The pursuit of happiness 57

Gentlefolk in the 18th. century thought that to try to live happily was a reasonable aim, to judge by the statement of the great authors of the US Declaration of Independence. To them it appeared “self-evident” that every person had a “right” (“endowed by their Creator”, or, in other words, a natural right) to his life and his choice how to live it, which surely meant that he would live it as nearly to his heart’s desire as he could.

Horny handed sons of toil, even if as free under the law, were not expected, either by themselves or their betters, to achieve the same forms of happiness. Enough for them if they could earn their daily bread. For that they lived and strove. Their life was the striving. It occupied their hours, their days, their years, their bodies and their thoughts. Success was survival. Survival was for most of them the only reasonable attainable happiness. If some strove for more – excess, property, leisure – and attained it, then happiness abounded. (Happiness, that is to say, as contentment. Other forms of gratification – thrills, excitement, delights of the senses, scoring triumphs – are not our subject. They are experienced episodically and enjoyed to the degree the individual is capable of.)

The welfare state relieved the workers of the need to strive for survival. Now all could be philosophers. The joy of exploring the limitless sphere of the mind was open to all. Universal happiness would reign.

But doesn’t.

The reasons why people commit suicide are many and various, but what they all have in common is that they find life unbearable. So suicide rates might be taken as a gauge of happiness and the lack of it in a population.

The figures for those rates from the last few years (according to Wikipedia – and perhaps not entirely trustworthy) provide some surprises. (Worth noticing in passing – far more males kill themselves than do females everywhere.)

Highest suicide rate in the world: Greenland. Average 82.8 per 100,000 per annum. It is a welfare state.

Google reveals:

As part of Denmark, Greenlanders have access to one of the most extensive social welfare systems in Europe, including universal, nationalized medical care and free state education, including college.

(President Trump has asked Denmark if it would sell Greenland to the USA. Rhetorical question: Would life in Greenland be better, more bearable, happier if it became the 51st. state of the USA, which provides much less welfare? USA suicide average per 100,000 per annum, 14.5.)

Big drop to the next highest. Guyana 30.2, Lithuania 28.27, South Korea 26.6

The average for most European countries is between 12.57 (Germany) and 17 (Belgium).

Britain? Only 7.23!

China? 9.8

Iran 4.8   The state does most of the killing there.

Venezuela 3.2  Nature does it there, because the people are starving and have no medicines. Venezuela is – way beyond a welfare state – a socialist state.

Syria 0.1  Constant civil war rages there.

Pakistan 1.1   People are happy in Pakistan?

Haiti  – a truly miserable place of hunger and disease. Average suicide?  0.0

But back to the pursuit of happiness in the civilized West.

What went wrong? Is it possible that the strivers enjoyed the striving and its meager rewards?

Or did philosophizing bring the newly leisured to ask, “What is it all for anyway?“. And find no answer?

There are thousands of counselors – even millions, we would guess – telling unhappy people how to be happy. There are hundreds of thousands of books giving readers rules for living –  from obedience to which, happiness might be expected.

And there is religion. Religion is supposed to “give meaning to life”.

Does it answer the question “what is it all for anyway?”

Let’s look at an individual case of unhappiness. In America.

At the American Conservative, we found this letter, reproduced by Rod Dreher, to whom it was sent as if to an agony aunt:

Mr. Dreher,

The things you have been writing lately about alienated young men and mass shootings prompt me to reach out to you. I am not a young man anymore, but I am dealing with things that I did not imagine I would be when I was young and newly married. Back then, everything made sense. I feel like I need to tell my story.

My background is that I am a successful businessman (a kind of consultant) living in a well-to-do suburb of a Southern city. My wife and I married relatively early, and had two kids. The boys are in good colleges in other states. They are getting ready to head back to school next week. It has been a real pleasure having them here this summer. Our house becomes a tomb when they are not around.

Four years ago, my wife told me that she didn’t want to be married to me anymore. After almost 30 years, she had had enough. I did not see that coming. We almost never fought. We used to go to dinner together, take family vacations, do things together, etc etc. She just said that she thought she had hitched herself to a man too young, and now that the boys were older and out of the house, she was reconsidering her life. I asked her if there was another man. She said no, and eventually I believed her. I asked her if she wanted a divorce. She said probably so, but she wanted to wait until the boys got out of school. She is a reasonable person with a finance background, and knows that a divorce would cost us a lot at a time when we are supporting two kids in college.

She has a job she loves. I work from a home office. I was so glad when my company gave me the chance to do this. I miss the friendships in the office, but when you talk on your blog about wokeness in the workplace, I always find myself nodding along. A few years back, my company started getting engaged with “diversity and inclusivity” in the workplace. I noticed that every time they would run us all through one of those seminars, we would all come out of it more suspicious of each other. It was crazy. It was as if our bosses were trying to poison the office environment. I got to the point where as a white male, I saw my co-workers as potentially the people who would try to get me fired if I said one wrong thing by mistake. They might have seen me that way too. It was crazy. The more management pushed “diversity and inclusivity”, the more anxious things felt in the office. When the company was restructuring and offered people in my division the chance to work at home, I jumped at it, just to get out of that tense environment.

It was a blessing at first, but nowadays I wonder if that was the right thing to do. The idea of working from home seems great, until you realize that you don’t see people at all. I have a nice home office where I put in my 9 to 5, which is really more like 8 to 7, but everybody does that. If I’m being truthful, I stay in my office longer than I have to on most days, because there is nothing for me outside of it. My wife used to be my best friend. Now we just share a house and a bed. She has friends from her office, and goes out with them a lot. When all this started, I honestly thought she was seeing some guy. I’m not going into the details, but I’m truly convinced that she’s not. She’s just hanging out with other middle-aged women who are sick of their husbands too.

I used to think only men behaved like that. Mother and Daddy have both passed away, but they had a good marriage. Some of their friends got divorced when I was a kid, and it was always the man leaving his wife for a younger woman. They were very judgmental of them, but in a way I still think was right. They were Southern people (I think you know what I mean, Mr. Dreher), and that meant that they thought it was dishonorable for a man to do his wife like that. I internalized that honor code, and have always lived by it, and my Catholic faith. If my wife demands a divorce, I will give it to her, but I won’t marry again. How could I go through an annulment? I can’t say truthfully that this was not really a marriage. I meant it when I said my vows, and I believe my wife did too. I am not going to make bastards of my sons because my wife abandoned me and I want to be married again. Besides, there would be no marrying again for me anyway. I look at myself in the mirror — mid to late 50s, half-bald, pot belly, etc etc. What woman would want me even if I was free to marry her?

I was an only child, so I have no close family to speak of. We are Catholics. My faith is just about the only thing that keeps me going through all this, but it’s thin. My wife refuses to see a marriage counselor. I made the first steps to getting an appointment to talk to our priest, but I gave up because that was hopeless. I feel bad for our priest. He’s managing a big suburban parish all on his own. It would have taken forever to get an appointment, and there was no way he was going to be able to give us the time it would take to save our marriage, especially given that my wife doesn’t want to save it. Besides, there is nothing I’ve ever heard our priest say that tells me he is a man who could help us. He talks like one of those life coaches our company used to bring in for team building exercises, a guy who gets all his ideas from Hallmark cards.

She still goes to mass with me, but just out of habit. When I stand there listening to Fr give his cheerful but empty homilies, I think about what’s keeping me from going home and blowing my brains out. I’m not going to do this because I’m scared of pain and I’m scared of going to Hell. Also, I don’t want to hurt the boys, and make them feel like they did something to cause it or give them something to be ashamed of. However, I think a lot about how little I have to live for anymore. I am not even sure that the boys think of me much, except as “Good Old Dad”…

Nobody can see it. I stand there in church, wearing my coat and tie, and people probably think I have it all together. We drive nice cars, we live in a nice house in a good neighborhood, etc, etc. I am grateful to have a good job that has allowed me to provide for my family. By all the world’s standards, I’m doing well. I have “white privilege”. 

What a joke. When I first started working in my home office, I would dress up in a coat, no tie, and dress pants to go to “work.” It felt right to hang on to that habit. Since my marriage fell apart, I notice that some days I don’t even get out of my pajamas. I sit there at my nice desk doing all my work on my laptop, and go right back to bed at the end of the day without even taking a shower. I know this is pathetic, and if the boys were still at home, I would know to keep up appearances. This is my life.

When the boys graduate and don’t have to depend on us, I guess that will mean Decision Time. I will probably move out, though to all rights we ought to sell the house. I remember the day we bought it, and talking with my wife about that big dining room, and how we looked forward to the kids coming home with their wives and children for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Oh, we sure had big plans for that dining room. We bought a house with a fireplace because we dreamed about sitting around it with the grandchildren. All that is over now, and not because I wanted it to be. I feel so powerless. Maybe I would stay here if either one of the boys moved back, but given the fields they have chosen, I don’t look for that to happen, and even if it did, we would just be keeping up appearances for their sake. Southern people are real good at that, as you know.

What prompted me to write to you is your writings about the loneliness crisis. I am not some white trash 22 y.o. living in a trailer somewhere, playing video games, and living off his Mama, but I am completely isolated in my life. My “video game” is Excel spreadsheets. The friends I had back in the happier days were all “couples friends” through my wife. When she said she didn’t want to be married to me, we stopped having people over, and stopped accepting invitations to other people’s houses. After a few years, those invitations stopped coming. I tried to keep up these friendships with the husbands, but it was awkward. I told a couple of the guys I was closest to about the mess in my marriage, and they seemed sympathetic, but there wasn’t a lot they could do. They all had kids, and their couples friends. Two or three times I went to their dinner parties by myself, but you talk about awkward! I was embarrassed by it all, and just quit going. I miss those guys, and I even miss their wives. We used to be happy all together.

If this is “white privilege”, screw it. I stopped by the shoe repair shop a couple of weeks ago, and there were some black guys my age sitting around talking and laughing with each other. I envied them. I probably make 10 or 15 times more than them, but they are probably rich in ways that I used to be before I went “bankrupt”. I would trade all this so-called “white privilege” for a happy marriage, a strong family, and good friends. Mother and Daddy didn’t have a lot of money, but at least they had that. They also had a small-town church where they felt at home. How can anybody feel at home in a big parish like mine? I was taught to be charitable, especially to the clergy, and I do feel bad for our priest, who is carrying a heavy load. But this ain’t church. I’ve gotten to the point where I sit there during mass and I wonder how many of those men in the pews are just like me: barely holding it together, wondering what the hell we’re living for, ignored by our wives, and starving for friendship. God feels so far away. I have never doubted His existence, but these days, He feels like the Pope — a nice man who lives far away and who doesn’t see us.

