Book Review: Victoria

victoria book cover thomas hobbes

Before I start writing this review, first let me state my debt of gratitude to the ‘agent’ of its author, Thomas Hobbes: a military theorist and columnist by the name of William Lind.

I started reading his columns in about 2003. I was still a teenager at the time. I was not a terribly right wing teenager, although I read broadly and open-mindedly enough to have my brain fall out a few times. Lind had a very strong influence on me at least in some compartmentalized ways. I did not take him seriously when he would go on rants about ‘Cultural Marxism,’ but I paid very close attention to him when he wrote about war.

Now, I take him a whole lot more seriously across the board, either because I’m older and more knowledgeable, or just a whole lot less cool.

A little more than half of this book has been serialized at Traditional Right, so you can see if you’ll like it there.

This is a novel about a hypothetical future breakup of the United States told through stories of a series of low-grade civil wars. Not being someone with military experience, I can’t speak to the realism of the descriptions of the fighting, but it’s mostly told in an entertaining, almost jocular manner at times. The different parts of the US break down into their degenerate forms; each part suffering some sort of sclerosis unique to that region. A lot of the fighting happens along ethnic, religious, and ideological lines in an irreconcilable way.

The closest author that I’d compare it to is Heinlein — it’s a more involved book than something like Sixth Column.

As far as I can tell, books like this aren’t usually published anymore. It’s apologetically in favor of what a typical early 20th century progressive would recognize as in favor of the foundation Anglo-American values, which in our current culture are completely anathema. This book would be completely un-shocking in 1912, and maybe even unusually left-wing in some of its scenes.

Even though there’s a climactic scene in which radical leftist professors are slaughtered by sword-wielding men, considering how radically values have shifted since the early 20th century, a scene that seems politically unspeakable today would have made a lot more sense to our ancestors.

Without giving too much of it away, the plot is that the Federal government collapses after a brief war, and then an independent republic with its capitol in Maine dispatches advisers to turn various small wars in the other major regions of the US to its advantage. This includes a war against an all-female radical feminist nation that relies intensively on air power and bands of lesbian bikers. It’s a fun book in that way that’s willing to be a little silly when it’s using the plot to illustrate more serious ideas.

If you’ve heard about terms like ‘Fourth Generation War’ before, but aren’t sure where to start, this is not a great book to learn the concepts from the start. For that, you’d be better off reading Lind’s other work or a book like John Robb’s Brave New War or the many books that Lind cites in all of his work. This book on Maneuver Warfare also helps to make certain concepts in the novel more intelligible.

One of those interesting ideas is that of ‘retroculture,’ which is a path that some of the characters and entire countries in the book choose to take in order to guard against the Faustian temptations of modern technology. This is a more techno-fearing variant on the sort of cultural diversity seen in Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age, which was so influential that it inspired the creation of the Amazon Kindle, and even some terminology used in the NRx-osphere.

In the book, people first go back to older technology due to economic circumstances, but then as circumstances improve, they choose to be highly selective about what they adopt.

Overall, I was happy with the book, and read it start to finish over a period of a few days. It helped that I was already familiar with a lot of the books that this one references. I also rarely read novels published after the 1930s, and even then sparingly, so this was a welcome break from a lot of my heavier nonfiction reading.

You can buy the novel at Amazon.

Book Review: Templexity by Nick Land

Book cover - Templexity by Nick Land

This will be a short review because Templexity is a short book, just released yesterday.

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably already familiar with Nick Land’s recent writing. Templexity is rather different from his blogging work: it’s what mainstream literary and film criticism would read like if the American mainstream wasn’t hopelessly mired in the Brezhnev era of political correctness.

The Foreward doesn’t really sell the book, but it picked up for me as the professor began using the movie Looper as a jumping off point to write about contemporary politics, economics, cyberpunk, and older science fiction.

“You should go to China,” Joe is told by his criminal overseer , Abe. “I’m going to France,” Joe insists stubbornly. Abe responds with what – for us – is the most critical line in the movie: “I’m from the future. You should go to China.” With these words, Looper makes Sino-Futurism its topic. The hyper -modern China Event overspills the existing order of time.

Visually, what’s interesting about Looper is that the American landscape is completely dilapidated. Ordinary people who are fortunate drive rusted-out cars. Gangsters ride hover-cycles imported from China. That is to say, imported from the future. As a literary device, Land describes the city as futuristic, a clustering of future-time events, whereas what’s outside is kept relatively unchanging, in the past.

A ‘city of the future’ is Gibsonian in precisely this sense. That is nothing new, nor could it be. It has always leaked back, in coincidence with modernity. Tomorrow is a social magnet, as has been known for some considerable time, at first merely reflectively, but ever increasingly as a techno-responsive object.

Civilization is an accelerating process, not a steady state. As its name suggests, it is channeled primarily through cities (which explode). The incandescent intensity of a hypergrowth-dominated urban future consumes our historical horizon , and an exceptionally impressive perspective on this developing spectacle is to be found in 21st century Shanghai – a fact Hollywood has no real choice but to relay.

