Nature and Nature’s God

It seems to me ironic that the last four years of socialist rage were finally met by pandemic. We who work in the field of peace know that it is violence more than anything else that begets more violence, in an escalating wave that becomes a tsunami. I’ve seen it in Venezuela, in Uganda, in Congo and Rwanda and Mali and Pakistan and beyond. These days its as if the earth itself internalized all that negative energy from a disgruntled world and manifested it.

Of course that’s nonsense, the two have nothing to do with each other – except to lay bare that great, sad, unchanging truth: there will be no utopias. Nature will see to that. Because after all the tantrums, it is the natural order which will, in the end, exert itself. More on that in a second. I have found myself these days trying to imagine a path ‘out’. I’m pretty sick of stupidity; I’m pretty annoyed at what Jose Ortega y Gasset calls the ‘mass man’. I don’t want really even to engage with them, much less take orders from them. And orders is all they seem interested in giving. My out: a beach paradise where somebody drops me my cheese with a drone? A mountain hideaway where I can protect my sacred library and read only books that make no reference to the mass man’s stock of commonplaces, prejudices, cigarette-butt-ends of ideas or simply empty words which chance has piled up within their minds…”, where I need not even know about them much less submit them to debate.

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Simultaneous to this quest, I have been proceeding apace with my son’s religious education. Mostly through nightly devotionals, reading the Bible. That greatest of revolutions bequeathed to us by Luther and then popularized through Gutenberg and the most important technological advance in history – printing. We are in Acts of the Apostles, the stories of how the first Twelve fearlessly built the church; the tale of how Christianity went ‘viral’.

And therein, in the lives of the first Christians, are to be found the lessons. “You reap what you sow,” and “give to all those who ask of you,” and of course “do unto others as you would have them do to you.” Then the greatest of all, the beatitudes of Jesus (not in Acts, but Matthew and Luke). “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” The beatitudes were what turned Frederic Nietzsche violently anti-Christian. They didn’t fit with his conception of ‘superman’; from his madness he saw them as the greatest of weaknesses, not – as they really are – the source of all strength. Blessed are the poor; the meek; those who mourn. Blessed are the peacemakers; the merciful and the pure. With their corresponding blessing: The poor will inherit heaven; the mourning will be comforted; the meek will rule; the peacemakers will be the sons of God. The merciful will know mercy – and the pure will see God. Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness sake, they will get everything!! And Luke, because he was a doctor, because he felt the world more through his experience with the sick and the physical realities of a suffering population trying to make it on our hard planet also accompanied his retelling of the blessings with woes (curses, perhaps). Woe to the rich, for you’ve already got your reward; woe to the well fed, for you will hunger. Woe to you who laugh, for you will weep. Woe to you if you are loved by men, because men love charlatans. Ouch!

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness; and who are persecuted because of it. They get it all. But what is righteousness? It comes from morality, from following the laws of nature and nature’s God. Up, down; right, wrong; male, female; positive, negative. Faith and unbelief. Binary mostly, because we live in a binary world – a world of good and evil. We can try to defy these laws; like we can try to defy gravity. But if you jump off a building, you will go splat anyways. Law doesn’t care much if you feel aggrieved by the oppressive nature of gravity as part of the intersectional conspiracy against you, designed to keep you down. And it is here that the godless socialists have a real problem. They certainly love the talk of “blessed are the poor” and “blessed are the hungry.” And they LOVE Luke’s “woes” – a curse upon their lips to damn those against whom their ire is directed. But righteousness, surrendering to the laws of nature and nature’s God for their just rewards? Isn’t God just another oppressor?

Murky water indeed. Last night I was reading the part of Acts where Ananias and Sapphira were struck down by God for lying. Their crime? They held back some of the profits of the sale of their land, which they were giving to the church, and lied about it. But this is not the tax man – it was voluntary. Peter even said as much, “Why did you lie? This was yours to give freely of.” “God,” I told my little boy, “Is a terrible God!” – “Terrible…,” he said, frowning. “But God is good.” “Yes, little man. Not bad-terrible, but terrible like lightning.” But wicked men do not like God in the first place, He’s an inconvenience. Much less a terrible God.

