Stop Singing Fados

I’m getting sick and tired of that quote “Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. And, weak men create hard times.” G. Michael Hopf.

I’m not calling the author stupid, mind. I mean, he has to be leftist enough to have gotten push from the establishment trad pub, and insane enough to write post-apoc fiction, but he’s obviously a marketing genius with that quote. The quote, however, is dumber than hell.

Worse than dumber than hell, it’s fatuous and the kind of dellusion someone will acquire when he looks at Roman history from A LONG WAY OFF and then decides this is some kind of law of nature. It is not a coincidence that I have seen the idiotic pronouncement attributed to Edward Gibbon, because that’s exactly the sort of person who’d make up that kind of pronouncement, looking back on a civilization he mostly got partial accounts of, and a lot of it through the descriptions of the lives of its prominent citizens, a lot of it done by the equivalent of our yellow press.

And right now several of you are staring at the screen in wrath and shock and going, “but Sarah, how can you deny that great wisdom.”

Very easily, and if you think about it, you will too. Part of what our side is resting on, when believing that fresh piece of bull crap is “WWII was a tough time, as was the depression, and it built men who went to the moon.”

Sure. Go ahead. cherry pick the data to fit your assumptions. What are you? A leftist?

Human societies and humans themselves are complex, difficult things to analyze. NONE of it is easy. And none of it is short and pithy enough to fit that kind of sentence. It is not a coincidence that the man writes post-apocalyptic fic, which, in general, is one of the most wanking branches of science fiction.

Yeah, I know, Americans talk about the depression and are like “we were forged in fire.” But you guys, who rest your understanding of the world on American history and that kind of hazy, unfocused idea of Roman history that comes from a great distance and scholars poring over it have no clue.

Yeah, the great depression was terrible, and it left scars in the collective psyche. Tell me, though, how many hundred thousand died in that famine? In fact, since Jamestown, how many Americans have starved to death or had to resort to cannibalism?

Guys, in historic terms, America should be the softest, most pussified country to ever walk the Earth. FROM ITS BEGINNING. Of course it’s not, and there’s a reason for that, that is a fair constant (can be destroyed, but Lord, that will take another 100 years) and has nothing to do with the pseudo-cycle above. (And yes, I’ll talk about it in a minute.)

In historic terms, all Americans have lived in “good times.” Most Europeans too, for the last 150 to 200 years, except for the long war of Europe.

I mean, let’s be honest and examine that quote in the light of the 20th century, shall we? Sure, Americans had the Great Depression and sent people over to die on foreign shores. Bully. Good for us, even if in retrospect, looking at it one wonders if WWI was a good idea. Once the dye were cast, sure, WWII was inevitable. It was really just the continuation of WWI and you could no more stop it, and stop us putting an end to it than you could stop a ball from rolling down a steep slope. And even if going over to fight and die in WWI was the result of a president who was, let’s face it, morally repulsive and authoritarian.

Meanwhile, France lost all its young men, twice. It starved. I mean really starved. We don’t have recorded instances of cannibalism, but I’d be shocked if it hadn’t occurred “a little bit, all over.” Its fields and villages were destroyed.

Do you know why every European man of the twenties and thirties smoked? Because everyone who fought the war in “Flanders” (and French) fields smoked to dull their sense of smell, so they couldn’t smell the piles of other young men rotting, just over the rise. Some of those fields, when you plow them still turn up uniform buttons and other metal bits with each plow full of Earth. Oh, and let’s not forget, whatever they grow on those fields is mostly grown on the results of decomposing human flesh.

Anyway Belgium got hammered too. Hammered so hard that according to a relative who lived there a long time, they have the genetic defects of extreme inbreeding. (I don’t know, never having researched it.)

So, you know, surely when WWII ended those two countries, where the kids on the streets starved, and saw death up close and personal were the toughest people in G-d’s green Earth, right? Snort, giggle. No. Really. Snort, giggle some more.

For that matter, if you look at countries where life is and has always been hard and people live on the edge of starvation: most of Africa, India, the vast ridiculous hell that is China, you would think it created really tough men who would build– No? Yeah, weird, isn’t it? Mostly hard times seem to create subservient, desperate people who will conform to whatever those in authority ask of them, without daring to say “boo” back.

Which is why the former East Germany is more likely to have authorities ready to stomp on your neck, Russia — a place where life has always been hellofhard — is full of peasants under whatever the tzar calls himself, and of all the countries who were put through the hell of communism, only Poland shows a little bit of a spine.

It’s almost as though hard times break people. Which is why totalitarian regimes bring hard times on as soon as possible. And soft times make people uppity and likely to talk back.

Um…. who would have thunk it? Only someone who has read history to any depth and is not going off the rose-colored glasses of conservatives who imagine the forties and fifties as some kind of golden paradise for America.

Look, sure, we were prosperous then, and it was an era of America dominance, but I’ll be honest with you, kiddies: It’s still an era of American dominance, and it will be as long as we want it. There are reasons for that. The fact that right now America is using its dominance to have protracted nervous breakdown and take the rest of the world along for the ride is not proof of anything, except that other countries will follow us, even when we lose our way. And we’re still prosperous. Though the Junta is trying to stomp that out.

We were going to have our lunch eaten, in order, since WWII by Germany, Japan and China. Except that none of those can or will supplant us as world leaders, because we are something quite new in the face of the Earth. What we are and what we do makes us capable of innovation, innovative thought, and incredible leaps of production (the Junta is having a hell of a time digging a hole even we can’t dig ourselves out of, and I’m not sure they’ll manage. For one, they won’t have very long.) And what we are and what we do makes us a threat for every old country in the world, which is why they try so hard to pull us down. (My guess is that all they’ll manage is to mutate us into something that scares them even more, but I am trying very hard to make sure it’s not something we hate.)

But for the record, the thirties, forties and fifties were not some great conservative wonderland. Just because the left claims it was, and keeps imagining they live in movie-fifties, it don’t make it so. They were in fact profoundly statist and regimented, and as close as America has come to communofascism: until now.

And all that quote does is convince people they’re caught in some great wheel of suffering, and must be punished for being “too prosperous” (in WHOSE opinion?) and too “soft” so their grandkids can be great. WTF, people? I was the one who was raised with fados. There is no predetermined tragic future, and if there were, there would be nothing gloriously tragic in it, and no virtue in enduring so maybe some time in the future — BRIEFLY — something great can emerge.

Your Dogma has thrown up Karma all over the carpet, and the fact none of it accords to lived reality makes me want to collectively bitchslap you so hard you taste next Wednesday. Which I guess is what this is.

And stop sniveling and coming back with adolescent bravado “Well, then, I guess history makes no difference.” Most of you have more degrees than college professors, and you’re not stupid.

Of course, history makes a difference. It shapes culture. But culture, like human evolution, is very slow to change. Oh, sure, it can change. And it changes faster than glacial-slow gene selection. (You are basically your ancestors, except for some very small differences. Your great grandfather, moved at birth — meaning he got decent nutrition and was raised here — here would be a normal 21st century man. So would your ggggggrandfather back in the eighteenth century. the culture has changed, not the genes.)

How slow does culture change? Well, as far as I can tell a lot of it survives even massive invasion and change in PEOPLE. For instance — and weirdly that’s what I was going to write about today, but it got tangled with this topic, so I guess I’ll do it tomorrow — the English are a violent people prone to civil wars and revolutions, and it’s amazing how much of that we’ve retained when at last half the people in the US at the time of the revolution had a good dose of non-English blood, and it’s gotten more so since.

The only really good way to change a culture is to take its people captive, change their language, forbid the use of their rituals. And yet, often, it still comes through, depending on the people you took and how strong their culture is. (Stares in Babylonian captivity.)

Yes, there are events in history that determine the character of the people. And they tend to reinforce each other.

But this idea that men are changed — rapidly — by their circumstances, and can be molded “soft” or “hard” depending on the times (and not the culture) is caca. It’s puerile. It’s unworthy of thinking human beings. It’s ABOVE ALL Marxist.

The Marxists believe humans are empty vessels into which upbringing and conditions (material conditions) pour everything, so that each human is a widget, and given the right (imposed from above) environment, the next generation will be perfect “Soviet Men.”

They’ve yet to manage it, though they’ve managed to break several generations, in several cultures. Arguably those that were already in a way pre-broken.

However, I will give the creator of that quote that he probably didn’t realize it was, in itself, designed to breed apathy and fatalism. And that he PROBABLY (maybe) knows it’s bullshit.

But it makes great sales copy.

445 thoughts on “Stop Singing Fados

  1. And even if going over to fight and die in WWI was the result of a president who was, let’s face it, morally repulsive and authoritarian.

    Woodrow Wilson was the worst President of the United States.


    He may have been the worst world leader of the twenty-century, including Mao, Stalin, and Hitler because to varying degrees he was directly responsible for all three, mainly by how he handled WW1, neither getting in and getting it over early (say right after the Lusitania) thus heading off the Germans shipping Lenin into Russia (remember, folks, he was originally Hindenberg’s catspaw to stop the White Russia government after the first revolution from continuing the war) and thus avoiding a victor’s peace being claimed by a nation that still had foreign troops on its soil when the fighting ended (yes, I know Versailles wasn’t as bad as the treaty ending the Franco-Prussian War…might I note there was no French army of any meaningful nature when that war ended while most of Belgium and northeastern France was still in German hands on 1918/11/11).

    That’s before we look at how he resegregated the Federal government and invited the Klan into the White House.

    An excellent summary with a fantastic last line.

    1. Oh, got side tracked. He also could have avoided the post-WW1 diaster by retaining his policy of staying out.

      He didn’t. He decided to join the allies at the last possible minute, saving them from a war either status quo ante-bellum or ‘of the map’ in the West and the retention of the Treaty of Breast-Litov in the East. A more sane Middle East and a marginally more orderly transition out of the Austro-Hungarian Empire would probably have resulted in that case.

        1. Best quote in reference, Clemenceau “Wilson has his fourteen points, God himself only had ten”. I’ve always loved that.

      1. Wilson also ignored some Vietnamese guy who approached him in France. Name of Ho Chi Minh. You might have heard of him. Key thing is that Wilson had an opportunity that might have caused Minh to align with the US instead of the Soviets, with obvious repercussions decades later. But as we know, Wilson’s “ideals” only applied to Europeans and their descendants.

        Not blowing off Uncle Ho wouldn’t have guaranteed no Vietnam War. A lot of other steps would have still needed to have been taken (like telling the French, “No, you lost Indochina. You can’t have it back!”). But it would have been a start in that direction.

        1. Oh, I think there is ample evidence that the West missed several chances to avoid some of the Cold War conflicts. I don’t have a lot of evidence that Uncle Ho was a dedicated communist, but I do have a claim he said he sided with the communists over European socialists because the former would at least talk about ending colonialism.

          In fact, he worked with us against the Japanese for the same reason he fought the French. Had we been a tad wiser and willing to say no to DeGaul Vietnam could have been closer to Yugoslavia or even some of the soft, but clearly anti-Soviet, nations.

    2. Woodrow Wilson was the worst President of the United States.

      I don’t see how this is even up for debate. I would think it’s the one thing that the Right and the Left could agree upon.

      To the Right, Wilson was a power-hungry statist who believed that as president, he had the right to do whatever he wanted without regards to that petty Constitution thingy. He enlisted semi-official mobs to harass his political opponents and even those who simply weren’t 100% on board with his policies. He’s the progenitor of both Antifa and cancel culture.

      To the Left, Wilson was a racist (the ultimate sin) who can’t even be excused as the product of his time. He resegregated areas that had already been desegregated, celebrated the KKK, and showed Birth of a Nation at the White House. Oh, and he also jailed snit-war protestors on the grounds that their speech was the equivalent of “shouting fire in a crowded theatre.”

      If the Left’s worst caricature of Trump got together with the Right’s worst caricature of Obama and had a very ugly baby, that baby would be almost as horrible as Wilson.

      1. I was taught in school back in the 70s and 80s that Wilson was a hero for his 14 points.

        Everything else was glossed over.

        1. The left until the last 10 years or so was very good at completely ignoring Wilson being a hard-core true believing racist because he embodied the feudal-statist elite rule by “experts” because “people are too stupid to make decisions on their own”.

          1. I still don’t hear the Left calling out his racism. Certainly, they haven’t (to my knowledge) demanded his name be removed from buildings and chairs at Princeton.

        2. Hmm … Wilson a hero? Possibly not in some of the pop novels that I read (Elswyth Thane’s Williamsburg series) some characters were quite dismissive of him. And that he segregated the American military in the most hateful way, and hosted a race-mongering propaganda fest like Birth of a Nation at the White House. Oh, yeah – a snooty academic war-mongering racist; the perfect Democrat president of the 20th century.

      2. “…a power-hungry statist who believed that as president, he had the right to do whatever he wanted without regards to that petty Constitution thingy. He enlisted semi-official mobs to harass his political opponents and even those who simply weren’t 100% on board with his policies.”

        Wait, you’re not describing Biden?? (Well, the conglomeration of handlers that presents as “Biden”)

        1. Yeah, they’re doing their damndest to knock Wilson out of the Worst President Evah! box.

          1. HarrisBiden are puppets. They are the Philip Tartaglia’s of the political world (for those who recall Godfather 1) who are fronts for the left’s “Barzini”.,

          2. While events may arise that prove me wrong, I doubt he will have the chance.

            Then again, who in 1912 know that within two years of his election a general European that would sweep away the old empires and in their place empower the worst of a marginal group of Marxists in multiple nations because the President of the United States was feckless about the war.

        2. Don’t forget, mentally incapacitated during part of his presidency with his wife running things (Jill has clearly gotten Cameltoe out of the picture).

          1. Saw footage of the “where did I put my mask?” bit during the State of the Union address and what hit me was why the bleep is the President’s wife fussing over him on the podium? She has no business there.

            1. “…why the bleep is the President’s wife fussing over him on the podium? She has no business there.”

              She’s Edgar Bergen in drag, Dorothy. Mr. Sniffer is Charlie McCarthy. He’ll fall over if she doesn’t hold him up.

            2. Note also he kept saying “I am going to get into trouble”, which is the exact same thing that he said when he abruptly cutting of questions by reporters at a different event earlier in the week after realizing that he wasn’t supposed to take questions, and has repeated also on other occassions. A clear sign of dementia.

          2. Harris could invoke the 25th at any point. Either they have a real hold over her, or she’s one of the puppetmasters.

      3. Woodrow Wilson was a professor of history.. There is basically no way that historian professor is ever going to say anything bad about him at all.

        He was one of them! And he became President! And he made History!

        And they all squeed like the bronies they were

          1. There are no few conservative bronies out there. And some of ’em can *write*. 🙂

            1. Libertarian, not Conservative, but if you haven’t checked out you should.

              Short version: take the idea that “humans just can’t do libertarianism and sanity” seriously, and design a human off-shoot that can do it. Then the Space Elves In Space build their Super-America Space Empire. With Mad Science. And Awesome. And an attitude of always striving for the best that is possible, and if the universe doesn’t let that happen then figure out a way to fix the obviously broken universe.

            2. I think he is Canadian, hence outside of the American political spectrum, but I’m quite fond of the one with the handle Dan Gibson, who has influenced me in conservative ways.

      4. I don’t see how this is even up for debate.

        The Left will never criticize a president with a (D) by his name. Heck, when have you ever seen a Progressive criticize James Buchanan Jr., the fifteenth presidet who brought us Lincoln and an attempt to split the union? Oh, and almost fifty years of Republican dominance of American politics.

        If they can’t bring themselves to Buchanan …

    3. I thought Obama was giving him a run for his money but Obama failed at that too. Biden is a good candidate though down to being mentally incapacitated with an ambitious second wife running things from behind.

      Still beating Wilson for worst is a tough row to hoe.

    4. Long time lurker, first time poster. And sorry herbn, butt I have to moderately disagree.

      And I say this as someone who absolutely has no love for Woody Wilson, who was indeed morally repulsive and authoritarian (As well as explicitly anti-constitutionalist, utopian, egotistical, and racist).

