Colonialism and Bruce Gilley: Electric Kool-Aid Acid of the Moral Imagination


When Queen Elizabeth II died the poorest people in the United Kingdom crawled out of their hovels in their dirty rags to join in solidarity with all those poor people who were still suffering from the yoke of colonialism in the undeveloped world. As one, they cheered that the source of all their suffering was finally gone—now, at long last, they could all live the free and prosperous lives that the Queen of the British Empire had denied them. YIPPEE… Oh, sorry, that did not happen.

If the lines of millions mourning her passing are anything to go by, there were plenty of outpourings of grief from her subjects, not to mention her own family who, for all the tabloid guff, are people. The grief of the living in their mourning is something that is a reminder of the fleeting nature of life on earth and what awaits us all. Irrespective of whether one is for or against the monarchy, it was a somber occasion, signaling the passing of an age as much as a sovereign, as much as a person.

Some people, though, are incapable of mustering even a modicum of decency in the face of death—they are the ones that generally show as little respect for the living as for the dead, though they often yell and scream as if they were the carriers of humanity’s better self, which is the picture that they have of themselves. And while there is a good case to be made that the monarchy as an institution in Great Britain may not last much longer, now that one of the most popular and dutiful of monarchs has died, the fact is that the Queen always displayed far more compassion, and respect for her subjects and their institutions than the members of that class that has successfully seized upon the moral imagination of the present, which it uses to denounce any relics of the past as well as anyone else that may obstruct the imperial ambitions of its authority. What they call diversity is merely division.

The Queen was indisputably vastly wealthy, but her life was one which few of us would like to lead. It required the kind of curbing of appetites and desires that few of us, and few in her family, were capable of—of devoting herself to a life-time, in which decorum and duty overrode everything else. This was authority and duty in the old style. She may not have been so flash on Derrida or Foucault, but her bearing and intelligence and character were all tailored to the position for which she had been groomed and which she carried out with grace.

Grace is not a word that comes to mind when I think of the new pro-globalists moralists that run the show now, in every Western land. They see the world as a great big trough which they will lead others to, provided they, in their role as liberators and representators of the oppressed, have their fill first. Anyone who thinks that their ideas are just verbal squish covering up their own sense of self-importance and ambitions to rule the earth alongside the globalist corporations and technocrats will need to be destroyed. Tyrants, as Plato rightly observed, are bred in the chaos of ultra-democratic aspirations and the accompanying social breakdown those aspirations create.

Just as their view of the present involves preferring abstractions (you know the ones, equality/equity/diversity/inclusivity/ emancipation, etc.), which have not been adequately tested in the reality of history, to see if they are of any more value than providing some kind of status of moral authority to the ones who use them—it takes these same abstractions into the past, and in finding that these abstractions were not there in any meaningful way is able to condemn the past as one of sheer oppression. Of course, the past they select to condemn is very selective: for the same class loves to create fantastical stories about premodern or non-Christian societies, as if they were just wondrous paradises of tolerance, diversity, equity and inclusion—from the world’s first and greatest democracy in Aboriginal Australia, where they would meet in their town-halls to make sure all was fair and square, to the wonderful multiculturalism of the Ottoman empire, with its pride parades.

It was primarily the members of this class of fabulists, who now control the Western education system and media outlets, who were predominantly using the occasion of Queen Elizabeth’s death to bang on about the genocidal history of the British empire and the role of the monarchy in general, and Elizabeth in particular. I do think the treatment of the native Americans in the USA in the nineteenth century might be described as genocidal; it was certainly absolutely shocking, but that was not the fault of the British empire, any more than the gulags were the fault of the Romanovs. But it did not matter to those tweeting their spittle about the Queen’s death that since the handing over of Hong Kong to the CCP in 1997 (something deeply regretted by the many Hong Kong locals I met in my eight or so years living there), Great Britain no longer has any colonies, while when Queen Elizabeth came to the throne in 1952 there were still over 70 colonies. Not that decolonization was an act triggered by the crown for, as everybody but those doing their celebration of spitting and drooling, seem to know, the British monarch while a de jure Head of State/constitutional monarch is de facto a ceremonial figure, symbolizing the nation’s unity—which to be sure is no easy feat in the divided area of the United Kingdom. In any case, her position requires her not intervening in political decisions that are the province of the parliament and courts. Thus, it was when there was a constitutional crisis in Australia back in the 1970s, and the deposed Prime Minister sought for her to intervene, she stayed right out of it.

In the United States, one of the first out of the blocks to drool and punch the air in celebration was the Nigerian born Associate Professor of Second Language Acquisition at Carnegie Mellon University, Uju Anya. She tweeted, “That wretched woman and her bloodthirsty throne have fucked generations of my ancestors on both sides of the family, and she supervised a government that sponsored the genocide my parents and siblings survived. May she die in agony.” The fact that, a few days after tweeting this bile, some 4000 other “scholars” publicly endorsed her (there must be far more by now), just goes to show what tax-payers and students are getting for their money.

From what I can gather, the slender threads of reality that Anya has woven into her fabric of verbal vomit and idiocy are that the British government supplied arms to the Nigerian government in their war against the secessionist attempt by the military governor of Nigeria’s Eastern Region, Lieutenant Colonel Emeka Ojukwu, in what turned into a horrific civil war. A mountain of literature exists on the war, though anyone who wants fair and brief appraisals of what occurred might read pages 199-205 (2011 edition) of Martin Meredith’s magisterial, The Fate of Africa: A History of the Continent Since Independence, or Margery Perham’s even-handed and first-hand account, “Reflections on the Nigerian Civil War” in International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944), vol. 46, No. 2 (Apr., 1970)., pp. 231-246.

In a manner befitting the moralizing, fabulizing, historically revisionist class of which she is a member, Anya fails to address the most basic of facts about her own country’s history: the French and Russians were also providing arms to the belligerents; that is belligerents on all sides were killing each other and seeking weapons from anyone willing to supply the same to them; the secession attempt by Ojukwu was a resource grab without any legitimacy that would have had disastrous results for Nigerians outside Biafra; Ojukwu’s propaganda game was as dangerous as it was vile as it was disastrous in its contribution to the mass starvation of the Biafran people that remains one of the most shocking famines in relatively recent historical memory. The chain of events which sparked the war and famine was ignited by Igbo military officers who assassinated key figures in the First Nigerian Republic. Finally, and to quote Perham, “the federal constitution of the three provinces, taken over by the Nigerians in October 1960 was largely the product of the Nigerians themselves, built up in intensive discussions and conferences, and attended by all the political leaders over a period beginning in the forties, and ending with the final conference of 1958. The basic differences between the main parts of Nigeria were not evaded: they were endlessly argued, but not even a dozen years of discussion and political advance, following half a century together under the canopy of British rule, could square the obstinate circlers within which deep and ancient tribalisms were enclosed.”

But who needs real political facts when you can become a mega-star in todays’ academic world with a tweet, so long as the tweet amplifies an ostensibly morally certain consensus, whilst confirming the moral superiority of all those, who also don’t need to actually know anything to know what they know, viz. that empires and colonialism are very, very bad? And no good person could ever be a beneficiary of empire—somehow, magically, the Nigerian born Anya, along with God knows how many of the other 4000 scholars, lives in the USA, reaping the benefits of office and wealth that come from what colonizers and their techniques and technologies of world-making have created.

This “logic” is the logic of the silly, who think that they can just arbitrarily go back into bits and pieces of history to select a point from which they can blame the people they don’t like—this time British imperialists. Sorry, but no people anywhere have been where they are forever. Which is partly to say the world is not a moral fabrication of bits and pieces all fitted together into a nice Disney movie about all the inclusion and diversity there would have been had it not been for… the British, the Germans, the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Gauls, the Celts, the Abassids, the Persians.

Really folks! The world we inhabit is what people in their conflict, scarcity, cruelty, suffering, and everything else that has been done in the past have made. We are all respondents to a reality that precedes us and that we then work upon. Here, the moralists puff themselves up and splutter some kind of nonsense that has to do with their indignation that some people have killed more or suffered more…blah blah…than others. Let’s just say, we can’t undo the past, and pretending that we do by having reparations, etc. is just one more fantastical bit of fanaticism that is only a new way of creating work for a bureaucracy and moralizing class seeking ever more dependents.

In the case of reparations, they will mean nothing two generations down the track—but understanding that means thinking about economic behaviour, and human motivation and institutions, and the kind of thing that requires that rarest of things in today’s Tik Tok academic world—thoughtfulness.

This virtue stuff exhibited by people who are paid to denounce unequal things that obstruct universal emancipation is today’s electric Kool-Aid Acid of the moral imagination. Let’s face it, everyone has to earn a buck, and there is no easier way to do so today than by running around tweeting, screaming, teaching, or writing great big refereed academic tomes from illustrious brand name presses or densely footnoted articles in “prestigious journals” denouncing people who just won’t take out that part of their brain that enables them to see that all that stands between them and emancipation (which means—as far as I can see—having lots of sex and having lots of stuff) is their being subject to racist, sexist, colonialist blah blah blah ideas that scholars like Anya and her 4,000 mates (probably far more by now) think are “facts.”

So, I really can’t blame Anya; or, to pluck another from the media wing of the cathedral of woke idiocy, Tirhakah Love, a “senior newsletter writer for New York Magazine, who wrote, “For 96 years. That colonizer has been sucking up the Earth’s (sic.) resources,” and “You can’t be a literal oppressor and not expect the people you’ve oppressed not to rejoice on news of your death” for seizing the career opportunities made available to them by a ruling class whose rule is predicated upon destroying the shared norms, institutions and cultural achievements of the West in the name of the moral progress they embody, and the great future they believe they will bring into being—on the basis of which we can see already that would be a world of ever greater spiraling inflation, ethnic/tribal violence resulting from opening up “citizenship” to anyone who wants to live anywhere irrespective of criminal background, or commitment to any traditions of their new homeland; far more urban, racially based riots and burning of businesses, including black ones (to make way for gentrification); far greater crime (from burglary, shoplifting to murder), adorning inner city areas with tents for the ever-increasing number of homeless junkies; the redeployment of police resources away from crime prevention and into community development activities, such as flying pride flags and dancing in parades when they are not arresting racists, and homo-transphobes; schools in which critical race theory (whites are all the same—unless they teach critical race theory—and all bad), and the joys of the multiverse of sex and the importance of sexual rights, like the rights to change your sex as soon as you can speak are the main curricula; ever more spaces for public denunciations and ever more censorship; sacking of all who won’t do whatever the right-thinking authorities say they must do, say, or think; increasing the number of abortions up to and in the aftermath of an unwanted birth; ever more military interventions funded by you in the West for people outside the West to die in in far off lands that will save this great world from its nefarious enemies—and lots more butcher’s paper and crayons for “life-long” learning because learning to live in this shit will require that one remains a compliant imbecile during the entirety of one’s life-time.


Bruce Gilley is a Professor of Political Science at Portland University—at least he was still there last time I looked, though it seems his existence is an affront to all the other good and virtuous professors who work there and who are doing their damnedest to push him into unemployment (the idea that professors could in any way be more virtuous than other people, and hence be tasked with instructing them in how to be better people, is something that, in a world less insane, would be worked into one of the more incredulous episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm).

Bruce Gilley was once a highly respected scholar—with a dizzying number of academic prizes behind him—who once published books with such illustrious academic presses as the University Of California, and Columbia and Cambridge University. He burnt his bridges within the academic world with his essay “The Case for Colonialism.” The paper originally appeared in Third World Quarterly in 2017, having passed the blind refereeing process—a process that might give the delusion that the refereeing process in the Humanities and Social Sciences ensures academic quality and integrity—it doesn’t. But in any case those denouncing Gilley only care about referees who agree with them; and in the case of this essay, a petition of “thousands of scholars” and the resignation, in protest, of nearly half the editorial board of the journal, plus death threats being sent to the editor of the journal ensured it being “withdrawn” and given a new home.

Since the denunciations and attacks, Professor Gilley has written two books, both with Regnery Press—one can safely assume a university press will no longer touch anything he writes. His previous book, The Last Imperialist: Sir Alan Burns’s Epic Defense of the British Empire, before getting into print, underwent a similar saga. It was first going to be published by Lexington Books (an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield), where Gilley was also going to oversee, as the Series Editor, “Problems of Anti-Colonialism,” which would bring out books that sought “to reignite debate through a critical examination of the anti-colonial, decolonizing, and post-colonial projects.”

Then, the cancel crowd stepped in, started a petition on “Against Bruce Gilley’s Colonial Apologetics.” Many indignant “scholars” eagerly added their signatures. There was a counter-petition, which got nearly 5000 signatures, to try to save the series. But true-to-form, Rowman & Littlefield buckled and cancelled the series.

Eventually, Gilley found a far better home for his work—Regnery Publishing, which has also published his most recent book, In Defense of German Colonialism: And How Its Critics Empowered Nazis, Communists, and the Enemies of the West. This book does an excellent job of showing the ideological idiocy of those who are entrusted with teaching history to the youth of today, and who preside over the institutions which are preservers and now complete fabricators of a historical memory; that is to act as a foundation for future building.

Professor Gilley does not need my help in the shootout with the academy, as he takes down one “scholar” after another for preferring their ideological concoctions to the facts of the matter. But it is worth drawing attention to a few points that undermine not simply the ideological nonsense or inconvenient facts that derail the academic consensus which Gilley takes on with verve and astuteness, but both the role that the academy has adopted in ostensibly learning from the evils of the past to build a better future, and the mind-set that so commonly succumbs to preferring ideological simplicities and grand sounding nostrums to the far more complicated explorations which yield equivocations and hesitations in judgments about people who have had to deal with vastly different circumstances than those of our professional idea-makers, brokers, and overseers—as well as conclusions which one might not particularly be appreciated for reaching. That is, the study of real history requires being prepared to consider questions that transport one outside of a consensus that has been cemented because it was not driven by facts, historical or otherwise, nor by a well-considered and well-orchestrated series of questions, but by a priori “morally” and politically derived commitments which close off all manner of questions and hence understandings about reality.

History was among the more belated of the Humanities to fall into the kind of ethico-politics that took over Literary Studies for at least a generation.

In any case, working in the profession of “ideas” today involves little by way of having any virtue other than repeating and making inferences based upon certain moral consensuses and topics. One becomes a member of the profession of ideas by virtue of teaching and writing—the one exception in the doing is that increasingly universities have accepted the pedagogical value of political activism, if it is of the sort that conforms to the ethico-political ideas that have been accepted as true by those who write and teach on, and administer, the ideas which are to be socially instantiated. There are, to be sure, things one must not say (words or phrases one must not use) or do (at least to certain people with certain identities); but in the main not saying or doing those things is not remotely difficult, especially when the rewards are there for the taking, if one just goes along with things.

Just as character is a matter of irrelevance in today’s ideational configuration of identity, bestowing the right to a position, as a representative of one’s favoured disempowered group, being committed to a group narrational identity, has professional currency. Being an identity is to today’s mindset; what intelligence and character used to be. Neither of the latter are particular important anymore, as intelligence is dumbed down to the level of the school child, and character dissolved into an identity feature.

Today, our morally-fuelled anti-colonialists are condemning something that is now totally safe to condemn because it is no longer a reality that has any other part to play in their world than a moral occasion for their career advancement as talking moral heads. Being a part of today’s educated/ educational “leadership” brings with it all manner of predispositions and circumstances, and they are not ones that have anything remotely to do with what people who signed onto the foreign service or civil service in the age of colonialism, or even the academy some sixty or so years back, had to do.

People of different ages are pushed and pulled by different influences and priorities—and in so far as most young people are swept into whatever activities are part of the streams of opportunity, approval, ambition and mimetic desire that defines them, the difference between the youth who were caught up in the colonial enterprise, the revolutionary enterprises in Russia or China, or liberal progressive Wokeness today is not so much in their emotional enthusiasm and certainty, but the specific enterprise that has been socially and pedagogically concocted by the preceding generation and the opportunities that they grasp.

One can definitely identify which elites and which nations fare better by their doing; but so much of the doing is based upon what was made by previous generations, and who did what with the opportunities they had, as well as how much overreach and wastage occurred. Yes, I do think the elite generation of the West are more imbecilic and less charitable and capable of understanding the world and the circumstances that have made it and what is required to sustain a civilization than the elite that spawned colonialism. All groups have their blind-spots, and pathologies (here I am an unreconstructible Aristotelian) and the elites of the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century are not beyond criticism—no group is, because no group and no one can see exactly what they are doing, nor have all the information that would help their doing—but to dismiss them all as racists and plunderers is to be shockingly ignorant about their intelligence, moral sensibilities and motivations.

In any case, the various reasons that were involved in decolonization, including their excessive cost, an increasing lack of support on the home front, and the aspirations of an indigenous elite and rebels calling and /or fighting for national independence, were not events that had anything to do with the academics of today who contemplate colonialism as a moral problem with a very simple answer—it’s really bad.

Our time is not one in which colonialism offers any kind of desideratum at a personal, social or political level. Which is also to say the academic who writes critically about colonialism today is doing about as much to stop colonialism occurring now as their writings have to do with preventing a reconnaissance mission on Venus.

Of those teaching in universities who have fought for wars of independence who are still alive and who might hold a job in a university or in the media, the kind of questions raised by Gilley then come into play, viz. did things fare better once there was “liberation?” The answer to that will depend upon many things—who the colonizers were and what they did, and what transpired afterward.

Having taught in Darwin (Australia), I met a number of people who had fought against the Indonesians to create an independent East Timor/Timor-Leste. The results in Timor-Leste are mixed, though it is very poor; and while there are issues of corruption, it is stable. For their part, the Indonesians were, to put it mildly, not loved by the locals. The fact that the Indonesians occupied it after they had liberated themselves from the Dutch only goes to show that yesterday’s colonized can readily become tomorrow’s colonizer.

The question of how a country fares after colonialism is a serious one, and in some places the results have been horrific. It was the existence of such cases, of which there are many, with Cambodia winning the prize in that department, closely followed by a number of African nations like Uganda and Congo, that makes an article, such as Gilley’s case for re-colonialism, worth considering. But it is a far better career move to hate on Gilley by people who would rather ignore any facts which might complicate the founding passage of post-colonial scripture that the ‘white-colonialist devil’ is the demiurge responsible for all the post-colonial violence that occurs, and the formerly colonized are either angels of light and liberation, or zombies created by their white masters.

Gilley’s article is short enough for me not to have to repeat its contents. I will simply say that Gilley was trying to make serious recommendations about how recolonizing might be a better option in some places than continuing in the same way. That is the kind of idealism/thinking by design that I genuinely eschew, but as a thought experiment it deserved better than the accolades of denunciation it garnered. And had his critics taken their heads out of the sack of Kool Aid Acid, they might have realized that Gilley does not argue for reconquering territory, but for investment with legal/sovereign strings attached being undertaken in areas desperately in need of economic and social development.

My problem with this is that just as the anti-colonialists in Africa were often educated in the West, where ideas about how great communism and such-like started to abound and were commonplace in the 1960s, now what the Western mind offers would be even worse. The re-colonizers would be operating with their ESG and their DEI commitments and targets—they would be saddled with green energy goals, which would make sure they stay poor, and be expected to buy electric cars, otherwise keep on walking; their kids would be schooled in critical race theory, so they could blame everything that goes wrong on white people, and gender-sexual anatomy fluidity to break up the traditional family and anything else that the elite running corporations have seized on to incorporate into the great new world.

The new mental imperialism promises nothing but the endless division and persecution of anyone out of step with the ideology that ensconces Western liberal progressivism as the global norm. The clientelist assumptions and strategies which make of our professional ideas-people the emancipators of all and sundry who are not white, wealthy, cisgender men, who don’t support the globalist political left/progressive technocratic view of life being transposable to any circumstance, including that of people who live in former colonies, who only have to sit down and read their various primers on Fanon, or study post-colonial fiction and poetry, etc., along with Judith Butler to see how they can fix up their world, and get to the same standard as, say, a San Francisco tent for the homeless with free crack.


Much of what Gilley says in his article has been said by others, his “mistake” was to say it straight and assemble it into a formulation that exposes the thoughtlessness of the modern ideological consensus about colonialism. More broadly, though, the thoughtlessness that Gilley is dealing with is not just about colonialism, it is about how the world has come to be the world that is. Colonialism is certainly one part of that, and it is what concerns Gilley.

But if we take a step back from colonialism (and it is this that also distinguished, as Gilley notes, the “pro-colonialist” Marx from the “anti-colonialist” Lenin), two further considerations about the world are particularly pertinent, if we want to free our minds from the enchainment of stupidity that is presented as some kind of moral progress which is due to the purity of thought and being of our contemporary pontificating paragons. The first is where violence and war fit generally into the schema of human things. The second is technology (including the division of labour it requires—one of Marx’s better thoughts was to see the interconnection the division of labour, i.e., classes and technology; and like all Marx’s better thought, Marxists have abandoned it), and administrative technique.

With respect to the first, warfare is a perennial feature of human existence. The reasons for any given war may vary, but to blame war itself on one particular group is ridiculous. In the context of colonialism, warfare was pertinent to colonialism at every level of its development—from the wars that were commonly occurring between rival groups that colonialists were frequently able to use to their strategic advantage, to the wars between and against colonial powers that led to the demise of empires and their colonies.

That wars would continue after colonialism would only surprise those who think that merely deeming war a bad or an immoral thing might somehow play a role in preventing it. But while I find pacificism to be a response to war akin to when my cat thinks that if he cannot see me, I cannot see him—so he hides under a stool with his back to the wall and tale sticking out right under my nose—I find even more abominable the moral cherry-picking that poorly informed academics make about which violent conflicts they choose to take a stand on, without concerning themselves too much with all the forces and flows that go into it—thus, in general, their tacit support for the NATO proxy war in Ukraine.

A general, and hence, to be sure, not overly helpful formulation about why wars occur is that competing interests, predicated upon ways of being in the world and making the world, go to war when they see no other way to get what they want—in the past, more often than not, that was acquiring or protecting scarce resources, including labour power. Modern commerce does not necessarily prevent war because some resources are such that access may be unreliable or so tenuous that conquest is the more certain way to acquire them. But international trade is often the more secure way to acquire wealth. Of course, the moral imagination of the modern academic is not slow to critique capitalism. But as with violence and war, it cherry-picks which kind of capitalists are bad and who it serves (finance capital/big tech/big pharma are now its major “masters”)—it also comes up with fudge-words when confronted with the truth that socialism was no less murderous—and generally resulted in even more poverty—than capitalism, though state apparatuses and the elites who run them do make a very big difference as to whether capitalism can be even mildly benign.

Just as there is no genuine design solution to the problem of competing interests and life-ways, there is no simple design system that can eliminate war or class differences—though one thing that might ameliorate some of our problems is that groups have more thoughtful and well informed sources of information and representation, so they might be able to broker their differences from positions of strength (which in turn requires discipline in what is done with resources, how they are channelled in terms of strategic priorities, and who is fit and able in applying them).

But sadly, we have handed over the minds of our public and private institutions to a class of people, in the main, with ambition and enterprise existing in inverse relationship to the ability to think through alternative scenarios and consequences.

Irrespective of how one “parses” the moral behaviour and qualities of any group in conflict with another, and while just war theory may have an illustrious history, it has become a standard go-to position of idea professionals, whose sense of justice can be traced back to their own magnanimity—the fuse of most wars is woven out of various complex threads that go a long way back and have their own “reasons,” which is why a new party of force may take advantage of older animosities between groups to leverage its new authority.

Imperialism and the establishment of colonies are ancient ways of doing power that involve war; and any suggestion, whether tacit or outright, that suggests that there was something uniquely immoral about British imperialism or modern European colonialism is a fantasy.

The question of what benefits or costs were associated with any given empire or colonialisation project can only be answered by sitting down and doing the calculating. At some point, one might find that certain behaviours fit into some kind of moral calculus—such as Spaniards ending human sacrifice in the Aztec empire, or the British prohibiting the practice of widow-burning (sati) in India; or one might count the number and scale of massacres and ethnic and religious rivalries and wars committed during the reign of a colonizing power with those that occur previous to or after their reign. In the latter case, no matter how heated someone wants to get about the violence of the British in India, none in their right mind could think that the scale ever remotely approximated the scale of violence of the Partition (1947), or the subsequent war of Bangladesh.

In any case, and in any given colonial or imperial venture, there will be all manner of pluses and minuses that could be calculated, and there will be some beneficiaries and some losers. The point here, though, is that any fool can say that any imperial or colonial endeavour of yesterday is immoral—but the reasons for the endeavour were as much the reasons of yesterday as were the morals of those who undertook them. We might well be thankful that we do not live in such times with such choices or moral consensuses—all well and good, but so what? A strictly moral account of any given society is always going to turn out negative—life is frequently one tragic set of choices after another—which in part is why our educated elite can keep getting away with the nonsense of the air in their heads and the smoke of their words seeming more beguiling to youth and know-nothings who believe that all we have to do is “reimagine” the world to get the world we want—one of endless stuff and sexual pleasure—yippee!

While Gilley, citing pertinent writings and speeches from Bismarck, makes a case for Germany’s colonial enterprise being largely driven by extra-commercial incentives, in the main I think it difficult to un-entwine benign moral intentions of those with authority from opportunity for cads and bounders that may exist in the new colonies—though, my point is equally that wherever you go and whenever you went there was always some lot extracting stuff from and being cruel to another lot. Concomitantly, anti-colonialist forces often had to be as ferocious and cruel against those who did not find the new aspiring hegemonic elite to be serving their interests, as they were against the colonialists whose resources and power they wished to capture.

If the point I have just made emphasizes the eternal return of violence/ war/ opportunity/ authority, the second point, I think extremely important, is the unique nature of the technological and technocratic levels of advancement that occurred in the West, leading up to and culminating in the industrial revolution.

There are many aspects that we can consider to be definitive in the formation of the modern, but the industrial revolution makes any nation, in the position to take advantage of it, far more powerful than any peoples who are required to succumb to its authority. But, as Carroll Quigley convincingly argues in Tragedy and Hope, the industrial revolution is but one in a sequence of revolutions that occurred in the West; and the uniqueness of the West’s potency—as well as the problems it generates for itself and elsewhere—is intrinsically bound up with the sequences of its revolutions.

Here there can in my mind be no doubt that the world wars are the West’s creation, and I strongly recommend the little known book by Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Out Of Revolution: An Autobiography of Western Man, which provides an account of the flow and circulatory nature of the revolutionary events which formed the peoples of Western Europe into the powers that would find themselves in the Great War and its aftermath.

But when the West is transported into other regions, such as its colonies, the powers that have been its revolutionary offspring come in a very different sequence and with varying accompanying problems.

I do not want to go into the different sequence of structural developments of revolutionary processes feeding into different and staggered modernities, but I do want to highlight the point that whether it was grace, genes, or the luck of the historical draw, or something else again that led to the modern West, once there was a modern West, and once there were modern weapons, and an industrial revolution, then class conflicts in non-Western countries played out along lines which have everything to do with resource-opportunities and competition and wilful determination by groups ready to use their arms to engage in the age-old act of resource extraction, from those who grow food to those whose labour can be put to use for them to expand the possessions and services at their disposal. One can morally condemn this all one wants, but it is a universal phenomenon that only passes by the intellect of people whose understanding of premodern life comes from Rousseau and Disney.

That is, once modern weaponry and machinery and the various goods they produce, from cars to tanks, designer clothes and luxury homes, smart drugs and high-class whores (let’s face it, the appetites of gangsters are as basic as they are commonplace among the extremely wealthy), exist, along with a group who are willing to do anything to get them, there will be an “enslaved” or violently brutalized class. That there will be tribal-elements involved in the social bonding is also pretty well inevitable (the Mafia and dynasties follow a similar logic).

This situation, to repeat, is not the result of colonialism as such but of modernity. And modernity brings with it a reality in which the choices are as inevitable as they are terrible: join it or don’t join it. Any group that opts out of joining makes itself vulnerable to any group with weapons who wants to encroach upon its territory, its resources, its labour, and its women. Further, the longer the delay in joining it, the more difficult it will be to adapt to what to a traditional life-way is a massive juggernaut of technologies and techniques exploding its fabric.

This is why the greatest enemies of the traditional life of the most vulnerable of social groups on the planet, the indigenous peoples who had not formed cities and/or larger units of social organization, were not missionaries or colonizers of the nineteenth century but the progressives of today who purport to ally themselves with anyone against Western supremacy, but who are, in fact, anti-traditionalists, Western supremacists, who have ditched anything that grounded the West in those pathways of life shared by all peoples.

Irrespective of the time of “joining” with a life-way of a superior power, and irrespective if the joining is one of choice or conquest, any group that joins in the process of modernization will find that it has to compromise/adapt its traditions and behaviours to the juggernaut. Seen thus it is hard to see how colonialism itself can be blamed for the choice. It isn’t responsible for that choice. Though our ideocrats tend to think that every problem is merely a matter of educating moral reprobates, which seems to be working out swell in US inner cities, where all manner of crimes go unpunished, and levels of violence and criminality are plummeting—NOT. Why not, though, try exporting a batch of critical race theory books to those areas where post-colonial gangsters and dictators—sorry victims of colonialism—now extort and kill others so they can wake up and see the light and go back to college, perhaps even one in the USA, and learn how to teach critical race theory and so be part of the great love fest that the new moral leaders of the West are creating.

German postcard (1899). “Hurrah! Samoa is ours!”

But let’s get back to reality—colonialism might better induct the colonized into the means and manners required to live with the machinery and technology, and administrative and various systems that are being introduced into this world that cannot escape modernity—to repeat, because if it is not introduced by the colonizers, it will definitely be introduced by those “industrious” enough to get hold of the equipment and weapons that they can put to use. This is where Bruce Gilley raises important arguments, and why the reaction to him only illustrates what a mind dump the academy is, as it disseminates fantasies, moral and not so moral, about the world and its history so that it can enable a technocratic infantile future, as bereft of knowledge and wisdom, as it will be bereft of real love, and creative and cooperative endeavours.

I have already made the points that I wish to emphasise about modern colonialism needing to be interpreted against the constant of human conflict nd the tragic choice placed before any premodern people. I do think that life is ever one in which we are born into the sins and transgressions of our fathers; which is to say, I think Greeks and Christian were essentially correct and in agreement about the kinds of limits we confront, and that the modern elite aspires to throw away those limits and does so by substituting fantasies about the past as well as the future to beguile us into their nightmare.

But there can be no doubt that the modern opens up previously undreamt-of technologies and techniques which are amazing, and which enable the possibility of greater comfort and opportunities to do things for those that can get access to them. Thus, it is inevitably the case that any people who are conquered by a technologically superior people, if not completely turned into slaves, will benefit from the materials now available to them. We might call this the Monty Python/ Life of Brian argument for colonialism. To put it briefly: What have European colonizers ever done for the World? Answer: they brought with them the modern techniques and technologies of wealth creation. And the absence of those techniques and technologies is lower life expectancy and, in terms of sheer numbers, less wealth and less social choices.

Of course, in any society not everyone is or was a beneficiary of new social or technological innovations, and in every society the number of poor is significant—and prior to the industrial revolution poverty was far greater, and far more people were far more vulnerable to unfortunate climate conditions. And let us be real, at a time when there is so much panic about climate change, the fact is that any future famine, as with a number of past ones, will be far more likely due to political conditions than climate alone. At a time when the Malthusians run amok and aspire to dictate how the world should be depopulated, there is less global poverty and food shortage than ever; and where it does occur, politics and corruption rather than climate or population are the primary causes.


The points I have made above are general, but if I were to recommend one book that any reader wanting to consider a test case, which refutes so much of the moralising that is done about colonialism should read it would be Gilley’s In Defense of German Colonialism: And How Its Critics Empowered Nazis, Communists, and the Enemies of the West. The Postil has already published a short extract from it; but that extract did not indicate the extent to which Gilley exposes and successfully critiques the thoughtless claims that academics have made about German colonialism—or, in his (un-minced) words, “the drivel that passes for academic history” about German colonial history.

Early in the work, Gilley makes three points about colonialism in general, which are worth repeating and the antithesis of the kinds of facts that get in the way of a good moral fantasy. I will quote them:

Islands offer an almost perfect natural experiment in colonialism’s economic effects because their discovery by Europeans was sufficiently random. As a result, they should not have been affected by the ‘pull’ factors that made some places easier to colonize than others. In a 2009 study of the effects of colonialism on the income levels of people on eighty-one islands, two Dartmouth College economists found ‘a robust positive relationship between colonial tenure and modern outcomes.’ Bermuda and Guam are better off than Papua New Guinea and Fiji because they were colonized for longer. That helps explain why the biggest countries with limited or no formal colonial periods (especially China, Ethiopia, Egypt, Iran, Thailand, and Nepal) or whose colonial experiences ended before the modern colonial era (Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, and Haiti) are hardly compelling as evidence that not being colonized was a boon.”


Colonialism also enhanced later political freedoms. To be colonized in the nineteenth–twentieth-century era was to have much better prospects for democratic government, according to a statistical study of 143 colonial episodes by the Swedish economist Ola Olsson in 2009.


These twin legacies of economic development and political liberalism brought with them a host of social and cultural benefits—improved public health, the formation of education systems, the articulation and documentation of cultural diversity, the rights of women and minorities, and much else. It is no wonder, then, that colonized peoples by and large supported colonial rule. They migrated closer to more intensive areas of colonialism, paid taxes and reported crimes to colonial authorities, fought for colonial armies, administered colonial policies, and celebrated their status as colonial subjects. Without the willing collaboration of large parts of the population, colonialism would have been impossible.

With respect to the motives and the legacy of German colonialism, Gilley makes the argument that it was not primarily a plundering undertaking, in which blacks were to be treated as sub-humans and whites could treat them however they wanted—Gilley provides a number of examples of whites behaving badly in the German colonies and being punished for doing so. To frame it thus is not only to replace fact with fantasy but it is to ignore not only the statements of the colonizers themselves, but more important the voices of the colonized—Gilley provides numerous citations—who found that German colonial rule had bought greater peace and prosperity to them, thanks to placating tribal rivalries and long held animosities (Chapter 3 provides an analysis of the Herero and Nama peoples, and the imaginative claims that Herero-Nama wars were created by the Germans, or even more fantastically that they were gestures of anti-colonialism!). The major motivation, argues Gilley, is that colonialism was perceived as the accompanying condition of nation-building and being taken seriously as a major European power. The point is an interesting and important one, and it illustrates the vast gulf that separates the mindset of the generation that now dominates in the universities from that of a previous generation caught up in a completely different set of priorities of world-making.

Gilley provides numerous examples of what the German colonialists built, and again I will cite a few of his cases.

Having first established peace in East Africa, the Germans proceeded to establish prosperity. A 1,250-kilometer railway was built linking Lake Tanganyika to Dar es Salaam. To this day, the railway remains the lifeblood of Tanzania’s economy and of Zambia’s trans-shipment traffic. The German colonial railway was not just economically beneficial. It also led to the documenting of the region’s geography, vegetation, minerals, and peoples—much of which was carried out by the German-English railway engineer Clement Gillman as he surveyed the new line.


For the green conscious, it is especially noteworthy that German colonialism discovered the knowledge and crafted the regulations that protected the great forests and fauna of today’s Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi.


Without doubt, Germany’s greatest humanitarian contribution to Africa during its colonial period was the discovery of a cure for sleeping sickness. In terms of lives saved, Germany’s colonial achievement could stand on this ground alone. Sleeping sickness originated in nomadic cattle-herding populations in Africa whose movements had spread the disease for hundreds of years before the colonial era. The increase in intensive farming under colonialism accelerated its spread, an inevitable result of policies to increase food supply and modernize agriculture. The disease was ravenous. The British calculated that an outbreak in 1901–07 killed between two hundred thousand and three hundred thousand people in British Uganda, and two million people succumbed in all of East Africa in 1903 alone.

Nineteenth century colonialism is, as Gilley rightly notes, part of a genuinely civilizing approach to world-making. While that approach had both liberal and traditional European (conservative) accompaniments, it was also to be found in the communists Marx and Engels; and while the German socialists opposed how colonialism was being administered, they were, again as noted by Gilley, not unsupportive of colonial rule.

While the success of the modern, as these examples indicate, can be seen in terms of technical and technological advances, its diabolical underside is disclosed by the ideological concoctions that were to be transposed globally with far more devastating effects than colonialism itself. And if the first part of Gilley’s book might be an eyeopener for those who have not wanted to seriously think about what benefits accompanied colonialism, which is to say, those who have not thought out of the now fashionable moral academic box, the second part of the book makes the important point that both the Nazi and the communist projects were able to fuel anti-colonialist sentiments among various members of the aspirant elites in colonized country for their own geopolitical benefit and to the greater detriment of the societies in which these ideologically “educated” elites took power.

Need I say that any elite members wishing to gain power through national independence had no need to worry about the boring give-and-take and talk-fest that is endemic to democracies. Far easier to push through one’s will and that of one’s loyal support group or tribe and end up with—bloody chaos.

In an age where the holocaust is the diabolical terminus of history and anything and anyone from St. John to Luther to the family has been held up by some scholar or philosopher to be responsible, it is not surprising that colonialism would also be held responsible for the holocaust. But in spite of it now being commonplace among German academics to claim that there is line of continuity between German colonialism and the Nazis, the Nazis themselves from Hitler down wanted no truck with the colonialists and, in the main, few of the colonialists wanted what the Nazis wanted. In case anyone had not noticed, the Nazis were not in the civilizing business. Their fusion of nationalism and socialism, along with their antisemitism, and cult of the leader, was also embraced, along with open admiration for Hitler himself, by numerous anti-colonial leaders, most famously Nehru, Nasser, Amin and the Palestinian cleric Amin al-Husseini.

In the main, while academics don’t like the Nazis (unless they are Ukrainian ones who kill Russians and draw up hit lists of people to be liquidated for speaking out against them), they generally do like communists – in their upside-down world, communist rebels are freedom fighters. That communism is a Western ideological import that has not only exacerbated group and class conflicts but has been the means for justifying and entrenching “third world” elites with no idea how to better enhance economic conditions of people other than seizing land and property and pointing guns at people who must do what they are told.

The story of former colonies becoming entangled in the cross-fire of the Cold War like that of ambitious elites who used independence to secure their own power and wealth, along with those groups who give them their allegiances, is a horror story that belongs to the post-colonial age; but it is not the kind of story that neatly folds into a curricula or mind-set, where the answers to the cause of all things bad are white supremacism, i.e., European colonialists.

In a world as complicated as ours, the failure of the West to have an educated elite that are incapable of understanding the world before it, and the past behind it, is devastating. We are now living in that devastation; and although I detest those whose moral imaginations have been formed by sticking their heads in the bucket of Electric-Kool Aid Acid that now passes for an education, I have to concede that previous better-educated generations failed to see the consequences of their actions, and we are now living within those consequences.

Post script. Readers of a certain age will probably have recognised that I have borrowed the phrase “The Electric Kool-Aid” from Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Test, a book about Timothy Leary and his Merry Pranksters bussing across the US and their other shenanagins. This was in the days before college kids demanded safe spaces and fentanyl had become the drug of social breakdown. Wolfe was one of the founders of what was hailed as the new journalism in the early 1970s. Our world looks life the morning after what may have started as a party of sex and drugs and rock n roll and has turned into a nightmare of loneliness and totalitarianism.

Wayne Cristaudo is a philosopher, author, and educator, who has published over a dozen booksHe also doubles up as a singer songwriter. His latest album can be found here.

Featured: General Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, the “Lion of Africa,” a poster by Grotemeyer, dated 1918. The caption reads: “Kolonial-Krieger-Spende,” or “Colonial Soldiers Fund.” Signature of von Lettow-Vorbeck at the bottom.

Of Drag Queens and Dragons: Two Global Elite Competitors


In late May of this year, reports appeared about a scandal coming out of China, to do with a mathematics text books which had been used in primary school classrooms all over the country for the last ten or so years. Irate parents gathered on the internet to express their fury about the lewd, unpatriotic, and “ugly” pictures that had been included in the textbooks. The ugly ones depicted children with misshapen foreheads, droopy eyes, and “weird,” stylized Western clothes (one boy looks like he is a US college kid from the 1920s, another appears to be wearing Lederhosen, another is wearing a bow tie, another is posing like some young Hollywood star—in case you were wondering, Chinese parents generally don’t dress their kids this way). Some are pulling faces, or just looking stupid, and a number are making cheeky gestures with their tongues or hands; the unpatriotic ones include a picture of the Chinese flag in reverse and children dressed in colours suggestive of the American flag. The lewd ones are of little boys with very noticeable erect penises, another of a little girl’s dress lifted by her leap to reveal her panties and crotch, another has a boy tugging at a little girl’s dress, and in that same picture another child is squeezing the nipples of a little girl. At the very least, they look really weird—even more so that they appeared in a math textbook; though perhaps it is no weirder than university professors in the USA telling all and sundry that teaching math to black kids is racist.

The Chinese government appears to be embarrassed by the whole thing, and no less enraged than the parents, although there are questions to be answered about why the CCP had previously ignored complaints about the textbook. For it is only now, after a new surge of online complaints and chats, that the government has taken action and is investigating who was responsible. The question of responsibility for how a book makes it into a Chinese class room is no small matter. One imagines that a lot of seals of approvals are needed for a school text to be pedagogically and ideologically acceptable to the CCP. So, it seems that the illustrators are just the tip of an iceberg—the question is what lies beneath the surface?

The most common interpretation seems to be that there may be nefarious Western influences at work, who have deployed subliminal means to try and turn Chinese children away from traditional values and appropriate behaviour.

The Western media that I have read generally sees the whole thing as one more example of Western bashing. Irrespective of whether this is some foreign or domestic plot, or just someone having a laugh while the various officials presiding over ideological and social purity were asleep at the wheel, or someone given to the infantile humour, what is noteworthy is the concurrence between parents and the government about what constitutes an assault upon Chinese values, and what this indicates about how the Chinese expect their children to appear and to behave, and how they are responding to depictions of naughty sexualized children. It is equally noteworthy that they can see in these pictures a possible foreign attempt to subvert Chinese values by subliminally Westernizing children.

2. The Great Emancipation Continues, Spearheaded by Drag Queens and Trannies

That the Chinese government is able to pitch the above-mentioned episode as one of potential Western sabotage would seem less far-fetched were it not for the fact that in a very short space of time, the Western elite and the urban tertiary-educated metropolitan professional classes, who are its primary representatives, beneficiaries and enablers have literally dragged the matter of sexual rights and identity into childhood. Thus, there have been various local council and government initiatives to have drag queens read to kids in libraries, or drag events of meet-and-greet parents and kids; others allowing permits for setting up stripping poles at pride events for the kids to try their hand at what may turn into a new career opportunity. One that recently received a fair amount of backlash was of a scantily clad, well-stacked and packed, leggie transexual dancing around in a manner typical of “adult” club “dancers.” But it was not an adult club and “she”/”he,” or whatever the chosen pronoun, was not reaching out to adults, but to very young kids, with their parents clapping along, and encouraging kids to dance along with the nice ladyman. In a country that won’t allow people to have a beer until they are 21, there seems to be no issue with kiddies being in a bar with a neo-sign displaying the words ‘It’s Not Gonna Lick Itself;’ just in case you thought this was not OK, officials made sure that while kids may have been chaperoned in the “lick her” lollipop event, no liquor was served—thank the Lord that moral standards are being so safely protected by our moral paragons.

Speaking of moral standards and paragons of virtue, that other bastion of moral proprietary, the corporate media have increasingly come to see it as their moral responsibility to use children’s tv shows, films and books to celebrate same sex practice, coupling, marriage and childrearing as well as trans-children and trans-parents. In this new moral universe that has been conjured by the Western elite, it is a “normal” part of a child’s development to consider his/her biological sex as a matter of little importance whilst being encouraged to ponder the greater question of what biological sex he/she would like to become, and hence to help Big Pharma and surgeons decide what kind of drugs and amputation surgery they think might be suitable for kids that cannot be trusted to drink a glass of wine but have the wisdom of self to know where nature made an error in handing out the sex parts.

The world we all live in, in the West, was neatly laid out with that same intrepidity that defines the Daily Mail as the slummier version of the New York Times, a paper which never hesitates to scream louder for the demise of the Western world: on the same day that a former President’s home had been raided by the FBI (perfectly reasonable… after all he was groomed by Russian agents and he was definitely a Russian puppet President, and he posted really mean tweets, and he led an insurrection by saying we are going to march peacefully down to the Capital and protest)—a four-year-old child born a female announced transition with a blue gender reveal cannon at Vancouver Pride Parade—with its grandmother by its side. USA/Canada/Australia/New Zealand/Western Europe—as we say in Australia “same difference;” though, to be fair to the Canadians, they did at least pick a guy who can enforce the new fascism in complete sentences.

But it is not who the Grand Poobah is that matters anymore, anymore than it matters which ruling party holds office—it is what the Western globalist enablers and beneficiaries are willing to do to get their way. Those wanting the Great Reset are as prepared to destroy any populist opposition who might undermine their plans, as they are to starve people (ask the Sri Lankans about that), as they are to destroy the livelihoods of farmers who must cull their cattle, and thus be forced to sell their land off to those wanting to control the global production of food and its supply, of what will be a predominantly plant or insect based diet (ask the Dutch farmers about that), and as they are to encourage anything that might lead to the reduction of the global population, so that it might fit the number Klaus, Bill, Jeff, George and their mates think is desirable. It is not hard to envisage that behind the new family and the normalization of the idea that one’s biological sex organs not meaning anything is the prospect of the eventual banning of biological birth by anyone whose social credit is discredited. If that sounds like some crank conspiracy theorist, it is because today a conspiracy theorist is anyone who has read “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” or The Great Reset. And if anyone thought things like the directives “Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature,” and “Guide reproduction wisely—improving fitness and diversity,” which were engraved on the Georgia Guidestones in 1980, were actually intended to mean something and might in some way have been put there by someone (Ted Turner according to local rumour) who shared the same “vision” with Schwab, Gates, and Co.—well, they are really total crazies. (The monument was blown up last month and has been removed, so to think it was even there is crazy, man, crazy.)

This same elite also thinks that acceptance of this program should be mandatory; that parents who object to some part of it—like the kids thinking that Mummy and Daddy are really weird if they are last century’s version of Mummy and Daddy, or that “willies” and “vulvas” are about as defining of who and what one is as one’s favourite ice cream—are either misinformed and need to be re-educated or are a threat to their children’s well-being and hence their children need to be rescued from them for such parents’ cruel bigotry. This elite also think that any member of a medical or psychiatry association, and increasingly a university or school, who does not think this should be relieved of his duties.

None of this, though, prevented the mobilization of opposition to Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health which was driven by the slogan of women’s rights; which is indicative of the fact that “woman” is a biological term when those with progressive political intentions say it is because they want it to be—and when it does not suit them, then biology is a social construct.

In a world where an elite, and their imbecilic enablers, preach that it is not normal to think of one’s natural sexual organs as signifying anything, the right answer for anyone aspiring to hold office in the highest judicial office in the land is to pass on the question “What is a woman?” by stating the obvious that “she is not a biologist”—hence all those old laws and rules which do require distinguishing between men and women, or designating who may enter which toilets, bathrooms, or waxing services according to sexual anatomy, can be deemed unconstitutional without anyone ever needing to do something as clumsy and open to a barrage of ridicule as the Democrats did when they passed the “sexless speech codes for the House of Representatives.”

By the way, and apropos of China and America, and their respective elites and “leaders,” the code which bans the use of such terms as “mother” and “father,” “brother” and “sister” was introduced by Nancy Pelosi, the same one who, having poked the dragon by refusing to play the normal game of international diplomacy, publicly waltzed off to Taiwan (none knows exactly why, apart from the obvious reason of creating an international incident) thought that the public was so stupid that her telling the “cutest” anecdote of believing, as a little girl, that if she dug through the beach she would get to China—that’s how much she loved China and why she has had a special relationship with China ever since. Until I read that, and leaving aside pretty much any sentence Joe might air on any given topic, or videos of him walking into broom closets, shaking hands with the air a minute after shaking hands with a real person (assuming that is, that Chuck Schumer is not a lizard shape-shifter), and reading teleprompter directions for his audience to hear—I had thought nothing could top Kamala Harris’s lesson on international diplomacy for the American people: “Ukraine is a country in Europe. It exists next to another country called Russia. Russia is a bigger country. Russia is a powerful country. Russia decided to invade a smaller country called Ukraine; so, basically, that’s wrong,”

Xi and the boys are probably wondering on how earth the world economic and military hegemon is led by three idiots—and for the anti-Trumpers, let us concede along with the debacle in Afghanistan, poking the Russian bear into threatening to nuke the West, you got three idiots doing well over three times more damage for the price of one. Though Xi and Co. just might be wondering if all these seemingly imbecilic antics are coded signals to those in China prepared to engage in an elite overthrow in the People’s Republic.

Irrespective of what the leaders of the CCP think, what we are witnessing in the West is the most radical transformation ever undertaken of child socialization—by making sexual identity as a rightful (legislatively backed-up) choice the centre-piece of its importance. How we reached this state cannot be separated from the broader “march” of social liberalization that commenced with the acceptance of sexual practices once considered criminal; and, then, when decriminalized, extended to the publicization of said practices through public parades and carnivals, in which participants in various state of undress simulate sexual acts on floats (though to be fair, usually with humour); then to the removal of any institutional obstacle—such as had been operating in the military since God knows when—to employing people who openly identified their being with their choice of same-sex relationships and encounters; then to the right of same sex couples to adopt children; then to be married (the sequence indicated that this was already a fait accompli); and finally for the army to pay for gender reassignment surgery. A lot of people started to get irritated when it came to the last one—not because they are transphobic or want to beat up trans people but because they don’t want to pay for anyone’s surgery involving their sexual parts. But now that it has reached the kids a lot of people are very angry—although, as in so many other matters, our great cultural and political leaders think the problem is solved if they can just mock and disparage the parents of the kids being taught how to enjoy all the colours of the sexual rainbow, and to go sex-organ-shopping with their teacher.

The examples are endless, and seem to be ever more unbelievable—but the doozie is of a PhD (remember this is the ticket to academic life) involving the candidate’s ethnographic study of masturbation and Japanese boy-sex comics; the study consisted of him reporting on his “field” research—i.e., his feeling as he masturbated while viewing the comics. While Western progressives love to invoke how all cultures should be treated with respect, except the repressive Greco-Christian-Germanic, Western European/North Atlantic culture, there are also no pride parades, nor pride flags in China, nor, while we are at it, anywhere outside of Israel in the Middle East, nor Asia generally.

