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Is America Crazy?

Ace of Spades asks the question, and speaks to the reason I don’t blog as much as I used to:

Half of America now consists of barely-functional lunatics, and it’s best to avoid them for all sorts of reasons.

I know I’m a bad blogger for not jumping on all of these Freak-Outs. I have felt guilty sometimes about not jumping on the internet on a weekend — for example, during the Charlottesville incidents.

I do this for selfish reasons: I do not wish to be amidst madman shrieking and by being amidst them, become infected with madness myself.

But I sometimes justify this selfish aversion to doing my job as actually doing my job: As I do not wish to be infected by the viral lunacy consuming half of this country, so too do I not wish to be a vector of that lunacy, infecting other people.

I am now much more involved with my local gun club than I used to be. That started out of necessity, but I’m finding I like being able to do something to promote and preserve the shooting sports that’s not political, and that gets me away from the RSS feed, Facebook, and constant stream of news and commentary that must be followed to have something to blog about.

I’m also going to get back into camping. Maybe buy a canoe. I don’t know much about canoes, but it seems like something I might enjoy taking up, and we could use the exercise.

I don’t plan on quitting blogging, but these days I need more of a break from the news than I used to.

90 Responses to “Is America Crazy?”

  1. countertop says:

    I’ve got two canoes. And just purchased another kayak (2 person). We love to go paddling.

    • Patrick says:

      There are two types of kayaks: sit-on-top closed kayaks for water with waves, or if you are concerned with getting swamped; and sit-in style ‘yaks that get you closer to the water but are floating bathtubs. Sit-ins are more enjoyable in serene waters, but they are iffy when the water gets dicey. So just know where you’ll be paddling and buy accordingly.

      I have a Hobie closed kayak and take it into the ocean, exclusively. My brother-in-law and I once drove it straight into 7-8 foot crests in a storm; we rolled it when we turned. It stayed afloat and we eventually got back on. Hell of a ride.

      • Whetherman says:

        “So just know where you’ll be paddling and buy accordingly.”

        Good advice, if you start out knowing. But my more generalized advice for most people is, buy “entry level” then move up depending on the way your tastes develop. Don’t commit yourself to one aspect of kayaking before you know if you’ll really like it or not.

        To make a shooting analogy, I always hear people who think they are sorta-kinda interested in getting into shooting, advised to “Buy a Model X and then take it to Joe Blow who is the best gunsmith in the land for tuning them; except then take it to Jack Wadanabe to have the trigger worked. . .”

        Nine times out of ten that’s terrible advice, for someone who still needs to discover what’s fun for them. It effectively amounts to “don’t bother, it’s too much trouble.”

  2. Thirdpower says:

    The days that I’ve been away from the news and book of face drama were wonderful.

  3. Whetherman says:

    “I know I’m a bad blogger for not jumping on all of these Freak-Outs.”

    I forget how much it has been discussed here, but I always think of that “Fourth Turning,” cyclic theory of history, that societies experience an “upheaval” once every “long human lifetime” of anywhere from 70 to 100 years. In the Anglo-American example, 1688, 1776, 1861, and (arguably) 1932 – 1945, which would make us about due. All shared the characteristic that a lot of the population went a little nutty.

    The philosophical question is, when it comes, are the Good Guys the people who participate, or the ones who sit it out?

    I’m thinking of the dubious claim of the III%ers, that only three percent of the population actively supported the American Revolution. That low number sounds doubtful, but, I think there is a consensus that close to a majority of the population just sat it out, except for making small moves here and there to optimize their immediate positions.

    So, sincere question, who are the Good Guys? Who would we want to have been in say, 1776 or 1861?

    • Sebastian says:

      In both 1776 and 1861 there were some pretty substantial moral questions the country was struggling with that people were divided on. The problem with now is I don’t know what the big moral question is, other than opposing Trump, who seems to me, so far, to be pretty successfully opposed given his lack of accomplishments. Even if that’s more his own doing, rather than opposition, I’m not sure how that matters.

      It seems to me that the post-WWII arrangement no longer works and this is the beginning of the struggle to define a new arrangement, but what’s the big moral question I need to take a side on?

      • Jonathan says:

        I read an interesting article a while ago which posited that the post WWII world consensus is breaking down and that both Obama and Trump are waypoints towards building a new consensus and that a future president will figure out how to bridge the current gaps and provide a more widely accepted direction.
        I’m not sure there won’t be some big problems on the way, but in general I agree with the idea. I think it also fits with your point about changes every 70 to 100 years.

        • Sebastian says:

          And the thing is, I’m kind of ambivalent about that, since I never though the post-WWII world was written in stone to begin with.

          I’d like to think it a rearrangement could mean a reduced role for government, but I don’t see that’s a defining issue of this struggle. Maybe the struggle is authoritarianism vs. non-authoritarianism, but I don’t see much non-authoritarianism out in the mix, so to speak.

          I do agree that Obama and Trump are transitory figures, if only because they were both very adept at exploiting the crackup, but neither are really effective enough leaders to take the country in a direction we can build a new consensus around.

          • Alpheus says:

            I actually *do* think that the struggle is against the Individualists and the Collectivists. It’s kindof hard to see that struggle, though, because the traditional home of the Individualists — the Republican Party — has major Collectivist elements as well — and it’s clear that these elements are struggling for control of this party — and that struggle may very well result in the demise of the GOP, if the members aren’t careful…

            I would say that the Democrats can have Individualists too, to some extent, at least, but I have the impression that they ended up purged when they were pushed to support ObamaCare, and were subsequently replaced with Republicans afterward.

            To further complicate matters, American politics has both Individualist streaks (coming from settling frontiers) and Collectivist streaks (from our Puritan traditions). Then again, most of the rest of the world merely have different flavors of Collectivism to choose from, and Individualism generally isn’t even on the table…

            • Whetherman says:

              A long time ago when I was a “survivalist” fancier (are those “preppers”, today?) I had a few copies of “VonuLife,”the writings of people who at the time were living under tree roots and in the caves of national forests. Those I would credit with being “individualists,” effectively hermits. Otherwise, over the years I have come to find that most self-styled “individualists” favor an awful lot of collectivism when it is for the purpose of enforcing their personal preferences in the world. In other words, they’re mostly full of it.

              (Even those hermits depended on a massive collective to defend their hiding places in the national forests.)

              This is a subset of what I’ve commented before, but the term “collectivist” is most appropriately applied to advocates of enforced collectivism. There are people, who very likely are kidding themselves, who believe that if “The State should wither away” (first), “voluntary” collectives would evolve to replace it. However they don’t claim to seek enforced collectivization as the path to that, while they’re waiting.

              Certainly the question is, what such idealists (voluntary individualists or voluntary collectivists) are willing to tolerate or advocate policy-wise, while The State is still extant, and they’re waiting for it to wither away.

