Not the Monthly Post

America and Russia, Part One: Stirrings in the Borderlands

To my mind, one of the main sources of collective stupidity in modern American society is our pervasive bad habit of short-term thinking. It’s embarrassingly rare for anyone in American public life to stop and say aloud, “Hold it. What’s going to happen if we keep on doing this for more than a few more years?”  Now of course one of the reasons so few people do this is that those who do get shouted down as impractical dreamers, and the mere fact that the so-called dreamers are so often right, and the practical men of affairs who dismiss them are so often wrong, somehow never inspires the least willingness to rethink the matter.

This has been on my mind more than usual of late, as the price of oil ratchets slowly upwards. It’s risen over the last few years from its post-2009 lows to a point at which it’s beginning to strain the economies of third world nations. It’ll strain the economies of major industrial nations, too, because it’s repeating the same cycle that drove the drastic price spikes of 1973 and 2008.

Those of my readers who have been paying attention know this song well enough to sing all the verses in the shower. Petroleum is a finite, nonrenewable, and irreplaceable resource, and we’re burning it at a rate of some 93 million barrels every single day. (The next time the media yells about how some new oil field has been discovered with umpty-ump billion barrels of oil in it, divide that by 93 million and see how far it goes.)  With each passing year, the hunt for new oil reserves to replace those that have already been exhausted turns up less and less—at this point, annual discoveries are around 11% of annual consumption.

In a sane world, we’d be cutting back on our petroleum consumption year by year and giving up the extravagant habits of energy use that were briefly fashionable at the peak of the Age of Oil, and we’d be fine. We don’t live in a sane world, though. We live in a world where the only response to the inevitable exhaustion of the world’s oil reserves that anyone’s willing to consider is to keep on consuming, pedal to the metal, while insisting at the top of our lungs that someone, somewhere, has to come up in a hurry with some replacement for the irreplaceable energy resource we’re wasting so profligately. That’s what drives the cycle that’s gearing up for its third leap at the throat of the global economy.

It works like this. As petroleum supplies begin running short, the law of supply and demand drives up prices. Speculators then get into the action, as they do whenever the price of anything rises, bidding up prices further than market fundamentals will justify. That triggers a speculative bubble; what’s more, nations that export oil, and have grudges against oil importers such as the US, take the opportunity to give any available knife a few good twists, driving the price up yet further. The price of oil zooms to previously unthinkable levels, and for a little while, those few people who recognize the absurdity of the industrial world’s energy policies nurture fond hopes that basic common sense will finally get a look in, and people will start to notice that the only way out of the trap we’re in consists of conservation and lifestyle changes.

Unfortunately, that’s not what happens. What happens instead is that the soaring price of oil causes demand destruction, which is a fancy name for the process by which people who can’t afford a resource stop using it. The soaring price of oil also makes previously uneconomical sources of oil affordable, and so new sources of supply come on line just as demand drops. That sends the price of oil down, which pops the speculative bubble and sends investors scurrying like cockroaches toward less volatile markets. As a result, the price of oil crashes, though it levels off a good deal higher than it was before the price began rising; whatever alternative energy sources became briefly fashionable during the crisis either go broke or have to be propped up with lavish government subsidies; and everyone goes back to pretending that trying to extract an infinite amount of oil from a finite planet is something other than raw insanity.

We’ve probably still got a couple of years before the next major petroleum price spike, and the crash that will follow it.  It’s worth noting, though, that 35 years passed between the first price spike in 1973 and the second one in 2008, and it’s pretty clear that the third spike will arrive in much less than that time.  It’ll be interesting to see if the intervals continue to decrease at the same ratio—if, say, the next price spike comes in 2021 and the ratio holds, the one after that will hit somewhere close to 2024, and the one after that in 2025—or if some more complex pattern will shape the mathematics of crisis as the Age of Oil lurches to its inevitable end.

In the months and years ahead, I plan on discussing that trajectory from time to time, and glancing back over the themes that my earlier blog The Archdruid Report covered during and after the last big oil price spike. This week, though, I want to move a good deal further from the short-term thinking I critiqued earlier, and try to fit the turbulence of our age in the broader pattern of world history.

My primary guide in that exploration, as regular readers of my blogs will have guessed already, is the redoubtable Oswald Spengler:  historian, polymath, and professional thorn in the side of  the comfortable certainties of his era and ours, whose major work The Decline of the West has yielded one accurate prediction after another while the sunnier or more apocalyptic futures predicted by his critics have all proved as evanescent as moonbeams.  Drawing on such earlier students of historical cycles as Giambattista Vico, Spengler set out a detailed theory of the morphology of civilizations, tracing them through the stages of a life cycle—birth, youth, maturity, senility, and death—that formed the basis for his predictions about the future of Western or, as he called it, Faustian culture.

Central to Spengler’s theory, and just as central to the spluttering denunciations leveled at him by the defenders of the conventional wisdom ever since his time, is his recognition that “progress” is a mythological concept rather than a historical reality. Classical civilization—Apollonian culture, in his terminology—was not a step forward beyond the mark left by ancient Egypt; what Spengler called Magian culture, the great cultural upsurge in the Middle East that culminated with the Islamic Caliphate in what we call the Middle Ages, was not a step forward beyond Apollonian culture, and our Faustian culture is no more advanced than any of those I’ve named.

Does that sound like a paradox?  It’s nothing of the kind.  Each great culture has its own values and goals and priorities, which it fulfills as well as circumstances permit. Our Faustian culture seems more “progressive” to us for no better reason than because it’s gone further in the direction of fulfilling the values and goals and priorities of Faustian culture than anyone else. Apollonian culture invented the steam engine and the gear train, the two great technological breakthroughs that launched Faustian culture on its way to temporary global dominion, but the Greek and Roman engineers who dabbled in such things didn’t value the things that Gerbert of Aurillac and James Watt did and so didn’t put them to the same uses. Most other great cultures weren’t interested enough in such things even to dabble.

Thus it’s an embarrassing bit of ethnocentrism to insist, as too many writers of alternate-history novels have done, that if Western Europeans hadn’t gotten around to inventing steam engines, gear trains, and the rest of the toolkit that made the modern industrial world happen, someone else would have. Our technology is a Faustian technology, shaped throughout by the passions and obsessive ideas of the great culture that was born in western and central Europe around the year 1000; as Faustian culture winds down—a process already well under way—its technology can be expected to settle into a static mold, shed those elements that aren’t sustainable, and be mined as a resource by future great cultures, the way Greek logic and mathematics were mined by the Indian, Magian, and Faustian cultures for purposes entirely their own.

Let’s take a look off into the future with that in mind, and try to get a sense of what’s likely to happen as Faustian culture finishes settling down into its final stasis. One point that Spengler makes is particularly important in this context. However far afield a great culture may extend its power during its period of imperial expansion, it remains rooted in its original homelands, and once the inevitable age of empire suffers its equally inevitable decline and fall, its far-flung extensions fall away and the original homelands of the culture hold onto what’s left of it until some later culture brushes it aside. Faustian culture had its origins, as already noted, in western and central Europe; in its time of empire, between 1492 and 1914, it surged out of Europe to conquer and pillage most of the planet; though its prestige is still high enough that privileged classes over most of the world still wear clothes of European style and maintain governments of European type, it’s very much a waning power at this point.

As a great culture goes into decline, in turn, the places to watch are the borderlands.  These aren’t necessarily the political borders, though they can be. As Apollonian culture slid down the well-greased chute of its decline and fall, for example, two border regions turned out to be of crucial importance. One was the eastern border zone where the Mediterranean littoral blended with deserts and then with the ancient cities of Persia and the Arabian peninsula, where Rome’s military power had never reached but its cultural and economic influence was strong.  The other was the valleys of half a dozen large rivers that flowed into the North Sea, among them the Thames, the Seine, and the Rhine, where Roman power established itself for a while and then lost its grip as the age of migrations began.

Both of those areas proceeded to pup great cultures of their own. In the east, the Magian culture began to take shape long before Rome fell, and succeeded in absorbing the Byzantine empire into its own ambit and cultural forms once the western empire was gone. In the west, where the collapse of Rome had much more drastic impacts, a long and difficult dark age passed before Faustian culture began to emerge. In each case, though, the emerging culture started out borrowing a set of existing forms inherited from an older great culture.

Spengler calls this process “pseudomorphosis.”  You can see it with impressive clarity in the history of Western architecture, among many other places. The standard building style in early medieval Europe is called Romanesque nowadays, and for very good reason:  it looks like a halfhearted copy of Roman architecture. A few centuries went by, and then the pseudomorphosis was shaken off and Gothic architecture soared skyward, at the same time as the first great flowering of Faustian cultural forms in other arts and sciences broke free of Apollonian models.

Magian culture had its comparable era of pseudomorphosis earlier, and from a different source. (Spengler disagreed with this, but he was working with a far less complete understanding of Middle Eastern archeology than we’ve got now.)  Magian culture originally began to draw together in the aftermath of the Mesopotamian culture, and in its early days it borrowed many of the forms and habits of the grand cultural tradition that had its origins in the mud-brick towns of Sumer. When Apollonian culture expanded east and south into the Magian heartlands—first under Alexander the Great, then under an assortment of minor Greek-speaking empires, and finally under the eagles of Rome—there followed a second era of pseudomorphosis, but that was followed by a sharp reaction against the Apollonian influence; eastern Christianity, Islam, and a flurry of less successful faiths such as Manichaeanism surged outward in response, cast aside Apollonian political, cultural, and creative forms, and established the Magian world on their ruins.

And Faustian culture?  It also had two eras of pseudomorphosis. The first, as already noted, drew on the heritage of Rome; the second, later on, drew on Magian culture. From the Middle Ages to the early modern period, it’s no exaggeration—though it’s a blow to European pride, no doubt—to see the quarreling little countries of Europe as simply a western extension of the vast and immensely prosperous Magian cultural sphere, which extended from Morocco to Pakistan.

Like the other societies within the Magian sphere, the nations of Europe had established, dogmatic religions from which dissent was permitted only in strictly limited ways, guided by a sacred scripture, centered in a holy city, and expressed in formal congregational worship on a specific day of the week which everyone was expected to attend.  These and a galaxy of other Magian customs were standard across Europe—it’s not accidental that European Traditionalists so reliably turn back to the Middle East for inspiration, since not only the traditions they follow but the entire notion of one true unchanging Tradition handed down from the beginning of time, and only accessible to those who belong to an established religious body, is a Magian invention.

Yet that turned out to be a passing phase, just as the Apollonian pseudomorphosis turned out to be a passing phase for the Magian culture some centuries further back. As Faustian culture began to waken to its own possibilities, Magian forms were cast aside or twisted completely out of their original shapes. European master builders who learned Arabic architectural innovations reshaped them out of all resemblance, producing the soaring vertical lines and pointed arches of the Gothic era; monks tinkering with the old Apollonian technology of gear trains reworked it to allow the transmission of power, creating not only the mechanical clock but an essential part of most of the mechanical technology that followed from it; Aristotelian physics got reworked, too, to permit the introduction of concepts of impetus and force that were completely foreign to Apollonian natural science, but essential to the rise of Faustian science.

All this would have been difficult to grasp from the point of view of Apollonian culture. Imagine, for a moment, the predicament of a perceptive thinker in late Apollonian society—say, a Greek philosopher living around 250 CE—who had grasped the reality of his society’s decline and guessed at the broader pattern of historical cycles in which the decline played one of the standard parts. Our philosopher might just possibly guess that the next great culture in the part of the world he knew might rise out of the eastern penumbra of Roman civilization. His chances of getting any kind of advance notion of the shape of the rising Magian culture, though, were miniscule. To focus on only one detail, how easily could a person raised to think of religion as a matter of traditional rites about which you could believe anything you wanted, so long as you performed them, imagine a religion where belief in a particular set of opinions was so important that people slaughtered one another over minute differences of creed?

For that matter, the chance that our philosopher could have anticipated the rise of another great culture out of the northwestern borderlands of the Roman world was probably too small to worry about. In 250 CE, the valleys of the Thames, the Seine, and the Rhine were about as central to the Roman world as the valleys of the Monongahela, the Kanawha, and the Tennessee Rivers are to the modern European world, and the thought that a great culture could emerge from what was then a cultural backwater inhabited mostly by barbarian deplorables would have seemed utterly absurd if anyone had gotten around to thinking of it at all.

We’re in a similar situation today, but we have a broader knowledge of history and thus a better chance of recognizing the recurring patterns. The great culture that is settling into its static form, and will play a greatly diminished in the wider history of the world thereafter, is Faustian culture—the great culture that rose in those northwestern borderlands of Rome in the wake of the Dark Ages, contended with Magian culture as that latter passed its own zenith and settled into its static condition, and then surged out across the globe to conquer most of the planet’s land surface and impose its idiosyncratic cultural fashions on nearly every society on Earth.

Like the Apollonian culture, Faustian culture also has two major borderlands, one to the east of its heartlands, one to the west, and from those we can probably expect the rise of two more great cultures in due time.  There may be others as well, for the spread of European empires around the globe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries has imposed its own pseudomorphoses on most of the world; as a result, West Africa and certain regions of Latin America strike me as very likely to pup high cultures in the millennium ahead; but for the moment, for reasons that will become clear as we proceed, I want to talk about the two border regions already mentioned.

Those borderlands?  Today we call them Russia and America: specifically, as we’ll see in the next post in this series, European Russia west of the Urals, especially the region centering on the Volga valley, and North America west of the Appalachians, especially the region centering on the Ohio valley and the Great Lakes.

The parallels between Apollonian and Faustian borderlands go surprisingly deep, because something like the same difference in age that shaped the relative histories of the Magian and Faustian cultures seems likely to shape the equivalent trajectories of the Russian and American cultures to come.  Russia passed through its first pseudomorphosis a good many centuries back, when it absorbed potent cultural influences from the Byzantine Empire, at that time an important part of the Magian cultural sphere; it began its second pseudomorphosis in the days of Peter the Great, when a new set of cultural influences from the Faustian west swept over Russia; and it’s currently in the early stages of the inevitable reaction, which will see both the Byzantine and the European influences give way to the first bold statements of a distinctively Russian high culture. I expect that to begin sometime in the twenty-second century.

America, by contrast, received what Magian influence it had at second hand, by way of Magian elements retained by Faustian culture, and its first pseudomorphosis began in the early seventeenth century when the first waves of European settlement surged across a landscape mostly depopulated by the cataclysmic impact of Old World diseases on the native peoples. The second pseudomorphosis hasn’t happened yet, and it’s an interesting question which of the rising cultures of the next millennium will be responsible for that challenging stimulus. It’ll be after the second pseudomorphosis sparks the inevitable reaction that the first bold statements of a distinctively American high culture will appear, perhaps in the twenty-sixth century.

And the general outlines of those high cultures of the third millennium? We’ll discuss that in the next post in this series.


  1. Thanks, JMG. You are the best history teacher I have ever known. That type of history teaching (and reasoned speculation) is definitely unknown in the modern “cubicle mills.” Looking forward to this series.

    I appreciate it.


  2. Okay, I’m a little confused. First of all, hasn’t America become the epicenter of Faustian culture?
    Second, we are still in the grip of Magian religious attitudes, although they do now seem to be loosening, that is quite recent. Fairly complete in Europe, but many millions in the USA still adhere quite strongly to that religious attitude.
    So there seems quite an overlap between the Magian and the Faustian.

    I’m also a tad confused by this: [America’s]…first pseudomorphosis began in the early seventeenth century when the first waves of European settlement surged across a landscape mostly depopulated by the cataclysmic impact of Old World diseases on the native peoples.
    I’m not getting from whose point of view that sentence is written. It would seem to be the native Americans. Who are largely gone. The waves of Europeans were themselves of the Faustian model – it’s as if you are saying that they were both the actors and the acted-upon.

    It’s also interesting for me to note that I have always had a very reticent feeling toward the obligation to be patriotic. My feeling has always been, patriotic to what? I have long thought that we are not really a country or a people in the same way that so many other countries are. We are a people in the making, but that is still centuries away.

  3. Mac, you’re welcome and thank you.

    Onething, fair enough. No, America isn’t the epicenter of Faustian culture; it’s currently the dominant world power, and since it’s still under a Faustian pseudomorphosis it’s more or less in line with Faustian values at the moment, but both the hegemony and the pseudomorphosis are passing phases. Second, our religious attitudes are only Magian in form at this point — Protestantism, which is the dominant religious form here, is a thoroughly Faustian reworking of a formerly Magian tradition; notice among other things the role of individual choice and a personal relationship with God in Protestant thinking, which differs drastically from the Magian concept of the community as the basic religious unit. As for the point of view from which the pseudomorphosis is being seen, we’ll discuss that as we proceed; as Vine Deloria Jr. pointed out so trenchantly, though, geography has its own spiritual dimension, and it’s useful to see the land itself as the enduring context over which humans and their cultural forms come and go.

    As for patriotism, I don’t have the same reaction, but then I realize that my nation — like my family — is in no sense a permanent thing. You’re right, though, that we’re very much a people in the making.

  4. Fascinating! There is still hope for America yet! Though looking around at my fellow Americans, I wonder what will happen once the current round of conspicuous consumption comes to an end?

    And here in the Great Lakes, with pseudo Christian conservatives and globalist neoliberals holding power, polluting the land and waters with impunity, letting corporations foreign and domestic plunder in that oh so Faustian way, I wonder what sort of cultural pseudomorphosis could possibly redeem that?

    Here is hoping a waterbearer Aeon influences such, in service, taking care of the waters.

  5. William, oh, the Faustian pseudomorphosis here still has a ways to run, and the notion that it’s just fine to ignore the environment — after all, someone will think of something, or progress will take care of it, or we’ll all emigrate to Mars — is perhaps the most definitive, and idiotic, expression of the Faustian ethos taken to its illogical extreme. We’ll learn better, though we may well learn the hard way.

  6. John–

    Is the nature of democratic governance particularly sensitive to short-term considerations? (Understanding, of course, that a monarch, for example, can be just as short-sighted as a crowd of voters, but it seems to me that other forms of governance at least have a greater possibility of longer-term thinking than the dynamics of an electorate.) The foolishness we in the US have exhibited, in recent years particularly, has been considerable; I don’t doubt we’ll continue blustering about well past the point when it is obvious (to everyone else, at least) that we are no longer a major power.

    [Totally OT, but as I was writing this comment, the Presidential Alert test buzzed on my phone. Interesting.]

    The notion that the Midwest might be the seed of a future culture is somehow comforting, as I look about me here. River valleys do tend to act as seed beds. The thought eases the anguish of the coming loss (of culture, of knowledge) just a bit.

  7. @Onething: “It’s also interesting for me to note that I have always had a very reticent feeling toward the obligation to be patriotic. My feeling has always been, patriotic to what?”

    I’ve always felt similarly–and, in fact, have almost never felt much loyalty toward a particular town/state or educational institution. I’m inclined to think *that’s* my background as a former faculty brat: we switched states every eight to ten years, and I saw too much of how the academic sausage got made. Not sure what’s behind the lack of patriotism, except that I’ve never had many abstract ideals to begin with–my country works for me and the people I care about better than any reachable alternative at the moment, so I’ll stick with it, and having decided that, I might as well do my best to be a responsible citizen.

    But the idea of the US sticking together or splitting up carries no emotional weight with me, our status on the world stage doesn’t bother me one way or another–except when it translates to concrete issues like trade wars–and if Russia or China or secret lizard aliens were invading and I was reasonably certain they’d run things better, I’d likely step aside and let them at it. (I say, not applying for any kind of government job.)

    Thinking about JMG’s response…”family” also doesn’t hit me where I live. I love my parents and my sister and some extended relatives on their own merits (though I’m sure good memories and familiarity play a part there) but I also have a bunch of other relatives about whom I feel roughly the same as I would anyone else I vaguely knew, and if I didn’t like my parents or sister or whoever, I wouldn’t feel particularly horrified by the idea of breaking off contact.

    I wonder if there’s an “emotional connection to larger structure” axis in people…

  8. Thank you for this. Of late I’ve experienced some grief regarding the ongoing culture death that holds America in its throes. Taking a deeper perspective serves well as a useful bitter remedy to my melancholic excesses.

    That said, the ongoing culture death in this pseudomorphic land drags on carrying more human flotsam in its wake. Earlier, on the Archdruid Report, you wrote about how kindly Nature provides some 3/4 of the wealth that humans enjoy. Well, a human culture, the natural context of social relationships, undoubtedly provides much wealth that its inmates may ignore. Culture provides a framework for negotiating social meanings, so as it continues to disintegrate we will likely continue to see all social context shredded until, finally, new forms emerge from the rubble.

    But one cannot expect the process to proceed kindly or easily. As much as I find reason to loathe the toxic excesses of Faustian Culture, still, with it at least there exist easy ways of negotiating social relationships. Without it? The dance of social intercourse must choreograph itself bereft of signifiers. Of Plato’s metaphor of the two horses one has, it would appear, more or less died, leaving only the appetites and fear to govern. And there is, of course, no use to be gained from beating a dead horse!

    I’m glad to hear that you share Spengler’s prediction of a Great Culture emerging in Russia. Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov is one of my favorite novels, bar none. The ending actually made me cry, and the part that has the father Dmitry absurdly lying about Diderot’s conversion to Zosima is, to my sensibility, one of the funnier scenes in fiction. If Spengler’s predictions prove to be correct and Dostoyevsky has prefigured the coming culture than I would be delighted.

  9. Could you say something about the Roman Catholic Church? It is the oldest continuously operating human institution, I believe. Do you think it will continue through other civilizations, or is it just an avatar of the ‘Faustian’ civilization?

    Related: is the static future of ‘Faustianism’ Catholic or Protestant? (Perhaps this is a trick question: Vatican II was almost a kind of Protestization of the Catholic Church. Of course, the answer could be, neither.)

  10. Thank you for another intersting week. I enjoy your essays, your books and also your reasoned and thoughtful responses to questions.

    With that out of the way, I question your peak oil/doom premise. I probably fall into the “we as gods” category, but it seems to me the most likely long term energy outlook will be a gradual transition to sustainability, without any great reduction in our standard of living. We have enough fossil fuels to last a long time (30 years, 50 years, 200 years?) and we are pretty rapidly, relatively speaking, transitioning to non-fossil fuels. Many countries now get a large portion of their electricity from renewables or nuclear sources. Electric vehicles are coming on line, slowly here but much faster in other places. We can make diesel or jet fuel from water and CO2. I wish we had done it all a long time ago, but I doubt it is too late.

    I assume you disagree with my optimistic scenario. Why?

  11. You may be interested in Ian Morris’ “Why the West Rules — For Now.” He also looks at the vast sweep of civilizations, including China, and notes the same pattern of the next civilization arising in the periphery of the dominant civilization.

  12. What makes a border area likely to generate a high culture, ie what’s so special about Russia and America, rather than say Australia/Oceania and Canada?

  13. I’m thrilled to see you weaving Spengler back into the discussion. Your posts about him on The Archdruid Report a few years back were a major inspiration for my own research.

    Earlier this year I wrote a short article reintroducing Spengler’s ideas in light of current American politics and what I see as the parallel moment in Apollonian history. I take a quite different view of America’s place in the Faustian culture, but your re-working of the concept of pseudomorphosis here is persuasive. Let the debates begin!

    I’ll include a link here for perusal and feedback by the commentariat. This is my contribution to a hypothetical ‘Spengler at 100’ colloquium. As of this past summer The Decline of the West is now a century old!

  14. Interesting! I had always thought of Europe between the 5th and 15th centuries AD/CE as its own culture, neither Apollonian nor Magian but containing elements of both. The Magian culture seems to have gone in for empire as opposed to the idea of a federation of small kingdoms under common moral authority. The Faustian culture we know and love :{) in this view would have gotten started with the European voyages of discovery in the 15th century. It’ll be very interesting to see where you take this…

  15. I feel there’s a strong element of pragmatism involved with pseudomorphosis in backwater regions. Since they’re not as strongly devoted to the underlying metaphysical substrate of the parent civilization they’re able to “pick and choose” the elements that are advantageous and discard the unhelpful corruption that inevitably builds up during the lifespan of a high civilization.

  16. HI John,
    When I hear the term “Faustian Culture” I think of one that has sold its soul to the devil for material comforts. And although that certainly fits our culture, I have the feeling that term actually means something a bit different. Could you talk a little bit about why our culture is called Faustian?

  17. Dear Mr. Greer,

    You could call the two borders the Eagle and the Bear. Note that those two animals are not natural enemies.

    I think of Romanesque architecture as Roman forms (the round arch, the basilica) reconfigured for colder climates and dangerous times. An interesting aspect of Romanesque churches is the Westwork, a structure through which one proceeded to get into the church proper through its’ west door.. As a separate structure which communicated with the consecrated church, it could be used for storage of weapons and I imagine for defense. Granting that I am no expert, I fancy I see as much Scandinavian and Celtic as classical influence in the wonderful Romanesque sculpture.

    If I may, there was some discussion last week about Christians taking over indigenous sacred places. The ceremony, or working if one prefers, proceeded thussly:

    A site was chosen for the new church and the location of the high alter marked. Builder and (one supposes) church dignitaries as well as secular patrons or their surrogates assembled at the selected location the hour before dawn on the feast day of the saint or sacred event (Assumption, Nativity ) to which the church was to be dedicated and erected a pole at the site of the high altar. As the sun rose, the direction of its’ shadow was carefully marked. The nave would be laid out along that direction, called Ecclesiastical East. Sometimes, the world and humanity being imperfect, the direction had to be slightly altered, as at Canterbury. This would naturally have been a solemn ceremony, with prayers, chanting and so on.

  18. Great article! To say I’m a Spengler geek would be putting it lightly.

    Anyway. do you think the second American pseudomorphosis might perhaps be a culmination of Eastern religious/spiritual borrowings we sort of now see in the form of the New Age movement? Among anyone who insn’t a Christian fundamentalist there seems to be a gradual abandoning of belief in Abrahamic fairy tales. Retaining a spiritual worldview while exorcising the Abrahamic demon naturally lends itself to a natural law / dharmic spiritual worldview. If people adopted this with any degree of depth it would also hasten the loosening of the grip the Faustian culture has on America. Then again more and more people could simply fall under the spell of the very-Faustian scientific materialism. Who knows what will happen in the near future, but a lot of Westerners fed up with their own degenerating culture seem to be quite attracted to Asian spirituality.

  19. The Decline of the West has fascinated me since I first read it, so I’m delighted by this.

    I have several doubts concerning some details:

    (1) You speak of a “Mesopotamian culture” encompassing the millennia spanned between the days of Sumer and the days of (I guess) Nabucodonosor, more or less (with the Achaemenid Empire being -I guess- one of the symbols of pseudomorphosis between this and Magian cultures).

    So many things happened during this time, so many empires rose and fell, so many Völkerwanderungs, social changes, dark ages, etc. It was quite long-lived, right? Would you say this culture was like Egyptian and Chinese cultures, which after each cycle of decline got to re-establish themselves with no more than minor changes, millennia after millennia? From my point of view, the history of Mesopotamian culture looks much more troubled and chaotic, and I’d say there were more than one higher cultures involved, but I’d like to know your opinion on this.

    (2) From your explanation, it looks like there are always two waves of pseudomorphosis during the formative years of every culture, the second of which causes a reaction which leads to the removal of the chains that keep that culture from expressing its true nature. Can you see this pattern in other cases in history, other than the ones you just talked about?

    (3) In your view, how does the Spenglerian model of cultural cycles relates to the collapses of civilizations (due to ecological factors and so forth)? A culture which has fossilized into a civilization, is more prone to, let’s say, catabolic collapse? And if that’s the case, why is that so? Is it that the rigidity of its winter years makes change impossible when confronting crisis? Is it that growing urbanization makes societies less resilient?

    It’s always a pleasure to read you, John. I’m looking forward to the next installments.

  20. JMG,
    I eagerly await the fallowing posts – I was mulling it over since we discussed the Russia last time in comments.

    I would like you to consider third line of inquiry- the Pacific Rim region of city-states and increasingly asian parts of Australia that would self-confidently absorb elements from both Faustian-English tradition and Sinic great culture. From what I read of Spengler -with caveats that I certainly spent far less time digesting it and my historical knowledge is far less extensive than Yours – it seems like perfect set of circumstances for blossoming of another great Culture.

  21. Something I’ve been interested in for a while that relates to this is what sort of culture is likely to develop at the poles when they become temperate enough that you don’t need to wear layers and layers to go outside and plants and maybe even crops can be grown in some places. I imagine this culture might be on the borderland of the cultures you’re discussing in this series and will grow out of them, but I could be wrong there.

    Fertile river valleys seem predisposed to produce agrarian states, steppes and plains seem predisposed to produce nomadic people who use horses a lot. JMG, what kind of human experiment do you think the land of the midnight sun will produce as it becomes more habitable? I can see the polar sea fulfilling a similar role to the Mediterranean in the future, and I doubt the people living there will be able to count on crops adapting wholeheartedly to the long darkness for a good long while, so maybe some kind of nomadic oceanfaring culture? What affect would the absence of the sun have on such a civilization?

  22. The Thames, the Seine, the Rhine… It’s almost like it’s the river gods who control the rise and fall of civilizations. Our bodies mostly consist of water, so maybe this shouldn’t be that surprising.

  23. This is fascinating on a personal level for me. My childhood faith, Mormonism, is a profoundly Faustian one in most ways. The emphasis is on individual conversion, individual righteousness, and individual choice. They’re highly authoritarian about your beliefs and choices, yes, but that’s actually completely compatible with Faustianism. You just have to frame it as “We’ve got to stamp out [insert Bad Thing(tm) here]!” and you can concern yourself as much as you like with what others believe and do. I’m sure we can all think of some favorite examples.

    One thing that to my mind marks Faustian authoritarianism is its perfectionism. The bloom of Faustian culture coincides closely with the increasing calls for “moral reform” in Western European culture that Charles Taylor documented in A Secular Age. Where once you had a sense of the limits of human perfection, and thus a place for Carnival and other “anti-structures” (I’d include public bathhouses in this, which throughout most of the Middle Ages were unisex and doubled as brothels, much to many priests’ consternation), in Faustian culture you get a sense of individual perfection that eventually culminates in utopian rationalism.

  24. We do have all of the bourbon, horses, and tobacco; harnessed to post coal deplorables, meting out existential angst, born of an OxyContin meth hangover.
    Unbridled! Just like the license plate.

  25. Is it off topic to ask what your featured book of the month is? I don’t see it listed on your dreamwidth page or on the bottom of this post.

  26. JMG,
    Do we HAVE to go through a 2nd pseudomorphosis, is it baked in the cake, or might we just move more directly into an American high culture after we work through the Faustian influence? You seem fairly confident that a 2nd round of influence is required. Hmmmm…Chinese? Mexican? (Personally I’d vote for Mexican! What a joyful culture! And my children and I are already learning Spanish. ¿Te gustaria uvas verdes?)

    All these requests for long-term fortune-telling, did you in fact finally take a look at the stars and see something pointing in this direction? (Of course, judging by my favorite novel, your hopes for the great American future have been centered on the shores of the Great Lakes for at least a few years already!)

    Lastly, what becomes of the bulk of the current U.S. population situated EAST of the Appalachians? An enduring post-Faustian dark age hinterland swarming with murderous sea-faring barbarians?

    Or will that have subsided by then? 😉

  27. Onething: I think the Indian influence on America’s settlers and folkways has been discussed on this blog earlier in ways it’s hard to argue with.

  28. I am looking forward to next week, when you speculate on the new cultures to arise in Russia and America in the next centuries. Is someone with a deeper knowlege of Russia able to suggest what is distinctively Russian that would express itself in a culture centred in Russia, as opposed to the Magian and Faustian imports?

  29. John : I have been thinking lately about river valleys and the way that annual floods restore what is lost from tillage. So the Mississippi delta region should go on your list, even if it has to reform as a result of rising sea levels.

  30. This is a reply to Trlong36, from the last week post. There was no time to post it at the old one.

    Though there is not a sequel to Star’s Reach, you may be interested on Merigan Tales; click the link below to buy it from the publisher.

    In Merigan Tales: Stories from the World of Star’s Reach, author John Michael Greer brings together eight authors in a shared-world anthology of brand new tales inspired by his popular novel, Star’s Reach. These are stories of the far future in a world where fossil fuel-powered industrial civilization is a distant memory and new societies have emerged.

