It’s Time For the Grownups To Come Home

There seems to be in human civilization a great seesaw like movement between forward movement and a great forgetting, a shedding of the fetters of civilization.

Normally this takes extraordinary measures by the country’s rulers.  China’s history is infuriating to read, because they advanced so far so fast and then got caught in this cycle of civilizational forgetting, of running away from everything they’d known and been.  Honestly the last one, the Cultural Revolution, was less successful than the others because the rest of the world remembered for them.

But when studying a civilization, you shouldn’t have to say “The Emperor who burned all the books?” and be answered, “Which one?”

Those emperors usually also set a death penalty on story tellers and grandmas who told stories were persecuted.

But the mania isn’t only Chinese.  The French Revolution not only tried to install all new things, but it was part of its mandate to forget the past.  Forget, ignore, forge forward and remember nothing.

In Portugal, I had the haziest idea of the past, from around the Napoleonic invasions to the time I was born.  It simply wasn’t taught, and instead we were sold a carefully constructed narrative of a forward movement culminating in the — current till the end of elementary school — national socialist government that promised cradle to grave care, and also to protect us from all pernicious foreign influence, disruptive ideas and just about everything they deemed bad for us. It wasn’t until I was in the States as a young married woman that I could study that period in depth and find that in many ways it consisted of several waves of erasing the past and replacing it with an idealized one, always pointing to whatever the current regime was as the culmination of all hopes.  It was also the only way to make sense of some of the stories grandma told, which seemed to refer to a different country altogether.

Note that no books were burned — I think the last ones to attempt that were Hitler and his ilk.

You see, I suspect — no way to prove it — that when books were scarce and few knew how to read each new king that arose, each new policy was hailed as a brand new beginning and the best ever, and people living through it were willing to be convinced it was the best ever.  In Europe of the time, most books wouldn’t need to be burned as they were — as I said — few and far between and those who could read them — mostly in the church — were either cloistered and separated from the people or the sons of noble families who did their best to support the power for the sake of their relatives.

And there hinges all these attempts at forgetting: you see, if people remember the past, if they can compare the present to the past, then the new ruler is judged more harshly and real signs of progress — or at least not of regress — are demanded.  The attempts the ruler makes of taking power and doubling down on it, and doing the same stupid thing under another name are repelled.

It is only when people have forgotten the past that they are all too willing to remember they live in the best time ever, that they are better off than their parents, that society is “advancing towards a perfect future.”  That arrow that our counterparts are so fond of.

This means instead of advised and often careful changes, or even the carefully thought out and past-grounded framework the founders lay down for the USA, we have people who want to erase the past, to change the names of the days of the week, to change the units of measurement, to merrily go tramping down the path of insanity like the blinded fool stepping into the abyss.

(But days of the week and measurements aren’t that big a deal, say you.  True.  It’s just an example from the French Revolution.  And it might seem trivial to you, but to a largely illiterate society not only did the changing of the names erase the memory of Roman times — which might or might not be intentional; the memory being hazy — but it also erased the way the year had always been lived.  Medieval peasants — subarbanshee in the comments can slap me if I’m wrong, but I’m going not only on what I’ve read but on how the traditional/fairly illiterate parts of society behaved when I was growing up — lived their lives by rote, anchored into the feasts of the church. Stuff like “plant thy wheat by such and such feast.” The feasts of the church were anchored in turn to things like “second Tuesday in May” and there were rhymes and ways of remembering, should the church forget or not be around to remind you.  Removing the days and the length of the weeks left the peasants floating in a context-free time, in which they had, in self-defense to rely on their betters, the self-proclaimed revolutionary leaders, to do the simplest things in life.  They also lost contact with the past.  Their older relatives, afraid saying the wrong word would get them beheaded as royalists, had to avoid talking of the past.)

So, how do you do that to a society, how you give it a forgetting drought, when society is permeated through with books and filled with other records of the past?

I think the idea might have come about from seeing Japan (or even Germany) remake itself after World War II.  The idea was magnificently employed by the USSR’s propaganda arm, but also encouraged by the facet of our society that thought that communism was inevitable, knew that it wasn’t ideal, but thought it would be better if they eased people into it by degrees without their realizing where it was going.  It also, to be fair, promised them great power, which is usually the reason for the great forgetting.

The instrument employed was a culture change, in which not only did everything old and the opinion of any one (older than 30, if I remember) not matter, but also it was “uncool” to think of those times and ALSO the apparatus of remembering: mass culture, entertainment, movies, books, everything else was deployed not to pretend the past didn’t exist but to give a different view of it.  The fifties (to take an example) were not paradise.  They were the culmination of a rather authoritarian time.  On the other hand, they were not nearly (save for certain, mostly upper class people)as authoritarian and restrictive as we have been told.  The Victorian era, perhaps suffers most greatly from this remaking (because in many ways in terms of individual liberty, it afforded more freedom than any of the twentieth century.)  Read any biography of the time, and you emerge realizing they had more freedom.  Yes, life was brutal and short, particularly for the poorer classes, but not as poor as it had been for their parents, and besides that was a function of technology, not government.  You also find that these people were a lot less… racist, sexist or homophobic than they’ve been portrayed.  Sure there was a pose, but in their dealings with individuals they were often more remarkably enlightened and humane than our contemporaries.

This great forgetting was essential.  The sixties and seventies were sold as liberation.  To an extent, as I said, this was somewhat needed, particularly in the workplace.  The men who had fought WWII under military regime came back and established the work place under the same sort of discipline.  Fit in or get out.

While this worked greatly, it would have stifled innovation, which is why the sixties was viewed as liberation.  It allowed unconventional thinkers in, and while a lot of what they created was “an habitat for lizards, because lizards are full of wisdom maaaaaaaaaaaaaaan”, the entire computer revolution and the admittedly non-showy progress in biochemics is the result of people who wouldn’t have/couldn’t have fit into corporate culture.

But for that we paid a great price, because most people who aren’t put together a little funny — hi guys! — are eager to fit in and generally need a structure.

The only structure our society really offers to those conformist minds is the “counterculture” which has long since become THE culture, even though its only purpose is the continual destruction of what remained of Western Civilization.

And because most people really want other people over there to stop doing the things that annoy them, this counterculture has set about merrily not only recreating but — devoid of reason for what they do, and thus devoid of barriers — making those restrictions even worse than those in the imagined past.  Sure, they are now forbidding men and women from consorting in public not for some religious reason but because Patriarchy causes micro aggressions and women are so special they must be protected from males’ previlege.  Sure they’re demanding modest clothes because someone’s beauty might oppress the other’s ugliness.  And I’ll warn gay people that they’re coming for you too and soon.  Consider it a shot over the prow that some feminists think gay males are discriminating against them by refusing to have sex with them.  Oh, and temperance is not the way because of religion, but because alcohol is bad for your health and it is totally our business because we want to pay for your health care.  Which leads to, under Obamacare, a woman who has a glass of wine with dinner every day being considered an alcoholic.  And don’t even think of smoking, hater.  Your fifth hand smoke on the walls will affect my unborn child.  (Even if there is NO evidence for this, real or imagined.)  (And pot smokers, they’re coming for you next.  If you don’t believe it, you didn’t see the tizzies our college administrators and other people with impeccable “progressive” credentials threw at legalization.)

The problem with this is not the every day restrictions.  Sure, they’re a bit crazy, and if it weren’t for people being sure that history comes with an arrow, thus both restricting parents’ willingness to talk and childrens’ willingness to listen, we’d already have realized we’re losing all individual autonomy in the guise of “respect” and “not exerting privilege” and “health” and “science.”

But worse than that is that this all encompassing movement, unmoored from the past and rooted only on that great stupid fable of Marxism, which never applied to anything in the real world and which is now being used for everything from economics to literary analysis, to, possibly, a theory of nursery rhymes, has caved in to mankind’s greatest longing for conformity and belonging.  The “Progressives” accept only one way of thinking (well, two if you believe in the image they project onto their enemies.)  If you don’t fit either of those, they want to destroy you and they succeed often in shunting you out of public and professional life.  (Not to mention politics, where, via the media, they’ve seized a complete hold.)

But as the stories of the Emperors-who-burned-books show, these great forgettings always come to a bad end, as the future becomes much worse than the past.

There is now, in the minds of those who want to belong, a command to forget everything/discount everything more than twenty years old.  Every generation, ill-taught and believing they’re the first true “free” one forges forward as wild children, trampling vestiges of freedom and civilization underfoot and believing they’re doing something QUITE new as they find themselves and everyone they can in bigger, stronger, heavier chains.