Reading this short tract, it reminded me of the time in my life when I could buy an American magazine and be impressed by what was written there. I used to be able to read American magazines and newspapers and feel like I was gleaning meaningful acculturation from it. I no longer feel that way when I read most of what Americans publish.

But I felt that way again when I read this one. From the book:

“What happened to America?” is the Cyberpunk question par excellence.

Indeed. The reason why this is readable, and most of what you can get in Anglo-America isn’t anymore, is perhaps because of this dilemma. America finds itself trapped in a paradox of time, of negative interest, fading slowly backwards.

Book Review: The Evolutionary Psychology Behind Politics by Anonymous Conservative

rk

I picked up this book on Jim’s advice, and enjoyed it. It’s a mix of evolutionary psychology, r/K selection theory, and revanchist politics. The anonymous author’s thesis is that leftism maps cleanly onto an r-type reproductive strategy. In this view, it’s simpler to view ideology as an expression of biological strategy. Cutting away the pretentions of culture, civilization, and morality, viewing humans as just another scurrying species roaming the earth, killing, fucking, fighting, and eating, Anonymous brings back social Darwinism like it never went out of style.

He writes

“Treason as a Darwinian strategy will be even more likely to arise within the model of group competition presented here because within every group, the r-selected anticompetitor has one primary Darwinian threat, and that is the successful, K-selected, individual competitor within their population.”

K-selected strategists stand in for conservatives: people who favor a high-investment parenting style along with economic and military competition for resources based around the patriarchal family structure. r-selected strategists instead seek to procreate as much as possible to suck down resources while avoiding conflict.

The chief predator of the leftist is the right-wing competitor. The author likens leftism to the split reproductive strategy of the cuttlefish and other creatures. When a male in a species with split r/K selection can’t compete with the most ‘K’ members, it may develop novel strategies of subterfuge to provoke distracting conflicts among K-selected males to then sneak in access to mates and resources:

“Often this will occur while promoting circumstances likely to provoke conflict, such as increasing proximity and diversity simultaneously, or stoking tensions through demanding concessions from their own group to any other groups with differing racial, religious, or class characteristics.”

This is the way that the Blue Empire typically triumphs over the Red Empire. The strategy followed by leftists is to curb open competition among men whenever possible, and to also prevent discrimination by the more capable against the least capable (“to each according to his need, from each according to his ability”). The left-wing social group is the cartel, the union, or the mob: it discourages direct and favors the weight of the masses to ensure continued access to resources.

What I appreciated about this is that it forced me to look at social issues from outside the framework of ideology and the established values of enlightenment debate (namely the conceit that rational discussion will create more effective political structures).

The author also cuts to why so many young men on the right tend to fantasize about ‘collapse’ scenarios: because K-selected people are far better adapted to resource scarcity than the r-selected are. He writes:

“In the collapse, K-selected conditions of free competition will again return, and this will both cull the population, and trigger ideological /strategy conversions in those who are capable. Once again, the K-selected psychology will emerge as the predominant psychology of the population.”

The book briefly tries to make sense of libertarians and comes up with an inadequate pioneer-type hypothesis for them — that they’re pursuing a social strategy more apt to a frontier with low population density and high resource availability. Libertarianism, when taken at its proposition of the non-aggression principle (forbidding legal aggression) is more of a hybrid strategy that sublimates competition  into economics rather than violence.

One way which leftists subvert this strategy is just by avoiding overt aggression, instead using subversion and activism to disrupt the social strategies that would be necessary to maintain a human population based on direct, rules-based competition.

Feminism can be interpreted within this framework as a sort of ideological contagion that enables women to pursue r-selected life patterns at the expense of the successful men. The difficulty of telling the difference between a solid partner for K-selected child-rearing and an r-selected mimic disrupts the reproductive strategies of men looking to invest in their children.

Besides waiting for Ragnarök, the author suggests ‘stimulating the amygdalae’ of liberals (meaning scare the shit out of them to help restore their ability to perceive threats in their environment), increasing group loyalty among the K-selected, cultural separation, political secession, and war.

On his blog, he writes:

“[Leftists] have no ability to just leave fellow Americans alone to interact freely, and succeed and be happy. They have to intrude, to alleviate an anxiety that they will never be rid of. Even worse, they are so instinct driven, they can’t even see intellectually that they are bringing about the very harshness which will be their undoing and destroy the very facade of civilization that they need, to keep from being killed violently for their evil.”

Whether or not his neurological and psychological theories are entirely true, it’s a promising rhetorical strategy. It dehumanizes the left, fosters cohesion among the K-selected where there would be instead be competition for the diminished pool of resources, and tampers with the tendency among right-wingers to feel excessive levels of mercy, pity, and restraint towards rival populations who seek to subvert and destroy them.

The spirit of universalism within the West makes even bitter enemies within a country tend to see each other as, nonetheless, part of the same polyglot tribe. Leftists tend to take this to an even greater extreme, proclaiming the ‘universal brotherhood of man,’ which tends to limit civil conflict to the cold war of democracy.

