Standing Athwart History

There is a huge inflection running through “conservative” thought.  Even if you define “conservative” as small government and therefore get rid of the distinctions between social conservatives and libertarians, law and order and minarchists, strong-defense and isolationists.

In fact, all these distinctions are meaningless in the face of the one big distinction.

What big distinction?  Well… How do you feel about the following William F. Buckley quote about National Review?

“It stands athwart history, yelling Stop.”

If you’re nodding your head, chances are you’re older than I, probably by ten years.  If you’re wrinkling your brow and going “say what?” chances are you’re younger than I by at least ten years.

These things are not written in stone.  Generations are permeable.  For instance the current president is my age, just about, but he is technically of my older son’s generation, the echo-boom – the child of boomers who imbibed the ideology of the sixties in their mother’s milk and regurgitate it unexamined.  My parents OTOH were born during WWII and were the youngest of their family and therefore technically belonged to the prior generation.

However, in general, conservatives of any stripe who came of age before the seventies have the built in assumption that history is against their beliefs and they’re doomed to eventually lose.   They react to this in many different ways.  A lot of what you call RINOs are in fact conservatives of this stripe.  They think that they’re doomed to lose anyway – or rather, don’t think, just feel it, since it’s at the back of all their political beliefs – and therefore doing a little trade on the way to make things easier seems wise.  There are other types, like VDH who mourn the failing of the light and believe it is their duty to chronicle our journey into the dark, to warn some future rekindling of civilization (even though it’s understood he thinks they too are pre-doomed.)  Then there are the ones, like the Vikings of old who stand and make them fight for every inch they take, even though knowing that in the end evil and darkness win.

All of these from the “go down easy” to the admirable warriors have more in common with each other than with me.  You see, they don’t believe we can win.

Me?  I’m neither naïve nor stupid.  Yes, I’ve read the same historical texts they have.  Yes, I know the danger is grave.  Yes, I’m fully aware that forces of darkness are closing in on all sides.  They’ve been closing in on all sides forever, and the dawn of the industrial age made it worse.

BUT how could I not believe we can win?  In my lifetime, I’ve seen communist countries fall.  Even if they reconstituted again in some form, we found out one thing: no communist dictatorship can continue unchanged or unsoftened for over seventy years.  How CAN they be the future if they can’t even feed their own people longer than that.   Even strong men in benighted Latin countries do better than the dictatorship of the proletariat to which the future was supposed to belong.

How can I not believe we can win, when I’ve seen the growth of the new media, challenging the sclerotic orthodoxy of the mass-production age?

How can I not believe we can win when almost all new tech is geared towards giving individuals greater freedom and greater tech?

How can I not believe we can win when it is the “progressives” who are fighting the future so hard they’re willing to take us back to the thirties and permanent stagnation to stop history?

Look – I know where the older conservatives got this idea.  Each generation was going to be larger than the last, creating a sort of tyranny of indoctrinated youth and a sort of permanent dependence on the welfare state.  On the international front, larger and larger states would face each other across nuclear arsenals.  The almost mass-producing of people would create soulless societies where everyone was taught to think/act/dress alike.

Like Marx they made the mistake of looking at a point in history and thinking this goes on forever.  It’s a human thing.  (Unlike Marx, at least they didn’t rub their hands with glee and view it as a way to enshrine envy and vengeance as virtues.)

But their assumptions were wrong: their population assumptions, their assumptions on the longevity of industrial totalitarian states, and yes, their assumptions on technology.

What’s more the assumptions on tech and on economics were wrong in a spectacular way.

So, those of us who came of age after the seventies, those of us who took to the net like a fish to water, those of us who live in the stream of information, who are happy warriors in the battle for the future, can’t avoid but think there is not only a good chance we win – but our victory is almost assured.  Almost.  They have one weapon that destroys us, though it destroys them too.

Let’s start with some basics – can’t cover them all.  Again, the rule of science fiction applies – from which you can extrapolate the rest.  Let’s take the fact that you can now live in Podunk Kansas, or Santa Maria, Brazil and work in New York City.  If you’re thinking that’s just convenient, you didn’t think things through.

The industrial nation-state depends on territorial control for its power.  Their power to tax you, force you, coerce you, censor you hinges on your living in their territory.  What is the good of giving incentives to one industry and taxing the other to oblivion if it just means that it changes “offices” on paper, while not moving a single piece of paper.

We’re not quite there yet, but as better automated manufacture (and 3-d printers) come on line, the productive class becomes a will-o’-the-wisp thing that they can’t pin down and tax to buy the favor and votes of the moocher class.

Their troubles are only starting.

Yes, I know right now, the main stream media still shaped the narrative.  Or did they?  Note that Obama’s vote records fell way more from 08 than those of the Republican.  Yeah, the hatred campaign worked… for now.

But over the next four years, how many more people acquire tablets and computers?  How many more turn off the news?

Look, guys, the left was infiltrated by communists in the thirties and since then they’ve been preparing their beautifully detailed snare.  It was easy in a way.  Keep out of media, education and entertainment anyone who doesn’t think as they do.  Anyone who isn’t one of the “good guys.”

It worked.  It worked wonderfully.  They knew it would.  It worked everywhere else, too.  The entire Western World speaks with a unified media voice somewhere to the left of Lenin.  They don’t care if the people tune them out, something still sticks.

Those of us who came of age before blogs, came of age to feeling like we were insane.  EVERYTHING and everyone from newspapers, to our teachers to our favorite novelists/film makers told us a centralized economy was better and to think otherwise was heresy.

Okay, so the fall of the USSR made us think all of those authorities were full of it.  But it was still hard.  Now?  Now you can find a million people who think like you with very little effort – more importantly, you can find views that accord with your ‘lying eyes’.

They are holding on to the old way of doing things.  They conquered it the hard way over three generations.  They don’t want to let go.

What would you do if you threw a long march through the institutions, and in the end you found the institutions irrelevant?

Look at the talk show hosts.  That’s flop sweat on their brow.  Look at the merger of Random Penguin, because, in the face of all evidence, bigger must be better, they must stop these pesky indie people, they must OVERCOME.  They were told come the revolution they won, and yet now their victory is running between their fingers like sand.

They don’t know what to do.  All they can scream about is “taxing the rich” and taking us back to the good ol’ class war days of the 1930s.  They’re hoping by collapsing the economy they stop the clock of progress and cut off our route of escape.

Can it work?

Sure it can.  For a time.  If they collapse the economy completely, if they take us back to pre-history, it might work for a few hundred years.  BUT if they continue the course they’re in and only semi-collapse it?

Uh uh.  No way guys.  Yeah they “win” for a few decades.  But even China can’t stop the internet, and China has a FAR more conformist culture than anywhere in the west, even Portugal.  If they collapse the economy, we have to find new ways of surviving.  Things we can make/trade/sell the leviathan can’t trace.  Ways to be like the companies and move around to where they can’t force us.  In other words, if they continue in this course, they’ll only accelerate the progress of the technologies that will defeat them.

