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What to Do When Caesar Comes

(Image by Daniel Voshart; see note)

[This article was published last year in the new magazine Asylum. I print it at our main site for those who may have missed it, and I am also including, for the first time for this piece, audio and video versions. It is a companion to my On the Future Ascent of a Caesar.]

Is a Caesar, an authoritarian reconstructor of our institutions, soon to step onto the American stage? A betting man would say yes. The debilities of our society are manifold and will inevitably result in fracture and chaos. History tells us that such times call forth ambitious and driven men, who in the West usually aspire to reconstruction and dynasty, not mere extraction, what is usually featured in primitive societies. As Napoleon said of his accession to Emperor, “I came across the crown of France lying in the street, and I picked it up with my sword.” In human events, past performance is always a key predictor of future results. But neither you nor I is going to be Caesar, so this truth raises the crucial question for us—what to do when Caesar comes?

Michael Anton has recently popularized, in his seminal book The Stakes, the concepts of Blue Caesar and Red Caesar, authoritarians of Left and Right. If Blue Caesar were to take power, that would be very bad for all decent Americans, and we could put into practice many of the tips from Robert Conquest’s 1985 What to Do When the Russians Come, a serious book of advice about what to do had the Soviets occupied America.

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But I am not afraid of Blue Caesar; his rule would be very clownish and very brief. No Left authoritarian system has ever been even slightly competent; a system based on an ideology that denies reality is doomed from inception, eating its seed corn from the beginning, and that is particularly true of today’s uniquely insane American Left. That none of today’s prominent American leftists can be imagined as Caesar without laughing proves this. Even a new, highly competent man of the Left, a modern Lenin or Stalin, could gain no traction today; he would be unable to convincingly shed his white privilege or to adequately elevate the voices of crying wine aunts, and thus nobody on the Left would follow him. If a determined or desperate man of the Left were to ignore this truth, and attempt to override the fatties and the furries by force, very soon a circular, but intersectional, firing squad would leave all dead on the ground.

Red Caesar, on the other hand, is likely. Despite his moniker, he will not be driven by an ideology (and Red Caesar will, without any doubt whatsoever, be a he). He will probably be some measure of realist and opportunist, but realism makes him Right, because realism means he will reject out of hand the entire panoply of today’s Left beliefs. He won’t have any familiar ideology, because there are no ideologies remaining on the Right (Randian objectivism and Austrian-school economics do not count). Red Caesar will have focuses, hobbyhorses, opinions, favored groups, and angles, to be sure, but he is unlikely to be the slave of an ideology, any more than his namesake, Julius Caesar, was.

Or is that the correct namesake? I think only in part. Julius Caesar broke the Roman world, or rather mercifully opened the arteries of a dying Republic. Octavian, Augustus Caesar, after a variety of succession struggles, rebuilt a new thing, informed by the wisdom of the old. He was helped by luck, talent, and personality, to be sure, but he was the indispensable man in the transition from dead-end Republic to successful Empire. Which of these two men best represents Red Caesar? Hopefully both. We cannot know what Julius Caesar would have done with his power, and perhaps he would have taken a track similar to Augustus, but we can hope for some combination of our two historical precedents, resulting in an Augustan Age.

Is there a third option, Purple Caesar, who will try to split the difference? No, not for us. Our differences cannot be split; there can be only one. The insanity of today’s Left, which is merely the inevitable end stage of Enlightenment thought and which will be reached again and again until that dead end in human history is destroyed and cauterized, cannot coexist with reality and a healthy society. Yet the Left will never stop pushing towards its chimerical utopia, so dividing the baby, keeping some Left principles while rejecting others, would merely delay the inevitable final confrontation and disposition of Left ideas to the trash bin. It’d be like putting a scented bandage on a gangrenous limb—you may not see or smell the trouble anymore, but you still have a big problem.

