Adam Limb

Technology Is Synonymous With Civilisation

I am declaring a fatwa on anti-tech and anti-civilisational attitudes. In truth, there is no real distinction between the two positions: technology is synonymous with civilisation.

What made the Romans an empire and the Gauls a disorganised mass of tribals, united only by their reactionary fear of the march of civilisation at their doorstep, was technology. Where the Romans had minted currency, aqueducts, and concrete so effective we marvel on how to recreate it, the Gauls fought amongst one another about land they never developed beyond basic tribal living. They stayed small, separated, and never innovated, even with a whole world of innovation at their doorstep to copy.

There is always a temptation to look towards smaller-scale living, see its virtues, and argue that we can recreate the smaller-scale living within the larger scale societies we inhabit. This is as naïve as believing that one could retain all the heartfelt personalisation of a hand-written letter, and have it delivered as fast as a text message. The scale is the advantage. The speed is the advantage. The efficiency of new modes of organisation is the advantage.

Smaller scale living in the era of technology necessarily must go the way of the hand-written letter in the era of text messaging: something reserved for special occasions, and made all the more meaningful for it.

However, no-one would take seriously someone who tries to argue that written correspondence is a valid alternative to digital communication. Equally, there is no reason to take seriously someone who considers smaller-scale settlements a viable alternative to big cities.

Inevitably, there will be those who mistake this as going along with the modern trend of GDP maximalism, but the situation in modern Britain could not be closer to the opposite. There is only one place generating wealth currently: the South-East. Everywhere else in the country is a net negative to Britain’s economic prosperity. Devolution, levelling up, and ‘empowering local communities’ has been akin to Rome handing power over to the tribals to decide how to run the Republic: it has empowered tribal thinking over civilisational thinking.

The consequence of this has not been to return to smaller-scale ways of life, but instead to rest on the laurels of Britain’s last civilisational thinkers: the Victorians.

Go and visit Hammersmith, and see the bridge built by Joseph Bazalgette. It has been boarded up for four years, and the local council spends its time bickering with the central government over whose responsibility it is to fix the bridge for cars to cross it. This is, of course, not a pressing issue in London’s affairs, as the Vercingetorix of the tribals, Sadiq Khan, is hard at work making sure cars can’t go anywhere in London, let alone across a bridge.

Bazalgette, in contrast to Khan, is one of the few people keeping London running today. Alongside Hammersmith Bridge, Bazalgette designed the sewage system of London. Much of the brickward is marked with his initials, and he produced thousands of papers going over each junction, and pipe.

Bazalgette reportedly doubled the pipes diameters remarking “we are only going to do this once, and there is always the possibility of the unforeseen”. This decision prevented the sewers from overflowing in 1960.

Bazalgette’s genius saved countless lives from cholera, disease, and the general third-world condition of living among open excrement. There is no hope today of a Bazalgette. His plans to change the very structure of the Thames would be Illegal and Unworkable to those with power, and the headlines proposing such a feat (that ancient civilisations achieved) would be met with one million image macros declaring it a “manmade horror beyond their comprehension.”

This fundamentally is the issue: growth, positive development, and a future worth living in is simply outside the scope of their narrow comprehension.

This train of thought, having gone unopposed for too long, has even found its way into the minds of people who typically have thorough, coherent, and well-thought-out views. In speaking to one friend, they referred to the current ruling classes of this country as “tech-obsessed”.

Where is the tech-obsession in this country? Is it found in the current government buying 3000 GPUs for AI, which is less than some hedge funds have to calculate their potential stocks? Or is it found in the opposition, who believe we don’t need people learning to code because “AI will do it”?

The whole political establishment is anti-tech, whether crushing independent forums and communities via the Online Harms Bill, to our supposed commitment to be a ‘world leader in AI regulation’ – effectively declaring ourselves to be the worlds schoolmarm, nagging away as the US, China, and the rest of the world get to play with the good toys.

Cummings relays multiple horror stories about the tech in No. 10. Listening to COVID figures down the phone, getting more figures on scraps of paper, using the calculator on his iPhone and writing them on a Whiteboard. Fretting over provincial procurement rules over a paltry 500k to get real-time data on a developing pandemic. He may well have been the only person in recent years serious about technology.

The Brexit campaign was won by bringing in scientists, physicists, and mathematicians, and leveraging their numeracy (listen to this to get an idea of what went on) with the latest technology to campaign to people in a way that had not been done before. Technology, science, and innovation gave us Brexit because it allowed people to be organised on a scale and in ways they never were before. It was only through a novel use of statistics, mathematical models, and Facebook advertising that the campaign reached so many people. The establishment lost on Brexit because they did not embrace new modes of thinking and new technologies. They settled for basic polling of 1-10 thousand people and rudimentary mathematics.

