"we carry death out of the village"

For they have sown the wind…

What makes Egypt’s uncertain course so vexing for the White House is that Mr. Obama, more than any other foreign leader, has sided again and again with the Arab street in Cairo, even when it meant going expressly against the wishes of traditional allies, including the Egyptian military, the Persian Gulf states and Israel.

As recently as June, Mr. Obama was calling on the Egyptian military to quickly hand over power to the democratically elected civilian government — a move that helped Mr. Morsi, whose movement has called for greater use of Islamic law, assume power. At the same time, the administration was chastising the military, which has for 30 years served as the bulwark of a crucial American strategic interest in the Middle East: the 1979 Camp David peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

USG’s impressive 3-dimensional-chess-in-Egypt strategy:

  1. Throw Mubarak under a bus
  2. Empower the Muslim Brotherhood
  3. ???
  4. Profit

A public choice analysis of public choice analysis

Although liberalism makes a big deal about having eliminated prejudice, this isn’t really the case. Not only in the sense that older prejudices are still here, but also in that liberalism adds some of its own; against conservatives, against the past–against anybody who isn’t already a liberal, basically.

That’s because it’s almost impossible for people not to form some common ideas about the world as such, and so, despite its protests, liberalism privileges particular values, just like all the other belief systems.

What’s different about liberalism is that if it’s not rational, it has to go. This gives it a claim to objectivity, but also a kind of inhuman, cyborg quality.

Looked at rationally, people in the middle of society should vote left or liberal and not conservative, because their interests are better served by the liberal-left. And since rationality is the highest standard of knowledge, this is a definitive judgement—i.e., it’s not wishy-washy subjective knowledge, it’s a fact, the kind of thing academics can sign-off against. All of which makes the behaviour of the people in the middle seem bizarre and inexplicable. Don’t they get it? They must be stupid or vindictive or something.

But the desirability of rationalism and rule by experts is itself a subjective judgement; it can’t be gotten from logic or verified by controlled experiment. Even though, rationally speaking, people may be better off under liberalism according to some metric; they may still prefer to live in a more traditional society, with shared values and norms.

In the past, homosexuality was a criminal offence (although the actual number of people who went to jail is not large). But the fact that homosexuality was criminalised is not the whole story of society’s views of homosexuality. In the past, there was a common view about morality, and homosexuality was thought to lie outside it. There was a collective opinion about the wrongness of homosexuality.

From the perspective of modern liberalism, this collective opinion looks arbitrary, judgemental and unnecessary—which, of course, it is. So, we did away with it, or tried to. Lots of other things looked arbitrary, judgemental and unnecessary, so we did away with them too. Now everyone can say for themselves what’s right and wrong, and nobody’s individual preferences are any better than anyone else’s.

But it just so happens that shared values, norms, understandings, affiliations, ideas about right and wrong, the good and the true, are what makes people a community, and not just an aggregate of consumption units sharing only a commitment to self-definition and a post-code. So we ended up abolishing our society altogether, because it didn’t make rational sense. Woops. On the other hand, who would complain? Only a Nazi or a Daily Mail reader, and we can ignore them. Plus, we’ve got all this nice shit and we can do whatever we want with it. We win!

The Disease

Mathematics is like an addiction, or a disease; you can never truly shake it off, even if you want to.

–I. Stewart

In manere

Abolishing transcendence abolishes the distinction between preference satisfaction and the good, so that satisfaction of preferences becomes the rational purpose of all action. From that perspective, the most rational political response to modernity is the attempt to derive moral and social order from maximum preference satisfaction.

–Jim Kalb, Alternate modernities: a retrospective

“I myself was torrent”

And so that day was the day of the great opening. Forgetting the tawdry images which as a matter of fact had disappeared, I gave up struggling and let myself be traversed by the fluids which, entering me through the furrow, seemed to be coming from the ends of the earth. I myself was torrent, I myself was drowned man, I was navigation. My hall of constitution, my hall of ambassadors, my hall of gifts, where the stranger is introduced for a first inspection–I had lost all my halls and retainers. I was alone, tumultuously shaken like a dirty thread in an energetic wash. I shone, I was shattered, I shouted to the ends of the earth. I shivered. My shivering was a barking. I pressed forward, I rushed down, I plunged into transparency, I lived crystallinely.

