Humans First!

How much of our humanity are we willing to lose? It would appear that this question is becoming most pertinent in our age. But another, more fundamental, question foregrounds this one – what is a human being? Are people bio-mass? If so, then only one idea is required to exist on this planet, namely, how best to manage populations.

If mankind is something other than bio-mass, then another idea is needed to live a happy and meaningful life, namely, how best to safeguard the value of the individual. Each answer also means that a particular type of government, or state, must come into existence – whether it be rule by an all-powerful polity before whose might, one person is worth nothing; or whether it be a limited government that does not stand in the way of the people.

As is obvious, the first question can only be answered properly within the context of either of these two ideas. The current “culture war” is, in fact, an expression of our inability to come to a definite answer for what a human being is. And in this confusion, the very notion of citizenship is fast disappearing. If a citizen is bio-mass, then his value to the state is determined purely by the state. If the citizen is not bio-mass, then his value exists beyond the reach of politics because he innately possesses individual sovereignty, or self-worth, which no court of law or government can take from him.

But the more powerful a state becomes, the less a human life is valued. Consequently, those who agree with the state are deemed “good citizens,” while those that deny the power of the state are held in contempt and labeled as, “dissidents.” Currently, in the West, both these ideas are in contention. Which idea will win out in the end, will decide what type of society comes to exist in the West.

Into this struggle intrudes technology, which has assumed the structure of the all-powerful state – because it is intrinsically about the micro-management and even control of individuals. But it is a “state” of a very peculiar type. We watch screens. The screens watch us. It really is a watcher’s world, in which the boundary between public and private life is much corroded, so that individuals must continually yield their sovereignty in order to access the various necessities now contained solely within technology.

Indeed, it is now impossible to deal with money, information and communication without the intermediacy of the screen. This means that whenever we need to enter into any sort of transactional relationship with the world around us, we need to go and interact with a screen. There really is no other choice. And this “screened” interaction means people must assume two roles – there are those who need what screens dispense; and there are those who mange this dispensation.

In other words, the watchers are watched. And those that watch, do so continually, ensuring that entire populations are under constant surveillance. In this way, technology has created an entirely new form of “politics” – one where constant surveillance both exploits and controls. It exploits by charting what we buy and then tagging us as specific types of consumers. And it controls by telling us what to think – so that screens determine our behavior. We agree to be watched so that we might reap the benefits provided by the screen.

But this is consent of a different kind, because there is no other choice. There is no alternative to the screen. This also means that there really is no consent at all, only compliance, if we want to participate in commerce, communication or banking. In this way, each of us becomes nothing more than a technological “process.”

Much has been written about the surveillance culture and the surveillance economy. But recently an interesting set of three books has been published by Cyrus Parsa, each of which explores the serious threat to humanity posed by technology. These three books were published quickly, from August to October 2019. And all three, offer troubling, if not shocking, insights as to what becomes possible when technology and the state become a seamless entity – a merging that is coming into being in the West, but which is fully entrenched in China.

The three books are meant to be read one-after-the-other, it would appear, since each develops and builds upon two themes – “bio-digital social programming” and the anti-human agenda embedded within technology. Since these books seem to be self-published, a good editor was certainly needed– but this drawback does not distract from the value of the insights and information provided by the author, for he brings to the discussion a point of view that is very little understood and therefore little discussed, namely, the vast anti-human possibilities of technology.

More importantly, Parsa also offers insights as to how we ought to answer the two questions that were raised at the very beginning: How much of our humanity will we agree to give up in order to use technology? And, how shall we define a human being, given the anti-human assumptions that are the modus operandi of high-tech?

In his first book, Raped Via Bio-Digital Social Programming, Parsa posits the idea that technology promotes a “rape-mind,” that is, a mind that is perpetually sexualized and therefore always looking to either rape or be raped. As an aside, Parsa is also creating a vocabulary to help in his analysis, because the topics that he is engaged in have been so little studied that they do not yet possess specific terminology. “Bio-digital social programming” is one such neologism, by which he means the connections made with the human body by all digital transmissions (machines, robotics, computers, smart phones, smart cities, IoT devices, facial recognition and Artificial Intelligence).

Parsa suggests that humanity now exists as a “bio-digital” entity, which learns and understands the purpose and meaning of life now only through technology. This interchange, or cross-over, means that the difference between humanity and robotics is starting to blur. If a human is merely a set of mechanical functions, then bio-digitality makes sense, where the desire of human existence to self-perpetuate is channeled off into technology.

This, then, calls into question the very purpose of sex itself – for freed from reproduction it can only become another form of self-gratification. And because of this separation of sex from procreation, the various hybrids being created become expressions of progress rather than monstrosity. This “logic” also informs the entire transgender movement, where a New Man can be created by chemical means.

Given technology’s assumption about the human body as a mechanical object that can be programmed, Parsa suggests that the most effective method of such programming is digi-sexuality, which is then managed through the various gadgets we all possess, such as, smart phones and IoT devices, and which together create a hyper-sexualized mind, or the “rape-mind.” Parsa then connects this mind with the great upsurge in human and child-trafficking, and a “pornified” youth culture, which seeks to not only imitate but outdo the sexual acts portrayed on the screens of their various devices.

Such “rape automation” offers a precise explanation of what human sexuality has been turned into by technology – wide-spread and freely-available pornography, epidemic levels of pedophilia, sex-robots as a growth industry, and the bizarre promotion by the state of transgenderism. In other words, what Parsa describes is a culture that no longer understands what it means to be human, because it has transformed sexuality into a mechanism for controlling populations, in that people become what they see on their screens.

In his second book, AI, Trump, China & the Weaponization of Robotics with 5G, Parsa delves into another neologism of his, namely, “micro-botic terrorism” (or, MBT), by which he means the weaponization of biometric data. Just as technology has weaponized sex, likewise the human body itself has been turned into an effective means to destroy the individual, so that if the metrics of the individual do not match the “ideal citizen” required by the state, then that individual becomes the enemy of the state, and is dealt with accordingly.

The state needs to know who its enemies are, and technology steps in to identify (or tag) such “undesirables,” by way data. This data is created in such a way that “enemies” can be easily recognized, marked off (tagged) and then dealt with. This data consists of facial recognition, fingerprinting, individual manner of walking and speaking, skeletal structure, eye-scans, and so on.

Our very bodies betray us to the state, in that “enemies” possess physical traits that are markedly different from those that support, comply and agree with the state. Thus, enemies of the state actually possess different faces, postures, speech, mannerisms, gait – which clearly marks them off from the “friendlies” of the state. In other words, in the process of mass surveillance of crowds, enemies can easily be identified.

Such is the grim message that Parsa meticulously lays out; and he identifies China as the foremost user of such anti-human technology. This is obvious, given the idea that China follows in its understanding of what a human being is – nothing more than bio-mass.

Aside from the well-known harvesting of organs from citizens that have been tagged as unfit to live in the “ideal China” (and the trade in such organs is brisk and highly profitable), China also has far grander ambitions. With the help of the big-tech corporations, it has gathered, or is in the process of gathering, bio-metric data of over 6 billion people on this planet.

This means that China now knows, for example, who belongs in the military, police, national security, academia, the government, as well as who belongs to which private sector. And it can also identify who are the friendlies within other nations, and which are enemies. Given the fact that humanity is bio-mass, if any mistakes get made and friendlies get killed by the state – it matters little, so long as the goals of the state continue to be achieved.

Using biometrics, Parsa also details how his own company analyzed one-thousand members of big-tech corporations and one-thousand high-profile media personalities, journalists and reporters. His conclusion was that they are all actively promoting the interests of China; they are friendlies.

If Parsa’s biometric data is correct (and if we assume that data does not lie), then his conclusions must come as a resopunding alarm bell, because those who manage how we receive information have entirely bought into the Chinese model of governance – and the Chinese understanding of humanity.

Next, Parsa details the weaponization of AI by China. This means that through the AI operating system, deep learning and machine learning, human-tracking technologies easily become human-targeting methodologies, where a mass-kill of humans can be done quickly and efficiently.

As a frightening example, Parsa details one current project of the Chinese – the tagging of “House Christians,” or those Christians who refuse to follow the party-approved “church” in which President Xi is given status equal to Christ.

These House Christians have had their biometrics recorded, and this data is then used to identity other House Christians in the general population. This means that the Chinese state recognizes as a fact that Christians look, walk, talk, and generally carry themselves differently from the larger, non-Christian population. The companies engaged in this surveillance are Huawei, Megvii Face++, Sensetime and several others, Parsa tells us.

The purpose of identifying Christians is not only to determine dissidents, but to tag them for organ harvesting – and they can be picked up anytime and rendered.

This is far more than execution. Given that in China humans are bio-mass, the state can remove, without any qualms, people deemed incompatible with, and not fit to live in, Chinese society. And those thus removed are made useful by way of their body parts. Thus, their kidneys, hearts, cornea, livers, lungs and other components are harvested and sold in the international market. Or, “medical tourists” come and receive whatever transplants that they need.

China has been doing such “harvests” for the past fifteen years, with anywhere from 60,000 to 100,000 organs harvested in each of those years. Tagged Christians are treated like livestock on the hoof, in that they are kept alive until their organs are needed.

Parsa’s research further shows that there are about 500 Chinese and 600 western AI and tech companies engaged in such collection and categorizing of biometric data, which is gathered by way of smart phones, IoT, automated vehicles, virtual reality, mixed reality, augmented reality, holograms, surveillance grids, and smart cities.

All this information has created a vast human-bio-digital network, wherein humans are connected to machines by way of the Internet and who can then be managed effectively. This means that people are tagged, classified, and their information stored for later use, as they walk about, unawares, on the street, or even as they carry on their private lives inside their own homes. Such AI reach is made possible by G5 and soon G6 technology, which China is rapidly expanding.

Again, given its understanding of humanity, it matters little if G5 and G6 pose a great health risk to people. Indeed, even now, China uses biometric data not only to gather and process individuals tagged for organ harvesting, but to construct vast concentration camps, where individuals are placed for eventual processing. Thus, China carries out the greatest amount of surveillance in its cities. And the same tagging process is being used to identify Hong Kong protesters.

China is also developing “micro-bots,” or “micro-drones,” also known as, Robo-Bees, or Slaughterbots, which are tiny, and insect-like, and which gather data by way of Lidar, facial recognition, and heat-body-motion detection.

These micro-bots have full spatial awareness and can be used for human targeting, in which case they can deliver lethal doses of poison with a quick jab. They can also be trained to swarm and carry out mass attacks on large crowds. Parsa suggests that China is actively using such technology against the United States, and that he has advised the current Trump-administration about this surveillance.

In his third book, Artificial Intelligence. Dangers to Humanity, Parsa fully engages with robotics, and issues an open challenge to the various high-tech firms that are intent on developing capabilities which will lead to profound anti-human outcomes. Taking the lead in this development is China’s robotic and cyborg program, whose sole purpose is the control of all humanity on this planet.

Parsa rightly points out that China has only been able to advance so much in technology because of outright theft (it has sophisticated methods of stealing the latest innovations), tech espionage, forced tech transfers, open-source sharing, and outright collaboration with western companies.

In Parsa’s estimation, China has roughly 1000 new tech startups each day. Some of the things these new companies are developing include robotics, cybernetics, wearable AI surveillance gear, deep fake apps that are easily weaponized, IoT, smart phones, drones, and AI weapons (in which the Chinese military is particularly active). The goal is to record the biometrics of every human being on this planet, a task that is not hard to do, as many might imagine, despite the vast numbers. In fact, AI is built for precisely such massive data.

It is this technology-theft and espionage that has led to the recent Huawei affair. Parsa states that the goal of China is to dominate and control AI and the entirety of the global digital system; and one of the programs that Huawei is implementing is a robot police force, which can effectively track down and quarantine a person who has been tagged for such treatment by the Chinese state.

Huawei is also a Chinese vanguard organization, well-established in over 170 countries, where it creates and manages digital infrastructure. This means that their technology is now being used by 3 billion people, which is a third of the planet’s population. Their network effectively tracks, spies on and controls financial networks and even entire populations. That is vast reach. In fact, Huawei is implementing China’s larger global goals – the domination of financial and political infrastructures of the entire planet, and then the transformation of these infrastructures into one seamless and massive AI digital mega-brain – all run from somewhere in China.

But it is humanoid robotics that holds a special interest for China, in which it is investing a lot of its energy. The end-game of this pursuit is the creation of autonomous weapons, a cyborg army, which can be programmed to kill certain types of humans who have been tagged for elimination. All this is for a very old dream – China wants to be the master of the world.

Then, there is China’s leading role in creating sexbots (which also gather data and transmit it to a centralized system). Such robots are becoming more and more lifelike, and their demand is increasing. Of course, this is also weaponized sexuality, for it is solitary self-gratification, which negates the very idea of love between two human beings, and rather quickly undermines human worth.

Perhaps the question that the rest of need to ask is a simple one – why has the West (which created all this technology in the first place) allow China to become so powerful? And why is a country, which is a clear threat to the West, being empowered still?

The answers to these two questions return us to the original ones asked earlier. The West is confused about how it should understand the human being. Some in power (high-tech companies, the media, Hollywood, politicians) want to follow the Chinese definition. Others are not so sure. And only a minority, it would appear, vehemently reject such classification. This is the real culture war.

And, as an active participant in this culture war, Parsa has taken another unusual step. He has commenced the largest lawsuit of this century by charging corporations, politicians, the media, and banks, under Article 3 of the Genocide Convention, for complicity in the mass murder of humanity. This is a bold step and it will be interesting to see where it leads – whether it is dismissed as frivolous by the courts, or whether it actually gains its sea-legs and proceeds further (as it rightly should).

Whatever the outcome of this lawsuit, Parsa has set a worthy example to us all. His three books are a wake-up call – and the time now has come that we take back our humanity – before we lose it to Chinese and tech tyranny.

But to do so, we must first demand that our politicians be pro-human. We must stop believing in all the anti-human ideologies that now hold sway (such as, environmentalism, transgenderism, abortion, euthanasia). Our strange love of such attitudes and outlooks can only lead to destruction.

We must reject the madness that is environmentalism, because it is simply Neo-Malthusian eugenics. We must demand that a “China Divestment Policy” be implemented, whereby each nation is freed from reliance on cheap Chinese labor (for the Chinese state has enslaved its own population). And most important of all, we must stop being so darned agreeable and compliant when it comes to our own future. The boldness shown by Parsa is much-needed. Let us get behind a cause that really matters – humanity first! A good place to start is the Lethal Autonomous Weapons Pledge.

The image shows a poster for the film, Metropolis, from 1927.

In The Green Reich, We Are All Jews

This is a book that everyone must read. It is brief, to the point – and utterly frightening, for it lays out the end-game of environmentalism, which will affect us all, if we blindly keep empowering it, as we are now so gleefully doing.

People often wonder how Hitler was allowed to come to power and carry out his plan? Just look at the way you vote, the way you think about humans and this planet, why you want to go green, what you demand from politicians you elect when it comes to the environment.

If you are honest about the answers that you arrive at, you will understand how evil becomes institutionalized and therefore massively murderous. Hitler famously said that he had planted the seed and no one could now predict how and when it would grow back again.

Environmentalism is that Hitlerian seed, sprouted and flourishing, and which is now so eagerly being nurtured to maturity by people who naively believe that they are doing the right thing. And once the process of evil is locked into place, its mechanisms always follow through to their bitter end. Such is the dire warning of this timely book.

