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

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

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

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

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

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

After the 1959 revolution:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Way of Awakening is not found in books.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Humanity’s Moral Improvement Through Perpetual Tribal Warfare

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Compare the diffusion of the printing press:

And the current GDP per capita of European regions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Where would you rather be born:

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

Try to be honest (with yourself).

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

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

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

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

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

• Category: Ideology • Tags: American Media, Fascism 
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I do not believe that GDP growth – or the pursuit of wealth in general – ought to be an end in itself. Nonetheless, the fact is that virtually all countries today do consider the production and redistribution of wealth to be a fundamental goal. In this context, GDP per capita (minus wealth from national resources) is a decent proxy for a society’s organizational capacity, which certainly is a very relevant metric in any case.

A particular concern is that heterodox and populist governments, whether leftist or nationalist, tend to be economically incompetent. This would presumably be due to populist movements’ lower human capital (intelligent, prudent, and/or conformist managers avoiding “controversial” movements) and to their emotional intensity and demagogy. One thinks of Britain’s postwar socialist economic stagnation, post-Perón Argentina’s perpetual economic mediocrity, and Venezuela’s current economic collapse.

Leonid Bershidsky has a refreshingly balanced overview in Bloomberg of the economic situation in Hungary under Prime Minister Viktor Orbán – the closest thing we have to an identitarian European leader. Bershidsky says:

When Orban took over in 2010, Hungary was near collapse. The country was soldiering through a Greek-style debt program administered by the International Monetary Fund and the European Union. He moved decisively to clean up the country’s finances, slash the budget deficit from 5.3 percent in 2011 to 2.4 percent in 2012 (it was down to 1.9 percent last year) and pay off the debts to the EU and the IMF, cutting the share of foreign currency-denominated debt. To be able to do that, Orban nationalized Hungary’s private pension funds and raided their cash stash. He introduced a flat 15 percent income tax (which greatly improved collection) and raised value-added tax to 27 percent, the highest rate in the EU. He imposed special taxes on sectors dominated by foreign-owned companies — energy, utilities, finance, telecoms, retail and media — taxing revenue and assets, not profits, to make optimization unfeasible. And he renationalized some key firms to sell them on to Hungarian investors, often to his friends and allies.

According to the latest economic forecast of the European Commission – no friend of the Orbán government – Hungary’s annual economic growth should moderate (as in the rest of Europe) from 4.3% this year to 2.6% in 2020, inflation will remain low, and already remarkably low unemployment of 3.6% will continue to fall to 3.2%. Hungary’s public debt, which peaked at 80.7% in 2011, is projected to fall to 68.6% by 2020. The country maintains healthy budget and current account surpluses.

Compared to other Central European countries such as Poland and Czechia, Hungary has slightly underperformed in recent years in terms of GDP growth. Interestingly, Hungarians’ household debt has considerably declined in recent years, from over 40% of GDP in 2011 to under 20% today, while that of the Poles and Czechs has remained steady. This suggests the frugal finances of Hungarian consumers may have reduced domestic demand and thus growth.

Overall, it would seem that Hungary’s economic performance is well in line with that of the rest of Central Europe, notwithstanding the usual kvetching about the Orbán government’s corruption (although I am in no position to judge whether that is worse than the region’s usual mediocre-to-awful standards). All this suggests that national-populist regimes are economically viable, notwithstanding globalist complaints.

As in everything else, in “patriotic economics” there needs to be an Aristotelian happy mean. Having completely open economic borders means being vulnerable to every economic dysfunction and predatory practice in the rest of the world. Being completely closed means poverty and stagnation relative to the outside world.