I know I sound like I’m feeling sorry for myself. I guess I am. But damn it, I didn’t think things were going to work out like this. I did everything I was supposed to do, and it all fell to pieces anyway. I’m racking my brains trying to figure out how I can fix this, but my wife doesn’t want it to be fixed. She just wants out. I recognize that I am privileged economically and socially, but I’m here to tell you that if you were a working man who drove by my house, and saw me out front mowing our big lawn, you would think I had it made. In fact, you would be looking at a dead man, at a man who secretly hopes he falls over from a heart attack so he doesn’t have to keep carrying this weight of loneliness. At this point, my only purpose in life is to do what I have to do so my sons can have a good life or think they have a good life, until they get to my age and it falls to shit, and they end up doing just what their Good Old Dad is doing.

The thought just occurred to me as I’m writing this that the only real reason we will have to keep our household together after our sons graduate is if one of them can’t find a job, and has to live with us. That’s a sorry state to be in, knowing that the only thing that would keep you and your wife together is an unemployed grown-up child.

I appreciate the opportunity to get this off of my chest. I like reading your blog because even though it’s depressing sometimes, I feel like you talk about the real world, which is more than I get from my priest. I would just ask your readers to keep in mind that when they see people at church, in the store, and at other places, that those people might be suffering in ways that are not obvious. You think folks have it made, but they don’t. You see me getting out of my [luxury car brand] at church, with my wife, and we’re all dressed up and smiling, but from my very jaded perspective, we’re dead people who have no future. At least my wife has the girls from the office.

I’ve thought about asking my manager if I can come back to the office, but I know that’s not a solution. I’m the Great White Male, the source of all evil in the world. Given my run of luck, it would be about right for somebody to falsely accuse me of something, and end up taking away the last I have left from what started out as an American dream. I’d end up jobless and poor, and then the gun to the head might not seem so scary after all.

Sorry. Thanks for listening.

One thing we find particularly interesting about this “confession” is how little the man’s faith does for him. Fear of hell keeps him from suicide. That’s about all.

If he were not a believing Catholic, he might have developed some curiosity about the world he lives in. It has not occurred to him to go exploring in the infinite realm of the mind.

He was happier when his children lived with him. If he had grandchildren living near by he might be happy again. For a while, anyway. Until they grew up. But young men are not quick to marry now and raise a family.

Readers, your comments are needed.

Russia 1

An illuminating article. For us, lifelong students of Communism and the modern history of Russia, almost as full of surprises as of affirmations.

Angelo M. Codevilla writes at CRB:

What 21st-century Russia is in itself, to its neighbors, and to America flows from the fact it is no longer the Soviet Union. As the red flag came down from the Kremlin on Christmas Day 1991, Russian president Boris Yeltsin, when asked what he thought of Communism, nearly wept as he replied: “I wish it had been tried somewhere else.” Vladimir Putin, who famously said that the USSR’s collapse had been a tragedy, nevertheless shares the Russian people’s consensus that their country was Communism’s first and foremost victim, and that no one knows how long it may take to live down its dysfunctions. To its neighbors, this Russia is a rebudding tsarist empire. To Americans, it is a major adversary despite the lack of clashing geopolitical interests.

After Communism

The Revolution of 1917 was possible because socialists, in Russia and throughout the Western world, believed that “present-day society”, as Karl Marx put it, is a jumble of “contradictions”, which could be resolved only by tearing down the pillars of the house. Once that was done, history would end: man and woman, farmer and industrial worker, producer and consumer, intellectual and mechanic—heretofore at odds—would live harmoniously, freely, and prosperously ever after.

Because they really believed in this utopian dream, the socialists gave absolute power to Lenin and Stalin’s Communist Party to wreck and reorganize—to break eggs in order to make a delicious omelette. But Communism, while retaining some of Marxism’s antinomian features (e.g., war on the family and on religion), became in practice almost exclusively a justification for the party’s absolute rule. For example, the economic system adopted by the Soviet Union and by other Communist regimes owed precisely zero to Marx, but was a finely tuned instrument for keeping the party in control of wealth.

The Leninist party is gone forever in Russia because, decades after its leaders stopped believing in Marxism, and after Leonid Brezhnev had freed them from the Stalinist incubus that had kept them loyal to the center, they had learned to make the party into a racket. That, and the residual antinomian features, made Russia into a kakotopia. Russian men learned to intrigue and drink on the job rather than work. Shunning responsibility for women and children, they turned Russian society into a matriarchy, held together by grandmothers. In a thoroughly bureaucratized system, each holder of a bit of authority used it to inconvenience the others. Forcing people to tell each other things that both knew not to be true—recall that “politically correct” is a Communist expression—engendered cynicism and disrespect for truth. The endless anti-religion campaigns cut the people off from one moral system and failed to inculcate another. Alcohol drowned unhappiness, life expectancies declined, and fewer Russians were born.

Religious morality? Communism not a religious morality? Not the same religious morality in certain vital respects? All red capes waving at us bulls!  But for the sake of what’s to come, we’ll only stand and paw the ground – and give a snort or two.

The Russian people rejected Communism in the only ways that powerless people can—by passivity, by turning to anything foreign to authority, and by cynicism. Nothing being more foreign to Communism than Christianity, Russians started wearing crosses, knowing that the regime frowned on this feature of the Russia that had pre-existed Communism, and would survive it.

A louder snort. But on:

No sooner had the USSR died than Russia restored the name Saint Petersburg to Peter the Great’s “window on the West”. Even under Soviet rule, Russians had gone out of their way to outdo the West in Western cultural matters—“nekulturny” (uncultured!) was, and remains, a heavy insult in Russia. Moscow let countless priorities languish as it rebuilt in record time its massive Christ the Savior cathedral to original specifications. As the Russian Orthodox church resumed its place as a pillar of the Russia that had been Christianity’s bastion against the Mongol horde as well as against the Muslim Ottomans, golden domes soon shone throughout the land. Whatever anyone might think of the Russian Orthodox church, it anchors the country to its Christian roots.

Few Americans understood Vladimir Putin’s rise to power at the close of the 20th century as the reassertion of a bankrupt, humiliated, resentful people looking to make Russia great again. Since then, Putin has rebuilt the Russian state into a major European power with worldwide influence. Poverty and a resource-based economy notwithstanding, it is on a sounder financial basis than any Western country. Corruption is within historical limits. The leadership is appreciated by the vast majority, whose national pride and solidarity dwarf those of Western publics. Nearly all Russians approve strongly of its absorption of Crimea. Russia effectively controls Ukraine’s eastern end, and has exposed the West’s incapacity to interfere militarily in the former Soviet empire. In the Middle East, Russia is now the dominant force.

In sum, the Russian bear licks its deep wounds as it growls behind fearsome defenses.

The Neighborhood

Russia’s Westernism is neither imitation nor love of the West. It is the assertion that Russia is an indispensable part of it. The Russians saved Europe from Napoleon, and from Hitler, too. That they did the latter tyrannically, as Soviets, does not, in their minds, disqualify them from their rightful place in Europe, or justify Europeans, much less Americans, trying to limit Russia’s rightful stature. Today’s Russian rulers are not gentler or nicer than the emperor who shook off the Mongol yoke—who wasn’t known as Ivan the Nice Guy. Like their forebears they are calculating Russia’s stature in terms of the limits—primarily in Europe—set by their own present power as well as by that of their immediate neighbors.

Russian writing on international affairs focuses exclusively on the country’s role as a member of the European system. By the 2030s, if not sooner, the Russian government will have filled such territory, and established such influence, as befit its own people’s and its neighbors’ realities, and will be occupied with keeping it. More than most, Putin is painfully aware of Russia’s limits. Its declining population is less than half of America’s and a tenth of China’s. Despite efforts to boost natality, its demography is likely to recover only slowly. Nor is its culture friendly to the sort of entrepreneurship, trust, and cooperation that produces widespread wealth. What, then, are Putin’s—or any Russian leader’s—national and international objectives?

As always, Ukraine is of prime interest to Russia because it is the crux of internal and external affairs. With Ukraine, Russia is potentially a world power. Without it, it is less, at best. But Putin’s pressures, disruptions, and meddlings have shown him how limited Russia’s reach into Ukraine is, and is sure to remain. Hence, Russia’s conquest of Ukraine east of the Don River signifies much less the acquisition of a base for further conquest than the achievement of modern Russia’s natural territorial limit in Europe. The 20th century’s events forever severed Ukraine and the Baltic states from Russia; even Belarus has become less compatible with it. Modern Russia is recognizing its independence, even as the Soviet Union at the height of its power effectively recognized Finland’s. As the Russian Federation’s demographic weight shifts southeastward—and Islamism continues to gain favor there—the Russian government will have to consider whether to shift its efforts from keeping the Muslim regions within the federation to expelling and building fences against them.

As the decades pass, post-Soviet Russia will have to work harder and harder to cut the sort of figure in Europe that it did under the tsars. That figure’s size is the issue. The Russian empire’s size has varied over the centuries according to the ratios between its and its neighbors’ national vigor and power. In the past, Poland, Sweden, Turkey, the Hanseatic powers, Germany, all have shrunken or swollen Russia. Borders and spheres of influence have varied. There is no reason why this should not be so in the future. Russia will neither invade Europe nor dominate it politically because its people lack the political will, and its state the capacity, to do either. During Soviet times, this will and this capacity were the product of the national and international Communist Party apparatus, now gone forever.