Doesn’t mean it’s not important to fight them.  When I say a few decades it could be as many as seven decades of untold misery.  The human life is brief.  Seventy years wipes me out and pretty much everyone I care about in this world.  I’m fighting for the near future.  I’m fighting to avoid pain for my children and grandchildren.  I’m fighting to keep the lights blazing bright.

BUT make no mistake – in the end, one way or another, we win.  Things can get ugly.  We might lose a few cities.  Things can get a lot more painful than they should.

But in the end it is the progressives standing athwart history yelling “stop.”  And that thing bearing down on them?  It’s an express train.  It stops for no one.

119 thoughts on “Standing Athwart History

  1. Heck, I’d just like for the post 1970s birth cohort and our offspring to know the basics of history! And not the very dark version that Oliver Stone is selling on Showtime (TM) either, or Ken Burns’ most recent efforts (the Dust Bowl was not. caused. by. humans. Or by capitalism. It was caused by drought and has historic and prehistoric precedents. The “best practices” of dryland farming at the time exacerbated the wind erosion but did not cause it. Anyway.)

    One precedent that bears keeping in mind is how much information survived from the Greeks and Romans that people knew of but could not act on because of the inability to organize people the same way the Romans had. The Byzantines and the western Catholic Church kept the ideas available (in a limited sense) until conditions developed that supported the Renaissance. And the idea that every person has a worth, be he king or slave, survived from the Saxons through the Normans to today. It was not always acknowledged by the state, but the idea and ideal made it through.

    1. But fewer kids today know about the Greeks and Romans, at least not in school (and what Hollywood presents is gawdawfully inaccurate) – too many dead white males, not culturally diverse enough (yes, I’m rolling my eyes in disgust as I write this). Even the History Channel gets pretty ridiculous.

      But yes, getting out the truth about history would help a lot. Some alternative to the History Channel? One of the biggest misperceptions out there is that American Right = Hitler, when it’s actually the opposite. Just correcting that would do wonders.

    2. I remember reading about the Carolingian Empire in the 9th century and how lucky we in the West are that events happened the way they did. Specifically, we got lucky in that Charlemagne made an effort to have old texts preserved by having some of his people re-copy them. (I don’t know that his sons continued the tradition; perhaps they did, but I definitely remember that Charlemagne’s reign was emphasized specifically as the time during which this policy was in place.)

      In any case, I no longer remember how many written works were saved that way, but if he hadn’t made the effort… There’s just no telling how many of those texts would have succumbed to the sheer passage of time, or survived only in part.

      1. Most of the classical works we have were preserved in Carolingian copies. Most of the others come from Greek books people bought in Byzantium before its fall.

        But yah, the Middle Ages was all about stupid people destroying knowledge wantonly, unlike our own time when we are all wise.

        1. Most of the classical works we have were preserved in Carolingian copies. Most of the others come from Greek books people bought in Byzantium before its fall.

          I thought a bunch were recovered by Nicholas Cage.

        2. Yeah. Timbuktu… very small news too, seems like. At least the calls to destroy the pyramids are getting a bit bigger headlines. Lots of comments on the comments sections how westerners aren’t really any better. And then they usually talk about something like the Great Library of Alexandria and Christian monks. So – any modern atrocities anywhere else have to be excused because Christians at least used to be as bad if not worse, as far as I can figure that reasoning out. Or we have no right to lament the wrongdoings of others because we have done the same ourselves. Or something.

          Well, at least most people seem to admit that destroying something like that is not quite right, even when it’s some ethnic group somewhere exotic destroying their own heritage.

          Heh. Any news about anybody making a thrilling contemporary adventure movie where a brave archeologist rushes to Timbuktu in order to save a priceless manuscript, perhaps with the help of the manuscript keeper’s lovely daughter? You could make the hero a Muslim, you know, one who thinks the hardliners are making a mistake…

      2. We got lucky a little earlier than that when his grandpa, Charles “the Hammer” Martel crushed a Moorish invasion into France, making sure there was a Christendom left for Charlemagne to emperor over. Fascinating period of history. Also, I have a little bit of a soft spot for anybody nicknamed “the Hammer.”

        1. It has long puzzled me that we have such a fetish for Arthur when Charlemagne is as romantic and far the more significant figure. Whysit there are no movies starring Gerard Depardieu as Roland’s horse?

          1. At least two theories/observations here:

            The Matter of Britain is about Britain, after all, our original primary homeland.

            More recently, the significance of the Matter of France being much more Christian; for example, that it starts out with Charles Martel and Charlemagne as explicit champions of Christianity stopping the Muslim invasions in Western Europe is obviously intolerable to modern sensibilities.

            1. I’d add a third thought (related to your first), when I think Charlemagne I think France. So he’s likely more famous among French speaking nations and those are out-numbered by English speaking nations. [Wink]

                1. Karl Der Grosse? Ach ja. He and Fredrik Barbarossa are just waiting for the right time to return, or so some legends say. Sort of like Holger Dansk.

          2. Very simple, RES — Arthur had a much better publicity agent! Seriously, that’s something that has twisted history for ages. Look at the Vikings. They have done more during the period of their ascendancy than the French did during theirs, but they’re mostly remembered for being raiders.

  2. I have to play mini-god for a moment in my fictional world on something like this topic.

    The fae have settled the New World, but the population grows slowly (flip side of living a long time). “Tech” and intellectual ideas do advance, like a small mirror of a human world (it’s not hermetically sealed feudalism) but it’s not an industrial society yet.

    Here comes my hero, human raised, even a minor software entrepreneur. Now, in book 2, he’s thrown in his lot with the fae while keeping a foothold in the human world. What should he, or shouldn’t he, introduce? What ideas might take hold? Which ones might be poisonous? (I just finished writing a scene where he gives a “common knowledge” overview of plate tectonics to a creature that lives hundreds of thousands of years, confirming her people’s religious speculations.) He can’t prevent interested fae from also learning more in the human world on their own, so he’s not a complete gatekeeper, but his every action seems fraught with the peril of contamination. But then who is he to treat them like an off-limits primitive society, as we’ve been doing with Brazilian tribes?

    I’m actually somewhat perplexed about what attitude to take. Certainly it takes more than one man to make certain kinds of changes, it takes a whole zeitgeist, but other ideas are more influential. My tendency is to say no man can play god and he should simply take a slow and gradual approach, but maybe that’s wrong. It like the choices in time-travel books, all ethically funky.

    1. There are a few different things I can see happening (and I read the first book):
      1) He can make suggestions for a change, but the fae are happy with the way things are done now and have no wish to change (or the slightly different physics make it impossible for most fae ie: gunpowder).
      2) Something fairly simple he thinks is not a big enough change to interest the fae becomes extremely popular after they see him using it (like a more modern pen?)
      3) Since he is not the only one with access to the modern world, even if he thinks changes don’t need to be made, someone else brings them in.

