Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The Charlottesville problem or, the only salvation is less freedom, not more

History shows the left employing coordinated subversive techniques across the world to advance its cause, and it was extremely successful. Now, it seems the right is doing the same thing, though on a smaller scale. This is a terrible idea.

Let me explain.

A mob tore down the monument to Confederate soldiers in Durham, NC, this week. Since statue desecration is what the original protests from people who call themselves the right was all about, it's more important to understand the significance of real-life deconstruction than whatever else happened last weekend.

Comprehending this starts with appreciating that 41 of the 56 writers of the US Constitution were slaveholders. This is history, not just of the US, but of every civilisation on the planet. All people groups likely held slaves. Those people also invented things. Does their slaveholding make technology morally disgusting? Are Plato's ideas less instructive due to his human ownership? Does the holding of slaves by US founders make what they wrote illegitimate?

That's a very important question, perhaps the most important. Ask yourself where this ends if this question is transactional. We are witnessing the creation of a popular movement by way of denigration of anyone who once held slaves with a creeping goal to undermine and delegitimise the Constitution of the United States of America. Someone call Nicholas Cage.

All crimes need a motive. So what's the incentive for this seditious goal? Well, no matter how much they claim otherwise, progressives can't stand the Constitution. They hate it. they despise it. As mentioned earlier, freedom of speech and assembly was useful for progressives when they needed to capture power from the traditionalists, but now that they have the power they deny those same rights to their domestic enemies. To progressives, freedom of speech isn't a right, it is a tool. And it's best not to let the tools which brought you power fall into the hands of your enemies. Losing the One Ring gets Sauron killed eventually.

But because there are still plenty of people who were brought up believing in the foundational texts of the Constitution, the progressive movement is stopped just short of consolidating its control over the entire American polity. Capturing the Supreme Court (the seat of actual power in the US) has proven bittersweet because traditionalists can legitimately occupy permanent positions and slow "progress" down.

And there's only so much power in the civil service (the seat of formal power in the US), which is also under progressive capture. Although the civil service has less oversight about what it does than the Supreme Court and the executive due to the sheer volume of policy flowing out of Washington, few people have the time or inclination to check whether its actions are allowed under the Constitution. The civil service gets away with a lot, believe me.

The Constitution is the only thing stopping the US from collapsing into an outright progressive/top-down/socialist state. To fix this conundrum, progressives are demonising anyone in America's history on moral grounds - based on today's concept of morality - if they held slaves. This is a clever move and I'd be impressed if it weren't so insidious. Once this propaganda starts to run by its own steam, the progressives can create a set of victory conditions by which the US populace actually considers the Constitution null and void. The path to revocation starts with morally vilifying slaveholders, which leads to corruption of the authors in the minds of the populace for whom the logical connection is then made to destroy the document so they can collectively reach absolution. If the Constitution is for the people and by the people, then only the people can destroy it.

Progressives know that if they were to unilaterally abrogate the founding document tomorrow, there would be blood in the streets, and not just from the people wearing tinfoil hats. Classical liberals would sharpen pitchforks too. It would be a terrible optics. The game is to use the tool of democracy to get the people themselves to rise up and remove the only thing protecting them from tyranny and horror of a totalitarian ideology. This kind of thing has been done before, ain't no reason to think it couldn't be done again.

This is why protesting and acts of terror are such a silly ideas for those who consider themselves to be on the actual right. By the way, don't confuse the actual right with "conservatives." The latter are merely laggard progressives defending everything the progressive movement agitated for 30 years ago (what conservative would dare propose revoking gay rights, for instance?). Conservatives don't deserve your energy. America's ruling class shops at Whole Foods. If this totally rocks your world, maybe your world needed a little rocking.

One synonym for "ruling class" is "policymakers." The people who rule are the ones who formulate the policies which the government carries out. These are not the people you see on TV. The people you see on TV are actors. Their job is to read lines. There is a small Republican policy-making machine offering mild dissident ideas on a variety of issues. Sometimes in exceptional circumstances, these ideas are even adopted - as with the "neocons" last decade - because they help spread the progressive gospel further across the planet. The rest of Washington then exerts its considerable influence to make the remaining policies fail, as of course, the "alt-right" will eventually too.

In general, public policy is formulated in universities by people who are exclusively of the liberal, Democratic or progressive persuasion. It is broadly accurate to speak of this caste - H.G. Wells called them "Eloi" - as the ruling class. And they certainly do shop at Whole Foods, drive Priuses, do yoga, go jogging, etc, etc. They can be white, black, Asian, Indian, and blah blah blah. It doesn't matter. What matters is the synopsis.

