Analysis, Foundationalism, Political Discussion & Analysis, Post-Liberalism
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The Foundationalist Manifesto: The Politics of Future Past

I am here to give you back your future. Like Yeats’s golden bird, I will tell you of what is past, and passing, and to come. Here I offer an exposition of my, and what should be our, political program, both philosophy and movement, Foundationalism.

What is Foundationalism? Foundationalism is a reflection of reality, and through recognizing reality, it aims to maximize the chances of both individual and collective flourishing. It is a way forward, not a way back.

The twelve pillars of Foundationalism, outlined here, are organic to mankind, rather than an artificial means to create a new man or a new type of society—although Foundationalism, when executed, will indeed be a very different type of society from how we live now. And, in truth, Foundationalism is two things: the renewal of society, or the rebuilding anew of a crumbled society, combined with the long-term maintenance of that society.

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Foundationalism does not guarantee happiness. The apocatastasis, the universal reconciliation, is not its concern. It is not an ideology—it does not offer all the answers. What it offers is a positive vision for a maximized future. The goal is to all muddle through together, to achieve as much human flourishing as reasonably possible, buffering the miseries inherent to human life. Foundationalism offers all members of society a chance for meaning, for transcendence, not through utopian ideology, but through rebasing ourselves in the real.

Foundationalism is grounded in what is universally known to be true, or what was once universally known to be true; it does not invent new truths. Thus, it contains a strong bias toward traditional Western knowledge and modes of thought, without calcification of application. The asteroid miner who knows his Aristotle and his Aquinas, and extracts metals to build great works with a picture of Henry the Navigator in his rocket ship—he is a Foundationalist.

The aim of offering an interlocking, coherent program is to inspire men of destiny, to help those of like mind recognize one another, and to allow us to see when our leaders are on the right path. If enough of us make Foundationalism the touchstone of our political action, we will maximize all of our chances for civilizational success. Still, history goes up and down. Good people in charge are followed by bad, and everything is a mix of light and dark. All we can hope for is to have a political system that is based in reality and that encourages virtue among the great and the small, which allows for human flourishing at all levels. Foundationalism is that system.

Foundationalism is the politics of future past; it is a new thing, for a new time, informed by the wisdom of the past. Foundationalism is not restorationism. There is no return; the way is shut. What is instead needed is a new thing, just as the Enlightenment was a new thing, and as the flourishing of Western medieval thought was a new thing. Erase the errors and begin again; Foundationalism ushers in the new dawn.

Why We Need A Drastic Change

I have written extensively elsewhere on what is wrong with the modern world. I will not repeat myself here (although I will in my future book-length exposition of Foundationalism, so that it will be complete in itself), except to say the path we are on leads to a dead end. There is no shame in admitting this sad fact; the only shame is the foolishness of pretending that history is still moving in a direction it is not.

The source of our society’s problems is singular—autonomic liberalism, the philosophy of the Enlightenment, which offers a supremely seductive vision. The dream is false; look around, ye mighty. Yet Western man has tied himself to this millstone, even as it pulls him down to the depths. The dream must end, for it is poison and man cannot flourish until it is broken.

Thus, the iron core of Foundationalism is that it opposes autonomic liberalism, and plans to destroy it as Foundationalism’s first act. Only when the Enlightenment, political philosophy based on false claims of wholesale human emancipation from all unchosen bonds, is both gone and wholly discredited is a new thing possible, for if not, the serpent will whisper his sweet lies in men’s ears forever, keeping them fixed in the dream become nightmare.

Why a wholesale destruction and replacement, rather than incremental corrections, what we are told is the prim and proper conservative solution to problems? Because Foundationalism does not aim to conserve. It is a wholesale rebellion against the powers of the modern world, which realizes that those powers must be shattered, the world must be broken, to clear the way for new growth.

But as I say the demonstration of why this is essential has already been made, and I will not repeat it here. Today therefore answers the what of Foundationalism, not the why—other than to say Foundationalism is a means for mankind to return to the path of flourishing. And that is all the justification we need.

The Twelve Pillars

Foundationalism is a woven thing, weft and warp. It has twelve pillars, key principles on which it is to be built, each one flexible and supporting the others. I discuss each in turn. Because I have written extensively on each of these topics elsewhere, here I offer the summary principles and rationales, and then direct the reader to lengthier earlier writings, that include more extensive treatments of the theme. (Most of these are book reviews, or more accurately, vehicles for my thought masquerading as book reviews.) Thus, I am not repeating here everything I have said before, in the interests of keeping this manifesto of manageable length. However, again, the book-length version of the Foundationalist Manifesto, The Politics of Future Past, will stand completely alone, for those who like that sort of thing.

Nor should the twelve pillars be thought of as necessarily complete. They are guideposts and supports, not the structure of a temple for worship. Times change and new challenges arise; those challenges can be met with the underlying principles of Foundationalism, most of all that reality is.

The First Pillar: Space

For a program designed to build on the lessons of history, Space may seem like an esoteric starting point. But it is not, for in a very real sense Space is the crux of all things for the future of Man, and contains within itself all the seeds of our future flourishing. Insisting on Space as critical to human flourishing reflects an underlying reality about what man needs. Space offers a place for humans, as humans, to achieve and excel, to execute the works of man under the eyes of God. This vision informs Foundationalism, of the quest for Space both as an independent good, and as the engine and fortifier of other, more explicitly political elements of the program.

By conquering Space, I do not mean any very specific accomplishments, which must be determined by circumstances. I mean the rebirth of a mental attitude that views great deeds achieved through daring and a love of excellence, exemplified by modern achievements in Space, as it was exemplified in exploration and conquest during the creation of today’s world by the Christian West, and only by the West, over the past eight hundred years. Ideally, that would include human beings permanently expanding into Space, because that is the most inspirational and the greatest work. But it could also mean any number of other achievements, from greatly expanded robotic probes done for purely scientific purposes, to asteroid mining for economic gain.

Space, like any unifying goal, also has important cultural benefits. Thus, for example, a new optimism driven by Space will encourage people to have more children, and to honor those who do, reversing the most critical technical problem we face today, underpopulation. The quest for Space also will encourage the talented young to direct their talents to productive endeavors, where they will receive honor and prestige, and away from destructive or parasitical activities. Furthermore, it will unify, to some degree, our heterogeneous society—there is neither Jew nor Greek in working together for grand goals. Simply put, Space will help to renew our world.

Necessarily, scientific, industrial, and technological achievement unparalleled in human history will be both a requirement and result of conquering Space. But actions tending to transhumanism or any that denies human dignity, or the laws of God or of nature, will be directly and indirectly suppressed, and pseudo-sciences, including most of what currently passes for so-called social science, will be held in contempt.

Further Reading:

On Space

The Second Pillar: A Mixed Government of Limited Ends and Unlimited Means

The aim of the Foundationalist government is to allow human flourishing—to implement, in the words of C. S. Lewis, “the ordinary happiness of human life.” No form of government is perfect, even in the moment, much less over decades or centuries. And no precise structure of government is always better than every other; what is best depends on the times and circumstances, so the structure of Foundationalist government will inevitably change over time. What the exact structure will be is not ours to say, but of those who rule at that moment.

But for certain Foundationalism will be a mixed government, long known as the only feasible type of stable government. The new government will be a protector of the collective of society in its spiritual aspect; it will represent the nation as it should be, not reflect the general will. It could be Augustan—a limited dictatorship (and almost certainly will be to begin). It could be aristocratic, like Venice in its prime. It will not be democratic, because that system is unnatural and destructive at scale—the People will not directly command any decision, although some limited franchise and some analog to the Roman tribunes of the people is likely to make sense. All elements of society will be represented, but not necessarily participate, and not all elements of society will rule.

Under Foundationalism, there will be execution of the laws, as there must be, but bureaucracy will be sharply limited and will be strictly confined to executive action, having no rulemaking ability. Foundationalism will govern, not administer. General laws will address public interest, not private interests. The impact of the central government on daily life will be massively reduced, since Foundationalism does not believe in the arrow of history or technocratic rule, and does not believe that the central government should dictate local practice. Nonetheless, Foundationalism will directly encourage virtue and discourage vice, and forbid certain especially pernicious negative behaviors and reward, or make a condition of national advancement, certain positive behaviors.

The Foundationalist government can have limited ends—that is, a light touch and light footprint—because it is reality-based. Viewing man as an autonomous individual rejects in principle organic social bonds, but this inevitably leads to tyranny as the only way to manage a multitude of autonomous individuals. By recognizing that man is by nature a social being and can only function well in an actual society of shared customs and beliefs, direct management of society is far less necessary, and thus far less intrusive.

None of this implies that Foundationalism will be a libertarian or minimalist government. In pursuit of its limited ends, it will have unlimited means. The modern administrative state has erased the crucial distinction in the minds of people between an intrusive government and a strong government. Modernists fail to understand that sovereigns were, before the modern era, constrained in a web of custom, which was law. In order for Foundationalism to succeed, this pre-modern understanding of sovereignty is essential. But, properly viewed, the state is not constrained externally; it contains within itself, as an organic outgrowth of a virtuous society, its own constraints.

The Third Pillar: Virtue Politics

The politics of Foundationalism will be the politics of virtue. This means that Foundationalism entirely rejects the Enlightenment. Moral systems based on supposed emancipation, the search for equality, emotivism, and similar grounds will vanish. All mention and memory of John Rawls will be erased.

Foundationalism recognizes, most of all, that the form of government is irrelevant if there is a complete lack of societal virtue, and that while society can tolerate an inevitable lack of virtue among some people and some classes, it cannot tolerate a lack of strong virtue among the ruling class. Without the mos maiorum, the focus on tradition, the web of virtue, that supports good government, the project will fail.

The incoherence of the modern philosophers will be replaced with the older and proven teleological conception of man, as filtered through Christianity. The government will seek to encourage virtue in the populace, but the populace, and in particular the ruling class, is the necessary repository and driver of virtue, if virtue is to permeate a society. The aim will be for society to seek the good, which is already known, though its application to new circumstances and happenings may require discernment.

Virtue will be strengthened with rigorous application of social stigma and taboo, tied in part to religion, but not wholly dependent on religion. No laws will protect any person from the effects of desirable stigmas and taboos; quite the contrary. Emigration will be encouraged by any person who finds this unpleasant. Conversely, honors will be awarded the deserving—those who accomplish and those who hew to the virtues demanded by the Foundationalist society.

Yet Foundationalism will not seek to attain perfect virtue among the populace. The Foundationalist government grasps that, humans being who they are, some limited amount of vice is inevitable, especially among the lower orders of society. The intent will be to dampen and limit vice, through approbation of virtue and stigma of vice, coupled with legal penalties for vice where appropriate. Culture and law will work hand in hand to maximize, not perfect, virtue.

Further Reading:

After Virtue (Alasdair MacIntyre)
Why Liberalism Failed (Patrick Deneen)
Eumeswil (Ernst Jünger)
The Shadow of Vesuvius (Daisy Dunn)
The Revolt of the Masses (José Ortega y Gasset)
Empty Planet (Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson)
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity (James Fitzjames Stephen)
The Forest Passage (Ernst Jünger)
Stubborn Attachments (Tyler Cowen)
Before Church and State (Andrew Willard Jones)

The Fourth Pillar: Sex Role Realism

The family, man, woman, and children, is the bedrock of all human societies. Restoring a realistic understanding of the role of men and women in society is necessary for any society to flourish. The crucial fact about men and women in society is that they are, and must be, partners. That women cannot do everything that men can do, and men cannot do everything women can do, and that even when each can do what the other can do, usually cannot do it as well, does not make one sex subordinate. But without recognizing and honoring this basic fact of different competencies, no society can operate for long.

Foundationalism is explicitly anti-feminist. It regards the feminine as one of the two essentials of humanity. It regards feminism as destructive distortion. A return to traditional sex roles (which were not at all the fictional oppression we are told they were) is both desirable and necessary. The crucial truth is that men drive a society forward, while women bind a society together. So it will always be in any successful society, and any society that attempts to contradict truth will only find its own destruction. Pretending that men and women are interchangeable destroys not only the family but achievement.

Men seek glory, power, and dominance; this is why almost everything great in human history has been achieved by men. What women do is, in some ways, more important, but it will never be as visible. Women do not, unless given advantages, advance in a hierarchy through competition, because the vast majority of women lack the drives necessary. In Western countries, the usual structure for well over a thousand years, until the Left project made the organic relationship a target, has been a partnership between men and women, where each is supreme in one sphere of family life, contained in a larger family web, but consults the other. Women indeed hold up half the sky—but their role, in its nature, is inward-facing, and men’s is outward-facing. In the West, there has never been any equivalent of the “eastern” approach, typified by purdah, the separation and seclusion of women (driven by defective religious or cultural imperatives that are the mirror image of feminism). Nor under Foundationalism will there be—but there will be very different roles for men and women.

Neither men nor women will be allowed to freely choose the path they want. Foundationalism does not seek to implement fantasies of autonomy. Social and legal compulsion will require each to make choices that benefit family and society. Women will not be permitted to choose career over family without significant penalties and disadvantages that hamper progress along such a path. Men will not be permitted to choose not to have a family, or to fail to provide and protect their family, without significant penalties. In other words, society will reflect the natural division of the sexes, regardless of whether some people in society would prefer to make some other choice, whether because of their outrider nature, excessive focus on self, or because of ideology.

No-fault divorce will be banned. Adultery will be socially punished and result in legal debilities. Modern technology that erodes healthy relationships between men and women, from Tinder to online pornography, will be rigorously suppressed.

The goal, across all of society, is to return to a natural partnership between men and women. This is very much not a siloed partnership, where the man and woman each operate completely separately in pursuit of a unified goal. Instead, there is necessarily overlap—a woman advises her husband in his role outside the home, and the husband assists his wife in her roles inside the home, in particular with children, especially with boys as they come of age, but also simple relief of the drudgery that characterizes much household work. But human nature dictates that those spheres and roles be different.

