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Really and truly, I did not expect the most promising developments in West-European politics to come from Italy. Who could predict that the strange government appointed in June 2018 – an uneasy alliance of nationalists under Matteo Salvini’s Lega and the populist-but-vague Five-Star Movement – would last as long or achieve as much as it has? Italy’s parliamentary regime is notoriously unstable, governments falling with unnerving regularity, and yet this strange hybrid has gone from strength to strength.

The globalists – notably the EU institutions and the various migrant NGOs, many supported by George Soros’ Open Societies Foundation – had adopted a criminal policy whereby the goal of their operations was not to reduce illegal immigration but to “solve” the problem by “rescuing” migrants at sea, even if they barely left the coast of North Africa, and breaking down Europe’s external and national borders.

Locations of so-called EU “rescue operations.”
Locations of so-called EU “rescue operations.”

The Italians, suffering from the crushing burden of supporting an endless wave of economically useless and often violent African migrants, rebelled against this. In fact, the decline in migration had already begun under the previous center-left government, which had grown increasingly frustrated with the NGOs. In July 2017, Interior Minister and “Lord of Spies” Marco Minniti began the crackdown on NGOs which, in conjunction with other efforts, led to a sharp decline in illegal immigration by the end of the year. In this sense, the successful crackdown on illegal immigration has been possible as part of a national consensus that the country could not cope and had to actually address the root of the problem.

Illegal immigrants arriving in Italy by sea from 2016 to 2018.
Illegal immigrants arriving in Italy by sea from 2016 to 2018.

The overwhelming majority of immigration to Western nations is occurring because our governments are willingly allowing this happen, permanently changing the population against the will of their own citizens and people.

Since coming to power as interior minister, Salvini has built on the previous government’s efforts: preventing any return to previous levels (the social-democrats had not been firm on this) and further reducing illegal immigration to negligible levels. For this, his efforts must be saluted.

Illegal immigrants arriving in Italy for the January-March 11 periods of each year.
Illegal immigrants arriving in Italy for the January-March 11 periods of each year.

Furthermore, Salvini has adopted a much more confrontational attitude than his predecessors. Whereas the center-left was always embarrassed to have to take the “heartless” measures necessary to enforce Italy’s immigration laws and stop the invasion, Salvini has made a media spectacle of every step, rubbing the media-political elite’s faces in his successes. His popularity has only grown as a result.

This certainly has not been easy for Salvini. The elites hate him just as elites across the West hate all Western nationalists. Salvini has furthermore innumerable enemies among the old and decadent ruling class in Europe. When Salvini suggested that he wants to “help Italians to make more children” rather than import Africans, Jean Asselborn, the baby-boomer foreign minister of Luxembourg – a glorified tax haven – was so enraged that he was reduced to shouting obscenities: “Merde alors !

Many Catholic Church officials have turned against Salvini, including the archbishop of Milan and the Catholic weekly Familia Cristiana (who, though claiming to be good Christians, apparently have no problem with Europe, the heartland of Christendom, becoming an Islamic land, as happened to the formerly Christian Roman Middle East and North Africa centuries ago).

Fittingly for the land which produced the poet-politician Gabriele d’Annunzio, Salvini has not been averse to mixing artistry with politics. One American magazine got worked up because he quoted the American poet Ezra Pound:

Or in Pound’s original American vernacular: “If a man isn’t willing to take some risk for his opinions, either his opinions are no good or he’s no good.” Is Pound not a staple of American civilization, still taught in high school English literature classes in the United States? Or is his name being erased from history, too painful to hear for the left, along with those of Robert E. Lee and, soon enough, Thomas Jefferson?

The courts have gone so far as to prosecute Salvini for enforcing immigration laws by leaving migrants “stranded” on a ship rather than let them land in Italian ports. Fortunately, thus far his parliamentary immunity has been preserved, thanks to the support of his Five-Star allies.

Nothing great can be accomplished in this world except by overcoming great opposition. As Salvini said recently: “Tanti nemici, tanto onore” (Many enemies, much honor).

How does Salvini do it?

We cannot underestimate the power of psychological energy. Salvini thrives on his people. Il Capitano is constantly touring Italy, throwing himself into the crowds, shaking hands, kissing babies and grandmothers, making promises, drawing from the Life-Force, getting the power and confidence needed to fight off the nation-wreckers. (See, on this, the numerous videos and pictures he uploads.) Salvini also often gets a remarkably positive response from the studio audiences of Italian TV shows.

Salvini also understands the power of dogs.

Salvini is frequently the subject of vicious attacks, but he has a thick skin. He frequently shares the attacks against him on social media and responds with comments like “I don’t stop smiling,” “what a nice lady,” or simply “un bacio” (a kiss). By doing this, Salvini shows he is unaffected by and above such petty attacks. More practically, he responded to a “Fuck Salvini” graffiti in Brussels with a call on his supporters to give the Eurocrats a drubbing by voting for him in the upcoming EU parliamentary elections. All this can sadly only contrast with President Donald Trump, who not only has failed to deliver many of his campaign promises (above all The Wall), but resorts to attacking former supporters like Ann Coulter who dare to hold him to account.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy, Ideology • Tags: European Right, Immigration, Italy 
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If there is one thing I like about French President Emmanuel Macron, it is his voluntarism. While his presidency necessarily embodies the incoherence and indecision of both the French people and oligarchy – hence the current suboptimal political equilibrium, recognized by all to be highly unsatisfying – Macron as a young globalist evidently has a rare passion and will in promoting his grand designs.

Macron recently wrote an op-ed, translated in the various Europeans and published in newspapers across the continent, making his case for a reformed European Union. The text is interesting for the practical proposals, the implausible promises, and the persuasive arguments against a certain petty-nationalism.

Macron is undeniably a smart guy. Granted, his discourse is notoriously vague, frequently resorting to the expression “en même temps” (at the same time), describing both sides of an issue without pinning himself down. He however has a good understanding of what works with globalism. The globalism of smart and/or hard-working people gathering in multinationals and institutions objectively works on its own terms, producing wealth and innovation (even if some are economically left behind by obsolescence or culturally alienated by immigration and/or Americanization).

On the other hand, Macron also has some idea of what doesn’t work in globalism and can’t help making the occasional politically-incorrect observation. Most productively, he has repeatedly called on black African women to breed less so as to reduce immigration to Europe. He has also pointed out that journalists, as pack animals, are too stupid to understand his “complex thoughts.” Therefore, he concludes sensibly enough, he is avoiding interviews with them.

