The Leviathan in the Room

Despite the meme of the World entering a New Cold War is becoming every day more widespread, the question of who is who is just becoming intelligible. Communists and Capitalists of the last century enjoyed the clarity of formal alliances: NATO, on one side; and the Warsaw Pact on the other. And, to top it off, the starkness of the Berlin Wall: a concrete symbol (pun absolutely intended) the liquidity of our current state of affairs does not provide.

Russian adventurism in its near abroad during Putin’s stay in power has distracted the American Empire for two decades now. Chechnya, Georgia, Ukraine, Syria… Western mandarins have failed to provide a coherent narrative for this activity: Nostalgic Revanchism? Duginistic Eurasian Manifest Destiny? The rapacious policy of a failing Mafia-State? There might (or might not) be a grain of truth in all of those, but none of these memetic frameworks has the potential to truly mobilize anybody.

And besides, Westerners of the “patriotic” kind won’t be easily persuaded to go die again in places like Afghanistan. If anything, flyover country, red-blooded Americans find it difficult to dislike Mr. Putin’s 007-esque antics. People who admire the likes of Chesty Puller or George S. Patton rarely care much for the values the US Armed Forces are trying to adopt lately.

For today’s news consumer, there’s a more marketable dichotomy between USA and China. The myth of two huge empires always on the brink of apocalyptic destruction resonates deeply in a generation longing for a transcendent conflict. Thucydidean narratives of falling and rising powers make for a clean, easy-to-understand story endlessly (and often mindlessly) repeated by pundits and politicos. It sounds original the first time you hear it and, as with Russia, there might be a grain of truth in it after all.

We love the stories of Athens and Sparta in this blog, too. And, although the movie 300 tried to claim Spartanity for America, it just could not work. Washington DC is just the Constantinople to London’s Rome, and England was always a nation of shopkeepers.

As the Soviet world before it, China has a marginally better claim to the Spartan myth: austere, disciplined, rigid, and proud. The men who fought in China’s 22-year-long civil war and endured Mao’s Long March probably fitted, at least somewhat, the soldier-peasant archetype that made Laconian warriors famous. Is this true for the modern Chinese citizen? Difficult to tell.

What remains true is that Sparta has always fascinated political thinkers, and that political tides have often tried to tap onto its memetic potential – modern China included. There’s something attractive about Sparta’s supposedly competent, trusty, and rigorous nature. And often, this attraction is not only felt by the warrior castes, but also by Brahmins. Love affairs between the intelligentsia and authoritarian regimes are an old tradition, Socrates’ support of Sparta itself being the trope codifier.

There’s something about the cleanliness of discipline, seriousness, and proficiency that appeals to the intellectual. Chinese reputation for meritocracy and for the qualities outlined above has made Sinophilia something of a high-status opinion. Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, as controversial as it appeared, reflected the longings of the American ruling class for a call to excellence.

American-style liberal democracy, with its values of individuality and self-expression, is seen by some as vulgar and complacent at best. At worst, it is perceived as leading to a tyranny of the masses, and a lowest-common-denominator mentality. That the offspring of accomplished, millionaire technolords study mandarin has already become a cliché. Faced with prevalent dysfunctionality, many capable people are ready to welcome their new Chinese Overlords.

Others still see value in the American dream of independence and self-reliance. They believe China’s sclerotic bureaucracy will eventually crumble under its own weight, and think it can’t keep growing without losing its tight grip on its population. In contrast, rugged individualism makes the American system chaotic and inefficient, but ultimately more resilient. Of course, there’s some truth in that, too.

But perhaps, everything is just more of the same. Maybe, just maybe, there’s no Athens and no Sparta anymore, and we are ruled by the same System: a dark accelerating force, pulling from the Future to usher the Age of the Bugman. After all, the Western CEO does not own the company he works in any more than the Chinese party bureaucrat owns his chair. Both survive by managing a small part of a mechanism much larger than themselves, only while certain conditions are met, and usually under an important surrender of personal freedom.

Are forced vaccinations and Facebook thought-police really that different from the Chinese Social Credit System? The joke goes that the Communist Party of China spies and brainwashes on its citizens, but at least they realize it. There was a time one could pretend the West was any different.

There is, as we can see, a kind of convergence between China and the West. We could even say this convergence is more pronounced in Western elites. Is it contempt or envy, what they feel for the Middle Kingdom? Its credentialist system of competent bureaucrats sounds like a New York Times wet dream. Its productive capacity marvels the world. And guess what, despite tariffs and covid, trade is booming.

The real nightmare is to realize we’re not in late Capitalism, but in its early stages. Zooming out, it is possible that we’re in fact seeing the early stages of a global system. The two apparent rivals are in fact two appàratuses of the same organism. A conflagration does not happen because of their mutual dependency, a phenomenon that is well described by everybody, but never explained. Here, we suggest it’s because they are two legs (fins?) of the same Leviathan in the room.

You better believe in Revelations because Salvation is not coming from either side of the Pacific.

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Plague and the City: of Rats and Men

Yersinia pestis is a Gram-negative, non-motile, stick-shaped bacterium. It enjoys vacationing in damp places, riding fleas, and unleashing God’s Wrath on Humanity. The disease it causes, plague, still holds a remarkable grip on culture as the archetypal deadly epidemic. This is partly due to its severity and spectacular symptoms, but also because during the course of History, it has been the cause of various pandemics, all of them originating in Central Asia and spreading fast to Africa and Europe. It is, thus, the quintessential disease of the Old World: a dark barbarian demon, unleashing periodic destruction over civilization like an inscrutable and violent god.

There have been, at least, three high-impact plague pandemics. The first was the Plague of Justinian, which hit the Byzantine Empire in 541 BC. The disease killed off a good 25% percent of the continent’s population, according to some estimates. It spread quickly through Europe, perhaps thanks to Justinian’s globalization efforts, the Renovatio imperii which sought to recover lost Western Roman territories for a unified Empire. Procopius of Caesarea offers in his Secret History some fascinating anecdotes indicating that epidemics, despotic rule, and a venal public life are nothing new under the sun. Rulers do not rise to the occasion, but sink to their natural state.

As a result of the plague ravaging the countryside, agricultural workforce diminished and the price of grain rose astronomically. When confronted with the low tax revenue caused by the massive death toll, Justinian simply made the survivors liable for the part owed by their deceased neighbors. He also made himself inherit a lot of the victims’ property, a measure we commend Procopius for criticizing.

As plague spread around the Mediterranean basin, geopolitical balances were overturned; the Byzantines, who had been close to reuniting the Western and Eastern Roman Empires, were crippled in their restoration efforts. Although the Mediterranean’s Western shores were finally conquered in AD 554, the reunification did not last long. The Goths, who had been pushed back, regrouped and recovered forces. The New Normality of Germanic rule had been firmly established. The transition from Ancient to Medieval Europe was well underway, a Dark Ages version of the Great Reset.

However historically relevant, Justinian’s plague was superseded by a deadlier pandemic 800 hundred years later. This one is probably the most iconic, and was given a name with enormous memetic potential: the Black Death. It started in 1347 and killed off, according to some estimates, between 30 and 40% of Europe’s population.

It is generally agreed upon that the Black Death’s horrible impact was due, in part, to the urbanization process which characterizes this time period. Political, social and economic stability, coupled with improvements in agricultural technology, had led over the centuries to a rising population, and a blooming urban class that lived of trade and manufacture: the bourgeois. Epidemiologically, large interconnected nodes with many people living in them are a recipe for disaster, and this is exactly what happened. Obviously, crowded towns trading with each other caused the disease to spread faster than it would have in a low-density, poorly communicated wasteland.

According to the Progressive mythology, which apparently bases its knowledge of the Middle Ages on Game of Thrones and Monty Python sketches, the Medieval Period was indeed the Dark Ages™: an era of filth, poverty and religious obscurantism. People died of plague because they slept with rats, didn’t bathe, tried to pray away disease, et cetera. This belief neglects the fact that Medieval Europe inherited and developed Roman bathing culture, with soap being a burgeoning industry. Although truly effective sanitary practices were still far down the road, people were not exactly rolling in faeces either.