Further Reading:

The Feminine Mystique (Betty Friedan)
Starship Troopers (Robert Heinlein)
The Recovery of Family Life (Scott Yenor)
The Saboteur (Paul Kix)
On Battlefield V
Why We Drive (Matthew B. Crawford)
The Apple and the Arrow (Mary and Conrad Buff)

The Fifth Pillar: The Subordination of Economics to Politics

Foundationalism honors private property as the basis of a free society, and assumes that most free exchanges are to be unfettered by any government intrusion. Foundationalism is not Distributism, but it knows that concentrations of economic power are inherently corrosive and to be prevented by, and if necessary shattered by, direct government action. In no circumstance will a conflict between virtue and the free market be resolved in favor of the latter. In all instances, political choice will dictate the limits of economic choice.

The specifics of our economic system are not a major concern of Foundationalism. Certainly, any economic action based on unreality or on ideology will be rejected, and the fake “work” that currently makes up much of our economy will be eliminated, but whether we need a gold standard, what is to be the fractional banking ratio, and under what circumstances government may be useful to jog economic activity are strictly practical concerns, to be addressed as necessary, not as a matter of abstract principle. Central planning will be regarded with great suspicion, however, as tending not only to not be effective, but, much more important, to grow government and to cause it to interfere in matters not of its concern.

Consumerism will be strongly discouraged, including by the imposition of stiff tariffs on foreign goods contributing to consumerism. Work will be directed to production of goods and services with positive value. Rent-seeking through manipulation of government or corporate structures will be rigorously discouraged through disincentives, including criminal penalties. Existing fortunes gained through rent-seeking, or of anyone who has materially supported destructive or evil causes, will be wholly confiscated by the state.

The Foundationalist state is aware that the achievements that flow from a successful state, especially one with unparalleled scientific achievement, lead to wealth, and that wealth, both itself and when greater wealth appears achievable, frequently undermines virtue. There is no solution for this but a combination of social strictures and the offering of a frontier, so that wealth is directed outward to achievement as much as possible.

Work antithetical to societal flourishing will be forbidden or strongly discouraged. Work in areas of limited value, which currently absorbs a grossly excessive portion of our intellectual energy, including law and financial engineering, will also be sharply curbed. We cannot achieve if our brightest minds waste their talents.

Further Reading:

Glass House (Brian Alexander)
The Curse of Bigness (Tim Wu)
A Humane Economy (Wilhelm Röpke)
The Revolt of the Masses (José Ortega y Gasset)
The Once and Future Worker (Oren Cass)
Shop Class as Soulcraft (Matthew B. Crawford)
Hired (James Bloodworth)
The Unintended Reformation (Brad S. Gregory)
The Market Gardener (Jean-Martin Fortier)
The Beekeeper’s Lament (Hannah Nordhaus)
The Great Leveler (Walter Scheidel)
The Value of Everything (Mariana Mazzucato)
The Betrayal of American Prosperity (Clyde Prestowitz)

The Sixth Pillar: Intermediary Institutions

Given the limited role of government in the Foundationalist state, the implementation of virtue, as well as education in virtue, must occur on the local level, and primarily through rebuilt intermediary institutions, which, beyond virtue, also strengthen the social web. Schools, churches, clubs, unions, and myriad other groups will be directly encouraged, strengthened, and rewarded. Foundationalism will, of necessity, be a high-trust, not a low-trust, society. Differences among people will not, of themselves, be encouraged, rewarded, or valued.

Further Reading:

Craeft (Alexander Langlands)
The Righteous Mind (Jonathan Haidt)
The World Beyond Your Head (Matthew B. Crawford)
On Communitarianism
The Fractured Republic (Yuval Levin)
Dignity (Chris Arnade)
The Moral Basis of a Backward Society (Edward C. Banfield)
Age of Fracture (Daniel Rodgers)
Life at the Bottom (Theodore Dalrymple)
Bowling Alone (Robert Putnam)

The Seventh Pillar: Subsidiarity

Local interests will be looked after by local people; there will be no national laws on the environment, on discrimination, on guns, on education, or on any other of the vast majority of topics federal legislation, and therefore the administrative state, now covers.

Many types of action will not occur at any level of government. All charitable aid will be taken out of the hands of governments, and given to private organizations, who will be tasked with using that aid to reward virtue and punish vice. Yes, this will result in severe restrictions on autonomy for the recipients. That’s a feature, not a bug. But it will also result in the ability for most of the poor to regain their dignity, especially if coupled with other political changes. Government action with respect to the poor will be restricted to assisting the poor to lift themselves out of poverty.

Very large and expensive projects that require national coordination will, however, be executed by the central government; these include substantial investments in grand public works, including both earthbound and in Space. The latter will be implemented both as an economic matter to obtain, potentially, desirable resources and as a social matter, to increase the prestige and glory of the nation, which is a public interest that binds the people together.

Further Reading:


Retrotopia (John Michael Greer)
Life at the Bottom (Theodore Dalrymple)
Before Church and State (Andrew Willard Jones)
On Communitarianism

The Eighth Pillar: Hierarchy and Order

Foundationalism recognizes that in all areas of life, hierarchies are both natural and desirable. In no instance will a hierarchy be seen as undesirable oppression. Foundationalism is a movement with an elite, but not for the elites.

The Foundationalist society will be one of order, but not because it is a police state. Quite the contrary; order will result from a combination of the political structures and the reborn virtue of the populace. If enforcement must be widespread, the society, or at least a part of the society, is failing.

Crimes will be limited to crimes that are malum in se. No malum prohibitum crime will exist, although civil penalties, fines and debilities, will be implemented for violation of what few regulations exist. Capital punishment will be imposed for major crimes and will be swiftly implemented. For non-capital crimes, corporal punishment will be the default, rather than imprisonment.

Further Reading:

12 Rules for Life (Jordan Peterson)
The Revolt of the Masses (José Ortega y Gasset)
The Righteous Mind (Jonathan Haidt)
Going Clear (Lawrence Wright)

The Ninth Pillar: Christian Religion

Foundationalism does not offer an ideology; transcendence is not offered through the state. But every sound society must have an impeller to virtue and to achievement, and a mechanism for transcendence. Religion, though itself an ideology of sorts, can be one of those impellers. Achieving virtue in the people, both the ruling classes and the masses, though especially the former, along with driving accomplishments that will echo down the ages of Man, are among the ends of Foundationalism, and right religion is a key component of both. Only one religion, Christianity, has ever been associated with success in both areas—and it is true, which is a bonus. Therefore, Christianity will be the officially-favored religion of the Foundationalist state, replacing the great heresy of Modernism, our currently officially-favored religion.

The state’s overarching goal in favoring Christianity will be to seek the common good and a realistic amount of virtue and flourishing. The society’s standards of virtue will not emerge from a purely confessional basis, but most of those standards will be derived from Christianity. Christianity will be explicitly preferred, in part, because on average Christian belief leads to the best outcomes for the state and society. For example, teachers in any state-supported lower school or high school will be required to be practicing Christians (just as now they are effectively required to be practitioners of globohomo), and Christians will, all else being equal, receive state preferment, as well as, no doubt, preferment in the private sphere, from jobs to social status. Personal advancement in the state and society would thus certainly benefit from conversion to Christianity. It might be objected that the result will often be Christians in name only, but that’s fine—the goal is to weld together a society, and most of all a ruling class, and while there will always be variability of belief, over time a strongly dominant religion will do the welding, and that welding will lead to an increase in devout belief, in a virtuous circle.

But the Foundationalist state is not a policer of the practice of belief. Rather, it will encourage and incentivize moral behavior, with punishments when necessary, not of disbelief, but of actions that corrupt virtue. Thus, it will forbid most divorce, not because it is a sin, but because it destroys society. It will frown on adultery and homosexual acts, and disincentivize both, but not criminalize either. It will punish graft, theft, and sharp practice; the unfettered free market will no longer be thought of as some special good or moral in itself. Gambling will be mostly illegal; there will be no lotteries. The state will corral and curb prostitution; it will flog pornographers; and it will execute abortionists and other murderers. And so forth, in organic development that will depend on what can be accomplished at any given point while maintaining a proper balance of cost and benefits.

At the same time, freedom of religious exercise for all will be allowed to the extent not actually in contradiction with virtue. Thus, any non-pernicious religion, any religion that is not a proxy or bridgehead of external enemies of state or society, will be permitted freedom of worship, without any attempt to make worship difficult (such as Islam has always imposed on Christianity in the lands it has temporarily conquered). Paganism and polytheism will be allowed, and even preferred to the extent that virtue is their focus. Naturally, wholly pernicious belief systems, such as Satanism, will be directly suppressed. Open atheism will be strongly discouraged and socially anathema.

Further Reading:

Before Church and State (Andrew Willard Jones)
Going Clear (Lawrence Wright)
Kingdoms of Faith (Brian Catlos)
Frederick the Second (Ernst Kantorowicz)
From Fire, by Water (Sohrab Ahmari)
The 21 (Martin Mosebach)

The Tenth Pillar: High Culture

A superior society cannot exist without an excellent high culture. High culture strengthens the moral fiber of the ruling class; it also has a crucial political role in binding all levels of society together. The goal of art under Foundationalism will be a form of emotional resonance, where all sectors and levels of society feel they have something in common that ties them together and which impels to virtue. In Foundationalism, art will not be a set of rigid beliefs, an aesthetic canon for the elite, as is the “art” of Modernism; it will instead, like governance, be an organic new thing based on the wisdom of the past, intertwined with all the people, high and low.

True, an excessive attachment to high culture can lead to exaltation of luxury and thence to decadence, but that is a management problem. No society can long exist, much less be a strong society, without a unifying component of the spiritual, in a broader sense than simply religious, that offers the society a heroic narrative. High art of all types (in particular architecture, something to be seen and honored by all), provides that unifying component.

The upper orders will be expected to exuberantly patronize high art, keeping in mind Aristotle’s thoughts on magnanimity. Artists will work in cooperation with the pillars of society, state and private, rather than being destructive agents of the Left as they mostly have been for the past century.

High architecture in particular, that of grand buildings, is a bridge between God and man, and a sinew binding state and people, the ruling class and the masses. Low architecture, that of daily living and daily use, is key to satisfaction in the life of a populace. Thus, a coherent and uplifting architecture, high and low, is, and has always been, necessary for any successful society. It is frozen music. Design great architecture and you build a key component in binding a society together, through its role in offering a common art and through that, a common culture.

Art and architecture will be classical, in the sense that classical traditions, in that classical traditions can express any meaning desired, in a variety of languages, and offer beauty and continuity, along with enough originality to prevent seeming calcified. Foundationalism has no need to create anything that is new, though some organically developing novelty is to be expected.

Further Reading:

The New Philistines (Sohrab Ahmari)
Making Dystopia (James Stevens Curl)
Three New Deals (Wolfgang Schivelbusch)
The Fiery Angel (Michael Walsh)

The Eleventh Pillar: Techno-Optimism

Foundationalism does not idolize agrarianism. The rural life and culture has its place, and nature and its forms influence good architecture, but high culture, and the drive to create a successful society, always revolves around cities, and therefore technology. Foundationalism strives to offer a goal for, and outlet for, and inspiration for, human aspiration, and rural life cannot build spaceports (aside from today not occupying the daily life of any significant percentage of the population). Technological striving will be demanded and therefore honored.

At the same time, Foundationalism rejects the delusional belief in technology as deus ex machina. The Singularity will never arrive; nor will strong artificial intelligence. Such ideas are distractions, eschatological fantasies, that harm human flourishing.

A possible objection is that technology is inherently anti-human, tending to atomize society and family, destroying the unchosen bonds and intermediary institutions that bind any competent society. This is accurate up to a point, but the answer is not to pretend that we can all live in the Shire, or achieve a stable post-technological society. The answer is to make man the master of technology, not technology the master of man, and to deprecate technology that delivers autonomic individualism. We choose atomization; it is not forced on us. When technology appeals to the worse angels of our nature, societal strictures are the solution, not pretending we can return the genie to the bottle.

Further Reading:

The Wizard and the Prophet (Charles C. Mann)
Empires of the Sky (Alexander Rose)
The War on Normal People (Andrew Yang)
Apocalypse Never (Michael Shellenberger)
American Genesis (Thomas P. Hughes
Neuromancer (William Gibson)
Craeft (Alexander Langlands)
Retrotopia (John Michael Greer)
Enlightenment Now (Steven Pinker)

The Twelfth Pillar: Nationalism, Not Globalism

Foundationalism is a system for the West; it is unlikely to work as well for any other society, although certainly elements of it could benefit all civilizations. Its specific focus is America, or the lands where America now is, give or take. Within that area, Foundationalism will be the spine of the nation, and that nation will stand apart from other nations, with no interests in other nations beyond trade in useful articles and a decent mutual respect for each other’s interests, combined with willingness to defend those interests if threatened. Immigration will only be permitted in extremely limited amounts, and only of culturally-compatible individuals with specific worthwhile skills. All illegal immigrants and legal immigrants of the past several decades not culturally compatible will be deported to their countries of origin.

In foreign policy the only relevant criterion will be the ends of the nation (although since Foundationalism will explicitly prefer Christianity, the interests of Christians as Christians outside the country, and to some extent also of Jews, will be considered an interest of the nation). The Foundationalist state will implement an aggressive industrial policy tailored to benefit the populace, meaning workers, not a parasitic elite. In short, globalism in its current meaning will be despised and treated with contempt. Dual citizenship will not be permitted. Any citizen who views himself as a global citizen, not a citizen of the nation, will be made to leave while his assets stay behind.

Further Reading:

Return of the Strong Gods (R. R. Reno)
The Revolt of the Masses (José Ortega y Gasset)

The Path

How is Foundationalism to be accomplished? Not easily, and not without the world first being broken and then remade. The first requirement is smashing and irretrievably discrediting our current system, that is, the cultural and political dominance of the Left, the poison of the modern age. This, when done, will destroy forever the philosophical dominance of autonomic individualism. When that is successfully accomplished, the ground will be cleared for Foundationalism. If that is not successfully accomplished, there is no point in talking about a worthwhile future for human flourishing. The future will instead be a sickly random walk into the distant future, and perhaps be no future at all, if man extinguishes himself.

