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The New Frontier
Thinking beyond the desert of the now.
It’s interesting coming to this new place. I like the substack architecture and I’ve heard good things about it, but the primary reason I’m here is because of Balaji S. I heard him the other several days during my daily podcast walk in which I do as many steps in the morning as I can while listening on my headphones before my ire gets up and I must flee back to my keyboard. I’m more sympathetic to Balaji’s point of view which his host Eric Weinstein calls West Coast thinking, but EW has a nasty and important point. Nobody throws around $10 million like the government and the grant machine. Human institutions, designed to represent and protect us all, are our greatest investment and their equity and cash flow are irrevocably critical, no matter how much we digit heads are inclined to disrupt and disintermediate.
If the IDW is to be believed, indeed if anyone with more brains and grace than money and power is to be believed, we are in a battle testing whether this nation of liberty can long endure. I have some ugly thoughts about that and I may as well get it off my chest to see if I can put it eloquently. I think it really comes down to this: Who is your Leviathan?
It’s a frightening thought to imagine that we in the US are moving from a Lockean world into a Hobbesian one, but it is not too difficult for me to imagine given the default of the rule of law in Seattle that we may be about ready to replay the dangers of 1968. I remember learning Swahili at home as a young child of a Pan-Africanist father who, in preparations for immanent revolution, saw his family’s future best served by programs like the land reforms (giveaways) around the new city of Brasilia. I was told that I was going to need a lot of shots if we decided to go to South America or West Africa. So this passport picture was taken.
Fortunately, Pops came to a better conclusion which was to stay away from the radicalisms that made his family a possible target for the FBI, and so ultimately he went into the public health profession. We didn’t leave the burning states of America and the worst predations I ever faced were those of ordinary street gangsters in the days when they rarely dealt enough contraband to make their business deadly. Nevertheless, I did gain what is generally known among the tactical professionals as situational awareness, aka street smarts. I learned, at the risk of ignorance bringing me into intimate proximity to one or more knuckle sandwiches, how to defend myself and how to sense when talk was just talk and when it was more. You can definitely say I had occasion to employ more than just verbal judo.
Nothing quite describes our time than one in which verbal martial arts are deployed in force. So much of it is false, like the poses of a man who announces upon entering jail for the first time that his hands are registered as deadly weapons with the FBI. One is brought to mind of Pryor and Wilder in the film Stir Crazy. Yet this empty rhetoric is effective. It works for Donald Trump as well as it works for SJWs. As true martial artists and people who have actually fought for their survival know fake kung fu when they see it, similarly there are capable people who are not fooled or persuaded by the bold talk of the politically desperate and manipulative. While you may not be able to cheat an honest man or trip up the adroit critic, the common man is certainly buffeted by the great gusts of populist windbags. I think we’ve all become a bit too accustomed to their bad breath.
If we are truly in for Hobbesian times, we may have to face the eventuality that truly deadly weapons may be brought to bear. When people say ‘defund the police’ we would be foolish to dismiss their stated intent. Take them at their words. Prepare for the fact that we may no longer be able to dismiss the consequences of Maoist fanaticism in the United States. At the very least, one might choose to [re]read that excellent book ‘The Porcupine’ by Julian Barnes, not that it will protect your family when the mob comes, as the Twitter feed of reporter Andy Ngo shows it has, even to Provo, UT.
They say he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword. We’ve already witnessed plenty of people living and dying by mere words. There is no McCarthy, and yet there is. This is the Black Scare, if I would be so bold as to coin that phrase. It’s hard to imagine that someone of sufficient gravitas might merely appeal in public for decency and see decency prevail. Not today. Today tens of millions of Americans shelter in place in a battered economy while the best selling book says they are truly fragile white supremacists in their hearts.
There are many Americas. Although I didn’t believe him then, I understood what was meant by Nathan Glazer when he declared ‘we are all multiculturalists now.’ Now, almost 25 years in retrospect, we have seen the death of integration in the minds of a new growing mass of Americans who have decided to belong to the American tribe in which we are judged with special consideration of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin. I’m no legal scholar but I can see how we are in for fights when the language of without consideration, in our civil rights laws comes into question.
Here then is the frontier. Will we fight for law and its defense to remain neutral, or will we allow these petty mice to nibble away while we pretend our foundations are not under threat? I cannot see how the actions of the creation of CHOP can be allowed to stand when it is clear that such individuals have no intent upon delivering equal protection under their new regimes. I cannot see how this empty rhetoric has disabled the defense of the common man and why so many of us are standing in the middle of the ring without our dukes up. I see a tribe of Americans that has only the courage that mob rule has given them and the rest of us yielding reason and territory to them.
I stand here with my words, such as they are, with my wits and reason but with a lot less humor than I would prefer to bring. The longer we allow these ill winds to blow, the more knotted and tangled the threads of our liberty will become. Then it will be too late. It will be time for swords.