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10 Best Books on International Politics

When we read books about politics, many of us may be more inclined to read about what happens in the Anglosphere. It’s natural really- it’s our language, closer to our culture and what we see about on the news.

It is, however, always refreshing to expand our horizons. Here are ten of my favourite books, handpicked, on non-Western international politics and history.

Dictatorland: The Men Who Stole Africa- Paul Kenyon

You may have already read my glowing review of this book and if you haven’t, get to it. This book discusses several contemporary and older dictators of Africa, from the slain Gaddafi of Libya to the man who has been in charge of Equatorial Guinea since 1979. It starts with colonialism, slithers through independence and continues afterwards. Some dictators were murdered, others remained for years or were finally booted out of office.

    It’s a great study of colonialism, the promise of freedom and how these countries suffered under the men who offered them so much. These nations should be rich due to oil and other resources, yet only a few manage to make money from said resources. We learn about dictators who are worth billions, contrasting with the people who live in abject poverty.

    Best Feature: Covers several countries, allowing the reader a greater scope.

    Queens of the Kingdom: The Women of Saudi Arabia- Nicola Sutcliff

    Everyone has their own preconceived ideas of Saudi Arabia, so prepare to have your views challenged. Sutcliff interviews a large number of women who live in the mystical kingdom- wealthy housewives, educated entrepreneurs and illiterate village dwellers among them. They give their views on everything from marriage to education.

    Some are thrilled with having their family keep them close and husbands who are their guardians. Others have experienced insurmountable horror with beatings and underage marriage. What links them all is a love for their culture and country, no matter what they think of their society.

    Best Feature: The women really tell you what they think.

    El Narco- Ioan Grillo

    Many readers will have watched Netflix’s hit show Narcos, which shows the work of the DEA in Colombia and the life of Pablo Escobar. Grillo’s book is the real deal, chronicling the Mexican drug cartels that have gripped the beautiful Central American nature.

    There’s no glamourising money, cars and women here. It’s all gritty, the truth behind the devastation. Kidnappings, murders and tortures are aplenty. Friends turn on friends. Journalists are targeted. Innocent people are killed in the crossfire.

    Best Feature: Grillo lays out the strategies of successive Mexican and American governments regarding the War on Drugs.

    Our Bodies, Their Battlefield: What War Does to Women- Christina Lamb

    I’ve read a lot of books and watched a lot of documentaries about depressing issues, but this book is easily the most shocking and heartbreaking thing I’ve ever read.

    From the refugee camps in Syria to the survivors of Rwanda, we learn about the use of rape as a weapon of war and what it does to women. These women have been raped and tortured. Babies and elderly women aren’t exempt from brutality. Governments ignore it. Rapists get away with it. Families and communities shun victims.

    It’s extremely brutal and doesn’t pull punches when it describes what happens to these women, but there are moments of hope that shine through.

    Best Feature: It shows how war rape has been used for centuries and in every corner of the world

    Shake Hands With the Devil- Romeo Dallaire

    Up to one million people were killed in the space of a few months in three months in 1994 Rwanda. This book is written by Romeo Dallaire, leader of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda (UNAMIR). Dallaire had a front row seat to the slaughter, taking us from his early life in terror-ridden Quebec to his life after Rwanda.

    It makes one pretty angry- Dallaire desperately tried to get the UN to take notice of what was about to happen, but was ignored. People on the ground did nothing. Villagers slaughtered the people they lived with for years. Dallaire suffered from PTSD and attempted to take his life several times afterwards. It’s essential reading.

    Best Feature: It really portrays the absolute hell on earth that is the Rwandan Genocide

    First They Killed My Father- Loung Ung

    I’m pretty much a hard arse when it comes to movies, but the film of this book had me crying.

    Loung Ung was one of seven siblings in a prosperous, middle-class Phnom Penh. Her life turned upside down upon the arrival of the Khmer Rouge and rise of Pol Pot. Ung then lived through the unimaginable- the death of most of her family, living through forced labour and being a child soldier.

    It was a book that made me often wonder if I was actually reading a true story, for it felt like I was reading a fictional dystopia.

    Best Feature: Gives an inside view of one of the world’s most horrendous contemporary crimes

    Persepolis- Marjane Satrapi

    Unusual in that it’s a graphic novel, Persepolis is the true story of the Iranian-born Marjane Satrapi. Born into an intellectual, liberal Iranian family, Marjane Satrapi was young when the revolution happened. From the first time she was forced into a hijab, Satrapi hated the new regime. Her rebellious nature led her family to send her abroad out of fear she’d be executed.

    Satrapi contrasts her life in the West and in Iran. She talks about her family, what romance is like in the conservative regime and how she sneakily listened to American rock music.

    Best Feature: It’s a story of a fish out of water in a very real way

    Girl With a Gun- Diana Nammi and Karen Attwood

    Diana Nammi was only a teenager when she became part of the Peshmerga, part of Iranian Kurdistan. Nammi fought on the frontlines and in the process became one of Iran’s most wanted people. She saw death and survived it herself.

    Nammi now resides in the U.K., founded a charity for women and has been instrumental in the fight against child marriage. She had to move her for her own safety, but her love for her people is clear.

    Best Feature: Gives a great insight into Kurdish culture

    Without You, There is No Us- Suki Kim

    North Korea is the world’s most secretive country and in this book, Suki Kim infiltrated it. The journalist spent some time as a teacher for the elite’s sons. Her notes and documents had to be kept secret and her life was restrictive. Suki discusses how she became close to her initially unwilling students, where the two cultures learned about one another and how the prospect of watching Harry Potter thrilled them.

    It’s sweet but sad- these kids are just like us, yet live in a regime which doesn’t allow their full potential. On top of that, it’s a very personal look at North Korea instead of the outside analysis that is usually the only thing available.

    Best Feature: We get to know these teenage boys and their dreams.

    Nuclear Folly- Serhii Plokhy

    I’m cheating slightly here as a chunk of the book is set and about the US, but it gives equal treatment to Cuba and the Soviet Union. The year is 1962 and when recon planes catch sight of missile structures on Cuba, all hell breaks loose. We learn about the origins of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Castro’s desperate attempts to fight the US, Khrushchev’s role and how the Kennedy administration reacted.

    It’s pretty shocking to read how damn close the world came to nuclear war and how Robert McNamara (Secretary of Defense under Kennedy) only learned that the missiles were offensive and not just defensive thirty years later. Each of the three leaders had their own fate- Kennedy was assassinated a year later, Khrushchev was eventually pushed out for his role and Castro outlived them both by decades.

    Best Feature: Very intricate in details


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    Is Gender Obsolete?

    In recent years, gender has become increasingly divorced from biological sex, spawning an ever-increasing number of self-defined gender identities. At the same time, sex and gender tend to often be conflated in everyday discourse. What is actually revealed at a gender reveal party, for example, is not the baby’s gender but his or her birth sex. Rather than a useful category, gender has thus become an incoherent concept.

    This raises the question whether we actually need gender to describe reality. While it makes sense to draw a conceptual distinction between biological sex and its sociocultural manifestations (the “hardware” and “software” of sexual dimorphism in humans), there is merit to the argument that, ultimately, there is no such thing as gender, only sex and stereotypes: if we remove biology from the equation, all we are left with are stereotypes of masculinity and femininity.

    Transgenderism provides a case in point. While many transgender people undergo surgery and hormonal treatment in order to transition from male to female or vice versa (notwithstanding that sex is genetically determined), they almost invariably adopt the trappings stereotypically associated with their desired sex to outwardly reflect their gender identity, thus conforming to the norms and expectations of society.

    This process does not require an elaborate theory of gender, especially not one steeped in ideology. In fact, the transgender phenomenon makes a great deal more sense without the esoteric claims and contested theories of those who portray the most basic categories within our species as mere sociocultural constructions. To quote the influential gender theorist Judith Butler, “perhaps this construct called ‘sex’ is as culturally constructed as gender.”

    In many progressive circles today, it is almost considered a moral duty to deny that the categories of “man” and “woman” refer to biological realities and map onto the different reproductive roles of males and females. This is reflected in newspeak such as “birthing parent” (instead of mother), “people with uteruses” (because not everyone who has a uterus identifies as a woman), or “female assigned at birth.” Such terminology serves to conceal rather than describe reality. Underlying it is an ideology which—based on a conception of gender that is itself ideological—insists on the primacy of gender identity over biological sex.

    Today, there is immense pressure to comply with this ideology. We are, for example, expected to accept that “trans women are women” (based on the circular definition that a woman is a person who identifies as a woman). Gender critical feminists are routinely smeared as “TERFs” (trans-exclusionary radical feminists), and lesbians who express a sexual preference for biological women over men who merely identify as women are frequently accused of transphobia. Women-only spaces are likewise expected to admit biological males who self-identify as women.

    Another sign of the pervasiveness of this ideology is that the term “cisgender,” which describes people whose gender identity matches their biological sex, is widely used and accepted today, while the word “normal” is viewed as problematic. Underlying this trend is a conflation of two distinct concepts: normality and normativity. Being “cis” (and heterosexual) is normal; the vast majority of people are. This does not imply, however, that deviation from that norm is, or should be, suppressed.

    Yet, gender scholars and activists routinely describe contemporary Western culture as “cis-heteronormative.” A 2021 article entitled “Preventing Violence toward Sexual and Cultural Diversity: The Role of a Queering Sex Education,” published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, offers the following definition:

    Cis-heteronormativity refers to social norms and discourses on the construction of gender identity and sexual orientation that highlight the natural character of sexual binarism (man/woman) as being congruent with gender binarism (masculine/feminine, respectively) … and leading to gender identities that are binary, opposed, hierarchical and complementary and therefore necessarily heterosexual.

    This hypothesis can, of course, easily be tested. All we need to do is observe other cultures and other sexually reproducing species. What we find is that both heterosexuality and sexual binarism are the norm and occur naturally.

    Gender ideologues all but ignore this reality. For many, to assert that the differences between men and women have natural and biological foundations constitutes a form of bigotry known as “biologism.” There is a difference, however, between justifying social norms and hierarchies in terms of biological determinism and acknowledging that we are biological creatures, shaped by the same evolutionary processes as the rest of the natural world. Gender has been used as a means to obscure this important distinction, further complicating the relationship between the sexes, while demanding that ideological assumptions be accepted as fact.

    Gender ideology is commonly associated with the political left, but there is a right-wing version too. Relying heavily on cultural norms and stereotypes, gender traditionalism is not the opposite but the mirror image of the view—held by many progressives for whom gender is a spectrum rather than a binary—that people who are not stereotypically male or female fall outside of these categories. Many of those concerned about the “femininization” of Western men reliably react with outrage whenever a male individual visibly challenges traditional norms of masculinity, for instance when singer Harry Styles posed in a dress for Vogue Magazine. But, if maleness is indeed innate and immutable, such outrage makes no sense.

    This is not to dispute that social conditioning plays a role in the formation of male and female identities. To conclude, however, that these identities can be divorced from human biology is logically unsound. Yet, this is precisely the conclusion gender theorists and activists tend to draw. What varies is the extent to which they disassociate gender from biological sex: the greater the disassociation, the more nebulous their concept of gender. The fact that “sex” and “gender”are used almost interchangeably in everyday discourse, blurring the semantic distinction between the two terms, adds to the confusion.

    So, is gender obsolete? While it makes sense to differentiate between biological sex and its sociocultural manifestations, gender, as a concept, has become so semantically elastic and at the same time so fraught with ideology as to be useless. It seems its main purpose today is as a means of spreading unsubstantiated social theories. The best way to resist this trend is by demanding evidence, pointing out flawed logic, and refusing to speak the language of gender ideology.


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    Words not Deeds

    I think it’s safe to assume, second only to the United States, Britain has the largest ‘free speech network’ in the Anglosphere. Comprised of any array of pressure groups, organisations, commentators, broadcasters, forums, publications, and self-appointed champions and activists.

    Despite this well-funded and high-profile network of talking-heads, very few have spoken out in defence of Sam Melia, Yorkshire organiser for Patriotic Alternative, an organisation described by The Times as “Britain’s largest far-right white supremacist movement”. Gee, I wonder why?

    Of course, there have been a few condemnations of this ruling, although they have been written on the assumption that Melia’s points are just mindless bigotry, and that such vulgarity would be better combatted in an open forum. It’s assumed that even the general thrust of Melia’s angst isn’t up for serious discussion, or vaguely reflected by large sections of the public. In other words, it is (somehow) not legitimately political, even if one believes it to be wrong, for whatever reason.

    For context, last month, Leeds Crown Court returned a unanimous verdict after less than a day of deliberating after an eight-day trial. Sentencing has been adjourned whilst a pre-sentence report is being prepared and Melia been granted bail until he appears in court again on March 1st.

    In April 2021, police uncovered a catalogue of downloadable stickers which were being distributed a group known as the Hundred Handers, an anonymous group of anti-immigration activists led by Melia, responsible for series of so-called “stickering incidents” between 2019 and 2021.

    The court concluded that the stickers were “intended to stir up racial hatred” and “intentionally encouraging or assisting racially aggravated criminal damage”, further declaring that the stickering had “caused fear or alarm” – a delightfully vague and flexible justification.

    Moreover, the argument that knowingly supplying material with the mere potentiality of being used in one of a multitude of ways constitutes “criminal damage” isn’t just contrived, it necessarily extends beyond fascist activism, applying to every political cause under the sun.

    So, what did these stickers say? What made them so egregious that it was worth the court’s time? Well, one of them read “Labour loves Muslim rape gangs” – a slightly misleading statement, given that the Tories are a soft-touch too.

    Don’t just take my word for it. Following the acid attack by Abdul Ezedi, a known sex offender who was granted asylum on his third attempt after claiming he had converted to Christianity, Gillian Keegan, Education secretary and Conservative MP said:

    “This is not really about asylum, this is about the attack on a mother and her children, which was horrific.”

    Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Labour MP for Streatham, the constituency where the attack took place, echoed Keegan’s comments on Ezedi’s asylum status and the all-encompassing ‘importance’ of microaggressions stating:

    “His [Ezedi] asylum status is not really the issue of concern.”

    Indeed, the attack was horrific, but it’s abundantly clear that asylum is absolutely part of the equation, much more so than gender. Out of the 710 acid attacks in Britain last year, 339 of the victims were women whilst 317 were men. Erstwhile, had the Home Office not permitted Ezedi to enter the country, and for quite intuitive and grounded reasons, the attack simply would not have occurred.

    Unlike Melia, an unremarkable member of the public based in Leeds, one of the UK’s largest cities, who was found and arrested near-instantaneously, Ezedi, a man with a half-melted face in London, one of the most surveilled city on the planet, has evaded arrest for an entire week.

    Britain’s police are so befuddled at the whereabouts of that they’ve taken to handing out cash prizes to violent criminals and grovelling on live TV, asking Ezedi to turn himself over.

    Much has been said about the police’s waning capability and/or interest in dealing with serious crime, notwithstanding the many coppers who I’m sure are frustrated by the incompetence of their managers, but very little has been said about the force’s bizarre theory of mind.

    How is it possible that an institution which has “modernised” so much over recent decades, jampacking its personnel with psychiatrists, criminologists, therapists, and charity workers, simply not understand how criminals think? Either they’re bad at their job or they’re theories are bunk. I’m inclined to think it’s both, skewing towards the latter.

    Another of Melia’s stickers read “We will be a minority in our homeland by 2066” – “we” referring to White British people, “2066” referring to the date calculated from research conducted by demographer David Coleman, then-Professor at Oxford University, into Britain’s changing demographics back in 2013.

    Again, what exactly is the cause for concern here? Merely 10 years ago, Coleman’s findings were getting write-ups and openly discussed in ‘respectable’ centre-left outlets, such as Prospect Magazine, The Guardian, and The Independent. Throw in the BBC if you feel so inclined.

    This information, conducted by a highly respected demographer, out-dated though it might be, especially given the recent spike in immigration and the ensuing population growth, hasn’t been treated as a fringe, esoteric, and/or conspiratorial for the vast majority of the time it has been public.

    Yes, freedom of speech should apply to all; that includes alleged and actual fascists, Nazis, communists, socialists, anarchists, supremacists of all creeds and colours, and even Piers Morgan. If our political class were to ever come around to this, they’d understand the efforts of the state are best directed at dealing with peole like Ezedi, rather than people like Melia.

    After all, if it has become the official view of the state that one can only express approval for such findings – that or nothing at all – then this absolutely should concern civil libertarians, whatever their political colours, regardless of what The Times says about the ‘offending’ individual and/or organisation in question.

    Other stickers distributed by Melia and the Hundred Handers said: “Mass immigration is white genocide” and “Second-generation? Third? Fourth? You have to go back”.

    This is where things get a little more controversial, although it stands to reason that freedom of speech isn’t valued (r feared) for its capacity to regurgitate uncontroversial points of view. When people marched through the middle of London, opposing what they perceived as a genocide by the Israelis against the Palestinians, were there protests en-masse? Were there legal repercussions for chanting ethnonationalist slogans of a foreign nation, such as From the River to the Sea? Not really, quite the opposite.

    Simply put, it cannot be right that one group seeking collective preservation is given the freedom to do so, with near absolute freedom in their methods, turning out in their hundreds of thousands, whilst another group seeking collective preservation, with very few members in their movement and no electoral representation or visible popular support, is denied basic freedom.

    This is not to say the protests weren’t problematic in other ways. Indeed, the problem with said protests was less to do with their opposition to the Israeli government and more due to the nature of allegiance revealed by the bulk of attendees, especially the organisers (Hiz but-Tahrir, an international pan-Islamist organisation, view their constituency in global, post-national terms) and the overlapping demographic implications for the broader body politic (it stands to reason that using one nation as a conduit for another nation’s interests is far from democratic).