Achieving Foundationalism will inevitably occur, in part, by first passing through chaos and violence. Through the chaos, there will be steps forward and steps backward, but if our leaders are bold men informed by Foundationalism, more steps will be made forward than backward. But if Foundationalism is truly a system based in reality, it will succeed in its goals.

Success breeds success, resulting in that public opinion will, to the extent not already turned to Foundationalism, decisively turn in that direction. While Foundationalism does not take its direction from public opinion, it realizes that a society must, to a large extent, reflect public opinion, and that in a modern technological society, opinion will always be widely and quickly formed. The system, therefore, while led from above, must also grow organically from below, and become a living thing, strong and flexible, able to face the future with confidence, audacity, and determination. This is the way.


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70 Comments

  1. vxxc says

    Agree with all.

    Needs an Army.

    The opportunity at present- and only present- being that THEY don’t really have one. Not really. They have people “present” , those people will never agree to do what THEY need done or want done here. I daresay should THEY engage in any foreign adventures THEY may find the necessary commitment lacking. There are consequences to undoing the Republic that was sworn to but no longer exists, of course that’s not manifest because there has been no test. Although perhaps DOD not taking the call on January 6 is illuminating, to the extent possible to illuminate such things.

    Of course its not possible to know until there’s a real test.

    We shall see you.

    • vxxc says

      Correction- we shall see.

      Not we shall see you<

      Please consider adding Butlerian Jihad against autocorrect as pillar 11.1.

      I’m all about tech, but Autocorrect must perish.

      • Charles Haywood says

        Butlerian Jihad coming up! But seriously, Dune is a classic example of a realistic taboo system that restricts certain actions across a civilization. Maybe unrealistic on that scale, but still, taboo and stigma are core features of any competent society, something we have forgotten to our cost.

    • Charles Haywood says

      I suspect you disagree, but history shows that wholly newly-organized military forces can be made to coalesce very quickly where none were before, given two essential raw materials: troops and leaders. That’s it.

      • Vxxc says

        I would love to agree.
        You are not mentioning money aka logistics,
        that is the sinews of war.

        Your Troops+Leaders is certainly better than nothing. Nothing is what exists. Nothing is what we are doing, for we have nothing in their way.

        Organization is what is missing, if it existed they would come.

        May I recommend again Crucible of War; The 7 years war and the fate of the American Colonies by Fred Anderson.
        The American Revolution took decades to build, or years if you like in the French and Indian War but the Colonial governments gained years of experience in raising and paying, recruiting, training, supplying and leading armies. The Political movement followed after Crown missteps, many missteps. It certainly did not just happen.

      • Vxxv says

        Mr. Haywood I want you to succeed, but I must help by being candid- remember this is life or death, perhaps yours-the man of destiny must Synthesize the following: People (Troops), organization, money, and power or a path to power.

        Not ideas. People, organization, money and a path to Power.

        You mentioned Troops and Leaders; as it happens there are millions of American trained veterans as well as those serving who shall we say find they now have no legitimate leaders, nor sane, faithful ones.
        Perhaps Constitutional “Ronin” is not too strong a term although the Dishonor came from above.*. This is an unsettled and probably transitory state of affairs. By no means can it be called “good.”

        *myself for instance

        However these are all practical men and the more experienced they are the harder they scrutinize answers to the questions above.
        Remember too they’re quite justly suspicious, and many are alive because of this “cynicism” about men.

        Nor would I count on Chaos to deliver us.
        A real world example; The Assad clan is the best thing to happen to Syria in a long, long time. They ended and indeed the son has weathered his people through Chaos.
        Think of a world where the Assad regime is your best hope.

        The Synthesis we need is men, organization, money and a path to power.

        Good luck

  2. Todd says

    This is fantastic stuff. I love right-wing visions for the future, rather than merely reactionary polemics against the Left. We’ve had enough of the latter; now’s the time to chart a new course for the future, away from Leftism and Modernity.

    We can we expect your book on Foundationalism? I can’t wait to read it.

    • Charles Haywood says

      Well, it turns out the People are, in fact, very interested, and the book exists in part, so I will begin diligent work on it!

  3. william wansley says

    One of the best things I’ve read in a while for a hope bordering on fantasy. Four points:

    1) Christianity will need to have its own foundational rebirth to present a more unified doctrine yet avoid the concentrations of hierarchy that lead to abuse.

    2) Cities are inherently given to a wicked mass-psychosis that must be circumvented such that the city, perhaps numbering in the many thousands, be a small epicenter of a larger grid that gradually blends into the countryside. No gargantuan metropolises of skyscrapers. I do so look forward to your vision of a destruction of ugliness in culture, language and art – especially in restoration of architecture as frozen classical music.

    New off-grid energy technologies will open up the now vast wastelands of arid Western states for new and non-congesting settlements and high bandwidth will facilitate the move away from dense concentrations of people and these more autonomous regions will make for a less fragile supply-chain network.

    Maximum freedom of movement with small, beautiful trains will replace much traffic congestion but not like the mass transit herding the enviro-collectivists envision. The “city” of New Jerusalem is the only exception yet it is to be a city only in name not function for in it are many mansions.

    3) Defense is a necessary evil to prevent the envious hordes from attacking, yet defense-only is to allow the enemy free reign to build up a surrounding and formidable threat. How this is to be done is problematic. At best we are to be the bright shining city on a hill leading by example while the world also struggles with the collapse of the current global system.

    While the failed system’s Phoenix smolders in ashes, the dark forces of Muslimism and Chinese communism will be free to dominate and prevent this envisioned rebirth. While we may not be too interested in these more resilient and barbaric governments and their respective systems, they will be interested in us.

    While you do address this, the recent mass-migration efforts of the globalists will result in ethnicities of failed cultures both here and abroad seeking to reek havoc in pursuit of their belief in a zero-sum game.

    At least we can look forward to the destruction of the credibility and ambitions of the NWO globalist elites of Scientism, Davos, Brussels, Silicon Valley, D.C., and the U.N. (they are all mad and governed by the same dark spirits) as well as their long march through the institutions of governmental bodies, education, media, academia, religion, endowments, entertainment, corporate boardrooms, and sports.

    4) We battle not against flesh and blood but against dark forces and principalities. How all this is done short of global existential catastrophe sounds like post-Millennial Adventism.

    Further Reading:
    The Book of Revelation

    • william wansley says

      Forgot to add this:

      5) Agriculture has great room for reformation. Monoculture crops and CAFO to be replaced entirely along with a great reeducation in health and dietary paradigms that now lead to chronic disease and the Big Pharma industrial complex and the processed food industrial complex.  Several books show how this can be done to naturally reclaim deserts and feed the world with quality, nutrient dense foods.  There is so much to say here that can be fleshed out in your book which I am so looking forward to reading. 

    • Charles Haywood says

      These are all reasonable points. No doubt, this is why a book-length treatment will be useful!

    • Imperator says

      A small point I’d advise against: cities “gradually blending into the countryside.” That’s the modern model. All traditional cities have been clearly marked by some sort of border, usually a wall, that clearly separates the urban from the rural. This suburban business is a modernist devil.

      You hit the nail on the head with small and beautiful trains replacing expansive freeways. This is a must, I think.

  4. George says

    Sketchy but interesting. A gigantic vision and even larger task to materialize. Haywood leaves out the “how” except to mention in passing a period of chaos and violence. But that period may never end, unless the 7 billion or so alive now is reduced to a tenth or hundredth of that number. That makes Foundationalism a somewhat new and somewhat novel utopian vision achievable only atop a mountain of corpses. Therefore a decidedly non Christian dream. I doubt Augustine or Lewis would approve. But I will buy the book.. or at least read the better reviews.

    • Charles Haywood says

      We will see. Chaos is inevitable; it is the cycle of history. Chaos leads to death; it cannot do otherwise. As with many other matters that are not truly resolvable, we are left with a management issue.

      But there is no need for permanent global chaos. Getting rid of the Enlightenment, along with some harsh actions (e.g., expelling all recent foreign invaders from the European continent), would result in a much stronger West. Add some nation-state blocs from other cultures (Russian; Indian; Chinese), along with some areas of the world unlikely to add much but potentially manageable (Arab countries; Africa), and a perfectly stable-enough global system, shorn of the instabilities caused by globohomo and the American empire, is perfectly feasible.

  5. Chris says

    It feels like reading the start of that passage in a sci fi novel set in the 23rd century where the author gives you a lightening quick précis of the intervening years.

  6. Dean Ericson says

    Oh boy, what a fat, juicy steak. Ambitious. I like that. But what to do about the crooked timber of man? We have a devil in us, and that devil whispers sweet nothings that sends us off chasing idiot destruction. We could do all this good stuff if only we could neutralize that hissy snake. Don’t mean to be a naysayer, I like the jist of your jib, and certainly we have the power to suppress vice and encourage virtue, but we need to have a shared vision of man, his nature, our place in the world, and of the Creator who made it all. In short, a shared religion. God is above us, and we must follow His law, or it’s every man for himself, as we have now, and the devil take it all. So which God, and which religion?

    Too big a topic for a combox. Me, I’ve come back to Christ. If you’ve addressed this somewhere, Charles, you might point me to it. Always a pleasure stopping in at the Worthy House. The cooking here is top-notch.

  7. John Tucker says

    I would note only that nationhood would require a return to the kind of nation building envisioned by Thomas Jefferson and carried thru as Manifest Destiny and culminating with the interstate highway system. Since the 1990s development of the American interior has fallen out of favor, and too many resources have been siphoned off to support the higher education bureaucracy. We need a national program that supports depopulation of the cities and promotes more settlement in the vast interior. Relocating federal agencies out of DC would help.

    • vxxc says

      No, please remain in the Cities, bother each other, leave us alone.

    • Charles Haywood says

      True. But we are going to end all federal agencies, and those who worked there will have to move out of DC to eat, so no problem there!

  8. Chris says

    When the Kessler effect closes off outer space and the unavailability of asteroid minerals closes off advanced technology, charcoal-powered farming will sooner or later be peak civilisation. We are all looking up at the stars, but some of us are resigned to live in the gutter.

    • Charles Haywood says

      The Kessler Effect may or may not exist or be a problem. But any society that can explore Space (which necessarily means finding a source of cheap, renewable energy), will be able to ameliorate it, were it to occur. I do not think charcoal is in our future.

      • vxxc says

        I look forward to the day when the Kessler effect is the biggest drag on humanity.

        Frankly if we hadn’t stopped to try and reform humanity only to corrupt and rob it, it would indeed haunt our present councils.

  9. Dean Ericson says

    ”The Ninth Pillar: Christian Religion”

    Whoops. I was shooting my fingers off without reading the whole thing. Sorry, Charles.

    Mr. Haywood wrote: ”… Foundationalism will explicitly prefer Christianity, the interests of Christians as Christians outside the country, and to some extent also of Jews, will be considered an interest of the nation).”

    “… Foundationalism will explicitly prefer Christianity“

    Again, sorry, I had missed that. But the Jews explicitly reject Christ, and their propensity and talents for revolution are a serious problem. On a related note, I’m reading EMJ’s, “Barren Metal: A History of Capitalism as the Conflict Between Usury and Labor”. Highly recommended. You’ve an excellent and succinct overview of Foundationalist economics in your, “The Fifth Pillar: The Subordination of Economics to Politics”. I had not been aware of the destructive power of state sponsored usury until EMJ made it clear that this is a major financial vector for revolution, and not just for Jews but for revolutionary-minded Christians as well. “Revolutionary-minded Christian” should be an oxymoron, but there it is. Cheers.

    • Charles Haywood says

      Glad you found it! As I’ve said before, there is no “Jewish Question,” and I am quite philo-Jewish (especially as regards administering the Middle East, unless the Russians step up), but there is no doubt that Jews are, always, both a plus and a minus for any society (and it is to their credit they have maintained a cohesion that makes that possible).

  10. Atticus says

    I would be interested in reading the book length version of this. We need a clearer “how” though. It always comes down to force. Who controls the guns? How do we accomplish this without leaving ourselves open to complete domination by foreign powers? Still, it’s an inspiring manifesto, looking forward to seeing more in this vein.

    • Ethan says

      Agree with Atticus. I am however looking forward to a whole book explaining the Foundationalist project. Perhaps there we’ll receive more details on the “how.” I’m looking to forward to an action plan!

    • Charles Haywood says

      You’ll get more how, although one can never say with great accuracy. But a fleshed-out how . . .

  11. Dean Ericson says

    “I say, Holmes, it’s quite extraordinary your claiming the Enlightenment is a dead end. How can you say such a thing.”

    It’s Foundational, my dear Watson; all things based in unreality are unfit and soon meet their inevitable doom, taking a long walk, as it were, on a rather short pier. The plunge at the end is most unkind.”

    “Quite so, Holmes, and yet plungers often manage to swim to shore and resume their pier walks.”

    “Not if we destroy the piers, Watson. Now listen here, old fellow, there’s going to be some plunging coming up, and I don’t mean for you and I and ours to sink. I have here plans for an Ark, based on the ancient models but employing modern materials, that will serve to keep us afloat, and not sink in the drink. Take them to your nephew, the shipbuilder, and have him commence at once as there’s not a moment to lose.”

    “Yes sir, jolly good, he’s a stout-hearted fellow and will not disappoint.”

    “See that he doesn’t, Watson — the game’s afoot, and we do not intend to lose.”

  12. stoecktecrime123 says

    Listened to this yesterday and it really got me thinking about a lot because of the different way a lot of things would work if this cultural construct would be implemented. I just want to recommend another book which could further solidify your reality-focused approach; it is called “The Weirdest People In The World” by Joseph Heinrich. I think a lot of stuff in it might be really helpful to flesh out the interplay between foundationalism as a cultural package with our genetically evolved tendencies.

    Greetings,
    Luca D.

    • Charles Haywood says

      I will check it out. No doubt, the Haidt-identified WEIRD phenomenon is very relevant.