There was also the recent case of Christophe Dettinger, “the Gypsy from Massy” (a town near Paris), the gilet-jaune who managed to push back several riot policemen fully equipped with armor, shields, and batons, using only his Fists of Righteousness, a moment immortalized in a viral video. Dettinger is in fact a Yenish, an apparently indigenous European nomadic group unrelated to Gypsies, but with a similar reputation for anti-social behavior and theft. He later released a video statement definding his actions before handing himself over to the police. Macron found Dettinger implausibly well-spoken:

The boxer, [in] the video which he made before turning himself in, he was briefed by a far-left lawyer. It’s obvious! This guy, he doesn’t speak like a Gypsy. He doesn’t speak like a Gypsy boxer.

So there you have it, Emmanuel Macron, ethnologue.

As a matter of fact, all top French politicians – while paying lip-service to a notionally colorblind republic of equal and interchangeable citizens – are very conscious of the often ugly ethnic realities of France today. Former prime minister and then-mayor of Évry Manuel Valls, an ardent Zionist, once complained of the number of Africans and Muslims around while walking through his city: “a fine image of the city of Évry. . . . Could you put me a few Whites, a few Whites [in English], a few Blancos?” François Hollande, a former Socialist president, has also made many statements recognizing the racial fragmentation and feelings in the country, even seeing the prospect of civil war and “partition” in the long run.

French politicians know that they shouldn’t make these statements in public and so usually these are off the record, but leak anyway.

Anyway, Macron is also relatively aware of what works and doesn’t work in the European Union. He acknowledges that the EU is too often indecisive and reduced to a “soulless market.” He opens his letter with candid admissions:

Never since the Second World War has Europe been so essential. Yet never has Europe been in such danger. Brexit stands as the symbol of that. It symbolizes the crisis of a Europe that has failed to respond to its peoples’ need for protection from the major shocks of the modern world.

There is that word: protection. Every community, every nation has a theodicy, an account for the existence of evil in the world. In the case of French politics, what is frequently lamented is the lack of protection for citizens in the face of globalization. Concretely, Macron is making the case for more “reciprocity” and protectionism in European trade policy, rather than the current naïve position of unilateral openness and ‘neutral’ rule-following in the face of more self-interested partners:

We need to reform our competition policy and reshape our trade policy, penalizing or banning businesses that compromise our strategic interests and fundamental values such as environmental standards, data protection, and fair payment of taxes; and the adoption of a European preference in strategic industries and our public procurement, as our American and Chinese competitors do.

Personally I find all these measures quite reasonable: trade is only a means towards the kind of society you want (determined by your values) and should not compromise your sovereignty, that is to say your agency. Then again, I’m French. With the traditionally free-trading United Kingdom on the way out, and a recent protectionist turn among German big business, the EU may well turn against free trade or at least take a much more qualified position.

There is evidence that Macron has been reading Steve Sailer’s arguments in favor of “continentalism.” In order to protect and defend the interests of one’s citizens, you need borders, but Macron argues that these should be continental rather than national, on the grounds of Europe’s shared race values and civilization:

A market is useful, but it should not detract from the need for borders to protect and values that unite. Nationalists are misguided when they claim to defend our identity by withdrawing from the EU, because it is European civilization that unites, frees and protects us.

Other than European protectionism, a long-standing French demand pioneered by such intellectuals as Emmanuel Todd, Macron’s letter is pretty thin on specifics. He touts the EU’s accomplishments and potential in the areas of peace, prosperity (“How would we resist the crises of financial capitalism without the euro, which is a force for the entire EU?” . . . right), financing of local infrastructure (various redistributive “pork” projects), and standing up to tech giants and foreign powers.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Alt Right, Emmanuel Macron, EU, France, Immigration 
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Inspired by an excellent recent post by Anatoly Karlin, I’d like to add my two cents on the controversial topic of race in the ancient world. This is a sorely under-covered issue which deserves entire PhD theses dedicated to it. For now, a few Internet articles will have to do.

I would argue that HBD is a lot less obviously linked with development outcomes in the premodern world than in the modern world, at least among Eurasians. All the major Eurasian races/regions (Europeans, Middle-Easterners, Indians, Chinese) have been cultural or technological leaders at least in some fields during some periods. The same cannot be said for Sub-Saharan Africans (despite contact with Europe, the Middle East, and even India), Australian Aborigines, or Amerindians (although to be fair to Amerindians, they had far less time, a smaller population base, and were isolated, and still created basic civilizations).

Genetically-influenced intellectual ability and temperament are a major factor in civilizational development (chimps do not build pyramids, you may have noticed), but there are obviously many other ones too. The most obvious would be climate, population density, and communications. Hence, it is natural that civilizations would first emerge in fertile river basins which could support large populations and around seas (like the Mediterranean) where sharing ideas and technologies between populations was easy. It seems that “European Miracle” of modernization occurred from the late Middle Ages onwards thanks to a critical mass of intellegent interconnected populations being reached, then allowing for an exponential growth in communications, literacy, urbanization, and technology.

People assume that, because Middle-Easterners or Indians were more advanced than Europeans 5000 years ago, this means there can be no genetic influence on civilizational development, there are no in-born propensities for the intelligence and abstract thinking necessary for civilization. In the same way, northern Europeans’ barbarism and backwardness relative to Greece and Rome in ancient times is taken as evidence that northern Europeans’ superior performance in modern times cannot have a (partly) genetic basis.

Without getting into the controversial question of the alleged Nordic stock of ancient civilization-builders (which I am not invested in either way), I would argue that the discrepancy between ancient and modern Middle-Easterner achievement is easy to explain. The fact is that ancient civilizations generally did not require a very high degree of social trust or intelligence to achieve: peasants need to be minimally diligent enough to work the land, a small military group must be united enough to enforce the God-King’s rule over the peasants, and you need some scribes and bureaucrats to record your accomplishments and build some monuments. That’s about it. Iraqis evidently were intelligent and trusting enough to do this 5000 years ago.

Under Saddam Hussein, Iraqis were still able to sustain a reasonably-functional dictatorial regime capable of (brutally if necessary) maintaining civil peace and building great works. However, in modern times the differences in social outcomes and well-being between, say, Sweden and Iraq have been absolutely enormous. HBDers are not surprised at this, given that the differences in human differences between Sweden) (average IQ circa 100, until-recently homogeneous Nordic country) and Iraq (average IQ circa 87, divided into three mutually hostile ethno-religious groups and various clans). It takes a lot less social trust and intelligence to maintain an impoverished dictatorship than it does a wealthy social democracy. The same can be said concerning the trust and intelligence necessary to maintain an authoritarian agricultural society as opposed to creating a technologically modern republican society.

(I in no way deny, by the way, that Iraq’s performance has been catastrophically worsened below its potential due to the Americans’ and their allies’ criminal military interventions in Iraq. However, even without this war, it seems exceedingly unlikely that Iraq’s performance would have come anywhere near Sweden’s. What’s more, the point is also that Iraq’s poor human capital and ethno-religious divisions meant the country was particularly susceptible to the dictatorship of some clan and to ethno-religious civil war, whether fomented by hostile outsiders or not.)