Every time I watch a leftist street march in the US I laugh at the huge numbers of black people (and the "ally" white people, but don't get me started...). Progressive philanthropists say they are Great Friends of the Negro, treating him as "a man, and a brother." In reality, progressives don't like actual black people any more than they like democracy. They have no love at all for the poor. What they love is to pick them up, turn them into feral barbarians, encourage them to devastate civilised society, and provide millions of jobs for fellow ruling class members caring for the animalistic, burned-out shell of what was formerly one of North America's great cultures - the African-American culture. Compare the cultural contributions of black people before and after the "civil-rights movement" and you'll see the difference.

"Now you're just being racist!" Calm down, wildman. It's not Jews, Niggers, or Fags I despise. It's philanthropists and liberal missionaries who, in the old Russian saying, "pretend to be the doctors of society, but are really the disease." Have fun curing juvenile delinquency in the slums with that planned housing project of yours, Sister Wolf.

Professor Venkatesh's little book was intriguing in many ways, but perhaps the most interesting is that none of the other people working at the University of Chicago's "sociology" department had ever come in contact with the inhabitants of the Robert Taylor Homes, nor did they have any idea what their lives were like. This is because the civil-rights movement, whose real goal was simply to put progressive party members into power, has no more use for its black playthings - except to pay them to vote every few years or march in BLM and Occupy protests.

If I had one message for the protesters at Charlottesville, it would be that leftist tactics do not work in general for the right.

There is no symmetry at all. The actual right (and conservatives, too) shouldn't believe in fair play, democracy and winning by convincing their opponents through argument because progressives have never believed in any of these things. Progressives hate democracy like the devil. That's why they're always accusing their enemies, the "populists," of "politicising public policy." Translation: it allows democracy to interfere with the progressive party line. I'm aware politics is what democracy says on the box, but hey, sometimes marketing is full of bullshit. Is this new information to you?

Progressives throughout the last two centuries always bowled the hardest ball they could get away with. They believed in winning by any means necessary. And in the cases where their victories have been absolute, the result has been nothing but destruction, disaster and death for most of the people who were tricked into supporting them.

Tocqueville had a useful way of explaining it: the right wins when it strikes hard, fast and decisively. Otherwise, it is playing Calvinball with Calvin. The left wins slowly; the right wins in one blow. For the same reason the right is basically, well, right, it will never be as good at lying, cheating and general hypocrisy as the left. So it shouldn't try, which means it shouldn't use leftist tactics. Terrorism, for example, works amazingly for the left and almost never for the right because terrorism is the destruction of order, not the maintenance of it.

The only solution involves some kind of political discontinuity. For example, in an America in which the right had actually defeated the left, the number of streets named after Martin Luther King would be equal to the number of Goering Avenues. I'm not sure my computer has enough memory to express the number of years this would take the "alt-right" to achieve.

The whole alt-right thing proves the pathetic limpness of conservatism when it sets a laughably low bar by historical standards and then fails to meet it. Conservatism is a disaster. What the actual right needs is full-on Bourbon reaction - offence, not defence. The Pentagon needs to grow a pair. Whatever is eventually done, it needs to eradicate progressivism, not just ameliorate it or try to slow it down. You don't argue with cancer. You cut it out.

None of this will happen until the American right wing quits its silly insistence on clinging to the sham of democracy, which is the creed of its enemy. It starts with a traditionalist voter base and tries to devise a programme that is maximally effective given that it needs voters to support it. Meanwhile, the left controls the press and the educational system and is slowly "educating" the backwoods Americans out of their last drops of sanity. (The sheer amount of "anti-racists" in Charlottesville is a good example of how far the line has been pushed in our lifetimes alone.)

Real success against the left can only be achieved by starting with a programme which, if enacted, would actually work. It will be impossibly radical and unpopular - in short, unworkable from a democratic standpoint. To win, either you have to change this, or you have to think outside the democratic box.

And if you don't suspect the danger is real, perhaps the New York Times will enlighten you. Suffice it to say that the behaviour of the alt-right is pretty much a case study in what not to do. The left cannot be appeased. It can only be smashed.

Progressivism is a ruthless, power-hungry death cult, just like Nazism. Someday the two will be remembered in the same breath.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

How to prove a conspiracy theory

Here are the ground rules for claiming proof of extraordinary phenomena in 2017.