In fact, arrogant medical establishments are not a recent phenomenon. Rulers have always been corrupt, and academics have always tended to (wrongly) dismiss common-sense. It was the first generations of University-educated physicians who, in Early Modern times, advised against bathing. According to the scientific reasoning of the time, water opened up pores and allowed foul miasmas to enter the body and bring disease. A delicious irony; but we digress.

The thing is, the Crisis of the Late Middle Ages, of which the pandemic was a critical factor, signalled de implosion of a certain Medieval statu quo. It led to all kinds of strife: social, religious and economic. It changed production relations and political forms, and modified the demographic texture of Europe. People -and power- were transferred from a distributed network based on lord-vassal relations to centralized absolutist courts, located in a handful cities which remain power centers even today.

Although urban centers were hit the hardest by the pandemic in terms of mortality, it was the countryside where changes were felt the most. Lacking manpower, the feudal system entered an unstoppable downward spiral. Many belonging to this old agro-military elite, those who were clinging at the edge of the leisure class, simply disappeared, victims to war, famine, and poverty. The survivors reaped the leftovers, accumulating wealth. Titles of nobility became accessible to the bourgeois, who bought them and became rentiers. The City had finally become the center of power. Great Reset II: Renaissance edition was underway.

As a side note, it is a sobering fact to consider that more time passed between Justinian’s Plague and the Black Death, than between the latter and the Current Year™. History has its patterns: the Black Death most likely originated in China and spread to Europe through Italian ports. For a while, it was hypothesized that it might have been caused not by a bacteria but by a hemorrhagic fever-inducing virus, like Ebola. The theory seems to have been abandoned as of late, and there’s even some evidence suggesting that it may not have come from the Far East, after all.

In any case, the third great plague pandemic did originate in China in 1855, also spreading globally due to improved transoceanic communications. This time it caused more than 12 million deaths, a comparatively low number probably reflecting improved hygienic practices in Western cities. Better than those of the 1340s, that is; 19th century European cities were the nightmarish hellscapes that inspired the likes of Dickens or Dostoevsky, after all. How do they compare to the sanitary conditions of a modern slum in a Third World Mega-City? For now, we leave that as an exercise for the reader to ponder.

Due to the many unpleasantries of the 20th century, many of the effects of the social and political consequences of the Third Great Plague went unnoticed or have been mostly forgotten. The Great Reset (episode 3!) was subtle. It came by indirectly catalyzing the most important historical process of the past 100 years: decolonization. Due to widespread availability of Western medicine, governments worldwide, from Hong Kong to Buenos Aires and from Cape Town to Glasgow, had access to the same measures to combat the disease. The key was found to be not the isolation of infected human carriers, but the elimination of the rodent and flea vectors.

Despite similar approaches, the results accross the world were wildly different. Metropolitan administrations in Europe and the US succeeded. Most colonial enclaves, however, failed to convince indigenous populations to accept lockdowns and other Western practices. In many places, after early backlash, authorities quickly resigned to sit back and watch the epidemic burn itself out. This led to dismal loss of life in places like India or South Africa: the early cracks of the British Empire. The Crown could not protect its subjects, and another nail was hammered in the coffin of the White Man’s Burden.

The lopsided impact of the plague made evident, and perpetuated, the inequalities between the metropolis and its overseas territories. The World Health Organization declared the pandemic over by 1960. By then, new cases were only being declared in what soon would be called the Third World, a fact which has remained true until nowadays.

Plague has always spread to other continents by traveling in its preferred animal reserve: the rat. Actually, any rodent that lives in close proximity to humans will do, but the rat is so linked to Humanity’s vicissitudes, that it has become a symbol of disease, filth, and immorality. Its fast rate of reproduction and tendency to cannibalism and aggression made it a synonym of promiscuity and sin to medieval eyes, and this reputation has not changed much since then.

As ultimate urban survivors, rats have the connotations of a certain ethos attributed to crowded urban life: grey, dirty, anonymous, and corrupt. The connection between them, cities, and a degenerate existence is an ancient, perpetually evolving meme. Interesting iterations range from German folk tales about the Rattenkönig to 1984‘s iconic torture scene or neoreactionary musings on “IQ shredders” and the “rat race”.

Interestingly, this contempt is not made extensive to all rodent house pests. There’s plenty of heroic mice in fiction; rats, though, are almost universally bad news. Mice help trapped lions, rescue orphans, and generally save the day. They are adventurous, cute little creatures, willing to take risks despite their lowly status in the Animal Kingdom. Rats, in contrast, are dirty, brutal, often vicious gangsters. More powerful than their mousely brethren, they appear as a sort of jungian shadow on steroids: tough, cunning, and willing to survive by any means necessary.

Thus, while the Country Mouse is a trope as old as Aesop, rats exist in culture as cosmopolitan, rootless vermin. The Country Mouse highlights the simple virtues of rural life, whereas the Rat lacks any wholesome connections to the land. “City Rat” is not a clearly identifiable meme, but it doesn’t spark any particularly positive feelings. The closest term, Hood Rat, is mostly pejorative according to the Urban Dictionary, with racist connotations added as a bonus.

At the root of this divide, one can find echoes of a reactionary narratives of the Industrial Revolution: that of Ancien Règime farmers who left the countryside to become proletarian factory workers in the Industrial Revolution. The healthy, swarthy complexion of the peasant replaced with the black and the red of coal and tuberculosis. The transformation from farmer to worker was thus portrayed as a degradation, directly leading to the totalitarian devastations of the 20th century. The natural answer is, of course, to “Reject Modernity, Retvrn to Tradition”; Tradition being an ideal past decade somewhere between the 1490s (for hardcore radicals) and the 1980s (for normie redpillers).

These superposed counterpoints of Urban vs. Rural and Rat vs. Mouse, when approached as a dichotomy, remain a solid populist memeplex in societies where this division is stark, such as most Western ones. In 2016, Based Flyover Deplorables against Satanic Coastal Elites is the obvious American example, but there are undertones of this in other contexts, the French gilets jaunes uprising being a particularly notorious one.

More or less explicitly, populist sentiment in economic peripheries all accross the West exemplifies this phenomenon. The definition of “Periphery” being expanded to accomodate not only the heavily subsidized countryside, but (post)industrial wastelands aswell. Forming a newborn Center, supra-state Bureaucracies and multinational corporations have been sharing interests for a very long time. Woke Capitalism is just one of many current iterations, like Big Tech or the Military Industrial Complex.

The looming conflict was obvious to anyone paying attention even before the 2008 financial crisis. In this very prescient article we can see how European “Cosmopolitans” have been worrying for a while about “Nationals”. It was first published in 2000, which makes it older than the Iraq War (2003) and Facebook (2004).

Here at The Outpost, we have already explored some of the characteristics of this Capitalist – Communist vector. Reactionary Socialism and all its ressurrected forms have never been more than a temporary hindrance to this Revolution: a stabilizing force. From this standpoint, the Mouse vs. Rat dichotomy starts to feel a bit outdated. The current state of affairs lends itself better to dialectic models than to such a static comparison.

What would be the model rodent for the next phase in this paradigm? It certainly does not dwell in country cottages nor filthy city sewers. Perhaps it’s something like the Lewis Rat. Docile, crowd-tolerating, disease-prone and sterile. Far removed from its badass ancestors, it lives its life (happily?) in a controlled environment, looking for dopamine hits and unvoluntarily participating in occasional, sometimes deadly drug experiments. The mouse’s bold merit and the rat’s gritty struggle for survival are equally alien to it. Its existence is a simulation, and its fate is always a quickly forgotten death.

It makes sense, then, that in this age of deep fakes and simulacra, we should rely on ersatz-plague as motors for change. The real thing is just too much. SARS-CoV-2 is a relatively mild pathogen, when compared to the Yersinia pestis. The world, however, is now more labile than ever to such disturbances; Covid is an opponent worthy enough.

The Third Plague already had a globalized response when information was still running through telegraph lines. Today’s communications have made planet Earth ridiculously small. The effects of any released bioweapon lab leak wet market outbreak are felt accross the globe in real time. Thus, coronavirus has become the final ingredient for the engine of Revolution to reach positive acceleration again. It has become a line of flight for the assemblage of Western realities. Soon shifting to the next gear will be inescapable: a new Great Reset, this time named explicitly as such.

