Shaking the Kaleidoscope A blast from the past from December 23 2012

(Be not alarmed. Yes, still dealing with health things, but nothing critical just now. It’s just that I have posts to write but they’d take the stuffing out of me to write today, and I have books to write. -SAH)

Shaking the Kaleidoscope A blast from the past from December 23 2012

Clifford Simak’s City contains a device built into a kaleidoscope – you shake it, and look through it, and it alters your mind and your perceptions.

This is not a post about Simak, or City or Classical Science Fiction, but I’ll say in passing that the device – perfectly sensible way for a writer to dramatize the changing of minds necessary to take everyone out of Earth and into space – both fascinated me and made me uneasy.  The uneasy is because I don’t approve of any kind of mind-control.  Heinlein’s mind-engineering does the same to me: that creepy feeling at the back of the skull. It fascinated me because I had never seen a kaleidoscope and well… I like shiny things.  (In fact I just realized I don’t own one, which is a little odd.)  The other observation in passing is that Simak throws out more ideas under the guise of McGuffin or plot device that could be used for short stories or novels and that I mean to – supposing I get the time – mine a lot of them.  I mean, a pattern of shiny lights that can change minds?  That is an entire story – an entire novel.  That would turn society upside down (and not in a good way, probably.)

So, this brings us to…

A kaleidoscope.  You shake it and suddenly you see things in a completely different way.  That is how I woke up this morning, and it is an inconvenient feeling, uncomfortable and prickly, like clothes that don’t fit quite right or scratch the skin.

We’ve been talking about the death of Western Civ.  I still think there is a wound in our consciousness, something that is slowly destroying our spirit.

But back up.  No, back up further.  Take the long view.  The longer view.  See it from very far away.  This is what we do as science fiction writers.  Okay, fine, this is what science fiction writers are supposed to do.  In the last thirty years or so, they’ve mostly obsessed over the trendy cause of the moment: pesticides! Global cooling! Global Warming! Women’s equality! Squirrel!

What we’re supposed to do, however, if truth be told is take the long view, look at history, visualize things as they could go/would go/would be.  In a way if Science Fiction is anything more than fantasy with machines and engineers it is the ability to shake the Kaleidoscope and see things as if we weren’t ourselves and gain a new perspective on how things move and what is really going on, even when it presents in a way that seems totally different.

So imagine you’re a thousand years in the future, and you are learning about European history.  This is important.  European.  Remember that.

The first glimmer of an European identity was Rome.  Rome was the first European entity to look beyond tribalism – yes, yes, barbarians, but all the same, they considered these people, at least after a while, as potential Roman citizens.  That was a huge step, and why every large polity in Europe since harks to Rome and tries to imitate or revive Rome, consciously or not.

We fall victims to this too.  We think of ourselves in terms of the Roman empire.  I wonder how much of this is the Soviet Union’s doing.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, the one thing they’re really, really, really good at is propaganda and the rewriting of history, partly through commanding pet intellectuals.

They loved comparing us to the decadence of Rome.  Partly because it made their people feel better about living in caves and eating acorns – sorry, that was how the Romans of the republic seemed to view virtue.  Yeah, I know, the Soviet Union was somewhat better.  Maybe.  Most of the time.

The funny thing is that we are in no way in the mold of Rome as an Empire.  The Soviet Union was closer.  (Which again, from the distant future would make perfect sense.  The communists were the Red Tzars – tzar being a corruption of Caesar.  These things aren’t hard to seek.)  Like Rome it was an empire which relied on loot to make the life of its citizens back home better (it wasn’t as successful as Rome.)  Like Rome it had a populace on bread and circus (though again, at least if history is semi-accurate, not nearly as successfully) while the people who ran the society lived lives of unimaginable luxury.  (Unfortunately still rather lower than the lifestyle of our middle classes, except for power over other human beings.)

The rest of Europe is not that much different – no, please, listen, I’m not doing Europe down.  We come from them, and to an extent they were the best example of human civilization until we came along.

