificial intelligence.
But, for better or worse, none of these sad progressive visions will come to pass. There is no progressive plan for America, for England, for France, for Germany, or for any other place where it reigns. In fact, there is no progressive plan for mankind. We who have followed the false promise of progress have replaced something with nothing. We have moved from a country designed as a home for some people (admittedly to the exclusion of some others) , to a country which is the home to no people, a wilderness that only privileges global techno-capital for however long global techno-capital is able to maintain its geographic dominance.
A hyperbolic statement? Perhaps. But for those hecklers in the audience, perhaps I can ask a question. Does anyone today, left, right, or center, feel comfortable or happy with the place we call America in 2021? I don’t mean people who are stuck in oblivious innocence or fantasy. I don’t mean people who got theirs and don’t give a shit about the future. I simply want to know if there is anyone who looks at America, as it is, and thinks that this is something worthy to pass on to their grandchildren and great-grandchildren after them. I don’t expect many people to honestly assent. Even our global leaders, the winners of the “scramble for the West”, can’t hide the nervous grimaces that cross their faces every time thoughts of the future interrupt their hurried work to line their pockets with lucre. Everyone knows this system cannot last.
Well maybe not everyone, but for the most part right-wingers know this. We know that the current order is dying. But those of us who are eager to find out what comes next need to look inward. What really needs to die in an immediate sense is our own "conservative" desire to “make America great again”, to preserve the old order in piece or in whole.
Now, I understand this is hard. The desire for loyalty is noble. But such unexamined commitment is expensive, not least for the misunderstandings it perpetuates. In the long run, playing the conservative to a dying empire will cost us dearly.
But Dave, is this really the step we want to take? To accept our own defeat? To let the West fall into hands of people who hate it? Is that really what you are asking for?
Well really I am just asking for an admission of reality.
True enough, at one time in history the nation, the flag, and pledge were the shields of family and faith. However, their transformation into tools of the woke cultural revolution is well and truly at hand. If power does anything well, it is co-opting symbols. And the national symbols where we vest loyalty today will become the instrument of our destruction tomorrow. What tyranny gives with one hand can be taken away with the other at a time and place that benefits our ruling class.
I write this today looking at the farce of American Independence Day 2021. Here in the Golden State we are celebrating, but not in any meaningful way. In my home town, public gatherings have been cancelled because of a disease that nearly everyone is inoculated against. Precautionary principle maybe, but I seem to remember much less effort being mustered to tamp down the more raucous celebrations a few weeks earlier. Oh, and speaking of "Juneteenth", we apparently have two independence days now! How long do you imagine this redundancy is going to last? Are we really going to celebrate the “white” independence day when there is “Black” one? And, now that you mention it, why are we even celebrating America when our trusted media believes that the country’s establishment was synonymous with the institution of slavery? If leftists believe that that the 1776-declaration was a veiled defense of African bondage, why are all those progressive boomers putting flags on their lawn and shoving frankfurters down their throats?
The writing on the wall could not be more clear. Patriotism is a conditional privilege. Something that the ruling class allows us to have but that they can take away at any time. And why would they take it away? Political expediency maybe. Removing a prized object is always a good way to antagonize political enemies in the event of an election. But we shouldn't discount good old-fashioned sadism. After all, this is how the progressive movement operates. It's not enough for them to get what they want. They need their opponents to feel the defeat. They need to find an enemy and drive that adversary before them with all of the spite their activist spirit can muster. Progressivism isn't about a way of doing things, its about standing triumphant over a vanquished monster. And if no monster is forthcoming, well then, a crisis can be manufactured to draw out all of the secret Fascists that progressives always knew were there. As always the order of the day is pure catharsis to the benefit of no one.
Of course this doesn't make any sense in the light of a Civics 101 understanding of politics. It makes perfect sense from in the light of a Chimpanzee-status politics. To operate in the former is to operate in a fantasy land. To operate in the later is to operate in the desert of the real, to grasp the political crisis of our time.
As in all political crises, our problem emerges from a mismatch between the strength demanded by a position of power and the strength manifested by its rulers. At this point white America and the power elite who deign to rule them, are weak. Various parties can seize power, they can dominate their political opponents, but they cannot wield power or use it to make good on any of their commitments. America is too big. It’s vision is too heavy, it's contradictions too numerous. The raw political strength required to honestly fulfill its role does not, and perhaps will never exist. As such, only fools and cynics line up for the task of governing our Leviathan.