With the triumph of the “Washington Consensus” (not to mention what ought to be called the “Brussels Consensus”) in the 1990s, the pendulum clearly swang too heavily in favor of open borders, particularly concerning the free movement of capital. The unlimited free movement of capital means that your economy is now distorted by whatever goes through the minds of the capital-holding investors, who are by no means “rationally omniscient,” but are as prone to fashions, prejudice, and panics as the rest of us. Hence, your economy is liable to get overheated due to excess investment (which, for the investing country, also means your banking sector could now collapse because of economic problems in another country) and international capital runs. If your consumers take loans in a foreign currency, they also risk ruining themselves if the national currency’s value declines significantly, for whatever reason.

In general, increased economic “interdependence” between countries means added complexity and fragility. If anything goes wrong anywhere, it means everything collapses everywhere. Simplicity and antifragility are your friends. Do you really want the global economy to be a game of Jenga?

The recent historical record suggests a moderate regime of “national economics” is best. The Asian Financial Crisis in the 1990s was one example, in which countries resorting to capital controls to kill financial panics recovered most quickly. The more recent Eurozone Crisis has been very instructive in the same sense, stressing the benefit of having a national currency, representing and responsive to local socio-economic conditions, in order to guarantee financial confidence and adjust (devaluation) if necessary.

National currencies and relatively autonomous national financial systems are generally good, because they allow every nation-state to develop and adjust according to its own socio-economic rhythm. Faith in a currency, meaning its value, is a reflection of confidence in a society’s collective ability to redeem that money for actual goods and services. This ability is naturally often misestimated by economic actors and currency fluctuations, ideally not too erratic, are actually a pretty good way to recognize and adjust to this.

Open borders reduce national economic independence and therefore the real republican sovereignty of citizens (hence why classical republicans tended to favor economic autarky). Of course, for some the goal is to limit national sovereignty and encourage “market discipline,” which incidentally is official EU doctrine.

I am instinctively repulsed by this notion. But, to be fair, dependence on international markets is probably why smaller countries tend have more efficient economic policies, on the whole. Larger economies are big enough to maintain their own (often suboptimal) economic choices for longer. Sad but true. The Scandies, Dutch, and Irish – formerly a basket case – adjusted long ago and are thriving, and the Baltic States are probably on a similar path. (Nordicists will of course point out that being small and vulnerable has however not led southern European economies, notably Portugal and Greece, to be particularly prosperous.)

• Category: Economics, Foreign Policy • Tags: EU, Hungary, Nationalism, Neoliberalism 
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Probably the single most important political fact about the modern world has been the steady rise of the United States of America. From a geopolitical point of view, the United States really is in a class of its own. While the Soviet Union might have rivaled the U.S. militarily, and while China and the European Union may be comparable economic giants, no other nation comes even close to having America’s combination of economic, diplomatic, military, cultural, and, increasingly important, surveillance power.

At least since the Second World War, there has been a veritable cottage industry of books predicting America’s supposedly inevitable decline, due either to the myth of American “exceptionalism” or to imperial hubris. In actual fact, one is struck at how steadily America has maintained its global share of power. Despite their economic recovery in the postwar years, the decline of Western Europe and Japan has in fact proved a more fundamental tendency. Russia has only partially recovered from the collapse from the Soviet Union. After decolonization – the collapse of the overseas European empires – in fact virtually none of Third World has been able to organize themselves as influential actors (“Brazil is the country of the future and always will be,” De Gaulle is supposed to have said.) Only capitalist China, it seems, will have the organization, intelligence, and sheer size to decisively overtake the United States economically.

America’s rise began from rather humble beginnings as a string of British colonies, peopled largely by English and other north-west European stock, along the eastern North-American seaboard. A striking fact for me: the U.S., born in 1776, is younger than my village church. At the time of independence, the country was inhabited by less than 3 million people.

