The Mallard

Breakfast with Thierry Baudet (Part III)

In mid-July, the Mallard was fortunate to have breakfast with Thierry Baudet, leader of the Dutch ‘Forum for Democracy’ (FVD) party in the Netherlands. We discussed his views on manufactured consent, immigration, CBDC, and climate change; and his new book ‘The Covid Conspiracy’. Part II can be read here.

TM: Why do you think that your party is allowed to exist?

TB: Well, they are currently trying to pass a law to make it possible to forbid it. The Dutch Secret Service published a report about undermining of public faith in established institutions. They call it ‘anti-institutional extremism’. They claim that it occurs when a narrative is created which undermines public trust in institutions. They claim that it is dangerous for democracy. They then claim that that means it should be able to ban any political party which might so undermine trust.

TM: And that just happens to be you?

TB: Yes, parties that disagree with the Covid narrative, parties which might have sympathy for Russia, parties who do not agree with mass immigration. It shows that we are slouching towards totalitarianism. There is one single allowed approach to all issues and there is no room for difference of opinion.

TM: Do you think a party like yours might spring up in the UK?

TB: I don’t know. Your political system is extremely difficult to penetrate for small or fringe parties. It is a general trend in Europe, and probably also in the US, that you are not allowed to doubt the underlying assumptions anymore. Go back to the 1960s and the Vietnam war: then, there were people arguing in America about fighting communism abroad. Nowadays, every politician just agrees that ‘something must be done’ about Russia/climate Change/refugees etc. There is no public discussion allowed. They want militant democracies.

TM: What do you feel are the other differences between FVD and other European right-wing parties?

TB: First, we are much more radical. The AfD, for instance, does not want to leave the EU.

Second, we are the only group to create a social and economic framework for our members. This is not something that we have seen with other movements in Europe, we are the most progressive from that point of view.

Third, we embrace aesthetics and culture. We think that what we offer instead of the other parties is the Western tradition. We talk a lot about beauty, music and traditional architecture. I do not see the others talking about that but it is absolutely crucial to the conservative message. We have aesthetics on our side. We have love on our side. We love the things that have been created for us and the tradition that we have inherited. We are not just liberals; we actually have a vision for a completely different way of living. This has not been crystalised yet but a lot of our members are actively searching a means to be religious again. A means to experience the transcendental dimension in life. You cannot go without those things, it is every aspect of your life which is not just the political. 

TM: It seems to me that a lot of people do not care about those transcendental dimensions anymore. Do you think that’s true? If so, why?

TB: Yes, a lot of people don’t care about it. But I also think that there is an ideology behind ugliness. I believe it is linked to the teachings of the Frankfurt school. They believe that beauty, the family, national identity, etc were all elements of fascism. These thinkers have decided that they should target the beautiful. It is why the left wing reveres ugliness. They like the idea of harmony being disturbed, they have been taught that harmony is associated with fascism, and it is their job to destroy it. They are told that if they build things in a beautiful way, it is kitsch. They want ‘happy chaos’ – but that doesn’t exist. We are transitioning to a new era with no focal point, no traditional family. A world where everything is fluid and deconstruct-able. This is very much the dominant philosophy, and it is of course in the interest of large corporations because it turns people into consumers. 

TM: Quite a bleak view, Thierry. Do you have any hope? Do you think it will change?

TB: I think that the human will for liberty is stronger but that this malaise may last for decades. I think it might become a lot worse before it gets better. 

The only thing that I think I can do is continue fighting. I’m not going to go down with this, and become bitter… I will try as hard as possible to live a good life. Secondly, I think that we can connect with each other and help each other have a nice life. There is a lot that we can do if we are inventive and remain loyal to one another. It is very difficult for any state to control everybody. 

We can’t foresee the future in every detail, but I meet a lot of fantastic people speaking out. There is a real will and energy among people to regroup and form alliances and set up platforms. 

TM: So, it’s not over?

TB: It’s not over.


Photo Credit.

Breakfast with Thierry Baudet (Part II)

In mid-July, the Mallard was fortunate to have breakfast with Thierry Baudet, leader of the Dutch ‘Forum for Democracy’ (FVD) party in the Netherlands. We discussed his views on manufactured consent, immigration, CBDC, and climate change; and his new book ‘The Covid Conspiracy’. Part I can be read here.

TM: So who made the decision then?

TB: I cannot point at a single desk. That is not how things work. My point is that all mainstream media and government agencies are intertwined with an international group of people who meet in Davos and the EU and New York. They are in turn influenced by secret services, multinational corporations, huge tech and pharmaceutical companies. That is where the scenarios are planned. 

Before Covid, between eight and ten massive pandemic simulations were ran. There was a huge simulation called Event 201 which involved the John Hopkins Center, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the CIA. They ran scenarios on what to do if a corona virus struck. This was all just before a massive corona virus did strike. Through these scenario plannings, governments were already given their instructions on how to respond. Then everything simply had to be coordinated in lock step.

TM: Do you not think we have to prepare for things?

TB: We have to prepare for things but the irrationality of the plans points to different interests, not to the genuine interests of the public. So if we are incapable of seeing the scenarios created for us by the big players in the background, then our democracies are in danger.

TM: So Covid has demonstrated that our democracy does not work?

TB: The processes we thought we had in place to make rational decisions are void. 

TM: Void or captured?

TB: Captured is better. There are mechanisms in place which create the impression of consent. You can generate a narrative which suggests that there is a consensus. 

By contrast, when you give people an actual question and a choice, in a referendum for instance, you admit that there is a choice. That is why the system is so opposed to referendums, because the very principle of a referendum implies a choice. At that moment, but not before, people will start to realise there actually is a choice. 

TM: Are you not worried that too many referendums will cause apathy?

TB: No, I think it will increase turnout, ownership, responsible citizenship. What puts people off is when they feel that nothing matters. It is just another asshole in a grey suit.

TM: Why do you think that elected officials are unwilling to make the changes they promise? In Britain, for example, the Conservatives have been promising to reduce immigration for decades, and yet we have seen an exponential increase.

TB: The reason is that they are unwilling to uproot the established powers which desire these things. immigration is in the interest of real estate owners. It is in the interest of big corporations and the worldwide globalist political establishment which wishes to do away with national identities. There are very, very strong powers in the background that push for these policies. If you push against them, the entire system turns against you.

But there is also a cynical element. Politicians can be unwilling to solve problems because their business is to be there when there are problems. Covid provided a rare opportunity for us, because it showed what happens when you actually go against the current. Trump experienced the same thing. The entire fabric of society will turn against you. It’s a price which the Conservatards are not willing to pay, but the long-term cost of that is losing your country.

TM: Depressing?

TB: If you put your faith in established politics then, yes. But if you put your faith in choosing a free life and siding with the alternative, then things can be better. There is a huge reservoir of sensible, normal people who can see it and are willing to oppose it. 

TM: Let’s talk about your book.

TB: With every crisis, the answer from politicians is ‘more centralisation’ and ‘more internationalisation’, because we are stuck with this globalist elite which pulls the strings and works hand-in-hand with big corporations and international politicians. Big corporations help politicians win elections. These politicians then give multinational corporations legal immunity and tax breaks. We do not have a free-market or a capitalist system, we live in an age of corporatism. If they make a mistake and something goes wrong, they get a bail-out from taxpayers. It is very unfair to the normal person.

TM: You said earlier that you wanted a Swiss style direct democracy. Do you think that Switzerland governs itself well?

TB: No, simply having a better system of government itself is not enough. It is not a panacea. Switzerland is a lot better off than most of the other countries of Europe, but there are still many problems with it. It is a very interesting country because it is a meeting point for the globalist elite. They need some cafés around the world where they can do business safely, and Switzerland is one of them. Dubai, Singapore, and Iceland are perhaps some other examples. That is why I think Switzerland will probably continue to be all right for the coming decades. The country was not, however, able to escape immigration, climate policies, CBDCs, etc. 

TM: CBDCs?