  13. Andrew C says

    I do wonder how quickly a non-representational, executive-dominated government of ‘unlimited means’ – one with a clear vision of the human telos and specific designs on the behaviour of its citizens – would begin to erode the notion of ‘limited ends’ once it inevitably clashes with the principle of subsidiarity.
    I’d give it a year tops.

    • Charles Haywood says

      Maybe. Tied to this is the temptation to use the modern surveillance state to accomplish any ends. Governments don’t like to give up tools. But I’m not sure that limited ends necessarily clashes with subsidiarity.

  14. Stubb Bulkington says

    Thanks for this, Charles. When I try to take on new ideas, I tend to do best with a structured overview fleshed out with subroutines, of the sort on offer in this post. And when I read things on this site I am indeed “try[ing] to take on new ideas,” as foundationalist view seems orthogonal to what I’m accustomed to — I have, or had, vaguely center-left-libertarian views, but lately these seem to be changing to . . . I don’t know. So this site is stimulating.

    One question and one point:

    1) In response to a comment, you wrote that “taboo and stigma are core features of any competent society, something we have forgotten to our cost.” Can you suggest reading on this theme? Lately I’ve been thinking that something like this is true; I want to dig deeper. (I know one possible answer is “anything on civilizational decay, you dope!” but can I get something more focused?)

    2) Unless I miscounted, the book that appears most often under the “Further Reading” heading is _The Revolt of the Masses_. I just wanted to point that out. The fact interests me.

    • Charles Haywood says

      Glad to hear it! Huh, good question on reading on stigma and taboo. In a sense, it’s obvious; I’m not sure anyone has written on it specifically. Anything modern is about the opposite, of course–either lies like Margaret Mead to show that stigma is not a part of every human society, or propaganda designed to attack and eliminate stigma. Even someone like Jordan Peterson, who no doubt agrees, I don’t think explicitly calls for the return of taboo and stigma, it being an unpopular message. The messenger is likely to end up like the prophet Jeremiah. So no, I don’t have a more focused writing in mind.

      Yes, I noticed that about Ortega too. Probably because he has a great deal to say about modern society!

  15. gurkha says

    Great, Great ,Great discussion…Thank you…My suggestions:
    1. Term limits and age limits (mandatory retirement say age 70 ) for everyone in the govt including the SCOTUS… Remember Fauci is 80 yrs old…Ruth Bader Ginsburg was 95 ..ridiculous
    2. Break up D.C. Literally move some of the departments to the interior of the USA e.g the Dept of Agriculture gets moved to North Dakota..
    3. eliminate agencies and departments . Do we need the Commerce Department ??

    • Charles Haywood says

      Yeah, good points, and all either covered in the main piece or linked items (including the rustication). But there will be vastly fewer people in government at all, so that will be less of a problem!

  16. Jeff says

    Hope to see this developed into a book, and certainly will purchase it. One appeal is the give and take of it: I disagree strenuously with pillar #1, and somewhat strenuously with pillar #5. Yet this is precisely what is required. Sacrifice and subsumption are almost entirely lost in current American discussion. Ideology and politics are almost entirely about vanquishing or being vanquished, and almost never about any shared purpose.

  17. Sjahn says

    Great stuff, and the reading advice is sure to keep me busy for a while. Any tips on the best place to start?

    • Charles Haywood says

      I would start based on your particular interests. Some people are indifferent to space and technology and prefer religion or virtue. Some the reverse. Some prefer political economy. Always best to test the waters by starting with areas you know are of some interest to you!

  18. Publius says

    I look forward to your podcast and am enjoying past episodes.

    I don’t see you don’t have the same problem as any autocracy has had; how are you going to assure succession? The tale of the historical tape is even if you get a good monarch, the next one will be terrible. Absolute power attracts the worst sort of personality, so you’re also creating a honeypot for high functioning cretins.

    Our constitutional republic is a damage minimization scheme, as per Federalist Papers #10. I see our present situation as a failure to stop the consolidation of power by our elites. This is accumulated, collective knowledge, and mastery over of the latches and sentinels put in place to thwart power and its abuses. So this looks like Clapper’s and Alexander’s seizure of the NSA and their victory over Binney or the Marxist capture of the university or the State Department’s capture of foreign policy or China’s capture of our corporations.

    We are never proactive nor imaginative enough with respect to insider threats to suit my tastes. Sometimes the brain dead blindness to obvious routes for potential abuses and future disasters resembles some ungodly hybrid of you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours and professional courtesy. The point is, our professional classes are past masters of our institutions and institutional abuse. We need to do a full forensic decomposition of what they did and how they did it.

    In the case of higher ed., they captured the hiring and promotion function. Other institutions have different vulnerabilities and design flaws.

    The law only goes where criminals lead it (unfortunately) so between the action and the reaction, they have their moment of glory. We are there. We need to redesign our institutions understanding them as, and designing them to be, formal systems of constraints on power, deliberately designed to be unsolvable in either real or intergenerational time.

    The very public, near simultaneous and catastrophic collapse of all our institutions opens up the possibility that people will accept the radical reconceptualization of our institutions as likely, even inevitable, sources of lethal insider threats to our republic. This is a credible, historically grounded rallying point for both the left and the right. The main stumbling block is our lying, demonizing media which is little more than Goebbels level 10 propaganda for the very institutions it is supposed to be watching.

    • Charles Haywood says

      Thank you!

      1) I don’t think the best system, therefore, is an autocracy with “absolute power.” In fact, I explicitly say the system must be a mixed government.

      2) As to the sub-question of succession, it is not true that good monarchs usually alternate with terrible monarchs. Many societies have had very long runs of decent monarchs—England, for example, but many others. The key seems to be that the more the monarch is embedded in a web of custom and limited by other sectors of society (the aristocracy; the Church), you obtain the benefits of separation of powers without needing any form of popular sovereignty, while maintaining total legitimacy. There is vastly more to be said on this topic, of course, but my point is that the premise is wrong.

      3) You’ll probably have to begin with a system that does skew toward autocracy, simply for efficiency in troubled times. I don’t think such a system is likely to perpetuate itself indefinitely, if for no other reason than the average person in the modern world, due to technology, is better informed, and the elite is more likely to demand a seat at the table in today’s technologically-enabled society. My basic thesis is something along the lines of we can have Franco, but instead of ruining Spain by going to leftist-dominated liberal democracy as soon as Franco dies, which was inevitable given the times, in new times we could go, for example, to a real monarchy, but one limited in the ways I touch on above.

      4) It is certainly true that “our constitutional republic is a damage minimization scheme.” Unfortunately, it has completely failed in its goal. It had a good run. It’s over now, and pointing to Federalist #10 as a guide forward is not going to work out.

      5) I am not blind to “potential abuses and future disasters.” Aside from the problems of autocracy, you have other possible problems in a system that rejects popular control, notably corruption (for which the only solution is virtue and a high-trust society, and that’s not a perfect solution). But we don’t need a forensic decomposition of our professional classes, or our ruling elite and their myrmidons. We need to wipe out their power entirely; exile, rusticate, and/or lustrate the lot; and stamp out any instance of their poisonous Enlightenment/Left ideology. Then we’ll have new problems, and classic problems of government, but we won’t have the fatal problems we have now. The institutions can be those of A.D. 1880, or A.D. 80; there are many sound examples. But unless we smash them and their power, there won’t be any rebuilding at all; and if we do, rebuilding can be an organic thing, as it should be.

      6) Your last paragraph suggests you agree with much of this! I certainly agree with your last paragraph.

  19. Publius says

    I didn’t mean to imply that Fed. #10 was a roadmap out of our mess, only that Madison got right at the heart of the problem to be solved.

    If you’re experiencing what I’m experiencing ( and what I suspect a lot of people are experiencing ) then our current situation has captured your attention to the point of criminal neglect of your other responsibilities and diverted your best creative energies in pursuit of a solution. I only mention this to highlight something implicit but crucial; it’s happened to everyone and that means we are all like salmon, each involved in our personal struggle to get up that waterfall, driven and desperate to secure our cultural future.

    Each of us is framing the solution in terms of their own expertise and existing knowledge frameworks, of course we are, but it’s clearly a situation where many are called but few will be chosen. We should expect to be wrong even when we can see no better approach. Like loser salmon, we’re destined to be forced to watch as the lucky winners glide peacefully onto the spawning grounds just before the grizzly’s jaws severs us from all future relevancy.

    I am not trying to discourage or devalue anyone’s efforts. Your podcast is one of the bright points in my week and my thinking is stimulated by your reviews. Among other things, it’s the simple pleasure of hearing something worth saying said well. Sure, I want to smash their schemes into bits and see justice done with a dull butter knife sometimes but the prescription as it stands is going in the wrong direction. It’s too much to require of my thumb to tap it out one character at a time but at least to your points:

    2) we have a pretty hard disagree here, at least within a radius of, most generously, three or four generations. Proof on demand. This would also be a reversal of felt autonomy which almost no one would suffer passively and what you’d buy yourself is a long guerilla war, supplied and sustained not just foreign and domestic enemies, but by your own former potential supporters as well.

    3) Well, all laws not personally conceived of and approved by me are a form of autocracy. It’s not that I’m against inflicting autocratic consequences on others, and good and hard too, it’s that I want them delivered in modern fashion, like a smart bomb.

    Examples.

    I want the federal bureaucracy to be dissolved but I’ll try fireable and deunionized first and see how it goes.

    I want the NSA and CIA dissolved and my forensic analysis performed on their leadership with sufficient, perhaps extraordinary, consequences to elicit from them the truth.

    Then I want our most distinguished and realistic ( read: right wing) civil libertarians, science fiction creatives, mathematicians, forensic psychologists and technologists to redesign the processes, procedures and oversight techniques which constrain members of the IC community such that, for each and every member, there is not one fart they cut except we know what they had for lunch.

    I want all politicians and other officials, to be specified, put on a generous lifetime stipend beyond which lay only their sudden swift and certain trial and execution.

    I’ll hear the arguments for and against outlawing Marxism in all its forms as a public health threat. All university lectures and materials will be made public and viewpoint diversity will be mandated and enforced.

    Some scientific endeavors are too consequential to be either privatized or even private and therefore all such investigations must be publicly approved and if approved, conducted under Orwellian physical conditions similar to the conditions the IC community is forced to operate in, but broadcast to YouTube or its like.

    A regular job available to anyone of good moral character and the requisite intelligence and expertise will be to monitor and summarize the activities of our benighted institutions, who will have no choice in the matter. Perhaps it would be something like jury duty, with people sifted and sorted and assigned by ability.

    Instead of inflicting autocracy on the masses, I want to inflict it on the elites, the people who most need autocratic supervision and whose lust for power is now, as it always has been, the source of all of history’s excess corpses.

    Real autocracy is a regression towards the mean ( ha ha) in terms of political IQ, and if we have a movement sufficient to impose it, then we have a movement sufficient to impose it with more circumscribed scope and precision.

    To return to an earlier point – my thumb is deaf now to considerations like “flow” -the aggregate real knowledge we’ve accumulated about history yes, but also brains, personalities, genetics, and the structural motivations deposited within us over aeons by evolutionary forces, all suggest that the source of the dysfunction whose effect is our current politics is not itself political but biological and any solution which does not frame itself within those contexts is doomed. Failure here is the actual, now revealed, referent of the “not knowing” clause of Santayana’s most famous aphorism.

    To return to an earlier point – my thumb is now deaf to considerations like “flow”- there is no guarantee that any individual’s deepest insights are even relevant. Even if you believe that the nearest stable configuration is a Franco-like regime, you have to seriously consider the possibility that that is just a local maximum, bounded on both sides by valleys of normal and expected ignorance with respect to the specific background knowledge actually needed to stabilize and then advance society.

    Where I hear you most clearly is when you make the case that we need to stamp out and lustrate (!! lust.. luster..lustily <– Add to Vocabulary) our PMC and their ilk. I believe I share fairly in the despair and frustration which our times has oversubscribed us all to. My best instincts tell me I don't know what I don't know and if there were a way out of this representable by common political conception, we'd have known about it by now.

    This has made me recklessly bold. I am parachuting directly into evolutionary psychology ( with at least some formal background), law, mathematics and genetics. I cannot understand where our truly knowledgeable scientists are, Johnathan Haidt being a notable exception. Our nation is circling the drain and they all appear to be preoccupied with feathering their nests with more NIH grants or something. Unless they're distance diagnosing Trump, a high reward, low risk endeavor, they're AWOL.

    No one is coming to save us. If it doesn't come from our minds and mouths then its not coming. Someone has to break out a case of bold ideas and new thinking. Someone has to fuse new hard knowledge and new technologies with the facts on the ground and existing political and legal ideas and at the very least produce for consideration new approaches to what are clearly ancient problems.

    Just to toss some raw meat on the floor, although there's nothing new here except perhaps attitude, at what point could the case be made that the press is an accessory after the fact as defined in 18 U.S. Code § 3 ? Just exactly how much mileage could a guy like me get if all the information a prosecutor could show I was in possession of pointed directly to a crime being committed and my response post knowledge acquisition was to hide, distort and confound the general public in order to prevent the crime from being prosecuted?

    My sense of things is that I would not fare too well. Pleading that the shit coming out of my mouth was just my opinion, as Rachel Maddow was able to do before a fellow traveller judge, wouldn't work so well for me if it could be shown I knew or even should have known. Yet virtually every single nameable crime committed by just everyone from our IC community to Hunter Biden over the past six years, and even before, into Obama's administration, has been knowingly, actively and with malice aforethought covered up by our press. Give me discovery, a couple dozen black helmeted antisocials, a battering ram and the power to cut deals with defendants and they'll be no one left to clean the toilet at the NYT or Wapo.

    So why is this not, you know, a thing? Professional courtesy amongst corruptocrats? Anyway, that is just a long irritating burr in my saddle along with the FBI's non action, and de-facto support for Antifa and their terrorism on our citizenry.
    Oh, and the obvious abuse of prosecutorial discretion involved in each of the Trump adjacent prosecutions.