    My view is elucidated rather well by Ronald Reagan, then-President of the Screen Actors Guild, testifying as a friendly witness before the House Un-American Activities Committee in October 1947:

    “As a citizen, I would hesitate to see any political party outlawed on the basis of its political ideology. We have spent 170 years in this country on the basis that democracy is strong enough to stand up and fight against the inroads of any ideology. However, if it is proven that an organisation is an agent of a foreign power, or in any way not a legitimate political party – and I think the Government is capable of proving that – then that is another matter.”

    Understandably, there are qualms as to whether either camp’s claim to genocide is technically accurate, although both would claim ongoing circumstances function in much the same way. This can be discussed in a frank and open matter without the throwing people in the slammer.

    As for the deportation stickers, once one accepts the likes of Melia on their own aforementioned terms – or, at the very least, is aware of the social implications of demographic change (i.e. social unrest) – one realises that a serious point is trying to be made, even if with an obvious hint of provocation.

    Right now, the police are suggesting Ezedi is being helped by those in his community. More than the unsubtitled announcement of this revelation, sidelining the otherwise English-speaking population from their own domestic affairs, this shows a severe, multi-generational, and absolute lack of assimilation. You can moralise about the efficacy of deportations all you want, but we needn’t pretend that growing foreign contingencies inside our borders hasn’t created major problems.

    In addition to naughty stickers, police also found a poster of Adolf Hitler on his wall and a book by Oswald Mosley at Melia’s home. For some reason, this is important. I’ve got books by and about Vladimir Lenin, Antonio Gramsci, Joseph Stalin, Chantal Mouffe, Karl Marx, Alain Badiou, and Giorgio Agamben and I’m not a radical leftist, or any kind of leftist for that matter.

    Of course, given the stickers and his choice of paraphernalia, we can safely assume Melia is pretty right-wing.  Then again, why should that matter? It is more than possible to have extreme views without being a threat to civilised society, just as one can hold moderate views to such a fanatic and unwavering extent that deviations from the illustrious ‘centre’.

    In the case of the latter, the persecution of such people is seen as a necessary precaution to protect their modus operandi – typically, “liberal values” or “liberal democracy” – much in the same way many ‘extremists’ view persecution of dissidents as a necessary precaution for protecting their own modus operandi: the revolution, the state, the proletariat, the volk, and so on.

    Indeed, views in and of themselves are basically harmless, although much of our political system evidently disagrees. In a similar vein to Keegan and Ribeiro-Addy, Conservative MP and Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee (yes, really) Caroline Noakes’ reaction to the Ezedi case centred around microaggressions – that is, words and mannerism whichcould hypothetically be interpreted as or lead to actions which are harmful:

    “I think there’s a really important message here which is, with respect, the media are not interested in microaggressions, they want to hear about the most egregious offences.

    “The stark reality is every day women will face misogyny and microaggressions. If you’re a woman of colour it will be worse, and we have to be better at understanding the culture that makes men think ‘that’s ok’. It’s not OK and you can see a pattern of behaviours that lead to really horrific crimes.”

    The inverse and counter-intuitive approach our politicians and judicial system take towards words and actions is so confounding it form the basis of a derivative dystopia novel. Alas, it is the quite logical conclusion of our liberal-democratic political system, in which swathes of policy are depoliticised by filtering them the language of rights.

    In Metapolitics, Badiou describes the role of political philosophy in reducing politics from a process of transformation defined by enmity to a passive exchange (a battle, some might say) of ideas:

    “The central operation of political philosophy thus conceived is… first and foremost, to restore politics, not to the subjective reality of organized and militant processes… but to the exercise of ‘free judgement in a public space where, ultimately, only opinions count.”

    This is certainly true, although it is quite clear that politics has deteriorated past this point, for the articulation of political philosophy itself is being drastically restricted. One is increasingly unpermitted to say or believe things happen or should happen for any other reason the one established by those in positions of officialdom.

    Not only has the uniparty agreed that nothing can really be done about people like Ezedi coming into the country, absconding the idea something can be done to prevent people of his ilk from entering the country, they decreed the cause as if it were not up for debate: Andrew Tate saying women can’t drive is the problem, not the Human Right Act (1998).

    Of course, Ezedi’s ability to game the asylum system via by the Human Rights Act (1998) was contingent on his claim of religious conversion, and the prospect of persecution should he return to Afghanistan, despite the fact he intended to return anyway.

    Contrary to initial claims, Ezedi’s baptism was conducted by a Baptist priest. Sure, progressive Anglican priests have played an enabling role in other cases of a similar nature, such as the Liverpool Women’s Hospital bombing, and comprise an annoying large section of the CofE’s internal structure, but let’s try and get our Protestant denominations right before we point the finger. The willingness of many on the right to attack the CofE, just to swipe at the easily and rightfully detested Welby, was generally quite pathetic, especially considering ultimate responsibility lies with the Home Office.

    In a time of liberal-left ideological hegemony, swelling with liberal universalism and race communism, you must ask yourself: do you have the populist gusto to berate the small handful of octogenarians who continue to read the Book of Common Prayer? Do you have the dissident bravery to attack what little semblance remains of Britain’s established Christian identity?

    Indeed, basically every other religious organisation in Britain is ‘complicit’ in charitable efforts designed to help refuges and converts into the country, real or not, with the bulk of anti-deportation charities and activists having no religious motivation and affiliation at all. The Board of Deputies of Jews has continuously opposed efforts to make asylum laws more strict, whilst the Muslim Council of Britain advertises relief and aid advice no different to that contained in the CofE document making the rounds.

    To any fair-minded opponent of liberal immigration policy, this should constitute an outrage. Alas, as Britain’s left-right becomes a proxy for the mutual animosity between Muslims and Jews, revitalised by the Israel-Palestine conflict, treating the established church as a conniving force is sure to become a new feature of our national common ground.

    According to an eruditely conservative Anglican friend, the clergy doesn’t spend much time catechising with little-to-no effort being invested into understanding the catechumen before their baptism. In a similar fashion to the Home Office’s treatment of asylum applications, everything is done at a recklessly fast pace, with some newcomers being confirmed into the Church a couple of months after their supposed conversion.

    Compared with more conservative parishes, in which the clergy spend well-over half-a-year getting to know their converts, it’s clear that one of the major problems facing the Church, moreso than accusations of whimsy naivete or malicious treason, and accompanying the already well-documented tendency of progressive Christians to reduce their theology to a grand metaphor, is the lack of zeal amongst much of its clergy. An unfashionable but necessary disposition, the pedantic conservatism of the Church has been sidelined in the pursuit of goal completely antithetical to the spirit of the Church itself: reflecting the society it wishes to elevate.

    Unlike the aforementioned individuals and organisations in this article, who are guilty of prioritising words over deeds, the current Church’s fixation on deeds very much detracts from the words on which such endeavours are meant to be considered, shaped, and executed.

    This hegemonic emphasis in the Church on being a do-gooder, on doing charity for the sake of charity, showing little-to-no consideration for textual analysis or well-rounded practical considerations, lest one wishes their faith to be pigeonholed as mere eccentricity or stuffy reactionaryism, runs deep into the “Quakerification” of the Church of England and post-war Britain generally. The extent to which Quakers are so charity-oriented is reflected by their small handful of members, the most “pious” of whom are on the fence as to whether they even believe in the essentials of Christianity or not.

    This is an unsurprising development when one considers the Quaker roots of the organisations integral to the maintenance of the status quo, forces to which the progressive elements of the Church have allied themselves: Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Barrow Cadbury Trust, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, The Lloyd’s Foundation, The Barclay Foundation, and so on. The next time some midwit reformer wonk tells you religion doesn’t matter in the nitty-gritty of policy – least of all, in a post-religious Britain – hit them with “Blairism is secularised Quakerism” and watch them self-combust.

    An avowed atheist, Clement Attlee, central architect of Britain’s post-war consensus, said of Christianity:

    “I’m one of those people who are incapable of religious feeling… Believe in the ethics of Christianity. Can’t believe in the mumbo jumbo.

    Eventually, Attlee’s sentimentally Christian, but ultimately Atheistic, path to a “New Jerusalem” would be supplanted by Thatcher’s scrupulous and austere Methodism. Contrary to characterisations made by detractors and supporters, insisting Margaret’s Method was rooted in relishing the vulgarity and excess of yuppies, it was explicitly founded on the individualistic Pauline doctrine of the New Testament.

    It would take Blair’s Quaker-ishness to bring the role of religion back into public life. John MacMurray, Tony Blair’s favourite philosopher (as described by Blair himself) became a Quaker near the end of his life, the culmination of his quasi-personalist philosophy, developed on the cusp of (although absolutely not opposed to) the development of modern liberalism. Thereafter, religion’s only permissible utility was its ability to make people feel less lonely in an atomised world, steering clear of anything beyond a shallow, practically non-existent, ultimately contemptuous consideration for scripture, symbol, or sacrament.

    Should it be any surprise that the Blairite state allows pseudo-Christians into our country so easily?

    Sure, a more critical approach to matters of faith would greatly benefit us in keeping foreign-born sex-offenders out of the country, but this runs against the current of a political obsession with words, not deeds. Nevertheless, if our system placed greater emphasis on Ezedi’s past deeds when processing his claim to asylum, and a little less on words slapped on a few dozen stickers, we’d be simultaneously safer and freer as a result.


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    Another Organization? Splendid!

    Popular Conservatism (PopCon) has just launched and it’s about as popular as booting a crippled dog into oncoming traffic. Spearheaded by Liz Truss, the shortest serving Prime Minister in British political history and the most unpopular Conservative politician in the country, the organization is begging to be ridiculed by the media and the public.

    However, whilst Truss is the face of the group, the organization is directed by Mark Littlewood, former director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a pro-immigration think-tank. Like Truss, Littlewood is a former Liberal Democrat, serving as director for Liberal Vision, a group of economic liberals within the party. Unlike Truss, he’s a former of the Pro-Euro Conservative Party (PECP), a minor offshoot of the Tories which campaigned for Britain to adopt the Euro and oust then-leader William Hague in favour of arch-Europhile Kenneth Clarke. After the dissolution of the PECP, Littlewood became an advisor to the Conservative Party under the leadership of David Cameron.

    Earlier in life, Littlewood worked for the European Movement, an all-party group campaigning for British membership of a federalised Europe; Liberty, the human rights advocacy group which spearheaded campaigns to implement and maintain the Human Rights Act; and NO2ID, a group which campaigns against the introduction of ID cards.

    So, what does Popular Conservatism stand for? Apparently, its aims are: “inform and educate candidates and MPs about the need to reform Britain’s bureaucratic structures” and “advance these policies across the country, whilst demonstrating their popularity.”

    According to Littlewood, PopCon is about: “Giving ordinary people, taxpayers and voters, their freedom back. That was what Brexit was supposed to be about: taking back control.”

    Taking Back Control? Why would Littlewood care about Taking Back Control? Littlewood changed his view on EU integration at the time of the referendum, writing in a personal statement:

    “Twenty years ago, I was a passionate and enthusiastic supporter of European integration. I was President of the UK branch of the Young European Federalists in 1996 and my first job was working for the European Movement. I was enthusiastic about the UK joining the single currency and I even supported the Pro-Euro Conservative Party, a breakaway from the Conservatives on the issue of Britain’s relationship with the EU.

    “Since then, and bit by bit, my thinking has evolved and the European Union, in my judgment, has increasingly become a force for heavy handed and petty regulation rather than for free market liberalism. The EU is no longer the deregulatory single-market it once aspired to be. Instead, it has become a monolithic and increasingly interventionist bureaucratic super-state. After considerable thought – and with a heavy heart – I have reached the conclusion that Britain would be best advised to leave the EU and I will be voting accordingly on 23rd June.

    “I believe there are risks and uncertainties involved in going for Brexit, but these are – on balance -risks worth taking. There is no guarantee that Britain will become a more outward-looking, globally free trading, open and free society outside of the EU. But there is, in my view, a pretty good chance of it.

    In summary, Littlewood’s euroscepticism (and by extension, the bent of PopCon’s brand of politics) is rooted in the belief the EU (much like the UK, presuambly) has become too protectionist, too nationalist, too conservative and too isolationist, hindering Britain’s ability to push ahead with economic and cultural globalisation. In the government’s own words:

    “Global Britain is about reinvesting in our relationships, championing the rules-based international order and demonstrating that the UK is open, outward-looking and confident on the world stage.”

    This aspiration, typically referred to as “Global Britain”, is uncommon amongst Brexiteers generally, but quite popular with a narrow clique of largely London-centric free-marketeers, comprised largely of Tory staffers, centre-right policy wonks, disgruntled civil servants, conservative commentators, and Thatcherite MPs. GBNews’ Tom Harwood, former Chair of Students for Britain, summarises the disposition of this demographic briefly but well: “open globalism, not narrow regionalism”. That’s right, we’re the real cosmopolitan internationalists, the left are the real provincialists!

    As many will remember, “Global Britain” was announced as the official post-Brexit endeavour of the Conservative governments of Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, albeit the first and second were over-encumbered by the withdrawal process and Covid to implement many of their desired reforms – besides, of course, importing an unprecedented number of immigrants. Consequently, whilst Boris was intended as the figurehead for Global Britain, the role ultimately fell to Liz “Boris 2.0” Truss.

    For clarity, there is nothing particularly radical about “Global Britain”. It has always been the Menshevik position within the Brexit coalition. Throughout the referendum it was occasionally used as a polemical tactic (i.e. Let’s Go WTO), but nothing more. Contrasted to the Bolshevik aspiration of turning Britain into an island fortress, derided by Britpoppers as “Little England”, the Menshevik aspiration is to turn Britain into a mass financial district, in which vampiric multinationals terrorise Middle England from above and an imported underclass of cheap labour, violent criminals, and ethnic displacement terrorises it from below.

    Of course, it’s colossally terrible but it’s not too dissimilar to the relatively liberal arrangement we had before Brexit and certainly no different to the arrangement we have now. Alas, this doesn’t stop PopCons from complaining the system is stacked against efforts at economic liberalisation. Yes, the planning system is needlessly complicated, but there’s no need for hyperbole; weaning people off microplastics and ultra-processed food isn’t Soviet.

    Essentially, both Global Britain and PopCon are tendencies born out of the ideas contained in Britannia Unchained, a book which seeks to answer the question on everyone’s mind: “How can we get white British people to work more for less and demographically replace them in the process?”. Making immigration uncontroversial by making it productive, saying NO to identity politics, saying NO to the Nanny State, Getting On Your Bike, STEM, India Superpower 2020, Peace… through Commerce. Real Tory Boy stuff.

    This leads into another problem with PopCon. It isn’t just its initial unpopularity, it has no idea how to be popular, despite the fact the answers have been in plain sight for years. Boris Johnson’s popularity peaked when he promised to end immigration and shouted “Fuck Business” to a Belgian diplomat. Theresa May, a completely unknown and irrelevant politician, reached unprecedented levels of popularity after the referendum when she was attacking “citizens of nowhere” to such an extent she was being compared to Adolf Hitler. David Cameron reached the height of his popularity when he was promising to reduce immigration and hold a referendum on the EU, threatening to leave the ECHR, and declaring state multiculturalism to be a failure.

    Compare this with Liz Truss. In her historically brief tenure, she tried to pursue free movement and trade with India and borrow billions to fund tax cuts for the rich. Suella Braverman, for all her many faults, understood during her leadership bid that leaving the ECHR and stopping illegal immigration are popular with the public, especially with voters in the Red Wall – policies which PopCon lightly sprinkled into their otherwise bland, derivative, and highly ironic attempt at wrapping Orange Book Liberalism in a flag.

    Flip-flopping seemed to be an integral theme of the PopCon event. As established, Littlewood and Truss are former Lib Dems, but Anderson is former Labour, Farage was pivoting back and forth between endorsement and dismissal throughout the whole thing, and Holly Valance gave an unrelentingly generic interview stating life is about being left-wing, making money, and then moving rightwards.

    This obsession with switching is bizarre, but it’s the recurring tendency one should expect from an organization which simultaneously fights for the so-called “rules-based international order” and complains about an arbitrary global humanitarian class undermining national democracy; fronted by a former Prime Minister and her group of orbiters who’ve done nothing in their 14 years of government to address any of the problems their organization hopes to “inform and educate” us about.

    PopCon doesn’t seem to understand that some of us have been aware of the Great Replacement, Cultural Marxism and The Blob since secondary school. We don’t need to be told that some people think there are more than two genders or that state-funded charities and quangos are jampacked with people who hate our country; we don’t need to be told liberal-left ideas and values are hegemonic, or that illegal immigrants take advantage of the welfare system. We are children of the revolution, for Christ’s sake!

    All the way down, PopCon is a group for people to scratch their heads at problems they have helped to create, assuming nobody else has identified them before, and offer milquetoast solutions with the galling expectation of jubilant applause.

    It is slightly comical. 2030 will arrive and Liz Truss will be explaining the drawbacks of the sexual revolution and quoting G.K Chesterton. Erstwhile, MechaBlair will be conscripting masses of young White British men to fight Populism in Ukraine and organizing taxpayer-subsidised migrant mega-orgies in The North. Indeed, trying to make political progress with the present batch of Conservative MPs is like trying to scale Mount Everest with Stephen Hawking; it’s really quite demoralising.

    Whilst Donald Trump is saying immigrants “poison the blood” of America, whilst Germany’s AFD is advocating mass remigration, whilst France’s Eric Zemmour is openly discussing demographic displacement, the British right is forced to contend with another attempt to rehabilitate Thatcherism, another attempt to undercut the emergent nationalist, protectionist, and socially conservative elements of the right which have been trying to take root in established positions since the referendum; another perversion of the anti-immigration spirit of Take Back Control (TBC), framed in terms of mere economic and legal technicality, adorning it with another SW1-friendly signifier to go with the rest: TBC as a vote for liberalism, as a call for localist devolution, as a general dislike of politicians, as a mere symptom of economic turbulence, as a nationwide Freudian psychodrama.

