Not the Monthly Post

The Twilight of the Intelligentsia

I promise, I didn’t time this sequence of posts so that this one would come out the morning after one of the most bitterly fought midterm elections in memory.  Nor, of course, did I have advance notice of the outcome, though it wasn’t a surprise to me that the much-ballyhooed “blue wave” would flop as badly as it did.  In place of the sweeping rejection of Trump’s presidency that the Democratic Party called for, the usual first-term midterm reaction that brings the minority party back into power in Congress gave the Dems only a thin majority in the House of Representatives. Meanwhile they lost badly in the Senate, where an expanded Republican majority can continue to ratify Trump’s judicial nominees and block any attempt to use the constitutional mechanism of impeachment to remove him from office.

In the weeks ahead we’ll doubtless see any number of attempted analyses of what did or didn’t happen in the midterm elections, spinning an equivocal election to support one or the other side of a savagely divided electorate. Popcorn vendors will have plenty of business as those of us not committed to either of these two contending forces watch the posturing from a comfortable distance. Back beyond the momentary passions of politics and personalities move broader forces, and it’s important to try to sense those now, as the smoke of the election clears and it becomes possible, for those who are willing, to look past the present moment and catch some glimpse of the deeper cycles of history in which elections play a transient role.

So far in this series of explorations we’ve used the insights of Oswald Spengler as our primary framework for understanding these deeper shapes of history, and I’d encourage those of you who are following along to keep Spengler’s basic concepts in mind as we proceed. This week’s post, though, will draw a little more heavily on another student of historical cycles, Spengler’s English rival Arnold Toynbee. In his massive twelve-volume work A Study of History, Toynbee took up Spengler’s comparative method and applied it with encyclopedic scope to the history of every culture on which he could assemble adequate data.

The overall theory that Toynbee derived from his study is to my mind less convincing than Spengler’s, but then he had a much larger personal stake in the question than Spengler did. Where Spengler supported himself quietly as a high school teacher and pursued his polymath’s banquet of studies in deliberate obscurity, Toynbee was a member of Britain’s governing caste, working as the managing secretary of a prestigious nonprofit with close ties to the British governments of his day, and his historical research was carried out with the support of elite groups in Britain and America. Spengler could look calmly at Britain as a fading Athens, eclipsed by a Rome he thought would most likely be located in either New York or Berlin; Toynbee backed away from so ruthless a clarity, and retreated into handwaving at exactly the point where Spengler went forward to his (so far, mostly successful) predictions.

When it came to the fine details, though, Toynbee was the more precise and thus in many places the more useful. He noted the phenomenon that Spengler called pseudomorphosis—the process by which a rising culture takes on the political, economic, religious, and social forms of an older and more prestigious culture—and took it apart, examining the whole range of encounters between civilizations in space and time. In the process, one of the things he highlighted was the role in such encounters of an intelligentsia.

That’s a Russian word originally, by the way, but it came into being—as plenty of words in many languages come into being—by taking a word from one language and slapping onto it a grammatical suffix from a different language. This is roughly the process by which an intelligentsia comes into being, too. The intelligentsia, in Toynbee’s terms, are those people who belong to one culture but who are educated in the ideas, customs, and practices of another.

That can happen because the first culture is conquered by the second, and the new overlords proceed to impose their own cultural forms on their new domain; it can also happen because the elite classes of the first culture, in order to compete in a world dominated by the second culture, adopt the second culture’s ideas and habits as far as they can. For an example of the first category, think of the native schoolteachers and minor bureaucrats recruited by European colonial empires all through the nineteenth century; for an example of the second, think of those Third World nations today that have parliamentary democracies, build skyscrapers in their capitals, and outfit their elite classes in business suits and neckties.

The intelligentsia are the foot soldiers of pseudomorphosis. They’re the ones whose task it is to take the foreign cultural forms they themselves have embraced and impose them, by persuasion or force, on other members of their society. There are inevitably sharp limits to how far they can take this process; there is always pushback, and since the intelligentsia are always a fairly small minority the pushback can’t just be brushed aside. That’s where you get the standard pattern of a colonial society, with a cosmopolitan elite class (either foreign or native), a native intelligentsia aspiring to a cosmopolitan status they will never attain, and the vast and sullen laboring classes that regard with smoldering hostility both the intelligentsia and the foreign culture it promotes.

The position of the intelligentsia, privileged as it is, has its bitter downsides. On the one hand, they are hated and despised by the members of the vast and sullen laboring classes just mentioned; on the other, they can never quite win the approval of the foreign elites whose ways they so sedulously imitate. Neither fish nor fowl nor good red meat, the intelligentsia are caught in the gap between cultures, and within the limits of the worldview that emerges in a colonial society, there’s no way out of their predicament: they never succeed either in converting the masses to the ways of the foreign culture they’ve embraced, on the one hand, or in being fully accepted by the people who belong to that foreign culture on the other.

What breaks they intelligentsia out of their predicament, rather, are precisely those things that they fear most. To begin with, there’s personal failure. It so happens that, as I noted a few months back, it’s normal for the education system of a mature society to train far more people for managerial positions than the society’s institutions can absorb. In a society of the kind we’re discussing, the numbers of the intelligentsia inevitably balloon far beyond what the job market for schoolteachers, minor bureaucrats, and other similar positions can take in. The result is an explosive far more dangerous than mere dynamite: an educated underclass that has been cast aside by the system, after its members have been trained in all the skills necessary to understand their position and organize opposition to the existing order of things.

Then there’s the second factor, which is that no dominant culture retains its dominance forever. One way or another, the high tide of political power and cultural charisma is always followed by the running of the waters back out to sea. As the dominant culture loses its ascendancy, the intelligentsia no longer has a ready market for its only stock in trade, and the pushback from the laboring classes gains in strength.

The first thing that happens then is that the educated underclass, composed of people who have been trained for the intelligentsia but failed to claw their way into the jobs for which they have been prepared, makes common cause with the laboring classes. Look at the twilight years of Europe’s Third World colonies and you’ll find that dynamic at work. What pushes things over the edge into rapid change is that members of the intelligentsia who aren’t part of the underclass, who got the good jobs and the prestigious positions under the colonial regime, notice what’s happening, weigh their options, and side with the underclass and the masses. You’ve probably heard of a man named Mohandas K. Gandhi; read the first half or so of any good biography of him and you’ll see that dynamic written in letters ten feet tall.

This, in turn, brings us back to the theme I’ve been pursuing in recent weeks. North America and Russia are still, culturally speaking, European colonies; the elite classes in both nations ape the fashions and habits of wealthy Europeans just as sedulously as do the elite classes of so many Third World nations; the architecture of both nation’s major cities, the art forms the urban elites consume so avidly, even the clothing styles on display, are all European inventions. That’s par for the course in cultural colonies or, to put the same thing in Spengler’s terms, in societies under the influence of pseudomorphosis from a dominant culture.

It doesn’t actually make that much of a difference that political power slipped out of the hands of European elites most of a century ago, and they and their nations play second fiddle to the rulers of the really important nations. The same thing happened more than two millennia ago when Greece fell under Roman domination. Roman patricians still vied with one another to parade their knowledge of Greek culture, and decorated their villas with statues bought in Greece the way American millionaires used to snap up the European paintings that decorate art museums in Pittsburgh and Omaha today. The cultural charisma of the older society remains in place, at the level of the privileged elite and the intelligentsia that members of the elite hire and fire at will.

As I’ve never lived in Russia, and my exposure to Russian culture mostly involves literature written by dead people, I can’t state from personal experience how precisely the colonial structure of society fits what’s going on there. Here in America, on the other hand, I’ve got the advantage of lifelong residence spent in a variety of regions, and the match is exact. We’ve got our cosmopolitan elite class, wallowing in the absurd displays of extravagance common to any empire in its diminuendo phase; we’ve got our intelligentsia, caught in the usual bind, fretting at their exclusion from the classes above them, and unable to convince the classes below them to adopt the European ideas and habits that are their only stock in trade; and we’ve got the vast and sullen laboring classes who regard the intelligentsia and their ideas with the usual mix of hatred and contempt, and whose pushback against the pseudomorphosis being thrust on them has become a political fact of immense importance.

The American intelligentsia, it’s worth noting, has been caught up in a specifically European pseudomorphosis for as long as there’s been an American intelligentsia. The specific focus of their dreams has shifted over the course of its history, to be sure; from colonial days to the beginning of the twentieth century, members of the intelligentsia here aped the English; during the first two-thirds or so of the twentieth century, France was the usual focus of such obsessions—I’m thinking here among many other things of the wry offhand comment by British author Somerset Maugham, in his novel The Razor’s Edge, that France was where good Americans hoped to go when they died.

These days it’s usually the Scandinavian countries that provide the model on which members of the American intelligentsia consciously or half-consciously model their dreams of what they want the United States to become. (It’s a habit that my Scandinavian friends find baffling, for whatever that’s worth.)  A few years ago a book, The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia by Michael Booth, tried to disabuse readers in the English-speaking world of their habit of idolizing the Nordic countries; as far as I can tell, it didn’t accomplish much, and if it had, the people at whom it was aimed would simply have found some other European country to hold up as an ideal.

In America, it’s essential to the self-concept of the intelligentsia to pretend not to be American, and to make a studied show of contempt for their own cultural and ethnic background. That’s how they prove to themselves that they don’t belong to “those people,” the ordinary Americans the intelligentsia love to despise. (I’m old enough to remember when the words “those people,” spoken by middle- and upper middle-class white people with exactly the same tone of voice and curl of lip, invariably meant people of color; the fact that it now means white working class people is a useful testimony to the way that class bigotry has supplanted racial bigotry as the prejudice du jour among our privileged classes.)

The difficulties faced by the American intelligentsia in their hopeless quest to Europeanize the United States, however, go beyond the usual factors that render such projects exercises in futility. Crucially, at the ideological core of European civilization lies the conviction that all human history is a prelude to Europe; that what Europe is now, all other societies will inevitably become; that Europe is uniquely modern, and any society that isn’t copying Europe down to the fine details is backwards and needs to catch up to the cutting edge of the future, which is (again) Europe. No doubt that’s very comforting to believe, but it doesn’t happen to be true.

The pervasive confusion that equates “European” to “modern” and consigns everything else to a notional past, is an immense barrier to understanding just now. Europe is what it is, and has the habits it has, because of the immense legacy of a couple of millennia of extremely idiosyncratic history. Wherever that history didn’t happen, the forms of European culture form a shallow veneer over a very different substrate, and show no signs of taking deeper root. It’s essential to the worldview and the self-concept of the American intelligentsia that this should not be the case, since their worlds revolve around the conviction that someday Arkansas will have the attitudes and cultural habits that Boston has today—by which time, of course, Boston will presumably be indistinguishable from a European city, or more precisely from the fantasy of what a European city ought to be that haunts the American intelligentsia’s collective imagination.

Now of course the cities of Europe, even those in Scandinavia, don’t have much in common with the fantasy just indicated. Europe is going through its own hard transition right now, driven by conflicts of a sort we also have over here—the inevitable struggle, discussed at some length by Spengler, between elitist plutocracy disguised as democracy on the one hand, and populist Caesarism backed by the masses on the other. (May I risk a spoiler?  In the long run, this isn’t a struggle the plutocrats can win.) But there’s another factor, and it’s the one that we discussed last week: the pervasive link, hard to define but perilous to ignore, that binds a civilization to the broad region in which it arose.

Here in the United States, it’s not hard to catch the difference between those regions that were part of the preindustrial European world, such as the old coastal settlements of the Atlantic seaboard, and the vast hinterlands left all but untouched until Europe had finished its cultural development (in Spengler’s view, this happened around 1800).  As the Eagles sang back in the day, in Providence “the old world’s shadows hang heavy in the air;” walk the streets of Providence today and you’ll taste something distinctly half-European in the ambience there. You can feel it even more strongly in old towns such as Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which were spared the ravages of twentieth-century urban renewal.

Go west into the mountains or beyond them and that vanishes utterly.  What replaces it is a sense of something still raw and unformed, moving in the dark silent soil under the strip malls and subdivisions, reaching clumsily as yet toward some fulfillment whose shape has not yet become clear. That’s something that writers and poets have been sensing in the American land for a couple of centuries now. Back in the days of frontier expansion, that sense got taken (or in my view, mistaken) for an awareness of the vast potential of the European-American settlement; later, in the heyday of US empire, it got tangled up in a collective daydream that saw an Anglo-American imperium as the Universal State that would bring peace to a Europeanized world.

The frontier closed a century and a quarter ago and the temporary hegemony of the United States over most of the world is cracking around us as I write this, but I’ve felt the same thing stirring as I’ve walked various corners of the American land: the “Buffalo Wind” that Ernest Thompson Seton wrote about so movingly in his essays, the sense of a land pregnant with the future that Robinson Jeffers explored just as powerfully in his verse. I’ve never had the chance to walk along the Volga and see if something parallel stirs in the earth and the wind, offering a foretaste of another great culture on its way to manifestation—but I’d be willing to bet that it’s there.

The political convulsions we’re witnessing right now in the United States are part of the process by which the European pseudomorphosis will be shaken off.  That a large part of our intelligentsia is appalled by this comes as no surprise, though I’m not sure why so many of them seem to think that a nonstop tantrum of the sort made famous by spoiled two-year-olds is a meaningful or effective response to it. (I suppose it’s mostly that acting out has become fashionable in avant-garde circles these days.)  They’re going to have many more opportunities for shrieking in the years ahead, and some opportunities for celebration as well; the process we’re discussing isn’t something that will be accomplished in a few years, or even in a lifespan, but to judge by the evidence of history, it will play out in the usual fashion, in something fairly close to the usual time scale.

We live in the interval between a death and a difficult birth. We’ll talk in future posts about some of the way the rest of that interval may play out.


By the way, there’s been a running conversation about vaccination during the last few posts on this blog, and though I’m glad to provide a space for controversial topics to be discussed in a polite fashion, it’s getting way off topic at this point. I’ve therefore established an open post on my Dreamwidth journal on this topic, and all further discussion about vaccination should go there. Thank you!


  1. “I’m not sure why so many of them seem to think that a nonstop tantrum of the sort made famous by spoiled two-year-olds is a meaningful or effective response to it.”

    I wonder if this is a sign of the emotional maturity level of our society….

  2. “the architecture of both nation’s major cities,”

    I was recently thinking about how alien neo-classical, neo-gothic etc. architecture is in the Americas (North and South). Older universities often have buildings that recreate something from Cambridge or Oxford.

    In the mountains and plains of North America, however, the most appreciated aesthetic is arguably a loghouse with antlers on the wall and fresh fish frying in an iron pan atop a wood fire, testifying to the spirit of hard work and success on the frontier. Plaid shirts, not suits. Leather boots, not dress shoes. Hand carved sculptures of wildlife, not Rubens.

    I think this is why “cabin culture” is regarded as an enjoyable escape from a world that is really quite alien to most people materially and spiritually.

  3. Solzhenitsyn wrote: ‘The highly underrated and deeply sincere Gleb Uspensky, an astute observer of peasant life in the post-reform period … cites Herzen’s lengthy quotation about a mysterious power preserved by the Russian people, a power which Herzen nevertheless does not attempt to define. Uspensky does: it is the *rule of the land*, and it is this rule which gave our people patience, humility, strength, and youth; take it away and there is no people, no national world view, only a spiritual void. The people survived two hundred years under the Tatars and three hundred years of serfdom because it maintained its agricultural way of life. This rule of the land held the peasant in obedience, developed in him a strong family and social discipline, kept him from pernicious heresies; the despotic rule of the earth-mother went together with her “love” for the peasant, thus easing his labour and making it the prevalent task of life.’ (The Russian Question, p. 54)

    I still maintain that Calvin & Hobbes is authentically American. I note that the author grew up, and the strip is set, in Ohio, on a river town.

    I found an interesting book today, released last year, called ‘Holy Rus’. It’s by an American Protestant who travelled to Russia a bunch of times over the last 10 years to understand Orthodoxy’s growth. It seems interesting, both for its portrayal of Orthodoxy today and for a view of how an American sees Orthodoxy. The last paragraphs tell how he is incredulous when a couple who have lost their faith still plan to get their baby baptized – because Orthodoxy speaks to them about justice, beauty, and truth.

    I take it you think Protestantism etc is part of the European influence – or does it go deeper? The individualist tinge, after all… I notice the National Cathedral is… Protestant!

    Do you think that, rather than splitting apart violently over the next few decades, there could be an Augustus-like figure who subdues the elites, placates the masses, and keeps the whole behemoth rumbling along for a while longer?

  4. Hello again,
    I’ve asked a similar question before but, while I like to think I’m reasonably intelligent, I tend to be very, very literal, which means I’m not good at poetry and, I suspect, magic, but how is it that something like the druid revival, which very much has European roots, transplants to America tolerably well, in light of it being very different soil? Sorry if this is tangential to the topic, but I’m still at a loss as to how to connect with this ‘something still raw and unformed, moving in the dark silent soil’; being recovering intelligentsia myself. Many thanks!

  5. Considering how an individual deals with internal struggles, especially in our society today, gives me the impression that there will likely be a lot of conflict as we pull away from the intelligentsia and start forming our new identity. With good leadership, who recognizes that this is a transformative period, a lot could be accomplished. With the death of my grandmother fresh on my mind and using that as a metaphor, the passing away event was long and drawn out, especially with the addition of morphine making the process slow down and moments of clarity fewer. It is no wonder that many people are in fear and cannot name the fear. It is subconsciously lurking. Few people want to name it. Even fewer want to deal with it.

  6. The fascination with Scandinavia has always struck me as odd, even with a good deal of Scandinavian ancestry! For whatever it’s worth, for some years I’ve looked towards Latin America as the cutting edge of cultural cool — magical realism strikes me as way cooler than almost any other literature produced in the past 75 years. In fact, in Argentina I met a young Dane, who had brought his Scandinavian self to Buenos Aires to learn Spanish well enough to read Borges in his original castellano porteño.

    That said, the intelligentsia really does have serious problems. Part of the issue is that, it appears that given Faustian Culture’s love of prosthetic technologies has, at least in North America, often creates a uniquely daft and useless intelligentsia, at least in my experience. I’ve labored with the laboring classes and I’ve discussed philosophy with the intelligentsia, and the intelligentsia really are the ones who tend to start whipping out their cell phones to show videos of kittens playing, and then lolcat memes etc. The laboring classes much more frequently listen politely to complex ideas and speak in ways that demonstrate that they’re paying attention and have thought things through.

    That is to say, I’ve been almost uniformly disappointed by the intelligentsia. On top of the all too frequent daftness I’ve observed for a marked hypocrisy. The American intelligentsia have paraded around as bohemians for some time in the past, but now it seems that they increasingly won’t even talk with me! It’s so weird; I’m just excited to chat about cool literature and art and the people who seriously want to live in Sweden often won’t even look me straight in the eye. Perhaps they are a bit shaken by someone who looks like a nonconformist, afraid that a social better might see them and they’d get into trouble. Still, it tends to be those who embrace their Americanisms that are nice to me, which again I find very interesting, especially given the prevailing narratives. It helps me to understand young Gandhi a little more; weighing my options I know who has tended to be nicer to me and more supportive!

    Lastly, I guess also, here in America at least, that there are different ways to relate to the legacy of Western Civilization; one can slavishly learn the correct tropes so one can please one’s social betters, or one can be drawn to it through the promptings of one’s Tamanous. People relate to, say, discussions of Darwin very differently when behind the words lies a personal interest, rather than an attempt to brow-beat people into the correctly European ways of thinking.

    Unrelated, but I’ve been really busy lately and have been unable to respond to a lot of comments. I wish to say, you’re welcome to Heather, Temporaryreality and Prizm — I’m glad you found my thoughts and/or quotations useful!

  7. “Crucially, at the ideological core of European civilization lies the conviction that all human history is a prelude to Europe; that what Europe is now, all other societies will inevitably become; that Europe is uniquely modern, and any society that isn’t copying Europe down to the fine details is backwards and needs to catch up to the cutting edge of the future, which is (again) Europe.”

    Just to add a little touch of irony to your observation about the assumed inevitability of “becoming Europe”: I just watched a couple of videos from Venice Italy – in one, waiters and guests in a restaurant all wear rubber boots to navigate the knee deep water that floods the entire room; in the other a major marathon is being run through the same flood waters. Seems to be an agreement among all parties to simply refuse to acknowledge the changed environmental reality – to treat the new normal as normal. As we catch up to this particular future, will the residents of North American coastlines prove capable of the same disconnect?

  8. John–

    How would you describe the “the fantasy of what a European city ought to be that haunts the American intelligentsia’s collective imagination,” as you fascinatingly describe it? Or more broadly, the fantasy which the American intelligentsia is pursuing?

    I’d consider myself — at least in terms of economic class — a member of that group, but I don’t know that I can identify such a notion in my own perception. (Not that it isn’t there; it may very well be so much a part of my lens that I can’t readily see it.)

    Re the midterms, an interesting night. Yes, the next two years will be very good for popcorn sales…

  9. Pseudomorphosis unquestionably describes the process by which surviving Native Americans, including southern peoples enslaved by and genetically mixed with the Spaniards, came to speak European languages, dress like Europeans, etc. However, the dominant white majority in the U.S. is not a pre-existing population that was imposed upon by European colonists; it was entirely European in origin. If I moved to Borneo and my family continued to follow American cultural and culinary fashions, it wouldn’t be pseudomorphosis; it would be rote cultural continuity. In the U.S., most Native Americans were directly or indirectly killed off or driven out of white-occupied areas, and most white colonists in Appalachia had zero interest in adopting their culture or that of enslaved Africans. So what culture, other than a European culture, could those colonists possibly have practiced?

    Certainly, there have been changes that make our culture now distinctive. Like the evolution of species, these include both divergence from the ancestral cultures (Irish and Irish-American cultures are now substantially different) and hybridization (introduction of musical cultural elements from Africans). But mainstream white American culture falls, evolutionarily speaking, clearly within the “clade” of European cultures. I would be happy to see it turn into something dramatically different (like birds evolving from dinosaurs) … though I’d prefer that the new civilization not preserve one conspicuously novel and inferior feature of American culture, that of using skin color as one of the major organizing principles of social life.

  10. While I never got a chance to walk the Volga, I had the good fortune to spend goodish chunks of time over several years in the zeroes (back before international politics had rendered the niche in which I had located my livelihood more or less null-and-void) walking, fishing, hunting, and *being* on the Belaya and Kama. So I’ve arguably at least touched waters soon-to-be of the Volga. It was difficult then — and has remained difficult to this day — for me to articulate even to myself why those places had the sense of *right* and *home* that I had only associated with the north-of-Atlanta mountains of my childhood and the OR-WA-BC forests of my youth (and of these last several years back on North America). That sense of the “raw and unformed, moving beneath the dark soil” that you speak of may have been a big part of it…

    It is notable that you brought up Jeffers. Thanks to the Interwebs, I first came across his writings while I was living in Russia, and shared them around as well as I could. One hunting colleague from the vicinity of Perm spoke English well enough to not have to rely at all on my translations (translating poetry is a sin; I know. But a venial one…) When he got to “Hurt Hawks”, he was so moved that he thereafter *insisted*, in only-half-jest, that Jeffers must have been Russian.

    Your description of the three cultural strata in the USA also very much applies to those three strata in Russia, though the different paths towards Europeanization taken over the last century those two societies’ intelligentsia certainly have left their marks on the way their respective laboring masses relate to them. Very broadly, where the underclass in Russia largely ignores their intelligentsia, it seems that the underclass in America actively despises their own. I am greatly looking forward to however much of the next couple hundred years’ changes I get to witness in both cultural frontiers.

  11. Interesting that you should mention Scandinavia. As a Scandinavian-American who has traveled there myself I know that the political reality is a lot more complicated than the fantasy, and the democratic institutions they’ve managed to create grew out of a long history of anti-elitism. But Trump too has held up Scandinavia (or Scandinavians) as a model of the type of people he would like to see immigrating to the USA, as opposed to the “invasion” of brown skinned people from “s—hole countries” he keeps trying to whip up hysteria about. Someone needs to explain to him that these hordes of darker hued people have always been here. They’re called Native Americans…

  12. JMG,
    You have resolved my confusion as to why an exchange student from Sweden returned to the US after graduating and paid for his University, when it is free at home. He finds us midwesterners uniquely open and resourceful, and here I had assumed he was avoiding some trouble at home. He’s never really been interested in talking about home, but prefers to quietly fish or just hear our stories. He says Swedes are quite unhappy and unsociable. Apparently there’s not much joy in Sweden just now which doesn’t quite live up to the hype.

  13. escher, very belatedly, I just found your comment from months ago. I’m glad you liked the Cummings article and thank you so much for the article about Vermont!

  14. @JMG

    Actually, many districts are so badly gerrymandered that the Dems retaking the House, even by a small margin, is significant. If this is by no means a blue wave, the Republicans seem to have lost the popular vote by a wide margin. Which is, once again, significant.
    I feel your beef with the mainstream media these days seems to be tinting your judgment in a way that I find unsettling, especially since I’ve always loved how free from the most common biases of our time your writing used to be.

    (by the way, I’m not an American, so I have nothing at stakes in this election)

  15. I’m wondering how the populating of the Americas via massive amounts of European immigration impacts the concept of the pseudomorphisis? [Yes, I know that the Americas were populated by native peoples prior to European colonization and mass immigration, but the native peoples are currently a small minority of the people living in the US right now.]

    One way Rome and Russia differ from the Americas is that Rome did not absorb massive numbers of Greek immigrants, and wind up with a population that was majority Greek-descended with everyone speaking Greek, and Russia has not absorbed massive numbers of immigrants from England or other parts of Europe to wind up with a population that is majority non-Russian in recent ancestry.

    But something like 70% of the US population traces its ancestry to Europe, within a few generations, and the primary languages spoken in the Americas by all classes are European languages, not native languages. The remaining 30% of the US population are also majority non-indigenous in origin, having arrived within a few generations from other continents.

    Maybe this doesn’t matter? But it is a difference from the Roman/Russian cases that jumped out at me and I’m wondering if it makes the US (and/or the rest of the Americas) different in some way.

  16. I never picked up on Americans trying to imitate Europe. I know they did a long time ago, but now it seems more as if Americans aren’t quite sure that the rest of the world is really out there.

    You said that the intelligentsia are appalled at our shaking off the European pseudomorphosis. But it seems to me that they are the ringleaders. The gender studies professors who are teaching a whole generation of privileged students to hate what was actually the best of European culture as something to be scorned. Perhaps I am the one appalled! They sneer at things created by old white men or dead white men and replace it with things obviously inferior, often vulgar, and therefore bring down the culture and the arts.

    As to the tantrums, I guess I have a different interpretation of events. I believe that the deep state and the corporates are the ones having the tantrum, they have had solid control for a good while, and the ones throwing all the fits are their unwitting minions. Yes, brainwashed pawns, and IQ or education is no protection at all. The ‘masses’ are of course equally easily influenced, but it just so happens that in the recent few years the efforts seem to be concentrated upon the intelligentsia.

  17. Regarding Scandinavia – This obsession can also be observed heavily in circles of German middle class people. I don’t know how familiar people in the US are with the Bullerby Children – In Germany everybody knows them and Pippi Langstrumpf and other creations of Astrid Lindgren. The word “Bullerbysyndromet” has officially become part of the Swedish language 10 years ago. If you get a chance to read the books or watch the original films about the Bullerby Children, I’d suggest to get at least a small glimpse. The story IS adorable and I don’t know of many who would not love to have had a childhood like them. Nevertheless, the stereotyped image of Scandinavia, especially of Sweden and Norway, that Germans and others derived mainly from Astrid Lindgrens books and IKEA (!) is the cause to a lot of raised eyebrows (or worse) by Swedes visiting Germany.

    From a distance, Scandinavia seems to offer the ultimate way of living to German “intelligentsia”: Nature, space, abundance, progress, renewable energy. (German companies making into renewables quite often advertise their energy mix is 100% renewable. When taking a closer look, you frequently notice that their energy mix consists of close to 100% water power “bought” from Norway). Surprise, surprise, the real Scandinavia looks quite different, especially in the cities, and faces a lot of ugly problems (take the city of Malmö in southern Sweden as an example) that at least partly have to do with their outstanding progressiveness…

    Regarding Eastern Europe – “I’ve never had the chance to walk along the Volga and see if something parallel stirs in the earth and the wind, offering a foretaste of another great culture on its way to manifestation—but I’d be willing to bet that it’s there.”

    I haven’t been there either, although it is not that far as it is for you. Yet I have some friends and contacts with roots and family in eastern Europe. It’s still difficult to perceive, but there is definitely something developing and it definitely has characteristics that are not THAT European. I think the conflict between the EU and some of their member states in eastern Europe that was sparked by the migration crisis is a clear sign of this.

    Greetings from Germany,

  18. Interestingly, it seems like it’s the nordic countries that have best maintained their distinct rural traditions and woodcraft knowledge in western Europe. They produce some of the finest axes, knives and outdoor gear in the world. There’s also a strong pagan revival going on there as I’m sure you’re aware. People can only handle so much civilization I think.

  19. I don’t recall whether Spengler or Toynbee discuss it, but one factor in the spread of a culture to conquered areas is the quality of the people sent to govern. Initial settlers may be persons of great personal courage and determination. Sometimes they also have excellent administrative ability. But once settlement has been accomplished the less able fill in the gaps. The history of British possessions is full of men who could not climb the bureaucratic ladder to a position of authority in England yet may end up ruling an entire district in India or Jamaica. As a character in Jane Duncan’s _My Friends the Mrs. Millers_ puts it “This island, like all the islands of the West Indies, has suffered from many second-rate white people, white people who would be failures in their own country but come here and enjoy all the privileges of their race (70). Duncan also describes her Uncle George’s army service in Victorian era India and his opinion of the white officers’ wives as ‘useless besoms’ who would not even nurse their own children.

    I suspect that, for the most part, the ablest among conquering peoples tend always to have their eye back on the capital–Caesar has no intention of remaining in Gaul–it is only a stepping stone on the road back to rule in Rome. The job of turning Gauls into Romans will be left to lesser men. And, of course, able empires have always been leery of leaving men of promise in one province for too long lest they ‘go native’ and use it as a base of power to challenge the center.

    On ‘those people’—yes, exactly. As I have mentioned before, I attend a group that meets to discuss the articles in the New Yorker magazine. Most are retired, most salary class, some educators, some mid-level government workers. One member of the group repeatedly used ‘those people’ immediately after 11/16 to refer to Trump voters. There are no black, Hispanic or Asian people in the group–but I know several members are Jewish since we meet in a Jewish library. I pointed out that ‘those people’ was an offensive phrase usually applied to minorities, including Jews. She didn’t reply directly but stopped using it as much. I count myself among the underemployed intelligentsia, but only one generation from the rural poor on my father’s side and two generations on my mother’s . I grew up hearing of my grandmother picking peas, berries and apples as her family moved up and down the coast.

  20. “In America, it’s essential to the self-concept of the intelligentsia to pretend not to be American, and to make a studied show of contempt for their own cultural and ethnic background.”

    I couldn’t stop laughing when I read that. Years ago my Dutch-American brother told my Japanese-American wife that he is more Japanese than she is without the slightest hint of irony. Granted he does have a political science PhD in Japanese studies, is fairly fluent in Japanese, and has lived in Japan. My wife can only claim being born in Fresno with two Japanese parents. We always found the comment oddly funny, but now I finally understand where it came from. Thank you!

  21. Toynbee could not face the fact that the British Empire was fading. Spengler listed Berlin as one of the two candidates for greatness; each according to his nationality. I find the two equivalent, with the added though that if an historian from Scott Adams’ Elbonia had been writing such a book, s/he’d have listed Elbonia as a candidate for future greatness. [insert catty icon here as I lick my whiskers and read on…..]

  22. Just in: Jeff Sessions is out. I was wondering what strategy the Dems would cook up with these midterm results, but it looks like Trump is pre-empting them and is going to decide their strategy for them. This will be very interesting.

  23. Jeffrey – yes, indeed. Come out to any of our state or national parks and you’ll find these handsome log-on-stone lodges, usually WPA-built (FDR understood a few things here!) that are a delight to visit and sit down, rest, and have a beer and burger in. I like the log house ambience myself, and I’m an educated city gal almost from birth.

  24. As for Scandinavia, Sweden is not Denmark, and vice versa; and neither is Norway. (Iceland is yet a fourth thing, apart.) The languages of Scandinavia exemplify a very odd situation among languages of the world with respect to inter-intelligibility.

    As a general rule, any two European spoken languages that are mutually intelligible to some degree, have more or less the same degree of mutual intelligibility in either direction: that is, spoken language A is roughly as easy to understand for unschooled speakers of language B as spoken language B is for unschooled speakers of language A.

    In this respect, Scandinavia is quite the odd case, as linguists specializing in the Scandinavian languages have pointed out. It is, for example, easier for speakers of Danish to understand spoken Swedish, than it is for speakers of Swedish to understand spoken Danish; and spoken Norwegian lies somewhere between these two extremes for speakers of either Swedish or Danish.

    To me, as an American of Danish ancestry, it always feels very strange when other Americans speak of Scandinavia as a single thing. The Scandinavian countries seem to me as different as, say, England and Scotland, or Spain and Catalonia.

  25. Over on TBP, there was a person who said that if you wanted to cause an elitist liberal to go into meltdown mode, just say to them “You aren’t an American”. Causing cognitive dissonance, probably.

  26. It’s important to keep in mind, when evaluating the various attitudes in the United States toward the country’s intelligentsia, that most European immigrants to North America came here not because they wanted to transplant some variety of European culture across the Atlantic, but because they wanted to escape it. There were exceptions, of course, and it is the descendants of those exceptions who founded universities like Harvard and Yale, and then wrote the published histories of the United States from their perspective. Yet these men were indeed the exception, not the rule. Much of the history of North America since the 1600s can be framed as a history of conflict between a small, yet powerful Europhilic elite and a larger Europhobic populace. The roots of our distinctive American anti-intellectualism run as deep as the 1600s.

    Nathaniel Adams, in his Annals of Portsmouth, [New Hampshire] (1828), records for the year 1691 an anecdote about a preacher who began to rebuke his congregation: “You have forsaken the pious habits of your forefathers, who left the ease and comfort which they possessed in their native land, and came to this howling wilderness to enjoy without molestation the exercise of their pure principles of religion.” Adams continues, “One of the congregation interrupted him; Sir, you entirely mistake the matter; our ancestors did not come here [to Portsmouth] on account of their religion, but to fish and trade.” One did not usually interrupt a minister in the full flood of his sermon, not back in those days. But the matter seemed important enough to that congregant to justify interruption. The laboring classes, then as now, “regard with smoldering hostility both the intelligentsia and the foreign culture it promotes”; but they hadn’t as yet been browbeaten into sullenness.