1. Any video must be shot using a tripod or with the camera supported on some fixed object, like a big rock. If you make me watch another stupid video of some spectre and the camera is shaking all over the place, you are, in my eyes, subhuman. Go get a tripod or you'll have a video of the inside of your butt.

2. Videos must be in focus at all times. It's 2017, if they actually built lenses in the Sahara, they would have autofocus too. Blurry video = slap in the face.

3. Your video cannot show something that "could either be the Loch Ness Monster or a log." That just means you videotaped a log, and now you want to be famous for your log video. That makes you an asshole. Logs aren't interesting. They are super common, just lying around all day like a bunch of logs. If you make me watch an log video under false pretences, I will go Clockwork Orange on your ass. In the name of science.

4. Same with photos, I'm not even kidding you. I see a blurry photo of a hubcap you claim is a UFO, and my fist will rocket across the surface of the earth of its own accord, dragging my limp and helpless body behind it, until it smashes into your face.

5. Photos must be 8 megapixels or above, and if you claim more than one photo, one of them had better be in TIFF or raw format, with the exif data intact. An alien craft travels thousands of light years to get to earth, it's going to stick around for the three seconds necessary to switch to raw. You show me a compressed JPG with visible artefacts, I throw you into a pit of logs where you will be bored to death. See 3.

6. If you claim a photo of an alien spacecraft, and it has any writing from a science fiction movie on it, I am going to force you at sabrepoint to return to high school where you will attend gym class seven times a day, alternating between bullrush and paintball - without a mask. Wookie? Not on my watch.

7. Photos must be posted to Flickr and videos to YouTube, with the high-res uncompressed originals available as torrents on the Pirate Bay. If you link to a Tumblr site or, God help you, 9Gag, I'm going to glass you.

No-confidence in South Africa?

Now it’s a streak. Seven times in seven years members of South Africa’s parliament have tried and failed to remove President Jacob Zuma by a vote of no confidence. On August 8, they failed again and he remains in power to continue poorly managing the struggling state.

The general explanation for South Africa’s woes is to fault the leadership, but also the inability of its citizens to pull themselves out of a situation created, or at least exacerbated, by generations under apartheid. This is like saying if it looks, walks and talks like a duck, it's actually an armadillo.

Yet if I claim it's a duck, the burden of proof is on me for proving it is not an armadillo. Happy to do so. South Africa has symptoms similar to those of Haiti, Jamaica and Nigeria which are also struggling to emerge from generations under apartheid. Oh, wait, no they're not... Maybe the problem is something else? Let’s find out.

In 1994, the Republic of South Africa held an election. It was the last internal election of the three-centuries-old white tribe of the Cape, who considered a political separation from the Xhosa and Zulu people natural and obvious, just as the political separation between Italy and France was natural and obvious.

The Afrikaners felt the fundamental theory of apartheid was that South Africa was several nations in one territory, a perfectly reasonable design for government. The assumption mirrors the Ottoman millet system, which made the Middle East functionally multicultural – compared with its modern rabid, murderous, irredentist nationalism (which progressives have done so much to sustain).

Anyway, in 1994, about two-thirds of white South Africans voted to dissolve the white polity, surrender their old republic, its constitution and flag and succumb to State Department pressure which had used every instrument short of invasion to depose the Nationalists and install the ANC. The votes were binding and final and old South Africa, like Rhodesia, is gone. However, those who voted, yes or no, are now voting with their feet.

There were two schools of thought on the election. The first predicted a transformation of the strife-ridden tip of Africa into a Rainbow Nation in which the unity of humanity would be displayed. Others thought it was a terrible idea to turn the last developed country in Africa over to a mafia of Communist mass murderers, predicting South Africa would soon mimic Haiti, Jamaica, Nigeria or Zimbabwe. Obviously, there was not much middle ground.

In general, the South African whites of British descent or affinity (early 20th-century South African writings often mentioned a conflict of races, but they meant the English and Boer) voted yes in 1994, because they subscribed to the first school. This, of course, is the party line of the international intellectual elite known as American progressives.

On the other side, the Afrikaners were divided. Some, called verligte or "enlightened," followed the internationalist party line and voted yes. The others, called verkrampte (I'm not sure about the precise translation, but it looks onomatopoeic) subscribed to the second school and voted no.

They were correct. But imagine how hard it would have been to correctly predict the result of a glorious victory of liberation in South Africa, and endorse the verkramptes and their bitter, bigoted cynical racism. The verkramptes made some people in the Donald Trump fan base look inclusive. It’s always tough being wrong, but it’s really tough having to admit others are right.