      Short of a completely isolated island, no society that hs contact with others remains unchanged, no matter how hard they fight the change. Are the fae fighting change? Just not interested in change? Actively interested in changing some things but not others? Are there factions wanting change and others wanting to stay the same?

      1. Thanks, Rachel (and thanks for reading it). It’s helpful to just bounce a few ideas off someone.

        I know what’s possible, as you suggest. (In the second book he cheerfully gives up the internet, but not deodorant.)

        What I don’t know, is what I “approve” of, in the sense of god-the-author. I see this as Human Wave (or do I mean Fae Wave?), not a closed system, so yes they will advance. But how active a role I want my hero to take… hmmm. Probably should be a variant on unintended consequences, e.g., the wrapping of a package exciting more interest than the contents.

        Can’t help it, I just want these things to have a moral, if I can keep it from stifling things. (There’s that darned free will thing again…)

        1. I like the unintended consequences… say the Fae like a pen– what does it take to make a pen? What kind of trade is needed? What kind of work is involved to keep the pen in the Fae society– A lot of changes and unintended consequences there–

  3. Yes to all this!

    You speak of the Echo Boomers, but the Boomers themselves were the children of the FDR generation, who grew up with all that propaganda and believed it, worshipped FDR and passed that worship on to their kids. If they fought in WWII, it’s even worse.

    Add in a union background and it’s really ingrained. Have the FDR parent be a blue-collar Archie Bunker racist type and you get a kid who’s rebelling against that, but instead of turning to the Republicans, they’ve changed the Democrats, though it’s wound up still just as racist.

    I have friends, just a few years older than me, who are not only this, but Sixties Rebellion wannabees – they were just a bit too young to participate, and still have these romantic ideas about it. (Me, I’m the post-Boomer, late-seventies kid who had to live in the rubble the Boomers left, and we tend to be much more conservative.)

    1. Laurie, not everybody fits that bill. My dad was born in 1911, my mother in 1923. Both were FORCED to join unions in order to be employed. Both HATED FDR with a passion. Both were born and raised in the South, but had black friends, even when I was a kid.

      I’m one of the first of the Boomers, yet my background and my early childhood (1947-1964) most resembled my parents’. I’ve never belonged to a union, and really have no plans to join one now. My brother belonged until he became “management”, and managed to wiggle out of it. I’ve seen first-hand what unions have done to several industries (railroads, steel, shipping, nursing), and it’s not pretty.

      I spent 26 years in the Air Force. I was never a “60’s rebellion wannabee”. I thought most of that was utter crap. I’m also quite religious, just as my parents were, but a non-churchgoer because I HATE “organized” religion (“organized” religion is as close to being in a union as you can get and still not have cards or dues. God is less important than the Church. It should NEVER be like that.).

      1. Mike, I actually think you’re the norm, even for Boomers, or this country would be in much worse shape than it is. But who gets all the press? (So my apologies to all those who were born during the baby boomer era, but are not Baby Boomers.)

        I know that most people weren’t taken in by FDR (or at least not ultimately), or the US would never have passed a constitutional amendment so quickly after the man was dead making sure something like him would never happen again – and a constitutional amendment ain’t easy to get through.

        But enough were taken in (one set of grandparents weren’t, but the other set were), and they passed that worship down to their kids (heck, there are people in China who still worship Mao). On the other hand, those kids are often people you can reason with by pointing out the simple historical facts. And I remember my grade school history classes were all excited about the New Deal, and then WWII, but they said nothing on when the US actually returned to prosperity, so there’s stuff to work with.

      2. No, not everyone thought that FDR was a saint. I recall a seeing a political cartoon of the 1930s where a young girl is running into a house shouting, ‘Mama, little brother has just written a dirty word on the side walk.’ We see in the foreground the boy with chalk had scribed the name, ‘Roosevelt.’

        1. I read a story (I think it was in a collection of Time Magazines from the WW2 time frame) about a soldier fighting the Japanese. In the story, any soldier who killed a Japanese soldier got leave. Well, he asked his Sarge how to find a Jap and was told to shout “Death to the Emperor” which would bring a Jap out of hiding. Well the soldier did all that but the Jap shouted back “Death to FDR”. The soldier said “I couldn’t kill another Republican”. [Very Big Evil Grin]

            1. I grew up partly on certain stories from a person who had lived through certain events of that time period. I do not entirely feel comfortable repeating some of them. I am not a fan of FDR.

  4. Me, I am a born in the depression era, raised by FDR liberals, former Democrat, who is sure having my hopes raised by these posts. In fact, I sent around to my children and nieces and nephews with the subject line, It is up to you younger folk now. I have been working with the Tea Party since it began here in my town, have had a blog since before then, and I find I have done all I, at age 76, can do. Not that I am going to stop blogging or working, but it really is up to the younger generations. I won’t be here forever, I don’t have the day to day contacts they do, and while I am a “stakeholder” in the future of my immediate progeny, it isn’t my future, it is their future and your future. It is up to you. ALL OF YOU.

    1. If no one’s thanked you for blogging yet, let me be the first. It helps young people enormously to have reading material written by folks with a different worldview and the life experience to back it up. They don’t get exposed to many well-articulated conservative viewpoints during middle and high school. Not that the views won’t be mentioned at all, but they’ll often not get the same screentime, or they’ll get very little evidence presented on their side compared to the liberal view. My AP Environmental Sciences textbook was anti-nuclear power to almost insane levels; my AP U.S. History textbook minimized the enormously destructive effects of the policies FDR enacted. The existence of sites like Pournelle’s Chaos Manor really helped me get some semblance of a balanced perspective, and I was one of the few who graduated from high school believing that (for example) fewer laws are better than more laws as a rule of thumb.

      1. If no one’s thanked you for blogging yet, let me be the first. It helps young people enormously to have reading material written by folks with a different worldview and the life experience to back it up.

        Hear, hear!!

      2. It can be hard to wrap one’s head around what was once accepted as normal — and to remember how difficult some changes were.

        TCM recently ran a time-filler on the classic 1950s film Anatomy of a Murder which focused on the ways in which the film was breaking new ground. For much of today’s audiences the fact that the “assaulted” wife was at a bar without hose or girdle is meaningless; back then it was a flashing neon sign labeling her a tramp.

        And it can be equally difficult for people these days to imagine how much of what we take for granted now is a relatively recent development. Such as African-Americans used to be called Blacks, and before that Negroes — and that they voted consistently Republican. It can be hard to imagine how recent an invention was the Xerox photo-copier, now how ubiquitous slide-rules were.

        The battle to define “normal” and “extreme.” is unending, and it helps to know how those terms were defined in the past.

  5. Yes, Sarah. I was born to parents who came of age during the Depression. My only siblings are two *much* older brothers, both born before WII. And then there’s me. Sort of marooned out of time — raised as the last of the Depression kids, instead of one of the baby boomers. I’ve been an “outlier” all my life. Got married late, had kids later still, and so I was carrying our second child when almost all the people I went to high school with were cooing over their grandchildren, and at the same time my *youngest* brother and his wife were moving into Sun City, Texas (and he has grandchildren older than my daughter).