    My view is we have a functional, detailed, workable, defensible description of justice in common law. Those things which are blocking its execution are individuals and more broadly incentives. That we've come to this point at all does not prove the system is broken any more than cheating players proves a game worthless. All it proves is, given an arbitrary set of rules, people will eventually find a way to cheat them. The solution is to redesign the game, to the limits of our comprehension of what the cheaters did, so cheating is too difficult high risk to be worth it and arrange incentives in light of what we know about humans which Machiavelli didn't. We are a million miles away from that now.

    • Charles Haywood says

      I doubt if we have much disagreement. Autocracy is not an ideal situation in a high-trust, high-intelligence society; it’s more like a tool to get to that society. The hope is that once a total reset is done (and public policy ideas are only possible to implement thereafter), autocracy will naturally morph into something less autocratic. There is no way to tell, and I completely agree it will likely not be to our personal benefit. (I have a forthcoming piece in a third-party publication, “What to Do When Caesar Comes,” which will touch on some of these questions.)

  20. Anonymized Commenter says

    When I saw the notification of your “On Foundationalism” piece, I was very excited. I listened to it in podcast format, having more time to listen than read these days. I have not taken the time to re-listen or read the piece a second time, instead opting to work through as many of the linked pieces in podcast form as I could. I don’t think you have recorded them all. Over all I am sympathetic to your Foundationalism project, but would like to offer some unsolicited thoughts in response. What follows is not so much a detailed response, rather those significant things that leapt out and stayed with me.

    First, although you say that Foundationalism is non-ideological, my instincts say that it is just that. Like most ideologies, you paint a picture of an unspecified, but great future that will be realized on the other size of some civilization wide trauma (i.e. “the revolution”). In that sense you draw on the same religious or quasi-religious impulses that fuel most modern ideologies. The noble goal makes the ends justify the means. I believe you when you say that you want Foundationalism to be something that emerges organically. But something that emerges organically will not be Foundationalism. It will be its own thing, even if in the end it looks like Foundationalism. The difference is qualitative, in how you get there. The organic is real. The ideological is forced, a simulacrum of the real. The high middle ages emerged slowly out of the collapse of Rome and the mingling of Christian, Roman and Germanic cultures into a tertium quid. There was no one like you in 400’s making the case that we need this mix and balance of Christianity, Roman culture and Germanic culture and presto the high middle ages will emerge. Feudalism might be the least “systemic” and most organic political systems to develop in all of history. In this sense, Dreher, in his Benedict Option, has a good sense of it. The world is going to collapse. We as Christians were the cause of the greatest culture in world history. We should band together in tight communities, plan to live underground and when the world is ready we can emerge once again to plant the seeds that will grow organically into the next “greatest” culture. It is easy to stomach atrocities when the goal is noble, as are all ideological goals, but Havel’s dictum to focus on doing the right thing because it is the right thing and let the results be what they may is perhaps the only way to avoid the trap of ideology and the justifiable atrocities committed in the name of ideology.

    I have not scanned through the entire list of every book that you have read and reviewed in the Worthy House, but I do not think you have delved into the writings and thought of Jacques Ellul. I think it would serve you well to spend some time in his writings, in particular Propaganda: the Formation of Men’s Attitudes, The Technological Society and The Technological Bluff. I suspect that if you had read these works you would be less enamoured with “Space” as the impetus for “greatness” in society. The problem is not any one piece of technology per se, but rather with technical thinking. I think if you had read Ellul, you might also have more sympathy for Tainter and his identification of “complexity” as the root of social collapse, in spite of the obvious flaws of his book.

    Technical thinking, and with it technology and technical approaches to problem solving are inherently dehumanizing. The technical mindset views problems as outside of the person, in “the system.” If we put the right system in place, we can either fix the human, or, perhaps better, eliminate the human person entirely. Numerous examples abound. In teaching, we use “teaching methods” to systematize teaching such that you could put almost any warm body in a classroom, have them follow “the system” producing consistent educational outcomes. The teacher as a person ceases to matter. The technical system is all. Manufacturing is the same. Machines allow quick, consistent production quality. It does not matter the employee who works on the production line. The machines and the system produce consistent results. This is why factory work by its nature is dehumanizing. It steals the value of work and craft and the human connection with making things and transfers that to the machine. Whether it is accounting, customer service, the elimination of poverty or racism, some system can be put in place to manage the process to achieve the desired outcomes.

    Ellul, in his Technological Bluff, develops his “laws” of technique. He makes the case that technology and technique are neither good nor evil, but rather they are ambivalent. They do not care. Technology and technique will have effects on humans and human civilization (human flourishing) simply by their implementation. There is no “good” technology or “bad” technology, there is just technology. Here are his laws:

    First, all technical progress has its price.

    Second, at each stage it raises more and greater problems than it solves.

    Third, its harmful effect are inseparable from its beneficial effects.

    Fourth, it has a great many unforeseen effects.

    As he works out these four statements throughout the rest of the book, he notes that at each stage the complexity grows exponentially, the positive outcomes are overwhelmed by ever complex accompanying problems. The formula one race car may be a marvel of technical achievement and human greatness, but it is fright more unreliable that a simple horse and buggy. He argues that there is a kind of “unreason” with technology. If the unexpected evils of technology manifest themselves, we never just decide as a society to stop using the technology. No, we try to solves the problems of one technology by implementing further technologies that themselves create new unforeseen problems. In this I see a crossover with Tainter’s “complexity.” His idea of “complexity” can easily be thought of as “technical complexity.” In this sense, as complexity compounds with each new round of technical solutions to fix the problems of the previous technical solutions, its seems obvious to me that eventually the problems produced by the complex technical system will eventually bring the whole thing down. It is simply not sustainable ad infinitum. Tainter, in his own materialist way, is drawing on one of the “old stories” without realizing it. The story of Babel. As Peterson says, we ignore the wisdom of the old stories at our peril. Ellul asks the question, and I think this is the right question, “is technical progress the equivalent of human progress?” Is technology making us better human beings? I think on the whole, for all the benefits that technology has brought us, it has not made us better human beings. Yes, we are more technically sophisticated, but not better human beings. That is the key.

    Why is that? In part because technical thinking is wrapped up with a thoroughly enlightenment view of the world, that the key problems that humans face, the root of all society’s ills, all the things that are preventing human flourishing, are located outside the human person. Technical thinking and the ideology of Rousseau make perfect bedfellows. When evil is located in the structures and systems of society, what better solution is there than the belief that if only we had the power to manipulate and manage all of these systems, we could create the perfect human society. Why do you think the lords of tech so desperately want AI? Because AI promises to give the power to solve all human problems, to make us into gods. AI is essentially soteriological, the path for human salvation. It is the crystal cathedral that Dostoyevsky railed against. In Notes from Underground, he makes the point that if human being rebelled against God in the garden, what makes us think that we will be able to do any better? Dostoyevsky makes the point, that we humans will stand with arms akimbo blocking the path of those who tell us that 2+2=4 instead preferring 2+2=5 as a very fine thing indeed. If we rebelled against God, why would we not rebel against AI, the crystal cathedral? The problem is not flawed systems, but rather human rebelliousness, specifically rebelliousness against God. In this sense the true thorn in the side of the progressive is the doctrine, however you formulate it, of original sin.

    And in this regard, Ellul, in Propaganda, makes the observation that one of the foundational Myths of our modern society is the Myth of Progress in its entirety. Technical means and methods are put to service to propagandize man into technical society. In fact, propaganda is necessary to make modern society possible. It must break down all of the “thick communities” that Dreher is always talking about in order to isolate and motivate the individual. Alone and alienated, the individual is then made part of the depersonalized masses where he can feel a part of something larger, but yet is entirely manipulated, his thoughts not his own, lonely and isolated, part of the machine of Progress. Because the Myth of Progress in intimately tied with the modern project, the man of the left always has the advantage. He is for Progress, prosperity, a better society, a better man. The conservative is for austerity, restraint, discipline, community and its restrictions. Because most western conservatives do in fact believe in the myth of technical progress as tied to human progress, they are always a step behind the men of the left who are always on the side of Progress. This is why the left always has the messaging advantage, because propaganda is part of the technical world of Progress. In this sense, Dreher is once again right, and as Ellul notes, the best resistance to propaganda is tight knit “thick communities.” It is in real communities, with their smothering authority over our lives and choices (See Alan Erenhalt The Lost City: the Forgotten Virtues of Community in America) that provide the best resistance to propaganda and allows us to retain our own thoughts.

    This is why, in my mind, as much as you wish to have some form of technical achievement, “space”, I believe that embracing such an aspiration would require the keeping of both a technical mindset as well as a belief in technical progress as a sign and symbol of human progress. I simply do not believe that technical progress is human progress. Here Augusto del Noce’s distinction between a “perfectus” and “non-perfectus” politics is important. A perfectus politics believes that evil is rooted in the systems and structures of society and it is the role of the state to perfect society in the quest to perfect humanity. In a non-perfectus polity, the state recognizes that humans are sinful and flawed and it is the role of the state to create the conditions such that each person is inspired and has the best opportunity to pursue their own perfection or deification. Del Noce was a Catholic. The danger of pursuing great technical achievements as the mark of a great society is that it requires a technical approach to problems and problem solving. I am not sure how you prevent the ideology of “Progressivism” from reinfecting a society when your primary great pursuits are focused on the pinnacle achievements of technical progress. Progressivism is the natural social ideology of technical progress pursued as societal goal. To smash progressivism, you will need to smash its supporting architecture including technical and technological progress as a societal “good.”

    In this sense the Bruderhof are more or less right. They refuse most technology because it does dehumanize. People flourish when they are connected to their work. They only introduce a technology if there is no better way and only after much social discussion. I think the posture of any post-liberal should be a rejection of Progressivism and the idea of human progress itself and with it that the concomitant idea that human flourishing is connected with technical progress. It is not a rejection of technology or technique per se, but an extreme caution towards technology as a means to human flourishing.

    In this, your idea of “greatness” is an interesting one. I listened to a 14 lecture by Timothy B Schutt a while back entitled “Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans: the Foundations of Western Civilization”. In this he made a point that the Hebrew society was characterized by the pursuit of “righteousness”, the Greeks by the pursuit of “greatness” and the Romans by the pursuit of “duty.” While oversimplification is always a danger, I think there is something here. Schutt makes the observation that Virgil in the Aeneid was trying to make the point that the reason that the Romans conquered the world was because of their sense of duty and the reasons the Greeks did not is they pursued personal glory and greatness over their responsibilities to society. I think there is something to the observation. In this sense, the pursuit of great societal achievements, “space”, would be a distraction. My sense of it is that it is ideological. We will pursue “space” and in so doing will become a great society. I don’t think a truly organic society works that way. The Romans were right. Pursue “duty” because it is the right thing to do and leave the results where they fall. That is the essence of an “organic” evolution of society. Do the right things because they are the right things and let the results take care of themselves.

    To that end, how do you encourage a society to do the right things? To pursue faith in the God of the scriptures, belief in Jesus as Saviour? Mass conversions? It is the problem identified by Cicero. You can enforce justice through law, but a society that is truly just is one that needs no laws as the citizens themselves live justice. An upright elite who make belief in Christ profitable for social advancement? Do we need another Constantine? Not Augustinism, but Constantinism? That is my sense, a “man of destiny” who makes Christian faith the law of the land and the path to social advancement. Even that was not enough to save the Roman Empire. It still collapsed. We needed a Benedict (and many like him) and a 600 year incubation period for the culture of the high middle ages to emerge organically.

    Thanks for making me think! I hope these thoughts are helpful. Like you, I have become, in the last few years, a “post-liberal”. I have about 110 more reviews to get through in order to get caught up.

    • Charles Haywood says

      1) On ideology, here as always, I use the James Burnham definition, which is basically any belief system where any new fact presented cannot change the mind of the believer. That Foundationalism is idealistic, and that it views certain ways of thinking as correct, does not meet that definition. It’s meant to be flexible, organic, the opposite of ideological, within the limitations set out. Thus, merely because it has some types of religious impulses, or impulsion, does not make it ideological. The problem with ideologies is that believers try to force reality into their preconceived beliefs; Foundationalism is the opposite, because it begins with recognizing reality.

      2) I have all three Ellul books. I was planning to read The Technological Society, but got sidetracked for some reason. It is no doubt correct what you say, that the technical mindset is inherently dehumanizing. But technology is here to stay; we must choose to not let it dehumanize it. (The best fictional example of this is, of course, the Butlerian Jihad in Frank Herbert’s Dune, which I have mentioned more than once, I think.) We don’t want Taylorism (see the review of Zamyatin’s We). We don’t have to have anything we don’t want to, if we don’t want to hard enough.

      Ellul, as you summarize him, seems far too deterministic to me. What he says is no doubt true of much modern technology. It is far less true that it was true of earlier technology, however; I’d be curious what he says about early technical advancement, like cannon and telescopes.

      The horse and buggy example is bad, I think, though I would need to see it in detail. After all, horses and buggies (a) broke down constantly and (b) were very dangerous. A car is, in fact, much more reliable and probably safer, on a per-hour, and even more so on a per-mile basis. (The correct comparison, too, is not a race car, but a Civic.)

      3) No doubt technology has not made us better human beings. Of itself, it’s unlikely to do so at all. But that it has had so many modern pernicious effects I lay up not to technology, or its complexity, but to the ideology that has captured us. You advert to this, but don’t seem persuaded that without the Enlightenment, there is much less of a problem with technology. I maintain that there probably is, and in any case, that’s the only path forward available.

      4) The point about Left messaging as it relates to technology is well taken. (It is tied to Ross Douthat’s famous point, again one I advert to more than once, that since Francis Bacon the Left has been able to sell its message, “ye shall be as gods.”)

