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From my new column in Taki’s Magazine:

In Memoriam: Jerry Pournelle
by Steve Sailer
September 13, 2017

My friend Jerry Pournelle has died at age 84.

Jerry was the embodiment of a famous quote by his mentor in the science-fiction business, Robert A. Heinlein:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. …

Jerry, one of the great Southern California Cold Warriors, had a remarkable number of careers, starting as a teenage artillery officer during the Korean War, which deafened him in one ear.

Read the whole thing there.

I received this email today, which I’ll reprint for those in SoCal:

This is Alex Pournelle on behalf of our family. …

As you have probably heard, my father, Jerry, passed away on Friday, September 8, 2017. He had attended DragonCon as a guest, was lauded by thousands, and had a tremendously good time. As an author, it would be difficult to think of a better way to be sent off.

Our family also appreciates the outpouring of memorials and reminiscences, both public and private, which have followed.

The public service will be this Saturday, September 16:

12N PT: Services at St. Francis de Sales Church, 13368 Valleyheart Drive, Sherman Oaks, CA 91423

We will be working to livestream the service as well.

Please let those who should know about the service. If you will be in town, we hope to see you there.

Contact me here if there are any questions. We will be making plans for the website later.

Thank you again for your support.

 
    []
  1. Reagan, Gorbachev, Steve Sailer and – Jerry Pournelle – – who had once been a communist and later became a republican, thus somewhat prefiguring the productive Gorbachev-Reagan relationship. Very insightful. Very interesting. Moving. My heartfelt condolences.

    Is Lucifer’s Hammer Pournelle’s best book?

    Read More
    • Replies: @bomag

    Is Lucifer’s Hammer Pournelle’s best book?
     
    It's the one I think about the most.
    , @Olorin
    Don't know about "best," but certainly one I return to in my own thoughts again and again.

    I was more captivated by The Mote in God's Eye.

    Still, it would be interesting to survey ARRL to see how many of us got serious about shortwave after reading Lucifer's Hammer.

    It's not uncommon to hear references to Stronghold in discussions of W1AW...nor the current state of legislation involving his comfy mufflers.
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  2. Tiny Duck says:

    Sad but we must remember he was a racist and misogynist

    http://www.metafilter.com/169317/Closing-down-Chaos-Manor

    Guys like this are why, when I veered away from comics and into Grown-up Books as an adolescent, I went more for horror and noir than sci-fi and fantasy. I hate all this crap. White republican military fetishists who watch the History Channel and want to build a wall. Who needs them.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Roderick Spode
    Horror and noir being, of course, the two most conservative schools of genre fiction. Masterful trolling, sir.

    Keep it up, and Sailer might mention you by name again!
  3. Anonym says:

    It has long been rumored that the Allies were in league with ZOG but your article confirms it!

    Read More
  4. slumber_j says:

    (At the lunch table, he’d choose his seat carefully to position his one remaining good ear next to his guest.)

    I’ve been completely deaf in one ear all my life, and I can tell you that it cuts both ways: sometimes you choose your seat carefully to keep your good ear away from a guest…and next to someone you’d rather talk to.

    As debilities go it’s a pretty good one. On the one hand there’s the social isolation, sure. Then again, you can generally sleep through anything.

    Too bad about Jerry Pournelle. But as deaths go, not a bad one.

    Read More
  5. In other words, if the sergeant knows how to do it, then there’s no need for you to risk your dignity as an officer and a gentleman by issuing some potentially ludicrous order about how to erect the flagpole. And if the sergeant doesn’t know either, well, he’ll probably order a corporal to do it, and so forth down the chain of command. But by the time the problem comes back up to you, it will be well established that nobody else has any more idea than you do.

    I was in charge of a department at a former employer and this is pretty much how it ran for me.

    Read More
  6. With his mentor, Viennese spymaster Stefan Possony of the Hoover Institution, Jerry wrote The Strategy of Technology, arguing that the way to win the Cold War was to turn it into a high-tech competition over who could innovate faster.

    This is what is happening today.

    Read More
  7. Corn says:

    He sounds like a fascinating man, to say the least. Did he ever say what led to his brief conversion to Communism? To go from being shot at by Red Chinese to being a Communist is a heck of a leap.

    RIP

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  8. Che Guava says:

    Good obit., Steve, also informative. I wonder if Mr. Pournelle’s Strangelove-esque writing for the USAF was for the Rand (R ‘n’ D) Corp. Sure read something like it in my brief military time.

    Dieter, he had many, most of novels with Niven, I prefer Mote, others I only read in translation. Most are interesting.

    On the comet theme, AFAIK, the English Dennis Wheatley (spelling may not be exact) wrote a thirties novel about a comet strike. I recall the title as having been equivalent to Day of the Comet, but I tried to check, the English title seems to be Sixty Days to Live. Many years before Lucifer’s Hammer. Since it was written in the thirties of last century, retro-future feeling is very strong. I am liking such works.

    84 is not a bad score. Everyone would like to living forever, again, very much appreciating Mr. Pournelle’s writing, as a mainly electrical, electronics, engineering, computer ‘science’ student (many distinctions in studies outside those), Chaos Manor  was always a highligh in Byte. Used to buy it new, and seek second-hand copies, so read many, including Pournelle’s article on his first word processor.

    I still have a typewriter.

    Vale Jerry Pournelle!

    Read More
  9. Read some of his BYTE columns back in the 80s. He had some interesting anecdotes about seeing the first “word processor” and how the simple edit functions were a huge technical advance. Here is an account of his involvement in the development of the personal computer :

    https://www.kirkusreviews.com/features/jerry-pournelle-and-personal-computer/

    Now of course we have machines of then undreamed power, which tends to sap us of our ability to write original coherent content and leaves us fragmented and ennervated. No wonder we task-switch to the porn window when we should be writing something profound. I’ll bet Genius T. Coates uses some kind of typewriter instead of a fruity laptop.

    The Alphasmart Neo takes technology a step back and just provides the writing function and nothing else. Would not be surprised if Pournelle influenced the Neo development :

    A Writing Production Machine

    http://wp.me/p6QFjS-8L

    Read More
  10. Lurker says:

    I was hoping we we were going to hear about Jerry’s career as an ice skater.

    Read More
  11. Dave Pinsen says: • Website

    A worthy remembrance of an extraordinary life. Just ordered his Inferno from Amazon.

    Read More
  12. PhDPepper says:

    I read Lucifer’s Hammer because of you, Steve. Excellent book, thank you. My condolences to his family.

    Read More
  13. keypusher says:

    Jerry once told me that if in early 1951 General MacArthur had said, “Boys, it’s time to clear out the nest of traitors in the White House. Who is going with me?” he would have been on the first flight to Washington with his hero.

    Please share this article by using the link below. When you cut and paste an article, Taki’s Magazine misses out on traffic, and our writers don’t get paid for their work. Email editors@takimag.com to buy additional rights. http://takimag.com/article/in_memoriam_jerry_pournelle/print#ixzz4sZzKPwS3

    Did he ever change his mind and decide he would have shot MacArthur instead? Seems like that would have been more productive.

    Read More
  14. If you ever want to explain to anybody why Carson was a better interviewer than all the current hosts on late-night television, just show them these pages.

    I could never watch any of the later generation talk show hosts cause they could never generate the sense of intimacy and especially male camaraderie that Carson could.

    Many of the interviews with close friends like Jimmy Stewart and Tony Randall were really moving. Carson’s ability to get an elderly Stewart to open up about his struggles overcoming sexual shyness as a young man was especially revealing.

    For those to young to remember Carson, start with his Youtube channel.

    As far as the Jimmy Fallon and rest of the current crop of big time network talk show hosts there are any number of youtube based interviewers who are vastly superior to them.

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    • Replies: @Stan Adams
    Interestingly, Carson himself was an exceedingly private man.

    Carson always thought that Letterman should have taken over his time slot on NBC. He once did a cameo on Letterman's CBS show, tacitly "blessing" Letterman as his successor, but never appeared on Leno's show. In later years, he even went so far as to submit jokes for Letterman.

    For the first couple of years, Letterman trounced Leno soundly in the ratings, but then the latter grabbed the lead and never lost it. The key turning points were a) Letterman's disastrous stint as Oscars host and b) Leno's famous interview with Hugh Grant.

    (One night, Grant went out looking for a hooker; he ended up in jail. His first public appearance after the arrest was on the Tonight Show. Leno opened the interview by demanding, "What the hell were you thinking?")

    If you're looking for a good read on the bitter battle that erupted between Leno and Letterman in the wake of Carson's retirement, check out The Late Shift by ... Google it. (Years later, the same author wrote a sequel chronicling the Conan fiasco.)

    The book was made into an HBO movie. (Yes, they had a hard time casting the Leno and Letterman roles.)

    Leno owed (and shall always owe) his Tonight Show gig to Helen Kushnick, his ball-busting, foul-mouthed manager. (Kathy Bates played her in the movie.) She shamed Carson into retiring early by planting stories in the papers that NBC wanted him out. (As an f-you to the network, he went to a routine industry gathering and abruptly made a surprise announcement that he was leaving at the end of the next season. His own bosses, sitting in the audience, were floored.)

    Kushnick got her boy Leno the job. Shortly thereafter, she destroyed her own career - and almost wrecked his, as well - by taking over the show and running it into the ground. In the end, Leno gave her the shaft, cutting off all contact despite a deathbed promise ("I'll always be there") he had made to her late husband. He didn't even go to her funeral.

    The NBC suits botched the Carson/Leno transition and utterly destroyed their long-frosty relationship with Letterman, whose show had followed Carson's for nearly a decade. On the day that Leno was announced as Carson's successor, Letterman didn't get so much as a courtesy call.

    (Courtesy calls are important. Carson famously shunned Joan Rivers, his longtime substitute, after she failed to give him advance warning that she was jumping to Fox to become his competitor. On the day of the announcement, he hung up on her when she tried to call him. They never spoke again. Her show, incidentally, was such a horrendous flop that the resulting stress drove her husband to off himself.)

    As Leno struggled to find his groove, other networks began courting Letterman openly. Before too long, CBS emerged as the leading suitor. (The network's campaign was led by Howard Stringer, who later became a top executive at Sony.)

    At one point, late in the game, NBC came close to dumping Leno and giving Letterman what he really wanted - the Tonight Show - to keep him from jumping to CBS. (The deal was so shaky - Letterman would have had to wait 18 months and would have ended up with only a fraction of the money that CBS was offering - that even Carson advised him not to take it.)

    With his own career twisting in the wind, Leno learned that a key meeting would be held by conference call in a particular room. He hid in a closet and eavesdropped on the proceedings, taking copious notes.

    In the end, Leno kept his job, and held the ratings crown for most of his tenure. (He never earned the critics' respect - he was always that goofy joke-teller with the chin deformity.) But Letterman didn't exactly wash out of television as an abject failure. After Leno took the lead in 1995, the closest Letterman came to retaking it was during the short-lived Conan era.
  15. bomag says:
    @Dieter Kief
    Reagan, Gorbachev, Steve Sailer and - Jerry Pournelle - - who had once been a communist and later became a republican, thus somewhat prefiguring the productive Gorbachev-Reagan relationship. Very insightful. Very interesting. Moving. My heartfelt condolences.

    Is Lucifer's Hammer Pournelle's best book?

    Is Lucifer’s Hammer Pournelle’s best book?

    It’s the one I think about the most.

    Read More
  16. Yet modern people seem to be losing interest in the vast subject of the Cold War. Without clear-cut ethnic divisions into good guys and bad guys, as in World War II, 21st-century Americans are finding the notion of a vast struggle over ideas complex and tedious.

    I’m not getting this. The Cold War was an immense military standoff between two fearsomely armed superpowers, each one trying to prevent the other from achieving total world domination. It wasn’t just a dispute over politico-economic systems. In my experience, the people who hold the latter view have all been urbane liberals of the professorial or A&E sort, who seem to derive a sort of cynical satisfaction (or at least a sense of dramatic tension) from criticizing the “folly” of the politicians who would bring the world to the brink of nuclear holocaust over their silly economic differences.

    However, it seems to me that in order to hold that opinion, one would have to normalize every other aspect of the conflict. You would have to assume that this whole great body of armaments—gigantic standing armies, ICBMs, nuclear submarines, stealth bombers, spy satellites, ruthless intelligence agencies, relentless propaganda—all this was just the ordinary accoutrement of a modern nation. Nothing unusual about them. Their existence was no more remarkable than the brass buttons on the general’s coat. The really curious thing (so they think) is that all this material has been pressed into the service of some crazy economic argument.

    But isn’t it ironic that those who hold the opinion that the Cold War was essentially about ideas (which would presumably include Pournelle and Reagan themselves) exert all their tactical energies in the opposite direction? They make a deliberate point of fighting “the battle of ideas” with unabashed military escalation. I think an important secret is hidden here. There is a worldview characteristic of these times—our times—which contains an assumption so deep and implicit that it never rises into consciousness, but is there in the background conditioning our every response. It is the assumption that everything that happens in the world really is about ideas. Such a view would naturally see the whole military history of the Cold War as something that existed just for the sake of those ideas, as a set piece in which the battle of ideas could play out. Notice, too, that a self-evident preponderance of military-industrial capacity is also a necessary feature of many types of science fiction. The Cold War and SciFi, they grew up together.

    That this view is not the only one possible is something not very often mentioned, but if it is indeed changing then the prospect of war in the future becomes much more likely. “What have I to do with ideas,” sayeth a future Caesar. “What are these weapons for but to be used?” On that day there will be no more economic disputes and no more space operas written, for all that a man thinks or cares about will be summed up in his actions. In its final redaction, the Cold War will be seen as the prelude to the age of great individuals who made the world their spoil.