America may not be the promised land, but it was a land of many promises. In fact, in its initial conception, America was itself a promise. It was a promise of a specific set of negative liberties to a specific set of people in a specific geographic area. Later this was universalized inside the nation, still later given a positive conception, and then much later declared to be universal to the world. As it stands today, in the latest instantiation of civil rights, America seems to promise a strange type of positive ever-expanding egalitarianism starkly at odds with its original concept of liberty. In toto, taking these claims seriously, it would seem that America promises everything to everyone at all times. Liberty and civil rights, freedom and equality, equality under the law and equity of outcome, freedom of association and freedom from discrimination. Does this make sense? Perhaps. Just don't look at the fine print.
However, in the actual world where actual decisions get made none of this works. The only way to resolve these contradictions is through politics. Hence the need for catharsis, scapegoating, cancel culture, and political sadism that keeps us playing Chimpanzee-politics instead of planning for the future. Politics has become bimodal and Manichean. When promises contradict or become theoretically unable to be fulfilled, power has to fill the gaps and maintain the illusion. To be sure someone will win and someone will lose, but at all times the narrative has to be maintained. Everyone is equal and has equal rights!
In such a strange and contradictory system, winning is a matter of narrative. Victory is a game of framing ones political allies as deeply “owed something”, while portraying ones enemies as people who "haven't paid their fair share". After all everyone is trying to chase down a promise that was made to them as one stage or the other. And who is going to make good on all of these commitments? Well the political narrative decides. And its decisions are rarely based on who is actually privileged. That's the only way you get white working class red-necks who seem to owe America everything, and multi-millionaire celebrity victims who thinks America owes them big.
The 30,000 foot view of this problem is pretty straight-forward. America, as it has already done in the financial sector, has set itself up politically as the ultimate debtor and the ultimate debt collector. On paper it looks like it owes everything to itself. In reality, it works quite differently. When you work both ends of a bargain, who ultimately owes who can vary based on political convenience. A such, our leaders have never met an impossible promise they haven't loved. Promising and borrowing are the order of our age, and America has become heavy with debts, both financial and spiritual.
This is where the modern left comes in. After all, a nation of debts needs debt collectors! Say, has your conservative neighbor really done everything for the cause of anti-racism? Has he gone the extra mile? Is he a secret free-loader who is holding out on everyone else and perpetuating the injustice in our society? What about the business down the street? The university? I would imagine their debt of racism, sexism, and homophobia is pretty high. All they need is just a good leftist to loosen their wallet and get them to pay up, for the greater good of course. The job of the modern left is the job of spiritual debt-collection. And this job pays well, sometimes just in terms of status and clout, but also sometimes financially. Just find the old-fogies and backward businesses still doing things the old way, bring them low, smash their symbols, then turn them towards the new straight and narrow and watch the rewards come rolling in.
This is a pattern that we are all used to at this stage. And I have noticed that those on the outside of this process are coming to two common conclusions. First, everyone, at some level, realizes that no cherished tradition or symbol really can be saved once it falls under the spiteful gaze of progressive activists. Second, and more ironically, most everyone is also beginning to suspect that the left needs this strange vindictive iconoclastic cycle to continue. I mean, what would they even do if it suddenly stopped?
And here conservatives find themselves at an impasse. Here their natural instinct to "fight back" and defend the old ways is working at cross purposes to their desire to undo the left. I mean, not to sound like a rape-apologist, but might there be something conservative America is doing to attract all of this hostile and unwanted attention? Something loud and symbolic? Coincidentally have you ever wondered, like my younger-self, why Italians, Germans, and Irish feel white guilt when they think about their culture but Turks, Armenians, and Jews do not? The answer isn't skin tone, religion, or average per capital income.
Strangely enough, the key part of this dynamic seems to come down to symbols and roles they play in the great cultural narrative. After all, being a debt collector is only profitable when their are debtors to harangue. And the only way you can really identify a debtor is through the symbolism he attaches to himself. Once the symbols used to easily identify the debtors go away, things become a lot more complicated. Cancelling an old loyalist or conservative is all good fun. Nothing really changes. The distinctions between debt-collectors and debtors is maintained. The show goes on. However, what happens when hunter and quarry are hard to distinguish? Once debt-collectors try to collect from each other, people become confused. Things become scary. The game is one step closer to pure chaos. The mask of political legitimacy slips. And a new political mode will seem increasingly necessary.
You can see the beginnings of this new mode in the eyes of each freshly cancelled progressive. There is a moment of clarity. This wasn't how the game was supposed to be played. They were supposed to be the winners! They were supposed to be contenders! Now they are the chaff that gets chewed up by the machine? Do these discarded activists become right wing? Hardly ever. But the cancelled leftist never believes in the dream ever again. There is a moment of honest disillusionment about the process. It is clear that, as leftists, they are participating in politics at the most crass level. And right-wingers should not scoff at these banal realizations. Regimes are built on a foundation of true believers. When the faith wanes, the pillars will fall.