  31. It is inadvisable to depend on any one human being to be a font of all knowledge. Spengler was right about some things, but wrong about quite a number of others (see link below). Civilizations are not organic biological entities, so it seems a rather far-fetched metaphor to compare them to biological entities that are born, thrive, decay and eventually die. Civilizations transform over time :however, some continue to live on in different forms (witness China). Arnold Toynbee disagreed with Spengler – he felt that no civilizations HAD to die; if they could rejuvenate themselves there was no deterministic reason that they could not continue indefinitely. Also, regarding “progress,” it all depends on your definition. One hundred years ago, most humans did not live to age 60 and infant mortality was much higher than it is now. Most of us have electricity, flush toilets, painless dentistry and much leisure time. Would you really want to go back?

  32. I would expect another culture between the Cascades and the Pacific. Unless the desert in the middle wins the climate change lottery, we’ll be a small scattered farms or nomads culture here, but over on the coast, once they come to terms with the volitility of geology (which Japan did, so the I-5 corrider can) there’s plenty of water and fertile soil to support some future culture.

    The Great Lakes Culture could have an overland trade route along the old Oregon Trail, somewhat like the trade route from Europe to Asia that ran through Byzantium. What rare luxuries will Cascadia supply?

  33. A very interesting read. Thank you. I’m curious if there is a reason that both regions mentioned are non-coastal? Is it because of rising sea levels? They also seem to be very close to some of the most fertile land.

  34. Kind Sir,

    Thanks for another great post. I am looking forward to the other posts on this series.

    Makes me wonder what will happen here in oz. We are a strange mix of absolute backwater, California and Great Britain with no cultural variation whatsoever and we are much further away from the faustian heartland than we currently realise.
    I guess we’ll just go back to whatever we did until 200 years ago.
    Population < 1 million and some agriculture where the climate supports it.
    Sounds much better to me than 100 million population squeezed into one mega city covering the whole east coast with 2 hour flights to London and a rocket to Mars twice a week.
    This is what our lunatic mainstream dreams of.
    Don't need trips to Mars anyway Much of oz looks a bit like Mars. Just warmer.

    Sorry for rambling on a bit. Got a question too:
    Are concepts like faustian, magian apollonian categories, or do they only describe particular cultures?
    I did read spengler a while ago, but I could never work that one out.
    And if they are categories, are there others as well?

  35. The second pseudomorphosis hasn’t happened yet, and it’s an interesting question which of the rising cultures of the next millennium will be responsible for that challenging stimulus.

    I can’t help but notice that most Americans under 40 grew up on Japanese cartoon/game franchises and quasi-Zen “mindfulness meditation” is rather popular.

  36. The Apollonian/Magian distinction is a little misguided historically.

    A large area of the eastern Roman empire where not Magian in particular, but hellenistic, that is, the combination of cultures including but not defined by Persian, Egyptian, Greek, Assyrian, and other eastern eurasian cultures (at a point going all the way to India).

    Not sure why you highlight the Magian culture. While great in itself (and dominant earlier in its area), it wasn’t the definitive force of the time and place. In fact not only it didn’t define the culture of the eastern empire, but it was also outside of it, and often at war with it (e.g. with the Byzantium).

    Hellenistic and Greek culture leading to the Roman conquest (and after it) also wasn’t much “apollonian” anymore. A “Greek philosopher living around 250 CE” could very well “imagine a religion where belief in a particular set of opinions was so important that people slaughtered one another over minute differences of creed” at the time. They were quite familiar with e.g. Hebrew thought and the Old Testament, and neoplatonism ideas lead naturally to the later Christian doctrines (and in fact lots of early Christian theologians were well versed in them).

  37. Hi JMG, another question – I’m curious about the idea of decline in general. Usually, when I come across the idea of decline it’s presented pretty wholesale; people don’t usually say things like “Well, our art and medicine is pretty good, but militarily we’re awful and getting worse”. Often, the society is thought of as being riddled right through with decadence.

    Is this wholesale decadence of the “we just don’t make men like we used to, the whole thing is corrupt” style of looking at decline the most common way of approaching the subject, or is it possible to have many moving parts?

    It seems like the wholesale decline theory pops up again and again – you can read Roman writers claiming that their morals had declined and were decadent and that the *real* Romans who epitomized the old values had lived decades ago, but when you go back and read those writers from decades ago they’re writing essentially the same narrative of wholesale decline and they think that all of their present institutions are rotten.

    It almost seems biological – we look back at our childhoods and think of them as being these good times, but if we were to go back and experience them they probably would have been totally different and not nearly as good as we remember them. I think that on a society-wide, long-term scale that tendency would end up creating the wholesale decline theory we see over and over again.

    How do you distinguish between the human tendency to romanticize the past and genuine instances of decline?

  38. So it will be Europe’s turn to be some kind of tribal midle east without oil and without institutionalized spirituality? I wonder how much vitality islam has left, once the sense of siege vanishes…

  39. I enjoyed the essay and look forward to the next installment(s). I do wonder if your idea that there are necessarily two pseudomorphoses is based on more than three samples. What about India, China, the Mayas etc. ? An alternative and maybe just as valid way of looking at it is Toynbee’s idea of the cultural potpourri of Classic and Aramaic (his expression for Magian) best – once mixed, this potent fusion gave rise to Islamic, Occidental, Russian and other, less successful, cultures, each distinct, but each derived from both Classic and Aramaic elements. After all, pre-Faustian elements never left European architecture, and as onething noted, the Credos are alive until today.

    On a connected note, I recently re-read Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness and became aware of the very subtle and almost unconscious way she describes a fossil fuel-less and therefore much more conservative industrial civilization. It is very far from being a paradise, and the humans that populate it are different from us, but some aspects might foreshadow future “ecosophical” civilizations. It truly is a masterpiece of speculative fiction.

  40. John, insightful as usual. Do I hear echoes of Steiner’s teaching that the next great cultural epochs would arise in Russia and America?

  41. Another fascinating essay! Thank you.

    The notion that development of innovation is somehow “top-down” and dependent on formal training seems at variance with reality. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood, and if so, I have no problem with being set straight.
    The peoples of the Faustian culture benefited from an environment rich in malleable materials which fostered inventiveness. If I recall properly, the pioneer of preservation of wilderness areas of the USA, John Muir, spent part of his youth on a homestead in Wisconsin where he had many a long winter evening to concoct things like a working wooden clock.
    Learning how to commercially harness and produce replicable experiments, the theoretical underpinnings of Faustian culture, must (Shirley) have postdated actual practice of the unlearned?
    Here’s a little demonstration:

    Thanks again.

  42. JMG-

    Great piece. Partly because of my bias that almost anything discussing Spengler is going to be good, and partly because I absolutely agree with your geographical pick for the US. Mind you I’m not convinced a high culture will come out of the US at all, but if it does I’d second your guess geographically.

    I can’t comment on the Ohio river valley, but as I commented on your other blog I spent the summer in the great lakes region and had several very interesting encounters with an entity which presented itself to me as the lake itself. I wasn’t looking to contact anything, I wasn’t trying at all in fact, but it found me and it was right to do so I think. I can’t shake the sense that it was paying very close attention to everything that was happening around it (in it?).

    Even ignoring that dimension, I think it’s hard to be in the area and miss the fact that the land just has something about it. It very obviously rubbed off on peoples who preceded European immigrants, but, more interesting to me, seems to have rubbed off on the descendants of the Europeans as well. There’s something about the place, something strong, something powerful in the land itself that I think manifests in the people and pulls them together in ways that people don’t come together in the rest of America. There are still functioning supper clubs up there, there are more fraternal lodge buildings than I’ve see anywhere else in the states, and a general sense of togetherness I don’t see in the rest of the country. Seems like the perfect cradle for a new high culture. Plus, almost 1/4 of all fresh water on earth, which might be handy in a world where temps are on the rise.

  43. Umm, JMG, currently, two countries occupy the Great Lakes. In the 26th century, which of the two will have more influence? Curious minds want to know. 🙂

  44. First, I’d like to refer other readers to JMG’s book on the fall of empire–I suspect he has additional thoughts on the content of that book, and it helped me to be familiar with that background information while reading this post. It is excellent! Here’s a link:

    Question–What do you think will be the fate or role of the Chinese in the next 100 or so years? They seem to be very interested in Vancouver and Western Canada, but I wonder whether the combined effects of the coming quake and tsunami (from the Juan de Fuca fault) and the loss of oil for cheap transport will cause them to focus on their immediate neighbours.

    The Far Eastern regions of Russia that border China have seen an increase in the number of Chinese, so I wonder if they will continue East to the Urals, and beyond?

    I’ve heard that the Chinese civilization has been historically stabilized by its extensive peasant Agriculture. Now that that is dismantled and a lot of toxic waste added to their environment, I wonder if this will lead to conquests abroad for them.

  45. @Synthase,
    he said “Great Lakes”–that includes Canada–the new civ. will prob include lands on either side of the border…

  46. @Matthias, and the commentariat in general: Left Hand of Darkness is absolutely great! Le Guin did a ton of really interesting writing about deindustrial futures. She even had a term for societies going through our current stage – an EEPT, standing for Explosive Expansion of Population and Technology. My favourite book of hers I think is Always Coming Home, an ethnographic study of a group of people called the Kesh who live the far, far distant and deindustrial future in a place where present day Northern California is now.

    Another amazing series of books taking place in a deindustrial setting is the Broken Earth trilogy by NK Jemisin. I can’t get too into it, but essentially it’s fantasy but not genre fantasy, which is really darn tough to pull off and she does it beautifully. HIGHLY recommend!

  47. David, to judge by the evidence of history, democracies can be just as farsighted as other forms of government — or to put things the other way, other forms of government can be just as shortsighted as democracy! It depends very much on the intellectual habits of the society in question.

    Violet, no question, culture death is a rough row to hoe. Agreed about Russia! My grasp of Russian culture relies on nothing more than three years of Russian language in high school, followed by a fair amount of reading in Russian history and literature, but from that limited perspective Spengler’s prediction of a Russian great culture in the future seems very hopeful to me.

    Monk, at this point I think the odds are against the Catholic church in anything like its current form surviving for long. At best, some fragment of it may survive in the kind of half-fossilized form we see in, for example, the Coptic Church in Egypt, but it looks to me as though it’s heading toward the kind of institutional collapse that hit the Soviet Union. The Faustian future will thus likely be Protestant rather than Catholic, with perhaps half a dozen independent, Protestantized neo-Catholic denominations each competing for members in the spiritual smorgasbord.

    Phil, I’ve covered these points extensively in my books The Long Descent and The Ecotechnic Future. The very short form is that the steps toward faux sustainability we’ve seen so far are all utterly dependent on cheap fossil fuel energy, and can’t be sustained without that “stealth subsidy.” Nor do we have that much time left to make any more meaningful preparations…

    Monk, you might want to start with Rene Guenon and Frithjof Schuon and go from there.

    Terry, interesting. It’s a hard pattern to miss if you study history on the grand scale!

    Synthase, er, the most populous parts of eastern Canada are part of the western borderland I traced out; Australia can be seen as another borderland, though in that case the next pseudomorphosis will almost certainly be Chinese. As for why borderlands tend to pup high cultures, that’s a very good question which I leave to the historians of the far future to sort out. What history shows is that far more often than not, that’s what happens.

    Dylan, thanks for this! I certainly don’t claim infallibility for my take; I’ll be interested to see what you think as I expand this discussion the week after next.

    RPC, Europe from the fifth to the fifteenth centuries was its own thing, or more precisely was in the process of becoming its own thing, but pseudomorphosis is the standard state of a nascent high culture. Remember that in the Middle Ages, most European monarchs were formally (though not effectively) vassals of the Holy Roman Emperor, in exactly the same sense that most of the monarchs of the Dar al-Islam were vassals of the Caliph.

    John, you’re welcome.

    Grey Holm, that strikes me as a very useful way of looking at it.

    Jim, it’s Spengler’s term, and he devotes some pages to it in The Decline of the West. Like most German thinkers of his time, he was thinking of Goethe’s version of the Faust myth, which is less about selling your soul to the devil and more about the restless soaring quest for the infinite that Spengler saw as central to our civilization.

    Nastarana, one of the things that inevitably happens in the course of a period of pseudomorphosis is that what’s borrowed from the older and more prestigious culture always gets reworked in various mostly subtle ways. The profusion of lively little sculptures in Romanesque basilicas is a great example! As for the ritual you describe, why, yes — and there are still elements of that preserved, like flies in amber, in modern Freemasonry.

    M. Agathon, since we appear to be moving toward an era of Chinese global dominance, that would seen entirely plausible to me.

    Oriol, good. (1) In Spengler’s morphology, once a great culture goes through its normal life cycle and settles into stasis, it can endure for a very long time; its basic cultural, political, and religious forms remain unchanged, though empires rise and fall. Recall the way that Ashurbanipal (669-627 BCE), the last great king of Assyria, collected and studied Sumerian literature dating from more than two thousand years before his time, and you can get some sense of the continuity of the Mesopotamian great culture. (2) Apollonian culture had a double pseudomorphosis, once from Egyptian and once from the Phoenician offshoot of the Mesopotamian great culture; I’m by no means certain it’s a general rule — the first great culture to arise on any given continent, in particular, doesn’t seem to be subject to that rule — but it does seem to apply fairly often. (3) All of the above! Once a great culture has settled into its enduring static form, its capacity to adapt to new conditions is sharply limited, and it endures until it meets either a set of environmental conditions it can’t survive, or a younger great culture that expands into its territory and replaces it.

    Changeling, if Australia is still ecologically able to support urban communities in the wake of climate change, I could see it becoming part of the expanding Chinese cultural sphere, and then potentially pupping a great culture of its own as the Chinese empire fades out. The wider Pacific rim? That would require a case-by-case analysis, to see what’s likely to provide the framework for a great culture, and what’s likely to remain a peripheral zone influenced by whatever dominant culture from elsewhere is locally strongest.

    Spicehammer, that’s an extraordinarily rich set of questions to which, as far as I know, nobody alive today can possibly know the answers. There are plenty of river valleys flowing into the Arctic ocean, and a summer in which the sun stays up for months at a time ought to lead to impressive crop yields, so agriculture should be no trouble. Beyond that? I’d encourage science fiction writers to look into it.

  48. Trump is an expert of New York. Well, now he is learning something else, the rest and in a quick pace.

  49. @JMG

    Re short/farsightedness and governance

    There I go again, searching for solutions in systems rather than substance. It is a habit I seriously need to work on divesting myself of.

    The idea of knowledge and technological discovery being a function of cultural values, rather than objective things unto themselves, strikes me as paralleling previous discussions of how meaning is a function of both subject and object, not just the object itself. (As you said, if I recall, “something means something to somebody.” So a particular culture — one of these future cultures, for example — will pursue the forms of knowledge and the technologies that culture finds meaningful based on its values, and not necessarily what we deem important. Sheer heresy, my good sir! 😉

    Aside from the intellectual joy of speculation and thought-experiment (which I fully embrace, by the way), what value do you see in peering into the murky future to detect the outlines of these cultures yet-to-come? Or is the lesson really in accepting the demise of our own?

  50. “We can make diesel or jet fuel from water and CO2. ”

    Oh, God, I hope not. If we drain the atmosphere of its CO2, that will be an extinction level event, possibly not recoverable.

  51. @sng,
    I can’t speak more highly of the functioning culture on the other side of the Great Lakes–Southern Ontario has a lot going for it, as well.

  52. SpiceisNice, there are good practical reasons — many of them having to do with agriculture and transport — why river valleys are extremely common venues for great cultures to emerge. On the other hand, the polytheological dimension is also worth keeping in mind!

    James, got it in one. The basic theme of Faustian culture is infinite expansion, and so you’ll rarely encounter a Faustian ideology that doesn’t insist that it’s the one true belief system that everyone must adopt, and then run to inhuman extremes in one or more directions.

    Dave, put in the oven of history and bake for five centuries, and out comes a piping hot culture!

    Jon, there’s been a screwup with the publisher. I hope to be able to announce that in a few days, if they can get their act together.

    Tripp, I don’t know that a second pseudomorphosis is required, but it seems to be in the cards. No, I didn’t read any of this in the stars! As for the eastern seaboard, we’ll get to that in the upcoming posts.

    Yorkshire, thank you for this!

    MawKernewek, it’ll be two weeks from now, since next week’s the slot for our regularly scheduled Cosmic Doctrine discussion.

    ZombieLord, given the likely pace of sea level rise, Memphis will be a seaport by the time this happens, and the entire lower Mississippi valley will be a massive and ecologically rich estulary. (I call in “Banroo Bay” in my postcollapse novel Star’s Reach, “Banroo” being what four centuries of cultural and linguistic drift have done to “Baton Rouge.”)

    Ryan, if you want to show me where I said Oswald Spengler is a fount of all knowledge, I’ll take the rest of your comment seriously.

    BoysMom, it’s an interesting question whether the northwest coast will pup a great culture, or whether it’ll simply be one of the many peripheral regions that absorb the influences of great cultures but never quite manage one of their own.

    Docshibby, excellent. Those are two of the core reasons I expect those regions to be the seedbeds of their respective great cultures — coastal regions will be contending with spasmodic sea level rises for centuries to come, while inland river valleys with good agricultural land will have a far easier time amassing the economic surplus that makes a great culture possible.

    Peteybee, why, they follow their own rhythms of civilizational rise and fall, of course. Since this is a blog post and not a 400-page book, I didn’t try to map out the future of the earth for the next millennium in it.

    Dropbear, the US science fiction writer Cordwainer Smith worked out a future history in which Australia was conquered by the Chinese, renamed Aojou Nambien, and turned into a single city the size of a continent, so your local Australian elites are following in an honorable if distinctly crazy precedent! As for the labels, they refer to specific great cultures, not to general categories, and yes, there are others — for example, the Egyptian, the Mesopotamian, the Indian, the Chinese, and the Mesoamerican.

    Jay, that’s certainly one of the likely options.

    Foster, you’re using the term Magian in a different sense than Spengler was, and that’s causing your confusion here.

  53. Patricia Matthews,

    I wasn’t arguing that the Indians had little influence. I was rather confused by the way JMG seemed to phrase a situation in which the Faustian Europeans who came here right at the early days of the Faustian culture were spoken of as if they were not of that culture.


    As to my earlier objection, I see that Protestantism is individualistic, but they do still strongly retain the idea of one true religion and having to get the theology right. Nonetheless, that may very well be on the way out. I just don’t quite know how though. Christianity has a tale of a divine salvation plan that only makes sense when that plan is unique. I do know of one way out…that is universal salvation. Not only did the ancient (Orthodox) Catholic Church often teach it and still retains it, but there are also some Protestant others who make a very, very good case for it.

  54. John, have you come across the “inevitable empire” concept popularized by the geopolitical people – I think at Stratfor. They start with a global look at arable land and navigable rivers and argue that they are the basis of long-term economic power. The Mississippi watershed supposedly has the biggest river network spread through the largest chunk of arable land. So whoever controlled that would by necessity be a great power. They argued the U.S. could give up the east coast and everything west of say Wichita, KS and still be perhaps the dominant great power. You need to control at least east Texas since it protects your access by the Misissippi to the Gulf of Mexico. (They discount land that has to be irrigated, so California is of no long-term value.) Prosperity does not equal cultural development, but both your Meriga and this latest reference are big on the heart of the continent.

  55. JMG

    You have spoken about the world depopulation in the decline of industrial society, is this related to the rise of the next two high cultures?

  56. JMG,

    If, as you say, Faustian ideology insists on one true right way, that would explain the current adoration of modern capitalism as being some sort of breakthrough from which all blessings flow.

  57. Archdruid,

    Is pseudomorphosis related to memisis? That is the less successful culture in the contest adopts traits of the conquering, until such time as it can throw off the shackles? If so then I have a very interesting report from India. The results of the contest of cultures, which saw Indic culture rocked for about 1000 years (if you start with the Islamic Invasions) is actively being attacked by local personalities. Everything from man’s dominion over nature, to the definitions of sexuality are being pushed back against by Hindu scholars. Right now, I don’t know what to make of the whole thing, but it really does seem like the old indus culture is reasserting its primacy.

    A pity you avoid commentary about the current stat of affairs in South Asia, but your reasons are perfectly understandable.



  58. Spicehammer, that’s a valid question, and best measured by examining a wide range of cultures. It’s fairly common, for example, for the arts to tip over into decline well before political weakness sets in, and for technology to keep on improving right up until the economic basis drops out from underneath it. Certainly that’s been the case for Faustian culture! Thus a broader and more varied sense of what’s declining, what’s more or less stable, and what’s improving is worth having.

    Elodie, basically, yes. As for how much vitality Islam will have, the shape of the European future over the next millennium or so will depend on that.

    Matthias, of course it’s possible to look at the genesis of civilizations using a different set of models, and Toynbee’s also has a lot to offer. I’m simply using Spengler’s right now, because it has more to offer as a set of analytical tools for the specific purposes I have in mind. As for the Le Guin novel, hmm! It’s been a long time since I read it, and I don’t recall noticing that detail at all. Thank you.

    Shawn, yep. Good.

    Ethan, that same insight was all through the occult scene in Steiner’s time; I originally got it from the same Theosophical sources he did, though of course I proceeded to rework it in terms of Spenglerian cultural morphology. Still, in the broadest sense, you’re quite right.

    Cortes, of course. Spengler would agree with you, as it happens; the basic themes and metaphors of a great culture emerge from folk culture and only later take shape in formal terms.

    Sng, exactly. In a world racked by anthropogenic climate change and the other nasty consequences left behind by the brief and self-terminating industrial age, a very large region of first-rate agricultural land far from the rising seas, provided with adequate rain and ample supplies of fresh water, and already used to standing apart from the elite culture of the dying Faustian pseudomorphosis, is very well positioned to become the seedbed of the future. (The identical description can be applied to the Volga river basin, by the way!) This is why I made the Ohio river valley the heartland of Meriga, the future dark age America of my novel Star’s Reach.

    Shane, in the 26th century, it’s vanishingly unlikely that it’ll be the same two nations!

    E. Goldstein, I expect China to pursue global hegemony, achieve it for a century or two, and then tip into a fairly harsh decline and fall, precisely because it’s disrupted the stable systems of agriculture and local economics that put a floor under its previous collapses.

  59. “The basic theme of Faustian culture is infinite expansion”

    This reminds me of another doctrine of Mormonism: that for those who achieve godhood in the celestial kingdom, there is ongoing, limitless increase in glory and happiness. In fact, Mormonism rejects creation ex nihilo in favor of an infinitist theogony: God is not the first god. Each of us has always existed as an intelligence waiting to become a spirit child then a mortal, then finally taking our place as new gods to start a new branch of the process if we’re worthy.

    The interesting price of this theology of infinite expansion, of course, is that it’s a limited theism, in which God is neither eternal or infinite in the classical sense!

    This leads me to a question: a while back I think you said something to the extent that in the Western occult tradition, once you gain control of the cycle of your own rebirths, “there is no end to the power and grace you can win by your own effort,” and some of your writings, including your books on Druidry, seem to reflect this idea. Is this not an expression of the Faustian notion of infinite expansion? I know you’ve been accused of a covert belief in Progress on this front, but I think my question is subtly different.

  60. Simo, keep in mind that New York City has been the economic center of North America since colonial times. What works there clearly, er, trumps what works elsewhere…

    David, excellent! No, it’s not simply a matter of accepting the demise of our current Faustian pseudomorphosis; I’ll have quite a bit to say about what inklings we can get concerning the two great cultures of the future I’m discussing. Part of the point of this conversation, in fact, is realizing that the end of the industrial age isn’t the end of everything; it’s simply an ordinary decline and fall, to be followed by an ordinary dark age and the ordinary emergence of successor societies that will build on our ruins. That is to say, after winter comes spring…

    Onething, the way out I see is one that American Christianity hasn’t yet gotten around to noticing, but then American Christianity hasn’t yet had enough time as a minority religion to get the memo. It’s quite simply this: the god you worship takes care of your afterlife. If you live and die a devout Christian, Jesus sees to it that you go to the Christian heaven; if you belong to some other religion, you do something else when you die. Embracing this way of thinking would require American Christianity to ditch the bad habit of treating God as a bully who will beat you up forever if you don’t do what he tells you; it will also require a refocusing of Christian thought and ethics on life rather than the afterlife — and both of these are already under way, and fit much better with the new religious sensibility I see rising around us.

    Albert, population decline is a normal feature of the decline and fall of a civilization, and new cultures tend to rise as the contraction bottoms out and population levels stabilize.

    Onething, got it in one. Have you noticed how much the current praise of capitalism sounds like the loud praise of socialism that used to come out of Soviet media?

    Varun, exactly. India’s good at that; it’s been through several rounds of pseudomorphosis already, and so far, it’s always ended up circling back around to its own cultural roots.

  61. James, yes, it’s a different question, and you’re quite correct. Druidry is a religion of the Faustian culture; in its modern form, it’s solidly rooted in Anglo-American culture; and so it inevitably shares in the basic mentality of the Faustian world. One of the common Faustian fantasies is the belief that we can somehow stop being what we are, that we can zoom off so far and so fast that we become members of some other culture…and we can’t. As the old country song has it, “you are what you are and you ain’t what you ain’t.”

  62. Living on set of Islands currently under the faustian pseudomorphisis (New Zealand), I find the concept of cultural pseudomorphisis extremely useful in examining the world around me. Its always fascinating for me the contrasting forms I see around me, from the cultural form of the landscape, to the people to the relationship between maori cultural and the (predominately) european settler culture. Just occasionally i see flickers of an emerging cultural of both faustian, maori, polynesian and whatever else might come to influence us. Its a rather strange place to be in. During the day I go out and work in peoples backyards, gullies etc. I get a good look at the relationship between the faustian cultral forms imposed on this landscape, and the reaction or blending in the landscape with the cultural forms.

    I doubt any ‘High culture’ will emerge in this corner of the world, though I recall Toynbee arguing Ireland had its own emerging far western culture that was aborted by the vikings and the rise of western civ. I also recall him arguing Polynesian culture (He uses that term to broadly encompass the cultures of the pacific islands) is an ‘arrested’ culture. the challenge of the sea proved too great. who knows? though any high culture emerging from New Zealand will need to have a sea god or goddess right at the centre of its major religion I’m sure of that.

    Anyways, Just a few thoughts!

  63. Hello JMG,

    From your answer to Peteybee:

    “Since this is a blog post and not a 400-page book, I didn’t try to map out the future of the earth for the next millennium in it.”

    I would love such a book, and better still a 1000 or 2000-page book! But I know I am asking too much. Thank you for a very interesting start to what looks like a great series of posts!


  64. @ E. Goldstein

    It’s true that there are many Chinese in the Russian Far East, but this is something that the Russians are a) aware of b) concerned about and c) taking action about. They have been giving out free farmland in the region to Russian citizens (especially new citizens who are refugees from Ukraine) for some years now. There’s also a well-established network of Old Believer farming communities there.

    For all the recent cooperation between the two countries, the Russians don’t trust the Chinese an inch; they have massive armed forces in Siberia and the Far East for a reason. I suspect that if the Russians started to round up and repatriate illegal settlers, the Chinese government would just shrug its shoulders, because the energy links with Russia are strategically much more important; a few hundred thousand, even a few million, peasants aren’t worth an armed conflict with Russia (which, after all, is capable of nuking Beijing).

    Furthermore… your ordinary Chinese, these days, wouldn’t really fancy living in Siberia if there’s a warmer alternative available, and there is: Africa. Many Chinese, and I’ve been told this personally, regard Africa as having lots of fertile land which is under-populated and under-used. I’ve been told, by an educated and not-un-influential official, that Africa is the ideal destination for China’s surplus population. I don’t suggest that there would be a formal colonisation program, but you may or may not be aware that there is already a thriving Chinese population throughout Africa – traders, businessmen, small farmers – who are in places very unpopular, either for out-competing local peers, or for their treatment of local staff. Should economic or political upheaval lead to them being attacked, the Chinese military will get involved. (The recent smash hit movie ‘Wolf Warriors 2 has prepped the Chinese public for such an eventuality).

  65. Hello JMG

    What about China and India, how do they fit into Magian and Apollonian culture? They seem to have taken on Faustian culture, presumably because the fundamental theme of Faustian culture is expansion.


  66. Hi JMG,

    As usual, your essay had me doing my own research to keep up with the things I did not learn in the Faustian educational system. I looked into why Spengler chose Faustian. Seems he compared our culture with Faust. Faust sold his soul to the devil for more power. We sold our souls to oil and technology for more power. That seems in line with the tenets of Ecosphia??



  67. John, I’m interested to know how the Mystery Tradition will evolve in a post-Faustian culture. Obviously after the decline of Rome the mystery schools seemed to go underground moving northward into Europe while retaining much of the former gnostic, neoplatonic, and druidic knowledge of Apollonian culture. It seems to me that the second wave of pseudomorphosis introduced Kabbalah, Hermeticism, Sufi philosophy and other mystical ideas of Magian culture into Europe on a grand scale bringing about the Renaissance and eventually the Scientific Revolution, Enlightenment, etc….

    How do you think it will play out in the future? Will we see something like a “neo-rosicrucian enlightenment” (for lack of a better term) that retains basic elements of the Western Mystery Tradition somewhere in Ohio in say, …500 years? Perhaps a secret order of warrior monks in the tradition of the Knights Templar building monasteries in the mountains of West Virginia not unlike the Cathars in Southern France? How do you think Freemasonry will evolve?

  68. Yes, the technology leads right up to the bleeding edge. We think of Rome as falling no later than 400AD, (which is still two Americas after Caesar Augustus) but more and more they find the highest works of Rome later. Here’s a Roman mill in Gaul with 16 combined overshot wheels, milling 10,000 pounds of flour a day for a population of perhaps 20,000.

    Note the required inputs. You need a massive planning and manpower to create it, experience in large-scale machinery, a banking system to fund it for the decades of construction, a massive, pre-existing aqueduct, huge, well-maintained roads, stable crop production, a thousand wagons working year-round, and the stable expectation of its use for a nearby city to remain profitable and unmolested. Yet this is the type of Victorian-scale infrastructure that was being built AFTER the “fall” of Rome.

    Seeing this, you both have to adjust what the “Dark Ages” really were, as well as how or more importantly IF Rome ever fell at all. For these are just stories we tell ourselves, and perhaps Rome fell with the Republic, fell with Charlemange, or never fell at all, for we are the inheritors of Roman thinking and design, through Britain to America and the world.

    Anyway, as archeology improves and we resist our own intense biases, we find more and more and enormous, advanced world, living on and on all over.

  69. @John Michael Greer
    Here is some context on the Brazilian situation.

    Catholicism is the largest religion in Brazil, but adherence is falling. In 1872 Catholics were 99.71% of the population; 95% in 1940; 68.43% in 2009. People without religion and with other ones filled the gap.

    A remarkable newcomer is the “Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus—”Universal Church of the Kingdom of God,” an obvious play with the name of the Catholic (Universal) Church. It got big; the church owns the second TV network in Brazil. The combination of exorcism practices with a prosperity theology—yes, with the associated exploitation of followers—made it popular. The leader of the Universal (as it is known here), Edir Macedo, is supporting the right-wing presidential candidate Bolsonaro, perhaps in an attempt to avoid Catholic officialism to cause problems to his church.

    The country is in chaos. Numbers are rounded, statistics are for the third quarter of 2018, from IBGE (a government agency). Joblessness (people who looked for work in the last 30 days but were unable to find it) is at about 11%; the broadest measure (all people of working age but who do not work) is at 24%.

    Brazilian politics is as polarized as in the United States, with the Workers Party—”Partido dos Trabalhadores” (PT)—in one side, and whoever the opposition manages to choose in the other. Yes, there is no specific opposition, only a loose block against PT. There is a kind of “white coup” happening; details are too long to explain here.

    This all is happening in the context of peak oil getting closer for the country. A dissertation from the Universidade Federal Fluminense (in Portuguese; see page 63) used Hubbert curves to estimate peak in 2021.

    The strong points are, though, that Brazilian environment is not so depleted as in other countries; most of our electricity comes from hydropower; there is a strong ethanol fuel program, based on sugar cane, that albeit not able to keep the current excesses, will surely cushion the Long Descent—if Brazilians manage to keep control of the country, and it is not sucked dry by foreign powers.

    @James M. Jensen II
    I also have a problem with this belief reeking of Progress. However, I also believe that there is certainly room for improvement; limitlessness is unfalsifiable at this point, and not terribly relevant.