    Was it not foreseen? Was it not, deep down, desired?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Vinteuil
    Sorry, dude: this one gets a C-minus.

    "I’m not getting this."

    Wow, what a surprise.

    "In my experience, the people who hold the latter view..."

    What two views are you talking about? Which one is the "latter?"

    "...urbane liberals of the professorial or A&E sort, who seem to derive a sort of cynical satisfaction (or at least a sense of dramatic tension) from criticizing the 'folly' of the politicians who would bring the world to the brink of nuclear holocaust over their silly economic differences..."

    OK, at this point you seem to have flown the coop into some private world of your own, complete with your own private language.

    And so on & so forth.

    Is that you, Brian?
  17. Anon says: • Disclaimer

    Space aliens and the Cold War.

    If the space aliens were truly advanced, they’d be able to conquer the whole planet with one arm tied behind their back(or eight tentacles tied behind their back).

    But suppose Space Aliens arrived as a vulnerable people on Earth. And suppose most peoples all over were anxious about these aliens. In that case, it would be advantageous for the aliens if the nations, esp great powers, were hostile to one another.

    Often in history, the greatest danger turned out to be not the Main Threat/Enemy but the mercurial third force that wove in between the cracks of the enemies. It’s like football. The main violence is in the clash of defensive linemen and offensive linemen. While they go at each other, the running back tries to move through the cracks of the melee. When two titans clash, one could be tramped under the stampede, like Poland in WWII. But if you’re adept at playing the game, you can gain advantage in the cracks and chaos created by the clash.

    After all, it is difficult to fight all sides at once. When a power is fighting another power, it seeks allies or neutral players. And these allies or neutral powers can gain something big and crucial by playing the game. Rise of Asia after WWII owed to this. Japan, though defeated in WWII, gained a lot by sitting in the middle of Cold War between US and Russia/China. And then, China gained a lot by sitting in the middle of US and USSR clash. Whenever a great power is fighting or struggling against the Big Enemy, it has less energy to expend against your side. It might even make overtures to your side for alliance or even praise your side.

    Also, the clash of giants weakens them both if the struggle is prolonged. Russia saw Germany as the main enemy in WWI, but it turned out that the bigger danger was the Bolsheviks who stepped into to fill the vacuum created by clash of big powers. Some weaker nations lean to one side in the clash of titans. Cuba during Cold War leaned totally on the USSR. This worked as long as USSR existed. But because Cuba had alienated US and China to much, it was left all alone with end of Cold War.
    North Korea played USSR and China off each other to get more advantages for itself. When USSR collapsed, it could only rely on China. Tito played it smarter by aligning with no side. Thus, he was able to play everyone against everyone. He hedged his bets after the break with the USSR.

    Naturally, most people become fixated on the biggest power. When the biggest power feels anxious about this, they try to prop up the War of the Worlds scenario so that people won’t notice their power. This is now esp true of Jewish Power. Jewish Power, being the most powerful in the world, should be the focus of everyone. But because Jews are a minority elite, they fear being outed as the Biggest Power. So, they prop up this War of the Worlds scenario where the real ‘struggles’ are between Russia, Iran, white supremacists, Muslim terrorists, North Korea, Venezuela, and off-and-on China. As long as public focus is on those ‘great powers’, people will be less likely to notice Jewish power, which will continue to work between the cracks of those ‘struggles’. To pull this off, the globalist media have to vastly exaggerate the power of Russia, Iran, Syria, and even NK that got nukes only for self-defense against rogue US policy.

    At any rate, the history of US since the 60s shows that the biggest danger is often not The Big Official Enemy. White Americans were led to believe that USSR was the biggest danger and threat. So, against this Enemy, white Americans were led to support alliances with nations like China that would greatly benefit from the rift between two big white nations. Also, to prove its moral superiority, the US went out of its way to prove that it is more ‘tolerant’ and pro-Semitic than the USSR.This opened up huge cracks for non-whites to exploit and capitalize on. In the end, USSR fell like a house of cards and vanished like dust in the wind… meanwhile, White America was burdened with black crime, globalism, mass colonization from Third World, and demented anti-white PC.
    By focusing so much on the Offensive Linemen of USSR, white Americans lost sight of the running back of PC, black thuggery, Jewish elitism, and homomania that wove through the cracks for the touchdown.
    Globalists understood the uses of the cult of Big Enemy. So, even after the Cold War, ‘new cold wars’ had to be concocted so that white Americans would come to see Muslim Terrorism or Putin’s Russia(now even North Korea) as the biggest threat to the world.. when in fact, white Americans have most to fear from open borders and Wall Street thievery.

    Without such contrivance, people will naturally (1) look out for their own self-interests instead of self-sacrificing to maintain the ‘grand alliance’ against the Big Enemy (2) focus on the real biggest power(which is Jewish Power in the current world order).

    Sometimes when giants clash, one giant wins. But in other cases, the biggest winner is not the giants but those who squeeze through the middle of the conflict and infect both and take over when the war ends.

    Read More
  18. doxahoxaq says:

    Sounds like an interesting man; his death is a real loss.

    But wow, that cold warrior stuff doesn’t look that great today, it’s like pop music that’s aged badly. So Pournelle’s idea (unimplemented) was to use the Saudi airforce to take over Albania?! Obviously, air-power wars require some foot soldiers too, and I wonder what kinds of shock troops would have invaded? It’s all quite reminiscent of Zbigniew Brzezinski’s plan (implemented) to arm the mujaheddeen, the proto-Taliban, and we all know how THAT turned out!

    Honestly, seen in the light of day, the Cold War was pretty ridiculous: the US was ALLIED with Stalin (sure, circumstances, but still!) and then supported the proto-Taliban against… Brezhnev and Gorbachev?! I’m no Stalinist, but life weren’t so bad under either of those guys. Certainly a lot better than under Yeltsin! Plus, no one in history did more than the Soviets to modernize central Asian Muslims!

    I’m no Maoist, but Hoxha did a lot to reduce the power of fundamentalists in Albania, briefly banning, I think, public religious practice itself. And Pournelle would have preferred to call in the whacko Muslim extremists instead, in order to prop up a “rightful king of the Albanians?” In 1776, at the dawn of America’s rise, the US elite knew no king had a right to rule. In the sunset of America’s postwar decline, the US government flipped, backing tons of fundamentalists in the Middle East, allying scimitar and mosque in a marriage from hell. All so the king could rule as a suzerain of US imperialism.

    De mortuis nihil nisi bonum is a good idea, and I personally feel a sense of regret at the death of a man such as Pournelle, whom I hadn’t even read, much less known. So this stuff isn’t personal. So requiescat in pace. It’s political. The US government has taken the Muslim world’s wacky raw material of fundamentalists and armed them to the teeth (cf. Syria) and wrecked societies to do so, causing the deaths of many more than one man.

    I know many of the readers of this (fascinating!) blog are right-wing and the Cold War religion remains strong in some: or to put it another way, there’s no stronger doxa than attacking men like Hoxha! But just as (usually) guys proudly claim they’ve been red-pilled about PC stuff or gender or “human rights” imperialism today, I’d encourage them to question some of the “Cold War as holy crusade for freedom” stuff.
    Ask for yourself whether 1970s socialism, with its bureaucrats and drabness (compared to good-ol US music videos!) was really WORSE than revitalized medieval nut-jobs. During the Cold War, the US state routinely backed the most backward elements of society, to prop up mullahs who’d prop up kings. Dictators and clerics! No thanks! So using a modern idiom, I’d admonish some of this blog’s readers… to uncuck yourselves, worshipers of Reagan among ye! (He’s just a stand-in; I’m using him as a stand-in for all postwar presidents.)

    Read More
    • Replies: @Almost Missouri
    Dox, I agree to a certain extent, but I don't think most readers here regard the Cold War as "holy crusade for freedom”. The previous commenter, Intelligent Dasein summed the Cold War up as "an immense military standoff between two fearsomely armed superpowers, each one trying to prevent the other from achieving total world domination." I think this is the Realpolitik view that most here subscribe to. And that Detente-era Communism was arguably less socially destructive than the same era's capitalism-and-counter-culture has been chewed over here before. In case you missed out, here is yet another example:

    No Sex in the USSR

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0574s3p

    A few years before the Soviet collapse, the Soviet Union was arguably more socially and domestically wholesome than the West. For better or worse, we helped destroy it.
    , @Anonymous
    These sorts of critiques are ahistorical. Historical and political developments are contingent. Strategies are developed and effected according to specific moments in time. They aren't and can't be made according to some standard or development in some future.
    , @Abe

    Zbigniew Brzezinski’s plan (implemented) to arm the mujaheddeen, the proto-Taliban, and we all know how THAT turned out!
     
    It turned out swell, actually. The USSR's own Vietnam was a significant contributor to Soviet demoralization in the 80's. It strikes me as borderline insane that jerk-offs like Michael Moore managed to (through nothing better than monomaniac hammering of their Big Lie) convince a good deal of people that 9/11 was direct, tangible blowback from US policies in Afghanistan 15 years earlier (through, what?, the advanced boxcutter training that only a state actor like the Taliban could provide?) and that, even if it were, it was still not an absurdly cheap price to pay for total victory in the Cold War.

    Plus, no one in history did more than the Soviets to modernize central Asian Muslims!
     
    Again, who cares? Islamic terrorism is an opportunistic disease that only effects us because we keep choosing to let it do so. As the Metternich of our age, open to profound geopolitical insights because he is the black child of a single mother used to like saying, ISIS and al Qaeda are not 'existential threats' to the United States. No amount of candlelight vigils, however, was going to undo the hurt a Khrushchev could deliver.
    , @Dave Pinsen

    But wow, that cold warrior stuff doesn’t look that great today, it’s like pop music that’s aged badly. So Pournelle’s idea (unimplemented) was to use the Saudi airforce to take over Albania?! Obviously, air-power wars require some foot soldiers too, and I wonder what kinds of shock troops would have invaded? It’s all quite reminiscent of Zbigniew Brzezinski’s plan (implemented) to arm the mujaheddeen, the proto-Taliban, and we all know how THAT turned out!
     
    In hindsight it looks pretty bad, but in the late '60s, Islamic terrorism, and Islam in general, weren't really top of mind. Terrorism, even by Arabs, was predominantly leftwing. The Palestinian terror groups, for example, like the PLO and PFLP were secular leftist ones. This was largely true in the '70s as well. For example, the hijacking of the Air France plane that led to the Entebbe raid was by Palestinian and German leftists.

    Also, judging by Steve's comments about The Mote novel being an immigration metaphor, it sounds like Pournelle wasn't a fan of mass immigration, particularly of Muslims.

    No doubt the defeat of the Soviets in Afghanistan sparked the growth of Al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism, but the two bigger factors were the spike in population in the Muslim world (probably due in part to Norman Borlaug's Green Revolution), and open borders in the West.
    , @Charles Erwin Wilson

    Brezhnev and Gorbachev?! I’m no Stalinist, but life weren’t so bad under either of those guys.
     
    Did you live in the Soviet Union under them? The recitation of life under them, and conveyed to me by an emigre that came over during their reign, was of a dark time, full of misery, and fear, with nothing to cheer them but the memory of the achievements of a once great empire.

    Read the Gulag Archipelago and then get back to us.
    , @snorlax
    The Albanian royal family (pictured below sometime in the 90's in South Africa, to which they had moved after Rhodesia...), is about as Muslim as Obama is Christian. Same with Albanians in general in my experience; they have their issues and then some, but for reasons other than religion.

    http://www.albanianroyalcourt.al/pages/Images/Resized/2v05wfdip0da7lq2fsyy_580_856_S_70.jpg
  19. segundo says:

    Not sure about his attitudes toward any other sci-fi authors, but Reagan was an Edgar Rice Burroughs fan.

    Read More
  20. Lot says:

    Anyone have a nice short story they can suggest? I don’t like scifi enough for a novel.

    Read More
    • Replies: @inertial
    Try Inferno. It's not really sci-fi but a retelling of Dante. And it's relatively short.
  21. @doxahoxaq
    Sounds like an interesting man; his death is a real loss.

    But wow, that cold warrior stuff doesn't look that great today, it's like pop music that's aged badly. So Pournelle's idea (unimplemented) was to use the Saudi airforce to take over Albania?! Obviously, air-power wars require some foot soldiers too, and I wonder what kinds of shock troops would have invaded? It's all quite reminiscent of Zbigniew Brzezinski's plan (implemented) to arm the mujaheddeen, the proto-Taliban, and we all know how THAT turned out!

    Honestly, seen in the light of day, the Cold War was pretty ridiculous: the US was ALLIED with Stalin (sure, circumstances, but still!) and then supported the proto-Taliban against... Brezhnev and Gorbachev?! I'm no Stalinist, but life weren't so bad under either of those guys. Certainly a lot better than under Yeltsin! Plus, no one in history did more than the Soviets to modernize central Asian Muslims!

    I'm no Maoist, but Hoxha did a lot to reduce the power of fundamentalists in Albania, briefly banning, I think, public religious practice itself. And Pournelle would have preferred to call in the whacko Muslim extremists instead, in order to prop up a "rightful king of the Albanians?" In 1776, at the dawn of America's rise, the US elite knew no king had a right to rule. In the sunset of America's postwar decline, the US government flipped, backing tons of fundamentalists in the Middle East, allying scimitar and mosque in a marriage from hell. All so the king could rule as a suzerain of US imperialism.

