This essay is very applicable to post-Soviet Russian history and current Russian politics. The 90’s were a time of a useless (or mostly useless) state dominated by the oligarchs who were actually just organized crime. Most western liberals seem to be incapable of believing that Russians would actually vote for Putin. But they do, many Russians who don’t even particularly like Putin’s politics vote for him.

The reason is that he’s proven to be capable. He put the state back together. Not single-handedly of course but the capability of his power was the driving force. And the majority of Russian people have benefited from the state being rebuilt as a relatively capable institution. That’s where the trust in Putin comes from. Everyone over 30 and especially over 40 knows first hand what’s coming for the west as described in the essays of the last two weeks. And they know that they escaped it. They give a lot of credit for that to Putin, rightfully so. They deeply understand the necessity of capability. (As an aside, the performative nature of Russian liberals modeled on that of the west doesn’t find much purchase for the same reason Russians generally trust Putin.)

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My wife is Crimean.

When we discussed Navalny, she just snorted with derision. She will vote for Putin until the end of time for what he has done for Crimea.

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Good example. I often think of Putin's Russia as a beacon hope, and an example of how a nation can come back from the brink. However, Russia in 1991, hellish though it was, had some advantages that we don't: a relatively unified people with a shared history and culture, and a religious outlook that communism had failed to crush. We have no such glue to help us reorder our nation states.

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I'm new here and it's assuredly my very limited view. But there is no mention here of how Putin, once in power, embraced the heads of organized crime, or in effect created a massive political-organized crime syndicate, through the gifting of power in exchange for fealty to shady businessmen. Is it justifiable to see Russia as it is today almost as an example of the structures to which western states will devolve as soon as the supply chains dry up, the power goes out? It's compelling to think about what Washington DC would be like if disagreeing with a president, say, meant you ended up floating in Potomac River as opposed to staging your next press conference.

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Except that’s not an accurate representation of what happened or how Russia works today. Which isn’t to say that there are no oligarchs left in Russia nor that there’s no corruption in Russia.

What you’re describing is the standard western narrative based on how the 90’s in Russia were a flowering of democracy and all that. And what you’re describing happening under Putin is exactly what the 90’s were like. The “dissident” Russian oligarchs currently living in London were violent gangsters with massive political power and influence.

What’s coming for the west is Russia in the 90’s, not Russia today. The actual Russian 90’s, not the western media portrayal. And as someone who knew Russia well in the late 90’s, I promise that we’re not going to enjoy it.

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If I could add one more anecdote, about power and who wields it in Russia.

Take Crimea, a place I know well as my wife was born there and lived there until only a few years ago.

It is "ruled" today by a bloke called Sergey Aksyonov. He is well respected and as a member of United Russia, he has the backing of both the people of Crimea and it's parliament.

How did he end up in power ? He was a tough guy, a borderline gangster in Crimea in 2014, when the Russians took it over in early 2014. During this time of turmoil and danger, (according to my wife), he was the only leader who was prepared to stand up clearly behind the Russians. All the other politicians hid or hedged.

And 10 years later, this is still remembered. And so Sergey Aksyonov, a man with a semi-criminal past is now the much loved leader of Crimea for as long as he wants to be.

Power comes from many places.

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The Russian voter has to be practical, the Crimean even more so. Nobody who came through the immediate post-Soviet years with money or any power is going to be squeaky clean. The context of the times make that impossible. And for anyone who lived through those times, which for Crimeans wouldn’t have even begun to end until 2014, the ability to contrast between then and now to answer the question of material benefit as a result of who you vote for is stark.

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Okay, but what were his pronouns? And did he embrace intersectionality? :)

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Thanks so much for this response. Very helpful. Much appreciated, Lex!

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I think what you wrote also applies to China,

at least as far as the authority of the state is concerned

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Even if we take this as an accurate representation, it still makes the point. He gets things done. Maybe they aren't always good things. Maybe he doesn't get them done the way bien-pensants want him to. However, with Putin at the helm the State actually does things rather than thrashing around like a dying fish. It's an organization instead of a bunch of lost and broken pieces.

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Ask Abramovich and Khodorovsky how that worked out.

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Excellent essay . Two comments

1. “ Since it is now clear that most western governments have difficulty distinguishing fact from fantasy, there is no particular reason why we should believe them. Heaven alone knows what the public reaction will be as the full extent of the Ukraine shambles begins to unfold.” So true . We await the chaos (see recent essay by James Carden).

2. Also on Ukraine . A perfect real life example of your point that in Western societies adrift in aimless liberalism , when state systems break down, criminals and fanatics are the most likely to emerge as leaders . After the months of Maidan Square protests had bogged down in meaningless performance art, a dedicated group of murderous Banderist fanatics used extreme violence ( mass murders of both police and protesters by trained hidden snipers ) successfully to precipitate the power change they sought in Ukraine . One of their leaders boasted about it afterwards on mass media . “it was just a gay parade until we made things happen”.