    Despite all of this, despite my complete contempt for PopCon, I’m glad it exists. In all sincerity and without a hint of contrarianism. PopCon is bad because it’s Tory-branded Globalism run by Thatcherite Zombies without a hint of self-awareness, creativity, or charisma, not because it’s “another organization” – a complaint I’m absolutely sick of hearing from supposedly disaffected voices.

    At present, Britain doesn’t have a political culture, but it wasn’t always this way. Indeed, some people (mainly our anti-political overlords and pseudo-Anglos within and adjacent to our circles) have espoused the notion that political organization is somehow terribly un-English. However, a brief glance at history tells us that beneath gentle-mannered disposition (some might say caricature) of the native population, political organization, rowdiness, and militancy – even outright violence – have existed for several hundred years in this country, boiling beneath the surface of even standard parliamentary exchanges.

    The snobbish anti-partisanship of those who are disgruntled by the lack of action but see themselves above political organization are an abject cancer. Everyone has remarked that MPs enter Parliament to immediately do something else, whether it’s charity work or presenting a TV show, but few have surmised what this means. It shows that power is contingent on the wider superstructure of society; the Overton Window must be adapted so political objectives can fully actualise themselves and legislated into reality, something the enemies of Britain have done and are currently doing very well.

    As such, we don’t need less organization or less division, we need more. More organization, more division, more militancy, more enmity, more ideology, more partisanship, more coups, more activism, more conflict, more metapolitics of every form and variety. Let the Darwinian selection processes of the political run wild; radicalise democracy against every rendition of liberalism and rejoice as it stampedes over the latter’s mangled corpse. No, PopCon doesn’t deserve to fail… it deserves to be killed.


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    Why we need a Hitchens-Navalny strategy for GE 2024

    A few days before the 2010 general election, Peter Hitchens wrote an article in the Daily Mail titled ‘This is the most important article I’ve ever written – and loyal Conservative voters will hate me for it’.

    In it he argued that, despite being counterintuitive, voters must eschew the Tories if there was to be any chance of implementing a genuine, conservative agenda for Britain.

    Much of its analysis of Britain’s woes are completely applicable today. He ends it by writing: ‘Five years’ from now we could throw the liberal elite into the sea, if we tried. But the first stage in that rebellion must be the failure of David Cameron to rescue the wretched anti-British Blair project and wrap it in a blue dress’.

    Fourteen years later, not only is the anti-British Blair project wrapped in a blue dress still ruling the country, but David Cameron is again one of its leading figures, rubbing more shoulders at Davos and advocating military actions more brutal and destabilising than even Blair could dream of.

    In 2019, Brexit allowed the Conservatives to completely refresh their image and successfully brand themselves as a populist national-conservative party. I myself, for the first (and last) time, voted for them in that election. For this I am ashamed.

    What has transpired since is that, what we once identified as Blairism, is in fact part of a wider and even more sinister agenda. If what Hitchens realistically desired was an internal struggle within the Conservatives after a 2010 loss, what we can achieve today is that party’s shattering into a million tiny pieces.

    ‘But Labour will be even worse’, you will undoubtedly hear the Tory Boys cry. If this was convincing and arguable back in 2010, today it is wrong on its face.

    If grassroots supporters and ordinary voters could hear how Tory journalists, politicians and advisors speak amongst themselves, they would be taken aback over how deeply their views are reviled and how deep the liberal rot is.

    It is a party run almost entirely by childless, rootless metropolitans, whose view of conservatism is a Randian wet dream of identikit glass skyscrapers and GDPmaxxing.

    When it comes to social values, foreign policy, education, health and every other significant policy area, there is no difference between them and the people who run Labour.

    In fact, I would go as far to say that Labour is actually run by more ‘normal’ people. So why is it so important to destroy the Tories? Because of what comes after.

    Starmer’s Labour is at this stage a well-oiled machine raring to go. Unlike the Tories, it does not pretend to be something it is not. It is an out-and-proud party of the Davos agenda.

    Its current popularity is based on it not being the party to preside over the last decade and a half of chaos and decline.

    If we are going to have a globalist government, let’s have the exhibitionists instead of those in the closet, as this will help the public correctly identify their enemies.

    Right now, there is no appetite on the left to disrupt Labour from its course, but once they are in power it will not take long for the Corbynista wing to start making movements.

    This could remove from Labour the contingent that actually can make some common cause with the dissident right (Euroscepticism, averseness to dangerous foreign entanglements, distrust of corporate and financial elites, and a belief in the nationalisation of strategic industries come to mind).

    More important is what happens to the Conservatives. Hitchens correctly identifies the Westminster consensus as being ‘only propped up by state funding and dodgy millionaires’.

    The funding is allocated based on the number of seats a party holds, and the donations on its prospects of power. A Tory wipe-out would kill both birds with one stone.

    If the rump of it is allowed to remain as a significantly large party, it is likely to limp on and even capitalise on its new ability to talk the talk from the opposition benches without having to walk at all.

    A vacuum, which we know nature abhors, must be created in its place.

    Current polling shows that support for Reform UK could cost the Tories many seats in favour of Labour, despite Reform not winning any themselves.

    Reform platform is a damn sight better than anything else out there, but Richard Tice’s neocon Tory-lite outfit will not bring about the reform we actually need. It could, however, be the catalyst for it.

    Destroying the Conservative Party once and for all would be a noble and worthwhile aim, and would open the door for major, long-needed shakeup of our politics.

    This is a strong argument that Tice would be well advised to use, but predictably he will say that the Brexit Party stood aside for the Tories in 2019 and they failed on Brexit and immigration, so this time they won’t stand aside.

    He will, equally predictably, be countered with the argument that he will still let Labour in without winning seats himself.

    Openly declaring war on the Tories as a necessary first-step in building a viable and genuine conservative political movement is something that is hard to argue against. Such a battle cry could also attract non-Tory voters.

    The only Reform UK politician I have heard express this intent openly is its Co-Deputy Leader, Ben Habib. So it is not an impossibility that they take this line.

    Habib is the real deal, but would need someone with the profile of Farage to meaningfully spread this message.

    If the straightjacket of the two-party system can be broken, a genuine political realignment can take place, making the ‘Red Wall’ shift pale in comparison.

    You might now be wondering where Alexei Navalny comes into all of this.

    We have all heard of ‘tactical voting’, but have you ever heard of ‘smart voting’?

    Umnoye golosovaniye was a website set up by Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation that had a single goal: letting people know who to vote for to have the best chance of ousting incumbent United Russia politicians.

    Unlike British tactical voting, this was an integrated, mathematical system that had no limits or any other goals, and would advise you to vote for communist, ultranationalist and liberal candidates alike; whoever had the best chance.

    Many in the ‘non-systemic opposition’ said it would be impossible to vote out the ruling regime in any case, and that engaging with it by participating in elections would only legitimise it. Yet Navalny argued convincingly that shouting from the side lines alone ultimately changes nothing.

    For obvious reasons, success of smart voting was limited in the Russian system, but it is a strategy much better suited to our own system of illusory free elections, which are based on brainwashing and narrative control, as opposed to the more primitive techniques used by the Kremlin.

    There, the process of voting itself has to be manipulated to maintain the status quo, with there being a limit to the amount achieved by propaganda alone.

    Here in the UK, propaganda is the overriding method of keeping out the non-systemic opposition.

    What this means is that our actual electoral system is, compared to the American one at least, largely free from rigging and ballot manipulation.

    This provides opportunity to collapse, or at least fracture, what is an all-encompassing regime by using its own structures against it.

    The Conservative Party is the weak link in the chain – and it can be broken.

    The success of a British smart voting system would depend on how convincingly the argument is made.

    If it is made well enough, we could indeed throw the liberal elite into the sea five years from now.


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    On Freedom of Navigation

    Amidst the present difficulties in transmitting knowledge from one generation of educated people to the next, one principle that seems to have been mislaid is freedom of navigation. This has been laid bare by commentary on the recent Anglo-American operations in the Red Sea against the Houthis. Hence, it is worth offering a short explanation of freedom of navigation: what it is, its history prior to its modern codified universalisation and its defences up to the present.

    Before its codification by the United Nations, freedom of navigation was part of customary international law, by its nature quite distinct from how modern international law is established and enforced. It originated in the Dutch Republic’s rule of mare liberum (free seas), coined by influential Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius in 1609, which considered neutral ships and their goods inviolable on the high seas. Naturally, this could benefit trading powers like the Dutch, but came into competition with competing Consolato customs. These were named after the Aragonese Consulate of the Sea, both a body to administer maritime law and a collection of maritime ordinances codified since at least 1494. These rules determined neutral ships could be attacked in times of war to seize enemy goods, but even on enemy ships neutral goods could not be taken. By the seventeenth century, Consolato was often paired with the concept of mare clausum (closed sea), coined in 1635 by English jurist John Selden, which held that areas of the sea could be entirely closed off from foreign shipping. Both principles were supported by the major naval powers of the day, including England, France and Spain.

    As was the case with a number of pivotal concepts in European history, mare liberum was often fought for over the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, first by the Dutch alone but later by the nascent American Republic and the Russian Empire as a right of neutral states. The cause of freedom of navigation was greatly assisted during this period by the Dutch victory in the Eighty Years’ War against Spain, as well as the later decline of Spain and Portugal as dominant powers who had attempted to apply mare clausum to the New World’s seas. Another conceptual innovation emerged to resolve some discrepancies between the rival customs in 1702, as Dutch jurist Cornelius van Bynkershoek formulated that maritime dominion corresponded with the distance coastal cannons could effectively protect it; the range of the most advanced cannon at the time was three nautical miles. Beyond the Dutch, naval powers still employed the Consolato principle into the nineteenth century against other countries, especially during major conflicts, but this could be superseded in treaties by freedom of navigation. Ultimately, this became the case for all European powers at the end of the Crimean War in the 1856 Declaration of Paris Respecting Maritime Law, which synthesised the two customs into a rule that enemy goods were covered by a neutral flag whilst neutral goods could not be seized on enemy ships. Arguably, this built upon the Congress of Vienna’s grant of freedom of navigation to key European rivers, which constituted multiple states’ new borders and economic arteries, at the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. The exceptions to the rule outlined by the 1856 declaration were effective blockade and contraband, whereas privateering (in other words, state-sanctioned piracy) was confirmed to be abolished. As Europe proceeded to dominate the world in the nineteenth century, so too did the inviolability of neutral commercial shipping and their freedom to navigate the seas as their juridically innocent business permitted.

    Of course, the growth of freedom of navigation did not result in the disappearance of piracy, nor pirate states. For instance, the United States, Sweden and Sicily fought wars against the Barbary corsairs in the early nineteenth century to ensure the freedom of their merchant ships from ransom and enslavement in the Mediterranean, despite only Sicily possessing an obvious interest in the region. In recent weeks, the Houthis have proven themselves to be another such pirate state through their rather indiscriminate attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea. In response, Britain and America (with support from several other countries) have attempted to neutralise this threat to freedom of navigation under Operation Prosperity Guardian. In theory, this should be the least controversial Middle Eastern intervention conducted during this century thus far, since the Houthis are plainly violating the neutrality of benign ships under neutral flags. At the time of writing, there is no hint from the intervening powers of the neoconservative adventurism which defined the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, nor strong intentions to impose changes on Houthi internal affairs beyond the immediate issue at hand. In practice, the war in Israel has entirely toxified any discourse surrounding events in the Red Sea. Instead of realism, one witnesses what is allegedly another instalment of the clash of civilisations. Whatever the merits of Samuel Huntington’s thesis of contemporary world affairs, such hyperbolic reactions to events in the Red Sea overestimate their significance.

    If America did not exist, it would be in India or China’s interest to assert freedom of navigation in the region due to its foundational importance to the global economy. Readers should bear in mind that the principle has only a tangential relationship to a nation’s trade policy. Although freedom of navigation is a precondition of free trade, it does not determine the extent to which a ship’s goods are impeded from accessing markets at port, only that the international movement of goods can occur without undue harassment. Perhaps a handful of countries at most could be expected to subsist today to a reasonable standard without substantial trade, an interesting notion in itself but beyond the scope of this article. Likewise, most, if not all, nations lack the naval strength to forcibly guarantee the security of their commercial shipping worldwide, given the sheer volume and frequency of post-containerisation international trade. This means freedom of navigation ought not only to be remembered by readers, but as a matter of historical preference and present necessity defended into the future.


    Photo Credit.

    Kino

    The Post-Polar Moment

    Introduction

    Abstract: Nations and intergovernmental organisations must consider the real possibility of moving into a world without a global hegemon. The core assumptions that underpin realist thought can directly be challenged by presenting an alternative approach to non-polarity. This could be through questioning what might occur if nations moved from a world in which polarity remains a major tool for understanding interstate relations and security matters. Further work is necessary to explore the full implications of what entering a non-polar world could mean and possible outcomes for such events.

    Problem statement: What would global security look like without competition between key global players such as the People’s Republic of China and the United States?

    So what?: Nations and intergovernmental organisations should prepare for the real possibility that the international community could be moving into a world without a global hegemon or world order. As such, they should recognise the potential for a rapidly changing geopolitical landscape and are urged to strategically acknowledge the importance of what this would mean. More research is still needed to explore the implications for and of this moving forward.

    Geopolitical Fluidity

    Humankind has moved rapidly from a period of relatively controlled geopolitical dominance towards a more fluid and unpredictable situation. This has posed a question to global leadership: what would it mean to be leaderless, and what role could anarchy play in such matters? Examining the assumptions that make up most of the academic discourse within International Relations and Security Studies remains important in trying to tackle said dilemma.

    From this geopolitical fluidity, the transition from U.S.-led geopolitical dominance, shown in the ‘unipolar moment’, to that of either bipolarity or multipolarity has come about. This re-emergence, however, has not directly focused on an unexplored possibility that could explain the evolving trends that might occur. Humankind is entering a post-polar world out of the emergence of a leaderless world structure. There is the possibility, too, that neither the U.S. nor the the People’s Republic of China become the sole global superpower which then dominates the world and its structures”. The likelihood of this occurring remains relatively high, as explored further on. Put differently, “it is entirely possibly that within the next two decades, international relations could be entering a period of no singular global superpower at all”.

    Humankind is entering a post-polar world out of the emergence of a leaderless world structure.

    The Non-Polar Moment

    The most traditional forms of realism propose three forms of polar systems. These are unipolar, bipolar, or multipolar (The Big Three). There is a strong possibility that we as a global community are transitioning into a fourth and separate world system. This fourth and relatively unexplored world system could mean that anything that enables the opportunity for either a superpower or regional power to establish itself will not be able to occur in the foreseeable future.

    It can also historically be explained by the end of the Cold War and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union, which led to the emergence of the U.S. as the leading superpower within global politics. For lack of better words, it was a generational image of a defining dominant nation within both international relations and security circles. From this, it was widely acknowledged and regarded that Krauthammer coined the’ unipolar moment’ in the aftermath of the Cold War. This meant that there was a period when the U.S. was the sole dominant centre of global power/polarity. This unipolar moment is more accurately considered part of a much larger ‘global power moment’.

    This global power moment is in reference to the time period mentioned above, which entailed the ability for nations to directly and accurately project their power abroad or outside their region. This ability to project power will presumably but steadily decline in the following decades due to the subsequent decrease in the three core vectors of human development (Demography, Technology and Ideology). When combined, one could argue that the three polar systems allowed for the creation of the global power moment itself. Specifically, that would be from the start of the 19th until the end of the 20th century. Following that line of thought, the future was affected by the three aforementioned pillars somewhat like this:

    1. Demography: this means having a strongly structured and or growing population, one that allows a nation to act expansively towards other states and use those human resources to achieve its political goals.
    2. Technology: the rise of scientific innovations, allowing stronger military actions to happen against other nations. To date, it has granted nations the ability to directly project power abroad, which, before this, would have only been able to occur locally or at a regional level.
    3. Ideology: the third core vector of human development. That means the development of philosophies that justify the creation of a distinct mindset or “zeitgeist” that culturally explains a nation’s actions.

    These three core vectors of development are built into a general human trend and assumption of ‘more’, within this great power moment. Existing systems are built into the understanding of more people, more technology development, and more growth, along with possessing generated ideologies that rationalise such actions. What this does, in turn, is help define a linear progression of human history and help develop an understanding of interstate relations.

    Existing systems are built into the understanding of more people, more technology development, and more growth, along with possessing generated ideologies that rationalise such actions.

    Nevertheless, this understanding is currently considered insufficient; the justification for this is based on developing a fourth vector to help comprehend power distribution. This vector is that of non-polarity, meaning a non-power-centred world structure. From this, the idea or concept of non-polarity is not original. Previously, it was deconstructed by Haass, Manning and Stuenkel, and, in their context, refers to a direct absence of global polarity within any of the Big Three polar systems.

    Prior academics have shown that non-polarity is the absence of absolute power being asserted within a place and time but continues to exist within other big three polar systems. The current world diverges from the idea of multipolar in one core way. There are several centres of power, many of which are non-state actors. As a result, power and polarity can be found in many different areas and within many different actors. This argument expands on Strange’s (1996) contributions, who disputed that polarity was transferring from nations to global marketplaces and non-state actors.

