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The Consolations of Free Thought

[Note: Below is the first newsletter I sent out for my new Substack, Unsupervised Learning]

2020 has sunk the final nail in the coffin of the “End of History” myth. We are witnessing the worst global pandemic since the 1918 Spanish flu, and the West’s response has exposed deep structural weaknesses in our civilization. One symptom of this rot is the fact that the norms of free intellectual inquiry seem to have passed out of fashion. Optimistic Y2K liberalism in America has given way to Right and Left identitarianism. Today, intellectuals can tell you in all seriousness that who you are matters more than what you know or do.

 

Standing athwart history

In this, I am against the spirit of the age. Though I don’t expect to change the direction the world lurches, I myself cannot change. I am what I am. And for good and for ill, that has always been someone with an almost pathological need for truth and data, the rawer the better. I simply cannot recalculate the value of an idea according to the identity or eminence of its originator.

Ideas which are true, the goal toward which science fitfully stumbles, differ from the ephemeral things of our social existence. Sports and politics, ratios and retweets are the foam of the present. Money so arduously accumulated will be spent without a trace. Individual humans are born, flourish, grow old, and die. Permanence lies elsewhere. Truth binds us across the centuries and spans national borders.

Reality stands apart from our gloss on it. A stone-faced witness to our coming and our passing. To seek truth is to grasp at something eternal, something that will persist long after us. It is neither spent nor dissipated.

This anxious craving for truth, be it in the end ugly or divine, has propelled me for the two decades I’ve been writing on the internet. It motivated me as a voracious and meandering reader during my childhood. My catholic tastes in intellectual inquiry are both a matter of happenstance and disposition. In the 1980’s my immigrant parents adopted the norms of the place and time where they landed. It  was still socially acceptable, if slightly odd, to leave an 8-year-old wandering the stacks of the public library for entire weekends. This is where I discovered the world on my own, guided by my own inclinations and caprice.

The dual blessings of a restless mind and an unsupervised childhood though can conspire to leave a man a bewildered stranger in this age. Suddenly ideas are disdained as disposable instruments in political games. For me, they can only ever be the goal of my journey.

 

Fools Rush In

In the early 2000’s, a lack of concern for shibboleths or taboos wasn’t particularly brave or rare. John Brockman published a book of essays in 2006 titled “What is your dangerous idea?” I suspect such a collection would be unthinkable today, its very premise triggering. Instead of a frisson, it would risk its contributors’ cancellation. If such a book appeared, it would be a sham, the essays timid and cautious out of concern for the contributors’ reputations. A social-media-driven world of ideas metes out strong tribal sanctions against wrongthink. It does not, as it turns out, always “get better.” The pre-social-media world was much more forgiving of deviationism. Information may want to be free, but the masses do not. They want confirmation of what they already know to be true. They want comfort. They want Voxplainers on how they are right.

Perhaps this is being too generous. The internet is a place where “everyone” watches livestreams of the likes of Khloe Khardasian. But who actually has time for the great thinkers of the past, say Xunzi or Schopenhauer? The information superhighway is choking with trash trucks. But if you look, gold glistens right there on the street as the hordes rush past, bound for their must-see outrage du jour.

In Defense Of Heresy

But every time has its nonconformists and oddballs who can’t resist skewering the emptiness of the day’s sacred orthodoxies and base passions. Diogenes famously mocked Alexander the Great to his face, earning the conqueror’s admiration for both his courage and lack of concern for social convention.

Not every era is so indulgent of heterodoxy. Giordano Bruno, the 16th-century Dominican friar whose refusal to recant his strikingly modern views led Roman authorities to execute him, is now memorialized in Rome as a martyr for free thought. Being correct did nothing to save his life, but it preserved the example of his courage for posterity. There were no doubt many who silently agreed with him, but what did their private misgivings bequeath us?

We may not be at 16th-century-Rome level passions, but a shadow is passing over the West. Thought itself is now considered a form of aggression. Old maxims about how free speech is essential for a healthy democracy fall flat among citizens unembarrassed by mantras as empty as “silence is violence.” It is now clear that the freedoms many of us hold dear were so stirringly defended out of habit, not conviction. The populace take their cues from the elite’s most recent slogan, not from any deeply held principle.

Now that our elites have abandoned the principled defense of free speech, the strongest enforcements of thought control occur through bottom-up social norms and sanction, not top-down impositions. The will of the people is now made manifest. Overnight, friends and kin become sworn enemies over matters of politics. Few among us are Brunos, but many nurture a spark of stubborn resistance to the dogmas imposed upon us from on high and jealousy policed from below.

A modern tolerance of heresy is the reason Western civilization stands alone in its creativity, innovation, and individualism. The West more or less created the modern scientific world. Contrast this with the Chinese, who over 5,000 years of history have favored social harmony above all. A great civilization, but one denied the richness of its Galileos, Spinozas, or Darwins. An empire brought low by uncouth barbarians in gunboats, their fatal technology the fruit of once heretical science.

Ultimately, the West owes its rise to countless generations of heretics and free-thinking innovators in its midst, many of them only fully appreciated by successive ages.

 

The Examined Heresies

My attachment to heretics past likely owes to my own peculiar life trajectory, which for all practical purposes began with my childhood in 1980’s America. My mother tells a story of picking me up after a day spent at the library. Did you spend the dollar? Did you get a Happy Meal? she asked over her shoulder from the front seat. No, I answered, nose in a new book. Well, she worried, then what did you eat for lunch? I ate books! I answered, exasperated.

As lucky as I was at age five to be plucked out of a third-world autocracy whose religion I found absurd, I was luckier still to land in a rust-belt American capital city with an excellent public library. My childhood spanned the golden hour of America’s fading sun. It was sunset in America, but that has become clear only with hindsight.

The accident of timing continued to smile on me as I finished college and resumed what I trusted would be unsupervised learning forevermore (nevermind that I eventually gave in and went to graduate school). In my mid-20’s, the strange and freeing new format of blogging became possible and I found a tailor-made avocation to complement my wide-ranging curiosity. I could read non-stop in whatever field currently obsessed me, and now I added a compulsive habit of publishing my reflections as soon as I’d digested a book or paper.

