Slow History

Some say that journalism is the first draft of history. No. Real historical forces take a longer time. I’ve been thinking about a couple of things that are under appreciated because they have taken decades to happen. They are very sudden in historical terms, but they creep by unnoticed by the standards of human life.


The Decline and Fall of the British Empire.

I have never heard that term, but it is precisely accurate for the last century. The greatest empire in world history fell in stages to a home country that is in itself struggling to remain together. The Empire was mortally wounded in the First World War, but it didn’t actually fall apart until after World War Two. Say, 1948 to 2015 for the time to collapse. It went from 2.6e7 square kilometers to 2.4 e5 square kilometers and in 2015 almost fell to1.4 e5 square kilometers. A loss of over 99%.

The Empire had over 4 e8 people. The UK today 6.7 e7 for a loss of 85%. The entire collapse has occurred during the life of the present monarch. Now that is a history class worth creating! One wonders if Elizabeth II is aware, or if she has been too busy to take stock.

An illuminating coïncidence is that the decline of the British Empire is coëval with the rise of motion pictures. We can see movies that show the whole collapse. Never before in history has such a collapse been so well documented.

The Reversal of Money

value of dollar over time

From the invention of coins and touchstones about 700 BC until August 16, 1971 money had one purpose: Money was a stable store of value. As sound as a dollar. Mark is mark. $1 == 1 troy ounce of silver. $20 == 1 troy ounce of gold. [If the obvious fatal flaw there is obvious to you, congratulations. Still, it was good enough until the 1880’s.]

In practice sometimes this was subverted. Governments who subverted this principal did so under extreme duress and suffered for it. The theory was flawed, but it was as well thought out as most things. A dollar was intended to buy as much in 1925 as in 1800.

All this changed August 16, 1971. President Nixon broke the link between gold and the dollar. Since then the Federal Reserve has changed the value of the dollar by changing interest rates. The Federal Reserve tries to keep growth constant and unemployment low. It has singularly failed to do so. Determining the actual value of the dollar is difficult and controversial. One can however achieve a close and historically viable approximation by comparing the price of gold.

Today Gold is $1175/ounce. Silver is $15/ounce. Gold is therefore thirty-four times the price it was in 1971. We have done a poor job of maintaining the dollar.

Now we ask the hard question: How does one preserve wealth? Keeping money backed only by people’s gullibility seems foolish. Land is not portable and is susceptible to confiscation. The laws pertaining to gold are invasive and peculiar.

I have no answer, and that is the reversal of 2,700 years.


The Fabian Ratchets or Political Violence and Pity

Color ratchet Ratchet_example


Most people hate conflict. Some can handle conflict when they can prepare for it and get in the mood. Others are the sort of jerks who relish it. The last is my natural temperament. I am sure you don’t believe me because I act too mild and controlled. You see, I long ago realized that such a way of living was simply stupid. [ Although I sometimes doubt myself.] Such people do have their uses….

When you read the authors who were in France during the Thirties and the Phony War- Anaïs Nin, Henry Miller, even P.G. Wodehouse – you come across a description of political operation that is all too effective. The National Socialists and the Soviet Socialists would conduct street demonstrations. A demonstration doesn’t work it it is easily stopped. So those community organizers would find those who enjoyed conflict and put them in front. This gave their demonstration a hot edge to cut through resistance like a hot knife through butter. It didn’t much matter that the demonstrators had few of these folk. If they were in front, the character of the mass of followers wasn’t apparent. The various groups would be promoted and encouraged by inexpensive means. Mussolini gave his men uniforms of black shirts and words of encouragement. Hitler had brown-shirted uniforms and called them the SA or storm troopers as if they had military prestige.

Of course, things didn’t go well for these bully-boys. The SA was eliminated in the Night of the Long Knives and replaced by the SS. The Blackshirts were integrated into the Italian army where the characteristics they possessed generally precluded advancement. When your leaders think you disposable, sooner or later they will dispose of you.

You may ask, Johnathan, why I mention this eighty-year-old tactic. It does keep coming back, but that is not why. There is a new evolution of the tactic.

Years ago the Fabian socialists decided they could not win a real fight. So, like Fabius fighting Hannibal, they decided just not to lose. They and theirs decided that when the wheel of society turned left – they would do nothing. When it turned right – they would interpose their bodies and spirits. They had no power to turn the wheel, but they could slow it in one direction. They wanted to convert the wheel into a ratchet. [Actually they were pawls. But that is too clever. And Pawlian is an adjective that leads to nothing but confusion.]

The old national socialist street brawlers had to be up for conflict at all times. There are few such people. Fabian Ratchets have only to be up for half of the time. And as it is a long-term effort, only when they are ready. There is always somebody hankering for a fight. Now with the internet a street demonstration looks old-fashioned. A street demonstration is really only needed when one side needs to show that violence is possible. Just the merest implication.

The internet has another advantage: One needn’t be a large violent creature. Words and emotion are the currency. A small woman or an ill paraplegic can be as motivated and vituperative as a looming goon. And often smarter.

It only takes a thousand or so so Fabian Ratchets to direct a twitter storm. These Fabian trolls are a major influence on society.

One can tell Ratchets from committed leftists in an easy way:
Ratchets cannot tell their ultimate goal. They only know the direction to push.
Committed leftists have a goal. And the field is littered with leftists who having achieved their – often laudable – goals have witnessed the front lines move past them. Such people are suddenly attacked by their former allies. Their ostensible friends among the Ratchets then attack them for being reactionary rightists. The committed leftists grow confused and wonder what happened.

Jerry Pournelle in his youth in Dixie was considered a communist because he thought justice should be color-blind and the playing-field level. He has been called fascist for many years because he advocates for color-blind justice and a level playing-field. Current doctrine demands that the playing-field be tilted to provide justice for whichever side is currently aggrieved.

People who in the 1960’s proposed affirmative action for those who were descended from slaves or other minorities persecuted by America find themselves unable to explain why their children should be disadvantaged vis-a-vis Jamacan immigrants to whom they owe no conceivable debt. Or to Mexicans who voluntarily and illegally crossed the border last week.

Orson Scott Card is still a socially liberal Democrat who has been wondering for a couple of years now how he became an enemy of the Left.

Descendants of white abolitionists whose families lost family, blood,  land, and body parts fighting to free slaves and establish racial equality, are now told that, as whites, their opinions are of no value and that they are of less value due to their color.  One surprise of all this is the number of thoughtful people who have found themselves, somehow, on the other side and find themselves with a new set of allies and opponents. They are often disoriented be cause they didn’t change. You will find new friends in the oddest places if you keep an open mind.

So the Ratchets turn the world – very slow and very smoothly. One must admire the strategists of the Fabian society. They were quite clever.

Your Uncle David