The Gathering Storm

As I write this in late April, the most probable course of the coronavirus (a.k.a. Flu Manchu) is that it is at or past its peak medically and case numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths will decline steadily hereafter.  Economically, the country will have one bad quarter and come back quickly.

But there is another possibility.  The country will not recover economically, or at least will take a long time to do so.  While the medical threat from the virus will diminish, the public’s fear will not.  Restaurants, bars, stores, hotels, etc. will reopen, but people won’t come in adequate numbers so that anyone can make a profit.  Instead of businesses rebounding, business failures will become more numerous.  That in turn will create growing unemployment.  At the same time that demands on state services increase, state revenues will plunge further.  All over the country, individuals, businesses, cities, and states will be screaming for more federal help as other sources of money dry up.

The federal government will oblige, adding many trillions more to the four-plus trillion dollars the Treasury and the Fed have already committed.  But that will make other lenders increasingly uncomfortable, so private lending will dry up.  As the sea of freshly printed money deepens, more and more people around the world will begin to question the safety of the dollar.  Inflationary pressures will rise.

As the economy worsens, we will have accumulated evidence that we over-reacted to the threat the coronavirus posed.  Because 50% to 80% of people who caught it had few or no symptoms, we greatly overestimated the death rate.  Outside a few dense urban areas, the country as a whole was in a position to manage the epidemic without extraordinary measures.  We will know countries that remained open, including Sweden, did not suffer an apocalypse.  We did not need to shut everything down.

The combination of an economic depression and wide public awareness that it did not have to happen will be socially and politically explosive.  The public will be enraged at the medical professionals who, sub-optimizing as all professionals do, thought only about people’s health and not their need to earn a living when they issued their dire predictions.  It will be even angrier at the mainstream social media that did its utmost to generate panic–successfully.  No current politician or political party will be credible.  Politics will move beyond parties and elections in new, uncharted directions.  In a country where Left and Right were already so far apart that it was difficult to accommodate both in one political system, the split will widen further, as it did worldwide during the last great depression.

This storm is already gathering.  We see it in the demonstrations in more and more state capitals where people who have lost their incomes and have so far received no government aid are demanding businesses be allowed to reopen.  We see it in poor urban areas where rent strikes are brewing.  We see open rebellion against rules that make sense in cities being applied in rural areas.

As I have written many times, no conservative can want disorder.  I hope this scenario does not unfold.  I still think it likely the economy will rebound, so long as most states move quickly in May to reopen all businesses and do so without rules that prevent those businesses from being profitable.  At that point, just as we all had a duty to stay home in March and April, I hope we will all do our duty by resuming our normal lives: eating in restaurants, shopping in person rather than on-line, and going to church.

But if we do find that, in the end, we were swindled into a great depression, all bets are off.  As I wrote in my last column, I think what emerges will be a politics that is culturally Right but economically Left.  How we get to that new politics may be messy.

A Six Hundred Dollar Mistake

The measures taken thus far by President Trump, Congress, and the Fed to provide financial relief to companies and individuals during the coronavirus panic seem to have been the right ones–with one possible mistake.  What is that?  Giving people who have been laid off $600 per week in addition to their normal unemployment benefit.  While well intentioned–we all want to help those who are struggling–it is already having some negative effects and promises more down the line.

The problems stem from the fact that, for many hourly workers, they are now receiving, thanks to the extra $600, more money in unemployment benefits than they normally earn from their job.  Some unintended consequences are already visible.  While many businesses have been hurt by the panic and related closures, others have seen sales grow enormously.  Those businesses need more employers to meet the demand.  Here in Ohio, 40,000 jobs are going begging.  Why should people take those jobs when they get paid more to stay home, thanks to the extra $600?

It gets worse.  The federal government is offering forgivable loans to small businesses, on one condition: they keep paying their employees.  But the employees make more if they are laid off.  So they want to be laid off, but the company they work for has to pay the loan back unless they remain on its payroll.  In many cases, while a forgiven loan, which means a grant, would enable the business to remain a going concern, a loan it would have to repay would make it go under.  So now the employer and the employee are at loggerheads, with the latter endangering their post-panic jobs unless they remain on payroll at less money than they would receive off it.

What concerns me more than these temporary problems is some long-term effects.  Let’s face it, many of the jobs people are being laid off from are from jobs they hate.  They have to stand up all day, the work is boring at best, and the pay is low.  At some point, as the economy picks up again and the extra $600 in unemployment cash ends, they will have to turn from enjoying life at home for more money to working again for less money.  That may cause massive social and political dissatisfaction, even anger.

