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.

The Dialectic Of Imbecility And The Western Elites’ Will To Power – Part 5

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Corporatism – Or The Triumph Of Fascism

All societies require an elite – a group of people who are trained in decision making, and are schooled in the complexities that decisions involve. Our elite differs from most, but not all, elites in their imbecilic ideas, knowledge -base, narratives, priorities and decisions, and the totalizing scale of what aspects of life they think they should rule. They are, in this respect, akin to communist, Nazi, and the elite of the Mountain in the French Revolution.

Marx’s view of the state ultimately made him oblivious to the dialectical nexus of state and markets. That nexus was appreciated by Marx’s fascist critics, who were content to make the market a state subordinate, yet a relatively independent sphere of human action, as done by the Chinese who recognized that corporatism was the means for protecting a political privileged elite but also for allowing for both market forces to elevate living standards and produce an economic elite, who, nevertheless, could be politically controlled.

Our globalist Western elite have also followed the logic of corporatism, though they added the important utopian element of the identity politics of anti-domination. The reasoning is: If the state is construed, not solely as the means of brokering between the different interests that classes (the division of labour) engenders (which it does – and which old liberalism still tended to emphasize), but also as the means of ensuring not only public goods, and a degree of public safety, but the establishment of complete social harmony by committing itself to complete social emancipation, and if capitalists can also make their profits compatible with exactly the same social objectives, then the symbiotic relationship between them and the state will be complete. Note that this particular objective of the state is completely in keeping with the ideocratic nature of the modern world.

One distinctive feature of the modern world is that it is an epistemic contrivance deployed to delegitimize the historically grown pre-Enlightenment political order. This is the partial truth behind the idiotic mantra of our intellectuals that society is a social construct (the idiotic bit is thinking we can make society be anything we want, which overlooks the limitations of consciousness and underestimates unintended consequences). That is, the aspirant elite that eventually overthrew the elite from the Old Regime believed that (a) it knew how the world worked, i.e., it had the right ideas about nature and society (even though there was actually little agreement about that working other than the conviction that they knew how they worked); and (b) the institutions of government had to be reestablished on the basis of ideas (which happened to be an admixture of empirical and rationalistic ones). The American War of Independence helped forge some of these new ideas; but the non-denominational, freely detached intellectual – the new philosopher – had emerged in Europe, initially in response to the Thirty Years War (thus their god would also be non-denominational, and not even Christian).

All social breakdown requires a crisis as an opportunity for the new to sweep away the old – now it is a virus; in the 1960s in the USA, it was the Vietnam War; in Russia it was the Great War; in France it was the aftermath of the Seven Years War, and the financial cost of its geopolitical ambition combined with a broken revenue system and a class, which had been feasting off the new philosophical ideas about nature, God and society which in turn was chomping at the bit to have the world mirror its talent. It gave birth to the political clubs and groupings of common yet deadly inimical interests and uncompromising ambition, which sought to rebuild the world from year zero on the basis of their ideas. The subsequent social and political breakdown of the revolution did lead to a sequence of political formations in which the objectives of the state itself seemed to be toned down. But if the reality being played out in France was empire, restoration, republic, back to empire, the intelligentsia was ever coming up with schemes in which society would be completely free. French, German, Russian intellectuals dreamt up visions of new societies, and talked and wrote incessantly about politics and political salvation – as if a society were the kind of thing that someone with a few dozen books under his belt could create. (Of course, they could “create” a certain kind of society – ask Pol Pot or Uncle Joe).

In Russia, the state was the most autocratic and the economy the most backward; it could not resist the imperative to modernize, and the class of people it had to train in order to successfully modernize were absolutely convinced of their ability to fix their world; and, not surprisingly, they would fix it with the things they knew, i.e., their ideas. The contingencies that enabled the successful coup of the resolute Lenin and his followers yielded the complete disaster of war communism – the “program” of class plunder and chaos was the direct result of the seizure of power by an educated class that had discussed, written on, and killed for their ideas about how the world should be. (The three all important aspects and stages of the revolution have been the launching pad for what I consider the three most insightful writers on the revolution: Martin Malia – focusing on the ideas that drove it; Richard Pipes focusing on the class that would bring about the revolution, the intelligentsia; and, most recently, Sean McMeekin, focusing on the crisis or moment – the Great War – which gave the class its opportune moment to gain power and attempt to “realize” its objectives.

As with other radicals, such as the Jacobins and Woke of today, the ideas of the Russian intelligentsia were clientelist (originally the clients were the peasants, then the workers) and sentimental, vacuous and bloated abstractions. The earlier generation of the Russian radical intelligentsia romanticized the peasantry, and only once Marx’s ideas had come into Russia, were they replaced by the industrial working class as the preferred object of liberation. There was no serious detail about fixing anything; and hence while they fueled tearing the world down; and like those of today who call for defunding the police and opening up prisons who don’t have a clue about doing anything about crime other than ensuring that what they say is what is done, which is irrelevant to actually running anything, at least anything serious. Having the ideas and having power is what gave Jacobins and the Leninists and what gives today’s Woke their self-assuredness, their sense of certainty.

To genuine statesmen and people who were and are running functioning political bodies dealing with solving real problems, this was and is all nonsense – and yet the more the educated elite of the most developed countries in the world heard these ideas, the more prone they were, and still are, to taking them seriously, the more beguiled they were and are by the abstract and the (not remotely) possible. What was (and is) happening was (and is) that ideas that originated in political clubs, that were dreamed up over late night conversations over many steins of beer and bottles of wine, or in classrooms and now even board rooms which were/are written up as if holy writ, which had/have an air of sagacity to them, were/are seeping into the institutions of higher learning, and thus were/are impacting the world due to the fact that they had/ have taken over the minds and life worlds of the younger elite. The ideas were/are explosive – and different experiences tended to create different avenues of reception for equally mad and bad ideas that served the function of offering leadership positions to those who mastered them.

In Germany, the incumbent elite were embittered young men returned from battle – torn between choosing to continue with their patriotic zeal that had led them into war, or becoming vassals of the Soviets, they chose the former, and race was the idea that provided the glue. In spite of the fact that its nationalistic and racist boundaries meant that it had limited appeal for the class that really was a universal class in its own minds – that is a class that not only grasped the truthful universal of the world and history, but a class that purported to represent the universal, just as the German philosopher G. W. F. Hegel had claimed was the case for the bureaucracy (which, by the way, the young Marx ridiculed when tearing into Hegel’s Philosophy of Right) – was no more nor less hateful than the glue of class was in the Soviet Union. Although enemies until death – though, when necessary, willing to enter into tactical alliances – communism and National Socialism were both responses to the problems confronting people aspiring to rule the world in their image with the ideas they understood and held sacred.

The ideologies of liberalism, communism/socialism, and fascism were developed sequentially; and in so far as their goals seem to be inimical, they are treated and in some ways are drastically different from each other. Yet while the sequential nature and location of their respective birth places is an indicator of how and why they differ, they also share important features, most notably they are all ideational and narrative chains of elite empowerment. The particular crisis and conditions of their birthplace is important for grasping where they would be successful. In so far as the ideologically committed were devoting themselves to ideational programs, in so far as their ambitions and spiritual commitments (for they were and are all surrogate religions), they were uncompromising doctrines. The adherents, though, could readily move from one to another, if their faith were shaken – Mussolini, like many other Italian fascists was a man whose faith in Marxism was shaken by the War; his new faith was in the myth of the nation, and most of his intellectual accomplices in fascist theory had been former socialists, just as in post Great War Germany hundreds of thousands of National Socialists had drifted across from the socialist parties.

Although liberal democracy provided a far more comfortable existence, the intellectuals of democratic societies were generally drawn to the more radical programs, largely because the circumstances required more drastic and ultimately less real ideas to be followed, if they were to achieve power within the chaos. The other worldly and absolutist nature of the ideas was what defined them as not compromising with the reality they would completely transform, as if the world were simply the potential reflection of their ideas.

Ironically Marx wanted to distance himself from this way of thinking thus he always used the term idealism pejoratively. But his ideology was nothing but idealism, whereas the idealism of liberalism (in its pre-twentieth century American variant) was mainly limited to the abstract nature of the normative props (equality and freedom and rights); but its acknowledgment of the reality of law and property gave it some ground.

On the surface, the sequence of ideologies seemed to follow a pattern, in which the former spawned the latter to resolve its own contradictions. This was how Marx saw the relationship between liberalism and socialism, and Mussolini the relationship between fascism and communism. Likewise, it seemed that the latter (Nazism), being the least grounded in reality (communism at least relied upon exporting civil wars around the globe, but Nazism was never really going to cut with Indians, Chinese, Africans etc.) collapsed first; then the second collapsed; and only liberal democracy was left standing.

What was the case, though, was something else: While each ideology was the expression of the aspirations and ideas of the class of its creators and adherents within a specific location with its own history, the class itself was relatively constant; certainly, as constant, say, as the industrial working class or bourgeois was. And then there is the tragic component alluded to above, and which we in the West are now living within. Because modernity, from its technological to its productive, to its legal and administrative and commercial systems, is so intricately formed, it is impossible to continue without education. The systems are constituted by ideas and disciplines (bodies of knowledge); and hence its reproduction is dependent upon people who are trained in ideas. And just as the Tsars quickly discovered that they were producing a class of people to run the society who were intent on their overthrow, the social reproduction of the West is dependent upon people who now hold ideas that must lead to its destruction.

Belief in the consensus of normative ideas that has swept through the institutions of higher learning is a condition of being socially accepted, and now even employable. This feature of the modern West has often been considered as the tactic first spelled out by the Italian communist Antonio Gramsci – that is true, but if it were a tactic, it was a tactic that simply followed from the structural character of social reproduction within the modern Western world itself.

Moreover, with the intensification of modern economy and industry, and the ever-greater social dependency upon education, the expansion of higher education meant that an ever-greater percentage of people was being inculcated in the ideas needed for orientation with the social, economic, technological, administrative and normative systems. The Humanities was the natural site of the finessing of the normative systems and the location for the capture by a generation that did not actually know that much, but that was charged with teaching young people who knew even less.

As the universities expanded, so did the need for university teachers – very quickly people in their twenties with very limited book-learning and life experience were teaching those not much younger than they themselves. Indeed, by the late 1960s, what was becoming abundantly clear was that elder provincial school teachers had read and digested, that is knew far more about history, literature and the world at large than the freshly minted PhDs and incumbent university teachers who, in order to feel important, and to assure themselves about their knowledge, drifted towards ideological know-all-ness, like the starving to a feast.

For those employed at universities at this time – with all the available sex, drugs, and rock n roll, being a radical university teacher was the equivalent of being a rock star – the girls wanted to sleep with them, the guys wanted to be them. More, this was a generation that could see the rack and ruin of its parents’ world – their parents’ world was a world of war. Proof was that they still could not see the error of their ways – hence they were sacrificing their kids in the Vietnam War (there was probably not one radical in the country that could have given a reasonable account of the nature of diplomatic alliances, obligations, and the geopolitical imperatives of the day). This lot just had – to quote Lennon yet again – simply “Imagine” and “Give Peace a Chance” and then there would be no more war – Lennon yet again: “War is over if you want it.” And they had also discovered the causes of: poverty – capitalism; inequality – capitalism; war- capitalism; sexual oppression – capitalism; imperialism – capitalism, etc. It would get more refined – answer to the above – men, then; and now, answer – whites.

Standards were meant to be upheld by ensuring that teachers were qualified and scholarly – the publish-or-perish mentality was entrenched; but the PhDs and scholarly publications were, and now frequently are, often just rubbish. Higher education offered careers and opportunities for a group of people who had vested interest in dumbing down what needed to be known in order to get ahead – in part, this was because the people that were getting ahead and becoming college professors were not that smart. The youth revolts of the 1960s were also the watershed in which the rapid expansion of a student population of universities went hand in hand with the overthrow of the curriculum. Students dictated what needed to be known, and what needed to be known was what they already knew – capitalism was really bad – and that they knew how to fix it, and they needed to control society at large, from its businesses to its model of the family. In this respect, although now a larger percentage of society, they were identical to the Russian students of the nineteenth and early twentieth century, and the German students of the 1920s – and just as communism and fascism/National Socialism are unthinkable without the energy, utter commitment, and fanaticism of youth aspiring to rule the(ir) world, the 1960s harnessed the energy of an undereducated but deeply self-assured group of people who were intent on changing the world. Their parents (in the case of the US) in having defeated Nazism, and being the future elite of the most powerful nation in the world, it is not surprising that they saw their concerns – in which having sex and getting stoned took a very high priority – as the world’s concerns. Likewise, they saw their ideas as universal; hence too the books they read as the ones that one needed to know in order to fix the world (being sophisticated meant you read Freud as well as Marx; things got really sophisticated when you tossed in some fancy Parisians who knew even more about how capitalism worked than old Karl did; they had read Nietzsche and Heidegger and lots of others! WOW!!!).

One astute professor in the USA in the 1960s, observing the self-righteousness and know-all-ness of what was going on around him, read his class a speech by Mussolini – not telling them whose speech it was – and they broke out into applause. Even Theodor Adorno, the leading Frankfurt school Marxist, feared that the student movement was fascistic. Certainly, as the Woke do now, and as the Nazi and communist students did, they booed and ridiculed anyone who did not think like them, and assumed the right to dictate what should be read. The Nazis students burnt the books; the generation of sixties students marched for the right to have great books not taught; the Woke take them out of the libraries and ban them from bookstores and from being published.

Although the radical students of the 1960s and 1970s construed themselves as anti-capitalists and anti-imperialist, most would end up working within and making lucrative careers in corporations or state departments. There was, nevertheless, one big difference between them and the Nazi students in post-World War One Germany, viz., their anti-militarism. Their essentialist fixation upon identity did help spawn political movements dedicated to the violent overthrow of society such as the Weathermen, the SLA, the Black Panthers, and (the even more crazed and barely noticed) SCUM, though these were never very successful. But the long-term consequences would be taken up two generations later, where racial identity is absolutist in its defining of who one is and what one must think. One only has to insert the word “Jew” or “black” into any contemporary Woke tirade about whiteness to see that the mind-set is completely fascist.

All of this is to say that the notion raised above that fascism died first, then communism died and we were left with liberal democracy as the most resilient ideology (Fukuyama’s end of history) is completely false. What has occurred is that the ideas which gave birth to liberalism, communism and fascism have been undergoing a dialectical metamorphosis in the minds of the elite who deal in ideational norms for their social, political, and economic empowerment. This class has replaced the first estate of the old regime; for it is the class which provides social direction and orientation. It is the class whose faith is absolute; it is the class whose god is their own ideas. It is the class that knows all. It is the class that rules.

This also means that the modern state in the Western world, is also the direct result of two generations coming out of the youth revolution of the 1960s and it has much in common with the totalitarian regimes of the fascists and Nazis and communists.

And it is evident in what now looks completely innocuous, but is a key indicator of why we are on a precipice, why the world’s once leading democracy no longer stands for freedom – and it is also why some half of the population thinks the last US election was a coup. And the seemingly innocuous indicator is simply what people now expect of the state. To repeat, it is the kind of expectation that commenced with the Jacobins and other political clubs, and in the political representatives, the Girondin and Mountain; was kicked around as an idea by the socialists and revolutionaries in France and Germany; bonded the Russian intellectual youth to overthrow the autocracy and form the communist party; that led the youth of Italy and Germany to believe everything their leader said (the communists would then quickly copy this cult of personality); the kind of expectation that the youth of the sixties had when they wanted to destroy the family, and capitalism, and anything else in their way. The state will save us – it will save the planet by dictates about energy; it will ensure that women have control over reproduction so that eventually they will only reproduce when told or needed; it will specify what we must think and say about race; it will decree who can speak and who cannot; it will ensure we can have our pleasures, if we are well behaved….

Much of this is socialism, but fascism knew one thing the Soviets did not know, but which the Chinese communists now know: The market can orchestrate human energy in ways that the state cannot. The truth of fascism was its corporatism – when I say the truth, I do not mean the desirability of a certain power flow, but the interconnectedness that could only be curbed by a culture that was more resilient, less imbecilic, more conscious of consequences and processes, more aware of the flaws of human nature, and hence more attuned to what is required by education, as well as a less idolatrous and pleasure-centric society.

Corporatism, in other words, is the terrible truth of the logics of capital and the state when driven by a diabolical culture of pride and ambition. Today corporate culture is a culture that fosters a political elite who feast on imbecilic abstractions and their dialectical interplay. Its real nature is not disclosed by the old nomenclature of left and right, for it involves both. While the state and capital are commonly interpreted as opposing forces; the fact is that capital and the state are so intertwined that they cannot be disentangled from each other.

Just consider, for example, the way the entire legal profession benefits off any new state legislation; or the value added to pharmaceutical companies by university research and public grant money; or the interpenetration of government, medical bureaucracy, private companies (the COVID vaccine is just a symptom of the relationship), and obviously the military and arms producers; or how easing restrictions on financial institutions contributed to low interest rates, thereby helping fuel further government spending in such areas as mortgage loan schemes (to which we owe the crash of 2008).

Likewise, the state giveth and the state taketh away; it rewards some industries (green industries today) and closes down others (gas pipelines). Revolving doors exist in all sorts of industries between those working in the highest levels of private enterprise and the government sector. Marx had said the state was the instrument of the ruling class; and on this occasion he was right, though the modern liberal democratic, especially once the franchise had expanded far beyond what Marx had believed possible, had, for a short time, ameliorated the tendency of the concentration of power exclusively in the hands of the society’s elite. It did not last, which is why fifty years ago Western democracies, though not without their problems, allowed for critics who could address the problems of those seeking more welfare, representation of interests or freedom from state persecution.

Today the elites in Western liberal democratic societies dictates not only how interests are represented but how they must speak. They have become totalitarian – and their aim is literally to absorb the entire world into their totalizing narratives. Ironically, while this elite was, partly at least, schooled by poststructuralists in their attack upon the family and capitalism, it was the poststructuralists who originally used the term “totalizing narrative” to criticize what they thought were simply the means for creating social conformity. And while, in the main, the pedagogues of the 1960s and 1970s were generally critical of state institutions, as well as capitalist corporations, their achievement has been to create an elite whose power is consolidated through the marriage of state institutions and capitalist corporations.

Just as the state helps capitalists who support its ideological plans and goals by allowing them to have massive salaries and profits, contracts, etc., corporations repay the favour by ensuring their employers are trained in the ethos required by the social objectives, and punishing/sacking employees who do not get with the program. If this means supporting ideas and narratives which fly in the face of reality e.g., white people being employed to teach others that all whites are racists, but which deliver a more compliant workforce and society who will accept what their educators tell them, so be it. Businesses may be conflicted over losing some customers at the expense of others; but to have the support of the state is not to be taken lightly. Thus, too, advertisers threaten to withdraw support from companies who deviate from the ideological consensus required by state and human resource operatives who also play a key role in deciding who gets employed and how the company presents itself to the public. Politics, ideology and corporation are all caught up in branding.

It is the new corporate fascism. Its beaming faces are Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey, Jeff Bezos, and their stooges – actors and pop stars and the every-day henchmen in the corporatized world which has now eclipsed the public/private distinction and seeped into every social capillary, because the personal really, now, is political. Freedom of thought is increasingly banned from schools and universities because the program has nothing to do with independent minds. What matters, which was just what mattered for the fascists, was that the community will is articulated by its leaders and enforced by its people. Unity must prevail, lest great injustice and catastrophe engulf us all. The enemies not only of the human race, but of the very planet must be stopped.

Everything is political and everything is corporate. This is why we need to have a world full of imbeciles, run by imbeciles.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

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

The featured image shows, “Skeletons Fighting over a Hanged Man,” by James Ensor; painted in 1891.

It’s Party Time!

The most compelling argument for democracy is that it is a system of government which enables the representation of different points of view, based upon different life experiences, having the chance to be publicly expressed. It is no cure-all for all our problems, but at least it is a form of government which potentially provides a forum for the very different interests and insights pertaining to those interests that accompany the classes and division of labour that make up large scale industrial societies. Like everything important, democracy is built upon faith and hope – the hope that this might mitigate against not only our innate limitations and ignorance, but the hope that it might overcome the tendency that elites have to bully people into accepting their authority without question.