              In my right-libertarian days we were all over “privatization” as a “step in the right direction” to the withering away of the state. I doubt people have ever been so wrong; e.g., private prisons have created a lobby for ever more state oppression in the name of “law and order.” Our intentions were good, but you know what the road to hell is said to be paved with. As idealists all we did was advocate for the tool to grow the reach of The State, and to further enrich its oligarch-owners at public expense. But, as idealists we were willing to tolerate that (to a point) on the assumption that it was a “step in the right direction.”

              • Alpheus says:

                An Individualist is someone who generally seeks to protect the rights of individuals. Among those rights is the right of free association, so I do not see how wishing to voluntarily organize into larger groups counts as “collectivism”.

                Collectivists, in contrast, are more than happy to trample on individuals for the greater good. So I don’t see the conundrum that you see.

                On the other hand, while I generally agree with privatization in general, I can also see the problem with privatizing prisons…but personally, I can’t help but wonder if taking away people’s liberty for punishment is actually a bad thing for a society that prides itself on valuing freedom. I have reached the conclusion that, private or public, prisons are simply bad, but I barely have only a few ideas on what we might do as alternatives to prison time. And frankly, if I were to propose those ideas to the general public, they’ll probably think I’m insane.

                (I can post them here, of course, and while I won’t necessarily get agreement, I would certainly get a lively debate…)

                • Whetherman says:

                  “I do not see how wishing to voluntarily organize into larger groups counts as ‘collectivism’.”

                  I’m thinking of those groups who voluntarily join together to force others to stop voluntarily doing Wrong Things.

                  That often as not starts out being cast as some sort of “self-defense,” until before long, self-defense becomes more and more loosely defined; and can include things like “we have to stop tolerating X because if we don’t it will bring God’s Wrath upon us. . .”

                  Incidentally, you and I can disagree about a lot, but I still respect your divergent thought processes!

      • Whetherman says:

        “The problem with now is I don’t know what the big moral question is, other than opposing Trump…”

        I’d suggest that the big moral question may be, why so many of us held such totally opposing views on the morality of supporting Trump; why (to state it as kindly as I can) some of us heard what he said and heard one thing, while others heard the same words and heard something else, totally the opposite.

        And that is while discounting completely those people who actively supported Hillary, in the sense of actually believing she was a good candidate. That is an entirely separate subject.

        A subset of the question may be, how was it that we all missed the magnitude of the undercurrent in our culture that would become the “alt-right?” And, are some of us underestimating it even now? If so, why?

        Or if some of us are overestimating it, why are we?

        Once again, like the simpler “Trump” question, why are there polarized perceptions?

        (Please no one reduce it to “those evil Them versus the good Us.”)

        • Sebastian says:

          I don’t think the alt-right honestly has all that much political power. They are crawling out of the woodwork because a) social media allows people to create carefully crafted echo chambers and to find other like minded people, no matter how odd the beliefs and b) it is a backlash to the racial and sexual identity politics being played out over the past five years.

          Trump won despite himself I think rather than because he was widely loved and admired. That shows in his relatively bad approval ratings. I think this is mostly correct about why Trump won.:

          There are two main theories of Trump’s support. One is that a large minority of Americans — 40 percent, give or take — are racist idiots. This theory is at least tacitly endorsed by the Democratic Party and the mainstream liberal media. The other is that a large majority of this large minority are good citizens with intelligible and legitimate opinions, who so resent being regarded as racist idiots that they’ll back Trump almost regardless. They may not admire the man, but he’s on their side, he vents their frustration, he afflicts the people who think so little of them — and that’s good enough.

          It’s disappointing that Charlottesville hasn’t changed their minds — but then it hasn’t changed my mind either. I still think the first theory is absurd and the second theory basically correct.

          Not to give Bloomberg too much traffic, but I also think this is correct:

          In 1968, a year after interracial marriage was given constitutional protection, 73 percent of the public opposed these unions, including one-third of African-Americans. Only 20 percent approved of them. By 2013, the last year Gallup’s pollsters asked the question, attitudes had dramatically reversed: 87 percent of poll respondents approved of interracial marriage and only 11 were opposed.

          That said, if identity politics continues to dominate, I could see the big moral issue becoming which identity groups get to stick it to which other identity groups depending on who holds political power, but that’s not a fight I really want to get involved in. To me that amounts to the destruction of the country.

          • Whetherman says:

            Regarding your last-quoted item, about polls regarding interracial marriage, I wonder if such polls measure what people actually think, versus what they’ve learned they are supposed to think. Perhaps they are afraid to say they do think.

            On that specific issue, anecdotally: Someone I know well, privately admits to being creeped out by seeing interracial (i.e., African-American and Caucasian) couples. They would never act on that in any way, I’m sure, and they would never advocate for any public policy to prevent or obstruct it; I suspect if they were polled, they would answer the way they think is now the expected way. But privately they are still creeped out, in fact.

            I am just supposing the way that could be manifested would be, if say a candidate was exposed as being opposed to interracial marriage; the “mainstream” might suppose that would be the kiss of death for that candidacy, while those people who are silently offended by seeing interracial couples might not count it as being very important, compared to other issues.

            • Sebastian says:

              That’s always an issue with polls. If there are options that no good and decent people are supposed to have, few will tell pollsters. But there are genuine generational differences on race issues. The reason younger people are more open to interracial marriages in many of them are products of them.

            • Ian Argent says:

              As long as they don’t act on it in any way; the polls are “correct” for the purpose. “Creeped out” is only a problem if it leads to popular support of laws preventing, or popular actions against people participating.

              If all the opponents do is avert their eyes, it’s not an issue in politics; not a major one.

              • Whetherman says:

                ” ‘Creeped out’ is only a problem if it leads to popular support of laws preventing, or popular actions against people participating.”

                True, but what I was alluding to was that there may be a large “underground” of creeped-out people, who remain quiet, but can be brought back to the surface and reinvigorated by the right political circumstances, or an active campaign to do so. At that time they can become a “new” (while old) political force.

                I believe the Trump campaign was our contemporary example.

                It is almost a cliche’ to point out that historically Germany was regarded as having one of the most cultured and cosmopolitan societies in the world, until the Nazis used the always-present undercurrent of antisemitism as a tool to leverage themselves to power. They made it cool again the be an anti-semite, where it otherwise had become a bit unseemly.

                • Ian Argent says:

                  Which, if followed to the end, leads one to believe that Tiki Torch Nazis should be suppressed early and often; lest they attract the “underground.”

                  Not that such suppression need be done by punching them. Pointely ignoring their antics , starve them of publicity. By non-governmental-actors attacking them, they get a curious kind of legitimacy. Let them march, while the world watches something else.

                  • Whetherman says:

                    “starve them of publicity.”

                    Except that, you know that is not going to happen. Great if you and I could throw a switch and arrange it (I’d have tried it months ago), but the fact is that them throwing their weight around with impunity would prove to be irresistible click-bait.

