In Honor of Columbus Day

I love Columbus Day.  When I was a young guy working to feed a growing family, it was a little oasis of freedom in the long desert of work that stretched from Labor Day to Thanksgiving.  Sure, there’s Veteran’s Day but by then the cold weather has stripped the trees bare of leaves and the cold precludes barbecues and outdoor activities.  But on October 12th you could put some burgers on the grill and back when such things were done you might have a little parade in town and the school would run a competition to see which parents could pretend their children built the best float looking like the Nina and the Pinta and the Santa Maria.  And every little kid could recite, “In Fourteen Hundred Ninety-Two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”

But that was before we found out that Columbus was a horrible monster.  His founding of the New World was the cause of the destruction of the indigenous civilizations that lived in North and South America.

And that is the case.  His discovery uniting both halves of our world sparked the greatest expansion of human population, scientific discovery and prosperity since the discovery of fire.  Compare the state of knowledge in any art or science in 1500 and 1700 and you will find a leap forward that can only be explained by the dynamism created by the Age of Discovery.  Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Leibniz, Newton, Huygens and endless other scientists and inventors appear almost magically once the potential for expanding into a boundless new world fired the imagination and provided the material wealth to pay for all those dreams.  And all these advances in mathematics, physics, chemistry, medicine, and the technology that it spawned have changed our world immeasurably.

The children and crackpots who disparage Columbus say he was a genocidal murderer.  They claim that if he had not discovered the New World that the indigenous people would be living in peace and prosperity.  From what I’ve read of the Aztecs peace and prosperity was not their strong suit.  A civilization whose hallmark is conquering neighboring peoples and then dragging the conquered warriors to the top of a pyramid and cutting their still beating hearts out of their chests doesn’t sound like something we should be grieved about putting out of business.  In the same vein what is recorded about the warfare practiced by the North American tribes against each other isn’t exactly what the tree huggers claim was going on.  I think it would be more than fair to say that Old World and New World were fairly evenly matched when it came to cruelty.  Where they differed was in technology.  Swords, spears and arrows really don’t compare to cannons and guns.  Steel beats wood, stone and even bronze.  Cavalry can rout poorly trained infantry pretty handily especially if they’ve never seen a horse before.

The history of mankind is the story of conquest of one people by another.  But what differs is what the conquerors do once they rule.  Genghis Khan and his Mongols conquered the greater part of Eurasia.  But they have left nothing in their wake to justify the slaughter of untold millions of human beings.  The world created by the Europeans following in the wake of Columbus has changed humanity from a short-lived, pain-gripped creature always hungry for his next meal to almost pampered aristocrats trying to keep from being bored by the technological wonders that are strewn around our homes like detritus.  Pictures of the “poor” in a third world country reveals the odd sight that they are all a little on the fat side lately.

And whoever heard of a conqueror giving back his conquests to those he’s conquered.  But that is exactly what the Europeans have allowed in almost the whole of their possessions that they didn’t colonize.  Most of Asia and Africa were handed back to the indigenous peoples during the Twentieth Century.  Whoever heard of that?

So, there is my defense of Columbus Day.  The Europeans proved that they were just as ferocious as every other human population on the planet.  They just had better science and better technology.  The Europeans invented this whole “United Nations, kumbaya, We Are the World” thing and maybe it’ll catch on to a greater extent.  So far it only seems to be us turning the other cheek.  But one day humans will get around to conquering each other on a grand scale again.  There will be other empires and other genocides.  It’s human nature.  But I’d just like to say that Europeans invented the wherewithal to destroy human life on a global scale and so far, they’ve mostly used it only on each other, not the helpless savages that they found around the world.  Hardly a reason to be ashamed.

Happy Columbus Day.

Guest Contributor – The Fat Man – Antifa, Sci Fi, The Bomb, Consumerism and The Death of Innovation – Part 3

Some Evidence

Some case studies of innovation begin with a scientific advance such as the identification of the photoelectric effect or other quantum phenomenon and traces its application to an invention dependent on that advance such as the laser. Other descriptions are more ethnographic, observing an industrial ecosystem, then focusing in on its niche like the Connecticut River Valley manufacturing industry of the 18th century and its development of interchangeable gun parts. More quantitative accounts begin with economic dynamics by measuring the role of capital, labor and then try to show excess growth attributed to changes in technology processes or investment.

