Mar 10

Out of the Frame

Movie ticket receipts in North America dipped by six percent in
2005 to nine billion dollars,
comes today’s report on the status of
the film industry.

The most hyped movie of 2005 was a depressing, pokey flick about
gay sheepherders. The Oscar nominations were otherwise dominated by
one movie that flogged us all for our supposed racism in a wearisomely
familiar way, another that rehashed left-wing grievances against a
minor and ineffective demagogue who’s been dead for pushing fifty
years, and a thriller that made an Islamic suicide bomber out to be
a saint and Americans parasitic villains.

Call me crazy, but I can’t help but think there might be some tenuous
shred of a hint of a connection here…

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Mar 06

If Hollywood Were Really Brave

The Oscar night of 2006 brought us the unedifying spectacle of
George Clooney (whom I must say I truly admire when he shuts his yap
and acts) celebrating Hollywood’s bravery for being willing
to make movies like Brokeback Mountain and Good Night
and Good Luck

Conservative commentators have already pointed out
how hollow and laughable it is to suppose that left-wing political
correctness is in any way ‘brave’ in today’s Hollywood, so I won’t
re-plow that ground. Instead, I’ll propose eight movies I think
Hollywood would make if it were really brave.

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Mar 03

Rethinking Imperialism

One of the effects of the Soviet meme war I’ve been writing about
recently is that to most educated Westerners it is absolutely taboo to
think that Western imperialism might have been a good thing. Since
the end of World War II, even conservatives have generally conceded
this point, as a way not to look reactionary with respect to a class
of controversies that seemed safely dead. Why defend imperialism when
your country no longer has either the desire or the capability to
engage in it?

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Feb 28

How Sweet the Uses of Conspiracy

Glenn Reynolds

When other groups decide that the way to get favorable press is to
use violence, those who have wimped out now will have no one to blame
but themselves. As a reader emailed me a while back, what use is a
free press if it doesn’t believe in free speech?

People talk about Eurabia, but what’s really happened is that
Europe has become Weimarized, with governments and institutions too
morally and intellectually weak to stand up for the principles they
pretend to embody. And we know what that led to last time . . . .

Glenn’s ellipsis points to the same future I’ve foreseen, one in
which true fascism re-emerges as an important ideology in the West.
If that’s the only reservoir of Western will to resist Islamism
remaining, may the gods help us all because we are going to hear
marching jackboots again. And what’s worse, we’re going to learn to
like that sound. To hear salvation in it, because the
alternative of surrender and creeping dhimmitude is worse.

This is why understanding the nature and scope of the Soviets’ meme
war against the West is important — because, whatever native
defects in Western political culture there may be, European elites did
not simply fall into a state of “morally and intellectually weak”.
They were pushed. Manipulated, memetically poisoned, seduced
by the agents of tyranny for more than sixty years.

Humans are a fractious lot, but we’re instinctively wired to
respond to external threats by standing shoulder-to-shoulder.
Exposing the Soviet meme war is more than just an exercise in
recovering the truth of history, it’s a way of re-framing our
intramural political conflicts that may allow us to purge suicidalist
thinking and find a collective backbone again without having to go
through a neo-fascist episode to get there.

I’ll go so far as to say that if no actual conspiracy to drag the
West into intellectual
nihilism and moral paralysis
had existed, it would be necessary at
this point in our history to invent one.

Feb 28

The Meme War Continues

Former Soviet Dissident
Warns For EU Dictatorship.
Sound like a crazy premise? Wait. It gets
better. Vladimir Bukovsky, a leading dissident of the Soviet era whom was
invited to testify at the Russian government’s inquiry into whether the
Soviet Communist Party had been a criminal institution. got to see more
of the KGB’s secret reports to its masters than perhaps anyone else since
the old Soviet Union fell. He says:

In 1992 I had unprecedented access to Politburo and Central
Committee secret documents which have been classified, and still are
even now, for 30 years. These documents show very clearly that the
whole idea of turning the European common market into a federal state
was agreed between the left-wing parties of Europe and Moscow as a
joint project [...] the structures of the European Union were initially
built with the purpose of fitting into the Soviet structure.