    De mortuis nihil nisi bonum is a good idea, and I personally feel a sense of regret at the death of a man such as Pournelle, whom I hadn't even read, much less known. So this stuff isn't personal. So requiescat in pace. It's political. The US government has taken the Muslim world's wacky raw material of fundamentalists and armed them to the teeth (cf. Syria) and wrecked societies to do so, causing the deaths of many more than one man.

    I know many of the readers of this (fascinating!) blog are right-wing and the Cold War religion remains strong in some: or to put it another way, there's no stronger doxa than attacking men like Hoxha! But just as (usually) guys proudly claim they've been red-pilled about PC stuff or gender or "human rights" imperialism today, I'd encourage them to question some of the "Cold War as holy crusade for freedom" stuff.
    Ask for yourself whether 1970s socialism, with its bureaucrats and drabness (compared to good-ol US music videos!) was really WORSE than revitalized medieval nut-jobs. During the Cold War, the US state routinely backed the most backward elements of society, to prop up mullahs who'd prop up kings. Dictators and clerics! No thanks! So using a modern idiom, I'd admonish some of this blog's readers... to uncuck yourselves, worshipers of Reagan among ye! (He's just a stand-in; I'm using him as a stand-in for all postwar presidents.)

    Dox, I agree to a certain extent, but I don’t think most readers here regard the Cold War as “holy crusade for freedom”. The previous commenter, Intelligent Dasein summed the Cold War up as “an immense military standoff between two fearsomely armed superpowers, each one trying to prevent the other from achieving total world domination.” I think this is the Realpolitik view that most here subscribe to. And that Detente-era Communism was arguably less socially destructive than the same era’s capitalism-and-counter-culture has been chewed over here before. In case you missed out, here is yet another example:

    No Sex in the USSR

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0574s3p

    A few years before the Soviet collapse, the Soviet Union was arguably more socially and domestically wholesome than the West. For better or worse, we helped destroy it.

    Read More
  22. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer
    @doxahoxaq
    Sounds like an interesting man; his death is a real loss.

    But wow, that cold warrior stuff doesn't look that great today, it's like pop music that's aged badly. So Pournelle's idea (unimplemented) was to use the Saudi airforce to take over Albania?! Obviously, air-power wars require some foot soldiers too, and I wonder what kinds of shock troops would have invaded? It's all quite reminiscent of Zbigniew Brzezinski's plan (implemented) to arm the mujaheddeen, the proto-Taliban, and we all know how THAT turned out!

    Honestly, seen in the light of day, the Cold War was pretty ridiculous: the US was ALLIED with Stalin (sure, circumstances, but still!) and then supported the proto-Taliban against... Brezhnev and Gorbachev?! I'm no Stalinist, but life weren't so bad under either of those guys. Certainly a lot better than under Yeltsin! Plus, no one in history did more than the Soviets to modernize central Asian Muslims!

    I'm no Maoist, but Hoxha did a lot to reduce the power of fundamentalists in Albania, briefly banning, I think, public religious practice itself. And Pournelle would have preferred to call in the whacko Muslim extremists instead, in order to prop up a "rightful king of the Albanians?" In 1776, at the dawn of America's rise, the US elite knew no king had a right to rule. In the sunset of America's postwar decline, the US government flipped, backing tons of fundamentalists in the Middle East, allying scimitar and mosque in a marriage from hell. All so the king could rule as a suzerain of US imperialism.

    De mortuis nihil nisi bonum is a good idea, and I personally feel a sense of regret at the death of a man such as Pournelle, whom I hadn't even read, much less known. So this stuff isn't personal. So requiescat in pace. It's political. The US government has taken the Muslim world's wacky raw material of fundamentalists and armed them to the teeth (cf. Syria) and wrecked societies to do so, causing the deaths of many more than one man.

    I know many of the readers of this (fascinating!) blog are right-wing and the Cold War religion remains strong in some: or to put it another way, there's no stronger doxa than attacking men like Hoxha! But just as (usually) guys proudly claim they've been red-pilled about PC stuff or gender or "human rights" imperialism today, I'd encourage them to question some of the "Cold War as holy crusade for freedom" stuff.
    Ask for yourself whether 1970s socialism, with its bureaucrats and drabness (compared to good-ol US music videos!) was really WORSE than revitalized medieval nut-jobs. During the Cold War, the US state routinely backed the most backward elements of society, to prop up mullahs who'd prop up kings. Dictators and clerics! No thanks! So using a modern idiom, I'd admonish some of this blog's readers... to uncuck yourselves, worshipers of Reagan among ye! (He's just a stand-in; I'm using him as a stand-in for all postwar presidents.)

    These sorts of critiques are ahistorical. Historical and political developments are contingent. Strategies are developed and effected according to specific moments in time. They aren’t and can’t be made according to some standard or development in some future.

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  23. Oh my!

    “Fathers with higher genetic quality produce sperm with smaller head nuclei – a higher proportion of Y sperm – and go on to produce more sons than daughters,” explains Malo, adding that he study has helped “open the gates of a new research area.”

    https://www.studyfinds.org/fathers-sex-children-gender/

    Read More
  24. TG says:

    Many comments on Larry Niven’s politics, which have been described as ‘the to the right of Attila the Hun.’ I disagree. Certainly he was too much old-school cold-warrior for my tastes (but then I grew up after Hitler and Stalin, maybe if I had been around then I would have felt differently). He would argue vigorously that the United States needed better close-air support aircraft to fight in places like Afghanistan for a variety of techno-wonkish reasons, but could never accept that maybe we should just not be fighting there at all.

    Still, the thing I like about Pournelle is that yes, he was a conservative and believed in markets and a natural aristocracy etc. But he held back from the extremism of an Ayn Rand or the Koch brothers or the Bushes and Clintons and Obama (yes really ,Nobel Peace Prize winning Barack Obama, advocate of eternal pointless winless wars and bankrupting main street to bail out main street – sit back and let the big dog eat, big money is all, that’s Obama for you) etc., and always felt that the market was not God, and had to be leavened with concern for the health of the entire society.

    “…while laissez faire capitalism appears to be the most productive way to allocate resources, unregulated capitalism inevitably leads to the sale of human flesh in the market place.” I think this is one of his favorite quotes, he certainly used it a lot.

    For all his faults Jerry Pournelle understood at the end of the day a healthy society cannot be just a capitalist jungle. So many modern conservatives and so-called liberals who talk pretty but in their actions are identical twins, refuse to acknowledge this.

    RIP Mr. Pournelle, and condolences to the family.

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  25. Vinteuil says:
    @Intelligent Dasein

    Yet modern people seem to be losing interest in the vast subject of the Cold War. Without clear-cut ethnic divisions into good guys and bad guys, as in World War II, 21st-century Americans are finding the notion of a vast struggle over ideas complex and tedious.
     
    I'm not getting this. The Cold War was an immense military standoff between two fearsomely armed superpowers, each one trying to prevent the other from achieving total world domination. It wasn't just a dispute over politico-economic systems. In my experience, the people who hold the latter view have all been urbane liberals of the professorial or A&E sort, who seem to derive a sort of cynical satisfaction (or at least a sense of dramatic tension) from criticizing the "folly" of the politicians who would bring the world to the brink of nuclear holocaust over their silly economic differences.

    However, it seems to me that in order to hold that opinion, one would have to normalize every other aspect of the conflict. You would have to assume that this whole great body of armaments---gigantic standing armies, ICBMs, nuclear submarines, stealth bombers, spy satellites, ruthless intelligence agencies, relentless propaganda---all this was just the ordinary accoutrement of a modern nation. Nothing unusual about them. Their existence was no more remarkable than the brass buttons on the general's coat. The really curious thing (so they think) is that all this material has been pressed into the service of some crazy economic argument.

    But isn't it ironic that those who hold the opinion that the Cold War was essentially about ideas (which would presumably include Pournelle and Reagan themselves) exert all their tactical energies in the opposite direction? They make a deliberate point of fighting "the battle of ideas" with unabashed military escalation. I think an important secret is hidden here. There is a worldview characteristic of these times---our times---which contains an assumption so deep and implicit that it never rises into consciousness, but is there in the background conditioning our every response. It is the assumption that everything that happens in the world really is about ideas. Such a view would naturally see the whole military history of the Cold War as something that existed just for the sake of those ideas, as a set piece in which the battle of ideas could play out. Notice, too, that a self-evident preponderance of military-industrial capacity is also a necessary feature of many types of science fiction. The Cold War and SciFi, they grew up together.

    That this view is not the only one possible is something not very often mentioned, but if it is indeed changing then the prospect of war in the future becomes much more likely. "What have I to do with ideas," sayeth a future Caesar. "What are these weapons for but to be used?" On that day there will be no more economic disputes and no more space operas written, for all that a man thinks or cares about will be summed up in his actions. In its final redaction, the Cold War will be seen as the prelude to the age of great individuals who made the world their spoil.

    Was it not foreseen? Was it not, deep down, desired?

    Sorry, dude: this one gets a C-minus.

    “I’m not getting this.”

    Wow, what a surprise.

    “In my experience, the people who hold the latter view…”

    What two views are you talking about? Which one is the “latter?”

    “…urbane liberals of the professorial or A&E sort, who seem to derive a sort of cynical satisfaction (or at least a sense of dramatic tension) from criticizing the ‘folly’ of the politicians who would bring the world to the brink of nuclear holocaust over their silly economic differences…”

    OK, at this point you seem to have flown the coop into some private world of your own, complete with your own private language.

    And so on & so forth.

    Is that you, Brian?

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  26. I’m surprised, Steve, that neither you nor any of your readers have yet noted how very satisfying it is that Jerry Pournelle and Stefan Possony were occasional co-authors.
    Why? Because Possony was not only another magnificent Cold Warrior, he was a race realist when it was still possible to be so unapologetically. He and Nathaniel Weyl wrote one of the earliest, and best, popular books on the topic, The Geography of Intellect. It came out in 1963, and I can still remember the enthusiasm with which I, aged fifteen, devoured its contents. The consistently high place assigned to the Jews didn’t sit too well with me, however, and I was sardonically amused when I learned upon inquiry (so much more time-consuming then than now) that the authors were both members of that undoubtedly clever if not perhaps particularly creative race.

    A book to savour, nevertheless.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    Right, in my Taki's review of economic historian Gregory Clark's book of surname analysis, I wrote

    Professor Clark’s surname research techniques aren’t terribly new. The 1963 book The Geography of Intellect by the swashbuckling spymasters Nathaniel Weyl and Stefan T. Possony (sci-fi author Jerry Pournelle’s mentor in the espionage game) introduced most of the methodologies.


    http://takimag.com/article/give_it_up_psmithe_steves_sailer/print#axzz4sQi6ndZz
    , @Jack D
    Weyl was 1/2 Jewish (and in his younger days 100% Communist), so sorta.

    Possony chose to spend eternity in a non-denominational cemetery (same one where Steve Jobs is planted in an unmarked grave) - he (like a lot of Austrian Jews) was not very observant of Jewish customs.

    As for not creative, Mendelssohn, Chagall, Bernstein, Gershwin, etc., etc. might beg to differ.
  27. Abe says: • Website
    @doxahoxaq
    Sounds like an interesting man; his death is a real loss.

    But wow, that cold warrior stuff doesn't look that great today, it's like pop music that's aged badly. So Pournelle's idea (unimplemented) was to use the Saudi airforce to take over Albania?! Obviously, air-power wars require some foot soldiers too, and I wonder what kinds of shock troops would have invaded? It's all quite reminiscent of Zbigniew Brzezinski's plan (implemented) to arm the mujaheddeen, the proto-Taliban, and we all know how THAT turned out!

    Honestly, seen in the light of day, the Cold War was pretty ridiculous: the US was ALLIED with Stalin (sure, circumstances, but still!) and then supported the proto-Taliban against... Brezhnev and Gorbachev?! I'm no Stalinist, but life weren't so bad under either of those guys. Certainly a lot better than under Yeltsin! Plus, no one in history did more than the Soviets to modernize central Asian Muslims!

    I'm no Maoist, but Hoxha did a lot to reduce the power of fundamentalists in Albania, briefly banning, I think, public religious practice itself. And Pournelle would have preferred to call in the whacko Muslim extremists instead, in order to prop up a "rightful king of the Albanians?" In 1776, at the dawn of America's rise, the US elite knew no king had a right to rule. In the sunset of America's postwar decline, the US government flipped, backing tons of fundamentalists in the Middle East, allying scimitar and mosque in a marriage from hell. All so the king could rule as a suzerain of US imperialism.

    De mortuis nihil nisi bonum is a good idea, and I personally feel a sense of regret at the death of a man such as Pournelle, whom I hadn't even read, much less known. So this stuff isn't personal. So requiescat in pace. It's political. The US government has taken the Muslim world's wacky raw material of fundamentalists and armed them to the teeth (cf. Syria) and wrecked societies to do so, causing the deaths of many more than one man.

    I know many of the readers of this (fascinating!) blog are right-wing and the Cold War religion remains strong in some: or to put it another way, there's no stronger doxa than attacking men like Hoxha! But just as (usually) guys proudly claim they've been red-pilled about PC stuff or gender or "human rights" imperialism today, I'd encourage them to question some of the "Cold War as holy crusade for freedom" stuff.
    Ask for yourself whether 1970s socialism, with its bureaucrats and drabness (compared to good-ol US music videos!) was really WORSE than revitalized medieval nut-jobs. During the Cold War, the US state routinely backed the most backward elements of society, to prop up mullahs who'd prop up kings. Dictators and clerics! No thanks! So using a modern idiom, I'd admonish some of this blog's readers... to uncuck yourselves, worshipers of Reagan among ye! (He's just a stand-in; I'm using him as a stand-in for all postwar presidents.)

