Welcome, Guest
You have to register before you can post on our site.

Username
  

Password
  





Search Forums

(Advanced Search)

Forum Statistics
» Members: 8,110
» Latest member: sexcredit46
» Forum threads: 2,077
» Forum posts: 49,343

Full Statistics

Online Users
There are currently 58 online users.
» 0 Member(s) | 58 Guest(s)

Latest Threads
Generational Dynamics Wor...
Forum: Theories Of History
Last Post: John J. Xenakis
5 hours ago
» Replies: 3,931
» Views: 863,729
What the next First Turni...
Forum: Turnings
Last Post: Eric the Green
7 hours ago
» Replies: 8
» Views: 73
Election 2020
Forum: General Political Discussion
Last Post: Bob Butler 54
8 hours ago
» Replies: 996
» Views: 51,379
The Partisan Divide on Is...
Forum: General Political Discussion
Last Post: Eric the Green
Today, 01:24 AM
» Replies: 1,996
» Views: 70,857
The Coronavirus
Forum: General Political Discussion
Last Post: Eric the Green
Yesterday, 11:56 PM
» Replies: 1,076
» Views: 42,071
9/11 memories based on bi...
Forum: Turnings
Last Post: ragnarkar
Yesterday, 05:45 PM
» Replies: 5
» Views: 362
I'm a sceptic that the 4t...
Forum: Turnings
Last Post: ragnarkar
Yesterday, 05:09 PM
» Replies: 295
» Views: 14,074
Coming Age of Aquarius
Forum: Religion, Spirituality and Astrology
Last Post: Eric the Green
Yesterday, 03:41 PM
» Replies: 15
» Views: 152
Anti-generation-ers
Forum: Generations
Last Post: Camz
Yesterday, 02:50 PM
» Replies: 1
» Views: 37
TikTokers?
Forum: Generations
Last Post: Camz
Yesterday, 02:12 PM
» Replies: 4
» Views: 57

 
  The GOP Has Been HIJACKED!
Posted by: Anthony '58 - 05-06-2016, 12:45 PM - Forum: General Political Discussion - Replies (217)

And in a very, very good way.

Donald Trump's victory means that Darwinian economics and moral judgmentalism are out in the Republican Party, and in American conservatism as a whole, and "America First" nationalism and isolationism are in.

The great era that began with Ronald Reagan in 1980 ended on Tuesday - just as George McGovern's clinching of the Democratic Presidential nomination in 1972 ended the great era of national liberalism in the Democratic Party that began with FDR's nomination four decades earlier.

Print this item

  Compare/contrast American Presidential elections
Posted by: pbrower2a - 05-06-2016, 11:47 AM - Forum: History Forum - Replies (57)

When all is said and done, I think that the Obama and Eisenhower Presidencies are going to look like good analogues. Both Presidents are chilly rationalists. Both respect legal precedents more than they trust legislation and the transitory will of the people in states. Both are practically scandal-free administrations. Both started with a troublesome war that both found their way out of. Neither did much to 'grow' the strength of their Parties in either House of Congress. In the 2008 election, Barack Obama won only one state that Eisenhower lost in either 1952 or 1956 (North Carolina); in 2012 he did not win any state that Dwight Eisenhower ever lost. This is amazing in view of the partisan identities of the two Presidents.

It may be premature, but I expect historians to hold Eisenhower and Obama similar in quality.

Despite the great differences in curriculae vitae, Eisenhower and Obama seem to have something very much in common: both are members of Reactive generations. 60-ish Reactives (George Washington, John Adams, Grover Cleveland, Harry Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower) may be the best sorts of leaders that Reactive leaders can be: cautious, mellow, respectful of precedent, and more trusting in legality than in the contemporary passion. Even if Barack Obama is one of the youngest Presidents ever elected and won't reach or surpass 60 as President (barring an amendment to undo the 22nd Amendment) he seems to act like someone in his sixties.