But all amity between colony and mother country(ies) aside, let’s keep in mind who and what we are.  We are the dregs, the rebels, the rejects of Europe.

The people who stayed behind are those who fit into Europe’s pattern, which again, comes from Rome.  Yes, yes, Rome fell.  Yes, yes, we lost technology.  But the Roman pattern was preserved, brought back.  And to an extent that was good because the Roman pattern transcended tribalism which makes Europe different from the rest of the world.  In Rome you could be a citizen no matter who your brothers, your cousins, your parents were.  This is not true anywhere else.

Europe, to an extent, ported the same pattern of citizenship, of a state that is larger than the tribe.  Of a civilization that is larger than tribes, than blood, than that kind of loyalty.

Now, view it as a journey.  Europe conquered Africa and the Americas not because it is uniquely colonialist or imperialist but because it had transcended tribalism.  Look, when conquered the “new worlds” we were slightly more advanced in weaponry than the natives, but not by that much and not by that far.  But the furniture in our heads was different.

Time and again, I read stories of colonization where the natives acted in the way that had always worked in tribal warfare: they killed everyone in the colony in a horrible way.  If they were facing a tribe the size of normal tribes, this would make colonizing their land too expensive.  It would stop colonization cold.

Only they weren’t facing a tribe.  Reports of the atrocity in European Newspapers brought the wrath of all Europeans on them.  The end was always the same.

(We’ll pretend here that I explained that Christianity hooked on top of Roman citizenship to eliminate tribalism, and that also European colonization was aided by germs and blah blah, blah.  Not germane.  We’re a thousand years in the future, the details have softened.)

Now look at the last century.  The two world wars, not as world wars, but as the wars of European Unification.  The decision of who gets to run western civ.  Then expansion, always expansion because the old European model is the old Roman model.  You go abroad and you get good things to bring home.

Only they’ve lost the plot a little (because of the horrific long civil war of the twentieth century) and they forgot that model implies conquest and despoiling.

On the other hand, the European model is going everywhere: India, China.  Yes, yes, it is our tech they use, but it is the European model of civilization.  They’re still expanding.

And that brings us to where we are.  The war with Islam is just the front in the current European Expansion.  Europe is, of course, expanding its form of government, its mental furniture, to the lands of Islam, and Islam resents it.  They are the ultimate tribalist society.

Then there’s us.  We are the other front in that war.

You see, we are part of Western civilization, but not part of European civilization.  Even our parent, Great Britain, is only half digested into Europe.  We are the castoffs, the redheaded step child.  Part of them, but not.

Part of their resentment of us over intervention in the two world wars is the resentment of parents whose kid intervenes in an argument – particularly if the kid was right.  If you view the long war of the twentieth century as a civil war, they resent we came in and settled it.

And they’ve done a lot of projecting – aided by Soviet propaganda – they call us imperialist and war mongers, because they can’t bear that in themselves.

And also they have no clue what makes us work, not really.  They don’t know why we innovate more than they do.  They don’t know why our consumer society is what is softening their politics advancement into the rest of the world.  They know it’s true, but they resent it.

We are of them, but we are also the others.  And being the others, we must be absorbed, and we must be brought in line.  There can be no competing mental furniture, as Europe takes over the rest of the world.

Which brings us to where we are.  Since the early twentieth century, they’ve been conquering our intellectuals, our universities, convincing them the European way is better.  (And look, they’ve changed from monarchy to “democracies” of various kinds, but the same people are in charge.  The bureaucrats that have the real power are the same people – often from the same families.)  They’ve been telling them about the soft power of redistribution, of socialism, of an entrenched bureaucracy, set to encompass the world.

Intellectuals – and bureaucrats – like that.  It’s the sort of power they understand and the sort of power they crave.

And now intellectuals and bureaucrats are in power.  Europe is trying to swallow us.

