Disinformation War?

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I messaged a friend on last night. For some time now, he has been sharing memes and diatribes about the theft of the election by Joe Biden, as well as the apocalyptic consequences for America should the scam be allowed to succeed.

Though this sentiment puts him in a large crowd, he seems to me particularly devoted; real passion, real anger.

I asked him whether he thought it possible that Biden had won without fraud, noting the Pennsylvanian was backed by the combined forces of media and capital, and that polls, near worthless as they are, had predicted a strong showing for him.

He answered that it was impossible (he used that word). Trump’s rallies were too full, Biden’s too empty. Where did the eighty million votes come from? From what well of conviction was the motivation to vote in such numbers pulled up?

I suggested the Biden rallies were emptier because of advised precautions over Covid; and that social distancing was displayed excessively to project the image of a medically conscientious and sensible alternative to Trump.

But he wouldn’t have this either. The very fact that thousands of people defied medical advice to show their support for the president was significant evidence of the crookedness of the outcome. Americans, he explained, do not ordinarily behave like this over a political candidate; even Obama, with his millenarian context, enjoyed hardly a tenth of the enthusiasm on display in every state Trump visited. Ordinary working people, shivering in plaid jackets, exhaling vapor in the middle of a respiratory pandemic, employed their time and energy to encourage someone they devoutly believed in, against (indeed, happily against) the instructions of their supposed betters.

Later on, my friend added some weird speculation about Biden’s love of children, moving from there to his son Hunter Biden’s very real (but questionably relevant) libertinism during the Obama years. I discarded this, as it deserves to be discarded. I do not believe Joe Biden is anything so devilish (or interesting) as what he implied, nor that Hunter Biden’s private degeneracy should necessarily incriminate his father. (My friend didn’t mention the dodgy deals Hunter allegedly made while in Ukraine, possibly on his father’s behalf, which is quite another, more serious matter.) Still, the better points he put across deserve to be considered; as does, perhaps more than anything else, his closing remark that “anyway, at the end of the day, Trump is the only thing standing between America and collapse.”

I pay special attention to that phrase – ‘at the end of the day’. It doesn’t always negate or replace what has already been said by a person – but it sometimes marks the beginning of a different, simpler, more lucid analysis.

It made me wonder whether some of Trump’s hardcore champions, in supporting the fraud narrative, are simply trying to force an ultimatum; whether they don’t really believe in the Dominion theory advanced by Sidney Powell, or in the dozens of possibilities floated by Rudy Giuliani; whether for such people the goal justifies the method.

America will probably not collapse when/if Biden is sworn in on January 20th. There will not be a civil conflict of unmanageable proportions. The country will merely pick up pace along the same trajectory of decay and Brazilianization Trump was elected to slow or reverse.

Nonetheless, tens of millions of people are willing to do whatever it takes to prevent a return to this negative stability.

Whether any meaningful number are prepared to feign belief I cannot confidently say. But it isn’t impossible. There are many ‘at the end of the day’ clauses in Parler discourse.

The same, incidentally, is true the other way. I know personally of many liberals who knew full well that Trump did not conspire with the Russian government in the 2016 election. The theory was nonsense, supported by half-truths and downright lies. But Trump was the devil, and the devil was winning and had to be defeated. If democracy stood in the way, then democracy had to be overcome. In the name of emergency, normal rules were suspended. Lies could be noble.

***

What’s wrong with a disinformation war? Why not present a crafty narrative to subvert or prevent a process you believe to be evil? Is that ever appropriate?

In North Korea, would it not be justified to spread a rumour about the commanding party so offensive to the human spirit that it united the people, giving them sufficient courage to liberate themselves from kimilsungist tyranny?

You could certainly make the case. With the North Korean regime smashed and humiliated, and the people, in a state of nervous euphoria, walking on free land for the first time in more than half a century, who would criticise the tactic? Who would claim it wasn’t justified?

Disinformation can work for good – in exceptional cases.

But now imagine that North Korea, in the same nightmarish state as today, was split 50/50. Imagine that half the population supported the regime and half opposed it. The disinformation would strengthen the regime, not weaken it. If the incitement to revolt fell short, all advantage would be gifted to the enemy. Their lies would seem relatively truthful. The opposition would have wasted an opportunity by crying wolf. 

To use a less extreme – and non-hypothetical – example, Donald Trump benefited greatly from the Russia probe. For all his ‘gaffes’, the liberal crusade to implicate him in something so ridiculous coloured the president as an honest victim of persecution, even in the eyes of centrists initially frightened by him.

I am unconvinced that electoral fraud is to blame for Trump losing the election; and while I have no right to a say in American affairs, I would strongly advise against maintaining otherwise. In Georgia and elsewhere, the left is beginning to reap the benefits.

David

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The Carlson and Powell Saga

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The Fox News host Tucker Carlson has gathered a dedicated following these past few years. Just a couple of weeks ago the 51 year old was widely regarded as the darling of both grassroot conservatives and the president himself. But whether he knew it or not, and despite a considerable overlap, his crowd was not as dedicated as the one he was about to provoke.

In a brief segment anyone interested in American politics will have seen by now, Carlson very gently cast doubt on the legitimacy of exotic claims by Sidney Powell, a late addition to the legal team Trump had charged with challenging the 2020 election result. These claims included speculations about an international communist plot to rob the president of victory by misusing voting technology; large accusations, then, whose revelation in court Powell insisted would be ‘Biblical’. Agreeing with her, Carlson remarked that they would count as the worst crime against American democracy in its history, if true.