But, Islamic countries aside, governments generally have far more urgent problems than checking up on people’s sex lives, and the social cost of doing so is not one that has much going for it—apart from needlessly interfering in people’s personal lives, the opportunities for blackmail, the destruction it does to reputations or to friends and families makes it as toxic as it may be hypocritical (J. Edgar Hoover is the poster boy for that.) That was why governments in the West in the 1960s and 1970s (China followed in the late 1990s) overturned laws which were widely accepted as being discriminatory and socially and personally damaging. I am not surprised that even conservatives who object to gay adoption or gay marriage do not want to return to legislation against consensual same-sex acts between adults. But I no more see it as discriminatory against gays not to feel the need to wave pride flags, nor attend pride parades any less than I feel it discriminatory against women not to want to go to strip clubs. Of course, those who think they are fixing up the world from the cruelty of prejudice think that such an argument is not pertinent. But that’s the thing about consensuses dreamt up by elites—nothing other than what they think is relevant. That they think that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a defining feature of a person, as opposed to an aspect of someone, is what separates this elite from others of the past, as well as the Chinese elite—who don’t want the entire basis of the family overturned so that people can do what they do, and which the CCP doesn’t care about as long as they don’t bring it into classrooms, or do the kind of things in public that heterosexuals are also prohibited from doing.

That today’s teachers in the West are increasingly required to ensure that children not only not be bullied for their sexual choices but be encouraged to consider the various sexual life-style and alternative choices open to them makes sense in terms of the “logic” of liberation, and the logic of the self as being primarily defined by sexual desire. But what it also is, is the denial of traditional parents to induct their children into roles that they value. To be sure, many parents may once have been disappointed that their little Jimmy or Suzie, once they grew up, liked having sex with people of the same sex—though I think most who love their kids will not stop loving them because of that. Families have to get over all sorts of stuff; and to think that teachers should be authorized to reset the norms of social roles to ease the embarrassment or personal suffering due to parents’ expectations is but one more example of the expansion of the state into areas of life which threaten to make it an all-encompassing power controlling what anyone is permitted to think or say.

The matter of sexual emancipation is not just about sexuality, it is about state authority and what occurs when it is unbounded. In his impressive majestic tome on the subject of sexuality and modernity (introduced to me by the editor of this magazine), E. Michael Jones’ Libido Dominandi argues that unleashing the sexual floodgates of desire is intrinsic to the creation of the modern self and its values, and that at its centre is the desire and capacity to control. I think there is much truth to his argument, as well as his insight expressed on a YouTube presentation that the moderns distorted the traditional order in which desire is subordinate to truth and replaced it with truth being subordinated to desire. To which, what passes for an educated student today, asked him, whose truth? Elsewhere I have expressed my distaste for metaphysical a priorism intruding into matters where experience must be our guide; which is to say not experiences of the Lockean sort that have been put through an epistemological and metaphysical meat-grinder that is applicable to physics and not much else, but the experiences of our tastes, smells, touches and feelings—they are intrinsic to our second nature which is part of our social and historical cultivation.

But the point the said student missed (and I wish Jones had done a better job of making his case in this instance) was that yes different cultures/peoples/faith value different things, but there can be no argument about the built-up-world, with all its virtues and pathologies, and hence all the living consequences that reveal the truth of what an orientation is and where it leads. (This was why Augustine commences The City of God with his identification of where faith in the Roman gods has led). And that is not a matter of subjectivity but of record. Speaking over and around the world is subjective; but living in a good family and neighbourhood, or living in a shit-hole is as objective as being hit by a truck. In this respect, although all societies reproduce themselves through the cultivations and selections its authorities make, about which desires and practices its youth are to be orientated in, and which ones to be proscribed by punishing any transgressor. While the Western cultural revolution of the 1960s is closely connected to the sexual revolution and hence to subordinating truth to desire generally, but most of all sexual desire, the CCP, having scrambled back from the brink of its own defeat and the chaos it helped create, has closed that particular modern pathway of self-destruction.

That sexual emancipation in the West does disclose a truth is all too evident, when one moves outside of environments sufficiently well-resourced to drive the negative consequences of serial monogamy and broken families, into the more personal and solitary sad confines alleviated by drugs, alcohol, and other sedatives of the spirit, and enters into the social squalor of its underclass. There divorce is all too-often accompanied by impoverished single mothers serially coupling with socially, poorly formed, ill-equipped violent men, who treat them and their children with callous opportunity.

The more impoverished, squalid, hellish social pockets that breed crime, drug addiction, petty theft, woman-beating, abandoned children is all explicable in our Western world as the consequence of some kind of “-ism” or “phobia”—racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, or lack of equality (a word very easy to say but a problem whose solution more times than not equates into more jobs for the bureaucrats, as the problems attributed to inequality continue to fester). What cannot be touched is the central idea of the emancipation of our desires, which (with race coming a close second—but note how even BLM link their objectives to sexuality) has become the predominant one, circulated within the Humanities.

Thus, it should be no mystery that professions in entertainment, the media and education, and increasingly the medical and social work professions, now require all children—who are to be seen as smaller desiring subjects—be “rescued” because a minority of them might—and among them some definitely do—suffer because of their sexual desires. One issue this decision to reconstruct the self—for it is a decision—raises is at which age should the law configure the self in this manner. It is obvious that what now passes for the norm amongst those who believe themselves to be the leaders of our emancipation is that it would not only be cruel and morally wrong to distinguish between adults and children on matters of sexual identity, but even more cruel to deny this right to children.

Of course, laws of statutory rape and carnal knowledge are regularly enforced, and people can be imprisoned for sex with minors. Though it is weird, isn’t it, that with all the kerfuffle about Epstein, and sex trafficking, apart from Epstein himself, it is only Ghislaine Maxwell who has gone to trial—nothing to see here folks. If you ever wondered how loony stuff like Pizza-gate takes off, you might consider that the media actually does bury stories where sex with minors is involved—apart from Epstein, go dig, if you don’t know of its contents, into what incriminating stuff was on Hunter’s lap top.

While the march of emancipation is pitched as if it were primarily about choice—”my body my choice” being the slogan that stretches from the sex act to the sexual being of one’s entire identity, to “terminating” a pregnancy, from pleasure to extinguishing a potential life (let’s leave aside when, why and how it might be “justified”)—it is really about pleasure, and sexual appetite as the primary drive and hence most rightful basis of one’s identity. In part, this is an outgrowth of bad ideas that spring from the modern metaphysical revolution which became the ideational attractor force for modern politics and the modern state. Of course, pleasure is nice—it is pleasurable. But the social order, known by every premodern society, is not based upon pleasure but sacred obligation and sacrifice; and to think that pleasure can displace the sacrificial and the sacred by becoming the new sacred is a complete defiance of reality. And this is exactly what the Western elite today are—the incarnation of the defiance of reality—and in so far as reality and spirit are not separate substances, but are the occasion of each other; mutual aspects of ourselves, our encounters and our world; defying reality also means defying the spirit. The fact that this defiance occurs at the same time as our knowledge and control over the dead mechanics of nature is on a previously unprecedented scale of achievement is what gives us the predicament of a people dwelling in material surfeit, but lost, lonely, and despairing whilst seeking solace in, at best, escapist entertainment, or cocaine, crack, fentanyl, alcohol, and whatever else may act as a stimulant to the dying self. Zombie movies that became all the rage some twenty years ago, as I have mentioned elsewhere, strike me as the expression of the collective subconscious, representing the plight of the collective soul.

But of all the various stimulants, sex is the most immediate; and making our sexual being the fulcrum of our moral scale is a perfect way to sacralize a force that has, with some rare historical exceptions, always been recognized as a dangerous one, if not properly channeled and socially modulated, through the most socially authoritative powers. (It also provides false fuel for that hunger for spiritual meaning that is the defining feature of non-psychopathic souls.) This fact was what fantasists like Margaret Mead attempted to disprove by imagining people who lived lives of such libidinous indulgence that the poor repressed sex-starved souls in the West could only look on with envy. The sexualization of the self is, in short, a reconstruction of the self as a completely appetitive being—notice how all the rights talk of emancipation is about satisfaction of the need to have access to more pleasurable stuff, which has been kept from your group by the privileged oppressors.

That sexual appetite is mercurial and forceful is precisely why giving it too much authority in a scale of social values does not lead to emancipation or any kind of moral consistency, but to ever more haphazard ways of us dealing with each other, ever more opportunities to do what we as a species regularly do—hurt each other, and make each other miserable (that by the way is not a left/right thing—it is just a perennial thing that no ideology will save us from). But this is also why blunt and, often brutal, measures have traditionally been adopted to keep sex under wraps rather than make it the centrepiece of daily life. And why the West is entangled in its abstract puritanism, voyeurism, and appetitive obsessions—and the kids are smack bang in the middle of all this.

When we think of sexual desire being the centre of our being, most will think that this is largely due to Freud. Freud was possibly brilliant, but definitely nuts—for him all love derived from pleasure, and the search for love was a search for pleasure, which was a hunt for the big pay-off of sex. And for Freud our biggest problems in life all come back to the fact that Daddy and Mummy didn’t want the kids to have sex with Mummy. A culture that can create an entire profession around that idea is one that is willing to believe anything. In any case, we know coke makes people delusional about sex (Harvey Weinstein and Louis CK will surely agree with that); perhaps all that cocaine is responsible for Freud have decided that was the real meaning of human life. But to be fair to him, Freud at least conceded that civilization required redirecting the sex drive—had he not paused from having sex all day, and put his coked-up brain to another purpose, i.e. thinking about sex all day and finding it in all his dreams as well, he never could have given the world his “great” science of psychoanalysis. And in spite of all the coke and sex in Hollywood, it is difficult to discern in our film and tv show makers, as well as in our more poorly paid academics and school teachers (who generally can’t afford too much of the coke) much concession to Freud’s idea of sublimation.

The other guy who thought everything was about sex and pleasure—so much so that pain (of the self as well as others) was to be explored in all its modalities as the highest source of pleasure—was the Marquis de Sade. And it is no accident that the third figure in the Holy trinity (Marx and Nietzsche being the first two) of twentieth century existentialism, French poststructuralist and postmodernist philosophy (yes, they are kind of different, and they sure squabbled amongst themselves), that is the philosophy which took total emancipation as its endgame, is de Sade. To be sure in the writings of Bataille, Blanchot, Klossowski, Deleuze, de Beauvoir, Barthes, Foucault, it is de Sade the author, the man of imaginative and verbal excess that is celebrated; which is to say it is one in which the lion is muzzled, and the carnivalesque fantasies of murdering and torturing children is but air and words which, with their hermeneutical help, we can channel into the stratosphere of great philosophy and/or literature. The relevance of Sade, though, is that if life is all about desire and its most pleasurable kinds—or even better if we stick with the French jouissance—then transgression and emancipation are synonyms. Which it has been for lots of academics in literature departments in North America in the last thirty years or so—just do a search for transgression along with queer studies, feminism etc. so you get the picture.

Of course, the fact that someone writes with Sadean enthusiasm about sexual transgression in the morning does not mean that in the afternoon they won’t end up sitting on some committee in the afternoon accusing one of their colleagues for some sexual misdemeanors; on more than some occasions it is because a college girl’s fantasies with her favourite professor didn’t turn out the way she hoped. Consistency rarely plays a role in human affairs, especially where sanctimony is involved. And I do not want to say that all people are pedophiles who push for kids being part of the fun at pride parades, lollipop licking trannie shows, or being read to by drag queens in libraries, or pushing for more books about teenies showing each other their weenies or pee pee holes, or being super depressed because they either need them cut off, or need have them stitched on so they can be who they really are, which is to say they can receive all the accolades for being such good brave children by doing what their parents hope and pray they will do. I really don’t think they are primarily pedophiles; but I also don’t think all their immersion in Judith Butlerish gibberish has given them any clarity at all about what kind of world they are making, or what kind of mess they are making of the lives of the kids they are screwing up in order to save them from haters and ‘normies.’

In any case, the cultural revolution that took place in the West in the 1960s, of which the sexual revolution was a major component, was one in which the matter of childhood development, which included sexual development and desire, was already being signaled. Nowhere was this more visible than in a famous case in France, in which a number of prominent philosophers, whose names would become bywords for the philosophies of 1968 (frequently, albeit somewhat sloppily, grouped as “postmodernist”)—Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, Roland Barthes, and (the definitely not postmodernists) Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir (yes, you spotted it; it is pretty much that same bunch of Sade lovers)—signed petitions, demanding the release of three men imprisoned for sexual activities with children aged 12 and 13. The petition was all couched in the language of the rights of children to have relations with whomsoever they wish. The issue then as now was who had the right to do what and which right should hold sway when the aim of the right was to prevent harm. At the time, the most public face of the philosophical pro-pedophilia position, a fact that had mostly been forgotten by all those professors lining up to instruct college students about why Foucault (the most cited scholar in the Humanities of our age) holds the keys to making the world such a much better place. Though there was a little rain a short while back on Foucault’s parade when Foucault’s pedophilia again became the talk of Paris, thanks to a French-American professor Guy Sorman saying he knew that Foucault had been paying for sex with underage boys in Tunisia; sometimes it seems he just raped them. (Given how big Foucault is in Post-Colonial Studies, one might think this might have damaged his brand—but I suspect that was no more the case than Althusser damaged his brand among radical feminists for strangling his wife.)

Non-progressives would generally concede that it is a casuistic point whether the divide between adults pedagogically inducting (normalizing) children into the various array of sexual choices and “their delights” are really grooming them—even though the scandals surrounding pedophilia in Disney and, more generally Hollywood, do indicate that those pushing to pleasure themselves with children have much to gain by promoting a sexualization of children. LGBTQ+ groups, though, who are proactive in promoting the lit, the films, the readings and the meet-and-greets couch everything in terms of saving the children, As noble as they see themselves, lots of parents do not buy, nor like, it. But the thing is that in the West, and unlike in China, they can do next to nothing about it. And whichever way we cut it, children are under the instruction of an elite who are spearheading the Western cultural revolution and reconfiguration of all Western institutions along lines suited to the narratives and values which this elite has by making a living out of the hellish marriage of human appetites and their control.

2. The Chinese Cultural Revolution and What the CCP Learnt from It

The contestation between the world’s two super powers is a contestation between two elites that have both come out of modern revolutions of national liberation and cultural revolutions. While the national revolutions were almost six generations apart, the cultural revolutions were simultaneous, and their respective outcomes—one defeated, the other successful and still in operation—would be decisive in how the two most powerful global elites would line up. Both cultural revolutions intensified an essential feature that lay imminent in their national revolutions—Maoist ideology was intensified in China, at the moment when other party members and factions sought to rescue the nation from the economic sabotage that had characterized Mao’s leadership since winning the civil war; the cultural revolution in the US was fought by an extension of rights (which had been a defining feature of the nation’s declaration of independence) to groups which all laid claim for their rights to be recognized, so that they could enjoy their right to happiness along with everybody else.

The cultural revolution in China occurred shortly after the country had been forced by Mao and the party to follow policies that involved mass killings and mass starvations of the Great Leap Forward—there are many books on this topic, but one by a former colleague of mine at the University of Hong Kong, Frank Dikötter’s Mao’s Great Famine, is probably the most thorough and harrowing account of the cruelty, stupidity, callous indifference, and sheer scale of brutality that took place in China between 1958-1962. While the party managed to retain its political power, Mao’s authority had to be reined in by other party leaders and their factions, who hoped to place the revolution back on some kind of stable trajectory. Being somewhat muzzled himself, Mao colluded with his wife, an ex-actress, Jiang Qing, to begin an active campaign against the threat to China being posed by the threat of capitalist in-roaders using bourgeois ideas (i.e., anything she did not like) to sabotage the revolutionary potential of the arts, whilst also laying down revolutionary guidelines. She took particularly firm control of the traditional art of Chinese opera—lots of earnest red guards, waving red flags, yelling out Maoist slogans, and triumphantly peering into a distant future, after they had humiliated and beaten on some terrible landowner or shopkeeper or other bourgeois vampire sucking the entrails out of beautiful athletic dancers and actors posing as simple peasants/proletarians. Art and reality perfectly reflected each other—it was real socialism and socialist realism, in which the youth on stage were as useful to real farming as the red guards prancing around the countryside bringing their vast wealth of experience and knowledge to the collective farms—and they were both crimes against any finer sentiments or thoughts that people might be able to muster up outside of the embittered neuro-pathways of this wretched embittered couple (just as Mao had scores to settle in the party, she had scores to settle in the theatre and film world she had once circulated in) who needed to overthrow and take lead of an entire former empire to fulfil their fantasies.

They may not have slept together, but they were able to give birth to a mass movement of youthful violent energy, in a country that had been in chaos for decades. The wretched life the poor youth had had as children, thanks to Mao and his subordinates, made them eager soldiers in the battle to storm the heaven of plenty and freedom. Marx had promised that the citadel of unalienated life could be had once capital had provided the techniques and technologies of endless bounty, provided it was expropriated from the blood-sucking capitalists. With Mao, whose track-record already included the ruin that accompanied ridding the land of the vermin of sparrows, and flies and bypassing industrialization by the establishment of backyard smelters transforming spoons and tin cups into industrial strength steel, very heaven was ripe for the taking. All they needed to do was follow the thought and wisdom of Chairman Mao, and destroy the source of all their problems: those “running dogs of capitalism” within the party and elsewhere, and “the four olds”—old ideas, old culture, old customs, and old habits.”

These red guards hunted down all “old” and bourgeois elements not only within the country, but within their own families and neighbourhoods. In addition to roaming around the country looking for and destroying any signs of what they found unworthy of the new future, they threw elders out of their windows, put dunce caps on their teachers, and snitched on and insulted their parents and grandparents. Whenever they had an opportunity they would assemble, screaming Maoist slogans at all and sundry, whilst waving copies of that little red book—put together by the guy that was second to Mao before Mao did a number two on him and had him blown up in a plane—that had compressed all the great wisdom of the greatest genius the world has ever known into a book the size of one’s hand. It sure takes genius to come up with stuff like “We must fight a war if we have to. I am saying that it is not so terrifying even if half of our population perishes.”

No wonder all those real clever types, such as Foucault, Sollers, Kristeva and the Tel Quel crowd, Althusser, Badiou, Sartre, de Beauvoir (haven’t we met most of this lot a couple of times already?) in that city which would become the most bedazzling theoretical source for the various emancipatory groups that would be born in the womb of the student revolt—Paris—thought Mao was just tremendous. As far as they could fathom, people in Mao’s China were far freer than those like themselves who lived in that oppressive stodgy old political system and political culture that concealed its fascism and repression behind the shabby façade of free speech, state welfare and democracy—simple minded guy that I am, I fail to see the difference in craziness between this philosophical fantasy and one that blames the problems of the world on aliens from other planets inhabiting people.

The red guards also had to bond with the peasants by working in the collective farms, where they were likely to find old party officials who had actually fought in the revolution feeding the pigs and undergoing reeducation by being amongst the people. In the meantime, universities essentially ceased; thus ensuring a shortage of technically trained professionals, and hence too ensuring another decade or so of economic self-sabotage. If ever anyone wants to prove that there are worse ways to economically organize a country than capitalism, with all its flaws, all they have to do is point to Mao’s China—or to Mao’s most illustrious progeny, Pol Pot. If Mao had only had ten more years, he might have been inspired by Pol to show him just how he should have gone about it.

Mao was eventually brought to heel by the remnants of the party who had returned after having been harassed and banished to the countryside. From outside it seems that Mao had sense enough to realize that he too would be dragged under the wheels of the momentum of what he had helped orchestrate; so, he thought it better to remain as the great helmsman, while the rest of the party mopped up the mess. Mao was left as a figure head; left alone, as we all subsequently discovered, to have a driver cruise for young girls for him to sleep with, before slipping completely into senility. For their part, the anti-Mao forces in the party, which were very many, had to do one thing—wait. Wait they did. And immediately upon his death, they imprisoned his wife and the other primary instigators of the cultural revolution.

It seems that immediately after his death they were not too sure what to do, except put their faith in the little guy who had fought with Mao and returned to restore some sort of order. Prodded on by impatient farmers sick to death of working in collective farms for a pittance, and determined to bring some of their surplus to markets, he undid not only Maoism, but Marxist economics (though not the Leninist political apparatus which had enabled the CCP’s monopoly of political power). With that revolution from above, Teng would turn China into the rival hegemon to the USA it is today. Apart from allowing private property, the party realized that it had to tear out those radical cultural ideas that had created such social havoc and had managed to ruin urban industry as well as keeping China a country of impoverished peasants. The party then rehabilitated Confucius. That cemented any hope that any hotheads left over from the cultural revolution might have had.

Confucius, of course, had been attacked viciously by the CCP during Mao’s reign, in large part because at the centre of his teaching is the importance of parental authority and family roles. Conjoining Marx and Confucius is no mean dialectical feat, though to be sure no more so than calling for defunding the police in the West whilst requiring ever more legal enforcement to punish those who offend people’s feelings by speech deemed hateful. And in any case, it was one thing to change the content of communism so that it could be capitalism as long as the capitalists obeyed the party, but another thing altogether to ditch the brand name. But it was not only Marx and Confucius that had to be “married,” they could not eliminate Mao from the glorious history of the party. Thus, to this day Mao is still publicly revered, albeit with the rider, that he made “some mistakes.”

In the washup after the cultural revolution, the party, for all its infighting and factionalism, settled on three primary objectives: stability, solidarity and prosperity. On the matter of prosperity, and for all the profit siphoning, data and currency rigging, party and bureaucratic corruption, none can seriously deny the CCP has adopted policies which have lifted vast numbers out of poverty, exponentially grown its middle class, and massively expanded the regions where growth is taking place. The country certainly has people who still quietly grumble that the anti-corruption policies are simply the consolidation and protection of one criminal faction at the expense of others, but since Xi’s presidency the party seems to have well and truly placated any large-scale social unrest.

Irrespective of what one knows or thinks about the degree of corruption of the CCP, the CCP and its policies today is the result of 3-4 generations who have monopolized political power, who have led the country into and then out of chaos, and now rule a country in which opposition outside of the party is fragmented, kept under ground or under surveillance, and hence nowhere near hurling the country into civil war. When the CCP speaks of solidarity, it is intent upon preserving more traditional values, which is to say its view of solidarity is closely tied to the importance it gives to stability, and the prominence it gives to Confucius. And hence why the stuff in the textbooks and the stuff that is happening in the West raises their hackles.

For all its dialectical chicanery the CCP most certainly does not want to completely tear up the family again as had occurred during the cultural revolution—it needs it because only if children are raised to obey their parents and control their appetites will they have the discipline required to rear their own children, hold down a job and behave with civility. There is much about the CCP’s exercise of censorship, and unconstrained authority to be criticized, but the way the Western elite and its enablers has used desire generally, and used children to weaponize their adulation and deification of sexual desire for social control brings the matter of control and destruction to another level completely: the control is ever more total as is the destruction.

3. The Western Cultural Revolution and Why the West Rewards an Elite that Destroys Its own Civilization

In the West the cultural revolution, as in China, was a youth revolution—but to the extent it was orchestrated anywhere (and one should neither overestimate nor underestimate this aspect of it), it was partly aided by remote enemies of the United States—once more I advise any who are unaware of it, to check out the interview given by the ex-KGB agent in 1984, Yuri Besmenov, on YouTube and scout out the various Soviet funded fronts operating in the West during the Cold War—and by the extremely wealthy founders of “philanthropic” organizations, such as the Rockefeller Foundation.

Almost fifty years ago, I was astonished to see in Herbert Marcuse’s Soviet Marxism, a book that criticizes the Soviets for not being true Marxists, his acknowledgement of financial support by the Rockefeller Foundation. Alongside Rockefeller, the most famous foundations are probably the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and George Soros’s Open Society Foundations—which have continued to pump money into groups pushing forward the kind of radical politics that took their present shape, thanks to academic-student led identity formations in the Western youth/cultural revolution.

The generation that came of age in the 1960s was, however, damaged and spoiled long before Soviet and Rockefeller money found its way into supporting radical causes. And these agents aside, young people don’t need much assistance in becoming out of control. On the contrary, it takes a great deal of unified effort to harness natural energy into a form in which people can treat strangers among them with civility, and respect such fundamentals of civilization as property and sexual boundaries. Traditions that have been built up by generations, so that children honour their fathers and mothers, and their teachers, who also instruct children to honour their ancestors and ancestral ways, provide the foundation for people to treat each other in a law-abiding manner. Along with the family, there needs to be a certain deference to the tribe; and as tribes join into larger units, the expansion of civility may transpire. But the expansion of the bonds of social solidarity is not merely to the air of an idea, even if those appealing to ideas insist upon their moral or universal character. This idea that faith in moral ideas or moral rights, as set out in some document which provides the basis for greater bonds of solidarity, turns reality on its head—apart from the haphazard and ineffectual consequence of this, as all sorts of groups are happy to give lip-service to the formulae and to use the formulae to try and gain some kind of political or social advantage, but to ignore them completely when it does not suit them. Which is why the USA has so little moral credibility when it comes to getting the non-West to accepts its moral authority as setting the agenda of the international world order—or, just as obvious, why the UN routinely has dictatorships, who routinely violate human rights, serving on any number of its Human Rights bodies, such as the Human Rights Council, at any given time.

Traditional bonds of solidarity involve many aspects, including shared experiences, symbiotic hierarchical relationships and the adoption of diverse roles which make very different demands upon the various members of the social body, who in turn are intrinsic to accessing and conveying different aspects of reality which are transmitted across the ages. The fundamental differences between men and women are part of that accessing and transmission. And although changing material conditions may alter the urgency of our reliance upon certain components or elements of reality, which we need to access and cultivate in order to survive and live well, the idea that the real can simply conform to such abstract ends as freedom or equality, or diversity and inclusiveness, is the kind of idea that takes hold when people have become so used to the substitution of words and ideas for real roles with their duties, and sacrifices. It is no accident that the best educated generation, a generation drunk on ideas, albeit not very complex or intellectually sophisticated ones, was one which thought it could overthrow everything that previously had been considered essential to social formation.

One should also recall the crisis that the most well-educated people in the ancient world, the Athenians, were thrown into when sophists and orators became the new-fangled educators of ambitious young men aspiring to hold political power. The claim of the sophists was that they could teach the unjust argument to appear the just one, and the purpose of it was to school people into swaying crowds with the power of words. From different directions, Plato and Aristophanes attacked this emergent social practice—and in their attack, each one provided a diagnosis in which the practice of the other was seen as culpable in its development. And this remains the case today – both our philosophers and entertainers have contributed to the ideocratic nightmare which distorts our capacity to distinguish between socially constructive and socially destructive practices. Yes, the widespread acceptance that values are “socially constructed” occurs at a time when social destruction is far more assured than any construction that will endure in the future.

Words enchant; and while Max Weber rightly identified the development of the modern world with the disenchantment of reality, he should have added that it was no so much the ascendence and triumph of mechanical ideas which we deploy to rule nature, it was also the substitution of one kind of enchantment for another. That enchantment was manifest when, not altogether unlike what occurred in Athens, a new political elite based upon its rhetorical power was formed. I am not among that small group who speak as if we could go back to premodern feudal political forms as a means to escape the pathologies that our modern ones create. But that our modern political formations have created pathologies which play out in the triumph of abstract appeals and norms being used to direct our ways of life is a most serious problem. And that problem intensified with the mass education that took place in the 1960s and after, as the youth of the West, armed with a sweeping vocabulary of abstractions and a little learning, insisted on its knowing how to rid the world of its problems. All we had to do was follow it, and join in its social and cultural revolution. That there were serious problems is undeniable—if two world wars had not taught anyone that, then nothing would.

The issue was not that there were not serious problems—societies are always poised between survival and extinction, whether (as is our case) from their own internal deficiencies of the spirit, or to external enemies, wanting to expand their resources. It was whether those providing the diagnosis and the solutions to those problems had any credibility outside their own self-assurance and ambition. Unlike their Chinese counterparts, they did not go into the countryside to work amongst the farmers; but like their Chinese counterparts they screamed and shouted and denounced whoever they thought deserved it—and perhaps some of their targets really did deserve a good yelling at. But discrimination was not their strongest point—they were young, and did not really know much. Also, unlike their Chinese counterparts, they had been born into a land of economic plenty; but still there was plenty more to be had than a future job, and material resources to live in comfort. Added to latching on to the idea that pretty well all human desires may be satiated without bad consequences—Dante makes a pretty fair first of cataloguing what a large array of desires may make our personal and collective lives hellish.

It had been Nietzsche that called for “philosophers of the future” and “higher men” to lay out the new table of value in which we could dispense with any after-world and remain true to the earth and its eternal return. It was a really dumb, mechanistically-derived metaphysical idea that quite independently took the fancy of the radical precursor of one of the most brutal forms of modern political organization (Leninism), viz., Louis-Auguste Blanqui. But it was also an idea that served the purposes of infinitizing the self—whilst unintentionally infantilizing it at the same time (Freud was not wrong to see insatiable desire, even if not so Mummy-focussed as he thought, as an infantile condition). Which was why those with so little life experience were so sure they knew which values the human race needed to learn to be as smart as them and as happy as they thought they could be. Nietzsche also knew that shame is the inevitable accompaniment of valuation—it is the necessary means of value-enshrining and protection. He hoped his progeny would go around shaming the crippled in mind and body to kill themselves by adopting the myth of eternal return. As deranged and silly as I think his reasoning is about how the myth of the eternal return might be used (he thought millions might top themselves, and his buddies of the future would need to steel themselves to preside over such cruelty), I am sympathetic to anyone contemplating suicide who is forced to sit in a class of Thus Spake Zarathustra and write an essay on how tremendous it is.

The generation did pick up on the politicization of shame, and really got into the spirit of shaming anyone that did not think like them. But in order to occupy the moral high-ground, which they claimed as their right and duty, and what they thought distinguished them from all those other fascists who had also followed Nietzsche, and, anti-Semitism aside, had generally been more true to his teaching by dividing the world into the sub-human (who they did not like) and superhuman (themselves), they had to deal with the shame they felt at the actions of their forefathers. Of course, they were the direct economic beneficiaries of their forefathers’ ill-gotten gains; and while they were happy to share the future spoils of opportunity and office with the various oppressed groups they spoke on behalf of, they had been and would remain first in line to take advantage of the benefits opened to them by those same spoils. The day the same groups, who preach recompense, give away all they own and become like St. Francis, I will stop accusing them of being driven by self-interest. The shaming of ancestors also took on the form of guilt, which, to be sure I think for some, possibly many, was sincere. But whether sincere or simply stuff one said as part of the new value code of access into the emergent power elite which was being hatched within the student movement: the student revolution had replaced the failed proletariat one because the workers’ revolutionary potential had been bought off—such self-serving nonsense to legitimate political power was right up there with the divine right of kings, or Robespierre and Lenin’s justification for why they in particular had the right to hold the power they exercised. Emancipation and guilt became the twin add-ons to the liberal program of freedom and equality.

Pretty well everywhere we look in the West we witness a generation bombarded with guilt—the guilt of slavery and the Indians and the bomb in the USA; and on top of that in the US and Australia, which had its colonial past to deal with, was the Vietnam War; and, to make it even worse, the draft. The guilt seemed to be the one unifying force that crossed the diverse national histories and geographies. In Great Britain it was the guilt of empire; in France, the guilt about parents who were collaborators; in Germany, Nazi parents—and so on and so forth. I don’t doubt the importance of academic radicalisation that had been fostered by Soviet fronts and stooges, but what began as a trickle became a river with the US stumbling into the Vietnam War as those educated youth who were not radicalised by their teachers were radicalising each other.

The fire of generational antagonism may have had a different trigger to what was going on in China, but the antagonism was similar. At the time, the chaos was far more contained because Western institutions were far sturdier—even if they would not remain so for long. But the Achilles heel, exactly as in the Russian revolution, were the universities—modern societies need to train those who will not only do the professional tasks, such as engineering, administrating and making, interpreting and judging the law, but those who will also educate their youth, i.e., teachers at all levels across all fields. Thus, unsurprisingly, in a student revolution, it was the universities that were the first occupied terrain in the political contestation that was the West’s cultural revolution—and the war was lost early on with the concession that students should decide what was pedagogically relevant, which is why someone can now be doing a doctorate on an ethnographic study of his masturbation over Japanese boy comic porn. Whatever areas remained of devotion to scholarship and independent mindedness were easily killed off by the most ambitious of those in the system willing to join forces with the state to ensure complete control over the values and narratives, the teaching and research that would come out of the universities, thereby turning them into the sites of cultural and social control they are today.

If the surface of this cultural revolution in its initial phases seemed less explosive than in China, that was because it did not explode all at once; but apart from the odd riot or tragedy such as Kent State, it met with little resistance, evident also in the fact that there were jobs aplenty, especially in the idea-making areas of universities, media etc., for people who spouted ideas about needing to tear down the world and rebuild it anew on the basis of their superior moral understanding and character. That then developed into the situation it is today—if one does not share in the latest consensus formed around the narrative of the complete emancipation of appetitive desire, and hence the elite-adopted choice of priorities, tactics and strategies, down to the right words and thoughts, then one will not be recruited into any of the professions where the ideas-brokers have taken hold; and that now includes government agencies and public service positions. Further, in so far as the narratives of elite recruitment are based around identifying the shameful wrongs and crimes of anyone who may be shamed and denounced, the incentive for any rising bright star in the academic firmament is to discover some new threat to total emancipation and total equity (that does not threaten the corporate globalists who provide funding and platforms of endorsement to enable the cultural revolution to go fully global). The fact that it involves abstract verbal contortions, which make reading papers on quantum physics or high-level math proofs seem mere child’s play by comparison, only makes the whole show a laughing stock to anyone who bothers to follow its inner mechanics.

But satire and exposure to the lunacy of the ideas being forged, circulated, and protected in what was once an institution intended to provide higher learning make no difference to anything—just ask James Lindsay, Helen Pluckrose and Peter Boghossian. The issue remains that the way to best advance one’s recruitment chance and career rise is to discover something else that other members of a designated (or even better, some yet to be designated) oppressed groups find offensive and oppressive—invariably the ones feeling most oppressed and offended are faculty at elite universities whose entire economic and career security rests upon them finding new sources of moral outrage.

When Michel Foucault was making a reputation for himself by drawing attention to how professionals, such as clinicians and social workers actively create the pathological objects which consolidate and enhance their social prestige and power, he was encouraging his readers to take a stand against the increasing asphyxiation of freedom that was being conducted by the professions of social “normalization.” But then those same professions adopted Foucault as part of their own pedagogy of social control. This was drawn to my attention some thirty years ago when some social workers drew a smile from me by asking me to conduct a Foucault reading group. It was around the same time that Foucault, a sworn enemy of the family, became the go-to philosopher for budding family therapists.

The target of who must be sacrificed in the endless striving for emancipation keeps shifting, so that yesterday’s heroes and heroines are now today’s greatest obstacle to total emancipation—the once lauded celebrity feminist Germaine Greer and progressive K.K. Rowling are now despicable transphobes. But one thing is sure, the immediate incentives—status, office, employment opportunity, whether it be the public or now the private sector, which keep this cultural revolution going, face no impediments. The adults long ago left the building. I do not fantasize about the brilliance of the politicians of half a century ago, but it would be hard to find anyone of that era who would not defeat one of the very incarnations of what now stands for moral, and political progress, AOC (I know it is unfair to pick on her because there is quite a crowd to choose from) in some basic general knowledge test.


I write much of this a short time after reading the CNN headline story reporting that the son of Guy Reffitt, the first US Capitol riot defendant to go to trial, rather than take a plea agreement, said his father “absolutely” deserves the 87-month prison sentence that was handed down. A couple of days later, I read that a former President’s house had been raided by the FBI. Andrew Breitbart, rephrasing Gramsci used to say, politics is downstream from culture. And the cultural revolution has now completely instantiated itself in the politics of every Western country. This is where the cultural revolution has taken us—and it is nowhere near stopping.

The authority and recruitment strategy for those who lead it, not only politically but corporately and pedagogically, rests upon its smashing the traditions of the nation—in the USA, this means identifying the year of the nation’s founding as 1619, not 1776, as well as protesting against rather than celebrating the 4th of July; it means ending citizenship through opening its southern borders, and replacing the value of character and personal achievement with racial, ethnic, or sexual “identity,” and a set of norms which the current elite holds to be the requisite beliefs that may be held by members who can become part of the “leadership team.” It is an elite which claims to support democratic institutions, but now finds itself in complete opposition to those who object to how they have attained power and how they exercise it. They embody one side of precisely the biggest danger that the federalist authors sought to eliminate—they preside over a nation of two factions. Which is why censorship is increasingly expanding and the acrimony toward those who dissent on any major consensus is so intense—dissenters are to be hunted out, denounced, sacked, etc. Talk of a civil war, which is presently a war of ideas, and occasional mob riots, does not seem far-fetched, as the elite have conducted a televised (show) trial of what it calls insurrectionaries, whilst it also, thanks to its corporatist wing, censors its critics from using the technological forums of expression which are today’s equivalent of the public square.

In 2020, the same elite cheered on Antifa (mostly white students, punily shaking their fists), off the grid alternatives and members of the black underclass wanting to get some free stuff as they burned and razed businesses in the name of justice. Surrounded by enemies, as if a hostage king, the President was publicly told by all and sundry that it would be criminal to bring in the national guard, and that it was mostly peaceful protesting. When what was a genuinely peaceful protest got out of hand, with no small aid from Antifa and federal plants, policemen ushering in protestors through the rear door, whilst others outside violently targeted peaceful protestors, as the more brazen and destructive were largely allowed to do their work, it has ushered in the kind of charges, trials and prison conditions, including solitary confinement, that indicates political protest is OK, if it is protest against anyone who publicly opposes the anti-democratic direction of what used to be considered the world’s preeminent democracy.

Like so much else this elite does, such memories will disappear without a trace in the media fog which now primarily exists to enable a group to run its world the way it wants, irrespective of about half of the people of the Western democracies, and irrespective of the fact that this elite has not made the world safer, the people freer or more independently minded, nor more unified. There are many people, like me, who observe this—we are not hostile to people of other nations, nor parochial, nor are we hostile to genuine migrants or people with other cultural backgrounds, nor do we care about people’s sexual taste as conducted in private. If there is to be greater consciousness of other people and greater cooperation, it must, though, come from genuine solidarity and common pursuits and enterprises, not from a small group telling us how to fall in line with their ambition and half-baked ideological certainties.

People who find their way to each other, who fall in love, who create friendships, who feel committed to building a community with a future worth living in together are not those who are energized by the excitement of razing buildings to the ground, of yelling and screaming at people they disagree with, of conniving to destroy people’s livelihoods, of publicly humiliating and shaming them because they said something they find offensive, but which may be either a piece of foolishness or a serious point worth discussing—only a more dialogical society can distinguish between this. But the drag-queens (or were strippers also waltzing around libraries reading children’s stories I would say the same about them) reading to kids in libraries may be creating a certain kind of diversity, but for all its “naughty”/ transgressive theatrics, it is not one in which there is the slightest consideration of parents who want their children to move through the various stages of life with loving parental guidance (which, to be sure, involves hard work and not to be taken for granted, and in various environments not even that), and not have strangers prescribe where sex fits into their lives, and how it fits in the larger scale of things. But that would mean realizing that sexual satiation is not the highest aim of life; or that defining someone primarily by their sexual desires may be a terrible way to create social solidarity and unity. But these people who question everything never question themselves—and now that they dominate the institutions of learning, they never need to. If this elite were creating a genuine open society, one with more open heart, minds and wholesome souls, instead of the infantile, hysterical, anxious and angry world we witness, then there would be no need to enforce inclusion and diversity (words that are now as vacuous as they are weaponized); nor would they be so scared about people disagreeing with them.

Meanwhile, the dragon that has arisen, does what any rival power with any sense would do: it watches and patiently waits for the right opportunity. The dragon requires that its elite are smart and extremely well educated—to be sure, in a way that does not kick against Marxism-Leninism, though the first part of that hybrid is used like the Santa Claus myth and persists as long as real economic development takes place. The price paid for stability is to maintain loyalty to its revolutionary past that is far more recent and far more saturated in blood than that of the United States, or any of the other decaying Western powers. Its children are required to be obedient, to respect their elders, to study hard, to be patient, and not to fall into the cultural habits of Western degenerates—it seems like only yesterday when the CCP wanted its next generation to learn from the West. Those days are pretty well gone.

In the US, children are taught that their founders are morally beneath them and their teachers. They are people who have barely lived, who have risked nothing, for whom cliches and slogans are thought, for whom humility and generosity are as remote from who they are as their character is from their identity. It is far from obvious to me that the word fanaticism can be used to describe the members of the CCP. It is equally obvious that is exactly the word to describe what the educated youth of the West are trained in. It cannot be stopped as long as it has the number of adherents it does in the institutions it does. But it must destroy the institutions it has inhabited—its own ruin is its destiny. Drag-queens in libraries might be seen by the political classes as pretty low on the scale of the West’s problems, but they are a symptom of which priorities matter in a society that has no sense at all of its own self-destruction. While China has many problems, at least it won’t allow its next generation to advance itself by tearing into its own social entrails, and its own genitalia.

Wayne Cristaudo is a philosopher, author, and educator, who has published over a dozen books. He also doubles up as a singer songwriter. His latest album can be found here.

Featured: “Seven Deadly Sins,” by Otto Dox; painted in 1933.

Only Traitors Don’t Hate Putin… Right?

Some months ago, I wrote an essay on the Russia-Ukraine war, “The Russia-Ukraine Conflict and the Turmoil of Our Times,” where I laid out why I could not accept the explanation of that event as being due to ‘mad bad Vlad, and his imperialist globalist aspirations. I also indicated that I took no joy in reaching my position. This remains the case. Not only was my interpretation of the war one more thing that placed me in the camp of what the ideas-brokers and majority of “well-educated” people in the West now label as conspiracy theorists, but, in this case, I was also a Putin stooge. So, my inability to accept the “truth” that so many around me knew without any doubt to be the case about the motives, intentions, historical background and moral character of President Vladimir Putin means that I really am an idiot. I have certainly made the case here in the Postil that I see the Western elite as driven by imbecilic ideas, but it is possible that all the political philosophy and history I have read have culminated in me sniveling and driveling at my desk, while whistling “How sweet to be an idiot.”

Idiot and stooge though I might be, as I made clear in that essay, my position is not based on moral imperatives, which are meaningless to billions around the globe, but on fundamental tenets of International Politics and Comparative Politics. In the case of the former, one fundamental tenet requires that one should heed the “interests” of the respective parties involved in any geopolitical/ diplomatic dispute—and by “interest” I primarily mean the assumptions and priorities that guide the behaviour of disputants. In the case of Comparative Politics (a discipline that commences with Aristotle), one must begin by identifying the different historical and cultural conditions which inform the institutional possibilities and circumstances (and hence types of crises) of a polity and its people.

In a subsequent piece, I also emphasized that narratives and points of view invariably depend upon what I call “prime facts and factors.” Mostly, though not always, prime facts are “assumptions”—the kind of things “everybody knows.” Since Socrates, philosophers have recognized the need to be wary of what everybody “knows”—and though I think Plato’s Socrates might have been more charitable to instinctive knowledge, which is the basis for a healthy kind of commonsense, when it comes to opinions that derive from information that has invariably been modulated to suit the interests, perspectives, and priorities of the narrators, we are well advised to adopt the kind of skepticism we associate with Socrates.

Mr. Kerr’s essay, “The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend,” unfortunately is not one that shows much care for the fundamentals of International Politics, Comparative Politics, or Socratic skepticism. It is driven by moral outrage, based upon information that he holds to be not only accurate about but also particularly germane to the war. Those parts of the essay I do agree with—e.g., about the role of the Soviets in the Ukraine—I don’t see as particularly relevant to the diplomatic crisis that led to the current war.

I will return again to the problem of taking morality as an adequate guide to understanding and dealing with international conflicts, but here I shall just make the general point that while there are plenty of people (today possibly the majority who teach IP or IR in the West) who do normative International Politics/Relations, the problem with that approach is that it distorts our understanding of international conflict, by overly simplifying, or even dispensing with, the need to identify the contingent causes (because it is _____________. Fill in any name you like, for any conflict you like). But one has only to observe US foreign policy since the end of the Second World War to see that moral consistency becomes impossible in International Relations because of the strategic necessity of building alliances. Which is to say, that normative driven claims in IR quickly become disclosed as haphazard, and hypocritical—which is how Russia, China, and many other nations today see the US.

In my previous essay on the war, I also made it clear that my conclusions came from a number of sources: I found that the mainstream media either told outright lies or distorted the event by omitting information that was intrinsic to Russia’s invasion. The mainstream media were often critical of “neocons” on the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, but have often provided a wall of silence, and tacit or even outright support when it comes to US arming and training rebels in regimes deemed to be dangerous to US interests, and stirring up chaos in regions harmful to their interests. The media have been completely complicit through their silence on, or “framing of, such events as the US’s training and support for Chechen rebels in their war against Russia in the 1990s, the opposition to Gadhafi, and, the Free Syrian Army, whose factions included Jabhat al-Nusra (Al Qaeda’s franchise in Syria), against President Sadat.

The present neocon “line” on Russia, like that of the mainstream media, is built upon political norms that are fair enough in the West (after we allow for all the mud and blood of conquest, wars, enslavement, etc. that are the typical conditions and contingencies enabling nation founding), but which defy the possibilities that were open to any Russian hegemonic aspirants in the breakup of the Soviet Union. The US-West track record in Afghanistan and Iraq leaves them with no credibility—the Taliban are back, and Iraq is a Shia state.

Yet the media which was once at least often prepared to denounce neocons and Bushites, sees no problem with supporting an all-out proxy war and being utterly uncritical of a reckless regime that has taken the country from a civil war of its own making (albeit with US help), calling for ever more military support and Western involvement against Russia. If Bushite neocons led the charge in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was Obama-ite liberal imperialists, whose enthusiasm for the Arab Spring has helped create the chaos in Libya and Syria. Both were driven by the same delusion about democratic regimes taking off in the region and making all these Arab states one big happy McDonalds-munching family. So now it is the scions of neocon and liberal imperialism who write about how Putin’s demise would liberate Ukraine, Russia, and wherever else they can think of as bearing any connection to their dreams of US hegemony. More generally, and just like the wise guys advising whichever ‘commander in chief’ was at the helm of the latest debacle of creating a liberal democratic global order, the mainstream media seem to have no interest in understanding, or being concerned with, the historical and cultural contingencies relevant for making sense of anyone’s—including Putin’s—rise to power in a far off land, or the support-base of regimes they do not like.

I do not think these points irrelevant when I see the same groups of people so swift to weigh in on the conflict in the Ukraine.

While I think Regan had good grounds to plot the demise of the Soviet Union, as well as the good fortune to do it, the USSR of yesterday is not the Russia of today—and the widely held belief that Russia today has the same imperial aspirations as the USSR is at best a conjecture which I do not share—at worst it is a fabulation to shore up a political elite aspiring for global domination by trying to equip and maintain an international military machine on standing reserve.

Were the Western elite a more intellectually formidable and politically astute group that had brought greater social concord and prosperity to the people of its nations, then it would not need to bully and silence its critics, and it certainly would not fear that Russian misinformation would fracture the good society it had contributed to. But the West is a mess and Western elite have contributed significantly to this mess. They do not deserve their status nor positions, for the institutions of ideas-making and circulation from higher education to the media, to the political parties, and the heads and managers and HR officers of corporations who dictate the norms that we must obey—are as spiritually broken as they are intellectually vapid.

Forgive me this lengthy setting up of my critique of Mr. Kerr’s essay, but with any event and any author there is often a lot of background that is tacitly assumed; and hence it is a good idea to bring some of the background assumptions to light. Ultimately Mr. Kerr’s argument is that of the mainstream and the neocons—and it can be summed up as the “it’s Putin, stupid” argument; plus, anyone who does not agree with this is not only stupid, but a Putin stooge.

Given the tone of his essay—don’t get me wrong, I enjoy satire and polemic as much as I enjoy watching Tyson Fury; the issue is whether the punches land—Mr. Kerr indicates that he is completely committed to his view of things. So, I do not write this essay in the hope that Mr. Kerr will change his mind—and if I seem acerbic, let me say that I have close friends who think like him. I would be happy if ever we met to discuss this further over a beer or wine, or, dare I say, vodka. But unlike Mr. Kerr, as much as I think the mainstream Western media and elite a pitiful shamble leading us into the end of a civilization and all the catastrophe that that entails, my exasperation is at their pride and inability to think with any clarity about serious things in any other than a simplistic self-serving manner.

In any case, and in response to Mr. Kerr’s accusation that if one is not for Zelensky one is a stooge/ traitor/ moral reprobate, let me state that I have no stake in what I think about this war—I am trying to make sense of what is going on and what it means. I write for those wanting to understand a little better what is going on, and who, like me, find the dominant “line” unconvincing. I would like to think that I bring to the matter a lifetime of studying Politics and Philosophy and teaching European Intellectual History and Political Science—but I might be rubbish at all that stuff; and even if I am not always rubbish, I might be way wrong on this one. Mr. Kerr, though, does not consider that he might have got things wrong; and for him it is all very black and white.

In the first instance, I find the very pitch of the problem, as presented by Mr. Kerr, problematic—he is writing his essay against “those who oppose Western liberal democracy, or see it as no longer working, [and who] tend to see either Russia (or the former Soviet Union) and/or Putin in a soterial sense.” Anyone who has read my essays will know that I do not “oppose” Western liberal democracy—I mourn its demise, and write in search of like-minded opponents of those who want to restore the value of politics as brokering between antagonistic interests, which can only be achieved if one accepts that the viability of liberal democratic institutions requires respecting the procedures that hold a civic culture together. Respect for the political culture matter more than the results; which is to say that the institutions can only function, if the political culture is healthy.

The extent of the sickness of the political culture of the West was made evident to me the day after the election result in 2016 in the US was announced, when mass demonstrations took place, followed by calls by public figures—some journalists, and entertainers (Johnny Depp, Madonna)—for Mr. Trump’s assassination. These demonstrations and calls, along with the behaviour of journalists and academics, were all symptomatic of a broken political culture. Pretending this was of little consequence is simply to hide one’s head in the sand. I say this because while Mr. Kerr and I agree about the ill health of the political culture of the West, I don’t think his analysis takes this seriously enough: had he done so he might have considered why this is particularly relevant to the kind of military interventions that the West might engage in and what they might mean. So, yes, I confess—I belong to the camp that sees Western liberal democracy as “no longer working.”

But I fail to see why thinking this would make me or anybody else see Putin as a “saviour.” I do not need to argue on behalf of Mr. Dugin, though I am very grateful that the Postil sees fit to present his position. It is the position of someone with a set of political commitments and priorities that inevitably has little appeal to most people in the West, including me. But Mr. Dugin is writing from another set of concerns and for another constituency.

It is very important when doing International Relations to understand the objectives, priorities and values of a rival or enemy. I think Russia may have always been a potential rival with the European powers; at least in certain regions; and, of course, the Poles and the Baltic states have legitimate historical grievances with Russia, which makes sense for them to fashion stronger ties with the West. But Russia did not have to be our enemy: through various decisions and legislation—including the Magnitsky Act of 2012 and the support for the Ukraine coup in 2014—the West has made it so. The idea that Mr. Dugin is the real brains behind Putin is another piece of fiction that seems to have been enthusiastically embraced by those who have little interest with the day-to-day problems that face every (including the Russian) president. His daily problems are not mine; nor are they the problems of anyone in the West. So, unlike Mr. Kerr, I have no idea who he is talking about when he speaks of those opposing the interpretation that “it’s Putin, stupid” argument and those critical of the West’s role in this war seeing Putin as a saviour.