Meanwhile the Brexit campaign reached thousands upon thousands, and applied complex Bayesian statistics to get accurate insights into the electorate. It is those who innovate, evolve, and grow that shape the future. There is no going back to small-scale living. Scale is the advantage. Speed is the advantage. And once it exists, it devours the smaller modes of organisation around it, even smaller modes of organisation have the whole political establishment behind it.

When Cummings got what he wanted injected into the political establishment – a data science team in No. 10 – they were excised like a virus from the body the moment a new PM was installed. Tech has no friends in the political establishment, the speed, scale, and efficiency of the thing is anathema to a system which relies on slow-moving processes to keep a narrow group of incompetents in power for as long as possible. The fierce competition inherent to technology is the complete opposite of the ‘Rolls-Royce civil service’ which simply recycles bad staff around so they don’t bother too many people for too long.

By contrast, in tech, second best is close to last. When you run the most popular service, you get the data from running that service. This allows you to make a better service, outcompete others, which gets you more users, which gets you more data, and it all snowballs from there. Google holds 93.12% of the search engine market share. Amazon owns 48% of eCommerce sales. The iPhone is the most popular email client, at 47.13%. Twitch makes up 66% of all hours of video content watched. Google Chrome makes up 70% of web traffic. There next nearest competitor, Firefox (a measly 8.42%,) is only alive because Google gave them 0.5b to stick around. Each one of these companies is 2-40 times bigger than its next nearest competitor. Just as with civilisation, there is no half-arseing technology. It is build or die.

Nevertheless, there have been many attempts to half-ass technology and civilisation. When cities began to develop, and it became clear they were going to be the future powerhouses of modern economies, theorists attempted to create a ‘city of towns’ model.

Attempting to retain the virtues of small town and community living in a mass-scale settlement, they argued for a model of cities that could be made up of a collection of small towns. Inevitably, this failed.

The simple reason is that the utility of cities is scale. It is the access to the large labour pools that attracts businesses. If cities were to become collections of towns, there would be no functional difference in setting up a business in a city or a town, except perhaps the increased ground rent. The scale is the advantage.

This has been borne out mathematically. When things reach a certain scale, when they become networks of networks (the very thing you’re using, the internet, is one such example) they tend towards a winner-takes-all distribution.

Bowing out of the technological race to engage in some Luddite conquest of modernity, or to exact some grudge against the Enlightenment, is signalling to the world we have no interest in carving out our stake in the future. Any nation serious about competing in the modern world needs to understand the unique problems and advantages of scale, and address them.

Nowhere is this more strongly seen than in Amazon, arguably a company that deals with scale like no other. The sheer scale of co-ordination at a company like Amazon requires novel solutions which make Amazon competitive in a way other companies are not.

For example, Amazon currently owns the market on cloud services (one of the few places where a competitor is near the top, Amazon: 32%, Azure: 23%). Amazon provides data storage services in the cloud with its S3 service. Typically, data storage services have to handle peak times, when the majority of the users are online, or when a particularly onerous service dumps its data. However, Amazon services so many people – its peak demand is broadly flat. This allows Amazon to design its service around balancing a reasonably consistent load, and not handling peaks/troughs. The scale is the advantage.

Amazon warehouses do not have designated storage space, nor do they even have designated boxes for items. Everything is delivered and everything is distributed into boxes broadly at random, and tagged by machines so the machines know where to find it.

One would think this is a terrible way to organise a warehouse. You only know where things are when you go to look for them, how could this possibly be advantageous? The advantage is in the scale, size, and randomness of the whole affair. If things are stored on designated shelves, when those shelves are empty the space is wasted. If someone wants something from one designated shelf on one side of the warehouse, and something from another side of the factory, you waste time going from one side to the other. With randomness, you are more likely to have a desired item close by, as long as you know where that is, and with technology you do. Again, the scale is the advantage.

The chaos and incoherence of modern life, is not a bug but a feature. Just as the death of feudalism called humans to think beyond their glebe, Lord, and locality, the death of legacy media and old forms of communication call humans to think beyond the 9-5, elected representative, and favourite Marvel movie.

In 1999, one year after Amazon began selling music and videos, and two years after going public – Barron’s, a reputable financial magazine created by Dow Jones & Company posted the following cover:

Remember, Barron’s is published by Dow Jones, the same people who run stock indices. If anyone is open to new markets, it’s them. Even they were outmanoeuvred by new technologies because they failed to understand what technophobes always do: scale is the advantage. People will not want to buy from 5 different retailers because they want to buy everything all at once.

Whereas Barron’s could be forgiven for not understanding a new, emerging market such as eCommerce, there should be no sympathy for those who spend most of their lives online decrying growth. Especially as they occupy a place on the largest public square to ever occur in human existence.

