Category Archives: Degeneracy

Conspiracy Tales

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the new normal

The town where I grew up is a hotbed of effete radicalism and low-grade mental illness. I came back in my mid-twenties to finish community college. There’s this hipster coffee shop downtown where I used to do all my homework—I’ll call it Café Tangier. One day I noticed a girl there reading a Hebrew novel. Let’s call her Shirley. We hit it off. She was going to university and working in a mall kiosk with her sister and her sister’s boyfriend—all Israelis.

None of these three were bad people. However, they had a friend who was. We’ll call him Lior. Lior had a friend named Jake. They claimed to be working for some kind of IT start-up, but the two of them were always just down at the Tangier, scoping people out, or hanging around the various student co-ops around town: the Caesar Chavez Co-op, Food Not Bombs House, etc. They gave the impression of a couple of con-men with a traveling act, like there was an invisible mist between them that only the two of them could see.

A cell of would-be ecoterrorists had been uncovered—entrapped, really—at the Tangier by an undercover FBI agent about a year before. At the nearby anarchist co-op (which had a neat little bookstore I would occasionally peruse) there was a flyer on the corkboard denouncing the cafe’s owners for allegedly cooperating with the FBI from the get-go of the case, denouncing Tangier hipsters as sell-outs, and warning people to stay away from the place. But it was a hopping little place, lots of coeds, good music, good conversation.

There were other odd characters around the Tangier, too. One of them looked like Bruce Willis—cue-ball bald, mid-forties, in decent shape (but bedraggled in a way that wasn’t convincing) and constantly at the Tangier as if he had nothing else going on. He had this shady gregariousness about him. I’d watch him befriend impressionable looking loners and overhear him shit-test them by peppering them with the most astounding BS.

Anyway, this Lior and Jake—there was something off about them, too. They couldn’t have been younger than 27. Lior was Israeli, in the States (according to him) since adolescence. Jake was a regular American. Their back story kept changing, not in the sense of glaring inconsistencies, but in the sense that it seemed improvised. We used to go out with Shirley and her sister and the sister’s boyfriend, and these two weasels—this Lior and Jake—would hone in on the youngest, most vulnerable looking girls they could find at the bars. One night, Lior showed up at Shirley’s place with a girl who was obviously a high schooler, painfully shy, homely… The whole thing looked very bad.

Now, if you’re thinking I’m a POS for not intervening, what can I tell you? Degeneracy is a triage situation. It was a boisterous house party and I had my own concerns. If I’d walked in on him fucking her, that might’ve been different.

Anyway, I used to ride my bike around town a lot, and one day I started seeing these flyers all over, on lampposts and bus benches: “We are anarchists. We are everywhere.” There was additional text. All I remember was that it contained some threat of violence, but the grievance wasn’t too clear. This was odd, considering not only that the campus radicals and cat-lady activists around town never threatened anyone, but were always very impassioned and particular about whatever cause they were into. But this “We are anarchists” business just looked like a vacuous art project from some out-patient rehab.

One day I was on a foot path beneath a bridge when I got a flat tire. I used to do these road trips in the summer, by bicycle, from the coast up into the Sierras, and I was very proficient with all aspects of bike repair. So I knelt down to patch my tire. Once I had it patched and the glue was drying, I cast my gaze up the path. It ran along a river, but there was a park on the other side. Basically, I’m in the shadow under this bridge, looking up the path, with the river on the left side of my vision, and the park on the right. In the distance, I notice the Bruce Willis-looking guy from the Tangier. He had on a white t-shirt tucked into cargo pants, with this pair of absolutely autistic looking bus station urchins, half his age at most, straggling along behind him. He also had a stack of paper in one hand and a roll of packing tape in the other.

It was mid-morning on a weekday. The park was empty, but I was in the shadow of the bridge, so they couldn’t see me. I watched as this guy directed these two mouth breathers to post flyers on the park benches, and (with no one around to see him) his bearing was just unmistakably military. I went back later to the park, and just as I’d suspected, it was those dumb-fuck “We are anarchists” flyers, all over the playground and picnic tables. Less than a week later, there was a little kristallnacht along the main downtown drag. Someone smashed up the windows of about a dozen shops late one night and spray-painted a bunch of menacing slogans, “We are anarchists” among them. After that, the city council passed emergency regulations, applied for (and received) federal grants to blanket the downtown in surveillance cameras, and the FBI permanently stationed a squadron of some kind at the local police station.

A month or so later, Occupy Wall Street broke out. Hippy liberalville being what it is, a camp mushroomed up at that park where I’d gotten my flat tire. Meanwhile, Lior was the ringleader of a cadre that broke into and holed up in a vacant storefront across from the county courthouse. He ran their Facebook page, and throughout their “occupation” he was constantly on Facebook posting appeals for food and blankets and for people to join in—a rather odd commitment for someone who was supposedly working full-time at a start-up. His rather benign LARP-sesh was broken up after a week, and four of the participants—all lily upscale thrift-shop type college students—got hit with serious federal charges, including “terrorism” shit.

But Lior never faced any consequences.

I didn’t like the guy, nor respect him, but before that I’d have at least greeted him when we saw each other. But afterwards? No way. I stayed the fuck away from that dude from then on, and I never went back to Café Tangier.

Unfollow, Pt. III

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(Part I here, Part II here, Part IV here)

As I stood in the socially-distanced self-checkout of my nearby Idiocracy Costco, gazing vacantly across a field of eggplant-shaped cattle, the whole history of our species from the agricultural revolution flashed before me, and I understood all at once how the instinct for safety is strangling everything worthy that’s in us.

I don’t want to beat my sword into a ploughshare—that’s ridiculous. My sword is who I am. Yet here I am, smashed between a hammer and an anvil. I look at my youngest son and see the most unadulterated aggressive instincts. There’s no resentment or ulterior motive, just pure joy. He just wants to fight—to box and run and sword-fight and do archery—and the whole world is against him. Our world is predicated on neurosis and anti-social impulses. Every protected class of people is fundamentally self-loathing. Every feature of modern life conduces toward cowardice and resignation.

Lysander Spooner described the U.S. Constitution as a contract that binds no one. Ironically, that is now the U.S. government’s position as well. You probably don’t know my identity, and I don’t know yours, but (as you already know) a global shadow government knows both our identities, because its skynet backlogs our every word and keystroke—every purchase and fap sesh—in real time. No proposition could be more straightforward than that this proves you are not a man, a citizen, nor even a consumer (who at least in theory has choices) but a subject.

What does it mean to be a subject? It means you have no moral agency. The mandarins of a parallel society will decide right and wrong for you. A good illustration of this was in the news recently. An Omaha middle school employee named James Fairbanks sent letters to the local press confessing to the murder of a repeat child rapist who had gotten away with a couple slaps on the wrist and was out walking around. Somehow, Fairbanks became aware of him, and of some pretty clear evidence that he intended to continue kid-fucking, and decided to kill him instead.

He was charged with first degree murder. The district judge who ordered him held without bond declared that, “There is a reason we are a nation of laws and don’t take justice into our own hands.” Yes, exactly—so that children can be raped. That is the reason. According to his own daughter, the victim in this case raped lots of kids over a period of decades. Lots of people knew what he had done, and could reasonably know that he was never going to stop, yet none but Fairbanks took the highly intuitive step of greasing him. Why not? Because the system told them not to.