What is to be expected? Perhaps Bruce Sterling said it best when he summarized cyberpunk as this: “Anything that can be done to a rat can be done to a human being. And we can do most anything to rats.” Luckily, runaway rats do exist. After all, lab leaks seem to be all the rage this days.

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Otto Weininger, Red Pill Prophet of the Biopolitical Age

Viennese philosopher Otto Weininger’s (1880-1903) only published work bore the title “Sex and Character: an investigation of fundamental principles”. At that time of blossoming struggle for sex equality, it was obvious at first glance that the book was a pamphlet against women’s emancipation. And indeed, Weininger did not believe in emancipation; the central message of his book, however, was not restricted to social policy, and sounds visionary in the world of Equality Ministries, gender-fluid zoomers, TFW NO GF hysteria, and Bronze Age anti-longhouse samizdat.

Weininger pioneered the notion that, in an individual, there is a proportion of elements from both sexes. Any man, according to Weininger, always had something of a woman in himself. According to his own research, the nature of sexual desire was such that it was not directed towards the opposite sex. Sexual arithmetic, as conceived by him, led to the conclusion that the only sexual attraction possible was the one arising between components of the same sex: the female was always attracted to the feminine aspects of the man. Conversely, the male would always become more attracted to the traces of masculinity present in a woman. In other words: all sexual attraction was homosexual.

As a corollary to this theory, men who were monolithically masculine proved said masculinity through total chastity. Their sexual integrity prevented them from having non-sodomitical sexual relations. And consequently, completing his global analysis, Weininger came to the conclusion that the 20th century’s increasingly liberal stances on sex made it the worst era in history, for they completely devalued the past greatness of male chastity.

Weininger attributed to women many of the misfortunes that plagued humanity, and saw the turn towards a feminization of society as a net negative. The first sign identified by him was a degeneration of aesthetics and politics, which he tied to the advance of anarchism. He saw feminization in the rejection of authority, which manifested itself in the degradation of art, and in political turmoil. Through this views, he also suscribed to the ancient meme of masculinity being the source of the State and the Law.

The very word virtue comes from virtus, in Latin, which shares the same Indo-European root with virilis: virile, manly. Thus, a virtuous woman was necessarily a woman with a trace of the masculine and its traditional attributes: strength, steadiness, order and rationality. It is not mere coincidence that the Capitoline Triad that protected Rome included Minerva and Juno, rational goddesses of the State, Strategy and Wisdom. Figures like Venus (beauty and erotic love), Diana (the moon, fertility and childbirth) or Vesta (the hearth, the home, the family) were excluded from this central role in Roman public religion.

Weininger found unsurprising that the views of those who ruled over the European turn-de-siècle century had no sense of such things. He believed they had been inspired by a feminized vision of History: one characterized by the material and the chthonic, and a particular lack of depth and genius. And in a time when genius was declared a form of madness, he went on, no great artists or philosophers were possible. It was a time of conformity, of minimal originality and great falsehood; when great visions of history, life and science were being transformed by the vulgar influence of economics and technology. In such an era, it was only natural to expect the advancement of Historical Materialism, Capitalism and Marxism: all of them different aspects of a single reality.

Memetic Crystal Ball: a peek into the future of Pablo Iglesias

Narrative is made of tropes, storytelling devices that are recognizable within a specific culture. Thus, a trope is a type of meme; specifically a meme put in the service of a story. Archetypal characters, locations, and situations, such as the Big Bad Wolf , Arcadia, or the Mexican Standoff are all examples of tropes. By the tropes used, one can usually tell when a story is going to end well and when it isn’t, although surprises do happen. A tale is well told when its tropes flow gracefully; this leaves room for creativity and memetic mutation, making the tale interersting.

Narrative lies at the soul of politics, but political narratives (especially democratic ones) are different from literature in that they work best when they are predictable. People feel understandably safer when they think they know where they are going. Lack of meaning is death, so often societies will follow a disastrous course to the bitter end, just to enact the role they think History has given them. The moment a civilization loses confidence in its mission to continue existing, it is doomed: a narrative of decline will take over and people will instinctively fulfill it.

Being able to build and sell a narrative of future success, putting the audience under a memetic spell, is normally conducive to electoral victory. Conversely, if a story has a predictably bad ending –it has cursed memes– nobody is going to bet on it: no investors, no followers, no voters, no anything. For example: when somebody internalizes the role of the Tragic Hero, Noble Defender of Causes Past, that’s exactly what he becomes; everything he touches will be marked for destruction. Ask any 2000’s conservative culture warrior.

Memetic magic of this type is what makes martyrdom a successful propaganda tactic. A martyr embraces death, but a death which has been previously codified as a victory. Through memetic transmutation, the factual defeat of the martyr becomes a victory, since it is coherent with the overarching narrative of martyrdom. It is all a matter of framing: if the martyr recants before his death, the martyrdom narrative does not hold water, and the memetic spell fails. Psychotherapy works like this too: reframing traumatic events, turning them into the milestones of a memetic journey to triumph.

In memetic magic warfare, fake it till you make it is a basic operational procedure. People can smell future success in others. Like pheromones, the scent of the spell is imperceptible but immediately effective. The way an aspiring leader portrays himself is usually formulaic; there is a trope underneath, an archetypal pattern for the framing of his behavior. In liberal democracies, this is well known, and politicians usually act through carefully designed personas. They try to show themselves as the Old Wise Man (Sanders), the Idealistic Reformer (Obama), the Everyman (George W. Bush), the No-nonsense Outsider (Trump)… Different, more colorful characters populate other memetic environments, such as the Messianic Visionary (Hitler), the Fiery Revolutionary (Fidel Castro) or the Boisterous War-time Leader (Churchill).

Cue Pablo Iglesias (b. 1978), Secretary General of the Spanish Leftist party Podemos (“We can”), Vicepresident and Minister of Social Affairs in the current Government. Like many Progressives, Iglesias’ story begins in academia. He graduated with honors in Law and Political Science at Complutense University of Madrid, a campus notorious for its leftist pedigree. After getting his PhD, he studied the connections between cinema, psychoanalysis and political science at the European Graduate School in Switzerland, where luminaries such as Lyotard, Derrida and Baudrillard taught at the turn of the century.

Iglesias’ ideological horizons, though, are not to be found in the verbosity of French post-Modern philosophers, but on the slogans of Latin-Americanist, bolivarian revolutionaries of the chavist variety. A symbol of the post-2008, Occupy Wall Street political landscape, he quickly became the scourge of the Spanish bipartisan (at the time) establishment. He started showing up in different Leftist media, even hosting his own show, Fort Apache, broadcast in the Iranian Spanish language channel Hispan TV. With his signature ponytail and somewhat unkempt appearance, he was an icon of the “new politics” that were supposed to lead the country to a new era of real democracy and social justice. Iglesias’ concept of the political seemed more Schmittian than Marxist, and the friend-enemy division of society between gente (people) and casta (caste) was a key element of his early discourse. Abrasive and self-righteous, he led Podemos’s pioneering of the escrache and the language of progressive puritanism in the Spanish mainstream.

Ruthlessly taking control of Podemos since its inception, Iglesias alienated most of its founding members, many of whom were former colleagues and friends from campus. People like Carolina Bescansa, Luis Alegre, Juan Carlos Monedero or Íñigo Errejón have all fallen from the party’s ranks, either purged, disillusioned or at odds with its leader. It is said that, since his early years as a university activist, Iglesias was famous for oozing ambition and having a grandiose sense of his own destiny. His media presence made him bigger than the Party from the start, so his leadership was always out of discussion.

As is to be expected from an aspiring Caudillo, and despite all his previous claims to blue-collarness, Iglesias’ political career has recently allowed him to enter the bourgeoisie. To the dismay of his working-class followers, he’s bought a mansion in Galapagar, a luxurious suburb of Madrid. The property is complete with a swimming pool and a security detachment of the Civil Guard (Spanish gendarmerie), now tasked with suppressing the escraches he used to love. He shares his roof with Irene Montero, a party loyal 9 years his junior. Montero is not the first woman in Podemos to succumb to Iglesias’ charm, but she’s the mother of his three children and now a fellow member of government (funnily enough, she is “Minister of Equality”, spearheading the government’s SJW offensive).