The author, Drieu Godefridi, a Belgian philosopher, writes in the grand tradition of Émile Zola’s open letter, J’Accuse! Like Zola, he has shoved before our complaisance a defiant open-letter to humanity, in which he warns against the death-cult that is environmentalism, whose adherents now inhabit the highest political, social and cultural offices and positions, and who are widely regarded as the vanguards of morality. Huge money fuels environmentalism, because it is a source of profit and therefore an industry. Thus, celebrities tout it, experts hector us with its “facts,” politicians tax us over it and legalize it – and it is now a towering Moloch, to which all must bend knee, and into whose maw we must toss our humanity.

Godefridi’s original, French title was posed as a question, L’écologisme, nouveau totalitarisme? (“Ecologism, the New Totalitarianism?”). The answer to which is a ringing, “Yes!”

But this is totalitarianism in the true sense of the word, not in the muddled way that this term is commonly tossed about in popular parlance. Ecologism (or environmentalism, as is more usual in English) seeks to take total control of all aspects of human life, even to the extent of determining how many people may actually live on this planet.

Such totalizing means that human life itself can no longer be possible outside the parameters established and policed by environmentalism. Thus, the various curtailments of human liberty that we now agree as acceptable – hate speech laws, rights legislation, indigenization, the green initiative, fewer births and declining populations – these are all slow entrenchments of totalitarianism, where humanity is purely defined by the logic of environmentalism. But notice that this creed is always clothed in the appearance of morality, as being the “right” thing to do. And people for the most part love such clothing, because there yet remains a deep hunger for morality, despite avowed atheism. As such, environmentalism is the new religion whose tenets Goidefridi thoroughly explores.

The English translation of the book, recently published, bears a more sinister title, The Green Reich. The question in the original has now been transformed into a cogent warning, wherein the future is hyper-Hitlerian, in which all of humanity will be held in the same contempt as the Jews in Hitlerian ideology. And Godefridi makes it very clear that the grim program of the environmentalists is far more comprehensive and thorough than anything Hitler could imagine. But the aim is similar; only the labels have shifted – to return purity to nature, to the planet, through the destruction of verminous humanity.

Two common presuppositions that undergird all aspects of environmentalism are that the planet is over-populated, and therefore, there is overconsumption of resources. This results in harmful waste, especially CO2.

These Neo-Malthusian assumptions then proceed to fashion “solutions,” which must be implanted, in order to combat the glut of humanity. Thus, the population of the planet must first be reduced. This will greatly lessen the consumption of natural resources, which will eliminate C02. Therefore, very few humans, and perhaps none, should live on this planet, in order for earth to continue to live on into the future. Nature now is far more important than humanity, because humanity is seen as inherently unnatural, entirely alien to the planet. In effect, mankind is a terrible disease, from which earth needs to be cured.

Stark choices always construct the most powerful narratives, because they demand totalizing solutions. Thus, the deeply ingrained Christian habit of the Western world, of trying to be moral in action and thought, is weaponized against humanity, by making morality an efficient tool to achieve the goals of environmentalism. Humanity has gravely sinned against the planet and now must sacrifice itself in order to give an afterlife to mother earth. Here is the devastating consequence of Western Godlessness – sublimating redemption into self-annihilation. Thus, humanicide is the cardinal virtue of environmentalism. Since humanity is the greatest threat to the planet, humanity itself must find ways to limit its own potential to do harm. And the best limitation is self-elimination.

The book opens with a rather chilling dialogue, set in a stark future, between a father and son, after the “Great Stop” (i.e., the world, as we know it, has been stopped). It is a zero-carbon dystopia, where humanity proudly wears the badge of “Accursed Parasite,” and therefore the human population is slowly but surely being wound down. A nation of sixty-million now has 24 million – and counting.

Each human is allowed monthly CO2 rations, which means there is no travel, you must eat what is allowed, and live in prescribed accommodations. There are no schools or labor of any kind – what would be the point, since there is no world to build, let alone a future generation to prepare to inhabit it. Rather, the world is only there to be unbuilt. And the earth is worshipped as the goddess, Gaia, the all-wise mother, in whose praise the impieties of historical “Terracide” are remembered as piety, from a time when humanity was barbaric and given to robbing the earth of its wealth. Such is the new “holy” wisdom. Each human properly belongs to the “Official Altruistic Death Program” that encourages people to voluntarily “humusate” themselves (that is, made into humus, which is so very useful to Gaia). When the last human is thus composted, the planet finally will be able to recover from the destructive human presence and rejuvenate itself. Gaia utterly cleansed of humanity is the highest virtue.

The points in this dialogue are based on actual studies put out by environmentalist “scientists;” none of it is fantasy; only the conceit of the dialogue is imagined. In effect, environmentalism is an anti-human death-cult. To that end, The Green Reich makes some very disturbing connections, which should really make people question the kinds of politics that they are advocating when they hand power over to ideologues who say they want to “save the planet.”

Godefridi points out that the environmentalists’ only talking point is the vilification of CO2. Few people (voters) understand what is at stake here. Humanity is carbon, as is all of life – the very act of breathing is the constant emission of CO2. All life needs carbon; earth is dead without it. So, phrases like “carbon-neutral,” “decarbonization” and “carbon-free” become code-words for a human-neutral, dehumanized, human-free planet.

Once these code-phrases become part of everyday thinking, humanicide itself becomes that much easier to implement, because people will actually want to have a future that will have zero CO2 emissions – that is, a future without human beings.

The first stage of this program involves the end to all fossil fuels, the burning of which is held to be the greatest crime, or catastrophe. Here “local” takes on a drastic meaning, for you will only be able to travel as far as your own two feet can take you, the combustion engine having been outlawed. Thus, no cars, ships, planes or trains. And once herded into state-designated locales, humans will be that much easier to cull. Do you see how much more efficient this is over Hitler’s ghettoization of the Jews? For example, there are some environmentalists who object to relief aid for famine-stricken areas – because they see famine as a boon to the life of the planet. The more humans that can be wiped out, the better.

A localized humanity will also have to eat differently, because animals raised for food emit far too much CO2. This means that entire industries and livelihoods will be dismantled and eliminated, and a vague sort of veganism will be mandated. Food will serve no purpose, because life will no longer have intrinsic worth, which means that it will become harder and harder to justify human life as a good in itself.

Next, given the elimination of entire food groups, human health will undergo a drastic shift for the worse, as nutrition and medicine will become pointless – the end-game being depopulation. Keeping a human alive for years on end will serve no purpose whatsoever, especially since said human needs and sheds CO2 constantly. But the dystopia is not over just yet.

As already stated, the fundamental premise of environmentalism is its anti-human agenda. Thus, the direst disaster that human beings bring upon this planet is to give birth to more human beings. Babies are the greatest enemies of environmentalists, as these little, new humans produce too much CO2, and besides are guarantors of the CO2 cycle grinding on well into the future. Therefore, births must be reduced, if not eliminated, where child-bearing will be a moral and legal crime. Ultimately, environmentalism is a purified form of antinatalism, purified because human life is seen as harmful in its very essence, not simply because of its actions, or its outcomes. It is no longer about too many humans – the very fact that human life itself exists is bad – because humanity is a parasite upon the earth.

Godefridi describes the environmentalist ethic as “physisist,” where the being of the planet is more valuable than human beings. This down-grading of humanity as the least desirable type of life-form means that nature is the preferred value which supersedes any and all value that humans have given to themselves. It is now the job of environmentalist “thinkers” to brainwash humans into disavowing their own value. The planet cannot be saved with humans on it.

Such self-loathing is delivered for consumption via the education-media-culture conglomerate, where “norm criticism” (that pusillanimous mental exercise that sees every form of Western thinking to be inherently evil and fit only for eradication) is the ideology de rigueur. Thus, a habit of self-loathing is now the proper way to “think,” which makes environmentalist propaganda a breeze to disseminate. Hatred now is the most valuable cultural currency.

There are also various offshoots of antinatalism that derive their moral justification from environmentalism, such as, the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement and the Church of Euthanasia, both of which, as is obvious, work to rid the planet of humans, though Godefridi does not get into these. Such movements may seem laughable and loony – but notice that they are offered no real opposition. People simply accept the lie that there should not be to many people living on this planet. And it really is an elaborate lie.

This is because no objection to antinatalism is now even possible in the West, given the normalization of abortion, and now transgenderism and pedophilia. Everybody has already bought into the premise that there are too many people on this planet, and therefore people really must have fewer and fewer babies.

No one questions this assumption, let alone seeks to destroy it. No one in power disputes it – because such politicians are put into office by voters who have already accepted the Malthusian presuppositions of environmentalism. So, who will truly have the last laugh?

Many are the “philosophers” who promote this anti-human agenda, such as, Peter Wessel Zapffe, Michel Onfray, Thomas Ligotti, Martin Neuffer, Jean-Christophe Lurenbaum, E.M. Cioran, David Benatar, Gunther Bleibohm, and Julio Cabrera. Their etiology is rooted in the German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer. What they advocate is now no longer unimaginable; it even passes for “scientific” truth – the Chinese one-child policy is the perfect example of what can be done with the right kind of “help” from the government. Again, the basic tenets of environmentalism are accepted without question by the voting public.

It would have given Godefridi’s argument fullness if he had spent some time examining the deep connections that environmentalism has with antinatalism. However, his book is more of a philosophical essay rather than a history of those ideas that are now preparing us for mass extinction.

And, as such, Godefridi has written a stirring and urgent call to action for all humanity. We need to abandon the differences that always play so prominent a role in how we manage this world. Instead, we need to unite and confront the true enemy at the gates – the death-cult that is far too quickly gathering momentum and adding devout and powerful believers into its folds. If we do not come together and defeat this pernicious ideology, we may not survive the looming Holocaust that environmentalism is now preparing for us. This is Godefridi’s urgent message.

Indeed, environmentalism has had great successes. It has convinced the majority of the public that what it claims is scientific truth. It has convinced governments to implement anti-carbon policies, which are anti-human policies. It has convinced people not to have children. It has convinced people to panic whenever the environment is mentioned (eco-anxiety) – high emotions are the best way to bring about quick change. It has convinced people to work against their own humanity, not only their own interests.

Only time will now tell how willingly people will allow themselves to be humusated, for humanity has largely accepted the Great Myth that it is the source of all problems that are said to face the planet – because it is the “Accursed Parasite.”

Perhaps it is for this reason that Godefridi chose a more ominous title for the English version of his book, wherein the “logic” of Hitlerism concerning Jews is now extended to include all of humanity. In the emerging Green Reich, we are all indeed Jews. And for us, who constitute the Accursed Parasite, there is only the Final Solution, the ultimate Holocaust, so that the noble planet may at last be purified of its most pernicious disease. It would seem that most humans have now been conditioned to agree, because they accept everything that environmentalism preaches as the gospel-truth. Therefore, most have already decided that people really do need to disappear.

All hail the Green Reich!

The photo shows, “Doomsday Abstraction,” by Zdzislaw Beksinski.

Insipid Christianity

Rusty Reno, editor of the prominent religious conservative journal First Things, here couples an original diagnosis of how we got to the vicious decay of now with very muted prescriptions. This is a good enough book, earnest and intent, but it is cramped. Reno offers as an alternative not strong gods, nor even coherent positive visions of the nationalism and populism of the title, but only the tired and repeatedly failed call to return, though some unspecified mechanism, to vaguely conceived virtue.

I’m all for virtue, but Reno refuses to acknowledge that, more likely, and more desirable, the strong gods are those who will inevitably, as Kipling said, with fever and slaughter return, to scour the Earth in preparation for the rebirth of actual, living virtue.

In brief, this book is an extended attack on the so-called open society, created by the so-called postwar consensus of how the West should believe. We are all indoctrinated that the open society, never really defined, is wonderful, so Reno’s attacking it at first seems like attacking Nutella. This is true for liberals, for whom unlimited openness has been the goal since John Stuart Mill, and for twentieth-century conservatives, who were long taught to associate openness with anti-Communism, and thus saw no reason to question it, until its poisoned fruits came to full ripeness.

I don’t disagree with any of Reno’s extended history and analysis of the open society; I just think it’s too limited. As with Reno’s 2017 book, Resurrecting the Idea of a Christian Society, he is too abstract, and will not grapple with what can be, and with what must be, done.

I am much exercised, as regular readers know, with the very recent split among conservatives, between those who have come to reject the whole of the Enlightenment as a dead end, broadly speaking, characterized as post-liberals, and those who accept Enlightenment principles, and thus the premises of their enemies, and merely want to dial back some excesses, or if denied that by their masters, reach Left goals a little slower. No points for guessing which group has been in charge while conservatives have gone down to crushing defeat again and again.

Reno does not fall clearly into either group, which I think is meant as a compromise among ever-louder competing voices, but is really an unstable balancing act, in which Reno finally falls between two chairs.

He starts by acknowledging post-liberals such as Patrick Deneen and (an early voice) Alasdair MacIntyre, and if I had not read this book, I would have guessed that Reno mostly agrees with them. Yet, after some wavering, he comes down on the side of the Enlightenment—that is, of liberalism, of atomized freedom, and the destruction of all unchosen bonds in a desperate quest for total emancipation. For Reno, we find, it was not 1789, but 1945, which was the year that it all went wrong.

As Reno sums his view up, in his own italics, “The distempers afflicting public life today reflect a crisis of the postwar consensus, the weak gods of openness and weakening, not a crisis of liberalism, modernity, or the West.” Reno’s argument is that after the horrors of the first half of the twentieth century, the ruling classes of the West chose to create societies of “openness, weakening, and disenchantment,” in an explicit attempt to prevent the “return of the strong gods”—“the objects of men’s love and devotion, the sources of the passions and loyalties that united societies.”

Rather than simply trying to wall out only the terrible strong gods, the ruling classes chose to wall them all out: truth along with fascism; loyalty along with Communism.

At least Reno openly rejects any need for preemptive apologies, wherein as a conservative he would, in the past, have been expected to first talk at length about the evils of Nazism and fascism, and dissociate himself from them. He refuses, since he knows this is a propaganda trick used to make conservatives behave and look weak.

Instead, he begins with something unexpected, but apt—a lengthy attack on Karl Popper, whose The Open Society and Its Enemies he identifies as the first philosophical attempt to create the postwar consensus under which openness was the first and only commandment.

Popper rejected claims of metaphysical truth and insisted we must each seek, and create, our own meaning—not truth, merely meaning, a small and ambiguous word. Reno then draws a straight line from Popper to George H. W. Bush’s infamous 1990 address to the United Nations, where he demanded that we create “a new and different world . . . of open borders, open trade, and, most importantly, open minds.”

With the Left, all words have special meanings, and here it is no different. “Open” here means not actually open, but closed against the strong gods and minatory toward their adherents. “Open” does not mean free, but coercive—Ryszard Legutko’s “coercion to freedom,” where “democracy” only happens when votes are for the Left, and “liberalism” is where Left social goals are realized. It is no coincidence that that evil little troll, George Soros, was a student of Popper, and named his left-wing pressure group, most famous recently for losing the vicious battle it waged against the Hungarian people, “The Open Society Foundations.”

But none of this is acknowledged by Reno, who does mention Soros, but fails to draw the obvious conclusion: that calls for the “open society” have, and always had, a double purpose—to avoid totalitarianism of the Right, and, just as importantly, to enthrone totalitarianism of the Left. He is so busy being thoughtful that, as in the Edgar Allan Poe tale “The Cask of Amontillado,” he is walled in by his enemies by the time the talking is done.

In Reno’s analysis, Popper was followed and reinforced by many others: men such as Arthur Schlesinger and Theodor Adorno, avatar of the Frankfurt School and author of The Authoritarian Personality.

Critically, though, it is not only from such obvious leftists that Reno derives the “postwar consensus.” He also identifies conservatives equally responsible. For example, he draws a tight connection between Popper and Friedrich Hayek.