Tony Kevin

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"But the greatest weakness at all levels in modern political culture is one that I’ve touched on several times in these essays: the modern preference for performative acts and speech in place of actual practical activity, and the tendency to confuse the one with the other. Of course, this approach only succeeds as long as really critical problems don’t come along: Covid is perhaps a foretaste of the performative way in which our political elites fool themselves they are managing problems, when they are really just trying to use words to make them go away."

Something I wrote a while back:

These people don't live in The Real World.

The US in general and its elites in particular, in and out of MSM, government and the military, live in a world increasingly consumed by symbol, spectacle and abstraction. Not only that, but they confuse wish-fulfillment with reality. Decide that you're going to identify as a different gender, race, ethnicity, hell, decide that you're a member of a different species and woe betide anyone who doesn't go along with the charade. They might even get themselves "cancelled".

Hell, even the consequences of their (symbolic) actions are themselves largely symbolic. Melvin didn't get to put on a TED talk because someone dug up an old Tweet of his and now he's "literal Hitler" for a while.

For that matter, the truly Great and Good rarely even face those kinds of consequences. They can cause institutions to fail everywhere they go - but as long as they parrot today's approved platitudes, they glide from internship to government sinecure to think tank to academia to to financial services to corporate board to to consulting gig to MSM Talking Head, sometimes more than one simultaneously. Most probably never having had a 9-5 job, much less done farm or factory work, in their lives. These days, they may never even physically show up to work, ever, but their bank accounts rarely seem to reflect this.

They can even engage in outright fraud, but a big enough fish will only pay a fine, a portion of his ill-gotten gains. Meanwhile, he remains as free as a bird, and probably doesn't even face social ostracism. Last I checked, Jon Corzine is not on the naughty list of the people who matter.

Since results don't matter and there are few consequences for losing, even for catastrophe, everything becomes a matter of spin. All problems can be solved with better P.R., and there is no greater triumph than when some newscaster recites that glib talking point you just coined or when your FB post went viral, your instagram noticed by the right kind of influencer. In other words, winning is a matter of successful symbol manipulation. Speaking of spin, virtue signaling is an obsession, even unto rank hypocrisy, and the Davos Set think nothing of flying a private jet to a conference where they can congratulate themselves on their commitment to stopping climate change. Again, if there are to be any consequences, then those are for the little people to deal with.

Even in their dwindling contact with the physical world, the elites live in a world of wish-fulfillment.

Push a button and whatever food or whatever else you want is brought to your door by some peon, paid for seamlessly by some electrons exchanged between banks that may not even have a physical location within a thousand miles of your location, if they have locations at all. Hell, you can even get laid via internet, just swipe right on the lucky profile. Everything is taken care of in the background, your credit card billed and airline miles accumulated automatically and the food or the girl just show up. Somehow. By Uber, I guess. Mundane questions like "How do I feed the human kittens this week and pay for school supplies and make the rent?" never come into the equation.

These are people who confuse their fantasies with reality to the point where they actually believe their own press releases. They give an order and it happens. They proclaim their puppets in Kabul to be wise and stable technocrats, their well-trained military striding from triumph to triumph and So Let It Be Done, So Let It Be Written. "So let it be written" - that's the word, that's all that need be done and the little people just somehow make it happen. For sheer lack of contact with the real world, these people make Louis XVI look like a medieval gong farmer or a pygmy tribesman by comparison.

Contrast the Taliban. Symbol, spectacle and abstraction mean very little to them. Doordash doesn't operate in their area and if a Talib wants a vegan option, he'll have to provide for it himself. It has probably never occurred to a Talib that he could cancel his enemies simply by digging up their old tweets, sent under a long discarded Twitter ID, and he doesn't have time for that, anyway. He lives in the world of concrete and material things, he thinks nothing of killing and in his world, there are bullets waiting to kill him quite literally dead and transport him to a very earthly and very earthy sort of paradise.

You can't wish those things away, your credit cards are no good and probably <i>rifa</i>, anyway, and the bullet flying towards him isn't concerned with word games, his upcoming struggle session to root out unconscious racism and cannot be reasoned with or convinced to bother someone less important.

The world of American elites collided with the world of the Taliban and got its ass kicked. Biden and his crew cannot deal with this, because that kind of reality does not select for success in symbol manipulation, any more than skill at football selects for an ability to do math problems.

The clownish Western response to the COVID is similar. The virus can't be negotiated with, can't be bought off, can't be distracted, and is unimpressed with you and how highly you may think of yourself.

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"The world of American elites collided with the world of the Taliban and got its ass kicked. Biden and his crew cannot deal with this, because that kind of reality does not select for success in symbol manipulation"

And a hard rain's a gonna fall in Ukraine too for the performative classes, no matter how much Blinken cretinously avers that "Putin has already lost". Material reality will always win out.

But we spend a trillion dollars a year on defense!!!! Russia has only got the same GDP as Spain!!!!