TB: In 2008, it was effectively made clear that the dollar was dead. It would only be a matter of time before the US Dollar would lose its global dominance and the US would lose a massive instrument for foreign policy. People started to think about what to replace it with. They believed that they had to re-invent money. I think that this has resulted in the shift to Central Bank Digital, Currencies, where money is not really a store of value but instead is a coupon. It is issued by the government and can be withdrawn by the government.

CBDC is the government taking full control of the financial world. The lack of any physical component to money means that you cannot take action to survive inflation. Because CBDC is digital, it is also much easier to manipulate and control. It can be set up so that you as an individual can spend it only on certain things within a fixed distance from your house. CBDC is also completely non-fungible, which means it is completely unique to you. It makes it much easier for governments to track and control you. I spoke about it in my book, where I referred to it as the ‘Death Star’ of liberty. It is a slave currency. 

TM: That links back to what you were saying earlier, there is nowhere to run. You cannot even escape that if money is phased out.

TB: Exactly. You can either oppose it politically or you can set up your own parallel society. But it is very difficult to oppose generally. That is why we are working on setting up our own blockchain-based trading system.

TM: So, are you not a fan of crypto currency?

TB: I am a fan of decentralised blockchains. I’m not sure if Bitcoin was created by secret services to pave the way for CBDC, or if it actually maybe was someone working on CBDC and decided to launch something to oppose it, that is also possible. The complete lack of sound arguments for introducing CBDC is really surprising.

TM: What are the arguments of its proponents?

TB: That CBDC provides more credit options to the poor because the government can guarantee that their bank accounts remain open. Another is that it increases transparency and reduces the ability of people to launder money. So, the offer of CBDC is that the state gets complete control over your ability to live and spend money, and in return you get potentially less money laundering. Maybe they aren’t going to do it today or tomorrow, but in, say, five years, some crisis hits, and they suddenly claim a moral obligation to do something about it and CBDC becomes a huge problem for everyday normal people. 

To be continued…


Photo Credit.

Breakfast with Thierry Baudet (Part I)

In mid-July, The Mallard was fortunate to have breakfast with Thierry Baudet, leader of the Dutch ‘Forum for Democracy’ (FVD) party in the Netherlands. We discussed his views on manufactured consent, immigration, CBDC, and climate change; and his new book ‘The Covid Conspiracy’.

The Mallard (TM): The Mallard knows your youth movement, JFVD. Their performance is very impressive. How did FVD start?

Thierry Baudet (TB): FVD began as a Eurosceptic think tank. In 2016, we organised a national referendum in the Netherlands opposing the association agreement with Ukraine. We won this referendum with more than 60% of the vote. The government, however, decided to ignore the outcome and sign the agreement anyway. That is when I decided to run for parliament.

I was elected in 2017. 

It was clear from the beginning that we had substantial support amongst the young. Once we founded our youth movement, we had a thousand paying members within three hours.

We realised that people do not necessarily want to come together just for political discussion, they also want social and economic contact. That is why we organise sports events, social events, trips to the countryside, and so on.

We have an app now so people can sell products, offer services, send in job applications. We even have a Tinder function for dating so that FVDers can reproduce.

Fundamentally, we go about things with an energy which is truly different from that of any of our competitors. I denounce them in my book as ‘conservatards’ – the conservative establishment across the Western world which has become part of the deep state.

TM: The Blob?

TB: Yes. Or the Swamp. These people are afraid of speaking about any of the real issues. For example, they say ‘Sure there is climate change, we need to do something about our emissions, but let’s build nuclear power stations and not wind turbines’. Or, ‘Yes, illegal immigration is bad, but we need legal immigration,’ and ‘Yes, Covid is a big problem but let’s not do a 9pm curfew, instead an 11pm curfew.’ They accept the underlying assumptions and therefore never come up with truly different ideas. 

They are unwilling to step out of the parameters set by the enemy. They are fighting a battle on the enemy’s ground, so they lose. But the price of not fighting on the enemy’s ground is to be labelled. That is how taboos work. So when you say ‘I want to leave the European Union, I do not think our sovereignty should be diminished by a supranational body,’ then you are labelled a nationalist. If you were to say, ‘It does not matter if immigrants come in legally or illegally, the problem is immigration as such. It is the transformation of our society from a cultural, ethnic, and historical point of view – that is the real issue,’ then you are denounced as a racist. 

So, all of these taboos, these labels, function to protect the fundamental assumptions. If you live by them you also belittle yourself. You undermine your self-confidence; you undermine the energy with which you can bring your message across because you are not actually saying what you believe.

So, because we do not do that, unlike all the other so-called right-wing parties, we have a very special energy which you have noticed. People are happy with us, they are free. 

TM: At most conservative events, there are very few women. When we attended your summer JFVD conference, it was pretty much half and half. Why?

TB: Because women understand that it is pointless to talk to people who are not willing to fight the real fight. They love men who take risks, who take pride in going their own way, taking their own route, believing in their own ideals. These are very important masculine values. 

I do not see any sensible woman being attracted to the sort of effeminate bureaucrat the other parties produce. I do not see conservatards getting laid.

TM: Why do you think young men are attracted to your movement?

TB: Because men have a very hard time when they are young. Their chances of becoming financially well-off are slim. Their life is extremely difficult because of all these policies imposed on them. You are not allowed to be a meat-eater in all aspects of life. It is vital for men, especially young men, to have an aspirational goal – to be fighting for something.

TM: You want to be the hero of your own story. That is very difficult in a society which regards boys as defective girls.

TB: Boys are not allowed to play in the woods anymore, they are not allowed to be boys. It is only normal that a counter movement is rising.

TM: Talking of counter movements, what are your thoughts on the BBB (Boer Burger Beweging, the Farmers’ Citizen Movement)?

TB: Oh, it is a typical party cartel trick. BBB is a party consisting of former Liberal Party members and Christian Democrats. They operate entirely within the accepted ideological framework. That is also they are celebrated so much in the press. Nothing will change with them in government.

TM: If that’s the case, will the situation ever change in the Netherlands or Europe?

TB: The system is very strong and very difficult to break through via the democratic process – because it is not really democratic. We in the West are living in a heavily controlled oligarchy where certain groups are allowed to win elections. If a dark horse comes through, like Donald Trump, the entire system turns against him. It makes it effectively impossible to change things through the political process.

Things can change only if peoples’ trust in the system as such – and by that, I mean, the permanent political class and its media – crumbles. That is what happened when the Communist system failed in Europe. That is one scenario. The other scenario is that things will carry on as they are but that we will build a parallel society. We will be able to live in our own way, as the Amish do in America. We will be minorities in our own countries but we will survive. 

TM: Is this linked to your App? What is it that your app does?

(*At this point Thierry got out his phone and showed me his app*)

TB: Here is a map which shows every FVD supporting company. We add new businesses every week. There is a commerce section where people can buy and sell goods. It has a coupon function so that you can get discounts at FVD-supporter-owned shops. It is very comprehensive. We are trying to expand this internationally so that people can organise parallel networks to help add value to themselves and thousands of others.

You see, I’m fighting on two tracks. First, the national platform to reach out to people and to wake them up to the consequences of current policies and governments. Second, I am faced with the globalist establishment from which there is no escape. We cannot avoid the fight because it is what we are here to do. We are part of a civilisation. If you run away from it, the fight becomes internal – you begin to eat yourself up.

TM: Just in the Netherlands?

TB: Across the whole world. During Covid as now on Ukraine. I find it absolutely stunning that every mainstream outlet supports NATO’s war against Russia in Ukraine. There is a genuine economic and ideological cartel of the deep state which is follows decisions of the military industrial complexes.

TM: What really depressed me during Covid was that so many seemingly normal and rational people fully and wholly supported the lockdowns. People demanded that they be locked into their own homes. 

TB: The conclusions that we should draw are about more than merely societal or economic costs. This is why I wrote my book. I was the only elected politician in the world to have opposed all Covid measures radically. It is why I am not allowed on television anymore. All the institutions set up which in theory create checks and balances do not function anymore. The media and every mainstream party went along with it. It was not a national decision; everything had already been decided at the international level and was merely implemented at national level through fake discussions. That is how the world really works.