True, Caesar will not be a Right restorationist, which will make some sad. He will have no statues of William F. Buckley and Abraham Lincoln in his palace; he will not fulfil fantasies of integralists. He’ll just ignore Right restorationists. They are no threat to him—the only restorationist threat to Caesar will be the American Left, which has held power for nearly a hundred years. As to today’s Right, likely he will, like Francisco Franco and António Salazar, coerce and browbeat all elements of the Right, and the few remaining centrists, into a party of national unity, where Bronze Age Pervert and Adrian Vermeule will be made to get along.

Let’s not get too excited about Caesar, though. This will be a high-risk, high-reward time of history; such times inevitably are. As with his namesakes, though we tend to gloss over their sins, he will be unpleasant in many ways, and in more ways than we would like. For the Left, certainly, he will be very unpleasant indeed. He may retain the rule of law, as Franco did, but even then, both the interests of justice and of Caesar himself (cementing power most of all) will dictate punishments. But in truth the rule of law is likely to bend, if not break at some places and times; Caesarism doesn’t work in the long term unless the Left is wholly gone and totally discredited, and Caesar will, at least sometimes, therefore resort to proscription and extra-legal action, as did Augustus, despite his more benevolent later reputation. Most Left leaders will be exiled, if they’re lucky, and regardless, for all the Left, Caesar will be a nightmare—lustration and rustication is the best many can hope for, and the rest will have to earn an honest living. (Those who merely tend Left by fashion will quickly adopt the new fashion, and forget their former opinions.) But who cares about the Left’s fate? They’ve earned their reward. My question is how innocent, normal Americans will be affected by Caesar.

The average unimportant person, who is not ideological and is not a parasite, won’t have to worry much about Caesar. In fact, his life is likely to improve. If he works for a large corporation, true, the old owners may be expropriated, but so what? The entire odious Human Resources department will disappear, after all, replaced with a small team of payroll clerks. He will no longer be forced to attend anti-white hate sessions and made to watch while those far inferior to him are elevated above him on the basis of preferred characteristics. Nobody will watch his social media for infractions against the ever-shifting ideology of his masters. His taxes may go down. What’s not to like? Yes, the switchover to the new system may have cost him dear, the more so if it was violent, and yes, other unsettling changes may come over time, but his daily existence will, on the whole, improve. True, if you make your living, as a huge number of Americans do, as a parasite, performing some non-productive activity that adds nothing to social capital, you will likely have to find a new occupation less to your taste, but that’s a feature, not a bug.

We should note, though, that during the time of Caesar’s establishment, and after, the common people will have an important collective role. We should not forget how the common people, putatively without power or role, made the position of Caesar’s assassins untenable, and therefore ensured a new thing for a new time. The support of public opinion is a useful, nearly indispensable, tool for transition from a man leading a change from one form of government to another. As José Ortega y Gasset said, force follows public opinion, even where popular sovereignty is not a principle of government, and Caesar will need to have, and maintain, force to achieve his goals. If well-done, this symbiosis between the common people and Caesar creates a beneficial feedback loop, without directly involving any of the common people in governance.

It’s the important person who should have more concern than the average or common person. In such times, a higher profile is both opportunity and risk. Those not average, due to wealth, talent, or status, who are not Left will still find that neutrality is mostly not an option, even if they do not seek gain by getting in Caesar’s good graces. They will have to bend the knee, whether they want to or not, for not doing so risks being seen as potentially dangerous to Caesar, and that is, well, dangerous. More direct dubious effects are certain as well. For example, Caesar will almost certainly face economic crises, both during the takeover and as irrationality is squeezed out of the system. He will therefore have a strong incentive to fund himself by seizing property of the wealthy. Perhaps seizing the property of dead or exiled leftists will be enough; it was in Roman times. But a rich man should fear Caesar making requests, that are not requests, for “contributions,” and a talented man should ponder whether he may be “encouraged” to lend his talents to the new order. Caesar can’t afford to have his system feature too much such instability for long, but for some time at least the upper orders will rest uneasy, even if they are supporters of the new order.