All of these approaches seek to account for growth not related to easily measurable factors by looking at newly discovered insights or newly introduced technologies that confer some advantage to an offering competing in a market. Many of these accounts are useful in documenting the precedent conditions to productive change. They have been reduced to a list in many papers and articles on innovation and economic growth. They include access to basic research and related intellectual property, capital, talent, geographic or virtual proximity and so on. Other less concrete factors are also named such as entrepreneurism, leadership or vision. This body of literature is rapidly growing but the more that is written about innovation and the greater the attempts to reduce it to an economic model, the further the goal seems to move. The sudden drop in the total factor productivity in the US after the 1970s seems less understood the more that is written about it. Commentators, whether economist or philosophers, business leaders or politicians, have moved from qualitative analysis to social pleading yet offer no reliable, let alone predictable, hypothesis.

To some, the loss of American vitality is seen as an emergency, a surrendering or dissipation of the most valuable trend in human history. The loss of a cultural and economic heritage that transformed the world from a brutal place to a prosperous one. To others the change was the inevitable correction as resources were redistributed by political systems evolving away from their imperial structures of exploitation. Why do some students and proponents of innovation see it as somehow related to culture? Why do discussions of innovation seem to invite political explanations? At any level of analysis, it would seem innovation has almost nothing to do with politics and philosophy, rather a question of science, economics, and commerce. It is true that politics influence and at times determines investment in science and seek to manage economies, if not specific markets, but does that mean we can find the source of innovation in political processes?

The issue of what changed that precipitated the reduction in growth of the US economy and, apparently, innovation has a stock list of suspects. Government regulation is a commonly cited culprit. In the case of nuclear energy this seems irrefutable. Corporatism is another clear candidate. Anyone who carefully analyzes big company structures and processes, from their silo functions to their anti-competitive strategies and general slow-footedness knows that the landscape of a shrinking number of large companies dominating legacy industries can only be poison to innovation. It is hard to consider these and other familiar hypotheses that purport to account for the decrease in innovation, such as failed schools, family breakdown and the loss of faith, without turning away from the question in despair, even horror.

Perhaps it is better to start with a more direct examination of innovation in the past versus today. For example, the slowing of progress in individual transportation in the last fifty years. Why don’t cars fly? It is harder to make a car fly than roll so innovation today won’t look like innovation a century ago. This is the low hanging fruit explanation, flying is harder, but what does that mean? Well, making a car fly is not an incremental change from progressively making cars roll faster and more efficiently. In fact, making a car fly may not be an innovation at all. Innovation is not the invention of new things for their own sake. Innovation solves replication problems. What replication problem does a flying car solve? How much faster does individual transportation need to move over the earth’s surface than a mile a minute? And, for that matter, how much faster than a mile a second does flight need to achieve? The low hanging fruit explanation does seem to touch on something useful, but not in the ordinary sense of the barrier of increasing complexity. It also points to the question of need.

Commentators point to aging American cities with their 19th century subways and mid-20th century skyscrapers as evidence of our decline. (We might observe, as an aside, that no one ever complains about the age of buildings in Rome or Paris) They point to slower travel times, increasing real energy costs and shortening life expectancies in the same breath to demonstrate the drop in the pace of innovation. These seem alarming symptoms of our loss of progress. But are they really? How high does a building need to rise? How often should they be replaced? How many millions should a city accommodate? Subways certainly age, need to be maintained and improved, but should a civilization’s innovative energies be focused on subways? Surely this is not a problem of complexity, nor was the decision to abandon supersonic transport. These are choices that have little to do with innovation as normally discussed.