Despite claiming they want a small-scale existence, their revealed preference is the same as ours: scale, growth, and the convenience it provides. When faced with a choice between civilisation in the form of technology, and leaving Twitter a lifestyle closer to that of the past, even technology’s biggest enemies choose civilisation.

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From Atheism

Looking at the demographics of the Mallard, I assume most are familiar if not directly, then indirectly, with New Atheism. It was particularly popular between the 2000s and the 2010s, likely because the last vestiges of cultural Christianity were being stamped out, but the embers of cultural leftism were yet to catch. Early YouTube was dominated by atheists, who took to the new media platform to deliver the message of atheism to a new generation of young adults – myself included.

In fairness, I can’t blame YouTube for my lack of faith. My Church of England school hardly did anything to justify the faith to me, and without parental guidance, it was inevitable that I’d be filled with misgivings and misunderstandings of what faith was. Later in life, I’d take up a degree in Physics and later rest my atheism on the claim that the existence of God doesn’t adhere to the tenets of science. This is true, and something I believe even now. In science, if something cannot be validated or invalidated, then you dismiss it. This tenet is so engrained in scientists that when Pauli proposed the existence of a massless, chargeless particle, he bet a crate of champagne that no-one would find it due to the ludicrousness of being able to test the existence of a particle with no mass and no charge.

Of course, they did find it – and Pauli made good on his promise, gifting a crate of champagne to the scientists who discovered the neutrino. If you want to dismiss the existence of literal physical objects, this tenet will do just fine. The problem with it, is that it applies equally to anything not located in space and time. Morality, for example, is not a physical thing and its existence cannot be tested. We can do an experiment showing that murder rates generally correlate with unhappiness, but who says unhappiness is synonymous with badness? And so, on the same basis I dismissed the existence of God, I dismissed the existence of morality. At the time I did not know it, but this problem had been expressed in Hume’s Guillotine. A should statement can never rest on an is statement. It is raining, so I should wear a coat presupposes I shouldn’t want to get wet, which only pushes the problem back one step. Of course, if you insert an intelligent creator into the picture, you can say the way the world is, is a reflection of that creators plan for us, which we should follow – and so you can begin to talk about some kind of natural order to the world beyond science.

In time, I would find the failure of scientism to present a morality to be troublesome. After all, even if I were correct, and that morality didn’t exist – it was wholly arbitrary to hold that belief, after all, believing the truth over lies could not be the right thing to do by the very nature of my claims. The answers I saw from atheists regarding this, particularly Richard Dawkins, were not so impressive. Dawkins has argued that morality is an evolutionary instinct, which only begs the question as to why to follow that instinct over any other instinct. All instincts do is attempt to keep us alive, after all. Instincts also tell us to be distrustful of people ethnically dissimilar from one another, and Dawkins refutes that behaviour in the strongest terms, often accusing Brexiteers of behaving in that way. If we are to follow the evolutionary moral instinct because it is the ‘right thing to do’, and what is right is determined by that same instinct – all Dawkins is saying is that the evolutionary moral instinct says to follow itself, but of course an instinct says to follow it: that’s what instincts do. At this point, it became quite clear that attempts to either dismiss morality on the basis of science, or to construct one out of scientific principles inevitably tended towards circular logic.

Materialism, the belief that everything is one substance, that of matter, is very elegant on its surface: Everything is matter, the interactions of that matter are described by science, and anything we perceive to be outside of that is just a social construct, a spook, or a delusion. One major flaw in materialism is the existence of qualia, of the sensation of experiencing things. For example, the sensation of happiness is not the same as the chemicals that produce that sensation. It may be described as such, and you may even be able to predict with perfect certainty that someone will feel a sensation and how intense you expect the sensation to be. However there is a thisness to the sensation that cannot just be reduced to the biochemical processes that go into it. As a consequence, materialism has to simply deny that these sensations are real, and insist that things like joy, sadness, and conscious experience itself are just tricks of the mind (composed of atoms and microelectrodes and nothing more). This ultimately refutes materialism itself, however. If our conscious experiences are not meaningful or true, then the scientific laws we derive from those experiences are not meaningful either.

If you want to insist the universe is one substance, it makes much more sense to argue the universe is not all matter, but all consciousness – as consciousness is all anyone has ever been given, even those who came up with and tested scientific laws did so through verification of sensations they experienced in their consciousness, which cannot be reduced to the physical processes that went into bringing consciousness about. Even if we could have a perfect understanding of the human brain, and could replicate what I imagine on a screen – all we would have succeeded in doing is making a map of consciousness, not replicating consciousness itself. This would be the same as arguing that because we can make a map of New York City, that the map is identical to New York City. The map may describe New York, it may even predict things around New York – but the map is not New York. Equivalently, science may describe and predict consciousness or reality, but science is not consciousness or reality.