Hayek’s main target was central economic planning as leading to totalitarianism, but in so doing, Hayek exalted individual choice and rejected any concept of the common good, except as arising through individual choice. Government regulation was permitted, to be sure, but only to effectuate individual choices in achieving maximum freedom of play. Social consensus for Hayek was a threat, if it was anything but hortatory, unless it was directed to achieving freedom of individual action.

During the Cold War, this was a powerful anti-Communist vision, which conservatives endorsed, not seeing the sting buried within. Reno points out that “Like those in the 1990s who predicted that capitalism would bring democracy and freedom to China, Hayek believed that the market mechanism is intrinsically anti-totalitarian.” Hayek was wrong, as we can see both from China, and from our own budding totalitarian combination of the Lords of Tech and woke capitalism.

And, compounding his sin in the eyes of elderly conservatives who, for some reason, still burn incense at the altar of William F. Buckley, Reno analyzes how Buckley, starting with God and Man at Yale, similarly rejected in practice any focus on the common good and himself exalted atomized individual choice—probably helped along by being called a racist and fascist for even the modest endorsement of public virtue in his first book, combined with his keen desire to continue to be socially accepted by Left circles in New York, which the name-calling threatened to prevent.

As we all know, Buckley spent much of his energy for decades thereafter policing the Right, throwing out anyone who was anathema to the Left, and ended his life having accomplished nothing. He didn’t fight Tolkein’s Long Defeat, he fought his very own Short Defeat, and took us down with him.

Reno attributes Buckley’s insipid approach to that “he intuited, at least in part, that he could engage in public life only if he adapted his arguments to the growing postwar consensus in favor of the open society. That meant no strong gods—no large truths, no common loves, and no commanding loyalties.” (This is the closest Reno gets to actually defining the “strong gods”).

Hewing to this line was the only way to “give conservatives a place at the table,” but over time, “the tactic became a strategy.” Maybe so, but more likely Buckley was simply not the right man for the job. That doesn’t mean there was a right man for the job—Reno endorses Yuval Levin’s thesis in The Fractured Republic that postwar America was doomed to follow this path. At this point, though, who knows?

In any case, that’s all in the first chapter; it’s mostly history. Unfortunately, three-quarters of the book is mostly history, and repetitive history at that, viewing the creation of the open society from slightly different angles. Reno, for example, ties the initial impulse to avoid totalitarianism to the growth of multiculturalism, a “therapy of disenchantment” that denies any role for the strong gods of one’s own society.

In another thread, Reno describes how, for a time, the Great Books were emphasized, not to teach truth, but to allow each reader to draw his own conclusions. Reno does not engage Patrick Deneen’s argument that the Great Books themselves are, mostly, part of the problem rather than the solution, since most of them are works of the Enlightenment.

Since Reno denies that there was any societal problem prior to 1945, that is no surprise, but again, it makes Reno’s argument neither fish nor fowl among contemporary conservative debates, and it feels like whistling past the graveyard.

Thus, Reno attributes the decay that began in the 1960s and accelerated thereafter to an excessive attachment to the open society, not to Enlightenment principles. For him, it is a problem of disenchantment, and he seems in some places to think that we could have held the center if not for that obsession.

The truth is that the open society is, of course, merely a later manifestation of John Stuart Mill and his kind. While Reno mentions Mill in passing, he insists that all this is a postwar phenomenon. This is unconvincing. The open society is merely the latest guise of the Enlightenment project, protean as usual, able to pretend in one decade that it is the antidote to fascism and in another to fascistically force bakers to bake cakes for perverts. Reno simply skates on by these crucial matters.

Regardless, we are taken on a long ride, through Milton Friedman through Jacques Derrida and, oddly, repeated references to the lightweight economics blogger Tyler Cowen, along with a long discussion of Italian writer Gianni Vattimo.

We also touch on modernist architecture as emblematic of the open society, identity politics as the Caliban of the open society, and, citing Douglas Murray, how the open society results in leaders who hate their own people, something even more on display in Europe than here, though Hillary Clinton certainly gave Angela Merkel a run for her money.

Finally, we get to solutions. Well, not really. We instead get Émile Durkheim, who first pointed out, in 1912, that the Enlightenment had destroyed the old gods, and new ones were yet to be born. (Reno does not seem aware that his endorsing Durkheim suggests that he is wrong that the problems arose primarily after 1945).

We get a Durkheimian definition of the strong gods: “whatever has the power to inspire love.” We get talk of “we” and of the res publica, and a note that “the open-society therapies of weakening” cannot overcome the bad strong gods, “the perverse gods of blood, soil, and identity.”

Then we get a petering out, ten pages of rambling about “us” and recovering virtue, recommending mild nationalism and highly limited populism, “new metaphysical dreams,” concluding “Our task, therefore, is to restore public life in the West by developing a language of love and a vision of the ‘we’ that befits our dignity and appeals to reason as well as our hearts.”

What this would look like or how to get there we are not told. Weirdly, Reno is even aware that this is totally unsatisfactory, noting in his Acknowledgements that all his readers “warned me that I come up short in my final chapter.” If I were told that, I would rewrite my book, but Reno seems to think this is some kind of virtue.

Throughout the book, Reno is unwilling to follow his own thoughts, shrinking time after time from the obvious conclusions because he is afraid of being seen as too devoted to the wrong strong gods.

For example, after noting the deficiencies of mass democracy, he maintains that it is a “blessing,” because, you see, it “encourages [the populace] to transcend their me-centered existence,” a thesis for which he gives no evidence and which is contrary to all historical fact.

He even points out that “the freedom Romans loved was not individual freedom but the freedom of the city, the liberty of a people to make its own laws and embark on its own projects.” Yet he cannot see that exalting autonomic individuality is fatal, and its origin has nothing to do with 1945.

Self-hobbled, therefore, Reno offers not strong gods, but merely what remains of the strong gods after being emasculated by the Enlightenment, and he has no plan for releasing even them from the pen in which our rulers have confined them.

But you are in luck today. I’ll do what Reno fails to do—I’ll tell you what should be done with the strong gods, or rather, what will happen with the strong gods, who, after all, exist whether we want them to or not. It is instructive to note that the cover of this book features a statue that, at first glance, appears to be the Archangel Michael, a young, winged man with a sword.

It is not the Archangel, though. I had to dig outside the book (which does not refer to its cover art) to find out what the statue is. It is a detail of a monument in Madrid, the “Monument to the Heroes of the Second of May,” commemorating Spaniards executed in 1808 by the French after an armed uprising against Napoleonic occupation, a precursor to the Peninsular War. (This is the same event shown in the famous Goya painting of a firing squad).

The specific virtue of which the statue is meant as an allegory is “Patriotism.” Meditating on this shows the wrong turn in Reno’s approach. For him, patriotism is a gauzy love, one that can be shared by all, with overtones of ice cream and Independence Day parades. He calls it a strong god, nonetheless, since it has to do with human loves.

Yet we must recognize that it is not for nothing that the angel carries a sword, drawn for action. He seeks not delicious cold treats, but blood, for his enemies hem him round, having already slain his companions, and he stands ready to strike, for God and country—as did the Spaniards whom the angel commemorates.

Reno calls for unity, but fails to perceive, or admit, that unity cannot be accomplished among a people that lacks sufficient commonality to share a joint concept of ordered liberty. He precisely analyzes the so-called open society, and its effects, but refuses to draw the obvious conclusion—that its principles have corroded the foundations of American society, so unity is impossible until the corroded foundations are rebuilt. And that they can only be rebuilt in a manner such that Left, or Right, will rule permanently, and the other suppressed permanently.

Where wholly incompatible visions of the good live side by side, someone must rule. Today that is the Left—the hard Left in all social matters, and the neoliberal Left, combined with segments of the supposed Right, in economic matters, papering over our social pathologies with consumerism. We are propagandized that this is natural, inevitable, and unchangeable.

But in truth, as it is said, past performance is no indicator of future results.
What we need, and what Reno should have called for, is the return of the real strong gods, those that fired the imagination of men like Hernán Cortes, Godfrey of Bouillon, and Robert Gould Shaw. They will bring unity, a unity of the Right that permits us to win the power to rule.

Since the Left never, ever, ever, voluntarily gives up even one crumb of power, the resulting conflict will likely be violent (certainly, the Left has already embarked on widespread violence against the Right, proving my point).

The alternative is waiting for years, or decades, as the Left finishes its project to choke the life out of the West, then collapses utterly as reality catches up, no doubt leading to a long dark age. We should not permit it, nor allow their crimes to be visited upon future generations.

What will initiate open, two-sided conflict, if it comes, is opaque now, as it always is. Only in retrospect will it be obvious, yet we can be sure that as it comes, the real strong gods, of men’s love of family, of country, of righteousness, of justice, will return.

G. K. Chesterton, as usual, saw this a long time ago—that rather than interminable repression by the Left, “Likelier the barricades shall blare / Slaughter below and smoke above, / And death and hate and hell declare / That men have found a thing to love.”

This is far from the first time I have suggested violence is the near-inevitable end of our societal arc, and I risk being repetitive, so I will not belabor the topic, and hope to avoid it for a while after this review. Within the frame of his book, Reno nods to his desire for a Christian renewal, yet despairs of it. One suspects, though, that his renewal, if it arrived, would be insipid, unable to actually deal with the Left, and Cortes and Shaw would not be invited.

Insipid Christianity is not in short supply; we don’t need more of it. I have written in detail recently, in my review of Bronze Age Mindset, of the ferment on the post-Christian Right.

In this context, post-Christian does not mean anti-Christian; that we are a post-Christian society is, in large part, the fault of Christians themselves, and far from the worst choice is allying with those not Christian who at least do not hate and wish to destroy us.

I predict, in short, that this ferment on the Right, only a few bubbles of which are yet visible, will soon remake the world around us, through the agency of the real strong gods. Buckle up, and make ready, for I have little doubt that, soon enough, all our lives will be a lot more interesting.

Charles is a business owner and operator, in manufacturing, and a recovering big firm M&A lawyer. He runs the blog, The Worthy House.

The photo shows, “Casting Out the Mnney Changers,” by Carl Heinrich Bloch (1834-1890).

Back To The Bronze Age

I am fascinated by what is to come. For someone who came of age imbibing the narrow, facile, weak, always-second-place conservative pieties of the late 1980s and the 1990s, the chaotic fluidity of today’s Right is something entirely new. There are no straight lines of sight; all is a jumble of splintered mirrors.

In this chaos, of which Trump is only one manifestation, it is a sign of something, or rather of many things, that this self-published book by an pseudonymous author, calling for adoption of a supposed ethics of the Bronze Age, is receiving a lot of attention. And as much as I hate to admit it, or think I hate to admit it, the philosophy that runs through this book is likely to drive a lot of discourse, and action, in coming years.

True, this book is, by most measures, still obscure. It has not been reviewed in the New York Times, though I suspect that it will soon enough start making appearances there, none positive. For now, its traction is only on the Right, but there is a lot of traction there, because Bronze Age Mindset, strange to say, acts to coalesce the fragmented pieces of the Right, especially the youthful, disaffected Right, around a philosophy that rejects many of the more problematic elements of the non-mainstream Right.

Bronze Age Mindset is, I think, an attempt to maneuver around a core problem for new thought on the Right—that a great many of the vocal people on the Right are clowns with stupid ideas, easily used by their enemies and of negative value to a coherent future program. Bronze Age Mindset is best viewed as a cloaked attempt to find an attractive Right philosophy that leaves such clowns, especially the racists, behind, while still capturing those who believe in seeing reality as it is, even though it is forbidden by our rulers.

This attempt to create a new thing is the genius of Bronze Age Mindset, not the actual narrative, a good deal of which is insane—though I think the insanity is mostly a joke designed to distract as the rest of the book strikes home, making it a jujitsu tactic, persuasion disguised with juvenile humor.

Others on the mainstream Right have begun to recognize this. Michael Anton, whom I greatly admire, reviewed Bronze Age Mindset last month for the Claremont Review of Books, not unfavorably, of which more later. I can assure you, if you are not familiar with the Right ecosystem, that this is wholly unprecedented.

If you had said ten years ago that a man of Anton’s prominence, in a publication of such note, would write favorably about a book that demands a military government and a return to pagan ways of thinking, praises men from history who are now viewed as entirely retrograde, and rejects any role for women in public life, among many other sins, all offered with an unapologetic, feral glint, you would have been viewed as crazy. Yet here we are.

But first, of the book. The author of Bronze Age Mindset writes under the pseudonym Bronze Age Pervert. Usually he is referred to as BAP, not so much for simplicity but because endless recitation of the word “pervert” makes most people, including me, wince because it’s tasteless.

No doubt that is the author’s intention in picking the moniker; barbed jokes of this sort characterize much of his writing. His actual name, and everything about him, is a mystery, though he affects Slavic tics in his writing, and a Russian voice narrates a podcast BAP has recently launched, called for no apparent reason “Caribbean Rhythms,” to the six episodes of which I have also listened.

Some people are very focused on who BAP is. I don’t care who BAP is, though I suspect there is some chance, say thirty percent, he is Anton himself. What most of all characterizes BAP, and suggests he is either a fierce auto-didact or someone with an academic background, is constant references to history.

The majority of his historical references are to Ancient Greece. Machiavelli also shows up several times. He refers to other interesting writings, such as Steven Runciman’s truly obscure The White Rajahs. It surprises me that he has not been doxxed; either he is very, very good at covering his tracks, or he has not gotten enough prominence. If and when he is revealed, the results may be very interesting—or completely uninteresting.

Either way, the book rewards close attention, since what BAP says is not always precisely what he means, and this is deliberate. The very first sentences of the book exemplify this. “This is not a book of philosophy. It is exhortation.” But that is a false dichotomy; such head fakes are common in this book.

Bronze Age Mindset is both, and it contains quite a bit of distilled philosophy. Or, rather, applied philosophy. It is meant to be an exposition of “the thought that motivates me and the problem faced by life in ascent and decline.” The philosopher most admired by BAP is Friedrich Nietzsche, although many other philosophers, mainly Greek, ranging from Heraclitus to Empedocles, make appearances, and Schopenhauer is also often featured.

I have no idea if any of what BAP says actually comports with Nietzsche, or Schopenhauer, for that matter, about whom I know nearly nothing, but that is not the point—broadly speaking, BAP’s philosophy is Nietzschean, if by that is meant a post-Christian view focused on hierarchy and power.

The basic points of the book can be boiled down. First, the few matter more than the many. The vast majority of humanity, today and since the dawn of civilization, has led lives of useless distress, under forms of slavery. But in all times and places, some men will not live under slavery. They are who matter. Second, all higher life inherently seeks space and dominance.

Not just territorial space, even more “space to develop inborn powers.” Offering examples from the animal kingdom, BAP says “All of this is higher organism organizing itself to master matter in surrounding space. Successful mastery of this matter leads to development of inborn powers and flourishing of organism. . . .”

What higher life wants is power and freedom, not mere survival and reproduction. This is the teleology of man. Human nature is real; very much is “in the blood,” inborn. Leftists foolishly pretend this is false. Fourth, the proper view on life is the “enchanted worldview.” This is not a reasonable, calm, hyper-rational worldview. It is more like “religious delirium,” and it is what characterizes all great men in their performance of great deeds, from warriors to artists to scientists.

The disenchanted worldview, in contrast, is “the tight-assed attitude of the science cultist and materialist.” It is worthless and no different than the outlook of slaves. And fifth, all these realities, and more, the “star of Nemesis,” have been concealed in our stupid modern world. But they will return, and soon, with fire and slaughter.