And almost as important to me, alongside my blog grew a thoughtful community of fellow readers: scientists, historians and thinkers who contributed reliably bracing and vibrant discussion threads. The halcyon days of blogging and smart commenters were not to last, with the rise of social media, and the migration of bloggers to mainstream media. But the memory of that vibrancy tells me how sharply we’ve veered off course.

Now that I’ve spent probably half a working life never straying from my blogging habits for longer than a month or two at my busiest, I can look back and compare different eras and configurations. The most rewarding spans for me, no matter how maddeningly busy personally, were when I was lucky enough to blog something approaching half-time or more. Often I was working full-time too, but those hours stolen to distill what I read and engage with thoughtful people contributed to make these times my most fulfilled.

 

A New Thing We Do

I can’t roll back the internet to those golden days when Twitter was peopled by the technorati 1%. And I can’t summon my same level of confidence in the robustness of the American experiment or faith in the health of academia that with retrospect I see contributed a reassuring bassline to the cheerful buzz of those simpler, less-online days. But I can make an active choice to once again foreground my reading, comment on papers and preprints, call out ill-informed thinkpieces, blog the occasional deep dive and engage in (and let’s be honest, probably most importantly: be a preemptively forbidding bouncer to) the high-quality discussions of my comments section. I can now add podcasting to my output, a format I’ve come to deeply enjoy over the few hundred episodes I’ve recorded at my other sites.

This archipelago of free-thinkers I see coalescing on Substack gives me a modicum of hope. And so I humbly propose to contribute one more tiny island of open discussion, difficult but important conversations, deeper reflection, the odd dangerous idea and yes, unsupervised (and rigorously uncensored) learning. God knows in waters this shallow, we weird souls in search of actual truth need as many little refuges as can be built.

I hope you’ll join me. Your engagement over my nearly two decades of blogging (and a few podcasting), your incisive comments, your inside tips, your reading suggestions, your subtweets, your friendly needling and your friendships have kept me honest and made me a very lucky heretic indeed. I hope I can continue to repay your generosity with a steady drip of food for thought.

Nuts and bolts:

  • I will release a new Unsupervised Learning podcast approximately weekly. These will remain gated for subscribers only (with the comment section permanently safe behind the paywall) for 2 weeks, after which I’ll temporarily release the podcast audio more widely.
  • I look forward to returning to occasional deep-dive premium blog posts. These (and their discussion) will appear only behind the paywall, not on gnxp.com, my long-time blog. I expect to write one or two of these per month.
  • For what it’s worth, I’ll still be blogging regular content at Gene Expression. Which has always been, and remains free. 18 ½ years of archives, baby. “Resurface” to your heart’s content whenever the spirit moves you.

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46 thoughts on “The Consolations of Free Thought

  1. We should remember two things, first where we came from even in the occident, from a society in which people which simply questioned the trinity of god or the miracles of Jesus could be burnt alive or got their tongue cut out.

    Second, that it was always like that. You had no free society or science in the USA for long, latest since the 1950’s. There are two fields in which this was absolutely clear, and its decisive where it was: Human biology, including racial science, research on personality and intelligence, social behaviour and related, as well as economic theories and practical teachings.
    You could say people still could do research on those subjects, yes they could, but if they would produce anything “unsuitable” for what “the elite” had deemed the correct gospel, they got shunned and ruined.

    What changed in the meantime is, that the freedom of let’s say the 1980’s was successively limited, narrowed down to a very limited space, step by step, in all areas of society, culture and science, as the Plutocracy worked together with Cultural Marxists of the Frankfurt School to create their New World Order.

    Many young people don’t realise it, because its an ongoing process, and it depends on where you are starting your intellectual growth, whether you see the change. Even if you are critical, many people just start with the situation as it is in their late teens. What was before, remains a mystery, until they really research it – if that’s even possible to the full extent.

    Currently, the main difference is that the Plutocracy and their Cultural Marxist ideological allies for the moment use the mob and social media control for creating ever more aggressive campaigns against everything which could disturb their dystopic, totalitarian project.
    Part of the reason is they know its endgame, and if anything, Trump made clear to them, that they aren’t completely immune. People could decide otherwise, out of desperation, to sabotage “their project”.

    They know it won’t work out just fine for the majority of people when the Great Reset starts, when the dollar bubble will crumble. All you see now is just the preparation for endgame.
    And its nothing which started yesterday, many of these ideas and plans are pretty old, many decades at least. Its just now that, with the new technology and in a transitional period for the American economy, demography and financial system, in which changes are in fact inevitable anyway, its the single best chance to get through with many of these plans.

    Its not even a choice to go on like in the past years or decades, they created out of greed for profits & power, a destabilised system which needs to be updated in any case, or it will just collapse without a plan. Obviously they prefer a “planned implosion” with a rebuilding program which just creates the world they always planned for: Total control of the people by the monopoly of digital money and channels of communication.
    This makes people pets of the ruling elite, and the decades to come will determine who sits on top and can ruin an individuals life with the click of a button. Those who this don’t want to sit on “the wrong side” of the digital world. The more they know, they more serious and brutal they are, because no matter what they tell average Joe, they know this is real, this will be brutal, it will change everything.

    That’s why they don’t even care for demography and movements like Islamism, even though these things would ruin the old world, they actually do. Because they think, once they get this almost unlimited power over the people, it doesn’t matter who is the populace and what they think, they can control them like chicken anyway!

    We’re approaching a decisive time, we did so for decades, but now the endgame gets closer, and people feel it, get more aggressive as to what direction society should take and who is supposed to get all this control.

    Even if you want a Liberal society, the control mechanism we had are not sufficient – you would have to rebuild the complete educational, media & communication system, because its by now so dependent and corrupted, that it doesn’t work as the base of a free Democracy any more – similar, but actually much worse the financial and money system. Both are so manipulated and rotten, than regardless of what one wants in detail, it needs to be completely reformed. And this leads us to the initial problem: They need to shut down everything which might disturb their “road to reset” – no heretics, no dissent allowed – at least no fundamental one.

    They Oligarchy knows what they are doing and they know when things get bumpy they could be exposed easily, by a free media, so what they need to do, to be safe, is to ruin the free media and freedom of expression so completely, bring them under totalitarian control, so that even if people might starve or kill themselves on the streets, they control the narrative, they control where society should head to.