      But if you think he was bad- and he WAS- you need to understand who his inspirations were.

      The very people he wound up dragged into a war against in 1917.

      “Woodrow Wilson was the worst President of the United States.


      Eh, I’m not 100% sure. I think LBJ and Franklin Pierce are competition. But he certainly is up there.

      “He may have been the worst world leader of the twenty-century, including Mao, Stalin, and Hitler because to varying degrees he was directly responsible for all three, mainly by how he handled WW1, neither getting in and getting it over early (say right after the Lusitania) thus heading off the Germans shipping Lenin into Russia (remember, folks, he was originally Hindenberg’s catspaw to stop the White Russia government after the first revolution from continuing the war) and thus”

      I’d say indirectly responsible for all three at most. In particular his feckless conduct at the Paris Peace Conference and appeasement of the Bolsheviks is notable (seriously, looking at the dude shilling for the surface level proclamations of the Bolshevik government of “Peace without annexations” is sickening).

      But I do think that ultimately, Lenin (the ultimate mentor of Stalin and Mao), Mussolini, and Hitler can be traced not through Wilson but through the “War Socialism/Kriegsocializmus” regime of Imperial Germany under Erich Ludendorff’s Junta, which itself had its roots in the sort of Bismarck and Metternich era ferment between the socialists in the early SPD and the military-bureaucracy and Prussian aristocracy.

      These by the way are the people who Wilson *Endlessly* shills for, praises, and favorably compares to American society for most of his pre-WWI career, little knowing or caring that these people had been fighting a one sided Cold War with the US since at least 1898 and in particular saw even him the “Progressive”, “Cultured” Academic as intolerably Democratic/Republican, Capitalist, and ultimately American (there’s a mythical statement that gets attributed to Bismarck that talks about how “God Protects Fools, Drunks, and the United States of (North) America”, and while that’s probably false you can find an awful lot of confirmed rantings from the likes of Bismarck, Wilhelm II, Ludendorff, Waldersee, and so on that are comparable).

      Hence why he was irritated and blindsided by a system he frankly idolized and viewed favorably starting to endanger the success of (what he viewed as) HIS Nation, and specifically HIM personally. While not realizing that the Metternichian Socialist style Bureaucratic Technocracy he shilled for would logically not give a F-k about the rights of its own people (as the Voigt affair and others show), so why would i t care about the rights of foreign nationals if trampling on them would give it a better outcome?

      This is why WWI German/Central Powers conduct is so shockingly like that of the British and French during the Napoleonic Wars (which led to the Quasi-War and War of 1812 after they included us). The difference is that the British and French had fought entire wars (including with us) over that kind of conduct and gradually realized it wasn’t worth their bother, hence the move towards accepting Freedom of the Seas.

      The Central and Eastern European autocracies that made up the Central Powers on the other hand? They hadn’t.

      “neither getting in and getting it over early (say right after the Lusitania) thus heading off the Germans shipping Lenin into Russia (remember, folks, he was originally Hindenberg’s catspaw to stop the White Russia government after the first revolution from continuing the war)”

      The issue I see is that this is giving Wilson too much “Credit” and blame, even for a scumbag like himself.

      Firstly, as much as he might’ve wished to WIlson wasn’t a dictator and there was still a sizable amount of Pro-Centrals and especially Neutralist sentiment in the US, including Congress, at the time of the Lusitania. Especially since on a superficial level the Germans later issued a decree promising to abandon Unrestricted Submarine Warfare (the Sussex Pledge), which went a long ways to alleviating it. Along with chaos in Hispanic America (partially aided by German machinations but mostly its own thing) and it would’ve been unlikely Wilson could get the vote.

      Secondly: the side that determined Lenin would go to Russia was ultimately the Central Powers; they had all the trump cards at a time when the Bolsheviks were just a small group of exiled terrorists. Which is why they refused to port Lenin back when the Romanov Empire was still around (because Nicky was still family and even something akin to a friend, even if an enemy), but VERY quickly changed tracks when the February Revolution kicked out the Tsar. So if the US entered the war earlier the German leadership would probably have cause to crunch the numbers again and consider sending him earlier.

      ” avoiding a victor’s peace being claimed by a nation that still had foreign troops on its soil when the fighting ended ”

      With caveats; the Armistice happened when German troops were still in France and Belgium but actual fighting went on (on a lower level) on the Western Front for months (IIRC the last die hard German Bitter Enders got cleared out of Belgium in early 1919, and there was several more months of playing whack a mole with German partisans).

      “(yes, I know Versailles wasn’t as bad as the treaty ending the Franco-Prussian War…might I note there was no French army of any meaningful nature when that war ended while most of Belgium and northeastern France was still in German hands on 1918/11/11).”

      Sure, but it’s also worth noting that Belgium and Northeastern France were just a part of the picture, and the picture elswwhere looked BAAAD.

      Like, Bulgaria and Turkey had collapsed weeks ago and Austria-Hungary had keeled over days earlier, so Western Allied troops were marching overland towards Germany in this big old arc from the Alps on the Swiss border to the Danube Basin at a rapid rate, scooping up CP troops as they went. So if the war had gone on much longer they would’ve faced being outflanked from the South as far away as Slovakia (which is pretty much what happened to the Communist Hungarians a bit later, who were basically the Hungarian portion of the Austro-Hungarian Army under Commie management).

      Moreover, the Western Front was imploding. Ludendorff- the hardest of the hardliners- is the one who ultimately caved and gave orders to seek an immediate armistice because the front line would collapse within 24-48 hours. Of course he wasn’t willing to admit that after the fact and was skilled at lying, but it goes to show.

      If anything I figure this is more of an argument for pushing for unconditional surrender.

      “That’s before we look at how he resegregated the Federal government and invited the Klan into the White House.”

      Absolutely, and another reason why Wilson was scum.

      Which is why I regret having to defend him even partially. But I feel in this case it’s necessary because WWI tends not to be known as well as it was, and in particular how both Fascists and Communists (and Prog scum like Wilson) paid homage to Bismarck’s bloody altar. And moreover, what President could or should accept violations of US neutrality like those done by the Central Powers?

      “Oh, got side tracked. He also could have avoided the post-WW1 diaster by retaining his policy of staying out.

      He didn’t. He decided to join the allies at the last possible minute, saving them from a war either status quo ante-bellum or ‘of the map’ in the West and the retention of the Treaty of Breast-Litov in the East. A more sane Middle East and a marginally more orderly transition out of the Austro-Hungarian Empire would probably have resulted in that case.”

      I can’t agree in the slightest.

      For starters, I fail to see how having a Proto-Fascist, Proto-Communist, Post-Absolutist totalitarian nightmare ruling over vast swaths of Central Europe would be in any way Better. Of course the nature of Ludendorff’s “War Socialism” and even the pre-war Wilhelmine Empire aren’t well remembered now- especially when put up against the sanguine horrors of Lenin or Hitler and Stalin- but they should be, especially since they were direct inspirations for all of the above. In particular I don’t see how the Brest-Litovsk Treaty would be better. “Absolute Destruction” by Hull and this small article “Latvia 1919” by Mark Plant I think cover a lot of the horrors of Central Powers occupation in the East (and this wasn’t even the worst; a higher proportion of Serbs got killed in WWI than in WWII for instance).

      Click to access historylatvia1919.pdf

      This becomes worse when you realize that a “Status quo ante bellum” in 1917 is more likely to result in the competing socialist nightmares of Lenin and co in Moscow and Ludendorff and co in Berlin fighting over who gets the lion’s share of Europe.

      Moreover, it really wasn’t that likely. The Central Powers were staggering already (indeed, the reason why the Central Powers did what ultimately brought Wilson into war- a return to Unrestricted Sub Warfare- was because even a neutral US trading with the Western Allies was hurting them). Operation Michael’s timing was prompted largely by the US entry into the war, but Germany was already suffering major food shortages and its military leadership had a cultural aversion to going full on defense.

      And even if they didn’t, its subordinate allies were already breaking at the seams; particularly the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria.

      Wilson in this sense was largely reacting when he saw relatively little risk, especially after his old objects of admiration had burned him one too many times with the revocation of the Sussex Pledge and the Zimmerman Telegram.

      “Oh, I think there is ample evidence that the West missed several chances to avoid some of the Cold War conflicts.”

      Oh absolutely.

      And even more frequently it tended to miss the chance to solve them early and decisively with a relatively modest use of force. The Bolsheviks in Russia are the case in point; war would be devilishly unpopular in 1918-20 but even a fraction of the Allied forces still mobilized would probably have been enough to crush Lenin and co….. if they were used spiritedly.

      “I don’t have a lot of evidence that Uncle Ho was a dedicated communist,”

      Well, I don’t have any particular reason to believe he was one in 1919 if only because of how rare it was, but by the late 1920s he certainly was.

      “but I do have a claim he said he sided with the communists over European socialists because the former would at least talk about ending colonialism.”

      That’s largely true and Wilson’s snub I think was a major issue with it. But the more I’ve looked into Ho’s history the more I see a lot of incredibly horrifying pathologies. Indeed, one Vietnamese man I know- who still idolizes Ho to some degree and has nothing but scorn for the South Vietnamese diaspora who he talks about having an (expletive deleted)-flag and caring about Human Rights- is that he was thoroughly ruthless and uncompromising (he even compared Ho to Mao). Which is borne out by stuff like “All those who do not follow the line which I have laid down will be broken.’” And how he betrayed things like the coalition government in Hanoi in 1945.

      (And again, this is someone who Largely Admires Ho as Hero and national re-founder)

      It becomes more jarring when I heard the story about his lifelong love, who he knew as a child and who he promised only to marry after Vietnam was ‘Free.” And who spent the rest of her life unmarried and waiting for him. Which becomes more jarring when you realize how many compromises Ho was unwilling to make, how he consistently demanded total power.

      That I think points to a really dark part of his personality that the “We could’ve avoided Vietnam!” narrative tends to overlook. The fact that the man literally prioritized totalitarian power over his true love (….or was she REALLY his true love?) says something.

      “In fact, he worked with us against the Japanese for the same reason he fought the French.”

      Which was for the same reason he ratted on non-Communist nationalist guerillas to Vichy and the Japanese, which was the same reason he collaborated with the Nationalist Chinese/KMT during their brutal occupation of Northern Vietnam after the War, which was the same reason he betrayed his coalition partners in the post-WWII Hanoi Government in pursuit of a Single Party State.

      I still can’t point to the sort of magic moment when Ho turned into a monster, but by the 1930s he clearly, *clearly* was one, and was pursuing totalitarian, Communist power at all costs (even personal cost, as I mentioned before).

      Wilson might have been able to stop that, but by the time of the 1930s that was clearly not true. And indeed the other OSS agents liasing with Ho noted how their leader was taken in by Ho’s charms and being used as a tool (a pattern he continued).

      ” Had we been a tad wiser and willing to say no to DeGaul Vietnam could have been closer to Yugoslavia or even some of the soft, but clearly anti-Soviet, nations.”

      Sorry, don’t believe it.

      The first Soviet agents that got captured in Vietnam were caught in something like late 1945, just months after British and French troops reoccupied Saigon and got thrust into a guerilla war started by Ho.

      Ironically FDR and Truman underestimated this and weren’t willing to collaborate with De Gaulle on the matter, which helped make it so.

      1. Okay, for the record?
        If WWII hadn’t happened (which it MIGHT not if Wilson had kept his buttinsky ass out) the US would NOT have supported the USSR, which would have collapsed in TOPS 7 to 10 years. The only reason we supported them was the cold war. We FED them. WIthout that? Bah. THey’d have gone to find a relative of the tsar to put on the throne.

        1. A reply from our host. I’m honored, and thank you.

          “Okay, for the record?
          If WWII hadn’t happened (which it MIGHT not if Wilson had kept his buttinsky ass out) the US would NOT have supported the USSR, which would have collapsed in TOPS 7 to 10 years.”

          I’m doubtful of that on multiple levels. Firstly because of the aforementioned: The regimes of the Central Powers at least circa 1917ish were mortal enemies that needed to *go down* (whether or not with direct US aid like historical or without); failure to deal with people like Ludendorff et. al. would probably result in them planning yet another war.

          Beyond that, the US (and particularly Hoover’s private org) was already providing food aid to Russia before the Bolshevik takeover, and this got really easily misused by the Bolsheviks after their coup. In particular by late 1918 Wilson had already lifted food shipment restrictions to the former Russian Empire, particularly to ports controlled by the Reds, and from 1919-1922ish you saw a bipartisan F-k ups both Wilsonites and Lodgeites (such as Harding) with things like the ARA.

          So trimming it down to just “Wilson” I think is tempting but also misleading. Lenin was a violent, totalitarian ignoramus who was sure he knew better than everyone else, but one thing he did do fairly well was manipulate foreign opinion, including those of the other Allied governments, like the odious Lloyd-George.

          “The only reason we supported them was the cold war.”

          Not entirely sure what you’re referring to; I personally date the Cold War to 1917 given Lenin et. al.’s shockingly clear (at least if one is careful) intentions to screw the rest of the world over, but the norm is to date it as starting in 1945-7 after Stalin began opening tearing up a lot of the late and post WWII agreements. In any case that wasn’t why we supported the Soviets as we did, that was mostly “Humanitarian Aid” (in Wilson’s time) and “Detente”.

          And even if the Soviets did fall (which as I’ll discuss is not as likely as we’d hope) WWII would probably have started for other reasons. An Imperial Germany convinced that aggression had won it dominance over Central and Eastern Europe would be one major candidate, but even if that also got binned there were others. That’s part of the issue with fighting for freedom and why Wilson’s “War to end all Wars” was so much about his naive egotism.

          ” We FED them.”

          Very true.

          ” WIthout that? Bah.”

          Without that they’d double down on the War Communism (which if it sounds familiar to the “War Socialism” I talked about Re the Central Powers and their “War Socialism”/Kriegsocializmus, that isn’t coincidence) and violently extracted more resources from the countryside and foreign nations they invaded to try and make good the losses. Probably with less success than historical, but it’d keep them going for a While. Even if the lack of Western aid was enough to bring them down.

          “THey’d have gone to find a relative of the tsar to put on the throne.”

          They *tried that* in March 1917, when after Nicholas II abdicated for himself and his children, the military went to one of their own, “Big Nicholas” Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich.

          And he rejected it, because a veteran soldier and commander who had seen battle, threatened to shoot himself in order to bring peace in 1905, and spent the first two years dealing with managing Russia’s WWI Contributions took one look at the situation in early 1917 and backed away so hard it wasn’t even funny.

          It’s REALLY hard for me to understate how unpopular monarchism was in Russia by 1917 and the Revolutionary War era. This often gets overshadowed by the fact that Communist propaganda tended to call everybody fighting them “Whites” (even Anarchist or Socialists like the SRs or their old allies the ludicrously radical Kronstadt Soviet) and thus “Tsarists”, and how the single most prominent leader of the “Whites”- Admiral Kolchak- was a Tsarist, but many others weren’t. Leading White leaders like Kornilov (who tends to get painted as a Tsarist because of his clash with an uneasy Kerensky-Bolshevik alliance) and Denikin were Republicans, and even many of the actual Tsarists like Baron Wrangl dismayed at the prospect of getting support for an open restoration of the Romanovs (and tended not to support a restoration to the pre-constitution/1905 one) so they favored a policy of “Nondetermination”, ie first beat the Bolsheviks and then determine the shape and nature of the government.

          This is probably the single most important reason why the Bolsheviks had the upper hand more or less throughout the Revolutionary Wars. It sure as hell wasn’t because they were “scientific” like they claimed or all that smart (because they weren’t). It wasn’t because they were humane or actually carried through their “Land, Peace, Bread” promises (which are damning in how completely Lenin betrayed every single one of them). But they were- if nothing else- reasonably united and Absolutely Ruthless. And coupled with their ability to ride high on waves of naivety and disillusionment at home and war weariness and staggering ignorance of what tehy held abroad (hence Wilson and Lloyd-George and others thoroughly misunderstanding what they were about), it meant they were in a good position to wage war on numerically inferior, disorganized, and often demoralized troops.