It’s a pity Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race for the presidency.  He could say,”When you stayed home for more money, that was socialism.  Having now to go back to work at a crappy job for less money is capitalism.  Which do you prefer?”  That might have been a hard question for President Trump to answer.

This in turn points to what I think will be the successful politics of the future: culturally Right but economically Left.  On the one hand, people, especially white people, are tired of being told they are “oppressors” who should hand over their earnings to blacks and Third World immigrants who are too often just takers.  They are sick of the Left’s endless attacks on Western culture, the Christian religion, whites, men, non- and anti-feminist women, etc.  And they have had it with cultural Marxists telling them what words they may and may not use, what thoughts they may and may not think.  Who elected them censors?

At the same time, middle America is angry at the one percent, not because it has done well (although its conspicuous consumption is rightly resented) but because it gets ever richer while the American middle class gets poorer.  If the middle class’s standard of living were also rising, the resentment would be much less.  But it isn’t.  The blue-collar middle class of the 1950s and ’60s has almost vanished; many of those people are now poor.  The white collar middle class knows it is headed down the same road.  Unlike in the 1950s, both husband and wife must now work, and even with two incomes the only way they can keep up a middle class lifestyle is by going ever more deeply in debt.  It is not merely the Left that wants a re-balancing and is willing to see the government do it.  That sentiment is now widespread among the culturally conservative middle class as well.

Will the resentment caused by the end of the extra $600 a week be enough to birth a new politics that is culturally Right but economically Left?  On its own, probably not.  But it may well mark a further step along that road.  On the surface, the Democrats would seem likely to benefit most.  But they have the millstone of cultural Marxism fixed around their necks, seemingly permanently.  Establishment Republicans are in bed with the 1%.  But anti-Establishment Republicans are well positioned to accomplish the new synthesis. 

Who will grasp the opportunity and make it happen?  Out of mistakes sometimes come opportunities.

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

COVID-19 and Culture

I went to the grocery store this morning in my enjoyably white suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, and was surprised to find that perhaps a third of the customers were black.  I don’t know why; perhaps the panic buying had cleaned out their stores on their side of town.  But their presence brought an immediate problem: at least two-thirds of them paid no attention to social distancing.

The Left is now howling about the fact that COVID-19 is much more widespread in black and Hispanic areas than in places where whites live.  This is true not only of cities–compare Cleveland with Detroit–but within cities as well, including in our epicenter of the plague, New York.  As usual, they are blaming it on “inequality”.  And in a way, they are right.  One factor that explains the difference is inequality among cultures: some cultures work a great deal better than others.

The white, Christian, northern European culture that is the origin of America’s civic culture is one of the best functioning cultures on earth.  That is easy enough to see; compare life in northern Europe to life in southern Africa.  One characteristic that differentiates northern European culture from most other cultures is the former’s high level of civic virtue.  Most northern Europeans and white Americans have internalized the idea that you owe something to the people around you, simply because they are there.  This is, by world standards, a highly unusual belief.  In most cultures, including Hispanic culture, you owe nothing to anyone who is not a member of your family, clan, or tribe, in that order of importance.  The public realm is simply a combined dump and sewer.  Why not?  The people who inhabit it, except your relatives, mean nothing to you.  Civic virtue, in such cultures, is unknown.

What this means in our country as it confronts the coronavirus is that in black and Hispanic areas, people do not follow the rules to the same degree as do people in white and east Asian areas (east Asian culture is a culture of order, even though it does not have northern European culture’s concept of civic virtue).  That is of course not the only explanation for the difference in infection rates: population density and people’s need to physically go to their workplace are also factors.  Once the pandemic passes, it would be informative to compare infection rates in black and Hispanic neighborhoods with those in poor white neighborhoods.  That probably won’t happen for fear the results would point to cultural differences, which would be politically incorrect.

A third example also points to civic virtue as an important variable: the high infection rates in some orthodox Jewish neighborhoods.  Ultra-orthodox Jews are rule-followers of the highest order–but only their own rules.  Like black and Hispanic cultures, their culture dismisses anyone not from their group.  The public realm beyond their shtetl means nothing to them, unless they are doing a “good deed” in that realm, which some sects do require.  Otherwise, they hold the world of the goyim in contempt, as that world holds them in contempt, which is why the Holocaust was popular in much of central and eastern Europe. 

