The modern West has come under the sway of a credulous, intellectually-underdeveloped superstition that threatens its continued development and prosperity. This is, of course, woke progressivism. And like most primitive belief systems, progressivism has faith in the power and ability of magic words and fetishes to change or control reality. By fixating upon certain symbols which represent their ideological framework, the modern Left hopes to invest these symbols with the power to alter even the sensible world itself.
Ancient man’s discovery of writing provided to him the ability to represent his thoughts symbolically and in a way that preserves and transmits them to his posterity. In essence, writing allowed humanity to transcend its own impermanence. However, for many, the fetishistic understanding of symbolism merely carried itself into writing, such that the seemingly supernatural powers of the totem was transferred into written words, which have the ability to actually shape and direct unseen energies that warp the world around them. Yet, this conceit was not confined to ancient man. Even today, we have many superstitious types who imagine that their manipulation of the symbols of communication allow them to render reality malleable.
Like most people with any shred of decency, I was quite pleased (though also quite surprised) by the recent SCOTUS leak that suggests that the highest court may well overturn Roe v. Wade. If this ends up taking place (and so far, the conservative justices have indicated that the attempted bullying by the Left isn’t working), it’s exciting for a number of reasons. Obviously, the fact that defederalising abortion and placing it back into the purview of the states – where it belongs – will result in many, many little babies’ lives being saved. But what I’d like to discuss today is another reason why the Right should be jazzed about this, which is the “defederalisation” part I mentioned above.
Long-time readers know that I like to talk about and apply Peter Turchin’s demographic-structural theory (DST) to current events and that I like to do this a lot. I’ll be doing so in this post as well, hopefully explaining why the overturn of Roe v. Wade is so intriguing, even beyond the exoteric, short-term accomplishment of limiting abortions. To do so, I’d like to briefly cover the history of America’s secular cycle and explain how it follows the more-or-less standard patterns you expect to see from DST analysis. I understand that some might be disappointed to see that America’s history, from a macroscalar perspective, is really not as unique and exceptional as we often like to think, but please bear with me here.
And yes, I will be bringing this discussion back around to the Supreme Court, don’t worry.
The past two weeks have been quite an adventure for people who are concerned about the direction which American civil society has been taking recently. The widely reported leak of the Supreme Court’s impending decision in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organisation led to a system-wide meltdown on the Left. Since then, they’ve been “protesting” at the homes (and threatening the safety) of conservative SCOTUS justices, which is a federal crime. Violent left-wing fanatics have been firebombing pro-life HQs and pregnancy centres across the country. More generally, lefties have been making royal nuisances of themselves as they’ve thrown a nationwide temper tantrum at the prospect of not being able to kill babies to make their own selfish lifestyles more convenient.
I have to admit, I have zero sympathy for them. Zilch. Nada. None whatsoever.
So yes, they’re right – I don’t care about the Left’s arguments for “bodily autonomy” or “constitutional rights.” Sooner or later, we’re going to end their “right” to strangle babies in the womb and then suck their dismembered bodies out using a vacuum. They can play dress up or threaten sex strikes all they want but it’s not going to stop it from happening. And if they want to get violent about it (and many of these people are seriously threatening to start a civil war over Roe v. Wade), no amount of institutional support or police powers of the state are going to be able to protect them from a broadbased, nationwide self-defence by the normal people in this country.
The United States are in a tricky position right now and everybody knows it. The level of social division continues to rise and all of us, in some way or another, feel a tension that we all know isn’t going to be released merely by voting harder. Simply put, there are overwhelmingly powerful civil disjunctions that the normal methods of politicking simply will not resolve.
A good model for understanding what is happening right now is to look back in time to the Classical Greek and Hellenistic eras. At one point or another, just about every polis had to deal with what was called stasis (pl. staseis). Stasis was a phenomenon described by most of the major ancient writers and it refers to the situation within a body politic where the entire society was divided into factions that vied for control of the city and which most often led to civil war. This differs from the more familiar type of case where a small clique would seek to subvert and overthrow a government but the struggle for power didn’t extend broadly throughout the population. In cases of staseis, the struggle for power – because it was so widely distributed – was much more envenomed than usual and typically involved a good deal of bloodletting. It also often served as an engine for Greek colonisation as the losers in a conflict would many times find themselves exiled and expelled from the metropolis.
As you might imagine, this tendency was more prevalent in poleis with popular constitutions, or at least which provided for more popular involvement. Indeed, the majority of staseis involved popular overthrows of originally aristocratic regimes, followed by further troubles between various popular factions. The best example of this was Syracuse, a city in Sicily that was founded by Corinthian colonists around 735 BC, which had 19 instances of staseis between 650 and 210 BC mostly for this very reason. So democratic forms of government tend to contribute to the envenomisation of politics that led to this phenomenon.
Three weeks ago, we learned that Judge Ketanji Brown-Jackson was confirmed to the US Supreme Court. Just like that, the SCOTUS has been further reduced in stature to an affirmative action hire giveaway program, rather like a DMV office that has the power to override laws. Anyone who’s been paying attention to trends in late-stage Weimerica shouldn’t be surprised by this, however. It has become a truism in modern America that our institutions – across the board – no longer function as they should, and that many of them barely function at all. While this can be partially attributed to collapse phase secular rot, people need to understand that there’s more to it than mere inattentiveness and incompetence.