Unfortunately, democracy in any meaningful sense is now dead, and it has been replaced by an administrative corporatist state which sets the agendas and narratives that political parties must comply with, if they wish to have any chance of electoral victory. While many Western states still give the appearance of allowing for at least two competing parties, the extent and scale of administrative and policy decisions, which have never been put to the electorate, dictate the shape and development of the nation.

In the United States, it was resistance to this elite, and its habitat – “the swamp” – that led to the election of Donald Trump. His election – by way of vehement reaction – has resulted in what, at least federally, is a de facto one-party state whose “members” preside over every major institution of governance, legislation, policy, information, entertainment, and, in an expanding number of industries, even employment.

That party has succeeded in recruiting a significant percentage of the population who not only manage the major institutions of political, social, and economic organization, but who fabricate, cultivate, and protect the narratives of their own political and economic enrichment and empowerment.

Membership of the party does not require any paid-up due, but the acceptance of and willingness to enforce others to accept two kinds of narratives. One kind that divides the world into oppressors (those who are enemies of the party) and emancipators (the party). The other kind is crisis narratives. Acceptance of the truth of these narratives requires crisis response; and that involves the expansion of the state and its emergency powers, as well as its cooperation with corporate interests, along with control of all information production and flow.

COVID has been the last in the long line of these crises. The others include climate change, white supremacy, and the cruel and inhuman torturing that occurs by not letting children choose their sexual organs.

All these crises require that democracy must yield to the wise decisions of those who are the incarnation of the true, the good, and the beautiful, who have solved all the moral conundrums of the species, who have science on their side, and who know how to save the planet. Likewise, it requires complete control of what we can read, watch and say, so that the various crises will be overcome under their leadership. The crises can only be solved if we drastically reduce the population of the planet, dismantle the systems of energy which have given the Western world its military and economic advantages, eliminate the nation state, educate everyone to understand the ways and wisdom of the party, provide a universal income, and eliminate cash so that all private resources can be subject to surveillance, and reduce any recalcitrant who hold opinions that threaten the party to penury.

The ideas that hold this one-party state together, like the ideas that held the Nazi and Communist one-party states together, are of the kind that children and teenagers, and ambitious, lazy-minded and loquacious people can easily grasp. Although the academics who teach these ideas often spend time rhetorically puffing them up to make them look as if they are complicated, they are tailor-made for people who can be easily convinced that any alternative diagnosis, account, or analysis of a subject that has received the imprimatur of the party is to be condemned as originating in bad faith. Although these ideas have been fabricated by intellectuals, “refined” and taught in universities and schools and now enforced in the public sector and private corporations, it is because they are so intellectually shabby that so much energy and resources must be devoted to inculcating them, and protecting them, and punishing anyone who disagrees with them. The crazier and untrue an idea is, the more it needs to be violently protected – manifestly true ideas can stand on their own legs. I doubt if one person in history anywhere was ever killed, imprisoned, sacked or denounced for thinking or saying that “ice-cream is yummy,” which is not much of an idea, but, among people who like ice-cream, it is palpably true. Unfortunately, the reach and policing of what now constitutes politically harmful speech is such that it is pretty well only statements as innocuous as the one about ice-cream that may be publicly aired without fear of reprisal or punishment. As of yet, little forums like this magazine are too small to bother with.

All political opposition must also be extinguished.

The party currently faces two kinds of opposition: one is domestic. And while domestic opposition refuses to die completely, the strategy of elimination of that opposition is the elimination of it having any access to any public space. It also involves creating a social credit system, which is already operating in the West in a manner that differs in no significant way from what the CCP.

The centerpiece of domestic opposition is simply calling out the stupidity of the ideas that enrich and empower the present ruling elite. It may take the form of learned lectures, tomes etc., or comedy (Steven Crowder and Co. for example). This may not succeed in the short or even medium term, and it may well mean struggling to find places to express one’s point of view, or even earning a living – but it least one can retain one’s sanity, and one’s soul.

The second opposition is geo-political. And any success the contemporary anti-democratic elites in the West have is pyrrhic in so far as they lack the numbers, not to mention sheer wherewithal, to deal with those enemies – especially the Chinese, pan-Islamists and aspirational geo-political hegemons among the Islamic nations – who not only view the world the West is making with disgust and disdain, but find before them all manner of opportunities for exploiting the tensions generated by identity politics that have empowered the contemporary Western elite – especially the racial tensions which presently devour the world’s former hegemon.

For those in the West who would rather retrieve the virtues of the West, this opposition gives no consolation. We are now living in a time where consolation is in short supply. All we can do, is do what each of us must – and that is simply be part of a great refusal to be part of what is openly and widely touted as “the great reset.” And pray.

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

The featured image shows, “Perfect Garden,” by Pawel Kuczynski; painted in 2017.

The Dialectic Of Imbecility And The Western Elites’ Will To Power – Part 4

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5

The following program, in no particular order, contains the ideas which the Western world’s elite agree, if successful, would fix up the world –

  • the elimination of the Western traditional family
  • the elimination of Western traditional religion
  • the elimination of Western (now interpreted as white) privilege
  • the elimination of the right of freedom of speech (to have a platform is a privilege only to be granted to those who think correctly in a way commensurate with ensuring justice for all)
  • the elimination of biological sexual identity and the right of a child to choose what sex it wants (feels) itself to be
  • the total compliance with a “philosophy” about why the world is how it is and how it can be fixed
  • total trust in those who educate us in this “philosophy”
  • total trust in the state which is dedicated to the “administration of things” according to philosophical principles, such as diversity and equality – diversity meaning people with certain characteristics are the same
  • total trust in science – and the consensus that has been politically deemed to be its teaching to anyone who resists
  • total trust in non-elected officials from journalists to intelligence operatives, as well as elected officials, if they deprive you of your rights in the name of “the science”
  • a cashless economy, so that wealth cannot be stored away from those entrusted to ensure that one is deserving of one’s wealth,
  • a universal income, so that anyone who is not deserving of that income may be denied it
  • a proscription on natural birth, so as to save the planet from the Anthropocene

Of course universal income is at this stage still only an idea, as is the proscription on birth; but they look to be inevitable. Presently, universal income is advocated by the world’s richest people; and they do so at a time when a cashless economy is increasingly becoming realized. A cashless economy will enable the globalized and globalist state to access anyone’s savings, thus to ensure that none can escape its panopticon (this term was popularized by Michel Foucault, a left wing intellectual icon, at a time when surveillance was far less prevalent and when the liberal democratic state was far less beholden to a class of people who take their cues from people like Foucault).

As for population control, Michael Moore’s film, Planet of the Humans, on the inefficient and anti-environmental impact of green energy was wrongly and widely hailed by people who generally disagree with him on pretty well everything because they saw it as an acknowledgment of (his) left wing folly. What they missed was that it was a call for depopulation – and the potential tyranny behind such a call would make the Hitlers and Stalins of the world look like namby-pambies in the mass murdering stake. For we have now become so accustomed to abortion, not as an exceptional undertaking to save a mother’s life, or even preserve her mental well-being, but as a routine decision based upon our inconvenience – and the state as a public protector of our safety, and its intrusion into every sphere of our life.

So, it will seem perfectly natural when we reach the stage that one will need state permission to have children, and it may well be, in order not to discriminate against LGBTQ, etc., all natural births will be prohibited as discriminatory.

Further, now that it has become acceptable to discriminate and persecute people who deviate from any of the requirements about sexuality, gender, biology, ‘the science’, COVID vaccination, Islam, critical race theory, surely only a monster would think that people who have shown themselves to be monsters, and agents of oppression should have children. As well, we have seen that as a new narrative of oppression gains traction among the elite, as a subject requiring educators, and people to be educated, as well as people to be blamed for whatever horrors this particular form of oppression incurs, it must remain.

Anyone, but a complete idiot, might wonder why after so many decades of criticizing racism that racism is now worse than ever, as critical race theorists, leading Democrats, top ranking military officers, and intelligence officers affirm. The answer to that is, if you think this way you are not yet a complete imbecile. Anyone but an imbecile should also be able to see that clientelism requires clients – actual victims of injustice, or misfortune, don’t really matter, unless they feed the larger narrative and its professional opportunities.

However, because the above “game plan” is globalist, it does not mean that the program will win out in the way that its players think it will, anymore that the game of communism played out the way the Bolsheviks thought it would. Reality has a habit of having its way. Thus, it was that Marxists got concentration camps and mass death instead of their promised overcoming of alienation.

The program is also a fail-safe way to ensure the geopolitical destruction of the West at the hand of its enemies, which, inter alia, means the complete destruction of all the inroads of recognition made by Western progressives, whose astonishing ignorance about the impact of Islamism in Western Europe and future consequences of Islamist geopolitical inroads being made as the West tears itself apart, is a recurrent theme in writings of the insightful Bruce Bawer, who is gay and Christian. (A good and typical example of the extent of this ignorance is exhibited in the case of Sinead O’Conner, the singer whose public protest against the Church because of child sexual abuse, and who is now a convert to the religion founded by a man who had sexual intercourse with his nine year old wife).

And, while, as members of Turkey’s ruling party openly say, the demographic transformations in Western Europe may lead Western Europe to become Muslim – it is China (and as is also the case with Islamic peoples) with its very conservative adherence to the family, that is best positioned to take advantage of the West’s self-destruction, and dictate its future and the values it will tolerate.

Though, it may well be that by the time the West is but a vassal of China, China’s dictatorial policies might seem like welcome relief from what are increasingly looking like inevitable race wars, which, again will benefit the West’s geopolitical rivals far more than it will benefit blacks, or Latinos. (It is noteworthy how in all bonfire of race, playing itself out in the USA, the group that has by far the most shocking history to deal with, native Americans, don’t really figure at all. I suspect it is because they are not numerous enough in North America to be serious clients servicing ongoing political or public service careers, so their lives don’t sufficiently matter to be part of the propaganda race-war drive).

It only goes to show the contempt with which our intelligence is held that someone who bangs on about white privilege and race would think that no one would notice the sleight of hand deployed in simply shifting between color and linguistic characteristics so as to fuel conflict. But, of course, any three year old can notice that there is no consistency in any of this, that it is imbecilic thinking – albeit it is a dialectic of imbecilic thinking – that it is all about polarization.

Some three decades ago, a victim of oppression teaching at UCLA, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, realized that all the oppression stacked up in multiple ways and she drew upon the legal term of intersectionality to help identify all the identities that might lead one to be disadvantaged – as she, a Harvard graduate, must have been. While the intent was to draw attention to the multiple ways oppression and identity inter-twine – so that there could be ways of the various oppressed finding some common ground – it was essentially a response to the obvious problem of polarization; the problem of a lack of commonality, and lack of communion with community.

And, in spite of the institutional triumph in North America, Western Europe and Australasia today of identity politics and studies, what really is evident is the scramble and conflict between the identities for resources, opportunities, prestige and power by claiming they have less opportunity and access because they are more oppressed: white feminists being trumped by black feminists, or by the transgender activists so that having a vagina does not count when it comes to being a woman, and or a white gay male (say a film producer) might be slightly down the totem pole of victimhood from a white straight male (even, say, a guy selling gas).

So, we now require an education system now that can identify and ensure the institutional justification and distribution of resources on the basis of the different gradations of oppression that accrue to different identities. Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Oxford, Cambridge etc. have all morphed from being institutions of higher learning into institutions of imbecilic cultivation – as for the professions that would seem to be so far removed from these imbecilic issues – math, dentistry, engineering, accountancy etc., just as in the Soviet Union, where eventually even genetics was completely politicized, the totalitarian imbeciles are making sure that no discipline or training can escape the reach of their dialectic of imbecility.

At the heart of the ceaseless expansion of the dialectic of imbecility destroying minds, hearts, character, and institutions is the self – the self-wanting to be and being identified as all-important, being everything, wanting to have everything – from respect and pride, to pity and opportunity. This is the self that wants no sacrifice; it wants access to that big magic bin I spoke of earlier – and the way to have access is to present itself as being disadvantaged in access to it.

Once upon a time some people thought the access was given to the Jews, then it was men, then straights – now we all know, and have teachers and professionals telling us the answer – it is the whites that get all that undeserved access. That this is where the hell of self-obsession leads – it is the diabolical sin of pride – the pride Milton describes when he has Eve worship a tree thinking once she eats from the tree of knowledge she will be as God, or Satan who wants to be God, and to beguile assumes the form of a slithering slimy creature. It is also, sadly, completely self-serving, which is why (as anyone with a modicum of understanding of the laws of the spirit knows) it is utterly destructive of the soul.

The imbecilic self may want to cling to its identity as a Woman, Black, Latino, blah blah; but anyone who is happy to construe himself or herself in such term is just another imbecile. And that s/he, as much as anyone else, who is happy to go along, accepts that someone assumes to speak on behalf of/for an identity – as if having an identity always meant being, feeling, thinking x,y,z… blah blah. And it is precisely the making of imbeciles that is behind the self-serving nature of the dialectic of the imbecilic.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 5

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

The featured image shows, “Erregte Menschen (Excited People),” by Emil Nolde; painted in 1913.

The Dialectic Of Imbecility And The Western Elites’ Will To Power – Part 3

Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5

A Clientelist Elite, And An Idiotic Idea

On the 30th of April 2018 the New York Times published an opinion piece, “Happy Birthday, Karl Marx. You Were Right!” by Jason Barker. It was a typical, facile, brief account of the virtue of Karl Marx by an academic – a Professor of English (who and what else?) – who had found employment teaching philosophy in South Korea.

To anyone who might have thought that Karl Marx was the guy who (in his words) “proved” that “the class struggle necessarily leads to the dictatorship of the proletariat,” and “that this dictatorship itself only constitutes the transition to the abolition of all classes and to a classless society ,” and thus triggered the crazy schemes and programs of Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, etc., who had to kill a lot of people to make sure that they would not even think about trying to protect their property from the party representing the dictatorship of the proletariat – Barker, true to (con)form(ity), informed the urbane, sensitive, well educated, sophisticated and terribly exploited readers of the New York Times that Marxism had never really been tried.

Barker, like so many academics before him, was true to a dictum (which I know I have used before in this magazine) of another, extremely talented, Marx (Chico) that when one heard the words of Marx, one should believe him, not what one sees with one’s own eyes.

In Karl’s case, anyone who used his eyes could see that while he insisted that it was not consciousness but social being that determines consciousness and that the social “being” of the proletariat was the key to its universal emancipatory historical role of destroying class society, everything Marx said about the proletariat came out of his consciousness; or, more precisely, his imagination, consisting of his reading and philosophy, his rationalizations and selective observations – but nothing from his being as a proletarian. For Marx belonged as much to that class as any other person who has known some workers; or, as in his case, was good friends with (and received money from) someone (viz., his friend Engels who was also coauthor of The Communist Manifesto) who employed them in his factory. Perhaps Marx was so blind to himself that he never noticed the deception he was engaging in.

Likewise, perhaps Barker’s blindness to reality stems from simply not knowing that he is ignorant about the historical connections between Marx, Lenin and Stalin, and why the goal of the program – the elimination of private ownership of “the means of production” – required the kind of theoretical adaptation that not only Marxists but Marx himself made when, in spite of the central argument of his unfinished magnum opus, Capital, that the conditions of socialism had to be generated from the internal contradictions flowing from the development of capitalism reaching its breaking point, he told his Russian “fans” that they could have communism without having to go through the journey of capitalism as Western Europe had done.

Whether ignorant or not, one must be blind, if one does not realize that when the Bolsheviks tried to create the kind of society Marx dreamt of, they got chaos and resistance. Like Marx, there was no serious precedent anywhere ever of what they wanted; although, like Marx, they romanticized the artisan-led Paris commune (itself a product of very specific French political and Parisian conditions in the tumult and aftermath of the Franco-Prussian war), as if it were somehow a prototype of what they were pursuing.

For Marx and the Bolsheviks, socialism was to be a society in which there would be large-scale, spontaneous cooperative harnessing of labour power to produce whatever the society needed. And because there would be no classes and no bourgeoisie to dictate patterns of consumption based upon profits, there was supposed to be unanimous agreement upon social needs. Given that people did not all think it was such a swell idea to have their property taken away from them, or be told what work they had to do and for how long, the mass cooperation that was supposed to emerge out of the unalienated classless condition had to be induced another way.

Historically two common inducements outside of the family, or tribe (which has its own compulsions) have occurred – force (conquest, enslavement, etc.), or renumeration/exchange (you do this for me, and I do that/give this for /to you). The Bolsheviks resorted to option A, thereby leaping back beyond Russian feudalism and creating large scale modern, ideologically induced and legitimated, labour camps for mass slavery (thereby also showing the National Socialists how to go about it), and the creation of a secret police (again, showing the National Socialists how to scout out and deal with traitors to the regime).

That this would occur could only be a surprise to someone who prefers historical fantasy about human social formation over actual development, which proceeds according to certain structural, functional conditions of scale and coordination of resource accumulation and production (the very topic Marxism was supposed to be particularly astute to). That the Bolsheviks were still confronted with chaos – made even worse by a civil war, as, naturally enough, various groups who were in less controllable regions fought against becoming dispossessed and enslaved to fulfil the fantasies of the intelligentsia and their willing followers – led them to resort back, in part at least, to option B.

But Lenin knew that if this was a long-term option, then one could forget the endgame. Stalin remembered that – thus he realized that the only way to salvage the program after Lenin’s death was to get it back on track, and destroy the peasantry and their market base, as well as any opposition to the slaughter that this would entail. (By the way, when Bukharin was pressing for the New Economic Policy, allowing the peasantry to have their own markets NEP, Trotsky was vigorously opposed to it, while Stalin was non-committal – so much for the myth of the tolerant Trotsky).

But given the geopolitical rivalry Stalin was confronted with (for Lenin had taken advantage of a war that had effectually help destroy the old regime), Stalin had to be prepared for the inevitability of another war. That required having a society that was industrially and technologically developed, administratively capable, centrally coordinated and politically committed. No wonder Trotsky’s “wind-baggery” about the dangers of bureaucracy in the face of internal oppositionists and arising external deadly adversaries looked like outright defeatism and treachery (Stalin realized that the geopolitical aspirations of Nazi Germany were not to be confused with the rather lack-luster involvement by a gaggle of foreign powers on the fringes of Russia in the immediate aftermath of the Great War).

The old revolutionary guard had been good at gasbagging about how great their new world would be, distributing propaganda and defying the old regime, inciting mutiny, and then ruthlessly destroying anyone who did not join them. Stalin certainly took all this on board – but (Stalin and those he trusted or needed aside) they were generally useless for actually building a new large-scale centralized state-run economy. Yes, indeed, this was ostensibly a new option – option C. Given it was option B – the market – that Marxism had identified as the root of alienation, and given that the fantasy of simply letting people take and do what they want could not exist, and that this left force (option A) in the form of the state (whose bulwarks were its secret police, originally Lenin’s creation, the Cheka, and the Red Army) as the means for organizing large scale production – option C was really just option A.

And that came back to the basic option that Marxists from Karl on had ever skirted around – production via sheer force of arms and the instruments of authority the state could marshal against those who defied it, or markets? Up until the time communists actually had some power, they preferred verbal dream to tough as boots reality; and hence promised to eliminate both – this was seen as nonsense even by the anarchist lunatic Bakunin, who accused Marxism of being nothing but red bureaucracy and statism. Bakunin was, of course, another of those nineteenth century fabulists who thought that because the bulwarks of civilization (private property, the family, the state, religion, money, law, etc.) created their own (to be sure) serious problems, they could simply be overthrown without human beings being thrown back again into the problems and kinds of crises that these institutions had arisen to overcome.

Stalinist statism was, in other words, the inevitable accompaniment of the attempt to instantiate a rationalist program upon the world, which is a contingent, not a rational creation. And while an ideology is just a chain of ideas, some of which derive from reality; others, like communism itself – “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” as Marx famously and ridiculously formulated it – are just words. But once a group of people who share a set of ideas seek to make others do what they want, then they need the state with the modalities of force that it can activate for all those who refuse to obey.