Complicating all his actions, and a new thing in history, is that Caesar will face a nearly irresistible urge to adopt today’s surveillance state, in both its government and private manifestations, for his own ends. The totalitarian temptation is very strong, and because Caesar will know that, for a long time at least, his life depends on maintaining his power, he is unlikely to refuse to use any tool, no matter how objectively problematic it is for keeping a decent society. For the same reason, he will likely adopt the gun seizure goals of today’s Left, perhaps limiting firearm ownership to those enrolled in supportive organized militias. This would not be the future American gun rights advocates wanted, but the American habit of unbridled private weapon ownership is, despite its very apparent virtues for us today, a historical anomaly, and for obvious reasons. These actions, combined with a turn to paranoia (not uncommon for authoritarians as they age) or a defective successor (equally, if not more, common) could easily result in a society not much better than the one in which we now live, obviating any benefit we got from Caesar. That would be unfortunate.

Beyond these and other costs and risks for individual citizens, Caesar will face many management problems, the poisonous fruits of our current system, dealing with which will directly affect the populace, changing their relative positions. For example, if Caesar rules a land more or less contiguous with today’s America, he will face a core problem of any large country—diversity is the very opposite of strength. Yes, the citizenry’s daily life will become largely depoliticized (both because the average person would have no role whatsoever in politics and because politicization of everything is a project of the then-disappeared Left), removing that corrosive element, but many cultural, racial, regional, and economic differences would remain. The likely result, encouraged by Caesar, would be a move to some type of organization resembling the Ottoman millet system, where citizens self-organize on the basis of what they regard as core characteristics, and interact with the government on that basis, with considerable self-rule within their communities. Think the Amish or the Hasidim writ large. The problem, of course, is that this is not to the taste of many. But that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Still, such a communitarian reorganization may not be enough to allow stable rule; even with its decent historical pedigree, quasi-decentralization has no successful modern analogue, and Caesar may have a centralizing impulse, a desire to bind the new Americans together more strongly. He won’t be able to sell the old myth of America as a propositional nation with popular sovereignty. So what could he replace it with? In practice, some type of corporatism embedded in a myth of the nation, probably, and maybe he will come up with some new binding belief. He could push Space as a unifying action, the new, high frontier, or he could push some kind of refreshed national consciousness to override differences, or, less pleasantly, he could force homogeneity by pushing out elements of the society deemed, perhaps artificially, incompatible with his new vision. The risks here are high, though the rewards are, too, if the right path is found.

Whatever other actions he takes, though, Caesar’s first management problem will be to reverse our current grossly inadequate birth rates. Population decline will very shortly destroy any society, not least because dynamism is purely a function of a society skewed toward the youth (so long as they are formed in virtue), and our low birth rates are a function of corrosive autonomic individualism, which a wise Caesar will see is incompatible with civilizational success, and thus with his success, and glory. If he can succeed in fixing this problem, which would require a wholesale revision of the opinions of the populace, away from dead Left doctrines to virtue, he can likely succeed in other reality-based revisions. If he can’t, nothing he does will matter anyway. It’s a good test for his rule.

Again, though, let’s not have too rosy a vision. Even though a wise Caesar will restore virtue to the citizenry, there is no reason to assume Caesar himself will be any paragon of virtue. If he begins with virtue, he will very likely be corrupted, at least to some degree, over time. He is unlikely to be a Cincinnatus or a George Washington, a man who gave up his power by choice in his prime. He’s not even likely to be Sulla, who retired from being dictator and while dictator famously, despite his many enemies, regularly appeared in public without a bodyguard. This is, perhaps, unfortunate, but it cannot be helped. Better a dubious ruler than a wholly rotten society that is heading into the pit of chaos.

Every political change is a throw of the dice; utopian visions are for fools, but some stepping into the unknown must be done, and that with optimism and hope. There is no shame in staking our future on a chance. Better that we choose action, and even odds for a greatly improved society, with little chance for a worse society, than doing nothing, and getting a ninety-nine percent odds of our debased current society hurtling downward along existing trend lines. What to do when Caesar comes? In short—celebrate, and then get down to dealing with new reality, each doing our best, as we are situated, to advance our society and our fellow citizens. This simple vision was once assumed to be our collective goal, and with luck, we can build on the lessons of the past to create a renewed future.