And back to my point, bringing it all together here, sorry. In my quest to ‘escape’ the nasty intercourse with the godless which leaves me feeling a little sullied, I was allowing myself to succumbed to the same temptations of the godless socialists. The idea that my rewards could be found on earth. Because, even if they succeed in pulverizing our cities in their re-distributive violence and seizing what they think is their right (like happened in Venezuela) – even if I succeed in selling a million copies of my novels and retiring to a pristine mountain lake to no longer be forced to entertain their stupidity, we both are headed for the same hard stop. The law of nature’s God – time will catch up to all of us. There are no utopias, neither of violence nor of peace, here upon this world. It is that which Matthew and Luke are telling us. We cannot build places on earth, because even if we do, we might catch a cold and die, or simply perish of old age — but die we will. And that is what the pandemic is reminding us of, it is all ashes and dust and the laws of nature will be followed, whether we like them or not.

So what do we do about it all? We live with our feet firmly planted upon this sad, unequal, violent planet fighting the fights which come our way with Jesus’s purity at the front of our imaginations – and we keep our gaze firmly set over the horizon, to that great utopia of righteousness that will be our reward, but only if we persevere.

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Old Yeller

It’s time we return to that which is good and true. We need to abandon the nonsense, and quick, lest we are swept away into the turbulent waters of politics and victimization and forget that which made us.

Things that are good and true. Think about that. Like, for example, the love of a boy for his dog. I just finished reading “Old Yeller” with my little boy at night. We read at night, first a few chapters of a book (we just finished the LOTR!); and then a few passages of the bible as we digest the day and the things that life threw at us that we need to think about and ‘put to bed’, literally and figuratively. “Old Yeller” is a quintessential American story. About a frontier family, a dad who drives the cows to the great cattle farms of Kansas to sell leaving his adolescent boy in charge of the farm. Work from sunup to sundown, milking and harvesting and hunting to make sure things were ready for the long Texas winter. Accompanied by his old yeller dog.

Until a plague of rabies overtakes the land and he has to put the dog down. My little boy clutched his stuffed animal dog at that part, to then rush down and find our own little old dog asleep on the rug, and he gave her a hug – she growled.

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A love pure and uncomplicated in times of trouble. A sad story, but at the end a story of sacrifice. “A love that is pure,” I told my little boy. “The dog willing to sacrifice his life for his master. Not anonymous sacrifices demanded by mobs which are unnatural, but the perfect closed circle a response to belonging in the best way, the belonging of family.” He understood that, and that I was talking of course about our family. And he slept well and deep, clutching his own stuffed animal dog.

 

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Stalin, the NYT and the Holodomor

Governments are not moral. Organizations of any kind are not moral entities. They exist as a group of like-minded people coming together to advance their vision. Perhaps it’s a company, seeking to provide a service, increase sales and lead to wealth; or maybe a government, the aim of which is always to exercise power over the people trapped within the national geography under their control. Non-profits might exist to fight for the whales or the cultural heritage of Route 66 or to convert more followers to their faith. Those singular aims cloud all other efforts; and the ends always justify the means (even if they pretend they don’t). People, however, can be moral and bring their spirit and values into their positions; they might refuse to follow immoral orders; they might push for policies which are more in line with our better angels; they could follow their hearts in eschewing the fruits of the evil spirit – wickedness, envy, greed, sloth, revenge.

But people are also corruptible, for we seek power, prestige, money, and above all the avoidance of pain and hardship. And as we come together, corruptible and all-powerful in our oppressive organizations, that is when things go really wrong.