That fact points to the danger to minority groups which, in societies with strong concepts of civic virtue, refuse to practice such virtue themselves.  In normal times, the result is irritation and friction.  In abnormal times, irritation and friction can boil over into a determination to either enforce civic virtue on those who will not practice it voluntarily or find a final solution to the problem.  We are, I hope, a long way from the latter.  But if we were dealing not with the flu but with a plague that had a much higher mortality rate–as at some point we will be–the fate of those who refuse to follow the larger society’s rules and practice civic virtue could be grim.

In the meantime, I will be happy when the other shoppers in my grocery store are again from groups that practice civic virtue.  I will be overjoyed when our politicians acknowledge that some cultures are superior to others, and ours is, or was, the best.

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

The View From Olympus: Did the Marine Corps Just Commit Suicide?

The new Marine Corps Commandant, General David H. Berger, recently announced a series of major changes in the Marine Corps’ mission and structure.  When General Berger released his Commandant’s Guidance last summer, I supported it strongly. But the actions he just announced are so mis-directed that I fear they may add up to the suicide of the Marine Corps.

According to the Commandant’s letter announcing the Corps’ redirection,

The Marine Corps is redesigning the force for naval expeditionary warfare in actively contested spaces, fully aligning the Service with the direction of the National Defense Strategy (NDS). . .

Some of the key changes that will shape the future force include:

  • Expansion of long-range fires.  A 300% increase in rocket artillery.
  • Marine Littoral Regiment.  These purpose-built naval combined arms units will be capable of long-range precision-fires and equipped with anti-ship missiles.
  • Lighter, more mobile and versatile infantry.
  • Ground combat units to focus on naval missions.
  • Aviation units re-scoped for naval missions.
  • Investments in unmanned systems.
  • New capabilities for maritime mobility and resilience.
  • Air defense improvements.

The Marine Corps subsequently identified the cuts it will make to existing force structure to free resources for the new programs.  These will include all tanks, sixteen of twenty-one tube artillery batteries, three infantry battalions, some F-35s, and significant numbers of helicopters.  Total personnel strength will drop by 12,000.

Most of the critical response thus far has focused on the cuts to force structure.  On the whole, I do not see them as too problematic, although I would keep three tank companies and all existing infantry battalions.  Some of what General Berger is calling for is good, including making infantry lighter and more mobile (assuming that includes becoming true light rather than line infantry) and moving toward more, smaller amphibious ships, some based on commercial designs.

Unfortunately, the mistakes here cut far deeper than fewer or more units of this or that.  The proposed changes include three strategic errors, at least two of which are sufficient alone to put the Marine Corps’ continued existence in peril.  They are:

  • Re-aligning the Corps to the NDS, which is to say focusing on war with China.  We are not going to fight a war with China, because China is a nuclear power. Nuclear powers do not fight each other conventionally because the risk of escalation to nuclear war is too great.  The whole NDS is a work of fiction, designed to justify patterns and levels of defense spending that flow out of the Cold War or in some cases (especially the Navy) World War II (a cynic might say all our services have become clubs for World War II reenactors).  Worse still, General Berger’s changes build a fiction inside a fiction, namely that when we fight China the Marine Corps’ mission will be taking Chinese-held islands, presumably in the South China Sea. In the war with Japan, Marines took Japanese-held islands to create a chain leading to air bases that put us in bombing range of Japan.  The islands now held by China, except Hainan, have no strategic significance. In World War II, we bypassed such islands (thereby undermining Japan’s strategy). Even Hainan is significant only as the base for the South China fleet. Fleets are mobile. If we took Hainan, it would simply sail north. What all this adds up to is re-configuring the Marine Corps for a campaign that makes no sense in a war that will not happen.  That great blunder puts the Corp’s existence in peril.
  • So does a second blunder: focusing on “hi-tech” war built around long-range fires.  The Marine Corps survived the 20th century because it offered capabilities the other services did not.  The U.S. military already has a vast surplus of long-range fires, courtesy of the Navy and the Air Force.  Now, with these changes, the Corps will define its capability as adding a pea-shooter to a broadside of 16-inch guns.  Even if we take our fictitious scenario as real, the Chinese would not even notice the Marine Corps was involved. Becoming like the other services, a strategic blunder the Marine Corp began making in the mid-1990s and will now carry forward aggressively, means we won’t need a Marine Corps any more, except perhaps a battalion of embassy guards.
  • A third strategic blunder will probably not be noticed outside the Marine Corps but it will nonetheless reduce the value of what the Corps offers the nation.  While the Commandant references maneuver warfare with regard to dispersing amphibious forces, a move that has merit, focusing on trading long-range fires with any opponent marks a return to a firepower/attrition understanding of war.  In effect, it says future war will be a contest between trebuchets flinging pianos at each other. If we look around the world, that is not where war is going. In almost every case, state armed services that have vast superiority in long-range fires over their Fourth Generation opponents are losing, including us in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.  Doctrinally, the Commandant’s vision faces backwards.