It is clear that in the postwar period, in different forms in Europe, the Americas, Asia, and the rest of the developed world, much of these societies’ productive energy was focused on “social progress”. Some would call much of it, the changing role of women, concern for the environment, other post-imperial transitions like industrial nationalization and the rise of the welfare state, social engineering that at least in name might be considered innovation. These large reallocations of resources and dislocations of existing social structures undoubtedly had equally large effects on the focus of our productive energies, if not to derail them. For much of the industrial world social progress represented a deliberate regression away from the culture of Manhattan Projects and moon shots. Social progress led not to building more advanced cities but housing projects for the poor, which, in turn, led many to leave cities altogether. In America, the suburban “innovation”, born of the federal interstate highway program, made things cheaper, more convenient at first, and increased standards of living substantially for at least two decades. But it did not just increase the marginal quality of upper middle-class family existence by eventually sending most women into the workforce and expanded the average size of a suburban house and the number of cars in their driveways.  Living standards per capita measured in occupied square feet, miles driven, cost per student, ballooned in the 1970’s and 1980’s until even lower middle-class families living outside of cities occupied larger houses, drove further and spent more per student on education, even consumed more calories, than their counterparts in any other society. Was this not productive change?

Many would say no. Those social and economic changes may have been desired after the two wars and the prospect of global extinction, but they did not yield what innovation always does. Doing more with less, rather the opposite. Reallocation and baby booms might be products of innovation, but they do not bring it about. But the social and material changes in family structure and standards of living do suggest an answer to our question of why building and subway construction have not advanced. They didn’t need to, certainly not with the suburbanization of society and the massive expansion car culture.

There are parallels of this redirection of innovation in energy, in air transportation, even in medicine. A central concept to the development of new medical therapies is the idea of “unmet need”. Still at the dawn of the 20th century most people in the world died of gastric perforation. This mortality was directly tied to waterborne infections and contaminants so the unmet medical need for gastric disease was very high in the year 1900. Epidemiology showed not just mortality, but morbidity, other suffering than death such as poor nourishment, pain, and loss of work, were also caused by digestive disease. At first, slowly through the improvement of urban waste management and water treatment, and then more quickly after World War II through development of a series of pharmacotherapies such as antibiotics, then H-2 antagonists, PPI’s and finally triple antibiotic therapies, the medical unmet need for upper gastric disorders has largely been addressed.

This does not mean that no one suffers an upset stomach anymore. Prosperity and the overabundance of calories ensure that people still need digestive therapies. But as a public health priority, upper digestive disease has fallen from top to bottom. This is reflected in the demand for infrastructure professionals and new upper digestive pharmacotherapies that address digestive disease. Public engineering in the first half of the 20th century in America was a leading professional undertaking as the nation built its cities to postwar capacity. Those same H-2 antagonists and PPIs were the world’s largest selling and most lucrative drugs to treat aging patients born while H. Pylori, a water born pathogen, was prevalent. Today large-scale hydro-engineering projects occur at a small fraction of their former frequency and the gross sales of gastric pharmacotherapies and the innovative creation of new ones are comparatively tiny and few.

Is the contraction of PPI markets and the reduction of sewer treatment projects evidence of an innovation crisis or reduction in unmet need? Why has subway and high-rise construction investment fallen? In the 1920s as the New York City subway system was completed and was the envy of the world, the city had between 8 and 9 million residents that paid a billion fares per year. Those numbers are still largely the same today. Before the completion of most high-rise housing, New York City reached its steady state of population. By the 1970s and during the decades of the decline in US total factor productivity, national firms and their employees were abandoning New York City, raising vacancy rates. So why build and innovate more subways, buildings and their associated technologies? What was the unmet need? The answer is, there was none.

