In last week’s post here on Ecosophia, we talked about the Great Reset, an allegedly new and innovative proposal for global economic reform currently being promoted with might and main by the World Economic Forum and a gaggle of other elite soapboxes. The point that struck me most forcefully about the program, as I noted at the time, is how astonishingly old-fashioned it all was: a rehash of the Soviet Union in its early days, complete with the abolition of private property, an intrusive surveillance state, total dependence on huge and impersonal bureaucratic institutions, and bootlicking propaganda about how happy everyone is in the worker’s paradise. To those who know modern history, it was really quite a blast from the past.
Once my commentariat started talking about the Great Reset and its many equivalents in what passes for pop-culture entertainment these days, though, I realized that something far stranger and more interesting lurked beneath the World Economic Forum’s enthusiasm for Stalinism 2.0. Some of the core ideas that undergird the Great Reset, not to mention a good many other outgassings from the whole range of clueless Tomorrowland fantasies being retailed by today’s corporate aristocracy, weren’t borrowed from Soviet ideology at all, and a good many of the others were already secondhand goods by the time Stalin’s flunkeys got hold of them. They were issued in mint condition a century earlier from a much weirder source.
Yes, it’s time for us to talk about Charles Fourier.
Fourier was the man who invented modern socialism. You have to do a fair amount of digging to find this out just now, and a lot more to find anything like a complete account of Fourier’s teachings, for reasons we’ll get to in due time. He was born in 1772 in Besançon, France, the son of a local businessman. He burned through his share of his father’s estate in short order after the old man died, bounced from job to job for a while, and finally found a niche as a traveling salesman. He never married—rumor during his lifetime had it that he never had a sex partner he didn’t pay for—and he spent his off hours working on his idea of a perfect society. His first book, Theory of the Four Movements, was published in 1808 and sold only a few copies.
Fortunately for Fourier, one of those copies was bought by a rich eccentric who became his patron. That provided Fourier with the income he needed to write, and to market his ideas to the public. The end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, and the resurgence of European conservatism that followed, gave his ideas a substantial appeal to a great many people who wanted to believe that a new and better society was possible. Fourier proposed that the basic unit of his future society would be a phalanstery—in modern terms, an agricultural-industrial commune, which would own all the property and all the means of production used by the people who were part of it—and dozens of phalansteries duly sprang up, especially but not only in the United States.
Before we talk about what happened to them, it’s important to take a plunge into the world of Fourier’s ideas. According to Fourier, countless worlds condense out of the “interstellar aroma,” and they and their inhabitants pass through a preordained sequence of stages—Savagery, Barbarism, Civilization (which is the worst of all), and finally Harmony, which arrives promptly as soon as the intelligent beings of a planet accept Fourier’s philosophy. What makes Harmony differ from Civilization is that in the state of Harmony, economic activity is cooperative rather than competitive, private property gives way to sharing, and people are motivated to work by passional attraction rather than poverty or greed. According to Fourier, this change results in a fourfold increase in labor efficiency, so that a society in Harmony can provide extraordinary abundance for everyone with very modest amounts of work on the part of each citizen.
Read Fourier’s descriptions of life in the phalansteries of the future and it’s very easy to see why his work inspired so much enthusiasm. He argued that there are twelve basic human passions, which combine to form 810 different personality types. Each of these is passionally attracted to some kind of productive work, and the distribution of personality types is such that there are the right number of people in any sufficiently large group to do all the tasks that need to be done. Because of the immensely greater efficiency of labor under Harmony, people in his imagined future would spend only a small part of each day at work, and each person would be passionally attracted to the kind of work defined by his or her personality type, so there would be no dissatisfaction or unhappiness. The rest of their time would be taken up by dining—“gastrosophy,” according to Fourier, will become one of the fine arts—and orgiastic sex.
As if all this wasn’t enough, Fourier insisted that once Harmony was achieved, the world itself would be transformed. Clouds of cosmic citric acid would condense out of the interstellar aroma and descend, turning the seas into lemonade. Four additional moons would come out of hiding places elsewhere in the solar system to replace streetlamps. A “boreal corona” would appear over the north pole, radiating warmth and turning the barren lands of Alaska, Siberia, et al. into fruitful agricultural territories, while a similar “austral corona” would do the same thing for Antarctica. Meanwhile lions would turn into peaceful, vegetarian anti-lions that human beings could ride, whales would become anti-whales and willingly pull ships over the lemonade seas, and human beings would live for 144 years, remaining sexually active for 120 of them.
All this, delirious as it is, shows Fourier’s role as a crucial figure in the evolution of Western thought. Before his time, millennialism—the belief that the unsatisfying world we live in would soon be replaced by one much more to our liking—was a religious notion, heavily loaded with miracles and centering in the Christian West around faith in the Second Coming of Christ. Fourier was the founder of the grand tradition of modern secular millennialism, which has argued ever since his time that the perfect world would arrive without benefit of obviously theological factors. As you’d expect from so pioneering a figure, his vision was still tinged with the older tradition; the anti-lions are rather reminiscent of Christian images of the peaceable kingdom to come, though you have to turn to Emanuel Swedenborg and certain other heretical thinkers to find any parallel to the orgiastic sex.
Fourier thus offered the Second Coming in secular drag, plus sex and lemonade, at a time when plenty of people still longed for the promise of a better world but could no longer believe in the version being offered them by the religious mainstream. His vision of a glorious future waiting to be born accordingly inspired a great many people to fling themselves into the task of building the Harmonial future, raising money to build phalansteries and put Fourier’s theory to a test they were sure it would pass triumphantly. Passional attraction? They had it, doubled, tripled, and in spades, and the results of this immense outpouring of effort were…
Well, let’s just say that if you go down to the seashore tomorrow, I’m sorry to say you’re going to have to bring your own lemonade.
The fact of the matter was that Fourier’s theories were a total flop, and all those phalansteries imploded promptly as soon as their founders ran through the money they’d raised for the project. The problem, of course, was that Fourierist economics don’t work. The fourfold increase in labor efficiency didn’t show up—quite the contrary, if people work only as long as they feel passional attraction to the task, they tend to be much less efficient than those who are being paid to do a job and know that their continued employment depends on getting it done.
Nor did it turn out, as Fourier insisted, that the different personality types were distributed in such a way that every task would have someone passionally attracted to do it. Quite the contrary, everyone felt passionally attracted to easy jobs rather than hard ones, and so the hard ones didn’t get done. (Or they got done by the women. After the collapse of Fruitlands, a phalanstery that counted no less a celebrity than the young Louisa May Alcott among its inmates—her father Bronson Alcott was one of the founders—there was quite a bit of sour retrospective discussion about the way that the menfolk spent their days being passionally attracted to sitting around writing poetry and other tasks just as strenuous, while still expecting their wives to make sure that dinner was served on time and the laundry got washed.)
That was the end of Fourierism. There were a few attempts later on in the nineteenth century to rework Fourier’s ideas, but they didn’t get any further than the first wave did, and most people who were involved in the original project distanced themselves from it as far as they could once its failure became impossible to ignore. Fourier’s thought sank into near-total obscurity until the 1960s, when several anthologies of excerpts from his work got into print and found a small but vocal body of fans among avant-garde intellectuals. (This comes as no surprise to me, as Fourier is the kind of thinker who seems to make perfect sense when you’re thoroughly ripped on LSD.) It basically didn’t outlast the Sixties, though; these days, the last proponent of Fourierism left standing is Peter Lamborn Wilson, whose most widely available essay on Fourier complains that so many people make fun of the lemonade oceans. There’s a reason for that, of course, but it’s not one that Wilson is likely to find congenial.
Yet the end of Fourierism was also the beginning of socialism. Look at the timeline of early socialism—the late works of Saint-Simon that can be classed as socialist, the transmutation of Robert Owen’s early efforts at reforming the poor laws into the attempt to create genuine cooperatives, the rise of Ricardian socialism in the 1830s, and the emergence of Marxism after that. You’ll find that the Fourierist movement got there first, and that it had a much larger impact on the industrial world than anything before the time of Proudhon and Marx. In a very real sense, the Fourierist movement was the seedbed of socialism, and the entire cascade of socialist theory and practice since Fourier’s time was motivated by the quest to find some way to make something like Fourier’s less obviously giddy promises come true.
One aspect of the resulting movement brushed up against a theme of recent posts on this blog, the magical history of America. The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were the golden age of American communes—the much-ballyhooed communal experiments of the 1960s were Johnny-come-latelies—and all through that period, communal enterprises sprang up all through those ends of American alternative spirituality where occultism and New Thought ideas mingled with millennialist Christianity. The attempt to create a viable alternative to the status quo in miniature was one of the major themes of socialist activism for well over a century, and the only reason it’s guttered out in recent years is that repeated failure is difficult for any movement to sustain forever. The average lifespan of a commune in America is about two years, and most people who start one end up losing everything they invested in it.
The reason for that litany of failure is quite simple. With one narrowly defined category of exceptions, every communal project I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve seen quite a few, tacitly assumed that its participants could expect to consume more in the way of goods and services than they could realistically expect to produce. This is especially true of those communal groups that plan on going back to the land and raising all their own food—these find out in short order that subsistence farming takes far more hard work for smaller returns than holding down an ordinary job in an industrial economy—but it applies more generally. In theory, that feature makes the commune seem really appealing; in practice, it guarantees failure.
The one category of exceptions? Religious monasticism. If you have a group of people who are committed to an ascetic faith, and are willing to embrace vows of poverty, celibacy, and obedience, you can establish a communal living situation and make it work. That’s been proven over and over again by many different faiths from the time of St. Benedict and Kobo Daishi to the time of Mother Ann Lee of the Shakers and beyond. Nobody in a monastery expects to maintain a normal standard of consumption, or anything like one, and so it’s quite possible for a group of people who have no desire for comforts to provide themselves with the bare necessities of life and still have plenty of time to pray or meditate.
If that appeals to you, dear reader, you’re in luck, and within a couple of centuries at the outside it’ll be the wave of the future, as industrial civilization winds down and monasticism takes on its usual role of custodian of culture during a dark age. If that doesn’t appeal to you, welcome to the club. There are ways to have some of the advantages of a commune without landing in the same predicament as Bronson Alcott et al.; one of the reasons why fraternal orders such as the Masons, the Odd Fellows, and the Grange exploded in popularity right when phalansteries were crashing and burning, for example, is that they provided the extended community and the mutual aid that communes claimed to be able to offer, without the fatal economic flaws.
Then there was the evolution of socialism as a political movement seeking large-scale solutions. That was an extremely creative and diverse movement until the Cold War flattened it out into a Hobson’s choice between totalitarian Communism and corporate capitalism. Yet that was arguably predestined, because Communism had an advantage that none of the other varieties of socialism could match. It finally came up with workable answers to the two big questions that Fourier, like most later socialists, left untouched in his writings. To Fourier, remember, passional attraction was all that was necessary to make Harmony come about and keep everyone happy forever. Once everyone realized just how delightful it was to embrace Fourierism and watch the moons rise beside a lemonade ocean, while being nuzzled by a friendly anti-lion and an assortment of lovers, why, of course there would be a stampede to found phalansteries and complete the transformation of Civilization into Harmony.
Violence, coercion, forced labor—to Fourier, those were all the hallmarks of the stages of history that Harmony would inevitably supersede, and none of them entered into his worldview. One of the results of Fourier’s steadfastly utopian vision, of course, is that socialism in Fourier’s aftermath had no effective plans for establishing the new economic and social order, and no effective means to make sure that people behaved the way that socialist theory said they ought to behave once the new order was in place. Those were the two big questions that kept socialist theoreticians and activists busy all through the nineteenth century—how do you get people to embrace the glorious socialist future, and then make them behave accordingly?
Some of the answers to that question turned out to be quite viable in certain restricted contexts, though they involved ditching most of the goals that socialism inherited from Fourier. There’s social democracy, which replaces socialism as such with a bureaucratic state that uses regulatory power to try to make people do what Fourier thought they should do; it’s got its problems, but social democracy has been viable in Europe and some other corners of the world for more than a century and many people seem to like it. There’s democratic syndicalism, which organizes the wage class via worker-owned cooperatives and labor unions, and uses those to press for changes that approximate what Fourier had in mind; that’s got its problems, too, but it’s also been viable for well over a century and remains a significant force in a lot of countries today.
There are the fraternal orders already mentioned; they’ve gone out of fashion just now and had their own problems, but theirs was an enormously effective system in its day, providing security and mutual aid to a vast number of people, and also political clout. (One of these days I should tell the story of how the Grange, a fraternal order of farmers, broke the power of the railroad monopolies in late 19th century America.) Finally, there are the Fabian socialists, the faction of British socialism that set out to convince the wealthy that granting “socialism from above” to the wage class was the best way to hang onto their own wealth and privilege. That answer has its problems, too, and—well, we’ll get to that in a moment.
The great contribution of Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin to the history of socialism is that they proved that there was a far more effective option. That option, of course, was brutal organized violence on the grand scale. If people don’t want to participate in the glorious socialist future, you shoot them; if they don’t behave the way Marxist theory says they ought to behave, you ship them to prison camps and work them to death: hey, problem solved! Those are workable answers. They’re not good answers, and they’re not the kind of answers that Fourier or Marx had in mind, but unlike nearly all the other answers that have been floated by socialists, they functioned—at least until the many other failings of socialist economics reduced the Soviet Union and its client states to basket-case status, and convinced the old, cold men at the helm of China to quietly scrap socialism in favor of an awkward hybrid of state capitalism and the free market. (The jury’s still out on whether that system’s going to be viable for the long term.)
At least for the moment, despite the Stalinist rhetoric that surrounds the Great Reset, there’s no sign that the World Economic Forum and its pet pundits are thinking of taking up Stalin’s way of dealing with the internal contradictions of their theories via mass graves and labor camps. They’re among the intellectual heirs of the Fabian movement, convinced that they can use their own wealth, influence, and position in the collective conversation of our time to get the populace in general to accept social changes that will preserve the dominance of the privileged classes, while giving the masses what the privileged classes think they ought to want.
Yet the Great Reset is also a reminder that Charles Fourier’s intellectual DNA remains strong among Fabian socialists, and across a broader landscape of alternative ideas as well. Whenever people believe that it’s an effective strategy to imagine a perfect future and then try to come up with reasons why it’s possible—rather than, say, trying to figure out what futures are possible and then trying to choose the best options from that set—the whiff of lemonade oceans is easy to catch. For that matter, when activists in any part of the political landscape insist that there’s nothing to be learned from the past, and that it really isn’t a sign of insanity to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results, it’s hard to miss the echo of the former Fourierists who created nineteenth-century socialism, trying one gimmick after another to make an unworkable theory work, and waiting over and over again for the extra moons to rise and the anti-lions to show up.
This reminds me of the Hutterites and some communities of Mennonites who managed to create “colonies” in rural North America and sustain them. Families with a lot of children, but finances are all handled by the elders of the community. I’ve heard of these groups coming into a Walmart and buying every bag of sugar and flour. They cook and eat communally. I suppose, however, that despite the family life, they’re arguably living like monastics. Everyone wears the same clothes and I understand that their standard of living is relatively spartan. The day is spent in prayer and labor for the most part. Uniformity of thought and lifestyle are required. You can’t be an outspoken atheist in those communities, I imagine.
Do you know if these communities were inspired by early socialist authors?
Dear gods, Fourier has so much Neptune…..
For a little while i thought that you might mention the Oneida colony with their group marriage, flat ware, and Perfectionism, maybe you are saving them for a post of their own (i hope).
slightly off topic, (i in no way mean this a criticism, i just have a link in my brain between two aphorisms)
Whenever someone says the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, i feel so relieved for the guy loading straw on a camels back 😉
Interesting reflections on socialism.
I have a question about what is happening in Asia: I mean China, India, South East Asia, and even in the -stan countries of central Asia. What I see is that they are in full Capitalistic mode, and they are consuming more and more of the earth’s resources at the expense of the West. Some people there may be aware that we are in the age of flat growth and economic decline, yet if you talked to most people about the long descent they would not know what you are talking about because generally their standards of living have been improving. Capital, jobs and energy resources have been moving to there.
Of course as the ‘Pie’ has begun to shrink worldwide, decline will start there and they may go back to more traditional ways of living in the next decades. They have done a better job with their economy, they are building more nuclear plants for energy, and carbon capture and storage systems for their coal plants so their decline may be slower than what we see in the West. My question is how do you see the long descent for Asia compared to the Scarcity Industrialism era you described for the West ?
The people pushing this are hard core corporatists who want to turn everything into a rental stream. On the ground the people actually doing this are corporations which won’t let you repair your own car or tractor, who want to just rent you your tires. Microsoft 365 is another version of this, just virtual. This is updated company store/scrip stuff, but at much higher scale.
I’m actually a left-winger, and was seriously involved in left wing politics for years. I don’t know of a single person who calls themselves a socialist who wants the society suggested by the “Great Reset”. It is the dream of people who want you to own nothing, not so you can be better off, but so that they can make as much money as possible.
To us this is clearly corporation stuff, not left wing stuff, and we find it very odd that right wingers call it socialism when modern socialists hate it and hate corporations. (You know we oppose corporate personhood, etc?)
That’s the problem with a two-toned model of the world: Right and Left. There’s a group that is neither (they pretend to be centrists, but it is a third ideology), and they run much of the world. Blair was not a socialist, Clinton (who cut welfare massively) was not a socialist. Obama was not a socialist (his healthcare plan was a huge giveaway to corporate interests, not universal care), and so on.
As for group ownership, the commons worked well for centuries (the commons weren’t destroyed by “the tragedy of the commons” but by forced enclosure.) They worked well, in fact, for longer than industrial capitalism and corporations have even existed. But that’s a long comment all of its own and I’ll leave it be.
Your point about monasteries is well taken. Freedom to live a different lifestyle than the majority of your society always comes with a cost and part of that cost is paid in material goods. The various agrarian communal movements, some of which survive and thrive to this day, show this to be the case as well: they all manage outside dependence and technology.
But when looked at carefully, their people are happier and healthier, on average, than people who live in mainstream society, so who’s sacrificing what?
At it’s most fundamental level, the ‘Great Reset’ is yet another turn of the neoliberal crank (hopefully one of the last) as more and more democratic governments turn their fundamental powers over to corporations.
I work in paper pushing. You know who is hiring policy analysts and governance people these days? Google, Uber, and everyone’s favorite, Amazon Web Services. They are hiring people like me (well, people who are like me but who think less independently) because they are only too happy to profit off of the government’s abdicated governance functions.
What I find so alarming is how many people, smart and good people who recognize the dangers of big government, are totally blind to the dangers of big corporations. Rule by Wal-Mart/Microsoft/Raytheon is just as bad as rule by the Party, without even the figleaf of the Constitution or of democratic processes to defend yourself. With every government ‘We the People’, or at least our democratic institutions, cede more and more power to Profit Uber Alis, the Board, and the Holy Shareholder.
There’s no political party you can join to stop this either. The Republicans and Democrats are just as bad in this respect, representing competing but linked groups of economic elites. Sure, the Republicans at least recognize that the shine is off the shit when it comes to McWorld, but it’s marketing gloss and little else. Follow the money, and you can see that they are just as dedicated to lining the pockets of their friends and benefactors as Schumer, Pelosi, Tanden, and the rest of those souless corporate stooges.
American Stalinism isn’t going to come from AOC and the squad. It’s going to come from the same ghouls that have been always selling off our countries.
Possible typing error – did you mean Robert Owen or is Richard Owen a different person?
The complaint that socialism copied millenarian Christianity and tries to ‘immanentise the eschaton’ always struck me as religion assuming they had monopoly rights to that kind of change. So what you’re hearing is the howl of thwarted entitlement when they realised they didn’t. 🙂
That is a very interesting and in-depth history of socialist ideas, especially in the transition from Fourier up to Marx. It has been bugging me for a while that I don’t really know what Marx’ first audience understood by the word “communists”, which he then redefined.
I find nothing to disagree in the essay, except the one phrase “the Great Reset, an allegedly new and innovative proposal for global economic reform…complete with the abolition of private property”. I am not going to post again as much as last week, but I do want to point out that I don’t see where in Ida Auken’s text private property is abolished. From what I see (and extrapolating from today’s trends), private property is concentrated in the hands of a small number of (probably monopolist) corporations: a drone-delivery corporation, a housing corporation, a flying car corporation and so on. These corporations, in their turn, would presumably be controlled by a rather small number of shareholders. You allude to this at the end when you talk about “changes that will preserve the dominance of the privileged classes”.
That is the reason why “abolition of private property” does not seem to me to be the problem, but rather “abolition of local (control of) property”, or alternatively, “abolition of widely distributed private property”.
Wow, this is great. It explains so much, so succinctly. I’m sharing this with a whole bunch of people. Thanks!
Well JMG, my pov is that I’ll take antlions over anti-lions, any day of the monk! And as for lemonade oceans … I’ve no need of that yellow rain, born of the $chwabian Cloud$ which fill them, only to souring us liliputians into being squeezed further.
“They’re among the intellectual heirs of the Fabian movement, convinced that they can use their own wealth, influence, and position in the collective conversation of our time to get the populace in general to accept social changes that will preserve the dominance of the privileged classes, while giving the masses what the privileged classes think they ought to want.”
I’m reminded of Otto Von Bismarck, who created a compulsory health insurance program for the German Empire in 1884. Bismarck was no socialist; in fact, he was considered an arch-conservative. However, he had a good idea of how to compete with the actual socialists to preserve the social order. After all, it was Bismarck who wrote or said “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best.”
Thanks for another great essay! I really appreciate your overviews of the different stripes and strategies of socialism.
Out of curiosity, I looked up Fourier’s natal chart:
John, this is not what I conclude about The Great Reset, which seems to me much closer to Democratic Socialism (caps on obscene wealth, for example, but with individual ownership intact, and care for the least among us) than it does the socialism you discuss here. Am I wrong? And, may I ask what your vision for a post-covid world, hopefully improved, may be?
As I read this paragraph:
‘Clouds of cosmic citric acid would condense out of the interstellar aroma and descend, turning the seas into lemonade. […] Meanwhile lions would turn into peaceful, vegetarian anti-lions that human beings could ride, whales would become anti-whales and willingly pull ships over the lemonade seas, and human beings would live for 144 years, remaining sexually active for 120 of them.’
… As I read it, I kid you not, sir, I said to myself “hey, this sounds like a cover of The Watchtower magazine. Trust me. I know that of which I speak…
Then you mentioned millennialism, and I felt smug.
Thanks for this, JMG
After a lifetime spent trying to find a way of living that’s both economically workable and spiritually satisfying, I’ve settled on the thought that maybe it’s designed to be unworkable. Somebody thought, what would happen if consciousness had to live in a predatorial world, full of creatures all trying to kill each other in order to survive. I’m still working on how that fits into Dion Fortune’s description of evolution that you’ve been writing about.
Also – interstellar aroma, what a great phrase.
Geoff, no, they were inspired by the religious millennarian traditions from which socialism borrowed most of its rhetoric. Yes, they’re basically Protestant monasticism, and work almost as well.
Anonymous, yep. His influence shows the emergence of the Neptune influence in the 30-year cycle before the planet’s discovery.
Skyrider, the Oneida commune will probably get a post here someday. As for the camel’s back, there’s that!
Tony, through most of human history south and east Asia has been the most populous and prosperous part of the world. That changed for a few hundred years because European nations got a temporary but overwhelming technological advantage and stole everything that wasn’t nailed down. (India was the richest nation on Earth in 1600 and one of the poorest by 1900.) Now that the technological differential has evened out, things are returning to normal; I expect the Long Descent to affect Asia as much as anywhere, but they’ll come through it in better shape, and once again become the most prosperous as well as the most populous part of the world.
Ian, duly noted. These days the heirs of the Fabian movement generally insist that they’re “centrists,” so that doesn’t surprise me.
Andrew, that’s the great failing of libertarianism, and of the libertarian end of the right more generally. Me, I’d like to see corporations deprived of personhood and turned back to what they were in 1800: temporary fundraising devices used for public benefit only.
Yorkshire, thanks for catching that! As for religious and secular millennarianism, well, Spengler did point out that every culture’s secular ideologies are its religion with the serial numbers filed off…
Matthias, fair enough. The Great Reset has giant corporations taking the role filled by the state under Stalinism, and that’s a noteworthy difference.
KayeOh, you’re most welcome.
Polecat, too funny. Thank you.
Vincelamb, Bismarck was a political genius, and realized — as of course most industrial nations did over the century after his time — that you can gut the socialist movement by giving citizens the goodies that they want from socialism, without the collective ownership of the means of production that most people really don’t want.
Kinberly, you’re most welcome. That’s a fascinating natal chart; I’m amused to note that Fourier and I have certain important patterns in common.
Lauren, if you have a different take on the Great Reset than I do, great — the point of these posts is to get people thinking, not to push them into thinking the same way. As for my vision of the world after the coronavirus is over, let me ask you this: do you think that the notions of a fringe intellectual like me, writing for a modestly sized audience on the internet, will have any influence on how things will turn out in the wake of the current turmoil? If so, why? (I do have a vision of the future, but it’s not the future I want — it’s the future that I see coming, and that I’ve been trying to warn people about for a couple of decades now. My book The Long Descent sums it up quite concisely.)
Casey, just one of the services I offer. 😉
Bill, of course it’s not supposed to be workable. As every civilization matures and its internal contradictions become more and more inescapable, life for ordinary citizens becomes increasingly intolerable. That’s one of the main reasons why civilizations fall. As for spiritual evolution, suffering plays an important role in that, you know, and the world as we experience it is well set up to provide that experience among others.
Thank you for this great article, I am building a technology system that is very similar to Fourier’s work. I tried to email you a copy to review but you do not have an email address listed.
This post has made me thirsty for something… not lemonade however, as its a bit chilly at the moment here in the midwest.
A few things: very interesting about Peter Lamborn Wilson. I haven’t read his essay on Fourier. I read a fair amount of his works under the Hakim Bey moniker and am in touch with some folks who are active in the Moorish Orthodox Church and various offshoots springing from Bey. Some of Wilson/Bey’s writings certainly have a certain appeal. He is a smart guy, and can be entertaining to read.
Communes: Cataloging a documentary about the Biosphere 2 project at work today, and after reading this it got me thinking it was just another failed commune. And that got me thinking that the idea of setting up space colonies for some was akin to escaping life into a communal utopia.
Speaking of Utopias, there is a town a little less than an hours drive east of Cincinnati along the river called Utopia. It was settled by followers of Fourier in 1844. If you blink you will miss the one convenience store / gas station that denotes the “town”. After the first settlement flopped, following the trajectory you laid out, it was sold off to a spiritualist group led by John O. Wattles. This group had very bad timing as they moved in about a month before one of the worst floods in the area, the 1847 Flood. After this it was reorganized again by Josiah Warren, an anarchist of the individualist stripe, whose chief concern was “the liberty to choose our associates at all times.” Plots were not owned communally.
After this Josiah left to lecture and set up other settlements. After the civil war the place just kind of fizzled out of existence, though of course people live there and in surrounding areas up and done. No utopia ever came about though, except in name.
Well, thank you for brightening up the otherwise dismal day I was having with a good laugh.
As I read through this, my mind kept jumping onto the very many ideas proposed in all seriousness by earnestly caring people to alleviate all the problems of poverty, disparity of opportunity between the Bad People in Charge and the 7 Sacred Downtrodden Groups, and solve Global Climate Change.
The difference is the current versions have been updated to sound modern and purport to have all sorts of studies to support them. But I keep having that niggling scratching at the back of my mind which always leaves my brow furrowed as I read the grand expectations of these hot, new ideas, for example, Guaranteed Livable Income (GLI). Because these ideas only work if everyone was awesome.
Which is probably why monasticism works: this is a very small number of self-selected people who really are awesome in the right way. Whereas I have found, over the course of my 60 years on this planet, nothing to indicate that the vast majority of people can described in anything other than very unflattering terms not suitable for a younger audience.
When I read modern, recent opinion and policy pieces, I can only conclude that, apparently Fourier’s great transformation from Civilization to Harmony now requires that the Bad People, i.e. the Euro-ethnic, male, heterosexual (oops, that must now be “cis-gendered”) Patriarchy, be overthrown by the harmonious Good People, i.e. the Women (but only the right sort of wymyn, of course) – LGBT – Muslim – BIPOC Alliance.
Of course, is none of these defined groups is sufficiently homogeneous in attitude or behaviour to actually fit this simplistic, Manichean reductionism. But all the proposals by social activists gloss over this point or shrug it off as a minor consideration, or angrily denounce the thought-crime. If we did bring in GLI, what would motivate people to do jobs which need to be done, like collecting garbage? What would keep the majority of people from just sitting at home and drinking beer while watching TV (as a significantly large percentage of people on welfare actually do)? We already know: there is a fraction of the population with guaranteed income who behave exactly that way, known as the Idle Rich. I have no argument with the observations that the current welfare system is a generally abusive failure, but none of the proposed solutions have ever quite sat right with me, and now I have the root cause of why: because they are all re-hashing spectacularly failed ideas outlined in this essay.
John, I wasn’t challenging you. I was sincerely interested in whether you had any thoughts on socialism vs democratic socialism and if you have any suggestions on how to improve the world. I know your vision is bleak, but since I respect both your mind and your spirituality, I was hoping for something positive and actionable. Blessings to you.
If I may, I’d like to encourage that Grange post in the near future, whenever you find time. I’m a member of the Grange myself, Treasurer for the local chapter out on the coast where I used to live, but my connection has become more tenuous since Covid thanks to the fact that I moved back to the city some years back and now am not traveling out to the coast a few times a month for work as I used to. Thus it’s been a long time since I’ve been to a meeting (which haven’t been taking place anyway).
I love the Grange and would like to remain active, but I have been thinking–even before Covid–that the distance simply may not work well for me to serve its place as a fraternal organization in my life. I have wondered about joining a different fraternal order here in the city, but that idea has been paused with the pandemic. Perhaps when things die down and life begins to return to some semblance of normal next year (at least in regards to the pandemic) I will seek out some potential place. The Masons and Odd Fellows are on my list to check out. Unfortunately, there is no nearby Grange chapter, though I’ll probably maintain my membership in the one out on the coast in support of it, even if I am not able to be active. It’s an organization that really does speak to me.
Anyway, I am aware the Grange has a somewhat storied history in its activism in pursuit of improving rural life, including their work to get free rural mail delivery. I have heard about the railroads–the Granger Laws, yes?–but would love to read a treatment of it from you. I feel like you are good at bringing out details and backstory that I otherwise am unaware of, and perhaps it would prove an inspiration to others–perhaps even to join a local Grange chapter! I still think there’s a lot of great potential in the order, and would like to see it persist and rediscover some of its previous popularity.
I do hope to see a return movement to fraternal organizations as decline picks up speed, and I’m curious/hopeful to see new organizations formed. I have wondered myself what it would take to form a new fraternal organization, but also suspect that’s a less useful approach than simply joining and becoming active in a current one, and helping to revive and reinvigorate it (if that’s needed and desired, anyway). More to think about–perhaps a good theme for a meditation or two!
As usual, Mr. Greer, another highly informative, well-written and worthwhile post. I enjoy reading almost everything you write — there is an elegant simplicity and calm in your writing (and I would say your thoughts) that I find very soothing, almost regardless of the subject under discussion.
I had to literally laugh out loud while reading the following passage, wondering if you were not being facetious in putting forth a caricature of Mr. Fourier’s vision:
“As if all this wasn’t enough, Fourier insisted that once Harmony was achieved, the world itself would be transformed. Clouds of cosmic citric acid would condense out of the interstellar aroma and descend, turning the seas into lemonade. Four additional moons would come out of hiding places elsewhere in the solar system to replace streetlamps. A “boreal corona” would appear over the north pole, radiating warmth and turning the barren lands of Alaska, Siberia, et al. into fruitful agricultural territories, while a similar “austral corona” would do the same thing for Antarctica. Meanwhile lions would turn into peaceful, vegetarian anti-lions that human beings could ride, whales would become anti-whales and willingly pull ships over the lemonade seas, and human beings would live for 144 years, remaining sexually active for 120 of them.”
As a chemist, I would love to have been able to ask Mr. Fourier why, for example, citric acid would condense from the “interstellar aroma” instead of, say, fumaric acid or malic acid, or for that matter acetic acid (which would lead to a rather sour-smelling ocean of pickle juice instead of lemonade). And what about the associated limonene and other terpenes that give lemonade its aroma and flavor? How did he know that the oceans would not actually turn into limeade, or grapefrult juice, instead? And if vicious lions were going to turn into peaceful anti-lions, does that mean that peaceful horses and sheep were going to turn into vicious anti-horses and anti-sheep? So many questions.
On a serious note, and hopefully not an entirely stupid quesion: in regards to monasticism and its future resurgence, do you know of any past or possible secular analog of (religious) monasticism?
“Clouds of cosmic citric acid would condense out of the interstellar aroma and descend, turning the seas into lemonade. ”
Fourier was certainly not a chemist or a biologist. The coral reefs would go poof in a cloud of CO2.
Incidentally, John Mauldin, one of the last of the Country-club Republicans has been using the Great Reset in a different way, predating the new version. He’s mostly worried about how the governments are going to fix their debt problems without starting hyperinflation.
And this is not the Joseph Fourier known for his work in mathematics, for example, the Fourier Transform. That had me worried for a minute until I checked out the first names.
And this just hit the news…
President Vladimir Putin ordered the start of mass-scale vaccination against coronavirus in Russia by the end of next week with medics and teachers first to get the shot.
Harry McClintock also had a vision of the ideal society:
“In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
The jails are made of tin
And you can walk right out again,
As soon as you are in
There ain’t no short-handled shovels,
No axes, saws or picks,
I’ma goin’ to stay
Where you sleep all day,
Where they hung the Turk
That invented work
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains”
Hello JMG! I am a longtime reader but a first-time commentator. Thank you for another great essay. Please do write that article on the Grangers versus the railroad monopolies. I’d be very interested to hear of it from your perspective.
Mtrees, if it has anything in common with Fourier’s work it’s doomed to fail, so thanks but I’ll pass.
Justin, here’s Wilson’s essay. He’s had a certain amount of influence-in-reverse on my thinking — one of my first substantive essays, “Hermeticism and the Utopian Imagination,” was an attempted counterblast to some of his attempts to recruit Hermetic thought as a prop for his “ludic and festal” anarchism. As for the town of Utopia, Ohio, it’s got a certain fame among ghost hunters, as there are apparently some spooks there. (Perhaps phantom anti-lions?)
Renaissance, exactly. You know the old joke about how the most dangerous part in every car is the nut behind the wheel? Plans for wonderful new societies always fail for the same reason — human beings will not reliably act the way that utopian schemes insist that they should act. In a monastery, by contrast, you really have to want to be there in the first place, and if you misbehave, the abbot can chuck you out.
Lauren, my thoughts about socialism, democratic or otherwise, is that it’s been tried repeatedly over the course of the 20th century and has always failed. Yes, I know, “but that wasn’t real socialism!” Yes, it was — it’s what socialism inevitably turns into in the real world, as opposed to what it looks like on paper. That being the case, why not ditch a failed scheme and try something genuinely different? Democratic syndicalism accomplished quite a bit before it got co-opted by the Marxists, for example. As for how to improve the world, right now, for most people in the US, the most important step is to stop blaming those awful people over there for everything wrong with the world, and recognize that what Carl Jung called “the projection of the shadow” is a massive political reality these days. Here is the action that’s most needed now, to confront the source of our problems:
Joel, I’m also a Granger — Past Worthy Master of North Side Grange #727 in Seattle, now sadly defunct, but I’m still on the rolls at another Grange. Yes, I’ll do a post on it. Have you considered seeing if there are enough people in your area to start a new Grange? The state Grange will likely give you plenty of help.
Alan, glad to be of help. 😉 I’m not a chemist, but yes, I also thought about the difficulties with his formula. As for nonreligious monasticism, it’s been tried, but that I know of it doesn’t succeed — you have to have the kind of total commitment that religions generate, and so far, at least, secular philosophies haven’t been able to manage that.
PVguy, yes, there’s that! Ocean acidification, anyone? 😉
TJ, I think it may be time to push hard to get politicians to take the shot first!
Martin, funny! Now that’s a classic.
Centauri Joan, so noted! I’ll definitely put it on the get-to list.
Four moons and lemonade oceans sounds like the kind of fairytale you’d tell a child, not something you’d try to get adults to believe in though. Sounds like something from a H.R. Pufnstuf show. Odd how nobody ever talks about Witchypoo. There’s always a Witchypoo somewhere around.
The real question I have is did Fourier actually believe his own malarkey or was he cynically scamming his followers? Was he an idiot or a psychopath?
His phalansteries sound a lot like what turned into collective farms during the Soviet Union. And they had to shoot a lot of rednecks, er, kulaks to get people to work in those. And even after all that, they never did work. They spent all sorts of resources on them too. It isn’t like they tried to make those farms work. If nobody owns anything, NOBODY CARES.
BTW, Russia now runs regular grain surpluses, with what passes for private enterprise there. But it’s enough to allow it to work.
@Justin Patrick Moore “Cataloging a documentary about the Biosphere 2 project at work today” — Is it Spaceship Earth? I ran across it while blogging about the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards. It was nominated for Best Archival Documentary and Best Science/Nature Documentary, but didn’t win either, losing to MLK/FBI for the first and My Octopus Teacher for the second. That documentary caught my attention because I use Biosphere 2 in my lectures as an example of failing to follow the environmental principle of humility, knowing the limits of one’s knowledge. When I return to in-person classes, I plan on referring my students to that movie for more.
I did some discursive meditation in the car on “collectivism” which a cursory Internet search equates to socialism. The biggest insight I had was that there’s no way for a collective of humans to make decisions without some kind of managing centralized infrastructure. The rest of the collective will never fall in line because of the inherent imbalance of power those in the centralized structure have. The centralized structure only maintains power by keeping the collective within tight constraints of action and thought, and anything that sets an individual apart from the collective, will generate animosity from other members of the collective if they can not do the same.
The question I left off on when getting out of the car was “Why does socialism/collectivism lead to violence?” I think your post answers that question – it’s the only way people have discovered that gets people to behave how the socialist theories expect them to.
I haven’t meditated on individualism yet but I imagine rampant individualism would result in power imbalances as well. One individual or group gains power at expense of the other members of society.
If both concepts aren’t viable pursued in isolation, then something in the middle is obviously the best answer.
I guess I could always apply the sentiment from the Glass Bead Game and not develop ideas towards negative outcomes (I think some faction had banned this in the book), and try to synthesize the two ideals into a coherent system in my mind. (Just doing this for my own mental development, under no illusion that the result would be adopted by society).
Thanks for the post, and I hope you ate your fill of turkey last week 🙂
BTW here’s something I think about every so often. You know the Hammer and Sickle(tm) symbol, right? Well, what exactly is it SUPPOSED to represent? Not saying what it does right now, just what it was originally intended to. The Hammer was supposed to be people like factory workers, mechanics, machinists, anyone who makes stuff with their hands? And the Sickle was suppose to represent farmers and ranchers, anyone involved with agriculture?
So – what would a party look like that actually, seriously, listened to a bunch of farmers, ranchers, mechanics, welders, HVAC contractors, roofers, carpenters,electricians, etc. – and represented whatever consensus you could pull out of them?
Just curious what it would look like.
Fourier is like the embarassing uncle of socialism that nobody talks about. 🙂 Is there a collection of his writings now? The last time I looked there was just a scattering here and there.
There are some Bolshevik utopias of a similar type. Konstantin Youn’s painting ‘The New Planet’ depicted the Russian Revolution as an event of such cosmic significance it sent shockwaves up through the spirit world: https://uploads2.wikiart.org/images/konstantin-yuon/new-planet-1921.jpg!Large.jpg. Techno-utopians thought the Kremlin would be turned into a giant dynamo and transmitter ‘broadcasting magnetic songs’. Richard Stites’ Revolutionary Dreams and Nikolai Krementsov’s Revolutionary Experiments are full of stuff like that. Not utopias, but Alexei Gastev wrote poems of such scale and brutality you get the feeling he’d have been happy writing sourcebooks for Warhammer 40k – https://monoskop.org/images/9/91/Johansson_Kurt_Aleksej_Gastev_Proletarian_Bard_of_the_Machine_Age.pdf. He freaked Zamyatin out to the point of writing We.
I’ve had a revolutionary vision like that myself. Years ago I had a dream set in the immediate aftermath of a revolution. The streets were still packed with people for whom it hadn’t quite sunk in yet that they’d won. The workers council that had been the headquaters of the uprising looked like a cross between one of the old Russian Soviets, and Nasa Mission Control with banks of computers and monitors. One of the operators turned to the crowd and spoke in a language nobody had ever heard before. A ripple ran through the crowd as everyone in earshot realised even though this was a new language, they understood exactly was said. Another person replied in the same language, and everyone understood that too. Many began talking and the realisation spread that they could communicate things they couldn’t before. Whole new thoughts and ways of thinking were possible in the new language.
Through the spreading excitement someone speaks into a radio. In the milling crowds, hundreds hear through dozens of radios. Momentary confusion, then eyes widened – they understand, they speak too. Unstoppable now, the new voice spread on a wave of euphoria, of liberation. The new world made real, concrete, undeniable.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I have the best dreams. 🙂 The visual aspect was one of those things that is difficult to describe in its intensity. The closest I can compare it to was animation by Paul Robertson, but more realistic than 16-bit graphics. (If you’re at all vullnerable to sensory overload, don’t look it up – your eyes will bleed.) I was primed for this dream by a true story in Barbara Ehrenreich’s Dancing in the Streets. At a festival of the French Revolution, dancing broke out that spread not just through Paris, but into surrounding towns and far out into the countryside and through mountains. So while that didn’t require the spontaneous generation of a new dictionary and syntax, it sort-of has precedent. 🙂
I don’t personally believe that people are pretty much all useless but I do believe they don’t think. They seem incapable of seeing the consequences of their actions. So often people will say what they believe and within minutes turn around and do something completely against what they have just said. For me that is really annoying. However I am not required to admire anyone, just be polite. After all we do have to cope with this life together.
As a kid I was raised in the Jehovah’s Witnesses faith, so like Casey, specifically when reading the description of lions being vegetarian and not a threat to people any longer, and the number 144, and the idea that the earth would physically change into a “paradise”, I immediately drew the connections. It’s not a surprise really that they’ve drawn on other traditions. I’m really curious now if any connection to the occult could be found.
Poor Charles; of course the consequences of acidulated seas are the first thing you would think of. The White cliffs of Dover dissolve in a froth of CO2, and climate change arrives a couple hundred years early, but at least the lemonade is fizzy in the English Channel. The Artic turns into a very large Slushy. All the fish and seaweed turns into slime over a period of weeks, along with the Krill. Presumably the lemonade whales are eating something entirely different.
It certainly sounds like a very odd ecosystem.
…The Great Reset, which seems to me much closer to Democratic Socialism (caps on obscene wealth…
@Lauren, please keep in mind it’s those with the obscene wealth that are pushing the GR in order to preserve their positions, not cap them. Davos attendees rarely fly commercial.
@JMG, the Jamestown colonist’s experiment — did it have any ties to Fourier’s ideas?
The great contribution of Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin to the history of socialism is that they proved that there was a far more effective option.
And that’s the key feature underlying socialism in all flavors — coercion towards forced redistribution.
Dear Mr. Greer,
I have to respectfully take issue you on your following comment:
“Andrew, that’s the great failing of libertarianism, and of the libertarian end of the right more generally. Me, I’d like to see corporations deprived of personhood and turned back to what they were in 1800: temporary fundraising devices used for public benefit only.”
As a lifelong libertarian, and a (former) many years member of the LIbertarian Party (before it was co-opted by the neocons), I do not see any such failing in libertarianism in regards to corporations and corporate personhood. Yes, there were the quasi-libertarian followers of Ayn Rand, who implicitly trusted and lauded big business (the bigger the better, so it seemed). But for the most part, the matter was simply not much addressed by most libertarians, which may have been a failing in itself (and I would claim was a failing). However, to the extent that the issue of corporations and corporate power was raised and discussed, as by Karl Hess (and vehemently in his case), corporations were generally seen as a perversion of the free market, and not as a natural outgrowth of them. That was my experience with the matter in regards to libertarianism, anyway.