A glance back at this gargantuan human structure reminds us of how grateful we should be that it now belongs to history. The Communist faction that resulted from the 1918 split in the international socialist movement—like the rump socialist faction that ended up governing Europe after 1945, but unlike the fascist one—already intended to conquer the world. (Fascism, Mussolini’s invention, recalled some of ancient Rome’s peculiar institutions and symbols—the fasces was the bundle of punishing rods carried by the consuls’ lictors—and added governing Italy through business-labor-government councils. It was not for export.) Communists worldwide came under the firm control of the Soviet Party’s international division run by formidable persons like Andrei Zhdanov and Boris Ponomarev, disposing of virtually unlimited budgets and, after 1929, of the services of countless “front organizations.” These, the party’s hands and feet and its pride and joy, reached out to every imaginable category of persons: union members, lawyers, teachers, journalists, housewives, professional women, students, non-students. Each front organization had an ostensible purpose: peace, through opposition or support of any number of causes. But supporting the “Soviet line” was the proximate purpose of all. Through tens of thousands of “witting” Communists, these fronts marshaled millions of unwitting supporters, helping to reshape Western societies. Soviet political control of Europe was eminently possible, with or without an invasion, because the Soviet domestic apparatus had marshaled Soviet society, and because its international department and front organizations had convinced sectors of European societies to welcome the prospect.

The tools that today’s Russia wields vis-à-vis Europe are limited to commerce in natural gas, and to the opportunities for bribery that this creates—witness Russian Gazprom’s employment of former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder. Not only do European governments not fear being invaded by Russia, they refuse to diversify their sources of natural gas, and generally oppose American sanctions imposed on Russia because of its actions in Ukraine. The notion among European ruling parties that the voters who are in the process of rejecting them for various “populist” and nationalist options, are pining for Russian-style governance or tricked by Russian wiles is a baseless attempt to sidestep the ruling parties’ own failures.

The Lefty globalists think that? There’s a surprise! Whatever makes them think so? We see the populist movements as being unequivocally towards conservative nationalism, self-determination, personal liberty, not … neo-tsarism.

Europe’s rulers know that Russian military forces are not built to conquer the continent, because these forces lack the wherewithal for large-scale projection of power. Instead, they possess formidable capacity for what soldiers call “area denial”. This fits Russian leaders’ strategic goals, the people’s sentiments, and material constraints. The wars that today’s Russian military are built to fight are in areas that today’s Russian military sees most threatened by the U.S. and NATO, on its borders with Poland and Lithuania (where Russia crushed the Wehrmacht in 1944-45), and in Ukraine, north of Crimea. Russia’s military posture has ever been, and gives every sign of remaining, strategically defensive but operationally offensive. Now as before, when war seems imminent Russia’s operational doctrine calls for taking the initiative in a preemptive manner.

Although Russian strategy would be to surround and seal off foreign troops by air and ground, for the first time in Russia’s history, military manpower is scarce and precious. Economizing manpower is one reason why the country has fully integrated nuclear weapons in ordinary military operations, recalling nothing so much as President Dwight Eisenhower’s doctrine in the 1950s of “more bang for the buck”. To seal off the airspace, and to provide an umbrella for their ground forces, the Russians would use the S-400 air-missile defense system—the world’s best, which is now deployed around some 300 high-value locations. Strikes (or the threat thereof) by the unique Iskander short-range missile would preclude the foreign forces’ escape, as Russian troops moved in with Armata tanks, which carry the world’s best reactive armor.

Possession of perhaps the world’s best offensive and defensive strategic forces—comparable to America’s and far superior to China’s—is why Russia is confident that it can contain within limited areas the wars that it needs to fight. Because Russia has nothing to gain by military action against America or China, this arsenal is militarily useful only as insurance against anyone’s escalation of border disputes, and as the basis for Russia’s claim to be a major world player.

Priorities and Collusion

Russia loomed small in U.S. foreign policy from the time of the founding until the 1917 Bolshevik coup, because the interactions between America’s and Russia’s geopolitical and economic interests were few and mostly compatible. Given that these fundamentals have not changed, it would be best for both countries if their policies gradually returned to that long normal.

But for both countries, transcending the past century’s habits is not easy. The essential problem is that neither side’s desires, nor its calculus of ends and means, is clear to the other, or perhaps to itself. It seems that the main thing Putin or any other Russian leader might want from America is no interference as Russia tries to recreate the tsars’ empire. Thus Russia’s continuing relations with anti-U.S. regimes in Latin America can only be understood as Cold War inertia—the almost instinctive sense that what is bad for America must somehow be good for Russia. The U.S. government, for its part, while largely neglecting Russia’s involvement in the Western hemisphere, tries to limit its influence in Europe while at the same time reaching agreements concerning strategic weapons—a largely Cold War agenda. The soundness of these priorities on both sides is doubtful.

Both Russia and the U.S. fear China, and with good reason. The crushing size of contemporary China’s population and economy frightens the Russians. The fact that some Russian women marry Chinese men (disdaining Russian ones) embarrasses them and has made them more racially prejudiced than ever against the Chinese. Yet Russia aligns with China internationally and sells it advanced weapons, paid for with American money—money that China earns by trading its people’s cheap labor for America’s expensive technology. With these weapons as well as its own, China has established de facto sovereignty over the South China Sea and is pushing America out of the western Pacific. Nonetheless, the U.S. treats Russia as a major threat, including “to our democracy”. For Russia and America to work against one another to their common principal adversary’s advantage makes no geopolitical sense. But internal dynamics drive countries more than geopolitics.

Nowhere is this clearer than with the notion that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election—a charge which has roiled American public life for the past two years and counting. Interference in American life? That is what the Soviet Union was all about. By contrast, current concerns about Russia are a tempest, albeit a violent one, in a domestic American teapot.

In America, the Soviets worked less through the Communist Party than they did in Europe. Here [in America], they simply seduced and influenced people at the top of our society. Even in America prominent persons in the Democratic Party, academia, media, and intelligence services (or who would become prominent, e.g., future Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and CIA Director John Brennan), were Communists more or less openly. Far more important to the Soviets were persons convinced that Soviet and American interests were identical. Harry Hopkins, for example, who ran the U.S. government on President Franklin Roosevelt’s behalf, considered Stalin’s objectives to be so indistinguishable from America’s that the KGB considered him to be effectively Stalin’s agent. By contrast, Alger Hiss, an important State Department official, was one of many controlled Soviet agents within the U.S. government. But the compatibility between Hiss’s views and those of many in the U.S. ruling class was striking. For example, even after Soviet archives confirmed Hiss’s status as a Soviet agent, Robert McNamara, secretary of defense under Presidents John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, like many of his class, angrily insisted on Hiss’s innocence.

The comradeship of American liberals and Soviet Communists lasted to the Soviet Union’s end. In May 1983, for example, in an incident widely reported at the time and confirmed by Soviet archives, former U.S. senator John Tunney visited Moscow and, on behalf of his friend and classmate—and prospective Democratic presidential candidate—Senator Edward Kennedy, proposed to KGB director Viktor Chebrikov that Kennedy work with Soviet dictator Yuri Andropov to “arm Soviet officials with explanations regarding problems of nuclear disarmament so they may be better prepared and more convincing during appearances in the USA” because “the only real potential threats to Reagan [in the 1984 election] are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations”. Kennedy promised “to have representatives of the largest television companies in the USA contact Y.V. Andropov for an invitation to Moscow for the interviews”. Collusion, anyone? Today, with the Soviet Union gone, its moral-intellectual imprint on our ruling class remains.

The contemporary notion of Russian interference, however, owes nothing to Russia. It began when, in June 2016, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) tried to explain how a trove of e-mails showing its partiality for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders got into the public domain, alleging that they had been hacked from its server by Russian agents. To this day, there is zero evidence for this, the DNC not having allowed access to that server by any law enforcement agency or independent party.

Throughout the rest of the 2016 campaign, this narrative merged with one from CIA Director John Brennan and other leaders of U.S. intelligence, who were circulating a scurrilous dossier, paid for by the Clinton campaign, that alleged Trump’s connections with Russia. The Obama Administration used the dossier as the basis for electronic and human surveillance of the Trump campaign. Together, these narratives prompted a two-year investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, which found no basis for the dossier, or for a relationship between Russia and the Trump campaign. Nevertheless, the assertion of Trump’s indebtedness to Russia became the pretext for #TheResistance to the 2016 election’s result, led by the Democratic Party, most of the judiciary, the bureaucracy, and the media.

In Europe as well as in America, the establishment’s protagonists have pointed to Russia to allege that their rejection by the voters is somehow “undemocratic”. Larry Diamond in the Wall Street Journal, following Robert Kagan in the Washington Post, wrote that “in one country after another, elected leaders have gradually attacked the deep tissues of democracy—the independence [from sovereign voters] of the courts, the business community, the media, civil society, universities and sensitive state institutions like the civil service, the intelligence agencies and the police.” Voting against the establishnment, you see, is undemocratic!

What Are Our Interests?

Making impossible a rational public discussion of U.S. policy toward Russia is the very least of the damage this partisan war has wrought. American liberals believed the Soviet Union’s dissolution was impossible; conservatives flattered themselves that they caused it. Few paid attention to what happened and how. Once the Soviet Union was gone, the West in general and Americans in particular presumed to teach Russians how to live, while helping their oligarchs loot the country. Russians soon got the impression that they were being disrespected. At least as Soviets, they had been feared. The Clinton Administration was confident that Russia would become a liberal partner in the rules-based international order. At the same time Clinton tried to load onto Russia the hopes that the U.S. establishment had long entertained about global co-dominion with the Soviets. In the same moment they pushed NATO to Russia’s borders—a mess of appeasement, provocation, and insult. Long-suffering Russians, who had idolized the West during the Soviet era, came to dislike us.

As the George W. Bush Administration fumbled at the new reality, it tried to appease Russia by continuing to limit U.S. missile defenses in fact, while publicly disavowing the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty; it formally objected to Russia’s dismemberment of Georgia, while effectively condoning it. The incoming Barack Obama Administration tried to go further along the same self-contradictory line by withdrawing anti-missile support from eastern Europe, and quietly promising even more restraint. But when, in 2014, Putin seized Crimea, Obama imposed serious economic sanctions and agreed to place NATO and American troops in Poland and the Baltic States. Then, for the most tactical of domestic political considerations, the Obama Administration, and hence the U.S. establishment, decided to try explaining the course and results of the 2016 U.S. election campaign as “Russia’s attack on our democracy”.