The only objection raised by these facts, that even the poor in the West have excessive basic resources in calories, in utilization of individual transport, spending on education and housing space, is that people are still poor and life for many is grim. But is this a problem of innovation, of productive growth? Would making energy free, as once imagined, or food free, as it nearly is in terms of minimum daily calories, make life less grim? The answer is no, with the sole exception of the extremely poor, defined by the World Bank as less than $1 dollar-a-day of income, a vanishingly small population in the US and one not attributable to jobless or homeless conditions but mental illness and drug addiction. There is no evidence that more square feet or more individual driving or more spending on education will meaningfully reduce the true unmet needs of lower income people. It may make car companies, energy companies, landlords and teacher unions richer but greater innovation in individual transportation, education, energy and food production will not reduce unmet needs in these areas because they are already so low. No amount of additional spending above the already impossibly high per student costs to simply teach a first grader to read will improve literacy rates. Even $100,000 per student per year would not improve the reading scores of the urban and rural poor. And if it did, such improvement would not be due to innovation, which we have defined as doing more with less. Rather, by reducing the scarcity of these resources, suburbanization has led to their inflated worthlessness. Cheap goods and services have led to the devaluing of them to the point of laxity. Is reflected in obesity rates, lowering test scores, falling birthrates, which for any other living system of organisms, would rise with expanding resources. That is until their own waste chokes them. This is the cradle of our heroes, The Muppets.


End of Part 3

Post Script

Ok, if necessity is actually the mother of innovation, lots of needs have been met in the last 100 years, but why did growth stop, the ASB becomes irrelevant and suburban consumerism take hold and become the millennial Muppet cradle sometime in the nineteen seventies? And what about Frank Sinatra? Stay tuned for Part 4.

Guest Contributor – The Fat Man – Antifa, Sci Fi, The Bomb, Consumerism and The Death of Innovation – Part 1

What does it mean when organizations like Antifa and BLM lead the national conversation but are led and populated by arrested, overfed, near-sighted, screen-addicted, basement dwellers? How can these loosely defined groups and others like them write and profess to follow manifestos built on concepts like fascism and communism, the nuclear family and non-binary identity, equality and liberty while clearly not understanding any of them. If we suppress the urge to laugh it off for a few seconds and consider what it means about our country and the West more generally, would that be useful or at least entertaining?

And finally, that our president uses these same concepts in the same contexts as these groups without pausing to at least try and clarify them, does that mean he’s actually their leader too or just the world’s greatest comic?

When you look at the endless tape of the peaceful demonstrators or if you’re lucky as I am and can simply look at the window and watch them at a distance, it is easy to be lulled into a lazy sense of voyeuristic unease. From far away the individuals in the crowds are reduced to hats and black raincoats all carrying some kind of staff and easily mistaken for at least a potential threat. Of course, when the camera pans to ground level or you even walk among them you realize they are those kids you remember from high school, if that was your terminal level of formal education, or junior college, or grad school, even a familiar post doc.  Whatever larval group of which you were a graduating member always included the kids that just weren’t ready, would never be ready, for the real world.

Our peaceful protesters are not the serious kids that just quit school to pursue real careers in crime, banking or software. I’m talking about the ones with the anachronistic long or shaved hair, over decorated skin and clothes, downward facing and backward looking. The basement dwellers, scared of life. Say what you will about Mao and Hitler, they weren’t scared of life. So how did our heroes become their self-appointed fellow travelers?

What brought our contemporary heroes out of the basement to frighten America? More interestingly, how could they frighten anyone? If you’re old enough to remember the summers of rage at the end of the 1960’s you know what real racial unrest looks like. Or anyone that has seen strike violence knows why it scares the average citizen. Those mobs were manned by the citizenry. However segregated Newark was in 1965, the city couldn’t survive with twenty percent of the population burning down buildings, and it didn’t. The Newark of 1962 was disappeared by 1975. Depopulated, de-educated, de-legitimated, poof.

But clearly our heroes didn’t, couldn’t, do that in 2020. The viral panic set the stage. It emptied out the streets like the white flight of the ‘60’s but didn’t spark the theatrical violence we see today. So, what did? Beyond the familiar slacker jobless ennui that inspired the Occupy Wall Street encampment and their occasional traffic-arbitraging self-immolations, what caused this moment? Racism? The word is its own answer. In 1968, even in Jefferson and Baltimore during the Obama years, the putative victims of racism did the rioting. Today it’s largely The Muppets.

