One of the strange ideas that has been promulgated in science fiction is that of alternate history. These are historical reviews that postulate the age old question of: 'What would happen if this happened instead of what did happen?' Normally this goes into the realm of warfare, but postulations of various sorts on society, technology, and just who dies and doesn't die at inopportune times, and then postulating a 'counter-factual' speculation of what would have happened if the events were different. This is, actually, something we should recognize as a way to examine our ideas on historical thought: if our ideas hold up in a broader set of circumstances with well founded postulations based on intrinsic attitudes, personalities and events, then we can have some assurance we are looking at history correctly. If, however, our ideas do *not* stand up, then we must examine them as being based on something less stable than accurate analysis, and put them aside.
I enjoy that area of fiction because it does allow authors to explore these areas and put forward that our understanding of what people do and why they do it is not so well founded. This does have a strange set of cross-overs, however, in those postulating the 'people using machines to time travel' idea and meddling in history. That derives from the examination that so many events were extremely 'knife edge' and many counter to the way we understand human behavior, that the only way to explain them is for someone from the future intervening in non-obvious ways to change the course of events. What that does, however, is question our own time and timeline which has obviously been rescued from things like the Cuban Missile Crisis, a change in aircraft and aerospace outlook in the mid-1930's, an operative willing to assassinate Hitler in 1936 because he was seen as a threat to Europe and told not to do it by his UK superiors, Wilhelm acceding to British wishes on a rail line in the Ottoman Empire and not building it, to some lovely questions of what would happen if King Gustavus Adolphus had not died in 1632, if Eric the Red had gotten fed up with being pestered about converting to Christianity... or if Justinian were a bit more competent. These are endless speculations and really quite fun as you take society, personality, capability, trade and other matters into account. One slight change can change all of history, and really ruin ideas of 'mass movement' concepts of history as well as demolish the 'lone individual one' as the flux up and down the scale is continuous: all levels play in history, just as they do in real life.
If we are a timeline saved, most recently being that flock of ducks that nearly triggered WWIII into a hot war back in the 1980's, then we seem to have been forgotten in this timeline as no real interventions have happened while society decays into pointless political bickering. My personal speculation is that this is now the 'Stuck On Stupid' universe, because all the competent ones either finished humanity off or are in some other continua having a good laugh about those of us left in this universe.
It is a form of ongoing joke... but it has a point: if you want to be rescued, then do keep the society that is both resilient enough and has enough good individuals in it to do that rescue. Never depend on just one end of the scale and expect salvation... like the Roman people did as the Empire decayed. Soon the barbarians were seen as a solution, and civilization fell again.
One of the few pieces that I've written that has gotten any notice at all, is that on The Long Term Consequences of Defeat. In that I take a look at the actual cost of the Vietnam War's aftermath to those we left behind because we didn't mean it when we said we would support a friend and ally. Contrary to the erudite sniffing, the 'Domino Effect' did take place and reached a natural stopping point at the sea. To get there it killed tens of millions who's only crime was being political enemies of the victors and those who followed their politics. Pol Pot's multi-year killing spree started out with anyone who was a threat to his regime and could publicize what was to come: journalists, writers, editors, advertisers. Soon it encompassed all of the intelligentsia. Then Pol Pot realized that if you *looked* smart you must *be* smart, so wearing glasses was punishable by death. If you looked pretty, that was uncommon and a threat, and so you died. That is 'identity politics' taken to its natural conclusion. The greater aftermath would cause more death to other people on this Earth and the USSR, which had been pushed to the brink of collapse was given breathing space to try and recover. Fully 25% of their economy was devoted to keeping the US embroiled in Vietnam, while the US spent 6 to 8% out of a much, much, much larger economy. And even though it was not the US that would pay for that, those who would pay had no defense against a superpower bent on domination.
Those who wanted out of Vietnam have not answered for their ill considered ideas and ideals, and the blood that pools around their feet, a gift of their politics and outlook.
As I've pointed out utilizing a slightly different look in one of the topics on alt-history: History is not inevitable. There is no inevitable outcome to any action taken, no great graced pathway to perfection for humanity. If 15% of Europe died during the 30 years war fighting about how best to worship The Prince of Peace, then the millions and hundreds of millions dead to the worship of socialism and its noxious off-shoots in the 20th century are as bad if not worse. Both had taken paths that their leaders and many of their people, but by no means a majority, felt was 'inevitable'. Growing up in a family of 'scientific socialists' that actually bothered to analyze Marx and decry the uses his works were put to by others, finally led me to the realization that much of socialism is delimited by its historical founding and the attitude of that era seeing an up and coming 'end state' of humanity. While that first article is haphazard, the next I put out on the topic is more to the point and examines the well known Theory and Practice Conundrum when applied to socialism. This is a well understood concept in the areas of science and engineering and goes like this:
In theory there is no difference between theory and practice.