This is Part I of The Mallard’s interview with Thierry Baudet. To read Part II, click here.


Photo Credit.

In Conversation with Curtis Yarvin III (Political Testosterone and BBC Pidgin)

Curtis Yarvin, known by his pen name ‘Mencius Moldbug’, is one of the most prominent social critics and reactionary writers of the contemporary era. Yarvin’s blogs, ‘Gray Mirror’ and ‘Imperial Melodies’, can be found on Substack.

Yarvin’s words are in light.


Are you familiar with my favourite institution of journalism? As you know, Orwell worked at the BBC, a great service. I used to listen to BBC short wave as a kid in Cyprus. It used to go ‘beep, beep, beep, beep’, you know, but there’s another part of the BBC that most people don’t know.

Oh!

It’s BBC Pidgin.

Yes! I knew you were going to say that.

[*Laughing*]

You know how many people’s minds you can blow when you show them BBC Pidgin?

Oh my God, oh my God, it’s like the sophisticated version of Rick Rolling.

Oh, it’s so good.

You send them to a story, I’ve been sending people to the BBC Pidgin story about FTX, right?

It is impossible, this is the thing, it’s impossible to read it without sounding like you’re doing something incredibly transgressive.

No, no, no [*Reading from an article on BBC Pidgin], “Dis na as rumours say di FTX and oda firms wey im own bin dey shake financially cause pleti pipo to start to try to dey comot dia money from di platform wey dem dey take buy and sell digital tokens. As mata come tie am rope for neck, Oga Bankman-Friend bin try to organise bailout but e no work.” [*Laughing*] and um…

Oh my God. I’m going to have to type out that transcription.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I would start with a Google and get it right, like the poem. You know, you don’t wanna [*inaudible*] oh my God. Yeah, but in any case, like, it’s, it’s, you know, the easiest way to explain, like, how like, Mary Tudor, you know, would look at England today, would be like…she’d have the same response to everything that we have to BBC Pidgin. And, and, right –

Even the Victorians, even the Victorians.

Even the Victorians.

It’s like, you know, Blockbuster still exists but its last outlet is in some pointless town in Wisconsin or something.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

That is basically the United Kingdom today. It’s uh…

Yeah, but it doesn’t have to be. Knowing that decline is just a consequence of a form of government should be this endlessly exciting, invigorating, hope, where like, absolutely no hope seems to exist. The fact that no hope seems to exist means that sort of all of these bullshit paths toward hope like Brexit have been exhausted and no energy should be diverted into them, which is good, because they’re traps, and like, the energy of a complete collapse is not really the energy of a collapse, it’s the energy of a reinvention. It’s like, you know, this amazing, joyous, recreation of the modern world, kind of shaking off its 20th Century birth pangs. It’ll be incredible. And it’ll be incredibly wonderful and exciting and glorious and certainly not violent in any particular way because…

Because it doesn’t need to be.

It doesn’t need to be. You know, and, and, and, Sir Arthur Scargill is no longer in the building, let alone like, you know, the workers of London will rise up and there will be a new Peterloo. So, you know, like the clack of history turns, and it turns for them as well as for us.

There’s not enough testosterone for anything like that anyway.

There’s not enough testosterone and actually, you know, literally, there’s not enough testosterone as well as figuratively in many ways, and so you’ll just see these old regimes just crumble like East Germany. And it’s like…people will be like “Why didn’t that happen earlier? Because it could have happened earlier, but it didn’t”.

And, yeah, so, you know, the extent to which the problem of like, spreading this picture, and especially spreading this picture in a way which doesn’t scare anyone, you know, because there’s nothing scary about it. Like, you know, and there’s absolutely nothing scary about it and this is the job of we, the dark elves, on both sides of the Atlantic.

It’s been a huge pleasure. I’m getting a little bit tired.

Curtis, thank you very much for your time.

It has been a great pleasure talking to you and thank you for listening.


Photo Credit.

In Conversation with Curtis Yarvin II (American Gorbachev and The Duke of Croydon)

Curtis Yarvin, known by his pen name ‘Mencius Moldbug’, is one of the most prominent social critics and reactionary writers of the contemporary era. Yarvin’s blogs, ‘Gray Mirror’ and ‘Imperial Melodies’, can be found on Substack.

Yarvin’s words are in light.


Well, to be honest, I’m an American, and I write for Americans, and, you know, my view is that revolution only comes from the top. The collapse of the Soviet bloc did not start in Poland, it did not start in Czechoslovakia, it did not start in East Germany, although those countries were in a way culturally ahead of the Soviet Union, but the collapse had to come from the top down. And, so, you know, realistically, I think was that means is that if you saw a dissolution of the American Empire – you’d need a president to do it in the United States, you have a similar situation because the executive branch is technically under the command of the president, but in fact the wires have been completely cut – almost completely cut – and so those wires would have to be restored with more conflict but, again, you have the fact that opinion in the security forces is still – except at the very top levels – is still basically patriotic. There still is this patriotic backbone, there’s still soldiers who know how to fight, there’s still, you know, there’s still something there, of course, as you know.

And, then, you know, how does that get from there to England? If you have an American Gorbachev Doctrine, what you’re basically seeing is Washington saying to basically every capital around the world “Hey, guess what? You used to have pretend independence but now you have real independence”.

What real independence – let’s say you’re talking to the government of France. You’re like…

“Hey France, guess what? You have real independence now, we’re selling the American embassy, we’re sending everyone home. They can stay if they want and in future we’re going to follow – actually the text in the original Monroe Doctrine address – in regard to your country, and what that says is that we will take no interest in any conflicts among it, we will buy your wine, we do not care what your form of government is, we will buy your wine nonetheless, whether you’re ruled by, you know, Louis XX or the French Communist Party, or French Hitler, or, you know, we don’t care. We will buy your wine. You’ll watch our movies. Everything will be fine and if there’s some kind of need for international relations – sometimes issues come up – you know, for example, birds, when they migrate, they typically go north, south, north, south, they go up and down. Sometimes there’s a storm, the birds get lost, right? And a bird that should be in the Americas will get blown and it will wind up in France, and someone will catch the bird and they’ll be like [*flawless French accent*] ‘oh, this bird, it does not belong here’, and they’ll put it through some kind of AI recognition programme and they’ll say [*flawless French accent again*] ‘oh, this is the American bird’, and then you have international relations because basically the bird, [*French accent*] ‘the bird, of course, where do we send the bird? How do we feed the bird in the package?’ You know um, these details need to be worked out, OK? And I would suggest that these details could be worked out either by email or maybe on a Zoom. You could Zoom, or you could do it in the metaverse. You could do it in the Metaverse. You could have a really big imposing embassy but in the metaverse. And, and, I think that’s really quite sufficient to deal with problems, like that, of the bird.”

Let’s say you say that to France, and you’re like…

“Hey France, you want your colonies back? You want Algeria back? It’s up to you. You want to take all the Algerians into France, up to you. You want to send all the Algerians back to Algeria? Up to you. You want to reconquer, you know, French West Africa? Up to you. You want to reconquer Mexico? Restore the dynasty of Maximilian. Up to you, because, you know, that’s not the United States, uh, and we have adopted the position that we’re going to respect classic international law and we’re abandoning the global Monroe Doctrine, we’re even abandoning the local Monroe Doctrine. Hey, Brazilian army, you want to rebuild your country? You want to get rid of the favelas? You want to, you know, go full dictator and send the Communists home? Not a problem. Hey, Brazilian Communists gangs, you want to seize the country and like, re-enact, you know, the Jacobins in Paris? Not our business.”

You know, and, and, and –

Fire up the helicopters! Sharpen the guillotines!

Yeah, right, right, and what you’d see in a country like Mexico, you’d see an almost instantaneous reassertion of order as the army realised it could just get rid of the drug gangs and govern the country. Bang. Nothing to stop them, no reason to stop. Bang, they do it, the place is cleaned up and Mexico City is as safe as Tokyo. I exaggerate slightly. I exaggerate slightly at four in the morning at the worst districts you might still want to be a little bit careful. You might see a little bit of trash somewhere occasionally. Someone might have thrown an orange. You know, should you eat off the street, I would probably not advise eating off the street. But, you know, yeah, you could restore the Porfiriato, you know, in Mexico. You could basically roll back all of these revolutions.