When a lukewarm conservative-technocratic government led by Mariano Rajoy ended up succumbing to a non-confidence vote in 2018, Iglesias leveraged his position at the edge of the Spanish Overton Window to secure a place into an even more fragile government led by Socialist Pedro Sánchez, Secretary General of the PSOE (acronym for the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party). The new government, which has been in power since then, only attained majority after enlisting not only Podemos, but several Separatist parties from both Catalonia and the Basque Country. This uneasy coalition has proven very difficult to handle, a fact which may or may not explain part of Spain’s terrible management of the pandemic. A deep skeptic of the concept of Spain as a national entity, the climate of constant identity crisis is a most natural habitat for Iglesias.

His presence in the Government has allowed Iglesias to access State secrets and the Intelligence Community. Certainly, the role of spymaster fits his views on power and politics much more than his official title of Minister of Social Affairs. Iglesias talks a lot about the wealth redistribution, but seems to enjoy more conspiracies and spycraft. He is not one to be troubled by the “contradictions of power” that more idealistic revolutionaries seem to lose their sleep over. He is referred to as the Alpha male of Podemos; a canine metaphor he appears to cultivate. An outspoken fan of Game of Thrones, Iglesias revels in the sordid cynicism and shamelessness modern audiences mistake for realism and honesty.

Unrelenting persecution from right-wing opposition parties has exposed all kinds of mischief, real or alleged, on Podemos’ part: supposed dirty dealings with South American narco-regimes, possible ties with the Iranian State, financial irregularitiesTo the accusations, Iglesias responds the Right is trying to stage a coup against the government. Lacking popular support, “the Fascists” do it covertly with the help of the Deep State.

College professor, revolutionary, TV show host, bourgeois power broker, conspirator. What’s the next step in Iglesias’ character development? His opponents accuse him of being a totalitarian; a wannabe Mao or Stalin. But if this were one of the TV series he so loves, something doesn’t fit with the characterization. Pablo Iglesias is no Great Steerman, no Man of Steel. He seeks a place in History for himself, but he is no Dear Leader material. Is he, then, a Visionary Martyr? He lacks the poetic fanatism and artistic vision for it: he is neither a Hitler, nor a Mishima, nor Osama Bin Laden. His apparent lack of interest in ruling and in managing the grey gears of a bureaucratic state also situate him even farther from being a Richelieu nor a Lee Kwan Yew.

We have to look for a different archetype when trying to guess who Pablo Iglesias is becoming. It has to be a figure capable of historical significance, but unconcerned with the mundane affairs of ruling, and more invested in cultivating a dedicated fan base than in winning over his country’s love. When Iglesias speaks, he does to a loyal audience, and does not try to appeal to those who instinctively hate him. He is a professional agitator, and has grown restless as soon as he has reached some measure of power.

No, Pablo Iglesias is a different kind of beast: the Intellectual Ex-Stateman, best exemplified by Trotsky. A brainy, exiled figure writing diatribes about why the revolution failed, to be read by the excited eyes of his college-aged fans. This is the subconscious impulse behind his efforts to lure the opposition into a coup: guaranteeing his defenestration, so that he can write about it. He has always been intent on securing a place in History books, and this would be a very fitting way for him to do it. The character development device of choice for the Screenwriters of Reality.

Of course, this is just a Wild Mass Guess. Reality is much more chaotic, and only seldomly follows the logic of a script, making this essay fall into the territory of wild speculation (the kind we love so much here at The Outpost). But still, you’ve got to be careful with memes. A man can fall prisoner to his own legend. The comparison of with mind viruses is not casual. We will never know if Frogtwitter and 4chan did indeed “meme Trump into the White House”, back in 2016. Let us see the plot follow its natural course, and pay heed to the lesson hidden in this fable. Mind worms are everywhere, and their blind eyes have seen the Future.

Ginsburg v. Goebbels and the search for New Sparta

It is impossible to write a misogynist manifesto without a minimal historiographical review, particularly relating to the Ancient world. The author of such a manifesto can count on a very favorable fact for his political project: the aesthetic interest that Sparta and its culture arouse in the general public. Through the simple fact of being a doctrinaire of the New Right, the misogynist will no doubt be familiar with a certain bowdlerized, pop-Spartan aesthetic, as codified by the blockbuster, neocon propaganda movie 300.

Sparta, the dirt-poor, traditionalist, agrarian, landlocked home of laconic warriors and dominating mothers; Athens, the rich, sophisticated, sea-trade hub were philosopher kings come from. Sparta’s grip on modern culture is not new; it has elicited great passions among political theorists since Aristotle, who explicitly mentioned the power held by its women, comparing it wit its rival city. Indeed, the historic rivalry between Athens and Sparta was a favorite topic in the institutional debates of Ancient Rome, which saw itself reenacting Sparta’s role against rival Carthage. Machiavelli too expressed fascination by this contrast; Voltaire, in contrast, poured all his irony into ridiculing Spartan institution; interestingly, both for being feminist and militaristic.

The German National Socialists, heirs to the related Prussian Junker meme,were not immune to the Spartan spell either. In the roles this polis reserved for its men and women, they found inspiration for a new political and educational paradigm. How would have the authors of the Communist Manifesto explained the coming to power of National Socialism in 1933? What conclusions would have they drawn if they had had at their disposal, as a doctrinal document, the speech that Joseph Goebbels gave on March 18, 1933 on the role of the German woman?

In 1900 two million babies were born in Germany. Now the number has fallen to one million. This drastic decline is most evident in the nation’s capital. (…) The government is determined to halt this decline of the family and the resulting impoverishment of our blood. There must be a fundamental change. The liberal attitude toward the family and the child is responsible for Germany’s rapid decline. We today must begin worrying about an aging population. In 1900 there were seven children for each elderly person, today it is only four. If current trends continue, by 1988 the ratio will be 1:1. These statistics say it all. They are the best proof that if Germany continues along its current path, it will end in an abyss with breathtaking speed.

Goebbels visited Greece in 1936, and on that occasion stated that if he returned to Sparta, as if 2,500 years had not passed, it was because in this Greek city he could feel as comfortable as in Germany, naturally thanks to the reforms promoted by the Nazis. When evaluating the Third Reich and analyzing its totalitarian, militaristic and racist inclinations, we must remember its vocation as a renewed Sparta, particularly in regards to the role that women filled in it.

As is well known, the Spartan woman was expected by the State to generate offspring so she could provide the community with new warriors. This is exactly what the Nazi regime expected of German women. How would Goebbels find Germany in 1988, the date he explicitly mentions in his speech? Undoubtedly, his most pessimistic forecasts had been met. This is accentuated if we stretch the period to a more recent date: October 30th, 2018, the day Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel announced her departure from power. Angela Merkel: a laid-off, childless stateswoman: the perfect embodiment of the characteristics Goebbels most despised in a German female.

From an aesthetic viewpoint, Merkel is at the antipodes of Goebbels’ own wife, Magda (1901-1945), decorated as an exemplary mother of the Third Reich. Platonically in love with the Führer, in 1945 and faced with the fall of the Reich, she murdered her six children and then killed herself along her husband. As Spartan women sometimes did, Magda had more than one husband in the course of her life. In 1921 she married Günther Quandt, an industrialist twice her age. Apparently, the businessman was more concerned with his work dealings than with having kids; Magda left him and went on to marry Goebbels, only 4 years her senior and father of the six dead children. Thus, her only surviving son, Harald Quandt, was the product of her first marriage. He survived the war thanks to being old enough to become a Luftwaffe officer and fall prisoner in North Africa, a condition which kept him away from his exemplary warrior-mother. After the war, Quandt would go on to thrive in the American-supervised West Germany economic milieu, inheriting a family fortune that stands to this day.