It won’t work.  Of course it won’t. They don’t understand the reason the soft imperialism has worked is because we remain free to create wealth that can redound back on them in more ways than one.  (Not just aid, but us being the main consumer of the world’s goods – the engine of the world’s commerce.)  They don’t understand that, because all they understand is the old model: wealth comes from elsewhere and makes the people at home prosperous.

They don’t understand that without America it will have to be back to Roman-style (or Soviet Style) rapine and everyone will be a little poorer.  All they understand is that we make their model look bad and we must – must – be brought into line.

So – that’s where we stand.  Islam is a front in European expansion (and they’re completely dysfunctional and have nothing to oppose it, so they turn on… us – because it’s our gadgets and our wealth that are dismantling their poverty and ignorance from within.)  Curiously, we have to fight them too.

But we’re the other front.  We’re under assault by Europhiles who think that if they just bring us under control, they’ll be in charge of the world.  A sort of empire of the paper-pushers.

Even if they succeed — and they’re well on the way there — all they’ll manage is a brief period of time of increasing misery and then (and in this the Roman analogy is somewhat apt) an age of darkness.  (No, don’t want to hear it.  Yes, yes, the middle ages were not as dark as painted.  And yet, for the average peasant, they were.  No, life might not have been as blood-soaked as some parts of Roman history could be, but it was still brutal and nasty and short.  Yes, I know the works to the contrary.  This seems to be part of the European project.  As in the Soviet Union, it’s the past that keeps changing.) And then probably a repetition of the pattern all over again.

If they eliminate us, as the new model, their model will still be the best thing in human civilization.  And when civilization comes back again, it will be in their model.

I have only one question for you guys – are you going to let them get away with it?

80 thoughts on “Shaking the Kaleidoscope A blast from the past from December 23 2012

  1. The United States is not an empire. Yes we keep troops in a jillion different countries. Yes we support coups and depose rulers pretty much whenever we want to, yada yada yada.
    There is one crucial imperial thing missing – we don’t tax them. We do this on our own dime.
    The more accurate descriptor of what we do is “hegemony,” but you don’t get the same rhetorical mileage out of calling someone a “hegemonist.”

        1. Make sure you give LA and Sacramento back to the correct place– north west corner of California has a nice chunk of old Spanish families.

          Mexico has no claim on them, they were Spanish and told Mexico to go bet bent when those revolutionaries tried to claim them!

        2. We had the Philippines. We gave them back.

          Well, yeah, after several decades of holding them and doing some pretty awful things there, including running the first concentration camps in the world.

          But yes, we did redeem ourselves, first by knocking off the bad stuff, then by kicking the Japanese out after they invaded in WWII. Redeemed ourselves so thoroughly that not only do Filipinos love the US to this day (there are always exceptions, but the culture as a whole? definitely), the Philippine army to this day, during roll call, includes Douglas MacArthur in their roll calls as “present in spirit!” to honor the liberation.

          Unfortunately, William Graham Sumner’s 1898 prediction of the US’s future, “The Conquest of the United States by Spain”, has been more true than not, though worse in that first decade than after.

          Now, can we give Puerto Rico back, too? And maybe L.A. and Sacramento?

          Better yet, let’s impose actual freedom on them. With LA and Sacramento, that may need to start with a neutron bomb, admittedly.

          1. Emperor Norton I disbanded Congress and slapped down the Fed. It didn’t take… that time.

            The Fed and Congresscritters are even worse now than in Norton’s day.

      1. Which is rather a pity as our limited experience with imperialism in the Philippines and Puerto Rico shows we’re rather good at it when we want to be.
        When the US took possession of the Philippines the Spanish left neither a civil service nor an educational system. Within 10 years the US had constructed both, staffed 98% by Filipinos. The only Americans on the governing cabinet were the governor-general and the vice-governor/secretary of the treasury.
        The Filipinos immediately created political parties, the Independistas and the Federalistas who wanted some kind of federal union with the U.S. or perhaps even statehood.
        Manuel Quezon, leader of the Independistas and later President of the Philippines once exclaimed in exasperation, “Damn these Americans! Why don’t they tyrannize us more?”