      5) Certainly the thorniest problem is how to remove the Enlightenment mindset forever from mankind. Elements of it are inherent in us, no doubt, including pride and rebellion. But obviously that is not the main matter, since every society has had those, and Enlightenment societies are a small fraction of societies. They seem more important than they are, in part as in the old joke about fish and water (“How’s the water?” “What’s water?”), and because Western accomplishments seem overwhelming. But as I say, those are not accomplishments of the Enlightenment; simultaneous ascendance is coincidental. And my thesis is that the Enlightenment can be discredited; it seems well on its way to doing so, what with the population crash and the general insanity and denial of reality on all fronts. Add a big enough fracture, and people will think of the Enlightenment as they think of Mithraism, only less positively. Maybe.

      Or, put differently, I deny that progressivism has any necessary relation to technological progress. The Bruderhof are right to be cautious; but no society as a whole can or will operate as the Bruderhof do, and they must be cautious because they are, at this moment, situated among the corrosion of liquid modernity. On the macro scale, that option does not exist.

      6) The Romans may well have pursued duty, but achieving the greatness of Rome was a very, very large part of that duty. And directly, not as some side effect.

      7) Constantinism would be fine with me. Certainly Rome ultimately collapsed, but that’s a sample size of one. Augustus is my more favored example; though of course he did not change the religion. Past performance, future results, etc. As we agree, it will be organic, so past examples (especially of pre-modern societies) may not be overly helpful.

      • Anonymized Commenter says

        I am not familiar with Burnham’s definition, but if you put it that way, then, no, Foundationalism would not qualify. If I am reading it right, Burnham would put ideology into the desiccated religion category. In religion the contradictions and paradoxes arise out of confronting the majesty of God and the deepest mysteries of the universe. With ideology they are just contradictions that collapse under their own weight eventually. That said, I was less thinking of something like that, than merely the corrosive effect of idealism itself, that is, that we are working toward the “glorious future”. Because the glorious future is going to be so good, whatever costs must be endured to get there are acceptable and necessary. You can see those costs in Nazism, Communism, Feminism and so forth, but you can also see them in a smaller scale working themselves out in organizations like a church. We are going to “renew” the church and it will be “successful”. In Girardian terms, we scapegoat those members of the congregation who are clinging to the past (those recalcitrants who like hymns and dislike praise choruses, for example) who then must be shoved aside, ritually sacrificed, for the “glorious future.” Are we scapegoating “the liberal” and is the liberal the true problem? Something to meditate on. This for me is the appeal of a Havel who emphasizes doing the right thing because it is the right thing, as opposed to fighting communism. Ending communism becomes the “glorious future” and you end up becoming like the communist yourself. This is also the appeal of Jordan Peterson who picks up on Jesus’ command to take the log out of our own eye rather than the speck out of our brother’s eye. Clean up your own room. My reading of Jesus is that if you want to make society better, the problem lies with the person who looks back at you in the mirror. Fix up that person and leave saving the world to Jesus.

        In that sense, focusing on “the foundations” as opposed to “the glorious future” is more where my observations about ideology arose.

        • Charles Haywood says

          Yes, it is true that leftism’s march toward the glorious future means that any cost can, or rather must, be borne. This point appears repeatedly in my reviews, though I stole it from Roger Scruton in Fools, Frauds, and Firebrands, and it wasn’t original with him anyway. The French Revolution, leftism’s original sin, exemplified this. But it is too broad to say that any desire for the glorious future implies the same. Or, more accurately, it’s that there are two types of glorious futures. One, the Left vision, is a utopian vision (Thomas Sowell’s “unconstrained vision”), where true human happiness, and a total change in human nature, are possible and within reach. The other is of a realist-type glory, exemplified in my favorite quote, perhaps, from David Gress, which again appears several times (you have no doubt seen it): “Living under [God’s] judgment, men conceived life as an adventure, and their vivid imaginations conceived great tasks—sometimes bloody, cruel, and murderous—and impelled them to surmount great challenges. Hernán Cortes conquered Mexico for God, gold, and glory, and only a mundane imagination would distinguish these impulses, for they were one and the same.”

          Thus, while no doubt Girardian scapegoating goes on, that’s a subset (in this context) of the Left vision of glory. A realist-based vision can be more practical, more cost-benefit oriented, more susceptible to rational discussion, because the goal is not some kind of new perfection, but “better than what we have now.” Outside of the Left vison, the Western vision has always been of this latter type, with occasional flare-ups of millenarianism (e.g., Munster) and other exceptions. Even actions taken for ideological reasons, such as the Crusades, did not adopt the premises behind Left visions of glory.

          Thus, we are not scapegoating the Left; the Left is indeed the true problem we face today. Not the only problem; mankind will always face problems. But the Left vision and the reality-based vision cannot coexist, nor can the Left vision coexist with any other unchosen bonds or limitations on emancipation, such as belief in a personal God. One must fall. Or both. We know the Left will fall; the real question is what will come after, and if it will be anything.

          Let’s take Peterson. How did that work out for him? Not so well. The so-called Intellectual Dark Web is either dead or marginalized. It had no impact and achieved none of its ends. QED.

  21. Anonymized Commenter says

    Before offering some more thoughts on your thoughts of my thoughts on your thoughts, I had a thought arise while hiking today. I am thinking that I approach this complex of ideas that you have developed from the perspective of my own intellectual schooling which has a significant leaning towards theology. In that sense, one of the goals that _____________ has for its graduates is that during our time there we learn to think theologically about the world. As a result, I think my default approach to your Foundationalism project is to come at it from a primarily theological, maybe pastoral, perspective, and also through the lens of the place and role of the institutional church in society. My sense is that you come primarily from your training as a lawyer, so more from the place of legal and political theory as it relates to law.

    I can see how Ellul could be perceived as deterministic. I think that is less because he sees technology and the technological mindset as deterministic per se, but that because of our commitment to “Progress” it has that effect on us as a society. Thus, rather than deciding as a society to reject a technology and cease using it once its unknown harmful effects become known, our belief in Progress impels us to solve once set of technical problems with new technology. He calls this the “unreason” of the technical mindset. Taking control of technology would mean in part breaking the hold that myth of Progress has on our society – no small task – while at the same time having a cautious approach to the place of technology in our society. We would have to be masters over technology and its role in our society and not mere slaves and pawns to the grand movement of technological Progress, swept along as it moves ever closer to the glorious future. While I am open to the possibility of it happening, the “how” of achieving it seems elusive. My sense is that it would be a spiritual thing, a society wide Christian spiritual renewal. Ellul makes the point that it is increasingly difficult for us to gain mastery of technique in large part because we are unaware globally that we have largely become slaves to technology. You cannot control one part of the technical system. It cannot be controlled unless the whole of technology and the technical way of thinking are controlled by humanity. Ellul even makes the point that today if a technique or technology exists, it will be used. In this sense, it seems to me that dealing with technology, technique and the technical mindset is not dissimilar to the temptation Eve faced in the garden. As God said to Cain, sin crouches at the door, it desires to have you but you must maser it. The degree to which a society can achieve human mastery over ourselves is the degree to which we can have mastery over technology.

    In The Technological Society, Ellul does walk the reader through the process of simple tool use through to the technical mindset as a mindset, but I cannot remember what the inflection point was for him. It might be a time for me to re-read. Knowing the conditions that lead to crossing over that point would be immensely helpful. As for the horse and buggy vs. race car analogy, I looked it up and I must confess a little rhetorical flourish based on the vagaries of my own memory of the book. His contrast in the Technological Bluff was between a regular motor car and the race car. The point he makes is that the more sophisticated the technology becomes the more fragile the system becomes. The race car may be a technological achievement, but it is far less reliable than the every day motor car.

    You are likely right that technology is here to stay, short of an apocalyptic collapse in which technology is forgotten. So, yes, we must deal with it. That means understanding technology and its relationship with the ideology of Progress and the Enlightenment. The precise cutting away of the cancer, if it can be achieved, has to be well understood. If there is a plan that needs to be in place for Foundationalism to succeed, it seems to me that this is one of the decisive keys to its success or failure.

    I do think you are right that western culture is unique and not nearly as culturally omnipresent as it may seem in our western fishbowl. Again, smashing the influence of progressive thinking, the Myth of Progress, has to be complete. There are all manner of threads. Evolution. Pre-Millennial Christian theology. Marxism. Revolutionary Jacobinism. Scientism. Managerial technocratic thinking. It is everywhere, this idea that we can manage our way to “the glorious future” and technology and technical thinking is at the core of so much of this today. I am really at a loss as to the “how” but remain open to the possibility that it can be done. But the ideas that feed it would have to be totally and utterly discredited that they fill people with disgust. Progressive thinking would have to become immoral.

    You observation of the Buderhof is fair. Similar is the way that French Canadians work actively to preserve their own culture.

    I actually pulled out the lectures on the foundations of western culture to re-listen to them. I think the point that Schutt made is that the Romans achieved empire because they strived as a society to greatness through duty and practicality. The Greeks, while achieving many of the highest forms of human excellence, could not achieve the lasting empire of the Romans because greatness was a personal competitive struggle. Schutt’s case is going to be that it is elements from all three cultures, the Hebrew/Christian, the Greek and the Roman that laid the foundation of the west. A common place assertion, but I want to hear him out again on the fuller list of characteristics that he sees as making up western culture.

    On to new thoughts:

    I was listening a couple of days ago to your review of “The Fiery Angel” especially in regards to the idea of the conquest of space as it comes up in that review. I had a few thoughts that jumped off from this. The conquest of space is needed to re-invigorate the “heroic” in society, the impulse for conquest. Without a society being driven forward by its heroes, without them making new conquests, a society languishes and dies. I completely understand that line of thinking. But, if we begin from a Christian foundation, the “hero myth” has to be understood in Christian terms, maybe not as the only form of the hero, but as the aspiration towards the highest form of the hero.

    What is that? It is the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Jesus rejects the impulse of the crowds and his disciples to “restore the kingdom”, that is, enact a political solution. Instead he turns the hero narrative on its head, sacrificing himself for the good of others. Yes, it is still heroic to go and conquer. It is still heroic to protect the weak by force of arms. But in Christ, the true hero is the one who sacrifices himself for the sake of others, the one who denies himself to pursue holiness, righteousness and virtue. The true hero is the one who allows Christ to master him and in so doing gains mastery over the sin within. How does Christ reveal the glory of God? In and through the cross. In this way the impulse of conquest is interiorized and the higher conquest becomes conquest of one’s self, not of the neighboring village or nation, or even conquest of space. As great an achievement as that may be, it pales in comparison with an individuals mastery of themselves by being mastered by Christ.

    A society that encourage this type of heroism, avoids the trap of the other, lesser, forms of human conquest. Great societal achievements seem to me to be extractive. I believe the “Art of War” makes this very observation, that war is expensive, that it places a great burden on society, usually born by the peasantry. The low man pays the cost of the achievements of the great. How would the conquest of space be additive for a society? Would its costs outweigh its benefits?

    Is the notion of the conquest of space, just another form of the devil that is the Myth of Progress? Can “conquest” be justified in a “post-liberal” and “post-Progressive” society? Or are the risks too great?

    This notion of “equality” as the highest value for the Progressive is spot on (I think this came from a different review. They are starting to blend together at times). I get the sense that “human flourishing” is the highest value of Foundationalism. What is human flourishing? Unless I missed it, you talk about it as if we all should know what it means, and even if we don’t we will know it when we see it. I am reminded of Alan Erenhalt’s observation in “The Lost City: the Forgotten Virtues of Community in America” that we speak all the time of “community” but we don’t actually mean real functioning communities, but rather the kind of gauzy feel good impression of a community as we wish it would be. The question I would have, is how does techno-optimism contribute to human flourishing? Not in a gauzy feel good sort of way, but in an actual real world sort of way. I am not a Luddite, but given the technological mindset’s marriage to progressivism, I will remain skeptical for now, but with an open mind to be convinced.

    Out of the review of “The Wizard and the Prophet” the one word I cam away with is “limits.” It would seem to me that one of the primary teachings of the Old Testament is that there are limits, that man’s choices must be proscribed so as to encourage human flourishing which is rooted primarily in a right relationship with God. With that, how do we limit technology in a society, proscribe it much the ways of Old Testament food laws such that technology as an ideology with its own soteriology does not infect the rightly ordered flourishing society?

    While I think that you are correct that technology is not directly tied to the enlightenment and enlightenment thinking, the scientific and technical mindset being rooted first of all in the pursuit of understanding God’s creation and the use of human gifts of intelligence and ingenuity to the glory of God, one of the things that held technology back was the authority of the church, that is the authority of the community of Christ. That is one of the things that makes community what it is, the limiting of choices and possibilities. The breakdown of this through humanism in the Renaissance began breaking down this authority in favor of “free inquiry.” The new learning that began in the late middle ages and into the Renaissance began to press against the authority of the church. And since the Enlightenment was an extension of the Renaissance, a case could be made that as the universities grew up at the end of the middle ages, that technical thinking grew up organically alongside the growth of scientific thinking. I think restraining technology and technical thinking will have to involve some form of the re-introduction of “authority,” the kind of authority that will necessarily limit and hamper the “free inquiry” necessary to pursue science and technology, even if both are wrested from the Progressives and once again flow out of love of God and his creation.

    Technology and technique, at a certain point, become their own theology, their own soteriology, a belief that we can solve all human problems through technique and technology. This is perhaps why I am stuck on point number one, “Space.” Is “Space” drawing on the soteriological elements of technology by trying to transmute them into the heroic? If so, it seems to me that this could be (would likely be?) a poison pill that would undo the whole Foundationalism project. It would seem to me that a heroic techno-optimism may not be compatible with human flourishing as human flourishing requires the re-introduction of limits and authority into our society. You cannot limit one area without limiting them all for the good of human flourishing.

    Again, I think a focused definition is needed for “human flourishing” as that will help guide the project. I am also tooling around with thoughts around the phrase “will develop organically” but I think I may work through your manifesto in print form and respond more thoroughly. Most of which I am in complete or near complete agreement.

    I also read the Adrian Vermule article you pointed to, “A Christian Strategy” and after reading that I think that the relationship between church and state needs more fleshing out in your thought.