America has risen thanks to a winning exponential formula right from the beginning. Already in a famous essay written in 1751 (Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind), Benjamin Franklin was computing that thanks to the economic ease in raising children in America “our people must at least be doubled every twenty years.” Franklin could also already foresee that the free, northern colonies of Anglo-America must overtake the less dynamic slaver colonies of the South:

The Whites who have slaves, not labouring, are enfeebled, and therefore not so generally prolific; the slaves being work d too hard, and ill fed, their constitutions are broken, and the deaths among them are more than the births; so that a continual supply is needed from Africa. The Northern Colonies having few slaves increase in Whites. Slaves also pejorate the Families that use them; the white children become proud, disgusted with labour, and being educated in idleness, are rendered unfit to get a Living by industry.

By simply doing the math, Franklin could also foresee that Anglo-America would demographically overtake England and become a great power within a century (although he did yet imagine that this great power would actually be outside the British Empire):

Thus there are supposed to be now upwards of One Million English Souls in North America, (tho tis thought scarce 80,000 have been brought over sea) . . . This million doubling, suppose but once in twenty-five years, will in another century be more than the people of England, and the greatest Number of Englishmen will be on this side the water. What an accession of Power to the British empire by the Sea as well as Land!

Franklin’s predictions were remarkable. The colonial and then U.S. population did in fact double roughly every 25 years between 1750 and 1870. The population then doubled at a slower place, between 1870 and 1905 (35 years), and 1905 and 1960 (1960). The population is projected to double again between 1960 and 2030 (70 years) to 360 million.

By way of comparison, the population of most European countries doubled or tripled throughout the course of the entire nineteenth century. That of France, by far the largest in Western Europe, actually stagnated despite the Industrial Revolution, somewhat mysteriously. Many blame the Napoleonic Code’s mandatory division of inheritances among children and the French’s bourgeois spirit, preferring to “play it safe” by having few children. In any event, we can never emphasize the reality and importance of France’s relative decline: from being the leading and even culturally hegemonic Western-European state from the late Middle Ages right up to nineteenth-century, to merely one great power among many, and by no means the most powerful one, perpetually vulnerable to German invaders and fickle Anglo-Saxon allies. Demographics certainly is a big chunk of destiny.

All this begs the question: why has America been so successful? I do not claim to have all the answers, but I want to suggest a few possibilities.

America is, or was, above all a nation of European race and Anglo-Saxon culture. Late-medieval European civilization had already been remarkably dynamic and expansive, evident in its technological inventions, its military conquests (the Holy Land, Iberia), its explorations (the Vikings being the first discoverers of North America), trading routes, and its general development and peopling of the European landmass, with the foundation of innumerable new towns and settlements.[1] The Middle Ages marked the gradual movement northwards of civilization and technologies into lands which, prior, had been considered too climactically harsh and cold to sustain anything other than barbarism.

The “European Miracle” or “Great Divergence” between the West and the Rest is also somewhat mysterious. Suffice it to say that Europe became remarkable significantly before the Renaissance. The Europeans, divided in innumerable principalities and city-states, were animated by a enterprising spirit of conquest, trade, exploration, and invention. Hence, it was Europeans with their ships and steel, who rediscovered and conquered America, and explored and conquered much of the rest of the world. One is still astonished to see such small nations – by global comparison – as Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, England, and France circumventing entire continents and bringing vast empires to heel.

The United States was however not merely founded by Europeans, but in particular by the English, who have the distinction of having been one the most dynamic and economically successful of European nations. England, blessed with mostly harmlessly small Celtic neighbors and a crucial little expanse of water between itself and the Continent (a mere 33 kilometers between Dover and Calais!), could develop in relative security develop in a most unique direction. Whereas virtually all European principalities developed, by geopolitical necessity, into military monarchies, England was free to develop into a purely mercantile and naval power.

Whereas political survival on the mainland depended on the state’s coercive ability to raise the men and taxes necessary to a large army, in England this depended instead on the maintenance of a large navy, which itself required an advanced trading economy. The American Founding Fathers were acutely aware of the role of war in the development of Continental despotism and self-consciously made their republic into a counter-model.