It’s possible that the ancients (whether Greek or Middle-Eastern) were more gifted than are the modern inhabitants of these regions (Darwin certainly took this view concerning the ancient Greeks). Dysgenics is a very real possibility. Genetic evidence has shown that Egypt has grown less genetically Caucasian and blacker over the millennia, while the systematization of cousin marriage under Islam has done massive damage all the way from Morocco to Pakistan. Happily, Muslims themselves (as in Morocco, 15% cousin marriage rate) are increasingly aware of congenital diseases they are inflicting upon their children through inbreeding.

Amerindians, like Middle-Easterners, evidently also had the ability to build an ancient civilization. Sub-Saharan Africans, despite contact with others and being around the longest, have virtually never done so. Northern Europeans had the ability but many lived in an extremely hostile (cold) environment with a corresponding low population density and poor communications (land routes) with southern Europe. This hypothesis – of harsh climate impeding development and maintaining barbarism – is the typical argument one finds ancient Mediterranean authors (Herodotus, Aristotle . . .) explaining northern Europe’s underdevelopment and barbarism.

Northern Europe’s case also fits quite well with some HBD models: a people operating in an environment so harsh that it most selects for certain traits (trust and adherence-to-values especially, but also intelligence), while also retarding civilizational development. No contradiction there.

While Europe only achieved a decisive lead in material civilization in the late Middle Ages, Ricardo Duchesne has argued that Europeans’ (Greeks, Romans, Modern Europeans) political, scientific, and philosophical achievements were peerless long before that. While acknowledging the undeniable and often impressive achievements of India, China, or the early Islamic World, there seem to be little-to-no equivalents to the Western practice of civic politics (the Greek polis, the Roman Republic, requiring a rare adherence to abstract legal principles, reciprocity, and civic virtue) and the rationalist Western philosophy (especially that of the Greeks). In modern times of course, Western science and philosophy have undeniably been peerless in their advances and sophistication.

 
• Category: History, Science • Tags: Ancient Genetics, Civilization, Egypt, Hbd 
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The French Jewish intellectual Alain Finkielkraut was recently profusely insulted by yellow-vests on the margins of a demonstration. This attack has been widely-portrayed as anti-Semitic, even though the yellow-vests in question explicitly attacked Finkielkraut as a Zionist. As Damien Viguier, the anti-Zionist intellectual Alain Soral’s lawyer, observed:

Alain Finkielkraut was called “a dirty Zionist shit (a Zionist two times again and “shit” perhaps three times more), a “fascist,” a “racist (two times), and “hateful.” He was asked to leave the demonstration in direct times: “get out of here” (twice), “piss off,” “go back home to Israel!” I can see in all this insults, or defamatory comments, I would even grant a light violence, but I find no trace of a discriminatory motivation. This shows well that the words “anti-Semite” and “anti-Semitic” are used in an absolutely arbitrary manner.

It is true that “Zionist” is often used as a euphemism for “Jew.” But it is also true that many anti-Zionists are happy to befriend genuinely anti-Zionist Jews such as Gilad Atzmon (himself an associate of Soral’s). Finkielkraut was likely attacked for his values rather than his ethnicity.

This subtlety did not prevent the incident from triggering a veritable pro-Semitic moral panic across the entire politico-media class. The media lamented the “anti-Semitic” attack on Finkielkraut and he was comforted by politicians from across the political spectrum, from the far-left to the far-right, including the bulk of prominent nationalist and identitarian figures.

Much of the foreign press (the London Times, The Jerusalem Post, the Jewish Telegraph Agency . . .) misrepresented things further, claiming that Finkielkraut had been called a “dirty Jew.” This is a genuine example of fake news.

Then a Jewish cemetery in the Alsatian village of Quatzenheim was desecrated, with over 90 tombstones being sprayed with with swastikas and anti-Semitic slogans. One tombstone was sprayed with the words: “Elsassisches Schwarzen Wolfe,” meaning “Alsatian Black Wolves,” an Alsatian nationalist group which has been inactive since 1981 . . . Of course, a hate hoax cannot be excluded: one thinks of the recent Jussie Smollett debacle or the Israeli-American who instigated 2000 supposed anti-Semitic bomb and shooter threats over the years.

For those whom anecdotal evidence was not sufficient, the regime also trotted out the usual “statistics” about, seemingly released every year of every decade, showing a massive increase in “anti-Semitic” acts. I will only say that such statistics are dubious in general, repetitive, and obviously ethnically and politically convenient. Grand old man Jean-Marie Le Pen commented:

There is no anti-Semitism in France which would justify a mobilization of public opinion. . . . Incidentally, we’re given a figure of a 74% increase in [anti-Semitic] attacks. Compared to what? I ask that we have the list of all these attacks committed against the Jews, in such a way that we can actually tell the difference between a graffiti, a murder, a telephone call, or a schoolyard scuffle. It is true that radical Islamism is extrapolating in a sense the Israeli-Arab conflict into France. It is much more a matter of anti-Zionism than anti-Semitism.

Regardless of whether the Quatzenheim incident is authentic, and it could well be, this event immediately prompted a solemn visit by the President of the Republic himself, Emmanuel Macron. This was followed by a national call to demonstrate against anti-Semitism, initiated by the Socialist Party but with virtually the entire political class following suite.

The response of both of the indigenous French people and the Africans/Muslims was lackluster however. According to the official media, some 20,000 people demonstrated in Paris and negligible amounts in the rest of the country. Actually, as the 20,000 figure was provided by the Socialist Party itself, we can be sure that this is an overstatement.

Serge Klarsfeld, one of the leading lights of the highly-profitable local holocaust industry, could not conceal his disappointment, telling the top journalist Jean-Pierre Elkabbach (a fellow Jew[1]) on television:

The masses were not there. The crowd was not there. The French on the whole were not there. There were demonstrations, but I was there, I was there with my entire family and I saw a lot of familiar faces. But the crowd did not come, and which is indignant, should have come. . . . In Lyon there were 1500 or 2000 people. That is not a lot for a big city like Lyon. The crowd was absent and those who were not Jewish were generally absent!

This is in stark contrast with the similar 1990 Carpentras Affair, during which a Jewish cemetery was also desecrated. The pro-Semitic demonstrators following this incident numbered over 200,000 in Paris alone. The event was skillfully exploited by the Socialist President François Mitterrand and by the politico-media class in general by abusively linking this event to Jean-Marie Le Pen’s rapidly-rising Front National (FN). This contributed to making the FN unhandshakeworthy and to preventing any alliance between Le Pen’s nationalists and the mainstream conservatives, which would have spelled doom for the Left. It was later shown that the FN had nothing to do with the incident, which had apparently been instigated by a handful of neonazis with no links to the party.