There is a comfort in appealing to scientific laws, they are predictable (that’s what makes them scientific,) but this predictability relies on the laws themselves being continuous. If gravitational attraction changed overnight, then the equations that described them would also have to change. The assumption that these laws are constant and reliable, and therefore the basis of yet more science is something that cannot itself be tested. If you want to insist that you only believe in the existence of things that can be falsified, then you cannot believe the laws of physics are continuous and constant – as this cannot be falsified. Again, Hume recognised this – and labelled it ‘naïve empiricism’. The naïvety comes in when we insist the laws of Physics are constant because they’ve always been constant in our experience. By the same token we can’t say the Universe existed before we were born because we have never experienced it, which creates a solipsism harder to justify than any spooky non-materialistic belief. Even if we appeal to the material truths which demonstrate existence beyond our lifetime, for example, carbon-13 dating – we can never justify whether or not the laws of physics will spontaneously change the day after our deaths, we simply assume that they won’t. This is not to say such the belief that the laws of Physics are constant is unreasonable, only that it is unreasonable within a world-view conforming to empiricism, and not something proven empirically.

So what kind of world-view does answer these questions? Well, I gave one answer earlier: one in which consciousness is primary, also known as Idealism. Another would be faith, which recognises the objective value of things not located in space and time. For example, morality. Morality is of course, not the only thing located in space and time that we treat as objective, I’ve just talked about it a lot in this article so I felt compelled to mention it first. Another would be numbers. You can have seven marbles, seven pounds, and the number seven on a piece of paper – but destroy the marbles, spend the money, and erase the number on the paper and yet the number seven still exists. We can’t simply escape the reality of numbers by arguing they are an invention of the mind, physical laws, such as attraction due to gravity require them. The gravitational constant, G, is a number you are required to multiply by (and cannot simply be dropped) to describe gravitational attraction. We can shunt the value of the number about by changing our units, but the number itself remains – and would make human life impossible if it were off by just 1 in 1060. Which is the same as getting statistically impossible odds ten trillion times. Not only are numbers not reducible to material reality, but they are also required to be highly specific for life to develop whatsoever.

A materialist might want to escape this by claiming that there are trillions of universes where these constants vary, and therefore our existence is statistically inevitable. But at this point you are no longer doing science. A multiverse is necessarily not empirically verifiable, and the existence of a multiverse is just as unfounded (on materialist terms) as a belief in God. Furthermore, this only shunts the problem back one step – why is it that multiverses are created in this one specific way, with the values of the constants varying? Why can’t there by multiverses where not just the constants in the equations, but the equations themselves vary? Who is to say there has to be these forces and their respective equations at all? Is there a multiverse of multiverses and a multiverse of multiverses of multiverses? Isn’t this all just circular and ridiculous at this point?

It was in light of all of these things: the absence of transcendence, the inability to consistently derive physics and metaphysics, and the failure to construct a morality, that drew me away from atheism and into my current beliefs. There are things beyond this world that we not only need to appeal to pragmatically, but need in order to make sense of the world as it exists. They are transcendent. They are not just a reflection of a higher world, but necessary components of this world as well. From morality, to numbers, to the very sensation of being anything at all, every part of life is beyond the mere matter we interact with every day. In that kind of understanding, the world ceases to be sterile, and instead takes on the character of an enchanted garden – where life, death, and the interplay of tragedy and comedy make up just a part of an order much larger than our mere existence.

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Thatcher and the Conservative Ghost Dance

Life, loss, and lethargy have strange effects on peoples, cultures, and movements. And nothing could be more lethargic than our current iteration of conservatism. Neoconservatism was certainly not new, it grew out of, and drew from, the economic thinking that preceded it. However, it at least believed in itself so strongly that it attempted to bring economic liberalism and democracy to the rest of the world. Whether or not this was to benefit those in power at the time is another matter and another article, but there was at the very least a sizeable class of people who earnestly believed in the project and aimed to see it through.

When we look across the world today however, there doesn’t appear to be one major success story for the neoconservative project. The project was so unsuccessful that the next successful candidate for the GOP following George W. Bush Jr. was Donald Trump, who rode in on opposing the ‘forever wars’. Contrast this with the left, who have certainly undergone a shift from the economic to the identitarian, but have arguably been undergoing that shift for 60 years. In comparison, the ten years between Douglas Murray’s ‘Neo-Conservatism: Why We Need It’, a celebration of the ideology, and the election of Donald Trump demonstrates the awfully short shelf-life of the worldview.

Neoconservatism could probably best be understood literally. What is new is what we conserve. Economic liberalism under the Pax Americana and democracy is new, therefore we conserve it. After all, the Allied powers had just defeated the Axis powers and brought a functioning democracy to Germany, a country which had only ever had it in the form of the dysfunctional Weimar Republic. Regime change, it seemed, was possible. But here we after after Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan and what democracy does exist is fraught and unstable.