    There are many ways down; the most immediate is the fall in available human bodies caused by resource depletion. Google told me, when I looked for world population doubling time, that the current number is 61 years.

    It is interesting to think that half of the current world population were literally animals, according to the druidical belief, 61 years ago. Obviously, most of those will be people that are younger than this age (yours truly included, I am 42; some rebirths of course are among them, though it is very likely I am one of the animals upgraded too soon, calling the other animals black).

    I cant prove that this is true or not, but this myth provides a good explanation for the quality of discourse in Internet.

  70. I would like to remark about your observation that Christianity has historically exhibited a tendency to a narrow-minded obsessiveness about dogmatic metaphysical truth claims, borrowed from Magian civilization. This tendency is sadly very much on exhibit over the course of most of Christian history, and it may very well be true that this tendency is borrowed from Magian civilization – largely mediated by the historical processes unleashed by Constantine’s use of Christianity to try to cement his control over the then-faltering Roman Empire.

    However, this Magian tendency (if it is that) towards dogmatic narrow-mindedness and communally-based authoritarianism is not inherent to the Christian religion as such. Properly speaking, Christianity’s unwavering and uncompromising commitment to absolute truth sets the stage for an attitude towards dogma and truth that is quite different – one that is broad-minded and pacifistically self-assured in its conviction that any external or internal challenge to Christianity’s distinct religious claims can and will ultimately be vindicated on the basis of rigorously impartial investigation.

    One can find this spirit of genuine, broadly tolerant confidence in objective truth and its compatibility with the Gospel message breathing (though sometimes imperfectly) in the writings and doings of the broad sweep of Eastern Church Fathers extending from the second to about the sixth century. Included are such illustrious names as Clement and Origen of Alexandria, Gregory of Nyssa, Diodore of Tarsus, and Theodore of Mopsuestia – among others.

    Perhaps no single fact signals this self-assured fearlessness of all truth most clearly than the little-known fact that all of the figures I have mentioned, and many others as well, were avowed Universalists – i.e., they believed hell to be of finite duration only for each and every member of humanity, not just adherents of the Christian religion.

    I am also personally a Nestorian Christian for precisely the same type of reason. Despite the individual imperfections of many of its members over the centuries, the history and accumulated dogmatic claims of Assyrian Church of the East (aka Nestorianism) perfectly embody this spirit of serene, broad-minded, quiet confidence in the ultimate truth claims of the Christian religion that I have characterized above.

    In this regard, it is no accident, I believe, that the Church of the East is the only historically deeply rooted form of Christianity whose destiny unfolded outside the confines of the Roman Empire – to its east, across the Asian landmass. Historically, it is perhaps this circumstance that has spared the Church of the East of having to undergo the processes of Magian/Constantinian corruption and associated narrow-minded dogmatizing that ultimately afflicted all the historic branches of Christendom within the Roman Empire (including, by historical extension, Protestantism). If one surveys the vast though little-known expanse of the history of the Church of the East, one will find very little of this sort of thing.

  71. @JMG, Onething, Matthias, thank you for your kind comments on my essay. Spengler’s work is, in my opinion, very much underrated, and deserves more attention now that a hundred years have gone by and we have that much data against which to test his predictions.

    My essay is currently available online, but is looking for a home in print. Any tips from readers toward publications that might be interested in a lively, non-scholarly re-examination of Spengler’s ideas would be much appreciated.

    The link again:

  72. sng, JMG, and all

    I must second the feeling that there is something magical within the land of the great lakes. Certainly many people for magic towards places but there is an incredibly strong pull to the area of the great lakes that I can’t say I’ve experienced in other places (and I’ve been to quite a few different places!). One place I haven’t as of yet had a chance to visit is the Sleeping Giant along the Northern shores of Lake Superior. Legend has it that the Sleeping Giant is the spirit of Nanabozho, the Great Spirit of Deep Water, who was angered by the way the natural resource of silver was carelessly being excavated. In a fit of rage, Nanabozho produced a great storm, killing those who had been so careless in overusing the natural resources. After the storm passed, Nanabozho was now the Sleeping Giant, covering the silver mine. Today, despite not having been there, I feel the Sleeping Giant stir in the storms we receive along the Northern shore in Minnesota. Without a doubt, the Sleeping Giant is a reminder of the foolishness with which many of us act towards the natural world. And without a doubt, Nanabozho and the other gods of the land are acting in ways to encourage us to live in more harmony with the natural world. It’ll be fun to speculate on what will happen, and even more fun to hear what others see is already happening.

    One thing which has really impressed me is the amount of community supported agriculture that has developed where I am living, and the ways in which these farms are trying to use the most sustainable methods to grow foods.

  73. Thanks JMG! I read the Decline of the West a few years ago because you referenced it in the Archdruid Report. I really enjoyed reading it, very beautiful writing.

    I think Latin America is pretty much one of the hinterlands of Faustian Culture too. The cultural inheritance and influence from Spain is very palpable. There also has always been a latent energy from the suppressed indigenous cultures that I think will awake once the western influence weakens. There’s a quote from a character in a novel by Carlos Fuentes that got stuck in my mind. From memory: “The spanish priests thought that by destroying the temples and statues they had killed the gods, but the gods lived in the air. Even today you can find pagan gods in catholic temples put in there by indigenous artisans…”.

  74. Onething (and JMG),

    It is interesting to see how your remarks about Protestantism and ancient (Eastern) Orthodoxy dovetail with my earlier, lengthy comment about the Church of the East. If I may quote in full:

    “I see that Protestantism is individualistic, but they do still strongly retain the idea of one true religion and having to get the theology right. Nonetheless, that may very well be on the way out. I just don’t quite know how though. Christianity has a tale of a divine salvation plan that only makes sense when that plan is unique. I do know of one way out…that is universal salvation. Not only did the ancient (Orthodox) Catholic Church often teach it and still retains it, but there are also some Protestant others who make a very, very good case for it.”

    Exactly – Christianity offers a plan of salvation that is objectively true, and in a very real sense exclusive of all other systems of religious truth claims. But it does not follow from that that its adherents need to be narrowly and dogmatically intolerant.

    You are also correct that, since the salvation that Christ offers is ultimately available for all, a properly open-minded confidence about Christian truth claims tends to lead orthodox Christian thinkers of this type into a universalist direction – but without compromising on the objective truth of Christian religious claims.

    On a more fundamental level, I would propose to you that “The way out” is as follows: It roots in the recognition that the true spirit of Christian faith includes a courageous willingness to test Christian truth claims rigorously against any intellectual challenge, with the abiding conviction that these claims will ultimately be vindicated. That attitude is, sadly, absent in most dogmatic adherents of Christianity on account of the corruptions historically caused by the Magian intrusion into Christian history. But it need not be so, and the Assyrian Church of the East offers the proper remedy to this type of misguided thinking. That is why I believe it to be the True Church of Christ.

  75. @ David by the Lake – you wondered: “Is the nature of democratic governance particularly sensitive to short-term considerations?”

    Given that the subject under discussion is the prospect of an American culture rising in the future, it might be worth bringing back into common currency knowledge of the extent to which the US Constitution was influenced by the Great Law of the Longhouse People (a history of which is related here ) – a long-lived and tested system of democratic governance which stressed the following extremely long-sighted injunction: “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.”

    It is worth remembering that both sets of documents, and all the lives lived under them, have a strong connection to, and influence on, the territory from which the new culture will be grown.

  76. Impeccably written, as always. The bit where you stepped inside the mind of a modeled greco roman worldview was stunningly reverberative.

    The age of descent may certainly seem like the end of the road. Heaven help those who like to mindlessly drive – I myself am a former addict. This is actually the reason I decided to write the piece, as I see that the age of the automobile may have further to go.

    My experience traveling in Asia inclines me to believe that the energy matrix is far more robust than it appears at first glance. The rate of addition of wind and solar capacity has been amphetamenic.

    The prediction of a price shock actually struck me as a touch conservative, but it certainly won’t be pretty. When the price shock (does) come, it is conceivable that after 1-3 years of some pain an equally functional road transportation system (CNG buses, electric cars, etc) would reemerge. Based on fully diversified energy matrix I suspect most of Asia would experience a return to the same standard of living or even experience a per capita increase.

    Policymakers in Beijing have no doubt outlined such an eventuality, even if it is not clear that they could cope with the live fire drill. For India, who knows. All of this said, I make no similar conjecture for those in the West…

    My best wishes to you in your work.

  77. re: arctic agriculture

    The sun is constant if you are far enough north but it is at a low angle. It is as if the sun came up in the morning then stopped and went around the horizon – all the way day after day – for weeks if you are north enough (I was there in summer of 1967 and 68). It gradually starts to rise and fall and then dip below the horizon more and more. (Ramadan fasting by Quranic rules becomes difficult. One guy a little farther south gave himself an hour a day to eat and drink. Maybe when Ramadan moves to winter he will eat most of the day. Most people just go to Mecca hours. Proper Islam is practical.)

    For the dark seasons the opposite occurs. There may be a glow at times but no sun and then it goes dark again. This is depressing for many.

    At the low angle the light passes through more air. Energy is dispersed.

    The point is you do get longer periods of light (when you have it) but it is weaker.

    A few years ago I read that southern Greenland was again warm enough to grow veggies. A Yupik Eskimo lent me a book on her home and how people lived around 1950. They were growing veggies then in the Nome area.

    The present warmth in the Arctic might be partially a result of current and wind changes flushing ice into the North Atlantic. Because of the weakness of oceanography and the difficulty of tracking currents where there is ice I really think this may be an unknown.

    It has been warm there before without climate change so expect some oscillation.

    Record Arctic Warmth – in 1937
    Posted on April 29, 2015 by Euan Mearns

  78. JMG,

    Regarding your response to Onething that America isn’t the center of Faustian culture, rather it’s instead the current dominant power…. I believe that a “civilization” and a “culture” are two separate things in Spengler’s nomenclature—no? That’s the way it sounds to me because of the way you refer to both the Greek and Roman empires as Apollonian culture.

    Thus the American empire would be a “civilization,” and Western culture in general would be a “culture,” if I understand you correctly. Could you clarify the difference between a civilization and a culture a bit more?

    Also— what about Chinese or Indian cultures? Hasn’t China had an urbanized civilization long enough to have half a dozen cultures of its own already? And wouldn’t an Indian culture of the past have influenced Magian culture? Maybe Spengler omitted them due to his own biases, but I’m surprised you didn’t mention anything outside of “the West.” Certainly, whatever is the current Chinese culture—if there is one—would have an influence on Russia both now and in the future.

    Are you going to skip over the East, or should we expect that discussion coming next week?

  79. It seems @ one time that you thought New England would be the only place capable of supporting civilization, because of the infrastructure and population density. What made you change your mind? Are you going to flesh out what the South looks like?

  80. Bogatyr,

    I really appreciated your comments on China and the Russian Far East. Obviously it was spoken with a great amount of experience from that area, as I well know you have 😉

    The Russian Far East is a really interesting point. While Russia is trying to help populate the region with free land, and some have been taking that free land, especially Cossacks who come knowing it is their patriotic duty to defend their homeland, there are others who seem to have trouble navigating the bureaucratic red tape to get the land, my wife being one of those having that trouble. Many Chinese still consider the region to belong to China, and with a sense of patriotism have begun buying up land in Primorskii Krai and areas along the Heilongjiang River. While I know from my own firsthand experience, most Chinese prefer warmer climates, it’ll be interesting to see how much they’d be willing to suffer for their country and further expand their influence until perhaps regaining control of the region, or if they’ll leave the land to Russia. Right now, they are moving their pawns, testing the other opponent but are definitely more focused on the USA. China will definitely need to expand. Africa is certainly an area they’ve opened doors for expansion into but if opportunity allows, well, we’ll see what happens

  81. If the telos of the Faustian high culture is infinite expansion, what is the telos of the Magian culture? What are the scriptures and the mosques and the obedience to monotheism all for?

  82. Re. borderlands being the heartlands of the next culture, the most obvious explanation is that they collapse early and avoid the rush. Because they collapse before everyone else, they have a head start on rebuilding – and with less attachment to the previous civilisation, they spend less time pining after ruins. Plus no-one cares what they get up to, a civilisation equivalent of the gentrification that occurs from artists moving into ignored neighbourhoods.

  83. I have not finished reading all the comments so maybe someone already mentioned this…
    I am surprised you did not mention the ecological aspect of the process of new cultures emerging in the borderlands.
    I think ecology provides the answer for many of the questions in the comments. For example, new cultures appear in the borderlands because those are the areas that are not yet fully exhausted (in terms of soil, water, forests and minerals).You mentioned the fact that the river valleys are very rich places which allow civilizations to form/thrive.
    That is the reason that I don’t see Australia as a good borderland for culture – unless climate change turns it into a rich tropical forest. And that would take thousands of years…

    I haven’t read Spengler but my simplistic view is that if we watch a movie of human civilizations spreading, it will look almost like a mushroom patch – starting in the fertile crescent (and maybe a couple more centers) and spreading outward after exhausting local resources and basically turning the land to desert. Some places have a chance to recover but today with the huge changes in climate, I doubt there will be many rich borderlands to spread to. The temperate zones will suffer desertification and the polar regions have poor soils.

    The borderlands you mentioned might be good places of refuge and yes they will generate new civilizations but at a smaller scale.

    What do you think?

  84. Two thoughts:

    In biological systems all the action occurs at the “triple point” where a solid substrate, gas, and water are present. (Fire/Energy, the fourth element is implied.) This works from the cellular level right on up to biological communities or cities. Demonstrated by a microscope, a walk through a river valley, or Google Earth.

    Several mentions of China. If you read a history of China, which is quite the undertaking, you will see many cycles of rise and fall of cultural waves. There have been many China’s.

  85. Greetings all

    On a side note: (1) Did Spengler deal at all with Indian and Chinese civilisations. How did they fare in his grand historical scheme?

    (2) That the next High Culture could emerge either from the America’s or Russia is plausible, but why not from India or China, after all, they too are on the border lands of the current dominant faustian culture? It seems to me that the next high culture could potentially arise from a number of places, India and China on top of the list.

    (3) About 15 years ago, a group of friends and I discussed how civilisations could fall due to peak oil, among other crisis, I came up with the idea of Mega civilisations which competed in the past for regional dominance and now for global dominance, and these were the (1) Western, (2) Middle Eastern-Islamic (3) Indo-Islamic and (4) Chinese mega civilisations. A rough sketch that leaves much behind no doubt, but in my view it seemed that with the fall of the western mega-civilisation, the Indian and Chinese Mega-civilisation have a greater chance of making it through and rising to global dominance. After all these two mega civilisations have large agricultural lands and rivers and a long tradition of accumulation of surpluses to sustain high cultures, just like in the past.
    Admittedly I forgot about Russia.

    (5) In short, I quite agree that our current Faustian civilisation is on the decline but I am not very convinced that the next high culture would come from those areas you have identified.


  86. I’m fascinated by the concept of resource depletion and plan to read The Last Descent to try and understand your take on it. Decades ago I read a comment, I wish I remember where, to the effect: “The stone age didn’t end for lack of stones and the oil age won’t end for lack of oil.” That sentiment has always given me comfort, perhaps a false comfort. I searched proven oil reserves and BP, obviously an interested party, estimated in 2016 we have 53 years of oil based on current drilling technology and usage rates. Does that sound roughly correct to you?

    Of course current usage rates are ridiculously low if Asian, Indian, and African consumers hope to achieve anything close to a western style of living. Is that part of the problem you foresee? In that regard, I think resource depletion generally, not just oil, will be an enormous problem with so many people aspiring to a better quality of life. I can’t blame anyone for pursuing a better quality of life, the question is sustainability.

    If these questions are addressed in your book, just point me there. Thank you.

  87. I’m nearing the end of Volume 1 of Spengler. It was my father’s copy, and I come across marginal notes of his throughout. 😉 The title in German: Der Untergang des Abendlandes, has an undertone missing in English. Abendlandes literally means “evening lands”, with the implication of the setting sun.

    JMG – thank you for your clarification of what Spengler meant by Faustian. The translation of the meaning in The Decline of the West is somewhat obscure.

    Dylan – that essay is excellent. I was aware of the Gracchi, and had a feeling of them as the Roman antecedents of FDR. I can see that it’s not quite right. The centralization of the government wrought be FDR made it much easier for the oligarchy to impose its will in the past 40 years.

    Phil – the transition to “sustainable” electrical energy is running into the problem of storage, and grid instability which comes with renewals. Gail the Actuary had a post which put the limit at 12-15 % renewables before the problem started to rapidly increase the cost of operating the grid. Storage of electricity at grid scale has been a problem which has not been solvable to date. Read Chris at Fernglade in these posts for the reality of living with sustainable energy.

    I see in my own family’s history the Faustian legacy: we haved moved vast distances in each generation. My father died 9,600 miles from his place of birth, my grandfather 7,800 from his place of birth. I’m only living 600 miles from my birthplace, and I don’t expect a major move in my life again. I do feel a pull back toward the Great Lakes region where I was born, as a place where my children may have a better future. But they’re both grown, and probably wouldn’t follow me anymore.

  88. re: Russian homesteading programs

    It seems that foreigners are allowed to use the land but can’t claim ownership. National program 2.5 acres. Others much more.

    Russian Far East region allocates half million hectares for free land handover program
    Published time: 25 May, 2016 09:40

    Russia extends free land giveaway program beyond Far East
    Published time: 27 Jun, 2018 14:35

    300 Russian ‘Spartans’ get government support in conquering the Far East
    Published time: 10 Jun, 2018 13:24

  89. @ Scotlyn

    Re democracy, etc.

    A good point. As John was pointedly reminding me, a structure is only as strong as the material form which it is constructed. As a systems guy (math geek and engineer, with a dash of humanities thrown in), I have a tendency to look for systemic solutions: thus the premise of my question was focused on the form of governance, conveniently ignoring the fact that whatever the structure of a government, one is still dealing with people in the end. One can have a wise, far-sighted absolute monarch or one can have a foolish absolute monarch just as readily as one can have a wise, far-sighted electorate or a foolish electorate. The structure is less relevant than the character of the people. Of course, the character of the people is a very nebulous thing and difficult to alter.

    There are no easy answers, a truth that I’m still learning to acknowledge. Just like my question last week re the notion that a presidential candidate who actually proposed doing what needs to be done would never get elected, we are caught in a certain tide of events that must to a great degree be ridden out. That is probably the most frustrating thing for one like myself, who wants to get on with building the next things, rather than merely witnessing the decay of all around me. But I was born into autumn, not spring, and must accept this. (Which is ironic, since autumn is my favorite season of the year.)

  90. @Jasper re: the Roman water mill

    Thanks for the link! It is indeed stunning what big projects were completed in the Roman West right until the end. I am most familiar with Trier (Augusta Treverorum), the palace complex of which, complete with marble façades and a giant hypocaustum, was probably finished in 379, just a few years before its fall to barbarian forces. That said, the link you gave states that the Barbegal mill operated from the 1st to 3rd century AD, so it doesn’t fall into the late category.

  91. Certainly the workings of pseudomorphosis is intriguing in light of the play of consciousness in human life. It becomes increasingly clear that yes, we are all dreaming. That is what this life is. This is one reason people tend to care that other people accept their belief systems. Because a certain amount of consensus is needed for people to stay emotionally stable and not freak out. And there is a lot of competition for control of the dream!

    Consciousness comes in layers, and I begin to wonder if there is a top layer? A nondreaming layer? Or would this be just the Unmanifest Being? When we fall asleep at night it is very much like when we are awake in the day, except it is one more level down. We have little control and our dreams are individualized. The waking world is much steadier, and it takes a fair amount of effort to create and alter physical reality, but that is what we all do. The gameboard is quite predictable though, there are laws and rules which certainly don’t apply in our nightly dreams. Nonetheless this waking reality is also quite fluid and nearly impossible to pin down.

    I suspect that when we “die” we enter a reality with different rules and in which our ability to be creative is far more plastic than this one is, and when we die we really wake up to ourselves, very much like when you’re having an intense dream and wake up and you go “Oh! That was a dream. I know who I am now.”

    You die, you awaken, you remember who you are – it is another level up in consciousness and much more of ourselves is available to us, just as when we wake up in the morning and ‘come to’ ourselves. But, I suspect, even then, we are not awake. Just more awake.

    Perhaps to live is to dream, and what is a dream? It is a creative endeavor of reality making. This works when you begin to understand that consciousness is primary and the objective reality is not outside of consciousness, therefore, even though it is so solid and logical and full of lawfulness, it is still a construct of consciousness – a dream.

    And so our waking reality is one in which it takes just enough effort to alter things that we need cooperation and agreements, and people get mad when the props of the dream get changed or other people want to stop a particular dream and start a different one. And pseudomorphsis is when people get dream ideas from prior group dreams. Because we take our dreams seriously! We want them to be plausible. That way we won’t notice that we are dreaming.
    Unfortunately, people often fall into nightmares together and there is a large faction (say, 20%) of Americans right now who are urging us all to go over a cliff together. Why people get sucked into such agreements I still don’t understand. It’s a sickness. The world wars were such occasions.
    That which we call the physical world is our anchor, a kind of default, from which we launch our dream cultures and while we can see that we are occupying the same physical world, groups of people often think other groups are off their rockers because they aren’t dreaming exactly the same dream, and then over time, the dreams change even more, so that if a person were to suddenly find themselves in Atlantis or ancient Egypt, it would probably be very different.

  92. re:India
    stuff to back up Varun

    Yeah, I know – none of my business, nothing I can do about it… In the far future this could be the overwhelming – no option – Empire. Many will be miserable. That’s OK as it is their religion at work. Or is it really an excuse for corruption?

    I like Jayant Bhandari’s view. He feel from his own experience that culture is the problem. Demonetization was accepted without complaint even though it wasted lives and income. Demonetization is just one example.
    Some stuff I read says Modi is not quite bright.
    India is grossly mismanaged.

    The Billionaire Yogi Behind Modi’s Rise

    Modi Ji and the Politics of Hate
    by Faisal Khan

    The Story of India’s Demonetization, by Jayant Bhandari
    29 minutes video.

    India replaced its currency to wipe out illegal money stashes. Now the central bank says it didn’t work.

    If the BJP refuses to allow Kerala to receive foreign help after flooding disaster. They are forced to beg from them. BJP doesn’t like Kerala very much as I recall. They don’t vote correctly.

    India Should Accept Disaster Assistance
    Sep 11, 2018 Shashi Tharoor

  93. the “Yellow Peril” myth assumes that China’s population will grow indefinitely, and will need resources and new jobs to maintain prosperity. In reality, Chinese resource demand will likely plateau and decline as its population does the same. In fact, China’s total population is projected to decrease within 10 years, and fall below 1 billion (from the current 1.4 billion) by 2100, if current trends continue. Consequently, China is already facing a labor shortage, and will inevitably become a net IMPORTER of labor and migrants, rather than a net exporter.

    Current realities on the ground in Russia reflects these trends. The latest academic and census data shows that the total ethnic Chinese population levels in Russia remain stagnant – at about 400-550K. Among them, over half live in the European parts of Russia (where economic opportunities are better). This means that the ethnic Chinese population in the rest of Russia – including Siberia & the Russian Far East (RFE) – is at most 200-300K. This represents less than 5% of the total population in the RFE. If current trends of rapidly rising wages & intensifying labor shortages in China continues, the ethnic Chinese population in Russia will inevitably DECLINE, not increase.

    In short, on the territorial dispute front, Russia & China have reached a point where any attempts to change the existing border have become impossible, regardless of past misgivings and emotional sentiments. Judging by recent bilateral efforts to promote joint development and visa-free tourism, both sides are gradually realizing the irrelevance of past border disputes and are moving on to more productive endeavors.

  94. Very interesting post JMG

    About the ecological destruction of the planet and US policy, as your radar for sure has detected, the language is changing from the denial of the climate change dynamics to the cynical assumptions that it is true, but it does not matter what we do, in any case we are all doomed anyway, so the best thing we can do is to continue the business as usual or even step the accelerator a bit more, why not?

    This is a report made by this US administration about fuel efficiency and climate change and in the page S-15 of the summary they say:

    “* Estimated CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere for 2100 would range from 789.76 parts per
    million (ppm) under Alternative 1 to approximately 789.11 ppm under the No Action Alternative,
    indicating a maximum atmospheric CO2 increase of approximately 0.65 ppm compared to the No
    Action Alternative. Atmospheric CO2 concentration under Alternative 7 would increase by 0.16 ppm
    compared with the No Action Alternative.

    * Global mean surface temperature is projected to increase by approximately 3.48°C (6.27°F) under
    the No Action Alternative by 2100. Implementing the lowest emissions alternative (Alternative 7)
    would increase this projected temperature rise by 0.001°C (0.002°F), while implementing the
    highest emissions alternative (Alternative 1) would increase projected temperature rise by 0.003°C
    (0.005°F). Figure S-5 shows the increase in projected global mean surface temperature under each
    action alternative compared with temperatures under the No Action Alternative.

    * Projected sea-level rise in 2100 ranges from a low of 76.28 centimeters (30.03 inches) under the
    No Action Alternative to a high of 76.34 centimeters (30.06 inches) under Alternative 1. Alternative
    1 would result in an increase in sea level equal to 0.06 centimeter (0.02 inch) by 2100 compared ”

    So in all the scenarios they analyze in 2100 the CO2 concentration will be in the range of twice the actual value (close to 800 ppm), and the best alternative, of course, is “No Action”; the same with temperature, that will reach, for sure almost 3,5 ºC, and a sea level rise of 76 cm (poor Florida)

    I do not like Trump, nor the people in his administration, but at least I recognize they have removed all the hypocrisy from the discourse, and they talk in plain english about their intentions, the recent phrase of Trump about the king of Saudi Arabia that “will last only two weeks without us. They have to pay….” is a very good example; climate change seems to be another good one


  95. Hey jmg
    Since I’m Australian I’m curious about what you think a future Australia that is heavily influenced by China would look like.

  96. Prism
    “Legend has it that the Sleeping Giant is the spirit of Nanabozho, the Great Spirit of Deep Water.”

    Hrmmm, I find that to be a little strange. It is my understanding that Nanabozho is the Anishinaabe tribes Changer/ Cultural hero / Trickster type god. And he is associated with rabbits.

    The only reason I know this is because I took JMG’s advice and started reading up on my local native American myths. For a little while I was experiencing some odd synchronicities associated with the Changer.
    I kept getting visits by a big beautiful dragonfly (Daldal ??) and the day I read about Nanabozho I came across a rabbit coming out of the west. Now, this was I was the first time in years that I actually noticed a rabbit. I have taken it as a sign to keep making the changes in my life that I have been pursing.

    But if there is a place I can make a pilgrimage to and thank Nanabozho in “person” that would be pretty cool.

  97. “James, yes, it’s a different question, and you’re quite correct. Druidry is a religion of the Faustian culture; in its modern form, it’s solidly rooted in Anglo-American culture; and so it inevitably shares in the basic mentality of the Faustian world. One of the common Faustian fantasies is the belief that we can somehow stop being what we are, that we can zoom off so far and so fast that we become members of some other culture…and we can’t. As the old country song has it, “you are what you are and you ain’t what you ain’t.””

    In other words, infinite (spiritual) growth in a finite universe is impossible? 😉

  98. JMG, this is probably the most ambitious, ear-scratching and thought-provoking post you’ve ever written. Can’t wait for the next part!

  99. Yes, but JMG, which country will have MORE influence? Will there be a “praminser” or a “presden”? Westminster parliamentary or presidential system? “Colour” or “color”? 😉

  100. But Isn’t this just a theory into which certain truths have been woven together? Marxism has some truths, but in my opinion Marxism as a truth, in it’s own right, doesn’t stand. Christianity as a religion of Western nations has evolved and it is still evolving.. there is a move back to its Jewish roots.. I see Ideas and spiritual ideals as being the motivating forces and justifications behind empires. And personally I think the next empire will center around Israel. To my mind, there is a reason why America was a backwater before the rise of the petroleum age, why it rose to power with the use of petroleum, and I personally think it will fragment and break apart as a nation and become a backwater again with the end of oil.

  101. I really like how this series of posts has gotten started. There are not too many other sources for thoughtful essays on the intersection of cyclical history, impending collapse of the industrial economy, and spiritual practice, so I’m very grateful you are making it available!

    I am curious how this is going to link up to the 19th century occult prophecy about the rise of a great civilization in North America that you mentioned last week in the open post. I take it that was not a reference to Spengler…can you shed any light on that reference?

  102. BB, thanks for this. Most interesting.

    Kosta, well, you might try reading Spengler’s book!

    Shawn, remember that Spengler is using the term in a specific sense, derived from but not identical to the biological sense.

    SMJ, they’re great cultures of their own, and both of them are in the process of shaking off a Faustian pseudomorphosis. Spengler discusses them both in detail.

    Mac, that’s part of it, but remember that the Faust legend has very different connotations in German culture than in ours, because Goethe’s play Faust takes it in a unique direction.

    Ethan, that’s a question that would require a post, or possibly a series of posts, all to itself. I’ll consider doing that, though it would take a lot of research.

    Jasper, for a good antidote to that kind of thinking, I highly recommend Bryan Ward-Perkins’ first-rate book The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization, which documents — using hard evidence from such things as pottery manufacture and distribution — just how drastic an economic and political implosion the western Empire went through between 400 and 600 CE.

    Packshaud, thank you for this!

    Nestorian, that suggests a fundamentally Apollonian flavor to your kind of Christianity, which is of course not surprising — Christianity emerged in the Greek-speaking Near East, after all. Religions generally adapt fairly well to changes in culture — nearly always, of course, by insisting that the latest innovation is actually a return to the original… 😉

    Dylan, you’re most welcome.

    Prizm, interesting. Thanks for this.

    Jose, that doesn’t surprise me at all. I have no personal experience of the Latin American nations, though, and try to avoid doing the clueless gringo routine…

    Joe, as the center of gravity of the global economy shifts to Asia, it’s not surprising that more petroleum goes there and thus more cars get driven. We’ll see how that holds up when the next price spike hits, though.

    Blue Sun, I decided not to get into Spengler’s distinction between culture and civilization in this week’s post, to dodge some likely communication issues. As for the world’s other great cultures, no, I wasn’t going to get into their rich and intricate history in this set of posts; I want to talk specifically about the two successor cultures that are likely to be spun off by Faustian culture.

    Shane, er, where did I say that? I don’t recall ever doing so. New England has a good shot at maintaining a complex diversified society with urban centers, but so do the Ohio River-Great Lakes basin and the Mississippi valley. If you recall the areas that were organized nations in Star’s Reach, those and the Pacific Northwest (in the novel, “Neeonjin country”) are my best guesses for the regions of the former US that will maintain urban centers.

    Synthase, you’ll find that discussed in great length in Spengler’s book.

    Cassandra, that seems like a sensible theory!

  103. @Prizm I bow to your greater knowledge of Russia’s Far East! I still haven’t made it to VV! Yeah, there are complexities, but my comment was already long enough! The irredentists… The thing is, land – whether squatted or bought legally – can be taken away legally as well, should Moscow get alarmed enough. So long as some token compensation is offered, China (with its own state monopoly on land ownership, and extensive track record of land expropriation over recent decades) wouldnt have any legal or moral grounds for complaint and, in my view, would be unlikely to try.

    @Inohuri Thanks for the links!

    @Spandrell Yes, you’re absolutely right – China’s demographics are peaking, and its supply of workers – and its overall population – are now set for decades of decline, with the consequences that you describe. I found a very interesting article online a few years ago, where the figures showed that China’s Rust Belt provinces – ie the ones bordering Russia – are particularly affected by this, since the young are heading en masse to the warmer southern provinces, where there’s more factory work etc. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find this article again – if anyone can point me to it, I would be grateful!

    Ultimately, I think this discussion of the Sino-Russian border was sparked by contemplation of China’s need for farmland, given how its own fertile land has been built on or poisoned during the recent boom decades. I am still inclined to think that Siberian land (cold, not very fertile) is not a high-value asset in Chinese eyes. They’ve recently been buying up land in Ukraine, which may perhaps be a flashpoint with Russia in the future. However, the most desirable target is Africa, for all the usual reasons. For anyone interested, I strongly recommend China Safari (2009), and especially China’s Second Continent (2014), which gives many vox pop interviews with China’s settlers in Africa.