The Muppets, hmmm, TV….is that a clue? Roger Scruton, who died in January of our anni mirabiles, took pains to remind us that it is culture, more specifically our definition of aesthetics, precisely the meaning of beauty that is the best way to understand a society. The poor man described the pain he experienced standing on a train platform while traveling in America and finding no escape from “the beat”, the deadening, soulless rhythm of western pop music. The reader can imagine how he felt about our other contemporary cultural products. Our visual arts, our architecture, the terrible things we expose and teach to our children. He no doubt finally rests in peace.

In pacem para bellum. In peace, for war. If you want peace, prepare for war. If we want beauty, if we want wisdom, if we want a growing and enterprising society, what kind of citizens do we need? Citizens. Growing. Are our heroes citizens? Are they growing? They do somehow look familiar? Like the barricade denizens of ’68? No, no they were rich French student hippies. More like tropes from the movies or even a comic book. Yes. But not old movies or comic books, more recent, like graphic novels or The Matrix. Yes, that’s it, they all seem to be aspiring to the art direction that gussied up Keanu Reeves (I only now realized that he has that most famous of comic book actor last names). I get it, our heroes want to be real heroes. But they only know Keanu or Deckard, a few other dystopian action figures. They are graphic heroes. We might charitably call them expressionistic.

Like all contemporary culture actors, our heroes carry the contradictions of Cultural Marxism. They attack the culture, humiliate the bourgeoisie, their parents, their schools, their unemployment offices, then retreat to the basement and their protection. It’s easy to hate them, but for America it is hard to admit she created them. How did it happen, they happen?

For me, it is far more interesting to answer the question by looking at the cultural collapse they reflect. When we do, we will know what the Muppets mean and why America chose them to use to frighten itself.

Why would America want to frighten itself? It’s evident it wants to, hosting all the Devil’s Nights it has in 2020, long before Halloween in places like Portland, Brooklyn and The Loop. In the shadow of the protests the professional criminals can come out of their nests, wave guns at their rivals and redraw their maps. America suffers all this to stir herself, especially our suburban cousins that so swear by the “peaceful protests”, so long as they only burn urban America. It is said when the protests came to Portland’s burbs, the curtains were drawn. Mission accomplished, the brief, but cold snap of fear did penetrate the high-tax school zones.

But from what do we now stir?  Covid, Trump, the caliphate, financial collapse, Iraq, Afghanistan, The Towers, the Kennedys? No, these were mere media trifles, like the Beatles. But they seemed important at the time, serious, didn’t they? In sleep even a fly seems serious and we fell asleep long before the Kennedys. What are the symptoms of sleep that can tell us when we fell? And why do we sense it’s time to get up?

Let’s follow Sir Roger’s advice and take America’s vitals through whatever we can call its culture for ten seconds without laughing. We are told that American popular music was born out of traditional, gospel, anthem and transplanted light opera genres. These genres evolved into what we call R&B and Jazz, Country. The ethnic music of Southern and Eastern European immigrants mixed together with native genres in vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley. All of this seemed to gel on the Broadway of the twenties to become what we today call the American Song Book.

You could argue that the ASB did not reach the high musical standard of the opera Toscanini brought to New York and later popularized through radio broadcasts on NBC. But looking back from today’s vantage, in the context of twenty first century western pop music, it sure seems to fit the label of art.

You can make a similar case for American movies. It’s true, there was no visual equivalent to Jazz to act as a foundation for American cinema. But the originality and popularity of Chaplin and Keaton’s output, their success at creating visual conventions that became an almost universally accepted, but wordless, language convinced even arid academic critics that the movies were developing a set of aesthetics that would one day support an artform.

None of this can be said of the other plastic visual arts in America such as painting, sculpture and with the exception of Wright, architecture, all of which were mired in the outpouring of European Modernism throughout the first half of twentieth century. And while there were many interesting American poets and writers, even leading figures such as Stein, Pound and Eliot, their work was primarily grounded in European ideas and precedents.

The fiction of the American Naturalists, Norris, Crane and Dreiser, could be argued to be American originals, but theirs was at best a minor native movement that did not blossom greatly as a literary genre, but did interestingly have an impact on film. Faulkner and his “school” could also be added to this list and can be usefully tracked as we diagnose what ails America.