When a group faces an external threat and their core beliefs are shattered, there is a tendency to double-down. To look back at the victories of the past and attempt to emulate them and relive them. There is a tendency to Ghost Dance.

Ghost dancing was the name given to the phenomena found in Native Americans who had been consistently beaten by the European settlers, who quickly found that tribal formations and dances fell flat in the face of the technology and organisation of the Europeans they encountered. Increasingly, tribes began to engage in a new Native American dance known as the Ghost Dance. The dance promised to summon the ghosts of the ancestors, to have them drive out the white man and rip up the earth beneath their feet, revealing the untouched America they had long known.

It didn’t work, of course. Ghost Dances never do. The past is over, and attempts to revive by recreating the conditions that no longer exist will only ever create artificial facsimiles at best, but Ghost Dances are reassuring, and fun for those who practice them.

When I looked across the Conference floor in 2021, I saw merchandise of Thatcher and her slogans plastered everywhere. Endlessly her name was invoked as some kind of lodestone of Conservatism. Of course, the social conservatism was tactically amiss, but she permeated the halls of Conference regardless.  Juxtaposed to this is the current conservative rhetoric: “Getting On With The Job” and  “Getting Brexit Done” suggest stagnation, as though leadership were a shift at Subway to muddle through to, a list of tasks to be done and forgotten about and this lack of fervour is reflected in the polling numbers.

As the dust of Coronavirus settles, and the UK remembers that Ukraine is actually quite a far away country that our American masters will not let us get involved in, the certainty of the conservatives’ loss in the culture wars with the looming threat of electoral defeat create the conditions for a Ghost Dance. We even have some ‘conservatives’ with Margaret Thatcher cut-outs in their university rooms ready to lead the dance!

But the appeal of the Ghost Dance is fleeting. The images of Thatcher and her incredible electoral success will be little more than temporary anaesthetic for the elderly base of the Conservative party in the wake of their continued loss to the left. It won’t track with a generation who never knew Thatcher, and actively suffer under the free market policies she advocated. New ways of thinking and governing are required, and must bring a close to the tragicomedy of liberalism.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

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Against Common Sense Conservativism

What a sad and wretched world we live in. The decline of Free Speech, British Values, and Common Sense has let the loony left and Radical Woke Nonsense destroy our Institutions.

Remix these words enough and you too can qualify to be a conservative commentator in the contemporary British political landscape. Looking across the commentariate of the right wing, you’d be forgiven for believing that these figures were grown in test tubes. One part ‘cultural Christian’ (with “mixed feelings” on gay marriage and abortion), another part straight-talker, with a dash of ‘political incorrectness’ (always tempered by a well-to-do attitude) and some kind of minority identity as a sting in the tail for the left, and you’ve got a Common Sense Conservative.

The Common Sense Conservative isn’t hard to find: they fill the ranks of GB News and do the talking for Talk Radio – what underlines the whole project is a constant bewilderment with the modern world, and an ability to formulate programmatic responses to the latest trends from the left wing. They are the zig to the liberal zag, but both invariably pull in one direction – towards more of the general decay they claim to lament.

One Common Sense Conservative is very quick to point out that identity politics allegedly places an expectation on what he, a non-white man should believe. This, in his view, is a form of racism, which ipso facto debunks identity politics. What goes undiscussed, is that the dispute between the Common Sense Conservative and the “Woke Left” (who are really just more internally consistent leftists) is simply the narcissism of small differences. The leftist project of the modern world is one of liberation, where liberation is defined as the absence of restraint. Identity politics comes to be viewed by the Common Sense Conservative as one such restraint, and must therefore be rejected. The fundamental metaphysic is the same: atomised selves, who cannot be infringed upon by collective projects. The modern left recognises that for the self to be liberated, they have to be embedded within a social context in which their self-expression is affirmed. To this end, collective action is necessary, and proven to work in the success of the Civil Rights movement. Ironically enough, the Common Sense Conservative often appeals to the MLK Jr. attitude of the ‘content of character’ to resist identity politics. The disagreement between these two forces is not a philosophical one, but a pragmatic one – do we undergo collective action to liberate the self, or do we rely on an atomised individualistic approach which denies group differences?

These inherent parallels make nice-sounding hollow appeals to buzzwords necessary. To actually explicate a coherent philosophy would be to fundamentally challenge not just the desirability of things like free speech, but the real possibility of such a thing to begin with. No-one believes free speech means you can broadcast the position of all nuclear submarines, and this belief has to be justified somehow. Put simply, you’re not allowed to do this because it threatens the political order atop of which your right to free speech rests. The principle is simple then: you cannot extend your principles to those who would threaten their existence. Yet, when Novara Media, an outlet which calls consistently for deplatforming is itself deplatformed – the sycophants from GB News and UnHerd flock to fill the void, with Tom Harwood claiming they have a right to be heard.

