the crisis of Late Democracy

You will often hear people talk about the age of Late Capitalism. These people are almost always those who identify as being on the left but they do have a point. Capitalism has mutated. The capitalism of today bears little resemblance to the capitalism of the age of Henry Ford.
What has been less noticed is that we now live in the age of Late Democracy. Democracy of course was always a sham. The purpose of democratic institutions is to thwart the will of the people. What has changed, and it has changed dramatically over the past twenty years,  is that the mask has been dropped. In the past great effort was put into maintaining the pretense that democracy expressed the will of the people. This is no longer felt to be necessary.
Political leaders like Tony Blair, David Cameron, Barack Obama, François Hollande, Angela Merkel, Justin Trudeau and Malcolm Turnbull do not even pretend to care about what the voters want or think. 
The media no longer makes any attempt to hide the fact that it manipulates elections. Members of the real elite, the international finance elite, openly buy and sell politicians. Bureaucrats and judges openly despise ordinary people and openly defy the will of the people.
The contempt for ordinary people is palpable. And it is venomous. And it is openly expressed.
The question is whether this is sustainable in the long term. Governments have always felt the need for some sort of legitimacy. This was true even in the days when kings ruled rather than serving as figureheads. A king would think twice before taking any action that he knew would be repugnant to his people. A king reigned by the Grace of God but it was clearly understood that he was in a real sense the servant of his people. If he lost the confidence of the people he could be, and often was, deposed. Such a king no longer had any legitimacy and thus could no longer claim to rule by the Grace of God.
Even dictators usually only survive for as long as they serve the interests of the nation and the people. Like kings they can be, and often are, deposed.
We now have a new situation in which we are ruled by an elite whose claim to legitimacy is increasingly sketchy. Rule by a class which openly expresses its contempt for the people is also new.
Of course our current elites have much greater power in their hands than any king or dictator. Their control over the media is total and the power of the media is unprecedented in history. They control education. They control the police and the military. They control the “intelligence communities” which are now quite blatantly employed for the purpose of social control. They also control the economy. If you oppose them they can destroy your livelihood. They can destroy your family. They can also simply have you locked up and they are increasingly willing to do so.
In spite of all this power held by the elites the situation is inherently unstable. It can only continue as long as the elites remain united, and history shows that there is no guarantee that this will continue indefinitely. There are always groups that are on the margins of the elite and they would be happy to be on the inside, and in order to achieve this they will quite cheerfully displace existing members of the elites. New groups arise that want their share of the action and again they’re happy to take the place of existing elite groups.
The continuance of this situation also depends on the ability of the elites to navigate crises, and crises are by their nature impossible to predict.
Ruling classes also become, in time, decadent.
A ruling class without legitimacy is in a poor position to weather such storms, both internal and external. Whether or not our current ruling class can do so remains to be seen.

Manchester: the price of decadence and folly

There isn’t really much I can say about the Manchester attack that hasn’t already been said. One thing that does need to be emphasised over and over again though is that multi-culturalism is only part of the problem and it’s mostly a symptom. It’s not the underlying disease.
These attacks are happening because western society has become both decadent and irrational.
Maybe decadence is just a natural stage in societal evolution. In this case I’m not convinced. This seems to be deliberately engineered decadence. Everything that gives a society strength and stability has been systematically undermined. Our men have been emasculated and our women have become virtue-signaling harpies.
And pop culture, especially pop music, has played a major role in this. It has been one of the major weapons used to demoralise and degrade us.
We don’t fight back because we believe that holding hands and singing Imagine and lighting candles are the best ways to confront problems. And of course hashtags. Hashtags can solve just about any problem. 
Irrationality also has a great deal to do with this. This whole problem could have been  easily avoided but our leaders (and this includes the leaders of every western country) failed to do so. Whether this was from malice or stupidity is hard to say. I’m inclined to think it was a bit of both. Combining open borders with a crazed interventionist foreign policy can only lead to disaster. 
At the moment we have a wasps’ nest in our back yard. It’s been there for quite a while and every day we see the wasps busily going back and forth to their nest. The wasps are busy doing wasp things and they ignore us. They haven’t been any problem at all. There are two reasons why they haven’t been a problem. Firstly we don’t invite the wasps into our house. We don’t put up a sign on the door saying Wasps Welcome. They have their territory and we have ours. The second reason is that we don’t go poking their nest with sticks. That would be foolish and it would be unjust. We’re happy to recognise their right to exist, as long as they stay outside.
There’s a lot to be said for this as an approach to foreign policy. Leave the wasps in their own country and don’t go poking their nests with sticks.
Decadent societies tend not to survive. Societies that are both decadent and foolish have very little chance. We’re lucky in some ways. Our decadence is deliberately engineered so we can halt the slippery slide and maybe even reverse it, at least a little. Foolish foreign policies can be abandoned. 
Our leaders have let us down. We have to find a way to let them know that their failures will no longer be tolerated. It’s not going to be easy but a good start would be to stop with the candles and the John Lennon songs.