          Especially when they could endlessly allege their opponents were determined to bring back the Absolute Monarchy of the Romanovs.

          Moreover, a Status Quo “Peace” Settlement that left the Central Powers substantially intact would probably make this worse, as they had the only effective army in Eastern Europe in 1918, and so would be able to feed the flames of the revolutionary wars (Siding with one side and then the other) in order to prevent any kind of united threat from disrupting their bona fide plantations and recruiting depots. Kind of like what German leadership actually did do but with much less success and far more panic.

          Someone smarter or at least more ethical than Wilson would have helped a lot of these problems, but I doubt it’d one shit fix them all.

            1. “Communism CAN’T feed itself. You’re missing htat.”

              I wish that were true, but even Mao- NOT one you look to for sustainable food- managed at his little pocket hell-state in Shaanxi (which is far from the most favorable territory for growing food).

              The truth is, Communism CAN feed itself on an uncompetitive, subsistence level, at least for a while. And it can further supplement that by looting food and other resources from people unfortunate enough to live on its borders or under its yoke…. and by taking full advantage of aid and trade with either external fifth columnists like Robert Maxwell or useful idiots like Woodrow Wilson (or I am sad to say Herbert Hoover).

              Usually the system collapses as it becomes impossible to sustain either the totalitarian security and war state that Communists believe is necessary (not unlike their uncle Ludendorff and Fascist cousins) or the kind of rudimentary sufficiency or competitiveness necessary to keep people from smelling how they’ve been had. But that can take a Long, Long time (especially with the sort of Commie Mini-States like what M19, FARC, and the Pathet Lao ran in the jungles), and one made worse if they’re being supported by other Commies, looting and black market shenanigans (oh the irony), and external support.

              Most tend to incorporate all three.

              1. It;s easy if you do it the Soviet way – just let the excess mouths starve, and then your food supply and demand are perfectly matched.

    5. And Wilson won the 1916 election by about 1,000 votes in California, which votes showed up a week after election day and could well have been vote fraud…

  2. except for the long war of Europe.

    I am unclear on this. Are you referring to the European war which began around 1750? Or the one beginning circa 1520?

    Or are you thinking an earlier start than the Lutheran Schism? Europe’s wars go back pretty far, after all, with little more than brief interruptions due to exhaustion or foreign foes.

      1. The end of the Napoleonic era makes a decent dividing line, imo. And that happened just over two hundred years ago.

        1. Yeah, but …to properly understand the Napoleonic Era you have to understand why the French Crow fell, which requires understanding the Seven Years War know in the Colonies as the French & Indian War) … and to understand that requires knowing the issues underlying the Glorious Revolution of 1689 … which in turn needs a grasp of Cromwell’s removal of the English head of state, and that entails understanding the weakening of the Catholic Church’s hold on Europe since Luther’s theses and Henry’s second wife.

          Of course, to truly understand all that requires studying the Norman claims on mainland European territory and the consolidation of power in Europe going back to Constantine …

          Really, you need to start at the beginning.

              1. Yes! We must rescue the soul of James A. Michener from the insanity within the Wallaby! [Crazy Grin]

          1. Yeah, but if you start at the paleolithic, then one history degree later, I still hadn’t gotten to the 1800’s. And nobody on this blog wants Sarah starting on a course of blog that’d take years to finish, and leave us without more books to read!

                1. Oh, absolutely. We weren’t looking for them where the coastlines were during the last Ice Age, so we lost them. Hubris! At least, at long last, not everybody (at least, around here) wonders what I’m nattering on about when I talk about Doggerland! And if the local politics above the surface ever calm to the point we can get some really good underwater archaeology of the Black sea, the number of submerged villages down there from long and long and very long ago, before the Med became the sea it is today…

                  1. There’s at least one documentary series on that on Roku’s(?) or Amazon’s(?) documentary channel. Very cool.

                    1. I’ve been tinkering around with one set either shortly before the Oruanui eruption or the Toba Catastrophe, Both occurred during the last glacial period so settlements would now be safely deep underwater. I kind of like Oruanui because it was right at the peak of glaciation and the eruption is conveniently close to where I was looking at placing the civilization.

                2. 1.8 million years is a long damn time. “Known history” is ~10,000 years, starting at Sumeria. -Nobody- invented agriculture before that? Or just nobody we found yet?

                  1. How the heck would you even SEE basic agriculture?

                    I use “there is an apple tree” to figure out that there must’ve been a house, and then look for roses and similar stuff to find where it was….in places a century old.

                    1. Rhubarb. If there’s still a bed of rhubarb, there was a house or a farm right nearby. In fact, that forgotten rhubarb patch is probably fairly close to where the kitchen once stood. Seriously. It works here in New England anyway to identify spots where homes used to be.

                    2. Many groves of nut trees along the eastern seaboard may have been nut orchards but we can’t tell.

          2. You don’t need to go back that far. Serial state bankruptcy and debauching the currency are the common factor. Overspending on wasteful wars fought for vanity the cause Igor the bankruptcy. .

          3. “Really, you need to start at the beginning.”

            Well, okay! 🙂

              1. “The story so far:
                In the beginning the Universe was created.
                This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.”

          4. And, conveniently, I noted that the dividing line was just *after* the Napoleonic Era.

            So we can skip all of that stuff


  3. > Stares in Babylonian captivity
    That (and the rest of Jewish history) was one of the two main things that brought me to Judaism after having been raised an atheist like generations of the rest of the Soviet youth (and as soon as the commies fell, religions exploded).
    With all those great empires over millennia doing so much to eradicate Jews, we are still here, but they are not (and neither are countless peoples successfully erased throughout history).

    But getting back to your example, I can also give you Russian paganism, which has survived (by infiltrating) both Christianity and communism. The holidays they (at the time, unofficially) observed, the “omens” they trust… It is truly incredible how resilient that stuff is.

    1. Anthropologists in the post Cold War Baltic States were a “bit” startled to find sacrifices and gifts being left in places where people had . . . left sacrifices and gifts going back wwaaaaaayyyy before the arrival of Christianity. As you say, survival, especially when the official religion(s) are imposed from above. “You are now all Catholics!” “You are now all Lutherans!” “You are now atheists.” Which won’t keep frost from ruining the crops, or ensure that the spirits of the field bless the cattle.

      1. The last pagan region of Lithuania wasn’t even *nominally* converted to Christianity until the mid 1400s. It takes a lot longer than that to lose cultural stuff.

    2. The Babylonian captivity is interesting because it arguably created the Jewish culture. Biblically speaking (and archeology seems to agree with this), Israel and Judea may have been formed by the descendants of Jacob, they may have owed their existence to the direct intervention of God, but they tended to pay lip service to Him and His laws and chase after any idol that looked shiny. Post-captivity, the Jews seemed to be a far more uniform people, far more serious about worshipping the One God.

      That may be a case where a very hard time DID in fact create strong men, or at least a strong culture; those who weren’t serious about it left the tribe and were absorbed in the general Babylonian culture, but those who were serious were VERY serious.

      1. Because the people taken into captivity were the educated “noble” class, for one. So “depending on whom you take.” And because the culture already encouraged “A people of hard spine.”

        1. Or as geneticists put it, “boiling off”…The Amish have become more Amish by the boiling off of members who aren’t that interested in Amish life, generally leaving for the city…

      2. This is why millennial cults tend to grow more fanatical when the promised millennium does not arrive.

    3. Baltic paganism. Still alive and well after 1000 or so years and at least four impositions of various faiths or official lacks-there-of.

    4. But getting back to your example, I can also give you Russian paganism, which has survived (by infiltrating) both Christianity and communism.

      ::interested:: Examples or places to look for more?

      I’m familiar with both baptizing traditions, and with how existing cultural things stay even after a place becomes Christian (pauses to glare at German witch-hunts) but Russian lore isn’t something I’m familiar with, beyond Gratuitous Russian name-drops like “hut with chicken legs” or “hungry water spirit that was betrayed young woman who drowned herself.”

      1. In fairness to the Germans, belief in witches (ie people who do evil for the evilness) wasn’t a German-Only thing.

        You can find evidence for the Witch in plenty of Cultures. 😦

        1. Oh heavens no, witches is a near universal thing.

          They just….

          *head tilt*

          Well. Hell. Their witch hunt setup was actually pretty close to the Holocaust with added the added Folks In Our Way It’s Their Fault Things Go Bad. (When I can find specifics, folks usually use that to mean just those found to be ‘too Jewish,’ but sometimes they use it for all of the exterminated.)

          Another thing to think about when there’s more brain space.

      2. One belief was that red was a protective color, though that one may be a bad example since it has survived largely because they went ‘oh! That’s why that works!’ When they heard about the blood of Christ.

        Another is the offerings left for the Domovoi (house spirits) in various place. Some of it seems to have the feel of ‘milk and cookies for Santa’, but that depended on who I talked to.

        Note: all sources were in this country though from Russia so the information is like rather dated, even when I got it 15 years ago. *leaves salt shaker*

        1. though that one may be a bad example since it has survived largely because they went ‘oh! That’s why that works!’ When they heard about the blood of Christ.

          That’s one of the things I’d look for, with baptized practices– I got burnt *BAD* with Venerable Bede’s calendar stuff, and his theorizing that there may have been a kami named Ester becoming a whole new neopagan thing.

          I mean, I’m quite Catholic, but…if I think there’s Something there that needs food, I’m going to leave it.

          It doesn’t matter if it’s a cat, or a freaky not-human tiny spirit power thingie.

          There is SOMETHING HUNGRY. Must FEED!


          1. There is SOMETHING HUNGRY. Must FEED!

            Well… It depends what the hungry something wants to eat. [Crazy Grin]

            1. I literally have a character who, when informed that another character was fighting cannibalistic urges towards her, responded by shoving a nice, crisp apple into his mouth and scolding him to keep his blood sugar up.


                1. The worst thing is, I wrote that while doing Lentin Abstaining– no meat.

                  And based it off of what worked…..

          2. Just a drop of the whiskey, if ye don’t mind. Ehm, a drop more. Ah, just leave t’bottle, go raibh maith agat, to be sure to be sure.

            1. I’d rather not do that.

              L. Sprague de Camp’s Main Character in “Land Of Unreason” got himself kidnapped by a drunken Wee Folk after he “spiked” the milk left for the Wee Folk. 😉

          3. Every year I have to deal with the game of telephone version of the Ester thing where Easter comes from Istar and thus Christianity just stole Babyonian religion.

            Easter is Passover. We stole it from the Jews fair and square (mostly kidding).

            1. Yeah that nonsense has invaded evangelical circles such that many now refer to Easter Sunday as Resurrection Sunday. I really don’t care where the word came from (and I’m not up to spending $100 a year for OED subscription to see its first use in english), we stole the word fair and square and it is a perfectly good English word and is ours now.

            2. Also note that English is literally the only language that calls it “Easter” and the Romance languages all use some variant of “Pascha”—which is, as you say, Passover.

              1. It’s ‘Ostern’ in German, likely linguistically related to the English ‘Easter’, but in Swedish, another Germanic language, it’s ‘påsk’.

            3. I have quite seriously described myself as a Jewish heretic.

              At one point while sharing “keep in religious limits” recipes with the observant Jew in our geek group, during Lent…..

          4. Hee! And in their favor, tge Domovoi tended to be pretty friendly to their host family… the NEIGHBORS were another story.

          5. >> “It doesn’t matter if it’s a cat, or a freaky not-human tiny spirit power thingie.”

            Cats are carnivores, though. Are cookies really safe for them?

            1. They’re obligate carnivores, that doesn’t mean they can’t eat anything that isn’t meat– they’re not set up to deal with most things in large amounts, though.

              1. >> “They’re obligate carnivores, that doesn’t mean they can’t eat anything that isn’t meat”

                Yeah, I get that, but it can still be unexpectedly bad for them. I may be misremembering the story, but didn’t Sarah have a cat – Miranda, I think? – that died from drinking tea?

                I’d check before leaving them anything other than meat or commercial cat food.

                1. Given how rarely cats die from living in a house with toddlers– with basic safeties like not having that one sugar substitute that induces diabetic shock, X-something– I figure we’re safe if they steal from the fairies.

                  1. The cats may be safe if they steal from the fairies but (as Sarah pointed out) the cats Are Not Safe if they kill one of the fairies. 😉

              1. Growing up, we had a Siamese cat who would cheerfully sample anything that he saw us eating: canned peaches, oatmeal cookie dough, breadcrusts, popcorn and cornflakes. He was especially fond of popcorn and cornflakes. But it had to be something that he saw us eating.
                Yes, weird. I know — but Siamese tend to be eccentric, as cats go.

                1. This one is an Ocicat; hybrid of Siamese, Abyssinian, and American Shorthair (look them up, you won’t be disapointed).

                  A long time ago he demanded his nightly leaf of Romaine lettuce, or else he would loudly voice his displeasure at bed time. He got tired of the lettuce though.

                2. I once saw a dog that would beg for what I was eating, snatch anything I dropped, on more than one occasion (dried apricots and blueberries) go eww and then go back to begging for it.

                  1. I’m not saying dogs are stupid, but find me another critter that will go after porcupines no matter how many times they get a face-full of quills, or chase another skunk while still stinking from the last one they chased. And then insist on trying to come in the house.

                3. We had a Siamese when I was growing up. Sing-A-Lee loved raw potato peels. She would grab one if we dropped it for her and go to town, chewing and making the noise that she made when the food was absolutely WONDERFUL. Her kittens tasted the peels and LOOKED at her. I could just hear them saying “You’re crazy, Mom.”

      3. The most obvious ones are the pagan holidays such as the Ivan Kupala night and the Koliady. And, of course, the Maslenitsa. People, especially in the countryside, still celebrate them.
        The knocking on wood, spitting over the left shoulder, not sowing something while it is being worn by a person… There are plenty of those omens that everybody there still follows, no matter how ridiculous.
        Then yes, the Russian folklore, with the Baba Yaga (who is the rightful owner of the Chicken-footed hut), Kaschei the Deathless, the Vodianoj (the water spirit guy) and the rest.
        Then there is the whole Russian (or Kiev-Russian) heroic mythology, such as Ilya Murometz and the rest of the Heroes. Those have been incorporated into the Kiev-Russian early Christian tradition (one of the Heroes is Alesha the Priest’s Son), with them fighting the Mongols, but at least in the edition that was available to us in the late USSR, there is zero Christian influence there. On the other hand, it contains so much of the folk magical stuff that it’s easily the continuation of the original pagan beliefs. I have read a couple of articles on how some of those heroes absorbed attributes of pagan deities such as Perun and the rest of that pantheon.
        On the other hand, it looks like those deities got morphed into some of the Russian Orthodox saints.
        But I am by no means an expert or even a dilettante at it. 🙂

        1. *has mended clothes on her kids, doesn’t find the Bad Luck thing irrational at all. 😀 *

          That said, my honest to God motive is to get more fodder. I really enjoy folklore, modern (*look at Coast to Coast AM*) and less modern, and it’s just so FUN to try to figure out how stuff fits, and what I can use for inspiration for fantasy writing, and what is just OMG YOU SEE THIS COOL STORY BRO?!?!

          I have been burnt a LOT by the … I think Victorian… thing of beating the ever loving crud of the evidence to make it fit the theory about Secret Pagan Practice.

          For the morphing thing… stories have a sort of– resonance?
          Which is why just this morning my son identified Marvel Universe Thor with my husband’s half-orc priest character. If there’s an awesome story that kinda sorta fits, they WILL conflate.
          (….no, said character was NOT based on Thor, in any form. His weapon is actually a club, but…. club, hammer, four year old…..)