Mr. Kerr also writes that:

One of the surprising things about this conflict is that Putin, for it is by all accounts more Putin’s conflict than Russia’s, has found an odd group of diametrically opposed groups, largely amongst the extreme wings of the Western political spectrum: the far right (anti-Americanism in Europe), and the far left (anti-capitalists). Both support him and his conflict, legitimately enough, in what they see as their own best interest, and to serve their own goals.

Apart from my dissatisfaction with the blithe aside “for it is by all accounts more Putin’s conflict rather than Russia’s” (No—the accounts that say this are far from “all;” but when such a wild—dare I say stupid—opinion is cited as a fact that everybody knows, I find myself exasperated by the “build” of the “argument”)—the word “extreme” is a term thrown about a lot today. It suggests a middle/moderate centre that I fail to see now existing in the West: is thinking the overturning of Roe vs. Wade an “extreme” or moderate decision? Is speaking out against BLM “extreme,” or not going along with high target carbon reduction schemes, opposing vaccine mandates, or questioning whether a new kind of vaccine might not yet be ready for market because all the usual protocols of testing have been waived—“extreme”? This is not a polemical point; it is simply to acknowledge that there is no centre anymore—and that the use of the word “extreme” is just one more rhetorical device to denigrate people with whom one disagrees.

For my part, I do not identity as right or left; for the main political problems of modern liberal democracies requires the balancing of interests in the light of market and state powers, a task that is impossible if one is ideologically beholden. Though the West is sinking precisely because ideology has driven out the kind of dispassionate and disinterested investigations that might better inform policy and legislation, and have turned politics into a contestation over whose values may be used to enforce what people think, say and do. The very terms left and right tend to be useless, if one genuinely wants to clarify the disputations of our time. George Galloway and Russel Brand, to take just two, were once easy to identify as leftists; but now they find common cause with a large audience that are politically populist and socially somewhat (though mostly only somewhat—they believe in freedom of speech) conservative, but not extremist; unless being an extremist is thinking 1776 a historical moment signifying a political promise to be venerated, and 1619 an ideological source of division and social break up.

What tends to unite a very disparate group of people who do not see this war as “Putin’s war” is not their extremism, but their criticism of corporate/statist/globalism, and the way in which this war has yet again been used to galvanize narrative uniformity, to isolate and punish those who do not agree with the official line—Mr. Kerr does not seem to mind because it is the same line as that of Mr. Kerr’s and he is deeply disappointed that the Postil publishes authors who see things differently. Today an extremist is someone who opposes legislation which limits freedom of information and increases censorship (the justification offered by those doing the censoring is that they are protecting the population from dangerous misinformation), and one who objects to key decisions—such as engaging in a proxy war—being introduced without such decisions becoming a matter to be resolved through the democratic process: in Australia both political parties, when in government, have sent tax payers money to help this “fight for freedom.”

As with so many other topics, the media and academia have become megaphones of state policy that supports a “liberal”/ progressive international order. That order offers plenty of work for those who scout out those who deviate from the program. For them it is obvious that only extremists, moral pariahs and conspiracy theorists would be so ignorant and/or dangerous that they would dare disagree with the dictate of the hours: whether it be how to defeat the climate catastrophe, prevent racism, or hatred towards gays and trans people, or drag queens reading to kids in libraries, or prevent a virus that could wipe out the entire world’s population, or send weapons to Ukrainians wanting to defend themselves against Russian troops who have entered the country to defend a substantial portion of the country who are ethnically, historically, economically allied with Russia, and who never supported the coup against a President who was not prepared to throw in the country’s lot with Europe at the expense of those connections. But, heck, for the progressive, these issues are pretty much all the same—they are one more brick in a totalitarian “liberal”-globalist-international-liberal-progressive order, led by a global technocratic corporatist elite. This order, like the various crises that are enabling it, is predicated upon the elimination of all political dissent; which is, to say, the elimination of freedom speech.

I do not think Mr. Kerr should not have his say. But I am not convinced by the arguments and opinions which ebb and flow out of each other, as if he is the voice of reason, and anyone else is an extremist or idiot. I will leave aside the lengthy historical account that Mr. Kerr goes into—a fair portion of which explains why non-first Russian language Ukrainians hate Russians—something I do think is largely ignored in Mr. Putin’s speeches—and hence why so many in the West of Ukraine supported the Maidan. I said in my earlier essay, if I were part of that ethnic group, I would have probably supported the coup and regarded Stepan Bandera as a hero, maybe even have joined the Azov Battalion—but Mr. Kerr does not discuss the importance of Bandera, or the Azov Battalion and other ethnic militia and their significance in fueling the civil war that began in 2014, with any seriousness. He writes:

One of Putin’s primary casus belli is the alleged treatment (“genocide”) of Russians and slavs by the (Western) Ukrainians, slandered with the stock trope “nazi”. While the Ukraine’s treatment of ethnic minorities may not be perfect, its record is certainly no worse than Russia’s (and which abolished the representative body, the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar People in 2014 and outlawed it in 2016 allegedly due to “the use of propaganda of aggression and hatred towards Russia, inciting ethnic nationalism and extremism in society.”

These sentences are a good example of why I think analysing international conflicts in purely moral terms quickly degenerates into partisanship where one downplays misdemeanours that belong to one’s party as one concentrates on those of the opponent. The stock trope of the Nazis is very pertinent when one looks at the history and even insignia of the anti-Russian Ukrainian ethnic ultra-nationalist groups. But then again my argument, and indeed most of those I listen to and read, are not making an argument about the moral purity of the Russian people, or nation, or President—but about why Russia has invaded Ukraine. To separate Russia’s invasion from the persecution, and large scale killing of ethnic Russian Ukrainians is as disingenuous as describing this as not being “perfect” “treatment” by the Ukrainian government. How many ethnically dead Russian-first-language-Ukrainians would it take for Mr. Kerr to register their existence on his moral radar?

As for Russia’s treatment of its minorities, why or what does that have to do with the issue of this war? This, though, is yet another reason for not trying to use merely moral means for mediating between disputes. The issue is that there has been a civil war, with one side having strong ties to Russia, in a region of major strategic interest to Russia; and Russia has acted in a way that pretty well any state in similar circumstances would have acted. It has never occurred to me that the USA was not acting in its own strategic interests when it demanded that the USSR desist from deploying missiles on Cuban soil. Trying to determine who had the moral right in the Cuban crisis does not strike me as very helpful: Immanuel Kant, Peter Singer, Derek Parfit, Michel Foucault, or whichever other moral philosopher you may want to call upon might or might not agree with what Russia has done—but as they don’t agree with each other on anything, I don’t think they are going to be of much help here. But why the US responded as it did, differs little from why Russia has responded as it has to NATO training Ukrainian soldiers and fanning the flames of regional instability to secure its own strategic interests.

As for the plight of the Russian ethnic Ukrainians to whom Mr. Kerr gives such short shrift, he seems to imply that it is their own fault anyway for being there, or at least the fault of their forefathers. He correctly points out that Stalin had engaged in repopulation. But so what? The people living there now have interests, and those interests include speaking in their own tongue, which is to say having schools and media that express their identity and concerns, and resisting people who are threatening their way of life as well as their very life. Saying this does not morally “justify” Russia’s invasion—very little human beings do can be traced back to moral origins. And, to repeat, pitching an argument about “peoples” and “nations” as if one were engaging in a moral debate simply does not get one very far.

Of course, people get very heated over moral concerns; yet the problem is not the heat, but how to settle the dispute. And when it comes to international disputes, that is the question. At no point has NATO seriously tried to settle the dispute—it, like the Ukrainian government, has treated the Minsk Accords with little more than disdain. Yet, like Mr. Kerr, the US government and the mainstream media simply ignore one set of interests and drapes another set of interests in moral costumes as the recognizable good guys.

Also noteworthy is that Mr. Kerr simply ignores the extent of corruption in Ukrainian politics—again, I said enough about this in my earlier essay, but the idea that Ukraine was more authentically liberal democratic than Russia is simply not a serious claim. But this is what happens when people start and end with moral conviction rather than curiosity and acknowledgement of ignorance and a willingness to change their minds.

In Mr. Kerr’s mind one can either go and live in Russia or China, or shut up. Again, I have not heard any critic of NATO’s involvement in this war say that they find Russia or China to be without their own problems. Criticizing the West’s involvement in this war, emphasizing that this is a regional conflict, and that the creation of a proxy war to bring about regime change—is not to be a traitor to the West. It is to express a point of view—which is to say, it is exactly the kind of political engagement that Mr. Kerr says is what the West can deliver, and those who seek change should be involved in. That change, though, can only occur for the better if people can speak freely, even when mistaken, and if they can learn from each other and their mistakes.

That freedom of speech is imperilled in the West has nothing to do with how much censorship exists in Russia or China. Mr. Kerr recognizes the free-speech problems in the West in passing only, yet ignores the extent of its effects in the curricula, appointments and sackings not only in universities, schools, the media, but also in corporations.

As for the press, Mr. Kerr writes “our press is still free, the fact that some choose to self-censure is not proof to the contrary”—apart from its role in a stream of lies about Mr. Trump and his support base (all white supremacists, racists and extremists), led by the biggest whopper that Mr. Trump’s election was due to Russian electoral interference, or that he was a Russian operative or stooge (like all liars the story changed every time a fact was revealed), and the fact that an elected president was banned from using social media platforms which was a historical moment that occurred with nothing but cheers and celebration by the press—the same press that has played a major role in shutting down free speech on pretty well any political position its owners and journalists don’t agree with.

As for Mr. Kerr’s “gee-up speech”—stop whining and roll up your sleeves and get with the program—the problem is that in the West the political process only works if the electorate fits the mould of the ruling elite. While the elite used to be politically divided on all sorts of things, now the room for disagreement is increasingly negligible, because the problems all seem to be of such a catastrophic nature that disagreement risks threatening the survival of the entire planet/species. This was the real lesson of the Trump years—what he was or who he was and what he did were only the issue to the extent that he represented a significant portion of the American population that was to be dismissed as “deplorable,” and to whom no concession was to be made. Irrespective of the facts surrounding the last election being a “steal,” the fact that almost half of the electorate believed it to be so really matters—and to repeat blathering on about the West and its virtues and the freedom fighters of Ukraine is simply displaying a preference for air rather than for understanding reality.

The media has long since lost any credibility for people like me—which is about half of the Western world. So why would we accept their line on this war (and indeed the line of others who just echo and supplement their line, but claim to be more independent)? In my previous essay, I mentioned some of the lies luridly reported about Putin’s army of assassins poisoning anyone who has a bad word to say about him. It is this same media that now states unequivocally that “There was no promise made by James Baker to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 limiting eastward expansion of NATO.” Well, I recall the claim about NATO very differently, and long before this war. It was a point regularly bought up by Stephen Cohen, who got along swimmingly well with CNN (after all, he was pretty left on the USSR, an admirer of Bukharin, a guy I think was just another know-all communist butcher) until he started objecting to what they were saying about the Maidan back in 2014, and then the nonsense of 2016.

So, unlike Mr. Kerr, I think that the US involvement in the Maidan, the rebooting of the Cold War by the media, and domestic and international security agencies and military officials in the US during Trump’s presidency, and the present war (notably emboldening the Ukrainian government to ignore the Minsk agreements, as well as intensifying the persecution of Russian first language Ukrainians)—are all of a piece.

I do agree with Mr. Kerr that China is the real great power rival, but everything I see about how the West is conducting itself leads me to believe—it is “good night, Irene.” I don’t want to think that. I think we once had something great, but we threw it away. We rewarded and handed over authority to people who thrived on destroying the West’s values and institutions—that it was the kids at university, with half-baked ideas, and know-all teachers who had read a few books, who started the rot (just as they did in Russia more than a century ago). I don’t blame the Chinese for taking advantage of our idiocy. I don’t love the kind of world they will introduce; as an Australian, I see it more likely to be far more directly obvious here than in the US, which will have its own race wars and breakups to deal with. The US will be too “mah fan,” as the Cantonese say, to bother capturing.

But I don’t hate the Chinese for having their own strategic interests. Apart from that, I have some very close Chinese friends. But were the West better and healthier, we might have something to offer them for joining us. But we don’t; and because we are making the kind of world we are making, we are lurching toward war—whether it be a civil war, or world war is less relevant than the fact that the West is pursuing one policy after another that makes it hell-bent on self-destruction, while it enables its enemies.

Thinking that NATO is saving us from this fate, when it is pushing us toward it, is the issue that really separates those that think like Mr. Kerr and those who think like me. I don’t like what I think—I have said this many times. I think what I see, not what I want.

Of course, I don’t want a third world war, though what I want matters nothing. But Mr. Kerr, whether he realizes it or not, is really clamouring for just that. And Mr. Zelensky has made it very clear that if that be the risk, so be it—and given where he sits between the ethnic nationalists who seem to see him as an irrelevant fool, and Russia—this might not even be his own personal worst option.

As for wanting, no one ever gets what they want, even though they may have the satisfaction of eliminating who or what they see as an obstacle to their ends. The French revolutionaries got rid of the power of the crown, and the Mountain freed themselves of the Girondin “traitors;” but they got the Napoleonic wars rather than liberty, equality and fraternity. The Russian intelligentsia got rid of the Tsar, and they got the gulags and food-queues rather than all the abundance of communism.

Those like Mr. Kerr who think that if they rid the world of Putin they will have some geopolitical advantage in staking out the future—seem to think this might even scare China. But if there is to be a war with China, the US will need to find others to fight that one—their kids will be too caught up in trans rallies, gay pride stuff, and burning down buildings in solidarity with BLM—to put on the uniforms to save their precious way of life.

I don’t know who will win the war, nor how far it will go—the fog surrounding it makes me suspicious of the accuracy of most things I read about it. If the West does get rid of Putin, and does get its regime change, I think it will open the door to one of the oligarchical exiles who, I have long suspected, have been pouring money into Western governments to bring about regime change to take over. From what I read, I don’t think the majority of Russians want that. But in any case, what I know for sure is that the West will still be in the same “merde profonde.”

Wayne Cristaudo is a philosopher, author, and educator, who has published over a dozen books.

Featured: “Abacus,” by Pawel Kuczynski; painted in 2011.

Ethics: Philosophers and their Reasons


Three ethicists go into a strip club, with gyrating scantily clad pole-dancers doing all those moves that come straight out of Bada Bing. Sorry, I am joking. It was only two ethicists…

The Kantian, on principle, cannot bring himself to make it through the door—he does not want to view women as merely means and not rational ends. In addition, when he runs through the categorical imperative, he is not convinced that he, a middle-aged portly chap, would like to be out there in his underpants struggling to go up and down the pole. As he pauses to universalize that thought-image of all those other portly comrades falling off poles, he thinks there is no way Kant himself would ever consent to going into the strip club, let alone strip down and climb the pole, even though Kant was skinny.

Once inside, the utilitarian is bent over an iPad, at the bar, trying to collate the relevant variables for the cost-benefits calculation he hopes to make, which include the general pleasure of the exclusively male audience as well as the situation of the pole dancers as wage earners, whether they like or dislike their job, and so on. He wants to interview the girls in their break about the cost/benefits involved, but the club has a strict rule of girls not talking about their work to customers—although, his university ethics committee has approved the survey tucked in his pocket.

The utilitarian also wants to factor in the negative effects on women generally, in this kind of behaviour—though here his calculative compass is a little disorientated, as he is unsure to what extent his female philosophical colleagues are a representative sample of women as such—there are four of them—they are all white (two are atheists, one is a non-religious Jew who is a supporter of BDS, and the other a lesbian Anglican). The female philosophers he knows disagree about pornography, though most are against it, and see the business as unethical. He is not sure whether pole dancing is pornography—and exactly how much it would matter if it were, or if it were more like prostitution and how it would matter if it weren’t.

He also wonders how much pain there might be in it for girlfriends or wives who “discover” their boyfriends/husbands were hanging out in this club, and whether attending the club crossed some moral line that the relationship had established. He starts to think he may need to get his hands on some sociological data about this point. He has decided to build his career upon utilitarianism because he doesn’t like the strict purity of Kantianism and the lack of attention to contingency; and he doesn’t like the elitism of the Aristotelian approach of his colleague, who thinks listening to death metal (which he still occasionally listens to in nostalgic moments), taking recreational drugs (which he is partial to, especially once the death metal is pumped up) and watching shows like Breaking Bad are a waste of one’s talents and communally toxic.

Like the utilitarian, the Aristotelian (who has beefed up Aristotle with some Hegel) finds the Kantian position too unworldly—and dangerous. The most famous Rousseauian, besides Kant, was Robespierre. And, as Hegel had pointed out, the desire to make humanity fit into the principles of virtue Rousseau dreamt up led to heads being treated like cabbages made for the chopping. The Aristotelian finds the whole thing rather sleazy, and the pleasures not really defensible. He, though, recalls Augustine’s and Aquinas’ view of prostitution, while a sin, it should not be outlawed because the city needs a sewer system.


Let’s leave the ethicists wrestling with their problems, their own minds and each other, and ask why does it matter what they think and why would they think it mattered? The most obvious answer is that they think that their opinions about human behaviour are of social importance, and they think that a more rational solution to human decision-making, which impacts upon society at large, is a good thing. Moreover, they think these kinds of problems are reasonable, even if it is not at all obvious what is reasonable about a society in which locations are established for the purpose of scantily clad gyrating women on poles performing for (mainly) men drinking alcohol—though now thanks to some ethical consensus having legal teeth, said men won’t be able to smoke.

There may be some people who run through lines of a carefully considered argument before making a decision about what to do in a difficult situation, such as deciding whether climbing a pole in a seedy bar dressed in underwear and stilettoes is an immoral act. In such cases, the argument itself cannot be divorced from the various elements that have the potential to “trigger” or activate the invariably hidden or “unconscious” powers “making up” the “conscience” of the “inquirer.” Not all elements will trigger all in the same way—there is an inevitable variety of potential weightings that different characters/members of different groups/peoples with their different and innumerable experiences of life bring to the question.

Even, as we suggested above, the way one goes about approaching how to think about “the problem” of to what and to whom one is ultimately loyal is a mystery wrapped in a concatenation of constitutive characteristics of a person, group or people. Character also involves different “filterings”—filtering is the concomitant of consensus, and consensus of some fundamental appeals, is essential to a group’s spirit or character. Different spirits—different filterings, though there is ever a tension in sheer structure of a world-making aspect (recognizing property, providing security and having obligations), which crosses all sorts of different cultures (cultivations of a collective’s preferences, tastes, desires, habits, and potential). And filtering generally involves the interplay of the more stabilizing structural commonalities and diverse cultivations that are as much bound up with diverse contingencies of founding acts and traditions as sheer taste. All of which is to say—it’s complicated. Though the trick with all thinking is to know when to cut through complexity to identify a line or pattern of genuine simplicity, and when to focus upon complexity because the simple is misleading. I confess to thinking that the pole dancers are possibly better at knowing when the complexity is just blather than most philosophers.

We know philosophers love thought experiments, so that they can simplify a complex moral problem—the most famous one in recent decades is the trolley and the fat-man—the brief version: if pushing a fat guy off a bridge will make a trolley veer off the track so that the lives of five people stuck on the track will be spared—but fatty might lose his life: to push, or not to push that is the question? How far we have come since “to be or not be.” Having sat amongst philosophers proudly cogitating over this problem—never bothering to ask who fatso might be (Goering or Churchill?), or who the hapless (or extremely careless) five stuck on the trolley track are (a bunch of serial killers, grannies, university managers, or philosophers?), or what other information would give this silly sketch some resemblance of a genuine moral conundrum—I suspect that a room full of pole dancers would find catering to the desires of their leering sad sack voyeurs to be less an affront to their human dignity than having to listen to such a vacuous discussion.

But there is another issue—the aim of an ethical conclusion is frequently, indeed invariably, to control/transform/improve people through policy and legislation. That is to say it is almost inevitably a political issue; and in the thrust of democratic politics that also generally means a legal issue. Ethics today is invariably “law in waiting.” And there are all sorts of very serious questions to be made about laws that are as deeply ethically conflicted as the discipline of ethics itself—such as what exactly are the boundaries between private vice and public virtue?

The entire ideological conflict between classical liberalism and socialism hangs on this divide. Or, do private virtues always create public virtues? Machiavelli and de Mandeville, in very different ways, raise issues of the sort that should make us hesitate here. Or, what are the cost-benefits to the society of trying to calculate our private vices (presuming there is such a thing) and creating criminal sanctions? Do we just ride rough-shod over these utilitarian considerations because some of us think we have the rational position about the principle, and that the means and the reality, with all its moral quandaries, generated by acting according to the principle, should just be left to another day?

Might it be that the more we use our reason by asking reasonable questions, the more Russian dolls we find. And the more of them we find, the more lost we become through reason. Why should reason either be or lead to good? And if it is good, or always leads to good, is that just a lucky accident, or does that suggest a quasi-classical view of life as literally mind-full? Yet of one thing we can be sure; social problems demand solutions: in a democracy the matter of which ones has to do with their being raised. Which again is a political process.

Of the three positions I took as typifying ethical schools, there are, at least in their origins, somewhat different political connections involved. In the case of the Aristotelian, The Ethics was not conceived as a self-contained work, but as a work examining the kind of conduct required for someone to enter into political life, which was why Aristotle paired it with The Politics. The Politics, though, also took into account forms of political life which were far from healthy; and it considers how to make them more healthy, if not outright good.

Aristotle’s version of the natural supported the moderation (allowing for his historical context) that runs through his work. The idea that our judgment about the ethical should be completely free of any natural influence (i.e., Kant’s position) would, I think, have struck both Plato and Aristotle as absurd, though Aristotle might have seen it as an unfortunate residue coming from Plato’s two worlds. But then again, the Rousseauian idea that freedom consists in having a law which we give ourselves would have repelled Plato as much as Aristotle. And on top of this, both would have scratched their head about why freedom was now the axis of the ethical life. And the accompanying emphasis upon human dignity would have been just as perplexing—especially when it was simply extended to all by virtue of an act which required no action on the part of the person possessing it, viz., that person’s humanity.

The cleavage between classical and modern Enlightenment ethics, not surprisingly, is closely associated with the cleavage between the classical and modern, more specifically the Enlightenment, view of politics. And just as Aristotle is interested in identifying those qualities—the ethics—which need to be exhibited in the person entering into the political sphere of life, the enlightened modern principles of the moral life are also intended to act as the constitutional basis of a legitimate (hence rational) political formation. The reasoning, in Kant, is that the purely reasonable moral principles must be unsullied by any extra-rational condition (motive, desire, feeling etc.) which provide the pure disinterested ground for adjudicating on social harmony.

Rousseau, on the other hand, both emphasizes the natural character of empathy and the need for virtue to detach itself from the forces of selfishness that we are prone to as creatures conditioned by the laws and nature of civilization.

Kant is the more consistent metaphysician, and hence his greater reputation as a philosopher. But this is matched by Rousseau having the greater reputation as a political theorist. His theory of the general will, though, is also both the model and impetus for Kant’s categorical imperative, and the political endgame of the moral imperative. Kant was rigorously consistent in conceding that none could ever know if someone really acted out of a moral principle (the Kantian who didn’t go into the strip club may really have been worried at some deep level about how his partner or other philosophers back at the office would view him, if they found out). But such a concession does nothing to alleviate the common objection to Rousseau: that the general will requires that each of us leave aside our particular or vested interests, which is far easier said than done because most of us are oblivious to exactly what our interest involves.

The fact that academics, including moral philosophers, and students at the most prestigious universities in the Western world think that they know how to achieve the public good, and that we should obey them as they receive their salaries or prepare for lucrative careers is indicative of how much self-serving-ness is behind the idea of social justice and the public good today. Likewise, the Rousseau problem is that the kind of society he helped facilitate—a society in which ideas about the general will abound—has created a slew of people employed publicly and privately to identify, articulate, and implement “the general will”—along with the academics, the bureaucrats, journalists, teachers and politicians, and lawyers, and, perhaps most incredulously, actors and entertainers.

And, sorry to have to break it to you Jean-Jacques, such people cannot but help inject the very self-interest that the principle is designed to eliminate. They invariably design, enforce, and monitor policies, rules, narrative laws, etc., which shore up their entitlement. It’s a perfect circle of elite power formation in which the kind of legitimation that had evolved out of the need to survive and protect the group is replaced by a group whose power is built upon ideas and words. No wonder they wish to stop the spread of mis-information, which happens to be any information that does not receive their imprimatur. This should be obvious; and it is obvious to those who are either not part of that elite, or who wake up from their slumber and look at what a political mess this elite is making.

The Rousseauian/Kantian constitutionalist approach to the political also provides the philosophical grounding and rationale of institutions, such as the European Union, and UN. And the criticisms levelled at these institutions are also but variations of the critique just mentioned. The hiatus between institutional reality as a conglomerate of practices and practitioners and the ideal it is supposed to represent or express is indicative of a dualism that I think is inescapable—when we reference reality to an idea.

Even in instances where there is an acceptance that deontology of the Kantian sort is too stringent, contemporary ethical philosophy invariably devotes itself to mapping out what is rationally right and thus laying down what we ought to do—thus assuming that (a) we don’t really know what is right or wrong unless we receive philosophical guidance; and (b) that the philosopher has the right tool—reason—which he or she or they (pronouns themselves now being considerate philosophically serious matters) can wield well. This is as true today of Aristotelians as it is of utilitarians, though the problem I was alluding to above about utilitarianism lies in the open infinitude of its variables—and the most plausible way of solving the problem was to dissolve utilitarianism into economics. Of course, by dissolving worth into monetary value, utilitarianism risked losing connection with the sentiments which find expression in Aristotelian or Kantian types of ethics—but at least it was able to come up with a cost-benefit calculus that worked. However, while developments in economics were driven by utilitarianism (obvious in the most elementary premise of much modern economics, marginal utility theory), not many utilitarian philosophers would agree that the ethical problems they wrestle with should be left to the marketplace.

Generally, ethicists defer (most do so tacitly) to another branch of philosophy to decide exactly what reason is. But while that shifts one problem to the side, the other problem remains insurmountable—the ethicists have a very tough job getting other ethicists to agree with them.

But the fact that there is no one ethical theory which philosophers find universally convincing does not perturb the many philosophers who press on in the hope that they will or have found the proper principle and/or theoretical approach. The fact that they keep searching, after some two and half thousand years, might lead us to think there is no definitive answer waiting in reason’s cupboard.

Indeed, as philosophers keep searching, as problems spawn diverse groups of adherents, and as each more innovative philosopher stands alone with his/her/their own philosophy, we need to ask what is really going on here. One thing is definitely going on—”ethics” is a discipline of a profession called Philosophy, and to be a member of this profession requires that one keep “researching” and writing on one’s topic. So, there is definitely what Marxists call a “material” interest that keeps the debate going. There is also the question of what exactly is not only a philosophical argument, but a convincing philosophical argument about ethics? Would it have to—indeed, could it—convince everyone, for it to be seen as a definitive example of a convincing argument? In the case of the physical sciences, we have sufficient consensus of proof structures, and methodological procedures, so that practitioners of the discipline can generally share a common disposition toward the “evidence” at hand—but this is not the case in philosophy. And if it is not the case in philosophy, matters get no more “reasonable” the further we go outside the academy and into the world.


Why then are we taking ethics seriously? In part it is because we take reason, understood as rational argument, as a means of orientation seriously. But philosophy has long disputed about whether our moral institutions may be a better guide than our reasons, or whether reason can be completely detached from our moral intuitions. Some philosophers like Hume, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche thus intertwine reason and intuition as simply intrinsic to action. So, as Schopenhauer puts it, willing and representing the world we participate in are part of the same process; or as Nietzsche puts it in Beyond Good and Evil (not without some unconvincing rendering of how he differs from Schopenhauer) “a genuine psycho-physiology” sees “thinking as only the relationship of these drives to one another.” Hence, from this perspective, to draw a sharp distinction between intuition (moral or otherwise) and reasoning is already to be subject to a philosophical prejudice. Thus also Nietzsche’s one page History of Philosophy in the Twilight of the Idols—”How the ‘True World’ Finally Became a Fable”—is “The History of an Error;” thus also the opening chapter of Beyond Good and Evil is entitled “On the Prejudices of Philosophers.”

Nietzsche embroiled himself in a great deal of pseudo-physiology (typically played down in post-Nazi/post-fascist readings of Nietzsche). And a major flaw in his thinking was that he was too prone to replicate the mechanistic metaphysicians with their distinction between primary and secondary qualities, instead of sticking to his own advice about staying with appearances—for the social world is so symbolically saturated. While it does not change the fact that we laugh and cry, bleed and die, it does mean that an enormous amount of what triggers responses in us that make us weep, laugh, harm or seek redress is due to social codes, roles, manners, and expectations, as well as economic and technological modes and processes.

One of the great downsides of the triumph of philosophical naturalism (somewhat countered in different ways by Marx, Nietzsche, and more especially Husserl and Heidegger) was that what had evolved as a metaphysic to deal with the specific problem of the interrogation and manipulation of nature, to serve human desires became served up as an answer to everything. To be sure, post-Marxist and post-Nietzschean (and hence post-structuralist) philosophers focus primarily upon the social character of Philosophy, a great deal of Philosophy carries on oblivious to the significance of sociality. This is evident as much in its grammatical undertow of the indicative and subjunctive moods, which facilitates the philosophical task of showing what the world is, what is wrong with it and how it can be fixed, as it is in what, at different times, commands its attentions.

The philosopher working on an ethical problem sees his activity as purposeful in itself, and the history of the practice of no more importance than the history of medicine to a doctor. Except medicine is an empirical science. The classical approach to ethics in both Aristotle and Plato is akin to this medical model. But while there are very powerful aspects to the classical approach; there are some equally powerful counter-considerations and hence criticisms. For example, the classical approach to the good is that it tries to harmonise what exists, even if it does so in the idealist manner of Plato in the Republic (assuming for the sake of this argument at least that Plato genuinely believes in the model he builds). But this means the good becomes an obstacle to the better.

I would not argue for a moment that the history of Western civilization has been one of constant and uniform progress; but I doubt that anyone who wished to return us to relationships of fealty, or take voting rights away from women or working-class men would be thought to be defending a position that would garner much consensus. But while I think what I have said is true of people whose lives involve all manner of investments and whose identity is staked around these boons of freedom—i.e., us—there are plenty of spokesmen for a restoration/creation of a pre-liberal society, such as advocated by members of the Taliban, ISIS, Hizb ut-Tahrir, who appeal to social possibilities and actualities which have appeal for them.

Some years ago, when I spent a lot of time watching, for example, the British Islamist Anjem Choudary attack modern British society and its freedom, while defending the virtues of past and future imagined caliphates and the social and political strictures and directives which he finds in the Koran and hadiths, it was very obvious that, though I thought him mad and bad, he was no less capable of drawing inferences or mounting arguments than anyone else. He and those sharing his “idea” of what human qualities, practices and institutions are really “good” and “true” and “beautiful” can easily be dismissed as mad and bad—but what good exactly do such classifications serve? He and those like him who speak and think and argue in similar ways, find audiences, convince others, who had previously never had any interest in the kind of appeals Choudary and Co. were making to the form of life they advocate.


My discussion of philosophy and ethics has proceeded largely in keeping with the kinds of positions typically laid out by philosophy departments in the US, Canada, UK and Australia; that is, by departments that have come out of the Analytical tradition. But if I were to shift for a moment to connect the point I have just made about the collective rationalisation of, and commitment to, contingent values to the manner in idea-brokers, professionally invested in defining the specifics of the general will I mentioned above, then I think we can better see the kind of terrible paradox plaguing modern ethical thinking. That is, on the one hand it has sought to replace revealed truth with reason—and let us add that life itself is a revelatory process, and one great mode of revelation is the revelation of what kind of creature we are due to our very instincts (instincts themselves being “micro-reasoning” processes that we respond to), only to be confronted with the absolute failure to find any kind of compelling consensus that even those who defer to, and make a living out of, using their reason cannot achieve.

On the other hand, if we shift away from analytic philosophy but turn to the kind of philosophically driven hegemonic narrative that now passes for truth amongst the Western elite wishing to dictate how we should all behave, we see a certain confirmation of Hegel’s idea that reason is totalising and substantiating. Let me add immediately that I think Hegel is only right to the extent that what he calls “reason” is defective—defective by virtue of making itself primary when life teaches us again and again that reason is not primary. God is not reason writ large, and neither are human beings reason writ small.

But Hegel’s argument that reason is substantive, that it is dynamic and historically and socially saturated and not just an empty set of cognitive procedures, which we deploy to fathom experience or form extra-experiential claims about the morally good or the beautiful, strikes me as having trumped the position, still on view every time one witnesses analytical philosophers discussing ethics. If we accept this, then we will also apply Hegel’s critique of Kant’s moral theory to all variants of “principle”-style ethics, viz., the contingency has to be fathomed in light of its sociality and historicity; and this includes the contingencies which constitute our very selves.

The modern propensity to take seriously moral abstractions as political absolutes invariably contribute to a class of people who no longer seek the classical objectives of reason’s quest—the good, the true and the beautiful—they have become the instantiation of the good, the true and the beautiful. That’s where the entertainers come in—they ensure the good and true are not left hanging in the air, as they tie (ostensibly) rational moral commands and proscriptions to flesh, blood, desire—though, because they earn their living by pretending to be who they are not, they are also intrinsic to a world of image presiding over the real. That is, they represent the representations that the creators of value have laid out as pertaining to the public good—which is emancipation. This why they are as much an embodiment of Nietzsche’s higher men and women, as they are an expression of Plato’s philosopher kings, as of Kant’s instigators of the moral imperative, as the legislators of Rousseau’s general will. They are also the harbingers of Marx’s unalienated society and their further honing of who is oppressor and who is oppressed is predicated upon his primal model of class antagonism.

What we see here, and what I will continue to extrapolate upon, is a process of modern reason’s substantiation—a substantiation which reconciles vast contradictions, and which, in spite of the fact that our lives are built around contingency and encountering which defies any kind of Hegelian totalism, the philosophical contrivances, devoted to emancipating us, is an astonishing confirmation of Hegel’s principle of the dialectical development of identity within difference. For the spirit of our times conjoins philosophies that on the surface should be completely antithetical to each other, but which become variations of the one spirit of our own time. The great reconciliation, that is also a time of the great emancipation, was, in the formulation of Derrida and Agamben, “the to come.” It is both an intimation of the messianic and an instantiation of the true, good, and beautiful, as all the victims of the earth now finding their voice, thanks to our cultural moral/ethical leaders. It is Lenin and Lennon—“What is to be Done?” plus “Imagine” as ethical life. Everything important has become ethics, and the antinomian-ism of the ‘68 generation (the story has been well told in Julian Bourg’s From Revolution to Ethics: May 1968 and Contemporary French Thought) was just the vehicle by means of which jouissance/play/desire, etc. all became the ethical emancipatory key.

I have jumped into the way in which I think philosophy has provided a kind of unified consensus within a certain group—it is as I have also said a very Hegelian development—the fact that those making it frequently despise Hegel (Deleuze, for example, and Foucault) is completely beside the point, in so far as they were so caught up in their faith in their own ability and game that they were very poor judges of what they could be seen as doing by someone who was not interested in joining in their particular associations and priorities.

The above observation illustrates (even if we have not had to completely buy into the entirety of his system) the truth of Hegel’s argument that reason is substantive; that it is dynamic and historically and socially saturated and not just an empty set of cognitive procedures, which we deploy to fathom experience or form extra-experiential claims about the morally good or the beautiful. It also strikes me as having trumped the position still on view every time one witnesses analytical philosophers discuss ethics. If we accept this, then we will also apply Hegel’s critique of Kant’s moral theory to all variants of “principle” (style ethics), viz., the contingency has to be fathomed in light of its sociality and historicity; and this includes the contingencies which constitute our very selves, and the ethico-socio-political priorities of our age.


This leaves us with the conclusion that our world is our world, and the reasons (in the sense of arguments, and not simply inferences) we have about it are stories we tell ourselves to console ourselves about it or help us change it. Ethics is but a particular means of making a story, to try and get people to act in one way rather than another. If we notice the philosophical stories which emerge in an age and which are responses to the problems of the time, by a group whose ways and means are very similar, we can see that their differences are not that different. Or rather, to become seriously different they have to step outside of the ideational consensuses that are intrinsic to the philosophical game they are involved in.

Thus, to ask why this particular “game” (the game of philosophy as such, and, more specifically, philosophical ethics, is being played is not irrelevant), it gives us pause to think about the game we (ethicists) are playing; why it commenced. For the hopes latent within it are very conspicuous in the origin: the classical ethical reasoning of Socrates and Plato. It is closely bound up with a need to legitimate itself—to differentiate philosophical reasoning from alternative types of pedagogical (which Plato represented as pseudo-pedagogical) speech, viz., poetic/sophistic/and oratorical speech. Plato saw these forms of speech as suffering from the same methodological deficiency, viz., lack of illumination from ideas, which have been espied by recourse to properly breaking down the one into its many parts and rationally reassembling them into a rational definition. Aristotle was a Platonist in so many ways, but he could not come at the theory of ideas. Yet he too hoped philosophy would solve the problem.

To repeat and develop my earlier point, if a philosopher ever solved the problem of the best or most rational way to live, he or she was no better at convincing other philosophers than our professionals today. Ancient philosophy proliferated with competing schools and doctrinaires, whose members Lucian depicted (apart from his sceptical-minded, robustly “common sense” position) in the second century, as nothing but a scrubby rabble, full of self-importance, spouting nonsense.

Indeed, there is quite a serious comic critique of philosophy running from Aristophanes’s Clouds to Lucian’s Hermotimus or the Rival Philosophers to Rabelais’s Gargantua and Pantagruel. It is interesting how closely it parallels the religious criticisms of philosophy that run from Tertullian, Tatian, to Pascal and Kierkegaard—for both critiques draw attention to how little we know, and how little reason itself helps us with the most pressing decisions that befall us: how at sea we really are. The comedian has us laugh at the absurdities of who and what we are, and frequently has us laugh at the pomposity of authority (or those who want to usurp it)—and how delusional we often are. The great religious thinkers also emphasize the absurd, but in connection with the miraculous-ness of creation transcendence and/or redemption.

But if philosophy can be criticised for not delivering on its promise, this does not mean that philosophy does not produce its “offspring,” does not have a legacy. Of course, it has. In the case of classical philosophy, its legacy is visible in the Roman Empire, in the works of grammarians and legal thinking. But where philosophy started to garner real power was not in the ancient world. In antiquity, it was not philosophy that pulled antiquity out of doctrinal and political conflicts, or forged a greater social or political unity that we might well call more ethical. Antiquity was changed far more by religion than philosophy. The solidarity of the underclasses throughout the Roman Empire was largely achieved socially by Christianity.

I would also venture that philosophy would have died out were it not for religion—Christian and Moslem scholars who were able to revive philosophy in a social world of tribes and imperial growth. There is, to put it bluntly, nothing natural about philosophy—even if the concept “nature” is a term favoured by classical philosophers. It is an exotic plant, which is the result of a plethora of highly unusual socio-political (there is nothing, as far as I can see quite like the polis in antiquity) and narrative innovation and conditions (the importance of poetry, the particular abstractions it generates, the discord within the Greek pantheon, most painfully expressed by Hesiod in the Theogony, underpins a search for a cosmic moral order).

Moreover, while nothing might seem to make more sense than the History of Philosophy as the story of a self-contained development of a practice beginning with the Pre-Socratics, moving through Classical Greece, Rome and the Middle Ages and then Modernity and the situation now. Yet what philosophy meant for the Epicureans, Stoics, neo-Platonists, the Scholastics, or the mechanistic metaphysicians, thinking about the universe as an object of scientific inquiry, is due to all manner of non-philosophical contingencies, especially historical circumstance and location.

The value of applying philosophy to contradictory legal and theological points, for example, was crucial in the introduction of Aristotle into Western universities; but that was predicated upon a proliferation of legal domains requiring some kind of systemic legal reasoning—while the Thirty Years War (and its English compatriot the Civil War), was pivotal in the emergence of Deism and the mechanistic metaphysical view of life that broke with all the mess of history, and that embroiled such geniuses as Descartes, Spinoza, Hobbes, Locke, and Leibniz. This does not mean that truth is reducible to the contingency of an origin, but philosophical truths are inescapably anchored not just to reality as such, but to the contingencies of communal life. And communal life is located not only in nature’s world, but the world of human nature—which is the world of nature as well as beyond nature: symbols and history.

The human world is as much a world of imagination, of taking nature and remaking it, including our own nature and our own growth. This is not a relativistic metaphysical claim, but an empirical one: for as we try to make the world one way rather than another, we focus upon features of our story which were invariably hidden from those looking in another direction. We are ever making ourselves and our world, and that making is formed by the surging and convulsions of living pasts incubating in the plethora of inheritances which we wake up to everyday, buried as they are in our language, our institutions and social choices and values, and the contemporary reactions to what appeals to or disgusts us, what we fight for or flee from, and the alternative futures which beckon or attract us.

In making our future, we invariably remake our past, the remaking of which also impacts upon how we remake our future. This relationship between past and future is further complicated by the crises and catastrophes which take place in the present, which makes us rethink our future and thus also our past, and so on. This temporal triadic interflow renders meaningless any idea of us being disinterested subjects (except on “special occasions,” as a methodological “moment”), or there being some mere object to be observed. What disinterest we may garner—as a member of a jury, or the observer of an experiment—makes sense only once we have portioned off a bit of life that matters for us. We cannot get completely out of our own way. We are always making ourselves in our own ways; we are our ways. But our own collective life-ways differ radically from each other precisely because different collective dreams, traumas and memories are not simply capable of being overlaid upon each other. This is also why to simply interrogate such conundrums in terms of ethical absolutes or relativism is to surreptitiously transform an anthropological condition into a metaphysical problem. No wonder the problem is insoluble.

The different trajectories and prejectives of different collectives have been described by Rosenstock-Huessy as being a problem of different time bodies. For living groups are entwined in their own temporal cadences: which is why suddenly bringing groups together who have no common sense of mourning or triumph is so fraught with problems. It literally takes time to make a new time together. Another way we can say this is that the social imagination is also intrinsically temporal. For our imagination is social to the extent it dwells on what we share or should share, and it is fuelled by regrets, fears, and pride in the past, and/or present, and/or future. It holds out promises so that we can have a tomorrow worth living or fighting for. This process effects all of us; but it makes no sense to render it as a process in which there are objective truths about us and the world that we must locate before we act. We live on the brink of trial and error. But our trials and errors, to repeat, are not ones that are simply conglomerates of facticity.

The fact is that we moderns, who do philosophy, share a certain common sense because we share a world. If we enter sympathetically into another world, as anthropologists do, we can see what matters and what makes sense in those worlds. And those terms “matters” and “sense” are apposite words pointing to a collective pre-philosophical understanding of collective life. To say “something matters” is to recognize that it materializes. To say it “makes sense” is to say it is sensory-forming, as well as meaning-forming. The making-sense of a world, or making things matter within the world, is a social process of mutual participation, a sharing of collective emotional and mental depth. It is a dialogical process involving shared filtering. To be sure this filtering and selection may happen in diverse ways—common opinion, or victors’ stamping and sealing events with their narratives. But even in such a case as the latter, it remains real only to the extent it is formative; and if a people cease to conform to a particular cluster of narratives, they will rethink their past and future. And they do not need to await the declamations of a philosopher masticating on an old saw to see what really matters in their lives.

Philosophy is but one means of making “such stuff.” Within modern times, it is astonishing at how much “stuff” can be traced to philosophy: without philosophy there would have been no scientific revolution, nor modern politics as we know it—for all the ideologies of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are incubating in the French Revolution—a revolution which was in its inception identified as a revolution of “philosophism.”

I do not mean to suggest that modernity is only built out of modern philosophy—that is not true. The combination of commercial revolution and a republic of civic virtue, which lays the grounds for liberalism, antecedes the ideas of the new metaphysicians and has its roots in theology, specifically Calvinism. Indeed, just as Medieval philosophy was nurtured within the bosom of a faith, the anticlerical philosophes of the Enlightenment are the progeny of Calvinism and monarchical and religious intransigence: the blood of the Huguenots, the animosity towards the Jesuits, the failure of the Catholic Church to reform, and the role of servitude the Church played alongside the nobility in walling off the crown from Paris and the country side. All these processes, and many more, conspired to transform what had become a class, the intellectual, into political actors seeking to make the state in their image.

Plato hoped that philosopher kings would save the polis, but it was the French philosophes who succeeded in enflaming the crowds and political actors who would wipe out the non-enlightened and thus illegitimate modalities of power which had been the bulwark of the European state. The French Declaration of the Rights of Man pays direct tribute to both Rousseau (it references the general will) and Montesquieu (it references the separation of powers).

But the French revolution more generally spawned faith in genius taking precedence over authority, in the rights of people to will their own future, unencumbered by the dead weight of traditions. Rights, reason, and national will seemed to effortlessly flow into each other, as if nothing were more obvious than our being able to publicly judge the worth of all authority and right. That the twentieth century would entwine these ideas into the most hostile and contradictory and ideological strands was not anything any eighteenth century philosophe seems to have envisaged. Yet surely socialism and communism were philosophical products, attracting all sorts of philosophical minds (Plekhanov, Bukharin, Korsch, Adorno, Benjamin, Bloch, Lukács, Althusser, Negri—to just take a small sample). While Fascism and National Socialism were anti-intellectual in all manner of way, nevertheless, they still managed to attract some of the greatest philosophers of Italy (Giovanni Gentile) and Germany (Heidegger and Carl Schmitt). The three ethicists and the philosophical dispute we considered at the beginning of this essay all look rather innocuous when compared to the more bloody philosophical contestations of modernity.

But philosophers have been no better at settling their political differences than their ethical differences. Possibly the only thing philosophers agree upon is that philosophy is a worthwhile activity, and that a society is better with it than without it. Though it is not only the conclusions that separate philosophers, it is even an agreement about what it is. The mainstream consensus, somewhat felicitously, concurs that there is but one major divide on this issue: that between Anglo/American-Analytics and Continentals. In the eyes of the majority of Anglo-American professional philosophers, one of them is rubbish the other philosophy. But this is a professional squabble. In fact, and to pick up an earlier point, faith in a method enabling us to be, as Descartes put it, “lords and masters over nature” so that we could live more comfortable lives (the objective of Descartes’ philosophy) has been tremendously successful (though if happiness as a variable is factored in as a criterion of success, its value plummets). Likewise, faith in the science of economics, which grew out of moral philosophy.

One feature of the metaphysicians of the scientific revolution, rarely given enough attention, is that it was predicated on the need to bring the imagination under the reign of the understanding—thus the importance of the facultative logic which is operative in Descartes, Locke, Spinoza, Leibniz, and which culminates in Kant’s three Critiques.

But it was precisely because of the dangers of demanding and expecting too much of nature’s laws that moral dualism of the Kantian sort emerged as a reaction to the Spinozian and Leibnizian equation of freedom and necessity. Likewise, it was the recognition that humanity spiritually needed to do more than just know the world around it and try and act with dignity that led to aesthetics (a philosophical branch completely absent amongst the early mechanistic metaphysicians), becoming an important field of modern philosophical inquiry. Schelling and Hegel—on the continent at least—and Schopenhauer pushed these three great bastions of the true, good and the beautiful into previously unheralded territory—and after Nietzsche, they no longer made any sense. (Though the Anglo-American Analytic has remained far more tied to the metaphysics of the seventeenth century than the Continentals have.)

I want now to return to the contingencies which we put under the rubric of religion. For in the Western world, religion has largely been relegated to the domain of private belief, which is able to be expressed publicly only within certain sites allocated by the state. In this respect, the Enlightenment has triumphed over Calvinism, philosophy over faith. It is also because of this triumph that ethics takes on such importance—because we need orientation and, at least, within the public sphere, we need to compensate for the fact that the more “enlightened” we have become, the more disconnected we have become from each other culturally, socially, and spiritually. Philosophy would like to heal our fractured and fragmented world, but I fail to see how it can do so—for it is predicated upon a plethora of talents and conditions being met, which are held by few and of little interest to many. Not only that, philosophy as a discipline in itself the way it is practiced is but one further symptom of our fractured world. So too is the notion that there is something called religion as opposed to the “what is not religion.” The moment philosophy dictates what the gods should be (Hesiod, Xenophanes and Plato), the gods have already begun their flight. While Plato and Aristotle imbued the universe itself with a certain rational and moral purposefulness, the focus of the moderns is upon the motion of mechanisms, which means divesting all moral authority out of the universe—leaving it reside purely within the human subject via our communal sentiments and habits (Hume), will (Kant), history (Hegel), will to power (Nietzsche).

Everywhere we turn prior to philosophy, we see peoples who imagine the world/ universe as spirited or god-ed in some way. God/s, humans, world are the poles of the real which humans have traditionally addressed and confronted. The philosophical disposition asked after the nature and essence of a thing; but pre-philosophical humans supplicate themselves to, call upon, or summon traditional powers in order to carry out their lives. Most importantly, the kind of powers they are is not revealed through “observation” but through the kind of life one has. To the philosophical mind this is not satisfactory because it could be false: but what does it mean to say that a life is false? Are indigenous lives false? Hindu lives false? Does a false life not bleed and cry and laugh as much as a “true” life? To those who reply, but it is only the beliefs that are false— I reply but are we not already introducing a certain kind of fracturing technique when we look at gods as objects of “belief,” as if their existence was something that could be divorced from the kind of worlds in which certain names, rituals, practices and routines that sustained them and are sustained by them are made?.

The great problem with philosophical notions of truth as involving some kind of correspondence between intuition and concept (to put it in Kantian terms) is that the intuition we are asked to consider is itself a fiction. For we are asked to consider a living power as if it were a spatial and temporal power subject to a certain kind of reductive compositional analysis. But one has to accept already that spatial temporal powers and the kind of modelling accompanying them are the only powers that are real. Or else, if we wish to stay with Kant, they are either generated by reason alone or else fevered imaginations; that is, imaginings not curbed by the understanding which has slowly built itself up piece-by-piece with confirmable representations. And yet there is a Chartres Cathedral, there are pyramids and ziggurats, temples, frescos of Jupiter, prayers and curses to gods—a panoply of lived god-ed worlds, each revealing meaningful lives.

We might not see the world in the same way anymore, and while we might find all manner of aspects to them morally objectionable, they are not a whit less ontologically loaded than our world, with its own plethora of technologies, techniques and superstitions (does anyone—outside the beneficiaries of the discourse—not consider managerialism a superstition?).