are we on the right seen as unpleasant people?

James at Nourishing Obscurity raises a very important but very uncomfortable point today.  

“This is a key issue in getting any of the snowflakes to see reason – that we ourselves come over as unpleasant people.”

There’s no question that the Right has a huge image problem. Unfortunately it’s to some extent well deserved. There are people who identify themselves, and are generally identified as, rightists or conservatives who are the kinds of people who will give any movement a bad name. These unpleasant people are not representative of conservative-leaning voters as a whole and it’s unfair that we get blamed for their sins but that’s the way it is. We need to face the problem.
The first group of the unpleasants is the rabid free markets/free trade/tax cuts for the rich crowd that comprises a large segment of the establishment of parties like the Republicans and the Tories. They obviously don’t give a damn for ordinary people and ordinary people are aware of this and as a result a very large number of ordinary people have an absolutely visceral loathing for these right-wing parties. They would die rather than vote Tory. And unfortunately as far as most people are concerned the vicious grasping Republicans and Tories are the face of conservatism.
The second group of unpleasants is those damned Nazis. Yes I know they’re all dead and there haven’t been any actual Nazis for seventy years but it doesn’t matter. Any political leader who is on the right and who deviates to the slightest degree from the approved path of respectable conservative politics is going to be labelled as Literally Hitler.
Now comes the really uncomfortable bit. While the rise of the alt-right has been understandable and is probably on the whole a very positive thing it does have its lunatic fringe. Of course every political movement and every political party has a lunatic fringe. The trouble is that the alt-right’s lunatic fringe is an absolute gift to our political opponents. It’s just so incredibly easy to portray them as being Literally Hitler. Some of them really are disturbing. It’s quite possible that many or even most of them are actually paid trolls employed by leftist organisations or even agents provocateurs from the FBI, but it has to be admitted that some of them are real and even though they’re harmless nutters if they make me uncomfortable they undoubtedly make ordinary people very uncomfortable.
What this all adds up to is that if you’re on the Right most people are going to regard you as either a cynical champion of the rich against the poor or an angry violent humourless life-hating person. 
So how do we deal with this problem? I don’t claim to have the answer. Perhaps we need to avoid terms like right and conservative altogether. These terms just have too much negative baggage. I’m not sure we can ever rehabilitate these terms.
Perhaps we need to be better at selling an overall positive vision for society. We need to emphasis what we’re in favour of rather than emphasising the things we hate. 
That’s the immense advantage that anyone who claims the leftist label has – they’re fighting to create a Better World, a safer place for children and puppies and we all want that don’t we? If not for the children then at least for the puppies. In actual fact most modern leftists are part of the Fake Left. They’re actually fighting for a better world for bankers and billionaires but they don’t get called out for their deceptions and they still get the benefits of being portrayed a crusaders for justice, equality, hugs and general niceness. We on the other hand just get labelled as hateful bigots.
We need to find a way to market our vision of a better world. We love puppies too.