Answering journalistic hunger, he had contacted Powell for comment, or for some foretaste of the evidence that was to be presented before a jury. But the attorney had rebuffed him, apparently angered by the request. Carlson related this rejection to his audience with the merest twinge of frustration, and then quite sensibly postponed the matter.

As I say, I do not know whether Carlson quite appreciated the nature of the reaction that was to follow, but it was coming either way. Twitter caught fire.

“You just ended your career, Tucker.”

“Tucker is deep state. Been saying this for years.”

“He was the last reason I was watching Fox. Guess the whole lot have sold-out. Buh-buy!”

Accusations of turncoatery and treason were thrown about with pitchfork enthusiasm. Viewers pledged never to watch the man’s show again, ending years of respect and admiration. The next video Carlson uploaded (on a different subject) received thousands of retaliatory downvotes. And even after another clip addressed the backlash, most refused to contemplate forgiveness.

“Apologise to Sidney!”

“Too little, too late, Friar-Tuck. Bye now!!”

“It isn’t just about you, young man! It’s about truth!”

Days later, the Trump legal team itself put daylight between their efforts and Ms Powell. Her claims were growing wilder by the hour, damaging the revisionist cause.

I haven’t seen many apologies to Carlson since then, though a few thousand are surely due; only some vindicated loyalists scolding those who too hastily turned their backs on him, and receiving few replies.

What, if anything, does this episode have to teach us?

For one, I’d say it confirms that the political right in America has as much of a problem with truth as the political left. Though, for some time, conservatives have delighted in watching the left violently divide itself into hostile factions of woke-corporatists and grassroots-realists – we might represent these two tendencies by personifying the former as Thomas Friedman and the latter as Matt Taibbi – the right now risks an equally disruptive tripartition of its ranks.

First, the Trump Fundamentalists – people for whom the man has replaced the agenda, or at least enjoys level billing with it; the exhilarated crowds at his rallies who adore his common wit, the way he draws blood from the detested liberal aristocracy. These crowds do not wish to hear contradictions of Trump’s narrative. They will boycott and oppose anything and anyone to protect it. Fox News is the most prominent entity to be gored so far. It won’t be the last.

Then there are the neo-cons, or corporate-internationalist right; cheerful war hawks, animated mostly by money and foreign policy. Think Marco Rubio, Charlie Kirk and what’s left of Lindsey Graham.

Thirdly, the Post-Trumpists; those who have reservations about the man, but hold fast to his principles; who want ‘Trumpism without Trump’. Prominent examples include Ann Coulter and (arguably) Pat Buchanan.

It would be bright-side thinking to believe these groups will soon settle their differences. Likelier, they will make for determined combatants in a jungle war of ideological succession; one that will absorb the energy of the Republican party for the foreseeable future.

Viewing the Powell dust-up in this light makes matters considerably clearer, though no less troubling. Foolishly or bravely, Tucker Carlson dared to deviate from the Trump line; and in doing so revealed a potentially crippling inflexibility.

Thumbing their noses at the old Republican mainstream, Trump Fundamentalists are already establishing a parallel media, manifesto and commentariat. QAnon, dark money, Satanism, George Soros, vaccines, 5G and electoral fraud are the central concerns – a far cry from the concrete disagreements over healthcare, immigration, and foreign policy that gave Trump his victory in 2016.

The Rubio-ist neoconservative faction will no doubt present its own case, making use of euphemisms for drone violence such as ‘ensuring stability’ or promoting ‘American leadership’; ultimately the same platform as Joe Biden, but with tokenistic dissent on healthcare and tax.

The Post-Trump deviation is the most interesting to me, and not just in an American context. Building on Trump’s victory over the corporate press, with its warped liberalism and mandatory denial of obvious truths; taking his better arguments further, tidying them up, separating the logic from the logician; walking back or denouncing his worst aspects; criticising his excesses; in other words, playing Khrushchev after the death of Stalin, seems to me plainly worthwhile.

What I fear will happen is that the right will shatter into fragments; incompatible factions, each with its own media, society and commentariat, drifting ever further apart, dividing and subdividing until no fight-ready unity is conceivable. Discord like this is ripe for exploitation.

If the ultra-loyalists and QAnonists are allowed to take the reins now, it will take years to dislodge them. Should Trumpism as a sentiment and set of ideas degenerate into the man’s whims and fantasies, any otherwise sturdy logic he rode to power on will be undermined.

Whatever the risks, a clash of conservative worldviews is sadly necessary.

I commend Tucker Carlson for not giving in completely to the wild panic engulfing the Trump right. He is doing a great service to conservatism, and to the goals the president promised originally to serve.

David

One Week on Parler

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There is a need for platforms like Parler, the free-speech friendly Twitter alternative recently pulled into the media spotlight for hosting disenfranchised Trump supporters.

There is obviously a limit to what can be said on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and probably even WordPress. Sophisticated algorithmic mechanisms already exist to filter out content featuring contentious words; not only deliberately unpleasant terms like ‘n*gger’ or ‘k*ke’, but also controversial or misused ones like ‘Zionist’, ‘globalist’, among others; the aim being to provide a safe, friendly space that people of all stripes can use for work or pleasure.

But as these platforms have grown, so has their political and strategic value; and with politics comes passion, and with passion inevitable offence. Donald Trump, whose social media accounts are both an asset and a liability to the websites hosting them, has attracted a flood of both pro- and anti-MAGA voices to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube in recent years, ruining them for some, improving them for others. Now, for the former at least, after a contested and fraught election, the official effort to regulate information has become intolerable. Migratory waves to Parler flow thick and fast.