  104. About the lack of feeling patriotic some people have expressed.

    Recently I had the chance to read Bill Hulet’s (aka the Cloud Walking Owl) book “Walking the Talk”. Bill comments here from time to time. His book, which I reviewed on the new Green Wizards site

    (“Summer Book Review”

    Discusses how the long time feelings of Duty and Faith, which for centuries gave us all that feeling of patriotism, had been supplanted by the feeling of “Do Your Own Thing” after World War 2. We as a culture have lost those feeling that allowed us to do projects that we would not see finished, like the building of Notre-Dame in Paris, or sacrifice for the common good, like Victory Gardens in WW2.

    It doesn’t surprise me that we here in America have lost that feeling.

    Perhaps Bill will talk further on this. His book, which I recommend people pick up and read, goes on to suggest some ways that we can reinvigorate that sense of shared commitment we will so need in the coming collapse that John has written so much about.

    As for some Green Wizard news and information, we are beginning a series of posts to the main page on what I consider the core skill of Green Wizardry, that is “Thinking in Systems”. No adaptation to a World of Scarcity can be considered and implemented without a clear idea on how the system addressed will work and more importantly save resources.

    “An Introduction to “Thinking In Systems” – Part One”

    I will admit I am a handy man and not a scholar, so my back of the envelope scratches can always use the input of those more learned than I. Please feel free to comment where you think I am wrong and of course, when I’m right.

    Also, a big thank you to the more than a dozen people who have recently registered to the new site. I hope over the next year we can grow into a vibrant community looking to get ready for the coming Long Descent.

    For some of you, i have noticed that after registration you haven’t tried your log in. I suspect that the welcoming email the system sent back, notifying you that your new id was active, ended up in your spam folder and you missed it. Please check that and if you can’t now log on, email me and I’ll personally send you a temp password to log in.

    My email is

    green wizard dtrammel at

  105. @Spandrell, just a follow-up:

    Consequently, China is already facing a labor shortage, and will inevitably become a net IMPORTER of labor and migrants, rather than a net exporter

    If current trends of rapidly rising wages & intensifying labor shortages in China continue […]

    I’m not so sure about this. My recent reading suggests that factory wages have peaked. In other words, wages have reached a point where factory owners (both foreign and Chinese) are either relocating to lower-wage countries like Cambodia or investing in automation in the same way as their counterparts in Western countries. Either way, I’m unconvinced that labour demand or wages have much space for further growth in China.

  106. Finding time now to respond to the post and comments more carefully. I’m glad this is going to be a multi-week discussion.

    Spengler uses the term pseudomorphosis to describe two specific cases in which chance caused a culture’s early development to be stifled by a dominant neighbouring power: the Magian and the Russian. It seems useful to apply the idea more generally to any artificial imposition of cultural forms on a politically weaker culture.

    The implication that all cultures may go through multiple pseudomorphoses before AND after their prime life-stage helps provide, indirectly, another set of criteria for specifying what exactly constitutes a Great Culture- at a given point in history, what group of nations is on a sustained upswing of strength, and from what spiritual and bioregional roots does that strength spring?

    I stumbled across a reference recently to Russian philosopher Lev Gumilev’s idea of ‘passionarity’, described as “the process whereby organisms absorb biochemi-
    cal energy from nature.” Cultures (viewed here as super-organisms) that are high in passionarity thrive and are able to out-compete those with lower passionarity, ie. present-day Russia and Europe, respectively. I hadn’t heard of this before, but it fits nicely with Spengler’s sense of high cultures emerging out of the landscape in a way his critics rightly described as mystical.

  107. @Spicehammer: Le Guin’s ‘Always Coming Home’ is one of my favourite books as well. It’s got just enough future-anthropology to make it convincing and just enough utopia to make it compelling. I consider it one of the gold standards for deindustrial fiction.

  108. Archdruid,

    Well, I do hope that the Vedic cultural rebirth manages to resist a second round of Islamic and Sinic expansion, but I have this cold dread that we may not survive the next few rounds of pseudomorphosis.

    Interestingly I can even pin-point at least two specific cultural modes that this renewed vedic culture might adopt, though how they will be adapted is beyond me.

    The first is the recognition by the Indian mystic/story teller class that the former bulkwark of the cultures defenses – the oceans and mountains are no longer as safe as they once were. After the penetration of the latter by the Islamic tides, and the former by the Faustian-Christian expansion there is a grim recognition that perhaps new standards are required.

    The second is that the disunity is both a strength and a weakness. That political disunity allows vedic culture to survive assaults from other religions, like the resistance to Islamic conversion, but that it also allows for easy conquest of the territory. The ongoing conversation seems to be how to balance out the best of both worlds.


    Not sure who Jayant Bhandair is, but I googled him and from what I can tell he seems part of the international investment class? i.e. the people who don’t want localized cultural resurgence because it threatens their position in the hierarchy. Or did I make a mistake about his background? I get his lack of support for Demonetization, the policy doesn’t fit into his perspectives about standard economics. However, I don’t agree with the idea that because a policy he didn’t like was accepted by another portion of the population, that it is somehow because of “bad” cultural norms. Maybe it benefited that other portion of the population in ways Mr Bhandair can’t calculate?

    Here’s a bit of anecdotal evidence. My family is heavily invested in land deals, and the way that was traditionally done was that x percentage would be paid above the table, called white money because it would be taxed, whereas y percentage would be paid as black money to avoid taxes. Ever since demonetization very few people are willing to accept cash payments due to fear of a second round rendering their cash worthless. Has it totally stopped corruption? No, but it has impacted the thought processes behind black and white money.

    Mass culture isn’t always capable of making sound decisions, but I don’t think it went wrong with Modi. The man is considerably smarter than the MSM claims, but not so smart as his most ardent supporters claim.

    Personally there are many aspects of his politics that I support. The unapologetic support for vedic cultural norms, which is described by the political left as “politics of hate.” The overall rejection of the constant interventions by international powers in local politics, the resistance to Christian and Islamic evangelism, the unwillingness to bend over backward to placate the humanitarian crowd with policies that may compromise the national defense.

    Modi is considerably smarter than the MSM give him credit for, but he isn’t perfect by any measure. He’s made more than a few mistakes, including his support for nuclear power and his obsession with economic growth.

    The over focus on a single character in the play misses the story I was trying to tell, which is that Indian culture as a whole seems to be rejecting cultural pillars that were introduced by Abrahamic culture, specifically referring to laws based on Faustian cultural standards. It’s funny that you linked an article by Sashi Tharoor (never mind the article itself), because he recently wrote a scathing history of the British Colonial period. The era in question was traditionally dealt with very softly by Indian scholars, but Tharoor pillars the lies behind the colonial mythology. Tharoor is part of the Congress party, a very pro-western, pro-British, party.
    Here’s a link to the Book for those who aren’t interested in Video –

    Even as a left winger he has come out as HINDU, and he isn’t alone. Multiple personalities, including high ranking members of the communist party, are openly reclaiming their vedici traditions. This includes reading the Ramayana and Mahabharata during festival time, attending temple, and openly participating in Vedic festivals.

    You then have more moderate personalities like Sadhguru openly discussing his perspective on the period of colonization, modernization, and faith.
    (apologies that there is no text version for this video).

    On the right of the spectrum, you have people like Rajiv Malhotra openly challenging the colonial mindset that plagues Indian Academia and Indian academic studies, bureaucracy, and elite culture.

    The times are changing, across the political spectrum.



  109. @Onething

    ¿Qué es la vida? Un frenesí.
    ¿Qué es la vida? Una ilusión,
    una sombra, una ficción,
    y el mayor bien es pequeño:
    que toda la vida es sueño,
    y los sueños, sueños son.

    What is life? A frenzy.
    What is life? An illusion,
    a dream, a fiction,
    and the greatest good is small,
    because all of life is a dream,
    and dreams, are dreams.

    Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1635, by which time it had become clear to some that another empire had started its long decline)

  110. sng,

    I live in Wisconsin and ever since I started practicing earth spirituality from the Druid handbook, I’ve gotten the feeling that I’m standing on a font of staggering power. Pretty much everywhere I go around the Great Lakes region I feel it. I really want to go start up conversations with the local spirit in the pond down the street (if there is one).

  111. Very interesting analysis,

    Couple of thoughts while reading this:

    – Re Boom/Bust – the predatory elements with the boom bust phase are able to make money during both phases. On the upside, they charge fees for ‘services’ for example: managing portfolios, providing advice, facilitating a deal, making and some paper, or paper squared investment ‘tool’ etc. On the downside they reclaim physical assets that then can be kept offline as they position/wait for the market to become favorable to said assets. It’s the average folks either personally, or via pension funds that take the loss.

    Re Peripheral Zones coming the the for-front. There’s the large scale, say US in relation to Mexico but also somewhere like Detroit in relation to New York perhaps?. In my country (NZ), there are ex-coal mining regions that have become no-go areas for the police. There still there, but the Gangs run the town. It’s an official policy for the media to never talk about Gangs on television (same with the very high suicide rate) so most are completely oblivious. You constantly see the whole ‘clean, green NZ’ that sends tourist in there droves (even though most of the rivers are so polluted to be unswimable), but we never the internal decay. Perhaps it can happen on the Macro and micro levels?

    An interesting aside. It’s very fashionable to criticize the US generally, and Trump specifically, but the internal dynamics of our own country are completely ignored. When you point out our deputy PM is essentially Trump on a smaller scale, or that, per capita, the pollution here is worse other countries the equivalent of Dorethy clicking her toes saying ” there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home’ occurs. We’re clean, green NZ!! as if by saying it makes it true. Pure thought stoppers. If you do get engagement, its along the lines of, ‘well, that’s ture, but at least were not the US’ as if it’s a race to the bottom, or that our own failure can be expunged by something that may or may not be even true?

  112. I was thinking today of what characterized the Apollonian culture and its take on some of the issues I mentioned earlier. It seems to me that the Apollonian ideal is perfection of a thing as the sort of thing it is. Thus you get the Apollonian world’s focus on the virtues, rather than abstract rules or utility-maximizing algorithms. I’ve read that ancient Greek actually had a verb for “to live as a human being,” and it was something one could do well or poorly.

    Thus you get the pre-Faustian medieval suspicion about human perfectibility: being fallen, mortal beings, there is only so perfect we could ever be by our own efforts, anyway. Yes, eventually God will take us beyond that, but that will involve a transformation of both body and soul: God has to turn us into something else, something we can’t become by our own effort. In the meantime, the important thing is maintaining a certain minimum standard of behavior so that God will choose you for the transformation.

    Faustian culture is probably the first to conceive of unlimited perfectibility: if the Apollonian ideal is Batman–someone who pushes himself to fully realize his potentials–then the Faustian ideal is Superman–a being with few if any limits. (JMG, this actually ties into issues you’ve talked about, since Batman is a perennial favorite while Superman has had to be periodically depowered, since too much power is boring!)

    One particular point of contrast stands out in my mind: how the cultures responded to homosexuality, specifically when they condemned it (since they haven’t always done so). Apollonian critics of homosexuality (especially Aristotle) saw it as an unnatural appetite, and thus an obstacle to full participation in humanness. Magian critics may call it unnatural, but really they treat as a kind of heresy: a choice to reject the teachings of one’s culture. Faustian criticisms tend to frame as a social evil: it’s a betrayal of the Revolution, or we have to protect the children from predators.

  113. Jim,

    One of the great things about archetypes in Native American legends is that they are very fluid, especially when going from tribe to tribe. That said, there doesn’t seem anything untrickster like with the story of Nanabozho becoming a Sleeping Giant to prevent destructive gathering of a resource. He can, and does, take on many forms.

    A few links if you want to read up on it:

    I’ve actually been pondering yearly pilgrimages there, so it is interesting someone else feels called to do so as well.

  114. Under the Great Tree there are many saplings, limited in reaching their own height by its shade. When the Great Tree begins to die light slips past its grey boughs. Who is the Mother, the first influence it takes after? The Acorn does not fall far. Who is the Father, the second influence to manifest? The bees carry it a distance.

    Is the Acorn alone? No. Can it be foreseen what gap in the canopy will be filled? Maybe. But by which acorn, none can say.

    A culture its own soul, but with the influence of two older souls acting upon it, to grow in their shadow, and if circumstances permit to eventually take their place in the world, or an accessible other place in due time.

    We tend to recognize that which is like ourselves, and it someways I think that many cultures pop out for their Faustianishness, while other cultures are not for being different. But trees mind the affair of trees, and grass grass. So many cultures are their own life though they live with the recurrent shade of a Treeish Culture defining their ecosystem.

    I will say of North America this, that Japan particularly and East Asia generally has made some impressions, but that it doesn’t yet prove to be defining. Contending the Cultural Forms of the Americas are not dead but sleeping. In these harsh places not likely to seed “Great” Cultures I think those seeds are quietly crossing with African inputs too. Very much a melting pot, truly. But an East Asian global empire would define any thing worth colonizing in the 21st century, and not so much areas not worth colonizing.

  115. NomadicBeer, I didn’t get into the ecological dimension because I was writing a blog post rather than a book. Be careful, when trying to predict the shape of post-global warming climate belts, not to fall into the habit of overgeneralization. Will significant parts of the temperate zone face desertification? Sure, but not the whole thing unilaterally. To judge by prehistoric warm periods, the Ohio and Volga river basins are among the places that won’t.

    John, two valid points. Thank you.

    Karim, (1) yes, he did. (2) China and India currently have great cultures of their own, which are very much alive at this point, so it’s unlikely that a new great culture will emerge from either one; a renaissance of their existing great cultures, on the other hand, is quite possible. What makes the borderlands I’m discussing interesting is that you’ve got a thin layer of Faustian culture atop a very different substrate not yet formed into a great culture. (3) By “great culture” I don’t mean global hegemon, I don’t know if you can get a copy of Spengler to read, but it might be worth a try.

    Ryan, we probably do have something like 53 years of oil left, but that’s less comfort than it might be, because of the problem of net energy: basically, how much energy do you have to put into extracting and processing the oil before you can burn it? For obvious reasons, oil companies have focused on extracting the stuff that’s cheap to get and cheap to process, and only then moved on to the more expensive stuff. As the energy cost of extraction and processing goes up, in turn, the less energy you have to power anything else; eventually you reach a point where it takes more energy to extract and process a barrel of oil than you get from burning that barrel of oil.

    Long before then you no longer have an advanced technological society, because the energy surplus you need to support one no longer exists. If you’re burning 93 million barrels of oil a day, and (let’s say) 43 million barrels of oil worth of energy have to go into extracting and processing the oil, for all practical purposes you only have 50 million barrels a day; and when it takes 90 million barrels of oil equivalent to extract those 93 billion barrels… Thus it’s not the absolute amount of oil but the net energy that matters.

    Peter, you’re welcome. I don’t know how many people in the English-speaking world have any idea of the immense impact of Goethe’s writings in 19th and early 20th century German culture; in Spengler’s time to say the name “Faust’ was to call up instantly Goethe’s version of the story, with all its philosophical and aesthetic overtones, about which most people in the English-speaking world know precisely nothing.

    Onething, that’s certainly one way to look at it all.

    Spandrell, of course China’s population isn’t going to keep growing forever. The human population of the planet is way past its long term carrying capacity, and that kind of overshoot always results in steep population contraction. I expect global population to peak around 2030 and decline thereafter.

    DFC, I wish we had something other than a choice between one party that says its going to address climate change and does nothing, and another party that admits it’s going to do nothing and keeps that promise!

    J.L.Mc12, good question. I haven’t researched it.

    Will, I suspect that’s the case!

    Bruno, thank you! That’s high praise.

    Shane, that’s like asking whether the Celts or the Romans had more influence on the culture of medieval England, you know.

    Naomi, what differentiates one theory from another is whether it permits accurate predictions to be made. Spengler’s been hitting ’em out of the park since he first published The Decline of the West in 1918. Has the theory behind your prediction been tested against actual events?

    Samurai_47, all in good time!

    Isabel, hrmph…

    “I am the very model of a maritime barbarian,
    I’ve sailed across more oceans blue than any here-and-thereian…”

    Pogonip, that settles it; Kavanaugh will be confirmed shortly.

    Dylan, good. I hadn’t encountered the concept of “passionarity,” but it fits nicely within an ecological outlook on history.

    Varun, maybe I’m overly sanguine, but I suspect Indian culture has quite a ways yet to run.

  116. ShiZen, fascinating. I get the impression that a lot of countries these days excuse their own dubious habits by saying “Well, at least we’re not the US!”

    James, the Batman-Superman dialectic makes a lot of sense to me — not least because I adored Batman when I was a kid, but always found Superman boring!

    Ray, good. What the next pseudomorphosis for America turns out to be is still very much undecided, in my view.

  117. RE: Russian Far East


    It’s little things like this which makes you wonder were the support was drummed up from. My wife tells me the protests were rather large and ended up having police from the Moscow region trucked in to deal with the protestors because locals would not rough them up enough. Many people in the Far East feel disenfranchised with Moscow, almost as if forgotten. There is ample opportunity that something could happen, although I definitely don’t anticipate it would happen while either Xi or Putin were still in power, nor while both countries are dealing with the US. It would not surprise me to see the area, especially around Vladivostok, decide to try going at it alone after a decade or so, if the economic situation isn’t improved for more people there. When I was there last January, Vladivostok really made me feel like walking through a dystopian city with loads of buildings crumbling while an occasional extremely nice building was present showing the disparity between haves and have nots.

    That being said, it does not mean Russia cannot have a great high culture in the works. But as JMG said, it is more likely to be in the region around the Volga.

  118. @Varun

    Sorry, I misunderstood you point of view. I suppose it would be rude to ask what caste you belong to.

    Jayant Bhandari disliked the inefficiency, harm and lack of result of the demonetization. He prefers order and profit. He feels that the reason why people put up with the nonsense is cultural. I believe he is Libertarian.

    Jayant finds his own cultural indoctrination can hold him back and he has to work at staying efficient. He is from Bhopal and was there on the day of the mass gassing. He heard many sirens and he wondered what it was about as there had been no alarm. It was the politicians and chief bureaucrats getting out of town.

    He notes in many places the culture is holding people back. He thinks that Reason is better. I think that the “West” doesn’t have very much Reason but it does indeed have more.

    The colonies throw the colonialists out and then revert to what they had before which does not include things like medicine and transport. Hospitals fail. Roads degrade. Railroads become dangerous. In areas where Euro farmers had well managed and successful farms there is often failure when their property is given to incompetents. I am strongly in favor or former colonies doing well but I don’t see it much and the reasons often appear to be cultural.

    I read about an old businessman in India. He had kept the photos of British royalty and Raj on his wall because they had treated him far better than their replacements.

    It is interesting that you find it safe to say in public that your family cheated on taxes. Is fraud common there?

    Do you feel it is proper to murder well established members of other religions who are minding their own business? Modi himself was not allowed into the USA for years because of his complicity. Is the abuse of dalits acceptable to you? Both of these seem to be illegal.

  119. One thought I had while reading Spengler’s writings on the Russian culture-to-come was that it might well be a Central Asian, or dare I say, Eurasian, rather than specifically “Russian” culture.

    IIRC Spengler himself remarked that Russian architecture recalled the structure of yurts on the steppe, and that Russian governments called to mind the Mongols and the Tatars. Today, it seems to me that some of the Muslim ethnicities in the Russian sphere of influence have far more vigorous cultures than the Slavic Russians themselves.

    Aleksandr Dugin, whom I almost regard as a more sinister, Russian analogue to you, JMG, has in recent years also tried to reach out to various Muslim communities. I also find interesting his antagonism towards China, which is only dwarfed by his antagonism towards Western liberalism/universalism.

    I have this vague feeling that he prefigures how the upcoming culture will develop. As in, once the Faustian dominion falls, the “Russian” culture might center around Central Asia and see the Chinese as its greatest threat. Curious what you and others think.

  120. Yes, I understood you are talking about a great culture and not about a global hegemon. Although, in my understanding often they go hand in hand, the high culture spawning a regional hegemon.

    The Appollonius culture was also the culture of Rome, the regional hegemon of the day, similarly the Magian cultures encompassed the caliphate, the regional hegemon. And now the dominant faustian culture also hosts the global hegemon (UK and now the US). It seems to me that the dominant high culture is likely to host the regional or global hegemon.

    I am not too sure you would be correct in placing the US outside faustian culture. To my mind US hegemonic power represents the pinnacle of what can be acheived within the Faustian culture.

    I am trying to get spengler book. There are pdf copies available on line. Would you know if they are acceptable or are they just excerpts or abridged versions?

    Many thanks

  121. JMG surely, but a well deserved praise. Do you plan on writing a book like Spengler or Vico sometime in the future, concerning the life cycle of civilizations?

  122. @Darren a Fine contender indeed, specially that part about the Corvins. I’ll say it’s a draw.

  123. JMG
    Very interesting to have a perspective of India (Varun).
    After getting Verardi’s Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism in India I have hazarded the thought for a while that as global industrialization declines we will see a decline in the utility of the ‘open society’ and its large-scale trading in materials, food, goods and services, with the balance tipping in favor of a returning agrarian society. You in America will return to earlier traditional agrarian patterns. North America could become more like the agrarian India that continued over most of the last 2000 years. To borrow Varun’s thought, but invert it somewhat, mountains and oceans will again suffice. There will be barriers. The present humanist culture in America, and its traceable Enlightenment thinking, and some of its more sustainable ‘technic’ capability, will be incorporated as was Buddhism in India, into a different model of society. It does not mean that N. America will be ‘vedic’ but will have a parallel ‘vedic’ structure of villages, stories, religions. A different orthodoxy and a powerful ideology will prevail in the microcosms nested in the larger macrocosm of a restricted world.

    I must admit that I found Verardi’s controversial history of India depressing, depicting the often very violent incorporation of Buddhism’s ‘open society’ into the resurgent – call it ‘hard-nosed’ – agrarian ideology. On the other hand a BBC documentary a few years ago (Michael Palin?) visiting places on the coast of India that the Romans regularly traded with, suggested that even to this day an ancient Roman trader ashore would find most things very familiar. The USA could become a very long term agrarian mosaic: a dominant orthodox culture exhibiting much, fairly surface, internal diversity.

    Phil H

  124. I have this story to share, helpful or not:

    I was in Moscow years ago. I was having lunch in a cafe with my Russian teacher and her friend. Her friend told me we were on one of the hills in Moscow. I teased her a little, “Which way is down?” I asked. I am from the Pacific Northwest and “hill” here has a completely different meaning to me. “Moscow was built on seven hills.” And then I really laughed, because I don’t know how many hills Moscow was built on, but if Rome had been built on eight hills, the Russians would have found another hill. Russians see themselves as the continuation and rightful heirs to the great Byzantine empire.

    Since then I have trouble seeing Russians as anything but just crazy. You might say that I am just blinded by my own culture that I have been immersed in since birth, but I don’t think so; I just can’t see it that way.

    Thanks for interpreting Spengler for me. I find I don’t want to spend the time wading through it myself. I would rather read your interpretation. It’s the value of these interpretations that keeps me coming here.

  125. Not directly related to the borderlands John discusses, but related to the nature of borders and population shifts presaging the change in political, cultural, and human landscape of North America.

    Front page story in my local paper today talks about WI school’s reactions to ICE:

    I don’t know how it comes across in the on-line version, but the print version has several side-bars, including one with information from the American Federation of Teachers outlining what “schools can do to protect undocumented students.”

    I’m sorry — I realize that this is a highly emotional subject; however, this is the open advocacy of defiance of legitimate federal authority. Again, for me, this is about process. Our society is held together by an agreement on the processes by which our differences of opinion are settled. If one has an issue with current policy, then utilize the established processes and mechanisms to alter that policy. Last time I checked, control of the flow of people and goods across the nation’s borders is a duly-authorized federal power. (Per my handy pocket Constitution, this would fall under Article I, Section 8 — the enumerated powers of Congress — specifically, the power of regulating commerce with other nations and the power of establishing uniform rules for naturalization.) These kind of actions only further erode the foundation on which our society rests and moves us in the direction of fragmentation.

    In a related issue, I saw a story recently re the governor of CA arguing that the state would, in his words, “launch its own[dang] satellite” and share the climate data.

    When states begin to act more as independent nations rather than members of a union, you know we are getting fairly far along that path.

    I can only hope we go more the Twlight’s Last Gleaming route and less the Retrotopia route. Please.

    Apologies for grousing. I wish I could be witness to the building up rather than the falling down. Mais, c’est la vie.

  126. @David: That’s an interesting point! It’s not so much a thing I feel, though–I can’t say I don’t fail at times, but in principle I’d certainly be interested in work that would benefit future generations rather than me. For me, though, the theoretical future people I feel good about helping are whoever happens to be in a place or situation where such things are useful. This isn’t by way of setting myself up as some kind of universal-brotherhood-of-Man enlightened being; it’s more that I care about people I personally know and like or people in general, without much in the middle.

    (I was going to say that possibly the traditional identities of country/family/etc. have been replaced by interest-based identities for a lot of people, but frankly I can’t get that excited about “the science fiction community” or “the poly community” or whatever either. I may just be a crank.)

    @JMG: Ha! I love it.

    Robert Mathiesen and I were discussing some of the local-government-corruption stuff that came up on the last post, and ended up quoting from “I Am a Pirate King”. (Sadly, too late for me to post there.) It’s been a G&S couple of weeks, I guess. 🙂

  127. I confess that I am about as skeptical of the civilisation model (whether advocated by Spengler, Danilevsky or, somewhat differently, Braudel) as I am of the progress model (whether we’re talking Hegel or Marx or Fukuyama). Those broad generalisations may have some very interesting and compelling aspects to them, and perhaps one may stumble on quite a few useful truths while pursuing that line of research, but I fear that they have a tendency to either overlook details or contort them to fit their theories, which is a dire sin in a historian (but I am not sure if, say, Spengler is not properly considered as something else – like you said about Jung being more of an occult philosopher than a psychologist, IIRC). Spengler in particular always seemed rather impressionistic and hit-and-miss to me, though perhaps I should try reading him again.

    All that being said I am very curious as to what you think the future has in store for us. And for America as well, I guess. 😛 Being in the Urals I am slightly jealous of it, but I agree that Povolzhye/the Volga region has a great deal of potential for future growth, as well as a good track record that may have been obscured to much of the world by it being in the relative hinterland of a succession of Russian polities. It was the heartland of the Khazar Kaganate and the Golden Horde, back in the day, and has a very (genuinely) diverse heritage. Perhaps the most interesting city there is Kazan, sometimes called the most liberal and cosmopolitan Muslim-majority city in the world. It is famous for its religious tolerance and pluralism; traditions that had somehow survived the 20th century. It is also one of the relatively few Russian cities that could be said to be truly thriving right now, thanks in no small part to its region’s autonomy and an unusally responsible and paternalistic elite.

  128. Fascinating discussion! It’s provoked an idea and two questions…

    The arising of new civilizations at the margins of the old is probably over-determined, but I suspect an important factor is the nature of civilizational reproduction. Spengler’s analogy of a human lifespan is excellent to describe the process of learning, choosing a destiny, working towards it, and stratifying. But as far as reproduction goes, i suspect a better analogy than animal life is the single – cell organism. Sex and reproduction are different things for single cell organisms, they can modify each other’s genetic codes without needing to produce a new generation, and apparently often ‘share’ DNA that helps protect against a local virus. Reproduction is more a matter of eating until they get big enough to divide, but the two ‘new’ cells are genetically identical.

    Cultures similarly ‘share’ their equivalent of DNA, and this would happen most where two cultures border, since at a culture’s center the existing code would be so concentrated that it would just crowd out any new offerings. This could go on long after a culture’s ‘code’ was no longer adaptive to its environment, so it’s much more likely that a new adaptive combination would arise at a border or marginal region where the shuffling is more dynamic.

    Which leads in a roundabout way to my first question. By the above model, the new culture would probably take a lot of underlying structure from the Faustian and Native North American cultures. That seems like a smart match, in part because Faustian culture’s weakness for long-term planning would be tempered by the local culture’s strength for it. On the subject of planning, I noticed that while the ruler’s and the court diviner’s functions used to be quite separate, in our time the people who hold secular power seem to often be the ones who make the best predictions (I was fascinated by the parallels between Fortune’s discussion of the four great seasons and the investment philosophy of hedge fund manager Ray Dalio). I’m not sure if you have any opinions on how those functions might be divided or merged in the new culture, but if you are debating addressing that next week I for one very much hope it makes the cut!

    My second question is simpler but probably off-topic – I apologize and hope you’ll just ignore if you find it inappropriate. I am interested in this question in part because it relates to a fiction project I’ve had two false starts on. I was going to go into more detail about it here, but I’d like to get better at finishing fiction and thought that might be counterproductive, which got me wondering whether you echo the oft heard warning against discussing writing projects before the first draft is completed…

    Thanks, as always, for the forum.

  129. Fair enough, JMG, but Hadrian’s Wall and the Scotland/England border has endured and carried over since ancient times. Do you foresee the same thing w/the Canada/US border and culture in the 26th century?

  130. DFC – Not sure about those numbers, but the various IPCC scenarios vary pretty drasctically, from the low 400s to well over 1000, for CO2 concentrations. I don’t have the time to delve into the NHTSA scenarios right now. The question of whether electing one party or the other will make a difference is more complex. The Ds and Rs are not normal political parties, they really are ballot lines. Since a party in the US structure has no way to filter candidates on their line like parties normally do, even if they wanted to, it is very difficult to adopt a coherent ideology on anything, though a powerful president can sometimes do so on his party. But if the president is not from your party, then there really is now way to do so. And even if a party was all in to do something – gets elected, that doesn’t mean it will happen. Maybe because they didn’t want to, or maybe because they couldn’t.

  131. Since our political discourse has become such a hateful cacophony, I am not following the blow by blows of Kavanaugh at all, so here I come across a 7 minute speech that actually says something important. Now I am very wary of Kavanaugh, whereas the more emotional rape allegations they piled on him from decades ago, the more I hoped he’d get in.

    The left has definitely gotten to the point of shooting themselves in the foot with the endless nonsense, but as the below guy says at the end, protection of 4th and 5th amendment rights is not something either side cares about, so its not even news.

  132. I know it’s very OT, but I’d love to see your dissection of the spell Pogonip posted a link to, and what about it, besides the fact that it sounds quite unethical, makes it now certain that Kavanaugh will be confirmed?

    (In this morning’s news from the ACLU – “the Senate just voted 51-49 to advance Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to a final vote. …Senators who voted to advance the nomination could still vote NO in the end* – which could come as soon as tomorrow, Saturday.”)

    *Fat chance. So your prediction is certainly coming true.

  133. Alvin, the Russian great culture of the future certainly isn’t going to be European in the modern sense of the word, since European = Faustian! You could say Central Asian or Eurasian, if you like, but one of the things to keep in mind about great cultures is that they all involve something genuinely new: a distinct, unique, and irreducible way of being human. Faustian and Magian cultures weren’t simply follow-ons from the Apollonian culture, even though they both borrowed things from the pseudomorphosis; in the same way, while Russia’s future great culture will retain elements from its Magian and Faustian pseudomorphoses, it’s going to be something that can’t be reduced to existing labels such as “European” or “Eurasian.”

    Karim, my working guess is that in the post-petroleum future, we’re going to go back to having regional hegemonies rather than global ones for at least a few millennia. That being the case, it’s quite possible that both the Russian and the American high cultures of the future will produce regional hegemons, while south and east Asia go their own way. Over the longer term, I’d look to the Mekong and Irrawaddy river basins as likely places for a new high culture to arise, and also possibly the east coast of Australia after it’s spent a few centuries under Chinese cultural (and possibly political) dominance, but both of those are speculative — I haven’t done the in-depth research yet. As for PDFs of Spengler, you can get the complete edition here.

    Bruno, possibly, but we’ll see.

    Phil, possibly. I’ll have some suggestions to offer two weeks from now.

    Jeff, that’s because your thinking is shaped by the first stirrings of one great culture and Russia is very powerfully shaped just now by the rising thought-world of a very different great culture. As Spengler points out, it’s very, very hard to communicate well across those boundaries!

    David, none of that surprises me. The education industry has always been one of the bulwarks of middle class dominance over American culture, and so it’s reacting frantically to the loss of that dominance. It’ll be interesting to see just how that works out; radical shifts in the nature of schooling here in the US are already on their way, and the political divide may amplify that.