I don’t need to give examples.  Those are recent and you remember them.

The problem is that devoid of memory, the gods of the copybook headings are forgotten.  Things that have been attempted, and failed, and destroyed civilizations are being tried again and again.  One need only look at Venezuela to see that.

In a forum I’m in someone said it’s time for the adults to come home.  This is true, but in many cases that would require necromancy.  Most of the people who remember a western civilization that wasn’t ashamed of itself and that thought the past was only 20 years old, and beyond that was some great unimaginable oppression, is long gone.

I hate to quote Obama, and of course he said it only to enforce the idea that the new, new generation was doing something new-new and everything would be wornderful in the future.  (Free beer tomorrow!)

However, it is time for the adults, and there are no adults.  We who grew up raised by the “neglected children of World War II” about whom Heinlein was quite concerned, must now in our middle years become the adults we’ve been waiting for.  We must examine the past — the real one, not the media construction — discard what’s worth forgetting, listen to what’s worth keeping.  We must be serious because those older than us weren’t.  We must replace the capital both human, social and wealth, discarded in the great forgetting.

The adults have come home.  And they’re us.  The hat might be big, the high heels falling off our tiny feet, but we must take the Gods of the Copybook Headings for our teaching text and march on, recreating what’s been lost and slapping down the idea that destroying freedom and giving bitter people power is the way to freedom.  We must above all enshrine both self-ownership (yeah, I know, but if you view G-d as your master, that’s on you.  What I view is on me.  We do not have the right to impose it on others.) and self RESPONSIBILITY (sure you’re not going to follow these ancient dictates, fine, so long as you don’t harm your neighbors and don’t try to enslave them to your new dictats.)

It’s late and there’s trouble and war coming.  Do you hear the doorbell?  It’s the adults coming home.  Now take your finger from the button and cross your arms.

There are some children who need structure and discipline, who need teaching and grounding.  And some of them are older than us.

Adjust that too-big hat.  Learn to walk in much-too-big shoes.  We might not be the ones we’ve been waiting for, but we’re the only ones we have.

Go in and do the best you can.


232 responses to “It’s Time For the Grownups To Come Home

  1. And the only place men and women can consort publicly is the rest room.

    • Well, men have been doing it for a long time so why not let the ladies join the fun.

      Oh, wait, we arrest the men for it.

    • The locker rooms and showers are included as well.

      • I keep forgetting that…*flounces off to check my wardrobe for a visit to Curves*

        • You do realize that’s likely to get you whipped around the swimming pool by a bunch of Maenads, don’t you?

        • Some people don’t have anything but a slice of their future to promise against value received now. But “debt is slavery”.

          My preferred method of funding education is to let educational debt be a % of future earnings. If your underwater basket weaving dream can only be realized for 98% of your future, perhaps you should reconsider. And yet MIT might find a 2% deal worthwhile for .01% of its applicants.

          It has the right feedback loops, and with vigilance against oligarchic collusion it could even work.

          In what way exactly does protecting people from losing bets that leave them in fractional indentured servitude differ from the rest of nannyism?

          And at what fraction does the phase change occur? When do we get to say “Yep, that’s slavery alright”.?

          • I would propose that this can simply be done as follows: (Step 1) Get government out of the student loan business entirely, and (Step 2) Require that all student loans be privately financed, and subject to standard bankruptcy laws.

            This would return risk to lie on the backs of financiers; if you’re going to go to a credit union to get a loan, you will have to justify how you’re going to pay it back, and you’ll also have to demonstrate that you’ll likely be able to complete your schooling. Saying “Hey, I’m pursuing my dream!” isn’t going to fly, unless that dream involves something substantial, like accounting or engineering or medicine.

            • Mostly good; I’d like schools to also be enough on the hook to stop their lying to future students about how valuable a generic diploma will be.

              • Yes, but if people had to pay for their own / their kids’ education themselves, without the buffer of student loans, they’d learn to be more cautious and selective, too.

                • Yeah, I was pretty cautious/selective (got my engineering degree long enough ago I could do it with a combo of work and some small scholarships — parents couldn’t help much and I wasn’t about to borrow to do it.)
                  Still, there was a tendency to trust the greater presumed knowledge of the university about what my course of study should be; if I hadn’t picked STEM on my own, it’s scary what they might have led me into that had zero relationship to career satisfaction and earnings.

                  Now, if there were a tuition rebate for failure to find work in your field within X years, or some such thing, I suspect the uni’s student counseling would become much more practical.

  2. We don’t need just adults. We need the hard-nosed fathers who maintained discipline with a rod of iron. Whose first response to a disobedient child was a dose of the cane.

    • We have plenty of adults. But they seem to be mostly the sweaty type with stubble, an overcoat, and no pants.

    • William O. B'Livion

      Yeah, because the best way to raise a child to be independent and to think for themselves is to beat them at any hint of not following direction.

  3. In capitalism, the past is fixed and the future is malleable. In socialism, it’s the future that is constant, and the past which is constantly changing.

  4. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    It’s funny.

    A few years back a Liberal on Baen’s Bar (in Politics) talked about the “Grownups” needing to take control of the Republican Party.

    But of course, plenty of the Conservatives on the Bar wondered when the “Grownups” would take control of the Democratic Party.

    Note, the above was during George W Bush’s administration and things haven’t gotten better. 😦

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Cruz is of the younger generations. Trump is yet another senile boomer.

  5. > lizards are full of wisdom
    > maaaaaaaaaaaaaaan”

    Yeah, but how can you tell. According to Hunter S. Thompson, the lizards can’t wire up a public address system worth a darn…

    (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas)

    • Joe in PNG

      (Imagines HST drugged and paranoid ravings about lizards and alcohol, laughs)

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      That’s just what the Reptiloids from the Twelfth Planet want you to think!

  6. darleenclick

    yesterday I engaged with a college student in a long debate – and during the course of it, I challenged her insistence that war never had to take place if people just sat down and talked, I asked her how that had turned out for Chamberlain.

    She had no answer – she wouldn’t even consider answering it because she vaguely remembered something about WWII from high school, but since it had no relevance to her life she not only wasn’t curious about it but was insistent that because it happened so long ago there was nothing to learn from it. WWII for her was, like, you know, ANCIENT history – on par with Tutankhamen.

    And oh … I’m just some old relic who doesn’t know current culture so I obviously have nothing of relevance to contribute.

    Our educational system is hard at work making future citizens who are incapable of judgement or self-rule.

    By design.

    • I’d like to see folks like that sit down and talk it out with Attila the Hun or Genghis Khan. “Ok, so you want to destroy our cities, rape our women, and carry our children into slavery. We…. don’t want that. Now, where can we find middle ground?”

      • That’s “compromise.” You give them half the women and children, they go away happy. (the women and children, maybe not so happy)

        Then they come back and negotiate another compromise. And you give them half of the half you have left.

        Continue the process until you’re down to one each, and no compromise is practical. Then they haul out the firepower and just take them.

        • I think Kipling had some wise words on the subject of Danegeld…

        • Randy Wilde

          Then they come back and negotiate another compromise. And you give them half of the half you have left.

          I’m sure the Danes will leave after we pay them danegeld.

        • Feather Blade

          Well hey, they had great success with that strategy when they employed it against gun owners, so what could possibly go wrong?


          • William O. B'Livion

            You mean how in the last 20 years we’ve gone from a handful of states with concealed carry to *every* state in the nation having some form?

            Where there are only 3 states with “may issue” and one territory (Virgin Islands)

            With only 2 territories (American Somoa and N. Mariana Islands) completely denied.

            You mean where the SCOTUS said no, individuals DO have a right to keep and bear arms, and where an Illinois Judge basically DEMANDED that Illinois State Government come up with an Shall Issue law?

            And how we went from a “Assault Weapons Ban” in 1994 (which in part cost the Democrats the house and severely put the Senate In Play) to now an environment where there’s pressure on congressmen to make Silencers easier to get, and where there’s an increasing number of folks getting Short Barrel Rifle tax stamps.

            We gun nuts like to act like, and respond like we’re surrounded and under siege, but I can walk into any one of a half dozen national chains and under *federal* law can walk out with anything from tiny little .380 that I can keep in my pocket to a magazine fed military pattern rifle.

            So yeah, it’s kinda like how the Left keeps asking to compromise and getting what they want and losing anyway.

            Well, in most states. California and the “New England” states, well when one find’s oneself in Mordor one throws the f*king ring in the f*king volcano and goes back to more green and pleasant lands.