The demographic situation of Germany is common in most all the western world. As Pax Americana advances, fertility seems to decline everywhere. Is this an exclusive phenomenon of the liberal democratic, industrialized world? Well, seeing how the ex-USSR territories are no better (and in many aspects worse), the obvious answer would be a loud no. Only developing countries, especially those of Muslim persuasion, can be expected to consistently stay above the replacement rate in the next few decades. The question, thus, still stands: what would the writers of the Communist Manifesto say about all of this? Is this the way of Progress? Both the Capitalist and the post-Communist wastelands are conspicuously infertile, and their “liberal attitude towards the family” (to use Goebbels’ expression) is to blame for it, as many are already past the industrial stage.

Following the hints left by Marx and Engels’ pamphlet, we know the enemies of the Capitalist-Communist revolutionaries are none other than the Reactionary and Bourgeois Socialists, of which the Nazis were only but a specific brand. Different attitudes towards womanhood seem to be one of the fault lines separating these progressives from their enemies. As Revolution is the motor of history, it is of obvious interest knowing who is who in this fight if one aims to predict the future. Thus, another question arises: who today carries the torch of the Spartan spirit, and who is siding with the Capitalist-Communist evolution?

As we have seen, Mutti Merkel’s EU lacks any trace of the lacedemonian ethos. Almost no country in Europe has tried to wear the Spartan hat since the Nazi era. The European Fourth Reich is a trading juggernaut; Athenian by virtue of its NATO chains, it has lost its taste for war and tradition. Only some factions within it, like Poland and Hungary’s ruling parties or Italy’s Lega, pose a challenge to this situation. A challenge that, not unexpectedly, has revealed the cracks in the EU’s foundations, and that might lead to its complete irrelevance in the near future.

What about Mother Russia, then? Definitely a land power, depending on raw-material exports and with an oversized and proud military, it seems to fit the Spartan bill to some extent… except it doesn’t. In spite of what PUA sex tourists want you to believe, Eastern European women are not “traditional” or “red-pilled”, and divorce, abortion and female labor were a feature of Soviet life a long time before they were a thing in Europe. Despite much shirtless bear-riding and jihadist-killing, Putin is no Spartan natalist either. He has tried to solve Russia’s demographic crisis through one of the most liberal immigration policies of the world, and his coziness with Germany in all important matters (like energy policy) proves this.

China is a completely different object. The trading giant par excellence, it lacks however anything calling back to Athens in its Capital-Communist personality. It is definitely not a philosophers’ paradise, either. It is not Spartan, either. Decades of family planning through the infamous one-child policy stunted its demographic growth, and an aging population has led the Communist Party of China to recently reverse its anti-natalist laws. The impact of the pandemic is yet unknown, but it can be assumed that it will not lead to a rediscovery of warrior motherhood by the Middle Kingdom’s managerial elite.

Finally, we have Trump’s America and its current redefinition crisis. The president made sex and gender a central point in his 2016 campaign, showing off an impressive record on misogyny and generally taking the side of the pro-lifers. His isolationist tendencies are also a Spartan characteristic, as well as his fondness for verbal abuse of opponents. In 2020 the gender question has been somewhat overshadowed by racial disturbances, but even those are loaded in regards to the question of motherhood, especially when taking into account the dismal disparities in the rate of abortion when sorted by race. Ruth Baden Ginsburg’s opportune death has also contributed to bring the issue back to the front; the passing away of the architect of Roe v. Wade has already provided a lot of cringe reaction videos to fuel Trumpist propaganda.

In general, it can be said that the Overton window has moved considerably to the right in the last four years. We will see what happens in November, but American Spartanists have reasons to feel confident.

The fortress and the gyneceum

Athenian society venerated Athena, virginal goddess of wisdom and martial virtue: a female deity doted with attributes the Greeks ascribed to masculinity and rationality, as embodied by the soldier-citizen. This archetype is in stark contrast with gods from other cultures; notably, Egyptian fertility god Osiris. Posthumous father of god-king Horus, Osiris was murdered and castrated by Seth, and then revived by his wife and sister Isis; he was strongly associated to agriculture, the moon, and the Nile’s silt – all of them Chthonic and feminine for the Greeks. Thus, the Athenians venerated a virile warrior-maiden, while the Egyptians saw their ruling pharaohs as descended from an emasculated, mummified and androgynous figure, who presided the harvest and judged the dead.

One could expect that adoring a female goddess would make Athenians less misogynistic than their counterparts across the Mediterranean. The demands for more representation of women in positions of power and woke slogans such as God is a woman would certainly point in this direction; the often male-centered narratives of patriarchal narratives both from the classics and pop-culture are a favorite object of feminist polemics. The project of rebooting the James Bond saga with 007 as a female character is a good example of this, as it would signify the defacement of a quintessentially masculine myth.

In spite of this assumptions, according to most historians, Athenian society and Greek culture in general were quite misogynistic. Egypt seems to have been relatively less so, with women being considered legally equal at court and able to hold property rights. The picture is further distorted when we compare both to another Greek polis, Sparta, which has for a long time captivated the imagination of sociologists and political thinkers. Spartan women enjoyed better conditions than their counterparts elsewhere in Hellas, including rights to property and education. Their traditional dress, a slit skirt, earned them a reputation for promiscuity among other Greek cities, especially compared to the Athenian woman’s long robe. Was the Spartan woman politically freer, more empowered, than the Athenian, despite their almost identical cultural roots? And how did they fare in regards to the Egyptian, with her completely different background?

In all of these societies, childrearing was seen as the primary role of adult women, but the sociopolitical consequences of this were manifested in different ways. Specifically, Athenian women were not formally educated, could not make economic transactions, and lived secluded in the house’s gyneceum (from γυναικεῖον – gunaikeîon, the special quarters reserved for women); their reduced public life was mostly concerned with religious rituals, as they were supposed to stay at home with children. Compared to them, Spartan women were better fed and educated, because they were supposed to produce strong offspring and thus contribute to the lacedemonian polis’ military population. Xenophon goes as far as to state that there was some measure of polyandry in Spartan society, so that women could be impregnated by younger and healthier men for eugenic purposes. Even the important status granted to Egyptian women was heavily related to maternity and fertility. Particularly, the basis of female political power emanated from the figure of the Pharaoh’s Queen Mother, of which Isis (sister-wife of Osiris and mother of Horus) was the main archetype. So what do all of these practices tell us in regards to how women were viewed in their respective societies?

If one looks at ancient artifacts, such as pottery, a peculiar feature soon becomes obvious: Egyptian and Greek artists often used different colors to represent the two sexes. In both cultures, the male sex is usually represented in black or tan, while the female sex appears in white or pale hues. Despite the wishful thinking of gender theorists, this is no proof of the misogynistic character of any of them. It is, however, illustrative of different worldviews.

In Egypt, the difference in coloration alludes to the possibility of a synthesis between both sexes. Creation was the work of a male solar god, Atum-Ra, but the lunar fertility god who descended from him, Osiris, was also male. The black or green color with which Osiris is represented is a reference to the dark color of damp, fertile earth; white would be the color of bones, dust, and death. The juxtaposition of the two hues and the two sexes is used to convey the notion of a balanced cosmos, enforcing an idea of complementarity.

In Greece, the use of different colors has an altogether different connotation, pointing to the existence of different races: one indigenous, and one foreign. Thus, in the archaic period, Athenian women were usually painted in the same hue used for Persian invaders. A symbol of the untamed otherness of the Orient, mythically epitomized by the Amazon: militarily fearsome and sexually intriguing at the same time. This identification of the female sex with an external race shares the views presented in Pandora’s myth, already discussed here: mainly, of men being native to Earth and women being extraterrestrial, manufactured entities.

This essay would not be complete without some mention of that most patriarchal ancient civilization, Rome. Why were the supposedly misogynistic Romans willing to guarantee their women some rights their Greek counterparts never enjoyed? Did Roman females conquer their advantageous position thanks to their proto-feminist gender awareness? To answer these questions, we cannot rely on the interested contributions of woke gender theorists. On the contrary; the comparatively good situation of Roman women was a result of the Empire hindering the intrusion of misogynistic Greek philosophy. If in Roman society the situation for women was better than in Greece, it was because old laws and customs were respected, and lacked the Greek “women-as-foreign” element.