What are the American people’s interests in Eurasia, and how big are these interests? Although today’s Russia poses none of the ideological threats that the Soviet Union did—and despite the absence of geopolitical or any other clashing interests—Russia is clearly a major adversary in Europe and the Middle East. Its technical contributions to China’s military, and its general geopolitical alignment with China, are most worrisome. What, other than Soviet inertia and wounded pride, motivates the Russians? The U.S. maintains economic sanctions on Russia. To achieve precisely what? From both sides’ perspective, it is difficult to see what good can come from this continued enmity.

Today’s triangular U.S.-Russia-China calculus is not comparable to the Soviet-Chinese military confrontation of the 1970s and ’80s, when both the U.S. and China feared Soviet missiles, and the U.S. best served its own interests by implicitly extending its nuclear umbrella over China. Today, the problems between Russia and China stem from basic disparities that U.S. policy obscures by treating Russia as, if anything, more of a threat than China. The best that the U.S. can do for itself is to say nothing, and do nothing, that obscures these disparities. Without backhanded U.S. support for close Russo-Chinese relations, the two countries would quickly become each other’s principal enemies.

Ongoing U.S. anxiety about negotiations with Russia over weaponry is nothing but a legacy of the Cold War and a refusal to pay attention to a century of experience, teaching that arms control agreements limit only those who wish to limit themselves. Russia violated the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by developing the Iskander missile; the U.S. was right to withdraw from the agreement, but mistaken in ever expecting another country not to arm itself as it thinks best. In that regard, Americans should not listen to, never mind accommodate in any way, Russia’s (or any other country’s) objections to U.S. missile defenses. These are in our clear and overriding interest. Defending America as best we can—against missiles that might come to us from anywhere, for any reason—is supremely our business.

What then are America’s legitimate, realizable demands on Russia?

Putin’s Russia, by its 2015-18 intervention in Syria and its management of Turkey, achieved the tsars’ historic desire for a warm water port. Although the former conquest is firm, keeping Turkey friendly to Russia must ever be troublesome. Absent a friendly Turkey, Russia’s renewed control of Crimea and even the Syrian bases will be of very limited worth for any but defensive purposes. Whatever else might be said of its role in the Middle East, Russia has brought more stable balance to local forces than ever in this young century. Only with difficulty will American statesmen regret that our old adversary now deals with some of the problems that bedeviled us for a half-century.

The U.S. would be more secure geopolitically were Russia merely one of several European powers. But it has always been an empire, whose size has varied with time. An independent Ukraine has always been the greatest practical limitation on Russia’s imperial ambitions. That is very much a U.S. interest, but is beyond our capacity to secure.

U.S. relations with Russia regarding Ukraine are analogous to U.S. relations with Europe 200 years ago. Our overriding interest then was to prevent the Europeans from holding any major part of the Western hemisphere. By stating America’s intention to guard its hemispheric interests while forswearing meddling in European affairs, the U.S. encouraged them to face that reality. Today’s Russia realizes it cannot control Ukraine except for its Russian part, nor the Baltics, never mind the Visegrád states. The U.S. could lead Russia to be comfortable with that reality by reassuring it that we will not use our normal relations with Ukraine or with any of Russia’s neighbors to try to define Russia’s limits in Europe. We should realize that our setting such limits is beyond America’s capacity, and that it undercuts the basis for fruitful relations.

The U.S. prefers the Baltic States, and especially Ukraine, to be independent. But we know, and should sincerely convey to Russia, that their independence depends on themselves, and that we regard it as counterproductive to make them into American pawns or even to give the impression that they could be. Ukraine’s independence—and hence Russia’s acceptance of it as inevitable—depends on Ukraine retrenching into its Western identity, rejecting the borders that Stalin and Khrushchev had fixed for it, and standing firmly on its own feet—as, for example, by asserting its Orthodox church’s independence from Russia’s.

Wise U.S. policy would remove sanctions that previous administrations placed on Russia on behalf of Ukraine. Fruitless strife has been these sanctions’ only result. For example, they emboldened Ukraine to suppose it had U.S. support for presuming it had the same right to navigation in the Sea of Azov, passing under a Russian bridge, as it does in the Atlantic Ocean.

But in accord with the Monroe Doctrine, we should be willing to wage economic war on Russia—outright and destructive—on America’s own behalf, were the Russians to continue supporting anti-U.S. regimes in the Western hemisphere. If you want economic peace with America, we would say, stop interfering in our backyard. We Americans, for our part, are perfectly willing to stop interfering in your backyard.

In sum, nothing should be geopolitically clearer than that the natural policy for both America and Russia is not to go looking for opportunities to get in each other’s way.

Tell them (reprise) 3

The United Socialist States of America?

Is it really possible that the United States of America will vote to become a socialist country? Is the Democratic Party now irredeemably a socialist party? If so, does it as such have a real chance of winning the House, the Senate and the Presidency?

Victor David Hanson writes at Townhall:

A recent Harris poll showed that about half of so-called millennials would like to live in a socialist country. …

But they have no idea what socialism is. Professor Hanson gives several reason why millennials are attracted to what they think it is, including this:

Schools and colleges have replaced the empirical study of economics, history and politics with race, class and gender indoctrination.

Few young activists … know the 20th century history of … Cambodian dictator Pol Pot, Soviet Union strongman Joseph Stalin and Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Zedong [who] each killed millions of their own people.

Today’s students romanticize Che Guevara and Fidel Castro because they are clueless about their bloody careers. The Castro government for over a half-century was responsible for the murders of thousands of Cubans and Latin Americans in efforts to solidify Cuban “socialism” throughout Latin America.

When our schools and colleges do not teach unbiased economics and history, then millions of youth have no idea why the United States, Great Britain, Germany and Japan became wealthy and stable by embracing free-market capitalism and constitutional government. Few learn why naturally rich nations such as Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela — or entire regions such as Central America, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia — have traditionally lagged far behind due to years of destructive central planning, socialist economics and coerced communist government.

The handmaiden of failed socialist regimes has always been ignorance of the past and present. And that is never truer than among today’s American college-degreed (but otherwise economically and historically illiterate) youth.

What can be done to counter the propaganda of the Left which is winning so many with its false promises?

The offering is parceled so prettily: economic equality, guaranteed jobs, free health care, free education. But take off the wrapping, and the contents are poverty, dreariness, staleness,  hopelessness at best, agony and violent death at worst.

Here is our answer, taken almost verbatim from the article titled Tell Them (under Pages in our margin), first posted in mid October 2016, shortly before the election that fortunately brought Donald Trump to the presidency:

Why do millions of Americans “think” that economic equality is morally desirable?

Why are tens of millions content to live on state support without attempting to improve their standard of living by their own efforts?

Why do millions of university students in America admire intellectuals who hate America, such as Howard Zinn, Noam Chomsky, Edward Said, and make an icon out of the sadistic mass-murderer Che Guevara?

Why? Because they’ve been told to. They’ve been told that good people do and “think” these things. They want to be good. They believe what they’ve been taught.

The same answer applies to: Why Muslim women believe they must put up with being sexually mutilated and enslaved to men. Why multitudes the world over believe that there was a nation called Palestinians who were driven off their land by aggressive usurping Jews. Why Christians believe that a man who died long ago lives on as one part of a three-part god. Why Muslims and Christians imagine that when you are dead you are still alive in another place. Why Jews believe that their benign and omnipotent God has some unknowable but just purpose in having six million of them enslaved, starved, tortured and murdered by Nazis.

They believe these things because they were taught them. All this was drummed into them. They were raised to know that that is how it ought to be. 

Few if any ideas are easy to spread. To get an idea accepted by large numbers of people takes patience, persistence, conviction, tireless energy on the part of those who want to spread it. The idea need not make good sense, be reasonable, come with proofs that it will work as its advocates say it will. It doesn’t even have to appeal strongly to the emotions. It just needs to become what “everybody” accepts.

If you want your idea to prevail over others, this is what it takes. First the conviction that it is right and everyone should know it. Next, a decision to spread it. Then energy, persistence, patience – and eventually force.

What made Christianity catch on? It wasn’t the life-style – poor, austere, hard, humble. Even the promise of eternal life was not a reliable recommendation as anyone’s eternity could as easily be endless agony as endless bliss (it was and is a 50-50 tossup). The theology was so hard to make sense of that the Church itself to this day has not settled it. And the morality it demanded was against human nature. So what made it succeed? Energy, persistence, patience, indoctrination, force.

See how long it took. From the time St Paul invented “Jesus Christ” to the time the emperor of Rome (Constantine) accepted the new god and the doctrines that had accreted to him, thus making it fashionable to be Christian (just a few decades before force was applied and it became compulsory), nearly three hundred years had passed. Three hundred years of persistent, patient, energetic proselytizing. Even then, it was not securely implanted in the minds of the subjects. One Emperor – Julian – came along and actually tried to reverse the trend by suppressing Christianity and re-instating paganism. He didn’t have enough time. He died in battle, his successors went back to favoring Christianity, and the Emperor Theodosius decreed that Christianity was to be the religion of the state. With him the final phase of force arrived.

Marxist Communism took less time to get a real grip on the minds of multitudes. Means of communications had speeded up considerably between the 4th and the 19th centuries, but still it took half a century (if one arbitrarily dates it from the first publication of Marx’s Das Kapital in 1867 to the success of the Bolshevik revolution in 1917). And still the same method had to be employed: energetic, patient, persistent proselytizingMuch repetition was required. The fever of enthusiasm had to be caught by two generations of intellectuals before the infection became a pandemic. Then came force. 

The creed must become the norm. So pervasive must the doctrine be that anybody who does not subscribe to it wholeheartedly will appear egregious; an oddball, a rebel, a danger to everyone else and even to himself. The orthodoxy must be accepted without question as good, so anyone who opposes it is ipso facto a bad person.

By the late 20th century communications had become even faster, so the New Left, rising in 1968, could achieve the peaks of power in Europe in less than thirty years, and  in America in forty years. It started as a weak revolutionary movement which brought nothing good with it to Western Europe and America, but much that was bad: recreational drugs, AIDS, and terrorism as self-expression. New Leftists complained that they had too much freedom, too much choice, that tolerance of their politics was repressive. And this irrational case was widely accepted, even while, on the other side of the iron curtain, a young man burnt himself to death to protest against the lack of freedom, choice, and tolerance.

