Tuesday, January 29, 2013


We are all rigorously coached in the mantra that imperialism is bad, monarchy is bad, democracy is what keeps the elite from ravishing our daughters and stealing the seed corn, the income of American colonists was taxed at an effective 10% rate, etc., and surely there are numerous examples. The Belgian empire used the Congo as a mass labor camp. The Spanish empire plundered, raped and slaughtered their way through an entire continent. The Mohammedan empire homogenized everything from North Africa to Persia. The neo-empire of the Soviet Union was an appalling, ungodly construct, as is the current US one. But perhaps there is a valid contrarian view, that Empire extends the benefits of international trade and the rule of law to what would otherwise be corrupt, violent tribal backwaters.

Archduke Otto von Habsburg, the last in succession to the Austro-Hungarian throne, died on the ironic date of July 4, 2011. His internment in the Capuchin Cloister included the following ritual.
(the Master of Ceremony knocked the door thrice)

Prior: Who desires entry?

MC: Otto of Austria; once Crown Prince of Austria-Hungary; Royal Prince of Hungary and Bohemia, of Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia, Lodomeria and Illyria; Grand Duke of Tuscany and Cracow; Duke of Lorraine, Salzburg, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola and the Bukowina; Grand Prince of Transylvania, Margrave of Moravia; Duke of Upper and Lower Silesia, of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, Guastalla, of Oświęcim and Zator, Teschen, Friaul, Dubrovnik and Zadar; Princely Count of Habsburg and Tyrol, of Kyburg, Gorizia and Gradisca; Prince of Trent and Brixen; Margrave of Upper and Lower Lusatia and Istria; Count of Hohenems, Feldkirch, Bregenz, Sonnenburg etc.; Lord of Trieste, Kotor and Windic March, Grand Voivod of the Voivodeship of Serbia etc. etc.

Prior: We do not know him.

(The MC knocks thrice)

Prior: Who desires entry?

MC: Dr. Otto von Habsburg, President and Honorary President of the Paneuropean Union, Member and quondam President of the European Parliament, honorary doctor of many universities, honorary citizen of many cities in Central Europe, member of numerous venerable academies and institutes, recipient of high civil and ecclesiastical honours, awards, and medals, which were given him in recognition of his decades-long struggle for the freedom of peoples for justice and right.

Prior: We do not know him.

(The MC knocks thrice)

Prior: Who desires entry?

MC: Otto, a mortal and sinful man.

Prior: Then let him come in.

All of which is to lay the groundwork for this August 2003 article on the Emperor Franz Joseph from, back when they used to post this sort of thing.

The politically correct media, not to mention history books, say that the Empire was the anachronistic relic of past ages. It represented all that democratic, socialist and egalitarian culture condemns: an institution whose roots were in the Roman Catholic tradition, and very aware of the cultural and religious complexity of Central Europe; the idea that we can live within institutions with no national identity; the view that the Emperor got his authority directly from God and for this reason his power was limited by well-defined moral rules; and finally, an order descending from the Middle Ages...

With World War I, the Jacobin spirit triumphed over Western society. President Wilson’s "project of a new American century" (as his modern heirs would define it) needed to normalize the Austrian exception. As Ralph Raico notes, "Wilson was a ‘progressive,’ a leader in the movement that advocated using the full power of government to create ‘real democracy’ at home. But Wilson’s horizons were much broader than the United States. Preaching the gospel of ‘making the world safe for democracy,’ he aimed to extend the progressive creed to the ends of the earth. More than Franklin Roosevelt himself, Woodrow Wilson is the patron saint of the ‘exporting democracy’ clique in America today."

Democratic propaganda put the three Central Empires (Austria-Hungary, Germany, and Turkey) in the same category of non-democratic regimes. However, Vienna was not the capital of a centralized, militaristic, and despotic system. Emperor Franz Joseph viewed himself as first among public servants. He well knew that the entire world was radically changing; there was no place for his ancient imperial institutions. Notwithstanding, he conceived his own life as a service to "my peoples" (as he always called all the people of the Empire) because the very existence of the Empire was in their interest. For centuries, Empire was a guarantee for many small nations which could have not survived otherwise – or at least would have found it much harder. It is not by chance that Jews lived much better in that Catholic Empire than in the neighbouring nation-states, whether Protestant or Orthodox. And when the old order disappeared and Vienna became only the capital of a small state in the Alps, that space was quickly occupied by the Nazi army and, after World War II, by Soviet imperialism. (Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn told the story of an arrogant Teddy Roosevelt calling on Franz Joseph and asking what possible point there could be to a monarch in the modern 20th century. "To protect my peoples from their governments," replied the Emperor.)