There is an obvious alternative that solves all three problems: return to the vision the Commandant first laid out in his Commandant’s guidance and focus on making maneuver warfare something the Marine Corps actually does instead of just writes about, including the changes in education, training, and personnel policies he identified.  Then, let the other services make the blunder of re-shaping themselves to accord with the fictional NDS and go instead where war is going, to become the nation’s force of choice for Fourth Generation war overseas. Just as the other services neglected amphibious warfare during the 1920s and ‘30s and the Marine Corps of that time created a unique capability the country ended up needing, so it can do the same now with 4GW.  It need not follow the other lemmings over a cliff.

The Year That Was

                                                                                                 December 31, 2020

That was the year that was; it’s over, let it go.  And boy, are we happy to see the last of 2020. 

2020 has already gone down in history as the year we made fools of ourselves.  Yes, the Chinese Flu, as most people now call it, started it all. But nothing from China forced us to panic the way we did.  The panic was all grown right here in the U.S.A., in the infernal hothouse known as the media.

When the Chinese Flu first hit, nobody knew much about it.  Fear, maybe even a bit of panic, was understandable. The government was right to put the classic measures against epidemics into effect: quarantining the sick, closing places where people gather, ordering “social distancing”.  But by the time the Chinese Flu really got going in this country, we had hard data telling us this was not the Black Death. It was more contagious than the common flu, and had a slightly higher death rate, still less than 1% in the end.  But the new flu didn’t force us to shut down the whole economy. Panic did that. While various public figures were saying the epidemic might last all summer or even all year, we knew from the experiences of China and South Korea that it ran a bell-shaped curve lasting about eight weeks.

By March, we had a vaccine undergoing human trails; now, at year’s end, it is available to anyone.  Also by March we had human trials underway of existing antiviral drugs to see if some were effective against the Chinese Flu.  Not surprisingly, some were and people who did get the bug could usually be cured at home with a prescription. Some hospitals did get overwhelmed briefly in early hot-spots of infection, but there was no nationwide shortage of beds.  Most important was the discovery that people who continued to go to work because they were in essential jobs did not get infected at a significantly higher rate than those who stayed home. Once that fact was established, many businesses could open again, businesses that should not have been forced to close in the first place. 

A few retrospective numbers are interesting.  The 1968 Hong Kong Flu epidemic killed more than 100,000 Americans, far more than the “coronavirus”, but we didn’t shut the economy down then.  The 2019-2020 run of the ordinary flu we get every winter infected 38 million Americans, hospitalized 390,000 and killed 23,000, according to the March 22 New York Times, when the season was not yet over.  In every case, those numbers are higher than they ended up for the new Chinese Flu.

What really has us hanging our heads in shame was the economic panic.  Everyone, including all those high-paid geniuses on Wall Street, forgot that epidemics run their course.  The Chinese Flu was short-term, while the underlying economy was strong long-term. The new flu’s eight week run gave us one down quarter, and the economy came roaring back the next  quarter, making up all its lost ground and then some. The President and Congress were right to spend trillions to take care of workers and businesses during the down time, and the FED also did the right thing in providing an ocean of dollars to prevent a liquidity crisis and lending freeze.  But it should have been obvious that these measures would work. In the end, as usual in panics, a lot of fools lost their shirts selling in a down market and a few smart guys made fortunes buying in the same.

Even this cloud has its silver lining.  After handing out trillions in a few weeks, everyone in Washington knows we face another long-term debt crisis unless we put our house in order.  We need to generate a budget surplus and start paying down the debt. It’s not that hard; we did it in the last years of President Clinton’s second term, with a Democratic President working with a Republican Congress.  President Trump, who tried to warn against panic but was out-shouted, has promised to work on a bi-partisan basis to get it done during his second term, knowing we need the Dems on board even though the Republicans again control both Houses of Congress.  We all feel badly for Joe Biden after that debate where he couldn’t remember his own name, but most Americans are glad President Trump will have four more years. After a slow start, he handled 2020 pretty well.