    Zbigniew Brzezinski’s plan (implemented) to arm the mujaheddeen, the proto-Taliban, and we all know how THAT turned out!

    It turned out swell, actually. The USSR’s own Vietnam was a significant contributor to Soviet demoralization in the 80′s. It strikes me as borderline insane that jerk-offs like Michael Moore managed to (through nothing better than monomaniac hammering of their Big Lie) convince a good deal of people that 9/11 was direct, tangible blowback from US policies in Afghanistan 15 years earlier (through, what?, the advanced boxcutter training that only a state actor like the Taliban could provide?) and that, even if it were, it was still not an absurdly cheap price to pay for total victory in the Cold War.

    Plus, no one in history did more than the Soviets to modernize central Asian Muslims!

    Again, who cares? Islamic terrorism is an opportunistic disease that only effects us because we keep choosing to let it do so. As the Metternich of our age, open to profound geopolitical insights because he is the black child of a single mother used to like saying, ISIS and al Qaeda are not ‘existential threats’ to the United States. No amount of candlelight vigils, however, was going to undo the hurt a Khrushchev could deliver.

    Read More
    • Replies: @neutral
    See my comment above, the fact that you consider a non Westerner the "Metternich of our age" already shows just how utterly irrelevant the "Cold War" was.
    , @doxahoxaq
    My apologies for this long response, which will be my final word on the matter. Again, may Mr. Pournelle rest in peace. It's a sad day when a good man dies.

    Michael Moore? He didn't originate the blowback thesis. But Brezinski and Orrin Hatch, (Senate Intelligence Committee member involved in funding the Proto-Taliban) seem to believe blowback was real... and worth it.

    After all, Brezinski, (Trilateral Commission's founder and Mika's dad!!), (in)famously asked: "[w]hat was more important in the world view of history? The Taliban or the fall of the Soviet Empire? A few stirred up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?"

    I say we give the Cold Warrior his due! Brzezinski was right to highlight the need for a world-historical perspective. Yet somehow, Brzezinski, scion of Polish aristocrats, seemed less interested in World History and altogether more concerned with the restored fortunes of intermarium capitalists on the one hand, and the strength of the American Empire on the other.

    And who today can read the "a few stirred up Muslims" remark in the spirit of equanimity in which Brezinski delivered it?

    Certainly, Al Qaeda didn't need the Taliban to learn how to use box cutters. (Although they did let Al Qaeda set up lots of training camps: presumably they were up to something in there!) Cute formulae can't elucidate the Cold War Islamism nexus.
    Ultimately, the US backed dozens upon dozens of whackjob Muslims groups in order to "fight the commies." (This is the point I strove to make about Pournelle's "Liberate Albania" remark in my original comment.) Therefore, the Cold War and the rise of Islamism are connected. The US hated secular-minded nationalists (up to present day in Syria); instead, it chose the extremist Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to be its second best regional allies. The KSA is truly a Frankenstein creation - dead political and cultural forms, revived and stitched together artificially, with petrodollars and Cold War power politics. And the KSA's political and economic hegemony, on a regional level, led to a cultural hegemony for extremist Islam. As such, the KSA was a natural milieu for Al Qaeda to develop in.
    Therefore, Pournelle's "Liberate Albania" remarks have to be understood in this broader Cold War context, of US imperialism backing all sorts of reactionary social forces in order to beat the commies.

    So it was all worth it? To paraphrase Kennedy, fund any death squad in Latin America, support any terrorist group in the Middle East, as long as neoliberal capitalism emerges triumphant in Eastern Europe? Because that's basically the Brezinski argument. Following that line of thought, I'm supposed to sleep better knowing that, say, Lithuanians and Uzbeks no longer feel the yoke of Gorbachev on their neck. That's the Cold Warrior mentality! If it inspires you, that's your affair, but it leaves me... cold!

    Anyway, we all know that the end of the Cold War didn't end to the peace and reduced military spending we were promised. Had the Cold War's end meant durable peace between its erstwhile protagonists, maybe Brezinski's argument might sound better. Maybe for some, "it would have been worth it."

    But what did the US do once it beat the damn pinko commies? It helped get a drunk clown elected in Russia who oafishly stood by while Russia's assets were dismantled and shipped west, while former nomenklatura became London-based oligarchs. Then, after a pause, the US re-booted the Cold War right back up again! (And Trump's gone right along. ) The Taliban's victory weakened the USSR, contributing to a US victory in the Cold War. But this victory did not bring peace. Rather, it laid the seeds for an even more dangerous Cold War. Today, I submit that the US state won't rest until Russia has been color revolutioned or even partitioned, allowing the US to prevent China, Russia and the EU from developing into a natural economic unit. The end of the Cold War removed the world's sole brake on US worldwide imperial ambitions - a scary thing indeed!

    Say what you will about existential threats. Muslim extremists and the US war on terror, which feed each other, are today an existential threat for millions. And the rise of the national security state is an existential threat for rights and liberties. But that's a discussion for another day.

    Finally, I don't recall mentioning Khrushchev. Lenin wasn't Stalin; Stalin wasn't Khrushchev; Khrushchev wasn't Brezhnev, and Brezhnev wasn't Gorbachev. I don't intend to nitpick, but my point was push back against the notion that "life under Brezhnev was a daily Orwellian nightmare, thank God Eastern Europe is capitalist now!" That's not a thoughtful opinion, it's just a warmed-over paraphrase of the catechism of the former US state religion of anti-Communism.

    Again, let me apologize for the lengthy comments; I'll refrain from making further on these matters, lest the discussion veer too far from the sad matter at hand: the death of Mr. Pournelle.
  28. @Tiny Duck
    Sad but we must remember he was a racist and misogynist

    http://www.metafilter.com/169317/Closing-down-Chaos-Manor

    Guys like this are why, when I veered away from comics and into Grown-up Books as an adolescent, I went more for horror and noir than sci-fi and fantasy. I hate all this crap. White republican military fetishists who watch the History Channel and want to build a wall. Who needs them.

    Horror and noir being, of course, the two most conservative schools of genre fiction. Masterful trolling, sir.

    Keep it up, and Sailer might mention you by name again!

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  29. neutral says:

    I have to admit that I have never heard of this man until now. What I want to know if this cold war warrior was aware of the Camp of the Saints ? Why I ask this is because I view the cold war as the false war, this “east vs west” conflict was an easy and safe alternative to the more profoundly important “global north vs global south” conflict. Instead of fighting the culture war battles such as mass immigration, civil rights and all the other things that have shaped our world, they instead cared about non thorny distant foreign enemies that really did not pose a great threat to society. This practice continues to this day, but the third world triumph is so complete that even the bastions of cold war warriors such as the CIA can no longer avoid the encroachment of the forces they so clearly have ignored (see Sailers recent article on the CIA here).

    If he and Sailer knew each other, I am curious if he ever did mention anything to what I have raised here, that the third world overwhelming the West and not the USSR was the real issue.

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  30. Anon7 says:

    I read the great Pournelle/Niven collaborations when they came out, Mote in God’s Eye, Lucifer’s Hammer, Footfall, Oath of Fealty. Fealty is another novel about a technological people versus the crime-ridden, feral mob (Los Angeles), also included crazy leftist ecoterrorists.

    I met him once by chance at an internet conference; he looked like a distinguished anthropologist at a tribal gathering, carrying several bags of trinkets, gifts from the natives, I guess. I enjoyed speaking with him.

    I’ll really miss the thrill of finding another of his new novels at my local bookstore. Nicely done piece, Steve.

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    • Replies: @cthulhu
    Oath of Fealty is a good one. I got my copy signed by both Niven and Pournelle; later that evening, I ended up getting (more) drunk with Niven while he was trying to separate me - unsuccessfully - from the girl I was with at the time. Did not have the opportunity to hang out with Pournelle though.
  31. neutral says:
    @Abe

    Zbigniew Brzezinski’s plan (implemented) to arm the mujaheddeen, the proto-Taliban, and we all know how THAT turned out!
     
    It turned out swell, actually. The USSR's own Vietnam was a significant contributor to Soviet demoralization in the 80's. It strikes me as borderline insane that jerk-offs like Michael Moore managed to (through nothing better than monomaniac hammering of their Big Lie) convince a good deal of people that 9/11 was direct, tangible blowback from US policies in Afghanistan 15 years earlier (through, what?, the advanced boxcutter training that only a state actor like the Taliban could provide?) and that, even if it were, it was still not an absurdly cheap price to pay for total victory in the Cold War.

    Plus, no one in history did more than the Soviets to modernize central Asian Muslims!
     
    Again, who cares? Islamic terrorism is an opportunistic disease that only effects us because we keep choosing to let it do so. As the Metternich of our age, open to profound geopolitical insights because he is the black child of a single mother used to like saying, ISIS and al Qaeda are not 'existential threats' to the United States. No amount of candlelight vigils, however, was going to undo the hurt a Khrushchev could deliver.

    See my comment above, the fact that you consider a non Westerner the “Metternich of our age” already shows just how utterly irrelevant the “Cold War” was.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Abe

    See my comment above, the fact that you consider a non Westerner the “Metternich of our age” already shows just how utterly irrelevant the “Cold War” was.
     
    *grumble* (sarcasm) *grumble*

    Let me put it another way:

    1987- Western leaders struggle with the moral dilemma of backing third world autocrats and Latin American death squads in order to thwart the spread of Communist revolution and add to the West's strategic position; thought for the day- how many layers does von Neumann's prisoner's dilemma go?

    2017- Western leaders struggle with the cognitive dissonance of backing third world autocrats to beat up economic migrants before they can get to Western borders (cf. Berlusconi, cf. Merkel) and within camera range of cable news reporters and white girl NGO-lifers; thought for the day- is out-sourcing control of your borders to meaner members of the coalition of the diverse white privilege squared, or white privilege square-rooted?

    , @Lurker
    Abe was obviously being ironic.
  32. doxahoxaq says:
    @Abe

    Zbigniew Brzezinski’s plan (implemented) to arm the mujaheddeen, the proto-Taliban, and we all know how THAT turned out!
     
    It turned out swell, actually. The USSR's own Vietnam was a significant contributor to Soviet demoralization in the 80's. It strikes me as borderline insane that jerk-offs like Michael Moore managed to (through nothing better than monomaniac hammering of their Big Lie) convince a good deal of people that 9/11 was direct, tangible blowback from US policies in Afghanistan 15 years earlier (through, what?, the advanced boxcutter training that only a state actor like the Taliban could provide?) and that, even if it were, it was still not an absurdly cheap price to pay for total victory in the Cold War.

    Plus, no one in history did more than the Soviets to modernize central Asian Muslims!
     
    Again, who cares? Islamic terrorism is an opportunistic disease that only effects us because we keep choosing to let it do so. As the Metternich of our age, open to profound geopolitical insights because he is the black child of a single mother used to like saying, ISIS and al Qaeda are not 'existential threats' to the United States. No amount of candlelight vigils, however, was going to undo the hurt a Khrushchev could deliver.

    My apologies for this long response, which will be my final word on the matter. Again, may Mr. Pournelle rest in peace. It’s a sad day when a good man dies.

    Michael Moore? He didn’t originate the blowback thesis. But Brezinski and Orrin Hatch, (Senate Intelligence Committee member involved in funding the Proto-Taliban) seem to believe blowback was real… and worth it.

    After all, Brezinski, (Trilateral Commission’s founder and Mika’s dad!!), (in)famously asked: “[w]hat was more important in the world view of history? The Taliban or the fall of the Soviet Empire? A few stirred up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?”

    I say we give the Cold Warrior his due! Brzezinski was right to highlight the need for a world-historical perspective. Yet somehow, Brzezinski, scion of Polish aristocrats, seemed less interested in World History and altogether more concerned with the restored fortunes of intermarium capitalists on the one hand, and the strength of the American Empire on the other.

    And who today can read the “a few stirred up Muslims” remark in the spirit of equanimity in which Brezinski delivered it?

    Certainly, Al Qaeda didn’t need the Taliban to learn how to use box cutters. (Although they did let Al Qaeda set up lots of training camps: presumably they were up to something in there!) Cute formulae can’t elucidate the Cold War Islamism nexus.
    Ultimately, the US backed dozens upon dozens of whackjob Muslims groups in order to “fight the commies.” (This is the point I strove to make about Pournelle’s “Liberate Albania” remark in my original comment.) Therefore, the Cold War and the rise of Islamism are connected. The US hated secular-minded nationalists (up to present day in Syria); instead, it chose the extremist Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to be its second best regional allies. The KSA is truly a Frankenstein creation – dead political and cultural forms, revived and stitched together artificially, with petrodollars and Cold War power politics. And the KSA’s political and economic hegemony, on a regional level, led to a cultural hegemony for extremist Islam. As such, the KSA was a natural milieu for Al Qaeda to develop in.
    Therefore, Pournelle’s “Liberate Albania” remarks have to be understood in this broader Cold War context, of US imperialism backing all sorts of reactionary social forces in order to beat the commies.

    So it was all worth it? To paraphrase Kennedy, fund any death squad in Latin America, support any terrorist group in the Middle East, as long as neoliberal capitalism emerges triumphant in Eastern Europe? Because that’s basically the Brezinski argument. Following that line of thought, I’m supposed to sleep better knowing that, say, Lithuanians and Uzbeks no longer feel the yoke of Gorbachev on their neck. That’s the Cold Warrior mentality! If it inspires you, that’s your affair, but it leaves me… cold!