                    You probably know that the counter-argument is, that their best recruiting tool for other bullies is to be able to impose themselves with impunity. It is alleged to be what worked for the historical, original Nazis in Germany. When you’re feeling a little down, what can be a better mood-enhancer than the promise of kicking a little ass? But in England, where Sir Oswald Mosley and his British Union of Fascists got their asses kicked by mostly unorganized poor people in the East End of London in October 1936, fascism ultimately failed to take root, despite the support for it from the British police and the fascist-favoring monarch at that time.

                    • Sebastian says:

                      Was the Battle of Cable Street what did in the BUF? Or was it the Public Order Act that meant to target them, or the outbreak of WWII when the party was outlawed, and its leaders jailed under military authority?

                      BUF never had all that much electoral success, probably because Britain was never a failed state in the same way Weimar was.

                    • Whetherman says:

                      “Or was it the Public Order Act that meant to target them…?”

                      The interpretation of history I lean toward, is that it was the Public Order Act, which disabled their ability to march while wearing cool uniforms. (The POA would of course have been unconstitutional, here.) But, the Public Order Act was inspired by the Battle of Cable Street, which either woke up or scared the hell out of the nobility, or both. If that is true, then the battle was a good thing.

                      I’ll admit it is quite a bit of extrapolation, and a bit “conspiratorial,” but there is a theory that the abdication of Edward VIII was actually forced by a “woke” nobility, and not really because of Wallis Simpson, who merely provided a convenient excuse backed by a somewhat romantic story. Edward VIII had fairly open Nazi/fascist sympathies, and was throughout the later war (along with the former Mrs. Simpson) regarded with both suspicion, and as somewhat an embarrassment.

                      In any case, a significant influence in British society — the police — had been fairly open supporters of fascism. Mosley’s BUF was a relatively insignificant force at Cable Street, compared to tens of thousands of residents, and after they had left the field, it was the Metropolitan Police that the EastEnders had to fight. It is very likely the police sympathies would not have changed had the war not come along and reawakened their patriotic instincts.

                • bor says:

                  Stop implying Trump supporters are Nazis. It an offensive lie. It is the crazy aholes that believe that garbage that are rioting in the streets and attacking people.

                  • Whetherman says:

                    Then if I was a Trumpnik, I would be in the crowd knocking those red hats off all the people willing to stand alongside the Nazis and white supremacists.

                    I’m thinking of all the people who say that it is the responsibility of “good” Muslims to crack down on the Muslim radicals and terrorists. The same principle holds.

          • Whetherman says:

            “I don’t think the alt-right honestly has all that much political power.”

            The other day, in another thread, I asked rhetorically “how many Nazis were there when Hitler attempted his failed Beer Hall Putsch in 1923?”

            I’ve since looked up the numbers and it’s claimed that there were 55,000 Nazi Party members in 1923, and that 2,000 of them participated in the Putsch. At the time Germany’s population was about 64 million.

            So, in 1923 Nazis made up ~0.086 percent of the population and ~0.003 percent of the population took part in the failed Putsch. But ten years later — look out, baby!

            Comparisons to the U.S. today are difficult, because the “alt right” tends not to be exactly “card carrying” so that we could say there are X members. But to be comparable to Germany’s Nazis in 1923, all that would be required would be for about 275,000 Americans to strongly identify with the alt right, or self-identify as some variation of “white supremacist/nationalist.”

            I would not dismiss the phenomenon lightly. The Nazis clearly demonstrated they didn’t have all that much political power in Germany, in 1923. But Lord, look what happened!

            • Alpheus says:

              It wasn’t the membership of the Nazis that concerns me. How many Communists were there in Germany in 1923? If the Nazis weren’t around, what are the chances that, 10 years later, we would be talking about the German Communist Revolution, and how German Communism had to be defeated because they decided to take over all of Europe?

              The problem with Germany wasn’t that they had tiny groups of people who wanted to take over the government, and get total power. Every country has those. The problem is that Germany’s government and economy pretty much collapsed, which opened the door to being receptive to messages from wannabe leaders who promised to fix things, if only they got complete and total power to do so.

              Fortunately, there’s nothing wrong with America’s Federal government, or the economy. Right? (looks nervously) Right?

              • Whetherman says:

                “If the Nazis weren’t around, what are the chances that, 10 years later, we would be talking about the German Communist Revolution…”

                So, to paraphrase what Flip Wilson used to quip, it was The Devil that made the Nazis do it? ;-)

                I actually am fascinated by how predictable it is, whether people will come around to that excuse, based on their present political alignments.

                • Whetherman says:

                  Not relevant to the debate, but, I knew a guy (now long gone) who had been a communist in Germany in the 1930s, but when he came here and was naturalized, joined the county Republican Party, which indirectly is how I came to know him. His philosophy had shifted from idealism to pragmatism, i.e., “sign on with the side that’s winning; and all politics is local.”

                  His DNA (so to speak) is still represented in the county party today, but I must necessarily stop with that cryptic comment.

                • Alpheus says:

                  Not so much “the Devils made the Nazis do it” as it is “How susceptible are people to accepting ‘strong man’ solutions when society is in chaos?”

                  Which is why I’m not pleased to think that America may be on the edge of societal collapse.

                  Of course, I could be wrong: it may be possible that the people will demand freedom when things collapse, and it may be possible for societies that are doing well can devolve into tyranny (how did Chavez get into leadership, for example? I’m not aware of the circumstances, but he may be an example of someone who took powers during prosperity)…

              • Whetherman says:

                “How many Communists were there in Germany in 1923?”

                A good, objective, academic question.

                FWIW, Wikipedia identifies six “left wing” political parties in the Weimar Republic, fifteen “right wing” political parties, and four “center” parties.

                I am still looking for a head count of how many people belonged to the primary communist party in 1923, when Nazi membership is purported to have been 55,000.

                Certainly party memberships have to have been very fluid, and neither “left wing” nor “right wing” were necessarily monolithic, or even fellow travelers. So I don’t know what we can make out of there being fifteen right-wing parties compared to only six left-wing parties.

                Eric Hoffer, in his book “The True Believer,” reported that Hitler directed that ex-communists should be “moved to the head of the class” when they chose to join the Nazis, allegedly because he recognized the value of “True Believers” and the interchangeability of ideologies and belief systems.

                (I think these historical matters are worth spending time on, because of the parallels between our political scenario today, and that of the Weimar Republic. They’re aren’t exact, of course, but they are there.)

                • Whetherman says:

                  “Eric Hoffer, in his book ‘The True Believer…’ “

                  The two following passages from “The True Believer” are relevant:

                  The similarities are many: both mass movements and armies are collective bodies; both strip the individual of his separateness and distinctness; both demand self-sacrifice, unquestioning obedience and singlehearted allegiance; both make extensive use of make-belief to promote daring and united action; and both can serve as a refuge for the frustrated who cannot endure an autonomous existence.