          1. Well, in Portugal you tie a red ribbon on kids’ arms on March 1 (No idea why) and on maybe first, you’re supposed to collect “Maias” (yellow flowers on branches? TINY flowers) and put them on every opening to the house, including the chimney, to prevent evil from coming in.
            remember that last, because of May Day and the parades on TV. I thought the evil we kept at bay with te flowers were communists. 😛

            1. Vatican II tried to stamp out most of the popular devotions and practices. One of the reasons the church lost so many as they destroyed the communities.

              New brooms passed through the windows for a new house, saluting magpies, hell, not stepping on the lines in baseball. All customs going back to pagan times. In Ireland, they still light bonfires on Saint Johns eve and the Halloween pumpkin thing goes back to putting a candle in a hollowed out turnip to keep away the ghosts on Samhain. I remember going out hunting for a wren on Saint Stephen’s day. All pagan remnants.

              1. In Portugal too, on the bonfires. PARTICULARLY the city I come from. And jumping hand in hand over the bonfire was a marriage until the 18th century.

              2. The pagans had baseball?

                Or coaches don’t like having to rechalk lines.

                1. No. But most of the players were Irish back in the day when the superstition started and at most a generation from the fields. There’s all sorts of different superstitions about stepping on borders and lines there. New use of a very old practice.

          2. The mending-while-worn bad luck can be averted by tearing off a piece of the thread and making the child in question hold it in his mouth until the mending is being done. 😀
            And yes, I can still taste the thread when I think about it.

            1. Until the mending is done. Or while it is being done. Editing while hungry is not a good idea.

      4. >> “Russian lore isn’t something I’m familiar with, beyond Gratuitous Russian name-drops like “hut with chicken legs”

        Hang on, am I misunderstanding or are you saying Baba Yaga’s hut had its own name? Because I wasn’t aware of that.

          1. The thought of a hut with chicken legs scared you that much? Or am I misunderstanding?

            1. In Slavic folklore, the being called Baba Yaga lived in a hut usually described as standing on chicken legs.

              And if you know Slavic folklore, Baba Yaga can be a very terrible villain as well as being a helper.


              1. Yeah, I know about Baba Yaga and her hut. I mentioned it myself a couple of comments back. I’m just wondering what it was about the hut that Fox found so scary.

                1. Just knowing Who owned it could make people nervous.

                  Of course, seeing a Hut walking around (no matter what sort of legs it has) can rightly make somebody nervous.

                  IE The Strange should IMO make people nervous or concerned.

                  1. >> “Of course, seeing a Hut walking around (no matter what sort of legs it has) can rightly make somebody nervous.”

                    Baba Yaga: pioneer of the mobile home industry!

            2. It wasn’t the chicken legs.

              It’s that the hut acted like a chicken.

              … imagine a chicken the size of a house.

              There’s a reason that folks who raise chickens only half joke when they say that the T-Rex never went extinct.

              1. >> “It’s that the hut acted like a chicken.”

                Ah, I see your point. To a “chicken” that size we probably look like tasty little bugs.

                Hmm… Does that make Baba Yaga the first advocate of biomass-powered vehicles?

    5. Isn’t that the basis for most Jewish holidays? “They tried to kill us. They failed. Let’s eat!”

      I mean, hamantaschen has achieved a immortal fame for Haman, well over… what, 2300 years since his empire was wiped out? There’s an odd way to view history: “When all is dust and ashes, and the Sun has gone nova, still out amoung the stars, across tens of thousands of lightyears, your name will be remembered… as one more person who tried to kill G-d’s Chosen People, and failed. Pass the cookies!”

      1. That’s one of the weird Jewish practices. We have to read the book of Esther (aloud) on Purim. And we have to blot out the name of Hamen. So when the book is being read, everybody has noisemakers, and uses them when Hamen’s name is read.

  4. And notice his saying is about strong men and weak men; not good men and bad ones; or wise men and fools.

    Belgians inbred? May be why most of the G.I.s over there say Belgian women are scarce, and the sheep are afraid. And that if you see a beautiful woman in Belgium; then you know she’s from another country. (Speaking from experience having lived in Belgium for a very long year.) Nice enough people, but oh lord, nobody is going to win a beauty pageant.

    1. And notice his saying is about strong men and weak men; not good men and bad ones; or wise men and fools.

      True. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were all strong men who emerged from hard times. But from that, I don’t think it follows that strong men create good times…

        1. I’d argue they are also a necessary condition for the worst times. Look at the five greatest mass murderers in history: Gengis Khan, Mao, Tamerlan, Stalin, and Hitler (roughly that order, 3&4 are debatable). All were strong men except perhaps Hitler (charismatic alone isn’t strong).

          And they supplied the worst manmade diasters in history.

    2. I think the term was hard countries breed hard men and I remember a line from one of the Conan books to the effect that soft countries bred hard men to keep the men from hard countries away.

      In my experience, the really hard countries breed fairly passive men since life left little time for anything beyond surviving.

  5. You didn’t mention George Santayana, but most of my history professors didn’t care much for Santayana’s formulation, either, because while they said it was important to know whence you came, they also said history didn’t and couldn’t guide you through your own times, i.e., it was not a model to follow slavishly and expect identical results (which in most cases — Rome as you say — weren’t desired in any case). Different situations, different motivations, different people. And always different outcomes.

    I agree with that to this day. Rome was what Rome was. The Founders and the Framers were certainly influenced by it, but they did not create a new Rome. Or a new Greece. They themselves would tell you that they had created a new thing, novus ordo seclorum. And they were not wrong.

    1. The mere fact that we *have* the Roman example means it is impossible to follow Rome in any but the broadest possible terms. Broad enough to be meaningless, and match every civilization in history.

      1. ::cackles with utterly excessive amusement::

        Oh, that would be awesome… I am ALMOST able to hear him trying to convey the same kinda thing, based off of the I<3Radio clip where he's preaching on "you try to hit that note, maaaaan, and if you die hitting it, then that's what you do" — and my kids are looking at me funny because no way can I explain that. 😀

        1. Got a fox spirit woman
          Got a fox spirit woman

          I’ve got a fox spirit woman
          Always knows the latest meme
          Yes she is a fox spirit woman
          And she’s tryin’ to show some anime to me

          …And now I probably need to run away very, very fast. 😛

            1. I can’t tell if you’re amused or threatening to murder me unless I pacify you with free candy.

              Oh, well. If I wake up to find a pissed off kitsune at my throat some day, at least I’ll have my answer.

                1. Cute Critters can be the most dangerous type as “what you see may not be What They Are”. 😈

                2. >> “Besides, see? Cute little vulpix at the end!”

                  Yes, but only AFTER someone gave it free candy! 😉

    2. Perhaps the best way to understand the idea of history repeating is to understand the birth of opera under men like Peri and Monteverdi in the late 16th century and early 17th century.

      These were men of the Renaissance out to revive dramatic theater from the age of Classical Greek.

      They gave us opera.

      That’s what happens when you try to repeat history.

  6. Had to look up “Fados” but you won’t hear me singing it.

    For that matter, You Do Not Want To Hear Me Sing Anything! 😈

    1. Hey! As my wife always says, “If God gave you a beautiful voice, let him hear it. If he didn’t, then give him every opportunity to change His mind.”
      And yes, she directs choirs.

      1. *is on this side*

        I don’t like shutting down the joy people feel when they participate in arts, even if they’re really bad at them.

        1. *waves flag*
          I’m the folks who will comment “she sounds like she’s having fun singing, you sound like you’re trying to pass a gallstone with style” when the “helpful” folks get a little too pushy.

          Doesn’t help that they always seem to target the folks who are actually pretty good singers, but aren’t doing professional twitches. (…which usually take instruments to make them sound great. Yeah….)

          1. Almost everyone can learn to sing in tune, but to even get there they have to not be shamed or feel embarrassed about being bad at things first. So I always figure: encourage them to do it, and then work on them doing it well, if they care to. But you can’t get someone to practice if they’ve been humiliated or shamed into not wanting to try.

            1. Speaking of, the Great Courses Plus has a singing thing that has all kind of excessive looking warnings on it, but got our eldest to stop doing “sing in a fake high pitch” thing.

              Need to nag her to keep going. 😀 This is the same daughter that taught herself to play “Twinkle Twinkle” on a keyboard by me finding sites on youtube etc and giving her the links, then staying the heck away.

              (I have a REALLY HORRIBLE habit of– k, know how Sarah mentioned her mom would take stuff she was doing away, and do it CORRECTLY? I try not to do that.)

              1. We have a course older son used to teach himself to play piano at six.
                We’re keeping it in case of grandkids, but do you want me to look up the name?

                1. Nah, once she managed “Twinkle Twinkle,” the Princess was done.

                  Especially once I waived the idea of “learning musical notation” near her.

                  1. A music teacher told me once that standard musical notation was developed back in a time when ink was still expensive, and thus it was designed to use as little of the stuff as possible rather than to be easily readable. He mentioned a more modern musical notation system that he claimed could be taught in an hour, though I can’t recall the name of it. But no one wants to do the work of converting all the existing notation to another system, so…

                2. I would, if you have time.

                  And also if any Huns have recommendations on good courses on history of the Holy Land. Preferably one that doesn’t come from the view that the religious aspects are just quaint myths.

            2. I have a good friend who fits into the “almost” part. He enjoys music, has his car radio tuned to the classical music station as he commutes… but he can’t hear which pitch his own voice is singing. He goes to church every week and sings in the congregation, so it’s not like he doesn’t have plenty of practice with singing, but the best he can do is go up or down to approximately the right pitch, and he’s often more than a half-tone off. (I used to sit next to him in the pews back when I was living in the same town as him, so I know). He’s not ashamed about it, either; he’ll quite happily talk about how he can’t hear what pitch he’s singing, and so he sings in the congregation but wouldn’t ever join the choir. 🙂

          2. Oh good lord, so much this. I may not have perfect pitch (which is as much training as it is inborn), but I have really good relative pitch, which means I can definitely hear when people are off. BUT I survived four years of summer camp with folk who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, and enthusiasm counts for much. There was a recent sports event where the national anthem was sung by a bunch of amateurs—firefighters, nurses, cops, etc.—and I have to give major props to the director, because they took a bunch of people who were decent-but-not-great and arranged them to show them off to their best advantage. I could hear when they weren’t quite on pitch, but it didn’t matter, because they sang well and with heart. (It also doesn’t hurt that it was a “clean” version, no unnecessary melisma or weird little vocal tics that are annoying.)

            Oh, and autotune? It’s awful. I have friends who are professional singers—even professional opera singers, who have to sing over an orchestra without a microphone—and you can hear the difference.

            1. *guilty request* … can you tell me if Mr. Vasc is using it in this?

              I just know “I like this” and “wow, this impresses me.” It’s not like it’ll make me love the song less, but I want to know.

              Song loved because it showcases both the metal scream and at about 4 minutes the “by the way, I have a gorgeous voice for wester/folk type songs” thing.

              1. I’m still listening, but I’m on the side of “not autotune.” There are enough overtones to support that—autotune tends to strip them out.

                And… have you encountered Devin Townsend yet? If you love incredible voices, he’s the kind of person who does things that should not be possible with a human voice and still having one. Like the song “Things Beyond Things,” which is fairly gentle for metal, then goes to twenty seconds of silence, then does this absolutely inhuman scream in at least three distinct notes, and it just keeps going—and this was decades ago, he still has a beautiful voice.

                1. I am foolishly pleased to hear that.

                  Seriously, if I was like fifteen years younger, I would have SUCH a crush on Vasc.

                  ….this guy the one you’re mentioning?

                  I’m on very lame speakers ATM, but I’m totally sending it to the Elf, I think he’ll get inspiration from it.

                  Freaky video, but the over-all effect…. I think part of why I like “metal” style stuff is that the voice is as much an instrument as an informing thing.


                  Watches video

                  *gives up and watches the gal’s eyebrows instead*


              2. To my eye and ear… this is the first of his that I’ve watched that looks lip-synced. Subtle, but not quite matched. Also sounds like it was lightly trimmed. [I have a tested-perfect ear, despite being unable to carry a tune with a forklift.] Still, heck of a performance just to reach all that range and be close enough, never mind dead on.

                Really takes an unplugged-with-variations to be sure; some of these guys are as good as they sound, others… oy, me ears….

                Couple songs I’d like to (and have suggested) hear him do… Dame tu Aire and Wicked Game (which refits well to every sort of style).

                1. Sent him to my mom– who Does Not Do Metal– and her response was “….wow, that guy can sing, can’t he?”

            2. I had decent relative pitch as a youn’un, but after my voice started changing, I stopped doing choral stuff. (Junior choir. JR HS glee). After a few years, I found I needed the bucket for the tunes.

              OTOH, I don’t have the inclination to try to recover that half-century old ability. I’d rather hear somebody else sing well than try to do the same. (OTOH, get me alone and certain songs will be heard. Tom Lehrer is a good composer when one is mowing a pasture. 🙂 )

          3. The professional twitches (AKA ornamentation) is for solists. if you are singing in a choir (or a large group of folks) the odds that you’ll sing the ornaments the same way as the rest of the folk quickly approaches 0. This generates at best a little dissonance and at worst cheer cacophony 😉 .

            1. I cannot support or argue against you.

              I can just go “oh, wao, Mr Vasc at like four minutes is gorgeous, and Famous Person doing Famous Song is just… it doesn’t work.”

              :boggles: LIke how his National Anthem was a lot better than a lot of the local versions…. (he’s a Brazilian vet, but a lot of born Americans ….didn’t measure up….)

            2. You find this If you listen to a top pipe band versus your local PD Emerald Society or Sons of Scotland pipes and drums. the really top bands play all the ornaments properly and the whole band sounds them together It can be breathtaking. Jigs especially. The local PD band slurs the ornaments and it comes out muddy. A lot of the members of the PD band can play damn near as well as the top band players do but the band sound is utterly different.

              78th Fraser’s or Field Marshall Montgomery pipe bands are worth a listen to see what the instrument can do when played in unison.

              1. Certainly there are groups of singers that CAN do this, classic example are large Barbershop Choruses (e.g Vocal Majority or Masters of Harmony), also semi professional audition only choruses like BSO’s Tanglewood Festival Chorus or Atlanta’s ASO chorus or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. But the practice time involved for the Barbershoppers or just the sheer musical acumen of the symphonic choruses (Many of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus singers are voice teachers or music teachers) to do this is immense. So the situation is similar to that for the pipe bands.

      2. God never said, ‘Sing me a perfect aria.’ God said, ‘Make a joyful noise.’ Which is really good news for a lot of folks in my family. My mother in particular couldn’t carry a tune if you gave her a bucket and let her use both hands.

  7. The idea might be wrong, but it’s not Marxist. I think it was stated first by Ibn Khaldun in the Muqaddimah, as a theory of the rise and fall of dynastic families – new dynasties rise at the borders of civilization where life is a constant struggle, then take over and grow weak while living at the heart where life is easy and luxurious, until overthrown by another dynasty.

    And really, it follows from an observation you made yourself, that humanity began as a scavenger species and needs trouble and danger to thrive – when there’s nothing to strive for, we grow sick and confused, and eventually destroy ourselves out of sheer boredom. I think the peculiar excellence of the American political tradition is to provide great prosperity without any safety. When it was healthy, one could live well in the USA, but not rest – be happy, but never secure. And that prevented the decline which usually comes from luxury, since normally the first thing people buy with prosperity is security, and it’s security that weakens us.

    1. For a family, maybe? BUT for a country, hell no.
      And you’re insane if you believe your second paragraph.
      The US has ALWAYS been insanely secure compared to the rest of the world.
      This is bull shit all the way down. Accept it, believe it.
      And like hell it’s not Marxist. “The times” are the material conditions, that supposedly mold men absolutely. And equally. Across history.
      This is bullshit. I don’t care who said it original or in what context. What this guy is saying, and that context? BULLSHIT.

      1. Once you get past Jamestown (climate problems and really bad location) and the Year Without a Summer, finding accounts of where a region had food supply problems is really hard in US history. Small groups, yes, but entire states/sections going hungry? No.