Magna Carta: or the king’s subjection to law
Magna Carta: or the king’s subjection to law

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I was recently struck by a video by the French civic nationalist and anti-Zionist Alain Soral. I have to personally credit Soral’s videos, among other things, for breaking the mainstream conditioning which had prevented me from thinking outside of the liberal-egalitarian sandbox, so to speak. Hence, while I am quite critical of important parts of Soral’s thought, I am not inclined to be harsh.

Soral’s thought is hard to pin down (see my Alain Soral FAQ, written some years ago, but which I would say remains just as valid), being to some extent the product more of a confrontational and provocative style and a deep intellectual culture, than a coherent system. If I were to pin Soral down: the Franco-centric chauvinism of Maurras and the acerbic criticism of Marx, with a sprinkling of Alex-Jonesian conspiratorial innuendo. In practice, a glorious NazBol, with a seething hatred of bourgeois politics and feminism.

Soral’s videos, in which he regularly speaks for hours, commenting on current affairs and culture, represent a kind of counter-education or alternative viewpoint to the mainstream discursive flow. In this respect, they is quite like William Pierce’s legendary American Dissident Voices broadcasts in the 1990s and early 2000s. There is value in this. It is hard to judge the validity of the culture and narratives one is brought up in if one is never even exposed to genuine alternative viewpoints. Hence why the mainstream media/culture folks are panicking at the moment: they have been shielded from serious criticism for so many years that their memetic immune systems have grown shockingly weak. So weak they might just keel over and die tomorrow, tragi-comically, under a barrage of tweets . . .

I have not watched Soral’s videos with much regularity in recent years. Mostly because I feel he’s been repeating himself and his organization, Égalité et Réconciliation (E&R, Equality and Reconciliation) has been increasingly sinning by commission on race, rather than just avoiding the subject. Too often, Soral/E&R’s criticisms really boils down to “JR3”: Jews are the real racists. Many of Soral’s followers are incidentally black or Arab. Mainstream orthodoxy incidentally is refreshingly weak in many minority communities, as evidenced by the success of Louis Farrakhan for example, whose pep-talk preaching we could all learn from. I often find it easier to talk politics with a minority than with pious whites.

Soral recently published a characteristically provocative and vulgar video (I do not say gratuitously vulgar, in addition to being fun, this grabs attention and gets the point across) entitled: “Marx ****s Hitler.” As someone who has written a fair bit on Hitler, this certain caught my attention. This was all the more striking in that Soral has previously provocatively called himself a “national socialist” (by which he mainly refers to patriotic and socialist economics . . .). What’s more, Soral’s publishing house Kontre Kulture has only recently started publishing National Socialist historical documents, including Mein Kampf, Joseph Goebbel’s The Battle for Berlin, and the apocryphal Political Testament attributed to Hitler.

In the video, Soral claims that “right-wing and far-right bourgeois” hate Marx because “in the long run, Marx ****s Hitler.” This is because, in a market society, “the economic and social question takes precedence over and overdetermines the racial question.” Race-realists will rightly scoff at such a blanket statement, however, let us hear Soral out, for he has an important point to make.

Young French nationalist bloggers and YouTubers – most notably Daniel Conversano, whom Soral notoriously physically assaulted during a debate – have increasingly been talking about intelligence differences between races. Soral addresses this issue in his characteristic semi-non-committal fashion:

Today it is often said that thought is collapsing because of race-mixing . . . the migratory invasion from Africa, by referring to IQ. I don’t say that it isn’t a reality, but actually we didn’t really need them to collapse.

Soral adds that Western thought has collapsed since the 1980s, with the fall of the Soviet Union as ideological competition, leading to the disappearance of “Hegeliano-Marxist dialectic,” which he considers a valuable way of thinking.