For the record, though, and as I have already stated here recently, I do personally see corporations as a subversion of the free market, and an almost unmitigated evil. I would love to see them knocked down at least as far as you would! But how does any such movement get started, when the power of corporations is so far-reaching and all-encompassing? It would be like an Egyptian peasant of the Old Kingdom period preaching the fallacy of the divine right of kings, and almost (if not equally) as dangerous.
Thanks to all for this thread and the one last week. Now I’ve got the Merle Haggard song, Rainbow Stew, stuck in my head. I would link to it, but I can’t listen to anything where I am now to make sure I’d found a good version. I keep wondering if old Merle ever read Fourier. Anyway, he certainly did sing about “free bubble up.”
I think we might should all make it a theme song.
This week’s Chesterton quote: “The weakness of all Utopias is this, that they take the greatest difficulty of man and assume it to be overcome, and then give an elaborate account of the overcoming of the smaller ones.
They first assume that no man will want more than his share, and then are very ingenious in explaining whether his share will be delivered by motor-car or balloon.” It’s from “Heretics” and he is here discussing H. G. Wells…
Luckily I was educated in Canadian schools. We were introduced to Canadian political history in junior high school (grades 7-9). Further exploration showed the differences and similarities of our politics through our British political heritage that included Tories, Whigs, and Fabian socialists (in our very own labour party of the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation). There was one particular note that made the Conservatives and the CCF more akin than either of them were to the Liberal party, at least as far as the latter held in their ideological platforms.
Much of what the varieties of ‘socialism’ (especially Fabianism) have in common with old Toryism is their claim that there are certain people, who, because of social status [usually inherited for conservatives], know what is best for everyone else of lower social status than them. This is still true whether one ascribes to new Toryism, liberalism, corporatism, or the new wave of domination in India under the fundamentalist Hinduism of Modi et al, or of the ‘engineers’ of the Chinese ‘communist’ hybrid model. All of these ‘models’ have at least one thing in common: they treat democracy as anathema to their programmes.
One of the things that more people need, no matter their formidable intellectual aspirations (talent through hard work notwithstanding!), is to learn to be good labourers now and in any new reality that may happen – what I suspect will be a future that will come about whether we like it or not [mostly not!].
You’re probably familiar with this book, but for the benefit of other Ecosophians I wanted to recommend Charles Nordhoff’s 1875 book “The Communistic Societies of the United States,” which gives a fascinating overview of these communes: of numerous defunct but wondrous-sounding societies like the Perfectionists, Icarians and Zoar Separatists.
Do you think the world is ready for a new monastic movement, and would you see that as a good thing? I’d certainly like to see someone carry elements of our culture through dark ages ahead, although much would depend on what elements they’re preserving.
Thanks again for being a highlight of my week.
The reason most democratic syndicalists have been drawn into the socialist movement is because the collective force of American Unionists, American Socialists, and even American Communists in the 1930’s fought for the New Deal. That’s the last time workers’ power increased in this country, so it’s not too crazy to try something like that again.
Regardless of political leanings, most people think that retirement, the weekend, and the (endangered) 40 hour workweek are all good ideas, even if the words used to describe the people who fought for it have become insults.
I think an important point that gets missed is that a lot of socialists are not in it for some vision of a lemonade future or any vision of the future, but that socialism is the only association that will pass the legislation they want—which is some kind of counterbalance to capitalist power.
If you want to have a cooperative workplace, workers must be given the resources they need to collectivize (as a union or a co-op), and it’s not in the interest of capitalists to let them have it. There’s a continual blindspot in American politics were we blame the other side for their strangest bedfellow (Fourier in the case of your post) instead of bothering to wonder what common objective got into bed with them in the first place.
A positive sign of the last election is that all but a vocal minority of violent utopians in the Socialist movement swallowed their pride and voted for Biden. Modern socialism is electoralist. What’s better is that this relatively peaceful tactic is working: while the democrats largely lost in the house and the senate, most of the candidates that won elections in swing states went against DNC policy and campaigned on socialist policies like Medicare for All.
Uncoupling healthcare from employment pulls a feather from the cap of capitalists and gives syndicalists one less thing to worry about if they strike—or strike out on their own to make a co-op. Modern capitalism is only sustained through trillions in government funding, so there is no serious question as to whether an economic or social movement should have taxpayer backing, there’s only the question of who gets it.
As I explained to a whiny young co-worker the other day, if work were fun, they wouldn’t have to pay us to do it.
Your comments about the communal movement of the 1970s reminded me about The Farm, the Tennessee commune started by a caravan of California hippies led by Steve Gaskin. It was one of the best publicized of that era’s communal efforts, partly due to the midwifery books published by Ina May Gaskin. So, off to Google to see what happened to them. The Farm is still there, but it ceased being a communal economy in 1983–lasted 12 years as such. Now most residents work in nearby communities. Some work in businesses run by the community: book publishing, midwifery, a gift shop, etc. All residents pay a monthly rent and have a vote on communal expenses such as road maintenance. Not a failure, but not independent either. And if I recall various reporting from the early years, they never were completely independent of outside jobs. It would be interesting to know how many of the original group and their children remain and how much turnover there is.
I believe that the strict controls of the Soviet system were, in theory, temporary. Living outside of capitalism and its perverse incentives would allow new generations to become the New Soviet Man. That was the reason that Soviet biologists were required to hew to Jean-Baptiste Lamarck’s theory that acquired traits could be inherited. Once generations had been born and matured under communism the capitalist traits of selfishness and greed would be bred out and re-education camps and purges would no longer be necessary. The State would wither away, unneeded by people who would do the right thing without coercion. Guess it’s too bad that Lamarck was wrong.
Given the above it seems that one of the key differences between certain forms of progressive thought and conservatism is the question of human nature. What is human nature? Is it shaped by heredity, by God’s will, by environment? How much and in which directions can it be changed? Can the changes be made only an individual at a time, or generations at a time? and can the changes be maintained from one generation to the next?
JMG, in an early post you said something like “Earth will always be 4th grade”–meaning that individual souls progress but that since they leave earth for a higher plane human society overall does not improve. Is this discussion of the failure of utopian schemes an expansion of that statement?
JMG – Thanks for this essay (so far I’ve just read through the first part, but felt compelled to comment):
Did Fourier also mention ‘tangerine trees and marmalade skies’?
I was fortunate enough, by chance, to have worked in a field that I really enjoyed (even better – it was useful). Key work here is ‘work’, and even the best work is sometimes a grind, but getting through that can be rewarding, and in the right ‘zone’ the grind becomes flowing with the current rather than against it. But that takes work and practice, not being “motivated to work by passional attraction rather than poverty or greed.” Eesh.
Now back to reading the rest of the essay!
Thanks for a very worthwhile read! You’ve given a clear description of the process of evolution as it simply must happen to us humans.
Instead of sharper claws or bigger muscles, by trial and error we develop various ways of organizing the group cooperation that produces the maximum advantages that our big brains can yield.
While the whole known history of evolution, from single cells onwards, shows that cooperation works best in the end, it always seems to arise out of fierce competition that ends up favoring the best cooperators: those who can manage to compromise and limit their in-group ferocity, and cooperate to use their best tactics against other groups. [Ed Yong’s great “I Contain Multitudes” presents the latest info on the development of cooperation between us as mammals and our internal microbial population]
Now if we can only manage to do less damage to the environment and to ourselves in the process . . . .
Well, that’s why I personally am pushing for infants to be lovingly taught reading and simple math at the same time they are learning to talk. This added instruction is a very similar task and very do-able by loving parents at essentially zero cost: just pointing a finger at the words (or math symbols) on entertaining pages as the words are being read aloud. There’s good evidence that this works, ranging from my own personal experience to the story of how a top psychologist did this for his own son over a century ago. He produced an isolated and therefore maladjusted guy who was still regarded as the smartest person alive (Google “Boris Sidis” ). But his son William learned on his own how to cooperate comfortably rather than standing out from the crowd as a competitor.
We could use a whole lot more such very smart humans; enough to form large groups of cooperators and to serve as examples for those not yet producing such kids. And also as examples to the overly selfish and hostile who cause so much grief as part of an unpleasant and less efficient evolutionary process.
Like Martin, I thought immediately of “The Big Rock Candy Mountain,” especially the line that goes
“… And the lemonade springs where the bluebird sings …”
I’m not a member of any fraternal organization myself, but I have enormous respect for both the benevolent activity and the ritual work that they do. And the Grange is one of the best of them out there, so far as I can judge from the outside. Our host is surely well aware that the Grange was the first of these these fraternal orders (at least in the USA) to admit men and women to equal membership and provide them with equal power and authority in lodge work.
As for ritual work in general, I think it is essential for any smoothly functioning, long lasting society. The human psyche (generally speaking) seems driven to ritual activity, and seems to benefit from it enormously, much as people generally benefit from other, more widely recognized human drives (e.g. the famous “four Fs”–fleeing, fighting, feeding and … sex 😛).
The new age author Malidoma Somé strikes me as generally no more insightful than most new-age authors, but his first slim book (Ritual: Power, Healing and Community) has had a lasting impact on my own thinking as an occultist. He, too, takes the position that without some sort of ritual practice, no society can function at all well for very long. It doesn’t even need to be the same ritual practice for everyone in that society, either; it is enough if the members of the society range across a gaumet of ritual systems. (It may be significant that Somé wrote his best book before he decided to earn his living on the new-age lecture-and-workshop circuit.)
@JMG, & all: re: Wilson. His ideas about the TAZ, etc., appealed to me as a teenager and twenty-something. Back when I was writing reviews for Brainwashed I was sent some of his more recent books (those are now about 7-8 years old at least). They had parts I liked and parts I disliked. Stuff I thought I was interesting, and parts where I paused.
It was around this time, through my own readings on the philosophy of anarchism, (the red headed stepchild of 19th century political theorizing), I discovered some things about him I wasn’t too keen on. Other anarchists were criticizing his so called “spiritual anarchism” or “lifestyle anarchism” as a way to get around certain ethical issues due to his penchant, or so they said, for underage boys. Mainly his early writings for NAMBLA and other “Uranian Poet” type tendencies I didn’t have a clue about when I first read him. Then when I re-read him I clearly saw those allusions in his writings I had missed before. Without wanting to subscribe to a “cancel culture” type policy for his personal life, I none the less set his work aside.
Though I know the age of consent has changed at different times in history, and there have been different norms, I had to question whether or not Wilson/Bey’s use of anarchism and the way he slipped things into his writing was an attempt to normalize behavior I wouldn’t really approve of in a Boy Scout Troop leader or a Catholic priest.
I know too many people who have been hurt in this way to take it lightly. I also met the type myself, lurking around in occult bookstores, but that’s another story.
That said, I did dig up his essay “Immediatism” recently when I met some of the Moorish Orthodox people via the zine scene and re-read it.
I can definitely see how he had an influence in reverse on what you mentioned, which I appreciate.
I could also see how Fourier appealed to him. (Orgies, duh.) When I read this weeks essay I was also struck by how Fourier appealed to the sensual side of life, while excluding other elements that also have importance (spiritual, the satisfaction of good labor, mental stimulation).
I also wonder about the fate of Dreamtime Village in Wisconsin, a commune that had at least connections to Wilson. I met some of those people online in the early oughts but haven’t heard a peep about them in awhile. These days those kind of projects don’t hold the same kind of appeal they once did.
In the end I’m better off having witnessed the effect of a life of indulgence on the lives of people around me, while I did other things here in this river town. Something beyond mere indulgence is required if we are to lift ourselves up out of the rubble and the rust, and build things worthwhile.
Owen, apparently he believed it himself. Yes, I know, but people can talk themselves into believing the strangest things.
Youngelephant, exactly. “It’s owned by everyone” always amounts in practice to “it’s owned by those who administer it in everyone’s name, and allegedly for their benefit.” As for violence, exactly. I don’t think Lenin thought he would have to set up prison camps and shoot people en masse; I think he turned to mass violence in frustration because people just wouldn’t do what Marxist theory insisted they would do.
Owen, funny. I think we both know exactly what it would look like…
Yorkshire, you should be able to find a used copy of The Utopian Vision of Charles Fourier somewhere — that was the standard Sixties-era anthology, though it left out more of the more bat-guano crazy stuff. As for Soviet revolutionary art, yep — just as giddy.
Prizm, occultists have been researching that for a while now. That I know of, nobody’s found a significant link, though I haven’t kept up on it. It’s a pity; French 19th century occultism was very colorful indeed, and Fourierist sorceries would have added a fine streak of lemon yellow to the mix.
Adwelly, to put it mildly!
TJ, no, it was two hundred years before Fourier’s time!
Alan, all I can say is that for every libertarian who cites Karl Hess (and yes, I know who he was), I’ve seen more than a dozen who were for all practical purposes blind to the threat of corporate power. Now of course your mileage may vary, but my experience is what it is.
Vera, funny. Yes, that would make a good anthem, though the one that comes to my mind is the fine old Roger Whittaker piece “New World in the Morning”…
RPC, spot on as usual.
Bruce, one of the secrets of socialism is that in practice it’s almost always been a vehicle for the ambitions of the managerial class, rather than having anything to do with the working classes.
Brian, a new monastic movement is possible now, though it’ll be easier later on once economic contraction picks up. Most of the monastic orders that kept Japanese culture intact through the post-Heian dark ages were founded while the Heian era was still early in its decline; by contrast, Benedict of Nursia came on the scene long after the fall of Rome. The great challenge would be to find people who are ready, willing, and able to accept the kind of very restricted lifestyle that makes for effective monasticism.
Thuley, of course the socialists voted for Biden. They’ve voted for one mainstream Democrat after another, and that’s why they’ve never achieved any of their goals. The Democratic Party knows perfectly well that it can ignore them until the next election and they’ll still fall into line. That will continue, too, until the socialists realize that they’ve become a captive constituency of big-money liberalism and actually sit out an election or two, to show the party that it can no longer take their votes for granted.
Korellyn, good! I doubt he took it well, though.
Rita, an excellent point! Yes, the most important source of failure in all schemes for social improvement is the assumption that human nature depends on the social system, and if you only put them into the right social system, they’ll act like angels. What history demonstrates with brutal clarity is that this isn’t true, and social systems are what they are because they’re inhabited by human beings. That being the case, those social systems work best that rely on vices rather than virtues, because only the best of us have virtues, while all of us have vices. (And yes, that feeds into the occult teaching that this world is a specific stage in spiritual evolution and will never improve noticeably, so long as there are souls that need this experience.)
PatriciaT, he should have:
“Picture yourself by a lemonade ocean,
With plant-eating lions and sex played in teams,
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly,
The man with the socialist dreams!”
Tom, and where would be be without the enthusiasts who think that they can browbeat the world into behaving if only they do it the right way? No, evolution does not show that cooperation is always the best option — predation wouldn’t be anything like so common in food chains if that were true. As for teaching infants reading and math, there’s a fad for that every thirty years or so, and it folds as soon as people discover that if the readiness factors aren’t there, you simply end up with kids who hate reading and math, and have severe emotional problems.
Robert, when I was active in the Odd Fellows in Seattle we used to have a good laugh regularly about people who’d read Somé and were babbling about how American culture lacked rituals. Here we were in the Odd Fellows, with a bunch of elegant rituals dating back to the 18th century that had once meant an enormous amount to many Americans, and nobody wanted to hear about them…
Justin, that was one of the things that I found unimpressive about him — yeah, it always read to me as though he was an anarchist so he could claim that nobody had the right to tell him not to molest children. Ick.
Occult totalitarianism: like the scene in 1984 when the woman appears on the telescreen and makes Winston exercise, except she makes him do banishing rituals. Also the riot control water cannons fire hoodoo bath mix. All citizens will have clean energy bodies, by order of the Supreme Lodge. 🙂
Since last Wednesday I came across an interesting thread/rant by one “Zero HP Lovecraft”.
It includes this:
“””It was only a matter of time before a someone developed a fork of protestant Christianity that could cross the church-state barrier. We call that fork “progress,” and with a few tweaks to the phenotype it was able to capture the entire state.”””
Like many things in this universe, the success or failure of socialism depends on scale. More communal living methods works very well at the level of family, huntet gatherer tribe, small village or agricultural settlement. I would guess that most of us are socialists at the family level, but as the scale increases we get less and less so. As soon as human populations get too big and complex, the hierarchical structures naturally develop, and any attempt to change them is futile. Hence why the common animal farm refrain of ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss’.
@vincelamb: Yup, that’s the documentary: Spaceship Earth. Sounds like you are teaching some good things!
@Joel Caris: Hmmm. I’d be interested in some kind of urban parallel organization to the Grange. Not that I can’t join the Grange otherwise. Much as I love visiting the country, I’m an urban dweller through and through. If nothing else, new fraternal organizations can be dreamed up in the world of fiction. I’m also thinking of the urban farmers… good seeds here for meditating on.
@Darkest Yorkshire: self-organized artist collectives & movements seem to work … for awhile. Maybe these could be like old school corporations: formed for a purpose and when that purpose is finished, dissolved.
That was a good essay!
I wonder if you have heard of the Bruderhof organisation? They are the usual Protestant monastic sect but open to new people and having aspects of communal living and a certain privacy for families. They also sing a lot. It reminded me of my youthful experience of the Kibbutz movement. The unusual thing about the Bruderhof is that they started after the First World War. They seem to be flourishing and I think they may be a wave of the future.
TJ and the Bear, about Vladi Popular –
President Putin said last week that the Russian vaccine will be provided as fast as feasible to all CIS residents who want it, but taking the jabs will be strictly a voluntary thing. We’ll see how much pressure is put on healthcare people to “volunteer” to go first, but at least he announced the sound principle, “your body, your choice!”, while our anti-lions are snarling about people with no vaccination certificate not being allowed to travel, and maybe not to work. Reporting adverse side effects from the vaccines, or publicly expressing skepticism about their safety or effectiveness, has been made a crime in the UK, probably the first country of many (or are they even first?) That should work wonders!
Putin often seems to be a good example of the process of recovery from socialism. While bumping Russia in the general direction of social democracy, he channels French President Charles de Gaulle, doing whatever is good for his own country that will make the Washington neocons chew the furniture.
From H.Beam Piper’s “A Slave is a Slave,” the newly emancipated Chief Slave of Office of one of the now-defunct masters tells one of his fellow bureaucrats “If everything belongs to everybody, somebody has to look after everything for them. That’s you and me.”
Oh, I know, JMG. There were many and various fraternal organizations–with wonderful rituals–in my family’s past, and my wife’s family’s past, too. My own reasons for not going down that path as a young man were somewhat opaque to me at the time, but in retrospect it was clearly the right thing for me, both as a peron and as a scholar. Yet I always had enormous respect for their work. The work to which I was called in this life of mine–as I eventually came to understand deeply–was simply a different work, and one that had to be carried out in social solitude. If I had lived in the Middle Ages, and been a Christian, I might have spent my life as a hermit, or maybe even as an anchorite.
“Unless we put medical freedom into the Constitution, the time will come when medicine will organize into an undercover dictatorship to restrict the art of healing to one class of Men and deny equal privileges to others…”
— Benjamin Rush
Much as this article is fascinating and an education, I am not sure that it really conveys the extent of what is unfolding. It is much more than some idealistic attempt at a Fabian ‘reset’. The ties between the Great Reset and the Covid events this year (research ‘Event 201’ as a start), and more to the point, how these events are degenerating weekly especailly with respect to the food supply, should put people on page with how serious this all is.
“Alan, all I can say is that for every libertarian who cites Karl Hess (and yes, I know who he was), I’ve seen more than a dozen who were for all practical purposes blind to the threat of corporate power. Now of course your mileage may vary, but my experience is what it is.”
Actually, Mr. Greer, we are not as far apart in our viewpoints and opinions here as I first thought. My original reading of your response to Andrew led me to suspect that you (and Andrew) were claiming or inferring that libertarians are generally active advocates or supporters of large corporations and corporate power, rather than many of them simply being blind to the inherent dangers to freedom in corporate power. Which perhaps makes for a small difference in actual practice rather than in theory.
But for what it’s worth, I see no contradiction between libertarianism and being anti-corporation, or at least in holding libertarian views while also being opposed to corporations as we know and suffer from today. Indeed, I would say that any contradiction would lie in claiming to be a libertarian while NOT also being anti-corporate power. However, I cannot speak to the current general state of libertarian sentiment, on this nor on any other, not having been involved with either the Libertarian Party or with any other self-identifying libertarians in well over a decade.
Even if I distrust covid19 vaccines on principle, it makes sense that medic personnel and teachers are the first to get them. Not that I am happy about that, since that implies 2021 will require a hard choice on my part if the Russian example gets replicated around the world.
Doctors and nurses are not only at higher risk of infection, but of becoming high risk infection vectors themselves. They get in contact with lots of ill people, so if they are asymptomatic carriers themselves the ones that would receive their infection are arguably at higher risk of developing a complicated case (because of their already taxed immune system).
The reason to vaccine teachers is, in my opinion, rather economical. Schools provide the overt service of educating children (with uneven rates of success) and the tacit service of daycare for underage minors (please leave aside if this is actually needed or not). One of the roadblocks that need to be addressed in order to reopen the economy is exactly who is going to keep an eye on children if the schools remain closed but their parents must go to work. Not that this stopped employers from demanding parents to work and seek their own daycare solutions, but it adds stress to every party involved.
Many schemes have been proposed in order to make a partial reopening of schools with reduced hour per student but extended ours for teachers so that the total amount of people confined in each classroom (and indirectly, infection rate) is reduced. The linchpin of those schemes are that if the teacher gets infected, you might as well send the kids in all day because reducing interactions with their mates will do nothing*. There’s also the fact that, given the average age of teachers, they are in moderate to high risk brackets (against the “almost none” for prepubescent children and teenagers).
So if Putin wants to start vaccination early, and will do so regardless of popular opinion, he could do worse than to start with those two demographics.
*This is a gross oversimplification, but the comment is already big.
Dear gods… The left finally makes sense… ^^ 😉
You know, for some reason I never did consider the possibility of starting back up a defunct Grange, or establishing a new chapter. There actually are several in my county, but they are all scattered around the outskirts of Portland and I was hoping for one more in the neighborhood. Not that I couldn’t get myself out to one of the more far flung ones–and perhaps I should just do that–but I wonder if there is a defunct chapter more in the neighborhood that could be available for a revival. It’s a good idea; I think I’ll reach out to the state Grange to check.
Happy to hear you’re still on the rolls of another Grange. I would love to be a Master some day. I think I could have tackled that at White Clover Grange #784, where I’m still Treasurer, if I had stuck around in the area. However, once I moved back to Portland, it wasn’t in the cards.
I should write more about the Grange at some point. Particularly those interested in local food and small-scale agriculture, it seems like an excellent organization primed for revival in those places where it has fallen by the wayside, particularly if melded with some of the old traditions and rituals that tie into agriculture and seasons, which I would like to better learn. Those have fallen out of favor for the most part at #784, though we still occasionally try to work in some of the hand gestures while voting. But I think it would be pretty neat to actually run the meetings by Robert Rules of Order and bring back some of the rituals. Did you engage in any of that during your time at NSG #727?
Picture yourself by a lemonade ocean,
With plant-eating lions and sex played in teams,
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly,
The man with the socialist dreams:
Phalansteries of yellow and green
Towering over your head
Look for the man with these delusions
And he’s gone
Charles Fourier, the crackpot!
Charles Fourier, the crackpot!
Charles Fourier, the crackpot!
Follow him down to a bridge by a commune
Where magic whales carry ships over seas
Everyone smiles as you drift past the four moons
Everyone completely carefree!
Wondrous clouds appear in the sky
Ready to give you some rain
Taste it to find that it’s all made of citrus
And you’re gone:
Charles Fourier, the crackpot!
Charles Fourier, the crackpot!
Charles Fourier, the crackpot!
Picture yourself on a train in a station
All of the porters inspired by passion
Suddenly someone is there at the turnstile
The man with too much Neptune
Charles Fourier, the crackpot!
Charles Fourier, the crackpot!
Charles Fourier, the crackpot!
Charles Fourier, the crackpot!
Charles Fourier, the crackpot!
Charles Fourier, the crackpot!
Charles Fourier, the crackpot!
Charles Fourier, the crackpot!
Charles Fourier, the crackpot!
There’s an interesting feature in the history of utopias that not all of them require humans to change. The more fantastical the setting, the less is required of the people. The medieval peasant utopia Cockaigne, the land of plenty, didn’t need the peasant to change at all. They could just lie around and enjoy the pork chops falling from the sky: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a5/Pieter_Bruegel_d._%C3%84._037.jpg. Once you get a scenario where people have to make it work for themselves, then questions of human relationships and behaviour come to the fore.
A question for everyone. Imagine whatever you would consider the most minimal, bare bones utopia, but still worthy of that name. What specific things would humans have to be able to do consistently to make it work?
What would be the reason that Monasticism requires vows of celibacy to succeed? The poverty vows seem obvious–being that economic output of the Monastery is going to be very low. The guess that I have is that the resource and time commitments required by children make it necessary.
Hopefully in this life I’ll go full-Gwynfydd and walk through the walls and into the fire or burst into the heavens and bye y’all… but in case I don’t, there better be a Druid monastery waiting for me when I get back!
Hi JMG, thanks for the post.
Of course all the communists ideas and the controversy around the legitimacy of private property has religious roots, because, in fact, is deeply inside our Christian theological (Catholic) tradition from its incepcion, because this religion was born from savior that, when living as a man, owned nothing and lived in complete poverty.
In the the Acts of the Apostles:
“ The multitude of believers had one heart and one soul. No one considered their goods as their own, but everything was common among them.  The Apostles gave witness with great power to the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus and they were highly esteemed.  No one was in need, because all those who owned houses or lands sold them  and made the money available to the Apostles, to be distributed to each according to their needs ”
“…. to each according to his needs …” This phrase that many believe is the work of Karl Marx who used it profusely in his writings (it appears in his work “Critique of the Gotha program”, 1875), is nevertheless original from the New Testament (Saint Luke).
Saint Ambrose says in the IV century in this regard:
“The Lord God desired in a particular way that the land be the common possession of all, and produce fruit for all; but greed produced property rights”
The theologian Gratian, author of perhaps the most influential works of medieval canon law that was studied in all universities, wrote in the XII century in his “Decretum”:
“Communis enim usus omnium quae sunt in hoc mundo, omnibus hominibus ese debuit”, in english: “for the common use of all the men of this world should be all the things of this world”.
And regarding wealth, Saint Albert the Great, in the XIII century, says in the “Commentaries on the Gospel of Saint Matthew”:
“Every rich man is unjust or heir to unjust. Because if he is rich of will, having his heart buried in wealth, he is unjust”
The Franciscan diatribe against wealth and the ultimate legitimacy of private property will continue in from the end of the XIII century and throughout the XIV century, and all the great theologians of the time such as Duns Scotus and William of Ockham participated in it on the Franciscan side, in the other side were the Dominicans as, for example, Saint Thomas Aquinas, that “understand” some legitimacy of private property, and this position came, (how could it be otherwise?), from the readings of Aristotle’s works (Aristotle was from a complete different tradition, coming from an era of the “Military-Coinage-Slave Complex” as called by David Graeber)
Aristotle’s argument, when defending the moral of private property, is similar to what is currently called “Tragedy of the Commons” attributed to the ecologist Garrett Hardin (I do not understand why this argument is considered “original” from Harding when it is almost as old as the world).
Aristotle says in his book “Politics”:
“What is common to a very large number of people gets a minimum of care. For everyone cares especially about their own things, and less about common things, or only insofar as they concern one”.
Following Aristotle’s argument, Saint Thomas Aquinas says in his main opus “Summa Theologica”:
“It is lawful for man to have his own things. And it is also necessary to human life for three reasons: first, because each one is more solicitous in managing what belongs exclusively to him than what is common to all or many, since each which, fleeing from work, leaves to others the care of what is convenient for the common good, as happens when there are a multitude of servants. Second, because human things are administered more orderly if each one is responsible for the care of their own interests; however, confusion would reign if each one took care of everything indistinctly. Third, because in this way the state of peace among men is maintained if each one is happy with his own. ”
Of course the Franciscans and the vast majority of medieval Catholic theologians fiercely opposed this supposed pragmatic (non moral) argument, among others because in front of their eyes the economic life of that time was dominated by communal goods and “private possession” for example of the nobles, was more a duty of “custody” of goods that they could not alienate (sell, buy or destroy). That would change once the money started to circulate again in impersonal markets.
In reality, private property, according to the conception of medieval christian theology, is a tolerable “evil” in the context of a world fallen into sin, with the idea of avoiding conflicts and disputes between men, but private property must be conceived as a “weakness”, a “fault” of the human being, and never exalted as preferred, as an end in itself, and much less as a “Natural Right”. The hope of the Christian theologians (and also of Marx) is that once the Millenium arrives, the private property will dissappear and people will live, again, as the First Christians.
In fact the private property as a “Natural Right” was conceived only from the Reformation and his heirs in Liberalism and the Enlightenment; togheter with the Protestant consideration that the wealth accumulation as a sign of being “choosen” (by God) and the human egoism as, infact, the “only” way to improve the life in society thanks to the “invisible hand” of the market (Liberalism).
The works of Karl Marx was for me a mixture of (David) Ricardian economics, a forensic details of the inhumane and exploitative conditions of the workers in his time, and the moral arguments and millenarianism from the Gospels, pulling out God.
The Great Reset is, again and of course, Millenarianism in its purest form.
I think Charles Fourier is a different kind from Marx; for a medieval inquisitor it would be clear were his ideas come from. This imaginary inquisitor immediately would detect a “Free Spirit” heretic. The “Free Spirit” heresy is recorded from at least XII century, but appears many many times in European history: Amaury of Bene, William Cornelius, Thomas Müntzer, John of Leyden (in Münster), the Ranters in England, etc… and many others mystic anarchists trying to build an orgiastic New Jerusalem on earth.
Meanwhile someone just crossed the Rubicon (Potomac), take a note of the day:
Take a note of the day in the calendar
If they were considering work camps and mass graves, they wouldn’t be so courteous as to inform us so soon, would they? I don’t think work camps or violent repression are on the agenda, that is distasteful, they are not deplorable low born as the kinds of stalin or hitler, but I am not sure about the mass graves .Depopulation is one big concern of our betters, the natural demographic decline is slow, and people are so vulnerable… One of them mentioned, or so I read somewhere, how it is easier to kill million than to make them change their mind! Dear JMG, I hope that you are right, as usual, and the whole thing is just another silly phallansterie!
Hello Mr. Greer,
You essay ends by saying that the current promoters of the Great Reset are not willing to go to the mass murder lengths that the communists used to enforce their ideas. With that said, censorship is a much less dramatic solution and the big tech companies/mainstream media are already in a position to do this if the government is compliant. So with that said, what do you think censorship will look like in the coming years? Should we expect people with the wrong opinions to be kicked off social media? Loose access to the internet? Maybe even loose their ability to buy and sell if we go to a purely digital monetary system? Or for that matter, do you have any plans if your blog gets targeted as “fake news”?
I have been reading Jonathan I. Israel’s “The Enlightenment that Failed: Ideas, Revolution, and Democratic Defeat, 1748-1830” It’s a doorstop, but reading faster than I thought. I am not up to Fourier’s time period, but it does extend to the shift toward Marxism/Socialism so it will be interesting to see if he is noted.
I also have, and glanced at Israel’s “The Expanding Blaze: How the American Revolution Ignited the World, 1775-1848” as I wanted to see more directly on how slavery was dealt within the ideology. Given that much of the American ideology flowed into the French revolution and then the Revolutions of 1845 it will be interesting to see the blending, as (at least according to Wikipedia – LOL) Fourier’s ideas were also influential in that movement.
To take this in an entirely different direction…
As I was reading through your list of Fournier’s nutty assumptions, I suddenly wondered: Wouldn’t it be interesting if Fournier really DID have some sort of clairvoyant vision about the future, ran it through his own biases, and ended up with these semi-hilarious results?
Just spitballing here:
“Clouds of cosmic citric acid” = ocean acidification
“Four additional moons… to replace streetlamps” = light pollution
“A “boreal corona” would appear over the north pole, radiating warmth and turning the barren lands of Alaska, Siberia, et al. into fruitful agricultural territories, while a similar “austral corona” would do the same thing for Antarctica” = global warming will open these areas for agriculture
“Meanwhile lions would turn into peaceful, vegetarian anti-lions that human beings could ride” = After all megafauna go extinct in the wild sometime this century, it makes sense that some eccentric billionaire might decide to bring them back ‘better’….
“whales would become anti-whales and willingly pull ships over the lemonade seas” = Uh… robot tugboats?
“human beings would live for 144 years, remaining sexually active for 120 of them” = this sounds about as far as life-extension technologies are ever going to get, but a couple of billionaires will probably experience this
Also, a day in which one does very little actual work but spends their leisure eating fine food and having creative sex sounds like some of the more “interesting” tech bros you could bump into in Seattle in the 2010s.
Having a “real” vision behind these things could explain why he was so utterly self-convinced of them. Then again… perhaps him NOT being clairvoyant is MORE baffling. Life is plenty strange, eh? 🙂
“This is especially true of those communal groups that plan on going back to the land and raising all their own food—these find out in short order that subsistence farming takes far more hard work for smaller returns than holding down an ordinary job in an industrial economy”
I think this is a crucial point. We run a garden of steadily increasing size for several years now and produce as much food as we can by ourselves. And still, we are very very far away from subsistence and it has become very clear that subsistence is impossible to realize when you want to have an “ordinary life” at the same time. Of course you learn and become more efficient and so on, but there is certainly a limit to what you can realize and there certainly is a limit to what you should realize if you don’t want to overshoot in some direction. We all have to eat and there is a minimal (but empathically not small) amount of work necessary to provide food. Although many will say no-no to this, I think you can’t really save work and the law of conversation of energy and the laws of thermodynamic more generally apply here, too. Most literally, there is no such thing as a free lunch.
At least on this side of the Atlantic many still idealize (partly unconsciously) the way of living of the nomadic native American and other nomadic people as a source of inspiration for a sustainable way of living. It certainly is, but few consider the thought that many of us, if just thrown into nomadic life and into a world is fit to allow for a nomadic way of living, would most likely be dead within a few days.
JMG – For those looking for a “fraternal”-lite experience, I suggest a ham radio club. It has initiation (licensing), mutual aid (older hams passing older equipment down to beginners), and group activities. Some groups pool their resources to build shared facilities. Since remote communication is the theme, it’s got “social distancing” built in. Members adopt a new identity, their call-sign. And I still think there’s something “magic” about DIY radio. To avoid cluttering this thread, check out the ham radio discussion on the Greenwizards.com web site.
But, if one is too busy to adjust your schedule to weekly radio nets, or monthly club meetings, then you’re probably not cut out for the monastic life. I wonder how many people fantasize about communal living, but never even learn the names of their grocery store clerks? Or the farmer that produces any of their food? Or their city council members?
Every time I read this, I read Ant-lions in place of Anti-Lions, and Fourier’s vision becomes even more amusing. If someone was promising me a peaceful vegetarian Ant-Lion that was big enough to ride, I would probably sign on to just about any ideology no matter how many firing squads were involved.
JMG, I discovered recently the ‘ Tytler Cycle of Freedom ‘ . https://thenicolfoundation.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/cycle-of-democracy.jpg
He was a Scottish advocate & historian, and described how civilizations go through cycles of freedom and bondage.
Here is an article about where things are at in the USA:
I can see that the Western world is going back to bondage after Apathy and Dependence.
Around the world, I see that Thailand is in Abundance and going to Selfishness,
Guatemala is in Spiritual Faith and going to Great Courage.
Mexico is reaching Liberty and going to Abundance.
The trajectory of countries may be disrupted by global warming, and by the global
peak in resources yet I find this a very interesting perspective.
Do you have thoughts on this Cycle?
Yorkshire, that is to say, Nazi Germany. No, I’m not joking — “occult totalitarianism” is probably the best description of the Third Reich that you’ll find. Of course it violated the laws of magic and imploded spectacularly, but that’s the risk you run…
JVP, fascinating. A very original thinker, and spot on in some cases.
PumpkinScone, true. You’d think that would inspire people of socialist leanings to push for radical decentralization, to scale things down to the point at which their preferred solutions can work, but somehow that never seems to enter into the picture. I recall how fast the leftward end of the peak oil scene dropped the slogan of “economic decentralization” when it turned out that this would require trade barriers, and give more jobs to those awful deplorables…
Maxine, thanks for this. I’d heard the name, but never looked into them — I’ll have to fix that.
Patricia M, Piper was as usual spot on.
Robert, even at the peak of American fraternalism, only about half the population belonged to a lodge, so you’re in good company. Wasn’t it Groucho Marx who said he would never join a club that would have him as a member?
Alan, oh, it would be logically more consistent for libertarians to be just as hostile to corporate power as to state power, and I’d like to see more of them do so. Still, as a civil libertarian myself, I can’t exactly force them to do that. 😉
Sven, that’s what I thought when I first encountered Fourier!
Joel, another order that has a substantial presence in Portland that you might want to consider is the Odd Fellows. They admit men and women alike — my wife was the first female Noble Grand of an Odd Fellows Lodge in the state of Washington — and my lodge used to come down to Portland from time to time to take part in conferring the degrees. The ritual’s good, and they have a long and very impressive history of mutual aid. As for using rules of order and proper lodge methods, of course I did — it made for short business meetings in which everyone got a chance to speak, nobody hogged the limelight, all the business got done, and we could proceed to the entertainment and the coffee and cookies hour.
Anonymous, funny! Thank you.
Yorkshire, of course! Those that don’t require humans to change, though, require the rest of the universe to change.
Balowulf, it’s partly that, and partly a matter of emotional commitment. When you have children, biological hard wiring means that you tend to put their well-being ahead of everything else — and that’s fatal to a monastery. Sexual relationships are almost as problematic, since people tend to put those relationships ahead of most other concerns. To make a monastery work everyone has to put the work of the monastery ahead of everything else, and excluding sexuality is an important element of that.
CS2, if you want one, you’d better get to work building it now…
DFC, of course! Those verses have inspired countless Christian socialist experiments down through the years, monastic and otherwise. As for the Rubicon, well, we’ll see.
Elodie, well, Hitler explained in great detail in Mein Kampf what he had in mind, and then did it. The Great Reset still looks like a phalanstery to me.
Stephen, what’s happening already in response to online censorship is that people who object to the mental monoculture of the corporate mass and social media are making beelines for venues where they can speak freely. Since there’s always someone ready to make a quick buck in the US, such venues are not hard to find — thus the exodus from Twitter to Parler, for example. As for me, why do you think I ditched a blog on the Blogger platform (owned by Google) and opened a new one on a platform that I pay for, which is hosted by a small private firm?
Russell, fascinating. I’ll have to read Israel one of these days.
VW, you know, I could see it!
Nachtgurke, I’ve seen this in action way too often. Most of the people who idealize a nomadic life have no clue how much skill and hard work it takes to live that way.
Lathechuck, an excellent point! And your comments about would-be communards are of course spot on.
In reading this I got a “gather round kids while I tell you a tale of yore” vibe and I giggled every time anti-lions was read.
I just researched the history of child adoption for my podcast. The most fascinating part to me was that adoption records were fairly accessible prior to the 1980’s. It wasn’t until the federal Child Abuse and Protection Act of 1974 which mandated state’s set up department to evaluate parental fitness and possible child abuse that files got sealed. There was a series of federal laws from 1974-1992 that enacted more and control over families and parental rights. The feds passed that enforcement to states of course. Anyway adoptees were forbidden from ever seeing their original birth certificate until just the last few years in my state.
I hadn’t realized the heavy handedness of government wrapped up in “keeping children safe” came bearing down hard in only the last 45 years or so. The same heavy hand is being used today “to keep everyone safe.” No one can speak against safety, right? I mean, what are you trying to do, get people killed?
It’s sneaky way to get to those lemonade oceans With each generation they impose more restrictions and ideal order, and viola they get their perfection within a 100 years or so.
I gotta admit, I’m just loving the visions of heaven that people come up with. I’ve heard the orgitastic sex one plenty of times, but I gotta admit the orgitastic sex and OCEANS OF LEMONADE is one I’ve never heard before.
Given that they didn’t have LSD back in the 1700s, what was Fourier’s excuse? Maybe he discovered some funny looking mushrooms in the forest?
Funnily enough, in just the last few weeks I’ve heard essentially the same message said about our current predicaments and which reminds me of Fourier as you’ve described him – we need a moral awakening or revolution. If all the people just decided to pursue truth and beauty, everything would be great. Which is, of course, true by definition. The question is how to make it happen.
I think it was Thucydides who said – “We do not rise to the level of our aspirations. We fall to the level of our training.”
JMG, My wife and I are in the midst of setting up a non-profit in an impoverished area. Your comment about societies working best that are set up based on vices instead of virtues left me wishing for more explanation. Also, we are trying to figure out how best to set up a NGO that teaches one to fish instead of feeding for a day. Somehow these are related and I feel like the clear solution is evading me. I would appreciate anything you and the others here have to say in regards to how to organize a group motivated by vices that teaches them/us to fish during this long descent.
For those interested, the Rise and Fall of Free Software is case study of what has gone right and wrong with common good projects and utopic dreams.
In the briefest form… the Free Software movement, headed by Richard M. Stallman and started in the 1980s, claims that computer users ought to be free of knowing and modifying what their computers do, and to share that knowledge and changes with other users. They gathered a following of incredibly talented engineers and rebuilt many commercial software into free (as in speech) versions.
In the 1990s a dissident branch lead by Eric S. Raymond, launched a parallel movement, the Open Source. Their premise was that as long as the software’s source code was shared, many of the same benefits as the Free Software could be achieved while at the same time not alienating “potential allies”, in the form of corporate benefactors.
The reason this projects have had only moderate success is that the proportion of free loaders (of which I confess being one) in the community is staggering. Both ideologies assumed that techies would flock to them, devote a fraction of their free time into making their systems better. What actually happened is that a river of people that wanted free software (as in beer) came knocking at their doors, while only a tickle of those gave back something… mostly in the form of donations for the actual contributors to make a modest living (much bellow the levels their incredible talent would allow if they had been swords for hire).
This is where the Open Source movement gained their edge. Having corporate allies allows them access to “contributors for hire” with their corporate funding. Those engineers can be had on a budget (the work is prestigious, and many are willing to take a pay cut in order to get a chance to play with their stars and still get a wage), and their presence allows the sponsor to nudge the software into forms that better serves their needs. It could be said that the current generation of Tech giants (Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc) got built on top of the Open Source movement, which allowed them to escape from under the heel of the old-timers (Microsoft, IBM, Oracle, etc).
As for the community, it saddens me that the inflow of unearned wealth that overflowed the Industry during the Dot Com bubbles 1.0, 2.0 and beyond have made our people… complacent? They work hard, and nowadays “it is a must” to have some side project or another, but these are all commercial, or at least monetizable , applications. Nobody wants to hack at these grand pieces of infrastructure, even if we all benefit from them.
Latin correction….”hominibus” actually means “all people.” “Hominos” == people. “viros” = male people. However, in Old and Early Middle English, “men” meant “all people,” as in “there was but one pair of men in the Garden of Eden.” Well, you know what picture that would bring to mind today! It was the modern era that solidified the equation of “men” with “male people”.
Yes, I think some great stuff could be done with the Grange or a similar organization in urban areas. Obviously, urban areas tend to have plenty of (or at least enough) people interested in gardening, local food, urban agriculture, sustainability . . . I feel like there are many openings there. And funny you mention the bit about imagining new fraternal organizations in stories–just such a germ of an idea has been bouncing around in my head for a deindustrial science fiction story set in the not-too-distant, economically depressed future, in an urban area with a female lead who is head of or involved with or the founder of a fraternal organization, possibly with some interweaving of Roman mythology/symbolism/deities (which if you take a look at the various officer positions in the Grange, you’ll find some Roman deities in the names!). I’m not yet sure if it will come to full fruition, but I’m continuing to think on it.
I spoke with the Oregon State Grange President shortly ago and it sounds like there are no defunct Grange halls particularly near me, though she was delighted to hear of my interest. She did mention that there are some urban chapters across the country that have formed without Grange Halls, and simply find a suitable place to rent, and she thought that could be an option. So I have some possibilities to mull.