(Credit for the image of Gaius Julius Caesar to Daniel Voshart, whose photorealistic images of Roman emperors (and one proto-emperor), generated by computer-analyzing extant images, are very valuable and interesting.)]

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  1. Andreas Kriefall says

    Noticeably absent from this rather vague and abstract analysis are the names Trump, Putin, and Republican Party. I’m not sure why you think it’s preferable to pretend that an American Caesar would or could stride onto the national and global stage entirely outside of our current context and somehow conform to your dreamy speculations about things like “citizen virtue” and a “wise Caesar” rather than to extrapolations from what we see going on all over the world today, and in our nation itself.

    If—granting your assumptions about the entirely vacuous and necessarily transient (ultimately irrelevant) basis of the Left—the American national future will be shaped by a more or less benevolent right wing dictator, then I suggest you reckon with features of authoritarian rule that are every day more and more prevalent on the world stage and in US politics, perhaps most obviously visible in the hero of this year’s CPAC, Victor Orban, his neo-Soviet authoritarian big brother, Vladimir Putin, and their slavish American imitator, Donald Trump (I’ve read more than a dozen of your sophisticated political analyses and book reviews and never yet seen you mention, even in passing, the 45th President. I’m not sure why that is. Enlighten me.).

    Right wing power in the contemporary (global and US) scene has several readily identifiable features and constituencies, all of them relevant in my view to your theme here of an American Caesar:

    1. LOATHING. Your analysis lacks any reference to anti-immigrant xenophobia & scapegoating politics of grievance, persecution, paranoia, passionate fear of “replacement,” and MAGA or Putin’s “Great Russia” restorationist fantasies. Any Caesar will almost certainly have to, at least as a first step to power, win an election, and if he is rightist, that will very likely conform at some (pretty deep) level to Trump’s Republican Party takeover via the marshaling and fervid fomenting of unbridled populist hatreds. After garnering an impressive 75 million votes in 2020, the Trumpian GOP is not simply going to disappear or evaporate. If you’re right that the Left is eo ipso doomed and the future is a Red Caesar, then the mass mobilizing forces of Trumpian Republicanism will have to grow and prevail.

    2. RELIGIOUS NATIONALISM. Fundamentalist Christian nationalism has provided the US right wing with a rock solid (if demographically tenuous because rapidly aging and economically weakening) popular base, one evidently hungering and thirsting not so much for what Christ called righteousness, but rather for the Great Leader who will *destroy* (probably your “lustration and rustication” solution will by no means satisfy the masses who vote in your Caesar) the secular Left, Antichrist, and scientific humanism. Only apocalyptic and cultural war in the name of a fantasized restoration of a Christian US republic will have any chance of moving and organizing this substantial popular political base in support of an American Caesar. Precisely this kind of politicized religious ideology is obviously at work today not only in the US but in (proto)authoritarian systems like those in Turkey, Russia, Hungary, Poland, and elsewhere.

    3. BIG MONEY. Whether in the form of what Nancy MacLean analyzes in Democracy in Chains (a Pinochet-style oligarchy), or what Jane Mayer catalogues in Dark Money (Koch brothers’ billionaire club conspiracy), or what Catherine Belton studies in her close analysis of Putin’s rise via a monetized KGB and kleptocratic set of banks and national industries (rule by corrupt—and criminally compromised—oligarchs carefully controlled by a canny dictator)—no American Caesar will rise to power without subjugating and exploiting the massive concentrated wealth of the .1% and their control of nearly half the US’ resources. Your fanciful evocation of a (at best) wise Caesar is fantastically unencumbered by economic powers that be, but in today’s hugely interconnected global networks of trade and capital flows, the self-conceived “masters of the universe” will not simply step aside for some political upstart indifferent or inimical to their interests. Caesar will need funding and economic firepower. Julius Caesar himself famously said the margin of profit in any enterprise is government subsidy, and every effective right wing institution—from the Federalist Society to big oil corporations to the Republican Party—is a carefully organized marriage of big money and government power.