    Isabel, Gilbert and Sullivan offer some very tempting metaphors for the current political mess. I’m trying to figure out right now which operetta fits best!

    Daniil, every theory is a drastic oversimplification of the whirling confusion of actual events; the sole excuse for any of them is that they allow human beings, who after all aren’t very smart, to make a little more sense of the world. Of course the civilizational model has its problems, but it yields accurate predictions — it’s a source of quite some amusement to me that Donald Trump’s rise and the flailings of his opponents are so precisely predicted in the latter chapters of Spengler’s second volume. As for Povolzhye, exactly — and I’d also watch the Ob-Irtysh basin as climate change warms the Kara Sea; the interactions between the peoples of the Volga and Ob-Irtysh watersheds, with the Urals mediating between them, will likely have a major stimulative effect on the Russian great culture to come.

  134. Great post Ian.

    I concur with you in your thesis that the both America and Russia will see the emergence of future high cultures in the centuries to come.

    I also note with interest your forecast that global population will peak around 2030 which fits with the limit to growth business-as-usual forecast back in the early 1970’s. The economic collapse, starting from early 2020, will likely occur as well but in the third world economies and steadily spread from the economic periphery to the core of our industrial civilization by the 2030’s and 2040’s.

    My understanding is that you think that China will replace America as the dominant great power in the world at some point in the next decade. Taking into consideration the 1) end of economic growth within 15 years or so (2) the end of American empire (3) the rise of the China-Russia axis with China the big shot, how will capitalism adapt and survive to this world of Chinese dominance, the end of growth and the era of economic contraction.

    Our bond and stock markets are based on the premise of economic growth. Would anybody hold Italian sovereign debt if they calculated economic contraction in the Italian economy over the next 30 years? I doubt it!

    My guess is that we will adapt to a China led world order where the state will guide economies, the so-called “free market” will be partially abolished, and companies, if they survive, will shrink in number. I would also expect to see a rising tide of “black market” economies, in the growing band of areas around the world have have “failed states” operating on the periphery of a China-centric economic order.

    Do you have any thoughts on how this post-growth China-centric world will work in terms of capital markets, globalisation and the existing order monetary and economic order.

  135. Hi!

    Yes I would agree that global hegemons would be replaced with regional ones. Thanks for the link but it’s broken!

  136. Karim Jaufeerally: The online version of Spengler here is an earlier printing of the edition I have reading. I’m on page 394 of the printed version of Volume 1, and the online version is the same.

  137. This comment is off topic, but it may be of interest to some people here, and it’s time-sensitive. There’s a Kickstarter funding campaign underway for sunglasses designed to blank out the images from most television screens. I recall several regular correspondents here mentioning how screens in public places have become a significant and increasing cause of discomfort for themselves and/or their loved ones.

    I have no connection to the project. I’m not even backing this one myself, because I don’t need the item. But I’m an experienced Kickstarter backer and have a pretty good track record telling sound feasible projects from impractical pipe dreams and deliberate scams. I don’t see any red flags on this one, although I doubt they’ll be able to improve the current prototype designs to also work on additional types of screens, as they imply they’re hoping to do. (Further caveats: The price might be a little high for such a “low fashion” design. And my track record notwithstanding, all Kickstarter projects are a risk. There’s no firm guarantee you’ll get what you expected, or anything, for your money.)

    How the screen-blocking sunglasses work is that the lenses are made of ordinary polarizing sunglass material, but set into the frames at a different angle than usual so as to block all the light, which is also polarized, that emanates from LED and LCD screens. (You could do this with regular polarizing sunglasses instead, but you’d have to keep your head tilted 45 degrees to the side all the time.)

  138. Re. The core narrative of Faustian civilization being “infinite expansion”. Could you sum up the core narratives of the Apollonian and Magian civilizations just as sharply and to the point? It would be amusing to compare them.

  139. @ JMG This topic is dense enough to inspire at least two questions:

    1 – You pointed out that Greek and Roman engineers developed both a steam engine and gear train (the first I knew about, the second i did not). Similarly, the Mayans used wheels on children’s toys but never applied them to anything larger. This got me thinking; could something similar have happened in Western industrial history? Could you see a scenario unfolding in which Western technological progress stops with the steam engine? Might the diesel engine have been looked at as an oddity, with rock oil used only for machine lubricants, heating and lighting?

    2 – What do you think are the chances of North America producing multiple great cultures after the coming dark age? You mentioned that you thought some spots of Latin America might produce great cultures of their own. I’m guessing the short list includes the central Mexican plateau, the Andes and maybe the Rio Plata valley? (Granted the Andes and Rio Plata are a bit outside of North America)

  140. @ Onething – Re Kavanaugh – Can’t the problem be both? Can’t he be disqualified because he a – does’t care for the 4th and 5th Amendments and b – has shown a, um, problematic, approach to both women in his personal life and women’s health as a legal issue?

  141. “ShiZen, fascinating. I get the impression that a lot of countries these days excuse their own dubious habits by saying “Well, at least we’re not the US!””

    *Cough* Canada *endcough*

  142. @ Dean Myerson

    Well I think the NHTSA repport is pure bu**hit, but as they would say “it is our (the US government) bu**hit”, for example the assumption that with 800 ppm CO2 and +3,5 ºC the sea level will only increase 76cm…last time this happens there were no ice sheet in Greenland and the sea level was some METERS higer than now (not centi-meters higher), I suppose this was “fine-tuned” to avoid a Florida panic…or well OK, yeah, in 80 years all of us will be dead anyway so what’s the problem? Carpe Diem

    The point I arised is not if the predictions are OK or not or f they fit or not with those of the IPCC (all the models are “wrong” in longterm), the point is that in their “fact based policy” they presume to have, their models unequivocally say the relationship between CO2 emmicions (= fossil fuel consumption = way of life) and climate change is real and it will have devastating consequences for all of us, which is, in my point of view, a sea change compare to the past plain denial of the whole “narrative” or “legend” of human caused climate change and the future consequences for the human beings (some of them joked about the “global cooling” and “next ice age”)

    Here in Europe we have some pseudomorphosis also from the US (not exactly in the spenglerian terms), for example we have a recent trend in the SUV-ification of the car market, and the recent regulation of the UE lowering the levels of CO2 emmisions of the cars are, at the end, a way to remove heavy cars from the roads because the efficiency gains and the cheat and lies in the test (like VW did) are subject to the diminishing return law. I know this is only peanuts compare with what we should do, but the opposite way to act for me is almost obscene


  143. JMG: “once a great culture goes through its normal life cycle and settles into stasis, it can endure for a very long time; its basic cultural, political, and religious forms remain unchanged, though empires rise and fall”.

    One question here. If the cycle finishes when the culture settles into stasis, does that mean there is no need for it to collapse? Or collapse is part of the normal life cycle and it’s after this that the culture in question really settles into stasis?

    As far as I know, even cultures that lasted for millennia suffered a Decline and Fall of some magnitude at some point in time – even if only to resurrect later in a slightly modified version (think of China after the Han and the Tang, Egypt during its several Intermediate Periods, or India during late Gupta period).

    By the way, I’m thrilled at the prospect of a book on the life cycle of civilizations written by JMG.

  144. Hi JMG

    I’m awful excited that you have circled back round to Spengler again. I have read the abridged Decline of the West and this may be the needed excuse to plough into my full length copy.

    With regards to where you have updated Spengler’s view on the origins of Magian culture, do you mean to say he didn’t agree that it’s roots were in the earlier Mesopotamian culture(s), but emerged later on their own under the “hard sheet of Roman imperum”. Whereas you view the early origins as being precisely in the great cultures of Mesopotamia, with the Roman age being a second pseudomorphosis, which as Spengler describes sparked the Magian’s world’s assertion of it’s own nature? Am I understanding that right?

    The second Faustian pseudomorphosis is fascinating territory in all sorts of ways. i remember you spoke previously about Europe’s high medieval culture being a pale reflection of the age of reason in the Magian/muslim world. As you say, that history is impolite to point out for many, and it makes me think right now of the deep rhetorical tension around the issue of islamic influence in Europe today. When I listen to someone like Douglas Murray, for instance, who attempts, I think sometimes effectively, to bring a degree of thoughtfullness and moderation to the hugely polarised debate around immigration in Europe, I see how he loses that thoughtfullness and moderation with the subject of Islamic and European history. All sorts of lacuna in historical understanding appear, and you get the straightforward sneering Western Civilization = Universal Progress story, with a snort of derision at the idea we could have learned anything of value from the Islamic Golden Age. The same goes of course for the louder voices in that debate like Christopher Hitchens, Milo Yiannopoulis, Dawkins…

    If they really want to save Western intellectual culture and traditions I can’t help but feel they could do with a dose of this kind of nuanced perspective on its provenance.



  145. If anyone here was in doubt of the rot at the center of the US higher education industry, the recent news about what so-called ‘Grievance Studies’ should put that to rest.

    Three well-regarded academic researchers submitted fake papers to a variety of peer-reviewed journals and plenty of them were accepted for publication. One of the research papers was actually a re-write of a chapter from “Mein Kampf” expressed in the trendy language of ‘intersectionality’, whatever the heck that is; another was an examination of dogs humping each other at dog parks as an expression of ‘queer performativity’ and ‘feminist geography’, whatever they are.

    Now the researchers have made public the reviewers’ comments on these papers, which, per Rod Dreher, make for fantastic reading. Yes, it’s all good for a laugh, but it’s kind of frightening that this passes for higher education these days.

    Surely the end of days is upon us.

  146. Ryan, if you want to show me where
    I said Oswald Spengler is a fount of all knowledge, I’ll take the rest of your comment seriously.

    Here you go:

    “My primary guide in that exploration, as regular readers of my blogs will have guessed already, is the redoubtable Oswald Spengler: historian, polymath, and professional thorn in the side of the comfortable certainties of his era and ours, whose major work The Decline of the West has yielded one accurate prediction after another while the sunnier or more apocalyptic futures predicted by his critics have all proved as evanescent as moonbeams. ”

    Sounds pretty much like hagiography to me.

  147. Inohuri,

    Order and profit? Who gives the orders and who profits? Mr. Bhandair seems to have a particular set of values that he finds worthy of pursuit, and believes that these values should also be the values of India. He found that his cultural upbringing, or indoctrination, were preventing him from reaching the goals upheld by his value. So he turned to reason, or Aristotelian Logic, as a means of breaking his indoctrination, and then indoctrinating himself into a different cultural model – namely that of Faustian culture.

    Indian culture has used that logic for millennia to pursue the goals that Mr. Bhandari feels were holding him back. In Indian tradition what you call Reasoning is called Pramana, and it was used to pursue values that the culture found worthy. The mindless pursuit of profit was certainly not among the values considered worthy, and while I understand that Mr. Bhandari finds that a worthy pursuit, he is out of luck if the culture decides to turn in another direction. If he believes that culture “holds people back” then he needs to justify that his values (profit and order) are somehow more important than the values held by other people.

    India, before colonization, accounted for something like 25% of the worlds GDP, after colonization it accounted for something like .001% of GDP, in the 71 years since independence it now ranks as the 7th largest economy on the planet. India had an illiteracy rate of 93% at the end of colonial era, this was by design of the British Raj, it’s currently literacy rate is 75% and climbing. In nearly every index, from agricultural self-sufficiency to military capacity, India was left at the bottom, and now ranks among the top 15-20.

    That Old businessman you mentioned? He was among the slim minority who profited during the time of the Raj, the vast majority of people were trapped in poverty and illiteracy. He misses the days where he had it easy, where things were managed so that he could profit over others.

    Look, I’m not going to dignify that question about supporting murder with a defensive statement. If you think I’m the kind of person that approves of murder and oppression of whole groups of people based on ethnic, religious, or other grounds, then please simply stop talking to me. I have no desire to engage someone who believes me to be some kind of criminal.

    Modi was not allowed into the US because several groups, supported by his political opposition, lobbied to prevent his entrance into the US. So what? Because the US government declares a person unwelcome in the country, that’s somehow proof of guilt?

    Does the fact that the Indian Supreme Court launched a multi-year investigation into his activity and found no culpability in the riots count for anything? Or how about the fact that Gujarat, the state he governed, became one of the most orderly, economically prosperous, and least corrupt after the riots? Or how about that the Muslim population of that state voted for him by fairly significant margins during his multiple terms as Chief Minister?

    I’m not sure about your background, but it really seems like to have a very shallow understanding of the Indian politics and society. I would like to point out that many of the articles you linked were published by companies that are strongly opposed to nationalism, because nationalism is a challenge to the dominant global hierarchy. Modi is a nationalist, he is not perfect, but better our imperfect nationalist than a perfect puppet that works for your governments.



  148. Archdruid,

    Yeah, you’re probably right. I’m waayyy over indulging in the whole Hinduism under siege nonsense.



  149. Well, you certainly know how to keep the audience in suspense. Thanks for writing on these themes. I have gotten a lot out of your essays on cyclical history and really appreciate what you have done to keep Spengler in the conversation.

    In thinking about a truly land-based spirituality in the far North American future, how much do you think there is to be learned from historical cultures such as the mound builders?

  150. I’m reading the spell found on the link Pogonip posted, and wow it seems likely to blow up in their faces. The whole “all women harmed by men” thing, if cast by a male, seems very likely to blow up catastrophically, as no male can truthfully say he’s never harmed a woman.

    This is above and beyond the usual risks of retributive justice spells….

  151. What you are saying about our Faustian culture is especially interesting to me, and I’ll have to seek Spengler in my next book order (which will unfortunately be mostly from Amazon, as they are the often only ones who accept the one credit card, American Express, that Japan would issue me without onerous conditions).
    I’m in the middle of translating a historical account from English into Japanese regarding the exuberant adoption by our culture of electricity–truly Faustian in both senses. We are in an era when that, along with other Faustian bargains we’ve made along the way are hitting their due date, with efforts being made to postpone that or better yet, evade it altogether, by throwing the notices in the trash the minute they arrive. And through my brain fog, that prevents me from participating here as much as I would like, and may eventually force me to live in an unpowered hut (don’t worry, I’ll enjoy it), I find this all very very interesting.
    Let me quote here a bit from Arthur Firstenberg’s “The Invisible Rainbow,” Ch. 3 Electrical Sensitivity (and forgive my uncommon devotion to the topic):
    “Like other prophets who have shouted warnings instead of praise for new technologies, Morin was not the most popular scientist of his time. I have even seen him condemned by one modern historian as a ‘pompous critic,’ a ‘gladiator’ who ‘rose against’ the electrical visionary Nollet. But the differences between the two men were in their theories and conclusions, not their facts. The side effects of electricity were known to everyone, and continued to be so until the dawn of the twentieth century.”

  152. JMG;

    Thanks so much for this! I think I learn way more from you than from watching the news (which I have done far less of this year than previously) or reports from the so-called experts. I also find many of the comments helpful also, so a hat tip to everyone!

    After reading the link that Pogonip supplied ( ) I wondered if the Evangelical Christians were aware of this binding spell on Kavanaugh. Having been an Evangelical a number of years ago, I know pretty much what their reaction would be: Spiritual attack! Demonic evil against the forces of good!

    I can see how this could bring all sorts of grief on the pagan community, whether they agree with Michael Hughes or not. Most Christians of this flavor believe that witches and pagans are all super-lefties.

    John, do you think its possible that this might splash back on the pagan community? Have you ever experienced any type of prejudice or push back because of your Druid beliefs? Any run-ins with Fundamentalists of any religion?

    Joy Marie

  153. Christopher, (1) I’ll be discussing that in some detail in the next post in this sequence, two weeks from now. (2) Very much so — the more you talk about a writing project, the more of the energy driving it drains away. The old magical rule — “to know, to will, to dare, and to be silent” — applies to writing as well!

    Shane, nope. I expect it to be more like the border between Gallia Aquitania and Gallia Lugdunensis.

    Patricia M., I’ll probably post something about that to my Dreamwidth journal in a day or two, when I have time to study the thing. The short form is that Hughes’ spells have had pretty consistent blowback — the month after he hexed the NRA was their most successful fundraising month in years, his attempted binding on Trump has done a great job of unbinding Trump, and so on — so my working assumption is that this spell will work (or more precisely not work) the same way, and guarantee Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

    Forecastingintelligence, that seems sensible to me. As “free” market capitalism breaks down in a postgrowth era, command economies will be the logical fallback — both China and Russia already have hybrid state-capitalist economies, and as China extracts itself from the economic crisis its last few decades have guaranteed it, it’ll move further into a command economy direction. Markets will doubtless continue to function, but they’ll be manipulated more and more openly to produce the results governments desire, and a growing fraction of real economic activity will go off-book or be reduced to subsistence activities and local exchanges detached from market forces.

    Karim, I’ve fixed it — try this one if that doesn’t work.

    Peter, hmm! I could see Iolanthe in general as a good choice. Lord Tolloller and Lord Mountararat would fit nicely into Congress: “This is what it is to have two capacities! Let us be thankful that we are persons of no capacity whatever.”

    Walt, I may just have to support that Kickstarter. What an elegant little invention!

    Sven, hmm. I’ll have to reread Spengler again, because that’s where I got the characterization of Faustian culture.

    Ben, (1) that seems unlikely, given the hardwired biases and obsessions of Faustian culture, but I suppose it would be possible. (2) Those were in fact the areas I had in mind — the Pacific Northwest is another, and the Arctic coast yet another once global warming finishes making the area temperate.

    Will, why, yes, among many others!

    Oriol, exactly. Normally a great culture finishes the creative phase of its life cycle, goes in for empire, undergoes a collapse of some kind as the empire does what empires do — that is to say, falls — and then, unless some other great culture moves into the area and supplants it, it settles down to a long and relatively stable period of doing what it knows how to do. China kept that up for millennia, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if by 2200 or so they’re back to an imperial bureaucracy selected by examinations in the Confucian classics, and the rest of it.

    Jim, yeah, I saw that. I expect Kavanaugh to be confirmed promptly.

    Morfran, yes and yes.

    Beekeeper, yes, I saw that! Not the end of days, but very possibly the end of the academic industry as presently constituted.

    Ryan, in that case I recommend you take some basic classes on reading comprehension. Praising a writer for making accurate predictions is hardly hagiography.

    Varun, of course Hinduism is under siege. That’s normally what it takes to galvanize a mature great culture into renewed vitality. Right now India’s basically Bhima playing cook at the kingdom of Virata; I don’t imagine it’ll be that long before it puts aside the ladle, picks up a mace and starts breaking heads.

    Samurai_47, quite a bit; I’ll be talking about that as we proceed.

    Bogatyr, yes, I saw that too. Welcome to the new reality.

    Will, yes, among other things. This will not end well.

    Patricia O., interesting. I’ll want to read that one of these days.

  154. Joy Marie, that’s one of the serious problems Hughes’ working faces. Another is that the chaos mages of the alt-Right are going to eat this up for breakfast (probably already have done so). There are any number of ways a competent mage could cast a spell to interfere with what Hughes and his followers are doing, and mess him over thoroughly.

    Is this going to affect Paganism? Yes. I’ll probably be doing a post on that in the near future. As for me personally, it’s been a long time since I’ve been harassed by any kind of fundamentalist but the Pagan variety; most of the Christians I encounter these days, even fairly conservative ones, are polite, and though they disagree as much with me as I do with them about theological issues, we’ve been able to have constructive conversations. I think that there are enough Druids and Heathens, specifically, who aren’t on the far left that it’s begun to sink in among conservatives; by and large, after all, the right looks for allies while the left is hunting for heretics.

  155. @Varun

    Did you watch the video? It doesn’t say anything about mindless profit. This is about ordinary people trying to survive.

    If the majority of cash money is suddenly and without warning made illegal for spending but exchangeable for new cash money that is in very scarce supply the economy fails. Businesses can’t pay their workers or buy supplies. People can’t pay rent or buy groceries. Farmers can’t sell their produce.

    There have been many problems with people now required to use electronic terminals. In some cases there are no terminals within a reasonable distance. In others they can’t get them to work as they should and there is nothing they can do about it so their tiny pension is gone.

    Somewhat disrelated in Africa some genius (not) politicians have started to tax cell phone money transfers at ten or 15 per cent.

    Basic economics includes the velocity of money. If there is reduced money turnover or there is heavy friction on that turnover or insufficient cash in a cash society a depression would be expected.

    Nicole Foss has said that in the 1930s Depression people had everything but money. Without money they couldn’t get local economies restarted. The rich had money but didn’t spend much and would not risk investment.

    I didn’t accuse you of supporting murder, I asked if you feel it is proper.

  156. I perused a couple of liberal blogs. Amidst the hysterics they are STILL talking about the blue wave that they have most likely killed over the last week or so. No matter how many times they are shown otherwise, they still can’t grasp that “female” does not mean “feminist.” Many women watched the fiasco thinking “That could be MY husband/brother/father.” Or, worst of all, “…my son.”

    I’m not thrilled with Kavanaugh, but that’s how I felt, too.

  157. JMG, thanks for that. On a side note, when I re-read my comments on your blogs they often seem a lot of verbiage around a tiny mote of substance. I think it’s partly self-consciousness makes me write like that, plus my grasp of the topic lagging somewhat behind my interest in it. I usually only want to contribute to discussions if I’ve absorbed the subject deeply, and with material like this I always feel behind-hand. Oh for an extra 4 hours each day for study….


  158. Hi John Michael,

    Planning is a dirty word – because it requires a person to assess the future and then limit themselves to certain choices of action. Now of course in the real world, I’ve been accused by plenty of people about not being spontaneous enough. As a general rule I feel that the word spontaneous can be defined as including not being able to plan. Of course, and I’m curious about your opinion, but I reckon what that actually means is that they’re not happy that I refuse to join in with their collective choices. It is actually an affront to some people – if only because they feel comfortable with the whole ‘safety in numbers’ shtick.

    I’m going to begin reading the comments now and I really hope that nobody makes the claim that solar panels are so cheap these days. Of course, like all good stories, that one has a grain of truth because historically speaking they are cheap. I should know, they’re now less than a third of what I originally paid for the first couple of solar panels that I installed. They make no economic sense whatsoever, but are quite good for the planet – relatively speaking. Of course the obvious reply becomes: So what are you planning to do with that fancy and cheap solar panel? I suspect that many peoples thoughts have not progressed (hope you like my word play 🙂 ) quite that far.

    Incidentally, did you notice: Australia urged to back US Navy in ‘show of force’ against China. There was apparently a recent incident involving China’s navy in the South China Sea and USS Decatur. And we’re being told to lift our game. Oh well.



  159. JMG –

    ” yes, I saw that! Not the end of days, but very possibly the end of the academic industry as presently constituted.”

    Well, as my mother used to say, “From your lips to God’s ears.”

  160. Cant help but think that the American and Russian pups will have a strongly Germanic flavour. I am thinking this will be because of the heavy military engagements of both which resulted in the deaths of millions on both sides. Blood sacrifice would have no doubt seeped into the collective soul of both Russia and America, to the victor go the spoils, and the US has many peoples of Germanic descent along with those who it paperclipped at end of ww2. The US military are running around in helmets that look a lot like the Nazi ones from ww2,and they have similar modus operandi. Ohio is quite snakey and German, and Catherine the Great first imported Germans to the Volga region centuries before ww2.

    Interesting you mentioned West Africa, a lot of German in there too. Aside from that , the recent smash hit movie “Black Panther” was an imagining of the reemergence of a high tech hidden city in Africa which must rise up to defend its primacy and unity in the face of an existential threat, with huge cross over to current US Faustian culture. Some sort of upswell in the African soul there maybe. Or it could have been just an exercise in identity politics, in whch case we all got sold a Pup by mephistopheles.

  161. @petervanerp
    Re: online translation

    Thank you. I’m not sure how much of this I’m going to even read, let alone study, but having it is going to be a lot better than not.

    @Beekeeper in Vermont
    Re: Sokol affair reprise

    Back in the day, there was a quip that said any field with the word science in the title, wasn’t. Today, it’s a pretty decent guarantee that if a field has the word studies in the title, it’s intellectually vacuous.

    I’ve seen comments about this reprise of the Sokol affair as akin to shooting fish in a barrel. That stunt is going to have no effect whatsoever, other than a round of self-congratulation among a certain narrow slice of the intelligentsia.

  162. Ben Johnson,

    Re Kavanaugh, sure, the problem could be both. It’s just that I am too jaded at this point to listen to any more me too stuff. I think it and most of today’s feminism is overblown, narcissistic and worst of all, is entering a very slippery slope in which they dispense with little things like due process. I find it way too suspicious and convenient when people come out of the woodwork and suddenly find the courage to come forward just at the right political moment.

    And so as I said, I have not analyzed or paid attention to this particular storm, and have no opinion as to its particular validity or lack thereof.

  163. Apologies if you already answered these questions – I haven´t read the bulk of your thread. Do you have any ideas about how the new Russian culture will look like? Also, why Russia and America rather than, say China? Will China become the new great power and then go back to its Sinic roots once the Western pseudomorphosis goes down the drain? Is that why it wont be the “new borderland” with a new culture? Also, what role will Islam play in all this?

  164. Varun,

    I appreciate your inputs. I am fascinated by India and find Hinduism the most truthful of the religions. There have been a few issues in Indian culture that I find harsh, and all such problems need improvement, but what we have now in the west is that we are softies who don’t see the hard underbelly of our own soft systems, which are removed out of sight. This gives a platform from which to judge others.

  165. Not to go too far off-topic but re Kavanaugh

    I don’t spend too much time on PolticalWire nowadays, but I was admittedly curious given that this particular drama is starting to wrap up. The PW post discussing the fact that the Republicans have (more or less) secured 51 votes for nomination had upwards of 900 comments already this morning. I glanced through the top layer and, aside from the flying spittle one would expect, I saw several discussions of how those 51 votes only represent some 20% of the population. And I thought to myself, “You really don’t understand how the Constitution works, do you?”

    I’ve also learned that statements of “We are not a democracy” from that corner of the political world generally mean “I’m not getting what I want.”

    It is time to move on from this, which has already sucked up too much energy. There’s a decline we’ve got to navigate here and none of this is useful n that regard. (I realize that I keep bouncing back and forth between acceptance and resistance — I am honestly working on that. Intellectually, I understand where we are and what we need to do; emotionally, it is a different story.)

  166. Re: magical workings against Kavanaugh (which clearly did not work)

    On another website I commented that I had never given much thought to Senator Lindsey Graham – he’s not my senator, I’ve never even been to South Carolina, and so on – but that I thought his comment to anti-Kavanaugh protestors about dunking Brett Kavanaugh in the river to see if he floats was just magnificent.

    Later, another person on that site responded to my comment saying, “The left are in full outrage over the dunking comment because it refers to witches who were of course (in the left’s telling) poor, misunderstood, marginalized women who were oppressed by the evil Patriarchy”.

    This sounds to me like the intersectionality of ‘Grievance Studies’ and utter idiocy, unless, of course, they’re actually the same thing.

  167. Hi John, that sounds very plausible to me.

    I’m enjoying the Brexit negotiations right now and the renewed optimism of a deal. There is one problem, the DUP will have none of it!

    Any kind of compromise, whereby northern Ireland complies with single market regulations and the rest of the UK doesn’t, post Brexit, creates a de facto border between northern Ireland and the UK mainland which is unacceptable to the DUP who are staunch unionists.

    I’m looking forward to watching the fireworks when the DUP veto the latest compromise being cooked up within 10 Downing Street, assuming the hard-line French don’t get there first!

  168. On Kavanaugh: If I were a judge in a Scots criminal court, I’d certainly enter a verdict of “not proven” on the charges against him.

    On the other hand, I’m quite distressed by the chorus of backlash ranging from “How dare she (often with sex-oriented pejoratives added) hurt the career/reputation of a fine upstanding prominent etc man?” to “I’m sick and tired of all these whining women….” to “feminists… a bunch of rabid lefties…” etc.

    This is a classic no-win situation for all concerned.

  169. I have no idea why, but I feel compelled to defend Christianity somehow. I feel like it’s under siege, with all the other cultures against it and even its own homelands against it. I like Christianity, as my moniker maybe attests, though like most people I’m unhappy about the bad things done in its name. But it’s my heritage! It’s not that I really believe, though I’ve tried to. But I find it fascinating how important a presence it still is today in the West. Not that it’s actively believed in much, but it’s fundamentally Christianity that the whole left/progressive/elite etc wing of society is fighting against, against its patriarchal, repressive etc tendencies. Even our host here says things like ‘maybe the Christian God is dead’, while boosting a kaleidoscope of other gods. The reality is that there seem to be few more hated figures than the Christian God.

    It’s strange reading the lives of the saints and then contrasting that to all the mob violence, persecutions, etc, that Christianity was part of. But at the same time Muslims and Hindus and so on also have done a great deal of violence, sometimes explicitly for the religion, sometimes just as a tribal-type marker. So I don’t think Christianity is particularly bad here. And often the violence was against other Christians.

    But anyway, I think the real future of the Western Christian tradition is as a historical study. In the same way as the pagan classics were preserved and Renaissance painters painted Apollo & Venus without believing in them, I think the future of the Christian classics for the West is as something we can admire from the past, and can inspire us in certain ways, but without believing in them (literally). I think it’s time for people to put away the swords and stop fighting our past. I know JMG has said things like this about atheists vs. religious before, but I also mean morally – people need to acknowledge that the five-century long fight (starting with Luther, ironically) against Christianity is over, there are practically no traditional Christians anymore, and they should realize that their egalitarian ideals come out of a historical development that came from the New Testament, and not from Mohammed or Buddha.

    (A slightly related pet peeve of mine is the way that energy, etc is ignored as a historical factor in practically all contemporary discussions of history. Why did Europeans & Americans suddenly realize slavery, etc were ‘wrong’ in the 18th-19th century? Was it because of the philosophes? No, it was because of oil coal and gas, etc. If all the oil coal and gas on earth instantly disappeared today, I bet I would live to see swathes of the population showing why slavery is ‘right’.)

    Blah blah blah, I know nobody’s listening to me anyway. Onething, I was surprised to hear you mention your like of Hinduism – I had thought of you as somehow affiliated to Christianity – would you mind talking about your attitude to Christianity a bit?

  170. Dear John Michael,

    Wow, I feel like I’m communing with a god right now. You are such a spectacular human specimen!

    Cutting to the chase, I began holding up two fingers in the form of the peace sign in September 2011 on the campus of UCLA, and continued doing that all day/every day for the entire Fall quarter. I do not know why I felt compelled to do such a thing, but I guess my general obsession with philosophically encompassing modes of thought, and the kinds of systems that said modes might enable (or cause to fail) was a fairly large part of it. I was living as a bum at the time, sleeping directly across from campus on LeConte Avenue. The kids there eventually began referring to me as “the peace guy”. I remember being filled with a sense of awe when it dawned on me that I was finally able to become something positive in the world. I am now the entity that Google’s omniscient search algorithms understand to be “the peace guy”.

    I remember first hearing about the issue of peak oil in the early 2000’s when the guy from Life After the Oil Crash, Matt Savinar, was on Coast to Coast AM with Art Bell. The whole idea of the inevitable collapse of human civilization obviously started to scare the hell out of me, so I put it out of my mind with the thought that market signals would solve everything by telling the next generation of geniuses to start perspiring over the new technologies that would inevitably save the day.

    So I lived my life, and started to get into things like computer programming… until that fateful day in November 2016 that sent a resounding echo reverberating around the circumference of the planet that the post-WWII order of neoliberal political economy had been effectively nullified. Interesting and slightly scary as that was, it wasn’t until just a few months ago that I started to hear fairly dire near-term economic forecasts from some pretty damn high-level people (such as ex Fed chairman Ben Bernanke). They were all either stating or implying the same basic thing: A major downside economic event should be expected circa 2020.

    I wanted to understand the root causes of these forecasts, and the question of whether there had been any official updates about the timing of peak oil luckily popped into “me noggin”. Lo and behold, the IEA — largely via some of Fatih Birol’s remarks in interviews — has been warning us that we should expect the global oil supply chain, including unconventional sources, to begin lagging demand by 2020, with approximately 3 million barrels/day in lost production every year thereafter, meaning that the global economy would lose about a Saudi Arabia’s worth of production every three years!

    I then dug deeper into resource depletion theory by reading Malthus’ Essay on the Principle of Population and watching videos of Dennis Meadows, principle of the Limits to Growth study. Next, I exhausted myself with all of these ideas by getting into the “lesser royalty” of the resource depletion movement like Gail Tverberg and Chris Martenson. Then I found Jim Kuntsler and Dmitry Orlov. And of course you.

