Emperors undressed

The Rise of the Ungovernables

2019 marks the thirtieth anniversary of Francis Fukuyama’s seminal essay for the National Interest “The End of History?” Its central hypothesis was that we were witnessing “the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.” That looked plausible in 1989, particularly when the Berlin Wall fell just months after the essay’s release. Thirty years later—not so much.

To be fair to Fukuyama, he never suggested that the world had seen the end of geopolitical conflict or that democracies would experience no more of Macmillan’s “events.” Today, he continues to view liberal democracy as the best form of government, but he is less optimistic about its robustness. It’s hard to disagree with him. The Brexit chaos, the Trump presidency, the collapse of support for centrist parties across Europe, and the pervasive rise of populism and nationalism, all point to the growing fragility of liberal democracy.

Why is this happening now? The usual response is to blame it all on the politicians. Leaders like Orban and Trump are subverting the institutions at the heart of liberal democracy. Political parties like Alternative für Deutschland and the National Rally are promoting illiberal and xenophobic policies. If only we had better leaders, democracy would flourish—so goes the argument.

That last sentence is exactly the same excuse Socialists and Communists use for state failures in the Soviet Union, Cuba, Venezuela, Cambodia, North Korea, et. al.. A majority of voters in this country agree with it, even as they are split on policy.

That last sentence describes the danger of the Imperial Presidency – something that connects Obama and Trump (they’re hardly alone, but it became an art form under their tender care).

That last sentence describes voters’ aspirations.  It explains Bernie Sanders, Ocasio-Cortez, and Donald Trump.  Not that they all share policy ideas, but that a sufficient number of voters see them as saviors.  This is a terrible way to think about public employees.

The Obamaists and the Trumpists both revere the Man, not the Law.  Their Emperor’s ideas are fully clothed in their own narcissism.

Read the whole article, it presents some good ideas about cultural changes contributing to the problem and the related role of social media.

Collectivism isn’t Right or Left

Jordan B. Peterson Is the Furthest Thing from the Alt-Right

Peterson’s claim that identity politics is “genocidal in its ultimate expression” is no exaggeration. Hitler’s military invasions and death camps were the ultimate expression of the racialist and nationalist identity politics that spiritually drove Nazism. And Stalin’s weaponized famines and “gulag archipelago” were the ultimate expression of the class warfare identity politics that spiritually drove Soviet communism.

Identity politics is necessarily collectivist. Alt-right or Ctl-left, Nazi or Communist: “Nothing outside the state, nothing above the state, everything within the state.”

False choice

Two short articles from Reason and The Weekly Standard:

Authoritarians to the Left and Right
The Nation and the Nazis

Imagine a line with a sliding indicator. On one end is Marxism and Antifa; on the other is Fascism and Alt-Right. Or, call it Black Lives Matter vs Stormfront.

Your job is to slide the indicator along this continuum to your preferred balance between these choices of extreme left and extreme right. Possibly, you choose the center.

What choice are you actually making? The choice of which statist minutiae you prefer.

Sliding the indicator to the center does not minimize your agreement with authoritarian policies. It indicates nothing about how much power you grant the State, that’s a constant. It means the continuum is wrong, so the choice is false.

Here’s the way the political spectrum really works:

Looking at it by group:

Update 2:40PM
See also.
Of Course the Alt-Right Is Against Capitalism

The Right hand knows full well what the Left hand is doing

In an ongoing effort to demonstrate the terms “Right” and “Left” amount to little more than a political taxonomy quibble, I enlist Dr. Stephen Hicks‘ book Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault. Highly recommended. Italics mine.

Counter-Enlightenment politics: Right and Left collectivism

After Rousseau, collectivist political thinking divided into Left and Right versions, both versions drawing inspiration from Rousseau… [M]y purpose in this chapter is to highlight developments in collectivist Right thinking and to show that in its essentials the collectivist Right was pursuing the same broadly anti-liberal-capitalist themes that the collectivist Left was.

What links the Right and the Left is a core set of themes: anti-individualism, the need for strong government, the view that religion is a state matter (whether to promote or suppress it), the view that education is a process of socialization, ambivalence about science and technology, and strong themes of group conflict, violence, and war. Left and Right have often divided bitterly over which themes have priority and over how they should be applied. Yet for all of their differences, both the collectivist Left and the collectivist Right have consistently recognized a common enemy: liberal capitalism, with its individualism, its limited government, its separation of church and state, its fairly constant view that education is not primarily a matter of political socialization, and its persistent Whiggish optimism about prospects for peaceful trade and cooperation between members of all nations and groups… While the details are messy the broad point is clear: the collectivist Right and the collectivist Left are united in their major goals and in identifying their major opposition…

By the early twentieth century, accordingly, the dominant issues for most Continental political thinkers were not whether liberal capitalism was a viable option—but rather exactly when it would collapse—and whether Left or Right collectivism had the best claim to being the socialism of the future. The defeat of the collectivist Right in World War II then meant that the Left was on its own to carry the socialist mantle forward. Accordingly, when the Left ran into its own major disasters as the twentieth century progressed, understanding its fundamental commonality with the collectivist Right helps to explain why in its desperation the Left has often adopted “fascistic” tactics…

The rise of National Socialism to political prominence during the 1920s brought the abstract debate to particular focus, as the National Socialists, the Communists, and the Social Democrats all argued variations on the same themes and competed for the votes of the same constituencies.