People should generally speculate less about the authenticity of an event (e.g. 9/11, the Reichstag Fire), which is often difficult to prove one way or the other, than on whether the event has been used as a pretext by the ruling elite to do something questionable or disproportionate (often something which it had been hankering to do for a long time), which is typically quite easy to demonstrate.

This time, as Klarsfeld complains, the gentiles were not so interested in these theatrics. However, the event is having significant political and legal effects. The Macron regime is exploiting the incident to implement measures which have long been demanded by the CRIF (Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France), the country’s powerful official Jewish lobby. Macron himself appeared before the (very conveniently-timed, as it happens) CRIF annual dinner, where the crème de la crème of the French political class regularly appear, in a solemn ritual of solidarity and genuflection before the Lobby-That-Doesn’t-Exist.

 
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The Cuban Revolutionary Leadership: White Bolshevism (source)
The Cuban Revolutionary Leadership: White Bolshevism (source)

During some recent travels, I came across a copy of Lonely Planet: Cuba. The authors, who clearly sympathize with the country’s communist regime, nonetheless note the following:

While there are no ghettos or gangs in Cuba’s larger cities, a quick tally of the roaming jineteros/as [petty criminals] in Vedado and Habana Vieja will reveal a far higher proportion of black participants. On the other side of the coin, over 90% of Cuban exiles are of white descent and of the victorious rebel army that took control of the government in 1959 only a handful (Juan Almeida being the most obvious example) were of mixed heritage. (Lonely Planet, p. 57)

Cuba then fulfills the usual pattern for Latin America, with predominantly-white elites fighting among themselves to determine the country’s direction, with the black, Amerindian, and/or mixed-race majority remaining relatively passive historical actors. (There are obviously major exceptions to this pattern: black rule in Haiti, Mestizo rule in Venezuela, and Amerindian rule in Bolivia.) The Cuban case is striking in that the usual racial disparities have persisted despite six decades of radically egalitarian communist socio-economic policies.

If the charges of “Jewish Bolshevism” had some credence in Europe and North America (as Winston Churchill and Yuri Slezkine have observed), we can speak of “White Bolshevism” in communist Cuba. In the case of the Argentine Ernesto “Che” Guevara, right-wingers have long enjoyed pointing out the left-wing icon’s racist sentiments. During his youth:

The blacks, those magnificent examples of the African race who have maintained their racial purity thanks to their lack of an affinity with bathing, have seen their territory invaded by a new kind of slave: the Portuguese. . . . The black is indolent and a dreamer; spending his meager wage on frivolity or drink; the European has a tradition of work and saving, which has pursued him as far as this corner of America and drives him to advance himself, even independently of his own individual aspirations.

After the 1959 revolution:

We’re going to do for blacks exactly what blacks did for the revolution. By which I mean: nothing.

Cuba has the same racial disparities that exist elsewhere. The government is overwhelmingly made up of Mediterranean and Amerindianized whites, with a few token blacks and mulattoes. The National Football Team by contrast is overwhelmingly made up of blacks and mulattoes, with a few token whites.

The Cuban Politburo (2016)
The Cuban Politburo (2016)
The Cuban National Football Team
The Cuban National Football Team

(By way of comparison, consider the French National Football Team – actually less black-dominated than it was in previous years – and Emmanuel Macron’s original government line-up.)

The example of communist Cuba seems to me to be a good case-study of the capabilities and limitations of authoritarian governments. The regime may have failed to achieve racial equality but it is not without other achievements.

In considering any government’s performance, we should bear in mind their human capital and regional context. Cuba’s actual racial composition is difficult to determine. According to official statistics, the country’s white and black shares have declined since 1981, while the mixed share has grown:

According to the United Nations’s 1956 Demographic Yearbook (p. 260), whites then made up 72.8% of the population, mixed-race 14.7%, and blacks 12.4%. The trends may be generally accurate: whites declining due to emigration, both whites and blacks declining due to interracial coupling, and perhaps a decline in people identifying as black. I am not sure however if Cubans’ idea of “white” is the same as in Europe or North America. According to my Google Images search (by no means a reliable source), Cubans are mostly people of color. Can anyone who has visited Cuba give a rough estimate of the people’s apparent racial breakdown? Do two thirds of people really look like Spaniards?

One advantage of the Cuban police state and command economy is that the country is remarkably peaceful by Latin American standards. The homicide rate stands at 5 per 100,000 people, just under the U.S. figure, and ten times less than Honduras, Venezuela, or Jamaica. Tourists typically feel much safer wandering city streets in Cuba than elsewhere in Latin America.

Leftists have long praised the Cuban government’s emphasis on healthcare, education, and the fight against poverty. Both Cubans’ infant mortality rate (4.5 per 1,000 births) and life expectancy (79.1 years) are slightly better than Americans’. My Lonely Planet guide also praised the countries’ government-run Casas de Cultura and strong performance in sports (Cuba finished fifth in the 1992 Summer Olympics with 31 medals and eleventh in 2004 with 27 medals). (I do not know if Cuba’s sporting success has been to due to doping and/or systematic training programs, communist regimes are prone to both.)

As Anatoly Karlin has observed Cuba is “the world’s only ‘sustainable’ country, combining high human development with a low ecological footprint.” He also notes that the country already had a fairly high development level prior to the revolution and has since fallen behind economically. From anecdotal evidence, it seems that getting by economically is quite difficult in Cuba and one has to “hustle” constantly in order to get the necessities of life. Nonetheless, this doesn’t seem to have harmed the Cubans’ health: they have been spared the cars, sedentary lifestyle, and fatty foods that have led to an explosion in obesity and overweightness across the rest of the world, including the West.

There is no media freedom or political pluralism in Cuba. This is clearly a factor for political stability and the steady adherence to communist values. Anyone too critical is liable to be jailed or worse. However, my impression is that Cuba never went through a genuinely Bolshevik revolutionary phase, with the slaughter of the intelligentsia or the starving the peasants, characteristic of communism in much of eastern Europe and Asia. The Castros, for all their faults, do not seem to have hated their own people.

 
• Category: Ideology, Race/Ethnicity • Tags: Blacks, Communism, Cuba 
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The travails of French President Emmanuel Macron reflect the contradictions of the system he represents: namely late-stage managerial, social-democratic and globalist capitalism. In a consumer democracy, everyone is entitled to infinity stuff. That is how it works.

I am not sure if you recall, but we fought World War II based on the simple proposition that every featherless biped is equal. The fellows who died on the beaches of Normandy or in the Résistance may not have thought of it exactly this way, but that’s what we’ve retroactively decided that war was about. If all featherless bipeds are equal, it follows that public policy is dedicated to the individual comfort and desires of every featherless biped and, therefore, every featherless biped is entitled to a middle-class income enabling them to own a nice little house in the suburbs, a car (necessary given said suburban dwelling), and all the familial amenities. I may think this is unadulterated Satanism, as Gandhi pointed out, but that’s the system we have.