I would agree with Soral that Western thought has been declining independently of IQ. Only in a sick world are Tom Friedman and Paul Krugman considered “thought-leaders,” to not speak of their French equivalents, such as the embarrassing Bernard-Henri Lévy, whom Soral quotes from a recent radio interview with the equally-Jewish Anne Sinclair (Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s former wife . . . it’s a small ethno-nepotistic world): “The Torah is the treasure of the Jews and the Jews are the treasure of the nations.”

As a good Marxist, Soral argues that political conflicts primarily involve class, rather than race. He says that during their teenage years, when high T-levels and parents’ pocket money mean one can afford to be irresponsible, young men can engage in apparently racial conflict. However, with age, they will mellow and end up defending their objective class position. Soral says:

The fashy [white] student becomes a bourgeois with age, who maintains his bourgeois position through economic practices which make him walk hand in hand with, let’s say, the Jewish banking high bourgeoisie and even a certain Arab, Saudi, Qatari, and Emirati bourgeoisie. Over longer periods, the logic of class takes precedence over the logic of race.

Soral then puts the names of a number of figures (Joseph Macé-Scaron, Claude Goasguen, Alain Madelin) who began in far-right groups (Action française, GRECE, Occident . . .) only to work with the mainstream media, Sarkozy’s clique, or even the CRIF itself (the official Jewish lobby). He then mocks the infatuation of many French nationalists for the Jewish French nationalist journalist Éric Zemmour and adds that Zemmour’s popularity reflects “bourgeois interests in a bourgeois, globalist, and also neoliberal logic and not at all a identitarian, regional, or national one.”

(I would personally say Zemmour is actually fairly good although it is embarrassing and inappropriate that the media has, for some reason, chosen not to make an indigenous Frenchman the voice of “French patriotism.” Imagine if the only “nationalist pundits” employed by Israeli television were, curiously, Christians . . .)

I would say Soral has a point. Certainly, when we think of who wields power in the world today, it is not a mono-ethnic bloc, but a coalition made up of Jews, whites (of liberal or big-business persuasion), and various nouveaux riches from the Third World. If one’s goal is revolution or even reform, one must also think about the interests and mentality of this coalition, rather than racial blocs alone. As so often, elites are what matter.

• Category: Foreign Policy, Ideology • Tags: Alain Soral, Elites, France, Jews, Marxism 
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Modern societies are characterized by easy living and an increasingly feminized and infantilized culture. The result is that modern man is no longer motivated by spirituality or honor, but purely by lower drives, such as gibs, security, and the pursuit of comfiness.

The great majority of people, and by extension just about all societies, are trying to create security and comfort for themselves. This is achieved through stable and regular social organization, and the production and distribution of goods and services.

Our vast material wealth (food, housing, automobiles, appliances, consumer electronics, software . . .) is created by relatively small groups of the intelligent and their workers. The modern state then redistributes this wealth through a stunning variety of schemes – the “public education” system, negotiated salary levels, hyper-regulation of labor, the vast welfare system for health, the unemployed, the elderly, and the poor, etc – according to that society’s values (to what extent do they value social welfare and equality, as against liberty?). These values, in turn, are to a large extent driven by the society’s degree of empathy and social trust.

I believe this simple model accounts for much of the diversity in economies and social systems across the world. Most societies are, by First-World standards, failed societies, having insufficient intelligence, social trust, and/or empathy the produce the material comfort they would wish.

Panglossians such as Stephen Pinker and The Economist will claim the world is getting better and better, so we’ve nothing to worry about. It is true that there is a lot of economic growth and improvement of living standards across the world. The important point they overlook is that the drivers for this growth are not endogenous to Third-World societies. The fact is that there is almost never full convergence between nations or between racial groups within a same society.

Rather, economic growth is occurring because of technological innovations produced by a very, very small portion of humanity, namely in North America, Western Europe, and East Asia. This is evident in the materials we use everyday: your Apple computer was perhaps produced in Shenzhen, China, while your software and most-frequented websites were created in Silicon Valley. This is reflected in the production of scientific papers, which is dominated by the West and East Asia. The militant atheist Richard Dawkins has pointed out that the Islamic World contributes virtually nothing in terms of scientific discovery. As his goal is to demonize religion while voiding the far more important issue of race and genetics, he studiously omits the fact that the rapidly-expanding Black World contributes even less.

