From Goolag to Charlottesville

I was having lots of fun on my blog with the Goolag Archipelago story last week. What could be more important to the world than whether Suzy Snowflake was working at Google and talking to her friends about how it feels to be working for a tech firm and, like, how weird it is to actually pass by a real nerd in the hallway, like, twice in one day.

But, of course, the doings at Charlottesville, Virginia, were real life, not ruling class posturing, and anyone reading of it on Saturday was bound to think of firebells in the night, or even of Fort Sumter.

As I read about it, and thought about the different ways that different media would report on it, I thought not about the people killed and injured, but about me. How would it affect me, and my political positioning. Could I dare to understand the doings of evil white racists?

And then I thought:  that’s the whole point of political outrages. The actors are trying to force people to take sides. The whole point of Black Lives Matter and Antifa is, by their outrages, to divide the country. And the point of the white nationalists is to show how the white working class is unjustly the butt of every joke and pejorative.

And so the Partisan Stress Index, an invention of Peter Turchin in his Ages of Discord, gets cinched up another notch. According to Turchin, the Partisan Stress Index in the U.S. right now is about the same as it was in the 1850s.

The folks at Black Lives Matter and Antifa are really good at what they do. Hey! Why not rile up the bubbas by removing all the statues of white Southern rebels! What’s not to like, and who would dare to stick up for slaveholders and racists? Why not rough up conservative speakers and prevent them from speaking to the snowflakes on campus? The regular mainstream media is going give them a pass and the regular liberals are going to be nudged into support of the Antifa. After all, who would lower themselves to allowing a racist, sexist, bigot like Charles Murray to speak at a tony college like Middlebury? A place like that has standards, you know.

But did you notice the difference in the response to Charlottesville between regular conservatives like Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) and Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the one hand and President Trump on the other? Cruz and Sessions criticized the white nationalists. Trump criticized both sides “many sides,” and asked us all to love America, as in:

Above all else we must remember this truth: no matter our color, creed, religion, or political party, we are all Americans first. We love our country, we love our God, we love our flag, we're proud of our country, we're proud of who we are.

Golly. President Trump said that? I thought he was supposed to be a loud-mouth and a nitwit.

Here’s my point. We are in what will probably be remembered as the beginning of a conflict that will at least be a “cold civil war.” Various parties, on the left and on the right are proving that my definition of politics is dead right: Politics is Division. The way you make your way in politics is to be a skilled divider.

At some point, at the end of the conflict, we Americans will have to come together again, to unite. But how?

The only way humans, we tribal social animals, have successfully managed to unite beyond the boundaries of kindred and tribe is through the absurd and abstract notion of a “nation.”

Britain is a nation, but there are plenty of people trying to reduce Britain the nation by dividing off Scotland and Wales. And it’s true. Wales and Scotland were made part of Britain by force. The same is true of France, originally a bunch of semi-independent dukedoms and counties: France was united by force. Germany was made a nation by the political genius Bismarck in three foreign wars, against Denmark, Austria, and France, which indirectly forced the many German states to unite into one.

The North American colonies were united into a nation by their revolutionary war against the British, and then by a civil war that extinguished the right of secession, by force.

But our modern ruling class sneers at the “nation.” They are higher and more evolved than that. They imagine themselves a global ruling class, possessed of almost divine virtue, knowledge, and competence.

They are of course fools and knaves.

The only way we here in America are going to survive the present gathering storm is if some damn politician manages to get us to think of ourselves as one: “no matter our color, creed, religion, or political party, we are all Americans first.”

And President Trump said it first.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also see his American Manifesto and get his Road to the Middle Class.

I was having lots of fun on my blog with the Goolag Archipelago story last week. What could be more important to the world than whether Suzy Snowflake was working at Google and talking to her friends about how it feels to be working for a tech firm and, like, how weird it is to actually pass by a real nerd in the hallway, like, twice in one day.

But, of course, the doings at Charlottesville, Virginia, were real life, not ruling class posturing, and anyone reading of it on Saturday was bound to think of firebells in the night, or even of Fort Sumter.

As I read about it, and thought about the different ways that different media would report on it, I thought not about the people killed and injured, but about me. How would it affect me, and my political positioning. Could I dare to understand the doings of evil white racists?

And then I thought:  that’s the whole point of political outrages. The actors are trying to force people to take sides. The whole point of Black Lives Matter and Antifa is, by their outrages, to divide the country. And the point of the white nationalists is to show how the white working class is unjustly the butt of every joke and pejorative.

And so the Partisan Stress Index, an invention of Peter Turchin in his Ages of Discord, gets cinched up another notch. According to Turchin, the Partisan Stress Index in the U.S. right now is about the same as it was in the 1850s.

The folks at Black Lives Matter and Antifa are really good at what they do. Hey! Why not rile up the bubbas by removing all the statues of white Southern rebels! What’s not to like, and who would dare to stick up for slaveholders and racists? Why not rough up conservative speakers and prevent them from speaking to the snowflakes on campus? The regular mainstream media is going give them a pass and the regular liberals are going to be nudged into support of the Antifa. After all, who would lower themselves to allowing a racist, sexist, bigot like Charles Murray to speak at a tony college like Middlebury? A place like that has standards, you know.

But did you notice the difference in the response to Charlottesville between regular conservatives like Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) and Attorney General Jeff Sessions on the one hand and President Trump on the other? Cruz and Sessions criticized the white nationalists. Trump criticized both sides “many sides,” and asked us all to love America, as in:

Above all else we must remember this truth: no matter our color, creed, religion, or political party, we are all Americans first. We love our country, we love our God, we love our flag, we're proud of our country, we're proud of who we are.

Golly. President Trump said that? I thought he was supposed to be a loud-mouth and a nitwit.

Here’s my point. We are in what will probably be remembered as the beginning of a conflict that will at least be a “cold civil war.” Various parties, on the left and on the right are proving that my definition of politics is dead right: Politics is Division. The way you make your way in politics is to be a skilled divider.

At some point, at the end of the conflict, we Americans will have to come together again, to unite. But how?

The only way humans, we tribal social animals, have successfully managed to unite beyond the boundaries of kindred and tribe is through the absurd and abstract notion of a “nation.”

Britain is a nation, but there are plenty of people trying to reduce Britain the nation by dividing off Scotland and Wales. And it’s true. Wales and Scotland were made part of Britain by force. The same is true of France, originally a bunch of semi-independent dukedoms and counties: France was united by force. Germany was made a nation by the political genius Bismarck in three foreign wars, against Denmark, Austria, and France, which indirectly forced the many German states to unite into one.

The North American colonies were united into a nation by their revolutionary war against the British, and then by a civil war that extinguished the right of secession, by force.

But our modern ruling class sneers at the “nation.” They are higher and more evolved than that. They imagine themselves a global ruling class, possessed of almost divine virtue, knowledge, and competence.

They are of course fools and knaves.

The only way we here in America are going to survive the present gathering storm is if some damn politician manages to get us to think of ourselves as one: “no matter our color, creed, religion, or political party, we are all Americans first.”

And President Trump said it first.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also see his American Manifesto and get his Road to the Middle Class.