Macron, like other social-democratic leaders, has to deliver on these promises. The trouble with human desire is that it is bottomless. The more you have the more you want. (Conversely, human beings can gradually adjust to just about any hardship if they are convinced that it is necessary.) Consumer capitalism is a system in which individual citizens, business leaders, and indeed “thought-leaders” are all committed to belly-chasing, to endlessly refilling the proverbial jar of the Danaids as the highest end, an end-in-itself.

Besides, Macron is committed to a Eurocratic, globalist, and technologically-progressive economic system which – even if it increases economic efficiency overall – will necessarily destroy the jobs or depress the wages of increasingly-obsolete (yes, already) indigenous French peripherals. Macron has partially surrendered to the gilets-jaunes’ demands, inter alia delaying a small gas tax rise and increasing the minimum wage, even though this means increasing France’s budget deficit. More deficits means more weakness and less trust relative to Germany, necessary to turning the ailing and sclerotic European Union into something semi-coherent.

Alternatively, Macron can raise taxes – the gilets-jaunes condemn Macron for eliminating a wealth tax on stocks – but France has probably reached the limit in that area: more taxes and even more of the country’s brains and business will bleed out elsewhere, meaning the end of the former Rothschild banker’s dream of turning the former Grande Nation into a “start-up nation” (the English expression is used directly in French, reflecting a total intellectual surrender to the globalist model). Of course, a city-state could be a networked, cognitive-elitist node for innovation and/or tax-avoidance in the global system (e.g. Singapore), but certainly not an actual (if decomposing) nation with some 45 million indigenous French citizens.

I was quite sympathetic to Macron’s recent appeal to the notion of civic virtue:

The troubles that our society is experiencing are also sometimes due and related to the fact that too many of our fellow citizens believe that they can earn without effort . . . We have too often forgotten that besides the rights of each person in the Republic, and our Republic has nothing to blush from in this respect, I can tell you, there are duties. And if there is not this engagement, this effort, the fact that every citizen by his work, by commitment to work, adds his stone to the edifice, our country will never be able to fully recover its strength, its cohesion.

Bravo! The trouble is this kind of appeal to duty can only fall on deaf ears. Fifty years since the events of May ’68, the only thing the typical Western ‘citizen’ can understand is “me, me, me.”

A revolution in the name of “purchasing power” is a disgusting notion (as Dieudonné pointed out some years ago in a legendary sketch on the Pygmies). However, he supports the gilets-jaunes. And we support the gilets-jaunes as a symptom of the democratic and capitalist system’s contradictions. That which is falling must be pushed, let the future come more quickly!

The gilets-jaunes are a heterogeneous bunch. In my region, they’ve been occupying roundabouts, putting up signs with various slogans, and are petitioning for one or two flagship causes. They are overwhelmingly white, generally middle-aged or older, and seem to be primarily unemployed or retired (hence the free time). Interestingly, the society seems to support them (or pretends to). You stop at the roundabout to talk to them for a bit and you are expected to show your support by honking or waving your own yellow vest. One already sees the brittle but potentially overwhelming power of social conformism when a (fairly low) critical mass of ostentatious social signaling is reached. (Reminds you of 1920s armbands . . .)

In other places, e.g. Paris but not only, the gilets-jaunes are associated with violence, but this doesn’t seem to have dented their popularity, perhaps because people associate gilets-jaunes with the actual nice people they meet during their commute to work, rather than the shocking images on social and official media. People liberating themselves from the neuroses of the TV/newspaper clique? Hallelujah!

The gilets-jaunes are a pure democratic, populist, and anti-establishment movement, similar to the Movimento Cinque Stelle in Italy. Both are essentially the product of social media and alternative Internet media. That has been very interesting to see. I was wondering when the Internet would finally manifest itself politically in France, here we are.

The M5S are also quite the mess and have a similarly-vague program of more gibs, direct democracy (referenda, tansparency, civic engagement), and blaming various problems on real or imagined injustice. Hence, M5S Economy Minister, Luigi Di Maio recently accused France’s ties with francophone Africa (notably the CFA franc) of impoverishing Africa and thus causing immigration to Europe. As I’ve argued, someone will have to be scapegoated for the perennial failures of the Convergence Hoax.

Demotism and populism are the products of the pretensions of a democratic system. They are not particularly good in themselves, but may enable a system to change. That is what M5S, rather miraculously, has enabled in Italy, allowing the rise of a nationalist-populist coalition government, where Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has already been able to do a lot of good work. The civic engagement – government by the volunteers, the people who show up – and political renewal enabled by demotic populist movements are very positive developments on the whole.

 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Emmanuel Macron, France, Neoliberalism 
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Emil Cioran, De l’inconvénient d’être né (Paris: Gallimard, 1973).

Growing up in France, I was never attracted to Emil Cioran’s nihilist and pessimistic aesthetic as a writer. Cioran was sometimes presented to us as unflinchingly realistic, as expressing something very deep and true, but too dark to be comfortable with. I recently had the opportunity to read his De l’inconvénient d’être né (On the Trouble with Being Born) and feel I can say something of the man.

The absolutely crucial fact, the elephant in the room, the silently screaming subtext concerning Cioran is that he had been in his youth a far-Right nationalist, penning positive appraisals of Adolf Hitler and a moving ode to the murdered Romanian mystic-fascist leader Cornelius Zelea Codreanu. Cioran had hoped for the “transfiguration” of Romania into a great nation through zeal and sacrifice. Instead, you got utter defeat and Stalinist tyranny and retardation. I’d be depressed too.

A perpetual question for me is: Why did such great intellectuals (we could add Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Ezra Pound, Knut Hamsun, Mircea Eliade . . .) support the “far-Right”? This is often not so clear because the historical record tends to be muddied both by apologetics (“he didn’t really support them”) and anathemas (“aha! You see! He’s a bad man!”). Like John Toland, I don’t want to condemn or praise, I just want to understand: Why did he believe in this? Was it:

  1. Fear of communism?
  2. Skepticism towards democracy and preference for a stable, spirited regime? (That argument was very popular among thinking men in the 1920s, even the notorious Count Coudenhove-Kalergi, spiritual godfather of the European Union, supported Italian Fascism on these grounds!)
  3. Racialism?
  4. Anti-Semitism?
  5. Opposition to decadence?
  6. The dangerous propensity of many intellectuals for ecstatic spasms and mystical revolutions?

In Cioran’s case, his Right-wing sentiment appears to have been motivated by 1), 2), 4) 5), and perhaps especially 6).