As an expansive Empire, Rome’s collision with the outside world, Jewish, Greek and ultimately Germanic, was inevitable. It is undeniable that the Romans were aware of the dangers posed by philosophical encounters with foreigners. After all, barbarians are, by definition, a threat. So, if Rome was initially more benevolent to its women than either Athens or Sparta, it was because its philosophers and legislators did not see females as unpredictable foreigners, but as people of their own kind: a demonstration of internal unity, the hallmark of a confident culture.

In the end, this discussion is an ancient iteration of a recurring meme in imperial politics: that there must be a wall somewhere, separating the in-group from the out-group. The establishment’s survival depends on whether to include women in the former or the latter; on choosing between xenophobia and misogyny. Between the fortress and the gyneceum. And for those unwilling to choose, of course, there is always a third way: letting the barbarians in and becoming an undiferentiated one yourself. Which would be arguably the most entropic, accelerationist, capital-communist option, after all.

The friendzoning of the West

The Gross Domestic Product of the People’s Republic of China was worth 14,342.90 billion USD in 2019, according to official data from the World Bank and projections from Trading Economics: almost the 12% share of the world’s total economy. This makes it the number 1 economic power of the global capitalist world. Such impressive results are not obviously not only due to the adventurousness and ingenuity of its Capitalist entrepreneurs: the country has been carefully and methodically run since 1949 by the Communist Party of China (CPC). With an iron fist, the CPC has been preparing its people for 70 years, leading them out of post-war poverty and devastation. It has acted so that they could catch up to the United States and Western Europe, and in this way join them in fulfilling the Revolution: just as the authors of the Communist Manifesto conceived.

In 1927 China was in the middle of an internal struggle between different factions of the Kuomintang (KMT), the Chinese republican party who had led the overthrowing of the Qing Dinasty in 1911. Chiang Kai-shek, head of the Nationalist-Socialist faction, succeeded in taking over the party against its most Internationalist/Communist wing, and spent much of the following decade fighting his numerous rivals and political opponents. These included warlords such as steppe bandit Zhang Zuolin, favored (and later murdered) by the Japanese; filo-Fascistic KMT Commander Li Zongren, of the Guangxi Clique; and Secretary General of the CPC Mao Zedong. By 1937, Chiang was almost in full control of China, with most of his enemies dead or in exile, and the CPC was divided and in disarray, barely surviving in some small rural pockets. Unfortunately for him, however, the Japanese launched a land invasion in Manchuria and a tight naval blockade. The KMT endured most of the fighting, and quickly saw itself go bankrupt. Meanwhile, the war allowed the CPC enough breathing room to recover and grow strong among the peasantry.

When the Japanese were kicked out of China, at the end of World War Two, the victorious Truman administration tried to make the KMT and the now recovered CPC forget past grievances, make peace and build a unified government. The US hoped to achieve this by threatening to withhold UN humanitarian aid and controlling weapons’ sales, which the KMT needed direly. For geopolitical reasons, neither the USA nor the Soviet Union were interested in a strong government in China, whatever its color; a weak KMT meant favorable trade deals for the Americans, and a safe buffer zone in the USSR’s southern flank full of economic opportunities in Manchuria and Xinjiang. Furthermore, China had managed to secure a place as a permanent member of the UN Security Council: an ideologically divided regime shared by the KMT and the CPC was easier to influence towards one side or the other, and the Cold War was looming in the horizon.

Soviet and American authorities soon realized their plans were backfiring spectacularly when the CPC started scoring victories against KMT-aligned forces, around 1946-1947. They had hoped for an easy to manipulate Republic of China under perpetual threat of the Communists, but Mao had grown too dangerous and uncontrollable. Both powers increased their involvement in the region, trying to force a “two-state solution” with a Southern KMT-China and a Northern CPC-China. Chiang Kai-shek agreed to this plan, but Mao did not, which says a lot about Communist ambitions. By 1950, Stalin had to unleash Kim Il-Sung to start the Korean War, while at the same time denying him military aid; this forced Mao to step in, diverting his attention and preventing him from obliterating the last KMT stronghold of Taiwan. Technically, the Chinese Civil War is still going on partly due to this fact; currently, nonetheless, it’s the Americans who are carrying the weight of Taiwan’s defense. In spite of Taiwan’s resistance, one thing is clear: the communists were from 1949 onwards in control of mainland China, and in the position to start their revolution.

Upon reflection, and in light of the Chinese communists’ epic history of success, reffering to the Russian Revolution of October 1917 as The Communist Revolution is at least disputable. Nonetheless, Mao Zedong’s takeover of 1949 does not fit the bill either; it was only the start of a long and painful development. For a real, Manifesto-approved Communist Revolution, the world had to wait for a few decades. A different leadership from Mao was necessary, and it would come from a foreign-educated professional revolutionary out of rural Sichuan: Deng Xiaoping (1904-1997).

The man who would be later known as “The Architect of Modern China” became involved in Marxist-Leninist circles as a young student in France, where he had been sent to study and work at the age of 15. By 1926, as one of the foremost leaders of Chinese Communism in Europe, he went to Moscow’s Sun Yat-sen University to receive further ideological education, with the intent of applying it in his home country. The school was a Comintern training camp for Chinese revolutionaries; interestingly, he was classmates there with Chiang Ching-kuo, the son of Chiang Kai-shek who would go on to become the President of Taiwan in 1978.

Deng returned to China in 1927, just in time for the KMT purging of its Communist elements and the breakout of the Chinese Civil War, summarized above. He participated in all of its most notorious episodes, including the early military campaigns in Guangxi, Mao’s epic Long March in 1934, and the Hundred Regiments Offensive of 1940 against the Imperial Japanese Army. His military prestige allowed him to rise in politics under the shadow of Chairman Mao. His reformist policies, however, made him an easy target in the cutthroat world of Communist Party bureaucracy. During the Cultural Revolution, Deng suffered a smear campaign from which he only recovered after Mao’s death in 1976, when he became the de facto leader of China. The time had come at last.

In order to fulfill the prophecy Marx and Engels formulated in 1848, the Communist Revolution had to include the capitalists: as the first piece of the dialectic process, they could not be done without. Deng knew this, and managed to embed his ideas into the CPC’s constitution. Deng Xiaping Theory boiled down to the idea that capitalism is the primary stage of communism, and that state socialism and state planning are not by definition communist, and that market mechanisms are class neutral. The consequence of this approach was a pragmatic policy of “seeking truth from facts”; that is, applying only policies that yield results, adapting ideology to them – in jargon, accelerating the process of ideological evolution by subordinating it to material conditions. If the means of production had to be taken over to achieve Communism, the more developed was the Chinese industrial fabric, the better.

This realism needed a conversation partner up to the task, and for such a role no one could be better than Henry Kissinger. Thanks to his so-called Ping-Pong Diplomacy (1971), the US embargo on China was lifted, starting the still ongoing trade relations between America and China – or more specifically, between America and the CPC, which to this day is still in charge of the economy. The agreement opened up China to the rest of the world and successfully drove a wedge between the USSR and the CPC, setting them on different paths and confirming the latter as the true harbingers of Revolution. The USSR would become progressively more ossified, clinging to an ideological dogmatism no one truly believed in anymore. Deng Xiaoping, meanwhile, made visits to Singapore and praised Lee Kuan Yew, paving the way for China to become the “factory of the world” it is today.

So, what has been the West’s role in this story? Well, it’s only necessary to look at the numbers. In the year 2019, the 90 million card-carrying members of the CCP made $400 billion from US capitalists, all under the concept of trade surplus. Marx and Engels, after all, were not mistaken: the cost of implementing Communism was always going to be paid out of the Capitalists’ pocket. Those who finance global revolution are many things, but they are certainly not naive. So rest assured: if Capital is paying for the drinks, it’s because it does not plan to remain in the friend zone for too long.

Age of the Corporate Drone

Capitalism is eternal, will never fall, and will not be replaced by any kind of socialism. Such was the accelerationist message encoded in the Communist Manifesto: a message intuited by Veblen and which was not difficult to decipher for Trotskyist James Burnham (1905-1987). At the core of Burnham’s view of communism was one notion: that the progress of capitalism depended not on the owners of Capital, but on those who controlled its flow.