All this appears in the first of the four parts of the book. The rest of the book is an expansion and repetition. To give you a flavor, let’s take the second part, titled Parable of Iron Prison. The Iron Prison is the modern world, a place of “brokenness” and “denatured life.” Carl Schmitt is quoted, “They’ve put us out to pasture.” But, in a twist from most complaints about modernity, the modern world’s prison is “the return of a very ancient subjection and brokenness under new branding, promoted by new concepts and justifications.”

BAP does not spend time on listing the defects of modernity, though he frequently swipes at them when discussing other matters; instead, he direct us to Nietzsche in Thus Spake Zarathustra, and, interestingly, Michel Houellebecq, who has been getting a lot of play on the Right lately, though I have not read his writings myself. Then BAP offers a long series of discursive thoughts, such as pointing out that most cities, that is, most civilizations, throughout history accomplished nothing, but were rather “steaming ratpiles,” analogous to slums and shantytowns, and that small, orderly, well-run cities and city states are the exception.

Villages and other primitive life are no better; they tend to exalt the rule of women and weaklings. Then we get talk of Gnostic sects and the Demiurge. We go pretty far down the rabbit hole, with a near-endorsement of the Phantom Time Hypothesis and references to “far more advanced civilizations . . . buried beneath the ice” and to reincarnation. Wilhelm Reich and his “orgone” technology get a favorable mention, and we are told “Trump’s family knows the secrets of Tesla” (presumably not the car company).

The core point here, though, buried among apparent rambling, is that a good society must be one that “allows the ascent of life”—that is, human flourishing though mastering inborn powers. Very few societies do; that modern societies don’t is not news, but it is still a problem.

Well, sounds like a dreadful situation. What to do? In the last two parts of the book, BAP adds flesh to the way things should be. It would be hard to imagine a paradigm more unpalatable to the modern Left—but one which, crucially, avoids the bugbear-in-chief of the modern Left, racism. The chapter begins, “Life appears at its peak not in the grass hut village ruled by nutso mammies, but in the military state.

In Archaic Greece, in Renaissance Italy and in the vast expanse of the heroic Old Stone Age, at the middle of the Bronze Age of high chariotry, lived men of power and magnificence in great numbers. We are in every way their inferiors.”

Noting that the inscription Aeschylus put on his grave was that he had fought at Marathon, not that he was Athens’s most famous playwright, he notes “You know about their great art, science, and literature, or think you do. But these were men of conquest, exploration and adventure first. . . . You may not be able to emulate them in every way, because the age we live in is one of total repression, [but] you can still take some inspiration from their examples, and try to live the same in some way . . . try to live according to a Bronze Age Mindset.” In what does that consist? Vitality, and “the great aim, physical and military independence. Only the warrior is a free man.”

The ideal man is one free from the need to work who trains as a warrior. Leisure as rest is worthless. Politically, such men should rule. The men of power, that is, the free men, in ancient Greece were not racially bound, but bound to their city, culture, and language.

They “would never have submitted to abstractions like ‘human rights,’ or ‘equality,’ or ‘the people’ as some kind of amorphous entity encompassing the inhabitants of the territory or city in general. . . . [N]o real man would ever accept the legitimacy of such an entity, which for all practical purposes means you must, for entirely imaginary reasons, defer to the opinion of slaves, aliens, fat childless women, and others who have no share in the actual physical power.”

For a modern example, BAP cites Alfredo Stroessner, “dictator of Paraguay for forty years.” “The entire day he worked relentlessly for his country and to keep down the vicious and Satanic communist sect that would have massacred his people—but he also did this for his own glory!”

Then, in one of the funniest, but also most insightful, passages of the book, he imagines, or re-imagines, Mitt Romney as Alcibiades. It is unimaginable; that is BAP’s point. Instead, we have loss of vitality, spiritual exhaustion, and living in a state of fear. Therefore, any move toward the Bronze Age Mindset is magnetic. “[A] man like Trump, who seems not to care, and to find joy in this flouting and energy in this outrageous loosening—he seduces.”

The solution is not something new, a “futuristic flourishing that is not yet here.” (BAP is unlikely to be a fan of Archeofuturism and the Nouvelle Droit.) Instead, it is something old, the Bronze Age Mindset. “I want to give encouragement to some who are a certain way, in their blood, and to encourage them to become the purifying hand of nature.”

The bedrock mechanism of accomplishing this is male friendships. “[E]very great thing in the past was done through strong friendships between two men, or brotherhoods of men, and this includes all great political things, all acts of political freedom and power.” Modernity rejects this, consensus and inclusivity (not a word BAP uses, but apt) are demanded because the characteristics of male friendships, and what results, “make women and weaklings uncomfortable.”

These friendships are not homosexual; BAP rejects even that the “Sacred Band” of Thebes was homosexual and claims that the obsessive search for historical homosexuality is a “misunderstanding and exaggeration promoted by the homonerds of our time,” pointing out, for example, that there is zero suggestion in Homer that Achilles and Patroclus were homosexuals, yet they had the type of bond BAP admires. (BAP is at least partially wrong here as a historical matter; the Greeks did to some degree engage in homosexual practices as bonding, though they were not “gay” relationships in the modern sense in any way).

The goal is to become a superman, like Periander of Corinth, subject to nobody, and accomplishing great things for their own sake. Morals have nothing to do with it; such a man is above morals. BAP even admires men like Nero as described by Suetonius, and Agathocles as described by Machiavelli.

Then BAP switches gears, to more modern times, with a long profile of “the most glamorous Christian prince for me,” Conradin, grandson of the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, the “Stupor Mundi.” Conradin is quite obscure; he was executed in 1268 at age sixteen after fighting, leading, and losing in the complex Italian wars of the time, but who briefly held the titles King of Sicily and King of Jerusalem.

For BAP, Conradin, shooting star, was “the renewed avatar of Apollo in Europe, recalling very old memories.” Next we get a strong endorsement of men I also endorse strongly, crusaders and conquistadors, Cortes to Drake to Magellan and more, all men with a Bronze Age Mindset. Pedro de Alvarado, lieutenant of Cortes, who slaughtered the Aztec nobles while Cortes was away from Tenochtitlan, gets the most praise.

He was who he was, and made no excuses. “Alvarado was a nemesis to civilization, and this is right and good. God sends such men to chastise mankind. I want you to be like this: to listen to these instincts in you. . . . Alvarado is the avatar of our new age, and I predict this: within fifty years a hundred Alvarados will bloom from deep in the tropical bestiary of the spirit. They will sweep away the weakness of this world.” “So far we have only had Gracchi . . . but Caesars and Napoleons are sure to follow. A man of great charisma who can seduce the people with a wild spirit and break through the rule of the pervasive bureaucracy-media complex is our best hope for the immediate problem . . . and maybe our only hope.”

The Bronze Age Mindset is explicitly not racist. “There are far more races than people want to admit.” Men of any type can adopt the Bronze Age Mindset. BAP’s focus is culture.

The Greeks looked down on the slave cultures of the Orient, but admired, to some degree, the barbarians, whether European or Scythian—BAP adroitly points out this attitude among the Greeks lasted very long, up to Anna Comnena and the Alexiad. “In spirit I would say even now the European has much more in common with the African than with the ‘Asian’ [who has a slave mentality] . . . I know many dorks who fetishize IQ above all will disagree with this.”

Anybody can have the right culture, but very, very few do have. Not just the Greeks or Europeans, though; the Comanche and the Polynesians also get a nod. Plenty of groups, races among them, come in for various abuse, offensive to modern tender sensibilities, but it’s not racism, just some combination of realism and jerkiness.

It’s all very pagan, of course, in that way common to post-liberal post-Christians. The book’s epigraph is “VICTORY TO THE GODS!” No surprise, BAP has an uncertain and tenuous relationship with Christianity. Mostly he ignores it, but he admits that many of his ideal men were very Christian. Of them, he says “The Church was embarrassed by them . . . by their cruelty and their pagan love of vitality and action, so tried to disavow them while making use of their strengths.”

That’s not really true, as a historical matter. In those days, the Church did not try to disavow them, although the most dreadful crimes against the Indians were debated, due to men such as the monk Bartolomé de las Casas. In the modern world, though, Christians aren’t BAP’s target; quite the contrary. “Offending Christians in political movements is stupid, when they’re one of the last bastions against a common enemy. If their beliefs are corrupted, they can be reformed.”

He means real Christians, of course, not leftists with a Christian veneer. The torrent of contempt he would direct at, say, the odious lesbians and feminine men who run the Presbyterian Church USA would, I am sure, be impressive to behold.

BAP doesn’t spend that much time attacking the Left; they are self-defeating bugmen, after all, even if they for now hold the levers of power. Under the right pressure, they will crumble, just as the settled peoples of the Middle East crumbled under the Sea Peoples.

He spends more time attacking today’s conservatives. “The old, exhausted conservatism; place you see like National Review, third-rate publications like that, which isn’t real conservatism. We are real conservative; we pay attention to how life is actually lived.” I couldn’t have put it better myself. In one of his podcasts, for example, BAP notes that when the Supreme Court imposed “catamite marriage,” so-called conservatives “took it like a catamite.” True enough.

Certainly, though, if you are a woman, and even more if you are a woman raised on modern so-called feminist pieties, this book will make your head explode. Even I, who think that a return to many aspects of traditional sex roles (which were not at all the fictional oppression we are told they were) is both desirable and necessary, and will be a pillar of Foundationalism, think BAP takes this too far.

But then, he takes everything too far. It is not that BAP says women are inferior, though the Bronze Age Mindset as he outlines it is surely not available to women, being male in its nature. In fact, the feminine mindset is corrosive of the Bronze Age Mindset.

The key for a good society is recognizing that women are not men; they “live in and for the genius of the species.” Or they should. Instead, “Modern women have given up this great advantage, so they can become neurotic copies of gay desk-workers. They’ve abandoned the great power endowed in their blood.” BAP attacks the idea that women should be “free” in the modern sense. “Liberation of women means freedom and power for financiers, lawyers, purveyors of comforts in and outside government, employers who whore out your wives and daughters.”

Not that women should be confined to the home, or lose the vote—in fact, women are most likely to vote for the man to come who exemplifies the Bronze Age Mindset.

If women hadn’t lost respect for men, the idea of “liberation” would have seemed pointless and laughable; feminism is therefore merely an epiphenomenon of societal decay. “This is why it’s so ridiculous to hear these ‘conservatives’ yap on about honor, or glory, or sacrifice, or any of this garbage. The respect in all institutions and all leadership classes and all traditional authority has already been lost long ago, and for good reason. Feminism then is the revolt of women against the outrage of democracy. They have been in revolt against the inability of the bugman to command authority or respect.”

In other words, women are viscerally attracted to power. Which is true, of course. But BAP sees this as a one-way street. He rejects the “game” or pickup culture attractive to many young men on the chaotic Right (though he correctly sees that is a gate to realizing that the “lords of lies,” our rulers, are lying about much more than the truth about men and women, something I had not appreciated until now).

But he does not see society as a partnership between men and women; whatever precisely he says, he views women as inferior and subordinate in the Bronze Age Mindset. He offers no chivalry (a system with mutual obligations) but does offer lots of negative talk about “viragos” “getting their hooks in you,” and so forth. I suppose he is technically complaining about women in the decayed modern system, but it’s not clear what role BAP does want women to play in a well-run society, and there are zero positive depictions of women, except in the abstract as young and hot.

Certainly, women as warriors or battle leaders is laughable, but women upon occasion in the councils of power, and constantly of great influence behind the scenes, is the historical reality, and recognizing that in the structures of a renewed society is critical.

This failure to appreciate the role of women beyond a narrow one strikes me as a huge hole, to the extent any of BAP’s writing is meant as a serious political program. True, straight men are the most oppressed group in America today, so preaching a gospel of liberation only to them makes a certain amount of sense. (Actually, it is not quite right they are the most oppressed group.

They are the group on which our ruling classes focus the majority of their hatred and attacks. But there is a strong countervailing element of the Lilliputians tying down Gulliver, so the attempted oppression is not wholly successful. It is most definitely perceived and felt by its targets, however, which is what matters for these purposes.) Nonetheless, offering a joint program to men and women is crucial.

The lords of lies tell falsehoods to both, after all. Of course, any program can and should recognize that men and women are different, but to, in essence, treat women as close to non-entities, or, worse, instrumentally, as rewards for male exercise of power and risk, is going to be fatal to any program, not because women will always be seduced by the lies of so-called feminism, but because they are not stupid or lacking self-interest.

Offering something that recognizes that men and women are partners, who are looking for joint gain and who accomplish that best in coordination, is the only path to a successful program.

That assumes what BAP offers is meant as an actual program. This is not a safe assumption. Certainly, much else of this is terrible as a political program. Most of all, a state run by Pedro de Alvarados would be awful, and collapse swiftly.

The key is to recognize the distinction between such men, “pirates” as BAP calls them admiringly, and his other avatars, mentioned only in passing, Caesar, Augustus, and Napoleon. Such men certainly had a compartment within themselves that held the Bronze Age Mindset, but it was one among many. BAP does not note that Caesar, captured by pirates in his youth, when ransomed hunted down the pirates who kidnapped him and executed them, just as he had told them he would when he was under their power.

Order and justice are as crucial to a society as is the development that comes from struggling to develop inborn powers. Perhaps this is the way to reconcile the Bronze Age Mindset and Christianity—through the vehicle of a specific man, say some combination of Augustus and Robert Gould Shaw, reborn.

So if not a program, what is this? It is a call to action, a call to shake off lethargy, packaged in a way to attract modern youth. As a charge laid against the foundations of modern society, it is well designed. As a political program, not so much. But that doesn’t matter to its author’s goals, I suspect.

Whatever the outlines of the future, BAP says, it needs to be, and will be, a lot different from the present. Hastening toward it is a good idea, though, and to get the right type of culture when the moment arrives, those who grasp the truth must prepare. BAP explicitly wants his disciples, or his exhortees, to prepare for the advent of the Man of Destiny.

He advocates allying, in essence under cover, with normal people on the Right. Don’t do “dork” things, he says, like be a white supremacist. Changes are likely to move fast, when they move, due to modern technology, and they will move to military government, most likely. True, the modern American military is filled with weaklings, homosexuals and women, which may delay change.

Therefore, BAP encourages his devotees to join the military, to learn, and to participate when the time comes. They should form brotherhoods, of a non-political nature, welcoming men of any race or creed (women must be excluded, and have their own groups). And one day, soon, their time will come.

Self-improvement is absolutely critical for BAP. He is in some ways like Jordan Peterson, if Peterson wolfed methamphetamine and mescaline. Maximizing personal beauty is very important. “Only physical beauty is the foundation for a true higher culture of the mind and spirit.” He wants everyone to get “sun and steel,” that is, to get actual sunlight and lift weights. (Although BAP does not mention it, his catchphrase “Sun and Steel” is taken from the title of a writing by Japanese ultra-nationalist Yukio Mishima, who recommended a similar program and whom BAP does mention in passing) .

This focus, combined with BAP’s frequent posting of pictures of male bodybuilders on Twitter, has led to many suggestions that BAP is homoerotic and over-focused on homosexuality. I think that’s exaggerated, but it is a little jarring.

There is, in fact, a group that, from what I know of them, attempts to live out the Bronze Age Mindset, though they arose before this book: the Proud Boys. Started a few years back by professional provocateur Gavin McInnes, they seem to embody much of what BAP recommends: close male friendships; open to all races (in theory, at least); in favor of strength and discipline; lots of inside jokes and pranks.