    And I have sworn, since I was old enough to read the newspaper and not just look at the comics, that I would stop the creeping ‘ick’ that seemed to be oozing around the country.

    Then I read Rosemary Sutcliff, specifically “The Lantern Bearers” — when I was in 4th or 5th grade — and I swore I would *never* ‘let the light go out’. I still swear it. I internalized “molon labe” before I really read about Thermopylae.

    It’s gonna take more than this election to keep me, and the millions like me, down.

    Liberty, like Christianity, is always only one generation from extinction. The new generation has to be taught, and if we do it right, they’ll teach *their* new generation.

    Molon labe, princes and powers of this world. I’ve read the end of the book. We win.

    1. I read Rosemary Sutcliff’s books about the fading of the light in Britain too, Kitteh, and have been aware ever since of how fragile an advanced civilization can be, and how it would feel, to be reduced to living among the ruins.
      We can’t let our shining city on a hill be destroyed by the greedy, the unthinkingly envious, and the ignorant. We can’t.

      1. I, also, read Sutcliff. I, also, got the perspective. I, also, got the attitude.

        America is the polity which holds my supreme worldly loyalty.

        America is not blood, or land, or even law. America is madness. The true reality of America is an insanity shared within many people.

        American cannot truly be dead while even one even one heart beats to its truth.

        I cannot hope to control anyone else. I can only hope to control myself.

        To carry that burden, and joy, as far as possible, I must be free.

        To be that free, I must be prepared to die.

          1. “The reason Americans do so well in war, is war is chaos, and Americans practice chaos on a daily basis.”
            — General Erwin Rommel

      2. Add me to the list of Sutcliff fans here 🙂 Her depiction of that “fading of the light” is something that’s stuck with me more than all the history-book descriptions of the withering of Rome I ever read.

      3. A more recent take on Sutcliff’s idea is from G. Gavriel Kay, in his book “Last Light of the Sun.” It is a historical fantasy based on the life of Alfred the Great (one of my heroes and someone who deserves to be much better known). Anyway, one of the themes in the story is this:
        “Cenion [the priest] said [to the king], ‘Baths and mosaics are not allowed to all of us, my lord.’ ‘I know that. of course I know. Is it . . . unworthy to feel their absence?’ Cenion thought about it. ‘I think . . . it is necessary to feel that. Or we will not desire a world that lets us have them’.” (p. 349)

        Alfred of Wessex, the only British monarch called “the great,” fought off Vikings, rebuilt the educational system of Wessex, reformed the laws, and put in place defenses that would allow his successors to respond much more quickly to later incursions. And he founded a navy, and translated parts of the Bible and of several books of philosophy from Latin into Saxon. Alfred, the fifth son, was never supposed to rule, and for most of his adult life suffered from what modern physicians think was Crohn’s Disease. At one point his kingdom had been reduced to not much more than an island in a marsh, and yet he kept fighting.

        1. Actually, you can have a very decent Roman bathhouse on a very low budget. Even places the Romans didn’t go, like Norse areas and Ireland, had a very strong bathing culture based on the Roman and Greek style. (A lot like saunas — you just build one out back on the bit of land that’s not too arable. The Irish were big on hillside bathhouses.) It took the Reformation and Renaissance (and bad public water systems in many cities, to be fair, as well as lots of prostitution around bathhouses) to stamp out the culture of hot water.

          1. IIRC, the basic law of Irish hospitality was that any guest showing up at your door was entitled to soup, a bed, and a bath. (And usually to giving their clothes a wash for them, while they were in the bath.) You weren’t poor if you had two sets of clothes, so that you had a nice dry shirt/dress already when you got out of the bath.

            1. And if your know the tale of Cairpre the bard and King Bress, you know: 1) You didn’t half-ass your guest’s treatment, and 2) you *DEFINITELY* did *NOT* f— with a Bard…. >:)

          2. I’d always been told that it was early Christianity, with its emphasis on shunning the physical world, and its hatred of Roman decadence (of which baths were considered a large part) that turned people off bathing.

            1. Yes, well. The Christians certainly were not in favor of prostitution. The issue of separating the physical from the spiritual and shunning the physical is considered to be part of the Gnostic heresies. (It is believed to have arisen from a Greek idea that the physical, or base, and the spiritual, or higher, were on entirely separate planes.) The Gnostics generally went one of two ways — either the acts of the flesh did not really matter so long as you were properly spiritual or everything to do with pleasures of the flesh was to be regretted.

              1. There were two schools of thought on baths, in the early Christian world.

                One was that there was a lot of pagan, immoral stuff at the baths in most major cities. They were dedicated to gods and coated with murals that were often Not Nice. There was mixed bathing that often included sexual harassment and open prostitution. And of course, cleaning yourself at home with olive oil soap was much more ascetic.

                The other point of view was that baths would be fine as soon as you got all the pagan, immoral stuff out, and instituted saner practices. And of course you’d keep the public libraries.

                The baths kept rolling in Byzantium and in most Roman cities after Christianity came into power. They sorta divvied it back up into men’s and women’s bathing times, IIRC, but there wasn’t much change otherwise. They kept rolling in medieval Europe, as I said. They kept rolling in Arab-conquered lands, as hammams. Baths were very popular, and there are plenty of places (Budapest, Bath, Aachen I think) where Roman baths still operate today.

                1. The revisionist history of Roman Britain holds that the Roman oppression was so unpleasant, and had so little lasting cultural effect on most people, that native Britons quickly gave up on maintaining things like the Roman baths once the Roman armies left.

                  On the gripping hand, if some climatologists are right that the weather went to you-know-where in a hand-basket after a massive volcanic eruption in the Sunda Strait 540 AD, causing crop losses and a population crash, then there were not enough people alive to 1) maintain a lot of things and 2) remember and otherwise preserve the technical information necessary to keep some practices alive. The legend of the Fisher King and the wounded land found in the Mabinogi and the Matter of Britain might stem from that event.

                  1. I worked every third weekend and most US holidays on an archeological dig called the “Raunds Area Project”. The villages we were unearthing were from the late 13th-early 14th century (until about 1370, when all the villagers were forced into Raunds, the largest “city” in the area. It was an unusual spot. Before the dig was closed and the highway built in the area, the crew I worked with discovered everything from a neolithic gravesite through parts of a German bomber shot down nearby in 1944. Other things found were the remains of a 9th-century trade site for Danes, and the first known examples of the rise of a middle class in some of the villages, dating from the early 14th Century. It gave me a totally different understanding of how diverse British culture was, and why it continues outside London, much as it always was.

        2. Thanks for the suggestion. I’ve heard the name elsewhere.

          Is this something I should be reading if I’m wrestling with depression and anger, and want distraction rather than reinforcement?