Milan Kundera said that “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” What’s this guy’s beef with power? Well, by power, he meant the Stasi, who were capable of a great deal less than the U.S. government, but at least knew how to read. As Jonathan Bowden once remarked, under liberalism, you talk like a Jamaican gangster, and books don’t have to be burned because 40% of the population can’t read them anyhow. We are to our forebears what a beagle is to a grey wolf. By the sum of a million little undecisions, we sign up for this degradation.

The coronavirus lockdowns—the destruction of livelihoods and total abrogation of civil liberties—put me in an extremely libertarian, even anarchist place. I wasn’t alone: a great deal of overlap began to manifest between the anarchist accounts I follow on social media, and the alt-right ones. And then something strange happened: the Minneapolis riots broke out, and (apparently for the sake of consistency) not a few of these alt-right people stuck around on the anarchist side, decrying supposed police heavy-handedness against African-Americans and lauding the riots as a “boogaloo,” with memes like “This is what ‘don’t tread on me’ looks like.”

This is an absolutely delusional take.

First of all, Metro PD is undoubtedly a part of “the system.” But so is the media, the Department of Justice, and every public official in Minnesota (and beyond) now calling for Derick Chauvin’s head. Yet (as always with these events) the rioters’ grievances are focused solely on municipal police—and on the average white person, whose “privileges” and “implicit attitudes” are presumed to be propping up the world like Atlas.

And this narrative persists when the same system—that just put 100 million people out of work and vilified them for protesting peacefully; that backlogs virtually all our private communications; that tells us not to “take justice into our own hands” and ice a child rapist—gives a mob the go-ahead to torch American cities. George Carlin once remarked that “The upper class keeps all of the money, pays none of the taxes. The middle class pays all of the taxes, does all of the work. The poor are there just to scare the shit out of the middle class.” Accordingly, as with every race riot since Rodney King, Minneapolis is 100% a media phenomenon. And if the system has direct access to your brain the way it does with these “protesters,” then you’re not against the system. You are the system.

The alt-right is the only sub-culture that clearly perceives the cynical ways that the deviant and the marginalized are pressed into service by the powers the be. What the alt-right cannot see is the way this draws their alienation into fruitless hostility with those groups. Orwell once said that “if you encourage totalitarian methods, the time may come when they will be used against you instead of for you.” That time is now. The minute corona hit stateside, the whole alt-right peanut gallery came down with a major case of hyperchondria, praising the Chinese and denigrating “conspiracy theories.”

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neoliberalism is statism

It’s very hard to believe (for example) that the TRS network can be so well-versed in Whitney Webb’s reporting on Israeli spyware (they never seem to cite her work, but it’s the sole basis of a lot of their podcasts) and not take seriously everything she’s been reporting about DARPA and big tech plotting to chip everybody like cattle. Deep-diving the “evolutionary psychology” of every lumpy kike they worked with in a call center is more interesting, I suppose. But when every problem looks Yiddish, it’s because you have a favorite gas.

This is actually analogous to certain alt-right criticisms of the alt-lite, e.g., Tommy Robinson:

The whole argument of all these sorts of anti-Islamists is, Muslims are scary, please don’t hurt us… All they’re doing is, they want to preserve their own nihilism, because Islam is a metaphysically objectivist system… Whereas these western nihilists just want to wallow in their own hedonism, that’s what they want to defend.

This kind of eggheaded take ignores the fact that alt-right thought leaders are as eager as the EDL to be kept creatures of a paternalistic state, so long as no one rocks the boat. I mean, what’s more “metaphysically objectivist” than a chimp-out? Forcing people into stadiums to do calisthenics hasn’t altered mass man’s basic mediocrity anywhere it’s been tried. The only difference between the alt-right (or 3P or whatever autistic label they’re giving themselves nowadays) and fully automated luxury space communism is that the former is racist. Well I don’t think that racism is all that wicked per se. But if you’d trade the Bill of Rights for Hugo Boss, what exactly is setting you apart from the homies?

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To see human liberty as an illusion is perverse. I’m reasonably certain that western powers are abetting the HK protests. But no one really believes this demagogue when he says he “has no idea what these protests are even about.” And what they’re definitely not about is biological determinism.

Whiteness is not the paramount threat to misplaced power. Liberty is. I’m not talking about capitalism or NAP or any libertarian dogma. I’m talking about the things that make the heart exult. I’m talking about the experiences we can only have—the sensations we can only feel—when we are free to decide our path. “All good things are wild and free,” as Thoreau put it.

Liberty is priceless. There’s no identity worth trading for it.

Achtung Juden

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What ideology unites Antifa and 4Chan, manosphere he-thots and intersectional harpies, tradcaths and neopagans, wignats and hoteps, Dugin and Zizek, peacenik granolas and international arms dealers?

“Well it’s your own damn fault if you’re so hated!” By those clowns? Really? A man with no enemies is a man with no character, and these enemies are not sending their best. Like the Jersey City shooting earlier this month, last night’s machete attack on an ultra-orthodox Hanukkah party in upstate New York appears to have been carried out by a lumpen African-American under the influence of YouTube Wakanda theology.

Now, I’m half-Jewish, and basically a modern, secular person—I have about as much in common with Hasidic Jews as I do with the Denisovans. So it’s as strange to see people who are so different from me being attacked for what little we have in common, as it is startling to see how different the backgrounds of the perpetrators tend to be.

You may recall, for instance, last year’s events at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue. No, not the Purim party. I’m talking about the sabbath service where a lonely old wignat truck driver with an AR mistook the place for a range and did target practice on a dozen or so nursing home inmates in wheel chairs. Update: they didn’t survive. You may also recall the following April, when a homeschooled sperg male nurse took out a Federal Reserve banker at a shul in San Diego, wounding the rabbi in the process, along with an eight-year old girl who runs the porn industry. The perp there seems not to have had any imaginary friends, though he did have the next best thing, i.e., 8Chan anons.

Then there was the 2014 Kansas City JCC shooting, also perpetrated by a wignat, who killed a kid and two adults, all of them gingerbread-baking white Methodists in RealTree camo and ugly Christmas sweaters. At least the 2012 shooter in Toulouse (that’s France, for all you Victor Hugo fans) managed to hit actual members of the tribe, killing three toddlers and wounding five others at a synagogue daycare. Oh, and how about the 2009 DC Holocaust Museum shooting? That one took out a married black father of three, which is not as rare as a unicorn, but should probably require a permit or something. Then there was the Seattle JCC kindergarten shooting in 2006, and the El Al ticket counter shooting in LAX a year or so prior. Oh, and who could forget the 1999 JCC shooting in LA? A real classic, which took the lives of four children, a secretary, and the mailman.

Why do these things keep happening? I’m sure some anthropomorphic little Eric Cartman somewhere would love to fill me in. Yes, the Jews have their fair share of perverts, plutocrats, embezzlers and corrupt politicians. But these pogroms never seem to target those Jews—or any pervs, plutocrats, embezzlers, politicians, etc. So the question is not what the Jews have done to deserve these atrocities. Because if that was the question, they wouldn’t really be atrocities, would they? “Well they’re not, teehee.” Yeah, tell me more about elite pedophile rings there, guy who supports kindergarten shootings.

The reason these things keep happening is because Jews don’t prevent it. And so the real question is, what is to be done to prevent it?

I don’t intend the question as a “silence is violence” callout. Silence can be complicity in the unconscionable, but a lot of unconscionable shit goes on every day, and no one owes it to anyone else to think or feel anything. The solution, then, depends on the Jews. Do we want to live, or don’t we? It’s that simple.