A world is shot through with imagination, and the imagination is triggered by all manner of powers—emotions and traditions, panics and hopes, alternative futures. Our understanding is an important disposition that we may bring to bear upon our imagination; but it is a matter of faith whether it is better to trust it than our imagination. For our imagination may yield all manner of fruits that exceed our understanding. To be sure, if claims about processes are made which are clearly capable of a reductive analysis, then a true analysis may well occur—though even this is tricky. For what we are doing and what we think we are doing do not always match up. On the other hand, the world is full of shysters and rogues; but along with deluders are the self-deluded. The real test of a claim is frequently not to be found, though, in the terms in which it is made, but in the contribution to a certain kind of world which it makes.

Our world is not (as late Wittgenstein appreciated as well as anyone and which he used to overturn his earlier philosophy) a stock of items, a collection of facts which are all that are—we are facting and defacting constantly, imposing ourselves with our half-baked grasp of things and fully fledged confidence in what we want and believe. It is only some facets of the real that we may know, even with open-mindedness. On the other hand, there is no shortage of people and peoples who world themselves via their faith in magic of one sort or another—many have their livelihoods, much like the bureaucratic, political and legal spokesmen of the “general will,” implicated in the magical view of life they peddle. Where clear lines can be carved between “objects” and “subjects,” all well and good, then a certain philosophical disposition may comfortably affirm the importance of its existence.

But the economics, anthropological and sociological and political dimensions of any life-world implicate even the most dispassionate and empirically verifiable truths. The traditional way philosophy has tried to shore up its “understanding” of a more reasonable way to view reality is to break up reality into a plethora of potentially certifiable claims (again Descartes strikes me as the master puppeteer here). But I repeat it is one thing to sharply bring into question through naturalistic sound philosophical means the belief about the way the world is, and another thing altogether to question the persons who are making themselves and their world through their fantasy.

And this is where, like it or not, we all are bound together. There is no escaping the fantastical nature, not only of our existence, but of the meanings we give to our existence. Nowhere is this more obvious than in historical memory. While it is one thing to be able to argue that events, such as Caesar crossing the Rubicon, Columbus reaching America (even though, after three voyages, he died thinking he had reached the Indies), Bradman getting a duck in his last innings confirm that truth is not merely relative, there is no event of any real significance which does not contain such a massive array of interwoven processes (causes), aspects, and consequences that anyone who invokes reference to the event in making the case for others to join him or her in acting a certain way can avoid filling-in all manner of gaps.

We cannot face the future in any plausible way without reference to our understanding of the present which is itself saturated with historicity—and everybody’s historical memory is but bricolage and shard. All memory is episodic—and the episodic is always of bits and pieces. There was momentous irony in the fact that the general tendency to ahistoricism of the Enlightenment precipitated the Romantic reaction which led to historicism—but historicism rested upon the fanciful notion that the historian’s own interest in history had nothing to do with the historical facts being “discovered.”

We dwell in shadows and dreams as much in light. We are as moved by cries and sighs, roars and whispers as by reasons; and reasons themselves being inseparable from sociality and historicity are also “results” of cries and sighs, roars and whispers. We are a plethora of possibilities and powers that may be activated in countless ways and by all manner of invocations and declarations—will we really be better off if we curtail all these, so they conform to a certain modality of speech? Ultimately this is what philosophy is—a certain kind of speech, a cluster of grammatical proclivities and accentuations which open up some vistas of the real, but at the expense of others.

Being “at the expense of others” is part of the very raison d’être of philosophy—Plato’s fury at poetry for its implication in Socrates’ death is fortunately quickly recognized by Aristotle to be overstatement, and he more sensibly and generously concedes the importance of the poetic in our lives. The Platonic expulsion of poetry is echoed some two millennium later in the Enlightenment critique of religion.

The Enlightenment arc that runs from Descartes, through the French revolution and Napoleon’s “liberation” of nations from empire, then the subsequent waves of national liberations in the 19th century would flow into a century of World Wars that had much to do with philosophical faiths, particularly the faith in the political form that had been so strongly advocated by the philosophes—the nation. Kant’s contemporaries, in different ways, J.G. Hamann and Friedrich Jacobi both emphasized that faith penetrates our being so much that it cannot be ontologically severed; and Heidegger, though somewhat more coy about his theological debts, was doing something similar by trying to disclose the fundamental ontological disposition of Dasein.

But we do not need philosophy to tell us that the world that we live in is a vast entanglement of orientations and faithed ways of existence. Charles Taylor’s (and not only his) formulation of the “Post-Secular,” to describe the kind of world we in the West now inhabit, catches the reality that the secular mind-set is but one; and whether it is the most rational or not does not really amount to anything—for the whole question of what is reasonable means nothing, if it does not put reason back into the life-worlds of those who use reasons. Indeed, that is the issue that breaks the enlightenment hold—whether reason is something which is part of what we do, or whether we are part of reason. After Nietzsche, it is difficult for anyone to accept the metaphysical God of Reason. Yet, our so-called godless state has re-opened the matter of religion in the most interesting of ways.

I mentioned above the faiths behind the World Wars; and that raises a fundamental question of philosophical-anthropology which is all too often ignored because of the fairly ubiquitous acceptance within philosophical circles of the myth of the “free” self. Again, as with Nietzsche, the “self” is as much a myth as the sense of freedom, when it is transported from being a relatively useful way of expressing a certain narrative sense of identity (which not all human beings—babies, people with Alzheimer’s or brain damage, possess) to being a metaphysical claim about our nature. Just as we are responsive beings—something evident from the dependency into which we are born—we are also creatures who not only come into the world needing orientation, but whose existence is, in spite of all the routines of security we engage in to “protect our-selves,” metamorphic—a fact that is pressed home in sickness, in hardship, and in new relationships.

Rosenstock-Huessy had made the point in Practical Knowledge of the Soul that religion, like every other sphere of life, comes with its own speech-ways, and its linguistic practices and seals—prayers, office, ritual, and rites, and sacred names—but “its shrine preserves transformation itself, the secret of transformation.” That we are constantly being transformed is common to us all; but how we transform very much depends—and the different great religions of the world are testimony of how differently we as members of the same species may make ourselves. Likewise, the faith that bears us in our decision to carry on may be bearing us along very different life-ways. But that we are conscious of this process of being borne along and that there is faith (and by faith I do not so much mean a counter concept to knowledge, but rather trust) in the manner of the bearing is something that is intrinsic to religion.

In the main, philosophy has ignored the disposition of supplication that is intrinsic to transformation. The questions—all variants on the same question: Why did so many follow Hitler, Mao, Stalin as if they were gods? Or, why do so many join cults? Or why should/do I/ we determinedly remain true to the calling of my/our office?—all point to the deep-rooted need/desire to follow. Meaning is generally following; only very few completely open up a new pathway of reality—and this is no less the case for philosophers, however much they may consider themselves not Socratic or Platonic, who remain participants in a reality they “blasted” open.

A world is a semantic field, and names the means of our navigation within and beyond the world we are enmeshed in – semantic fields, where gods, humans and worlds were inextricable connected may, in some important ways, have been more luminous than the ostensible enlightened world where the gods are banished to the private realm of belief: even though, as my question above about fidelity to one’s professional office (one’s professional ethics) some power is still holding over one. The ethicist would like us to believe it is reason doing the holding; but I simply cannot see it that way. For once reason has been “de-metaphysicized;” it is no longer sufficiently equipped for such holding. Which is in large part why no matter how important the ethicists think they are—the overwhelming majority of people are responding to other voices in their commitments, in their relationships, and roles and offices, and spheres of solidarity.

Historically we know that the law precedes ethics. To be sure, politics as not merely the imposition or seizure or maintenance of authority, but as the institutional mediation of different interests leading to legislation begins with the Greeks. It is no accident that ethics, philosophy, and politics emerge within the one people—or rather with a certain social system in which relative freedom exists along with the division of labour and settled conditions of social reproduction. Law precedes ethics because a certain degree of sociality, division of labour and different interests, and the opportunity for social articulation enables peoples to articulate sufficiently similar concerns to arrive at common solutions. The solutions were not perfect; and in the fallout of the Peloponnesian Wars, they looked pretty terrible. But the terribleness did not lie in the lack of reason itself, but in the politically riven nature of the polis, a rivenness exacerbated by the sophists and orators, fuelling the flames of the assembly, so that practices that had been part of the community became out of control—execution, exile, property seizure and the like.

Our own age is a riven one. It is pure folly to think it can be saved by ethics or by philosophy. It can only be saved by shared commitments and healthy loves; the triumph of convivial and living associations over the purely commercial or mechanical; the imagination that reaches out and beyond closed associations so that the powers that have accrued over times and peoples freely circulate communally. Philosophy certainly has a role to play in this—it can assist us in sharpening our questions. But it can only do so if it recognizes that it is something within life not above it; a practice that cannot stand alone, a practice that is but one “moment” of a complex amalgam of interrogations and speculative conjectures that constitute what we somewhat misleadingly call the “human” or “social sciences.”

Life is not law—and unlike the authors of the Bible who scrupulously studied what occurs when we violate God’s commands, our philosophers have not even begun to take seriously the idea of there being laws of the spirit which are far more significant to us in our world-making than the laws of nature. Irrespective of our faith or philosophy, the most serious choices we have to make almost always come down to tragic alternatives. No one seriously responding to a tragic alternative would desire to elevate their choice into a principle. We who must build are constantly forced to choose between unpalatables; the philosopher glowing in the pure light of principle escapes the choke of tears and the palpitations of horror that come from the genuine circumstance. The grime of reality is reduced to the platitude of the classroom, the free and easy room where responsibility is primarily to consistency and purity of principle, to one’s own self-worth.

The moral law, says the moral philosopher Christine Korsgaard, is “the law of self-constitution, and as such, it is a constitutive principle of life itself.” Speaking of duty, Korsgaard gives these tellingly honest examples of the moral dilemmas faced by professional moralists: “We toil out to vote, telephone relatives to whom we would prefer not to speak, attend suffocatingly boring meetings at work, and do all sorts of irksome things at the behest of our friends.”

Oh, what bliss to be confronted by such monumental moral crises. But this too is a symptom of an elite that has no understanding of what is required to cultivate peace and contribute to a future that is never a creation of our design, and ever a reminder of the paltriness of our ideas, and the fragile and limited nature of what we and our reason can do.

Wayne Cristaudo is a philosopher, author, and educator, who has published over a dozen books.

Featured: “The Post-Apocalyptic Selfie,” by David Whitlam, early 21st century.

The Importance of Gaetano Mosca

A great book opens one’s eyes to processes that one may have missed had one not read it. Likewise, its power lies in activating one’s own abilities of thought to see more clearly what others may not notice at all or merely glimpse as a blur in the fog.

Few books I have read are better guides and eye-openers about how to think structurally, historically, and comparatively about politics generally, and the major crises of our time, crises that have largely been induced by a ruling class that has globalist ambitions, than Gaetano Mosca’s Ruling Class. Reading it can also help one be better attuned to the political fluxions that draw us toward the break-down of politics as the means for staving off those terrible forces of human destruction and rejuvenation—war and revolution, which are the inevitable consequences of a failure to adequately maintain and cultivate the powers of peace.

The ruling class of the West, which forms the core of a globalist elite, draws us into an external war—that remains at this stage a proxy war—and (most conspicuously so in the United States and Europe) a civil war that is playing itself out politically and institutionally and has already destroyed the very possibility of a common political culture.

1. Canonical and Great Books

Some books found peoples and nations; some assist in the founding of institutions; some open pathways for new types of orienting of human beings and help us forge a new reality; some provide the language and thought patterns of an epoch; some books are prophetic; and some provide the wherewithal that best defines the problem of an age. The most influential of these great books are canonical. And in spite of the ideological attack upon the canon which was part and parcel of a sweeping attempt to accommodate Western institutions to the knowledge and intellectual capacities of poorly-educated and under-read undergraduates and graduate students, canonical books exist because our world would simply not be the same were they to not have existed. This was also why it was commonly assumed amongst professors, teachers, and the professional classes that every educated person should acquaint himself with certain books at some point in his life-time.

The canon also reflects the problems of the ages and the most significant of attempted solutions—which is why it is so diverse, if I may be permitted to use a word that has become an ideological truncheon in the arsenal of managerial and progressive moral absolutes. A canonical work might not be error free, or it may be fraught with problems (Marx’s Communist Manifesto or Capital or Rousseau’s Èmile and Social Contract are obvious examples), or just simply defiant of traditional ethical appeals (Machiavelli’s Prince). Nor does the canon contain a collection of like-minded sentiments or responses to the human condition. And the idea that it is simply the point of view of white men makes no sense, given the shoddiness of the category—are people from what is now the Middle East, Northern Pakistan and Central Asia white?—or the authors of the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Koran, the Analects, the Tao Te Ching, and the Bhagavad Gita, which all are canonical works?

Then there are books which, though lesser known, if read attentively, can change how you see the world forever. They may not be canonical, but they express profound insights which, if remembered, would help us greatly in making sense of our world. I consider the writings of J.G. Hamann and Herder, of Franz Rosenzweig and Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy to be good examples of these kind of books. In the case of both pairs of thinkers, they were contemporaries of much more influential and famous philosophers—viz., the former were contemporaries of Kant, the latter of Heidegger. But whereas Kant and Heidegger remain essential to the philosophical tradition and hence to the curriculum of Philosophy (at least to that curriculum that breathes outside of the straightjacket of Analytic Philosophy), if one has attentively read Hamann et. al., then one can quickly identify a range of egregious deficiencies in the philosophies and legacies of Kant and Heidegger, and his ‘68 progeny.

Then there are books that were ignored at the time of their publication; or having made a strong impression upon a discipline or the public have faded from view, only to undergo a revival because they have been (re)discovered by later generations who see that they address something of profound importance about their lives and times. Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, for example, were “stillborn” only to be reborn; while Mises’s Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis, took on a new life when the Soviet Union was collapsing.

Explosive times, invariably, call out for the most thoughtful and inventive of people to make sense of them. And great books are inevitably forged out of the explosive fall out; the materials and problems of times in great crisis. Though, we should note, that human beings are crisis producing creatures—which is why those who believe in progress invariably are forced to temper their enthusiasm when their own circumstances and age go to hell.

But let us first address the tumult of our time, which is the reason I suggest Gaetano Mosca’s Ruling Class is a must read.

2. Global Leadership Aspirations versus those Non-Compliant Critics from the “Led-ship”

We are living in a period of civil wars in the West being played out in its institutions, as the ruling political class, and the various interests it represents and deploys for its objectives, overturns (in large part by redefining the character and roles of all) traditional social institutions. It is a civil war that is rather typical of all civil wars—a ruling class furnishes the world in a way that suits its interests; but such furnishing requires great sacrifice from those whose lives are an important part of this new furnishing. And the proposed purpose, the changing circumstances, and the new future being made, do not fit well with the interests (the ways of being in the world) of those who are required to get in step with the dictates of the ruling class.

The civil war of our time, in other words, is the struggle over whether the future will be dictated by a globalist elite and those who (often unwittingly) work on their behalf, or by those who oppose the goals and means of that elite, and the sacrifices that are required to achieve it. On the one side stand those who believe they are striving for human progress, and that progress involves greater “emancipation,” “safety,” “diversity and inclusion,” and “equity.” Yet, as their critics point out, they are creating a world which is far less equitable, safe or free. They are contributing to a divide between the immensely rich, the highly paid leaders, and administrators, celebrities, elite athletes, and all those who are employed to do their bidding by supervising and instructing everyone in what to think and say, on the one hand, and the rest.

The rest are those who are meant to make up the great “led-ship,” who are to do the bidding the various leaders, the “representatives” of sustainability, global justice, world health—and pretty much anything else said leaders can think of—and thus the “rest” find themselves increasingly beholden to leaders. Irrespective of their intentions, the more vocal opponents of this ruling elite can see that they are aiding and abetting corporate technocratic globalism, and its accompanying suppliers of governance (administrative states beholden to larger global administrative powers, such as the EU, and the UN), knowledge (from big tech/media and its fact-checkers to the requirement that scientific research be funded by state-corporately authorized research institutions and bodies which comply with consensuses that are manufactured within various professional associations, again complying with corporate and state requirements, and standardized curricula crafted around ostensibly universal rights), health (Big Pharma, and WHO, medical associations, and boards), and safety (the Industrial Military Complex and international military alliances whose very existence requires manufacturing wars, which may never be won, but which help ensure a continuous resource stream from tax-payers to arms manufacturers, bureaucrats and the military so that a global standing military reserve will never cease to exist).

What to those who embrace this globalist order and its rulers and minions is a more caring, safe and compassionate, environmentally sustainable world order, is to others but mindlessness and mental enslavement, infantile indulgence, and the suppression of the more traditional institutions and roles, which have provided people with a sense of the fit between themselves and the kind of freedom that was worked out over multiple generations in the numerous spheres of sociality. Whereas supporters of globalism can be found everywhere—though, the further away one gets from the West, such supporters exist in ever smaller numbers—the opponents of this global elite do not form a natural alliance: being a traditional Muslim, Jew, or Christian does not mean that the common ground—one’s traditional faith—is very common or solid as a base for an alliance. Conflict and wars are the inevitable accompaniments of traditional life-ways. But the delusion of the globalist elites is that under their direction there will be perpetual peace.

Again, critics of the globalist elite (which take NATO as its military shield) will point out that what is happening is not that war as an existential feature of human existence has ceased, or even diminished, but the grounds for its existence have shifted, and the beneficiaries for its existence have assumed the authority of being the planetary peace-providers.

If nature abhors a vacuum, then the nature of our global administrative, financial, communication systems have created a vacuum that has been filled by a globalist ruling class—a Superclass, as David Rothkopf, who served in the Clinton administration, formulated it in his book of that name. (Rothkopf, who is not at all hostile to this elite, makes the case that while membership is relatively mobile, it numbers around six thousand people at any given time). In filling that vacuum, the global elite have required that the world adopts itself to their interests, which are the interests that support their authority. But, again, their interests, simply do not suit the overwhelming number of people who live on planet earth, and do not feel that this superclass is of any benefit to them—critics of the superclass go further and see it as a class whose ambition wildly outstrips its competence, and is thus a destructive force, far greater than what nature and our other social formations would generate.

The globalist ruling class inaugurates another fundamental break with tradition—and at the danger of repeating myself—the modus operandi of the globalist elite is its break with all real traditions, involving a kind of substitution racket, like fake gold being passed off as real gold. This particular break is that previously whereas power formations which move beyond those of outright enslavement or tyranny are historically formed symbiotically, so that a sacrificial order is established—no serious sacrifice is required of the globalist elite themselves: they can pay others to enforce others to make the sacrifices that are intrinsic to social reproduction (notably sacrifices of the independence of mind to the ruling ideas, the sacrifice of one’s faith to the higher absolutes of globalist/corporatist/progressivist ideology, and sacrifice of one’s relative economic well-being).

For all its aspirations, though, Globalism Inc. remains largely politically ineffective outside of the West, and the great geo-political non-Western globalist alternative to Western globalism, China, is one that far more carefully attends to bringing along the ruled with its ruling class—which is not to say that on certain divisive issues it will not do what ruling classes always do, i.e., brutally enforce its authority. The way it has managed to cement its authority by avoiding a civil war is to ensure its adherence to traditions in a way that makes it something of a mirror image of the West. But, to repeat, there is no natural allegiance between the traditionalism of the Chinese and those in the West, who find greater solace in their traditions than in the new elite counterfeit fabrications. To question these fabrications in the West as counterfeit, based upon (collective self-)delusions and/or deception, is now to be a “right-wing extremist,” and to question any of the ticket items that are advanced through these fabrications, and to even speak of a globalist elite is to be a dupe of a conspiracy theory, which is to say that those making a play to be the global ruling class smother resistance by ideological indoctrination, accompanied by social, economic and political enforcement.

The primary reason that the West has been the leader of the globalist agenda, from its social alliances, to policy, to ideology is because the West has been created through wars and revolutions, and the relative success of its institutions, prior to breeding a class determined to destroy them, has been the incorporation of a dynamic which enables adapting to its changing technological and socio-economic circumstances. In the West, it is not the case that those who wish to preserve their traditional way of life are wishing to leap back to pre-modern times, as, for example, has been the case in much of the Islamic world’s response to modernization. Thus, for example, in the United States, those who are most outspoken against the progressive direction of their country identify themselves as “patriots,” i.e., as defenders of the American revolution and the principles it founded and which have evolved in its wake.

Today, the ruling class in the United States has largely embraced switching the founding of the United States from the date marking the independence of a colony from a foreign oppressive power it defeated in a civil war by declaring “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” to a date which takes its founding as an act of enslavement, and its perpetuity as one of a trail of injustices that must now be rectified by those who will lead its people (who no longer are merely the citizens and their children) via the legislature, the executive, the judiciary, the media, the classroom, and wherever else people may assemble, speak, or reflect.

Of course, there are still some people who belong to the political class who are on the “wrong side of history,” the side that identifies in the United States with the founding fathers, who are appalled that the new ruling class works in tandem with the youth of the nation and its educators to overturn institutions, tear-down statues, change the names of military bases, schools and other buildings and, rewrite their history books and school curricula, so that the men who founded the United States may have their status removed and their personage shamed, and the more diverse, and the tolerant ruling class who represent the truth of power and an emancipated future may live in safety, free from the “moral odium” of their forebears. The civil war that is taking place is one which exists because the ruling class has changed. It has gone globalist, become “virtuous,” and got “woke.”

There is, I believe, no better book for making sense of what is now transpiring than Gaetano Mosca’s Ruling Class.

3. Mosca Elements of Political Science and Their Importance for Understanding the Affinities Between Totalitarian Ruling Classes

Apart from its providing a number of key elements to help make sense of the times we are living through in the West, I came to the conclusion, right at the end of my academic career, after picking the book up again for the first time in nearly fifty years (when I had been too young and stupid to realize what gold it was) that Mosca’s Ruling Class is, along with Aristotle’s Politics and Thucydides’ Peloponnesian Wars, probably the best foundational text for studying Political Science that has ever been written. (For all its greatness, I would not say that Quigley’s Tragedy and Hope is a foundational text for studying Political Science)

The Italian title of The Ruling Class (when literally translated) is Elements of Political Science, the first edition of which appeared in Italy in 1896; the English translation of the revised edition of 1923 appeared in 1939. The English title is perhaps a more catching one, and it does capture the content of the book. But I think it regrettable that in an age where Political Science is little more now than a disciplinary name rather than a genuine academic discipline that this book is rarely read by those who study Politics. Today, as would be evident to anyone who simply read the titles of papers presented at the American Political Science Association, with the possible exception of rational choice theory (which I think is irredeemably flawed by its inattention to culture and history), most who teach Political Science are morally committed political partisans who have little or no interest in exploring their role within the ruling class. Or indeed thinking outside of the two-dimensional model and its intersectional variant, which would make them and their chosen groups oppressed members of a society they wish to transform, instead of being paid employees (mostly of) the state whose task it is to educate and socially prepare the next generation for reproducing the kind of society that its “leaders”—its ruling class—deem as desirable.

As the Italian title suggests, in dealing with elements of a science of politics Mosca’s book is one that cuts across cultures, which is to say it is a structural examination, a study of the laws that lead to rulership and its class-based nature. Though the structures and laws examined by Mosca are analyzed in their historical genesis and mutations, which is to say Mosca’s study is also an historical study, as it must be given that history provides the condition of our circumstances, just as our response to circumstances also make history. Thus, it examines the changing conditions which give birth to the different social needs and opportunities for different types and classes, and hence the different priorities of governance and those who form the political class of a time and people. It is also comparativist in its approach. In his “Introduction” to the Ruling Class, Arthur Livingstone provided a good summation of Mosca’s method:

He will of course take the facts about society from any source or method that can supply them, only so they are facts—from economics, from anthropology, from psychology, or any similar science. He does explicitly reject for the political-social field any absolute exclusive acceptance of climatic or north-and-south theories, anthropological theories based on the observation of primitive societies (the question of size is important), the economic interpretation of history (it is too unilateral), doctrines of racial superiorities and inferiorities (many different race theories have had their moments of splendor), and evolutionary theories (they fail to account for the rhythmical movement of human progress—biological evolution would require continuous improvement.

The book opens with Mosca showing the inadequacy of most competing approaches to Political Science, noting that various claims to Political Science “are still, little more than philosophical, theological or rational justifications of certain types of political organization which have for centuries, played and in some cases are still playing, a significant role in human history.” Then, it proceeds to lay down the foundational fact upon which there can be political life, as well as a science of it:

Among the constant facts and tendencies that are to be found in all political organisms, one is so obvious that it is apparent to the most casual eye. In all societies—from societies that are very meagerly developed and have barely attained the dawnings of civilization, down to the most advanced and powerful societies—two classes of people appear—a class that rules and a class that is ruled. The first class, always the less numerous, performs all political functions, monopolizes power and enjoys the advantages that power brings, whereas the second, the more numerous class, is directed and controlled by the first; in a manner that is now more or less legal, now more or less arbitrary and violent, and supplies the first, in appearance at least, with material means of subsistence and with the instrumentalities that are essential to the vitality of the political organism.

Mosca then notes that “in every political organism there is one individual who is chief among the leaders of the ruling class as a whole,” but that person may not hold supreme power according to law. No head of state can rule without the support “of a numerous class to enforce respect for his orders and to have them carried out.” Indeed, it is because of the need for competing and potentially conflicting forces to be coordinated, so that peace between them reign, that a figure symbolizing unity and bearing ultimate sovereignty can act as a mediator between them. That is, it is sovereignty which is a consequence not a precondition of a larger class of “interested” parties; but once established its success depends upon a fit between the sovereign’s interests and that powerful class that commands and coordinates subordinate powers. Of course, that power is originally martial—and the Ruling Class is particularly attentive to the importance of the changing nature of armies in the transformation of ruling classes.

Mosca also notes that just as states require a unity of ends and agreeable means between the sovereign and the most powerful class which girds its authority, there is also a need to draw from the “masses” a group to facilitate and enforce the functions of the rulers. As he puts it:

and granting that he can make one individual, or indeed many individuals, in the ruling class feel the weight of his power, he certainly cannot be at odds with the class as a whole or do away with it. Even if that were possible, he would at once be forced to create another class, without the support of which action on his part would be completely paralysed. On the other hand, granting that the discontent of the masses might succeed in deposing a ruling class, inevitably, as we shall later show, there would have to be another organized minority within the masses themselves to discharge the functions of a ruling class. Otherwise all organization, and the whole social structure, would be destroyed.

…the real superiority of the concept of the ruling, or political, class lies in the fact that the varying structure of ruling classes has a preponderant importance in determining the political type, and also the level of civilization, of the different peoples.

In the chapter “Principles and Tendencies in Ruling Classes,” Mosca notes that it is the middle-class that generally supplied the personnel for the bureaucracy; that it is the moral level of the bureaucracy that signifies the moral level of the ruling class; and that the members of the bureaucracy tend to “believe in their own infallibility,” and are “loath to accept criticisms and suggestion from persons who are not of their calling.” With the expansion of the state into ever more areas of what were once considered private domains of life, and the expansion of those who work with the state, combined with those who are not of the bureaucracy generally but who are affiliated to a party and/ or committed to a political program and work in the corporate and private sector to achieve the kind of state they desire, this combination of moral assuredness and hostility to criticism threatens to generate the kind of opposition that typically leads to the overthrow of a ruling class. Just as the partitions between private and public spheres, the market and state have been pushed aside, thus indicating the death of old fashioned liberal democracy, the bureaucracy no longer has either the aspiration or pretence of being non-partisan. Its members now almost totally represent the program of the “liberal (anti-democratic) progressive.”

The totalitarian trinity of people, party, and leader(ship) has been a complete success in the United States, while most other nations still play by two party rules when it comes to the parliament, but administrations, service providers, school and university curricula, legislation regarding sexuality, policies for multiculturalism, advancement of identity politics and minorities, hate speech etc. are systematically progressive and utterly globalist. And when even it comes to the parliament, as the example of Boris Johnson and BREXIT illustrates, today there are all manner of serpentine ways that political rulers may slip from defender of the nation and its mores to employee of Globalist Inc. Ultimately the most ambitious and most driven members of a ruling class have little regard for older rules of etiquette precisely because of their own sense of moral conviction, and the ability they have to appoint and reward those who share their convictions.

The greater part of the Ruling Class is an historical analysis of the varying ruling class structures and the historical and social conditions that have given rise to them. Apart from any comparisons between Mosca and his contemporaries, who also were developing an elite theory of politics, which I touch upon below, the idea of a ruling class is most commonly associated with Marxism. But the difference between the Marxian deployment of the term to advance its own political program, and Mosca’s analysis, is two-fold—and it is this difference which I think enables us to see why Marxism is ideology, while Mosca’s work a contribution to Political Science.

First, the Marxists promise a future where there will be no ruling class. But that future could only be realized if there were a unity of purpose and such a vast coalition of interests that politics, rulership, class, and divisions between people would have ceased to exist. Thus, Marx’s claim that communism would eliminate the division of labour whist providing material abundance of a sort so that all could live according to their ability and needs. This is a unity that simply has never existed for any protracted period of time, and could only exist were different social interests eliminated—but they are generated out of the division of labour—and it is the division of labour that is the sine qua non of large-scale production, not the desire of someone to dabble in one or other form of creative productivity as it suits him.

Marx simply could not demonstrate how the elimination of the division of labour could defy everything known about economic production and create more abundance than it did when groups existed on such a small scale that what division of labour existed (such as between the sexes and the ages) was negligible. Which brings us to the second point: the Marxist future, irrespective of Marx’s own inability to see what he was doing, is nothing more than a verbal conjuration. In that sense it is the perfect means for those whose primary “skill” is rhetoric. The link between oratory, sophistry (the use of education for the advancement of one’s political power), demagoguery, and tyranny was critically observed by Plato; and that link has only become more intense within the displacement of the old ruling class by one in which verbal prowess and rationalization is fundamental to political legitimation.

Marxism is but one means by which a class, trafficking in words and ideas and persuading people to follow the objectives they lay down, and the means they authorize to achieve those objectives, has come to rule. Of course, that class needs resources; and the most common means available to it are: theft (a means used by the Bolsheviks for a relatively short while, and a means which the United States and, with the European Union, set to follow, are using in their proxy war against Russia), taxes, and donations to political parties.

Marxism did not die with the end of the Soviet-style central planning. In the West, it has survived in its non-Leninist incarnation, as an intrinsic ideological component of the Humanities curricula of elite Western universities. It has survived because it is an ideology whose endgame irreality is of no relevance to its success as an ideological way of oversimplifying reality for an aspirational ruling class keen to find a path to professional careers providing them with the power to build the world around its leadership. The particular interests of those who identify with any one of the radical variants that have come out of Marxist critique is to rule and thus decide how resources are to be deployed for which purposes by which people. This is ideologically passed off as achieving an absolute good – universal emancipation.

Marx himself appealed to a future of spontaneous universal cooperation based upon the complete mutuality of interests of the species (once the bourgeoisie were eliminated). But the impossibility of having large scale productivity and consumption growth without a market and capital investment, and of having political direction without a ruling party and state has meant that Marxism, and its various academically refined spawn, is but one piece of the ideological puzzle justifying the actuality of a ruling class that deploys a combination of value imposition, technocracy—its inevitability and spread being well noted in another very important book, James Burnham’s The Managerial Revolution—and financial control. It is achieved by a completely politicised social, pedagogical, and economic alignment or coordination of human action- what the Nazis call Gleichschaltung, which in turn requires suppressing any resistance whether of thought or deed. In so far as the process is ideological – the result of thinking built around political ideational alignments—this ruling class is far more attuned to the dangers of thoughts and words than were any inquisitors or contemporary mullahs.

In sum, while Mosca sees the ruling class as the inevitable accompaniment of all large-scale social organization, Marxism passes off the notion of the ruling class, and indeed politics itself, as but a transitory phase of social existence, whilst creating a rhetorical smokescreen for the rise of a political class that, if successful, claims to speak on behalf of universal interest and thus, if successful, should be able hold its power into perpetuity.

Typically, when Mosca’s work is raised, it is grouped along with other theorists of political elites, most notably Roberto Michels and Wilfried Pareto. Unlike Michels who had been a Marxist before becoming an anarcho-syndicalist and supporter of Il Duce, and Pareto, whose support of Mussolini was brief (Pareto died in 1923) and something of an ill-fit, given the liberal nature of his economic thought, Mosca was a liberal, but not one who was oblivious to its failures and shortcoming, and the threats posed to it by fascism—he wrestles with the problems of representative government in the book’s final chapter.

Although there was some dispute between Pareto and Mosca over who should get the prize for being the first to focus upon political elites as forming the basis of political science, the more important contrast within the elite theorists is between Mosca and Michels.

Michels’s study of the social democratic movement had led him to the observation that oligarchy was the inevitable type of all political organization; and his support for Mussolini expressed his willingness not only to embrace the fact of the inevitability of elite authority, but to endorse a political ideology in which elite power was openly factored into the political program and party.

Ironically, today, while fascism is the pejorative hurled about to discredit anyone who objects to the ticket items of globalist progressivism and corporatism, the globalist program and agenda is built around the unquestionable moral and political authority of cultural and global “leaders” who are increasingly schooled in leadership programs. The preoccupation with leadership today reaches from culture to industry to universities to politics. A jarring example of how central leadership is to politics today was to be seen in an election poster I saw nailed up all over the place in Australia’s recent election. When the poster is translated into German my point needs little further comment: ”Australien braucht einen Füherer, keinen Lügner.”

People in liberal democracies so frequently and blithely speak of politics in terms of the need for political leadership that they seem completely ignorant of the fact that unlike fascist, or communist states, in liberal democracies the most important role of the government (at least in peace time) was not to lead but to provide the conditions so that people might peaceably lead their own lives as best they saw fit.

Michels, like our present globalists, is rather typical of a certain kind of mentality that begins with abstractions and ideals about what political power may achieve if expressing the popular will, but which, in dealing with the actual requirements of maintaining political power, readily either abandons its more democratic rhetoric or simply twists it haphazardly so that it can get on with the business of directing who does what. The business of deciding who must do what—and along with this, who gets what from whom, and deciding what occurs to them, if they won’t do it, is the end of politics; and thus, a task that befalls every ruling class.

Moreover, for all the idolatry surrounding politics today, as if it is the means for solving all our problems, the state, though impossible to do without, is a blunt means (its powers are force, persuasion, and bureaucracy) of orchestrating human action. The problem with totalitarian forms of government is not that their political class makes political decisions, but the expansive combination of the range of decisions and components of life that become absorbed under their political reach and authority, and the intolerance shown towards those who question its authority.

Apart from the idolatry of progressive ideas, and leadership, the use of the state and corporations to ensconce a technocratic elite doing the ideological bidding of a globalist ruling class that demands unity in peacetime, of the sort that in a traditional liberal democratic society would only be required in wartime, is indicative of the totalitarian nature of the modern globalist project. Hence too it must control what can be said, and the best way to control that is to indoctrinate children into the values and narratives that the ruling class holds as absolute.

Also, all distinction between war and peace is being destroyed in Western democracies—we are being attacked by a never-ending series of threats requiring militant response, from the destruction of the planet due to anthropogenically induced climate change, to viruses and infectious diseases that can only be stopped if we all follow the leadership provided by pharmaceutical companies and state authorized medical “advisors,” and the numerous others who have been authorised to identify the correct information and “facts” on any topic warranting totally unified militant action.

Thus, there can never be a time when the ruling class takes a step back from its leadership role. Now we have the impending threat of an actual war—just yesterday General Milley advised the graduating class of West Point of the “increasing risk of global war.” There is, indeed, an impending threat, though the question is not only why, but whether the alliance of Western powers is actually less rather than more totalitarian than the global powers it opposes.

The great challenge of modern liberal-democracy is to maintain a political culture in which the social tensions are fecund enough to make social adaptations of a sort that prevent the political body from succumbing to either traditional ossification or progressivist delusions of governance becoming a mere shell concealing implacable wills. It is an irony that the ruling classes supporting fascism and globalism respectively positioned themselves in antithetical ideological terms with respect to the past and future—whilst both were captured by the internal dialectic of their political means: the fascists presented themselves as Rome reborn, but their emergence and the forces they mustered were all extremely modern. The globalists, on the other hand, appeal to a future free from oppression (a utopia); but they can only achieve this by the old-style means of enforced unity; what Friedrich von Hayek saw as the limited power flow of an order of taxis, which is typical of military and bureaucracy.

The Marxist tradition had gone along with the Saint-Simonian formulation that the future would be free of politics; and in its place there would simply be the administration of things. That tradition had a longer pedigree in utopian writing generally, though Rabelais’ depiction of the Abbey of Thélème had identified the nub of a tradition that runs through Rousseau, and the various socialist writers like de Mably through Saint-Simon and (in spite of their polemics against utopians) Marx and Engels: that nub was political unity. As in the Abbey of Thélème, there would be no leaders because everyone wanted the same thing and everyone did exactly what was required at the time of its requiting.

Both fascism and Marxism were born out of this faith in unity—though in the case of fascism the unity (people, state, party) required at its theoretical foundation an all-knowing, caring leader. In the case of communism, the cult of the personality was not something that was forged theoretically but developed out of necessity, as a party that had seized power in a coup, and defended it in a civil war, was faced with conflicting decisions about what to do about the food supply—should it be collectivized immediately, or allowed to operate through market inducements?—and workers who did not like the labour conditions required of them by those who had promised such liberation and now were shipping people off to prison camps.

Whether fascist or communist, these two modern responses to future-building not only required a mass that complied with what its ruling class dictated, but a mass which was ideologically committed to that ruling class and hence indoctrinated in supporting all its choices. The real difference between liberal democratic regimes and fascist and communist ones had nothing to do with abstract theories—which were, of course, prevalent enough—but with how openly one might grumble about the ruling class. One might say that the grumbling made little difference; but taking away someone’s right to grumble involves deploying state and corporate resources to that end – and hence job opportunities – it also only fuels the grumbling and discontent. Which is also partly why the levels of social discontent in so much of the Western world is so high.

The ruling class of today’s Western democracies now has no compunction in doing what the fascists, and Marxists before them did: and ultimately that is because it is the same kind of people demanding the same objective—that their will be done on earth as it is in the heaven of their ideas.

Reading Mosca will not help anyone prevent this; but reading him does help one place what is happening now in a larger, historical perspective, whilst also providing one with a healthy dose of scepticism, so that one does not fail to note that the primary interest of a ruling class is the preservation of its right to rule. In and of itself that is understandable; but the matter of whether they are doing a good enough job in facilitating the interests of the ruled is something else. And a ruling class that must control information-flows is one that has shown that it no longer cares about the interests of those they rule—which is always the beginning of their own demise.

Wayne Cristaudo is a philosopher, author, and educator, who has published over a dozen books.

Featured image: “New Gods, Old Monsters,” by David Whitlam; painted 2020.

Overcoming Idols: A Conversation with Wayne Cristaudo

In this episode of More Christ, Wayne Cristaudo discusses his criticism of the roles of pride and abstraction in the modern world; how our proclivity to succumb to idolatry is at the root of what he calls ‘idea-ism’ and ideology; the primacy of contingent encounters and the Holy Spirit in his own life; and the thinkers he loves.

More Christ is a channel created by Mark Connolly, which is devoted to dialogue about the world, the cosmos, and how the Christian life and the surprises of the Spirit lead to the flourishing of life. The show’s thematics are Christian, its reach universal.

Featured image: “Phoenix,” Aberdeen Bestiary, 12th century.

Prime Facts, Closed Minds and the Russia-Ukraine Conflict


  • “Climate change” can only be overcome if we stop using fossil fuels and develop green energy. Anyone who disagrees is a climate denier or climate sceptic—and a conspiracy theorist;
  • Racism in the Western world is systemic and can only be overcome when all white people acknowledging they are racists and privileged. Anyone who disagrees is a racist;
  • Muslims are victims of imperialism and racism. Anyone who criticizes Islam is an Islamophobe;
  • One has the right to choose one’s gender because gender is a social construct. Anyone who disagrees is a transphobe;
  • Vaccines ensure the survival of the species. Anyone who questions any vaccine is a science denier—and a conspiracy theorist;
  • Anyone who disagrees with government-approved “science” about Covid-19 is a science denier—and a conspiracy theorist;
  • Russia is guilty of an unprovoked invasion of the Ukraine. Anyone who disputes this is an enemy of the “Ukrainian people” and a Putin stooge;
  • Anyone who believes in the inviolability of free speech and universal access to social media platforms is an advocate of haters, misinformation, disinformation and oppression—and conspiracy theorists;
  • Donald Trump was a president for white supremacists and was a Russian plant. Anyone who disagrees is an enemy of democracy;
  • Anyone who thinks the US election of 2020 was shrouded in an array of electoral improprieties and should be subjected to a thorough independent audit is an enemy of democracy—and a conspiracy theorist;
  • Anyone who thinks that the riot of January 6, 2021 was not an insurrection is an enemy of democracy—and a conspiracy theorist follower of Q Anon;
  • Anyone who thinks there is a distinction between migrants and “illegal” entrants who enter the United States through the Southern border is a racist;
  • Anyone who disputes any of the above is not to be trusted and may rightfully be denounced, de-platformed, and deprived of his livelihood—and is most probably the dupe of some conspiracy theory.

Those who think the above claims are false do so because they detect a general fallacy lurking within each of the claims, whether it be a fallacy to do with the nature of science, the nature of racism, the nature of nature, the nature of authority, the nature of international diplomacy, the nature of emancipation/freedom or equality, or the nature of speech and information. Irrespective of the larger fallacies at play, the problem with the above claims is that there is at least one fundamental or prime fact that each claim is simply not attending to. And anyone who disputes the claims above will almost invariably draw attention to facts which are of such fundamental importance to the broader topic at hand that, if true, the claim collapses.

It is also conspicuous that in a world so complex in terms of the systemic modalities of world-making, reality-participation and formation (reality is not simply a block of “there-ness,” but something “happening” through every breath and deed that anyone living makes at each and every moment), that such issues from the climate to the most intimate of our existential features may be reduced to an ethico-political position which is so definitive, so absolute, that it can brook no dissent. Each one of these issues now comes with a truth status that must be locked in—anyone who publicly objects to anyone of them is spreading misinformation or disinformation. For the survival of the planet, the securement of world peace, democracy, an international world order it is required that everyone must subscribe to the ticket of truths on the list, as well as any others that those who decide which truths must be locked down identify. As with the truths themselves the Western political and ruling class has increasingly come to defend the necessity of the closed mind as the sine qua non of the values to be instantiated. The reductive and simplistic nature of the truths also allow for that class to easily train and deploy compliant truth educators, enforcers, informers, and persecutors.

Although the list forms a “ticket”, some will think it perfectly reasonable, to think that a commitment to one of the claims above does not require commitment to all. And yet, what is very conspicuous is that the same techniques of truth validation, and dissent suppression apply to any item on the ticket. Further, by agreeing with any one item on the ticket one will find oneself forming an alliance with and thereby adding further authority and power to the party that one might wish to oppose on every other item on the ticket.

Thus, it is with the Russia-Ukraine war many people who are vehemently opposed to the corporatist liberal progressive technocratic view on life find themselves marching lock-step with that same globalist ruling political class and its “leadership” who seek total conformity of speech, thought, and “best practice” to create a world of inclusivity, diversity, equity, appropriate pronouns and boundless wealth for a tiny percent of the world’s population. It does not matter which foot-soldiers are fighting on which mental fronts, so long as each front is attended to so that independence of soul, mind and action can be replaced by mental and spiritual conformity that complies with the various agreed upon bullet points of value and policy that have been identified by the leaders of the international order, which is to say Western “democracies.”

Many people with whom I broadly concur with about the destruction of the best values that the West has discovered and institutionally cultivated do not see the Russia- Ukraine war as but one more ticket item. But, nevertheless, what they do is give credibility to the same sources of information that have proven to be untruthful and unreliable on all the other ticket items. They are, in other words, unwitting foot-soldiers for the same vested interests of big-tech-media owners, big-pharma, the arms industry, big energy, global finance, big government, etc., who are dictating the way the world must be.

For the remainder of this essay, I want to use the example of the Russian-Ukraine war to focus upon one extremely common personal shortcoming that I think has contributed to the Western intelligentsia becoming the foot-soldiers and enablers of an elite who are creating and presiding over an increasingly soulless, mindless and totally conformist society: this is the tendency for people to confuse what they think they know with what they do know. Never has the importance of true and reliable information played such a decisive role in how people go about their daily lives. Thus, too never have people been so dependent upon the ability, integrity, and accuracy of those who identify and provide information about the processes and events transpiring within the world. Never has philosophy, as the means by which we may better organize our information as well as assess the method for excavating or accessing and combining information, been so importance to the whole of society as it is today in which all our life-systems have become ideational concatenations. And as ideational concatenations, one erroneous idea may suffice to collapse all that we think of as certain and valuable.

The price paid for building our world upon ideas is the precariousness of that world precisely because it only takes one mistaken idea to be uncovered for catastrophic consequences to ensue for all the stakeholders of that particular concatenation. No wonder that people are so dogmatic, so defensive, so hostile to those who may jeopardise an ideational order which gives them purpose, status, and economic security. Woke ideas are easy to dismiss and satirise, but what is not easy to dismiss are the stakeholders whose lives and livelihoods depend upon the narratives they instantiate and, understandably, aggressively defend as if their very lives depended upon them – which they do. The triumph of idea-ism means that there are numerous classes of ideas-brokers whose economic and personal interests are completely dependent upon those ideas which they have built their careers and interests upon. The quality of the society as a whole, though, will depend upon the quality of ideas that have triumphed. Assuming that a generation is 25-30 years, and that it is with the American and French revolutions that we see a birth of a new (i.e., modern) world, the socio-political contestation and developments which are definitive of modernity are a mere eight or so generations – though liberal progressivism of the sort that has now become the dominant ideology of the West, has only been dominant for one generation. In other words, the ideas that have formed modernity and have developed within modernity have barely been tried and tested.

The totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century, and the ideology that drives the United States now illustrate that whatever the achievements of modernity, securing perpetual peace is not one of them, even though that was the dream of those philosophers whose ideas played such a decisive role in helping form the mindset, goals, and concepts of legitimation of the modern. Though the Enlightenment dream of a new world was meant to be universal, vast portions of the globe live within premodern values, relationships, and priorities alongside modern technologies. Although they usually invoke a crude kind of cultural relativism -as the means for attacking more traditional Western values and bestowing their moral benediction on the Other to demonstrate their virtuous largess—most modern professionals have neither any genuine interest nor understanding of the how, why or what of peoples who live outside of the supposed halcyon of modern ideational systems of social re-production and value. Irrespective of that, we moderns simply have not had the time to really know what we are doing because the truth of any idea about how the world is to be made is not merely in the logical congruence it enjoys with other ideas that we esteem, but in the way it is lived out – only the living out of ideas, in and over time, shows us what they really contain, as opposed to what we want or believe them to contain. Believing that we can will what we wish by dreaming up ideas is far easier than living them out successfully – ask any coach of any team in any competitive sport.

Given the ever-increasing gap between what we will and we do, what we want to be the case and what we actually know to be the case, never has the Socratic foundation stone of philosophy proper (as opposed to speculative conjectures) been so necessary: that foundation stone is the simple confession of one’s own ignorance, and the importance of establishing whether those who claim to have knowledge, know what they are talking about.

In the specific case of the Russia-Ukraine war, I see that people whose thoughtfulness and social and political observations I generally admire have swiftly accepted very poor evidence to reach conclusions that they identify so strongly with that they are now contributing to locking down one more mental front on behalf of the globalizing elite who are supporting all endeavours to completely control speech and thought in service to their leadership and plans for the future.


The conversations and sense of self-esteem and identity of the professional classes in the West are strongly bound up with the ideas they hold about how the world is, how it should be, and how it can be improved. Educated, professional people like to socialize and converse with other people who are well educated and able to converse about the topics of major urgency of the moment. Those topics range from the workings of nature to the nature of human beings to geopolitics to psychology to economics and society to aesthetics and much else beside. The problem all face is that because of the complexity of the world, gathering knowledge about all the topics that they wish to address when gathered in conversation is time consuming—and most professionals, once their work and relationships and entertainment and recreational activities (which, to be sure, does include reading and watching the news) does not leave a lot of time left for digging more deeply into a topic.

The ability to participate and contribute to conversational gatherings by demonstrating one’s knowledge of all the important issues of the day is an unwritten social rule. Given the array of topics and the complexity of the world, the pressure to know “all sorts of stuff” does not change the fact that there is no short cut if one is serious about being well informed about so many of the urgent issues of our time. It takes considerable time to be able to learn which type of information is genuinely relevant to the topic. Because none of us can know everything, listening to experts is important. But anyone who has spent time developing expertise in a field knows that experts commonly disagree. And only someone who knows next to nothing about the history of science or the history of ideas, or the history of disciplines such as economics, or history thinks that one will be well informed by simply accepting a consensus among experts at any given time. To be well informed on any topic means that one must have some way of distinguishing between different experts making contrary claims.

Thus, it is that anyone wanting to be well informed should be well versed in the requisite methods of organizing different kinds of information, and hence able to identify which experts are more likely to be making the more accurate claims about an issue. One also needs a reasonably sophisticated grasp of the various theoretical alternatives that are part of the given field in which the topic for discussion occurs. This involves both the time taken to gather contingent knowledge (the appropriate facts), and sufficient philosophical ability and training to be able to identify the potential fallacies that might lead to oversimplifications, false generalizations, and false conclusions.

People with a college education, which is to say the overwhelming majority of professionals, might well assume that they have been trained in such a manner that they are better equipped than those who lack that education to address the topics that become the most urgent civic issue of the day. The fact is, though, that a college degree does not deliver that anymore: and that would be amply evident were a random sample of college educated people asked to answer even very basic questions of history, philosophy, geography, world politics or economics. Ideology has swiftly come to fill the void that has been created by the pedagogical decline in the gathering of contingent knowledge—something that also required a great deal of rote learning, of the sort, thanks to modern education theory, that rarely exists anymore, in one’s mentally formative years.

Of course, the displacement of contingent knowledge by ideational and ideological knowledge which basically requires students imbibe some a priori principles which they then apply to any information that they deem to be relevant to the topic at hand. Thus, for example, someone trained in applying a set of ideas about race or gender to everything that might be considered important might claim that knowledge of a scientific or mathematical theory that has been discovered by a white male is of no important to them, nor to anyone else who has the same identity as them; as if women or black people live beyond the laws of physics, or economics.
This is not only silly, but also damaging to students who are brainwashed into thinking that laws about reality can safely be ignored, and that ignoring such laws will enable them to have a better future. Yet the fact that such claims in the Western world are taken seriously by those who are responsible for education policy and administration and have impacted upon all levels of education is indicative of the crisis in which ideology displaces contingent knowledge.