        1. You might want to look at the records of what happened in the South during the ACW and Reconstruction

          I’ll be the first to admit that just as US history doesn’t mention it, Southern history may have over emphasized it, but when you go to the archives in Alabama or Georgia, there’s too many records to make that assertion.

          1. WP ate my reply, so I’ll try again. Short version – I wasn’t clear. I meant environment-caused hunger, not politics-caused hunger.


              Killed about half the livestock and crops were still in the fields. Next few years weren’t much better, and sometimes worse. Main reason there weren’t more deaths is because the region was still so thinly populated, but everyone was on starvation rations.

              www DOT record-eagle DOT com/news/revisiting-the-blizzard-of-81-140-years-later/article_80029678-76bf-11eb-b379-334ba2fff865.html

              www DOT youtube DOT com/watch?v=eNGn_-msT1M

              www DOT kristinholt DOT .com/archives/10240

        2. > Jamestown

          A lot of the colonies got into trouble. Many of them were city dwellers who knew nothing about farming or animal husbandry (poke a hole, stick a seed in, how hard could it be?), and some of them nearly starved while surrounded by more food than they could eat, but it wasn’t exactly like what they’d eaten “back home”, and damned if they were going to eat that weird stuff until the were actually starving…

          1. Pretty much this – amateur farmers, didn’t want to eat “that weird stuff” … I have read that ships of American corn came to Ireland during the famine of the early 1800s, and Irish died of hunger because they didn’t know anything about that nasty foreign grain-stuff…

      2. That something is not original to Marx does not mean it’s not “Marxist.” Indeed, Sowell points out in his book “Marxism” (Sowell was a Marxist in his younger days and so can give both the believer’s and the skeptic’s view) that Marx added nothing of note to economic or political thought. He basically kludged together a bunch of ideas of others that he understood poorly if at all and presented it as if it were some great new thing.

    2. The lie in it comes with conflating “Strive” with “Hard Times.”

      Christianity has a goal that cannot be reached– Godlike perfection in goodness.

      …which, honestly, I only thought of because I was thinking of stuff that you can’t ever manage but can reach for, and I’m going to have to chew on that more….

      But “good times” has nothing to do with “nothing to strive for.”

      Good heavens, one of the most basic things for civilization is “we have enough to eat that that guy, over there, can stop trying to get enough food to just not die and can do something he’s good at, like make baskets. Which makes it so we get more food in a way we can actually eat it, which makes it so we can have that gal over there work at making this thing she calls ‘soap,’ which feels good after we use it and for some reason people don’t die if they use it fairly often.”

      (K, massively skipping, but made me smile.)

      1. And then the Ooga Booga came and killed all the basket-weavers due to their soft hands. Woe be to he to attempts to get above his station!

        1. >> “Woe be to he to attempts to get above his station!”

          Just in case anyone here hasn’t already seen this:

  8. The quote, however, is dumber than hell.

    Worse than dumber than hell, it’s fatuous and the kind of dellusion someone will acquire when he looks at Roman history from A LONG WAY OFF and then decides this is some kind of law of nature.

    It’s truthish-flavored gruel, to coin a Pratchettism.
    It’s got enough accuracy to sort of work– if you don’t have enough prosperity to deal with stupid stuff, then the people who do stupid stuff (along with most other folks) are dead before they can get seriously stupid– and doesn’t take a stance beyond that.

    Try tamping it down? Oh, you have success, but not Weak Men? Must not be enough success! You have Strong Men but no success? Not strong enough! Stuff goes bad? It’s cus you’re WEAK!

    It’s a lame paint-over of the “if bad things happen, it’s because you sinned” temptation that humanity has– with success as the sin.

    1. It’s truthish-flavored gruel, to coin a Pratchettism.
      It’s got enough accuracy to sort of work

      So a perfect progressive shibboleth. They adore building horrific constructs of torture and pain on seeds of truth.

        1. There is hardly a progressive construct they don’t like.

          I’ve mentioned before that any real boog would involve a distressing amount of blue-on-blue for reasons of random psychopaths and lunatics thinking they know what Real America is about.

          I’ve started to fear that a real boog would involve mostly blue-on-blue. As there seems to be a just under the surface seething hatred of everything America is / is supposed to be, disguised as laments for an America-that-was which never existed.

          Note that I am not talking about the Conservative elites here. I mean the rank and file you see in forums. And “russian bots” can only go so far as an excuse….

          1. There are a lot of Russian bots, TBF. But there’s also at least two generations of severely maleducated people who think they aren’t.
            Public schools should be OUTLAWED.

            1. I forgot one of the clauses in my comment: we have however many of the conservatives that would force a blue-on-blue, but the official enemy has approximately nothing for real numbers.

              So in le grande bouge antifa gets turned into a red smear on whatever was behind / underneath them in the first couple days.

              A couple weeks later the progressive politicians (and most of the conservative ones) are either screaming at the EU parliament to help them retake the country, or have rotted enough that people are mostly willing to start taking down the lamp posts. All the “go along to get along”s have switched sides.

              Then the real boog starts between the remaining 98% of the population. Sides: Americans vs People who think abandoning America is proof that America didn’t work (as if there exists a system that can survive that).

            2. That would be a good start…

              I’m not sure the colleges can be saved in their present form, either.

            3. Been saying that about the schools for years.
              Coincidentally, current news says teachers unions are influencing CDC guidelines for school openings (or not). Surprise! CDC is full of Dems anyway.

              1. There is nothing that the Left will not destroy out from under themselves.

                If we go another year without in-person public schools, the teacher’s unions will find there are no longer public schools anywhere but the inner city, where most of them don’t want to teach.

                Parents in the suburbs are already not putting up with this shit.

                1. Indeed. I have read here and there that the reason that most teachers in public schools don’t want to go back to the classroom is because they are teaching in inner-city sink schools, with violently-inclined pupils … and they just don’t want to deal with that. In spite of having indulged and excused the violently-inclined pupils for at least a couple of decades.

                  1. Back when I was in, I looked at the troops to teachers program.

                    … I decided that “be sitting duck and MAYBE not able to shoot back” was better than “be sitting duck and charged for catching the fist with a knife going for your throat.”
                    As I found in multiple examples…..

                    1. Run by the insane, such that Bob doesn’t always look the worse option.

                2. My sister in law has a mother that has loaded all of her parental failings on to the SIX MONTHS that she “homeschooled.”
                  (as opposed to, y’know, recognizing hat deployed husband for two thirds of 20-some years matters)

                  She’s still gone home school, while doing chemo. Brother is at least in country for this part, but….

                  I am TRYING to be help, including literally buying them a PC to hook to the TV for monitored education time. ( fairness, I did that years ago, because I think it’s good, and shared our “school level” sub to several things with them.)

                  HSLDA, please, folks! At least for the first year or two! Make the investment that first year, at least! ESPECIALLY NOW!

                  They are already earing their keep in being able to do the call back when crazy guy at state level school complex goes “oh, you’re not here, you’re stealing our money.”

          2. >> “I’ve started to fear that a real boog would involve mostly blue-on-blue.”

            “Fear?” Not that I want a boog at all, but if it must happen I’d be relieved if it turned out be mostly infighting on the other side. Still costly, perhaps, but the more they focus on each other instead of us the better.

        2. I think it’s because the US Right has never seen actually hard times, and has seen how kids who are always coddled and never challenged, who never have to work at things, utterly fail at attempting things, let alone succeeding at them.

          We can see the soft, weak crowd buying into microaggressions and they who raised them buying that riots are peaceful protests, we can see that wimps plus enablers leave open an opportunity for hard times (American definition: 1970s probably), to happen, and we’re used to looking for the cloud lining on every peice of silver.

          If you peg the quote to the peculiarly American English definitions that Hard Times=1970s and Strong Men=Ronald Reagan then Good Times follows as mid-80s to mid-90s, and Weak Men as the participation trophy kids.

          Globally? No. But in the US, given very peculiar and, dare I say, sheltered, definitions, I can see where the idea catches the Right’s interest.

          (Spent the trip home from routine well-child visit talking with 17yo about how the US is the only country in the entire known history of the world where poor people’s biggest health problems are obesity-related. The sheer weirdness of the USA is much on my mind right now.)

        3. The Left, much as I am loath to admit it, are humans just like the rest of us. Thus, there is no folly they engage in that the rest of us are not susceptible to.

          The issue in this time and place is the defining beliefs of the Left as such that they are beyond susceptible to many more things than those who are not Left.

    2. Yep.
      And frankly someone tried to answer that on FB with “bad times create smart men” but the ability to surive is not “smart” in terms of civilization. In fact, I KNOW because mom’s generation starved in utero and as toddlers, it mostly creates stupid men.

    3. It’s got enough accuracy to sort of work– if you don’t have enough prosperity to deal with stupid stuff, then the people who do stupid stuff (along with most other folks) are dead before they can get seriously stupid

      True enough, but as Spinal Tap pointed out, “It’s a fine line between stupid and clever.” Enough prosperity to experiment means that you miss out on a lot of really stupid ideas, but you also miss out the ones that turn out to be brilliant. For example, I don’t think I would have guessed which side of the line, “If we feed sick people bread mold, it will make them better,” would end up on. In hard times, I’m pretty sure that Alexander Fleming would have been told to take his nasty molds and get out of there. In a more prosperous era, he’s more likely to be told, “Well, we do have enough pork this year that I guess we could try feeding it to a sick pig and see if it gets better…”

      Really, it seems like good times are what creates more good times.

      1. Little light bulb:
        and that line between stupid and clever moves, depending on the context of the quote.

        I’m pretty sure that there are a LOT of ways that folks could make the quote work– that’s the point of it being gruel. It doesn’t take a strong enough stand to be tightly tested and tossed.

        The ways to make it work might even be REALLY GOOD, and actually convey very useful stuff. Humans are cool like that. ^.^

        1. If you can and (and do) run a million ‘insane’ experiments, you might find that NOT ALL of that million are insane after all. But to do, you must first have a society capable of running them. Time, liberty… important precursors.

      2. I’m pretty sure that Alexander Fleming would have been told to take his nasty molds and get out of there …

        Of course, by the time Mr. Fleming was pushing bread mold he had already demonstrated its efficacy in killing bacteria, thanks to microscopes. Before those useful devices there is no question about people’s acceptance.

        So it somewhat depends on with what you’re working, eh?

        1. I think that just further proves the point: good times are more or less required to have both microscopes and the leisure to study what’s going on under them.

  9. The mistake you’re making there, Sarah, is in thinking of these changes – soft, weak, hard, etc. – as being monogenerational. No, it’s not that quick. However, over the longer term…well, the Roman Army that could lose a quarter to a third of all the military age manpower in Italy in the course of an afternoon (2 August, 216 BC), and yet still go on to win the war, when compared to a Roman Army that lost a mere three legions from a much larger population, and yet could not even replace them? Yeah, that’s an example of a culture changing over the course of a couple of centuries, from amazingly tough, resilient, determined, brave, patriotic, etc.. to one that was simply weak at the macro scale, even if able to field capable professional armies.

    1. Colonel? It’s still not true.
      Culture is more important, and frankly cultures are BAFFLING.
      We’re still in “Imprint” an English culture. How? I DON’T KNOW. I wish to hell there was real sociology so we could find out.
      That is, btw, part of this post. The fricking post would be 15000 words, if I’d put everything in, so it will have to go by chunks.
      Look, it’s not multi-generational either. That’s the temptation. “We’ll fall and suffer and our successors” — that is also bullshit.
      As far as I can tell from history, continued hard times might choose for survival, but that mostly implies subservience and enduring, not “toughness” in civilization building.
      Mind you, it’s a very old MYTH. Which is why people keep attributing this to Gibbon. “Our ancestors, fed on acorn bread, living on nothing” was the Roman version of the bullshit.
      It’s still bullshit. Just aged.

      1. I wish to hell there was real sociology so we could find out.

        One of my darker thoughts is that, somewhere back a couple of decades ago, a few sociologists figured out some stuff that really worked. And then they used their knowledge to spin the rest of the field off into irrelevancies like “oppression olympics,” so they could keep the society-steering goodies for themselves. (Plot bunny, free to a good home …)

        Watched a neighbor’s kid grow up. She’s smart and was really interested in sociology — until she got to college and found out that the whole field had turned into woke, er, meadow muffins. Quick course change, and she majored in the softer side of business (marketing and organizational behavior). She still wishes she could find a way to learn sociology “like it says on the label.”

      2. And, yet, _still_ the Rome that could lose so many men in an afternoon at Cannae could not make good the losses of 3 miserable legions in the Teutoburger Wald 2 centuries later, despite having a greater population. And, yet, still, the Army that played a great part in beating Germans and Japanese was humiliated in Korea, largely due to a mere five years of easy living.

    2. If I remember my very thumbnail version of Roman history, the fight against Carthage was quite literally keep fighting or be wiped out in an extremely horrific sort of manner by notably horrific folks.

      That’s not strong vs weak, that’s a cost-benefit situation.

      The very limited education I got in Roman history doesn’t let me identify the second war you’re talking about, but since there are folks who are still arguing about if “Rome” actually fell, or just kind of shattered into a bunch of tiny Romes with aspects of the older culture… it’s not all that cut and dried.

        1. Kinda like Mayan vs Aztec?
          (90% sure Mayan is correct, vs Inca, but only mostly sure.)

          The one where their child sacrifices were nearly adult, and they poisoned them with sleeping drugs before leaving them to freeze to death, rather than doing mass vivisection sacrifices.

          1. Looking at the geography, I’m not sure the Mayans had ready access to a place where you could kill by freezing; the Inca had the Andes all around them.

      1. (Note: I’d have to give many, many more figs about Rome than I do, to define “Rome” and “fall” sufficiently to take a side on the ‘when did Rome fall, if it did’ argument. They had many many much lootable good thought-treasures and resources, that’s all I care about.)

        1. ^^that^^

          Listening to the …. argh… Catholic monk, podcast, something Habit, he teaches history to future priests…. the “draw a line where Rome fell” thing is mega squishy.

        2. “Only the phoenix rises and does not descend. And everything changes. And nothing is truly lost.” — Neil Gaiman, “Exiles”

  10. I tend to disagree. I would contend in hard times strong men and psychopaths tend to flourish and in good times soy boys and psychopaths take to the field. As to such shaping and delimiting our world, yes, to some extent but other factors more so.

    Horrors of the depression? Before my time but only by a generation. My parents experienced it. I still remember stories of my dad, joining CCCs sent from Ohio to NV, CA to work on public projects, mailing his laundry back to Ohio to be washed & my grandmother mailing it back. Bread lines and soup kitchens were part of the discussions, but horror, not so much.

    Forties and fifties, “…rose-colored glasses of … imagine the forties and fifties as some kind of golden paradise for America….”? Many of my best memories., in my opinion really good years and r-c glasses or not, yes rather a golden era. The thing I remember most , that made the golden glow, was that posturing in D.C, even legislating in the state capitol has very little, almost no, effect on our day to day lives. We’d read about it in the paper, shake our heads and sigh, thern get back to doing what we want, how we wanted to.

    Parenthetical aside; (Sigh, the half line horror is back on my machine, when I try to post. I can mouse expand the space but then my typing extends beyond the range of the new box so I still can’t see with I’m righting. My workaround for now; go over to LibreOffice writer, type there copy and past here.)

    1. Nope. You are viewing your youth as “golden age.” But if you drill down there were more outrages against the Constitution than NOW. The press just didn’t report them.
      As for good times breeding soyboys? I doubt it. WHAT good times, anyway? My generation came of age under Jimmah and has fought to keep its head above water.
      You’re cherry picking. Sorry.

      1. Cherry picking? Nope, I don’t think so but I will allow we’re both viewing the world with drastically different backgrounds and hence, see things differently. Quite agree many outrages against the Constitution back then, more than now? That I’d question.

        However my point was back in that golden age, government actions had little effect on our lives. They were not in our bathrooms, bedrooms, and, then only had a small presence even in the workplace.

        & right, good times needs defining or replacement by a better term.

        I think we can define bad times as when you have to root hog or die, just to get by.