I know that’s sounds trite. I only ask because lots of Jews don’t want to. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying that Hitler or Chemelnitsky is coming. Believe it or not—in spite of all these attacks—that’s not the problem. I’m also not talking about Jews who are estranged from their heritage, either. No. I’m talking about Jews who make fellow traveling with some form of anti-semitism a literal component of Judaism, and of yiddishkeit.

Sound far-fetched? These types are quite vocal, and they’re the tip of a huge psychological iceberg. On the left stand the anti-Zionists, who should be irrelevant—clammy, furtive little figures like Philip Weiss, Norman Finkelstein, Israel Shamir, and Gilad Atzmon, who make entire careers and identities out of shame, discomfort and denunciation of an identity they could easily just walk away from instead. Proof that mainstream liberal Judaism essentially fellow-travels with this pathology is the recent, wholesale renunciation of Zionism by Jewish Voice for Peace—whose board members include Tony Kushner, Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein. (It was 1941 when Jabotinsky declared “all those who regard [peace with the Palestinians] as a condition sine qua non for Zionism may as well say ‘non’ and withdraw from Zionism.” Better 78 years late than never, I suppose.) Liberal Zionists like Jeremy Ben Ami and Peter Beinart are actually worse, because they’re pushing from within for the Zionist movement to reflect JVP’s attitudes. Of the Palestinian factions they imagine they’d like to conciliate, each one, including the internationally recognized PLO, has a completely undisavowed and remarkably recent history of deadly attacks on Israeli women, children and elderly. But then, no one in J-Street has to actually live with those consequences (unless J-Street is working with frummies from Monsey I don’t know about.)

As bad as all this is, there’s something far more patently offensive to the intellect about the left anti-Zionists’ mirror image on the right, among the burgeoning ranks of sycophantic, alt-right adjacent Jews desperately flailing to live down every absurd libel and stereotype as if it applied to them personally. (At least having no pride or self-esteem whatsoever suits leftists.) Tech entrepreneur Ron Unz, for example, runs the largest aggregator of anti-Jewish content on the web, where he publishes his own rambling, scarcely readable essays that reprise familial and childhood resentments at great length before eventually getting around to the ostensible topic, which is always how bad his own people are. Self-help charlatan Mike Cernovich similarly grovels for acceptance from Twitter Nazis. Classics professor Paul Gottfried pathetically fawns all over pseudoscientist Kevin MacDonald (and is shocked, shocked to find that liberal journalists associate him with alt-right leaders he actually associates with.) Eccentric inventor Henry Makow writes gushing blurbs for latter-day clerical fascist E. Michael Jones’s self-published screeds; and blog posts with titles like “Anti-Semitism is Legitimate Self Defense.” Would he like somebody to murder him, or what?

One looks for sanity in this febrile atmosphere of ADHD Twitter discourse, of anomie and atomization and dementia, and sees the Jewish civil society commentariat, the ADL, the Atlantic, etc., exuding precisely the fear and panic that the high school bully mentality of anti-semitism veritably lives to elicit. When has official Jewry in America ever prevented an attack on Jews here? When they aren’t pushing constitutionally dubious legislation that makes us look ugly and stupid, their solution to everything is “education”: more words, factoids, arguments, and admonishments against wrongthink; to explain ourselves for the umpteenth time to a balkanized and stupefied public irremediably leery of smug expertise.

In Russia, in 1911, Jabotinsky had a prescient sense of this:

Now they have raised a rumpus over ritual murder, and once again we have taken on the role of prisoners on trial: we press our hands to our hearts, with quivering fingers we leaf through old stacks of supporting documents that no one is interested in, and we swear right and left that we do not consume this drink, that never has a drop of it passed our lips, may the Lord smite me on the spot. . . How much longer will this go on? Tell me, my friends, are you not tired by now of this rigmarole? Isn’t it high time, in response to all of these accusations, rebukes, suspicions, smears, and denunciations—both present and future—to fold our arms over our chests and loudly, clearly, coldly, and calmly put forth the only argument which this public can understand: why don’t you all go to hell?

Who are we, to make excuses to them; who are they to interrogate us? What is the purpose of this mock trial over an entire people where the verdict is known in advance? Our habit of constantly and zealously answering to any rabble has already done us a lot of harm and will do much more. The situation that has been created as a result tragically confirms a well known saying: ‘Qui s’excuse s’accuse.’ We ourselves have acquainted our neighbors with the thought that for every embezzling Jew it is possible to drag the entire ancient people to answer. . . Every accusation causes among us such a commotion that people unwittingly think, ‘Why are they so afraid of everything? Apparently their conscience is not clear.’ Exactly because we are ready at every minute to stand at attention, there develops among others an inescapable view about us, as of some specific thievish tribe. We think that our constant readiness to undergo a search without hesitation and to turn out our pockets will eventually convince mankind of our nobility; look what gentlemen we are—we do not have anything to hide!

This is a terrible mistake. The real gentlemen are those who will not allow anyone for any reason to search their apartment, their pockets or their soul. Only a person under surveillance is ready for a search at every moment. This is the only one inevitable conclusion from our maniac reaction to every reproach—to accept responsibility as a people for every action of a Jew, and to make excuses in front of everybody including hell knows who. I consider this system to be false to its very root.

Old Jabotinsky could’ve saved Franz Kafka a lot of time and ink. But even the State of Israel cannot help us if this remains our mentality—not over there, where it can scarcely protect its own citizens from this kind of attack, and damn sure not here in America. Its leaders are busy fighting corruption charges, and casting belatedly and superfluously about for 1940s anti-semitism; it sends its condolences, as peremptory as any American politician’s. If the body count approaches a dozen, you may get an Israeli cabinet minister at your memorial service. Mazal tov.

So do you want to live, or don’t you? The state of our solidarity, of our situational awareness, of our rectal fortitude, is as sorry as it was in 1932. But though I may have as little in common with Jersey City frummies as I do with a Denisovan, though these things may happen thousands of miles away, every one of these attacks is an attack on my soul. Zionism is as much about spiritual exigencies as it is about practical ones. For over a thousand years, our ancestors were forbidden to own land, enter an honest trade, testify in court, ride a horse, or carry a weapon for self-defense. We were a “protected” class. A crime against us was a property crime. That is why the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was so important: not because it prevented any great proportion of the crimes committed against us by the Germans, but because it vindicated our dignity as human beings. The Israeli army exists as much to defend Israeli territory, lives, and infrastructure, as it does in order for you to know unequivocally that you are a free and equal human being.

I got into a debate not long ago with a couple of law school friends, about a Texas law requiring public contractors to sign a pledge not to boycott Israel. Though not Jewish, my friends are mainstream, pro-Israel conservatives. They defended the law, on the premise that a government contract is not a right; and I opposed it, on free speech grounds. In the course of our conversation, I ranted a bit about lobbyists, about Jewish pushiness and Israeli arrogance and how some principles (e.g., free speech) are higher than my ethnic affinities. I see now that this was a mistake—not because of the facts, but because of my motives. I wasn’t just defending free speech: I was obliquely defending Jews, by melodramatically trying to demonstrate that my loyalties are not conflicted. But my friends didn’t have any doubts about that.