Journalism is supposed to help us against all this. Its singular function is to shine a flashlight into the dark corners of the world. “If you’re not writing something that makes somebody angry, you’re not a journalist.” That’s all – no opinions or agendas, just what is going on, pointing out when organizations are doing things they probably shouldn’t. Certainly not to take sides with organizations against other organizations in misguided attempts at social engineering. The problem, of course, is that media organizations are too, after all, also organizations – so I suppose I should not be surprised that media organizations are also not moral entities. They too are at the service of their incentives: power… money… We hear a lot these days about “fake news”, when journalists find safety in amoral organizations to engage in immoral activities. Wickedness, this is called, like when the New York Times decided to carry water for the government of Joseph Stalin by managing a campaign of defamation and falsification to deny that the Holodomor was happening. Actively diverting the ‘flashlight’ away from the between 3.5 and 12 million Ukrainian’s dying of hunger. “There’s nothing to see here.”

“Mr. Jones”, a movie available for streaming on Amazon (I’ve become bored by Netflix and their attempts to socially engineer us as well – an organization with Obama and his culture war at the center of its mission, I should not be surprised…), is about the efforts of Gareth Jones, a young stringer (read self-published journalist) who goes up against Walter Duranty, the New York Times Moscow Bureau Director who is serving as Stalin’s mouthpiece in his propaganda efforts to silence the realities of soviet misrule. First of all, I was shocked that in this day and age this movie was even made. Showing the horrors of Stalin? Of socialism? Showing the New York Times involved in one of the greatest acts of “fake news” in history? That seems like something that might not make it into the light of day in this our “age of agendas”. Perhaps that’s why its not “free” on Netflix. It is, nevertheless, an extraordinary movie; because it is true. Gareth Jones did exist; he did slip into Ukraine to wander through the villages emptied out by famine; he did come into direct contact with cannibalism which was rampant during the dark winter of 1933 as people struggled to live, photographing Stalin’s atrocities; he did write about it; he was defamed and ridiculed by Duranty and the NYT; he was blackballed and eventually, at the age of 30, he was killed in Mongolia in suspicious circumstances – probably by Stalin’s agents. He, quite literally, suffered and died for the truth. Meanwhile Duranty didn’t even have his “Fake News” Pulitzer revoked. Sound about right????

A brief aside, something in the movie which was curious was Polish director Agnieszka Holland’s use of  George Orwell as a “framing device”, reading aloud his writing of “Animal Farm”.  “So are you to say there is no hope?” Orwell asks Jones, as they come together in one fictional scene – a sad moment of truth when Orwell seems to accept that socialism is one great criminal conspiracy foisted upon the weak-minded using ideas like ‘equality’ and ‘utopia’.

There are still communist famines today, brushed over by our days of pestilence. Venezuela, specifically, the latest “socialist” paradise which can’t manage to keep food on the table; the evil regime of first Chavez and now Maduro propped up also by the New York Times, by Michael Moore and Oliver Stone and Sean Penn and Danny Glover, and for the same reasons. Someday, there will even be a movie about Venezuela’s famine (I have written a two-part novel series, you can purchase it below – I wonder if anybody will ever dare to make a movie of my work? Obama’s Netflix surely won’t…) – when it is finally given a name. Holodomor means the “Hunger Plague” in Ukrainian; maybe Venezuela’s famine will be called the ”Maduro Diet”, given to us by the dictator himself “The Maduro diet makes you hard (…) without need for Viagra!” he once said – excuse the vulgarity, just quoting a head of state.

Yes, organizations are amoral entities. They respond to incentives. To this end, please go into your Amazon account and purchase for viewing a copy of Mr. Jones. Remind the world that though the New York Times may be complicit in the murder of millions of Ukrainians, we will honor them anyway by giving them two hours of our time and a $4.99 rental fee. Its the least we can do!!

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“The Revolt of the Masses” – A Must Read

“Today (…) the average man (…) has lost the use of his hearing. Why should he listen if he has within himself all that is necessary? There is no reason now for listening, but rather for judging, pronouncing, deciding. There is no question concerning public life, in which he does not intervene, blind and deaf as he is, imposing is ‘opinions’.”