Judge Brown-Jackson is a symptom of this. Judging from her past behaviour on the bench, she does not strike one as an overwhelmingly competent jurist. However, in the eyes of woke progressivism this is a feature, not a bug. Certainly, it’s more important for those on the Left that she be a black woman who checks several of their diversity categories. The fact that she is very lenient towards paedophiles who prey on small children obviously isn’t a problem for them, either. And then there’s the odd coincidence that she was the judge who oversaw the case of the shooter in the Comet Ping Pong pizzagate shooting… All in all, she’s where she’s at today not only because of her demographic profile, but also her political reliability.
But for the Left, that’s a positive institutional paradigm.
Recently, I’ve been reading a book entitled Mediterranean Anarchy, Interstate War, and the Rise of Rome, by Arthur Eckstein. I’ve been enjoying it quite a bit and, along with its succeeding volume (which I accidentally read first), they form an excellent defence of the Realist school in international relations as applied to the ancient world. The current volume addresses the rise of Rome (basically between 350 and 188 BC) from being a not-very-successful local power to ending up as the last man standing in the Mediterranean-wide system crisis that began with the collapse of the Ptolemaic dynasty starting in 207 BC.
One gratifying aspect to this work is that Eckstein bucks a lot of modern trends by defending Rome from charges of being exceptionally bloodthirsty and predatory. Indeed, as he goes to great lengths to explain, Rome was basically par for the course with regards to diplomatic and military aggressiveness in the Hellenistic world. The converse to this is that because Rome wasn’t exceptionally aggressive, that can’t be used as an explanation for Rome’s eventual success in becoming the system-wide hegemon of the ancient world. So how did Rome end up coming out on top?
The biggest story over the past week has been Elon Musk’s ongoing effort to buy out Twitter and turn it private. One of his stated goals in doing so is to restore freedom of speech to all of Twitter’s users, even the ones who want to say things that would counter the Left’s Woke narrative memeplex. This has (obviously) generated a great deal of sound and fury from all sides, with those on the Right (who get censored) generally being enthusiastic while those on the Left (who like to be able to censor) are horrified.
They have good reason to be horrified, too. Musk’s potential buyout of Twitter represents much more than just a chink in the hithertofore almost complete control over public narrative crafting that the Left has enjoyed via mainstream media, culture creation, and social media. It also embodies the symbolic effect of successful pushback against the progressive monolith. Musk has done more to put the Left off its game than has the election of a thousand Republican politicians. If the responses from lefties at all levels over the past week are any indication, they are genuinely frightened in a way they haven’t been for a long time.
Every society in human history has had its heroes. This is a constant of the human condition that you can’t ever get away from. It is innate within human nature to seek for and admire the heroic, those who do things above and beyond the capacities of the regular person. The Anglo-Saxons had Beowulf. The Vikings had the Aesir (who, if Carlyle is to be believed, were originally just great kings and warriors). The Romans has Camillus and Horatius and the rest. Yet, these heroes set examples that inspired those willing to face adversity to perform daring deeds of their own. In each case, those who grew up hearing their stories were often emboldened toward their own gallantry and prowess.
Once upon a time, American society was no different. In fact, we had two sources from which to draw upon for heroic material – the Bible and our own frontier mythologies. Generations of fervent American Christians grew up reading about Joshua, King David, and the Apostle Paul. Especially resonant were the Old Testament stories of kings and warriors who exhibited a more “earthy” character, fighting battles, leading men, and invoking the help of God to gain victories. Americans in times past are often mocked today for naming their sons with monikers like Joash, Azariah, or Zechariah, but they had good reasons for doing so.
Likewise, Americans in previous generations grew up hearing stories about Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett, war heroes like George Washington and Robert E. Lee, and men like Wild Bill Hickok and Wyatt Earp who helped to tame the West. The common denominator for all of these was the combination of their valor and their accessibility. Every boy could imagine himself exploring the wilderness or leading troops into battle. Indeed, a huge chunk of the popular culture at the time reflected this in everything from spaghetti westerns to everything Fess Parker ever starred in.
One of the questions we see commonly debated in Dissident Right circles is just how long can the Global American Empire (GAE) really last as a hegemonic force in international politics. Some, like Curtin Yarvin/Mencius Moldbug, speculate that the Regime could last for another century or more. Others believe its demise will be within ten years or less. Both sides are likely overstating their cases, but I do tend to believe that the truth of the matter is much closer to the latter than the former. However one lands on this, it must surely be accepted that the answer will not be one that depends on simplistic approaches to the data.
It was with interest that I saw this tweet a couple of days ago, since it obviously pertains to this question,
Certainly, the term “Forever Empire” is a bit of hyperbole. No empire lasts forever, of course. However, there is one empire to which the USA is often likened which came pretty close to doing so, which is the Roman. In this case, I’m not really convinced the comparison holds all the way to the end, but I’d like to delve a bit into why this is the case.
America, and by extension the rest of the West, are afflicted with a sickening pathology that is rotting away the strength and power of our nations. Like a cancer that eats away at the strength of a healthy body, this pathology has been systematically weakening the social and physical infrastructure that made the West strong and capable. This pathology is nothing less than progressivism.
Progressivism is an especially divisive and destructive force because it combines three features that individually are bad enough, but when fused become an absolutely horrid composition. The first of these is a penchant for undermining and weakening existing institutions, usually with a view toward capturing them for their own ends. The second is an envenomed, manichean approach to…basically everything. The third is its replacement of reality with a “magic words” way of thinking that leads to an increasingly wide gulf between their policies and the real world. In their practical application, these tendencies lead to the distortion and then destruction of both the social fabric and even physical infrastructure of the target nation.