In breaking from the usual fare on this blog, here is yet another attempt at fiction writing, which I hope you all enjoy! The setting for this story is in the near future, in a world that might just become reality. I just hope that nobody reads this and decides that this kind of a world would be a good idea…
“Time to wake up! You are safe and protected! Time to wake up! You are safe and protected! Time to…”
My hand slapped the OFF button on the alarm clock, and I groan as I roll over. Kicking off my weighted blanket, I sit up while reflexively grabbing the masks sitting on the nightstand and slip them over my mouth and nose – first one up and over, then the second, then the third. Ah, much better. I can already feel my heartbeat slowing, probably due to the sense of safety the masks bring me, though I am thankful that the government hasn’t mandated them to be worn while sleeping yet.
I stand and use my foot as a winch, folding the bed vertically and sliding it into its compartment in the wall, thus giving me some more space to manouevre in my pod. Going to the sink, I move my hands under the faucet to activate the motion sensor. Lukewarm water pours out and I quickly splash some onto my face, taking care not to waste more of my daily allotted water ration than necessary. I sometimes wish the water would be a little cooler or hotter, but hot and cold water can cause trauma for some people, and since we’re all in this together, I’m willing to be a team player. A rumble in my colon tells me I might need to use the toilet more than usual today, so I’d better forgo taking a shower, however. A good face splash is enough anywise, since I have today off from work.
One of the most consistent claims that we hear from progressives and others on the Left is that theirs is the ideology of “the future.” This particular conceit is perhaps understandable for people who have sold to themselves the idea that there is a certain ineluctability to the success of their dogma. To listen to its propagandists, one would think that the Left is the home of “science” and “futurity,” the necessary precursor to the shiny, secular utopia that populates the hopes and dreams of millions of Reddit soyboys. If only something could be done about those regressive hillbillies in flyover country, we could be enjoying our futuristic, egalitarian, diverse, fully vaccinated technerd paradise.
One of the ideas we often hear floated in this vein is that of the secession of America’s large, commerce-driven cities like New York City, San Francisco, or Seattle, who would form their own independent, globally-minded and transnationally-linked city states apart from the more retrograde parts of America. These independent cities would then be able to fully pursue their paths of progressive politics, turning into high tech beacons for rational, scientifically minded citizens who don’t want to be saddled with Red State neanderthals. The assumption, of course, is that these cities would be free to unleash unparalleled prosperity and technological advancement, demonstrating the superiority of the progressive ideology.
The main problem with all of this is that there is absolutely nothing to suggest that it would actually work.
One of most common laments from the American Right is that American society seems to be falling apart. Typically, this is attributed (rightly) to some combination of secularisation and godlessness, multicultural diversity, and woke progressive subversion. Regardless, it cannot be denied that modern day America – with its corrupt politics, crime, and racial division – has virtually no social cohesion at all. As America continues its descent into Third World status, social trust will continue to plummet.
This isn’t a recent phenomenon, sadly. America hasn’t been a high trust society for a while. Symptoms of this decline can be seen from top to bottom. The obvious signs of it are…well…obvious. But we can see it even in less obvious things. For instance, there is the decades-long decline in church attendance (even among those who would still profess to be Christians but believe you can be “spiritual out on the lake”), which in addition to the obvious spiritual deficiencies indicated by it, also shows the decay of social and community attachments. Among a vast swathe of the American people, even matters of everyday dependability have fallen by the wayside – things like being where you say you’ll be when you say you will, keeping promises that you’ve made to others, and so forth. This state of affairs is both symptom and cause – yes, being undependable and irregular in social obligations causes lack of trust, but is also the result of this same lack of trust, operating in a perverse feedback loop. Old timers often lament that all it used to take to seal a deal was a handshake, whereas now even a signed and legally binding contract barely compels faithfulness. But part of the reason for that was because in our formerly high trust, high cohesion society the rest of the community enforced social standards that discouraged cheating and oathbreaking. If Bob and Joe shook on a deal but Bob then reneged, nobody else would do business with Bob because of his social stigma. Without that stigma, many don’t see a reason to be faithful to their obligations.
If there is one thing that becomes apparent when you talk to a lot of normie conservatives, it is that they have absolutely no idea how or why they keep getting rolled over by the radical Left. They work and they work and they work to win elections, they invest their time and money to get “their guy” into office, only to find him selling them out on the first important issue within a month of taking office. They pass laws, only to be thwarted in the courts. When they win in the courts, they get thwarted by the bureaucracy. They try and try to force government to abide by the Constitution, but find that this document applies in one direction only. No matter what they do, they simply cannot keep Cthulhu from swimming left.
Why is this?