Further, in premodern societies testimonies, stories, rituals and the like were the currency of social inclusion, today it is ideology, i.e., the acceptance of certain a priori—and unassailable—prime principles which dictate how facts are to be assessed. This is the reverse order of how genuine knowledge develops. Which is why such an approach to world-making is one that proceeds by way of the defiance rather than the understanding of the real. But learning a priori principles can be done very quickly. Likewise, it gives people, whose livelihoods, sense of spiritual purpose and self- and group-worth depend upon knowing about the world and how to improve it, a great means for saving time. Time-saving and space compression are fundamental features of modern life, which dictate our contemporary dependency upon technology, and the direction that technology takes. But it also extends to human beings and their learning, and while it is marvelous to do and know things without much effort, most of us need time to do or know anything well. And there is simply no getting around that. Our contemporary attempt to bypass the requisite time needed to gather and organise information by means of internet search engines indicates the problem of such a bypass: we are easily exposed to, and hence overwhelmed by information, we have not been trained in interpreting and do not really understand, and hence do not know how to act in conjunction with.

The same kind of simplification that applies to ideology displacing contingent knowledge is replicated in the world of cyber information by ideologues (people committed to believing that they know what matters on all important topics) identifying which information (based upon the a priori ideas of those doing the truth-monitoring) is true knowledge and which is false knowledge. Thus the paradox of living in an age where there is more information at any time in the history of the world, while there is also an attempt to control and funnel information – hence to drastically limit information – about all matter of things on a scale only anticipated by the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century. It seems that the real story of progress is that mental independence and an individual’s knowledge exist in inverse proportion to the amount of knowledge that has been discovered but is identified as too ideologically dangerous to become part of public disputation. Though the next challenge of our intellectually and morally stunted elite is to ensure that the only knowledge to be uncovered and disseminated is that which conforms to what they deem to be worthy of knowing, and hence worthy of paying people to find, teach, and defend at all costs.

Given the combination of the nature of and role played by the professional classes in the modern Western world, the fact that class membership requires being conversant with a range of ideas on all sorts of topics—”talking points”—that serve as the social glue, the complexity of the world, and the limited knowledge that even the extremely well educated person in a specific field might have, it is very understandable why the professional classes are so dependent upon the various forms of media not only providing information upon the vast array of topics which they need to be conversant with if they are to be considered people worth associating with, but also upon the “talking points” or “formulae” that represent a particular “take’ on a topic. For it is not only being conversant on the topic that matters within a group, in which no one actually knows very much about the topic other than what they have picked up from the media, but it is even more important to be able to know what the “answer” is to any given issue—e.g., eliminate coal, teach critical race theory, allow choice over women’s bodies, etc.

Given the pressures that are part and parcel of group membership and acceptance, it should be no surprise that members of the professional classes are not only largely in agreement with each other and with the media and public figures who provide the various “takes” on the topics of the day, but members of these classes see all major issues as political in nature, and they identify almost completely with the sum of political positions which they feel passionately identifies what kind of person they are. It is also not surprising that members of our professional classes have next to no desire to explore arguments that might undermine their convictions.

Likewise, when encountering someone who may have spent many years studying topics that they have come to feel strongly about based upon very cursory “information” they are not open to absorbing new information, nor considering alternative interpretative approaches which may cast that information in a different light. To expose people’s lack of information and lack of knowledge is akin to showing that because they know next to nothing, they are nothing. I am reminded of this constantly on social occasions where my more than fifty years of studying and teaching Political Science is not considered of any importance whatever if I dare to raise questions that might destabilize the strongly shared consensus and conviction of the latest issue to consume the media and the minds of my friends.

The exact same behaviour I detect in my circle of friends is identical to the behaviour I witness among intellectual colleagues. People who are specialized in areas such as English Literature, or subjects having little to do with Political Science, seem to know all that one needs to know about any political issue of the day—and as in my personal circle, they too repeat what they have picked up from their diet of news. The more adroit amongst them may scour the web, but only for those sites that share their political point of view. Their thinking is the thinking of closed mindedness—it is not that thinking does not occur; rather, their thoughts are locked in, and they share socio-political consensuses among the like-minded, and thus never face being challenged. Their thinking is on auto-pilot—they have a phrase, and explanation, a put-down for anyone who has the temerity to see things differently.

The academic work-place mostly consists of the like-minded; and the chances of getting tenure for anyone who does not go along with the consensus is increasingly zero. So, the academic work place is the last place of meeting someone who might upturn the consensus. Closed minds are vaults, and all but impossible to open. The academy is no longer the place in which one typically may access the best that has ever been thought, but rather it is the place where the prejudices and myopia of the professional classes are manufactured, and where anyone who deviates from the consensus of what ideas are to be manufactured, distributed and monitored is to be excluded.

Thus too it is symptomatic of the great globalist elite transformation that has dictated the purpose of authority, the role of knowledge in shoring up authority, and the nature of what constitutes knowledge, and to which purpose it is to be put how university administration has moved from its role of enabling the academic pursuits of teaching and learning to be unencumbered by incidental administrative tasks that are required for the day to day necessities of institutional activity to articulating, planning and managing the core values and types of knowledge which are disseminated by academic employees.

The universities and schools of the West provide the academic foot-soldiers for the administrators of global knowledge and leadership. The university administrators, like CEOs of private companies and the governments and senior appointees of the public or civil service are all implicated in advancing the same ideas that form the conversational talking-points in dinner parties, bars and restaurants wherever modern professionals gather to bond and demonstrate that they have the knowledge that illustrate that they belong to the group who knows how the world works and how it can be improved. It is the greatest Ponzi scheme that has ever existed, and trying to trace its creators to this or that secret society misses the point that it exists because all sorts of people identify with it. Unfortunately, though, like all Ponzi schemes the lack of something genuinely good ever coming from it is intrinsic to its nature and the deception at its base.

In this case, though, the deception is not even known to those who stand most to gain from it. That might be disputable, and one might make a pretty compelling case for the likes of Bill Gates, George Soros, the Rothschilds, Jeff Bezos etc. knowing what they are doing, but while they may know how they may make personal gain, I cannot see how even they will not eventually be caught up in fallouts they have not calculated for. And that is the problem with all calculative thinking when applied to the human story. To the extent that Globalism inc. has fueled fires of what may be a protracted and global period of war I find it difficult to envisage that they and/or their lineage will come out of the catastrophe unscathed.


If Descartes’s formula “I think therefore I am” is the founding principle of the modern metaphysical journey of the world and self-making, a journey in which comfort and longevity are the ends of life, and mastery over nature the means, then my experience has taught me that “I am what I think” is the belated corollary of the professional classes who are living in what Descartes had merely dreamt of.

Descartes, of course, was the original metaphysician of that project, which would come to be known as the Enlightenment—in no small part due to Descartes’ elevation of the natural light of reason as the source that enabled one to follow that method of analysis and synthesis (breaking down things into their simplest parts and reassembling on the basis of their causal connections); for it was that method which he said would lead us to become lords and masters of nature.

Although Descartes himself shied away from spelling out the social and political implications of that project, they were quickly spelled out by others who, in spite of their metaphysical differences, were also committed to breaking down experience into its constitutive mechanisms—most notably Hobbes, Spinoza and Locke—and refabricating the natural and political world according to the clarity of their ideas.

The problem with following the path of ideas was espied by that canny Scott, philosopher, and minister, Thomas Reid. He realized that the “way of ideas” (a formulation provided by Locke about the path of the enhancement of our understanding of the world) was a reductionist approach to reality that oversimplified the nature of reality and even the nature of science—Reid was every bit a Newtonian as Immanuel Kant, who can rightly be identified as the last great philosopher of the Enlightenment. But unlike Kant, Reid looked to language and social environment and circumstance, rather than philosophical ideas and principles that had been philosophically honed by someone who created abstract thought cathedrals, as providing us with vital information for making decisions about our lives.

Elsewhere I have written a rather turgid tome on what I call philosophical “idea-ism” (sic.), but here I want to speak of ideas in the more commonsensical way that is consistent with Reid’s commonsense philosophy, and the more ordinary language sense of an “idea.” And, in so far as I am curious about why people who are not mere ideologues, people who are normally sceptical (in a good way) and thoughtful about the way the world is and why it is the way it is now—now embrace claims that are not true.

Most of us, most of the time, act in the world the way we do because of our induction into its pathways and possibilities, and the capacities and the feelings we have in our participation in it and with it. Most of the time our practical engagements provide the horizon of possibilities and potentials we engage with (Martin Heidegger developed an entire philosophy around what philosophers had largely ignored because of an undue emphasis upon reflection and consciousness in our being in, and making of, the world).

However, when we converse about the state of the world, reflection is indeed important, though it invariably brings with it a horizon of tacit/unconsciously accepted commitments, appeals and consensuses—and the question of the quality of reflection is bound up with the quality of the evidence we have in making our judgments and claims. Vico had observed that philosophy was a way of thinking whose seeds were originally institutionally instantiated by practices that had evolved in the assembly/“law court.”

Once we seek to think about the world as such, we rarely retain the theoretical disposition—a disposition that, as the original Greek term theoria indicates, has also the vantage point gained by a seating arrangement which enables us to see the whole of an action, as opposed to the limited line of sight which the actor himself has at his disposal. Life, though, is neither a court of law nor a play, and our reflective disposition is rarely of such a quality that we see “clear and distinct ideas” (the way and desiderata) for the natural light of reason building its new world.

What constitutes the relevant ideas for a narrative will very much depend upon what kind of claims, and hence what kind of narrative one is making. Kant famously took the traditional philosophical trinity of the good, the true and the beautiful and made a powerful case for distinguishing between different kinds of judgment claims—experiential, moral and aesthetic—on the basis of their distinct underlying (a priori) preconditions. Though G.W.F. Hegel would swiftly expose some of the problems with Kant’s artificial application of too strict a severance between the three. Hegel also rightly emphasized that ultimately what we know about anything at all is both a social and historical, and institutional process, commencing with the language we use to depict and communicate, so that we may explore further into potentials and hidden layers of processes and aspects of the logos of phenomena and its spirit.

Nevertheless, it is true that if we are dealing with an event, it would be a mistake to construe the various kinds of judgments we deploy in dealing with its different aspects and our responses to it, as if they were identical to how we might appraise phenomena of the type required for natural science claims (as would be appropriate for claims about the future of the climate). When it comes to political and social facts or matters, we are speaking of facts, albeit facts in which intentionality and an accompanying horizon of background circumstances and characteristics—themselves facts of a sort—are absolutely intrinsic to the facts themselves. That is, we are dealing with a situation in which the meaning really matters. And hence we have to take into account that facts are never stand-alone items, but aspects of larger meaning-providing fact-blocks.

Unfortunately, many commentators, including academic ones, who see themselves as gatekeepers of meaning, believe that the “philosophy” they use to depict the meaning of an event itself provides an express route to knowing all the essential facts of any phenomenon that falls within their area of “expertise.” In this way they let philosophy do the work that only contingent knowledge, and attention to the kinds of (methodical) questions that need to be posed to the phenomena can satisfactorily do. Indeed, acting thus, they substitute their own ideas and pseudo-reality for the reality they are supposed to be clarifying. Their ideas may be clearer and more distinct than a more contingent-based analysis would provide, thanks to their deployment of certain moral ideas and classifiers identifying who is right or wrong, guilty or innocent, but it is ultimately not doing anything other than misleading people about the nature of the event. And it is also shoring up the status of the commentator who ostensibly has identified who is virtuous and who is guilty—clambering on board of the good ship “Leadership.”

In the case of the Ukraine war, there is no end to commentators who vie to identify the innocent and the guilty— though the answer is simple because it has been predetermined: Putin/ Russia: guilty; Zelensky/ Ukraine: innocent.

But let us pause upon facts as such before addressing the specific facts that are germane to the terrible event taking place in Ukraine now. For at the moment, Western media and political leaders have dictated which ideas matter when it comes to discussing the war—thus RT news has been vanished from YouTube, while news outlets scream out Putin’s malevolence and guilt, Russia’s cruelty, (non-ethnically Rus) Ukrainian bravery, Russian false flags, Zelensky’s honorableness, etc.

The prime facts upon which subsequent facts informing us about an event are mounted are rarely obvious to most people’s “knowledge” of world historic events—were that not the case historians would shut up shop, and not persist in endlessly trying to find one more prime fact that “sets the record straight.” Having limited knowledge about the facts of an event is inevitable, but it is also the limitation of the facts that we are aware of that make it very easy to jump to conclusions about the causes and moral nature of an event in which we identify with people we recognize as being more like our good selves.

Concomitantly, our limited knowledge is typically the result of ignorance of prime or foundational facts. That ignorance may simply be due to the obscure nature of a prime fact- and the obscurity may itself be due to simply not looking closely enough into the details of a situation and paying attention to the weight of a particular deed. But prime facts may also be shrouded in secrecy and lies as well as ignorance. Othello is possibly the greatest literary example of the tragic nature of believing a lie. There are so many recent examples of the deliberate concealment of or false fabrication of facts that have political importance one hardly knows where to begin: but Iraq’s possession of mass destruction is one of them which will forever be a reminder of the nature not only of the incompetence but dishonesty of the United States government and military in the post-Cold War period.

Another prime fact that is pertinent to United States and Russian diplomacy, and to why Russia has very good grounds not to trust the United States, is the support that the United States had given to Chechen jihadists, thus fueling the Chechen war and terrorist acts against Russia. In that case, the prime fact of CIA involvement in the war was simply concealed from, rather than lied about to the Western public.

The concealment of military support for jihadists and Al-Qaeda and affiliated terrorist groups against the Assad government by the United States is also relevant to why the Syrian government has forged stronger ties with Russia, and why, yet again Russia cannot ignore the fact that the United States is deliberately fueling jihadist forces destabilizing governments with closer geopolitical interests and ties to Russia.

The recent attempted coup in Kazakhstan, and, almost simultaneous attempt to assassinate the subsequently ousted Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan are also facts that most supporters of the United States in its proxy war with Russia are ignorant of, or simply do not see as relevant in condemning Russia’s decision to secure its own strategic interest—as if no other governments other than those the United States support have legitimate strategic interests. The seemingly haphazard application of moral principles is invariably the result of people thinking that their interest is the interest of humanity or the public at large. Such hubris is the inevitable accompaniment of people identifying with what they think they know, whilst not bothering to dig deeper into prime facts that once uncovered may leave them in the mud where they think only those beneath them morally flounder.

Every “whodunnit” or thriller with a twist is based upon the concealment of a foundational fact which provides the key for discerning what information one has picked up matters. For me, the greatest literary whodunnit is Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov. Everything points to Dmitri Karamazov killing his father—indeed so cleverly does Dostoevsky draw the picture of Dmitri’s guilt that he counts on no reader thinking that any reasonable person could have the slightest doubt of Dmitri’s guilt (without at least being pulled by Dostoevsky’s subtle depiction of Dmitri as a man with all the motive and capacity to kill his father, but with some concealed characteristic within himself, a mere memory of kindness from his childhood, a memory that almost everyone but the most astute men of spirit, would simply not lend any importance to, that would draw him back from the deed).

Thus too, Dostoevsky spends an interminable amount of time in the depiction of Dmitri’s trial, repeating all the essential points, so that no reader might miss the point. But, of course, Dmitri was not guilty. One all important-fact was unknown, and it only belatedly comes light. But as it does so, all the other facts that had indicated the guilt of a man evaporate into nothingness.

In Notes from the Underground, Dostoevsky had used the form of the novel to argue the case that human beings are not reasonable creatures. In the Brothers Karamazov, he developed the point that our reason easily leads us astray, because we commonly base our judgments on facts mounted upon other facts which we are unaware of and whose relevance we ignore.

It is the people who are most accustomed to using their powers of reasoning about the way of the world, who are most likely to succumb to the temptation of mounting facts upon non-foundational facts, after making an initial but wrong decision about which facts should provide the basic foundation—but more often these are only associations upon associations (for association-making is the bread-and-butter of the intellectual).
If ordinary professionals feel compelled to repeat what they have been informed about by journalists, or professors who repeat to journalists the ideas that have been fed to them by journalists (with a dash of intellectual sauce to add a special authoritativeness to whatever is being said), then intellectuals as a class invariably feel compelled (I know I am guilty as charged) to write about what they think they know.

Increasingly our intellectuals are indistinguishable from journalists—and their credo might well be, “I Am What Someone Says I Should Think.” Indeed, were that not the case, then the academy as a whole would not be the breeding ground of intellectual conformity and compliance with the vision and mission statements provided by Global Inc.


Everywhere I turn today, I am confronted by people who are absolutely certain that they understand the purpose and reason behind the war in Ukraine—Putin’s personality meets the Russian soul in the first step of Russia’s conquest of the world, an ambition motivated by the “fact” that one of the richest men in the world and his rich friends can have even more wealth and power—maniacal laughter, stage right. This kind of sounds like Hitler’s modus operandi (though funnily enough I don’t think I have ever heard people say that Hitler did it for the money—and, come to think of it, they don’t say that about old Uncle Joe, either—so Putin must be even worse than those two!).

But I hear people in my “educated” social circle say this without any hint of doubt that they may be talking nonsense—and yet, I cannot open a newspaper, or turn on the news without hearing the same thing. If it is an academic saying it, it is said with a little more preening pomposity and affectation, and usually filmed with a towering bookcase as a background, lending the formidable weight of “learning” to a prejudice based upon a failure to ask the right questions.

And yet, how dare anyone raise the matter of prime or foundational facts amidst the relentless images of suffering? What monster could not accept “our” diagnosis, and hence the legitimacy of training troops way back before the event, and supplying weapons, and potentially destroying the economy and livelihoods of millions of those evil Russians, who are guilty of having Putin as their president and not having the guts to overthrow him? Of course, most of the people on the news, at the universities and at my dinner parties, if they were Russian, would be walking straight into the Kremlin to sort it out with mad bad Vlad. Boy, they just wanted to assassinate Don, but Vlad is going to get a real pasting before they are ready to finish him off.

With respect to those images from Ukraine coming out on mainstream media—I assume some, perhaps most, must be real. Though I note this: in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the US government tried its best to prevent any images coming out of the war that would show the invading forces in a bad light (though the aerial fireworks of the first Iraq war remain indelibly imprinted on my brain). But with the (Western) Ukrainians, there seems to be a camera to capture every bit of inhumanity perpetrated by the Russians.

And in the West, every image we receive of the war is constructed to confirm that one side is guilty of barbarism and inhumanity, while the other is ever brave and decent and good. I can only ask, is one really using one’s intelligence if one believes that one side in this conflict always acts humanely and wisely and nobly, and the other not? Is one using one’s intelligence if one is satisfied with the explanation that Russia has risked so many lives, and so much of the nation’s wealth without provocation?

I think the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were disasters in every which way, but I would not for the life of me think that anyone who traced their origin purely on the basis of George Bush Jr’s psychotic personality, or money grabbing by him and his mates, or US evil imperialism were doing much of a job as an international relations analyst.

The US had its reasons—they may have been bad reasons, which I think was the case, but they had them. But for the most part Western media simply refuses to take Russia’s reason for the invasion seriously. In part, that is because to do so would require actually heeding facts in which the entire rationale for what is a de facto US/NATO led proxy war—one which involves all manner of support, asset seizure, sanctions, censorship etc. without any actual declaration of war – would collapse. But the entire purpose of the bombardment of images of suffering by non-ethnically Russian Ukrainians seems to be to ensure that people feel so firmly convinced of Russia’s evil, that they do not have minds sufficiently open to investigate other facts.

If, however, one took the time to watch Patrick Lancaster’s reports from the Donbas one would have to accept the fact that exactly kind of horror is being inflicted upon Ukrainians, who are Russian first language speakers, and this has been the case for eight years, and it had received only the scantest attention from Western media. But the tacit moral a priorism that triggers the Western mind is one which that makes it obscene or callous to compare evil with evil. The evil is all Russia’s, or more pointedly Putin’s. But such moral framing as effective as it is as propaganda, and as effective as it is for dictating how people in conversation or in a public forum should speak or respond about the event is simply a displacement that is based upon a closed Western media intent on keeping the minds of people in the West closed.

Because the minds of the media audience in the West have already been shaped and largely made up prior to the war about who the goodies and baddies are, that there is no need for Western media outlets to apply even basic techniques of authentication to witness claims, “sets” within the theater of war, or footage they receive about the war. For some of the footage from the war on the Ukrainian side is purely fabricated; and I recommend Gonzalo Lira’s analysis of the footage of the Bucha massacre [which has been banned by Youtube but is available here and here]. Lira is one of a couple of independent Western journalists who has been reporting the war from inside Ukraine. There may well be Russian fabricated images as well, but not being able to trust main stream reporters to do an impartial job of analysis means I simply have no way of knowing anymore when these reporters are telling the truth. There are also examples of real images where the identity of the perpetrators has been changed to fit the required narrative of Ukrainian bravery versus Russian brutality. But to know that one would have to start looking at people who demonstrate the fakery of the images, or the real perpetrators of a war crime.

When it comes to war crimes, it is supposedly perfectly reasonable and hence not a violation of the Geneva Convention for Ukrainian citizens to be compelled to bear arms in the conflict. But let’s not talk about Ukrainian war crimes; “fact-checkers” quickly establish that all those who have been let out of prison and given arms or groups, rounded up to fight, are “volunteers.”

Once upon a time journalists for major news outlets used to question stories that smelled funny—but those days are long gone, and the academic commentariat are only too happy to slot such “fact-checked” facts into their factually-based narrations about Putin’s guilt. What matters is how many repeat the same narrative. The modus operandi of the fabrication of “truth” was established long before this war. But now it is treasonous to ask questions about the role of the United States in this proxy war in which Western Ukrainians are but cannon fodder. That the West simultaneously reports upon the massive number of Ukrainian refugees whilst also reporting on the bravery of Ukrainians fighting to the death for their freedom is suggestive of misinformation (a lie) concerning the degree of Ukrainian national unity which is simply not there. Another concealed prime fact is that Ukraine has been in a civil war for eight years. It has largely been covered over by the lie that the Maidan was something hailed by almost all Ukrainians who were so fed up with the pro-Russian President Yanukovych that they spontaneously took to the street to vent their anger. Yes, there was a large opposition – just as there is large opposition to any regime in any Western democracy. But the mechanisms of democracy count for nothing in the Western media any more once their corporate owners and their employees agree about overthrowing a democratically elected government.

There are also lies by omission – and one big whopper by omission is the general failure of the Western media and politicians to bother mentioning the widespread corruption of the Ukrainian political class from its post-Soviet origin to Zelensky himself. There was also the failure to mention the role of the United States, and anti-Putin oligarchs and their interest in providing resources for the Maidan. And, of course, the violence of ultra-nationalist, ethnic militias (the neo-Nazis) against (Russo-)Ukrainians, and the extent of the leverage and institutional power they represent (something that is not uncovered if one solely focuses upon their negligible parliamentary representation, which is only indicative of outright public support, which is not the issue at all).

There is also the failure to seriously examine the case for such an overwhelming number of Russo-Ukrainians in Crimea to seek and vote for independence – we are meant to believe it is merely an “invasion” by Russia. Similarly, I don’t know anyone personally who knows why the overwhelming majority of people in Donetsk and Luhansk want to be autonomous regions, and why they are so desperate to be protected from government and militia forces attacking them. Then there is the failure to examine the prime facts involved in the Minsk Agreements—see Jacques Braud for more details (here and here).

There has, in sum, been an enormous amount of prime fact concealment if not outright fabrication in the war. And I find it somewhat incredulous that people who do not bother with such prime facts think their opinion on the war is anything more than prejudice and worth paying any attention to. But that, as I said earlier, is the problem with the Western know-all mentality which is but a thought cathedral of a priorisms or sheer ideology.

The combination of outright censorship, denunciation and moral belittlement of journalists who introduce information that is said to be “enemy propaganda” means that most people I know and read are completely ignorant of these alternative sources. That is to say there is plenty of information and plenty of points of view which are well and truly hidden from the general public’s ken.

It is also the case that well-educated people, when it comes to Russia and Vladimir Putin, are now perfectly happy to trust the same journalists who have regularly propagated a great litany of falsehoods (from misinformation to disinformation to mere mangling of information to destruction of people’s livelihoods and reputations). Why such trust in the case of Ukraine?

I can only answer that they are happy with what they think they know. They shouldn’t be, but they are. When I say they shouldn’t be, allow me to be theological for a moment. Those of us within the ideas-professions have been called upon to profess the truth as we know it. But in so far as we are weak vessels with little intelligence, our professional calling also requires us to be aware of our ignorance. Such a concession is our saving grace, for it also means that our knowledge will always be partial, and we will invariably err. Hence while we are called upon to explore and investigate and present our findings it is essential if we are to do our jobs right to present our information as provisional. Far from being leaders and know-alls in the discovery and dissemination of information, we must labour humbly trying to understand more and communicating what little we know in the manner of a participant in a collective and ongoing dialogue.

Academics and intellectuals, in other words, are akin to the jurors of the trial of Dmitri Karamazov; we are in the position of trying to make sense of the evidence before us; but if evidence, i.e., a prime fact heretofore hidden is uncovered which makes the rest of the evidence collapse, then we should be resolute in following the truth and being grateful that we have been rescued from a great error. We move from error to error constantly. On those rare occasions we stumble upon some really important truths that matter are moments more due to God’s grace, or, for those who wish to free themselves from all talk of gods, sheer good fortune, than our ability.
Sadly, though, my experience of those who work in service to ideas forget their higher duty to the higher power which places ideas in their proper context within life. Thus, my observation that academics and academically trained professionals are amongst the least likely people I have ever met to admit they are wrong and to change their mind.

Again, observed from my experience as university student and professor, the overwhelming majority of people who teach and study the Humanities at the universities have made up their minds on all important socially and politically essential issues by the time they have turned twenty (usually earlier). There are those who have a crisis of confidence in their ideological leanings, and turn the other way; but they are rare enough.

Much rarer, and I am grateful to a set of circumstances that allowed me to fall into this group, there are those who come to break not only with an ideological position but an attachment to the kind of abstractions that form the woof and warp of academic work which forces one to be more resolute in focus in trying to understand human experience, rather than a philosophy or theory.

The Humanities part of the academy is largely held together by ideologically or ideationally like-minded groups: whether liberal, Marxist, feminists, post-structuralists, critical race theorists, post-colonialists, or, the far more marginal groups like the Straussians, Girardians, etc. matters little, because such group-membership involves a betrayal of one’s calling, which is to follow truth wherever it might lead, and to stand up and profess that truth. That is a lonely path; and it is not a way to secure prestigious publishers, or tenure, or friends within the profession and who can help you get ahead.

The one benefit of academia is that you can reach the best and brightest of students who are hungry for the same thing you are and who will tarry a while with you as you follow your path. Apart from some students, I have met very few solitary travelers on their search to have a better picture about the ways and whys of the world and humanity. And the ones I have met are rarely working within a university.

The fact that few tread this path may well be why my academic friends are so willing to think they know what they don’t know and to accept as facts reportage that lacks credibility. I might be wrong about this; it may just be laziness, or pride, a willingness to show their academic friends that though they cannot agree on some things they are not such monsters that they would disagree on something as important as the global climate catastrophe, or the invasion of the world by an ex-KGB agent.

What is indisputable is that, for my part, if there were compelling proof, I would gladly accept the truth that the war in Ukraine is due to unprovoked aggression by Russia; that it is but the first domino of a grand plan by Russia and China; and that the United States, Europe and other Western countries are within their rights to fight a proxy war against Russia, and to seize Russian assets and reconfigure the world’s financial system in order to win this war, because it will not only stop World War III from starting, but also preserve the free world.

But there is no longer a free world to preserve, nor any compelling proof to convince me of that position– and if proof there be, it is certainly not to be found in lurid biographies that merely repeat the unsubstantiated stories that Putin’s many enemies have routinely provided to the press (see John Helmer’s blogs for more information regarding some of the more well-known ones). Moreover, those who denounce Russia’s invasion invariably do what I find morally and intellectually repellant: they must absolve the West and NATO and the Zelensky government, and Ukrainian oligarchs, and Russian anti-Putin oligarchs in exile, and Western oligarchs with ambitions to own Syrian and Russian oil, and the representatives of Globalist Inc. who have taken it upon themselves to define who and what the international order is and how we all must live and accept as truth what they say is the “truth.”

At the very least any compelling argument justifying the West’s proxy war against Russia would require disproving—that the US and NATO have had a long-term plan to bring regime change to Russia; that the Maidan was part of that strategy; that the lie about official Russian interference in the US election of 2016 was a lie; that successive Ukrainian governments since the Maidan have been responsible for the persecution and mass slaughter of Russian first-language speaking Ukrainians, and the bombing and shelling of their homes and villages; that various players, from the President and his son, and other members (in both political sides) of the American government have had financial interests that have contributed to the corrupt nature of the Ukrainian government, and exacerbated conflict in Ukraine; that the Ukrainian government had not been aggressively building up its troops to finally “take back” the Donbas before Russia’s invasion; that Russia’s strategic objective is not the complete destruction of Ukraine, but demilitarization and de-Nazification. On this last point, it would also be nice for anyone arguing the West’s case against Russia to at least have a rudimentary understanding of military theory so that they might have some basic understanding of the tactics of Russia’s military operation.

They might also take the time to investigate whether President Zelensky has truly sought to broker peace with Russia, and show that he is not beholden to Ukrainian and anti-Putin-Russian oligarchs, and ethnic militias. At the moment he is screaming that Russia is going to start a nuclear war if the West does not stop him. Really? Why would Putin not just do what the US did to Baghdad? (See the above point regarding Russia’s tactics.) And such a person might also demonstrate how the United States has brought peace and prosperity to any region that it destabilizes, especially since the end of the Cold War. Recently, I saw an interview with Tony Blair by a journalist working for the Economist—for Blair Iraq is a success story. Some claims are so bereft of any connection to reality that to even bother to engage with them leaves one as covered in mud as if one were wrestling with a pig. But Blair is also symptomatic of a wide-spread cast-of-mind, in the West that is as woefully misinformed about Putin and Russia, as it is unmoved by facts about the basics of international diplomacy and the scale of mass murder and the sheer social wreckage that the United States has created in its attempt to fabricate and then lead a unipolar world into a new world order.

Apart from Jacques Baud, see his two articles in this magazine (here and here), who really knows what he is talking about when it comes to Ukraine and NATO and the War, and the blogs and writings of John Helmer, I strongly recommend tuning to Alex Thomson—or any of the other podcasts and figures in my article of last month.

When I see academic friends of mine convincingly refute the insights of such people who really know what they are talking about, I will gladly change my mind. In the meantime, I only wish that those whose livelihoods have been in the groves of the institution founded by Plato would follow in the way of his teacher and founder of philosophy proper—by starting from the position of knowing that they don’t know, instead of identifying with and repeating and expanding upon what someone else says who also does not know (or worse, prefers to conceal).

The men of light hoped for too much of human beings, and claimed too much about what they know and could know. In doing that they contributed to previously unimagined evils – most notably the sheer scale of technologies of destruction that science enables, and the totalitarian ideologies which legitimate mass killing.

I have all manner of reservations about the writings of Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno (The Authoritarian Personality is truly abysmal)—especially their ignorance about economics and international relations, and a reliance upon Marx that they think offers them a cloud-like vantage point from which they are able to break down the social world into the two dominant social types, viz., oppressor and oppressed. In doing this, they also helped prepare numerous foot-soldiers for Globalism Inc.—which is, inter alia, the perfect firm for employing the saviours of the oppressed, so that a great new technocratic tier of wealth and status will exist purely to ensure that oppression will never occur again: life will be sheer pleasure and complete virtue, at least for those who decide who may live, reproduce, be employed, and speak on the topics, which they, as funders and directors of the “science” and the “good,” deem permissible. All we will have to do to not be oppressed is give our hearts, minds and souls over to those who will think for us, and lead us.

But I do concur with them that the Enlightenment carries its antithesis within its development, and the best we can do against the totalising global corporatist administration reality of our times is speak out against the mental closure rapidly befalling the West. Refusing to accept the lies about the war in the Ukraine is the least someone can do who would like our political class to become skilled in the creation of peace, rather than continue in the bungles of war and the spreading of international chaos that comes from incompetence, and the same lack of basic human decency that has created the same moral chaos that exists today in pretty well every Western nation. No, that does not mean I think China and Russia do not have their own problems—but unlike us, their leaders did not have the social-economic- capital supplied by multiple generations who fought for and achieved great liberty which is now being squandered in reckless geopolitical adventurism and the domestic suppression of freedom, for the sake of vapid abstractions, divisive identities, and infantile and self-indulgent priorities and values. When someone can show me that going to war with Russia might somehow solve these problems, I might take them seriously. For now, though, I see the refrain that Putin and Russia are simply evil as but one more symptom of the West’s loss of mind.

Wayne Cristaudo is a philosopher, author, and educator, who has published over a dozen books.

Featured image: “The End of the War,” by Géza Faragó; painted in 1918.

The Russia-Ukraine Conflict And The Tumult Of Our Time

1. Is Operation Z (The Invasion Of Ukraine) Explicable By “Putin Is Evil?”

I cannot agree with what seems to be the dominant explanation in the West that the Russian invasion of Ukraine occurred because Putin is evil. The ‘explanation’ is usually accompanied by claims that Putin is a megalomaniac and a Russian criminal; that his rulership lacks all legitimacy; that Ukrainians are the victims of his overriding ambition to restore Russia’s imperial place in the world; and that Putin is pushing the world to the brink of a third world war and hence must be stopped.

“What are we going to do about Putin?” as an old friend, in her late sixties, full of existential distress and brimming with moral fervor, exclaimed at a recent lunch. The same sentiments have also been repeated by scholars I admire deeply and have often found common cause with, in this very magazine. Thus, in an email chain I am part of, a historian, whom I consider one of the finest of our times, wrote in support of Ryszard Legutko’s condemnation of Putin in the European Parliament that he spoke “for all of us.” Given that I have recently written very enthusiastically on Legutko’s book on freedom here in the Postil, as well as having written an open letter condemning his appalling treatment at the hands of his fellow colleagues and students at his university, I wish that I did see things like him. But I cannot unsee what I see, and what I see comes from my readings and thought gathered over my adult life as a university teacher, where amongst other things, I taught International Relations.

Likewise, the very friend who introduced me to the Postil, and whose writings I have also applauded in these pages, Zbigniew Janowski, sent me his essay, “Ukraine And The West’s National Interest,” about the Ukraine war for comment. That and the request by another friend to share my take on this war have led me to set out my considerations.

War today is mass death, and horrific suffering, but I find all of the above “diagnosis,” to put it mildly, not only lacking in analytical seriousness but contributing to the mindset that has cried out in support of what—each and every time—have turned out to be disastrous military interventions which have only added chaos in regions which were bad enough before the toppling of regimes said to be guilty of “killing their own people”—a turn of phrase that people utter with such seriousness, as if its very formulation gives the situation a special kind of moral significance that we might otherwise be silly enough to conflate with any other kind of mass killing.

Thus, it is now that the people wanting to line up to morally address this geopolitical tragedy—why I formulate it thus shall become evident—have mostly been silent on Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Many, though far from all, who want NATO to “teach Putin a lesson” (said at the same lunch, where the woman’s husband squared up, “Putin is a bully who must be taught a lesson”) had also supported the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. I confess to having been ambivalent back then—in the case of Iraq, at least when it seemed that the CIA had definite proof about the WMD’s; and now seeing I was utterly wrong to believe that these operations were, at best, anything more than massive strategic blunders (leaving aside the whole “blood for oil” dimensions) that made things far worse than they were—and has only highlighted the deficiencies of the armed forces of the West.

This “essay”—if essay it be—is really a collection of considerations that bring together aspects of the tumult of the times which most would think irrelevant—and they are certainly irrelevant to the narrative-thematics mentioned above—but which for me are critical for any serious response to the war. It is a response that eschews the search for a single cause—because, like everything historically important, such searches are as futile as they are distracting and wrong-headed. That means that it is also not a search for moral culpability as such—for as is very evident to me and as I shall lay out, there is plenty of culpability to go around—though it does seem that plenty of people, including journalists, are either ignorant of, or silent about, all matter of circumstances and players that are pertinent to the disaster of this war. Geopolitical questions are never adequately answered by “He did it!” And yes of course Putin ordered the invasion. But the question that must always be posed to an event is: How has the “who” come to be doing the “what?” And what exactly does the “what” involve?

My observations and concerns are also not the response of a specialist on Ukrainian or Russian politics—I read neither language. Though area specialists are not always very good guides to anything—how many Sovietologists foresaw the end of the USSR? What I think is also not from my own first-hand experience on the ground, but it comes from open sources, some of which are provided by first-hand witnesses to the event taking place—even though it is ever more difficult to dig up information, as the internet has become increasingly algorithmically colonized by those who think they should dictate what is genuine information and what is misinformation—as if they would know.

Not only do I have no stake in thinking what I think, but I would really like to be convinced that I am not seeing clearly, that I am missing some essential evidence that would make me change my mind—as opposed to seeing that what people are presenting as evidence/facts are an admixture of dubious psycho-politics, and the ham-fisted application by analogy of historical facts to contemporary contingencies which require consideration of other historical and geopolitical facts rather than reminisces about the Russian empire and the “Russian soul,” and appeals to abstract moral and political ideals that have nothing to do with these or any other circumstances or characters.

I am well aware that many will just think that I and others who see things like me are moral pariahs or conspiracy theorists, and stooges of the evil Vladimir Putin—but the idea that someone who is trying to understand something and who disagrees with a particular diagnosis is a mere puppet of someone else (in this case Putin), and that he is spreading misinformation, and should be censored or denounced, is a symptom of what we have lost in the West—our minds along with our souls. It is much more comfortable to think that this issue is a clear-cut case of good and evil, and we all need to sing along with the rousing, feel-good moral crescendos of denunciation that are taking place wherever friends meet for a meal or drink.

Let me also say that what I present below is indicative not only of a disagreement I have with political “friends,” but also with people whose views I generally consider utterly stupid and contemptible and who are also all yelling to the rooftops that Putin is evil, and Zelensky a hero or saint.

Such people include the US triumvirate (Biden, Harris, Pelosi) who are the “leaders” of the “free world;” and the owners of the media/tech universe; and the ant-like army of mindless academicians and journalists who constitute the Greek chorus to those in power.

It is certainly possible to agree with scoundrels and imbeciles because they may be correct on a particular issue; but in the tumult of our times. it is noteworthy that almost every issue of importance is a matter of life and death, and ends up being one more reason to sort out those who are “enemies” of humankind from the self-proclaimed good, the true and the beautiful. I guess that I must be an enemy of humankind (on multiple fronts) because I hesitate to believe any of the things that have enabled the technocratic global elite. And it is fairly obvious that no matter what the crisis, it is pretty well the same bevy of benignly-beaming countenances who all know how to set us right: ranging from the benign philanthropic crew patenting vaccines like Bill Gates, or hedge fund meddlers in the political fate of nations like George Soros, or the sweat-shirted “geniacs” (I know I made that word up but it fits) at the helm of the platforms of global communication and censorship, those royal founts-of-wisdom and virtue, Charlie, Harry and Meghan, and the rest of the good, true and beautiful crew of pied pipers, court jesters, and acrobats, to the glum-drum-hum-drum-dumb-dumb ring-a-ding-zing-a-ling fun-loving types (imagine a group so interesting and hip that Klauss Schwab is their role model, and whose best bet for getting laid is attending a Davos meeting ). This last lot may seem to be relatively innocuous in the greater scheme of things, with their grey suits and with their blurred pasty faces, and clear blue-sky minds. But they are responsible for enough hot air to make us wonder if there really is another thirty years before we all burn to death, not to mention their devastating destruction of the world’s forests so they can print up their detailed plans. You got to hand it to them, though, they have come up with perfect their plan of ridding the planet of six billion people—they are going to bore everyone to death. I confess the above lot are the real reason I can’t get into Darwin’s theory of evolution.

As much as the whole gang in a sane world would be players in some Aristophanean farce, we are living in a Western cold civil war and issues that people generally treat as separate are not separate at all. For while the issues that cause division vary from climate to biology to virology, the sociology of race, ethnicity, to political theology and to domestic politics and geopolitics—the pitch and consequence is the same: families and friends, classes and nations turn against each other with ferocity; and the West is in a phase of ideological divisiveness, reminiscent of the political chaos in the post-First World War period. Putin cannot be blamed for any of this. In this civil war, the technocratic lords and their minions are winning in the West (I am sure though that their victory though will be pyrrhic). There are plenty of indications that the “glorious future” (of Western developed societies) will be one of total surveillance. All matters, from climate to environmental issues, to everything social, political, and economic will be in the hands and minds of specialists.

Thinkers of the left (Marcuse in One Dimensional Man) and the right (Heidegger in too many places to mention) envisaged and warned against this almost a century ago. Now one does not need to be a philosopher to make sense of the future, as it takes shape before our eyes, and we witness the transformation of politics into the mere administration of things, including humanity, as Saint-Simon initially formulated it. Food, water and air—all of life—become the “things” to be treated as part of one great calculable planning and trading system by the global oligarchs, political elite and technocrats working on behalf of their version of the good of human kind.

These considerations are neither fanciful, nor off-point. On the contrary, the idea that what is happening in Ukraine can even be remotely considered apart from what else is happening in the Western world strikes me as mad—or, in less polemic terms, methodologically deficient.

2. The Bigger Picture, Or The Great Contestation Of Our Time

The political contestation today that matters in the Western world, and thereby impacts upon the entire planet—and the only one that is really about making the future—is between those who are with a program of global leadership and compliance to the narratives of rights, sustainability, censorship, population control, and the complete technocratization of life, and those who oppose it. The lines of division are not lines that most people are even conscious of (which is typical of people in a phase of an event whose meaning is yet to become known even to the inside players—i.e., the makers of it). But in our age of crisis building upon crisis, the lines always come down to more or less the same people, providing the same methods, for the same kinds of solutions—and all based in moral principles that are ostensibly and fortuitously congruent with “the science,” and which will supposedly lead to a more equal and emancipate world (even though they actually lead to a world of greater conformity and compliance, greater censorship and control and an unprecedented scale of inequality). On this last point, consider how Western COVID policies have impacted on the economies of impoverished countries.

The Ukraine war is one more component of an assemblage of a technocratic globalist world outlook that has multiple open organs of articulation and instantiation. This outlook is widely publicized and broadly crafted. It is not a conspiracy, if one means that there is a plan that is hatched secretly and well executed. The plan—and the vocabulary in which it is formulated—is publicly aired in multiple forums from the UN to the World Economic Forum, from corporate CEOs to NGOs, from newspapers and television stations, and in university and primary school class-rooms.

If, however, one means that a group of players seeks to impose their will upon others to control the direction of resources and the organization and administration of life is a conspiracy—stated thus, then all politics is a conspiracy. Those who believe that “the science,” and hence a technocratic elite, are both necessary to solve the problems of the species and the planet then have to accept that the consequences of implementation are and will be extremely violent. It is very understandable why people think that population control, green energy, universal income etc. are very good outcomes, just as it is very understandable why peasants and workers in Russia and China thought that the solution of communism would be a very good thing. The problem with their position is not only what the world will be like if it arrives to where it is being led (see above), but the horrific costs involved in getting from this world to that future “world.” Those who are challenging this globalist vision believe that this arrival can only be achieved by a level of destruction, and domination that will make the totalitarianism of the twentieth century seem but a prelude to a greater horror.

The “to come” is the messianic formulation that a number of philosophers have used to invoke this future, which will ostensibly emancipate every oppressed group. It is just a fancy name for what Marxists-Leninist used to call “the glorious future” and the “New Man.” Its greatest obstacle is not (as endlessly repeated) the privilege and prejudices of dominators who ideologically indoctrinate the dominated—but traditions which give most people a thicker identity than the thinner ones of race, ethnicity (the very issue that has been the tinderbox in Ukraine), gender, sexuality—all distorted and self-serving ideas of intellectuals who advocate the globalist “view” of emancipation and personhood. The victims of these ideas are primarily the working classes.

Amongst the intelligentsia, it is a tiny and insignificant group of outcasts who are coming to see that any allegiances to the old alliances of left and right (liberal-conservative) have not the slightest relevance at all—because states, corporations and NGOs are equally culpable, being fully integrated into the program, which is (to use a term of that Parisian enthusiast of “nomad thinking,” Gilles Deleuze) rhizomic in its “logic” and evolution, rather than arboreal. This program is a contagion in which the makers of “the future” act in concert, without even realizing what it is that they are making or what the program even is. This too is simply the way events generally transpire, and how we all live, i.e., mostly unaware of what we are doing whilst we do it. It is global in the variety of interests, ideological preferences and types of people that are drawn into its epicentre.

Those who are being drawn in, come from every corner of the globe, and one should not underestimate the attractive “goods” that are promised—prosperity, which given the technological potential unlocked by the fusion of global forces, resources and techniques, enable the chosen ones to live as gods (no wonder the dream is to find technologies to defeat not only sickness but death itself), and pleasure, including the most intense sexual pleasures and array of pleasurable possibilities (the most widely cited philosopher of our time, Michel Foucault, was both prophet and avatar of this new “higher” type).

In most traditional societies those who seek to live their lives pursuing such pleasures have been either outlawed outright, though mostly left to seek their pleasures in hidden, draped and private spaces. But to fabricate entire life identities around a sexual act or preference, so that it becomes a means for the complete overturning of traditional institutions and the touchstone of value is insane, not least because it cannot create the same kinds of sacrificial bonds of solidarity that enable societies to persist over long period of times.

Lest anyone think I am overstating the significance of sexual identity politics, consider the public head of MI6, who came out saying at the very beginning of the Ukraine war that the real difference between Russia and the West is to be seen in how they respectively respond to LGBTQ rights.

Like pretty well every political leader in the non-Western world, not to mention the Islamic world (is it Islamophobic to mention that rainbow flags do not fly atop government buildings in Islamic countries?), Putin does not want to allow sexual identity/diversity politics to flourish in Russia; and it is one reason he is hated so much by liberals in the Western world.

I am reminded of a book I once reviewed, God in the Tumult of the Global Square, where the authors are completely flummoxed by the fact that the Russian Orthodox contingent were not on board with the other delegates at an interfaith conference that denounced critics of gay clerics—but the fact was that the Russians simply valued the importance of traditional sexual values in social formation more than individual sexual orientation, rights and choices. To think that Putin cares about private homosexual acts, because he is a nasty/pasty homophobe and who encourages the persecution of gay people, is to either be willfully misleading or to fail to see the very different point that Putin has made very clear in a number of speeches: Western sexual (and all styles of identity) politics is destructive to the traditions of Church and family; and after some seventy years of communist social destruction and another ten or so years of mayhem, Putin—and his support base—will do all in their power to resist what they see as a Western trojan horse.

With respect to the role of sexual identity politics in the dismantling and reconstruction of social institutions—and hence what the West now stands for—it is significant that the argument in favour of decriminalisation of homosexuality was based upon the sanctity of privacy. Had the matter of sexual preference and pleasure been solely a matter of private concern, it would not have posed any threat to the role of the family as such.

However, to put the pursuit and open celebration of sexual desire at the centre of our drives and needs, as Freud and the generation that came of age in the 1960s did, and now our pedagogues do, is to place appetite against traditions—all traditions—and thereby create the clearing in which we live today; and the consequences of which are also relevant to this war.

For this combination is the great attractor-force of the West today; and it is particularly attractive to the young, wealthy and vital; and it is as just as attractive to the more well-heeled Chinese, as it is to Russians, as it is to Ukrainians, as it is to the majority of middle class youth with prospects and spending power in Western lands, as it is, indeed, to those Polish students and philosophy professors who denounced Ryszard Legutko for having the temerity to see through the destructive nature of implanting a surveillance unit (of the sort that pretty well all Western universities now have) at his university to ensure that “diversity” (of sexual styles of pleasure and identities formed around those pleasures) will be protected.

That its attractiveness—and more generally the attractiveness of a life dedicated to slaking one’s desires and searching for comfort—is a mere veneer and false promise of emancipation is all too evident in the widespread despondency and social decay in the richest society the world has ever seen—drug dependency, broken marriages, abandoned or single mothers struggling to raise their children, abandoned and run away children, race conflicts, suicide rates and the widespread use of opiates to transport their users out of the pain and despair of everyday life. This is the end of the line of what the more philosophical of readers might recall was Descartes’ great vision of us becoming lords and masters of nature, viz. an eternal, comfortable life (achievable through advances in medicine).

Given this reality, is it also any wonder that given what they know through their own empty experiences of hooks-ups without love and serial monogamy, the youth and their teachers, who have been caught up in this pursuit of the pleasure-principle and its equation with life’s very meaning, as well as the most important feature of all in one’s identity, there is a search for a spiritual purpose that might redeem this morass of sadness, and despair that dwells within the surface phantasmagoria of opulence, infantilism, and eroticism.

That search, though, is undertaken by souls already brainwashed and broken and all they can do is plea for more of the same cause—they want more equity, more social justice so all on the planet may share their opulence and self-indulgence, and emptiness. These empty zombified people find their greatest spiritual core in demanding ever more service to the idols that have malformed them. Their prayers and rituals, their band of solidarity, their most genuinely joyful act is the moral outrage that they express at anyone who deviates from thinking and talking about the world that would lead others away from their gods. Their gods are (as Kant would say of the God that reason itself conjures) the “mere ideas” of their own “moral freedom,” which is their power to form absolutes that all must obey because—so they truly believe—all (except the ideologically deformed) want what they want: they call this “social justice.”

It is not only to do with sexual pleasure, but also with the divvying-up of material resources and ensuring no identity group is more privileged than another. The people who love this way have no idea what they are really doing. They are slaves of the gods of sexual indulgence, “social justice,” intersectionality, etc. and imagine they are the elite/priests selecting who will be fit to be on board the ark of the future.

What we are living through is the apogee of modern ambition and technology. Its roots combine the enlightened and romantic thinkers of the modern age. This apogee involves tearing out all other forms of sociality and encountering. But its adherents believe that they are involved in redeeming the best of traditions and people that have been silenced by history (cf. Walter Benjamin on the redemption of the oppressed). This is all advanced through an appeal to rights, anti-domination/ emancipation, equity—and an inability to consciously understand the sacrificial requirements of any kind of society; though they do unconsciously understand that they must sacrifice others (largely those who do not agree with them about their socio-political objectives or processes) to realize their dream.

That premodern societies were generally sacrificial orders is something they simply know nothing of—their moral fantasies require they speak of tribal societies as egalitarian and democratic. The Australian author and faux aboriginal man Bruce Pascoe has written a book that has received many prestigious awards and is taught in schools around the country and which claims that Australian aborigines were agrarian, settled people who lived in large towns, in a country that was the first and largest democracy. He is also a professor at Australia’s most prestigious university—the University of Melbourne. It is not the fact that he ignores the hardships of tribal life, the wars and feuds between tribes, the severity of punishments for acts of transgression, and the existential precariousness which was so great that there were numerous reports by nineteenth century authors of cannibalism; but that he depicts that world as a kind of model of what the future can and should be, if we but get our story straight and find common ground.