Entirely out of curiosity, I signed up for an account last week. This is a kind of review.

As I mentioned, Parler is modelled on Twitter, and has a similar concept. You broadcast your opinions, post links, pictures, etc. and other people react to them – liking them, commenting on them, or ‘echoing’ them, which is the same thing as retweeting. Like Twitter, you have a username and an @-name; you collect followers, and can receive private messages. On first glance, the only obvious difference – apart from the content of the posts – is the colour scheme, which is paper white and cherry red.

The content is certainly different. Not surprisingly, but still strikingly. The atmosphere is like that of a political club.

As soon as the account had been activated, my automatic ‘hello’ post received automated comments and welcome messages from various official pro-Trump accounts. I was invited to ‘Stop the Steal’ and pledge my support by texting ‘Trump’ to a (now familiar) mobile number.

I decided to explore just how committed the platform was to freedom of speech. I typed the ‘n word’ (though rather more explicitly) into the search bar above the news feed. Sure enough, the word was present – in usernames, bios, posts and memes. There was a user called ‘Certified N*ggerologist’, for example; another called ‘n*gger1488’, and so on. I then tried ‘Zionist’, expecting – foolishly, it turned out – to find a wealth of anti-Semitic and conspiratorial sentiment. But though there were examples of this, the majority of hits were older American Trump supporters proudly self-identifying as supporters of Israel. The difference between this place and 4chan’s /pol/ became clearer.

Looking around at the users, the majority of which were American seniors, I felt a definite sense of unease and out-of-place-ness. There was truth to be found, yes – and even genuine insight; but also a constant, nagging contradiction. Here was freedom of speech expressed as marching uniformity. Something seemed to have gone wrong.

Parler is far from a cult forum. It was certainly never designed to be one. But the automatic messages I received from the Trump campaign at the beginning of my experiment, together with the insularity of the userbase, do not bode well for its promise of greater ideological variety.

On Twitter, the right is persecuted by the left. Liberal users routinely report conservative accounts, paying Stasi-like attention to the language of any post they disagree with. On Parler, at least presently, it appears the right has made a Twitter for itself, flipping the tables. Here it is liberal users who are swarmed and berated (though, notably, not reported).

You would be correct to point out this may only be temporary. Parler is a Trump app at the moment because Trump supporters are the people taking advantage of it; but nothing is preventing left-wing or middle-ground users migrating there as well. A free speech forum will be what users make of it. No more. No less.

My concern is that the owners of Parler are already comfortable with the idea that Trump loyalists are (and will always be) its bread and butter. I am worried that the app will remain a ‘Twitter for MAGA people’ – a safe space where they can agree with each other in peace, protected from opposing views.

***

Donald Trump is the not the arguments he made on the campaign trail, nor the energies conjured up or released by his movement. He is an odd person, with absurd idiosyncrasies. It is vitally important that the cause of truth, no matter how much the president has done for it, does not become the cause of Trump. Truth is eternal and perfect. Trump is temporary and flawed.

One of the most disturbing impressions Parler made on me is the idea that for millions of otherwise balanced people, a meaningful distinction between Trump and truth no longer exists. For such people, if Trump goes down, truth will follow. If Trump wins, truth triumphs likewise. Any evidence or argument against Trump is untrue by definition, and by the same logic, any argument for him is unquestionable fact.

I am confident that if the president suddenly switched places with Biden on any issue, even a sacred cause of the right, a good number of his supporters would follow him regardless. Criticism of his defection would be ‘fake news’, blasphemy, heresy. The divine mystery of the president’s ‘4D chess’ would be deemed beyond the ignorant critic’s intellectual capacity.

Consider the plight of the long-suffering paleoconservative Ann Coulter, who has done more than most to support Trump when it counts. For nearly four years now, the New York columnist has been trying to separate the causes of Trump’s election from the character of the man himself. For Coulter, immigration, elitism and future demographics were the underlying factors of the Great Revolt of 2016, not the quirks and talents of Trump alone.

She continues to receive great vitriol for this claim: “What happened to you, Ann?” – “I used to be a fan. Sad you’ve sold out to the fake news media!” Etc.

But Coulter, like a small number of others, criticises Trump from the right, and with a greater goal in mind – the preservation of a first-world America. Trump could reign for another thirty years and not save the country she values; because Trump is not the goal. And the goal matters more.

David

Where Do You Want to Go?

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Donald Trump, you’ll be aware, lost the election on Tuesday, or rather Saturday – kind of, we think – thereby making Joseph Biden, his uninspiring, moribund opponent, president-elect of the United States.

There is a lot to say about this, naturally, but I will try not to bore.

Firstly, Trump’s hastily presented allegations of fraud and posthumous voting will be investigated in due course; but I am not at all convinced these investigations will alter the final result. There is a very obvious note of bad faith about some of the charges, which should be available to conservative perception as well as liberal. Only time will tell, I suppose.

Secondly, and whatever the media claim, Biden’s victory does not represent a repudiation of what the president stood for; his ideology and platform. Seventy million votes were cast for Trump on Tuesday, in defiance of all kinds of weather, all kinds of pressure, all kinds of ridicule, in the middle of a serious pandemic. A significant number of rational Americans still believe in the movement he advertised.

Pat Buchanan agrees – “Trump may lose the presidency,” he writes, “but Trumpism was not rejected… if, by Trumpism, one means “America First” nationalism, securing our borders, using tariffs to bring back our manufacturing base, bidding goodbye to globalism, staying out of unnecessary wars and swearing off ideological crusades.”

