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05 April 2017


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This is one reason I've been a Paulista. On the same side as me on many issues.



CNN's Dana Bash has a "scoop" that Trump has told members of Congress he is considering military action against the Assad govt. Another anonymous leak, of course. McCain and Graham are calling for shutting down the Syrian air force and claim we "must show that no foreign power can or will protect Assad now." So in other words, they're counting on Russia and Iran backing down and apparently don't care about the risk of killing Russian or Iranian troops in the process, or the world war that could spark.

McCain is telling Trump that this is his "moment" in history. He is optimistic that Trump will "take some action," goes on about Obama doing nothing in 2013, that Trump needs to correct that mistake. McCain is also talking about threatening that if Syrian air force flies, we will crater their air bases. Says we can do that "easily". Also says we will create "safe zones."

Lister claims US military has radar evidence of Syrian air force dropping CW munitions. Doesn't offer any links or quotes.

US/UK/France have a UN resolution in the works. To be considered tonight, apparently around 7pm. Doesn't appear to call for force, yet.

I can't shake this feeling of dread. I'm wondering if this is what it felt like during the Cuban missile crisis.

David Habakkuk

If one wants to get by in life, it is commonly prudent to attempt to understand people of whom one does not approve. And indeed, the endeavour can be full of intellectual interest.

Being partly, by background, a ‘self-hating Calvinist’, I have never found ‘Mayflower man’ difficult to understand. And indeed, I can get carried away by latent ‘Cromwellian’ sympathies, particularly when confronted by people like David Cameron and Boris Johnson.

But my considered views, and deepest sympathies, are not with Cromwell, or indeed royalist ‘ultras’. As regards both the the English Civil War, and its American successor, they are with those who tried to hold a ‘middle ground’, and had to choose, when that became impossible, and then tried to restore that ‘middle ground’, after the attempt to impose a single ‘ideology’ on a diverse country had led to disaster.

The Fairfax family had been crucial in turning the north of England against royal absolutism, and the Lord General Sir Thomas Fairfax won the decisive battle of Naseby in June 1645. But, a little over a decade later, he collaborated with another Cromwellian general, Monck, in enabling the restoration of Charles II.

So, at heart, I am a ‘Fairfax man’ – in part, precisely because I do not find it difficult to empathise with Cromwell. Likewise, I do not find it difficult to understand Marxist millenarianism. And it is important to understand that the Jacobin mentality of the Russian ‘intelligenty’ was enormously attractive to intellectuals who were not ethnically Russian, and who lived in the ‘borderlands’ which had, traditionally, been contested by rival empires.

Such people could turn nationalist – like TTG’s forbears. But some of them thought that to be nationalist, amid a chaotic ethnic, cultural, and religious muddle, was a recipe for a ‘war of all against all’.

So, belief in an utopian future, guaranteed by a supposedly scientific analysis of history, which promised a new world in which all these old bitternesses and hatreds would be transcended, could be enormously attractive.

If you want to understand how Dzerzhinsky ended, you need to understand how he started out – as an idealist.

What has now happened is that the mentality of the Russian ‘intelligenty’ has come together with that of ‘Mayflower Man’, and both have been transformed in weird ways.

Current history was anticipated in classic novels. Perhaps David Brooks is really a combination of Olive Chancellor, in Henry James’s ‘The Bostonians’, his great conflicted novel which talked about the Civil War through its aftermath, and ‘Ivan Homeless’, in ‘The Master and Margarita’, Mikhail Bulgakov’s great novel which is also, although this could not be made explicit, about the Russian civil war and its aftermath.

And Bulgakov, like James, and also Herman Melville and Henry Adams in the works of art they created out of their different civil wars, could not but be on both sides of the argument.

When, however, David Brooks starts talking about an American ‘myth’ – as though there was only one legitimate conception of the identity of people who came from outside into the ‘New World’ – I realise that this represents simply a particularly pernicious coming together of different kinds of ‘totalitarian’ thinking.

So, ‘Mayflower man’ and the Russian ‘intelligenty’ come together with elements of – dubiously reconstructed – ‘fascist’ thinking, transmitted through Leo Strauss, Allan Bloom, ‘Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and All.’

Unsurprisingly, we have Brooks talking in the ‘New York Times’ about a ‘unifying American story’, when his ‘story’ is now more capable of ‘unifying’ the diverse peoples of the contemporary United States than that of Trotky was capable of creating ‘unity’ in what had been the Russian Empire.

(See https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/21/opinion/the-unifying-american-story.html?_r=0 .)

This ‘totalitarian’ vision is, like those of Trotsky and Stalin, a recipe for fragmentation and division. It makes your country hated, among those people like Brooks expect will love it, and threatens to split it down the middle.