          1. I read two of his 4 or five years ago. One set in his equivalent of Reconquista Spain (well, I don’t know that you can really call it “Spain” then, IRL or his universe. Anyhoo, the Iberian Peninsula) featuring an El Cid expy and the other set in (I believe) his equivalent to the declining roman empire – barbarians arriving the west, but culture still at least partly Roman, Eastern Empire still going strong. Something to do with a mosaicist, I believe. Of the two I most enjoyed the first one (The Lions of Al-Rassan, I think). I think the other one may have either had a sequel the library didn’t have, or been a sequel to a first book the library didn’t have (those two were the only ones the library had). At any rate, I felt like I was missing context for it somewhere. I don’t recall them being exceedingly depressing, and his universe is at once familiar and startlingly different, so I think it’d be rather good for a distraction. It has been a couple years since I read them, though.

            1. “El Cid expy” is not a criticism, by the way. I liked the book. For me, at least, part of the fun was in figuring out what parts of his universe’s history equated to various parts of history IRL.

              1. *sigh* the comment system appears to be hiding the post button when I finish typing in the comment box. attempting to reply by email, here goes:

                mhm, yes. Honestly, that’s part of why I find his universe so intriguing. A good part of what made Europe Europe was the effect of Christianity on the culture. With Kay having replaced the abrahamic religions with various pagan ones, you have a similar world, in the effect of population movements – arabic/northern african peoples moving on europe through spain, germanic peoples moving south, the general decline of Western Rome from an Empire into a series of kingdoms, but the religious imprint on the cultures being, I don’t know, very different and very similar at the same time, if that makes any sense. I’d hate to have to *live* in that world, but I find it fascinating to look at.

          2. The Daughter, on initally being asked, says that it has been a while since she read Sutcliff. When asked more directly if it were good for people wrestling with dpression and anger said, rather emphatically, “It is bad for people who do not like good historical fiction.” I do not know if that helps.

            1. I know Sutcliff, I was wondering about the Guy fellow. Frankly, Sutcliff might be a bit too much for me at the moment. I’ve been in a bad place for, say, the past four years or so, and I haven’t been able to read some of what I used to be able to handle. At the moment, I’m feeling especially so, but I expect food and sleep will sort some of that. I’m sure of that, rather, the food, at least, seems to be working.

              1. Sorry to hear this Bob–
                I am also having some problems with stress this last week. I need to get it under control because it is a big trigger for my disease–

                Good luck going your way–

                  1. I have been reading your stories Sarah– and I picked up some of Kate Paulk’s vampire convention series. That one made me laugh in places–

              2. Bob, Guy Gavriel Kay is not what I’d call fun distracting reading. Very distracting, yes, because he is an excellent writer. The Tolkien estate hired him to finish the Silmarillion. But, for example, “The Lions of Al Rassan” ends just as the Reconquesta did. And since two of the main characters are a Jew and a Moslem, it is a bit of a downer ending in some ways. His high fantasy works, the Fionavar Trilogy and “Tigana” also have happy/sad endings.

        3. In this line Bernard Cornwell’s series about Uhtred of Bebbanburg (aka The Saxon Chronicles) are very entertaining. They start with the Viking invasion and occupation of most of Britain and (so far) proceed through the death of Alfred.

          Cornwell presents a compelling depiction of what would have been “normal” for that era. While not particularly complimentary about Christians of the period he is an honest writer and offers the good as well as the ignoble.

          Plus, there are lots of sword fights.

      1. Eh. I read her as a child. Then I read her again as an adult. The anti-Christian jabs are more obvious now. (Perhaps because I read them in rapid succession and saw how often they came.)

  6. I don’t know. This election, the Democrats had massive fraud and a very, very good GOTV digital program and control of almost all the old fashioned media. The Republicans had a malfunctioning GOTV program that they first tried out THE DAY BEFORE THE ELECTION, a determination to ignore fraud, and part not all of Fox. But the rank and file of the leftist kids appear to be as ignorant as the nomenclatura of the Soviets seventy years on. And handing out M16s to the left-wing faithful, something like happened in Portugal with the Communist kids and the Uzis, ain’t gonna work. They’ll shoot themselves in the foot. I would advise you to keep alert to what’s going on in your town and your neighborhood, keep as much cash handy as you can. We’ll see.

      1. Human Wave can’t be non-partisan, in the scope of contemporary national politics. You take a philosophy that is forward-thinking, bent on enlisting the best of humanity in the furtherance of the best of humanity. A way of thinking that aims at the ends of personal freedom and personal responsibility. A method of training the young to think for themselves and to examine and analyze the accepted wisdom – for the flawed and for the sound – and to use those tools to forge their own future. Then drop it into a system run by elites divorced from the day-to-day reality of the uncommon common man, a system where obfuscation and doublespeak(think) is the order of the day. The ripples alone can – and will – change the entire system, but this is more like harmonic resonance, where the waves reverberate through the medium, gaining in power until the whole thing is shaken into a new shape. Messy, dangerous and probably a whole lot of fun. Also, decidedly partisan, if not a friend of the established.

      2. Human Wave is decidedly non-partisan, but at least one political party is decidedly anti-Human Wave. The other is neutral, not wanting to commit itself in case they get called names ending in -ist.

        Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
        Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
        The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
        The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
        The best lack all conviction, while the worst
        Are full of passionate intensity.

  7. I was a child and a teen during the 60’s and 70’s, but I had old parents, my mother was nearly 40 when I was born. Plus they ran a business, or actually two, my father’s garage and my mother was a seamstress who had worked in a small dressmaker’s shop in Helsinki during the 50’s, mostly making evening gowns, and had kept some of her former customers, older ladies who preferred to have their clothes made rather than buy mass produced ones. So I saw how the tightening of the rules affected their incomes. For one thing my father had two men working for him at one point, but had to let them go when the rules and regulations meant for protecting the rights of workers got to the point where he could no longer afford to keep them – as far as I remember part of the reason was money, but other part was the increasing paperwork they would have needed to keep up with if father had kept them. Employing them ceased to be something the business could benefit from, both of my parents got a bit more free time and still made almost as much money without them as they would have made with them.

    Now you see stories in newspapers how the younger generations of Finns are very reluctant to start their own businesses, preferring to work for somebody else, or if fired and unable to find a job, rather staying on unemployment benefits. And how that’s a big problem, and what should be done about it. Most offered solutions seem to include something like easier access to all kinds of starter finances packages. Heh. No talk about how maybe trying to make running a business a bit more simple, and a bit less risky, might be a good idea.

    I guess, in spite of all, I am also somewhat optimistic that this just won’t go on forever, at least not everywhere. But it would be nice to see something good happen in my lifetime. And I’m scared change may require that things get a lot worse first – if you, say, work in a secure job and never have any kind of run ins with the law, either by unwittingly breaking a law and being caught doing that (as possible here as in your country, lots of laws and regulations and not all of them anywhere near obvious to the average citizen) or becoming the victim of a crime, you can sail on without really noticing that you really aren’t anywhere close to being as free as you might imagine you are, and that all those laws and regulations don’t actually guarantee that there is that sort of justice most of us still understand as justice.