So it doesn’t matter if this or that Jew is a bad person. Are you? Or are you worthy to hold your head up and live? Because if you aren’t, there’s always alt-right Twitter, or left anti-Zionism, or banging on the office doors of senators and police commissioners demanding indifferent protection. Just know that if you seek to validate and defend yourself in this manner, your work will never be done, because you will have handed all your power over to others, when they didn’t even ask for it. Almost no issue in public discourse needs to be about Jews in any fundamental way—not even, e.g., U.S. military aid to Israel, or the phenomenon of anti-semitic shootings. Rather, you need to fundamentally be about yourself, before you can be for others. And an attack on Jews is an attack on you.

So never denounce your own kind. Never second-guess a friend, or an enemy. Fold your arms over your chest, like Jabotinsky said. Be clear, cold, and calm. Don’t panic. Be stationary, be stoic. Exude utter contempt. That’s number one.

Number two is, be prepared to physically defend yourself, and your loved ones. Over the same weekend as the Monsey attack, a gunman stormed a church in rural Texas, and was immediately shot down by a parishioner before he was able to kill anyone else. QED: if Jews weren’t such soft targets, these attacks wouldn’t be happening.

It’s that simple.

 

 

Crocodile Logos

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the god pill is dispensed by social media, as soon as you hit the wall

“Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus. If it could be understood it would not answer their purpose. Their security is in their faculty of shedding darkness, like the scuttlefish, thro’ the element in which they move, and making it impenetrable to the eye of a pursuing enemy, and there they will skulk.” —Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Francis Adrian Van der Kemp (1810)

“LOL, are you one of these coomers who wants to ban ‘hate speech’ but not porn?”

I don’t want to ban either. But when was the last time porn inspired a shooting? The social and psychological ill-effect of porn has been a lively topic of public discussion for nearly a decade—a discussion, not a debate, because the harms are proven. But until the alt-right got in on it, the issue was how to stop yourself, not about getting the government to do it for you.

I’m not sure porn is as bad as its most stringent detractors say it is—not because the effects aren’t real, but because choice still exists in the matter:

From a philosophical standpoint, pornography, like any other foul use of speech, has no socially redeeming value. But there is great value in having a government that lacks power in criminalizing people’s words, pictures, or thoughts, especially for the ill-defined goals of “community standards” imposed on other people. I’m not your parent, I’m not your priest.

As far as the “culture war”, this is the sort of thing you see pushed by Twitter conservatives, but there is no appetite for it in the real world. (Nothing is impossible for people who don’t have to do the fucking work.) Hard-core antipornites are a hashtag, not a voting block.

But meme magic is real: the above comment was stolen from a Reddit thread about a letter to AG Barr demanding he take action against porn, sent this week by four congressmen in the immediate wake of last weekend’s #BanPorn trending hashtag.

I have kids, okay? The oldest is nearly a teenager. My own formative years were substantially derailed by degeneracy, my own and that of others. So I’m hyper-aware of mass media social engineering, occult symbols—all that shit. And porn is clearly a tool of social engineering, I just don’t think that the harms are any worse than giving people who think like E. Michael Jones the power to ban it—and not just because he brazenly opposes the Bill of Rights in favor of Torquemada’s forceps. (He just told Alex Jones on a podcast interview that speech restrictions on social media are “antithetical to what we believe as Americans.” Presumably, he’s referring to the First Amendment. Yet he frequently, and with a straight face, calls for the reimposition of medieval Church doctrines which consigned Jews to second-class, “protected” status. I should think that would violate the First Amendment, too. Certainly it would be antithetical to what George Washington believed, about the Jews and religious liberty in general. It’s disappointing to have to take this stuff seriously, but as of this week we’re up to our third anti-semitic shooting in little over a year, and that’s just here in America.)

Jones’s thesis and most widely-quoted insight is that “Sexual liberation is a form of political control.” Truism like these can be oversimplified. Determining that you aren’t interested in having a say in what goes on between two consenting adults you don’t know is quite different than blackmailing a gay Senator. And if sexual liberation means the freedom to choose unwisely, it must also mean the freedom not to, which is a bit more than can be said for life under theocracy.

But to the considerable extent that sexual liberation is indeed a form of political control, so is sexual repression. When Jones bangs on about Wilhelm Reich and Theodore Adorno, what he flatly misunderstands is that those guys were not just condemning religion or the traditional family as such. They were also saying, basically, that those institutions contained a great deal of repressed sexual energy, and that fascism was those people’s way of having an orgy (sometimes literally.) Think about it: when the Iranian morality patrol drags an Instagram model by her hair to a police station, are they just repressing the sexual impulses of others, or are they sublimating their own? Are you sure you want people like that deputized?

Jones himself is quite a shill for the Ayatollahs. I realize that sounds jaundiced, but there’s really no better way to describe it: as the paid guest of a regime that has murdered hundreds of American servicemen, he travels to Iran—a country where Christians are consigned to the same second-class “protected” status Jones would like imposed upon Jews here—and appears on its state-run media to denounce the United States wholesale as morally corrupted by Jews. Well, there’s plenty wrong with the United States (and the Jews) but that’s no less aid and comfort than Tokyo Rose gave Hirohito.

Though of course there were various Jewish shrinks and impresarios (among many, many Gentiles) who helped to sell it, the mid-twentieth century was hardly the first time in world history that decadence has broken out. If you’re an acolyte of Jones, you’ll be amazed to discover that it has even happened occasionally without the aid of Jews. Nature is cyclical, not linear, and dark energies are going to get released one way or another. Hawthorne understood this very well. Not every behavior that reason shows to be perverse or destructive is amenable to our complete control, and the controls we do place on them should be as circumspect as possible, if only because easy assurance that we can subdue or eradicate the forces of nature is always a form of hubris, whether espoused by trans-humanists or theocrats.

Jones, for example, is fond of remarking that Islam upholds “the logos of the family.” But a lot of sub-rosa perversion goes on in Muslim countries, and Iran is no exception. Anyone who has had their brush with Muslim culture knows exactly what I’m talking about and how widespread it is. You can blame this all on the west (or the Jews), but everybody knows about the prophet’s pedophilic predilections. But even in modern America, traditional morality can actually disrupt the “logos of the family.” In 1989, in a case Hawthorne would’ve appreciated, the Supreme Court heard a challenge (Michael H. v. Gerald D.) to a California statute granting the presumption of paternity to the husband of the mother. A woman had cheated on her husband; they stayed together, but the biological father of the child she bore wanted visitation rights. Writing for the majority upholding the challenged law, Justice Scalia reasoned that it was supported by cultural norms and longstanding jurisprudence intended to protect the sanctity of marriage and the family. So in the name of protecting family, an infant child was denied, until the age of majority, the right to ever see or meet a biological parent who wanted to be in her life.

If you’re exceptionally miserable with a spouse, should you really have to prove—you, personally, to a judge—that one of you was beaten or cheated on in order to leave? Should you have to hazard pregnancy every time you shtup the missus? Multiply the you in this instance times a hundred million people and that’s how we got contraception and no-fault divorce. How monomaniacal do you have to be to believe that Jews are a necessary condition here? Miller and Roe came after Griswold, not before. But my point with these over-worn examples is that traditional sexual norms are not so cut-and-dry as the tradcath community wants to believe. It has to do with more than just full D-and-E abortions and story time drag queens with prolapsed rectums. And even if it didn’t, the alt-right argument that those things dramatically affect every man, woman and child from sea to shining sea is as obtuse and disconnected from reality as the libertarian argument that you should be okay with having a crack house next door, so long as it doesn’t violate the non-aggression principle. I mean, without too much effort on my part, my kids have never seen a drag queen, and no one in my life has ever had a late-term abortion. While those things are certainly sickening, and result from, and contribute to an aggregate deterioration in public morality, for the most part you still have to go online to feel affected by it.