That’s right. The European Left cooperated with a Soviet project
to make Europe amenable to totalitarian control from Moscow, and not
way back in the 1950s, either; the key agreements were made around
1985! Read the whole article; I can’t do justice to Bukovsky’s report
in a summary.

To anyone who read my essay on Gramscian Damage and scoffed
at the idea that the western Left operated as instruments of Soviet
ideological subversion intended to wreck the West, wake up! This is
not a phenomenon of the far past. Bukovsky draws a straight line from
Western “political correctness” back to the Soviet meme war.

“[T]hat is one field in which I am an expert,” Bukovsky (who spent twelve
years in Soviet labor camps) says, “I know how Gulags spring up.”

Feb 24

Game Theory and Vote Fraud

Any democracy should aspire to a perfect, fraud-free voting system. But today’s loudest complainers on this issue — mainly Democrats complaining about Republican election victories — should be careful what they wish for, because they might get it.

To see why, let’s apply a little game theory to the problem. Ask yourself under what circumstances vote fraud will be most effective, and have the least risk of being detected.

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Feb 23

Outsourcing breeds more jobs

CNNMoney reports:

Demand for technology workers in the United States continues to grow
in spite of American companies shifting more technology work overseas,
according to a new study.

Sigh. Is there, like, some cosmic law that reporters have to be
poisonously ignorant about economics? Of course outsourcing
stimulates domestic demand. Increases in efficiency and better
exploitation of comparative advantage do that.

Maybe I’m just naive, but shouldn’t a reporter at a business
news channel
know better than to subscribe to the fixed-lump-of-labor

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Feb 23

Against Suicidalism from Down Under

Keith Windschuttle gets it. In The Adversary
he identifies the same suicidalist pathology that
Mark Brittingham and Jeff Goldstein and I have been writing about

Windschuttle, an Australian historian, identifies historians and
cultural-studies types on the academic left as vectors of the
disease. I wonder if he’s read Koch on Willi Munzenberg or Haynes
& Klehr’s Denial and gets how thoroughly these
people were piping to a tune that Stalin’s espionage apparat wrote?

For anyone still tempted to believe blaming the Soviets for the
flakiness of academia is just conspiratorial raving, get a load of this
and this:
it seems that during the Korean War the Soviets and North Koreans
thought anti-U.S. dezinformatsiya so important that they gassed their
own people in order to fabricate evidence for a legend that
U.S. troops had used chemical weapons in Korea. They did this with
the clear intention of damaging U.S. prestige, of breaking our will to
oppose Soviet expansionism by making us doubt and loathe ourselves.
We have statements from the people who planned and executed the

They got the result they were after. Left-wing historians like
Gabriel Kolko dutifully repeated legends of U.S. chemical warfare,
terrorism and atrocities in Korea for forty years afterwards. In fact,
Kolko continued to repeat the chemical-warfare legend even after the
Soviets themselves repudiated it in a published 1953 letter to Mao

Whether Kolko himself (or any other individual leftie) was taking
orders from Moscow or was an ‘honest’ dupe fed the legend by Soviet
propaganda organs is not really very significant. What matters is
that Kolko, and all the the rest of the Marxist intelligentsia who
became cogs in Stalin’s memetic war machine, willingly did their part
to injure ‘the main enemy’. They retailed the lies of a tyrant who
murdered more people than Hitler, and they have not yet been called to
account for it.

Say what you will about conservative historians and conservatives
in general (I can find plenty of nasty things to say of them, and
frequently have); at least they never sunk quite so low as to repeat
totalitarian propaganda after the totalitarians themselves had
disowned it.

Feb 17

Ephemeralization against the bureaucracy

Segway inventor Dean Kamen unveils his next act, and it’s a doozy.
He’s invented two devices to address the power
and clean-water
problems in the Third World — essentially, a
rugged still and a generator that burns cow dung. But the real
challenge to conventional thinking is Kamen’s (rightly) contemptuous
dismissal of conventional development economics, and his plan to
end-run govenments.