Thanks for the info on the Odd Fellows. I have been meaning to check them out, and will look up some more information on what they’re doing here in Portland.
I’m getting a kick out of thinking about ant lions. They feature in a book that my parents read to me as a kid https://www.antlionpit.com/jansson.html and are apparently a real class of insect https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antlion.
Maybe I’ll start supporting Biden if he promises us anti-lions in America 🙂 (just kidding)
>A question for everyone. Imagine whatever you would consider the most minimal, bare bones utopia, but still worthy of that name. What specific things would humans have to be able to do consistently to make it work?
This video sort of touches on what I’m going to write. They tried to find the perfect spaghetti sauce and failed. Instead they found 3 different spaghetti sauces that people considered perfect.
Perhaps, just maybe, there’s no one-size-fits-all society that pleases everyone? Perhaps every group of people makes tradeoffs? In order to get something, you must give up something else?
And you see that everywhere. The Amish have made a peculiar series of tradeoffs and they seem to like it and it seems to work for them but there are a lot of people that would be deeply unhappy living the way they do. Would you mandate everyone live like the Amish?
The people in the big cities live yet another way with another set of tradeoffs and they seem to like it (although I do wonder how sustainable it is) and although the city dwellers seem to want to mandate everyone live as they do, there are a lot of people that are deeply unhappy with the prospect.
Don’t *make* something work, that was the path that led to the Soviet Union and all the millions lying dead. Maybe try taking something that already works and seeing if you can modify it to suit your tastes and then seeing if you can convince anyone else to try it too.
What is it with people and the urge to find the One True Way?
I am thoroughly enjoying this recent unexpected detour that you have been taking, JMG. For better or worse, I will never look at a glass of lemonade the same way. However, I think that you are being a little harsh on Monsieur Fourier: at least you’ve got to give him some marks for creativity. I mean, lemonade oceans – ain’t nothin’ like that in any religious millennarian vision that I’ve ever come across!
Your comment to Rita got me thinking. No doubt you are familiar with the Indian historical figure Chanakya, who established the Mauryan Empire. By all accounts, the man was a political and economic genius. But he seems to have “jumped the shark” when he decided to try his hand as urban planner. If memory serves me correctly, he designed the capitol of the Mauryan Empire – the city of Magadha – which had entirely separate sections for each caste. About four-hundred years later, Chinese Buddhist monks on pilgrimage to Bodh-Gaya in India passed through the legendary city of Magadha and found it to be a depopulated wasteland. I like your statement that social systems work best that rely on vices rather than virtues: it never occurred to me before, but it makes a whole lot of sense.
And your revision to Lucy in the Sky really cracked me up. Now I can’t get it out of my mind’s ear, complete with John Lennon’s nasal-y vocals.
Thank you for another enlightening article. Honestly, I have never heard about Charles Fourier apart from his occasional appearances in your work – but perhaps that is to be expected in a world where selling people on socialism requires blotting out its past. I suppose that if secular millenarianism was an inevitable product of late-stage Western civilization (as Spengler’s theory suggests) then I can’t really regret that a man like Fourier was around at the time to give it such a colorful beginning!
Communitarianism has an interesting place in Mormon history: Joseph Smith tried it for a few years at the beginning of his career, then abandoned it as his church grew (for religious visionaries, he had a strong pragmatic streak). Brigham Young was also fairly pragmatic and, once firmly based in Utah, managed to mix public and private ownership in about the right proportions for his growing community. The upshot nowadays is that the LDS Church owns a surprisingly large number and variety of corporations, descended from the various church-owned collective enterprises in pioneer Utah.
Also, Mormonism is one of those Magian religions you talk about sometimes, the ones that always claim to be a restoration of the One True Faith that has never really changed since the beginning of the world, but is very often being obscured/lost by the sinfulness of mankind. So Joseph Smith and the other Mormon leaders couldn’t simply say, “too much collectivism was a mistake; let’s not do that anymore.” Rather, they had to present the shift to private property as a matter God giving the Mormons a “lesser law” to live by after their failure to live the “higher law,” which higher law will still be restored at some point in the future.
So it is common for Mormons to ask themselves and each other whether they have enough faith to give up all their private property if the command to “fully live the Law of Consecration” ever comes down from the authorities of the church, even though, nearly two centuries down the road, the authorities have never seen fit to give that command. (At least, that’s the experience of the main Mormon church. There are a lot of small Mormon sects – mostly polygamous – who live in agricultural communes in Utah, the other mountain states, and northern Mexico).
With respect to the “mirror” image up above, I came across this the other day:
“Your fellow is your mirror. If your own face is clean, so will be the image you perceive. But should you look upon your fellow and see a blemish, it is your own imperfection that you are encountering – you are being shown what it is that you must correct within yourself.”
Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer (the Baal Shem Tov) d. 1760
I also thought of The Farm when I read this week’s excellent essay. I spent a few days there in the mid-1970s. As I recall, some of the members did have jobs in nearby towns.
In American Commune, a 2013 documentary by two sisters who were raised there, Stephen was interviewed at his home on the Farm, where he remained until his death in 2014. The saddest part of the film, for me, was seeing him watching TV, what he called his “sci-fi soap opera:” reruns of Battlestar Galactica.
You raised a question that has been coming into focus for me too, about human nature. Can it change, and how are the changes accomplished?
“Not by way of the myth of progress,” writes Loren Eisley, for “each individual man possesses his own soul, and by that light must live or perish. There is no way by which Utopias — or the lost Garden itself — can brought out of the future and presented to man. Neither can he go forward to such a destiny. Since in the world of time every man lives but one life, it is in himself that he must search for the secret of the Garden.” Loren Eiseley, The Firmament of Time, 1962; quoted in Joseph Campbell, The Masks of God: Creative Mythology, 1968.
Except for the “but one life” part, I think that says it well.
It was indeed Groucho who said that, and (IIRC) he said it live on TV back in the small-screen black-and-white days around 1950. (Nostalgia-tripping now …)
One should recall that monastic movements also go through stages. You start with tough, devoted pioneers who flee the collapse of their civilization, find unsettled or abandoned land; scratch together a church, a dormitory and a refractory; and spend their lives in the labor to support their establishment and in sincere prayer and ritual . But generations later the surrounding civilization is on the rebound. The monastery has become the dumping ground for bookish or sickly or surplus sons or homely daughters, surrounding landowners donate land or money as an insurance policy for their souls and the abbot is part of the gentry. Monks and nuns without a true vocation turn to luxurious living and scandal as we see in medieval literature (Chaucer for example). The donated land is being worked by serfs and the monks are part of the establishment rather than a rebellion against it. There may be one or a series of reform movements but eventually societal resentment of people who don’t have to work will give an ambitious king an excuse to loot these centers of accumulated wealth–Henry VIII being the example most English and Americans will be most familiar with.
In Tibet, the Buddhist monasteries ruled the nation in a feudalistic theocracy. Many Chinese feel that the PRC rescued the serfs from a system in which they were unable to own land or to leave the land to which they belonged or even to marry someone from another manor without permission. I have also encountered a description of the ldab ldob: monks who were part of the monastery, fought, trained and competed in sports, served as police and enforcers and were known to kidnap boys and men for sexual abuse. (‘A Study of the Ldab Ldob‘. Melyvn C. Goldstein. Central Asiatic Journal.1964) (Google “Punk Monks of Tibet for more)
In any case, powerless monks on the fringe of a society may be an ideal of communal effort, powerful monks in charge of a society or a large portion of its assets show a tendency to become parasitic.
I have heard that Celtic monasteries permitted families. Anyone know how well this worked out or was the experiment wiped out by the Roman Church too early to tell?
Dear Stephen D,
I share your concerns about (corporate) online censorship, which has risen to levels in the last year that I would have never imagined — and I am not even, and never have been, involved with any so-called “social media” such as Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Just today, I was permanently banned from the comments section of my local online newspaper (The Anchorage Daily Spews, er, News). Not for any uncivil comments or words towards any other posters, but for the crime — and yes, they stated this directly — of “questioning the wisdom and efficacy of public mask wearing”. For having had the temerity to question the official orthodoxy, and engage in COVID-related heresy, I have been metaphorically burned at the stake. This, after having been a poster there for many years.
Needless to say, I found this to be an utterly outrageous and contemptible action, and felt quite free to tell the publisher, owner and editor of the newspaper exactly that in a very strongly worded (but still civil) email. But how does one fight this kind of thing?
What really galls me is that by censoring and banning posters with dissenting views, they are not only thereby creating a shallow echo chamber of opinion, but more insidiously, creating an apparent false consensus, wherein it will appear to casual readers that EVERYONE, of course, believes the official line, and so if any individual does not, they will feel as if they are unique in their unorthodox beliefs, or at best part of a tiny minority, when in fact their opinions may be held by a majority of the broader population.
TJ, no, it was two hundred years before Fourier’s time!
LOL, yes, I apparently wasn’t paying attention to the dates…
I noticed in your response to Tony that you expect the India/China region to go back to being the wealthiest in the world after the Long Descent clears away the trappings of Euro-American dominance. This comes as a bit of a surprise to me – I had assumed that with climate change, you would expect the most productive agriculture regions to shift northward (and the wealthiest civilizations to shift with them).
India, especially, seems like it is going to get hammered (I recall a passage in Marco Polo where he talks about seeing towns where everybody has to run to the river and immerse themselves up to the necks during heat waves – that sort of thing is probably going to get a lot more common). At the same time, there will be huge amounts of new land opening up in Russia, Siberia, Canada, Alaska, etc. (Alaska alone has a bigger land area than the whole core homeland of Faustian civilization: England and France plus the Low Countries – it would be delightful to see what high culture it pups during the coming millennium!)
One of the sci-fi projects I have worked on off and on is set in about the year 3000; the premise is that a dark age was followed by the emergence of a wildly diverse array of new cultures with a mashup of ecotechnic, steampunk, and golden-age-scifi technology (fossil fuels are a distant memory, most people travel by rail over land and by dirigible over water, astronauts have explored much of the solar system but nobody entertains hopes of building self-sustaining colonies anywhere beyond Earth).
Anyway, the reason I mention this is because I decided to have the largest empire in this world be based in Siberia east of the (much-lengthened) Ob Bay, with the sparse Russian/Tatar population long since displaced by huge numbers of migrants fleeing climate catastrophe in India, Pakistan, and China. During the winding-down days of the volkerwandurung, a Russian Tsar modeled on Justinian arises and reconquers Siberia, but his heirs lose it again after a century or two, and the resulting enmity between Russia and the new Siberian nation is central to this world’s international politics.
Do you think that this at all a realistic speculation as to the questions of (a) what will happen to Siberia in the de-industrial future and (b) which part of the world will be situated to supported the largest/wealthiest population after climate change?
I wonder if part of the optimism behind this “Great Reset” is a belief that Imperial America can extend its lifespan either by increasing the efficiency of renewables or by the belief that peak oil is somehow rendered irrelevant or a more far off concern because of the increase in oil production in the US over the last decade. I did some looking into that and although peak oil will obviously come eventually, could the recent increase in US oil production perhaps delay the decline of industrial civilisation or are there other factors that make that a moot point?
Modern capitalism is only sustained through trillions in government funding, so there is no serious question as to whether an economic or social movement should have taxpayer backing, there’s only the question of who gets it.
I wouldn’t call it “modern” as much as “late stage”.
Don’t fund any movement, simply let the people keep their money and spend it as they see fit. That’s the essence of liberty, and actually one of the foremost expressions of democracy — every dollar spent is a vote for a specific product or service.
The real villains of corporatocracy are the monopolies, and they dominate these days by virtue of government, not in spite of it.
adwelly – regarding those Doverian cliffs,
Consider for your perusal .. that through All that fizzing and bubbling, mollusks the globe over, will have once again found their spine!
The Aboreal Octopus will regain supreme!
Ah-HAH! For years I’ve been reading about the great Masonic conspiracy, and now JMG has led it slip! They deliberately hurry through meetings so they get to the cookies quicker! My God, man, have you no sense of the sacred? Don’t you know that Meetings are the second most solemn ceremony of the great god Corporatism, and no meeting for any purpose should EVER be rushed?
JMG, I know TV bothers you, but if you can stand 20 minutes or so of flickering images, you really should watch the “Stonecutters “ episode of the Simpsons. The humor ‘s mostly verbal, so you could even face away from the screen and listen and laugh.
Before I respond to specific comments on this thread, I have to bring up Exhibit A of the Deindustrial Now. Who else in Druid Land read the news of the Arecibo Observatory’s telescope collapse and thought, hmm? It’ll be a while before a regime is stable and powerful enough to attempt to rebuild it…
It would be like building a cathedral on top of an older pagan temple, but how will our purposes for observing the stars have changed by then? Will the master masons/scientific engineers of the future marvel at the faux megalithic concrete of the dish structure and wonder what other magical feats of technology we ancients were capable of at some point in their distant past?
The wailing, ashes and sackcloth, gnashing of teeth and rending of garments in the astronomy world as a result is along the lines of what our host has predicted, so have hope that some science survives in our ability to see events such as this one as field observations to support his theory.
@Darkest Yorkshire- your dream sounds like a futuristic technological Pentecost! Chiliastic ideas are not the only borrowings of secular minds from the deep archetypes relayed by Christian history.
@Lauren- you sound like you’re new here, so welcome! Your question can be answered by a review of the host’s previously published materials. Upon doing so, you may get a sense for his reluctance to engage in the sort of sophistry you’re requesting.
Please allow me to bring you up to speed with a sample deindustrial action plan: 1. plant a garden, 2. learn some skills, 3. brace for impact. There is no big glorious future vision offered here to delude ourselves with, just the reality that we will all die anyway, and anyway that’s not the end. So we might as well have fun learning things while we’re here on Earth and do the best we can in the meantime. That’s all.
@Rita Rippletoe- for an excellent update on the Farm commune, look for the C-Realm podcast, which was in residence there many years ago. KMO, the host of the podcast, explored issues of collapse and spent time talking to the residents to understand how the commune had evolved and adapted over time for survival, and what it planned for the uncertain future. Might be time to reach out to KMO online and ask for an update…
Also, regarding Lamarck, he was right about one thing- immunity is an acquired characteristic that can be inherited. Some immunologists have been all over this for decades, although it’s a politicized field that struggles with industrial corruption by pharmaceutical interests and generally entrenched academic opinions in other departments. However, check out a book called “Lamarck’s Signature” by a few authors in the field who make some important points, which might be relevant to current events.
It turns out that the Central Dogma of modern biology was a shotgun marriage of classic Darwinism and Mendelian genetics at the outset of the 20th Century that invented concepts like the Weismann barrier to explain how molecular biology could support such an arrangement. This paradigm has dissolved behind the scenes because these ideas don’t hold up under scrutiny from modern technologies of observation in the laboratory.
However, there is a lot of resistance to questioning the Dogma in the academy because it is practically a tenet of the secular faith in evolution as Progress. Thus you get a lot of absurd demands for “extraordinary” evidence- and there is plenty of it, depending on one’s opinion about the facts- since the white lab-coated priesthood deems any such a heresy to be an “extraordinary claim.” Never mind how sensitive official immunology is to the medical establishment… but there you are. I’ll leave it at that for now, because it leads to another hot-button topic unrelated to this week’s theme.
Lest you consider me a heretic for doubting St. Darwin, I should mention that some of Chuck’s less-well-known ideas are staging a comeback in biogeochemistry, so there’s no reason to throw that Baby Jesus out with the bathwater! Like the Nazarene, he’s always worth a read, but it pays to be wary of his followers.
Finally, “Hakim Bey” or Peter Lamborn Wilson. I’m grateful that discovering his distasteful sexual tastes provided a natural limit to the fantasy of anarchism in my own research. Thank you to the commentariat and our host for making sure that warning label was attached to his citation. One should also be warned that Pirate Utopias are full of pirates, so in reality they’re more like wretched hives of scum and villainy. The kind of place where unsavory predators hang out. *wink wink*
I’ll leave you with the humorous anecdote of how I came to find Bey’s texts in the legendary anarchist library of Santa Cruz. When I discovered the trove, it was housed in back of the Wiccan book store, until they tired of the mess of books that was never cleaned up. Eventually, it moved to the New Age book store, where they despaired of the unsavory characters that the library attracted. Last I heard, and this was many years ago, it had joined the Sufi library… where I don’t recommend leaving children unattended.
Social utopian arrangements are highly temporal zones. Like the Sufis say: when the work is finished, the workshop is dismantled.
Thank you, David, for that long exposition of medieval theology! You helped me make sense of why Dante condemned the spendthrifts (Canto VII of the Inferno) – their money was not truly theirs to spend, it was their family’s (or community’s).
@CR Patiño No argument here. Superficially it makes sense, it’s just the consequences (which I detailed in the prior post) that could be devastating if the vaccine causes more problems than it solves -OR- if the healthcare workers rebel in significant numbers.
Great essay, John! I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes: “All children are socialists; they take more than they make. Most adult socialists are still children — the rest are vampires.” -S Rudex
Denis, the same thing is true in a lot of other fields. It was in the 1980s that the regulatory state really started to tighten its grip.
Varun, Hindu myth has an ocean of milk, so I figure that Fourier had to do something for the lactose-intolerant… 😉
Simon, remember that the only thing LSD does is activate capacities that are already present in your brain. I lost what little interest I had in psychedelics when I found that I could get places just as strange without benefit of chemicals. As for a moral awakening, notice that everyone assumes that people would pursue the same truth and the same beauty! Not so; if everyone started to pursue truth and beauty, they’d very quickly start fighting over what is true and what is beautiful, and the body count would be horrific.
Clark, you’re going to need to set aside the metaphors for a moment. What exactly, in so many words, are you trying to do? And what are you and your wife hoping to get out of it?
CR, thanks for this! That makes perfect sense.
Patricia M, a good point!
Joel, I just checked the IOOF Grand Lodge of Oregon site, and Peninsula Lodge #128 is still apparently thriving up on North Lombard Street. You can find them online at http://www.keepportlandodd.com. I have a lot of good memories around that group and their hall!
Ron, bad urban planning is a common vice of emperors! The thing about vices isn’t original to me — there were a whole sequence of thinkers in the Renaissance who explored that. Machiavelli was one, on the political end of the tradition. Adam Smith drew on that tradition for The Wealth of Nations; it’s not often remembered that by training, he was a moral philosopher.
Wesley, interesting. I didn’t know that about Mormonism, but it doesn’t surprise me — a lot of Christian offshoots tried apostolic socialism early on, only to discover just how badly it works in practice.
Someone, thank you for this.
Robert, there’s also a poem by Ogden Nash called, as I recall, “The Very Unclubbable Man,” in which he notes that he doesn’t belong to anything. If you’ve got Groucho and Nash on your side, fear nothing. 😉
Rita, that’s an excellent point, As far as I know, we don’t know enough about the married monks and hereditary abbots of the Celtic country to be able to say much more than that they existed, but I’m prepared to be wrong.
Wesley, one of the great flaws of contemporary climate modeling is that it tends to assume that every part of the world will have the same temperature increase. Not so; paleoclimatic models suggest that temperatures will rise only modestly in tropical areas, but will soar around the poles. In the long run — as in, after the ice caps melt — I expect the shores of the Arctic Ocean to be a major center of culture and civilization; I figured Tony was asking about the short to middle term, and in that frame, I expect east and south Asia to do very well.
Mr White, we’re already well into decline, and the recent increase in US oil production is temporary. Once again, as we did in the 1980s, we’re ripping through irreplaceable resources to prolong our current habits of consumption for a little longer. This will not end well.
Your Kittenship, oh, I know, we’re very sinister indeed. We don’t even rush through meetings — we just do them efficiently, with a minimum of grandstanding, and have committees take care of most of the grunt work. Any discussion? All in favor vote by the usual sign; closed, same sign; passed, and so ordered. Brother secretary, anything else on your desk?
As for the Simpsons episode, every Freemason I’ve ever met who’s younger than about fifty knows the Stonecutters’ Song by heart. I’m not in that category, but I know it.
Malleus, I heard about the Arecibo collapse, and will be talking about it in an upcoming essay. I can think of no better piece of evidence that we’re sliding down the chute much more quickly than anyone wants to admit. As for Wilson and pirate “utopias,” of course — and the other thing to note is that those “utopias,” like most of the gimmicks Wilson promotes, are parasitic in nature: they don’t produce anything of value, they just take value from others.
Gnat, a fine summary. Thank you!
An admirable post over all, but I think that by limiting yourself to your own personal experience, you have sold the commune/group living/intentional community movement short. Yes, the vast majority of these groups did and do fail. Therefore, statistically, the experience of any one individual who is not engaged in a serious search for successful groups will be only with groups that fail.
For much of the 1990s, I was engaged in exactly that search. My essential resource was the Intentional Communities Directory produced by the Foundation for Intentional Community, now online, then in the form of a large book, updated about every five years. By selecting only the largest groups that had existed the longest, with an environmentalist focus, I was able to find several secular groups that had been founded before 1980 and were still thriving. Some of them are still in the Directory today.
Around the same time, two friends of mine came into some money and decided to start one of their own. Doing some research before they leaped, they found an academic study of intentional communities that had correlated success with three factors, of which a group only needed to have two. They are:
1. A unifying philosophy and set of values, which might or might not be religious.
2. A practice of networking with other intentional communities.
3. A charismatic leader.
One thing the study didn’t mention but which seemed to be common knowledge at the larger communities I visited was Dunbar’s Number, and the finding that, in groups smaller than Dunbar’s Number, the honor system works well and people can be trusted, but when the group gets bigger than that, people begin to look on the community as a large, impersonal authority that they can cheat and mislead without any qualms of conscience. All the biggest groups I visited were aware of this finding and had chosen to cap their membership at a size well below Dunbar’s Number.
I think you’d like the Foundation’s website. In addition to the directory and a “classified ad” section, it has many years of resources on practical issues faced by communities, from Joreen’s classic essay, “The Tyranny of Structurelessness” to an article on community responses to COVID 19.
What specific things would humans have to be able to do consistently to make it work?
The ability to let go of and not desire interpersonal drama. In my experience there’s nothing like “smooth sailing” to kick start an internal drive to pull everything apart. YMMV
Ian, I appreciated your post:
“The people pushing this are hard core corporatists who want to turn everything into a rental stream….”
“I’m actually a left-winger…That’s the problem with a two-toned model of the world: Right and Left. “
—You might have tripped yourself up there? What is your definition of socialism? Might that be part of the difficulty?
Please read this with the touch of sarcasm it is intended to be said with..
But the man is frankly a prophet! Modern industrial society has caused global warming, which will result in more area capable of producing citrus fruits. As we further develop in harmony, and produce based on our passion, we’ll eventually be surrounded by a bunch of rotting citrus fruits that no one saw fit to harvest, ie, the ocean of lemonade.
Not so; if everyone started to pursue truth and beauty, they’d very quickly start fighting over what is true and what is beautiful, and the body count would be horrific.
I was talking with someone about the needs of a community, and I was struck by a similar thought.
If you dropped, say, a hundred people on an island with the intent of figuring out where culture comes from, their first order of business would of course be figuring out food, water, shelter, sanitation, and so on. Very quickly after that, it seems to me, they would have to come to an agreement about what is beautiful, and how they’re going to relate to the rest of the universe.
Meaning, beauty is very nearly a fundamental need of humanity, and while its absence may not have effects as immediate as starvation, the effects still exist. (And this may well have been Kunstler’s ideas on architecture percolating through my mind – it’s simply that it snapped into focus for me during the course of this conversation.)
The body count angle is the flip side of the coin – if a group of people has two different prevailing ideas over what constitutes beauty, then they’re going to kill each other or learn to live separately.
Wesley, Tony C and Bruce T — When it comes to India, I would suggest that you be very circumspect in taking what you read in NYT, WaPo, BBC and Guardian etc (even if the author is an Indian) as the whole truth. The English-speaking opinion-making class in India is confined to a few cities, and are mostly content with imitating whatever is the latest intellectual trend in Western Europe and USA. They are completely out of touch with what happens in most of the country.
For example, the Indian “Right” accepts evolution, agrees that climate change is a threat, fully supports renewables & energy-efficient public transport, and supports strong social security. This will be completely incomprehensible to a person who looks at us from the lens of the West’s notion of Left-Right, so they often just ignore this.
India’s positions on religious freedom, and immigration are shaped by our own historical experience. Instead of just adopting whatever political, economic, social constructs the developed world dictates to us, we grapple with these concepts and shape them to suit our values. For example, most of the pandemic relief was directed towards the bottom of the economic pyramid, and predictably it led to a boost in consumption and cushioned much of the pains of economic crisis. (Bet NYT, WaPo et al never said a word about this).
Is India’s system perfect? No. I doubt any system today is. But there is plenty of democratic discussion and debate about how political, economic and social systems should be shaped. The federal structure also helps the states try out different models and learn from each other.
🎼”Who decides how many votes you get?
We do! We do!
Who controls the Great Reset?
We do! Weeee….doooo!”🎼
Fourier was the man who invented modern socialism.
John Ball in the fourteenth century, and the Levellers and Diggers in the seventeenth, would beg to differ. Both were crushed, of course, which actually ties into a rather different question – how to prevent the ruling class squashing such movements like a bug. The history of socialism is a history of being stomped on.
One might also note that the experience of the Paris Commune in 1871 – which was also brutally crushed – further ensured that, eventually, authoritarian socialism would turn up on the scene. Lenin’s primary goal was winning, after all, and he was all-too aware of the Parisian experience.
Spot on and relevant. Nice!
My woodpile and stove, They comfort me. For now and in the possible winters to come.
It would seem that when the curtains been pulled back on the rainbow unicorns and pink lemonade seas of Fourier’s Cap d’Agde-esque socialism what you find is a dispirited, infertile wasteland of people working very hard at making themselves miserable. I think this parallels today’s self anointed socialists in so many ways.
Where do you see these ppl headed on a spiritual level in the next thirty years?
Black Tuna and Hand
As a follow up on the question of how human character changes I will mention a book about how cultures change. _The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen_ by Kwame Anthony Appiah. Appiah chooses three major changes in moral assumptions: the disappearance of dueling in Western Europe, the end of foot binding in China and the end of the assumption that slavery is right and natural. With dueling, the practice had been deplored by Christian leaders and banned by many legal codes, yet it was defended by many, practiced by many and at the beginning of the 19th century no one anticipated its demise. Yet by mid-century it was almost entirely eliminated among the very classes that had embraced it for centuries. Similarly, foot binding in China had spread from the very upper classes to almost every ambitious family for it was key to the prospect of a daughter being wed or taken as a concubine by a wealthy man, with the advantages that would give her family. Yet it too disappeared within a generation. Slavery, of course, was of even longer standing, and I don’t recall whether Appiah gives due notice to the fact that it is not truly ended (and probably never will be IMO). Yet it is no longer approved of or defended. As we know, the struggle to eliminate the slave trade seemed long and difficult–yet compared to the duration of the practice it was amazingly quick. I won’t try to summarize Appiah’s work–I just recommend the book.
Re: Groucho Marx’s quip “I would never join a club that would have me as a member”.
IIRC, this was Groucho’s clever, tactful comment on the anti-Jewish bigotry of the era (he was Jewish). A great many clubs explicitly refused to accept Jews as members. But Groucho’s fame and prestige were such that at least one club was willing to make an exception to the ‘No Jews Allowed’ rule, and invite him in. Groucho would have none of it.
For some reason I believe you mentioned Fourier a number of times back in the days of the ADR. I’m in agreement with Simon S – that guy must have found some bad mushrooms in the woods, or the local farmer’s market had a special on edible hemp.
As for the Great Reset, it apparently was first referenced by Christine Lagarde at an IMF event 5 or 6 years ago. I first heard about last winter, as one of the dark corners of the internet I frequent had a poster who linked the website with the onset of the COVID pandemic, and thought they were related. Can’t say as I’d argue with that.
The Great Reset may take many forms, with the reality of overshoot and the artificial constructs of politics and business to deal with the predicament. But one potential benefit would be “pulling forward” the migration to lower standards of living, and lower carbon footprints, and jump starting the process. You mentioned the study done on how the U.S. could convert to alternative energy sources, and how far behind (decades) the schedule we are for a smooth transition. Maybe The Great Reset will prevent a head-on crash, though of course like the Titanic, a glancing blow will eventually lead to the same outcome…
Speaking of long descent-the Aricebo Radio Telescope has collapsed; whether it gets rebuilt is good indicator of where we are on the stair steps down…
You don’t abolish the private property. That would be too brutal and dictatorial. You *phase out* the private property.
If you’ve played video games, you probably have seen this in miniature scale. Before, we used to purchase and download discs. Through some gradual process, more people wound up signing up with some service company such as Steam, to download and play our games through them. And slowly but surely, publisher by publisher and studio by studio falls in line to sell through them, offering “Games as a Service”. Then, once day, you find that there are no longer any discs to buy and use in order to install the game program without their involvement. It comes with the “benefit” that, Any day now, any of the games that you had brought could be suddenly removed without so much as a refund.
What a fascinating essay! I’ll have to pass it on to my socialist friends…
One question though: are there any links between Fourier, socialism and sionism with its kiboutzim system. It seems they have something in common.
I wonder if there was a highly advanced civilization at the end of the Permian that managed to implement Fourier’s ideas successfully.
Speaking from the country where socialism was born, I concur the every word of this essay. You may know that one phalanstery still exists today (at least the buildings, the society indeed collapsed a few years after its inception) in France and is now considered a monument of interest and deemed for conservation (Familistère de Guise). The patron who made this possible and gave Fourier money was Godin, an cast-iron stoves manufacturer whose brand name still exists today (I used to own one for that matter). He was influenced by Fourier’s ideas but realized soon the guy was a complete loon and he turned the Familistère into a worker managed cooperative along the principles of anarcho-syndicalism.
Reading some comments from my fellow followers, I guess socialism is a matter of debate on your side of the ocean. Here, quite not. Our socialist party is defunct, having embraced our own brew of wokish ideas. What’s left are some patriotic social-democrats like me, some genuine union workers and a few vocal opponents to centrism/globalism which aren’t all left-leaned. Some of our ideas like industrial strategic planification, soft barriers to global trade and investment into infrastructure maintenance are just starting to appeal again.
Regarding the doom of phalanstery, it’s a joke from history that two individuals sporting the same name, Fourier, had such a different vision of how things evolve, the Fourier who studied heat propagation clearly paved the way toward the second principle of thermodynamics and the one you described should really have studied a little bit of physics from his time.
I know you asked JMG, but as an Indian living in India, I just wanted to add to what JMG said in his reply to you.
Yes, our economy is growing (although at the moment, it’s in a bit of trouble) and will continue to grow for a few more years as well. As our per capita energy (and that’s true of material resources as well) consumption is low, I mean, REALLY low as compared to the West (particularly North Americans), I think we will be able to deal with the Long Descent relatively better than say, the US.
It’s true that for most people in India, climate change is not a pressing issue. That said, we are far more concerned with water problems (droughts have become more frequent because of climate change), so you will still see the average Indian occasionally talk about how the weather is behaving strangely, rivers have dried up, etc. Generally speaking, climate change is not a controversial topic in India the way it is in the US, with both the Left and the Right agreeing that anthropogenic climate change is real. The difference is only in the responses, with the Left engaging in handwaving and virtue signalling, and the Right coming up with arguments like ‘First we’ll develop by building nuclear power plants, etc. and after we’ve achieved a Western style of consumption per capita, we’ll deal with climate change and other environmental problems’.
You wrote – Quote: “Then there was the evolution of socialism as a political movement seeking large-scale solutions. That was an extremely creative and diverse movement until the Cold War flattened it out into a Hobson’s choice between totalitarian Communism and corporate capitalism….”
I find it so interesting that so many, from so many political camps, just cannot get their heads around how dangerous any immense and powerful organization is to have around. Be it governmental or business in nature. You would think that the current extinction level event for small business would trigger some kind of populist backlash. But it hasn’t yet and I’m not sure it ever will.
Shame, that. I personally believe that a well grounded policy program aimed at making life more tenable for small businesses would be a great thing. I have to admit that I don’t know how that happens without anti-trust action with teeth and somehow, someway, getting health care costs out of the stratosphere. But like with so many much needed policy changes we are hemmed in by those hiding hostility behind a veil of feigned ineptitude.
It’s like we as a nation are surrounded by policy cul-de-sacs. :p
Ah yes – Machiavelli. I read The Prince in 1st year Uni (Renaissance Humanities course) but its message of “ideals be damned – get down and dirty if you want to win” strongly conflicted with the high ideals that I held oh-so-dear at that age (the humanism of Erasmus was much more to my liking). Now that I am old and grumpy, I acknowledge the truth of Machiavelli’s teachings – and that’s one of the main reasons that I keep as far away as possible from politicians and people of their ilk. I’d rather hang out with Tolstoy’s “Ivan the Fool”. Interesting fact about Adam Smith!
Justin, interestingly artist and proto-hippy communes were the last vestiges of the early idealistic phase of the Russian Revolution still standing in the late 1920s. Stalin finished them off sharpish after that though.
Owen, so you’re saying there needs to be an ocean of lemonade, an ocean of apple schnapps, and an ocean of old-style Sunny Delight (I miss that so much – so bad for you but tasted so good). 🙂 But seriously you’ll get no argument from me that utopias need variety. The way I learned it was revolution may require a massive focus of effort onto a single point, however once your position is secure everyone can go their own way. Even the most high-minded spiritual utopia should have a part of town Marc MacYoung calls the Boomtown, the kind of place Iceberg Slim’s books are mostly set. You also need a gladiatorial arena where people who like that sort of thing can fight to the death with other consenting adults. But scanning my shelf of utopian novels I take your point that they don’t do a good job of showing that. And now I think of it, the utopian architects were even worse. The urbanists, mega-urbanists, disurbanists, proponents of linear cities – all hated each other. Despite them not even competing over the same land – there was plenty of room to try out all their ideas and people could have gone wherever they liked best.
Malleus, after I posted I thought it sounded like the Tower of Babel in reverse. If that happens it means you just got the nod from something very powerful. 🙂
Sometimes in these discussions here and elsewhere I get the impression people are asking you (metaphorically) “John, would you prefer chicken or steak for dinner? And can you explain why you want that and why you think I should eat that too?” And then your response is, “I’m going to create a meal from what’s in my pantry and if you’d like to join me, you’re welcome to or you can make whatever you wish.” To which people say “Why there is no need to get disagreeable! I was just asking a question!”
This is both amusing and disturbing to me at the same time. Are we so well schooled in seeking one correct answer that must apply to everyone that we can’t live and let live any longer?
@Clark Just give people cash and access to capital and let them do it for themselves. I say this as someone with 30 years in non-profit work.
Lenin may not have been consciously thinking about that level of repression, but the rot had already set in. Back at the 1903 conference where the Bolsheviks split from the Mensheviks, Lenin was already saying the factory system was necessary to discipline the proletariat. Not sure the time period but Trotsky also said ‘man is by nature a lazy animal’. This wasn’t going anywhere good.
After the revolution the most militant workers set up Factory Committees to run industry themselves. Predictably some of what they did was embarrassing, some was inspiring. Most of the worst was to do with ‘factory chauvanism’ – not understanding or not caring they were part of a suppy chain and it all needed to work. On the inspiring side, there was a severe shortage of coal and one group of workers had an original solution. Their factory was next to a landed estate with a powerful stream. They built a waterwheel and diverted the stream. This was what it was supposed to be about – working class initiative, a sustainable energy source, and an enraged landlord.
But instead of helping them do more of the good and less of the bad, the Bolsheviks resented them from the start. Even the supposedly morally superior Mensheviks were totally cpmplicit in suppressing the Factory Committees.
That’s also the problem with organising around vices instead of virtues. There’s a book from the 60s called The Human Side of Enterprise. It’s capitalism studying capitalism but comes to the conclusion there are two ways of seeing employees and people more generally. Theory X is that people are stupid, lazy, and up to no good. You’re going to have to let them feel the lash (metaphorically at least). Theory Y is that people mostly mean well and want to do a good job. And they willl if you let them. While neither is entriely true, whichever you base your organisation on, will become more so. Theory X will alienate those who were willing to be resonable, while Theory Y will win round some who were listless or had shady intent.
It’s suprising how many supposed friends of the workers recoil in horror if workers actually take power. Sidney and Beatrice Webb, leaders of the Fabian Socialists, were horrified when it looked like that was what happened in Russia. But they were cool with it once Stalin restored ‘order’. Even more disturbing is the involvement with eugenics. The Fabians, along with the likes of Bertrand Russel, HG Wells, and George Bernard Shaw actually had eugenic fantasies of gassing the London poor in Alexandra Palace. And furthermore they thought if the victims realised what was about to happen, they’d actually be grateful.
That’s where it gets truly hallucinogenic. I can see that class war socialists would have far less interest in eugenics (with the exception of Trotsky considering it a post-revolutionary possibility to breed the best of the world). I can also see that for more concilliatory socialist who think we’re all in it together, the dregs and misfits could start to look less like victims and more like they’re letting the side down. But to get from there to mass murder is stranger than anything Fourier came up with.
What reading could you suggest to learn more about democratic syndicalism?
Maybe you already knew this, but communism and socialism didn’t advocate for a complete removal of the private property, only that of the means of production. This is, land, factories, tools, … Communism attempted to remove classes, only to produce newer dominant classes. In this struggle for power we call politics, there’s always someone who dominates.
Communism failed, maybe it could not compete with Capitalism in an era of cheap energy, maybe it was its excessive focus on materialism, maybe it simply can’t work, depending on who you ask.
Socialism is still alive, at least here in Europe.
What all the commentaries and the essay has prompted me is:
– Is there really a need for one Utopia? As a species, we need to adapt to the environment and thrive if we are successful. Different environments, different people, different strategies. Trying to impose a single ideology, no matter how good it is, on everyone is just wrong. Trying to impose the same Promised Land to everyone is wrong. Each tribe needs to find its own path in life.
– Since the opposite of a bad idea is another bad idea, the opposite of complete collectivism, the absolute individualism, is just as bad. I think a society has to find the balance between collective and individual that permits the better development of its characteristics. Therefore, such extreme ideas as the monastic life can’t appeal to a whole society, but rather small groups so inclined.
– What was most enlightening for me, any model for society management that wants to perdure must consider not only what people need to survive, but also what people need to keep their spirits high. A difficult task when the pleasures of today can be the chores of tomorrow. Religion might have fulfilled this role in previous eras.
John, et al.–
Perhaps more directly linked to Ms. Auken’s narrative last week, but related to techno-collectivism in any event, I stumbled across a rather (to my mind) chilling term that I hadn’t encountered before that is apparently A Thing: IoB, or “The Internet of Bodies.” It is, it would seem, exactly what you think it might be–
I don’t know if the purveyors of this notion believe that the ocean will turn into lemonade once we all link our bodies to the Cloud, but they’re definitely in that same category.
Um, no thank you?
Re: Politicians Getting the Vaccine First –
NPR reports that former Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama have said that they will publicly get the Coronavirus vaccine:
Of course, some people believe that they might be just getting a placebo:
I do get the analogy to computer games (or other software) – that seems to be exactly what Ida Auken is proposing for housing, clothing and everything else.
What I find is not always clear is that this process does not abolish private property. The software company today, or the clothing company in her proposed future, are private companies with private property. What happens is that private property is concentrated in the hands of a very small number of companies, who are controlled by a rather small number of shareholders.
That is why, to my mind, it makes more sense to talk about the dangers inherent in the abolition of localized property, or of widely dispersed property.
@Lathechuck: I second your notion of ham radio clubs as being like fraternal orders – lite. All the things you mentioned I have experienced since I became a ham five years ago. One of my Elmers (ham speak for radio mentors) is moving about an hour away, and so many people from the club have pitched in to help -similar to the way people do in fraternal organizations.
Anyway, a lot of gear got passed around too as he downsized. I got some new-used coax to set up my j-poles in the attic, and he gave me a Swan 350 to give to a mutual friend who is a General class but has no HF set up. Now he’ll be able to get on the air.
As the ham radio also intersects with both the prepper and the hacker communities I have also found many like minded friends to talk to about things, and that has been great.
One of my cousins also got licensed over a year ago and he is very active. And now, though we didn’t have a close connection before, we talk to each other on the radio every week on a net, and sometimes rag chew after words. Connections have been reforged. That’s the power of radio. A true magic in it.
Plus radio is good for traveling. If you go to another city or are out and about you can talk to the local hams through the network of repeaters. And a lot of these people, even if strangers, would have your back and help you out if you needed some help.
My two cents there.
Perhaps I have been reading too much mainstream media which likes to talk about how India is having more and bigger heat waves than ever before and if we don’t stop climate change, then pretty soon much of the coumtry will be uninhabitable.
Do you have a source, though, for more realistic modelling of how climate change will effect the tropics and subtropics? (I am assuming that whatever that model is, it at least has the subtropics expanding – it appeared to me that the American South in Star’s Reach had a similar climate to present-day Mumbai, complete with the heavy seasonal rains.)
Aww. Don’t be so harsh on Monsieur Fourier. He was clearly on to something; he just got the causality backwards, that’s all.
Allow me to explain. A cat who loves catching mice has significantly better odds of survival and reproduction than one that will only engage in that activity when forced. More generally, any critter that enjoys whatever happens to be useful for its survival is more likely to survive than its conspecific that doesn’t happen to enjoy the activity in question. Alas, it does not follow that doing whatever a critter enjoys the most will enhance its chances of survival and reproduction. What *does* follow is that, when environment changes (and let us remember that large, complex societies are quite recent in our evolutionary history, as are the myriad tasks that are specific to those societies), this exerts a selective pressure for learning to like whatever it is that enhances success in the new environment. So, if evolutionary pressure continues pushing humans in the same direction, then it’s quite possible (nay, practically inevitable!) that they’ll eventually find tasks such as dish washing spectacularly fun. The bad news is that this is likely to take another hundred thousand years or so, and perhaps longer. I also regret to report that lemonade oceans are unlikely to materialize.
“gnashing of teeth and rending of garments in the astronomy world” And let me guess: nobody anywhere in science and astronomy DID anything about it. No attempt to purchase the land, no bake sales, no gofundme, no pitch to rich benefactors, because “government” is the only place anything can be asked from or delivered from, all actions must descend from there. “For I am the alpha and the omega, the Word, and the Law, and no man can act except through me.” Seriously, people. You illustrate everything that’s wrong with socialism and “the system”: that SOMEBODY ELSE needs to do something. And we know what Douglas Adams says: “Somebody Else’s Problem” is the most powerful invisibility shield in the universe. Nothing can penetrate it.
Over and above this week’s fascinating description of Charles Fourier and his lemonade seas (I know I shouldn’t be laughing, but goodness knows I’ve needed a chuckle recently) the description of phalansteries seemed to touch a nerve with me. On reflection, the idea of a modern version of the great house, order, community or what have you – seems like an idea that may have some use in our current and near future. The reality is that in the early medieval period in England the great houses apparently did considerable good. I’m basing that view almost entirely on Ellis Peters’ Cadfael books where in amongst some rather humdrum mysteries there are extensive descriptions of the monastic life of the 12th century. That’s not an entirely daft way to learning about the period, she did extensive historical research for each one.
She describes the monasteries as providing medical and economic help to the ordinary people of the country when those people had been pretty much much ground into the dust by over a century of occupation, intermittent warfare, poor government, and disease. The extended family argument of Stephen v. Maud lasted for a miserable 19 years and the ordinary people who were not killed outright faced famine, poverty, and immiseration at every turn. The monasteries produced a steadily accumulating surplus through their activities and some of that went to the very poor. Would I be right in thinking that the Cistercians were particularly effective entrepreneurs? Of course they were too good at it. The Templars become a target for Phillip of France and the UK monasteries were famously preyed upon by Henry VIII.
It’s interesting to contrast this with a description of relatively recent life in a modern monastery and I’d be willing to bet that ‘Who on Earth is Tom Baker’ is one that for once JMG has not yet got on his bookshelves nor ever will. Tom Baker is the eccentric actor who played the 4th Dr Who back in the 70s, but that was after a long string of other careers which included some time spent as a novice in a UK monastery. It seems to have been a supremely negative experience. He ended up leaving under a bit of a cloud after attempting to poison his brothers by making soup with rabbit droppings in it.