And this helps illustrate a larger point: though you can pontificate and grandstand and merch-hawk on social media, the simple fact is that the scale of political community in America is so far beyond the traditional agora that resistance on a grand scale is illusory. Call it what you want, blame whomever you like, but that ship has sailed, and the way to find it is not through Congress or your ISP. “Seek not abroad, turn back into thyself, for in the inner man dwells the truth.” You’re online half the day, you don’t have three people you’d be willing to help move a couch, and you’re gonna stop a hundred million strangers from masturbating? Please. We live in times of anomie, depravity, and dissolution, but that isn’t stopping you from worshipping, getting in shape, getting an education, or starting a family. Spending time online in the alt-right, however, may be stopping you.

Don’t believe me? Well…. Porn is harmful, right? It’s addictive, it’s isolating, it detracts from real relationships, sets up unrealistic expectations, and exposes children to obscenity. It turns you into a hamster on a wheel chasing an ever more elusive hit of dopamine. Well guess what? So does social media, in the exact same way. It’s addictive, it’s isolating, it detracts from real relationships, sets up unrealistic expectations, and exposes children to predators and obscenity. It turns you into a hamster on a wheel chasing an ever more elusive hit of dopamine. The harm from porn addiction is a lot like the harm from simple overuse of the internet. And who’s on the internet more than the fucking alt-right? Sluts? Spammers? Grifters? Coomers? A man is known by the company he keeps. “But porn has never been more readily accessible!” That’s right—the problem is the computer, not just the content. The medium is the message. If all porn was removed from it tomorrow, the internet would be nearly as big a degeneracy agonist as it is now with all the anal sex. It destroys critical brain regions. It causes blindness (yes, even without porn.) It breaks up families. It renders higher cognitive functions reptilian, almost by design. The effects are observable.

So if you’re “rejecting degeneracy” or “revolting against the modern world” on Twitter and YT, you may have a problem. Twitter is awash in porn, yet E. Michael Jones posts there multiple times a day to over 17,000 followers. Do you think tradcath/alt-right content would even be on Twitter at all if it wasn’t helping the platform’s business model? “Well, the alt-right is using it to get a good message out.” Did you not read what I just wrote thirty seconds ago about addiction, social isolation, and fucking blindness? Or can’t you remember? No matter what anyone says, social media serves only two purposes: narcissistic aggression, and huckstering. Almost every internet personality with any kind of following is a frivolous grifter to some degree, and the mark they need in order to buy and sell is you.

Notice how Roosh didn’t need Christianity to become JQ-woke? He’d dialed that bit of vindictiveness in already—being a literal e-thot was no impediment, but eventually he hit the wall. Jesus is nothing but a last refuge for this kind of narcissist, and Roosh is no less narcissistic as a Christian. All he did was gauge the wind and stock next products, posing with a vacuous, far-off look of wannabe profundity all the time like some Insta slag having breakfast at the Four Seasons Wailea. Talk about idolatry—would anyone who has an ounce of shame and self-awareness be selfie-sticking a toll road to Damascus? And here we start to see how wonderfully convenient it must be to have recourse to so ready-made a vocation as castigating Jews at every turn. Incidentally, devout seersucker crusader Nick Fuentes is altogether a sly, deranged little Coco Puff packer on the order of Milo Yiannopolous. There is simply no reason to take any of these carnival barkers seriously. “Doctor” Jones is no exception, and in case you don’t believe me, he’s having a Christmas sale, and takes Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. I’m not saying the man shouldn’t make a living, but online marketing isn’t a real job no matter how much you love Jesus. Moral preening on social media is no less a sin of pride than physical preening, but at least Instagram whores have enough modesty not to press the Almighty into their service.

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In the Quran it is written that, when Judgment Day is concluded and the unfaithful are consigned to hell, they will cry out to Satan that he deceived them, and he will reply that, “I had no authority over you, but I called you, and you came.” Choose wisely, frens. Lolcowing Tinder screenshots of fat girls and single-moms is not anti-degeneracy, it requires degeneracy. It’s a chickenshit cope, and the only reason you don’t feel pathetic doing it is because it absolves you of having to face a real interaction—just like porn. “When men can hate without risk, their stupidity is easily convinced, the motives supply themselves.” (Think I can’t use Céline to mock the alt-right? Yeah, keep using Jesus to get retweets.)

St. Augustine wrote about finding his way to God by overcoming profligacy and waywardness. Without hedonism being available to him as an option, there would be no Confessions. There would be no Saint Augustine. Free will is perhaps the most important concept in teleological ethics and Abrahamic theology. Yet for over a millennium under Jewish, Christian and Islamic theocracies, people were for the most part not free to choose any number of things we take for granted today, including sexual profligacy. When people are not free to face their darker nature, they lose the capacity and the perspective to resist it. This is one reason why a millennium of theocracy has now given way to libertinism. And people who aren’t free to face their darker nature need a scapegoat, which the Jews provided to Europe for a thousand years. Yeah I know, they were very very naughty. But gentiles who were similarly naughty did not get scapegoated in this way, and Jews who weren’t did. And this scapegoat is exactly the role the Jews play in the alt-right/tradcath weltanschaung today. Collective responsibility is precisely what Roosh, EMJ and the rest of the alt-right believe in, and it is utterly “antithetical to what we believe as Americans.”

I know, I know: there are lots of wicked Jews on the loose nowadays, and they’re up to all manner of mischief. But the psychological mechanism underlying their importance to you and E. Michael Jones isn’t entirely connected to whether/to what extent this is true. According to the most recent Forbes list, 1/5 of the world’s billionaires are Jewish. (European Gentiles make up nearly 60%, so don’t talk to me about “overrepresentation.”) Does the alt-right focus only 1/5th of it’s animus on the Jews (or 60% on European Gentiles?) Hardly. The ready coherence of narratives like Jones’s would lose a great deal of force without this antagonist, both real and imaginary. For if the Jews are the enemies of all mankind, then mankind is not the enemy of itself, and believers can very cheaply be absolved of a great deal of introspection.

The Church (which in any case began from a schism among the Jews) has gotten a great deal of mileage out of this little loophole. Can it be a coincidence that the Church has seen its sharpest decline in public prestige and moral legitimacy only since the emancipation of the Jews? So thoroughly is the faith predicated on the negation of Judaism that any Jew’s conversion represents its ultimate legitimation. No penitent drunk or gap-toothed Papuan’s baptism could ever serve to vindicate Christianity like the chastened, exhausted collapse of a Hebrew before the smug mercy of his ancestors’ tormentors. Yet without recourse to project inner foreboding upon these recalcitrants—as if into a spittoon—St. Augustine’s advice to “seek not abroad” had finally to be taken, and we don’t much like when the abyss gazes back into us now, do we?

That is why Vatican II was so undermining to the Church. When Jones says “You can have unity in the Church, or good relations with the Jews, but not both,” he’s absolutely right—he just doesn’t understand why. “When men can hate without risk, their stupidity is easily convinced, the motives supply themselves.” And when they can’t, they might actually have to look in the mirror. But if that’s too much for you, you have an alternative in E. Michael Jones—a shrill mountebank whose pathetic career consists in conscripting Christ Jesus into the pride and vanity of moral grandstanding on social media, and hardly has greater social value than pornography. Like the alt-right more broadly, he’s a spiritual crutch for those who will always be stuck among the middling realms of wisdom and understanding. But if that’s really what those types need to keep from fondling themselves, they’re more than welcome to hate me. By my stripes be healed, frens. I don’t claim to speak for God, but at least I’m not asking for your money.