Sorry, but that doesn't equate to real power when your supply chains are broken because you outsourced everything to China, your gear is too fragile for the mud of Ukraine because the suppliers don't care about stuff working, instead over-engineering crap like the switchblade to fatten margins.....

Did I read correctly that America even has a kind of tank that has such super-duper super-secret armour that it can't be used against the enemy for fear the IP falls into their hands ?

Afghanistan, Covid and Ukraine.

What a trifecta.

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Please do not mention Blinken again.......

My gut is now sore reading this thread.

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Also, keep in mind that performance doesn't affect the way the economic pie is sliced.

To give one example, removing legal impediments to unionization would result in an immediate transfer of concrete material benefits to white and black and tabby and calico cats and humans, male, female and undecided, greater than all the diversity committees ever formed, more than all the preferred pronouns ever attached to a corporate email signature.

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What do you notice about our "leaders" here in the West? They all look, dress and speak the same. They have that vacuous, confused look on their faces (Exhibit A, Trudeau). None of them has ever worked or achieved anything. They're all educated "internationally" and went to the best universities but with a curious absence of intellectual achievement. That's because they're from same Davos "Young Global leaders" production line. These people all have to go before any significant change for the better can occur.

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That's Soft Power right there. Everyone knows what you gotta say and think and do to get ahead.

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This essay reminds me of gourmet French cuisine. Each course opens to another delicious gustatory vista but taken altogether in combination, at the end even a much welcome digestif cannot ease the sense of being simply too full! You touch on many topics, many of which need more clarification or depth and linger even as the next intriguing course is served up. I cannot now recall them having just finished and do not wish to go through again. Too rich! (This is a friendly, appreciative criticism, not a complaint!)

A few points I can still extract, despite the bloat!

Leadership and followership. This one is worth further exploration. Maybe the Power book you recommend has it, but I think of them as symbiots like yin and yang. One cannot exist without the other, each creates the other. A leader without followers is not a leader. Etc. Early on you said that followers follow because that way the world works well. True on some levels but on other levels its more instinctive having to do with herd mentality impulses, some of which are innate some ingrained by whatever culture/society one is in. There is an art and a science to this leader-followership business.

Power dynamic: the masses (aka 'we the people') give power to the leadership class, usually personified by a single President or Monarch. And in smaller groups the majority empower the one or more who are in charge. We then surrender a huge amount of agency but will only revolt when pushed into an extremely dysfunctional situation, so although the power has a fundamentally balanced yin-yang dynamic as per above, it is extremely imbalanced once a group or individual has been granted power by followers, they have the upper hand in terms of initiative and momentum. If they are corrupt, as most leadership classes or systems tend to get over time, it's very difficult to dislodge them. I suspect the tendency to conform, to go along with the group, is at the heart of this. And we keep conforming even when things don't go well. Sometimes this is good - endurance, fortitude, loyalty despite pressure etc. - but sometimes not. Like nowadays. The times are out of joint and We The People must rebalance our societies and yet we are failing to do so, to the possible ruin of us all, possibly even upcoming bloodbaths like the upheavals earlier last century.

Your point about performance arising out of not seeing reality clearly, or rather fantasy. Great topic. I believe this is a natural result of the Enlightenment which leaned into a reductionist materialist view whose main daily manifestation is the erroneous belief - for that is all it is - in 'objective reality', a fictive construct that makes a lot of sense but is never more than a cognitive construct. The problem is not so much that it is scientifically unverifiable or even fallacious, but that it inevitably results in a view that regards life and life forms as fundamentally mechanical. Regarding life as mechanical results in many unintended consequences in that by allowing this view to dominate political, social, educational, artistic theories and practices, our overall view as human beings essentially, we begin to narrow our field of what we regard as important, or 'real', or essential to pay attention to and in so doing we fail to pay attention to considerably larger spectrum of experience outside this materialistic dead end wherein lies most of what is so precious and marvellous about human existence and the possible cultures we can create and enjoy together and which we are now losing. But with materialism: why is unrealism/fantasy the result? Again, because the objective reality so fervently believed in is a fantasy in itself, made of internal storylines we culturally share. A construct. An abstraction. We worship at the shrine of abstraction which of course is a type of fantasy.

So it is hardly surprising that we are becoming increasingly untethered as a society because we have been collectively paying attention to the wrong things, essentially captured by a contemporary Modern Age form of primitive beliefs and superstitions. And those things we have been paying attention to are soulless, mechanical, system theory, financial, 'progress', technology and so forth. And not fully human, imaginative, kind, playful, creative, artistic, elegant, deep, wise, compassionate and so forth.

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose!

Keep up the great work!!!

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Eat slower and talk with your dinner company and you won't get bloated but will enjoy the meal to the fullest and come back for more and more and more.

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When's the last time you were rich and spent a week dining out in Paris, eh?

Mal de foie, they call it!

(Interestingly, you can eat all you like in upscale Italian restaurants in Milan or Florence and the same effect is absent.