Whatever our loyalist instincts might say, it seems a necessary first step to distance oneself from the prominent (but ultimately superfluous) symbols of national power and patriotism. Again, I understand the reluctance, this goes against every proper "conservative" instinct we have. It's an act of surrender, it seems, superficially at least, to display weakness. Nevertheless, I think that this is the only way. That which is ostentatious, that which is obvious, and obviously connects us to a larger liberal political projects is a liability. Something that is too heavy for us to carry forward if we value the things that truly matter.
Of course, very critical distinctions to be observed. Some things really do matter (be they symbolic or confessional) and need to stay. We aren't throwing out the sacred baby with the political bath water. We have core loyalties: loyalties to our families, to our peoples, to our homes, and, most importantly, to God. To discard these is to discard ourselves. But is loyalty to the symbols of the throne, the nation, and the bank really on the same level? These things are corruptible and manifestly corrupt. And, while we might have a duty to save temporal things even from their own self-debasement, we also have priorities.
At this stage, I am ready to take a sort of Marie-Kondo approach to determining what actually is worth holding onto in this turbulent age. Go and look at the symbols and traditions that hold your loyalty. If you take each, look deeply at it what it is, what it means for you, what if could mean for your posterity in the future, are you filled with a sense of spiritual joy? Perhaps even a profound dread if that thing were to become lost? Or an overpowering sense of duty? Without one of these emotions then I am afraid that the thing in question is very likely superfluous. Perhaps another question is in order? Has the thing in question become a tool in the hands of your enemies to accomplish your own dispossession? Is it something that might become an impediment to the pursuit of something that does matter? If so, it might be time to take a step back.
But perhaps I am being dour. This process of shedding old symbolic obligations, like the Kondo-method itself, should be liberating! After all, we are making our lives more compact and less cluttered. After all how many of these fake loyalties do we really need?
For starters, do we really need loyalties Professional Sports Teams? Perhaps this is clearer during the summer of the woke Euro-cup and the Olympics. But does anyone think professional spectator sports, international or local, are not simply an instance of political theater? Is there a major corporate sponsorship that hasn't gone woke? Have we fully implemented BLM prayers to diversity at the beginning of each game? If so, do we stand or kneel during that part of the ceremony? It seems like even the players themselves can’t agree. Perhaps they can watch more ESPN to get on message?
Perhaps we need to keep entertainment symbolism based around national pride? Captain America and all that jazz. “AMURICA, F-yeah!” Perhaps this is just me being a Blue-stater but was this ever cool? I mean Captain America was cool. But isn't he becoming woke? Was he ever not woke? We might all be on Team America, but is America on our team? I guess its natural to be patriotic when there is an external enemy. Perhaps this iteration of spreading the American Way of life via rainbow colored drone strikes is cringe. But when was this ever based?
Alright, but maybe we should still preserve the story mythology of the revolutionary Founding? The ideals of classic liberty they fought for! Not by my reading. And hey, I like that history. I like that mythology. I even liked “Hamilton!” But can’t we all see that this myth puts us on the same progressive treadmill as before? Can’t all of the cool liberal kids so blinded by their new progressive toy, “Hamilton!” see that the subject of their obsession will be considered borderline racist in 20-years? They are waiting in line to be just like their cringe conservative boomer parents who were fans of “1776!” and dressed up like a minute-man to protest government tax-policy. There is a cruel joke built into this historical cycles. Won’t the audience for this myth start wondering if it has become the butt? And even beyond progressive-creep, the real irony remains. There is not a single founding father who, if transported to 2021, would not condemn the United States and its people as weak and unworthy of republican government they fought for in 1776. At some level everyone realizes this, and the devotion to these old great men is fading. After all, weren't those guys all Free Masons anyway?
And finally, what about our devotion at the most basic level? Should we still appreciate the national Flags or celebrations of American nationalism? And here's the rub. Do these things still feel right in 2021? They don't feel right for me. And I get it. I am the archetypal blue state bugman, recovering hopefully. I know people aren't all like me. People have fought in the military, defended the flag, raised their children in communities that are un-ironically patriotic. And that's all healthy, certainly healthier than the culture I was raised in. But beyond the symbols and narratives weren’t there supposed to be ideals? Are you sure those are still the same ideals this country stands for?