Since people don’t like being made fools of, we’re all mad at the media.  They created the panic. For years, they had been hyping everything to the max, even the weather, which has become weather porn.  But this time they shouted fire in a crowded theater, and they are paying the price. It was the video-screen media that did it, much more than our old familiar friend the newspapers, most of which offered accurate information.  People are responding by shutting off the TV and the computer and subscribing again to the morning paper. The newspaper is also useful in case another shortage of TP; try using your phone for that.

Anyway, it’s over.  As of midnight tonight, 2020 is history.  We are heading into 2021 with a growing economy, plenty of jobs, and bright prospects across the board.  The Chinese Flu did teach companies a lesson about the risks of global supply chains, and many are bringing their manufacturing back home.  That doesn’t just mean jobs, it means good jobs that pay enough so a blue-collar guy can give his family a middle-class life. After the clouds comes sunshine, and we’re all tanned, rested, and ready for a good year ahead.

Yes, I know the Chinese recently arrested some astronomers for saying an asteroid is heading toward earth, but. . .

The View From Olympus: A Dry Run

Despite the current unnecessary panic, the coronavirus may end up doing us a favor. It has led the government to carry out a full-scale, force-on-force exercise, a dry run if you will, of what will be necessary when a real plague arrives. That plague will be a gift from the hellish technology of genetic engineering, either as an accident or as a weapon of mass destruction in Fourth Generation war.  States will rightly be afraid of using such weapons because of the potential for blowback. Some 4GW entities will have no such concern.

The government’s actions thus far have been prudent, and with them– quarantines, closing gathering places, shutting down travel, etc.– we need not worry excessively about the coronavirus from a medical standpoint.  The New York Times recently offered some hard data on infection rates.  Despite statements like that of the idiot Merkel that 70% of Germans may end up infected, nothing like that is happening.  On Friday, March 13, the Times noted in a chart on page A7 that the rate of infection (not deaths) in Italy, the current global hotspot, is 25 per 100,000 people.  In South Korea, where the virus seems to have peaked and is now declining, the infection rate has been 16 out of 100,000. The Sunday, March 15 Times published a column, “Is Obsessing Over Statistics Helpful?” by Ellen Peters, that said:

According to data from John Hopkins University, Hubei, the Chinese province where the virus emerged, has reported 67,760 infected people out of a population of about 59 million, an incidence rate of 0.11 percent.  This means that 99.89 percent were not infected. . .

Chinese numbers are not reliable, but even if we multiply the number of infected in Hubei province by ten, we still get an infection rate–again, just infection, not death–of 1.1 percent.  Of those infected, about 80% seem to have mild cases or show no symptoms at all.

With proper measures in place, the coronavirus is not a major threat.  Again, it has been a good test, one that shows the practices developed over centuries of dealing with epidemics still work.  Like past epidemics, this one appears to follow a bell-shaped curve, one lasting about eight weeks. China is now reporting fewer than ten new cases a day and the economy is beginning to function again.

Our economy will take a big hit, because consumers are not spending.  But in and of itself, the epidemic should only give us one bad quarter.  If it sets off the overdue international debt crisis, that is a very different story.  The Federal Reserve Bank is aware of the danger and it acted forcefully last week to bolster the short-term debt market, injecting $1.5 trillion into it.  Cutting interest rates, or President Trump’s proposed payroll tax, will do little because both are pushing on a string. But the President’s proposal to make hourly workers’ pay whole is important, as are interest-free loans and grants to small and medium sized businesses that have had to close.

Most of the lessons from this massive field exercise are old ones.  Science has not made epidemics a thing of the past; on the contrary, it makes very dangerous future epidemics certain.  Many of the things we “have to do” or “have to have” are unnecessary; living quietly at home has much to offer (especially if we turn off the electric noisemakers and panic-spreaders in too many people’s lives).  Having a well-stocked larder and at least some ability to eat from what your land produces are wise practices. A fishing pole may help put dinner on the table, as may knowing how to hunt. In a more serious situation than this one, governments would be smart to declare open-season, no-limits on deer–you know, those big brown things that destroy our gardens, wreck our cars, and are of no use to us unless we kill and eat them.  They are not in short supply, nor are Canadian geese or wild turkeys.

Turning back to the old ways, Retroculture as I call it, ways proven over centuries of human experience, will come to the fore whenever reality returns.  Consumerism, “hi-tech”, and a frivolous culture where “being entertained” is the highest good are not reality. Epidemics are. Will we put this dry run to good use and start to get real again, or will that take a kick in the stomach instead of a kick in the pants?