Burnham saw a similarity in the economic fabric of Nazi Germany, Stalinist Russia and Roosevelt’s New Deal USA: the dominant role of huge hierarchical, permanent structures operated by credentialed bureaucrats. From this observation, he described the existence of a managerial class: a technocratic elite of administrators at the top of corporate and government organisms, making most decisions regarding politics, economy and culture. This managerial regime differed greatly from classical entrepeneurial capitalism, and was completely alien to democratic liberalism. Its nature was exploitative and totalitarian: a hive-like community of white-collared bugmen. A world lacking a guiding thread, simplified and run by an depersonalized elite expert in handling the chaos of reality. A portrait of this vision can be found in Adam Curtis’ famous documentaryHypernormalisation”.

Born out of capitalism’s universal voracity, the managers guarantee the most efficient satisfaction of capitalist desires. Their superior status is a function of their role; not the cristallization of any individual right, but the product of their corporate position. All the powers and privileges of possession are bestowed upon them, who nonetheless are not owners of the corporation, but owned by it as organs. There is no Protestant ethic of individual self-discipline and entrepeneurship at play here. As a class, the managers’ power increases with the mass and complexity of the system; their ideal habitat is a hyperconnected world of endless appetites, consumerist hedonism and multivariable change. As any MBA student knows, the more volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, the better opportunities for the manager.

Burnham’s book “The Managerial Revolution: What is Happening in the World” was published in 1941, signaling the author’s turning away from Marxism. It was a turbulent year. The Third Reich and the USSR started it as allies by way of the Molotov-Ribbentropp Pact; a collaborative effort which ended abruptly with Operation Barbarossa and the Wehrmacht’s Eastward push in June 22nd. Two months prior, the Soviets had signed a neutrality agreement with Japan, respected by both countries until 1945, when the defeat of the Empire of the Rising Sun was unavoidable. The net result of these actions, in the geopolitical sense, was the firm establishment of the Soviet State as a tool of the predominantly sea-borne Allies. By solely focusing on their Western flank, the Russians became the land power we all know and love, leaving East Asia for the budding American naval Empire: a prize ripe for the taking. These developments were later enforced through the US’s policy of containment, which sought to isolate the Communist block from the rest of the world in application of Nicholas Spykman’s geopolitical theories.

Burnham himself was critical of containment. He supported what in International Relations is known as rollback, the opposite strategy of promoting regime change which failed in Korea (1950) and Cuba (1961). This attitude was not meant to counter socialism with capitalism, as he considered the latter’s demise a fact. Instead, Burnham believed that the product of capitalist critical acceleration was not collapse and socialist reform, but a next step in the capitalist-communist dialectic: managerialism. And in the coming world of managers, he sought to ensure the USA’s leadership by calling for a World Federation against the rival Eastern block, a position which turned him into the first neocon. This idea served as an inspiration for George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, illuminated by the writer’s own experiences of totalitarianism and propaganda during the Spanish Civil War.

Just like Burnham, Francis Fukuyama famously did not buy into the notion that capitalism was dying and was going to be substituted by socialism. Quite the contrary. In his frequently oversimplified article “The End of History?” (1989), Fukuyama announced the triumph of capitalism. What he proclaimed, though, was nothing else that the materialization of the Marxist utopia of 1848. He made no attempt to hide this fact: “The notion of the end of history. It’s not original. The best known propagator was Karl Marx, who believed that the direction of historical development was a purpose determined by the interaction of material forces, and would come to an end only with the achievement of the communist utopia that would finally resolve all previous contradictions.”

It seems his objective was to try and encourage the Soviet leadership to destroy their own real socialist state, in order to facilitate the progress of communism in the world. In this, he wasn’t asking for any betrayal of Marxist principles. The text had been drafted with a specific occasion in mind: the visit of Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze to the USA.  The arguments that the young State Department official proposed were aimed at helping Moscow communists understand the Communist Manifesto: that is, to continue to trust the doctrine of Marx and get rid of Socialism once and for all.

Birds of prey have no friends: the first anti-Capitalist War

Hitler: one of the few people in Modern History who have ascended to almost purely memetic status. Che Guevara and Mahatma Gandhi come close, but none of them have gone so far in their transfiguration; perhaps because Hitler serves as the contemporary incarnation of Evil. There are already more than 120,000 books and articles that have been written about the character, so any new approach to the topic has to be justified. This is why Cambridge historian Brendan Simms deserves at least some credit for trying to produce a fresh, powerful and consistent interpretation of the dictator in his 2019 book “Hitler: a global biography”. In the Outpost we believe he also succeeded, which is even better.

An award-winning author of other historical works, Simms specializes in analyzing the centuries-old rivalry between England and Germany. The main thesis of his book on Hitler was already advanced in an article in 2014, titled “Against a world of enemies: The impact of the First World War on the development of Hitler’s ideology“. The focus of Simms’ interpretation places the life of the German dictator, and in particular his combat experiences in the First World War, at the root of his political beliefs. Then a 25 year old private infantryman, Hitler first saw action at the First Battle of Ypres, where many fresh recruits perished; the event is still remembered in German historiography as the Kindermord bei Ypern (the Ypres Killing of the Innocent); Hitler’s own regiment sustained 3000 casualties out of its 3600 men.

The future Führer would go on to serve at the Battles of the Somme, Arras and Paeschendaele, being promoted to the rank of Gefreiter (lance corporal) and earning the Iron Cross. Like many others of his generation, Hitler soon came to respect the English enemy whom he was facing in the battlefield; not only for his prowess but for his country’s productive power. The Western Front had been the terrifying testing ground of a new doctrinal concept: la guerre de matériel, “material warfare”, in which the industrial capacity of the contenders was fully devoted to supplying the troops and carrying out massive artillery shellings, leading to the dizzying casualty rates of the War. This element of Anglosaxon superiority was further fixed in Hitler’s mind after the war, when he witnessed the fast economic recovery of the English-speaking world, and the well-being that it provided for its population. Years later, when he became involved in politics, Hitler held on to his admiration for the Anglosphere, now increasingly represented by the blooming USA. In the prison cell where he wrote his seminal book Mein Kampf, he hung a portrait of car manufacturer Henry Ford, which according to him epitomized the American civilization.

Simms tries to convince his readers that the figure of Hitler and the Nazi movement should be put under a new perspective, namely, that Hitler unleashed the Second World War not against Communism nor against the Soviet Union, but against International Capitalism. This Anti-Capitalist streak was primely directed against Great Britain and its ally, the United States, and was rooted in anti-Semitism. For Hitler, Bolshevism itself was nothing more than an instrument of Jewish capital.

Nowadays, the memetic weight of the Holocaust dominates the collective imagination about the Second World War. Nonetheless, it was not seen as the main point of the conflict by contemporary Americans. At Nuremberg, Nazi leaders were indicted primely for conspiring against peace and for waging wars of aggression; the accusations of war crimes and crimes against Humanity came second, and were not given an exclusively anti-Semitic interpretation. The trials were also criticized by jurists for their ex post facto nature: the crimes were only codified as such after their perpetration, with Chief US Prosecutor Robert H. Jackson describing the whole legal process as a “high-grade lynching party”. The centrality of the Holocaust in narratives of the war started growing much later, after Israel’s independence in 1948, high-profile Nazi executions such as Adolf Eichmann’s in 1962, and the proliferation of literature and film about the war.

According to Simms, however, the Holocaust was not “a detail” of the war that Hitler planned. On the contrary: the Jews were the main objective of destruction, being the human element of International Capitalism. Hitler, more than an anti-Communist, was an anti-Semite. In his 1945 Berlin testament, he did not even mention the Soviet Union or Communism; he had carried out the war effort that eventually led to his death with a single objective: opposing “the international statesmen… of Jewish origin or who worked for Jewish interests”. All across his writings he makes frequent references to “International Jewry and its collaborators”. This terms are highly charged, and their use is meant to target a specific type of capitalist: the globalist financial bourgeoisie of moneylenders who do not build nor create, but prey on other’s work. Alchemists performing dark magic with numbers, juggling assets and exchange rates. In a sense, it was a revival of the old medieval taboo on usury, still present in most of the Muslim world.