Of course, they were instantly crushed by the combined might of the Lords of Tech and what BAP calls the “bugmen” who rule us today. The opposite of the Proud Boys is either weak, feminine men (the masculine pseudo-ideal now exalted by the media and woke capital), or shiftless men, stupefied by video games and drugs, and often addicted to pornography (BAP’s theory is that modern hyper-sexualization, presumably including pornography, is a sign of weakness, a sign of life in “owned space”).

The lesson of the Proud Boys, whom BAP does not discuss, is that any organized group that embraces any Right principle that shows any signs of becoming a threat (as opposed to existing conservatives, who pose no threat at all) will be viciously attacked. One possible response is the turtle strategy, which BAP seems to partially endorse—not to stick your head out too far, while worming your way into the structures of power.

That seems unlikely to add recruits, though. Probably the only way such a group can be formed and grow rapidly is in times that are already actively chaotic, when confusion reigns and a focused attack response cannot be generated by the powers that rule.

Now let’s turn to the reaction of the Right to BAP. As I say, it is truly radical that Anton wrote a review of Bronze Age Mindset. Adrian Vermeule, who is not a National Review conservative and pushes the radical program of integralism, was equally incensed, so broad swathes of the Right see BAP as a threat, not just the National Review betas.

But I predicted five months ago that Anton had, without admitting it, moved on from being a Straussian, advocating a return to the principles of the Founding Fathers, to being an Augustan, a man who wants to break the system and reform it, someone focused on the uses and ends of power. His review, though not formal endorsement, of BAP suggests I was right. Also suggestive is that Anton begins his article by noting that Curtis Yarvin, at “a small dinner at my home,” introduced Anton to Bronze Age Mindset, gifting him a copy.

Within the article, he says he stuck with reading, despite initial disinterest, because Darren Beattie told him to. Yarvin is radioactive to the polite, catamite Right; Beattie, though less well-known, is too (whether justifiably or not, I can’t say). One likely possibility, it seems to me, is that Anton seems himself as the potential leader of a new thing, and is floating trial balloons to see what might work.

So, for example, don’t be surprised if another fraternal organization crops up, at a more opportune, fragile time, with Anton in a prominent role. Or perhaps the Proud Boys will resurge, and Anton will join. Stranger things have happened. In any case, what Anton is obviously doing is pushing the envelope, creating a more capacious space for growth of new things on the Right.

Despite the attention on the Right, however, this is all a very niche movement, so far. For example, the first episode on YouTube of BAP’s podcast, published two months ago, has accumulated less than 10,000 views. Joe Rogan, by contrast, regularly accrues millions of views for each of much more frequent podcasts. Anton concludes his review by claiming that “In the spiritual war for the hearts and minds of the disaffected youth on the right, conservatism is losing. BAPism is winning.”

Well, maybe, but if so, it’s a very small group we’re talking about. That could change, but Donald Trump has sixty million followers on Twitter; BAP, twenty-five thousand. As it is said, though, from little acorns giant oaks come. They just need the right soil and nourishment, and if BAP is right, those are coming, and soon.

Finally, what is most attractive of all about BAP and his Bronze Age Mindset, aside from his frequent laugh-out-loud humor, is that he’s very, and surprisingly, optimistic. He’s always dropping phrases like “But I think there must be someone as colorful as Alcibiades among you.”

The Bronze Age Mindset is not a dour one, focused on tax rates and grasping at modest government viewpoint neutrality. This flows from BAP’s recognition that the strongest weapon the Right has against the Left is the simple fact that reality cannot be denied forever, and that we are therefore destined to win—or, at least, they are destined to lose.

I’m not sure that’s reason for optimism, but only from positive energy can great new things be built, and positive energy is, no doubt, something that BAP offers by the bushel.

Charles is a business owner and operator, in manufacturing, and a recovering big firm M&A lawyer. He runs the blog, The Worthy House.

The photo shows a Scythian gold comb with the image of a battle scene, from the Solokha kurgan, 430-390 BC.

Debunking Some Science Myths

I had never heard of Geraint Hughes before but upon opening this book for the first time, I know he understands the lies we are being fed and seeks to debunk them one by one.

The first myth Hughes debunks is the nonsense about how a greenhouse actually works. For most young people, like myself, we were taught in school that back radiation heats the greenhouse, that the glass of the greenhouse returns the sun’s heat to the ground thus increasing the temperature however. But this is an unscientific falsehood.

A greenhouse actually works due to convection.

A strong convection current within the greenhouse creates a cycle of warming and cooling. The sun heats the earth which causes the air close to the ground to heat up and rise, it is trapped by the glass where it cools and falls back to the earth where the cycle repeats. Knowing this is the lynchpin of the Greenhouse Gas Theory.

The ‘greenhouse’ analogy completely falls apart already just knowing this, but Hughes continues to pick apart every lie the Alarmists use. The mission of the book is achieved step by step exposing the shocking truth that mainstream science claims about the Greenhouse Gas Theory are pure junk science garbage.

Most books I’ve encountered that focus on climate science are daunting to read. They require an understanding of physics and thermodynamics in order to carefully follow what we are being told.

Within the first 25 pages of Black Dragon I gleaned more insight into these issues than I found in my five years of senior school studying GCSE Physics.

Hughes makes the task easier by completely breaking down the science and equations he is using so that anyone can understand them. He then explains the physical application of this science and how it in no way relates to the Greenhouse gas Theory – which he repeatedly disproves.

Since I am a college undergraduate currently studying Bioscience – Chemistry, Biology and Psychology, one thing Hughes debunks really fascinated me; Hughes beautifully exposes the ubiquitous Climate Change in a Bottle experiment. The ridiculous Bill Nye ‘the non-science guy’ video of this is found here.

My old science teacher actually used this experiment to ‘educate’ us about Climate Change, but it completely misses out some glaringly obvious things that would affect the results.

For example, the experiment completely neglects the fact that the density of both Air and Carbon Dioxide are different and the specific heat capacity of both these gases is different, which would affect the rate at which these gases absorb IR.

Now, is this deliberate deception or simply the product of incompetence and misunderstanding among ‘experts’?

For me, the whole Climate Change narrative seems to be a case of the more you look, the less you see. What I mean by this is the more you focus on what you are being told, it reveals itself as completely wrong. Cautious (skeptic) minds need to take a step back and view it objectively – then everything becomes a lot clearer.

The whole section on Venus was interesting to read. Those spouting alarmist nonsense would have us believe Venus’ high temperatures are caused by a runaway greenhouse effect. But Venus’ temperature is due to its natural structure and formation, however, the interesting thing about this section isn’t the debunking myth about Venus but what we learn about Venus itself.

Throughout the book Hughes makes insightful and interesting points with strong evidence to prove why the various (sometimes competing) theories on Greenhouse Gas are incorrect.

One of the key things that will stick with me is that difference between Oxy and CO2 gas planets, Oxy or oxygen gas planets and Carbon Dioxide gas planets have very different temperatures for one simple reason – how emissive the abundant gas is.

Oxygen is far less emissive than CO2, therefore Oxy planets have higher temperatures, because of this it is impossible for CO2 to be the cause of global warming and Climate Change. While this isn’t the most comprehensive book I have read on the subject (it is quite short, just 152 pages), it is one of the most informative.

I highly recommend reading Black Dragon: Breaking the Frizzle Frazzle of the Big Lie of Climate Change Science if you have an interest in the subject, or even if you are just curious about the climate ‘hype’ – it is aimed at non-experts, so anyone should ‘get it.’

Courtesy Principia Scientific International.

The photo shows, Tiger in a Tropical Storm, by Henri Rousseau, painted in 1891.

Building Dystopia

High architecture, that of grand buildings, is a bridge between God and man, and a sinew binding state and people, the ruling class and the masses. Low architecture, that of daily living and daily use, is key to satisfaction in the life of a populace.

Thus, a coherent and uplifting architecture, high and low, is, and has always been, necessary for any successful society. I will return below to what architecture we should have, why, and what needs to be done to achieve it. Today, though, we most definitely don’t have a coherent and uplifting architecture, and Robert Stevens Curl, in Making Dystopia, explains what the abomination of Modernism is and why it utterly dominates our current architecture.

Curl’s aim is to prove that both architects and society have swallowed the most appalling lies, and been in thrall to the most stupid delusions, for many decades. And since architecture is not mere abstraction, but rather something that affects the lives of everyone, this is a societal disaster of the first order.

Built on propagandistic falsehoods designed to conceal the ideological nature of the project, Modernism is a cult, devoted to destroying opposition and both unwilling and unable to defend its myriad fatal debilities.

It has destroyed the urban fabric all over the globe, and thereby hugely harmed the social fabric. So-called post-modernist successors to Modernism, namely Deconstructivism and Parametricism, are little better. Curl offers no quarter; Modernism and all its works should be erased.

The author is a well-known British art historian, author of more than forty books. This book, written as an “exposé of the ideologies of those responsible for an environmental and cultural disaster on a massive scale,” with its great heft, thick paper, and numerous photographs, screams “expensive”—too expensive, in fact, for the casual reader, unfortunately.

Moreover, there is too much repetition and too much rantiness; the book could have done with less variation on the same prose points and more pictures to illustrate the innumerable references Curl makes in the text and the voluminous footnotes.

And Curl makes little or no effort to make his text accessible to someone who is a complete novice to architectural history (nor, for the same reason, is it possible for someone not well versed in architectural history, such as me, to wholly say how accurate the history Curl offers is).

The result is a book that is self-limiting. But I don’t think Curl wanted Making Dystopia to be a best-seller. I think he’s aware of the book’s limitations. He is old, and most likely his target is not casual readers, but young architects—those who have been or are being brainwashed in the vast majority of architectural schools today (the sole exception he mentions, repeatedly, is the University of Notre Dame).

I suspect that he mostly hopes that select audience will read his book as part of their education, and that he will, after he is dead, thereby help to break the stranglehold of Modernism. He even offers the reader a drawing of himself, dead in a chair, with a personified “Death come as a friend to continue ringing the warning bell.” In this context, the book as written makes perfect sense.

Most of Making Dystopia is straight history of Modernism, focusing in turn on several different times and places, alternating (often on the same page) with hammer-and-tongs attacks on Modernism.

Since any style known as “modern” risks circular definition, Curl begins with classification. Namely, that Modernism in architecture and modern design is that style “opposed to academicism, historicism, and tradition, embracing that which is self-consciously new or fashionable, with pronounced tendencies toward abstraction.”

It originated, and the word first began to be used, in the 1920s, to describe “the new architecture from which all ornament, historical allusions, and traditional forms had been expunged.” Modernism, in its 1920s post-war context, made a certain type of sense as an experimental movement.

But for reasons Curl identifies, none of which are that “Modernism is better,” it swallowed the world, becoming the global compulsory style and destroying much of the world’s urban fabric with stale, ugly, unrealistic, short-lived, and expensive buildings that did not fit their environment and made no effort whatsoever to serve their actual primary purpose—to be places in which to live and work, or to make grand statements unifying the society in which they were built. Instead, Modernism created the inhuman, uncomfortable and divisive.

Modernism as a self-limited, organically-arising, change, where the style would have soon enough have passed on like Art Deco or Art Nouveau, might have made some sense. Change is in the nature of art, and while Modernism was a rupture, not normal organic change, it could perhaps have been accommodated as one of architectural history’s dead ends.

Some of the early Modernist architecture has a certain stark beauty, after all. But why should a few architects, standing in opposition to thousands of years of organic movement, have succeeded in destroying in the way they did?

Curl chalks it up to the general turn among the taste-making classes against tradition and in favor of anything cast as “original,” which while problematic in literature or food, was disastrous in architecture, a far more public form of art with far broader consequences than fads in more ephemeral areas.

Whereas prior to the 1920s even an average architect could create nice-looking buildings that fit their purpose, in the urban landscape and for the people who lived or worked there, simply by using pattern books, now a vulgar supposed originality was required.

Modernism aimed at Utopian social engineering totally unmoored from the past. And as with other similar twentieth-century ideologues, by convincing the right people, in this case the taste-making classes and, just as importantly, big business, Modernists were successful in their engineering efforts.

Still, they required a mythology, in the way of kings fashioning false genealogies. This was provided by Nikolaus Pevsner, who in 1936 published the still-influential Pioneers of the Modern Movement (republished as, Pioneers of Modern Design), an attempt to tie admired nineteenth-century styles such as Arts and Crafts to the modernism of men like Walter Gropius.

It was Pevsner who made silly claims, believed by nearly all today, such as that the Glasgow School of Art was a Modernist building, rather than “a brilliant eclectic design, drawing on Art Nouveau themes,” which was organically derived from other styles, instead of being a rupture with them.

Curl deconstructs Pevsner at some length, giving numerous textual and pictorial examples of his “selectivity and exaggerated claims,” propaganda “based on wishful thinking,” since proving that Modernism was a rupture is key to Curl’s criticism of it. Curl’s goal is to undercut this “Grand Narrative,” which is ubiquitous among architects today, and show that Modernism has no clothes.

The real origin of Modernism was sui generis, in Germany immediately after World War I. Everything was up in the air, so architecture was too, and all the visual arts. In 1919 the Bauhaus art school was formed by Walter Gropius under government aegis.

Nominally apolitical, the Bauhaus was in fact a den of radical politics (liberally larded with nuttiness), harshly opposed to all tradition, whose artists regarded art as a necessary herald and handmaiden of political change, and human life as meaningless without reference to politics.

Although architecture was not the main focus of the Bauhaus, in the ferment of the 1920s its principles rapidly infected German au courant architectural thinking, both in terms of design and in the rejection of the need for any underlying skills in craft.

German architects in the 1920s and 1930s not only embraced Modernism, they also embraced architecture as part of system building. As Thomas Hughes discusses in American Genesis, the 1920s were the time when technological inventions became servants to their own creations, large systems built around new technology.

Modernist architects embraced this as the wave of the future—that is, the future was technology and machines, and buildings, rather than reflecting human uses, should now reflect machine uses, from electricity to motor cars.

In architecture, the Bauhaus had ties to the Deutscher Werkbund of the previous decade, a group devoted to experimentation in architecture in pursuit of integrating modern mass production techniques into industrial design, and this type of system became part of the ground for further drastic change in architectural style.

Curl offers innumerable examples, in narrative and in picture, of different architects and architecture of this time. The most influential architect to emerge from the Bauhaus was Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who over the period from 1910 to 1930 abandoned neo-Classicism for the so-called International Style of Modernism, much of which he originated.

Mies was a self-promoter eager to work for anyone in power; he was the last director of the Bauhaus, and having tried and failed to ingratiate himself with the National Socialists, he emigrated to the United States in 1937.

Many of the German avant-garde also emigrated; they later spun stories of their opposition to Hitler, some of which were true, but as Curl points out, the Nazis were not nearly as opposed to Modernist architecture as is often suggested—they were “ambivalent,” being most definitely not conservatives, but revolutionaries, and therefore attracted to certain of the ideological underpinnings of Modernist architecture. In particular, they “accepted Modernism for industrial architecture,” as well as for quite a bit of worker housing.

While some architects outside Germany expressed interest in Modernism, especially the long-lived and ever-varied Philip Johnson, making it a niche taste among the elite, it was only when many Bauhaus and Bauhaus-sympathetic architects emigrated from Germany (the “Bauhäusler”) that the International Style actually became international.

The Bauhäusler were eagerly promoted by ideological allies in the United States and Britain, and so rapidly became extremely influential, then dominant, then utterly dominant, in the Western architectural establishment, both among professional architects and among teachers.

It was not that a great deal of actually built architecture was modernist in the 1930s and 1940s; it was that all the taste-makers decided, nearly simultaneously, that the only type of architecture that was acceptable to the elite was Modernist. Architects who objected were pilloried, cast as bourgeois, marginalized, and sidelined.