                  …the true believers of various hues, though they view each other with mortal hatred and are ready to fly at each other’s throats, recognize and respect each other’s strength. Hitler looked on the Bolsheviks as his equals and gave orders that former Communists should be admitted to the Nazi party at once. Stalin in his turn saw in the Nazis and the Japanese the only nations worthy of respect.

      • Whetherman says:

        “In both 1776 and 1861 there were some pretty substantial moral questions the country was struggling with…”

        I apologize for belaboring this (if I seem to be) but were the people motivated by “moral issues” or did the issues become “moral issues” because of the mood of the population? May a “moral issue” be, what the population chooses to make one?

        I seem to recall that part of the argument in the cyclic/mass psychology theory was, that while the historical upheavals can all be explained with hindsight, in fact most of them took almost everyone by surprise at the time. E.g., no one but a few cranks thought there would be a revolution a year or two before 1775, nor a Civil War a year or two before 1861. Meanwhile, people had allowed greater incitements to pass largely unnoticed, in earlier decades of the same eras.

  4. Whetherman says:

    I favor kayaks, as the ultimate “simple machines” of the boating world. As long as both you and Bitter are young and healthy, I’d recommend two one-man kayaks over a single-seater. I have seen entry-level kayaks at Dick’s (etc.) as low as around $200. You can get the feel for what you want to do, with something like that, then upgrade later if you want to.

    A kayak has the advantage that, as long as you can get your body to the water, you can get the kayak to the water there and launch it. That greatly expands your potential for places to paddle. Most canoes are much more limiting, in general requiring two people to comfortably load and unload them from your car, and most of us do not become all that adept at paddling them alone, especially in the wind.

    A canoe becomes more useful if you have young kids or a reason for transporting a lot of gear. I mainly use mine for an occasional crabbing trip at the seashore with members of my extended family. I crab from the kayak when I’m alone, by throwing out baited crab lines tied to plastic bottle buoys, and going back and forth between the lines.

    I got into kayaks back around the beginnings of the fad, and initially they opened up some great new fishing spots for me. But now that everyone and his brother has a kayak, all my secret spaces have been invaded and spoiled. But, join the paddling fun, anyway.

    • Sebastian says:

      I was thinking kayak too, but worry somewhat about getting out of one if I roll over. Maybe that’s not as much of a concern as I think.

      • -JD- says:

        If you get a sit-on-top kayak, you can’t help but come out if you roll. Of course it is very hard to accidentally roll a sit-on-top, or most modern recreational kayaks for that manner. And most recreational sit-in kayaks have huge cockpits anyway.

        We have 3 recreational singles (10′, 12′, and 14′) and a 14.5′ tandem that is solo-able. I am just over in MontCo. and happy to let you try them out on the Delaware or Schuylkill.

      • Whetherman says:

        “I was thinking kayak too, but worry somewhat about getting out of one if I roll over.”

        I have two with conventional cockpits. I’ve only rolled one in shallow water, my first time out, trying to paddle “uphill” in a small rapids, so I can’t really answer. I know I should rehearse all possible scenarios, but you know, never quite “got around to it.”

        I personally favor a spacious cockpit and might be a little nervous in one that was only slightly wider than my hips. Some of my friends have higher-end kayaks like that, that take less energy to paddle long distances, but I’m not really comfortable in them. I suppose they are just as stable for all practical purposes, and I might like them when I got used to them, but initially they feel more “sensitive” roll-wise, and the tight cockpits scare me a bit, too.

        My only objection to a sit-on-top is aesthetic; that’s not what a kayak is “supposed to look like.” I have a photo of my dad paddling a kayak he built, canvas-over-frame, close to 90 years ago, and that’s what I think a “kayak should look like.”

        I’d mention that weight should be a consideration; not to pay top dollar for some ultra-light technology, but, be aware of what you can comfortably lift and carry, without playing macho man.

      • Patrick says:

        Hobie has a fishing platform (best word for it) that would be damn hard to roll. It’s designed to support a standing fisherman in moderate waters.

        Also check out Hobie’s “Mirage Drive” – they are flippers under the boat that propel you forward when you push pedals up above (see their vids to understand). I have had the Oasis two-seater for a few years and confirm that we can throw a wake with a healthy adult working those flippers (5-6 MPH sustained speed). If you didn’t see legs moving, you’d swear it was using a motor.

        We take it in ocean and gulf waters and it gets us out to fishing areas and small islands fast. Thing is heavy, though. It comes with paddles, but it’s meant to be used with those flippers as the primary.

  5. dwb says:

    Half of America is crazy? Don’t be absurd. That is exactly the kind of hyperbole and ridiculous exaggeration that plagues the media.

    The media is desperate for eyeballs, which means they are prone to use tabloid style headlines and reporting to drum up business. The fact that you see one “viral” post about a dog carrying food home in the flood, does not mean all dogs suddenly are brilliant. And if you have no idea what I mean, you probably are one of the 300 million people who did not see the “viral” video.

    In a land of 330 million people, its easy to find a few crazy people, put them on TV, and claim everyone is watching. If 25 million people watch, that is still less than 10% of the population (prime time main stream news gets <10 million per night).

    Most of these social media storms and overblown viral stories are the same few million people over and over with not much better to do. The typical person still has to go to work and get their kids to school, and is not super concerned about the tweetstorm.

    In fact, it is precisely because people are not paying much attention that the media needs to invent nonsense. The reality is most peoples lives are pretty boring, thats why we need to invent unending coverage of stories like the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines 370. Hopw long did CNN run with that anyway? seemed like months.

    It used to be, when we had 3 networks, prime time content was relatively tame. Vanilla. Can’t say the swear word on TV. Now, we have Walking Dead and some pretty raw shows on prime time. The News needs to compete with gruesome zombies for eyeballs. So they need to invent even more disgusting monsters to get people to watch.

    • Whetherman says:

      “That is exactly the kind of hyperbole and ridiculous exaggeration that plagues the media.”

      But, consider some of the unique phenomena like, what was it, almost a million people turning out for the “Women’s March” (or whatever it was called) in Washington, DC, the Saturday after Inauguration Day?

      If you realize how difficult it is to get people to do something, no matter how strongly they feel about an issue, events like that (or even, tens of thousands turning out for more recent demonstrations) suggest an unusual level of motivation — and an unusual mass state-of-mind.

      • dwb says:

        meh. I used to work in D.C. It is the protest capital of the world. Well, not really. London is the protest capital of the world and they are a lot more efficient about it too.

        Here is a list of some of the biggest, back to 1960s: https://www.curbed.com/2017/1/19/14311548/marches-protests-locations-united-states-history

        In the 1960s, the population of the USA was about 2/3 what it is today. A 600,000 person march in 1960 is about a 900,000 march today. So if the crowds seem bigger than 50 years ago, they are. But not because people are more motivated.