    Put these rather dark, malevolent, and conspiratorial forces together—and I haven’t even mentioned (nor did you) the Pentagon and the US’ sprawling 1 trillion dollar a year military industrial complex—and your American Caesar has scant chances of playing out in anything like the terms you envisage.

    • Charles Haywood says

      I am surprised you read, and comment, here, after I took you to the woodshed on the comment you made a while back about Girard. Yet here we are, and certainly the effort you put in deserves a response. And I have to say that given your apparent distaste, I am complimented you have read “more than dozen” of my pieces!

      1) Most of what you say is either irrelevant or weirdly channeling of falsehoods in common usage in the regime media.

      2) Several items you mention are directly addressed in my companion piece referenced, On the Future Ascent of a Caesar.

      3) The idea that Viktor Orbán is authoritarian shows breathtaking ignorance and naivete. I notice you offer no evidence, just repeat regime media talking points. In fact, Orbán is at least two full orders of magnitude less authoritarian than the current American regime, with its Stasi/FBI agents, perverted Department of “Justice,” corporate-governmental cooperation to suppress speech and demand compliance with regime dictates, and so on. And even Putin is far less authoritarian, and far more popular with the people of his country, than the current American regime. (It goes without saying that Trump isn’t authoritarian at all; it always amazes me people can say that with a straight face. It might be desirable had he been, but to claim it as truth is like saying the moon is made of green cheese. And Trump does get mentioned by me from time to time, mostly fairly negatively. There is a cool function called “search” on the site; try it sometime!)

      4) You attempt to supplement my piece with three characteristics you think likely in an ascendant right-wing authoritarian in America. Your first is the idea that he would have to channel “hatreds,” apparently against immigrants (though you are somewhat unclear as to the supposed target). I mention this in the article, actually. I point out that diversity is not our strength, and a Caesar might use this as a binding mechanism for part of the country. But the idea that being opposed to being invaded, against the law, by millions of aliens, is somehow bad or hateful, is dumb. Americans have every right and reason to resist immigration, both legal and illegal, and most Americans want to do so, to a greater or lesser degree. The Uniparty (that is, the regime and their Republican handmaids and catamites) betrays the American people continuously by refusing to implement policies to defend American interests. Any successful right politician on the Right knows this and will stand for the people. Why you think this is bad is beyond me, although you do offer a list of content-free buzzwords like “grievance” and “paranoia,” which are not useful. As usual, you don’t say what you think the system should be.

      5) Your ranting about so-called religious nationalism makes no sense and comports with no reality. You obviously understand nothing about this topic. Certainly, Christians are greatly persecuted today, and they resent that. So what?

      6) The insane idea that the American Right commands even a tiny fraction of the money, or related assets such as oligarchical power, the Left commands is exactly that. I mean, really? The Left completely dominates all centers of power in America, whether governmental (the real government, the administrative state and the security/intelligence agencies), corporate, academic, cultural, and so forth. But if you mean that an American Caesar will need to confiscate by force the money and all other assets garnered by the rich on the Left during their years of misrule—YES, YES, YES, A THOUSAND TIMES YES! And he won’t need their consent. He’ll need guns, and people willing to use them. Those matters are discussed, as I say, in my companion piece.

      7) I’m not sure what you see playing out; you carefully avoid that topic, as well as, really, any direct engagement with what I say. Ah well.

  2. Andreas Kriefall says

    Well, I guess I’m glad that you avoided contemporary events and examples in the pieces of yours I’ve read: the moment you touch on them you descend into cliches & inanities of Breitbartian proportions—what a bore…. At least when you are fantasizing about what a splendid Christian warlord you would make, or celebrating the Crusades as the high point of Western civilization, your writing has some interest in its colorful bombast and supremely confident fantasies of revenge on the satanic armies of the Left. It’s not every day one comes across this combination of wide historical reading and sublimely articulate yet ridiculous generalizations about reality-free Triumphs of the Will.