    Anyway, we all know that the end of the Cold War didn’t end to the peace and reduced military spending we were promised. Had the Cold War’s end meant durable peace between its erstwhile protagonists, maybe Brezinski’s argument might sound better. Maybe for some, “it would have been worth it.”

    But what did the US do once it beat the damn pinko commies? It helped get a drunk clown elected in Russia who oafishly stood by while Russia’s assets were dismantled and shipped west, while former nomenklatura became London-based oligarchs. Then, after a pause, the US re-booted the Cold War right back up again! (And Trump’s gone right along. ) The Taliban’s victory weakened the USSR, contributing to a US victory in the Cold War. But this victory did not bring peace. Rather, it laid the seeds for an even more dangerous Cold War. Today, I submit that the US state won’t rest until Russia has been color revolutioned or even partitioned, allowing the US to prevent China, Russia and the EU from developing into a natural economic unit. The end of the Cold War removed the world’s sole brake on US worldwide imperial ambitions – a scary thing indeed!

    Say what you will about existential threats. Muslim extremists and the US war on terror, which feed each other, are today an existential threat for millions. And the rise of the national security state is an existential threat for rights and liberties. But that’s a discussion for another day.

    Finally, I don’t recall mentioning Khrushchev. Lenin wasn’t Stalin; Stalin wasn’t Khrushchev; Khrushchev wasn’t Brezhnev, and Brezhnev wasn’t Gorbachev. I don’t intend to nitpick, but my point was push back against the notion that “life under Brezhnev was a daily Orwellian nightmare, thank God Eastern Europe is capitalist now!” That’s not a thoughtful opinion, it’s just a warmed-over paraphrase of the catechism of the former US state religion of anti-Communism.

    Again, let me apologize for the lengthy comments; I’ll refrain from making further on these matters, lest the discussion veer too far from the sad matter at hand: the death of Mr. Pournelle.

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    • Replies: @Jack D
    In the Cold War, the US took its allies where it could find them. In Saudi Arabia they went for the Islamists but in Iran they backed the secularist shah (and lost).

    Islamism exists as a reaction to the failures of modernity and the failure of the Muslim masses to adapt to modernity (and not because of US backing). If modernity (which is some respects is synonymous with American culture) means having your women go out in public half naked and sleep with random strangers, they don't want it and it's sort of hard to blame them for not wanting it. If Western culture had stayed where it was pre-WWI, then I think the Muslims could have made a smoother transition to modernity but instead the Western Overton window has shifted so far to the decadent left that Muslims will never buy into it.

    Likewise, the US didn't (and still doesn't) prevent China and Russia and the EU from forming a "natural economic unit". These folks naturally hate each other enough on their own and don't need the US to keep them from joining in a blissful union. Communist China's estrangement from Communist Russia occurred with no input from the US. The only kind of "economic unit" that would have ever been possible would have been one involving Soviet tanks from the English Channel to the South China Sea - something Stalin would not have minded if he could have pulled it off but it would be hard to call such a shotgun marriage "natural".

    Life under Brezhnev was certainly better than life under Stalin but the apparatus of the Soviet state existed almost until the very end. The day before the Berlin Wall fell, there were still armed guards and mined death strips, etc. which made the entire Soviet empire the world's biggest open air prison camp.
  33. @Old Palo Altan
    I'm surprised, Steve, that neither you nor any of your readers have yet noted how very satisfying it is that Jerry Pournelle and Stefan Possony were occasional co-authors.
    Why? Because Possony was not only another magnificent Cold Warrior, he was a race realist when it was still possible to be so unapologetically. He and Nathaniel Weyl wrote one of the earliest, and best, popular books on the topic, The Geography of Intellect. It came out in 1963, and I can still remember the enthusiasm with which I, aged fifteen, devoured its contents. The consistently high place assigned to the Jews didn't sit too well with me, however, and I was sardonically amused when I learned upon inquiry (so much more time-consuming then than now) that the authors were both members of that undoubtedly clever if not perhaps particularly creative race.

    A book to savour, nevertheless.

    Right, in my Taki’s review of economic historian Gregory Clark’s book of surname analysis, I wrote

    Professor Clark’s surname research techniques aren’t terribly new. The 1963 book The Geography of Intellect by the swashbuckling spymasters Nathaniel Weyl and Stefan T. Possony (sci-fi author Jerry Pournelle’s mentor in the espionage game) introduced most of the methodologies.

    http://takimag.com/article/give_it_up_psmithe_steves_sailer/print#axzz4sQi6ndZz

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    • Replies: @Old Palo Altan
    Come on Steve - I can't be expected to remember all the way back to 2014, not at my age anyway.
    I've just read the article, and now do remember having read it back then.

    Does Clark, modestly, fail to inform his readers that Clark, too, is one of those names consistently over-represented amongst the great and the good?

  34. inertial says:
    @Lot
    Anyone have a nice short story they can suggest? I don't like scifi enough for a novel.

    Try Inferno. It’s not really sci-fi but a retelling of Dante. And it’s relatively short.

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  35. @anonymous-antimarxist

    If you ever want to explain to anybody why Carson was a better interviewer than all the current hosts on late-night television, just show them these pages.
     
    I could never watch any of the later generation talk show hosts cause they could never generate the sense of intimacy and especially male camaraderie that Carson could.

    Many of the interviews with close friends like Jimmy Stewart and Tony Randall were really moving. Carson's ability to get an elderly Stewart to open up about his struggles overcoming sexual shyness as a young man was especially revealing.

    For those to young to remember Carson, start with his Youtube channel.

    As far as the Jimmy Fallon and rest of the current crop of big time network talk show hosts there are any number of youtube based interviewers who are vastly superior to them.

    Interestingly, Carson himself was an exceedingly private man.

    Carson always thought that Letterman should have taken over his time slot on NBC. He once did a cameo on Letterman’s CBS show, tacitly “blessing” Letterman as his successor, but never appeared on Leno’s show. In later years, he even went so far as to submit jokes for Letterman.

    For the first couple of years, Letterman trounced Leno soundly in the ratings, but then the latter grabbed the lead and never lost it. The key turning points were a) Letterman’s disastrous stint as Oscars host and b) Leno’s famous interview with Hugh Grant.

    (One night, Grant went out looking for a hooker; he ended up in jail. His first public appearance after the arrest was on the Tonight Show. Leno opened the interview by demanding, “What the hell were you thinking?”)

    If you’re looking for a good read on the bitter battle that erupted between Leno and Letterman in the wake of Carson’s retirement, check out The Late Shift by … Google it. (Years later, the same author wrote a sequel chronicling the Conan fiasco.)

    The book was made into an HBO movie. (Yes, they had a hard time casting the Leno and Letterman roles.)

    Leno owed (and shall always owe) his Tonight Show gig to Helen Kushnick, his ball-busting, foul-mouthed manager. (Kathy Bates played her in the movie.) She shamed Carson into retiring early by planting stories in the papers that NBC wanted him out. (As an f-you to the network, he went to a routine industry gathering and abruptly made a surprise announcement that he was leaving at the end of the next season. His own bosses, sitting in the audience, were floored.)

    Kushnick got her boy Leno the job. Shortly thereafter, she destroyed her own career – and almost wrecked his, as well – by taking over the show and running it into the ground. In the end, Leno gave her the shaft, cutting off all contact despite a deathbed promise (“I’ll always be there”) he had made to her late husband. He didn’t even go to her funeral.

    The NBC suits botched the Carson/Leno transition and utterly destroyed their long-frosty relationship with Letterman, whose show had followed Carson’s for nearly a decade. On the day that Leno was announced as Carson’s successor, Letterman didn’t get so much as a courtesy call.

    (Courtesy calls are important. Carson famously shunned Joan Rivers, his longtime substitute, after she failed to give him advance warning that she was jumping to Fox to become his competitor. On the day of the announcement, he hung up on her when she tried to call him. They never spoke again. Her show, incidentally, was such a horrendous flop that the resulting stress drove her husband to off himself.)

    As Leno struggled to find his groove, other networks began courting Letterman openly. Before too long, CBS emerged as the leading suitor. (The network’s campaign was led by Howard Stringer, who later became a top executive at Sony.)

    At one point, late in the game, NBC came close to dumping Leno and giving Letterman what he really wanted – the Tonight Show – to keep him from jumping to CBS. (The deal was so shaky – Letterman would have had to wait 18 months and would have ended up with only a fraction of the money that CBS was offering – that even Carson advised him not to take it.)

    With his own career twisting in the wind, Leno learned that a key meeting would be held by conference call in a particular room. He hid in a closet and eavesdropped on the proceedings, taking copious notes.

    In the end, Leno kept his job, and held the ratings crown for most of his tenure. (He never earned the critics’ respect – he was always that goofy joke-teller with the chin deformity.) But Letterman didn’t exactly wash out of television as an abject failure. After Leno took the lead in 1995, the closest Letterman came to retaking it was during the short-lived Conan era.

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  36. Abe says: • Website
    @neutral
    See my comment above, the fact that you consider a non Westerner the "Metternich of our age" already shows just how utterly irrelevant the "Cold War" was.

    See my comment above, the fact that you consider a non Westerner the “Metternich of our age” already shows just how utterly irrelevant the “Cold War” was.

    *grumble* (sarcasm) *grumble*

    Let me put it another way:

    1987- Western leaders struggle with the moral dilemma of backing third world autocrats and Latin American death squads in order to thwart the spread of Communist revolution and add to the West’s strategic position; thought for the day- how many layers does von Neumann’s prisoner’s dilemma go?

    2017- Western leaders struggle with the cognitive dissonance of backing third world autocrats to beat up economic migrants before they can get to Western borders (cf. Berlusconi, cf. Merkel) and within camera range of cable news reporters and white girl NGO-lifers; thought for the day- is out-sourcing control of your borders to meaner members of the coalition of the diverse white privilege squared, or white privilege square-rooted?

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  37. Dave Pinsen says: • Website
    @doxahoxaq
    Sounds like an interesting man; his death is a real loss.

    But wow, that cold warrior stuff doesn't look that great today, it's like pop music that's aged badly. So Pournelle's idea (unimplemented) was to use the Saudi airforce to take over Albania?! Obviously, air-power wars require some foot soldiers too, and I wonder what kinds of shock troops would have invaded? It's all quite reminiscent of Zbigniew Brzezinski's plan (implemented) to arm the mujaheddeen, the proto-Taliban, and we all know how THAT turned out!

    Honestly, seen in the light of day, the Cold War was pretty ridiculous: the US was ALLIED with Stalin (sure, circumstances, but still!) and then supported the proto-Taliban against... Brezhnev and Gorbachev?! I'm no Stalinist, but life weren't so bad under either of those guys. Certainly a lot better than under Yeltsin! Plus, no one in history did more than the Soviets to modernize central Asian Muslims!

    I'm no Maoist, but Hoxha did a lot to reduce the power of fundamentalists in Albania, briefly banning, I think, public religious practice itself. And Pournelle would have preferred to call in the whacko Muslim extremists instead, in order to prop up a "rightful king of the Albanians?" In 1776, at the dawn of America's rise, the US elite knew no king had a right to rule. In the sunset of America's postwar decline, the US government flipped, backing tons of fundamentalists in the Middle East, allying scimitar and mosque in a marriage from hell. All so the king could rule as a suzerain of US imperialism.

    De mortuis nihil nisi bonum is a good idea, and I personally feel a sense of regret at the death of a man such as Pournelle, whom I hadn't even read, much less known. So this stuff isn't personal. So requiescat in pace. It's political. The US government has taken the Muslim world's wacky raw material of fundamentalists and armed them to the teeth (cf. Syria) and wrecked societies to do so, causing the deaths of many more than one man.

    I know many of the readers of this (fascinating!) blog are right-wing and the Cold War religion remains strong in some: or to put it another way, there's no stronger doxa than attacking men like Hoxha! But just as (usually) guys proudly claim they've been red-pilled about PC stuff or gender or "human rights" imperialism today, I'd encourage them to question some of the "Cold War as holy crusade for freedom" stuff.
    Ask for yourself whether 1970s socialism, with its bureaucrats and drabness (compared to good-ol US music videos!) was really WORSE than revitalized medieval nut-jobs. During the Cold War, the US state routinely backed the most backward elements of society, to prop up mullahs who'd prop up kings. Dictators and clerics! No thanks! So using a modern idiom, I'd admonish some of this blog's readers... to uncuck yourselves, worshipers of Reagan among ye! (He's just a stand-in; I'm using him as a stand-in for all postwar presidents.)

    But wow, that cold warrior stuff doesn’t look that great today, it’s like pop music that’s aged badly. So Pournelle’s idea (unimplemented) was to use the Saudi airforce to take over Albania?! Obviously, air-power wars require some foot soldiers too, and I wonder what kinds of shock troops would have invaded? It’s all quite reminiscent of Zbigniew Brzezinski’s plan (implemented) to arm the mujaheddeen, the proto-Taliban, and we all know how THAT turned out!

    In hindsight it looks pretty bad, but in the late ’60s, Islamic terrorism, and Islam in general, weren’t really top of mind. Terrorism, even by Arabs, was predominantly leftwing. The Palestinian terror groups, for example, like the PLO and PFLP were secular leftist ones. This was largely true in the ’70s as well. For example, the hijacking of the Air France plane that led to the Entebbe raid was by Palestinian and German leftists.

    Also, judging by Steve’s comments about The Mote novel being an immigration metaphor, it sounds like Pournelle wasn’t a fan of mass immigration, particularly of Muslims.