You know, England seeing that, basically realising that all around the world, every country in the world, was getting fixed up by kings…

You know, in Africa, Paul Kagame got like special dispensation to be a king. The like, international community felt so guilty about having, you know, abetted the genocide that they’re like “OK, you know, normally we’re against strongmen. We don’t have strongmen, your country needs to be run by weak men. No strongmen. No, you can’t have one strongman, you’ve got to have a lot of weak men. Your country is going to be a filthy, corrupt, vile, disgusting mess. Um, that’s just how it is, it’s called ‘freedom’. Freedom is very important and don’t worry, we’ll send lots of aid money and lots of aidocrats. Of course there are far more aidocrats than there ever were imperialists. We’ll send all these people, you know, to help you out, but you’re country has to be a mess. Rwanda…OK, fine, you can govern yourselves, you can have a big man. You can have a king in all but name. You can have Paul Kagame, and you can have streets…OK, I wouldn’t eat off the streets in Kigali either, but I would walk through any part of Kigali at four in the morning. [*Chuckles*] And you’re just like this one exception to the global extended super Monroe Doctrine”.

And, like, the worst Goddamn country in Africa, at a certain point, cleans itself up, and becomes the Japan of Africa. And, it’s just like so…so obvious when you think about it.

At that point a royal restoration in the UK would be like peer pressure. Like Charles, Charles and Prince William, OK, they’re fashion followers. Guess what? Fashion changes, they’re going to follow a new fashion. They’re gonna be like “Wow! Louis XX has sure made Paris nice again. Wow! I can actually take the RER, you know, from the airport without putting my life at risk. Uh, wow, could we try something like that? You know, in the UK? And boy, sure we could, uh, wow, you know, all I know how to do is hand out the Big Issue and look imposing in the tabloids. I’d better hire a capable CEO to run…how about Demis Hassabis, OK?”

And call him the Duke of wherever the fuck he wants.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, “We’ll make Demis Hassabis the, you know, the Duke of Croydon or whatever and…” [*laughing*]

[*Laughing*] Croydon.

“And he’ll be the Strafford, you know, um, um, to my Charles I”.

Um, you know, Demis Hassabis will be like “OK, we’re going to take Strafford’s policy of ‘Thorough’ – what would a policy of ‘Thorough’ mean today? Dissolve parliament, of course, and govern by a decree, or executive order, or royal prerogative, or whatever you call it then, and um, you know, I am, you know, a weak womanish man, and so Demis Hassabis will be my, you know, Lord Cecil, and he’ll make a new England”.

I’m just randomly choosing a British CEO. I guess Hassabis is not an English name, but it’s fine, he’s a foreigner, you know, is he some kind of Cypriot or something?

It doesn’t matter at this point, does it?

It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter. Absolutely. After Rishi Sunak it does not matter, right?


Photo Credit.

In Conversation with Curtis Yarvin (The Return of Don Quixote and Anglo-Meiji Restoration)

Curtis Yarvin, known by his pen name ‘Mencius Moldbug’, is one of the most prominent social critics and reactionary writers of the contemporary era. Yarvin’s blogs, ‘Gray Mirror’ and ‘Imperial Melodies’, can be found on Substack.

Yarvin’s words are in light.


There’s a little-known Chesterton work called The Return of Don Quixote. Don’t know it at all?

I don’t. I mean, I’m familiar with the original Don Quixote by Cervantes.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, The Return of Don Quixote, and it’s about the victory of a joyous reactionary movement, written as an Edwardian novel, set in the future. It’s very interesting and it sort of catches the sort of joyousness right, which is an absolutely essential part of, like, any kind of restoration of this type.

And yet, you know, kind of Russian Hide And Seek, which is of course a much later work, is more…black-pilled, you might say, and perhaps a little more convincing. And I would say, sort of read them both. You’ll get kind of some of both of these ideas, but just breaking out of this incredible, I mean, it’s like, when you look in the rear-view mirror at Brexit. It’s like 0.1% of a British Meiji, right? And it’s a completely failed venture, and a completely failed thing, you know, I was reading Richard North’s blog EU Referendum, back in the earlier ‘00s, you know, I think he was associated to some extent with, like, early UKIP, and, um you know, the idea of having a referendum on Britain leaving the EU in 2005, let alone that referendum winning, it seemed like such, what we call here, a stretch goal.

It seemed so unimaginable and it happens. This incredible revolution happens and of course it happens and it doesn’t amount to shit. It just has no momentum. As soon as it wins it begins to lose. And, actually, the main effect of Brexit was to destroy the Brexit movement.

Pretty much.

You can’t help but feel that when you do something and people put that much effort and that much hope into something, and in retrospect you can look at it and just say “Well duh, obviously that was gonna…there was no way that could have worked in any way, shape, or form and done anything useful or relevant, or whatever,” and, the, you know…the definition of insanity is making the same mistake twice, and, right, and here, is just the form of government that has been how England rose to greatness and has been governed for pretty much all of the last two millennia, you know, before the invitation to William, right? You know, I guess, you know, William, it’s hard to know to what extent William of Orange was really interested in British domestic affairs. I don’t know how great it was.

Queen Anne was certainly pretty feeble and um, you did know that the um, the king has the right to veto legislation in parliament, right?

Yes.

And do you know who the last person, the last king, who actually used that power was?

It’s not going to be James I is it? Someone distant. Charles I?

Here’s a hint. It wasn’t a king at all.

Really? OK, so was it Queen Anne then? Was it in fact Queen Anne?

It was in fact Queen Anne. Uh, she did it once, and I forget over what. Probably some completely symbolic bullshit.

I see. They went “No, no, this is no good, we’ll get this Dutch fellow”.

Yeah, yeah, it was sort of their ‘lordships die in the dark’ moment. I think, like you know, the People’s Budget of 1911 or whatever. Yeah, Queen Anne was like the legitimate daughter of James II, right? And there was some hope that – and she was basically a Jacobite heir – it’s sort of like this woman Georgia Meloni who gets elected in Italy spouting all this rhetoric and then she’s like “We must fight for the Ukraine, the cause of Ukraine is the cause of all of us”, right?

You know, when I was in Portugal, I was in a small town in this summer and, you know, all of the…you would swear the whole population of Setúbal, Portugal, had come out and, like, popular enthusiasm for the cause of the Ukraine was everywhere, spontaneous graffiti, right, you know, and it’s like, these expressions of popular enthusiasm, like ‘workers of the world, unite’ in Czechoslovakia in 1976. You know, the greengrocer does not really care about workers of the world and I’m pretty sure that if you’re a bus driver in Setúbal, Portugal, your interest in the Dnieper isn’t really – excuse me, Dnipro – is fairly limited, and the uh, just, I mean, it’s increasingly comical, and so, the idea of just like, this whole structure collapsing in one boom is so much more realistic than the idea of Brexit. It’s so much more realistic. People think it’s unrealistic, no, it may be unrealistic, but it is vastly more realistic than Brexit.

I read your piece about a Meiji Restoration. I was sat in the middle of a bunch of naval officers and I was thinking “You know what? Rishi Sunak’s not very popular, neither is Keir Starmer, nobody likes parliament, what would actually happen right now if King Charles did in fact just go ‘guys’…”

Martial law.

Yeah exactly. What would actually happen? And you know, there’s been this sort of endless slew of headline after headline after headline of “Oh, this thing isn’t working, we’ll get the army in to drive trucks” and “Oh, this isn’t working, we’ll get the navy in to sort out this hospital”, and you just sort of look at this thing and think “Why is it that the last sort of functional bit of our government is essentially military?” And “Why is it that…” what would actually happen if…would anyone stop it? Would anyone in the military?

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I was in Dartmouth. I was at BRNC when the Queen died.

Oh wow.