Joel D. Hirst's Blog

“The Revolt of the Masses” is an extraordinary book about our arriving ordeal and why it has come. Written in 1932, it is as prescient now (perhaps more so) than when it was written; for the arc of history is long, spanning multiple generations, and those who see the deconstruction of civilization from a perch far above and behind should be listened to as one by one the pillars they pointed to fall. In the book Jose Ortega y Gasset dissects in acerbic and often bitter fashion the problem with the modern times and what the arrival of our post-modern “mass men” are doing to governance, culture and finally the civilizations which created them. “Today we are witnessing the triumphs of a hyperdemocracy in which the mass acts directly, outside the law, imposing its aspirations and its desires by means of material pressure. (…) the mass believes that it has…

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Our Changing World

While my little boy plays water-guns, builds Lego sets, learns to type and do extra-math and watches Alvin and the Chipmunks, the world in which he will live is being formed — and in fast forward.

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So far, the attempts to understand it are maudlin at best. These are not the days of great thinkers. Today’s debates are between the technocrats and ‘experts’ on one side juxtaposed against the fiery populists of all stripes on the other. The technocrats begging “Please, oh please just do as I say” against those who respond “Why, why should I? You never did anything for me, and your recipes never saved my hide – only your own!”

But this discussion is unhelpful, and crowds out the real debate we should be having; of how our world is changing, and quickly, and how we should form the future world to make it work for as many people as we can. It is about people, after all. Even environmentalism; for if there were no people on the planet, who cares if it is as rocky and barren as Mars? Yes, we love the little animals – they give us joy. We revel in the green forests and the blue oceans. They were created for us to give care, and we’re doing a terrible job. But without humanity, do they matter? Food for thought.

I’ve been reading as much as I can on what is coming next, what in fact has been coming for a while but we decided to ignore “it” and focus instead on the immediacy of our urges. Most recently I found an article by a certain John Ikenberry from his ‘safe space’ at Stanford “The Next Liberal Order”. He was to a certain extent parroting what Henry Kissinger wrote April, “The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Forever Alter the World Order”, which I read with great enthusiasm until I realized that the recipes given by Kissinger (and now Ikenberry, and so many others) are – “Double down, folks, double down.” We need to reinvest in our ‘globalist world order’ because COVID has proven that threats are transnational.

True enough, however there is a counterpoint, one forgotten by the globalists. That is, the problem we have now is not a result of a world without enough global institutions. It is the final result of those institutions, filtered through the lens of politics. China, specifically: the greatest recipient of global largess – from the Nixon ‘opening’ to the WTO membership and ending in the avalanche of easy money to buy their cheap detritus made in their Uyghur slave-labor camps, bodies overworked until they collapse and then harvested for their organs to go into the global black market for livers of diseased diplomats and lungs of reckless ‘vapers’. China which unleashed upon us through its lies and pride a disease, put on airplanes in Wuhan where the “globalist order” made their cheap crap, about which there can be no pride, and rapidly sent around the world. Meanwhile the west descends into softness, looking for grievances deep into the past as we re-litigate 300 year old sins in an attempt to fill the void in our hearts left by abandoning our fear of a terrible God who is watching in disgust; encouraged by the same global institutions recipients of the Chinese slave money siphoned off to subsidize ‘Confucius Centers’ and used to purchase UN Human Rights (UNHRC) Council seats for the perceived legitimacy of the light blue flag.

And we have become stuck. Go back to fighting over UNHRC seats? Or abandon it all and return to the age of empire as Robert Kaplan writes in “The Return of Marco Polo’s World” – where imperial Persia, Russia, Ottoman Turkey and the Chinese vie for control while Europe watches from the sidelines drinking expensive wine and eating sticky cheese. Those are the options we are presented.