    I didn’t see your reply to the Girard comment of yore—I hadn’t yet pressed the right buttons to receive notices of replies. I’ve looked at it now, and am happy to rise up from my alleged spanking with a retort. I’m very interested in Girard, have read about a dozen of his books—though had only just purchased Satan/Lightning before reading your quite excellent review of it. As long as you are examining others’ works you demonstrate a very fine intelligence—so as long as I stick to that plane I’ll keep reading and enjoying your insightful reviews, and just scroll past your unintentionally comical references to current events.

    It’s very amusing of you to imagine (and to confess outright) that you had smashed and humbled me forever with one mighty reply—but rather than vanish or quail before thee, I will study the Girard texts you cite (and the chapters they come from), and get back to you with what I think is a far more fair and balanced interpretation.

    Your comments on Floyd and Chauvin are beneath contempt, so we will pass over those, but your reading of Girard is much more substantial and worth a dialogue.

    Ave, Andreas

    • Charles Haywood says

      But I will say, if you do return, you will be the first of hundreds who have said to me “just wait a minute and I will get back to you,” who has ever actually followed through and returned. That in itself will be an honorable accomplishment. However, it is somewhat of a disappointment that you intend to focus merely on Girard, abandoning your extensive other bizarre claims. Ah well. Better half a loaf than none.

  3. Andy says

    I think that parts of this are balanced and evenhanded, but I have a hard time agreeing with this line: “Better that we choose action, and even odds for a greatly improved society, with little chance for a worse society”.

    Yes, there are severe problems in America today. Yes, it is not paradise. Yes, significant reforms are necessary. However, I disagree that there is little chance for a worse society than what we have in America today. In world history, and even now, how many societies have allowed their people as much freedom and opportunity? Where have people been as free to gather around God’s Word and Sacraments in the church? Where have people been as able to start new businesses and invent new things? Where has it been as easy to raise children with a Christian education?

    When I look at history and the rest of the world today, it seems like there are a lot of ways for society to get worse and many reasons to be careful about what we destroy. Action is needed, but action should be within our spheres of influence, in our homes, churches, schools, businesses, and local communities, not in national revolution. In other words, I think we can and should do this right now: “get down to dealing with new reality, each doing our best, as we are situated, to advance our society and our fellow citizens.”

    • Charles Haywood says

      Thank you (I think).

      1) Americans are not “free to gather around God’s Word and Sacraments in the church.” Leaving aside government suppression of religious gatherings during the Wuhan Plague, no American in the professional-managerial elite may show himself as an actual believing Christian without paying a substantial price in the workplace, and this trend is accelerating rapidly, leaking outside the PME and increasing in ferocity.

      2) You overstate both how much “freedom and opportunity” there is now in America, and assume that, despite all evidence to the contrary, that the Left will not squeeze out what freedom and opportunity remains. We can be certain, for example, that the Left intends to forbid Christian education, because they say so. (I will admit, however, as I have noted before, that I am somewhat mystified that homeschooling has not yet been a major focus of the Left.)

      3) I think chances are very good for a better society because I think that we’re going to win, and that there is enough virtue left in America to make that possible. But the idea that, given that the Left commands all the heights of our society, we can work within our own “spheres of influence” to win, is mere cope. We tried that. It didn’t work, because the Left is interested in winning, while we are, or were, interested in comity and process. Time for us to be interested in winning.

  4. Drew C says

    (Re-posting – please delete if original was on hold rather than lost)

    Hi, I’ve been running late in getting my comments in, so let me jump in here, even though I meant to comment two posts ago.

    First, thanks for the posts and the reviews and the example of sharing your reading and thoughts. You have led me to order and read some of the books.