It's those rich, French sauces, over-delicious cheeses, and maybe the baguettes or something...

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I was speaking figuratively about your reading of Aurelien's texts since you referred to French dinnerd yourself. If you think they are too much to read at once then read a section at a time and discuss it with friends and then come back to read some more.

I love Aurelien's way of writing: he takes his time, he is calm, almost serene, and methodical as well as recognizing the complexity of things. A rare but necessary feat in these Twittertimes.

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Well, I don't like to read that way! I was just giving honest, as well as appreciative, feedback.

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Thanks for very emotionally satisfying and comfortable clear thinking. Another such example, but very different in format: here in Canada, Donna Laframboise’s daily Substacks on the Trucker’s Convoy as well as it’s aftermath. With these we can’t forget. In the “West” now we all need these types of grounding so we can Think and, hopefully collectively, figure out the things that must be done.

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I agree with your observation that the Ukraine fiasco reflects the limits of narrative control. Within the US, the power structure (consisting of wealthy interests acting through a single acceptable party with the assistance of corporate owned media, the censorship industrial complex and the fervent acquiescence of most of the ‘educated’ class) can construct whatever reality they choose (COVID is over and never existed, Russiagate never happened, Hunter is just a wayward son, no one knows who blew up that pipeline, etc etc) but narrative control can’t overcome the reality of Russian weapons. Our leadership class became so entranced by their power to control the narrative at home that they convinced themselves the same tricks would work on the ROW but found only the European audience ready to go along. Is it possible they will decide to surrender their dream of global hegemony in order to preserve (or at least temporarily perpetuate) the magic of narrative control at home? Examples such as North Korea and Albania suggest that can be an effective medium term strategy.

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I think I understand you. My suggestion is to review Orban’s work to “reconstruct” Hungary following exit communist influence. Christopher Rufo, on Substack, very good on that process. Orban has been determined to revive that kind of human world. However Libs in Canada going the other way. But Trudeau calls Canadians “intolerant”.

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Narratives v Reality is no contest. And Reality is racing towards us at full speed.

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"There are parts of the outskirts of French cities where the State might as well not exist. Such power as there is, is held by gangs, who fight among themselves to control the drugs trade. The Police don’t go there, because they are conceived, as is every other part of the state apparatus including schools, doctors and even postmen, as “the enemy”: just another rival gang to be fought if they enter your territory and even more if they dispute your “power.” And such gangs do have “power” in a practical sense: they can control entry and exit to areas by demanding to see identity papers, for example."

Perhaps I don't understand the situation, but would it be accurate to say that the French state has de facto ceded authority over such areas?

The state could reclaim such authority if it wanted to pay the price, but since such estates are basically a human warehouse anyway, the state is happy to let the gangs run the place, as long as whatever the gangs do doesn't spill over and interfere with the lives of solid citizens.

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Aug 19, 2023·edited Aug 19, 2023

I've lived in such an area not in France but in some other European country with very high levels of immigration. Just to give an impression of how the situation was, you could see young lads walking around with bundles of cash stuffed in their back pockets, children playing drug dealer, young lads driving around in expensive cars that ordinary working people could never afford, and other such things. Shootings on the street were regular occurrences, to the point of Al Capone style drive-by executions in broad daylight. The sway that the drug trade had over the area seemed to be total and that included a very strong omerta. It was like Covid totalitariarism taken to the power of two. Keeping silent about what was so obviously going on was the "citizen's" first duty. It was completely, utterly impossible to start any conversation with anybody, at any time about how the situation was. I believe that many had internalized the omerta obligation to such a degree that they were not even very conscious of it, if at all. Monkey don't see, don't hear, don't talk, don't think was the order of the day. It was all tied to ethnicity, of course. As an ordinary white guy, you had to expect and endure various kinds of mobbing like being stared at or being called names by youth and children of the other ethnicities. Trying to push back, practically impossible. What was present of state authority was left-wing "anti-racist" and would come down on you immediately and heavily. Immigrants had already formed a voting block that ensured that leftists allied with them were in power and still are. It was also interesting to note how outwardly reputable, middle class members of the immigrant community were integrated with the drugs trade. Some of them had obviously organized themselves to provide infrastructural services like running transport businesses used to haul drugs around, and others. They were the ones whose cars were sometimes executive-level and most expensive all the while they had official, average-paying daytime jobs. Younger, customer-facing members of the drugs trade preferred sports cars.

The point to make is that this area with its high degree of lawlessness (for immigrants) was still completely dependent on services provided by the state. Electricity, water, street cleaning, general maintenance, health services, firefighting, schools, child care facilities, a perfunctory police presence - all functioning more or less. There were even occasional police raids on the drugs trade although they could not make a dent in the situation overall. It was like two universes - the lawless and the law-abiding one - existing in a surreal side-by-side arrangement where the law-abiding one mostly pretended that the lawless one did not exist. But it was not as simple as that. The two universes were interwoven with each other in a multitude of ways. Basically everyone lived a schizophrenic existence with one foot in one of them, if only due to omerta, and one foot in the other one. Power was flowing in many ways in either direction, even inside people's heads.