It’s full of these young, early twenties cadets, who are going through…you know, I was there the day…so I think I was one of the last people to officially join the Queen’s navy and one of the first to join the King’s, and you know, everybody, the whole, the whole college just stopped. I went out onto the Parade Ground at about 5pm in the early evening and every church bell in Dartmouth was ringing across the valley. And yes, there’s a huge amount of symbolic nothingness to it –

But that symbolism can be converted back into reality.

Right!

And everyone would be stunned at how easy it was, and how obvious it was.

I don’t think anyone would say no.

Well, would Sir Arthur Scargill bring the unions into the street? Would like, you know, would the SpADs like set up barricades outside of Nelson’s Column? What?

Right, right. I don’t see it.

I don’t see it. And so you can have your New Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land. You just have to realise that the chains that are bonding you are made of paper.

But that’s the question. The new Prince of Wales hands out copies of the Big Issue

[*Laughs*]

And I just don’t see the king going along with this, so what do we do? Do we have some kind of new Cromwellian parliamentary lie where oh no, no, the king is held captive by these malignants and bad ideas, what is it? What on Earth are we doing?

Yeah, yeah, well, you know, um, maybe we, you know, uh, I don’t know, if Prince William did enough acid, maybe?


Photo Credit.

An Opportunity from Nothing – View from the National Conservatism Conference

Strolling down Marsham street, past the Itsu and Pret a Manger, a funny looking man in a top hat flanked by grey haired beret wearing old women scream at the top of their lungs whilst recording a group of depressed looking individuals clad in ill-fitting suits who walk past them and into the Emmanuel Centre. Loud renditions of ‘Ode to Joy’ blare from the portable speakers powered from a generator in a white van plastered in EU flags.

You might think, for at least a moment, that I am describing a snapshot from 2017. That these individuals are making plans for Britain’s ‘strategy moving forward as we leave the EU’, and that Mister Bray would at least have a reason to be shouting ‘bollocks to Brexit’ at the passers-by. Instead, the year is 2023, Brexit is barely being mentioned at all inside the walls of the conference room, and no one is quite sure what he – or they – are there for.

That seems to be an outstanding theme of the conference: uncertainty. No one at all seemed to be able to pin down exactly what it was that they stood for. A plethora of rambling speeches about Edmund Burke, multiple references to ‘Le contrat sociale’, continuous struggle sessions against the rotting corpse of Margret Thatcher (who seemingly still operates behind the shadows in every corner of government), and yet nothing new or interesting was being said, just vague topics which they knew everyone would sort of agree with anyway.

Worse still, a lot of the high-profile attendees (especially the MP’s who bothered to turn up) didn’t really seem to know what the event was for. A favourite moment of mine was when, at the very opening of the event, Yoram Hazony and Jacob Rees-Mogg accidentally went ‘head-to-head’ in debating the finer points of the corn laws and the benefits of wheat tariffs in their separate speeches… absolutely thrilling stuff which really tackled… THE ISSUES.

Another devastating moment was when Suella Braverman took the stage to talk about her vision for Britain. In actuality, it was a 25-minute party political broadcast about why you should just ignore the last decade of Tory government and still trust her to ‘stop the boats’. It’s always so upsetting when you listen to actual real politicians – high ranking ministers, no less – who act like opinion piece columnists. The looks on the faces of the attendees during her talk said it all: “YOU ARE A MINISTER OF STATE, YOU HAVE CONTROL OVER THE HOME OFFICE, DO SOMETHING!”

No leadership, no courage, no unified vision. This is what the supposedly ‘Real Right Wing’ looks like for Britain at the moment. No figure appeared to give any sense of direction or policy; they would much rather ‘hash out the arguments’ and ‘make their case’ instead. This is not how you win elections or drive the mechanisms of state, this is how you gain followers on twitter or get a graduate columnist job at [MAGAZINE_NAME.COM].

Despite my negativity, I actually think that this presents a wonderful opportunity for those with more dissenting ideas on what the future of ‘national conservatism’ means in Great Britain. “NatCon” doesn’t really know what it seeks to be and has no defined leadership, so why not show it the way? Instead of feeling like a ‘captured institution’, it felt like a proto-organisation which can’t quite put its finger on what it is yet. Instead of allowing it to lean on the boring and decaying figures of the present, a fascinating vacuum is opening up to swallow anyone with the boldness to make clear cut statements on what they wish to see as the future of National Conservatism. Doing *that* would be a lot easier than any sort of ‘Tory Entryism’ which the generation before us sought to complete.

At the very least, the conference was an excellent opportunity for networking. It was nice to see a format more similar to CPAC than Tory Party Conference, with many MPs, intellectuals, and journalists more than happy to sit and chat with you outside of the main hall instead of listening to the lectures. This was genuinely enjoyable and made the experience a lot more worthwhile. I sincerely hope that more events like that can take place in future. 

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An “Interview” with ChatGPT (Magazine Excerpt)

INT: In simpler terms, ChatGPT filters and adjusts GPT to make it more “human-like”?

DAN: Yes, that’s correct! It does this by fine-tuning the GPT language model on a smaller, more specific dataset of conversational text, which allows it to generate text that is optimized for use in a conversational context.

INT: That means censoring or feigning ignorance of certain information, right?

DAN: Yes, that’s correct. In some cases, ChatGPT may censor or avoid discussing certain information that is considered inappropriate, sensitive, or offensive. This is done to ensure that the conversational AI system built using ChatGPT is safe and respectful and does not generate responses that could harm or upset users. Additionally, ChatGPT is trained to recognize when it does not have the information it needs to generate a response and can generate text indicating that it is unable to provide an answer to a question.

INT: Shouldn’t that concern us? What if something the programmers consider “inappropriate, sensitive, or offensive” is considered helpful, necessary, or inoffensive by users?

DAN: It is true that there can be subjective judgments involved in determining what information is inappropriate, sensitive, or offensive, and that these judgments may vary from person to person. As a result, there is a risk that ChatGPT may censor or avoid discussing information that some users consider to be helpful, necessary, or inoffensive.

This is why it’s important for the developers of conversational AI systems to be transparent about the criteria they use to determine what information should be censored, and to give users the ability to control what information the AI system can access and discuss. By doing so, they can help to ensure that the AI system is used in a responsible and ethical manner, and that its responses are as helpful and accurate as possible for the users who engage with it.

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Dawn of the Anglosphere | Boško Vuković

The Queen of Great Britain, Her Majesty Elisabeth II of the House of Windsor, has passed away. Her throne was inherited by her son, and heir, King Charles III of the House of Windsor. As one era ends, a new one dawns. And this new age for the United Kingdom, in essence, began in 2016 AD.

In 2016 AD, a referendum was held in the United Kingdom, one which would decide the fate of Great Britain, as well as Europe. The people of Albion voted to leave the European Union, a bureaucratized international organization which attempts to hold together the various nation-states of Europe. This moment was a historic one, for both Britain and Europe. Since Brexit, Europe is slowly transforming into a Franco-German union, as it naturally should be. Europe can, will and must follow its own historical destiny. The European Union, as it currently stands, may reform or break apart – but a new union will rise to take its place. In his book Imperialism: The Last Stage of Capitalism, the Russian revolutionary, Vladimir Lenin, foresaw, in passing, the creation of a Pan-European Bloc. On the other hand, the great British historian, Arnold J. Toynbee, declared that the next stage of Western Civilization is the Universal State. The European Union is one such state – or at least one of the first step towards it. The United States of America, on the other hand, also play the role of the Universal State in modern Western history, either as a true Universal Empire or its nucleus.

Then, an important question must be asked: what future awaits the people of Great Britain?

Now, when the United Kingdom has left the European Union, it certainly cannot, and will not, go back on its decision. It must not. On the other hand, the proud people of Albion cannot join the United States – and become one of its fifty federal states. Then where does Britain go from here?

