Don't worry; despair.

Malcolm Pollack smooths our furrowed brows:
A friend of mine attended a political fundraiser the other day. In attendance were many “conservative” luminaries, and some prominent Republican candidates for the upcoming presidential election. Among those who spoke was a former Speaker of the House (and presidential candidate himself) [this was probably Newt Gingrich], who, according to my friend, struck a very somber note: he said that the battle for the American culture and political system was effectively over, and that the Left had won.

Recently I was invited to join a monthly discussion-group for the “Dissident Right”; it’s a convivial dinner-and-drinks affair at an “undisclosed location” in New York. The guest lecturer last month was a prominent conservative intellectual, and the author of several books. He gave a very engaging talk, but with a dispiriting message: there is simply no effective right-wing political opposition in America anymore, and no “critical mass” from which one can be expected to arise. Even as the ostensibly “conservative” GOP holds the upper hand in both houses of Congress, the nation moves faster and faster to the Left. And as others have pointed out: even if they wanted to, the Congress and the Judiciary simply cannot respond rapidly enough to the actions of an aggressive Executive — Congress because of the democratic limitations of a large legislative body, and the difficulty of assembling filibuster- and veto-proof majorities, while the Judiciary can initiate nothing at all on its own. Moreover, we are in such a late stage of this “progressive” disease that we are long past the point where a presidential victory, even by an actual conservative, can make any long-term difference to the morbid prognosis.

Furthermore, we are in the late stages of a kind of decline that is inherent in democracy itself, in which a gradual expansion of the franchise, culminating in universal suffrage, leads inexorably to short-sighted governance, the consumption of future assets for present-day expenses, and the general dissipation of a nation’s vigor. As Fitzjames Stephen wrote in 1874:

The substance of what I have to say to the disadvantage of the theory and practice of universal suffrage is that it tends to invert what I should have regarded as the true and natural relation between wisdom and folly. I think that wise and good men ought to rule those who are foolish and bad. To say that the sole function of the wise and good is to preach to their neighbors, and that everyone indiscriminately should be left to do what he likes, should be provided with a ratable share of the sovereign power in the shape of the vote, and that the result of this will be the direction of power by wisdom, seems to me the wildest romance that ever got possession of any considerable number of minds.

So, here we are, in a runaway train, with a foolish and angry mob at the controls. We have not the numbers to storm the engine. What to do? Neither Hanson nor Mac Donald offer any prescription.

The historically literate reactionary’s answer is: nothing. We can do nothing, other than to hope we survive the inevitable wreck, to learn from our mistakes, and perhaps to carry something forward...
Please click through and read Malcolm's short essay in its entirety, and click on his header for some other thoughts in this vein. And no, I am not morbid. Malcolm's title is ironic, as he observes elsewhere: "The autumn years are not without their comforts, for both a nation and a man." Work out, eat well, drink well, acquire skills, save money, love your family, worship God. Dysfunctional regimes which can't reproduce themselves will be replaced.

And to conclude this morning's postings, I think we can officially issue James Howard Kunstler his Reactionary/Dark Enlightenment card:
The basic fact of the matter is that the energy bonanza of the past 200-odd years produced a matrix of complex systems, as well as a hypertrophy in human population. These complex systems — banking, agri-biz, hop-scotching industrialization, global commerce, Eds & Meds, Happy Motoring, commercial aviation, suburbia — have all reached their limits to growth, and those limits are expressing themselves in growing global disorder and universal bankruptcy. Do the authors of The New York Times report think that the oil distribution situation is stable?

There were two terror bombings in Saudi Arabia the past two weeks. Did anyone notice the significance of that? Or that the May 29th incident was against a Shiite mosque, or that the Shia population of Saudi Arabia is concentrated in the eastern province of the kingdom where nearly all of the oil production is concentrated? (Or that the newly failed state of neighboring Yemen is about 40 percent Shiite?) Have any of the 23 genius-level reporters at The New York Times tried to calculate what it would mean to the humming global economy if Arabian oil came off the market for only a few weeks?

Paul Ehrlich was right, just a little off in his timing and in explicating with precision the unanticipated consequences of limitless growth. But isn’t it in the nature of things unanticipated that they generally are not?


August said…
If somebody like Newt says it is over, what he is really saying is that he doesn't want to risk his position to save us.

Recently I realized that, if I could get to the right people, I could get the financial guys to sacrifice big Ag. The debt monster needs more people in debt; people in their sixties hold most of the farmland, and Monsanto's products are already illegal in many nations. Remove their support in D.C. and then start getting folks back on the land.