            • Well, that happened (to large extent) because the gun-controllers forgot that you can only suppress explicitly guaranteed rights by keeping the suppression in the realm of social mores and propaganda. By embodying their ideas in law, they made them vulnerable to … uh, “clarification”. Granted, it happened quicker because of Justices like Alito; it would probably have happened eventually.

        • Danelaw.

      • Forget that, I’d love to see them try that with Putin, Kim Jong Il, or any of the folk we captured in Iraq. Any of them.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Well, with those folks you can “disguise” the fact that you got the bad end of the “deal”, at least for a while.

          With somebody like Genghis, Attila, or Hitler, it’s harder to do so. 😦

          • Wouldn’t it depend on whether it was a man or a woman trying to negotiate with them?

            • That is why you fail as you insist on binary gendered negotiators. Now, if you would just allow a genderqueer primal to do the negotiating it would all be good.

              • I’m glad I put my drink down before reading that. Frying work computer = bad.

                • What is really odd is after I typed that I realized it could describe several people I know…oddly most of them would find it as funny as you did (one I’m not sure about but they are young).

                  • I’m trying to imagine the one person I know who fits your description being asked to go scold Putin and tell him to behave. This individual would give me a very concerned look, wondering if I had lost my mind, and would say “No way” while using vocabulary I can’t use on this blog to describe my foolishness at the very thought. Granted, this individual also wants a walnut-stock, engraved, Sharp’s .50 buffalo gun, so I’m not certain who would be Odder.

                    • One of the one I thought of would probably respond something along the lines of, “Do I have to limit my telling to words?”

                      Then again, when asked by some other people how she got one person who can be a tad obnoxious to behave she said he knew she’d beat him. The others said they had said the same thing so she had him come over and explain that he knows she means it while the others not so much.

                    • Anonymous Coward

                      That is pretty Odd. Getting a Sharps in 45-70 is so much more practical than one in the 50 caliber cartridges.

                    • William O. B'Livion

                      > . Getting a Sharps in 45-70 is so much more practical than one in the 50 caliber cartridges.

                      Not really.

                    • There doesn’t seem to be much interest in the .50-90 or .50-110. The black powder target guys seem to be drifting down to the .40 caliber range nowadays.

                  • I will say it was quite a bit of a grim humor, as I remember some of the folk we caught in Iraq…

            • It might. In certain cultures – say Arab – women are discounted, and sending one to deal could be seen as a major insult. This may be politically incorrect, but it’s the truth. Unless, that is, you can rub their noses in the dreck enough that they’ll take you seriously. Which is why Golda Meir could deal with Arabs. They knew that if they messed with her, she’d kill them. Madeleine Albright, on the other hand, if you messed with her she’d tell the UN on you.

        • Heh, only not funny. There seem to be plenty of Finns who think we have nothing to fear from Russia as long as they do not see us as a threat (hence fierce resistance towards even considering the NATO option – which we may have, or not). Doesn’t occur to them that perhaps Russia might also act based on seen opportunity, not just react to perceived threats. The same way Stalin’s Soviet Union did not all that long ago.

          And when you try to bring that up they either get angry or deep in denial. Because we are civilized now, and why would they, and it just would not happen nowadays, and peaceful trading and co-operation makes so much more sense, and…

          • And yes, because USA would be either worse or at least equally bad, and NATO is run by USA, so nonononono.

            • Yep. I kept hearing this crap back in the cold war.

              • Seems to be damn resilient idea, no matter what reality looks like that still gets brought up regularly. Mostly by these oh so daring (they think) rebels against the society types. 😡

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              In fairness, the United States can be a pretty unreliable ally. In another country’s place, I’d be hesitant to rely on the United States for survival. Even disregarding how poorly we care for ourselves, our foreign policy cannot be trusted more than four years in advance.

              Barring medical complications or convention shenanigans beyond we’ve had in decades, Trump or Clinton is going to be the next President. Neither has a consistent set of principles in regard to foreign policy.

              Clinton is a leftist, and for sale. One or two of her senior cronies have sold their services as lobbyists to a Russian bank that a Russian intelligence service uses for cover.

              Trump is a conman, and has said that NATO might be abandoned. (He is also a New York liberal with personal ties to Russians. Also a womanizer.) One of his cronies (Manafort) was involved in one of Putin’s projects in the Ukraine. There are allegations of ties to the Russian mob. Trump is known to have ties to organized crime figures, and has been saying many things that could be considered pro-Putin.

          • And barbarians don’t care. Why should they get just a share when they can grab it all? Yeah. We have our own of that sort on this side of the Atlantic. Russia is a society I have studied for various reasons. Putin is one of the more terrifying men on the planet.

          • So the invasion of the Crimean bits of Ukraine really didn’t happen? And they have no idea why Ukraine’s song won that Eurovision thing?

            • Those types generally seem to be pretty good with rationalizing. A real art form with them. 😦

              • Or maybe the suspicion often raised on forums, when that subject comes up is actually correct, at least to some degree: some of those most vocal opponents of the NATO option are fifth columnists, or are actually posting from Russia.

                Who knows. Maybe some really are. But the fact remains that the attitude is way too prevalent among for certain real Finns too. Has a lot to do with the Soviet-positive propaganda which was common when half of the now adults were growing up and was fed to us by both schools and our media. Which originated from the position this country was in after the wars – we kept our independence in some ways, no occupation, we didn’t become part of Soviet Union, but in some ways we also lost a lot of it, there were decades when Finland very much had to keep on bowing that way. When the threat of a new war was mostly gone the financial dependency remained, a lot of Finland’s economy was supported by the commerce with the Soviets.

                • BobtheRegisterredFool

                  One of the #NeverTrump figures on twitter claimed that a lot of Trump’s twitter supporters looked like botnet astroturf. Allegations of Russian involvement were made.

            • Joe in PNG

              Well, look at pre-WWII Belgium. You would think after Germany had used their neutrality treaty as toilet paper once before, and that Hitler was in the regular habit of using treaties as toilet paper, that Belgium wouldn’t be so confident in their neutrality treaty to keep Germany out.

            • Oh, but those uppity Ukrainians were asking for it. They dared to say “No” to something that the Russians wanted. As long as we don’t do that, we’ll all get along and everything will be civilized.

          • Because we are civilized now, and why would they, and it just would not happen nowadays, and peaceful trading and co-operation makes so much more sense, and…

            The economic argument is kind of amusing, in a twisted sense, to those who recall who was France’s biggest trading partner shortly prior to 1940…

        • Baron von Cut-n-Paste

          Reminds me of an argument I had with someone collecting signatures for a nuclear disarmament petition. She was nice enough but just couldn’t seem to grasp that the neither Putin nor the Chinese would give two figs about a petition by a bunch of random Americans and that as long as they held on to their nukes, we’d have to be complete numpties to unilaterally disarm. I finally gave up when she got around to mentioning that it wan’t just Americans, they also had a couple hundred Japanese signatures. Leaving aside the fact that Japan has no nukes so no one who does would care what they have to say, if we pretend by some minor miracle that the Chinese were on board, I can’t think of anything that would scuttle their support faster than telling them that the Japanese were in favor of it.

          • Well, duh. With what’s happening in the S. China Sea, of course ?Japan wants the (Chinese) nukes to go away.

      • Patrick Chester

        If they run away, we promise not to hunt them down and kill them?

      • Sara the Red

        Actually, Genghis Khan was pretty reasonable…so long as you didn’t try to screw him or his representatives over. If you did THAT, well, then everything was razed to the ground and salted… And sure, his definition of ‘reasonable’ was ‘surrender and join my Empire and give us stuff’…but if you did that without fuss you got lower taxes, better trade routes (and better secured routes), and nifty things like freedom of religion (because Genghis did not care, so long as you didn’t make a fuss). Also a reliable postal service. 😀

        (The man wasn’t a saint, but he was far from a ravening barbarian. If he’d been a better father to his sons/heirs, it’s entirely possible the Mongol Empire would still be around. Alas, he preferred his daughters and daughters-in-law, and kind of treated his male offspring as useless..Even so, the last vestige of his Empire didn’t collapse until the early 20th century…)

        • Joe in PNG

          Yep, treat his ambassadors with honor, offer the Great Kahn suzerainty, and drop lots of hints about the extensive wealth of your traditional enemies…

        • It’s not often mentioned or appreciated, but the facts were that the Mongols were actually reacting to a bunch of crap that the Chinese were pulling on them, in terms of external manipulations and predatory trade policies. You go digging back into what happened, and an awful lot of what came down on the Chinese was actually well-deserved, given how they’d been playing games with the nomadic tribes to their north. I believe that a good case can be made that much of the animosity Genghis Khan had for the Chinese stemmed from the actions of their envoys, which he blamed for the impoverishment of his tribe and the death of his father.