But if we dig deeper, there are more fundamental shifts happening than those on the front pages of the COVID obsessed or for they who still see a Russian behind every bush long after the Cold War ended. It is not going to be disease or war that defines my son’s life (and, even more so, my grandson’s) – but demographics. The world is getting older. The countries in the greatest trouble – Japan, Italy, Russia, South Korea and China. Japan’s population will reduce by half in the next decades; and those that remain will all be ancient. China’s population will also half, albeit more slowly (by 2100). Geriatric care and robot waiters, those are the problems of the 21st century. The exception (in the rich world), perhaps – USA, Australia and Canada and UK – where immigration will continue and, assuming we all can find reasonable governments, our immigration policies will track more closely with Australia’s, seeking out the greatest in the third world to offer them a home in the bosom of the free world. Finger’s crossed. This aging will bring tremendous economic stress. We’ve already seen in miniature – during the great lockdown of 2020 – what happens when global demand dries up. The shocks that reverberate through the system. Our global economic model is based upon the principle of growth… what happens when populations shrink? When they age and downsize? When they no longer make large purchases, but prefer simple time spent in family as they realize that they – too – are mortal and begin to count the cost of what really matters?

And the scary exception to this trend? Africa. Africa, which has never made it; Africa, whose population will go from one billion to four in that same period. Nigeria (where I spent almost four years) goes to a billion – it will have a greater workforce than China in my son’s life. As it is, the carrying capacity of that desiccated land caused one famine – in 2016. Imagine the next famine? Imagine the wars, if as it is those cleptocratic governments steal everything not bolted to the crumbling cement floors of their offices devoid of any maintenance product of collective national pride?

Yes, the world of the future belongs to USA on one end, and Nigeria on the other, with “Sichuan home for elderly men (remember the one-child policy and the corresponding 100,000,000 extra dudes?) somewhere in between, where nobody wants to go even if they were allowed. A massive wall surrounding Elysium outside of which the wars rage.

Of course none of this is fore-ordained; the future is not written by people smart or dumb but by the constant action and reaction of agents of change – violent and benevolent and compassionate and rapacious vying over what interests them. That is what is missed in this COVID world; any understanding that we cannot march in a planned parade resolutely into the past – either the recent past where bloated men sit drinking expensive cognac within silent halls in Geneva ordering the world as if on an ivory playing-board, or even further back with Sultan Mehmed II and his Janissaries breaching the fabled walls of Constantinople. We must go forward, somehow. We should stop and think about how, and where…

A final point, for now, is that our technology adapts quickly to respond to the needs of the world. That, too, I have learned in our terrible 2020. Food delivery services, teleworking, internet ZOOM conferences and dramatic rapid modifications of our health infrastructure. What does not change is human nature – reflected in human politics. That old fight of “left” against “right” – populist both as people become increasingly annoyed at the lectures of the technocrats from spaces safe funded by stolen money. “You should all stay home,” while the economy burns and the hunger rages. “Don’t worry, we’ll send you a check.”

As for me, I’ll keep reading and searching for voices who can synthesize the happenings for the benefit of rational debate. It may be a difficult quest…

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“And Quiet Flows the Don” – Book Review

There is something majestic, timeless and grand about Russian literature. Whether its Tolstoy (Leo, sure but I prefer Alexei), Goncharov, Turgenev – the stories resonate with purpose and the full nature of the human experience. This is perhaps especially true about literature from the Black Sea Basin. The Caucasus, Crimea. The Kuban and of course the Don Rivers. “Quiet Flows the Don” by Mikhail Sholokhov is the story of the Don Cossacks. About a family of farmers, divided by war and violence and their lives in the preservation of the customs and traditions that they so loved, against a Bolshevism which sought to brush it all into the sea.

Its funny, because though a Soviet novel, there is something deeply conservative about this 1600 page epic (my copy is a four volume rare book set, printed in the USSR). The nature of being conservative is that mistrust of activist government and that prime desire to be left to ones own devices. For the Don Cossacks, this played out in their love of their music and their traditions and their faith – and, somehow, even their defense of the tzar. Which led so many to join the “whites” and led ultimately to the tremendous violence.

This is the Cossack story, and we all know about the Cossacks. The cowboys of the great Russian steppes. A martial race if there ever was one, confident in their villages along that great Don River. It is the story of war, but so much of the history of Russia, imperial, revolutionary, and even now is defined by war and conflict – going back as far as the Vikings, and before. Geopolitics is defined by the past more than the future. The Black Sea basin has hosted so much conflict, so much carnage, so much insecurity and injustice that it has produced extraordinary art – painting and literature mostly. Great art stems from great suffering. And the story of the Don Cossacks bleeds with meaning. For those wish to understand modern politics of the Black Sea, they might well begin with picking up a copy of “And Quiet Flows the Don”.