It's better to make a clean break. Better to to stop celebrating independence day and enjoying the grand statues of our anti-catholic founders before each in turn is either smashed to relieve the left's all consuming need for sadism, or worse, used as symbolic fetish to feed the cruel desire for some anti-white racial vengeance. And even beyond these concerns, isn’t there is something to be said for walking away, and focusing on an identity outside of this whole mess? What's the worst that could happen?
In fact, turning one's back on the symbols might even be a kind of weird "power move" if performed by Red America in unison. Not only would it accelerate the left's own tendency towards self-destruction, it would send a shot across the bow of the mainstream that they would not soon forget. Just imagine a scenario. For all the terror (mostly feigned) drummed up by pundits in response to the January 6th capital riots, how much greater would the reaction be if, one independence day, the blue america woke to the news of the fly-over country abandoning their flags, declaring themselves no longer American, and demanding a debt owed for red American blood spilled in Blue American wars. The political dynamic would change in that moment as every single coastal PMC shat themselves in abject terror.
Perhaps it is a bit of a LARP to imagine this happening all at once. And even if the change was immediate would it destroy the left? No. But it would simplify the impasse where we are stuck at present. By stepping away from symbolic loyalty, we go from a very complicated three-dimension problem, balancing loyalty, obligation, and strength, to a simpler one-dimensional question of strength. When one party is obstinately more loyal and more obligated, the task of sadistic rent seeking is easy. Who gets to be the groups bled out to obtain payment for America's debt of racism, climate change, and imperialism? Today there is an easy answer to this because there are groups who profess overt loyalty to the symbols of "American Normalcy", "Whiteness" , and patriotism. But tomorrow, if things change, the answer might be just "whoever is weakest". This is a dark answer to be sure, but more truthful to the reality of the politics we are trapped in. And as they say, recognizing a trap is the first step at escaping it.
For dissidents the immediate question, as always, is to how to live in a declining civilization. It's not that things are so desperate, things are quite comfortable. It's just that it is very hard to actually see a future. It's very hard to understand what role we need to take going forward. Things are too complicated even to imagine.
But it turns out that the situation is simpler when you stand back. America is a problem. The decline is a problem. The growing chaos is a problem. But these things are not our problem. Not until they are at our doors. The first step to not getting crushed by these inevitable processes, is to not to step in front of the out-of-control trolley barreling down the hill. Your body is too light to stop it even if you wanted to sacrifice yourself.
As in the roman empire our contemporary issue is one of spiritual over-extension. Just as the late Caesars found themselves in possession of an empire of commitments they had little capacity to defend, our pretended obligations spell our doom. In other words, the collapse is occurring because it needs to occur. Because the gravitational force of sadism mixed with weakness is too powerful when compared to what remains of our spiritual strength spread across the spiritual volume of our commitments. A retraction is natural. It is the only choice. And it is the only thing that might be able to make something new. Like the collapsing of a neutron star, everything will stop moving downwards when a new stronger core is formed inside of the collapse, born out of the combination of more powerful forces concentrated into smaller distances. New life will begin when, after trying and failing to plant our feet on something stable, we find new solidity against the backs of allies we never knew we had.
There is no hope for the world that was. There is hope for a future to be. Hope remains at a smaller scale, in the essential things, and the places where family and tradition can be maintained, and optimism for the future is able to take root. No doubt it will take fighting to secure this future. It will require victories. Taking and holding those things will require strength. But at this time we have to be honest about the size of the object we can hold, before we exhaust our energy fighting for it. The power that we have is small, specific, and local. From this base will emerge, however slowly, a process consolidation from a larger weak space towards compact stronger one.
For those on the right, this process of consolidation will naturally involve a struggle to maintain a sense of optimism. Things will return to be sure. But the pain of our present moment is that we must first survive decline. I understand that many times those of the right seem themselves as tragic prophets of a dying age. But is this really how we should perceive at our task? Perhaps our generations roles is less to mourn what was than to overcome the hollowness of what is. To clear away the dreariness and dross that stand in the way of a new spring. One part of this task will involve removing the old dead symbols that have cluttered our imaginations; another part will be teaching ourselves not to mourn them.
As a collective, We are moving through the stages of grief. After the process of setting aside the dead, the next task will be to see the world through fresh eyes. There are better things that will await us when we move past denial, depression, and anger. And on this note I will close. Because in addition to the certainty that we can’t continue living like this, I have another conviction, to delicate now to proclaim loudly. It seems almost certain, that once our longing to witness the birth of a new world eclipses our anger over the destruction of the old, a better and more hopeful existence is ready to begin.