        Plus, notice the range on some of these estimates: “300,000 to 1 million.” In other words, we have no idea how many people showed up. I have no idea if a million people truly showed up day after inauguration. Nor does anyone else. I do know that the organizers and media have a self-interest in promoting the rallies and inflating the numbers. The media will always interview the people that give them the biggest news story (Ever read the headline “Nothing happened”?), and rally organizers are more than happy to oblige with inflated numbers.

        Right now this week there are over a million people on cruise ships sailing around the Caribbean vacationing it up. True fact. Who cares. Its a big country, and at any given time there is a large fraction with substantial free time. Unfortunately.

  6. RAH says:

    IS America crazy? No The left has done massive indoctrination of our children and those children have been trained in hysteria. These people are not a majority by any stretch but their voices are amplified by twitter and FB etc. As to the alt right You may be surprised how many are starting to think of themselves that way. The fact that tribal politics have taken hold , it is natural for people on the other side to adopt the same tactics. Basically that is what the alt right is.
    The nice thing about Houston on constant TV is that the visible signs how people just help other people and do not care about foolish divisions.

    As to camping . I do agree It can be peaceful I prefer a canoe to a kayak. Kayaks though are light and easier to propel.

    • Whetherman says:

      “…those children have been trained in hysteria.”

      I was just thinking. . .

      You want “hysteria”? I’ll give you hysteria!

      I’m one of the generation that hid under our desks in a one-room schoolhouse, as a supposed defense against what was thought to be imminent nuclear attack.

      (When an air raid warden told my mother, who was walking to town along a rural road at the time, that she should be laying face down in a roadside ditch during a 1950s drill, mom asked him “What, do I look like an effing groundhog?”)

      Maybe that’s nostalgia for some, but it was hysteria that was leveraged into public support for a pointless war in Southeast Asia, a couple years after I graduated from high school.

      “Hysteria?” You ain’t seen nothing compared to the Red Scare days!

  7. Padre says:

    If you’re interested in canoeing, check out the books and videos by Bill Mason: Path of the Paddle and Song of the Paddle. The videos are available on Youtube and although they’re about 30 years old, paddling a canoe is about the same now as it was then. Path is a paddling how-to, while Song seems more like a canoe-camping manifesto.

  8. Will says:

    Bear in mind that the media deliberately distorts what the alt/right is about. For a definition:

    http://voxday.blogspot.com/2016/08/what-alt-right-is.html
    —————-
    For those who like to travel by kayak, but might be lacking fitness or time:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZaZidG5Fh9c&t=467s
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEQYRlRajgY
    “Aquachigger” is a Civil War buff, and spends his retirement hunting for relics, mostly around rivers and creeks. A couple of his kayaks are motorized (jet powered, no prop to get caught), and they allow him to get to interesting places quickly, to allow time to play in nature. They can be paddled when needed.

    • Brad says:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cp0uq-QafYQ

      An honest look at the alt right

      The alt right are too authoritarian, too racialist, too anti-enlightenment. Very far off from my own beliefs. But it also seems the accusations that the alt right are nothing but Nazis and KKK are also exaggerations.

      In my opinion the alt-right are a reactionary movement in the strictest sense, they are the natural political reaction to the growth in power of other identitarian movements which today form the core of the Democratic Party coalition.

    • bor says:

      I read the Vox Day article Will. Did you see: “we must secure the existence of white people and a future for white children”?

      That is a direct quote from the murderer David Lane, member of the Neo-Nazi group “The Order”:
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourteen_Words

      Why in the world is Vox Day approvingly quoting neo-nazi murderers, Will?

      Any sane person will stay away from these vile people.

      • Whetherman says:

        I’m reminded of those frequent debates where someone will eventually say, “See? See? X can’t be a fascist, because he doesn’t display this characteristic in the definition of fascism as written by Y…”

        People need to be judged, at least in part, by who they are willing to stand next to, and also, who likes what they’re saying. E.g., Democrats are judged by being softer on communism than Republicans.

        BTW, I believe the term “alt-right” was around before Vox Day thought to write a definition of it. That is not a defense of the alt-right, just wondering who died and left him guru of the movement?

      • Will says:

        What makes you think he is quoting this person? Are you implying that a phrase or thought can only originate with a singe individual in history?
        I don’t know this Lane, and NAZI’s have no attraction to me. I don’t care for socialists of any type. You do know that is what the NAZI’s were, yes?

        • Whetherman says:

          “I don’t care for socialists of any type. You do know that is what the NAZI’s were, yes?”

          I don’t care for authoritarians of any type. If someone wants to be a collectivist (socialist) on their own time, and doesn’t require me to join, I wish them all the best. I may even visit their commune and party with them from time to time.

          But according to the Wiki article on Nazism, “The term ‘National Socialism’ arose out of attempts to create a nationalist redefinition of ‘socialism’, as an alternative to both international socialism and free market capitalism.” Other sources have explained that more simply as, the Nazis adopted the term “socialist” mainly as a PR ploy, to “soften” their image, because socialism was an almost universally popular concept at the time.

          However, they were thoroughly fascist in the economic sense of the word, meaning “the means of production was privately owned, but production and distribution was controlled by The State.” They were such fanatics on preserving private ownership (e.g., by corporate oligarchs) that even Ludwig Von Mises, subsequently a darling of economic conservatives and right-libertarians, was moved to join their Austrian counterpart party.

          So, strictly speaking, no, they were not “socialists” even if they pretended to be. Authoritarian-collectivist-statists, yes, but not “socialists”.

          For an analogy I’m thinking of how perhaps the majority of outfits I know whose names contain some variation of “freedom” or “liberty” are in fact soft-fascist at best. The adoption of sweet names for themselves isn’t required to pass any tests of reality.

          • Will says:

            My reply was to Bor.
            However, you seem to have fallen for the heavy PR against the NAZI’s being known as socialists, by the rest of the world’s socialists, starting during the war. They didn’t like being tarred by association. That’s where the label fascist got put on them, which properly belonged on the Italians.

            “Authoritarian-collectivist-statists”. What the hell do you think socialists are, other than that? Stop trying to differentiate the NAZI’s from the rest of the ***holes out there. There will ALWAYS be a worst-case example out there, in any category. So far, they hold the title for socialism. I’d really prefer that they hold it in perpetuity, but knowing a little bit about humans…

            • Whetherman says:

              “However, you seem to have fallen for the heavy PR against the NAZI’s being known as socialists…

              And I would argue that you in turn have fallen for the heavy PR that, no matter what form evil takes, it by definition must be “socialist”. That is a total, textbook definition of illogic if not anti-logic. It essentially reduces to “socialism is evil, thus everything evil is socialist,” analogous to the logic that “apples are fruit, therefor all fruits are apples.”

              As I found someone stating (approximately) in another, arguably higher-level debate on this subject, “just because you can find a handful of people who have said the Nazis were socialists, and those people could get themselves published, and you choose to believe them, doesn’t make it true.”