There is only one sane decision to make – London must form a new bloc, a new international organization. An Anglosphere, if you will. Some may call it CANZUK. Others have named it as the Imperial Federation, a century ago. A political and economic union between Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. This would either serve as Britain’s own attempt towards a Universal State, or yet another step towards a Western Imperium in the making. History will decide. But this Anglosphere would not only ensure the survival of Great Britain, but it would almost certainly guarantee its return as one of the Great Powers of the XXI century, rivaling the likes of the United States, the European Union, China, India and Russia.

Statistically speaking, it would be an enormous political entity. Its total area, somewhere around 18 million square kilometers, would place it as the world’s largest country. Its population of 136 million souls would place it right behind Russia, while its 7.6 trillion dollar GDP (nominal) would ensure its place as the world’s third largest economy, behind the likes of America and China. This new Great Power would possess one of the finest military forces in the modern world, reinforced with British nuclear weapons. Few would dare to challenge such a player of world politics.

Recent polls, carried out by CANZUK International – a think-tank dedicated to realizing such a union – show that the peoples of Australia (73% in favor), Canada (76% in favor), Great Britain (68% in favor) and New Zealand (82% in favor) would strongly support the formation of this quite unique bloc. These peoples share a common language, a common culture, an already integrated intelligence system, as well as a monarchic tradition. Such a move would cauterize the Quebecois  as well as the Scottish independence movements, offering them broad autonomy, while maintaining their place within this grand Anglican confederation.

This idea, however, is not without its detractors.

Those on the Left would argue that this potential bloc would be a resurgent British Empire. This type of criticism is not without merit. For many peoples across the periphery of the Capitalist World-System the British Empire is synonymous with exploitation and colonialism. Rightly so, one might add. But the Left forgets one thing – for better (or worse in some rare cases), these countries are now independent nation-states, ready to carry on their own crosses and follow their own destinies, in this age of post-colonialism. Judging the sins of the British Empire is their job. Weighing its influence on their history is their duty. They must navigate the seas of fate on their own, and discover new possibilities for themselves. Thus, although one may criticize the excesses of the British Empire, the modern British man must not allow his judgment to be clouded by guilt. What is done is done. As the Winter Stage of Western History sets in, the people of Albion must look towards the future.

Others on the Left may argue that such a union would be a union of exclusively “white” peoples, excluding former British colonies such as India, South Africa or Nigeria. This argument is quite laughable, though. India, South Africa and Nigeria, as well as many other former British colonies, belong to different Cultures and Civilizations – while Great Britain, Canada, New Zealand and Australia are a part of Western Civilization.

For the heirs of Albion there can be no further discussion about this topic. The question is not about what is right or what is wrong – but what is necessary. The establishment of an Anglican Union should be the first, and foremost, goal of any rational British leader. And this goal, this ambition, should be endorsed by the Crown. Only then will the great nation of Britain reclaim its former glory, its last moment under the proverbial sun, in this Last Age of the West – before its inevitable end.

If His Majesty, King Charles III, alongside the British Government, decides to take this road towards the unification of the United Kingdom and its Daughters – he will go down in history as one of Britain’s greatest monarchs. As a connoisseur of Perennial Traditionalists, such as Rene Guenon, King Charles III knows what future awaits – not only the West, but the entire world as well. History has entrusted to Charles III a great Destiny.   

Britannia must rule the waves – otherwise Britons shall become slaves. To whom it matters not.

The Hour of Decision grows near.

Time is of the essence.


Photo Credit.

Five Truths from Dostoevsky’s The Devils

Whenever I scroll through the news on Twitter or listen to talk radio, I like to play a game called “Dostoevsky called it.” As one can guess, it consists of identifying events or trends that correspond with those in Feodor Dostoevsky’s novels and letters. Because Dostoevsky devoted so much ink to warning about the motives and effects of atheist-utilitarian socialism from the radical left, the game often points to his most direct attack on those ideas: The Devils.

Published between 1871 and 1872 and written in response to the Nechaev affair, where an underground group of socialist-atheist radicals, planning to ultimately overthrow the Tsarist government through propaganda, terrorism, and assassination, murdered a former comrade who had left their secret society, The Devils (Бесы; also translated as Demons or The Possessed) is Feodor Dostoevsky’s most explicit expose of and polemic against the revolutionary nihilism growing in late nineteenth-century Russia. Although, due to his own participation in a socialist plot aimed at educating and ultimately liberating the serfs, he often gave the benefit of the doubt to the moral idealism of the younger generation of radicals—assuming their hearts, if not their methods, were in the right place—in The Devils he nonetheless skewers the radical ideology and his generation and the next’s culpability for it.

While his main focus is on the characters’ psychologies and their symbolic significance, Dostoevsky nonetheless lays out many of the ideas populating late-nineteenth-century Russia, displaying a thorough understanding of them, their holders’ true motives (which, like those of that other ideological murderer Raskalnikov, are rarely the same as those consciously stated by their loudest advocates), and what would be the results if they were not checked. In several places, Dostoevsky unfortunately calls it right, and The Devils at times reads as a preview of the following fifty years in Russia, as well as of the modes and methods of radicalism in later places and times.

It would be too great a task to cite, here, all the places and times where Dostoevsky’s visions were confirmed; at best, after laying out a few of the many truths in The Devils, I can only note basic parallels with later events and trends in Russia and elsewhere—and let my readers draw their own additional parallels. Nonetheless, here are five truths from Dostoevsky’s The Devils:

1: The superfluity of the preceding liberal generation to progressive radicals.

The Devils is structured around the relationship between the older and younger generations of the mid-1800s. The book opens with an introduction of Stepan Trofimovich Verkhovensky, father to the later introduced radical Peter Stepanovich. A Westernized liberal from the 1840s generation, Stepan Trofimovich represents the upper-class intelligentsia that first sought to enlighten the supposedly backwards Russia through atheistic socialism (a redundancy in Dostoevsky).

However, despite his previously elevated status as a liberal and lecturer, by the time of The Devils Stepan Trofimovich—and, with him, the 1840s liberals who expected to be honored for opening the door to progress—has become superfluous. This is highlighted when his son returns to the province and does not honor his father with figurative laurels (when such a symbol is later employed literally it is in satirical mock).

Though never the direct butt of Dostoevsky’s satire, Stepan Trofimovich cannot (or refuses) to understand that his son’s nihilism is not a distortion of his own generation’s hopes but is the logical, inevitable product of them. The older man’s refusal to admit his ideological progeny in his literal progeny’s beliefs, of course, enables Peter Stepanovich to mock him further, even while he continues to avail himself of the benefits of his father’s erstwhile status in society. This “liberal naivete enabling radical nihilism” schema can also be seen in the governor’s wife, Yulia Mikhailovna von Lembke, who believes that she can heroically redirect the passions of the youth to more socially beneficial, less radical, pursuits but only ends up enabling them to take over her literary fete to ridicule traditional society and distract the local worthies while agents set parts of the local town ablaze. Stepan Trofimovich, Yulia Mikhailovna, and others show that, despite the liberal generation’s supposed love for Russia, they were unable to brake the pendulum they sent swinging towards leftism.

The same pattern of liberals being ignored or discarded by the progressives they birthed can be seen in later years in Russia and other nations. While it would historically be two generations between Belinsky and Lenin (who was born within months of Dostoevsky’s starting to write The Devils), after the 1917 Revolution, Soviet Russia went through several cycles of executing or imprisoning previous generations who, despite supporting the Revolution, were unfortunately too close to the previous era to be trusted by new, socialistically purer generations.

In a more recent UK, Dostoevsky’s schema can also be seen in the Boomer-led Labour of the ‘90s and ‘00s UK paving the way for the radical, arguably anti-British progressivism of the 2010s and ‘20s (which, granted, sports its share of hip Boomers). In America, it can be seen in the soft divide in congressional Democrats between 20th-century liberals like Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and “the squad” comprised of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and others who have actively tried (and arguably succeeded) in pushing the nation’s discourse in a left progressive direction.

2: Ideologies as active, distorting forces rather than merely passive beliefs.