Sometimes a glass stairway, a stairway like a Jacob’s ladder, a stairway with more steps than I could climb in three entire lifetimes, a stairway with ten million steps, a stairway without landings, a stairway up to the sky, the maddest most monstrous feat since the tower of Babel, rose into the absolute. Suddenly, I could see it no longer. The stairway had vanished like the bubbles of champagne, and I continued my navigation, struggling not to roll, struggling against the suctions and pulings, against infinitely small jumping things, against stretched webs, and arching claws.

–Henri Michaux, Miserable Miracle

Arvo Pärt


Say you want a revolution

It is hard to know whether Mr Dillow’s conventional wisdom is more conventional than the average, or just more coherently expressed. Whatever the case, it is both wrong and harmful.

Like a typical liberal intellectual, Dillow plays good cop to the rioters’ bad cop. “Just give them what they want,” he advises in a calm voice, “and the violence will stop. I want to help you, but I don’t know how long I can control them for.” Well, gee, thanks Chris. You’re all heart.

Isn’t it strange how there is no symmetry between right and left where political violence is concerned? Can you imagine one of our intellectual elite suggesting that the proper response to the massacre in Norway is to meet some of the murderer’s demands? After all, we don’t want any more violence.

No, there is absolutely not even the faintest whiff of compromise where right wing violence is concerned. Amazingly, our society instantly rediscovers its testicular fortitude. Any journalists and bloggers thought to have encouraged the violence by feeding the unjustified sense of grievance are roundly condemned in polite society. “What did you expect, Ms Philips, what did you expect?”

And, by an equally mysterious coincidence, there is no concomitant deluge of grievance fuelled right-wing violence. It simply never materialises. Now, isn’t that weird?

And yet, and yet, and yet… if we don’t want the children of the wretched of London’s earth to raise our capital city to the ground ‘pon the regular, then—apparently—we’re going to have to issue a humiliating apology for making them angry and then meet all their demands. Or are they Chris’s demands? Perhaps a little from Column A and a little from Column B, Chris?

In either case, our strategy for preventing future violence with regards to the riots is to (1), tell the rioters and looters that their grievance, whatever it might be (we’re not sure), is just and true; and (2), validate their use of violence to satisfy that sense of grievance by trying to buy them off. Can’t imagine that this will backfire, no sir! Don’t see how this could look weak to anyone, not at all!

And the broader lesson vis-a-vis political violence is that we don’t compromise with rightist violence: we condemn it and all even tangentially associated with it. This is not thought to imply that more violence will result; or, if it is, it is not important enough to mention. But, mysteriously, when the violence is leftist, we must instantly and totally capitulate in order to prevent it from occurring again.

If you are confused: good. The whole purpose of modern political thought is to defy rational analysis by making no sense whatsoever. An old friend of mine had a similar strategy. Here is a typical example of his shtick. He was going through some personal problems and his long suffering girlfriend paid for them both to go on holiday to the Caribbean. They were relaxing one evening on some deckchairs by the beach outside their hotel. Waiters were bringing them cocktails and they were sharing some chocolate covered strawberries and watching the sunset blaze across the sky. She eats the last strawberry and turns to him. He looks at the empty bowl, and then up to her and says, “You selfish bitch.”

To which there can be no response. How can you reason with someone so insanely out of touch with reality? It is impossible. We have the same problem with our political and intellectual class. They are beyond reason, for, as someone once remarked, “You can’t reason someone out of a position they didn’t reason themselves into.” For our elites, liberalism itself is their religion. And, like your quack medic, their response to any evidence of its failure is always to increase the dose. “Just increase the dose. This time, it will definitely start working.”

Let’s hope so, eh!


Oh my, the horror! A man who is notorious for making idiotic statements on television has made some more idiotic statements on television.

Specifically, he’s saying that white people are turning into criminals because they have been in some way Blackified by malignant osmosis with some black people, who aren’t themselves criminals due to biological or racial characteristics – oh, heaven forfend that anyone should take it that way! – but because of “cultural factors”.

Now, I consider myself to be an admirer of Mr Rodent’s work. Few make trolling that most confused of creatures, the liberal or “respectable” right-winger, look so enjoyable or so effortless. “Exploit the contradiction,” Lenin advised. Just so. But there are times when his relentless flippancy can be quite tedious. Even a troll should be serious sometimes—it can’t be Friday night every day of the week.