If you think about what is going to happen in the event of society braking down, then you have to keep all that in mind. A complete breakdown would instantly lead to mass death. The lawless, non-performative part of society, be it gangsters or djihadists, does not have the technocratic competence to take over, the two universes must merge to become more of a unified one. You probably have to look to countries like Egypt with its strong Christian minority consisting of Kopts to get a bearing on what the future might look like. These countries are not advanced enough to produce many of the technologies they depend on, so they import them, at present still from the West in many cases. To the degree that the West will no longer be able to produce these technologies due to its own Egyptization, countries like China and Russia will increasingly fill the void. What happens if and when Russia and China also become like Egypt is anyone's guess.

The performative pseudo elites that are still in power are very non-performative, i.e. effective, of course, when it comes to power itself. Staying in power is all it has come down to as far as they are concerned. That goes hand in hand with a stratospheric level of corruption. All these extremely ideologically charged policies like solar and wind power, the immigration industry, delivering wepons to Ukraine etc. incidentally bear extreme material profits for the politicians and lobbysists pursuing them. You can say that rule by organized crime is in effect already a reality in the way these elites have transformed themselves into what the are. It's s form of mob rule hiding itself behind postmodern, anti-racist, globohomo pseudo-intellectcualism. Hence, in parallel to ever decreasing levels of general competence, we are seeing ever increasing levels of suppressive competence - anarcho-tyranny, as some like to call it.

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I'd be interested in where this was.

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Why should Muslims in these banlieue accept a French culture of gay marriage, gross materialism and women who act and dress like prostitutes?

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Amfortas, here.

much clarity!

Ive been aware of this...trend...for some time. But nobody wanted to even contemplate it...too big, and all.

from my POV, we're simply allowing Hobbes' State of Nature to be recreated, all around us...and for at least 50 years. I mean what is Neoliberalism if not that?

"There's no such thing as society"...hyperindividualism and every person an Enterprise....a Brand...set against all the other hyperindividualised motes.

out here in the wilderness, i've long expected warlordism to be the go-to organisational form, as the State, etc recedes. not enough profit, etc to continue to exert control way out here.

in my tiny, isolated community, one can even get a lil high and think real hard and identify just who among the local gentry is likely to attempt to fulfill that role.

Ive tried to prepare for this for 30 years, by building on mutual aide and neighborliness...immediate neighbors(at least 3/4 mile away) get veggies and canned peaches and me looking out for their cattle when they're on my side of their place, etc.

if Orlov, et alia have taught us anything, its that "no man is an island", and that it really does "take a village". even the Mountain Men came down to the flats for whiskey and sugar.

so, begin at your doorstep in building your village, and move outwards from there.

good luck to you all.

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Hi Amfortas! Nice to have you here. And thanks for the comment.

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I spent a good part of last weekend, Amfortas, doing as you've done: thinking about the candidates for warlord in the small mountain towns where I have been thinking of settling after having lived in the DC metro area for the last 15 years and before that in NYC for 25. Now instead of trying to make choices based on, say, population density/tax base/infrastructure costs in considering a new home, I find myself thinking about what badass/sort of yahoo is going to be able to lock down the local water and food and power resources of a place. That's a big shift. And it wasn't purely a "let's try to be imaginative" for a moment kind of moment either. (Haven't really brought it up with a realtor yet. But the time is coming. "So who runs this place exactly?...")

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There is one other type of organization that can and, in my opinion, will try grabbing the reins of the collapsing society. In fact it has been doing so more and more these post-soviet years.

That is the transnational business. The monopolization and the influence of private business on the societies all over the world is huge, arguably, much bigger than ever. They employ and feed millions of people, they control governments not only through money but through coercion - their economic interests are spread out enough for them to be able to close with one hand a factory or two in an especially uncooperative place, create thousands of unemployed that the government can not and will not be able to support and with another hand to blame it all on that government. They can and do manipulate the media being the owners of it, they can and do manipulate the policies, the research, everything, because everything is now outsourced. They have private security, some even private military. Perhaps not enough to hold vast territories but why would they want a bunch of useless land and people if they can secure just enough space to continue profitable operations and expansion?

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Trans-national players indeed. Creating economies of want. Being transaction kings. Every exchange is skimmed. Finance backed by military might [or bluff] is "rules based order". Their rules.

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In this context, I found Dmitry Orlov's "Reinventing Collapse: The Soviet Example and American Prospects" to be a very worthwhile read. It describes the actual playing out of many if not most of the possibilities Aurelien is presenting, during the collapse of the Soviet Union. Ironic that the very type of collapse the west imagined it was inflicting on Russia, was, for them, a case of been there, done that, learned the lessons, moving forward. But it's hastened the west's own appointment in Samarra. I've no idea how we'll cope. Thank you for this - clarity is enormously satisfying, even when it's dismal.