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Remember the Climate Apocalypse?

Remember climate apocalypse? The little girl lectures, scowling in hatred at the leaders of the free world because they refused to do what they were told?

Those days almost seem quaint and comical in the mess that 2020 has become.

And you’d be forgiven if you, like me, are experiencing a certain degree of whiplash. We went from Greta’s adolescent tantrum-based apocalyptic environmentalism to COVID-19’s viral end-of-days to the re-emergence yet again of the Robespierres attempting to convince us that ‘original sin’ exists (which most of us believe) but it is actually a genetic trait, and one that justifies the destruction of public property and theft of random strangers’ hard earned things.

The Gramscians in our midst never cease, we know that – this is not news. Always anxious to seize on a random occurrence or a pandemic to attempt to make their case for more state power, but only if they control the state. Control, that is the only word – to build utopias for the faithless who are so miserable and angry and jealous they can only grasp desperately to that ancient refrain “misery loves company” in the hopes that somehow the violence will be for them a balm, a salve over their aching burned souls filling the emptiness where God should be. Except it never is, and therefore the destruction can never be enough.

If anything, we learned that in history. Most recently in Venezuela, where the felling of a statue of Columbus announced a coming suicide, one that has continued on in a never-ending spiral of violence unto famine.

Dónde está la estatua de Cristóbal Colón que fue juzgada ...

October 12, 2004

I have ordered a new book, if the mail ever arrives. I will review it properly once I have read it, but it seems sufficiently important to comment upon more than once, given its topic (the ‘progressive’ use of environmentalism as a bait and switch) and the fact that when the pandemic is over and electoral-violence-encouraging is over when this election is past (whoever wins), the little Swedish girl will be back bored and energized and with visions of epic climate-lockdowns dancing in her sweet little head. And this book is especially important now because we are entering a new era of state power. The global economy has faltered; our China-based model of “They make our cheap crap with their slave-labor which we buy at Walmart” is has been debunked, probably for good. Debt is the order of the day, piles and piles of bleeding red refuse under which we are all being crushed. Governments are again the major players in our private economies, owning the airlines and ‘strategic industries’ and control a few mega-corporations (Amazon, for example) – setting the stage for a “Road to Serfdom” moment as grand as anything Friedrich Hayek could ever have imagined.

Enter onto the stage Michael Shellenberger and his new book, “Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All”. Again, I have not read the book – I just ordered it and I will give a full review when I have the chance. But I have read with interest his article “On Behalf Of Environmentalists, I Apologize For The Climate Scare”.

Several points are important. The first one is just how far down the logical fallacy trap humanity has gone. Shellenberger feels it important to include in his presentation of the book his own “leftist” credentials, including time spent with the Sandinistas in Nicaragua (not something I’d brag about, I too have spent time in Nicaragua – not with the Sandinistas) as a defense against those who would criticize him for not being leftist enough: or in “logical fallacy” terms an “appeal to authority” to counter the “genetic” fallacies to be hurled against him. But does one fallacy counter the other? Never-mind.

The second point, however, is that he is right. Not in the “logical fallacy” way or in the “he ticks all the right boxes” way in his pedigree and voting record, but it would seem he actually has looked at the data and come to the right conclusions. This is not to say (at least by the appearance of his article, I’ll let you know when I read the book) that he is a climate denier. Instead he has found the discipline to be a true environmentalist, not an armchair warrior looking to steal people’s stuff through “carbon credits” and wealth redistribution efforts to corrupt despots where the dictators get jets and the United Nations bureaucrats overseeing the transfer get expensive vacations and we get nothing. No, a true environmentalist in that he sees that it is deforestation in the third world that is the greatest problem (poverty is the greatest polluter, as Indira Gandhi once said); that while the climate gets hotter (probably because of sunspots) that will lead to a re-greening of the world (if we let it); corollary to this is that the greatest threats to species on this crowded planet is us and our murder of animals; that industrial agriculture is much ‘greener’ and less intrusive on agriculture than the poor farmer in the Chad basin attempting to coax a maize chute out of a barren land beside a desiccated lake; that carbon emissions are coming down in the rich world – and more!!