As an ideology Marxism, like anarchism, simply avoided the issue of disputation and disagreement by identifying anyone who did not get on board with the program as class enemies, and thus an enemy of the human race, which was why once the Bolsheviks seized power they upped the dictum of the red queen in Alice in Wonderland, calling “bourgeois” or “agents of the bourgeoisie” anyone they needed to lock up or liquidate because such would not do what they were told. And, perhaps Barker has no memory of this, but back in the day communists generally, and communist intellectuals, including people as smart as Brecht, Benjamin, Tzara, Picasso, Eluard, Aragon – all loved Stalin.

And when Stalin was cleaning out the stable – including the upper ranks of the military (which, contrary to the standard critique of it being potentially perilous to the regime, turned out to be a brilliant move with historical precedent based upon the insight that old generals will generally be a burden because they will want to fight the new war in the old way) – so that a new, more technically proficient, class could build up the economy after all the ruin of the 1920s.

The New York Times also had their man, Walter Duranty, on the ground. He wrote fables for New Yorkers living far away from the slave camps, about what a bunch of treacherous scum Stalin had to deal with. And to be fair to Stalin, the only difference between him and Trotsky, or Zinoviev or Kamenev, and even (sad to say, the golden-haired boy) Bukharin, the other saboteurs was that he was more astute in the battles he picked, and the allies he chose in fighting them. And whereas Trotsky, his one real possible rival to take charge of gulags and mass death to implement the program, was cold and aloof, Stalin could really turn on that big, earthy, goofy smile and ingratiating rustic charm.

As for the great mass of those caught up in the purge, New York Times readers, even had they known, generally could not care less about these unknown people, in a place that was only knowable through the scribble and portal of people like Duranty’s imagination. As with Barker and the readers of 2018, reality should not interfere with a pipe-dream. People usually only change after a great deal of personal suffering, as opposed to suffering that one reads about in newspapers and which befalls others. That is unfortunate, though no less so than the fact that people with idiotic ideas make small and large fortunes out of their imbecilic ideas which, in the long run, only contribute to larger scale human suffering than God or nature, left to their own devices, may have devised.

While I think it highly unlikely that the Sulzberger family today, who have run the Times for generations, and the editors they appoint really want to see their property seized and socialized by the industrial proletariat, they are more than happy to employ an editor who back in the day saw it fitting to inform their readers what a swell guy Uncle Joe was, and now more recently that communism might be worth another go. Maybe that is blindness too. And perhaps it was also simply blindness that led President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, who, around much the same time as Barker’s “thought piece,” was also urging anyone who thought him worth listening to that Karl Marx should be celebrated and not be blamed for the crimes of his followers. Perhaps he too was blind to the fact that his power and privilege have about as much to do with the proletariat as my watching Michael Jordan turned me into one of the greatest athletes on the planet.

The idea of communism, from the founder to his followers, and others, who are happy to pitch it as a seriously good idea, seems to create a lot of blindness. It certainly creates idiocy. And let us not beat around any scholarly bushes of etiquette: the idea we are talking about is completely idiotic. Communism, as Marx exclaimed in his notebooks of 1844, solved the riddle of history because it enabled the overcoming of alienation. The logic is pure scholasticism (without any residual virtues that such devotion to logic for understanding God and the soul might have had).

And it goes like this: private property has alienated us therefore we must eliminate it. Or to flesh it out a bit more, our alienation comes from being estranged from our species’ essence, which is labouring. Poverty exists because our essence, our capacity to labour, has been expropriated from us by people who buy and sell us and our essence for their own gain.

Were we to take back our essence, by eliminating private property, and labour, because we saw that by producing something for someone else we have gratified our “authentic…human communal, nature” (the logic is spelled out in Notes he took on James Mill’s Elements of Political Economy), we would also eliminate classes, and thus create the most productive economic system that ever existed. To which one can only respond – wow, how come no other societies ever conformed to the human essence? Maybe, just maybe, what Marx thought was the essence was just an existential attribute or feature that is, in part, a response to necessity. But if it were the essence, it sure waited a long time to be discovered.

The worst thing about Marx’s reasoning and conclusion is not its platitudinous quality – more or less articulated by Montaigne in his essays, “Of Cannibals” (a critique of Europe’s own burdens, mixed up with a romantic paean to primitive life, which, to its credit, was not burdened by bad economics), roundly and brilliantly ridiculed by Shakespeare, when he put parts of it in the mouth of the well-meaning, but imbecilic Gonzalo, and repeated by the cultural (Marxist?) icon of the 1960s and 1970s John Lennon – “imagine no possessions/ I wonder if you can.” Yes, I can, John, and if you had read a bit more between writing some good songs (and let’s face it some real stinkers – can anyone listen to ‘Woman’ without a bucket?), taking drugs and schmoozing up to Yoko, you would know that it ain’t a pretty sight.

If the above logic does not sound idiotic to you, you have not realized that classes are just the name we give to the various groups that are created by the division of labour. In other words, the only way to eliminate classes is to eliminate the division of labour, which is why in his heady twenty-four or -five year old enthusiastic, drunken stupor, Marx came right out with it and proclaimed that the abolition of the division of labour was the means for freeing people from alienation. Good luck to anyone who seriously thinks they can have even modest economic development without the division of labour.

Even the formulation of the problem – the problem of alienation – reveals itself to be the kind of philosophical bothering undertaken by someone who has swallowed and regurgitated too many inebriates and abstractions; as if alienation is even the appropriate term to cover the original lack of resources, territory, a reliable food supply, the desire for women (a major source of conflict among Australian Aboriginal tribes, according to the escaped convict William Buckley who lived with the Aborigines for thirty years), and the kinds of artifacts and possibilities that urban dwelling and its accompanying division of labour historically enabled.

Such a way of thinking – which has now become commonplace among our intelligentsia – involves the belief that scarcity is not a natural existential starting point and problem to be constantly dealt with, but a deviation from our nature and essence. This is the “magic bin” theory of economics – there is a magic bin full of all the goodies we want that we all have a right to access (though Marx did at least think rights’ talk, like justice, was bourgeois nonsense).

Rights claims have become increasingly predicated upon the magic bin theory of economics, as is all too evident in the UN Declaration of Human Rights which identifies all manner of rights that have first to be produced before one can actually have any of them. Marx’s claim that the elimination of the division of labour solved the problems of scarcity and alienation is akin to using beheading as a cure for migraine.

To be fair to Marx, in a footnote tucked away in his posthumously published third volume of Capital, he seems to have substituted the crazy idea of marrying large scale production without the division of labour to the reduction of the working day. That is a remarkable comedown – a little like me confessing that in spite of all my watching of Michael Jordan, I am not the world’s great athlete, but I did like to nurse a basketball in my lap when watching him on the tellie.

As for needing communism to bring about the reduction of the working day – labour hours in communist countries generally lagged behind the West because their economies were not particularly productive, and the flow on of benefits within the workplace could not match the combined benefits of unions, market efficiencies, and state regulations (more often than not the economic benefits were due to the institutional amelioration of potentially disruptive industrial conflict).

And while the Western democracies delivered what could reasonably be argued were relatively limited social/community goods and services (though there are considerable differences between what Western democracies are prepared to offer and pay with public monies), they managed to improve living standards on a far greater scale than in communist countries. And they did it without the extermination of the peasantry and petit bourgeois.

Moreover, in spite of Marx’s reputation and his disastrous impact – from mass murder to spreading ideological idiocy amongst his own class (the intelligentsia) – Marx cannot take any serious credit for the gains to the working class that sprang from their political organization and economic bargaining in the form of labour parties and trade unions.

In England and America, Marxism was never a serious factor within the development of working-class political organization and representation; and in Germany, where Marxism had had most success within the labour movement of Western Europe, Eduard Bernstein, who had been a Marxist and had been close to Engels, dropped the Marxist program, having realized how superior to communism were the social, economic and political gains to be had by focusing upon trade union and parliamentary representation pushing for public education, better welfare conditions, and nationalizing certain industries.

Intellectuals were generally far more attracted to Marxism than to the working-class based political parties – which were, let’s face it, dealing with the dull humdrum, day-to-day of real politics that might help a couple pay the rent, or buy a home, get their kids into a decent school, and be able to pay doctors’ bills, rather than ending history and all exploitation.

Intellectuals generally shared Lenin’s view that trade union consciousness blunted the revolutionary aspirations and potential of the working class – in the USA, Marcuse’ theory of repressive tolerance was a big hit with college kids who had got really bored with all those unhip, square workers, who didn’t have the education to know that “Yeah, man -it’s the system.”

That they preferred the idiotic idea over the day-to-day grind of working-class political organization is all too explicable, if we take cognizance of the kind of economic factors that Marx (falsely) purported to have incorporated into his theory – that is, Marxism was indeed the reflection of the social being of those who espoused it. But it was never a theory that came out of the working class – rather, a theory that was foisted onto the working class. From its inception and in its development, it was a product of the intelligentsia, whose view of social and political progress was predicated upon them supplying the ideas and teaching the rest of society how to conform to their ideas. It was, in other words, a clientelist ideology.

Hence too as communism looked a dead duck in the Western world, outside of communist countries whose intellectuals could no longer bear the idiocy, lies, toadyism, and poverty that Marxism had spawned, Marxism’s home was exclusive to the breeding ground of the intelligentsia, the university. Other potent concoctions of the human mind – all with much the same amount of analytical rigor as had satisfied Marx – were being brewed by people around the same age as Marx was when he knew everything. They knew even more because they had the benefit of having learnt where critique (what they did to others) had to be refined. They were all devoted to making themselves, as students, or professors and intellectuals, the leaders of the great emancipation, the overthrow of domination. They were also one and all concoctions which found a plethora of client groups – if you were a woman, you could take on women; if you were gay, the gays; if you were black, the blacks; if from a former colony, people from the colonies.

By then, the colonies had pretty well all been given back; so now it was a question of post-colonialism; and the thing was to score a career at an elite university by representing the products of colonialism, racism, etc. Of course, in spite of identity guaranteeing representative status – “I am woman, therefore I speak for all women,” etc., those who couldn’t actually claim the identity status of those needing them as their representatives would not always be too bothered by that – especially where race was concerned. One just needed to make a career out of the fact that all (other) whites were racist, or colonialists.

The program was a farrago of idiotic ideas, which took about two minutes to learn. They could be applied anywhere and everywhere; so learning it didn’t require one to study too much history – certainly nothing that revealed the complex details that would illustrate that learning history via a moral principle, such as moral and political progress, is to blind one to history.

While the program lent itself to huge salaries for administrators and human resource types, who could hand out crayons and butcher’s paper to better indoctrinate their captive employees (now including the US military) in whatever piece of ideological imbecility they were pushing at the moment, the theory types in the university could dress up the farrago in the kind of bloviated diction that did at least involve some dictionary learning. Bug-eyed students, who had the initial lobotomy performed in schools and were now just a gangling mass of fretful nerve-ends, were enthralled by the dizzying ideas of their loquacious professors.

Once upon a time people used to go to college to read books, engage in student activities and enjoy a sequestered space of reflection – now students needed trigger warnings and safe spaces to protect them from the horrors that might befall them – they might hear a word, or witness a tragic scene in a play, or learn that an orange version of Hitler had been voted in by all these terrible people. They were the most inexperienced and brainless bottom end of the assembly line of the dialectic, easy to yoke into service, to scream and screech at whoever and whatever they had been told was responsible for making their world a hateful place of oppression.

What had come to constitute oppression, not only according to lobotomized students on grievance autopilot, demanding the sacking of any teacher they heard saying something that made them feel unsafe, varied from someone who was not Mexican wearing a sombrero, to someone who did not think their tomboy daughter should have their sex organs tampered with, to someone who ate meat, to someone who was white, to someone who was black but not woke, to someone who mined or transported or invested in fossil fuel, to someone who expresses doubt about yet to be proven predictions of rising sea-level, to someone who thinks the tactics of dealing with COVID have not been that wise, to someone who still used old-fashioned designations of roles and gender like Mum and Dad – the great persecution is a movable feast alright.

The zombie carnival is the outgrowth of the most grimly earnest self-belief and utterly unshakeable conviction in their own intellectual talent with one absolute (though rarely stated) certainty at the end of it – job prospects, because all institutions now have to be radically overhauled by this particular group representing all the clients of their world (what lay beyond their world did not really exist; thus, the non-problem for feminists of Muslim patriarchy and honour killings).

More, in an age where genuine religion was increasingly some exotic Other which, no matter how cruel its practices to women, deserved respect, provided it was not something Westerners practiced or even knew anything serious about, the platitudes of social justice gave the “hollow” non-binaries, with their own pronouns (to use what might now be an acceptable rewriting of T.S. Eliot’s prescient poem) something to hold on to. You have to hand it to those who live off this dialectic; although the end game is idiotic, the tactic is pretty brilliant – especially in how it taps into one of the most disgusting qualities in human beings, sanctimoniousness.

And the existence of a compliant sector of the population had already been facilitated by all those mindless sit-coms, gameshows, and infantile diversions that the developed world had channeled into living rooms. It was all taking over, while much of the population barely noticed that the free world had become mentally captive to an elite, who believing in idiotic ideas themselves, now required for their own elevated status and careers, making everybody else accept them as true. The proof of its success has been recently put by Victor Davis Hanson in his typically perspicuous essay, “This isn’t Your Father’s Left-Wing Revolution.” Today’s revolutionaries aren’t fighting “the Man” – they are “the Man”:

“Name one mainline institution the woke Left does not now control – and warp. The media? The campuses? Silicon Valley? Professional sports? The corporate bedroom? Foundations? The K-12 educational establishment? The military hierarchy? The administrative state? The FBI top echelon?’

As for the proles, even Marxists tended to ditch them as too ideologically stupefied to help them in their revolution, though it had become apparent to the tertiary educated that the political parties that had been created by the working-classes, as well as the trade unions, offered good employment prospects. Hence, they also took over the various labour parties of the Western world, as they “professionalized” the unions by fast-tracking university graduates into union leadership positions. They had gone to college after all, so they were smart enough to know many of the workers would sentimentally stick with the party of their past while blindly accepting their leadership. It worked for a while, until a majority of the workers realized they were being treated as idiots; and then they started abandoning their patrons and the party they and their parents had generally supported.

If they were white, they were renounced as white supremacists for wanting to preserve any of the values that they identified with, rather than fit into the new client boxes that had been constructed for them to fit into. The problem with the working class, unlike the Woke (again, like political correctness, originally a term the elite used to distinguish its own intellectual superiority, but now used pejoratively by its critics), and indeed the problem with anyone who would not get in step with the Woke, is that they weren’t imbeciles.

The alliance noted above between the inventor of a narrative that purports to solve all the world’s problems, a globalist educator, a media mogul and editor, and a leading (non-elected) “representative” of a political body that is non-democratic (democratic deficit is how EU scholars politely put it) in all that matters is a symptom of the fact that today the Western world’s largest corporations, its wealthiest, its most prestigious elite learning, education institutions and its most prestigious educators, along with its leading political parties and politicians, as well as its most highly paid public servants, military and intelligence operatives, along with its wealthiest celebrities and even sports stars – all agree on how the world should be fixed, and who should do the fixing (them). It can be fixed by a curriculum of imbecility which will create an educational elite who will ensure that all acceptable social ideals are imbecilic, so that our social and political institutions may socially reproduce imbeciles to instantiate the program of imbecility. Brilliant!

Part 1, Part 2, Part 4, Part 5

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

The featured image shows, “Sisyphus,” by Odd Nerdrum; painted in 1990.

Those Pesky Poles! Forever Defying Totalitarianism

1. Polish Peskiness Brought Down the Soviet Union, While The Soviets Transferred The Baton Of Imbecility To Educated Westerners

Is it the Bigos (hunter’s stew), is it the Zurek, is it the Blintzes, is it the Pierogi, or the Krupnik which makes the Poles so damned obstinate, so pesky?

Or is that a people, whose nobles went against the current in the sixteenth century by devising a noble system of democracy (an elected monarch with a functioning parliamentary legislature) when other European countries were becoming increasingly absolutist, really don’t like being bossed around by bumptious authoritarian idiots?

Or is that a people who were written off the map for more than a hundred years don’t like being written off or out of history, and that a people who fought and successfully defended themselves against the Bolsheviks in 1919-21, only to be invaded by the Soviets and Nazis, don’t like being victims of the deranged imperial dreams of others?

Or is it that a people who were duped into becoming a communist country and Soviet vassal have inoculated themselves against being duped again by ideas that promise to be very heaven but turn out to be hell?

Or is that a country whose Catholic identity was just too strong for the communists to successfully suppress continue to hang onto their religious identity when Western Europeans view their own history, and religious heritage, with a mixture of ignorance and shame (unfortunately without being ashamed of their own ignorance)? One Polish refugee from communism, Aleksander Wat, in My Century, thought that

Poland’s mainstay was not in revolts but in “disengaging from the enemy,” specifically, the country’s overwhelming Catholicism, precisely that parochial, obscurantist, and often vulgar Polish Catholicism, which, however, purified itself and grew deeper “in the catacombs” and truly found its shepherd in the person of the Primate, Cardinal Wyszyński. That Catholicism made the Polish soul impervious to the magic of “ideology” and the knout of praxis, and it was not the rebellious writers and revisionists who caused the Polish October but – apart from Stalinism’s crumbling power and cohesiveness – the steadfast, constant, unyielding mental resistance of that Catholic nation, its “dwelling” in transcendence.”

Whatever it is, though, those Poles sure are pesky for anyone who thinks they should roll over and take a boot on their necks. They probably vote in such large numbers for the Conservative Law and Justice party just to give the finger to the Western Europeans elites who all want the Poles to come to their party of endless progress – and self-annihilation.

In the upside-down world represented by the European Union and mainstream Western European political parties, it is authoritarian to oppose dismantling the values of Christendom which gave the West its greatest achievements. Likewise, West European elites cannot stand the fact that a predominantly Catholic country has the temerity to want to defend its Catholic tradition from a group who might be more smiley than the previous Soviet bullies, and who generally tend to like to get their way with promises of giving or withholding large pots of money rather than bringing in tanks. But the pesky Poles wipe off their smiles and make them hot under the collar when they say thanks for the money and trade deals, but no thanks to the tactic of welcoming Muslim migrants and refugees to transplant not only themselves in their flight from economic and political hardship but their traditions and, in too many cases, their pan-Islamist aspirations on a remaining national bastion of Christian soil. The Western European elite wants all opposition to its values and institutional overhauling to fold in exactly the same way as they themselves are folding to their geopolitical enemies. They seem to struggle to understand why a country, whose workers openly took to the streets against the communists in 1956 and then again from 1980 formed the union, Solidarity, to defy, with eventual success, their Soviet masters, won’t simply take the money and obey. Why they think they will succeed where the Soviets failed is but one more example of how all the mountains of bureaucratic EU drivel is a cipher of mental vacuity, merrily redesigning the world in the image of its own emptiness – the confirmation, if one will, of an intelligentsia which once spawned, Being and Nothingness, merely becoming nothingness. And whereas the Western elites, like their US counterparts, all accepted the eternally enduring presence of the Soviets, the Poles became the spearhead of what would ultimately inspire others from Soviet satellite countries to also stand up to their Soviet masters.

Yes, there were many things that bought about the demise of the Soviet Union, from a disastrous war in Afghanistan to a nuclear power plant accident, which revealed the dangerous incompetence of trying to preside over nuclear power with a system in which raw power and ideology always trumped over truth and competence, to a US president, depicted by the intelligentsia as a cross between Bozo the clown and a third rate actor who thought he was a cowboy, who defied the conventional wisdom – that the Soviet Union was an undefeatable superpower – by upping the arms race to levels which bought an already ailing economy and a gerontocratic power, loosening its grip through age and a generational power transfer, to its knees.

But one could not underestimate the peskiness of the Poles when it came to the fall of communism. There was the outspoken and very pesky Polish Pope who had inspired the formation of Solidarity, and who refused to go along with the rot in the Church that was all for Christian Marxist/communist dialogue, and liberation theology, itself little more than a Soviet propaganda front posing as Christian teaching. And then there was the pesky Polish priest who was closely connected with Solidarity, Father Jerzy Popiełuszko, who was murdered by members of the security service. His murder only served to ensure that Solidarity would be an even bigger thorn in the side of the communist government than it had been before.