        I do think a time when, as I read on the web last week, ‘A Record 34% Of All Household Income In The US Now Comes From The Government’ produces soy boys but calling such good times is rather misleading.

        You, me, agree or disagree, I quite enjoy the discussions.

        1. My parents, who were not very political, wore “I like Ike” buttons. Seemed like a good period of time, but I was too young to be political and critical.

      2. Yeah but you had all these new fangled tech. They only had lawns, and they *liked* it. And get off the lawn until you can appreciate it!

      3. On Golden Ages, IMO most people’s “Golden Ages” amount to their earlier teens.

        When they were independent enough to be away from parents but not old enough to be expected to work. [Crazy Grin]

      4. I think he may be responding to the way that even folks who were violently against What America ***IS*** acted like they love her.

          1. Yeah, but it’s hard to tell false friends from true, and the whole thing about …. something vice pays virtue something….

      5. And even if true….. there is a huge planet sized difference between “have these protections because no one has tried them” and “have these protections because you ripped them out of your enemy’s hands and strangled him with them”.

        For the most obvious example: compare the state of the Second in 1910 vs 2010.

    2. I think “hard” and “soft” are the wrong terms than “strong men” and “weak men. ” I’d go with “crunchy” and “soggy.” Crunchy is when you have direct and immediate feedback from your actions, while soggy is when what you do doesn’t make much difference. It’s the difference between working straight commission and salary.

      As Sarah notes, America has been blessed to have mostly good times, not bad ones. But we’ve also been a very crunchy culture, where hard work gets rewards and sloth leads to starvation.

      Compare that with the cultures that live in permanent bad times. The people there are able to work just as hard, but they never know if there’ll be a reward for it. Will it get confiscated by the local warlord or forcibly distributed to his neighbors? Will some pretty squabble result in crops being trampled? That doubt about the future discourages innovation and expansion.

      Now, the good times brought on by crunchiness can lead to sogginess and bad times. You see this in businesses. You see it in the fall of the Roman Republic where the massive amount wealth and slaves wrecked the economy and created the bread and circuses mob.

      The genius of the American system was that we managed to have our crunchiness and good times too. The Great Depression started the trend of making America soggier and soggier, until the very idea that “he who will not work shall not eat” is considered evil. These soggy times will lead to a reckoning where things will get crunchy indeed.

      1. I like this distinction. It’s something I’ve noticed in my own life, and I’ve spent quite a bit of it working towards *efficacy*. I’m happy when my work is accomplishing something. I’m miserable when I’m trapped in powerpoint hell making quad charts and trying to convince people to let me do things.

        I’ve finally attained a goal that I’ve been slowly working towards for years: I now have a workshop, and it’s shaping up slowly to be a nice one. (Just in time for the country to go crazy and the price of steel/every-other-material to triple.) I can build things now. I’m no longer trapped in a microscopic apartment in some hellish city only able to build things on a computer.

        One of my nightmares is a world where I’m kept as some sort of pet (and/or livestock, and/or relegated to some reservation) and unable to *do* anything. That a nontrivial fraction of my peers seem to want that gives me the creeps. (Well if they want it, and we can afford it (we can’t) fine; but its being used as moral sanction to force it on others.)

      2. Critical part of American exceptionalism is the amount of oral history other places have, that we lacked, historically speaking.

        Not being aware of the ancient grudges and losses let us live at peace with some very different people, and go after enemies with resolution.

        Hard environments mean not forgetting that stuff.

    3. Weirdness: I had a comment rejected (page load was too old?) and after a reload, I got a proper edit window… once. I checked on another computer, running the exact same browser version, and got the proper edit window. When I have time to try it, I might see about “deleting” (renaming/moving) local data to see if that clears things up… and if they STAY cleared if so.That might be a while. Work… well, there are at least two outright fictions on the schedule. (Allegedly there three new hires. I have yet to see a single one of them appear. Fictions.)

  11. Yeah, I lost my temper on this a little the other day.

    Theory being claimed was, because of bad laws allowed to pass, America was being judged, and Babylonians in captivity.

    Several issues.

    One, yes, terrible laws, horrible things done. But, there have been many terrible regimes in modern history, and the prior cohorts of American were not strictly plaster saints.

    Second, was the Holocaust a Judgement by God? That is a more correct model for the current evil insanity than the Babylonians.

  12. Meanwhile, France lost all its young men, twice. It starved. I mean really starved. We don’t have recorded instances of cannibalism, but I’d be shocked if it hadn’t occurred “a little bit, all over.” Its fields and villages were destroyed.

    Even the UK continued rationing after WW2 ended, with the end of rationing coming in 1954. Some kinds were stricter immediately after the war than during.

    1. If you’ve ever read “84 Charing Cross Road”, it shows up vividly.

    2. My grandfather shut down all the anti American BS in the family with “after the wars, they filled your empty bellies.” He wouldn’t hear a word against us, which for a man of his age, class, and time was unusual since he was a pre WWI British Indian Army officer; son and grandson of British Indian army soldiers. They were not noted for their tolerance or liking of foreigners of any sort, never mind Americans.

      1. …you just outlined why “they” hate us so much.

        I do not get WHY, but folks hate it when you help them–because they need it. Because they’d die. Because you’d hate yourself if you didn’t.

        1. Yes and no. They hated us well before that, at least the officer class did and does. The working class and peasants simply took ship to Amerikay. At the end of the day it was and is a class thing. America didn’t care what class you were and the proles didn’t do what they were told by their betters. This is intolerable to them.

          I spent yesterday with a whole patio filled with recent Ivy League graduates — can’t go inside because of wu-flu — their contempt for the the working class was startling. Now, it was bad when I was there, but it’s stunning now and the hatred I ran into from the more radical ones for being a class traitor was over the top. Glazed eyes and damn near frothing.

          1. I can’t claim to be working class, but I quite dislike the Ivy League.

            I think the extent to which it is different, or unique, may be mostly negatives.

            It is perhaps not as bad as the media stereotype suggests.

  13. > of all the countries who were put through the hell of communism, only Poland shows a little bit of a spine.
    I have no first-hand knowledge, but from what I hear, the Czechs and Hungarians are also in that camp. At least when it comes to going against the EU.

      1. I wonder why that is.
        The Poles have been more thoroughly “sovietized” than the Czechs/Hungarians. They have been more tightly integrated, and on the spectrum of the Warsaw Pact they have been more “Eastern” than the others, who were almost “Western” from the point of view of a regular Soviet me. And the spectrum was certainly there, evident by how hard it was to get permission to visit one country or another. Bulgaria was always almost doable by comparison (it was commonly thought of as the 16th Republic), and Hungary/Czecho-Slovakia were almost as impossible as East Germany/Yugoslavia (we are not talking pure fantasy such as the West).
        So why would Poland grow more of a spine than the other two, who have historically been in a better spot (being under the Germans/Austrians vs. the Russians).

        1. Stronger Catholic undercurrent? I know that the visit of Pope John Paul II was a major inflection point in the Solidarity anti-communist movement, because they could see the lies laid bare in the reporting on it. (“Only hundreds of people? I was there and there were hundreds of thousands! I wonder what else they’re lying about?”)

          1. Could be. I haven’t thought of that angle.
            But then we have the PIIGS, and they are not really an inspiring story lately, Catholic (or Orthodox) or not.

          2. Poland has a long history as an independent nation, and they really hate the Russians, they don’t seem to mind the Austrians so much and even seem to tolerate the Germans. I suppose as bad as the Germans were, the Russians were worse over a much longer period of time.

            The Czech nation didn’t really arise until late 19th century and was socialist and arguable Marxist from the start. Before that it was Bohemia and Moravia as crown lands under the empire with a Slav peasantry and mostly German upper class and gentry.

        2. I suspect religion. But I could be wrong, honestly.
          I’ll do “culture” Wednesday. THis post has several pieces…. but CULTURE is fascinating and not understandable. And unfortunately sociology AS IT EXISTS is about as useful as used tissue paper.

          1. I found a useful concept in sociology around tolerance of change (risk) being the root of a lot of this. Collectivists are afraid of change, and that fear is what drives everything they do. Of course, it s British not American and has little scope for bad statistics and is critical of marxist so it was suppressed.

        3. So why would Poland grow more of a spine than the other two, who have historically been in a better spot

          But then the Winged Hussars arrive.

          Agree with Sarah. Culture can last a long time hiding “under the surface” and spring up when you least expect it.

          1. The Poles were badass in WWI, large chunks of WWII, and so on. They’ve never forgotten that they used to rule an empire, and the Soviets and Germans basically hit them hard because they were afraid of them.

            So yeah, it’s basically a refusal to forget who they are, and a shrewd idea of what Russia would like to do to them again.

    1. Something is going on in Hungary, and it might be cause for concern. Unfortunately, the media alarmism makes it difficult to determine just how worried we ought to be.

      In any event, I think caution with regard to the current Hungarian leader might be called for.

        1. *Snort* I’m not a fan of Orban’s approach to some things, but the accusations of Anti-Semitism because he hates Soros’ philosophy made me a fan. Telling China to take their proposed university and dump it elsewhere are also cheer-making. (The cost of the university – paid by Hungary – would be more than the country spends on all other education combined.)

          1. Nah, I’m not referring to anti-Semitism. My read of Orban is that he’ll basically say and do anything he thinks will keep him in power. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in an elected leader. It helps keep him or her at least partially responsive to the voters. My concern is that he’s pushing the nationalism angle too hard, and that what he’s started will eventually get Hungary into wars with its neighbors over territories that it’s made claims to since the country was founded in the aftermath of World War I.

            As an example, at the end of World War I, Romania got a huge chunk of land from the newly independent Hungary (that had been a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until that time) that it had claimed. Hungary got it back shortly after World War 2 started (in a treaty that was basically imposed by Hitler, and backed by the German Army), and then Romania got it back at the end of the War because Romania switched sides and Hungary didn’t. The territory in question is huge (for the two countries involved; here in the US, we’d wonder what all of the fuss was about), and my rough estimate is that it’s probably over half of Hungary’s current size. Sure, officially, Hungary has dropped its claims to the various territories that were carved out of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of World War I. But a dropped claim can be taken back up again at the drop of a hat.

            Would an ultra-nationalist Hungary go to war with Romania over this? Am I asking a rhetorical question?

            My fear is that Orban’s policies are pushing further than is safe for that region, and all sorts of future problems are going to arise as a result.

            I’m all in favor of Orban’s anti-EU stance. But I wouldn’t trust him any further than I can throw him.

  14. Some of those fields, when you plow them still turn up uniform buttons and other metal bits with each plow full of Earth.

    There is a game about that, Unexploded Cow

    Europe. Summer. 1997.

    You have discovered two problems with a common solution: mad cows in England, and unexploded bombs in France.

    In Unexploded Cow, you play a savvy entrepreneur who wants to help solve the world’s problems, by blowing up lots of cows. You’ll round up a herd of mad cows, give them a stirring pep talk, and march them through the French countryside. In doing so, you will clear fields of leftover ordnance from long-forgotten wars. And you’ll make a few bucks doing it.

    A game only an American would make 🙂

    1. Don’t forget the gamemaker’s name, Cheapass Games. Their slogan was “We make the rules,” and they did—with cardstock boards, and you provide your own dice and playing pieces.

          1. Give me the Brain!

            Ah, the cardgame that made a lot of use “I no brain right now!” as a standard phrase for lack of coffee / sleep / food / health.

            1. It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion.
              It is by the beans of Java the thoughts acquire speed,
              The hands acquire shaking,
              The shaking becomes a warning.
              It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion.

  15. The reason this quote has gotten traction is, oddly, it half-handedly addresses a truth. Adversity is needed in a person’s life for them to improve and find what they are made of. It is why I have yet to meet someone who survived boot camp that doesn’t eventually see it as a crucial point in their development as an adult (perhaps this is not true for conscripts/draftees, but the volunteer era it has held true).

    It’s why that crazy Canadian mystic says to do the hardest thing you can (and that is why the Left hates him because they are selling “everything is easy”).

    But, like so many things that are true for an individual, they are not true for a culture, especially when all the nuance is removed.

    1. Um. Respectfully disagree. Some adversity in life is needed, yes. But people in boot camp are choosing their adversity.

      If people are making your life hell just because they can, surviving it with any part of a moral compass intact is difficult. And that’s not good for individuals or cultures.

      1. But people in boot camp are choosing their adversity.

        That might be the change point.

        When you can CHOOSE adversity with a payout, rather than being required to do it as a price to breath….

        1. Exactly. If you have some control over the situation, it doesn’t break you. OTOH if you’re trapped in a way you can’t escape, with everyone telling you you ought to be grateful just for the scraps – that’s where c-PTSD comes from.

          1. THIS damn it.
            BTW Fox, there’s someone on my share of this on my FB page scolding me for tone on this post and for being “unpleasant about being right.”
            BUT hey, he’s even “read some” of my books, so I guess I should apologize or something.
            Seriously, have people lost their minds?

            1. scolding me for tone on this post and for being “unpleasant about being right.”

              At this point there are certain people — this guy among them — who need to be slapped upside the head for a bit. Not much different than rubbing the dog’s nose in the crap pile.

              That doesn’t mean it should be taken to the level of cruelty, just that the point needs to be made and the fault needs to be accepted.

            2. “unpleasant about being right.”

              I am now being scolded for being nasty by pointing out the shielded facts of what Saddam DID with his power, with (God help us) the support of “Christian Minorities.”

              … God above have mercy on us, for the idea that resisting evil is wrong.

            3. The thing is, this is perhaps revitalization movement for stressed American conservatives.

              There’s some reason to think that taking theory too seriously, and trying to make it reality, is part of the flavor of American culture.

              Which is exactly why it needs to be called out.

              Suppose this is God’s judgement on us. That won’t be because of bad laws. It could be because our commingling with and tolerance of the socialists and communists might be akin to Israelite commingling with and tolerance of Pagan Canaanites.

              Taking theories of society too seriously could be understood as precisely the Idolatry of the socialist and communist.

              So, if this is a Come to Jesus moment, those are the bits that need to be conveyed.

              Bothering people does not mean reaching them. But people fussing at one for tone is a step in the right direction.

        2. When I was in USMC boot camp, I saw some support for this. At the time, (Vietnam era) the Corps was getting some draftees. This practice did not last long, as most draftees didn’t make it through bot camp, but were discharged “for the convenience of the government” as unsuitable as Marines. They were still liable to be drafted into the Army, however. The interesting thing however, was the few who became Marines, two out of ten in my boot platoon, and similar numbers in other units. About 3 weeks in, the two who completed boot camp mentally “enlisted”. Stopped thinking like draftees, and started wanting to be a part of the Corps. The change was quite visible. Friends from the same era tell me they noticed the same thing. It wasn’t just a discipline thing, physical performance took a marked jump.

          1. Became A Marine.

            My Marines were, as best I can tell– all Marines. But they were also at oldest maybe a year prior 9/11.

            1. You are not a Marine until you gotten through boot camp or IOC at Quantico. You will not be called Marine until shortly before then.

      2. Oh, I think choose the adversity is a key point, which is why I used boot camp and Jordan Peterson’s call to do the hardest thing you can do as my examples. I’m sorry I wasn’t more clear about that.

        1. *Wry* Appreciate the clarification. I’ve had waaaay too many people tell me all the awful things I’ve been through “made me a better person, and you should be grateful for that.”

          Ah, no. I’m a better person despite the awfulness, not because of it! Because I escaped into books as much as possible, usually.

          1. Oh my, yes. You could have become like them, instead. (Shudder).

              1. There is a high mystical point where you can be like the martyrs, and be happy that you’re facing lions and such, because it’s part of the way to heaven? But it doesn’t make getting torn up by lions a good thing. It’s a bad thing that they’re overcoming. The victory is the glorious part.

                So yeah, there’s also a high mystical point where you can look back and see all the bad things as something survived and a stepping stone? But it doesn’t make those bad things good, either. The good outweighs the bad, but the bad doesn’t disappear.