(The worst Reactive leaders are amoral, angry, cynical, bigoted leaders with an agenda of seeking revenge against real and imagined personal enemies -- like Adolf Hitler and Mao Zedong, puppets of tyrannical leaders such as Vidkun Quisling and Mátyás Rákosi, and such brutal functionaries of tyrants as Andrei Vishinsky and  Lavrenti Beria). When all is said and done, I think that the Obama and Eisenhower Presidencies are going to look like good analogues. Both Presidents are chilly rationalists. Both respect legal precedents more than they trust legislation and the transitory will of the people in states. Both are practically scandal-free administrations. Both started with a troublesome war that both found their way out of. Neither did much to 'grow' the strength of their Parties in either House of Congress.

The definitive moderate Republican may have been Dwight Eisenhower, and I have heard plenty of Democrats praise the Eisenhower Presidency. He went along with Supreme Court rulings that outlawed segregationist practices, stayed clear of the McCarthy bandwagon, and let McCarthy implode.

[Image: genusmap.php?year=2008&ev_c=1&pv_p=1&ev_...&NE3=2;3;7]
 
gray -- did not vote in 1952 or 1956
white -- Eisenhower twice, Obama twice
deep blue -- Republican all four elections
light blue -- Republican all but 2008 (I assume that greater Omaha went for Ike twice)
light green -- Eisenhower once, Stevenson once, Obama never
dark green -- Stevenson twice, Obama never
pink -- Stevenson twice, Obama once

No state voted Democratic all four times, so no state is in deep red.

(This site uses the very old red for Democrats and blue for Republicans... I do not make waves about that in that website).

To be sure, one would expect any winning President to win almost entirely states that FDR won in 1936 (all then voting except Vermont and Maine), that Nixon won in 1972 (all but Massachusetts), or Reagan won in 1980 (all but Minnesota).  But the overlay between Obama and Eisenhower fits far better includes all four such states that FDR, Nixon, and Reagan won in nearly-complete wins of the entire USA. As another coincidence, Eisenhower was the first Republican to win Virginia since 1928 (24 years) and Obama was the first Democrat to win the Old Dominion since 1964 (44 years) -- and both won the state twice.   


Now, Carter vs. Obama:

If anyone has any doubt that the Presidential Election of 1976 is ancient history for all practical purposes:

Carter 1976, Obama 2008/2012    

[Image: genusmap.php?year=2004&ev_c=1&pv_p=1&ev_...&NE3=2;1;5]

Carter 1976, Obama twice  red
Carter 1976, Obama once pink
Carter 1976, Obama never yellow
Ford 1976, Obama twice white
Ford 1976, Obama once light blue
Ford 1976, Obama never blue

....As you can see, Carter lost a raft of states (among them California, Oregon, Washington, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, and Maine) that Democratic nominees for President have not lost after 1988, and some states (Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, and New Mexico) that Democrats have not LOST in Presidential wins. On the other side, Carter was the last Democrat to win Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, or Texas. Barring a major realignment of the states in partisan identity or an electoral blowout, Republicans are unlikely to win more than a state or two in white and Democrats are unlikely to win more than a state or two in yellow for the next couple of decades..

Print this item

  When to report a thread
Posted by: Webmaster - 05-06-2016, 11:30 AM - Forum: Announcements - No Replies

I plan on moderating this forum a bit more than the old forum was moderated, as the lack of moderation was turning people off.  I won’t be reading every thread and every post, so use the report feature to report a thread or post in need of moderation.

There are 3 basic reasons to report a thread or post.

  1. When the thread contains personal attacks.
  2. When the thread has drifted from the original topic, this can happen without anyone doing anything wrong conversation naturally drifts, however thread drift makes it difficult for readers to follow the discussion, when there a posts in thread on a different topic the thread can be split. 
  3. When a thread is posted in the wrong forum, mistakes happen and they can be corrected in about 30 seconds.