          What happened in Khwarazim is what set his course with regards to everything outside China. He’d originally sent trade envoys, seeking peaceful trade, and they got robbed and disrespected by the governor of the border region that his envoys hit on. The Khwarazim thought they were beyond the range of the Mongols, and felt safe in abusing the envoys. Wrong answer, and that sealed the fate for the entire Middle East. You have to wonder what would have happened, had that governor treated the envoys with respect…

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      I once had a discussion with a scientist where they expressed a desire for engineers to anticipate the future on the thousand year scale.

      To be able to do that well, an engineer would need familiarity with thousands of years of history, and tens of thousands of prehistory.

      Among the lessons of Tut and others is how little power a king has after he dies. Egypt is a good and bad example, because of the lavish tombs which were often robbed.

      If there are engineers a thousand years from now, they will not be caught up in our ephemeral fads because their culture will be different.

      • …on the thousand year scale.

        And just looking at forecasts from 1900, you see lots of flying craft – but no airplanes. People extend what they know. But we don’t have cross-country pneumatic tube mail now… but almost everyone has a really fancy (wireless!) telegraph set.

        • Projecting more than 25 years out with any hope of accuracy, in most cases, is fraught with the peril of some new development making what you currently know irrelevant, and even 25 years can be too much in many instances.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          The fashion among the trendy who fancy themselves able to direct engineering is that said planning for the future involves buzzwords like sustainable and renewable.

          They can influence decisions now, but twenty or fifty years from now the decisions will be influenced by the factions of then. They will not be the same as now if now is based on short term alarmism.

          I figure that either ‘the environment’ is extremely fragile or it isn’t. If it is, we need to stop trying to fix it and instead look at industrial replacements. If it is not, we should stop fretting ourselves to death, and focus on human welfare.

          • freddiemacblog

            buzzwords like sustainable and renewable

            Which isn’t a bad concept, per say. I think we’d all like power sources that last for centuries or millennia, but the current trend is to go backwards.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              I may have mentioned before my suspicion that the terms as politically defined have no real engineering meaning.

              Long term, I like fission.

            • The current trend is also to redefine words that related to desired political outcomes. What “sustainable” will mean in 25 years, I have no idea.

        • Anachronda

          . But we don’t have cross-country pneumatic tube mail now…

          Well, there is the Weehawken Burrito Tunnel.

      • I met a traveller from an antique land,
        Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
        Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
        Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
        And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
        Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
        Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
        The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
        And on the pedestal, these words appear:
        My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
        Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
        Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
        Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
        The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

        Percy Bysshe Shelley

      • Engineers can get the next year right, if it’s the project that they are working on and know thoroughly. Other than that, all bets are off.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          The scientist’s discipline was one with mainly ‘social responsibility’ applications, and was talking in terms of foresight for that purpose. I think an engineer who knew humans and history could discredit that perspective on feasibility grounds. At least what little I know suggests that the correct answer is to mostly ignore that discipline.

          • Did any of the engineers at Apple fully understand the ‘social responsibility’ issues of the IPhone. I doubt it. All they thought they were doing was making a better cell phone. Prediction is hard. I’ve been reading Jerry Pournelle’s columns from 1977 and as foresighted as he was, talking about something like a handheld computer he and Jim Baen had not clue what was coming. This being just a few years before the cell phone, even less for the small computer, and maybe 15, if that, before the first handheld devices. Making predictions is just making guesses. Guesses that will, more than likely, be wrong.

            • It struck me, reading the Fuzzy novels recently, how many things were just totally unanticipated, not extrapolatible. Minor example: Use of control knobs and toggle switches on controls that we would now operate with touch-screens, and probably be operated some other way 25 years from now.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Chuckle Chuckle

                In the second Fuzzy book, a Fuzzy (later called Diamond) rearranged some “pretty” light pegs into a beautiful design.

                The problem was that the “light pegs” were controlling the company’s computer so the computer was going “crazy” thanks to Diamond’s actions. [Very Big Grin]

              • I think that, given the state of the art now, mental control (a cap on the head, not a plug-in jack) will be common in 25 years. At least for some things.

    • I’m surprised she understood who Chamberlain was.

    • It seems that there is a lot of that going around.
      If she wants to know about that not so ancient history, here’s a good place to start.

      That is if she can handle the depressive story.

    • There’s a cure for that and it is coming.
      Unfortunately that particular medicine has a significant mortality rate.

    • Perhaps this isn’t speaking out of turn. Granted that high schools don’t do so well with more recent histories, as things get compressed toward the end of the year. Yet there is something else: She must not have heard of WWII from her family.

      Now, there could be reasons for this. Maybe they fell into an age notch where they had no members to serve. But surely someone in her family knew someone who did. My grandparents didn’t see the Civil War, but they did know people who had, and passed down what they heard. I’ve made sure our kids knew that they had two great uncles who saw concentration camps, and passed along those stories that I’d heard people of that era tell. This is family history: They should know it.

      Why didn’t she?

      Okay, so my own family history essentially stops, except for dribs and drabs, at the Civil War, maybe because seeing scarred veterans made such an impact on my grandparents. But for today’s generation to be ignorant of World War II means something wasn’t passed along somewhere, and not just in school.

      • A woman I know has a PoliSci PhD. Her dissertation was essentially a positive re-evaluation of Chamberlain. It is just amazing to me how her and her EE PhD engineer husband could be so incredibly libtarded. It must take intelligence and real study to be so far from the real world.

        • Chamberlain was history’s whipping boy, but he went forth bearing a practically unanimous concensus, accomplished his mission, and came back to a hero’s welcome.

          Yes, he had his head firmly up his nether region… but so did Parliament and all others involved. And when their little libtard fantasy started falling apart, they all pretended they had nothing to do with it, and made it look like Chamberlain had acted on his own.

          There were a lot of bozos on that bus, but they got away with it by tossing their official representative – Chamberlain – to the sharks.

          • Patrick Chester

            Didn’t Chamberlain make a lot of effort getting Britain prepared for war once he had realized his mistake?

            • Yes, he did. And to be fair, many Britons did not want any kind of war ever again, given how impoverished and exhausted WWI had left the country.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Yeah, I’ve heard all the reasons that Europe (especially France) didn’t stamp out Hitler when they could have.

                But it’s still annoying when idiots blame the US for not getting involved sooner. 😦

            • Read the first volume of Churchill’s History of WWII, “The Gathering Storm”. Chamberlain’s re-armament plans were too little, too late, and Churchill had spent the last FIVE YEARS warning about it.

              • Churchill thought Chamberlain’s policies were unsound, but his later works show enormous respect for the man.

                It’s not everyone who can see the depths of his error and essentially work himself to death trying to fix it.

            • Heroically so, in fact. Churchill’s histories were brutally nasty, even by his standards, regarding anyone who thought that Neville Chamberlain did not have Britain’s best interests at heart.

        • It takes a lot of education to be that stupid. ~ can’t recall who said it
          And it doesn’t require intelligence, in fact it’s more of a nullification effect that teaches you what data / sources you should ignore/ discount.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            I think Orwell said that there are some stupid ideas that only an intellectual would believe in.

      • It’s been 25 or more years since I watched a TV show (don’t remember the show, but I think it was a daytime talk show, like Phil Donahue or some sort), where he had a man on who had been doing research in the decline of education. He said he had sat in with a group of high schoolers who had never heard of WWII. He got up and asked them about it. At one point, he asked, “Did you know that once we had a war with Japan?” and he said they replied, “We did? Who WON?”

        The. Whole. Class.

        • If they were weren’t cherry picked, why didn’t they know? My wife’s grandmother told of a neighbor who received a telegraph that her son had been killed. My wife’s grandmother heard the woman scream, and was maybe a mile away. Or hearing of stars in a window. One nearby movie theater had stars and names painted on the side for each one in the county who was serving. Their parents and grandparents would have seen such things: why didn’t the kids know?

          Yes, I know that things can be lost when it’s assumed to be common knowledge. We didn’t know about a farming cooperative until we accidentally found the pictures and the older ones said “Oh yes, that used to be at such and such place,” and that my wife’s mother and her family had lived there a time. They didn’t think it was noteworthy. But an entire war not even a century past forgotten this quickly?