    I could add that Portsmouth was something of a melting pot of nationalities, even in the early 1600s. In addition to Englishmen, there were families from places such as Cornwall (e.g. the Trefethens) and even the Levant (the Amazeens). Specifically in Portsmouth ship-builders constructed a kind of ship unique to British North America, the gundalow–which (at least to my eyes) owes something of its peculiar rigging to the eastern Mediterranean dhow.

  27. “What pushes things over the edge into rapid change is that members of the intelligentsia who aren’t part of the underclass, who got the good jobs and the prestigious positions under the colonial regime, notice what’s happening, weigh their options, and side with the underclass and the masses.”

    This phrase puts words to a struggle I regularly feel inside myself. I definitely benefit from access to good jobs and prestigious positions, but feel myself more and more divided about whether it is right for me to take advantage of those opportunities. I feel pulled in many directions at once, and don’t have a clear idea of where I stand, except perhaps with one leg on each of two icebergs that are drifting apart…

    Thanks for your revealing commentary, it has given me a lot to think about.

  28. The “intelligentsia” appear to be committing intellectual suicide so fast, there won’t be any need for the sullen labourers to revolt against them. I came across a really useful word the other day – “denialism”. A super tool for speeding up the “twilight” and bringing on the night of total brain-rot. Henceforth, no need to debate or think. An intel can just announce that his opponents are suffering from “denialism”, by their denial of the rightness of his views. No further need to scratch his head in bafflement at their obtuseness. They can’t help it, the poor saps; and it’s no use pointing out to them the error of their ways – for, being denialists, of course they’ll deny it.

  29. I have been following your essays with great interest. This one reminded me of an experience I had when I was a student in Normandy, France. I often visited a friend who lived with a very politically important upper-class family, and they always told us that we reminded them of the Russians they had met. At the time I didn’t understand what they were saying. But later I came to see this as a result of both my friend and I coming from fairly egalitarian countries (at that time in the early 60’s, we had a much more egalitarian society than now). For example, we were both very uncomfortable with people waiting on us. There were other things too. But maybe what you’re writing about was at work too. It’s something I’ll have to think about more. Thanks for giving me a new perspective.

  30. As to intelligentsia, I’m reminded of the Cos-Doc’s discussion of opposition. It makes a lot of sense that intelligentsia would need to borrow from another culture in order to frame themselves as intellectual superiors. After all, without such cultural opposition, what economic value would their views have in the market of ideas? Ideas already accepted as obvious by all of society just fly by unnoticed. And in the dichotomy (read: system of opposition) created by the first intelligentsia, an opposite group of intellectuals can rise up to challenge the first’s arguments, with both discounting each other as fools (and they’re not exactly wrong, since both are operating under opposite systems). But the second group can only exist as long as the first is there to oppose them. An interesting dilemma for this group if they are ever to gain decisive dominance over their former superiors. Kind of explains a lot of some of the crazy shenanigans American politics has gone through over the ages.

  31. Many Southerners have a deal of Indian ancestry in them – I’ve seen whole towns that were very dark haired compared to surrounding towns, in Arkansas, particularly the hilly areas of the western part of the state. Dierks comes to mind. I’m not so sure all the Indians were just killed, although I certainly wouldn’t argue they were “well treated”.

    ” It was difficult then — and has remained difficult to this day — for me to articulate even to myself why those places had the sense of *right* and *home* that I had only associated with the north-of-Atlanta mountains of my childhood and the OR-WA-BC forests of my youth (and of these last several years back on North America). That sense of the “raw and unformed, moving beneath the dark soil” that you speak of may have been a big part of it…”

    That’s what I feel like when I’m in the Ouachitas or Ozarks, either one. The vibe out West in Idaho was a little different.

  32. I spent a little time in Russia last summer with a group that was traveling the Trans-Siberian Railroad from Moscow to Vladivostok. One thing our tour guides mentioned was that Peter the Great wanted to emulate Europe. He imported grooming styles, clothing and food, culture and entertainment. He moved the capital of Russia to St. Petersburg to have better access to Europe. The ruling families of Europe are all interbred, of course. The last Tsarina was Queen Victoria’s granddaughter. There was a saying among the Russian intelligentsia: You speak French to discuss politics, German to discuss philosophy, English to read poetry, and Russian to your enemies. Of course, Europe always considered Russians second class citizens.

    Today in Russia I noticed a stratification between those who remember the Soviet regime and the Crazy Nineties and those who came of age after Perestroika. The former who remember Yeltsin, empty grocery stores, and bartering for food, strongly support President Putin and the latter who are just tired of looking at him. They acknowledge his achievements but would just like a change.

    Lastly there’s the Orthodox Church, which is experiencing a renaissance. They’ve built or rebuilt hundreds of churches. All Orthodox monasteries were destroyed and have been rebuilt, some mostly on private donations. Some Russians told me that the church is getting popular for a number or reasons. Nostalgia, curiosity, to please their grandmothers, annoy their communist grandparents. But I still sensed in many Russians the expectation that Europe and America are their equals at the level of the general population, but they don’t understand why our governments don’t get along. It’s a bit naïve. Although one tour guide in Irkutsk told me she believes the American economy depends on war. It can’t survive without it, so she, at least, understands things a little better.

    I wrote a travel log of my adventures.

  33. repost:
    Well, it’s the end of the cycle, but I’m somewhat disappointed in last nights results. I wish that the Dems would have fallen short of the majority so there would be a wholesale reckoning and revamping of the Democratic party, but all the old, establishment types like Pelosi, Biden, et. al. will live to see another day.

  34. “In America, it’s essential to the self-concept of the intelligentsia to pretend not to be American, and to make a studied show of contempt for their own cultural and ethnic background. That’s how they prove to themselves that they don’t belong to “those people,” the ordinary Americans the intelligentsia love to despise.”

    HA! I nearly choked on this one…can’t tell you how many commenters here have mouthed pretty much those exact words about their travels abroad…

    OT: Thanks to you folks who hit me with an order for my super-duper, unstoppable, world-class, lightning-fast healing salve late last week! You’ll soon be glad you did…orders went out today. 😉 For the rest of you still making do in that dept, the link’s still live toward the very end of last week’s comments under my username!

  35. Before we go on, I should probably mention that I’ve fielded a really impressive assortment of trolling today — furious trolls, sneering trolls, passive-aggressive concern trolls, smarmy trolls, faux-polite put-my-words-in-the-worst-possible-light trolls, and the list goes on. While I generally find trolls entertaining, I’m in the middle of a major revision project right now, and so anything that sets off my troll alarm will be deleted the moment that happens — that is, a long time before I finish reading the attempted comment. If you’re about to post something like that, please do consider saving your breath.

    Oh, and my regular trolls — the ones who can’t resist trying to post tub-thumping denunciations of whatever I happen to write — have been put on IP-ban for the duration. I really don’t have the spare time for the usually amusing process of reading them. Again, if you’re a regular troll here, you might consider going somewhere else for a few weeks.

  36. Now, on to the comments…

    Berserker, I wondered if anyone would catch that!

    Will, oh, probably.

    Jeffrey, I hadn’t thought of that, but you’re right.

    Monk, thanks for this. Protestantism isn’t a single thing these days, but a broad and rather diverse collection of different approaches to religion sharing little more than common historical roots and a certain (highly variable) degree of reverence for Jesus and the Bible. Some aspects of it have adapted very well to the American land; others, not so much.

    KMB, cultural borrowings routinely adapt to the conditions of new lands and cultures. It’s hard to think of anything more quintessentially part of classical Greek culture as the standard Greek temple, and yet if you look at it in terms of its history, it’s easy to see how the basic template for it came from Egyptian temple architecture, and was then adapted to fit the very different religion and culture of Greece. In the same way, American Druidry has been mutating since the Druid Revival arrived here from Britain in 1798, and it’s still adapting itself to the land — not surprising, as Druidry tends to be very open to personal; adaptation and, of course, an orientation toward living nature wherever you happen to be.

    By the way, there’s nothing wrong in being a member of the American intelligentsia. If that’s what you are, that’s what you are; for example, it’s what I am, and it would be just as fake for me to pretend otherwise as it would be to pretend that I was, say, British. That something is going to fade away over the next century or so doesn’t mean that it’s bad and wrong — just that it’s a historically conditioned reality.

    Prizm, I don’t know of a society in history that dealt with this kind of transformation gracefully. So far, all things considered, we’re not actually doing that badly.

    Violet, I think that a lot of the problem is that the intelligentsia could afford to be bohemian and countercultural when its prestige and power weren’t threatened. Now that that’s no longer the case, a lot of them are going into defensive mode and backing away from anyone who looks too poor — after all, they don’t want poverty to rub off on them! 😉 As for Latin America, I think it’s very possible that that’s going to be the source of the next North American pseudomorphosis, but we’ll see.

    Greg, too funny! Yes, I suspect we’ll see that in New York City among other places.

    David, perhaps the best expression of it I’ve encountered is the future that seems to be being retailed by (what little I’ve encountered of) the post-original series Star Trek franchise: everybody’s got technology, nobody’s poor, the working class has been replaced by replicators and teleporters, and everyone shares a common culture in which ethnic and gender variations are simply a veneer over a consensus view of reality that admits no variation. It’s basically the universe transformed into an upscale neighborhood where nobody below the avant-garde urban end of the middle class is allowed in…

    Dewey, nah, you’ve missed the point of last week’s post. Human beings are not separate from their environment; we’re still part of nature, loudly as though some of us want to admit that this isn’t true; each of us carries the imprint of the part of the world where we were born, and the process of relocation into a different environment results in something rather like the transplant shock you see in plants when they’re dug up by the roots and planted elsewhere. (I’ve felt this myself after each of my relocations.)

    The American people are descended mostly from people who came here from a lot of different cultures, some in Europe, others in Africa, still others from various other corners of the world; as we learned a few weeks back, most of us, on average, have more Native American ancestry than Elizabeth Warren; but having been born on this continent, in the specific environments where we were born, leaves an imprint that doesn’t go away. That’s what makes the European cultural presence here a pseudomorphosis.

    ДжММ, thanks for this! I’m glad to hear your Russian friend liked Jeffers; he’s been a fave of mine since I first encountered his poetry in a head shop in the 1970s.

    Kurt, perhaps you can explain to me why that’s relevant to anything discussed in this week’s post.

  37. This whole series has been so good for me, John Michael. It illuminates so many problems that have been swimming around in my brain (and heart) for the last 5 or 6 years. I have a hard time relating to my family elders as they all belong to the intelligentsia and have put so much effort into molding me into something I don’t seem to want to be anymore. I find comfort and camaraderie with working class friends these days, on the jiu jitsu mat, in the repair shop at the hardware store, or on the occasion I find myself operating a shovel for my plumber friend.

    All of my working class friends love Retrotopia. All of my friends in the striving classes hate it. I tend to hand it out and use it these days as a sort of litmus test to feel out where new friends dwell…

    This post explains so much. You’re right, I don’t belong to either group. I went through the motions and got the degree, and the respectable job, and the mortgage, and the debt!, oh heavens, the debt!!, and now, I don’t want to live there. I just want to be who I was before my step-grandmother from the Jersey shore started teaching me how to pronounce my vowels.

    Oddly, I seem to have found a new pride in being American suddenly. Makes sense, I guess I always hated the psuedomorphic clawing and pretending, the foisting of our ways on others, and equated that with being American. Now I can look at where I live, here in the heart of working class territory in “the north-of-Atlanta mountains” as deh-zhe-MM put it upthread, and begin to let my heart out a little.

    I have more to add but I’m almost out of time on the library computer, so I’ll have to catch up with it later.
    Thanks again for all this.

  38. When it came out I read ‘The Almost Nearly Perfect People by Michael Booth,’. Before I read it I thought Scandinavia was cool good health care and all after I read it not so much. Sweden especially seems like an unpleasant place.

  39. JMG. In your response to monk you said some variety’s of Protestantism are well suited to our land and others not so much. I was wondering which ones work here? I have been listening lately to a cd of Alan Jackson singing old American hymns and there is something that feels right about them. Thanks as always John

  40. @ Shane W

    I think you’re probably right. However, the Democratic gains by historical standards were pretty weak, so maybe that’ll prompt some soul searching. Otherwise, 2020 will likely be another rough year for the party and require a wholesale reckoning.

  41. and so we must concede that donald trump is the most american–least europeanized– president since who? reagan i suppose. a bitter disappointment for our intelligentsia. and is it not worth noting that our cousins, the british, have become so much more like us as the focus of our intelligentsia has moved east and north? from scandinavia it’s a short hop to russia. perhaps a u.s.-russia rapproachment is not so very far fetched.

  42. Hi JMG,

    Am I seeing the process of Anacyclosis in action here? The final stage of democracy – gridlock – is now being cemented in place and all that’s needed to transition to dictatorship is an existential crisis, like a column of invading “immigrants” on the border. I have to wonder if the people who have engineered this are aware of the process and are hoping that the resulting dictatorship is favorable to their ideology rather than something else.

    Cheers! Paul

  43. John—

    Re American intelligentsia fantasies and Star Trek

    Thank you. Yes,that does make sense. (I can agree; there was something of an underlying sameness in the Federation of TNG. I never got into DS9 and fell off at that point. Of course, to be fair, most planets in the original series had the same three rocks…). Diversity in everything but worldview and values.

    Re the post and series more generally

    I think the biggest lesson I’m still learning is that existence, the greater world, whatever we wish to call it, is a perpetual cycle, always transforming from the former into the next, never stopping, never reaching stasis, never arriving. There are inflection points, and there are minima/maxima where the tangent slope goes to zero and everything pauses for the minutest moment before the counter-movement begins to accelerate, but the sine wave keeps going. Up, down, up, down, up, down. I keep forgetting that and doing so causes me more grief than anything else I’ve been having to (un)learn.

    The point of the dance is itself. I’ll get it through my head one of these days…

  44. That makes quite a bit of sense. It’s rare to find someone who falls gracefully. Probably rare to find someone who dies gracefully. How could one think that a nation could collapse gracefully. There’s nothing different this time around other than the tools used for “denialism” as Mr Gibson so gracefully pointed out. It’s hard to get past the idea that this time isn’t different. Especially so when one thinks about how great this nation has been.

  45. I was very delighted when you quoted a line from my favorite Eagle’s Song, and one that most people (popular 70’s music fans included) are not familiar with. This song also includes the phrase that in many ways sums up our current predicament and how we got here, ” We satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds in the name of destiny and in the name of God.”

  46. It has arrived and surpassed all expectations.
    I am an MD, specialist, retired Colonel equivalent being managed by two layers of medical technicians with high school educations led by an RN.

  47. Hi,
    I’m one of those educated American losers who now takes tours of work among the laboring classes. I’d like to know what specifically does not live up to the hype about Scandinavian social democracy.

  48. geez, Dewey, you’re not really contributing anything by pushing the SJW envelope. Give it a rest. Check your privilege. What is your class, btw? Please disclose your class so we can know why you keep grinding this axe.

  49. Gawain, fascinating. Thanks for the data point!

    Quos Ego, under our Constitution, the popular vote doesn’t matter. My point, which I think is valid, is that the Democrats didn’t get what they were after — the kind of sweeping realignment against a sitting president that they were calling for. Instead, they gained a modest number of House seats while losing seats in the Senate. Just for reference, here are the number of House seats lost (or, in two cases, gained) in the midterms by every party in the White House since the Second World War:

    1946 Truman: -45
    1950 Truman: -29
    1954 Eisenhower: -18
    1958 Eisenhower: -48
    1962 Kennedy: -4
    1966 Johnson: -47
    1970 Nixon: -12
    1974 Ford: -48
    1978 Carter: -15
    1982 Reagan: -26
    1986 Reagan: -8
    1990: Bush I: -9
    1994 Clinton: -52
    1998: Clinton: +5
    2002: Bush II: +2
    2006 Bush II: -30
    2010 Obama: -63
    2014 Obama: -13
    2018 Trump: -26

    (All information courtesy of Wikipedia — not my source of choice usually, but it was convenient.)

    El, it’s a valid question, and that’s why I discussed it at length in last week’s post here.

    Onething, and yet the ideologies being deployed in order to say nasty things about dead white men were created by dead white men such as Jacques Derrida and Paul de Man. It’s a central theme in modern European culture that each generation of intellectuals must trash the legacy of the earlier generations; it was probably inevitable that Americans, in their slavish imitation of European fashions, would take that further than most others!

    Nachtgurke, fascinating! I’ve never heard of the Bullerby Children, but Pippi Longstocking (as she’s called in the English translations of Lindgren’s books) had a big presence in children’s literature when I was a kid.

    Grey Holm, is there more of that than elsewhere, do you think, or is it simply better retailed to an American audience?

    Rita, that’s a fascinating point, and no, I don’t think either Toynbee or Spengler discusses it. It would fit very nicely in Toynbee’s analysis of the downward arc of empire, though — it’s kind of hard to maintain a desire to emulate the colonizing power if the people it sends to govern the colonies are a bunch of utter duffers…

    Booklover, yeah, that’s typical, embarrassingly so.

    Ryan, oh dear gods, yes. I’ve dealt with any number of members of the American intelligentsia who put herculean efforts into becoming fake Japanese, or fake Chinese, or fake Hindu, or fake Irish, or — well, the list goes on a very, very long ways. Anything, absolutely anything, but admit that they are (oh, the shame of it!) Americans.

    Patricia, to give credit where credit is due, Germany basically ruins Europe now. You’re right about Elbonia, though!

    SpiceisNice, like him or loathe him, Trump isn’t the kind of guy who sits there waiting for the other side to do something.

    Robert, I don’t doubt that at all, but a lot of Americans do see “Scandinavia” as a single thing, more or less filtered through rose-colored glasses.

    Dana, I bet!

    Robert, thanks for this! No argument at all — the split between the Eurocentric coastal enclaves of the privileged and the Europhobic rural hinterlands goes all the way back to early colonial times, I’ll have to look up gundalows, as I hadn’t heard of them.

    DutyBound, you’re far from the only one. I know a lot of people who are in that situation right now.

    Robert, I see that term as an admission of defeat on the part of those using it. Take hold of the grab bar — things may get wild from here on in.

    Katherine, fascinating. That had not occurred to me, but you’re right that it may be a significant factor.

    SpiceisNice, I won’t argue a bit.

    Argusandphoenix, interesting. As I’ve never been to Arkansas, I didn’t know that.

  50. West of Arkham the hills rise wild, and there are valleys with deep woods that no axe has ever cut. There are dark narrow glens where the trees slope fantastically, and where thin brooklets trickle without ever having caught the glint of sunlight. On the gentler slopes there are farms, ancient and rocky, with squat, moss-coated cottages brooding eternally over old New England secrets in the lee of great ledges; but these are all vacant now, the wide chimneys crumbling and the shingled sides bulging perilously beneath low gambrel roofs.


  51. JMG,

    Your thought on intelligentsia are spot on when applied to Russia the way I experienced it. Growing in a poor and marginalised family of intelligentsia, both my parents used “intelligentsia” as a swear word while at the same time not quite lining up with the working class yet and using another redneck-like word for them.

    “You’ve probably heard of a man named Mohandas K. Gandhi; read the first half or so of any good biography of him and you’ll see that dynamic written in letters ten feet tall.”

    Leo Tolstoy, one of the inspiration figures for Gandhi, is another very good example of the same dynamic. Later in life, he went all the way to working on the land with peasants, while, unlike Gandhi, he was never really being accepted by them. There are stories of them laughing amusingly behind Leo’s back at a barin (a member of aristocracy who happened to own land and peasants) behaving like a pretend-peasant.

  52. “Patricia, to give credit where credit is due, Germany basically ruins Europe now. You’re right about Elbonia, though!”

    Is ruins a typo?

  53. Hi JMG and fellow Ecosophians!

    These lines of Robinson Jeffers, from the poem ‘Decaying Lambskins’, seem apposite to this series of posts:

    “What is noble in us, to kindle
    The imagination of a future age? We shall seem a race of cheap
    Fausts, vulgar magicians.
    What men have we to show them? but inventions and appliances.
    Not men but populations, mass-men;“

  54. This post, your response to KMB and the post of Tripp got me thinking about how the conflict of the intelligentsia and the common person doesn’t only have to be class conflict. It could also be an internal conflict with a person not understanding which group they belong to, or not being able to admit to themselves which they are. A situation which no doubt also gets exploited.

  55. Archdruid,

    I think there’s a third category here that should be noted – the intelligentsia who have the opportunity to join the elite (even if it’s at the lower end) and reject it because they don’t find what the aristocracy offers the appealing. I think a fair portion of your readership is in that category. The overwhelming majority of what they offer, excepting a few treasures here and there, is just bloody bland. It’s the same vapid thing over and over. Why would anyone want that when we have rich traditions to draw from and help create?

    As an Indian immigrant to the US, I’ve had to face the psudomorphasis of Faustian, Magian, Vedic, and Proto-american cultures. This mix is giving me some serious material to work with that’s soooo much richer than anything on offer from the aristocracy.



  56. Could the idealization of Scandinavian countries be a counter-reaction to the 1600s-1950s (or so, in most parts of the country, generalizations are general) attempt to layer Puritan notions about work for work’s sake and God showing His favor in material terms onto a disparate mix of cultures–Native American, Spanish, etc? (Most of the envy I’ve heard re: Europe is about things like guaranteed vacation, which I fairly well agree with, but then again, I tend to avoid cultural “highbrow” stuff as a rule*, so may not have encountered the other manifestations.)

    “What replaces it is a sense of something still raw and unformed, moving in the dark silent soil under the strip malls and subdivisions, reaching clumsily as yet toward some fulfillment whose shape has not yet become clear.” Yes! I had a similar impression sometimes when I lived in the more remote areas of SoCal–the feeling that everything was new and, I don’t know, fresher? Painted in heavier strokes or bolder colors? Definitely a sense of potential only partially achieved, if that.

    View from the resident socialist Democrat: I’m pretty happy with how the election went, not because I see it as a grand significant trend or anything. (Although I hope it is in a number of areas, of course, and I particularly hope that the Senate seats we lost, plus the election of Ocasio-Cortez and others, convince the party that “Republican Lite” doesn’t work and we need bolder policies that address the economic concerns of the working class.) We’ve got a little more ability to push back against some of the GOP goals that I particularly dislike, Kim Davis is out on her bigoted rear, and ballot initiatives expanded voting, protected trans people, and did some other good stuff at the real-person level. Good enough for me–but I wasn’t expecting, or hoping for, a Great Messianic Change.

    * I had to read modern lit in high school/college, and it’s all about people’s marriages failing in Connecticut, when it’s not about them failing in Manhattan. I’ll pass.

  57. “In America, it’s essential to the self-concept of the intelligentsia to pretend not to be American, and to make a studied show of contempt for their own cultural and ethnic background. ”

    Here in the Philippines, former American colony that we are, the intelligentsia raise their kids to be as American as possible. There’s even a parallel phenomenon of contempt for the “unworthy” native culture. As a result, there is a significant population of upper middle class kids with speaking with California accents who can’t even speak their native language! This, of course, renders them practically illiterate; if it weren’t for elder relatives they would have no education or jobs, and if it weren’t for their household servants they wouldn’t be able to go anywhere (can’t, as in don’t know how take public transport!) or even be able to eat!

    Some of these folks end up moving to the States; and over there they ape the culture of the American intelligentsia which means contempt for American things. The ultimate irony is that they then up the ante on their “Filipino-ness”, becoming really desperate to teach their kids Tagalog or making sure that they eat adobo or pancit or some other Filipino dish at home all the time…

  58. Thank you for describing the trolls without actually subjecting us to them! You have my sympathies. I’ve cut off my on-line altercation group for the time being. Lovely day for a hike!

  59. >>Quos Ego, under our Constitution, the popular vote doesn’t matter. My point, which I think is valid, is that the Democrats didn’t get what they were after — the kind of sweeping realignment against a sitting president that they were calling for. Instead, they gained a modest number of House seats while losing seats in the Senate.<<

    You are rather missing the point. There were extremely heavy institutional obstacles to the Democrats regaining the House – the only way they can win it under the current map is a comprehensive landslide (a situation that makes comparing seat gains in past elections meaningless). Yes, popular vote doesn't matter for determining outcome, but it does matter in terms of revealing popular will – if all that mattered were "constitutional outcome" then, frankly, a betting man would have said that the Republicans were guaranteed the House for at least a decade after 2010. Not because of the will of the public, but because of the massive institutional barriers that guaranteed a Republican win whether the public wanted it or not.

  60. Why does everyone keep mentioning Sweden? It is Denmark that is the model that people are thinking of — by many measures, the happiest people on earth. vs the Swedes: some of the most depressed people on earth (likely due to lack of sunshine). I find it disingenuous to keep poking away at the Swedes when the real shining example is right next door.

  61. JMG, Like you, I am a member of the intelligentsia. With this said, I am wondering how much/what type of education to give my children. I am wondering if you have any thoughts on what is an appropriate education for the coming age, especially for someone who lives on the fringe and does not expect his children to penetrate the upper echelon of society. To give you a few more details, I am an acupuncturist/herbalist and my home is in rural Guatemala. I see many foreigners taking their children back to their home countries when their children get to be about mid primary school, thinking that they need a better education, but I am not sure that will make them more successful/fulfilled in the coming age. Personally, I am trying to find the sweet spot on the bell curve between high tech and no tech, but I don’t want to limit their opportunities. I guess what I really want to know is have you found a method for teaching creative problem solving that can be taught? Besides horticulture, natural medicine, and the 3 Rs, what do you consider to be “must learns”?

  62. @ Patricia, JMG

    “Germany basically ruins Europe now.” I’m sure many Greeks, Italians, French, and British readily agree. 😀

  63. I’ll confess to a bit of Eurolatry when I was younger. I think it was due to a desire to escape from some personal misery, and a desire to live in a nation not being misgoverned by George W. Bush. At the time, I had this image of Europe as being cleaner and saner than anything found in my disappointing life.

    As far as the intelligentsia… Most of my exposure to it these days comes from the cable news my parents watch constantly.

    There seems to be two aspects to the constant shrieking furor they display. One, it’s a business model – 24 hour news can’t work unless there’s always a crisis to pull in eyeballs and justify the rotating cast of pundits.

    Two, MSNBC and CNN especially are appealing to the intelligentsia, that segment of the population that prides itself on being educated, savvy, rational, cosmopolitan and on the Right Side of History. So the hysteria on display is a reflection of this anxiety that for all their big brains and analyses and statistics and Twitter wars, they cannot restore whatever utopia they thought they’d had under Obama, or bring Elon Musk’s Mars cities any closer.

    I put up with the news watching yesterday, since the midterms was the equivalent of the Super Bowl for my folks. But today I got fed up and got grouchy with them. All this shrieking over things that cannot be controlled is disastrous for a person’s health.

  64. Based on my quick math of your numbers, the average number of seats flipped is 19. Elsewhere I have seen 26. Obviously it depends on how many elections you go back. They are now at 29 and there are 12 undecided, so they will probably end up in the mid-30s. No, not the tsunami they wanted, not a full-fledged repudiation of Trump, but more than the modest result you had predicted, a few seats one way or the other is how I think you stated it. Combined with the state results: 6 governors (more than double the average according to ballotpedia), 6 state legislative houses, a couple hundred state legislators, almost 100 women elected to the House, it was a decent victory. The Senate of course had the most biased map in living memory, a fluke. The point is that it results in a very real shift in the balance of power from the extreme one-sided position Dems found themselves in. Now they face a truly perilous nomination process.

    When it comes to Scandinavia, I think it is more a case of not thinking that the US always knows how to do everything best. Nor is Scandinavia the only place mentioned. The Canadian health care system comes up a lot, as do others. Some people even like elections where the campaign isn’t allowed to start till a few months before the election.

  65. By the gods: so many weird aspects of Canadian culture make sense now! Our elite is mimicking a self-hating intelligentsia, who often enough it’s become a joke, pretend to be Canadian when travelling overseas, so of course we’re a complete and utter mess when it comes to identity……

  66. Jon, thanks for this.

    Shane, well, we’ll see. I understand that Pelosi faces serious opposition in her attempt to become Speaker again; she needs 218 votes, and it’s anyone’s guess if she can get them this time.

    Tripp, trust me, I’ve heard the same thing. As for Retrotopia, that’s fascinating, though not surprising.

    Will O, it’s definitely worth reading.

    Pogonip, yep. Some bridges will be getting their tenants back.

    Will O, I’m not sufficiently clear on the various subspecies to be sure, and the smoke generated by the heavily marketed fundamentalist movement still has to blow away. If you’re interested in the question for yourself, well, may I suggest simply visiting some churches and seeing if any resonate with you?

    Jaymoses, I tend to think that’s the main reason that so many people in the intelligentsia melt down over him — he’s just so horribly American!!!

    Bootstrapper, it’s entirely possible that that’s what’s going on.

    David, when you were a kid, did you ever enjoy riding the merry-go-round? In a certain sense, history isn’t that dissimilar…

    Prizm, I get that. It’s just not very common for anything human to deal with decline gracefully.

    Clay, it’s one of my all time favorites among their songs, and yes, that line and the ones immediately before it are very apropos just now.

    Rich, yep. Welcome to the future.

    Alex, I recommend that you read the book I cited. Scandinavian social democracy, like most things, looks much better from a distance than close up.

  67. Anthony, written by a downwardly mobile member of the intelligentsia, too. Yes, that’s a passage I enjoy.

    Ganesh, thanks for the reminder! Yes, Tolstoy was another very good example of the species.

    Will, a typo or a Freudian slip…

    Ozquoll, nice. Thank you.

    Prizm, it does indeed.

    Varun, that’s actually the point at which the Gandhi effect starts cutting in. To borrow Toynbee’s terms, when the creative minority becomes merely a dominant minority and can no longer inspire mimesis even by sheer bribery, down it goes.

    Isabel, the interesting thing to me about the election is that it was good for both ends and not so good for the former mainstream. Many of Trump’s opponents among the GOP either lost their seats or didn’t run for reelection in the first place, so the Democrat-Heavy (if that’s the equivalent of Republican-Lite) end of the GOP was sharply weakened. It remains to be seen whether Pelosi will regain the speaker’s chair, or lose to someone who hopefully has some ideas other than maintaining a failed model of business as usual forever. But we’ll see.

    Carlos, oh dear. That’s breathtakingly funny, in a wry sort of way…

    Patricia, sounds like a plan.

    Strda221, funny, none of the Democrats I knew who were going on about a “Blue Wave” mentioned all those obstacles until after the election. It sounds like Monday morning quarterbacking to me — and you may be interested to know that exactly the same sort of Monday morning quarterbacking is going on over on the other side, where the huge advantages the Democrats had in their effort to retake the House are being discussed at length. It would be nice if both sides would accept that they basically fought this one to a draw, but I’m not holding my breath.

    Jmichaelsullivan, I hope someone from Denmark comments on this!

    Clark, do they know the local folk tales and legends? Those are crucial, and so is the kind of introduction to natural science that focuses on figuring things out and dealing with nature first hand, rather than reading things in books. As for creative problem solving, make sure that they have problems to solve and aren’t punished for their attempts that don’t work, and that should take care of itself.

    Ryan, nor will I argue with them!

    Cliff, I went through a period of mythic Anglomania in my teen years — too much Tolkien, too much Arthurian legends, too much medieval history, and above all, too much bland suburbia! I don’t think it hurt me too much, and one result is that my two visits to Glastonbury have both ranked way up on the scale of life experiences. I doubt I could live there, but I adore the place. Still, I am what I am — one of the American intelligentsia, still very deeply shaped by the Faustian pseudomorphosis — and don’t pretend otherwise. As for the current babble, you know, every time I hear something like this I’m happier about the lack of TV in my life.

    Dean, my prediction was based on the astrological indications for a six month period. We’ll see in March how things play out.

    Will J., I bet. If your intelligentsia is imitating the American intelligentsia which is imitating Europe, the results must be weird.

  68. @JMG:
    three things:
    – when all the recountings are over, the Dems should actually flip 35 seats, which is, if I follow your numbers, the 6th largest loss for a sitting president in recent history. Once again, not a blue wave, but a significant rebuttal of Trump by a large number of people, and not only by clueless elites, which seems to be the point you’ve been trying to make in the last few months.
    – I wasn’t making a constitutional point. My point was that, in order to take the House, the Dems need significant support and turnout, because the Republicans gerrymandered the districts so badly that even though they lost the 2012 midterms by 1.5 million votes, they got 30 more seats than the Dems in the House. For something called the House of Representatives, that’s rather ironic, don’t you think?
    – and finally, the popular vote does matter. Maybe not if you look at things from a pure contitutional point of view, but as a measurement of a president’s support, it is one heck of a marker. As it stands, Trump doesn’t have the backing of the majority of the country. Which is a point you always choose to miss in your people vs. elites analyses.

    (and again, I’m not being partisan here. I probably wouldn’t be voting for either party if I were an American)

  69. I would consider myself a member of the educated underclass, though probably by choice. I say “probably” because I haven’t actually attempted to secure any of the coveted career options available to those with my particular credentials, finding it much more fulfilling to work with my hands and to lend my skills to those in my community who can benefit (and finding that this can also be financially sustaining, at least for now). I can foresee finding common cause with the labor class on many issues moving forward, though not until we have different leadership. Our current president seems determined to drive a wedge between those with more vs. less educational background. I don’t want angry tweets and unpredictable decisionmaking. I want reasoned arguments and a steady hand…

    Re: the election
    Nate Silver at 538 (who is now quoted by many news agencies) had projected a Democrat pickup of 38 seats in the House and a Republican pickup of one seat in the Senate, based on model averages. The current projection (making some guesses as to the eventual outcomes of races too close to call) is D+37 and R+2. So, in contrast to the 2016 presidential election, anyone who is surprised by the outcome was not paying attention. One clear result is that turnout was way up, and locally I see that also reflected in more interest in races at the city and county level. If this is a step toward revitalization of our democracy, I will count it as a positive step.

    Re: the future
    While I suspect you are correct about our current place on the trajectory of civilizations, I see no obvious trajectories in the nearer term. Our country has reached such a level of divisiveness that most are fed up, but few see a way out. The Republicans have captured the populist constituency while retaining their commitment to unbridled capitalism. They have played most of their limited hand that finds common ground (tax breaks, trade restrictions to restore competitiveness to US industries), but are eventually going to have to deal with the many conflicts between populist and capitalist interests (e.g. insanely high and still soaring medical and pharmaceutical costs). There is also a simmering battle between the Christian morality of the right and the extremely amoral behavior of its leadership. On the left, we have a brewing conflict between the old-guard salary-class leadership and a mostly-young, racially diverse progressive wing with socialist tendencies. The two factions may have a hard time even agreeing on a Speaker of the House with their newfound majority.