The symptoms of the deranged thinking of Western societies are endless—and although imbecilic thinking as the order of the day is recognized by various authors who generally badge themselves as “conservatives”—what is far less common is to identify these very bad ideas with the globalist project that is enabled, in conjunction with what is basically a sexually woke diverse Walt Disney view of the world, in which the United States and its entertainment industries provide the cultural leadership that mainstream politicians, corporations, and all the other leader types disseminate.

I am surprised that so few of my friends see the connections between the attacks upon tradition and the brainlessness and heartlessness of the woke world and the globalist forces that are not incidental to the Ukraine war—and while I cannot account for what they see, or why they don’t see it, I think that as astute as many of their critical writings of the modern spiritual and political crisis are, they are duped by the phantasm of a West that is no more, if ever it was; and the adequacy of the political vocabulary and the categories of distinction it deploys to understand the current circumstance.

It is not that I support Putin as if he and the Russians are to be likened to a team I follow, but I am very sure that much of what I am seeing is seen by Putin, as it is by a philosopher, Alexander Dugin, whose thought is gaining increasing exposure as the true source of Putin’s evil thoughts—as if apart from Dugin’s Taking over the World for Dummies, Putin’s library might resemble Pelossi’s bookshelf, and he does not have enough information-flow just by observing the world he is in. Is it being a Putin lackey to suggest if there were a test in political history and geo-politics Putin might blow away any world western leader including Boris, who one would expect to fare well in the Classics bit, but not so great in the final question, “What is going on now and what are you going to do about it?”

Apart from the ridiculousness of this cartoonish division of the world into this hybrid monster (supposedly knowing about Dugin is a sign that one really understands the mechanics of evil coming out of Russia ) and the innocent rest, what I am seeing is not something I want to see—nor is it something that I think Putin and Dugin want to see. Or to say it another way—if one looks at speeches or writings by Dugin and Putin, it is clear that they see the West in its death throes—last October Putin likened the West under the dominion of identity politics to Russia under communism, and (in spite of Putin really being a commie) that was not praise.

When Putin rebukes the West for being an “Empire of Lies” (I take up the problem of widespread Western lies—and the matter of “Russian lies” is simply not relevant to the lies of the West)—I do not know how one can deny that he has seen the rottenness that has become simply part of the day-to-day reality in the West—the fabrication, denunciation and persecution now usual in the West. I do not consider someone either wrong or an enemy, if they show me a character flaw; and I cannot see how the West can begin to heal the rifts that threaten to break it other than by addressing the lies that its elite states about itself, its opponents, and the world at large.

3. International Relations 101: The Russian-Ukraine War

International conflicts are driven by all manner of reasons, from conflict over resources, to ideological or faith-driven decisions, to prestige. Often wars are the explosive resolutions of entanglements that have occurred over protracted periods of time and past decisions which cannot be unmade without tragic collisions. The history of nations and their interests are not, at least for the most part, as in one’s own life, the result of principles and wisdom, but of circumstances that involve our own and our forefathers’ oversights, missteps, sins and crimes, as well as our and their better judgments and qualities.

In spite of the Western media coverage of this war as a clear-cut case of good vs. evil, I find the position of those who depart from that narrative more compelling. There is John Mearsheimer, International Relations Professor, who, for many years, has been warning that the United States and NATO have been creating an intolerable geopolitical threat to Russia that would result in war.

There is the former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter whose time in active service in the first Iraq war gave him important insights into the regime of Saddam Hussein and why the claims being made about Hussein’s army and the weapons of mass destruction were false.

There is Jacques Baud who has an important essay in the Postil; and Colonel Douglas McGregor, who sums up the situation in terms of whether the USA has a legitimate and genuine national interest in what is a regional conflict.

As counter positions to the mainstream, I have also found 21st Century Wire, Patrick Henningsen podcasts, UK Column, George Galloway, Lee Stranahan, the Duran, Richard Medhurst, the Grayzone to be amongst those I tune into quite regularly and find informative. Anyone familiar with these podcasts and figures will know they fall on opposing sides on some important issues about states and markets—i.e., the left and right. But, as I state above, anyone who thinks that the demarcation between left-right, liberal-conservative, is living in a “literary reality.”

The analyses the aforementioned people provide comes from people challenging the mainstream media line (oozing out of our screens, earbuds and pages) that anything that does not support the Ukrainian cause and narrative is Russian propaganda. The most basic lesson one learns in International Politics is that peoples have different stakes to protect, and live in different “worlds” and they generally wish to protect their livelihoods and ways of being in the world—that is, people have different interests; and the word interest is synonymous with the how and why of life lived within a particular place and time. That is why it is important not just to listen to what Zelensky and the Ukrainians are saying and what we believe them to be doing, but also to what Putin and the Russians are saying and doing.

Putin has said that the invasion is to de-Nazify Ukraine—i.e., destroy the ultra-ethnic nationalist elite whose insignificant electoral representation is no indication of its social and institutional influence, and end NATO expansion.

None of the criticisms I have read against these claims takes these words seriously, though plenty try and deny that there is a neo-Nazi problem; or that the US ever conceded it would stop NATO expansion (a claim Putin often makes); or that there is any reason why Russia should be fazed by NATO expansion. I cannot take these “critical” claims seriously; and in any case, the issue is not what you or I think about how Putin should react to the number of neo-Nazis in Ukraine and the power they have garnered institutionally in pressing their interests, or about NATO expansion—what matters is how Putin and the Russian government think—and it would be wise to commence with the proposition that what they think is what they say, and if there is a mismatch between their words and deeds then interpret accordingly. I don’t think there is a mismatch. What I do see is a lot of people not listening, or not taking their words seriously.

On the matter of Russian expansion, I am inclined to defer to two figures who did foresee where NATO expansion into the East would lead, as they strongly advised against ignoring Russia’s concerns about that expansion—the architect of the US Cold War policy, George Kennan and the former ambassador to Ukraine, and career ambassador, and former ambassador to the Russian Federation William Burns. A similar position has also been aired by Peter Ford, a former UK ambassador to Syria, who has first-hand experience of that ongoing debacle of supplying arms to jihadists who were supposedly our friends and who helped in the creation of ISIS.

But NATO expansion aside, the immediate occasion of the invasion was the mass positioning of Ukrainian troops and the imminent threat of even greater escalation by the Ukrainians of border disputes arising out of the Maidan. The establishment of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic, like the secession of Crimea, are the direct result of attacks upon Russian-speaking Ukrainians. Though, if the Western media is to be believed, the escalation of violence against Russian-speakers, like everything else that Russians say, was mere propaganda and it was simply an open-and-shut case of invasion.

In the Donbas, a civil war has cost many thousands of lives (14000 is the common number bandied around), most of which are Russian-speakers. This too has received scant (albeit occasional) Western media attention, though Patrick Lancaster has been living there and reporting on this unknown civil war for eight years.

What people like John Mearsheimer have been seeing and saying since the Maidan is that while this was happening the expansion of NATO and its direct support for the Ukrainian military was akin to building a massive dynamite factory beside a nitroglycerine plant—very reminiscent of the events transpiring in the Balkans prior to the outbreak of the First World War. And as with anyone investigating the causes of the Great War, it is extremely unhelpful to break the conflict down into moral bites and depict the players involved in purely moral culpability-terms, in a manner that befits school children (“Please Sir, it was the Germans and the blank cheque they gave to the Austro-Hungarians that caused it” was the answer of British schoolchildren to the “test” question: Who caused the World War).

Moralistic approaches to political history and current geopolitical circumstances are the means for avoiding rather than solving complex geopolitical antagonisms. Such antagonisms are only resolved through war (yes, sadly, it is the means of last resolve) and statecraft.

Statecraft and international diplomacy require having honed one’s mind to deal with the generation and culmination and impact of specific contingencies, actors, and historical and current forces, as well as perceived national interests; and how to deal with limited available choices of action quickly. The reduction of such complexities to normative principles is a scandal that only discloses a fundamental arrogance and ignorance within the modern liberal mind, that to be sure has gone a long way in helping the US become a hegemon, but a hegemon which inevitably leaves ruin as its monument, and causes far many more deaths than it saves.

Further, far from bringing the nations together, as the creators of the League of Nations and United Nations hoped to do, it has simultaneously devalued the international currency of norms by making it seem nothing more than a smokescreen of a particular way of being and acting in the world, which is no less violent and no more benign than the ways of other nations who not only have their own problems to deal with but, when their interests come into collision with the Western democracies, face putative measures; from ruination of their economies to invasion and a scale of warfare that makes what is happening in Kiev look like a soldiers’ picnic. (Consider how many died in the first 24 hours of the invasions of Iraq with the reported death toll in Ukraine—shock and awe.)

None of the enemies of the US fail to note that the representatives of the United States, and more generally the defenders of a liberal hegemonic international order, in international forums, deploy the moral philosophy of deontology—the rectitude of principle [i.e., Human Rights] is all important—whilst blithely embracing consequentialism on every occasion when that order and national interest is threatened (provided said order can marshal enough resources to defeat the threat).

For US and NATO interventionism (as is invariably the case with any player considering the option of initiating war) is very much driven by strategic realities; whereas poor Mr. Zelensky is a genuinely tragic figure wading in waters that he was never prepared for. Caught twixt ethnic-nationalists, who think him a clown, and oligarchs, who use him as a puppet, and portrayed by the Western media as the saintly stateman of the hour (much like Time‘s list of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2019 included that other genius of statecraft, AOC). If poll reports are to be believed, he has managed to claw back popularity amongst Western Ukrainians who had initially voted in droves for him, before thinking they had one more turkey, but who seem now eager to buy the message that Ukrainian freedom is worth armed resistance against Russia.

But forgive me if I am somewhat sceptical—what I see is that a huge number of Ukrainians have the very good sense to simply want to get out of the place. And while the Ukrainian army is sizable and well-armed, there are also reports of the government distributing tens of thousands of assault rifles to civilians. This is, as the Russian media and government rightly point out, in breach of international law, requiring the clear demarcation between civilians and combatants. While the Western media has no problem finding stories about unwilling Russian troops, we are supposed to believe that Ukrainians still in Kiev, one and all, are noble, patriotic freedom fighters. Sorry, but I grew up a long time ago, and in spite of the absurd, albeit widespread depiction within anti-Russian media, of Russia as the USSR and Nazi German redux, such analogies do not hold up to even the most cursory of examinations.

There have also been stories coming out of Mariupol of Ukrainian soldiers using civilians as human shields. Like all inconvenient stories about the war they are immediately denied, without investigation by Western journalists and said to be Russian propaganda. But, I ask, why would the non-combatants want to stay in the city, and why would the battalions that Russian soldiers are intent on destroying not be prepared to save themselves at any cost? The military tactics of the Russians do indicate that the objectives of Russia are what Putin says they are—to demilitarize Ukraine and not simply erase it. Thus, it seems plausible that any captured Ukrainian soldier found to have links with the Azov battalion or any other ethnic ultra-nationalist Ukrainian group will in all likelihood be executed immediately.

Whatever we say about Zelensky, he was as incapable of building peace in Ukraine as he was in reducing corruption. In spite of all the media hoopla he receives for his courage in standing up to a tyrant, and speeches that look like they come from US hack-tv drama writers, he was no statesman. He is either truly child-like or has so little knowledge of relatively recent history that he really thought that Russia would simply standby and wait for the Minsk agreements to continually be ignored and watch as Ukrainian forces were got ready to launch a final defeat of the Russian-speaking resistance in the Donbas.

If, by the way, anyone thinks that ethnic-nationalist militias killing Russian first language speakers with impunity, and infiltrating the various institutions of Ukraine, including the military is untrue, which is now the Western media default position, you should go back and read/watch reports in the Guardian and BBC when they were not just outlets of propaganda. You might also turn to a paper, put out by the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at George Washington University just last September, by Oleksiy Kuzmenko, “Far Right Group Made its Home in Ukraine’s Major Western Military Training Hub.” And if you do not think providing a de facto, if not de jure, front for NATO’s strategic advancement, and threatening Russia with nuclear war, is not brinkmanship, I hazard to guess what would be.

In any case, Mr. Zelensky has had the kind of lesson in geopolitics that those who had the temerity to defy the United States have often had to learn to their peril. And while the United States and other European Nations desist from direct military involvement at least for the moment—though engaging in the now widely accepted practice of asset-seizures of Russian nationals (the future consequences of this policy bode very ill indeed for the world’s economy generally, as well as a future peace, or even the West’s economic power and credibility) as well as the sackings of Russians from all manner of jobs, from teaching to the arts—Mr. Zelensky berates the West for not being brave enough to have a full scale war.

As for the innocence of Saint Zelensky, I have said he is a tragic figure. But as he calls ever more desperately to bring the entire world into war, I cannot see him as anything other than a man who has stumbled blindly into this like a drunk with a match in the aforementioned nitroglycerine factory, panicking for his own survival; or, I will grant him this, possibly a place in the pantheon of the nation’s heroes, right alongside Stepan Bandera, that anti-Soviet Nazi ally and mass-murderer of Jews, Poles, and Russians.

If Western journalists stopped for a moment and realized that Putin does not care what they think of his actions, but he understands Russia and the events and figures within Russia’s historical memory. Putin understands that when President Yushenko posthumously awarded the medal of Hero of the Ukraine in 2010 to Bandera, and when the extremely crooked and much-hated President Pyotr Poroshenko, who emerged out of the Maidan, signed a law in 2015 glorifying the neo-fascist OUN and the UPA, this was a signal of support to Bandera neo-Nazi supporters and an acknowledgment of the need for the support of this influential power block.

Gone are the days when I, at least, could trust anything I see on the BBC. And yet again this prejudice I have developed was confirmed not just to be sheer prejudice, when a friend of mine sent me today a BBC report about how insignificant the Azov battalion and other neo-Nazi groups are in Ukraine and hence Putin was—yet again—telling lies that the roving intrepid BBC journalist was exposing. The “exposure” consisted of loosely tossing around some figures and speaking with Ukrainians who said: No there was no Neo-Nazi problem, there were hardly any of them; and in any case, they were good fighters, and their ideology was personal—akin to being a Seventh Day Adventist. One person who provided important evidence to discredit mad bad Vlad was good old Honest Poroshenko himself—who merely had to roll his eyes when asked of the existence of Ukrainian neo-Nazis.

I make no secret of the fact I think Joe Biden an idiot, but he is not such an idiot that he really thinks that Americans who have just presided over a humiliating debacle in Afghanistan want to start rounding up their kids, who are busily studying sexual and racial identity inflected subjects so they can go hook up with what and who they want, in the hope they may make themselves more virtuous, if they don’t have enough people to denounce or de-platform, by finding a riot in the summer, that is, if some unfortunate black person fulfils their dreams and gets caught in the cross-fire of police panic.

Perhaps Zelensky simply does not understand the elite priorities of the US, from its president to its woke military higher ups, which is to turn the entire world into something that highly sexualised, irresponsible teens want and understand, which certainly does not include dying for anything, let alone other people’s freedom. Moreover, on the ground, none knows where Ukraine is, and Kiev is a style of chicken dinner. They don’t really want to see their little “It,” who is doing so well at college, come back home in a coffin. Heck, one even might recall one of the major reasons why Trump got elected; that is, as Joe now stumbles around airing threats of the sort that seemed to work well enough when he had deal with that bum Corn Pop—and Vlad is just another bum after all. But for all that, Joe is not so gone (yet) that he doesn’t know that taking the US into a war would not really help him get re-elected.

The heroic leader Zelensky, as he is portrayed in the West, looks like he is in an all-or-nothing situation. And the millions of dollars he has stashed away overseas, thanks to his former media mogul boss, oligarch—and all-round gangster—political backer, also the former employer of Hunter Biden, Ihor Kolomoyskyi (yes, he was the real owner of Burisma) won’t help him much. In the midst of a country mired in corruption (a little more of which anon), Zelensky, like his predecessor, has been completely played by the US and the EU for their own interests.

Unfortunately, the Ukrainians, who are caught in the midst of the horrors, are learning what I think is the kind of thing anyone learns about in IR or IP classes 101, at least those classes that (admittedly becoming rare) are not taught by some eager beaver social justice warrior reducing geopolitics to race, class and gender. (If you think I am joking, check out how big a field feminist International Relations is now.)

In a world where one would not be denounced as a traitor or apologist of evil for thinking about national interests, International Politics teachers, when trying to understand Russia’s position and role in this event, would, I think, typically (and I have a seen a number of people more or less raise this same example) ask their students to imagine that the US has returned large parts of land annexed by Texas and California in the 19th century to Mexico.

Imagine then that the predominantly English-speaking groups within those territories found themselves disputing about regional resource extraction and distribution with Spanish-speaking groups, most of whom lived on the other side of the country. Then these ethnic tensions culminated in a coup, partly enabled by Chinese meddling in internal affairs. The regions that had formerly been parts of Texas and California became embroiled in a civil war.

The Texan and Californian Mexicans were being continuously bombed by the Mexican government—they were hearing true stories of the government closing down media outlets sympathetic to their cause, and forbidding the English language being taught in Mexican schools—just as the English did with the Irish and Welsh (and has been done in Quebec).

Then China wanted to put rockets on Mexican soil, and were sending in troops on the ground to train Mexican troops; and then the Mexican President said he wanted to build up the country’s nuclear capacity as well as have a more formal security alliance with China which it was desperate to join with other allies of China.

If a student in discussing this scenario were to pipe up and say, “The US President not only should, but would accept all this, and that any President who took military action to intervene on behalf of the persecuted ethnic Anglo-Americans and push back against Chinese meddling in its sphere of influence, would be proof of him being an evil megalomaniac”—any IR teacher would be thinking, “I have completely failed this student—he (sorry, I meant it) has no clue.”

But this all is meant to sound reasonable when we just insert the words “Putin,” “Russia,” “Ukraine” and the “USA.” It reminds me of how our educated elite think it perfectly acceptable to say that “white men are exploiters, thieves, privileged, undeserving etc.,” but were the “white men” replaced with “Jews,” “women,” “blacks,” there would be mass outrage.

The thinking that ignores geopolitical “realities” (and they are realities because of forces that have accrued over a protracted period of time; they are delicately poised; and the failure of statesmen to balance them come with massive consequences)—enables mass death. And in spite of the voluntarist metaphysical tendency that has completely seized the Western mind, these realities do not wilt under the glare of a moral(izing), that is to say, hypocritical, conscience.

It seems just yesterday, when journalists could not line up quickly enough to denounce George Bush, and prior to that Ronald Regan for being warmongers. Then at least they acknowledged (or at least a substantial number did) that the “neo-con” idea of “regime change” was deranged. Though when the Obama administration weighed in with tremendous enthusiasm for the “Arab Spring,” in what was really another variant of the same fantasy—a world of liberal democracies, all singing from the “International Community” hymn book, it should have been obvious to any thoughtful people that very few Western journalists were able to think with any real clarity outside of the safe partisan parameters that they had picked up in their training and developed in conversation with others from the same background. So it was that they easily drifted into rebooting the Cold War in order to topple that other monster Trump; and now they find themselves in that battle with the monster Putin.

Irrespective of journalists intermittently opposing US interventions, at times the US has been a mere spoiler, providing arms, training etc. At other times it has been a direct intervener—and the results have always been the same—mass death and utter disaster. I think the United States not only stood for something worth defending during the Cold War, and that Reagan (ridiculed by most of the intellectual elite) and his administration were right to break away from the Washington consensus that the Cold War was permanent, and unwinnable, and that Regan had taken the world to the brink of a world war—when in fact he was canny, and had good advisers, and took action at the right time – though if any forethought were given to the immediate aftermath, nothing good came to pass.

But this is not the Cold War. Russia is not the USSR; and the America of today has no unified spiritual core, or even a unified political purpose. Thinking that joining forces against Putin will magically produce such purpose is magical thinking. Unfortunately, the amount of magical thinking that the US has produced since the end of the Cold War has been endless (not that it was not doing some before then—e.g., whoever took over in Iran had to be better than the Shah; supporting the mujahedeen in Afghanistan against the Russians would lead to something good, etc.).

In concluding this section, I should also add that I can easily imagine that if I were a Ukrainian “first language” person living in Kiev, I would have been amongst the tens or hundreds of thousands flooding the square and streets in 2014, demanding that my interests be met, and that the President sign on to the association agreement that the EU was dangling, as a way to draw the country further into its sphere of influence. I may even have become so inflamed by the event that I may have found myself joining one of the nationalist militias, with heroes who sided with the Nazis because I would have realized that just standing in the streets, singing songs and chanting does not topple governments.

I most likely would have been full of rage that the Russians, who had promised independence, were still pulling the strings of the government, and that it was impossible to trust the good will of an ethnic group who had starved millions of my countrymen to death just as I would not feel ashamed that I had ancestors who threw their lot in with Hitler, because say what you like about Hitler, he killed a lot of Russians. Being part of such a group, I may well have beat up, or if things got really out of hand, even killed Russian-speaking Ukrainians that wanted to continue to oppress me and my family by keeping us as prisoners. Now, I would desperately want the West to come and save me, and hate Putin and see him as the cause of the panic and suffering that makes me want to flee the country.

But I am not that person—and nor am I a Russian-speaking Ukrainian from the Donbas who has also seen hospitals and schools bombed, who has lost family members since the Maidan, and whose prayers of being defended have been answered with the incursion of Russian forces. The war in the Donbas, and the bombing, shelling and shooting, as Russian foces surround major cities in their goal of toppling the government, demilitarising the country and rounding up, imprisoning, and killing members of the ethnic nationalist militias are all related to the Maidan—just as the Maidan is the consequence, not just of the enormous number of spontaneous protestors, US/ EU and Western money-meddling, but of the Homodor, and that massive crime, because of the triumph of Bolshevism. All that too is an important aspect of the part played by the likes of Stepen Bandera in the holocaust. The strands of these entanglements go back a long way, and the event of this war is an outbreak of forces that have been incubating and developing through the entanglement. Saying, “Yes but Putin started it” is, quite frankly, not a serious matter for consideration.

4. “A Thug In The Kremlin?” Or, Comparative Politics 101

If International Politics/International Relations brings with it a perspective that transports us away from what we want and what principles we think should prevail, Comparative Politics also forces us to put aside moral judgments which reach for absolutes that are also “mere ideas” and ask—just or good, in comparison to what? It was Aristotle who initially developed this as a basic procedure of Political Science, when he departed from his teacher, Plato, on the question of whether identifying the good in itself was the appropriate standard for appraising the conditions and problems of states and their constitutions.

Aristotle’s morphological approach to reality in general, though a handicap for those wanting to study the mechanics of nature, has remained as central to the development of Political Science as his discovery of Logic was to that discipline and philosophy more broadly. He saw that all living bodies have their own dynamics and pathologies. He invented the idea (albeit Plato had prepared the ground) that the Political Scientist was a diagnostician whose task was, inter alia, to tap into the strengths and weaknesses of the particular state and constitution under examination (Aristotle is reported to have collected and studied almost 160 constitutions), which led him to the conclusion that potentialities for the good of the community within states very much depended upon their circumstances. This did not mean that he did not distinguish between better and worse regimes, or that he did not acknowledge the importance of justice as a communal good. But he realized that certain goods must already be in place if others are to be achieved. And that takes time.

The history of political philosophy can roughly be broken down into two schools—one consists of thinkers like Aristotle, such as Montesquieu, Burke, and in some important ways G.W.F. Hegel, and de Tocqueville, who are driven by the comparative method which takes account of historical and social conditions which dictate the choices available to statesmen and peoples. The other school takes its bearing from norms, rational principles, arguments and ideal standards, Plato is their founder; and its modern exponents include John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau (who in his less known and better political observations drops it), Immanuel Kant, J.G. Fichte, the neo-Hegelians and (once one unveils the fog and contradictions of historical materialism) Marxist-Leninists, John Rawls, and (also once one gets through the thicket of fog) the post-structuralists—and George Bush and the neo-cons, Barack Obama and the liberal world order more generally.

As you can see, this second group is ideologically very diverse (hence I suppose some clown in university administration can satisfy themselves that this would be a good thing—hell, there is even a black guy in the list, and plenty of feminist theorists to fill the bill). Unfortunately, their position is built upon inferences rather than detailed knowledge of circumstance, which is also why their position is a great platform for making noble-sounding speeches; but when it comes to political action is either irrelevant (the cause of very bad decisions and inevitable failure to get the outcomes that accord with the principles, which inevitably leads to charges of outright hypocrisy), or catastrophic. This latter method, if method it really be, is easy to grasp once one adopts a first principle, an unassailable idea, which, of course, can be done with greater (as in Immanuel Kant or J.G. Fichte) or lesser sophistication, like the mainstream Western journalists and commentariat reporting on this war.

In keeping with this ‘idea-ist’ (sic.) approach, most arguments and reports about the war are framed as ethico-political denunciations of Russia—and the idea that if some fact harms the war effort of our team it must be Russian propaganda—and I have no doubt that this essay will be dismissed by many who skim it as pure Russian propaganda …oh well, this is the world we now live in.

The denunciations tend to assume one or both of the following: (a) Russia is a tyranny while the West is the font of freedom; and (b) Ukraine is really like the West both culturally and politically.

I might be more tempted to go along with this if I really believed that the West still stood for freedom, or even anything more noble than the decay, infantilism, indulgence, material grasping, and spiritual emptiness that I see devouring it. (Alert—just because Putin and Xi see this does not make them wrong, nor me their lackey in saying it.) The West no longer even stands for freedom of thought, let alone freedom of expression—the only things that might eventually enable it to get to a better, even if far from perfect, place. As for Ukraine and democracy, and Russia and their lack thereof…let’s do some comparison.

First, let us briefly consider “the money”—that variable which is so widely used to identify a people’s welfare—as in GDP per capita. In Ukraine, the official GDP per capita in 2020 was $(US) 3,800 (adjusted for ppp $12, 100). In Russia, in 2020, GDP per capita had declined by some 30 percent, since its peak in 2013, but it was still over $10, 000, and rendered in ppp almost $ (US) 26,500.

Figures such as these never tell the whole story, but I think it symptomatic of a fact that I think is indisputable—since the demise of the Soviet Union there has never been a government in the Ukraine that has not been plagued by corruption, or, and this follows inexorably from the scale of the country’s corruption, that has managed to retain great popular support. Nor one that has been able to sufficiently rein in the power of the oligarchs that Ukraine could achieve even a moderate level of economic well being.

Before addressing Russia’s “authoritarian government,” I will state another fact that I think will not appeal to people whose image of Putin comes exclusively from Western main-stream media outlets. Putin has the kind of support base in the population that Western politicians only dream of, and the reason for that is not primarily because he is a thug/criminal/stand-over merchant.

The circumstances and challenges in Ukraine and Russia, in the aftermath of communism, were somewhat similar, though Ukraine was economically the poorer, with GDP per capita being $ (US) 1257 – but had halved by 2000; in 1993 Russia’s was a tad over $ (US) 3000, and had almost halved by 2000. The geographical distribution of resources in the country had created what many might consider a very undesirable state of things—the West was more dependent upon the East for its wealth, which is also why the Crimea and the Donbas were not just a matter of national pride for the various governments operating out of Kiev.

By the turn of the millennium the GDP per capita of both had roughly halved. Then, in the Putin years there came astonishing growth in Russia, around 10 percent until 2014. This was the kind of growth which is impossible to retain for protracted periods; and not only did it slow, with a combination of sanctions and a drop in oil prices, there was a steep decline. And though it has risen since 2014, it is still not back to the figures of 2010. But compared to the previous decade substantial improvements had been made in the material conditions of most Russians.

In Ukraine the take off point occurs around the same time, but the rise is far less substantial, also followed by decline and moderate rise. Also noteworthy is the telling figure that in 2021 remittances made up 12 percent of GDP in Ukraine, foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2021 was a third of that—estimates at the beginning of the war, based upon the large outflow of refugees, were that remittances would increase by 8 percent. Yes, that increase in remittances as a percentage of GDP may be laid at the door of the Russians, but the figure of 2021 is the kind of figure that one associates with a country with economic opportunities which make leaving a smart economic move.

The other important part of the story is corruption. We hear much of Putin and his Russian oligarch cronies in the West—but I am astonished how poorly informed are most people, who are otherwise well educated, about oligarchs in Ukraine and the problems of corrupt government. As with Russia, state assets were dissolved into vouchers, and the vouchers were bought at bargain basement prices, or simply stolen by those with the know-how or muscle to do so.

Katya Gorchinskaya’s six part report, “A Brief History of Corruption” identifies the major players and plays which have left Ukrainians amongst Europe’s poorest and most corrupt nations. It begins with President Kravchuk, the first to hold power in post-Soviet Ukraine, presiding over the economic privatisation and resource gobbling.

Amongst those doing the gobbling were two Ukrainian Prime Ministers, one of whom would be successfully prosecuted in the US for money-laundering, fraud and extortion; another, Yulia Tymoshenko, would become the attractive poster face—along with Victor Yushchenko—of the Orange Revolution. Tymoshenko would eventually be prosecuted for a range of crimes, from embezzlement to involvement in the murder of another oligarch, Yevhen Shcherban, with Yushchenko himself being a witness against her.

Tymoshenko was found guilty of profiting from gas contracts signed with Russia. Although she found support amongst European human rights organizations (Yuschchenko begged to differ with their defence of her). During the 1990s she and her family had made their fortunes in energy and controlled the United Energy Systems of Ukraine (UESU). It was Ukraine’s largest gas trader, “supplying gas from Russia’s Gazprom to seven of Ukraine’s large industrial and agricultural regions.”

While the initial distribution of vouchers had initially enabled the oligarchs’ rise to power, Gorchinskaya sees the biggest asset grab as the work of politicians in 1998. As she writes: “The list of parliamentarians reads like the yellow pages of Ukraine’s future oligarchy.”

Politics and corruption are common bed-fellows. I hazard the obvious conjecture: the difference between them and Russian and Western politicians, who have made spectacular amounts of money after decades of public service, is that in Ukraine and Russia there was a brief moment of a bonanza round of assets available to them that made the usual grift seem like child’s play.

The scandals surrounding every President in the Ukraine parliament are easily discovered, and I don’t need to enter into more detail. In any case the headline from a piece in the Guardian in February 2015 sums it all up: “Welcome to Ukraine, the most corrupt nation in Europe.” It showed the West what everyone who lived there knew—that in spite of the victory over the Russian stooge/crook Yanukovich, in spite of the deaths, the noble speeches, the visits of US and European dignitaries, and promises of support, in spite of the flags, songs, international media coverage Ukraine was an economic and crime ridden dump—with magnificent scenery and a capital as beautiful as any city in the world. The article also pointed out that while “officials from the general prosecutor’s office, who were interviewed by Reuters, claimed that between 2010 and 2014, officials were stealing a fifth of the country’s national output every year,” nothing had improved.

Later that same year, a writer in Forbes magazine wrote a piece “Corruption is Killing Ukraine’s Economy.” As with Poroshensko, Zelensky, like the Presidents before him, was elected on the promise of ending corruption—though he also indicated he was the man to mend fences with Russia. He didn’t, and he wasn’t.

It is not simply the corruption I wish to underscore; it is that since the dismantling of the Soviet Union Ukraine has had two “revolutions,” and achieved nothing other than an outright civil war and a war with a great power. I don’t know how anyone who is impartial and not blinded by the patriotic fog and fervour accompanying the avoidance of the basics of international diplomacy can see it otherwise. And need I say that none of these problems—with the obvious exception of the war itself—can be traced back to Putin.

Turning to Russia, everyone of a certain age will recall that between the end of the Soviet Union and the Yeltsin years, Russia and the fall-out from its empire were in free-fall. Yeltsin had gone from being a hero of the people to a corrupt drunken buffoon. Oligarchs had taken over all the most important resources; and gangsters simply took over apartments; and the streets were not safe. The poverty was widespread and wretched.

And the reality of post-Soviet Russia made the drab days of Brezhnev and Andropov look like the golden years.

While people in the West were still celebrating Gorbachev and talking about him being a great man who changed the course of history, most Russians cursed him for creating the havoc they were living through. One cannot begin to understand Putin’s popularity if one does not concede the hell of Russia in the Yeltsin years—captured in videos of the period by images of the extremes of the old and recently rendered destitute standing on the streets huddled around a fire in the snow and ice with their knickknacks and baubles and pleading eyes; or the new phenomenon of Russian prostitution for export—the international sex trade really takes off with the end of communism—and the oligarchs and mafia with their great fur-coats, cruising by in their convoys of Western cars, and armies of protection. Stalin would not have allowed this, they reasoned. And you can say what you will about him, but he not only dressed with moderation, but he never draped his great big fur coats with gold chains, while pushing aside beggars on the way to the night club to snort blow and be blown by a girl who had drifted into the city to make some money.

Western journalists seem to think that when Putin speaks of the most terrible event being the end of the Soviet Union, that he is saying he loved communism. That is nonsense. He saw a once respected leading world power, a power, that for all its shockingness did export resources and training to those who fought on its side and from whom it saw geopolitical strategic advantage—I don’t want to get all maudlin about a system and regime that was ultimately a massive mass-murdering experiment and monstrous disaster (in no small part paid for by Western capitalists, as Anthony Sutton meticulously demonstrated). But I think to see that it was not only all for nothing; that whatever slim achievements it had made (and it would have made far more had it just been left to the autocrats prior to the Bolsheviks) had vanished along with the Soviet Union. In its place was a beggarly, broken state, of utter disorder— nothing resembling the Western commercialized sheen and shine images that one might have seen on television – but then again the sprawling tents of the homeless and junkies in Portland and San Francisco today bespeak a world resembling a similar kind of corruption, and ineptitude that Yeltsin and his mates were tolerating in Russia.

It is an odd thought, I know. But maybe what Putin said was rhetorically done for political purpose. But irrespective whether he is a “murdering swine,” as old an friend, Political Science ex-colleague, and mentor has posted on Facebook, Putin understood the rage of the humiliated, of a people who had been tricked out of the relative security—with all its scarcity—that the communist state provided, and thrown out of work and onto the streets. And he could see, as could the rest of the population, that all of this chaos was facilitated by the IMF and the Harvard Russian Project crew.

Moreover, aside from ex-party officials and their friends with their on-the-ground advantage and the armed to the teeth “wise guys” snapping up for peanuts, resources (energy and media/ communications being prime targets) worth billions and conning Russians out of, when not simply stealing, the vouchers, which were supposedly designed to distribute Soviet assets to “the people”—were Western grifters (like Bill Browder discussed below). It was a free for all in free-fall.

And on top of this were the Chechnyan terrorists and their bombs, deliberately killing innocent school children as well as adults. What made matters even worse was that Chechnyan rebels had been trained and funded by the CIA. That is a fact that Western journalists no doubt would like to put down to Russian propaganda. By the way, and lest I am sounding like the kind of left-wingers I usually take issue with for their blindness to the nature of markets, I have never been anti-everything the US does to protect its interests. But the incompetence of the US as a military and strategic power has become increasingly breathtaking, and its funding of such groups has brought nothing but havoc and understandable hatred of the West.

And, then, in the midst of this, Putin, who had been working for the mayor of Saint-Petersburg, facilitating foreign investments, and suspected of masterminding a kick-back scheme worth tens of millions of dollars, receiving a PhD for a work that had, in part at least, been plagiarised, were it even written by him, looked like just another junior on the grift “yes man” political operator had been given the nod by Yeltsin and backed by the oligarch Berezovsky, who came to regret misreading Putin’s character till the end of his life. Though, almost every Western documentary or biography depict Putin with the same sneering disbelief that this little jump-start still has power and struts around the world stage killing people, while great philanthropists and lovers of liberty like Berezovsky himself or Khodorkovsky were banished so that Putin could get nearly all of the pie.

In any case, not long after the tap on the shoulder Putin took on the oligarchs. Or, more precisely, sided with one bunch of oligarchs against another. It is fanciful to think that any political leader in Russia would have been able to survive without finding factional support amongst oligarchs— men who whose control extended to “armies” to do their bidding, protect their wealth, and trade (from arms running, to sex and drug trafficking, to gas and information). I think even the moralising denouncers of Putin don’t doubt that the level of criminality and the scale of violence of Russia’s oligarchy, and that that had touched ever part of Russia’s social fibre.

Quiz question: How would you have stopped it?

The manner in which the oligarchs accumulated their wealth as well as the tactics they deployed in defending it were all carried out in a manner befitting the kinds of weapons, financial conduits and systems, goods and services demand and supplies and political racketeering that are as mod con as mod con can possibly be: international banks laundered their money; politicians did their bidding by making deals and enacting laws that benefit them; shipping, planes and transport systems moved the girls and drugs, and immigrants with enough money to pay for their forged passports and relocation. Their computers and codes, and bank accounts in far-away lands, their hotels and majestic villas, clubs and casinos, private jets and helicopters, and yachts, their weapons and preferred drugs may have spoken of the unprecedented quality of the spoils of ill-gotten gain. But the motivation and operation were not really different from ancient tribes, or ancient and modern nations or empires seizing land and resources from enemies, or lords and kings providing their protection in return for services rendered (protection included their preparedness to not simply take everything from those they might crush were their offers of protection refused, to fighting off others desirous of those lands), or the cattle barons and robber barons, or the mafia, or those like Joe Kennedy who made a fortune out of prohibition. We accept that no one running for the presidency in the United States could be successful without finding wealthy political donors—or, at least, being an extremely rich person. But as with state foundations, the older the money the more likely it was to be founded in blood.

The way politics and wealth form a bond may vary by location, but the bond is universal, and the difference between what counts as corruption tends to also be bound up with merely how things gets done, and the wealthy get to keep their wealth and pay others to help them acquire more, and enact processes that assist their political preferences and priorities. “Not that there is anything wrong with that”—but journalists in the West tend to sleep at the wheel when it comes to following up leads that might bring down those who represent their political interests. People in far-away lands whose doings may safely be reported—even if the doings, as in the case of Putin, often (albeit not always) come from sources who also have their interests, which involve being rid of Putin.

In any case, the influence of oligarchs is no less decisive in the United States than it is in Russia. Yes, there is a rule of law, but while we may find exceptions, money generally still makes the laws.

The decisive difference between the West now and the Russia in which Putin came to power and outplayed his enemies is not in the role played by those who have the greatest wealth/control of the nations resources, it is in the timing: the violence and usurpation which provided the original sources of great wealth occurred generations back (not that long really in the USA, generally longer in the UK). And then—yes, I am really happy to go left when it is true—there was the piracy, the slavery, the colonialism. And of course it is not all in the past, where modern US “interventions” fit may vary, energy (and I don’t mean solar and wind farms) is a major factor in the West’s strategic and geopolitical decisions involving the Middle East.

This is not to make the false argument that therefore private property and capital should be eliminated, or that property is theft and all wealth ill-gotten, but commercial society is a late arrival, and where and whenever it arrives its existence requires historical and social preparedness provided by power, plunder, and protection rackets. Would that it were not so. But this is the problem with those who want to denounce Putin as if he were somehow an evil anomaly amongst those who really held power – it is so, and has ever been so. The desire it not be so is behind the ridiculous romanticization of indigenous life that originally afflicted Rousseau and now the infantilized moralizing West and its children.

The people Putin went after were amongst, or would become, the richest, the most influential people on the planet—not only financially, but also in terms of the importance of the resources they controlled for shaping the world; the other two most famous examples, apart from Berezovsky, being the media magnate Vladimir Gusinsky, who would go on to pose as a kind of religious and spiritual beacon by becoming the Vice-President of the World Jewish Congress (a gesture that would give all the Russian anti-Semites evidence to sit alongside their copies of The Protocols of Elders of Zion; he had previously cofounded and become President of the Russian Jewish Congress), and the banker, energy magnate, convicted, imprisoned and then pardoned criminal, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Like Berzovsky, they spend much time in exile, screaming loudly about Putin’s unprecedented wickedness (comparable, so they said to… yes, of course, who else? Adolf Hitler) to a media ready to quote them on the latest body or scandal that could be attributed to Putin and his henchmen. It seemed that Putin had nothing better than do to send out armed assassins all over the globe to silence all his critics and political opponents, because he was not only completely paranoid but his whole view of the world was picked up from KAOS in Get Smart.

Khodorkovsky has been lauded as a man of great principle by standing to face trial. This did present him with the opportunity to portray himself as a political martyr, going to prison for his belief in the sanctity of human rights and the future of democracy. The West lapped it up and lauds him still. I have a bridge with a spectacular harbour view to sell you at a discount price of ten million dollars if you actually believe Khodorkovsky has turned his life around to become a human rights activist from being a gangster and in all likelihood a murderer. It would be interesting to actually do a comparative body count between them if we could locate them.

As we skim over Putin and his “autocratic” government, let us keep before us what I consider the one issue that is both indisputable and all important—Putin drastically improved the lives of most Russians. No matter how much more peaceful and prosperous the Russians may have been under the political leadership of Tony Blair, or Boris Johnson, or Joe Biden, or George Bush Jr, or Bill Clinton—does anyone seriously think these men have the kind of competence that would mend a fallen state? Putin was the guy at the head who turned things round. If we were doing moral examinations of politicians, I am happy to concede that Vladimir would probably have to get an F—though among Western moral paragons, I don’t see any who would get a Pass in those circumstances.

But, but…surely, they are better than him? Well, that depends whether you think that having salvaged and then ridding a state of enemies that threaten to bring it back into chaos is a crime (I assume much of which I read is true; though, as the next piece/section shows Western media has manufactured such a long and egregious litany of lies that I simply cannot be sure of anything it reports). Here too is a question—and it is the kind of question that political leaders in times of social crisis and havoc have to confront, and I will pose it by way of a historical case.

Given what we know about Russia’s rapid advances and modernization and economic growth just prior to the Great War, and given what we know about the scale of murder inflicted by the Bolsheviks, did the Czar’s failure of will (and that of his generals) contribute to the tens of millions who died after? The answer is not difficult—yes it did. Posed so starkly, the issue of the sheer ability to stomach the infliction of more violence upon “one’s own people” (there’s that phrase again) is irrelevant. Perhaps the failure of will came from a sense of moral horror at what world the Tzar was making and the choices he had to make, or perhaps it came from an inability to see who and what this new elite political elite were.

In any case, he relinquished power, to be sure not quite to those as violently wilful as Lenin, but still to those who themselves were not strong enough to do anything but pass the power that they had not come by legitimately to those with political wills of steel, though recall Lenin’s famous phrase that “found power lying in the streets and simply picked it up.” They were capable of killing more “of their own people” in a few months than the Czars had killed in a century. In short, tens of millions of lives might have been saved had the autocracy in Russia been prepared to kill more people, possibly hundreds of thousands more, possibly millions. In any case, the gap between body counts would have been huge, and the autocracy would have also spared Russia not only from the gulags but communism itself—which as an old joke goes was the longest way of getting from capitalism to capitalism.

Unlike philosophers in their classrooms and studies, rulers in times of great crisis, stand at crossroads where the alternate paths to the future, each with its own trials and troubles awaiting, are completely covered by the fog of the present– the consequences may be untold millions of deaths; the choice maybe—as it was for the Czar, then, as I think it is for Putin, certainly as I think he sees it. It is a choice between steeling one’s political will even though the circumstances of the time offer only differences in the amount of blood to be shed. And there is simply no way of knowing for sure how much blood there must be and where it will end.

Academicians in the main and journalists are generally utterly lacking in seriousness on such matters—in part that is because the academicians make their observations in the safe sequestered ‘play’ spaces which wall out reality—only in such a place so partitioned from the problems of the real could people dream up the ideas of trigger warning, safe spaces, and micro-aggression. Unlike the news hosts at home, those journalists who enter the fray, as opposed to those hanging out in hotel bars waiting for a story to send in, tend to report a very different story to the propaganda oozing out at home.

When rulers get it wrong they are but stepping names toward players and events which are recorded on account of the scale of their horror. The horrific event prevented, though, remains invisible, so the statesman who is successful in preventing the event rarely is recognized (Kennedy is one of the few perhaps who is renowned for a successful preventative call—but that call was on a palpably visible enemy with immediate consequence that were not hard to imagine). This is the situation of Putin now toward Ukraine, and it is another reason why the various moral denouncements bespeak a smugness and assuredness that comes from the safeness of the study or newsroom.

When considering Putin’s actual body count, on any possible measure—including the Chechen War which he can be credited with winning, and this one which is fading day by day from the West’s interests (Will Smith punching Chris Rock seems to be the big story of the moment), we can say without equivocation the numbers pale into insignificance when compared to the untold millions of dead in the Iraq and Afghan wars, in Yemen, and Syria, and in the bombing of Belgrade. My point was primarily that to believe that Putin has done more evil than the motley crew who rule over us, and who we are supposed to consider to be morally superior to Putin. That Putin is Hitler and our leaders are saints? In the case of the Bushes, Clinton, Blair et. al. they have achieved nothing; they have saved no people’ they have left behind more ruin. This is not even a moral judgment; it is merely a statement of fact that these men made disastrous geopolitical choices, that they, not Putin, are largely responsible for why China, Russia, Iran, etc. do not want to be part of the international order. Need I say they are all globalists? That their regime change dream/drive was a grotesque fantasy? And I am supposed to believe that Putin’s hostility to NATO is unwarranted? That he is really Hitler?

I know there were plenty of journalists who criticized the Bushes and Blair (Clinton bombing of Serbia not so much), though they generally cheered on Trump’s swift response to Assad supposedly using chemical weapons in Syria (I think Trump was really played on that one—see reports from Vanessa Beeley). But it is one thing to be anti-war on some moral principle because you have a conscience, as opposed to being the person dealing with the fate of nations. There the question is never answered by the principle: war is evil, therefore I should abolish the army along with prisons, and while at it take a knee. It is only answered by an ability that is a gift of few and is completely uncanny: knowing in spite of all the fog, all the hostility (consider Churchill), that one is right and that action must be taken. And when the action is taken, it must be successful. I may have seen the Afghan and Iraq Wars very differently if they were fought for people that shared a common sense of spiritual purpose with their “liberators” (which they never did) and if they really did assist in nation-building, which it did not know how to do because there was neither common purpose nor real plan.

Of the War in Ukraine I cannot be sure that Putin will come out well—I have no crystal ball; but it is not all in his hands. He has calculated that the West will not respond with nuclear weapons, or act in such a way that he sees that there is no other alternative. He shares common purpose with the breakaway republics and Crimea—it seems that as long as Ukraine becomes a buffer state, and does what that requires then war will stop. But that is no easy matter for those Ukrainians who since the Maidan have been able to fuel their dreams of a new nation devoid of its Russian presence and past, who have exercise influence in institutions they will no longer have: they either have to retreat back into the obscurity of every-day life, and hope they are not informed upon, or face imprisonment if not execution. They have much to fight for. But so does Russia.

Both the matters of Putin’s rise to power and this war and its meaning also serve to remind us of the importance of an idea that seems largely lost to the modern imagination with that entirely false “theolo-philosophical” doctrine that human beings are basically good. The untruth of this proposition has bought in its train the psychological malformation of so many modern youth who believing in their original innocence believe that all the sins of their forefather can be washed away by moral pronouncements and denunciations of the forefathers who helped accrue the ill-gotten gains that have contributed to the wealth of the nation in general, and their global “privilege.”

The culture wars, which as I have indicated are but a prelude to blood wars, are an example of what befalls a people when it fails to see what it is doing because of its ambition and pride. Had the children of the 1960s not believed in their own perfectness, and in their own innocence what we are living through in the West may not have come to pass. This sense of innocence and the existential privilege that has come from the doing of their forefathers is a major factor in the shallowness of their perspective on every serious subject, including this one. They are a generation for whom moral decisions and appraisals on each and every topic come as natural as breathing.

And this generation has entered swiftly into the fray: Ukrainian flags abound on social media; anti-Russian sentiments and slogans along with pro-Ukrainian and anti-Russian podcasts are everywhere. Mainstream media has finally found a topic where even Fox and CNN and the rest find complete common cause—sanctifying Zelensky/Ukraine; demonizing Putin/Russia. Making an eternal enemy of Russia will be on the head of this generation who holds power, but knows not how to exercise it, and a younger generation who only want to pull the nature of power ever more in a direction that makes the United States even more hateful to its enemies. All in all, it is done by a powerful idiocracy who do not know where they are heading, nor about what they speak—but they do know what pronoun they should be addressed by.

When considering Ukraine, we saw that it was one failed political leader after another; and to state what I think is obvious but which goes against the consensus of the moment, Zelensky is by far the worst because of his recklessness and failure to preserve the peace—which is one of the key variables of evaluation of political leadership.

Last year I reviewed a book by Grigory Yavlinsky, The Putin System: An Opposing View. Yavlinsky argues his case against Putin, methodically and comprehensively (and without screaming, “But he is a murderer”). It is a serious enough case about the benefits to be had by Russia going West; and the book’s economic analysis highlights weaknesses in the Russian economy in general, and Putin’s role in its mismanagement. Though I think the weak part of the book is his understanding of politics, Yavlinsky is not only an Economics Professor, but he has been a political candidate. In his attempt to gain political office, he managed to get less than 2 percent of the vote. At one stage in his book, Yavlinsky concedes that given its recent past and the sentiments and priorities of Russians, he thinks that Russia must continue for the immediate future with what he considers to be its mistaken economic and political policies, until it inevitably comes to its senses.

Given Russia’s conditions after the dismantling of the Soviet Union, and the state of the institutions still in operation, and the mentality of Russia’s population—and the crooks running the place—had it not been Putin it would have had to have been someone of much the same ilk who would have risen to power, if there were to be secure stability in Russia. If not Putin—Khodorkovsky? Would he have been a better political leader? Would someone more like the Ukrainian ineffectual and corrupt politicians be better?

Putin emerged out of the failed state—and the problems that he faced were not of his own making. Were his choices the best? I doubt that any politician would make the best choices. Even if it were the case that Putin may be guilty of all accusations against him—from plundering state funds to murder—in his political fights with oligarchs controlling media and energy and banks, I think it very understandable why the majority of Russians are prepared to look past the accusations levelled at him, and, Western media to the contrary, not think that they would be better off under the kind of “democracy” that a Khodorkovsky might engineer.

One might respond, but without an open society how would you know? And my only response is—an “open society” is a neat phrase, for each and every society has as much openness as its culture, institutional development, and social historicity, and political ruling class have.

After what I have witnessed in the West in the time of COVID, the mass destruction of small businesses here in Australia, the destruction of the livelihoods and right to protest by truckers in Canada, the toleration of mass burnings, and looting in the United State, on the one hand, with, what a mere few years back, would have been unimaginable with the draconian and haphazard treatment, charges and sentences of some of the January 6 protestors and rioters, and the extent of censorship and corporate and state control over speech.

And just as in Russia, large numbers of people support authoritarian decisions which they think suits their interests. To claim that the West is an “open society” is hard to take seriously. We live in a society that once was fairly open, but is now closing up, second by second, right before our eyes, Russians live in a society whose brief period of openness was one of plunder, assassinations and general mayhem.