    A notable example is non-state players who act against more established powers, these can include terrorist and insurgent groups/organisations. Non-polarity itself being “a world dominated not by one or two or even several states but rather by dozens of actors possessing and exercising various kinds of power”. From this, a more adequate understanding of non-polarity is required. Additionally, it should be argued that non-polarity is rather a direct lack of centres of power that can exist and arise from nations. Because of this, this feature of non-polarity infers the minimisation of a nation’s ability to meaningfully engage in structural competition, which in turn describes a state of post-polarity realism presenting itself.

    Humans are presented with the idea of a ‘non-polar moment’, which comes out of the above-stated direct lack of polarity. The non-polar moment inverts the meaning of the unipolar moment found with the U.S. in the aftermath of the Cold War, which was part of the wider period of Pax Americana (after WWII). This contrasts with the traditional idea: instead of having a singular hegemonic power that dominates power distribution across global politics, there is no direct power source to assert itself within the system. Conceptually, this non-polar moment could be viewed as a system where states are placed into a situation in which they are limited to being able to act outwardly. A reason why they could be limited is the demographic constraints being placed on a nation from being able to strategically influence another nation, alongside maintaining an ideology that allows nations to justify such actions.

    The non-polar moment inverts the meaning of the unipolar moment found with the U.S. in the aftermath of the Cold War, which was part of the wider period of Pax Americana.

    The outcomes of such a world have not been fully studied, with the global community moving from a system to one without any distributors of power or ability to influence other nations. In fact, assuming these structural conditions, -that nations need to acquire hegemony and are themselves perpetually stunted-, the scenario is similar to having a ladder that is missing its first few steps. From this, one can also see this structural condition as the contrast to a ‘rising tide lifts all boats’ situation, with the great power reduction. Because of this, the non-polar moment could symbolise the next, fourth stage for nations to transition to part of a much wider post-polarity form of realism that could develop.

    The implications for this highlight a relevant gap within the current literature, the need to examine both the key structural and unit-level conditions that currently are present. This is what it might mean to be part of a wider ‘a global tribe without a leader’, something which a form of post-polarity realism might suggest.

    A Global Tribe Without a Leader

    To examine the circumstances for which post-polarity realism can occur, one must examine the conditions that define realism itself. Traditionally, for realism, the behaviours of states are as follows:

    1. States act according to their self-interests;
    2. States are rational in nature; and
    3. States pursue power to help ensure their own survival.

    What this shows is that there are several structures from within the Big Three polar systems. Kopalyan argues that the world structure transitions between the different stages. This can be shown by moving between interstate relations as bipolar towards multipolar, done by both nations and governments, which allows nations to re-establish themselves in accordance with their structural conditions within the world system. Kopalyan then continues to identify the absence of a consistent conceptualisation of non-polarity. This absence demonstrates a direct need for clarity and structured responses to the question of non-polarity.

    As such, the transition between systems to non-polarity, to and from post-polarity will probably occur. The reason for this is the general decline in three core vectors of human development, which are part of complex unit-level structural factors occurring within states. The structural factors themselves are not helpful towards creating or maintaining any of the Big Three world systems. Ultimately, what this represents is a general decline in global stability itself which is occurring. An example of this is the reduction of international intergovernmental organisations across the globe and their inability to adequately manage or solve major structural issues like Climate Change, which affects all nations across the international community.

    Firstly, this can be explained demographically because most nations currently live with below-replacement (and sub-replacement) fertility rates. In some cases, they have even entered a state of terminal demographic decline. This is best symbolised in nations like Japan, Russia, and the PRC, which have terminal demographics alongside most of the European continent. The continuation of such outcomes also affects other nations outside of this traditional image, with nations like Thailand and Türkiye suffering similar issues. Contrasted globally, one can compare it to the dramatic inverse fertility rates found within Sub-Saharan Africa.

    Secondly, with technology, one can observe a high level of development which has produced a widespread benefit for nations. Nevertheless, it has also contributed to a decline in the preservation of being able to transition between the Big Three systems. Technological developments have produced obstacles to generating coherence between governments and their citizenry. For example, social media allows for the generation of mass misinformation that can be used to create issues within nations from other countries and non-state actors. Additionally, it has meant that nations are placed permanently into a state of insecurity because of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). The results mean there can never be any true sense or permanence in the idea of security due to the effects of WMDs and their spillover effects. Subsequently, technological development has placed economic hurdles for nations within the current world order through record levels of debt, which has placed further strain on the validity of the current global economic system in being able to maintain itself.

    Technological developments have produced obstacles to generating coherence between governments and their citizenry.

    The final core vector of human development is ideology and its decline. This has been shown with a reduction in the growth of new ideologies and philosophies used to understand and address world issues. This is an extension of scholars like Toynbee and Spengler, whose literature has also claimed that ideologically, the world has witnessed a general reduction in abstract thought and problem-solving. This ideological decline has most substantially occurred in the Western World.

    The outcomes of the reduction in these human development vectors demonstrate a potential next stage in global restructuring. Unfortunately, only little data can be sourced to explain what a global world order could look like without a proverbial ‘king on the throne’ exists. Nearly all acquired data is built into a ‘traditional’ understanding of a realist world order. This understanding is largely correct. Nevertheless, the core assumption built into our post-WWII consensus is out of date.

    This is the concept that we as nations will continue falling back into and transitioning between the traditional Big Three polar systems. This indeed contrasts with moving into a fourth non-polar world structure. Traditionally, states have transitioned between the Big Three world systems. This can only occur when all three vectors of human development are positive, when now, in reality, all three are in decline.

    This is not to take away from realism as a cornerstone theoretical approach to understanding and explaining state behaviour. Realism and its core tenets are still correct on a conceptual and theoretical level and will remain so. Indeed, what unites all branches of realism is this core assumption of civilisation from within the system and that it will directly affect polarity. These structures are assumed to remain in place, presenting one major question. This question is shown upon investigating the current bipolar connection between both major superpowers, in this case, between the U.S. and the PRC. Kissinger argues that “almost as if according to some natural law, in every century, there seems to emerge a country with the power, the will, and the intellectual and moral impetus to shape the entire international system per its own values.” It can be seen in the direct aftermath of the declining U.S., which is moving away from the unipolar moment it found itself in during the 1990s, into a more insecure and complex multipolar present. This present currently defines Sino-U.S. relations and has set the tone for most conversations about the future of global politics. Such a worldview encapsulates how academics have traditionally viewed bipolar strategic competition, with one side winning and the other losing. This bipolarity between these superpowers has often left the question of which will eventually dominate the other. Will the U.S. curtail and contain a rising PRC, or will the PRC come out as the global hegemon overstepping U.S. supremacy?

    Realism and its core tenets are still correct on a conceptual and theoretical level and will remain so. Indeed, what unites all branches of realism is this core assumption of civilisation from within the system and that it will directly affect polarity.

    Consequently and presently, there remains a distinct possibility that both superpowers could collapse together or separately within a short period of each other. This collapse is regardless of their nation’s relative power or economic interdependence. It could rather be:

    1. The PRC could easily decline because of several core factors. Demographically, the nation’s one-child policy has dramatically reduced the population. The results could place great strain on the nation’s viability. Politically, there is a very real chance that there could be major internal strife due to competing factional elements within the central government. Economically, housing debt could cause an economic crash to occur.
    2. For the U.S., this same could occur. The nation has its own economic issues and internal political problems. This, in turn, might also place great pressure on the future viability of the country moving forward.

    Still, the implications for both nations remain deeply complex and fluid as to what will ultimately occur. From this, any definite outcomes currently remain unclear and speculative.

    Within most traditional Western circles, the conclusion for the bipolar competition will only result in a transition towards either of the two remaining world systems. Either one power becomes hegemonic, resulting in unipolarity, or, in contrast, as nations move into a multipolar system, where several powers vie for security. Nevertheless, this transition cannot currently occur if both superpowers within the bipolar system collapse at the same time. This is regardless of whether their respective collapses are connected or not. As both superpowers are in a relative decline, they themselves contribute to a total decline of power across the world system. From this, with the rise of global interdependence between states, when a superpower collapses, it has long-term implications for the other superpower and those caught in between. If both superpowers collapse, it would give us a world system with no definitive power centre and a global tribe without a leader.

    This decline would go beyond being in a state of ‘posthegemony’, where there is a singular or bipolar superpower, the core source of polarity amongst nations, towards that of a non-polar world. This means a transition into a world without the ability to develop an organised world system from a full hegemonic collapse. With the collapse of bipolarity and the inability to transition towards either of the traditional remaining world systems, as previously mentioned, this would be like all nations being perpetually stunted in their ability to develop, like a ladder with the first ten steps missing. All nations would collectively struggle to get up the first few steps back into some form of structural normalcy. It could, for decades, prevent any attempt to transition back into the traditional realm of the Big Three world systems.

    With the collapse of bipolarity and the inability to transition towards either of the traditional remaining world systems, as previously mentioned, this would be like all nations being perpetually stunted in their ability to develop, like a ladder with the first ten steps missing.

    The result/consequence of any collapse directly caused by a link between economic, demographic and political failings would become a global death spiral, potentially dragging nearly all other nations down with its collapse. That considered another question would arise: if we as an international community structurally face a non-polar moment on a theoretical level, what might the aftermath look like for states and interstate relations?

    Rising and Falling Powers

    This aspect of how the international community and academia view the international sphere could yield a vital understanding of what may happen within the next few years and likely decades, will need to constantly reassess the core assumptions behind our pre-existing thoughts. One core assumption is that nations are either rising or falling. However, it may be worth remembering that it is entirely possible that both bipolar powers could easily decline significantly at any point, for multiple different reasons and factors. The outcomes would have substantial implications for the world as a whole.

    It may be worth remembering that it is entirely possible that both bipolar powers could easily decline significantly at any point, for multiple different reasons and factors.

    Ultimately, it implies that the international community will need to reevaluate how issues like polarity are viewed, and continue to explore the possibility of entering a fourth polar world – non-polar – and address the possibility that some form of post-polarity realism might begin to conceptualise. Nations and intergovernmental organisations should, at the least, attempt to consider or acclimatise to the real possibility of transforming into a world without a global hegemon or world order.

    This article was originally published in The Defence Horizon Journal, an academic and professional-led journal dedicated to the study of defence and security-related topics. The original post can be read here.


    Photo Credit.

    The Importance of National Storytelling

    I’m warming myself by the fire where pork shish-kebabs crackle, as I gulp down sweet homemade wine with cured belly fat and black village-bread. We are at a friend’s dacha about 150 miles southeast of Moscow. As we drink the talk gets more political. Eventually a bearded armchair expert starts explaining a theory involving different ethnic groups having innate biological proclivities. He explained Englishmen were ‘sailors’, they live on an island, and they sailed around the world and settled new lands. Jews were ‘traders’ and therefore became widespread but remained on the outside. Russians were the ‘forest men’, who conquered the Eurasian steppes, uniting Slav with Turk in a forest-steppe continuum – or something like that. I didn’t realise until much later that this was a bastardised layman’s understanding of a genuine, developed school of thought now popular in Russia and beyond.

    The once-obscure theories of Lev Gumilyov, the Gulag-surviving Soviet social scientist and son of influential poets, are now deeply embedded in the Russian mainstream. Gumilyov conflated nationality and ethnicity into ‘ethnos’ – a universal element of history that makes its foundation. He believed that each ethnos acquired ‘behaviour stereotypes’ in its early stages of development or ‘ethnogenesis’ (presumably what my drunk acquaintance was referring to), connected to geography but also to another concept – passionarity. Passionarity can loosely be defined as an intrinsic motivation towards purposeful activity. Putin has described it as ‘the will of a nation’; its ‘inner energy’. This became the ontological framework for Eurasianism which, part-philosophy part-ideology, is newest part of the story that Russia tells itself. In practice, Eurasianists believe that the post-Soviet states of the ‘near abroad’ are Russia’s natural allies, and not the Slavs or others to their West. They believe Russia and the states that surround it make up a unique, ‘Eurasian’ civilisation united by a ‘Tatar-Mongolic’ heritage, making up the heartland, destined to be in constant battle with the outer rimland.

    This might sound like (and likely is) wishful ahistorical nonsense, but there are worse examples. Hungary is an observer state of the Turkic Council, and every year hosts the ‘Great Kurultay’ event, where participants from across the Turkic states and Turkic regions of Russia gather to ride horses and dress like Genghis Khan. The debates over Hungarian pre-history are as confusing and they are endless but basically, they also involve a lot of Eastern-European Turkophilia and dubious historiography. The Turks themselves are split between being a reincarnation of an ancient nomadic people in the body of a Kemalist republic or the rebirth of Islamic power rising from the Ottoman ashes. We might find all this story telling strange, but what stories do we tell ourselves today? What is the level of our ‘inner energy’?

    One of the stories we tell ourselves is that ‘the West’ exists as a civilisational bloc due to a shared European and Christian culture, but how true is this now? Our leaders almost never define us in this way. We are instead liberal, democratic nations united by ‘shared values’. The power of ‘the West’ is invoked only when we are being convinced of virtues of the latest war. In this values-based understanding, Taiwan is just as much a part of the West as Israel and Japan are. When that loose definition can’t be convincingly stretched enough (thinking for example of our good friends Saudi Arabia), then we simply become ‘the international community’. All of this is collapsing in front of us, as forgotten civilisations re-emerge with powerful narratives. The West’s old stories do not even convince any more, let alone inspire.

    If we look under the hood of this artificial construct of the modern West, we see that it’s held together by little other than the political, economic, and military ties of the globalist regime. I shouldn’t have to say that this does not diminish the magnitude of the West’s contribution to art and science, but a culture must be lived to exist. When it ceases to be, it becomes mere history. We must look at the reality of what today’s West is and not just where it came from. We can divide the modern West into roughly three parts (if we exclude for now the strange parallel Western world that is South America) and they are the Anglo-Saxon countries, the ex-communist states, and the rest of continental Europe. Let’s look at them one by one.

    The nations that spent decades under communism are undergoing what can only be described as a cultural renaissance. Hungary and Poland are notable examples, but the pattern is at play across the former Warsaw Pact countries. Being frozen off from the rest of the West for all those decades has unexpectedly left these societies uninfected by the viruses of cultural guilt, atheism, mass immigration, degenerate pop culture and third wave feminism, just to name a few. In fact, the repression of national cultures, religion and traditional family life has led people to embrace and guard those aspects of their identity and lifestyle with a militant zeal. I am aware that most of these countries suffer chronic demographic issues of some kind, but unfortunately most of the world are now victims to a similar fate, so let’s park that for now.

    These countries suffered occupation and oppression from many empires across the past centuries, all engaging in national struggles, only to engage in new ones as the red yoke fell. They are therefore not short of stories to tell themselves. The revival of Christianity in these lands only adds to the spiritual rebirth that is evidently sweeping this part of the world. Gone are its Orwellian regimes and rigid state ideologies, very obviously authoritarian, offensively so to our Western sensibilities. Yet the Brave New World-style totalitarian society that we now live in is less obvious, most of us refusing to see it despite it being all around us. It may well be the case that the future will see a new Iron Curtain, where EUSSR citizens try to escape to the sunlit uplands of Eastern Europe. This is what the direction of travel indicates.

    Next up is the rest of continental Europe. For all its faults and afflictions, countries like France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and even Sweden, are in better positions to get out of the mess they find themselves in than, say, the UK (which finds itself in a near-identical mess). It turns out that the European system of proportional representation and regionalism is a far better bulwark against globalist top-down policies than the much revered Westminster system of government, as the success of Meloni, Wilders and other patriotic populists shows. Here, the inferior status of the English-language along with inherent protectionist tendencies have acted as shields from the extremes of financialised progressivism. Not having the world’s lingua franca as your native tongue adds a filter between national cultures and the globalist monoculture.

    Despite most European capitals being marked with giant conquering rainbow flags, thousands of non-metropolitan regions maintain the standards and traditions of their forebears. Culture is preserved on the local level, with much disdain and distrust directed towards the centre. An understanding that traditional way of life relies on a healthy nation, rather than on liberal democratic values, is pervasive and comes naturally. Folk music, national dress, culinary customs, community events, religious occasions and even superstitious traditions are more prevalent and taken more seriously on the continent. These countries are locked in a tug-of-war between the chauvinist East and the emasculated West. Preserving these rich cultures by reclaiming the nation-state seems like a motivating purposeful activity and compelling story.

    So, what do you do when you are a country made up of four nations? What if your language is not a delicate national treasure but the universalist tongue of billions? What if your country was set up by people from one part of the world, but is now populated by people from a different part? These are just some of the identity crisis challenges that face the Anglo-Saxon world today. What stories can these countries tell themselves about their place in history and their destiny as a people, outside of materialist comparisons? GDP rankings aren’t the stuff that give you goosebumps. Christian heritage holds these societies together, but actual belief in Christianity is largely missing. Other non-religious ‘values’, like ‘tolerance’ and ‘belief in the rule of law’ are as perverted as they are meaningless. Even Ireland with its unique story was until recently one of the most cohesive, vibrant, and successful of the English-speaking countries, but has now followed its cousin-countries down a road of ruinous self-flagellation.

    The United States likes to tell itself that its constitutional system is so perfect that it has been able to melt the peoples of the world into a nation based on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It’s the official narrative. Like many official narratives, not only are they instantly challenged by people’s reality, but they are fundamentally untrue. The country was founded by settlers from a very small triangle of the world roughly covering England and Holland. Its system has worked only insofar as the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant culture has dominated. As we are realising to our horror today, our social order is not based on what laws we have, but on how ordinary people behave. Yes, it is illegal to commit rape and murder, but that fact is not the only thing stopping me from doing those things. Somehow, I also don’t want to.