              The Nazis were all about the preservation of private property for the right class of people, the oligarchs who prospered from a “partnership between business and government.” At the top level Krupp and IG Farben in Germany loved the Nazis all to pieces, as did Texaco and Standard Oil in the United States. In the same era, socialists were all about State ownership of the means of production, and nationalized industries. They were not the same things at all, other than by your “all authoritarians are socialists” logic.

              Perhaps it is that logic that prevents you from recognizing fascism, even as it is biting us in the ass in the United States?

              • Will says:

                “…socialists were all about State ownership of the means of production, and nationalized industries.”

                That’s communism. The only practical difference between them is who is allowed to own a business. No one up to the outbreak of the war considered them to be anything other than what they labeled themselves.
                The Progressives didn’t care for Hitler’s group. They much preferred the Soviets communism, which they helped start. Still, too many people didn’t see much difference between them, and their mutual agreement in the 30’s reinforced this, apparently. Not liking the thought of being tarred with the same brush, everyone did their best to disguise/re-label what the Germans had become. Unfortunately, changing labels and definitions is a common, long term tactic of the left, and they are good at it.

                • Whetherman says:

                  “That’s communism.”

                  I think the British might take issue if you said they had been “communist” after WWII, but, sigh, what’s in a word?

                • Whetherman says:

                  One more thought, just for historical perspective:

                  The so-called “Fabian Socialists” (e.g., H.G. Wells, Beatrice Webb) were sometimes referred to as the “gas and water socialists” as they advocated bringing about socialism gradually, first nationalizing the comparatively new industries (in the early 20th century) of public water works and gas supply. That was always considered well within the spectrum of “socialism.”

                  I would have to brush up on the detailed history, but I believe many of the things they proposed were implemented first in the Irish Free State, which had just gained limited independence from England in 1921, and the Fabians considered it a likely testing ground for “new ideas.”

                • Whetherman says:

                  It turns out Snopes has a good and very recent article on the subject.

                  But I know, I know; Snopes are commie/pinko/leftist/libtards, so don’t pay attention to anything they have to say, right? Just because it cites history and what people of the era actually said, don’t mean nuthin’…

                  • Will says:

                    Good article??? Not hardly. A mish-mash of cherry-picked statements and contradictions, with an overall target of trying their best to move the NAZI’s as far from the left as possible. Again, PR attempt to keep the left from getting tainted with being associated with the worst of the historical (so far) socialists.

                    I can certainly understand the continuing efforts to re-label them. Suzi soccer homemaker would be horrified if she found out that the historical bogyman of the 20th century was predicated on her cherished political ideology. At least I would hope she was. And THAT possibility is what keeps these sorts of articles showing up on a regular basis.

                    Unfortunately, the Left’s continual thinking that the NEXT attempt to turn the world into a utopia will be successful, never mind all the failures so far, makes me think it might not matter to her. But, they don’t dare take the chance.

                    The sad thing is that a look at human nature shows that it will NEVER work. The big lie that the socialist/communist endevour can change human nature is what drives this, besides the all too human grasp for power over others.

                    • (((((Whetherman))))) says:

                      I’ve been observing the way everything that doesn’t suit someone’s narrative 100 percent becomes labeled as “cherry picked.” Whatever does suit their narrative 100 percent is not.

                      I wonder about that almost as much as why fellow travelers with fascists strain to revise history so evil-doers become defined as being “those other guys,” and never them or their buddies.

                      My usual request: Please point what in the article you dispute is false, or take a sample of something you believe to be over-spun, cite it, and refer us to some other source that refutes their spin.

                      Sometimes the broad consensus regarding history — e.g., that the Nazis were the extreme right — is just right, and deniers are nothing more than revisionists seeking to deny the evil they themselves endorse. In doing so they insult the intelligence and waste the time of the vast majority.

    • Will says:

      Turns out this guy has a video comparing the two types of kayaks. You can pretty much ignore his stated use of them, as it applies to any use that would entail traveling with gear:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLOU97vuo88

  9. Whetherman says:

    …the media deliberately distorts what the alt/right is about. For a definition:

    http://voxday.blogspot.com/2016/08/what-alt-right-is.html

    Too bad I discovered that just before Labor Day. Earlier in the season it would have really helped my corn grow!

    • Whetherman says:

      Vox Day: Just for fun. ;-)

      • Will says:

        Lots of distortion in data in that page. Looks to be a typical SJW slanted perspective. Wikipedia pages about him are impossible to correct, since so many of the Leftists dedicate themselves to altering info about anything or anybody they dislike.

        Due to this problem, he has been a driving force in getting https://infogalactic.com/info/Main_Page up and running, to give the web a data store that has as little distortion of facts as possible.

        I find it telling that nowhere does that page mention that he is an American Indian. That, of course, goes against the SJW anti-white mantra.

        That page talks about the Sci-Fi publication situation. The “Puppies” attempt to bring back non-SJW books. For the past 20+years or so, I have been reading less and less of it, and was wondering what had changed. That used to be my primary focus in the thousands of books I would read. Didn’t realize that the big publishers were gate-guarding, having been taken over by the SJW’s. Amazing to me that they would be so willing to piss away income to force their worldview on the public. I see they are mostly in the process of going out of business. Good riddance. Sad when I see a good author still published by TOR. In that case, I’ll mostly read it at the library.

        I now avoid anything listed as a Hugo contestant, as I can be assured that it has a VERY high likelihood of being junk.

        • Whetherman says:

          “I find it telling that nowhere does that page mention that he is an American Indian. That, of course, goes against the SJW anti-white mantra.”

          Why so? Early in its party history, there were Jewish Nazis. Also, being a “some of my best friends are…” for white supremacist audiences has always been a growth industry, and a job that beats heavy lifting. I imagine many such people come to believe the BS themselves, when they are richly rewarded for espousing it.

        • Whetherman says:

          “Wikipedia pages about him are impossible to correct…

          If I can make a constructive suggestion, why not take the time to list just the things that are factually wrong, with some sources that provide the true facts?

          Distortions are a lot tougher because they imply “spin” which by nature is based on subjectivity. But, setting things straight is always worth the effort, IMO.

          • Will says:

            No. Not going there. Not even Vox himself makes that attempt directly. Like trying to clean the Augean Stables. Way too many feces flingers to bother. When he wants to clarify a point, he writes a book. Or, in this case apparently, fires up a competitor.

            • Whetherman says:

              For me a fundamental point is that the term “alt right” was allegedly coined in 2008 and written about (published) in 2009. So, it had a well-established identity long before Vox Day wrote his definition, and that identity was unmistakably white supremacist/nationalist/whatever. If Vox Day wrote an essay attempting to put lipstick on that pig, and anyone thinks he succeeded, that’s irrelevant because what it was about had been established long before.

              That said, the debate on the “talk” page associated with that Vox Day Wiki article is somewhat enlightening.

              • Will says:

                I find it telling that you appear to equate supremacist with nationalist. That’s fairly common, and sloppy, thinking. Again, I suspect that that is deliberate PR from the leftist side.