    1. We haven’t even started on too much regulation discussions much here, and the news only talks a bit (after all, regulations are BOOOORING), but the increased regulations we’re seeing might be the most deadly thing of all. I understand hundreds have been written just in the past few weeks. Billions are lost just in compliance with stupid regulations that accomplish nothing.

      No, I’m not against getting rid of all regulation, not by a long shot, but I’m ready to get rid of most of them. It all needs to be zero-based. But fat chance of that happening when it means the government elite would lose power.

      1. Watch if EPA actually files their “close down all coal fired power plants” regulations which are rumored to have 50 bureaucrats working on them, an unprecedented number (they might not file it, it could have been a contingency if Obama lost). Faster but not quite total collapse, or very possibly a counter-revolution of a peaceful or perhaps so not type could well follow if much of fly-over country starts enjoying rolling blackouts every day (the coasts are much less dependent on domestic coal fired plants). Regional warfare has consequences.

        1. Lina, Oh lovely, no more coal plants and they want to convert to electric cars. Well, no one said they could think. Does this make world wide communism/socialism the equivalent of the seven pieces of the great Dark Lord Ruby Eyed Shabranigdo? If only we could harness the power of your Dragon Slave. It may be possible we shall need the Giga Slave, my dear. 😉

          I can see it:

          “Darkness beyond twilight. Crimson beyond blood that flows. Buried in the stream of time is where your power grows. In thy great name, I pledge myself to conquer, all the foes who stand, before the mighty gift bestowed in my unworthy hands. Let the fools who stand before me be destroyed, by the power you and I posses: Dragon Slave!”

          Of course the problem is that the effects of the Dragon Slave is not exactly what you would call controlled:

          1. I’m sure you say this mostly in jest, but modeling Communism as shards of Shabranigdo has it merits. Massive death and destruction, in short darkness (used by Arthur Koestler to title his Darkness at Noon) inevitably follows fully giving into it (USSR, PRC and Democratic Kampuchea (Cambodia) only the most notorious examples, the veil is still over the DPRK).

            And since the Dragon Slave draws on Shabranigdo’s power, it’s useless for fighting a fragment if it. Nothing but the Giga Slave will do, and the range of outcomes of that maps not unreasonably with collapse (Perfect) or semi-collapse (Imperfect); a good outcome is iffy, the end of “everything” (Mad Max, a new Dark Age) certainly possible (unlikely unhappy Portugal, no one to help sustain us through our tribulations).

            Side note: you are the first to ever recognize this handle, then again this is the blog of a SF author.

            1. Glad to make your acquaintance. It was in part jest, but there is a parallel. I am glad to see it expanded upon it so nicely, thank you. Just because ‘they’ use power in an inappropriate manner it does not justify your similar use. Doing that only corrupts you and turns you into something like them.

              From Akira Kurosawa, who she discovered at twelve, The Daughter went on the discover Anime. Anime became a thing she and I did together. (The Spouse and she do SF-cons together.) She turned me to a fan of Anime in part through the Slayers series. I now serve on the staff of an Anime con.

            2. I also recognized the name. I guess I’m just not in the habit of commenting on such things.

      2. Those of us who came of age before blogs, came of age to feeling like we were insane. EVERYTHING and everyone from newspapers, to our teachers to our favorite novelists/film makers told us a centralized economy was better and to think otherwise was heresy.

        Your US political history is excellent, especially for someone who didn’t experience it back then. But some of us never fell into the thrall of the left (what I call the paleo-conservative path, whatever the end point). We may be too small in number to have mattered, though.

      3. Arrrgh; the above should have been a new thread, not part of this unrelated thread. #@$*&# commenting software, especially in lacking a preview feature.

      4. Quote George McGovern!

        A man who thought he could run the USA could not run a Bed & Breakfast and was stunned at the regulation he faced.

  8. America is a mortal thing, and like all mortal things must ultimately perish.

    America is also an aberration in human history and prehistory. I also consider an aberration any society with rule of law or a male death rate due to violence lower than 20%.

    This abnormally is also an unusual things, swimming against the general tendency of human society.

    I see no physical reason why the United States must be followed by an equal or improved society.

    My understanding of the mechanics of human systems convinces me that the ultimate end of the progressives goes towards or below the natural baseline of human society.

    (Remember, there is no physical reason why a society structured according to progressive whims must continue to exist or function. However, history and pre-history tells us that the myriad typical societies existed and propagated for quite some time.)

    Barring the second coming, no matter how long the United States lives, I can see it as nothing but a speck, dwarfed by the surrounding sea of greater evil and greater dysfunction. (I am mapping human systems over space and time in this chart.)

    The United States was perhaps improbable in the first place. I’m not saying that a successor is impossible. Maybe improbable, but definitely far from certain.

    Previous societies had heirs that were able to build higher, because in failing, they didn’t manage to destroy all of what made them successful in the first place. Repeated failures may have left an accumulation of ‘what makes a society function’, giving future societies more to build with. Suppose that in developing a more capable and robust society, it becomes possible to destroy not just most of that society’s own developments, but a good chunk of what it inherited from the ones that came before, before everything comes crashing down.

    Change is inevitable. Directed or not, intended or not, the results for human society are pretty much impossible to manipulate or control. Sooner or later a society will change the foundations of what made it function out from under itself.

    1. *sigh* abnormality not abnormally in the third paragraph. Anyway, chalk me up as also being in the ‘certain of my enemies, if fully successful, will destroy themselves, and take others with them’ school of thought.

  9. Great rant.

    Re this bit:

    > in the end it is the progressives standing athwart history yelling “stop.”

    Indeed. I live in one of the bluest towns in one of the bluest states (Massachusetts), and for a while was a member of a town-wide email list. At one point one of the local school teachers was discussing Cuba. I challenged her on her support for a communist dictatorship that imprisoned dissenters. She defended Cuba imprisoning counter-revolutionaries because “the gains that the nation had made in health care had to be preserved”.

    In America. A public school teacher. Was defending communists jailing thought criminals.

    The mind boggles.

    …but there’s a glimmer of light there.

    She supported Castro, and both of them supported using force. Because only a truncheon and a cage are powerful enough to even have a CHANCE of fighting against free people and free ideas.

    Your dreams of socialist command-and-control are dead. They can destroy untold wealth and untold lives, but they’re dead things, and eventually the rot will cause them to collapse under their own weight.

    Freedom will win in the end.

    The guilty may not be punished (FDR and Ted Kennedy should have met their ends kicking at the end of a rope, not in bed), but we don’t need vengeance. We just need to win. And we will.

    1. FDR very nearly got his. The story has been told by Allen Drury as nonfiction in his “Senate Diary”, and fictionally in “Advise and Consent.” (Of course, “Advise and Consent” mixes in a lot of Alger Hiss, etc., so it’s a bit harder to make out the “Senate Diary” story.) Allen Drury’s novels are well-worth reading.