A Death in Reno

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If a man dies in Reno, did he ever really live?

Lou was a Serb from Cincinnati. I knew him because his mail-order bride was a friend of my Russian mother-in-law. Her name was Yulia. She’d been a schoolteacher in Ukraine.

Neither of them had any kids. Except for her mother back home, neither of them had any relatives, period. They lived in a one-bedroom apartment a few blocks down from us. I’d see him maybe twice a year at my in-laws’ place, and when we had them over for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving—that was my big act of charity for this guy, and a week later, every year, we’d get a package with treats and toys for the kids, and a thank-you card with a hand-written note that couldn’t have been more heartfelt. Just thinking about those packages, I feel awful. This guy languished and died three blocks down from me, for six years, almost totally alone—no kids, no friends, no extended family—and I knew, and I saw him less often than I see the garbageman.

At one time, years ago, Lou had a good-paying, white-collar job with some big company, but he’d been in a car wreck and lost a good deal of his mind. He was soft-spoken. He liked to talk politics, or high-brow movies, but he’d get confused real easy and lose his train of thought in mid-sentence. Once in awhile he’d make a wicked, salty joke, and you’d catch a glimpse of the man that used to inhabit him—witty, irreverent, self-assured. But mostly he just seemed vulnerable, because he knew he was crippled in the head, and when he realized that you knew, he’d get real embarrassed and clam up. I made it a policy to make conversation and treat him like he was perfectly normal. This was easy to do, because my in-laws and a lot of the friends they’d have around for parties were all educated and very self-righteously liberal, but Lou was conservative, which meant that even with his 6.5% rate of brain usage (or whatever it was) he was still smarter than most of them.

He and Yulia lived on his social security, and a pension from his old employer, but it wasn’t much, so they had to work. They were well into their seventies when we met. He worked “security” (I’d make the scare quotes bigger if I could) at a golf course. The place paid nine bucks an hour. She used to fold clothes seasonally, at department stores, which scarcely paid more. A couple of better-off Russian families in the neighborhood would hire her to give their kids language lessons, but they never stuck with it.

Yulia was already in her sixties when Lou brought her to the United States. She got her green card after they married, but she never became a citizen, because she spent six months out of the year with her elderly mother in Ukraine. She had a meager pension over there that she lived off of and used for airfare. This couldn’t have been entirely for her mother’s benefit, because she never went back during the winter. While she was gone, Lou would subsist on the McDonald’s Dollar Menu, and cheap TV dinners. He had a tremor in his hands. I doubt he could’ve opened a can of tuna.

Eventually, the golf course let him go, so he started driving for Uber. It made him feel pretty slick, like he was on the cutting edge. He even bought a pair of sunglasses and a faux-leather jacket, but he drove so far below the speed limit and racked up so many complaints about it that Uber fired him, too. Then he started driving for Lyft. This was right around the time the iPhone 7 came out, and some floozy passenger left one in his car. A couple hours later, as he was driving around, the thing started ringing like crazy from beneath the seat, so he pulled over and retrieved it, but he was embarrassed to answer because he was too confused to know where it came from or how to give it back, and too embarrassed to admit that he was too confused to figure it all out. So he went to McDonald’s to get a coffee and think things through, but all he came up with was to toss the phone in the bathroom trashcan and delete his Lyft app for good, forfeiting three or four hundred dollars of his own in the process.

The cancer took him quick—it couldn’t have been more than six weeks ago that I heard he’d gotten the diagnosis. It had probably been a decade or more since he’d even had a routine physical. I never went to see him in the hospital. My wife works sixty hours a week, I’m in medical school, our kids are growing—who has time? Yulia reached out to his nearest relative, a grand-niece somewhere in Illinois. Apparently, she isn’t interested. Yulia’s not going to host a funeral for him either. She’s trying to save money. She didn’t even bother to have his body dressed up, so he wore a hospital gown to his cremation. She plans to send his ashes to this niece by regular mail, probably in a store-brand freezer bag, and go back to Ukraine with his life insurance payout.

Thanksgiving—that was my big act of charity that I did for Lou. Everything we do for others in America is fetishized, performative, peremptory, and remote. Toys for Tots, breast cancer, all this kind of de-personalized annual bullshit. If we listened to our hearts, we might have to take Jesus’s advice. And then what would become of Uber, and McDonald’s, and the iPhone 7?

A Serb—a man—died this month, in Reno, on All Souls Day, alone, in an indifferent hospital ward named for the mother of God, off an interstate freeway that never stops. I hope there’s something better for him beyond.

il y a une lumière

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mirror mirror, on the wall

>”For some, Notre Dame serves as a symbol of an idealized France that never really existed.
>”For some, the human brain, which is really just taco meat, serves as a symbol of an idealized, interconnected web of neural pathways.”
>”For some, geometry serves as a discriminatorily encoded reification of hierarchies of institutional dominance in a romanticized grid of space-time.”
>”For some, Botticelli’s Venus serves to unrealistically conflate womanhood with light and beauty, thus obscuring and denigrating cankles, acne, period blood, cockroaches, dead puppies, and choleric diarrhea flecked with wiry asshairs.”
>”For some, a cocker spaniel is a child, and a kindergartener is a melanoma.”
>”For some, belly buttons are assholes, midgets are space dolphins, and you can get pregnant in the poopy hole.”

The Two-Pronged Thesis, Illustrated

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more than demographic replacement

(1) Capitalism (the pretense of endless technological and economic development) is a natural complement to progressivism (the pretense of endless moral advancement); and

(2) the cultural assault on whiteness is a natural complement to the destruction of the middle class.

As an example (a perfect example) of how this works, consider, if you will, the following 21st-century reimagining of Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms:

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Freedom of Speech

(1) Freedom of Speech: In the original, two white-collared gents are craning their necks to hear a blue-collar Joe speak his mind, because social status is not the whole measure of human worth. In the revision, two men who apparently sell burner phones in a mall are craning their necks toward a moon-faced woman in a plunging blouse, whose practical utility in the community is as unclear as a LinkedIn profile with a description that reads “Seeking opportunities.” Superficial characteristics such as the subjects’ ethnicity, gender and/or style are the sole and total measures of their intrinsic worth.

Incidentally, in order to emphasize the white male (presumably a bartender or used car salesman) listening to the lady-POC, the artists not only cast him as the best-dressed (i.e., the richest) person in the room, they intuit, in spite of their ideological conditioning, that in order to be the kind of white male who cares what she has to say, he would need to have a rapey neck tattoo. Just as it’s easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of capitalism, the browning of America is easier to imagine as a temp-to-hire gig economy than as a workforce with bargaining power. Fulmination over the signifiers of identity serves instead to distract from wage stagnation and insoluble debt.

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Freedom of Worship

(2) Freedom of Worship: In the original, you have a Jew (foreground, right), Protestants (the elderly couple with clasped hands), a Catholic (the blond in the middle with the Rosary), a skeptic or agnostic (the pensive-looking, dark-haired man behind her with one hand tugging on his chin) and a black woman, presumably Southern Baptist, in the back (in the original you can see more of her; part of the frame is cut out here).