    The people on the ground, the mobs which attack each other are just the expression of this struggle on the ground. Many not even knowing for what they are actually are fighting for. But all feel its getting serious.

    Its easy to be tolerant as long as its not serious, but its much harder if things get serious. And as it stand, we are in a time in which lofty arguments are no longer the end of all, but we are dealing with a real world power struggle of epic proportions. It got damned serious. The Plutocracy was always like that in the USA, now they just show their true face and try to build up their own goon squads to keep people under control.

    In the 20th century American plutocrats used dependent and corrupted forms of Fascistoid regimes to gain control over people and states in Latin America and South East Asia, if they were not sure about the democratic governments. This time they use corrupted forms of (Cultural) Marxists for the same purpose, those so corrupted that they never will question the high finance and corporate power, but only keep people under check and social pressure, obedient and docile.

    And if those leftwingers get out of hand, they can still call back the now completely frustrated rather conservative and right wing groups, for helping out…its just nice to have these options and everybody hacking the other to death, on the ground, while in the background the totalitarian surveillance state being created, for which it doesn’t matter what these very same people might want or believe in 20 years from now. At least that’s what some seem to aspire.

    You Americans got tricked and played out against each other big time. Better you wake up and realise it soon enough, or the whole world is in even bigger trouble than it already is.

  2. Thank you for your paean to libraries. I too spent many unsupervised hours in libraries as a child. I grew up to become a public library director.

  3. I’ve heard a different take on Bruno, that he was not at all an “accurate” (to the extent anything he said was original) proto-scientist but just someone with a very odd theology.

    “An empire brought low by uncouth barbarians in gunboats, their fatal technology the fruit of once heretical science.”
    The Chinese had gunpowder before Europeans did, and as far as I know nobody in China or Europe ever considered gun research to be heretical. It is an interesting questions why Europe outpaced China on that field, and one theory (I don’t know how fringe) is that European experience making church-bells turned out to be useful when it came time to make artillery. Another account I’ve heard is that Chinese science was overly empirical, and Indian thought overly theoretical, but Europe somehow found a happy medium. But with guns I would think empirical tinkering by feuding powers should get you pretty far.

  4. @TGGP: You shouldn’t just look at the scientists, or better call them scholars of that time, which oftentimes were not the main proponents of technical progress at that time anyway. Even more important was the developed craft and craftsmanship. Even in Medieval times, every artisan had to learn from a master and to travel around for some years, to learn something new and prove himself. I know for German artisans, from every place Germans lived, that they travelled almost from one end of Europe to the other, to learn and get experience with new methods or approaches.

    Its not just cannons, but for seafarers, very important became good quality compass, clocks and other instruments like the sextant. And who produced all this?

    Even a product like rubber:
    “Charles Goodyear (December 29, 1800 – July 1, 1860) was an American self-taught chemist and manufacturing engineer who developed vulcanized rubber, for which he received patent number 3633 from the United States Patent Office on June 15, 1844.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Goodyear

    Very often the big leaps forward didn’t came from any scholars or the scientific institutions, but from heretics and misfits, which just tried something new.

    Libraries and books are very important for this – but even before that, the kind of regulated craftsmanship and learning, with wide ranging exchange networks, was highly beneficial.

    People often think about Medieval times as if they were chaotic, but nothing could be further from the truth. It was a totally regulated, in fact even over-regulated society – especially business. Nothing happened without the ok from above and the organisations of the people involved and the citizens.

    In this way it was more social and democratic than what we have now, in some places and times at least. The over-regulation was, on the long run, when it came to big finance and industry being the next step, more of a hindrance of course. But it helped to built a solid fundament in the occident. Of course other societies had their master : student relations too, but the way it worked in occidental Europe was peculiar. I know the most about Germany and it was really important for the practical progress on the ground. Actually small & medium businesses with well-educated artisans was the base for German success even up until recently and is so to this day.

    Look up how many of the great practical inventions and progresses, but especially their actual usage, was based on this throughout the West.

    Another important aspect was clocks – the Chinese were behind in the 13th century:
    “The next major advancement in timekeeping came with the development of mechanical clocks, probably in the late thirteenth century. These clocks depended on neither the sun nor water to keep time. Some used pendulums, while other smaller clocks relied on repeated winding to run. English records indicate that a mechanical clock was operating in a Bedfordshire church in 1283. Similar reports refer to five other mechanical clocks in English churches before 1300. Within the next 50 years, the mechanical clocks became common throughout Europe.”

    https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/evolution-timekeeping-water-clocks-china-and-mechanical-clocks-europe

    Clocks were not built by the church dependent scholars of that time, but by well-trained artisans!

    This was all well before anything “theoretical scientific” playing any kind of big role. It was the fundaments of the occidental mentality, ingenuity, society and craftsmanship which made a difference even then.

    It was even the opposite way around: Many great theoretical inputs came from outside, but once they reached Europe they were re-evaluated, disassembled and rebuilt in a new and more efficient way, oftentimes even for a new purpose. Practically thinking artisans and businesspeople made the difference.

    Today China is in a similar role of taking great theoretical inputs from outside and making the most out of it, but for different reasons.

  5. I’m of the same generation and my early life inhabited the same spaces and trajectory. I’m in. Also, I’m glad substack has an RSS feed so email isn’t required.

  6. Truly, your only real democratic option is non-compliance, come what may. Same as it ever was. How to explain it to the kids, though?

  7. @Obs They they they they they they they they they they they.

    One of the reasons cognitive scientists give for the ubiquity of religion is that humans have a “hyper-active agency detector”. If a Pleistocene hominid heard a rustling in the tall grass, he could think “It’s only the wind” or he could think, “Something with a will is causing that.” Even if it was almost always “just the wind”, it paid to check out the other possibility because if it was a tiger, the downside was too drastic. Your genes wound up in its belly rather than the next generation.

    Thus the great predisposition to see entities greater than ourselves to explain why things happen.

    You seem to have an over-active hyper-active agency detector (kind of like ancient ancestral south indians).