Priam's Crazy Daughter

I once wore a "Nietzsche is Dead" T-shirt to a class under the direction of a Marxist professor, who got his degree from Cambridge, where it must be a requirement to be Marxist. I did it because so many of the others in the class were contorting themselves to try to figure out how to show their Marxist creds in a class where the discussion of the material didn't necessarily have to be stuffed at all into the Materialism that directs the underlying philosophies of Marxism. I was having to direct the questioning on an I.A. Richards essay that contained only one incidental passage that might fit into the materialistic Marxist worldview. When no one could answer my questions about the main points of Richards' essay, I forced the professor to answer those questions. He could, but he was clearly annoyed that I asked the questions I felt Richards would want me to ask.

I, as I have pointed out, am a Christian. It seems smug to me to assume that God has been proven not to exist when we have little idea what really happens after death.

I was, and still am, fond of Henri Bergson's Creative Evolution. Bergson's philosophy was eventually given more credit than when he first debated Einstein. The rationalism of Descartes is important, but keep in mind that Descartes used his sort of rationalism to prove to himself that God exists. Einstein's early abstract rationalism had to eventually deal with quantum physics, while Bergson's intuition and experience based theories were better able to handle that.

I like the references to God in politicians' speeches, and I pray to God that they are referencing him sincerely. As for Bergson, my experiences and intuition are as important to me as are the use of logic. I say that I have experienced God's presence in my life. For someone to tell me that I am imagining it, is an insult.

I once had a discussion with the surgeon who operated on my mother as she died on the table. He asked me to come in to talk with him because he knew I was the one who intuitively knew she would not survive the operation. He wanted to talk because he, as a surgeon, had been in discussions often with patients who wanted to tell them about their "out of body" experiences while under the knife.

To claim that anyone can know how God is worshiped currently on earth means that the research is based on on perhaps a faulty understanding of how many people actually do worship God.

different clue


Did Darwin invent Social Darwinism itself? Or was that invented by others later? What role did British Victorian Imperialismists play in inventing Social Darwinism?

Certainly the Malthusianist justifications and Free Market Moneytheism of the British authorities which informed their decisions to keep shipping grain, beef, and butter OUT of Ireland during the Potato Blight because "let the unworthy Irish die" are what turned the Potato Blight into the Potato Famine. And that came before Darwin.



Brace for impact.


Putin now has to make a decision. Abandon Assad or fight Pax Americana. I think he folds.


If you don't know, no one does. That the neocons were responsible was the impression I carried away from Wedel's book, maybe assuming continuity with an interview you had with Feith in 2001. I should have looked at the book again before I commented. She does make it clear that Clinton and Bush Administrations saw a continuous evolution of what she calls "flexians" but I thought they almost always end up as neocons.



If knew I might feel better about it or worse. Many felt abandoned by my departure. That still hurts. pl



I'm not so sure about that folding bit. I think that Richardstevenhack raises some very valid points (immediately below in this thread). And coming on the heels of the Islamist terrorist attack in St. Petersburg, bending the knee to the sponsors and perpetuators of this terrorism in his own nation will go hard with President Putin and many, many Russians I rather suspect.

So, brace for impact, indeed. If it comes to that, it's been nice knowing you, citoyens.



Your logic about Trump only making himself more vulnerable to the machinations of the Borg should he accede to their aggression against Syria and their allies, particularly Russia, is correct.

As Richardstevenhack observes below, the stakes for Russia's interests should they allow Syria to be done down are massive, and arguably irremediable. I am not of the opinion that President Putin, and more broadly, those in charge of the Russian national interest, will fold up their tents and slink away when these stakes are on the table.

Perhaps there is some possibility that Trump can be convinced that his originally-voiced support for collaboration with Russia (and grudgingly, the other members of R+6) was, and remains, sound. And that his showing weakness on this pivotal point will only embolden the NeoCons to further press their attacks against him, and not make them back off. His own intelligence agencies are assuredly feeding him skewed reports, as they stand to benefit from the restoration of the Borg Consensus. Here is where he shows us whether he is a leader or a cowardly gasbag.



Excellent post. The world has changed. It still seems familiar but trust in experts and government is gone. There is no Left left.

The West is headed towards escalating the Syrian war. Inevitably the mini WWIII in Iraq and Syria will expand into Turkey, Russia and Iran. This is happening due to the powerful need of the rich to hoard war profits and the division within mankind between them and us.

The change started in the late 1970s with the end of the draft in the West and start of the corporate counter coup. Politicians were bought and the little people runover.