The New Left movement was ignorant, blind, puerile, unreasonable, sadistic – yet it became, it has become, the prevailing belief-system of the greater part of the Western world, and at present in almost all “free” countries the standard ideology (or religion) of the state, no matter what political party is in power. How?

The plan was made. The plan was put into execution. Gramsci supplied the phrase for the overall strategy: “The Long March through the Institutions”.   It wasn’t enough that the New Leftists should protest, should threaten and carry out violent attacks, should shout and write and display their slogans. They must take over the institutions of power, everyone of them: the smallest citizens’ groupings – such as library committees – were not too small. But none were too big. Town councils had to be infiltrated and eventually dominated; then newspapers, radio and TV channels; boards of education very importantly; the schools, the universities; the civil service; the law courts; a major political party; then the country’s legislative body, and eventually the pinnacles of power, prime ministerships, presidencies. Police forces and the military were formidable challenges. The tactic was first to discredit them and pressure them from outside by means of public opinion guided by the converted press; then to infiltrate them; finally bend them from within to conform to the doctrine and advance the cause.

Meanwhile books, films, articles, lessons, lectures, systems of reward, prizes must all promote the cause. It took decades, but it succeeded. Even in America now there have been at least two generations raised on New Left doctrine through schools, universities, books, films, the press, and TV.

How otherwise could the free Western world, whose policies and armies opposed the oppressing, enslaving Communist Eastern world, have been successfully converted to the very doctrine that oppressed, enslaved, tortured and mass murdered? It didn’t take reason. It didn’t take persuasion. The idea was no more innately and manifestly true and good than the idea of Christianity. But as in the case of spreading Christianity –  that weird, obscure, muddled, sorrowful, other-worldly new religion – it took conviction, decision, planning, energy, persistence, repetition, on the part of its missionaries. And finally force.

Only Leftist doctrine – government control of the economy, government provision of welfare, confiscatory and punitive taxation – is politically correct now in America. Collectivist thinking is the norm. Good people vote left. (When, in 2008, a Californian woman came upon a stall set up on a main street to canvass votes for the Republican presidential candidate John McCain, she called the police, and was astonished to learn that to solicit public support for the anti-collectivist Republican Party was not illegal.) Again, as with Christianity, the allegiance to the doctrine has little or nothing to do with its ideas. Most adherents could not explain what the ideas are. But they know that good people find them good, that good people vote for them. And that is all they need to know. Who doesn’t want to think of himself as a good person?

But the question of how did this become the case has not been fully answered. There is another aspect to the story. In order for one doctrine to succeed, it is necessary for other, counter doctrines to fail.

And the success of Leftism now – would it have happened if the conservative Right had been paying attention? Remember that old saying that “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance”? Well, the Right was not being vigilant. It didn’t bother to argue against political correctness. It disregarded the cynical shenanigans going on in the United Nations as if it were nothing but a zoo housing many clamorous beasts who were safely confined and could in no way threaten American life, liberty or happiness. If it was made to feel now and then the bullying, deceitful, sly, sometimes violent tactics of the Left, it shrugged them off. Conservatives went on being civil and preferring honesty when the world’s mood had changed to favoring lies and abuse. They put their confidence in the fact that America had been founded as the political embodiment of the idea of personal freedom; had demonstrated to the world – forever, they believed – that freedom brought prosperity and might and stunning innovation. They assumed that the rightness of individual liberty, the capitalist system, and government by the people had been established forever. So strong and free a country could afford to be tolerant. Let some wild, immature, misguided persons preach despotism (Communism, Socialism, Progressivism, Greenism, whatever), the system was strong enough to be hospitable to alien ideas, and to allow dissent or even rebellion. Tested, it would prove itself inviolable. It could not only withstand opposition, it could absorb it and dissolve it. No special effort was required. American history was on the side of those who would defend freedom and the Constitution. The separation of powers would protect them. The free press would dilute propaganda. Open enquiry in the academies would ensure that all points of view were argued and the most rational, the most humane, would persuade serious scholars. But they were wrong.

In their complacency, conservatives did not even notice the Long March. They could not mark its stations of success. Even now there are deluded Republicans who have not absorbed the fact that most Americans like collectivism; that they don’t object to electoral fraud; that they accept a failing economy; that many would rather live on government handouts than become rich; that being rich has become a morally bad thing; that it’s okay for foreign powers to develop weapons that can kill vast numbers of Americans; that the press does not report what is happening in the world but only what it wants to happen; that courts of law are willing to prefer foreign law to the Constitution; that it doesn’t matter if American representatives abroad are attacked and murdered; that freedom has become a term worthy only of contempt; that American history is a trail of shame; that a cruel religion – Islam – is being allowed to seep through the body politic, and is protected and advanced by the government itself.

But now millions of conservatives are waking up and are asking, how did this happen? It happened because people patiently, energetically, persistently planned it and made it happen.

What can we do about it, they ask themselves and each other.

What they have to do about it is change the minds of the people. First they must be sure that they want the free republic the founders established; that they want to maintain free markets; that they don’t want a welfare state; that they do want to preserve national defenses; that they want indoctrination in the schools to stop; that they want to forbid the application of foreign law; that they do not want to go on funding an institution – the UN – that consistently works against their interests. Then they must decide that their political philosophy is right, uniquely right, and must be implemented at any and all costs. Then they must start teaching it. With energy, persistence, patience and fiery enthusiasm. It will take time. But that is the only way. Teach, preach, argue, use every method that works. Give up the idea that it’s better to be gentlemanly than to sink to using the methods of the opposition; that if you do as they do you will have betrayed the very values that you are fighting for. So let them win? No! They have made the fight low and dirty. Get down in the dirt and fight it.

How badly does the conservative right want to win and hold on to power in America? How important is it to them that they should?

If it is as important to you, Conservatives, as it needs to be, tell the voters, tell the children that the free market is the only means of creating general prosperity, and why. Tell them that central planning of an economy cannot work, and why. Tell them why competition is good for everyone, producers and consumers alike.

Tell them what profit is and why it is essential for ensuring abundance.

Tell them that only where people are free can there be discovery and innovation, improvement in everyone’s daily life, better technology, the advance of civilization. Explain why. Show them the proofs of history.

Tell them the truth about life in the Third World. Not politically correct sentimental drivel, but the actual awful facts about life in most other countries.

Tell them why impartial judgment is the only means to justice; why all sane adult citizens must be treated equally by the law; why people must be judged by their actions, not their intentions or feelings.

Tell them why government should be kept small and its powers limited. Tell them what the essential tasks of government are: protection of the nation, of the individual, of liberty, of the rule of law itself. And why governments should not be allowed more power and money than it needs to fulfill its few essential functions.

Shout down the shouters. Tell Muslims what is wrong with their creed and why American secularism is better. Don’t allow them to build a protective wall around themselves to shut out criticism of their absurd and savage beliefs.

Tolerate only the tolerant and tolerable.

It will take time. Start now. Tell them.

 

Of lingerie and hijabs 4

The Left is now a political pantomime donkey. It has a Social Justice Warrior in the front and a Muslim in the back, and they  are starting to pull in opposite directions.

For one thing, the Left and its SJWs say that men can become women. Muslims say they can not.

AP reports:

Valentina Sampaio has become the first openly transgender model hired by Victoria’s Secret …

Here “she” is modeling their underwear

The Left also believes it is “liberating” for women to wear a hijab.

Daniel Greenfield writes at Front Page:

When Banana Republic faced a 3% decline in sales, it decided to go all the way back to the 7th century. Hoping to tap into the lucrative market of concealing bruises and strangulation marks, Banana Republic rolled out a line of hijabs for the discerning woman who knows better than to leave home without the permission of a male guardian.

While women in Iran were being beaten and imprisoned for taking off their hijabs, Banana Republic decided to celebrate the courageous spirit of those women who want to live as second class citizens.

But if the Gap brand thought that displaying some garments of female subjugation between its ugly purple purses and its eighteen-dollar scrunchies would win over Islamists, it had another think coming.

Modern lefties iconize hijabs without having the faintest idea of what they mean or what they’re for. All they know is that to properly display diversity, you need to add a woman in a hijab between the gay guy, the Black Lives Matter guy, and the militant #resistance member ready to storm Starbucks; even though a hijab is as much a symbol of human liberation as a case of female genital mutilation.

But since Banana Republic couldn’t figure out how to market female genital mutilation to sophisticated urban consumers, it had to settle for trying to sell them hijabs. A hijab, BR execs thought, is just a 72×26 shmata  [piece of cloth]. Our Vietnamese slave laborers can make one a minute before passing out from the toxic fumes. And we can sell them for 20 bucks while getting a diversity award from CAIR for our wokeness. …

But the plan was not a success.

Instead of being cheered from Algeria to Afghanistan, Banana Republic was accused of cultural appropriation and insensitivity. The failing retailer had made an obvious and tragic error. Their model may have had every lock of hair encompassed by the fashion forward follicular prison, but she was showing off her elbows in a short-sleeved shirt. What’s the point of locking up the hair after the elbows are already out there? Does Banana Republic, despite its name, understand nothing about Islam?

“There are guidelines to hijab outside of just covering hair,” the founder of Haute Hijab warned.

The guidelines of Islam cover women’s hair, elbows, sometimes faces and even one eye. The hijab is the most distinctive sign of subjugation, because hair is even more offensive than elbows.

The Islamic Republic of Iran’s first president, Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, warned that women’s exposed hair emits rays that drive men mad. It’s unknown if women’s elbows also emit rays, but Islam approves of women’s elbows no more than it approves of their hair.

And Banana Republic soon repented.

The model in the black rectangular hijab print and the short sleeves vanished from Banana Republic the way she had from the republics of Afghanistan, Iran and ISIS. The very woke company replaced her provocative elbows with a cropped shot in which she no longer has elbows, arms or hair.

Just the way Allah intended.

But Muslim critics pointed out that the model in the blue soft satin square hijab has an exposed neck. And Allah is no more fond of the sight of women’s necks than he is of their hair and their elbows. Meanwhile the model in the unconvincing leopard print hijab is not only showing her neck, but has the first two buttons of her shirt open. The only thing more offensive would be is if she were also driving. …

An American brand that claims to tap into the liberating power of fashion bet big on subjugation and discovered that no amount of subjugation is ever enough.