Generally, though, it is the sad fact that when the Soviets were well on the way to losing the military war, they were already defeating the West in the propaganda war. Their victory was pyrrhic because their attempts at open-ness and reform proved to be as disastrous as the rest of their attempts to realize the dreams of a bunch of ideas spearheaded by people who thought their knowledge and philosophy could create a system that was both perfect and unprecedented. All that was left was to leave their communist allies presiding over their satellite dependencies in the lurch, and walk away from a political system that was taped together by lies and people spying on each other, and an economic system that could not produce enough bread, let alone computerised arms systems to rival the US. (Whether to their credit or not remains to be seen, but the Chinese had already decided to drop the economic system while holding onto the political system). So, the Soviets had a bargain basement jumble sale where Western grifters and con-men like William Browder, the grandson of the American communist party leader Earl Browder, and the local mafia scooped up the assets of a country.

And while almost all the Soviet scholars went over night from being media talking heads and clueless political scientists explaining why détente was a very good deal, to historians scratching their heads over why the biggest event since the Second World War took place without them having a clue it was coming – that wannabe American cowboy Bozo and a handful of his anti-Soviet advisors, who had been reading a few astute economists who had identified the gigantic budgetary hole covered by creative accounting, which involved simply transferring next year’s income to this year’s, who saw what the Poles saw – that Soviet power was just one more in a long line of heavily guarded Potemkin villages.

Though to be fair to the smarts of the Soviets, while they could not run a country, they sure knew how to dupe the minds of Westerners. For just as from the time of Lenin’s take-over to Khrushchev’s denunciation of Stalin, the Soviets had managed to convince many of the leading minds of the intelligentsia in North and South America, Western Europe and Australasia about the virtues of Soviet communism, up until its demise, the Soviets had created all the key critical phrases and “talking points” that radicals of the 1970s and 1980s would use when it came to the power politics of the Cold War. They would all castigate Regan as a warmonger for calling the Soviet Union an evil empire, for devising a bomb that would kill people without destroying buildings, for walking back on détente and upping the arms race, and for having the temerity to plan a missile shield system that was thereby, according to the radicals and Soviets, increasing the likelihood of nuclear war, even though, they would add, with absolute assuredness and without a blink, it was a scientific impossibility. The dialectic of imbecility had already been a successful experiment, conducted by the Soviets upon the better educated saps in the West.

For anyone who can recall, the media reported almost daily on the well-meaning protesters in Western Europe wearing gum boots, rainbow dyed tee-shirts, peace signs and carrying their kiddies on their shoulders – while on MTV, Sting, like so many singers who believe that being able to knock out a good tune gives them a terrific handle on geopolitics and how to achieve world peace, having taken time off from saving the Amazon, was earnestly intoning: “If the Russians love their children too/ How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer’s deadly toy?? (Allow me to put it on the public record, so that on Judgment Day I can say in my own defense – for all my sins, Lord, no matter how hummable his tunes, I could never stand the sanctimonious strains of Sting.) All their anti-nuclear protests were directed at weakening military opposition against the Soviets – for, they intoned repeatedly, it was NOT the Soviets, but the USA who was bringing the world to the brink of destruction. This was of course before the next (pre-COVID) all-encompassing catastrophe – global warming/climate change, which would push aside nuclear disarmament as the source of hyperbolic panic requiring an elite of wise and all-knowing saviours.

The most radical Westerners thought they were super smart in being non-Stalinist, non-Soviet Marxists. But they were to use the phrase coined by the pesky (Lithuanian born) Pole, Czeslaw Milosz, “captive minds.” This is perhaps why, in spite of not being attracted to the grey lump that the Soviets had served up as communism, Western radical students could not tolerate Soviet dissidents being given any kind of platform. I was studying in West Germany in 1984 and recall a poorly attended talk by a Soviet dissident. The West German university students booed him for being a US Cold War stooge.

Today the tactics and narratives that the Soviets had fostered long before the Cold War in creating disunity in the USA by fueling racial strife so it becomes a civil war, are now not only commonplace in universities and schools but in corporations and the White House itself, which approves of critical race theory being taught even in the military. The communist strategy of subversion was all mapped out in detail by the KGB defector Yuri Besmenov, and his book, Love Letter to America, written under the pseudonym Thomas Schuman. But his warning was already a generation too late – at the moment, the US was poised to win the Cold War, it had lost its mind (its universities, its media, Hollywood and other idea-brokering institutions) to the same terrible ideas that the Poles and others were trying to shake off.

The legacy of the communist victory – leaving China alone to pick up the spoils – is now so obvious, that half the US sees it. And it is certainly not those US citizens who control the formation and circulatory flow of the ideas of the ruling class. It is also significant that two of the best recent books that are diagnosing the spiritual, intellectual and social suicide of the Western world are by Poles, Ryszard Legutko, and Zbigniew Janowski. The former is a member of the European Parliament as well as the author of The Demon in Democracy: Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies, and more recently, The Cunning of Freedom: Saving the Self in an Age of False Idols.

Legutko came to prominence a couple of years ago thanks to the stupidity and bellicosity of students and staff at Middlebury who, having slapped up posters and a Facebook page denouncing Legutko as a “f****ing homophobe and sexist,” prevented him from speaking about the dangers of totalitarian democracy engulfing “free societies.” The public talk having been cancelled, the professor who invited Legutko to the college had his nine students hold a secret ballot (yes, this is how free students are today in an American university) to see whether Legutko should give the intended lecture to them.

They voted yes (sanity prevailed for a moment), and he did manage to commence his lecture to the professor’s small class. But as more students filed in and word got out, that too was subverted and Professor Legutko was escorted off campus. I doubt if any of the staff or students had the wherewithal to even read his book, let alone ask whether their confirmation of the “thesis” of Legutko’s book was really making a better world. They were just like anti-Semitic Christians, who never understood that their tactics only served to illustrate the deficiencies of their own personal faith, character, and behaviour. Unfortunately, the world is made more by the deficiencies of who and what we are and do than by the neatness of our (ostensible) moral reasons and ideas. But good luck finding twenty professors in the USA who know or care about that.

Just as some Muslims kill people to protest against those who publicly dispute that Islam is a religion of peace by referring to violent imperatives in passages of the Koran and hadith, elite students and academicians of today want to end hate, serve social justice and overcome all oppression by screaming at and shutting down anyone who thinks that they are just a bunch of bullies, know-it-alls, and spoilt brats, who know nothing serious about society or even justice. Though there are spoiled brats in Poland (and members of its intelligentsia) who also want to join the mental and spiritual suicide being undertaken by their Western counterparts, and whom the Western elites are recruiting into its ranks.

Hence a group of them, who had sought to enforce a ruling of the European Court of Human Right’s work that proscribed all religious symbolism from schools, also hauled Legutko before a District Court in Kraków. His crime? Apparently, it was calling them “spoiled little brats.” Sadly, just last month, Legutko found himself attacked again by students and members of the Philosophy Department of the Jagiellonian University, where Legutko teaches.

The reason for this was his letter to the university Rector about the dangers of the university having put in place a Western style administrative department for equity grievances. The letters – which are appearing in the Postil – illustrate the same pathetic and sanctimonious reasoning, self-serving moral platitudes, and appeal to authority as are found today in every Western university – confirming yet again that philosophers are not inoculated against being seduced by their own moral vanity, and are no more inclined than anyone else to take on the burden of historical memory, when required to think for a moment about what ethically fragile and generally unwise creatures, such as we do with the machinery of abstractions, once it is set up to ensure social control.

Janowksi, like Legutko, grew up under communism, but he returned to Poland last year, after thirty-five years in the USA. From my correspondence with him, Janowski is a born teacher, and it seems that he found many US students who greatly appreciated what he had to teach. But he was worn down by the mental midget-ism and wokeness that had taken over the university, along with the university administration who would periodically carpet him for his contrarianism.

As anyone who knows the least thing about Western universities today, university administrators have mastered the racket of having students and the state pay their exorbitant salaries, while simultaneously shutting down, and clearing out all genuine intellectual work in the Arts and Humanities, and while creating the safe spaces so their students learn that all whites are racists and that the USA is the most racist country in history.

Janowski has captured this farcical replay of totalitarianism in the USA (if I may borrow Marx’s tweaking of Hegel on history) in his excellent book, Homo Americanus: The Rise of Totalitarian Democracy in America. But before looking more closely at the works by Legutko and Janowski, I want to briefly discuss that earlier generation of pesky Poles who were trying to bring down communist totalitarianism – one of them, Leszek Kolakowski, was Janowski’s PhD supervisor, and hence a direct source of inspiration for him.

2. Poles Against Communist Totalitarianism

While there is a very long list of Polish critics of communism, I suspect that the two most well-known to Western readers are Leszek Kolakowski and Czeslaw Milosz, the former a philosopher, the later a poet. Given that communism is a poetic fabrication, resting upon a metaphysical contrivance, it is fitting that philosophers and poets expose its centre as being nothing more than thoughtless and abstract words; that is, words that are void of the sediments of soul that good poets are attuned to access, or the conceptual sharpness that provides philosophical insight into our actions and the world.

The central feature of Milosz’s Captive Mind, written in 1951, when the young Kolakowski was still a believer in communism, is its depiction of poets and writers whose love of words and art eventually lead them all to betray their muse as they (for diverse reasons from their own ideological need to believe, and their self-induced blindness to economic and political opportunity to fear) succumb to mental captivity.

In Milosz’ own case, we are not dealing with a particularly political animal, even though the Captive Mind provides some valuable reflections upon how the ideology of communism and its “philosophy” of dialectical materialism kills the spirit. Milosz, though, was a man who could distinguish between what is truly venerable in poetry, and hence why commitment to it cannot be compromised by ideological fiat, and vacuous verbosity.

The cross roads that placed Milosz between the choices of following the power and opportunities that came from using his pen in the service of power or keeping true to the muse, was very similar to Kolakowski – who might have been an ideological hack had philosophy not remained his true love. And it was also his love of philosophy that enabled him to see the sheer untruth of the endeavour he was devoting his faith to.

Communism is a jealous God, and it is a philosophical God that requires total metaphysical possession of the mind (to be sure it is also a crippled philosophical God demanding crippled minds). Its claim to possess the scientific method, dialectical (historical) materialism, to enable its practitioners to identify the objective laws of history, and the larger historical meaning of the political and economic circumstances of the hour, is a big claim that reality rebukes at every opportunity.

Kolakowski had a keen metaphysical sense and that sense runs through his philosophical writings where the “big questions” remained his philosophical preoccupation until his death. Back in the 1950s, it was becoming clear to Kolakowski that dialectical materialism was a very small – and ultimately paltry – box of mental tricks when it came to dealing with the “big questions” that required really using the powers of the mind.

In some ways, communism was always about one’s mental powers, whether one really wanted to develop them, or whether one was happy to learn and apply a philosophical dogma and defend it at all costs. Marx would always resort to invective when anyone disagreed with him; and in that respect, he set the precedent of what one had to do – bully, threaten and silence one’s opponents – if one wanted to protect a set of doctrinal principles and commitments – the method of dialectical materialism – from philosophical critique.

Thus it was that Lenin, who had read very little philosophy, took time away from his revolutionary screeds and tactical writings to study Hegel’s Science of Logic (and just in case anyone might think he was not serious, it was not the shorter Logic of the Encyclopedia but the big thick one!) – the study remains clear for all and sundry to read thanks to his disciples preserving his notebooks as if they were holy writ.

The “study” is mostly transcription, and gloss with comments and marginal scribblings – all of which confirm that Lenin was completely clueless about what Hegel’s philosophy was. Thus like a deranged school master after all the screaming and dribbling (“Hegel conceals the weakness of idealism;” “ha-ha he’s afraid! Slander against materialism Why??”), he also found things in Hegel he could give big ticks to (“excellent!” “subtle and profound!” “a germ of historical materialism,” and such like).

Lenin already knew that history is made up of material forces which are dialectical, and that communism is the dialectical resolution of the class antagonisms of history. But serious Marxists believed that anyone who really wanted to enter into the inwards of the development of history had to read their Hegel. Albeit, by never forgetting that philosophy, as Marx had explained, consisted of two teams, idealists (those who thought the world came from their own heads) and materialists (the smart ones who knew there was a world outside of the head).

Thankfully, cholera had taken Hegel out before he had to read this nonsense, which was first aired by Marx’s pal, Ludwig Feuerbach, who failing to understand that when Hegel wrote a work on logic, he was writing (to be sure, it was a radical exposition and argument) on the process involved in how we think. Feuerbach, to great applause from Marx, criticized Hegel for not understanding that if he closed his eyes and wandered unawares into a tree, the bump would teach him the tree existed independently of his thought or knowledge about it. Pathetic, isn’t it?

Even Marx, as he got older, realized that really Hegel (he and Engels would refer to him affectionately in their correspondences as “the old boy”) was a much smarter dude than Feuerbach, who by then had taken his materialism to such dizzying heights as coming up with the formulation “one is what one eats” – in the German it looks cleverer – and thus becoming a forefather of today’s dietary obsessives.

Still, Marx thought that Hegel had grasped that history develops through antagonistic forces which give birth to an immanent resolution, which will ultimately enable man to reconcile himself with his essence as a cooperative labouring being. This was, to put it mildly, a cross between a trivial dilution and very silly application of Hegel’s rather profound, if ultimately unsustainable, account of how our thinking and knowledge (and hence the sciences) develop. So just as Marx and Engels had already told him, Vlad could now claim that Hegel, though a bourgeois, had been a real asset for the communists.

Lenin’s other great work of philosophical criticism was Materialism and Empirio-Criticism. It was, mainly, though not exclusively, a polemic against Ernst Mach and Richard Avenarius (two philosophers very little read today). One might well ask what on earth would a critique of two post-Kantians, trying to identify the role of cognitive operations within modern science. has to do with overthrowing the Tsar and sparking off a global revolution against capitalism? Good question. The answer is – to repeat – that Marxism was always a philosophy, and that Marxist philosophy considered any other explanation about how to think, and even what should be thought about, as an existential threat.

One of the many dangers of making a metaphysic dictate the direction of social, economic, political and cultural development is that it is a recipe for paranoia – having exaggerated what it can achieve, it then exaggerates the damage which other ideas, which do not fit into that metaphysics, may do.

This was all interestingly bought out in the book Encounters with Lenin by the Bolshevik apostate, Nicolai Valentinov (who also wrote under the name Nikolai Valentinov-Volski). He had the misfortune of telling Lenin in a conversation that he found Mach and Avenarius interesting – at which point Lenin went ballistic, frothing at the mouth and screaming about two authors, which Volski points out, he obviously had not even read. (It was only later that Lenin would sit down with their books and belatedly prove the point that even when he read their books, he failed to understand their point).

So, really being a Marxist or a Leninist boils down to a very simple and stupid thing – believing that Marx and Lenin are always right about the essential way the world is and how to fix it. The fascist decalogue simply stated “Mussolini is always right,” which made it explicit that anyone donning the black shirt should also take out his brain. Mussolini though, preferred his brainless followers to believe in the myth of the nation instead of the scientific truth of historical materialism – so at least Mussolini knew the difference between myth and science (even if he knew as little about the science of society as the Marxists did).

By insisting that their brand of socialism was scientific, Marxists were really saying that Marx had discovered a method for understanding human nature, history, society and political economy which was unassailable. So, Marx was always right. The same line of reasoning then led to the faith that Lenin was always right/Stalin was always right/Mao was always right, etc. Little wonder that the Bolsheviks so effortlessly followed the fascists in making a complete unity of their leader, their party and their people (at least the ones that did not need to be liquidated or re-educated in slave labour camps).

Of course, as the schisms got too big to hide – which is the inevitable consequence of a thinking that is both uncompromising and murderous – Marxists had to have a Reformation and work back to the beginning. Which was why the post-Stalinist, New Left, wave of Marxists also returned back to the “salon” and classroom, where Russian communism originated, i.e., among the class of intellectuals and university students – only this time, they did have a developed world to take over, and the task of institutional capture had been set out by Antonio Gramsci. But that is a whole other story.

This long excursion into Marxism-Leninism as a philosophy is really to highlight the question, how could any serious philosopher not see that this is a path to mental captivity? That a number of people, who were philosophically gifted, nevertheless capitulated, is akin to Milosz’ account of seriously gifted writers and poets becoming ideological hacks.

Kolakowski may have started going down the road to ideological hackdom. In spite of the broad sweep of the claim, one cannot help but detect a certain autobiographical note in the title as well as the opening sentence of his book from 1988, Metaphysical Horror” “A modern philosopher who has never experienced the feeling of being a charlatan is such a shallow mind that his work is probably not worth reading.”

In Metaphysical Horror Kolakowski presents the horror through the optic of a Spinozian spin of Cartesian skepticism: “If nothing truly exists except for the Absolute, the Absolute is nothing; if nothing truly exists but myself, I am nothing.” For my part, I cannot help but see this as a metaphysical extrapolation of a soul that in saving itself from the Absolute of Marxist Leninism, but asserting its own foundational certitude, is left wondering – if all of its world and its life’s meaning amounted to nothing.

Perhaps I am reading too much into this which is pitched in a manner commensurate with the timelessness of the metaphysical disposition. But as I have said, both communism and modernity are the creations of the metaphysical imagination. And having freed himself from the captivity of Marxism, Kolakowski dives into the metaphysical imagination, with its Absolute, with the kind of resolve that only a true disciple of philosophy as the search for the Absolute and the absoluteness of life’s meaning, could muster: “Once we know,” he offers in that same work, “that errors and illusions occur, questions about a reality which can never be an illusion, or truths about which no mistakes are possible, are unavoidable.”

But whereas Marx and all his progeny end up being what Eric Voegelin, the Austrian philosophical contemporary of Kolakowski and refugee from Nazism, identified as “gnosticism,” then the search for the Absolute may become, as it did for Kolakowski, a humbling affair in which one realizes that there is, again from Metaphysical Horror, “No access to an epistemological absolute, and …no privileged access to the absolute Being which might result in reliable theoretical knowledge.”

How to face up to this without absolutizing one’s own self, with all its aspiration to know, and accepting the ceaseless limits of its knowledge, is to avoid falling into the trap of nihilism. Sometimes it takes a man almost a life-time to lay out the aspect of his soul that leads him to turn off the path that seems secure and easy, but is ultimately a dead end. Kolakowski’s metaphysical writings strike me as the expression of an aspect of his soul – his character – that had to be released through exploring the most pressing conundrums that have been woven into our civilization, through the symbols of religion and the questions of philosophy.

In any case the philosopher in Kolakowski realized as a young man, with everything before him, that the stodgy metaphysical mush that passed for philosophy in communist Poland was connected to the grim reality of daily life that passed for socialism. Not being able to simply go along with the idiocy and lies any longer – a visit to Moscow in 1950 had already shown him what idiots were running the show – in 1956, he fired off a number of missives that contrasted socialist myths and reality. One, “The Death of Gods” (available in the collection of essays, Is God Happy?) seems to be the work of a writer torn between the idealism of his old self and the determination of the new self to be uncompromising about the truth:

“When at the ripe age of eighteen, we become communists, equipped with an unshakeable confidence in our own wisdom and a handful of experiences, undigested and less significant than we like to imagine, acquired in the Great Hell of war, we devote very little thought to the fact that we need communism in order to harmonize relations of production with the forces of production. It rarely occurs to us that the extremely advanced technological standards here and now, in Poland in 1945, require the immediate socialisation of the means of production if crises of overproduction are not to loom over us like storm clouds. In short, we are not good Marxists. For us, socialism, however we go about arguing for it in theoretical debates, is everything but the result of the operation of the law of value. Defended with clumsy arguments cobbled together from a cursory reading of Marx, Kautsky or Lenin, it is really just a
myth of a Better World, a vague nostalgia for human life, a rejection of the crimes and humiliations of which we have witnessed too many, a kingdom of equality and freedom, a message of great renewal, a reason for existence. We are brothers of the Paris communards, the workers during the Russian Revolution, the soldiers in the Spanish Civil War.
We thus have before us a goal that justifies everything….
We believed that socialist rule would naturally lead to the swift and total disappearance of national hostility, nationalist prejudice and tribal conflict. Instead we found that political activity which goes by the name of socialist can encourage and exploit the most absurd forms of chauvinism and blind nationalist megalomania. In culture these manifest themselves in the form of naive deceptions and infantile sophistry, but in politics, concealed behind a thin façade of traditional internationalist slogans, they assume the much more dangerous and sinister form of colonialism.”