  8. One of the biggest concerns for me in this regard, and it’s where my Y2K liberal optimism has given way to dystopian pessimism, is the digitization of content, including what people consider academic knowledge. Given that the default mode of argument, including amongst people who are ostensibly educated, seems to be “Do you have any reputable citations for that?” rather than anything abstract, a priori, or metaphysical, people are most persuaded by being shown charts, tables, graphs, articles, encyclopedias, and so on. With the written word, like a book or magazine or journal, this is one thing because of the time involved to make it and the fact that the content therein is “dead”, but it is far too easy with digitized content for it to be updated continually to suit the desires and needs of the moment and for it to be subject to varying pressures of mobs, whether online or in real life. Things which are not suited to the (social/political/financial) exigencies of the moment are too easily expelled from “respected” sources, hence the growing popularity of Internet Archive (and the concomitant drive to get rid of it), things which do suit the needs of internet mobs or political actors are too easily created on the fly, like updates to online encyclopedias.

  9. I simply cannot recalculate the value of an idea according to the identity or eminence of its originator.

    LOL

    A few weeks ago you were answering people who criticized your take on Yglesias’s book with “who the fuck you are and why should I care”.

  10. @Roger: You’re in denial of human agency, politics and economy are no natural phenomenons, but people put money and networks into action to get what they want. This is provable in every single case I mentioned and no fantasy. Those people involved are open about it, because they feel safe, they feel good, they think they are on top and can make the transition right now, just when the dollar will inevitably blow up:
    https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MABMM301USM189S

    Just within the last months, another trillian added, and that’s the official number.

    The big reset being propagated for months now, its a real thing and they want to hide, with all their “environmental and social equality activism”, what it really is about, to get every individual under the dependency of globalised digital money and surveillance:
    https://www.weforum.org/great-reset/

  11. Obs(sessive) is gone, way Orgone:

    “It is only natural that Steiner hated and fought psychoanalysis (18). According to a contemporary anthroposophist, psychoanalysis is “the illusions of Satan” (2). Quite fitting that all characteristics of “Ahriman” (the materialistic devil of anthroposophy) are best applicable to Steiner himself. One has only to compare photos of Steiner with his sketches of Ahriman, to see that Ahriman was nothing but Steiner’s own behated self (15:pictures 14 and 18). The British anthroposophist Trevor Ravenscroft unintentionally reveals this secret identity when on page 275 of his book The Spear of Destiny he cites an alleged “hymn of triumph of the evil powers” (15). In reality this hymn is the very opposite: it is Steiner’s personal “Cosmic Lord’s Prayer!” (6). Thus by way of the confusion typical of anthroposophy an outstanding anthroposophist subconsciously identifies Steiner with Ahriman!”

  12. A few weeks ago you were answering people who criticized your take on Yglesias’s book with “who the fuck you are and why should I care”.

    don’t u think it’s kind of stupid to analogize blog comments to intellectual production? for some ppl it’s worth reading (“matt”), but a lot of ppl are shitposting and emotive.

  13. don’t u think it’s kind of stupid to analogize blog comments to intellectual production?

    Not if you actually care for truth. Truth doesn’t come only in one specific (and eminent!) format.

    or some ppl it’s worth reading (“matt”), but a lot of ppl are shitposting and emotive.

    Yet you answered that way not only to shitposters, but to anyone who disagreed, even to those who independently reached the same conclusions your big-name friends told you.

    And really, emotive? Are you sure you’re talking about the commenters and not about your own behaviour on those posts?

  14. @Obs No, I am not in denial of human agency. I am in denial of giant human conspiracy. Nobody is “open about” being part of your imagined conspiracy.

    I will now self-Godwinize and admit that when I read your oh-so-sure lectures about the Plutocracy/Cultural Marxist conspiracy, I feel like I am in the 1930s listening to someone go on about the Jewish/Bolshevik conspiracy

  15. @Roger: When you lack argument, you have to fall back to name giving and labelling. We know that very well, that’s what the people which existence, the Cultural Marxists, do all the time. Put labels on people, so they don’t have to deal with the subject, with the real arguments.

    The Plutocrats sponsored “Black Lives Matters”, they sponsored the “Climate Change” campaigns and they did sponsor pro-migration campaigns among many others. I don’t care how you call me or what I’m saying, but you have no legitimate argument against it, you can just put it into box, based on the preconditioning the majority of people, since decades, went through. Just pressing red buttons, using “hot words” and feel safe from factual criticism.

    That’s exactly the problem, that’s exactly what’s happening in the USA in particular, this pressing of buttons, but no longer listening, no longer arguing, just failing to deal with reality. The mainstream narrative is correct, which being constructed by the Big Money for long, everything else, no matter how logic or factual, being just “conspiracy” or “loony”.

    There are absurd conspiracy theories around and people which can’t argue straight, but you are free to prove that the money of well known Plutocratic families was not involved in poltical and media campaigns.

    Forgot this?

    https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/warren-buffett-black-lives-matter

    Social media was blackmailed into submission, or at least given the excuse, by openly threatem them to be crushed and partitioned if they don’t comply. And suddenly Google, Youtube and Facebook begin cleansing the internet, deleting so many channels and posts, often without any factual base, just following a clear agenda, and of course, this is not just a conspiracy of “some people”. That’s not the point, but they, over time, always supported one side, the ones which fits into the Oligarchy’s plans.
    You can see that in Germany, where I got a better overview: They now shut down Left & Right, every critic which doesn’t fit in, even the last remaining left wingers. Its absurd, its massive censorship and the people can’t even sue the company – its a private company, under pressure of the US government and its large corporative customers!
    That’s nothing but a preparation for the things to come, for the Great Reset.

    Now we get closer to a totalitarian surveillance & control state, without any opportunity of even criticising the bumpy road we are heading to. And the only thing you can respond with is psychological red buttons. That’s rather poor, it really is.

    Look at what happened in your country, just in the last weeks, in this election, and if you still believe that the Plutocracy, the sum of the Big money in your country, is not involved, you are delusional.

  16. And really, emotive? Are you sure you’re talking about the commenters and not about your own behaviour on those posts?

    dude, the shut fuck up. yeah, i was pissed. but most of you weren’t saying anything i don’t know. you read me, i don’t read you. it’s always been like that.

    perhaps you won’t read me anymore, i won’t mind 🙂 some things never change with commenters.