The question is where do the loyalties of the huge corporations which collude in the oppression of women lie? Is it with the women risking their lives to defy oppression or those who collude with it?

Banana Republic tried to collude with a theocracy of rape and discovered that no amount of erasing women is ever enough. And that’s a tough lesson for an American clothing retailer to absorb.

But when BR next relaunches its line of oppressive headgear, it’ll bring in CAIR advisers who will make sure that none of the models are showing any ankle, elbow, neck, or hair. And then the media will cheer. And there will be awards and an ad campaign. Because we all live in a banana republic now.

When Victoria’s Secret sells nothing but burkas, and Banana Republic has transgender models wearing nothing but lacy underwear and hijabs, we’ll believe that Islam and the Left can rule the world in amicable partnership.

Posted under Islam, Leftism, Muslims, Socialism by Jillian Becker on Friday, August 9, 2019

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Anarchism rising in the Socialist Republic of California 22

Many of the richest people in the world live in California. The “tech giants” of Silicon Valley have not only made billions of dollars for themselves, the wealth they have created has benefited billions of other people in their state, their country, the world.

Had they been living under socialism, they could not have become rich and could not have created wealth.

Yet almost to a man and woman they vote for their state to be governed by socialists.

So do most Californians.

Under the socialist state government and city councils, great cities – most notoriously Los Angeles and San Francisco – have become filthy stinking disease-ridden high-crime shitholes.

San Francisco in 2019

Productive citizens are heavily taxed to provide the means to support the unproductive street-dwellers; so thousands of tax-payers are leaving the state to escape from the government most of them voted for, while more and more vagabonds, drug-addicts, lunatics, illegal aliens and criminals pour in from everywhere.

You can see what the result must be. Only the rulers, led by Nicolás Maduro Gavin Newsom, cannot see it. Or perhaps it’s what they passionately desire.

Now the governing socialists, to make sure that new generations will continue to vote for a life-style characterized by filth, disease, ignorance, dependence, misery and death, are planning their indoctrination with ever more outrageous dogma.

Parents beware!

Dr. Susan Berry writes at Breitbart:

The California Education Department’s model Ethnic Studies Curriculum plans to teach children capitalism is a “system of power” and “oppression”, equal to “white supremacy”, “patriarchy”, and “racism”. 

The model curriculum … defines ethnic studies as “the interdisciplinary study of race, ethnicity, and indigeneity with an emphasis on experiences of people of color in the United States”. …

It relies on language the radical left now considers essential to achieve its political goals.

Get ready for spadesful of gobbledygook.

For example, the introduction of the document uses the term “hxrstory”, instead of “history”, in keeping with the gender ideology that states “womxn” must not be defined in terms of their relation to men.

According to the model curriculum, “Ethnic studies is xdisciplinary”, and its writers add:

Ethnic Studies is about people whose cultures, hxrstories, and social positionalities are forever changing and evolving. Thus, Ethnic Studies also examines borders, borderlands, mixtures, hybridities, nepantlas, double consciousness, and reconfigured articulations, even within and beyond the various names and categories associated with our identities. People do not fit neatly into boxes, and identity is complex.

Complex, eh? So it seems, and getting more so by the minute!

One of the recommended methods of teaching the Ethnic Studies model curriculum to K-12 students is through “democratizing the classroom”.

“Ethnic Studies educators democratize their classrooms by creating a learning environment where both students and teachers are equal active participants in the co-constructing knowledge,” the writers state, enabling “students to be recognized and valued as knowledge producers alongside their educators, while simultaneously placing an emphasis on the development of democratic values and collegiality.”

The writers of the Ethnic Studies model curriculum say their goal is to:

… equip all students with the skills and knowledge to think critically about the world around them and to tell their own stories, empower students to be engaged socially and politically, enable students to develop a deep appreciation for cultural diversity and inclusion, and aids in the eradication of bigotry, hate, and racism.

Williamson Evers, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, writes in an op-ed at the Wall Street Journal that the California document –

… includes faddish social-science lingo like “cis-heteropatriarchy” that may make sense to radical university professors and activists but doesn’t mean much to the regular folks who send their children to California’s public schools.

And –

It is difficult to comprehend the depth and breadth of the ideological bias and misrepresentations without reading the whole curriculum—something few will want to do.

Most of the role models are murderers and terrorists:

Teachers are encouraged to cite the biographies of “potentially significant figures” such as Angela Davis, Frantz Fanon and Bobby Seale. Convicted cop-killers Mumia Abu-Jamal and Assata Shakur are also on the list. Students are taught that the life of George Jackson matters “now more than ever”. Jackson, while in prison, became “a revolutionary warrior for Black liberation and prison reform”. The Latino section’s people of significance include Puerto Rican nationalists Oscar López Rivera, a member of a paramilitary group that carried out more than 130 bomb attacks, and Lolita Lebrón, who was convicted of attempted murder in a group assault that wounded five congressmen.

This goes to a hell deeper than Stalinism, Maoism, Castroism, Maduroism.

This is revolutionary anarchism. 

Is it likely or unlikely that the Democratic Party, if it were to gain full federal legislative and executive power with both houses of Congress and the presidency, would follow where California leads?

*

The proposed Californian curriculum is also blatantly and unashamedly anti-Semitic.

We summarize part of an article by Jonathan Tobin:

The model ethnic-studies curriculum by the Californian board of education proposes a course of study about Arabs that views the Palestinian war on Israel from the point of view of those who wish to destroy it. Jews are depicted as bloodthirsty villains victimizing Palestinians. The curriculum does not soft-pedal its bias against Jews. Israel is depicted as a colonial settler state whose creation was a “disaster”, and those who fight against it, including figures who are open about their anti-Semitism, such as Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), activist Linda Sarsour and the late academic Edward Said, as heroes and role models to be emulated. The curriculum is a product not merely of the successful efforts of a handful of influential anti-Israel academics, but of the “intersectional” – ie. racist – ideology of the Left that spawned them.

The most that the Left can hope for 7

… and its weird idea of what constitutes liberty.

Yes, of course, the Left hopes to be in power, everywhere and over all of us. It is a vast ambition, to organize the entire human “community” – or organize the entire human race into a “community”, locked under its power.

But why? Surely it has a vision it considers beautiful?

We sometimes go looking for explanations of why the Left opposes individual freedom, free speech, free market prosperity, private property, the US Constitution, objective impartial justice, racial color-blindness, the nation-state and its military defense capability, the family, the rules of the English language, historical monuments and records, civility, and  – coming at last to a word that could be the title of the whole list – happiness.

And from time to time we find an article that gives us a glimpse of  – not a rational argument as to why – but an exposition of what the Left wants which, discussing some of its hates and dreads, clarifies some of its wishes, even though it still leaves the question why unanswered.

Here’s one such article. The Leftist author, reviewing the work of fellow Leftists, is convinced that Marxism is gaining popularity. He  thinks that the financial crash of 2008 brought about “the intellectual rehabilitation of Marx”.

Outside academic precincts, his ideas have been slowly, if not wholly, exfoliated of their association with dictatorship and state-sponsored terror.

Have they indeed? If so they need to be foliated in those associations again as quickly as possible!

What makes him think so?

Recent, if only partial, exonerations have been issued by the Economist and the New York Times …

No surprise there.

And a host of new “journals and websites [that] share certain characteristics. They express a loathing of the war on terror, and disaffection with the precariousness and austerity of millennial life. The London riots in 2010 and the student protests as well as the Occupy protests in 2011-12 were formative moments of dissent that produced new political imaginaries [sic]. Academics, writers, bloggers and journalist-activists began to describe post-capitalist futures …

Above all, these “little magazines” reflected a growing sense of political possibility, a belief that the future wasn’t locked in the image of oligarchic power, but looked simultaneously darker (inequality and ecological collapse) and more hopeful (a recrudescent left). …  [T]he left began to crawl out from the sumps of melancholia.

We derive a certain amount of Schadenfreude from thinking of the Left as in “the sumps of melancholia”.

How does its new hopefulness express itself?

The blurb advertising the article reads: “Bhaskar Sunkara, founder of Jacobin, offers a manifesto for socialism that is thrillingly non-utopian.”

“Thrillingly non-utopian”? So a vision not of an ideally beautiful human world, yet “thrilling”?

An irresistible temptation to read on!

The article, titled The rise of millennial socialism, is by Gavin Jacobson (commissioning editor for the Leftist New Statesman).

He writes at the NewStatesmanAmerica:

Across the world, young activists are turning to old ideas. Why? …

[Bhaskar] Sunkara’s vision is thrillingly non-utopian. When describing the ultimate goal of socialism, he alludes to one of its most brilliant, if saturnine, definitions: “converting hysterical misery into ordinary unhappiness”.

Now that’s blunt! Not to be happy is the aim. Achieving “ordinary unhappiness” is the height of the socialist aspiration.

And the prospect is thrilling?

The author expatiates further:

The phrase was originally conceived by Freud, but was adapted by the political theorist Corey Robin in 2013. And while you wouldn’t put it on the side of a campaign bus, it gets to the heart of what a socialist economy might look like: helping people overcome, in Robin’s words, the “immense, and incredibly shitty, hassle of everyday life”.

There are more provocative theorists than Sunkara on the American millennial left, and more engaging historians, too. But few of them present the arguments against capitalism and for socialism better than he does. He writes with clarity and light-heartedness – something writers on the left hardly ever do well – and has shrewdly repurposed buzzwords from the liberal centre to make the case for the radical left. The usual socialist argot of justice, equality, class war, dialectics, revolution, the 99 per cent, and so on, is either absent or pared down. Instead, Sunkara emphasises how socialism enables greater choice, leaves markets intact, is about participation and democracy, is created through reform, and is ultimately about freedom – safe-words for the politically curious. In style and endeavour, then, if not in politics, Sunkara might be the heir to Michael Harrington, the founder of the Democratic Socialists of America in 1982, who did so much to promote socialism in the US. …

So this socialism “leaves markets intact”, “is created through reform” (ie. not through revolution – nothing new there, that brand of Leftism used to be called Fabianism) and is “ultimately about freedom”?