          This is more than just schools getting pressed to finish a course by the end of the term. This is people not passing along such things.

          • Why didn’t they know?

            Because putting up a “school” sign on a public daycare center doesn’t make it a school in any meaningful way. It’s just daycare with make-work.

          • People move and grandparents are shut away in a nursing home. It shortens the memory.
            Mind you grandparents are unreliable for history. It took me a long time to realize that my grandmother was telling me stories from her grandmother about the Portuguese civil war, or maybe from her great-grandmother about the Napoleonic wars. For a kid, it made sense they were GRANDMA’s stories, which gave me a very odd idea of the past.
            And mom’s stories made me think there was only a “great war” in the twentieth century.

            • And mom’s stories made me think there was only a “great war” in the twentieth century.

              It could be argued, with support, that in regions of Europe there had been only one great war with contractions in the wide-spread open hostilities.

            • Absolutely: Subject grandparents’ stories to verification just like any other account.

              Will mention that while working on a history project in college I came across an almost forgotten event during an interview, and was there when a family learned they were related to a member of the USCT. The man who told me that one said to them “You were never interested.”

              I’m only tossing that out because it really bothered me that those accounts came close to being lost.

              Now I’m getting to the age where I need to do likewise, writing down what I remember. Maybe it’ll be a jumping off point for research for some family member one day. If so, it would tickle me that the first thing they did was to verify the accuracy of it.

          • Well, this WAS in deep rural Kentucky. I surmise that the only war they talked about much was the Civil War, and likely no one had televisions during the time period this guy was there doing his research work.

            • Coming from a deep rural area with plenty of WWII vets, I doubt that. There were still a few WWI vets in my childhood, and I remember one I met in my late teens. And I certainly remember the sweet little old lady who turned out to have been a member of the Italian resistance. And this was hours from the nearest real city.

          • Yes, some people don’t pass along such things. In some cases, if they lived through them, they never want to relive those experiences again – so they neither volunteer nor answer questions about “what was the war like, Granpa?”
            Others spent WWII working long hours in factories, making the machines and materiel of war – but that’s not the same is seeing it, fighting it, so they believe what they did was not newsworthy, not worthy of being shared.
            Still others know their experiences are deprecated by the generations that followed. In the modesty they were trained to, they do not tell their stories lest they be mistaken for inappropriate seeking after word-fame.
            So is much lost.

  7. One place I have to disagree with you:

    “The problem with this is not the every day restrictions.”

    Yes, yes, the problem is the every day restrictions. Many times I’ve been told that we shouldn’t sweat the small stuff and save our powder for the big fights. But the loss of freedom comes in the small stuff. Freedom of speech is wonderful, but few people are really likely to the protections written into the First Amendment. Few people (this blog excepted, perhaps) are likely to say something so outrageous that they might be prosecuted except for the Constitution. But almost everyone is affected by the thousands of little regulations on everything from dairy products to hair care. You included the example of changing the measurements…well, it turns out that the only way to do that is to use the police to force people to use the new measurements instead of the old and throw them in jail if they try to sell bananas by the pound.

    These “every day restrictions” are all about using the power of the state to force people to live how others want them to. They matter.

    • Gun folk have started having a lot of success just by saying “No” to new proposed regulations, “common sense” suggestions, even just social shame type techniques. Not even making a big deal out of it. Just saying “No”, with no offer to debate or compromise because we learned our lesson there. I think it could be applied to a lot of the places where there’s creeping loss of liberty, but it takes willpower and some coordination to pull off.

      Or a willingness to move. One of the reasons we relocated last year was to move from a state with high homeschool regulation to one with almost none. Were the regulations something I couldn’t comply with? Nope. Am I doing as much or more than they would require of me? Yep. I just don’t want to be subject to those rules. I say, “No”.

      • Which was one of the reasons the founders put freedom of movement in our source documents. 😉 People could vote with their feet as well as their ballots.

        • Freedom to move is important. In doing family tree research, I discovered a well documented case of my daughter-in-laws family sneaking out of the district in Germany where they lived in order to emigrate to America. They did not have the count’s permission to leave.

          It would apparently be the story of many German immigrants to our country, though not as well documented for most. Someone did a lot of research for that one family.

      • Exactly – embrace the power of a flat-out “No.”

    • Many times I’ve been told that we shouldn’t sweat the small stuff and save our powder for the big fights.

      Not fighting the small stuff as it comes leads to selling out people a dozen or so at a time. Over time those dozens add up to a lot of Trump voters.

    • darleenclick

      Your “daily restrictions” brings to mind this:
      BREXIT, the Movie

      Go to the 33:34 mark and revel in EU regulations. They have 454 for towels alone!

    • What I meant is that they’re not the worst.

    • Professor Badness

      It does put me in mind of the restrictions slowly imposed on the Jews in Germany leading up to the Second World War. They didn’t start with concentration camps, but slowly built up to them.
      “I Have Lived a Thousand Years” was eye opening, among others.

      • Very much so…I think the wedding cakes, contraceptives, and coming court rulings stripping churches that won’t do gay marriages both of tax exempt status and the right to do legally recognized marrages as cut from similar cloth.

        Instead of concentration camps, however, I expect it will end with children being taken. There are already groups arguing religiuos upbringing is child abuse sufficient to warrant removal. Oddly, it will happen about the same time as the mainstream pedophilia (that’s next folks).

        • I can guarantee you that my church will just say a flat “no,”and that any attempt to seize our children will be met with armed resistance. Not boasting, just stating a fact. This is east Tennessee, and we have a long history of not following the diktats of feds.

        • Joe in PNG

          They’re going to need a heck of a lot of new infrastructure to do that. The foster care system is pretty overloaded as it is, and a good majority of foster parents are themselves religious- not to mention all the children’s shelters that are run by Churches.

          • Do you think progressives will care about the treatment kids taken from religious families get when they already don’t care about the ones in the system.

            We’ll probably hear they are better off dead than raised by lunatics.

            As for Church run shelters gay marriage has been used to run Churches out of adoption in at least two states, Massachusetts and Illinois. What makes you think the SCUS won’t find that running them out of those business is constitutional (even required by the 1st Amendment) about the time they are stripped of the authority to sanctify legal marriages.

            The radical step now, and I’ve heard it suggested once or twice, is to deny civil marriage to the religiously married on anti-discrimination grounds.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              In my less fair moments, I suspect that it is just an excuse to give pedophiles access to children in the first place. Issues: 1) How are there enough pedophiles to make that worthwhile? 2) Aren’t the public schools already available for that?

              Could something like the sexual mores of the Spartans be their goal?

              I suspect there is no sane rational goal.

            • Joe in PNG

              Ex shelter worker here. Just sit back and watch the foster care system go “kablooie” in those states. Burnout and turnover are enormous. This will lead to the few places left getting full beyond capacity… which will in turn lead to pressure to not be too vigilant… which then blows up when you get a kid left in a bad home.
              Plus, DCF, foster care, shelter care, et al is typically a state function. That a People’s Democratic Republic like Mass or Ill would do that? No surprise. All 50?
              The idea that the government is about to swoop in and take all the children is as ludicrous as Zimmerman’s strategic suggestions to Mexico.

              • Just like it is ludicrous that the SCUS would find a constitutional right for same sex marriage? Just like it is ludicrous that the SCUS would find that it is perfectly constitutional for the goverment to require you to purchase something?

                Will you find it ludicrous when the SCUS finds gender neutrality in bathrooms is required by the Constitution? Over at The Federalist one columnist is putting the over/under on that ruling at 8 years.

                At this point I assume:

                1. If one prog suggests it now
                2. Progs will make it the law in one state
                3. So progs in a red state will sue for it
                4. The SCUS will find the Constitution requires it.
                5. The right will go along with whatever the SCUS says like sheep for the most part and wonder why they keep losing votes.

                • Joe in PNG

                  Apples/Oranges. The gay marriage thing is more the way of a “positive”- giving rights to people. The taking away children thing is a “negative”- you are removing rights from people.

                  An attempt to take all the Christian children away and put them into homes is just that sort of red meat politicians can really get into. If the Democrats were seriously considering laws to remove children from homes because they were Christians, or to annul all Church marriage, damn dude. That would KILL them as a political party- even the most spineless GOPe would stand up to oppose it.

                  • Removing authority from ministers who refuse to perform same sex marriages from performing any legal marriage is already in progress with a city in Idaho (not know for being a blue state) shutting down a local marriage chapel run by ministers for refusing to do same sex marriages under local anti-discrimination ordinances.