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Feb 11

Gramscian damage

Americans have never really understood ideological warfare. Our gut-level assumption is that everybody in the world really wants the same comfortable material success we have. We use “extremist” as a negative epithet. Even the few fanatics and revolutionary idealists we have, whatever their political flavor, expect everybody else to behave like a bourgeois.

We don’t expect ideas to matter — or, when they do, we expect them to matter only because people have been flipped into a vulnerable mode by repression or poverty. Thus all our divagation about the “root causes” of Islamic terrorism, as if the terrorists’ very clear and very ideological account of their own theory and motivations is somehow not to be believed.

By contrast, ideological and memetic warfare has been a favored tactic for all of America’s three great adversaries of the last hundred years — Nazis, Communists, and Islamists. All three put substantial effort into cultivating American proxies to influence U.S. domestic policy and foreign policy in favorable directions. Yes, the Nazis did this, through organizations like the “German-American Bund” that was outlawed when World War II went hot. Today, the Islamists are having some success at manipulating our politics through fairly transparent front organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

But it was the Soviet Union, in its day, that was the master of this game. They made dezinformatsiya (disinformation) a central weapon of their war against “the main adversary”, the U.S. They conducted memetic subversion against the U.S. on many levels at a scale that is only now becoming clear as historians burrow through their archives and ex-KGB officers sell their memoirs.

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Feb 07

Un-ending the Internet

Recently, The Nation ran an article,
The End of the
, that viewed with alarm some efforts
by telephone companies to hack their governing regulations so they can
price-discriminate. Their plans include tiered pricing so a consumer’s
monthly rate could be tied to the amount of bandwidth actually used. They
also want to be able to offer preferred fast access to on-line services
that pay for the privilege — and the flip side of that could
be shutting down services like peer-to-peer networking that big media
companies dislike.

One of my regular visitors. David McCabe, asked me what a libertarian
would do about this. A fair question, representative of a large class
of problems about what you do to constrain monopolies already in place
without resorting to more regulation.

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Feb 04

All she needs is a lab coat and a fright wig

They laughed at me when that bitch Monica rug-burned
her knees in the Oval Office. They laughed at my universal health
care plan. They laughed when I told them of my conversations with
Eleanor Roosevelt’s ghost — they said I was mad.

Mad, am I? I’ll show them mad…soon, I’ll unleash my
mainstream-media minions and deploy my orbital mind-control lasers on
anyone they don’t successfully brainwash for me. Everyone will learn
to rue the day they ever laughed at me. I’ll seize the very White
House itself
and dictate my terms to a trembling world!

Feb 01

How low can they go?

Here’s another one for the file marked “Bush’s opponents are so
deranged that they are good reasons to support him”. At The Corner,
via InstaPundit, Tim Graham has this

Driving in, I had to sample some “progressive talk” on the SOTU [State of the
Union address]. At the Stephanie Miller Show, they were laughing about (and
playing an audio montage of) how many times Bush used the “F-Bomb” last night.
That’s their strange description of the word “freedom.” They also mocked the
mentions of “liberty.”

This is a symptom of how degraded the soi-disant “progressive” wing of
American political culture has become. I don’t like George Bush much, but
as long as his opponents behave like this they make him look like the least
nasty choice.

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe “respectable” liberals and the Democratic
leadership will actually come out against treating the words “freedom” and
“liberty” as obscenities or jokes.

I’m waiting…

(…the sound of crickets chirping…)

Jan 27

Oh, Canada! Oh, delicious!

Stephen Harper, the newly-elected Conservative prime minister of Canada,
is huffing and puffing about Canada asserting its sovereignity over the arctic
waters of the Nortwest Passage. “The United States defends its sovereignty;
the Canadian government will defend our sovereignty,” said Harper at the
end of a news conference, promising to deploy naval icebreakers into the
disputed waters.

The resulting brouhaha is hilarious on so many different levels
it’s hard to know where to start.

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