Yes. Trumpism remains. I do not believe the Republican party will soon return to the socially liberal, fiscally conservative non-ideology of Marco Rubio or Mitt Romney, nor, as would be worse, to the sleazy, faux-Christian theatre of Ted Cruz. Trump has set a precedent of greater sincerity; a connection with the most base and natural and important instincts of the white electorate. Can these voters really be lured back to simple ‘red team good, blue team bad’ politics? I doubt it.

What appears to have lost the election for Trump is rather his character. Though they were given disproportionate emphasis by a hostile, coordinated press, the president’s personal flaws inevitably disposed many to overlook his novelty and merits. Threatening to run for a third term, casting pre-emptive doubt on the democratic system, appointing members of his own family to positions of global influence, sleazy rumours of extramarital sex with porn actresses, inane tweets and absurd tantrums, etc. The American ‘middle’ do have a limit, and the president overstepped it frequently and unnecessarily. 

Thirdly, we should talk about those who, as far as we know, are going to replace Trump and Pence at the Western summit.

Joe Biden, going by his statements and history, is a pedestrian centrist of the Obama-Clinton mould; nothing more glamourous or frightening than that – in theory. His danger derives from how this dopey conformity threatens to interact with the period in which we live; a time requiring of iron-like, brilliant men, not weak, corruptible puppets. Biden is a dusty slate on which donors will scratch their own priorities. Beer and tobacco Americans of the kind Donald Trump sought to remember will struggle to be heard.

And then there is Kamala Harris – young, Indo-Caribbean, haughty, greatly attractive to the corrupters of American politics in Washington, as well as to the severely myopic outside of it. I have written about this questionable woman elsewhere. Here, I will only repeat that she is firmly of the ‘kiss up, kick down’ school’ of Asian careerism; ruthless, energetic, corrupt and corrupting.

Both Biden and Harris are excited advocates of America’s downward trajectory; the decline of European America, and the rise of conceptual replacements for old American facts. As it did to the neo-conservatives before them, America appeals to corporate democrats as an international hub; the engine, university and military headquarters of post-historical liberalism.

In essential ways, their instincts are right on the money. America is all those things. And Donald Trump, to the living grief of his electorate, could not do anything about it.

Fourthly, and lastly, what does this mean for the United States and Europe going forward?

In the country itself, the result declared will considerably worsen existing divisions, especially along racial lines. European-Americans have become quite accustomed to having a voice at the highest level. They like it. They do not wish to let it go. Indeed, should they be forced to do so, America may suddenly feel like someone else’s country – hijacked, irretrievably lost, undeserving of their allegiance, service, taxes. That would be noteworthy.

I used to believe, in the worst years of the 9/11 era, that Europeans were considerably worse off than our cousins across the ocean. While in Europe, barbarian hordes were setting fire to the wages of a triumphant history, Americans could afford to relax in an atmosphere of relative calm. That was short-sighted.

Detroit, Michigan, is a warning few possess sufficient courage to heed. A European-American city, laurelled for its industrial dynamism and machine technology, armoury of the winning militaries of World War II, was burnt out by sudden demographic confusion. Now, in terrible clarity, it decays beyond remedy.

What if, you have every right to ask, Detroitification occurs to the nation as a whole? 

People have an unconquerable desire to live in suburbs, away from people they dislike, or from those they have good reason to believe they will not get on with. Suburbs are often the size of countries.

This is not – or is not merely – an issue of race, class or religion; but quality, consent, compatibility. 

And also identity – historical and individual. The United States is quite obviously no longer a single entity, having been divided in two by warring interpretations of what the national ends are supposed to be; homogeneity of appearance and culture? Homogeneity of values? Bright-blazing rainbow of every human type imaginable? Capitalist playground? Final, perfect realisation of social justice and human equality?

Parties gathered around different visions of long-term identity are the future of US politics, and will replace quaint concerns about four year reforms. After Trump has departed the White House to take up permanent residence on Twitter, the GOP would be sensible to conceptualise a grander vision of America; something they can agree on, and work for.

Pick your destination. Where do you want to go?

David

Trump 2020

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Donald Trump is a once in a lifetime phenomenon. If he loses today, there won’t be another man of such sincerity in American politics for quite some time.

I do not believe Joe Biden has a drop of belief in him. He is a suit wearing a man.

The president deserves a second chance at being what he promised to be four years ago. His flaws are fixable. His love for Truth (however loosely he treats little truths) is invigorating. He energises something that will endure far beyond his administration.

My foreign opinion counts for little. But I would vote Trump today.

David

Prelude to Something

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Like the reader, I have spent a large part of this week studying the US presidential election polls, the contest being now just a few tantalising days away. Most of those I have seen predict a Biden win. A few expect a landslide or ‘blue wave’. Others see the Democrats just scraping through. But disagreement on the probable winner is rare.

Liberals have in some ways learnt from 2016 – that memorable, dramatic, gorgeous collapse of ill-deserved mainstream credibility. They are stressing this time that polls are not to be trusted, that elections are won solely by voting, not by media preference or stated intentions. And they are right on that score at least.

For all the poll advantages Biden enjoys, it is not impossible that another black swan will slide into view on November the 3rd; a sequel apocalypse, perhaps even more consequential than the last. Nonetheless, Trump goes into this contest as the underdog.

In other ways, Liberals have yet to take on board the deeper meaning of their defeat.