What this underscores is a hesitance to actually give limits on rights and so-called freedoms, preferring instead to defer to whatever seems reasonable in the given circumstance. Consequently, the Common Sense Conservative often finds himself shaped by the social context he inhabits; these environments quickly become targets for Gramscian takeover and ensure that what qualifies for Common Sense tomorrow will be assuredly more left wing than Common Sense today.

An example of this emerges in the way we discuss positive discrimination, quotas, or diversity. Quite recently, Andrew Bridgen MP posted a photograph of him and his supporters at the 41 Club in Castle Donington. In response, he suffered anti-white racist abuse due to the fact his supporters were White. Among these responses, someone mentioned the only diversity in the room was the waiting staff – and it was this response one Common Sense Conservative took to highlight the ‘bigotry’ of the progressive opposition. For this individual, it was not at all noteworthy that a gathering of white people was apparently subject for abuse, but instead a passing comment about non-whites was the indicator of racism. Again, we see that the framing of the discussion is always limited by social context. It goes with the general flow of society to defend even the most minor form of prejudice towards non-whites, before defending overt prejudice towards whites – and so the latest iteration of Common Sense dictates that this must be where the opposition is mounted.

The argument that affirmative action, quotas, and diversity are actually bad for those they claim to help is 50 years old now. Thomas Sowell made it in its honest and earnest form in the 1970s, and since then conservatives have used it to defeat the left – on their own terms. What continues to go unaddressed is that the primary victims of affirmative action are not ethnic minorities, who lose their ability to provide for themselves by being given grants or get placed in educational facilities that have workloads they are mismatched for. The primary victim is the majority population which loses money to pay for these grants but do not benefit from them, and lose places they otherwise would have achieved in educational facilities.

Ultimately, these unexamined priors which are justified under the edifices of ‘Common Sense’ reveal an intellectual vacuum in the modern right. The only attempt to form an alliance between intellectualism and conservatism in recent memory was the Conservative Philosophy Group in 1974, restarted with the help of Sir Roger Scruton in 2013. One exchange highlights the differences between the traditional form of conservatism with its modern vacuous counterpart:

Edward Norman (then Dean of Peterhouse) had attempted to mount a Christian argument for nuclear weapons. The discussion moved on to “Western values”. Mrs Thatcher said (in effect) that Norman had shown that the Bomb was necessary for the defence of our values. Powell: “No, we do not fight for values. I would fight for this country even if it had a communist government.” Thatcher (it was just before the Argentinian invasion of the Falklands): “Nonsense, Enoch. If I send British troops abroad, it will be to defend our values.” “No, Prime Minister, values exist in a transcendental realm, beyond space and time. They can neither be fought for, nor destroyed.” Mrs Thatcher looked utterly baffled. She had just been presented with the difference between Toryism and American Republicanism. 

In Thatcher, we see appeals to values with no underpinning of where they emerge from and their justification, and in Powell we see a world-view which justifies itself from the ground up. It’s no wonder that today we see Thatcher emblazoned all across conference, to the extent that one Common Sense Conservative even has a cut-out of her in her room. Thatcher represents the true beginning of the vacuous conservativism that reduces Political problems to technical ones, and exists to retroactively justify the decisions of the mercantile class. To this end, it is incapable of creating anything new, and so invokes its own previous iterations with new coats of paint to provide a veneer of consistency over an economic order which fundamentally requires constant flux.

The flux of modernity is only truly possible because of the aforementioned metaphysic that we are atomised selves, who contract or compete to create the social, Political, and economic orders in which we live. We can therefore not be infringed upon as individuals, but are reconfigurable units in these wider orders, and by virtue of our individual nature – have no right to dictate what these wider orders are, as this would be an infringement upon the individual.

Appeals to ‘common values’ will never work as long as this individualistic ontology is accepted; it offers no justification as to why these common values cannot be departed from at will. For this reason, it is necessary to invoke ‘Common Sense’ as the reason to remain within the common set of values. But of course, by the time you must invoke common sense, it’s hardly common any more. I’m yet to have an argument over the common sense notion that one ought to look both ways before crossing the road, but I’ve had plenty of arguments about the fact that men aren’t women. Truthfully, these beliefs need justification beyond appeals to common sense. The categories of men and women need to be defined not just in a taken-for-granted social manner, but in a metaphysical, biological, and philosophical manner. Only when these beliefs are deeply rooted and interconnected with not just the fabric of oneself, but of the fabric of reality itself, can people be driven to the depths of passion necessary to rebuff the challenges of the modern world. To that end, a right-wing intellectual vanguard is necessary to any movement which seeks to overturn the new orthodoxies of modernity.