Few people, however, would say the Nationalist era was a period of ideal government. If the Nationalists had operated a good government, South Africa would still be a First World country today. It had nuclear weapons and nuclear power, as well as healthy arms and energy industries. No country on earth, not even the US, had the power to coerce the RSA back then.

But, like most bad governments it was weak and therefore brutal. Comparing Singapore to the old Broederbond Boerocracy, the difference between effective and ineffective authoritarian states becomes clear. A strong government executes firmly and decisively. A weak government is fickle and inconsistent, and needs to be much more vicious to achieve any level of security.

Looking back, the fate of the RSA was sealed after it flinched at the outcome of the Rivonia trial and refused to hang Nelson Mandela for crimes which everyone now agrees he committed. This one death probably would have prevented many others, on both sides of apartheid’s fence.

Are South Africa’s problems due to the inability of Africans to self-govern, or of “inequality” and universal human greed? Ask the same question for Haiti, Jamaica or Nigeria. Depending on what you answer, ask again why aren’t Finland, China, Croatia, Malaysia and New Zealand also afflicted? Maybe the propensity for greed isn’t quite that universal after all.

History shows that majority-rule democracy is probably not the best political design for a population of predominantly African descent. I’d also say majority-rule democracy is probably not the best political design for a population of predominantly European or Semitic descent, either. Does this make me more or less of a racist? Clearly, I should apply to the Waffen-SS. The Indian Raj was much more similar to Moghul India than the postcolonial democratic welfare state. It also worked a lot better – surprise!

And besides, "inequality" is so easy to deconstruct: What is the precise mechanism by which the presence of wealth in one's geographic proximity causes suffering and poverty? "Inequality" is simply code for support of a political movement that survives by extorting rich South Africans and using their money to buy votes from the poor. Mr Zuma talks about it as a threat of violence: the poor are envious, he says, and if they get more envious we may not be able to control them. Pay us off, we'll pay them off, and everything will be fine. How progressive indeed.

Most people think South Africa’s problems are a result of apartheid. No shame in that. They barely have time to learn the official excuses, let alone dig around for the actual story. But Occam has a simpler explanation: the trouble is actually the result of decolonialisation, which is the process by which the British, French and Belgian empires were confiscated by the US after WWII and transferred from colonial administration to a post-colonial aidocracy.

But I won’t hold my breath for aidocrats to take responsibility for the vast increases in suffering across South Africa and the rest of the continent. That wouldn’t be very progressive at all. Mr Zuma has friends in high places, so to speak.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Back to square one with the Islamic State

The Old City in Mosul, Iraq has seen its fair share of destruction over the centuries. Right now the city is recovering from months of protected house-to-house fighting between Iraq Security Forces and the Islamic State (IS).

The militants are also being squeezed across the border. Syrian government troops and allied forces have taken the town of al-Sukhna, the last major Islamic State-held town in Homs province. Under cover of US airpower, Kurdish forces – much to the chagrin of Turkey – are methodically clearing the outlying villages near Raqqa in eastern Syria in preparation for a main assault on the IS capital.

It’s hard to tell if IS lost the battle in Mosul. Even if it did, it wouldn’t be the first time the jihadists melted into air. Guerrilla groups tend to do that. The Islamic State is neither a terrorist group nor a conventional military force. It acted like a militancy and often used terrorism, but it was hard to classify. As it washes away now, it jumps back into a frustrating grey zone of jurisdiction.

Terrorism – the random killing of defenceless civilians – is the normal mode of warfare in our charming post-WWII world. In other words, it is the most common way to use force to achieve political objectives. Terrorism, left or right, is a legitimate military tactic and it needs to be judged by the laws of war, not the laws of peace. Generally, however, it is treated as a law enforcement or intelligence problem because international law still hasn’t figured out what to do.

It’s great that IS is being crushed in the Levant, but at least while it holds Raqqa and Mosul it is limited by time and space – and susceptible to JDAMs and indirect fire. Once the group is kicked out, like a hammer blow to a puddle, it simply flows towards other places rather than disappearing. Afghanistan, for instance. So the real trick is to find a way to dry up the water.

IS fighters will once again choose to disguise themselves as and mingle with civilians – violating the laws of war and the Geneva Convention. So how should they be dealt with upon capture? That’s a tough question for Washington, which will continue to carry the heavy counter-terrorism load for the international community as the militants return to their underground terror roots.

An IS fighter can be put on criminal trial in the US, but there may only be an intelligence (CIA) level of proof, not proof beyond a reasonable doubt (district attorney). He is not a prisoner of war, so what is he? The US uses the term "unlawful enemy combatant" which for all intents and purposes they invented without any legal foundation. Despite a decade and a half of constant low-level warfare, none of this is much clearer.