Another fruitful area of American creativity and certainly the most materially successful is what is today referred to as innovation. Defined simply as growth generating change, innovation is an almost perfect, if indirect, measure of American culture. To innovate a culture must have intact, functioning communities capable of supporting a network of collaborating and competing enterprises. These simultaneous conditions can only exist in places where the culture not only supports the formal rule of law, but voluntary associations such as craft clubs that create the social capital needed to invest in creating new products and services. Innovation shares these requirements with all native American artforms.

We will use these cultural creations, American music, movies, some of its literature and compare it to the advance of innovation in the twentieth century, the American Century, to understand why in the twenty first, the homeland finds itself nurturing fear through home-grown hobgoblins in the form of hand puppets.

End of Part 1


Guest Contributor – The Fat Man – Antifa, Sci Fi, The Bomb, Consumerism and The Death of Innovation – Part 2

Guest Contributor – War Pig – In Defense of Western Civilization

[Editor’s Note:  The following post by War Pig was in reaction to my essay “The Paradox of Western Civilization.”  I thought it was such a good antidote to the usual anti-western diatribes that it deserved to be appended to that earlier piece. – photog]

I am half Blackfoot. The North American Indians were not peaceful, elven protectors of Mother Earth. Being an Indian in the days before the Palefaces is almost a religion, even to Indians who know better.

The tribes in those days were beset by continual internecine warfare. Enemy camps and villages raided, women and even girls raped and maybe carried off or murdered, children old enough to be adopted into the attacking tribe taken. Slaves taken. Children too young to be of use were slaughtered, even babies in their swaddling. Often killed right in front of the mother as a cruel joke. She could then look forward to being gang raped and either taken as a slave or killed. All goods and animals not taken were burned to further try to completely wipe out their rivals. North American Indians committed genocide gladly when they could. Those males and older children too old to adopt were taken back to the victor’s camp where they were tortured to death in slow and devilish ways. It was what the tribes had instead of movies for entertainment.

Even if not under attack, the life was hard. Little agriculture meant hunt or gather or starve. Eventually planting maize caught on. Famine was a threat at every turn, the environment was also cruel. In hard winters the very old would wander off into the winter to die to save resources for the rest of the tribe as the elders were of no use anymore. Also, epidemics could run through an area and kill most if not all.

The North American Indians were not simple Neolithic hunter gatherers. They wasted and polluted. They exploited their environment and committed warfare to the limits of their technology. They stayed in an area until they used it up then moved on, following the buffalo. They littered, leaving broken things carelessly behind them. When they hunted buffalo, it was often near “jumps”. Cliffs where they would stampede the buffalo over said cliffs to die, some instantly, most slowly, below. They killed far more buffalo than they could eat or dry or use the hides and sinew. Most of the dead herd would rot and draw scavengers. They did have some herbal knowledge but most of their medicine was shaman tricks.

When Palefaces arrived the Indians gladly traded with them for metals and especially weapons and liquor.

Now, many a Caucasian group has been a thorn in the side of the world. Leopold of Belgium, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, etc., etc. The British taught the world how to run a drug empire and taught the world that cross-ocean slavery could be very profitable. But in that they were just parroting the mores of their Neolithic ancestors. Today, Africa and lower Asia are the main flash points for trouble. You mentioned the Rwanda Genocide. Arabs want to kill all Jews. Milosevic wanted to kill all Muslims in his nation. He had a cute trick of forcing them into a mosque or other building, then setting it on fire with men, women and children all dying as his soldiers stood outside and shot any who tried to escape. Slavery is still practiced, sometimes openly, in Africa and lower Asia. Hard line Islamic nations allow girls as young as 8 to be sold or given into marriage to old men to pay debts. The girls are then raped over and over again, often by men sometimes 50 years their senior. When old enough, usually at 12 they become pregnant and many die as a result as they are seldom afforded medical care.

Women’s rights as a whole are not respected outside of the Anglosphere and those places conquered by the same. Women in most of the world outside the anglosphere can be bought and sold. Bride murder is common in rural India even today. Oh, it is made to “look” accidental and no real official notice is taken. Go get another wife with a higher dowry.