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Rip Up the Roads

Driving may well be the biggest psy-op in modern history. The car has often been depicted as the symbol of freedom, the ability to go wherever one pleases – to emancipate oneself from the circumstances they find themselves in, and to strike up a new existence elsewhere. There’s a reason they talk of the ‘open highway’. Maybe in America this imagery resonates. After all, America has the size necessary for road trips to take you to genuinely isolated places. But America is America, and Britain is Britain. If you woke up at a random place on the British Isles, you could walk in any direction and find a marker of civilisation and follow it to safety before you were seriously close to death.

This fact is part of Britain’s charm, we really are the national equivalent of The Shire. A place where just the natural landscape lends itself to safety. Our island status makes it easy to defend, and our size allows us to grow, but not isolate ourselves from one another. Considering this, there really is no escape from civilisation in Britain. This may well be why exploration and adventure are such a large part of our culture: the only way to experience these things was to leave the country. 

These facts make cars not so much a freedom, but a restriction. There is no ‘open road’ in Britain, just congested highways and country lanes that were fit for horses and carriages, not Land Rovers and BMWs. Driving in modern Britain means going from your box apartment to your box office, all facilitated by your box car. What do you get for the privilege of this freedom? More paperwork, bills, and another thing to look after. These are just the personal costs, the social costs are much greater. Huge swathes of land have to be taken up to facilitate cars. Roads are just the beginning, parking, driveways, motorways and car-related services such as petrol stations and garages all take up space that could otherwise be allocated for residential use. Cities such as Rome enchant those who visit because they were structured around the human and not the car. The streets of Rome have natural, organic arcs to them which obscure the street ahead. Cars don’t do well with too many turns, and so roads become long stretches that give the eyes nothing to feast upon but the gruelling monotonous journey ahead, often accompanied by ‘humorous’ bumper stickers or, God forbid, billboard emblazoned with advertisements – turning your commute into an advertisement break between your diminishing private life, and your gruelling work life.

So what should replace the roads? Surely we still need all of the creature comforts of the modern world, and if we don’t have roads between towns or within them, we can’t have any trade. First and foremost, people will not simply sit in their homes and starve because the A419 has been ripped up and they cannot reach a Tesco. Where there’s mouths to feed, there’s money to be made, and a new wave of farm-to-table markets would be incentivised to emerge locally. Now that walking is the main way of navigating towns and cities, commerce has to spread out to accommodate. No longer will there be massive central hubs of consumption, but small decentralised centres catering to the bespoke needs of communities on the most elemental level. For transport between these centres, the newfound cash not spent on road maintenance can be used to build trams to move people between these different centres allowing cross-pollination of consumers without the homogenisation of products that comes with shoving those products in vans and moving them across towns.

Of course, there are those goods which simply cannot be manufactured locally, and certain goods like fish are quite obviously not easy to come by if you’re not on the coast. To this end, a massive expansion and upgrade to the railways is needed. Expansion to offset the now-defunct road freight industry, and upgrades to ensure timely delivery of goods. This would mean moving away from much of the Victorian-era railway, but returning In full force to the Victorian-era spirit of industrialisation and progress. Rail freight is often cheaper per-mile than road freight, and allows for quick loading and unloading of containers, rather than manual loading and unloading from the back of lorries.

In order for rail to dominate the British landscape, the failures of the British state can no longer be tolerated. It shouldn’t take a decade to open a railway for public consultation, only to downscale it before any serious construction has taken place. Instead, a reactive and dynamic centralised infrastructure is required that clears out the dead weight who would stand in the way of a new vision of Britain – one in which the countryside is reclaimed from the concrete mess of roads, and the rewilded landscape tears past the window of your maglev as you travel from Plymouth to Edinburgh in four hours, rather than ten.

However, the removal of roads doesn’t require the end of private travel. Instead, we can simply take paramotors to the skies and fly to any number of open fields. Paramotors are statistically safer than cars, and can go at around 60mph. Private travel in Neo-Britain would mean the removal of box cars to open skies, overlooking a renewed landscape. For those who prefer to remain grounded, the reclaimed land doesn’t need to be privatised, it can be kept public and traversed by anyone who rents a quad bike and decides to drive through the wilderness to visit their friend a town over, or anyone who just wants to to ramp around the countryside for the day.

Roads are an ugly blight on Britain, they turn a once green and beautiful isle into a grey, dead landmass full of grey, dead people. They facilitate a society built around machinery and not around the character of the people who compose it. There are those who want to end the growth of technology where it stands. These people will lose out to those who wield the weapon of tech. There are also those who wish to simply allow tech to override their humanity. Indeed, we see this in the fact most of our cultural events (including Project 22) are experienced through a screen. Instead, I propose a third way: that technology is a tool in the hands of those who wield it, and through a great strength of will, we can adapt it to the world we live in. We ought not to see technology as an escape from nature, nor as a means to become stewards of nature. We are a part of nature, and must shape ourselves and our societies to work in tandem with it. To that end, we must rip up the roads.