    Truth doesn’t come only in one specific (and eminent!) format.

    well, some commenters are OK even when they disagree cuz they see intelligent things (e.g., Twinkie on those threads). a lot of the rest of you tho were kind of dumbshits and you really annoyed me. perhaps you were a smart one, tbh you haven’t made a big impression on me so i don’t recall. leave Obs-sized comments or stuff like Matt and i won’t forget

  17. @Obs There is a big difference between “the money of well known Plutocratic families was … involved in political and media campaigns” and there is a giant conspiracy of the Plutocracy and Cultural Marxists to destroy American society. You have taken many things that are undeniably true–and many that are bad–and asserted that they amount to a gigantic conspiracy. I think it is not an accurate description of reality.

    Saying “this bad thing happened” and “that bad thing happened” and therefore it must be a conspiracy is not convincing to me.

  18. hello Razib,
    I’ve been accessing your thoughts via “TheOldReader” but I can’t figure out how to add you there (in fact I cannot seem to figure out how to add anyone there (perhaps since I became a “premium” subscriber)).  

    I couldn’t help but look at the book covers on your splash screen.  I suppose there is no limit there, but I particularly remember the Ten Thousand Year Explosion that I likely picked up from your recommendation.

    Best wishes for your coming experiences with Substack.

  19. dude, the shut fuck up. […] you read me, i don’t read you

    The anxious craving for truth, regardless of the identity or eminence of its originator!

    yeah, i was pissed.

    Finally some honesty. I wonder what else you attribute to the non-eminents while actually being doing yourself. Perhaps the whole “people don’t read blogs and discuss things anymore”?

    and you really annoyed me

    Of course I did. It happens sometimes when people say what you don’t like to hear. I’m not the first to notice this facet of your character, and will not be the last.

    leave Obs-sized comments or stuff like Matt and i won’t forget

    You remember enough though, as you recall being annoyed then and is still quite triggered by what I’m writting.

    perhaps you won’t read me anymore

    I intend to continue reading, but don’t intend to comment often. The loss for not reading the 95% of good content from you would be mine; the loss of not reading the untermensch here is only yours 😉

  20. I intend to continue reading, but don’t intend to comment often. The loss for not reading the 95% of good content from you would be mine; the loss of not reading the untermensch here is only yours

    well, i did laugh at that.

    also, you’re a mleccha. i’ve gone ‘full brown’ (though i identify as white on twitter now)

  21. @moscanarius

    Not to discount anything you said about willingness to engage, but repeatedly doing a take-by-take deconstruction of everything Razib (or anything else anyone for that matter) said is obnoxious Reddit behavior. That’s not engagement or a dialogue, it’s one-sided psychoanalysis, you have to allow a little bit of room for hypocrisy and double-standards when talking to someone, and I mean that without any irony. We’re all hypocrites and have blind spots and have visceral reactions and apply different standards to different people and situations to varying extents, so pointing fingers over these the slightest evidence of these things is uninteresting.

    I read Razib’s blog for his book recommendations, but as for comments I would rather read Obs’s long-winded rants than part-by-part quotes with “haha, I caught you being hypocritical/emotional/ whatever”.

  22. me when I see an Obs comment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qu46svpJ5g

    haven’t made it to the end of one yet!

    As for the piece, I think wokeness is overrated. Right now, the President is literally trying to maintain power even though he lost the election – an unprecedented and completely insane event. The antithesis of Liberalism. And yet, the Right says very little. Today my co-worker informed me that Biden stole the election and Obama is orchestrating the lock-downs. Is that any better than what the Left has to offer, culturally or politically? A culture who supports a power grab like that is more perverse than anything the Left has to offer.

  23. when i decide to read it’s coherent and interesting at least! (re: Obs)

    so i indulge. in past years i put tighter leash on comments but not as many comments here as there used to be…

  24. I remember when you moved to Discover blogs 10 years ago I had just discovered GNXP, I left a comment and you said “the comments were so bad I want to shoot myself in the head.” Mine was 1 of 2 comments for that post..LOL. I thought about that a bit ago and actually started laughing out loud to myself:) I must have improved at least a bit! Ah, good times, we all have to start somewhere.
    Don’t think you’ve called anyone a retard in a while, I kinda miss that…

  25. repeatedly doing a take-by-take deconstruction of everything Razib (or anything else anyone for that matter) said is obnoxious Reddit behavior.

    This obnoxiousness has a reason, and I wasn’t the one who started. If you don’t like, you don’t have to read it.

    That’s not engagement or a dialogue, it’s one-sided psychoanalysis

    Which, again, has a reason to be. You think razib was doing his part of the dialogue on that meltdown thread, or even here?

    you have to allow a little bit of room for hypocrisy and double-standards when talking to someone

    Here’s the thing: to me, it’s not a little bit of hipocrisy needing a little bit of room. Writting that you have “an almost pathological need for truth” need for truth on your introductory post for your new high-visibility project, while behaving the opposite is quite more than “slightest evidence” to me. And since the more gentle comments from others couldn’t get any message across to him, maybe let’s try something different and see if it works.

    but as for comments I would rather read Obs’s long-winded rants than part-by-part quotes

    Which is entirely within your rights, and I don’t hold it against you. Bear in mind, though, that I am not writting to entertain you, and since I don’t plan on commenting much more anyways, your statement of preferences will not have any practical development.

  26. well, i did laugh at that.

    Good that you finally got to relax!

    also, you’re a mleccha

    Yeah, I didn’t expect to be seen here as anything but, and I’m fine with that.

  27. @Obs:
    People have been betting the dollar is going to blow up for a long time now (I recall Peter Schiff, thinking he was vindicated by 2008, arguing along those lines against Mish Shedlock). They can always say it’s inevitable in the future, so without giving a specific time period they can avoid being falsified. But a belief that doesn’t actually help you anticipate anything is dubious. Rent’s due.

  28. @Robert Ford

    “As for the piece, I think wokeness is overrated. Right now, the President is literally trying to maintain power even though he lost the election – an unprecedented and completely insane event. The antithesis of Liberalism. And yet, the Right says very little. Today my co-worker informed me that Biden stole the election and Obama is orchestrating the lock-downs. Is that any better than what the Left has to offer, culturally or politically? A culture who supports a power grab like that is more perverse than anything the Left has to offer.”

