Does the notion that a diversity of cultures can actually be more stable than a single common culture seem counter-intuitive? It shouldn’t: it’s actually the basis of the American experiment. Freedom of speech and religion, and the ability to have spaces outside the purview of the government, were created in no small part specifically to avoid the kinds of religious and cultural civil wars that had incessantly wracked Europe – and it worked.
To be sure, there is plenty of violence and bloodshed in America’s history (including the American Revolution and the War of 1812 – which were white Anglophiles fighting other white Anglophiles), but it almost always occurred when the commitment to the fundamental idea that people should be free to live in communities that reflect their own values was abridged, not when it was upheld. The more that commitment to religious and cultural pluralism was upheld, the more America has actually flourished.
Indeed the notion that mono-ethnic and cultural states are actually any more unified and internally peaceful ignores the vast majority of historical evidence: it is only in the aftermath of colonialism and mass migration that we have looked back on those pre-modern states through rose-colored glasses and deemed them peaceful and harmonious. This is historical amnesia – one of the four horsemen of the cultural apocalypse. Continue reading The Apocalypse Cabaret Manifesto – Part 9: Why The West Got Modern In The First Place
Experts as much as imbeciles are wondering how a society as advanced as the modern West could be repeating so many mistakes of the past.
How, after everything we’ve learned about both prosperity and collapse, could we allow this to happen? After so many advances that have lifted many people out of poverty and oppression, after so much education, after so much enlightenment, how could we so willingly fall back towards barbarism?
Or, looked at from another perspective, how could we have allowed the benefits of education, enlightenment, and prosperity, to overlook so many people that they preferred to veto Western modernity than go on living with its advances? Continue reading The Apocalypse Cabaret Manifesto – Part 7: Society and the Human Condition
Okay, let’s recap.
So far we’ve established that:
1. A significant population across the Western world is trying to “veto” Western modernity as it has come to develop, not for a single reason that everyone shares but for a whole grab bag of reasons, their only connection being the fact that so much has changed so quickly that they no longer know how to live in the world we’ve made, and this makes then resentful and afraid. A group of people don’t need a common agenda to exercise a veto, they just need to all say “no.”
2. That far from being a sudden phenomenon, this has been a growing concern across the West since at least the 1990s, and that when it breaks through the surface into mainstream success, it is almost always under the leadership of a figure like Donald Trump – Silvio Berlusconi, Pim Fortuyn, Nigel Farange. Far from being contingent or idiosyncratic, these figures and their behavior are uniquely successful at channeling this “veto power.”
3. That the alarming rise in the most explicitly violent ideologies of this period – neo-Nazism and Islamic Terrorism – has very little to do with the content of these ideologies, and instead is about the image of these ideologies: the fact that calling yourself a “Nazi” or a “Radical Muslim” is one of the very few ways that you can genuinely frighten and offend people in a modern Western society.
Here’s where we put them all together.
Because what’s fascinating about both the kind of political figures that are leading the “veto” movement and the rush of angry young men towards Nazism is the fact that these are events happening all across the West – and yet, wouldn’t you expect the kind of political leadership the disaffected turn to, and the kind of ideologies that attract them, to be determined by the local culture? Continue reading The Apocalypse Cabaret Manifesto – Part 4: This is What Fighting a Hegemony Looks Like
One of the most fascinating things about the two most evocative violent threats to our society today is that neo-Nazis and Islamic terrorists pull from symmetrically identical groups: young, alienated, men.
This has led researchers to conclude that in many cases it’s not the ideologies themselves that are making people violent, but that young men with a propensity for violence are attracted to these ideologies. In fact, the data is overwhelming.
(So much so that it’s actually kind of a misnomer to call “Islamic terrorists” “Islamic” at all. So-called “Islamic terrorists” generally do not attend mosques, isolate themselves from mainstream Islamic communities, and have very little religious education. At that point, calling them “Islamic” is a bit like saying that the creepy guy hanging around campus to attack women is a member of the faculty. He could be, but assuming he is because he likes to assault students is a category error.)
But why these particular ideologies? What’s the mass appeal? Continue reading The Apocalypse Cabaret Manifesto – Part 3: Where Did All These Damn Nazis and Islamic Terrorists Come From All of a Sudden?
The key argument against the idea that Trump is simply a hiccup in history is the realization that he is part of a pattern.
Historical comparisons have been made, of course, but they tend to be made to totalitarian and fascist leaders, which is inaccurate enough to be unhelpful. A far better comparison, and one which has been made far less often, is former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi – who is rich, corrupt, comically ostentatious, and indeed autocratic, but not so much “totalitarian” in the political sense as narcissistic and “mediagenic” in the Reality TV sense, and certainly not a fascist (though he is supported by fascists).
This comparison is far more apt – even the smaller details, like misogynistic sexual indiscretions and tax fraud fit surprisingly well – but insufficient on its own. Its implications are properly understood only when it is bolstered by additional comparisons that are almost never made. Continue reading The Apocalypse Cabaret Manifesto part 2 – The Dating Profile of the Anti-Modern Demagogue