                That wiki and talk page are very reminiscent of how the MSM thinks about “news”, and why I quit buying/reading newspapers, and watching tv, back in the early 90’s. I came to the quite logical conclusion that if they were constantly distorting or outright lying about subjects that I was knowledgeable on, then they could not be trusted on subjects I wasn’t. Oddly enough, it turns out that this is not a common concept, and there is even a name for those who can’t make this connection (which I can’t remember).

                You couldn’t be bothered to compare InfoG’s page to the wiki one?

                • Whetherman says:

                  “I find it telling that you appear to equate supremacist with nationalist.”

                  When the “nationalists” seem to find it necessary to identify whiteness as a factor in virtue, and don’t strive to correct or eject open white supremacists who seek to fellow-travel with them DAMN STRAIGHT I DO!

                  Please don’t join with them in insulting my intelligence.

  10. Publius says:

    I wouldn’t limit that figure to half. I’d say it has to be at LEAST 85%.

  11. S.Lynn says:

    Go for a kayak. My friend even got his Hobie set up to use a trolling motor. They’re much more stable than a canoe in my opinion.

  12. Jeremiah Weed says:

    May I respectfully request that we define “alt-right” for the purposes of this discussion? I have seen it defined as 1) Not the GOPe (i.e. the Tea-Party/smaller government folks), 2) pretty much anyone to the right of John McCain, or 3) the Nazis, KKK, etc. (Note that I didn’t say “racist” because, as we all remember, anybody who dared to disagree with our half-black former President was branded as such.)

    There are probably more definitions of “alt-right”, but that’s all I’ve got right now.

    Coming from Bitter’s home state, which Trump took 2:1, we (the state–I can’t vote in the R primary) voted for Cruz in the primary. Most of the Trump supporters I know sided with him because of his repeated blasting of a bloated and ineffectual federal government, not sparing entrenched Republicans (notice any similarities to Cruz?) There’s really noting racist about it.

  13. People are figuring out that another civil war is coming. My handyman just installed a new dishwasher. Retired Green Beret, sniped in Iraq. Just added three new ARs to his several hundred rifle collection and 1500 rounds.

    • Whetherman says:

      So, you expect the outcome to be good? ;-)

      • There are no good outcomes to civil war. Just lots of dead people, many innocents.

        • Whetherman says:

          “There are no good outcomes to civil war.”

          There, we are on the same page for sure.

          But like “war” of any sort, giving ground in the hopes of forestalling it almost always turns out badly, including, only forestalling what proves to have been inevitable. Then the appeasers must fight anyway, while beginning from a position of weakness.

          Our present situation is most threatening in, that there may be boundless opportunities for a “constitutional crisis,” meaning any scenario where one faction will not accept an action or an outcome that they don’t like, but that has been declared by someone (maybe a third party like the SCOTUS) to be constitutional. E.g., there are myriad questions about the powers of Trump as president, e.g., the limits on his pardon power without crossing the line to being limited because the motivations for the pardon(s) are corrupt.

          As just one example, on the American Pastors Network earlier this week, Pastor Sam Rohrer stated that if congress were to impeach Trump for any reason, it would be congress that was starting a civil war, and Christians would have no choice but to fight it.

          Here’s a link to that show.

          • If corrupt motivations were a limit on pardon power, the Marc Rich pardon by Bill Clinton would fit that.

            There might at some point be legitimate reasons to impeach in the future, but right now, there is nothing but sore losers upset that transpecism isn’t the new protected category. I’m transchronic myself. My birth certificate says that I am 60, but today I identify as 40, and insist on life insurance premiums for such.

            • Whetherman says:

              “If corrupt motivations were a limit on pardon power, the Marc Rich pardon by Bill Clinton would fit that.”

              Maybe so, but Bill Clinton isn’t POTUS anymore. Trumpakov is.

              But I only raised that as the first issue off the top of my head. Evey day there appear to be higher probabilities that the entire Trumpakov family and network could be charged as a continuing criminal enterprise under the RICO Act, after which we might finally be able to move along to espionage and the treason that implies.

              The possibilities just seem endless.

              • Brad says:

                Impeachment? RICO? Espionage? Treason?

                As bad as Trump is, that is a the dumbest kind of Left wing fantasy. Usually combined with a fantasy of a military coup de’tat which exiles the entire Republican Party.

                Because in reality if Trump resigns or is removed from office by impeachment or assassination, we get President Pence.

                And honestly? The hysteria has gone up so much that at this rate the greatest threat to Trump is assassination by some nutty Left winger.

                • Whetherman says:

                  “Because in reality if Trump resigns or is removed from office by impeachment or assassination, we get President Pence.”

                  When I was young, a very skilled shotgunner advised me that to make a double, you have to hit one of your targets first.

                  It worked, though in the opposite order, with Spiro Agnew and Richard Nixon. Of course that gave us Ford, but he was a nowhere man who served pretty much as a place-holder.

                  Time will tell; time will tell. You may be proven right.

  14. I quit looking at Twitter and Facebook when I went on vacation last month. I haven’t been back much since. My life has only been improved.

    • Whetherman says:

      “I quit looking at Twitter and Facebook when I went on vacation last month.”

      Why not do what I do, and just not have any “social media” accounts at all?

      I admit that as an old fart, I just don’t “get” the attraction at all; but as a result, I also realize their liabilities.

      • Ian Argent says:

        I’m on social media (FB, in this case; I’ve all but given up on Twitter, mostly because Twitter doesn’t have the humanizing elements of FB) primarily to keep in touch with friends and secondarily to make more. I’ve recently started to make an effort to sanitize my FB feed of “outrageous material,” not all of it from my political opposites. Which means I see more of what I’m interested in seeing from FB, which is my friends and families’ pictures and anecdotes.

        I also stopped contributing to the to politicization of social media. I cut WAY back on posting stuff that’s not personal or entertaining. Relatively more pictures of kids and cats, computer games and card games.I don’t feel the need to rub my political views in other people’s faces these days; at least not without their tacit acceptance (IE, participation in an explicitly political forum).

        • Whetherman says:

          I actually had an FB account for about a year, but took it down when it didn’t do anything for me that I really wanted to do.

          This is a little tongue-in-cheek but, one of my reservations was that I was friended by a lot of distant relatives in Europe who were young girls. And pretty soon I was friended by their friends. I didn’t want to be an Ugly American and reject anyone’s appeal for Friendship.

          At the time there appeared to be a style/fad among young women in the Old Country to use very provocative poses for their FB pictures. It occurred to me that if anyone looked at my FB friends, I’d look like a dirty old man luring young Eastern European girls. So, I didn’t mind avoiding that.

  15. Richard says:

    America isn’t crazy. It is just gone, at least as a single entity. If we try to preserve that it can only end in surrender or civil war. Better that we do peaceful partition.

    • Whetherman says:

      I don’t want to get into the BS about how the war of 1861 – 1865 wasn’t really a “Civil War,” but a failed “War of Southern Independence”, but with that as an example, there was much clearer regional basis for the conflict, that gave it its North-South character.