I have just visited the Biden campaign’s official Instagram account, and rather wish I hadn’t. It is chock-full of all you would expect – victim worship, empty slogans, feminist snark, retractably vague economic promises, and above all a disturbing fetishization of African people (especially women and children).

Of course, this soup of brainstormed concepts appeals to practically no-one. Biden and the unintelligent Left trust this will not matter on the night. They believe, perhaps with good reason, that people are so sick of the name ‘Trump’ appearing in every headline that they will vote it out of their lives for no better reason.

They are also banking on the dilution of the Trump brand. What was once fresh, exciting and radical is now repetitive and exhausting. The unending turbulence of the last four years has middle-of-the-road Americans longing for quieter days, which the white-haired, slow-talking Democrat seems to realistically offer. Joe Biden, even his friends concede, is tediously non-ideological, hardly even opinionated.

But this is not a zero-risk strategy. 2020 is not 2000. The internet has changed people more fundamentally than even tech entrepreneurs seem to appreciate. Modern politics is increasingly understood as a kind of showbusiness mixed with corporate and military cronyism. Faith in its humanity, its link with people and ideals, has been all but lost. Very few now believe (sincerely) that Joe Biden has a cause, or that Obama had one, or Bush, or Clinton, etc. The same cynics may have once invested in the messianism of these very presidents; but no longer. The internet has placed cameras behind the curtain dividing people from power. We overhear the actors rehearsing their lines, applying their makeup, practising their emotions.

Yes, even Obama, the great black hope, sent by providence to destroy racism on Earth, turned out to be a typically unscrupulous bureaucrat – a warmongering drone-assassin, happy to deal with ancient nations as if with chess pieces, as per an unfortunate American tradition dating back to the end of the Eisenhower administration. Democrats, blockheads were shocked to discover, are every bit as violent and compromised as Republicans. The differences are cosmetic; a few slogans here and there; a rainbow flag emoticon, a celebrity endorsement, late night propaganda. But no substantial disagreement. 

All the candidates Trump defeated in the Republican primaries suffer from the same crucial lack of humanity and belief. Ted Cruz, the educated Republican voter realises, represents nothing. He is a political nothing, as well as a rotten coward, which is even worse. We will not even talk of Rubio, Bush, Paul, Fiorina or Kasich; only remark that these were – and are – more like bank managers than statesmen.

Populism is the rejection of managerialism – the idea that countries are little more than flag-bearing economies, and that concepts of race, language and culture have no place in modern political discourse. In 2016, Trump obliterated this notion in fine style. (I still fondly recall the night of his victory; the surprise and embarrassment.)

Since his inauguration, Trump has done and said a lot of silly things. But he has also done a lot of good – considerably more than I am ordinarily willing to admit. He has kept America out of wars where no Western interest exists. He has consistently opposed the kind of lockdowns inflicted on Europe, and for exactly the right reasons – citing economic despair, alcoholism, depression, suicide and domestic violence. He has projected an image of unapologetic masculinity in a world where men are under constant attack. He has exposed the corruption and DPRK-like uniformity of the Western media. He has asked, though often in unnecessarily crude language, extremely important questions (“Why are we letting in people from shithole countries?”, etc.). He has set radical precedents on immigration, identity, abortion, political language and foreign policy. He has accelerated the demise of the legacy media, stimulating a massive alternative media subculture. He has demonstrated that the anything-is-possible narrative in American politics is not merely a nice thing to say to children, but a bright, inspiring reality; that anyone, provided they are straightforward enough, consistent enough and brave enough, can break the corporate-media alliance. 

Whether Trump loses or not, his legacy is destined to be a great one. The energies he has released will not soon be re-imprisoned in taboo. 

***

What will happen if the polls are correct this time? Various journalists foresee a violent showdown between far-right and far-left elements, similar to what has been witnessed on-and-off since the death of George Floyd earlier this year, only more intense and widespread.

This isn’t impossible. After so much divisive poison from the media, nothing, even a full-blown civil war, can be entirely ruled out. 

The QAnon believers, together with allied Facebook radicals, are disturbingly confident of their eschatology. Confident enough to perceive an electoral disappointment as sufficient cause for an apocalypse? Maybe. 

And even those not intoxicated by schizoid theories are vulnerable to being seduced by the drama of it all. Trump, they know, is a once in a lifetime phenomenon. When he goes, whatever should happen to his ideas, he goes for good. There will not soon be another president so friendly toward the working classes, so unpretentiously in love with his country, or as bold and entertaining in his style. A Trump loss will bring forth angry tears. The president enjoys not just political support in white working class America, but great personal affection.

Of course, if the result goes against the predictions of the polls, there is an equal danger of violence from the Left; militant ‘anti-racists’, BLM and simple nihilistic window-breakers have acquired much useful experience in recent months; hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of young people may be willing to fight – in a true sense – the prospect of four more years under the orange demon.

In closing, though I would love to play prophet, this swirling, haunting prelude to something offers only cryptic clues and contradictory messages. America requires revolutionary change. It will soon get it, from the state or from the people.

David

A Perfect Lesson

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Someone was beheaded in Paris last week. He was a teacher: Samuel Paty, 47. His crime was to have distributed an unflattering depiction of the prophet Muhammad as part of a class on the importance of freedom of speech. A perfect lesson, it would seem. A perfect illustration. A perfect martyr. If the events described had been depicted as fiction in a novel or play, one might have criticised it on the grounds that the message was too neatly wrapped. But this was reality. And reality is often that simple, that perfect.