More of the debt their stupid system runs on, and hopefully the type of food we all run better on.

It's going to fall anyway, but what I am talking about here is the will of men in power to do things that are drastically different which may make a difference.
but what I am talking about here is the will of men in power to do things that are drastically different which may make a difference.

I have thought about this as well. Political leadership has been separated from the martial elites, the cognitive elites and, finally, from the monied elites, contrary to any natural hierarchy I can imagine. For now, the elites curry favor with the political leadership, who do the real powers' bidding in any event as they always have and always will. At some point, surely a few elites will figure out that they can dispense with the political leadership, and save a ton of transaction costs. Then Jerry Jones won't have to worry about trying to fend off a craven Chris Christie pawing at him in his skybox.
Rev. Right said…
I blame the 19th amendment.
Porter said…
I think feudalism has a bright future as the resolute unresponsiveness of our political class to popular will creates increasing opportunities for power brokers within various levels and niches. Though, contra AG's prognosis, I see it being a more demand driven phenomenon, rather than one initiated top-down by elites. Yes there are certainly transaction and maintenance costs in purchasing and maintaining venal politicians. However, there are also substantial benefits that accrue to the Éminence grise. Perhaps the most historically compelling one being the tendency of disgruntled populations to vent wrath at puppets rather than those whose hands reside up their backs. A politician is not just your servant, he is your shield. And part of what you pay him for is the ability to arrive at the golfcourse in your Bentley unaccosted by the hoi polloi you have helped impoverish and dispossess. So I don't really see the monied elite grasping for naked power unless/until there is actual government service breakdown.
Steve Johnson said…
August said...

"If somebody like Newt says it is over, what he is really saying is that he doesn't want to risk his position to save us."

What else did he say? That the culture war is over, the left won but "we" can still fight for [Republican proposal of the week] or did he say that the culture war is over, the left won and it's time to withdraw from electoral politics in favor of other action?

The first one (which is almost certainly how he finished the talk) means that Newt was never opposed to the left's cultural program. How could he be? To oppose the left's cultural program involves knowing why it's a bad idea other than an instinctive revulsion - it requires knowledge of how evolution shaped men and women and different races. All of that is forbidden knowledge. To even know that stuff means you can never be a national politician because your instinctive reactions will be wrong and you will slip up - and any slip ups that show you have those forbidden thoughts are immediately national news. Newt rose to power and so has to be conscious that his role is the fake opposition. Now that's the kind of thing that you can hide and even if you do slip up it'll never be news.

When someone who leads the fake opposition says the other side has won in a particular area the act is "oh well, let's fight where we can and not give up on the system". It's actually a tactic to reduce opposition.

If he said the second, well then, that's a whole different story. That's the reactionary message.

My money is on the first interpretation being true.
Excellent comment, Steve. I'm going to ask Malcolm about that.
Bert said…
In what universe was Newt Gingrich ever on our side?
Malcolm Pollack said…
AG visited my site to ask this question. It turned out that my friend, who had mentioned this incident only in passing, had given me a badly mistaken impression of the context of the speaker's remarks -- which, as it turns out, were comments on American foreign, not domestic, policy, and so were not relevant to the topic of my own post. (I've now removed the paragraph in which I referred to them.)

I should not have been so careless as to rely, quite unnecessarily, upon hearsay, and I apologize for having created such a distraction in this thread.

Thank you Malcolm. I still think your post is right on all counts, and I think Steve Johnson's analysis is sound, in that Republicans are an unintentionally "false" opposition, keeping their sinecures and the donations flowing by agitating in a few areas where they have not been completely routed.
Bert said…
Just letting you know that I'm not going to continue coming to this blog until you start deleting the obvious trolling of our special friend.
Bernard Brandt said…
I would ask if anyone was noticing that there is little difference between Rod Dreher's "Benedict Option" and "going Galt" but a quick googling shows that at least a few see what is going on.

And I will remind the Anti-Gnostic that despair, even in these 'post-Christian' ages, is still a sin.

Thanks, though, for introducing me to the writings of Mr. Kunstler.

"Benedict Option", my aching backside. Maybe someone will introduce a "Cassiodorus Option". THAT would be worth doing.

The Holy Roman Empire is not coming back, so silly fantasies about antiquarian monks dutifully transcribing Greek and Latin Classics for posterity are a useless distraction.