        1. “Damn these Americans! Why don’t they tyrannize us more?”

          We’re no damn good at WANTING to! We have this crazy idea that other people ought take care of themselves and let us be.

        2. Let me expand or expound on a Critical Difference… it’s like the movie fan and the movie critic, in a way.

          Movie fan: Ooh, you get to see all those great movies!
          Movie critic: No, I HAVE sit through all of them, and so many are turkeys!

          The Empire-desiring figure they will GET to rule over so many.
          And the USA-ian fear is that we’d HAVE to rule over so many.

          And those who do not wish to be ruled by the Empire-desiring will make things difficult, or require the desiring types be brutal to deal with such. And then you get a guerrilla war… or worse.

        3. Heck, look at Japan!

          I’m rather proud of Japan– that’s imperialism, done right. Take over an enemy, and then promptly bust butt to keep them from starving and help them become their most awesome, though odd, self!

          :considers a metaphor based off of a katana, but decides it takes too much knowledge of forging from highly contaminated iron to make awesome quality steel:

          1. Japan is definitely best case. We took the strong parts of their culture and melded in some critical additions(e.g. female equality) . That said it is NOT clear to me that the ~50 year effort worked. Somehow their society is seriously borked. They’re not making many (or enough) new Japanese, they still seem VERY xenophobic, their work ethic though amazing seems to do real damage to their people, their politics only recently (Late 80s) got to the point where they weren’t effectively a 1 party (LDP) state. South Korea has similar issues and took a while to come out of what was essential a dictatorship. I wonder if our strategies don’t play well with classic Asian cultures. Germany our other attempt from WWII has its own issues and of course it is of the western model. However, I wonder there if some of it’s problem came more from trying to integrate the East Germans into West Germany. None of the 3 worked perfectly, but a super assertive Japan or Germany arising from the Reich or Imperial Japan would have been a BAD thing.

            1. “they still seem VERY xenophobic, ”

              They aren’t xenophobic enough to kill or even harass foreigners on sight, their criminal elements reputedly try to leave foreigners (western ones, at least) out of their activities, and the places that have “no foreigners allowed” signs aren’t places that decent people would want to visit anyway (see “criminal elements leaving foreigners out”)

              And if they strictly control immigration into their country, would that we did the same.

              I don’t see any problems with that part of their culture.

              … of course, I look mostly harmless, and only made a small child cry once just by existing, so YMMV.

              1. Even crazier, while they have the long standing .. uh, issues… with other Asians, per MULITIPLE shipmates, the second you opened your mouth and America came out, they started treating you like an American.

                …which is basically a Japanese who is too ignorant to know if he’s being rude, but gets major cute points.

              2. Okinawans, although legally Japanese, aren’t quite the same culturally. However, I think Treg is right about something in Japanese culture being borked. I suspect it might be similar to the bork in American culture. An anti-human philosophy that crept into education, politics, and religions.

            2. To echo FeatherBlade on another angle– a lot of those flaws are that they’re still Asian, culturally, just nowhere near as borked as say China– and for the other one, their fertility rate is roughly on par with Belgium and maybe a little high as compared to Europe.

              WITHOUT having the refugees or migrants adding to it.

            3. The Japanese were too tightly wound even before the war. US occupation just gave them somewhat safer outlets for it. As for xenophobia… remember that the stated goal of the Japanese was to help all of Asia throw off colonialism and transform itself into a Pan-Asia. And then remember the atrocities that the Japanese got up to in occupied China, where they were ostensibly supposed to be helping the locals. Anything you see post-War is a lot less bad than it was before the US occupation.

              Things in Japan have been dialed down tremendously from what they were before the occupation.

              As for the birth rate… that’s a world-wide phenomenon. The cause of it in Japan most likely doesn’t have a purely Japanese cause.

