Thursday, August 13, 2015

“Let It Burn:” After The Conflagration, Then What?

     One of the problems inherent in the decision to reject the status quo is the inability to answer the “Then what?” question: “What would come next?” The corollary question is the sting in the tail: “Whatever it proves to be, are you sure you’d find it preferable?”

     The number of revolutions that were followed by a state of affairs freedom lovers found preferable is very small. The American Revolution is the one we know most about, and the honeymoon that followed that one wasn’t as long or as blissful as we’ve been led to believe:

     Politics, as hopeful men practice it in the world, consists mainly of the delusion that a change in form is a change in substance. The American colonists, when they got rid of the Potsdam tyrant, believed fondly that they were getting rid of oppressive taxes forever and setting up complete liberty. They found almost instantly that taxes were higher than ever, and before many years they were writhing under the Alien and Sedition Acts. – H. L. Mencken

     A change in form is not only not the same as a change in substance; it is most often used to conceal continuity of substance. In any sort of political system, regardless of its labeling, the substance is power.

     The history of revolutions suggests that should the current American system – i.e.. the governmental arrangements of the United States not in Constitutional theory but in actual practice – be swept away, what will arise to replace it stands a very good chance of being at least as intrusive, at least as lawless, and at least as oppressive. These things, after all, are the hallmarks of power.

     There’s a good case to be made that the subjects of medieval kings were freer de facto than a contemporary American. In theory, those subjects had no rights and little power with which to resist the myrmidons of the State. In practice, the ability of the monarch and his nobles to exercise power over them was limited by a combination of two factors: the weakness of the intrusive techniques available to them, and a lack of interest. If you’ll allow me a somewhat facetious comparison, George III could not control how fast the water streamed through his subjects’ shower heads, but at least as important, he didn’t care.

     The techniques of omnipresent intrusion and control have been greatly elaborated since then. No, there’s no meter on your shower head that reports your current rate of water consumption to some level of government. Rather, the EPA, by decreeing regulations with the force of law concerning the manufacture of shower heads, has controlled your rate of water usage “at the source.” If the busybodies should some day decide that stiffer measures are “necessary” to prevent “waste,” similar clamps would be applied to local and regional water distributors. New federal regulations would decree that no household shall be supplied with more than X gallons of water per day. Water meters would be retrofitted with compliance measures. If you doubt the plausibility of this, note that similar changes to the metering of electrical power consumption are already proliferating.

     What makes this possible, of course, is the combination of corporate consolidation through tax and regulatory pressure with the advance of regulatory technology. The former was necessary to effectuate the intrusion of the latter. One cannot shackle millions of minuscule, independent, endlessly variable businesses. Better to compel them to coalesce into a far smaller, more manageable number. That was the main effect of the explosion of corporate taxation and regulation that began with the Wilson Administration and became obvious to the public through the New Deal.

     Americans today find it next to impossible to live decent, comfortable lives without making use of the goods provided by our Fortune 3000 companies. Those companies are all under the federal yoke...a yoke their heavily regulated products transfer all but invisibly to us.

     The effects discussed above are epiphenomena: system-level consequences of intrusions committed over several decades by assorted busybodies, most of them utterly convinced that they were “doing good.” They were probably not intended to bring about the current state of first. But in any sufficiently large collection of persons, some will be found who consciously seek power over others. Such persons will note a tendency toward consolidation and the concentration of power, and will endeavor to ride it. Those are the persons who dominate our contemporary political class.

     Perhaps the idea a man of good will must strain hardest to swallow is that not everyone is a man of good will -- that there are others who don’t share his conceptions of right and wrong, and are completely numb to the promptings of conscience. Let the population of some nation-state grow large enough, and such persons inevitably appear. They seek power as naturally as any organism seeks food and warmth. The canniest of them become experts in the techniques -- propaganda, dissimulation, scapegoating, the creation of unreasoning fear -- that serve them best in getting it. Robert A. Heinlein put it memorably in his novella “Gulf:”

     “Reason is poor propaganda when opposed by the yammering, unceasing lies of shrewd and evil and self-serving men. The little man has no way to judge and the shoddy lies are packaged more attractively. There is no way to offer color to a colorblind man, nor is there any way for us to give the man of imperfect brain the canny skill to distinguish a lie from a truth.”

     My main point for today is this: Unless what collapses the existing regime also eliminates 98% to 99% of the population of this country, such men will still exist, and will strive to continue the substance of what came before. There may be a change in form, possibly a quite dramatic one. A change in substance is far less likely.

     However firm you may be in your conviction that the status quo cannot be repaired by conventional means -- that it simply must fall to make room for something better -- don’t root for it. Especially, don’t work actively to collapse it in perfect confidence that what follows simply must be superior.


Dystopic said...

There are some things that a collapse could bring which are positive. I say "could" because, as you say, there are no guarantees, nothing to suggest we can have perfect confidence.