The 1930s also saw the rise to international fame of the megalomaniac Frenchman Le Corbusier, that Rasputin, who became the most successful propagandist for Modernism, and established some of its most enduring dogmas, including divorcing all buildings from their context and siting, and pretending a house could be a “machine for living.”

This process continued, and even accelerated, after 1945, when actual construction of Modernist buildings began to dominate. For the next two decades, the cult resulted in the destruction of innumerable town centers and the construction of endless shoddy and ugly buildings totally unsuited for their claimed uses and unfitted for their sites, the very opposite of their claimed “functionalism.”

Modernism was never popular among people in general, but their betters told them what they needed. Without the eager cooperation of giant corporations, though, Modernism would never have succeeded in lasting as long or being as destructive.

Part of this was ideological (similar to “woke” corporate behavior today), through a successful propaganda campaign to cast Modernist architecture as representative of “progress” and “democracy, ” part of it was the desire to make profits by participating in industrial construction techniques (which, as Curl points out, were actually mostly more expensive than the classic techniques replaced, despite the claims of their proponents) and, as with General Motors, to destroy cities to make them better for cars.

(For that latter, Curl covers the famous revolt of Jane Jacobs against Robert Moses’s planned, and partly completed, destruction of New York). Anyone who disagreed was ignored or destroyed.

Curl also spends some time on post-Modernism, a varied set of styles, of which the two most prominent were, or are, Deconstructivism and Parametricism. The former, as its name implies, is deformations of Modernism, meant to provoke anxiety and unease among viewers and users.

The latter (of which London’s Shard is an example) is an attempt to use computer algorithms to construct non-linear buildings, mostly similarly disturbing but in a different way.

“Deconstructivism and Parametricism, by rejecting all that went before and failing to provide clear values as replacements, can be seen as intentional aggression on human senses, abusing perceptive mechanisms in order to generate unease, dislocation, and discomfort… Deconstructivism and Parametricism induce a sense of dislocation both within buildings and between buildings and their contexts. . . . By breaking continuity, disturbing relationships between interior and exterior, and fracturing connections between exterior and context, they undermine harmony, gravitational control, and perceived stability, [which is] crucial to any successful architecture.”

Now, I was curious what proponents of these post-modernist styles say about them. Maybe sense is coming back into fashion. So I went and read up what Patrik Schumacher, who named Parametricism in 2008 in a “Manifesto,” said. I knew we were in trouble when Schumacher called his own style “profound.”

Then he said tripe like “It cannot be dismissed as eccentric signature work that only fits high-brow cultural icons. Parametricism is able to deliver all the components for a high-performance contemporary life process. All moments of contemporary life become uniquely individuated within a continuous, ordered texture.”

Proponents of Deconstructivism say similar things. I wasn’t surprised, though I was disappointed. It’s obvious that both styles are merely the bastard children of Modernism, as can be seen by their use of the ancient technique of obfuscation through cant.

What does Curl want to happen? He calls for a reworking of both architectural education and the relationship of the public to architecture; the public should no longer allow itself to be treated as acolytes to the priests.

“Architecture is far too important to be entrusted to the products of talking-shops: as a public art, it matters hugely, and it cannot succeed unless it connects with the public in a positive way, conveys meanings, arouses resonances, reaches back to the past and forward to the future, and has the appearance of stability.”

Mostly, he wants a realization that Modernism is awful. He wants the spell to be broken; he offers less of a specific program than, like Puddleglum in C. S. Lewis’s The Silver Chair, a stamping on the Witch’s enchanted fire and thereby recalling himself, and his friends, to what was actually real and beautiful, as opposed to the unreality the Witch was trying to sell them.

This is fine as far as it goes, but that’s not really far enough. We should ponder what is the purpose of architecture, of buildings. As Curl says, “Architecture is the one art form which plays an important role in everyday existence.”

It is frozen music. Destroy architecture and you destroy a key component in binding a society together, through its role in offering a common art and through that, a common culture.

“Without the ability to comprehend basic truths about morality and beauty . . . humans are truly lost, adrift in a sea polluted with the flotsam and jetsam of discarded toys promoted by fashion, with nothing to which they can hold fast. High culture has been suppressed, even superseded, by advertising and the mass media. . . .”

In other words, architecture is the art that binds a society together. It is an antidote to centrifugal forces, including those so common in the modern world, whose destructive force is ever-building, yet tamped down by promises of unbridled freedom and the fool’s gold of consumerism, for now.

Foundationalism, my own aborning political program, is really two things: the renewal of society, or the rebuilding of a crumbled society, and the long-term maintenance of that society, both along lines recognizing reality, with a strong bias toward traditional Western knowledge and modes of thought.

No society can long exist, much less be a strong society, without a unifying component of the spiritual, in a broader sense than simply religious. Because, as I say, a coherent and uplifting architecture is necessary for any successful society, architecture, the right architecture, is the second of the pillars of Foundationalism.

The goal of architecture under Foundationalism will be a form of emotional resonance, where all sectors and levels of society feel they have something in common that ties them together and which impels to virtue.

Since Foundationalism envisions a bound society, tied together by many threads and wholly opposed to atomistic individualism, binding forces are critical to its creation and maintenance.

In Foundationalism, architecture will not be a set of rigid beliefs, an aesthetic canon for the elite, as is Modernism; it will instead, like governance, be an organic new thing based on the wisdom of the past, intertwined with all the people, high and low.

Pushing art as part of Foundationalism may seem odd for me, since certainly I have little artistic or creative sense, and therefore cannot knowledgeably discuss architecture or any other type of art.

But I don’t need to—that’s the advantage of hewing to classic architecture traditions, that they can express any meaning desired, in a variety of languages, and offer beauty and continuity, along with enough originality to prevent seeming calcified. Foundationalism has no need to create anything that is new, though some organically developing novelty is to be expected.

Oh, I am sure there is a great deal more that someone knowledgeable can say about architecture as aesthetics, and how that matters to a society. Roger Scruton has written a whole book on it (The Aesthetics of Architecture) which I am sure it would be immensely profitable to read.

But a careful, philosophical parsing of architecture and society isn’t what I’m after. I oppose instrumentalism as the lens for viewing human beings; I am not so much opposed to instrumentalism in the works of men’s hands. What I care about is the function architecture will play under Foundationalism, and the implementation of that function.

The general type of high architecture necessary for this is entirely clear. As Wolfgang Schivelbusch said in Three New Deals, “Scholars gradually recognized neoclassical monumentalism—whether of the 1930s, the Renaissance, the French Revolution, or the Napoleonic empire—for what it is: the architectural style in which the state visually manifests power and authority.”

Neoclassical monumentalism, let’s be honest, impresses everybody. You are lying if you think Le Corbusier holds a candle to, say, the Jefferson Memorial. True, there are limits to this.

The monstrous proportions of buildings proposed, but never built, by Hitler and Stalin take this arc too far, becoming anti-human and enshrining the state as a false god (the Amazon series The Man in the High Castle portrays many of these buildings as if-built; this reality comes through clearly).

Any such program, especially one perceived as right-wing, therefore has an uphill battle, since the gut reaction is that here Albert Speer reborn. But monumental classicism has a long history apart from the regimes of the 1930s (which, as Curl points out, often approved of Modernism, especially Mussolini’s Italy).

And anyway, when my program is being put into place, those who would complain the loudest in that ideological vein will be picking sugar beets in Saskatchewan as part of my rustication and lustration program for those who did the most damage to our society.

Therefore, as far as high architecture controlled by the state, Foundationalism will kill two birds with one stone—every ugly government building built since the 1940s will be torn down, and to the extent new ones are needed, neoclassical buildings will go up. A lot fewer will go up than are torn down, since there will be far fewer government employees.

The extra land will be given over to parks, or perhaps public buildings tangential to government, such as libraries, which will also be done in classical style. Since we will not be exalting government as such, or government workers, we will not need giant new halls to act as the focus for our rulers; most new buildings will be actual monuments or multi-use, Roman Forum-type constructions.

(There will be, of course, government, and strong government. It will have limited ends, though, even if unlimited means, and will not aspire to order every aspect of daily life—far less than our current government does). And no private creation of any significant ugly building, Modernist or other, will be permitted. Those that exist already will be torn down as resources permit.

What of low architecture, that of daily life, of houses and workplaces? There, too, forms of classical architecture will be strongly encouraged, but the goal will be less monumentalism and more organic coherence with how people actually live and work, combined with beauty and the inspiration and joy in living that comes as a result.

The government will not mandate such architecture, as it will with high architecture, but rather encourage it, through education and subsidy. Such encouragement will take the form of only allowing government funding, and student loans (if those still exist) for architectural schools that, at a minimum, teach the execution of classic architecture as a priority.

All government contracts will only go to approved architecture, as will tax benefits for privately constructed buildings, which will, over time, ensure that architects tend to gravitate to where the money is.

The Foundationalist state will seek ways to ensure that honor and prestige, as well, accrue to architects of preferred styles. Moreover, given the well-known association of the Left with Modernism (something Curl spends a fair bit of time on, focusing on the nihilism and destructiveness common to both), since the Foundationalist state will, as its very first act, utterly and permanently break the power of the Left, that alone will clear the way for traditional architecture to rebound from the boot that Modernism has placed on it for so many decades.

Other aspects will have to be worked out; this is not an ideology, but a set of principles to use. (Prince Charles has recently put forth ten principles that are a good place to start, in a December 2014 article in The Architectural Review; he is pretty odious otherwise and not very bright, but he has always been sensible on architecture).

It is worth noting that Foundationalism does not idolize agrarianism. The rural life and culture has its place, and nature and its forms influence good architecture, but high culture, and the drive to create a successful society, always revolves around cities.

Foundationalism strives to offer a goal for, and outlet for, and inspiration for, human aspiration, and rural life does not build spaceports (aside from today not occupying the daily life of any significant percentage of the population).

And the Foundationalist state will take a similar approach to other art (though a more restrained one, since architecture is the most important art for the state), and we will return to the traditional approach where artists work in cooperation with the pillars of society, state and private, rather than being destructive agents of the Left as they mostly have been for the past century (a topic I intend to discuss the whys and wherefores of at some point, as it is not the natural order of things).

And, at that point, Making Dystopia will have accomplished the goals of its author, and be merely a chronicle of an overly long, and overly destructive, but fortunately vanished, period of architectural and societal distress.

Charles is a business owner and operator, in manufacturing, and a recovering big firm M&A lawyer. He runs the blog, The Worthy House.

The photo shows an Untitled piece by Zdzisław Beksiński.

The Gulag In Five Books

One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich

Any conversation about the Gulag would be unthinkable without Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, for he was the first in the USSR to introduce the topic to the public.

The risky publication of his short novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich in the literary magazine New World in 1962 became a bombshell. Previously, the topic of Stalin’s camps had not been raised in public although it had – of course – touched almost every family in the country.

In One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, the protagonist, a peasant, recalls how he went to fight the Germans, was captured, escaped, and was immediately sent to the camps. That was how the Stalinist regime treated anyone who had fallen into German captivity: they were viewed as spies or deserters. The book also offers vivid descriptions of the hardships of everyday life in the labor camps.

Those who want to study the topic more deeply and get a broader picture of the scale of Stalin’s camps should read Solzhenitsyn’s magnum opus The Gulag Archipelago, which he himself called an experiment in artistic research. 

Kolyma Tales

Varlam Shalamov foresaw the appearance of a large number of memoirs and non-fiction works about this terrible period of Soviet history. He believed that authenticity would become the main strength of the literature of the future. In a dry and succinct manner, as if through the eyes of a documentary filmmaker, Shalamov writes about prisoners’ backbreaking work, awful and scant food, beatings and the terrible cold of Kolyma. Behind these daily observations, there are the writer’s ruminations about human beings and the value of life. His bleak writing style penetrates deeply into readers’ consciousness and this document about the Gulag may turn out to be more affecting than any work of art.

“Backbreaking work inflicted irreparable wounds on us, and our life in old age will be a life of pain, endless and varied physical and mental pain.”

Here are some excerpts from Shalamov’s short stories…

From, “The Carpenters”

“But the cold kept up, and Potashnikov knew he couldn’t hold out any longer. Breakfast sustained his strength for no more than an hour of work, and then exhaustion ensued. Frost penetrated the body to the ‘marrow of the bone’ — the phrase was no metaphor. A man could wave his pick or shovel, jump up and down so as not to freeze — till dinner. Dinner was hot — a thin broth and two spoons of kasha that restored one’s strength only a little but nevertheless provided some warmth. And then there was strength to work for an hour, and after that Potashnikov again felt himself in the grip of the cold. The day would finally come to a close, and after supper all the workers would take their bread back to the barracks, where they would eat it, washing it down with a mug of hot water. Not a single man would eat his bread in the mess hall with his soup. After that Potashnikov would go to sleep.

He slept, of course, on one of the upper berths, because the lower ones were like an ice cellar. Everyone who had a lower berth would stand half the night at the stove, taking turns with his neighbors in embracing it; the stove retained a slight remnant of warmth. There was never enough firewood, because to go for it meant a four-kilometer walk after work and everyone avoided the task. The upper berths were warmer, but even so everyone slept in his working clothes — hats, padded coats, pea jackets, felt pants. Even with the extra warmth, by the morning a man’s hair would be frozen to the pillow.

Potashnikov felt his strength leaving him every day. A thirty-year-old man, he had difficulty in climbing on to an upper berth and even in getting down from it. His neighbor had died yesterday. The man simply didn’t wake up, and no one asked for the cause of death, as if there were only one cause that everyone knew.”

From, “In the Night”

“Are you a doctor?” asked Bagretsov, sucking the wound.

Glebov remained silent. The time when he had been a doctor seemed very far away. Had it ever existed? Too often the world beyond the mountains and seas seemed unreal, like something out of a dream. Real were the minute, the hour, the day — from reveille to the end of work. He never guessed further, nor did he have the strength to guess. Nor did anyone else.

He didn’t know the past of the people who surrounded him and didn’t want to know. But then, if tomorrow Bagretsov were to declare himself a doctor of philosophy or a marshal of aviation, Glebov would believe him without a second thought. Had he himself really been a doctor? Not only the habit of judgment was lost, but even the habit of observation. Glebov watched Bagretsov suck the blood from his finger but said nothing. The circumstance slid across his consciousness, but he couldn’t find or even seek within himself the will to answer.

From, “Quiet”

We tried to work, but our lives were too distant from anything that could be expressed in figures, wheelbarrows, or percent of plan. The figures were a mockery. But for an hour, for one moment after that night’s dinner, we got our strength back.

And suddenly I realized that that night’s dinner had given the sectarian the strength he needed for his suicide. He needed that extra portion of kasha to make up his mind to die. There are times when a man has to hurry so as not to lose his will to die.

As usual, we encircled the stove. But today there was no one to sing any hymns. And I guess I was even happy that it was finally quiet.

From, “Dry Rations”

We were all tired of barracks food. Each time they brought in the soup in large zinc tubs suspended on poles, it made us all want to cry. We were ready to cry for fear that the soup would be thin. And when a miracle occurred and the soup was thick, we couldn’t believe it and ate it as slowly as possible. But even with thick soup in a warm stomach there remained a sucking pain; we’d been hungry for too long. All human emotions — love, friendship, envy, concern for one’s fellow man, compassion, longing for fame, honesty — had left us with the flesh that had melted from our bodies during their long fasts…

“Just imagine,” said Savelev. “We’ll survive, leave for the mainland, and quickly become sick old men. We’ll have heart pains and rheumatism, and all the sleepless nights, the hunger, and long hard work of our youth will leave their mark on us even if we remain alive. We’ll be sick without knowing why, groan and drag ourselves from one dispensary to another. This unbearable work will leave us with wounds that can’t be healed, and all our later years will lead to lives of physical and psychological pain. And that pain will be endless and assume many different forms. But even among those terrible future days there will be good ones when we’ll be almost healthy and we won’t think about our sufferings. And the number of those days will be exactly equal to the number of days each of us has been able to loaf in camp.”