              1. Before WWII, Japan’s army and Japan’s unions were engaged in assassinating people all over the place. The body count for politicians, businessmen, and union guys (not to mention native people in Japanese colonies) went down when the war started.

                Japan has been messed up for a long time. They go through cycles of working out various issues, and hopefully they’ll get through all the issues within the next fifty years or so.

                1. And remember that at the start of WWII they had been out of actual feudalism for less than a century; some would argue that they were still basically a feudal culture in 1941. Cultures take time to change unless forced; WWII provided the forcing function.

          2. Imperialism done right, step 1:
            Inflict a level of damage on the Imperialismees both military and civilian that convinces them that opposing your proposals is certain death.

            We did that in Japan, and succeeded. We haven’t done it since (see Iraq), and haven’t succeeded since. Hmmmm.

        1. Yeah. We don’t carry off all the natural resources, we don’t eliminate the people, and we don’t tear up the infrastructure when we leave. We really are terrible as empire managers.

          1. Depends on how you define the goal of the empire.

            Some empires are clearly massive screw ups.

            Natural geography plus where you have some populations do some work in defining what kind of empires you can build where. There are places that are okay for building the center of an empire, and expanding out.

            There are also places that are kinda going to change hands a lot as outlying regions for this or that or the other nearby empire. If you only do things for the current period of occupation, you can easily compromise future efforts by your empire to expand back over the territory.

            This is a reason why I have come to dislike Russia’s ‘Third Rome’ narrative of Russian empires. It seems like as empires go, the Russians are massively self destructive screw ups compared to the Romans. Possibly I am simply much more badly informed about the Roman malicious incompetence.

            Treating folks decently enough that they /want/ you back after you leave would be a better strategy for long term empire. However, the only possible way I can see to manage that is by having your imperial bureaucrats and imperial soldiers from a population that a) tries to treat everyone decently b) can manage peacefully loud autism wrt to populations that are wildly alien c) desperately wants to get away from the imperial business, because they can make far more money at home.

            We’ve screwed up with our foreign policy establishment, seemingly, because it appears staffed by a bunch of ninnies who could not make any profit at home even provided with a map, a seeing eye dog, and a wealthy patron.

              1. Yep. Scary, ain’t it? 🙂

                (FWIW, I’ve only been a participant here for a couple of years, and just about every post of his has made sense to me. I guess I missed the “senseless” parts…)

                  1. Also similar proposals for northern Mexico, instead of Canada.

                    World peace, and the approximation of such by elimination of all foreigners. (A slight inverse of this is assuming the handwave of somehow American meta culture is adopted, and civilizes all other cultures of the world.)

                    A discussion of Finnish socialism, gypsy culture, and how the intersection of such argues for either extermination of gypsies or abandonment of socialism.

                    Serious, in its own right, /not/ arguing some esoteric third point, insistence on a mass slaughter of pot smokers. As in, advocating for it as being a good and necessary act.

                    Vehement opposition to the historical narrative that goes ‘prohibition failed, so therefore also must all substance prohibition fail in the present or future’. To include quite a lot of complaints about saloons, and defenses of the temperance movement. Including denouncements of Catholic focused city oriented histories and historiographies, that I have alleged ignored other parts of the US. (The obvious issue with this last argument is that there are a fair number of Catholic missions, historically, that serviced indian populations. So, Catholic historiographies that look at all US Catholic records should /not/ be purely city and recent immigrant focused at the expense of looking at indian reservations and neighboring whites. (It may in fact be wrong to associate violence on reservations with alcohol. It is possible that the explanation was simply savagery, combined with the BIA leaving them nothing to live for.))

                    Plus some strongly partisan advocacy for waging the pacific war in WWII, and for waging the indian wars. With a side order of “Arthur Harris and Tecumseh Sherman had an admirable level of moral clarity”, and a large “we should view nuclear wars as things that we ought to fight, and can win”.