The difference seems to be that although both had organised religion in high doses, and celibacy to boot, the modern version was internally focused and didn’t seem to have much to do with the outside world.
Both the religion and celibacy seem to be pretty basic requirements to any endeavour of this kind but I wonder if the monastic life might be better suited to people who have had the more usual kind of life first. Celibacy was a requirement that a teenaged Tom Baker found very difficult. Late middle aged men and women with grown children and no partners might find this easier and in any case if an organisation was set up to focus on active charity in the mundane world, some prior life experience would be a big plus. It’s not a one way street either, loneliness is a huge problem for older people. Being part of a community of this type stops that problem dead in its tracks. You might roll your eyes as Brother Hospitallar starts to drone on again about the state of the bins during conclave – but you would’t be lonely.
So would such a thing be useful? One of the eye openers for me of hanging around here is the discovery of just how really bad things are for the working classes in the US and UK. I think the US has a slight edge in misery – sorry, the NHS isn’t perfect but I think it helps a bit. Yes, I think local charity focussed communities would be an enormous help, and it looks to me as if the need is only going to get greater during the next few decades.
Why are humans so attracted to these failed ideas? There must be a deeper reason for the recurrence of communal socialist economic proposals than the obvious explanation of wishful thinking. It seems our hunter-gather roots in small tribes where tight cooperation was necessary for survival is connecting to moral impulses for justice and idealist visions of life without losers, and so people keep imagining that they can try the same thing again and this time it will be different.
Each of those impulses have something good to contribute to harmonious human living. I really like your survey of different answers that have been tried to the question of how to get people to behave in ways that improve social cohesion and equality. We really need some sane discussion of the options here because the simple “let the losers suffer” answers fail often as badly as the communal property socialist answers.
There has been some discussions within the last years of the noosphere to get beyond the dictum utopiadystopia. I reckon Fourier as an utopian in his quest for perfection though it would end up in striving for a “nowhere place” as in the Greek translation.
Kevin Kelly suggested “protopia” to get further from here. In short, when you compound the slow accumulation of very tiny increase of choices and options over time, that’s what civilization is even when adjusted for the choices which are obliterated.
There is a great interview with him on Edge:
To quote an excerpt:
“Every new technology creates almost as many problems that it solves. For most people that statement would suggest that technology is kind of a wash. It’s kind of neutral, because if you’re creating as many problems as it solves, then it’s a 50/50 wash, but the difference in my protopian view versus, say, a neutral view is that all these new technologies bring new possibilities that did not exist before, including the new possibility of doing harm versus good.
One way to think about this is if you imagine the very first tool made, say, a stone hammer. That stone hammer could be used to kill somebody, or it could be used to make a structure, but before that stone hammer became a tool, that possibility of making that choice did not exist. Technology is continually giving us ways to do harm and to do well; it’s amplifying both.”
Getting back to Fourier, I wouldn’t be surprised if some sets of Western elite thinking have gone back to the early 19th ct. In times of economic detraction there are often swooning nostalgia for some golden age.
Joan, if the vast majority of communal groups did and do fail, that’s not merely a reflection of individual experience! Yes, I’m aware that some communal groups do survive for decades, and that some useful research has been done on why. The point I’d make, though, is that the motive that drove each of the great waves of intentional community founding — the belief that it’s possible to transform the world by coming up with a better way of living together, and then generalizing that so that everyone can live that way — is dead in a ditch. Those people who have paid attention to the history of intentional communities know that founding an intentional community involves more work and far more difficult constraints than simply living the way the rest of us do. Is it still worth doing? It can be, but it’s not the panacea that Fourierists thought it was in the 1820s and hippies thought it was in the late 1960s.
Prizm, funny. A case could be made…
Cliff, exactly. And let’s not even get started about competing definitions of truth…
Your Kittenship, funny.
Strda221, that’s why I specified modern socialism, as opposed to the older medieval and Renaissance tradition, which was a different kettle of fish — it took its ideology and justification from religious sources rather than secular ones (“When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?”) and relied on a different set of organizational and cognitive structures. As for getting stomped, well, as I noted, socialists before Lenin had a lot of trouble coming up with a way to turn their dreams into realities; the fact that people who would be negatively affected by a socialist takeover fight back against it is one of the issues that has to be dealt with, and generally hasn’t been.
Black Tuna, it really depends on personal factors, and on exactly what happens politically over the next few decades. People can spend entire lives wallowing in self-inflicted misery, and blaming it on one orange man after another.
Rita, thanks for the recommendation.
Lunar, that makes a great deal of sense. Thanks for the context.
Drhooves, one of the reasons that I’ve been talking about the Great Reset is precisely that it makes a great springboard to a conversation about what kind of future we can actually expect. If the Biden administration leads a headlong flight back to the failed policies of neoliberal economics and neoconservative politics, as I expect, the relative pause in the Long Descent that we’ve been in for the last four years is going to end with a vengeance. Their Great Leap Backward will become our Great Lurch Downward; as gas prices triple, the economy takes a massive hit because the wage class no longer has enough income to fuel consumption, and popular unrest builds, many of the themes I talked about back in The Archdruid Report are going to become relevant again in a hurry. It didn’t have to be this way, but that’s how things turned out.
Berserker, yep. I have a hard time thinking of a better bellwether for our time.
Karim, that’s a fascinating question. I don’t happen to know the intellectual roots of the kibbutz movement. Anyone else?
Patricia O, that would make a fascinating reworking of his theory. Planets form and evolve intelligent species, who pass through the stages of Savagery, Barbarism, and Civilization, and finally achieve Harmony; then cosmic citric acid descends from space, the result is a runaway greenhouse effect, everyone dies, and the cycle begins again…
Sebastien, the only reason that socialism is a subject of debate over here is that the Republican Party spent decades shrieking that anything that kept robber-baron industrialists from exploiting everyone else to the max was pure socialism. That gave socialism a cachet in American left-wing circles that its actual history does not justify. I didn’t know about the surviving phalanstery — that’s fascinating. If I ever have the chance to visit France again I’ll go there and drink a bottle of lemonade.
Will, no argument there. Unfortunately we’re probably going to have to wait until the decline in the real economy of goods and services reaches a point that diseconomies of scale bite down hard, and by then most businesses will lose money — that’s the problem with a declining economy, of course.
Ron, Machiavelli’s The Prince was the first book of philosophy I ever read, and it helped clarify a great many issues that other philosophers tend to obfuscate. Still, I was pretty much born old and grumpy…
Denis, that’s the basic mentality of what Spengler called Faustian civilization — every answer must be an answer for everyone, every trend must zoom out to infinity, and freedom consists solely of the right to follow the One True Path. (This is probably not surprising in the only civilization in history ever to use linear perspective in its art.) Look at diet cranks — if a diet works well for me, why, it must work well for everybody, and it’s my job to go out there and yell at people until they embrace the One True Diet! Fortunately there are other options; as North America moves slowly toward the dawn of its own high culture, “you go your way and I go mine” is becoming increasingly visible as the alternative.
Yorkshire, of course. Remember also that we’re dealing with the usual scorn of intellectuals for working people — that pervades Marxist thinking, right below the surface of all that airy talk about the glorious workers paradise.
Kwo, it’s been a long time since I looked into it and I no longer have the reading list. Anyone else?
Abraham, those are valid questions, and worth plenty of reflection rather than a snappy answer.
David BTL, what a lovely idea. I look forward to hearing that people are having to deal with ransomware attacks that shut down their colons until they pay up…
Waffles, good heavens. The establishment must be in a state of complete panic — it’s finally sinking in that when some guy in a lab coat goes to a podium and makes an authoritative statement, most people assume as a matter of course that he’s lying. I’d like to see this pushed so that current politicians, not disposable former ones, are getting the vaccine.
Wesley, look for discussions of the Eemian interglacial period — there’s quite a bit of that online. That was the interglacial before this one, and global temperatures averaged 1° to 2° hotter than they are now. Yes, the semitropics extended much further north — that’s just it; when you increase the insulation of the heat engine we call “climate,” what happens is that it becomes more efficient at pumping heat from the equator toward the poles.
Irena, not at all. Dishwashing is a low status task, and people who are comfortable dishwashing are thus more likely to be satisfied with a low status, which decreases their access to mates and thus their reproductive success. Hating dishwashing is thus an evolutionary necessity. 😉
Joan, I remember an article from an intentional community magazine that said one of the main things in community survival is being to get to the toilet without having to go out in the rain. Otherwise it just slowly wears people down and is the silent killer of communities. 🙂
Candace, so, so much drama. 🙂 When you think about it though, there is already a lot known about how to avoid that. There are all sorts of books on communication skills. They range from helping nice people be nice to each other even when they’re having a bad day, to high stress and emotionally charged conversations, and the most robust measures to resist manipulative psychopaths. At a professional level therapists go through a lot of training to stop their problems affecting their patients. In aviation they have the ‘clean cokpit rule’ where during the riskiest phases, only things related to the flight are allowed to be discussed. It’s like Robert’s Rules of Order for high-risk industries. 🙂 There’s aways going to be people who live for drama, but you put all that together, along with any further developments, you might be able to keep it boxed in enough to prevent real damage. Keep the effects contained to those who treat it as a hobby.
Strda, even earlier than those, there was a 13th century agreement between the Scottish clans that’s supposed to be the first communist manifesto.
Well… It all depends, doesn’t it? If dishwashing machines go out of existence due to resource depletion, and only 1% of the population can afford to hire someone to do the job in their household, then the willingness to wash dishes will increase your mating potential, because most humans would rather eat off clean dishes than off dirty ones (and those who’d rather eat off dirty ones are more likely to die of food poisoning). Hence, I argue that in a hundred thousand years or so, humans will enthusiastically wash dishes! Unless evolutionary pressure changes, that is, and most human societies (or at least most humans) no longer use dishes.
Berserker, and JMG, it has been deemed too dangerous to try to rebuild the Arecibo Radar observatory. There is no true equivalent in the whole world, not even in China.
What typically gets forgotten by those using 1st-century Christian common-property practices as a moral base for socialism is that universal compulsory conformance to them amounts to nothing more than a systematic violation of the 8th commandment. Voluntary sharing motivated by an earnest desire to help those less affluent than oneself is indeed admirable; but reaching into someone else’s pocket to do so is just plain wrong. No matter how much or how little is taken – or what it is “needed” for – does not change the fact that it’s theft.
My name is Thief; my game is Crime.
What’s Yours is Yours, but also Mine.
I’ll come to you while you’re asleep;
What’s Yours is Mine – what’s Mine I keep!
Bravo, John, for speaking out! I wish the whole world could have this understanding.
What’s the evidence Marx disdained workers? Is it something from his writing or biography?
“Rent-seeking not only does not generate new product, it actually slows down economic growth…All that talent is devoted to stealing things, instead of making things…”
-Angus Deaton, Nobel winning economist
“Rent seeking” is an economic term which was much more discussed in the sixties, when it really wasn’t the current monster. The term originally applied to using trickery, connections, taxation, private government arrangements, and various kick-back schemes, to extract additional profits without improving goods and services. It was usually associated more with banana republics than with the USA (“land of the free” and all that). Now it is here and coming on like gangbusters as things you once thought were yours are being taken away and rented back to you. And most people are complying without a thought about what that means.
It is important to see it as extraction, a racket, and NOT confuse it with normal, voluntary, marginalized renting of something for one time or limited time use.
Microsoft, for example, really hasn’t improved their “Office” suite in any way significant to normal users for decades. But now they have broken your old copy and are renting back to you, endlessly, what you once owned for 1/10th the price. To keep you disoriented they keep making mostly cosmetic tweaks – lipstick on a pig – and calling them “updates” or “upgrades”. Getting off the train to Auschwitz is really important yet increasingly difficult as the train has already left the station and is picking up a lot of speed. There are rumors of a great shower at the end, so maybe we can worry about where we are going a little later.
I’m pleased to read that so many here are aware of the role that corporatism is playing in our loss of freedom. I’m also pleased that Ian, and I believe a few others, have properly pegged the push by our corporate Overlords to get near everything converted over to a rental model as part of their “Great Reset”, so you can pay, and endlessly pay … and really have no opt-out nor good grounds for grievance as (a) you don’t own (b) they control you on a short leash and (c) the extraction becomes out-of-sight out-of-mind on auto pay. For those of you who haven’t thought very much about this process we are having forced on us, or are only a little concerned but figure you have bigger problems right now, just try extracting forward and then imagine trying to mount a complaint when they own everything and can turn off your “digital currency”.
Anyway, corporatism under these terms is not libertarian, is not free-market (voluntary and without connivance), and is not really even business. I am grateful for this forum bringing this and other forms of darkness into the full light of day. I’m curious what others here are doing, or thinking of doing, about it.
Thanks for the reply JMG. Yes, after a bit more research I can see all the immediate problems with fracking (aside from the environmental damage). It costs more and will deplete soon anyway. Some forecasts I’ve seen expect declining US oil production from next year no matter what happens with Covid.
In regards to another reply, I’m surprised you think there’s been a relative pause in the Long Descent for the last four years. What signs are there of a pause, and why do you think this pause has happened?
Andy, that’s one of the secret sources of strength of the monastic system. It also worked for the Shakers — what doomed them was the change in public attitudes toward sex that made promiscuity rather than celibacy the default option.
Ganv, my take is that people cling to socialism because it’s Christianity in secular drag — it allows people to keep believing that someday the world will be governed by the theological virtues (faith, hope, and charity). You’re right that a detailed discussion of what works and what doesn’t, based on history rather than wishful thinking, is essential just now!
Herman, yes, I’m familiar with that attempt to smuggle the religion of progress into history. To my mind, most technologies remove more choices than they create; once a new technology is adopted, other ways of doing the same thing are excluded, and lifeways that depend on the way the world was before it was affected by that technology are also excluded. That’s an important part of why civilizations fall — their technological choices exclude so many options that sooner or later, no option is left that will permit the civilization to survive.
Irena, yes, I figured you’d come up with some way to argue. 😉
Booklover, that figures.
Yorkshire, now go back to my comment and show me where I said that Marx, personally, despised the working class.
Mr. White, the underlying forces driving the Long Descent haven’t let up at all, of course. What happened after the 2016 election is that the Trump administration changed some policies that loaded all the costs of the Long Descent onto working class Americans, and pushed some of them onto the managerial class. (That’s why they hate him so obsessively.) By moving toward economic relocalization and pruning some of the managerial excess that bogged down the real economy of goods and services, those changes made life noticeably easier for a great many ordinary Americans, and freed up resources from unproductive uses so they could function in the real economy again. The outcome of the 2020 election means that the executive branch is back in the hands of the business-as-usual crowd, and unless they’ve learned something from their mistakes — which very rarely happens in the managerial class these days! –I expect them to reverse the policies just noted, with predictable results.
You just wait a hundred thousand years! 😛
As the great Socialist writer George Orwell pointed out irritably, right-wing critics always loved alleging that, five minutes after a vaguely left-wing government had taken power, utopia had not arrived. Yet, as he frequently insisted “socialism has never pretended to make the world perfect, only to make it better.” Indeed, a very under-explored subject, and worthy of a lot of study, is how concepts of utopia have changed over the generations. Two hundred years ago, a guaranteed three meals a day, living to sixty years old, having a house with running water and having your children educated, would have seemed utopian fantasies beyond all belief. All, of course, were denounced as unthinkable by pundits of the day, who poured scorn on such ludicrous ideas as the abolition of slavery, the end of child labour in the mines or the sale of young people into domestic service. Such things, it was said, were just part of life, and only hopeless utopian revolutionary romantics could ever imagine otherwise.
Whilst attempts to introduce anything like real socialism have always been bloodily repressed, and will no doubt continue to be so, socialist influence has produced changes such as paid holidays, free compulsory education and free healthcare. In many cases, this was because governments were afraid that if they didn’t offer a few crumbs to the people, the people might vote for parties who would demand more. My parents had to leave school at 14 to hep support their families. A very mild socialist influence after WW2 created an environment where I was paid to study for ten years longer than they could, and get what was then called “a good job.” The fact that I can write this, that you can read it, and that there are skilled people maintaining this site, is a tribute to the efforts of socialists from the 19th century onwards, and the fear that socialism engendered in the rich and powerful.
Socialists have always distrusted the state and large concentrations of power, because the state has been used primarily against them. But it has to be accepted that winning an election, and even having a massive mandate for change, is of no value unless you control the levers of power. If you don’t, then you won’t last very long, whatever your level of popular support. So if a government in any country ever comes to power with the intention of serving the interests of the readers and writers on this blog, as opposed to the rich and powerful, then it’s going to face some powerful opposition. In the short term, there’s no substitute for seizing control of the state and of the economy, and turning them away from exploitation and extraction and towards the needs of people like us. This has involved conflict in the past, and no doubt will in the future as well.
It would be nice if it were not so. It would be nice if the Burkean fantasy of thoughtful ad hoc modification were actually possible. But history shows that it’s not like that. Elites will cling to power and wealth until it is prised from their hands, or until (as between 1945 and about 1980) elites were sufficiently worried about radicalism and possible revolution to make concessions on a number of issues. The Fabians, whom you mention, believed that this meant the battle was won. They were, in a sense, Burkeans, believing the fantasy of an orderly and amicable progression towards a fair and more just society. But then Reagan and Thatcher happened, and the rest is a particularly depressing episode of history.
it wasn’t that one comment but an accumulation of things you’ve said over time and I realised I’d never asked about it. So if it wasn’t Marx directly or his theory, where did the problem come from?
BTW, have you seen this Quillette article?
I know it seems unrelated to this week’s topic, BUT I think it’s very much related. I do think that the root (or at least a root) of a lot of utopian thinking is the fact that human beings are suddenly (suddenly in evolutionary terms, that is) required to perform all sorts of tasks that they simply did not use to perform back in the hunter-gatherer days. We can perform those tasks, but they do not come easily or naturally to us (though some people are, obviously, better than others). And so, we dream of utopias in which difficult and/or unpleasant tasks either go out of existence, or they get performed by someone else, preferably someone who finds those tasks neither difficult nor unpleasant.
The article that I linked to is about education, and it makes the distinction between primary and secondary human abilities. Primary abilities (e.g. the ability to speak one’s native language) are species-wide, and they are acquired during childhood by an overwhelming majority of children in every human culture, often through play, and with little conscious effort. And secondary abilities (e.g. the ability to read, write, and do arithmetic) are those that human beings are capable of acquiring, but will only acquire under special circumstances (e.g. via a carefully constructed school curriculum). Well, as you would expect, secondary abilities feels a lot more difficult to develop. And so should we really be surprised by the appearance of educational philosophies insisting that any skill worth acquiring can be acquired effortlessly, through play? It’s extremely appealing, and the only problem is that it doesn’t work.
Adwelly said: “Late middle aged men and women with grown children and no partners might find this easier and in any case if an organisation was set up to focus on active charity in the mundane world, some prior life experience would be a big plus.” May I point you toward the history of the Beguines and Beghards? They were grassroots lay religious orders, springing out of a broader spiritual revival movement, that thrived in the Low Countries in the 13th – 16th C. Beguines came from all walks of life, were uncloistered with minimal vows, and centered their lives on contemplative prayer and service to the poor, ill, and indigent (though most of them also worked for a living). A few Beguine mystics have been rediscovered, such as Hadewijch, Mechthild of Magdeburg and Marguerite Porete (who was burned for heresy). Sadly, the Church cracked down on the movement and the Reformation put an end to many more Beguine houses, but the last Beguine didn’t die until 2013. I find the Beguines fascinating, and hope they may serve as a useful model for communal organizations of the future.
@gnat and folks who are curious what others here are doing, or thinking of doing, about encroaching corporate totalitarian rent-seeking.
For context, I am 55 with wife and two barely-teen kids. We live in Seattle. I’m a carpenter, she’s a dentist. I’ve been a lurker/occasional poster here since early ADR days, and I credit our host and you-all for getting me on this road, many years ago. Here’s what we’ve been doing:
1) Eliminating personal debt. Of course.
2) Converting all our financial assets in to real-world, trade-able assets (land, guns, gold etc). Looks like time may finally be running short on good opportunities for this this, so we’re hustling.
3) Learning to house and feed ourselves as much as possible, in the woods and off-grid, near a large town. I’ve been calling this our vacation cabin and fun-farm when people ask why.
4) Strengthening ties with friends and family.
1 and 2 will be mostly done this year. 3 has been underway for the last several years, it will never be ‘done’, but we’ve got the shelter, warmth and water part nearly completed, and the food part is under way. 4 is always a work in progress. I’m introverted and antisocial, so growing this is the hardest, even without COVID.
My goal is to create a retreat where we can get by with as little money as possible, and with little interaction with corporate or civil authority.
My daughter came home from school the other day complaining about her teacher, whom she feels is crappy. She said she thought her life would be ‘perfect’ if it wasn’t for this one miserable guy who was wrecking everything. I pointed out that we wouldn’t know what a good person was without the existence of the crappy, and so we need both the good and the crappy in order for anything to have any meaning at all.
(I’m sure my daughter often wishes I would do less philosophizing and problem-solving and just listen to her concerns, but there it is.)
To my mind, achieving only the good and perfect – the utopian vision – is actually not possible within our universe. When God entered into manifestation, he left the state of being Unmanifest and became Something. He accepted the conditions of limitation in order to have existence. And once it is possible to define a thing as being Something, it is also possible to define something else as being not-Something. So life is a composite of two opposing forces held in balance, not just one. We have the spiritual and the material. In order to change that, you would 1. Have to be God, and 2. Have to destroy the whole universe and send everything back to the Unmanifest, neither of which Charles Fourier was capable of, I’m guessing.
When looking for a system of governing ourselves, it would make more sense to seek out a system which is not perfect, but rather a dynamic balance of good and bad – a system that would end up being rather messy and imperfect in practice, just like our actual lives tend to be.
The thing that’s impressed me over the years is just how seductive the lure of the earthly utopia really is, no matter in what guise it presents itself. Forget the history of abject failures; it seems every generation, a portion thereof anyway, falls for it. Understandable in a way – it’s the tug of the spiritual, however misplaced, in the same way the Progressive desire to “conquer the stars” is a misplaced spirituality. Makes me think that an actual “utopia” must really exist in some form or manner on the higher planes, otherwise such foredoomed secular utopian endeavors wouldn’t exist at all.
Swedenborg commented on orgiastic sex?
(formerly Will M, now COW FLOP)
JMG, it seems to me that a certain percentage of people are attracted to Utopian fantasies and that seems to be hardwired into them, and no amount of previous failures can shake their beliefs. The Christians of the Bible seemed to think that the Second Coming and the glorious Kingdom of Heaven was imminent. Utopia then reappeared in secular guise with Fourier’s dreams and then we had Dorothy Martin and later the Heaven’s Gate cult who believed the Space Brothers would beam them up to Utopia, to name but a few of them.
The key issue with Fourier is not so much his sugary nonsense, but why so many people believed in it. Even today, I scanned his Wiki page and it seems to have been written by fans who talk glowingly about how ahead of his time he was. I think it goes back to humans not being as intelligent as they think they are.
But also, I also wonder about the influence of Neptune, discovered in 1846. We are still learning how to integrate the Neptunian dream of Oneness and for now, it can inspire some nice art, poetry etc, but it doesn’t seem like we can manifest it in any concrete way without it all going horribly wrong. I wonder if that will ever change…
“John Ball in the fourteenth century, and the Levellers and Diggers in the seventeenth, would beg to differ”
In fact those examples you pointed out are good, as I said in my comment, communism is “by deffect” the Christian utopia. In many places poor people had tried to build the New Jerusalem or wake up the “Sleeping Emperor” (as Barbarrossa) to inaugurare the Millenium of Christ in a revolutionary process: Tanchelmites, Waldenses, Taborites, Patoreaux, Fraticelli, Beghards, Tafurs, Caputiatis, revolutionary flagellants, Free Spirituals, Amaurians, and many, many more. All the Middle Age is drenched in this kind of revolts, where the believers talk about returning to the “Verum Fidei” by means of “Imitatio Christi”
Norman Cohn studied these medieval “mystic anarchists” and he saw a pattern: they arose mainly in the new proto-capitalists cities (in Hainaut, Flanders, Brabant, Lombardy, Hanseatic cities, etc…) were a mass of dispossessed termporary workers, displaced from the rural lands, were living a extremely precarious life subject to the fortunes of the new economic (savage) rules, without the support of the traditional safety nets of the extense families and communal groups in the traditional arrengements of the rural life, which life was not easy at all but the people were not alone in front of the pains of life. In the face of the Industrial Revolution or in the conditions of Russia in the WWI the situation of huge masses of dispossessed people by the “Enclosures Acts” was the right breeding ground to the “Prophetae” (as Marx) to give them a hope for a better life and the arrival of the pagan Millenium.
But you know what?, what I see is the growing conditions for a new kind of “Prophetae” to “Make the Life Great Again” as the lives of the people become more and more precarious, with all the traditional safety nets destroyed in an anonymous world where people are alone in front of the pain, and with all the “Metaphysical Bubbles” exploded. For the right is the right time for the “Sleeping Emperors” (Spenglerian Caesars) for the left the return to the laic version of the Millenarianism with the old Christian dreams (even with the mystic-anarchists part). It is the wave of the future.
About the Great Reset I do not see any communism or marxism in it, it is only the oligarchy attempt to calm the plebeyians and try to convince them to assume the sheer deterioration of their live conditions (as in Rome) by giving them the Juvenal’s “Panem and Circenses” as limited welfare (charity) and techno-shale. Of course it won’t work.
Top-down Stoicism for the poors, as “corresponded period” in our civilization.
See my replies in the last week’s post.
JMG said:”The Great Reset has giant corporations taking the role filled by the state under Stalinism, and that’s a noteworthy difference.”
It’s a fundamental difference in my mind. Enough that most comparisons don’t make sense. Like I said last week, it takes time for the people in power to corrupt the system and accumulate all the resources.
As such, the soviet state started by removing the old aristocracy and achieved great things (and horrible things too) for about 50 years before the entire project ground to a halt with an elite incapable of change and an impoverished population.
The Great Reset does not do anything other than progress (as in “move in the same direction”) even faster than today. The corporations already own almost everything (including most governments). So I expect the result to be to hasten the collapse instead of delaying it.
JMG et al,
somewhat off topic so let me know if it’s not appropriate here.
I understand and appreciate your position as a Burkean conservative. It’s a very convincing (and historically and evolutionarily supported) way to improve societies: small steps, trial and error and repeat.
Like I mentioned last week (and this week) there are abrupt changes (revolutions) that kind of work at least in the short term. The reason is that by removing a lot of the existing power structures, there are a lot of freed resources that can be used for something else (as in your catabolic collapse theory).
Now the question is: what is the balance between societal improvement vs revolutions? In nature we see a very interesting combination where multicellular organisms try small changes (mutations) but that only works by rebuilding bodies from scratch and killing the old ones.
So it looks like despite our best attempt to create workable societies, there will always be collapses and revolutions.
Bravo! Your training in the Cathedral as a historian of ideas consistently produces delicious—and hilarious!—fruit. I deem this essay a worthy addition to the work of other past and present masters; in this, our online age of the feuilleton.
It has me thinking whether or not there is perhaps the slightest sublime whiff of lemonade in our Novus Ordo seclorum. The plague has greatly reduced my physical sense of smell lately—I would love to know what your nose tells you.
To Ecosophians Re: definitions of terms like socialism, capitalism, property rights and markets…I recall that the following suggested definitions were quite helpful to me. I also find the original source, and the reincarnated source, quite amusing; so I submit for the pleasure of the group: https://c4ss.org/content/14046
JMG, My wife is indigenous Guatemalan. She grew up with no electricity or roads speaking her native language living traditionally. My background is in integrative medicine, specifically Traditional Chinese Medicine. We have built our home into a retreat center with a small school in a rural Guatemala about 30 minutes away from a city of 50k people. The locals are farmers that have been selling off their land to make ends meet.
Our goal is to use international tourism to pay for the school and teach things like art/music to the kids and help the adults conserve their culture while implementing some appropriate tech and permaculture design into the mix. Like we have discusses here, I think that letting go of first world standards in order to live sustainably is crucial, and of course this requires being willing to work much harder than most suburbanites are prepared to work. This is partly why we chose to live with the peasants. I figure it is probably easier to get them to increase their standard of living slightly, instead of expecting 1st worlders to give up their luxury.
So when you mention using vices to motivate, this is completely counterintuitive to me. The locals, similar to Native American reservations, have little hope and turn to the bottle frequently. Now, if by vices you mean greed or desire for money then this I can understand better, but still I would like to do it in a way that does not create dependency like the US welfare system has.
I am trying to figure out how to encourage the locals to transform their land into a permaculture paradise instead of sell it off and drink away the proceeds. Of course, one way to do this is to grow more profitable tree crops that stabilize the land instead of corn which is cheap and leads to landslides during hurricane season. Tentatively speaking, I am thinking that it may be easier to buy the land from them and hire them back as employees to work the land, if I can get the funds together to pull it off.
Until Covid hit, I thought we might have another 20 years of international tourism to use that money to transition to this sustainable way of living, but now I am not so sure.
I guess leaving the question in open ended metaphors didn’t give you enough to work with. Perhaps this response will give you enough to flesh out the vice as motivator concept. Either way, thanks for encouraging me to share more. For anyone interested in our project, you can find us at http://www.aflorecer.org As always, I appreciate any insights you and the group may have to offer.
With regards to Peter Lamborn Wilson., here’s a little anecdote that might interest those aware of his “questionable” side(s). I think it’s well enough known he was a mentor to the author Michael Muhammad Knight, publishing the latter’s Muslim punk themed “Taqwacores” via Autonomedia, and also initiating Knight into the Moorish Orthodox Church.
Later Knight and Wilson had a falling out over the issue of Wilson’s predilections, and in one of his memoirs on American Islam (“William Burroughs vs. The Qur’an”) Knight relates in fairly gripping detail how he confronted Wilson about it. The book also reveals (perhaps a little one-sidedly; Knight really doesn’t pull punches) a bit of Wilson’s back story working for the Shah of Iran and his wife immediately prior to the Iranian revolution. That’s right: despite all the “exquisite” Situationist-y revolutionary theorising, the only actual revolution Wilson had any proximity to he was seemingly against, and had to flee.
In retrospect that makes a degree of sense to me. Although I enjoyed reading Bey/Wilson’s T.A.Z. stuff as a late teenager, I grokked on some level that the semi-deliberate flakeyness of it all was a product of the really doctrinaire and somewhat intolerant side of him. I’d be very interested to read your “Hermeticism and the Utopian Imagination” essay JMG, and see how you took him on.
In any case as I said in last week’s comments Wilson/Bey was the first place I heard of Fourier and the lemonade ocean, and said flakeyness (on both their parts :-)) meant I hadn’t considered his importance for a history of Socialism proper. Which is ironic because Engels in Socialism: Utopian and Scientific seems to put him centre place just as you do, JMG (I rediscovered that just flipping through the index for a big Marx-Engels reader I’ve got; Fourier’s name comes up a lot actually):
“In a word, compared with the splendid promises of the philosophers,the social and political institutions born of the “triumph of reason”were bitterly disappointing caricatures. All that was wanting was the men to formulate this disappointment, and they came with the turn of the century. In 1802, Saint-Simon’s Geneva letters appeared; in1808 appeared Fourier’s first work, although the groundwork of his theory dated from 1799; on January 1, 1800, Robert Owen undertook the direction of New Lanark.”
“Fourier is not only a critic, his imperturbably serene nature makes him a satirist, and assuredly one of the greatest satirists of all time. He depicts, with equal power and charm, the swindling speculations that blossomed out upon the downfall of the Revolution, and the shopkeeping spirit prevalent in, and characteristic of, French commerce at that time. Still more masterly is his criticism of the bourgeois form of the relations between sexes, and the position of woman in bourgeois society. He was the first to declare that in any given society the degree of woman’s emancipation is the natural measure of the general emancipation.”
Not a mention of lemonade anywhere, naturally :-). Maybe M&E took all that as satire or brushed it off somehow.
Thanks for another interesting essay!
Monasticism in its usual forms can only be a workable model for segments of society, not for society as a whole, because it doesn’t sustain the species.
As has already been mentioned, if you add child breeding it brings in conflicting passions and loyalties; and if you add child raising it increases the resources required. But there’s also a third factor involved in crossing the threshold from a community that’s truly monastic, to one that’s merely specialized and insular. That is this: where the parents have volunteered for the sacrifices and constraints of membership, the children have not. There needs to be a point where they either commit for themselves, or depart.
We see this in fiction amazingly often, despite the relative dearth of such communities in the real world. We see it in settings ranging from the early Stone Age to distant SF futures on distant planets. The protagonist is a young person nearing adulthood within an insular and specialized community, sometimes a misfit from the start but far more usually just the opposite, the most skilled and promising acolyte of all. But regardless, something gets in the way of the final commitment. A test is failed; some unsuspected anomaly or shortcoming emerges. (The talented apprentice of the Torturer’s Guild shows a shocking streak of mercy.) Or the expected arranged marriage is objected to. Or there’s simply a bad omen in the induction ceremony: the Spirits must have Other Plans for This One. Whatever the reason, the Medicine Chief or the Elder Council or the Guildmaster or the Planetary Mainframe intones the inevitable awful verdict: the candidate must leave and go out into the world. And the story’s under way.
Okay, besides being a useful way to start a fictional adventure, I get that it’s a metaphor for coming of age and seeking independence in a present-day family setting. But I think it’s deeper than that, as if the present-day family dynamic is itself a metaphor for, or a persistent vestige of, a reality rooted in the biological life-cycle. In most historical settings, “going out into the world” has high possible rewards but uncertain survival prospects. Good thing adolescents (boys especially) are suicidally reckless.
The Amish tradition of rumspringa is relevant here. To read most descriptions of its purpose, it’s to give maturing teens a space to cut loose, find mates, and (in some cases) see some of the outside world before committing to joining the church as an adult. But about one account in every half dozen is willing to mention the other side of the coin: the young people deciding whether to make that commitment. Giving an opportunity to leave to those who wouldn’t be willing or able to conform seems just as important a part of its purpose.
If the subculture in question is the only productive enclave in a landscape of barbarism, this won’t work. But that’s not the usual case. A tamanous culture might look more or less like a constellation of them.
Are you familiar with Peter Turchin and structural demographic theory? One aspect of it is that what tends to decrease inequality and improve the lives of ordinary people are catastrophes such as epidemics and mass mobilization warfare. Epidemics because they kill off a significant chunk of the workforce (so, no, COVID doesn’t count), and then dukes and barons have to pay more if they want anyone to work for them. And mass mobilization warfare (but not knights-vs-knights warfare) because malnourished peasants don’t make very good soldiers.
Revolutions or credible threats thereof will also do the trick. I don’t have the data, but I strongly suspect that a median Russian was notably better off in terms of health and nutrition in 1930 than in 1910. Price: a large number of dead and imprisoned people, and the constant threat of becoming one of them yourself. But you know who really profited from the Russian Revolution? Why, the American working class. Is anybody truly going to argue that without the specter of a revolution, Roosevelt would have succeeded in pushing through the New Deal? (Would he even have tried?) So, revolutions can be very nice indeed, especially if they happen in another country and properly spook the elites in yours, so that you get all the goodies, without the body count.
“The reason for that litany of failure is quite simple. With one narrowly defined category of exceptions, every communal project I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve seen quite a few, tacitly assumed that its participants could expect to consume ** more ** in the way of goods and services than they could realistically expect to produce. This is especially true of those communal groups that plan on going back to the land and raising all their own food—these find out in short order that subsistence farming takes far more hard work for smaller returns than holding down an ordinary job in an industrial economy—but it applies more generally. In theory, that feature makes the commune seem really appealing; in practice, it guarantees failure.”
I had to read this three times.
Did you mean to say that a commune assumed its participants would consume ** less ** than they produced so they could stay afloat? That would make sense because I cannot understand how organizers of communes could expect that users would consume ** more ** than they produced as that leads directly to bankruptcy.
How could anyone believe that if your group uses more than is produced, you will be okay? The excess has to come from somewhere.
Thank you for this post. It may be of interest to you that the very first essay I read of yours was “Reinventing Square Wheels,” from the ADR days. Ironically, I read it while living at a ‘land-project’ in which I would, as this essay suggests is the norm, lose everything I put into it. I read your essay a few months before everything came to a head.
I think Fourier is a good reminded how easy it is for humans to credulously believe things, or at least humans of certain dispositions. There’s that old Lewis gem “What I tell you three times is true,” and that has its goofy and terrifying side. People really do believe the most ardent absurdities with total sincerity and good will. And I, for one, will say this extends well past Socialism, well-past Leftism, well past Politics even. That is, it seems to me that humans are susceptible for actually sincerely believing the most wondrous and shimmering nonsense if the belief in that nonsense fulfills some human need.
For me, believing in the heady brew of leftist cant that I swallowed with a smile was a matter of finding friends and lovers who had similar interests to me and were game to do things I found interesting. Very clearly in my late teenage years I saw that a whole exciting bohemian world would open up if only I were to profess a belief in somethings that I knew was nonsense and be willing to wear a silly mask, time and again. I was in a boring suburb and with grave certainty I knew, ‘that’s my ticket!’
And for awhile, it was. Although many of the beliefs I had to pretend to believe were silly to the point of Fourier, people were actually doing into fun and interesting things! I learned to garden, learned about herbs, a statuesque tattoo artist pushed a volume of Borges into my hands, and I got to write and write and write some more about all of my exciting bohemian experiences. I hitchhiked, I snuck on to freight trains, I leapt into a dumpster and liberated 5 pounds of perfectly good corn tortillas! So it did work out for me, for a time at least.
The problem was that as I grew and matured and kept on developing my capacities for thought and will, eventually I had trouble swallowing all of the nonsense that was required of me. This coincided with the end of the giddy absurdities that so pervaded the left for awhile: the extremely earnest idea that if everyone simply passed a marijuana cigarette all over the world to every happy human, that would cause instant peace and harmony. Now, new absurdities came into being. Absurdities without the lovely folly of the old ones. Hardhearted absurdities, in which everyone had to hate and hate and hate some more. I liked the left for a time because it allowed me to live a life of over-the-top airy fantasy and everyone was in on the joke. Now there was no joke and just a mean vindictiveness.
And so I “walked away” as many others have done. Still, I have a certain sincere fondness for my memories of that time even though, altogether, I ended my career as a professional leftist with a broken heart having lost all of the wealth that I’d invested. My understanding, from this post, is that is the normal path of those who head for the communes. Ultimately I feel no grudge, since I found what I sought, and what I sought was folly.
“Anyway, corporatism under these terms is not libertarian, is not free-market (voluntary and without connivance), and is not really even business. I am grateful for this forum bringing this and other forms of darkness into the full light of day. I’m curious what others here are doing, or thinking of doing, about it.”
I think there is a massive gulf between the amount of power that the corporatists think they have, and what they actually have. Where there is truly a cartel-like stranglehold on a service – like the US medical system – rent-seeking exploitation can run rampant. Elsewhere, as with “subscription” software or ever-more-censored and privacy-invading social media, people will simply go elsewhere when it gets too onerous. I recently changed my search habits to DuckDuckGo after realizing that Google was hiding particular results, for example.
The various national responses to our current pandemic seem to me to have provided a window into the level of the control the elites have over their population. In China the control is nearly absolute. In Australia, France, and Germany local authorities fight mightily to quell rebellious citizens. In the US local authorities mostly look the other way while the elites yammer on about the rules and the citizens do as they please.
The Great Reset model depends on the would-be extractors being able to eliminate their competition. Short of totalitarian government and re-education/death camps that seems terribly unlikely to me in most parts of the West. If digital currency is seen as a means of control then people will flock to local credit unions. If Amazon makes itself a bad name then people will return to local shops and bookstores.
Implementing totalitarian control typically requires majority support at least in the beginning. Gushing about a utopia of totalitarian corporatist control in a country with rampant distrust of authority and a strong current of local/regional self-determination seems more like a self-delusional act of desperation than a serious warning of what is to come. But I could be wrong…
Another fugue: I am happy to accept your definitions of socialism and social democracy, but I ‘confide’ntly report from the frothy frontlines of the leftward end of the “millennial” generation that your and our definitions do not match—perhaps partly because the definition we youngun’s are forming is still in process of being dissolved and rearticulated.
It strikes me now that my identification with anarchism/socialism/leftism has its own origins in a frothy cauldron, a 4chan-equivalent from my misspent teenage years–the angsty, creatively charged punk/metal/emo/indie “underground” music-bardic scene. You might be happy to learn that my intentions in participating with groups like the DSA include both doing what I can to help prevent entryism from would-be Lenins and Stalins, and nudging the movement towards something more like social democracy (and/or civil libertarianism–thank you for that term!). You may also be amused to hear that there exists a healthy, growing libertarian-socialist caucus in both the leftist DSA, as well as one in the rightist Libertarian Party.
I would like to suggest a specific date for the beginning of the transformation of the popular American understanding of socialism: December 25, 1991. A special day for Eastern, esp. Russian Orthodox, once again verdant religions, though the date is not (yet?) their Christmas; It was also the time of the seminal tour of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and RHCP that marked the end of the dominant, decadent hair metal and the rise of the Seattle grunge sound. But most importantly, it was the last day the Hammer and Sickle sigil flew over the Kremlin. I speculate that US Americans who have spent a longer proportion of their current lives living after this date than before it will be much more open to this resurgence of socialism—but also much less prone to/wary of associating it with the Hammer and Sickle variety. But only Saturn will tell.
It may eventually prove to be a happy development, IMHO. One of the commentariat mentioned the potential positive power of an agrarian-proletarian alliance, something that may have even stronger potency once-again as more souls leave the cities and return to the land.
If I may share my prayer:
May we never Forget the way the Hammer was used as a Bludgeon to the Sickle, filling its Banner with Blood Red.
May we likewise Remember those times when the identity of the weapon was Hidden and in reverse–as some, by wearing the One Ring, may Wish to make the Sword appear as a Sickle, or the Club as a Hammer.
May we hold in our hearts that expressed Desire, and fervent Hope, that there Be a Way to hold the Workman’s Tools in Dynamic Balance, through the Power of the Blood of Self-Sacrifice–and for the Good of those who Patiently Labor in Good Faith, and for All who Find themselves on this Long, Strange Trip We Call Life.
We ask these Gifts of Providence, who provideth for All. So Mote it Be.
For those who feel moved, you may recite this prayer. For those who don’t, do as thou wilt!
Good health, well wishes, and prosperity to you, Sara, and all Ecosophians.
There is a big difference between learning ‘effortlessly’ and ‘through play’. I learned how to play guitar ‘through play’ but it was certainly not effortless. Arguably, I could learned quicker if I had a bit more rigour to learn the technical details properly. On the other hand, relative to other players who learned in a more rote fashion, I believe I am more creative than they are and this is partly due to the way I was ‘educated’.
E F Schumacher has an interesting discussion on this subject at the end of Guide for the Perplexed. In education, there are two competing forces of ‘discipline’ and ‘freedom’. One or the other is not inherently ‘right’, rather they must be transcended through love.
As a side note, I think the reason we now favour ‘freedom’ is simply because we have no idea what we doing with the students. If you are training to become a welder, for example, discipline is the better option because we know in quite some detail what sort of work you are going to do. But for high school kids these days, we don’t know what they are going to do with their lives and so we don’t really know what to teach them.
You may have heard of the French author Philippe Bihouix, who speaks and writes on environmental issues and, so far as I can tell, shares many points of view with you. My translation of his 2014 book ‘The Age of Low Tech: towards a technologically sustainable civilisation’ has just been published by Bristol University Press. Perhaps more specifically relevant to this week’s topic (although a little tangential) is an essay he wrote on techno-scientific utopias, which he placed in three categories – abundance (cornucopias), ‘technology as slaves’ and anthropo-augmentism (which envisages humanity improving its performance thanks to technology). He suggests that “these three categories of techno-scientific utopias correspond to three parameters that are more or less at the heart of all human activity – resources (raw materials), work (their transformation) and intelligence (which makes it possible to design and guide this transformation). These are reminiscent of a triptych already identified: land, labour, capital (human), in a nod to Marx, or to Polanyi and his ‘great transformation’ of land (rent) and labour (wages) into goods”.