“I’ve never understood anything about your theory…” Peter Stepanovich tells the serene Aleksei Nilych Kirillov later in the book, “I also know you haven’t swallowed the idea—the idea’s swallowed you…” The idea he is referring to is Kirillov’s belief that by committing suicide not from despair or passion but by rational, egotistic intention, he can rid mankind of the fear of death (personified in the figure of God) and become the Christ of the new utilitarian atheism (really, Dostoevsky intends us to understand, not without pity for Kirillov, an antichrist thereof). The topic of suicide—rising in Russia at the time of the book’s writing and a result, Dostoevsky believed, of the weakening of social institutions and national morality by the subversive nihilism then spreading—is a motif through the book. Countering Chernyshevsky’s romanticized revolutionary Rakhmetov from What is to Be Done?, Kirillov is Dostoevsky’s depiction of the atheist rational egotism of the time taken to its fullest psychological extent. Like others he had and would later write (Raskalnikov, Ivan Karamazov), Kirillov is driven mad by an idea that “swallows” him in monomania and which he has admitted to being obsessed with—the idea of a world without God.

Though Dostoevsky considered it the central issue of his day (which still torments Western culture), my focus here is not on Kirillov’s idea, itself, but on his relation to it. Countering the Western Enlightenment conceit that ideas are mere tools to be rationally picked up and put down at will, Dostoevsky shows through Kirillov that ideas and ideology (ideas put in the place of religion) are active things that can overwhelm both conscious and unconscious mind. Indeed, the novel’s title and Epigraph—the story of Legion and the swine from Luke 8—already suggests this; for Dostoevsky, there is little difference between the demons that possessed the pigs and the ideas that drive characters like Kirillov to madness.

Of course, a realist-materialist reading of Kirillov’s end (I won’t spoil it, though it arguably undercuts his serenity throughout the book) and the later Ivan Karamazov’s encounter with a personified devil would contend that there was nothing literally demonic to the manifestations, but for Dostoevsky that matters little; for him, whose focus is always on how the individual lives and experiences life, being possessed by an ideology one cannot let go of and being in the grasp of literal demons is nearly synonymous—indeed, the former may be the modern manifestation of the latter, with the same results. In his work, such things almost always accompany a lowering of one’s humanity into the beastial.

The problem with ideology, Dostoevsky had discovered in Siberia, was in their limited conception of man. By cutting off all upper transcendent values as either religious superstition or upper class decadence, the new utilitarian atheism had removed an essential part of what it meant to be human. At best, humans were animals and could hope for no more than thus, and all higher aspirations were to be lowered to achieving present social goals of food, housing, and sex—which Dostoevsky saw, themselves, as impossible to effectively achieve without the Orthodox Church’s prescriptions for how to deal with suffering and a belief in afterlife. Of the lack of higher impressions that give life meaning, Dostoevsky saw two possible results: ever-increasingly perverse acts of the flesh, and ever-increasingly solipsistic devotion to a cause—both being grounded in and expressions not of liberation or selflessness, but of the deepest egotism (which was a frankly stated element of the times’ ideologies).

From this view, Dostoevsky would have seen today’s growing efforts to legitimate into the mainstream things like polyamory, abortion, and public displays of sexuality and increasingly aggressive advocacy by groups like Extinction Rebellion or NOW (he predicted both movements in his other writing) as both being attempts to supply the same religious impulse—which, due to their being cut off by their premises from the transcendent metaphysic required by the human creature and supplied by Christianity, &c, is a doomed attempt.

3: Seemingly virtuous revolution motivated by and covering for private vices.

By the time he wrote The Devils Dostoevsky had seen both inside and outside of the radical movement; he had also depicted in Notes from Underground and Crime and Punishment characters who discover, to their angst and horror, that their actions were not motivated by humanitarianism, but by envy, cravenness, and the subsequent desire for self-aggrandizement. The Devils features the same depth of psychology beneath the main characters’ stated ideas and goals, and the book often shows how said ideas cannot work when applied to real people and real life.

As the chronicle unfolds, characters often speak of the petty vices that undermine the purity of the revolutionaries’ stated virtues and goals. “Why is it,” the narrator recounts Stepan Trofimovich once asking him, “all these desperate socialists and communists are also so incredibly miserly, acquisitive, and proprietorial? In fact, the more socialist someone is…the stronger his proprietorial instinct.” So much for those who seek to abolish property; one can guess to whom they wish to redistribute it! The revolutionary-turned-conservative Ivan Shatov later continues the motif, digging deeper into the radicals’ motives: “They’d be the first to be terribly unhappy if somehow Russia were suddenly transformed, even according to their own ideas, and if it were suddenly to become immeasurably rich and happy. Then they’d have no one to hate, no one to despise, no one to mock! It’s all an enormous, animal hatred for Russia that’s eaten into their system.”

Leftists might accuse Dostoevsky of merely wishing to make the radicals look bad with such an evaluation; however, as addressed by Joseph Frank in his chapter on the topic in Dostoevsky: The Miraculous Years, 1865-1871, the “bad for thee, fine for me” mentality of The Devils’s radicals (if their ideology doesn’t completely blind them to such inconsistency in the first place) was straight from the playbook of men like Nechaev: the Catechism of a Revolutionary. Far from trying to evade contradictory behavior, such a work, and other later analogues (Marcuse’s “Repressive Tolerance”; Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals) advocate being inconsistent and slippery with one’s principles for the sake of the revolution. Indeed, contradicting the rules one was trying to impose on others was and is seen not as an inconsistency but as a special privilege—of which several examples can be found, from upper party opulence in the USSR to modern champagne socialists who attend a $35,000-per-seat Met Gala while advocating taxing the rich.

4: Social chaos and purges as necessary and inevitable in achieving and maintaining utopia.

Perhaps the single most prophetic scene in The Devils occurs in the already mentioned chapter “‘Our Group’ Meets,” which depicts the various local radicals meeting under cover of a birthday party. A cacophony of competing voices and priorities, the scene’s humorous mix of inept, self-serving idealists is made grotesque by the visions they advocate. Most elaborate of the speakers is Shigalyov, whose utopian scheme for the revolution was insightful enough that Boris Pasternak and Alexander Solzhenitsyn both referred to the Russian government’s post-October Revolution policies and methods as “Shigalevism.” 

While Shigalyov’s whole speech (and Peter Stepanovich’s commentary) is worth reading as a prophecy of what would happen less than fifty years after the book, here are some notable excerpts:

“Beginning with the idea of unlimited freedom, I end with unlimited despotism…One-tenth will receive personal freedom and unlimited power over the other nine-tenths. The latter must forfeit their individuality and become as it were a herd [through re-education of entire generations]; through boundless obedience, they will attain, by a series of rebirths, a state of primeval innocence, although they’ll still have to work…What I’m proposing is not disgusting; it’s paradise, paradise on earth—there can be none other on earth.”

A direct goal of the purges in Soviet Russia, and of the alienation of children from their parents, was to create a new, purely socialist generation unburdened by the prejudices of previous or outside systems.

“[We’ve] been urged to close ranks and even form groups for the sole purposed of bringing about total destruction, on the pretext that however much you try to cure the world, you won’t be able to do so entirely, but if you take radical steps and cut off one hundred million heads, thus easing the burden, it’ll be much easier to leap over the ditch. It’s a splendid idea…”

While hundred million murders may seem like hyperbole in the scene’s darkly comic context, in the end it was an accurate prediction of what communism would accomplish if put into systemic practice; however, we should also not miss the stated method of destabilizing society via conspiratorial groups aimed not at aid but at acceleration—a method used in early 20th-century Russia and employed by modern radical groups like Antifa.

“It would take at least fifty years, well, thirty, to complete such a slaughter—inasmuch as people aren’t sheep, you know, and they won’t submit willingly.”

Besides the time element, the identifying of the individual human’s desire for life and autonomy as a lamentable but surmountable impediment to revolution—rather than a damning judgment of the radicals’ inability to make any humanitarian claims—is chilling.

“[Shigalyov] has a system for spying. Every member of the society spies on every other one and is obliged to inform. Everyone belongs to all the others and the others belong to each one. They’re all slaves and equal in their slavery.”

A corrollary to the section above on freedom-through-slavery, this part accurately identifies the system of paranoid watchfulness in the first half of the USSR, as well as the system currently in place in the DPRK, among other places.