    It seems to me that we are approaching a time when the future cannot be known with any certainty, and in which small events and individual human beings stand a greater chance of changing the course of history. We could see gridlock leading to dictatorship a la Bootstrapper’s comment. We could see the Republicans solidify control if Trump is replaced by a more unifying leader (or if Trump himself can stop rallying his base and reach out to the majority who disapprove of him for various reasons). We could see a charismatic figure with socialist proclivities rise on the left (Beto 2020?). Who knows…we live in interesting times.

  70. Hi, JMG. “Patricia, to give credit where credit is due, Germany basically RUINS Europe now.” I suspect that was a typo. However, from an Irish point of view (and very likely a Greek, Portuguese and Spanish one), the way Germany is “running” Europe (especially via the ECB) is equivalent to the way it is “ruining” Europe (or at least our parts of Europe)… So, a typo that is not entirely wrong…

  71. @Ryan S, Patricia, JMG

    “Germany basically ruins Europe now.” I’m sure many Greeks, Italians, French, and British readily agree.
    Even some Germans do !
    Frank from Germany

  72. I can readily accept your description applying to Russia, which, after all, has a history going back at least as long as any European nation and began at a time before either the Byzantine Empire, or European cultures were able to exert any influence at all on them. The Kurgan culture of the central steppe existed long before the first Greek trader ventured into the Black Sea.
    But I can’t quite accept your assertion that same applies to America, i.e. the United States and Canada, in exactly the same way. Neither of our nations existed as separate cultures before the arrival of Europeans, our nations exist because we were mostly transplanted Europeans.
    I hold the view that both of our countries (and all the proto-nations across the continent) only came into existence as colonies of Europe, populated by people from Europe, supported — at least at first — by European rulers as an extension of European nations. There was no pre-existing culture except the native one of the indigenous peoples who were, if not entirely exterminated either deliberately through violence or inadvertently by disease, were forced into restricted enclaves with minimal influence, except as villains in popular entertainment, on the masses of Europeans who flocked through Ellis Island and Halifax harbour, bringing their cultures with them, wholly intact. Sure, the elites of Europe lost their economic ascendancy a century ago, but it was the European elites of New York who took over, being the only industrial power not pounded into rubble and hopelessly in debt, with its own vast untapped resources to dominate the globe against the Soviet Union. Since then the elites have created a trans-Atlantic civilization, with Paris and Milan and New York as the centres of fashion, London and New York running the finance, Munich and Silicon Valley driving new technology, Rome, London, and Los Angles as the centres of Film and TV, and so on,
    In contrast the different folk cultures across the continent are localized variant offshoots from European folk cultures transplanted into a particular place, in the same way that Bavaria has a folk culture different from Frisian folk culture: different, yet both are fundamentally European. For example, the ornate Sheridan carving typically found decorating a western saddle is obviously a local variation on that developed from ornate Victorian British style which was being imported in the 19th Century. It is not one culture drawing from another, it is an entirely new culture evolving from a mother culture that was transplanted into a different place.
    I would say, rather than a pseudomorphosis, what’s happening is a metamorphosis, with the elites not so much trying to impose a foreign culture on a native one, but rather to tenuously maintain a core set of cultural forms that is becoming increasingly irrelevant as local cultures continue to go their own way.
    Beyond this quibble, everything else is disintegrating, just as Spengler postulated.

  73. Oh, and on the whole notion of place affecting people, one of the more fascinating things done lately is when artists take thousands of images of people from a specific area, say, Sweden, or France, and they overlay them to create the ‘average’ face for that region, the differences can be seen immediately.
    Apparently the genius loci creates physical changes as well as a local shared mentality.

  74. Hi JMG, I have just a little thing to ask you to investigate (if you have time…)

    A guy I know that has some insight in numerology (and a pretty decent score in hit/miss forecasts), told me that next Sunday will be 11/11/2018.

    He noted that 2018 can be added up 2+0+1+8=11, so we have 11/11/11 and all together we have 33 , that (he say), is an important master number)

    His conclusion is that something BIG will happen on 11/11/2018.

    Do you (or your readers) have some insight in numerology? Why on Earth 11/11/11 or 33 should be so important?

    On the other hand, I would encourage readers to mark down news that they consider really important happening on 11/11/2018 and see if something interesting comes out, just for testing…

    Have a nice day

  75. I was born in Ohio and grew up in Michigan on a tiny farm raising poultry and beef cattle as a sidelight to my fathers full time factory job. My father on the other hand grew up on the same farm during the Great Depression then entered the service in 1945 where our local school did early graduation for young men who hit 18 before the end of the senior year so they could get into the next boot camp training cycle. As culturally one of the ‘underclass’ I have had no end of frustration talking to members of the intelligentsia who discounted everything I had to say simply because I was not ‘one of them’.

    Coming from this perspective in my 20’s I went searching for a faith I could believe in for my own reasons and quickly discovered that most of the ‘protestant’ christian faiths in North America are what a fellow I used to listen to on the radio called ‘junior league Catholics’. Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Episcopalians are all Roman Catholic in structure and function. Two groups often lumped in as ‘Protestant’ are actually very divergent from those roots, the Presbyterian/Calvinists of Scotland and the Anabaptist’s that came from the Swiss area back when it was still a jumble of states like Germany and Italy to its north and south respectively.

    Both of the divergent groups for different reasons developed in areas that were almost completely rural in make up and hence a great deal more egalitarian in practice than the urban centers which were the strongholds of the branches of the Roman Catholic faith. When I was searching for a faith to fill the void in my life I quickly learned that most of these branch faiths are rigidly hierarchical where even the local priest is very limited on their methods and practices because they are expected to follow the formula exactly and inculcate it to the congregants as the one true way. Ultimately they all look back to Rome or a different European city as their highest level for setting policy. Realize this is not as strong in the middle of the country however, I have since encountered an entire division of the Lutheran church I was unaware of in my 20’s that call themselves the ‘Wisconsin Synod’ that are more American in orientation even though outwardly they kept the hierarchy within their church, they just look to their American branch exclusively.

    For me non of the Roman Catholic based faith branches fit, they all felt like the same kind of ‘cultural snobbishness’ or the intelligentsia effect that coming into the church and attempting to participate it was made clear that to be accepted I would have to perfectly imitate the members who had been born and raised in that church and if I were lucky any children I eventually had might be accepted if they were strictly brought up in that church. This set my teeth on edge and I kept exploring until I discovered an Anabaptist church where I was welcomed just as I was and appreciated for what I could contribute to completely voluntary study sessions. The Anabaptist branch of Christianity won me over by accepting me rough spots and all. Sure they encourage me to be a better different person than I was and some of the preachers I have met over the last 25 years have been fire and brimstone while others have been love conquers all, but even the most fire and brimstone of the crowd was ready at the drop of a hat to counsel me in times of trouble with warmth and understanding.

    In Western Europe the Anabaptist faith remains a tiny and often despised minority. From its earliest days through the 18th century the Lutherans and Catholics would stop fighting one another and turn on the Anabaptist if such were found because they were ‘free thinkers’ and in a faith based on hierarchy no such persons can be allowed to live unmolested less they lead others to stray from the hierarchy. However when the Anabaptist arrived in North America initially they were no better off as the Anglicans of Virginia and the Puritans of Massachusetts had no more affection for them than the Lutherans or Catholics of central Europe. To escape this suppression of free thought the colony of Rhode Island was founded, like Manhattan being purchased from the natives rather than seized by force or deception, and encouraged freedom of religion.

    Most Americans have a hard time grasping the fact that certainly during colonial days if you were a breathing human being your were taxed by the civil authorities a tithe for the locally approved church. In New England your tithe went to the Puritan or reformed Anglican church, if you were in Virginia it went to the unreformed Anglican church and if you were in one of the non English colonies founded by the Dutch (Lutheran) French (Catholic) Swedish (Lutheran) Spanish (Catholic). If you lived in Rhode Island the civil authorities did not collect a Tithe from you for the approved faith because free thinkers allowed any faith. If you lived in the other colonies no matter what your personal beliefs from Atheist to flavors of Christian to Jewish or Native American you had a civil government enforced tithe to the approved faith and if you were permitted to have a different religious center for worship at all it was at your additional expense.

    Rhode Island is not a big place, today it is practically all urban center from edge to edge but even in 1650 it was the smallest colony and because it was purchased rather than seized it was quickly surrounded by the neighboring European colonies. If you wanted to maintain your free thinking ways before the Revolutionary War you had to either squeeze into Rhode Island or head off into the frontier and build a new settlement.

    I think this is where the difference in middle AMERICA and the coastal elites really comes from. The heartland is where the free thinkers went. Modern American Anabaptist have become just as split up and messy as any other branch of Christianity with many no longer using the term ‘baptist’ in their names. For example the Wesleyan churches all trace themselves back to the central European Anabaptist movement the same way the ‘southern Baptist’ do. On the east coast especially the Elites and the Intelligentsia were and still are looking to Europe as the cultural pinnacle they want to be part of. Meanwhile the free thinkers went around or through the Appalachians and built a nation as often as not in spite of the coastal elites as in concert with them. For 400 years those same coastal euro wannabe’s have been sneering at the labor class for not dedicating a large portion of our time in slavish imitation of the euro culture. Log cabins, simple Shaker style furniture from upstate New York, you can find examples all through American cultural history. The middle of the country is the real melting pot where we interchangeably mix cultural foods from just about anywhere. Today in what I find an amusing attempt by the intelligentsia to imitate this you see ‘fusion’ restaurants, the Chinese+Italian or Mexican+Swedish combo places where they take ingredients of one style and prepare it with methods of the other style and claim it is a new thing. Meanwhile Italian Pasta with Swedish meatballs, French bread, German beer and ice cream desert is considered ‘American’ food!

    In American media European things like clothes from Gucci or a car from Rolls Royce are still ooohed and ahhhed over as if they were the most desirable thing on earth, but here in the Midwest a pickup truck or SUV are still the preferred private vehicle because we have lots of experience with poorly maintained infrastructure where those vehicles give a real survival advantage. If I am stuck in a blizzard the last thing I want to be driving is a Rolls Royce or a Lamborghini. I know I am not independent of my culture to survive, but I am independent enough to know if I drive a fancy European vehicle and have to be towed out of a snow bank my neighbors will be reminding me of it for the rest of my life. It isn’t exactly ‘self sufficient’ in the ultimate sense of the word, but it is sort of common sense level self reliance. We don’t need Intelligentsia to micromanage our lives in the Midwest, mostly we just want them to go do their thing somewhere else and leave us alone. This causes them to hate us passionately. For the last 50+ years they have been dismantling the industrialization of middle America which has really damaged the income and job choices of people living here. The backlash against that is what placed President Trump in office, and if you look on a political contest by candidate picture you will see the majority of the R house members replaced came from the ‘never Trump’ contingent who did everything they could to distance themselves from the President. In Ohio the Never Trump governor was term limited out and could not run for reelection and his successor was losing in the polls right up until he started talking up President Trump and the fact that his policies have been a huge boost to the Ohio economy. As a result he eked out a win over his opponent who was promising mostly free stuff like health care, as if getting taxpayers to fund something makes it free!

  76. @Violet,
    funny, but most alternate histories which have the South winning the Civil War have the Confederacy, which eventually includes pretty much all of the hinterland/”team red” integrating w/Latin America, and the Eastern Seaboard being foiled in its attempt to further the Faustian pseudomorphosis on its way to empire.

  77. @JMG: That was my impression as well, and I’m glad of it! On the one hand, I don’t want extremists to dominate (one thing I am sad about is that a Holocaust denier won, and I wouldn’t want, say, militant veganism or police abolition to become a central plank of the Democratic platform), but on the other hand, I want to have at least two parties. (Ideally I’d want those organized around different ideas of what actually works in terms of balancing personal liberty and greater needs, rather than religious or quasi-religious ideology, but I’d also like a million dollars.) And as someone who dislikes a great deal of the GOP agenda (although, to be fair, the bits I dislike most are probably more Pence and/or McConnell than Trump), I would far rather have GOP senators who are up-front about their support than those who wibble and make ambiguous statements and then vote the party line anyhow, in a political version of a dating strategy I can’t name on this site. 🙂

    @Cliff: I hear you entirely about the 24-hour news networks. First there’s the reporting, then there’s the speculation, then (hopefully) there’s the corrections to the speculation, then there’s the thirty-five talking head programs analyzing the story and bringing on celebrity guests…no, thank you. My dad loves the talking heads, and loves to argue with them. He has very strong ideas of what the Democrats should have done. I agree with them, and they correspond with a lot of what I’ve read here, but as I’ve told him, unless he wants to try and take over the DCCC, that and five bucks will get him a hamburger. (I think he just likes an argument, especially now that he’s no longer feuding with a cardinal–avian, not ecclesiastical.) Mom and I are much more “read the paper, tsk/shrug, read a book/watch old movies” people; we also have lower blood pressure, which I can’t claim with any authority is related, but still.

  78. @Will J,
    the thing about Canada, Canadians seem to have a congenital reaction to anything Canadian. Starting w/the Loyalists, moving on to being America’s lapdog, then the whole multiculturalism push, Canadians seem to be even more estranged from/allergic to their land than the Americans, and that’s saying something.

  79. Reading this hit me pretty hard, as I’d had no idea how much I’d identified in the past w/the intelligentsia, but being of a working class background, I never really fit in. But I certainly idealized Europe. IDK, for the most part, I think my home would probably be among the alt-right if the noxious bigotry wasn’t a total turn off. At this point, I’m left disconnected from anything. Sometimes, I think the idealizing of the poor, whether white rural or minority inner city, etc., detracts from the pathos and dysfunction of poverty in America. When you’re down there in the thick of it, dealing w/it every day on the factory floor, where it’s every man for himself and everyone is willing to climb over you just so they can get the slightest bit ahead, and where drug addicted friends and family will steal and sell anything that isn’t nailed down, it’s a totally different story. Even if you are empathetic to the plight of (take your pick) the inner city or rural poor, the pathos is overwhelming when you’re in the thick of it.

  80. @Isabel, others,
    I hope you are right about a Dem renaissance. I’m still a registered Dem and am just voting GOP strategically b/c they are the only ones offering a change, and the Dems still seem so wedded to the status quo.

  81. John, et al.–

    This touches perhaps more on tamanous from last week, and might ramble a bit, so my apologies beforehand. What sparked these thoughts were comments above re bigotry, Kim Davis, notions of popular will, and some recent experiences of my own.

    This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of a coworker of mine, a bright twentysomething who recently joined our accounting staff. It was a church ceremony, as both my coworker and her now-husband are people of faith, and one of the key scriptural elements of the service was the (in)famous passage from Ephesians regarding the roles of husbands and wives. Not my cup of tea, but not my wedding either — this ceremony was the expression of the love and faith of the two individuals standing at the altar. Anyone else’s opinion the matter is irrelevant. (On the other hand, Saint Paul’s thoughts on the matter notwithstanding, I can tell you with great certainty who the exchequer of that family is…)

    Re the news on Kim Davis and “bigotry” generally. Back when I was actively commenting on PoliticalWire, “racist” was the accusation of choice, challenged in primacy only by “fascist.” However, people have the right to their own opinions on things, including “racist” ones. Where they are limited is in the application of those opinions to action. A person has every right to say, for example, “I will not marry someone of a different race/the same gender/a certain religion/whatever.” They also have the right to act on that statement in their personal lives. What they don’t have the right to do, of course, is to impose that opinion on others. Kim Davis has every right to consider homosexual relations as sinful. “Sin” is a religious concept, not a legal one. Where she erred was in failing to separate her personal beliefs from her role as a government official. (No less so than, say, a county health inspector who happens to be an observant Jew and refuses to license restaurants who fail to keep kosher.) In short, people have a right to be “bigoted” or “racist” or the like in their personal lives and thoughts, just as each one of us has the right to those same freedoms. I certainly don’t want someone telling me what thoughts are permissible to think or what values are permissible to hold.

    Finally, the notion of “popular will” has its use, but I find that it is twisted more in the service of one perspective or another all too frequently. The Framers, fortunately, were incredibly suspicious of centralized power and mob-mentality. We, unfortunately, have sought to undo some of those protections. However, certain things are hard-coded into the Constitution — the Senate, for example — which serve to limit the power of any one group, no matter how populous, and there are proper boundaries as to what degree one portion of the country should be able to tell another portion of the country how to live.

    I’ve seen discussions of the “popular vote” of the Senatorial elections, which is a ridiculous concept on its face. Allowing exaggeration for effect, there may be a gazilion voters in California and only three in Montana, but each state still gets two senators. Compiling those votes into a “popular vote” is meaningless and irrelevant. That fact that large numbers of people living on the two coasts believe certain things is all fine and good, and their numbers and concentration allow them to run the societies in the affected states in accordance to those values to a great degree, but there are still limits as to what they can impose on everyone else. There are those who believe that we all ought to conform to the worldview of our bi-coastal betters (certainly, the bi-coastal betters themselves believe this), but I disagree — and so far, the limitations of power built into our framework of governance have held up under that pressure.

    Human freedom is best manifested as a multitude of societies embracing a multitude of worldviews and living as best they can in accordance with those various beliefs. The imposition of conformity, no matter how well-intended or honestly-believed, is a tragedy and a destruction of that freedom. Compromise, messy and arbitrary as it may be, and the allowance of others to hold values with which we may disagree (perhaps very strongly) remain the best paths forward.

    To the extent that the intelligentsia is a force of conformity, then its death is perhaps not a bad thing.

  82. Really love the comment about the “retailing of the future,” and also how you drew in awful-hipster-chic. You basically described the set and noxious characters for NBC’s “Friends,” which seems to have affected the mindscape like so many toxic fumes.

    I guess it’s in some part due to folks like Deleuze, Derrida, etc., that I have a bit of distrust about European intellectuals, though I am attracted to more obscure strains of that realm. I found, for example, Roland Barthes’s observations about the differences between wrestlers and boxers, and how the former run circles around the latter despite the depth of training, to be entertaining. And an American intellectual (forget who) compared Trump to wrestlers and all his opponents to boxers, which I thought was really rather effective! Mr. Campagna’s book “Technic and Magic” has opened my mind to some thinkers and artists I’ve heard about passingly–notably Fernando Pessoa and Ernst Juenger. There’s another obscure book though that sparked something in me that I am seeing being rekindled with the talk about Vine Deloria and the spirits of the land.

    Robert Pirsig (of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” fame) wrote a second book called “Lila.” I don’t remember much about the plot, but the narrator makes this comment that it wasn’t European Enlightenment ideas that drew the immigrants to this land, but the Native American concepts that were “Europeanized” by that same Enlightenment. On some level, the people from the Italian villages, Irish hamlets, eastern European shtetls, etc., were drawn here perhaps due to an inchoate yearning after this “Tamanous” that is being described. However, the Faustian mode of co-opting and repurposing ideas, philosophies and even individual people to their own purposes has no doubt convinced people that European=Haudenosaunee, etc., and pretty effectively sends non-Technic-replicable ideas into a memory hole provided for the easy discarding of such notions. It’s always stuck with me, to be sure. Plus the Sanskrit word “Lila” which means “divine play”–an aspect of the book that I also remember with fondness.

    Thinking one day–don’t know if i will do this, but I’d like to create a “Rocky Mountain Ogham” some day. I’m curious about plants like Elephant Head, for example.

  83. Another great article, John. A couple of thoughts…

    …I guess this is part of why it will be useful to reinvigorate our culture with some of the early strains of American folk culture (whether played on dobro or dulcimer I don’t know).I can see how those might mix with some of the cultural forms that have emerged from the underclass and are peculiarly American: rap music for example.

    Sometimes, when I am out walking in the woods and on the land in Ohio, Kentucky or Indiana (the places where I’ve done the most hiking and camping) I do feel the whispers on the wind that you described. I feel like there is something of the future that is tied to our past.

    Somehow, out of the land, if we listen to it, we can help plant the seeds, trim the intelligentsia weeds, and have some new things grow.

    I wrote a poem a number of years ago, that reflects some of these themes. It’s not that long, so I’d like to share it:


    There’s an ole weird America
    my Granpa used to know
    where horeshoes hung on painted signs
    and hexes beamed from old barn doors.
    It’s hard to see now,
    because the light from stores
    clouds out stellar light
    and the daily mind, trivial, has sunk low.

    too many bars
    too much time
    spent in them, spent behind them

    not enough
    down in cornfields
    among the circled crops
    of the Heart Land.

    Down where the grass is blue
    the moon used to shine
    a midnight medicine when cold winds blew,
    but now, with the steel factories closed
    and the barn fallen over
    with the trailer boarded up
    all you hear are the ghostly echoes
    of that ole weird America
    the last plucked string
    of a homemade dobro.

    Cause all the people have packed their bags
    to join the new Imperium,
    called by the click, culled by the coin
    clink clink clink
    they’ve walked on and forgotten
    the rusty drinking songs of coal barges,
    neighborly waves and nods,
    local colors stripped like the mountains
    making way for auto malls.

    Inside the big box walls,
    John Henry’s hammer can’t be heard
    the railways been paved over
    and their ain’t no time for a strange birds call
    the hoary haunts replaced by nowheres
    a limbo of broken carts, emptied shopping lots.

    pray the kudzu cover all

    But there’s a locket wrapped with hair
    down deep in hidden pockets,
    a heart pumping blood
    among the oddballs and the lint,
    amidst the shorn paper
    of the shorn people.

    within them:
    untapped aquifers

    subcutaneous reservoirs
    where all secret rivers run

  84. Some unclear thinking:

    How can Scandinavia be a haven if Denmark is happy and Sweden is miserable? Second, not all solutions scale up from 6 million people to 300 million. Third, if it’s lack of sunshine that oppresses Swedes, how can Denmark, a few miles away, be happy?

    The term ‘Gerrymandering’ was coined in 1812. There wasn’t a lot of time to re-gerrymander the gerrymander that won swing elections in Bush, then Obama, then Trump, so what additional landslide obstacle did the DNC have to overcome over their 2008 win of House, Senate, and Presidency? (PS, was that not enough majority to enact their advertised policies? Bonus question: was Trump’s or Bush’s majorities not enough to enact their policies either? If no one enacts their polities when they have complete majorities, why do they advertise them? Did the founders set the system this way so that it evolves with frustrating slowness instead of capsizing with changing fashion?)

    As Greer says, we might as well not discuss popular vote, since nothing is decided that way and never has been. If anyone ever tried to switch to popular vote, as has been suggested, 45 states would secede tomorrow as only NY, CA, and IL would ever be represented again. Worse, even there, only the cities would be represented, and never again the 90% of rural counties. That’s why we do it by electoral – to save your countrymen and give them a voice, and not tyrannically oppress them. This 100-year pressure to disenfranchise everyone who’s not in the ‘right’ zip code of the ‘right’ city of the ‘right’ state, i.e. practically everyone, may have something to do with why the ‘wrong’ people are now cranky and buy all the guns. Let your brother speak his mind. Then listen.

  85. @Tripp,
    I wonder if your views of the rural working class aren’t colored by the fact that you are not a part of them? That you don’t have to work in the factories that they do to make ends meet? Unless Georgia has become a whole ‘nother ball of wax than KY, the pathos and dysfunction among the working class is palpable. If you’ve worked in the places I’ve worked, the refrain is “you can’t trust anyone”. Sometimes, I think that people like you and JMG can have these rosy views b/c you’re not a part of that class, and are not really down in the muck w/’em. JMG doesn’t even live in red America anymore and is no longer interacting w/red America on a daily basis.

  86. I should qualify about alt-right: by all means, as a fairly intelligent, somewhat sexually frustrated, loser w/no ambition who’s done “nothing” w/his life and desperately wants the System/US to fail, I should be a card-carrying member of the alt-right, but my outlook on race and diversity is pretty much diametrically opposed to theirs, so.

  87. @Will J,
    well, they say that 90% of all Canadians live w/in 100 mi. of the US border, and that Canada has the least developed Arctic of all Arctic nations, so I’m wondering if there is something to this fear of the land thing. Canadians do seem less magical/spiritual and more atheist than Americans…

  88. @Strda,
    and yet, in spite of all the voter suppression (which I don’t deny), two unabashedly progressive African Americans, one female, virtually tied the governor’s race in Fla. and Ga. That is something that NEVER would have occurred in George Wallace and Orval Faubus times. (BTW, anyone notice how endangered accents are? Neither of the candidates for Mass. gov. “sounded” like they were from Mass., and Abrams has no discernible accent–of course, Kemp has it in spades…)

  89. “Patricia, to give credit where credit is due, Germany basically ruins Europe now.” I think ol’ Dr. Freud just did a triple gainer in his grave, though truer words were probably never written!

  90. Thanks for your exposition, Tanada! I was raised in a Baptist church myself, though I have preferred liturgical churches as an adult. I think those are two separate axes: hierarchical vs member-supported (where I prefer member-supported) and liturgical vs free-form (where I derive more nourishment from a liturgy), but it is very hard to find the free liturgical communities that JMG has mentioned before.

    With regard to the interior/Midwest mentality, I cannot make any comment “from the inside”, since I have always preferred to live in places with at least a few centuries of local history. I think the hundreds of new towns that arose in Europe in the 10th to13th centuries initially had a rather similar self-made mentality as later the American settlements, but personally I much prefer a place where every street corner has a history. The Australian and American peoples before European colonization had stories for every rock, hill and stream. What appals and almost nauseates me is the idea of living in a place without history, because the native histories were lost and new histories have not yet grown. It seems to me that some places in the USA have had enough time to grow such histories (as has Québec), but the constant turnover of people would seem to counteract their transmittance.

    Some such oral histories were preserved interspersed in the genealogies of I Chronicles. Sigrid Lavransdottir, one of my favorite books, mentions the tomb of the “First Settler”, the first (and now nameless) ancestor who built a house and planted crops in a place, and who still receives offerings. Naipaul’s “Travels among the believers” affirms that in Sumatra, after 2000 years of agriculture and after conversion to Islam, people still make offerings to the first rice-farmer of the place. “Engine Summer” (a book I read after it was recommended on the ADR and now recommend myself) imagines such dense oral histories in the far future of North America.

    I am sure these local histories will arrive in most places in North America, given a few centuries. In the meanwhile everybody must listen to their own feelings, and for me identification with old history is not an affectation, but a necessity.

  91. I’m enjoying this series very much, but for some reason this entry made a question occur to me… if it’s too far off-topic, maybe you could answer it on Magic Monday instead…

    What about the gods? I’ve fairly recently felt drawn to honor a particular European folk goddess (and feel better and more settled about that choice than about pretty much any of my previous pagan dilettantism). Now, maybe people who honor, oh, Aphrodite don’t have this concern, but I can’t help but feel a bit of trepidation as I learn more about this goddess and realize how deeply intertwined She is with the place of Her origin: its geography, climatological patterns, flora and fauna…

    The indigenous gods and spirits of my resident locality would be of Native American origin, and as an “educated” white American indoctrinated to all of the social proprieties, trying to engage with them just doesn’t feel permissible. So as a white American, essentially the only gods available for me to worship are non-local… and most popularly those of the European pseudomorphosis.

    What does this mean for American neopagans? What happens to the gods as a new culture arises? Do the old gods of the pseudomorphosis travel and adapt? Do new gods arise with the culture – or become recognized by it – as a population comes into its own in previously colonized territory? I’m very curious as to your opinion on the matter, though I understand that you’re busy right now.

    Thanks, Tif

  92. @Jasper

    Heavy gerrrymandering only started in full after the 2010 census, where maps started being drawn using powerful computer-assisted tools. Look at what was done in the Austin area, for instance. Or Louisiana’s 2nd congressional district.
    Also, giving more value to the popular vote would in no way make rural areas matter less, for a simple reason: the Senate. As Tuesday’s elections have shown, you can badly lose the popular vote and yet make gains in the Senate. As it should, if I understand the spirit in which the American system was devised.

  93. Quos Ego, I’m not sure you’ve been paying enough attention; my analysis isn’t talking about “people vs. elites’ — that’s a standard liberal-to-points-left talking point. My analysis is about working class vs. middle class in a narrow sense, and in the broader sense — which I’ve discussed quite often, you know — the complex set of intertwined class struggles that pit the middle class and the politically active end of the poverty class against the investor class and the politically active end of the working class. What’s more, neither of these alliances accounts for a majority. In the election just past, fewer than 48% of adult American citizens actually voted, so — again, as I’ve discussed quite often — both parties represent relatively modest fractions of the American people. Finally, the threefold division between elites, intelligentsia, and masses cuts across the class lines just outlined; not all members of the intelligentsia are members of the middle class, for example.

    Mark L., well, you’re going to have to wait until you can find someone with reasoned arguments and a steady hand who’s willing to discard the failed policies of neoliberal economics and embrace sensible tariffs, the wholesale pruning of excess regulation, and the enforcement of immigration laws, then. Those are the policies that are making life better for a lot of working class Americans right now. As for the future, my guess is that it’s less unpredictable than all that. I expect Trump to win reelection handily in 2020, not least because of the ongoing economic consequences of the policies I noted above; I expect to see the Democrats, probably in the wake of the 2020 defeat, discard the GOP-Lite policies of the Clinton-Obama years and embrace something closer to democratic socialism, simply because that’s what their voters are demanding; I expect to see a massive reshuffling of the global order as US hegemony sunsets out and the dollar stops being the world’s reserve currency, leading to very sharp economic contraction in the prosperous coastal enclaves in the US but a significant economic expansion in the hinterland — and then, as the period of domestic and international crisis winds down, I expect to see populists in the GOP and democratic socialists in the Dems finding out that they really do have some interests in common, leading to the sort of “new normal” that routinely follows this sort of era of polarization.

    Scotlyn and Frank, clearly my clumsy fingers were smarter than I was! 😉

    Renaissance, obviously I disagree. Still, if you don’t find Spengler’s analysis useful, don’t use it.

    Phitio, this sort of claim gets retailed fairly regularly. I recall a very large amount of hoopla around 11/11/2011. A lot of people were waiting for something to happen at 11:11 am, and then again twelve hours later. Guess what? Nothing happened. The current calendar is not a sacred calendar; I’ve never seen any evidence suggesting that its numbers track anything in the way of meaningful cycles. Still, no doubt we’ll see.

    Tanada, that’s an important bit of history. I’m not sure if you’re aware that Pennsylvania and Maryland also had religious liberty (and freedom from enforced tithing) from colonial days — that’s why Anabaptist groups such as the Mennonites and Amish settled in Pennsylvania in such numbers, and why various other minority religious groups settled Maryland in large numbers. Rhode Island was certainly at the far end of things, though — it was the first place in the colonies where you could be an atheist without legal penalties, and the locals still prize Roger Williams’ famous quote: “Forced worship stinks in the nostrils of God!”

    You might be surprised at how much of Rhode Island is still very green, by the way. The urban core is mostly north and east; head south and west, and you’re in the kind of rural backwaters where you’re not local unless your grandparents grew up there. (The term “swamp Yankee” locally has roughly the same loading as “white trash” has in the South, and the differences are mostly a matter of accent.)

    Isabel, I’m not a great fan of socialism as a governing ideology, but it has one immense advantage — if you have a significant socialist presence in your electorate, the rich panic and back away from their usual habits of absurd kleptocratic excess. We could use a good dose of that right now!

    Shane, I hear you. I came out of the rock-bottom end of the middle class — both my parents were schoolteachers, which is the usual first rung up for working class families, and came from utterly working class backgrounds — and so I’ve never really felt comfortable in either class; of course I chose not to take the middle class career route, and used working class jobs purely as a way to make a living until my writing took off. It makes for a curious sense of disconnection. Agreed, also, about the idealization of poverty. Being poor and victimized doesn’t make you a better person, or for that matter a worse one — there, I’ve gone and offended both parties again. 😉

    David, ever since the Constitution was ratified, zealots for this or that cause have decried it because it gets in their way. Right now it’s the zealots on the left; not that long ago it was the zealots on the right. Myself, I consider “getting in the way of zealots” to be a feature, not a bug!

    Richard, there are a lot of great European authors — you’ve doubtless seen me citing Spengler and Toynbee by the bushel basket! Freezing up into a Europe-rejecting stasis is just as unhelpful as freezing up into a Europe-adoring stasis; it strikes me as far more useful to pick and choose — scooping up Vico here, tossing aside Derrida there. 😉

    Justin, thank you for this. Maybe we need a campaign to Make America Weird Again…

    Jasper, for unclear thinking, that seems pretty clear to me.

  94. RPC, no doubt!

    T.R., some deities seem to be highly portable; others, less so. The ease with which certain deeply rooted European folk religions have found a home here in North America suggests to me that either the deities in question aren’t quite so limited by geography as some others, or that spiritual powers indigenous to the American land are perfectly willing to be addressed by those names too.

  95. IDK, I just sense a kind of hagiography of the rural working class in how JMG and Tripp discuss them that is not exactly accurate and does not convey reality.

  96. @JMG

    Fair enough!
    But one point I’ve made remains: due to gerrymandering, the retaking of the House by the Dems is in my view much more significant than you make it to be. So I wouldn’t be so quick to discount it.

  97. @Shane: I hope so too! I am encouraged by the youth and diversity I see in the people who largely did get elected on the left, but we’ll see what ends up happening.

    @David: Absolutely agreed. As long as she’s not mixing her hideous personal views with her job, she has the right to hold them–but I, in turn, have the right to think and say that they, and she in turn, are hideous, and as long as *I’m* not trying to make the government keep her from voicing said views in a public platform, I have the right to say that, were she and her ilk on fire, I’d not waste a secondhand box of wine on them, if you know what I mean.

    And if a public official expresses views that their constituents disagree with, or feel uncomfortable with from someone who’s supposed to represent them, they have every right to vote that official into (hopefully) obscurity. Which the people of Davis’s county did, for whatever reason, and good on them.

    Rights all the way down, really.

  98. @JMG: Good point!

    I’m not entirely sold on socialism entirely myself–I probably end up somewhere around “social democracy,” and friends’ experiences with property building (zoning requirements mean your house *in southern Washington* absolutely has to stand up to three feet of snow) or the attempts to intervene in food/beverage/inhaled-substance consumption bring out my otherwise-absent libertarian streak*–but I’ve gone strongly over to it these days as an antidote to unfettered capitalism, with the hopes that the result will be somewhere in the actual middle.

    * I guess if I summed up my political standpoint, it would be that we should give everyone the basic means (including readily-available information) to avoid various kinds of self-destruction, but if adults choose it anyhow, we should butt right out, so long as they’re not harming third parties. Which gets complicated in real life, but everything does.

  99. This post and some of the comments are helping me to helpfully frame some of my own internal struggles. I grew up in middle class, non-intellegentsia family in the suburban south, but starting in my teen years I had a burning desire to leave and head to more “cultured” areas. I went to a prestigious, liberal arts university and found what I was looking for. I spent the next few years trying to become a cultured member of the academic intelligentsia, but looking back I always had a sense that I was a fraud and would never fit into that world. I can now see that a good part of my internal struggles over the past couple of years have been accepting who I am, which is not an elite, cultured academic. I would say I’m still a part of the intelligentsia, but my love of Anna Karenina and the character of Levin (i.e. Tolstoy) now makes a bit more sense! I’d much rather be growing vegetables or baking bread than endlessly posturing in a big city.