It’s Not “Realism”, It’s Reality

When a friend of mine was a student at the National War College (which should be called the National College because there is no war in the curriculum), he was counseled by his advisor for “letting his realism show”.  If you want to be a member of the Washington establishment, you dare not do that. You must be deeply devoted to “idealism”, the magical belief that we can somehow make every fly-blown, flea bitten hellhole country in the world into another Switzerland.  All it takes is sanctions, bombing, and perhaps invasion, for which they will love us.

Now the equally wooly-minded European foreign policy establishment is facing what the idealists fear most: a reality that suddenly attaches a high price to idealism.  Turkey, trying to compel Europe to back its intervention in Syria’s civil war, has opened the refugee floodgates again. Last time, Europe got drowned in a sea of more than a million immigrants, almost all Muslim, most with neither skills nor a European language. Wherever in Europe they have gone crime has risen, the welfare rolls have exploded and European voters have turned away from the Establishment to parties that want to defend their countries from invasion. Most inconvenient, that democracy stuff.

The Establishment media floods Europeans with pictures of crying children in distress, but most of those now piled up at Greece’s border (and Europe’s) are hard-eyed young men, not Syrians but Iraqis, Iranians, and Afghans, not “refugees” but economic migrants. Wherever they go, they bring disorder.

In a story titled “E.U. Tries to Tread Line in Greek-Turkish Clash on Admitting Migrants”, the March 5 New York Times described European elites’ anguish. It quotes Mr. Robin Nibblett of Chatham Hose in London saying:

In the sense there is the beginning of a more realistic European foreign policy, which will continue to pay off Mr. Erdogan (Turkey’s president) to avoid a new wave of refugees. 

“but of course you cannot build a formal foreign policy like that and get any support from European parliaments, because it goes against all Europe stands for in its values,” Mr. Niblett said.

I have a message for those European parliaments and the whole “idealist” elite: it isn’t “realism”, it’s reality.

It is reality that these Moslem migrants become a huge burden on any country stupid enough to let them in. It’s reality that they will not accept European culture because their religion tells them not to. It’s reality that they lay enormous new costs on European countries’ social services.  It’s reality that they turn in large numbers to crime because that is what they can do, that they will attack European women on the street because that is okay in their culture if a woman is out alone, that they force Europeans to become aware all the time of threats to their personal security, something Americans are accustomed to but Europeans are not.  When I lived in Vienna in the early 1970s, no woman thought twice about walking alone through a public park after nightfall. They had better think about it now.

The idealists prate endlessly about democracy, but they face the dilemma that their world-view can only prevail where democracy is outlawed.  In a democracy, when a country’s natives lose their personal security because of the elite’s idealism and the flood of human waste (sometimes literally) it brings, they vote the idealists out and vote in parties that will defend them.  In fact, Mr. Niblett is wrong: a growing number of European parliaments now have majorities that favor recognizing reality and acting on it. Europe does not stand for idealism in its values, only small political and cultural elites do.  European voters are increasingly showing those elites the door.

In the end, reality always wins against whatever ideology demands people and nations depart from it (in this case, the ideology is cultural Marxism).  The greater the departure, the more painful the correction. The cultural Marxist elites that have welcomed millions of Moslems into Europe because they serve that Marxism’s goals of destroying Western culture and the Christian religion have guaranteed Europe’s correction will be vast and probably bloody.

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.

The Establishment’s Worst Nightmare

In 2016, the Washington Establishment suffered what it thought was its worst nightmare when Donald Trump was elected President.  With the growing likelihood that Bernie Sanders will be this year’s Democratic candidate, that nightmare has been succeeded by one even worse: the possibility that the Establishment will be shut out of the Presidential race entirely. 

That would be a clear signal that the Establishment’s days are numbered and it is on its way to being replaced.  Remember that the Establishment’s most important goal has nothing to do with governing the country. Its highest objective is remaining the Establishment and enjoying the privileges that come with Establishment status: power, prestige, and great riches.

At the same time, their policy options are limited, limited to policies that do not work.  To become and remain a member of the Establishment, you must be a Globalist in economics, an internationalist in foreign policy, a loyal servant of Wall Street, a fan of lots of immigration (for cheap labor and cheap votes), and a soft, sentimental “multiculturalist” who gets very, very distressed at the thought that somewhere in the world, a child is crying.  Above all, you must never transgress the rules laid down by cultural Marxism. Even an accusation of “racism”, “sexism”, or “homophobia” endangers your Establishment status.

Since Establishment policies add up to poor governance, the only way the Establishment can keep its monopoly on power is to make sure voters have no choices but candidates who are Establishment stooges.  They call it a “two-party system”, but no matter which party wins, nothing really changes, because neither the Republican nor the Democratic Establishment wants change. Change could upset their apple carts.  Elections are just kabuki for the rubes out in flyover land so long as only Establishment candidates can get on the ballot. 