                    It won’t be long before a gay couple sues a minister, actually I’m betting on a Catholic priest, for discrimination for refusing a gay marriage. The legal argument will be that while the state cannot control the rite of marriage the instant the priest signs the marriage license as the officiant he ceases to be performing a religious role and begins performing a civil one. As such he cannot discriminate in which licenses he signs requiring him to officiate at gay marriages. If he agrees to officiate but refuses to do so under identical conditions as hetero marriages he is still engaging in discrimination and again barred.

                    Based on the Hobby Lobby case and the recent punt on the Little Sisters of Charity there are clearly four justices willing to entertain that such an argument does not violate religious liberty. With the betting odds being on Hillary in 2017 the GOP Senate will probably approve Garland by September and even if they don’t the #neverTrump faction of the right will insure Hillary 2017 and thus remove any odds of a justice who would not join the liberal wing in such an interpretation. My over/under on minsters who for religious reasons will not do gay marriages being barred from signing marriage licenses is 4 years.

                    even the most spineless GOPe would stand up to oppose it.

                    Twenty-years ago SCUS imposed gay marriage was unthinkable and the Dems pushed through the Defense of Marriage act. Last year the GOP effectively surrendered on the issue. This year Republican governors in solid red states are vetoing bills that would protect ministers as above and even vetoing concealed carry out of fear of the Democrat media. In the religious case Governor Deal openly admitted it was due to threatened movie company boycotts and to hell with GOP voters.

                    Taking children from religious families as child abuse is as unthinkable as gay marriage was in 1996 much less it being used as a club to drive people out of business. How unthinkable is florists and bakers being bankrupted and required to go to re-education (the Colorado case) for refusing to particiate in gay marriages today?

  8. The King is dead, long live the King.
    Embodies a curious combination of continuity with fresh start.

  9. Perhaps the most Human Wave prediction about the future is simply that humans have one.

  10. Randy Wilde

  11. sabrinachase

    So what we really need to do is create our own version of the Trivium and Quadrivium, to preserve the necessary knowledge through the Dark Ages. (In imitation or Martianus Capella). We could even disguise it as a quest series 😀

    • Free-range Oyster

      That sounds like an excellent idea. A gamified classical education? Not the direction I had in mind, but I like it.

      • sabrinachase

        And we could also code up a game, like Diamond Age‘s Young Ladies Primer 😀 Oh Chaaaarles…..

        • Free-range Oyster

          *pleading* Sabrina, I have too many ideas already! Do you really have to be adding to them? My project list is a mile long as it is! *whimper*

          • sabrinachase

            pttthhhbbbt. If I suffer, YOU suffer. I encourage you to find others who need to suffer too 😀 Like I don’t have fifteen books that need written myself? Come on, you can sleep when you’re dead!

            • I’ve heard of this mythical beast, “sleep.” It is said to sooth the aches of limb and ease the mind. It is said to refresh the spirit and energize the body. It is said to even extend life!

              If I’ve ever met the creature, it was well hidden, I’m sure.

            • Anachronda

              Like I don’t have fifteen books that need written myself?

              Fifteen? Awesome! *starts twiddling thumbs impatiently*

        • if kickstartered, I’d drop a few bucks into a project like that…

          If I had anything remotely like the knowledge or skills, I’d try it myself.

  12. We must above all enshrine both self-ownership…

    That’s a powerful premise, and an important one for the privilege of excludability at the owner’s discretion, but would it include transferability? Because that would imply the possibility of slavery.

    • Slavery has existed before and will likely exist gain. But self ownership is self ownership. G-d is not bound by human laws, and your relationship with Him is your own. BUT in relationship with humans, you own yourself, and your actions. For good as well as for ill.

      • Just bear in mind that conventional ownership involves the possibility of transfer. If self-ownership is different, we must be ready to explain why. Robert Nozick, among others, held that self-ownership implied the possibility of slavery. In the worst cases, that might extend to involuntary enslavement, e.g., to settle a debt.

        • Whatevs. As for me and mine, we’ll stand by the Constitution. Inalienable is Inalienable.

          • ‘…it so happens the word is unalienable, not inalienable.’


            • John Adams: Mr. Jefferson? It so happens that the word is UN-alienable, not IN-alienable.

              Thomas Jefferson: I’m sorry, Mr. Adams, but “Inalienable” is correct.

              John Adams: I happen to be a Harvard graduate, Mr. Jefferson.

              Thomas Jefferson: Well, I attended William & Mary.

              Hancock: Mr. Jefferson, will you concede to Mr. Adams’ request?

              Thomas Jefferson: No, sir, I will not.


              John Adams: Oh, very well, I withdraw it!

              Dr. Benjamin Franklin: Oh, good for you, John!

              John Adams: I’ll speak to the printer about it later.

              • iInsert Stan Freberg routine of “the perfute of happineff” here …

              • I believe you are talking about the Declaration which is informative but has no legal status in Constitutional Law; actually it was written as much to impress French intellectuals as anything else, and may have been influential in getting French troops, and more decisively the French Fleet at just the right time to influence — perhaps decide — the Battle of Yorktown.

                It does contain the most fundamental principle of modern American political theory, that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and no other source is recognized. Of course Burke would not have agreed to that, even though he was sympathetic to the colonists demand for the rights of Englishmen as granted in Magna Charta. That to many of the Framers was a much better source of rights than philosophical theories — particularly since the Constitution did not grant, and could not have granted, the principle that all men are created equal. Indeed the Constitution explicitly says that all men are not born equal, although a good number of States said they were.

                • I thought Abe Lincoln used sleight of hand to insert the Declaration into the Constitution at Gettysburg. Something about it being the pact that the Constitution was written to fulfill …

              • Exactly. 😉

              • Inalienable rights for a people mean no safe spaces outside your own privte property.

                Good riddance – safe spaces are too d@#! expensive.

            • In the Declaration of Independence, yes. Otherwise, inalienable is perfectly correct.

        • Then Nozick is just wrong. As our forbears have said, there are inalienable rights, which you cannot transfer to others. Self-ownership is one of these.

          • Well, then you’re not using the term “ownership” as it’s classically used. Can you explain why you own yourself but cannot transfer that ownership — permanently or temporarily — to another person?

            By the way, it’s very easy to say “Nozick is wrong.” He’s dead and can’t reply. However, he was a brilliant man who gave the subject a great deal of thought and produced a most impressive tome out of it. So it might be the path of prudence — not to say humility — to be a little less ready to dismiss his conclusion.

            Try producing an actual reasoned argument that doesn’t employ religious premises. It’s very important, as every last one of our rights depends absolutely on defeating the notion that enslavement is ever permissible.

            • I’ll pit John Locke and Thomas Paine against Robert Nozick any time. As to producing a reasoned argument, those worthies have already done so and I see no reason to repeat it.

            • I have, twice. Wife 1 and Wife 2.

        • In the Roman Republic, Citizens had the right to borrow, using themselves as collateral. This is a logical right of self ownership; selling yourself into slavery was possible but rare; selling yourself into bond-service was not rare, and one of the tensions that brought down the Republic was the conflict between bondsmen who wanted the state to relieve them by rescinding their debts — particularly in return for military service — and those who had lent them money in good faith and wanted their investments back. Sometimes a bondsman could negotiate a loan to buy his freedom from a harsh master but had to put himself up as collateral for the new debt.

          The Christian view was that you did not own yourself — thus suicide is a crime — but you might well owe service. For a lot more on that, look at Philemon’s Problem, a book that used to be assigned about 8th grade in Catholic schools (the best ones, anyway) but I suspect is no longer studied. The dilemma remains, though.

          Invoking “created equal” and “consent of the governed” leads to lots of discussions, particularly in undergraduate dorms back in the old days before sex was a far more attractive and more likely achieved objective for undergraduates, but it seldom led to any beliefs that the participants hadn’t started with.

          If you own something, one of the prerogatives of ownership is the right to sell it. Is denying you that right tyranny? But of course English Law until the mid-20th Century had the principle of entailment; a form of ownership that did not include the right to sell to just anyone, at least not without the permission of the Crown.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Philemon’s Problem by James Tunstead Burtchaell?

            Looks interesting but it isn’t available in e-format. 😀

      • Minor nit. Slavery still exits. Widespread mostly in portions of Sharialand. But occasionally in the United States. But, ( the most recent article I found in California involved members of the Religion of Peace.

      • There were some lawsuits filed when the Fed initiated conscription during WWI, claiming that forced service was slavery.