Islam is a volatile religion. Not all Muslims practice it to the gruesome extent of the preparator, but enough to make a freeze on Islamic immigration obviously sensible.

I have seen the photograph of Mr Paty’s decapitated head, as you may have yourself. The first few times it scrolled into view, on Twitter, I turned away as soon as possible, shocked by something no civilised person should ever have to see. But after a few more exposures (you can’t escape the wretched thing on some forums), I summoned the courage to study the image in detail. It is a quite amazing thing to look at; a head not where it should be, disembodied, the underside of a severed neck visible, revealing red and pink details only biologists and butchers understand.

This isn’t routine for me. I have never sat down and watched a decapitation video. nor any of the big-budget murder-extravaganzas produced by ISIS. Perhaps I am still too squeamish, which is cowardly; but after looking at the picture of poor Mr Paty, who knows what I’ll dare to face next.

The act was evil, obviously. Heinous. Savage. But hardly surprising. France already knew about this problem. The government knew. The media knew. You knew. And yet the anger is raw and purple, as if the problem had just been discovered.

‘Overreaction’ is not a concern we should have at this time. Exaggeration might be. Let us not gift undue confidence to Jihadis. Islamists are not going to ‘take over’ Paris, let alone France. But a condition doesn’t have to be terminal to justify treatment.

There is no need for any scum in Europe. A third-world neighbourhood of Paris is wasted space. Sooner or later we will have to work out what we want and how we can get it; what we love and how we can best serve and protect it.

***

I remember visiting Paris as a child, and then as a teenager and adolescent. In all, I must have been to the city at least five times. I found the place beautiful and inspiring, the people unfriendly, overrated and rude. I enjoyed using the subway, which for me is the most romantic metro system in the world (and goodness knows what I aim to mean by that). There are memories of mine gathering dust around all the celebrated sites; Tour Eiffel, Champs-Élysées, Montmartre, La Défense, etc.

Hazily I can recall experiences of the non-native Parisians, my pre-political impression of them. The Maghrebi beggar girls (likely of Algerian stock) were strikingly attractive; their elegant black eyes, and sand-coloured, ever-youthful faces produced in me a superficial, decidedly pubescent ‘sympathy’ for their plight. The hijab covering two thirds of their heads didn’t excite any special curiosity back then. I knew nothing about Islam and wouldn’t for several years more.

It was a city more of night than day. I enjoyed the darkness and noticed how it seemed to bring out the beauty and special character of Paris. In the vulgar sunshine, the grand buildings were grey and uninteresting, and the crowded streets more chaotic than romantic. At night I could picture myself as a writer and a bohemian, heir to the great European authors I was beginning to appreciate at home. And that is what Paris remained in my imagination for some time; a writer’s city and intellectual paradise.

The idea that in the future heads would be severed for blasphemy, and that it would come as no surprise to the general population, would have been fantastic. Likewise the idea that those dark-eyed houris rattling cups on the Champs-Élysées were members of a deranged (and deranging) culture of violence; I just wouldn’t have taken it seriously. This was a city of poets and painting, opium and atheism; the deepest West, where reason and freedom were too native to disturb. But here we are.

***

The Anglo-American myth that the French people are quick to surrender was funny once, if even that, but is no longer. Petty divisions between Europeans are of use only to our enemies; anti-French sentiment, like any vulgar Angloism, should be quickly disposed of. The French are a socialistic, idealistic people – and good for them – but only a fool mistakes this for weakness. Indeed, they can be ferocious in their idealism, as demonstrated by the revolutionary baptism of their Republic.

The murderer in this case – an eighteen year old Muslim with roots in Chechnya – was from a family of refugees. This is relevant. How could it not be? We must stop this senseless, suicidal generosity, however superficially admirable, before it destroys us.

I am relaxed in my faith that the lesson heroically taught by brave Samuel Paty will be understood by his people. There are passionate discussions already underway in his name.

This is our conversation, too, don’t forget – for what can be a solution to the problems of France will inevitably prove a solution to the problems of Europe.

David

In Praise of Amy Coney Barrett

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Donald Trump didn’t have to nominate a woman to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg. There was nothing in law requiring it. But even if he did so in order to placate the wretched ‘girl power’ tendency in American society, for whom ‘RBG’ was a sacred figure, he has chosen remarkably well.

Profane things first – as you will have already discerned, Mrs Barrett is a decidedly attractive woman. It is alright to notice that, and to wonder whether it might have influenced the president’s selection. The nominee is elegant, feminine and relatively youthful. Trump, as we know, is the kind of person to take such things into account.

But Barrett is also impressive and authentic in a way that should command respect. She is a Roman Catholic; apparently a devout one. Her membership of a conservative evangelical group – now being stupidly but predictably compared to a plot element in the overrated feminist dystopia ‘A Handmaid’s Tale’ – implies someone with a belief, not merely an identity.

Barrett has attracted general and bipartisan praise for her character and ability. By both her left- and right-leaning colleagues we are told that the nominee rises early in the morning, maintains a strict health routine, overachieves in work and education, and all this in addition to performing the duties of a mother to seven children, including two adoptees from Haiti.

But that isn’t enough for her critics. And nothing could be. This is because Barrett opposes (or so we have reason to hope) the revolting practice of ‘abortion’.

For whatever reason, support for the ‘right’ to abortion, the termination and disposal of unborn children, has become a deal-breaker for the mainstream left in recent decades.