From, “A Child’s Drawings”

We finished the work, stacked the wood, and waited for the guards. Our guard was keeping warm in the building for which we’d been chopping wood, but we were supposed to march back in formation, breaking up in town into smaller groups.

We didn’t go to warm up, though, since we had long since noticed, next to a fence, a large heap of garbage — something we could not afford to ignore. Both my companions were soon removing one frozen layer after another with the adroitness that comes from practice. Their booty consisted of lumps of frozen bread, an icy piece of hamburger, and a torn pair of men’s socks. The socks were the most valuable item, of course, and I regretted that I hadn’t found them first. “Civvies” — socks, scarves, gloves, shirts, pants — were prized by people who for decades had nothing to wear but convict garb. The socks could be darned and exchanged for tobacco or bread.

From, “The Red Cross”

The evil acts committed by criminals in camp are innumerable. The unfortunates are those from whom the thief steals their last rags, confiscates their last coin. The working man is afraid to complain, for he sees that the criminals are stronger than the camp authorities. The thief beats the working man and forces him to work. Tens of thousands of people have been beaten to death by thieves. Hundreds of thousands of people who have been in the camps are permanently seduced by the ideology of these criminals and have ceased to be people. Something criminal has entered into their souls for ever. Thieves and their morality have left an indelible mark on the soul of each.

The camp administrator is rude and cruel; the persons responsible for propaganda lie; the doctor has no conscience. But all this is trivial in comparison with the corrupting power of the criminal world. In spite of everything, the authorities are still human beings, and the human element in them does survive. The criminals are not human.

The influence of their morality on camp life is boundless and many-sided. The camps are in every way schools of the negative. No one will ever receive anything useful or necessary from them — neither the convict himself, nor his superiors, nor the guard, nor the inadvertent witnesses (engineers, geologists, doctors), nor the camp administrators, nor their subordinates.

Every minute of camp life is a poisoned minute.

What’s a Human Being Worth?

Female authors who went through the camps are less well known. One of the more notable is Eufrosinia Kersnovskaya: she accompanied her memoirs with drawings – simple, child-like images, but for that reason even more terrifying.

Kersnovskaya possessed incredible strength, both physical and mental, and asked to be given men’s work – she even worked in a mine. Her story is amazing: she managed to escape and survived in the taiga when her only food was a frozen piece of horse-meat.

She describes, without embellishment, the most terrible things that were going on in the Gulag, the lowly position occupied by women prisoners and what many of them were prepared to do in order to survive.

The title of her book reflects her attempts to understand under what conditions a person can lose their essential humanity.

Now exhibitions of Kersnovskaya’s drawings from the camps are held all over the world. 

The Monastery

Present-day writers too turn to the topic of the Gulag. For example, one of Russia’s leading authors, Zakhar Prilepin, sent his hero to a camp on the Solovetsky Islands – the very same Gulag archipelago.

This major novel is based on thorough archival research. The author made numerous trips to the Solovetsky Islands, working in the archives there. He offers an extremely accurate depiction of the head of the camp, as well as the entire camp structure – from prison cells made out of former monastic cells and wooden bunks in churches to punishment cells set up in remote monastic retreats.

Prilepin also portrays different groups of inmates – political prisoners and ordinary criminals rubbed shoulders in these camps.

Zuleikha

This is another contemporary novel on our list, the debut novel by writer Guzel Yakhina, which became a bestseller in Russia and has already been translated into 10 languages. It tells not so much the story of the Gulag itself as of the Stalin-era repressions, namely the dispossession of Tatar peasants and their deportation to Siberia.

The book’s heroine, together with a group of prisoners, finds herself in the middle of the taiga under the escort of one officer. They have to dig their own dugout, forage for food and fend off the cold. But, strangely, in these circumstances, she feels a freer person than when she was when oppressed by her husband and mother-in-law.

Although this is a work of fiction, but Yakhina studied archive materials about deportations to Siberia in Stalin’s times. In addition, her grandmother was among those dispossessed in the 1930s, and when depicting the everyday life of her characters, the author relied on her grandmother’s recollections. 

Alexandra Guzeva writes for Russia Beyond.

The photo shows, “Magadan Hills,” by Nikolai Getman.

Why Eastern Europeans Do Not Want Islam

Why Eastern Europeans are much more reluctant to accept Muslim migrants than their Western counterparts can be traced back to circumstances surrounding a pivotal battle, that of Kosovo, which took place on June 15, 1389, exactly 630 years ago today.  It pitted Muslim invaders against Eastern European defenders, or the ancestors of those many Eastern Europeans today who are resistant to Islam.

Because the jihad is as old as Islam, it has been championed by diverse peoples throughout the centuries (Arabs in the Middle East, Moors (Berbers and Africans) in Spain and Western Europe, etc.). Islam’s successful entry into Eastern Europe was spearheaded by the Turks, specifically that tribe centered in westernmost Anatolia (or Asia Minor) and thus nearest to Europe, the Ottoman Turks, so-named after their founder Osman Bey.   As he lay dying in 1323, his parting words to his son and successor, Orhan, were for him “to propagate Islam by yours arms.”

This his son certainly did; the traveler Ibn Batutua, who once met Orhan in Bursa, observed that, although the jihadi had captured some one hundred Byzantine fortresses, “he had never stayed for a whole month in any one town,” because he “fights with the infidels continually and keeps them under siege.” Christian cities fell like dominos: Smyrna in 1329, Nicaea in 1331, and Nicomedia in 1337. By 1340, the whole of northwest Anatolia was under Turkic control.  By now and to quote a European contemporary, “the foes of the cross, and the killers of the Christian people, that is, the Turks, [were]  separated from Constantinople by  a channel of three or four miles.”

By 1354, the Ottoman Turks, under Orhan’s son, Suleiman, managed to cross over the Dardanelles and into the abandoned fortress town of Gallipoli, thereby establishing their first foothold in Europe: “Where there were churches he destroyed them or converted them to mosques,” writes an Ottoman chronicler: “Where there were bells, Suleiman broke them up and cast them into fires. Thus, in place of bells there were now muezzins.”

Cleansed of all Christian “filth,” Gallipoli became, as a later Ottoman bey boasted, “the Muslim throat that gulps down every Christian nation—that chokes and destroys the Christians.” From this dilapidated but strategically situated fortress town, the Ottomans launched a campaign of terror throughout the countryside, always convinced they were doing God’s work. “They live by the bow, the sword, and debauchery, finding pleasure in taking slaves, devoting themselves to murder, pillage, spoil,” explained Gregory Palamas, an Orthodox metropolitan who was taken captive in Gallipoli, adding, “and not only do they commit these crimes, but even—what an aberration—they believe that God approves them!”

After Orhan’s death in 1360 and under his son Murad I—the first of his line to adopt the title “Sultan”—the westward jihad into the Balkans began in earnest and was unstoppable. By 1371 he had annexed portions of Bulgaria and Macedonia to his sultanate, which now so engulfed Constantinople that “a citizen could leave the empire simply by walking outside the city gates.”

Unsurprisingly, then, when Prince Lazar of Serbia (b. 1330) defeated Murad’s invading forces in 1387, “there was wild rejoicing among the Slavs of the Balkans. Serbians, Bosnians, Albanians, Bulgarians, Wallachians, and Hungarians from the frontier provinces all rallied around Lazar as never before, in a determination to drive the Turks out of Europe.”

Murad responded to this effrontery on June 15, 1389, in Kosovo.  There, a Serbian-majority coalition augmented by Hungarian, Polish, and Romanian contingents—twelve thousand men under the leadership of Lazar—fought thirty thousand Ottomans under the leadership of the sultan himself. Despite the initial downpour of Turkic arrows, the Serbian heavy cavalry plummeted through the Ottoman frontlines and broke the left wing; the Ottoman right, under Murad’s elder son Bayezid, reeled around and engulfed the Christians. The chaotic clash continued for hours.

On the night before battle, Murad had beseeched Allah “for the favour of dying for the true faith, the martyr’s death.”  Sometime near the end   of battle, his prayer was granted. According to tradition, Miloš Obilić, a Serbian knight, offered to defect to the Ottomans on condition that, in view of his own high rank, he be permitted to submit before the sultan himself. They brought him before Murad and, after Milos knelt in false submission, he lunged at and plunged a dagger deep into the Muslim warlord’s stomach (other sources say “with two thrusts which came out at his back”). The sultan’s otherwise slow guards responded by hacking the Serb to pieces. Drenched in and spluttering out blood, Murad lived long enough to see his archenemy, the by now captured Lazar, brought before him, tortured, and beheaded. A small conciliation, it may have put a smile on the dying martyr’s face.

Murad’s son Bayezid instantly took charge: “His first act as Sultan, over his father’s dead body, was to order the death, by strangulation with a bowstring, of his brother. This was Yaqub, his fellow-commander in the battle, who had won distinction in the field and popularity with his troops.” Next Bayezid brought the battle to a decisive end; he threw everything he had at the enemy, leading to the slaughter of every last Christian—but even more of his own men in the process.

So many birds flocked to and feasted on the vast field of carrion that posterity remembered Kosovo as the “Field of Blackbirds.” Though essentially a draw—or at best a Pyrrhic victory for the Ottomans—the Serbs, with less men and resources to start with in comparison to the ascendant Muslim empire, felt the sting more.

In the years following the battle of Kosovo, the Ottoman war machine became unstoppable: the nations of the Balkans were conquered by the Muslims—after withstanding a millennium of jihads, Constantinople itself permanently fell to Islam in 1453—and they remained under Ottoman rule for centuries.

The collective memory of Eastern Europeans’ not too distant experiences with and under Islam should never be underestimated when considering why they are significantly more wary of—if not downright hostile to—Islam and its migrants compared to their Western, liberal counterparts.

As Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán once explained:

“We don’t want to criticize France, Belgium, any other country, but we think all countries have a right to decide whether they want to have a large number of Muslims in their countries. If they want to live together with them, they can. We don’t want to and I think we have a right to decide that we do not want a large number of Muslim people in our country. We do not like the consequences of having a large number of Muslim communities that we see in other countries, and I do not see any reason for anyone else to force us to create ways of living together in Hungary that we do not want to see….  I have to say that when it comes to living together with Muslim communities, we are the only ones who have experience because we had the possibility to go “through that experience for 150 years.”

And those years—1541 to 1699, when the Islamic Ottoman Empire occupied Hungary—are replete with the massacre, enslavement, and rape of Hungarians.

This is an excerpt from Raymond Ibrahim’s book, Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, which was also reviewed in the Postil here.

The photo shows, “The Kosovo Maiden,” by Uroš Predić, painted in 1919. The scene illustrates a scene from the poem, “The Kosovo Maiden,” from the Kosovo-cycle of Serbian poetry.

The Real Vikings

In these days where man is held to be homo economicus, we are told that all people are basically the same, and what they want, most of all, is ease and comfort. Real Vikings prove this false.

Instead, they reflect back to us a strange combination of very bad behavior and until-the-last-dog-dies virtue. Tom Shippey wants to talk about those real Vikings, not the sanitized ones who were supposedly much like us, just colder. If you read this book, therefore, you’ll get the Vikings in all their bloody, malicious glory.

Shippey (a professor of Old and Middle English literature, and one of the world’s leading authorities on J. R. R. Tolkien) tells what we know about the Vikings, primarily from their own stories about themselves, the sagas.

He combines this with other sources, including archaeology and the written histories of those with whom the Vikings came into contact, to create a vivid and compelling narrative. It may seem strange to treat the sagas as history, since fantasy elements, from dwarves to dragons to Valkyrie, are ubiquitous, and many were written down centuries after the events in them took place.

The author takes the position, apparently not uncontroversial, that the sagas can nonetheless be used as history, though with caution and only in some instances. Either way, the sagas show the Viking mentality, not so much through the plots of the stories, but through the actions of the people in them. Most of all, it is this Viking mindset that Shippey cares about; he calls it “a kind of death cult,” which does not seem an exaggeration.

Shippey is well-versed in the languages in which the sagas were written, including Old Norse; he does his own translations. Given the bowdlerization that is common in pre-modern translations, this is very helpful to the reader. The stories in the sagas are very complex, largely due to the tangled webs of kinship they portray.

These are not fairy tales, with a simple story and simple moral, but Shippey does an excellent job of exposition. He emphasizes that sagas aren’t meant to be beautiful or delicate; they aim instead to follow extremely strict rules of rhyme and meter, and are full of complex grammar and obscure allusions. The creation of excellent poetry was regarded as a high virtue and accomplishment for men in their off hours, when they weren’t killing other men.

Vikings are often incorrectly seen as synonymous with Scandinavians. In Old Norse, vikingr meant simply pirate or marauder. “It wasn’t an ethnic label, it was a job description.” Shippey rejects revisionist accounts that try to paint the Vikings as settlers, or traders, or nice people who just occasionally got caught up in fighting.

Plenty of Scandinavians were settlers, traders, and nice people—just not the Vikings. For three hundred years, they stole and murdered across much of northern Europe, especially England, and got as far as Constantinople and southern Spain.

“To the modern mind, it is amazing, almost incomprehensible, how so many thousands of men, over generations, took appalling risks in small boats and continuous hand-to-hand and face-to-face confrontations with edged weapons, for what do not seem to us to have been very great financial returns. Viking armies were often defeated, even exterminated, but there never seemed to be any difficulty recruiting another one.”

What made this possible was the Viking mentality.

Shippey’s book is both analysis and history. The history begins where Viking histories normally begin, with the sack of the monastery of Saint Cuthbert on Lindisfarne, in A.D. 793. It ends with Harold Godwinson’s defeat, in 1066 at Stamford Bridge, of the giant Norwegian king, Harold Hardrada (whose name Shippey translates, roughly, as “Hard-Line Harold”).

The actual causes of the eruption of the Vikings are not completely clear, because there are almost no written records from Scandinavia of the time, but they probably have to do with upheaval and a power vacuum in Scandinavia. Intertwined with history, Shippey offers his careful and detailed parsing of sagas, combining that with evidence from archaeology.

Much of this seems vaguely familiar to the reader, because Vikings have been staples of popular culture for two hundred years, but the more you read about real Vikings, the less familiar it seems (although a few works of modern fiction, such as Eric Rücker Eddison’s The Worm Ouroboros, do manage to capture a real Viking feel).

As he moves through history, Shippey itemizes core features of the Viking mindset; then illustrates and expands on them. The single overriding feature was an absolute need to be brave. Cowardice was utterly disgraceful. Part of that was never giving in.

Fighting to the last man was a baseline Viking expectation. We can understand that; it’s to some extent part of our own culture (or was, until we were pansified). Another feature, though, is harder for us to grasp—losing isn’t the same as being a loser.

Vikings lost all the time; there was no disgrace in that, as long as you kept the right attitude, which was not giving in. If you had to give in physically, not giving in mentally would do. And the best way to show that was to die laughing (hence the title of the book). That laughter wasn’t ironic or self-referential, though. It was malicious.

If you laughed as your enemies killed you, because you knew how they were going to die soon too and you’d get your vengeance, that was admirable. The goal wasn’t stoicism (which was often the goal of other martial societies, particularly the American Indians); it was getting one over on your enemies, and knowing it.