    • Charles Haywood says

      This is very good, and I can’t really respond in detail, because it requires quite a bit of thought. But I promise to work it into further thoughts on Foundationalism. Two general thoughts. It is certainly true that a Christian backbone is necessary; the precise relationship between that and societal accomplishment is a feedback loop. But a society that accomplishes is not going to be fully Christ-like, and how to split that baby is very difficult. Cortes, after all, was a very bad man in many ways. He will be very lucky to get into Heaven. Second, as to what human flourishing is, it is a fair point that needs more fleshing out.

      • As for your last point here, Charles, about human flourishing, I think that Alasdair Macintyre’s “Dependent Rational Animals” and “Ethics in the Conflicts of Modernity” are excellent places to start.

        • Charles Haywood says

          Those look very good, and since the People have been demanding more definition of “human flourishing,” probably necessary!

  22. bouncing ball says

    I like and agree with most of the ideas here, although I do think anytime religion becomes a key aspect of a society, religious freedom will decrease. Religious tolerance exists when people don’t care/believe in religion, if it is a key pillar of a society (and I think it should be!) then visible adherence to a uniform doctrine will become a societal feature.

    I guess what I am saying is there wont be just generic “Christianity”, one of its more specific offshoots will become the dominant “real religion”, while the others will be tolerated in the same category as Jews and virtuous Pagans, not necessarily persecuted but also not enjoying the full status of society.

    Generic Christianity only exists today because its adherents don’t actually care or believe in it. Devout societies (such as Europe from 500ish AD-1800 AD and the Islamic world today) have almost no concept of unitarianism.

  23. goodlander says

    What I always find most helpful in a manifesto are axioms or principles. I’ve read enough Worthy House at this point to appreciate Charles’s ability to reason clearly in a straight line and to go where reality leads. Thus the more specific the prescriptions detailed in the pillars on offer, the less interested I find myself as these are either derived from the principles or a matter of our Maximum Leader’s taste.

    Since the iron core of Foundationalism is that it opposes autonomic liberalism and seeks to abolish it in a single step–I’d like to know where I sign up.

    My issue is that the description Charles offers for the enemy throughout Worthy House has never seemed satisfying, roughly:

    1) Committed to complete equality
    2) Committed to unfettered liberty

    Not that I should expect coherency from the left, but equality and liberty are themselves directly opposed the vast majority of the time. Today’s left is far more energized to entangle people in unchosen bonds than “emancipate” them. Even liberty has a euphemism for atomization does not seem to describe the left project today which itself is brutally conformist. They seek to remake men into eusocial ants. Perhaps they’d call this liberty and Charles is attempting to be generous but these people view language the way a prisoner views the handle of their toothbrush.

    I like the Yarvin model of the progressive left, our ruling class. They are best described as a theologically-atrophied sect of post-millennial Christianity. They are the cargo cult continuing to build God’s Kingdom on Earth to save our collective soul several generations after the planes stopped coming. They pursue this mission with no less fanaticism or religiosity than the Puritans from whence they came but now use a euphemism where they would have said “God” such as “right side of history.” This has all the explanatory power needed to understand the enemy better than they understand themselves. Certainly makes attending college graduation ceremonies much less boring once you realize you’re watching power-addict junky theocrats of our unofficial state religion don their ceremonial regalia and preach social gospel.

    Whatever the truth of their condition, its agreed that these are the people permanently in charge who continue to dig the hole we’re in. The digging must stop. Whoever can actually deliver this will determine if the hole is filled with concrete to become a spaceship launchpad or not.

  24. Tessa says

    Two observations:

    1) Foundationalism appears to just be reactionary authoritarianism with extra steps

    2) For all your aspirations towards the exploration of space, you seem to have missed the rather relevant fact that Franco’s Spain never built orbital rockets–and even the handful of suborbital sounding rockets launched by the INTA were built on contract by British Aerospace.

    In fact, based on historical precedent, you can either try to assuage your existential terror of an inherently uncertain world through mandating into existence an unforgiving, conformist society, or you can have a robust program of space exploration–but not both.

    • Charles Haywood says

      1) Your first point is not self-proving; as put, it is puerile and worthless.

      2) Franco may not have launched rockets, but (a) I did not say Franco had anything to do with Foundationalism (although he was awesome) and (b) Franco presided over one of the greatest economic miracles of all time. Who can say what would have happened had the Spanish not gone off the track in 1975, to end in their current stupidity and despair?

      3) Historical precedent on space is pretty thin, and let’s not forget who the first man in Space was, but again, your puerile characterization of Foundationalism of “unforgiving [and] conformist” is not self-proving, nor does it make any sense.

  25. Publius says

    I like WorthyHouse because I feel much the same way as Charles about our culture’s decline. I am pretty sure all return listeners do also. That’s being so let’s not ruin things with each other by getting under each other’s skin early and having that wreck any chance at working through the issues Charles is presenting.

    I too see Foundationalism as a kind of autocratic rule of the enlightened, but I may not be catching on to some substantive difference. The Augustan framing of the project might make it seem more august than mere strong man rule, but that appears to be what it boils down to, or what a critic might boil it down to.

    Just to review, the whole problem with enlightened dictators is that even if you’re inclined to accept the bargain and even if the bargain is in some way better than the alternatives present at the time, inevitably within a few turns of the wheel regular old dictators will take the helm and then we’re just China.

    It seems to me that between One Good Caesar and the way Congress, the Deep State and businesses conduct themselves today there is a lot of room for dramatic reform which, while dramatic, is still better than civil war or throwing away democratic representative government.

    I like Worthy House and Charles’ take on things because I am hearing the voice of a man who is willing to rethink basic things and take seriously the project of re-forming our institutions. Dictatorships of any form or duration are a disaster waiting to hatch a monster and are not acceptable to me either but let’s not quit there, let’s kick this around.

    What are the incentives which are driving bad governance and moral decay in our nation and how can we reconfigure them to get good governance and moral uplift ? That’s the basic issue as I understand it.

    The whole idea of government and the law comes down, in my mind, to a few basic functions- national defense, defining the rules of conduct for business and civil society and dispute resolution within those spheres.

    To throw out a concrete observation, one of the things driving bad governance is the ability of the elite “governors”, very broadly defined, to save themselves from the consequences of their decisions which are nevertheless visited upon us most brutally. They configure game after game of the type: I-win-because-you-lose and then benefit from those games. They outsource our jobs then are indirectly but concretely rewarded by the outsourcing companies through a variety of mechanisms including spouse and child remuneration, board positions after retirement, speaking fees, book deals, contributions to foundations which they run after office etc. etc. etc.

    So what if we tried an elaboration of something Charles suggests, rusticating them ?

    We could say, for instance that when they’re retired, they’re retired. They will get a stipend equal to the a little more than the median income for Americans, be provided better than average housing, say, full medical and dental, yearly adjustments for inflation but be forbidden to benefit in any way directly or indirectly ever again.

    If they remarry into wealth, they cannot avail themselves of that wealth. The wealthy spouse will live as they live, or they can live separately. This also includes vacations, travel, gifts from any source whatsoever including family. They will literally be forbidden from engaging in remunerative work or any sort.

    They will be denied any lifestyle workaround of this prohibition- for instance living on a constant speaking circuit going from the Fiji Islands, then to the Bahamas, then to the Caribbean moving from five star hotel to five star hotel- and forbidden from any other scheme of this sort.

    The idea is, they will live as we live, with the consequences of the decisions they make. They will not be permitted to escape them.

    The obvious problems with this are 1) no Congressional member will ever vote for it 2) It’s unconstitutional. There is a thinkable solution to both those problems. We amend the Constitution by fielding a crop of national and state candidates dedicated to voting for this amendment. The fact is, it’s incredibly popular on both the popular left and the popular right. I’ve never gotten anything but positive responses from anyone across the political spectrum, however unlikely it seems to people.

    The selling point is this- it’s less dramatic and destructive than civil war which is where this nation is currently headed. So let’s try it. Sure it’s politically unviable now, but the pot is not now boiling. We’re going to undergo a phase change, at which time things which were unthinkable will become plausible, even attractive.

    The more subtle objections are things like- we will only ever have weirdos as Congressional candidates again. Freaks and fanatics who are more fundamentally removed from our values than even our current overlords, people who in another career would have bene cult leaders or whose life prospects are so shoddy, owing to who they fundamentally are, that this is better than anything they could otherwise expect.

    It’s a coherent objection, but entirely theoretical and one which is not enough to deter me from wanting to do the experiment.

    Thoughts?

    • Charles Haywood says

      Foundationalism doesn’t require dictatorship, autocracy, or one-man rule. On the other hand, a dictator is often the best solution to address a crisis (after all, that’s how the Roman use of dictators originated, with strict controls). Thus, it seems unlikely that Foundationalism will begin with anything other than an autocracy, although that could be a multiple-person one. Those tend to be unstable, however, for obvious reasons.

      I have a piece coming out in another magazine about “What to Do When Caesar Comes?,” which addresses some of these questions. But it is not true that enlightened dictators always give way to unenlightened dictators. This is a potential problem, yes, but one key point of Foundationalism is that the society itself must be renewed. As M. John Harrison said, in a work of fiction, of a land at the end, this “resigned, defeated landscape, was it simply waiting to be born? Who can tell at which end of Time these places have their existence?” We’re that landscape, and we’re waiting to be born. If the society can be renewed, or more likely a new one built on the ashes of the old, an autocracy doing the necessary could easily then give way to a mixed government in the face of a united competent ruling class and aristocracy. Maybe.

      You’re more optimistic than me about dramatic reform. That’s kind-of the Rod Dreher solution. Sure, I’d like that. But what’s the path? That seems less likely than dictatorship, to me. Certainly rusticating the ruling class would be a good start (and one I’ve discussed in several places, one that I call, though I don’t think I’ve done so here, “sending them to pick potatoes in Saskatchewan”). But you have to have something to replace the ruling class, and it’s not evident there are any number of relevant men waiting in the wings to form an entirely new and different ruling class, nor has such a thing ever been done peacefully. Rusticating people without firmly placing power in completely unrelated hands, permanently, is not likely to work. Yes, rusticating is better than killing people. My guess is, though, that a lot of people will end up dead in the inevitable wars, and the rest will have to be exiled after they lose the war, and be forced to transfer any assets they hold out of the country back to America in order to even be allowed to choose exile, rather than death. That’s “living with the consequences” of their decisions.

      Let’s say a constitutional amendment passed with your more limited solution. What would happen is that the courts would immediately nullify it as “not in accordance with the spirit of our Constitution.” You’d then have to nullify the courts (something that should have been done yesterday). But then you might as well not have bothered with the amendment process. Why not skip to the end? You could nullify the courts now, in the manner of Andrew Jackson, without a war, so that would be something I’d support, certainly. I don’t think they’d allow that either, however. They’re itching for something that allows them to use violence, because they wrongly think they have a monopoly on it, and can control it. Using violence against a Trumpian figure who refused to allow the courts to continue to rule extra-constitutionally would be a good place for them to start the formal attack.

      More broadly, though, when every possible path to a peaceful solution relies on a narrowly-threaded path beset on all sides with chaos and violence, that peaceful solution is, um, unlikely. Not impossible. But unlikely. And given how the Left and our ruling class has obviated the rule of law, the other problem is that trying for a “reform solution” becomes heads they win, tails we lose. They get the benefits of being lawless; we get the handcuffs of working within this system as it exists on paper. And then, when and if we succeed, they simply pull the football away. No thanks.

      So, I guess, my thoughts are pessimistic!

  26. I haven’t gotten through all the Comments, so I apologize if this is repetitive. The pillars presented at this stage have virtues, but also some vices, if you want to work Foundationalism into something programmatic. I realize that it is intended to offer a vision, not a “how-to,” but at some points the pillars seem to devolve into, respectfully, “wouldn’t it be nice if…”-kind of thinking.

    Any pillar that relies upon, “believe and value like so, like we do, and things will be better,” doesn’t advance your vision much. High culture, for example, is a fruit of a good society and governance, probably before it is a tool for such. One simply cannot expect a reaction like, “oh I didn’t think and value like this before, but now that you’ve said it, the scales have dropped from my eyes.”

    Nonetheless much of Foundationalism is interesting, and certainly to be endorsed. Stating as a principle that the Economy should subsist at a level below Politics (where the people live) is important—important, in that you are making that clear, as well as that I endorse the idea. [Some Libertarians may claim that this what we have now, but they don’t know what they’re talking about.]

    I very much like the Limited Ends, Unlimited Means turn of phrase. I take this to be a radical reworking of the very purpose of governance, and government, so I’m all for this pillar frankly. The evils of governance today is not so much in what it is doing or accomplishing (although this is increasing in overt diabolism), but in service of what end.

    The Intermediary/Subsidiarity pillars are so fertile for development in your thought frankly. All institutionalization of subsidiarity for instance, tends to fail or transform over time into a facade, if done only formally. Some independence, in power terms, is required for the survival of subsidiary/intermediary “corporations.” In today’s world, this might require significant adjustment in economics, as well as law.

    There are many topics your Foundationalist book may have to try and tackle. Not necessarily with an answer, but at least with your reasoning and perspective. And they would be diverse issues—What is a nation? Is citizenship meritocratic, or linked by birth? What is the nature of Foundationalism’s media of exchange (I’m not plugging goldbug fyi)? What can (should?) be done about capital flight? What is Foundationalism’s position of forms of governance (or government)? Democratic… elitist… corporatist? And more importantly how would such come to be? [Of course we know that Caesars, like legitimate kings, are not chosen… they simply rule. And such could be said of other forms of government, but Foundationalism probably needs the beginnings of a prescription.].

  27. Publius says

    > They’re itching for something that allows them to use violence, because they wrongly think they have a monopoly on it, and can control it.

    Boy, is that the truth.

    >Let’s say a constitutional amendment passed with your more limited solution. What would happen is that the courts would immediately nullify it as “not in accordance with the spirit of our Constitution.

    Just a fast reply to this one point. A Consitutional Amendment doesn’t involve either the courts or POTUS and, if it passes, can only be undone by the same process again- an Amendment. So to answer this one objection- SCOTUS does not have the power to decide an Amendment is unconstitutional, nor to stop it from being proposed or voted on.