Laws against international terrorists were always vague, but it didn't matter because they didn’t attack the US before 1993. Here, the planning and execution was done within the US so the law prosecuted the terrorists criminally in New York. The real problem never ripened until 9/11. Before that, there was no situation (that was made public) where an attack was ordered and organised overseas and then only the grunts sent to the US to carry it out.

Taking the fight to the terrorists isn’t straightforward. If the CIA captures a person overseas, does it really make sense the person should have the full spectrum of US constitutional rights? Does it really make sense that a prisoner of the CIA in Afghanistan should magically have more rights than a prisoner of the Afghan government in Afghanistan?

Think about this really hard for a moment. If the CIA detains, say, 12 IS members in a terror cell in Saudi Arabia, what should it do? Give them to the Saudis to disappear? Put them on trial in the US without witnesses, without a reliable chain of custody of evidence and without national security rules preventing the disclosure of what scant evidence there is? Should the CIA put them in a hotel? What should happen? The terrorist might have crucial information and the CIA needs that. Please tell the CIA how it should get that information without stepping on legal toes.

The CIA is not the United States’ foreign police force. What the CIA does is kidnapping. It doesn't have the legal authority to take people into custody. Not to get into a legal argument over the Geneva Conventions, but those don't fix the problem. Protocols 1, 2 and 3 were never adopted by the US, and neither IS nor al qaeda prisoners are prisoners of war. They may be prisoners taken in a war, but that's not the same thing.

The irony is that if Islamic State actually created a state these issues would disappear because IS fighters would then be considered as acting on behalf of a hostile state and entitled to POW status. Smashing IS will feel good for the US, but it doesn’t dissuade its fighters from returning to transnational terrorism. We’re about to go back to square one.

There are two possible responses to terrorism: the natural and the unnatural. The natural response is to take revenge on the terrorist and everyone even remotely resembling him. The unnatural response is to address the grievances of the attackers. Hopefully, Baghdad has been thinking about conciliation, rather than mass execution (although this is reportedly already happening). The alternative for the West is to kill and capture these people forever.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Commonwealth Bank and holding power to account

Talking to one of my far more experienced colleagues, his advice about Australia’s Commonwealth Bank money laundering scandal is to wait for the investigation (which is in process) both internally and potentially by the regulators before asking for scalps from the C-suite. It’s hard to believe their excuse of coding errors. Someone must have noticed. But the relative lack of media coverage in Australia is intriguing for other reasons.

Over in New Zealand, people I talk to are discussing the imminence of a recession. Why? Because Australian banks are running out of money. So for something like this to happen at one of the larger banks, and for the reaction to be relatively muted, bolsters my initial suspicion that journos are trying to maintain fiscal stability first, and encourage prosecution second.

But as a wise man once said, "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." Keep in mind the average age of journalists in NZ and AUS can’t be much higher than 26-27. Simply put, most journos may be avoiding this topic because they have no idea what’s going on. This is why when Trump and his wife travel overseas, a group of stories emerge about his dinner menu or her “beautiful clothing.” A25-year-old has no idea how to parse the complex geopolitical problems, so they collapse back to what they do know, which is nothing.

One thing that does bother me is how journalists pat themselves on the back about “speaking truth to power” but don’t realise that in the modern world, it’s not politicians who have power, it’s the civil service tied with the corporate world. I don’t mean a “who has the money” kind of power, but the ability-to-change-the-world kind of power. Journos are, of course, susceptible to influence from corporates due to advertising support. But the real problem is journos actually don’t comprehend that formal power has shifted.

I think if you claim to be “speaking truth to power” then the default assumption is that power manifests in a specific way, which makes anyone who says that phrase an instrument of that power. Because executives aren’t held to the same scrutiny as politicians, even though they have more power, implies journalists do not apprehend where the new power is. Hence, traditional or legacy media is failing as an institution because it is no longer a useful tool. So what has taken media’s place? Social networks (notice how these magically became social “media” within the last five years).

Social networks are emergent properties of online corporates, in the same way broadcast media was an emergent property of democratic government. As with any power shift, the old controllers of the institutions and their instruments are sidelined, but the concept of the institution remains. The dynamic is a flowing of power, which you can always tell has occurred when the names of an institution have changed.

Why am I bringing this up? Because the most interesting question to ask is whether social networks would have brought this Commonwealth Bank fiasco to your attention if traditional media hadn’t.