Per his wishes, the Archduke's heart is buried in Hungary.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Women in combat

The Last Psychiatrist, writing about the largest class of female senators in US history, actually has the best take.
I don't want to be cynical, but boy oh boy is it hard not to observe that at the very moment in our history when we have the most women in the Senate, Congress is perceived to be pathetic, bickering, easily manipulated and powerless, and I'll risk the blowback and say that those are all stereotypes of women. Easy, HuffPo, I know it's not causal, I am saying the reverse: that if some field keeps the trappings of power but loses actual power, women enter it in droves and men abandon it like the Roanoke Colony. Again we must ask the question: if power seeking men aren't running for Senate, where did they go? Meanwhile all the lobbyists and Wall Street bankers are men, isn't that odd? "Women aren't as corrupt or money hungry." Yes, that's been my experience with women as well.
Women, like this Army lieutenant colonel (the one on the right), are no longer restricted from combat occupations in the US military.

Now that Don't Ask-Don't Tell has been superseded by Never Shut Up, the US military, the last unabashedly straight, male, conservative institution, has finally succumbed and women can be the tip of the spear for the glorious Democrat Rainbow Warrior Army. Strongly masculine men, of course, will do what they've always done: drift away from the institution. For now, men can still hole up in the merc companies and Special Forces, but they're next in the the Gramscian march.

Now that the nuclear powers have so far forsworn the bloody, meatgrinder nation-state vs. nation-state wars of the 20th century, not much will change. The military is increasingly reliant on drone technology and, soon to come, remote-driven tanks. Professional pilots who apparently operate these toys can keep telling themselves that only they are qualified to use computer joysticks all they want. Do they realize how many baby-momma-daddy-child votes you can buy for the price of a single F/A-18 and the thousands of hours training the handsome white guy to fly it?

In the near future, defense contractors will start churning out drones (and the armed robots) like a Chinese firework factory. Recruiters will put up posters in Planned Parenthood, LGBTQ clubs, the barrio, wherever, tell them they're all 'airmen' (ahem, airpersons) and sit them down in front of the computer monitors, row upon row. Women and gays will get their cool uniforms and medals and big parades, but the affectation will be apparent. Prestige will naturally degrade, like the increasingly henny-penny and now extinct astronaut corps. Actually, the rot has already reached the top with the Petraeus-Broadwell-Kelley catfight.

Yep. It was a man's world.

The iron laws will not be broken. When you knock down the walls for women and gays, the straight males who were the only reason the institution was ever considered prestigious in the first place start heading for the exits. Politics, law, the Episcopal church, Broadway, even the American Kennel Club are shades of what they once were. Well no shit Sherlock.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tyler Cowen cuts to the chase

Will Latin America stay underpopulated for another century?
Think of how many people live in Asia, and how few, relatively speaking, live in Latin America.

Latin America has (mostly) beautiful weather, lots of natural resources, and attractive cultural amenities. Mock the living standard all you wish but even Bolivia has higher per capita income than the much better publicized “Asian tiger” Vietnam. The region simply isn’t that poor by global standards.

Crime is a problem but likely will fall, due to aging, better policing, and perhaps lead removal.

What does a Coasian bargain between parts of Asia and Latin America look like? Will many Chinese and Indians end up in Ecuador and Honduras?

I would bet no, but still I wonder. Often we overvalue the permanence of the status quo and the region has seen some major inward migrations in times past.
Now, silly me, I thought the threshold question would have been, do Central and South Americans think their countries are "under-populated" and need more Asian immigrants? I'd have thought Central and South Americans are the people whose opinions would matter most on this issue. But since American economists in suburban college towns are so smart, they’re already way ahead of those plodding Latinos and have answered it for them. How long are you Latinos who fought for your own independent governments going to loll about enjoying those abundant natural resources, great climate and rich Catholic culture when there are millions of Asians who could move in?