    I am also a fan of Mr. Greer and occasionally comment on his site. I share the “consensus” of this site that Mr. Greer has a blind spot that even if there is no silver bullet, there are other post 1970’s possibilities to have a successful large scale technological society on a basis other than tapping currently accessible oil. Fracking is an example of being able to kick the can further down the road. I also share the “consensus” that the difficulty is more in how to have a large-scale society.

    For a young man – how to find a path to support faith and family when you can’t trust the system? I am less certain than you on how fast the crisis will come – having believed back in the 90’s that our k-12 public school system would be replaced in the 2000s. My milder advice would be that the default paths of recent decades will likely not serve you, so go in with your eyes open and not believing promises if you believe the best path is to pick up a credential.

    I don’t expect a Caesar of any color in the near future, but I’m more confident in my inability to predict than that prediction. I think of myself as engaged in enjoyable insurance more than as prepping, even if the end result may be the same.

    Thanks again and may we all enjoy our books and bees for decades to come.
    Drew C

    • Charles Haywood says

      Thank you, and interesting thoughts. I am not sure what happened to any previous comment; sorry if they got vaporized somehow.

  5. Robert says

    “Some type of corporatism embedded in a myth of the nation”? I almost spit my coffee out when I heard that on the podcast. Did he really just say that?
    And I am surprised that your interlocutor above did not notice it.

    He is hard to follow. Reading between the lines, his lengthy commentary really only communicates this: “I like things the way they are. In fact, things are getting better every day.” Embedded in characterizing places like Hungary and Turkey as degraded tyrannies, is the implication that the West, as it is, should be and is the model. That the America of today, the EU, etc… are not degenerate, are not tyrannical. That’s funny.
    His is a preference, to which there is no real useful purpose in dialoguing. The terms and reasonings are not shared.

    • Andreas Kriefall says

      As I said directly to Charles already myself, his perfectly ludicrous assertions about contemporary geopolitics—eg that Putin’s reconstructed KGB oligarchic authoritarian rule by post truth propaganda, Kremlin-run courts, mass murder &war crimes in places like Chechnya, Syria and Ukraine, and criminal kleptocracy is less tyrannical than Biden’s America—are silly to the point of total vacuity. So your redundant claim that dialogue on such matters is not worth having, which is pretty much exactly what I already said, is exemplary in reaffirming the obvious.

      Wherever Right authoritarians have been taking over—Assad in Syria, Modi in India, Duterte in the Philippines, Bolsaro in Brazil, Orban in Hungary, and granddaddy dictator Putin in Russia, their ascent has been accompanied by orgies of anti-Semitism, scapegoating of immigrants or other minority groups, extra-judicial murder, war on civilians in Syria w Russian assistance, mass propaganda and disinformation, state control of the press and the courts, vote rigging, and the crushing of human rights and dignity in the populace.

      To imagine that an American Caesar will rise up, quickly and efficiently purge and dispossess the “Left” and instill citizen virtue from on high—rather than drag America into a Putinesque nightmare of political repression, social vilification, and utter destruction of human rights and freedoms—is childish fantasy, harmless really in its irrelevance to the real world, but also not really worth debating, as you correctly point out.

  6. Phillip Hubbell says

    The weakness of the population as a whole makes both the coming Caesar and wholesale destruction inevitable. I see mobs raging through the suburbs thinking the reaction of a new government will be as ineffective as the old. It would necessarily get very ugly very fast. I find myself welcoming old age.

  7. Arthur Rutherford Jermin says

    Sir, with all due respect, you manufacture bottles for hair care and skin care products. You may become a guru on the level of Warren Buffett, but that does not make you a public intellectual philosopher king. The silly part is that the masses have a distaste for the same ‘cultural elitist’ academics as you do, and, much worse, have a taste for philosopher CEOs and business messiahs such as your jokingly pretend not to be. This puts your pseudo Aristotelian Nietzschean Christian aristocratic virtue ethic into a deeply embarrassing situation. Your fans and co-conspirators in creating the new elite to guide the masses into the light of gratitude in subservience are intellectually drawn to the lowest philosophic elements and have an aversion for the highest elements; indeed, to the timeline of the Western philosophical tradition which includes the Continental philosophy ya’ll dismiss because it goes over your heads. Now, really sir, what kind of Elite are all y’all trying to be? Because remember that, for all the talk of resolute commitment to higher cultural values, the Nazis came off in history as just a gang of thugs.