Print this item

  Political Cycle Model for Saeculum
Posted by: Mikebert - 05-06-2016, 04:53 AM - Forum: Theories Of History - Replies (48)

One of the reasons S&H do not get serious attention from scientifically-inclined social scientists might be because they gave little for scholars to work with.  S&H never game an explicit cause for their cycle. They outlined some causal concepts and proposed a partial verbal model that goes something like this:

 Basically their generations are like those Mannheim discussed.  They are formed by the experience of like-aged persons to history-shaping times that they call social moments.  The define like-age as occupation of a specific phase of life.  In the appendix of Generations they provide an example of an event, a war, that causes people occupying different phases of life to be imprinted into different generations. 

An example is the GI generation, in which the experience of depression and war over 1929-1946 imprints a certain set of attributes (what they call the Civic peer personality or Hero archetype) on those who were in the rising adulthood phase of life forging them into what is known as the Greatest Generation.  So those in the 22-43 age bracket during the 1929-1946 period become members of the GI generation.  Persons born between 1903 and 1907 inclusive would fully occupy the 22-43 age bracket during the 1929-1946 period, and so would constitute “core” GIs.  People born between 1895 and 1915 would spend at least 10 of the years when they were in the 22-43 age bracket during the 1929-1946 period.  Yet the 1895 to 1900 cohorts are considered as Lost, even those they spend more than half of their rising adult years in a 4T.  Similarly the cohorts born 1916-1924 spent more than half of their rising adult years in a 1T, yet they are considered as GIs. 

This problem emerges with all the generations.  If we narrow the formative period we can get something closer to the S&H dates.  Suppose we only consider the period of mobilization 1941-1946.  Now the 1903-1919 years become the core years.  S&H also assert that the coming of age experience is particularly important so let’s assert that anyone who comes of age during the war (i.e. serves) is automatically a member of the GIs and so we add the 1920-24 cohort (who were 22 over 1942-1946) and get GSs as 1903-1924.  This is close enough.

If we do the same thing for the Boomers, we find that if we use formative years of 1982-84 we can construct a Boomer gen born 1941-1960, which is close enough.  The problem is whereas the idea that WW II “forged” the greatest generation makes sense, the idea that the early 1980’s was when the Boomers were forged does not.  In fact this period falls outside of the 1967-1980 2T social moment S&H proposed in Generations. This makes no sense. One has to conclude that their generation-creating process does not work to produce the generations they found.
 
As far as I know, S&H never explored these ideas any further than the cursory treatment they gave in Generations.

Another way to look at this is to flip it around. Instead of having “generational imprinting” occurring over a long period of time (a phase of life) having it occur over a shorter one, say a single year instead.  If we assume that generations are imprinted at their coming of age (which S&H put at age 22) then we simply subtract 22 from their social moments to get the “core years” for their dominant generations to obtain the table below. The portion of the S&H generations outside the core are considered as cusps.
 
Formative moment     Generation      “Core” generation      S&H generation

1967-1980                       Boomers             1945-1958                   1943-1960

1932-1945                       GIs                       1910-1923                    1901-1924

1913-1922                       Lost                      1891-1900                   1883-1900

This way of construction generations works pretty well, but why? To get answer this I turn the focus to politics, in which the formative events are political moments are the generations are political generations, that function very similarly to the core generation concept as we shall see.  I shift to politics for two reasons.  The first is a discussion I had with marc Lamb, whom some of you remember as a troll.  He was that, but he was more and he and I had productive discussions in his early years over 2001-2003.

I came to this site from the longwaves forum, a discussion group (long gone) about economic long cycles or Kondratieffs.  At that time I thought of the saeculum as primarily an economic cycle because there were strong parallels between the two cycles, which I wrote about in a book.  Marc liked my economic stuff, but argued that politics, not economics was the key to the saeculum because all facets of the social world, economics, politics, religion, morals, in short, culture, are represented in one’s politics.