In practice there is.
This is where not only the idealists stumble, but those following an idealistic 'perfect course' of 'just doing everything right' and you will get to the promised land. Thus we get lovely 'theories' backed by linguistic sleight of hand, that postulates all sorts of weird, nice things, and then falls on its face when actually tried. Changing the definition of, say, gravity, does not remove it as a force in the universe. Calling all those who disagree with you politically as 'imbeciles', 'racists', 'haters', 'dumb', etc. does not make them so, and actually calls attention to one's own limited capability to grasp humans as individuals beyond the 'conceptual' stage.
Of the most ill thoughts purported is the concept that if you just 'regulate' things and just 'make laws' that everything will magically alter and change to fit those 'regulations' and 'laws'. The cartoon I remember growing up poked fun at this in There Ought To Be A Law. Thus driving slowly in the passing lane should not be an anti-survival characteristic or an attempt to test the braking system of that 50 ton truck going faster than you are, but *illegal*. In theory you can do that, but in fact its insane to try and creates unnecessary legislation and law that then gets exploited to raise money via unequal enforcement of that law. Save when someone doing the act is tossed from the gene pool by their own idiocy.
In fact, no, there SHOULDN'T BE A LAW for everything. What that creates is trying to live ones life by having it DICTATED TO YOU BY GOVERNMENT. Even worse than trying to ban 'hate speech' is the nefarious idea that you can actually DEFINE it in any meaningful way, shape or form. What those people who push for speech codes are doing is seeking to change YOU by castigation by that role of government known as the Punisher. That is not called 'Progressive' or 'modern' or 'free thinking': it is, by definition, Authoritarian.
The activity of trying to transform language by shifting its basis to suit political ideology while attempting to retain older emotional import is also described as speech, itself, devolves into meaningless babble. George Orwell called it 'Duckspeak' and that is where those who feel the need to change well known and historically relevant ideas and phrases have gone to the past 60 years. Racism is an active, not passive affair: you must take activities to show you are racist, not have it imputed by some cryptology that imputes clear meaning is 'tinged' with overtones.
If you just squint hard enough to see it.
Squinting that hard closes your eyes.
At that point you are replacing what is actually said with what you WANT to BELIEVE is said. That is a fantasy ideology that utilizes that conception of things. On the links to the side of the page I have a link to Lee Harris as he examines another group with a fantasy ideology: al Qaeda. Their leaders believed that if they did a few acts to demonstrate their resolve that the mystical would occur and the US would fall. Their strange takes on economics is one of the weirdest things ever written and is nearly impossible to figure out. It is called The Management of Savagery and it is the al Qaeda Big Book of Strategy. It is every bit as fantastical as anything spouted by the Left these days, save that al Qaeda wants big, bloody footprints and is finding that they aren't coming so easily these days, while those on the Left always say they want to avoid them and end up with the pools of blood at their feet.
That is fantasy ideology: when what you think will happen does not happen as you want it to by taking the actions you do.
By not recognizing that failure and addressing the ideology ITSELF an individual delves deeper into fantastical thought and becomes less attached to this actual, real world even when forming up 'real world communities' that can never bring themselves to address the real live actual reality without trying to see it through a pre-broken prism of politics. And then, when hateful attitudes are taken to others and attributed to that cryptographic word play that they think is the 'real meaning' instead of just reasoning based on the words being spoken, then we hear rationalizations as to why an individual's own personal abhorrent attitudes are actually 'acceptable' because those that they have re-interpreted are 'worse'. At some point the concept of reasoning from understanding has turned into rationalization of horrific activity, to the point where those seeking to break down society on a global basis are lionized, and those trying to uphold community made without 'community organizers' are demeaned and belittled.
That is not healthy for individuals, for society, for politics and can only lead to ill ends for all of them if those individuals can try to exercise their fantasies upon a larger population.
I've spent the last couple of years going through terrorism, organized crime, corrupt politics, unsafe banking, political payoffs, and the growing tide of authoritarianism in society. Through that I've seen the deep interconnections of all of these with the power elite in society on all sides: political, economic, criminal, law enforcement, military. I've done long and hard research into what terrorism actually *is* as an activity - not our modern attempt to pussyfoot around with it, but the actual activity itself shorn of all politics and religion. It is a damned surprising conclusion as so many people think that this is something new under the sun while, in fact, it is as old as the very first huts to go up in a village and those villagers banding together to seek common defense.
It is called: Private War.
And the founders knew about it, and placed the powers to address it in the US Constitution in the only reasonable way possible: extract equal measure from those practicing it as they have inflicted on YOU. That goes back to Grotius, but the actual concept goes back thousands of years. By trying to condone it, those that do so are joining in reveling in tearing down civilization. The very same one that keeps them alive.