Over at Liberal Conspiracy, taking advantage of the ongoing and manufactured horror of The Great David Starkey Controversy, our mercurial mammal has laid his snares and trapped a slew of big dumb animals. In the comments section, he takes aim,

It’s amazing how many people are keen to reinterpret Starkey’s points for him, given that he’s a professional communicator. I’d imagine he picks his words very carefully indeed, given that’s what he’s been paid to do for his entire adult life.

I agree that it is silly to suggest that Starkey didn’t mean what he said. The words didn’t simply make their own way out of his mouth and up into the studio glare. Oops, there I go again, accidentally saying shit I didn’t mean to say!

However, it is perfectly legitimate to use this opportunity to discuss the things that Starkey said, and, yes, even to reinterpret those things, as long as one is honest about it. Certainly, the Flying Rodent does no less: Starkey did not say, unless I am very much mistaken, that their being black caused people to riot. That really would have had Jones, the teenage left-winger appearing alongside him in the studio, in paroxysms of disdain. The issue is rather not that he said it, but that he was somehow trying to smuggle it into the debate without saying it—in other words, it’s entirely about how you interpret him.

So what did Starkey say? The full transcript does not appear to be online, but the most discussed section is below.

David Starkey: I have just been re-reading Enoch Powell, The Rivers of Blood Speech. His prophesy was absolutely right in one sense. The Tiber did not foam with blood, but flames lambent, they wrapped around Tottenham and wrapped around Clapham. But it wasn’t inter-communal violence. This is where he was completely wrong. What’s happened is that a substantial section of chavs have become black. The whites have become black. A particular sort of violent, nihilistic gangster culture has become the fashion. And black and white, boy and girl, operate in this language together—this language, which is wholly false, which is this Jamaican patois that has been intruded in England. And this is why so many of us have this sense of literally, a foreign country.

Presenter: In that speech Enoch Powell talked about, 15 or 20 years time the black man having the whip hand over the white man.

David Starkey: That’s not true. What has happened is black culture—this is the enormously important thing. It is not skin colour, it is cultural. Listen to David Lammy: an archetypical successful black man. If you turned the screen off, so you were listening to him on the radio, you’d think he was white.

These are the principle ideas around which the controversy has centred: “whites becoming black”, “blacks becoming white”, and of course, “Enoch was wrong, but”. While for some, clearly the only things of interest that can be said here are (1), that David Starkey is a racist, and (2), that you are as well, unless you proclaim (1) with sufficient enthusiasm; for many of us, the overriding concern is to understand the riots and the society that produced them. And we feel that David Starkey’s opinions are completely uninteresting, except insofar as they inform that understanding, or facilitate debate.

And no, when I write “facilitate debate”, I don’t mean debate about Starkey’s opinions—which are, in case you hadn’t noticed, racist, racist, racist—which is what we got. Is this Starkey’s ethnic year zero? On a scale of one to ten, how disgusted and appalled did it make you feel? What does Piers Morgan have to say about this? Oh, won’t somebody think of the children?

Firstly, is there anything to the idea of “whites becoming black”? Of course there is—this is conventional wisdom, or is usually, when David Starkey, who is a big stupid-head, and has probably never even heard of Young Jeezy or Wocka Flocka Flame, is not saying it. “The history of cool in America is really (as many have argued) a history of African-American culture.” Not my words, or David Starkey’s, but those of that notorious and hysterical right-winger, Naomi Klein. Whatever can she mean?

Londoner and Grime godfather Wiley tweeted about the riots, “I think urban people just hate the police and they wanna test them”, and, “the bottom line is young urban Britain don’t give a fuck about nothing”. But who are these “urban people”? “Urban is like any colour who likes black life or music or style.” Oh. Hey, wait a sec… Guards! GUARDS!

Only an idiot would accuse Wiley of being racist toward himself. Evidently, then, there are plenty of idiots with Twitter accounts, because accuse Wiley of racism is exactly what they did. In short, we had something like the following:

  1. Black people riot, because they hate the police;
  2. Black people explain to white people that they were rioting because they hate the police;
  3. White people explain to black people that they’re not allowed to say that black people were rioting, because it’s racist.