        The court’s decision basically came down to, “because we can, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

    • Transferability? Of course not. “Inalienable” is the term you’re looking for. 🙂

  13. Here, in Houston’s recent school board election, EVERY SINGLE CANDIDATE ran on the proposition of renaming “racist” (read: Confederate) school names.

    • *former tutor hat on*

      That sounds like a *great* idea. Now, I want a paper of no less than fifteen single spaced pages on the lives of each of them. By Thursday after next. Include full bibliography with at least four (4) primary sources, autobiographies where they are extant are encouraged. List the life accomplishments of each, along with a focus on precisely what caused the founders of the school to choose *this* racist person as their patron.

      *former tutor hat off*

      When you can prove to me that you understand why those names are on those schools, I *might* allow you to change them. Until you do, no dice, hoss.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        Counterpoint: Those are Democrat names, that ‘racism’ was in service of the Democratic Party, and as Democrats are inherently unfit to hold any public position, it is appropriate to remove from them any form of public recognition. Rename such elementary schools as Kennedy, Carter, Roosevelt, Wilson and then we will talk. (Not Jackson, because the anti-Jackson animus is purely driven by racism against the Scotch-Irish. Not Truman, because Hiroshima and Nagasaki offset his nefarious acts.)

      • And then there’s G.K. Chesterton’s contribution, regarding fences and reformers

        • I *did* have that in mind, actually… *grin* Good to see my innuendo skills aren’t too horrible. Or are they? *chuckle*

  14. OTOH, there is a prominent umber of schools for otherwise unremarkable individuals save for the “former slave” designation. Perhaps it’s time for the healing to begin, and start naming schools for KeyMap pages, or GPS co-ordinates. Street names, even

    • Every location on Earth can be described in 3 words. Use those!

    • Up here schools are named for landforms (Tascosa [creek and town], Caprock, Palo Duro) the city (Amarillo High), educators (Alive Landergin) subdivisions (Greenways, Paramount Terrace, Highland Park, River Road), Texans and historical people (de Za Vala, Horace Mann, Bowie, Bonham, Sam Houston, Coronado, Travis, G. W. Carver.)

    • Street names used to be the normal way to name elementary schools in some cities, while numbering them (P.S. 117) was also common. So you would just be going back to the old boring way.

  15. William Newman

    Not just cleanly forgetting, but often merely refusing to act on the knowledge: a change in the priorities of the powerful. (And a remarkably strong tendency for everyone who’s anyone to start agreeing how wonderful and admirable and effective the change is.)

    Something similar can happen in history. E.g. nations don’t so much *forget* to lead troops from the front or take seriously the possibility of war as, from time to time, lose the discipline and spirit that leads them to do so, because other things seem more important, donchaknow? (And how wonderful and admirable and effective they are for doing so, donchaknow?)

    Leading from the front is an obvious thing that we haven’t entirely renounced, but we are the ungrateful inheritors of a lot of less obvious mechanisms in the spirit of “I cut, you choose” for maintaining working trust between parties who are not angels, merely shrewd. To some extent written law is about that, though it has other advantages too. Public trials with public charges are mostly about that; juries are too. Freedom of speech and variants like the right to petition publicly for the redress of grievances. The principle that the powerful are subject to the law, and the mechanisms (like ordinary citizens being able to bring criminal charges, sharply limited by the King in the runup to the American Revolution … and then eliminated by the US government itself) that keep it from being a sham.

    In the Anglosphere we don’t have a lot of cycles of governments burning the books, but we’ve had several rounds of governments deciding that they were sufficiently powerful that they could destroy the mechanisms of trust, and/or develop new mechanisms for getting what they want without any particular concern for appearances of good faith. Secret tribunals, e.g., have been reinvented several times, as well as mechanisms for judges and enforcers to profit from rulings or actions in one particular direction. And I don’t know how often it’s been reinvented, but at least this time we have invented the nifty idea that there should be barriers to getting on the ballot that the incumbent parties don’t need to be subject to, which is a nifty bit of ‘say *what*’ anti-trust social engineering.

    Some opportunities are new, too. The explosion of video and other technological forms of evidence has produced an explosion of opportunities for police and other officials to flagrantly destroy evidence, and for the other machinery of government to be flagrantlly complicit, and they have not entirely failed to rise to the opportunity.

    Relatedly we had some trust-related policies that worked startlingly well until everyone who is anyone decided to pointedly *pretend* to forget them, esp. around the 1930s. But they’re not literally forgotten, it’s just a fashion for pissing on our leg and telling us it’s raining. E.g. paying government debts including war debts were stubbornly paid back in sound currency (for centuries, and by curious coincidence, enjoying very deep availability of relatively-low-interest credit even in severe crises). And people paid attention to the kind of proto-public-choice considerations found in the _Federalist Papers_ instead of conducting public discourse on the principle that government actors are thewed with angelmeat.

    I think a lot of these things could be reintroduced in a fairly straightforward way under pressure, it’s just that they crimp the style of the powerful, and they powerful have enjoyed a lack of compelling pressure to do put up with the inconvenience for what may be a historically unprecedented stretch of time. (The Industrial Revolution has kept the rich world far away from the Malthusian frontier for a long time, and while it hasn’t kept the poor world away from it, it has tended to keep their nomenklatura away from it by turning stubbornly dysfunctional countries into a sort of Kabuki drama in which key factors — notably the dictator’s slush fund and inner circle of security — don’t follow from ordinary consequences of local governance, but from some vastly richer and more powerful nation taking a hobby interest in the poorer “nation”. And the US and its coalition have enjoyed the military security advantages of hugeness for a long time, so nobody powerful in that coalition tends to feel as worried about effectiveness of national institutions and asabiya as many nations did — different nations at different times, but many — up ’til around the First World War.) I’m not entirely ungrateful: exasperated as I may be by modern rampant piss-is-rain bogokabuki government and its bootlickers and bullies and boors, I think there are some real upsides to the same lack of hardcore competitive pressure that has allowed the dysfunctional downside to grow as far as it has.

  16. But when studying a civilization, you shouldn’t have to say “The Emperor who burned all the books?” and be answered, “Which one?”

    I think that we will continue to ask “Which one?” even once there are no more emperors.

    Well, let us think. Institute the destruction of all the children’s books printed before x date because they have lead in the ink and a child might chew on them. No all the children’s books, all the way up to young adult, just in case the family has a precocious gnawer. (Done)

    Some expressions and ideas are inflammatory. They be only discussed in safe zone. It some cases it is necessary to require that certain reading matter be removed and/or words be excised and trigger warnings be given before they may be touched upon. Finally some things are so upsetting that complete suppression may be the only option. (Being attempted, and in some cases instituted)

    There will always be people who will want to use the full force of government and society to create what they believe is a better, safer world. Sometimes they gain the upper hand — because adulthood and freedom are scary.

    • The formal term for this is “Inquisition.”

      • While the Tribunal of the Holy Office of the Inquisition may be among the most famous and long lived efforts, it is far from the only one.

        In the last century much such policy was displayed around the globe. The USSR and China pursued similar policies, as had the Fascists countries of Europe. It is also on record that the Japanese in the run up to and during WWII imprisoned people without trail on the charge of thinking thoughts against the state. There are plenty of other efforts that might be cited, including Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge.

        And there are those who insist that mankind is evolving for the better — HA!

  17. Yup, Sarah is totally correct about the importance of consistent dates for certain medieval holy days (and Jewish holy days, and Egyptian holy days, and….) Most humans seem to use festivals as memory aids to “when things happen,” and farmers seem to have always paid special attention to weather and climate tie-ins to certain days or weeks of the year.

    So you get things like weather predictors on Groundhog Day or St. Swithin’s Day, or warnings like “Don’t plant X and Y before the Ice Saints.” (Which proved very true this year again, and kudos to my German great-great-grandmother.)

    After the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, and when the calendar of saints’ days was greatly rearranged after Vatican II, a lot of weather wisdom along these lines was messed up. Mostly people seem to have coped the same way: January 6 became “Old Christmas,” and a lot of people will cite the old saints’ days. (Or people just ignore the change altogether; nobody in the Western rites and denominations really worries about February 14th being St. Cyril and St. Methodius Day.)

  18. You have pit into words, what I only thought. It’s why I fear what’s coming.

  19. Christopher M. Chupik

    You know, the other day I was musing that fandom’s collective memory only goes back 10 years, if that. Then I realized that could apply to society as a whole.