    You pretty much nailed it. Wokeness is becoming a bit of a shibboleth.

    And frankly, people on the right are quite adept at highlighting relatively inconsequential (in material terms) perversions on the left, and beautifully expert at completely ignoring (and often aiding and abetting) incredibly consequently “perversion” writ large from their own side.

    There’s a reason contemporary conservatism (especially of the Trumpian variety) appeals to the sickest/most depraved members of our society.

  29. @Roger: The Plutocratic money is actively supporting Cultural Marxism directly, at least four way:
    – Sponsoring, direct money flow to the organisations
    – Media propaganda and control, like within the movie and music industry, radio & TV stations, newspapers, but also by skewed and censored social media content.
    – Influence on education with organisations and propadanda promoting specific content throughout the country and worldwide
    – Corporate culture and pressure – like people having to attend courses of Cultural Marxist indoctrionation, even if they are working in fields like tech & administration.
    Or people getting fired, without any legal base, because they are saying something “inappropriate”. People no longer getting hotel rooms, credit cards and most important bank accounts by private companies, because of their political activism.

    And the last point is really the most important, because it foreshadows the future, if people have to rely on digital money from just one monopolistic provider, like the FED, or just a few big banks controlling everything after the purge. You don’t need to make a big case, you don’t need to put them in prison or shoot them, you can make them starve and ruin them by the click of a button. Private companies can decide they ruin you instantly, even if you have people trusing and supporting you: They all can be caught and disciplined by having just one way of transferring money left.

    This is the wet dream of bankers, it was so all along, to have every citizen as a completely dependent subject, rather than a free customer, at the mercy of their money support. And that’s something they openly propagate and spread for years.

    The most perverted thing about this is, that the same people propagating that, have shadow bank accounts in Jersey and the City of London network. They transfer billions without paying taxes and while again financing or corrupting political movements which just do what they want. They can fix it, this documentary is not fake or “conspiracy”, this is the real thing:

    That’s why the NYT journalists teared “Occupy Wallstreet” apart, while at the same time spreading the most aggressive Cultural Marxist memes and messages all day long. Its selective usage of a corrupted ideology in the USA.

    Only poor up to medium upper class level people will be fully dependent on the digital money account control. People at the very top, the per mill on top, have their ways, they already do for decades now, thanks to the City of London.

    And it just shows how the City of London and the New York Wall Street created a network of financial control, which, as we know, directly supports Cultural Marxists movements throughout the world. Go figure.

    A classic example for real world and real time manipulation we now experience on a daily basis works like that: Cultural Marxist activists from a small, unknown group being blown up to a “nation-wide shitstorm” by the traditional mass media, while all opposing, or even just alleviating and moderate comments being either censored, or framed, like you tried with what I said.

    This is impossible to happen with support from above. The CM appear larger and more influential, than they are on the ground, because of their support from above, which on the other hand made them grow, because it became “hip and moral” among the young colleage populace. But not just because of “mad professors”, but the constant media support, especially from the music & entertainment industry, where opposing voices being shunned now for decades and those few which tried being made an example of.

    Concerning the “conspiracy”, I could list you some of the most important American and Atlantic institutions, its members, its private financing and relations, how big corporate leaders and bankers are directly involved in the strategic, short and long term planning for the “Western future”. This is no fantasy, this is happening in the real world and on top sitting the very same people which finance Cultural Marxist movements. Go figure, once more.

    @TGGP: As you might know already, I’m not against state intervention per se, which would be idiotic. I don’t think it has to collapse inevitably, just like that, but there are circumstances which make it extremely likely, even under the conditons the US elite has created – or because they want it to happen. Also I know, that with the transition to the digital money economy, things are possible which weren’t before. Like what was a reasonable assumption about a currency’s collapse 30 years ago are no more.

    However, the dollar is approaching a situation which is truly unprecedented. I’m not saying I know a date or that its 100 percent inevitable, because of what I said, but it reaches a highly likely tipping point very soon. And obviously the Corona crisis, which now being abused by the Great Reset movement from above, will accelerate things. The gap between the real economy and the financial bubble became so big, that it created an unhealthy relationship which to uphold in a stable economic environment seems nearly impossible.

    And the real point is: Even if just in case, the FED-leadership and financial Oligarchy has a back up plan. Because nobody knows if and when exactly a tipping point might be reached, they have to prepare a currency reform. They would immensely stupid if not. That’s like playing with fire without anything to extinguish the flames and no insurance.

  30. I looked at the subscribe option, and I couldn’t find how much it cost without entering my email. Usually that’s a definite “Nope” for me – companies that won’t let you browse their catalog without having your address are not good companies to deal with, in my unfortunate experience with commercial spam.

    The box to check for gift subscriptions, though, does have a number, so perhaps it’s just an oversight. But I thought I’d at least mention the omission, in case you didn’t know.

    I hope this new venture is highly successful!

  31. Right now, the President is literally trying to maintain power even though he lost the election – an unprecedented and completely insane event.

    I think you exaggerate. He’s spending a lot of money and filing a lot of suits to get votes recounted. Big f***ing deal. The results will come back that he’s lost and his supporters will be more likely to accept it than they would be if he’d just conceded on election night and instead all the rumors had swirled and never been resolved.

    Too many people have underestimated Trump and not tried to understand what he’s doing. I fear that’s where “insane” is coming from. “I don’t understand why he’s doing it so he must be insane.” But control of the Senate will depend on two run-offs in Georgia. Which in turn will largely depend on turn-out. He’s trying to keep his voters energized, to get them to come out and vote in the run-off. A good deal of Trump’s support comes from people who think he’s a fighter. If he gives up without a fight …

  32. No, that’s really not what he’s doing. What he’s actually trying to do is bully GOP-controlled state legislatures into seating fake electors.
    That fact that you’d go so far out of your way as to make excuses for him, especially after all he’s already done, is just pure intellectual cowardice on your part.
    Imagine if the Dems tried to overturn Trump’s win due to Russian interference. This is even worse than that only he’s actually doing it.

  33. Eh, kind of getting drawn into the discussion here, as much as out of spirit with the OP’s appeal to timeless truths rather than messy transient things (apologies!). I’d personally doubt (as a mere foreigner) he’s actually that much of a strategic grandmaster or really even thinking too much about his party rather than self (history suggests not). Nor that he actually believes he can maintain power by all this trumped up charade. Most likely he’s just trying to make the succession as difficult and as questionably legitimate as his opponents previously made his (4 years of debacles of investigations etc.).