A group of us who follow your work from the British Isles have met a few times in London in recent years, inspired by the indomitable Phil Harris who contributes regularly here. He set up a web site for us to share our thoughts, called Ecosphic-isles.org. I have posted a translation of Philippe’s essay on that site, and hope that you and other readers of this blog might find it interesting
“I’d like to see this pushed so that current politicians, not disposable former ones, are getting the vaccine.”
JMG, seeing a politician being injected with what, for all I know might be saline solution, is unlikely to change my mind.
There is an absence that stands out for me.
Like it or loathe it, Marxist philosophy is one of the lines of thought that has influenced, and continues to influence us in the ideas and beyond those expressed.
In most western countries this line of thought is included. It is debated: included, renounced, expanded upon, critiqued, analysed, adopted, – whatever.
As far as I’m aware, there was never an official witch hunt to remove these ideas as heresy outside of the USA. In most counties, any student of philosophy or politics and other fields of thought would find these ideas alongside many others, within any ordinary curriculum, – as a part.
This is off topic, but I think this is important: I work at a university, and have just been told by a professor that university policy is that we cannot fail anyone this semester. This isn’t the “F gets converted into a UNS so it doesn’t pull down the students GPA” BS we’ve had since March. This is far different: everyone registered automatically passes all of their classes. It doesn’t matter if they never even bother to submit anything: they’ll still pass. I attempted to contact the higher ups to check, and two shocking things happened: the first is I was told I’d have to sign an NDA in order to get an answer, and the second is a witch-hunt started, to find out which professor said something. Both of which tell me this is actually real!
I’ve dealt with admin enough to know two things: the first is that anyone who protests this too loudly will lose their job; the second is that an action like this won’t be done unless other schools, including at least some of the big names, are also onboard. In other words, an indeterminate number of schools have just made their degrees solely dependent on paying for them. Since the value of these degrees is dependent in large part on the acceptance of the notion that they are a way of verifying someone’s underlying abilities, eliminating the process by which truly egregious failures are removed is going to destroy our credibility, both at the level of the specific school, and at the level of the entire system of higher education.
The thing is, there are enough students who have already failed, but haven’t withdrawn from the classes since there’s no reason to do so right now. Once grades are released in late December, an awful lot of people are going to realize that they don’t need to do anything for their degrees anymore: as long as they pay their tuition, they’ll get the credits. It’ll be interesting, in the sense of the curse, to see how this plays out. I’d made arrangements to get out, but I think I need to step it up, a lot……
“… I also wonder about the influence of Neptune, discovered in 1846. We are still learning how to integrate the Neptunian dream of Oneness and for now, it can inspire some nice art, poetry etc, but it doesn’t seem like we can manifest it in any concrete way without it all going horribly wrong.”
True, although the archetype after which the planet is named is much older. We’ve been trying to learn to manifest our dreams for a very long time.
On a related note, Socrates and Plato wrote about the madness of poets and prophets…a connection that occurred to me as I read about Fourier’s colorful visions.
Fourier’s astrological chart has Sun conjunct Mercury (combust), an aspect sometimes associated with nervous diseases, if not mental illness.
Or divine madness, as in the case of W B Yeats, who had Sun conjunct Uranus (also sometimes associated with mental disorders):
“I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head…”
@Matthias, re: left vs right
I found myself agreeing with your ideas that left vs right aren’t useful distinctions. But then I also remembered this folk koan: “Left and Right, Two Wings of the Same Bird.”
Interestingly enough, this is also commonly deployed in describing the dichotomous relationship between Cuba and Puerto Rico. For example, look closely at the image in this cartoon: https://sites.psu.edu/ariannap/2016/10/12/two-wings-of-the-same-bird/
Do we want the eagle to die, or fly? We can dissolve the wings to see that it is all the same bird, but also, a bird needs both wings to soar.
Thank you for the keen observation about steak vs chicken! I laughed heartily. Did you happen to see my comment about the southern trucker folk koan, likely discovered through that method of discursive meditation we call long-distance driving: “it’s all chicken, but the bone.” Chew on it, if you please. It’s a juicy one.
Now my stomach is grumbling and I must be off to my lab…er kitchen to perform the Work.
@Malleus, JMG re Arecibo,
Something to keep in perspective is that if a piece of scientific equipment is old (Arecibo was commissioned in 1963), its original operators have finished their planned research with it (Cornell University, which ran Arecibo at the beginning, gave it up in 2011) and there is similar equipment elsewhere that is newer and more powerful (As of 2016, this telescope in China is the world’s new largest single aperture radio dish) then its abandonment isn’t, by itself, an earth-shaking event.
On the other hand, the fact that the Arecibo dish collapsed the way it did instead of being decommissioned in a controlled fashion – and that people have known this was going to happen for several months without acting decisively to stop it – bodes poorly for the future of science and industry in America these days.
Really, it’s the same thing that’s been happening with NASA for the better part of two decades, where achievements from the 1960s are ponderously repeated with vastly larger schedule delays and budget overruns than the originals suffered from, and then palmed off as progress. Meanwhile, huge numbers of contractors are making good money designing and redesigning hypothetical spacecraft that they know will never fly (something tells me that when Mike Pence announced last year that America was going back to the Moon by 2025 or whenever, almost nobody involved with that project felt deep down that keeping their job depended on actually making that happen – i.e. not the sort of attitude that you would need in order to keep your job in the Werner von Braun’s time).
And obviously our country’s more mundane (and more important) infrastructure of roads, railroads, bridges, pipelines, sewers, etc. is undergoing the same process, if in a less dramatic fashion. All the engineers and corporate contractors feel deep down like they will always have a job to come back to, whether or not that job involves actually getting anything built or repaired in the real world.
I know that you have a dim overall view of the works of Ayn Rand, but at times like this I can’t help but think of the opening scene in Atlas Shrugged, the one where the railroad heiress Dagne Taggart is riding in one of her family’s railcars when the train breaks down on the track, and Dagne walks the whole length of the train to ask all the employees what is going on and they all say something to the effect of: “that isn’t my problem; somebody else is going to fix it,” until finally Dagne finds and fixes the problem herself. There’s a lot of things you can fault Rand on, but it looks like she hit that part of our industrial system’s eventual unraveling spot on.
@yves vetter: My priorities were to get out of debt and stay out of debt; and to strengthen ties with friends and family.
Trading paper wealth for real-world assets implies having the storage capacity to do so and the ability to keep the material goods from thieves and to maintain them. “Where moth and rust do corrypt, and thieves break in and steal.”
Off the grid near a large town is truly a good idea while there is still civic order. The times it’s not – well, I’m going to suggest an s/f novel called Dies the Fire by S.M.Stirling. In fact, I highly recommend the entire series! Though the final book jumped the shark (reeked of “OK, Stirling, finish everything off because we won’t be buying another trilogy.”)
1Wanderer, sure – and another uncomfortable fact is that a lot of post-WW2 reforms were pushed through by elites terrified of another NSDAP or Bolshevik revolution, buoyed by cheap energy to be sure.
“Hindu myth has an ocean of milk, so I figure that Fourier had to do something for the lactose-intolerant…”
I’m really glad I wasn’t drinking any lemonade when I read that.
Archdruid and Company,
The socialists in the US are far more organized and capable than people realize. They’ve essentially taken the Republican’s unwillingness to negotiate on any item that might benefit the public and used it as an easy propaganda win.
I recently talked to an old co-worker and he told me that he’d decided that he was a full on communist. I asked him “why?” and he said “I just hate all the landlords I’ve lived under.” I don’t blame him either, the Republicans in WI basically destroyed the Tenant rights laws while Gov. Walker was in power a few years ago. Not to mention their attacks on Unions, using public investment to build apartments for the working classes, basically program that may help the beleaguered working and low-middle classes are being gutted under the Republican party. In the shadow of all this, and the Democrats inability to do anything to stop the Republicans, the Socialists have become a powerful political movement.
You guys think that the Socialists voting for Biden was political capture, but from what I’m learning it was a strategic choice. The Socialists, or the New Progressives Coalition as I’m calling them, is focusing its energy on down ticket races in legislative, state, and local arenas. Where-ever they need to they’re working with the Dem establishment, but wherever they feel safe they’re targeting establishment Dems. This is a take over in slow motion.
They’ve even had some really weird successes. Did any of you notice what happened in Alaska this cycle?
Even on the intellectual front they’re on the offensive. They’re describing the Soviet Union as State Capitalism, pointing out that every horror that Republicans described about socialist governments are manifest in the capitalist US. Thing is, most young folk aren’t old enough to remember the soviet union, and places like Venezuela aren’t big enough to come into their radar. All the major powers in the world are capitalist, so its fairly easy to point a finger and say “see!”
If the right ever gave way on things like public healthcare, mass transit, and tenant rights, then we might actually nip the growth of the current form of socialism in the bud.
I think most people already know the stupid can get a degree as long as they have money to sit there, so I can go along with the colleges being honest about that. What worries ME is, who’s going to design the buildings and bridges? All those stupid people who will have meaningless engineering degrees? That’s REALLY scary!
The stupid could get degrees in some subjects as far back as the early ‘80’s, when I was a secretary for a pool of Army Reserve officers, most of whom couldn’t write a coherent sentence. They all had degrees (I think at that time you had to have one to be considered for OCS).
Well, I think that I have a solution for that: start a social media campaign to ensure that our President-Elect and Vice President-Elect are among the first to be vaccinated. After all, the CDC says that the vaccine is 100% safe, and we would all feel better knowing that our leaders will be able to remain healthy in this time of crisis.
1Wanderer, one of the few significant benefits of socialism is precisely that it scares the rich into being a little less greedy. For that reason, though I’m not at all interested in having a socialist government here in the US — it’s up to people elsewhere what kind of government they want — having a socialist party running around is a helpful resource for Burkean modification of the status quo. Did you realize, by the way, that you disproved your own claim that seizing the levers of power is essential, by noting how many benefits working people in the US had received without there ever having been a socialist government here?
Yorkshire, Marxism is an ideology of the intelligentsia, and so it very quickly took on the hatred the intelligentsia has always directed toward working people.
Irena, no, I hadn’t. Thanks for this.
Flop, exactly. As Eric Voegelin used to say, the promoters of utopian social theories make the mistake of immanentizing the eschaton; in less ornate words, they think that you really can draw a perfect circle if only you do it their way.
Bridge, excellent! As I see it, the five classical planets were discovered sometime before 3500 BC and we still haven’t finished integrating their astrological energies, so it’s no wonder that we’ve made so little progress yet with Neptune’s energy.
NomadicBeer, yes, a case could be made for that. As for revolutions, of course they’re always going to happen. Burkean conservatism aims at less traumatic transformations, but with a clear awareness that they don’t always happen — it’s worth noting, for example, that Burke himself supported the American Revolution.
Clark, I’m not sure I have any suggestions to offer, as I don’t know the culture you’re dealing with, and most of the examples I can think of historically of rich gringos (sorry) coming into a setting like that, and trying to fix everything, ended very, very badly.
Morfran, thanks for this. Yes, as it happens I knew that Wilson was supported by the prerevolutionary Iranian regime — an early book of his on angels had some kind of dedication to that regime, iirc.
Walt F., of course. Monasticism thrives because there’s a non-monastic culture with which it exists in a mutually beneficial relationship. You’re right, too, that a tamanous culture might look like nothing so much as a vast concatenation of different subcultures, with various people drifting from one to another.
Teresa, no, I meant what I wrote. The word you’re missing is “tacitly.” What usually happens is that people who found communities think that they can live a given lifestyle, but they’re mistaken — their own labor will only support a much more restricted lifestyle — and so the gap between the larger amount that they consume and the smaller amount that they produce quickly runs them into bankruptcy.
Violet, you found something more than what you sought; you found stories. That’s a real gain, one of the few things any of us can find in life.
Devin, I’ll be interested to see whether this happens. In the meantime, of course, I maintain the boundaries of this space to allow a diverse range of conversations to take place, and squashing the occasional attempt at entryism is all in a day’s work!
McMahonbristol, hmm! Thanks for the heads up about Bihouix and his ideas — I’ll certainly check it out. If you have links to online writings of his in French, btw, by all means post them — I’m tolerably literate in that language as well.
Jeff, it surely won’t change mine, but if they do get actual vaccine — and actual side effects — that will at least be poetic justice.
Sarah, not at all. Marx is not absent from this discussion; I mentioned him in the relevant place in the post, and he’s been brought up several times by commenters. Mind you, neither I nor my commenters take his ideas any more seriously that we take Fourier’s, but given the dismal performance of Marxist regimes in the 20th century, that’s hardly surprising, now is it?
Anonymous, thanks for this. When you get laid off — and based on what I’ve heard from other people in the higher ed industry, it’s “when” rather than “if” — please publicize the bejesus out of this. People need to know that diplomas from US universities are worth absolutely nothing.
Wesley, to my mind, the issue is that it wasn’t dismantled or quietly closed down — it was left to rot. That’s an indication of quite some importance.
Varun, just one of the services I offer. 😉 Thanks for the heads up on the current state of the left.
Waffles, I like it. Spread the word!
Thanks for this, JMG. It looks like I have a couple potential options; there’s a lodge closer to me than the one up on Lombard. I have to say, though, I like the looks of the North Portland one and the fact that they seem to be pretty active (I also really like the feel of that photo on their webpage, if I’m being honest; it feels like the antithesis of what Portland seems to have unfortunately become!).
I don’t know how far I can get at the moment given Covid restrictions, but I think I’ll put out some feelers and see what they’re up to at the moment, and what the current process is for new members. I appreciate your input on this!
Here is what Elon Musk thinks of degrees.
Is anyone familiar with this Long Now Foundation? I had never heard of it.
What is the difference between a cult that lives in communes, and a Fourier-type commune?
I ask because the Children of God cult are still going, according to Wikipedia, although now rebranded as The Family, and they had communes all over the world at one stage. In Europe in 1973 I used to see them at railway stations where they tried to recruit new members among the travelers. I took one of their pamphlets. It had the lyrics to Don McLean’s “American Pie” on one side (it had some prophetic meaning, apparently), and the words of cult leader Moses David on the other.
Their main attraction, as far as I was concerned, was that their women were rumored to be willing to have sex with anyone. But I never joined them, and I don’t know anyone who did.
Hi JMG and All,
Regarding the crisis and collapse of the Arecibo radio telescope, yeah, I’ve been following that story, and am saddened by it; I’ve had an interest in astronomy since childhood, and am familiar with Arecibo. JMG has already remarked on its significance as a marker of collapse in the US. I’ve been trying to understand why we (the US) can’t simply repair or rebuild it. After all, the price is negligible really, a couple billion $ perhaps, pocket change in the big picture…does not our very own congress “borrow” over a trillion, and simply hand it to over to errant, criminal, or bag-holding, bankers with scarcely any deliberation much less hesitation? From the standpoint of our vaunted elite, Arecibo is a high visibility, prestige ornament that should be amply worth preserving for a mere two billion or so. But no, it’s gone and that’s that. What gives?
Do ya’all remember that big fire last July on the amphibious assault ship, the USS Bonhomme Richard, in San Diego? Well, just now, the US Navy states they will not repair, repurpose or replace it! It will be scrapped. It would otherwise cost at least $2.5 billion, over 5 – 7 years, and that just doesn’t pencil out! I read this article about that decision:
Here’s the money quote:
“…However, Ver Hage said the comprehensive assessments looked at what would happen to the industrial base and new ship construction for the fleet if the Navy opted to rebuild Bonhomme Richard, and the price – not in dollars, but in burden on the industrial base – was too great to justify.”
So it’s okay to print up trillions and simply give it away to the well connected; they’re just going to use it to flip a few electronic bits somewhere, or buy real estate, but a mere billion or two to do something real, albeit unplanned, and it’s ‘Oh, we can’t afford that!’. Yeah JMG, you nailed this way back when. Decline indeed.
@CR Patino re covid vaccine
One of the things I find objectionable about the rushed Covid vaccines is that it is actually unknown if any of them decrease infectivity. It’s not something that was tested for – only if the vaccine decreases mild symptoms. If the vaccine allows significant or increased infectivity (as some do) and also significantly increases the number of asymptomatic cases then it will be very problematic for their patients if medical staff are mass vaccinated first. I am aware of one horse vaccine which was withdrawn from sale here in Australia because of this problem.
This is even aside from the potential for anti-body dependent enhanced response which previous attempts at coronavirus vaccines suffered from but may not crop up for months or years. Then the other random issues which have sometimes affected vaccines. There is a real potential of knocking out a large proportion of police and medical staff if they are mass vaccinated first and there are delayed but widespread issues.
Always enlightening, educational, and entertaining Archdruid, I found myself musing about the timing of Fourier’s life in the context of where he was born and grew up. According to Wikipedia, his father died when he was nine, making him child-heir to a substantial fortune, but perhaps more intriguing to me was that he was a 17-year-old teenager when the Bastille fell. Was that first act of the French Revolution, the subsequent Terror, and the rise of the military dictatorship of Napoleon crucial to determining the landscape of his thoughts? Not having read any of his works (Fourier to me has always meant mathematician, not loopy philosopher), I don’t know how much he may have referred to French social upheaval in his writings.
FMCF’s Wikipedia entry has the following suggestive sentence: “Fourier was deeply disturbed by the disorder of his time and wanted to stabilize the course of events which surrounded him.” Hmmm. Problematic events like the French Revolution do oftentimes have powerful effects on young minds.
I do find it quite amusing that his notion of how to spend one’s free time seems to line up quite well with French predilections now: a worship of food with elaborate multi-hour consumption of same, and an apparently-acute fixation on sexuality. Mon dieu!
As always, many thanks for all that you write and do!
And it looks like reality has beaten me to the punch- Biden announced that he would publicly get the vaccine –
Harris has said that she will take the vaccine as well –
The comment of Anonymous about higher education and no failure is interesting but no real surprise. As soon as it was decided that everyone needed a tertiary education to be employed it was also decided to either lower standards or fail a lot of people. When you hear of employers wanting someone with a degree to answer the phones you know the battle is lost.
@yves vetter: Good for you! (a) debt elimination (b) tangible assets (c) self-sufficient for staples &(d) social. Those are basically the same things I set out for beginning around 2003, when I first got an intuition things might go off the rails and went to the mat. As with you, I have failed – mainly – at developing better social/community connections. I was early, but my decisive action paid off big when 2008 finally hit. It saved me again in 2020, although I wish I’d handled the twelve years between somewhat better.
Back in 2003, I was mostly concerned about what would happen if Americans suddenly got a dose of really hard times and the government — although well intended — couldn’t respond adequately.
Now, I’m more about other things. In particular, while I used to studiously distance myself from any conversations which went too far into “conspiracy” it is hard to look at what has manifest over the last four years as anything other than largely long-term orchestrated. It took decades for the oligarchs to subvert the media, the judicial system, the internet, the educational system, the political system, autarky, the moral compass, and pretty near everything else.
My sense now is there is a great evil hanging over the country, cackling and rubbing its hands, moving in for the kill. Look at it this way: if someone had come out with a book or a movie even ten years ago which posited what we have lived through since then, wouldn’t we regard it as not science fiction but BAD science fiction? Maybe watch The Matrix again?
Although I live somewhat as you apparently do, on a mostly off-the-grid, out-of-sight parcel, outside a metro area, with a large amount of self-produced food (year-round fruit trees, greenhouse, aquaponics, etc) I now am trying to make out of state and out of country preparations. I am disturbed by the prospect of walking away from the people and the preparations I took decades to put in place, but I’d really like to sit out the next year or three doing something more constructive than worrying about civil war vs totalitarian dictatorship.I think it was Santayana who said “Hitler was Germany’s fate, and that fate could not be stayed.”
I have three science/technical degrees. I don’t like to come across as a wing-nut. But the very intuition that led me to make dramatic moves back in 2003-2006, when near everyone else thought the housing bubble was a sign of permanent prosperity, is warning my preparations aren’t enough anymore.
A few days ago I read something from Ray Dalio: “When wars—civil or external—happen you will have to decide whether you want to be in them or get out of them. When in doubt get out. You can always get back in, but you might not be able to get out.” (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/archetypical-cycle-internal-order-disorder-ray-dalio/?trackingId=W0t5Mj1%2BS6OoPlWAHctgMQ%3D%3D)
Thank you for your response JMG
Philippe Bihouix’s main books are:
Quel futur pour les métaux? (2010) – I think this was the starting point. He comes very much from a ‘resource constraint’ perspective.
L’Âge des low tech (2014)
Le désastre de l’école numérique (2016, with Karine Mauvily-Graton), a critique of computers in education
Le bonheur était pour demain (2019)
Some examples of interviews with him which give a flavour of this interests are:
2015 interview https://reporterre.net/La-croissance-verte-est-une-mystification-absolue that picks up a number of the ideas in ‘low tech’
2018 interview https://comptoir.org/2018/02/16/philippe-bihouix-il-faut-reduire-les-besoins-a-la-source/ more on low tech and especially commentary about information technologies (“there is nothing virtual about IT”)
https://usbeketrica.com/fr/article/philippe-bihouix – an article written after ‘Bonheur” was published and picks up the theme of techno-centric utopias in a critique of techno-solutionism
Wikipedia has a useful summary of his work in French. He has quite a following in France, where he participates regularly in discussions and debates.
Thanks for your reply. If you find it useful, here’s a link to the Familistère official site https://www.familistere.com/fr
If you were to pay a visit there, send me an e-mail, I’d bring belgian ale 🙂
Gnat wrote, “For those of you who haven’t thought very much about this process we are having forced on us, or are only a little concerned but figure you have bigger problems right now, just try extracting forward and then imagine trying to mount a complaint when they own everything and can turn off your ‘digital currency’…. I’m curious what others here are doing, or thinking of doing, about it.”
I can’t say as how I plan to do much at all except be as ungovernable as possible, but that’s not so new a habit for me. As for any shiny new rent-seeking scheme, it’s nothing but a wet dream of a doomed elite at this point. Were they succeeding in any way in achieving their delusions of unlimited power, they wouldn’t need to dream up such insane moonshots in the first place.
The elite are headed downhill quite rapidly, and they have no idea how to stop their descent. That’s when elites always cook up this kind of garbage, in a desperate attempt to turn back the inevitable. Their recent obsession with the word “inevitable” and earlier obsession with “TINA” point out pretty clearly what their overarching fear is — they have no more options, no alternatives; their fate is inevitable.
Consider that they haven’t been able to birth any sustainable value creation since before “TINA” was in vogue (they’ve been looting and destroying value for quite a long while now.) Their having to mis-label extraction schemes as “Value-Added Taxes”, kinda makes clear what they simply can no longer do — if they were creative enough to add any value, they already would have. Instead, they can only fantasize about looting and destroying everything, like angry toddlers. They really belong in the time-out chair (for several generations) until their offspring can learn to play well with others. I prefer to think of the Great Reset as a shrieking tantrum of our diapered elite, wailing against the very long nap they’re way overdue for.
Their big propaganda push for their lemonade future is certainly designed to discourage us commoners into a state of stunned despair. But, so far, I haven’t see that playing out as hoped for, especially given the snowballing disregard granted anything coming out of their favored propaganda outlets. The elite are too sheltered and cocooned — all-powerful toddlers that they are — to have any awareness that their messages are only connecting with their own faithful, the low-level PMCs and their wannabes. Inside the elite’s echo chamber, their Great Reset reverberates more like the first move in an upcoming purity purge. Anyone who doesn’t kowtow properly to the elite’s insanely unachievable delusions will get jettisoned from their rapidly shrinking circle of fanatics!! Tremble you mere mortals!!!
That’s somehow supposed to scare us all into groveling obedience, which will then turn their unachievable delusions achievable. Yes, they really are that uncreative. Worrying about their apocalyptic nightmare somehow magically becoming our reality is the despairoin they hope to get us hooked on. Avoid it by contemplating the delusional supposition their whole mythology rests on: that you can keep looting rent out of people you have already bankrupted.
All the rent seeking they have already inflicted has led to uncontainable populist backlash. If they can’t even manage the fledgling resistance to the current imbalanced state, how on earth are they going to control our universal rage once they try to squeeze more blood out of that stone? Perhaps by telling us adorable fairy tales about how, when they finally steal everything, we’ll just love it? I could tell them a few fairy tales that don’t end anywhere near that happily…
NomadicBeer, if you want a biological metaphor for social change, think of a chiropractic adjustment to the body politic. There’s an almighty crunch and the pain is gone. 🙂
Varun, the theory of state capitalism has been around since at least the 1950s when Tony Cliff wrote State Capitalism in Russia. The claim has a lot going for it – slavery, industrialisation, man-made famines, deporting convicts to the colonies – it is like the British Empire on fast-forward. The claim of state capitalism is basically that the Soviet Union acted like one big company competing with the other big companies. Obviously military and imperial competition, not selling consumer goods. Internally there was competition, but not through markets, more like the bureaucratic wranglings between divisions in a company. As for the workers – what’s company housing usually like? What quality of goods are usually sold in the company store?
Yes, I guess you’re right: “effortless” and “through play” are not synonyms. The key is that play is supposed to be fun (even if it requires effort). If it’s not fun, though, then it’s not play, even if the grown-ups insist that it is. 😉
However, I don’t agree that we don’t know what to teach children. Especially in the early grades, it’s pretty straightforward: reading, writing, arithmetic. And for that, traditional approaches work best.
Actually, as I was reading that article that I linked to, it occurred to me that these “child-friendly,” “progressive” teaching methods cheat children twice. The problem is that they’re neither as fun as unstructured play (and sometimes they’re really stressful, as in “the teacher wants something from me, but she won’t say what, whaaaa, Mommy……”), nor as effective as the more traditional approaches. So, if you insist on using “progressive” approaches, you actually reduce the amount of time children can play the way evolution primed them to (because you have to spend more time teaching basic academic skills), and you give them worse educational outcomes, too.
@JMG: “Mind you, neither I nor my commenters take his [Marx’s] ideas any more seriously that we take Fourier’s”
Not so. As you said yourself (in a comment last week): “just as Marx combined a useful analysis of the problems of capitalism with a hopelessly unworkable plan to replace it, you can have a good diagnosis and still have no clue about the treatment.” Why, precisely! Read and learn from his diagnosis. But do ignore his solutions, except perhaps for entertainment purposes.
I haven’t examined the Great Reset in detail, but my general sense of it is a load of executives and upper-manager class type people tossing a load of tech buzzwords into the air to try to make themselves sound relevant and with it.
See for example the words in the section of “Harnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution” on the wheel at https://intelligence.weforum.org/topics/a1G0X000006OLciUAG?tab=publications
It wouldn’t be the first time someone has name-dropped “Blockchain” or “The Cloud” or “The Internet of Things That Spy on You” without really knowing what they are, and why it might be useful in a particular application.
Often some of these seem more like a solution in search of a problem than the other way around.
>What worries ME is, who’s going to design the buildings and bridges?
Oh Lady Cutekitten, there are darker nightmares that lurk out there. Like an American Chernobyl. A nuclear reactor doesn’t care about critical race theory, doesn’t care about white privilege, really doesn’t care about most things other than being more hot and radioactive or less hot and radioactive. And I suppose it can be canceled, although you need to be careful about how you cancel it with extreme attention to detail. You can’t just scream at it and expect it to submit, like Dyatlov did with his underlings at Chernobyl. Because it will scream back at you.
Mark my words, when a mathematical society is declaring math to be racist, it’s only a matter of time before we see this. I’d not park myself next to a nuclear power plant long term.
Seems like “Friends of the Workers” is like a Wolf in Sheepskin. They are the predators and the proletariat is their lunch.
Their malicious intentions is revealed by their actions as soon as the Workers actually took charge which they claim they wanted the Workers to do.
But really workers are just pawns to accomplish their real goals.
Remember that the Soviet Union had a lot of workers shot dead for striking. Labelling them as enemies of the revolution:
Peasants were also massacred.
They being themselves privileged intellectuals destroy the proletariat under the guise of helping or liberating them from oppression.
It’s like anti-slavery slavemasters doing a Jedi mindtrick to accomplish their purposes. Inverting meanings.
Socialism may not work for humanity, but it looks like someone more down to earth is more amenable to it…
And my almost-Alma-Mater just landed in Quillette:
(“Almost” Alma Mater, because I wasn’t actually a Haverford student: I went to its sister school and took about a third of my classes at Haverford.)
I am so deeply embarrassed… Someone in the comments writes: “Entire departments’ faculties simply chose not to teach, and the biology department declared that it would cancel all classes for the rest of the semester, replacing them with seminars on race.” I would’ve been fuming through the ears if they’d pulled this off with one of my classes back when I was there. And quadruply so if the class happened to be in my major.
Anyway, I’m back in Europe now, and I’ve quietly (or not so quietly) been telling anyone and everyone who’ll listen that at this point in time, going to college in the United States is an absolutely terrible idea for any international student, even if (as was the case with me) you get a very generous financial aid package. (It’s also not exactly the best idea for American students, either, but they have fewer options.) I don’t think there’s much else I can do.
re: No-effort Uni diplomas
I guess they must be desperate to retain students. In my way of thinking this is another step of a trend. Before this “no fail” policy, I’ve heard reports that students discovered their grades were negotiable and had little hesitancy to haggle with their professor if they didn’t get the grade they wanted. When professors complained about it, management would take the students’ side. Paying customers and all, I guess. Never underestimate the kids. Word gets around on stuff like this.
I dunno, so much of college consisted of meaningless hoop jumping as I recall that I’m not too judgmental over grade haggling. But no-fail diplomas is taking things just a teeny bit too far. They’re dodging a funding pothole only to steer right into the path of an oncoming semi. Extreme short term thinking.
I suppose one could say something about the inherent contradiction of the profit motive in higher ed – if the main goal is to maximize revenue, instead of maximizing knowledge and skill, well, at some point you’re going to get here.
Off topic but collapse related.
Someone spent the time and effort to monitor and film this – but not the time and effort to fix it or at least decommission it in a controlled manner. This IMHO is a symbol of everything that’s wrong with the 21st century in one video.
Hi John Michael,
Truly and utterly crazy beliefs.
I’m not a fan of communes due to what I describe as the ‘passenger’ problem. A passenger is a person who sits around and does a lot of talking, or has great ideas, for other people to implement.
I spent five hours today digging soil breaking ground on a new project.
Well, I believe that you hit the proverbial nail on the head. None of this stuff makes any economic sense. When the infrastructure behind the various plant systems here on the farm are taken into account, it just would never pay its way. I’m at a loss as to how food stuffs in supermarkets and other markets are supplied to customers at the price that they are on the shelves. So yes, from an economic perspective it makes more sense to go and get a job. And keeping people well fed is a good way to reduce the possibilities of civil disturbances.
However, given that stealth inflation such as reducing quantity and quality is actually an issue, and that applies to food stuffs as well as other stuff, well maybe it is not such a bad idea to produce some of your own stuff.
I tend to believe that it is a problem to expect your food production efforts to produce an income as great as what you can achieve from a job. The system is I believe is deliberately stacked against the possibility of making a decent income off the land. But that does on no way mean that you can’t use off farm income to be able to produce a quality product for your own consumption. I suspect that is the way out of the predicament, but what do I know, I’m just some dude up in the forest. 🙂
Thank you for your wise response. I took a long walk in the moonlight last night and thought about what you wrote especially as it relates to my fiction writing and found much truth in it. Regarding finding more than I sought, my mind goes immediately to Yeats’ _A Vision_ in which he writes: “Christ, it is said, mourned over the length of time and the unworthiness of man’s lot to man, whereas his forerunner mourned and his successor will mourn over the shortness of time and the unworthiness of man to his lot; but this cannot yet be understood.” [Yeats 1961, pp. 136-137] Certainly I feel unworthy to my lot, and this feeling provides an immense, if antithetical, source of inspiration especially regarding creative expression.
Before the English Civil War there were supposedly monstorous births and people seeing strange things in the sky. Are there actually portents like that before something big happens? Is it different to more subtle omens?
Just a short comparison of why it matters if control of housing is local or not (I don’t know of any municipal drone delivery companies – yet!).
If a large share of housing in a town is owned by the municipal housing company (what in England used to be called municipal socialism), and voters are very unhappy with the state of things, they can demand at the next local elections that
– the administration of the company be changed, OR
– that it be broken up, and each building auctioned off individually, with provisions against any buyers accumulating too big a share, OR
– that it be broken up, and each building turned over to a housing cooperative, which will take out a loan to reform it (the building I live in passed through this process in 1981)
It will take a lot of mobilization and organization to make voters’ pressure felt on this point, but if 30-40% of voters in that town take a stand, they can probably make it happen; 51% of voters certainly can.
If, on other hand, after Ida Auken’s Great Reset, most housing in a town is owned by iLiving.com, Inc., headquartered in Delaware or Ireland, then there is absolutely nothing that even 100% of the voters in that particular town can do about management.
Some years ago, James Fallows at the Atlantic travelled to a series of successful small towns all over America and found that a major factor for success (an intact Main Street, civic pride, high employment) was the presence of a local family among the big employers.
Apropos of the Great Reset, when I awoke this morning my subconscious presented me with the memory of Keith Laumer’s sci-fi novel “The Monitors.” In it, Earth is visited by aliens who promise to turn the world into a Utopia…and deliver. The aliens then don’t understand why the humans revolt anyway, until our protagonist explains that humans need a sense of agency. Ultimately a compromise is reached where the humans pay for the improvements. The point being that even if the managerial class do improve the lot of the working class, the latter will resent it because no one likes being treated as an object. I.e. even if this worked it wouldn’t work!
Regarding higher ed,
I have a family member working in higher ed here in Canada, at a mid-tier university. Enrollment is unchanged from 2019. Losses in first-year enrollment were only 1-2% which was made up for by a lower rate of dropouts. Nothing quite so bad as what Anonymous posted is happening. Curricula are being cut about 25% due to the lower efficiency of online learning, and failing grades are still on the menu. The new “cheating-resistant” online test schemes are very frustrating (for instance, everyone gets the test in random order and must submit their final answer before moving on to the next question). Grades are being inflated by about one letter grade, but I am sympathetic – I always did my exams strategically, solving problems in order of competence. I probably owe a good chunk of a letter grade on my final GPA to ‘aha’ moments that let me go back and answer questions that baffled me on first look.
One might question the value of these degrees, but higher ed has yet to start imploding, at least based on what I hear from someone whose job is in higher ed 🙂
About the communes expecting to consume more — I lived without electricity and indoor plumbing when I was a child. You are correct – your labor determines what you can and cannot consume. I remember the shed attached to the summer kitchen (we had two because of the heat from the wood stoves). We filled it to the brim in the fall and rationed out the wood as the winter went on. Northern Maine gets a lot of snow, and we were reluctant to go snowshoeing out anywhere. (Snowshoes was the preferred method since the roads were poor and hardly plowed.)
You end up rationing because you have to figure out the cost of the effort. Water was the same way since we had to walk to a spring to get drinkable water. That was rationed out too. We could get water from the river for washing etc but not drinking.
So the idea of utopia based on human physical efforts is sort of screwy.
One thing that sparked my thinking was the discounting of humans as primates i.e. animals in a specific animal family i.e. great apes. People on the media have been screaming about not gathering in large groups, yet everyone does it. Animal behaviorists have noted that humans are hard-wired to gather in groups. Most primates (except orangs) do live in groups. Few are solitary.
Socialism seems to divorce the human from nature and themselves in nature. It seems to base human behavior on a fantasy that people hold about humans in general – i.e that they are above the animals etc. Of course, Christianity seems to promote the separation of humanity from the natural world. So it would follow that many socialists are secular Christians.
I read blogs by the folks who believe that the matriarchy of yore existed until the bad patriarchs took over. They seem to have the same idealized view of humanity i.e. women that the socialists seem to. Somehow women will restore the balance, etc, and men will be grateful. And we all walk down the garden path into that golden sunset….
Strda221, that’s why I specified modern socialism, as opposed to the older medieval and Renaissance tradition, which was a different kettle of fish — it took its ideology and justification from religious sources rather than secular ones (“When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?”) and relied on a different set of organizational and cognitive structures.
Plenty of modern socialists derive their views from religious sources too. 1930s New Zealand Prime Minister, Michael Joseph Savage called the social democracy of his Government “applied Christianity.”
Honestly, the tree of socialism has so many roots and influences that singling out one person as inventor of modern socialism is really impossible.
As for getting stomped, well, as I noted, socialists before Lenin had a lot of trouble coming up with a way to turn their dreams into realities; the fact that people who would be negatively affected by a socialist takeover fight back against it is one of the issues that has to be dealt with, and generally hasn’t been.,
What the elites of France pulled in 1871 was a bit more extensive than merely “fighting back”, a phrase that almost seems to consider brutal suppression as mere self-defence. By the logic of this terminology, the twentieth century horrors of Marxism-Leninism was just one lot of socialists fighting back in kind, lest they be crushed in their turn, and I don’t think anyone wants to excuse, say, Stalin for merely engaging in self-defence.
(It doesn’t just extend to revolutionary leaders either. I am sure you know how many pesky social-democratic governments over the years have found themselves dealt with via elite power).
@JMG – regarding celibacy, you said:
> Andy, that’s one of the secret sources of strength of the monastic system.
I have a gut feeling that it is a basic, but I’ve no idea why. Is there anything about this you could expand on?
Thank you for this, I’d never heard of them but my weekend arrives in an hour or so, so I have some time for reading.
I’ve always liked one of Woody Allen’s descriptions of a portent. ‘A creature was born with the head of a lion, and the body of a lion (but a different lion)’. We must keep a careful watch on zoos.
Re our predicament, policy-making, and levers of power
I’m trying to arrange my thoughts here, so please bear with me if I ramble. I find myself caught in a storm of conflicting reactions to the relevance and importance of the top-down machinations we’ve been discussing these last few weeks. First off, there is a part of me (the part that still remembers what academia once was and what envisioned it to be) that remains attracted to the abstracted realm of ideas. This is one reason (though not the sole reason) I haunt the Federal Register, the EIA, and the Rand Corp sites. (Gleaning industry information is another.) I got involved in policy-making (albeit at a very local level) by serving on the municipal planning/zoning commission; I ran for city council (and served for three years) because I wanted to get more involved in additional policy-making and I thought I could make a difference. As others in the community who work or have worked at far more esteemed institutions can relate, there’s a vast difference between perception and reality. Furthermore, at the lower levels (where I was), one is frustrated by the mass of bureaucracy above; those operating at higher levels are frustrated by the mass of bureaucracy below, in addition to being abstracted from the real-world. And yet, policy-making is not unimportant, either. There is value in the analysis and presentation of ideas to those who make key decisions, decisions which do have an impact of those of us in the real world (even if the impacts are not those which are intended). So it isn’t that there’s no value in policy-analysis, but there’s a lot of pencil-pushing pretension, too.
What I’m wondering is how does one square this circle? Administration of a nation, just to take one example, requires a certain amount of bureaucracy and policy-analysis. But the dizzying array of think-tanks, government agencies, and other organizations devoted to the glorified task of developing position papers and discussing Very Important Things is clearly parasitic at this point. There are no simple solutions to our predicament, no “getting the right people in power,” but at the same time, there are levers of power which can be used to some degree to make some improvements. For my own part, I know that the vision I’m looking at with regards to some of these entities (“Disney World designed by Woodrow Wilson,” as neptunesdolphins described the Fed–a description that will likely stick with me forever) is an illusion, but that illusion has still great allure and the entities are not completely without influence.
I’m simultaneously attracted and repulsed, resulting in a fair amount of confusion!
@Violet et. al – Violet, your description of your exciting good time on the Left Coast of Bohemia reminds me very much of John Barnes’ novel “A Million Open Doors.” On the colony world of New Occitan, young people move into “the jovent quarter” at adolescence and spend their lives exactly like the one you describe, and it’s truly good fun. (Though, as one of the girls points out later, more for the boys than the girls.) Then there comes a time when you get tired of it, think about marriage, and take up your adult role in society. There are people who never age out, but they’re mild figures of fun, like Shakespeare’s Falstaff. A delightful novel, especially when Our Hero ends up as cultural ambassador to New Caledonia, which combines Calvinism and Ferengi economics in a way that only (pardon me, anyone who shares my paternal ancestry with me) a true – and totally crazy – Scot could think of.
Info, one of the most depressing things about the revolution’s death spiral was it proved a part of Marxist theory right that it really would have been better if it was wrong. There were massive strike waves, a vast number of peasant revolts, anarchist guerrilla armies, and the sailors revolt at Krondstadt. Together they should have easily won and pulled off the ‘third revolution’. That’s the theory that if a revolutionary government gets too authoritarian while defending the revolution, once the danger is passed you can just overthrow it and start again. But all those movements remained scattered, uncoordinated, and mainly concerned with their own local interests. The Bolsheviks always believed that without revolutionary leadership, workers and peasants wouldn’t be able to act as a cohesive force. And once they turned on people and there was nobody else to take up a leadership role, so it largely proved.
I thought this was hilarious – what Nestor Makhno’s flag should have looked like: https://i.redd.it/zsm5opsciot41.png 🙂
Thank you for this analysis, JMG. Going back to the Great Reset, James Corbett links it to the Technocracy movement of the mid-20th century, which Hubbert was part of, and which had very similar goals to the Great Reset/Fourth Industrial Revolution – a detailed micromanagement of the citizens’ energy consumption with the intention of preserving the remaining resources.
With that in mind, I wonder how much of the sci-fi rhetoric of the Great Resetters is actually just window dressing for post-peak resource grab on the part of the desperate elites…
Having said that, Corbett is a peak-oil skeptic, so one should take his analyses with a pinch of salt.
Apropos the reality that actions have consequences (even if modern university students, and many others, have yet to face up to them), tomorrow is the feast of St. Nicholas, which means tonight is Krampusnacht. So…
A merry Krampustide to all!
And JMG, I’ve been singing your delightful parody, “Krampus the Yuletide Devil”, all morning. Thank you for that!
@ JMG @Goldenhawk
Neptune doesn’t represent any old dream. It’s dreams are about unity – with other people and the Divine realms, so it includes spirituality, extrasensory observations, magic and ritual; daydreaming, fantasy, fairy tales, ghost stories etc. “Neptune-energy isn’t mortal and has nothing to do with the concrete, tangible world in which we live. It has everything to do with the invisible worlds in which our lives are intertwined and includes connections with the ethereal body and the aura that psychics can see around the human body.” No wonder people have such a hard time manifesting their Neptunian visions in the real world.
I read an astrologer who said that 80% of clients with strong Neptunes are a mess as it is something very few can handle. I was thinking that monasteries are a good way to contain the Neptunian dream without the usual pitfalls as there is a good dose of Saturnian discipline, acceptance of hard limits and austerity involved. Maybe that’s the only way to contain Neptune outside of the arts.
I had a look at Fourier’s chart and Sun conjunct Mercury is the least of it. That’s a very common aspect by the way – our host has it. Fourier has a grand trine involving Neptune, Uranus and Pluto / MC. He also has a 6th house Neptune opp. to Mars in the 11th. That and the Sun / Mercury in the 12th adds to the overall fishiness of his chart. No wonder magical oceans feature so heavily in his Utopia.
However, he has an afflicted Saturn (quelle surprise!) which is retrograde and in detriment and is opposed to Jupiter and square Uranus. What people tend to do is escape into their grand trines, (if they have one) to avoid the more difficult aspects of their charts. Fourier is no exception and I think the reason he was so influential is because he articulated what many with strong Neptunes also wanted, and still do. The results are always predictable, but people have to learn the hard way, so Saturn has the last laugh.
I should add in my anecdote, the university in question has experienced 2-3% year-over-year first-year student enrollment, so merely maintaining the status quo is decline. I expect that part of the ‘Great Reset’ agenda that will get implemented in Canada is a massive money shoveling and young-person-occupying operation to train people to make AIs that tilt windmills or something, so this might not be the peak.
Has anyone here ever shared an apartment with roommates? Ha apply that to communes and all the other schemes that our “betters” cook up. Won’t work, three people can’t even get along in an apartment let along the entire world. Christophe had an excellent comment and its a good frame of thinking, the “elites” are their own worst enemies.