Or if you bided your time as a defeated slave, forming a plan to kill and mutilate your enemies, then chuckled over their bodies, that was admirable too. (It is, as Shippey says, no coincidence that our word “gloat” comes from Old Norse.) Waiting to get back at your enemies so as to do it well is high-class behavior; it’s low-class thralls that lose their tempers and strike back hastily.

And if you simply can’t get vengeance, you can make a dark joke, like the saga hero who, cut terribly across the face in hand-to-hand combat onboard a ship, grabs his gold, says “The Danish woman in Bornholm won’t think it so pleasant to kiss me now,” and jumps overboard to sink beneath the waves.

Being humorously nasty is also admirable, like the man who, as he is about to be decapitated after a battle, asks for one of his enemies to hold his hair back so it doesn’t get bloody—then, as the axe falls, jerks backward so the helper’s hands are cut off, and dances around, laughing and shouting “Whose hands are in my hair?!”

Being comfortable with losing continued even after death. Those warriors chosen for Valhalla were not promised eternal life or eternal happiness; they were promised a good time until Ragnarok, the final battle, whereupon all of them, and all the gods, were to lose and die permanently.

In the Viking ethos, this makes sense, because you can only show that you will never give in if you can be defeated. The goal isn’t to avoid defeat, certainly not by switching sides to gain advantage. It’s to show your worth, come what may. Many have pointed out that the gods in the Iliad are, in a sense, lesser than men because their immortality makes everything they do ultimately trivial. Not so for Vikings, or their gods.

Fighting was the number one Viking activity, of course. In all the sagas, there is a definite exaltation of strongly masculine behavior, mostly fighting but wine and women as well. Vikings had a general love of constant violence, including games intended to create violent disputes among friends out of nothing.

They also invariably reacted with a hair trigger to insults; and when they lost their lives, as they expected to someday, if not laughing ideally offered dying last words that were not self-pitying but were laconic, such as “bear to Silkisif and our sons my greeting; I won’t be coming.”

Self-control was extremely important—showing any weak-seeming emotion or offering any reaction (other than violence or laughter) was looked down on, even if severely injured or having lost a child or wife.

Vikings didn’t cry, ever. All this behavior was, collectively, drengskapr, basically a code of honor, the function of which Shippey analogizes to later European dueling, which served important functions tied to the core male need for validation and hierarchy.

Its opposite, naturally, was dishonorable behavior, such as killing the defenseless, cowardice, or breaking an oath; such actions meant either a loss of face or expulsion from the community.

Despite the inherently masculine nature of drengskapr, women appear often in this book. Shippey notes that in the sagas women are “not themselves Vikings by trade, but often the most determined instigators and proponents of the heroic mindset.” The “sagas of Icelanders especially are full of dominating and aggressive women.”

Numerous sagas turn on the actions of women, seeking revenge for slights or harms to them or their families, or rejecting an ambitious warrior until he achieves more fame. Old Norse even has a special verb just for women taunting men as cowards.

Beyond the sagas, as with all the peoples descended from “Germanic” barbarians, women occupied significant roles in society. This is in sharp contrast to the East, where women were kept hidden and exercised influence purely behind the scenes. Women were out and about in Viking society (and in other Germanic societies, such as the Franks, causing scandal in Outremer among Muslims during the Crusades).

They ran businesses, owned property, signed contracts, and generally acted with a great degree of independence. Vikings had no harems—although Vikings made a lot of money supplying young women to Muslim harems (and some high-status Viking men kept concubines).

Slaves were the Vikings’ number one cash generator, and Muslims their number one market, since Christian Europe strongly disfavored slaves, even at this point, and Scandinavia itself didn’t have the money to buy a lot of slaves.

In other words, contrary to the modern propagandistic myth, there’s no indication women as women were oppressed in Viking society (which is true for most, if not all, Western societies throughout history).

As usual, relations between men and women were a constant negotiation where everyone was trying to muddle through together. In conflicts, women usually gave as good as they got, and exemplified similar courage as men.

Voluntarily choosing to die, “[Brynhild] regards Sigurd as her real husband, her frumverr or ‘first man’; she means to go with him. Of course, she also had him murdered, but that does not affect her real feelings or her sense of what’s right.”

Where women appear not a single time in this book, however, is as warriors, because Viking women warriors are a total myth. Last year widespread coverage was given to a claim that the grave of a Viking woman warrior had been uncovered. Fake news, which was quickly disproven, though that was not given any coverage at all in the popular media.

Viking women warriors simply didn’t exist. “Viking warrior” is a tautology; “Viking woman” is an oxymoron. Neither history nor saga mentions women as warriors. What about the famous “shieldmaidens,” you ask? A thirteenth-century Danish historian, Saxo Grammaticus, created that legend out of whole cloth in imitation of myths about the Amazons.

The sole mention in any actual saga of any woman warrior is in The Saga of Hervor and Heidrek, a thirteenth-century mashup of several earlier sagas, where part of the plot revolves around a woman, Hervor, who takes up arms after her father and brothers are killed (summoning her dead father, Angantyr, from his barrow grave to give her his sword, Tyrfing). (She was the inspiration for Tolkien’s Eowyn of Rohan, depicted, like Hervor, as golden haired in golden helmet).

This is all obviously just fantasy no different than that about dwarves and dragons. Such fantasies aren’t new; people have been projecting their fantasies onto Vikings for more than a thousand years. In the ninth century A.D. the Muslim ruler of Spain, Abd al Rahman II, sent an embassy to the Vikings, led by an ambassador, nicknamed al-Ghazal (“the gazelle,” for his good looks).

It’s not clear precisely where he went or whom he met, because in what he wrote he was less interested in writing useful detail, and more in telling us that the custom of the Vikings was “no woman refused any man,” and that the queen of the Vikings was infatuated with him. Al-Ghazal’s writings show, as Shippey says, “we are deep in Male Fantasy Land,” and the same is true of Hervor.

(Muslims, and the Byzantines, did interact quite a bit with the Vikings; more accurate than al-Ghazal was the record of the tenth-century Ahmad Ibd Fadlan’s mission to the Rus, which forms a large part of the backstory to the movie The Thirteenth Warrior and which Shippey discusses at length, mostly to show that the Vikings were fine with sex slavery, ritual murder, and gang rape.)

Along similar lines, you often hear that the Valkyries were women warriors, a trope that shows up, for example, in modern movies based on the Marvel comic books. Shippey makes clear that they were nothing of the sort (addressing the question directly never comes up for him, any more than discussing whether the Vikings carried iPhones or used machine guns).

The Valkyries were Odin’s servants, acting as harvesters, or rather recruiters, who picked which warriors would die in battle, and thus join Odin in the halls of Valhalla. They often picked the strongest men, who were brought low by seeming chance, but actually by the Valkyries or Odin himself—a way for the Vikings to explain the seeming randomness of death in battle. But the Valkyries weren’t warriors.

At all. They were more like the Greek Fates, Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos; and overlap with the Norns, the Norse rough equivalent of the Fates. Nor were they aspirational figures for women in Viking society.

Silly claims about female Vikings are part of a larger problem with the corruption of everything by ideology—news, science, history. A claim that a Viking woman has been found is useful.

It can be, and is, used to support idiot actions like allowing women into the military, and more generally to aid the ongoing massive propaganda campaign to pretend that not only are there no real differences between men and women, but that women can do anything that men can do, only better.

(We have seen this on display in recent weeks in the blanket coverage given to the Women’s World Cup, an unimportant event that very few Americans care about, and the winning of which is equivalent to being the world’s tallest midget).

Thus, such a “discovery” is feted around the world and the “discoverer” briefly becomes an international celebrity, before returning to a promotion and permanent job security. A claim that a male Viking burial has been found is boring and gets the claimant nothing.

Along similar lines, Shippey notes several attempts to feminize Viking history, such as when in 2014 the British Museum censored the translation of a runestone inscription to change phrases such as “They fared like bold men far for gold” to “They fared far for gold.” As Shippey says drily, the word men “is not favored academically.”

Fortunately, this book is not marred by any such distortions. It’s an uncut presentation of Viking behavior, straight up, no chaser. After you read it, you’ll probably be glad you weren’t around when and where the Vikings were.

Still, as you order some knickknack off Amazon to give you a brief rush of consumer enjoyment, briefly beating back your ennui, you’ll probably feel some tug toward the grandeur and glory of the Viking mindset, and wonder whether modern life, lacking any transcendence, is as hollow at its core as it seems.

Charles is a business owner and operator, in manufacturing, and a recovering big firm M&A lawyer. He runs the blog, The Worthy House.

The photo shows, “Funeral of a Viking,” by Sir Frank Bernard Dicksee, painted in 1893.

Imagining Muhammad

Cole presents Muhammad as a contemporary Western statesman devoted to peace, tolerance, multiculturalism, and gender equality, and sympathetic to Christian Byzantium. To support this portrait of Muhammad—which the author admits “differs significantly from the picture of the Prophet in most Muslim commentary”—Cole rejects mainstream Islamic historiography, relying instead on select Qur’anic verses, unsourced “folk memories,” plenty of academic conjecturing, and heavy use of the verb “would.”

For example, on the war between Rome and Persia, he writes, “Muhammad would have watched with horror”; on the Persian siege of Jerusalem in 614, “Muhammad would have listened with horror to the reports of travelers”; or “Muhammad … would have been acquainted with Roman law, culture, and languages”; and “Muhammad would have sent envoys seeking good relations with the new imperial authorities.”

Why the subjunctive tone? Because there is zero textual evidence for these statements. There is, however, plenty of contrary evidence. For example, the only record of relations between Muhammad and Byzantine emperor Heraclius found within the Islamic tradition—the Prophet’s order that the emperor abandon Christianity and submit to Islam or face war—is not mentioned. Instead, Cole writes, “Muhammad had allied with Constantinople and went to his grave that way in 632” even though no evidence of any such alliance exists.

Because Cole is at pains to present Muhammad within the Western tradition, the best he admits to is that “Muhammad was occasionally forced into a defensive campaign” and that the “Qur’an allows warfare only in self-defense.” Long quotes from Roman statesmen, church fathers, and European philosophers, asserting that defensive war is just, typically follow such assertions, as if to say the violence Muhammad is often accused of was exclusively defensive—which, after all, Western authorities permit. In Cole’s view, even the “Arabic notion of jihad, or exertion for the sake of virtue, was paralleled in Aristotle, Plotinus, and the New Testament.”

While Cole associates Islam with classical and early Christian notions of war, he frequently presents Islamic principles as more humanitarian. Thus, whereas St. Augustine’s rationale for war alluded to combatting vice, “the Qur’an gives Lockean grounds for warfare.” Moreover, “Christian law helped create the endogamous Christian ‘race’ or ‘nation,’ whereas the law of the Qur’an creates a rainbow race of Abrahamians.” This is because the “Qur’an … celebrates gender and ethnic diversity as an enrichment of human experience.” No mention is made that the Qur’an permits husbands to beat their wives and own sex slaves (4:34 and 4:3).

Mainstream Islamic historiography flatly contradicts Cole’s revisionism. It maintains that most of Muhammad’s wars were not defensive but offensive while coercing non-Muslims to embrace Islam often on pain of death was the norm. It also maintains that Muhammad engaged in any number of atrocities that would seem to contradict just-war sensibilities: assassinating elderly men and women who mocked him or torturing a Jewish man with fire until he revealed his tribe’s hidden treasure—and then having him decapitated and marrying his beautiful wife.

Cole dismisses all such unflattering but widely accepted anecdotes. Despite much documentation, he asserts that “the Qur’an does not mention anything about a mass slaying of the [Jewish] men of Khaybar and rather suggests that deaths occurred during a battle but that the Believers offered the enemy quarter and took prisoners.” Similarly, Cole suggests that Muhammad’s well-known expulsion of Jews is a later archetype based on “Christian expulsion of Jews in late antiquity.” Muhammad’s biographers, Cole posits, must have projected this trope back onto him since “the few details in the Qur’an do not support” it.

This is a radical departure from how Muslims ascertain Muhammad’s biography. Because the Qur’an is notoriously ambiguous, unchronological, and mostly poetic, from the start, Muslims needed to turn to other sources (chiefly the sira and hadith) to piece together their prophet’s life.

Even Cole’s exclusive reliance on the Qur’an does little to prove that Muhammad’s wars were purely defensive. Mainstream Islamic exegesis maintains that the Qur’an was revealed in three phases: 1) Muhammad’s earliest years in Mecca when he was vulnerable and outnumbered during which he preached religious tolerance (e.g., 2:256); 2) Muhammad’s transitional years when he began making alliances outside of Mecca and preached self-defense (e.g., 22:39); and 3) Muhammad’s last decade (622-32) when his forces became stronger than and overwhelmed his Meccan rivals during which he preached going on the offensive (e.g., 9:29).

Cole regularly quotes Qur’anic verses from the first two phases while ignoring or reconfiguring those from the third to conform to his thesis. Consider his approach to 9:29, which reads: “Fight those who do not believe in Allah or in the last day, and who do not consider unlawful what Allah and His Messenger have made unlawful, and who do not adopt the religion of truth from those who were given the scripture until they give thejizyah [tribute] willingly while they are humbled.”

Although Islamic exegesis always interprets “those who were given the Scripture” as Jews and Christians, Cole tells readers that this verse is actually talking about fighting pagan Arabs; the notion that it is referring to Christians and Jews, he believes, is “frankly bizarre.” He fails to mention that the very next verse, 9:30, makes perfectly clear that 9:29 is talking about Jews and Christians, as it names them, before adding “may Allah destroy them!”

Cole later confesses in an obscure endnote on his claim that the verse is not referring to Christians and Jews, “I should warn readers that I am engaged in a radical act of reinterpretation here.” The vast majority of readers will be ignorant of this important caveat tucked away in the back.

Moreover, in the main text he writes: “In my reading, Qur’an 9:29 does not have anything to do with a poll tax on Jews and Christians [as Islamic exegesis has always understood it] but rather demands reparations from pagans guilty of launching aggressive wars.”

Here is the most Cole will admit to concerning the third phase of Muhammad’s life when, according to traditional Islamic history, the Prophet launched approximately nine raids per year in search of power, plunder, and slaves.

He writes, “In one of the great ironies of history, Muhammad, who had preached returning evil with good and praying for peace for one’s enemy, had violent conflict thrust upon him in the last third of his prophetic career. The Qur’an maintains that he waged even that struggle, however, in self-defense and in the interests, ultimately, of restoring tranquility, the late-antique definition of just war.”

Cole presents Muhammad’s conquest of and entry into Mecca “as more resembling the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1963 march on Washington than a military campaign”—somehow overlooking that King did not turn up with ten-thousand armed men threatening the denizens of D.C. with a bloodbath if they did not submit to his rule.

Cole also whitewashes the early Arab conquests (632-750), most of which occurred over Christian territory. Although eyewitnesses and early chroniclers all write of devastation and atrocities from Syria to Spain, Cole dismisses them as “exaggerated” and “hyperbolic,” unjustly causing Islam to suffer from a “black legend.” He suggests that if excesses were committed, these were introduced by Christian converts to Islam, who “brought into the new religion their own long-standing practices of religious violence.”

Cole’s book is a massive distortion meant for Western consumption and catering to Western sensibilities. To validate his thesis, which is the antithesis of what Muslims believe about their prophet, he either ignores or manipulates the entirety of Islamic historiography and Qur’anic exegesis.

Raymond Ibrahim is a widely published author, public speaker, and Middle East and Islam specialist.  His books include, Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War Between Islam and the West (Da Capo, 2018), Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (Regnery, 2013), and The Al Qaeda Reader (Doubleday, 2007). He is currently the Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

The photo shows Mohammad in paradise, with houris. Detail from a 14th-century Turkish manuscript.