    America seriously struggled with integrating first German then Irish and Italian immigrants, due to what were then considered as huge differences in culture. In time, the shared aspects of European culture proved to be enough of a basis to integrate these masses of people into a new nation. Yet it was the efforts of a handful of Ashkenazi Jews in the early 20th century that would cement the homogenous American identity and bring it to life. Through the studio system, the barons of Hollywood’s golden era created folklore for a virgin country, projecting an Anglo good life and WASP values across the land and world. The American dream was not about getting rich but raising strong God-fearing families behind a white picket fence.

    This America has long been lost and its 21st century replacement is on a trajectory to become part of Latin America. Like Brazil now, it’s set to become a country where the south is populated largely by White European evangelical Christians while its coastal cities are made up of wealthy gated communities and skyscrapers, separating the liberal elites from the mixed favelas and shanty towns. Adopting Spanish as a national language also adds to this analogy. Part of this region’s problem is that, with Europeans, Africans and natives mixed throughout the arbitrary post-colonial borders, it lacks convincing stories to tell itself. This is probably behind the Latin American habit of entering abusive relationships with radical ideologies.

    This leaves us with the rest of the English-speaking countries, the British Isles, and their offspring. The British identity formed with the union of kingdoms and came into its own with the growth of empire. The Scots, Irish, English, and Welsh spread out from their small corner of the globe and settled its far-flung frontiers, producing developed and orderly societies. Far from diminishing the British identity, the loss of empire should have been an opportunity, a released burden, from having to govern large masses of alien people. The British world, with its shared state structures, language, and history, should have been a proudly embraced inheritance, ensuring the culture of these small islands lives on across the world. Instead, America took our place as the mother country, and along with the other realms we have all become part of the American world. Yet the American dream is now clearly a nightmare.

    Interest in increasing ties between these extremely similar countries was revived during the Brexit campaign, with the idea of CANZUK, a proposed political alliance between Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the UK being one of the more promising projects. Its proponents argue that it makes sense for countries with similar economic, political, and legal systems to increase cooperation. Yet these systems have brought the same ills to all these countries. All these countries have had decades of mass immigration and state multiculturalism. All these countries engaged in inexcusable tyranny and criminal negligence during the covid years. All these countries are fully signed on to serving the military-industrial complex and the agenda behind the climate scam. All these countries are losing their identities far quicker than anywhere in Europe or even than America. Is there a common cause of this? It seems more likely than not that a once shared-cultural space left us victim to the same cultural decline, and the extreme liberalism of today’s CANZUK nations (even in comparison to ‘progressive’ European countries) suggests there’s something running through all that ties us together and has sent us all down the same wrong paths. It therefore seems unlikely that further integrating these countries in their present states would make anything better. There’s been such a demographic shift, an erosion of national sentiment and a detachment from the traditional culture of the British Isles, that the populations of these countries would reject this.

    Another trait shared by these countries is the seeming inability to think outside of modern ideologies; leftism, capitalism, socialism, liberalism, secularism, nationalism, etc. These all take different objects of study, be it class, the individual, the nation, and increasingly in our post-modern world, race, sexual identities, and other perceived oppressed characteristics. What lies outside all these largely Western constructs is traditionalism. Traditionalism isn’t an ideology but rather a school of thought. It’s of course entangled with right wing politics, but it is a separate prospect. Time to the traditionalist is not linear but cyclical. We’re not going somewhere in the future but instead always coming back to a past. It’s seeing the immaterial in the material. The inherent virtue of tradition and moral good of beauty. It is possible to embrace this mindset without believing in God, but it’s easier when you do. Either way, it requires a breaking out of our utilitarian conditioning. Shun the bugman world!

    There is a clear difference between the health and overall robustness of modern British and Turkish cultures, to give an example. This can be demonstrated in how cultures collide. In Turkey, the native culture reigns supreme, forcing all forms of art and entertainment to conform to local tastes or bend itself in some way. Netflix and Disney plus can’t just dish out subtitled versions of their usual fare, they must create locally produced, Turkish-oriented content or they won’t survive. Likewise, foreign music is a rarity on the airwaves, with outside genres being morphed and orientalised out of recognition before taking final form. International fast-food chains perform well but will never outcompete the legion of local takeaways with their motorcycle delivery armies. Even then, country-specific modifications are common. The point is, this is a robust culture that absorbs and bounces away outside elements. Modernity is only accepted once it has been infused with tradition, or domesticised.

    Unfortunately, modern British culture does not absorb and shape incoming elements but rather accepts and is taken over by them. Such is the dogmatic nature of the near-official state ideology of Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion, that the concept of a supreme, native culture is a thoughtcrime. If you told a Turk that Britain’s national dish was something called ‘Chicken Tikka Masala’ he would look at you with a mix of bemusement and disdain. Multiculturalism does not have to mean accepting foreign cultures as they are and putting them on a pedestal, but in the absence of a muscular home-culture this becomes a fait accompli. Britain, a country that just a few decades ago was a net cultural exporter, has undeniably lost its mojo. The reasons for this are likely to do with our modern economic system and the various cultural and sexual revolutions visited upon it in this period. Adding many millions of immigrants from the most incompatible parts of the world to the population in a short timeframe has undoubtedly contributed to the decline in shared identity, but it is not the root cause. Few offer a compelling way forward. Traditionalism offers a way to relook and renew.

    There is something universalist in this perspective that deserves appreciation. Traditionalism has a ‘to each their own’ attitude that is especially attractive those of us who are sympathetic to non-interventionism and realism in international relations. At present, we ‘the West’, have not given up our position of the constant moral lecturer of the world. This position becomes ever more absurd as the reality of our corruption and social decay is further exposed. We lament the imprisonment of Alexei Navalny and other political dissidents in Russia yet have nothing to say about the imprisonment of Julian Assange or the death of David Kelly. We condemn the primitive corruption of local officials in the third world yet have nothing to say about the institutionalised corruption of our military and pharmaceutical industries and their revolving door self-regulating agencies. We scare ourselves with stories of China’s ‘social credit system’ while living in a comparable digital dystopia ourselves. We invade countries on false pretences, only to bait-and-switch into a Darwinian superiority battle of civilisations.

    Our reaction to spending trillions of dollars, two decades and thousands of lives to replace the Taliban with the Taliban, is to Twitter shame Afghanistan for being culturally backward. It is therefore no surprise that Israel has done its own bait-and-switch, abandoning its anti-Hamas line in favour of posting pictures of gay IDF soldiers kissing, therefore demonstrating its cultural superiority compared to the backward homophobic Arabs. All this hypocritical and psychopathic nonsense is thrown out when you view the world through the traditionalist lens. It accepts the world as it should be; differing realms with their own ways of life. The world will not end if we simply let the Arabs be Arab and let China be China. The important thing is that we let Britain be Britain. We should own the right to be ourselves and drop the self-imposed burden of trying to change others. Live and let live – at the moment we do neither.

    As far as cultural inheritances go, these islands are luckier than most. The rich tapestry of clans, tongues and kingdoms are genuinely ‘diverse’, and when you drive out of the big cities their beauty is on full display. This is a great lot to work with. As modern urban life becomes increasingly unbearable, it will be to the countryside and villages where people will escape and try to reconnect with the eternal. In the last few years especially, people of individual, independent, conservative, and alternative persuasions have (ironically) used the power of the internet to become part of a revival of traditional ways of eating and living. These people are entitled to (and do) make their own meanings and tell their own stories, but a nation is like an organism and relies on all its constituent parts to function properly. For this, we need grand narratives not of a brighter material future, but of a deep, spiritual, and eternal connection to the land and the people we share it with. It doesn’t particularly matter what stories we tell, but we need to think of some new ones because the old ones don’t work anymore. It will not make me popular to observe that the Second World War, for whatever reason, is no longer the unifying national myth that it once was (at least for Britain). Even countries like Russia, which treats the Second World War as a sort of national religion, needs other tales and stories to tell itself in addition to that. We need big narratives about who we are, where we’ve come from and where we’re going. Celebrating St George’s Day and Margaret Thatcher isn’t going to cut it. We are faced with a fundamentally different country at a critical time in its history.

    Britain is a nation with extraordinary prospects that are being wasted because there is no vision. It has, to use Gumilyov’s terminology, low passionarity. Many British people to do not feel that group-specific inner biocosmic force inside of them, and that is a failure of culture over anything. My few childhood years spent in an Irish primary school imbued me with more of an appreciation and affection for that island and its culture than I ever got from a lifetime of secondary and higher education in the UK. The stories of my parents and grandparents, who as immigrants are more inclined to engage in cultural propaganda, instilled in me a visceral feeling of belonging and connection with my ancestors, and their cultures and histories. Yet I only truly connected with the traditionalist mindset after a long process of consciously deprogramming myself from the globohomo monoculture. I now experience a complete synthesis of my various identities, without succumbing to shallow partisanship. I see the beauty in and take strength from them all. The stories and traditions sustain me every day. These bedrocks of any culture need serious replenishing in our country. Our future depends on it. It won’t be an easy task and there are no overnight fixes. The many decades and multiple generations it took for the long march through the institutions to bring us to our current state can only be counteracted through an equally long period of renewal. As the cultural Marxists attacked the family and hijacked education, watching the consequences ripple through to the rest of society, so too must we rebuild the family and reclaim education over a long period of time. If this is viewed as a political project with goal posts, we will be doomed to fail. Instead, this should be viewed as an unending, cyclic process of passing on and telling stories to inspire meaning and bravery. So, reject modernity, embrace tradition!


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    We Must Ban Cousin Marriages

    The fact that Charles II of Spain lived to the age of thirty-eight was nothing short of a miracle- and that’s not because he was born in the 17th century. His nearly four-decade life was filled with physical and mental ailments that would be hard to live with even today’s medical technology.

    He flew through wet nurses due to continually biting their nipples until his mother ordered them to stop. Charles could not walk until he was four and walk until he was six, having trouble with both for the rest of his life. He suffered from severe depression and unknown learning and developmental disabilities. On top of this, he had hallucinations, seizures, a congenital heart defect and premature ejaculation. An autopsy revealed a body that sounds like something out of a horror film- one single shrunken testicle, a body without a single drop of blood and rotted intestines. Despite his litany of ailments, he was reportedly a kind boy who enjoyed hunting. Whilst he was clearly at fault in terms of infertility, his poor wives were blamed for not bearing an heir.

    The problem with Charles, inheritor of the famous Habsburg chin, was his family line. The Habsburg clan famously interbred and between 1515 and his birth in 1661, no new members were brought to the genetic line. His family tree reads like a wreath and he is related multiple times to each of his family members. Charles’ father was born to two first cousins, whilst his mother was the daughter of an uncle and niece. His parents were similarly uncle and niece. Charles’ sister Margaret Theresa managed to avoid the worst of it all, but she was married off to a man who was both her cousin and her uncle. Only one of her four children managed to pass infancy- she was originally intended to marry her uncle, but never did.

    Years of cousin marriage in royal circles led to poor outcomes. Many of these marriages were more distant, but first cousin marriages were not at all rare, particularly on the continent. Philip II of Spain and Maria Manuel were double first cousins, and the only son they produced was so severely disturbed that there was no way that he could take the throne. Philip would marry thrice again- to his first cousin once removed Mary I of England that resulted in no children, the unrelated Elisabeth of Valois with whom he had two very intelligent, capable daughters, and to his niece Anna of Austria, with whom he had one living son.

    Another example is that of Philip’s daughter Isabella Clara Eugenia, who married her first cousin Albert VIII of Austria. None of her three children lived past childhood. Philip’s other daughter Catalina Micaela married an unrelated husband but was weakened by having children every year. His son Philip also married his first cousin once removed but fortunately had five children live to adulthood.

    We imagine these cousin marriages happening hundreds of years ago, but it is not quite as extinct as one might hope. Even more worryingly, first cousin marriage is perfectly legal in the UK. There’s a stereotype in the Southern USA that white trash folk marry their cousins, but it’s actually completely illegal in most of those states. Here, however, you can go ahead and marry your uncle’s kid.

    The practice is most common within Muslims in the UK, with areas such as Bradford seeing large numbers marrying their cousin. The BBC recently reported that cousin marriage for Pakistanis and those of Pakistani origin in Bradford dropped from 60% to 46%- a drop, but not a large enough drop to be sure.

    This needs to stop.

    First, we must understand why people marry their first cousins. Whilst the Quran lists people who it is forbidden to marry and have relations with, such as siblings, uncles and aunts, cousins are not one of them. Furthermore, across all religious lines, there are economic and social reasons. Money is kept in the family instead of outside clans, tribes and faiths. It keeps a person linked to their family, with an expectation that they will have a stronger connection. For some whose family are originally from abroad, it might keep them linked to their heritage in an alien culture.

    The problem, however, lies with the results.

    When a person marries a close relation, there is a higher chance of genetic problems for any children. The chance is further increased if there is a family history of cousin marriages. The risk of birth defects increases from 3% to 6% in a cousin marriage- not a huge jump, but an unnecessary and entirely avoidable one for innocent kids. When it comes to fatal genetic disorders, children of South Asian parents are overrepresented in the data- they make up 65% of deaths but 37% of the population. Cousin marriage resulted in the death of 53% of children mentioned.

    A 2017 study found that 1 in 5 child deaths in East London came from the parents being related. A 2010 study found 700 children a year were born with genetic disorders as a result of cousin marriage. It is not a minute problem. In a recent episode of the thoroughly fascinating show Cause of Death, which follows the work of a coroner, a young man of thirty-three died suddenly of a rare disorder. Two of his siblings had also died, whilst at least two of the others had tested positive for the disorder. Their parents are cousins.

    When it comes to pregnancy, women are told not to take any risks that may harm the baby. She is required to stop smoking, drinking and consuming caffeine. Doing any of those things means risks to the unborn child, so why do we permit cousins to marry when we know the risks?

    Even Islamic countries have picked up on the issues, though they have obviously taken no steps to ban the practice. Cousin marriage is very high, even the norm, in Saudi Arabia, and is a nation home to a high number of genetic disorders. As a result, Saudi Arabia has mandated premarital genetic screening for couples. If the results are revealed to be risky, then there’s a way out for the couple. It is said that 60% of couples have ended their engagement after receiving bad news. Iran has implemented a similar system, as well as six other Middle Eastern nations.

    If these countries can do something, why can’t we?


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    Featured

    The Post-Polar Moment

    Introduction

    Abstract: Nations and intergovernmental organisations must consider the real possibility of moving into a world without a global hegemon. The core assumptions that underpin realist thought can directly be challenged by presenting an alternative approach to non-polarity. This could be through questioning what might occur if nations moved from a world in which polarity remains a major tool for understanding interstate relations and security matters. Further work is necessary to explore the full implications of what entering a non-polar world could mean and possible outcomes for such events.

    Problem statement: What would global security look like without competition between key global players such as the People’s Republic of China and the United States?

    So what?: Nations and intergovernmental organisations should prepare for the real possibility that the international community could be moving into a world without a global hegemon or world order. As such, they should recognise the potential for a rapidly changing geopolitical landscape and are urged to strategically acknowledge the importance of what this would mean. More research is still needed to explore the implications for and of this moving forward.

    Geopolitical Fluidity

    Humankind has moved rapidly from a period of relatively controlled geopolitical dominance towards a more fluid and unpredictable situation. This has posed a question to global leadership: what would it mean to be leaderless, and what role could anarchy play in such matters? Examining the assumptions that make up most of the academic discourse within International Relations and Security Studies remains important in trying to tackle said dilemma.

    From this geopolitical fluidity, the transition from U.S.-led geopolitical dominance, shown in the ‘unipolar moment’, to that of either bipolarity or multipolarity has come about. This re-emergence, however, has not directly focused on an unexplored possibility that could explain the evolving trends that might occur. Humankind is entering a post-polar world out of the emergence of a leaderless world structure. There is the possibility, too, that neither the U.S. nor the the People’s Republic of China become the sole global superpower which then dominates the world and its structures”. The likelihood of this occurring remains relatively high, as explored further on. Put differently, “it is entirely possibly that within the next two decades, international relations could be entering a period of no singular global superpower at all”.

    Humankind is entering a post-polar world out of the emergence of a leaderless world structure.

    The Non-Polar Moment

    The most traditional forms of realism propose three forms of polar systems. These are unipolar, bipolar, or multipolar (The Big Three). There is a strong possibility that we as a global community are transitioning into a fourth and separate world system. This fourth and relatively unexplored world system could mean that anything that enables the opportunity for either a superpower or regional power to establish itself will not be able to occur in the foreseeable future.

    It can also historically be explained by the end of the Cold War and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union, which led to the emergence of the U.S. as the leading superpower within global politics. For lack of better words, it was a generational image of a defining dominant nation within both international relations and security circles. From this, it was widely acknowledged and regarded that Krauthammer coined the’ unipolar moment’ in the aftermath of the Cold War. This meant that there was a period when the U.S. was the sole dominant centre of global power/polarity. This unipolar moment is more accurately considered part of a much larger ‘global power moment’.

    This global power moment is in reference to the time period mentioned above, which entailed the ability for nations to directly and accurately project their power abroad or outside their region. This ability to project power will presumably but steadily decline in the following decades due to the subsequent decrease in the three core vectors of human development (Demography, Technology and Ideology). When combined, one could argue that the three polar systems allowed for the creation of the global power moment itself. Specifically, that would be from the start of the 19th until the end of the 20th century. Following that line of thought, the future was affected by the three aforementioned pillars somewhat like this:

    1. Demography: this means having a strongly structured and or growing population, one that allows a nation to act expansively towards other states and use those human resources to achieve its political goals.
    2. Technology: the rise of scientific innovations, allowing stronger military actions to happen against other nations. To date, it has granted nations the ability to directly project power abroad, which, before this, would have only been able to occur locally or at a regional level.
    3. Ideology: the third core vector of human development. That means the development of philosophies that justify the creation of a distinct mindset or “zeitgeist” that culturally explains a nation’s actions.