Right and left are cosmetic distinctions serving to mask the necessities of totalitarianism. Whoever rises to the top of an aspiring collectivist utopia will face the same forced choices. Across time, across cultures and embodied in dozens of fearless leaders, we have irrefutable evidence that collectivist state ideology results in economic disaster and human misery.

Because of the practical and moral failure of Marx’s “scientific socialism,” and since its predictions of economic class warfare have not been realized, the socialists have switched the game to promote victim identity-group warfare.

Right or Left? Wrong question.

Socialist Academics Contributed to the Rise of the Third Reich

Indeed they did.

Can anyone offer a single consequential difference between Fascism/Nazism and Communism/Socialism/Marxism?

Specifically, please explain the claim that Nazis are right wing, but Communists are left wing. If you really want to assist me, tell me how Antifa can possibly be anti-Fascist.

Seems to me those various labels just cover minor squabbles among the Totalitarianists. Cosmetic distinctions.

Real communism

Revelations from the Russian Archives

A note from the Library of Congress speaking to the idea that if Lenin had lived the Soviet Union might have achieved its utopian objectives. Telegram from Lenin, August 11, 1918:

Translation of Exposing Imperialist Policies


Send to Penza

To Comrades Kuraev, Bosh, Minkin and other Penza communists

Comrades! The revolt by the five kulak volost’s must be suppressed without mercy. The interest of the entire revolution demands this, because we have now before us our final decisive battle “with the kulaks.” We need to set an example.

  1. You need to hang (hang without fail, so that the public sees) at
      least 100 notorious kulaks, the rich, and the bloodsuckers.
  2. Publish their names.
  3. Take away all of their grain.
  4. Execute the hostages – in accordance with yesterday’s telegram.

This needs to be accomplished in such a way, that people for hundreds of miles around will see, tremble, know and scream out: let’s choke and strangle those blood-sucking kulaks.

P.S. Use your toughest people for this.

TRANSLATOR’S COMMENTS: Lenin uses the derogative term kulach’e in reference to the class of prosperous peasants. A volost’ was a territorial/administrative unit consisting of a few villages and surrounding land.

Here is a discussion of how this document came to be in the Library of Congress.

Sorrowful centenary

One hundred years ago today, an armed insurrection in Petrograd, Russia, marked the beginning of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Seventy-four years later, on December 26, 1991, the Soviet Union was dissolved.

For every one of the 27,077 days in between, at minimum and on average, 739 (up to 2,216 by some estimates) Soviet citizens died at the hands of the Soviet government*. On average, a minimum of 31 (to 92) were killed every hour of each of those days. What drove this twisted disregard for human life? In one word: Marxism. Remembering Communism’s Bloody Century

Karl Marx envisioned a new era of freedom and plenty, and its precondition was destroying the “wage slavery” and exploitation of capitalism. As he and his collaborator Friedrich Engels declared in the Communist Manifesto of 1848, our theory “may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property.”

Following Marx’s simple dictum, Soviet industry was owned and managed by the state, and agricultural land was divided into state-run collective farms. All the products of individual labor belonged to the State. All wages were determined by the State.

Money, Method, and the Market Process – Ludwig von Mises:

In such a socialist universe everything will be planned by the supreme authority and to the individual “comrades” no other sphere of action will be left than unconditional surrender to the will of their masters. The comrades will drudge, but all the yield of their endeavors will be at the disposal of the high authority. Such is the ideal of socialism or communism… The individual comrade will enjoy what the supreme authority assigns to him for his consumption and enjoyment. Everything else, all material factors of production, will be owned by the authority…

If one does not permit individuals to keep as their property the things produced…, one removes any incentive to create such things… Thus the anti-property (i.e., socialist or communist) authors had to construct … a society in which all men are forced to obey unconditionally the orders issued from a central authority…

The irony of using the term “wage slavery” was apparently lost on Marx.

The sine qua non property right is ownership of one’s self, including the right to the product of one’s own labor and the right to one’s own thoughts. Unsurprisingly, it turns out that “abolition of private property” includes rejection of self ownership. Marxist State property necessarily includes individual human beings.

Across time, across cultures and embodied in dozens of leaders, it is precisely from the rejection of private property that the miseries of Marxism, communism and socialism flow.

Directly as a result of Marx’s prescription, ninety-four million, and counting, people died at the hands of their own governments. It is this long and bloody record – of the Soviet, Chinese, Cambodian, North Korean, Vietnamese, Cuban and Venezuelan Marxists – against which capitalism must be measured by anyone who desires to replace it with Marxism.

It is fashionable, in fact it’s the last refuge, for the defenders of Marxism to claim its depradations are due to flawed implementation. “Stalin’s Soviet Union didn’t have real Communism.” “Mao’s China didn’t have real Marxism.” Etc.. How many times do we have to run this sick experiment before the lesson sticks?

Whoever rose to the top in any of these aspiring utopias would have faced the same choices. An ideology that denies self ownership compels substantially similar, abominable decisions, no matter the personal virtue (if such a thing can even be said of anyone who desires such power over others) of the rulers.

It’s not the messengers, it’s the message.

Edit: Soviet death figures modified to account for the range of estimates (20-60 million). 11:50AM


  • The Black Book of Communism (20,000,000)
  • Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago
    Intro to Perennial Classics Edition by Edward Ericson: Solzhenitsyn publicized an estimate of 60 million. 
  • Page 178: citing Kurganov, 66 million lives lost between 1917 and 1959