    I am still unsure of how to move forward. Where I grew up, displaying an interest in intellectual pursuits automatically gets you labeled an elitist, but I’m not interested in denying my real and legitimate interests. That would also be denying who I am. I also don’t accept the caricature that members of the laboring classes are all anti-intellectuals. That has not been my experience. But I also have a desire to, and am already pursuing a path, that chooses to not exploit my privileges and opportunities that only lead to furthering myself up the elite ladder at the expense of others.

    JMG, as a member of the intelligentsia who seems to have found a balance between being who you are and also being able to interact well with people outside of the intelligentsia, what has been your experience? Any advice for someone trying to navigate the “separating icebergs” as a commenter put so well above?

  100. I think I have always felt a very strong sense of place to where I currently live, Salt Lake area, and have felt it even as a child. I grew up about 50 miles south of my current home and even though I was transplanted to Las Vegas for a period of time and came to appreciate the land to a degree, (I find the desert very clean and austere) I came back to my “home” place as soon as I could.

    I have also noticed the strong effect that landscape has on me as I have made some travels through the country and that always made a stronger impression then the people I have met who are generally very nice. However, most of the people I traveled to meet were transplants themselves, so I don’t know if I every noticed how the land shaped them.

    Speaking for myself, I find the coastal northwest claustrophobic. My one and only trip so far to the east coast felt somewhat the same, just too many trees. I couldn’t see the shape of the land, it’s bones. I have nothing against trees, except when they are so crowded together. No, I am not an advocate of clear cutting and I am very glad that there are those who want to preserve those landscapes and live with them.

    Out in the plains, central Texas has been the site of most of these experiences, I am always disoriented due to the lack of mountains from which to take a bearing from. I also noticed that Montana is not called Big Sky country for no reason. Southern Utah has a very spiritual quality to me that seems to be the same quality that people ascribe to the redwood forests.

    I am not making judgements on these places except as to how they apply to me. Other’s mileage will differ and rightly so. It is just very evident to me that the land does leave it’s mark and that where ever our next pseudomorphosis will come from, the land will play a part.

  101. Earlier today I read here a comment by a self-defined liberal written explicitly as a tongue-in-cheek dialogue with JMG, and I was looking forward to the reply. It has now disappeared, what happened?

  102. On the topic of the election, I want to say I find it funny how people are ignoring the fact that people matter, and making it all about parties. I think lots of people vote for the person, not the party, and especially given places like Montana, which sent a Democrat to the Senate and a Republican to the House, arguing otherwise seems rather strange.


    I honestly think we’re just picking up bad habits from the US. As for the arctic, I’ve been quite far north, and it’s not fear of the land: the arctic is cold! It’s hard for people who aren’t used to it to live in the area, and our society is adjusted for warmer, so it makes sense people wouldn’t be moving up en mass.


    I think we may have something even weirder: I know quite a few people who are American and would probably fit the definition of Intelligentsia, who seem to have accepted they aren’t European, but want to be the next best thing: Canadian. The results are the American intelligentsia mimicking an intelligentsia mimicking the American intelligentsia, with both sides mimicking Scandinavians, who, from what I’ve heard, find the whole thing ridiculous and wish North Americans would just be North Americans.

  103. “Anti-majoritarian” appears to be surging as the popular term du jour for heaping disdain on the constraints imposed by the Constitution (and in particular, on the nature of the Senate) just now.

    @ JMG

    Re the task-list item: “zealots, the getting in the way of”

    I agree whole-heartedly! May the limits built into our governing structure continue to hold and may they be strengthened in the future. If we can manage to keep zealots of all stripes at bay and reinstate a measure of de-centralization, then perhaps there is hope for the Republic still 🙂

  104. I’m so glad Kim Davis is gone. Morehead and Rowan Co. are better than that, and they did not deserve the black mark and bad reputation she gave them. Maybe now she’ll have more time to wear her tarnished halo in places like Romania and Uganda, etc…

  105. Dear John Michael Greer,

    Thanks for another thought-inspiring read– and, as ever, I thank you also for maintaining a troll-free comments section.

    I understand what you mean about the land itself. I feel a strong, heart-centered pull to certain places– not to the culture but to the land, deep into the land, and the air. I suspect that, somewhat like telepathic communication, we all sense such “pulls” to some degree, but without cultural context or nuanced vocabulary it is exceedingly difficult to talk about it.

    @ Justin Patrick Moore Thanks for sharing your excellent “Weird Old America”. Did you by chance know Harry Smith, publisher of The Smith?

    Kind regards,


  106. And yet, for all the gerrymandering, every initiative to create an independent redistricting commission won, and some of those were red states…

  107. You mentioned a couple of times the rise of Caesarism today. As far as I know Caesar (and his antecessors) were able to ride a wave of populism into power because the military and economic engines of the empire were the army and the veterans.

    This explains to me why they were so successful and why the life under emperors was much better than under the corrupt oligarchy of the senate. We do get a distorted view because most writing was done by or for rich senators, but all we have to do is see how the history unfolded.

    Later in history, the working classes in the cities provided support for socialists.

    The question is: today the economic engine is the fossil fuels and the military engine is technology (again driven by fossil fuels). I just can’t see the poor coming to rallies driving their pimped up trucks. Right now, they can still use elections but who knows for how long?

    Do you think populist movements have any future? Or we skip straight to the roving bands of “barbarians” (people that never had cars so they know how to walk).

  108. John–

    Ran across a comment a short while ago that seems to wrap much of what has been discussed so far into a tidy package — from Star Trek technology to class & cultural disdain.

    Amidst a proclamation of the evils of anti-majoritarianism generally and the wrongness of the Senate specifically: “Farmers and Christians can go [frack] themselves!”

    Apparently, this individual’s food replicator is already on order…

  109. JMG – I was delighted when you posted “to give credit where credit is due, Germany basically ruins Europe now.” That is either a lovely bit of wit, or the best Freudian slip I’ve seen in years. Not to mention hitting the nail on the head!

    Also, you said “I think that a lot of the problem is that the intelligentsia could afford to be bohemian and countercultural when its prestige and power weren’t threatened. Now that that’s no longer the case, a lot of them are going into defensive mode and backing away from anyone who looks too poor — after all, they don’t want poverty to rub off on them! ” Being somewhat hippie-minded myself, I ran the question by me in meditation, “Am I a Bohemian?” and promptly got the answer “Bohemian is a fashion statement, not an identity.” LOL!

  110. Phitio – 11/11/2018 is also the centennial of the end of World War I, the war that brought down the old social order in Europe, triggered the Russian Revolution (among other factors) and started the British Empire on its downward slide. For what that’s worth. It, renamed as Veteran’s Day, is also a holy day in modern American heathenry.

  111. I shudder to see so many people discussing with glee the idea that Maxine Waters may be able to subpoena Trump’s tax returns and similar ‘now we can impeach him’ rhetoric. Impeachment is a complete waste of time without conviction, which requires control of the Senate. If the Democrats fritter away their lead in Congress on such matters instead of getting down to immigration reform, actual medical insurance reform, insuring the security of Social Security and other issues important to the working class I greatly fear that 2020 will be another loss. Trump announced his plan at the press conference after the election. All problems will belong to the Democrats. Whatever he accomplishes, he will claim; whatever he fails to accomplish, he will blame.

    While it is true than many Native Americans were killed, placed on reservations and immiserated by American culture I think it is a mistake to regard them as having no influence on it. Thousands of American children have attended summer camps filled with Indian crafts and formed their cabins into fake tribes for competitions. The Boy Scout Order of the Arrow uses Native American symbolism as do many adult organizations. Some of the manifestations of the influence are bizarre when you come to think about it. One can hardly imagine the Romans paying defeated Celtic warriors to reenact the burning of Londinium for the amusement of audiences around the Empire, like Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show reenacting Custer’s defeat with some of the very warriors who had been there. Of course much of this is the American version of Orientalism–romanticizing the ‘other.’ But there is also evidence that the Iroquois League influenced the writing of the Constitution. Films are another strong influence, too much to comment on here. And the New Age incorporation of vision quests, sweat lodges, shamanism, totem animals, etc. is an entire other topic.

  112. Very interesting, am enjoying this series of posts very much. It brings to mind the discussion of land spirits you talked about a few posts back. I moved to the US in the late 80s, after living most of my life in the UK plus a couple of years in Italy. My wife grew up Italian American in Connecticut. It was interesting meeting her family – almost out of central casting for suburban Italian Americans – continuing these ersatz Italian traditions in a colonial house in the middle of the New England forest. They seemed very confident and at home, but didn’t seem to really belong. And they certainly weren’t like the Italians I had known back in Milan. These Italian Americans were a strange stew of old and new. But back then I thought they were the future, that America was the future. Like a lot of Brits my age I fell in love, in the 60s and 70s, with the idea of an America that was already long gone by the time I moved here.

    Flash forward to today. We live in an old farm house in a more rural part of Connecticut, on a road named for an old chief of the Wangunk tribe. My wife, who is quite intuitive, senses his presence. I visit the site in the woods out back that is supposed to be the foundation of his old hut. The town, like much of New England, has seen better days. There are signs of decay all around if you want to look, and probably the high point of its prosperity was in the 80s. My wife’s large family is aging, of the 5 siblings we only managed 4 kids, 3 of them mine – brit/italian/american hybrids. And the Italian traditions have been forgotten. Increasingly I have the sense that we are winding down, although that’s no doubt coming in part from my own aging.

    But, at the same time, your closing comments about “some opportunities for celebration as well” resonate. This last election turned CT even bluer. I voted for a few blues, some reds and some greens (I’m a colorful voter), but only the blues won. My Democrat friends seem to think a corner has been turned, although they don’t seem very convinced. I enjoy your writing so much for the sense of historical perspective you bring. It’s nice to have a sense of the big picture, but much more humbling and confusing to live at the pace that history actually moves!

  113. The talking point that a presidential popular vote gives all control to the coasts or to CA and NY just doesn’t make sense. Texas is the second most populous state. But saying the popular vote gives all the power to California and Texas doesn’t exactly make for a good talking point. California has just over a tenth of the country’s population.

    It’s also important to note that Republicans in California would be greatly empowered by a popular vote because then it is worth it for Republicans to push their vote in California up from 35% to 40% or whatever. It is the Electoral College that gives all of California’s vote to Democrats. If California was splitting it’s influence 60-40 or 55-45, then it wouldn’t seem as dominant and scary as it apparently does to some people now.

    But for me the basic issue is that in a single election for one position, the person with the most votes has to be the winner. If we need ways to protect rural areas or small states, we need to find other ways. As already pointed out there is the Senate. In the history of the US, we have really only had 3 presidents who did not win both the popular vote and electoral college, and two of them were the last two Republican Presidents. If you don’t realize that part of the angst and intensity on the left is because they won the vote but not the office, you are missing it. Not that they would disappear if Trump won the PV, but there would be a lot fewer of them doing what they do. And who knows, maybe Trump would win the PV, but he didn’t.

    Although I’m not thrilled with the structure of the Senate, it is a viable way to prevent a majority from going overboard. Having a candidate with less votes win elections is a recipe for chaos, and chaos is what we have. (Not suggesting that’s the only reason we have chaos). The EC is kind of like the American appendix – an old useless thing that nobody even realized they had – until it ruptures.

  114. @ Quos Ego

    Gerrymandering is a long American tradition. Following the voting rights act in the 1960s, Democrats honed their skills and took those skills with them when they later became Republicans. I guess I’m less sure computer technology made an enormous difference after the 2010 census since the practice has existed since districts have been drawn as described in this article:

    I like the gerrymandered map of Massachusetts heading into the election of 1812. Politicians know where their voters are and have long constructed districts accordingly. This practice highlights the need for Democrats to make gains in state legislatures heading into the election of 2020. If they do make those gains, I doubt they will be any less ruthless than Republicans in drawing up the districts.

    As for the popular vote in the Senate, it is important to remember other quirks in the American electoral system. Where I live, California, only two Democrats were on the ballot for the open Senate seat. Between them they received 6.2 million votes. Those numbers grossly distort the “popular” vote because while either candidate would have destroyed a Republican challenger, the Republican would likely have received over 2.5 million votes (similar to the Republican gubernatorial candidate I’m guessing). Between the NY and CA Senate races the Democrats won by a combined 8 million votes, as Republicans have essentially given up on both states at the statewide level.

    Democrats need to figure out how to compete outside of those two bubbles which serve to inflate their “popular” vote because of the sheer margins of their victories in those two states. I put “popular” in quotes because the California system has kept Republicans off the ballot in the Senate races in both 2016 and 2018. I live in California, but I’m guessing the rest of the country doesn’t care about the Democrat’s margin of victory here and think the state shouldn’t have any more political say than its 55 electoral votes and 55 member Congressional delegation provide.

  115. Tanada, I’m interested by your view of the Wisconsin Synod as “more American.” I was sent to a WELS day school and remember noticing its Germanness–most of my classmates and the membership of the church were German-American, and German was one of only two languages offered in high school (the other was Latin, both intended to prepare the boys for the ministry). The WELS is very far to the right on the sociopolitical spectrum, followed by the Missouri Synod; that’s the main distinction I knew between them and other Lutheran churches such as the ELCA and ALC…but then, I kind of stopped paying attention around age 12. “Junior league Catholics,” that’s interesting too. My education came with a hefty does of anti-Catholicism–the Pope is the Antichrist and so on– so I was astounded to discover that the Lutheran order of service is a moderately-adapted version of the Mass!

  116. First, I just want to post that I saw a bumper sticker on a car yesterday, “Witches against Fascism” I’m not kidding…

    @JMG or anyone else – Have you studied the Hindu Yugas? With all this talk of the cyclical nature of time, it made me wonder how the Hindu cycle of the Yugas fits in. Does it?

    @Shane W – It too hit me pretty hard for many of the same reasons. I am “poor white trash” who is now, and has been for many years, on the edges of the “intelligentsia”. I am a middle class tech worker at a prestigious university, over the years I’ve had many brushes with the rich and famous and the upper classes, yet never fit in and never wanted to (not that they will allow someone like me as a full member of their class, even if I had a billion dollars). I also spent many years living in ghettos and some time in a literal shack in a small town where the poor people that lived there made fun of me for being too poor. My father spent years in prison and died on skid row. I absolutely hate how much we seem to idolize both sides of the spectrum in different ways. I hate that we have such an extreme spectrum at all.

    @Jasper – Thank you for your wonderful summary on why we do not and should not have a 100% “Democracy” at the Federal level. I am a 4th generation Californian, living in the Bay Area for the last 22 years (and lived in CA 40+ of my 48 years). I love California, it is “home”, but I will be leaving soon. It is no longer recognizable to me. I am thankful for the EC more and more as time goes on, for with it I might have other states available to move to that are different, and better suit me. I shudder to think what would happen to this country if CA, IL and NYC ruled the whole place. Being here in the Bay Area listening to the non-stop shrieking about “Democracy” and evil Hitler Trump and how the Democrats will save us is getting so very tiring. All we have to do is change everything about our how our government and elections work and we’ll “win” and save the world. Perhaps we can talk about the thousands of people dying on our streets? I walked past one just a couple weeks ago on the sidewalk in Berkeley (surrounded by tape and cops).

    I am again blown away at the quality of the writing and commentary here. Every week I anxiously await the essay and comments and always learn so much. Thank you!

  117. JMG

    As with the others, I’m enjoying this convo immensely.

    One thing I’ve noted: my own informal, working definition of the intelligensia differs considerably from your more formal and specific one. As I was born the year the Berlin Wall went up, I was always fascinated by the USSR. As a kid, I’d never heard the term intelligensia applied to US citizens, only to Soviet Refusniks so I grokked it to mean the class of politically powerless ponderers here in the States. Thinkers, poets, artists, writers, musicians, OPPO journalists and the like. Throw in academics as they were in the ’70s and ’80s. Pretty much any wine-drinking NPR listener with over-crammed bookshelves, distaste for party politics and a valid passport. (Add foreign languages for extra points) With that in mind, I’d always placed myself, at least nominally in that group.

    As I’m now very middle-aged white guy with many generations in the USA in my family, I not so sure your definition applies to me. While I continue to look to Europe as the origin point of our music, art& lit, I’m quite enthused by a good deal of what we’ve produced domestically. (I look at pre 18th C stuff from Europe as “mine too” since my blood would still be there at that time.) Guess I’m looking for a new label.

  118. JMG,

    Would it be possible to have a class of lumpenintelligentsia or faux intelligentsia if you will. By this I mean a group of people who have achieved some of the material privilege and power in society or the work place but don’t have the educational cultural signifiers of the true intelligentsia. For instance local elected officials who might have community college educations, eschew the NYT for Fox News or MSNBC but actively fund raise and lobby for a new performing arts center where Shakespeare and Gilbert and Sullivan can be performed. In some instances they may be more sympathetic to the masses than true intelligentsia, but still desire the connections to the culture and symbols of Europe.

  119. Make America Weird Again -sweet! Someone already made the ball cap, and a rock band has that website, but still, I can roll with the flow. I’m no sure about putting the effort into a campaign myself, but I’ll continue to do my part!:)

    Working at the library -as part of the intelligentsia- I see some of the trends in publishing aimed at intelligentsia that relate to other countries. Last year it was a flurry of throw-away books on “hygge”,a Danish & Norwegian word for a mood of coziness and comfort with feelings of wellness and contentment and fires and pastries. And alcohol and coffee. And did I mention pastries? I’m all for pastries, but I prefer the working class donuts from the shop in my neighborhood that has been there since the ’70s. (Shout out to Bonomini Bakery in Northside, Cincinnati)

    Before that it was the bestseller, first in Japan, of the “The Japanese Art of Tidying Up”. My wife and I actually read that one and got some good “woo woo” (intelligentsiese for mystic magic) out of it. Actually, it would be a good book for anyone with a hoarding problem (aside from preppers). So that brief trend might have been a useful inject for folks to pare down there “stuff”.

    Anyway, I was obsessed with Iceland about ten years ago. I love the rock music they’ve been putting out, and it’s cool Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson and his folk have built an Asatru temple up there (even though I ain’t Asatru –love Hilmar’s music though).But in the past five years the Scandinavian thing has really blown up. All those Scandinavian thrillers. Yet there are great American mystery & detective & thriller writers. I’m reading one by Jim Harrison now. He is a fine writer and seemed to be really in touch with the land.

    Which is why I may have an interest in other cultures (not towards wanting to be Scandinavian or turn Japanese -I really don’t think so- ) but I love the land I grew up on so much, I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Except maybe Maine or Kentucky. I have family in either state and have visited them both on and off since I was a kid. It feels real different up there than Ohio & Kentucky. Kentucky is obviously real easy to visit for me. Anyway, that love of the land thing is part of why I feel its good to go back to some of the earlier distinctly American tradtions/folklore and also continue to grow some new ones on this land.

    Cheers to all.

  120. For anyone saying that among voters, the democrats won the house in a landslide, I direct you to the NYTimes website It’s one of the few places I can find the popular vote total, and the Republicans lost by 4 percent. This is not nothing, but it’s also not huge.

    Also, for anyone talking about the Senate, has anyone taken into account that in California both candidates were Democrats? That probably skews results…..

  121. I would be interested in someone actually defining the American intelligentsia inasmuch as that is possible.

    In Russia, the intelligentsia has always had very recognizable attributes and a quite specific and consistent role in society. And I would add that the Spengler/Toynbee analysis fits perfectly — it really should be the textbook case. Essentially since Peter the Great quite artificially imposed European culture on the “backwards” Russians, the country’s intelligentsia has carried the baton and looked primarily to Europe and European values and culture. But this overlay has always been a bit thin, a fact that is well documented and well understood by Russians. Marquis de Custine, a French nobleman who travelled extensively in Russia and later wrote fascinating memoirs, addressed this thin veneer of Europeanism at length. (To him is attributed the famous line “scratch a Russian and you’ll find a Tartar.”) Meanwhile, one particularly defining feature of the traditional Russian intelligentsia is an almost implacable opposition to whatever regime happens to be ruling the country (and that regime invariably tends toward the autocratic and anti-liberal). This, of course, has always elicited attempts by the regime to suppress or co-opt the intelligentsia, which is a key drama in Russian history. But that is a topic for another day. In any case, when we talk about the Russian intelligentsia, everyone in Russia has a clear picture of what that is. But what about America?

    America seems much less monolithic than Russia. It has many more divergent streams and tributaries and submits much more reluctantly to easy categorization. Sure, a hundred years ago or so, things were a bit more clear cut. It was the upper-class Anglo-Saxon protestant transplants from Europe who comprised the intellectual class and were most active in bringing European institutions of culture to the nascent country, albeit a bit more organically than Peter the Great.

    But this seems to have completely broken down as far as I can tell. Unlike in Russia, there seems to be almost no continuity with the past in this respect. The WASPs — the erstwhile intelligentsia — are no longer in the ascendency, are no longer the arbiters of culture and no longer confidently espouse everything European. Moreover, the tables have turned on them and they have become the targets of a lot of Marxist-tinged resentment. But who exactly has replaced them?

    The current political class in the US doesn’t strike me as fitting the bill. In fact, politicans often try to distance themselves from any elitist associations and downplay any patrician roots they may be saddled with. What about the academy? It perhaps once qualified, but what about these days when many universities are inhabited by conformists and opportunists who have little more to offer than being attuned to the political winds (and who disavow any and all semblance of traditional Western culture)? With the rise of Trump, the idea of a “coastal elite” has coalesced, but is this a clearly defined class? Or is it a politically expedient distinction that may help (roughly) explain voting patterns but doesn’t really penetrate the fabric of the nation? It strikes me as both fluid and vague in any case. Furthermore, since about the nineteen-sixties, the so-called “thinking classes” have largely shed what would be the normal trappings of the intelligentsia in most societies.

    So, sure, I understand the cliched and exaggerated juxtapositions of a Manhattan hipster with a plumber from Oklahoma that people throw around. But even indulging in the inevitable generalizations,
    from my perch far, far away from the United States, it’s very difficult for me to make sense of it all.

  122. I’m actually really disappointed. I thought it was obvious that the Democratic party is dead and needs to be destroyed because it is too corrupt to be reformed. I thought the walkaway movement would have a bigger impact.

    But what really impacts me is Debbie Wasserman Shultz won agents Tim Canova by nearly 60pnts. She’s like the epicenter of the corruption, she did some sort of cheating against Tim Canova, it all went public and the people voted her in anyway. It’s all the morally superior intelligentsia who don’t even care what their party does to its own members.

    I’m beginning to agree with you JMG, that people get the government they deserve.

  123. @isabelcooper: I used to be much the same as your dad. I would try to argue with whatever talking head came on the TV, and only slowly did I realize that this line of communication was one way. They would never hear my oh-so-clever rebuttals. More, I came to see the political slant of a given news channel as something akin to icing on a cake full of used heroin needles.
    The point of 24 hour news isn’t to inform, educate, or entertain, the point is to make the watcher forget the important parts of their life, because that’s the way to make them good consumers.

    @JMG: I was thinking about your reply. Yes, I’m an angsty Coloradan and you’re a Faustian intellectual, and my neighbor down the road is a member of the sullen laborer caste, but (if I subscribe to certain strains of religious thought, and I do) that’s not all we are. These descriptions are more just the roles we’re playing during this turn of the wheel.

    Maybe that’s a way for me to describe what I see missing in the SJW worldview: Yes, a person might be a genderqueer Latinx anarchist, or what have you, but they’re more than that, too. So what is temporary and what remains when the façade sloughs away?

  124. My daughter lives in Sweden. I’ve been there twice now. I don’t know if she’s naive but she trusts the government pretty much and thinks they do a pretty good job. They don’t have the grinding poverty and homelessness that we have here, but of course it is easier in a small and homogenous society than a sprawling monster like the US. She complains a lot that Swedes are not open and friendly and most of their friends are other expats. But they do have Swedish friends. I find them, as I seem to find all people everywhere, perfectly acceptable. It feels nice and safe and the people are very law abiding.

    The Moslems seem nice too, families, not just single males.

  125. Mark L: “It seems to me that we are approaching a time when the future cannot be known with any certainty, and in which small events and individual human beings stand a greater chance of changing the course of history. ”

    Thats what I have thought also. During darker ages, single invidual could have so much power on how events go, better or worse. Legendary times?

  126. Just thinking more on our identity, especially after reading Justin Patrick Moore’s excellent poem (you did a great job capturing some hidden gems of culture, especially with the hex signs, something I’m sure many people have either forgotten or are not even aware of) and many of Shane’s comments.

    I get the sense many of us feel as if we don’t belong. Trying to say what we belong to probably makes it even worse. Being born and raised all over Texas with family all from Western Pennsylvania, who later moved to Northeastern Minnesota, then to China and marrying a Russian .. it’s definitely hard to feel as if I belong to anything specific. Any sort of identity is simply a label, one which cannot apply to any and all human experience.

    The one thing in my life which has always made me felt I belonged was the land, no matter where I was. The plants, animals, weather, and history associated with all places called to me. In all of those things we find change being the only constant. Over the years, decades, centuries, millennia the plants, animals, weather, and people become different. We are, in effect, a catalyst for change.

    As an American with tamanous, the land certainly encourages us to embrace who we are. So we should embrace it. As someone who has experienced many different places, it makes for an excellent conduit of ideas. Those ideas may or may not be useful where you are. Accept that and don’t force anyone else to change.

  127. Your last paragraph reminded me of a famous quote. “The old is dead and the new cannot yet be born. In this interregnum, a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” It was written in about 1930 by Antonio Gramsci, an Italian Communist who’d been imprisoned by Mussolini.

    The funny thing is that the new – fascism and communism – had already been born, but that their direct conflict was still ten year away. I’ve found that what a visionary seeks is often already in their grasp, if they could see it correctly. That applies to your vision too.

    In this campaign Trump said he wanted to end birthright citizenship. He was foiled by one of the Civil War amendments, the 14th. It embodies the American idea, about how it will be different from Europe, which defines itself ethnically based on the language you speak and the God you worship. Anyone who is born in the US is a citizen, and they can’t be turned away from their home. The amendment defines the US as a polyglot, multicultural society. It’s what we were before the Civil War, and it’s what the Constitution commits us to being.

    That’s the reason I hate Trump’s hateful talk. It’s unAmerican. Our political-spiritual task is to create a society that values everyone’s contributions.

  128. “there, I’ve gone and offended both parties again” “Myself, I consider “getting in the way of zealots” to be a feature, not a bug!” ” Maybe we need a campaign to Make America Weird Again…” Not here to comfort the comfortable, eh? JMG, you sly disrupter you! When will you be making MAWA hats available? Isn’t the original meaning of weird ‘of the spirit’? Hmmm…thanks for a great essay today.

  129. JMG,

    Thanks for the long response. Your vision seems plausible and not too bad in the near term. Can’t say I’m looking forward to a coastal downturn as an Oregonian though; I wonder how the troubles will affect the rural parts of the state vs. the cities.

    I question your assertion that Trump will win handily though. If the 2020 election were held today, I’d give him a 50% chance, and any victory would be very narrow. I do think that he could improve his chances by moving to the left on a few issues like marijuana, abortion, and LGBT rights, and by choosing more moderate judicial appointments in the next two years. His is base is so loyal they won’t abandon him even if they don’t approve, and he will pick up support from the center and left. If he stays exactly as he is I think his approval will be stuck in the 40-50% range regardless of the economy.

  130. Mark L

    I think the problem of soaring medical costs is not a matter of capitalism but rather the lack of a free market. I think the prices are rigged and the insurance industry drives up prices.

    Here’s a nice little video which explains a lot:

    As to Trump not reaching out to the majority, I’m surprised you say that. He has said so many reasonable things. Perhaps people are unable to hear.

  131. As someone who’s been lurking here for a while, I want to come out and say that your site has really broadened my worldview. Even if I disagree with a lot of things you’ve said. It’s more the long term stuff than the short term, due to camp I rest in. Still, I hope you keep the good work for as long as you are able.

  132. JMG and Booklover,

    Regarding our Confederate President – Oh Lords, how far what was once called The Energy Bulletin has fallen. Sigh.

  133. “In America, it’s essential to the self-concept of the intelligentsia to pretend not to be American, and to make a studied show of contempt for their own cultural and ethnic background.”

    This strikes as a rather drastic simplification. First with regard to Europe, if you look at the intelligentsia in it’s different fields and genres: political, music, literature, movies, architecture, you can find a segment that looks to almost every culture around the world, including Russian, Latin American, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, and plenty of cultures from non-technological (“indigenous”) societies.

    And yes, there are plenty of segments that celebrate their own unique American creation. Jazz is the most obvious to me, but that is probably because music has been a focus of my life, but Rock and Roll too, and movies.

    It’s only natural for some American intelligentsia to focus on other cultures since most of them are older than ours and have had more time to create and diversify. As with the Nordic thing, I think that folks are simply recognizing that there is lots of creativity out there everywhere and that US is not the center of the world. There might be a bias towards Europe since information about what Europe has done is easily accessible to us. So maybe we need more multicultural studies in our intelligentsia-targeted schools of higher learning and not be so Eurocentric? (stated only partly in jest)

  134. ShaneW – If JMG thinks I am “grinding [an] axe” he is free to delete my comments. You, on the other hand, have no special right to dish out aggressive personal insults then repeatedly demand that I “disclose my class.” You would have to be crazy to think I would provide personal data to someone with that attitude. My main point was that American culture is derived primarily from European culture, which white nationalists usually claim to be true, though I am willing to consider JMG’s return argument that the land itself is such a contributor as to make the descendant more like an F1 hybrid. I can only assume that your ranting derives from my comments on the relevant side point that American culture was organized around color prejudice to a degree quite unusual among past civilizations. If admitting that truth keeps me out of Prole Heaven, I probably wouldn’t be happy there anyway.

  135. Dear strda221, Yes the Democrats, which party I usually refer to in terms our host won’t allow, did face heavy institutional obstacles. They also had two years to prepare for those obstacles and decades experience dealing with the same kinds of obstacles. To cite just one example, one reads woeful accounts of the difficulty impoverished folks have in obtaining ID. So how much would it cost to simply escort a caravan, to coin a phrase, of would be voters to the relevant offices, pay the fees, and then escort the group to the voter registration office, where they would be met by attorneys, who would previously have been put on retainer, to be duly registered? A large enough group might even get enough publicity to shame the obstructionists. I venture such a project could be accomplished for about the cost of one of those fancy pants “events” which Dems. love to attend. I would think that a competent Democratic party, if that is not an oxymoron, would have an attorney and a team of law student (paid) interns whose job would be to monitor any and all tampering with voting rights. If the voter registration office closes a half an hour early, the attorney should be in court that afternoon filing for an injunction.

    Dear jmichaelsullivan, there has been in the USA rather a vogue for Swedish cultural exports, the films of Bergman, novels such as those by Sjowall and Wahloo, and of course Liz Salander is THE female cultural icon for the 21thC. We know quite a bit less about Denmark.

  136. JMG,

    You said:
    ” My analysis is about working class vs. middle class in a narrow sense, and in the broader sense — which I’ve discussed quite often, you know — the complex set of intertwined class struggles that pit the middle class and the politically active end of the poverty class against the investor class and the politically active end of the working class.”

    I’m trying to understand this. Did I miss something? You are saying that the investor class and some of the working class are together, and that the middle class and some of the poverty class are together? How so?

    Also, you say the democrats will embrace democratic socialism due to voter demand. I find that hard to envision since in my opinion the reason that our democracy and the democratic party has failed is due to manipulation of the electoral process so that it depends upon massive funding only by hugely wealthy elites or corporates, thus binding the politicians to serve them.

  137. @Phitio and @JMG

    Well, November 11, 2018, will be the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Armistice that ended the First World War, which went into effect at exactly 11:11A.M. So, in terms of something big happening, I would say that it would be a major memorial service.

  138. @Robert Mathiesen, JMG
    Interesting mention of the Piscataqua gundalow, also called “gondolas” or “gundaloos”, depending upon when accounts were written and by whom. Originally, gondolas were boxy, flat bottomed open boats used as river ferries, and the like. The gundalow is one of only a handful of vessels built in North America to adopt a lateen rig. That is, a long spar with a large triangular sail on a relatively short mast arranged fore and aft and developed in the Levant, or “latin” countries clustered around the Mediterranean, Red Sea and Indian Ocean. The gundalows were basically sailing barges (boxy, flat bottomed) that worked the rivers draining into the Piscataqua River between Maine and New Hampshire. They moved bricks, cordwood, farm animals, hay, farm produce all on deck. The lateen rig they adopted had a very short mast and a yard that could be lowered rapidly so as to “shoot” under bridges and then be raised up again quickly. They probably got as much, if not more, speed from going with currents rather than pure sailing. Their virtues lay in ease of construction, small crews (2-3 people on a vessel 50-80 feet long), ability to move large cargoes cheaply and the ability to take the ground at low tide. Check out the sailing replica at Strawbery Banke Museum in Portsmouth at That said, every region of the world bordering on water have craft that are uniquely adapted to that locale.

  139. This post is in response to all four parts of your current series.

    When I was in my mid-twenties I read Spengler. Now that I’ve spent years doing outdoor photography one of the major points he made is how the landscape in which one lives affects how the mind thinks, which in turn determines the kind of art a culture will produce. For example: the pyramids of ancient Egypt and the Mayans were both graves and monuments to their rulers but the Egyptian’s were meant to be seen from a distance and there was a purposeful spacial relationship between them while the Mayan’s were meant to be viewed up close and built overtop that of the previous ruler. This is easily exampled by the difference between a desert, in which distant objects are enduring, and a rainforest, where the view is near sighted and the vegetation rapidly decays.

    I remember that Spengler details how the coastline/island habitat of the Classical cultures along the Mediterranean naturally lead to the development of geometry, sculpture, and temples (little islands) while the Western cultures developing in the Medieval woodlands of western Europe lead to calculus, chamber music, and cathedrals (an old growth forest.)

    So my question would be, if a connection between the culture and the landscape it is derives from exist, how would it explain Tamanous and Sobornost. I’m not knowledgable about Russian geography, but I’ve always been under the impression that it’s generally cold and flat. As far as Tamanous in America: to me that sounds like the kind of vision that would develop out of the arid western half of the country, where the landscape is highly fragmented and heterogeneous. But could the land out there support a population density adequate for a civilization? The Mississippi Valley and Great Lakes Basin could surely support more people but what kind of thinking might the land there lead to?