I really don't know which is worse:
Having 'Conservatives' who can't be bothered to actually read and understand such documents as keeps civilization going,
'Liberals' who are actively trying to deny that such basic foundational concepts exist.
It ain't good no matter which way you slice the politics. It is still bologna.
Which is worse? Those who claim to care about the founding and then don't understand it? Or those that claim to be so 'intelligent' that they can't be bothered to do any research AT ALL?
Lets have a Cold Civil War of Morons!
Or, as my quip goes: Morons need Lessons.
Yup, the research is hard! I have catalepsy and constant exhaustion, to the point where actually reading anything becomes difficult. So I get three or four coherent hours a day, more if I'm lucky. And I do not spend all of it reading and thinking, but lots of it in a dulled state of awareness. Only in the past year have I been able to do some pleasure reading... and that only because I had pored through so much of the necessary basics for our civilization that I finally had a state of awareness slowly come back to me.
What's your excuse?
To those who point to all the reading of the Holy Bible or all the lovely polemics of Democratic Underground or traipsing for the nth time through The Communist Manifesto: could you fit in de Vattel's Law of Nations in there, say a chapter on alternating weekends for a half-hour or so? Maybe Grotius' Laws of War and Peace and his Laws of the Sea? How about Blackstone's Commentaries on the Common Law of England? The Peace of Westphalia? Because if we are so much god-damned *better* and *advanced* than our founders, the least we could do is READ the stuff THEY DID to understand what they put down. Once you run across a few variants of the start of the Declaration of Independence, you begin to realize that it isn't such a revolutionary document but an encapsulation of nearly four centuries of thought on those matters. That, to me, is horrifically awe-inspiring that Jefferson with editing help from Franklin could distill so much work into such a small space. It isn't that the ideals were revolutionary, it was their application and quick and cogent summation assuming that later readers would know where they got their inspiration FROM.
That is what you get from looking at those works: a deep and profound appreciation of just what it takes to step away from barbarism and into an accountable society of free people.
My various 'Winds' articles on how this has been building the past year or so does coincide with that of Mr. Lileks and others who started then. They encompass that strange feeling that we are, well and truly, on our own and about to royally screw things up in a way that will leave them unable to be unscrewed. When looking at The two party trainwreck, we see how behaviors coincide between elected officials to yield a poor result: the two party system has stabilized on the lowest common denominator of 'what it takes to get re-elected' then use the power of the office to sinecure that position. That becomes a joint piece of work regardless of party due to the type of powers held by the parties and those in office. If you want to 'reform the system' you need to distribute democracy down to the local level, as that was the basis of the founding and there were complaints of 'concentration of power' even back then.
What appears are 'factions' within each party, which used to be a set of coherent voting blocks. Looking at the Republican Party, my views on the factions and their fallouts examines that the three main factions are each subdivided between 'Progressive' concepts and 'Traditionalist' concepts: if you want to use the power of government to enforce any moral behavior or code of activity then that is 'Progressivism'. The 'Traditionalists' want nothing, whatsoever, to do with handing government more power as it is a Punisher, and you don't really like to give more power to Punishers. A necessary Punisher, yes, which means you keep it restricted and accountable for the very few things you want it to do.
Original 'Progressivism' brought about the noxious plants of flourishing communism and fascism, as others took up the cause with vigor, but those societies had already had some start in those from their own political lineage. Adding in American views on how to consolidate power to government led to tens of millions dead globally in the 20th century and America retaining the foundation of the 'Progressive' views. Those views morphed in the last half of the 20th century and became a form of politics that shifted from global socialism of the Marxist stripe to Transnational Progressivism of the authoritarian 'government knows better than you, or else' stripe. Transnational Progressivism, like its Socialist predecessor, has two strains: Right and Left. Both seek to divide society and put in an intelligentsia 'elite' group after using categorical divisions placed upon Groups of individuals. Both seek to have individuals go into Groups by skin color, ethnicity, gender, religion and other non-personal determined parts of an individual's life, like social standing at birth via economic capability of one's parents.
Those two sections break down into the Left Transnational Progressivists seeking a break-down via race, ethnicity and 'intelligence' with economics being used as a negative determinant, and the Right Transnational Progressivists who want to place individuals into permanent economic classes and dissolve Western Liberal Society under the guidance of 'intelligent global economic views'. These both germinated in the 1960's while a third form of Transnationalism also started, and it is the worst of horrific triplets. It goes by the name of Transnational Terrorism and currently has a religious component that dominates in the realm of Islam. That outlook seeks to use religion as the primary determinant with the 'believers' getting the chance to have rights and everyone else getting the short end of the stick. All of these join up in wanting the destruction of Western Liberalism and Individual Rights. Whenever you hear about 'group based' analysis, you are looking at someone doing a Transnationalist analysis, trying to engender differences by Groups so that there is an affiliation of behavior by Group and a treatment of Individuals by Group... and to hell with personal accountability. The Transnational Left thinks it has its winning hand via the Saul Alinsky/Bill Ayers route of indoctrination via education, Transnational Right looks to impose economic efficiency via organs like the Wall Street Journal and its anti-Nationalist views on illegal immigration and liquidating culture on a regional basis and utilizes the power of capital growth and wealth accumulation to attract its adherents, and the Transnational Terrorists just want to kill you if you disagree with what they do, and rule by intimidation and terror.