Donald Trump royally upset the Republican Establishment’s apple cart (or perhaps more accurately manure wagon) in 2016.  Now Bernie Sanders threatens to do the same to the Democratic Establishment’s Jim Jones Memorial Kool Aid stand. And the Democratic Establishment is in a panic.

The February 28 New York Times ran a front page story on the Dems’ headless chicken act, “If Party is Bruised to Stop Sanders, So Be It, Key Democrats Say”.  After interviewing 93 Democratic superdelegates (some delegates are more equal than others), the Times wrote,

Dozens of interviews with Democratic Establishment leaders this week show that they are not just worried about Mr. Sanders’ candidacy, but also willing to risk intraparty damage to stop his nomination at the national convention in July if they get the chance. . .

“Bernie seems to have declared war on the Democratic Party–and it’s caused panic in the House ranks,” said Representative Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, a supporter of former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York.

What Bernie has declared war on is the Democratic Party Establishment.  That Establishment would rather see President Trump reelected than Sanders get the Democratic nomination.  If a candidate from the Democratic Establishment loses in November, they were at least still in the game and they maintained their monopoly.  If Sanders is nominated , they’re out, over and done–cooked.

As a conservative Trump supporter, I say, let’s hear it for Bernie–not because he would be the easiest Democrat for Trump to beat, but because of his nomination (and Trump’s, of course), the whole Establishment is shut out.  If populists from the Left and the Right take over and the Establishment no longer has a monopoly, not only does it lose power but all those other lovely things that power brings, especially prestige and endless bags of gold. No more bowing and scraping flunkies?  No more “campaign contributions”, i.e., legalized bribes? My god, how could a man (or woman) live?

I don’t know, but it would certainly be entertaining to find out.

The View From Olympus: A Chink in Our Armor

I have warned for decades that the future weapon of mass destruction is not the nuclear weapon but the genetically engineered plague.  The world now stands on the brink of its first experience with that new weapon.

Whether the coronavirus now racing from China across the globe was created by intention or accident is not yet known.  The Chinese government claims the latter, but that government is well known for concealing facts it finds inconvenient.  My information, which may not be accurate, is that it escaped from a Chinese biowarfare lab in Wuhan that was attempting to cross it with HIV to create an AIDS that would spread like the flu.  We now know how to treat AIDs, but the drugs are very expensive. If the objective were to inflict an economic catastrophe on another country, such a bioweapon would do the trick. So far, it does not appear that the version that got out–its escape would be typical Chinese sloppiness–has the cross; only the carrier escaped the lab.  If that proves true, we can all be thankful.

But either way, the coronavirus pandemic points to what is certain to come.  In genetic engineering, we have created a monster that very well may devour the whole human race.  When man seeks to play God, the results tend to be unhappy. New plagues will be generated both intentionally and unintentionally.  Unlike nuclear weapons, genetically engineered diseases do not require vast facilities that cost billions. They are knowledge-based, and the knowledge is already widespread.  That makes them ideal WMDs for non-state, Fourth Generation forces. WMDs in the hands of states are generally stabilizing. In the hands of non-state entities, the opposite is true. 

We would do so well to remember that the Medieval world, which, contrary to what kids are taught in school, was highly successful, was brought down by the plague, the Black Death.  When you lose a third, half, or even two-thirds of your population in six weeks, everything falls apart.

So what do we do about it?  We have to face the fact that in the face of new plagues, Globalism is suicide.  The only thing that works is quarantine. In the Middle Ages, some Italian towns saved themselves from the plague by a policy of immurement: any house where plague appeared was bricked up, with the people inside.

The equivalent for us now is to shut down all international travel.  No one may enter the United States without going through a period of quarantine.  The current wisdom is that a two-week quarantine is sufficient. That may change. With future genetically engineered plagues, the quarantine may have to be longer.  In Thomas Hobbes’ novel Victoria, entry into Europe requires a three-month quarantine on Heligoland Island.  Of course, anyone illegally attempting to enter the country and thereby avoiding quarantine must be shot dead.

In future cases, it may also be necessary to prohibit all imported goods.  It should not be too difficult to create plagues that are transmitted by things: by food imports, by cars or car parts, by anything that an American might end up handling.  The toxins would be designed, at least initially, to come through the skin. With genetic engineering, there is almost no limit on hideous characteristics a disease can be given.  Modernity, meet your Frankenstein.