Now my own “logical fallacy”, an appeal to emotion (though I certainly don’t have the right pedigree to avoid assault – I fought Hugo Chavez at every turn and in every way I could imagine). I’m not an environmental denier either. I have walked through jungles in the Congo eerily absent the cacophony of animal life; the shrieks of the tiny jungle elephants and the screeching of the chimpanzees and the squawk of birds all stilled and silent, having been hunted out and killed to adorn the tables of the poor and the rebels. I have watched the last tree in the Sahara being chopped down for under its precious shade it once gave respite to the jihadis. I too fear the plastics; I too sorrow when my son (my little non-Greta) says he wants to be a marine biologist and I worry there won’t be much left for him to study.

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All this is why Shellenberger’s work is so important; we must get this right!! We cannot afford to lose time on facile answers by the nouveau Marxists who use environment as a bait-and-switch to steal and destroy. I repeat, it’s too important, for if we allow them to control the narrative we will find ourselves, in another several decades, having pulverized our cities and destroyed our industries, eliminating the wealth we need to restore our world – while having done nothing for the little animals.


I am cutting and pasting here the summary of conclusions from Shellenberger’s own article:

  • Humans are not causing a “sixth mass extinction” 
  • The Amazon is not “the lungs of the world”

  • Climate change is not making natural disasters worse

  • Fires have declined 25% around the world since 2003

  • The amount of land we use for meat — humankind’s biggest use of land — has declined by an area nearly as large as Alaska

  • The build-up of wood fuel and more houses near forests, not climate change, explain why there are more, and more dangerous, fires in Australia and California

  • Carbon emissions are declining in most rich nations and have been declining in Britain, Germany, and France since the mid-1970s

  • Netherlands became rich not poor while adapting to life below sea level

  • We produce 25% more food than we need and food surpluses will continue to rise as the world gets hotter

  • Habitat loss and the direct killing of wild animals are bigger threats to species than climate change

  • Wood fuel is far worse for people and wildlife than fossil fuels

  • Preventing future pandemics requires more not less “industrial” agriculture

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Born Defeated

“I want to tell you that you did not win, as you believe, because despite having been born defeated, I still dreamed.”

And with those words I ended my first play. Because there is nothing wrong with being defeated, as long as we dream – to walk free, to live an un-coerced life, to think what we will without fear of those who tell us we should not.

“Dreams of the Defeated” I wrote for political prisoners. Channeling Zamyatin in “We” or Rand in “Ideal”, this is a play about a struggle, perhaps futile, but nevertheless what else can be done? Because the people I’ve known, those who – though defeated – still dream, deserve to have their voices heard.

Incidentally I wrote this play about China. The great tyranny of our age, the people of whose land will be free. Hopefully they won’t squander their freedom, as I fear we have ours…

Finally, for those interested, I sort of took the format for my play from Sleuth with Jude Law and Michael Caine. Not that I think anybody will ever make it into a movie. People who have surrendered their freedoms cannot find it in themselves to ever understand why.

 

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The End Of It All

An unsteady stillness has fallen across the once-hallowed battlefields. The blazing has not stopped, but for the absence of its most-prominent belligerent it might even feel like the glory days of yesteryear when medals were earned and careers made in contests not at all existential for the victors, though not so the vanquished. But not anymore, for we have gone home. Oh not physically, we still have our bases, our outposts and our tremendous presence in the imaginations of men. No, it is in our motive power for positive change where our absence is felt most acutely.

It was the Great War in Europe that finally ended that continent’s ambitions; the old land’s imaginations laid to rest in canals of carnage and trenches of despair. The war after the great war was just an afterthought – through which the leavings of a continental experiment were at last purged away and burned through, displaying a continent spent and adrift, no imagination of itself or its role in a world it was no longer prepared to shape.