Another from that same year was “What is Socialism?” which is basically a list depicting the totalitarian reality of life in a communist country, that is preceded by the sentence, “Here, then, is a list of what socialism is not,” and first on the list was “a society in which someone who has committed no crime sits at home waiting for the police.”

It is true that Kolakowski was not alone in speaking out against what socialism had become and he was swept up in a hopeful wave of defiance and bravery. And it is this importance of this bravery that cannot be underestimated when one considers how totalitarian regimes come undone: ideas are nothing in themselves, they are made by people and they make people. That is to say, bad and stupid ideas only take off and become instruments of annihilation, cruelty and stupidity because they appeal to and help make people who are ready to kill, be cruel, imprison others who aren’t as stupid as they are, that is people who will stop at nothing to get their way and who have no doubt about the rectitude of their view of the world and the solutions to its ailments.

All the pesky Poles mentioned in this essay would have had an easier and cushier life in Poland and the USA had they just gone along with the cruel and stupid ideological conformists and enforcers, who had and have all lost their minds, hearts and souls. Milosz could not have come up with a more prescient title than the Captive Mind if he had to depict what is happening today. But the shocking thing is how easily today our Western intellectuals and academics have entered into mental captivity.

In part, this is because they had already swallowed the poison of liberal freedom that both Legutko and Janowski address. And whereas they had done so in the tenured and most comfortable of circumstances, the writers, poets, philosophers whom Milosz depicts in the Captive Mind had lived through a time of extraordinary suffering. The poet Beta (a pseudonym for Tadeusz Borowski), for example, had been in Auschwitz, and witnessed and chose to survive by doing all that was required of him by his Nazi masters.

Perhaps souls like Borowski were simply harder to ensnare, and perhaps we in the West have been breeding monsters of ignorance who have now become ignorant monsters, and they are so sensitive they suffer like someone upon the rack if they but think of anyone who does not believe that the sum total of their knowledge (which could fit on a tiny packet of cards) for understanding and judging the past, present and future of the human race suffices for total emancipation.

For, let’s be real –ideologues typically enter into a state of apoplexy when someone challenges their diagnosis or remedies of a state of affairs which they designate as social injustice because they do not want anyone challenging their authority – the “injustice” is just a “trigger” (hence the need for trigger warnings) sending them into states of rage. This is not to deny the existence of social injustices; but today’s woke would not know how to identify, let alone fix, an injustice (for that would require thoughtfulness, and nuance) if it were ripping out their entrails.

When one reads Milosz, one is saddened by humans with characters and talents who were lost to communism, when one reads today’s woke journalists or academics or listens to the hysterical screaming of the kids demanding the world be what will make them feel safe (no police, for example, or no “whiteness”), the sadness is not in characters that have been lost, but in characters that have been malformed from the moment they could talk, and thus who have no notion of what it is to think.

The first wave of pesky Poles had often initially swallowed the poison of socialism. Milosz and Kolakowski had both had promising careers with the communist regime – Milosz was a cultural attaché in the United States and Paris, though falling foul of the party, he was able to find political asylum in France and then move to the United States. His Captive Mind was an early exposé of what communism did to the soul and it which quickly became a modern classic.

Kolakowski’s intellectual journey away from socialism was a far slower one – from believer to “revisionist,” during the so-called “Gomulka thaw,” when the Polish communist party itself was seeking for new ways to socialism, to disbeliever. As an exile, first in Montreal (where he taught at McGill) in 1968, Berkeley (University of California) in 1969, and then Oxford in 1970, he was free to philosophically engage in the two topics that seem to me (though I have not read his entire corpus) to be his major preoccupation: the metaphysical needs of the human spirit, and the disaster of Marxism as an “answer” to that need.

In the West he saw first-hand how the kinds of ideas that he had believed in in his youth were being recycled by the New Left. The irony was that Kolakowski himself had been something of an inspiration for the New Left. To them , and any others who were interested, Kolakowski would have to spell out what everyone (except a historically insignificant number of Trotsky supporters and the New Left) knew – Stalinism had Marxist roots a theme that would be developed at length in his magisterial three volume study Main Currents of Marxism (written between 1968 and 1976, and originally appearing in English in 1978).

Prior to that, in 1973, the English historian and anti-nuclear weapons activist, E. P. Thompson, had written an extremely long piece, “An Open Letter to Leszek Kolakowski,” for The Socialist Register. Thompson was a pioneer of the British New Left, and a founder of the Marxist journal, The New Reasoner which would morph into the New Left Review. He had achieved some fame with his book of 1963, The Making of the English Working Class. I bought the book, as an earnest young man, some forty years ago, and while, it contains serious history which indicates what Thompson could have been without the romanticism and Marxism, it is, nevertheless, about as riveting as a trade union meeting. (Thompson liked Blake – and I love Blake – but sadly Marx ruined his mind and nothing of Blake’s poetic brilliance seeped into his writing.) I quote from its opening paragraphs to give you an idea of the kind of Marxist casuistry, doggerel and dogma that cluttered his mind:

“This book has a clumsy title, but it is one which meets its purpose. Making, because it is a study in an active process, which owes as much to agency as to conditioning. The working class did not rise like the sun at an appointed time. It was present at its own making. Class, rather than classes, for reasons which it is one purpose of this book to examine. There is, of course, a difference. “Working classes” is a descriptive term, which evades as much as it defines. It ties loosely together a bundle of discrete phenomena. There were tailors here and weavers there, and together they make up the working classes. By class I understand an historical phenomenon, unifying a number of disparate and seemingly unconnected events, both in the raw material of experience and in consciousness. I emphasise that it is an historical phenomenon. I do not see class as a “structure”, nor even as a “category”, but as something which in fact happens (and can be shown to have happened) in human relationships.”

Hello! Are you still there?

In 1978, the bit about not seeing class as a structure would become the source of a theoretical dispute between him and the French structuralist Marxist Louis Althusser – he who strangled his, equally mentally disturbed, wife. Althusser even wrote a book about it, in which he revealed that his Mum was at the root all those problems in his life that capitalism was not to blame for – i.e. whatever part of his mind and soul Marx had not destroyed was finished off by Freud.

In any case, before Althusser was a garden variety philosophical wife-strangler (and funnily enough this domestic act did not irrevocably damage his brand with Marxist feminists), and an ex-asylum inmate roaming the Parisian streets in his pyjamas exclaiming, “I am the great Althusser,” he was the epitome of Parisian Marxist cool – close to the trés cool Derrida and Foucault – and hence a leading light for those wanting to lead the rest of us poor saps into a world free from the murderousness of private property.

The Althusser-Thompson dispute was a dreadfully tedious piece of rationalism, in which Thompson ostensibly defended Marxism as empiricism. To be fair, in the windbaggery department Althusser was a veritable Zeppelin in comparison to Thompson’s mere hot air balloon, and, to change metaphors, in the great Marxist “bake-off,” it was a rather drab English mince-pie, albeit garnished with some slices of wit, versus a delicate Parisian soufflé – light, with an airy texture that requires years and years of dedication to understanding how to generate enough hot air by merely blowing long and hard enough into one’s selected chosen ingredients – a little Marx, tossed with a dollop of Lenin, and throw in a pinch of Spinoza: voilà who would need to know anything more.

Long before this and even before the Open Letter, Kolakowski, who I suspect was more given to blintz than soufflé, did a review of Althusser in the 1971 issue of The Socialist Register. It concluded that Althusser amounted to “empty verbosity which … can be reduced either to common sense trivialities in new verbal disguise.” I mention this just to give those readers who were not there a picture of what was passing for serious thought among Marxist intellectuals when Kolakowski was teaching at Oxford, and around the time Thompson’s “Open Letter” was published.

The major purpose of the hundred-page Letter was to express Thompson’s personal “sense of injury and betrayal” that Kolakowski had left the team. In the typical self-congratulatory moral tones that have become the hallmark of the post-Stalinist left, Thompson instructed Kolakowski that he did not affirm his allegiance to the Communist Party (though he never realized that he did not need to do so to be their stooge in the nuclear disarmament campaign) – he was committed to the “Communist movement in its humanist potential.”

Even such a rhetorical gem – in an attempt to ingratiate himself with Kolakowski – as “Communism was a complex noun which included Leszek Kolakowski” could not conceal the fact that Thompson, for all his reading and historical digging, was a know-all and hence, in spite of all his learnedness, was another Western useful idiot. Thus, the irony in the title of Kolakowski’s “rejoinder” to Thompson: My Correct Views on Everything. For what is obvious to anyone who reads My Correct Views is that Thompson, whose Open Letter the Marxist critic Raymond Williams himself (most tellingly) calls “one of the best Leftist pieces of Leftist writing in the last decade” (one can only imagine how bad the others were) is an “embarras de richesses” of clichés and abstract vacuities, expressing a depth of moral self-delusion that enables Thompson to glide over the true suffering of people living in a system that politically ensures a society without private property. Thus, he is able to write with a great sweep of his quill that “to a historian, fifty years is too short a time to judge a new social system.” Kolakowski, as one might expect, does not let this pass. But the real strength of Kolakowski’s rejoinder is in his own admission of modesty:

“I share without restrictions your (and Marx’s, and Shakespeare’s, and many others’) analysis to the effect that it is very deplorable that people’s minds are occupied with the endless pursuit of money, that needs have a magic power of infinite growth and that the profit motive, not use value, rules production. Your superiority consists in that you know exactly how to get rid of all this and I do not.”

Near the conclusion of the rejoinder, Kolakowski takes up this theme of the complexity of the problem when he writes:

“This does not mean that socialism is a dead option. I do not think it is. But I do think that this option was destroyed not only by the experience of socialist states, but because of the self-confidence of its adherents, by their inability to face both the limits of our efforts to change society and the incompatibility of the demands and values which made up their creed. In short, that the meaning of this option has to be revised entirely, from the very roots.”

As excellent as Kolakowski’s three volume analysis of Marxism was, not least for addressing the spiritual longing that reside within its materialist heart – thus for Kolakowski, understanding Marxism requires thinking about Plotinus, Meister Eckart, Jacob Böhme, and Nicholas Cusa as well as the usual philosophical suspects of German idealism and the young Hegelians – it did not halt the Gramscian inflexion that had taken hold of British Marxism. That was mainly thanks to the New Left Review which had been translating Gramsci and hence introducing him to British intellectuals. Though by then Thompson had fallen foul of the far slicker and more theoretically savvy Perry Anderson and his faction within the New Left Review.

Also, sadly for the battle that Kolakowski was fighting, Althusser was but one of the Parisians who were to 1968 what the young Hegelians had been to 1844-48. A slew of “radical chicsters” were sexing up a philosophical, literary and sociological potpourri of Marx peppered with dollops of de Sade, and Nietzsche and sprigs of Heidegger – they were attacking totalizing narratives, and embracing the emancipatory potential of the marginals (Foucault extended his emancipatory largess from prisoners to paedophiles), who were deployed in the grand game of leading us to emancipation.

So. while Kolakowski was providing a lengthy and perceptive analysis of how the gulag gruel of communism came to be, the game plan had changed and the New Left were in the process of dropping the workers for any other group that could be construed as a minority. Old style British Marxists naturally enough were not so hot about all this – after all they (at least the serious ones) had wracked their brains over the three volumes of Capital, the Grundrisse, and the six volumes of Theories of Surplus Value – and they fought a losing battle against the French post-structuralists over who would be the hegemons of the university and the new society at large.

The theoretical disputes mattered as little in the late 1960s and 1970s as the disputes within and between Bolsheviks, Mensheviks and Socialist Revolutionaries had mattered prior to the breakup of the Russian empire – what mattered was that a generation of educated young people with all their radical certitudes (in all their diversity) about power, oppression, capitalism, Eurocentrism and the panoply of social injustices and victims they would rescue were catapulted into positions of pedagogical authority by a society wishing to reproduce itself through educating its professionals. The Soviets knew exactly what was going on – for it was a replay of the process that had, albeit with the catalyst of the Great War, led to the demise of the Tzar, and were able to fuel the youthful arrogance of the class they could count onto hand them a (too belated) victory.

Kolakowski, though, could do nothing to stop this, any more than he could have stopped a flood with an umbrella – he was not only of the wrong generation, but on the wrong side of historical experience. He was the past and a man of considerable experience about the nature of communism. But it was the generation who saw themselves as being of the future who were indeed making the future– and their sense of experience was generally (with the exception of the casualties of the Vietnam war in the US and Australasia) one of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll and educational and job opportunities.

Even when the economic impediments of the 1970s kicked in, the model of mass education for social reproduction had been set, and then it was just a matter of time before the curriculum had been so politicized that the universities would become what they are now – managerially administered industrial sites for the making of a compliant globalist workforce shorn of the old bulwarks of sociality from the family, to the church, to the nation, and refabricated on the basis of race, gender and sexual preference.

Apart from Kolakowski, Milosz and Wat, trying to get Westerners to see the how, what and why of totalitarianism, the Polish historian Andrezj Walicki, especially his writings A History of Russian Thought from the Enlightenment to Marxism (1979), and Marxism and the Leap to the Kingdom of Freedom: The Rise and Fall of Communism (1995) provided an in-depth critique not only of Marxism, and its development but of the various ideological dreamings that helped turn Russia and its Soviet empire and satellites into a world that reflected back what designs of perfection actually deliver.

More to the point, the class of intellectuals in the West who might have benefitted from historical knowledge about the intellectual product of communism were not that interested in such writers or their diagnosis. Sadly, then, there was no contest, for the young professors and students, between Derrida/ Foucault versus Walicki /or Kolakowski –the former were superstars (and they were clever in the same way that a kid that can count to a hundred in Latin, balancing a stick on the end of his nose while juggling bunny rabbits for a while is clever), while the latter really knew they were talking about, especially when it came to how ideas of absolute liberty, and equality and the end of oppression would turn out.

But the professors and their students were interested in identifying all the things they were sure they could fix, not with learning about how little they actually knew. Ambition, arrogance, rhetoric, formulae, facileness, slogans – indeed the exact same ingredients of self-making that had been the brew and bake of the old left, was the brew and bake of the new left. Men like Kolakowski, Walicki, Milosz, Wat were voices for such old virtues as humility in the face of historical complexity and the need to accept the limits of human achievement and the inevitability of error, weakness and ignorance.

Around much the same time, as Kolakowski was starting his life in the West, another Polish writer and refugee from communism, Leopold Tyrmand, who had written a modern anti-totalitarian classic setting down the routines of communist daily life, The Rosa Luxemburg Contraceptives Cooperative: A Primer on Communist Civilization (1972), also (Notebooks of a Dilettante [1970]) reported that at a dinner party in America “a distinguished Negro writer” asked him what percentage of the population would vote anti-Communist if there were free elections in an Eastern European country.

When Tyrmand responded that, if the elections were really free and all positions could be presented, and if there were no fear of persecution, then it would be about 85 percent, the writer responded, “I don’t believe it”- a little later exclaiming more heatedly, when Tyrmand tried to explain how things worked in Poland: “It’s impossible! It’s against any logic!” And that really is the point: people who have no knowledge about something are convinced they do, provided they think it is the kind of thing they think is of political importance.

This is what ideology and education do. This is what the captive mind is. But in Milosz’ work of that title, minds were generally captured by circumstances harrowing, fearful and brutal enough to draw out a certain weakness of the soul. But today in the West it is liberty itself that has exposed the weaknesses of soul that now presides over the political and social institutions of the West. And whilst there are some fine diagnosticians of the current and very likely fatal pathology of the West, two Polish authors, Ryzsard Legutko, and Zbigniew Janowski have written works that take us into the heart of the matter.

3. Exposing The Dialectic of Totalitarian Freedom

When Hannah Arendt wrote what would become a class of political science, The Origins of Totalitarianism, liberal democracy was considered to be a form of government in which the state had clear identifiable limits. This distinction between a state that had limitations and freedom was not just a theoretical one – people wanting to escape from the control of the state and a particular ideology had, if they could manage to get there; somewhere to escape to.

Thus, it was that a number people, including the Polish intellectuals mentioned above, who could not stand the lack of freedom, the brutality, the ideological imbecility, the incessant brainwashing and ludicrous lies of communism fled to the West. It was much the same for people escaping from Nazi Germany – though the poor bastard communists who escaped from Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union were frequently caught up in the anti-foreign campaign of the great purge and all too often found themselves in gulags or simply before a firing squad. One of the distinctive insights of Arendt’s book was her argument that the French Declaration of the Rights of Man did not serve as a means to prevent the rise of forces that would lead to totalitarianism, but rather exposed groups of people who lay outside the protection of the nation and thereby found themselves as victims of persecution within the nation.

This insight of Arendt’s is a good example of how an idea, or principle may develop into its opposite. And although Marxists generally loved to talk of dialectics, anyone who really thought dialectically could see that Marxism was a power for the extinction of all classes and ideological enemies that were perceived as obstacles to those who lived off the narrative that they enforced on others. That is, it was simply a will to power of a bunch of people who thought they knew how to rule their world to get what they wanted – which they think everybody wants – no private property, and no religion etc. for example.

One might say that the reason for this is that the dialectic that transpired was between the willfulness of a group wanting their world to be a certain way and the stubbornness of the world (i.e. lots of other people) to resist that way. The problem has to do with ideology itself. For reality (including real human beings) refuses to simply yield to abstractions that only exist due to not taking into account those parts of reality that the subject or knower simply has no inkling of or care for. Communism was just one example of that failure. Fascism was another. And liberalism is yet another.

Liberalism, though, has been somewhat slower in revealing its totalitarian essence (though some – to take three very different kinds of people – like de Maistre, Tocqueville, and Newman clearly saw its weaknesses), and, unlike Fascism and Communism, its shortcoming did not require death or labour camps. But the time of revelation is now upon us. Would that it were not the case – would that liberty could prevail over all else. But it cannot, for liberty is a concept of some complexity, and even then, it is, at best, only an aspect of a life, and when we seek to make any aspect of life the essence or condition of life – we mess up.

Ryszard Legutko’s The Demon in Democracy, and The Cunning of Freedom: Saving the Self in an Age of False Idols, and Zbiegniew Janowski’s Homo Americanus: The Rise of Totalitarian Democracy in America examine the mess.

Part of the mess simply comes from ideology itself – the desire to simplify the complexities of the real to conform to a narrative, pattern of policy and legislation and the institutions of social reproduction which will solve our most pressing problems. The problems of political obligation, of who has the right to decree what must be done to whom, and who must be followed in order keep the peace between members of the social body, are perennial.

Problems between “groups” and within them have led to a relatively limited number of solutions – this is because the problems are very similar as are the means for solving them: someone or few must make decisions that the community must comply with, there must be some way of passing on succession etc. In this respect all “political” organization is inevitably hierarchical and elite-based–obviously how the elite is selected and what is expected of them varies significantly.

Historically, that elite had evolved out of the power they displayed – usually this display was exhibited on the battlefield, though power to engage the gods was always another aspect involved in the power formation and distribution of the society. Monarchy and aristocracy are generally and essentially derived from military victory, and the power of the monarch is also derived from capacity to command the requisite alliances that sustain the peace between potential contesting powers.

Although Plato and Aristotle had envisaged a kind of political order based upon the best ideas and insights that could organize a society – until modern times this was merely a philosophical pipedream. But modernity itself, in its technological and administrative and economic and political innovations is inseparable from the emergence of a new elite, whose bread-and-butter was (as the philosopher John Locke called it) “the way of ideas.”

As the number of people appealing to and living off ideas spread the entire way of understanding political authority changed. Modern social contract theory was one symptom of the change – for each of the contract theorists envisaged a rational reconstruction of the origins of social and political development. More important than the fact that a handful of philosophers were writing about the rational foundations of society and political authority was the fact that a public who were interested in discussing ideas generally, and, more specifically, how a society should be organized was developing.

The tensions between the Americans and the British crown provided the opportunity for a relatively small group of educated men to draft a new political order in a world relatively unencumbered by past vestiges of authority, that would in turn inspire a class in a part of the old world able to find its moment in the ruins of a financial and social breakdown that it had helped on its way. For good and bad, France, albeit initially for only a relatively brief time, had provided the old world with a new way of doing and speaking about political authority.