Andy, I have the arms of an ectomorph, the torso of an endomorph, and the legs of a mesomorph I AM THE PORTENT
>The system is I believe is deliberately stacked against the possibility of making a decent income off the land. But that does on no way mean that you can’t use off farm income to be able to produce a quality product for your own consumption
I’m not sure it’s about money too much anymore, especially as things collapse. There’s a certain erosion of trust going on, where you’re never quite sure how many corners your average megacorp is cutting to sell food to you. When it’s DIY, you don’t have that same trust issue. You know exactly what you’re eating. I’m guessing Ms Auken never factored in the costs of a society where you cannot trust the principal actors in it but are completely dependent on them.
I’ve just now realized what it is that so many people love so much about socialist regimes. A quick overview of popular ideas of “the afterlife” shows a common theme that there is believed to be a reward zone for the righteous, which – while its details vary somewhat from one religious denomination to another – typically includes creature comforts and indolence for everyone present while all responsibility is washed away by a powerful stream of Divine Grace. Socialism promises to give them all that in the here and now while “somebody else” does all the work and suffers any and all ill consequences.
Even if our universities haven’t gone quite as far as no-fail, I can report from Canada by way of first-hand experience that in a contest between a university-educated engineer and a competent hands-on technical specialist with no degree but various relevant industry training, the engineer gets laid off first.
Joel, you’re most welcome.
Martin, a religious cult has the same dynamic as a monastery — you can get people to accept a very sparse standard of living, and throw out anyone who doesn’t follow the rules. You’re right that I should have included a reference to that!
Apprentice, good. It’s a telltale sign that the US government can come up with infinite amounts of paper wealth so long as it’s going to stay paper, but coming up with money for actual goods and services is somehow much less easy. Walking the fine line between hyperinflation and debt default has already become very tricky!
Bryan, oh, I’m sure that had quite a bit to do with it. The convulsions of the French Revolution and its aftermath left a mark on Europeans that took a long, long time to fade.
Waffles, excellent! Now let’s see if we can get Pelosi to do the same thing. 😉
JillN, the battle may be lost but the war goes on. As that sort of obsession with gatekeeping via university credentials continues, talented people who don’t want to put up with the nonsense will do other things with their lives, and the world will shift accordingly.
Mcmahonbristol, many thanks for this!
Sebastien, and many thanks for this as well! I’ll let you know.
Irena, of course I should have specified his proposed solutions, rather than his flawed but useful critique.
Mawkernewek, I hope you’re right. If it turns out to be a technocratic brain fart, we’ll all be better off.
J.L.Mc12, anthills and beehives have been a source of inspiration for socialists for a long time. What they tend to forget is that in a beehive, the drones are turned out to starve…
Irena, yes, I saw that. I agree with you — at this point, going to a US university is a total waste of time.
Chris, that’s an excellent point, and it will become even more so as economic contraction accelerates and the entire system begins to come unglued due to all those people whose income depends on rent-seeking and other parasitic behaviors. Once it becomes impossible for productive businesses to break even, what you can provide for yourself, your family, and your local network is what you’ll have left.
Violet, no surprises there — we’re in the 28th phase at this point, and so the new influx is beginning to make itself felt.
Yorkshire, the traditional lore has it that such things happen. I don’t know of a good explanation.
RPC, that sounds like Laumer!
Justin, you’re in Canada. The crazed degeneration of higher education into a learning-free “college experience” is a US phenomenon, as far as I know; the US is also going through a drastic contraction in the higher education industry — I know people in higher ed, talented, successful, with tenure and a long string of publications to their credit, who have gotten their layoff notices this autumn.
Neptunesdolphins, I once published an article in a Neopagan magazine pointing out that the rhetoric of feminist Neopaganism was all borrowed from evangelical Christianity, with the ancient matriarchies as Eden, testosterone as original sin, and so on. They were not amused.
Strda221, a fine job of quibbling. Of course the older tradition of religious socialism lingered in Christian circles and influenced some later experiments; that doesn’t change the fact that Fourier and the fad for his ideas marked the beginning of the modern secular socialist movement. As for socialists facing pushback and losing, here again, as long as you insist on seeing every resistance to socialist ideas as the work of evil elites, you’re going to generate an endless series of monsters to fight, and tolerably often the monsters will win.
Adwelly, I discussed it earlier in the comment thread. It has to do with keeping other emotional commitments from taking precedence over commitment to the monastery.
David BTL, it’s confusing! There’s no simple way to solve that problem, and as with any other attempt to square a circle, the best you can do is work out a functional approximation. That’s why politics is the art of the least bad solution.
Luke, I suspect he’s quite correct in that. It makes even more sense if peak oil is real, because then it’s not just a power grab, it’s a desperate attempt to hold onto a crumbling lifestyle.
Barefootwisdom, thank you for this!
Bridge, no, my Sun and Neptune are five signs apart.
Thinking of bees and ants, the game Alpha Centauri has a faction called the Human Hive. Their ideology is a combination of Confucianism and Maoism. Check out the names of their cities: https://civilization.fandom.com/wiki/Human_Hive_(SMAC). Somebody really enjoyed coming up with those. 🙂 (apologies for the obnoxious adverts on Fandom wikis)
John, Irena, Justin, et alia–
Re US higher ed
It’ll be interesting to see if attending a Canadian university becomes de riguer among US elites in the near future…
Ladykitten, I’m not sure if this will make you feel better or worse, but Engineering school has never taught anyone how to build bridges. Engineering programs reaches a series of skills, like how to calculate a load, but mostly they pummel students with work to teach you how to do math on a deadline and finish a project under quirky or incomplete guidance. Just like the real world. Every company I’ve worked for (I’ve been in engineering management for 20 years now) does training of their Engineers on how to design and manufacture what they sell, and the more stringent applications, like nuclear or civil, have additional certifications and oversight like licenses to make up the gap.
So there have always been lousy engineers coming out of school. They fail the competency tests before they’re hired sometimes, sometimes they’re hired and then get shunted around an organization until they end up in some corner desk where they get very little authority. This isn’t a perfect strategy, but so far most of the smaller factories I work with are entirely unaffected by college nonsense. I do see some disturbing trends in places like Boeing, who have caused themselves to hemorrage money. But smaller more functional places don’t have the bandwidth or working capital to waste on engineers that can’t do math. There are a lot of students coming in for a world of hurt in their post college interview processes, and I’m confident in my ability to deal them that pain.
Arecibo Observatory – drone and ground view during the collapse & pre-collapse historical footage
“This video, that starts with a view of the top of Tower 4, was taken from the vantage point of an Arecibo Observatory drone, utilized for monitoring the condition of Tower 4 support cables. Four cables are seen in the center of this video. The top cable does not support the telescope platform, but instead supports the catwalk described in the narrative for the previous video. The three lower cables are, from left to right, M4-1, M4-2, and M4-3. Note that a number of individual wire strands of the M4-1 and M4-2 cables are noticeably broken at the beginning of this video. The M4-3 cable does not appear to have any broken wires at the beginning of this video. The first indication of the coming failure is the breaking of another M4-2 wire, accompanied by a puff of “smoke” and chips of paint flying away from the surface of the cable. Four seconds later the entire M4-2 cable appears to disintegrate. The failure of M4-2 is followed a fraction of a second later by the demise of M4-1, followed a fraction of a second later by the failure of M4-3. The drone operator then swings the drone around to view the reflector dish and fallen platform, azimuth arm, Gregorian dome and the falling cables and catwalk. The top section of Towe 12, near the Visitor Center, can be seen tumbling down the hill to the left of the operations building. The Tower 12 backstay cables that connect the top of Tower 12 to the ground cause damage behind Tower 12, well away from the edge of the telescope dish.”
Mankind longs to return to the Primeval Mythical Paradise of Eden. Perhaps we were truly expelled from there.
This longing for Paradise however is cruelly exploited as is shown in history. Christians of course believe that there can be no return to paradise or even an even better paradise than previous without God and Christ.
This is the appeal of Christianity in addition to the promise of Theosis or Union with God.
“Anthills and beehives have been a source of inspiration for socialists for a long time. What they tend to forget is that in a beehive, the drones are turned out to starve…”
Plus there is far less room for individual agency and uniqueness compared to most mammalian species. In addition to the far less dignified role of the male in the form of drones to just breed with the queen and being a drag on the entire colony shortly before they die living far shorter lifespans than their female counterparts.
So these communes were set up with their failure baked in from day one? And no one noticed?
That is utterly delusional.
Thank you for explaining further. I should have known better than to question that any group of people could be so deliberately clueless and willfully incompetent.
Regarding Anonymous’s comments on university grades. Thank you. I have two college students and both have told me their peers don’t show up for class or turn in work. I figured schools must be just passing these students.
I work for a Canadian university, and have heard rumours we won’t fail anyone too. Sadly, the state of higher education is fairly bad here, and about to get a lot worse. We’re rapidly picking up most of the bad ideas from the US…..
“And yes, it [the Great Reset] will happen,” Kerry continued. “And I think it will happen with greater speed and with greater intensity than a lot of people might imagine. In effect, the citizens of the United States have just done a Great Reset. We’ve done a Great Reset. And it was a record level of voting.”
Thank you for that deeper look into Fourier’s fascinating chart. I appreciate your insights on Neptune and the potential balancing influence of Saturn…apparently not very strong in his case.
So I guess the moral of the story here is, when socialism gives you lemons (which it does, invariably, in spades), then make (oceans of) lemonade.
Amusingly and ironically, I can remember once reading an anecdote about life in Poland not too many years after the installation of communism following World War II. A lady was visiting a grey-market food stall, and was surprised to see the vendor had a number of fresh lemons for sale, which she not been seen in many years. She asked the price of one lemon, and simply laughed at the vendor when he stated the price, as it was so high that it was wildly beyond her budget. So ironically, although socialism may give one many metaphorical lemons, apparently it provides very few literal ones.
@JMG – in a comment reply you say “The Great Reset has giant corporations taking the role filled by the state under Stalinism, and that’s a noteworthy difference.”
This certainly casts Bezos, Gates, Zuckerberg, Brin, Page, Bloomberg, the Waltons and the Koch’s (among others) in an interesting light as Stalin’s stand-ins.
I’ve been saying for a while that a billionaire is indistinguishable from a central economic planner – only the bureaucracy they are using to plan, and execute their plans with, is private.
Re US higher ed
I’m going to compound the Ecosophian sin committed by a fellow commenter above and reference Ms. Rand and her screed-ridden magnum opus in a positive light. As I think on the situation the US higher ed system is putting itself in, I can’t help but think of the story told by the tramp that Danny finds on her train, the tramp who once worked at the factory where young John Gault was an engineer and which was taken over by the heirs of the former owner to be run on the principle of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” The part that parallels for me is where the heirs we’re using the company name as a sort of magic talisman (in the broadly understood sense of “magic”), coasting on its reputation, but then once the low quality of the output became well-established, the talisman worked in reverse. I’m wondering if US universities aren’t headed for a similar situation.
(And, more on topic with this week’s post and socialism generally, I also wonder if Ayn Rand wasn’t something of a mirror-Marx in that her critique of “real world” socialism was accurate, but her proposed solution was just as unworkable as his. And does this mean that it might be worth reading Atlas Shrugged and Das Kapital in parallel? If one extracted the critiques and set aside the unworldly proposals in each, might a functional solution emerge?)
“Yes, as it happens I knew that Wilson was supported by the prerevolutionary Iranian regime — an early book of his on angels had some kind of dedication to that regime, iirc.”
Oh sure I assumed you’d likely know that connection sorry; I just thought I’d mention Knight’s book for any interested commentariat. And you’ve just reminded me I have a copy of that Angels book too. I think I saw the dedication years ago but had no context to understand it.
It looks like the vaccine will be “not mandatory” in Canada, in the sense that if you don’t mind having your basic civil liberties curtailed and being made to wear goofy protective wear, you don’t have to get the vaccine if you don’t “want” to. Also applies to children and school.
JMG and Commentariat,
I would like to share a meditation:
I set my sights on the cosmic, and I saw there a red cap. It’s embroidered logo reads “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” but the tag says it is made in China.
An invisible hand takes the hat and dips it into bright green ink. A cheap, flimsy vinyl sticker is placed over the logo. It now reads: “GREAT RESET!”
I think: Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, whichever wing of the bird you identify with, and I hope we don’t get fooled again. “There is nothing new under the Sun.” But I also have heard gossip and whispers of strange thunder, and as I turn my gaze to the Heavens, see that Saturn once again attempts to swallow up Jupiter….
I look around my own home: besides for my Greatest Generation grandparents, I’m perhaps the only one in my direct line of ‘descent’ that has ever ‘owned’ a home, going back at least five generations of poor miners and field laborers. And here’s a turntable, and hundreds of second-hand vinyl I picked up cheap or was simply handed over by my elders, before hipsters drove up the cost.
I look to myself: For What it’s Worth, I’m a self-identified lefty, mid-thirties millennial. As for me and my household? Well I think we will keep listening to the song of the Five Bards:
“There’s something happening here/ what it is, ain’t exactly clear./ There’s a man with a gun over there,/ telling me: I got to beware./ I think it’s time we stop, children,/ what’s that sound?/ Everybody look what’s going down…There’s battle lines being drawn/ and nobody’s right, if everybody’s wrong./ Young people speaking their minds/ gettin’ so much resistance, from behind…”
> It makes even more sense if peak oil is real, because then it’s not just a power grab, it’s a desperate attempt to hold onto a crumbling lifestyle.
You might find this amusing then: https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2020-peak-oil-era-is-suddenly-upon-us/
I could not get it to make a link but I saw a news story that if you get the Covid vaccine you’ll get a 2-part ID card showing you had both shots.
On the principle of never explaining by malice that which is explained by stupidity, I think They actually believe that WE believe Them (they’ve only been lying to us for 50 years) and that we’ll be lining up wanting that shot. To the contrary, I suspect the U.S. government will be stuck with millions of doses they can’t pay anyone to take. I will only take it if it hasn’t killed s significant number of people in 2 or 3 years.
This is quite tangential to the OT, so feel free to delete, I have a copy and can post again at the next open post!
Wesley, talking about your sci-fi project, you compared the size of Alaska to the “core homeland of Faustian civilization: England and France plus the Low Countries”. In the spirit of friendly inquiry, what time period are you thinking of? Because in any period up to at least 1600, Northern Italy at least would be a very important part of the core area…
Actually, this stirred up memories of a long past fiction project of mine. It seems to me that while, according to economic historians, the first stirrings of economic recovery at the end of the 9th and then during the 10th century can be observed at the border of what was to become Latin Christendom (Latium and Catalonia), these were really spill-overs from the vibrant economy of the Muslim states of Spain and Southern Italy, and of the Eastern Roman Empire. The (still very modest) foundation for the later occidental culture is to be sought between Normandy and Saxony, Northumberland and Tuscany, with the centre of gravity near the middle or northern Rhine. In Germany specifically, places like Hildesheim, Corvey, Gandersheim, Goslar, Quedlinburg had an importance in the 10th and 11th century that they would never again recover. I have seen with my own eyes the residues of a fresco of the Odyssey painted in the 10th century by monks in Corvey.
The spark for my project was the observation that the twin battles of Las Naves de Tolosa and Bouvines, 1212/14, seem to have shifted the centre of gravity to the south. The last emperor with any real interest in northern Germany, Otto IV. from the Welf dynasty, lost his throne. Christian rulers conquered large parts of Hispania, while the Paris-based Capetians, for the first time, exercised real power over the Languedoc; both Hispanic and French dynasties soon battled for the south of Italy. The imperial Roman past and the contact with other cultures were to play a much greater role than before – just think of the translations of Aristotle.
Well, you can imagine that like in any alternative history timeline, the two battles went the other way. The nascent European civilization was more Germanic and Celtic and regarded the Mediterranean civilization as definitely something of the past. In my mind, I thought of Heian Japan, which venerated T’ang culture, but had lost all contact to contemporary China. I won’t bother you with the details, this was just a pleasant memory recalled by the twin reference to the homeland of Faustian civilization and to a fiction project!
You know The Revolution is really here when:
NPR says “Freemasons say they are needed more than ever”
Bloomberg announces “The Peak Oil Era is Suddenly Upon Us”
Well, all right, NPR’s axes are audibly being ground in this one, but they actually talked to and listened to and quoted actual Masonic Lodge members.
Well, John, you said it first, long ago!
Huh, I was not aware of that, good to know.
@Matthias, re the size of Alaska vs. the “core homeland of Faustian Civilization,”
I wasn’t actually thinking of a specific time period – and to be honest, I don’t actually know enough about Europe in the High Middle Ages to comment intelligently on the question of where it’s exact borders should be. But even though I only mentioned Great Britain, France, and the Low Countries, you can actually add in all of Italy and Germany too and still have less land than Alaska. Alaska is huge.
David BTL, my guess is that it’ll be a European university instead, but I could be wrong.
Info, of course. That’s why hive-based life forms evolve so very slowly, compared to life forms that push selection on an individual level.
Teresa, exactly. It’s very common for people from relatively privileged backgrounds to have no clue about how much work it takes to support their lifestyles, and communes have always drawn from the privileged — mostly middle-class idealists who’ve had limited interactions with the real world. (That was true in Fourier’s time, in the Sixties, and at every point in between.) So most communes are created by people who have no idea how much hard work they’re letting themselves in for, and who blithely assume that they can dawdle around comfortably while the crops grow themselves, because they’ve never learned otherwise. They then discover this the hard way, as Bronson Alcott did. The Fruitlands commune ran out of money and imploded in seven months.
Another, thanks for the data point!
Denis, Kerry is exactly the sort of clueless elite numbskull I’d expect to be saying such things.
Alan, I’d say rather that when socialists promise you oceans of lemonade, you’re being sold a lemon.
Scotlyn, exactly. Nor is this anything new — I’ll have some things to say about the railroad barons later this month. Stalinism was simply what happens when government gets into the predatory-capitalism business.
David BTL, even a blind mouse can find a broken clock, if you will. Rand grew up in Russia during the last years of the Empire and the first decade of the Soviet Union, so she had a chance to see a lot of the problems with Marxism first hand.
Morfran, good heavens, you don’t have to apologize!
Devin, you might add to your meditation the blue hats that Democrats are starting to wear, saying “Made America Great Already.” Which is the conservative party, again?
Daniel, did you read the article? It’s a rehash of typical industry talking points, insisting that we’ve hit peak oil demand — the supply’s just fine, and soon we’ll have so much cheap green power that petroleum production will go away. The thing to keep in mind is that this sort of thing also blossomed all over the internet just before the last oil supply shock.
Your Kittenship, oh, I expect a significant number of people will line up to get the vaccine. (Look for the people who have masks on when they’re alone inside their cars — they’ll be in that line.) I hope for their sake that an experimental vaccine of a type never before approved for use on humans, that’s been rushed through the testing process so quickly that there’s no data at all on middle- or long-term effects, and has a serious risk of setting off severe immune system reactions with a sharply increased risk of autoimmune diseases, will turn out to be perfectly safe anyway…
Patricia, thanks for these. Both of ’em are rehashing standard talking points, but the fact that they’re talking about either issue — yeah, that’s an important sign.
Why do you so complacently accept the result of a stolen election? Do you not think it right and appropriate to fight? Will you ever vote again? If so, why?
Thanks for the clarification on the how you see the Great Reset in light of Biden vs. Trump. I wasn’t really making that connection, mostly because I’m in the corner of the Tin-Foilers who believe the puppet masters are pulling the strings no matter who is eventually sworn in as President.
COVID has really accelerated the Long Descent. And it’s not just the natural process of society running over the cliff due to overshoot – we’re being picked up and booted over the edge by the uber-wealthy in addition to the organic de-growth. The useful idiots will be doing a lot of the heavy lifting, until realizing too late they’re being tossed off the cliff too.
2020 will be remembered as a turning point when the smoke grew thick. 2021 should see the flames grow high, and the winds pick up, and the game of musical chairs begin in earnest The Great Reset means off to the poor farm for many of us – if we’re lucky.
Neptunesdolphins wrote, “Animal behaviorists have noted that humans are hard-wired to gather in groups. Most primates (except orangs) do live in groups.”
That read to me as a terribly contradictory pair of sentences until I suddenly realized you were referring to orangutans, not humans, which then made me laugh at the absurdity of my confusion. In Bahasa Indonesia “orang” means person or man, and “hutan” means forest, making “orangutan” the man of the forest. Technically, the plural of orang would be orang-orang, but English’s plural “s” is showing up everywhere in modern Indonesian.
So your sentence read pretty smoothly to me as “most primates, but not humans, live in groups.” So much for learning a foreign language helping me to better understand my own! Now I just seem to mix them up willy-nilly — Indoingris, as it’s known in Indonesian. Thanks for the completely unexpected laugh.
Yes, I read the article. And that is why I thought you may find it amusing, rather than revelatory :-).
But also, in all seriousness I think that demand vs supply is somewhat beside the point as this to me signals a shift in the public conversation. For the first time I can recall, oil demand tapering off (in the present) is now an approved narrative. It will take some time before before it is obvious that renewables are not filling the gap, but nevertheless we are a step closer to the admission that total energy demand is also dropping.
Your Kittenship, I’ve become convinced that ‘don’t ascribe to malice that which can be explained by stupidity’ is a belief the malicious rely on…
Dear Mr. Greer, et all: Another new book hit the library new list, tonight. Applies to what some people have been discussing, this week.
“Land: How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped Our Modern World.” (Simon Winchester, author of “The Professor and the Madman.”) Might be worth a look? Lew
Though it is still a bit early for the full festivities here in Pennsylvania, I raise a toast to you all with wishes for an enchanted Krampusnacht. May your tongues never be dry and your sacks always fill themselves!
For anyone whose Krampusnacht wish list this year included a festive Krampus carol in English, give a listen to any of the following:
A Merry Krampusnacht to all, and to all a good fright!
I haven’t yet seen a lone driver wearing a mask, but if I did, I’d probably just give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that it was Company Policy and that she was afraid that if she didn’t wear it, another employee would see her and turn her in. And then I’d chuckle quietly to myself because it does look very silly.
Totally not silly and justified by science: a friend in Ohio, where I used to live, tells me their governor has imposed a 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew. Science has proven you can only catch the virus between those hours.
@JMG: “I hope for their sake that an experimental vaccine of a type never before approved for use on humans, that’s been rushed through the testing process so quickly that there’s no data at all on middle- or long-term effects, and has a serious risk of setting off severe immune system reactions with a sharply increased risk of autoimmune diseases, will turn out to be perfectly safe anyway…”
It *may* turn out to be perfectly safe. Well, it *might*.
And if it does, it’ll have created a precedent for rushing vaccines through without proper testing. And then the next one (and if not the next one, then the one after that) will do what people fear the COVID one will. Sometimes, one gets away with an astonishing level of stupidity unscathed. (Yes, my friends, there is such a thing as blind luck.) Getting away with it time and again is significantly more difficult, as basic probability will tell you.
Please feel free to delete this question if it’s off topic, but given the fact that that this post, like the previous one, refers to the WEF, I wanted to ask something that’s related to what the MSM is chattering about, namely, that Deepmind has solved the problem of protein folding.
Is it actually a breakthrough, or is it just an exaggeration followed by self-congratulations? I suspect the latter because it’s being trumpeted loudly as ’50 year old biology problem solved!’ or something of the sort by the usual techno-utopian news outlets. I mean, we’re already past the point of diminishing returns in biology, let alone other fields, so I’m very sceptical of such announcements.
David BTL: “It’ll be interesting to see if attending a Canadian university becomes de riguer among US elites in the near future…”
JMG: “my guess is that it’ll be a European university instead, but I could be wrong.”
And then there’s a third option: the elites will stop sending their children to university, and they’ll simply open elite clubs (with very expensive membership fees; ya know, kinda like tuition at a private university, only without any financial aid) that’ll allow their children to mingle with other elite children, and all that without having to compete for the spot with those nerds from poor, but ambitious (often immigrant) families. And why not? Isn’t the whole point of attending Harvard et al to make the right connections? And if you’re actually interested in academic knowledge, what exactly do you gain by going to Harvard, as opposed to a public university with a strong Honors program? So, just create “Harvard” without those pesky academics to hold you back.
To be sure, some academically inclined Americans from the upper middle class may indeed “migrate” to Europe for higher education. But that’s assuming they’re after education! If they’re after “leadership” (whatever that means), then why bother?
To David by the Lake and JMG,
One data point, Americans are not qualified to attend the University of Vienna, unless it’s as a temporary study abroad student through an American university. The college-prep Gymnasium curriculum is more rigorous than an American high school diploma. The closest equivalent I can think of is if an American high school student completed the entire International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum at their high school, and tested well, then they might be allowed to apply, provided they also have C1 level German.
There is an American international private high school here, for children of UN workers and such, but graduating from there does not qualify you to apply to public universities in Vienna. There’s information explaining that on their website, and they specify that students have to opt-in to their IB classes, take all of them and pass the tests, in order to apply. A friend who teaches there concurs. There is a private American university here that is super expensive and apparently easy on academics, so those who are rich and don’t want to study can get the regular American high school diploma and go there.
A friend of mine showed me his booklet for the national math exam that he had to take as a final-year Gymnasium student, even though he was planning to study Humanities in college. From my hazy days of taking Advanced Placement Calc 1 & 2 in the US, I recognized derivatives and integrals. There were things I didn’t recognize that might have been differential equations, in the realm of Calc 3 & 4 in America, I don’t know, but even a Humanities major had to pass what in the US would count as two semesters of calculus.
One alternative to the college-bound Gymnasium is the working-class bound Hauptschule, but even there the US high school diploma falls short. A friend of mine who works in retail went through Hauptschule and he started doing on-the-job internships at age 13. He also studied bookkeeping at school for small and medium-sized businesses, so when he graduated at 16, he could not only work a retail job, but close out the accounting at the end of the night, and other managerial duties.
This may be slightly off-topic, but is certainly germane to the general focus of this blog: I just read a story this morning about how Barnes and Noble’s new CEO has decided to make a major change in how their bookstores are run. He is going to focus on making the stores more local, and give much more control to the individual booksellers, thus allowing them to focus on local environments and tastes in books, and include more books by local authors. Previously B&N dictated the books that all the stores should sell, how they should display them, etc. Those decisions will now be made the the local bookstores themselves. It’s a financial risk, but the new CEO believes it is the right time to do this, and may in fact be the only way to save traditional bookselling.
John Kerry is the poster child of clueless elite, isn’t he? When I think of people who failed upward, he immediately comes to mind. I can’t believe he was a presidential candidate in 2004 and secretary of state for four years under Obama.
Which brings to mind your point about corporations being the new Stalin. Proof of that idea could be found in seeing the idiotocracy of American elected and appointed leadership. We’ve had decades of presidential candidates in particular that are just so awful. It was especially glaring when the Republicans offered 19 candidates and the Democratic 23. So many individuals and I couldn’t find one that I supported without hesitation. And none had policies that I agreed with enough to send money to their campaign. Many of my friends felt the same way. Matt Taibbi calling it a clown show comes to mind.
And now they have effectively shown that we can’t hold an election. How likely is it that people will vote again for change? My neighbors have already stated they will never vote again and they regularly put up political signs and donate. I told them they needed to double down in their efforts rather than walk away from it. Get involved locally (they don’t go to township or county meetings that I attend) and encourage others to do so.
One of the jokes we tell in our house is “can we just have a video montage now?” when we have a project that takes days of work. We know logically that the work will take that long, but our brains are so trained by television and movies that it all can be done in 30 seconds and shown with a few highlight moments. The joke breaks the training.
But as long as people want one right answer implemented quickly for everyone as you noted above with the Spengler view, then i guess we have our work cut out for us. I also would say that making sure our own brains are free of the spells cast by the media is most helpful.
@Clark – sounds like you’re walking into a dicey situation – a rich, visible outsider coming into a depressed rural village to buy Land, dispossess the owner (no matter how feckless) and tell the locals how to farm and live? Even worse if you are successful in farming. You may not see it that way but even if your wife comes from the area I bet some of the locals will resent you heaps. In a collapse situation that makes you very vulnerable to farm invasion – plenty of newspaper accounts from South Africa, Venezuela and Argentina, all hideous. Lots more historically.
Also why permaculture? – Guatemala has been farmed for aeons. There must be a local, sustainable, subsistence farming tradition heavily bound up with the local culture and all the bugs already ironed out. I’m sure it involves trees and can be understood through the permaculture prism if that’s important to you. Presumably it’s been abandoned for cash cropping (you mention corn and mudslides) and is probably seen as deeply unfashionable by the younger generations. It would seem much easier to make it your life’s work to learn and practice the old ways, thus demonstrating their worth and encouraging continuation.
Based on my family background in a poor, insular but admittedly completely different farming area, I would think your best chance of success is integration via an older childless relative/couple or former neighbour of your wife. Offer yourselves as unpaid apprentice farm hands in return for bed and board. Gain a reputation for humility and always being willing to lend a cheerful hand around the village, learn the local dialect well, never say anything bad about anyone, develop some highly regarded village skills like music making, brewing, well digging etc.
In 10-15 years you will have hopefully proved yourselves (as with any migrant this is likely to mean needing to work at least twice as hard as anyone else). If so, you’re in a position to offer to look after the old relative for the rest of their lives in return for getting formally or informally adopted by them and then eventually inheriting the farm. Do a good job of looking after the relative and the farm and your descendants will eventually be fully accepted though people will still talk about your family as ‘new comers’. I guess in JMG’s terms you’re looking to flatter other people’s pride and enable their laziness to the point that they like you enough to protect you from the criminal gangs/warbands and won’t themselves prey on you.
If you do not want to put in the effort to integrate then penniless wanderer (tinker, missionary teacher, etc – the important bit is to deflect envy by living a lifestyle people can feel superior to and unthreatened by) and feudal lord (if you are determined to buy land – suggest reading Machiavelli for info how to manipulate relevant vices and virtues) are reasonably successful traditional strategies.
YMMV, good luck
It seems that the feminist Neopagan people have a lot in common with people who believe in socialism. Somewhere along the way, we left Eden and need to get back somehow. How that happens is baked in the belief system of man (or woman) overcoming their animal natures (i.e. original sin). Somehow, being human doesn’t factor into to Paradise.
I’m not JMG, but here’s my answer to your excellent questions. They really get to the heart of the matter.
The thing about stolen elections is that each side always has attempted to steal every election, at least since the middle 1800s. To some extent, their efforts cancel one another.
The really important point in our system is that the balance of power shifts from one party to another from time to time. Without that sort of random balancing our system of giovernment would fail. If it takes election-stealing to ensure that the balance of power does shift, them I’m all for election-stealing … just so each side continues to try to do it.
Can you imagine anything more horrible than the United States being governed exclusively by one (or by the other) of our two major parties for a century or more. The nation could never survive!
As many have said, “the Perfect is the worst enemy of the Merely Good Enough.” The road to Hell in politics is paved with seductive, appealing ideologies and ideals for governing one’s polity.
COVID vaccines – Why do thoughts of poisonous starfish dance in my head…
I usually have multiple tabs open and switching between them sometimes two sentences can blur together. In this case it was one spoken and one written. What I got was ‘the neo-liberal wine press’. And it was a video about the end of days and the ‘wine press of nations’. Looks like synchronicity is not being optimistic today. 🙂
Thinking on the issue of whether social arrangements stress vices or virtues, and I cannot help noticing that scale has a great deal to do with it. For example, if they only had themselves to rely on for the enactment of their wishes, neither Stalin nor Hitler would have, nor could have, done nearly as much harm – by orders of magnitude. Maybe abuse and traumatise a small circle of people, maybe maim and kill a few people. These are not small harms, by any means, but tiny in comparison with the harms each actually accomplished as the driver of a vast social machine made of people, through whose energies and efforts they could work their will upon the world. They were both rather successful at harnessing the energies of vast numbers of people, and focussing them on a single set of purposes.
It seems to me that the potential reach of the harm that can be prompted by a bad idea, or even by what appears to be a good idea, depends hugely on the size and scale of the resources that can be mustered to accomplish that aim, and that the largest harms come from the ability to organise and drive such “social machines”. Hannah Arendt, in her study of the trial of Eichmann in Jerusalem, called the kind of person who could plug themselves into such a machine, or be plugged into it, “banal”. An almost “nothing” of a person, despite the evil they have succeeded in causing. (Now that I think on it, this kind of “banality” would not be a bad descriptor of Prof Noyes in WOH). When you look, there is no “there” there.
Hoffer also spoke to this issue, when he pointed out that people who can plug themselves into, or be plugged into “mass movements” (the term he gives to what I am calling a “social machine”) are often those who have lost interest in their own lives, or who actually despise their own lives, and seek the transcendence of a “higher” movement into which to throw their energies. What makes such people dangerous to others is that, despising their own lives, they place no value on anyone else’s. All value is in the ideal to which they have given themselves, and to which they will not hesitate to “give” (sacrifice) anyone else.
The most difficult thing is figuring out how to stay clear of the machine, to the extent possible, and to keep remembering to be human – with all the good, the bad, and the ugly that we are. Although, if we do succeed at being “human, out loud”, keeping an active interest in our own lives with their small (in the scheme of things) dramas and devoting our small (in the scheme of things) powers to our own purposes, it is very likely we will be less liable to be “pluggable” into anyone else’s machine. Or evil, in Arendt’s “banal” sense.
Further to the above, I would add that although there are so many idealistic communes that fail spectacularly, and studying the reasons for failure can be instructive, none of these communes – which simply set out to do their own thing for themselves – are in any way dangerous to anyone else.
That danger to the rest of us really does come from those who are able to take over the steering of existing large powers and existing large stores of wealth and to make use of this existing machinery of control for the desired project of remaking of society as a whole.
Onething, vote fraud is commonplace in American politics, and always has been. I don’t know of a case on the national level where the courts have overturned the results of even the most blatantly rigged election, so although I wish Trump well, I don’t expect him to succeed. That being the case, it’s crucial to accept that what happened has in fact happened, deal with it, and move on to the next set of challenges, rather than making the Democrats’ mistake and spending the next four years obsessing about the last election. Keep in mind that the current situation is far from favorable to the Democrats. Right now the United States can be charitably described as a dumpster fire: crumbling, sclerotic, dysfunctional, mired in intractable economic and social crisis and a near-total collapse of elite legitimacy, and divided by savage political hatreds. It would take a brilliant, charismatic leader to achieve anything at all in such a mess, and what the Democrats have instead is…
Thus I expect the Biden administration (and the Harris one, if it happens) to crash and burn disastrously, caught between an ever-rising spiral of extreme demands from the left and the implacable hatred of the right. That provides an immense window of opportunity for the populist movement. As for voting, the Democrats will be extremely happy if you don’t. They did very badly in the House races, losing half their majority, and Democratic politicians and pundits are already terrified that the 2022 midterms will see a Republican landslide in the House and a strengthening of the Republican majority in the Senate. Meanwhile the GOP already has at least three very strong presidential candidates positioning themselves for the 2024 race — Governor Ron Desantis of Florida, Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota, and Senator Ted Cruz — all three of whom are populists without the drawbacks inherent in Trump’s erratic personality. If the GOP ends up winning the presidency and both houses of Congress in 2024, the Voting Rights Act of 2025 is a foregone conclusion. Does that answer your question?
Drhooves, you’re certainly right that the Long Descent is about to pick up speed here in the US. I’ll be talking about that in my end of year predictions post.
Daniel, fair enough! That’s a valid point; it makes a lot of sense that contracting supply would be presented by the media as contracting demand, and since a good sharp round of economic contraction would drive down demand, it’ll be positively amusing to watch that being sold to the comfortable classes as evidence that the faux-green agenda is working.
Lew, interesting. Thanks for this.
Christophe, thank you!
“We wish you a scary Krampus
We wish you a scary Krampus
We wish you a scary Krampus
And a frighful new year!”
Your Kittenship, here in Rhode Island they’re fairly common. It’s a Karen thing, pretty much. As for the curfews, those are pretty obviously intended to control civil unrest, not coronavirus.
Irena, of course. Your chances of surviving a game of Russian roulette go down in exactly the same way as you pull the trigger repeatedly…
Viduraawakened, I’m pretty sure it’s just hype.
Irena, oh, I don’t doubt they’ll call those clubs “universities,” and they may even use the same buildings once their current occupants go bankrupt.
CS2, remember that the children of the elites don’t go to public schools. They go to expensive, exclusive private academies, which can ramp up the graduation requirements at need to meet whatever is required by the fashionable universities. On the other hand, Irena may be right, and we’ll simply get some other sort of finishing schools for the scions of our self-proclaimed lords and masters.
Lydia, good heavens. A ray of common sense filtering through the dense clouds of managerial groupthink!
Denis, curiously enough, the phrase “corporate Stalinism” is one that I intend to launch into circulation shortly.
Neptunesdolphins, exactly. It’s the common obsession of the Piscean age — the fantasy that it’s possible to leave behind everything we don’t like about our own humanity, and step into a perfect world. Hasn’t exactly worked well…
John, I had that thought also. If the coronavirus vaccine is enough of a disaster, yeah, things could well turn out that way. I can only hope that some of the other details of Retrotopia also come true…
Yorkshire, ouch. No, not at all.
Scotlyn, I take it you don’t recall Rajneeshpuram, which contaminated a banquet with germs to try to get as many outsiders sick as possible so they could win a local election. You’re right in general — most communes don’t harm anyone but their own inmates — but there are exceptions. (Charles Manson’s “Family,” which was a communal group, also comes to mind.)
@ Denis – “Just give people cash and access to capital and let them do it for themselves.”
“Irena, not at all. Dishwashing is a low status task, and people who are comfortable dishwashing are thus more likely to be satisfied with a low status, which decreases their access to mates and thus their reproductive success. Hating dishwashing is thus an evolutionary necessity. 😉 ”
Except I’ve noticed that being satisfied with a low status can INCREASE access to mates (although it would certainly decrease access to “high status” mates), because there are so many more potential mates who are also of low status… 😉
@Robert Mathiesen I have some data for your one party rule. In studying the history of Pennsylvania and voter registration laws, I discover that the Republican Party, the Party of Lincoln, ruled this state almost exclusively from 1861-1951. It wasn’t until the passage of the law allowing absentee voting in 1937 and the power of FDR that the tides turned for the Democrats. Since then it’s flipped back and forth between the two parties.
The great downturn in the state’s economy started right around 1950. The city of Philadelphia went from a high of 2 million in population around 1910 sliding slightly down until 1950 when it dove off the cliff to 1 million people by 1970. The Philly lost the naval shipyard, plus the general fleeing of manufacturing to foreign shores. Large swaths of the city still look like bombed out Beirut.
The Republican rule was nasty with competing factions and party bosses. Tales of voter fraud with people voting up to 37 times were common knowledge. But industry was here and people had good paying jobs.
I don’t know that we fared better under the switching back and forth of the parties. Granted the state is fighting the same trends everyone else is. It just feels like we’ve been treading water my whole life here, no solid progress. Maybe if we had one party rule we would have gotten more goodies from DC.
I believe there is less real demand for oil.
If you can’t afford to buy gasoline because you lost your job due to Covid-19 shutdowns, it goes off the shopping list. Or the shutdowns themselves, keeping you home and not using your car. We never drove that much but we did do events. All our events were canceled and our gasoline usage plummeted as a direct result.
Yes, it’s being spun as good for all of us (so green!).
I have to add myself to the list of skeptics who will consider any public vaccination of politicos to be theater.
@JMG – yes, I have no doubt at all that your examples are valid. Still the reach of a Rajneesh Puram, or a Manson family, is much, much smaller, by orders of magnitude, of a Hitler, a Stalin, or a Pol Pot. Neither of the first two gained access to the far-realching power of a state or a corporation.
Any one of us, potentially, could cause THAT level (Rajneesh Puram or Manson Family) of harm. That potential is within us all. It is the amplifying power of state or corporation that leads to the society wide disasters that befell the Germans under Hitler, and the Russians under Stalin.
December 4, 2020 at 4:15 am
I hear you about avoiding civil war but looking at the worldwide police state-covid response, there appears decreasingly anywhere to go.
@DFC “what I see is the growing conditions for a new kind of “Prophetae” to “Make the Life Great Again” as the lives of the people become more and more precarious, with all the traditional safety nets destroyed in an anonymous world where people are alone in front of the pain, and with all the “Metaphysical Bubbles” exploded.”
Yes, when I look around me, I see what you see.
I have absolutely no idea what to do about it, except keep attending, with my own small powers, to my own small house, to my own small practice, and to working out forms of mutual support with [some of] the small number of people I personally meet from day to day.
But I just want to say that I appreciate your comments, very much.
Regarding the Covid vaccine, it’s looking more and more like some truly draconian measures will be employed to enforce compliance with getting poked. I’ve seen suggestions that anything from needing a vaccination card to be allowed to fly, attend concerts, to something as drastic as requiring it to shop for groceries, get/keep a job or a business license and such; the card would likely be robust, like a passport with an RFID chip. I will not have this vaccine, but the prospect of having to cope with some of the more draconian measures looks worrisome. I’m not sure how much we can plan until more details of enforcement are released. Any suggestions?
” I once published an article in a Neopagan magazine pointing out that the rhetoric of feminist Neopaganism was all borrowed from evangelical Christianity, with the ancient matriarchies as Eden, testosterone as original sin, and so on. They were not amused.”
JMG is this in any collection of essays as I would love to read it? Or is it online? These Neopagans like to pretend they are direct descendants of the priestesses at Delphi etc and basically make up history to suit themselves. That article is the antidote.
@ CR Patiño and Tamhob and TJandTheBear (and others)
I have been reading up on vaccines generally, and on this one specifically, and include a few links which may interest anyone wanting to do some due diligence for themselves.
There is a known problem with “incomplete” vaccines (they minimise symptoms for those infected, but do not prevent them from transmitting infection to others) vis-a-vis “complete” vaccines (which stop transmission) which is to do with differences in their selection pressures on the pathogen. Incomplete vaccines may increase the pathogen’s virulence over time, meaning that if the Covid vaccines are of the “incomplete” type, a large-scale vaccination campaign could lead to the evolution of a much more virulent Covid virus.
Some of the relevant research here https://science.sciencemag.org/content/359/6379/1030
There is another problem related to potential auto-immunisation if a vaccine’s antigens are homologous with a person’s own proteins. This appears to be what caused the notable uptick in narcolepsy cases after the Pandemrix vaccine was fast-tracked in 2009 or so. In susceptible people, the vaccine antigen immunised people against certain of their own genes coding for proteins with essential functions in the sleep/wake regulating parts of the brain. There is a worrying wrinkle in the Covid story, where virologists as far back as last April, noted that some of Covid’s genes were “highly homologous” with Syncytin-1. https://virological.org/t/response-to-ncov2019-against-backdrop-of-endogenous-retroviruses/396/2
Syncytin-1 is a fascinating virally-derived gene, which is only expressed in one essential human organ – the placenta. Keep an eye out for further discusssions related to syncytin homologies and the vaccines that are coming onto the market. If this homology holds with the antigens actually used in any or all of the vaccines, it may inadvertently immunise at least some susceptible child-bearing age women against pregnancy. I would say that this is not an entirely misplaced caution, as the UK has said it will not offer the newly approved Covid vaccine to pregnant and breastfeeding women for safety reasons, and is warning women not to attempt to become pregnant for two months after receiving the second dose. https://www.msn.com/en-ie/news/other/breastfeeding-and-pregnant-women-will-not-be-able-to-take-vaccine/ar-BB1bEuoe
Meanwhile, an interesting pairing consisting of a former Pfizer head of respiratory research and a former public health department head has lodged an appeal to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to stop all Covid vaccine research until further safeguards can be put in place for volunteer study subjects. https://2020news.de/en/dr-wodarg-and-dr-yeadon-request-a-stop-of-all-corona-vaccination-studies-and-call-for-co-signing-the-petition/
JMG and Commentariat:
Re: thoughts on covid-19 and divisions it causes in our society.
A co-worker passed along this obituary from the father of his high-school classmate. The obit is now going “viral” on social media for its controversial stance on masks:
Mr. Farr reminds me in many ways of my late grandfather.
This passage esp. struck me: “He died in a room not his own, being cared for by people dressed in confusing and frightening ways. He died with covid-19, and his final days were harder, scarier and lonelier than necessary. He was not surrounded by friends and family.”