                    There is a method to my madness, or a madness to my method. There are points where a reasonable man with a functioning moral compass may profoundly disagree. There will also be points where a reasonable man with a functioning moral compass may be compelled to agree, or at least to say that I have a point, if and only if one grants the assumptions I used. (A reasonable man with a moral compass may well choose to refuse to grant said assumptions.)

                1. The scariest part is that Bob hasn’t changed — it’s the world that has caught up to his level of crazy. Under the current conditions, Bob is (relatively) sane. I guess he was just ahead of his time. 😀
                  When Eric Swalwell farted on camera, it was the most intelligent thing heard from a Democrat all day.

                  1. I actually have changed some.

                    One, I’m less deeply unhappy about life, and less lost in self-hatred.

                    Two, I can see that the social ills that worried me are possibly a result of Democrats deliberately ruining stuff.

                    Three, I can clearly see that the psychopaths in DC are by far a more serious and immediate danger than just about anything that foreigners can do unaided.

                    1. For the first, glad to hear it; nobody needs that kind of burden. As for the second and third, I don’t see any way to do other than strongly agree.

            1. I failed the Foreign Service exam, several decades ago. One reason was all the questions were things like, “Describe the difference between the Ash Can School and the (Equally Weird Name) Schools of art.” Most of the questions were on modern art, music and lit. One question I remember on geography, no or very few questions on history, agriculture or any practical subject. The exam was tailored for liberal arts/humanities majors.
              I can see why knowing something about the arts would be useful, but this seemed excessive. (Unless, of course, you are filtering out anyone with the “wrong,” mindset).

                1. “That unfortunately that…” Aargghhh.

                  Brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department.

            2. I think the difference between the Americans head software and most prior cultural software is it starts from the idea that people, left to their own devices and under common, consistent rule sets produce more for everyone than any other system.

              So, the classic ‘invade the neighbors and carry off their loot’ empire just does not make sense. If a rising ride life’s all boats, the stealing the sea just sinks everyone.

              Instead, we try to build them into free trade friendly nations with stable, low corruption governments.

              Nintendo, Sony and Toyota make us richer than any amount of tithes we could have extracted from Japan.

              And to a lot of degrees, the reasons Japan is stagnating are driven by where they’ve tried to avoid embracing free and open markets, and instead tried to prop up zombie corporations.

      1. While echoing FeatherBlade’s valid point that CHOOSING TO BUY A THING is not ‘tribute’– can you give some kind of link/context for this?

      2. I’m sorry I missed this up to now. Our bonds get repaid all the time, every day in fact. I should know since I own some Now, those who purchased them may roll the, over into a new issue, but the rollover is a new purchase.

        The people who buy these bonds tend to know exactly what they’re doing and aren’t inclined toward charity.

        The bond market is by far the single most important thing in international affairs. It would pay people to,learn something about it. I’ve read more nonsense about the bond market than just about anything else in markets, which is saying a lot.

  2. You shall know the truth and it will make you odd

    — Flannery O’Connor. A Hoyt’s hun avant- la lettre

    1. But having off-kilter mental wiring helps keep the odd Odd. No matter the odds.

      flees stage left, pursued by a flung dictionary

      1. “She would’ve been a good woman,” said The Misfit, “if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.”

  3. Miles W Mathis (link won’t copy, but has pointed out that the endless dragging out of the steal in AZ is quite intentional…They are rubbing our noses in the fraud, and no doubt getting high and laughing at us for being rubes who believed in honest elections..My vote (we have tracking in AZ) was not even forwarded for counting until 4 days after the election, and was counted a day later….
    Speaking as a former election judge in my home State, there isn’t a State in this country that couldn’t be counted with 24 hours, usually much less…

      1. And the more time they have to make it seem Joe B. Normal as if it were all ordinary and necessary, and not to be worried about.

        The thing about having crossed over the red rage horizon some time ago, however, is that I can’t get much more tired over any of this than I currently am. Besides, it takes very little energy to add yet more mass to the compressed ball of hate that lives inside the event horizon.