For all the chaos of the French revolution, and the geopolitical consequences that it triggered, politics and ideology became increasingly entangled. The history of the very word ideology comes from one of the revolution’s great survivors, a philosopher and political economist, Destutt de Tracy. That is, politics became not only something that concerned people interested in ideas, it itself became equivalent to a practice which primarily required getting the right ideas to fit a world which would conform to the ideas that its educated elite had about it. There were ideological differences between different thinkers and members of the public, but thinking of politics as a political matter was becoming increasingly commonplace, so that political choices were invariably ideological choices.

This is the background against which Legutko’s book needs to be read. For the young students and staff who tried to prevent him talking at Middlebury are so sadly ignorant of where they fit within the larger forces that have bred them that they simply dismiss him as a conservative -i.e., they reduce him to an ideology – whilst seeing themselves as the guardians of freedom and justice and human decency.

The operative word though is that they are guardians, and they guard what they think, which is all too little to do justice to the scale of the problems we can divide between the perennial and the peculiarly modern. Were they aware of that, the first idea they would have to dispense with, apart from their own faith in their knowledge, is that the kinds of problems that all people including modern people inherit and generate do not all have a neat – if indeed any – solution.

The idea that there is a political pattern with a happy ending, a pattern that politically eliminates the tragic features of life is completely crazy – and even non-religious people, who are thoughtful, should be able to appreciate that one benefit of believing in the after-life is that we do not become burdened by things we cannot achieve – nor completely delusional about our capacities to do what only a God would have the power to do such as see how all things fit together. (Which is why of all the metaphysicians, I have always had a soft spot for Leibniz).

Not surprisingly, people who think they know how things all fit, and hence how to politically solve our problems tend to be very similar – irrespective of their particular ideological convictions. One is reminded of the French fascist author Drieu de la Rochelle agonizing about which team to choose as there was so little real difference between them.

In terms of his reputation, he chose the wrong one, his friend Malraux the acceptable one – but both chose murderous regimes. In terms of the character of the people who are drawn to become ideologically and politically involved Legutko observes of the transition in Poland from communism to liberal democracy how swiftly “former members of the Communist party adapted themselves perfectly to liberal democracy, its mechanisms, and the entire ideological interpretation that accompanied these mechanisms. Soon they even joined the ranks of the guardians of the new orthodoxy.” This is because they were first and foremost guardians, and in this respect no different from the Western politician who immediately adapts the ideological ideas to political realities that he must confront.

While guardians can quickly switch ideologies, today they are programmed to think ideologically. And, for me, the power of Legutko’s analysis lies in his recognition of the depth of the problem of ideology itself. For while during the Second World War, or the Cold War liberal democracy looked – and indeed was – so much better than the alternatives, the fact remains that it rests upon abstractions such as freedom and equality which, if taken as things in themselves, are not only socially damaging, but which also contribute to the elimination not only of actual freedoms, but of aspects of sociality which are intrinsic to humans convivially cooperating and bonding across time. Thus, the kind of love a parent has for its child, or that exists between husband and wife, and even between friends simply cannot be fathomed if we think exclusively in terms of qualities like freedom and/ or equality. Living relationships are intrinsically and necessarily sacrificial.

The broken families that litter the liberal democratic world, are testimony to the triumph of liberty in the formation of relationships, but they are also symptomatic of the problems that befall a society in which the sacrificial is ousted by a mélange of pleasure, comfort and abstraction. Where the problem of broken families makes itself most conspicuous is where the material resources which, though no surrogate for love, enable other forms of communal engagement are lacking – that is among the poorest sections of the society.

Being from privileged backgrounds or at least being able to access resources which gave them opportunities that those dwelling in ghettoes do not have, the Middlebury brats threatening to silence Legutko were particularly outraged by his diagnosis of the damage done by the sexual revolution, warnings against marriage break-down and abortion. For the ideologue such warnings must be ideologically dismissed because they are conservative.

But the truth, of Legutko’s warning, is palpable amongst the American blacks, that is amongst the class which these imbecilic brats claim to somehow speak for and represent, along with single mothers from the white underclass whose domestic life is so frequently one of violence at the hands of men who move in with them when it is convenient to do so, and out as soon as a better opportunity arises. (More’s the pity that most students who study the social sciences and humanities would have no idea of the writings of Theodor Dalrymple aka Anthony Daniels).

It is sheer thoughtlessness that could lead one to think that freedom is a panacea for solving the kinds of problems that can only be dealt with by foregoing freedom, by accepting sacrifice – and the sacrifice that is paid for by single mothers, abandoned by the children’s fathers confirms the dialectical entanglement in which freedom frequently generates its opposite.

Thus, it is that Legutko, and this is also true of Janowski, which has also led him to track down J.S. Mill’s complicity in this madness, warns his readers that the breakup of the world into the seekers and enemies of freedom is ridiculous.

As indicated by the subtitle of the Freedom book Legutko recognizes that liberal democracy’s promise of salvation is idolatrous. It is not that liberty does not have its place amongst those aspects of the human spirit that give meaning and value in a life or to a collective, but an aspect is not a god. The endless search for the realization of liberty ultimately becomes a tearing down of the social and personal dwellings of the spirit that give it a purposeful sense of place.

The cloud of the abstract replaces the solidity of real relationships, with their compromises and imperfections, and the regular routine duties which are the condition of their nourishment. Liberty today has become indistinguishable from the short-lived thrill of a sexual encounter – “the sexual revolution,” says Legutko, “is arguably the most extreme manifestation of the episodic nature of man.” That something as ephemeral as the sex act can become the basis of an identity to be used as a foundation for the structuring of society – thus requiring an endless array of writings and university courses about its importance – is indicative of a people infantilizing, and pleasuring its way into hell.

Progressives think that their virtue will not only spare them this fate, but will contribute to them creating very heaven. But these are people whose “virtue” has no benign existential bearing, nor even basic moral bearing in so far as they are members of a class whose power is predicated upon the narrative they learn, conform to, preach, and protect at all cost.

Hence, diversity, identity, equity and such like are the institutional paper currency of the will to power of a poorly educated, highly ambitious, envious, and endlessly egocentric elite who base everything upon identity and representation because they are so devoid of any real self. Their freedom is their emptiness – and their creation, as Legutko, names one chapter in his Freedom book, is “the wretched world of absolute freedom.” Such freedom is what Isaiah Berlin had defended as “negative freedom” in “Two Concepts of Liberty.” And when communism was offering something that was positively revolting, negative freedom looked like it had much going for it. Thus, Berlin’s essay, which Legutko had once considered to be inspirational, now appears to Legutko, merely a “collection of platitudes and falsehoods.”

For Legutko, far from being an ideal that was self-explanatory and invaluable, freedom has proven to be a philosophical problem – and in the West it has “got into the hands and minds of dogmatists who turned it first into a rigid, ultimately fruitless formula, and then into an ideological tool to promote a liberal model of society that I found increasingly dubious.”

The problem that has been revealed to anyone with eyes to see is the problem that “once one particular group’s freedom is confused with the legal framework of freedom, then the language of freedom is likely to become mendacious” – and that is exactly what has happened over the last two generations or so in the Western world. In an essay in the first volume of Janoswki’s collected edition of writings by J.S. Mill, Legutko had pointed out how the harm principle simply becomes the means for a group wanting to entrench practices previously considered socially undesirable making the mores, that had been intrinsic to social development, a pariah position – as has happened now with the dismantling of the traditional family and its roles.

The great myth of liberalism is that everyone’s freedom can be maximized – so as Legutko puts it – it is a society that would resemble “a department store in which everything is offered, everyone can find what they want, no one feels undeserved, one can change one’s preferences, and even the most selective desires can be satisfied.”

Peoples that were once enemies now get along swimmingly well because all get what they want – hey you can get the burka, and I can get the bikini briefs that best display my twerk – provided, of course, the submit to the rules, which require a severe surgical reconstruction of what one actually wants. This is the squared circle of a society, one in which two fundamentally incompatible loyalties – loyalty to one’s own community, and loyalty to an infinitely open system – are falsely seen as both desirable and achievable.

I used the word myth above, but the myth is really little more than a lie. And the chaos of the Western world is in large part the result of the exposure of the lie as lie, which has brought out the savage and tyrannical reaction of the “de facto rulers, educators, ideologues, guardians, and censors for all members of the society.” That chaos has been facilitated, in no small part, by the elevation of such abstractions as “human rights” which simply enable the proliferation of claimants for conditions which someone has to supply, and recognition for qualities and behaviour which someone has to give, which only fuel the expansion of a class who control not only actions, but words, and thoughts right down to which pronouns are permissible.

Against the modern doctrinal approach to freedom that has been enwrapped in a dialectic of tyranny, Legutko, drawing upon Aristotle and Plato, defends a more nuanced and classically developed notion of freedom that moves from the unlimited and unconstrained idea of freedom of a self with its vacuous sense of dignity and hedonistic drives to an understanding of the self as requiring an inner strength that results from cultivating the virtues and hence taking on the sacrifices that are the precondition of those virtues.

In Plato and Aristotle freedom as such was never a virtue, rather it is a quality of the self that is an out-growth of the development of the virtues. Readers familiar with Aristotle will recall his famous distinction between those who are slaves by nature and those who may through circumstances fall into slavery, which is suggestive of freedom being as much a disposition and not simply a legal or political one.

In this sense the classical position offers a stark reminder of how mistaken modern philosophy has been in taking abstract political goals and abstract characteristics as sufficient in themselves, whilst failing to take into account the cultivation of the self through service and obligation. Legutko reflects upon the positive freedom to be found in such lives as the philosopher, the entrepreneur, the artist and “aristocrat,” whilst drawing his reader’s attention to how each type easily becomes distorted in its modern formation because the modern self is based upon an original fundamental failure to understand not only the soul and its needs, but how the failure to cultivate its development results in the kind of mess we inhabit.

It is the lack of cultivation of free inner selves that Legutko identifies as what has been lost in the obsession with emancipation that has only emptiness as its goal. Near the conclusion of the Cunning of Freedom Legutko observes – “Living is a constant process of making sense of what’s finite in the light of what’s infinite, and of what’s contingent in the light of what’s absolute.”

The West’s tragedy is, in part at least, the ruin that comes from a failure not only to understand the laws of the spirit, but from the ideological spread of a way of thinking and being, in which those laws are buried under the weight of the finite’s own self obsession and delusions about its infinitude.

What we now have is a great mass of deluded selves constituting a pyramid presided over by the emptiest and most deluded, by the people who claim to know the All that needs to be known (the infinite as such), but who in fact know next to nothing about themselves or the world.

One only has to think of the fact that the academic study of literature in the most prestigious universities in the world does not teach how to better fathom human lives, souls, and characters, with their respective trials, circumstances, fatalities, triumphs and defeats, virtues and flaws, but to read texts as ciphers of power relations constituted by identity types. Professors and students endlessly repeat Althusser’s view of the social world as consisting of subject-less structural “bearers” in the grim and endless identity struggles for “emancipation.”

While the word emancipation is a void, defined by nothing more than the absence of oppression, we may glean some meaning of the word from the common French post-structuralist alignment of Sade (with his gargantuan mechanics of death for the pleasure of the killers), Nietzsche (with his fantasy of higher men and supermen who are beyond good and evil and are the creators of value), and Marx (with his view of unalienated life being bound up with our labouring cooperative essence).

As a vision statement it looks (in the immortal words of Johnny Rotten) ‘”Pretty Vacant,” but that is the point. For what we are witnessing now is a carbon copy of Russian’s nineteenth century with its alliance of intelligentsia and students: the complete preoccupation with emancipation and the dehumanization of any who impede their “emancipation.”

Thus, the meaning of life is read exclusively in terms of unequal power relations, and the dyadic norms that they see as all important – oppressor/ oppressed, privilege/ equity, inclusiveness/ exclusiveness, whiteness/ non-whiteness, diversity/ lack of diversity, rich/ poor, cisgender/sexual fluidity. In what became the Soviet Union, once the politicized Russian intelligentsia successfully broke down and then took control of all social and political institutions, they moved from having dehumanized their enemy (those on the wrong side of the normative dyad) into a phase of extermination.

It is the first phase of the totalitarian reality of the United States today that is the subject of Janowski’s Homo Americanus, a searing indictment of how every-day and valuable freedoms in the United States – especially the freedom to “openly or publicly” express “opinions which are not in conformity” with “what the majority considers acceptable at the moment” have become suffocated by a surfeit of democratic intrusions, into “virtually all aspects of man’s existence.”

Though it is not so much the opinions which the majority hold, but the opinions which the majority of the elite hold that are the problem. This is one of two instances where I think Janowski mistakes the sentiments and ideas that circulate amongst the ideas brokers in the US with the majority of the population.

The other is in the opening sentence, “Only few Americans seem to understand that we, here in the United States, are living in a totalitarian reality, or one that is quickly approaching it” strikes a note of warning. But given that now almost half the country believe that their president was not elected, were Janowski’s book more widely publicized I think it would have a huge audience. These are trivial matters in a book that I think is as relevant to today as Bloom’s Closing of the American Mind was a generation ago – though I think Janowski’s diagnosis is far sharper, and not given to the kind of (Straussian) idiosyncrasies that make Bloom’s version of history look like a library shelf.

Perhaps the sentence that best sums up Janowski’s “thesis” is: “The anti- communist opposition, just like Western political scientists, did not understand that 1989 was not a moment of liberation, but the moment when one collectivist ideology (communism) was replaced by another collectivist ideology (democracy).” I think this is a brilliant insight into the historically complex and dialectical entanglements which may help us identify the vast expansion of democracy beyond “its electoral confines” so that today “Equality is our New Faith.”

Although it is indicative of the high speed of acceleration occurring right now, as this elite program steam rolls over all resistance, that the word equality is viewed with less favour than it was even last year, when Janowski was still writing the book: for now, the New Word/Faith is Equity. Though, Homo Americanus is not so much an argument for this claim as a testimony of it. And for all the many authors Janowski engages with to depict the tragedy he is witnessing, the writing reminded me of none so much as Joseph Roth who chronicled the rising historically unstoppable evil of Nazism. St. Augustine’s Press are to be congratulated for publishing a book that is so urgently needed and yet so out of step with the pre-occupations and obsessions of mainstream academia today.

Nevertheless, the fact that it is a small independent (albeit quality) publisher that has taken on Homo Americanus rather than a major academic or commercial publisher is indicative of the times. For it would never have got through the gatekeeping staff within the major presses, who simply cannot get enough books on sexual or (non-white) racial identity, oppression, and emancipation. Mainstream publishing today is generally committed to ensuring that the USA follow its elite headlong into oblivion.

And it is doing so apace. For in less than a decade it has gone from the world’s leading democracy and global superpower, attempting to preserve free societies from their totalitarian enemies (sure they would, when forced to choose, support their dictators), into a country (is it, in any meaningful sense, a nation?) in which ideological imbeciles are not only elected but set the social and political agenda for the next two or three generations.

It is now a society of what Janowski calls “communist liberalism,” a society in which the media can brazenly close down stories which do not suit its political objectives (does anyone remember Hunter?), whilst manufacturing ones that do (I note that Russia-gate was just given a reboot the day I was writing this sentence by The Guardian). It has gone from being a society in which freedom of speech was widely valued as unnegotiable into being interpreted as a means of ensconcing white privilege.

It is a society which once schooled the finest minds of the Western world to encourage considered deliberation about the problems that must be confronted for the survival and betterment of a democratic society, a society which once protected (even if did not adequately value) independence of thought. It is a society that once could benefit from its social and political tensions by opening up new pathways of conviviality and community building.

Now it is a society in which every disagreement is but an occasion for expanding the endemic of the inimical, a society in which families and friends can no longer agree to disagree, where someone cannot be allowed to say what he thinks he sees – nor even deviate from the formulae of articulation that has elite consensual approval.

It is a society that regards those, like Janowski and Legutko, who warn about the perilous condition of the USA, as pariahs and enemies – terms such as “right wing” or “conspiracy theorist” now are loosely thrown about to dehumanize and delegitimize anyone who is not on board with whatever the consensus of the moment is.

It is a society in which freedom of speech is not even allowed in schools, or universities or upon the technological platforms which have become the most important source of public assembly in the twenty-first century – and which have rapidly become sources of surveillance and snitching upon those deemed politically undesirable.

Janowski’s diagnosis is a tour de force of the shrunken and sick soul that the United States has been cultivating for decades. Although Janowski was not merely a traveller to the US, the book has much in common with Tocqueville’s Democracy in America – a work Janowski draws upon frequently in Homo Americanus -, for it provides an optic of the outsider that can see the strangeness of things Americans take for granted as being what every sensible person thinks or does. In 1835 – the year that the first volume of Democracy in America appeared – Tocqueville expressed his admiration of the American experiment while also expressing warnings and criticisms of the dangers it posed for the individual and the collective.

Having become such an economic and military power, even in the relatively recent past it may have been easy to consider Tocqueville’s fear unwarranted – they weren’t. But what Tocqueville saw as ailments that were still in their incipient phase, are now totally debilitating derangements of the soul and collective. Take, for example, the following observation of Janowski that America is:

“a place where everyone is afraid of something or someone: the gays are driven by fear of straight people; the transgendered boys and girls by fear of rejection from natural boys and girls; blacks by fear of whites, whites by fear of blacks, women by fear of men, Americans by fear of foreigners, illegal immigrants by fear of Americans and the American Justice system, liberals by fear of “white supremacists,” and so on. The list seems to be endless. And their fears are presented by the activists as socio-economic and political programs.”


“We hear on a daily basis the expression “war on […],”as in the “war on terror,” “war on drugs,” “war on cancer,” “war on obesity,” “war on smoking,” “war on fats,” and so on. Another term, belonging to the same militaristic family, is “survivor,” as in “cancer survivor,” “abuse survivor,” “date rape survivor,” “assault survivor,” and so on. Signs with the word “zone,” such as “Hate-speech free zone,” “Smoke-free zone,” “Drug-free zone,” “Alcoholfree zone,” “Stress-free zone,” and “guns-free zone,” make the world appear to be a mine-field, with places that are safe and those that are not, and in order to survive in it, one has to be truly vigilant. …Universities offer phone apps so that potential victims can press a button and be saved from danger. Being constantly bombarded by the words “war,” “zone,” “safe spaces,” “trigger warnings,” and “survivor” must have a psychological effect, as it likely creates a sense of threat even though it is rare that these threats are real.”

Thus, as Janowski also rightly observes: “Politics is not seen as a way of resolving conflicting interests, in which some groups win and others lose, or abandon some of their high-minded aspirations and lower their sails, moving onto problems which people with expertise can solve. The political realm looks like a spider-web created by loud fearmongers in which the rest of us are expected to entangle ourselves.”

As I have said repeatedly, this can only be gold for the geopolitical enemies of the USA is something so obvious yet so obviously ungraspable for the US elite and leaders of its intelligence agencies and military that one cannot help but feel the curtain has already come down – because there is no spirit of a nation left worth protecting.

At one point, Janowski notes of Homo Americanus – his “goal in life is to meet the demands of a purely rational social organization, devoid of eccentricity, individuality, spontaneity, and thereby life” – which is true, but what constitutes rationality in this world is one in which reason has completely been engulfed by feelings, and feelings by phobias, and phobias generated by a self whose real historical substance has been drained by an abstract and empty axiomatic ideal of equality/equity. Homo Americanus is:

“culturally impoverished, and his knowledge of other cultures is limited to occasional visits to ethnic restaurants. Any attempt to make him rooted in national tradition—through education, habits, and social mores—is seen as an onslaught on his thin identity. He even invented his own language of defense against becoming educated, that is, against the acquisition of a thick cultural identity. It is the language of “safe-spaces” and “trigger warnings.” It alarms him that there are others who claim strong cultural identity, that there are works of literature, philosophy, and art which were written from a specific perspective. Because he is not outer-directed, or is too afraid of facing the challenge of being in a world that he did not create, he builds his identity on the only thing he has— namely, his biology or sexuality, with which he experiments and which he believes can sustain him psychologically and culturally.8 His so-called culture is not part of long history of human experience that stretches to the ancient Greeks, Romans, Hebrews, Medievals, and others; it is a fragmented and arbitrary concoction of names and attitudes taken from different time periods and cultures. But even here, we encounter a new problem. His history is often simply made up—fictitious and of mythological rather than historical nature. It is easy to see that such a concept of identity has no continuous cultural history, and as such it must be hostile to any and every culture rich in records.”