    Try to widen every sliver of doubt and half truth and magnify it and exaggerate it to be retweeted and otherwise repeated. I would expect he mainly wants a shadow of illegitimacy and resistence to darken and diminish Biden’s whole presidency, mostly as “payback”. It’s disgraceful of course – whatever you think about the wider political trend he’s tied to, it’s pure revenge and spite and self-interest, right?

    Of course, it’s not like there’s much of a spirit of graceful concession that the Left and the establishment can really appeal across a divide to Right wing journalists to denounce this. They’re wholly without a leg to stand on there. Besides everything else that happened over the 4 years, look at right now and you’ve got senior, or at least prominent, Democratic figures talking up proposals for “Truth and Reconciliation Commissions” for what they apparently view as something akin to collaborators with an autocratic occupying regime, a move absolutely out of step with the spirit of democratic concession and succession, really worthy of tinpot unstable pseudo-democratic regimes (even if you win elections, we’ll make sure no one wants to work with you by threatening them with going on an enemies blacklist once you’re out of power). It’s just remarkably strange that this line of proposal even seems remotely mainstream. (Can you imagine if Trump had suggested publicly doxxing all Obama and Clinton’s supporters in 2016?). I have never heard of the like in a long-standing democracy. Deeply weird. Then other other people treating as a joke some pretty blatant insider failure to do duty by honestly disclosing to Trump troop deployments to Syria, effectively enacting policy against his public mandate. Again, deeply, deeply weird.

    Hardly makes anyone rush to encourage re-establish and affirm a norm of concession…

    (This dynamic of, if you win, well, we’ll first delegitimize you and try to remove you with Fifth Column claims of being in hock to foreign powers, then we’ll mobilize an internal #Resistance within your government to ignore or subvert your orders (they’ll be shunned by polite society at best), and then at the end when you’re out of power we’ll threaten to put your supporters on enemies’ lists, and perhaps fling you in jail, pour encourager les autres. Even the rhetoric of that, without the ability to enact and with a lot of pompous bluster, undermines stable succession of power by democratic election. The more a group says that they’d do this, the more their opponents will justify to themselves they must preemptively strike, and settle the matter decisively and first. Or believe that they can get credibly away with simply arguing that they “shot first” and the public would largely go along with it!

    This is aside from the tinpot things that Progressive commentors apparently wanted Biden do but he can’t feasibly, like Supreme Court packing and state line redrawing, to try and manufacture a state of permanent Democratic win for the main branches of state. Progressives seem to be constantly now suggesting these ridiculously tinpot, dimwitted things that completely abandon or disregard any sort of norms of the idea of stable succession of power, let alone plan for stable succession to actually happen, that just encourage actual one-upmanship.).

  34. No, it is not intellectual cowardice. It is trying to look at what is actually happening and not trying to fit it into the comfortable template, “Trump has done so many awful things this must be awful too.”

    Come January 20, there will be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power to Joe Biden, maybe more orderly than the one from Obama to Trump.

    (If there isn’t, call me on it and I’ll admit I was wrong.)

  35. @Obs

    Sure, they can control everything. Instacancel people and all.

    And what happens? The amount of the cancelled grows. Meanwhile in the surrounding areas of this polity (let’s call it Cringistan), the less internet-using, the more poor, “old” the hostility towards them grows.

    It’s a system that would rot so quickly that someone would open the floodgates and it all collapses. And it will be extremely bloody, for at that point everyone will mandatorily have some mental illness due to pollution and dysgenics. 99% of the world kills eachother, that’s the high mark. The Plutocracy wants this long term, but they’re the first to join ’em.

    After that, hopefully, normal people supremacy is established

  36. “also, you’re a mleccha. i’ve gone ‘full brown’ (though i identify as white on twitter now)”

    When going transracial I thought the money and prestige these days is in going full Dolezal.

    moscanarius, please do not let Razib’s fun show really cause you to not comment. You were spot on with the one that started this, God knows it is good for Razib to be reminded of his own flawed nature now and again. The fireworks and “you read me, i don’t read you” are just part of the show.

  37. @Obs, you should be putting your money where your mouth is by shorting the dollar, buying inflation-protected securities. The TIPS spread indicates what the market as a whole is betting will happen in the future.

  38. Why do you repeat the lie that covid-19 is the worst pandemic in 100 years?

    Th 1958 Asian flu killed twice as many people around the world as covid

    The 1968 Hong Kong flu killed a similar number to covid

    Considering the smaller world population at the time and the fact that both killed younger people than covid.
    Covid should correctly be categorised as the third worst.

    It’s nothing special in a fatality sense,of course it is worst in a reaction sense. But I’d argue that is simply modern media and the gullibility of the average person.

  39. @Razib: Actually it happened more than once, I just pasted the link and the imbedded video appeared.

    @Svevlad:
    “Sure, they can control everything. Instacancel people and all.”

    They don’t to control people, but push those which fit into their agenda driven campaigns and cancel or suppress everybody else. That’s why I repeat “Occupy Wallstreet” as an example all the time. It was the single most important left-inspired movement of the last decades and it was ruined so quickly, by the same media opinion control, because it could have gotten out of hand and touch the Plutocracy itself.

    Whenever that happens, you will see, and it will happen again, “the good guys will become the bad guys” out of a sudden, and the Oligarchy will try to team up with the so far suppressed other groups they can use, in a manipulated fight to silence any criticism which could interfere with their plans and interests.

    That’s why you see them, at times, supporting religious corrupted leaders, conservative corrupted leaders (like G.W. Bush and J. McCain) or anybody. They would even team up with right wing radicals, for a moment, to get rid of a left wing attack, just to dump those again.

    This is also the major problem of American politics for generations now, with your whole voting competition and system: You don’t have independent politicians and parties at all, they have no sound and solid ideological base, they have nothing and can be easily outplayed or corrupted all day long.

    In Europe the very same thing being tried to, but people like it even less, they are not used to that corrupted crap, so the system will get in trouble big time if they try to establish that kind of “mainstream politics” in Europe too quickly.