At which point we need Sunkara’s definition of freedom. It is not provided.

We are taken back to the familiar politics of the New Left:

Again, this draws on the work of Ralph Miliband, who argued in 1985 that “the exploitation, discrimination and oppression to which women, blacks and gays are subjected is also crucially shaped by the fact that they are workers located at a particular point of the production process and the social structure”.

The Left has not noticed that Europe is governed mostly by women and the men who are allowed to share the seats of power with them have “Feminist” hung round their necks. They have not noticed affirmative action; are unaware that Blacks are admitted to universities on lower academic grades than Whites and Asians. Or that we are forced every day of our lives now to be aware of homosexuality as if it were one of the most important issues in all our lives.

The New Left replaced (to use its own jargon) the Marxist “class analysis” with “race analysis” and – more recently – “gender analysis”.

But we discover here that “class analysis” has not been superseded, only enlarged to take in race and gender:

Prioritising politics over policies is why Sunkara favours Sanders over Elizabeth Warren, who has a plan for everything – “I have a plan for that!” has become her unofficial campaign slogan – but not an alternative politics. It isn’t enough to win the policy argument, nor is it enough to win elections. Today’s socialists speak of the need to win power – not for its own sake, but as the handmaiden of liberty – and that requires a mass movement based on class struggle.

So in that discussion, the Left wants power “not for its own sake” but because it will deliver liberty to women, blacks and gays who are at present – so it analyses – unfree.

No intention there of defining liberty. The author admits that in discussing Sunkara’s view he has told us who must be freed, but not what their freedom will consist of:

If Sunkara asks “Freedom for whom?” Aaron Bastani wants to know “who will benefit?” Specifically, who will benefit from what he calls the “Third Disruption”, when abundance and “extreme supply” in labour, energy, resources, health, and sustenance lead to a post-scarcity world? Just like information, these things “want to be free”, posing grave dangers for an economic system built and sustained by profit.

What? So the present system – capitalism – is  leading to all that “extreme supply”? To a post-scarcity world? Wonderful! Great! Odd that he expects even more of capitalism than we do ourselves. But then he seems to be saying that because there will be so much in the way of “labour” (does he means robots?), “energy” (from what?), “resources” (such as?), “health” (medical care, he presumably means), and “sustenance” (food”?) that they should be free to everybody, like the sands of the desert, the water of the ocean, the air we breathe. He or the writer he quotes expresses it badly,  saying that “these things ‘want to be free'” rather than that people want to have them without having to pay for them.

This desire on the part of these things to be had freely – or let’s be kind and say it the way it makes sense: the fact that there will be so much of these things that they will be freely obtainable by everyone without it costing them anything, will “pose grave dangers” for the capitalist free market system. He is implying that no one will be able to make money out of enterprises that employ people; or by selling coal, gas, oil, wind-power etc.; or by being doctors; or by growing or retailing food.

That is indeed a utopian vision! And that is what Bastani thinks of as liberty. You are free from having to work to earn money, because you do not have to pay for anything. Everything you need is “free”. So that’s what freedom means. In such a world, such a paradise, women, blacks and gays will no longer be “workers located at a particular point of the production process and the social structure”. They will be free when all things are free to them.

Ah, but in that case, women, blacks and gays must face a most disheartening truth – that they will never be free.

Women, blacks, gays – sorry, but there will never be a post-scarcity world.

But now confusion arises in the article. It seems that capitalism and the free market are not creating a post-scarcity world! We thought that view of our present system was too strange  coming from a Leftist.  No, no – he knows that capitalism is failing. Mark off the constantly repeated failures and disasters:

Bastani’s message is that climate change, resource scarcity, surplus populations, and technical unemployment, are syndromes of a dying socio-economic order.

So what will produce the post-scarcity world where everything and therefore everyone is free?

[T]echnological advances in robotics and AI, as well as renewable energies, gene editing, synthetic meats, cellular agricultures, and (eventually) asteroid mining, provide opportunities to achieve FALC [fully automated luxury communism]. This is when, under a realm of plenty, “labour and leisure blend into one another”, and where work is no longer a means of survival, but a “route to self-development… more akin to play”. …

Actually, Gavin Jacobson thinks Bastani may be a little too optimistic …

Bastani’s book isn’t a complete riposte, and load-bearing statements such as, “once the technical barriers are surmounted”, suggest his arguments require more faith from the readers than he might think. Nor does he contend with the fact that capitalism has so tightly bound our collective sense of meaning to work, that post-scarce societies might become more like JG Ballard’s dystopian leisure world in his novel Cocaine Nights than luxury communism.

… though not too unrealistic:

But in outlining the benefits of decarbonised economies, worker-owned businesses, people’s banks, planet taxes and universal basic services, Bastani is starting to put flesh on the spectre that might one day haunt Europe again.

Note the vocabulary: :”decarbonised economies” (think Green New Deal); “worker-owned businesses” (for the danger of which see our post Darkness descends on South Africa); “people’s banks” (loans without limit without interest, without repayment?) “planet taxes” (taxes paid to a world government?); “universal basic services” (everything free).

However, the author says, just hoping for such a utopian “post-scarcity” world has the power of dynamite. To hope is in itself progressive:

Both his [Bustani’s] and Sunkara’s books represent … “the dynamite of hope that blasts the dead load of ossified systems, institutions, customs, intellectual habits, and closed doctrines. The Left unites those dispersed and often hidden atoms whose movement is, in the last analysis, what we call progress”.

Progress towards “fully automated luxury communism”.

“Luxury communism” is the name of the new Marxist utopian vision.

It may be less believable, but it’s certainly less depressing than “ordinary unhappiness”.

Posted under communism, Feminism, Leftism, Marxism, Socialism, world government by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, June 18, 2019

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The road to Venezuela 2

The Democratic Party has been led leftwards and has become, in all but official name, the Democratic Socialist Party.

It wants to change America into a socialist state.

Why? Do those who plan to vote for it want this country to go the way of Venezuela? Or do they not believe that that’s the way it will go?

Why would it not?

Can what has happened in once-rich Venezuela be explained by anything but Socialism and its inevitably accompanying corruption?

In October 2018 Rafael Acevedo wrote at the website of the Mises Institute:

Almost 4 million people have left this country in recent years — a country that is ranked on the 2018 Misery Index as the most miserable country of the world. Hyperinflation is destroying the hope of millions of Venezuelans that for many reasons continue living there and suffering the misery that socialism has achieved. …

At the end of July 2018, the National Assembly estimated that each week six Venezuelan children die of starvation. Some of the most important universities in Venezuela made a survey in 2017 and in that time 87% of Venezuelan households were poor; 9 of 10 Venezuelans could not pay for food; 8.2 million Venezuelans could barely afford 2 meals each day — meals with low nutrition and little protein; 6 out of 10 Venezuelans have lost at least 11Kg (24 pounds) of their body weight because of the lack of food. This is set to worsen as the crisis continues.

Recently, [Dictator Nicolás Maduro] has incrementally raised the minimum wage 3,000%, removed 5 zeros from the currency value, and eliminated some exchange control rules. Nevertheless those policies are ineffective because these measures do nothing about the root causes of the nation’s misery. The real causes, of course, [are] the socialism and a narco-terrorist regime.

Nearly 90 percent of Venezuelans live in poverty.

In 2016 the cost of a dozen eggs in Venezuela was the equivalent of $150. That would now be considered cheap.

By October 2018 inflation was an estimated 80,000% and projected to hit 10,000,000% in 2019.

Figures from 2018, collected in 2019, show that a roll of toilet paper was priced at 2,600,000 bolivares, or 40 cents; a kilogram of carrots was 3,000,000 bolivares, or 46 cents; a wheelbarrow of cash was need to buy a loaf of bread; a kilogram of tomatoes cost 5,000,000 bolivares ($0.76).

A 2.4 kilogram chicken cost 14,600,000 bolivares ($2.22):

This pile of money was needed to buy a chicken for the pot in 2018. It costs even more now.

Socialism does not create wealth, it only consumes it. Socialism steals wealth from its owners and uses it up. For a while the gullible who voted for it enjoy getting a living, “free” education, “free” health care and whatnot from the government. A little later they starve, the hospitals cannot treat them, the schools close, and they are howling in the wilderness while those who led them there feast in palaces protected by armed guards.

In 2020 the choice for the American electorate is a simple one. Vote for continued prosperity and freedom, or a change to starvation and serfdom.

Posted under Socialism, Venezuela by Jillian Becker on Sunday, June 16, 2019

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Venezuela: the cost of socialism 7

Those (generally unreliable) opinion polls are saying that most Democrats – around 57% – now favor socialism over capitalism. It’s not implausible. Considering that children are indoctrinated by the public schools, most universities, TV, films, and the media to believe that socialism is the supreme and only political good, a mere 57% of Democrats seems an underestimation.

Daniel Mitchell, Libertarian, writes at Townhall Finance:

How do we measure the cost of Venezuelan socialism?

Is it people eating household pets?

Is it people dying of malnourishment?

Is it women selling their bodies?

Actually, it’s all of the above.

And there’s plenty of additional evidence. All of which shows that more socialism results in more misery.

Let’s review some examples.

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world. But with government running the industry, producing petroleum products has been a challenge. To put it mildly.

Venezuela — home to the world’s largest oil reserves — has started introducing in some areas to tackle extreme fuel shortages. For ordinary Venezuelans, it is a cruel joke without a punchline. A  driver recently died of a heart attack after waiting in line for days to fill his tank. …

Here’s another sign of Venezuela’s descent into third-world status.

The Center for Malaria Studies in Caracas is not immune to Venezuela’s economic crisis and is struggling to treat patients. … Scientists who would later work for this clinic contributed in 1961 to helping Venezuela become the first country to eradicate malaria. … Today the clinic is in a sorry state: yellowed microscopes, a dishwasher stained by purple chemicals, refrigerators corroded by rust. …According to the World Health Organization, Venezuela registered more than 400,000 malaria cases in 2017, making it one of the hardest-hit countries in the Americas. .. The true extent of the epidemic [could be] close to two million people affected. …

Reuters reports on how parts of Venezuela are descending into autarky and barter.