I say “for whatever reason” because this was never inevitable. Ending pregnancy has nothing obviously Marxian about it. There is no promised contribution to the triumph of proletarian fascism. (At their best, hard-line communists even opposed certain forms of feminism, believing them – correctly – to be a capitalist convenience). Still, it is now part of the standard liberal platform. With clever manoeuvres and widespread academic corruption, feminism’s darkest priority has attached itself to the left, and cannot now be easily cut away.

And that makes Mrs Barrett a fair target. Her work ethic doesn’t matter. Her charity towards otherwise hopeless black children doesn’t matter. Her punchy, can-do rise to influence does matter, but only in the sense that it can be turned inside-out and presented as a triumph of patriarchal brainwashing.

They won’t say it explicitly, but Barrett is imagined by progressives as a traitor to her gender. Women, if they are to be liberated, are to behave in a certain way, adopt a certain set of opinions, imposed from without, often from above. If they demonstrate agreement with traditional morality, even as the result of independent reasoning, they have fallen victim to manipulation and, like an addict, cannot be trusted until they are slapped sober.

In reality, women who fight for the protection of the unborn are exercising one of the divinest aspects of female nature; a heroinism innate to them, but awakened only by a healthy environment. In a society intoxicated by the influence of propaganda, that kind of environment is increasingly hard to find; and where it does exist, the foreheads of the resisters glow bright red in the target-beams of urban revolutionaries.  

The great majority of my peers I find to be disturbingly relaxed about abortion. A whole generation near enough, innocently convinced by absurd comparisons and non sequiturs, receive arguments any blockhead could reason away under normal conditions as obvious truth.

“Why don’t people who call themselves ‘pro-life’ care about children living in poverty NOW? Why does life not matter after it leaves the womb?”

Questions like this one are asked in all sincerity. The questioners are not working to confuse us. They believe that they are correct. And this can only be the result of environmental conditioning – an unhealthy normalisation of the grossly abnormal. 

The right to life and the right to a tolerable life are undeniably connected. But disagreement on the first is infinitely more radical than disagreement on the second. No one except the most vulgar and heartless disputes that poverty is something to address; disagreement comes only when methods of alleviation are discussed.

And does not Mrs Barrett go some way on that front herself? Her Haitian children are being given enviable lives as a result of her personal generosity. Is that not walking the walk?

Once again, it doesn’t matter. Pro-choice arguments are defended with religious inflexibility. Counter-arguments, however reasonable, cannot penetrate – because of a barrier created by nurture, not nature; society, not moral intuition. What one has been trained to think of as common sense is not easily recognised as madness. Such is the normalising power of a bad environment.

Mrs Barrett is not just a credit to the environment that moulded her, but a sufficient, many-splendored vindication of it. I will not be so offensive as to argue that she is what a woman ought to be. But a society in which her strength, integrity and discipline are considered normal is no paltry thing to dream of.

David

What Does ‘White Supremacist’ Mean?

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White supremacy is an indeterminate but vital concept in modern political discourse, particularly in Britain and America, where it is most commonly used. As a tool of political assassination it is often successful, so feared are its present and past associations; but what does it actually mean? 

Trump, we are told, is a ‘white supremacist’, or at least has a taint of the ideology in him, or at least knows people who have. He ‘dog-whistles’ to openly white supremacist groups. His very platform is based in white supremacist doctrine, and appeals, implicitly or directly, to those who understand certain words and gestures.

But still, and alas, few if any of the media figures making these charges appear willing to spell out what white supremacists actually want, or why Trump sympathises with them, or even why it would be a bad thing if he did.

Just because something is elementary doesn’t mean it can go without saying. We need to be told what something means if we are to condemn it, and no-one at present is bothering to do this. The dull public is supposed to recoil from the term itself, shocked into skipping any effort at private reasoning.

But we won’t do that here. What is this thing and why is it bad?

According to dictionary definitions, white supremacism is any system of belief holding that white people (Europeans) are superior to other races, and that political arrangements, whether in individual countries or internationally, should reflect that. 

Some white supremacists are relatively gentle, others absurdly hard-line. Proposed courses of action range from simply acknowledging the preferability of white people in existing policy areas (such as immigration), to wiping non-whites from the face of the earth through systematic mass murder. 

Where are we supposed to believe Trump sits on this spectrum? Where are the Proud Boys? Where was Hitler? Most interestingly, where is the average person today?

Superiority can be objective or subjective depending on the aspect being considered. Beauty, for example, is more the latter, while intelligence is more the former.

Though IQ tests are imperfect, we can note by their evidence that European people are not the most intelligent race around, apparently inferior to both northeast Asians and Ashkenazi Jews. Northeast Asians are also healthier, with longer life expectancies, and more numerous, more hardworking and less violent. Black Africans are faster and more fertile, etcetera.

These facts could easily be cited as evidence against white supremacy as a ‘theory’, but that would not likely diminish its popularity. This is because what is called ‘white supremacy’ is not a theory at all. It is a tradition.

Rather than a simple and vulgar “better than you” calculation, European supremacy (and we will switch from the meaningless ‘white’ label here) is the default and historical condition of all European or European-founded countries. 

The United States, despite the declared values of its founders, was created as a European nation. It was designed to function as one, and no doubt expected to remain one as a matter of common sense and intuitive self-interest. And indeed, that supremacy would last as a quite explicit policy until about the midpoint of the 20th century, when the logic underpinning the founders’ attitudes became subject to critical analysis. The 1965 Immigration Act permitted a flow of non-Europeans into the country. European supremacy, once a banal fact, transmuted gradually into a question.