  140. To my mind, the election of Ocasia-Cortez was one of the more hopeful aspects of the election. While I share your distrust of socialism as an actual form of government, it’d be nice if the Democratic Party stood for something, and a return to talking about class would be a very welcome relief. Both would lessen the need for the Left to keep putting on dog and pony shows to cover over the fact that the medicine they’re selling is just moonshine and opium—with a little floor polish mixed in for flavor.

    Also, following up on some comments I made a bit ago, I was just discussing with my mother the connection between Faustian culture and Mormonism when it hit me that the goal of Mormonism is almost literally to conquer the Universe: the goal is to reach godhood so that you can have your own spirit children and create and rule your own planets.

  141. Shane, well, I don’t have that much influence over what spin you put on my words, so I’ll let it go at that.

    Quos Ego, I’m far less convinced than you seem to be that gerrymandering is only done by, and only benefits, one side. Still, we’ll see how things play out in the next election.

    Isabel, my distrust of socialism is founded on its history, which ranges far too often into buckets-of-blood territory for my taste. That said, unfettered kleptocratic capitalism is no better.

    Kwo, I wish I had any particular advice to offer. Aspergers syndrome and a strong introvert streak generally mean that I’m pretty comfortable being an outsider, and an inconvenient tendency to make the road less traveled my route of choice pretty much guarantees me that status anyway; for those who don’t have those decidedly mixed advantages, I’m not at all sure what to say.

    Kay, I get that, from the other side. The coastal northwest will always be home to me, though I don’t expect ever to live there again. I find open plains without trees disorienting and barren; dense conifer forest and high mountains within sight make me feel the same kind of comfort that I get from flannel sheets and heavy blankets!

    Matthias, I’d meant to delete it on sight as trollery and apparently hit the wrong button the first time through. Maybe it’s my limited sense of humor, but I didn’t find it tongue in cheek at all. It came across to me as “Hey, let me rephrase everything you’ve said in the most hateful way I can think of. Hilarious, isn’t it?” So it got fed to my pet black hole, Fido, who gobbled it up and belched.

    Will, you’re right, of course. My head hurts.

    David, if they can’t stand any opposition to majority rule, why are they standing up for the rights of minorities?

    Millicently, you’re most welcome and thank you.

    NomadicBeer, Julius Caesar was able to seize power in Rome because he had the support of the Roman masses; Brutus and the other conspirators who killed him were squarely on the side of the Senatorial elite. That’s why Spengler referred to the rise of autocrats backed by the masses as Caesarism; when the masses can’t get their needs met by the ordinary mechanisms of government, they’ll back those who promise to overturn the ordinary mechanisms of government — and if Caesar knows how to play to his base, they’ll get at least some of what they want.

    David, yeah. Let’s see this person produce as much as ten per cent of his or her own food needs…

    Patricia, hah! I like it. The thing is, the hippies I’ve always respected are the ones who weren’t afraid of being poor and eating rice and beans from time to time.

    Rita, bingo — and you can bet that Trump is going to try to goad them into spending all their time obsessing about another round of investigations that won’t get anywhere, so they don’t realize that they have to present some kind of positive plan for the future in order to win at the national level. As for the Native American presence in American culture, Carl Jung certainly agreed with you.

    Mark, fascinating. I know a lot of people are going through experiences like that, watching the old familiar patterns dissolve with no clear sense yet of what will replace them. It’s a common experience at this stage of the historical process…

    Tude, I haven’t studied them in any detail, though I’m familiar with the basic concept.

    KevPilot, fair enough. I suspect Toynbee would point out that an enormous amount of what appears to be “American culture” is inspired by, when it’s not simply imitation of, forms that originate in Europe. Consider the novel — it’s one of the great American literary forms, to be sure, but the fact is it was invented in England and still shows the marks of its origin in its traditional structure and habitual themes.

    Clay, “lumpenintelligentsia” — I like it. That might well be worth adding to the analysls.

    Justin, that two-way pull — toward the products of cosmopolitan culture and toward the resonance of the land where you live — is a very common experience among the intelligentsia, and among other things tends to produce first-rate literature and art.

    Will, thanks for this.

    Cloven, good. One of the complexities of the American intelligentsia right now is that it’s in flux; the metastatic expansion of the university system here has allowed for the emergence of an intelligentsia that lacks any other common factor other than a shared ideology, and that’s cracking at the seams as we speak. I suspect this may be one of the results of the collapse of European global prestige.

    Onething, why, yes, I’d tend to agree. 😉

    Cliff, good. If the Druid tradition is to be taken seriously, we all get to pass through a very wide range of roles on our tour through being human, and the identity you or I have in this life need have nothing in common with the one we get next time around.

    Prizm, I ain’t arguing.

    Terry, okay, that’s your vision of what America ought to be. Many other people don’t share it, and don’t share your conviction that it’s the morally right way to go. What would you say to them to encourage them to change their minds?

    Jim, heh heh heh…

    Mark, I expect him to win because the Democrats still haven’t shown any sign of learning from their 2016 defeat. Unless they come up with a positive program for change that speaks to the demographics that abandoned them in 2016, the modest preponderance of electoral votes in rural and flyover states gives him a major advantage — and bills to legalize marijuana are working their way through House and Senate both, backed by Trump’s promise to sign them when they’re passed. If he follows that up by issuing presidential pardons to everybody in the federal prison system who’s there purely for possession of weed, which he can do, he’ll win at a walk.

    FDW, thank you!

    Dean, all I can say is that I’ve watched that exact dynamic play out over and over again in many different intellectual and cultural fields: they may study other cultures, including now and again their own, but the intellectual framework and the values are resolutely European, even in those fields of study that think they’re rebelling against a Eurocentric attitude. I’ll see about discussing this in more detail, with examples, in a future post.

    Onething, yes, that’s what I’m saying. Who backs the Democratic party? The middle class and politically active, mostly nonwhite sectors of the poverty class. Who backs the GOP? The investor class and politically active, mostly white sectors of the working class. In each case, they have interests in common despite the class disparities.

    Nathan, I don’t know. I simply note that something that can be described as sobornost seems to be deeply rooted in Russian culture, and the pursuit of the individual vision I’ve labeled with the Chinook Jargon word tamanous seems to be just as deeply rooted in American culture. What aspects of the land make that happen is an interesting question; the point I’m suggesting is simply that these two things exist.

    James, if the Democrats start talking about class they’re going to have to deal with their own pervasive class snobbery. That’s going to be harder than pulling a tyrannosaur’s teeth. As for the Mormon vision, true enough. Oog.

  142. @JMG:
    I would direct you again to the 2012 elections: the Republicans then lost the popular vote by 1.5 million votes but won 30 seats more than the Democrats.

  143. There is a new book out, “The Miracle Club: How Thoughts Become Reality” by Mitch Horowitz, which portrays positive thinking, or New Thought, as a sort of American magic, or a type of magic that works particularly well in America. It is a good thesis to consider in the age of Trump. I wonder, though, if he sees the opportunity costs involved in American individualism.

  144. John B, the fall of the former Energy Bulletin is something which I have registered, too. Their articles are becoming more and more bland by the day. The bigger issue here is, of course, the decline and fall of the Peak Oil Community.

    About Sweden, I don’t know much more than others, except that Sweden has similar problems as other western countries. That said, Sweden and Denmark have beautiful nature, and, especially in the north, Sweden is thinly settled.

    The feeling of not knowing where one belongs I know too well. On the one hand, I was and still am surrounded in my life by people who more or less share the worldview of the European intelligentsia, on the other hand, most people which I know, myself included, have modest incomes and their life situation isn’t typically middle class. Culturally, that expresses itself in a mix of highbrow ideals and other cultural and personal preferences which are neither typical for an elite nor an underclass.

    In middle and northern Europe, the intelligentsia tend to mimic Americal ideas like neoliberalism, but, on the other hand, they, especially on the left, tend to view America as barbarian and distasteful.

  145. Tanada – you said “…who was promising mostly free stuff like health care, as if getting taxpayers to fund something makes it free!”

    Of course, this seeming contradiction immediately resolves itself if you first set aside what has always been a conservative talking point against public provision [to people of lower means] – calling it “free stuff”. I would submit that public subventions made to banks and corporations somehow never attract this derisory “free stuff” term.

    If you remove that term, what you are left with are disagreements about “how” to fund and provide different goods and services that people need. Some people think EVERYTHING should be “market-provided” – that is to say left entirely in the gift of people, organised on a small or large scale, that are motivated by the opportunity to make a profit from providing same, by making it available to all who can afford to personally pay for it. Other people think EVERYTHING should be “publicly-provided” – that is to say left entirely in the gift of people, organised on a small or large scale, that are motivated by their interest in ensuring the good or service is continuously available to all who need it, when they need it, to the extent that the public organisation can afford to communally pay for it. (I find these two extreme groups to be mostly amenable only to ideological reasoning, and beyond the reach of rational, interest-based negotiations.)

    Most of the rest of us divide the various goods and services that people need in such a way as some seem to us to be a better “fit” for the market model, and some are a better “fit” for the public model. We may still have many differences in what way we divide these things, of course. And, as one of those people, I seek rational, interest based negotiations as the way to agree which might be which, and how best to organise and fund them.

    For example, most people prefer that emergency response provision be a publicly funded matter, in order to make sure that it is capable and available at the drop of a hat to respond to the kind of emergency that can happen to anyone – fire, accident, health emergency, sinking boat, that kind of thing. I myself am absolutely delighted that on an occasion last year when I fell off my bicycle on a public road, and lay there unconscious, others were able to immediately locate and arrange the exact kind of emergency response that I needed. That my taxes, and everyone else’s taxes, had already paid for it, meant that when I lay unconscious no one needed to investigate my ability to pay, or my preference for the most “competitive” ambulance service, etc. The public emergency response units existed, I needed them at that moment, and therefore I received the service without (at that moment) putting my (unconscious) hand into my pocket. Had I NEVER personally needed this kind of emergency response for myself, I would still feel that it is in my interest to pay, through my taxes, for it to exist in permanent “ready” mode.

    Anyway, I would suggest to you that “free stuff” is a word that is ideologically weighted, and not very helpful in discussions aimed at deciding whether a given good or service is a better “fit” for market provision or public provision. And these are matters in which we all have a stake, and need to be able to speak freely to one another about without censure.

  146. I live in Denmark and have significant ties to Sweden. The contemporary understanding of these places and their social democracies obscures their older reality as Europe’s fringe, but this forms a great part of their identity.

    Scandinavia is a place where Christianity never really ‘took’. Swedish Midsommer is a nakedly (often literally, particularly when one adjourns to the sauna) pagan fertility rite and everyone participates. On the same day, Denmark celebrates Sankt Hans by placing witch-effigies in bonfires, a rite that is more Christian on its surface but which evokes the primordial night-horrors of the Brocken and the spirits of the Wild Hunt more than it does its medieval overlay.

    Danes and Swedes consider themselves small but successful peoples. The emphasis remains on ‘small’. Denmark is haunted by memories of its overreach, in a moment of ill-advised confidence, into Schleswig-Holstein (the television series ‘1864’ dramatises this event wonderfully), while Stockholm’s imperial desires, communicated by the dramatic architecture of its center, have retreated into corporate advocacy.

    Neither Swedes nor Danes see their methods as particularly applicable to giant New World societies, particularly the US. The grandparents of young Swedes spent their lives as the children of farmers and their stories are stories of scarcity. Among my in-laws, any outlay of sweets or cakes is accompanied by the story of how all that was once available was a sticky, sugary film applied to paper and licked greedily by children. Knut Hamsun’s ‘Hunger’ illustrates this Scandinavia; it’s a part of everyone’s folk-memory.

    Danes and Swedes are people who see themselves as having established certain cooperation-methods needed by small societies in cold, fringe regions. They do not expect New York, Toronto, or Sydney to show signs of such methods; why would they ever have been needed?

    (In Sweden, as a contemporary aside, the country’s handling of the migrant crisis is starting to be seen as a moment of terrible overreach in the same sense that Denmark’s Schleswig wars were. This is true even among people who cannot abide by right-wing political parties, and who consider themselves personally cosmopolitan.)

  147. JMG,
    This series has me reading not just the article but all the comments on it as I try to figure out where I stand as a ethnic/religious group in Malaysia. Just the other day, I was telling my nephew that once I get settled in the farm I recently rented, I might have to find out the beliefs of the indigenous tribes who live in the mountains nearby.

    Elections in the U.S are quite weird. Not talking about the different rules, since I am familiar with both Indian and Malaysian elections. Example is the losers whining about popular vote not realising/admitting the historical aspect of the electoral process.

    Anyway, I see the desperation in the daily-stormer even as they console themselves with the Senate win and judicial appointment potentials. The Florida voter expansion by 1.4mn is probably the last straw which breaks the white supremist camel’s back.

    But having been used to reading between the lines, I always thought Trump was from the beginning trying to set up a Black & White nationalist party. Lately I sense the daily stormer slowly thinking to such a possible alliance and this elections result might accelerate the process.

    Both class struggles and ‘jati’ struggles are inevitable in elections, in my opinion. Just that the mainstream politicians prefer ‘jati’ politics over class politics.

    *In India, jati means a group of people who mostly intermarry among themselves. I have not come across a similar word in English.

  148. > mostly nonwhite sectors of the poverty class.

    The majority of African Americans are actually middle class: It’s just that the media tends to over-expose black poverty because it suits everyone’s bias, the rich can exploit racial animus, and liberals can turn a class issue into a race issue.

    That is actually the reason why Bernie lost the primaries against Clinton and what is causing the current uproar in Florida. unrelatedy, progressives have mounted a challenge to Pelosi in the house after every Blue Dog was wiped out

  149. @Tude :
    The fact that you don’t like your neighbors shouldn’t mean their vote should matter less than yours. That’s conceit.

  150. Dear JMG a Data point for you.

    BBC Today programme 6.10 am Friday 9th November, reported a study by the University of Washington published in the Lancet, that nearly half the countries in the world have a fertility rate below replacement, and that the world average birth rate has fallen to 2.4 children per woman.

    Looks like the demographic contraction is right on schedule.

    Regards Philip Hardy

  151. Shane,
    Funny. Stacey Abrams has a traditional Southern good ol’ boy speak FOR her in her radio spots. That alone makes me gun-shy…if you can’t appeal to the voters with your own voice…

    In regards to your assumptions about my rose-colored glasses, perhaps. But if so it’s a brand new thing. I hated the working classes as much as any other university-educated politico when I arrived in Ellijay 7 years ago. And we were all but out of here just last summer (’17) when we turned down a full-price offer on our little cabin at the last minute and decided to stay put. My mother happened to be here when the offer came in – 100k for a 660 s.f. house on 2.3 acres with no indoor plumbing and 400W of solar power – and I believe she thought we were nuts to turn it down! But over the 5 months we had our house on the market a lot of folks – some we barely knew – came forth and expressed their disapproval of the idea, and suddenly we realized we were already home. Even our listing agent was happy when we decided not to sell?!?

    Another point: I’ve had a lot of jobs in my day but my least favorite one of all was my “white collar” job as an environmental scientist. I hated sloshing through the muck and mosquitos (gators and cottonmouths too), the endless Florida heat and humidity, just so we could punish a landowner for dumping some dirt in a swamp. I never felt like it was my place to do so. And those people hated us. I didn’t like that either. And I never enjoyed the striving, or the meetings, or the ties….it’s no wonder I didn’t last.

    To be fair though you’re right, I don’t spend all my time out there busting my hump on a shovel or hammer to make ends meet, but that’s only because I’ve chosen to not require a lot of ends to make meet in the first place! My plumber friend makes tons of money (he lost 4 million in the last real estate bust), but he spends it like crazy too. It baffles him that I pass on the ski boat to putter around the garden.

    So would I have the same view of the masses if I had to mix it up with them every day? My experience here suggests that in fact I would. Tweekers aside. But only just in the last year or so. And yes they would probably laugh at me for being the barin pretending to be a peasant!

    But basically I just do whatever I have to do to pay the few bills I have while our herbal products business grows to the point that it can carry us. Which thankfully doesn’t seem that far off these days! (Thanks again to the 2nd wave of folks who shipped some business my way this week! Much appreciated!)

    Whether I fit in or not though I genuinely like most of the working class folks I know. I obviously don’t feel the pervasive dysfunction among them that you seem to feel. Though maybe it’s there and I’m just naive…

  152. @JMG: Very true on both counts–and true of pretty much any human system I know of, really. When I’m in a cynical mood, which is often, I think that, to paraphrase a Stephen King character, the saying should’ve gone “‘Yea, verily, whenever two or three of you are gathered together, some other guy is going to get the living [shale] knocked out of him.’” It’s gotten less physical over the centuries, usually and on average, and I think the numbers are somewhat larger, but as a CS friend of mine says, people don’t scale very well.

    Less cynically, I tend to believe another point that the same friend made: that any system/ideology/etc will end destructively when people try to apply it to every situation, without taking nuance and consideration and so forth into account. Collective control/regulation/etc is good for some things, but bad for others; personal liberty gets into the fist-to-face barrier, and where exactly that is in the case of, say, public smoking bans or gun control; etc; and the temptation (IMO) of belief that One Way Always Works and it’s the people’s fault when it doesn’t leads to, say, Communism under Stalin, or capitalism now, or feudalism under a vast number of people, though Prince John seems to have gotten an undeserved reputation there. Or, on a lesser scale, to the notion that anyone at a given workplace who isn’t a “team player” and into trust falls/Company Fun Days/etc isn’t good at their job.

    Need for tamanous on a larger scale, perhaps?

    On the subject of land as influence: I usually don’t, as I mentioned before, feel very attached to or identified with a particular place, maybe because we traveled around so much when I was young. (And, to be fair, one of my patrons is Hermes–I think there is a place for most wanderers in any society, and I think “the road” is its own sort of place, especially in America, and there’s a whole paper/story/thing here, maybe, unless I’m just procrastinating.) But perhaps appropriately, I’ve been meditating on the Sphere of the Elements aspect of Malkuth, and last night I thought of myself and my sister.

    We moved from PA to CA when I was almost eight and she was six-ish. A couple decades later, I’m an editor in Boston, single, introverted and not very emotionally expressive; she teaches pilates in Venice Beach, has a husband, a young son, and a dog, and is very outgoing. There are a lot of other contributing factors–at least growing up, Emi was by far the better-looking and more athletic of the two of us, a car accident when we were young left her with a cracked vertebra and the process of healing that took her into yoga/pilates, she was never as much of a bookworm as me or my parents, etc–but now I’m wondering how much difference it made that I had a year and a half longer on the East Coast than she did….

  153. @Rita: God, seriously. We don’t have the Senate. We won’t *get* the Senate unless we get some kind of plan that’s not just “we’re not that guy.” And frankly, except in cases of murder/rape/etc, I don’t really care that much what any elected official has or has not done in his past, at least not compared to what we need to start doing in the future, with all the issues you name and more. He may or may not be a crook, but we’ve been led by crooks before and we will be again, and if those crooks keep people from starving on the streets or getting shot in bars, good on them.

    (I also wish “my side” would stop freaking out over putative affairs. Powerful people have always gotten a little strange now and again–so have most people not in power, when they can manage it–and for all Trump’s flaws, he’s never preached the sanctity-of-marriage treacle. If *Pence* sticks it somewhere he isn’t “supposed to,” I’ll take an interest.)

    For similar reasons, I tend to stay out of arguments over either the popular vote or the 2016 election. In the case of the latter, things happened, there are certain definite lessons we can learn from them, and otherwise it’s just so much speculation. In the case of the former…well, there are arguments to be made either way, but the situation is what it is, and unless we have control of both chambers, it’s not changing, so I may as well forget the whole thing and make myself some tea.

    @Cliff: That’s certainly my impression, yeah. Dad doesn’t seem to have gone full-consumer or anything, but it baffles me that he can’t apply the “don’t spend time with people who make you angry” principle to the talking heads that he so readily applies to, say, my Aunt Jane. 😛 Then again, Dad generally enjoys a debate, and I think he and Mom have exhausted their supply of topics over forty-some years.

    Maybe I need to subtly introduce more hostile wildlife to the area next time I go down. It might get his mind off of things…

  154. @ isabelcooper

    Re Kim Davis and rights

    Overall, I don’t disagree. It is “rights all the way down.” One is certainly free to have one’s opinion and even to express that opinion in words and deeds to a great extent. There is speech that is useful, however, and speech that is not, regardless of the rights involved. To my mind, acknowledging that we are a union of a multitude of cultures, with varying values and worldviews, and coming to a compromise of reasoned tolerance for one another is needed to hold our society together.

    There are those, for example, who would condemn my co-worker for the inclusion of that passage from Ephesians, or at least pity her as a deluded, self-loathing, oppressed thing. As I mentioned myself, it wasn’t exactly my cup of tea. On the flip-side, her own church refused to allow them to get married there because she and her now-husband had been living together for several years previously. So she got married in a different church.

    With respect to Kim Davis, I’d agree that the outcome of the election was a good one. If she is unable to fulfill her legal duties as a government official without involving her personal religious beliefs — something she amply demonstrated — then she has no business being in office. I rather like JMG’s touch in Retrotopia with the oath taken by candidates for office.

    People have the right to express their opinions. The artist in New York who designed the “Keep New York Trash Free” posters depicting caricatures of Trump supporters — including one with a white woman in a MAGA hat holding a Bible — has the right to do what he did. Such speech, while valid, is unhelpful in the broader sense of making our society more stable.

    If we are going to hold this nation together in a peaceable fashion, we need to learn how to disagree respectfully. I am a firm believer that a traditional Christian couple and a radical lesbian couple, for example, could live next door to one another, even be on reasonably friendly terms, while disagreeing with one another’s particular lifestyle choices and beliefs. In essence, each saying: “Well, I wouldn’t live that way and I believe that to be wrong, but it’s their life, so more power to ’em.” I can believe what I believe, hold my values as my own and have those values be valid for my life, without having to impose those beliefs and those values on others around me. This is something that “both sides” very much need to learn!

  155. @Millicently Lurking: Thanks for the kind words. I know Harry Smith through his work on such things as the Smith(sonian) Anthology of American Folk Music, his alchemical films and his friendships with the beats, namely, Allen Ginsberg and Ed Sanders. Smith was involved with The Fugs records from what I remember. Harry Smith also apparently commented that slam dancing was a type of American folk dance. Yes, he was on my mind when the poem came to me.

    @Prizm. Thank you. It’s interesting you’ve gotten to experience the effects of the land in so many different places. It must be part of your fate path. I think some people have a fate that includes more travel/living in different locations. If you are interested, one thing you can do when you go to new places, is pay your respects to the dead there by visiting old graveyards & burial grounds. I’ve found that to be a good practice for me, even when just visiting a place. But then I never met a cemetery I didn’t like. Not because I’m goth or anything, I just like history and old places.

    @JMG: your comments about the two-way pull are noted. Thank you! It does provide a certain friction. I’ll see if I can better put it to use. And since you mentioned it, I think I can spot that dynamic at work in various artists.

  156. @ Dean

    Re the EC

    Again, I have to disagree with the characterization of the EC as “useless.” It functions exactly as designed: the Constitutional mechanism by which the chief executive is elected, filtering the choices of the voters through the structure of the states which form this federal republic of ours. The fact that the EC vote highly correlates to the popular vote is interesting, but irrelevant. Once more, I point to the World Series: total runs versus games won. Deriding the current methodology, which has been used since the founding of the nation as “an appendix no one knew we had” is a mischaracterization of the situation at the very least, since every four years the electoral vote tally is on full display.

    Now, it is feasible to alter that mechanism, and there are underway efforts to do so. Personally, I’d modify it, but keep the basic structure, as I see the idea of a federal republic of states as something we need to reinforce rather than erode, and so I would oppose those efforts to go to a popular vote election.

  157. John, et alia–

    I don’t know if this has anything to do with the twilight of the intelligentsia, but I ran across something that I, at least, hadn’t seen before. Maybe it is one of those “dying gasp” things?

    Mixed in with the current wave of lamenting over the improper and anti-democratic nature of the Senate, I have seen comments arguing how wrong it is that House districts are constrained by state boundaries and don’t properly represent urban areas which can and do cross over state lines. And, furthermore, how cities are shackled by their rural counterparts in less-urban states. The sense that I got was that the whole notion of states as semi-sovereign entities which form the basis of our republic is being increasingly seen as an impediment — a desire for further centralization, in other words, and a continued reduction in the power of more regional governance in favor of federal (which should, of course, favor the interests of urbanites, while rural dwellers should do what they’re told).

    Now these are comments, not new-stories, but they are reflective of at least a subset of people out there. Perhaps this notion has been circulating for a while now and I just hadn’t seen it. But it admittedly makes me wonder about the state of reality when something so fundamental to our federal charter is being dismissed so offhandedly.

    Does anyone else have a sense of whether this is something new and/or growing in regions of the political spectrum?

  158. I think many people allow their idealism to make them arrogant about culture. Everybody thinks if society and culture could just scootch over 6 inches (or a foot, or a yard) it would be just about what it needs to be. But society and culture is not the play-doh we imagine it to be; instead, it seems WE are the play-doh, WE are the ones constantly being scootched several inches this way and that as the ship of society rocks back and forth on the waves of place and time.
    I say this point out a fact that should be obvious: if we the world matched our ideals, we would likely find ourselves strangers, or at least uncomfortable, in it. This is very similar to a movie I watched on Netflix last night where a rich CEO, in creating a robot police force capable of predicting crime, proceeded to eliminate the CEO himself.
    Our blind spots are most often intentional, and our “confusion” is many times the result of a refusal to accept facts.
    To what then do we attribute this “delta” between our ideals and our actual being? Is it, as JMG posits, the call of the land? Is it, as many religions would assume, the influence of evil?
    To illustrate how I would answer, let me take the example of Christian missionaries. Now many Christian missionaries from the US will go to another country and, in the course of their ministry, proceed to raise their children in the other country. Let’s assume the country is Japan. Legally, the children may even have dual citizenship. But to which culture would such a child, raised from infancy in Japan, be most aligned with? What has been found is that such children often have what’s called a “third culture,” they are not fully aligned with either culture. Their culture is one that borrows from each culture and thus becomes unique in its own right.
    So then the average American, has for a culture a blend of what they hold as an ideal culture and the culture around them. And their children will blend that with the culture around them, wherever they end up. So it is a constant mixing of cultures, which tends to homogenize over many generations in any given area, and the resulting homogenized culture ends being unique to the place. It is no wonder that the consciousness of ancient ancestors would reverberate even to this day, and even if you have no blood relation to them.
    So what JMG would call the influence of place, I would perhaps call the cultural evolution. Different by degrees but much the same until a new evolutionary jump (psuedomorphosis) takes it to a different level.
    No spirits, no gods. Just a mechanism that, while deterministic in theory, seems wildly indeterministic in reality. Except that any sufficiently complex deterministic system will seem indistinguishable from indeterminism. Much like we say that any sufficiently advanced science is indistinguishable from magic.

  159. The late great Toby Hemenway, author of “Gaia’s Garden,” once wondered aloud why his talks tended to draw “all these goddess types.” Permaculture has gone out of its way to adhere to a rationalist, scientific perspective, and its cadre make no secret of that. So why the pagans?

    It has slowly been dawning on me over the last year that this may be permaculture’s Achilles heel. People tend to join the movement all fired up about its potential to reconnect them with the land and its secrets only to have any motion toward a spiritual connection sneered out of them by the leadership. That happened to me personally several years ago. I think that this factor, above all else, is why participation in the permacultural world is more like a revolving door than a waxing egregor. People come, people go, they take ideas with them, but they rarely seem to stay pumped about the whole package for very long.

    Tamanous-a (oi?) are not welcome. That’s superstitious hocus pocus. We’re real scientists here. Respect!

    I know David Holmgren is at least an occasional follower of this blog, and I’d be curious to see if the tone of his latest book (what was it called? Retroburbia?) has changed significantly from his earlier, more atheistic offerings. Anybody have any insight? I haven’t read it yet. And I also haven’t participated with the larger permaculture community for several years (for the aforementioned reason), so my view may be outdated. Membership could be growing fast for all I know. But my take is that active participation in the craft will continue to languish until the movement reconciles its relationship to the spiritual aspects of what it’s attempting to accomplish. I’d be happy to be corrected.

  160. KevPilot said:
    “Pretty much any wine-drinking NPR listener with over-crammed bookshelves, distaste for party politics and a valid passport. (Add foreign languages for extra points)”

    Hey, that’s us! Me and my wife that is. Outside of our 1000 volume library with a proper home, we have side tables made out of book stacks, empty wine bottles in the kitchen, and speak at least some of 4 languages collectively. I can sing in Russian a little too…

    But we haven’t listened to NPR for many years. And our passports are now out of date, and will likely stay that way. Yeah, that’s pretty much my informal take on the intelligentsia as well. I was also taken aback at JMG’s more formal definition.

  161. Tude,

    You ask about the yugas. Yes, I’m interested in them and follow Sri Yukteswar’s theory on that, in which he shortens the time lengths to something a lot more reasonable. We are leaving the Kali yuga now and entering the rising Dwapara yuga.

    But for me now all bets are off, on the yugas, on the ice ages, on history – instead I have become enmeshed in what might be called Saturn Sun/electric universe theory. Following mythology as the lead, researchers are piecing together an entirely different history of earth and our solar system than the uniformitarian one we have been taught. Instead, myths from around the world are very consistent that the planet Saturn was a minor sun, like a brown dwarf, that lived in our polar sky and was universally worshiped as a god. It interacted electrically with out sun and all sorts of havoc ensued over several thousands of years in a series of catastrophes, all recorded and even preserved in pictorial images around the world. But it is so startling that thus far people have just ignored the words of the ancients. The moon, Mars, Venus and Jupiter are all in the myths, from Greece to the near east, to China and Mesoamerica. And of course the deluge.

  162. A few years ago I moved into a 300 year old home which is very old for America. As a student of history I’ve spent the past few years learning about the history of the small Quaker village in New Jersey that I now call home. In my research I came upon a folklorist Henry Charlton Beck who in the 1930s travelled throughout New Jersey collecting stories of “forgotten towns”. This was in an era right before New Jersey became the endless suburban hinterlands of the New York/Philadelphia megalopolis. These tales of pre suburbanized New Jersey really helped me gained a sense of the place that had its unique culture long since paved over and homogenized by its surrounding urban cultural forces.

    Living in the same place you grew up and being a “townie” are looked down on here. I believe that this part of that hatred of one’s American-ness that is part of the American intelligentsia mindset. Every other place is seen as better then where you currently are. If you are here in “boring New Jersey” you yearn for Colorado, California or a major East Coast city. You are supposed to get a schooling in our “great schools” and “safe suburbs” then go out into the world. Staying put here is failing. The wealthy suburban boomers will all eventually be leaving to trendier retirement locations once the kids are out of state in college.

    Currently my efforts to connect with the place I live involve a lot of research into history as well as hiking and trying to gain a feel for the place and its true spirit. The easily tamed terrain of New Jersey with its crossroads locations will always make it a diverse place where others are gruffly tolerated as long as they don’t get too into your business. This is the cultural baggage of the long gone Dutch merchants and Quaker farmers that still resonates within the state’s culture despite the suburban coastal American intelligentsia culture that dominates the place now.

  163. Dear Tude, do you have any insight on the CA senate race? DiFi is of course a member of the MIC, and Deep State and she wasn’t going to be allowed to loose, but de Leon shouldn’t have lost by as big a margin as he did. Maybe he needed some actual issues, not just ID politics? I left CA about 10 years ago. The only thing I miss is the climate and the 12 month growing season.

    Dear Will J, I for one am glad that Tester won in Montana if only because the presence in the Senate of a working organic farmer is a major embarrassment to Big Ag. Every election, two now, they try to take him out and they so far fall short. The Dem. leadership, with typical incompetence, puts him on the banking committee instead of on agriculture, where he belongs.

  164. Terry Brennan,

    You said, “That’s the reason I hate Trump’s hateful talk. It’s unAmerican. Our political-spiritual task is to create a society that values everyone’s contributions.”

    Maybe you could disagree without calling it hateful. For one thing, you are accusing a majority of Americans, who want border control, of being hateful.
    Trump has said that we cannot take in all the world’s poverty stricken people without drowning. He said of the people who file for asylum, only three percent show up for their hearings. This isn’t about race.
    At some point we have to take practicalities into consideration. Man does not live by emotion alone.
    I also feel that we owe our first priority to the people that were brought here in chains. They get their labor undersold by immigrants, (as do all the laboring classes). I think it is appropriate to deal with our obligations to these people, who are Americans, and who are still in the process of fitting in.

  165. If I might be allowed to post some slightly OT breaking news:

    The destruction of the corrupt Dem. leadership, you should excuse the expression, might come about much sooner than we had thought. One can hope. Me, I suspect this is a Watergate level scandal which could take down a whole slew of corrupt Dems, from Debbie Washerwoman to Chuckie Schemer to Fancy Nancy herself.

  166. I found this post very interesting, as it discussed some of the tension I feel in my own life. I often wish I had been born in Europe, and I am a bit envious of people who get to have a castle in their town. And, to take it further, the castle was built by their own ancestors who also lived in the town. I live in the western United States, and there have not been enough generations of my ancestors to quite put our mark on the land (in more of a spiritual sense, that is; obviously human construction is everywhere).

    Sometimes I dream of moving to Europe, but I don’t think I would ever fit. Like it or not, I never feel more at home than in the West. Cowboys and Indians, bison and bear, wide open spaces, scorching deserts and pine-covered mountains are my mythology and my geography. Even the west side of the Cascades feels a bit off, as if the frontier ended on the east side and the greater Seattle area is another land and culture entirely.

    So, I will read J.R.R. Tolkien and Louis L’Amour, watch soccer and American football, appreciate stone castles and log cabins, sing Latin chant and bluegrass hymns. I may never find a place where I fit just right, but perhaps my descendants will.

    To put an actual question in here, do you think the American intelligentsia would be happier if they just moved to Europe or would they feel even more out of place there?

  167. An anecdote on the Scandinavian unity theme: Several years ago, I asked my mother’s ancient, but sharp as a tack, aunt about our Swedish ancestors. She kindly, but firmly, corrected me: “We are Danish.” This, in spite of centuries of baptisms and marriages in what has been southern Sweden since the 1600s.

    The long ago Swedish invasion of what had been a part of Denmark must’ve left some pretty deep scars.

  168. John–

    More in line with the blog generally — although one might file under “frantic hand-waving by the dying intelligentsia — I spotted this on the “new book” shelves at the library:

    I might check it out to give it a once-through, but a quick glance suggests very much more-of-the-same-but-more-insistent. Is it just me or are the titles of these works getting more shrill? “Immortality”, indeed! I’m starting to think that I need to keep an eye out for noology flyers…

  169. Justin Patrick Moore,

    Cemeteries do provide another window into the past. I’ve also enjoyed admiring the work on headstones, or if lucky something a little bigger. One thing that always fascinated me a bit more was the names and having some ideas where the people came from. An interesting tidbit that you might find some connection with, was finding a number of Slovenian descendants in the Ely, Minnesota area. They brought their love of polka music with them, a music which shared a connection with their old lands but also with the new land they were in. Other than parts of Texas and Ohio, I learned there aren’t a lot of places that continue a tradition of polka. For some time I was actually involved with that tradition through the radio station I worked at. They’re looking for help again. Perhaps it’s a way I can give back and help people connect.