                God is mercy, but He’s justice, too. He sees. He knows.

    2. On the personal side, yes, to an extent. Removing people from reality is bad, mkay. BUT we have to start raising our kids, NOT inflict “bad times”on everyone so things will be good.

      1. BUT we have to start raising our kids

        Woah there now! I’m all for personal responsibility and not relying on the government for anything, but I ain’t raising my kids; that’s the government’s job!

        /s, because inevitably some dumkopf will read this

  16. “Anyway Belgium got hammered too. Hammered so hard that according to a relative who lived there a long time, they have the genetic defects of extreme inbreeding.”

    Let me save you all some research. I’ve been there. I’ve worked with Belgians–some much smarter than myself, most much nicer than I. I’ve tasted Belgian cooking. I’ve read about their “adventures” in the Congo. I’m pretty certain they were “that way” (genetic defects of extreme inbreeding) well before WW1.

        1. Good point. None of my family were landowners before they got to North America… And most took a while after that…

          1. The grandfather I keep talking about, who literally escaped the UK and was then drafted to go save the (Monday Friday)s?

            He left MOST of his land to the state of California. LIke, half a century later. Because EVERYONE should own the land the walked, at least a bit.

            1. You just reminded me of a meme, which I’ll describe in words because I can’t find it right now to link to.

              Top half is a photo of a words-spelled-with-lights road-construction sign saying “School Zone M-F”. Bottom half of the meme is split left and right. Left side is a picture of that lady who’s yelling at a cat, captioned “School Zone Monday to Friday”. Right side is, instead of the cat, a picture of Samuel L. Jackson, with no caption.


            2. Found the meme I was remembering, so here’s a proper image link that WP should embed:

              1. Bwahahahahahahaha *gasp* ahahahahaha!

                I hadn’t seen that one. Thank you!

  17. I think Hopf may have been influenced by the “Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations” adage. That one has some truth in it. Family wealth earned by one generation is often spent by the next and roughly 9 times out of ten is gone after the third.
    Of course societies are not individuals, individual family’s wealth cycles aren’t in sync, and acquiring wealth isn’t the same as “hard men creating good times” so the analogy doesn’t work – but it sounds “truthy” so it keeps getting repeated.

  18. “We were going to have our lunch eaten, in order, since WWII by Germany, Japan and China.”

    You forgot “the Soviet Union”. The fundamental cause of Jimmy Carter’s malaise was that the CIA was informing official Washington that the Soviet Union’s economy was going to surpass that of the US “real soon now”, and with their much larger percentage of military spending we would have no choice but to find an accommodation with the inevitable victor.

    Then Reagan said “we win, they lose”, and that’s was pretty much all it took.

        1. If I told you how much COBOL I still encounter…. it’s actually a point in my favor on a resume some places.

          Jesus wept.

          1. Wouldn’t be surprised if the Army parts system still uses COBOL.

              1. If it ain’t broke. . .

                I’ve worked on re-engineering systems. It is not fun.

                1. I’ve worked on re-engineering systems. It is not fun.

                  I’ve worked on re-engineered systems because original critical hardware part of system broke, couldn’t be fixed or replaced, and the original code was missing in action. This is worst not fun. Naturally the broken original system had every bell and whistle they can imagine, some of which were impossible under the hardware that system was running on.

          2. And for a certain hardware platform, RPG…
            And if you are properly archaic, you use the cycle and indicators instead of this newfangled free form stuff.

            1. I just switched away from Perl to Python 9 months ago. Python isn’t bad, but there are some things I prefer about Perl.

          1. A line that was old when I was in college: “I don’t know what language we’ll be programming in in the 21st century, but it will be called ‘Fortran’.”

  19. Every system will most produce what it is optimized to produce. Alas, all too many systems are optimized to produces rascals of one sort or another. The few that are not, are what other rascals seek to pervert.

  20. I’d have to disagree on this one. I don’t think it’s fatuous nonsense…however, it is an oversimplification.
    I was taught a slightly different version of the cycle: Adversity creates humility (Maybe, but not always). Humility creates righteousness (maybe, but not always). Righteousness creates prosperity (Usually, but not always). Prosperity creates decadence and pride. (Usually, but not always). Decadence creates iniquity (usually, but not always). Iniquity creates adversity (Sooner or later). And no, I didn’t get it from Hopf, Gibbon, or any European historian. I got it mostly from the Book of Mormon (which is about as far from leftism as you can get.) Several iterations and variations of the same basic cycle are presented there.
    No, I don’t think its a universal “law.” It’s not that simple. There are branch points, variations. counterexamples, and the details differ from one culture to another. The terms are certainly not well defined. The time span may be short or long, and different parts of a complex society may even be at different points in the cycle. But it can be a useful model.

    1. The “Nephite Cycle”.

      Keep in mind, though, that a point that the Book of Mormon repeatedly makes clear is that the Nephite were almost wholely dependent on support from The Lord against enemies that were (probably; it’s not like they went out and conducted a census of the other guys) far more numerous than they were. So for them, slipping into iniquity would cause their downfall because their divine support was removed, and they were left to their own devices. And that was usually disastrous in fairly short order (though sometimes they did have small victories under such circumstances).

      1. I note that in the Book of Mormon, the adversity faced by Nephite society came from the Lamanites for the first four or so centuries, Later, the external military threat began to fade. By the time of the Gadianton robbers, it was coming principally from internal corruption and strife.

    2. Look, it’s only right at the level of “there’s only three stories in the world.” Simplify something enough and look at it from far enough, and it fits. But it’s the same as saying “All the world’s problems are caused by women”or something like that. Backup long enough and every cat is a tabby

      1. “It’s All The Fault Of That Snake who tempted Eve”! [Crazy Grin]

      2. Stalin had a mother. Hitler had a mother. Genghis Khan had a mother. Hmmm, I think I see a trend.

        Wait. Mao Zedong was a motherless b*****d. Never mind, theory disproved.

        1. akshully, read Chung and Halliday

          His mother was probably too generous with him.

          Did not get on with his father.

          Now may actually be a bad time to read the book, Mao is nightmare fuel.

  21. Saw a great white from Churchill today and thought it so fitting for our present Socialist friends and family. “Dictators ride to and from on the backs of tigers they dare not dismount, the tigers are getting hungry.”

  22. I don’t have one way or another on that saying. From observation, I notice that indulgent people raise weak children. Also in the case of the US there was a deliberate brainwashing program to break apart the family structure. So that culture will bring the downfall of the US. I noticed that we were being told how awful we were under Carter, Clintons, Obama and now Biden. When we got Presidents who believed in the greatness of Americans, then that was when we prospered. We saw changes in a matter of decades. I don’t understand why certain people want everything to burn–

    It makes me wonder at their mentality– and whether they are just plain crazy.

    In short– the changes have been fast so that would negate that cycle of adversity– memorialized by that quote.

    1. Oh, somewhat related, did you know that the wave of America hate was only post W Bush?

      *crazed grin* I know, isn’t it just AMAZING how he was just so terrible as to caseu folks to HIT US BACK, FIRST!!!!

      1. Makes sense; he deserved the hate after his father went to Iran to deal with the hostage situation that happened because they loved us so much.

  23. On the Micro level, hard times does one of two things to a person.
    1. It makes them stronger and more resilient.
    2. It destroys them; whether physically (death), emotionally or spiritually. Usually a combination of all of the above.
    On the Macro level, a culture will change depending on how many of each type of micro result is had.
    Like you said, cultural change is more complicated than any of us can predict or explain.
    I don’t have the same reaction to the quote, but it has always struck me as simplistic and incomplete.

    1. 2. It destroys them; whether physically (death), emotionally or spiritually. Usually a combination of all of the above.

      The Joker of all people had the right of it: “I believe, that whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you weirder“.

      1. Obligatory, because an amazing scene in an amazing movie (actually I’d say this enters the category of film).

        Also I got the word wrong: it makes you stranger.

  24. I’m reminded someone went and checked per capita resource availability, with an eye towards tracking prosperity. It turned out the are basically two earas of human development:

    Pre steam engine
    Post steam engine

    Pre-steam engine was hand to mouth Hunter gathering, with slow incremental development made of sweat, death and mud.

    Post-steam engine is exponential growth across the world continuing to this day.

    I suspect, but have not confirmed, that the death of slavery correlates to when the steam engine got endemnic in each region.

    1. Circa 1900, GE’s great scientist Charles Steinmetz was approached by a young, recently-hired PR man. The guy had gotten his job making glowing promises about all the press coverage he’d get for the company. Now he was supposed to do a press release on a new generator that had been sold to some power company, and he realized it would probably at best get a paragraph on the 3rd page of the business section. Did Steinmetz have any ideas?

      Just a couple minutes of calculating, and Steinmetz suggested the answer: the headline should be that GE had just produced a single generator that produced more energy than the entire slave population of the US at the time of civil war.

    2. Post-steam engine is exponential growth across the world continuing to this day.

      I’ve thought for years that the *real* Singularity was the Industrial Revolution.

      Though he wouldn’t put it in those terms, John Taylor Gatto’s thesis is that that is *why* the school system got built. Not to educate; but to prevent people from being able to notice that they had access to massive quantities of coal based energy which they could turn to destructive ends.

      Basically they encountered the idea “Freedom is Scary”, and said NOPE NOPE NOPE.

      No different from the people today that freak at the idea of private nukes.

      I suspect, but have not confirmed, that the death of slavery correlates to when the steam engine got endemnic in each region.

      Also Firearms.

      Give a pack of untrained peasants a sword and a few hours training and they will get slaughtered by a small group of knights.

      Give a pack of untrained peasants a flintlock and a few hours training and they will kill the knights.

      1. The longbow gave British peasants the ability to kill knights, at the cost of years of practice. IMNSHO, explains a lot of the difference between Great Britain and Europe.

        1. >> “The longbow gave British peasants the ability to kill knights”

          I remember seeing a couple of videos of modern archers testing arrows against plate armor and not having much luck. In fact, the breast plate was so good at deflecting arrows (at least from the front) that it needed a V-shaped ridge below the neck to turn aside arrows that would otherwise have glanced upwards into the wearer’s neck or head.

          Even crossbow bolts didn’t do so well, if I recall.

          1. England was also poorer than most of continental Europe. Thinner armour, more chain and less plate.

      2. Really, it was the crossbow that started that. A crossbow bolt flew with enough force to punch through armor. And unlike a bow, it didn’t require much training to use.

        1. Just a lot of strength, or a functioning winding/cocking mechanism. The torsion loads on some of the ones in the museums were scary. I would not want to be around if the crank slipped.

      1. I basically have a proto-essay that deals with the fact that our standards of living are due to the labor we don’t have to do. Prior to industrialization, that was slavery or servitude—but our new “slaves” are all mechanical.

        1. Very true. Mi mama was raised with the expectation that she would be married to someone of whom el senor approved, and then support her husband so well that they would be able, in time, to hire the cook’s niece, the maid’s cousin, and the gardener’s son.

          Instead, she lives in America where the cook has been replaced with the electric stove, the microwave, the refrigerator and freezer (refrigeration means you don’t have to go to the market to shop every day). The maid has been replaced with the washer, the dryer, and the vacuum cleaner, and the gardener has been replaced with the lawnmower. She lives in much better standards, in many ways, than could have been dreamed of when she was small…

          “But,” as she grumbled to my small ears as she taught me to do all the chores as well, “I still have to do all the work!”

          1. Vacuum cleaners are now automatic (not that I have one or two – one for each level, they don’t do stairs, yet), and are self emptying. But the rest. Yes.

            Laundry. … I’ve used a wringer washer out off a back porch where a hose filled it up with cold water for the wash, and rinse (Never. Again. FYI.) Where the drain hose went directly on the ground. Then it was hung out on a line or inside. Both grandmothers had basin and washer boards. Mom and neighbors all had newfangled (/s) solar driers 🙂 (I’ve never seen mom laugh so hard when her drier died and I suggested she get hers out of storage … it was long gone, not that she had any intent of using it, again, ever.)

            efrigerator and freezer (refrigeration means you don’t have to go to the market to shop every day)

            What amazes me is this is true in most of America. Not sure about inner city apartment living for most, regardless of demographic; big loft apartment or condo, excepted. But it isn’t true for most outside America or Canada. I watch HGTV International House Hunting, be it to purchase or rent. It amazes me how people are astounded that there are tiny refrigerators in kitchens. Yet, the culture, they are entering, they are touting the “fresh” markets for daily shopping, how unique, how wonderful. Why would homes be outfitted with large oversized refrigerators or freezers? Then, almost every one, mention how the residences they are looking at, only have under counter, or tiny upright, refrigerators, not the large ones they are used to from back home. …

        1. No, Stenaffa. No with bells on. That is Marxists speaking. The slavery of the laborer my sore toenails.
          After all, we’ve seen this real time in CHina and India. People will leave the “beauty of the fields” for the “dark satanic mills’ of their own free will. And I know why and you do too.
          So, please, believe me: Marx, not even once. (And DIckens was his disciple.)

          1. “We have to gather resources to survive, therefore Nature is oppressing us”

            When the argument becomes logically identical to this it is moot.

            1. I see so very much of that everywhere, and it drives me BUGNUTS. “The system/society needs to be redone because people shouldn’t have to work so hard.” Living wage bull crap, and all of that. Especially right now, with the covidiocy and the “government benefits” being better than working, and totally able to continue forever! Because if you can’t pay me what I think I’m worth, to enable the lifestyle I want to live, your business just shouldn’t exist. It isn’t filling a need; it’s just about your ego. BUGNUTS.

              And I’m already nuts, so that doesn’t help at all.

          2. The Gods of the Copybook Headings say “if you don’t work, you starve.”

            If you do work, however…

            The poor of America know wealth that John D. Rockefeller with all his millions (supposedly equivalent to about $62 billion today) could never even dream of. I am an older (60 is older) single father, struggling along and yet I live in a house that my parents, at their best would have envied. My mother, when she was the age I am now was in a nursing home. And yet, somehow, I remain vigorous and active. (See “Goth on Ice” on YouTube as evidence.)

            I am typing this on a computing device with more computing capability than the best supercomputers when NASA was busy sending men to the Moon. My car is kind of a beater–an emergency purchase when an accident took out my previous car right after I’d sunk quite a bit of money into repairs and yet, it’s got more comfort, convenience, reliability, and sheer luxury than the Cadillacs of my parents’ days.

            And if I decide I want to do something else, if I just get fed up with my current job and boss, I can quit. No one will send dogs chasing me across ice floes. Nobody will post a reward for my return. All I have to do is find someone willing to exchange what I have to offer in terms of time, effort, skills, and other resources at my command, for the means to provide what I want.

            This attempting to compare working for a living with “slavery” is preposterous and, in fact, insulting. I take pride in the fact that I provide value in return for value received. And the people who determine that value are me and the person with whom I am making the exchange. No one else.

            1. live in a house that my parents, at their best would have envied.

              I’ve seen what my grandparents lived in when they had a newborn and a 3 year old less at year 5 of their marriage. We’d call that an emergency or cross country ski shelter. In fact the Bechtel Ski shelter near Gold Lake is nicer by far, and bigger. Grandpa was lucky to go to HS. It took older sisters to force their parents to let him go. According to great-grands he was to stay on the farm and take care of them in their old age, why did he need to go to HS? Us? All 3 girls. No question that not only would we complete HS, but we were going to college, no excuses.

          3. A North Carolina woman in 1899:

            “We all went to work in the Amazon Cotton Mill and we all worked there all our lives. We were all anxious to go to work because, I don’t know, we didn’t like the farming. It was so hot from sunup to sun down. No, that was not for me. Mill work was better…Once we went to work in the mill after we moved here from the farm, we had more clothes and more kinds of food…And we had a better house.”

            and a present-day Chinese woman:

            “(Farming) is really had work. Every morning, from 4am to 7am, you have to cut through the bark of 400 rubber trees in total darkness. It has to be done before daybreak, otherwise the sunshine will evaporate the rubber juice. If you were me, would you prefer the factory or the farm?”