Photo Credit.

Men and Women, Mods and Rockers

In previous articles, I’ve been too harsh on the people who want to define a woman as ‘an adult human female’, and probably too harsh on people who genuinely want right-wing ideas to flourish. This time, I want to focus on the beliefs of the modern left and rather than attack them outright, provide an analogy that hopefully makes things easier for the right to understand where they’re coming from – I’ll leave the attacking to you at that point.

Despite the refusal of this publication to use a certain word, a refusal I helped in writing and a refusal I still stand by – when words are created or used there’s often a reason for it. The speaker, at the very least, feels a need to distinguish this specific thing from the stuff that came before it. And there is something different about the modern left than the left of the past – although the difference is one of intensity, rather than of content. The trend of Western societies from the French revolution onwards has been an insistence on a harsh dualism between the external material world, and the internal world of the self. The material, by its nature, has no moral character. Few Western societies today affirm a creator, and in insisting on that creator: a rhyme and reason to the way the world is. After all, if God exists and designed our world – the fact there is day and there is night suggests that some ultimate Being who judges us had a reason for creating such a cycle, and we can go from observations in the material world to moral statements by resolving those statements to that Being.

The secularism of modern life has fairly resolutely burned that bridge. Today, we rely on appeals to notions of reason to affirm or deny moral statements. This marks a change not just in how we consider the nature of morality, but the nature of our very existence. Whereas before there was some notion of the absolute which subsumed not just the material world, but each subjective experience of that world. Now there is just a sterile material reality, with internal projections of order onto that reality that we call morality. In the former case, limitations on the subjective experience with reference to the material are to be expected. After all, both are facets of a wider design. In the latter case, limitations on the subjective experience with reference to the material are not only absurd, but denials of the necessarily free internal world of the self.

Perhaps this is all too philosophical and abstract. Perhaps it is easier for me to refer to sentiments you’ve likely heard before. One such sentiment would be the notion that being a woman means different things to different people. Another would be that being a woman is nothing more than identifying as a woman. Both of these presuppose the aforementioned harsh binary between a physical, material, world that (in and of itself) tells us nothing about how it should be described, and an internal world of the self that projects descriptions onto it. We can provide descriptions which allow us to make predictions, and that’s what we call science – but what exactly we ought to predict, and the emphasis we place on those predictions is not something that can be resolved to the material world. 

For example, nothing about the fact we can describe the human species as male and female for the purposes of reproduction suggests that human reproduction is good (this is what anti-natalists believe,) or that we should assign clothing, roles, attitudes, separate changing rooms/sports and beliefs to those categories (this is what Queer Theorists believe.) With this disconnect, gender becomes something that has no coherent reference to the material world. We can associate them if we please, but nothing about that association is absolute. At best, it’s the general aggregate of behaviours that come about due to biological impulses – which would suggest that anyone who imitates those behaviours and makes themselves resemble the biological makeup of who they wish to be, is in effect whatever they want to be.

When understood this way, it’s more accurate to understand the conception of gender from the modern left as being closer to a subculture than an unmoving category that one falls into and cannot escape. You can become a woman as easily as you can become a goth. Wear the right things, act the right way, listen to the right music and call yourself a goth and what right does anyone else have to deny you of that? The same is true in modernity of womanhood. A woman is whoever says they are a woman, and just as a goth remains a goth when they listen to classical instead of metal, when they wear no make-up instead of eyeshadow, or take out their piercings instead of wearing them: a woman remains a woman without wearing dresses, acting feminine, or having certain body parts.

Of course, this is me speaking from the perspective of the modern left – but it also demonstrates the convenience of wants between the modern left and capital. It’s easy today to find an endless number of businesses selling masculinity as a product, but why stop there? With an ever-increasing number of genders, there’s plenty of business to be had in creating unique modes of dress for each new grouping. The term “transtrander” got some usage for a while, but missed the mark. People don’t just become trans because being trans is trending, but because transitioning is a trend in and of itself.

The Boomers spent their time transitioning from being a hippy to being a mod, the zoomer transitions from queer, to genderfluid, to man, and back to woman. Each one has their own flag, set of styles, and modes of dress and ways to act and behave. In many respects, this is self-expression taken to its most extreme end, a self-expression which demands not just to express an unchanging identity, but to express the changing nature of identity itself as an extension of self-expression.

“Man cannot remake himself without suffering, for he is both the marble and the sculptor.”

Alexis Carrell

If modernism was the recognition of man as sculptor and creator, and the affirmation that there is no ultimate sculptor and creator to guide his hand, post-modernism is the recognition of man as both marble and the sculptor, and extends the unbounded freedom of self-expression not just to the individual, but to the nature of individuality said person emerges from.

Photo Credit.

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