Skipping to the present, America is due to become a European-minority nation in just a couple of decades. (We are working here with ideas of purity traditional to America when counting Europeans. right or wrongly).

In anticipation of this Gotterdammerung, the cultural primacy of Europeans in America is already being actively challenged, and even where usefully extant, lamented.

To have an opinion worth hearing on this matter means choosing from three options: it’s good, it’s bad, or it makes no difference. (This is true also in Europe, Australia, Canada, and anywhere else Europeans have been a majority; all such places are facing the same challenges.)

If you think it might be bad that European primacy is fading in the West, you can expect to be accused at some point of white supremacism. And that’s OK. You are not necessarily a lunatic, a bigot, an ideologue, or even a European. You just happen to believe European countries are better with a European character. 

And why might you believe that?

Well, you might be an art-hound and understand that the most richly creative nations have European majorities. You might be gay or lesbian and understand that your enemies are most comfortable in non-European company. You might be an anti-racist and understand that European racism, though real, is at least less open and acceptable than elsewhere (try being Indian in Turkey or African in China). You might be a romantic and understand that the third world, with its caste barriers and tribal character, all but prohibits romance. And so on.

Perhaps some form of liberal white supremacy, though in need of a new name, will become more popular as the demographic transition approaches.

To close, Donald Trump may well believe that America should remain a European-majority country. I am quite sure a lot of his supporters do.

But perhaps a greater diversity of people agree with them than are willing, at present, to say so.

David

The Meaning in the Chaos

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I watched the presidential debate last night without popcorn or alcohol, perhaps putting myself in a European minority. A large number of us have grown accustomed to viewing the politics of that unwieldy superpower as entertainment, a fact so conspicuous and banal that even the BBC has taken note of it.

In the early hours of the morning, as the livestreams began to air a dark stage being prepared, and live chats in sidebars, already in angry chaos, became too fast to read, I tried to will my perspective away from that temptation. I was only partly successful. Since everything predicted fireworks, I couldn’t help but want to see a flash or two.

In the event, the explosions were too bright and too numerous. The ‘debate’, which seemed to go on forever, was shambolic. Biden was doddery, badly-prepared, unable to utter a single unbroken, un-revised sentence. Trump, even more pumped up than usual, was far too keen to take advantage of his opponent’s inarticulacy, blustering and gurning and disagreeing with everything he heard.

In the first few minutes, it appeared as if the incumbent was going to walk it. Mr Biden, looking deathly grey, in some ways almost corpse-like, seemed greatly diminished, his fluttering eyes narrowed enough for afternoon sleep; but then the president lost control of his bloodlust, creating a loop of grandstanding and exasperation that would last until the moderator put us out of our misery.

My conservative American friends are reacting as one might expect. Trump destroyed the Democrat, ‘tore him a new one’. My liberal friends are claiming to be appalled – in an almost Victorian way – at the ‘indecency’ of the president, his ‘vulgarity’ and ‘bullying’ – as if their champion, lionised as a sunglasses-wearing badass just minutes before the debate, should now be considered with the softness owed to a limping deer caught on the wrong side of a dark forest.

The best that can be said for the event has already been said by everyone; it was “gloves off”, infinitely more ideological than previous debates (recall for comparison the comedy that was the entire Obama-Romney contest – an argument over nothing between people of the same sponsored worldview). The combatants this time believed in each other’s faults. There was red hatred in the air. And that is no bad thing. Politicians should have faith in their ideas enough to take the battle to those who oppose their realisation.

But that is the only positive; or at least the only obvious one.

As for the arguments, or those I could make out, Trump’s strongest were his answers on race, and particularly ‘critical race’ theory, a mumbo-jumbo slave-morality designed to incriminate white people for the offence of not being something else. Trump calmly and articulately denounced this vile corruption of young minds, and with a statesmanlike posture he should have been trained to exhibit throughout the evening. To this, Biden had no answer, only some lukewarm sentimentality about ‘unity’ and doing things ‘together’. Trump knew, as we know, that his opponent cannot move in the pocket of these sinister academics.

Woke capitalism, which is what Biden offers a return to, must be completely destroyed. Big Tech monopolies, together with the economic giants who depend on their favour for advertising, are intent on creating a dystopian society of inverted rank – one in which people are graded according to the victimhood of their ancestors, or (as in the case of women) according to an imagined victimhood in the present, rather than on their quality, which is surely the only thing a person ought to be rewarded for.

The stream I watched last night was provided by MSNBC, the worst of the country’s liberal platforms. In the commercial break immediately following the debate there was an internal advert that Trump himself might have been willing to pay for. It was for a show presented by an African-American lady named Joy Reid. Over gentle music, Ms Reid announced her thrill at being able to give “the perspective of a black woman, raised by a single mother…”

I have never watched the show she was hawking, only the odd clip here and there, but there is no doubt in my mind that it does not – and never will – depend entirely on popularity or quality for its continuation. The presenter has enough disadvantage points to secure her a job for life. We are supposed to ‘shut up and listen’, to revere and adore her once ‘negative’ qualities (were they ever so harshly regarded in her lifetime?) as divine qualifications.

But I refuse to do that. I refuse. And only one of the men on stage last night would support me in my dissent.

To close, there is something important and worrying about the fact the strongest arguments for Trump rarely come from Trump himself, but derive from the absurdity of the status quo he challenges. This feeds into a sense that America can do better.

Can the reader imagine the president’s very legitimate arguments coming from a sharper, more gentlemanly – yet equally forceful – figure? I can. And when that kind of man rises, the liars will have nothing to hide behind.

David