          4. Unless you count the Russians who picked up their serfs and marched all of them off to work in factories, on the assumption that farm labor serfs would act the same when they were factory labor serfs. Apparently a few US slave holders considered that same thing, but were interrupted by the War-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Agrued-Over-Yet-Again.

    3. 1. That work’s already been done, and it’s not quite as clear-cut as you think. Instead, it starts with water-power, and there is a very clear delineation across societies who’ve made it out of the Bronze Age: the availability of mechanical power at amounts and rates cheaper than slavery drastically reduced the amount of slavery. Right down to looking at the production and staffing of various Roman mines: in an area where water power was cheaper than slaves, there were, far, far fewer slaves than at the mine where the water power due to waterflow reliability and drop in elevation wasn’t available. Pre steam engine, the incredibly complex rights of water usage for European rivers actually tell us a heck of a lot that gets lost in the “oh, the middle ages were all mud and serfs and misery and black death until the Enlightenment sprang out of nowhere!” propoganda

      2. You also have to account for the creeping spread of Christianity, which accounted that an individual had worth independent of their tribe, or station of birth. While culturally slavery was still the norm (as it was with the entire rest of the planet for all of history), the influence of that idea combined with the harnessing of wind and water, then steam, and finally petrol, allowed the legal and cultural end of slavery as well as the economic end of slavery.

      In regions where that has not changed the culture yet? Yes, slavery is still an issue across much of the planet. The slave markets are still going strong in Africa. An ugly truth we try to hide by changing the name to “human trafficking”, but they are slaves nonetheless.

      1. An ugly truth we try to hide by changing the name to “human trafficking”, but they are slaves nonetheless.

        Also lets them play games with drawing the definition.

      2. The Greeks and Romans had waterpower, but didn’t develop it as fully as they could have, probably because slaves were available and, apparently, sufficiently cheap. Considerable development of waterpower was done in the Middle Ages, much of it in monasteries. Terry Reynolds, in his book on the history of waterpower (‘Stronger that a Hundred Men’) suggests that the image of Jesus Christ the Carpenter made *work* a more respectable subject in that era than it had been in the ancient world.

        The quintessential machine of the Industrial Revolution, the power spinning machine, was called the Water Frame because that was its expected power source.

        1. One thought that I’ve had on “industrialization ended slavery” is that only “works” if the society thinks “slavery should be ended”.

          IE A society that thinks slavery is OK would either use slaves in industry or might see the problem with industrialization as “but what would the slaves do”.

          All we know for sure is that industrialization started (and grew) in a society that thought slavery was wrong.

      3. I can accept that. It still pretty much boils down to put ability to access auxiliary power, with enough cultural understanding to make use of the extra humans it free a up.

        On what you were saying, I’ve heard when the colonial powers built tons of railroads in Africa, the local peoples that then decided to use the rail networks to trade and engage with the newly accessible tribes tended to thrive, while the one’s that just saw it as a new way to invade their new neighbors tended to collapse quickly.

    4. It’s been done, and done very well indeed. See “Leave Me Alone, and I’ll Make You Rich” by McCloskey and Carden. It’s a 1-volume popular version of McClofskey’s amazing 3-massive-volume scholarly work on the subject.

  25. Yet even so, decadence is a real and deadly thing.

    There is truth to the quote.
    History prior to firearms was a cycle of barbarians overrunning the frontier, taking the cities, becoming civilized, becoming decadent, and barbarians overrunning the frontier.
    When innovation made the frontier less dependent upon the polis for protection, the pattern was broken.
    At least for a while.

    Centralization and decadence reinforce and feed off each other.
    Urbanization promotes both, and also creates a socially-reinforced bubble of feeling superior to those outside the sphere. As the bubble hardens over time, it insulates from cold equations. Eventually, reality will itself be denied, simply because those unsophisticated county bumpkins believe in it.

    The world is hard and uncaring.
    Nature is red in tooth and claw.
    Will these uncomfortable truths be understood and accepted by those who think meat comes from the store, and getting up in the morning is hardship?
    Can those who’ve lived their entirely lives in a socially-reinforced fiction make clear-eyed assessments of what is the lesser evil?

    I have to object to the assessment as it applies to several of the Warsaw Pact survivors.
    Poland obviously had steel in its soul before the Iron Curtain was drawn. But it’s hard to argue that the struggle for freedom didn’t temper it further.
    Hungary is kicking butt.
    The Czech are holding onto liberty.
    Estonia is pretty hardcore.
    And Lithuania seems to have mainlined the interesting parts of the ‘60s counterculture.
    But I agree that conversations about the Osties and “mother Merkel” should begin with an epithet.

      1. Once more the self-appointed Sages of History do not have the first inkling of a clue about the subject.

        The greatest Kings and Emperors who ever lived would beg to have the standard of living of an American pauper anytime in the last century-plus.

  26. hard times just kill alot of people … sometimes via bad luck sometimes via bad people … but you are right, I don’t think it makes you something you where not already … like a sculptor chipping away the useless stone … the final shape was always there … sure, when thing go Road Warrior bad alot of hard men will survive … but they were hard men before the hard times (on the inside, they may not have been seen as hard before that) and the soft will perish wholesale …
    America was really the first country that really gave people the chance to find their inner self … thats why immigrants can come here and flourish … ALL people have it in them its just in most places there is little opportunity to see it flourish given the need to eat and survive ,,,

  27. “WWII was a tough time, as was the depression, and it built men who went to the moon.”

    Sarah did France and Belgium. How’d that 20th century “hard times” stuff work out for Italy? Surely 1960s Italy, taking advantage of all that hard times stuff they went through, taking advantage of their changing sides so they could get killed by both sides in one war, was a center of…something other than rapidly falling governments? No? Hmm.

    1950s US industrial capacity and the 1960s Apollo program were the result of the industrial expansion that the “Robber Barons” drove in the US after the ACW. Even the applied braking of TR’s “Trust Busting” and FDR’s “Commies Gonna Commie” “New” “Deal” could not impair the US enough to stop the resulting industrial engine, aided of course by being the only intact industrial plant after WWII (Stalin’s relocated-past-the-Urals industries were largely intact as well, with the advantage of the Red Army stealing everything not actually part of bedrock in conquered Germany to ship back to those factories, and employing German POW slave labor through the 1950s.)

  28. ” … the thirties, forties and fifties were not some great conservative wonderland … They were in fact profoundly statist and regimented, and as close as America has come to communofascism: until now.”

    I did not understand this until I read a little book called “The War Comes to Plum Street,” about the homefront in WWII in a small city in the heartland. The detailed discussion of limitations on buying food, shoes, etc, etc, etc really shocked me. We think wearing a mask is an infuriating submission to illegitimate authority, but it’s got nothing on not being able to buy a pair of shoes when you need them. And I think about the generation that were children during WWII — they’re 75+ years old now — and all my relatives of that generation are/were extremely respectful of Authority, and doesn’t that track with growing up with rationing of meat and flour and shoes? I don’t really have a point here, just … contemplation, I guess

    1. There is a book, if I can find it, about what that bastard Wilson did to civil liberties during WWI. IT make the restrictions in WWII look like a walk in the park. Seriously.

      1. The last few chapters of Barry’s book on the Influenza of 1918 goes on at some length about the “Secret Service” and the horrible pressure and spying on people. That’s the first time I encountered the story in a mainstream popular history book.

      2. They seriously considered trying to cancel christmas. Because it was taking resources they could have used.

        It’s a complete null-value holiday to me, but even *I* can see sufficient reason to string them up just for that.

        “Fritz, are we the bad guys?”

      3. People, usually on the Left (I hear it a lot in anti-gun arguments) like to repeat the line “freedom of speech doesn’t mean you can shout ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.” Well, first off they misquote it’s “falsely shout ‘fire’.” But that aside what they forget, if they ever knew, was that the case in question where Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. uttered that line was one about distribution of anti-war pamphlets, the US then being engaged in an armed conflict. Somehow I don’t think the folk so pompously uttering those words today would like the original application of the idea.

  29. The sedition and espionage acts. Scheiber. The Wilson administration and Civil Liberties 1917-1922. Old Mencken articles too. Ole woody was an equal opportunity bigot against anyone who wasn’t a southern, Presbyterian Anglo Saxon.

    1. Leftism Revisted by Erik von kuehnelt-leddihn has a good section on Wilson and on Czech nationalism as it happens. he holds that Wilson’s anti Catholic bigotry and Wilson being out maneipuverd by Lloyd George and Clemenceau was the cause of all that followed,

      His footnotes, like so many Austrian writers, are worth the price of the book

  30. Badgerwx delurking here for a brief comment about the anomaly that is Poland.

    As one of Polish descent, I want to remind you that the Poles had special experience being occupied that that the other Warsaw Pact countries didn’t. Don’t forget that Poland was partitioned & disappeared as a country back in the 1790’s. A Polish state didn’t really exist again until after the fall of the Soviet Union (except for the brief interlude between the World Wars). The Poles had to find ways to keep their culture going all that time and for one thing developed a different kind of relationship with their Catholic church, which acted as the one unifying Polish institution left standing in the Polish-speaking parts of Prussia, Russia & Austria. Having an institutional ally like that also helped at least somewhat in coping with their Soviet occupation, & explains why JP II becoming Pope & then visiting Poland was such a big deal to the Solidarity movement. The question now is whether Poland’s experience with other countries trying to undermine their culture will help them at all against the more subtle ways western culture is being undermined now.

  31. Nobody sane wants a return to the Bad Times that created Hard Men. Many of them became “good” after a couple of hundred years of historical revision and/or context that gave them the patina of “being not the wrong person at the wrong time in the wrong place.”

    And, on the theme of Woodrow Wilson dumping, I can agree that Wilson’s “successful” presidency can be blamed for being the crack in the dike that allowed things like Prohibition, the War on Poverty, the War on Drugs, and any number of massive violations of civil liberties under the guise of “doing the right thing” to be considered legitimate.

    1. THOMAS Woodrow Wilson (after the whinging about Joe only being Joe the Plumber’s middle name, I *delight* in pointing that out) had a “He kept us out of War” slogan for his re-election campaign. Perhaps he ought be more remembered for “He lead us into wars – on liberty.”

      1. Sadly, history knows him as Woodrow Wilson, so I want to make sure we’re talking about the same wasteful hunk of flesh. And, I remember this guy’s history and wish he had fallen down stairs in 1900-or Teddy Roosevelt won the election.

        1. Well, S. M. Stirling’s Black Chamber novels takes as a starting point that Taft dies before that election and TR defeats Wilson.

          Of course, the Chamber-verse is one where early Progressivism wins. 😉

          1. There’s worse versions of the creed out there than the TR one-at the very least, it avoided a lot of issues such as Prohibition and the Civil Rights Era. Mind you, wondering what happens after TR leaves the White House worries me. Especially if a revanchist Democratic Party takes over and has a nice little massacre.

            And, from some of the phrasing, you could see this world becoming the precursor to 1984

            1. In Stirling’s vision of the Chamber-verse, one of TR’s sons becomes the next President.

              Stirling seems to think that TR’s version of Progressivism would survive into the next generation but thinks that TR’s version would not exist much longer than that.

              IIRC he hasn’t commented on what would happen later than that.

  32. I don’t think anyone considered Wilson’s presidency to be successful at the time. His party’s candidate in 1920 pretended not to know him, and still lost in a landslide. He’d already lost both houses of Congress in the midterms. He gave the term “Progressive” such a stench that the “Progressives” started calling themselves “liberals.” I don’t think his image was even resurrected by the tyrant FDR, until the United Nations was formed in the waning years of WWII, and they wanted to retroactively proclaim the League of Nations to be a good idea.

  33. As far as the article goes, I don’t think strong men are created by hard times so much as they are created by the existence of a frontier. It seems to me that the 1800s were probably the best century ever, in terms of human advancement, as well as peace and prosperity. People in, say, the Arab nations have plenty of hard times, but the only frontier they have is the battle lines between themselves and their neighbors.

    1. Nah; that would imply that there are never strong men unless there’s a frontier to explore, and history can safely dispose of that one.

  34. Spcificity is the soul of great communication*

    Within Christendom and amongst the Sons & Daughters of Abraham and Sarah
    Challenges are opportunities for resourceful men
    Resourceful men build wealth
    Wealth breeds self-regard and self-indulgence rather than gratitude
    Self-regard etc. leads to decadence
    Decadent men eat their seed corn
    Eating your seed corn !eads poverty
    Poverty creates challenges
    Challenges are opportunities for resourceful men

    That germ of truth is why the aphorism rings true to Western ears.

    Miller’s Law.

    Also, in the bumper sticker version, when they say “men” they literally mean “male persons”, which is bogus; and asinine: “The hand that rocks the cradle” etc. Weak, decadent men (*cough* Bronson Alcott and his ilk *cough*) breed strong, bitter, and resentful daughters. Too many not those and you get a nation full of Tatiana McGraf’s (the non-troll kind) and no grand-babbies.


  35. Did the Romans choose to have a culture that made them militarily extreme? Did they choose to abandon that culture?

    I say that cultural change is outside of human control in any intentional way.

    Great Plains Indians. We see three broad cultural periods. Pre horse, when they were more sedentary and less warring. Have the horse, and developed their flavor of nomadic warrior culture. Reservations.

    If the virtue, decadence, ruin pattern was a rule, the history would be different. That first culture shift was a change in circumstances. They got horses, and perhaps some disease, displacement, or collapse. Second shift was tied to military defeat, but consequence, not cause. They were never really set up to win, no matter how hard they doubled down on warrior values.

    Cultures can be stable in stable circumstances. In unstable circumstances, you cannot really predict or control the changes.

    Rome happened to chance on a cultural state that permitted great military success. So great, that they fundamentally changed their relationship to external powers, ultimately permitting cultural change.

    1. More sedentary, perhaps. Less warring? Ah, at least not in the American Southwest, where there are oral traditions about sneak attacks, chemical warfare, massacring entire populations, and other charming acts of brotherly non-love. The drama and scale were smaller, but the viciousness before the horse could be just as great as post-horse. Most of those fights were about population replacement, driving one group out of an area with desirable resources so that the new group could prosper. Or so say the archaeologists, anthropologists, and people who take seriously some of the oral history accounts.

      1. Yeah, definitely bad choice of thought there.

        Doesn’t excuse the error, but I really should not have been writing at the time.

        I’m pretty sure that the pre-horse warrior culture did not value all the same traits as the horse based warrior culture. Vague impression, based on the horse based culture, not any sort of serious scholarly examination of what is known about both periods.

  36. Saw this once in a book my Dad had: “A man’s best friend is his dogma.”
    Always thought truer words never spoken etc. A friend of mine who is 1/2 Choctaw told me in a convo recently that the Comanche didn’t roam the plains torturing and slaughtering any who crossed their path, the just warned them once to leave and if they didn’t it was ‘on’ That, simply put, ain’t the case. But I just nodded and smiled and changed the subject. Cherished belief, no matter how wrong can not be dislodged with dynamite. Doesn’t matter enough to go to the mat over in this case anyway.
    Unfortunately, when Leftists harness this to get power and make people miserable, The mat is looking likely.

    1. I am a little horrified that “we told you to leave and you didn’t, so now we’re going to vivisect you– after we do it to your kids, first” was supposed to be a good thing……

      1. That’s just the same racial prejudice that prevents you from endorsing a policy of killing minor children for illegally crossing the border, or a policy of using cartel tactics and Salafi tactics against recyclers, law professors, climate scientists, CRT scholars, international airlines, school teachers, alternative energy, animal rescue, drug addicts, and public health bureaucrats.

        Yup, either racial prejudice or a love of Christ.

  37. There was a book, ‘Empire Of The Summer Moon’ That had great detail about the tribe known as the Lords of the Plains. From what I understand, The prime purpose for them in raiding was captives, who were then handed over to the women to be tortured. THAT was a bit of news. I won’t go in to exact detail but suffice to say, they took their time about it.

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