After the war, Cioran renounced his Right-wing past. This may have been motivated by understandable revulsion at the horrors of the Eastern Front and the concentration camps. In any event, this was certainly not a disinterested move. Mircea Eliade – a fellow supporter of Codreanu who later thrived as a historian of religions at the University of Chicago, infiltrating the academy with Traditionalists – wrote of Cioran in his diary on September 22, 1942: “He refuses to contribute anything to German newspapers, in order not to compromise himself in the eyes of his French friends. Cioran, like all the others, foresees the fall of Germany and the victory of Communism. This is enough to detach him from everything.”[1]

There had been a thriving far-Right French literary and intellectual scene, with writers who often had had both a fascist and pan-European sensibility. The Libération in 1944 put an end to that: Robert Brasillach was executed by the Gaullist government during the Épuration (Purge) despite the protestations of many fellow writers (including André Malraux and Albert Camus), Pierre Drieu La Rochelle committed suicide, and Lucien Rebatet was jailed for seven years and blacklisted.

As literally an apatride metic (he would lose his Romanian citizenship in 1946), Cioran, then, did not have much of a choice if he wished to exist a bit in postwar French intellectual life, which went from the fashionable Marxoid Jean-Paul Sartre on the left to the Jewish liberal-conservative Raymond Aron on the right. (I actually would speak highly of Aron’s work on modernity as measured, realistic, and empirical, quite refreshing as far as French writers go. Furthermore he was quite aware of Western decadence and made a convincing case for the culturally-homogeneous nation-state as “the political masterpiece.”) Although Cioran had written several bestsellers in his native Romania, he had to adapt to a French environment or face economic and literary oblivion. What’s an apology secured under coercion actually worth?

This is the context in which we must read De l’inconvénient d’être né. These are the obsessive grumblings of a depressed insomniac. (Cioran’s more general mood swings between lyrical ecstasy and doom-and-gloom suggest bipolar disorder.) His aphorisms often ring true, but equally tend to be hyperbolic or exaggerated, and are almost always negative, like a demotivational Nietzsche. In some respects preferable to Nietzsche, insofar as the great explosion the German hysteric foresaw is past us, and his brand of barbaric politics seems quite impossible in this century. Cioran, like Nietzsche and Spengler, knows that nihilism and decadence are the order of the day, but living in the postwar era, he can certainly no longer hope that “blond beasts” or “Caesarism” might still save us. Cioran in this sense is more relatable, he is talking about our world.

Cioran despairs at the inevitable mediocrity of human beings and the vain temporality of the human condition. (What’s the point of even a good feeling or event, if this event will, in a second, disappear and only exist in my memory, which will in turn disappear? This will no doubt have occurred to thoughtful, angsty teenagers.) Birth, embodiment, is the first tragedy – like the fall of man – from a perfect non-existence, with limitless potentiality, to a flawed and stunted being.

Jean-François Revel observes: “Imagine Pascal’s mood if he had learned that he had lost his bet, and you’ll have Cioran.”

A question: Was Cioran’s despair more motivated by being a Rightist spurned by destiny or by his own dark temperament? Would he have written such works in a triumphant Axis Europe?

Cioran is like a Buddha (the spiritual figure most often cited in De l’inconvénient) who stopped halfway, that is to say, at nihilism and despair. But Siddhartha Gautama went further, from the terrifying recognition of our impermanent and insubstantial experiential reality, to a new mental state, reconciled with this reality, to the path of sovereignty and freedom.

Had I been able to meet him, I’d have invited Cioran to my Zendō – where speaking, indeed all expression of human stupidity, is formally banned through the most truthful silence. And how good is truth for the soul!

The Way of Awakening is not found in books.

Actually, Cioran’s Buddhist connection should be dug into. The Zen monk Taisen Deshimaru was in Paris passing on the Dharma to Europe at exactly the same time, in the 1970s.

 
• Category: Ideology 
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Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (London: Penguin, 2004 [reprint of second edition, London: John Murray, 1879]).

Western intellectual life today is characterized by a marked schizophrenia. On the one hand, virtually everyone accepts the scientific theory of Charles Darwin concerning the emergence and evolution of the various species in the world, including humanity, through the process natural selection. The only exceptions to this rule are a few Creationist hold-outs. On the other hand, our culture denies the biological reality of race and the relevance of hereditarian thinking to human societies. Our egalitarian culture rejects heredity’s implications in toto — both the descriptive (in-born human differences between individuals and races) and prescriptive (e.g. eugenics). Given how taboo racialist thinking still is, it is then useful — in order to think freely — to go back to the roots of evolutionary thinking by looking at what Darwin himself had to say about human evolution and racial differences.

The concept of race or lineage is central to Darwin’s evolutionary thinking. His classic The Origin of Species is indeed subtitled By Means of Natural Selection of the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. In one place, Darwin defines a race as the “successive generations” of a particular population (102). Darwin’s model for evolutionary change is simple and powerful: every species will tend to bear too many offspring, leading to overpopulation, a huge percentage of these will die before reaching maturity or in competition with others (whether of the same species or not), those who survive this struggle will be those with the traits best suited for their particular environment. The constant generation and culling of “races,” that is to say new of populations with different traits, is then central to his system, which also applies to human evolution.

The foundation of Darwin’s entire system is the reality of heredity — that the offspring of plants, animals, and humans tend to inherit the physical and/or mental characteristics of their parents. Concerning humans, Darwin follows the observations of the ancient philosophers in asserting that man’s specificity is in being both a social and rational creature.[1] This, along with his free hands, have enabled humanity’s remarkable conquest of the Earth: our intelligence and dexterity allowed our prehistoric forbears to fashion tools, our social instincts enabled us to work together to bring down much larger animals, and the combination gave us a unique ability to adapt to the most varied environments. Darwin says concerning intelligence and sociability: “The supreme importance of these characters has been proved by the final arbitrament of the battle for life” (68). Our hands and brains were incidentally developed at considerable cost: we are awkward bipeds and the tension between enormous heads and narrow hips means that childbirth is quite dangerous to our women.

Darwin takes differences in intellectual ability for granted, both between individuals and races: “The variability or diversity of the mental faculties in men of the same race, not to mention the greater differences between the men of distinct races, is so notorious that not a word need here be said” (45). Furthermore: “The individuals of the same species graduate in intellect from absolute imbecility to high excellence” (100). He had no doubt that psychological traits such as personality and intelligence were heritable:

[I]n regard to mental qualities, their transmission is manifest in our dogs, horses, and other domestic animals.[2] Besides special tastes and habits, general intelligence, courage, bad and good temper, &c., are certainly transmitted. With man we see similar facts in almost every family; and we now know through the admirable labours of Mr [Francis] Galton, that genius which implies a wonderfully complex combination of high faculties, tends to be inherited; and, on the other hand, it is too certain that insanity and deteriorated mental powers likewise run in families. . . .

