Share good ideas and conversation.   Login, Join Us, or Take a Tour!
comment by kleinbl00
kleinbl00  ·  178 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Kleinbl00's Red Pill Reading List: Geopolitic

You can't just leave it there, man! What annoyed you? What surprised you? What made you think? What made you want to not think? What changed about your worldview? What stayed the same?

I just finished Strange Rebels and on the one hand - the idea that the fucking sixties weren't all that goddamn important it's just the fact that the fuckin' 'boomers think everything is about them - is cool. On the other hand, the author is firmly of the opinion that we owe our modern free market salvation to Maggie Thatcher (who didn't go far enough) and Pope John Paul II (because he was Polish, you see) and also Iran and Afghanistan and China. I will freely accuse it of being a 'winger bullshit book.




OftenBen  ·  176 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    You can't just leave it there, man!

Aight -

    What annoyed you?

Mostly how goddamn correct you ended up being. Our original discussion was around the difference between rebellion and mature subversion with regard to making a tangible difference in world events at historical scale. You made the point that with education in the practical history if the last century or so comes the knowledge that democratic processes didn't ever really amount to bupkis with regard to the course of events. Based on the reading list, that appears to be true. Decisions that mobilize troops, actors that conduct the covert and "covert" operations of international relations before, during and after wars are simply not affected by democratic processes. There simply isn't enough time to make decisions that way. I can't tell you how many times I have read and watched Charlie Wilson's War. It drives me to liquor almost every time.

    What surprised you?

How deeply personal history can be. To use the example of Charlie Wilson's War, who the fuck has ever heard of Gust Avrokatos or Mike Vickers? How did a few guys with grudges and bad personnel reviews and a coke-n-strippers habit basically bring about the end of the USSR and change all of global politics forever? How did they defeat the monster that Churchill warned about? I was surprised how divided every nation-state's government's seem to be with regard to international policy. It highlights the damage done to the state department by 45, because it takes decades to cultivate even shitty international relations, to say nothing of developing workable, non shitty, professional and respected ones.

    What made you think?

As much as I talk about the personal nature of history writ large, it's also deeply impersonal. The Russians don't really care about the average American, they want to not be the butt of dumb/poor/drunk/low-life-expectancy jokes. They want a strong domestic economy and they have a history of not playing nice which makes people not want to play nice with them. But Nobody who considers the US an enemy gives a damn about John and Jane Doe. They either have a legitimate grievance about something done without our knowledge or approval or they have a world philosophy that precludes peaceful coexistence.

    What made you want to not think?

How goddamn correct you ended up being. I, as an individual who has no intention of pursuing international politics or covert operations will have exactly zero impact on who decides to bomb who. The best i can hope for is to be a nonviolent actor personally and vote for an anti-war candidate if one ever comes along. Otherwise better to not think about such things except to study history and try to better whatever community I can find or scratch out of the dirt for myself. Bombs will fall or they won't, either way, I'm not a part of the process. Much as I want to take all human failing on my own shoulders, Mattis didn't check in with me before he launched several billion dollars worth of whoop ass at Syria.

    What changed about your worldview?

I take these things significantly less personally. I try to take Dan Carlin's 'Martian' perspective on world events. I'm more interested in the politics of my state and city than national and global events simply because they are more likely to affect me and my opinion of them has a snowball's chance of actually causing some change that might be helpful to the next generation. Hopefully we michiganders can get our asses in gear and save the great lakes from NESTLE and the petrochemical companies running leaky pipe under the Mackinac bridge. Think global act local has never made more sense to me.

    What stayed the same?

I'm still not gonna vote blue team just because. Lesser evilism is no more appealing to me now than in the past. Maybe the blue team will have its house in order the next time national elections roll around. I am not hopeful in this regard. I am reminded of Obama's analogy of the US and national policy as an ocean liner, and of the colossal force needed consistently to bring about a minor course correction. The whole business reinforces the little house on the prairie fantasies we have discussed and you have derided in the past. I don't get to opt out. In some clockwork orange ish way, I get to watch the whole thing unfold and I don't get to look away.

In short, I need to read more. For some reason, no matter how much I listen I still can't seem to get through Durant, even at 1.25x speed. I think I have 17 hours left on the first volume, we're currently discussing the origins and structure of Hinduism.

kleinbl00  ·  176 days ago  ·  link  ·  

First things first: I didn't read Durant to encourage others to read Durant. I read Durant because it's easier to get ahold of than Toynbee, who is responsible for one of my favorite quotes: Civilizations die from suicide, not from murder. Devac was insane enough to follow me up the mountain but it has to stop now.

Second thing: This was a self-exploratory venture through geopolitics. It ended up being a largely rationalist venture but the rationalists are the hardest to argue with. They are the geopolitical equivalent of "reversion to the mean." If I read twenty books and came up with a rationalist point of view, odds are good that if you read the same 20 books you would end up with the same rationalist view. Really, our discussion was "read the following ten thousand pages of prose and see if you can agree with my viewpoint." You'd have come around through sheer fatigue. Doesn't mean I'm right.

I think fundamentally, you're lawful good while I'm chaotic good. I vote Blue Team because they're the lesser of two evils; for lots of people (I'm guessing yourself included) "lesser of two evils" is fightin' words. I'd definitely have voted for Hillary Clinton all over again but not because she was the lesser of two evils. I think she would have done a reasonably good job... from a globalist, center-right point of view. I would much rather have had Bernie Sanders' platform in place but I remain unconvinced that Bernie Sanders would have been as good an administrator. Carter came from a place of good and I think we can both agree he made a bit of a cockup of the place.