Meanwhile, in the revision, there’s no discernible religious or even ethnic diversity, unless the arresting prettiness of the girl in the star-spangled hijab is intended to imply that she’s a convert, or a fair-skinned Bosnian or Levantine, i.e., (in either case) that whiteness, being intrinsically more beautiful than the alternatives, is something to which Muslims, too, can aspire. The mixing here of genders at a Muslim prayer service is likewise illusory, a multi-culti fantasy, total bullshit. Though there is a man with a hand on his chin, this is probably just unthoughtful mimicry of the original, because overt skepticism is so unlikely in a Muslim prayer quorum. But supposing he’s a skeptic, in the future this painting imagines, there’s only one religion to be skeptical of. That’s what is meant here by diversity. Wild, huh?

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Freedom from Want

(3) Freedom from Want: There’s a discernible reduction here (on the left) in freedom from want, with a loaf of bread replacing the turkey. Also, no grandma—perhaps the reduction in living standards that always accompanies these kinds of progress leaves no possibility of sustaining the elderly. Again, the sole measures of human worth in the revision are superficial: ethnicity, gender, style. On the other hand, the subjects in the original seem only to need each other’s presence, regardless of those qualifications. As proof of this key difference, notice that no one in the revision, other than the woman with the baby, is gazing directly at anyone else—and in that case, the baby looks apprehensive as fuck, as though he’s just been passed to a stranger. The woman looks equally unfamiliar with him. Perhaps he was only just recently harvested from her Nepalese surrogate.

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Freedom from Fear

(4) Freedom from Fear: I’ve read somewhere that nearly fifty percent of gay men report having been molested as children—if true, this certainly comports with what I know from gay friends and acquaintances. In any case, the kids on the left have intentionally been deprived of their mother (a mother still being a requirement of being born), so theirs is a qualitatively worse situation than that of the children on the right. The original was entitled “Freedom from Fear.” Ask yourself whether kids in 2018 are more likely than their 1943 counterparts to be free to play outside unsupervised without fear of ending up molested (in both the classic and the contemporary senses of that word) and you’ll immediately understand the delusional ridiculousness of any suggestion (like the one in the revision) that things have either improved or not deteriorated utterly in terms of children’s freedom from fear. Only sodomites with inexplicable notions of purchasing children have less to fear in 2018 than they did in 1943.

There’s a movie about precisely the transition this Rockwell-redux is proposing/imagining/documenting. It’s called Idiocracy.

The overarching take-away of this reimagined Four Freedoms is that the proponents of multiculturalism can conceive of no alternative to the standards set by white, heteronormative Christians. They cannot match Rockwell, so they usurp him, hounding the descendants of his subjects because they cannot stand the thought that those who traditionally had no regard for them should enjoy happiness. They are the sad loaf of bread to the juicy roast turkey, the swivel-eyed jazz-hound to the loving matriarch, the cryogenically fertile poofter imitators to the biologically complimentary genuine article. Diversity is a “strength” only because (in the words of Tucker Carlson) our elites are “dividing in order to rule.”

In the current year of its intellectual impoverishment the alt-right is predictably kvetching about this transvaluation of values strictly in terms of “demographic replacement,” which is certainly a thematic element of these paintings and a dire enough concern in realtime and meatspace. But what is demographic replacement? Do we still have the freedoms that Rockwell’s painting suggested we had and needed to fight for? Can we look forward to the spiritual and psychosocial (much less the material) quality of life that Americans enjoyed in 1943? The original Four Freedoms would have been inconceivable, or nonsensical, if those freedoms had not actually existed in America then, the way Rockwell portrayed them. Obviously, the original Four Freedoms was regime propaganda, but if you juxtapose it with, say, Soviet social realism you’ll see that it’s far more subtle and resonant in its modesty. Yes, my left-leaning friends, I realize that not everyone in 1943 America enjoyed these four freedoms to the same degree. But today we more equally enjoy far less of them. And what this Rockwell-redux should really be prompting us to ask, is: does the 21st-century version bear the same degree of symmetry with reality today as the original did back then?

Well, in one way, yes, it does: we do have all the diversity it portrays, and then some. And, in another way, it doesn’t, because we don’t any longer have anywhere near the same degree of any of those four freedoms.

If you don’t understand the connection by now, you probably never will.

The Office Versus Office Space

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“Yeah, if you could picture a boot stamping on a human face, forever—that’d be great.”

Consider the differences between the film Office Space and the TV series The Office (U.S. version.)

In Office Space, there’s a real overall sense of gall. The protagonist and his accomplices refuse to accept their circumstances as normal. They harbor an inchoate sense of higher purpose that’s inimical to their work lives, and in fact, we frequently see them out of work, out of doors, driving around town, in their apartments, at barbecues. In The Office, on the other hand, there’s an overall sense of compensatory smugness: rather than underground solidarity, and questioning their circumstances, the characters content themselves with feeling smarter than one another and (especially) the boss, as a salve to their embittered acceptance of dreary mediocrity. When they help each other it’s less like prisoners plotting an escape and more like nursing home inmates giving one another a sad hand job. 

The characters in The Office have no lives outside of work. Throughout the series we rarely see the outside world, and when we do it’s usually either the parking lot, the loading dock, a business trip, or an office party where all are present and thus no kind of subversive plan can be hatched like the one that forms the plot of Office SpaceThe Office is like a claustrophobic horror movie set to hokey folk-brewery muzak. Its whole premise is to normalize the most pernicious ennui and paralysis in guise of social critique—social critique being the maximum extent of satisfaction anybody (characters and viewers) is intended to get out of it.

This is how man-boob IPA and fantasy football are reverse-marketed to urbanites who think they’re better than the rednecks; it’s how work-as-identity is given plausible deniability for failed artists bagging groceries at Trader Joe’s and has-been high school drug dealers working sales at Best Buy. The NPC meme’s unintentional depth (that the alt-right can never fathom) is that it has everything to do with how we live, and nothing to do with how we identify.

Unlike the classic hero quest where evil is ultimately overcome, The Office co-opts the viewer to the flaws of the world the characters inhabit by centralizing the upward trajectory of Jim, the series’s one unironically sympathetic character, and his rivalry with the obtuse and narcissistic boss, Michael Scott. There is no third option, as there is in Office Space: the worker’s choices are the carrot, or the stick. The boss can be hated, but only with resignation, and padded, puerile shenanigans form the outer limit of anybody’s volition within this dreary frame of Sisyphean neoliberal servitude.

The Office does not critique the neutered Hobbesianism of corporatism so much as it smuggles it in through the back door by co-opting the viewer’s sense of gall to a passive-aggressive amusement so cheap it scarcely rises to the level of humor or compelling irony. It is the prescription lithium of art and entertainment.

Saturday Night’s Alright for Fightin’

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Love

What can I say? I was a middle-class brat running away from a broken home. I dropped out of community college, sold my Gibson Explorer (I know, don’t remind me) and bought a plane ticket to Israel where I had hackneyed, weed-addled fantasies of becoming an Israeli army scout sniper. I promised myself I’d exhume my good liberal conscience after I had become a war-hero—a war-hero peace activist. What an all-around great guy I would be then!