political, spiritual and cultural struggles

A recent post at Upon Hope offers Some Lessons from Nationalism in Britain. It looks at the political fortunes of both the National Front and the more recent British National Party. 
My take on this is that if you want a revolution to succeed (and by revolution I mean peaceful dramatic changes in the political landscape as well as violent revolution) you have to have some part of the elite on your side. You have to have at least a small number of supporters or sympathiser within the key institutions – the media, academia, the bureaucracy, the churches, the judiciary, the military, etc.
When the British Labour Party set out on its quest to achieve power through the ballot box it did have sympathisers within all these institutions. The same can be said for the Australian Labor Party and for left-wing parties throughout most of the West.
The celebrated Long March Through the Institutions of the Cultural Left succeeded because there were already leftist sympathisers within those institutions and had been since the late 19th century.
The National Front and the British National Party on the other hand had zero supporters within the elites. They therefore had to face the united opposition of every one of the institutions that hold the keys to power. Their chances of achieving anything through the ballot box were non-existent.
That unfortunately is pretty much the situation that faces any modern anti-establishment party. The current liberal/globalist establishment is much more united than the old establishment ever was. Much more united, and much more cynical in its methods.
Which leads on to a post at Vanishing American II which suggests (rightly I think) that the spiritual and cultural struggle is as vital as the political struggle. 
If politics really is downstream of culture then our only long-term hope is to find a way of turning the spiritual/cultural struggle in our favour.
Of course if we hope to win a spiritual struggle we will need to recapture Christianity from the SJWs, homosexuals and atheists who currently control most churches. That will be a difficult task but when you consider the virtual impossibility, at this stage, of recapturing the media or academia or the bureaucracy then it has to be admitted that retaking Christianity is at least possible. A goal that is extremely difficult but achievable is preferable to goals that are simply not achievable.

it hasn’t happened in my street so it doesn’t matter

So there’s been another terror attack in Britain. And what will change as a result? Of course you know the answer – absolutely nothing. There will of course be candlelit vigils and people will sing Imagine and one or two news reporters might cry on screen. But absolutely nothing will change. 
The reason for this is of course the “it hasn’t happened in my street so it doesn’t matter” syndrome. People don’t care about bad stuff until it gets very close to them personally. They don’t care about crime until houses in their street get burgled. They don’t care about unemployment until it’s their kids who can’t find jobs. They don’t care about immigration until their suburb starts to get culturally enriched. They don’t care about terrorism until bombs start going off in their street.
Partly this is quite normal and healthy. We can only deal with so many worrying things and most of us have quite enough worries in our own personal lives. If we worried about everything, even things that don’t directly affect us, we’d all be in straitjackets in the local mental hospital.
Partly it reflects the fundamentally unnatural and unhealthy nature of modern life. We were not meant to live in huge cities and we were not meant to be constantly awash in a sea of mass media. We suffer from sensory overload, and more to the point we suffer from emotional overload. We cannot get upset by every single bad thing that happens anywhere in the world. So we have three choices – we can go mad, we can increase our dose of Prozac, or we can filter out stuff that isn’t relevant to us. Most normal people choose option three.
So it’s actually quite normal to take the “it hasn’t happened in my street so it doesn’t matter” approach. The problem is that it’s very important to distinguish between events that happen elsewhere that really are irrelevant to us and events that happen elsewhere that are actually likely to affect us in the not-too-distant future. It’s also important to distinguish between events that we might conceivably be able to do something about and things that we can do absolutely nothing about.
A rail disaster in Bolivia or an earthquake in Guatemala are both events that can quite reasonably be put into the category of things that are irrelevant to us and that we can’t do anything about.
On the other hand if crime has suddenly skyrocketed in a neighbouring town that should concern us since it could be an indication that we’re about to experience the same thing in our town. Unemployment should concern all of us because our jobs could be next on the chopping block. Immigration should worry us all because it could slowly but surely destroy our whole society. Terrorism should worry us. It could happen in my street. All of these things could happen in my street.
The real problem is that democracy is based on the idea that ordinary people can make these distinctions and can identify the things that they can and should be worried about. Even worse, democracy is based on the assumption that ordinary people can not only identify the important issues but also understand them, and understand what needs to be done, and send the right message to their elected representatives.
Unfortunately the things that really matter tend to be rather complicated. Do you have a clear and thorough understanding of which economic policies are best for the country? I have to confess that I don’t. Crime is complicated. It’s easy to assume that the best way to fight crime is to have more police but in fact the type of policing is more important than the quantity. Understanding terrorism might seem straightforward but there’s the difficulty that cynical and wrong-headed foreign policy decisions really have contributed to the problem, and foreign policy tends to be fiendishly complex.
There’s a further difficulty facing us today. Making the right judgment as to which party or candidate is likely to solve these problems is not easy when the correct decisions have been declared to be politically incorrect, wicked and forbidden even to think about. Solving problems such as immigration then becomes effectively impossible.
And of course if there’s one thing that ordinary people do understand very clearly indeed it is this – no matter which party you vote for they will betray you, they will break their promises, in many cases their actions will be the exact opposite of what they promised, and they will lie.
It is natural to take the “it hasn’t happened in my street so it doesn’t matter” view, but that view becomes even more attractive when the issues are complex and you know quite well that the politicians won’t listen to you anyway.
There is a solution and it’s an easy one – simply boycott the mainstream parties. There are and always have been alternatives if only people will take the final leap of logic – if you can’t trust the professional political class then vote for outsiders. They couldn’t do a worse job than the mainstream parties and at the very least it’s a way of putting the fear of God into the establishment politicians. But people won’t do it because none of these bad things have happened in their street yet.