Eight people own half of the world’s wealth. Only the Great Khan surpassed today’s inequality. Human beings are being forced to revert to old religions and tribal roots to survive. A stark tyranny of the few, hidden by propaganda, is the outcome.


today on CNN I saw Mr Woolsey talking to Tapper, that the bombing of Syria could be done in passing on way to bombing Iranian nuclear sites (paraphrasing him). Tapper seemed surprised to hear that, but seemed to accept that. It was surreal to me.

Sam Peralta


"Here is where he shows us whether he is a leader or a cowardly gasbag."

I agree. This decision of his will be one of the most momentous of his presidency. Either he's going to take a stand and take on the Borg assault or the Borg is gonna take him. IMO, this is when he needs Bannon more than Kushner & Ivanka. He's got everything he needs, as it should be clear this is a false flag. He has a chance to truly counter-attack the Borg using their war hysteria as a foil and come out as a statesman and more importantly buttress his America First brand.


Assad may 'fold' and offer to be taken to the ICC in the Hague and sit there and wait for the internationally conducted inquiry who is responsible for the latest - and previous gas attacks. The result of such inquiry may be finally showing the truth that we all want. And it may not be acceptable to the Neocons. This way Russia may be an advisor, and get the upper hand in the view of the "international public opinion" - and that is finally the price.



"I'd like to see support for these claims about environmentalists and Rx fire in Australia. Until then I would put them under the same heading as claims about this "gas attack": horse-hockey."

I happened to be in a doctors surgery yesterday and picked up a copy of "Wild" the Australian bushwalkers magazine. It contained an article by one "Michele Kohout" in what professes to be a scholarly article about the evolution of Australias forests. In that article she labels fire as a "disturbance" to the forest and its species which by implication should be avoided. The plain unvarnished reality is that fire is not a "disturbance" to the Australian flora but an essential component to its survival.

It was telling that the article did not mention aboriginal land management practices and their effect on the landscape. The reason for that is because the greens re deeply wedded to the romantic idea of "wilderness" - the forest as primeval, pristine and untouched by human hand. The truth is that the Australian landscape was managed by aboriginals using fire as their tool - all of it.

The bushwalkers are not walking in a pristine wilderness. This unromantic idea hurts. The fact is that every part of Australia was owned by a tribe who knew every little bit of that landscape and managed it (you can find tribal maps on Google). The greens aversion to burning, logging, ,etc. is an attempt to preserve their romantic fantasy that they are walking in the garden of eden, communing with Gaia. They oppose any and all efforts to manage the landscape, plus logging, four wheel driving, horse touring, grazing and of course the development of any roads or tourist facilities.

English Outsider

"although the non-existence of god as worshipped on earth was completely disproven by 19th century scientists,"

1. Darwin was very aware of the theological implications of his work but he didn't himself do theology. Nor did acolytes such as Huxley, not to any useful effect. The modern extension of "Darwinism", Dawkinite atheism, is also not in itself a creed. It is merely a refusal to examine the Transcendent though the lens of established religion. That's fair enough, since the language of Christian theology is now no longer used by most of us. When it extends to a refusal to acknowledge the possibility of the existence of the Transcendent, however, it goes a step further than is warranted.

Dawkinite atheism, or modern materialism, now goes even further and sometimes seeks to deny such phemomena as "consciousness" or "free will". I don't think it's very happy with "moral values", either, so we get the odd spectacle of modern materialists lecturing us on the "good" whilst not accepting that the "good" truly exists.

Since modern materialism is the belief system of choice for many progressives, it's not surprising that their theology - or whatever modern equivalent you choose to substitute for that term - is as much a muddle as their politics or their economics.

2. "God bless America" is a perfectly valid statement. It is merely couched in terms you and I no longer understand. There are, one gathers, many Americans who do still understand such terms. Why attempt to deny those Americans the free use of them? I thought "Freedom" was the main export the progressives specialise in. Why not try some at home?

3. "in russia, there appears to be the start of some awful theocracy."

It's a theme amongst Russian propagandists that they are attempting to preserve traditional moral values as against the lack of such values in the West. I can't of course say whether those propagandists are stating the Russian case correctly. It's be nice if they were, of course, and even better if we in the West started to examine our own moral values; those values could do with a bit of examining.

But to claim the Russia is some sort of theocracy simply because the Russian Weltanschauung is different is pushing things too far. In any case any Russian with any sense would be more interested in survival than theology at present. It's not long since Russia was no more than a mafia state. It's clawed it's way out of that condition but one suspects that if some neocons had their way it would pretty soon cease to be a state at all. For the Russians some "awful theocracy", therefore, is probably the last thing in the minds of most of them.

We might agree about Iceland.