      While today we can identify “red states” and “blue states” based on election outcomes, the “cultural” divisions within those states and regions is a lot narrower than existed between North and South. (I never verified this, but I once read there were southern states where not one single vote was cast for Lincoln; but maybe they were referring to electoral votes?) So, any attempt at “partition” would itself result in a true civil war, i.e., one based solely on internal conflicts within the regions to be partitioned.

      I am guessing your favor for partition is linked to the assumption that your druthers would prevail in the state you live in; or at worst, that you’d be more than happy to pack up and move to a partitioned region where they did. Other people, on the “losing” side, might not take it so well, or be willing to emigrate or be deported.

      “Democracy” is fundamentally based on the assumption that 50-percent-plus-one of the population could physically/militarily overpower 50-percent-minus-one of the population, so, let’s just avoid the fighting. But clearly, militarily speaking, that has seldom proven very true; often lesser forces defeat greater forces for a variety of reasons. To make up numbers just for discussion, a state or region where 40 percent of the voting population votes/polls “blue”, while 45 percent or more votes “red”, and 15 percent of the population is “uncommitted,” is not likely to accept partitioning into “Red America” happily, and given that “partition” is inherently a “revolutionary” step, active resistance is virtually assured.

      Just for my own thought-guidance, I had (they are all dead now) extended family who lived through the partitioning of Ireland in 1921, which included attempts at “ethnic cleansing” of the side with lesser political representation in the Six Counties. Not only was that tragic for the “cleansed,” it led to the ongoing violent conflict that continued through the 20th century, and still has vestiges today the could reignite at any time.

      • Whetherman says:

        Just because I reminded myself by mentioning Ireland: To the extent that Brexit is analogous to a re-partitioning of the EU, it is having an effect in Ireland, and could conceivably result in the re-unification of the country after almost a century.

        As a result of Brexit, the border between the Six Counties, which are in the UK, and and the Irish Republic to the south, will again become a “hard border,” which it wasn’t while both the UK and the Irish Republic were in the EU. That may be resolved by special dispensations for that border by the EU, but meanwhile, it has already resulted in calls for a referendum on reunification; the Six Counties had voted by a substantial margin against Brexit and to stay in the EU; they are being dragged out of the EU by England. Depending on the outcome of any such referendum, it could conceivably result in the outbreak of fighting again.

        The theme again being, that partitioning is not to be taken lightly; actions taken in 1921 are still causing political problems in 2017.

        We might also next discuss the results of the Middle East being partitioned by England and France after WWI, or the more recent creation of the Palestinian Territory.

  16. Sebastian says:

    It’s like no one knows what socialists are anymore. Socialists advocate for “social ownership” of the means of production. Social ownership is something socialists will argue over, but in any modern implementation it’s come down to state ownership.

    In true communism, there is no state. The Soviet Union was a Marxist-Leninist state, though they claimed to be communist.

    And before anyone jumps on “Oh, the old ‘It’s never been tried’ argument.” I don’t think it actually has been tried, and it shouldn’t be tried, because most utopian philosophies that rely on human nature being something other than what it is will fail, and never achieve their true state because that state is impossible.

    • Whetherman says:

      I don’t know who said it first, but either Marx or Engels wrote that under communism “the state will wither away,” and Lenin wrote it again in 1917.

      But the concept (if not the phraseology) was/is not unique to communism. When I was involved with the Libertarian Party in the 1980s and 1990s, the theory was that perfect capitalism would result in the state ceasing to exist (via evolution) and the idea was embraced by both right wing anarchists (the “anarchist caucus”), and the “minarchists” who thought some vestiges of The State would always remain, but would be so minimal as to be insignificant. This may be a gross oversimplification of what we believed, but to over-generalize, we believed that almost anything the benefited corporations was a “step in the right direction” to The State withering away and utopian individual liberty arriving.

      Back to communism, it may be impossible to say if its “founders” Marx and Engles meant it or not, but we can be pretty sure that Lenin and Trotsky and Stalin were totally full of shit, and only opportunists seeking a State that they would control. But in that way they were no different from the corporatists who used dopey Libertarians like we were to advance their fortunes.

      • Whetherman says:

        “I don’t know who said it first…”

        The phrase “withering away of the state” apparently was coined by Engels; in Part 3, Chapter 2, of Anti-Dühring.

        “The interference of the state power in social relations becomes superfluous in one sphere after another, and then ceases of itself. The government of persons is replaced by the administration of things and the direction of the processes of production. The state is not “abolished”, it withers away.”

        Another related quote from Engels comes from Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State:

        “The society which organizes production anew on the basis of free and equal association of the producers will put the whole state machinery where it will then belong—into the museum of antiquities, next to the spinning wheel and the bronze ax.”

      • Alpheus says:

        One thing I noticed about the difference between anarcho-capitalist/minarchist belief that the State will whither away, and the Marxist/Communist belief, is that the former believe we can do it gradually, with de-regulation, whereas the latter expected a “dictatorship of the proletariat” that would take over everything, and then whither away.

        The reason why the libertarians haven’t made much progress is because people who don’t want power (libertarians, and to a lesser extent, conservatives) have a difficult time seeking power, even if it’s just to cut it back (and to further complicate matters, power corrupts, and it isn’t uncommon for people to claim to be conservatives because it gives them power, or for there to be genuine conservatives because they want to extend power to favor conservative causes, or for genuine libertarian-leaning conservatives to gradually embrace power and just become power-hungry conservatives). Additionally, the American public in general (liberals, conservatives, and even some libertarians fall into this trap) of wanting “Freedom for me but not for thee!” which also makes deregulation difficult.

        On the other hand, the Marxists have failed because there’s something funny about the idea that the “proletariat” can take complete control of everything, and then peacefully relinquish that power over time, until the power goes away completely….

        Of the two ways of never achieving impossible utopia, I frankly like the libertarian approach more….

        • Whetherman says:

          “I frankly like the libertarian approach more….”

          I really don’t think there is any difference between the two; but more important, what their respective useful idiots believe is their approach, makes no difference at all compared to what the people who tell them what to believe, are actually up to.

          But historically, you are right about the communists; the primary nominal difference between them and the left wing anarchists of the era is that the communists claimed the goal of state-withering would be achieved by first creating a “dictatorship of the proletariat,” while the anarchists believed that if you use the tools of The State, you become the State, and thus naturally seek to preserve yourself — i.e., The State. They were of course proven right.

          One of the more interesting people in history was the anarchist Emma Goldman, who was a close fellow-traveler with Lenin and Trotsky and the Bolsheviks of the era; yet was arguably the first such personality to call bullshit on them when she saw what the Soviet Union was turning out to be. By doing so she gave up almost all of her friends and supporters who wanted to Believe the bullshit, and was generally excoriated on the left. It takes rare courage to do that, independent of ideology.

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