You won't even know what hit you.
Bernard Brandt said…

Try reading some history before you come to your conclusions. Cassiodorus was directly responsible for the preservation and development of an educational system that made possible the mediaeval survival and the Renaissance restoration. His codification of the Trivium (Grammar, Dialectic, Rhetoric) and the Quadrivium (Arithmetic, Geometry, Astronomy, Music) made possible the literary and scientific basis of Western education for the next millenium.

I would think that at a time when our current 'educational' system is one which is leading us into a new Dark Ages, that some concern should be made about alternatives which have been tried and which have worked.

"You won't even know what hit you"? You have no idea what you are talking about. As I have said before, I live in the middle of the morass. What about you, Mr. Gated Community L.A. Lawyer?
Ah yes. Now I remember.

You voluntarily moved from a "whitebread beach town," so you have nobody but yourself to blame. Among the skill sets you'll need, I don't think the Trivium and Quadrivium are going to be a priority.
Bernard Brandt said…
The joke going around in L.A. after the 1992 Riots (other than of course, "Why can't we just get along?") was "Around these parts, the optimists are learning Japanese/Chinese/Korean, the pessimists are learning Spanish, and the realists are learning sharpshooting."

Yeah, I know the skill sets I need.

But the way I see it, we can either make history, or become history. I prefer the former. Taking some thought for the future is one way of making that choice.

And if you think it makes much difference where one lives in this Brave New World, then it is you, sir, who will not even know what hit you.
Bert said…
Little nice white boy gets to play with the darkies and pretend they don't want his cash.

Bernard Brandt said…

Shoo, troll, shoo.
Bert said…
Or else what exactly? You'll hit me with your scented pink down pillows?
Bernard Brandt said…
Abuse, for starters, you gorm-less, brain-less, bowel-less, ball-less excuse of a troll.

I’d call you an @$$hole or a c*nt, but those at least serve useful functions, which in my opinion you do not. The words “bitch” or “pussy” come to mind, but you don’t rate those either, as they denote a level of intelligence or honor which you lack. “Piece of shit” also presents itself, but it is far too substantial to denote the likes of you: besides, shit can at least become something useful, like manure. I doubt you’ve ever done anything useful in your so-called life at your mamma’s house. If you ever had a mamma.

So, shoo, you stinking, foul, nearly non-existent waft of flatulence, whose futile attempt to offend is blown away by the winds of a weary world. You aren’t even worth the wad of ass-wipe it would take to erase you.
Bert said…
If you wrote that unironically, then congratulations on making yourself look like even more of a moron.

And are you one of those types that really can't handle typing asshole and cunt?
Bernard Brandt said…
As to your last question, no. While I'm happy to tell you what you are not, blogger tends to censor certain words.

And do please continue to give me more information by posting more. I've only given my opinion of you. You've managed to commit libel per se. Do ask the Anti-Gnostic what that is.

In these parts, there's a bumper sticker: "Please keep honking. I need to reload."
Bernard - the frustration from our side is that your camp seems so deliberately obtuse:

1. conservatives--by which I mean the ones terrified of being seen outside the Overton window--insist on finding enemies to their right, a fatal tactic;
2. conservatives are bringing a knife, nay, a water pistol, to a gunfight;
3. conservatives are antiquarians, not that there's anything wrong with that, but it renders them impotent in the face of demographic facts on the ground.
Bernard Brandt said…
Dear Anti-Gnostic,

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. As with the subtext of the Monty Python skit, "I'm here for an argument", I much prefer reason to contradiction or abuse.

And yes, I share your frustration in most conservatives' obtuseness, divisiveness, ineffectuality and antiquarian bent. I believe, however, that you are mistaken in calling conservatives "my camp".

At present, I'm working my way through reading the entries in, and more to the point, the political texts cited in it. I am beginning to consider neo-reaction more consistent and fruitful than either conservatism or libertarianism. We shall see.

Under the circumstances then, it would appear that attacking potential allies is a vice practiced by others besides conservatives or progressives. I would suggest that you might reconsider its use.
Porter said…
At present, I'm working my way through reading the entries in

Let us know when you reach the point of uncovering which sect of 19th century agrarian communalists we can hang our miseries on.
Bernard Brandt said…
Oh, come now: that is a no-brainer, and does not require neo-reaction to give the answer to that one:

Try this, then, Porter:

While we can not hang our miseries on this, as far as I am concerned, this is the source of most miseries of the last century or so.