    • Charles Haywood says

      The first word here is, at least, appropriate. The rest? Better not spoken of.

    • Andreas Kriefall says

      Arthur, I’m in your debt for the fine label you devise here: “pseudo Aristotelian Nietzschean Christian aristocratic virtue ethic” is an apt summary of Charles’ preposterous, if marvelously erudite, intellectual farrago of a philosophy. Bravo. I agree that, in the event (thankfully imaginary), all the high falutin talk about restoring citizen virtue would end up, just as you say, merely covering over the usual brutality and mendacity without which right wing dictators cannot rise or strive to perpetuate their criminal regimes.

  8. I agree with much of your article. The US of today very much reminds me of the 1900’s political situation in many spanish speaking countries. Just with a cultural marxist anglo-saxon spin.

    The major question here in the transition to caesarism is the topic of race relations. You believe that the Millet system could work. In order for this to work, a great number of American communities will have expectations that will be unsatisfied. You did mention that various alt right groups would be forced to cooperate. This is also especially applicable to the groups that wish to leech off of those who build significant infrastructure. They would be made to respect the new system and the consequences of poor decision making. The loss in their status could result in interesting outcomes.

    Under various circumstances, my prediction would be the exponential growth of specific regions while other regions decay significantly. We already see this right now. It’s just not as substantial as it will be soon.

    • Charles Haywood says

      Yes, race relations is very thorny, because, as you say, of expectations that have been inculcated. A millet system does not imply economic or political equality.

      Yes, we would certainly see very significant differentials by geography, not only in population.

  9. How would a millet system work for individuals who, due to their ethnic makeup or cultural presentation, straddle categories of racial or ethnic backgrounds?

    I specifically am curious about individuals who are of mixed-race descent, or who are European in origin but not considered “white” by some Anglo-Americans (white Hispanics, Ashkenazis, etc). The “one-drop” rule is entirely insufficient when dealing with something as nuanced as race or ethnicity.

    Is this millet a self-guided elective system? Does one get to choose their category? Does one have to prove their genetic lineage? I can attest that many Americans have no ability to do so.

    The corollary question to this is, would categories of ethnicity be more appropriate than “color”? What about categories of religion?

    Thank you for considering these questions on an older post. I enjoyed your interview with Auron!

    • Charles Haywood says

      In practice, they would have to choose. I’m hardly an expert in this, but I expect this is why Orthodox Jews require the mother to be a Jew, to count as a Jew—it creates a bright-line rule who is in the community or not. I’d expect in America a millet system to have broader, rather than narrower, categories—more or less whites, blacks, and Hispanics, with maybe some religious lines as well, because no doubt a religious revival would have occurred if this became possible. Not clear to me where, say, Jews or Muslims would fit—in a separate group, or in some kind of ethnic group.

      It’ll surprise nobody to say this system leaves a lot out that would have to be decided. I suspect in practice, since what will emerge from the lands that were America is several countries, that there will be geographic self-selection, making each successor entity somewhat (but not at all entirely) homogenous. Although it sounds like a silly libertarian fantasy, one could argue this would keep the ruling caste helpful, rather than harmful, to minority groups, since presumably in many cases they might find another successor entity more to their taste otherwise. (Again, surprising no one, this has happened again and again to the Jews, generally to the detriment of the place they leave.)

      But this would require a lot more thought to work out, and I don’t really think that’s profitable thought, although it’s certainly interesting. That is, what will be along these lines will necessarily develop mostly organically, so we cannot predict the precise parameters. But something like this is the only solution to have a heterogenous society that works.

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