Knowing a bit about the mindset of some of those who oppose masks, I think it comes from similar emotional motivations as the authors of this eulogy—but by placing the blame elsewhere, perceiving the omens of 2020 differently.
Rather than disagree ‘til the cows come home about science, perhaps pro-mask people should listen for the emotional content of what anti-maskers are expressing. They don’t want to “die in a room not their own,” for fear of what they see as creeping socialism. They don’t want to “be cared for by people dressed in confusing and frightening ways,” i.e., the fancy, city liberal elite or the radical young punks marching and rioting in the streets. Many of them feel that these may be the end times, and they don’t want their “final days to be harder, scarier and lonelier than necessary.” They simply want to spend their time “surrounded by friends and family.”
I don’t presume to know how to square this social circle we find ourselves in today. I too shudder at some of the ways it is done in places like China. But one possible path may lie in trying our best to hear where the heart of each side is coming from, rather than getting stuck on the details of where we deeply disagree.
Two other things struck me. I am connected to Brother Farr through a mystical bond, and some of his surviving family reside quite far from his home in Kansas, near a place where I lived and went to university. It’s where the organic farm I worked on for a few years was located. “Memento mori.”
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.
–John Donne (1572-1631)
On last week’s post I mentioned a friend of mine who quit working as a doctor due to fear of this vaccine. I just spoke with her and have gotten a few more details I’d like to share. (She gave me permission as long as I don’t identify her) The first is that the vaccine is such an experimental one that the method had never even been properly tested before, and in fact there’s good reason for this: it involves creating a virus, for frack’s sake! Although the virus is not designed to replicate, part of her fear is that the vaccine, and by extension the side effects, could turn out to be contagious if the virus interacts with something already in the cell; such viral interactions are apparently quite common, and so based on that, the odds of it happening with this method of vaccination were estimated in and old paper she read as about 1 in one million doses; given the number of vaccines which will be given, this becomes likely to occur somewhere. In other words, some poor soul will likely get this vaccine replicating in them; and it may, depending on which virus it interacted with, become contagious to some extent or other.
An additional concern is that this could cause issues with women who are pregnant, with unknown and unpredictable side effects. A large number of viruses cross into fetuses and cause problems, so the risk here is that this synthetic virus will do the same thing. One particular risk which apparently comes out of the way the virus is constructed (I’m taking her word here; I don’t know enough about this to follow it) is that it could tamper with the process by which egg cells mature. Since this happens while the woman is a fetus, the results of this won’t be known for decades.
As for insider information, she said that the hospital she worked at told her she would need to get the vaccine immediately once it was approved for emergency use; she quit on the spot, since that could come at any moment, and she doesn’t want to risk being around people who got the vaccine either, given the risk it could become contagious.
Thank you, Denis, for the example of Pennsylvania. Rhode Island was essentially a one-party state (Democratic), too, from 1935 down to quite recent years, and is pretty close to that even today. To be sure, the Governor was often a Republican, but in Rhode Island the Governor had very little actual power. Most of what Governors did in other states, was done here by the State House of Representatives, and the Speaker of that House was the person who functioned de facto as the State’s Governor.
The Democratic machine took very good care of almost all of the population, just so long as everyone in every extended family voted a straight Democratic ticket. If even one relative jumped ship, even in one minor political race, the entire extended family would suddenly be cut off from all the State largesse. (Secret ballots were a joke in this state back in those days; the State Democratic Party came up with a very ingenious and entirely legal way to ascertain just how everyone voted in every race, which was carefully explained to me by an elderly Democratic poll worker when we first came here. She was very, very proud of how well it had worked all those long decades.)
Ultimately, that old Rhode Island system provided total economic security for every esxtended family of 100% party loyalists, but didn’t take very good care of the State itself, which was awash in corruption. The longest serving Mayor of Providence ever, “Buddy” Cianci, was a out-and-out crook and made no bones about it. When he was brought down and sent to prison, most of the city was outraged. Once he served his term, he was promptly re-elected as Mayor by a large majority. “He may be a crook, but so what — he’s OUR crook.”
Something just clicked: the lockdowns might very well serve an important purpose right now: by forcibly shutting down huge swaths of the economy, including very energy intensive things like tourism, they keep oil demand low. I wonder if this is intentional: the major players realized oil prices were about to skyrocket, and so went out of their way to shut down everything they could in order to keep that from happening. Of course, it’s a temporary solution, but we’re running on temporary, emergency measures and have been for quite some time now……
The novelty of this election is not that it was rigged (your baroque electoral system seems desgined to be rigged on purpose). This is a documentary from 2006, where the exact same problems were exposed, but nothing has changed at all (and people didn’t pay attention then, and never till today):
As George Carlin said in a much more funny way:
But NOW things seem to be different from the past, the novelty are:
a) 70% of the pople of one party (74 millions voters) thinks the election was not fair and clean, and are ready to “defend democracy” if called, together with an important part of the Army.
b) All the MSM, the social networks companies, all SV companies, all the MSM around the world have been ridiculing the “election-rigged-charade” of the orange-clown and its minions that do not accept democracy at all, and showing their true fascist face now disgised as “defend from fraud” craziness.
c) All the MSM cut at the same time the press conference of an institution called The President Of The United States because it started to talk about frauds in the election, after 4 years negating the legitimacy of the occupant of that instutition bacause he was a “russian puppet”.
d) On the 3 of december the institution called President of the United States affirm the strong intentions to defend democracy and he USA Constitution from the threats posed by the electoral fraud, with all the means at its disposal.
“They” won’t permit a populist backlash again, this time they very well were prepared.
But now a lot of people start to figure out how “the system” works, and may be things are as Emma Goldman (and Spengler) said long time ago: “If voting could change anything it would be illegal” (or rigged).
But these schemes will have consequences in the Age of the Precariat…
As far as I understand (which isn’t all that much, I admit), the term “state capitalism” was whispered in intra-party debates and private letters from Lenin from the beginning of the 1917 revolution until his “immortal” death, to describe what they were doing with the New Secular Order of the USSR:
On vaccines: politicians have bet the farm on vaccines bringing corona to an end from a political point of view (not necessarily a health point of view). It is precisely because the vaccine rollout can go wrong that the situation is politically very dangerous. If the vaccine side effects are perceived to be significant, the whole narrative could unravel leading to a huge crisis of legitimacy. Unfortunately, this gives politicians every incentive to pursue radically authoritarian measures to try and keep things under control.
“I’ve become convinced that ‘don’t ascribe to malice that which can be explained by stupidity’ is a belief the malicious rely on…”
It’s a real tossup whether there is more malice or stupidity in this world! But I have often thought that people repeat that saying to give themselves an ego boost and to simplify their worldview.
In case anyone else has wondered “how does a tightly-knit intentional community respond to a communicable disease outbreak?” I have this brief article, from https://www.medievalists.net/2015/02/priests-black-death/.
A choice quote: “Cloistered communities were the perfect breeding ground for plague, with whole monasteries and abbeys being wiped out.”
More recently: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-canada-hutterite/stigma-and-fear-canada-struggles-with-covid-19-outbreak-on-hutterite-colonies-idUSKCN24U36V That story made the rounds in July, but have haven’t seen anything more recently.
It looks as though a socialist community could be doing everything else right (as unlikely as that is, in practice), and still get whacked by disease. In a small community, the loss of an individual with specialized knowledge and skills could be an existential threat to the rest.
I have absolutely no idea what to do about it, except keep attending, with my own small powers, to my own small house, to my own small practice, and to working out forms of mutual support with [some of] the small number of people I personally meet from day to day.
I keep coming back (or being led back, or directed back) to this response as well. Sometimes I’m ok with it, but often it feels so insufficient. I cannot see what more can be done, however. It can be a great internal struggle. World events must follow their course, for good or for ill, regardless of what I do. I hate the sense of helplessness that brings, but perhaps that’s just a product of my lack of proper perspective.
Scotlyn, so noted!
Teresa, of course. The easy alternative to rationing by price is rationing by impoverishment, and that seems to be what we’re getting.
Onething, I’m not arguing. I want to see how many of them are still alive and healthy a couple of years later; then we can talk.
Scotlyn, of course — I was quibbling over a detail.
Apprentice, figure out how to work from home and be prepared to order staple foods for home delivery rather than shopping at a store. It won’t take too long for the black market to emerge, but until that happens it’s good to have options.
Bridge, I’ll have to go hunting and see if I can find a copy of it somewhere. It didn’t turn up in my files when I assembled the anthologies. It was in an issue of The Pomegranate maybe twenty years ago, if that helps at all.
Devin, you’re straying kind of far from the topic of this post, you know. Please remember that this blog is not a place to just post anything that occurs to you.
Anonymous 1, thanks for this.
Anonymous 2, hmm! That’s at least worth considering.
DFC, at this point my hope is that the people who are convinced the election was rigged will notice that they have options other than violence. I’ll be talking about those in posts to come. Civil war is a real danger just now, and it’s very nearly a worst-case scenario for everyone.
Simon, one of the risks we run is that a sufficiently bad result from the vaccine could push the crisis of elite legitimacy into sudden-collapse territory — and it’s only in the minds of the clueless that what would emerge after a sudden collapse of the political status quo will necessarily be better.
Regarding politicos getting the vaccine as a stunt:
This vaccine has only been tested in women who are not pregnant (with no time for a follow-up to see if they can have healthy children afterwards) and men. Even if the politicos do some sort of trust-building stunt, like pulling vials of vaccine off a conveyor belt at a pharma plant, there is little risk to a gaggle of old men.
On the future of the universities: our local outpost of virtue signaling (and formerly educating the youth), Brown University, is in the throes of a battle about statues. A century ago Brown installed a pair of copies of noted Classical statues: Marcus Aurelius and Caesar Augustus. The message was simple: the young men of Brown were being trained to be leaders of Empire, and leaders of Empire should appear not to desire power, as the First Citizen insisted, and to be philosophers in the footsteps of Marcus Aurelius. Today, a group calling themselves Decolonization at Brown wants the statues removed, for their celebration of colonialism. Unfortunately, my yard is small, so I cannot offer to host either one.
Meanwhile, they have nothing to say about this lovely piece, a few short yards away from Marcus Aurelius.
Evidently, the purpose of attending Brown is to have the light of learning forced into your soft head. Bluno is only on loan to Brown, and will soon be sent off to his masters storage garage, whence someday he will be sold for the scrap value of his bronze (it is bronze under that hideous blue paint). In a final bit of irony, the modern paint has weathered much sooner than promised, and the 14 year old piece is in need of extensive and expensive restoration. Meanwhile, Marcus rides on undeterred.
JMG and Robert,
The truth about past election fraud is coming to light. I find it unacceptable, and frankly it is silly to think it should be a feature not a bug. We don’t need systemic fraud to guarantee a change of powers. We should not have one party, nor two parties, but 3-5. If we had more honest elections and one party was too strong this would create an opportunity niche which would soon be filled.
But I think what is important here is that this election was not tweaked a little as is apparently common (and UNACCEPTABLE) but rather an open, blatant, broad daylight steal using multiple methods and all brought to light in view of the public and the world. There are foreign govts involved. It is not too strong to use words like treason and coup. Then, if the courts openly refuse to enact any sort of common sense justice, that means that the rot has gone so far as our legal system as well as the media.
I don’t see how there is any coming back from that. The word ‘disheartening’ seems apt. To take the heart out of the people.
In the public’s eye – cheat as much and as openly as you want. Courts will uphold the cheaters. There is no legal recourse. Man oh man, I do not find that amusing.
So while I can see to some extent both of your positions, this cannot go unpunished or unchallenged. So apparently fraud has gone to courts before – but I had not heard of it. Apparently even Kennedy or his father tweaked a couple of spots – but I had not heard of it. Our media have been sellouts for a long time. But once something like this is so open, it changes everything. Out of the shadows, into the light.
The level of evidence, the scope, the testimonies – if this is all for naught then I will become a monarchist.
On another note, I am not doing well and may or may not have a chance to improve (too soon to tell) so I would ask for everyone’s prayers.
Oh, and JMG, what voting rights act do you speak of?
@Robert Mathiesen. Your most recent posting brought a smile to my face, since it reminded me of the following.
Mathias ‘Paddy’ Bauler (January 27, 1890 – August 22, 1977) was an American saloonkeeper and alderman of the 43rd ward of Chicago from 1933 to 1943 and again from 1947 to 1967. He was known as a corrupt, controversial and charismatic Chicago political boss and is famous for the quote, “Chicago ain’t ready for reform yet”, or “Chicago ain’t ready for a reform mayor” which he exclaimed many times over while dancing a jig in his saloon upon the news of Richard J. Daley’s first election as mayor of Chicago in 1955. Mayor Daley banned Bauler from attending public functions for a time shortly after the quote was published. (Wikipedia)
Apparently that was a bit much even for “hizzoner”. Chicago is a Democrat-run city. It’s a one-party town. “Vote early; vote often” is often associated with Chicago. Here is a justification of the practice (not mine, and again from Wikipedia):
In 1933 in Dáil Éireann (the Irish lower house), Thomas Kelly of Fianna Fáil said,
If a poor man is sick in hospital and not able to get out, surely it is a good turn to see that his vote is registered. If he has gone away and his neighbours know his opinions, I do not see any harm in personation. … vote early and often.
Do you think that the pandemic will help to the emergence of Sprengler’s Second Religiosity?
We have access to the whole run of “Pomegranate” online through my university library (from the ATLA Religion Database, ATLA serials). I just searched it for the article in question, and drew a blank. I also read through the tables of contents from 1997 (when it began) up to 2007 — also a blank. Alas! So it might have been published in some other journal.
Thanks for the heads up. How was it, this term? Superdeterminated? The potential mechanisms of action for vaccine misfire are so numerous and serious that, even if half of them are dead wrong, only people at significant risk from the actual virus should be taking it.
Of course, this is not what the authorities will do because that is their one and only hope to “flatten the curve”. The curve happens to trace a sigmoid function: starts slow at 0% then shoots aggressively upwards, begins to de-accelerate at 50% and finally takes its long sweet time to crawl the last 10% up. The shape does not change, only how steep it is. The only way to make it actually not grow is to have a smaller baseline number for the percentages.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject in the past two weeks, and I have reached the conclusion is that our collective response to the pandemic lacks strategy. The tactic measures kind of make sense if you know about epidemiology, but either achieve futile milestones or fail to follow up and capitalize the position that is gained with (potentially useful) milestones.
I do remain deeply skeptic of the more colorful theories that have become commonplace in the last month or two. I know some of you prefer to believe that there’s a big hidden agenda behind all this, but maybe we could consider the possibility that there are a ton of petty little agendas pushing back and forth while the actual problem at hand moves forwards unhindered.
So much for online search engines! 😝 Phbbbt!
A manual search actually turned up JMG’s article on the second pass through: “Myth, History and Pagan Origins,” Pomegranate 9 (1997), 44-50. JMG, I’m emailing you a PDF of the article.
>It won’t take too long for the black market to emerge
In Venezuela and Zimbabwe, you buy milk much like you buy cocaine – you call your milk dealer and try to score. There was a pic a few years ago about Venezuela police busting some smuggler – smuggling powdered milk. Not coke – milk. These bare shelves in the stores are not temporary and it’s only going to get worse through this decade. Every time I see a bare shelf, whether it’s gloves or cleaning supplies or (coming soon) food it makes me want to sing, sing, sing –
Come along, sing with me! SOYUZ NERUSHIMY…
>the loss of an individual with specialized knowledge and skills could be an existential threat to the rest.
Specialized knowledge is fragile knowledge. If someone else can’t learn it easily, it’s probably going to go away if collapse comes. Or it will go away much like how Soviet scientists and engineers all went away looking for work anywhere else.
The next world power may very well be whoever markets themselves as a haven for all those specialists to flee to. Last time that was the U.S. but I seriously doubt it will be so this time around.
>by forcibly shutting down huge swaths of the economy, including very energy intensive things like tourism, they keep oil demand low. I wonder if this is intentional: the major players realized oil prices were about to skyrocket, and so went out of their way to shut down everything they could in order to keep that from happening. Of course, it’s a temporary solution
Oh absolutely it was intentional. There might have been some foreign policy dimension to it too – sticking it to Russia and Saudi Arabia, since that’s how they make most of their money.
And like with all their other big decisions – it is absolutely unsustainable. I have marveled over the years at their ability to postpone the inevitable so they can enjoy the status quo just a little bit longer, no matter what the cost to the future.
I don’t think their electric robot car future with drone delivery is going to work either. All of that needs pretty fancy batteries that can only be made in really fancy factories with really fragile supply chains. If the only battery you can scrounge up locally is a rebuilt lead-acid deep cycle battery from the local mechanic, that bleepy bloopy future comes to a halt right quick. If it is possible to rebuild a LiFePo battery locally with common household materials and hand tools, I’m all ears.
@ Lydia – I managed stores for WaldenBooks, for 7 years in the early 1970s. I managed stores for B. Dalton, in the 1980’s for twelve years. It was a pendulum. Every few years, it would swing one way, or the other way. At one end, it was hire book people to run your stores, and tailor to the local population. Then it was heavy oversight, and a philosophy that books were like any other commodity (milk or eggs … only not quit so necessary) and needed to be “marketed.” Managerial staff came from any retail background.
I finally bailed when we got a new regional manager. She had been a regional manager for Eddie Bauer They sell outdoor clothing and some equipment. She was quit proud of the fact that the only book she had read in a year, was “How to House Train Your Dog, In Seven Days.” She thought our paperback fiction section should be alphabetized right to left, as the “A’s” should be closest to the door. She thought the biography section (previously arranged by who the book was about) should be arranged by color. Just to jazz up the visuals. When she started to gas about “empowering the employee,” I knew my days were numbered and made a hasty retreat. Lew
It’s been some years since I have really been reading the protein folding literature. What has been published so far is a press release about a conference, not a peer-reviewed paper, so one cannot check the veracity of the claims oneself. Still, CASP, the biannual contest for protein folding, is serious. Anybody can compete, all get the same sequence data with yet-unpublished structure to work on, and the computational results are compared anonymously with the experimentally determined structure. DeepMind seems to have been in fact much better than any competitor has ever been.
What does this mean in practice? According to the press release, for two thirds of proteins, DeepMind predicted a structure well. If you don’t know if the protein you are interested in belongs to the one third or the two thirds, that is not much use. However, if now, after knowing the structure predicted by DeepMind, you are able to analyse your low-quality experimental data and confirm the structure, or design a pharmacological experiment based on the predicted structure, then it will have helped you.
Of Course, you are Right (and dexterous); please Excuse me.
Re: blue hats, I have taken your Sage advice, and the reply came in the form of a silly poem. Presently, I am working out the meter and rhyme, but when I feel finished, I Will that you would post it here–at your discretion, of Course.
Merry Yuletide to All!
Justin, we simply don’t know what an mRNA vaccine will do. The Wikipedia article on the subject points out that there’s reason to worry about the possibility that it will set off serious inflammatory conditions, and possibly trigger autoimmune diseases — and a gaggle of old men are anything but invulnerable to such things.
Peter, one of the few consolations of modern arf — excuse me, “art” — is that it’s not just ugly, it’s shoddy and transitory. Not that many decades from now, all of it will be gone forever. (I took the liberty of pasting an image of Bluno into your comment, btw — if you tried to put one in via any means but raw HTML, it’ll have scrubbed it.)
Onething, er, what exactly can you do about the vote fraud, personally? As for the voting rights act, it’s the one that the GOP will put together as soon as they can, which will require photo ID and make the vote counting process subject to effective oversight. (I’m sorry to hear about your health; prayers on their way.)
Quinshi, quite probably yes, as that’s already beginning to build.
Robert, thank you! If it was the people who run the Pom who indexed it, that might just explain why it didn’t get into the database… 😉 (Now to reconstruct the footnotes, which the editors sedulously deleted from the article.)
Owen, the way things are going, we’ll have black markets here one way or another fairly soon.
All this talk about monastic communities reminds me of a joke, which I hope you will indulge.
A man joins a monastery and the abbott tells him, ” You’re only allowed to say two words a year here, and only to me.” A year goes by and the man says to the abbott, “Bed hard.” Another year passes and the man says, “Food bad.” A third year goes by & the man says to the abbott, “I quit!” The abbott replies, “I’m not surprised, you’ve done nothing but complain since the minute you got here!”
Scotlyn wrote, “Hannah Arendt, in her study of the trial of Eichmann in Jerusalem, called the kind of person who could plug themselves into such a machine, or be plugged into it, “banal”. An almost “nothing” of a person, despite the evil they have succeeded in causing.”
That gives me a great deal of hope. What happens when a completely overlooked “nothing” of a banality sneaks through all the gatekeepers unnoticed and plugs right into the huge, tottering “social machine”? Trump, BoJo, and Putin all managed it; each ushering in an unthinkable rebalancing of the listing ship of state.
Even more hopeful, what if the invisible banality came from completely outside the halls of power? Sure, that could sketch out a Hitler, but it could equally well describe a Gandhi or a Mandela.
And most hopeful, what if that forgotten banality had no desire to exploit the machine’s power for his own gain? Could that level of unspeakably threatening banality cause the machinery to shake itself into smithereens by desperately trying to purge itself of the corrupting influence of a self-discipline and contentment it simply couldn’t contemplate? Jesus and Buddha both come to mind.
Perhaps part of the reason that the namesakes for great religions show up in times of spiraling corruption and decline is that those are the ages when honor and virtue become unimaginable enough to escape the gatekeepers’ notice. In our age of endless celebrity and hype, quiet banality roars like a mighty protest against a decadence that destroys all it infects. That humble roar is growing.
I suspect that our perspectives about the truth and ultimate outcome of the US election may differ. As someone from the other “wing” of US politics, I would like you to know that 1) I share a distaste and distrust of the leadership of both parties, and 2) I wholeheartedly agree that an open, transparent process that can uncover as much fraud as is humanly possible will help us all to make sense of it. I believe deeply in the power of true democracy, and I would be willing to fight for that noble concept–even if it were for a candidate I did not vote for.
That said, I have heard your plea, and I will offer up this prayer on (y)our behalf: “May Justice be served. May Truth prevail. May the expressed will of each individual of these United States be counted accurately, and then recounted and audited, in a process transparent and open for all to see. May fraud be exposed and exorcised from this election. And may the Healing Powers turn their gaze to our friend Onething and bestow their blessings, that we may continue to sense Onething’s unique voice. Amen”
I feel for you and your health. I will be praying for you.
Now, if you want to talk about robust elections, you could do worse than to check the Mexican system. This evolved after the extremely controversial election of Carlos Salinas de Gortari in 1988 (long story short, Cuautemoc Cardenas was leading the voter preference, se cayó el sistema, and afterwards Salinas turned out the winner). Popular resentment forced the government to an electoral reform that lead to the creation of the Instituto Federal Electoral.
Basically, the elections at ground level are run by the citizens, not government officials (much like the jury system in your criminal courts). There are observers from every political party in every poll. There is a National database and ID cards with photograph are issued to every citizen of age (which the citizens in charge do check against a printed book). You are in duty to be registered in the poll nearest to your home and must vote there, in person, in paper ballots. Your neighbors count your vote. Voting outside of your place of residence is a privilege, not a right: there are special polls where travelers can vote, but the ballots there are quite limited.
Don’t get me wrong, these elections are very expensive and inconvenient. Not to mention that lots of Americans that pour every detail of their lives into Facebook would be up in arms if their government dared to publicly keep a national identity database. And as you can see from the news, out political elites do not seem to be hampered by little details like fair elections. However, it is a system that seems to work decently Ok.
Re: DFC and JMG’s reply: “..Civil war is a real danger just now, and it’s very nearly a worst-case scenario for everyone.”
“very nearly”???? Short of nuclear war, or maybe an EMP event wiping out the grid in a flash, what other scenario could be worse than a civil war? Civil War II would not be anything like our ancestors’ war. There are the grid, fuel/natural gas pipelines, and road/rail transit of food and other critical supplies which crisscross the boundaries between the Red & Blue states (or any conceivable demarcations between opposing sides).
I can’t imagine how a Civil War II could fail to cause catastrophic disruption of these life-sustaining links. It would result in mass death and be the end of civilization as we know it; Dmitry Orlov knew what he was talking about about when he said that collapse in the US would make the Soviet collapse look like a walk in the park. A sudden collapse of governmental legitimacy for any reason, in the setting of Wokesters versus Deplorables animosity, with each side wishing the other dead, seems a frightfully plausible scenario.
I can certainly understand your consternation at the way the recent US election was run, and although doubt at its integrity has been widely derided in most of the press, there are holdouts. The US spectator is certainly partisan but it also seems dedicated to the truth (for some value of truth):
Personally, I realise that it’s naive, but I’m absolutely revolted by it.
I’ve seen one kind of political mini-cycle in the UK when after the Conservatives had been in power for many years. At the end of the John Major period the stench of Tory cornruption was so blatant that Labour rolled into power for an extended period. Stories of brown paper bags of cash passed around in bathrooms were common.
As a kid growing up in the 60s I saw the Victorians were widely derided for demanding high standards in public life. These demands led to hypocrisy I was told, and so I believed, but now I disagree. Even if we can’t live up to our ideals there’s a lot to be said for making the effort. If western culture is about to undergo a significant change – a great reset but not in the way the PMC are hoping for – is there a possibility of a new Victorian era?
“Sometimes, one gets away with an astonishing level of stupidity unscathed”
I can confirm that. The first 30 years of my life were dedicated to putting this theory to a thorough test.
On another note, i very much enjoy your comments here. Do you have a blog somewhere? If not, maybe there is an idea…
I’m adding you to my prayers tonight and in the morning. Keep your chin up.
Regarding vote fraud, this is the first time in my 62 years that I know someone personally who cheated (cast 3 votes) and urged me to do likewise if possible as “every vote counts.” She assumed I’d vote for the right guy of course. I didn’t think it wise to disabuse her, after all we are talking “Hitler” here.
No, actually, it was the ATLA [American Theological Libraries Association] people–or rather, their electronic systems–who index all of the periodicals they put on line. Stupid machines!
John Michael wrote, “That being the case, it’s crucial to accept that what happened has in fact happened, deal with it, and move on to the next set of challenges, rather than making the Democrats’ mistake and spending the next four years obsessing about the last election.”
While I certainly don’t plan on wasting the next four years dwelling on our inept political sideshow, I am not at all sure that much has in fact happened in the glacially slow timeframe of political realignments. Over the past four years, a slow-rolling color revolution has attempted, but failed, to seize the presidency repeatedly, culminating in a rigged election. How this most recent attempt will fare is by no means clear. The contrived behavior and speech of its media sponsors and political advocates raises far more doubts in my mind than if they felt comfortable enough to wait contentedly until inauguration.
Like so much advertising nowadays, their hyper-promotion has made me distrust the product they’re peddling at me. If one has already won, there is no need for warning messages, deplatforming, or other narrative censorship. That alone makes me seriously doubt their much-bellowed confidence. A lot of influential people seem to be utterly terrified about something, causing them to resort (in desperation?) to reputation-ruining tactics. Is the media really destroying itself in a fit of joyful confidence? Somehow, I just can’t buy that.
Equally unconvincing are the messages they are willing to let through, all perfectly harmonized, of course. Thus far, what I keep hearing repeated in the mainstream, with the same coordinated consistency as during Hunter’s laptop scandal, is various iterations of the rather laughable dismissal “they have no evidence.” (In the inimitable words of Inigo Montoya, “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means.”) I would fully expect any substantive weaknesses in the evidence being presented in the administration’s fraud cases to get amplified to deafening volume by the MSM, yet I am not hearing that at all. Why would that be, if the cases’ insufficiencies are so glaringly obvious and unwinnable?
Perhaps my contrariness to the approved narrative stems from my having been raised in DC and having lived there on and off until the age of 35. Government being a business, DC is just another company town, and it’s kinda hard to survive growing up in that swamp without learning some of its tricks. What I’ve seen in this four-year color revolution is riding some of those tricks out into unknown territory until they expire. Given that this “mostly truthful” election is, after more than four weeks have passed, still riding on the media to deliver a win, I’m fully expecting another over-played trick to expire soon. Traditional color revolutions succeed within a week, two at the most. If they pull this off, it will be the most un-traditional color revolution ever.
Of course, the other side has its tricks as well, and a much better appreciation of their inherent limits. Trump gets criticized for always changing course, but that talent has somehow kept him from straying too far out into unknown territory, where his tricks might expire. His team is busy testing all kinds of tricks and tactics behind the scenes, most of which we will never learn about — some might even work! Powell’s veiled threat buried in her announcement of the release of the “Kracken” was not aimed at the viewers at home. The informed operatives Powell actually had in her sights have probably endured quite a few sleepless nights since her subtle sorcery went to work on their worst fears. I knew that conducting a color revolution was a kind of psyops, but I hadn’t yet put it together that effectively combatting a color revolution likewise engages psyops. The various players have been throwing grenades through each other’s transoms with abandon, and they appear to be having a rollicking good time feignting, attacking, and testing their adversaries’ mettle.
And they’re only getting started! The month that has passed since the election has barely provided sufficient time to conduct the back-room dealing and horse trading that are the necessary precursors to anybody risking their own resources by marching to the rescue of a besieged monarch. “What’s in it for me?”, the persuasive battle cry of DC, must ring out from every capitol dome in the land before the combatants can hope to properly appraise each other’s full ranks in all their martial finery. The armies haven’t yet gathered because they have yet to be bought.
At this point, either side could win, and either way, the American people will lose (as well as the chump who gets stuck in the White House.) Once a duly inaugurated president sets up court, I’m fine with accepting that outcome — politics being whatever politicians can succeed in getting away with. But neither side has gotten away with the presidency yet. No matter how I twist and turn this debacle in the light, I just can’t find an angle where its glaring inconsistencies don’t jump out and distract my attention from the simplified done-and-over narrative.
Very good advice to Apprentice on avoiding vaccination. I’m currently making my peace with the idea of not traveling for at least four years. Getting my husband to acquiesce may be the hardest part of it. I’ve had to socially distance for the past twenty years due to ubiquitous cell phones that my body reacts to. Regarding concerts, this would be an excellent time to pick up a used guitar. Lots of stuff on-line to teach you how to play it. Read all the books you meant to read. Take up an art. The world is just full of so many wonderful things at any scale. Let the insanity pass you by.
This article reveals use of PR firms by the WHO to try to combat “vaccine hesitancy.” using questionable psychological techniques. They are trying to get movie stars, community leaders and others that many people look up to to endorse vaccination. We are going to see a lot of this sort of stunt; https://childrenshealthdefense.org/defender/covid-vaccine-hesitancy-widespread-medical-professionals/
An interesting newspaper article on the whole question of perceiving elections as stolen, which can apply equally to the left and the right:
Sorry if this has come up already, I didn’t have time to read all the comments this week.
You mentioned monastic examples of successful intentional communities. I don’t know how flexible your definition of Monasticism is, but would you include the Amish, Menonites, Hutterites and Bruderhof communities in your definition?
All four groups have at least a few “socialist” aspects, such as the group paying doctor bills or group barn raisings for the benefit of a sigle famiily. The Hutterites and Bruderhof have little in the way of personal property and live in a “community of goods”.
Of course if every example of cooperation can’t be called socialism so one might object to calling the Amish and Mennonites “socialist”. I think it would be hard not to call the Hutterites and Bruderhof communities socialist, at least to a large degree.
Owing to adult baptism and the need to committ to the group they are definitely intentiional communities.
Your thoughts ?
Sorry, I see that the very first post covers my questiion.
I remember you predicted back in May 2020 that a medical solution would be found for Covid-19.
It appears that ivermectin, a commonly used drug, was that solution and is already widely used in the developing world.
Oddly, it hasn’t been discussed at all in the West. What are your thoughts on that and the risks possibly associated with the Oxford vaccine bring developed?
Hi John Michael,
I’m very late to join the conversation this week and have still only read through the first half of the comments but, as always, thanks for another outstanding post and amazing commentariat. I’m continually blown away by how deep and rich it is — I feel privileged to be a part of it.
I was struck by an early comment (and your response) regarding the Neptunian influence on Fourier, along with several comments imagining that he might have been influenced by psychoactive drugs. He wrote in an era when opium was probably the most obtainable psychoactive drug for people of his class.
Any idea if he partook?
More broadly, I’m struck by the extent to which Neptune was at play in the emergence of Socialism. Fourier was writing during the warmup phase prior to the planet’s discovery in 1846 but note how the real action around establishing phalansteries began in earnest around that time. And of course, this decade marks the beginning of Marx’s writing and profound influence.
I’m also contemplating the 1892 Neptune/Pluto conjunction and seeing how Pluto’s particularly deadly, totalitarian vibe began to merge with Socialism. This is the longest of planetary synods, nearly 500 years. Your views on Pluto’s waning influence notwithstanding, they will reach their first square aspect around 2060 and that may well symbolize an era of extreme crisis in our long descent.
I also peeked at the Wikipedia page on Fourier and was intrigued to see that he was known and respected by Kropotkin and Marcuse who opined “Fourier comes closer than any other utopian socialist to elucidating the dependence of freedom on non-repressive sublimation.” Hmmm, ‘non-repressive sublimation’…how Neptunian!
Gratitude and blessings to you all.
@Matthias Gralle, @JMG
Thank you for your responses. If, as pointed out by Matthias, this thing has a good prediction capability, it might indeed help design a better pharmacological experiment. That said, I still don’t think (and I could be wrong about this) that any understanding of the dynamics involved has been arrived at. I mean, Deepmind uses deep learning, in which you train your software to predict things by feeding it data (in very simple terms). However, the mechanism involved is not yet understood (and this is where mechanistic models score above data-driven models), and until then, I’ll continue to be sceptical, especially about this media hype. Of course, there’s also the possibility that we may never get an understanding of this topic, the way no mechanistic model has been able to explain ESP in humans, but that’s a different topic altogether…
The new CEO of Barnes and Nobles who you quote from the article is British. He formerly was the head of the British equivalent of B&N. That book store chain was having the same problems and he instituted the local model there. It turned around the chain’s problems and I hear is doing very well now.
Everyone. Thanks for all the heads up on the vaccine. I wasn’t planning on getting it but now I have ammo to worn others
JMG, Robert, onething, et al
I was going to save this for the next open post but it has come up. If not Kosher edit this part out JMG. It is pretty obvious there was rigging in this election. Do you all thing it changed the outcome of the election. I was sure the suburbs were going to break strong for Trump out of fear of riots and defunding the police efforts. However they seem to have broken the other way out of dislike for Trump himself. If that is true. Biden won or near close enough
A couple interesting things on the National Propaganda Radio this morning:
First, a long section in On the Media of anti-vaccer scare propaganda. I’ll graciously allow all my local politicians (I’m looking at you, Gina) and their children and grandchildren to get ahead of me in the vaccination line.
Secondly, especially of interest to Patricia Ormsby, a report an assessment attributing the mystery illnesses suffered by US personnel in Cuba to microwave radiation. Let’s see, Wikipedia says “Microwave is a form of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths ranging from about one meter to one millimeter, with frequencies between 300 MHz (1 m) and 300 GHz (1 mm)”. Of course, the media has been busy telling us that 5G has no effect on people. Lets see, also according to that unimpeachable source Wikipedia, “First there is Frequency Range 1 (FR1) … spectrum offerings from 410 MHz to 7125 MHz. The other is Frequency Range 2 (FR2) that includes frequency bands from 24.25 GHz to 52.6 GHz”.
To paraphrase Raymond Chandler: “(media) intelligence is a phrase which contains an internal contradiction.”
Everyone here familiar with “RCA”, i.e., “Root Cause Analysis”?
I’d ask everyone here what (if anything) about Socialism is the least bit attractive to them personally? That “root cause” is key. And no, broad utopian platitudes or expression of concern about anyone outside yourself, family or immediate social circle aren’t personal — no virtue-signaling, please.
Although humans are inherently and necessarily social, human nature is decidedly not “socialist” which is why failure is inevitable. Motivated self-interest grows the pie; coercive redistribution shrinks it.
Some good detail about Arecibo in this article; https://www.sciencenews.org/article/arecibo-telescope-collapse-loss-big-deal-astronomy-video?utm_source=Editors_Picks&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=editorspicks120620
This just in: Matt Taibbi is leaving mainstream media, apparently he will self publish:
Can’t say I’m surprised.
Ah, that explains it! Thanks for this information. Definitely the plan sounds more like something the British would come up with than the US, sad to say.
TJandtheBear, can you please provide us some examples of your allegedly better, small government societies, in actual practice, rather than your strongly held emotionally comforting beliefs? Most of the countries, cities, and states/provinces with very small government are hellholes.
I have the theory, that of course could be wrong, that in the center of an Empire only a very very limited and controled democracy, with very limited set of choices, can stay (not a true democracy), because many many trillions and the correct working of the global wealth pump (not only to USA, but to other rich countries) are at stake.
In the past, in other countries, for example Guatemala (Arbenz) or Iran (Mossadeg), the people decided, democratically, to elect the “wrong” president, a military coup was the prefered choice; but after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and with no help from outside expected and if the “roge regime” persist, the prefered solution is a combination of economic sanctions, threat of military attack, freeze (steal) the financial assests (US$), MSM harassment campaign, colour revolutions, and assassination of leaders; and then when the economy of the country crashes, they will elect the “right” president that will have the “right” economic policy to give “prosperity” to the people in the country. That is the way to have cheap access to natural resources and give them enough “help” in the form of credits (debt in US$), to maintain enough debt to sustain the wealth pump at full throttle.
So you can have a democratic system OUTSIDE the center, in the periphery (it will be “disciplined” later), BUT in the center of the Empire, if they loss all the tools of the state, it is impossible to make economic sanctions, to freeze the financial assests (in US$), or to threat with military attack/invasion (who will dare?), they only have a limited set of tools which are MSM harassment campaigns, colour revolutions and assassination of leaders, two of them have been used against Trump. But with even with a limited democratic system that tactics could be certainly very counterproductive, and, in fact, they were.
So the resort to the fraud/rigging is too tempted in the center of the Empire, I think that’s the only reason they have not change the electoral system, because even if Trump is a head ache, the biggest threat could come from the (socialist) left, but now it seems that Trump is much more resilient than expected, and he is showing “too much” of how the system really works, and I think this is his strategy, I hope the “other side” (not the democrats, but “they”) does not use the “Idus Martii” tactic (the only one they have not use yet).
Of course a civil war is the worst outcome of all, but for me it seems that many many people in your country, even in the “dominant minority”, are wanting one, and that’s not a good sign
I wish you a quick recovery
JMG and all, this seems to be a good authoritative critique of mRNA vaccines.
I originally found it last night on https://www.globalresearch.ca/, but it appears to have been taken down since. According to the article, Pfizer went straight to human studies without even doing animal studies first.
Also experimenting on children:
Here’s an excerpt:
“…To date, Pfizer has administered two doses of vaccine to almost 35,000 adult participants in five countries. Unworried by the dramatic side effects reported by some of these adults — including high fever, pounding headaches, body aches, exhaustion and shivering intense enough to crack teeth — more than 90 parents have already expressed interest in volunteering their teenagers.
Are these parents (perhaps left unemployed by coronavirus restrictions) tempted by the financial incentives offered to clinical trial participants, reportedly anywhere from $1200 to $2000? Otherwise, their motivation for wanting to throw their children into the experimental fray is unclear; as the director of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital stated, “most of the time, what a coronavirus causes is a cold” that does not even make children “sick enough to where a parent says they need to go to a doctor.”
The Cincinnati physician has, nonetheless, just started giving Pfizer’s shot to 16- and 17-year-olds (and soon to 12-15-year-olds). To entice additional young participants, he tells parents that the COVID-19 death rate in children is “not zero” — but declines to spell out that, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the survival rate in those age 19 and under is 99.997%.”
This is all much worse than I cynically imagined.
Was the question rhetorical? If not, here’s what I personally dislike more about socialism:
I value self reliance. I do not feel much of a need to exploit other people’s labor, but I prefer to have as much control as possible of the means of production I use to leverage my own labor. I dislike being a cog in somebody else’s machine; and when that somebody else repeatedly push stupid decisions on their pawns, dislike turns into chagrin and resentment. Not that I do not do stupid things now and then, but at least I can own it up and try to do better next time.
Now, you may claim that in a true socialist setting there’s nobody to “own” the means or production. I lack the social skills and disposition to elevate myself to the position of “first among equals”; therefore I do not care if the decision maker theoretically “owns” the blasted thing or not, only that it will not be me deciding. The fact that there is not a figurehead to take the blame if things go wrong makes the situation actually worse, ’cause I’d probably end up blaming myself for situations outside of my control. I fear that would be terrible for my mental health.
Mike, I’m told that monks and nuns find that one hilarious.
Christophe, it’s growing indeed. Difficult as the present time is, it’s got immense potentials for change for the better. I’ll be talking about that in future posts.
CR (if I may), one of the things I expect over the next century or so is that Mexico will become a far more important and influential North American country as the United States falters, and Mexican models for doing things will be picked up and implemented in some surprising places and ways. That way of handling elections is one we could do well to follow.
Apprentice, there are worse scenarios. Consider a successful seizure of power by radical zealots from either side — socialist or reactionary — who impose a totalitarian state, leading to a half century or so of prison camps, mass graves, and ongoing domestic insurgencies, all amplified by the accelerating impact of the Long Descent and fed by all those countries overseas that think they can gain by pouring gasoline on the flames. A few years of civil war would be much less ghastly.
Andy, that’s an interesting question. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility, but it would have to begin with a movement toward stricter public morality among a significant fraction of the middle classes — that’s what drove the Victorian reaction against the slack morals and sky-high corruption of the Regency period — and with a resurgence of religion. If you see those things happening, brace yourself for the new Victorianism.
Robert, interesting. Many thanks for the copy; as soon as I’ve corrected the vast number of scan-os, I’ll post this as a page on this blog for the delectation of readers.
Christophe, one of the things that fascinates me about the way things turned out is that the Democrats aren’t acting as though they won. The two wings of the party — call them “socialist” and “kleptocrat” for the sake of convenience — are ripping into each other, Pelosi’s reelection as Speaker is apparently in jeopardy, and Biden’s gone beyond mouthing the usual platitudes about unity and coming together and is sounding very much like someone who knows he’s boarded a sinking ship. Your comments about the behavior of the media are also highly relevant — they’re blustering in a way that shows just how insecure they are. It really does look as though both sides lost the election — and that raises the question of what the Democratic elites know that the rest of us don’t.
Robert, thanks for this.
Christopher, it’s a valid question!
Forecastingintelligence, there are actually several effective treatments for the coronavirus in use outside the Western industrial nations. By the time they emerged, though, the big pharmaceutical corporations had already invested millions in vaccine development, and were also pricing in the billions in windfall profits they expect to get from vaccine sales, so their captive regulatory agencies made sure those investments and prospective profits would be secure. It’s hardly the first time that’s happened.
Jim, I don’t happen to know if Fourier was into opium, but it would make a lot of sense. Laudanum — opium dissolved in alcohol — was legal and readily available, and it lent a certain hallucinatory quality to quite a few literary works during that time. As for Neptune, yes, exactly. My take on the Plutonian element, which of course differs from yours, is that Pluto began to over the Marxist movement from Neptune promptly after its phasing-in period began in 1900, and is now losing its grip — one of the distinctive features of all Plutonian phenomena is that they don’t live up to their hype, and that’s certainly been true of socialism! By 2036 I expect socialism to have returned to what it was between 1848 and 1900, a haven for dreamy-eyed idealists and a source of occasional ineffective rebellions.
Will O, I have no idea. It was obviously a much closer election than I expected; whether the fraud actually determined the outcome is always a good question in a close US election.
Peter, if they’re actually talking about popular distrust of vaccines on NPR, the crisis of legitimacy is even further along than I thought. Even the official polls are saying that only about half of Americans are willing to take the vaccine, down from 72% earlier this year!
TJ, that’s a fascinating question, and one that might best be explored via a look at Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer…
Tomxyza, thanks for this!
Apprentice, given some of his recent essays, it was probably a matter of jumping before he was pushed. Still, I hope he finds a niche and keeps writing.