Look at Mexico and see a failed narcostate. Look at Venezuela and see a failed socialist/communist state. Dictators and “ruling councils” abound.

And what are our children taught by socialist union members in our public schools? That all is okay, every point of view is valid. People who are successes must be dragged down to the common level, except for the ruling oligarchy, of course.

Our Constitution was not in effect 20 years before the professional politicians began taking over. Why? Because they are ruthless enough and amoral enough to do anything, literally ANYTHING which will get them elected and reelected. The founding fathers figured there would be a complete change in the House of Representatives every 6 years at most. Where they erred was in not establishing term limits from the get-go. Russia, and before them the old Soviets, have been after our institutions of education since the late forties. Agents provocateur planted in universities. Half of FDRs cabinet were closet commies and more than a few Stalin’s agents. Then they began infiltrating the newspapers and magazines. As more commie professors turned out more commie-leaning graduates, their long-term effort saw fruit. Khrushchev would have been so proud.

The Paradox of Western Civilization

To anybody who came of age in America before, let’s say 1990, it’s always maddening to hear the views of Millennials on the subject of Western History.  They are completely convinced that the world would have been a paradise if only the evil Europeans hadn’t interfered with all the good people everywhere else.  So, because the settlers dispossessed the Indians and used slave labor for agriculture and used the advanced weapons and tactics that they invented to conquer the whole world this must mean that the Europeans were morally inferior to the peoples they defeated.  The fact that history and archeology show that humans everywhere and at all times have waged war against their neighbors and made slaves of their defeated rivals is as clear and understandable as any other law of nature.  The Khans of Mongolia conquered most of Eurasia and committed atrocities that rival anything that Hitler or Stalin committed.  Empires in India, the Middle East and Meso-America conquered and enslaved their neighbors whenever the opportunity arose.  The tribes and nations of Sub-Saharan Africa even in modern times have committed genocidal attacks on their enemies that have stunned outsiders by their cruelty.  Man has been a terrifying enemy to his neighbors for as long as he has existed.  In fact, it is ignored that the English were the ones who ended slavery inside their vast empire in the nineteenth century with the United States following their example shortly after.  It was Europeans (the Swiss and the English and their descendants) who first resurrected democracy after a lapse of thousands of years since the end of the first attempts back in ancient Athens.  And with respect to women’s rights, England and the United States, once again, were in the vanguard of that movement.

But none of this registers with Millennials.  They’ve been proselytized and brow-beaten by their teachers from kindergarten to graduate school and beyond to acknowledge the hereditary guilt of belonging to a civilization that virtually alone has created the modern world that everyone lives in.  And to atone for the “sins” of their ancestors they desire to hand over the country to anyone who desires to come here to live.  They think it would be better if America belonged to the world.  “After all,” they think, “we stole it from someone else, we should give it back.”

What they’re too blind to realize is that if they indeed gave it to the world, it soon wouldn’t be a place that the world would want to live in.  It is true that many people come to America to get free stuff.  They see a gravy train and figure on getting as much of what is being handed out for as long as it’s available.  They typically send the money they get back home to their families and intend to return when it gets to be a big enough nest egg.  But there have always been people who come to America because they’ve heard that things are done right here.  If you live in a country where the local strongman can take your property or even abuse your family with impunity then it doesn’t matter if you are relatively well off.  A lawless society is a violent and chaotic place where only the strongest survive and even they know a stronger man will eventually come along to supplant them.  Whether it was German peasants fleeing religious wars or Southern Italians fleeing poverty and the cruel intimidation of the Mafia people came to the United States because for the most part the middle class here were able to negotiate a sane existence where their children could live a decent life and maybe even better themselves over time.

But as the older population knows, every time a new wave of immigrants arrives and crowds the slums of the old cities, it creates crime and poverty and resentment between the older inhabitants and the new immigrants.  At that point, in the past, immigration is halted.  Then it takes fifty years for the new immigrants to assimilate and blend into the American way of life.  And normal life resumes for the bulk of the inhabitants.