Failed states don’t and indeed cannot simply turn into democracies—as if democracies, that are not just nominal facades for oligarchical vote-buying, election-rigging, paramilitaries, etc., are not themselves the result of the evolution of a sufficiently widespread dispersion of power blocks and class resource pooling. Consider how the working-class democratic parties evolved at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The damage that liberal democracies are now doing to themselves is shocking. But the damage the United States and its allies have done in countries, where the choice was not and could not have been between democracy and non-democracy but between one strong man or another, is even more shocking in the sheer number of deaths that it has facilitated, along with the battles and wars still raging.

Finally, failed states inevitably break down into war-lordism, and the securing of strong foundations is the result of the formation of bonds of social, economic, cultural, and political solidarity. These need time. Until then, the struggle between the warlords continues; and I do not deny for a second this is not happening—on the contrary, it is because it is happening that Russia—and countries with histories extremely different from the West, including Ukraine—will continue to get low scores on human rights and various other indices of freedom.

But to acknowledge that Putin has strong control over the media is not to say that the West should be spending billions trying to destabilize this regime. Yes Putin controls a media landscape formerly controlled by oligarchs wanting to destroy him (as now do Western media oligarchs). Prior to Trump’s election I would have agreed the United States safeguarded freedom of expression that made it a free country which Russia is not. When people now want to end this kind of equivocation and bluntly ask: where would you rather live? Leaving aside the obvious wealth gap between my country and Russia and the standard of living I enjoy here in Australia—which is a matter of very different political and economic histories—when it comes to where I would feel freer, I think it is really is a matter of what the issue is.

I believe that were I still employed by an Australian university and this paper came to light, I would most definitely lose my job. Indeed, certainly in Anglo speaking Western countries, there are now a far greater array of topics—all of which connect with a globalising-technocratic-identity based view of life—which now require strict conformity and compliance than I think is the case in Russia. But it is not only freedom of speech that has been lost.

Indeed, with the help of corporations, government reach has extended into ever space once considered part of one’s private property, extending from one’s bank account to one’s own body. Is it really any wonder why there is such a very large number of writings claiming the Pandemic was a “Plandemic?” Certainly, there is overwhelming evidence that the Bill Gates Foundation was preparing itself for a pandemic that would require a vaccine to stop it – and Peter McCulloch has plausibly asked why were so many resources put into vaccines rather than in the study of preventative methods and cures. Certainly, there are questions about the source of COVID. And the answer to anyone who want to dig away is: “You are a conspiracy theorist.”

Once upon a time when there was an old left (which I have always thought had more going for it in terms of critiquing geopolitical overreach, military overread, corporate criminality etcetera than identity progressivism), it was considered reasonable to ask questions about the machinations of corporations and the state. In today’s world, merely asking such questions in the West is evidence of being the dupe and purveyor of a conspiracy theory. Is this not a degree of mind control far beyond anything that occurs in Russia?

Russia, under Putin, is an obstacle to globalism and hence to the raison d’être of what the West has become (not what it is becoming, but what it is in essence now) for one main reason: it refuses to follow the globalist technocratic dream—as with China, where it is technocratic it is not globalist. That Russia has been seen by the United States Government as a patient in need of the cure of Westernization has never been a secret, but Victoria Nuland put a figure on the amount spent on the “cure” in 2015 when she said: “The United States alone has spent more than $20 billion dollars since 1992 to help Russia strengthen and open its economy.”

Would anyone other than a “factchecker” seriously think that a substantial amount of that money was not used for “regime change?” Which brings me to the final part of this lengthy essay—the lies. As Putin famously quipped the West is an “empire of lies.” I wish it were not so.

4. The Empire Of Lies

We are presently confronted with all sorts of images and reports about the war which are meant to convince that Russia is being outfought; the Russian state on the brink of regime change; its brutality almost beyond measure as it targets civilians and schools and hospitals; its soldiers despondent and on the verge of revolt; and that Russia indulges in false flag operations and sells fake news to its people; defeat is imminent.
Other sources, some of which I have mentioned above, tell a very different story, a story in which the Ukrainians are providing plenty of fake images and false narratives, lots of “wag the dog” to Western media outlets. These sources are inevitably countered with “that’s just Russian propaganda.” It is “us” versus “them,” and “they” are liars. The biggest lie thus far concerns the West and which the media, working in conjunction with politicians, have tried to cover. It has to do with the US funded biolabs operating in Ukraine.

A report in the Daily Mail (a real rag, I grant, but one that occasionally goes against the grain of consensus) reported yesterday that Hunter Biden’s laptop (remember that suppressed story that was supposed to be Russian disinformation, but, as anyone who digs around knows, was not) seems to confirm the claim that Hunter Biden helped finance a US military “bioweapons” research program in Ukraine. And there we were all thinking that between the coke, the hookers, that stuff with Beau’s widow, and some other fishy stuff that really riled up some family members about Hunter’s sexual transgressions, and the graft that Hunter was not up to much at all, except perhaps convincing his pop that blacks needed free crack pipes.

Whether this connection turns out to be true or not is not the main issue though, because whatever Hunter did to get the money for sitting on the board at Burisma (in any case most of those who knew what was on his laptop though was far less of a scandal than the Biden China money), the evidence for the existence of US funded biolabs is overwhelming—nothing less than official US documents. Their existence confirms the investigations of Dilyana Gaytandzhieva, who in 2018 reported that “The US Army regularly produces deadly viruses, bacteria and toxins in direct convention on the prohibition of Biological Weapons.”

Victoria Nuland—now the current Under Secretary of State—blew her chance Marco Rubio offered when fishing for her to give an unequivocal denial about the labs, when she said that it would be a very dangerous thing if the research from the labs were to fall into Russian hands. Honestly, it just goes to show what a brainless bunch are running this shitshow. Maybe they are just as dumb on Putin’s team. I have no clue. But let’s go back to the lies and murk surrounding the event that kicked off the Ukrainian civil war, the Maidan—or, for those wanting the whole thing to have amounted to something noble, “The Revolution of Dignity.”

Whatever one calls it and however one views it—the Maidan created far more problems than it solved. It was not really a step into Europe. You will recall that the EU had all manner of looming problems, including the rumbling discontents that led to Brexit; and the EU was in no position to embrace a country of such poverty, with such a sizable population. It was also not the 1980s, and, Russia aside, there was no Soviet empire, which was a serious threat as opposed to a fabricated one.

There were still consequences from the financial crisis, a debt problem spearheaded by Greece (who were starting to depict their German EU masters as Nazis), and Central and Eastern Europeans were often ungrateful and difficult members for an organization that had made Germany the geopolitical hegemon of Western Europe (even Mutti was such a sweety, how could anyone question her führerschaftliche—sorry we must use the English now—leadership skills). And that was not even taking into account the inevitable Russian response, which was also why, in spite of all the love between Ukraine and NATO, it is true, as critics of Russia’s invasion say, Ukraine was not, de jure at least, invited into NATO. It did oust one corrupt President only to replace him with another, and it raised the wrath of Russia, led to the secession of the Crimea (some prefer the word “invasion,” which I think is simply a misuse of a good word), and created an ongoing Civil War; as well the carrying out of various acts of persecution and media censorship of Russian-speaking media outlets. If that is a success, I don’t know what failure would be like.

In any case, if the Maidan were a “Revolution of Dignity,” it is difficult to see in what exactly that “Dignity” consisted of? Getting some bundles of money from foreign governments and foreign NGOs, money that disappeared into the vast coffers of the oligarchs and their political cronies? Yes, we have pictures of Victoria Nuland, then the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs, and (at last check) wife of leading Republican neo-con, Robert Kagan (please tell me there is no swamp or political ruling class), handing out coffee and cookies, or sandwiches to the protestors in 2014. So maybe some people got something substantial out of it. But, in the main, what was acquired were slogans and a public image of a nation of “heroes” fighting for their “dignity.”

The event itself had many layers and players. The West primarily saw pictures of the floods of protestors “spontaneously” (as if any protest does not require communication, organization and when, it is protracted in nature, funding) seeking to overthrow an elected government—even if a corrupt one. But if the sheer scale of public protest were the critical issue, would any Western government that has had to deal with widespread protests have survived? Maggie Thatcher at the time of the Falklands War or the poll tax? Macron with the Yellow Vests? Trump or Biden with everyone on the other side? Trudeau with the truckers, etc.? Was Yanukovych really more vicious in suppressing the protestors than Trudeau or Macron? How one answers that very much depends on who one thinks was doing the sniping at the protestors that moved the event into another level of international outrage.

Given that most Westerners knew nothing about the event except what they had seen flickering on their screens, or possibly even read with more diligence in their daily newspapers, the answer was they did not know very much. And in the murky far-away land, the idea that the American government and George Soros, and neo-Nazis played an important role in the event was rarely reported by the mainstream media—and a year or two later even the main stream media released a trickle of stories about the pernicious institutional influence of the Azov Battalion.

But at the time of the Maidan, there was generally little interest in a media landscape still having a love-fest with Obama, and even less interest in a story that would expose a winner of the Nobel Prize for peace as the instigator of a coup. As for Soros, one is immediately consigned to the loony bin marked “conspiracy theorist,” if one merely mentions his name and his financing of the various front organizations he uses around the world to assist in his—very publicly expressed—endgame of creating “an open society.” Some of you may know how he likes to credit the philosopher Karl Popper for his vision and philosophy—poor Karl.

The Soros money-trail is important in the story, which does not mean that the hundreds of thousands of protestors were simply conjured out of thin air and were merely summoned by the dosh: yes the overwhelming number of the protestors were there spontaneously expressing their political will– some though, especially those involved in organizational tactics were on the pay roll. Events like these are occasions for interested players to seek to get their way. Though, invariably the instigators trying to direct the course of history get way, way more than they bargained for—“Hey, we wanted you to kill the Ruskies, Osama, not blow up our Twin Towers you ungrateful #&%^&%^!”

The following is from the Open Society web site, about one of its organizations, the International Renaissance Foundation, in Ukraine: “By 1994, the International Renaissance Foundation was the biggest international donor in the country, with an annual budget of roughly $12 million for projects that ranged from retraining tens of thousands of decommissioned soldiers to the creation of a contemporary arts center in Kyiv. In the early 2000s, the foundation oriented itself around European integration, while mobilizing resources to help those affected by conflict after Russia’s invasion and illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014. Over its lifetime, the foundation has supported more than 18,000 projects, benefiting millions of people.”

Now, consider again the problems of GDP per capita, corruption, the oligarchs, and the neo-Nazis in Ukraine and ask: Has this foundation achieved anything of lasting value in the country? If your answer is yes, let me raise the bridge-sale prospect again. Also, what exactly does “mobilizing resources” mean? For a man dedicated to creating a more open society, there sure is lots of murk here.

There is plenty of information out there on Soros, though algorithms now make the digging harder. But one can commence with just going through his organizations, investigating what they do, and hunting around to see who are involved. Lee Stranahan, former Huntington Post and then Breitbart journalist, and now at Sputnik News, has done a lot of that digging on Soros and his organizations, and Ukraine, as well as the fake Russia narrative and Ukraine’s role in it. I suggest you dig it up and see for yourselves whether it is just Russian propaganda—his sources are open and checkable.

When the Maidan broke out, one genuinely intrepid journalist who was on the ground, and had a track record of uncovering stories, and not merely repeating what was picked up in press releases and official pronouncements. He had previously broken the Iran-Contra story and blown the lid on the involvement of the CIA in cocaine trafficking. He was Robert Parry (1949-2018). He could scarcely believe the misinformation and outright lies, the sheer propaganda that Western media was publishing. He was there watching it all unfold and wrote regular reports. This is from one the piece “Phony ‘Corruption’ Excuse for Ukraine Coup” (2016):

If Ukraine becomes a flashpoint for World War III with Russia, the American people might rue the day that their government pressed for the 2014 overthrow of Ukraine’s allegedly corrupt (though elected) president in favour of a coup regime led by Ukrainian lawmakers who now report amassing, on average, more than $1 million each, much of it as cash.

The New York Times, which served as virtually a press agent for the coup in February 2014, took note of this apparent corruption among the U.S.-favoured post-coup officials, albeit deep inside a story that itself was deep inside the newspaper (page A8). The lead angle was a bemused observation that Ukraine’s officialdom lacked faith in the country’s own banks (thus explaining why so much cash).”

There have since been other accounts of the event, most notably the documentaries directed by Igor Lopatonok and produced by Oliver Stone; Ukraine on Fire (that had briefly been de-platformed but now carries the “offensive/ inappropriate” warning, but is available on Rumble) that appeared in 2016; Revealing Ukraine (carries the “offensive/ inappropriate” warning on You Tube; see it on Rumble) in 2018; and most recently, The Everlasting Present. Ukraine: 30 Years of InDependence (sic.) There are numerous comments posted on You Tube saying that Lopatonok’s films are all Russian propaganda bs—though none supply any evidence to prove this.

That there was US meddling is impossible to refute, given Nuland’s infamous conversation with US ambassador to the Ukraine about who was the right man for the top job; and McCain standing alongside Svoboda (the neo-Nazi political party) leader Oleh Tyahnybok, as well as dining with other Neo-Nazis and addressing protestors in the square. Why? For “freedom” and “dignity,” of course.

Back to International Relations 101. Imagine, would the US not have seen the presence of a major Russian political figure publicly encouraging revolt in a country in its sphere as a sign of interference and aggression? Oh, and let’s not forget what was known back in 2016 for those who were following closely that Ukraine played a leading part in the whole Russia-gate lie—a suspicious man might think the Democrats were calling in favours. But how could that possibly be, the Democrats are the moral paragons?

To anyone unfamiliar with the role of Ukraine in what has been the great big porky pie of the Russian meddling in the 2016 US election, as told to the US public by the establishment media, and embellished by congressional hearings, false documents involving urinating prostitutes (apparently to pleasure one of the world’s most famous germaphobe), false testimonies of FBI and CIA agents, false FISA warrants, the spying of one regime upon a potential and then elected president and his team, and books about Trump being cultivated by the Russians, spawning a report—that it seems its overseer, Robert Mueller, did not even read very carefully—a report that came up with… nothing. Well, OK, it came up with the conclusion that the President may have obstructed justice, not bad given how that led to the imprisonment of retired lieutenant general Michael Flynn. But even that didn’t work.

Trump, for many including me, is the most important president since the Second World War, even more so than Regan in one all-important way: it was during his term that the divide within the United States of America reached a breaking-point of no return. I can agree with the never-Trumpers that such a man being elected was a sign of moral decay, though unlike them I agreed with his supporters that his greatest virtue, amongst countless vices, private and public, was his utter refusal to cower in the face of endless adversity. And then there is the issue of the 2016 two-horse race: one candidate had made a fortune out of shonky real estate deals, and fleecing gullible students and investors; the other had started her fortune by a legal, property flip scam preying on retirees who could not meet the small print requirements, which allowed her and Bill and other cronies to take back and resell the assets—that, and all the stuff in Clinton Cash, of trading political influence for dosh.

There was simply no other position that one could take once he was elected than being against him, or not so much for him, but against those who were against him because they could not abide by the usual protocols of truth and decency, and the most fundamental requirement for the persistence of democracy, acceptance of electoral defeat. An anti-democratic virus swept through the media, the courts, the Senate and Congress, and ate into friendships and families. The Cold Civil War had begun, and its centre was exaggerated fears, and lies.

I have never been interested in Trump’s hyperbole, which was part and parcel of his character, and the common way of all politicians (though he had a pretty clever way, as Scott Adams observed, of coming up with sling-shots to hit his enemies—”crooked Hilary,” “Lying Ted,” etc.) and which were often treated as literal directives/claims (“drink the disinfectant and be cured of COVID”). And the lies that were obviously lies (like how Stormy Daniels was not paid to keep her mouth shut), as opposed to what the media said were lies but weren’t—were the kinds of things that only mattered in a world where there were some common core values and national commitments. I was more sympathetic to the plight of his regionally located working-class supporters, who had been getting the raw deal of globalization and who were treated as stupid because they objected to the urban smarties, stars, and monied people telling them what to think and accept as normal and desirable—and ensuring their wages were never going to go up. It wasn’t the lies about Trump as such that I found so reprehensible, it was the lies enabling the rapid and destructive impact of a ruling class whose faux compassion, spiritual emptiness and self-indulgent sense of its own rectitude and entitlement to rule not only the United States of America but the rest of the planet, was destroying what had once been seen as the global centre of creative ingenuity, enterprise and independent-mindedness.

And at the centre of those lies were the universities that had originally crafted and inculcated these lies in their more highfalutin versions, and the mainstream media whose lies about the “facts” were as flies to the sandpaper of a nihilistic and stupid mindset. Their lies led to what we have now: a mainstream media that is but a megaphone of the globalist world that they, like their employers and most of the political and global capitalist class, share. One will, of course, recall, that of all Trump’s promises (one he did not fulfil), the key to his platform and support base was, “build the wall.” The national labor-capital nexus (that had by the way been a key plank of the Democrats even in the 1990s)—as opposed to global capital-labour (that had been the Republican rallying position)—meant nothing, if there were no nation, and if capital flow paid no heed to the labour of citizens.

Victor David Hanson, whom I admire so much, but disagree with so deeply about this war, was absolutely right to see the issue of citizenship and its loss at the heart of Trump and his victory and defeat. Angelo Codevilla, another International Relations expert, initially someone rather contemptuous of Trump before seeing what the issue really had become, saw that this was a kind of last stand for the republic (this idea is mocked in the television drama the Succession, which is the kind of clever confused irrelevance that feasts the mind of a dying culture).

Open borders was the desired end that the Democrats could not present as policy in government, but could do all in their power to enable whilst in opposition, was ever a way of bringing about the end of citizenship. The power to bestow citizenship has always been the prerogative of peoples and their government (and it still is the official Democrat position). But this was the issue that defined Trump as a racist, and thus made of him and his supporters something less than human—and it was the issue that the media and their masters most lied about.

The initial big piece of deceit—the concealment of information, just prior to the election—was the suppression of Hilary Clinton’s private email server, which meant there would never be a public record of how she combined official affairs of state with private fund-raising. History has a funny way of repeating itself—just prior to the 2020 election, there was another story crying out for reporting that journalists wanted to know nothing about. That was Hunter Biden’s missing lap-story, a story that just keeps leaking out. Here though what is an important part of the repetition with a difference was the part that has direct bearing on how the current war is being sold in the West as a war of Western freedom and truthfulness versus those lying deceitful Russian conquerors. Not only did the journalists not follow up on the missing laptop by going and investigating and reporting the startling materials it contained, they accepted a completely concocted story—a lie by any other name—that it was a Russian false-flag/piece of disinformation.

This lie that had the authority behind it of a pack of liars in the intelligence and military services, whose task in a normal democracy was to serve the administration of the elected president. But by 2020, lies were unquestionable truth: Trump supported and did not condemn white supremacists in Charlottesville; Justice Kavanaugh was a rapist; the Floyd riots of 2020 were not violent, the expressions of grief for a martyr to justice; Kyle Rittenhouse was a white supremacist; the January 6 riot of 2021 was an “insurrection” and there was no hidden Antifa presence. Indeed, there were so many lies that even leftist journalists like Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald, Jimmy Dore, (and ex-Bernie supporter) Tim Pool could not bear the toxic sludge.

But the lies and deceptions, as I have indicated, were not only coming from the media, nor from politicians, who one expects to lie so they can gain/retain power. The fact that the term “deep-state” became so widely used by podcasters and journalists who were critical of the political misbehaviour and lies, including those of high-ranking CIA and FBI, was a symptom of the scale of the problem—and not, as the mainstream journalists would have it that it was all proof of the widespread influence of the crazy conspiracy whack-job Q Anon.

The feverishness of the mindset of the elite reached such extraordinary levels of panic that the highest officials in the intelligence agencies and army thought it their duty to protect the people from the man that the people had voted into office by withholding information, leaking confidential memos, or bald-facedly lying to him. The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Milley, of his own initiative, assured his Chinese counterpart that if ordered to attack China by the President, he would not do so. In normal times this would have been called what it was—treason. But this was a time when generals and admirals could not line up quickly enough to publicly defy their commander-in-chief.

It was also, and still is, a time so completely crazed that its ruling class appointed a man to the most important military position in the world, and chief military advisor to the most powerful man in the world, who is so stupid that he not only cannot see what anyone other than a complete brainwashed nincompoop can—that critical race theory is just a pile of half-baked truths and total bollocks that rival in historical nuance any primary school book the Nazis or communist had their kiddies read—but that he thought the armed forces should also get down and study it. Heck, why stop at burning and looting stores and cities, let’s take the peaceful protests into base camps.

After 2016 what now was evident to all was that the media, the academy, the deep state, schools, and the majority of those presiding over US political and legal institutions had all allied themselves with one political party. And while they were happy to hand out the megaphones to the never-Trumpers, who never understood what was going on in the world—Trump is evil/ Putin is evil/Hitler is evil, ergo…. Together they all conspired (oh, there’s that word again!) in the compete destruction of the independence of these institutions, as well as their essential function within the preservation of liberty and democracy.

So arrogant and blind to their own admixture of uncontrollable ambition, and the limits of their intelligence and knowledge were they that it seems none of the Democrats, whether politicians, professors, judges, journalists or other leading professions thought to get together with their pals and ask: did the people vote for that philandering clownish scam artist fraud because we were total rubbish? Had they asked the question and sought to stop being “total” rubbish—instead, of being mere rubbish like Trump’s Team, they doubled down. And as Molly Ball infamously let the cat out of the bag, formed “a well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information.”

Instead of looking at their own failings to connect with such a substantial part of the American people, by thoughtfully exploring how they might assist in making the USA a far less sorry and stupid place than it is today, they denounced anyone who didn’t think like them. They didn’t ask the question because they just wanted to save their own pathetic asses so they could continue to “lead” the charge in the destruction of very basic common sense and decency. These people—irrespective of their race, gender, sexual proclivity, limb “able-ness”—are to the end of democracy what the French frock-wearing puff-powder-wig lot in 1788 were to the end of the “ancient regime.” And they then had the temerity to dream up the term “white privilege” to abuse and crush the political voices of people who struggle to put food on the table and pay school bills, and the shameless cunning to paint the whites who voted against them as white supremacists along with the blacks and peoples of colour as their brainwashed lackeys.

And to rub the noses of the people whose hatred they could never fathom, they engineered the electoral victory of Joe Biden – did they really think the white trash and their Uncle Tom allies, who were so desperate to stop the social break down, and economic decline that they were living in that they voted for Trump, did not notice that the Du Pont family and their man Biden, and most of the whole zillionaire crowd backing the Democrats and a whole bunch of Democrat leaders—Pelossi, Schumer, Schiff etc.etc. were as wealthy as they were white. And making Harris VP was also a real strike against privilege.

One can hear them sitting round deciding who would be Joe’s back up, and provide the true face of diversity: “Yeah, yeah, we know her family had piles of money. Ok, so she is not really (US) black. Come on man/ sorry I meant ZI is black enough—the people will love her, especially when she cracks up. And you know out there is some poor starry-eyed black child brought up in a crack-house (yeah, we should give them a free crack pipe—I know that was Hunter’s idea)—thinking she too could be in the White House just like Obama and now Kamala. We need to get hold of Harvey. Sorry, he’s preoccupied at the moment, I mean Steve to make a biopic her—and throw in an ending in which the kid is President. Hey, pass the blow, Joe.” “Yeah,” the more profound among them reflected, “but it’s us—or Hitler.”

From the moment that Trump won the election, and celebrities, many of whom years earlier had schmoozed up to him in their talk-shows and parties, even encouraged him to run for politics, began to tell everyone that he was a tyrant. And just in case people didn’t get it, a production of Julius Caesar—with Caesar made to appear like Trump—was put on in Central Park, where the audience would feel great that a living replica of the “tyrant” had been stabbed to death. Surely, he was a tyrant, even that Yale historian Timothy Snyder (before he became a regular on the political talk show circuit, he had been a serious professor of history) had written a book saying the same thing—and to prove it he pointed out that back in the 1930s American fascists wanted to make America great again too, and so Trump was just like Benito Mussolini. Trump was such a tyrant that there were calls for his impeachment, before he had enacted any policies—and to repeat, there was not a single policy that was not previously part of the consensus of all Western democracies.

And as for wanting to cooperate Russia, hadn’t it been Bernie Sanders who flew off to a have his honeymoon in the USSR (you’ve got to hand it to Bernie; he really knows how to sweep a girl off her feet) to establish sister city relations with a Russian city, and wasn’t it Obama who, thinking he was off mic told the then President Medvedev that he would have more “flexibility in dealing with Russia after the election”? But when Trump wanted to do that – well shebang. That was bigger than World War Three. And how could anyone let Trump be in charge of the nuclear button. It didn’t matter what the issue anything that Trump did was a source of utter hysteria, though generally it was things he didn’t do but that people said he had done that led those more suited to politics actually having something to do with reality to describe what was happening around them as Trump Derangement Syndrome—an adaptation of the term that Krauthammer (a former Mondale Democrat, and stolid anti-Trump Republican commentator) had coined for Bush.

The Director of the FBI, who spied, leaked, and lied, thought it was perfectly reasonable to set the ball rolling for all those other treasonous intelligence and military leaders to show their contempt for the nation’s President (and thus by implication all those who voted for him. He went on TV to say how proud he was of his daughter and wife joining the pussy-hatted protest that occurred immediately upon Trump taking office.

Robert de Niro, in his 70s and not in terrific shape, though I suspect completely coked up, went on TV thinking he was really Jake LaMotta and said he was gonna punch Trump’s lights out. In the mix of this Walpurgis night some could just not get the pitch-and-madness of the mood quite right—poor Kathy Griffin pulled up a wax severed head of Trump dripping blood—as if she had saved the country by beheading the tyrant. But there was some tut-tutting that this was just a little too much—and she boo-hooed about the unfairness of it all: why had she just not called for his assassination like other celebrities and journalists?

One would think that if Putin really were hell-bent on destroying the West, this must have been the moment. There would have been no better time than the 2020 summer race riots for him to have walked and said, “OK, hands up,” while Milley and the generals and the boys from intel were in a study group parsing the more highfalutin texts of Judith Butler and Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw so they could better understand how to lead the nation and free those people who at the moment were busy burning down neighbourhoods. If you think I get hot under the collar about the imbecility of all this please check out Karen Kennedy. She is a lady of wrathful truth, the likes of which gives one a flicker of hope.

Given the lies and sheer scale of abuse of power, the blatant refusal to play by any rule book that would enable power not only to be transferred legitimately but accepted by those administering and executing the elected government’s power (this would be part of any 101 Introduction to Political Science course dealing with democracy)—is it really any wonder that there are so many people who simply do not trust a word that the media reports—about anything?

Question: how many times does someone have to lie to you before you stop listening?

But it was that one big fat mother of all lies that was the most reckless of the lot, one that not only succeeded in breaking any trust between those who want to make completely different futures, in which there is no longer any place for their opponents, but of making an enemy of Russia, when there was absolutely no need to. I won’t go into the mechanics of the lie, but there was a huge amount of coverage in the “off Broadway” media, which in those days was easy to discover, for anyone who wanted to wander into the narrower streets of information gathering and dissemination, which Google, DuckDuckGo and YouTube now want to eliminate in the way Amazon’s aim is to ensure that there are no towns with bricks-and-mortar stores competing with them.

People who found their news there found some really interesting and talented people. Far cleverer, in the main, than what was offered up as commentary on the television. Has anyone ever though Rachel Maddow, Don Lemon, the gaggle that do the View (Whoopi’s still there, the she’s so smart that she can see that the holocaust had nothing to with racism), Anderson Cooper have ever once said anything that was remotely insightful? Well, sadly, yes—which shows yet again why Xi and Vlad don’t want anything to do with the world these people are trying to make. In any case, you only have to look at this bunch and pretty much all the other self-righteous airheads on the main networks to understand why millions of people tune into Stephen Crowder, Jordan Peterson, Joe Rogan, just to a name few of the more famous youtubers whose very existence has caused thousands of heart attacks and aneurisms among those who are addicted to mainstream media misinformation.

The old media modes had become outmoded, and losing money hand over fist. Their commercial model has been in trouble for quite a while, and they had to take a stand to distinguish what they did as truth from what citizen journalists, and podcasters did was… that was “conspiracy theory”, or misinformation. The mainstream media could provide the fact-checkers, that is people who came from the mainstream media, to establish what truth was really truth, which was what they and their mates said it was. Shortly after Biden took office the New York Times called for a “truth commission” and “reality Czar.” That was when all the search engines and YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc. became the de facto “truth commission”—many like Sascha Baron Cohen (who has turned into the Manhattan version of his creation Ali G, though with more self-righteousness and half the brain power) think it is nowhere near enough.

How crazy could things get in the USA , and the rest of the West is just a heartbeat behind usually? So crazy that the ruling political class’ version of new normal is what Rachel Levine or Sam Brinton represent. While it is a sackable offense in some environments, possibly a crime of hate speech, to say this, to take them and their fantasies of self-creation seriously is something that just can’t be done by most people because it is completely silly—that’s not being transphobic, that’s merely reflexive “insaneo-phobia.”

But don’t take my word for it, Joe, please just have them visit India, China, Africa, and a bunch of Muslim countries to discuss any topic they have expertise in. Or, to make it even easier and cheaper (they will only need one-way tickets), send them to speak with the Taliban government in Afghanistan where they can deliver Anthony Blinken’s message of disappointment in their lack of diversity since kicking out the infidel—they could also bring presents, such as little rainbow flags, or signed copies of books like Cemetery Boys. He might also want to send the Squad along with them in case they still fail to realize just how diverse the US government really is. And while they are at it, they might just inform their various counterparts of their preferred pronouns—and whisper in their ear that they don’t like to be called women, but “birthing people,” and they like to choose their own “bathrooms.”

If Vlad or Xi ever really get serious about taking over the planet, their biggest obstacle will be to actually stop rolling around the ground laughing at the countless examples of what has befallen what was once the greatest military power on earth.

What has also befallen the elite of the Western world is a complete inability to distinguish fact from fantasy—and because they think everybody else, except the very stupid and ignorant, think like them. Most of them don’t even realize that they resort to lying when enabling the common self-deluding stories does not suffice. What they, or someone who thinks like them, says is true—that is the real meaning of “trust the science.” Which is why they will eventually have to change every search engine algorithm and de-platform anything or anyone they do not agree with; or if they are feeling that maybe the plebs should have some peanuts, just issue warnings saying that what they are watching or reading has been “deemed to be offensive as inappropriate for some viewers.”

Yes, that is truly what now greets anyone wanting to watch documentaries that deviate from the consensus as laid down by this unofficial “reality czar.” This is what came out of the Trump years- nothing Trump did came anywhere near the destruction of the very possibility of cultivating independence of mind or even providing an environment for “higher learning.” Trump had his agenda and goals, agree or not, but they did not require the complete and total control of which pronouns had to be used, or of what thoughts might be expressed on a range of topics.

Trump connected with a group of people who wanted what he promised—even if he did not deliver that much. Though, I have never seen a presidency fighting on so many fronts, including within the administration itself which was just another front for the civil war. But he did not entrench a panoply of formulae and observances, as commandeering as any divine scripture might mandate, that are as brainless as any ideas have ever been ‘thought up’ and yet the themselves are precisely the requisite “stuff” for brainwashing a society of infantilism, imbecility and indulgence.

No one was easier to dupe than the elite of the United States—well, OK, New Zealand and Australia punched way above their weight in believing whatever was required. And that is how it was possible to get people in the United States to buy the big lie of Trump being a Russian plant.

When the Russia-lie was being spread, it was not hard to uncover. Anyone who went hunting around on their computer quickly found that the lie had been exposed as soon as it had been hatched.

The hatching involves numerous players that go back to Hilary’s campaign, and the Steele dossier—but they are just the start of it. The scope and scale and mechanics, which became a kind of obsession of mine through 2016 to 2018 is too intricate to repeat here. Of course, because it is wide-ranging and was deliberate—even though it was mostly spread by idiot journalists and talk show hosts who couldn’t wait to tell it because this was going to bring Trump down and show the world what a scheming crook he is—it can easily be made to be a conspiracy theory. But what else can one call a bunch of people using their political and economic influence in back room deals, conversations, plans, tactics and deeds that they conceal from public viewing—other than a conspiracy?

My point is not that the Republicans don’t and didn’t conspire to have their way in this or other elections. It is that the mainstream media stopped investigating anything that would harm their “team,” which is why people who still believed in the New York Times being a bastion of impartial truth, or that CNN was a candid and critical source of absolutely reliable information believed the big lie they were being told, and did not bother to follow through to uncover information about (off the top of my head) GPS fusion, Glenn Simpson, Christopher Steele, the Penn Quarterly, money connections between the Hilary campaign and/or organizations connected with the disinformation trail from Khodorkovsky and Soros—who themselves are pals and cronies as with each other as well as Hilary.

Everyone knew about the infamous Trump tower meeting, but who is Natalia Veselnitskaya, and what exactly did she want to tell the Trump campaign about (hint the Magnitsky Act has a lot to do with it, and Don Jr., had little time or capacity to grasp its significance)? Or who is Alexandra Chalupa and what role did she play? These people are just a tiny tip of the story. It was such a dizzying tale in terms of who did exactly what that it was much easier to just say, “Nah, that’s a conspiracy theory.”

The fact that FBI and CIA agents had been proven to have conspired against the president did not lead any reporters from the big print media to ask, “But what is being claimed here and what is happening exactly?” Given that it was also the media moguls who hated Trump and, most pertinently the anti-globalist direction he was trying to revive (even Rupert did not like him), reporters in most mainstream media (Fox was not all pro-Trump, but it was the one mainstream outlet where pro-Trumpers could tune into hosts expressing their views and concerns) simply did their bidding and skewed the news so that everything globalist was very good, and everything MAGA/populist was very, very bad.

I spoke earlier about IR requiring an understanding of interests—that also involves, in any serious analysis, placing oneself in the picture and identifying one’s own interests, so that one can see the limit of one’s own place in the world and start to comprehend that of others. Any sense of that, which is to say any sense that might have elevated an understanding of the political circumstances, issues, and choices of the hour by asking where the media and its owners and reporters fitted into the larger good of the country’s future was never asked by mainstream reporters themselves.

Thus, ignorance spawned arrogance on a monstrous scale—in part because of the amplificatory nature of the technologies which we now deploy to express our better or worse hearts and minds and souls. The better, more creative part led to the emergence of “citizen journalists” who were not aligned to old power-structures, and who were beholden only to their own sense of what they saw and wished for. It was to the media what the Reformation was to Christendom, but unfortunately there was no equivalent to the reforms, and reinvigoration of Catholicism that was the Counter-Reformation.

Thus, they never even tried to expose the players and machinations involved in a conspiracy infinitely bigger than Watergate (yes, back then one could say that people who conspired to spy on their political opponents had conspired to spy on their political opponents), and possibly even more intricate than the WMDs being a lie, belief in which probably had more to do with CIA incompetence, and a failure to vet sources (because of the desire to get the answer they wanted). They were happy to garner favour with their bosses and repeat whatever someone who was in on it or would benefit from it (the entire Democrat machine—which also, happily, included most reporters) told them.

The lie, though, was spotted very early on by a number of former intelligence officials aware of the technology involved in early parts of the hatching—people like William Binney, and Ray McGovern, who really hated Trump, but who did a ton of stuff having to do with servers and downloads and deliberately misleading server “prints.” Others followed the trails of many of the players—Lee Stranahan was right up there—which is why he turns up again in the documentary about Ukraine in 2018; so were journalists from the Epoch Times. There were also some writers from the Hill—of course, there were far more than I can now recall.

The politics of those doing the exposing varied and the aforementioned leftist journalists also joined in: what they saw and what I saw went far beyond divisions concerning policy. It was horror at the recklessness of what the rulers of commerce, technology, ideas, were doing—it was nothing less than a threat to world peace. Putin had, as if from nowhere become the evilest man on the planet. So much so that even Fox presenters, who hated the Democrats and who night after night denounced and brought on guests exposing the lie, made sure that they established their anti-Putin bona fides.

All this created a completely unnecessary enemy of a man they knew next to nothing about; whose sphere of influence and, more importantly, whose geopolitical priorities were on the other side of the world. And it had done so at a time when people, who only a few years earlier were complaining about their political opponents, now spoke of the coming civil war, or the prospect of state secession. It had succeeded in completely breaking up the spirit of the nation, and with it contributed hugely to the cracks and fractures in the rest of the Western world, produced by the same polarised forces and elite mindset.

Need I repeat the obvious—this had nothing to do with Putin.

I have no way of knowing whether the intention, dated back to before 2014, was always to provoke Russia into a war, as an excuse to try and bring its economy down and bog Russia in another, albeit closer to home, dispute that might eventually bring down that “crook Putin.” I would not put it pass them. It has all the hallmarks of other great disastrous plans. In any case, the fact is that the claim was a lie that the majority of those who voted for the Democrats still think is the truth. And none of the journalists/ talk show people who spread it have ever apologized for misinformation—and of course YouTube, Twitter, Facebook don’t censor the people who continue to tell this Russia lie—a lie which rebooted the Cold War.

One of the people who could barely believe the scale of the “Russia stole the election” lie and who saw that this was an act of madness that would have a disastrous impact upon US/Russian relations was the former Soviet expert and historian (and, incidentally, a Democrat who utterly disliked Trump) Stephen Cohen. He went from being a regular commentator on Russian affairs at CNN to persona non-grata, after initially trying to explain why the expansion of NATO was a bad thing and why what the West was reporting about Ukraine in 2014 was also wrong.

To make matters worse for himself, Cohen had publicly expressed his doubts about some of the crimes that the West had blamed on Putin. He pointed out that even the family of Anna Politkovskay, (author of Putin’s Russia: Life in a Failing Democracy), who were personal friends of his, were certain it was Chechen gangsters not Putin behind her death. Cohen also drew attention to the fact that the other death the media always present as an open-and-shut case of a Putin assassination, Litvenenko, was most likely not one of his either—which was also what Litvenenko’s father said. But the climate was and remains such that any claim can be made about Putin, which involves oodles of cash and bodies, must be true.

Speaking of which, enter William Browder, self-proclaimed Number 1 enemy of Putin. As he tells the story, Putin can’t sleep at night scheming and plotting to get Browder. One wonders how Putin manages to run a country, in between the schemes and dreams of revenge and the poker games with his cronies. Browder is a best-selling author of two books, Red Notice, A True Story of High Finance, Murder, and One Man’s Fight for Justice, and (for those who found the previous title just a little too bland) Freezing Order : A True Story of Russian Money Laundering, State-Sponsored Murder, and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath. He is also a regular commentator on all the media outlets (Fox loves him), where he pontificates on all things Putin, including the war. According to him, he knows Putin’s mind inside out; he knows where the bodies are buried, and where the cash is stashed. Oh, and he is also a serial liar, hence he fits right into our story and the media empire of lies.

Browder, the grandson of Earl Browder, the general secretary of the US communist party, made a fortune by sweeping up the assets for a fraction of their real prices in the country his grandfather had seen as the future land of hope and plenty. When Bill visited that future in those Wild West days of the 1990s, he had his hopes fulfilled and got plenty. He set up an “investment” company and made so much money that he made himself an Irish citizen (cheaper taxes—America, the land of free enterprise, demands that if its overseas citizens are working, then any gap between the tax paid to their country of residence and the United States must go to Uncle Sam). He was also done for tax evasion in Russia.

In his meeting with Trump in 2018, it was Browder whom Putin was talking about when he spoke of 400 million dollars illegally being sent from Russia to the Clinton campaign. Politifact, in the typical ham-fisted manner that is meant to pass as genuine factchecking, does a meticulously stupid piece wanting to disprove the claim by focusing upon publicly declared monies that were donated to the Clintons. It does not address the really important part, that the 400 millions dollars were unpaid taxes on profits made by Browder’s company. Politifact also assumes Putin must be lying because Browder and the Clintons (who like Putin are also said have buried bodies (see the View’s response to Norm MacDonald on that one). But even saying that is a conspiracy theory, while everything you think you know about bad Vlad must be true) would be incapable of finding ways to launder the money—that is evil Vlad’s specialty.

Though Trump probably did not pick it up, Putin was referring to the money and the event that is at the centre not only of Browder’s Red Notice, but the impetus behind an Act that had already set Russia and the US on a path of serious conflict, the Magnitsky Act, a bi-partisan Bill that came into being under the Obama regime in 2012. It allowed for the freezing and confiscation of assets of those deemed to be violators of human rights—funnily enough, at the time of its implementation, all Russians, and all on the wrong side of Putin versus Khodorkovsky, Lebedev and the other ‘victims’ of Putin’s grand larceny and persecution. Though, what is really funny, is that this bunch of extremely wealthy Russians had managed to get an Irishman to lobby on their behalf. Moreover, however much wealth they had lost, had not made them paupers. The idea that maybe they were just tax frauds never seemed to bother anyone – anyway what right did Putin have to prosecute anyone for tax evasion? It was introduced by Benjamin Cardin and John McCain.

One might recall that back in 2008, when he was running for President, all sorts of dirt had been dug up by the Democrats to the effect McCain had done a lot of singing in the Vietnam cage. The hatred of Vietnam toward McCain blocking their efforts to recover and bring home missing and dead service men is still intense. Trump’s notorious quip about preferring heroes who hadn’t been captured was his nod to the Vets. Dan Bongino from Fox—very anti-Putin—also claimed that Russia-got-Trump-elected elected was a replay of a plan initially hatched back in 2007 in case McCain got in. That might be true or complete nonsense. I have read his book, but not checked his sources; but if true, I don’ think that they would have needed to unload that fabrication because McCain had already become very tight with what the Democrats were brewing up in terms of foreign policy (which was not that different from the neo-con derangement syndrome stuff). He was also sidling up to Browder and Khodorkovsky (who also pushed for the bill) by using his political influence to join the task of taking Putin down. Apart from his stint in the Maidan, Browder’s (and McCain’s) success in crafting and implementing The Act, which was initially limited to the USA and Russian nationals, has since been adopted in the EU, Canada and several other countries. Need I say it, Browder may be a liar, but he is a very powerful man.

One would be very naïve to underestimate the importance of the Magnitsky Act in the straining of international relations between the Western world and Russia, though as it turns out it was but a prelude to the present decision by the US government to freeze assets and impose sanctions on Russia because of its invasion. But I should just mention that we get into some pretty murky stuff when we start looking at US political legislation and Russia.

First, isn’t it weird that the US would introduce legislation instigated by an Irish citizen who has no government position? Browder, by the way is also a business associate of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and isn’t it also interesting that it was Joe Biden who introduced S.Res.322—”A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate on the trial, sentencing and imprisonment of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev.”

Back in 2010, Hilary was also very vocally denouncing Russia for finding poor Mikhail and other oligarchs guilty of plundering the country—tax fraud was a topic near and dear to her heart, as was the cause of saving and recruiting billionaire clients for hers and Bill’s noble Foundation. Is it really far-fetched to believe that people as wealthy as Khodorkovsky and Lebedev, would be buying power and influence in the US government and leaving money trails so that politicians will help them bring down their enemy? Like Browder, Khodorkovsky is also talking to anyone who will listen and publishing about Putin’s tyranny and how this war will lead to regime collapse and overthrow—he is calling for demonstrations against the war, and using his considerable media machine influence to prepare Russians for him—or his man— as the next leader of Russia.

Whether orchestrated or not, the players who are intent on taking down Putin stand the most to benefit from Ukraine being in civil war; or, as now, outright war with Russia. Anyone who knows the least bit about the region and its history knows that the fate of Russia is inextricably tied to that of Ukraine (another thing Putin has stated repeatedly). And the US interference in the Maidan was above all a means of destabilizing the region in order to curb the power of Putin, and dismantle the reach of the regime—and, gain is it far-fetched to think that the stated objectives of Putin’s oligarch enemies, regime change, might not be what is the real end-game?

Maybe Khodorkovsky and co. have been trying to spell out the strategy for Joe in ways that he could say it without looking like he was saying it, yet making sure it was being said. If that sounds convoluted, it is because it is and Joe’s recent summersaults around the matter of “regime change” sure sounded convoluted. Besides, crafting legislation to redress the wrongs done to two non-American citizens, Joe also took such a personal interest in Ukraine that he threatened to withhold a billion dollars in military aid if the Ukrainian President did not change his prosecutor in the case against Burisma who also happened to employ his son. Joe’s smirking braggadocio, as he recounts the tale to fawning journalists is available for all to see on YouTube—and again the factchecking on this is as laughable as the idea that Hunter’s lost laptop is a Russian fabrication. Intrigue and murk? I think so.

But what any of us know, who are not actually in the game, is little. Still, there are questions aplenty that need to be asked, and our mainstream reporters are not asking them; and given the connection between the Magnitsky Act and the timing of the Maidan, questions about the Irish man behind an Act that has spread around the globe, and was the prelude to what is now a proxy weapons war and outright economic war against Russia, are definitely worth asking.

One person who ended up digging into that story through his firsthand acquaintance with Browder was the Russian filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov, a friend and sometime collaborator with Politkovskay. His CV also includes a string of critical documentaries on Putin and the FSB. Nekrasov was so inspired by Browder’s first book, he decided to do a feature film of it. But as work on the film progressed, he came to the realization that Browder’s fiction wagged the tail of any truth the dog might have had. Nekrasov had intended to tell the story of Browder’s heroism in the face of rogue officials robbing the titles of his business and murdering his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky. In the making, it transformed into a documentary about Browder’s lies.

Nekrasov’s loss of faith in the Browder story started with his attempt to recreate the scene in the cell in which Magnitsky had ostensibly been murdered—and which he had received official access to—and discovered that the details, beginning with the size of the cell and number of police involved in the murder, could not possibly have been true. As he gathered more evidence, he reluctantly concluded that the official report about the cause of Magnitsky’s death (natural causes from a pre-existing health condition) was probably accurate. One would think any journalist familiar with how the Magnitsky Act had come into being and has been sold, and what it has meant to US (now Western) Russian relations, might be interested in following up on the fact that the martyr to the story was not, in fact, a martyr. Nor, as it turns out, is another claim about Magnitsky, a claim that is repeated wherever and to whomever Browder tells his story, was Sergei Magnitsky Moscow’s finest lawyer – he wasn’t a lawyer at all but an accountant – assisting Browder in tax fraud.

Watch the numerous videos of Browder’s talks and see how scripted they are. Also note the way in which the pauses and asides come with rehearsed regularity. They are not the gestures and manners of speech of a man whose mind is flooded by the associations that have come from persecution, whose feelings go into turmoil whenever these painful memories come up. They are the manners and gestures of a calculative man, a man who once he has plotted out the story sticks rigidly to the script, lest someone notice the loose threads that may unravel it. Note too, if you can watch this movie that Browder has attempted to banish from ever being publicly shown, like Khodorkovsky he can go from sweet charmer to deadly harmer in the blink of an eye. He is a bully as well as a liar; and as the film unfolds—it begins as a film about the making of the film—Nekrasov is on the receiving end of Browder’s early threatening glares and stares when he seeks clarification about the anomalies in Browder’s story—that also include the location and nature of this great corporation that he has built up.

The film then explosively addresses the centre-piece of Browder’s claim about the raiding and seizure of the deeds of registration and ownership when Nekrasov tracks down the ostensible policeman, supposedly living a life like Browder himself and his friend Mikhail, but who drives an old bomb and lives in a very modest flat, closer to what Browder’s “business dwellings” look like than the swanky places Browder lives in. (The film is worth watching just for the comedy of the scene where Nekrasov “discovers” the exact location of this billion-dollar plus operation, and the “staff” running it).

None with an open mind could watch this film, The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes (available only through a website of that name) and think that Browder’s story was anything other than fake—unless one is either on Browder’s payroll or a hack journalist. The film was denounced as a piece of “agit-prop” by the Washington Post.

For further information discrediting claims that Bill Browder was an innocent victim of crooked Putin, and that he is a great example of Western enterprise and moral courage apart from Lee Stranahan’s many podcasts on the topic, Lucy Komisar written major exposés of Browder’s porky pies.

If Browder is, as he and his publishers, love to tell us, Putin’s Number 1 enemy, it might be worth pausing on the claim: that the Number 1 enemy of Putin are Western lies; and in the broader picture that is also the case for Ukrainians now fleeing a country in which those who have told the lies to induce the war are nowhere to be seen. I might have been pretty scathing of Zelensky, but anyone who has been deceived this badly and who is living in the midst of such a horror—including those who were previously left to suffer in media silence—deserved our pity, and for us to at least try and speak some truth.


I may very well have lost readers on the way through these thickets thinking it is a mere ramble and haphazard rummage and roaming. My digressions about the craziness of our times are intended to highlight the relationships between the events and interests that either are essential to understand the war’s background, foreground, or what is at stake in it. I have merely scratched the surface. I know how little I know—there is so much more than main players know, that we don’t, as well as so much more that they don’t know- like how it will all play out in the immediate and distant future.

I have attempted to express why I cannot help but see this war as but one more “item” in a world divided between those seeking to fabricate a technocratic future and those who fear the mind-numbing conformity and spiritless nature that is required for its creation, as well as the vacuity of its destination. This would be truly an end of history, and an end of man—to use formulae from two ostensibly opposed enablers of this brave new world.

The forces at work both in the making and in the reaction are great; and as I have said throughout, most of those involved do not see exactly what they are doing or making. Hence too it is not unreasonable to fear the explosive consequences that are ever the inevitable accompaniment of great and rapid demographic upheaval through mass waves of immigration and the swift juxtaposition of different cultures.

I mentioned Karl Popper’s influence on George Soros; and to those who think they are being clever by not seeing how powerful this man is, all I can say is read up. Leaving aside Popper’s contribution to the philosophy of science and more generally how knowledge is best gathered and developed for the benefit of society, his great omission, which tends to be an oversight of most liberals, certainly of those in the “idea-ist” camp, is a failure to give sufficient importance to traditions. That is Soros’ failure, and the failure of globalists more generally. The failure is generally hidden, as I have also said, by a dialectical web of enlightened progressivism and Disney-styled romanticism, which wants Muslims, Confucian based tradition, tribal peoples, Hindus, Orthodox and all the world to live like Western, sexually-fluid undergraduates, celebrities and the mega rich. How this horrible stupidity plays, has already been seen in the disastrous attempts at regime change that the US and NATO have precipitated.

It is also being played out in Western Europe between an “indigenous” population, itself deeply divided between those who wish to trade the traditions of millennia for the globalist one depicted above, and a much more recent group of migrants whose appeals and spiritual commitments come from an entirely different set of circumstances and historical memory—these people themselves have their own divisions and pressures coming from the overspill and fallout of conflicts coming out of their former lands.

The problems back in their homelands are many, as are the causes, but the West’s collaboration in their making is something that intensifies the hatred of the West from people and organizations which hope that they may escape the intolerable present by leaping back into the past and hanging on ever more tightly. Only by living ever more faithfully to the stricture of their traditions can they escape the cursed world that they dwell within and they see as caused by the Western devils, whose own worlds are very hell.