    These three core vectors of development are built into a general human trend and assumption of ‘more’, within this great power moment. Existing systems are built into the understanding of more people, more technology development, and more growth, along with possessing generated ideologies that rationalise such actions. What this does, in turn, is help define a linear progression of human history and help develop an understanding of interstate relations.

    Existing systems are built into the understanding of more people, more technology development, and more growth, along with possessing generated ideologies that rationalise such actions.

    Nevertheless, this understanding is currently considered insufficient; the justification for this is based on developing a fourth vector to help comprehend power distribution. This vector is that of non-polarity, meaning a non-power-centred world structure. From this, the idea or concept of non-polarity is not original. Previously, it was deconstructed by Haass, Manning and Stuenkel, and, in their context, refers to a direct absence of global polarity within any of the Big Three polar systems.

    Prior academics have shown that non-polarity is the absence of absolute power being asserted within a place and time but continues to exist within other big three polar systems. The current world diverges from the idea of multipolar in one core way. There are several centres of power, many of which are non-state actors. As a result, power and polarity can be found in many different areas and within many different actors. This argument expands on Strange’s (1996) contributions, who disputed that polarity was transferring from nations to global marketplaces and non-state actors.

    A notable example is non-state players who act against more established powers, these can include terrorist and insurgent groups/organisations. Non-polarity itself being “a world dominated not by one or two or even several states but rather by dozens of actors possessing and exercising various kinds of power”. From this, a more adequate understanding of non-polarity is required. Additionally, it should be argued that non-polarity is rather a direct lack of centres of power that can exist and arise from nations. Because of this, this feature of non-polarity infers the minimisation of a nation’s ability to meaningfully engage in structural competition, which in turn describes a state of post-polarity realism presenting itself.

    Humans are presented with the idea of a ‘non-polar moment’, which comes out of the above-stated direct lack of polarity. The non-polar moment inverts the meaning of the unipolar moment found with the U.S. in the aftermath of the Cold War, which was part of the wider period of Pax Americana (after WWII). This contrasts with the traditional idea: instead of having a singular hegemonic power that dominates power distribution across global politics, there is no direct power source to assert itself within the system. Conceptually, this non-polar moment could be viewed as a system where states are placed into a situation in which they are limited to being able to act outwardly. A reason why they could be limited is the demographic constraints being placed on a nation from being able to strategically influence another nation, alongside maintaining an ideology that allows nations to justify such actions.

    The non-polar moment inverts the meaning of the unipolar moment found with the U.S. in the aftermath of the Cold War, which was part of the wider period of Pax Americana.

    The outcomes of such a world have not been fully studied, with the global community moving from a system to one without any distributors of power or ability to influence other nations. In fact, assuming these structural conditions, -that nations need to acquire hegemony and are themselves perpetually stunted-, the scenario is similar to having a ladder that is missing its first few steps. From this, one can also see this structural condition as the contrast to a ‘rising tide lifts all boats’ situation, with the great power reduction. Because of this, the non-polar moment could symbolise the next, fourth stage for nations to transition to part of a much wider post-polarity form of realism that could develop.

    The implications for this highlight a relevant gap within the current literature, the need to examine both the key structural and unit-level conditions that currently are present. This is what it might mean to be part of a wider ‘a global tribe without a leader’, something which a form of post-polarity realism might suggest.

    A Global Tribe Without a Leader

    To examine the circumstances for which post-polarity realism can occur, one must examine the conditions that define realism itself. Traditionally, for realism, the behaviours of states are as follows:

    1. States act according to their self-interests;
    2. States are rational in nature; and
    3. States pursue power to help ensure their own survival.

    What this shows is that there are several structures from within the Big Three polar systems. Kopalyan argues that the world structure transitions between the different stages. This can be shown by moving between interstate relations as bipolar towards multipolar, done by both nations and governments, which allows nations to re-establish themselves in accordance with their structural conditions within the world system. Kopalyan then continues to identify the absence of a consistent conceptualisation of non-polarity. This absence demonstrates a direct need for clarity and structured responses to the question of non-polarity.

    As such, the transition between systems to non-polarity, to and from post-polarity will probably occur. The reason for this is the general decline in three core vectors of human development, which are part of complex unit-level structural factors occurring within states. The structural factors themselves are not helpful towards creating or maintaining any of the Big Three world systems. Ultimately, what this represents is a general decline in global stability itself which is occurring. An example of this is the reduction of international intergovernmental organisations across the globe and their inability to adequately manage or solve major structural issues like Climate Change, which affects all nations across the international community.

    Firstly, this can be explained demographically because most nations currently live with below-replacement (and sub-replacement) fertility rates. In some cases, they have even entered a state of terminal demographic decline. This is best symbolised in nations like Japan, Russia, and the PRC, which have terminal demographics alongside most of the European continent. The continuation of such outcomes also affects other nations outside of this traditional image, with nations like Thailand and Türkiye suffering similar issues. Contrasted globally, one can compare it to the dramatic inverse fertility rates found within Sub-Saharan Africa.

    Secondly, with technology, one can observe a high level of development which has produced a widespread benefit for nations. Nevertheless, it has also contributed to a decline in the preservation of being able to transition between the Big Three systems. Technological developments have produced obstacles to generating coherence between governments and their citizenry. For example, social media allows for the generation of mass misinformation that can be used to create issues within nations from other countries and non-state actors. Additionally, it has meant that nations are placed permanently into a state of insecurity because of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). The results mean there can never be any true sense or permanence in the idea of security due to the effects of WMDs and their spillover effects. Subsequently, technological development has placed economic hurdles for nations within the current world order through record levels of debt, which has placed further strain on the validity of the current global economic system in being able to maintain itself.

    Technological developments have produced obstacles to generating coherence between governments and their citizenry.

    The final core vector of human development is ideology and its decline. This has been shown with a reduction in the growth of new ideologies and philosophies used to understand and address world issues. This is an extension of scholars like Toynbee and Spengler, whose literature has also claimed that ideologically, the world has witnessed a general reduction in abstract thought and problem-solving. This ideological decline has most substantially occurred in the Western World.

    The outcomes of the reduction in these human development vectors demonstrate a potential next stage in global restructuring. Unfortunately, only little data can be sourced to explain what a global world order could look like without a proverbial ‘king on the throne’ exists. Nearly all acquired data is built into a ‘traditional’ understanding of a realist world order. This understanding is largely correct. Nevertheless, the core assumption built into our post-WWII consensus is out of date.

    This is the concept that we as nations will continue falling back into and transitioning between the traditional Big Three polar systems. This indeed contrasts with moving into a fourth non-polar world structure. Traditionally, states have transitioned between the Big Three world systems. This can only occur when all three vectors of human development are positive, when now, in reality, all three are in decline.

    This is not to take away from realism as a cornerstone theoretical approach to understanding and explaining state behaviour. Realism and its core tenets are still correct on a conceptual and theoretical level and will remain so. Indeed, what unites all branches of realism is this core assumption of civilisation from within the system and that it will directly affect polarity. These structures are assumed to remain in place, presenting one major question. This question is shown upon investigating the current bipolar connection between both major superpowers, in this case, between the U.S. and the PRC. Kissinger argues that “almost as if according to some natural law, in every century, there seems to emerge a country with the power, the will, and the intellectual and moral impetus to shape the entire international system per its own values.” It can be seen in the direct aftermath of the declining U.S., which is moving away from the unipolar moment it found itself in during the 1990s, into a more insecure and complex multipolar present. This present currently defines Sino-U.S. relations and has set the tone for most conversations about the future of global politics. Such a worldview encapsulates how academics have traditionally viewed bipolar strategic competition, with one side winning and the other losing. This bipolarity between these superpowers has often left the question of which will eventually dominate the other. Will the U.S. curtail and contain a rising PRC, or will the PRC come out as the global hegemon overstepping U.S. supremacy?

    Realism and its core tenets are still correct on a conceptual and theoretical level and will remain so. Indeed, what unites all branches of realism is this core assumption of civilisation from within the system and that it will directly affect polarity.

    Consequently and presently, there remains a distinct possibility that both superpowers could collapse together or separately within a short period of each other. This collapse is regardless of their nation’s relative power or economic interdependence. It could rather be:

    1. The PRC could easily decline because of several core factors. Demographically, the nation’s one-child policy has dramatically reduced the population. The results could place great strain on the nation’s viability. Politically, there is a very real chance that there could be major internal strife due to competing factional elements within the central government. Economically, housing debt could cause an economic crash to occur.
    2. For the U.S., this same could occur. The nation has its own economic issues and internal political problems. This, in turn, might also place great pressure on the future viability of the country moving forward.

    Still, the implications for both nations remain deeply complex and fluid as to what will ultimately occur. From this, any definite outcomes currently remain unclear and speculative.

    Within most traditional Western circles, the conclusion for the bipolar competition will only result in a transition towards either of the two remaining world systems. Either one power becomes hegemonic, resulting in unipolarity, or, in contrast, as nations move into a multipolar system, where several powers vie for security. Nevertheless, this transition cannot currently occur if both superpowers within the bipolar system collapse at the same time. This is regardless of whether their respective collapses are connected or not. As both superpowers are in a relative decline, they themselves contribute to a total decline of power across the world system. From this, with the rise of global interdependence between states, when a superpower collapses, it has long-term implications for the other superpower and those caught in between. If both superpowers collapse, it would give us a world system with no definitive power centre and a global tribe without a leader.

    This decline would go beyond being in a state of ‘posthegemony’, where there is a singular or bipolar superpower, the core source of polarity amongst nations, towards that of a non-polar world. This means a transition into a world without the ability to develop an organised world system from a full hegemonic collapse. With the collapse of bipolarity and the inability to transition towards either of the traditional remaining world systems, as previously mentioned, this would be like all nations being perpetually stunted in their ability to develop, like a ladder with the first ten steps missing. All nations would collectively struggle to get up the first few steps back into some form of structural normalcy. It could, for decades, prevent any attempt to transition back into the traditional realm of the Big Three world systems.

    With the collapse of bipolarity and the inability to transition towards either of the traditional remaining world systems, as previously mentioned, this would be like all nations being perpetually stunted in their ability to develop, like a ladder with the first ten steps missing.

    The result/consequence of any collapse directly caused by a link between economic, demographic and political failings would become a global death spiral, potentially dragging nearly all other nations down with its collapse. That considered another question would arise: if we as an international community structurally face a non-polar moment on a theoretical level, what might the aftermath look like for states and interstate relations?

    Rising and Falling Powers

    This aspect of how the international community and academia view the international sphere could yield a vital understanding of what may happen within the next few years and likely decades, will need to constantly reassess the core assumptions behind our pre-existing thoughts. One core assumption is that nations are either rising or falling. However, it may be worth remembering that it is entirely possible that both bipolar powers could easily decline significantly at any point, for multiple different reasons and factors. The outcomes would have substantial implications for the world as a whole.

    It may be worth remembering that it is entirely possible that both bipolar powers could easily decline significantly at any point, for multiple different reasons and factors.

    Ultimately, it implies that the international community will need to reevaluate how issues like polarity are viewed, and continue to explore the possibility of entering a fourth polar world – non-polar – and address the possibility that some form of post-polarity realism might begin to conceptualise. Nations and intergovernmental organisations should, at the least, attempt to consider or acclimatise to the real possibility of transforming into a world without a global hegemon or world order.

    This article was originally published in The Defence Horizon Journal, an academic and professional-led journal dedicated to the study of defence and security-related topics. The original post can be read here.


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    Ride (read) or Die: 2023 Book Report (Part III)

    Following on from last years experiment of attempting to read at least 10 pages of a book a day to increase my reading, I found it thoroughly enjoyable and wished to continue my reading journey in 2023. About halfway through last year, a friend of mine suggested to me that the 10 pages target could be detrimental to my overall reading, as it would encourage me to simply put the book down after just 10 pages (something I later realised it was doing). This year, I chose to do away with the 10 pages target and have decided to just make a pledge to read every day. In the first week of the year, I have already read considerably faster than last year, so I think perhaps my friend was on to something.

    I also realised, reading back on last years review scores, that I was a very generous reviewer. I think this was because I did not have enough experience to know what made a book good or bad. I hope that my reviews can be more reflective of the overall reading experience this year.

    Book 11: The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene

    Read from: 28/10/2023 to 28/11/2023

    Rating: 3/5

    I had seen this book pushed quite heavily online before by certain influencers and I was always curious to see what it was about. Robert Greene appears to have written a considerable number of these types of books, so I was very intrigued to know what the fuss was. I thought the book was fine but definitely lacking in some areas.

    The book is essentially a series of lessons regarding how to better navigate life in a more Machiavellian way to attain power. Some of the ideas put forward are genuinely very interesting, and it was nice to have certain topics explained a certain way. Other areas seemed a bit obvious and repetitive which was annoying whilst trying to get through the book.

    A lot of Greene’s rules essentially boil down to ‘don’t tell other people what you are up to’, which I suppose is a pretty good rule to follow if you are hunting power. But there are only so many times you can hear that ‘rule’ phrased differently before you start getting bored.

    Greene backs up his claims with a plethora of anecdotes which I mostly enjoyed. He fell into the same trap as before, however, in that a lot of the anecdotes start to blend into one after a while – especially after using the same anecdote repeatedly. If I never hear the name ‘Charles Talleyrand’ again it will still be too soon! I only become disillusioned with Greene’s anecdotes after he started discussing the English civil war – an area of his anecdotes I was much more versed in than revolutionary France or Renaissance Italy. He made some obvious oversimplifications which annoyed me and made me question the legitimacy of some of his other tales to back up his ideas. I don’t think that this invalidates what he was saying, I just wish he had left less up to speculation regarding whether or not he actually knew the history.

    Overall, a good book which I would still recommend. His insight is useful, and this would be a pretty good primer for Machiavellian style thinking. I would say, however, that you should stick to the audiobook over the actual paperback – it will make it easier to digest.

    Book 12: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

    Read from: 06/11/2023 to 09/11/2023

    Rating: 5/5

    I was strolling through Belfast on a trip there recently, when I picked up this book at a Waterstones for my flight home. Something short to keep me occupied and also increase my book tally on Goodreads before the end of the year. Sure enough, on my (very short) flight back to Newcastle the same day, I ploughed through about a third of it. I found it very difficult to put down and ignore, as I have my other books recently.

    As the title suggests, the book tells the story of one day in the life of Ivan Denisovich – a prisoner at a Soviet Gulag in the early 1950s. It takes you through his agonising routine right from the moment he wakes up to when he finally goes to sleep again. It details the way in which he navigates the trials and tribulations of life in the Siberian gulag he is currently imprisoned in, and the many interactions he has with the other prisoners. The book is too short to summarise without spoiling the whole thing, so I won’t do that. I would highly recommend that you take the time to just read it instead.

    There was something extremely biting about the way that this was written. The author, Solzhenitsyn, was a prisoner in a gulag for eight years, so he had a considerable amount of his own experience to draw from when writing this book. His main character, Ivan, is incredibly relatable and felt very human. Not necessarily a good or a bad person, just someone trying to survive and make the best out of a bad situation. Going so far as to describe his day as ‘a good one’ simply because he was able to get slightly more food after doing some favours for other inmates; routinely breaking minor rules to make his life easier, working cordially with his inmates, and doing everything possible to do as little work as possible for as much reward as he could.

    Every aspect of the story felt very believable and not exaggerated; I never felt as though I was having the wool pulled over my eyes by what is, essentially, a piece of anti-communist propaganda. He describes the guards as harsh but lazy, the other inmates are not depicted as saints, but as a wide array of people with different motives and agendas – a very real and convincing story.

    The book is very well written and was a genuinely fascinating insight into gulag life, an area which I have always been interested in but never researched much. It is a genuine ‘must-read’ for anyone interested in that aspect of Stalinist Russia and the early-cold-war Soviet system of punishment. It is also a delightfully short book and reads very easily. As I said before, I would thoroughly recommend reading this.

    Book 13: Star by Yukio Mishima

    Read from: 21/11/2023 to 22/11/2023

    Rating: 5/5

    I read two books by Yukio Mishima last year, and he is fast becoming one of my favourite authors. I was enticed to buy this book from the moment I saw it; a short story by Mishima is often a treat and I was not at all disappointed by this one.

    The story revolves around the main character Rikio, a young Japanese actor in the prime of his career, and his ugly assistant and lover Kayo. The story revolves around his struggle with fame and the fleeting nature of his career; it also spends a fair amount of time touching on the absurdity of the film industry in Japan in the 1960s and 70’s (something which Mishima was personally accustomed to) and how Rikio navigates it as best as he can.

    Due to the relatively short nature of the book, writing too long of a review would spoil it. However, I will say that I was absolutely entranced by Mishima’s style of writing and his amazing ability to describe some of the more vulgar elements of life (masturbation, sex, drug abuse, etc) in such a poetic and charming way. His powerful use of metaphor continues to amaze me with every book of his that I read. His characters feel painfully real, and his skill at describing scenes and people in such brevity are fantastic.

    I would recommend this book to anyone interested in getting into Mishima and Japanese fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Book 14: The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft

    Read from: 23/11/2023 to 27/11/2023

    Rating: 5/5

    Much like many other ‘American Classics’, the Call of Cthulhu is one of those books which seems to have considerable prominence in online circles solely due to the fact that large amounts of American teenagers are forced to read it at High School. As I am not (and never have been) an American teenager, I have had very little exposure to Lovecraft’s short stories besides the occasional reference on television or through conversations with American’s online. I must say, however, I was thoroughly impressed by this book and Lovecraft’s writing style.