  170. @David: In principle, I agree. In practice, I differ on “reasoned tolerance”–for me, it includes a fair amount of open but non-intrusive dislike, and as far as I can tell, that’s always been the case in most civilizations. Whether I can’t stand my cousin Martha because she’s a bigoted waste of space, or never speak to my ex-roommate again because she never put the dishes in the sink or flip the bird at the guy tailgating me…well, as long as we each allow each other to go about our lives unhindered (except at the old your-right-to-swing-your-fist-ends-at-my-face boundary), then I consider that we’re getting along just fine. I also think it’s important for people to know that their actions–and yes, belief is an action if it influences speech–often mean that other people will not want you around, socially speaking, and on some level I’d rather have that than stability qua stability.

    As far as the wedding you mention goes, I’ve been at one that used aforesaid passage. I, and a bunch of other people on the groom’s side, did the thing you do at such times: kept our reactions to quick side glances in the church, joked about it in various cars on the way home, and more or less realized that the woman who picked said passage was probably not someone we’d want to be particularly close to socially. Likewise, I–not a radical lesbian, but a radical pro-choice sex-positive poly chick–have no desire for a friendly relationship with anyone who believes I should be tortured eternally for enjoying my own body, but I could probably live next to a fundie couple just fine with no confrontation on my part. Life is full of Friends’ Unfortunate SO Choices and Relatives Who Are Why God Made Gin, and Jesus may have told me to love my neighbor, but up here we’re just thankful when said neighbor isn’t actively hiding bodies in the septic system.

    I absolutely think people of widely divergent views should be able to co-exist. I just don’t think that means we should feel obligated to *like* each other, or to refrain from saying so when we don’t, as long as we’re not saying so in an intrusive way. (For example, the people at Tucker Carlson’s house are awful–I hate the guy, but his kids do not deserve any of that.) The posters you mentioned probably cross the line for me, because they’re imposing the sentiments on a public place, but I don’t know that a bumper sticker would.

  171. Max Osman,

    I really didn’t understand your comment. So..the media overportrays all blacks as being impoverished, when they’re not. (But they do tend to vote as a block.)

    Why did Bernie lose the election?

    [That is actually the reason why Bernie lost the primaries against Clinton and what is causing the current uproar in Florida. ]

  172. @Quos Ego – Not sure where the personal attack is coming from, IMO “conceit” would be saying that since I’m 4th generation California then the newcomers should all leave or do things my way. It’s fine that California has been invaded by SJWs that want a poor underclass of undocumented people that can exploit, if they want it they can have it. But I want to option to move to another state that’s not controlled by them.

  173. ” the hippies I’ve always respected are the ones who weren’t afraid of being poor and eating rice and beans from time to time.”

    Mmm, rice and beans…but then, sometimes the stocks run low enough that Daddy fasts “for spiritual reasons.” 😉 (and of course that’s at least half true)

  174. David by the Lake said reported someone as saying “Amidst a proclamation of the evils of anti-majoritarianism generally and the wrongness of the Senate specifically: “Farmers and Christians can go [frack] themselves!””

    My friend and housekeeper read that and said “Bottom of the barrel! A classic indication of immaturity and barbarism.” I could not have said that better myself!

  175. Re: beans & rice – Alas for old age. I’m fond of the food of my forebears, but no longer love trying Latin cuisine; happy with hand tools and surroundings of the smaller scale of seventy years ago, but crave cushions and comfort and want extra warmth.However, many a person has pointed out the comparison between crones and cats! And like the cat, eschew the unfamiliar. Such as, alas, beans and rice. Macaroni, now….

  176. P.S. And porridge. And my new digs, courtesy of my daughters, will decidedly be of a certain smallness. But for certain comforts, well, fry me up, serve me up at Colonel Sanders, and hand me the infamous white feather.

    Yours in time travel,


  177. @ isabelcooper

    In principle, I agree with your agreement in principle 😉

    I draw the line in a slightly different place, not so much in terms of obligation, but in terms of “we need to get along if we’re gonna all live together “ in that I’d say we should also refrain generally from belittling one another’s beliefs in public. Perhaps it is my old Southern upbringing, but I put stock in politeness, even when I don’t care for someone.

    Not there should be laws about not belittling others; rather, that it is the respectful, adult thing to do. Moreover, it goes to reciprocity: if I don’t want my values insulted, then I should not insult those of others.

    The alternative, of course, is that we don’t all live together. Breakup of the Union is not at all a remote possibility, I’d argue, and is in fact probable with the ending of our empire. My hope is that when it likely does come, decades hence, that we manage it more peaceably than not. But then the different regions would be free to chart their own courses according to their own beliefs.

  178. Quos Ego, and that doesn’t prove gerrymandering at all. If the Democrats on average won their districts by a significantly higher margin than the GOP won theirs, that would account for it right there.

    Avery, I hadn’t heard about his new book! Mitch is very deeply into New Thought; his earlier books Occult America and One Simple Idea cover that tradition in quite a bit of detail, and it’s not at all surprising to me that it’s finding its feet again.

    Silvero, fascinating; thank you for this. This shows me just how wide the gap is between Scandinavia as it exists and Scandinavia as the American intelligentsia imagines it…

    Kongu3, the nearest equivalent to ‘jati’ in English is probably ‘ethnicity,” but I gather there are a lot of differences. As for the Daily Stormer, er, you do realize, don’t you, that they speak for a fraction of one per cent of Americans at most?

    Max, so? There is still a poverty class, it still contains a lot of nonwhite people (as well as a lot of white people), and a certain fraction of that class — most of them nonwhite — are allied with the middle classes (of all colors) in the political alliance I mentioned.

    Philip H., oh, thank the gods. If that continues we may yet get through the next century without catastrophic mass dieoff.

    Isabel, a good point. As the Druid maxim has it, there ain’t no such thing as One True Way.With regard to the road, yes, that’s a place — in Druid Revival teachings, Elen of the Roads is the goddess of that place, and those who walk the roads are under her protection. (Insert long disquisition about the Old Straight Tracks here…)

    Justin, most American authors and poets are all about that two-way pull — pay attention to how they’re responding to the Old World writers and poets who’ve inspired them and you can watch that in process.

    David, it’s new, but I think it’s mostly just that they’re scrambling around for something to blame for their failure.

    DT, I think that’s also a factor.

    Tripp, fascinating — I wasn’t aware of that detail of Permaculture. Yeah, that would be a very nice self-kicking machine.

    Garrett, fascinating! “Townie” is a term of local pride here in East Providence, RI, but I’m sure it got there because other people used it as a term of abuse.

    Nastarana, it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.

    Christopher, a lot of members of the American intelligentsia have tried that at different times. It never really works.

    Ottergirl, that doesn’t surprise me at all.

    David, yes, I used to watch “Tom Corbett, Space Cadet” too, but I didn’t mistake it for a documentary. 😉

    Will, no surprises there either.

    Tripp, fortunately we’ve got an ample supply of rice and beans here; if you’re up East Providence way, stop by and I’ll dish you up a bowl. 😉

    Patricia M., fortunately Sara and I took to eating rice and beans (and rice and lentils, and rice and black-eyed peas, etc.) a long time ago, so it’s comfort food for us! By all means enjoy your macaroni, though.

  179. @Will J,
    I found the same thing to be true regarding the election. I was talking to friends who were disappointed that Trump wasn’t vanquished and all made right w/the world. I mentioned the election of the two native representatives (one lesbian) and the good standing of the two black gubernatorial candidates, and they made that seem like small potatoes, but then again, they are fervent believers in the myth of progress, so…

  180. Canada’s intelligentsia, in my experience, has gone rather further than the American in self-lothing, but only in certain ways.

    For one thing, they are all insufferably smug in their Canadian identity whenever the topic of the USA comes up, but are no less loathing their culture than you see in the US. It lends a certain extra schizophrenia to them (us, I suppose) as a group.

    For another, the white Canadian elites have a much stronger obsession with native american culture. They’re handing out membership in the Wannabe tribe with bachelor’s degrees, now, I think. Every public meeting (and many private/corporate ones, even internally) start with a virtue-signalling declaration that you’re on ‘the traditional lands of [whoever]’.

    “This land ain’t my land,
    this land ain’t your land,
    this land, belongs to the Wannabe”

    College, even high school graduations get smudge or drum ceremonies and traditional songs. (It’s not appropriation if they pay for the performance, I suppose.) Taking it further, in Ontario at least, they were pushing ‘indigenous culture’ into the curriculum at every grade level — but the populist revolt in the form of the Ford government put paid to that. If class conflict boils over, I do worry about where that’s going to take race relations… unless The Powers That Be somehow manage to push a full Native American psudomorphsis onto Canadians before then.

    Or would that be reversing the euro-psudomorphisis? In which case, how does that make sense as a top-down initiative from the elite and intelligentsia?

    (How this fits with our idolising immigrants of colour I really don’t get. All the huddled masses of Asia and Africa have a right to the soil of Turtle Island– it’s just us white devils that don’t. Again, the doublethink contributes to a certain schizoid atmosphere I can’t say I enjoy.)

  181. @David: For the most part, totally agreed–I’d draw the line when those beliefs can be proven to hurt people, but that’s a different sidetrack. I think what we’re seeing here is the difference between Boston/northern NE, where we all sort of accept, as far as I can tell, that “living together” means “I loathe you and kind of openly rejoice in your misfortune, but I will not actually do anything to hasten it, because we have to have a society” as often as not, and we’re mostly all cool with that. We also don’t expect to *interact* with each other all that much, which likely contributes.

    (Four years in a girls’ dorm during high school doesn’t hurt either–men may be more up front/violent, but for sustained and even cordial functional society where half the population absolutely despises the other half* and everyone is aware of that, you want forty adolescent women. Or a large extended family. Actually, I’d add LARPing circles and faculty at any given institution into the mix.)

    I think also there’s a difference in perception regarding “public” as it applies to the internet or news media or whatever, and public figures versus private ones, and so forth–I’m not going to demand to know someone’s beliefs, but if they make them public in a way that insults people I know and care about, I’m going to throw a few stones back.

    But yeah, I sort of take the opposite tack in some ways: I assume–and know, in some cases–that people have described me and my lifestyle in fairly unpleasant terms**, and usually I wear said terms as a badge of honor, and give right back, and that’s just…how it goes, and fine, so long as none of us actually pulls a knife. Which we won’t, because there are rules.

    @JMG: Neat! I shall look into both of those things, and thank you!

    * And not along any clean dividing lines, either. Oh, no–Cindy wants Janice to jump in a lake, and Sandra likes them both fine but would see Louise dead if she could manage it, and so on, and so on.
    ** There are very likely people in my former social circles who’ve used the word “homewrecker,” for instance, and I’ve said things back about nosy, jealous Puritans, and we continue on our ways and interact coolly but functionally when we run into each other at mutual events.

  182. @JMG: That’s precisely the point of gerrymandering: putting all the voters of one party in as few districts as possible. Louisiana and Ohio are great examples of that. A party that wins the popular vote shouldn’t be losing the House by such a wide margin: if you look at past elections, cases when the popular vote meant not taking the House were extremely rare. And even when it happened, the gap in terms of seats was nowhere as huge.

    @Tude: no personal attack whatsoever (or none meant). I just found your tone very dismissive of people who don’t share your views.

  183. About ten years ago, a company I worked for (Germany based) employed a consultant to discuss German and American cultural differences. At one point, as an aside that he didn’t expand on, he said something to the effect (if I remember correctly) ‘your location becomes part of your genes’. I’m not sure what he meant, but it makes a bit more sense to me now.

    While the discussion here of place is more spiritually based, I wonder if part of the attraction to cetain places can also have to do with microbes, pollen or other compounds and such in the air that our bodies might ‘like’ or recognize in certain areas. I’m thinking along the lines of ‘forest bathing’. No one here has mentioned feeling at home in a shiny new Apple store in a shopping mall! 🙂

  184. I grew up in what you might call the “technocrat” branch of the Intelligentsia. The striving for acceptance was certainly there in spades. It took the form of focusing on science and medicine as being the only sensible career aims. Fill in the blank with anything other than “doctor” or “engineer,” and my parents would invariably respond to any sign of a future career interest with, “Oh, but it’s so hard to make a living as a ___.” My sisters and I always recognized how manipulative that was, but for some reason it took much longer to figure out how insulting it was as well.

    The only variation from how you describe the situation was the lack of any attempt to emulate any European culture. My father’s parents were German immigrants between the wars, which ancestry was considered nothing to be proud of; my mother’s side were “old Philadelphia” upper middle class and her motto was, “We’re Americans, that’s all, and everyone else who comes here should be too.” This was not the case, though, for most of the people in our upscale neighborhood in the Philadelphia suburbs, who made similar salaries to my research chemist father but often considered themselves his betters because they were “in management.” They did the European vacations, French and Italianate decor, and so forth. (I suppose on the broader historical level you could think of science and engineering as European pursuits, but no one was thinking of it that way where I was.)

    In any case, my departure from the expected career path, which I’d followed as far as a certain prestigious east coast educational institution whose name pretty much epitomizes this week’s post’s characterization of “intelligentsia,” was rather dramatic and traumatic. Later that same week, I met the woman I’ve been madly in love with ever since, though we didn’t marry until over a decade later. (This outline omits many details, but be assured the full story reads even more like contrived fiction.) Since then, what seems a familiar story here: creative pursuits, working-class work, and frugality.

    It’s interesting that my sisters and I ended up in three different geographical regions of the U.S.: one sister in North Carolina, one in Minnesota, and me here in New England. All of us got where we are not by picking a region per se, but by picking a mate with deeper roots in that region. And yet, if you’d looked at our personalities while we were growing up many years ago, you could easily have predicted all three choices of region. I like the idea that places change people, but consider the possibility that directly or indirectly, they also choose people.

    (I usually comment as “Walt,” but as it seems there’s more than one Walt who comments here, I’m going to try to remember to use “Walt F” for clarity.)

  185. Dean Myerson said:

    “The EC is kind of like the American appendix – an old useless thing that nobody even realized they had – until it ruptures.”

    Funny you should bring that up. Turns out the appendix might not be any more useless than the EC. Medical scientists at Duke University Med School published an online report this week suggesting that the appendix likely plays a major role in producing (midwife-ing?) and protecting beneficial gut flora, especially after catastrophic floral evacuations due to major GI disturbances.

    Pretty important role, don’t you think? Turns out it’s just our ignorance and arrogance that leads us to believe that we know better.

    Don’t think I could’ve invented a better analogy…

  186. Silvero, thank you so much for the reference to the TV series “1864” and the aftermath of the Schleswig-Holstein wars! I have just now read the Wikipedia article on the series.

    It has clarified much that was obscure to me in the history of my immigrant Danish great-great-grandparents, Jens Holm Thrane and Anna Katerina Wormsløv, who left Denmark in 1866 or 1867 and never looked back. I had heard vague mutterings about Schleswig-Holstein when I was a boy, but didn’t understand what I heard well enough to ask for any clarification–I only sensed that it was a matter that had called forth strong emotions. Also, I knew that they had become dissatisfied with Denmark for some unstated reason, and left for the US as soon as our Civil War was over.

  187. @Nastarana – I have zero “insight” into CA politics anymore. Newsom, Pelosi, Feinstein, just all horrible people in just about every way and so full of it I just can’t anymore. My own Congress critter is from out of state and was a lifelong Republican until a few years ago when his good buddy, our former Congress critter (from 1975 until his retirement in 2015!!) basically got him to change to a Democrat so he could be installed. California politics is a toxic sludge. I stopped voting for good when I personally witnessed the blatant election fraud against Sanders in Nevada and California. My husband, never one to be political at all, was so disgusted with the Democratic primary he absolutely refuses to vote ever again. It cuts into his drinking time.

    The fact that any of these corrupt cretins have ANYTHING to say about Trump’s behavior and morals just makes me want to puke. Ugh.

    @Shane W – I have been in the Bay Area since 1996. I lived in KY from 1988-1990, and still have friends there and have a standing offer to go back and help on their farm. I plan to leave CA in the next few years, even though it’s my birthplace and the birthplace of 3 generations before me. I mentioned KY in the past because I sometimes consider moving back and was curious about how others felt about it.


    Interesting news which has gone quite unnoticed at least in the Finnish media. What about other countries?
    JMG, you havent written much about Middle East. Maybe you should. what are your your thoughts about the article?
    I view Assad being the least among alternative evils. Sure he is a ruthless man, but isn’t that a job requirement in those circumstances? Besides that, he is also quite well educated man and seems to have some common sense.

  189. JMG,
    Please dont make too much of the daily stormer thing. I am not a Aryan or anything. After Trump came in, i was trying to find some ultra sites so i wont be blind-sided. Started with breitbart but too bland, U.S-centric and commenters too predictable.

    One example of the blind-siding: Trump calling himself a nationalist and the liberals going through the roof. Would have never understood what is the matter since such assertions are normal and even expected here.

    (Coming from what we lovingly call a ‘multi-racist’ country, most racial slurs by whites are somewhat mild!)

    “Ethnic” is not it. The fluidity you mentioned as happening in the volkerwanderung is nearer to it.

    A probable example: Amish, Mormon, Jews can be ‘jati’. Also, say, some group in appalachian who are reluctant to marry outsiders. Or if the bankers in New York decide to breed among themselves.

    Jati also often merge. It is hard nowadays to find a pure hokkien or cantonese here. So, they are just chinese.

    Maybe some german word for it?

  190. To think of it,
    I have enough info to safely say your MAWA slogan will make you a white supremist!

  191. … will make you a white supremist! in current hysterical situation in the U.S.

    Sorry for being off topic. Pretty slow with digesting ideas. I usually need to read a lot of comments and your answers to it before i can fully grasp your ideas.

  192. Intriguing as always. It is an interesting use of the word intelligentsia. America is a weird colony. It isn’t like India where talented and aspiring natives were trained to do the white collar work the colonial elites needed done. America suppressed the natives and built a new Europe on new land. The modern intelligentsia in America isn’t coopted natives but largely European transplants, particularly in the 19th and first 3/4 of the 20th century. More recently it has become more diverse with people of Asian and other backgrounds that aspire to climb based on their talents.

    I really like the insight that the parts of the US that were settled by Europeans before 1800 are quite different than the parts settled since. I always viewed the reverence for Europe as part creating a myth to aspire to and part clear thinking that in the later part of the 20th century some cultural aspects of life in northern Europe and the more European of American cities were indeed better than in Walmart/strip-mall land where I grew up. But clearly the economic reality underlying much of Europe has always been quite tenuous, and I guess that is what you are getting at.

    The great question that we keep coming back to is how much we should focus on the ongoing cycles of cultural appropriation as military and economic power shift, and how much we should focus on the traumatic onset of modernity that followed the industrial revolution starting in the early 19th century with the unique path that a global economy running into limits on industrial growth will chart. Here, I see Europe, particularly England and Germany offering some useful models because they were first to industrialize and have several decades of pulling back from the peak of their hubris and empire that the globe can learn from. But mostly we are flying headlong into a future with few close precedents in the past. If industrial modernism completely collapses, there will then be much to learn from pre-industrial societies. But the strained overextended stage of our global industrial society has simply not had any precedents on this planet.

  193. I read this post just as I was a few days into a trip in the US, which is my first time since I was a child.

    I feel like there is a definite difference between how people behave here compared to the UK (where I studied) and to Singapore (which has more recent ties to the British Empire). It’s a common trope that Brits are cold and formal while Americans are warm and friendly, but in my experience so far, in terms of interacting with strangers, the opposite seems to be true; white Americans are colder to me compared to how English were, at least in North England.

    I remember reading some 19th/early 20th quip about an American in England giving away his origins despite his flawless RP accent due to his use of “sir” and never understood it until now; I never thought about it, but in British English “sir” is normally used only in contexts where e.g. some official or shopkeeper serves a customer, and it was jarring to hear strangers on the street or at the gym calling me “sir”. Most Brits IME would either just say “excuse me” without an additional mode of address, or use “mate”.

    It might be my own subjective reading but I feel like Brits in general are more sincere even when they are “being polite” while there is a tinge of insincerity and passive-aggressiveness in the small niceties that Americans offer to strangers.

    I found “coloured” Americans of all ethnicities to be warmer in general.

    Anyway, these are just subjective observations which could be wrong, and regional cultures within America probably vary a lot in these attitudes. I’m currently in New Mexico, where, from what I can tell, the white population is mainly comprised of fairly recent immigrants from around the US. I met a very friendly and charming Southerner on the plane who was a Trump-voter and a professor in a hard science. I hope no one is offended by this.

    A few other thoughts that rise to my mind after reading this article:
    How far does the Faustian dream of will towards infinite expansion really apply to the ordinary masses even within Faustian culture? I remember Spengler saying something like men truly of a culture embody that culture’s whole trajectory in their lives. I feel like a lot of the working class in the Faustian heartland of Western Europe aren’t truly “men of Faustian culture” in that sense.

  194. @David, By The Lake
    Re: Coming irrelevance of states

    I noticed your comments, and it caused me to wonder why you link greater centralization with the possible dissolution of the states the way the Founders designed them . The two concepts don’t have a necessary linkage, as far as I can see.

    Getting rid of the states as they’re currently designed would allow a realignment of boundaries on a sane cultural, geographic and ecological basis, where a district (or whatever it’s called) would have enough natural coherence that the citizens could reach agreement on most issues that directly affect them.

    On the other side, we need a thorough reexamination of what needs to be standardized nationally and what should be dealt with locally.

    Re: Interstellar terraforming, et al (hopefully al tasted good).

    As far as I’m concerned, people in that subculture have a rather tenuous connection with reality. It should be obvious that our current understanding of physics doesn’t allow for any realistic form of interstellar travel, and a physics that does leaves the mechanism wide open. It’s just as likely that most interstellar communication is done by something related to astral scrying and actual movement of goods or people is through portals of some kind, as that it’s done with gigantic spaceships using the wish-fullfulment drive.

    Given that we currently have no clue how it could be done, speculation of what we would do if it was possible seems, to put it mildly, a slight bit premature.

    I suppose, if it keeps them out of worse trouble, it’s a slight net positive.

    Re: Appendix

    That theory is several years old. I haven’t heard anyone try to refute it, so I believe it’s either the current consensus or on its way there.

  195. Dear John Michael Greer,

    You write of some trollery, “So it got fed to my pet black hole, Fido, who gobbled it up and belched.” I know a blogger who calls her own pet black hole, as it were, for what she calls the rudie-toodidoms Trex. She says Trex especially enjoys the crunchier ones. And it occurs to me that this mental (astral?) construct might be especially effective for peace of mind for those who would write for the public. The comments sections of most newspapers, and many blogs, look to me like a moshpit out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting.

    @ Justin Patrick Moore Thanks for sharing that fascinating (!!) information about Harry Smith. In my previous comment I was referring to a different Harry Smith, however, the publisher of The Smith and Pulpsmith, whose papers are in Brown University He was a pretty wild guy in his way, too. And an excellent poet and essayist.

    Kind regards,


  196. @isabelcooper

    I think we are in general agreement then, with perhaps some differences in emphasis and nuance. Fair enough!

    And FWIW, I did my last two years at a residential high school (coed school, but single-gender dorms of course, as we were all minors). It was a great enactment of soap opera dramatics, to be sure. So I do understand your point of reference.

    None of this is easy, and there are times when values come into direct conflict with one another. Messy and unsatisfying compromise is better than endless battles and perpetual seesawing back and forth as first one group gains control and then the other, I’d argue, but not everyone sees it that way.

    Excellent discussion! My thanks for that 🙂

  197. Straws in the wind: The latest issue of Sojourners, a Christian Left magazine I subscribe to, has two articles of interest here. The first, about action in Appalachia, is headed “Just don’t call it ‘Social Justice’.” Because there, they think in terms of “doing for each other.” Pointed out with approval. Of course, the magazine went right back to talking about it in the other articles, book reviews, etc.

    The second is called “Here is the Church, Here is no Steeple.” Noting that churches today are tied to their buildings and property like a financial and ministerial millstone, an L.A. church gave up their building, bought a parking lot, and stopped asking for money. Catabolic collapse in action? Sure looks like it.

  198. @ David, by the lake

    Re: 11/9 at 10:44 am – House districts and state boundries.

    I generally agree with JMG that it’s a way of blaming losses, and is fairly new. But there is a grain of truth in it as well.. You’ll have to follow me down a few side tracks to let me make my point.

    Jane Jacobs, in her economic writiings, has pointed out that “the wealth of nations” is really the wealth of regions, more specifically cities and their outlying regions, within a nation, and not all the activity (or lack thereof) within arbitary and capricious national boundries. IOWs there are active and inactive areas within arbitrary nation-state borders. The same analysis applies to state boundries.

    A good example is Chicago. It’s economic tentacles extend well beyond the city limits,and well beyound the borders of Illinois. Anyone living in Northern Indiana can attest to this. But it isn’t just econoic forces which radiate outward from Chicago, it’s cultural forces as well. I’m thinking of museums, shopping, restaurants, baseball teams, and so on. I assume the deeper Faustian culture is already a shared feature common to Ill. and IN. So, if you’d agree (and I’m assuming you will) that Chicago radiates it’s economic and cultural influence at least as far as South Bend, is it really so odd that someone might suggest a house district that runs E/W between the two cities?

    Of course this opens a can of worms. Exactly where does Chicago’s influence weaken enough that the house district is no longer representative of the people living within Chicago’s gravitational pull? We have to draw the lines somewhere and wherever they are drawn they will necessarily be subjective.

    I’m not advocating for cross boarder house districts, just pointiing out that, IMO, it’s not entirely irrational.

  199. @Quos Ego – Well, I find your “tone” to be someone who likes to “tone police”, as well as someone who is always right. So, I attempt to read what you actually say, filter out my emotions and how I am interpreting your “tone” and evaluate the merits of your comments. I can assure you if you think I’m someone who is “very dismissive of people who don’t share my views” well, you couldn’t be more wrong. So perhaps you might want to re-evaluate the “tone” you assume people have that don’t agree with you.

    If people want a real look at the reality of the Bay Area, a research study has been recently published that validates my observations of the Bay Area as a former grad student in Anthropology, and a resident of several neighborhoods in SF and the East Bay over the last 22 years.

    And these national maps are incredible

    I am proud to say that I eventually settled in what is one of the truly integrated areas of the Bay Area (one of very few). A traditionally working class/unincorporated area where I am able to live in a neighborhood where people know and like each other, and closely resembles the United Nations. But most of the Bay Area is not like this at all. As someone who was born and grew up in Southern California in mainly working class/poor neighborhoods, the segregation I witnessed living in SF in the 1990s was shocking.

    And these are the people that want to control the entire Nation. Sorry, that scares me.

  200. Hi Tripp and others interested,
    I purchased David Holmgren’s book and I found it more full of practical strategies for making it in the suburbs in hard times then permaculture dogma. He references the many permaculture principles, which seemed somewhat superfluous to my uninitiated mind, but on the whole, the book is readable and not too full of permaculture preachy-ness. In fact, he gives credit to John Jeavon’s bio-intensive gardening methods as perhaps the best way to grow enough food for a family on a retrofited suburban house size lot. He barely mentions the permaculture zone business and then generally only in relation to using surrounding waste land for firewood or goat fodder. Practical, workable arrangements of any kind seem to be what he is promoting largely aimed at an Australian audience, but a lot of it will move north I think.

    On the whole, I found “Retrosuburbia” to mesh very well with our hosts Green Wizard ideas and those of the Transition Town community ideas. I haven’t quite finished the book and I am currently into the fuzzy parts of living in extended households. So far he hasn’t mentioned any spiritual ideas or considerations. I did listen to a podcast he made where the interviewer asked him about his early life and he said he was raised by political activist, atheist parents and he made no comment about his own spiritual path other then to say he wasn’t religious, but he seemed very respectful of indigenous spirituality. In that light, it makes sense that permaculture would not include a spiritual principle.

    It also strikes me that Permaculture is the way it is because it is trying to make headway in our scientific rational religion in this Faustian culture and that without a spiritual principle or some acknowledgement of the spiritual nature of the world and humans, it would be a turnoff to many would be adherents. While I was interested in the idea, what little I know about permaculture suggested that you needed vast tracks of land to apply any of the principles, something that wasn’t available to me. Further, I couldn’t see how you could raise enough food for a family or community in a “food forest” especially in an arid region on a suburban size lot, which was what I have. This book provides ideas on how to work around that and a lot of them involve building community and working with your neighbors plus learning how to be a champion scrounge if you aren’t already.

  201. @ JMG & @ Quos Ego (if I may)

    Re gerrymandering

    So long as we have congressional districts, there will be some form of gerrymandering. Whichever party is in charge of the statehouse, will, to the best of its ability, use the opportunity to shape the districts in a way most advantageous to it. Democrats are no less guilty of this than Republicans; it is only that the Republicans had a considerable wave election at the last census and so were able to take advantage of that in many states. The courts can reign this dynamic in, but only loosely and generally defer to the legislatures except in more egregious cases.

    My solution would be to cut the Gordian Knot by despensing with CDs altogether. This would require a constitutional amendment, but a plausible one as it favors no one party; more to the point, however, it would come at the cost of jettisoning geographic representation in favor of ideological/interest representation, something people might not be willing to do.

    In essence, I’d argue for proportional allocation of seats of a state’s delegation to the House according to the overall vote by party within that state. This would not only solve the gerrymandering problem, but would also break the duopoly held by the two major parties, allowing minority parties a real chance for representation and potentially forcing open coalitions in the House (a good thing, in my view).

    So, in a hypothetical state with 10 House seats, if the overall vote came in at 30% Dem, 40% Rep, 20% Libertarian, and 10% Green, then the Dems get 3 seats, the Reps 4, but then the Libertarian party gets 2 and the Greens 1. More akin to parliamentary elections, but within the state delegation. (Yes, there’d have to be a method to handle fractions. I have one proposal ready in case that constitutional convention ever occurs.)

    The upshot of this is that one would be voting for a state party’s slate of candidates (publicly listed in ranked order) and policy platform rather than a specific candidate. This would make the state-level parties more prominent over the national organizations (again, a good thing in my view) and go a long way towards providing better representation of the state’s populace.

    Decentralization of power is a good thing with respect to better navigating the challenging decades ahead, I continue to argue.

    Just my two cents on the matter.

  202. Rather than repeal the EC, folks might consider enlarging the House of Representatives, which has not been done since 1929 and does not require changing the Constitution. From wiki:

    Then, in 1920, the Republicans removed the Democrats from power as the Whigs had done in 1838, taking the presidency and both houses of Congress. Due to increased immigration and a large rural-to-urban shift in population from 1910 to 1920, the new Republican Congress refused to reapportion the House of Representatives with the traditional contiguous, single-member districts stipulations because such a reapportionment would have redistricted many House members out of their districts.[9][10] A reapportionment in 1921 in the traditional fashion would have increased the size of the House to 483 seats, but many members would have lost their seats due to the population shifts, and the House chamber did not have adequate seats for 483 members. By 1929, no reapportionment had been made since 1911, and there was vast representational inequity, measured by the average district size; by 1929 some states had districts twice as large as others due to population growth and demographic shift.[11]

    Historical effects[edit]

    The Reapportionment Act of 1929 effectively capped the number of representatives at 435 (the size established by the Apportionment Act of 1911), where it has remained except for a temporary increase to 437 members upon the 1959 admission of Alaska and Hawaii into the Union.[12] As a result, the average size of a congressional district has tripled in size—from 210,328 inhabitants based on the 1910 census, to 710,767 according to the 2010 census. Additionally, due to the unchanging size of the House, combined with the requirement that districts not cross state lines, and the population distribution among states in the 2010 Census there is a wide size disparity among congressional districts: Montana has the largest average district size, 994,416 people; and Rhode Island has the smallest, 527,624 people.[13]

    Enlarging the House would give more representation to city folks and more EC votes to urban states.

    Anyone who thinks direct democracy is a good idea should read up on the history of Athens after the Persian War.

  203. I am a huge fan of Oswald Spengler, having read the Decline of the West and the Hour of Decision many years ago, and so there are aspects of your ideas about Russia and N. America that I find appealing. I really often do detect two separate cultures at work here in America, for example, so your pseudomorphosis explanation is intriguing.

    One problem with it, though, is that the exact same type of populist backlash that we see in America right now is also happening in Europe. And the elites of Europe seem to regard their own people no differently from the way the elites of America regard theirs. They seem to think of the common people of their own countries as nothing but a bunch of lazy, cantankerous savages who ought to be replaced through immigration as fast as possible–as soon as they all pay off their debts to the banks, of course!

    Ten years ago, when the economic crisis first hit and Greece went bankrupt, publications like the Economist were representing the situation as a contrast between ‘virtuous’ northern Europe and ‘profligate’ southern Europe. A few years later, when Merkel waved all the refugees in and the Visegrad countries revolted, we were being told that it was a case of ‘progressive’ western Europe versus ‘backward’ eastern Europe. But then came Brexit, which blew away both of those narratives. It now seems that there’s a general populist revolt against the EU elites going on all over Europe at once. Admittedly, it’s stronger in some countries than others; but I think it’s widespread enough that we can now rule out any strictly cultural explanations. Even Germany–yes, Germany!–now has an anti-Euro, anti-immigration party in the Bundestag.

    It might therefore be closer to the truth to say that we have a ‘pseudomorphosis’ of globalism imposed all over the West–and now a revolt all over the West against it. I have to put single-quotes around pseudomorphosis in this case, however, because I’m not sure such a usage would match Spengler’s.

  204. Silvero and Robert,

    Your comments shine light on a story I heard several times as a child from my grandpa, whose grandpa was a Danish blacksmith from Copenhagen. The blacksmith grandpa was noted for his fun-loving nature, quick wit, and community spirit. The only thing that caused him to boil with rage was if some hapless person commented on his German accent. Of course it wasn’t German, it was Danish.

    But was that any reason to go bonkers?

    Years later, when reading through a small stack of obituaries on Danish grandpa, I learned that his father was killed in action during the Schleswig-Holstein war.

    I finally understood that childhood story. And I see it in a broader context now.

    Thank you!

  205. Nastarana: second your comment about postwar Athens. Have you read Mary Renault’s Last of the Wine? a.k.a. Athens cuts it own throat. I keep three books of hers I consider a trilogy of “Athens: Beginning, Turning Point, Twilight.” Namely, The Praise Singer, Last of the Wine, and Mask of Apollo.