Speaking of ‘brothers…’

cainabel

Cain and Abel – Titian, 1544

Book Review – What to Expect When No One’s Expecting by Jonathan Last

What to Expect When No One's Expecting

Rather than rehash this book, which Amazon’s synopsis can do for you, or Jonathan Last has already done in the Wall Street Journal, instead I’ll discuss some of the misconceptions that it corrected in my thinking. Before reading this, I had thought that the American demographic situation was not quite as a dire as the European or Japanese crises yet. Like most, I had assumed that immigrant fertility was making up for weak birth rates among more established populations.

He writes:

From a combined Total Fertility Rates (TFR) of 3.7 in 1960 (the end of the Baby Boom), the fertility rate in the United States dropped to 1.8 in 1980, a 50 percent decline in a single generation. Since that low point, we’ve rebounded slightly. Our TFR went as high as 2.12 in 2007 before slumping back to 2.01 in 2009. 13 But again, that rebound was largely driven by the high fertility of immigrants, whose numbers surged from the 1980s through the early part of the 2000s.

[Over] the last decade, 30 percent of America’s total population growth was the result of the labors of a group that makes up only 16 percent of the country.

What Last doesn’t touch in this entertaining, quick, statistics-laden book is the issue of human biological diversity in relation to intelligence and culture. Last’s tone throughout is “I’m-not-judging-I’m-just-reporting-the-facts-ma’am,” which lessens the persuasive impact while making it more accessible to a broader audience.

He does touch on the eugenics movement and the unintended consequences of the state promotion of birth control, but he doesn’t do much to explore the specific impacts of seeing the worst elements in society procreate without limit while the upper classes sterilize themselves into non-existence and send their young women into demanding careers in order to render more dollars unto the super-state:

Like the G.I. Bill, the Pill is an example of unintended consequences. Margaret Sanger willed the Pill into existence so that the educated classes would not be “shouldering the burden of the unthinking fecundity of others.” Instead , it has been the educated middle class— Sanger’s people— who have used the Pill to tamp down their fertility.

The author also surveys the various pro-fertility policies that governments in Europe and Asia have attempted to use to curb infertility, and finds that all (including the particularly bombastic Russian policy) have failed in the typical Hayekian-unintended-consequences way.

He proposes rolling back the specific aspects of Civil Rights legislation that grant universities such market power (their legal monopoly on intelligence testing) to make it easier for young women to have children in their most fertile years, and rolling back Social Security, Medicare, and other Great Society programs. These recommendations are only noteworthy in that a writer for the Weekly Standard made them, but none of the policy proposals quoted could be implemented.

I recommend the book for a quick read on the airplane. If you’re secular (to reveal my viewpoint, I’m a former extremist-atheist  in the midst of converting to Catholicism), you may find some of his conclusions to be challenging about the clear links between fertility and religiosity, although he does so in an exquisitely inoffensive manner calculated to keep left-wing rankles below simmer temperature. The statistics included will update you on some surprising trend changes, and it also taught me that many demographic projections are also based on horseshit UN prognostications by useless people. Unfortunately, those useless guesses get re-used in other models, which are in turn used to make important decisions in both public and private sectors.

The largest issue in the US is less fertility decline, but the total disinterest in fertility by the American intellectual, cultural, and economic elite. Part of this disinterest is cloaked in a combination of continued overpopulation hysteria and a Bill Gates-style belief that the world’s population of indigents can be uplifted through charity and education, because all brains are the same, and it’s evil to notice that some populations are significantly more capable than others.

While the author alludes to this in his description of insular, affluent, white urban neighborhoods — what the disgusting fascistic right-reactionary internet calls SWPL neighborhoods — he never goes out and makes the connection, although he does make the cursory, ideologically correct denunciation of eugenics expected of him.

The problems being discussed are too sophisticated to be crammed into a book on a single issue. The problems are vast, interconnected, too complicated for even people of genius-level intelligence to explain to other geniuses, and beyond the capabilities of a democratic state to resolve.

The democratic states do what they seem to be doing — blaring propaganda on every channel available, while real living standards decline in drops and slides.

The upper half of the class pyramid would rather import new people than have children in the quantity that would be needed to keep civilization advancing. Merely cutting off the importation of new people wouldn’t resolve the fertility issue — the example of Japan stands against that notion. A new eugenics movement in the mold of the old would also be unlikely to succeed — it’s easy to make the argument from this book and others that the current dysgenic path is an unintended consequence of eugenic policy, particularly as the promotion of birth control was (and is) most enthusiastically taken up by the highest quality genetic stock.

There are problems to which there are no complete solutions. In a burning building, not everyone can be rescued. As men are not above nature, but a part of it, we must adapt to a social structure that does encourage human flourishing, or die out. In this, we are not so different from the animals and plants, yet secular society seems more insistent on the denial of physical mortality than religion ever was.

In the arena of democracy, any policy proposal that involves socking it to the old, as with Stanley Druckenmiller’s noble but doomed campaign, will be in-feasible, no matter how many dollars are spent on campaigning, or how eloquent the speeches are, or how many public-minded oligarchs join the campaign.

What should we expect when no one’s expecting, anyway?

Death.