The first thing is that we face the extinction of our civilization if we do nothing. Western European culture has its back to the wall. It is facing annihilation by the forces of the Left. Even White Europeans, as a people, face this. If we wait too long for the system to collapse, we will be too few in number -- and the loathing many minorities have for Whites (indeed, the self-loathing SJW Whites share) is apparent in lopsided nature of crime.

They hate Whites. They hate Western European culture. They hate Christianity. And they will continue to use the bureaucratic apparatus to strangle these things slowly through deceit, media, crony corporatism, patronage, etc...

I don't want to sound like supremacist here. I wish peace on the various peoples of the world. But I also think that my culture, my civilization has a right to survive, and that makes the Left my enemy, the government my enemy, the multi-nationals my enemy, etc...

I won't sugar-coat this. If the system falls, it's going to suck. It will be a harsh existence for us, at least as bad as the Fall of Rome, but probably much worse, because we are used to a standard of living far greater than any other in history. There will be widespread violence, disaffection, petty tyrants, economic collapse, and more.

But that is precisely why we must act. The Left has, for too long, used this against us. They will tell us "we know things are bad, but stay the course, because it would be worse otherwise, and we don't want you to be uncomfortable." They have made the coffin of Western civilization as comfortable as possible, lined with velvet, coated in gold, its transition eased by high technology and plenty.

But it is still a coffin, and I, for one, refuse to step in it. And be damned with the consequences, for none could be worse than extinction for me and mine.

furball said...

Fran, that's it. The modern world is so complex and interconnected that it takes millions of people to make that "pencil" in the oft-quoted thingy. Sewage, food delivery, electrical power, transportation, communication. . . look into any of those and you'll find a HUGE supporting cast of systems to make any of them actually work.

And in any endeavor that large, yeah, there will be power-mongering jerks, or others who attempt to slide along for free. It's probably always been that way.

But in today's world, the systems are so complex and so large, that the number of jerks and free-loaders are exponentially larger than ever before.

It's a problem of human nature, I think. . . not a problem of the system itself. Yes, governments seek to grow in power. But EVERY part of the "civilization equation," - communication, transportation, services, food, shelter, etc. - will draw power-mongers, charlatans and free-loaders. It's an aspect of how different humans try to cope, not an inherent feature of the systems, themselves.

If that's true, then it would seem that a society that wants to "perform optimally" - with justice, respect for individuals and liberty - would necessarily HAVE to castigate individuals for their "anti-social" behavior. Multiculturalism, diversity, "to each his own," and moral relativism would be anathema to a society that expected all its diverse players to hew to a common theme.

But that's the problem, isn't it? Once you advocate for a hegemony of "values" you will be castigated as small-minded, anti-progressive, repressive or authoritarian. Protestants found a common cause in denigrating the very idea of "Catholicism," regardless of what the church said.

History is a rather implacable teacher. The odds are (I believe) tremendously against Western Civilization surviving as we know it for another 200 years. And it'll probably get pretty ugly within a generation or two. But I don't think that's the fault of government or the EPA or the Department of Education, per se. After all, governments, the environment and education are probably pretty good things, in general.

The problem is human nature. EVERYONE is going to have anti-social, or anti-humanistic or "bad" impulses, sooner or later. I've seen three prescriptions that attempt to mitigate this:

1) Religion, which tries to impose or integrate a "more moral" thesis by virtue of . . . appealing to a higher authority that is at once understandable in terms of what we can imagine, but is yet ephemeral?
2) Socialism, which ultimately demands conformity of not only outcomes, but desires.
3) Capitalism, which, in its best clothing, says we're all self-interested, but, if we just let it work unhampered, provides the greatest good for the greatest number.

Any of the three can be attacked fairly successfully by anyone with access to the internet.

When you've got 300 million+ people, and just one monolithic government - NOT the federal idea and sovereign states as envisioned by the founders - you're not going to get a meaningful consensus on ANYTHING.

Dystopic said...

Furball, there are some holes in that analysis. While it is true that all humans are prone to anti-social behavior, there are many more "prescriptions" than those three.

1. Race/Nationalism. This is a dirty word right now, but humans are prone to caring more about fellows that are like them in various respects than those who are not. Most minorities in America understand this and act accordingly. White Europeans do not, to their detriment. This is because of Government and Media propaganda machines. When I say this, I don't mean Nazism or something -- that is Nationalism taken to unhealthy extremes -- but a mild preference and identity. Russia for Russians. France for the French. China for the Chinese, Etc... Neither must it be 100%. There is a percentage of "non-nationals" if you will, that a nation or people can assimilate successfully, or coexist with. But that number is much smaller than in America today.

2. Enemy Mine. Humans come together when there are common enemies to fight. The West wasn't nearly as fractured when the Soviet Union was around. With an Evil Empire, of sorts, it was possible to keep Western civilization going, albeit in a damaged state (it was *NEVER* quite right after the 60s). With that gone, and no real Nationalism to speak of in the majority, there is very little to keep us together.