Chamberlain and the Lost Peace

John Charmley’s Chamberlain and the Lost Peace was published in 1989 and makes a fine companion volume to his later Churchill: The End of Glory and Churchill’s Grand Alliance
Chamberlain and the Lost Peace is a bold reassessment of both Neville Chamberlain and his policy of appeasement, subjects which still lead to heated and acrimonious debates.
Charmley’s view is that Chamberlain was most certainly not a silly naïve old man nor was he soft. He was a hard-headed realist and he was tough and realistic. His realism was the key to his foreign policy. Chamberlain believed very strongly that Britain’s foreign policy had to be in harmony with its defence policy. A foreign policy based on the ability to intervene decisively in a continental war was obviously going to lead to disaster if the army that such intervention required did not exist. 
Even more importantly, defence policy had to be in harmony in economic policy. Economic realities determined defence policy. Britain simply could not afford to maintain a strong navy, a strong air force and a strong army. Something had to be sacrificed. Chamberlain believed that a strong navy and a strong air force were more important than a strong army and history proved him correct.
Even maintaining a strong navy and a strong air force was something that Britain could only afford in the short term. Ands there was the expense of maintaining the Empire.
Worst still, while Britain could with great difficulty support the cost of rearmament she could not actually afford to fight a war.
Chamberlain’s foreign policy was based on an acceptance of these realities, realities which contemporary critics like Eden and Churchill steadfastly refused to face (and most subsequent historians have also refused to accept these realities).
Since Britain could not afford an army that could intervene decisively in a continental war it naturally followed that a rational foreign policy had to be based on avoiding being entangled in such a war, and preferably had to be based on preventing such a war from happening. 
For Chamberlain foreign policy was not a matter of taking a moral stand, since taking a moral stand without having the force to back it up is not only futile, it does more harm than good. Chamberlain’s foreign policy objective was to build of Britain’s defences while doing everything possible to contain German expansionism. Since Britain lacked an army capable of intervening directly in central Europe this containment could only be achieved by diplomatic means. Chamberlain did not trust Hitler and he strongly disapproved of not only Hitler but dictators in general. On the other hand Chamberlain did not believe it was worth starting a catastrophic war, with no guarantee of victory, in circumstances in which Britain could provide no actual assistance to threatened nations such as Czechoslovakia and Poland.
Critics of Chamberlain often underestimate the full extent of his difficulties. He was somewhat sceptical of the extent to which the French could be relied upon (and he was obviously correct on that score), he was extremely sceptical of the possibility of any meaningful help from the United States and he was absolutely sure he could not trust Stalin. That left Britain with few options.
Given the reality of the situation in 1938 Chamberlain’s policy was not merely reasonable, it was the only sensible policy that Britain could pursue.
So why did Chamberlain’s policy fail to avert war? The answer to that is that by early 1939 Chamberlain was no longer a free agent. He was under extreme political pressure to abandon appeasement and adopt a more aggressive policy and his own Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax, was determined to take a strong stand by offering a guarantee to Poland. Chamberlain, despite grave misgivings, felt that he had little choice other than to agree. Had he stuck to his policy of appeasement war might well have been avoided.
The insane decision to offer a unilateral guarantee to Poland was prompted to a large extent by a flood of wild and baseless rumours and hopelessly incorrect (and in many cases deliberately misleading) intelligence reports. The Second World War would not be the last war to be brought about by erroneous intelligence reports. The Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax, unfortunately took the wildest of these rumours at face value. War becomes inevitable once people believe that it is inevitable. Britain blundered into war in 1939 as she had blundered into war in 1914.
Of course it goes without saying that support for the policy of appeasement did not and does not imply support for Hitler. Chamberlain detested Hitler and the Nazis, and he was well aware of the nature of Hitler’s regime. The fact that an historian believes that on balance appeasement was the most sensible of the limited options available to Britain also does not imply any kind of sympathy for the Nazis or any naïvete on the subject. Sometimes there are no good foreign policy options so one must settle for the least worst option.
Charmley is always provocative and always worth reading. Chamberlain and the Lost Peace is highly recommended.