    All of these issues have been reverberating through my brain, nonstop, for several months, and I, as “the peace guy” (now with a fairly large following on another major college campus in the heart of the beer/football/heavy duty truck consumer paradise that is the Southeastern Conference) have no choice but to begin some kind of sustainability movement to motivate as many people to lead more conscientious lifestyles as possible so that we’ll all — or at least some decent fraction thereof will — be able to better weather the coming storm… which I fear may be far more dramatic and violent than you usually speak to.

    Just like you, I too have a following, though it is much more visceral and local because it is based on immediate, face-to-face contact. I don’t want to get too long winded with this post, so I guess I’ll just leave it with this… I need your positive influence in my life and all of the wonderful young people who follow me (some obsessively so) therefore need it in their lives. My thinking is that the up-and-coming generation feels in their bones that something is amiss, but they have no way to effectively think about their feelings because there are no sources in mainstream culture that will speak to the idea of terminal resource depletion: what it *really* means to the human condition and what can possibly be done about it.

    It is up to us.

    Eagerly awaiting your response,
    – Dennis

  171. @ Monk

    FWIW I too very much grew up within the Christian heritage and used that heritage as the primary framework for my worldview. Even as recently as a few years ago, I was exploring the “Christian Left” of Ched Myers and Shane Claiborne, seeking a new understanding of the roots of what I saw as my faith. The thing is though, when I went looking for a direct, authentic encounter with the desert god Yahweh, I ended up having a direct, authentic encounter with a cthonic earth goddess instead. Thus I am where I am.

  172. JMG,
    I think your readers would appreciate an explication of the distinctions between Marlowe’s Faust and Goethe’s Faust. Neither is generally taught in American high schools, but I did have a teacher for a superb H.S. Shakespeare elective that examined 11 plays in 20 weeks, including Marlowe’s Faust. I see many readers reaching for an understanding of your posts based on Marlowe that has probably been filtered through a blend of American Puritanism and pop culture…

  173. @David, by the lake
    Re: difference between is and ought

    You said: I saw several discussions of how those 51 votes only represent some 20% of the population. And I thought to myself, “You really don’t understand how the Constitution works, do you?”

    I suspect a good look at Moral Foundations Theory ( , expounded in “the Righteous Mind” by Jonathan Haidt) might clarify this somewhat.

    They’re making a statement along the Fairness/Cheating axis, you are responding along the Authority/Subversion axis (deference to authority and respect for tradition).

    This does not seem to me to be a basis for holding a productive conversation.

  174. Hello Monk,

    Wonder where you live, because there are many evangelical/baptists in large parts of America.

    My relationship to Christianity is a strange one. I grew up in and was a member till around my mid thirties in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Took my kids to church every Sunday when they were small. At that point I moved to the south where this ethnic church barely exists. When you’re used to a Russian Orthodox service, others don’t satisfy.

    I had or have a great love for this church, as through it I was given the pearl of great price. However, it changed my outlook and slowly the ship turned around. Especially when through reading I figured out that early church history was anything but the loving and agreeable, smooth transition from the apostles forward. In the end, the edifice of a fairly pure and perfect church fell, as well as much of its teachings which I now consider anywhere from iffy to absurd. Not all of them though!

    Also, because I found myself in a state of awe over the goodness of God and filled with immense gratitude toward the Spirit for visiting me and making this change in my soul, it actually accentuated in my mind the failings of Christianity. That anyone could believe that the Bible is the word of God is now beyond preposterous to me. If one examines the case at all.

    My take on Christianity, as the Jesus entity appears to have intended it, is that it is a religion of soul purification. It is about achieving unconditional love, which is a saintly level. Much beyond this, one doesn’t need to incarnate here any more, thus one is ‘saved.’ It may or may not be possible to lose this once achieved if forgotten in an ensuing lifetime – but mostly not. There is a feeling of arrival, a love for God that does not contain any element of fear. This occurred for me and is taught by Jesus in the gospels as well as in the Ortho Church, as coming from the Holy Spirit. That is, it is the Holy Spirit who teaches you to know God.

    From this more good things come, such as understanding how and why one can love one’s enemies, and total forgiveness.

    So I find myself irate and impatient with Christianity as commonly taught (much less so in the Ortho Church, which actually is more correct) because it literally gives with one had and takes back with the other.
    What is the point of learning the kind of compassion spoken of in the New Testament if one then goes to heaven while others go to hell? How can one begin to understand compassion and forgiveness if one must eventually harden one’s heart in the afterlife?

    How is one to admire a God who is not the most magnanimous being and who does not have any plan to heal the cosmos and who indeed will be wasting souls? How to love a God who inspires fear and rightly so as He is the author of the worst psycho thriller that anyone could imagine?

    I have two main complaints about Christian theology. Jesus taught total forgiveness. He also said there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. So when they began to crucify him, he laid his life down and also showed how forgiveness is done – Father forgive them, they don’t understand anything.

    But Christian theology teaches that God only forgives people because Jesus paid our debt, like this is a beautiful thing. Taking payment for our sins. So that means he never forgives, only accepts payment of debt. That is not forgiveness. Nor is it anything that your local bank wouldn’t do.

    The other, related issue, is sacrifice. It is often taught that Jesus had to be sacrificed. It is part of the beautiful plan. I opened a Billy Graham book on someone’s bedside table and it said “God demanded a death.” Catholics teach he was an adequate replacement for Adam, who was perfect before he sinned. It’s funny though, that Eve is blamed for the fall yet it had to be a replacement for Adam. Should have been a woman to even the score just right.

    I do not like human sacrifice and find it utterly loathesome. It may or may not have efficacy, but if it does it is a demonic efficacy. Yet human sacrifice is a minor theme in the Old Testament, and that would be because the culture from which Abraham came practiced it, as did various peoples of the middle east at least at times. I don’t know whether to blame Jehovah for it as he wasn’t particularly enamored of it although he loved animal sacrifice and I am not sure it is similar. But he wasn’t always terribly against it either. As to the sacrifice of Isaac, according to my reading, it was El Shaddai who ordered it and an angel of Jehovah who stopped it. Of course, everyone says El, and El Shaddai, and the Elohim, and Jehovah are all the same personage but I doubt that.

    So it may be more human imagination and craziness to come up with the whole sacrifice on the cross to forgive our sins theory. But we now have a God who doesn’t forgive and who pardons only through a human, blood sacrifice. I am reeling in horror and people find it lovely.
    I have to say that the Orthodox Church does not teach that God couldn’t have forgiven humanity without the sacrificial death of Christ. A bishop once told me that God was prepared to forgive Adam and Eve on the spot if they had repented. Although most Orthodox believe in hell, universal salvation is still retained from the early centuries, especially the Cappadocian Fathers.

    Lacking a teaching of reincarnation is a real problem because souls do have to grow and improve, and it has to be freely undertaken. It’s so easy for me to see that Christianity ruined its theology with fear so as to have church and priest control and lord it over people, to make the church essential so they would support it.
    But the fruits are divisiveness among humanity and, well, if perfect love casts out fear, then a God whom one must fear (and actually despise) is not a God that one can fall in love with.

    So it’s the hell plan, the lack of real forgiveness and the necessity of human sacrifice that ruin Christianity for me. But it doesn’t really have to be that way. We could – and many do – believe that all will be alright in the end for everyone. But a lot of people react against that because it makes the faith lose the gravitas of a life and death struggle with evil resulting in many casualties.

    Christianity has not risen to the highest level of monotheism. That would instead be the Hindus, who understand that God is everything and everything is God, nor could it possibly be any other way. They refer to God as “The one without a second.”

    This doesn’t really erase our individuality, because it’s one of those spiritual paradoxes. We are all, and every scrap of the universe is, emanating from One Source and therefore are a part of that source; there is one universal consciousness of which our selves are a part but we are not subsumed.

    In my observation, the churches are not able to dispense or bring people to the real goods, such as an experience of the Holy Spirit, so they make things up, such as a legalistic salvation rather than a level of soul that reestablishes that soul’s connection to the divine. Not having that experience themselves, they do not understand that good deeds cannot be commanded but are a natural consequence of soul upliftment.

  175. John—

    More to the nature of the dark ages preceding the rise of the Great Cultures, but with regard to something you suggested previously re the shift in the nature of governance.

    You argued that the dark ages portend a shift from abstract principles to personal relationships (I.e. feudal structures). This would suggest that the concept of the written constitution, and the principles such a document represents, would go by the the wayside. I realize that a constitutional government is only one of a myriad of possible forms of governance, but to my mind, it is one that embodies much of what I think ideal. Given the nature of this discussion of various civilizations and values, I am more mindful of the fact that my ideals are not objective in nature. Yet, I cannot but admit a sense of loss at the thought that such notions should fade away.

    Is there, to your thinking, any way for a principled notion of governance to survive, or is it rather inevitable that the direct personal relationship supplant the broader ideal? (Understanding, of course, that one is neither good nor bad, just different.)

  176. Kittredge-

    “interesting you mentioned West Africa, a lot of German in there too. Aside from that , the recent smash hit movie “Black Panther” was an imagining of the reemergence of a high tech hidden city in Africa which must rise up to defend its primacy and unity in the face of an existential threat, with huge cross over to current US Faustian culture. Some sort of upswell in the African soul there maybe. Or it could have been just an exercise in identity politics, in whch case we all got sold a Pup by mephistopheles.”

    Yeh when I saw that film I also thought ‘faustian pseudomorphisis’. Its an advanced civilisation, in the middle of Africa in the faustian style. Africa of course has had many of its own local civilisations. I wonder what might happen. Of course its also an exercise in Identity politics. Still the broader theme of pseudomorphisis has some truth to it (however unintentional on hollywoods part).

  177. @Onething, I agree very much with you (which is not unusual). We women, collectively, are wringing our daughters’ necks with this behavior. I’ve commented here and elsewhere before wondering if this sort of thing is actually a hallmark of a society getting ready to cave in, the peak of Lobaczewski’s “hysteroidal cycle,” because it is the sort of thing likely to put the passion into the misogyny that we find in China, India, and Medieval Europe, all of which either have very old civilizations or suffered a noteworthy collapse. Japan was notably egalitarian until the collapse of the Heian culture, and then it seemed to adopt misogyny progressively during the civil warring period. Since I don’t hear about notable cases of hysteria among women in particular in that case, it may be that misogyny is driven more by men’s war-like behavior. I’m not enough of a historian to say. It’s probably all biological in any case, and screaming at women to be thoughtful is probably as productive as screaming at people to stop wasting resources.
    History in school was all about lionizing conquests, and the Spanish war horses in my 5th grade textbook were all wearing goggles, penciled in thoughtfully by the textbook’s previous owner.
    It took half a century, but JMG has finally taught me why history is so vital.

  178. Dear Ben Johnson, there are a number of reasons why Judge Kavanaugh ought not to have been confirmed for the Supreme Court, such as pro-corporate bias, contempt for the Fourth Amendment (see the video embedded by onething above), and lack of significant life experience. Kavanaugh has never served in the military, never driven a combine or pulled greenchain, has never, so far as I know, punched a time clock nor met a payroll in all his privileged life. His career path is very like that of the neo-cons, college to patronage job (in his case, clerkship) to highly paid office fauna. He was a Republican political operative who was rewarded with a judgeship and is now being elevated to the Supremes as the “fifth conservative” where he will vote as directed. No doubt he will be provided with a stable of brilliant and bought clerks to write his decisions. Roe vs. Wade is a red herring; the Republicans have no intention of repealing it, if only because many of the male portion of their political base wouldn’t ever get any dates at all if it were repealed. However, we have no effective opposition party in the USA today. What we have is a patronage network pretending to be a political party, which defends it’s perks and privileges with a savagery that would shame a sabre toothed tiger, and which cares no more about the constitution than it does about good governance in general.

    Dear Pogonip, any good psy-op has multiple objectives and the Kavanaugh accusation was no exception. While one object was to hand the Republicans an embarrassment right before the midterms, which may well have backfired, as you point out, another was to trivialize and redirect the me-too phenomenon away from a serious discussion of the daily harassment women endure, the backbiting, the harassment, the cat calling, the demands for attention and so on.

  179. A few observations on Kavanaugh:

    (a) There is certainly reasonable doubt of his guilt, but this isn’t a criminal trial. Balance of probabilities would be more appropriate.

    (b) Balance of probabilities is… complicated in this case but it’s worth noting that prima facie it’s unlikely that the accusation is false. The rate of false accusations of sexual violence is one of the most debated statistics, but even if we accept that its it’s several times the normal rate of false accusations, that still means that a supermajority are true.

    (b) (1) Even if the accusation is false, it is more likely to be a false memory about a detail of an actual event than a malicious fabrication.

    (c) Judging from Rod Dreher and The American Conservative (admittedly the only ones I respect enough to read), conservatives seem to think this is about Roe v. Wade and the left wanting to use accusations as a bludgeon.

    (c) (1) There is an honest (not necessarily correct, but honest) concern about false accusations on the Right and some parts of the Left. I haven’t quite put my finger on why, but I think it has something to do with how thoroughly sexual norms have shifted over the last few decades.

    (c) (1) (1) A strong cultural taboo against talking about sexual violence is slowly lifting, and the revelation of the abuses that taboo allowed are causing a lot of cognitive dissonance. Easier to just deny it.

    (c) (1) (2) It doesn’t help that facing these abuses can feel like lending aid and comfort to the some of the worst parts of the Left.

    (d) Judging by my liberal friends, family, coworkers, and Ted Rall, liberals seem to think this is about whether powerful men get protected from the consequences of their actions, whether by Kavanaugh’s support for presidential immunity or through silencing victims of sexual violence.

    (e) Both sides have seemed convinced they are going to lose.

    (f) Because this is not a criminal trial, there is no hope of justice for Ford or others who may have been victimized by Kavanaugh.

    (g) This is a show trial, in the rescue game sense.

    (g) (1) Pointing out that this is a show trial is not a judgment on the content of the accusations.

    (g) (2) I do judge that this is a horrible strategy that has served no real purpose. Probably every victim of sexual violence has been hurt by the way this was handled, especially Ford.

  180. Charles Hugh Smith is the blogger/writer that led me to your work. In light of my question and your answer regarding oil depletion this week, I had to laugh when I received his weekly musings today, which stated in part:

    “Musings on the Economy: How Much Oil Is Left that We Can Extract at Affordable Prices?

    You might reckon we have a pretty good idea of how much oil is left in the ground (i.e. proven reserves) that we can extract at prices that consumers can afford, but it turns out we don’t have an informed estimate based on agreed-upon standards.

    This 118 page report will disabuse you of the idea that the proven-reserves estimates floating around are anything more than guesses, many of which are based less on data than on promoting an agenda.
    Extrapolation of oil past production to forecast future production in barrels (118 pages)

    The author makes an estimate in the last few pages, and it isn’t as cheery as official estimates, which tend to forecast 40+ years of plentiful oil. The affordable oil (i.e. under $100 / barrel) is depleting fast, and may not meet demand within a few years.

    It’s not necessary to slog through every line of the report, but it’s worth scrolling through the voluminous charts.”

    Not exactly the same wording as your reply, but the exact same point. The link to the report if your interested is:

    Importantly, I thought the author’s estimate that affordable oil may not meet demand within a few years coincided very closely to your estimate of the time frame for the next oil price shock. Time will tell.

    Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

  181. JMG,

    With regards to the binding working aimed at Kavanaugh, what are the implications of invoking Venus and then binding “leering eyes” and genitals? That seems like it could get quite messy, even without anything from outside messing with the working….

  182. Pogonip, if a significant number of women respond that way, the Democrats have just cut their own throats. Without a significant edge among women, they lose.

    Morfran, some people need to write at length — I’m one of them! — in order to think through something. Don’t worry about it.

    Chris, yes, I’ve heard the same thing, Sometimes it’s “you should be more spontaneous,” meaning you should stop thinking and agree with the speaker. Sometimes it’s “you should be more openminded,” meaning the same thing. My favorite, though, is the exasperated utterance I’ve fielded several times: “You think you’re right!” I like to ask them whether they go around saying things they think are wrong, and they get flustered and go away.

    Beekeeper, I’ve heard now from several people within the academic industry who’ve talked about very private studies arguing that in twenty years or so half of the universities in the US will have gone broke and shut their doors forever…

    Kittredge, no, you’re missing one of the crucial points of great cultures, which is that they veer off in directions of their own. Faustian culture in its infancy absorbed a lot of late Apollonian culture, and then went in a wholly different direction.

    Tidlösa, see my previous comments about how this is a blog post and not a 700-page book.

    David, keep in mind that what you’re hearing is an aristocracy scrambling around for justifications for holding on to power when power is slipping irrevocably through its fingers.

    Beekeeper, funny. Quite a significant number of white men were burnt or hanged as witches, too…

    Forecastingintelligence, it’s definitely time to pop a bowl of popcorn and watch the melodrama unfold!

    Will, the figure I quoted was off Wikipedia, and thus may well be inaccurate.

    Monk, fascinating. If Christianity follows the usual historical curve, it’ll endure as a philosophy and a set of traditional rituals long after most people no longer believe in or care about the doctrines, or treat them as symbolically or metaphorically true. (Think of the way that Greek Pagan religion functioned in the late classical world.)

    Dennis, er, I think you’re way overdoing it — I ain’t no deity, nor a “spectacular human specimen.” As for sustainability, I plan on continuing to discuss the changes that will need to be made by individuals, families, and communities on the way down the arc of the Long Descent, but people have been trying to start some kind of mass movement along those lines as long as I’ve been alive, with zero effect. By all means encourage your following to decrease the impact they make on the planet — there’s plenty of good information out there on how to do that — and see what results you get.

    Berserker, I’ll consider that.

    David, the concept of a written constitution and the rule of law will likely survive, just as many of the core concepts of Roman law endured and were revived in the Middle Ages. The problem that makes everything go to personal relationships, though, is that anything else can be gamed, and gaming the rules to make an unearned profit is one of the few growth industries as a society declines.

    Chris, thank you for this! It’s a good sign; as the economics of monoculture break down, more sustainable options come into play.

    Ryan, interesting. Thank you for this.

    Will, yep. I’ve posted a summary of the worst issues with this latest spell on my Dreamwidth journal, but there are a lot of more focused issues as well. I suspect a lot of the people who do this spell will end up with serious sexual dysfunctions due to the Raspberry Jam Principle…

  183. Dear Onething: Thanks for your reply. I think it’s helping me understand why I relate to Christianity differently from most people; my background is completely atheist, my childhood had essentially zero encounters with Christianity, I never went to church until I was 17 (and even then only for the music), etc. So I’ve experienced going from the secular Western culture to being more and more steeped in Christianity as a movement from the desert to an oasis. In your reply I sense a tone I’ve noticed in other people I’ve talked to as well, people who were raised Christian, a sense of appreciation of some positive aspects of the faith mixed with disillusionment/indignation at other aspects. With respect to your specific points, have you heard of the different theories of atonement? (see e.g. Wikipedia). There seem to be a number of different interpretations of how Jesus’s death allows us to be saved, and many of them are not bleak in the way I think you don’t like (i.e. “God was angry and needed a sacrifice to placate him”). It does seem to me that there’s a consistent tension running through the tradition between God’s justice (so that sinners should go to hell) and his mercy (which leads in the extreme case to universalism).

    JMG: Yes; Christian doctrines have always been metaphorically & symbolically true for me, but the metaphorical truths & symbolic rituals that I derived from them have profoundly affected my life. Because of my story (see above) I relate differently to Christianity from most people, I think, and one frustration I have is that the culture seems to view the issue as being either “you believe, you are fully Christian, go to church, etc”, or, “you don’t believe, you reject Christian morality, you think it’s all nonsense”, whereas my position is the position you’ve outlined: I don’t literally believe but I nonetheless practice the rituals & morality, think in Christian ways, read the literature etc.

  184. Nastarana: Can you explain ‘if only because many of the male portion of their political base wouldn’t ever get any dates at all if it were repealed’? Why would they not get dates?

  185. One more thing re: Onething – thinking about what you said about being disillusioned about the non-serenity of early church history, I’m thinking back and noticing that for me it was the other way around: instead of being told early on that Christianity was wonderful and perfect, and learning that it wasn’t so, I was told when I was young that it was awful and the source of all evils, and was surprised to learn that it was actually rather good.

  186. @Onething Thanks for your explanation of Christianity as experienced by you, which mirrors much of how it was experienced by me. You said: “So it’s the hell plan, the lack of real forgiveness and the necessity of human sacrifice that ruin Christianity for me.” And the hell plan and the necessity for human sacrifice concur exactly with the understanding that persuaded me to walk away. I want to thank you, though, for the insight that a God who requires payment for sins (debts) is not a God who forgives. That had not occurred to me. I suspect you have thought much more deeply than I on this matter, though, because when I walked away, I stayed walked away, and have not given much thought to the issues since.

  187. Hi!
    JMG wrote: “Varun, of course Hinduism is under siege.”

    I’d be interested in reading your reasons for that statement, especially when you follow it by: “I don’t imagine it’ll be that long before it (India) puts aside the ladle, picks up a mace and starts breaking heads.”

    My interest is as follows: Half of the population of Mauritius is Hindu, 17% Muslims, both of Indian origin, the balance Christians of European, African or Indian origins. There is an incessant two way traffic between India and Mauritius. India is very very present here and vying for influence to counter Chinese power in Mauritius for geopolitical reasons. The Indian Ocean has been and still is an ocean of great importance to many foreign powers especially since world war 2.

    Both India and China view Mauritius as some sort of gateway / stop over to Africa or at least a show case for Africa of their respective might, technology and wealth.

    Given your very good track record about interpreting geopolitical events, I feel some how concerned when you say India might be picking up a mace quite soon!

    My reading of the situation is that although the Indian Ocean and most countries bordering or within it have been more or less spared the ravages of both world wars, this has now changed. The Indian Ocean region is bound to be heavily involved in any wars following the decline of American power. Both China and India are bound to compete more or less openly for resources and territory all over the Indian Ocean.

    Hence my concern….

  188. I forgot: Thanks for the link. I have downloaded the text and most probably I’ll print it for close study.

  189. @ John Roth

    Re conversations and Kavanaugh

    It is a good thing that I wasn’t attempting a conversation then 😉 Those were just silent comments in my head as I was reading their statements. (I deleted my PW profile a while ago, having reached my limit, and so no longer actively engage. Lord knows, I tried to hold reasoned discussions on that forum. I really did.)

    The thing is, however, that their point re how much of the population those Senate votes represent is wholly irrelevant. Anyone who managed to not sleep through all four years of high school knows that the Senate is not designed to represent according to population, that’s the House. The Senate is designed to provide for equal representation of each state. And confirmation is a function of the Senate. If one wants to change how the Constitution assigns powers and functions, then we have a process for making those proposals. (Although, if one is arguing that less populous states should be stripped of their power, good luck getting that amendment ratified.) And as I’ve mentioned previously, I’m actually in favor of a convention being called, since I believe we need to be having a substantive debate on core aspects of our republic. But to my mind, complaining that the Senate isn’t representative of the population is like complaining that one’s car is a crappy boat.

  190. John—

    Re the right seeking allies while the left seeks heretics

    I saw a recent post lamenting, among other things, the transactional nature of “our rotten politics.” (The specific context was re Senator Graham and his transformation from Trump opponent to Trump supporter.)

    I was puzzled by the statement. Politics, and the politics of a republic particularly, is based on compromise. And compromise is by its very nature “transactional.” While there is much rotten about our current political system, I can’t see how political relationships and coalitions being transactional is a part of that. It is like the writer was complaining that water is wet. I’m not sure what I am missing here.

  191. @John Roth,
    I agree it is not a productive conversation, that’s why the conversation needs to stop via secession, so they can go their own way and create something more in keeping w/their outlook

  192. David by the Lake,

    There is a difference in complaining about how the constitution works and not understanding it. For a Democrat to win the presidency, they probably need 53 or 54% of the vote, for the House, probably 57 or 58%, and for the Senate, it’s a question of distribution, bur practically even harder. This isn’t to say that all the Democrats problems are imposed externally. The collapse of Dems at the state level is not so easily attributed to structural factors, there are plenty of internal problems too.

    But there is a reason that the vast majority of democracies around the world use a proportional system – it represents better and it works better. The test cases in central and eastern European countries after the fall of the Soviet Union demonstrate this as most tried the US structure – for one election cycle, before switching to a proportional system. For most of US history, a variety of factors made it difficult for one of the parties to take advantage of these structural flaws to the degree Republicans are now.

    But minority rule does not work well. Trump won the presidency on a technicality, a structural flaw in representation, and his party lost seats in both Federal houses in 2016. This is hardly a mandate for the kind of changes he is seeking, and in many countries would lead to upheaval far more violent and chaotic than what the US is seeing now. One need not prefer Democrats to acknowledge that minority rule, especially minority rule that seeks significant changes, is a dead end. If you want to see far more chaos in the US, then imagine Trump winning the electoral college in 2020 by a few points and losing the popular vote by 10%. People who feel gypped aren’t mollified by saying that’s the rules.

  193. @ Dean

    I have to take issue with a dismissal of things like the Electoral College and our bicameral legislature as mere “technicalities.” They are not; rather, they are core elements of the carefully and painstakingly crafted compromise hammered out to form our government. Our national government wasn’t designed as a democracy in the European sense. It was designed as a federal republic of semi-sovereign states, with limited and specifically-defined powers delegated to the federal government and the remainder being retained by the people and states.

    The popular vote is not and has never been the method by which the President is elected and it is no more relevant to winning that office than total runs are to winning the World Series. It is an interesting statistic and nothing more.

    Equal representation in the Senate was such an important thing for the Framers that it was carved out as the one component of the Constitution that cannot be altered by amendment. It is safe to say, based on the history of the debates, that our nation would not exist today had that that bicameral structure not been adopted.

    As for not liking how our system operates, we have an agreed-upon process for making changes, with two routes: get a two-thirds supermajority of Congress to propose amendments to the several states, or else call a convention of the states themselves to propose amendments. But in either case, a minority of states (25% + 1, or thirteen states in our present construct) wield veto power in the ratification process, so a proposed amendment would require broad support of the states to be adopted.

    This isn’t minority rule. This is majority rule constrained by limits and diffusion of power. There is a considerable difference.

  194. I originally began coming to this site trying to *escape* the politics that infects everything, but since the Kavanaugh business was mentioned, a quote from the beginning of the essay is germane:

    ‘It’s embarrassingly rare for anyone in American public life to stop and say aloud, “Hold it. What’s going to happen if we keep on doing this for more than a few more years?” ‘

    … and yet, I’m consistently impressed by how you do it better and more often than we do in Canada, where we expect the good times to continue running on magic forever.

    Anyway, the quote is relevant to Kavanaugh and the MeToo business. There’s a loud constituency that’s utterly failing to grasp where all of this is leading: sooner than they imagine, towards a culture where no women are taken at face value anymore because they’ve squandered their credibility crying wolf too many times. “Oh yeah, this is why we never used to believe women,” the great mass of men is beginning to think. On another site, I saw a young man – presumably intelligent, educated, and just embarking on a career – comment that “Je suis Kavanaugh”. This is true; we men are all Kavanaugh now.

  195. Your opinion that the neopagan scene might not survive this guy sounds hideously plausible to me.

    Likewise your comment about respectability. I belong to a group which used to be vibrant and active and put on a lot of festivals in an atmosphere of fun as well as serious ritual. Its current long-time leader really pushed for federal recognition for us as a 501(c)3 Church for, she said, tax purposes. And yes, we have Clergy, whose function is nearly nil as far as I can tell, and Elders … at any rate, at the last Pagan Pride, she was very proudly telling everyone who stopped by our booth that “we are a Federally Recognized! 501(c)3 Church!”

    The group is down to less than coven size right now. In fact, a vendor who gave me a gift for my altar said (after I denied being the matriarch of the group) “then, from my coven to yours.”

    And the festivals have all but one been taken over by younger, more vibrant groups who apparently either found their voices weren’t heard in our “church” or simply found us irrelevant. For what it’s worth, the exact same thing happened in the science fiction community with a group that used to be a Star Trek fan group, until one leader decided to make it respectable and literary. Now, under about its 4th leader since, our origins long behind us, it’s 5 people in her living room watching Game of Thrones or else bad movies, and Starfleet has a major presence at the larger club’s annual convention.

    At any rate, I’m too old to change my allegiance, which in any case is to the beings who are on my altar and out there in nature, NOT out there organizing respectable little social clubs. What’s that poem about “the last leaf?”

  196. Monk, you may well be the wave of the future, then. If I had access to a sacramental Christian church that had that attitude toward its doctrines I’d probably attend; my issues with Christianity as a whole (as distinct from specific denominations, some of which have their own very toxic problems) have to do entirely with doctrinal claims that, to my mind, are simply wrong, full stop, end of sentence.

    Karim, India no longer has the political and military support of a great power, and so will have to become a great power itself. I expect Asian politics to be extremely complex for the next few centuries, with India and China becoming the center of competing alliances with conflicting interests in East Africa, Indochina, and the island chains of the western Pacific. In Mauritius, you’re on one of the front lines of that confrontation; it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out over time.

    David, excellent! “Politics,” to writers of that way of thinking, is the process by which their ideology achieves its inevitable triumph and the bad ideas of the bad people who oppose the One True Way of Progress are cast aside forever. The mere fact that isn’t happening will take a long age to sink through the relevant skulls.

  197. @ Dean

    Just to follow on your final image (i.e. Trump winning in 2020 but losing the popular vote by 10%+)

    I don’t disagree that many would feel gypped in that scenario, rightly or wrongly, and I would argue that we should adopt amendments to provide for situations where a significant-enough slice of our society feels that way. My solution, however, would be more in the vein of Shane’s thinking, namely a legal pathway for secession. If a supermajority of a state’s voting populace no longer wishes to be a part of this union, I have no issue with allowing said state to depart (so long as certain conditions are met, such as accepting a pro rata portion of the existing national debt, for example). But I do oppose these attempts to elect the President by popular vote; if anything, I’d go the other way and give each state a single electoral vote, regardless of size, under the premise that if one is going to be President of the United States, one should have to demonstrate at least a plurality of support in a majority of states.

  198. JMG: What are some of the Christian doctrinal claims that you think are (metaphorically) wrong?

  199. S.J., thank you. You’re quite correct, of course. This is one of the many places where the abuse of a process by a minority sours things for everyone else; the evidence I’ve seen suggests that the great majority of women who report being sexually assaulted are telling the truth, but there are just enough exceptions to feed the backlash. Garrett Hardin’s “tragedy of the commons” comes to mind here; trust is a commons, and it can be abused and destroyed in exactly the same way as any other commons.

    Patricia M., to my mind the Neopagan scene has been in its autumn phase for a while now, and one way or another it was going to go through the inevitable winter, the period where only a few people keep it going if anyone does. This business may make the descent into winter much more sudden and drastic — but we’ll see.

    Monk, I may not have been clear enough. There’s nothing I know of in Christianity that can’t be understood as a metaphor for truth; my difficulty is with the insistence that the claims of Christian doctrine be taken as literal truths. I find it impossible to believe that there is only one deity in the cosmos, for example, or that eternal damnation is in any way compatible with the claim that the god who inflicts it is loving and just; the claim that a person named Jesus actually, physically rose from the dead in the Roman province of Judea around 33 CE, in turn, strikes me as a classic example of a myth wrongly soldered onto a historical figure. I could go on, but those should be enough for present purposes.

  200. Dear Monk, back in the days before Roe vs. Wade, high school girls were routinely and often advised to not accept more than two dates with a man whom they would not wish to marry.

    At the present time, women have learned that we can live and even raise children without husbands. Many of us seem now to be concluding that sex is also something we don’t necessarily need.

    It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that the Republicans lost a presidential election over issues around sex. Obama was vulnerable in 2012, many of his ardent supporters being disappointed by his tepid, neo-liberal governing. Then came the incident in which a woman asked former Sen. Santorum (R-Pen.) about sexual assaults that caused pregnancies. For a Republican pol that should be an easy peasy question to answer. You brag a bit about your tough on crime votes, express sympathy with any victims of violent crimes and, if you are person of faith, express the hope that the victim might, in prayerful consultation with family and her pastor, come to understand that what is a tragedy for her can be a blessing for another family who can’t have children. Instead the good senator said that the new life was a “gift from God”, no matter how conceived, apparently. Liberal and conservative women alike were outraged; few of us, whatever our politics, are willing to stand by and see our daughters and granddaughters forced into shotgun marriages with violent criminals. Then, as you might recall, the theme came up again and in even worse form. The phrase “legitimate rape” disgraced the mouths of Republican pols. After the election, GWB’s former chief of staff, Karen Hughes, said she would personally cut off the tongue, as she decorously put it, of any Republican male pol who mentioned the word ‘rape’ without also saying that a violent assault on someone’s else’s person is a crime.