3. Religion. As you say, this can be unifying. But not always. Christian has fought Christian (and not just denominational violence... Catholic vs. Catholic) since Christ's day.

Now, Socialism and Capitalism are not unifying structures (which oppose anti-social behavior). Socialism attempts to overlay a central authority to FORCE unification, but it doesn't work. See: Soviet Union breakup into ethnic states. Actually, any multi-ethnic Empire is subject to the same limitations you see in International Socialism. Capitalism similarly has no power to unify, though Capitalism CAN keep the peace between different peoples, to some extent, by convincing them to grudgingly work together for common profit rather than slaughter one another. It doesn't always work, but it helps some.

Western Civilization need not die off in the next 200 years. We are sitting on the inflection point right now. Western civilization survived the Fall of Rome, though in debased form (it took some time to claw back up). Western civilization survived World War II and the inevitable backlash a generation later with counter-culture, albeit in a badly damaged state.

The key is re-embracing the two unifying elements that have proven powerful enough to keep things going: nationalism/race and religion. An embracing of European identity and Christian religion could save us.

It's too late to save America as a political entity. It's too late to save the European Union (if, indeed, such a thing is worth saving at all). It may even be too late for the geopolitical entities we are familiar with, like Britain, France, etc...

But it is not too late to turn things around for the West in general. And it requires burning down the institutions that have betrayed us. For when the anti-social behavior reaches the highest rungs of society and is not only tolerated, but actively encouraged, repair is no longer possible.

Burn it to the ground and let the forest renew itself, as the West reemerged from the ashes of Rome.

RichJ said...

God gave us free will. God did this because he loves us. He also gave us the instructions with which to live the right way such that we can be happy and get along well with others. To those in Fran's readership that have not picked up the Bible recently, there is no time like the present. It's all there. Don't expect another that God and his Son to intercede and protect you. Both Dystopic and furball document that well.

If you want a revolution, it starts from within. It is the recognition that we are flawed. Each must study their flaws. Each must strive to repair them. When we fall short, we need to ask God to forgive us. To be one that goes through the narrow gate, this is a baseline requirement.

We need to help each other, not with handouts, but with encouragement. Jesus says it best, speaking to his disciples shortly after the resurrection...

Matthew 28:19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”

pyrrhus said...

"After all, governments, the environment and education are probably pretty good things, in general."
No, not when a government is involved, which will turn any activity into naked propaganda, vote buying, and egalitarianism....

Reg T said...

I expect la merde to hit le ventilateur, but I certainly don't look forward to it. I am coward enough to hope I check out before things get as nasty as I imagine they will, although I am prepared to "count coup", if it comes to that.

_IF_ it does, I will admit to thinking there might be just a _little_ pleasure involved if I am successful in adding a bit of bleach to the gene pool before I am done. If not, I have plans in place to pass on much of what I have acquired over the years to folks who can put it to good use - perhaps better than I could.

FWIW, today I found myself behind a couple in small SUV with New York plates (not seen very often in these parts), and fantasized that FWP and the CSO had decided to check out SW Montana for a new location. Should I start a rumor? Will Fran be seen all over the country, a la the garden gnome? ;-)

Ed Gage said...

Mr. Poretto,

An astute warning all would do well to heed.

For an example I suggest the French Revolution. Its inception was supremely orderly and legitimate; almost immediately it went all bibbledy and flung itself increasingly into paroxysms of stupidity and violence. Incited by the regime’s feckless economic behavior (spending beyond its means), its initial remedy (the Estates General), although organized on the basis of ancient legitimacy and empowered by the Enlightenment, promptly careened into the deep weeds by the passion of the Romantics whose feelings on behalf of the perfection of the political and social orders (and the “fundamental transformation”—i.e. destruction—of the religious order) drove them to regicide, mass murder of their own people, degradation of The Church, and war against all the rest of Europe.

Such things do not end well.

For a primer, I recommend the novel by Anatole France, The Gods Will Have Blood.

Bri2301 said...

"Those are the persons who dominate our contemporary political class."

And, those "persons" will be even more desperate to gain a position of leadership and return what remains to "normal". They'll promise to return us to the glorious heights of the past, if we only band together and follow them...

I suggest that those who emerge and preach a message of a return to "normal" must be extirpated. With prejudice and celerity. Such a situation will be extremely difficult for those that believe in and want to see a Constitutional Republic born, as we've not seen before, as they'll need to act with the certainty of the Inquistors and ruthlessness of the NKVD.

Consider that when mulling the prospects of a collapse and what might emerge from it.

Vincent Kanowsky said...

The system that is primed to replace the US Islam.
The has been a Plan in place since the 1990's that calls for the replacement of America and her PPLs by 2020. The Plan's fruition, a world caliphate, is within reach of Islam today.