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Aug 17, 2023·edited Aug 17, 2023

Excellent essay, I agree with everything you say. Except your conclusion is incorrect.

You omit three salient points. First, the degrading of Western civilization as it goes past its peak and starts its long descent is not an entirely natural process. Its also been exaggerated and manipulated by hidden forces. Such as Soros and those that have pushed Cultural Marxism's march thru the institutions. They have exploited the 'pandemic', started a war and created an energy crisis in Europe. Their organizations include the WEF, Woke, BLM and they now control Biden. They have an agenda. As a result of which America, France, Holland, Germany and even England betray signs of impending chaos and the loss of civil society.

Second, it is no accident that our societies are in danger of degenerating into chaos and anarchy. Marx made it quite clear that his suggested pathway to political power is to create a social breakdown whilst reducing the State's powers to control society. Then a small, dedicated band of true believers are able to offer certainty and safety. An alternative power nexus to Muslim extremists and organized crime.

Third, this alternative organization exists. Its known as Common Purpose and thus has the same initials as its original name - its the Communist Party rebranded. Mostly staffed by university graduates who joined the International Socialists. They intend to offer the organizational structure needed in a time of chaos and social breakdown. That you're not aware of them only shows how well organized they are. They reach from the UK cabinet office, into the elite levels of the police, military and government bureaucracies. They went international some time ago. They have been researched and exposed. But almost no one is aware of their role in our (soon to be) collapsing society.

"Although it has 80,000 trainees in 36 cities, 18,000 graduate members and enormous power, Common Purpose is largely unknown to the general public."


UK Column News also has some excellent analysis of their organization.


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Cultural Marxism's?

No, cultural neoliberalism

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Thank you. Good comment. I think that Aurelien's essays reveal general, systemic tendencies within our societies that are not intelligently covered - which he does in spade - but he does have a tendency to poo-poo the notion that there is any organized conspiracy at the top, rather systemic incompetence which looks organized somehow. I don't think it's all that amorphous and random. But then most of us believe in 'objective reality' which spawns living species due to 'random genesis' so that sort of view might feel comfortable with the notion that society is a similar such impersonal, random-self-generating process with no particular aim in mind.

It looks to me like we are being deliberately herded into a period of extreme violence in which hundreds of millions will die prematurely, similar to the Russian Revolution. But I hope am wrong.

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While having neoliberalism being conflated with communism, socialism, leftist, or even old school pre 1990 liberalism extremely annoying to me, the part where there is civil war and mass death from it as with the Russian Revolution is all too likely

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You might find articles on Alexander Dugin's 'Fourth Political Theory' of interest. I don't believe he has spelled any particular one out yet, merely argued that it is time to find one, but his initial thrust is to point out that liberalism is the last one standing (after fascism and communism) and that all three are fundamentally similar.

I feel the same way in that for sure they all presuppose a secular worldview. That means a materialist mindset which presupposes that reality is a mindless, mechanical 'random genesis' affair without soul or over-arching purpose. So from that POV it feels normal to regard societies as objective systems similar to machines rather than some sort of co-created living dream - or 'culture' if you prefer.

Such a mentality could never build a cathedral, for example (nor French cuisine!). But the mentality is so pervasive - we nearly all share it these days, including modern Asians in 'the East', that it is hard to grok. There are quite a few people out there challenging the materialist mindset. I think it a topic worth exploring, but that's just me...

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Part of the problem is extending a tool or a solution that works in one area without making allowances. Philosophy, religion, and science are all tools/solutions for different things; scientists often dismiss the former while turning the scientific method, which started as a tool to learn about the universe, into the religion of scientism.

Karl Marx used his methods for understanding economics and society, not as a tool, really a religion for some, for government. Like the scientific method, his analysis is supposed to be a tool.

Then there is classical liberalism, which come from the Enlightenment whose participants were trying to create something different from monarchal despotism, legal systems were torture or burning people at stake was fine, and to mediate disputes through debate and consensus, unlike like the Thirty Years War. They were not looking for a wholesale replacement for everything else and I certainly don’t think that they would approve of the deracinated, liquefied society that is the current modernity. This does not mean that there is nothing inherently bad or incomplete. It just means that it was meant to create a more humane, civilized society.

Our current planetary civilization is suffering from the nightmare of the Twentieth Century, where Western Civilization never fully recovered emotionally, mentally, philosophically, and religiously. It could be said that the Eighteenth Century’s Enlightenment was a reaction to the increasing despotism that started as a reaction to the horrible events of the Seventeenth Century. This is almost two centuries. Then along comes the French Revolution. It took decades to recover socially, philosophically, as a whole society, which they did and then stumbled right into the First World War.

The American Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights comes directly from the Enlightenment and the class of American politicians who were very knowledgeable about history, particularly the Roman Republic and Athenian Democracy.

Modern Neoliberalism is the child of the economic ideology of the Mont Pelerin Society, which was an attempt to prevent wars and social destruction by weakening governments, allowing enough economic development to keep people in check, and giving business an oversized influence, as many of the founders were originally Austria-Hungarians. The current system of neoliberalism is not something that they would approve of.