    The book is written from the perspective of a young man going through the notes of his dead relative, a university professor who seems to have stumbled on some kind of conspiracy regarding an ancient god-like figure, Cthulu, who drives people to madness. The story details, from the authors point of view, how he came to discover his uncle’s notes and the journey he went on to validate their authenticity. At the start of the book, he is quite the cynical sceptic; by the end of his journey, he is a terrified believer who wishes that his works are never found and is constantly paranoid that he will be murdered for what he has uncovered – that Cthulu is indeed real and that his very brief appearance made many ‘sensitive young men’ (artists, architects etc) all around the world go mad.

    I am not a fan of horror films; I find them quite unpleasant. However, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading horror. The writer has no opportunity to shoehorn in cheap ‘jump scares’ and low budget special effects. Horror fiction has to be well written and, instead of a brief thrill, creates a genuine sense of dread. I could feel my own arm hairs pricking up with goosebumps whilst reading it.

    I genuinely really enjoyed this book, and will be reading more of HP Lovecraft’s works in the future. A good read and a good introduction to his style of writing and short stories.

    Book 15: The Shadow Over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft

    Read from: 27/11/2023 to 29/12/2023

    Rating: 5/5

    This was my final book of 2023 and was purchased alongside ‘The Call of Cthulhu’. I would have finished it much quicker if it weren’t for the many various Christmas festivities that fall at this time of year which has significantly impeded my reading progress.

    The book follows the story of a young student who is touring the old towns and villages of the New England coast during a gap year in his studies. During his travels, he comes across the town of Innsmouth whilst making his way to Arkham. The town is shunned by the locals of the surrounding villages and is falling into a very ruinous state. During his visit, he meets an old drunkard who explains to him that the town is infested with fish-people who worship ancient eldritch gods and sacrifice people to the sea.

    Due to its short length, to say any more about the plot would spoil it. However, I found the story very gripping and exceedingly exciting. I felt genuinely frightened during much of the latter half of the book and thoroughly enjoyed the way the town and its people were portrayed. Lovecraft does an excellent job at thrilling the reader and the book is worthy of the praise it receives.

    I would recommend this book to anyone interested in classic American fiction or someone interested in the works of Lovecraft specially. However, I would say that it would probably be better to read ‘The Call of Cthulhu’ first, as this book is referenced quite heavily near the middle and end of Shadow over Innsmouth.


    Photo Credit.

    Ride (read) or Die: 2023 Book Report (Part II)

    Following on from last years experiment of attempting to read at least 10 pages of a book a day to increase my reading, I found it thoroughly enjoyable and wished to continue my reading journey in 2023. About halfway through last year, a friend of mine suggested to me that the 10 pages target could be detrimental to my overall reading, as it would encourage me to simply put the book down after just 10 pages (something I later realised it was doing). This year, I chose to do away with the 10 pages target and have decided to just make a pledge to read every day. In the first week of the year, I have already read considerably faster than last year, so I think perhaps my friend was on to something.

    I also realised, reading back on last years review scores, that I was a very generous reviewer. I think this was because I did not have enough experience to know what made a book good or bad. I hope that my reviews can be more reflective of the overall reading experience this year.

    Book 6: Memoirs of a Kamikaze by Kazuo Odachi

    Read from: 20/02/2023 to 23/04/2023

    Rating: 5/5

    I only came upon this book by accident whilst watching a video essay about Kamikaze pilots during the second world war. It was used as source material for the video, and was referenced frequently throughout. The gripping title alone was enough to get me interested in the story, and at the time I was in a bit of a frenzy of purchasing Japanese authored books (this can be seen in the chunk of Japanese books I reviews last year). Certain to say, I was amazed at the quality of this book, and the incredibly interesting story that it told.

    The book was written by Kazuo Odachi, a now 96-year-old former Japanese fighter pilot who, after almost 70 years of silence on the matter, decided to tell his story in becoming a Kamikaze. The book details his childhood, and how growing up in a rural area of Japan meant that his main amusement was laying in tall grasses watching pilots train at the local aerodrome. At this age he would also discover the Japanese martial art of Keno, something which he talks about at great length in the latter half of the book, and clearly has had a huge impact of him. When the war began, he was still only a boy, and so he was only able to join up quite close to the end of the war. A very gifted young man, he was selected to become a fighter pilot, and would spend considerably time in the pacific engaged in various fighting missions.

    Kazuo explains how, as the war began to turn against Japan, he – along with many of his friends – were forced to volunteer to become kamikaze pilots. He explains in painful detail the events which unfolded around them, and how they were powerless to decline the request to engage in suicide missions. Much mystery surrounds the motivations of Kamnikaze pilots, but Kazuo repeatedly states that no one actually wanted to be made to do it, but felt that it was the right course of action to preserve Japan and keep the country safe. He reflects on this a lot in the later half of this book, and states repeatedly that he lives his life to the fullest in honour of the men who gave their lives before him. Flying 8 unsuccessful Kamikaze missions (more common then you would think), Kazuo also goes over how lucky he feels to be alive and how easily it could have been him dead instead.

    The second half of the book covers his life post-war, his time as a policeman and dealing with Tokyo’s criminal gangs. He also talks in great depth of his love of Kendo, and how he still continues to practice the martial art, even in his advanced old age.

    I really enjoyed this book, it gave a very insightful view into a point in history which is cloaked in misinformation and ignorance of understanding. Kazuo eloquently and expertly paints a vivid picture of his experiences, and does not shy away from his more controversial opinions on the events that unfolded in his time before, during, and after the war.

    I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of Japan, the second world war, and especially anyone who wishes to know more about the motivations and feelings of the young boys sent off to die in Kamikaze missions. I would posit that it is also helpful in understanding the mindset of those people who commit contemporary suicide attacks today. An excellent read!

    Book 7: Macbeth by William Shakespeare

    Read from: 23/04/2023 to 04/05/2023

    Rating: 4/5

    I found this book at the bottom of my brother’s old school bag whilst we were cleaning out the attic, safe to say it had been left there for quite a long time, probably around 5 years at this point. I am remarkably pleased that I came upon this old schoolroom copy because it came with a handy study/reading guide alongside it which added more historical and literary context to what was being said. I am glad for this because, as I am sure you can understand, a lot of what Shakespeare writes is not always easy to decipher given the differences between contemporary modern English and Tudor English – lots of ‘thys’, ‘thous’, and ‘thees’ can get a bit tedious after a while. If you’re going to try and read this, and you aren’t fluent in Tudor English, I would recommend finding a copy that comes with a study guide.

    A thrilling tale with many twists and turns, Macbeth showcases Shakespeare’s ability to subvert the expectations of the reader (or viewer, as this is supposed to be a theatrical performance, not really a novel). The tale of Macbeth is based in medieval Scotland, and follows the titular Macbeth and his wife, as he navigates his options after being promised that he, but not his children, would become King of Scotland by three witches. Driven mad by their prediction, Macbeth’s attempts to secure Kingship and then ensure that his hypothetical children do proceed to be monarchs themselves, have tragic results. In a futile attempt to both secure and then change his own destiny, he betrays himself and everyone around him.

    I wont spoil any major details of the story, at the very least because you were probably taught them at school at one point or another. I would instead like to talk briefly about the importance of this book for the English literary tradition and culture which it represents. Indeed, we often take for granted just how much of our contemporary understanding of ‘what makes a good plotline’ comes from Shakespeare and his influences at the time. The mans work stands high above contemporary work of its time, and it would be easy to forget just how ahead of his time he really was. His work stands as a testament to his genius, and to this day still casts a large shadow over what we consider a good or bad story. This is remarkably impressive for a man who lived a half a millennia ago.

    Reading Macbeth, much like reading any of Shakespeare is a lot like learning Latin. You might not enjoy it; it’s very confusing; and a lot of the time you are left wondering what in the world anyone is talking about; but at the very least, it can give you a good and grounded understanding of the history of your own language, where certain tropes come from, and how you could use them yourself more often in your own speech.

    Overall, I would recommend this book. I am disappointed that I never got to study it at school, and I am glad that I have been able to read it now instead.

    Book 8: The History of the Spurn Point Lighthouses by G de Boer

    Read from: 04/05/2023 to 18/05/2023

    Rating: 4/5

    I appreciate just how incredibly niche and uninteresting this book must seem to the average reader. I would argue that it is even less relevant than the ‘Trans-Siberian Rail Guide’ book which I read and reviewed last year (which was written to give directions to western travellers boarding the now obsolete Soviet railway system). However, as someone who actually lives very close to Spurn Point with a keen interest in lighthouses (yes, I am that boring) I found it quite an interesting read.

    The book, as the title suggests, details the history of the various lighthouse projects which took place on the Spurn Point (for those who don’t know, this is a large sand bank at the mouth of the Humber estuary) from the early 1600’s to the 1960’s (when the book was written).

    I completely understand why this seems uninteresting at first glance; but the book, almost accidentally, ends up discussing more about the complex social and legal situations in place in Britain in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries than it does about the lighthouses themselves.

    The book details the true stories of the various warring factions in British maritime trade politics: the three Trinity House guilds (London, Hull, and Newcastle); sea captains; wealthy merchants; land developers; fleets of solicitors; ambitious venture capitalists; the fading aristocracy; parliamentary meddlers; and even the King of England (not to forget Cromwell of course). It provides a genuinely interesting insight into all of these interest groups and their constant struggle for control over the land and waterways of England, framed nicely around the construction of a highly controversial lighthouse in a rather uncontroversial part of Britain.

    Perhaps you aren’t particularly interested in the history of lighthouses on Spurn Point, but if you would like to learn a little bit more about the seemingly ridiculous and overcomplicated nature of competing factions in Britain from the 1600s onwards, I would sincerely recommend this book. It’s short, it refuses to ramble on endlessly, and it has some genuinely amusing moments tucked away inside.

    Book 9: Dune (Dune #1) by Frank Herbert

    Read from: 18/05/2023 to 22/06/2023

    Rating: 5/5

    A couple of years ago my dad mentioned that he was really excited to see the new Dune film that was coming out… I was amazed by this statement – my father has never expressed any interest in any film made after 1990, and I was absolutely shocked to see him genuinely excited about a new film. After a bit of prodding, I discovered that the Dune series were his favourite books, and that he still had all his original copies stuffed away in the loft somewhere. Intrigued by this revelation, I watched the Dune film when it came out, and also thoroughly enjoyed it.

    A few months later, after seeing how much I had enjoyed the film, I was bought a copy by a friend, and it had been sitting on the shelf at home ever since. I have an immediate disgust reaction to long books, they remind me too much of the musty yellow paged old tomes on my grandmas book case which I was forced to read as a child to ‘practice my grammar’. Perpetually worried that, once I started reading it, it would take me months to complete, I was overjoyed when I found myself unable to put the book down. It was a thoroughly brilliant read, and I cannot recommend it enough.

    The book is set in the very distant future, where man has conquered much of the known universe, and a neo-feudal system has been established to govern it. Computers which mimic humans (referred to as ‘thinking machines’) have been completely abolished, and humanity relies heavily on a drug-like substance known as ‘spice melange’ to achieve a heightened state of clairvoyance to navigate the stars. Three main power structures exist in the setting: The Emperor (an all powerful ruler), The Lansraad (a group of all the noble houses), and The Spacing Guild (an organisation of space navigators). They control shares in the ‘CHOAM Company’ which is the main source of the ‘spice’ which can only be found on the desert planet Arrakis.

    Duke Leto Atreides is forced by the emperor to govern Arrakis and take it out of the control of his bitter rival, Baron Harkonen. After arriving, it becomes clear that he has been put into a trap, and the forces of the Harkonens are very much still in place on the planet. Leto’s son, Paul, must work with the planet’s natives, the Fremen, to defeat the Harkonens and secure the future of his noble house.

    I could write pages and pages more about this story, but I have no intention of spoiling the plot for you. This book is fantastic and had me totally gripped by it for the month I was reading it. It lives up to the hype and is absolutely fantastic, definitely one worth reading.

    Book 10: How to be a Conservative by Sir Roger Scruton

    Read from: 23/06/2023 to 31/12/2023

    Rating: 3/5

    If you truly enjoy political theory and are interested in learning about small-c conservatism, I would recommend the book. Scruton clearly and (somewhat) briefly lays out the case for it here. He uses it to discuss the truths in Socialism, Capitalism, and conservatism – which he seems to perceive as a middle ground between the two.

    This book took me almost 6 months to read because large sections of it are painfully boring. I was devastated by how much of a slog fest this piece has been to get through. After finding myself unable to pick this book up, I let myself slide and just started reading the other books in my collection at the same time instead – something I have never done before.

    I had the same reaction reading Marx and other political theory books last year and in the past. I just couldn’t bring myself to carry on. I find the subject extremely boring. I think my personal issue lies in the fact that these types of work are by no means fictitious but are also not truly non-fiction. Theory seems to lie in a cursed middle ground of quasi-non-fiction which I just don’t care for.

    Some aspects of the book are genuinely very interesting – Scruton discusses his time in Communist Czechoslovakia before the collapse of the USSR dodging the StB secret police and giving lecturers to disenfranchised ‘pro-democracy’ students in attics; which was an insightful moment. He talks a lot about the importance of good aesthetics and beauty in public life, which was a refreshing chapter to read through. Unfortunately, the rest of the book comes across as a bit of a snooze-fest. He himself admits that it is difficult to make conservatism sexy, and this book is certainly a confirmation of that.

    As stated at the beginning, I would recommend the book if you are genuinely passionate about political theory. Otherwise, it might be best to give it a miss. A friend of mine joked with my whilst I was reading it that “It’s a great book to quote from, not one to actually read”, and I think he is more or less correct about this.

    This is the second installment in a three-part series. Follow The Mallard for part three!


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    Ride (read) or Die: 2023 Book Report (Part I)

    Following on from last year’s experiment of attempting to read at least 10 pages of a book a day to increase my reading, I found it thoroughly enjoyable and wished to continue my reading journey in 2023. About halfway through last year, a friend of mine suggested to me that the 10 pages target could be detrimental to my overall reading, as it would encourage me to simply put the book down after just 10 pages (something I later realised it was doing). This year, I chose to do away with the 10 pages target and have decided to just make a pledge to read every day. In the first week of the year, I have already read considerably faster than last year, so I think perhaps my friend was on to something.

    I also realised, reading back on last years review scores, that I was a very generous reviewer. I think this was because I did not have enough experience to know what made a book good or bad. I hope that my reviews can be more reflective of the overall reading experience this year.

    Book 1: Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

    Read from: 01/01/2023 to 08/01/2023

    Rating: 4/5

    When I was about 12 years old, I read 1984. Perhaps a bit too young to fully grasp the meaning of the book, I was still obsessed by it. I fell in love the ‘alternative history’ genre, which is why I am so surprised that I did not read this book sooner. Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ gave me a great deal of nostalgia for my younger reading days. It brought back that same feeling of intrigue and dread which I had felt whilst reading Orwell’s work.

    The book is set in the distant future, about 600 years after Henry Ford developed the assembly line and mass production. Ford is revered as a sort of semi-deity amongst the population, who regularly use his name instead of ‘God’. A society which praises stability and predictability above all else, no one knows of passion or love, no one is born naturally (instead being birthed through artificial methods), and a rigorous caste system is enforced by making some people stupid, and some people clever during the artificial birth process – alphas sit at the top, and epsilons at the very bottom. Children are ‘conditioned’ to be extremely comfortable with the roles they have been given in life, and to actively avoid intermingling and seeking activities the controllers of the world deem wrong. Sex is easily acquired, and children are encouraged to engage in ‘erotic activities’ with each other from a very early age. People live shorter but considerably happier lives with little to no unpleasant experiences, and regularly take ‘soma’, a near perfect drug with no hangover or negative side effects.

    One of the main characters of the book, Bernard Marx, is a misfit. A designated Alpha, he is considerably shorter than his peers, and has been marked out because of this (as shortness is linked to being a member of a lower caste). He doesn’t understand why he is unhappy with the system around him, but he feels uneasy about it. For example, he has a strong attraction to another alpha, Lenina Crowne, but doesn’t understand why. He is skirting along the fringes of ideas like monogamy and chastity but can’t quite explain why he would want this.

    Bernard takes Lenina to a ‘Savage Reserve’ (an area designated as not worth developing), and accidentally meets with a man called John who, through no fault of his own, has been stuck on this savage reservation, with the actual savages, since birth. Bernard takes the savage back to civilisation to attempt to learn more from him and his strange ideas about love, modesty, romance, and passion.

    I really enjoyed the literary devices employed by Huxley in the book. His writing style is straight forward and relatively easy to follow. Sometimes it felt a bit too straight forward, however, with only one predictable twist and an ending which felt a bit flat and unexciting. Still, however, it was a pleasant read which conveyed the stories message (that a world free from want and sacrifice is not necessarily a good one) in a way that was subtle and very interesting. Overall, a book that I would thoroughly recommend.

    Book 2: Storm of Steel by Ernst Junger

    Read from: 08/01/2023 to 14/02/2023

    Rating: 5/5

    This book was given to me by a very good friend. He had, by some miracle, found this 1941 copy in a second-hand bookshop. Knowing that I was desperate to get my hands on an original translation copy of Storm of Steel before I had sullied myself by reading a more contemporary translation, he bought it for me to read.

    What a superb book. What a fascinating read. Ernst Junger takes us on an incredible journey through his experiences in the first world war as a young officer in the German army with immense attention to detail and a spectacular writing ability. Alongside his more general accounts of the fighting, Ernst interweaves his own thoughts on the state of warfare, the reasoning behind conflict, and the virtue in soldiering. Ernst does not shy away from declaring that taking part in the first world war was one of the most foundational and important experiences of his life. He seems to have genuinely enjoyed his time as a soldier and was sincerely disappointed at Germany’s surrender. His rationale behind these beliefs are interesting, and he goes in to great detail to explain his personal philosophy around conflict, and why he believes that soldiering is inherently a good thing.