I bet this sort of presumption goes over real well in Central and South America when American economists like Paul Romer travel south and try to negotiate tax and regulatory-exempt zones for their wealthy tech-entrepeneur friends. (The Honduran Supreme Court recently struck down Romer's scheme, apparently possessed by the crazy idea that the people's sovereign can't just give away their territory.) Speaking of which, the last idealistic American who tried to establish a commercial utopia in the Southern Americas was William Walker, who was executed by a Honduran firing squad in 1860. Middle-aged academic economists from the US should be careful while they're traipsing around Central and South America with their bold visions for the future. Land disputes down there can get pretty complicated, and sometimes violent.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

NY Times declares no more environmental stories to report

Shuts down its environmental desk, via Lawrence Auster:
What is it—four years since the high tide of manmade global warmism, and four years since the fraud began to be exposed? Will any liberals have second thoughts about a belief system which periodically declares that our society or even the whole ecosystem is about to be destroyed by some horrible problem and that statist tyrannical wealth-destroying measures must be taken NOW to solve the problem and that anyone who questions the truth of the problem or the proffered solution is at best a mindless tool of evil forces?
Lawrence's take is a bit different than mine. I have said for some time that environmentalism is one of those causes that the Left is going to quietly back away from. Most of our 1+ million new Americans a year come here precisely because they don't want to hunt, fish or strap on a backpack. Also, pensions, disability checks and public schools won't pay for themselves, so we better crank up the bulldozers.

The Left appears to recognize its dilemma, hence the move away from difficult, hands-on stuff like land stewardship and wildlife management and on to vague, incorporeal notions like 'global warming.' It's tough and fascinating to figure out biodiversity and the appropriate balance between Man and Nature. But now that global warming isn't panning out into flooded cities, bankrupt ski resorts, Dust Bowl II, etc., the NY Times just can't think of any more environmental stories to report. Aren't there still rising ambient levels of mercury in fish, destruction of fauna in Africa, thermal inversions?

The last wild California condors had to be captured in 1987 just before they slipped into extinction, and after what must have been some intensive work by extremely dedicated and talented people, their numbers are high enough that they have since been re-introduced into the American Southwest. So how is the largest North American land bird doing these days, and how did we accomplish this? The Ochs-Sulzberger Family Trust and Carlos Slim don't seem to think that's the sort of thing that matters much.

Gun control in Japan

From Marginal Revolution. If you read Tyler's linked excerpt, it's pretty obvious that what works on the homogenous, Japanese island-nation wouldn't even get out of the gate here, as most of the commenters seem prepared to acknowledge. Then there's this:
And yes, it’s also a cultural issue. A culture that’s optimized for hierarchical decisionmaking, rule of law and conformity as opposed to being more diverse and anti-authoritarian is much more likely to sustain an effective ban on guns, at least until a major cultural shift happens in the younger generations. I doubt anything like that could be implemented in the USA, even if the SCOTUS were packed with liberal activists who disregarded the 2nd Amendment altogether. [Emphasis added].
“Rule of law” in the Anglosphere is a very different concept than in the sense it is being used here. Historically and not so long ago, the Japanese regarded their monarch as a deity. Rex lex is how they thought, and probably still think, about law. The fact that they replaced their god-king with a parliament is superficial. The idea of an unwritten common law is fairly incomprehensible to people from a civil law tradition.

In the English tradition, rule of law means lex rex. An armed populace follows rather naturally from this paradigm: every man a king and every home a castle. This attitude runs very deep in the American psyche, hence the efforts of our rulers on making a new people, sadly demonstrated by the above commenter's own ambiguity on this concept. Mental health and poverty are critical and very good issues to raise, but we are deeply and irrevocably divided over the solutions.

For my part, I own a gun not because I delude myself in the belief that I can overthrow a nuclear-armed government if necessary, but because I know our society has lots of crazy, violent people in it and the police are just there to zip up bodybags. But on the former point, I do want government actors, and even the democratic majority, thinking long and hard before doing anything really draconian. Like Jim Crow laws, and you can bet the many black and Jewish gun owners out there are thinking the same thing. I’m sure the Middle Eastern Christians would like to have more guns right now.

Obama is throwing a sop to his NYT/NPR demographic. I think the most the decorative Joe Biden will come up with is a ban on high-capacity magazines and maybe a prospective ban on ‘assault rifles.’ Congress might pass more rigorous background checks, but that wouldn't have prevented Newtown. Everybody knows once legislative debate starts gun sales head into the stratosphere (they’re already through the roof). For better or worse, that horse has left the barn.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The homosexual view

From Vox Popoli, comment at Jan. 8, 10:08 pm.
Actually, in our view the abnormality is in irrational discrimination imposed upon homosexuals and codified into federal and state codes. But we are fixing that abnormality state by state.