    2. “the gains that the nation had made in health care had to be preserved”

      Never mind that the gains haven’t occurred and that health care has in fact regressed. It amazes me that people can refuse to believe George W Bush didn’t cause the 9/11 attack but will believe Castro’s statistics. People who believe government statistics probably believe you can create wealth out of thin air simply by printing money.

  10. Reading back over my first several posts here (after lurking and madly fanboying Sarah for years and years), I realized they sure seem gloomy. Maybe I got the Cassandra-izing out of my system, but today I’m with Sarah: If we can keep everything spinning, fighting just enough to keep possibilities open and delaying any real collapse until the right technologies mature, we will be able to displace laterally and bypass the efforts to “fundamentally change” America.

    Even as they celebrate their political wins by gloating and offering faux-concerned-advice in comment sections across the blogosphere, it really must be enormously frustrating to adhere to any of the commu-social-progressi-anti-American team these days – no matter what they do, their grand plans keep falling just short. They can’t implement quite enough control to close the deal, and technological developments keep popping up that ARE NOT IN THE PLAN!!

    Think about it. Just as the “my Liege, I have a Cunning Plan” folks on the other side succeed in total control of the mainstream media, to the point they no longer feel they need to pretend to political impartiality, the whole edifice totters towards collapse, and at the same time it’s being replaced by a totally uncontrolled (and uncontrollable) distributed new media. Just when they finally nail down ownership of traditional academia, it also teeters towards the edge, and here comes uncontrolled distributed online education without the overhead of medievalist credentialism. Sarah’s detailed the death throes of traditional big publishing – just as they finally can openly control the message, the damn writers escape laterally into electronic publishing and the signal is getting out anyway!

    I’m about Sarah’s age, growing up in Silicon Valley, watching and then participating in the mad race for the newest coolest new tech. My age cohort were the ones who got to play with computers for the first time in high school, and we ended up being early adopters of each wave of new technology, whether PCs, cell phones, the internet or the web. We also started or worked in multiple startups, got used to surviving constant rapid disruptive change, worked with other smart folks from all around the world who embraced the American dream, helping to spread more agents of disruptive change worldwide. We internalized an understanding of how technology, and disruptive change, and creative destruction, and spreading the means of that change, and increasing personal choice and freedom always make things better.

    None of this would have been possible without the environment provided by this mad dream of America, and I’m optimistic that this pace of disruptive technological change will enable just such an end run around the clever planners who want to choke this off, as long as I and others work to confound the central planners and enable the disruptors.

    And as I look at who wants that change to continue and wants freedom to spread, and who wants to stop all this chaotic uncontrolled unregulated unseemly self directed self fulfillment, I see that Sarah is right – our opposition are the ones doing all the standing athwart.

    Their problem is we’re just going to go around them.

    1. Oh turnips! Have you considered that the reason that these various institutions are beginning to fail is the fact that the progressives have taken control. Progressivism, because of its very nature, in and of itself will fail. The appearance of new technologies assuredly aids in the survival process — and hopefully the rebirth of liberty.

        1. Some day, when all the (currently) dominant publishers are in tatters and the near-Marxists who work there are on the bread lines, I’d love to hear you and others name names!

      1. Have you considered that the reason that these various institutions are beginning to fail is the fact that the progressives have taken control.

        Nah. Pure coincidence. No connection whatsoever. Cause and effect, like math and the scientific method, are white male constructs of class oppression.

        These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Move along.

        1. Such failures as do occur are the result of counter-revolutionary forces, retrograde conspiracies and conservative obstructionism. If the ladies would just put out willingly we could completely eliminate the crime of rape. End the concept of property and theft is also at an end. Properly viewed, death is just an illusion caused by entropy; abandon sequentiality and embrace the simultaneous universe and nobody need ever die – they just transition. Double-plus good good!

  11. I am of the generation born post 1970, child of boomer parents that grew up in a world of unions and hippies but were neither themselves, came of age in the 80’s and witnessed the rise of the modern communications world. One of those that takes to it like a fish in water.

    As I see it, modern communications have been born in several stages, each stage was a milestone in the progress of human society. These stages could not have been planned for before they were given birth, and their transformational qualities could not be foreseen during the eras in which they came about.

    The first transformative event (as I see it) was the movable type press. The transformational aspect of this invention was not in the mechanics of making the printed page easier, although that was a huge labor cost reducer, and helpful. It was rather in the ability to remove from those gatekeepers of knowledge the ability to restrict access to information. At the time this was mainly the various organized Churchs and principalities.

    Knowledge that was prior restricted to only the elite ruling classes was now available to the general educated classes. These were still a minority of the population as only a minority were even literate, but over several generations the availability of this mass produced knowledge allowed succeeding generations to increase literacy/education.

    Telegraph/telephone/radio/television have also been just as transformative, speeding up infinitely the dissemination of information.

    The future of media is going to be rooted in just as disruptive a medium transformation that is the internet. This is going to change the nature of information/ideas/education et. al. just as much as Guttenberg’s press. What the final resulting shape of society will be once historians are able to look back and formulate their ideas, none of us living through it now will be likely to guess.

    1. Actually, a lot of the early days ruling classes didn’t want knowledge. They hired knowledge, just like CEOs today. Or there was a strict division of knowledge: Early Frankish noblemen studied war and ruling, and left booklearning and other knowledge to the women of the house. 🙂

  12. The problem is the media. It’s the media that enthusiastically broadcasts liberal propaganda, paints conservatives as villains, conceals the Obama administration’s crimes and catastrophes, and provides idiot liberals with the lies they believe and repeat.

    This election demonstrated that bloggers aren’t enough. We can win the war of blog comments and Twitter hashtag jokes, and still lose the election. Especially since social media are gradually sorting themselves into rival political bubbles.

    Therefore we must concentrate on the mass media. A few people have urged boycotts of movies and music by performers or directors who are liberal assholes, but I doubt that could make a dent — especially since it’s very hard to link the box-office performance of a film to the general attitude of its executive producer.

    The media do have one collective Achilles Heel which we should be attacking. The liberal shits who work in media — both the performers and the producers — are pretty horrible people. We should be investigating them, digging up every shameful or criminal incident in their lives, and using it to smash them. The beauty of this approach is that there is no retaliation to worry about. Conservatives in media already face constant scrutiny and attacks.

    Andrew Breitbart, God rest him, understood this. We need to carry on and expand his work.

    Specific steps:

    Funding: this needs money, but not a huge amount of money. The biggest single expense would be hiring private investigators in New York and Los Angeles, and that can be done when the cash becomes available. A “tip line” Web site would be nice, but not essential. A legal advisor would be good — and would have to be utterly discreet and reliable. As explained below, it’s very important to conceal any connection between donors and

    The main channel to get this stuff out would not be conservative media. Too many liberals simply tune that out or dismiss it as “right-wing smears.” We feed the trash right back into the liberal media machine. Develop a relationship with various reporters both in print and broadcast, and give them the dirt on their rivals. The beauty is that while media whores would reflexively protect Obama, say, or Hillary Clinton, they won’t have the same attitude toward Jon Stewart or Rachel Maddow. (Stewart should be the highest-priority target. I sincerely believe he is the most influential man in America right now.) Discoveries about genuine crimes can of course be referred to law enforcement.