This problem, like all serious political problems, is not a moral problem—morals certainly won’t solve it. It is Europe’s inevitable problem. The US, on the other hand, has made for itself another problem, the problem of racial strife. Race is a dangerous genie, when combined with seeing people primarily as racial types, and the world as a place in which there are only the privileged and the oppressed; and when the privileged themselves teach that they are not deserving of their privilege, then they are welcoming their demise. Again, none of my objections to critical race theory are to some kind of moral ideal standard—it is simply to see that the ideas behind it, and identity politics generally, are as stupid as the implications are deadly. Throw in open borders and the rest of the craziness I have touched upon—it is definitely “Good Night Irene.”

I repeat. I do not like what I see. Please convince me otherwise. But I will add one last thing. In any time or place, where serious matters are being discussed, if you are ever tempted, please pause before you reach for the kinds of platitudinous formulae that seem to be manufactured by Globalist Inc. for nincompoops—they who gave you such gems of thoughtlessness as “99 percent of scientists agree that…”; “trust the science;” “our X strives for excellence;” “we are committed to diversity;” “the discredited claim that;” “conspiracy theorists hold that”—and so on. Such formulae, stupid as they all are, do serve a purpose—to stop people asking awkward questions which might destabilize the consensuses required by globalizing technocrats and their minions to bring us all into their future, with them doing the leading. To such formulae we can add: “This war has happened because of the evil Putin;” “We must stop this evil madman;” and “That is just Russian propaganda.”

Wayne Cristaudo is a philosopher, author, and educator, who has published over a dozen books.

Featured image: “Diogenes searching for an Honest Man,” by Jan Victors, ca. 17th century.

Our Current Cultural Revolution And Hegel’s Critique Of Its Enlightenment Roots


The social and cultural revolution we are now living through is one more in a line of philosophically driven attempts for an elite who believe they know how to improve the world to use our social and political institutions to secure a world ostensibly free from its ailments. Today, the major ailment to be overcome is domination/ oppression, whether it be over non-whites, gay, non-binary or transgender people, those who say hateful things or disseminate non-elite approved information, or domination over the planet and climate.

That the revolution is an alignment and amalgam of liberal, corporate, and ideologically aligned socialistic confluences and forces is as evident in its values as in the alliance that has transpired between multi-billionaires, celebrities, politicians and bureaucrats, academics, and more lowly paid journalists, university students, school teachers, and others who believe in a program grounded in abstract and unattainable ideals.

The contemporary cultural revolution is no more strictly caused by philosophy than the American, French or Russian revolutions were caused by philosophy. Yet like those revolutions, the objectives and priorities of the liberal progressive elite, for all its contradictions, are definitely shaped by philosophy. This is most conspicuous in the appeals to rights, equality, social justice, absolute emancipation, and other values which are woven throughout its moral imperatives. These appeals are to realities which do not exist, and which cannot exist in their entirety.

These “realities” are all ideas which were originally contrived, in different ways and to different degrees by philosophers such as Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Mill, and Marx. At their best, they helped draw attention to social evils that came from the raw deployment of power by those who used their positions of authority or sheer strength for nothing more than their own economic status and political enhancement at the expense of individuals and groups who they plundered or duped. At their worst, these ideas provided a new set of idols, enabling a new priest caste who promised the impossible by destroying existing relative freedoms and legally recognized (and hence limited but attainable) “rights” and relative social concordance.

Theologically, the difference between the living God and an idol is the former creates, the latter devours us. When abstractions cease to be mere generalizations to facilitate a better understanding of associations so we may better solve a problem or make a point, they destroy our ability to discern real problems and possibilities by drawing us into the vortex of the unreal.

The great danger of philosophy, noted over and over again by philosophers, is overreach—and the philosophically based ideologies of modernity are all the result of succumbing to intellectual pride, a preference for the clouds inhabited by abstract beings over actual human beings with their different characters, and their inevitable entanglements and deficiencies. The study of literature in universities today typifies the entrenchment of an ideological victory. Literary Studies has dispensed with character as an essential component in the study of any literary work, which is depicting personal relationships and events, in favour of demanding students all focus upon power relations of identity types. What any identity type is, though, is what it really is only if it conforms to the normative ideas which emancipate a person from the dead weight of an oppressive self-understanding and ideology. A black who is not a supporter of Black Lives Matter (or sees through the financial scandals that have revealed it to be a money-making scam), a woman who does not believe in abortion on demand or beyond a certain time of pregnancy, a gay who does not want to overturn traditional ways of child-rearing or marriage is not a real black/ woman/gay.

Identity and diversity are no longer words which bear scrutiny or even reveal very much about the reality or value of someone or a group at all. They are political terms which defy scrutiny, ideological truncheons designed to dismiss and shame opponents. The terms have no genuine descriptive purpose, rather they are triggers to marshal people into a way of seeing and talking about individuals and groups as if the group and individual members of a group are in need of a unity that those representing and speaking on behalf of the particular identity and championing “diversity” have special knowledge of, and provide.

In this distorted world where the representative and narrator of what its people must be and are if they are to be emancipated, the real person who bears a name and history is only as conscious of their reality as the representative concedes—and hence anyone who thinks the emancipatory narrative and strategy is nonsense, or even disagrees with a policy or generalization that suits a specific political perception, is deluded. It is only the person who completely identifies with an ideological narrative of what it is to be X who is really real—being real means being awake, being “woke.”

That the hiatus between the abstract ideal and the real is unbridgeable is why identity politics is an endless tumult of identifying those who don’t really measure up, the traitors in the midst, the blacks who are really just Uncle Toms if not downright mouthpieces for white-supremacists, the women who are not really women (unlike those women with penises whose only obstacle to being a model abstract emancipated woman is but a mere appendage) etc.

Real human beings are flawed, deficient, and full of contradictions, and hence susceptible to being morally condemned and denounced by the pure, those who align completely with the ideas they have about what is just and true. That the ideas have not been truly tested in the cauldron of history is not something that bothers an educated elite who effortlessly mount untested idea upon idea, criticism upon criticism without the need to genuinely justify why what they are saying is true. Unsurprisingly, the ideas about social justice and how to make progress in the social and political institutions that hold sway today are as riddled with contradictions as the lives of those who would instruct us in how to live ethically, whilst living materially rich but spiritually empty and often broken lives, rearing spiritually empty and often broken children, and creating a spiritually and socially broken society.

The cry for emancipation and social justice are the cries of the heart of people who do not know why they are broken, and whose ideas of how to fix not only their own condition but that of the world are as pertinent to spiritual health and a healthy future for the species as one more drink or hit is to an alcoholic or junkie. The contradiction between a world of moral ruin being created by a group so absolutely assured of their moral diagnoses, moral integrity, and own moral stature—to be assessed by the words they say, and the overwhelming moral fact that they are vocally anti-Republican/anti-capitalist/anti-oppression et. al.—is only invisible to those who are smug and snug in their material surroundings, deaf and blind to what suffering they are making. The contradiction between the progressive self and the chaos of the world is but one of the more glaring contradictions of the modern dialectic, revealing the spiritual weakness of the Western elites’ mind and soul.

The progressive ideology upon which that contradiction rests is in turn held together by the contradictory alliance that requires falsehood be enforced as truth. That elite alliance involves corporatists and statists, ultra-capitalists and socialists, military careerists and passivists, those who wish to eliminate prisons and those (invariably the same people) who continue to demand an ever greater number of laws to punish those who deviate from right thought and (their version of ) morally acceptable action, opposition to the death penalty and opposition to anyone who is critical of abortion without any kind of constraints, opposition to patriarchy and the changing of words so that women are now merely “birthing people,” opposition to genetically modified food and denunciation of any who oppose mandatory Covid vaccines which genetically modify our species—the list is almost endless.

Most philosophers think their job is done when they draw attention to a contradiction. But the real value of any social philosophy is to clarify why the contradictions that do exist occur, and to assess the value of and interests that have generated those contradictions. Those interests and contradictions, as I have just pointed out, play out both in the particular match up of ideas that form a “totality” or ideological “set” and in the match up of people with the ideas. Thus, for example, celebrities, journalists etc. who repeatedly say they believe in “the science” like to think that their understanding of the nature of the world and how to go about improving it deserves not only to be aired but treated as serious social comment.

But in a world where once prestigious institutions of higher learning and academic publishers are outlets for ideology—i.e., for ideas which form a chain of claims that have almost no connection with real historical circumstances, choices and people other than the rational dogmas foisted onto the past in order to secure an ostensibly freer future—why would a professor know more than a newsreader or a pop singer? It is largely thanks to our universities, that ideas now simply boil down to ideology and ideologies can be lined up as products in a supermarket in which there are two kinds of thought products—the good and the bad. Those who have partaken of the good product (the virtuous ideas) share a particular “ism,” which they use to “critique” those with whom they disagree (those who have imbibed the bad product) as belonging to another “ism:” “I am a feminist/ socialist/ progressive/anti-racist/ LGBTQ etc.,” ergo “my enemies are oppressors/racists/conservatives/defenders of patriarchy/white supremacists, etc.”

In so far as the professional classes who run our institutions are all educated to think in this manner, it is only natural that policy has increasingly become an extension of ideology, albeit with all the cracks, problems, compromises and contradictions that come from being applied to a world which is not just an idea. Generally, though, the contingencies that flow on from any attempt to apply an ideology to reality, an alignment of politically rational ideas in keeping with the rational objective (equality/ equity/diversity/freedom/utopia/a society without domination etc.)—are barely noticeable.

The most egregious example of how ideology and policy mishap and blindness align, and one black conservatives especially emphasise but to no avail in the present ideological climate, is how social welfare and the break-down of the two parent family have contributed to the high levels of criminality, incarceration, and poverty among North American blacks. The contradiction between the ostensible objective of the enablement of single parent lower socio-economic families (to help the destitute) and the reality of enabling single parent lower socio-economic families (poverty entrenchment over generations, higher levels of criminality etc.) must not be addressed. For to do so is to show heartlessness—even though apart from creating a raft of employment opportunities for the middle class, providing the services for this great class of state dependents and party clients, from welfare provision to counselling to incarceration, to speak to the actual heartlessness involved in continually enabling dependency and clientelism is to be the most heartless thing anyone could be—a conservative!

But to people whose prestige and sense of self and social and economic placement in the world is inextricably tied in with the plan/ the end goal of the idea of emancipation, as they understand it, and attempt to instantiate it, their idea of emancipation is not up for dispute—it is their absolute. Absolutes tend to hang around and are rarely given up lightly by those who identify with and hence form their own identity around them. Which is why those who question the absolute which gives meaning, economic sustenance, and social and political power to those who have been made by and made to serve the instantiation of the idea are not to be tolerated—they are to be cancelled or “disappeared,” reduced to penury, mocked and denounced, deprived of legal redress or platforms from which to speak. They are inevitably rendered as less than human—mere human garbage, mere pawns for preventing the great today of emancipation, of which some fancy philosophers following the messianic formulation of Jacques Derrida or Giorgio Agamben like to call the “democracy to come,” which involves dismantling all the terrible things like misinformation, freedom to communicate and think bad oppressive thoughts, which leads to the election of unspeakable monsters.

That the contradictions between action and speech, between representation and reality, between those who represent and the represented are all too conspicuous is why a society whose elite claims to be intent on overthrowing domination and enabling freedom actually eliminates free speech. For whereas the authority of past elites was originally grounded in and could be traced back to successful military valour (or in the case of the clergy, spiritual valour), since the French revolution, the authority of the elite, and hence membership, comes from its own rationality, its speech, its prowess in law making.

This would be all well and good were the society as successful in achieving the social happiness and unity its elite promise it can deliver. But the contradiction between the virtuous ends of community, their public verbal articulation and gestural display and the grubby reality involved in the scheming, acquiring and holding onto resources and office, the censoring and denouncing of political opponents, the economic mismanagement, high crime rates, race tensions, political polarization, and a military power that no longer represents any unity of national or social purpose, and which is more attuned to the rights and narratives of career development than to winning wars, is evident to anyone who looks at the world as it is rather than the ideas that wrap it up.


Of all modern philosophers, it was Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) who was most attuned to the role of contradiction, what he called the dialectic, and its role in our thinking, our history, and our institutions. Hegel argued that contradiction and dialectic are intrinsic to thinking.

Dialectic is the dynamic providing shape to thinking, the drive within thought that is the basis of thought: it is the way thinking is done. Prior to Immanuel Kant, metaphysics—the first philosophy to use Aristotle’s original term for metaphysics—laid down the principles discovered by reason that could not be bypassed, and hence were the precondition of any kind of being and hence any kind of knowledge.

Hegel, building upon the insights of Kant, Fichte and Schelling saw that starting with a metaphysics based upon reasons was to bypass the all-important first step in identifying how the elements of thinking itself are developed within the action of thought, and that action is what then enables the formation of principles. In other words, philosophy has to start with logic—logic understood as the dynamic formation, the how of thinking that also shapes and guides its what: Logic is the real first philosophy, or conversely a legitimate metaphysic must be a logic. The irony was that in many ways it was Kant’s attempt to find an unassailable grounding for metaphysics that had sparked the philosophies of Fichte, Schelling and Hegel. Kant had exclaimed that Fichte and Schelling were erecting a metaphysics on nothing more than logic. For their part, they had argued that Kant’s transcendental idealism was based upon a dogmatic understanding of the nature of the faculties of reason which he forced to comply with Aristotelian logic and Newtonian mechanics (which was true, and thus this required a more robust deduction on the elements of thought that could not be bypassed in the formation of any kind of knowledge). But it was Hegel who took the definitive step in deducing metaphysics out of logic, and tracking the way in which logic developed ever more comprehensive principles in its development of the different spheres of knowledge.

In keeping with this, Hegel grasped that the history of philosophy was a history about the nature of thinking. Philosophy itself was thought realizing itself over time, and hence each philosophy was but an articulation of the process of thinking, a moment in the mind’s development or self-actualization. Hegel used the term Geist, which can be translated as spirit, but the spirit of which Hegel writes is mental activity. To repeat, then, Hegel’s starting point was the realization that philosophers have generally (Hegel makes some exception for Heraclitus) focused upon the results of thinking, but not adequately identified the process involved in it.

Hegel’s studies on the history of philosophy remain (with Heidegger’s various lectures on the history of philosophy and metaphysics) the most brilliant lectures on philosophy ever given by a philosopher, because of how he is able to enter into the content of the tradition whilst demonstrating the dynamic relationship that transpires between the respective philosophies that have played such a decisive part in identifying the problems of an age and the accumulation over time of concepts and ideas that form our thoughts, traditions, values, and institutions. Of all his philosophical studies, and for those who are new to Hegel, I cannot recommend strongly enough his early book, Faith and Knowledge, as a study of the dialectical relationship that exists between the philosophies of Immanuel Kant, J.G. Fichte, and Friedrich Jacobi. It is a remarkable account of how differing philosophies within an age are connected by certain tacit and unconscious assumptions and operations that Hegel subjects to the most brilliant critique.

To establish that thought is dialectical does not merely mean decreeing it so. It involves, as Hegel’s philosophy undertakes to do, demonstrating the “genetic” dynamic and development from the most elementary categories of thinking—being and nothing as the most elementary moments in thought’s becoming—into forming concepts, categories and kinds of judgments, and principles and ideas that not only provide the matrices and shapes of our sciences and institutions, but our very place in our world. What one thinks of Hegel’s philosophical achievements will largely come down to how successful one thinks Hegel has been in his explication of the process of thought formation and substantiation, and hence how he illustrates thought carrying over and into the birthing of the other sciences. It must be said from the outset, though, that much like Aristotle, with whom Hegel has much in common, when it comes to studying social and political life, philosophy and the arts there is much to commend it, when it comes to studying nature, very little.

Hegel’s Philosophy of Nature is an exercise in connecting the information Hegel has about the sciences (much of which would be redundant a mere few years later) into a totality in which all the fundamental underpinnings of the sciences are mapped out and genetically inter-connected in elements, structures, emergent levels and hierarchies. The structures or matrices of the next scientific level are already there, laying in waiting for Hegel to illustrate how they join—which renders the whole exercise as being outside of science itself, and, at best, akin to someone doing a great intellectual jigsaw puzzle, and at worst the equivalent of a priest giving a blessing to a series of scientific experiments while trying to explain to the faithful how they fulfil God’s plan. Given that Hegel’s task requires showing how the Logic becomes substantiated through the panoply of sciences—from the natural to the human (Geisteswissenschaften) the provision of a “Philosophy of Nature” was something he could not bypass. But the fact remains that unlike the Philosophy of Nature of his former ally and later antagonist F. W. J. Schelling, Hegel found no important disciples among scientists. And it is the weak point that many see as bringing disrepute to the entire Hegelian enterprise.

There is no overcoming the fact that gleaning the brilliant bits of Hegel—of which there are many—requires sorting through the rubble of the system. And while it is the details of the works, which when taken together attempt, and often provide an encyclopedic understanding of thought and the sciences, that provide the “evidence” of Hegel’s philosophical prowess, some of its fundamentals are pertinent enough to warrant Hegel’s importance for understanding destructive ways of thinking. This is one reason why those “68er” (especially Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault) philosophers, who were intent on destroying what they saw as an all-encompassing suffocating social totality of Western society, hated Hegel—for they exhibited the same intellectual iconoclasm that Hegel was warning his contemporaries against, and which swept up the young or left-Hegelians. Don’t let the name fool you, the group of thinkers which included Marx, Engels, Feuerbach, Max Stirner, the Bauer’s, and Moses Hess intellectually stood for everything Hegel opposed, and they radically intensified the delusions that Hegel had traced to the overreach of the Enlightenment itself.

Hegel’s philosophy involves recognizing—as he argues repeatedly—that nothing that matters is unmediated (i.e., all our concepts involve associations with other concepts, and being joined into larger units of association, or totalities—”ideas”), and our mediations are both dialectical and systemic. Were that not the case then when we seek to identify anything at all we would always come up with an empty repetition of the subject—x is x, a rose is a rose etc.—is a formulation that Hegel regularly repeats. It is our predications that inform us, and our predications—the full and ongoing sum of our knowledge/ sciences—are the result of what Hegel calls “the labour of the concept.”

That labour begins with the restlessness of thought. In an early writing comparing Fichte and Schelling, Hegel provided a simple yet effective way of illustrating the movement. In the proposition A = A, we are able to distinguish a formal difference that the statement of identity would seem to mitigate against, notably there are two A’s in relationship to each other and we can distinguish between them—one, we can say is subject, the other is predicate. Hence the mind is already creating a dialectical differentiation, i.e., A = -A. And, Hegel argues further, logically this leads us to recognize that A = B. Of course, from the usual perspective of logic this is a travesty, but Hegel is intent on illustrating that the usual principles that appear in text book logic are thought’s creations, and not simple eternal verities that are beyond or outside of thought, which somehow mysteriously dictates what is involved in right thinking. Thought, to repeat, is restless, and it is only because of its restlessness that we know anything. Thinking, though, is not something that transpires outside of reality—the breaking up of the world into what we think and what it is—that seemingly most innocuous move that Descartes undertakes in the original Enlightenment move, for Hegel, is to impose two metaphysical absolutes.

The problem is not only that those two unconditional starting points—or two antithetical “absolutes”—vie for philosophical attention, thereby leading to different “schools,” each ensnared by its own false problems and pseudo-solutions, but more importantly those who abide by such a division build concepts that are predicated upon ever greater splitting, ever more unreal abstractions and conceptual confusions. This is the source, for Hegel, of alienation from our-selves and our world.

For Hegel, philosophy needs to commence with the absolute that is the genuine absolute—the precondition of all thinking. The absolute (to use a term Hegel took from F.W.J. Schelling, who had made a somewhat similar point) is the “point of indifference”—that is the absolute which provides the unity from which all other divisions and principles commence. Good thinking, for Hegel, does not commence with dogmatic assertions that serve as principles, but with questioning the development of thinking, the formation of its concepts and the ideas which provide the systematic coherence of our concepts into bodies of knowledge. When Marx had criticized Hegel for not being a materialist, he had ignored the critical and irrefutable point made by Hegel, that all knowledge, whether it be of political economy, physics, or anything else that someone such as Marx committed to a materialist metaphysic may wish to invoke is still knowledge and hence the result of intellectual labour, development and systemization. There is no jumping outside of the conditions of knowledge to attain more knowledge.

Just as for Hegel our thinking follows a logical dynamic, because we are thinking creatures, the problems that we are confronted with that require institutional solutions are also “made” with “labour” along similar lines: i.e., our institutions incorporate and mediate, just as our concepts do—they are us writ large, but “the writing,” so to speak, takes place because of the tensions giving birth to the new. This is all well and good, and it is certainly superior to any kind of thinking about the past or future which treats institutions as mere bric-à-brac to be moved about at will, as if there is a necessary link between what a person or group desire to be the case when policy or institutional changes are made and the results that will ensue.

Nevertheless, while I hold Hegel’s Lectures in the History of Philosophy in very high esteem, I think Hegel’s Philosophy of History, although vastly more appealing than the Philosophy of Nature, suffers from the same failure as most other philosophies of history: the schema smooths over contingencies, and the world becomes shrunk to fit the ideas held about it. If the world were but ideas, then Hegel would be the greatest genius who ever lived, but ideas only matter because of the actors who carry and are carried by them, the circumstances which engender action, and the encounters that create new pathways of life.

In focusing upon how we know and the role of the mind in knowing, Hegel pays too little attention to the contingency of circumstances, character, and encountering which motivate us to break out of the totalities of the sciences and dive back into the flux and flow of speech, which is as much a creative act as it is an act of uncovering and discovering. Hegel literally smothers history and language with himself and his own knowledge. To repeat, while conceding, then, that Hegel’s philosophy—as with all philosophies—does not suffice to fathom everything, that for all his ambition and talent, he is a mere mortal, I repeat that there is still much to be learnt from Hegel, especially when it comes to identifying some of the monstrosities that pass as thoughtfulness in our sad time of cultural demise.

Closely related to Hegel’s insight about the restlessness of thought itself implicating us in the productive associations through which we come to know ourselves and our world, Hegel recognizes that institutions are the result of seeking to enhance and expand human capacities—and this enhancement and expansion of the mind and spirit is equated by Hegel with freedom. It is through our mutual recognition and cooperation, and the formation of institutions that enable us to store our powers and navigate ourselves across the times that we as a species bear our freedom.

Concomitantly, for Hegel, when we and our institutions are out of kilter we are estranged from ourselves—for we cannot survive (at least beyond merely persisting in a state of animality) without the accruement of powers which have developed through our experiences and crises and the knowledge thereof, and the social bonds which they have made actual and give us our place in the world and the reasons for our being.

Hegel used the term “ethical life” (Sittlichkeit) which he contrasted with Kant’s concept of morality (Kant uses the terms Moralität, Sitten, and Sittlichkeit interchangeably), which is the expression of the categorical imperative—an unconditional demand about what should be the case in any given circumstance requiring moral decision making. In Hegel, this demand of Kant is an empty formalism that, contrary to Kant’s oversight about the historical and social nature of our practices, derives its content from a world in which we already have a placement and knowledge concerning duties and roles and priorities.

Thus contrary to Kant, Hegel argues that the extent to which we are reconciled with our roles, rights, duties—our place in the world and the expectations and responsibilities which come with that—is the extent of our real freedom, as opposed to the demand for an abstract never ending, and ever restless lack, which Hegel saw as the philosophical accompaniment of all philosophies in which reason floats free from our history and institutions in order to instantiate (what Kant had referred to as) “mere ideas” that have not been tested in the realm of the actual. This view of freedom as a kind of infinite striving to realize a world we will that matches the principles we conjure through our ideas of what is reasonable was the commonplace enlightenment one that Hegel espies in various philosophies—with Rousseau, Kant and Fichte being the most influential exponents. It is this kind of thinking which Hegel sees as ultimately deluding philosophers into imaging that they and their (not very good) reasons are ones far better than the reasons of the world and the institutions that have been instantiated over time.

For Hegel, such reasoning is a kind of tyranny, and its historical manifestation was palpable in the French revolutionary phase of the Terror. From Hegel’s perspective, Rousseau, Fichte, Kant and Robespierre are all cut from the same enlightenment cloth. More, the purpose of Hegel’s philosophy was not just to correct erring philosophers about what they had missed about the nature of thinking, but to provide a philosophy in which his age could be reconciled with its history and achievements rather than given to endless and inevitably bloody flights of fancy—the elimination of obstacles—in pursuit of unreal ideas. It is that pursuit, one that ends in mass murder, that ultimately connects the voluntarist moralizing enlightened philosophies of Rousseau, Kant and Fichte to the kind of thinking exhibited by Marx, which provides the ideological foundation-stone of the cultural revolution of our time, and which requires nothing less than the destruction of everything that does not conform to the requirement of the critics’ ideas concerning what it is to be free from oppression.

Marx spelt out what that meant when he identified throughout his writings the institutions that would have to be overthrown for humanity to be free: religion, money, private property, capital, the division of labour, classes, law, the state, and the family. Freedom, for Marx, is somehow meant to accompany the dismantling of the very things that have enabled the species to expand its powers beyond the limitations of tribal survival and daily subsistence. The promise is that because the species has advanced thus far with private property and the division of labour, it would continue to do so without them. Apart from Marx saying it is so, it is far from obvious why it will continue to be so once they, along with money and law and the state, have been eliminated, simply because the scale of production has developed so extensively under these conditions.

The fantastical idea of Marx is that cooperation and commonality of human purpose will suffice to create a universality of emancipation because the technological conditions to deliver it have been created by all the oppression and suffering that was historically required to develop it. Marx speaks much about social reproduction, but Marx’s notion of communism is a kind of perpetuum mobile—for without force and personal economic incentives, the technological conditions and their fruits, there is no reason other than a certain psychological faith on Marx’s part why they will continue to reproduce themselves. The idea that they do not need to be remade every day is covered over by the implication intrinsic to the claim that people will all of a sudden be in complete concordance about their interests. That begs the question—why weren’t they previously?

Marx failed to recognize the obvious fact that there is absolutely no reason why a system of production cannot collapse if people dispense with the practices that made it possible in the first place. That so many intellectuals would—and still do—take seriously such a manifestly bad idea is indicative of their ideological capture. That would be displayed by simply ignoring such an obvious foundational error—along with other doozies such as the labour theory of value—and merely denouncing as “anti-Marxist” anyone who raised these issues. Bad ideas blind, and the triumph of ideology is the triumph of a blind class who are the seers and makers of a future of death.

Seen from Hegel’s point of view, Marx’s view of freedom as involving overthrowing all major past institutions is as false as the view that knowledge is void of mediation. Although Marx had only contempt for Kant’s thinking (“a whitewashing spokesman of the German bourgeoisie,” he writes in The German Ideology), he shares with Kant a self-belief in the ability to judge our institutions on the basis of something that does not exist. Marx, not wanting to be taken for an idealist, and insisting on the historical necessity of communism, refuses to say the obvious that communism is “a mere idea” that he has conjured up with his “reason.”

What Marx and Kant and the Enlightenment more generally have in common with each other and the woke of today is precisely this faith in their ability to conjure and lead us to a better, a more moral (Kant), or fully emancipated society (Marx and the woke), in spite of having no evidence that their proposals or faith (Marx prided himself on not dreaming up cookbooks for the future, the workers would just work it out) would work out the way they wanted. To his credit, Kant at least linked his idea of moral improvement to faith and hope, while Marx believed he had unassailable knowledge of the necessity of socialism.


In this final section, I wish to go a little deeper into Hegel’s critique of the Enlightenment by developing points raised above.

For Hegel any idea that is to act as unconditional, and hence unassailable, that is any idea that is to have the status as absolute, must itself provide the condition of any thinking or reason. What, then, is unconditional, what is the absolute can be nothing other than reason itself. Another way of saying this is that when anyone appeals to some reason for anything, no matter what the subject matter, the final appeal has to be under the auspices of reason itself—to be sure—and this is the defining feature of Hegel’s philosophy—reason is layered and structured and actively transformed through its historical and cognitive unfolding into the sciences or spheres of knowledge that it gives birth to.

Furthermore, reason must be all encompassing—were it not it would be deferential to something other than itself—and hence it would not be absolute, but conditional. To restate the point made earlier: any experience—any fact or contingency—is only identifiable as something due to the predications that have developed through the use of thinking/reason. This is why Kant’s opening line in the “Introduction” of the Critique of Pure Reason: “That all knowledge begins with experience is indisputable,” is, for Hegel, merely a dogmatic declaration, not made one the whit less so because Kant then modulates his argument so that he can identify the a priori conditions of experience.

Kant, for Hegel, is just at the metaphysical end of the line of the dogmas of the Enlightenment, which Hegel sees as wreaking such social havoc. For what the Enlightenment has done is purport to subject our institutions to knowledge and unassailable norms of freedom and dignity and the like, but it has failed to provide a definitive or compelling account of what it is we must accept as the unconditional/the absolute/reason itself. This is because it is predicated on dualisms such as Kant made about experience and the understanding versus reason and morality. To repeat another point raised earlier, it is one thing to simply state some principle is absolute, for example, “all things are material,” or “human beings are born free and have rights,” but it is quite another to demonstrate the systemic relationship that constitute what is the alpha and omega of thinking and knowing.

For Hegel, then, the Enlightenment has pointed to reason being absolute, but it has failed to take reason seriously. Had it done so, then it would have recognized that reason is an absolute system, which is to say there can be nothing beyond it. And wherever he looked Hegel kept identifying philosophies which were appealing to some beyond that their faith could storm in reason’s stead. Kant, Schelling, and Fichte, for Hegel, were but three of his contemporaries who were caught up in this conceit. For Hegel, then, reason is an absolute system because it is literally all-inclusive, and being all-inclusive and self-generating it is infinite.

Thus too the finite is not something that can exist independently from the infinite, let alone can it set itself over and above the infinite, in some “beyond (Jenseits),” that would be accessible to some rational faith. For the finite only exists because of the infinite—hence Hegel distinguishes between the actual infinite, which contains all parts within it, and a bad infinite in which the members appear to have no relationship with each other, but just continue on and on being generated as we stumble along with this fact now that one, this reason now that one, this moral absolute now that one etc. The point I made above about Descartes’ metaphysics dividing the world into two absolutes—that of thought and that of matter—also illustrates the problem. The absolute, or point of indifference that Hegel’s philosophy identifies is the absolute infinite, which he equates with reason as a self-generating system.

Note that the terms reason, the absolute and the infinite are synonyms. Likewise, for Hegel the terms the understanding, and the finite operate as synonyms when Hegel is drawing attention to the false divisions between experience and the understanding, which Locke deployed to create a new foundation for philosophy to overcome the false imaginings that preceded the Enlightenment and which Kant would develop by distinguishing the faculty of “understanding” from that of “reason” (which was ostensibly the source of our moral ideas).

Hegel also rightly saw that the Enlightenment was creating a new kind of elite, who believed that its mental powers and methods equipped them with the authority and knowledge to dictate what is real and what is false. Hegel’s hubris is nothing compared to this, and while he did esteem philosophy to provide the most developed articulation of the human mind and spirit, he also conceded that religion and the arts grasped features of the spirit that philosophy could only belatedly identify.

Hegel’s emphasis upon the importance of religion and the arts as providing material from which any sound philosophy had to take into account and hence from which it also took its bearing can be traced back to his argument about the absolute infinite being the precondition of any knowing. For it means that one is always within the greater totality of the world/spirit/absolute, and those who position themselves as being outside or occupying a position in some kind of “beyond” are placing themselves outside of reason and hence outside of history and criticism. This is exactly what Marx and today’s progressive liberals do—somehow the sins of the fathers are not theirs, the privileges that they have that have come from the crimes and sins of others are to be treated as remedied by therapeutical acknowledgment.

Recently, I read a story of a white woman randomly approaching a (very bemused) black man to apologize for her white privilege. Had she given him the keys to her car and house and bank account details, he and I may still have thought her a fool, but at least one could respect that she was prepared to sacrifice what she believed were her ill-gotten gains to someone/anyone whose colour matched up with those who were once slaves in the USA. The fact is that all of us are implicated in the historical collisions that have benefitted some, sacrificed others and given us this world: this cannot be undone, and any remaking of the world is a remaking that has nothing whatever to do with the past, though it may well have to do with what one feels about the past now.

Feeling, though, is not thinking, and when it comes to institutional and policy decisions it is all too evident that the elite who now speak of redress and socio-economic justice never propose anything that requires their sacrifice. Were it the case, there would simply be a mass transfer of wealth from the white woke to the black broke. Instead, what there is, is an elite who go to the best schools, get the best jobs, and who receive credentials so that they can lead and represent those in need of their justice. And they do this by contriving and pedaling ideas that are the antithesis of what they purport to be.

For Hegel, this entire way of thinking is as false as it is disastrous. The most fundamental flaw stems from laying down (a number of) absolute(s) that are not absolute in any other than a dogmatic sense, and then supplementing their absolute with some beyond that justifies their dogmatic faith. They move from an inadequate grasp of the whole which they claim as being complete to an alternative, abstract reality which in their minds is better, when it is simply only unreal.

Such thinking, for Hegel, is based upon a spiritual discontentment that makes us ever alien in our world—thus the world is literally always something to be fixed. Those who think this strive incessantly to repair whatever does not conform to their abstract postulate of equality or freedom or whatever. Even though the world and us are part of the one system or totality—we might use the plural when Hegel uses the singular to more clearly drive home the point, that we and the world are constituted by the same reasons—some of us think we are so much better than the world. Hegel’s concern was that we would make something far worse because we literally do not know what we are dealing with if instead of addressing concrete problems we are driven by rational truncations—our moral abstractions and our own will.

For Hegel we cannot escape from the system/world which engenders the way we think. What we can do is better identify what it involves. What we can also do is track its dynamic, which is where contradictions come in because thought moves through its contradictions, i.e., thought itself forces resolutions that threaten to limit its infinitude.

But when thinking merely flies into a beyond, it leaves us severed from our world, empty and estranged from each other, dogmatic and indifferent, lost amidst our own abstract and severed view of life in its institutions and historical development. This has been the curse of those Enlightened philosophers and their “woke” progeny who mistake their finitude for the infinite, their own limits and partiality for the absolute. Unfortunately, though, it is the rest of us who suffer from their absolute self-assurance about their right to rule over and regulate what kind of future we will have. We can, though, take some small satisfaction in the knowledge that it will not be what they think and that they too will be taken down.

Wayne Cristaudo is a philosopher, author, and educator, who has published over a dozen books.

Featured image: “The German Struggle for Liberty,” Harper’s Weekly, v.91, July 1895. Hegel greeting Napoleon, the “spirit” of the French Revolution, in Jena, 1806.

A Bloom Off The Old Strauss: Rereading The Closing of the American Mind When America Has Lost Its Mind

It is almost thirty-five years since I first read Allan Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Soul’s of Today’s Students. Back in 1987 I had completed a Master’s degree on Plato and Nietzsche, and I was in the final stages of a PhD on Descartes, Kant, Hegel and Marx. I had been introduced to writings by Bloom’s teacher, Leo Strauss, in my undergraduate days in the mid 1970s, and during my Masters, although I had a little Greek, Bloom’s translation of Plato’s Republic was my preferred translation. His translation came with a large interpretative essay that took Leo Strauss’s reading of the Republic even further in the direction of the claim that Plato intended the Republic to be a warning against utopia, rather than as a foundational text for people wanting to create a perfect state.

In the main, classicists, including my Greek teacher, at the time, who was passionately enthusiastic about Plato, found the Strauss and Bloom line exasperating. Thus, the fairly highly esteemed classicist, Myles Burnyeat, wrote in his New York Review of Books essay of 1985, “Sphinx without a Secret,” a review of a collection of Strauss’s Studies in Platonic Philosophy by Leo Strauss with an introduction by Thomas Pangle (another reasonably prominent “Straussian”): “What Strauss can do, and does, is give reasons why we should believe that Plato taught what Strauss says he taught. He undertakes the difficult task of showing that the Republic means the opposite of what it says; that Aristotle read it as Strauss does, and agreed; and finally, that the Platonic view of “the political things” was maintained, in essentials, by the entire tradition of classical political philosophy (not excluding Aristophanes and Xenophon) through the Stoics and beyond).”

Those who have been inspired by Leo Strauss will generally find such a summation of what Strauss was doing to be shockingly simple-minded—though I think Burnyeat has accurately identified Strauss’s main flaw, and it is a flaw that is replicated in the writings of many of his students.

Burnyeat’s criticism, however, extended to what would eventually become one more contribution to a torrent of accusations against Strauss and his students—that they were conservative elitists. Burnyeat’s hostility to the elitist nature of the Straussian enterprise misses the point that the Straussians are absolutely correct in identifying the fact that university students do belong to the social elite, and to pretend otherwise is completely delusional.

Feigning as the radical left did and still do that the university is some kind of egalitarian democratic forum when it produces the social elite who will largely run things is as ridiculous as Harvard and Yale setting themselves up as mouthpieces for social justice. The real issue concerning universities is which kind of thinking holds sway there—and, like Strauss and Bloom and all manner of others I think the ideas that do hold sway over the educated elite in the Western world are dumb, self-destructive, and completely infantile. So, when Closing came out, I enjoyed the fact that someone whose books I had read was sticking it to the ideologues who were politicizing everything and in the process pulling the Humanities into a cultural war.

This did not change the fact that I find Strauss and his followers somewhat irksome—and that has nothing to with their elitism (I generally prefer reading the best of them to any of the followers of Walter Benjamin or Theodor Adorno et. al.). Still, I get irritated by how they generally read and argue about political philosophy, how they bang on about greatness, how they foist onto the text all manner of things they think any wise person knows, and how lacking in attentiveness to the historical pressures and currents that informed the specific responses of the books they read they tend to be.

No matter what the topic, Straussians usually find some answer to any political problem in their Straussian version of Plato – an interpretation that is very big on imaging the real meaning of a “dramatic” word or gesture in a Platonic dialogue and very hermeneutically licentious in dealing with the plainer words and arguments. They remind me in none more than those disciples of Marx who always identify the answer to any socio-economic and political circumstance as already accounted for in Marx’s analysis of capital. Many of the critical treatments, such as those by William Altman and Shadia Drury, are just insane, but for anyone wanting to read a well-developed critical treatment of Strauss and the “Straussian school” (if school it be) more generally, I recommend Paul Gottfried’s Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America.

Even in the 1980s, when Strauss was far less well known than he would become after a slew of essays and some books connected Strauss’s students and the strategy of “regime change” with George W. Bush, there was as little agreement about what Strauss was really teaching as there is now. Partly this is because Strauss taught that serious philosophical writers provide a surface text (which is what most scholars beside Strauss read), and an esoteric message, which those, like Strauss, who have read the history of political philosophy with great attention see. Another way of saying this is that Leo Strauss taught that there are great books that have identified the essential things to be known and presented them in a guise that only the true lover of philosophy might grasp—with great thinkers, things are not what they seem. Likewise, Strauss is a great thinker, and hence must conceal his true teachings—ergo…

Unlike Strauss, Allan Bloom was not the founder of a school of thought, although Bloom is invariably identified as a Straussian. This would not have been obvious to anyone who had read Closing without knowing about Strauss or Bloom’s background—Bloom mentions Strauss just once in the book.

Although, of the many critical reviews that Closing attracted when it first appeared, two reviews by two students of Leo Strauss which appeared in the (largely) Straussian inspired journal Interpretation, were among the most damning and inciteful to appear. They were by Claremont’s two Harrys—Neumann and Jaffa, whose contrary philosophical positions (the former a self-described nihilist, the other an Aristotelian) made them unlikely pedagogical allies (they taught a joint seminar for ten years).

Neumann kicks his review off by saying: “Professor Bloom shares the error informing this book with most liberals. That error is their unwillingness to realize the nihilism or atheism responsible for their subordination of politics to individual freedom or self-interest. By liberal I mean anyone who believes that the individual is more important than the state; individual liberation takes precedence over political obligation however that liberation is interpreted. Bloom’s brand of liberalism gives rise to his unqualified preference for philosophers over nonphilosophers, for philosophy over politics, for Socrates over Achilles, for peace over war.”

Amongst other things, Neumann sees in Bloom a man preening over his own loves and interests, who is irritated by the lack of reverence in the temple of higher learning, and is completely oblivious to the clear and present geopolitical dangers to America. It is in a word a damning review. And the harshness of the review finds its apogee in Neumann’s suggestion that Bloom is a phony who lacks the courage, and wherewithal to see who and what he really is: “Without the courage to see it, Bloom has written a more Nietzschean than Platonic Book. The book on education for Bloom is not the Republic, as he insists (p. 381), but Beyond Good and Evil or Death in Venice.”

The suspicion that Bloom and even Strauss are really more Nietzschean than Platonic has been aired by others, but Neumann’s criticism lumps Bloom in with the enemies of the civilization that Bloom believes he is undertaking to bury. As for the comparison between Bloom and Mann’s Aschenbach (in Closing Bloom speaks somewhat disdainfully of Death in Venice as heavy-handed Freudianism), Bloom had publicly declared on several occasions that the title he had envisaged, but which was overruled by the publishers, was Souls without Longing.

Indeed, while the surface argument of Closing was the failure of higher education in America and the cultural demise that the various ideological occasions of the relativist malaise Bloom had seen as gripping the American university, the more “esoteric” argument—which Bloom spelled out every time he discussed the book—was that the bad German philosophical ideas of Nietzsche, Weber, Heidegger had conspired with American popular culture to destroy the erotic longing for wisdom that the tradition of the great books had nourished. On popular culture, Bloom’s criticism of rock music sounds like none more than the Frankfurt School’s doyen and aesthete in chief, Theodor Adorno when writing about the cultural oppression inflicted on the masses by jazz.

Moreover, in spite of Bloom’s diagnosis of the American mind being closed and the souls of its future elite being stunted also regularly appealing to the moral sentiments and habits of previous generations as if he were a conservative, Bloom could write of that most conservative of institutions: “The dreariness of the family’s spiritual landscape passes belief. It is as monochrome and unrelated to those who pass through it as are the barren steppes frequented by nomads who take their mere subsistence and move on.” So much for the millions of American families who may not read bedtime stories by Rousseau or Plato to their children, but who sacrifice themselves to raise them to pray, tell the truth and do their best to others.

In spite of the scorn Bloom pours onto the wreckers of the university, and the social damage they are doing, the voice and diagnosis of Closing belonged to an aesthete, rather than a moralist—hence “It is not the immorality of relativism that I find appalling. What is astounding and degrading is the dogmatism with which we accept such relativism, and our easy-going lack of concern about what that means for our lives.” And it is not at all clear that in spite of Bloom’s advocacy of rational inquiry, and his (Straussian) Platonism, whether he really thought there were any absolutes by which he should live other than the erotic pursuit of wisdom and the value of the philosophical life (which, to his credit, had nothing whatsoever in common with having a day job solving philosophical puzzles as was, and largely still is, the case with most of those employed in Philosophy Departments in North American).

Given the disdain with which Bloom treated the “life-style” view of values that had infected America, there is no small irony in how Bloom makes a case for a life of personal intellectual exhilaration as if that were of the same value as a life of righteousness (and it is far from obvious that Bloom has any idea or interest in what the righteous life might be—apart from reading great books and talking about them).

To be sure Socratic aesthetes are rare plants, but Bloom was nothing if not rare—and being a best-selling celebrity political philosopher is about as rare as one can be. Saying that does not change the fact that Closing does expose the moral confusion and idiocy that seized the collective imagination of the generation of students that Bloom observed. The book is laced with aphorisms and bon mots, and full of wit, venom, and learning—even if the details of his learning were often outrageous and, at the very least contestable, leading to some predictable academic carping that Bloom was a terrible scholar, but Bloom did more than almost anyone to make the educated public want to go off and read Plato, Rousseau, Locke et. al.

That is terrific, but it could never had been enough to save the United States. And while Closing was a book that not only had sounded the alarm about the dreadful state of higher learning in the United States and the social poisoning it was doing, its author was an embodiment of what higher learning looked like in the incarnation of a very well read, highly articulate, balding professor in a sharp suit. Bloom may not have liked rock stars, but he was as close to one as any middle-aged professor, not gone completely to seed, could be.

While Bloom and the book had style, it was not simply that that rocketed the book to the top of the New York Time’s best seller list, in 1987 his exposé of the ideological state of university campuses did touch a social nerve, because plenty of people, including educated ones, could see that these new social movements were pouring out of the university, and taxes were being poured into an institution that had a great deal of influence that was doing much to turn the youth of America against the traditions and (dare I use the word?) values at its founding.

Any reader today who opens Closing for the first time will recognize that identity politics was already wreaking social and cultural havoc some thirty-five years ago, and Bloom had done a good job of yelling, “Fire!” This is irrespective of whether one is swayed by the depth, accuracy or even pitch of his diagnosis—relativism is the cause and Weber—yes, Bloom did write this—“was the chosen apostle for the American promised land.”

Now that we live in a time of rabid censorship, denunciations, sackings and non-hiring of those who do not kneel before the (to be sure ever changing) absolutes of contemporary liberalism, the claim that relativism is the cause and the end of all this seems wildly wrong (though it amazes me how many conservatives still repeat this). Woke absolutes are imbecilic, but they remain absolutes, and reading Bloom is like being transported back to a time when the American mind might have been closing but it was not completely lost to the imbecilic absolutes of its own servitude.

I cannot imagine that a book that is so caustic (and funny) in its criticism of feminism and the shibboleths of identity race politics would garner such reviews as it received in the New York Times, New York Review of Books, San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, and the Chicago Tribune when it first appeared. Indeed, the books that now receive glowing reviews from these bastions of cultural taste come out of the very ideological swamp that Bloom hoped might be dredged. Though, it is possible that Bloom’s critique, even then, found enthusiastic support for its weaknesses rather than its strengths. That seems to have been Harry Jaffa’s, as well as Neumann’s, take on the book.

If Bloom had thought Jaffa a fellow traveller along the Straussian path he was certainly in for a rude awakening when Jaffa’s review essay appeared. The review is most brilliant when it comes to schooling Bloom in American politics, though it is perhaps most remembered for slyly and unceremoniously blowing the lid off Bloom’s homosexuality – an open secret in Chicago at the time. Years later Bloom’s friend Saul Bellow would make public Bloom’s sexual ‘life-style’ in the thinly veiled portrait of Bloom in Ravelstein, a book which in turn triggered another wave of anti-Bloom hysteria—this time for his hypocrisy.

Before Ravelstein, Jaffa wrote that Bloom’s “remarks about feminism, and the changing roles of men and women, for example, are dated not because they are mistaken, or irrelevant, but because in the intervening years the so-called “gay movement,” which Bloom hardly mentions, has emerged as the most radical and sinister challenge, not merely to sexual morality, but to all morality.” Given that Bloom had referred to “perverse sexuality,” and “gay rights” being “the most consequential social movement of the last three decades,” Jaffa may have been hitting below the belt, but when he observed that by “Looking only to books, politics for Bloom is a closed book. And no one can comment instructively on the relationship between political life and the philosophic life who does not know what political life is,” he had landed a KO.

The problem with the Closing is not that Bloom is wrong to think that students are being served up mindless ideological stew as if it could nourish their souls and minds, it is not that he is wrong in thinking that Humanities students should know the philosophical tradition, but while the crisis he is confronting and diagnosing is a cultural, social, and political crisis he is extremely naïve in thinking that a library is the place to save a civilization. Jaffa holds nothing back when he attacks Bloom for essentially holding a view of the world as if the world were a library writ large.

There is something of an irony (and reading Bloom I am struck by how ironic almost everything about him is) in a man who wrote a fine book on Shakespeare and politics remaining untouched by the warning in Shakespeare’s most philosophical of plays—The Tempest: a library can cloud the mind and thus lead a ruler (the Duke of Milan, Prospero) to neglect his obligation to safeguard the territory from the ruthless ambition, cunning and rule of unscrupulously evil men.

While Neumann and Jaffa were opposed in their philosophical appeals of last resort what they shared was a commitment to the United States as a political entity, and what they saw in Bloom was a fundamental failure to fathom what that entity was founded upon—and hence what would be required to preserve it into perpetuity. Thus, while Bloom was celebrating his celebrity status, and in various talk shows oozing charm and the smarts given in the midst of the cultural and social destruction his book was describing, men like Jaffa and Neumann held Bloom to be guilty of what no Straussian ever wishes to be—he was guilty of a lack of seriousness.

According to Jaffa, “As far as I can see, everything Bloom says on the subject of the American Founding is derived from his readings of Hobbes, Locke, or Tocqueville. I have found not a word of serious interpretation apart from his birdseed scatterings coming from an American source: not Jefferson, Washington, Madison, Hamilton, or Lincoln. No one has maintained more persistently than I have, during the past thirty-five years, the importance in the American Founding of Locke’s teachings as they were understood and incorporated into their handiwork by the Founding Fathers. But to say that a radical atheism discovered in Locke’s esoteric teaching was part of what they understood, believed, and incorporated into their regime when every single document bearing on the question contradicts it, and there is not a shred of evidence to support it is just plain crazy.”

Along similar lines, “Bloom has completely misread not only the American Founding, but all political life, since he does not read political speeches to discover the form of the consciousness of political men. He assumes that political men are mere epigones of philosophers whether they know it or not. The political nature of man is however understood by the Founders if one reads what they say, and not only what Hobbes or Locke or Kant say in the light of the inequality of man and beast, as well as in the light of the inequality of man and God.” And finally: “Someone who can write of the American and French Revolutions as scenarios thought out beforehand by Locke and Rousseau, and who can say that “the English and American regimes [had been] founded according to [Locke’s] instructions, is hardly in a position to reproach others for the lack of ‘the study of… history.’”

This last citation is a failing that I see as fairly common among followers of Strauss, and I (unlike Jaffa) cannot help but tracing it back to Strauss himself who wrote of the importance of political philosophy as if it were a conversation across the ages addressed to those seekers of wisdom who more or less saw the same things as they each contribute to insights that make the whole more accessible to the rational man, i.e., the man who sees the problems and solutions much like Strauss. The different historical circumstances within which men find themselves is treated as essentially irrelevant, and those who think those circumstances to be all too relevant are dismissed as historicists, who are but one more variant of relativism.
Strauss himself had sought for a cure of the ailments of his time by turning to Plato as a teacher of an ahistorical nature, a nature which seems impossible to locate outside of the tradition of great books of political philosophy.

But whereas all scholars of Plato agree that the forms or ideas are timeless, and in this sense, ahistorical, in The City and Man, Strauss says that “the doctrine of ideas” in the Republic is “very hard to understand; to begin with it is utterly incredible, not to say that it appears to be fantastic…No one has ever succeeded in giving a satisfactory or clear account of this doctrine of ideas.” Whether that is true or notand it takes a lot of hermeneutical ingenuity to deny that Aristotle thought he had done a pretty good job of showing the problems with the doctrine – the fact that the American higher educated mind is not just closed but lost is indicative of the fact that the problem of saving the Western world from the mad and bad ideas largely, albeit not exclusively, churned out in American universities today extends far beyond reading great books, and pursuing a life of greater longing.

Wayne Cristaudo is a philosopher, author, and educator, who has published over a dozen books.

The featured image shows, “The Orator,” by Magnus Zeller, painted in 1920.