Scientific papers published by country in 2011. Source.
Scientific papers published by country in 2011. Source.

The technological innovations of the First World, produced in fact by a small elite within these countries, in turn drive economic growth at home and abroad through technological diffusion. There is always partial convergence as these technologies spread to the Second and Third Worlds. This convergence is partial because, just as these societies lacked the intelligence and social trust to create these technologies, so they lack the ability to organize themselves maximally to fully close the socio-economic gap with the First World.

The diffusion of First World technologies into more traditional or backward societies, which could never have produced these technologies, can certainly have novel effects. Think of Chadian tribal warfare upgraded with Toyota trucks, AK47s, and rocket launchers. Leon Trotsky, thinking of Russia’s relationship with the West, called this “combined and uneven development.”

The world’s wealthy and powerful nations are also in the habit of trying to impose their liberal-democratic political norms on other countries. However, this often leads to chaos more than anything else. Democratic competition and political pluralism is often a recipe for chaos for countries who don’t have a history of such practices. In particular in multiethnic countries, a moderate regime of stable and autocratic authority is often all that can save the society from chaos.

The economics of “high globalism” involve the abolition of national borders and the convergence of social standards so as to maximize economic efficiency. This ought to lead to further increase in overall wealth, although it is not without its problems: wealth inequality is increased (wages driven down, tax havens optimized), local businesses go bankrupt, and jobs are off-shored Worst of all, free trade reduces national sovereignty – hence why classical republicans such as Rousseau and Jefferson were autarkic protectionists, considering independence to be a prerequisite to self-government – and increases the power of the proverbial “small, rootless, international clique,” the Davos set and assorted multinational corporations in Silicon Valley, Wall Street, etc.

The Great Replacement is however primarily driven by “low globalism,” that is to say, the aspirations of the five billion humans who live, by First-World standards, in failed societies and wish for a more comfortable life for themselves and their children. These people have a certain realism: knowing that their nation will not converge any time soon, perhaps ever, tens of millions rather sensibly (from their point of view) opt to move to the West’s more prosperous and generous societies.

These dynamics work everywhere and at every level of society. The smart fractions everywhere – your doctors, engineers, and so on – choose to go the West, where they can enjoy high wages, better government, and can participate in more influential institutions. This brain drain both sets the home country further back – and they often really don’t have much margin of error to work with – but also contributes to further innovation in the West. A smart Cuban or Bangladeshi does not have to languish in his home country, where his smarts might at best contribute a bit to local order, but can join Google, CERN, or some other organization, and thus contribute to global innovation and prosperity.

Actually, most countries are now affected by this, including ones which used to be immune. Smart French people go where economies are growing and taxes are not punitive, moving to London, America, or even the Gulf states and Singapore. China, despite having low average wages, is already stripping Taiwan of human capital by enticing businessmen to move to the mainland (a development which seems to be leading to the island’s economic stagnation). Peripheral Europe in general, both southern and eastern, is being brain-drained at a truly alarming rate, their smarts being hoovered up by northwest Europe, Germany and Britain in particular (although Brexit appears to be slowing this process).

The result of the global brain drain, contra the egalitarian theory of universal convergence, is to further increase and entrench the inherent inequalities between nations.

Of course, the great majority of people who are moving to the West are not skilled, educated, or gifted. They and their children displace the native people, replace their culture, and disproportionately use welfare and commit crimes. We can see, looking at the counter-example of Japan, how peaceful and socially harmonious Western societies would be if they had not accepted tens of millions of Hispanic, African, and Islamic immigrants.

• Category: Economics, Foreign Policy • Tags: Africa, Immigration 
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