    No doubt the defeat of the Soviets in Afghanistan sparked the growth of Al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism, but the two bigger factors were the spike in population in the Muslim world (probably due in part to Norman Borlaug’s Green Revolution), and open borders in the West.

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    • Replies: @Jack D
    The 3 biggest factors in Islamism were and are Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia.

    Saudi Arabia is sort of like the Beverly Hillbillies writ large, if the Beverly Hillbillies put religious matters in the hand of their snake handling, speaking in tongues uncle. It is absolutely mind boggling that we have sent these folks trillions of $ (a small but significant portion of which has been used to fund the spread of Islamic fundamentalism). At the beginning we could have bought out the whole Saudi royal family for a couple of Studebakers and a Victrola and they would have considered themselves to have gotten the better end of the deal.

    Speaking of which, it occurs to me that in the Beverly Hillbillies (and actually all of the '50s/'60s sitcoms) there is no hint of any religion - it's as if religion doesn't exist. They talk about religion even less than they mention sex.

  38. cthulhu says:
    @Anon7
    I read the great Pournelle/Niven collaborations when they came out, Mote in God's Eye, Lucifer's Hammer, Footfall, Oath of Fealty. Fealty is another novel about a technological people versus the crime-ridden, feral mob (Los Angeles), also included crazy leftist ecoterrorists.

    I met him once by chance at an internet conference; he looked like a distinguished anthropologist at a tribal gathering, carrying several bags of trinkets, gifts from the natives, I guess. I enjoyed speaking with him.

    I'll really miss the thrill of finding another of his new novels at my local bookstore. Nicely done piece, Steve.

    Oath of Fealty is a good one. I got my copy signed by both Niven and Pournelle; later that evening, I ended up getting (more) drunk with Niven while he was trying to separate me – unsuccessfully – from the girl I was with at the time. Did not have the opportunity to hang out with Pournelle though.

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  39. Jack D says:
    @Old Palo Altan
    I'm surprised, Steve, that neither you nor any of your readers have yet noted how very satisfying it is that Jerry Pournelle and Stefan Possony were occasional co-authors.
    Why? Because Possony was not only another magnificent Cold Warrior, he was a race realist when it was still possible to be so unapologetically. He and Nathaniel Weyl wrote one of the earliest, and best, popular books on the topic, The Geography of Intellect. It came out in 1963, and I can still remember the enthusiasm with which I, aged fifteen, devoured its contents. The consistently high place assigned to the Jews didn't sit too well with me, however, and I was sardonically amused when I learned upon inquiry (so much more time-consuming then than now) that the authors were both members of that undoubtedly clever if not perhaps particularly creative race.

    A book to savour, nevertheless.

    Weyl was 1/2 Jewish (and in his younger days 100% Communist), so sorta.

    Possony chose to spend eternity in a non-denominational cemetery (same one where Steve Jobs is planted in an unmarked grave) – he (like a lot of Austrian Jews) was not very observant of Jewish customs.

    As for not creative, Mendelssohn, Chagall, Bernstein, Gershwin, etc., etc. might beg to differ.

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    • Replies: @Old Palo Altan
    Mendelssohn was a believing Christian, Chagall a faux naif, Bernstein a decadent grandstander, and Gershwin not even a Franz Lehar, much less, say, a Richard Strauss.
    And even if all of them were towering geniuses, it remains a very unimpressive list compared to ...well, the entire corpus of Western civilisation.

    Anyway, read the book. You'll like it.

  40. inertial says:

    Also, judging by Steve’s comments about The Mote novel being an immigration metaphor

    For Steve, everything is an immigration metaphor. From what I remember of the novel (and the sequel,) the humans worried about an old-fashioned, WWII-style invasion. Are Moties as peaceful as they appear, or do they secretly pack a punch?

    Read More
    • Replies: @Lurker
    The real threat of the Moties seemed to be the catastrophic implications of their biology/fertility rather than their technology. Which sounds a lot like our issues with immigration.
  41. Jack D says:
    @Dave Pinsen

    But wow, that cold warrior stuff doesn’t look that great today, it’s like pop music that’s aged badly. So Pournelle’s idea (unimplemented) was to use the Saudi airforce to take over Albania?! Obviously, air-power wars require some foot soldiers too, and I wonder what kinds of shock troops would have invaded? It’s all quite reminiscent of Zbigniew Brzezinski’s plan (implemented) to arm the mujaheddeen, the proto-Taliban, and we all know how THAT turned out!
     
    In hindsight it looks pretty bad, but in the late '60s, Islamic terrorism, and Islam in general, weren't really top of mind. Terrorism, even by Arabs, was predominantly leftwing. The Palestinian terror groups, for example, like the PLO and PFLP were secular leftist ones. This was largely true in the '70s as well. For example, the hijacking of the Air France plane that led to the Entebbe raid was by Palestinian and German leftists.

    Also, judging by Steve's comments about The Mote novel being an immigration metaphor, it sounds like Pournelle wasn't a fan of mass immigration, particularly of Muslims.

    No doubt the defeat of the Soviets in Afghanistan sparked the growth of Al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism, but the two bigger factors were the spike in population in the Muslim world (probably due in part to Norman Borlaug's Green Revolution), and open borders in the West.

    The 3 biggest factors in Islamism were and are Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia.

    Saudi Arabia is sort of like the Beverly Hillbillies writ large, if the Beverly Hillbillies put religious matters in the hand of their snake handling, speaking in tongues uncle. It is absolutely mind boggling that we have sent these folks trillions of $ (a small but significant portion of which has been used to fund the spread of Islamic fundamentalism). At the beginning we could have bought out the whole Saudi royal family for a couple of Studebakers and a Victrola and they would have considered themselves to have gotten the better end of the deal.

    Speaking of which, it occurs to me that in the Beverly Hillbillies (and actually all of the ’50s/’60s sitcoms) there is no hint of any religion – it’s as if religion doesn’t exist. They talk about religion even less than they mention sex.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Dave Pinsen
    We should have never let the Saudis nationalize Aramco.
  42. @doxahoxaq
    Sounds like an interesting man; his death is a real loss.

    But wow, that cold warrior stuff doesn't look that great today, it's like pop music that's aged badly. So Pournelle's idea (unimplemented) was to use the Saudi airforce to take over Albania?! Obviously, air-power wars require some foot soldiers too, and I wonder what kinds of shock troops would have invaded? It's all quite reminiscent of Zbigniew Brzezinski's plan (implemented) to arm the mujaheddeen, the proto-Taliban, and we all know how THAT turned out!

    Honestly, seen in the light of day, the Cold War was pretty ridiculous: the US was ALLIED with Stalin (sure, circumstances, but still!) and then supported the proto-Taliban against... Brezhnev and Gorbachev?! I'm no Stalinist, but life weren't so bad under either of those guys. Certainly a lot better than under Yeltsin! Plus, no one in history did more than the Soviets to modernize central Asian Muslims!

    I'm no Maoist, but Hoxha did a lot to reduce the power of fundamentalists in Albania, briefly banning, I think, public religious practice itself. And Pournelle would have preferred to call in the whacko Muslim extremists instead, in order to prop up a "rightful king of the Albanians?" In 1776, at the dawn of America's rise, the US elite knew no king had a right to rule. In the sunset of America's postwar decline, the US government flipped, backing tons of fundamentalists in the Middle East, allying scimitar and mosque in a marriage from hell. All so the king could rule as a suzerain of US imperialism.

    De mortuis nihil nisi bonum is a good idea, and I personally feel a sense of regret at the death of a man such as Pournelle, whom I hadn't even read, much less known. So this stuff isn't personal. So requiescat in pace. It's political. The US government has taken the Muslim world's wacky raw material of fundamentalists and armed them to the teeth (cf. Syria) and wrecked societies to do so, causing the deaths of many more than one man.

    I know many of the readers of this (fascinating!) blog are right-wing and the Cold War religion remains strong in some: or to put it another way, there's no stronger doxa than attacking men like Hoxha! But just as (usually) guys proudly claim they've been red-pilled about PC stuff or gender or "human rights" imperialism today, I'd encourage them to question some of the "Cold War as holy crusade for freedom" stuff.
    Ask for yourself whether 1970s socialism, with its bureaucrats and drabness (compared to good-ol US music videos!) was really WORSE than revitalized medieval nut-jobs. During the Cold War, the US state routinely backed the most backward elements of society, to prop up mullahs who'd prop up kings. Dictators and clerics! No thanks! So using a modern idiom, I'd admonish some of this blog's readers... to uncuck yourselves, worshipers of Reagan among ye! (He's just a stand-in; I'm using him as a stand-in for all postwar presidents.)

    Brezhnev and Gorbachev?! I’m no Stalinist, but life weren’t so bad under either of those guys.

    Did you live in the Soviet Union under them? The recitation of life under them, and conveyed to me by an emigre that came over during their reign, was of a dark time, full of misery, and fear, with nothing to cheer them but the memory of the achievements of a once great empire.

    Read the Gulag Archipelago and then get back to us.

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    • Replies: @Jack D
    Life in the Soviet Union was never great but the Gulag Archipelago is set in the time of Stalin. While the Soviet Union remained a police state, the camp apparatus with its millions of prisoners was largely dismantled by the Brezhnev era. In contemporary terms, Stalin era Russia was like North Korea today while Brezhnev Russia was closer to Cuba today. Still lousy but there are degrees of lousy.

    Part of what made the Brezhnev USSR so grim was that by the end, hardly anyone still believed in the cause, even (especially) those that were in charge. In the Stalin era, a lot of people still believed that all the hardship was worth it because they were giving birth to a new society that would someday be better than all the societies that came before. By Brezhnev is was clear that it was all going nowhere and the dream was impossible and would never be realized.

    The people of Russia and the Communist Party were sort of stuck in this failed marriage and no one quite knew how to get out of it. The usual way is a bloody revolution - you have to give Gorbachev (and Yeltsin) credit for pulling off a relatively bloodless transition.
  43. Jack D says:
    @doxahoxaq
    My apologies for this long response, which will be my final word on the matter. Again, may Mr. Pournelle rest in peace. It's a sad day when a good man dies.

    Michael Moore? He didn't originate the blowback thesis. But Brezinski and Orrin Hatch, (Senate Intelligence Committee member involved in funding the Proto-Taliban) seem to believe blowback was real... and worth it.

    After all, Brezinski, (Trilateral Commission's founder and Mika's dad!!), (in)famously asked: "[w]hat was more important in the world view of history? The Taliban or the fall of the Soviet Empire? A few stirred up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?"

    I say we give the Cold Warrior his due! Brzezinski was right to highlight the need for a world-historical perspective. Yet somehow, Brzezinski, scion of Polish aristocrats, seemed less interested in World History and altogether more concerned with the restored fortunes of intermarium capitalists on the one hand, and the strength of the American Empire on the other.

    And who today can read the "a few stirred up Muslims" remark in the spirit of equanimity in which Brezinski delivered it?

    Certainly, Al Qaeda didn't need the Taliban to learn how to use box cutters. (Although they did let Al Qaeda set up lots of training camps: presumably they were up to something in there!) Cute formulae can't elucidate the Cold War Islamism nexus.
    Ultimately, the US backed dozens upon dozens of whackjob Muslims groups in order to "fight the commies." (This is the point I strove to make about Pournelle's "Liberate Albania" remark in my original comment.) Therefore, the Cold War and the rise of Islamism are connected. The US hated secular-minded nationalists (up to present day in Syria); instead, it chose the extremist Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to be its second best regional allies. The KSA is truly a Frankenstein creation - dead political and cultural forms, revived and stitched together artificially, with petrodollars and Cold War power politics. And the KSA's political and economic hegemony, on a regional level, led to a cultural hegemony for extremist Islam. As such, the KSA was a natural milieu for Al Qaeda to develop in.
    Therefore, Pournelle's "Liberate Albania" remarks have to be understood in this broader Cold War context, of US imperialism backing all sorts of reactionary social forces in order to beat the commies.

    So it was all worth it? To paraphrase Kennedy, fund any death squad in Latin America, support any terrorist group in the Middle East, as long as neoliberal capitalism emerges triumphant in Eastern Europe? Because that's basically the Brezinski argument. Following that line of thought, I'm supposed to sleep better knowing that, say, Lithuanians and Uzbeks no longer feel the yoke of Gorbachev on their neck. That's the Cold Warrior mentality! If it inspires you, that's your affair, but it leaves me... cold!

    Anyway, we all know that the end of the Cold War didn't end to the peace and reduced military spending we were promised. Had the Cold War's end meant durable peace between its erstwhile protagonists, maybe Brezinski's argument might sound better. Maybe for some, "it would have been worth it."

    But what did the US do once it beat the damn pinko commies? It helped get a drunk clown elected in Russia who oafishly stood by while Russia's assets were dismantled and shipped west, while former nomenklatura became London-based oligarchs. Then, after a pause, the US re-booted the Cold War right back up again! (And Trump's gone right along. ) The Taliban's victory weakened the USSR, contributing to a US victory in the Cold War. But this victory did not bring peace. Rather, it laid the seeds for an even more dangerous Cold War. Today, I submit that the US state won't rest until Russia has been color revolutioned or even partitioned, allowing the US to prevent China, Russia and the EU from developing into a natural economic unit. The end of the Cold War removed the world's sole brake on US worldwide imperial ambitions - a scary thing indeed!

    Say what you will about existential threats. Muslim extremists and the US war on terror, which feed each other, are today an existential threat for millions. And the rise of the national security state is an existential threat for rights and liberties. But that's a discussion for another day.