My now rambling comment is trying to so that people take the ideas, ideologies and their intellectual tools, and weaponize them. Add the multi generational emotional and intellectual chaos that makes that has made society more vulnerable to the chaos.

Neoliberalism, Scientism, consumerism, Free Market Capitalism, and Identity Politics are all effectively religions in our society especially as the powerful and the wealthy really prefers this; the less intellectually, emotionally, and mentally undeveloped or empty, the more exploitable and controlling the people are. Add that neoliberalism, which includes financial capitalism, is consuming everything- businesses, schools, churches, any social organizations, or any thing or any one who can be commodified and consumed.

Part of the United States’ problems comes from Americans growing ignorance of American political philosophy and the deliberate changing after 1947 of the the country into an empire. The country had a tiny standing army for one thing. Maybe a few hundred thousand people, which would function as a skeleton for hanging a real army. The Constitution was created for a very different country. The Bill of Rights was one of the checks against what the United States has become. It also requires that the citizens understand the how, why, and what. That ignorance serves some people well.

No, I think that we need to squeeze those tools back into our philosophical tool kit, find the other bits like the *political*- economy that used to be attached to economics, and rebuild, adding as needed, to the shattered bits that the whole civilization, much like that of the pre World War One Western Civilization. First thing is to kill dead, dead, dead neoliberalism, certainly as quasi religion it is today. And I think that this whole comment applies to Eastern Civilization as well.

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Well, I'm not sure I understood every part of that. But your point that different periods evolved new ways of doing things in order to remedy faults from the past makes sense. I'm not sure what you mean by 'religion' exactly in this context, but scientism definitely is one in the sense that it is a faith-based view of reality. Any sort of view, once hardened into conceptual frameworks, aka dogma, is akin to religion in any case, especially as it picks up adherents and especially if it becomes widespread effecting everyone's sense of reality.

I think the challenge is to separate the temporal and mortal from the transcendent and eternal. That sounds very high-falutin' I know but bear with me.

Example: the Sky is always there. Weather changes in it, night and day change how it looks etc but it is constantly always there above us. So there is an example of the temporal within the eternal.

In politics we need to identify those things which are constant versus those which are in constant flux. Both need to be recognized and valued as such.

Generally, those things which are constant we can call principles. They may or may not be attached to certain religious beliefs but what is important is that they are understood viscerally, experientially, not only conceptually, abstractly.

Actually, Confucius and Mencius put a huge amount of effort into this sort of thing. One of their thrusts was to posit that the engendering of virtue is what both roots society in timeless values and also demands that each member therein keep up with inevitable changes.

In any case, no matter what the times and what sort of society we find ourselves in, individually and collectively you can't go wrong cultivating virtue, order, harmony, kindness, loyalty, courage, honor, generosity, humility, perseverance and so on. We all know these things.

And of course by cultivating virtue we automatically at the same time reduce vice. A society of people on such a path will discourage or eliminate (inevitable) corruption better, throw up far better leadership classes and generally be able to both roll with the punches of ever-changing times whilst also recognizing that which never changes, which is not subject to mortal fading.

I think in the West we have been like dogs: impulsively sniffing our way into the next experience, being led by our noses instinctively, going this way and that in response to whatever comes up, good or bad; but in so doing we have lost our way because we no longer attune to bedrock principles, things which do not change, which do not just pop up randomly to be followed impulsively, such as valuing the development of virtue in self and others.

It's not rocket science.

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Your content is above average, and concise, relevant. Do not fall into the trap of writing on a schedule. Not every day is a news day, not all issues are pertinent.

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Thinking it over some more, the charade will go on, unless and until the police and the army refuse to obey orders, specifically, the order to shoot.

As long as the police and army will continue to follow orders, then the people running France, Europe, and the West will continue to sleep safely in their beds, no matter how badly they screw up, no matter how many catastrophes could have been avoided, no matter how much the lives of their citizens decline.

And rest assured, if it comes to that, they will give the order to shoot without hesitation. If a Blinken, a Baerbock, a Stoltenberg, a Macron, were given the choice, push The Button and 99% of life on Earth will be wiped out, but you and your fellow elites will have unfettered dominion over whatever is left, they would push The Button without a second thought if that were the price of power.

In this, the leaders of the West are no different from most leaders in most places throughout history. Just that these leaders have more available means of coercion at their disposal.

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Better tools indeed are the distinction over history into our days.

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Aug 17, 2023·edited Aug 17, 2023

A thought provoking article, I think its concept needs to be taken a step further: The main problem is not even the incapability to address real problems, it's the incapability to recognize real problems.

Take the corona crisis as an example. I'll argue the real problem was not the virus itself, but our aging societies. Allow me to explain:

The risk of complications due to COVID-19 and the corresponding mortality rate increased significantly with age. Using Dutch data for both the number of deaths per age group (in 5 year cohorts) and the country's demographic data, I calculated the mortality rate per age group.