The United States of America is a deeply divided society, as basically any observer can tell. It’s an understatement to say that we have essentially no social cohesion left. Decades of pretending that “diversity is our strength” has led to a racially and ethnically divided society made up of Heritage Americans on one side and a whole host of economic parasites and ethnonarcissistic minorities on the other. Added to this is the widening economic divide created by open immigration and economic centralisation of wealth into the hands of an oligarchy of economically unproductive but politically powerful elite factions. Topping it all off is a “woke” political ideology that is capable of accepting the most obviously ridiculous propositions, and which is attempting to force the majority of the country to go along with these, which creates even more society-wide discord. It’s difficult to conceive of anything that could make the situation worse.
So naturally, enter the midwit.
The idea for this piece came from reading Derrick Bell’s short story, “The Space Traders,” a few weeks ago. As with my previous attempt at writing science fiction, I hope this is at least bearable for the reader.
The first true and verifiable hint that humanity was not alone in the universe came as a series of data blips that appeared out past the orbit of Neptune, embedded within the deep space radar data collected via NASA’s Deep Space Network. The anomalies were first noted by a junior technician on the overnight watch and were brought to the attention of the shift supervisor. Over the next few days scientists continued to track the blips, gradually refining their models until they came to the conclusion – which was quite surprising for most of them – that the blips were both changing velocity by unnatural means and were also on a direct course for the planet Earth. Excitement spread like wildfire throughout the community of those in the know, but the high level decision was made early on to keep news of these anomalies from the press and the public. Much of this had to do with the somewhat ominous nature of the anomalies as they continued to travel directly toward our planet. Gravimetric data suggested that whatever they were, they were big, and there were lots of them. An already eventful year was about to become even more exciting.
Of course, even the best kept secret doesn’t remain a secret for long. As the objects approached Earth at high velocity, amateur astronomers began to visually observe a large number of silvery dots that by this time were within the orbit of Saturn. The distance still kept the amateurs, with their relatively crude instruments, from being able to obtain sharp images of the objects. The much more advanced equipment found within the various international agencies, however, were able to collect well-defined pictures of a mass of large, metallic-looking objects, generally cylindrical in shape. Over the next few days (for the objects were travelling at velocities unobtainable by any earth-born vessel or probe), the cloud of objects moved closer, and soon even the amateurs were able to clearly tell that something unnatural was afoot. By this point, the news was uncontainable as information continued to leak out onto the internet faster than intelligence agencies could suppress it. Finally, the president, the general secretary of the United Nations, and other select world leaders gathered to hold a formal press conference announcing that…something…was approaching the earth which was neither natural nor of terrestrial origin. Whatever it was, it was moving fast and appeared to be doing so under power. The word “aliens” was never actually said during the conference, but everybody knew that it was aliens.
The effect on societies across the globe was profound and disruptive. Stock markets crashed while gun stores in the free world sold out their stocks of firearms and ammunition within hours. People sat plastered to their televisions and smartphones, waiting for every tidbit of news that came in. The global economy virtually closed during the week in which humanity awaited the arrival of the…vessels?…which had been calculated from the most recent deep space radiometric data. As the objects came within the orbit of Mars, they began to slow slightly, which was taken as a positive sign that at least those controlling the vessels didn’t intend to use them as some sort of “colony drop” weapon against the Earth.
Whoever it was that said religion in America and the West is dying had no idea what they were talking about. The past week has made this abundantly clear. Far from Western and American modernity taking an atheistic colour, it has become increasing obvious to even casual observers that the religious impulse is still very much alive and well, even if it is no longer anything resembling traditional Christianity.
Now, if one takes the Kulturen view, one can see elements of Spengler’s analysis of the late decline of a civilisation (as he defined it) taking place before us. Since the end of World War II, the Western world has formed a civilisation with pretensions to global universalism (Spengler’s universal state), that war having formed the final act of the West’s “time of troubles” that began in the late 19th century with the breakdown of Europe’s post-Napoleonic “long peace” as European powers began an increasingly frenetic effort to carve up the remaining uncolonised world for their own national aggrandisement. As he also observed, every universal state needs a universal religion to complement its secular foundation. Hence, Spengler’s “second religiousness,” the resacralisation of the world, but along lines that might very well prove to be foreign to the old time religion of earlier days.
Certainly that’s what we’re now seeing. The outpouring of religious devotion to George Floyd, erstwhile meth head turned secular saint, is of such a level as to make any spiritual promoter, from pope to cult guru, green with envy. His body lies in state, wreathed in a golden coffin, travelling from city to city like the relics of a beloved martyr whose mere presence may heal the infirmed. Saint George of the Holy Fentanyl, Patron Saint of Manufactured Narratives, intercede for us!