At the once-busy beach resort of Patanemo, tourism has evaporated … These days, its Caribbean shoreline flanked by forested hills receives a different type of visitor: people who walk 10 minutes from a nearby town carrying rice, plantains or bananas in hopes of exchanging them for the fishermen’s latest catch. With bank notes made useless by hyperinflation, and no easy access to the debit card terminals widely used to conduct transactions in urban areas, residents of Patanemo rely mainly on barter. It is just one of a growing number of rural towns slipping into isolation as Venezuela’s economy implodes amid a long-running political crisis. …In the mountains of the central state of Lara, residents of the town of Guarico this year found a different way of paying bills – coffee beans. Residents of the coffee-growing region now exchange roasted beans for anything from haircuts to spare parts for agricultural machinery. …

What can you say about a country that’s so poor that even criminals are suffering?

Venezuela’s crippling economic spiral is having a negative impact on an unlikely group in society: criminals, who are struggling to afford bullets, and unable to find things to steal as the country’s wealth declines rapidly. …While bullets are widely available on the black market, many muggers cannot afford the $1 price tag anymore, a criminal known as “Dog” told the news organization. …Another gangster, “El Negrito,” who leads a gang called Crazy Boys, has found it increasingly hard to support his wife and daughter with assaults. Firing a bullet is a luxury now, he said. … [The] homicide rate  … went down by nearly 10% last year— though Venezuela remains one of the most violent countries in the world. The non-profit which aggregates the data from morgues and media reports, partly attributes this decrease to the reduction in muggings — because there is nothing to steal. …

What a perfect symbol of socialism! People are so poor that there’s nothing left to steal.

In a postscript, the writer adds:

Venezuela in 1970 was ranked in the top 10 for economic liberty.

Will it take less or more than 50 years for the US to become as poor as Venezuela if the Democratic Socialists come to power in both houses of Congress and in the presidency?

Posted under communism, Leftism, Progressivism, Socialism, Venezuela by Jillian Becker on Monday, June 10, 2019

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Darkness descends on South Africa 3

In the early 1990s, the free world cheered as Russia threw off a Communist regime, and equally exultantly as South Africa fell under a Communist regime.

South Africa is mineral rich, and the world invests in its economy and buys what it has to sell. South Africa needs this to continue. So the Communist government, led at first by Nelson Mandela – the terrorist hailed as a hero by the free world – lets it do so. To the outer world South Africa is a thriving capitalist state.

But internally, it is a decaying Communist disaster.

Daniel Greenfield, the American journalist who knows more about South Africa than most South Africans do, writes at his website Sultan Knish:

Nearly 150 years after electricity came to South Africa, the country is in the dark. The blackouts can strike at any time and then lights, hot water and even major industries vanish into the darkness.

Storing perishable food in the fridge has become a gamble. The meat you buy today may be inedible tomorrow if the rolling blackout arrives and lasts long enough to destroy all the food you cooked.

With rolling blackouts that can last for as long as twelve hours, South Africans have grown used to eating by candlelight and heating water the old-fashioned way. Those who can afford it have been stocking up on generators. But the demand is so high that it can take a month to even obtain a generator.

It’s not just homes and small businesses. Factories and mines are struggling to maintain the country’s industrial base when power can vanish for the entire workday. Traffic lights run off the same power grid and when it goes into “load-shedding” mode, the roads become a snarled maze of honking cars.

South Africa is out of power. The load-shedding blackouts are a last-ditch effort to avert a national blackout that will send the entire country spiraling into a deeper and more enduring darkness.

At the center of the disaster is Eskom: South Africa’s state-owned power company … [which] had many scandals over the years, but its dysfunction reached epic proportions under the ANC. The African National Congress still carries a mythical luster in the United States due to the Mandela name, but it has thoroughly alienated both the country’s white population and its black middle class.

Key figures in the ANC, including Nelson Mandela, were members of South Africa’s Communist party. And under ANC rule, Eskom, the largest state-owned enterprise in South Africa, suffered massive thefts. Earlier this year, a government investigations unit tried to track down $9.6 billion in stolen Eskom funds.

And that may only be the tip of a melting iceberg. …

Eskom is dominated by the Union of Metalworkers which has its own political movement, the Socialist Revolutionary Workers’ Party, founded due to ANC proposals to break up Eskom. The SRWP is a Marxist-Leninist movement whose manifesto calls for abolishing private property ownership.

“We will nationalize the land and place it under the control of a worker state,” its national chair, Comrade Irwin Jim, the general secretary of the Union of Metalworkers, declared. “Under a Socialist government, no one will own land, therefore allowing for the worker-controlled state to decide how land is allocated, farmed and used.”  

Considering how well South Africa has done with state and worker control over electricity, giving the SRWP control over all the land would lead to famine and the deaths of millions.

South Africa’s power supply is in the hands of Marxists who are fighting the more moderate Marxists. The SRWP doesn’t care if Eskom’s debts bankrupt South Africa or its blackouts leave the country in the dark.

The ANC [government] knows that it if it doesn’t find a way to keep the power on, it will lose the middle class.

The Marxist SRWP is fighting to maintain Eskom’s failing coal plants while the ANC has proposed bringing in private companies to supply renewable energy. The power struggle puts South Africa in the unique position of being the only country where the Left is fighting against solar and wind power.

That’s because the comrades of the Union of Metalworkers fear losing control if solar power comes in.

The ANC tried to cope with power problems by building two huge coal plants. Medupi and Kusile instead became hugely expensive boondoggles that continually break down because of overuse, staff incompetence and poor planning. Eskom’s engineers and brass were unqualified ANC cronies brought in through affirmative action, and were incapable of managing a project of this scale. The power plants that were meant to provide for South Africa’s future are rated as being only 40% reliable.

While the SRWP is calling for massive investments in Eskom, there’s no more money left. A $5 billion bailout hasn’t helped. The only remaining hope for the failing socialist utility is huge loan from China.

The ANC is fighting to retain political power against even more radically Marxist movements, chiefly the  SRWP and the Economic Freedom Fighters, led by the firebrand Julius Malema who wants to kill all the Whites.

To cling on to power the government is dealing with the discontent of the tens of millions who are unemployed, ill housed and ill fed, in true Communist style with “a program of nationalization, redistribution and socialist terror”.

Daniel Greenfield concludes his article by pointing to the lesson the South Africa descent into darkness teaches:

Socialism promises everything and instead takes everything leaving you in the dark. Socialism doesn’t work. Like South Africa’s power plants, it’s only a matter of time until it breaks down.

Posted under Africa, Socialism, South Africa by Jillian Becker on Friday, June 7, 2019

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A dummy’s guide to the abuse, exploitation, and abolition of children 30

The Democratic Party is promoting abortion as the defining right of women. The enfranchised woman must have a right not to be forced into a woman’s “gender role” – which is to say, not to be a mother

The Left considers it a health right to have free contraception provided under insurance policies. Though male and female must be equal in sexual behavior, women can change their minds after intercourse and ruin the reputation of men through meetooism, an auxiliary right to special women’s justice which does away with due process

Democrats will probably not go as far as the mandatory, forced abortions of China. The one child policy there resulted in mass female infanticide. It is more important to abort boys in the “patriarchal” West. There is no need to feel compassion for the babies. Compassion should be kept for black murderers of white cops. 

Tucker Carlson said on his Fox News show (Monday May 14, 2019): “We have a political party that believes having children is a punishment.” It’s true. When Barack Obama was president, he said he didn’t want his daughters to be “punished with a baby”. Many “progressive” intellectuals, including spokesmen for the medical profession, argue for abortion at any stage of a pregnancy and even advocate infanticide. A movie actress asks women to adopt absolute chastity as a form of protest because some states are not allowing abortion at any stage of pregnancy on demand.

A  female Democrat in the House of Representatives, said: “There is a scientific consensus that the lives of children are going to be very difficult, and it does lead, I think, young people to have a legitimate question. Is it OK to still have children?” That same Democrat, referring to the same “scientific census” (which does not exist) believes that the world is coming to an end in 12 years from now. It would be so unfair to give birth to a child who will have less that a dozen years to live.

Such a laudably unselfish view, that. But not common on the Left. The view that abortion is the defining right of women is the politically correct orthodox Democratic position. Children are invaders who would enter the world through the womb, occupying a woman’s body without her permission. Even though she knows how the invader gets in there, and almost always opens the door herself, she is being exploited. The invader must be evicted.

Those children who are so impudent and far-right, so bigoted, xenophobic, undiverse, uninclusive and Trumpian as to get born despite all efforts to abort them – or if their mother in collusion with a Democratic doctor does not kill them when they actually arrive in the world – then they must be made unhappy.

If they are white, they must be made to feel bad about it. Democratic Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi – an exemplary anti-human – has said that she is proud of her grandson for saying that he wished he was brown like his friend.

If they are male, it is worse.  If they are male and white they are the guiltiest of the guilty and must be accused, abased, cut up, punished.

Boys should be changed into girls. Or at least a parody of girls. And why should not all girls be changed into boys? Or at least a parody of boys. Start the process when they’re 4 years old. (A British judge just overruled a school’s objection to a 4 year old being treated as a transgender.) They hold that “gender” is only a “social construct”.

So feed them on hormones. Mangle their sexual organs. Make them sterile. Make them wretched.

And since the curse of children is upon the nation, make use of them. Have them vote – for the Democrats. The party that knows it can rely on the votes of felons, illegal aliens, and lunatics, believes just as reasonably that it will get the votes of children.

There are many other uses for children too. The Left recommends that they be taught how to make their parents worried about “climate change”. (And to report the parents to the Totalitarian Authorities if they are obstinate?)

On the Mexican border, migrant men rent children and pretend to be part of families that are not theirs in order to enter the US.

Hamas, the terrorist organization passionately supported by two Congresswomen, uses children as living shields against Israel’s retaliatory bombs and guns. The Palestinians train children to be suicide bombers.

Of course (we hope) the Left will not go as far as Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, who made children kill and eat their own parents and then be footsoldiers and sex slaves.

Children can even take the initiative in leading campaigns that advance the agenda of the Left. A Swedish teenager named Greta Thunberg, 16, is leading a children’s crusade against the mythical curse of “man-made global warming”. She has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

So we can be optimistic and surmise that the Democrats will probably not make it illegal to have children.

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