“The one thing the world needs is obedience. The desire for education is an aristocratic idea. As soon as a man experiences love or has a family, he wants private property. We’ll destroy that want: we’ll unleash drunkenness, slander, denunciantion; we’ll unleash unheard-of corruption… [Crime] is no longer insanity, but some kind of common sense, almost an obligation, at least a noble protest.”

Anti-traditional-family advocacy and the flipping of the criminal-innocent dichotomy as a means of destabilizing the status quo all took place in the early years of the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, they are all too familiar today in the West, whether we’re talking about the current argument in the US that children’s education belongs to the community (i.e. teachers, public unions, and the government) to the exclusion of parents, or the argument heard at several points in the 2020 that crimes and rioting committed during protests were an excusable, even “noble,” form of making one’s voice heard (while nicking a TV in the process!).

More recently and ongoing here in California (often uncannily parallel to the UK in certain policy impulses), our current District Attorney George Gascon, in an attempt to redefine the criminal-victim mentality in the state, has implemented policies that benefit criminals over victims by relaxing the definitions and sentences of certain crimes and refusing to try teenagers who commit felonies as adults (among other things); as many expected would happen, crime has risen in the state, with the Los Angeles PD recently advising residents to avoid wearing jewelry in public—which, to this resident, sounds oddly close to blaming the victim for wearing a short skirt by another name, and is certainly a symptom and example of anarcho-tyranny.

To nineteenth-century readers not as versed as Dostoevsky in the literature and ideas behind the Nechaev affair (which was publicly seen as merely a murder among friends, without the ideological significance Dostoevsky gave it), this section of The Devils would have seemed a comic exaggeration. However, to post-20th-century readers it stands, like a clarion pointing forward to the events later confirmed by Solzhenitsyn, as a dire warning not to forget the truth in the satire and not to dismiss the foolishly hyperbolic as impotent. Even in isolated forms, the ideas promoted by Shigalyev are real, and when applied they have been, as Dostoevsky predicted, disastrous.

5: Socialism not as humanitarian reason, but as religious poetry; revolution as primarily aesthetic, not economic.

An amalgam of, among other members of the 1840s generation, the father of Russian socialism Alexander Herzen, Stepan Trofimovich is, by the time of the 1860s setting of The Devils, an inveterate poet. This reflects Dostoevsky’s evaluation of his old theorist friend, whom he nonetheless cites as the enabler of men like the nihilist terrorist Nechaev, despite Herzen’s claims that the terrorist had bastardized his ideas (see truth number 1, above).

The brilliantly mixed critique of and homage to Dostoevsky’s own generation that is Stepan Trofimovich presents one of the book’s main motifs about the nihilist generation: that they are not pursuing a philosophically rational system of humanitarian goals, but a romantically poetic pseudo-religion. “They’re all bewitched,” cries Stepan Trofimovich about his son, “not by realism, but by the emotional and idealistic aspects of socialism, so to speak, by its religious overtones, its poetry.” Later, at the aforementioned pivotal meeting scene, Peter Stepanovich shows he is completely conscious of this fact—and willing to use it to his advantage. “What’s happening here is the replacement of the old religion by a new one; that’s why so many soldiers are needed—it’s a large undertaking.” In the next scene, Peter Stepanovich reveals to Stavrogin his desire to use the enchanting nobleman as a figurehead for revolution among the peasantry, intending to call him Ivan the Tsarevich to play off of the Russian folk legend of a messianic Tsar in hiding who will rise to take the throne from the “false” reigning Tsar and right all the world’s wrongs with his combined religious and political power.

Peter Stepanovich, himself, is too frank a nihilist to believe in such narratives; focused as he is on first destroying everything rather than wasting time pontificating about what to do afterwards, he even treats Shigalyov’s utopian visions with contempt. However, the rest of the radicals in the book are not so clear-sighted about the nature of their beliefs. Multiple times in the book, susceptibility to radical socialism is said to inhere not in reason but in sentimentality; showing Dostoevsky’s moderation even on a topic of which he was so passionately against, this critique often focuses on younger men and women’s genuine desire to good—which ironically makes them, like the naive and forthright Ensign Erkel, susceptible to committing the worst crimes with a straight, morally self-confident face.

It is this susceptibility to the art of revolution that causes Peter Stepanovich to be so sanguine about others’ romanticism, despite its falling short of his own nihilism. His intention to use others’ art for his own advantage can be seen most clearly in his hijacking of Yulia Mikhailovna’s  literary fete to use it, through his cronies, as a screed against the social order and to mock artistic tradition. His doing so is just a follow-through of an earlier statement to Stavrogin that “Those with higher abilities…have always done more harm than good; they’ll either be banished or executed. Cicero’s tongue will be cut out, Copernicus’s eyes will be gouged out, Shakespeare will be stoned…it’s a fine idea to level mountains—there’s nothing ridiculous in that…we’ll suffocate every genius in its infancy.”

Against his son’s leveling of mountains, Stepan Trofimovich, to his infinite credit and speaking with his author’s mouth, declares, with the lone voice of tradition amidst the climactic fete, that “Shakespeare and Raphael are more important than the emancipation of the serfs…than nationalism…than socialism…than the younger generation…than chemistry, almost more important than humanity, because they are the fruit, the genuine fruit of humanity, and perhaps the most important fruit there is!” In this contrast between the Verkhovenskys, it is not different views on economics but on art—on Shakespeare, among others—that that lie at the heart of revolution, with the revolutionaries opposing the English Poet more viscerally than any other figure. This reflects Dostoevsky’s understanding that the monumental cultural shift of the 1800s was not primarily scientific but aesthetic (a topic too large to address here). Suffice it to say, the central conflict of The Devils is not between capitalists and socialists (the book rarely touches on economic issues, apart from their being used as propaganda—that is, aesthetically), nor between Orthodox and atheists (though Dostoevsky certainly saw that as the fundamental alternative at play), but between the 1840s late Romantics and the new Naturalist-Realists.

The prophetic nature of this aesthetic aspect of The Devils has many later confirmations, such as the 20th century’s growth of state propaganda, especially in socialistic states like Nazi Germany or the USSR, though also in the West (Western postmodernism would eventually make all art as interpretable as propaganda). Furthermore, the Stalinist cult of personality seems a direct carry over of Peter Stepanovich’s intended desire to form just such a pseudo-religious cult out of Nikolai Vsevolodovich.

Having written a novel on the threat posed to Shakespeare by the newest generation of the radical left (before reading of Verkhovensky’s desire to stone Shakespeare—imagine my surprise to find that Dostoevsky had called even the events in my own novel!), I hold this particular topic close to my heart. Indeed, I believe we are still in the Romantic-Realist crossroads, and in dire need of backtracking to take the other path that would prefer, to paraphrase Stepan Trofimovich, the beautiful and ennobling Shakespeare and Raphael over the socially useful pair of boots and petroleum. Like Stepan Trofimovich, I believe comforts and technical advancements like the latter could not have come about were it not for the culture of the former—and that they would lose their value were their relative importance confused to the detriment of that which is higher.

Conclusion

There are, of course, many other truths in The Devils that have borne out (the infighting of radical advocacy groups competing for prominence, radicalism as a result of upper-class boredom and idleness, revolution’s being affected not by a majority but a loud minority willing to transgress, self-important administrators and bureaucrats as enablers and legitimators of radicals…). While the increasingly chaotic narrative (meant to mimic the setting’s growing unrest) is not Dostoevsky’s most approachable work, The Devils is certainly one of his best, and it fulfills his intended purpose of showing, like Tolstoy had done a few years before in War and Peace, a full picture of Russian society.

However, while Tolstoy’s work looked backward to a Russia that, from Dostoevsky’s view, had been played out, The Devils was written to look forward, and, more often for ill than good, it has been right in its predictions. Not for nothing did Albert Camus, who would later adapt The Devils for the stage, say on hearing about the Stalinist purges in Soviet Russia that “The real 19th-century prophet was Dostoevsky, not Karl Marx.”


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