That the malnourished selves are on a such a zombie-like rampage seeking to fill their lives with meaning should be no surprise. For people will do literally anything, believe anything to fill the void of meaning in their lives. All healthy cultures transmit spiritual meaning between generations.

In the US, though, where the traditional sites of spiritual transmission – the family and religion – are construed by its elite as oppressive, and where the young who go to college are inducted into a value system requiring abeyance to abstract moral ideals which ostensibly provide the key to social perfection, complete faith in their ability to fix all the wrongs of a hateful world, total shame, if white, in their traditions (which, curiously, is now commonly considered a racial phenomenon – if the US college is anything to go by, the Nazis seem to have won the day on that stupid idea).

These idols of self, “reason,” and morality are idols of death – which is why so many zombified college youth felt so alive last summer when they got to hang out with the black underclass and pillaged, looted, screamed and watched things burn so that they could at least feel – alive.

A famished spirit is as indiscriminate as a famished stomach. The feeling of least resistance is always pleasure. And hence if sex can be unmoored from the more traditional strictures as occurred in the 1960s then the starving spirit may find momentarily relief from its anomie, alienation and despair (at one point Janoswki notes that the US has the highest depression rate in the world).

Sex might be a quick release, but it also has other consequences from new life to disease and death, from joy to guilt, regret and jealousy to mental break-down and suicide, from a wedding to the break-up of families, a sexual act can topple a government and bring a kingdom to its ruin, – all of which are why traditional societies – even those like the Greeks and Romans (check out the harshness of their adultery laws), which seem to be so much freer than Christian societies have generally been extremely cautious about the rules and regulations surrounding sex. But, as Janowski correctly observes, in US Colleges,

“students show up in classes with T-shirts or with pins (the size of a hand-palm) on which it is written: “Consent is Sexy” (worn mostly by young men) and “I love Female Orgasm” (worn by young women). They are made to participate unconsciously in an ideological campaign, whose emotionally detrimental effects for their lives they are completely unaware. Knowledge of “how to do it,” taught by the “sex-masters” with college degrees, is a new rite of passage with which colleges send their graduates to the workplace. There they deepen their initiation into the American Brave New World by taking mandatory “sexual harassment training” and “sensitivity training.'”

One notes here the means in which the bodily pursuit though seemingly the objective of fulfilment is subordinate to the ideological – which for Homo Americanus today is the spirit in itself.

That sex features in such a conflicted and ideologically twisted way in the lives of Homo Americanus is evident in all manner of ways, from the hyper-sexualisation of children, to the gyrating, twerking of barely clothed nubile young women at sports events attended by families with small children, to an obsession with sexual harassment to the extent that now being a sexual harassment officer is a career, to a culture which encourages child masturbation and openness to consider non hetero-sexual relations as life style choices, to one in which sex has to be construed in terms of the nature of the power relationships involved between the parties, to tortured attempts to identify what exactly consent involves, especially when large amounts of alcohol has been imbibed, to cases of young women regretting their casual hook-ups and making false accusations of rape. Two examples provided by Janowski, which a number of readers may remember, well illustrate simply how insane the culture in the US has become when it comes to sex:

“Several years ago, we learned about two six-year-old boys—H. Y., from Canon City, Colorado and M D., from Aurora, Colorado—who were accused of sexual harassment. H.Y. was accused of kissing a girl (his age) on the hand; M.D. for singing a line from an LMFAO song, ‘I’m Sexy and I Know It,’ to a female classmate while waiting in the lunch line. The cases were considered to be of national importance judging by the fact that they were reported in The Washington Post and on national radio.
If you think this is crazy, hold on! Victoria Brooks, lecturer in law at the University of Westminster, rushed to defend Samantha against inhuman treatment when several of her fingers were broken. Samantha, it turns out, is a sex doll who ‘worked’ in a brothel in Barcelona. Human rights activists now want sex-dolls to be endowed with a consent chip. ‘It is a step toward a consent-oriented approach to sex dolls.'”

The extension of democracy into everyday life has occurred in tandem with the democratization of institutions whose historical value lay in cultivating noble qualities i.e., qualities that were decisively non-democratic – especially the classical ones of wisdom, prudence and moderation, piety, courage, and justice (as something that was concerned with the grains of complexity and traditional expectations rather than ideological formulae).

Thus Janowski draws upon Plato’s critique of the democratic soul from the Republic. For, as Plato had observed, in so far as democracy fuels the passions of greed and covetousness (pleonexia) it contributes to a psychic dissolution that crosses over into the most unconstrained, the most lascivious kind of soul and regime, the tyrant and tyranny.

When Janowski writes “to the former denizen of the Socialist paradise, the behaviour of today’s America is painfully reminiscent of the old homo sovieticus, and more the Chinese man of the period of the Cultural Revolution,” he is speaking not only from having read Plato but having lived in a satellite of homo sovieticus who also is historically astute to how easily students can be used as tools of tyranny, especially when, as happened in that revolution and is happening today, the energy of youth is harnessed to a leadership that empowers itself by destroying institutions that thwart its ambitions.

But whereas the cultural revolution was a momentary tactic in Mao’s elimination of political rivals, in today’s US, cultural revolution is the playbook behind the professional ruling class’s tactic of clientelism. This is all too evident in the acceleration of the decline of democratic institutions in the United States today.

When Janowski commenced this project, elected officials were not openly saying that the police should not be funded, nor its president and vice-president that America was a systemic racist country, and critical race theory was not (known to be) part of the curriculum in military academies. They say this because this is the kind of clientelism that has been bred into the professional classes who find a never ending supply of clients by no longer using the state to provide welfare for a group down on its luck, or experiencing the social hell of being born into a world built by the poor choices of its parents or grandparents, but recruiting permanent dependents and finding an infinitude of disparities (invariably natural, inevitable, and not even debilitating) which are proof that the system is biased and hence needs their political interference.

When a pronoun, or traditional name of a social role such as father or mother can be interpreted as a form of social injustice or oppression, one sees what an infinite front expands in the search for equity. While the Chinese have gone from overcoming the precarious position of the communist party prior to Ji taking over the reins, to inventing and expanding the deployment of 5 G, and perfecting (diabolical as it is) the nation/state/ market corporatist nexus through the Belt and Road Initiative, the US, has employed an army of lawyers and bureaucrats and HR officers to change all manner of forms and rules so that people can feel safe with their pronoun, and the CIA and FBI can now proudly recruit trans, gay and other people of “diversity.”

The US has so confused reality with representation that “The Greatest Showman” reveals more truth about US elite aspirations as taught in universities and as required by corporations – a circus and carnival celebrating the freakish – than anything that might be learnt by studying Economics, Philosophy, History, Literature (i.e., real literature, without the bollocks of theory).

On the pronoun front, Janowski discusses the case of Jordan Peterson, who refused to comply with university policy on suitable pronouns – that is because he believed (silly him) that for all their wisdom, neither university administrators, social justice advocates nor legislators had the power to command linguistic usage.

The articulate, mild-mannered, and rigorously rational Jordan Peterson who had achieved quite some fame as a Youtube personality giving Jungian inspired lectures on psychology, mythology, religion, and other matters which ideologues hate became a wanted dead or alive alt.right poster boy for a class that increasingly despises anything that deals with aspects of self-hood beyond their imbecilic formulae. What was so noticeable about the disgusting treatment dished out to Peterson by woke academics, journalists and political commentators lining up to execute Peterson for the tricoteuse among their audience – was just how politically innocuous Peterson’s teachings were.

In a normal world – one where he was not objecting against contemporary Orwellian speech mandates – Peterson would not be seen as a political thinker at all. From what I have heard of his political views, they are those of a fairly brown bread Social Democrat dealing with the limits and excesses of capital and the state. Only in a world whose elite is bent upon social extinction is such advice as try making your bed before trying to change the world seen as akin to Hitlerism. One Marvel comic, Captain America (who recently, after some six decades in the closet finally came out as gay) made Peterson a Nazi super villain.

How stupid can college educated people be, one may ask? The answer is – very. Which is why today there is a “general tendency in the U.S. to explain virtually all social, political, and economic problems as a result of prejudice or bias. No alternative diagnosis or explanation – individual or group behavior – of any problem seems to exist. Sooner or later, everything comes down to a problem of bias.”

It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that reducing everything to bias also means that everything can be cured by those who train us about our biases and how to overcome them. Hence, as Janowski observes, in his chapter “Blind Psychology and the New Road to Serfdom” the widespread usage of the Implicit Association Test (IAT) in psychology courses in America, a test that is meant to disclose the false consciousness which our ideological and moral betters detect in us – and as everyone is biased, there is an endless need of training courses to guide us into the new civility that liberal democratic America requires.

Just as communist countries required a ceaseless dedication to the exposure of false consciousness, in America today everywhere and anywhere one must be on the lookout constantly (as is now openly request in Facebook and in university classes) for people who are either an “-ist” or a “phobe.” They are to be subject, if lucky, to public shaming, a public apology (that fine old Calvinist tradition which has swept America, and is the subject of the second chapter of Homo Americanus), or economic destruction. Janowski provides example after example of people publicly apologising, or losing their jobs or reputation due to the totalitarian fusion of state, corporations, and educational institutions operating in the US. The occurrences of this so common now that none could recall any than a mere fraction of them. I quote just some of the examples that Janowski reminds his readers of:

“In October 2017, Christ Church in Alexandria, VA, of which George Washington was a founding member and vestryman in 1773, pulled down memorial plaques honoring him and General Robert E. Lee. In a letter to the congregation, the church leaders stated that: ‘The plaques in our sanctuary make some in our presence feel unsafe or unwelcome. Some visitors and guests who worship with us choose not to return because they receive an unintended message from the prominent presence of the plaques.” In August 2017, the Los Angeles City Council voted 14-1 to designate the second Monday in October (Columbus Day) as ‘Indigenous Peoples Day.’ According to the critics of Columbus Day, we need to dismantle a state-sponsored celebration of the genocide of indigenous peoples. Some of the opponents of Columbus Day made their intentions clear by attaching a placard on the monument: ‘Christian Terrorism begins in 1492.’ In June 2018, the board of American Library Association voted 12- 0 to rename the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award as the ‘Children’s Literary Legacy Award.’ Wilder is a well-known American literary figure and author of children’s books, including Little House on the Prairie, about European settlement in the Midwest. In a statement to rename the award, the Board wrote: ‘Wilder’s legacy, as represented by her body of work, includes expressions of stereotypical attitudes inconsistent with ALSC’s core values of inclusiveness, integrity and respect, and responsiveness.'”

Just as statues of the wrong people or representing the wrong stance have had to go, none’s contribution to the world has been so great that they cannot be made to be publicly humiliated if they make the wrong kind of joke or remark. Janowski recounts the story of the noble prize winner Tim Hunt who made the following unforgivable remark: “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab. You fall in love with them, they fall in love with you and when you criticise them, they cry.”

As Janowski continues: “Hunt’s friend and Nobel Prize co-recipient, Sir Paul Nurse… told the Telegraph that Hunt’s “chauvinist” comments had “damaged science.…” Finally, Sir Hunt was forced to resign from The Royal Society…In a statement, the Royal Society announced: “The Royal Society believes that in order to achieve everything that it can, science needs to make the best use of the research capabilities of the entire population. Too many talented individuals do not fulfill their scientific potential because of issues such as gender and the Society is committed to helping to put this right. Sir Tim Hunt was speaking as an individual and his reported comments in no way reflect the views of the Royal Society.”

Lest anyone think that poets in North America are not as up to speed in the ideological denunciation and apologetics stakes, Janowski reminds anyone who may have forgotten of the following statement “from the editor of one-time prestigious and oldest American magazine, The Nation” after having printed a poem that apparently contained “disparaging and ableist language that has given offense and caused harm to members of several communities:”

“As poetry editors, we hold ourselves responsible for the ways in which the work we select is received. We made a serious mis-take by choosing to publish the poem ‘How-To.’ We are sorry for the pain we have caused to the many communities affected by this poem. We recognize that we must now earn your trust back. Some of our readers have asked what we were thinking. When we read the poem, we took it as a profane, over-the-top attack on the ways in which members of many groups are asked, or required, to perform the work of marginalization. We can no longer read the poem in that way.
We are currently revising our process for solicited and unsolicited submissions. But more importantly, we are listening, and we are working. We are grateful for the insightful critiques we have heard, but we know that the onus of change is on us, and we take that responsibility seriously. In the end, this decision means that we need to step back and look at not only our editing process, but at ourselves as editors.”

Since Janowski completed the book thousands of even more crazy things have happened – as I write this last week, not only have statues of Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson been dismantled in Charlottesville, but of Lewis, Clark and Sacagawea. Apparently, the Lewis and Clark statue has represented Sacagawea in an offensive manner.

Anyone familiar with Zamyatin, Huxley, Orwell, Koestler and such like can see immediately that the class that believes it is ushering in progress and a kind of utopia has already managed to build quite a dystopia in the US. And in Homo Americanus Janowski provides an excellent account of the fit between what is going on in the American soul and those and other prophetic works. Those of us of a certain age will recall the power that those books once exercised.

I recently read that a Professor at a US university had stopped teaching Brave New World because students today could not see anything wrong with Huxley’s world. And now what Orwell called Newspeak is as much part of our everyday world (hence over half the population think mainstream news is fake which only forces the elites to double down in their denunciations), as public denunciations and public confessionals. A “misword,” or off-color joke (as in the case of Hunt mentioned above) from a prominent figure (who is not so important to the elite that they cannot be sacrificed) inevitably leads to the process of public denunciation, public humiliation and temporary or permanent banishment.

The phrase the way to hell is paved with good intentions sprang to mind as Janowski demonstrates what far reaching consequences the seemingly, innocuous, though somewhat patronizing, concession to seventies feminists were gouged from demanding that the collective noun “man,” and pronoun “he” be interpreted as exclusively referring to the male sex, and hence a sign of women’s social subordination and exclusion. I will not repeat here the details of Janowski’s analysis, but will just say his position would probably have led to termination of his employment had he not packed up and left the USA.

When the very one-sided gender grammar war was being waged almost fifty years ago as part of a larger attempt by some women (generally authors, journalists academics and students) in the developed world to see all of history as subject to their particular socio-economic interests, concerns and claims, few asked why, if history had been so patriarchal, would women so swiftly have voting rights within a couple of generations of male suffrage? (Answer – the family was the most important unit of economic survival so it was in the interests of the labouring and middle classes to have women voting).

Feminists generally ignored the symbiotic character that is part and parcel of all group survival, or how roles enable the cultivation of certain aspects of selfhood and social being, while enabling different aspects of the real to be disclosed, accessed, and cultivated. Compulsion, like sacrifice, is a part of all social symbiosis – the part that is marshalled when the symbiosis is itself threatened by a member wanting its own gratification at the expense of the tasks it must fulfil in its role.

To be sure, the change in social reproduction and its economic conditions did involve a change of roles and hence a reaction against compulsions – and even some career obstacles that were no longer meaningful. And, yes, patriarchy had been real in so far as historically the father was invariably responsible for the protection of the family, which is a very different thing from women in the family simply existing for the pleasure of the father. (But why bother with historical and sociological complexity and nuance if you have read Marx and/ or Freud and are going to lead the world into a future free from oppression)?

Great changes require cool heads, and the euphoric mood and post-World War Two boom was one in which haste in social changes proceeded with very little caution about what it all might mean – indeed those with the most outlandish abstractions and utopian narratives prevailed, and those who had the temerity to defend the family and religion were mocked as fools.

When Monty Python’s Life of Brian came out, John Cleese and Michael Palin “debated” Malcolm Muggeridge and the Bishop of Southwark, Mervyn Stockwood, on the historical and cultural merits versus dangers of the film. Not surprisingly given the times, many of the audience thought that undergraduate humor was more incisive than the serious issues about religious mockery raised by representatives of faith that has formed nations. Say what you like about Islam, but it is not about to be blown over by undergraduate style humour.

The so-called long march through Western institutions was more a short sprint through doors long since or largely open. In keeping with almost everything else in the post-War boom, it was more posture and play (John Lennon running around in military fatigues, and Richard Neville’s Play Power sum up the mood) than bravery or sacrificial struggle.

Thus too, long after women had received the right to vote, at a time when all traditional work roles were up for grabs (partly thanks to the sexual revolution, and the decline of the single family wage-earner and living family wage), and going to college was a common choice for women with professional ambitions, the cause of eliminating the collective noun “man” was just one more in a grab-bag full of demands by a radicalized youth demanding to take over the curricula (which in the Humanities was far too intellectually demanding for kids wanting to smoke pot, engage in talk fests, have sex and listen to cool music – anyway all you needed to really know was that it was just the system, ya know – capitalism, man).

To be sure, in the USA, and Australasia there was a reasonable element to the radicalization, viz. opposition to a war in a land that most people knew nothing about. But what may have been (if one ignores international diplomacy and the matter of honoring alliances) a reasonable opposition to the war went hand in hand with the adoption of the Soviet/Cold War style anti-capitalist propaganda – feminists not to be outdone in the stooge department frequently equated patriarchy with capitalism.

Like the woke youth of today and the Russian youth of the 19th century or the German youth of the 1930s, it was a youth who knew little about anything, but who were totally convinced that the little they knew sufficed to making the world a better place. For the feminists, any attempt to understand social roles and obligation through historical and cultural analysis were only permissible – courtesy of J.S. Mill – if the idea that men were the oppressors of women was the purpose for undertaking the analysis as well as its conclusion.

It is astonishing that the most educated and privileged members of this generation of young men and women, portrayed themselves as if their suffering (not enough sex, or drugs to go with the rock n’ roll?) was akin to the victims of the holocaust or gulags (though they rarely referenced the gulags.) Reflecting upon this hypocrisy and idiocy almost makes me want to join Black Lives Matter, were it not for the fact that movement is also full of white college educated kids as well as black privileged people crying, “Gimme gimme, I want I want.”

The significance of the easy victory over the meaning of “man” and pronoun replacement (none really cared that much to engage in a serious linguistic/ sociological/ historical fight over it, and any who did were made to look like chauvinist meanies) is not only visible in feminist studies and the like dictating our understanding of the past, but it has even entered this year into the US House rules that stipulate that “familial relationships like father, daughter, and niece will be replaced by gender-neutral equivalents like parent, child, and sibling’s child.”

That the US House has become the centre of the kind of language that is to be used throughout all the institutions is simply a forerunner to the fact that anyone and everyone will be able to be monitored on the basis of what they say and think. Big Brother has been cleaned up to be gender fluid.

And, one can be sure that there are plenty of educated young American women today who, if given a revised copy of 1984, in which the society were identical in every respect to Orwell’s original, other than it was presided over by Big Mother, would go around saying how they wished they lived in that world. But one might think, would that not be reinforcing traditional roles? To which the answer is: that’s OK when done in a good enough cause such as ensuring absolute conformity and compliance to our imbecilic orthodoxy.

Of the various prophets of dystopia, like myself, Janowski is particularly partial to the genius of Dostoevsky. He had looked into the soul of the radical youth of the generation of the 1860s and 70s and seen demons. He also foresaw the kind of diabolical world that would be requisite for the man-god, a creation of the scientistic rational calculable self. Ultimately this would be a world in which number replaces names so that all vestiges of the individual human soul could be eliminated. Zamyatin picks this insight up in his novel We, where his characters have numbers not names.

When one considers that naming is one of the most primordial acts of human orientation and how the transmutation of life is accompanied by the creation of new names, and the potential to reevaluate the old, one can appreciate that the creation of nameless selves involves completely eliminating the most elemental act of orientation and collective association.

It was the Enlightenment that first sought to rename the entire world on the basis of an understanding unperturbed by the fire of the imagination. We have not yet dispensed with names, but we have dispensed with their historical connectedness. In a world where the young can so easily equate Hitler with Churchill it is all too evident that names now are little more than numbers, more specifically algorithms (crafted by engineers for google, Facebook, Youtube, etc.) for passing on information in accordance with one’s taste and interests, but also in accordance with what the creators of the algorithms think you should be able to have access to.