The lulz just keep stacking up, don’t they? In Britain today, there is a certain type of person for whom widespread criminality and the destruction of our great cities is not at all shocking, but for whom speech unencumbered by the requisite quantity of euphemisms is the most offensive and disgusting thing in all the world. Sixty years ago, Orwell decried a country where, “political language has to consist largely of euphemism, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness”. Plus ça change, George!

And if the British proclivity for understatement remains largely the same as it ever was, elsewhere, our culture and our population has changed immeasurably. How? Well, there is certainly a good deal more to it than British youth listening to gangsta rap. Our social institutions—the criminal justice system, the family, the English language, the education system, British history, and so on—have undergone five decades of reform under the UK’s own post-war liberal consensus. And years of ever-increasing rates of net in-migration have produced a substantial immigrant community. Both things are good or bad according to taste, but it is hard to take seriously the argument that they did not occur (or that they happened “by accident”). So if David Starkey feels, at times, as though he is living in a foreign country, that’s largely because he is.

Next, is there anything to the idea of “whites becoming black”? Again, yes: as distasteful as it is to all, the typical middle class (“successful”) Briton is white, because the modal Briton is white. Gasp! Truly, “human kind cannot bear very much reality”—it’s already bringing me out in a rash. If ethnic minorities are to “integrate” into British society, then they will have to “become white” by necessity, which is to say, adopt the native culture and abandon their own. Double gasp! Thus, David Lammy is a model of successful integration—and in that sense is basically indistinguishable from an indigenous middle class Briton, except for slight variation in skin-colour.

In fact, the goal of social policy with respect to ethnic minorities should naturally be to encourage them to “become white”, to “go native”. Under the current regime, such groups are given a protected status and are encouraged to retain and develop their own identity, not simply as Britons, but as African-Caribbean, British-Asian, and so on. The downsides to nurturing a foreign population within one’s national borders have been well-demonstrated in the first decade of the 21st Century. Things fall apart? They do if you set fire to them or stuff them full of explosives.

Humphreys (2003) notes that,

Case study work suggests that it is not inequality between individuals that matters for conflict but rather inequality between ethnic groups or between regions—sometimes referred to as “horizontal inequality” or “categorical inequality.”

Social scientist in Discovery of the Bleeding Obvious shocker—I know, I know. But there it is all the same. If different groups occupy the same territory, then they will clash wherever and whenever their interests diverge, which will be more frequent the greater the differences between groups.

Unfortunately for those of us who would prefer to live in a cohesive and well-integrated society, our political and intellectual classes are as incapable of requiring integration from migrant communities as our police are of requiring that people abide by the law. Indeed, it is not hard to see where the police acquired their postmodernist approach to crime and criminals. Since people believe all kinds of shit, who am I to say what’s right and wrong, thinks our modern liberal, incorrectly believing himself to be some kind of relativist. Just as the government lacks the moral authority to say, “You will adjust to our culture”, because it does not believe in the primacy of any cultures, much less its own; so the police lack the moral authority to say, “You will observe our standards of behaviour”, because that would imply that some behaviour is better than others, and therefore that some behaviour is worse, and that would be mean. And avoiding being mean, of course, is one of the guiding principles of modern criminal justice. The police’s role is value-neutral arbitration between consenting factions. When faced with a group of people who, as Wiley said, don’t give a fuck about nothing, the whole model breaks down. What—impose our will on a group of people? Impossible: the cognitive dissonance would be too great, which is why the riots ended when the rioters ran out of steam, and not when the police “fought them with sticks”.

Radiated men will eat the flesh of radiated men

We are born into this sorrowful deadliness
We are born into a government 60 years in debt
That soon will be unable to even pay the interest on that debt
And the banks will burn
Money will be useless
There will be open and unpunished murder in the streets
It will be guns and roving mobs
Land will be useless
Food will become a diminishing return
Nuclear power will be taken over by the many
Explosions will continually shake the earth
Radiated robot men will stalk each other
The rich and the chosen will watch from space platforms
Dante’s Inferno will be made to look like a children’s playground
The sun will not be seen and it will always be night
Trees will die
All vegetation will die
Radiated men will eat the flesh of radiated men

–Charles Bukowski, Dinosauria, We