      2. Also if they fear some part of the count will be bad for their cause they sit on it. Why? Because if it is close and you sit on it for several days a more traditional opponent might concede. Yet an additional way to cheat that doesn’t even need (more) manufactured votes.

  4. Apparently a lot of young Tolkien readers think that the Woodwoses are “non-Caucasian.” It did not occur to them that they are Neanderthals, even though Tolkien pretty much shouts this.

    Also, I found a made-up quote from St Ignatius of Antioch, which is circulating on the Internet despite the very small amount of surviving works by him, which should make debunking the quote easy and obvious.

    Sometimes I just want to beat my head in. Or someone else’s.

      1. Yes, I obsess about weird stuff.

        OTOH, and even though I find the “modesty/dress like Mary” crowd endearing as compared to the “shave half my head, color my hair, and announce that I’m non-binary, even though guys don’t do that hairstyle” women, I just found out that St. Clement of Alexandria advocated unisex Christian dress. (Except headcoverings for women and longer hems and sleeves.) This cracks me up, and I mean to inflict this quote on people whenever I feel like it.

        The Alexandria party crowd must have been something, because he tells Christian women that they really shouldn’t get drunk, strip naked, throw up, and end up lying drunk on the floor. Also they should stop burping and hiccuping so loudly.

        1. Well, to be fair, we’re talking a drinking party in Egypt, from before there was A/C. Stripping naked might also have been traditional, given some of those Egyptian murals.

      2. Anyway, just how racist/chronologically biased do you have to be, to take Ghan-buri-Ghan as a typical person of African or Asian descent? And I love Ghan-buri-Ghan, but he’s definitely not Ordinary Human Down the Road.

        So you can argue Neanderthal/other prehistoric men, or you can argue mythological Woodwose. I don’t really see any other choices.

  5. It’s looking like Lauren Boebert will narrowly beat the fraud in Colorado.

    Of course, the Democrat will demand a recount. It’s the only way to ensure the election was ‘Free And Fair!’ after all.

    If it was the other way around, Boebert would be an ‘Election Denier!!’ for demanding a recount.
    Candidate Joe Biden, August 2020: “We have assembled the most extensive, comprehensive and inclusive voter fraud organization in the history of American politics.”

    Minutes later: “What do you mean, I wasn’t supposed to say that?”

  6. Marginally related, at best, but for anybody who wasn’t paying attention to the stuff coming out of the G20 and COP27 conferences recently…this is some scary dystopian crap, my friends.

      1. Isn’t a vax putting “the mark of the Beast” on the wrong part of the anatomy?
        Just a small quibble, not a disagreement with the general observation.

  7. “How the West Won” by the late Rodney Stark is an interesting take on … well, how the West wound up dominating the world.

    But about empires…

    Never mind the history that leads up to the creation of an empire, what makes an empire different from a nation?

    One obvious difference is that in a nation there’s a more pervasive sense of “we’re all in this together,” while the empire lumps together cultures different enough that they would not work together on their own, and generally resent being held together by the imperial power. A nation is more cohesive, and generally needs less force to hold it together.

    Empires also generally bleed the subcultures for the benefit of the empire-builders, but unfortunately oligarchs do that to nations too, so that rule doesn’t distinguish well.

    US history certainly has some imperialist features, but in the end we wound up with a few possessions that most people aren’t even aware of, and a fairly homogeneous culture. The homogeneity is largely due to founders’ effect and that most people (yes I know the Africans had no say in the matter) wanted to be here and adapt. So we didn’t wind up with a culture you’d expect in an empire.

    But if I’m right and empire-ness isn’t just a matter of history but of culture, there’s more than one way to get there. You can go conquer a bunch of places, or you can encourage demagogues to amplify the differences that already exist, or you can import new populations without requiring them to adapt or even learn the language. Or, of course, some combinations of these…

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