    Not only does Ernst make haste to convince you of the benefits of being a soldier, but he also goes into detail to describe what makes a good person, or more specifically, a good man. Ernst talks a lot of honour, courage, and honesty in his writing. He speaks of his enemies, the English and French, in high esteem, and tells the reader that he tried to keep his own men in good standards. He discusses the importance of valour and of dying with courage (he himself never surrendered and was wounded multiple times). His philosophy on this is very interesting and has been a very jarring counter to the mainstream ‘war is bad’ angle that is taken by other accounts of World War One.

    The general structure of the book is good. Ernst tries to remain as consistent as possible with his timing and pacing. However, due to the nature of a book about a war, it is not always possible to keep pacing at a consistent rate. This is understandable and does not detract from the book. Just be aware that there are moments when nothing is happening which are suddenly punctuated by moments in which everything seems to be happening.

    I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone interested in the first world war. It has been an exciting and amazing read which has proven to be a favourite of the year so far. Thank you again to my friend Andrew for buying it for me, I appreciate it very much.

    Book 3: The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

    Read from: 14/02/2023 to 19/02/2023

    Rating: 3/5

    I only know about this book from various niche references and jokes on twitter. I assume this is one of those books that is compulsory for American High School students to read (as they seem to be the type most frequently discussing it online and in the review sections). The concept of the story interested me – a man becoming a bug, how absurd? But I really had no bias going into this book. I normally understand at least a little bit about the books I am reading before I read them, but I had absolutely no clue what I was getting into when I read this.

    Kafka is known for his absurdist and transformative pieces of work, and I can understand why this short story has become his most famous. The book focusses on the story of Gregor Samsa, a travelling salesman who wakes up one morning to discover he has transformed into a giant bug. You would assume at this point that more context would be given, but no. Kafka doesn’t supply us with anything else – only the knowledge that Gregor is now a bug and must live as a bug. Being the sole breadwinner for his parents and sister, his metamorphosis causes immediate problems for all of them, and forces his relatives to actually go out and find work in order to support themselves for a change. All while this is happening, Gregor is stuck at home and simply crawls around, as a bug would. Gregor becomes completely dehumanised whilst his family struggle and cope with their new situation, eventually not even being referred to as ‘Gregor’ but simply as a monster.

    The book’s theme is heavily centred on the idea of dehumanisation and alienation. Gregor is beloved and revered by his parents and sister because he earns a very good salary and keeps them well. As soon as he is no longer able to do that (Kafka using the transformation into a bug as a metaphor for ‘becoming useless’) his family still care for him but grow to despise him as they are forced to take up all of the work that he once did to support them. His family, however, do become stronger without him. Suddenly forced into the ‘real world’ again matures them all. His father takes up a respectable job and literally becomes stronger and healthier. His sister matures and develops into a ‘full woman’, and his mother is able to cope with the grief and stress of life at home again in a less pathetic way. Overall, the experience is not entirely bad for the family. Kafka is using this to reflect how dependence can make a person weak, and having the rug finally pulled from under them can improve their lot.

    The book is extremely short and can be read in a few hours if you were really desperate to finish it. Kafka is know for his novellas and short stories, and this is no exception. Overall I liked the book but I felt no great connection to it. It was ‘fine’. I often found myself bored by it and couldn’t be bothered to continue reading. Kafka’s writing style is not my favourite in this piece of work. Overall I would recommend it (especially if you want to get the kudos for reading a classic novella in a short amount of time), but I would say that you shouldn’t expect something breath-taking, its an alright book. I hope the next few short stories I read of his are a bit more engaging.

    Book 4: In the Penal Colony by Franz Kafka

    Read from: 19/02/2023 to 19/02/2023

    Rating: 4/5

    I only own this book because my copy of ‘The Metamorphosis’ came with it as well (along with ‘The Judgement). Kafka’s stories are very short, so it makes sense that they would bundle them all together like this, and I am glad that I can get a few different stories all together in one book.

    This story is a very narrow one. A nameless visitor to a nameless penal colony is being shown around a piece of equipment by a nameless officer whilst a nameless soldier and a nameless condemned man watch on. The officer goes on to explain that this piece of equipment is a torture and execution device which was created by the penal colony’s previous commandant who is now dead. The officer laments the condition of the machine and says that executions have become very unpopular after the commandant’s death, and he is the sole advocate for it now (with promises that a silent majority still agrees with him).

    The officer is desperately excited to explain how the machine works in excruciating detail. He is extremely persistent in explaining to the visitor why it is so important and why it is an effective method of punishment.

    The overall meaning of this book is difficult to grasp specifically, but can be read in different ways. It can be potentially read as a critique of totalitarianism, with the officer taking the law into his own hands and becoming a tyrant. The book can also be read as an analogy to the Old and New Testament (the old commandant being an analogy for God in the Old Testament and the new commandant being an analogy for God in the New Testament). Another common reading of the book is that it is a critique of carrying out acts which no longer have meaning or relevance to the bitter end – few people like the machine, so why does the officer continue to use it?

    This book is very short and can be comfortably read in a day. I preferred this book to The Metamorphosis. I am not sure why, I just felt more inclined to want to read it. The flow of the story is more readable, and I found the characters and their plots more engaging, hence the 4 out of 5 star rating instead of a 3. If you’re looking for a short classic, I would recommend it.

    Book 5: The Judgement: A Story for F. by Franz Kafka

    Read from: 19/02/2023 to 20/02/2023

    Rating: 4/5

    Much like the previous book, I only read this because it was at the back of my copy of ‘The Metamorphosis’. This is a very short story, the shortest of the three that I have read so far. Owing to that, please don’t expect a long review as there is not a great deal to talk about.

    The book is very narrow and focusses on only two main characters, a son and his father. The son is in the process of inviting his friend, who lives in Russia, to attend his wedding. His father, who is clearly senile and afraid of being forgotten by his son, has a very strange reaction to this – initially claiming he doesn’t know the Russian friend, before finally admitting that he does know him and then claiming that he, in fact, is a far better friend to the Russian than his son is.

    It is difficult for me to explain this book more fully without giving too much away, as it is such a short story. But I do find it very odd. Kafka’s style of writing and his general themes continue to boggle and confuse me, but I am glad for this – it is quite refreshing to read things which are so absurd and strange.

    The more I read his work, the more I become interested in Kafka. When I first started reading him, I was quite put off. I found his style very rough and difficult to ease in to. But, after getting more acquainted with his work, I’m actually starting to enjoy the lunacy. I have a much better grasp on what ‘Kafkaesque’ means now, and I would be more than happy to read more of his work in the future.

    Overall, a good book which can be read in less than an hour. If you were interested in getting into Kafka, this is a good one to start with given its shortness. After doing some research, I also discovered that Kafka himself thought that this was one of his best pieces of work – yet another reason to read this if you wanted to ‘get into’ Kafka.

    This is the first installment in a three-part series. Follow The Mallard for part two!


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    We Must Ban Cousin Marriages

    The fact that Charles II of Spain lived to the age of thirty-eight was nothing short of a miracle- and that’s not because he was born in the 17th century. His nearly four-decade life was filled with physical and mental ailments that would be hard to live with even today’s medical technology.

    He flew through wet nurses due to continually biting their nipples until his mother ordered them to stop. Charles could not walk until he was four and walk until he was six, having trouble with both for the rest of his life. He suffered from severe depression and unknown learning and developmental disabilities. On top of this, he had hallucinations, seizures, a congenital heart defect and premature ejaculation. An autopsy revealed a body that sounds like something out of a horror film- one single shrunken testicle, a body without a single drop of blood and rotted intestines. Despite his litany of ailments, he was reportedly a kind boy who enjoyed hunting. Whilst he was clearly at fault in terms of infertility, his poor wives were blamed for not bearing an heir.

    The problem with Charles, inheritor of the famous Habsburg chin, was his family line. The Habsburg clan famously interbred and between 1515 and his birth in 1661, no new members were brought to the genetic line. His family tree reads like a wreath and he is related multiple times to each of his family members. Charles’ father was born to two first cousins, whilst his mother was the daughter of an uncle and niece. His parents were similarly uncle and niece. Charles’ sister Margaret Theresa managed to avoid the worst of it all, but she was married off to a man who was both her cousin and her uncle. Only one of her four children managed to pass infancy- she was originally intended to marry her uncle, but never did.

    Years of cousin marriage in royal circles led to poor outcomes. Many of these marriages were more distant, but first cousin marriages were not at all rare, particularly on the continent. Philip II of Spain and Maria Manuel were double first cousins, and the only son they produced was so severely disturbed that there was no way that he could take the throne. Philip would marry thrice again- to his first cousin once removed Mary I of England that resulted in no children, the unrelated Elisabeth of Valois with whom he had two very intelligent, capable daughters, and to his niece Anna of Austria, with whom he had one living son.

    Another example is that of Philip’s daughter Isabella Clara Eugenia, who married her first cousin Albert VIII of Austria. None of her three children lived past childhood. Philip’s other daughter Catalina Micaela married an unrelated husband but was weakened by having children every year. His son Philip also married his first cousin once removed but fortunately had five children live to adulthood.

    We imagine these cousin marriages happening hundreds of years ago, but it is not quite as extinct as one might hope. Even more worryingly, first cousin marriage is perfectly legal in the UK. There’s a stereotype in the Southern USA that white trash folk marry their cousins, but it’s actually completely illegal in most of those states. Here, however, you can go ahead and marry your uncle’s kid.

    The practice is most common within Muslims in the UK, with areas such as Bradford seeing large numbers marrying their cousin. The BBC recently reported that cousin marriage for Pakistanis and those of Pakistani origin in Bradford dropped from 60% to 46%- a drop, but not a large enough drop to be sure.

    This needs to stop.

    First, we must understand why people marry their first cousins. Whilst the Quran lists people who it is forbidden to marry and have relations with, such as siblings, uncles and aunts, cousins are not one of them. Furthermore, across all religious lines, there are economic and social reasons. Money is kept in the family instead of outside clans, tribes and faiths. It keeps a person linked to their family, with an expectation that they will have a stronger connection. For some whose family are originally from abroad, it might keep them linked to their heritage in an alien culture.

    The problem, however, lies with the results.

    When a person marries a close relation, there is a higher chance of genetic problems for any children. The chance is further increased if there is a family history of cousin marriages. The risk of birth defects increases from 3% to 6% in a cousin marriage- not a huge jump, but an unnecessary and entirely avoidable one for innocent kids. When it comes to fatal genetic disorders, children of South Asian parents are overrepresented in the data- they make up 65% of deaths but 37% of the population. Cousin marriage resulted in the death of 53% of children mentioned.

    A 2017 study found that 1 in 5 child deaths in East London came from the parents being related. A 2010 study found 700 children a year were born with genetic disorders as a result of cousin marriage. It is not a minute problem. In a recent episode of the thoroughly fascinating show Cause of Death, which follows the work of a coroner, a young man of thirty-three died suddenly of a rare disorder. Two of his siblings had also died, whilst at least two of the others had tested positive for the disorder. Their parents are cousins.

    When it comes to pregnancy, women are told not to take any risks that may harm the baby. She is required to stop smoking, drinking and consuming caffeine. Doing any of those things means risks to the unborn child, so why do we permit cousins to marry when we know the risks?

    Even Islamic countries have picked up on the issues, though they have obviously taken no steps to ban the practice. Cousin marriage is very high, even the norm, in Saudi Arabia, and is a nation home to a high number of genetic disorders. As a result, Saudi Arabia has mandated premarital genetic screening for couples. If the results are revealed to be risky, then there’s a way out for the couple. It is said that 60% of couples have ended their engagement after receiving bad news. Iran has implemented a similar system, as well as six other Middle Eastern nations.

    If these countries can do something, why can’t we?


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    On the Killing of Sir David

    This article was originally published on October 2021.

    On the 15th of October 2021, at around midday, police were called to Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, where a man had reportedly been stabbed 17 times. That man was Conservative MP Sir David Amess, who died roughly 2 hours later. The second assassination of a parliamentarian in 5 years, Sir David Amess MP was murdered whilst carrying out his duty as a representative, attending his weekly constituency surgery.

    As with similar tragedies, the conversation surrounding the event is entirely comprised of people fighting over which conversation “we should be having” instead. For instance, people of certain political dispositions were more aggravated by the press reporting that the assassin was of Somali origin, rather than the actual murder itself; wanting to talk about “muh racist Daily Mail” than anything of importance or substance. As disorienting as tragedies are, they can be a good source of sobriety, putting on full display the true nature of peoples’ character and allegiance.

    Whilst this should be a wakeup call for Britain to radically reform its asylum and immigration policy, mere policy reform will be a job half-done and therefore a lesson only half-learned.

    To summarise what has happened: a man from Somalia immigrated to the United Kingdom, acquired British citizenship, and assassinated a sitting MP in broad daylight. Leaving aside the fact that it shouldn’t be so absurdly easy for someone outside of Britain to enter the country and kill one of its elected representatives, it must be noted that there are two possibilities given this information: either the killer held his extremist views before entering the UK, or he was radicalized here.

    If the former, it would simply be a case of reducing or shutting off immigration from designated “high-risk” countries. However, given the prevailing ideology of the political and media establishment, such a solution would undoubtedly be resisted at every turn. If the latter, the need for policy reform doesn’t change (it shouldn’t be so easy to enter the United Kingdom from a country like Somalia, acquire British citizenship, kill an MP, etc.).

    However, what does change is the focus of the problem. If the assassin adopted his extremist views after he arrived in Britain, it means that Britain is producing, at the very least permitting, people to exist within its own borders that actively want to destroy it. In short: our policy problems stem from a deeper, ideological, and existential problem. Britain is indifferent to its own survival.

    Some may argue that this problem has been diagnosed before, and they would be right. If so, why diagnose the problem again? What good is there repeating what people know? Whilst Chesterton correctly notes that ‘obvious’ things cease to be so overtime, courtesy of people not wanting to remind themselves of what is ‘obvious’, that is not the point being made here. The point is that the remedies proscribed in recent years to this problem have been ineffective.

    Ever since 9/11, the hegemonic counter-Islamist rhetoric has been “We’re the West. We’re more liberal than you, we’re more diverse than you, we’re more inclusive than you, we’re more tolerant than you, and if you cross us there will be hell to pay!”. As with discussions surrounding the need to create cohesion between native and immigrant populations, “integration” is touted as the solution to mitigating Islamism at home. By demanding allegiance to a common liberal culture, espousing fundamental values of tolerance, inclusivity, diversity, and other vaguely defined terms, we can create a stable society.

    When the shared identity of a society is liberty, is tolerance, is inclusion, is diversity, it will tear itself, both ideologically and in practice, apart by its own contradictions. Liberty produces chaos, leading to surveillance and bureaucracy not necessary in high-trust, homogenous societies. Tolerance produces indifference to forces bent on destroying society and the Tolerance which it provides. Inclusion can only produce puritanical exclusion, for no amount of Inclusion will ever be inclusive enough. Diversity produces social fragmentation, which can only be overcome by producing a new monoculture; a watered-down culture, portioned by diversity officers, that nobody can identify with. Ultimately, the attempt to encompass all, necessarily alienates all. This is the doctrine of modern political liberalism.

    The logical conclusion of this ideological farce is what sensible people have known all along: order is a prerequisite to liberty, unanimity is a prerequisite to tolerance, exclusion is a prerequisite to inclusion, homogeneity is a prerequisite to diversity; all provided until they threaten the basis of their existence. These are courtesies, not identities; they are courtesies only possible when rooted in something more fundamental. As a result of this project, we have become a nation of identikits, slogans churned out by committees, and cohesion which relies on debilitating consumerism, ever-complicating bureaucracy and tyrannical officialdom; a society held together by paper instead of blood, and a nation that cannot inspire loyalty in its inhabitants. On the whole, not a sustainable state of affairs.

    At bottom level, our problem is a near flat out denial of the British in-group. Liberal technocracy has gutted Britishness and been prancing around in its skin. Over 1000 years – roughly 300 years of them in monarchical union – the United Kingdom, a bounty of organically developing culture, has amounted to Gogglebox, PG Tips, and twee jokes about the rain. It’s about politely asking if “the queue starts here” for the polling station. Remember: STRONG BRITAIN, GREAT NATION, STRONG BRITAIN, GREAT NAAAAATION.

    Perhaps because we are an island, relatively untouched and untroubled throughout our history, especially when compared to the geographical basket case of continental Europe, that we have never had to think about the nature of our identity in as much depth, making it suspectable to cynical exploitation by our current elites. See, the obvious isn’t so obvious!

    Given the repellent artificiality of our culture, is it any surprise that it spits out extremists of all shapes and sizes? Our inability, often refusal, to define ourselves, opting instead to abstract our identity away, leaves us vulnerable to evildoers that yearn to see the vacuum filled. Habri Ali was not only a naturalised British citizen, but he was also known to the police courtesy of his referral to Prevent. This man had every form of “education” about our “values” that could be provided, and it changed nothing.

    As much as liberal democrats – and even reactionary nationalists – might not like to accept it, nationalism and democracy are conjoined twins, the will of the people is wrapped up in the idea of “a people” of common identity rooted to a particular place, making the acceptance of democratic decisions possible. Bleating about the dangers of identity politics doesn’t change the fact that British identity politics must necessarily be treated as an exception.

    When the future of Britain hangs in the balance, it is more that right to ask: “who are the British people?”. If we are serious about making amends, the “conversation” we need to be having is this: what is Britishness? In my mind, one thing is for certain: a foreign-born Islamist that stabs a representative of the British nation to death isn’t British, and if he is considered British, then he shouldn’t be. I don’t care if he knows where St. Paul’s Cathedral is.


    Photo Credit.

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