Over the past week, Americans have been treated to the spectacle of rioting and looting that has engulfed dozens of our major cities. One thing that many of them didn’t recognise until this started, however, is the widely spread regimen of anarchotyranny that accompanies, and will continue to accompany, the response on the parts of the elites in power to these riots. Many have criticised Democratic mayors and governours for weakness in the face of the rioting, but that actually miscomprehends what it taking place. Rather, these politicians have purposefully been softpedaling their responses to the crises in their cities because they are using the rioting as a form of anarchotyranny to advance the progressive agenda in ways which the traditional legislative process had been failing to do and which they hope will quell any opposition to the imposition of that agenda. Indeed, in less overt ways, progressives have been doing this for years prior to the death of Fentanyl Floyd and the riots being given in his memory.
So what exactly is “anarchotyranny”? To give a succinct definition, anarchotyranny is the unequal enforcement of laws that serves a systematic ideological strategy, but which is not openly presented as such to those who endure it, hence, giving them a false impression of equal treatment until they find out the hard way. As such, it differs from the sort of kafkaesque system in which a person is punished in an impenetrable maze of arbitrarily and unequally enforced rules, but the reasons for which are byzantine and impenetrable. Likewise, anarchotyranny is not the sort of situation, such as Jim Crow in the American South, in which inequality is systematically present, but which is widely known and understood by all involved. Instead, anarchotyranny involves subtle (yet sometimes rapid) shifts in the way laws are enforced and involves a good deal of manipulation of procedural outcomes from those who are doing the shifting. Indeed, the process is often associated with literally revolutionary changes in a society, during which one ideological regime is being replaced by another, and adherents to the former regime are punished for trying to operate under the old rules by those who are instituting the new.
At the risk of sounding curmudgeonly, I’d like to take a few moments to address the current state of the commentary surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course, I am thoroughly unsurprised by the absolute hash that the American government has managed to make of its response to the virus. Indeed, in light of what I said earlier, we shouldn’t be astonished that this happened. The virus would have been fairly easy to deal with in a socially cohesive society that was interested in actually trying to solve the problem, as you had in many East Asian countries, for example. In a society on the verge of social disintegration as American society is, and one in which literally everything becomes a lightning rod for political polarisation, a unified response to the crisis was almost impossible.
As someone who has tried to make a genuine, good faith effort since early December to set aside factionalism and actually let science and data (rather than SCIENCE!) guide my thinking about this virus, seeing the clown show into which the response to it has devolved has grown increasingly galling. And again, at the peril of seeming like a sorehead, I think that both “sides” of the virus, ahem, discussion are off-base. Both the progressive Left with its chicken-little-lockdowns-for-ten-years-it’s-all-Trump’s-fault-wear-your-mask-or-you’re-a-murderer karenmongering and the libertarian it’s-just-the-flu-the-virus-is-just-a-secret-plot-to-take-your-freedoms caterwauling are guilty of flooding the internet with bad takes. A lot of us who have been following the development of the virus ever since it was a wee little twinkle in the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s eye know this, however. What’s not so universally known is why nearly everybody who’s been commenting is wrong.
What it all comes down to is the terminal lack of understanding about complex systems on the part of America’s (and the world’s, for that matter) commentariat.
An increasingly common object of discussion on this blog has been that of demographic-structural theory (DST) and secular cycles in general. Essentially, this theory is a variant of several historically relevant models which posit that large, agrarian pre-industrial states and empires were subject to periodic cycles of population growth and contraction, coupled with concomitant cycles in second-order effects such as wage growth/contraction, political stability, and the like. While the foundations for this theory go as far back as ibn Khaldun and Thomas Malthus, the modern expression of DST as the application of political demography to the history of revolutions in various historical states was made by Jack Goldstone. Expanding upon Goldstone’s theories, Peter Turchin and his coworkers have added the element of elite contribution to political instability during secular cycles.
A brief overview of DST from Turchin may be found here. Essentially, Turchin’s theory proposes that social elites play an enhanced role in affecting political stability during a cycle because of their outsized ability to appropriate state and private resources to themselves. As a result, the normal cyclical effects of increasing population leading to lowered wages, increased rents, and greater economic pressure on the lower classes is exacerbated by elite competition for resources as those resources become more relatively scarce (due to a relative increase in elite population). This intensified competition between elites leads to greater political and social instability, factionalism, and (sometimes successful) revolutionism. Turchin notes that DST (as with other cyclical demographic theories) is able to model structural pressures that generally affect states and societies over decades or even centuries; specific triggering events that may spark a release of social tension are unpredictable, but able to serve as that spark precisely because of the underlying buildup of structural instabilities.
Typically, DST and other theories have been applied to pre-industrial agrarian states, mainly because those polities are the most susceptible to population pressures caused by access to arable land (population growth is tied to the availability of excess food above the subsistence level) and wage/rent dynamics on cultivated land. Their application to industrial and post-industrial polities has been called into question. However, I believe that DST, in modified form, can be applied to other entities besides agrarian states. For instance, I would apply a form of it to the growth and contraction of religions, and see that it could also apply to so-called “world systems” involving multistate core-periphery arrangements that can bind together the fortunes of states at opposite ends of continents.