An argument for the lesser evil: every time you tug the rope a little closer to you, you're further from the fringe. But you have to grab the rope. The Democratic Socialists of America would have been a joke in the '80s - shit they would have been a joke in the '00s. Yet here we are. I would like to vote Green but at a national or even state level, I don't see it as a tenable choice. Craven pragmatism, that's me.

If I could make a suggestion? You've earned a break. Join me.

Just yesterday, Friedman & Co recommended Judt.

OftenBen  ·  176 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    it has to stop now.

Not happening. I didn't make it to base camp just to take a selfie and go home.

    I think fundamentally, you're lawful good while I'm chaotic good.

Seems like a fair estimation. I am a literal bleeding heart choirboy.

    I think she would have done a reasonably good job... from a globalist, center-right point of view.

I completely agree with this estimation, which is why I couldn't vote for her. I don't want a globalist center-right perspective pushed or endorsed. When you vote in the US it's not like the UN where I get to say 'Yes, with rights' and explain how my support of a candidate or idea is tentative and subject to immediate revocation if certain terms and conditions are not met. A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote in positive, unmitigated support of the Democratic Party and all it stands for. I do not give the blue team my positive, unmitigated support.

    I remain unconvinced that Bernie Sanders would have been as good an administrator.

He wouldn't have been as good an administrator and his term would have been full of stumbling blocks and unfulfilled idealism. He likely would not have won a second term, if he lived long enough to run. Still better than either of the alternatives. Evidently a lot of folks felt the same way, so here we are in the darker, stupider timeline.

    You've earned a break.

I don't think so. The world doesn't take breaks and I have too much enforced downtime as it is. One day maybe my stack of books will be high enough to see over the fence into the promised land.

kleinbl00  ·  176 days ago  ·  link  ·  

We're not very far apart in one ways but in others we're leagues away.

I voted for Bernie in the primaries and would have given him my full-throated support had his journey continued. Quixotic or no, shitty administrator or no, I would have continued to give him money for as long as there were ads to buy. However, the idea that "A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote in positive, unmitigated support of the Democratic Party and all it stands for" strikes me as purest insanity. If someone says "which do you prefer, diarrhea or vomiting" I'ma go with diarrhea. Doesn't mean I'm endorsing diarrhea. Means I'd rather sit on the crapper for hours than hug it for same. Clearly, "a day at the spa" beats both choices but I recognize that if you do not choose, you are allowing others to choose for you.

The last time I voted in person, I wandered into the church and a nice guy in his '40s struck up a conversation with me. Within about five minutes he flat out asked me who he should vote for. He was doing his civic duty, but he felt completely in the dark about his options (it was a state-level election, as I recall). I did my civic duty: I gave him the pros and cons of every choice and let him make up his mind. He resented me for it.

I think that guy has become my democratic exemplar. THESE guys are voting and they are often voting based on color. If you know what's going on, you owe it to future generations to make an informed choice because stupid can't be allowed to win. "Grandpa, how did Jamaica get nuked? Didn't you guys know not to let Trump win?" "Sorry, sweetie, but I voted Jill Stein because principle, shame about those Jamaicans." A darker, stupider timeline indeed... your words, not mine.

When I say "break" I mean "something easy and fun to read." Think of the Century Trilogy as a well-written dramatization of the past 100 years of world history.

OftenBen  ·  176 days ago  ·  link  ·  

We've been down this road before. I'd care not tread down it again unless you think that there is some possible meeting of minds that I can't foresee. You believe that I'm crazy, I believe you are being strong-armed/held hostage by the lack of non-shitty candidates. And we just established that big decisions aren't settled by democratic processes anyway. To re-use a phrase Bombs will fall or they won't, either way, I'm not a part of the process.

Show me an anti-war candidate, they will get everything I can afford to give them and then some. I haven't seen one in my lifetime. Bernie was the closest I think we are likely to get for a few boot-cycles.

I have no taste for crumpets at the moment. There is enough drama in the present day. Saved your link for a later time though.

kleinbl00  ·  175 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    You believe that I'm crazy, I believe you are being strong-armed/held hostage by the lack of non-shitty candidates.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-25/cambridge-analytica-s-promotion-of-discontent-tied-to-bannon

    Bannon said he wanted to use Cambridge Analytica to discourage specific groups of people from voting, including those likely to vote for Democrats, Wylie told lawmakers, according to the partial transcript released on Wednesday.
kleinbl00  ·  176 days ago  ·  link  ·  

It's interesting to me that I can recommend fourteen books and you’re all over it but one more is a bridge too far for some reason.

Trust me on this one.

OftenBen  ·  176 days ago  ·  link  ·  

It's time will come I'm sure.

Devac  ·  176 days ago  ·  link  ·  

A Study of History is on archive.org. You probably found it yourself, but I'm leaving the link anyway.

    Devac was insane enough to follow me up the mountain but it has to stop now.

You made a compelling argument for Durant in your review and I didn't see it as advertising or trying to gather a following or whatever. It looked like the kind of overview of history and ethnology (among other disciplines) that I'd enjoy and, after passing the middle-point of the series, it's still the case.

Also, I track all of my projects and the more ambitious and massive they are, the greater the chance I'll complete them. Same goes for almost all of my studies: I'm half-convinced that I'd drop out three semesters ago if I couldn't take graduate level courses. Grit >> boredom. Dunno if it makes me insane, tho.

kleinbl00  ·  176 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I own Toynbee. However, it's paper. It takes a lot for me to read paper. Audiobooks are easily 99% of my long-form consumption.