  20. Randy Wilde

    Just saw this on the web…

    I guess the caption is “a Republic, if you can keep it.”

  21. “Read any biography of the time..” I misread that originally as Read my biography of the time… and it threw me for a loop for a second. My biography? Oh no, one of the Hoyt prodigies perfected the time machine and Sarah has been using it for her research.

    • It’s a fascinating read, your biography. You were…um, will be…a very naughty boy. 😀 Did you know the time machine records video? (for insurance purposes, of course) My favorite bit is the goat stampede through Hyde Park…

    • D8mn it. You read Kate Paulk. Sometimes I forget and slip up, is all.

  22. I think history will soon record that we passed the de Tocqueville tipping point here in the US sometime early this millennium. We now have a majority of citizens that vote for a living rather than work for living.

    All of the social pathologies discussed in this thread are founded in a tyranny of the majority that is getting worse. The array of government handouts is staggering and hence, the incentive to work is almost non existent. Nothing will change until the gravy train runs dry.

    • I’m wondering — quite a few people have had disappointments, bad things happen in their lives, plans that didn’t work. A common experience. Consistent with the bumper sticker that “S**t Happens”. A realization that leads (sometimes with a little encouragement) to the idea that it’s good to have a Plan B to go to.
      So… can we make society less brittle by encouraging a lot of people to think, a little, about what their Plan B would be if markets crash, TSHTF, the next POTUS turns out to be as bad as “Very Smart” people are predicting, whatever? From the standpoint that, no, we don’t know what bad thing may be coming, nor when, but it doesn’t hurt to have a Plan B ready in case it’s needed.
      Just having a lot more people who’ve thought about this a bit could reduce the breakage and recovery time noticeably. Worthwhile, I think, getting them meme into conversations, blog postings, and stories.

  23. Captain Comic

    I know Rand’s stories can cause some eye-rolling, but I’ve always used “Anthem” as a metaphor for the people who push the “forget the past and follow or future” ideals:

    They want this kind of society because they are sure that they will be the people pointing and saying “Street sweeper” to decide other people’s lives, not standing there and being assigned their role in the perfect society.

    And as Venezuela shows us, even in the collapse, there will always be the other, the agitator, the malcontent to blame.

    • nielsen is useless for indie. What they’re measuring is traditional sales. (SOME traditional sales) and what this means is “we raised prices and people buy less.” PFUI.

  24. Hit that one out of the park. All the politics are downstream of culture, and the way to shape the culture is through stories.

    Ours are so much more fun, too. They’re like Narnian clothes 🙂

  25. Sarah: My line from Brinton Crane’s “Anatomy of Revolution” is that the Obama years (and the Sixties) are a virtual reign of terror. Sure, nobody is being killed, but the Obamis are intimidating everyone with their cultural and political domination, and you will be made to care.

    A year ago I wrote on my blog that what comes next is Thermidor, because people cannot stand this fierce urgency of now forever; they just want to live normal lives, working and wiving and thriving. So the virtual reign of terror is followed by reaction, meaning a dictator, nationalism, and foreign conquest. As in Napoleon.

    What I just woke up to is that our Thermidor is in full swing, featuring Trump as Napoleon. Article in American Thinker today.

    And I fear that the adults may not get a chance to repair things for quite a while.

    • I’ve figured that out some time ago. And yet the adults MUST come home and start preparing for the aftermath.

    • Trump as Napoleon…I’ll have to think about that one.

      Then again, I can make a decent argument Napoleon was an improvement over the late Republic. Not a great argument but a decent one.

      I can also argue France never really recovered so there is that.

    • Not sure Trump cares much about the foreign conquest part of that, so it may be milder than expected.

      • He may think posing with GI’s on the ramparts of Chapultepec would be a shiny legacy.

        • Rising in Napoleon’s defense, the wars he fought were not entirely of his choosing. Of the five Napoleonic wars, two were fought under the Republic not the Empire. In fact the first war with Austria and Prussia that saw Napoleon’s rise to prominence was started in 1992 by Louis XVI (under treat admittedly) before the monarchy was dissolved. The Directorate sent Napoleon on campaign to Egypt which prompted the second war where he would use his success in Egypt in contrast to the mixed results in Europe to rise to power.

          The of the wars after Napoleon’s seizing power was actually initiated by the British although admittedly with a great deal of provocation by Napoleon. Regardless the huge changes in the shape of Western European international relations created Napoleon much more than he created them.

          I’m not saying Trump as Napoleon wouldn’t engage in foreign adventure. He very well might. The idea of US seizure of Central America to one degree or another would hardly be new in either a new Manifest Destiny philosophy or practical fact (such as customs collections) but would just be revival 150 or 100ish years after the fact respectively.

          The vital questions are: would Trump be enough of a strongman type to need an enemy to keep the populace focused and if that is true would he turn in or out. I think in would be easier and more satisfying to Trump.

        • Maybe – although he may also consider having to manage Mexico or any part of it to be a “bad deal”

  26. Relevant thoughts, courtesy of Power Line this evening:

    We’ve gone from being a culture that values hard thinking, to a culture that tolerates and even celebrates soft thinking. Hard thinking means that when you are faced with a new problem or issue, you look squarely at it. You get the facts, sort through them, and decide how best to move forward based on what makes the most sense and what is actually likely to work. . . Soft thinking means that your emotions matter more than your intellect; you decide how to more forward based on your feelings rather than on the facts. And when your plan collides with reality—as it always will—instead of making adjustments, or just admitting you were wrong, you find someone else to blame and you keep on going down the same mistaken path. . . The same kind of soft thinking that’s infected our domestic policies has spread to our foreign policies. . .

    Soft thinking is the idea that throwing money at a problem is all that’s required to fix it. Soft thinking is obsessing over threats on the far horizon (say, a century off) while dismissing threats at the door (say, from the JV Team.)

    This nation still has plenty of people able to think hard thoughts, we just need to clear the noisy soft-headed out of the way. Sadly, the muddy-minded are entrenched in positions of power (college administrators, the news and entertainment (you can tell them apart because one is required to tell credible tales) media, bureaucrats, the Senate, the White House. As noted in an other Power Line post today,

    “Look, what you just played, and some of the coverage of Ben Rhodes is what happens when you put van drivers and campaign flaks and failed novelists in charge of foreign policy and national security, … And that chump may think that subsidizing Iran’s nuclear program with millions of dollars is a laughing matter. I don’t think it’s that funny. And if he or anyone else over there had ever been man enough to put on the uniform and pick up a rifle, and have to lead men in dodging Iranian-made bombs, they might not be laughing, either … As if any of them had ever seen anything more dangerous than a shoving match when they were playing beer pong in the back of a bar in Georgetown,”

    Senator Cotton has brass ones (to complement his Bronze Star Medal, Combat Infantry Badge and Ranger Tab) and he knows the sound of tin ones clanging when he hears it.

    • Sigh. Neglected to /BLOCKQUOTE on that bit about “Senator Cotton has brass ones (to complement his Bronze Star Medal, Combat Infantry Badge and Ranger Tab) and he knows the sound of tin ones clanging when he hears it.”

      Ding dang double dang darn it, as J. B. Biggley would say.

  27. “We must examine the past … — discard what’s worth forgetting,” — which is damn little: bad examples need to be preserved, lest they return in new guise.

  28. Returning to the original premise of burning books, books don’t have to be burned if the indoctrination centers don’t teach their young prisoners how to read – whether for pleasure or for learning.
    Think about the micki-dee cashiers who can’t do change and who have cash registers with pictures of food items sold there rather than numbers.

  29. Forgot to add – They(books) will simply become kindling for fires when the lights go out.

    • Assuming they remember how to build fires.
      Some detritus of civilization will remain through the deliberate destruction; if enough of us remember what to do with it, it may be used for the reboot rather than allowed to decay.

      • Sigh. Oh, those myths of collapse, again. Societies NEVER collapse like that. TRUST me on this. Or read about Argentina, or Lebanon for that matter. what we hear of here are the worst cases scenario. My family in Venezuela are neither government cronies NOR starving.

        • What, never? (Well, hardly ever…) Ozymandias and Carthage still bear witness to the times they do. Slaughter and rapine from outside OR within when a society is sufficiently weakened are not unheard of.

          But I take your point, not to consider it part of the normal or likely cycle.

          My thought is that there may be things you can do, all the way down to worse-than-worst-case, if you do not despair.

    • They didn’t recon with the internet. Most kids of necessity learned to read (it’s not arcane) when they needed to. What the poor dears can’t do is spell.