First I volunteered on a kibbutz. For those who don’t know, the kibbutz used to be a rural agricultural collective where the residents tithed their earnings, dined side by side in a single cafeteria and sent their kids to be raised together in on-site communal dorms. There are over a hundred such communities in Israel, though nearly all have privatized by now, which means two things: that they’ve basically become bedroom HOAs organized around vestigial on-site enterprises owned by outside investors, situated on seriously prime real estate; and that the back-biting and nosiness one might expect in such a tight-knit community is exacerbated a thousand times over by the floodgates of income disparity being suddenly thrown open. So while kibbutzniks cling to their self-image as veritable founders of, and best damn folks in, the country, they actually hate one another, because throughout the years of collectivism some of them had been shrewd enough to keep money invested (or just stashed) off-site, while others left, only to return highly educated or married to more affluent people, leaving an underclass to languish as well-kept but resentful proletarians who give tours, rake leaves, man the cafeteria, stack palettes at the factory or supervise while Indochinese temp-visa coolies do any of those things.

Within a week of arriving I had befriended half a dozen male high school seniors, with whom I bonded over plastic bong hits of godawful filler-cut hashish first melted on a butter knife, then massaged into the emptied-out contents of a Winston Light. They suckered me into helping them with their English homework.

One of these kids, Shai, was slightly off. At first he was my go-to homie on account of his superb English, but I quickly noticed that when teased by his peers in even the most innocuous manner he would erupt into fantastically infuriated violence, throwing furniture, kicking holes in drywall and screaming at the top of his lungs. When this happened everyone would just clear out of his way, and I came to find out through the merciless little kibbutz grapevine (which, unbeknownst to me, was well aware of my drug use—I was considered a bad influence and mistaken by half the parents on the kibbutz for a big bad American drug dealer who preyed upon hapless teenagers) that Shai’s father was dead, his sister was in a mental institution and he himself was on psychotropic prescription medication of some sort. The army was well aware of all this, and come late July, Shai would be left behind while his schoolmates shipped out for the quintessential rite of Israeli adulthood that he had been raised to anticipate.

Later that summer, the kids had all been drafted and I was living and working in Tel Aviv, doing odd construction jobs and working on moving vans, when I got a call from one of the recently-minted soldiers, asking if I would like to replace him at his six-day a week landscaping job in the town nearest the kibbutz. He even offered to let me stay in his now-vacant dorm room. Hells yeah, I told him.

The job was ten rigorous hours a day. On weekends I would take the train north from Tel Aviv to an affluent foothills town above Haifa to luxuriate at my girlfriend’s parent’s house. Unfortunately, life around the kibbutz had gotten pretty dull without the boys around, but Shai had it much worse than I did, languishing, playing video games and half-heartedly tending to the humiliating odd jobs his neighbors pityingly offered him. In the evenings he and I would smoke weed and play video games. Every few nights he drove me to Tel Aviv and parked out front of the apartment building of a former co-worker of mine who moonlit as a drug dealer, while I went inside and took care of business.

In those days Shai was pretty down in the mouth all the time. Once he even took a swing at me when I tried to turn down his car stereo so I could take a phone call. It was around that time that I decided to stop procrastinating and go cold turkey on the reefer. I was expecting a letter from the draft board and wanted to be clean in case they piss-tested me at my physical. But when I informed Shai that I could no longer be of assistance in procuring his hash, he threatened me. Then he started ringing my phone off the hook. Finally, one evening as I was returning home from work, I turned on my phone to discover a string of Hebrew text messages threatening to kill me and warning me not to return to the kibbutz. Fuck him, I thought.

Late that night, while I was telephoning my mother from the little orange Bezeq payphone along the frontage road outside the kibbutz (payphones are orange in Israel), Shai’s beat-up old blue Subaru wagon came screeching up, kicking up a dust cloud as it swerved into the dirt along the shoulder. He burst out, slammed the door behind him, took four or five tense steps in my direction and yanked the phone away from me, slamming it down onto the receiver as he bitch slapped me with his ginormous opposite paw.

Did I mention that Shai is about six-foot-five? I’m six even. With those figures in mind I abruptly decided not to fuck around with formalities and just reached out, wrapping my fingers around the back of his skull, plunging both thumbs deep into his eye sockets. He writhed and roared, kicking and clawing as I held on for dear life. After a five to ten second infinity he broke loose and began flailing at me erratically, attempting fisticuffs. I took a boxing stance and commenced thumping, landing a good, direct four out of five. Deep in the throws of frothing rage, Shai’s attempts to straighten out and focus yielded limited success; he must’ve landed about three out of seventeen. But for as good as I gave, he just wouldn’t go down. Hell, you try fighting Frankenstein’s creation three days out of a years-long, everyday weed habit and see how well it goes for you. Again, considering the options, I decided it was best to quit fucking around, so I hightailed it.

Just then, Shai dove into the driver’s side door of his station wagon, hit the ignition and fucking floored it. I felt the whoosh of his front bumper sweeping my ass as I hopped into a bush. The crazy motherfucker tried to kill me.

He slammed the brakes and reemerged from the vehicle in hot pursuit, this time on foot. I fled once more, but because at this point I was thoroughly convinced that Shai would have no problem chasing me all the way to my door, beating it down and murdering me with a brick, I ran in circles. Before long I had worn him down to the point that I was about to start lapping him, which (considering the sheer length of his arms) would have been a major tactical blunder on my part. So I caught my breath as best I could and put up my dukes for the round two bell. This time I landed a hundred percent, each thumping blow as ineffective as the last. Giving up on throwing punches, Shai started walking me backward, lunging as he tried to get me in a bear-hug. Again, it seemed best to run, so we resumed our track meet. Once more I gained a good head start and with ten or twelve meters between us I noticed a big boulder, big enough to do damage but just small enough to hoist and aim. So I gambled on it, turning around to face my attempted murderer. As he closed the distance between us he lowered his head, charging as if to tackle me. I stole the opportunity and bent down to swoop up the rock, hoisting it with two arms up over my head. As Shai came within grabbing distance he reared his awful cranium. That’s when I slammed the rock down upon it. “Thud!” Then silence. Crumpled on the ground, Shai rolled over, gave a moan, then slowly pulled himself up to his knees and began bawling like an infant in choking, stentorian sobs. I froze, dismayed and remorseful (I’m not a fucking sociopath, after all).

Those waterworks were like sprinklers on a timer, for at that very moment an old man emerged from around a bend in the frontage road, out for a walk with a poop baggie and a Standard Poodle. And this is what he saw: the big bad American drug dealer, heaving but erect, looking down at the poor mentally ill kid who was clutching his wounded face and emitting a by-then shrill whimper. The old man came running over, crouched down next to Shai and gingerly helped him up.

Cops were called. We were detained. As we sat handcuffed in the back of the police jeep, we were asked if either of us wanted to press charges against the other. Shai was over it, but I could hear the old man a few feet away from the vehicle, telling one of the cops that he would press charges against me on Shai’s behalf, that I was a drug dealer, etc., etc. Recalling the threatening text messages that I still had in my phone, I decided I had better press a counter charge and avoid the risk of being the only one on the defensive. I informed the officers of my decision when Shai told me, in English, in a whisper, that if I pressed charges against him he would rat out my dealer, whose address he knew from our trips to Tel Aviv together. So I told the officers that, on second thought, I wanted to decline the opportunity to press charges.

Those cops must’ve been lazier than shit. Apparently not wanting to fill out the requisite paper work, they prevailed upon the old man not to press charges against me, either.

We were let out of the Jeep and our handcuffs removed. Shai was taken to the hospital where he was treated for a concussion. His right eye was swollen shut for the next six weeks, big bandage, stitches across his forehead, bruises all over the place. Given the size difference between contenders, the kibbutzniks developed the impression that I was some kind of Chuck Norris/Bruce Lee hybrid. Little did they know I remained scared shitless of ol’ Shai, swollen eye or none.

(originally published April 18th, 2012)