Domesticated animals vary more than those in a state of nature; and this is apparently due to the diversified and changing nature of the conditions to which they have been subjected. In this respect the different races of man resemble domesticated animals, and so do the individuals of the same race, when inhabiting a very wide area, like that of America. We see the influence of diversified conditions in the more civilised nations; for the members belonging to different grades of rank, and following different occupations, present a greater range of character than do the members of barbarous nations. (45–46)

Humanity’s Moral Improvement Through Perpetual Tribal Warfare

An “uncontacted tribe” in the Amazon responds to a helicopter.
An “uncontacted tribe” in the Amazon responds to a helicopter.

Darwin asserts that the same relentless struggle for survival was the driver for humanity’s evolution into a more intelligent, social, and even moral being. Human tribes spread across the globe, reproduced beyond the ability of their environment to sustain them, and entered into relentless competition and warfare with other tribes.

Darwin considers the emergence of pro-social traits such as sympathy, love of kin, shame, and regret to be central to human evolution. These feelings were certainly not universal however. He observes that prehistoric tribes, like modern savage tribes,[3] were perpetually at war with one another. “It is no argument against savage man being a social animal, that the tribes inhabiting adjacent districts are almost always at war with each other; for the social instincts never extend to all the individuals of the same species” (132).

Darwin firmly believes that group selection was the mechanism by which many human psychological traits emerged. Group selection means that traits not necessarily beneficial to the individual but rather to the group (such as altruism) spread through competition between groups (for instance: one tribe defeats and exterminates another tribe through its individuals’ superior willingness to sacrifice themselves). The group selection hypothesis is considered controversial today in some evolutionary circles. Darwin for his part wrote:

A community which includes a large number of well-endowed individuals increases in number, and is victorious over other less favoured ones; even although each separate member gains no advantage over the others of the same community . . . [Certain mental] faculties have been chiefly, or even exclusively, gained for the benefit of the community, and the individuals thereof, have at the same time gained an advantage indirectly. (83)

Strikingly, Darwin affirms that humanity was intellectually and even morally improved through such relentless tribal warfare:

[N]atural selection arising from the competition of tribe with tribe . . . together with the inherited effects of habit, would, under favourable conditions, have sufficed to raise man to his present high position in the organic scale. (85)

 
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I am among the few to have had the good fortune of growing up in France. I did know that most of the world was poorer than my country and that some people in far away and not-so-far away lands were still dying in wars. But talk of “globalization” was already all the rage and there simply was an assumption that the whole world, slowly, unsteadily, but surely, would become like us.

In truth, we didn’t appreciate how unique and rare a nation like France is in this world. We lived in a a coherent nation, with a reasonably competent and honest administration, among basically gentle and fair people. We took these things for granted. But really, that’s why Westerners should take some time to travel and live in the Second and Third Worlds.

Nice societies are exceptional. In most places, from the periphery of Europe to South Africa, and from Mexico City through Cairo to Jakarta, you really can’t take any of these things for granted. Instead, most commonly the society is divided into innumerable often-hostile tribes, the government is corrupt, and too often the people themselves are vicious and cruel (I measure this by your homicide rate and the physical abuse of children and dogs). These observations obviously don’t deny the warmth, generosity, and indeed vitality that one may find within the families and clans of these societies.

In the 1990s, it might have been reasonable to think that all nations would, eventually, become as gentle as France or even, as Francis Fukuyama even more ambitiously put it, “get to Denmark.” Actually, even back then a perceptive observer could see that this was a questionable proposal not in line with the data comparing socio-economic performance both between nations and between ethnic groups within the same nation (e.g. William Pierce and Philippe Rushton were not hoodwinked).

Even as we were being taught to reject racism and embrace Martin Luther King, the thought occurred to me that racists would probably be reassured in their beliefs by the world’s GDP per capita map. (If everyone was held back by colonialism why was Africa, and specifically Africa south of Sahara, uh, held back more?)

GDP (PPP) per capita, 2004
GDP (PPP) per capita, 2004

“Convergence” is a core aspect of globalist ideology. If all human beings are fundamentally equal, it follows that all societies are fundamentally equal and have the same basic potential. Therefore, the backwardness and dysfunction of particular societies is only because of historical happenstance and can be rectified by adopting the cultural and political practices of winners. The “convergence assumption” underlies much of the work of the European Union, the United Nations, and the field of “developmental economics” (led by Armenian-Turkish economist Daron Acemoglu).

If individuals and nations are equal, we would expect them to gradually fully equalize over time. This, however, rarely happens unless your nation is either:

A) Close to Europe’s Germanic core (e.g., more often than not, within the mysterious Hajnal Line)

B) Largely descended by people close to Europe’s Germanic core (the United States, the British Dominions . . .)

C) Is in East Asia (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China . . .)

D) Is descended by people from East Asia (Singapore)

E) Has bountiful natural resources (Saudi, Gulf States . . .)

I stopped believing convergence when I got bored of hearing the recurring reports, every damn year, about how the “Nordic countries” were always top of the list on all the various metrics of economic performance, well-being, equality, niceness, etc.

Since the Second World War, no southern European country has converged with northern Europe despite being under capitalist regimes. No one in the development economics field has any coherent explanation for why corruption and poor governance steadily increase as one goes towards southern Europe (and beyond to the Maghreb and Sub-Saharan Africa) and for why these countries have proven unable to adopt good practices over the last 75 years.

The European Union has a number of policies which are supposed to foster convergence between member countries: the EU budget redistributes billions of euros of agricultural, regional development, and other funds from wealthier rich countries to poorer ones; access to the Common Market (an economy as big as China or the United States); and even a common currency, the Euro, which enables all members to enjoy a money as stable as that of Germany and reduces transaction costs.

And yet, full convergence doesn’t even happen within Europe.

In recent years, divergence has been the norm, with Germany deepening its lead and southern Europe falling further and further behind.

All this is nothing new. For centuries, industry and trade in Europe has concentrated in the so-called “Blue Banana” (pictured above) stretching from southern England via the Rhineland to northern Italy.

Compare the diffusion of the printing press:

And the current GDP per capita of European regions:

Same ol’, same ol’. Already in the sixteenth century, Niccolò Machiavelli was complaining that Italians were not as industrious, organized, and “virtuous” as the Swiss.

Human beings are creatures defined both by their genetic inheritance (difficult to change) and by their culture (much easier to change). We have both hardware (largely genetically-determined phenotype) and software (culture, in particular customs, habits, and norms). Egalitarians claim humans are all software, which isn’t credible.

The difficult question with any observed inequality is to ask: How much of this is due to heredity and how much due to culture?

Acemoglu has become an academic rockstar by promoting a comforting thesis: that poor countries are poor not because there is anything different about the people, but because the “institutions” differ. It’s obvious that institutions are extremely important, that makes Acemoglu’s heredity-denying claim half-true, and all the more misleading (much more misleading than an outright lie).

Institutions clearly matter. The Japanese had not thought of the idea of capitalism until Commodore Perry’s black ships forced them to open up their country to foreign trade at gunpoint in 1854. The Japanese, unlike 80% of nations, proved quite adept at capitalism.