why have conservatives failed to revolt?

It is easy enough to make the claim that the catastrophic decline of our civilisation over the past fifty years or so has been imposed upon us by without our consent and against our will by  cynical elites. There is a considerable amount of truth to to this but it is not the full story. We have in fact given de facto consent to our own destruction. We have done this by failing to resist this destruction.
A particularly interesting question is – why have rank-and-file conservatives allowed our civilisation to be trashed? The supporters of parties such as the British Conservative Party, the Australian Liberal Party and the Republican Party in the US have been historically drawn from the middle classes. They are supposedly well educated. Many if not most are people who are at least modestly successful in business or the professions. Can these people really claim they had no idea what was happening? Can they really claim they failed to understand the consequences of one disastrous decision after another, one catastrophic policy after another? Can they also make the claim that were was nothing they could do to halt the remorseless slide to ruin?
By the time Ted Heath became prime minister in 1970 the British Conservative Party had long since ceased to stand for anything conservative. In fact it had ceased to stand for anything at all. It’s true that under Margaret Thatcher it had a brief flirtation with the concept of standing for something, although what the Thatcher Government stood for certainly wasn’t conservatism. After that it gratefully went back to standing for nothing except the hope of power. And for half a century Conservative voters have dutifully turned out to vote for them.
It’s understandable that they didn’t wish to vote Labour but there were alternatives. Even voting for an independent is preferable to voting for unprincipled charlatans. Conservative voters could have made it clear to the party that if it intended to betray its conservative principles then it was going to face political oblivion. Faced with a revolt by its core voters it would have little choice but to rethink its slide towards amoral cynicism.
In Australia as early as the 70s it was clear that the Liberal-National Coalition intended, with its catastrophic embrace of multiculturalism, to betray its own base. It’s the same story with the US Republicans.
Each of these these parties has consistently treated its own base with contempt, and that base has kept on voting for them.
It could be argued that in the 70s the process of betrayal was not yet completely obvious, but it has certainly been obvious for the past twenty years. Finally, in the past few years, there have been some stirrings of discontent – the rise of UKIP, the Trump phenomenon – but it has been too little too late and there is still no guarantee that even these belated revolts will be sufficiently sustained to have any real effect.
Even more puzzling are the motivations of the actual members – the rank-and-file members – of these parties. They should surely have been even more aware of the extent to which these parties had abandoned any loyalty to their supporters. Why do they remain within parties from which it is obvious that nothing good can be expected?
Of course the leftist parties have betrayed their principles and their supporters to an equally egregious degree, but conservative voters are as I indicated earlier supposedly better educated. 
It appears that the middle and upper classes, who provide most of the support for these supposedly conservative parties, have been thoroughly demoralised and corrupted. Of course our whole society has been systematically demoralised and corrupted by half a century of relentless indoctrination into the values of liberalism coupled with the worship of hedonism and depravity. What is disturbing though is that it appears that the demoralisation of the middle classes must have started long before this – after all it was educated middle class people who unleashed the horrors of the past fifty years of cultural degeneracy upon us so they must have already been corrupted.
It was apparently sensible and respectable middle class people who were already as early as the 1960s tamely acquiescing in elite follies such as mass immigration, feminism, the undermining of the family, the insane liberalising of the drug laws and the embrace of homosexuality. And not just young middle-class people, but in many cases middle-aged middle-class people. The demoralisation of the middle classes must have begun much earlier.
Societies can commit suicide but it takes a very long time to do so. It requires people to shut their eyes to reality for decade after decade. In fact it requires a real effort of will to ignore reality so completely for so long, and an even larger effort of will to persist in such folly.