It is simply a historical truth that Hitler’s army endured most of its hardest fighting on the Eastern Front, but Simms’ framework suggests Hitler’s strategic gaze was set on the West. If Germany was fighting the USSR to obtain its coveted Lebensraum, it was to compensate for a deficit of territories, resources and human strength: in sum, all of the advantages that the “Jewish capitalists” had at their disposal. Globally, Simms’ interpretation of the facts is not really new. Movements on the Fascist side of the spectrum have always rejected financial Capital and the rootless, cosmopolitan culture it engenders, its non-generation of value. The moniker National Socialism is there for a reason. Nazis were an offshoot of German Socialism, a bastard product of Idealist over-theorization and French revolutionary literature. Their model, which glorified the German petty-bourgeois and seeked to transform him into a citizen-at-arms, was always more Spartan than Athenian.

What is interesting, though, is that Hitler’s German Anti-Capitalism only echoed the ideas of many North American capitalists, among them Henry Ford himself. Like many others in the English-speaking world, Ford approved of Hitler’s European policy. He saw in it a force capable of counteracting the parasitic financial power embodied by “Jewish Capitalism”, the true enemy of the industrial civilization which had taken root in the United States. It is a well known fact that, for the war’s duration, Ford had been producing both jeeps for the US Armed Forces and turbines for the Wehrmacht’s V-2 rockets. In June 1940, after France had been already conquered, Henry Ford personally blocked a US government-approved plan to build Rolls-Royce engines under license, for use in British fighter planes. The manufacturing plant of Ford Motor Co. in Germany did not need to be seized by the Third Reich, as it collaborated freely with the war effort after the American and German branches broke contacts, once the US had entered the fray against the Axis. Furthermore, Ford was not alone in this position. General Motors Corp. literally put the German invasion of Poland on wheels. The use of POWs as labor certainly cut costs for American manufacturers operating in conquered Europe, but what is attributed to simple greed might actually have been a principled stance. It turns out corporate America loved the Fascists: IBM, Exxon (then Standard Oil of New Jersey), Gillette, General Electric, Singer, Eastman Kodak… All of them had a German connection.

After the War, and moreso after General Eisenhower’s presidency, the US went on with the civilizational project initiated by Ford and developed by National Socialism: the Autobahn, the Volkswagen and the V-2 bomb became the Interstate Highway System, the Chevrolet, and the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. A certain vision of the future had prevailed, the mission was accomplished and the victors were to enjoy the spoils of victory. The Second World War might have been “America’s Good War”, a conflict based on ideals. What those ideals were, and whether they were that good after all… well, that’s an entirely different story.

Geopolitical Change Denialism

As we’ve explained before, when a conflict arises, the possible positions to be taken in regards to it, its memetic frame, is previous to the choice of sides by the participants. Geopolitical discussions are no exception. The polarization is magnified by the great amount of information available, the infinite ways in which that information can be interpreted, and the connection geopolitics has to many other subjects in which people are emotionally invested. So, naturally, when China-as-Future-Power is brought up, people are very fast to jump into the trench they instinctively recognize as their own.

One of such trenches is the one occupied by people who are deeply skeptical of China’s actual and potential power – let’s call them Geopolitical Change Deniers. This train of thought usually argues that the threat China’s ascent is blown out of proportion. President Trump’s confrontational rhetoric is explained as a propaganda strategy to obfuscate who the US’s true rival is. Usually, the Russian Federation is given this adversarial role, which follows the logic of classical geopolitics, enshrined somewhat poetically in the Sea versus Land paradigm. For a naval empire such as the US, foreign policy has to be focused on hampering the consolidation of continental power. In practice, this means antagonizing the most powerful player in Eurasia, using secondary actors to create a balancing counter-power.

One of the main arguments Geopolitical Change Deniers have to disparage China’s growing power is its economic dependency of the US. According to this line of thought, the Middle Kingdom relies on the American Empire to keep running. The idea goes something like this: if the US stops supporting China, the Chinese economy collapses; if China stops supporting the US, the Chinese economy also collapses. Thus, any diplomatic measure by the US against China is interpreted as a yanking of the leash to remind the dog who its master is.

This claim is disputable to say the least: although the US is indeed China’s greatest buyer (20% of Chinese exports go there), the combined value of exports to Asia and Europe triples that of products destined to America. This is a trade sphere which every day grows more detached from the US-protected trans-Pacific routes, especially as China develops its land communications and its own maritime security with its aggressive artificial island policy. On the other hand, 22% of foreign products arriving in the US come from China. At the same time, a third of US exports goes to the same Asian market China is trying to claim as its own. America cannot find an easy substitute for Chinese cheap supplies. It also cannot afford to lose the Asian market to China, who has obvious cultural and geographical advantages in accessing it. So who owns who?

The meme of China as a giant economy slave to the US, always on the verge of collapse, is a bastard scion of the Triangular Policy initiated by Kissinger in the Nixon era. This policy, devised in a time of relative weakness of American political influence, intended to drive a wedge between the two communist (and continental) powers of China and Russia. By exploiting their rivalry, US diplomacy hoped to avoid the creation of a united block capable of driving America out of the World Island. But the US has been cutting the Chinese too much slack, and as the world changes, it’s time to pay. China has made enormous inroads in Europe and in Africa, and even if the local powers don’t trust them, they will have to comply with Chinese influence if the US does not show up as a power player. There has been some talk of expropriating Chinese assets with the excuse of coronavirus reparations, but it’s difficult to imagine any country willing to assume the diplomatic cost this would entail, and that includes America. The People’s Republic is a permanent member of the UN’s Security Council, a nuclear and space power, and controls vast amounts of strategic resources, like rare earth minerals. It also has enormous pressure tools at its disposal, trade not being the least of them.

Another argument to support the Geopolitical Change Deniers claim that China is indeed a giant with clay feet, is the supposed threat of internal rebellion. The authoritarian Communist-Capitalism of China is seen as so oppressive, that to the West’s eyes a revolution is expected at any moment. Setting aside the possible hypocrisy of such a statement (looking at you, Google), the Deniers assume that a vacuum of power in China would be filled by Russia and Central Asian islamists. In their interpretation the US government is actually protecting a puppet China from its inner demons to avoid chaos in the region. While Chinese collapse would certainly be more dangerous to World stability than the current status quo, it is not such a safe bet to claim that Russia is ready –nor willing– to step in its place. The Russian Federation has profound demographic problems which make it barely able of holding its territory together, let alone occupying Manchuria. In fact, it is actually China who threatens Russia, with both its GDP and its population surpassing Russia’s by a factor of ten. The threat of Central Asian islamism is also overblown. Islam is not a new phenomenon in the region and hasn’t made gains in centuries. It has plenty of fertile ground to expand in other areas ripe for the taking, from the Sahel all the way to Indonesia.

The only argument in favor of a supposed US-China collusion is based, perhaps surprisingly, on ideological grounds. China inhabits the dialectic synthesis of Capitalism and Communism. It’s a vision of the Future, free at last from its human and religious/ideological drag. It’s not Late Capitalism what we’re seeing, but the early lights of Capitalist Revolution, at last led to triumph by its Communist elite. If after 70 years in power the Communist Party ends up collapsing, it will not be substituted by freedom-loving, religious “natural conservatives”, but by an even stronger and more materialist establishment, more certain of its superiority to the West than the Communists were. We’ve explored this subject in the past and we will explore it more in the future, so we’ll leave it at that for now.

So, in summary: it’s not for nothing that the US is willing to change its warfighting doctrine to adapt once again to the South Pacific. Redesigning training plans, acquiring and developing new technologies, cultivating alliances in the region… All of this requires an important effort, which would be an enormous waste if it was only a matter of propaganda. As we’ve seen, China can be a problem to the West by being too strong, but also by being too weak. You can make a bonfire and stomp it down whenever you want, but you still have to watch it so it doesn’t burn your house down by escaping your control. Foreign policy does not have an auto-pilot mode, and the roof might be on fire.

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