    It’s important that this operation NOT have a public face. Nothing the liberal media can discredit or demonize. They are very good at that. Just quietly feed tips to the media. Stay off the radar.

    1. Pretty-much this — I find it appalling that the Right actually thinks they can win a Street Fight using Marquis-of-Queensbury rules.

      Oh. *HELL*. NO. Kneecap the enemy. Smash his ‘nads. Gouge his eyes. Kidney-punch. And “never kick a man when he down” — can you tell me a *better* time? If nothing else: He’s *that much closer to your foot*!

      And remember this: The only time a shark second-guesses itself is when it swings around to see if the diver remembered to bring a swim buddy. Show no fear — and no mercy.

      1. Kneecap the enemy. Smash his ‘nads. Gouge his eyes. Kidney-punch. And “never kick a man when he down” — can you tell me a *better* time? If nothing else: He’s *that much closer to your foot*!

        Metaphorically only, of course.

        The error that conservatives are prey to is the belief that Progressives engage in good faith politics. It is time to make them prove their good faith. No more accepting Democrat operatives in journolist clothing for debate moderators and questioners; fair and balanced should be the rule. No more accepting the underlying premise of Progressive reporters’ questions; Newt Gingrich showed how to use their own smugness against them.

        Until we do that we’re just Elmer Fudd trying to box Daffy Duck:

        Go to 2’34”

  13. So technologically it seems t me that we need “big” solutions less and less. And that means less need for government.We’re almost at the high-tech self-sufficiency. You need a 3d printer, an efficient way to store hydrogen and not much space for crops and some system for storing/reusing water. Given that you can live a comfortable self sufficient high tech lifestyle pretty much anywhere with no income or expenses of a monetary nature. This will of course utterly screw the tax base of major “big state” nations becasue at this point going Galt will be simple. I’d expect pacific islands, some African states and other similar places to get an influx of people with lots of high tech skills and no desire to pay many taxes. Also I’d expect the various “sea steader” ideas to pan out at this point and thus we enter the world of DST…

      1. Oh and this also makes space travel more practical. And the small staters are hevily involved in private space travel so the old SF trope of the libertarian colony on Mars/the Moon/some random asteroid becomes entirely plausible.

        Sign me up. Oh wait on I guess I already am

    1. It is a pretty dream, but for self sufficiency, you need to be able to repair the printer, including makeing new integrated circuits and you need to be able to create the feedstocks for the printer yourself. Also, you need a way to make high strength metal objects. While the technology will reduce demand on centralized production facilities, it will not eliminate it.

  14. Your optimistic view is unlikely. Too many people are sucking from the teats of the federal sow, so the left wing will continue to dominate national politics until the federal government goes broke. The federal government will delay going broke by printing more money. We will have years of severe inflation and then a general economic collapse before the government dies. After the collapse, the small government advocates will have a chance (not a certainty) to rebuild the national government. However, other government choices, such as dictatorship or theocracy, are more likely after a collapse.

  15. It is true…one thing history teaches us is that you can’t stop the human spirit…you can’t stop individualism…you can’t stop freedom! Yay!!

  16. I participate on several political web forums and on one of them, that has an international group of users, I got into a discussion with a Greek fellow about the pain his country is going through right now. I made mention that ultimately, it was the Greeks own fault, insofar as they’ve voted some pretty generous social & retirement benefits for a country that has such a small economy and slipshod tax system. I guess I’m not sure what response I was expecting, but maybe I thought at least a partial acknowledgement that in at least some ways, the Greeks had made their own bed.


    It was all the fault of the dictatorship of the banks that had tricked the Greeks into borrowing a great deal of money that they couldn’t service. What could I say? If you can’t accept, at this late date the culpability of the Greek voter to their own situation, I’m guessing you’ll never figure it out.
    And speaking of the Greeks, as far back as Plato the classicists saw the inevitable end of democracy resulting in a tyranny. Certainly the rise of far left and far right parties in Greece seems to be an indicator of where Greek politics will be going.

    So that’s why the election left me pessimistic in a way that no other election in my lifetime has. Buckley had it right; we are standing athwart history yelling stop. It’s not a “historical inevitability” of Marxism we’re facing but the historical cycle of democracy heading towards tyranny once the voters realize they can vote themselves the treasury. That has probably been true for a while and I was just too blind to see it. However besides being, as Mark Steyn says, “the brokest nation in history.” we’re also the richest. So I’ve no idea how long we can eat our seed corn. But eventually we’ll run out.

    1. > It was all the fault of the dictatorship of the banks that had tricked the Greeks into borrowing a great deal of money that they couldn’t service.

      It’s NEVER anyone’s own fault. It’s always the more successful people’s fault.

      Borrowed $170k for a MFA degree, so that you can now make $8/hr serving espresso while trying to sell a story to the New Yorker? The banker’s fault.

      Borrowed $500k for a condo you were going to flip but then couldn’t? Real estate agent’s fault.

      Borrowed $200 billion to let your unionized ouzo-sipping government employees retire at 50? The German’s fault.

      Increased the US national debt to $17 Trillion to launch “recovery summer”? Bush’s fault.

  17. I took the “standing athwart history, yelling ‘STOP!'” line to be at least a bit tongue in cheek– the progressives/left are always on and on about how history is on their side.

    The… ornery root of Conservatism is something I like, honestly. It’s best when it’s paired with good cheer– Reagan, and Limbaugh, and my incredibly irascible family!

  18. The main problem I can see here: The Other Side is *also* firmly convinced it is going to win. The history of war is strewn with groups who were convinced they would win — “Gott mit uns”, “Forward to Richmond!”, “Home by Christmas”, etc. It’s remarkable to note how all those groups *lost*; the winners were the ones who kept the slogans to a minimum, and the kicking-the-other-guy’s-ass-black-and-blue to a maximum.

    “Deeds, Not Words” — motto of Megaforce. 🙂

  19. Count me among the ten-years prior generation and count me among the dismally inclined, but not for the reasons you describe.

    I am dismally inclined because I believe human nature is fundamentally flawed, that most people have to be taught to actually think and that few will bother to try and fewer will have the talent to try successfully.

    The species is prone to degenerative spirals of the sort expressed by yossarian in Catch-22:

    “From now on I’m thinking only of me.”
    Major Danby replied indulgently with a superior smile: “But, Yossarian, suppose everyone felt that way.”
    “Then,” said Yossarian, “I’d certainly be a damned fool to feel any other way, wouldn’t I?”

    None of which makes me inclined to meekly submit, merely that I recognize entropy will eventually win — which is why the battle against it is so bloody Glorious.

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