  206. @ John R.

    Re dissolution of the states

    I see it as a bit more complicated than that. The founders didn’t design the states. The structure of the state’ pre-existed the nation. The states ratified the Constitution and must ratify every amendment thereto. While it would be theoretically possible to redesign them, each and every state would hold an absolute veto on its own reorganzation, as the Constitution explicitly says that no territory shall be taken from a state without that state’s consent (WV being “consented to” by VA more or less at gunpoint). The states are the building block of this country, not arbitrary administrative districts which the federal government can reorganize at will. We’ve lost sight of that fact in our march to empire and the inevitable centralization which follows in that process.

    There are powers relevant to the national level, I’d agree. Most powers, I’d argue, should be at the state and local level. Among other things, I’m a firm believer in limited government and the feds have done a considerable amount of appropriation over time. (Again, this is a natural consequence of the imperial trajectory.) Given that our empire is failing, and the ties that hold our various cultural subnations together will continue to fray in the coming decades, I see decentralization as a better path forward. I’d rather dismantle an untenable federal bureaucratic machine than have it fail catastrophically.

    Regardless, I see interesting times ahead…

    @ Chris H

    Re CDs and state boundaries

    I understand the ideas behind the arguments, but they do ignore the unique nature of the states in this republic. My proposed solution (see my comment above) or a variant of it, would be a better way of managing the concerns of appropriate representation, I’d argue. Allowing for (even requiring) more fluid and more overt coalitions in the House.

  207. To John Michael,

    I’m not saying it’s my opinion of how the country should be. It’s what the Constitution says. It’s what America defines itself to be. Our horrific experience in Civil War made the leaders make clear the nature of the United States, as a open society, not as one built on ethnicity, race or religion.

    To One Thing,

    When I say that Trump says hateful things, I am not saying that the people who voted for him are saying hateful things. I only said something about Trump.

    It’s perfectly possible to be for the things you say — better asylum processing, border control — without being hateful. Obama didn’t open the borders, and spent a lot of effort on border control and immigration; he disappointed a lot of liberal Democrats I know. My objection to Trump is his hatefulness, not his policies. The fact that I can separate his policies from hatefulness means that I don’t have Trump Derangement Syndrome. I hope that you don’t have Trump Adoration Syndrome, because that’s just as bad.

  208. Seamus Padraig, about the situation in Europe you are spot on. In Germany, there are now quite a few demonstrations by leftists and Europhiles on behalf of the values of the elite (globalism, internationalism, and the whole identity politics program), whereas since the last election in Hesse the Afd (Alternative für Deutschland, Alternative for Germany) is in all the parlements of the 16 Länder.

  209. @Tude:
    You misunderstand. I don’t disagree with you (in fact, I have no opinion on the Bay area whatsoever, having never been there), I am just saying that the spite you seem to have for the people there (no matter their faults) is rather counterproductive.
    I’ve met plenty of “SJW” myself, and even though they are bull-headed, full of contradictions, and often infuriating, they do mean well.

  210. Kongu3, I would be astonished if there were an exact equivalent in any European language because India is completely unique. You have jati groups that are endogamous for thousands of years, made up of millions of people, living side by side with dozens of other caste and jati and religious outgroups throughout that period. Jewish history is the closest similarity in Europe but really it’s not even close.

  211. @David:
    funny, I was thinking exactly the same thing! Proportional representation via lists is a cool thing, and to add insult to injury, it would get rid of the stupid cults of personality that often contaminate elections.

  212. @David, by the lake, as someone who lives outside the US (Canadian-Irish), I found the Irish actually have a decent system for representation which could be adapted. My county, Clare has 4 members of the Dail (our Congress/Parliment). Rather than have districts, we get to vote for all 4. We get a list of all the candidates (there can be 16 or so) and you list your top favourite 8, in order of preference. A Candidate needs a certain amount of votes to be elected so if they are not all selected in the first round choices, they go to the second round etc. My observation is that it works fairly well.. and you could have people in a State vote for all the representatives in a similar fashion. ref:

  213. John Roth said:

    “Re: Interstellar terraforming, et al (hopefully al tasted good)”

    I’m glad I wasn’t drinking anything when I read that…

    Thanks for the data point re: appendix as gut flora mill. I hadn’t heard that before, although it doesn’t surprise me one bit that it isn’t as useless as formerly suspected.

  214. JMG: “Tripp, fortunately we’ve got an ample supply of rice and beans here; if you’re up East Providence way, stop by and I’ll dish you up a bowl. 😉”

    If I’m ever up East Providence way I will be there specifically to hug your neck and tell you how much I love and appreciate you…and I will gladly eat just about whatever you feel like dishing up.

  215. Tude,

    (Channeling King Edward the Longshanks)
    The problem with California…is that it’s full of Californians!

    Otherwise it’s kinda dreamy…particularly the coastal stretch that includes Santa Barbara, Big Sur, San Luis Obispo, and the redwood forest! I took a train once, many moons ago, from San Diego to Spokane and I’ll never forget those places I watched roll by out the window.


  216. @jaznights

    Thanks for that! I do think that parlaimentary-style elections, by state, would be appropriate for the House of Representatives.

    @ Quos Ego

    Quite. I’d much rather focus on policy platforms than personality cults! Perhaps we could jointly sponsor an appropriate amendment proposal on the convention floor 😉

  217. @Jaznights Referring to the Irish voting system, you said “We get a list of all the candidates (there can be 16 or so) and you list your top favourite 8, in order of preference.” I just want to clarify this slightly, as it is not exactly correct – and the system really is very interesting, and allows for small parties, and independents to gain seats.

    When you are in the voting booth in Ireland, looking at a single ballot paper listing all the candidates (say 16) presenting themselves to fill your constituency’s multiple seats (say 4), you take your pencil and put a 1 next to your top pick, a 2 next to your next top pick, and so on, numbering the selections in numerical order AS FAR THROUGH THE FULL 16 as you wish to go. The ballot is valid so long as there is a number 1 on it, no other number need be entered, but equally validly ALL THE numbers 1 to 16 MAY BE entered, if you wish – or any number in between. This ballot then counts as a “SINGLE, transferable vote”. There will be numerous counts, and at each stage the lowest counting candidates will be eliminated. Each time there is an elimination, the eliminated candidate’s votes will “transfer” to the next favourite candidate, and be re-counted and re-allocated accordingly. (Obviously ballots that only have a number 1 on them become immediately void in any counting round which eliminates that candidate). Each ballot may only count once in any of the individual rounds of counts, but as the night goes on, it may be validly allocated towards several different candidates, in different rounds, until all but the last four have been eliminated. (The count centre experience, which I’ve tallied at several times, is really quite interesting and complex,and very exciting and dramatic to watch, which is the major reason that I think the voting machines turned out to be a non-runner.).

  218. Dusk Shine, oog. And I thought our intelligentsia were bad…

    Quos Ego, yes, and quite a range of other things can cause the same effect. Insisting that the existence of the effect proves that only one of those causes must be solely responsible is really dubious logic, you know.

    Dennis, that’s a fascinating suggestion, and one that I don’t recall hearing before; thank you.

    Walt F., the thing about the European pseudomorphosis is that it doesn’t have to fixate on any one European country. At its heart, it’s a commitment to the values and cultural themes shared by the whole range of western and northern European cultures, and can coexist perfectly well with a commitment to the particular form of those values and cultural themes that was exported to North America.

    Luis, if you think I’m talking about that favorite punching bag the Left likes to call “patriarchy,” then I really don’t think you’re paying attention.

    Simo, that was discussed over here in the less partisan media — that is to say, over on the fringes — before it got drowned out by the election. Now that the shouting’s (mostly) over, I expect to see the Trump administration continue to walk back its involvement in Syria just as fast as the delicate balance between the factions on Trump’s side will permit.

    Kongu3, fair enough. You’re right that the German language might have some equivalent to ‘jati’, but I suspect it’s sixteen syllables long! (It was one of the delights of my childhood to learn that the original German word for “tank,” in the sense of military armored vehicle, was “schuetzengrabenvernichtungsautomobil,” which they then scaled down to “panzerkampfwagen”!

    Ganv, good. The one thing I’d point out is that what makes “modernity” aka the current global hegemony of Western industrial nations unique — aside from those ordinary cultural differences that divide any one culture from others, of course — is simply the fact that fossil fuels have made it possible for Faustian culture to extend its reach further than any previous dominant culture has done. With that in mind, it’s not at all hard to find equivalents among other cultures that have existed in relative isolation; if your fastest transportation goes at the speed of human feet, for example, the Yucatan peninsula is a very big world!

    Alvin, thanks for this. Spengler argued that Faustian culture finished its historical trajectory around 1800, and since then has been settling into the stasis that he called civilization; the consequence would be, as you’ve suggested, that a growing fraction of those outside the elite classes are no longer people of Faustian culture, for that culture is moribund and so the masses are evolving the sort of post-historic bricolage that normally emerges in a society at this stage of the process.

    Millicently, I’ll have to ask Fido if he’s met Trex somewhere in the ectocosmic realms where well-imagined metaphors hang out!

    Patricia M, thanks for both of these! Wind may definitely be changing…

    David, I think proportional representation might work very well — certainly it’s functioned quite well in those countries that have adopted it. One thing that’s always worth keeping in mind is that our Constitution is very much Representative Democracy 1.0, with a variety of patches in the form of amendments; most other nations running political software of the same kind have later releases, many of which include fixes based on our problems. (For example, look at the number of countries with a US-style presidency that limit the president to one six-year term; that’s an upgrade we could really use here!

    More generally, it would be useful to look at the experience of other nations with our kind of government and see how they’ve dealt with some of our system’s pervasive problems. That would be a sensible source of new ideas, since their fixes have by and large been tested.

    Nastarana, I could see that as a useful fix also — though there are physical limits to how many Representatives could be added to the House!

    Seamus, that’s a valid point. I’m just starting a reread of Spengler, for the first time in several years, and will have to see what he has to say about events of that kind.

    Terry, no, that won’t wash, will it? It’s a very common rhetorical gimmick on all sides of the political landscape to insist on the right to unilaterally define “what America defines itself to be” in terms of some narrow political agenda. I hate to break it to you, but nobody gave you the right to speak for America, and a very large number of people in this country disagree with you. Thus, yes, it’s just your opinion, as well as the opinion of those other Americans who happen to share it.

    Tripp, duly noted! We had rice and pigeon peas for breakfast this morning — pigeon peas are a close relative of black-eyed peas, very common in Portuguese cooking, so cheap and easy to find here in East Providence — so it’s far from improbable that it’ll be rice and legumes of some sort. 😉

  219. and bills to legalize marijuana are working their way through House and Senate both, backed by Trump’s promise to sign them when they’re passed. If he follows that up by issuing presidential pardons to everybody in the federal prison system who’s there purely for possession of weed, which he can do, he’ll win at a walk.

    If this was something Trump said on the 2016 campaign-trail, I would be inclined to regard that with a big grain of salt. Since ascending to the Oval Office, Trump has increasingly shown signs of attempting to cultivate the religious right as part of his political base, and cannabis-legalization sounds like something they would regard as a rank betrayal. Not to mention the fact that many non-incumbent candidates for the presidency say things that can’t or won’t follow up on should they win!

  220. A quick note regarding Denmark and Scandinavia more generally:

    “There’s nothing more depressing than living somewhere no one wants to be. Expats in Denmark are so miserable that the government launched a state-funded website – – specifically to create diversions (singles nights, English book clubs, flat landscape appreciation societies) to make living here more bearable.

    “But expat unhappiness in Copenhagen is so dense, not even light can escape. Get three expats together and it’ll be about six minutes before it descends into variations on the gripes I’ve just named (and I didn’t even get to the weather!). Get two together and they’ll you their secret plans to move back home, maybe start over again somewhere as rosy as Denmark once seemed.”

    The whole blog post is worth reading:

    Question everything, especially statistics lol.

  221. Rice and beans for breakfast! Not even Brazilians do that…

    Speaking of which, David’s suggested system of state-wide proportional election of representatives is almost exactly the Brazilian way, and it works extremely badly here, though in all fairness I think the problem is the combination of a rather sophisticated counting system with obligatory voting. Many people, a few months after the election, don’t actually remember who they voted for, as in the larger states there will be literally thousands of candidates rivaling for tens of seats. Most candidates simply try to make voters remember the number they have to punch in the voting machine, and nothing else. Furthermore, at the moment there are more than 30 parties in the House of Representatives, though these are being reduced by a barrier clause. Which is not say that proportional elections are a bad idea, only that one has to pay attention to the details. I like the German system 🙂

  222. Nastarana –California politics. Just listened to a talk by Dan Walters, a journalist who has been covering Sacramento for over 40 years. He has some interesting takes on the recent election. The following is a summary of what he said. Feinstein did not want to run bad heath, her and her husband) but was pressured by DMC. It is generally expected that she will resign in 2-3 years, leaving the seat to be filled by the new Democratic governor–this saved expensive primary fights and allowed the national Democratic party to spend that money on other races. There is speculation that Newsome might appoint himself–in a plan to line up for eventual presidential run. Newsome’s problem in CA is that he has made generous promises about education and health care to attract the Bernie wing but will be unable to fulfill them. One reason is that a super-majority in the Assembly is actually less able to push things through because of the number of Democrats who won narrowly in tight races and fear recall or loss of next election. More importantly, the reforms to education and heath care would double the state budget–just undo-able. Walters said the best thing that could happen for Newsome would be a recession that would let him off the hook. Part of current weirdness is Calif politics is the recent use of winner take all primaries. All candidates run against each other in June and only the top two are on the ballot in Nov. This is how we ended up with two Democrats running against each other for the US Senate. Minority parties have been stripped of any ability to influence the Nov. election since they won’t even appear on the ballot except for national offices like president.

    California is one of many states that has a strong rural/city divide. An attempt to split the state 3 ways was taken off the ballot by a federal judge. There have been many such efforts. One was stalled by the Civil War, a second was stalled by WW II. People are still working on it. Then there are the talks of succession—-Ecotopia rides again 🙂 (_Ecotopia_ was a Utopian novel of the mid-70s by Ernest Callenbach in which CA has become s separate nation based on ecological prinicples.)

  223. About the issue of Progressive idealization of the Scandinavian nations:

    I can’t help but wonder if Scandinavia acts as a Progressive’s version of a Whitetopia – a place where all the inconvenient peoples happen to exist outside of their vision. Just as Coeur d’Alene, Idaho is a place idealized by many for its absence of certain “people of color,” I can’t help that many Progressives are looking at Scandinavia as a place known for its absence of certain “people of wrong ideas” who pays their taxes and lives under the umbrella of a benevolent governing body.

    In a way, one can see this as the successor to the ideal of France as the ideal state. Once France was idealized as the place where love was most free and the woman’s body was most idealized, but with the rise of Puritanism in post-cold war Europe and the utter success of the Right in the United States, the sensual can’t be the basis of idealization…so we get the ideal of the Nanny State in the image of Scandinavia. (And the fact that, outside of Mamlo and other isolated neighborhoods, Scandinavia is utterly white gets to be swept under the rug with this idealized view.)

  224. ” how cities are shackled by their rural counterparts in less-urban states.” the converse is also true, ask any far northern Californian, upstate New Yorker, or downstate Illinoisan, and you’ll get an earfull…

  225. …and another data point in the slow collapse of Scientism:
    (1 in 4 statisticians admit that they were asked to commit scientific fraud. Put that way because those folks were the one who either were willing to say no or had said yes and were ready to clear their conscience. I wonder how many were asked, committed it, and are still silent.)

  226. Terry Brennan,

    “Trump says hateful things,”

    Does he? Like what?

    By the way, our country can set limits on immigration or even change its citizenship policies if circumstances change without it meaning that our society is based on race, religion or ethnicity. I believe there were reasons that made sense at the time for the policy of birthright citizenship and good reasons why most countries don’t have that.

  227. “Life is full of Friends’ Unfortunate SO Choices and Relatives Who Are Why God Made Gin, and Jesus may have told me to love my neighbor, but up here we’re just thankful when said neighbor isn’t actively hiding bodies in the septic system.”

    Isabelcooper, I had a hearty laugh when I read the “Friends and Relatives” clause, and practically doubled over at the end of the sentence. Thank you very much.

    Some time recently, there was a longish comment on the other blog about Aleister Crowley’s teachings that I thought showed some fundamental misunderstandings. Not that AC is particularly easy to understand; he wrote voluminously, and a good deal of what he wrote was sheer provocation. I didn’t feel like taking the time to argue about it then, but your remark reminded me about it. What you wrote about the standard of neighborliness in your neck of the woods, and Hank Williams’ lyric “Mind your own business/and you won’t be minding mine,” are equivalent to my understanding of The Law of Thelema.

    I joined the OTO during the 1980s. I went through all the Man of Earth degrees and received initiation as far as the Fifth Degree, which Crowley called “the natural stopping point for most men and women.” I never had any attraction to Crowleyanity, but the initiations affected me in a decisive, lasting way. Now I consciously sort everyone I come into contact into two groups: people who understand the line between their own business and other people’s, and people who don’t. People in the second group are not my friends (though they may be companions or allies of convenience), no matter what else we have in common. Some people in the first group could be friends even if their habits and views are very different from mine.

  228. @ JMG – Lets see how my ‘bold prediction’ turned out (quoted from here two weeks ago):

    Bold prediction time – The election will produce a mixed bag. The House of Reps will flip to team Blue. Team Red will keep control of the senate, though I think it will be close, maybe even a 50-50 split with upset wins on both sides. I think progressive or left wing Blue candidates will see the most success overall, and the power struggle for control of team Blue will ratchet up a notch.

  229. Mister N., no, it’s something he’s said repeatedly in the past year, as the bills in question have been moving through the process. Mitch McConnell is backing one set of bills that would legalize the growing of industrial hemp — his home state used to be a major producer of hemp — and thefiring of Sessions as AG has removed the most passionate opponent of legalization in the administration. I expect to see those passed before January.

    Athena, somehow this doesn’t surprise me a bit…

    Matthias, ah, but some American hippies do!

    Godozo, that makes quite a bit of sense. Thank you for the article on fraud — that’s really damning, and since it appeared in Annals of Internal Medicine, not exactly a lightweight periodical in the medical field, it’s not so easy to brush aside.

    Ben, not half bad. 😉

  230. @ David BTL

    I’ve read many of your comments on Federalism and readily agree with almost everything. In a much earlier comment (I’ve been running from fires and without internet) you refer to “semi-sovereign” states. That phrasing goes to the heart of the Senate and EC debate I think. Most people no longer recognize this as a nation of sovereign (not semi) States. The States are sovereign and have general jurisdiction to put it in legal terms, while it is the Federal government that has limited powers specifically delegated to it by the sovereign States. That is our history and is reflected in the Constitution. The United States doesn’t exist as we know it if these compromises were not made to enact the Constitution.

    The Civil War and Great Depression greatly eroded this recognition by expanding Federal power. Few people understand that virtually all Federal regulation is based on power delegated to it under the interstate commerce clause in the Constitution. Everything, virtually, is deemed interstate commerce today. Unfortunately, this broad interpretation has caused many people to forget it is the states that are sovereign and not merely administrative districts.

    We can certainly change the structure of our government now and declare the states subordinate to the Federal government in all areas (not only the specific delegated powers), but I think that will have immense unintended consequences. I think the differences between parts of the country in outlook and culture may lead to the breakdown of the Union. When large segments of the country see the Senate and EC as useless, they no longer recognize the States as sovereign entities that have yielded limited powers to the Federal government. Given the vastness and differences in attitude between parts of our country, I fear the end of the Union is only a matter of time if we further erode state sovereignty. Perhaps it’s already too late.

  231. @ Rita Rippetoe

    You’re exactly right about the perverse effects of the California primary system. It is a great demonstration of the law of unintended consequences. The “jungle” primary was intended to force candidates to the center, instead it pushes them further to the left (admittedly in other places it would push to the right). That’s how you end up with a Senator, in office for 26 years and former mayor of San Francisco, failing to get endorsed by the California Democratic Party because she’s not “progressive” enough. One of her sins was to not be passionate enough in her vote on an immigration issue, though she voted in line with the state party. Given the lack of options, I voted for Feinstein for the first time in her six senate runs this year, but the “jungle” primary in California is a complete fail. It also grossly distorts the popularity of democrats on a national scale. (If you want to tout the popular vote for Democrats, remember California has devised a way to keep Republicans off the ballot.)

    I will add that California Republicans have only themselves to blame for this state of affairs. Their insistence on ideological purity at the expense of winning elections throughout the 1990s and 2000s have rendered them a non-factor in state politics.

  232. Godozo,

    “the fact that, outside of Mamlo and other isolated neighborhoods, Scandinavia is utterly white gets to be swept under the rug with this idealized view.)”

    This is not remotely true.

    “As of 2017, Statistics Sweden reported that around 2,439,007 or 24.1% of the inhabitants of Sweden were from a foreign background: that is, each such person either had been born abroad or had been born in Sweden to two parents who themselves had both been born abroad.[24] Also taking into account people with only one parent born abroad, this number increases to almost a third in 2017”

    That of course includes only first generation descendants of non-Swedes. In reality there are second and third generations of immigrant descendants who have no ethnic Swedish ancestry. And illegal residents generally don’t complete census forms.

    Some of that population is of course white non-Swedes. Going by this…

    “According to Eurostat, in 2010, there were 1.33 million foreign-born residents in Sweden, corresponding to 14.3% of the total population. Of these, 859,000 (64.3%) were born outside the EU and 477,000 (35.7%) were born in another EU Member State”

    …the breakdown might also be that two thirds of the foreign background population is non-white. So taking 24% of the population as being of foreign background (an underestimate in reality) maybe 16% of the total population is not white.

  233. JMG, et alia–

    Re the Constitution as 1.0 software

    A very good point. I wonder if my dad (who generally votes R) didn’t have another potential fix. When I was younger, he and I would discuss history and politics endlessly (much to my mother’s chagrin) and one of the things he argued was that the Constitution ought to have *required* a convention of the states every two generations (so, every four censuses), even if no proposals were offered out if it, so that the opportunity was there regularly without the Congressional hurdle. One wonders how different our history might have played out had that been the case.

  234. John—

    Perhaps more appropriate under “clueless” than “dying” intelligentsia, but stumbled across this gem of analytical thought:

    Quick summary — the article seems to conclude that white women are either simply protecting their own white privilege (thus to be denounced and shamed) and/or are oppressed victims of male dominance (thus to be saved). Either way, they must be converted to the Truth! The Sisterhood requires it. (That last bit is only mild exaggeration: “unsisterly” was one of the characterizations used to describe these voters’ behavior.)

    The idea that some women hold values that don’t fit the progressive mold doesn’t seem to enter as a possibility.

    Can’t we all just get along? A bit o’ mutual respect can go a long way.

  235. It’s 11:11 on 11/11/2018

    2018 added up also equals 11, as someone upthread pointed out. And here’s the even more insane bit: I was a very large baby when I was born at the end of July back in 1973, weighing in at…

    You guessed it, 11 lbs 11 oz…

    Isn’t that crazy??

    Hooray for 11s!!!

    PS, even odder still, I just noticed my cell phone battery is at 11% as I get ready to submit this! Whaa??

  236. David, I can see advantages and disadvantages with that — what kind of constitution would have come out of a convention called in 1880, for example, during the height of the “robber baron” era, is rather troubling!

    As for the article about women, I really need to do a post one of these days about political synecdoche — the way that very broad categories of people are represented in current discourse by one-dimensional categories who are all supposed to vote the same way. “Women” is a great example — when Democrats say “women,” by and large they mean “liberal upper middle class white women who vote the way we want,” but they act, and appear to think, as though that very narrow slice through the vast and diverse assemblage of female Americans is somehow equal to the whole. It’s a good way to lose elections, among other things…

  237. @Tripp and others… one important thing to keep in mind while ridiculing California is that those of us who grew up here had to hear a steady dose of how great things were “back East.” Point being that most of the parents here while I was growing up were recent transplants from other parts of the country looking for some better weather. So saying that the problem with California is Californians indicts midwesterners and east coasters as well since that makes up a huge chunk of the population…especially in SF, LA, San Diego, and Sacramento. Just something to keep in mind. As Californians flee this state for greener pastures, bear in mind that the population here exploded because of people coming from other states and countries, and now that the place is overcrowded and polluted, and the costs have sky rocketed, people that grew up here are headed to other states for better economic weather.
    Yes there are super annoying Californians who try to push their agendas onto others, but it’s by no means uniquely Californian. In fact, I find for the most part that the people who grew up here have a laid back vibe, are friendly, and revere the sacredness of the landscape. It’s been really hard to watch that landscape get overrun, the campgrounds and hiking destinations full of traffic and disrespected, the ability to travel to them snarled by traffic. At any rate, let’s pull back on the sweeping generalizations, and keep an open mind when the new neighbor moves in next door.

  238. JMG — re progressives of various stripes and ‘women”. On many issues you can see the habit of regarding any woman who doesn’t agree with the official position as either hopelessly brainwashed by society (men) or actively oppressed by society (yeah, still men). Abortion, for example. I am personally pro-choice, but to fail to recognize that there are women whose opposition to abortion is a conscientious one is insulting. I am also in favor of decriminalizing sex work but encounter many feminist women who are positive that every sex worker is a victim of trafficking, drugs, prior abuse, etc. They are simply incapable of believing any women in sex industries who say they are not victims. Women who chose to be homemakers get a similar load of pity and condescension. Feminists have long had the habit of looking at the individual tasks of housework as mere drudgery, the more creative forms (such as interior decoration) as frivolous, and ignoring the amount of intelligence necessary for efficient management. This contempt does not go unnoticed by its targets.

    Now the latest thing is to bemoan the fact that some white women vote in favor of white privilege. Oh the horror–don’t they know that woman are supposed to be high minded and self sacrificing?

  239. @ Ryan S

    Re federalism and sovereignty

    Actually, I believe are more or less in agreement. I used “semi-sovereign” rather than “sovereign” to reflect the fact that certain specific, limited powers were indeed ceded to the federal government. Yes, states are sovereign within their spheres. They are not sovereign in the absolute sense of nation-states. (They cannot, for example, sign treaties with other countries.)

    So I think we’re are saying the same things using slightly different terms.

    @ John R

    It would make the House more lively, without doubt. (Of course, then folks might actually watch C-Span…). The difference, though, is that for us, that would only be one-half of one branch of government, rather than the main governing body. We have a separately-elected executive and a whole ‘another half of legislature (the deliberative, sedate house *cough*). Personally, I’d like to see the Senate revert back to the pre-17th amendment days, when it functioned more as a house of ambassadors from the several states, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

    I prefer the coalitions and the negotiations of those coalitions to occur in the open, rather than within parties and managed by national party organizations behind closed doors of party caucuses. Messy? Very much so. But more effective representation of the people, I’d argue. Breaking the stranglehold of the two-party system would be a promising step.

  240. @ John R

    Re the 17th amendment

    Just to head off any potential confusion, I’m arguing for the power of the states to decide for themselves how their senators/ambassadors are selected. If a state legislature decided that a state-wide referendum was the preferred method, it would be free to utilize that mechanism. But there is a difference between allowing a state to elect its senators on the one hand and requiring them to do so on the other.

    @ JMG

    Re a robbber-baron era convention

    Quite! On the other hand, I see the three-fourths ratification requirement as a solid bulwark against the more egregious notions. Much might have been proposed, but I don’t know that much would have come to fruition. (Of course, there’s always the possibility of the “live football laying on the field that everyone forgot about” situation like what happened with the most recent amendment…)

  241. “intellectual framework and the values are resolutely European”

    I would agree with this but do not think it is the same as your previous comment about a

    “studied show of contempt for their own cultural and ethnic background.”

    The United States was born out of European colonization and it takes time for them to separate. I also think it is an irony that many on the right now want to emphasize the European connection and roots even more, though not the contemporary European version, but an earlier one.

    @david – I don’t think the EC was designed to empower small states or embody federalism so much as to empower elites. The Founders were worried about what we now call populists and wanted a filter. They expected the members of the EC to operate independently and filter the vote and reject candidates they did not like. Trump is just the type of candidate the EC was designed to reject (and probably Bernie Sanders too).

    In most states, the electors are chosen by the state party of each of the party candidates. I’ve participated in this process. Usually the state party gets notarized affidavits from them. To some degree, party officials like the state party chair, are chosen. But such electors are also assumed to be loyal to the party nominee, and the independence the Founders hoped for in the EC is long gone, some places by state law. Furthermore, the EC is now winner take all in all but two states and that was not the case in our early elections, when the proportional formula now used in Maine and Nebraska was more common. The switch to winner-take-all was an obvious way for states to increase their impact and pretty much was completed a few decades after the Founding.

    One thing I haven’t brought up regarding the EC is how it brings the swing state system on us, where most states that are “safe” for one candidate or the other are mostly ignored and virtually all campaigning happens in maybe 10 states. This doesn’t just affect campaigns, pork barrel funding for swing state projects has been shown.

    You say you might support a modification, I would be curious what that might be.

  242. David btl,

    To your grandfather’s proposal: Here in New York State, we already have something like that. The state constitution requires that every 20 years, there be a ballot question asking voters whether or not we would like to call a constitutional convention to amend the state constitution.

    The last time we had to vote on this question (last year, if memory serves), it was overwhelmingly defeated, as it normally is. Since everyone knew the status quo, but was afraid of what a convention might do, you had interest groups on all sides of nearly every issue campaigning for “no.” This made for some interesting alliances: how often have you seen Planned Parenthood and the Right to Life groups actively campaigning for the same thing?

  243. @David, by the lake, IIRC correctly, Jefferson actually proposed something like that. I believe his idea was that amendments were to be re-examines every twenty years to see if they were still relevant or needed to be altered.

  244. @ JMG

    Re monolithic “women”

    It is a standard rhetorical trick, is it not? To define the terms in ways that advantage you. When I was on PW, any duscussion of globalism was dismissed as Nazi-related, since the Nazis spoke against the supposed Jewish global cabal of the Protocols. So any concern with actual global was tainted. Yet another reason I stopped commenting…

    @ All

    Re rice and beans

    I can’t speak to the above, but I’m chopping up very-ripe crock-fermented cabbage and kale for a soup right now. And man, is that an experience!!

  245. @Quos Ego – “I’ve met plenty of “SJW” myself, and even though they are bull-headed, full of contradictions, and often infuriating, they do mean well.”

    This will be my last reply to this, because I really dislike when people read motives into people’s opinions written on the internet. Which brings me to my final comment to you, which is when you personally experience someone try to literally destroy your career, take away your livelihood, and lie about you and slander your name because of their political and social beliefs about you and your “race”, then get back to me. When you are the personal target of someone who doesn’t “mean well” AT ALL and tries to destroy you emotionally, maybe you will have a different perspective. You have absolutely no idea how bad things have gotten here.

    For a taste of what I deal with regularly if I dare express an unapproved opinion, not as a “Trump voter” but as a non-voter because I personally found Hillary’s actual policies as bad as if not worse than Trump’s (and I actually have a historical memory of living in CA from 1970, and I remember Reagan, and I remember the drug wars, and I saw what Reagan and Bush and Clinton and Bush and Obama’s policies actually did to people as a poor and often homeless young person, having a dad in prison and on the streets…), take a look at the “well meaning” comments on this thread..

    Since, as you say, you have never been here, then you simply have no idea how bad it has gotten, how ugly things are, and how much literal suffering exists here, courtesy of all those “well meaning” people.
    I have yet to have a conversation with a SJW that can intelligently speak about climate change, agriculture, or has any real clue of the destruction their lifestyles have on the planet and the poor they claim to care so much about. It’s all the fault of “those” people.

    @David, by the lake – please see the twitter thread above.

    @Rita Rippetoe – are you aware of the State of Jefferson Movement?

  246. Re proportional representation – I am a big fan of it too. People do need to realize two things about it. First it has nothing to do with parliamentary systems. It can exist without or without that. Second, it is a principle, that in a partisan legislature representation is proportional to voting. There are many different systems for implementing it, and many different parameters within those systems. You have to look at all the countries using it (80% of all democracies last I looked), not at one country (I don’t even think Italy uses PR any more). is a good place to start reading if you aren’t familiar.

    Re the constitution, despite all my comments about the electoral college, I think the weakest point is that it did not include checks and balances against political parties.

    Re gerrymandering, while PR would be the best solution, it would be a huge change. The movement for nonpartisan redistricting commissions, while not as good, is something that is already happening and if it gained momentum might have a real potential for an amendment requiring all states to have them. I would add that it is one reform that appears to be nonpartisan. Both Dem and Rep-leaning states have implemented them. As long as the details are left up to the states, I could see it actually getting ratified.

  247. G’day John Michael,

    Trolls are a queer business, and I’ve come to wonder if they reflect a society that has been raised on a diet of consumption, rather than a person’s worth being measured by what they produce? Dunno, but those zombies, sorry I meant to type the word ‘trolls’, don’t produce anything at all – and they’d probably be the first to fail if they did try. It was never lost on me that George Romero’s zombie films were mostly set in shopping malls. And John Carpenter’s version of ‘Dawn of the Dead’ was a truly frightening remake, but also set in a shopping mall. Oh by the way, shopping malls are where you go to perform the act of ‘consuming’!

    I can’t really speak for either the Russian or US experience, but the old land down here (Australia) can be bountiful, but if you mistreat the land – not good. Incidentally, I mentioned to you a few weeks back that the possibility of grain imports was mooted in the media, well things have since progressed (!): Grain imports on the cards as drought drives up prices and crop forecasts slashed. Of course this will also have the flow on effect of keeping grain prices low for producers and consumers alike – not that many have considered the profitability of the producers. Mind you, I feel that such an act is in accordance with the number one goal of macro economic policy which is keeping prices for staples low for consumers – not that many people would consider why that me be the case. I’d be pretty sure the Roman’s tried the same thing with their bread and circuses.

    And you may not have seen this about Cape Town and its water woes: Drought put Cape Town on a countdown to Day Zero. Australia must look at what happened next. The very final comment in the article appeared to be a fairly accurate summation of the situation, although the irony was probably unintended.



  248. Here is an article describing how increasing the size of the House might work.

    I think around 650 Reps would not be too many, if only because lobbyists would have to spend a lot more money and time. The idea would vastly expand govt. job opportunities, making this a win for the govt. apparatchik class.

    An aspect of the election just past which I think merits mention is that the Democrats, for once, managed to beat the Republicans at their own game. The latter party has long been the past master of manipulating and appealing to cultural archetypes..until now. The last two years, the party of family values has presented to the nation as an ideal of American womanhood….Barbie doll. We have Diplomat Barbie at the UN, Presidential Advisor Barbie at the WH and so on. Even before the election I was wondering if perhaps the Republicans had forgotten that women who don’t necessarily look like modeling school dropouts still are able to vote. Against Barbie obsession, the Democrats ran…Nancy Drew.