    Re: civil war, obviously, civil war is more frequent in history than radical political change but each case is different.

    In Czarist Russia, Nicholas II was reforming, after fits and starts, and we can see that Russia would have left Monarchy and entered into some kind of representative republic except for a man named Lenin. Generaly, when societies are reforming, because they’re a bad fit for the times or owing to looming crises, they are also at that time most vulnerable to civil wars and, as every radical knows, it’s a lot easier to tear something down than to modify it. It’s easy, and satisfying, to push over a teetering block tower.

    The same thing happened in Germany, more or less. The whole society was unstable owing to reparations and Communist insurrection. After the failed Beer Hall Putsch, Hitler learned to integrate into the system in order to take it over, not unlike what our own left has done in this nation albeit in a slower, more thoroughgoing manner.

    Knowing where the people really are is important. The Bolesheviks successfully framed the Mensheviks as the minority through a mere act of branding, and that went a long way to consolidating power. If you read carefully, you can take the temperature of this nation even though the pollsters are trying to Menshevik us at every turn (I have a great example of this that’s too long for this post involving so called “white supremacy” survey conducted by Gallop I believe). What do polls show, despite themselves? That 80% want voter ID, 80% want strong borders and tighter immigration and about the same amount want BLM investigated and their support and funding sources looked into. 25% of blacks don’t want reparations (they’re saying no to free money) while 15% of white Americans do. And so on.

    The point is, we’re really a center-right nation and just 20% well placed elites and gatekeepers make up the far left. That means we have a majority behind us, and an overwhleming one at that. Recent events only swell our ranks.

    Along the lines of radical change, I’ll throw another idea out there. I recognize the half-baked nature of it, but I’ve come to the conclusion that, if we’re going to save this nation, we have err in the direction of thinking like science fiction writers. It’s easier to free your mind from the leaden encumbrance of what is if you’re watching reality receding like earth in the rear view mirror of a space ship. Here’s the idea

    We should turn the surveillence capacity of big tech back on the parts of society which can’t be trusted to police itself or contain its power. Everything should be reocrded, all the time for all those individuals and that will just be a part of the job they have to accept.

    The mildest form of this is cameras in all classrooms. I suggested this ten years ago to a civics group whose concern is public and college education and at that time it was just a bridge too far. Now, I sense, minds are more plastic.

    Everything teachers do and say to children, in their capacity as public school teachers, is recorded and viewable by concerned parents.

    Further up the power hierarchy, things get tighter. Every single FBI / CIA / DIA/ Homeland Security etc etc agent from the director to the guy who takes out the garbage is recorded, all the time. I mean if they cut a fart at noon we can reconstruct what they had for breakfast 20 years hence. Every keystroke, penstroke, every conversation, every everything. Encrypted and preserved for people designated as overseers to all activity, overseers who will be, by design, unknown and unknowable to the overseen and immune to retribution from below.

    This is the Panopticon, with the same logic in effect, but turned on the wardens. Obviously, confounding details immediately spring to mind, but those are details, the guiding principal, the manifest imperative driving the logic is this. Technology has become so powerful that either it’s going to be used to contain power itself, or it’s going to be wielded by the powerful against everyone else, ending in disaster. Unrecoverable disaster.

    Seen in that light, this is an update to the Federalist Papers where the Founders tried to construct, using the technology of the day- a Constitution and the rule of law- a system of power which would limit itself.

    This is not as far fetched technically as it seems. I know a guy who works security for a big national hardware chain. He was telling me that their COO, I think it was, is constrained to live in a house the company owns and that that house is rigged with 24 / 7 /365 / 360 degree cameras and microphones and sensors. Security can see and hear everything he says and does. They lock the doors remotely when the leaves the house. They open them when he comes home. They track him in his car when he drives to the store. They do this because he’s a unique and uniquely consequential point of vulnerability to the entire company. The money makes it worth it.

    As it stands now, the government and corporate elite are surveilling us even though they’re the actual threat to our Republic and we’re merely a threat to them, as we should be. This is completely backwards. I’ll relay to you a fast story of small consequence which nevertheless makes my point. A decade or more ago, I, a zero grade nobody, got a tablet, signed up for a Google account, went online, found a YouTube video and responded to a comment there. It was my first and only post. I took my time and wa thoughtful. The post was defending free speech, respectful and appropriate. They shadowbanned it, as far as I can tell, immediately.

    I had to manually work out for myself why no one was responding to it. I didn’t know anything about shadowbanning. I don’t think the term or practice was known yet. I had to generate the theory then prove it was what happened, which I did. It seemed far-fetched and slightly crazed.

    The point is this- the authoritarian lunatics have all the money, all the companies, all the expertise, all the ungoverned, unobserved, unlimited power in our society. They enact Presidential-level pre-security everywhere they go, their houses are swept for bugs daily and the glass in those houses and their bomb-proof cars is deisgned so that it cannot be remotely targeted for voice vibrations. They have the archetypal smoke-filled rooms and on the walls of those rooms are giant screen TVs displaying real time streams from our phones and fridges and toasters. They can see us and control us and they are completly opaque to us.

    The next stop on this crazy train is biowarfare targeting individuals according to their political and tempermental make-up as determined through big data analysis of millions of people’s genes and their personal genome which they suckered people into giving them in exchange for a horoscopic-level “reading” of their genetic palm.

    Nothing I am saying here has ever been poorly received. It’s self-evident. Self-evident is the easy road to consensus and consensus is how history is made. That’s why all the first item on the agenda of all great dictators was contorl of the press. We can get consensus on this and more things just like it. We haven’t even gone into how we can apply Crimes Against Humanity type law-making to the current crop of elites, in tech, ion the media and in government.

    The point is, the changes I am proposing are bruising and vicious from the perspective of their targets but they will be experienced as a more or less recognizable continuation of law making and regulation by the average person, who, I’ll say it again, is with us. Between the massive human tragedy a civil war would unleash and unexplored legal space there’s a huge chasm we never have to cross.

    OK once again my post is too long. I strive to make each sentence recommend the next. The takeaway is this. We have a system of checks and balances which, through long familiarity and detailed knowledge of it’s actual implementation, has subverted by our elites. Two cases in point are the schools and universities and the intelligence services. The problem is they operate in the dark, without fear of exposure. But that fact is a historical artifact borne of past technical limitations and not an conscious ideological or legal decision on the part of this nation. Such opacity is clearly a danger to the long term security and stability of this nation. It needs to be removed. The resulting system will be harder to subvert and will take them longer to master. Going forward, society’s explicit, default position will be: no one can be trusted with that kind of power. This must be taught in schools and reinforced through culture. A similar situation obtains and similar rules need to be applied to the private sector. People know this intuitively, but they need to have the case made explicitly.

    • Charles Haywood says

      All interesting and well thought-out, but I think it overrates the competence of our overlords by at least an order of magnitude. Nor do I think recording will fix anything; everything is far too broken, and no use could be made of that material anyway until the society was remade, at which point presumably it would be unnecessary. The incompetence of our elites, including in the corporate world, is impossible to overstate. Chaos is going to be the inevitable result–hopefully short and sharp.

      You are technically correct about Constitutional amendments. But since we long ago foolishly agreed that the Supreme Court was the ultimate arbiter of the Constitution, it can, and many times has, said things that are flatly in contradiction to the Constitution. It is not only possible, it certain, that it would declare any such amendment “not in keeping with the spirit of our sacred Constitution,” or some such phrase, and simply disallow it.

  28. Publius says

    > They get the benefits of being lawless; we get the handcuffs of working within this system as it exists on paper.

    OK yes, but that is our secret power. That is where legitimacy flows from. This is a war for legitimacy now. The Biden admin is the dog that caught the bus. Now what ? They are unprepared, constitutionally incapable and proving it everyday. They are bleeding legitimacy. Then comes the audits, which are a real thing of consequence.

    What is happening to guys like us is this. We are the tip of the spear, the first guys into the breach, the first ones to see what’s going on. We’re descended from guys who scanned the horizon for trouble. We’ve been staring clear eyed at current events and watching in horror as the enemy assembles blotting out near the hills. OK. So we’re experiencing a level of anxiety and emergency that a large part of this population is oblvious to. The CNN watchers. The MSNBC people. My neighbors spend their weekends getting high and wearing masks to games. But I know this- if they knew what I knew, they would not still have their Biden Harris sign on their garage window. They are not down with election theft, one party rule, rule by unelected elite, lawlessness generally or even any of the predicatble (to us) follow on consequences of HR1 passing.

    It’s a frustrating knowledge gap we’re trying to close (and getting deplatformed in the process). Just the fact of deplatofrming is their biggest tell, isn’t it? They know that my neighbors better than they know themselves (so its claimed). So the deplatforming can only mean that our message is a terrifying threat which cannot be permitted to travel. That’s because they know if my neighbors understood reality, they’d be pissed.

    So now we have an enemy who has picked a fight not just with us, but with reality itself. Sounds like an exhausting job. Looking over the historical record it appears to me that such efforts are doomed to failure. They have to keep up the lie about literally everything, from Hunter Biden’s laptop to Afghanistan to the election fraud to the question- do masks work ? Each one of these takes an army of people to maintain and they have to maintain them all effectively forever. In Nov. 1963 everyone though LHO shot Kennedy. Five years later, no one did. And that was owing to the efforts of a small coterie of reseachers. They’ve picked fights with smart doctors and smart research scientists all over the world with COVID and Ivermectin. The’ve picked fights with computer experts and public intellectuals and the market itself with their insane quest to silence everyone who says anything about anything.

    It’s all going to come down. Once you realize NPR lied to you about one topic, do you trust them on the others ? OK they’ve intimidated the doctors and researchers for now, but look at their long term prospects. Then come the defections from the inside…..

    It’s about legitimacy. Illegitimate governments cannot sustain themselves except through draconic measures. Either they’re willing to kill more than half this nation or they’re going to lose. We don’t even need to draw a line in the sand and engage them in brinksmanship because they’ve already done it to themselves. I believe this is called backing yourself into a corner. They’re strategic morons. We’re going to keep on revealing the truth, finding better and more effective ways to reach people, go on creating the future and gradually, then all at once, normies will put the pieces together and when they do we’ll be prepared with a vision of the future which is not alienating and unacceptably stringe to them.

    The qualities we have which make us what we are are distributed on a Bell curve in the general population. We’re all bunched up on the right side of that Bell curve for all those qualities. What that means is it’s not about us, it’s about the rest of the population. The fate of the nation rests in what they think and believe. One, just one, of our many jobs is to communicate a clear and acceptable vision to them about how things could be and why they should be that way. To do that we have to harmonize amongst ourselves if we can.

    • Charles Haywood says

      I am actually drafting a piece on legitimacy now, although whether I’ll complete it I’m not sure.

  29. Publius says

    >Chaos is going to be the inevitable result–hopefully short and sharp.

    Getting to the core of differences is important and here we arrive at one. I certainly can imagine that you’re right, meaning I can *imagine* such a state of affairs as an accurate description of the world, but I don’t accept that in fact it is.

    The article on legitimacy you linked to yesterday, I think, the one by the Swede, gives a sense of what kind of opportunities are opening us to us. The entire Wilsonian Progressive edifice is crumbling. With it will go the Absurdist play our society has become with “birthing people” and all the rest. They both rest on the idea that human nature is infinitely malleable and for this reason, men can, on the one hand, ( be trusted to ) take leave of the Founder’s understanding of the constancy of human nature as a factional and power-seeking thing, and on the other, have babies.

    When that world view comes down, we’re going to be left with the technical debt we’ve always had. What Charles Kessler termed our lack of a “high, clear and overarching cause”. This is something we can think through and arrive at an answer to.

    Our answer is composed of three parts. One is the grounding in modern evolutionary biology which shows that people cannot be trusted, just as the Founders claimed and Western philosphers have always known. It’s too detailed to present here but solidly based in both ancient wisdom and modern science, not to say Scientism.

    The second is an exposition of what constitutes the good life or a vision of the world sufficiently detailed, familiar, and appealing to get people of good will to want to move in from wherever they are on the political spectrum. This life has always been implict to conservatives as an “I know it when I see it” standard but never really worked out for a variety of reasons. We can do this but again too much for this space. It involves amongst other things a detailed exploration of what people do do from moment to moment with their waking consciousness, the innate and varied limits of tolerance by humans for purposeful, effortful activity and the accumulation of attachment, affinity and meaning which does or does not accrue inside each individual as a result of how they spend their time. The third is really an elaboration of the Founder’s protection of individual Rights in the face of all the various Leviathans individuals now have to face off against. Only eusocial insects will ever realize a Socialist / Communist standard of selflessness to the State or Higher Purpose. For flesh and blood human beings we have to accommodate their inherently and appropriately selfish (in the sociobiological sense of that word) concerns with their own well being and flourishing, which is where all human progress ultimately dervives from.

    Like I said, it’s good to know where fundamental differences lie and to hear the clearest exposition of the counter argument.

    Charles even if you did arrive through some unlikely chain of events at your Augustian moment, you’d still be just like the Biden Administration who caught the bus. In the final scene of the movie “The Candidate”, as the confetti and streamers and cheers roil around him, the winning candidate Robert Redford turns to his advisors and in a quiet voice says, “What do we do now?”. Answering that question has to be the first order of business because aithout a detailed answer to it, beyond dealing with our wretched elites, absent a reproducible via postivia for people as they actually are, nothing has changed except the players .

    • Charles Haywood says

      Largely true, although I think you are too negative about social trust and virtue. A virtuous society, led by a virtuous ruling class, with a reasonable degree of common goals, doesn’t ask itself what Redford does (who, after all, was a puppet in that movie, one made to exemplify the left-wing view of the world and politics). Instead, it gets on with achieving its goals–with a good degree of friction, corruption, and muddling through, yes, but still gets on with its goals. Thus, when “it all comes down” is only the first step; if we don’t get a renewal, it doesn’t really matter what we do, because while reality may force a bit more compliance with reality, what will replace the current system won’t be all that much better. You get at this in your second point, I think.

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