But if the Millennials (and the Democrat leadership and the corporations who need cheap labor) have their way, then there will be no halt to the influx of immigrants.  Eventually we will reach a tipping point where the new arrivals will swamp out the cultural Americans and it won’t be America anymore.  Once enough people will sell their vote for some short-term economic benefit, all the things that made the United States unique, things like the Bill of Rights, will be legislated away and we will live in the same lawless jungle that all those who came here fled from.

It took almost two thousand years between Ancient Athens and Modern Europe for democracy to reappear.  If it disappears here, it may take that long for it to reappear.  We must do what we can to stop this stupid idea that everyone can move to America.

And it’s unnecessary.  The whole world knows what a working civilization looks like.  It was the civilization that flourished in Europe during the industrial revolution.  It was when man used science and intelligence to improve the way he lived.  This can be copied and adapted to the local conditions.  It won’t be like America but it will be better than the tribal life that preceded modernity.  We don’t need to let everyone come here.  We don’t even have to enforce our standards on these more backward countries.  But we can insist that if they want to have any interaction with us that they must maintain some reasonable standards of behavior to allow that interaction to be acceptable to us.  We can make common cause with countries that have the same aspirations as us.  Those that don’t we can ignore.  But we don’t owe even friendly nations the right to flood our country and disrupt our way of life.

So, to hell with the Millennials and their idiot teachers.  This is our way of life here and we don’t want to lose it.

The Father of History / The Father of Lies / Summer Reading Fun!

My Professor of Ionic Greek was a very funny guy.  He said that the charm of reading Herodotus is that his prose reminds you of your Great Aunt telling family history.  The whole story is one big run-on sentence meandering back and forth and including everything from news of the great war to gossip about somebody’s wife cheating with the milkman.  And sometimes it’s difficult to tell which part she feels is more important.

In the same way, Herodotus starts off the history of the Persian War by claiming its origin was the kidnapping of Helen by the Trojans!  From there we get a family history of the first Asian ruler to conquer the Greeks living in Asia Minor.  Apparently, the origin of this dynasty involves a King allowing his wife to be seen naked by a commoner.  This triggers his wife’s anger so severely that she conspires with the commoner to kill her husband and usurp the throne.  All of these stories are given with either a tongue in cheek or a storyteller’s desire to be complete.

But in between all this chatter you get some stories that are told nowhere else and that record the (mostly) accurate exploits of the ancient world’s greatest generation.  You’ll hear about Marathon and Thermopylae, Salamis and Plataea.  You’ll meet Leonidas and the Spartans, Themistocles and the Athenians and Xerxes and the Persians.  And mixed in with that you’ll hear unlikely stories of the origins of historical nations based on the amorous adventures of Heracles and other demigods.  And you’ll feel that you’re in the midst of a tumultuous time full of heroes and villains.  And you’ll discover the ancient dichotomy of the East vs. the West.  It’s freedom versus slavery.  It’s nation versus empire.  It’s intelligence versus brute force.

There are places where the story bogs down.  You see Herodotus was a world traveler and he relates all the tales he was told in his various travels.  During his time in Egypt he collected much material on the rulers and doings in Egypt.  Sometimes it gets to be a little much.  But mixed in with this minutia will be stories that sound like they came out of the Tales of the Arabian Nights.

In terms of historical accuracy Herodotus was far inferior to his successor at Athens, Thucydides.  His history chronicles the aftermath of the Persian War.  This was a sort of Cold War between Athens and Sparta that eventually went hot.  Thucydides provides precise details of the military and political actions and forgoes all mythical and religious causes.  But the content is basically the story of Athens committing suicide.  I much prefer reading the story of its finest hour.

Every summer I read from two greek classics.  I read the Odyssey and I browse Herodotus.  Those two books give me hope that the legacy of the West isn’t a myth.  Odysseus tells me that the value of the brave man and the faithful wife can overcome the chaos and nihilism of the world.  And Herodotus tells me that freedom reappears in this world from time to time and that it is the most valuable substance in the universe.

In future installments, I’ll select some of the stories that I think make the case that the gossip Herodotus is still relevant and interesting 2,400 years later.