The United States is fortunate to have, in Donald Trump, a President who is likely to act and close our borders if that proves necessary in the case of the coronavirus (if it isn’t already).  Can anyone imagine any of the Democrats doing that? They would show endless pictures of crying urchins, denouncing as heartless anyone who would deny them entry. The Democrats’ weakness could well do us all in.  Establishment Republicans would be no better as Wall Street howled that its profits depend on Globalism, on open borders for people and goods. If America once again made all it needed in American factories, ordinary Americans would benefit.  But establishment Republicans don’t care about them; Mr. Trump does.

This is the future, folks; not “one world”, but many moats and drawbridges.  Globalism is the chink in our armor, or perhaps going into a tournament without hauberk or cuirass.  We will either armor up or listen to the cry in our streets, “Bring out your dead.”

The View From Olympus: The Big One

A spectre is haunting the world, the spectre of a world-wide debt crisis.  Could the coronavirus epidemic in China be the trigger?

World debt levels, both public and private, have reached undreamed heights.  The United States is now running deficits of a trillion dollars a year. Other countries have higher deficits proportional to the size of their economies.  Private individuals here and elsewhere find they can only maintain a middle class standard of living by taking on ever more debt. Where does it end? In a debt crisis.

A debt crisis occurs when lenders get sufficiently scared of losing their principal that they refuse to lend, or at least to lend at affordable rates of interest.  Like all market dynamics, this is not a rational calculation. Markets are forever balanced on a knife edge between greed and fear. Under normal circumstances, greed wins and people continue to invest.  But when fear takes over, the plunge can come with remarkable speed. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke was not exaggerating in 2008 when he said the United States was within 48 hours of not having an economy. If lending stops cold, so does everything else.

The question is not whether a world debt crisis is coming.  The question is where and when it starts. My bet has long been on China.  China has towering levels of debt, public and private. To keep its economy growing, China has built whole cities that have no inhabitants.  Municipal governments have made enormous loans to overbuild because they wanted the construction jobs. The overbuilding has gone on at the same time individual Chinese have overpaid for their residences.  The intersection of those two facts will mean a debt crisis in China. Given China’s large role in the world economy, a debt crisis in China will soon spread. 

We are already seeing evidence that the coronavirus epidemic is affecting lending.  An article in the February 5 New York Times, “Virus Threatens an Oil Industry That’s Already Ailing,” reported that:

Forty-two oil and gas companies filed for bankruptcy protection in North America last year; since oil prices plummeted in 2015, there have been 208 bankruptcy filings by producers, involving roughly $122 billion in aggregate debt. . .

“It’s a blow,” said Steven Pruett, chief executive of Elevation Resources, a Texas oil company (speaking of reduced Chinese demand for oil because of the virus). . . “Credit availability is already tight, and it’s going to get much tighter.”

A debt crisis is not merely a garden-variety recession.  Both governments and individuals must cut their spending not just to the level of their income, but below that level so they can begin paying back the debt.  Governments that have their own currency (unlike, say, Greece, which is on the Euro) usually decide to inflate their currency so they can pay back money worth less than that they borrowed.  But that scares lenders even more and it also wipes out the savings of ordinary people. Both private and government spending collapse simultaneously, creating a long-lasting depression. (Contrary to what you were taught in Economics 101, you can have a depression and inflation at the same time; look at Venezuela or Rhodesia.)

For America’s armed forces, what a debt crisis means is a vastly reduced defense budget–not $750 billion, but perhaps $75 billion, if we can afford that (in 2020 dollars).  The fact that almost all our defense spending goes to preparing for wars we are not going to fight, with Russia and China (nuclear powers do not fight each other, for good reason), means we could have more useful armed forces than we have now at such vastly lower costs.  I am currently writing a book on what such armed forces might look like.

So the question of first importance for most peoples on earth is whether the coronavirus could be the trigger for China’s coming debt crisis, and China’s for the rest of the world.  Because China still has a state-controlled economy, she has options in a debt crisis we do not have. But exercising those options risks starting an inflationary spiral, which would intensify the crisis of legitimacy the Chinese Communist Party is already facing over the coronavirus epidemic itself.  Thanks to having President Trump in office, the U.S. might take unilateral moves to keep the debt crisis offshore. But if this proves to be “the big one” and a debt crisis overwhelms China, the U.S. and everybody else, then the whole state system will face a legitimacy test. If it fails, God help us all.

Interested in what Fourth Generation war in America might look like? Read Thomas Hobbes’ new future history, Victoria.