    The women’s movement, which came before hysterical “feminism”, had two goals. One was full civil rights, including full and equal access to the means of making our own livings. The other was an absolute right to chose our own life partners. NO arranged marriages, in whatever form those might be disguised, and no being legally forced to remain in abusive marriages. The reason most women tend to favor abortion rights, pro-choice if you will, is NOT for most of us, so that we can live lives of promiscuity, but so that we won’t be in any way forced or “encouraged” into marriages not of our choosing.

    Anyone who thinks that repeal of Roe vs. Wade is going to force women out of the workplace and back into those suburban houses which no one can afford anymore is deluding themselves.

  201. In regards to that alt-right map I posted before,
    I thought you and some of the readers here might be interested in some of the writings on Spengler the scene has.

    There’s a collection of essays over at counter-currents:

    along with an interesting essay about spengler’s background:

    It goes without saying that you and your readers will probably find some(or most) of these writings offensive, but I do recall you saying that its healthy to occasionally read things you’d like to fling across the room.

    Here’s a pretty good overview of spengler’s theory and concepts, the infographic timeline on the first page might be useful for those who are new to spengler’s ideas:

    I know I’ve seen Spengler come up on other blogs and websites of the alt-right but can’t remember exactly where off the top of my head. Some would definitely be better written and thought out than others, and overall counter-currents has pretty high quality essays. I would definitely say that Spengler’s ideas seem to be widely known in the scene, if second hand in many cases. For example, the rather popular, heavily censored, badly animated cartoon Murdoch Murdoch had an episode where the main character went on a quest to find Faust and ‘try to save the dying west’.

    There’s an interesting peice on counter-currents about part of the ‘source’ of the faustian spirit that connects rather well, I think, with my post awhile back about the norse/heathen aspects I see in the metalhead subculture around me::

    In the various non-spenglerian discussions I’ve read on what the west is and where it comes from the same three, somewhat obvious, components reliably come up: the legacy of the classical world(Appolonian), christianity(magian in its origin), and the peoples of northwest europe(the descendants of those that invaded rome during the volkerwanderung). If you take away one of those three parts you’ll have something, but it wont be ‘The West’. It seems to me that as the west dies, those three components are fracturing apart.

    Part of my thinking in my heathen/metalheads comment was that what I’ve been seeing is essentially a shedding of the foreign cultural forms by the decendents of those germanic barbarians, with quite a bit of hostility towards what had been laid on top of them. Moreso towards christianity than the legacy of the classical world, but that seems to be there too.

    A good example of the rejection of both is the ‘infamous’ Varg Vikernes who is very much hostile to christianity but also the legacy of rome, and ‘civilization’ itself, and he has a pretty large following. A ‘lighter’ form is found in Jack Donovan’s work on masculinity/tribalism, which in a lot of ways can be summed up as: ‘life would be more fulfilling in a warband, lets build warbands, here’s how we do it’. His joining the heathen group ‘The Wolves of Vinland’ ofcourse being a step away from christianity in addition to the rejection of the current legal/political structure that can be traced back to rome/greece.

    Also, if you remember the commenter dammerung, he said at one point that the sort of religion he was looking for was a ‘white shintoism’, to which you replied that would pretty much be folkish asatru/heathenry. It seems similar to me, ‘just give me a simple religion that isn’t foreign to me, one that my ancestors originally passed down orally where only what resonated deeply would be preserved in poems and songs’…

    I vaguely recall you saying in a response to a commenter something like ‘the difference between spirits of the blood and spirits of the land’ – in regards to indo-european gods ‘following their people where they go’ vs spirit of the land itself manifesting in the culture they create. I guess this is me making the case that the ‘drive toward the infinite’ might very well be rooted in the ‘blood’ of the peoples of northwestern europe and is likely to persist as an element of whatever future culture northwestern europeans are a significant part of (hopefully manifesting in a way thats, atleast a bit, less destructive to the natural world).

    Regarding the great-lakes and the ohio river valley,
    All of my personal experience with these heathen/metalhead data points has been among the working class in and around chicago and some other small towns around the great lakes. Thats just my experience ofcourse, it could be a far smaller trend than I think it is.

    To give an example, a very close friend of mine lives in a small rural town of about 2000 people. The town has 5 different churches. Just about all the church-goers are 35 and older, the younger crowd is pretty consistantly tattooed and wearing t-shirts of their favorite metal band. (This county went pretty heavily for trump as an aside, these are bluecollar people not ‘salary class’ neo-pagans)

    I know I might be leveraging this music sub-culture idea a bit too much but, that’s the subtle cultural change I currently see taking place in the American ‘borderlands’.

    Of course, whether the descendants of these people are still in the same place when the next high culture forms is entirely up in the air, if the great migrations to come are as bad as you expect, this area could very well be filled with the descendants of chinese or east-indians or whichever group ends up finding themselves here at the end of the next volkerwanderung, with the ‘soul’ of their people forming the heart of the new high culture…

    Anyway though, I thought I’d toss some differing perspectives into what should be a very interesting series of posts.

    -Jason P.

  202. Archdruid,

    That would make sense, the ring-cosmos is static in the immediate present unless a ring-chaos acts as a thrust block. Good to know that my paranoia isn’t pointless.


    Fair enough.



  203. Dear SJ., Esquire, you pointed out that

    There’s a loud constituency that’s utterly failing to grasp where all of this is leading: sooner than they imagine, towards a culture where no women are taken at face value anymore because they’ve squandered their credibility crying wolf too many times. “Oh yeah, this is why we never used to believe women

    That is, IMO, precisely one of the things this psy-op was intended to accomplish. The me-too phenomenon was beginning to be a bit of an embarrassment. I respectfully suggest that you disabuse yourself of the notion that the Democratic party is at all interested in winning elections.

  204. @JMG, Monk
    Re: Christianity

    Yeah, that’s pretty much why I’m not a Christian. Many theological positions either make no sense or are actively toxic.

    People ask Michael about Jesus at times. There are some things that come through consistently.

    1. A being from the Messianic Plane manifested through him for a month. That’s where a great deal of the energy. behind Christianity comes from.

    2. He was not crucified, although there was an attempt to assassinate him. (It failed.)

    3. The notion of eternal damnation is not only foreign to the MT, it’s completely incompatible with it.

  205. James Jensen, david by the lake:

    I’ve twice heard something roughly consistent with the traditional description of the small quiet voice of divine revelation*. As I think I’ve noted once before in a previous comment thread, the second was sometime after the 2016 election, and I quote: “There is exactly one issue that matters in modern American politics, and it is this: the assignment of roles in a Rescue Game of national scale.” Looked at in that way, l’affair Kavanaugh makes perfect sense: the fight is over which of {Ford, Kavanaugh} (proxying for larger coalitions) is the Victim and which is the Oppressor, and truth has nothing to do with it.

    Unfortunately, it looks to me like regardless of which side comes out on top this version of the Rescue Game is going to be played with lethal force in the not-too-distant future.

    (The first time is also relevant to this week’s discussion, but that’s for another post I’m still drafting.)

    * – My impression is that “divine revelation” is something of a misnomer and whatever is responsible is either above or orthogonal to the gods, but that’s another matter. Either way, it was a small quiet voice, and I got the sense that what I heard was granted to me.

  206. @JMG, regarding the literal interpretation of the life of Jesus, I have often wondered if the Apostles purposefully borrowed and adapted Classical storytelling tropes and conventions, when writing down the narrative of Jesus’ life and teachings. The image of the hero descending into the underworld to battle gods and monsters and thereby become a divine being was common in Greco-Roman mythology. The story of Jesus as told in the Gospels is basically the story of a demigod who explicitly gives up his godhood in order to make a larger point. I’ve never heard anyone explicitly try to argue that that Apostles intentionally try to do something like that, but I don’t find it that hard to imagine them asking, “what if a god died for a larger purpose?”

  207. Dean (if I may), and I may regret spilling the beans here…

    You’d probably see a more…representative vocal pushback against your assertions if populists weren’t just quietly getting their work done within the system their forefathers put in place so very deliberately all those years ago.

    As a former Democrat, now at least temporarily libertarian – because, well, we couldn’t afford the federal government 20 trillion dollars ago – and privileged to live in a blood red rural county, I have to say that the sense of being “gypped” isn’t nearly as ubiquitous as it must feel in urban yellow-dog areas.

    Democrats are mostly just being loud and obnoxious. Pitching a world-class hissy fit. And the more of them you get together in one place the louder that “mandate” must seem. But it’s incredibly annoying to all those honest, hard-working people who elected Mr. Trump for a suite of solid and respectable reasons. Like, I’m tired of my job being sold to the lowest foreign bidder, and then being ridiculed for taking unemployment by the folks who did the selling, or, I’m kinda over watching my children die fighting YOUR wars so that you can set up provisional governments friendly to more of the same. Little things like that.

    But they don’t shout, and scream, and throw tantrums about it, because doing so is a recipe for unleashing a sneering, condescending and incandescent hatred from the vocal minority that most of them have learned it’s better to just avoid. Doesn’t accomplish anything anyway. Instead they go to work within the constraints of the system that exists, quietly, knowing that that’s what’s required for victory. There’s a maturity and restraint there that has impressed me enough to convince me to join their effort – two things that the political left in this country has demonstrated a hideous paucity of.

    In my opinion, any thoughts that this box can be shut now that it’s been opened is just more of the same loud, obnoxious hissy fit I mentioned earlier. There ain’t no blue wave coming, and if Trump doesn’t get reelected in ’20 I’ll be a monkey’s uncle. The shaled-on of this country, who probably stopped believing in the electoral process long before you did, have seen that all hope isn’t lost now, and they, every last one of them, will turn out to be counted.

    Your (and my former) party would fare a lot better trying to figure out where they went wrong than trying to figure out which of half a dozen schemes will let them take back control of a democratic republic when they are NOT the majority. (I don’t care what your favorite polls say, nor what the “official” tally in ’16 was either.)

    Win the loyalty of the people back, man, and stop trying to pull an end-around. I’m a college-educated environmental scientist, for heaven’s sake, and the frankly embarrassing behavior of Dems over the last 2 years has driven me FARTHER from the fold than I was in ’16 when I voted Libertarian! This time I won’t be “wasting” my vote, I assure you.

    And like Shane says, if that’s an intolerable situation for you all, the door to secession is wide open. By all means…

    Now don’t tell anybody that I told you this, OK? 😉

  208. JMG. I have a question about this comment you made to Monk “my issues with Christianity as a whole (as distinct from specific denominations, some of which have their own very toxic problems).” What are those specific toxic problems in some of the denominations. I find it valuable to have a view from the outside. Is is sometimes hard to see those problems if you live Inside of them.

  209. David – Comparing people to baseball runs strikes me as a weak analogy. The preamble does not say we the states, if says we the people. I’d like to think that we as individuals matter more than that. There is a balance between states rights and people’s rights.

    The EC was indeed a crafted compromise, but it has never worked as intended by those who crafted that compromise and does not now operate like it did then. I see it as a kind of appendix that almost nobody knew they had – until it ruptured. And while the EC has been in operation for the country’s history, you can count on one hand the number of times it has not agreed with the popular vote, and two of those are the last two Republican presidents.

    Nonetheless, If somebody has power without getting the most votes, it is minority power. You may like the rules that enable minority power, but minority power it is if that person does not have the greatest amount of support. And I think your idea of one vote per state would guarantee the dissolution of the country, it would be so unrepresentative of people. But I agree on having a defined path for secession. It may well be the only path to avoiding violence.

  210. @ Onething – The reason I have trouble with the claim that these accusations are a political hit job is simply that these sort of claims (or this sort of hit job) was not performed against Neil Gorsch. His confirmation sailed through without a peep about sexual assault. Maybe, just maybe, this is because no one could be found to make such claims, rather than them being drummed up for political purposes. I will freely admit that I am inclined to believe women reporting sexual assault because the crime often goes unreported.

    @ Nastrana – I agree with your general analysis, though I’m not entirely sure I get the point you’re making. Are you saying we have no real opposition party in the US? I agree. We have Republican and Republican-Lite. Are you saying Kanavaugh is a far right apparatchik? I agree with that too. I watched the video Onething posted as well and think it was mostly spot on.

    @ JMG – 1- I re-read my comment about industrial technology and I should clarify what I meant. What if Western engineers kept running steam engines on diesel fuel or even gasoline without anyone thinking “Why don’t we just remove the water and blow up petrol inside this thing instead!?!” We still continue on a pretty Faustian track by zooming off as fast as we can, just continuing to do so with steam engines rather than internal combustion engines.
    2 – I hadn’t thought of the Artic spawning a great culture. I’d just assumed they would be borderlands of the Ohio-Great Lake culture. I suppose the southern great plains and American south would be a contested area between the Lakeland great culture and the Mexica culture that emerges on the central plateau?

  211. @JMG – gotcha. Yes. Winter is Coming (I have got to get around to ordering that T-shirt!) and I won’t be around to see the springtime …. but somebody’s got to keep the faith. And I’m sure Mam Gaia will still be worshiped by many people who never heard of Wicca and wonder why there are antlers on Her altar!

    Not to mention Thor (monsoon season out here can be spectacular) and a Roadrunner (local land spirit).

  212. If you have read Lobaczewski, I’m impressed! I actually found Ponerology all but unreadable, but my sister got through it.
    I am not wise enough to know if this behavior is an indicator of societal collapse, but it certainly indicates a degeneration of some sort. There is simply a lot of destructiveness about, with only the flimsiest of pretense of anything like justice or tolerance. It becomes obvious that destruction is the agenda. We are already past the time of kidding ourselves that the adversary is capable of being respectfully and honestly engaged.

    In Ponerology he described a kind of tipping point where the institutions such as his university and research department had a very different kind of culture than previously. One of corruption and fear. It’s a simple matter of getting enough people of low integrity and who are on board with a rotten agenda, to get a balance of power such that they can effect those kinds of changes, and everyone else cowers in subjection for however long it takes for the nightmare to pass.

    A couple of people, one a woman on youtube and one Jordan Peterson, have said that it is really up to the reasonable women to stand up to their hysterical sisters and make them stand down. Men cannot easily defend themselves. So I do what I can.

  213. Oh, as to the origins of misogyny, I actually consider that the yugas may have something to do with it. The degeneration of respect for women seems to have occurred all over the world at roughly the same time, and the system I am going with says the times of the yugas are greatly exaggerated, so we are on the outer edge, coming out of the Kali Yuga, which has lasted I believe about 2400 years. That fits.

    But in relation to the current mess, I had the horrid thought – hmm, in Islam they say it takes the testimony of two women to equal one man’s. If these women keep up the allowing of women to make false accusations and ruin a man’s life (and health – bearing false witness causes deep distress!) and all the women mindlessly chant “I believe her,” it will backfire eventually and women will be seen as hysterical and unreliable and dishonest.

    I think it if can be proven that a woman lied there should be pretty strong consequences. Again, justice will not always be done. If she cannot prove her case, it doesn’t mean she lied,but there have been some famous cases in which that happened, and nothing untoward happened to the woman.
    I am aware of the problem with EMF, but I was intrigued that you stated someone was pointing it out long ago.

  214. Patricia Ormsby,

    I distinctly remember typing your name above my reply to you. Two of them. Now you’ll have to find it if you don’t read all the comments.

  215. Monk, (and Scotlyn)

    You may have confused me with a typical ‘recovering’ Christian. I never really stopped loving my church. I used to want to die for it. This church delivered its promise. If a religion is a path, I arrived at my destination and I don’t need the train any more. There was a monk, named Sylvan, whose pen lit my soul on fire. I thought he was obscure but found out recently that he has been canonized. I consider him my mentor. He died around 1930.

    Sometimes when people ask me if I’m Christian I say, Well… most Christians are Jesus Christians, but I’m a Holy Spirit Christian.

    What I forgot to say is that I consider myself, as a lover of God, to be His defender as Christian theology slanders His character something awful. This is a serious charge and I stand by it. God does not defend Himself but I can defend Him. What I long for is a Christianity made pure – like one of my favorite gospel passages – God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.

    You could do worse than to take that one passage and use it as a chisel, a spiritual tool to chip away at false understanding.
    I’m not throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I’m saying Christianity could be so sublime if we could just have a real reformation.

    I love your statement that going to church was like an oasis for you.

    I am interested in the different theories of atonement. The Orthodox Church teaches that it was a reconciliation by love, that people’s hearts will be healed toward God by the willing sacrifice of Jesus. What else have you got?

    I do have to say, ( these things are important and there’s no use being polite) when Christians talk about hell being necessary because God is just or Holy, they are just trying to justify that which they think needs to be justified. It cannot be done.

    Since you are not strongly attached to doctrines, and come out of a love for the beauty, which I commend, why not think about trying to get a bridge in your own soul toward the divine, using only the most pure teachings that are in the New Testament. They could be a shining beacon, a torch held high in the night! If you’re going for soul purification, you can’t have flies in the ointment.
    And by the way, one of my favorite passages is where Jesus says to some detractors, “Go and learn what this means: I will have mercy, and not justice.” He was quoting the prophet Hosea.

    Like you, I freely partake of whatever I find worthy but I also partake of all the other religions too, even Islam!
    Since you like the divine music, I’ll leave you with this, other than Ave Maria my most sublime sound, a Russian choir singing Hallelujah.

  216. If a new high culture is arise in America in 500+, I strongly suspect that the mormon church will play the role of antagonist in it’s development.

  217. @Nastarana
    Speaking of national animals, it’s interesting to note the US, Russia and Mexico all use eagles in their coat of arms/great seal.

  218. Dear John Michael et al: What keeps me up at night more than the exhaustion of fossil fuels is the rapid depletion of fossil waters. The Ogalalla and Hueco aquifers are damned near tapped. Half (yes, half) of all California water supplies are uncharacterized as to extent or recharge capacity or time. As John Hargrave observed in “At Sulva Bay”, a thirsty person will trade a gold soverign for one canteen of water. I suspect that water shall be a limiting resource before3 oil depletion.

  219. Jason, thanks for this. I don’t make a fetish of getting offended, unlike some; I simply find a fair amount of the rhetoric on places like Counter-Currents dreary, as I would any other rehash of 19th-century pseudoscience. (The modern racialist scene has a lot in common with “creation science,” you know.) That said, it’s good to know that they’re paying attention to Spengler, who has a far more nuanced sense of the relationship among ethnicities, cultures, and history; there’s a lot they (and others, of course!) can learn from his vision of history. I certainly understand the desire for an identity that’s rooted in one’s own life and ancestry, and I know a lot of people of European origin have found a way to that via Heathenry; I also know — partly from a close reading of Spengler — that the guys who are talking about warband culture are moving toward the future, though they’re going to have to get a move on if they want their warbands to be ready to face the other, non-European warbands that have already finished the process of formation and are beginning to make their mark felt. One way or another, the future will be a rough road…

    Varun, yep. I think India’s Ring-Cosmos has very nearly finished a period of stasis and is about to tip over into another period of significant change. Still, we’ll see.

    Trlong36, that’s almost certainly what happened, because the modern concept of the biography did not exist at that time. The idea of writing what happened, instead of simply telling a story, seems to be mostly a habit of Faustian culture; it’s noteworthy that the great Greek and Roman historians, for example, routinely put speeches in the mouths of historical figures in situations when the historian had no idea what the figure said — I’m thinking here among other things about the stirring speech Agricola put in the mouth of a Pictish chieftain, whose actual words no Roman ever heard. So the evangelists, with the best will in the world, took collections of Jesus’ sayings and used them as the framework for stirring stories that made the points they felt Jesus’ life had made.

    Will O., I’d be writing for a very long time if I were to come up with a complete list. Very generally, though, the Roman Catholic church has a fantastically toxic leadership culture which puts protecting the church’s assets and personnel ahead of all other issues, and especially ahead of the well-being of church members; it also has severe problems with institutionalized sadism. (My wife went to a Catholic church and school in childhood and lived in a neighborhood with a Magdalen laundry, and her horror stories parallel the countless others that have come out in recent years.) Most of the liberal Protestant denominations, by contrast, have sold out completely to Atheism Lite — their clergy are by and large the least religious persons in the building of a Sunday morning, and have no idea how to help their parishioners establish a relationship with God, since they have no such relationship themselves; I’ve rarely felt as far from the divine as I have while seated in your common or garden variety American Protestant church, with the minister serving up warmed-over platitudes between doses of vapid music. The Unitarian churches I’ve attended are the extreme form of this — I tend to think of Unitarians as people who have the habit of sitting in pews on Sunday mornings but have forgotten why. The conservative churches I’ve encountered are divided between those that are honest in their faith and very poor, and those that are as spiritually dead as their liberal equivalents but very, very rich; some conservative denominations have sold out to political and economic interests to the extent that their version of Jesus is a wholly owned subsidiary of one of the Koch brothers’ holding companies. I could go on. Christianity in the US is a real mess just now; the bright spots to my mind are the Home Church movement, groups of Christians who meet in one anothers’ living rooms on Sundays to pray and study the Bible without benefit of clergy, and a scattering of middle-of-the-road churches that haven’t sold out to the shibboleths of Left or Right, and are still trying to preach and follow some semblance of the historic gospel.

    Ben, I suppose that would have been possible, but inventors had been tinkering with internal combustion engines for a while by the time that Benz got the first really effective one to work; Faustian culture loves its explosions and flames, and the gasoline engine is kind of a natural outgrowth of that! As for the Arctic, I expect the Arctic Ocean to be as central to a future era as the Mediterranean was in its day.

    Patricia, that seems very likely to me, but folk culture being what it is, you can bet that they’ll come up with reasons for the antlers!

    Hew, five centuries from now, if the Mormon Church exists at all, it’ll have become something almost unrecognizable — and I doubt it will exist. As the western half of the continent turns into uninhabitable desert and the next great age of migrations dawns, a lot of institutions of all kinds will get swept away.

    Gordon, depends on where you are. In the western half of North America, sure — that’s on its way to the same kind of uninhabitable desert it was during the last major warm period. Over here east of the Mississippi, paleoclimatological evidence shows that wetter conditions can be expected to endure, and energy rather than water will likely be the limiting resource.

  220. @Onething,
    Thank you for your replies! Firstenberg’s book is long, but easier to read than Lobaczewski’s, who probably translated his work directly out of Polish or Russian, the grammatical devices of which make subjects and a variety of types of objects clear, along with all adjectives pertaining to each. In Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, I ran across a sentence that stretched for a page and a half, if I recall right, perfectly lucidly. It sounds like you got a good understanding of Lobaczewski from your sister. In fact, a friend and I have a plan to translate his book into Japanese once we get finished with Firstenberg’s. Said friend is much more a perfectionist than I, which will be good to have. I’ll bulldoze through it, and then he can nitpick. In fact, we have discussed ways in which we might make it easier to understand, including adding a certain amount of manga. It might be worthwhile to take the whole finished thing and translate it back into English again. But that will be at least a couple of years from now.

    Lots of people have noted that research demonstrating various biological effects of EMF stretch back many decades, usually citing the 30s, when the Rouleaux effect of red blood cells clumping together in stacks was discovered to be caused by weak EMF. Firstenberg dug back much further, finding well documented cases of electric intolerance and a controversy around the use of electricity right from the start. In the mid-1700s, when Benjamin Franklin was experimenting (and apparently exhibiting some of the side effects) electricity was a novelty and considered a fluid of some sort, with different competing theories. It was tried out as a therapy, because it was clearly a “life force,” able to galvanize severed frog legs and so on. It seemed to work well for some people (and even with my sensitivity, I tolerate electrified acupuncture quite well), some people could not tolerate any dose, no matter how small, exhibiting headache, dizziness, tinnitus and a host of other symptoms familiar to electrosensitives, while others seemed to be completely insensitive to it at any level, exhibiting no effects whatsoever.

  221. @Varun

    A couple of hints. Pick the material that you use as reference more carefully.

    The Sadhguru video had a poor host. She interrupted over and over. Eventually he was allowed to speak and said all the right things. At first I gave up but went back later. (Amazing necklace if it is what I suspect. Wow.)

    The Rajiv Malhotra video had language and cultural barriers I couldn’t get past. You need to get more into the skin of the person you are attempting to communicate with. I do want his point of view but this can’t work for me. (The CC on the video is entertaining..)

    Hezbollah might have figured this out. Hassan Nasrallah’s speeches have dropped most of the prolonged Islamic verbiage and is easier for an infidel like me.

    I am learning a little more about the British in India and what came before. I knew the common Jewel In The Crown stuff. Not pretty. There are some videos on youtube that seem to tell it straight.

    So far the all in one country within ancient borders isn’t working for me. I see separate governments going their own way.

    I do understand the serfdom (if that is what it was) can be responsible and comfortable enough for everyone. What was it like in the many Kingdoms? Some good, some bad? When?

    As for Pramana I long ago noticed it is not always present in Indian archeology.

    Ignorance is curable. Help me. But don’t make it too hard.

  222. On one hand the coming upheaval spells doom for a lot of people. If the world is to transition from industrial mega-consumerism to anything more sensible resource-wise, quite simply a great many people are going to bite the dust. And of course there will be wars, annexations, oppression etc. Power vacuums are there to be filled after all. On a more positive note though, it seems like the coming decades will be fertile ground for many new cultures and religions to get their shot at history. Who knows, maybe with the right “cultural entrepreneurs” the Long Descent won’t be too traumatic.

  223. This discussion about future high cultures is quite intersting. There are some more or less general points which I would like to make about future, non-Faustian cultures.

    Firstly, since they are non-Faustian, they won’t be interested in the same kind of imperial and intellectual expansion like the modern West. Since the Mississippi/Ohio Valley and the Volga basin are quite far apart from each other, it is well possible that both cultures won’t be in touch with one another, except maybe via the Arctic.

    Secondly, there are a few cultural traits of the modern West, which are, ethnologically speaking, unusual, and which could conceivably be traced to Faustian ideas, like, for example, the desire to be isolate from each other, or the search for perfection.

    Among these traits are, by the way, some very specific Faustian projects which don’t have an equivalent in other known civilizations. Science fiction belongs there, for example. The idea and the search for the perfect Utopian society and the sometimes violent attempts to create one, with its disastrous and disruptive consequences are a special Faustian characteristic, whereas in other civilizations, there is a relative lack of such attempts. Among these utopian ideas, there is, for example, the idea to create an universal auxiliary language like Esperanto, Volapük and more than 500 other, mostly obscure projects (like Solresol, Babm, Ehmay Ghee Chah, Suma etc.). Here, too, other civilizations didn’t do such a thing, because, among other things, a civilization sooner or later make a lingua franca out of one of their languages.

    Thirdly, it is the modern West who has gone the farthest with sending missions to other celestial bodies (among others, the truly Faustian idea to send a probe to Pluto and Ultima Thule). Although China and Russia have, too, access to fossil fuels, and they their own space programs, their goals seem to be quite different. The Chinese treat their space program essentially as a show of technical ability; their moon program as a convenient stunt without further ambitions in the solar system. The Russians have solid rocket technology, but they, too, don’t at the moment place much weight on missions to far-off bodies except maybe Venus with Venera-D. This is compatible with the idea that Russia and China are, even today, their own cultures with a heavy overlay of Western pseudomorphosis.
    Since the future high cultures will be non-Faustian, they probably won’t do the aforementioned things, or at least do them in a very different way.

    A further idea that came my way is, that the modern Near East is itself under a Western pseudomorphosis, because of Western technologies and some Western ideas which they took over; but in the process, their cultures seem to heve become more or less dysfunctional. It is probable that the fall-out from this and the future rejection of that pseudomorphosis will play an important role in the future history of the Western half of the Old World.

  224. @JMG, so if wetter conditions are going to persist east of the Great Lakes, then is Nova Scotia a good place to ride out the on-coming trainwreck? I ask because I feel like staying in Toronto might not be a good idea and Nova Scotia is smaller and less developed, but will potentially have on-going issues related to coastal flooding and sometimes gets hurricanes.

  225. @ Dean

    We will have to disagree then. We are a federal republic of states and were designed as such, something quite evident in our history. The Preamble notwithstanding, an examination of the functional structure of the Constitution clearly shows it to be a union of states. For example, it is the states which ratify amendments and have the final say as to which are adopted and which are not, not a national referendum of the people. Representation in the Senate is by state, equality of which cannot be altered, even by amendment. Even representation in the House is allocated by state (that is, congressional districts do not cross state lines). States have their own sphere of power, sovereign unto themselves. The President is elected through the Electoral College, which is a function of the states. A state’s territory is inviolable and cannot be taken from it without its consent. These are not the characteristics of mere administrative districts.

    We are a patchwork quilt of several cultural nations held together by agreement on certain processes for governance. We are not, and have never been, a single coherent polity. As such, compromises were made in order to produce this nation. It is clear from the debates of 1787-1789 that the less-populous states had significant concerns about being steamrolled (to employ an anachronistic term) by the more populous states. Certain protections were afforded them and certain processes put in place to balance their power with respect to their larger brethren. This was necessary to obtain their assent to ratification. Now, you want to unilaterally change the rules? Without the due process afforded by the agreed-upon procedures?

    You argue that the popular vote should be used in Presidential elections. I say the electoral vote is the only vote that matters. I can point to Article II, as amended by the 12th amendment. Where in the constitutional text does it refer to the popular vote?

    When we’re playing a pick-up game of neighborhood football and we’ve agreed that the tree over there is out-of-bounds, it cannot suddenly be in-bounds when your team has the ball and uses it as an extra blocker.

    As John Adams said, “I am for the law.” Our society is held together by agreement on certain processes. We even have a process for altering those processes. If you wish to change how things are done, then use the agreed-upon mechanisms for doing so. Propose your amendments and get the required super-majority of Congress to pass them out to the states; or let’s call a convention, and we can meet on the debate floor of the convention hall to hash things out. The states will decide which proposals, if any, become law. But until then, the processes we have are the ones that will be used. The alternative is civil war, something I’d rather like to avoid. (This is yet another reason to my mind for having a “safety valve” and legal pathway for secession. I’d much rather have a republic of the willing than forcibly maintain an empire of the discontented.)

    Finally, I think the baseball analogy is quite apt. To win the Presidency, it is not just about how many votes you get, it’s also about where those votes are. In the World Series, it isn’t just how many runs you get, it’s also about when you get them. You may win the initial game in a 9-run blow-out, but if you proceed to lose the next four games by one-run margins, then the other team takes home the pennant and not you.

  226. Regarding secession, it has the benefit of removing the most troublesome, problematic, unsustainable parts of the country out of the Union. California has no future, and things will be pretty difficult for the next few centuries for the rest of the West Coast. Yes, that still leaves the mountain West and Great Plains, but they’re not nearly as overpopulated. The Eastern Seaboard doesn’t have it quite as bad, but still, sea level rise is going to be a persistent problem over the next however many centuries, and the Eastern Seaboard’s population is concentrated in coastal cities. Yes, the South will be affected by sea level rise, but there are only a few major cities outside of Fla. (New Orleans, Houston/Galveston, & Charleston) that will be affected–while most of the largest cities in the South are well inland (Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Raleigh-Durham, Atlanta, Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, Richmond, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Austin)

  227. My apologies beforehand.

    I find myself weeping in despair at the widespread lack of understanding of basic civics by people who ought to know better. Apparently, Susan Collins has “betrayed women all across the country” in her Kavanaugh vote.

    It isn’t her job to represent women across the country. Her job is to represent the citizens of the state of Maine. Just as Joe Manchin’s job is to represent the citizens of the state of West Virginia, which he more or less did. What anyone else thinks doesn’t matter. What I think of their votes, as a citizen of Wisconsin, is irrelevant.

    For crying out loud.

  228. Thank you JMG. It is interesting that I seem to learn more about my faith from a pagan Druid then from my own people. Thanks 😉

  229. @Onething – I don’t think I confused you with someone you are not. I read your words, they resonated. I appreciated them. I thanked you.