DFC, as I see it, a relatively open democratic system was functional here so long as there were plenty of goodies to go around; it always worked to bribe the opposition with some of the gains of empire, and get them to cooperate with the system that produced the loot. (What happened to the environmental movement in the US and western Europe is a fine example of this in practice.) The difficulty now is that the imperial wealth pump is faltering and there aren’t enough goodies to go around, and so at this point staying in control of the machine that produces the graft has become a blood sport. I expect it to get very colorful indeed as the decline picks up.
Apprentice, thanks for all of this.
The talk about the vaccine, side effects, and dangerous associated with it made something suddenly click: I think a lot of the current hysteria around the virus makes a lot more sense if we assume a lot of the people losing their minds have, at some subconscious level, this idea that no one can ever die unless the virus does them in. I think it’s the result of massive amounts of efforts to avoid dealing with death and treating it as unnatural and something which can be avoided, and the propaganda about the virus killing people. I grew up in middle class, with all the toxicity that it entails, and I know I had to do a lot of journaling to persuade my subconscious death existed as something more than this thing shown on TV…..
The result is a mess where people subconsciously believe death can’t happen unless Covid does them in. So of course the vaccine will be frantically rushed: the people doing it, and planning to get it, genuinely believe that they can’t die from it, but they will die from Covid; so it doesn’t matter how bad the vaccine is, it will still be considered better than the alternative!
One of my friends who works for the Canadian government has said that he’s heard rumours from someone in Health Canada that part of the reason that the Pfizer vaccine had such a low rate of people who received the vaccine getting Covid is that a large number of them could not be contacted for follow up. What exactly that means is an open question, but if it’s true, the vaccine might not work and incapacitate a large number of people who take it. Whether that means insanity, death, coma, or something else, this could be very, very ugly……
Yes, of course. When I was an undergraduate in biochemistry, I dreamed about “cracking the folding code”. Nobody has come any nearer cracking this code since then, and Artificial Intelligence, here as elsewhere, is a black box that provides little understanding.
“Solving the protein folding problem” most of the time, nowadays, means simply coming up with good predictions. They might as well come from a dream or automatic writing 🙂
Onething – sorry to hear you’re not doing well. You have my prayers; please refresh my memory as to who I should address them to.
Christophe: Jesus did not escape the gatekeepers at all, nor did his followers. The Roman were on them like a pride of lions on an antelope.
@ Lunar Aprentice:
Here is an article of Dr. Romero Quijano (from Pilippines), a known expert in toxycology and health but with a different view about disease, and very critic of vaccines, or at least as the way they are beeing used:
For example, about the polio pandemic and the polio vaccine:
“The majority of polio cases actually do not cause symptoms in those who are infected. Symptoms occur in only approximately 5 percent of infections with a case fatality rate of only about 0.4%. Even during the peak epidemics, poliovirus infection resulting in long-term paralysis was a low-incidence disease that was falsely represented as a rampant and violent paralytic disease by advertising campaigns to fast track the approval and release of the Salk vaccine with Rockefeller as the key supporter. The hasty approval led to the infamous “Cutter disaster,” the poliomyelitis epidemic that was initiated by the use of the Salk vaccine produced by Cutter vaccine company. In the end, at least 220,000 people were infected with the live polio virus contained in the Cutter vaccine. Seventy five percent of Cutter’s victims were paralyzed for the rest of their lives. When national immunization campaigns were initiated in the 1950s, the number of reported cases of polio following mass inoculations with the killed-virus vaccine was significantly greater than before mass inoculations and may have more than doubled in the US as a whole.”
So the rush in a complex system is not good.
“The Dengvaxia vaccine fiasco in the Philippines also illustrates the danger of rushing a vaccine and allowing corporate interests driven by market forces to address people’s health needs. As a result, many of the vaccinated suffered or died after a botched mass vaccination program. The vaccine was eventually withdrawn but the damage have already been done. According to the Chief Pathologist of the Public Attorney’s Office, 153 of those vaccinated with Dengvaxia had died as of February 18, 2020.”
Some not good news about the Moderna vaccine:
“Last May 18, Moderna, the Gates and US government supported vaccine company, claimed that their experimental COVID-19 vaccine had positive early results and that the company’s vaccine could be available to the public as early as January 2021. However, Moderna did not mention that 3 of the 15 human volunteers in the high dose group suffered a “serious adverse event” within 43 days of receiving Moderna’s vaccine. Moderna did not release its clinical trial study or raw data, but acknowledged that three volunteers developed Grade 3 systemic events, defined by the FDA as “preventing daily activity and requiring medical intervention.” These outcomes are certainly not encouraging, especially because the most hazardous hurdle for the inoculation is still ahead, i.e., when vaccinees are challenged with wild COVID-19 infection. Past attempts at developing coronavirus and other vaccines have always faltered at this stage, as both humans and animals which achieved robust antibody response then sickened and died when exposed to the wild virus”
The article is full of interesting case and I think is worth reading before take one of these new (still experimental) vaccines because:
“Another anomaly not disclosed to the public is that the normally required animal safety studies, usually in ferrets and primates as was done in the failed attempt to develop SARS 1 vaccine, have been waived under the pressure of the pro-vaccine lobby. In an interview with CNN, Dr. Tal Zaks, Moderna’s chief medical officer, admitted that since it’s not yet clear whether natural infection with COVID-19 confers immunity to re-infection, it’s also not yet clear whether vaccination confers immunity. “The truth is, we don’t know that yet…We are going to have to conduct formal efficacy trials where you vaccinate many, many people, and then you monitor them in the ensuing months to make sure they don’t get sick,” Zaks said.”
They have not made any animal tests, WE are the “animal tests”
So, as Moderna and the rest of pharma companies said, the real “trial” will start when millions of people are vaccinated, THEN they will know what the results really are, but they have the money yet and the executives will have sold the stocks even before the problems start to arise (as the CEO of Pfizer did)
Aloha thanks for the insight, great article
Very much to the point here:
Kaiser’s a charter member of the PMC, but he calls them as he sees them.
JMG, about both sides losing the US election: there was the Magical Resistance and the Alt-Right; and apparently they were, so to speak, both successful in their spells, so that nobody won.
About your answer to DFC, it is interesting to note that Oswald Spengler predicted power struggles in the age of Caesarism to get increasingly brutal.
“Bridge, excellent! As I see it, the five classical planets were discovered sometime before 3500 BC and we still haven’t finished integrating their astrological energies, so it’s no wonder that we’ve made so little progress yet with Neptune’s energy.”
Is it possible we never will? It’s possible that it hasn’t happened yet because it can’t happen. I think it’s quite likely that figuring out how to integrate the energies of the planets is part of the task of being human, and so anyone who pulls it off soon moves on to the next phase of existence; while there are always new souls coming up who need to learn how to do it.
@ CR Patiño – I am one of those people who cannot tell their strategy from their tactics. However, here is something that I was musing on the other day. Because, polio never went away, you know.
You yourself could do a search under the term “Acute Flaccid Paralysis” and find there many photos of children who have a paralysed limb, with various kinds of braces in use. Some of them are on ventilators, which, granted, are much more photogenic these days than the old, whole body enclosing, iron lungs used to be.
The original, clinical definition of poliomyelitis was a person presenting with symptoms of paralysis in one or more limbs, without any prior history of spine or head trauma, thought to be due to inflammation in the grey matter of the spinal cord. Using the standard greek-derived medicalese term generator you will get “poliomyelitis” as the name for this.
Before the 50’s, poliomyelitis cases were identified and notified to the authorities on the basis of two physical examinations separated by at least 24 hours. Meanwhile, there was a massive, publicly funded and PR-driven search to identify the culpable pathogen and develop a virus against it. In 1954 a huge, and well publicised trial of Salk’s test vaccine took place. Following approval, the public began to receive it in 1955. Meanwhile, to make a notification of poliomyelitis cases, a doctor now had to show that their diagnosis was based on two physical examinations taking place at least six months apart – ie a different diagnostic criteria to the one that had been used up to then, as many cases of non-traumatic paralysis did then, and do now, recover before six months is passed.
Meanwhile, one outbreak of poliomyelitis that was closely examined by researchers in 1958, now that viral testing was now available, revealed that only half of the sufferers showed any sign of infection with the virus that is now called the poliovirus. In the intervening years, cases of non-traumatic spinal cord inflamation leading to paralysis in one or more limbs, could no longer be called “polio” if “poliovirus” infection could not be proven, and so, such cases began to attract a dizzying number of other names – AFP, NPAFP, ADE, GBS, CIDP, and TM, among others – making it difficult to track and count cases and assess the impact of the vaccine on (clinically defined) poliomyelitis.
So, to stay topical, imagine if Fourier had persuaded millions of people to contribute their dimes to the project of turning the oceans into lemonade. And supposing by some magic trick sleight of hand, everyone “saw” the lemonade conversion happen on their screens. But still, when people actually go to the ocean, it has its old salty tang. But just don’t say it too loud…
So, the polio eradication story took place in public, in the media and on screens. People who donated to developing the polio virus through the old March of Dimes, avidly watched as their money was put to use in that highly publicised trial and use of a vaccine. But were they cheated of the lemonade ocean they had donated to? I think so. Although the “poliovirus” targetted by the vaccine is very likely no longer in circulation (so that it can truthily be called “eradicated”) I reckon the end to the prospect of children suffering paralytic diseases is what people thought they were contributing to, and also, what they still think they actually got.
So whether it is strategy, or tactics, the attempt to eradicate a disease process by taking aim at one specific pathogen (which may, or may not be its sole cause) and killing it dead, seems a poorly chosen one – especially if the disease itself, refuses to go away. But polio eradification is our “yay, hay” success story (based on comparisons of notifications of cases based on different criteria before and after), and it is such a popular story, that now a vaccine seems to be the only possible strategy? tactic? anyone can imagine adopting in the face of disease processes that assail us, any more.
Been thinking of utopia, and other fantasies of perfection recently. It is a fact that around 2010 when I started reading The Archdruidreport in regularly I was working on a little utopian project of my own. Having made a retreat from an academic path I had a goal of starting a self sufficient community intended to function as a philosophy school. That dream had all the ear marks of a utopian vision, and was interconnected with my belief that industrial society was going off the rail, giving the project and Ark like dimension. Desire to understand the decline of civilization was codependent with that dream, and in many ways it imparted a forceful attraction to the writings on that blog. The early adventures I embarked on to prepare myself for the eventual work of starting that community did a great deal to make me the man I now am. Fortunately I paid enough attention to the strife common in the other projects I visited during those adventures to begin, over a bout three years, to see deeply seated flaws in that visions ability to manifest. It so happens that I was friends with Chad Haag, today a modestly successful video blogger on the decline of industrial civilization and quite the Greer scholar, at the time and was working to entice him into participating in my vision. Some time around 2012 he grew frustrated with some of the issues in my vision and had an exchange with you, JMG, in the blog comment section, the exact content of that exchange I don’t recall at the moment, but your response to his critique was one of the final dead blows on that romantic vision for me.
Since then I moved my vision to a more personal domain and have worked, with tolerable success, toward becoming a free lance Green Wizard, for lack of a more convenient title. It is still working in the light of an ideal, perhaps an ideal that is beyond any precise manifestation, but as it is centered more personally the complexities of following that guiding star aren’t so intractable.
I have a couple thoughts on the emotional appeal of such visions. The first is one of disenfranchisement, for I felt I had burned my bridges to participate in main stream society in anyway I had a workable narrative for, and therefore felt compelled to create a social context where I could find great success. So it is that alienation from the existing order is a great attractor to visions which present as giving one a place. I think of Fourier now, and your comment about his apparent seperation from romantic success, and of how emotionally hurtful romantic difficulties are in life, and feel a sympathy for the desire to realize a vision where he could have, among other victories, the intimate conquests his real life was not fulfilling. I know that in my vision of the Thinkery project, to use a title my vision carried for some time, took for granted that in such a setting the exact kind of romantic situations I most idealized would thrive. If one cannot get some on the material plane, make do on another. More generally we idealize a life where we might be protected from the pains that most confound our ability to find meaning in this life. Yet, ironically those pains are often the exact things that we need most in order to grow. While the idea of a society where problems are all addressed neatly has lost its luster to me I still notice a similar pattern on other pats of life, there are many dreams that become nightmares in waking life.
First, I am grateful to anyone who prays (or does other working) for me. I really need relief for my right arm…don’t know if it matters, but my name is Anna.
As to whether the election was close, I don’t think so. Too many tens and hundreds of thousands of ballots were fiddled. I listened to a hearing just about Georgia and the guy listed about 5 or 6 irregularities involving many thousands of ballots.
I am heartened JMG on your ideas for how things could be poised for improvement but I also see this whole year as a rollout for totalitarianism and wonder what safeguards they might put in place.
As to Trump being Hitler, that one is silly, regardless of what else you might think of him. No dictator worthy of the name fails to have the media under control. Someone has that, but not him!
@TJandTheBear – what I find attractive about socialism is the criticism of capitalism it facilitates.
OTOH, I’ve realised that critical conversations about capitalism’s obvious flaws would be a lot easier if socialism hadn’t happened, because then people wouldn’t jump to assume I am one & might more readily hear me out and also join in.
Also, I second JMG’s recommendation of Eric Hoffer’s True Believer. He is so piercingly insightful on why and how people get caught up in mass movements, it can send shivers down your back.
@Robert Mathiesen Thank you for sharing Rhode Island’s political history. “So what if he’s a crook, he’s our crook” made me laugh. So true!
as a Frenchman I have been taught about Fourier’s social projetcs, just as a mention since there was indeed a large movements of what we’d call “paternalism”, the idea that a good industry captain can do a lot of good for society through treating well its workers. It only works if you operate an industry that makes a lot of profits, though. This could be a Latin thing, with the importance of family/group values coupled to patriarchanism… as opposed to the Protestant notion of the individual suceeding in entrepreneurship thanks to his/her virtues. Fabian socialism seems to have quite in common with that, still. Echoes are to be found in Keynes’ theories, Fordism… so Fourier is in good company here!
What was interesting to learn about is the ‘visionary’, in the mystical sense, aspect of his work. Fortunately we don’t remember famous thinkers’ errments, we tend to focus on the more articulate things they said.
In general, there is something I am curious about, and this goes in with Sebastien’s mention of Bihouix. It seems that we all agree about the Internet being bound to fade away from its current status as a basic necessity, while also resource scarcity maintaining its spiralling grip on rich societies, more or less visibly. However it would seem like the technical side of the “Great Reset” narrative has pretty much won the current narratives we hold towards the future.
The French government will ban ICE in car sales in 2040, and even hybrid car sales will be banned then.
Same for new housing, it will have to be equipped with electric heating.
But we all agree that electric cars are in fact not ecological, nor economical in a context of resource scarcity. On a side note the EU is trying to establish clean lithium mines on good Portuguese farmland, what’s ecological in Germany doesn’t have to be so in Portugal…
And electrical heating depends on, huh, electricity, which in French translates to nuclear power. Which also will have to be banned at some point!
Same with IT: we have to make it green, etc… And the government is setting up a platform to help each small business to go online for free. Essentially, that portal is a collection of links, with discounts, to various platforms all puporting to reference small businesses in your area. So, we now should have to go to the Internet to figure out which small businesses are in our neighborhood. Like Astérix would say, ‘Ils sont fous ces français” (français = French from the North, same as the Romans, overtook the place for centuries now :-)).
Also, everywhere even the state administrations push for dématérialisation. Like, ‘hardware removal’.
And then the so called sanitary situation is just one more excuse to move towards digitalizing everything, while pretty effectively destroying even more small businesses (the city centers having been destroyed already by all those suburban shopping areas).
So overall I don’t get this, it looks like we are pushing even faster towards our trouble, pedal-to-the-metal. Forbidding any form of consumer heavy appliances (cars, heating) that’s not electric will in essence amount to forbidding that tech altogether.
Dematerializing services amounts to, not just removing the inconvenient physical side of it, but also removing it altogether. Because whenever you’ll actually need something from the administration that’s more than just a few electrons, it will be harder to obtain, with the quality of the service diminishing faster ever. It’s already like that with a few deliveries, even in big cities, and it will be so even more frequently.
On a broader view, leaving aside religious/community considerations (our news will easily give you an idea of what trouble we have), I fear that we are getting even more divided into two parallel economies, one small priviledged one, and the other subsiding on state welfare and home food production. Except that parallels don’t exist in the real world, especially when they have to occupy the same physical territories. I am wondering what form their interactions are going to take, especially since one relies on the other, while the reverse is not quite as true… And social unrest is just anecdote. Rioting in the streets is just a particularly strenuous form of physical exertion, as you already noted many times. What other interactions could there be? I guess people living in household with only 1 supporting job, and the rest being local food production, will amount to a big part of the answer, but if the supply of supporting jobs goes too scarce to even be there for entire territories, trouble will ensue.
There are quite a few interesting projects: one experiment is to take a group of cities, where the unemployment subsidies budget is directly used to pay wages for local jobs. It has worked really well, and the government is trying to expand it to many territories. Another thing is the government’s support for the circular economy, and towns opening thrift/repair clubs. But in no way it could support the economy in its current form (entire industries have been destroyed by the lockdowns, like aeronautics or business catering).
A part of the answer is also for communities to do what they have done so far, to escape the formal economy even more, and to seclude themselves even more from the country where they live in. But nobody wins with this, not these communities nor the rest of the country.
All in all, I wonder how we will keep ourselves together with all this progress.
Onehing, you are in my prayers.
All, I’ve been reading a rather interesting book, The Righteous Mind, by Jonathan Haidt, and in talking it over with my husband who is a fairly Westernized naturalized American originally from Central Africa, we got onto the topic of how socialism arises, as has been discussed here this week.
Often times it’s claimed that socialism is the natural state of tribes by Westerners, but we propose that socialism actually occurs as a reactionary movement to extreme individualism, and that while tribal culture looks superficially socialist, the governing unspoken rules are much more hierarchical than any ideal of socialism would allow for. In practice, socialism has it’s own hierarchy, but it doesn’t match tribalism’s. We illustrate this with the simple question of who gets the shoes?
Suppose your group/family/tribe has a severe shoe shortage: no one has shoes. You, an adult male of working age and good health, have enough materials to fashion one pair of shoes. Who gets the shoes? In the individualistic society: you have the materials, you get the shoes. You probably give them to your son or daughter to go to school, or your wife if she’s working at a task that’s dangerous without shoes. In the tribal society, the shoes go to your elderly father who cannot work anymore. The socialist society should allocate the shoes to workers first, who have need, but in practice they go to the administrators.
If the opposite of one bad idea is another bad idea, where in the middle of the intersection of a whole slew of bad ideas about how to organize human society do we find a messy but livable compromise? All of these ideas of social organization have results where people die who in a different organization would not have died.
Thanks, I look forward to reading this essay. Anything that annoys fundamentalist Neopagans is good in my book.
Onething, I’m not American but I too am disgusted by the wholesale fraud that went on at this presidential election. Patricia O confirms it with her tale of someone essentially bragging about voting 3 times. I work as a poll clerk in the UK and the rules are very tight. No votes accepted one second past 10pm. The electoral register is updated constantly and only those eligible to vote get on it. The technology is old , you draw a line through their name when they receive their paper ballot and the ballot box is sealed at 10pm and will only be opened at the count centre in front of everyone including poll watchers. The system in the US is frankly a disgrace worthy of a banana republic.
Heard on the news, yesterday, another little problem with our “everything delivered, just in time” consumer economy: thieves are attacking the delivery trucks. Drivers often work alone, both driving the vehicle and carrying packages to the customer, so it’s very easy for a small team of thieves to present a credible threat and drive off with the whole truck. (I hear that the Playstation-5 is largely what they’re looking for.) https://wtop.com/dc/2020/12/amazon-delivery-van-stolen-in-northeast-dc-robbery/
How long until we see a second delivery employee “riding shotgun”, literally?
And that’s in addition to the thieves that steal packages from porches, or have contraband delivered to the addresses of unsuspecting homeowners, in case the police are tracking the package. Last year, a pair of Amazon drivers were suspected of stealing packages themselves, too.
JMG, maybe what the Democrats know is that Trump has good solid evidence of election fraud? I don’t think it’ll do him any good, as the Supreme Court probably hates him just as much as the rest of the PMC does, but the Democrats can’t be sure of that.
Ironically, Harris probably had a good chance to win legitimately on the strength of the anti-Trump vote.
Lew–re odd arrangements in book stores. The lamented Tower Books in Sacramento had 3 branches. This was back in the 90s. Apparently managers of different sections were given considerable leeway in layout. At one branch the occult and metaphysical section was shelved alphabetically by _publisher_. Now this might be handy for someone trying to avoid a particular house–outhouse moon, cough, cough–but it is not the way any ordinary reader shops. Very weird. Currently Barnes and Noble has as much floor space devoted to toys and games, blank books and planners, ang gifts as they do to books. The CD section is greatly diminished, but vinyl records have made a comeback, so there is a small selection of those. And, with the pandemic rules my book browsing is limited by my achy knees, since seating has been eliminated. This is the case in the few libraries that are open for browsing as well.
Peter Van Erp – Re: 5G, microwaves, etc. There’s more to RF safety than frequency. In fact, that’s of much less importance than “power”. Your ordinary WiFi signal uses the same 2.4 GHz microwave frequency band as your ordinary microwave oven, but no one expects to cook dinner with the router. The 300 MHz – 3 GHz band has been use for TV broadcasting for decades, but the damage done by TV is (as far as I can tell) in the content (idiocy), not the radiation.
However. To achieve the promised data rates of 5G service is projected to require higher power-density at the user location than 4G (LTE) or 3G (GSM) service. (“Power” comes out of the antenna, and spreads out to become measurable power-density over some area.) Communication speed (“capacity”) depends on power, and people pushing the speed limits will also be pushing the power safety limits (as well as the energy limits of their batteries).
Personally, I’m more than satisfied with 3G and WiFi, and would not be at all surprised if 5G goes the way of quadraphonic “hifi”, or AM stereo broadcasting. Technically feasible, but not worth the penny.
@Peter Van Erp
Thank you for that report. Occasionally reports of harm from sub-thermal levels of radiofrequency and other non-ionizing radiation surface like this only to be hastily denied or ignored to be forgotten. These effects have been documented for centuries and well known since the 1950s. In the early 1970s the US Navy commissioned Zorach Glaser to look into it, and he compiled a library’s worth of reports, mostly from Soviet researchers, after which the Navy decided to suppress it. Zory kept the reports in a rented storage unit for years before cell phones brought out enough interest from the public that he found a taker for them (Dr. Magda Havas). Same year, 1973, the WHO met to discuss EMF health effects. The proceedings and reports from that meeting were suppressed. Claire Edwards, who formerly worked at the UN has a partial copy of them. In 1996, I have heard, a memo went around the UN to the effect of more aggressive suppression needed so that future plans for “sustainable development” could go forward. That year, jurisdiction for EMF health effects passed from the FDA to the FCC in America with the analogous thing occurring in Japan and the Telecommunications Act of 1996 forbade “environmental concerns” from being cited in decisions on cell tower locations, which industry lawyers immediately interpreted as including health concerns. At some point you get enough victims that no amount of suppression will work anymore.
Lots of people are noting that the “long-haul” COVID symptoms are basically identical to electromagnetic illness (EMI, a new term encompassing subjective electrosensitivity and deliberately identical to EMI; electromagnetic interference in machinery). A few electrosensitive acquaintances in the UK who had been diagnosed with COVID-19, who had harsh symptoms and post-viral syndrome as well say it is similar to their electrosensitivity, but stronger. As I found out after getting a dental implant, there are physiological factors that can take a mild case of this and render it debilitating. It will wait to be seen if many people recovering from COVID suddenly find their cellphone gives them excruciating headaches and severe brain fog.
Thank you for a marvelous story about what some call socialism.. I do take mild exception with your description of the motivation of the forced establishment of socialism in Russia. Everyone who could read knew that the West was not about to allow the Soviets to develop whatever they were doing in peace. Heck, the US and other western nations had already invaded the Soviet Union from both the east and west to strangle the nascent social experiment before its ideology could gain a foot hold or, more importantly, spread to populations of European nations.
The Soviets knew along with the rest of the world that industrial production and mass mobilization of human resources were need to fight a war. Invasion from the W(w)est seem to happen like clockwork. They had only so many years to prepare and prepare they did.
When the inevitable invasion came, the Russians fought and fought bravely overcoming their own mistakes as well as developing brilliant military strategies. But, most of all, their victory was due to a population who realized that a Nazi victory would result in for those luck enough to survive, slavery and brutality for generations if not centuries.
The above is not to minimize the damage done by Marxist ideology. However, the Slavic civilization has valued cooperative behavior which probably allowed this ideological aberration of cooperation to take root. I believe that Russia is finding a new vector in blending cooperative behavior with competition and collectivism with individualism. If on the West could do the same but I fear that narcissism a value is too firmly rooted in our leadership.
What’s the beef that the West has with Russia? Whether Russia is capitalist or socialist, the West wants them dead as an independent civilization. Of course, I have my conjectures on this question but I am curious what others may think.
JMG, I like your polemic epithet “corporate Stalinism”. It’s bound to irritate those who preach that private companies can do no evil, and those who see any redeeming features in Stalinism; that is as it should be, and both of those are small groups (I hope – I don’t know the USA personally). It should catch the ear of anybody who dislikes the increasing power of monopolist multinational corporations “too big to fail”, and who doesn’t appreciate the idea of living in a totalitarian dictatorship. That should be the vast majority, I suppose. Not everybody will agree with the idea, of course, but at least it will find a hearing.
Since that is the case. Then Socialism even in species where it works are shown to be very stagnant compared to more Hierarchical Individualized species like Humans.
Arrangement into Kingdoms allows for far more creative freedom by definition than the extremely regimented societies of Hives.
It also speaks to the folly of socialism even as an Ideal if the function of Hives is any indication.
Anonymous, that makes sense. I wonder also if people are using the virus as a substitute for fears that they don’t want to admit that they have. As for the vaccine, if that’s true — and they didn’t even do normal due diligence in following up on their experimental population — then we may be about to take a continent-wide intelligence test; if you pass it, you live…
Joseph, thank you!
Patricia, that’s good to see. Thank you.
Booklover, that’s certainly one possibility.
Anonymous, granted, but astrologers are fairly good at making sense of the classical planets at this point — it’s a struggle to integrate them personally, but the theory is well along. With Uranus and Neptune, we’re still at the toddler stage.
Ray, many thanks for this. I suspect the freelance green wizard approach will be a good deal more successful!
Onething, I think improvements are possible; I don’t think they’re certain, and we have some rough sledding ahead, but there are some very positive opportunities in the future taking shape in front of us. I’ll be discussing that as we proceed.
Jean-Vivien, of course it’s pedal to the metal, with plenty of green window dressing heaped on so that nobody can see where we’re headed. That’s the nature of Faustian culture: take a bad idea and extend it into infinity. I’ll be talking about that, too, as we proceed.
Bridge, I’ll have it up a little later this evening, and will post something on Dreamwidth with the URL.
Your Kittenship, it doesn’t look as though that scares them particularly. I wonder what does.
Observer, I’m well aware of that; recall that I studied Russian language in high school — though I remember little of it at this point besides some colorful profanities — and have written about the place of sobornost in Russian culture here and elsewhere. As for the beef that the West has with Russia, haven’t you read Spengler? Faustian civilization — his term for the West — cannot tolerate any alternative to its One True Path, and to have Russia sitting there square in the path of its Drang nach Osten is an intolerable annoyance to the Faustian mind. As Faustian culture tips further into accelerating decline and the Russian high culture shakes off the last of the Western pseudomorphosis and starts into its thousand-year cycle of expansion, things are going to get very colorful indeed…
Matthias, glad to hear it. I plan on having fun with that phrase.
Info, I ain’t arguing. Still, don’t try convincing the ants of that.
I’m sorry to hear about your health troubles! I’ll be offering prayers for you.
“One of the things I expect over the next century or so is that Mexico will become a far more important and influential North American country as the United States falters, and Mexican models for doing things will be picked up and implemented in some surprising places and ways. That way of handling elections is one we could do well to follow. ”
The thing with countries like Mexico is that many local politicians have to play ball or get shot by their respective Petty Warlord:
So in many cases the Cartels have de facto control of many parts of the Country. Not really democratic in its effect if your chosen candidate gets blown up.
Or having his/her throat slit for noncompliance with local criminals.
“But, most of all, their victory was due to a population who realized that a Nazi victory would result in for those luck enough to survive, slavery and brutality for generations if not centuries.”
The Eastern Front is when a Great Evil fights another Great Evil and a lot of innocents have to join or die. Or get crushed by the respective Evil Empire’s. A Villain vs Villain scenario.
Nazi’s had plans and implemented policies just as bad or worse than the Soviets in their treatment of the local populations.
If the Germans weren’t Nazi’s and was willing to instead of mistreating the Slavs in the territories conquered hand back sovereignty to their respective peoples and freedom from Soviet Tyranny.
Then the Partisans that were really effective at undermining the Nazi effort could have been used to take down the Soviet Union.
And in fact the Germans may have even succeeded if that was all their objective amounted to.
I can’t confirm whether the rumours are true, but another person I know who worked at Health Canada just handed in her resignation, and is fairly irritated about it: apparently her efforts to verify whether Pfizer followed basic, normal due diligence got her in trouble with her boss, who’s under intense political pressure to approve it right away. So it looks like it’s possible the vaccine will be approved despite lacking a lot of basic stuff….
“Info, I ain’t arguing. Still, don’t try convincing the ants of that.”
No worries. Its no wonder that many of those on the Right-Side of the Aisle coined the term “Bugman” who seemed to like to congregate in urban areas. Especially in Cities.
Bugmen gonna Bugman.
> it doesn’t look as though that scares them particularly. I wonder what does.
I expect it is the genuine fervour and confidence of Trump’s base. It appears solid, grounded, sane (if a bit misguided), and is comprised largely of people involved in the real economy (which is actual, tangible, power – even if the supporters have not realised it yet).
The Democrats have nothing at all comparable, so to have Trump as your opposition has got to be terrifying.
Indeed. But Karl Marx was very inconsistent in his opinion on usury.
When it got mentioned in his Book Das Kapital he is quite inconsistent. In one part of the Book he was pretty Anti-Usury given its parasitic effects on society:
But in other parts of the Book he seem to dismiss arguments against Usury.
Usury is the Key Driver of the Capitalism he so decries. And is responsible for the increasing slave-like conditions of the Workers. And the massive artificial inequality that results from the siphoning of wealth as a result of Usury:
“To take usury for money lent is unjust in itself, because this is to sell what does not exist, and this evidently leads to inequality which is contrary to justice. In order to make this evident, we must observe that there are certain things the use of which consists in their consumption: thus we consume wine when we use it for drink and we consume wheat when we use it for food.
Wherefore in such like things the use of the thing must not be reckoned apart from the thing itself, and whoever is granted the use of the thing, is granted the thing itself and for this reason, to lend things of this kin is to transfer the ownership.
Accordingly if a man wanted to sell wine separately from the use of the wine, he would be selling the same thing twice, or he would be selling what does not exist, wherefore he would evidently commit a sin of injustice. On like manner he commits an injustice who lends wine or wheat, and asks for double payment, viz. one, the return of the thing in equal measure, the other, the price of the use, which is called usury.
On the other hand, there are things the use of which does not consist in their consumption: thus to use a house is to dwell in it, not to destroy it. Wherefore in such things both may be granted: for instance, one man may hand over to another the ownership of his house while reserving to himself the use of it for a time, or vice versa, he may grant the use of the house, while retaining the ownership.
For this reason a man may lawfully make a charge for the use of his house, and, besides this, revendicate the house from the person to whom he has granted its use, as happens in renting and letting a house.
Now money, according to the Philosopher (Ethic. v, 5; Polit. i, 3) was invented chiefly for the purpose of exchange: and consequently the proper and principal use of money is its consumption or alienation whereby it is sunk in exchange. Hence it is by its very nature unlawful to take payment for the use of money lent, which payment is known as usury: and just as a man is bound to restore other ill-gotten goods, so is he bound to restore the money which he has taken in usury.”
If the left-leaning people want to overthrow the injustices of “Capitalism” they must deal with usury and Financial Capital.
It is nothing more than a parasite sucking the Proletariat dry.
The U.K. is giving the vaccination to the at risk elderly first. The U.S. plans to follow suit after frontline workers. My household intends to wait and see until at least June, albeit while squinting between closed fingers. To us, giving a new and different vaccine to fragile elders and the physically/mentally exhausted sound like an intentional recipe for failure. In addition, tonight, the U.S. nightly news gave time to the argument that in distributions of the covid-19 vaccine the poorest communities should be given priority because “they” don’t get the medical care the rest of America gets and are mostly made up of people of color. Just imagine if this vaccine went sideways…
Anonymous wrote, “The result is a mess where people subconsciously believe death can’t happen unless Covid does them in. So of course the vaccine will be frantically rushed: the people doing it, and planning to get it, genuinely believe that they can’t die from it, but they will die from Covid; so it doesn’t matter how bad the vaccine is, it will still be considered better than the alternative!”
Cripes! That would explain so many of the self-destructive behaviors we’ve seen recently. I believe good old Ockham would have bestowed an A++ on you for this one, Anonymous. If Covid is just our newest personification of Hades/Pluto/Hel, then the gods truly do still stride across the land with heavy footfalls. What a fascinating idea…
Mask wearing is just signaling membership as a worshiper in the cult of the Great God Covid. And not so much social signaling to each other, as desperately, wretchedly hoping to catch the fleeting attention of that cruel and capricious God. “If I wear the plaid mask today, will Almighty Covid deem me, his most humble and obsequious servant, deserving to beseechingly, grovelingly exist for yet another day?”
All the bizarre disinfection rituals and “social” distancing are nothing but futile propitiations to this new God of Death, that he might find them worthy of his fickle clemency. “Make every surface in thy abode like unto a sanctified altar to our Beloved Covid who reigns in the sterile realms of Death. And perform ablutions upon thy unworthy hands whenever thoughts of His divinity should enter thy awareness. And keep thee the sacred distance, that the planets too not stray and collide out of their protected spheres.”
The curfews ensure that none will dare to defile the Great God Covid by venturing out during his jealously guarded hours of gloom and pestilence. Next they will tell us we must close and shutter our windows at night to protect from the miasma (and to preserve His hallowed darkness.) “The day is for frivolous, worthless men to scamper about in vain, but the sacred night belongs to our Mighty God. Keep ye this commandment or face the dire consequences!”
And the cries for salvation! I almost want to weep listening to their impassioned pleading for some totem of protection. “Almighty Covid, bestow upon us a vaccine, derived from a piece of thine very own sacred body, that we too might partake in thy divine strength! This gift we will receive obediently in thy holy name. And woe betide those unbelievers who would disobey and forsake such a divine gift, for truly they will suffer for an eternity in the shadow-filled realm of Covid, the bringer of Death!!!”
I think the Age of Reason may have truly come to a close.
May whim and fantasy reign supreme with each mayor and governor delighting in his own caprice! At last, doctors can once again cavort round their bubbling cauldrons while incanting their charming mythologies to their disciples. Tiny magical vials, containing all our hopes and dreams, can be sent out on great pilgrimages across the continents to bestow their blessings on all the peoples. And, like Rumpelstiltskin, our farthest planet can throw one, last, mighty tantrum before disappearing into a chunk of ice. A mythic age has begun!
You are correct that 5G will entail higher power densities. In fact, the self-appointed private advisory body ICNIRP, posing as a standard-setting authority, has recently updated its thermal-based exposure standards to allow for a certain amount of heating in the brain and even more in anterior parts of the eye, and this still ignores the possibility of hot spots in areas with lots of metallic objects with reflection and resonance complicating matters. You wonder what these people are smoking. (I’ve heard from one researcher acquainted with them that at least one of them smokes cigarettes pretty heavily.)
Power density is an important factor in the occurrence of biological effects, but as with endocrine disruptors, researchers have found that certain effects occur at lower power densities that disappear at higher power densities. Frequency is a factor as well, as is polarization, and possibly the most important factor of all appears to be modulation, pulsing at low frequencies in particular.
At a hang glider site where I used to fly, we flew along a ridge back and forth for several kilometers with nice ridge lift, and it would take us by communications antennas repeatedly, which were near the launch/landing. A few people had heard of possible carcinogencity at that time and expressed mild concern. It was some time after 1996, after digitalization of communications signals got underway, that some of the men who had been flying at that site had reproductive troubles and upon examination found their sperm had been damaged. I don’t know whether the power densities were boosted at that time or not. I would assume not significantly in an area accessible to the public. It was an unintended consequence.
@ Rita Rippetoe – Thanks for this. A few years ago I watched a documentary (All Things Must Pass) about the rise and fall of Tower Records. They didn’t say to much about the book division, but it must have collapsed, too. Info on the book division is sparse. But there was mention that display came out of the Berkley store 🙂 . I guess there’s a documentary, on them, also.
There was also some mention of some kind of resurrection of the Tower brand, in the works. I guess who ever is doing that (some Canadian company) is hiring back some of the old buyers. Lew
Dear Mr. Greer – A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned a new book, “Magic: A History: From Alchemy to Witchcraft, from the Ice Age to the Present.” (Gosden). My local library just delivered, and I started it last night. So far, it’s VERY good. Gosden is a British archaeologist.
One thing that you may, or may not know, is that the Bodleian Library at Oxford has 80,000 astrological consultations, from the 1600’s. These records were created by Simon Forman, Richard Napier, and Napier’s nephew Sir Richard Napier. There is an astrological chart, for each consultation and a record of questions asked and resulting diagnosis. Life-time horoscopes could be constructed, on demand.
I don’t know how accessible the collections is, but what a treasure trove. Lew
Robert Mathiesen wrote, “An interesting newspaper article on the whole question of perceiving elections as stolen, which can apply equally to the left and the right: https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-12-06/donald-trump-election-fraud-lies-psychology”
OK, that op-ed is hysterical! It doesn’t even make any pretense of trying to understand the dreaded “others'” opinions, instead dismissing them as dangerous pathology. It would make a pretty good study guide for identifying phatic utterances used to reinforce group loyalty though.
While reading it, all I could think of was a cargo-cult. The authors strung together pop-psychology twaddle, MSM talking-points, and various statistics with the same hopeful abandon as Melanesian islanders once put into stringing together vines and coconuts. Exactly which lost prosperity are they hoping to entice back with this strange ceremony? Is this supposed to deliver the presidency back to them? Almost there, guys — just need a few more coconuts.
I have to admit it read much more entertainingly than had they just yelled “no evidence” over and over again, but it pretty much amounted to the same thing in the end. These authors and periodicals are attempting to go through the same rituals that they know once upon a time delivered decent results. “When we publish a lot of articles in major newspapers, presto, everyone ends up agreeing with us!” It’s magical thinking. Those influential articles used to contain facts and drew compelling arguments from them — that’s where their successes came from, not from plugging garbage into an empty formula. Do these guys realize that all those coconuts never delivered the same results as a single internal combustion engine?
The funniest part was where they tried to pathologize distrust of the media as an imbalancing mental bias that prefers to misrepresent innocent mistakes and typos. That wasn’t the funny part; it was that they tried to do it in a distrusted media outlet. Their tone-deafness is astonishing! Clearly, their intended audience is like-minded believers, but I have to wonder if reading this kind of awkwardly contrived cheerleading is making anyone in their target audience feel more, rather than less, confident. The kind of people who stand a chance of actually delivering cargo don’t waste their time stringing coconuts on vines.
Hi John Michael,
Thanks, and long association with the land has alerted me to the inherent problem mentioned in the earlier comment.
Out of curiosity, I’d heard some shades of faith, hope, and charity dangled before the population not that long ago, and was wondering if such workings produced blow back? I would have thought that they would, but so far nothing seems to have come from that. Time I guess has a neat way of resolving these curiosities.
Do you reckon old Fourier enjoyed some blow back (although you did hint at that). The portrait reveals much to me about the inner workings of the bloke. If it means anything to you I detect the air of dissatisfaction about him. Yes, it is there to be seen.
It’s been a wet old year down here, although large parts of the continent are in the grip of a heatwave. So far the summer here has been rather mild and damp which sounds a lot like old Blightey.
>It’s very common for people from relatively privileged backgrounds to have no clue about how much work it takes to support their lifestyles, and communes have always drawn from the privileged — mostly middle-class idealists who’ve had limited interactions with the real world.
Speaking of privilege. Oh God do I hate that word now, the screaming bluehairs have wrecked it. But I’ve noticed something rather peculiar. I suspect some of you live in a place where dollar stores are present but some of you may not. You may want to take a peek inside one. Just a peek. You do never know what you might find.
You go to the local Costco and it seems the shortages are the most acute there. You go to the local Wal-Mart and the shortages are there too but I’ve noticed their ability to restock some of the items the next day. But you go to the local dollar store – and for the most part they have pretty much everything on the shelves, although that’s beginning to change too.
It does seem the panic is not uniformly distributed but concentrated in the upper middle class to middle classes. And it’s also in the upper middle class where the urge to wear a face diaper is most strong too. The Wal-Mart and dollar store have the sign “Du musst ein Mask tragen! Jetzt! Schnell! Sieg Heil!” But for the most part people have gone “meh” and don’t wear them. But not Costco. You march in lockstep towards the bright bright future. With your mask on.
Nobody likes to talk about class here in Murica but you can definitely tell there’s a real difference between them these days.
In your response to Christophe you said, “one of the things that fascinates me about the way things turned out is that the Democrats aren’t acting as though they won.”
I totally agree. It also feels to me that Trump didn’t lose the election. I realize he may not have won the votes, and I accept that, but he isn’t acting like he lost. He also isn’t acting like he is doing a second term. It’s a strange feeling.
Could it be that the media has lost its stranglehold on the narrative? The elite is no longer in control of messaging?
I think a lot of the current hysteria around the virus makes a lot more sense if we assume a lot of the people losing their minds have, at some subconscious level, this idea that no one can ever die unless the virus does them in. I think it’s the result of massive amounts of efforts to avoid dealing with death and treating it as unnatural and something which can be avoided, and the propaganda about the virus killing people.
Most people know about death of course but are psychologically protected. This is not a form of stupidity but normal. Sometimes when I talk to people about my situation they say the platitude about how we are all in the same boat. No, we are not. After all, I have been in your situation most of my life. I know what that feels like. But when you face imminent death for a concrete reason, it changes everything. Brings death much closer. What covid has done is give people a closer and more concrete reason to fear immanent death. However, the danger is way overblown and very low for most. That is media hype. Since liberals are far more fearful than conservatives, this tells me they are in different information bubbles.
I am not sure I get your question. You mean what God I believe in? I leave that up to you and what works for you. Me, I use God or the Universe.
>Just imagine if this vaccine went sideways
Maybe they’re counting on it going sideways fast enough that by the time people react, it’s too late? I’d say this is probably the most important intelligence test you’ll ever take. It is an open book test for the most part. But you need to be able to find the answers in the book, which they’re scribbling all over.
Pass it and live. You get a degree in Reality Studies. Probably a degree that matters? Who can say.
> So whether it is strategy, or tactics, the attempt to eradicate a disease process by taking aim at one specific pathogen (which may, or may not be its sole cause) and killing it dead, seems a poorly chosen one – especially if the disease itself, refuses to go away.
Which, of course, is the standard theory of disease in Homeopathy. Illness is the result of irreducibly personal imbalances in the plane of the life force (miasmas), which in some cases manifest itself as (opportunistic) microorganism infection. You kill the bug, and the imbalance will figure out how to manifest itself though a different vehicle.
On the individual level, there’s nothing wrong with killing the bug if it is part of a bigger strategy. Forcing the enemy to retreat, even at sever costs, is a valid tactic if it allows you to face it on better conditions later on. But if you hit the patient with a course of antibiotics and call it a day, the patient may be back in your office in a few months with another illness; it depends on the strength of their etheric body.
I think perhaps the hatred that the west has for Russia is religious. It offends them. The existence of the Orthodox church is a subtle rebuke.
@Onething You are in my prayers. Asking that you receive healing and wisdom for treatments.
One of the things I am struggling with and hope people here can help – what were the BLM protests this summer really about? It’s strange how it suddenly stopped. The farther we are from it the more it feels disingenuous.
Does anyone else think “Covid” cases might suddenly spike in number and severity when the vaccine is introduced?
@Onething – Good! Because that’s who I addressed. May you feel better later.