These mortality rates per age group can be used to calculate the theoretical number of COVID-19 deaths for situations with different demographics. I did this for the Dutch population in 1969, when it was both smaller and - more importantly - much younger. As a result, the calculated number of COVID-19 deaths was approximately the same as the number of excessive deaths caused by the infamous Asian flu.

Which is interesting, because back then, when according to Aurelien, societies were much more capable to address real problems, barely any measures were taken to deal with the Asian flue. It simply wasn't recognized as a crisis worth significantly addressing.

This actually matches with the example from the article about the harassed Mayor or Prefect: The described response is not only an inability to deal with a real problem, but an inability to recognize said problem as being real.

Moving forward, this suggests more self-imposed 'crises' that 50 years ago would not have been considered worth responding to, while real problems are not being addressed.

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Aug 17, 2023·edited Aug 17, 2023

Very well said. In a system of performative artists posing as politicians and bureaucrats, real crises go unrecognized, fake crises are manufactured, and when a new issue -- possibly serious but possibly not -- appears (like covid) then chaos reigns as the PMCs make everything worse.

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There is a possibly apocryphal anecdote from the Russian Revolution which aptly illustrates your main point about performative, as opposed to real, power, ability to get things done. At one of the mass meetings between the February Revolution and the October seizure of power by the Bolsheviks, a speaker was at the podium, addressing the meeting about the future course of events.

"One thing we can all agree on," he said. "No one here is going to seize power."

Lenin, in the audience, stood up. "You're wrong," he said to the speaker. "We are willing to seize power."

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What did Lenin say? Power was laying in the ditch...?

In my little backwater, fortunately things are really looking peachy in comparison. Including within governments.

One quibble though. There was in fact little visible repression in Romania. Mostly the rumor of it. I gI grew up into young adulthood during Ceausescu's rule and wouldn't chage an iota. Some , that didn't like the absence of consumer products tried to run away. And many of them succeded.

From what a former supervisor, graduate of Stanford and well travelled said from first eye experience, the situation in NK did't appear to be that glum either. People are people... and power is working pretty much the same way regardless of polity...

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Lenin said power was laying in the streets when the majority of the bolshevics were hesitant to launch the revolution. Turned out he was right. Unfortunately he was wrong about the possibility of constructing socialism in semi feudal Russia.

So he was right on tactics, wrong on strategy. Life’s a bitch. Glad I didn’t have to make the decision, though.

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Actually it was Stalin that fouled the waters. Stalin was a master human resources operator, but he had his picks from a pool of people loyal to him, and without much regard to competency. So he let the Iron Law of Bureaucracy step in.

Then the Soviets adopted a top down managerial system in their entreprises, copied after American practices, and killed the voice of the "soviets" in all those factories and work organizations. Ultimately total lack of small, "democratic" input in the system. Japanese, for instance, while quite hierarchical and respectful towards authority, did come up with the "LEAN" / "Toyota" method on their factory floors, giving full power to their workforce on professional decission matters on the production line. Even the Chinese were more pragmatic than the ossified Soviets.

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Yes and no. Stalin both ruined the socialist project globally and saved the Soviet Union.

His methods aside (I’m an ex trot, you don’t have to tell me) he chose the only possible mode of production available in confrontation with the United imperial powers: bureaucracy.

Capitalism wasn’t an option, because there were no capitalist, no capital and no markets (poor people make lousy customers).

Socialism wasn’t an option because the working class was a small minority, the masses mostly illiterate (makes democracy problematic) and the means of production on a very low level of development.

So he did what had to be done, using the ugliest methods he could think of.

On the one hand the experience and example of the Soviet Union was extremely valuable to the anti colonial struggles a few decades later, on the other hand the same experience and example very effectively shut the road to socialism in the advanced capitalist countries. (And turning the communist parties in to little but outposts of soviet diplomacy wasn’t very helpful either.)

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People across the Western world are grasping for solutions for why the world has become so s**t and have found a diverse range of ideologies, solutions and people to blame. Resource and energy depletion, diminishing returns on research and innovation and even environmental damage are massively downplayed. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when a system has become so obviously inept and is hated by so many, but there are such diverse views of how to deal with it and what to replace it with.

I suspect that much of the mass immigration into the west engineered by the Western elites and the associated promotion of (neo)liberal critical theory (hardly a better ideology to divide people) has been done specifically to create divided populations of plebs fighting each other and blaming each other for their respective hardships rather than one united population capable of seriously threatening the system (look at how the establishment started pushing critical theory in its various ghastly iterations after enough people protested in movements like leftist/disident Occupy following the 2008 debacle). If you get people fighting on race lines or over nonsense theories about gender then the establishment can take the side of one group that could challenge them and pit them against another.

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As the notorious Gilded Age tycoon Jay Gould is reputed to have bragged, “I can hire one-half the working class to kill the other half.”

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