These are the days of our exhaustion: I can feel it in the empty political campaigns; in the culture wars become stale of ideas and which resonate only with resentment, envy and rage. We have lost our faith in our democracy, because we have lost our faith in each other. Our once-invigorating legendary intercourse has retreated behind masks real and fake as we recoil in fear of each other, fear of which the virus is only the most recent and bold manifestation. It is not a great suicide we are perpetuating, epic acts of stupidity and destruction in the hunt for the elusive utopias of always. Our utopianism has also come to an end – now we only want retribution for perceived wrongs from perceived offenders in bronze and iron, unable to defend themselves as they stare resolutely into a past that they defined backs bent away from the future in which they have no role. Unforgiven, for they were imperfect – cast aside by today’s imperfect in perpetual victimhood awaiting the imperfect of tomorrow. Except that no statues will be made of these for future generations to tear down; for they inspire no temerity.

Yes, weary are the days in which we live. The hubris, the ephemeral power paid for by plastic and bubbles blown one within the next until they all popped and the reverberations echoed in decreasing power from buildings no longer occupied by moral men. Ours was the generation of bean-counters pretending to be experts, of peddlers of fake loans and of faulty ideas said to be philosophers – slathering contempt atop a prosperity oh-so-brittle to be laid bare by an ancient force not un-awaited but for which we certainly were unprepared, shocking only in that it should not have been so.

In the days of yesteryear I was accustomed to selecting from the unending roll of inquiry like a connoisseur of fine wisdom and arcane knowledge; careful for the malinvestment in the waste of precious column inches down my computer screen, always to be eschewed. The tyranny of technicalities are what they in fact were; of how to order our world, how to empower our titans while defending the defenseless while we advance as the missionaries of old that most-perfect ideal of self-government into dark and distant lands corrupt and violent and harsh.

Now we are seemingly at the end of it all. The ticker-parade of half-truths marching resolutely down our Facebook feeds or Twitter accounts or the online journals which no longer even demand that most ancient of trusts required by ink on paper and the pounding of the ancient machines rumbling beneath monumental buildings, upon which we counted to impart to us knowledge from places far-away and truths hidden – these I find no longer even interesting; experts expounding this or that or the other pubescent opinion in binary fashion while the world burns upon bottomless piles of fiat currency set aflame by a people who no longer accept good faith and credit of the states which have finally abandoned any attempts at consent in the bosom of their sacred covenant to us – “To build a more perfect union”, become instead “to steal more than thee and thine, and to make you pay.”

It should not come as a surprise, for the exhaustion was deep. Just as Britain never recovered her empire after her tremendous victory in the wars, a victory which exposed a model that the people could no longer find it in their imaginations to defend, even upon the shoulders of so great a man as Churchill – how could we be any different? To carry the weight of the world, that was ours for a season, a feat which despite the engendered prosperity of our order only inspired ingratitude, outrage and the bloodletting of a thousand small cuts increasing in ferocity until at last a sickness laid bare the final throes of empire. It is inglorious and uninteresting; a sad draught pounded with the pestle of suffering and mixed with bitterness of unrealized expectations. But so all utopias fall away. And there is nothing wrong with that. For while our technology might improve, human nature, human condition and the human story remain the same and the rise and fall of great civilizations is part of the epic tale of men upon this ancient spinning orb.

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Many Types of Lords

“Joel D. Hirst’s masterpiece is a worthy best-selling novel brimming with poignant lessons about idealism, culture, and religion. It begs us to examine the current state of the world today, a world so divided by different idealisms and misruled by many types of lords. Hirst uses language as flavorful and vibrant as the culture in the Sahara but without giving in to unnecessary theatrics. The result is an extremely satisfying literary experience.”


Riveting from start to finish, Lords of Misrule is a must-read from a master storyteller, Joel D. Hirst.

The BookWalker


Read the whole review here.

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Timbuktu

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