    What were the Republicans for decades now? What did they do for their voters, for the white middle class, for conservative minded people of all races? They did s***t.

    Actually, Trump might be no good person and lacking at times temper and competence alike, but about the fundamentals, he was almost always right, and he was one of the first real and more independent presidents the USA had in a long time, minimum for decades.
    Its a shame that you have to use tactics like he did, to even get a chance, but its too important as he could just have give in, and despite all his fails, he too knows that, its not just his ego, for that he did too much.

    Like some people said, with all his simple lies and bad acting, he was the most honest president for long, because the others were just better liers, better actors, did their job for the Plutocracy.

    And how rigged the transnational Western system is, you can easily realise if looking at the fact that Trump was always described as a warmonger and what not, while Obama got the Peace Nobel Prize. I mean seriously? He was the warmonger, he started more wars and did more illegitimate killings than most other presidents in the history of the USA!!!
    He was a puppet of the Plutocracy from day one and Hillary Clinton was ready to start a big war in the Near East, to help Islamists in Syria out, to risk a 3rd World War. She wanted a No-fly zone, in Syria, that’s what she said in the election debate!

    And how the whole media coverage of the Trump administration was skewed and one sided, even worse internationally than in the USA. They constantly put him in bad light, as they put Obama and Biden now in good light, no matter what decisions they really made.

    This doesn’t look well, and what happened at the election in the USA too, from the media coverage, to election day, was a shame. The whole thing was obviously manipulated, how far this went is open to debate, but it was one big fight of the Plutocracy with total media manipulation and more than three times the money put into the “Democractic” campaign, and flanking media campaigns being created, just to make the alternative less attractive to the electorate (“Me Too”, “Black Lives Matter” – everything from the Cultural Marxist activists). This was disgusting.

    And now this “new Democratic president” will get into office, one of the first things he is promising is bringing “international relations back to normal”, well great, does that mean even more wars than Obama, even more illegal kills? Even more support for Islamists? Starting where Obama ended and catching up on what Hillary missed? Even more Cultural Marxist indoctrination on all levels, even more illegal immigration being overlooked? More surveillance, more censorship?

    Of course people which realise what this is about don’t like it to happen, its awful. And if Republicans would begin to backstab the only alternative there is right now, what the corrupted part already started (Bush anyone), they ruin their sole legitimation to exist any more.

    Because nobody needs the “tax cut corporate help” party with hypocritical public prayers any more. Its about more than that, this has become too serious for everybody in the USA and the world.

    Its such a shame many people don’t realise what Trump really meant, it meant just a slow down and pause from the direct path into oblivion. Because its bad enough without a president on the Plutocratic and Cultural Marxist side, how bad will it become with a president which owes them a favour big time, after they didn’t covered his corruption and supported him on all levels? He is weak, he is dependent, he is a complete puppet of the forces behind him.

    After the Obama and Clinton, I really fear for world peace with this maniacs. This will get ugly, with the ongoing economic crisis as a catalysator.

    @TGGP: That’s an insider game, like it was at the end of the 1920’s. I have not the means nor intention to speculative big time. But you know too, that the stock market will implode, it has too and then everything will go quickly. They can’t stop injecting dollars into the market, this is a vicious cycle, this is decisive.
    In theory, if they would stop the dollar expansion right now, they might be able to consolidate things, but they can’t. Because the reason they do it is, that the markets would have collapsed already without.

    Yet that’s a good strategy only if you can do it for a limited time and then the market stabilises itself. But now they have pushed the market to a level, with the real world economy falling down so much behind it, that the gap became too big. That’s a distance which can’t be bridged any more – or which is in any case extremely difficult to manage. It was never done before.

    So they can choose whether they make the system collapse by a stock market crash which will be followed by Dollar bust, or they continue the strategy until the dollar busts and then the stock markets.

    There is in any case no easy way out any more, not without a real crisis, this is more than a “simple recessions”. And if the peaceful “Great Reset” transition doesn’t work out, I’m afraid they will consider the “War Option”. We know that from the past, and now the USA are at this tipping point, with a destabilised hegemony and financial-economic system. Which was all the fault of the cooperation of New York Wallstreet with the City of London in this crooked system of shadow banking and trusts for the upper per mill – or rather less.

    Like in 1929, the financial “elite” will need an exit strategy, after having saved their influence and share, even purge the market from unwanted competitors. But they need a restart afterwards and this will be abused for a big political transition and not happening that easily. In the USA the whole middle and regular upper class, below the top per mill or just 0,01 percent, might lose its savings, this will be a bomb.

  40. @Susan: Thank you for watching. The problem with many people shouting “that’s just a conspiracy-theory” don’t even know the facts, how power being accumulated and expanded in the current “Western” system. This video is key in understanding some of the most important aspects of what’s going on in the financial sphere. The City of London is still far more important for the global Financial Networks than many people around the globe realise. No wonder, its nothing people get taught in school, not even at the University on a regular base.

  41. @Roger Sweeney

    I don’t know if this whole thing is Trump’s master plan to cast a shadow over Biden’s presidency, but on the Georgia run-off elections for the Senate, a partial motivation for all these challenges is not to drive turn-out among his base per se, because his base doesn’t neatly overlap with those who supporter Perdue or especially Loeffler, but rather to shine a glaring spotlight on potential local voting irregularities in one locality that ten years ago no one would have cared about and just chalked up to machine politics. Given how the last two elections have unfolded, not to mention the 2000 presidential election and the 2018 Georgia and Florida governor’s races (the former of which Stacey Abrams never conceded, claiming voter suppression because the Secretary of State had purged the voter rolls in the year preceding the election), a couple thousand suspicious votes here and there appear much more consequential, and Trump might want his supporters to get Republican state and local politicos to take a tougher line on voting integrity.

    The dueling cries of “voter suppression” vs. “voter fraud” (which are both legitimate concerns under our current system, but are not well-defined enough to not easily be used to sweep in plenty of anodyne, non-nefarious activity that would pass without remark in Europe or Canada) are going to be a major political theme of the coming decade; the country needs some genuine, across-the-board reform on voting procedures at the federal level in order to maintain trust in the democratic voting process on all sides of the political divide. What those should be, I don’t know, but it can’t be all in one direction.

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