    A poster here whose name I regret to have forgotten mentioned the “young woman warrior” or some such theme with respect to newly elected Representative Ocasio-Cortez, and he, or she, may have been even more prescient than either of us realized. Some 90 or so bright, energetic, capable mostly young women are going to the House and more are going into state legislatures and other down ballot races, and the Republicans haven’t a ghost of an idea how to run against them. Oppo research turns up a few traffic tickets; they can’t be tricked or provoked into petulance or temper; and they mostly seem to behave well when they think they are off camera. You think debating Ted Cruz is tough, try dealing with a sneering asst. principal who thinks he or she is far too important to bother with educating your child.

  249. Onething,

    You really want me to give example of Trump saying hateful things? OK. Here goes.
    1. About Mexican immigrants. “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
    2. Haiti and African countries are “shithole” countries.
    3. About women: “You grab ’em by the p___y.”

    These are just the famous ones.

  250. RE: “diversity’s” lack of diversity: ever notice how there’s a sameness to all urban hipster neighborhoods, regardless of whether they’re in Calif, Ohio, KY, Tenn., Ontario, etc.? Same ole, same ole.

  251. @Dusk Shine,
    it’s so interesting that I repeatedly have to tell Canadians that there are NO active tribes or reserves/reservations in KY and many other states east of the Mississippi, therefore, none, other than incidental, Native Americans in KY and many other Eastern states, who make up a tiny fraction of a percent of the population of KY. There really is nothing Native in KY (and a lot of other Eastern states) other than artifacts, a point I have to repeatedly make to Canadians. What was funny was that I was in Canada w/a Nigerian native who now calls South Carolina home, and SHE was getting exasperated, too, by the constant questions about natives–she, like me, had to keep repeating that there are no extant reserves or tribes, to her knowledge, in South Carolina. The African American experience looms MUCH larger in the US than the native.

  252. @Dusk Shine,
    white elites do tend to ruin things, don’t they? I mean, I really have no problem w/most native folk I encounter, and have a reverence for the traditions of the only people who have ever lived sustainably on this land over an extended period of time. They seem as modest as any other salt of the earth people

  253. From my view as a NYC intelligentsia, the main reason the intelligencia have to idolize Scandinavia is not anything particular about their viking culture, but rather the fact that to forestall allout communist revolution the elites of Scandinavia (and many other post WW2 Western nations) ceded huge amounts of power to labor unions until the 1980s. Especially in Scandinavia, unions made up the vast majority of working people (both white collar and blue collar). Unlike “bourgeois democracy” where elites have their hand heavily on the scale, internal democracy within unions was ostensibly more representative of the interests of the citizens. With interests properly aligned, the EU states with the biggest unions passed more and more legislation to benefit the average citizen. In addition, the unions heavily catered to the women’s movement. With the decline and fall of the USSR, elites no longer feared unions and they rapidly began to lose power, especially as the younger generation take all the gains for granted, and see the only real causes to fight for as pro-ecology/veganism or anti-immigrant.

    I cannot imagine that the super-elites themselves want US to become nordic-style democracies at all. While professors, engineers, and artists heavily backed “nordic socialist” Sanders, bankers, investors, and business owners seemed to prefer business as usual Clinton. It was business owners who seemed to be most supportive of Trump. Kind of reads similar to what happened in the Iranian Revolution – it was the small-business owners who allied with the church to throw out the modernizing Shah.

  254. @Tude,
    well, people in Dixie have ALWAYS found people in the rest of the country to be hypocritical on race. “Remove the stake in your eye before you complain about the speck in ours…”

  255. @Shane W

    There are plenty of Narragansetts (a tribe of Native Americans) here in RI, and they even have kept a tribal patch of land from the Colonial era up to now. It’s not precisely a “reservation,” in the legal sense of the term. They’ve lost their aboriginal language (an Algonquian language), and have had English for their native speech for many generations now, but there are small efforts being made to restore Narragansett as a language for actual use.

  256. @JMG

    Which is of course true, but which doesn’t disprove my point in any way either!
    Ah, well, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. 🙂


    Good Lord, Tude, that’s a Twitter feed. Should I post a link to one by Trump supporters lambasting liberals to show you they are all a hateful bunch (which, just to be clear, I don’t believe at all)? Fact is, the political environment is badly polarized, and it makes people dumb and clanish.
    As to your comment about SJWs being uninformed and blind to the harm they do, indeed, but I could apply the same reasoning to any community of modern homo sapiens. We are anyway so busy competing with each other that we have of course no time to pause to take a hard look at our actions.

  257. @Tripp,
    well, I would love to see your place in Ellijay someday, and always regretted that I was not prompt in responding to your offer a few years ago, and it went down the hole of “might have beens”

  258. @Mike T,
    coming from KY, which changes more slowly, one of the things that most mystified me about California was what I call the “phoenix effect”–how often the state totally and thoroughly changes in such a way that it is rendered unrecognizable from just a few years ago. The growth, the demographics, it all changes so rapidly. I was always mystified by “old California” and “California royalty”, the history of the state before the postwar boom and those who traced their roots back to that time. It really did seem enchanting, and there is something magnetic and enchanting about a lot of the old folks I’ve met who were raised in this California.

  259. @Mike T,
    that being said, Calif. does have a bad habit of shooting itself in the foot w/the unintended consequences of its poorly thought out quixotic ideas.

  260. @David,
    well, you could still do proportional representation for the Senate, as well, though I don’t know if that would have the effect of insuring that most states would have one GOP and one Dem Senator. You’d also have to sync it up so that each state was voting on both of their Senators on the same election.

  261. JMG,
    The 11s post was fun! And totally true (big baby!). Thanks for letting it through…I know it was OT and basically meaningless.

    Mike T,
    That California comment was just a joke. Although, in my experience, the most entitled people in this country live in California and Florida. But naturally that doesn’t apply to everyone in those states…cheers.

  262. Oh, and John Michael, I am fairly familiar with pigeon peas having worked briefly with an Indian professor at UGA-Tifton campus in south Georgia who was developing a locally-adapted variety of said legume. I still have a small bag of his 2010 crop in my seed box I think.

    Oddly though, I’ve never grown or tasted them…

    Anyway, I’m up for whatever sort of pulse you wish to mix with my rice when I visit! I love beans and rice. A complete meal in two inexpensive and easily stored ingredients, that is.

  263. This is from May 2017, but I just came across it today and thought it might be of interest to some people here:
    One quote I found particularly… amusing:
    “Turboprops were old, and suitable only for people too poor to afford jets.”
    An insistence on novelty and high cost over actual usefulness [i]would[/i] rather explain some things; after all, by that metric, the Lardbucket is perhaps the greatest success in the history of military aviation!
    (And speaking of:

  264. @ Tude

    Re the twitter feed

    All I can say is, wow…

    @ Dean

    Re the EC

    I’d suggest an amendment that would impose a universal system for allocating EVs on all states: the two “Senate” EVs go the the candidate with the most statewide votes (possibly only a plurality), while the “House” EVs are allocated proportionally in a manner similar to that which I’d use for allocating House seats in a proportional system. This would make every state important, as well as make it more likely that minority party candidates could win EVs (and make it to a second round of voting in the House and Senate, per the Constitutional back-up system).

  265. @ Tude

    Re that Twitter feed

    And I thought I’d seen vitriol on PoliticalWire. As I sit with that, I have to say that I’m with our host on this one — I don’t see how that sort of thing results in gaining votes…

    @ Dean, John R, Ryan S, Quos Ego (and any others I forgot, my apologies)–

    Re the Constitution, federalism, the EC, and all that jazz

    We’re getting later in the comment cycle here, but just for kicks, here is a subset of the formal language I’d introduce were I ever a delegate to a constitutional convention:

    Proposed Amendment #2 (Congressional Consecutive Term Limits)

    No person who is or has been a member of the current Congress shall be eligible for election or appointment as a member of Congress if that person has been a member of the previous four Congresses.

    Proposed Amendment #3 (State Selection of Senators)

    Article 1. The seventeenth amendment to the Constitution is hereby repealed.
    Article 2. Each State shall establish the method by which the Senators from that State are appointed or elected to their offices.

    Proposed Amendment #4 (Proportional Election of Representatives)

    Article 1. Seats of a State’s delegation to the House of Representatives shall be allocated proportionally among the political parties registering in that State for the election, according to the proportion of the total vote within that State for that party.
    Article 2. Each political party shall be awarded a number of seats equal to the whole number of its proportion of the total vote. Any remaining seats shall be awarded singly, beginning with the party with the highest proportion of the total vote and proceeding to the next-highest, until all remaining seats have been awarded.
    Article 3. Each political party shall publicly register a slate of candidates with the State, with the awarded seats being allocated according to the ranking of the candidates within that slate.

    Proposed Amendment #5 (Electoral Votes)

    Article 1. With respect to electors for President and Vice-President, each State shall award two electors to the candidate with the highest number of votes within that State. Remaining electors shall be allocated to each candidate in proportion to the total vote for that candidate within that State.
    Article 2. Proportional allocation of electors shall be accomplished by awarding to each candidate a number of electors equal to the whole number of that candidate’s proportion of the total vote within that State. Any remaining electors shall be awarded singly, beginning with the candidate with the highest number of votes within that State and proceeding to the next-highest, until all remaining electors have been awarded.
    Article 3. For purposes of this amendment, the District of Columbia shall be treated as though it were a State.

    I’ve got eight proposals so far 😉

    Fascinating discussion this week, even if we’ve strayed from the topic slightly. My thanks to everyone

  266. What is weird is that I’ve been talking midterm election w/an expat that’s involved in Democrats Abroad and was phone banking for them. She’s a conscientious parent who home schools her kids and does not allow them home access to the internet (they have to go to the library), which I support. However, she’s always asking if I’ve seen some video of some speech or something, or if I’ve seen some news or pundit show, to which I always smile and say “no”. Sigh, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander–re: filling your head w/pop culture soundbites and stuff off the internet.

  267. @Dewey,
    the SJW approach to race and other “approved -isms” is hopelessly gridlocked in America, and destined to get about as far as our constant harangue over abortion. Most people are simply tired of the never ending argument. Why continue the failed SJW approach when a class-based approach would work much better and actually accomplish something for a lot of people of color? If your tactics are ineffective, perhaps you should change your approach? Besides, the SJW caricature of the Trump supporter bears little resemblance to the actual attitudes of working class people on the factory floor in most of red America.

  268. @ Shane

    Re proportional representation in the Senate

    I’d not, actually. The House and the Senate serve entirely different functions, the former being the “house of the people” and the latter being the “house of the states.” I’d rather move in the other direction, as illustrated in my comment just above, and return the Senate to more of a “house of ambassadors” dispatched from the several states. Now, if a state wishes to elect its ambassadors, well then, that would certainly be a choice that state could make…

  269. @Robert,
    yes, I know there are a few reserves east of the Mississippi, the Mohawks of upstate NY, the Cherokee along the NC/Tenn line, maybe Choctaw in Miss. or Ala., not sure, but there are a LOT of Eastern states like KY, Ohio, Ind, etc. that have NO reserves, compared to the fact that they seem to be everywhere north of the border.

  270. I should remind people that a LOT of working class Californians are leaving b/c they have no choice. They can’t find work or afford housing there, so MUST leave.

  271. Re State of Jefferson–yes, my local alternative newspaper, the Sacramento News and Review just had a feature piece on the movement. Advocates are quite active at local fairs and similar events. As with most city/country splits there is a feeling that the capital ignores the needs and interests of the country dwellers vs. statistics that show country districts actually receive more in services than they pay in taxes. As in most of the states west of the Mississippi this argument is complicated by the large amount of land owned by the federal government. Some of it is parkland, restricted from all but recreational use, much of it is national forest (which in the dryer areas don’t always contain trees) and some grazing, mining logging etc. is allowed with a complicated set of regulations and different agencies guaranteed to please neither those who want access to the grass, oil, summer cabins, or whatever nor those who want all public lands kept untouched. Federal regulations can also affect private land–a long standing quarrel between the rules protecting vernal pools (seasonal pools that are the habitat of several endangered species and are a unique ecological niche) and the farmers and ranchers whose lands contain such pools has lapsed into violence on occasion. Add to this the state owned lands–parks, forests, etc. under a completely different set of protections and you have a lot of people dissatisfied. Oh, don’t forget Indians–we have Native American lands as well. Various advocates of splitting the state have different ideas about how many pieces and where the boundaries should be. The Proposition that was kept off the ballot looked at a three way spit with that would have given SF Bay and Sacramento to North, LA and the coast northward to Center and San Diego as main city of the South. The idea was to have roughly equal population and income. This wasn’t a grassroots effort but the idea of a Silicon Valley millionaire.

  272. Dear David by the Lake, as regards proportional allocation of EVs, why not have it that a candidate needs to carry a particular congressional district?

    Dear Tude, I read in your post above:

    personally experience someone try to literally destroy your career, take away your livelihood, and lie about you and slander your name because of their political and social beliefs about you and your “race”, then get back to me. When you are the personal target of someone who doesn’t mean well etc.

    I believe I can understand your outrage, but I would like to point out that most of the targets of the “Me too”ers seem to have been wealthy men who presumably had resources on which they could fall back. That is not the case for working class employed women who have literally been subjected to similar vitriol and harassment since like forever. I have seen hard working women loose their jobs because someone thought their greeting wasn’t “perky” enough, because someone else didn’t like their clothing choices, which I can assure you were well within the limits of the employer’s dress code, or another person thought they were not a “good sport”, meaning didn’t respond in kind to off color remarks. The usual euphemism is “didn’t have the personality for the job”, which in fact means someone got their nose out of joint. So, while I can understand what you are saying, I would really like to see men subjected to the same level of constant scrutiny as are women and then I might feel some sympathy.

  273. @David – By and large I like your amendments. While your EC amendment is not my preferred version, it would solve probably 80% of the existing problems. I would be totally opposed to have Senators chosen by state legislatures – are you familiar with the history of that? It’s the only time we got close to a constitutional convention, since the original. But I can’t imagine any state would do that today, so in practice I think that amendment would result in no change.

    @Shane: “Why continue the failed SJW approach when a class-based approach would work much better and actually accomplish something for a lot of people of color” – I’ve never met a person of color who thinks a class-based approach would work better. Not saying that there aren’t any, I’m sure there are. But my impression and my experience indicate the vast majority of people of color do not think so. You could start by asking the professor who was arrested for entering his own home when he lost his key. Prejudice against people of color is not limited to the poor, and the most deeply prejudiced people are often more threatened by wealthy people of color.

    And I think the accuracy (or lack thereof) of caricatures of Trump supporters probably matches that of Clinton supporters. You would think that they are almost all either Davos-attending globalists or coffee shop hipsters, when in fact I think the vast majority of them are struggling working people.

  274. Dear David by the Lake, I suggest that the 13th Amendment ought to be strengthened. As it stands, it outlaws the ownership of one person by another; I think a second clause should be added which specifically outlaws the buying and selling of human beings in any and all circumstances. Yes, that might affect adoptions and it would be a strong defense against the practice of dowries and arranged marriages in general. Some years ago, in the 90s I think, a teenaged girl ran away from an arranged marriage in Stockton, CA, because she wanted to finish high school. The law was on her side, but call in radio was filled with outrage from the girl’s ethnic community–the husband paid a lot of money for her (that was actually publicly said), we dumb Americans didn’t understand their culture, and so on. Law enforcement did not ignore this, there were indictments I believe, but I remember wondering why this wasn’t a federal case, in that it seemed to me a clear violation of the 13th Amendment.

  275. @ David BTL – As a mostly Team Blue voter, I think a proportional system for electing representatives to Congress would be best. In this last election, fully forty percent of votes were cast for Democrats running for congress, but because of the way districts were drawn by the state legislature, only one (ie 20%) of out five seat delegation to congress will come from Team Blue. In fact, the 20% representation-40% of votes split basically holds for the state legislature as well. I’m sure Team Red voters in Blue states feel equally under-represented.

  276. Terry Brennan,

    I guess I don’t really see your examples as hateful.
    1. I know that Trump has often said things but then clarified that of course many are good people. His point that many times Mexican immigrants are criminals is not exactly false. There are problems, gangs, etc. If we had normal border controls, we would be getting only legal applicants, and could screen out the criminals. That seems pretty sensible to me.

    2. I believe he said that behind closed doors. The term shale hole countries exists, people say it to describe places like Haiti. And he is saying, why do we have to have a lot of immigrants who are the most problematic people? I can tell you that when you come to the US legally, they do look you over. A complex society and one with social benefits can only absorb so much, so fast, without chaos.
    Actually, I guess this is a reason why people have liked Trump. He says something like, “Why does immigration to our country have to involve letting lots of people in who are likely to cause trouble, not assimilate to our way of life and require a lot of assistance when there are productive people who want to come here,” and this is the very question that they have asked themselves.

    3. I’m a little tired of this one. Tired because it twists what he said. What he said was in the context of him expressing surprise and amazement at how women changed once he became a famous TV personality – Why you could do anything to them and they didn’t mind. You could even grab them by the *** – It’s perfectly true and he isn’t the first guy to notice that. It was not an expression of his policy toward women.

  277. I find it interesting that the entity called Q or Qanon said almost a year ago that one of the goals of the cabal was to remove the electoral college as voter manipulation would be easier without it, and now suddenly a lot of people are talking about the electoral college and why it is a bad idea and we should get rid of it. Please understand that the way I see things, many or most people are given their ideas by the thought leaders they have chosen and those thought leaders know how to put things out so that their pawns will promote them.

  278. Kay Robinson,
    It’s late in the cycle so I don’t know if you’ll see this, but thank you for the considered response regarding Retrosuburbia, and permaculture more generally!

    That makes sense. Holmgren has shown a considerable focus on suburban retrofitting for some time now. Sort of a constructive response to say, Kunstler’s idea of a post-“happy motoring” suburban wasteland. He posted an extensive lecture series on the subject on YouTube I know.

    Permaculture principles scale very well at all property sizes, from vast acreages down to a toolbox of ideas for more conscientious urban apartment life. And adapt themselves quite well to arid suburban landscapes too, especially considering the point of origin! Australia is chock full of those. Check out Flowering Tree Permaculture Institute in New Mexico for a great local example.

    Despite the fact that I had to move on spiritually, I still find myself asking those permaculture questions all the time: is there a biological solution to this problem instead of a technological one? How can I redesign this action to accomplish more than one goal? Do we really need to do this at all?

    And of course my life has benefited greatly from that way of thinking. And then one John Michael Greer entered the picture…

    I consider myself very blessed to have the teachers I’ve had.

    Thanks for your insight!

  279. Had to share this with you so you could have a chuckle –

    “As of Thursday, in the 37 GOP districts where Democrats flipped a seat or were leading, 70 percent contain a Whole Foods Market, according to Dave Wasserman, the U.S. House editor at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.”

    Participating in NaNoWriMo this month and I’m 18,700 words in on my book! It’s non-fiction on the public school system, it effects on individuals and society, and how to break out of it. Its incredibly hard and very rewarding at the same time. And I’ve got to get back to it if I’m going to keep the pace!

  280. @JMG,
    Yeah. I

    @Shane W,

    In my experience it’s not just the Euro-descended elites at this point.

    In their “diverse” little bubble, everyone looks as different as possible and thinks as similarly as possible.* I really see this as a pure class issue, and not a racial one.

    And, again, with generous educational grants, special programming, ethnic scholarships and at least as much (if not more) affirmative action as in your country, the higher end of the intelligentsia and lower end of the elite are rather less ‘white’ than the general population outside of ethic enclaves in the few cities immigrants actually settle in.

    So white elites ruin everything? No, but I’d say faustian ones do.

    *(This is reinforced by the schizoid atmosphere I described before, I think. ‘Which doublethink are we expressing today?’ — keeping in mind, at least subconsciously, that with the overproduction it’d be easy enough to replace anybody found guilty of wrongthink. If you want to voice an honest opinion you only do it in private, with people you trust… and quietly, after looking over my shoulder. I probably spend too much time in the bubble because I’ve even caught myself shushing my deplorable wife in our own home! OTH, the walls might not have ears, but her phone sure does…)

  281. @Terry Brennan,

    The problem is you are stuck in the conceit that politics was moral and upstanding before Trump came along. Which of these are better than Trump?

    – Bush II lying to take us to war in Iraq, wasting money and needlessly taking soldiers’ lives.
    – Bush II’s horrible response to Katrina.
    – Bill Clinton taking sexual advantage of Lewinsky.
    – Hillary calling poor minority kids “super predators” (oh how the liberal apologists have twisted themselves in knots defending this comment).
    – Reagan calling out “welfare queens”
    – And on and on and on…

    But let’s talk immigration. Do you expect people who enter our country in violation of our laws to be upstanding people? When I was a kid I threw a ball into a neighbor’s (locked) backyard. I climbed the fence to get it and was rightly scolded, since the locked fence, if nothing else, should’ve prompted me to ASK first.
    I watched the video of the caravan violently forcing Mexico’s gate open.
    No we can’t take in everybody who wants to come. That’s an economic and practical fact.
    I mean all of this is common sense except to those who are looking for every possible way to bludgeon Trump.
    Do I love the guy and worship at his feet? No. But politics has always been a game of holding your nose.

  282. A bit OT for this particular post, but related to the loss of mimesis towards the elite that JMG has so often talked about. Nature just published an apparently well-designed and replicated study to prove that people only imitate those who personally do what they say.

    “A field study of a programme that promotes residential solar panel installation in 58 towns in the United States—comprising 1.4 million residents in total—found that community organizers who themselves installed through the programme recruited 62.8% more residents to install solar panels than community organizers who did not.”

    In Sociologuese: “Credibility-enhancing displays promote the provision of non-normative public goods”!

  283. @Shane W –
    Who said anything about Trumpism? While it is true that he and some of his fans are racist, I only spoke of racism in past centuries as evidence that European colonists would not have considered adopting the cultures of enslaved Africans or surviving Native Americans in their vicinity. If you would prefer that we not talk about racism or race today, does that mean that those concepts didn’t influence America’s past, or that we should pretend they didn’t? There are huge swathes of our history that can’t even be truthfully described, much less understood, without reference to race.

    By the way, namecalling by way of chanting “SJW, SJW” whenever you believe that someone disagrees with you is an ad hominem argument, the last refuge of someone who has no better argument. That doesn’t mean that the person you are namecalling is right, of course, just that you can’t explain why they are wrong.

  284. Great post as usual. I hope in a future essay you will tackle one of the main barriers to most environmental legislation: that the environmentalist position is now identified with the intelligentsia and therefore is resented by the very people who are going to be hit hardest by environmental degradation.

  285. JMG: I am surprised that you used that rather weak Forbes article as evidence that Trump’s trade policies have helped blue collar workers. (The vertical scale in the graph therein is rather misleading, for one thing.) Wikipedia would have done better. For another perspective on the effect (or lack thereof) of the tariffs on blue collar jobs, see this:

    In any case, policies affect jobs only slowly. Whatever happened in the last 2 years can be mostly attributed to the momentum of the system as put into motion in the 8 years of Obama and the post-great-recession policies. The effects of the Trump policies will mostly show up in the future.

  286. I am cheered by the election of Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) to the House… and a little bit anxious. He was first mocked on Saturday Night Live for his beard and eye-patch, which of course led to stories about how this ex-Navy Seal lost one eye in combat (“war hero”). And he was practically drafted into running for office (“reluctant politician”) when he was just looking for some way to help “back-stage”. Then he’s back on SNL, proclaiming forgiveness, humility, moderation, and problem-solving leadership (“pragmatic”).

    We could take this all at face value, and just hope that he doesn’t get ruined by Washington. Or, we could speculate as to how these events could have been scripted to create publicity for someone’s hidden agenda. We could hope that he doesn’t do so well as to become the authoritarian leader of prophecy, but… should we?

  287. @Denys,
    yes the recurring theme seems to be that Dems flipped wealthy suburban districts, reinforcing that they are the party of the wealthy. Wow, now it will be known as the “Whole Paycheck Election”! Yet, at the same time, the most successful Dems were the unapologetically progressive, leftist ones, even in places like Tex, Ga., & Fla, while the conventional ones were booted. Says something about the desire for change.

  288. @Dewey,
    you still haven’t addressed the point that discussions of race are so gridlocked and poisoned that I don’t know what you actually hope to accomplish by continuing to have these well choreographed discussions about race. Did you even read JMG’s post a few years back about how racism has pretty much lost its meaning b/c all of the up and coming powers are, ahem, nonwhite, and that the Western white powers are rapidly losing clout. Besides, the whole paradigm is about wealth redistribution and costs–there is a dollar figure associated w/all these programs designed to address racism, and that is something this rapidly impoverishing nation can no longer afford. It’s one thing to redistribute the wealth during a growing economy of plenty, but another thing altogether during a time of rapid decline. Does the phrase “blood from a turnip” ring any bells? That’s why poor whites get so surly every time the topic of race comes up. It’s just another excuse to raid their already meager pocketbooks.

  289. @Dean,
    “first world problems” I mean, if you’re privileged enough to be a professor who owns his own home, and probably has all kinds of other perks, do you really expect the poor of any race to care? Reminds me of this woman of color on NPR complaining about racism in airports and comparing racism in various nations, totally oblivious to the fact that many poor people could never afford to set foot on an airplane or travel abroad.

  290. @Dewey,
    culture rubs off even when you don’t consciously mean for it to, or actively oppose it. It just happens. I take it you don’t live in the South. If you did, you’d realize just how culturally “miscegenated” the South actually is. 400 years of black and white living in close proximity and in constant contact and interaction means that Southern culture is as mixed as it gets. Most of what sets the South apart in so many ways can be attributed to the strong African influence. JMG has mentioned it here before: what you contemplate, you imitate, so white Southerners are as culturally African as you’re gonna get in North America.

  291. @Nastarana – I’m confused by your comment, do you think I am a man? If so, you are incorrect.

    It really interesting how different people’s perspectives are of things depending on where they are located. FWIW, I posted that twitter thread not because I am even on twitter (I’m not, I found that thread via an article) I posted it because here in the Bay Area, conversations like that are a regular occurrence in real life.

  292. @Tude I 100% back you up for fwiw. On Saturday the Proud Boys are holding a rally about American in front of Independence Hall. SJW’s have been posting about it for weeks on Twitter, thanks to the heads up given by the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper, promising to stop them because “we don’t want that here”. The phrase is used all the time by SJW’s and the last time I heard it used so much was in the Jim Crow South when “we don’t serve your kind”.

    The justice warriors also posted a photo of guy who said he was going to the march and someone zoomed in and saw a Comcast logo so they were @Comcast demanding he be fired, because “those kind of people can’t work there”.

    That twitter thread you posted is tame, although the sentiment that woman shares is common. The Ford Foundation funds several SJW groups who’s purpose is to support a new racial majority in America. You can find info on their website.

  293. I’ve looked around me in real life and the people who constantly criticize Trump and call him a racist, fascist, criminal, idiot, orange man, etc – are the most miserable failures in their personal lives. They are out of shape, their faces are contorted in either fake smiles or scowls, and there is tension in their whole appearance.

    In conversation they manipulate to make it all about them, showing they are incredibly demanding and needy. They make verbal jabs and put downs with snarky tones. Their personal relationships are in tatters.

    It’s really sad.

    If you hate this man so much, seek counseling. It’s destroying your life.

    By the time he is out of office you’ll be ruined emotionally, mentally and physically. And you know what? Trump will still be Trump and being Trump. You are the one suffering as well as everyone else around you.

  294. I’ve said it before, but as JMG mentioned in his post a few years ago on the decline of racism, in this era of decline, equality won’t come by raising disadvantaged groups UP, but by downward motion, as formerly privileged groups fall down to the level of the disadvantaged.
    Unrelated, but Canada seems to be ahead of the bell curve currying favor in this new, nonwhite order by giving preference in immigration to the elite of the up-and-coming powers. One can rapidly see a new, non-white elite emerging in Canada. The US doesn’t have the same immigration policies as Canada, so doesn’t fast-track the elite and professional classes in the same way.

  295. Quos Ego – “I’ve met plenty of “SJW” myself, and even though they are bull-headed, full of contradictions, and often infuriating, they do mean well.”

    Have you met every SJW on the planet? And exactly how did you assess whether each of them meant well or not? Or was that the usual careless generalization which is just as unhelpful and inaccurate as those who say ‘no SJW means well’? They’re people. Of course some of them sometimes don’t mean well at all. Why should that be so difficult to acknowledge?


    Speaking of people not meaning well…

    “I would really like to see men subjected to the same level of constant scrutiny as are women and then I might feel some sympathy.”

    He wasn’t asking for your sympathy. He was responding to Quos Ego’s silly over-generalization that ‘SJW’s…do mean well”. One personal anecdotal experience, as he gave, is sufficient to disprove that – unless you intend to call him and everyone who’s had similar experiences a liar.

    Interestingly though, your refusal to sympathize with any man attacked by SJWs until all men everywhere are subjected to the same scrutiny which you claim women are, is a pretty good demonstration in itself that those who side with the SJWs also do not always mean well. It is exactly why ‘social justice’ is antithetical to justice: “Until X Victim group gets justice (as defined by me, a Rescuer), no member of Y Persecutor group deserves it.” The Rescue game is poison.

  296. @ Dean M

    Re state selection of Senators

    I can understand and respect your opposition. Were we ever to meet on the floor of a constitutional convention, I’d certainly look forward to the debate 😉

    But a few points:

    First, recall that I’m taking an older view of the purpose of the Senate, which is to represent the states as (semi)sovereign polities, as embodied by their individual governments. Thus, as I’ve indicated, the role of a Senator is more akin to that of an ambassador. If you observe how ambassadorships (or any appointed positions) are distributed, then this would be no different. Yes, the history is a bit sordid; I’d argue that elections are no less unsavory.

    Second, understand that I’d also have in place limits to any person’s consecutive years in Congress, whether as Representative or Senator, so this would limit the duration of any individual’s continuous service. (At most, two Senatorial terms.)

    Thirdly, if a state decided to elect its ambassadors to the Senate, that would be permissible. I’d only not require such elections.

    @ Nastarana

    I’d not go with allocation by congressional district because in “my” version of the Constitution (whatever that is worth), congressional districts wouldn’t exist. I’d solve the gerrymandering problem by going to proportional representation with a state’s delegation to the House. Using this system for electoral votes would also better enable minority party candidates to actually capture EVs by removing the “first past the post” criterion. A benefit, in my view.

    Also, yes the 13th amendment was one of the better ones. We might have saved ourselves a good bit of trouble if it had been adopted in the first round…but then the country likely wouldn’t have been formed, either.

    @ Ben

    I like proportional representation (within states) for that reason, plus the increased chance that minority parties might gain a foothold. Breaking the duopoly would be very helpful, I’d argue.

  297. @Shane
    “I mean, if you’re privileged enough to be a professor who owns his own home, and probably has all kinds of other perks, do you really expect the poor of any race to care?”

    As a matter of fact I do. Being a victim of prejudice is, at base, an issue of denial of dignity. When poor people of color see wealthy people of color being subjected to the same indignities they are, it really does create a group identity and a sense that whatever the value of economic policies, being treated like human beings is not just a class issue, though it’s also true that poor people of all colors also suffer indignities.

    It amazes me that folks who see the Federal-State relationship as you do are not constitution haters. Although some protections were added in, the writing and ratification of the US constitution was fundamentally a centralizing process. The convention was charged with modifying and fixing the Articles of Confederation. Instead they threw it out. Why aren’t states rights folks bemoaning that the convention didn’t do what was asked of it?

  298. @ShaneW: “It’s one thing to redistribute the wealth during a growing economy of plenty, but another thing altogether during a time of rapid decline… That’s why poor whites get so surly every time the topic of race comes up. It’s just another excuse to raid their already meager pocketbooks.”

    I don’t know if JMG wants to keep this thread going into Wednesday, but as far as I can tell, nobody today still hopes to see 40 acres and a mule. I firmly agree with you that programs to alleviate poverty should be based on need and not race. However, that’s usually the case now, yet many whites whose own families benefit from safety nets oppose them if they have been convinced that typical recipients are black or Hispanic. (Incidentally, I do not agree that we can’t afford safety nets anymore. Our real wealth may have declined, but if we reduced the share going to the superrich we could remain a developed nation for quite a while yet.) And asking cops to stop hassling people for being black in public wouldn’t cost anyone a nickel; indeed it could well provide a small boost to the real economy.

  299. @ David BTL – I re-read my comment and realized I forgot to mention I live in Oklahoma. Just for context. I don’t know about national representation, but at the state level, I’m sure proportional representation would lead to at least 10% of the state legislature being libertarian. Maybe more once people saw they could win.

  300. Just as an “archive” comment to follow up, Rep-elect Dan Crenshaw has an essay on “civility” published in the Washington Post (p. A25) today (Nov. 14)… for those who missed his appearance on Saturday Night Live, I suppose. He shares the page with Dana Milbank, David Ignatius, Megan McArdle, and George Shultz.

  301. To quote Gramsci: “The old is dying and the new cannot be born. In this interregnum there arises a great diversity of morbid symptoms.”

  302. > I’ve never had the chance to walk along the Volga and see if something parallel stirs in the earth and the wind, offering a foretaste of another great culture on its way to manifestation—but I’d be willing to bet that it’s there.

    Not really. Russians never had an issue with not having their own culture. They have one, and it’s strong, and it has been there for many centuries (and some parts of it hark back millennia). So it’s unlike the US which is still brewing its own identity.

    They had for a while a problem of their elites bringing in European (French manners and literature, then various romantic and enlightenment ideas, Marxism, etc) culture — which is a little similar to the US intelligentia’s problem.

    With that off, there are the strong old ways, and a modern emptiness (commercial, capitalist kind that consumes the whole planet). But not some lurking new culture stemming from the Volga or old one waiting to come back. The old one in Russia never really left.

  303. @Robert Mathiesen

    > To me, as an American of Danish ancestry, it always feels very strange when other Americans speak of Scandinavia as a single thing. The Scandinavian countries seem to me as different as, say, England and Scotland, or Spain and Catalonia.

    So, not that different at all?

  304. “Average Americans” — if I consider India and its intelligentsia with no space left within the British Empire (Gandhi) — would be native Americans and not European descendants of any class. Being someone who follows numerous indigenous/first nation activists across North America on social media (I just listen to try to understand), I am not convinced that there is anything moving under the soil or whistling in the wind of this continent that is for any of us white folk of any class (intelligentsia or otherwise) to feel or hear. Now perhaps had the British anihilated the entire population of India then their own imported sullen masses would have inherited the land once the marginalized intelligentsia joined forces with them. Maybe the differences are irrelevant though and the point stands that disenfranchised intelligentsia changes the trajectory for any empire whether the empire clears the land of the population or seeks to bend it to its will.

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