    Finally, I don't recall mentioning Khrushchev. Lenin wasn't Stalin; Stalin wasn't Khrushchev; Khrushchev wasn't Brezhnev, and Brezhnev wasn't Gorbachev. I don't intend to nitpick, but my point was push back against the notion that "life under Brezhnev was a daily Orwellian nightmare, thank God Eastern Europe is capitalist now!" That's not a thoughtful opinion, it's just a warmed-over paraphrase of the catechism of the former US state religion of anti-Communism.

    Again, let me apologize for the lengthy comments; I'll refrain from making further on these matters, lest the discussion veer too far from the sad matter at hand: the death of Mr. Pournelle.

    In the Cold War, the US took its allies where it could find them. In Saudi Arabia they went for the Islamists but in Iran they backed the secularist shah (and lost).

    Islamism exists as a reaction to the failures of modernity and the failure of the Muslim masses to adapt to modernity (and not because of US backing). If modernity (which is some respects is synonymous with American culture) means having your women go out in public half naked and sleep with random strangers, they don’t want it and it’s sort of hard to blame them for not wanting it. If Western culture had stayed where it was pre-WWI, then I think the Muslims could have made a smoother transition to modernity but instead the Western Overton window has shifted so far to the decadent left that Muslims will never buy into it.

    Likewise, the US didn’t (and still doesn’t) prevent China and Russia and the EU from forming a “natural economic unit”. These folks naturally hate each other enough on their own and don’t need the US to keep them from joining in a blissful union. Communist China’s estrangement from Communist Russia occurred with no input from the US. The only kind of “economic unit” that would have ever been possible would have been one involving Soviet tanks from the English Channel to the South China Sea – something Stalin would not have minded if he could have pulled it off but it would be hard to call such a shotgun marriage “natural”.

    Life under Brezhnev was certainly better than life under Stalin but the apparatus of the Soviet state existed almost until the very end. The day before the Berlin Wall fell, there were still armed guards and mined death strips, etc. which made the entire Soviet empire the world’s biggest open air prison camp.

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  44. Dave Pinsen says: • Website
    @Jack D
    The 3 biggest factors in Islamism were and are Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia and Saudi Arabia.

    Saudi Arabia is sort of like the Beverly Hillbillies writ large, if the Beverly Hillbillies put religious matters in the hand of their snake handling, speaking in tongues uncle. It is absolutely mind boggling that we have sent these folks trillions of $ (a small but significant portion of which has been used to fund the spread of Islamic fundamentalism). At the beginning we could have bought out the whole Saudi royal family for a couple of Studebakers and a Victrola and they would have considered themselves to have gotten the better end of the deal.

    Speaking of which, it occurs to me that in the Beverly Hillbillies (and actually all of the '50s/'60s sitcoms) there is no hint of any religion - it's as if religion doesn't exist. They talk about religion even less than they mention sex.

    We should have never let the Saudis nationalize Aramco.

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  45. Anonymous says: • Disclaimer

    The space alien invasion hypothetical is not very illustrative. The hypothetical supposedly shows that states will necessarily band together because they’re humans or earthlings or whatever, but the assumption is that the aliens will destroy the entire earth. It’s self-interest, rather than some common identification with other states because they’re fellow humans or earthlings. It’s easy to think of hypotheticals that refute this. For example, if some space aliens had offered to destroy Russia for the Nazis in exchange for some Russian timber or whatever, then it’s easy to see how the Nazis would take that deal.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Jack D
    One of the reasons that a small # of whites were able to defeat the more numerous indigenous peoples of the Americas was that over and over they were able to ally with one Indian group against the other. There was never any notion among the Indians of "lets all unite and fight the white invaders".
    , @Corn
    "For example, if some space aliens had offered to destroy Russia for the Nazis in exchange for some Russian timber or whatever, then it’s easy to see how the Nazis would take that deal."

    In Pournelle's book Footfall, when the aliens invade Earth they actually sign treaties of alliance with several African countries and do try to split First World Earth from Third World Earth.
  46. snorlax says:
    @doxahoxaq
    Sounds like an interesting man; his death is a real loss.

    But wow, that cold warrior stuff doesn't look that great today, it's like pop music that's aged badly. So Pournelle's idea (unimplemented) was to use the Saudi airforce to take over Albania?! Obviously, air-power wars require some foot soldiers too, and I wonder what kinds of shock troops would have invaded? It's all quite reminiscent of Zbigniew Brzezinski's plan (implemented) to arm the mujaheddeen, the proto-Taliban, and we all know how THAT turned out!

    Honestly, seen in the light of day, the Cold War was pretty ridiculous: the US was ALLIED with Stalin (sure, circumstances, but still!) and then supported the proto-Taliban against... Brezhnev and Gorbachev?! I'm no Stalinist, but life weren't so bad under either of those guys. Certainly a lot better than under Yeltsin! Plus, no one in history did more than the Soviets to modernize central Asian Muslims!

    I'm no Maoist, but Hoxha did a lot to reduce the power of fundamentalists in Albania, briefly banning, I think, public religious practice itself. And Pournelle would have preferred to call in the whacko Muslim extremists instead, in order to prop up a "rightful king of the Albanians?" In 1776, at the dawn of America's rise, the US elite knew no king had a right to rule. In the sunset of America's postwar decline, the US government flipped, backing tons of fundamentalists in the Middle East, allying scimitar and mosque in a marriage from hell. All so the king could rule as a suzerain of US imperialism.

    De mortuis nihil nisi bonum is a good idea, and I personally feel a sense of regret at the death of a man such as Pournelle, whom I hadn't even read, much less known. So this stuff isn't personal. So requiescat in pace. It's political. The US government has taken the Muslim world's wacky raw material of fundamentalists and armed them to the teeth (cf. Syria) and wrecked societies to do so, causing the deaths of many more than one man.

    I know many of the readers of this (fascinating!) blog are right-wing and the Cold War religion remains strong in some: or to put it another way, there's no stronger doxa than attacking men like Hoxha! But just as (usually) guys proudly claim they've been red-pilled about PC stuff or gender or "human rights" imperialism today, I'd encourage them to question some of the "Cold War as holy crusade for freedom" stuff.
    Ask for yourself whether 1970s socialism, with its bureaucrats and drabness (compared to good-ol US music videos!) was really WORSE than revitalized medieval nut-jobs. During the Cold War, the US state routinely backed the most backward elements of society, to prop up mullahs who'd prop up kings. Dictators and clerics! No thanks! So using a modern idiom, I'd admonish some of this blog's readers... to uncuck yourselves, worshipers of Reagan among ye! (He's just a stand-in; I'm using him as a stand-in for all postwar presidents.)

    The Albanian royal family (pictured below sometime in the 90′s in South Africa, to which they had moved after Rhodesia…), is about as Muslim as Obama is Christian. Same with Albanians in general in my experience; they have their issues and then some, but for reasons other than religion.

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    • Replies: @Romanian
    My people have their sympathies towards Albanians, but Kosovo has been badly Wahhabized.
  47. @Lurker
    I was hoping we we were going to hear about Jerry's career as an ice skater.

    I never heard that story.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Lurker
    I was certain it was something you had alluded to years ago, on an earlier incarnation of iSteve!
  48. Poignant and heartfelt; thanks, Steve.

    I remember reading Lucifer’s Hammer circa 1984ish during summer break from college; definitely could not put it down and started my interest in the sci-fi apocalypse genre. I will have to pick up Mote now and read it.

    I do find the idea behind Janissaries fascinating; I remember Dan Carlin tangentially discussing something similar about how through most of human history, you could take an army from one era, say Ceasar and his legions or Alexander and his Macedonians, and they could easily hold their own against a medieval Carolingian army, and possibly easily beat them. Or maybe a Parthian calvary army of Cataphracts and pit them against a Ghengis Khan Horde army of similar size. Beginning with Napoleon, maybe earlier with massed artillery, something qualitatively changed. A Napoleanic army could dominant any army from the past. Then, take an American Civil War army (North or South) and they could defeat or draw Napoleon; then a 1916 German, French or British Army would destroy any army of the past, including Napolean’s. The key driver in that was the lethality of technology; killing power of modern ballistic weapons and explosives compared to the old horse/bow or hand/sword method. Intriguing indeed.

    Mr. Pournelle will be missed.

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    You see a slow increase in technology, such as the Mongol compound bow, the English longbow, the counterweight trebuchet, and the long development of gunpowder weapons.

    I presume the invention of the printing press in the mid 15th century was the inflection point. After that, ideas didn't get lost very often and could spread very rapidly. For example, a nerdy Jewish kid like Trotsky could read a bunch of books on how to organize an army and then win the biggest civil war ever.

  49. @Captain Tripps
    Poignant and heartfelt; thanks, Steve.

    I remember reading Lucifer's Hammer circa 1984ish during summer break from college; definitely could not put it down and started my interest in the sci-fi apocalypse genre. I will have to pick up Mote now and read it.

    I do find the idea behind Janissaries fascinating; I remember Dan Carlin tangentially discussing something similar about how through most of human history, you could take an army from one era, say Ceasar and his legions or Alexander and his Macedonians, and they could easily hold their own against a medieval Carolingian army, and possibly easily beat them. Or maybe a Parthian calvary army of Cataphracts and pit them against a Ghengis Khan Horde army of similar size. Beginning with Napoleon, maybe earlier with massed artillery, something qualitatively changed. A Napoleanic army could dominant any army from the past. Then, take an American Civil War army (North or South) and they could defeat or draw Napoleon; then a 1916 German, French or British Army would destroy any army of the past, including Napolean's. The key driver in that was the lethality of technology; killing power of modern ballistic weapons and explosives compared to the old horse/bow or hand/sword method. Intriguing indeed.

    Mr. Pournelle will be missed.

    You see a slow increase in technology, such as the Mongol compound bow, the English longbow, the counterweight trebuchet, and the long development of gunpowder weapons.

    I presume the invention of the printing press in the mid 15th century was the inflection point. After that, ideas didn’t get lost very often and could spread very rapidly. For example, a nerdy Jewish kid like Trotsky could read a bunch of books on how to organize an army and then win the biggest civil war ever.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Jack D
    The Industrial Revolution bent the innovation curve for military technology the same as it did for all other technology. From prehistoric times until the beginning of the 19th century, the speed at which an army could move remained exactly the same. The distance that you could fire a projectile got a little longer, but not much. But then the curve starts to bend upward in an exponential fashion. The Civil War is an inflection point where the bend in the curve becomes really noticeable.

    The Industrial Revolution is more important than the printing press. Even though anyone could read up on the latest military tactics or inventions for the first 300 years after Gutenberg, not that much changes until you get the rifle bore cannon, the steam engine, explosive shells, etc.
    , @Dave Pinsen
    The printing press as an inflection point is an interesting idea. Certainly, the spread of ideas was key. E.g., the Portuguese viceroy in India, Afonso de Albuquerque, knew about the success of Swiss infantry methods and wrote back to Lisbon asking for officers trained in those methods. And he gets them. And uses them to help conquer the key port in Southeast Asia.
    , @snorlax

    then win the biggest civil war ever.
     
    Very sorry to be "that guy," but the Taiping Rebellion was bigger. You could certainly make a case that the Russian Civil War was the most consequential ever, although I would rank it behind the English and the American. (Or fourth if the American Revolution is thought of as a civil war).
  50. Jack D says:
    @Anonymous
    The space alien invasion hypothetical is not very illustrative. The hypothetical supposedly shows that states will necessarily band together because they're humans or earthlings or whatever, but the assumption is that the aliens will destroy the entire earth. It's self-interest, rather than some common identification with other states because they're fellow humans or earthlings. It's easy to think of hypotheticals that refute this. For example, if some space aliens had offered to destroy Russia for the Nazis in exchange for some Russian timber or whatever, then it's easy to see how the Nazis would take that deal.

    One of the reasons that a small # of whites were able to defeat the more numerous indigenous peoples of the Americas was that over and over they were able to ally with one Indian group against the other. There was never any notion among the Indians of “lets all unite and fight the white invaders”.

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  51. Jack D says:
    @Charles Erwin Wilson

    Brezhnev and Gorbachev?! I’m no Stalinist, but life weren’t so bad under either of those guys.
     
    Did you live in the Soviet Union under them? The recitation of life under them, and conveyed to me by an emigre that came over during their reign, was of a dark time, full of misery, and fear, with nothing to cheer them but the memory of the achievements of a once great empire.

    Read the Gulag Archipelago and then get back to us.

    Life in the Soviet Union was never great but the Gulag Archipelago is set in the time of Stalin. While the Soviet Union remained a police state, the camp apparatus with its millions of prisoners was largely dismantled by the Brezhnev era. In contemporary terms, Stalin era Russia was like North Korea today while Brezhnev Russia was closer to Cuba today. Still lousy but there are degrees of lousy.

    Part of what made the Brezhnev USSR so grim was that by the end, hardly anyone still believed in the cause, even (especially) those that were in charge. In the Stalin era, a lot of people still believed that all the hardship was worth it because they were giving birth to a new society that would someday be better than all the societies that came before. By Brezhnev is was clear that it was all going nowhere and the dream was impossible and would never be realized.

    The people of Russia and the Communist Party were sort of stuck in this failed marriage and no one quite knew how to get out of it. The usual way is a bloody revolution – you have to give Gorbachev (and Yeltsin) credit for pulling off a relatively bloodless transition.

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  52. Jack D says:
    @Steve Sailer
    You see a slow increase in technology, such as the Mongol compound bow, the English longbow, the counterweight trebuchet, and the long development of gunpowder weapons.