I can promise you that eventually, the true abnormality will be easily recognized: it will be seen in those that continue to irrationally denigrate homosexuals. You are on the wrong side of history, the wrong side of morality and the wrong side of ethics.

The abnormality is that homosexual behavior is unhygienic and infertile. Biology has a way of dealing with this even if you think there is no God.

No species can survive more than a very small minority engaging in homosexual behavior. It is not "normal" in any sense and there is an instinctive revulsion to homosexual acts in the vast majority of homo sapiens. Children are naturally repulsed by effeminate males and masculine females and have to be brainwashed out of it with "anti-bullying" laws. It's funny how the supposed rationalists always take a big detour around evolution when it's politically incorrect.

Recall too that from the time we let homosexuals out of the closet, it took about 15 years for them to spread a terminal venereal disease through their ranks. Now we deploy costly therapies to keep them alive, walking Petri dishes of antibiotic-resistant bugs. As the anti-retrovirals get ramped up, viruses will surely mutate in response.

To the plague-filled, childless end, this will be touted as the New Normal.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

"The War On Drugs"

Steve Sailer was kind enough to post a comment of mine from one of his recent threads:
It’s not that the War on Drugs creates criminals (other than as a marginal phenomenon). It’s that the War on Drugs puts the trade in the hands of criminals. If drugs were the root cause, college campuses would be filled with the same kinds of violent turf battles, gun fights, beheadings, etc. When was the last time anybody had to risk their life buying marijuana in a criminal ghetto?

The War on Drugs needs to be ended in order to deprive criminals of their funding. Criminals have very few sustainable talents outside of violence and intimidation. We’ve legalized gambling, enabled payday/pawn/title loans, and nobody’s getting kneecapped anymore. We’ve decriminalized alcohol and enacted sunshine laws for municipal government. (We also started handing out municipal contracts to “minorities” instead of guys whose last names end in vowels, but that’s another thread). What are all the guidos doing now? They’re on disability and telling their higher IQ offspring to go into real estate or outside sales, which is a hell of a lot better than beating up shopowners and hijacking trucks.

Steve's post has generated 169 comments so far but alas, no additional pageviews or comments on all the topics I find so intriguing here. Anyway, it's an impassioned discussion so I thought I'd list some of the points being made, pro and con.

1. Drug legalization is incompatible with the welfare state. Absolutely true. Get addicted and claw your way back through rehab on your own or your friends' or family's dime. Or die in the gutter; no amount of intervention in the world can keep nihilistic individuals afloat unless we are prepared to put them all in lockdown.

2. We don't have the same demographics we did when drug use was unregulated. The premise being that NAM hordes will lose all restraint. True, the demographics have changed, but drug prohibition is not keeping anybody who wants to use drugs from using drugs. Along the same lines, the prohibitionists fear that when drugs are legal, millions of people will abandon productive lives to become addicted zombies. I think it's a hobgoblin. People are already free to ruin their lives from alcohol use. Most don't.

3. The War on Drugs is actually a War on Thugs. This is a very good though purely utilitarian point. Sailer and others have done a good job pointing out that locking up violent young men for drug offenses has the salutary effect of keeping the mayhem off the streets where we really fear it and behind concrete prison walls where it belongs. Of course, this is an extruded and expensive process with loads of externalities that doesn't get at the root of a more serious problem.

4. Mentally unstable individuals should not use marijuana. Another good point. A correlation you don't see legalization advocates addressing is that a lot of violent people use marijuana.

5. There are drugs and there are drugs. I have used marijuana and psilocibe seleacanta (mushrooms) and enjoyed both. I have also had some bad experiences with marijuana. Never had the desire to use cocaine, heroin or any number of other drugs. Surely some objective research could be applied to get at the true cost-benefits and make some distinctions. Also, so far only one commenter has pointed out the huge amounts of legal, psychoactive Big Pharma drugs that Americans guzzle down (or are forcibly prescribed to adolescent males) with zero critical thinking.

UPDATE: Speaking of drug usage, Lance Armstrong got hammered hard for his use of illegal testosterone and doping to get a Tour de France title after battling cancer. Why isn't anybody asking whether we might want to try such regimens on cancer patients who aren't multi-millionaire cyclists?