Toward the conclusion of Homo Americanus, Janowski presents a number of proposals (the following are more or less quoted verbatim) for restoring sanity to the American soul and American society at large.

They include: limiting the egalitarian propaganda that permeates democratic societies; deregulating human relationships, so that the state, legal system, schools, and employers must refrain from telling people how to act; reviving the notion of civility, and condemning certain forms of toxic behavior that are justified on multicultural grounds; restricting police and legal involvement to matters that concern someone’s physical safety, whilst prohibiting them from involvement in ethical regulations concerning how men and women act under peaceful conditions; tempering environmental activism; limiting authority over our decisions, and common-sense and tradition; rescuing “education from the hands of the multicultural ideologues,” and reinstating “old intellectual criteria into education for the sole purpose of teaching students objectivity;” ensuring that colleges and universities return to the pursuit of truth; and completely abandoning the idea of equality that holds collectivist ideology together.

I do not object to any of these proposals, but the fact that such proposals are even aired as the solution to our problems suggest the extent of the social sickness and how little chance there is of a philosophical cure, at least any time in the foreseeable future. Janowski, like Legutko, is an observant and thoughtful man.

But the problem is that the modern West has created an elite where thoughtlessness – imbecility – and the pursuit of self-destruction are not only all of a piece, but are the professional requirement of institutional power. And while bad ideas are intrinsic to the problem, and while these ideas are the result of the perversity of thought that occurs through the mutation of (poor) philosophy into ideology, it is the sociological incarnation of ideas that towers over those of us who are able to get along in an imperfect world, but find living in an insane one a far greater tribulation.

And that is the problem we in the West now face with the alliance of bad philosophy, government, business and our educational system – at tertiary and school level. For these institutions are enthusiastically controlled by people with captive minds and souls who have no idea they are captive. They are the result and the perpetrators of the metaphysics of horror. We are living within a brainwashing operation of such success, that the people who are least affected by it are the people furthest away from the centres and institutions of “power.”

With all the hot air expended upon rights’ talk, rights do not sustain social virtues – our most valuable practices have to be repeated daily to be sustained. Our elite has no idea of what the best practices (to use another formulation that the managerialists have turned into a cliché) of the past have been because they have substituted the complexities of the real world for a small smattering of ideas, they have substituted what they contain in their paltry pea brains for the world.

We all have pea sized brains – and if we all fessed up to that, we might just be less inclined to equate moral rhetoric with moral substance, to embrace and enforce simple solutions which generate even more difficult problems, and a little more forgiving of each other. They think by endlessly appealing to emancipation and equity or chattering about oppression and inequality they are really dealing with reality. Of course, just a little digging would always reveal conundrums, complexities, paradoxes, which would quickly expose how paltry and inadequate these terms are.

The elite do not know, for example, because they do not bother to inquire, how widespread slavery has been and still is outside of the West. It matters for nothing that having allowed slavery to exist in the US meant that even those who wanted to eliminate it overnight had to deal with the question of what would happen to ex-slaves, how long would it take to find employment, how could they survive from day to day – of course, such economic fundamentals, as have been raised by Thomas Sowell’s “The Real History of Slavery,” in his Black Rednecks and White Liberals, are not the concern of people who know everything and just need to hold office and be on a payroll to spot who is biased and solve all our social problems with crayons, butchers paper, rotten fruit, the stocks, and the threat of unemployment.

Likewise, people who insist that nothing has changed for blacks in America since slavery care nothing for the fact that some 300,000 white men gave their lives up in the United States, to destroy slavery, at a time when it was still widely practiced in other parts of the globe.

Those who say nothing has changed, and we have to do more, like take a knee, give random reparations to any black person; or, if white, make sincere public displays of how sorry we are for being white, and how schooled we have been in the damage caused by whiteness – not only give up nothing but may end up as much on a winner as the white Robin DiAngelo who earns nearly a million dollars a year from book sales and speeches. They either do not care or know nothing of the history or extent of white enslavement. They love to use the word progress, but are indifferent to, or ignorant of the fact that the overcoming of slavery in the West was indeed an indication that finally, in some small way, the human race in some part of the world had made a little progress.

Instead of knowing how ubiquitous slavery had been, they have been paralysed by their past, have preferred myth to truth, and have sought to shame others for living in a world that has been intrinsic to the making of this one. They have believed that they are so much better than all that have lived before them. The truth is that people who think this way end inevitably up being so much worse. In the twentieth century the most toxic ideas were to believe that one’s class or race dictated who should prosper or suffer, live or die. Shockingly, those ideas did not die with Bolshevism and Nazism, but found new ways to circulate and seize the minds of those dedicated to progress.

One might recall that these ideologies loved talking about either equality and/ or community. And like our current Liberal totalitarianism: they were ruthless in denouncing and persecuting their critics; they required the most careful attention to what was said, and how it was said; they used every media at their disposal; they both drew upon the energy of youth and the ambitions of technocrats and the ideas that fitted the world-view of their respective intelligentsia; they received serious financial support (yes, the Bolsheviks too – see e.g., Richard B. Spence’s Wall Street and the Russian Revolution: 1905-1925); and they seized power in societies beset with serious problems by offering slogans and simple solutions; and when in power they delivered devastation. Societies need elites – but an elite that denies that it is an elite, which makes no sacrifices but decides who must be sacrificed, which gains its power by directing hate between groups, while claiming to be against the haters is nothing but a fraud squad.

Would that the elite of the West bother to learn something from those pesky Poles. In the meantime, we can at least celebrate that we have before us writings by those who refused to go along with the tyranny of imbecility and cruelty, as well as those who recognize some of the sources of the sickness that now afflicts the West.

I think all parents wish that their children would learn from the hard-earned lessons of their parents’ sufferings – but they rarely do. Not that I am speaking as a parent, but as someone who was lucky enough to belong to a generation whose parents had been in and emerged from hell, it gives people like myself who can see what the West is doing no joy in seeing them create hell. To the older ones (that is my contemporaries) who do it solely for profit and position, I say shame on them for not learning anything about life other than mouthing platitudes, deluding themselves and the young, and making money while doing so.

To the younger ones who are their stooges, I say pity them for their ignorance, youthful pride, and having been subject to even greater monsters of ignorance. To the pesky Poles I say praise and thanks to you for your bravery and thoughtfulness. I wish more in the West would learn from you.

And, finally, let us acclaim: pesks of the planet unite, you have nothing to lose but your subordination to an imbecilic elite, who are determined to sacrifice you for everyone’s good, especially their’s.

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

The featured image shows, “The Resurrection of Poland,” by Władysław Barwicki, painted ca. 1918.

The Dialectic Of Imbecility And The Western Elites’ Will To Power – Part 2

Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

Imbecility Leads The (Once) Free World

In spite of the United States being closer to a civil war more than any time since 1865, there is one statement that I think one can safely say would find few, if any, dissenters on either side of the divide: at least one of the two Presidents who have held since 2016 or now hold office is an imbecile.
Not being a citizen of the United States my interest in its politics was driven by broader geopolitical concerns, and wider fears about the West’s inabilities to survive its external enemies and its own self destruction.

For my part, in 2016 I had no feeling either way of who would make a better president. Both had serious credibility problems – Whitewater, the Clinton foundation, and Hilary’s mendacity made it impossible for anyone who knew about her history to believe a word she said, though she had had experience in foreign diplomacy, though the Obama doctrine had not made the West stronger; Trump had lost money for various investors numerous times, and when it came to the GOP nomination played very dirty. He also lacked experience. The one thing to an outsider that made him look interesting was that he was not playing by the old rule book in international relations, and that might or might not be a very good thing.

Any hesitations about what would happen if Trump won the election (which the US media assured all and sundry could never happen) were drastically transformed by the response of President Trump’s opponents on his taking presidential office. Trump playing dirty to defeat Cruz or Rubio was like a fist fight in kiddie league compared to the full scale assault upon Trump that immediately was pitched as the need for impeachment by journalists, celebrities and Democrats. Daily, I would read the media report that Trump said or did X, and then when I found footage of statement or deed, which had not been edited to fit the accusation, it had a totally different context and even content from what was being reported.

But as shocking as I found it that I simply could no longer trust reports from media which claimed to be reputable, the far more important concern for me was that the elite, who were supposed to be responsible for ensuring strength and unity at home, had shown that they were incapable of accepting the will of the people for an election term. Thus it was that the strongest geopolitical power for democracy in the Western world no longer had any kind of consensual centre from which it could issue genuine allegiance.

During his term Trump had kept the US from new wars (as promised), bought back some degree of border control (which his voters wanted), and, until COVID, significantly improved economic conditions by increasing employment for every identity group, as well as wages for many. COVID provided an opportunity for his critics not only to raise the hysteria already way beyond fever pitch to new cries of Trump being a mass murderer.

By the time the election of 2020 had come around I had come to the conclusion that the elite ideas brokers in the USA were representatives of the greatest threat to democracy I had witnessed in my sixty six years on this earth, and I certainly did not see how their depiction of what Trump represented – Hitlerism – had meant that their moral commitment was more about accepting the will of the American people than removing him from office.

Though whatever happened during the election, I also think there is a good case to be made that the damage done to democracy as a system of government and to the economies in dealing with COVID might be irreparable. Certainly the emergency powers assumed by states (and not just the USA), including the demand for strict compliance and narrative conformity about what the state has decreed to be the scientific answer to the problem – e.g. all efforts to go into vaccines rather than treatment studies and development, most obviously – has enabled those seeking to curb any kind of populist resistance to elite decision making.

Trump was as much sucker punched by this as he was by the changes to voting laws that enabled ineligible voting and voting interference to take place. He had also failed to halt the power against free speech that had moved from universities to the corporate world and finally into social media so that Trump would find himself banned from all major platforms, along with many other ‘conservative’ youtubers and podcasters who had previously had large followings of people sick to death of what the elites were dictating as the truth on everything from medicine to climate to race and the election.

In the concentrated effort to gain complete control of what people thought and said by ensuing that the political party and media which support it still required an election victory to seal the deal. And, there were two obstacles they had to deal with – who had the personality and popular appeal with voters to defeat a candidate that almost every journalist and pundit in the country had previously thought unelectable, and how would they ensure that their candidate got victory.

That these companies and the mainstream media openly supported one party and ultimately one candidate was not so untypical. But that the only candidate that they thought had the character and qualities to defeat Trump, and the character who ultimately managed to garner the biggest support amongst members of his party for his candidacy had to be kept in a basement and shielded from reporters in conducting his campaign was less typical. What was becoming clearer by the day, is the reason he was being kept in a basement was that he was an imbecile.

Given that whiteness and old men had become a regular term of abuse within the Democratic party perhaps it was not too much a stretch of the imagination to think that this kind of contradiction would not be noticed because the party itself had consisted of people who if not outright imbeciles (represented by the AOC wing of the party), could, at least, be treated as imbeciles. Or perhaps it was because the elite had come to the consensus that the country was full of imbeciles and only an imbecile could defeat an imbecile in an election that only someone made to look like an imbecile could win the presidency. Though, in Joe they hit the jackpot – he could not put two sentences together without looking like an imbecile.

As for Trump, being an imbecile, the day he announced his run for presidential nominee, his critics laughed hysterically about what a complete imbecile he was. And when he won office, they stopped laughing, and the question of his imbecility became a psychiatric matter that should be acted upon by the appropriate authorities (whoever they were – some hoped Rod Rosenstein would step up to the plate).

For sure, Trump was not playing by any known political rule book and he could be shockingly brutal, and make up all sorts of nonsense, and he used the word ‘bigly’ and he did pull funny faces and gesticulated pretty wildly sometimes. But his rallies were like parties where the crowd would whoop and holler and lap up his humour, which always got the loudest roar of approval when he went for ‘the dishonest people’ at the back. If this was an imbecile, one wondered how was it that not a single Democrat candidate could enthuse an audience like this imbecile. And in spite of Joe having zero in the charisma stakes, in spite of such zingers of repartee as ‘C’mon man’, maybe the Democrats really did think it took an imbecile to beat an imbecile, and that’s why with all the talent on display they chose Joe.

In any case, I think it fair to say that even those who really hated what the Democrats were supporting and doing, especially since Trump had taken office, only saw one of the possible nominees for the Democrat presidential candidate as a total imbecile. Like so many other wannabes in American political life – with the exception of the articulate, smart and attractive Tulsi Gabbard – the cast in the run off for the Democrat presidential candidate were as vacuous as they were instantly forgettable.

And while Harris, Warren, and whoever else there was were might have been political grifters, drenched in duplicity accompanied by boundless ambition, I doubt if the word imbecile is the first word that springs to mind when one considered them. ( It is true that VP Harris’s statement that the border crisis is caused by climate change is imbecilic, but I suspect this is what she thinks she should say to the imbeciles who support her – anyway AOC, with typical wide-eyed daring had gone the extra yard on that front in the imbecilic stakes by claiming climate change was the result of racial injustice. I have always harboured the thought that climate change might be the result of the dogs next door who yelp at all hours of the day and are responsible for everything that irritates me in retirement. But I have kept that imbecilic thought to myself).

While the Democrats chose an appeal in the run off, the fact was that while the media did represent the Donald as an imbecile, they also wanted to represent him as Hitler. And that only showed their accusation of him being an imbecile was not serious. For say what you like about Hitler, calling him an imbecile does not really cut the mustard, at least not until pretty late in the day, when yes he went fully deranged. Sure, his ideas about Jews were imbecilic, but taking the totality of the whole man, he was a master of political maneuvring, a master at capturing the mood of a people desperate to follow a leader who would restore their sense of purpose and national destiny, and a master of political rhetoric. And if he was an imbecile what does that say about Neville Chamberlain or FDR?

While Biden’s opponents see him as many things – a hair-sniffing, handsy creep, who made a career as a bagman for the DuPont family, who, attended the funeral of, and eulogised, the former KKK member Robert Bird, who has used his office not only to fill his family’s pockets, and used the FBI and media to shut down the story of his son’s crooked, possibly traitorous, and illegal personal behaviour, who was accused of sexual misconduct by his own staffer – none of these are incompatible with him also being an imbecile. And to be fair, even though his incessant plagiarism was pretty damned stupid, he was not so much an imbecile as a political hack for sale to the highest bidder.

But we know now that even his minders take him for an imbecile. A fact that Joe had to blurt out to the entire world when at a conference with the Russian leader, who none has ever considered an imbecile, that he had been given a list of journalists allowed to softball the questions – whose answers we presume he was supposed to have learnt by rote. Meanwhile the world could also see how Vlad was taking his sword to Western journalists who thought they could catch him out saying – “Yes you are the smartest most decent people I have ever admit, and now that I look deeply into my conscience, I admit it – I killed them all. Please forgive me.” While that didn’t happen Joe marched bravely on giving that big sparkling false tooth grin while pondering his favourite ice cream flavour.

If the media were unable to get their story straight about whether Trump was an imbecile or Hitler, from the get go they thought that because his supporters were deplorables, they were also imbeciles, like the rest of their audience, who they also treated as imbeciles. But by then the media had long since stopped bothering with facts – their stories constantly came from anonymous sources, or sources with partisan interests, and they could rely upon fact checkers to convince people that things that were not facts were facts, and vice-versa.

Thus it was that during the Trump presidency that the media, in complicity with the Democratic party and one of its fronts, conspired (yes, one does not need to wear a tin foil hat to note people making up and disseminating misinformation/ lies for political gain) to concoct a story about Trump being a Russian plant.

They also denied that Obama has authorised spying upon the Trump campaign, even though the Russian plant fabrication had involved the Democrats and their operatives in intelligence having to make the story fly by having its intelligence agencies identify people in the Russian conspiracy who they could not actually manage to interrogate (the dialectic of imbecility has established that when people say that Russians and Trump and his supporters conspired to hijack an election that is not a conspiracy theory).

They also denied what could be heard all over YouTube – i.e. that Biden had used his political office and threatened withholding US military aid to the Ukraine to protect the investigation of his son being on the pay roll as a highly paid consultant to one of the most corrupt energy company’s in the world, at the same time as they attempted to impeach Trump for a supposed overheard phone call threatening to withhold military aid if the Ukraine president did not investigate the son of an opposing presidential candidate.

By the time November 2020 came around the mainstream media had told so many porky pies that none in their right mind could believe them. But the remaining audience they did have had long since lost their minds, and they could be relied onto believing anything, including that Joe was the man to bring the USA back to a reliable centre.

To those who thought the media had been lying about Russia, the Ukraine, Hunter Biden and his lap top (there was nothing there to report!) and all manner of other things including they themselves (they were all white supremacists), the election result looked like just one more lie. As for the election itself, it certainly seems bizarre for example – and I quote from an essay by Joe Holt – that

In almost every county throughout the state (of Pennyslvania), the President was awarded a percentage of votes 40% less than the percent the President won on election day … If Trump won a county by 80% of the vote on Election Day, he won 40% of the mail-in vote for a county. If the President won 60% of the vote on Election Day, he won 20% of the mail-in vote in another county. This pattern occurred in almost every county with the only noticeable exception of Philadelphia, where the President only earned 30% of the vote on Election Day.

Thus it was after the elections occurred that social media had to step on board with the mainstream media to shut down any serious consideration of election fraud. The ostensible reason for this closing down of free speech was that such talk of fraud had created an insurrection, a putsch no less that was organized by President Trump.

Anyone who bothered to look beyond the mainstream footage could see that a demonstration that had got out of control, that included some thugs (spurred on by Antifa) and misguided over enthusiastic protesters, some of whom had entered through a door opened by some security guards, was far less violent than the Black Lives Matter Protests that had taken months earlier, where fire razed buildings to the ground, where businesses were looted, and some people were killed in what the media unanimously reported as being “mainly peaceful protests.”

Treating their audience as imbeciles it became increasingly common for all mainstream journalists to use identical formulations when reporting. Meanwhile in the capitol riot – an attempted putsch so they said – one unarmed woman, a protestor, was shot at point blank range by a security officer. The media intent on making a rabble look like white supremacist terrorists, having discovered that a policeman who had been on duty that day had subsequently died of natural causes concocted the story he was murdered by the same white supremacist terrorists.

In fact, the issues that led so many to cry foul about the election result were multiple. But if one was interested in why people were so convinced that the election had been rigged, one had to do a lot of hunting to see that the claims were about foreign interference and voting machines, which prior to this election had been problems identified by the Democrats, to ballot harvesting, dead and non-existent voters, the unprecedented cessation of counting, prevention of proper scrutineering, and much else beside.

But by January Google, Youtube, Twitter, Facebook started simply wiping numerous sites, posts and tweets that had been making the case – just as they did for those with medical credentials who were critical of Fauci.
The question of facts had become a question of narrative, and the issue was who controlled the narrative.

And what was the case was identical to the point raised earlier – on the one hand the elite pushed the narrative that only imbeciles voted for Trump, or believed the election was a fraud, or, indeed, did not get on board with the other topics that it was pushing – only an imbecile would not believe in climate change, only an imbecile would not believe the science on COVID as represented by Fauci.

Only an imbecile would think defunding the police was not a good idea because only an imbecile would not see systematic racism everywhere in the USA, hence too only an imbecile would not see that critical race theory should be taught in schools, corporations, universities and state departments, only an imbecile would think women had vaginas, hence only an imbecile would think it wrong for biological males to compete in women’s sports, and hence too only an imbecile would think it not a good idea to have transgender soldiers.

Only an imbecile would be opposed to diversity and hence only an imbecile would object to recruitment to US intelligence agencies and the military proudly displaying their commitment to diversity – in what everybody else could see was the most imbecilic advertising campaign that hat had ever been dreamt up (and that is really saying something).

The list is far longer and the logic/ dialectic relentless. It is the logic and dialectic of progress as understood, taught and forced upon the American population through its institutions. Nevertheless at least half the country think: only an imbecile could believe this shit. Which is why, and the Democrats never understood this, that while much support for Trump came from the forgotten working class, it also came from those frustrated by the most pressing demand of the dialectic of imbecility, i.e. that one forsake all independence of thought and get on board with the program.

Where one stands on the riven ness of the US today very much depends who one thinks are the imbeciles – Trump and his supporters, or Biden and those who want you to believe that they are making the world safer and better.

Part 1, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

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

The featured image shows “intrigue,” by James Ensor, painted in 1890.