This sort of deal now puts Traditionalist Conservatives and Go-along, Get-along Jacksonians in the same boat, a position that has never been occupied due to the older Individualism vs. Society Necessary outlooks, where the stresses between wanting Individualism to reign over society and those pointing out that Society creates the space for Individualism have been at logger-heads since the founding. Now they are in the same boat by circumstance and the ability of Traditionalist Conservatives to support Society Minimal standards and Jacksonians to push Individual Accountability views now must find common accord as no one else wants them in the Transnationalist Camps. And yet there is overlap between them, and always has been, and it is the exact, same overlap between the Pioneers and Explorers, and First Settlers. Someone needs to ensure that wilderness is understood enough so that society can flourish and be protected, and that common job of ensuring the wilderness doesn't overgrow society falls heavily on these two outlooks as NO ONE ELSE wants to do those jobs.
These two areas of culture have overlapped and intergrown in the 40 years since the Jacksonians were read out of the Democratic Party and now form 'Polarized America'. Those trendlines are important and grossly overlooked in the Red/Blue conceptualization of America. There are those who have bemoaned that this will be the 'ruining of America' when those who stick to what works will be seen as backward compared to their 'more advanced' urban cousins. And yet it is that same grouping of Traditionalists and Jacksonians that are encroaching on the Urban centers in this land known as Suburbia and Exurbia. The Red/Blue divide masks the great Interstate Bypass Divide, where any city large enough to get an Interstate Bypass can delineate its political views into Urban/Transnationalist and Suburban/Traditionalist and Jacksonian.
And that is the Battleground of the Cold Civil War: those who want to stay in cities with all of its lovely cultural artifacts and those who want to create good culture to sustain their outlooks on the world. One is centralized and imposed and adores cities and full blown top-down control structures, and the other is decentralized, lateral and allows an individualist stamp to be put on one's life so that one's values can be sustained. The Urban regions are trying to grow outwards, but have an unsustainable population ethos of 'two children being a drain is all you can afford to have' and 'sustainable growth': both of which mean stagnation of culture. Jacksonians and Traditionalists see children as a great boon to families, that finances can be stretched to increase coverage while nominally living with lower living standards, and that one makes growth for themselves and sees no need for growth based on productivity to be 'sustainable' outside of sustaining one self and one's family.
Often those battle lines are hazy, and there are sections of rural America that enjoys the largesse of federal handouts, just as there are still some Urban Black neighborhoods that disdain criminal gangs and support sustainment of self and family above all other things while creating a good community in doing so. If you have a hand out to receive from the public coffers you find it very hard to give yourself a hand up to a better life. That is the Traditionalist Conservative view of creation of society by doing good deeds and living a good life, and it forms the basis for individualism in America.
That division is one between wanting to be absorbed into the world and disappear into a polyglot of humanity ruled by government, and those seeking to create good lives and accountable government and help those that agree with us on that basis for a better world. The first has no standards, save destroying anything that allows individuals to achieve and wanting there to be a quick and easy system of prejudice with a handbook to tell you how to treat anyone else based on their color, gender, religion or ethnic background. The other holds standards to one self, one's family, one's society and government so that each are held accountable and NONE have the chance to run roughshod over liberty and freedom, and working with those who support both liberty and freedom.
The first is authoritarian based and is seeking to found a new Empire of Global Discrimination with a death toll that will be unmatched by any previous authoritarian State as this will be a Global Empire.
The second is the coalescing of Free People to support their liberty and freedom via minimal accountability and hold the State down with our hands around its neck to keep it from doing anything more than the bare minimum to protect us as we depend on our good nature for charity and distrust government to ever be 'good' or 'do good'.
As I see it those are the 'battlelines' in the Cold Civil War as they have been drawn up.
And the people voting with their feet?
I doubt that they are the ones seeking more government. They are the oppressed who have been told to shut up, or else. They are the ones who have walked away from liberal democracy as it has turned authoritarian, rigid and unaccountable.
That is the Majority of America.
That is the way the population broke down when the Revolutionary War started and before the blood started to flow.
The authoritarians always resort to the force of the State to put down rebellion and start fights to divide their opponents.
And the Jacksonian credo is: "We did not start this fight. But we sure, as Hell, will FINISH IT."
Welcome to the 21st century, America.
Let us hope the beliefs of the 20th don't kill us off.