    I presume the invention of the printing press in the mid 15th century was the inflection point. After that, ideas didn't get lost very often and could spread very rapidly. For example, a nerdy Jewish kid like Trotsky could read a bunch of books on how to organize an army and then win the biggest civil war ever.

    The Industrial Revolution bent the innovation curve for military technology the same as it did for all other technology. From prehistoric times until the beginning of the 19th century, the speed at which an army could move remained exactly the same. The distance that you could fire a projectile got a little longer, but not much. But then the curve starts to bend upward in an exponential fashion. The Civil War is an inflection point where the bend in the curve becomes really noticeable.

    The Industrial Revolution is more important than the printing press. Even though anyone could read up on the latest military tactics or inventions for the first 300 years after Gutenberg, not that much changes until you get the rifle bore cannon, the steam engine, explosive shells, etc.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Tyrion

    The Industrial Revolution is more important than the printing press. Even though anyone could read up on the latest military tactics or inventions for the first 300 years after Gutenberg, not that much changes until you get the rifle bore cannon, the steam engine, explosive shells, etc.
     
    The pre-industrial Revolution application of gunpowder to warfare was a big deal. It completely inverted the nomad v settled peoples power relationship that had determined so many huge historical events.

    The use of iron, of rideable horses and even the domestication of the camel also all had world-map redrawing effects.
    , @Charles Erwin Wilson II
    Well, okay Jack. But that wasn't what I heard from my friend. She insisted that no one was safe in the Soviet Union she left. And we have a host of fellow "citizens" who want the Stalinist model in the USA. If you tell them your story, they won't believe that it will apply here. Here, we really can drink the Jim Jones Cool-Aid and utopia will follow.
  53. I think you’re both right. The printing press enabled ideas to be preserved, transmitted and disseminated to a mass audience, and facilitated the Renaissance/Enlightenment growth of literacy. Growing literacy enabled a large semi-skilled workforce to emerge in The Industrial Revolution, and other cultural/demographic trends (mass primary education, improving health and sanitation, enabling large family growth and a population boom in the industrializing world) all kind of coalesced more or less simultaneously into the exponential curve you described. I believe that was a common underlying theme of James Burke’s “Connections” series.

    Napoleon understood that combining lots of artillery with a mass conscript citizen army unleashed a whole new potential for warfare. Hence his famous (or probably apocryphally attributed) sayings:

    “You cannot stop me. I spend 30,000 lives a month.”

    “In warfare, quantity has a quality all its own.”

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  54. res says:

    The Industrial Revolution bent the innovation curve for military technology the same as it did for all other technology.

    Did it ever. Looking at roughly 50 year intervals we have:

    Seven Years’ War of 1756–63
    Napoleonic Wars
    American Civil War
    World War I

    The first two almost the same technologically then off to the races. And it just kept accelerating from there.

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  55. Tyrion says:
    @Jack D
    The Industrial Revolution bent the innovation curve for military technology the same as it did for all other technology. From prehistoric times until the beginning of the 19th century, the speed at which an army could move remained exactly the same. The distance that you could fire a projectile got a little longer, but not much. But then the curve starts to bend upward in an exponential fashion. The Civil War is an inflection point where the bend in the curve becomes really noticeable.

    The Industrial Revolution is more important than the printing press. Even though anyone could read up on the latest military tactics or inventions for the first 300 years after Gutenberg, not that much changes until you get the rifle bore cannon, the steam engine, explosive shells, etc.

    The Industrial Revolution is more important than the printing press. Even though anyone could read up on the latest military tactics or inventions for the first 300 years after Gutenberg, not that much changes until you get the rifle bore cannon, the steam engine, explosive shells, etc.

    The pre-industrial Revolution application of gunpowder to warfare was a big deal. It completely inverted the nomad v settled peoples power relationship that had determined so many huge historical events.

    The use of iron, of rideable horses and even the domestication of the camel also all had world-map redrawing effects.

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  56. Olorin says:
    @Dieter Kief
    Reagan, Gorbachev, Steve Sailer and - Jerry Pournelle - - who had once been a communist and later became a republican, thus somewhat prefiguring the productive Gorbachev-Reagan relationship. Very insightful. Very interesting. Moving. My heartfelt condolences.

    Is Lucifer's Hammer Pournelle's best book?

    Don’t know about “best,” but certainly one I return to in my own thoughts again and again.

    I was more captivated by The Mote in God’s Eye.

    Still, it would be interesting to survey ARRL to see how many of us got serious about shortwave after reading Lucifer’s Hammer.

    It’s not uncommon to hear references to Stronghold in discussions of W1AW…nor the current state of legislation involving his comfy mufflers.

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  57. @Jack D
    Weyl was 1/2 Jewish (and in his younger days 100% Communist), so sorta.

    Possony chose to spend eternity in a non-denominational cemetery (same one where Steve Jobs is planted in an unmarked grave) - he (like a lot of Austrian Jews) was not very observant of Jewish customs.

    As for not creative, Mendelssohn, Chagall, Bernstein, Gershwin, etc., etc. might beg to differ.

    Mendelssohn was a believing Christian, Chagall a faux naif, Bernstein a decadent grandstander, and Gershwin not even a Franz Lehar, much less, say, a Richard Strauss.
    And even if all of them were towering geniuses, it remains a very unimpressive list compared to …well, the entire corpus of Western civilisation.

    Anyway, read the book. You’ll like it.

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  58. @Steve Sailer
    Right, in my Taki's review of economic historian Gregory Clark's book of surname analysis, I wrote

    Professor Clark’s surname research techniques aren’t terribly new. The 1963 book The Geography of Intellect by the swashbuckling spymasters Nathaniel Weyl and Stefan T. Possony (sci-fi author Jerry Pournelle’s mentor in the espionage game) introduced most of the methodologies.


    http://takimag.com/article/give_it_up_psmithe_steves_sailer/print#axzz4sQi6ndZz

    Come on Steve – I can’t be expected to remember all the way back to 2014, not at my age anyway.
    I’ve just read the article, and now do remember having read it back then.

    Does Clark, modestly, fail to inform his readers that Clark, too, is one of those names consistently over-represented amongst the great and the good?

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  59. Corn says:
    @Anonymous
    The space alien invasion hypothetical is not very illustrative. The hypothetical supposedly shows that states will necessarily band together because they're humans or earthlings or whatever, but the assumption is that the aliens will destroy the entire earth. It's self-interest, rather than some common identification with other states because they're fellow humans or earthlings. It's easy to think of hypotheticals that refute this. For example, if some space aliens had offered to destroy Russia for the Nazis in exchange for some Russian timber or whatever, then it's easy to see how the Nazis would take that deal.

    “For example, if some space aliens had offered to destroy Russia for the Nazis in exchange for some Russian timber or whatever, then it’s easy to see how the Nazis would take that deal.”

    In Pournelle’s book Footfall, when the aliens invade Earth they actually sign treaties of alliance with several African countries and do try to split First World Earth from Third World Earth.

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  60. Dave Pinsen says: • Website
    @Steve Sailer
    You see a slow increase in technology, such as the Mongol compound bow, the English longbow, the counterweight trebuchet, and the long development of gunpowder weapons.

    I presume the invention of the printing press in the mid 15th century was the inflection point. After that, ideas didn't get lost very often and could spread very rapidly. For example, a nerdy Jewish kid like Trotsky could read a bunch of books on how to organize an army and then win the biggest civil war ever.

    The printing press as an inflection point is an interesting idea. Certainly, the spread of ideas was key. E.g., the Portuguese viceroy in India, Afonso de Albuquerque, knew about the success of Swiss infantry methods and wrote back to Lisbon asking for officers trained in those methods. And he gets them. And uses them to help conquer the key port in Southeast Asia.

    Read More
    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    For many of the last 500 years, there were as many working printing presses on the Spanish island of Guam in the middle of the Pacific as in the entire Muslim world (one).
  61. snorlax says:
    @Steve Sailer
    You see a slow increase in technology, such as the Mongol compound bow, the English longbow, the counterweight trebuchet, and the long development of gunpowder weapons.

    I presume the invention of the printing press in the mid 15th century was the inflection point. After that, ideas didn't get lost very often and could spread very rapidly. For example, a nerdy Jewish kid like Trotsky could read a bunch of books on how to organize an army and then win the biggest civil war ever.

    then win the biggest civil war ever.

    Very sorry to be “that guy,” but the Taiping Rebellion was bigger. You could certainly make a case that the Russian Civil War was the most consequential ever, although I would rank it behind the English and the American. (Or fourth if the American Revolution is thought of as a civil war).

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    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    I was thinking of "biggest" in terms of land area. The Russian civil war was the largest in that sense, with the most spectacular advances and fallbacks in military history, with frontlines changing over a 1000 kilometers multiple times on multiple fronts.
  62. @snorlax

    then win the biggest civil war ever.
     
    Very sorry to be "that guy," but the Taiping Rebellion was bigger. You could certainly make a case that the Russian Civil War was the most consequential ever, although I would rank it behind the English and the American. (Or fourth if the American Revolution is thought of as a civil war).

    I was thinking of “biggest” in terms of land area. The Russian civil war was the largest in that sense, with the most spectacular advances and fallbacks in military history, with frontlines changing over a 1000 kilometers multiple times on multiple fronts.

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    • Replies: @snorlax
    I’ll give you that one, although I’m armed and ready to keep the pedantry going indefinitely... ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Division_of_the_Mongol_Empire )
  63. @Dave Pinsen
    The printing press as an inflection point is an interesting idea. Certainly, the spread of ideas was key. E.g., the Portuguese viceroy in India, Afonso de Albuquerque, knew about the success of Swiss infantry methods and wrote back to Lisbon asking for officers trained in those methods. And he gets them. And uses them to help conquer the key port in Southeast Asia.

    For many of the last 500 years, there were as many working printing presses on the Spanish island of Guam in the middle of the Pacific as in the entire Muslim world (one).

    Read More
    • Replies: @Dave Pinsen
    And even today, IIRC, Spain translates more books per year than the Arab world.
  64. snorlax says:
    @Steve Sailer
    I was thinking of "biggest" in terms of land area. The Russian civil war was the largest in that sense, with the most spectacular advances and fallbacks in military history, with frontlines changing over a 1000 kilometers multiple times on multiple fronts.

    I’ll give you that one, although I’m armed and ready to keep the pedantry going indefinitely… ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Division_of_the_Mongol_Empire )

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  65. Romanian says: • Website
    @snorlax
    The Albanian royal family (pictured below sometime in the 90's in South Africa, to which they had moved after Rhodesia...), is about as Muslim as Obama is Christian. Same with Albanians in general in my experience; they have their issues and then some, but for reasons other than religion.

    http://www.albanianroyalcourt.al/pages/Images/Resized/2v05wfdip0da7lq2fsyy_580_856_S_70.jpg

    My people have their sympathies towards Albanians, but Kosovo has been badly Wahhabized.

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    • Replies: @snorlax
    The same groups often develop very different psychological profiles as majorities in their own country vs when they're minorities under foreign rule. Romanians vs Moldovans; Scots vs Ulster Scots vs Scots-Irish Americans; Israeli Jews vs American Jews. etc. etc. etc.
  66. Dave Pinsen says: • Website
    @Steve Sailer
    For many of the last 500 years, there were as many working printing presses on the Spanish island of Guam in the middle of the Pacific as in the entire Muslim world (one).

    And even today, IIRC, Spain translates more books per year than the Arab world.

    Read More
  67. Lurker says:
    @Steve Sailer
    I never heard that story.

    I was certain it was something you had alluded to years ago, on an earlier incarnation of iSteve!

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  68. Lurker says:
    @inertial

    Also, judging by Steve’s comments about The Mote novel being an immigration metaphor
     
    For Steve, everything is an immigration metaphor. From what I remember of the novel (and the sequel,) the humans worried about an old-fashioned, WWII-style invasion. Are Moties as peaceful as they appear, or do they secretly pack a punch?

    The real threat of the Moties seemed to be the catastrophic implications of their biology/fertility rather than their technology. Which sounds a lot like our issues with immigration.

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  69. Lurker says:
    @neutral
    See my comment above, the fact that you consider a non Westerner the "Metternich of our age" already shows just how utterly irrelevant the "Cold War" was.

    Abe was obviously being ironic.

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  70. snorlax says:
    @Romanian
    My people have their sympathies towards Albanians, but Kosovo has been badly Wahhabized.

    The same groups often develop very different psychological profiles as majorities in their own country vs when they’re minorities under foreign rule. Romanians vs Moldovans; Scots vs Ulster Scots vs Scots-Irish Americans; Israeli Jews vs American Jews. etc. etc. etc.

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  71. @Jack D
    The Industrial Revolution bent the innovation curve for military technology the same as it did for all other technology. From prehistoric times until the beginning of the 19th century, the speed at which an army could move remained exactly the same. The distance that you could fire a projectile got a little longer, but not much. But then the curve starts to bend upward in an exponential fashion. The Civil War is an inflection point where the bend in the curve becomes really noticeable.

    The Industrial Revolution is more important than the printing press. Even though anyone could read up on the latest military tactics or inventions for the first 300 years after Gutenberg, not that much changes until you get the rifle bore cannon, the steam engine, explosive shells, etc.

    Well, okay Jack. But that wasn’t what I heard from my friend. She insisted that no one was safe in the Soviet Union she left. And we have a host of fellow “citizens” who want the Stalinist model in the USA. If you tell them your story, they won’t believe that it will apply here. Here, we really can drink the Jim Jones Cool-Aid and utopia will follow.

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