Swamp Yankee

Walrus -- this is a splendid essay, and I couldn't agree more about the need to think and "dream a newer world" at the level of philosophy.

However, speaking as one who left academia, I fear that, in this country at least, and likely in all the Anglophone countries, academia will be the last place to produce such thought. The academic establishment is composed of a core cadre where qualities like originality of thought, willingness to rock the boat, a true connection with people outside the ivory tower -- all of these qualities are selected _against_, weeded out for the most part. One writer I saw compared becoming a tenured academic to getting a regular column on the New York Times op-ed page -- most of the really interesting people get thrown out well before reaching those positions.

I do think people are starting to see the necessity of a general overhaul at the level of first principles, and I'm hopeful about it coming from people outside academia. I'm with Jefferson, when he said that in matters of morals, better to ask a farmer than a professor of metaphysics.

Indeed, I would posit your own very fine essay above does itself constitute part of a general attempt to rethink our condition here on the pages of SST. In my own life, I've found myself drawn to ideas of localism - the democracy of our town meetings here in New England, the integrity of our community life -- as well as fishing and agriculture, as antidotes to the increasingly technologically-driven madness beloved of the Borgist elites. Like Voltaire says at the end of "Candide" - "we must each cultivate our own garden." The Book of Ecclesiastes says something similar, if I recall correctly.

Thanks again for your work and the excellent essay.


"Christopher Lasch, who excoriated modern leftist intellectuals for their actual contempt for ordinary people"

could please give the name of the book? thanks in advance.

John Merryman

Efficiency is to do more with less, so the ideal of efficiency would be to do everything with nothing.

The problem is our linear thought process in a cyclical and reciprocal reality.

Time is not the point of the present moving past to future, but change turning future to past. The thermodynamic environment in which we evolved is far more foundational than the linear narratives we create. They simply lead us to the top of the mountain from which we fall back down again. Life. Easy come. Easy go.


I wonder how this line of thought might extend into the Californian suburbs, where, despite logic, people build flammable houses, to live in areas where wildland fires are not just possible, but common.

The methodology of arming all tribes in the target territory and turning them against each other, then waltzing in after any possible resistance has consumed itself seems like a particularly green strategy, if all you want is to extract resources and declare what is left to be "pristine".


i will never forget the heat and the dry wind on saturday morning.it was a warning to flee to safer ground.


Depends on the type of forest. IIRC, fire as a 'regular' component of forest regeneration is generally true for dry sclerophyll forest that contains high proportions of eucalypt species, ie most of south east Australian forest. It's not true in the wetter, temperate and sub-tropical rainforest found in northern New South Wales and north of there.
Eucalypts have a number of fire-related adaptations that the warmer/wetter adapted tree species don't have. When a fire burns a boundary zone between the two forest types, the eucalypts will tend to colonise into the rainforest. Over time (if there are no further fires), the shorter-lived eucalypts are succeeded by the rainforest species, to re-establish the original vegetation distribution.

Babak Makkinejad

That is not a factual statement: "The left in Europe and America have never, ever bought into this idea of the "end of history" nonsense."

That was an idea of Marxists, that the Proletarian Revolution will bring the withering away of the state and the end of history.


Lasch was complex and was always critical of things closest to his own heart. His better criticisms of the left developed over a longer series of books, beginning with "Haven in a Heartless World" (1979) a book about experts and the family. Some sharper expressions of his views can be seen in his 1992 Harper's Magazine article: "Hillary Clinton, Child Saver," (1992) and in a posthumously published book "The Revolt of the Elites: And the Betrayal of Democracy"(1994). His 1991 "The True and Only Heaven: Progress and Its Critics" is a challenging intellectual history of progress and its alternatives, especially populism, in the American tradition.


Pax Americana is doing a fabulous job of brankrupting itself not only financially and morally but also in terms of any popular identity cohesion, Chinese have no need to do anything but sit back and let nature take its course and let usa spill its treasure and follow behind with the investment funds and hearts and minds for rebuilding...theyve already far outplayed goldman sachs in africa.

In terms of liquid cash reserves, a quick wikipedia search would reveal nearly all are in Asia.

The majority of the worlds inhabitants are outside the west and in Asia, where, low and behold, multitudes have lived for many thousand of years. In many ways, except as a casino capitalism fling or at least a trip to vegas, West is irrelevant to Asia.

Most of the right wing parties in asia are far left of the leftwing parties of the West. Like S korea ditched its leader last month and putting her on trial, Asians will often take their numbers to the streets and shut down gov & business with nationwide strikes to avoid or shut down the shenanigans the armchair slacktivist fakeleft espouses in us politics. There is power in numbers.

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