    There have been many occasions when I appreciated your words, and didn’t thank you (because if I did that for everyone whose words I appreciate in these threads, I’d be singlehandedly doubling their length.). In any case, I meant what I said. I appreciated the resonance, and also appreciated the brand new (to me) insight.

    Thank you.

  230. Dear Ben Johnson, It is my opinion that the Donkey has ceased to be a functioning political party at all and has instead become a vast patronage network. I submit that the watershed event which lead to this transformation occurred in the Nixon administration. Daniel Moynihan persuaded the president to send legislation to Congress which would replace “programs” with a guaranteed national income, or negative income tax, as it was also called. Nixon had himself grown up in poverty, and as a proud man he understood the humiliation of having to petition to some agency for relief. Despite RW rhetoric, I suspect he also knew that much if not most poverty in the USA is caused by factors beyond the control of the poor themselves, such as housing prices at the present time. The opposition which killed the plan came from…Democrats! Why? Because the “programs” were a jobs program for the more incompetent members of the upper and educated middle classes. If you weren’t smart enough to get through med school, ( let’s not even talk about engineering), or too lazy for law school, or didn’t fancy being cooped up in a classroom with 30 or so of someone else’s kids, you went in for poverty pimping, AKA public service. The Democratic leadership has shown over and over again that it will willingly lose elections if it can hang on one more cycle to it’s privileges and patronages. Open, whatcha goin to do about it, huh? theft of the nomination from the one candidate who really did have a good chance of winning the presidency is a case in point. The Dems have no leg to stand on, none, when they complain about the brutality of Republican tactics.

    Dear Jason P., If I may be allowed a bit of wild, mystical speculation here, I have long suspected that the true home of pale skinned and light eyed people is in fact the ocean–more specifically, the North Atlantic, it’s coastlands and islands. It seems to me indicative that migrants to Scandinavia from more southern climes are finding it difficult to adjust to cultures in which it is understood that all hands have to work hard and diligently during the warm months if the family or community is to survive the long winters, and nobody gets to indulge in lives of cultivated leisure. Denmark has lost patience with its’ guests and Norway and Sweden are losing theirs as well. I tend to think that in a few hundred years the coasts around the North Atlantic, including North America, and Europe north of the Alps and Carpathians will be mostly inhabited by pale skins who will farm the fertile valleys of North Europe and what is now Eastern Canada and what remains of the Eastern USA, and who will have become again what they once were, the world’s best blue water sailors. To further speculate, I think the languages will be Germanic and principles of both conservation and sustainability will be non-negotiable aspects of these future societies, enshrined in law and vigorously enforced, not for sentimental reasons, but because farmland, timber, and fish stocks will be badly needed. I suspect that other peoples, having at last learned caution, will not easily succumb to neo-Viking predation but neither will they feel entitled to pick up stakes and relocate without permission to the lands the neo-Vikings call their own.

  231. Tripp,

    This comment you made eloquently expresses what I’ve seen amongst the current crop of Democrats in government, and many of those who support them. I was in conversation yesterday and said that the Democrats keep acting like spoiled children, through hissy fits and temper tantrums when they don’t get what they want. Indulging in those actions is enough to make me want to vote a complete Republican ticket just so I can sit back and enjoy the entertainment. But the more astute point is that the Republicans are acting with a level of maturity (not at all times) in trying to achieve the outcomes they want, and that garners my, and likely others, respect. In political situations, that likely results in getting the votes you want.

  232. The comment of Tripp’s I was meaning to include but somehow neglected was this:

    “But they don’t shout, and scream, and throw tantrums about it, because doing so is a recipe for unleashing a sneering, condescending and incandescent hatred from the vocal minority that most of them have learned it’s better to just avoid. Doesn’t accomplish anything anyway. Instead they go to work within the constraints of the system that exists, quietly, knowing that that’s what’s required for victory. There’s a maturity and restraint there that has impressed me enough to convince me to join their effort – two things that the political left in this country has demonstrated a hideous paucity of.”

  233. The idea of a future civilization in the Pacific Northwest intrigues me. Seattle and Tacoma both rise high enough above the water that they will remain port cities even after the upcoming increase in sea level. Port facilities will need to be rebuilt, but future builders won’t need to start from scratch. This area is overpopulated, but the population will likely shrink in the future. All those tiny one-bedroom apartments in Seattle will stand empty when the tech companies die out. Plenty of work for the ruinmen.

    I wonder if we will see a vast nation stretching from Northern California all the way to Alaska, or if it will be a small Chinese or Russian vassal state hugging the coasts of Oregon and Washington? Either way, perhaps we’ll see tall ships sailing to Vladivostok, Tokyo, and Hong Kong.

  234. Re Dean and David,

    It is probably not useful to compare our electoral college process to several other democratic countries because the US is much larger, and is a confederation of states. As I pointed out last week, we are not yet really a people.

    If the election had gone to the candidate with the most votes, it would have been a different kind of unfairness. If you look at the geographical areas that Trump won, it was pretty overwhelming that most of the area of the country went for Trump. So, I think the electoral college worked as planned, and we did not end up with a tyranny of the populated areas.

    I also think the left has become dangerously disrespectful of lawful means.
    And, of course, I don’t think we really know who got the most votes as our ballot system is too easily hacked.

  235. @Nastarana: Good Lord. I had no idea–the notion of a UBI is really taking off among liberals my age, which makes me hopeful that the party will see some transformation going forward. But we’ll see.

    I find myself in an odd position with Kavanaugh. On the one hand, I think the man’s woefully unqualified, I believe his accusers, and I showed up at some protests–the Authority/Tradition axis John Roth refers to is very not my thing, or, in D&D terms, I’m in no way Lawful, and I, for one, don’t go into those hoping to change the minds of anyone in authority*. On the other hand, perhaps because I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid sexual assault and am a middle-class cishet white girl, I’m not nearly as upset as other people my age and inclination I see on social media: I figured he’d get confirmed, he did, I’m unlikely to be thrilled about his decisions but I’ll have to fight for the world I want to see on other levels in the near future, and meanwhile there are pastries.

    In general, despite being on the liberal side in most of the recent controversies, I’ve not generally found myself getting very upset about it. Things are going to happen; none of these things surprise me; if there’s a possibility of preventing them, I’ll work toward it; but I don’t particularly get my hopes up, and if I don’t get what I’d like, I have a drink or two and move on to the next thing. Not sure whether this makes me well-balanced or callous, and I suspect there are good arguments for either. 🙂

    *It’s a combination of preaching to the choir and, in my case, embracing my not-so-inner Mean Girl.

  236. @David, by the lake

    In linguistics, there’s a phenomenon called the entomological fallacy. It’s the idea that if a word meant something once, it means that for all time. The word decimate is the usual example. At one time, it meant to kill one tenth of a town, or military unit, or something.

    Today, it means to destroy enough to be almost, but not quite, complete. Only pedants say it means to destroy one tenth.

    At one time the United States was a union of free and independent States. Today? You can find people who think the world of their state, but many of us don’t. Free and independent? Don’t make me laugh.

    I was born in Illinois, spent six miserable years of my childhood in Hell (Michigan *), went back to Illinois, then spent time in Virginia, Illinois, California, Georgia, Illinois and now New Mexico. Do I care about the sanctity of statehood the way the Founders did? Absolutely not. The only way it matters to me is that it’s a level of government between the municipality where I’m currently living and the national government.

    When it’s obvious that most people don’t agree with a position, but the people benefiting from it block change, there is going to be serious trouble. That’s what’s going on with the Electoral College today.

    When the result of the Electoral College doesn’t match the popular vote, a lot of people are going to fell that the result is illegitimate. No amount of pointing out that the Founders intended for the system to work a certain way will change a single one of their minds.

    By the way – Michigan required everyone in either 7th or 8th grade to take a constitution test. I was the only one in the entire school to get 100% right. Do not tell me that I don’t understand the Constitution.

    (*) This is not to impugn the great state of Michigan; the problems were familial.

  237. To David and Trip and anybody else interested in this discussion, while I disagree regarding our President (and other things of course), I do not have the time or intent to engage now wrt to him, and feel that it is far removed from the subject of this article. JMG does request that posts be relevant to the topic at hand. I do want to add though that I do not live in a liberal urban area. Trump won the town I live in, barely, by a few percent. It is a very purple place in that sense and I think we get along pretty well here. My comments in this post about the Electoral College did not address Trump and I did not make any comments about why I think he won, though the role of the EC (whether one likes it or not) is kind of obvious. Although I am working in the Democratic Party this year, my background is in third party politics, so I certainly am not unaware of the Ds problems. I would not simplify it, suffice to say that 64 million people did not vote for him all for the same reason. There are economic reasons and there are cultural reasons and there are reasons that do not fit those two labels. But I think that a post dealing with decline in this country and how and where the next power will arise is really not the place.

  238. Hi John,

    Interestingly that the 2030 tipping point appears again, this time in the UN report on climate change. A theme is emerging here!

    Of course, there is no chance that the world will seriously reduce carbon emissions over the next 12 years, meaning that the 2030’s will be a dark decade for humanity.

    I discussed this in my recent blog post. The tragedy being that this was relatively well known even in the 1970’s!

    “During the spring of 1977 and the summer of 1978, the Jasons met to determine what would happen once the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doubled from pre-Industrial Revolution levels. It was an arbitrary milestone, the doubling, but a useful one, as its inevitability was not in question; the threshold would most likely be breached by 2035.”

    I’ve reached the tentative conclusion that whilst the world will largely, keep the business as usual political and economic order going until the end of next decade (although parts of the third world will be tipping into scarcity industrialism), it will only be the “perfect storm” of around 2030 that will truly tip the bulk of industrial civilization into a nightmarish decade, far worse then even the 1930’s.

    This report strikes me as very realistic… you get a real sense that humanity is on the brink of a systemic disaster as 2030 approaches. Terrifying to think that it is barely 12 years away.

  239. Trust surveys

    Norway has a temporary high per capita income and they know it is temporary and are investing for when their petroleum runs out.

    sad sweden. generous trusting trustworthy and grateful import the opposite as refugees. expect them to be like them. oops.


    2018 Edelman TRUST BAROMETER

    page 7
    Average trust in institutions,
    informed public, 2017 vs. 2018
    U.S. Trust Index crashes
    23 points

    page 12
    Percent trust in each institution, Trump vs. Clinton voters

    clintonites trust for media 61, trumpsters 27

    clintonites 22 points less government trust since election


    by Esteban Ortiz-Ospina and Max Roser

    Effect of religious affiliation on trust relative to no religious affiliation

  240. Honestly, it’s really a bizarre aberration of history that has put so many people in California and possibly other states. They’re way over their carrying capacity. So, as far as the Electoral College, if the Union makes it that far (and let’s pray that it doesn’t, for the negative influence the American dream exerts on the world), than a more ecological distribution of population will even things out.
    Speaking of California, one thing secession will do is allow the remaining Union to protect from “Calexodus”. As JMG has said, having secure borders and a willingness to defend them is vital. One of the tragedies of the South/Confederacy after the Civil War was that it was powerless to stop Yankee carpetbaggers who had nothing but contempt for the South. Of course, the logistics of all this immigration is a nightmare, as presumably anyone born in California pre-secession would be de facto an American citizen and free to move to the US, while anyone born after would be a California citizen, so I’m not sure how you could legally put a quota on pre-secession Californians born in California when it was still part of the Union.

  241. Wow, I had a few extra seconds, and If I can add one thing for Tripp, maybe you should not be putting me in that box. You don’t know me. You don’t know what I do or what I favor. You don’t know where I live or how I behave or what experiences I have. But you just made plenty of assumptions. You sound exactly like everything you are criticizing. I have no intention of responding to a rant like that. Thank you to David for a civil discussion. I wish we lived closer and could discuss things in person.

  242. @Prizm,

    ” I was in conversation yesterday and said that the Democrats keep acting like spoiled children, through hissy fits and temper tantrums when they don’t get what they want.

    The Republicans spent the entire 8 years of the Obama administration doing nothing BUT throwing hissy fits and temper tantrums when they didn’t get what they wanted.

    They threw hissy fits and temper tantrums over Trump during the campaign. He won, now they love him.

    Please let’s don’t imagine for one second that the Republicans are somehow the adults in the room, because they are equally as deranged and delusional as the Dems.

  243. Will Oberton said, “It is interesting that I seem to learn more about my faith from a pagan Druid then from my own people.”

    Yep, pretty much. I rejected my entire atheistic/materialist worldview after reading him for a few years…that’s more than 20 years of faithful Christian church attendance ever accomplished.

  244. JMG you said

    “Beekeeper, I’ve heard now from several people within the academic industry who’ve talked about very private studies arguing that in twenty years or so half of the universities in the US will have gone broke and shut their doors forever…”

    I’ll argue that high schools will follow. I think my elementary age boys will probably be among the last to complete free, public, traditional high school.
    They likely won’t go away altogether but will morph into some kind of abbreviated vocational training. Everyone will get K-5, many will get 6-8, but 9-12 will no longer exist as we know them today.
    It’s a domino effect. The end of growth lowers opportunities for educated professionals, so college graduates don’t get jobs, people stop going to college, and high school as college prep stops making sense for the vast majority of kids.
    The funny thing is, California is practically flogging high schools to graduate seniors ready to walk into UC and CSU campuses, even though that is NOT the future (as I pointed out), and even though the UC and CSU systems combined can’t accept more than a small fraction of them.
    Stop and consider the absurdity of making people pay for college and then legally forcing you to spend 4 years prepping for it through truancy laws.

  245. @Nastarana,
    regarding northern climes, will winters be that harsh w/global warming? I mean, if the gulfstream shuts down, that might send Europe into a deep freeze, but still, long term, I don’t know if anywhere will be that frigid in the future.

  246. Prizm,
    Indeed. Thank you. And I see their efforts picking up steam too! Certainly not melting away like the Dems like to daydream about.

    Mr. Greer painted a colorful picture in his diatribe about the recent miserable and inept Kavanaugh binding ritual performed by the so-called “Resistance” neopagans last week on his Dreamwidth account. The mental image of the Ctrl-Lefties all sitting on their kitchen floor holding their knees, rocking back and forth, muttering to themselves after Trump wins reelection in ’20 was something I will chuckle about for many years to come! Some things just deserve a permanent place in your mental jukebox…

    I highly recommend a read-through to anyone who hasn’t caught that conversation already:

    See ya, Prizm.

  247. @JMG: “I also know — partly from a close reading of Spengler — that the guys who are talking about warband culture are moving toward the future, though they’re going to have to get a move on if they want their warbands to be ready to face the other, non-European warbands that have already finished the process of formation and are beginning to make their mark felt.”

    Where do you mean, exactly? If it’s the Middle East and Africa, then I don’t see how one warband would meet the other. If it’s Mexico (though “non-European” in this context makes that less certain), then I don’t see that happening either.

  248. I’m sure it’s not like this in the blue-leaning gerrymandered districts, but I just stopped by the “Save Our Democracy” meeting on the other side of the public library where I’m typing this post. There were 5 people in there. Including the speaker. No joke. I do talks at the same library upon occasion, on mushroom cultivation/hunting and homesteading, and I usually draw at least 35 to 45 folks.

    They had the library staffers set out every chair the meeting room would hold, set up the mike, the projector screen, refreshments for a hundred, the works. Then 4 people showed up.

    Reminds me of a scene from Monty Python’s “The Life of Brian.”

    “No, no, that’s the POPULAR Front of Judea!”

    “What ever happened to the Popular Front?”

    “He’s over there…”

    I listened at the door for a minute and the lady talking was treating the problem as if were technological, for Pete’s sake! She had this fancy color-coded map of Georgia, different colors for different political regions, and was droning on about how internet access in rural South Georgia was inconsistent, and how big a problem that was for getting access to real news, which ostensibly would correct the mental retardation that allows people to vote for the likes of Donald Trump!

    Lady, you deserve your audience. All 4 of them.
    Y’all have lost your ever-lovin’ minds.

  249. Speaking of psyops, James Howard Kunstler brings up some very intriguing questions about Christine Blasey Ford, Ford’s ties to elements of the Deep State and what Trump has aptly described as “The Swamp”, and what was really going on during the Kavanaugh hearings. It will be very interesting indeed to see if more comes out about this story.

  250. JMG said (in answer to Will);
    “I tend to think of Unitarians as people who have the habit of sitting in pews on Sunday mornings but have forgotten why.”

    A lot of Unitarian-Universalists are coming up with a why: to turn the church into a activist community/political organization, especially stirred up when conservatives are in power. Strangely, when Democrats are in power they might comment if things are not going in a sufficiently “progressive” way, but not to such extremes as when Republicans run the show. This is largely why I have not been back to my local UU church for going on two years now; while I feel liberal/libertarian, most (not all) of them feel progressive/socialist, and expect anyone who joins them to agree, or be quiet. Sad. I had really hoped, right after I left evangelicalism, that UU might be a good place to explore different beliefs and philosophies for myself, and not have to conform to an official creed or statement of belief. How can a religion, who used to contain such diverse people as Stephen Fritchman, Communist* and Robert Welch, founder of the ultra-conservative John Birch Society**, become so rigid?


    Joy Marie

  251. David by the Lake–I second your opinion that senators are beholding only to the state that elected them. I really wish we could have a constitutional amendment forbidding campaign funding of any kind to cross district lines. In other words, no California money to candidates in Wisconsin, no Los Angeles money for assembly races in Sacramento, no out of state money to support or fight any propositions, etc. When anti-same sex marriage proposition was on ballot in California a few years back I was so angry about Roman Catholic and Mormon money from out of state, and demonstrators as well. I live by this rule and never contribute to efforts to elect a Democrat in New York or where ever. I don’t care if you are running an avatar of Athena–she’s not getting campaign contributions from me unless she runs for office in my state, my district.

  252. I just heard another young, “progressive” leaning Canadian envious of Chinese Communism for their ability to declare environmental/renewable goals w/out democratic consent. I’m thinking that the Chinese could be successful if they began a campaign to promote Communism in a post-American Canada. They certainly have the ties.

  253. Inohuri,

    The problem here is that you’re trying to look over a very wide, and very deep, cultural chasm without realizing that the lenses you’re using to catch glimpses of the other side of that chasm are tainted by your own preconceptions of cultural reason and values. Unfortunately I don’t have the time to help deconstruct your cultural presuppositions, while introducing you to the core rationality of Indian culture. That would take volumes, especially if you’re fighting me every step of the way.



  254. @ Nastrana – Your point continues to elude me. Political parties in the United States have, going as far back as Andrew Jackson at least, functioned as patronage networks. Even if I agreed with your assertion that all the Blue Team does is ‘poverty pimp’ for incompetent public servants, then they are at least successful at serving their patrons, since the number of Americans in public service has not gone down significantly over the last few decades. (That assumes that you include the non-profit sector as public servants, since the non-profit sector has largely replaced government bureaucracy at the state and local level for the provision of many public services). Also, my guess would be that a good many police officers, firefighter, public school teachers and DoT employees across the country would disagree that public service is the realm of the incompetents.
    More to the point, I actually agree with you that the Democrats are a spineless opposition party, but I disagree as to why. IMHO, the are spineless largely because they are paid to be spineless by the same mega-donors who pay the Red Team to win. We have no real opposition party in this country by big donor design.

  255. Here’s a weird bit of Trump Derangement. Most of this essay looks back with what I take to be gentle amusement at our superstitious ancestors who looked for clues to personality in the structures of faces. Who looks like a natural leader, or murderer, etc? And what did people make of face of Adolph Hitler? Then, we run across this paragraph which seems like it’s been pasted in from some different author (or at least, a different state-of-mind):

    Half of the United States looks at the face of Donald Trump and cannot believe that it is supposed to represent them. And half of the United States seems to look at this sallow, unhealthy, and time-ravaged frame, see the panicked flailing of the tiny-fingered hands, and recognize some version of themselves: Out of their depth, failing upward and ever upward on a warm cushion of unearned privilege.
    [and now, back to our story…]
    Where some saw in Hitler some version of themselves and were attracted to it, others rejected the Führer’s claims to leadership precisely because his face was so ordinary, so un-leaderlike. …

    It’s if an editor looked at a draft and said “this European history stuff is all well and good, but you need to make it relevant“.
    [author bio]
    Adrian Daub is professor of Comparative Literature and German Studies at Stanford University. He is the author of four books on German thought and culture in the nineteenth century

  256. Maybe this oil price spike will trigger our much-needed Depression. The last one should’ve triggered a Depression, and would have if not for QE (quantitative easing) and other shenanigans. Now, thank gods, we have a president open to the idea of default, and with a willingness to destroy the hallucinatory economy while protecting the real, tangible goods and services economy, so maybe we’ll get our Depression this time. Also, interesting to note, the last time, the American automakers almost went under, and government loans earned GM the nickname “Government Motors”. Will the American auto industry survive this spike, since no bailout is likely to come?

  257. @Trlong and JMG:
    The gospels certainly have the structure of myths in many points. One has to either believe this is the union of myth and fact, or assume myths were misplaced into a historical narrative. However, I don’t believe the gospels reflect simply contemporaneous story-telling tropes. I defer here to C.S. Lewis’ much better knowledge of Classical narratives; he said that e.g. the laconic statement in John 13:30 upon Jesus’ betrayal “en de nyx”, “As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.” had no parallel in earlier Greek texts.

  258. And why the sea is bubbling methane.

    Permafrost to change from carbon sink to source after mid 2020s.

    Long and detailed.

    The Understatement Of
    Existential Climate Risk

    Permafrost actual page 17

    note: Sea level rise will also float ice sheets. Water underneath both heats and lubricates which causes melting and break up which becomes melting. It feeds on itself for the low lying sheets and the ice that is below sea level but massive enough to not float.

    note 2: When ice melts the mass distributes planet wide. This causes shifts in gravity. The change in gravity distribution causes some areas to get more sea level rise and others less.

  259. Hi JMG, Thank you for this brilliant post.
    I have a question regarding to the future of Central Europe. Could the Danube basin expect a hopeful future like the Volga basin? Although, It may lie on the path of massive migrations and conflicts. Regards

  260. Prizm, yeah, if I were an American, I’d be voting straight R just to punish the D’s. The Kavanaugh circus was reason enough to do so. Kavanaugh is a neocon bush lackey who I have no love for, but if the lawfully elected president wants to appoint him to the Supreme Court through the established process, I don’t want to see unprovable/unfalisifiable allegations derail it.

  261. I have to say this, I’m not enamored of either the left or the right, they’re both acting infantile. I’m finding that this blog is increasingly leaning towards excusing the same behavior from the right that the left is called out (and rightly so) for. Many times the left has been called out for calling someone on the right “evil” but there’s total silence when the right does the same thing, even when Trump calls people on the left “evil” like he did just today. I don’t find any of the name calling and nastiness on the right any more “mature” than the actions of the left. I really don’t see any more “maturity” on the right than the left, they’re both whining little brats.

  262. @ Dean

    I would look forward to an excellent conversation, most assuredly. Or a debate on the floor of the convention hall 😉

    @ John R

    I didn’t say the states were “free and independent” under the Constitution. They were, until they joined under the Articles and surrendered a limited amount of that freedom to a federal government. Likewise, when the Constitution was ratified (or more technically, the Articles we’re ammended drastically), a similar arrangement was established: semi-sovereign states united in a federation with specific, limited powers delegated to a central government. That we’ve increasingly ignored that and turned it on its head in our march to empire and the ensuing centralization of the administrative state is, yes, a fact of history. Doesn’t change how the system was designed or what the Constitution actually says. Perhaps the states will push back one day, collectively, which they have the right to do by calling a convention — I hope to see that, if only to witness the uncomfortable squirming in the imperial capital as the powerbrokers realize they’ve been cut out of the loop.

  263. @ John R

    I would agree that “meaning” is central here. The Constitution only has authority because people believe it to have authority. Once that trust is ruptured, the Constitution is merely an old scrap of parchment with nice-sounding words. If we are to be a rules-based society, then the agreed-upon rules must be acknowledged, including how those rules are changed. We don’t have to be a rules-based society, of course, and arbitrary governance is certainly an option. Both parties are in a frantic race to undermine that foundation of trust in their myopic quest for tactical advantage, which is why we are where we are.

  264. @ Rita

    FWIW, were I a delegate at a future constitutional convention, I would most certainly vote in favor of forwarding such an amendment to the states for consideration.

    @ Dean

    Also FWIW, I’d argue that, for the US, our less-unpalatable paths forward in this trajectory of decline and fall include a reversion to a looser, more decentralized form of federalism (either along the lines of the original construct of the Constitution or even perhaps a half-step back towards the Articles of Confederation) and the vigorous, pro-active dismantling of this bureaucratic administrative state and empire. So to that extent, such discussions would be relevant to this blog and post, if tangential. But it is time for another dose of Cos Doc, so we’ll have to wait for a more appropriate week 🙂

  265. Well, I do appreciate your pointers. I’ve read books I’d never heard of, e.g. Spengler, which took a long time, because I am busy acquiring skills potentially useful in an era of decline, i.e. Green Wizardry.
    You manage to succinctly sum up and document the ideas I’ve suspected but haven’t had the time or energy to research in years.
    I wonder if you’ve noticed something I’ve been seeing, lately, viz., the increasing frequency of mainstream media (at least in Canada), known journalists, and senior politicians to express the idea of a collapsing American Empire?
    Amy Chau expresses hope for a middle-ground in her recent book “Political Tribes” which matches your description of the current political climate, whereas Chris Hedges just recently published his book, “America, the Farewell Tour,” which covers the same ground as yours with a rather more pessimistic conclusion. I’ve seen recent articles in The Atlantic, in The Toronto Star, and The National Post that allude to the idea, and now a recent book by former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien made headlines when he says rise of ‘unspeakable’ Trump marks end of the American empire.
    The first point of note, is the increasing use of the phrase American Empire – an admission that there exists one in the first place, something which was vigourously, and explicitly denied up until a decade ago – and the second is that the intractable opposition by the almost-warring factions coupled with the rise of a strong-man is a hallmark of imminent collapse.
    I’d observe that here, because we have never quite collapsed into just two opposing factions, but have — barely — managed to maintain a multi-party political climate, we have just experienced the meteoric rise of alternative Parties in recent Provincial elections in New Brunswick and especially Quebec. I haven’t quite decided what that means, but it most assuredly is not the end of times, despite the “left” screaming accusations of racism, nor the “right” screaming accusations of socialism about these Parties. It seems the Centre – at least here – is taking back control with actual policy decisions instead of mere tribal adherence.
    Interesting times, indeed. When people compare the fall of the American Empire to the fall of the Roman Empire, I find there is a convenient omission that the Eastern Roman Empire continued on for another 1000 years after Odoacer and the fall of the Western Roman Empire, which, itself, went through three phases (that I can call off the top of my head) and managed to last 1000 years before that, so there is some hope that things might continue on.

  266. RE: Left Immaturity

    The Republicans are not any better than the Democrats. There are definitely two sides to the same coin. During the Obama years, the actions of some of the Republics were childish as some resorted to shady tactics to try to undermine Obama. Overall, the actions of Republics during that period were not near as consistent, shrill, or loud as what we are currently seeing. The entire media were not all in a seeming conspiracy to overthrow the elected representative and all his actions. As we’re all familiar with, every action gets a reaction. The current action of the left establishment has been loud and obnoxious, echoed from every corner of the country, and even regurgitated in places of sanctity. The actions have been done in such a manner that one cannot help but react to it. That is why there is a seeming right/conservative presence amongst the community here. Many people are leaving the Democratic establishment. And many who were walking the fence have now been pushed to other side. It is a natural reaction. And it is one which as the dust settles will result in an equilibrium.

  267. While this is very late, there is an interesting article in the Atlantic this morning on how the country is actually divided politically. For example, 80% of the population dislikes political correctness, while 82% of the country dislikes racism. The only people in favor of political correctness are the 8% or so that are progressive activists. The people mocking political correctness so they can spew racist hate don’t have all that much traction.

    There’s a lot more meat on this one – but you’ll never find out about it by watching either the MSM or the right-wing media.

  268. Flow,

    It may be too late for JMG to reply this week but this has been discussed here before.

    The warbands are the central and south American drug gangs like MS-13. In Europe, they’re the variety of jihadist groups to our south and east, throughout Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus and south Asia. They formed in the borderlands of our civilization and are now making their mark felt within it, just as the barbarians did in Rome.

    European warbands will (in theory) meet the jihadist ones. American warbands will (in theory) meet the central and south American ones. The guys talking about warbands are either Europeans proper or Americans who are mostly European by ancestry and ethnicity. In future the warbands are likely to also include more Americans and Europeans who are of non-European ethnicity. That already happens to some degree in the proto warbands that we have.

    The ‘meeting’ in question will happen because the warbands are already in Europe and the US doing what they do, thanks to our immigration policies, and the Volkerwanderungen have only just gotten started.

  269. @Varun

    You will probably never read this.

    I understand that I have been dismissed.

    My efforts to reduce my cultural lenses are insufficient. They never fit well anyway and would often slip off. I am the one who speaks to strangers and natives.

    And then there is my life long problem with asking questions like “Why has the emperor no clothes?”.

    Even worse I am slow at picking up social cues while being aware of emotions and intentions. I sometimes have the ability to stand back, look and see what is really there.

  270. @David, by the lakeye
    You’re right, of course. The phrase “free and independent States” comes from the Lee (Lee-Adams) resolution, which starts “These United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States.” That was approved July 2nd, and is the actual resolution creating independence. The Declaration is a statement of reasons and aspirations that was written in support of the Lee-Adams resolution.

    Certain portions of the Constitution have stood the test of time quite well, other portions not so much. Notice that there were, ignoring the Bill of Rights, exactly two amendments between the adoption and the Civil War, for a rate of one every 35 years or three per century, After the civil war we have a dozen or so, which is a rate of one every 13 or so years, or 7 per century. Something needs a re-think.

  271. Fascinating. Good insight about how difficult it is and equally about how important it is to see the ebb and flow, cycles and trends over centuries of human history.

    I am less reliant on historical precedents when I think about long term trends. I think the future is built on conditions from history but is less likely to repeat its patterns. I know your mantra: “It’s not different this time”, but you haven’t convinced me. First, when humans discovered ways to navigate and communicate around the entire globe, the trajectories of empires and cultures changed. Cultural development and cycles on a flat plane are just fundamentally different than development on a closed sphere. Second, when humans discovered modern science (slowly over several millenia, but with a dramatic burst in Europe in the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries), it changed the intellectual tools with which cultures evolve. Now in addition to the patterns of evolution which have shaped cultural changes on time scales of millions of years, and tinkering based religious and technological change which shaped cultures on time scales of millenia and centuries (think monotheism, stone tools, brick making, bronze metalurgy, writing, etc.) there is intentional technology change at a much more rapid rate. An additional quirk is that at the same time the scientific synthesis solidified in the 19th and 20th century, we discovered reserves of stored fossil energy that allowed expansion and growth at a rate rarely seen in human (or any other) history.

    I see a global culture that worships technology and growth that has arisen intermixed with what you call Faustian and Magian cultures. And it is this new culture (not the Faustian one) that is imploding in front of us. Your blog has been a great place to explore the causes of this implosion. Resource depletion is part of it, but I think other negative consequences of technological change and growth are equally important. Add in ignorance about the deep cultural values and habits from earlier cultures that remain beneath techno-growth culture and you are well on the way to understanding the modern crisis. The great question is what will follow.

  272. The reason that in the past, the next culture and civilization has often arisen around the periphery of the previous one, rather than in the same territory as its core, may be resource depletion, such as soil fertility, mineral resources that are accessible with the technology of the day etc.
    I would concur with Greg that it could be different this time, because the globalised era has taken resource depletion global, with resources extracted from regions far from the core territories of the ‘Faustian’ civilization. This has largely not been the case in the past, although perhaps Roman grain imports from North Africa are a counterexample? If our civilization goes through a collapse or a “Long Descent” then whatever one comes next may have little access to metals and minerals other than salvage of our ruins, since the easy to extract and process ores were extracted first by ourselves. The exception could be those areas that were under ice sheets.
    I am not sure how long the climate would stay warm if CO2 emissions from fossil fuels largely cease by the end of this century, but while the greenhouse climate lasts certain areas could be uninhabitable torrid zones, where humans can’t live without artificial cooling due to the occurance of ‘wet bulb’ temperatures of 35°C/95°F or more. An adaptability limit to climate change due to heat stress – Steven Sherwood + Matthew Huber (2010). This could impede future civilisations developing in tropical regions.

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