Conversely, a nation is most often held back by an excess of socialism. This had clearly been the case for eastern Europe until 1989 and for Mao’s China, which went through phases of communist hysteria. It was also apparently the case for postwar Great Britain, whose Labour government passed an ambitious program of socialist economics in that nation which had so long had massive inequalities. British postwar socialism appears to have contributed to the country’s unprecedented economic underperfomance relative to the Continent (about 20% poorer than France by 1980). (Excessive military spending to sustain Britain’s great power ambitions and trade disruption due to the collapse of the British Empire no doubt also played a role.)

But there is also the taboo human biodiversity explanation. This assumes that a country’s long-term development is constrained by the basic psychological character of the population. The most important traits would be: intelligence and social trust (inversely correlated with corruption).

 
A Review of FASCISM: A WARNING
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It is always gratifying when one’s intuition is confirmed. I had the impression, picking up Madeleine Albright’s book Fascism: A Warning, that I would be treated to an exercise of “Fascism is bad. And everything I don’t like is Fascism!” The former secretary of State, a Jewish liberal originally hailing from Czechoslovakia, did not disappoint.

The book is essentially a set of portraits of various movements and leaders Albright considers to be “Fascist” (contra convention, she capitalizes even when not referring to Mussolini’s National Fascist Party) and/or vaguely fascistic.

Albright warns early on that people use “fascism” as a catch-all derogatory term for just about any exercise of authority people don’t like. She proposes a somewhat reasonable definition of fascism and then goes on to do exactly what she warned against, covering not only Mussolini and Hitler, but also Vladimir Putin, Viktor Orbán, and communist Czechoslovakia in her Fascist(ish) portraits.

To be fair, these vignettes are often quite informative. The chapters on Hugo Chávez, Recep Erdoğan, and the Kims of North Korea in particular showcase a diplomat’s sensitivity and nuance, making an effort to understand the motivations and appeal of these men (and the movements and/or systems they represent), as well as their considerable failings.

However, to lump all of these under the broad heading “quasi-fascist” only makes sense in terms of branding. Since World War II, people have been taught to consider authoritarianism, fascism, “Nazism,” nationalism, racism, and eugenics as the supreme evils. In fact, these things are quite different (there were democratic countries systematically practicing eugenics and racism, while Fascist Italy if anything was quite slow to adopt such policies). These things are not really distinguished in people’s minds however but form a kind of hideous potpourri of sadistic bullying[1] and senseless suffering, basically a Hieronymus Bosch painting come to life, embodying their deepest fears as human beings. Emotionally it is very powerful and it is understandable that Albright would want to misleadingly brand all her opponents as (quasi-)Fascists.

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Opponents of American imperialism will observe that Albright’s list of quasi-Fascist states corresponds quite closely with those who have opposed U.S. foreign policies in recent decades. There is barely a word about America’s authoritarian allies Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.

Nor is there much mention of China and Singapore, two countries which as capitalist one-party[2] states actually are much closer to historic fascism than any of her candidates. Perhaps she ignores them so that people do not get the idea that fascistic government can actually be quite competent and public-spirited, and not necessarily lead to constant warfare.

Strikingly, the word “Netanyahu” does not appear in the book’s Index at all. The existence of a democratic ethno-nationalist state goes against her whole narrative. For what it’s worth, I suspect most people in European nationalist parties and in the Alt-Right would be happy to preserve democracy if they could have their own Netanyahus, with the establishment of Western ethnostates dedicated to their own people, with the explicit goal of preserving or restoring ethnic European demographic supermajorities.

This selectivity will encourage the impression that the State Department’s talk of “human rights” has less to do with upholding universal moral principles than with demonizing the United States’ geopolitical opponents du jour. The American Establishment does not bully China as much as Russia, despite being obviously more authoritarian. I suspect this is because China is already too big to bully, while Russia can still be pushed around and serve as a useful bogeyman (always useful to the Military-Industrial Complex, the National Security State, and for all the Establishmentarians who need a scapegoat for the rise of populism). On that note, I suspect most diplomatic conflicts today have less to do with “realist” international power dynamics than with the utility of foreign enemies for governments domestically.

Personally I prefer a republican government under the rule of law. But it would be dishonest to deny that authoritarian governments present certain advantages. In times of crisis, all governments tend to revert to authoritarianism to get the job done (e.g.: Lincoln, De Gaulle . . .). In the future, I’ll write something on the merits and demerits of liberty and authority, and on the liberal claims of being “non-authoritarian.”

In the meantime, I’ll just ask: “What have the Romans ever done for us?”

Where would you rather be born:

  • In semi-democratic Venezuela or authoritarian Cuba?
  • In democratic India or authoritarian China?
  • In Atatürk’s secular dictatorship or Erdoğan’s Islamist democracy?
  • In authoritarian Yugoslavia or democratic Bosnia?
  • In democratic Jamaica or authoritarian Singapore?

Try to be honest (with yourself).

I will not quibble about the book’s one-sided point of view, sometimes questionable assertions, and various hypocrisies typical of U.S. foreign policy (on which see the book review already up by Morris V. de Camp on Counter-Currents). I’d rather take the subject head-on: the merits and demerits of fascism, which I think are an interesting subject.

The biggest and really inexcusable intellectual weakness of Albright’s book is in lazily equating or associating the various illiberal democratic regimes (meaning nothing more than democratic regimes liberals don’t agree with) with fascist ones. It fails to recognize that democracy causes populism. If you have democracy – with real freedom of speech and not a dictatorship of the money-men and of the mainstream media which the postwar American generations were used to – you will get Trumps and Bolsonaros and Corbyns and Erdoğans. This kind of mess is a feature, not a bug, of real democracy.

The governments of illiberal democracies, it seems to me, also behave more badly because they have to worry about getting reelected. Unlike dictatorships, these governments are insecure, if they lose one election, they risk losing everything. As a result, they seem to me to be more erratic and have more of a taste for (often damaging) spectacle and demagogic measures than does the average dictatorship. (Again: compare the peace and orderliness of Cuba with the violence and chaos of Venezuela.)

Fascism entails a one-party state under the authority of a charismatic dictator, typically with a commitment to national independence and power. The fascist claims that the right people, in practice the men willing to go out there and risk their lives to beat up communists, ought to be in charge. The biggest risk, as in all personal dictatorships, is that the country’s development is put at the mercy of the wisdom and the stability of the leader. There have been plenty of competent dictators: Franco, Chiang Kai-shek, Lee Kuan Yew, etc. Hitler’s personal contempt for the Slavs, more than anything else, caused his downfall – if he’d toned that back, and just that might have been enough – I’d probably be typing in German today.

The Belgian fascist Léon Degrelle signed up to the Waffen-SS because he wanted Europe to be a mighty empire rather than a glorified supermarket.

 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: American Media, Fascism 
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