The second reason is that political sciences/historians have done the most work with generations.  Here’s a paper on how the political environment (measured by presidential approval in a given year) shapes people’s party voting preferences as a function of age.  That is, how the experience of a low or high-rated presidential affects your opinion of their party as a function of age.  This opinion-forming caused by historical experience is generational imprinting or “history creates generations”.  Figure 4 shows a plot of how strongly history impacts your political opinions.  The figure shows that generational imprinting happens mostly between the ages of 14 and 30.  If you calculate the cumulative effect of past experience on people in their fifties (when they occupy positions of power) from that figure you find that 50% of their opinion is formed by the age of 22.

Looking at it another way one can consider that people will at some point choose their side and this will likely happen between the ages of 14 to 30, or on average at age 22 with a standard deviation of 4-5 years or so.  That is, people “come of age” politically sometime between 14 and 30, but mostly in the years around age 22.   If we wish to consider a birth cohort, we are talking about large numbers of people.  For the birth cohort the age at which they collective come of age is 22 with a standard error of the mean equal to the standard deviation of the individual divided by the square root of the number of individuals.  For groups of a 100 or more, the standard error will be less than a tenth of the standard deviation and so the age at which a cohort comes of age will be a constant equal to 22.

These arguments justify the generation-creating mechanism outlined above.
How do generations create history?  Well for politics, history would be created by the “history makers”: statesmen, government officials and legislators.  Neil how has collected age data for congressmen, senators, governors and Supreme Court Justices for each year since 1789.  His site provides average ages for the first three for each Congress.  He has a tool from which it is easy to obtain the average age of the fourth groups as a function of time.  I then average these four means for each year and get a parameter I call leader age AL.  This is the average age at which politicians exercise their mature adult role of leadership.  A generation then creates history over the years at which they are age AL. 
 
Simply take a generation and add AL to it and you get their time of history creation.  Or take a period and subtract AL from it and you get the generation that created that history.  Subtract 22 from it and your get that generation created by that history.  What this means is generations create new generations.  A generation born over the specific span then “begets” a generation born AL- 22 years after that span.  That is, generational “replication time” (length) is AL-22.  So back in medieval times when elite lifespans were shorter than today AL was lower, or about 49 (more later about where this value comes from, but for now just bear with me), generational length was 25 years and the saeculum ran about 100 years.  During early modern times lifespans were a bit longer and AL was able 52 or so, and generational length about 28 years.  With the coming of representative government, legislators became important and AL would have to take into consideration their (generation younger ages than the king’s high ministers) and so AL drops to about 45 or 46 and generation length to 23 or 24 years in the 18th century. The saeculum shortens to around 90 years in the 1700’s.
 
So far so good.  But now look at today.  In 2008  AL was 62 giving a replication time of 40 years.  Thus, the youth who went clean for Gene (McCarthy), thrilled to Robert Kennedy and were inspired by MLK and scarred by their deaths of the latter two, begot a generation 40 years later who went in droves for Barrack Obama.  The 2T over 1964-1984 created the Boomer generation (b 1942-1962) who begot the Millennium generation born over ca. 1980- 2002.  This makes sense, but what about this gap between 1962 and 1980.  S&H created a new category of generation.  A less active, recessive generation that we know as GenX.  Similar gaps are found going back, in which sit other recessive generations.
 
The same mechanism that has Boomers begetting Milles, has the Silent begetting GenXers.   Now Boomer and Milles are dominant political generations and COA/create political moments, which roughly correspond to Schlesinger liberal eras.  Recessive political generations, like the Silent and Gen X,  come of age in conservative eras, create the next conservative era and beget a new recessive generation. And so you have two parallel “family trees”.  As you got back AL declines with shorter lifespans, generational replication times shorten and so do the length of political eras and generations.  This shortening is best shown by spacing between critical elections in 1774, 1800, 1828, 1860, 1896, 1932, 1968 and 2008.  This spacing rises from 24 to 40 years right in line with rising replication time. (Note 2008 will likely be confirmed by a Dem victory in the fall, which seems likely).
 
If you go back further you find AL dropped to 44 at points in which replication time is 22 years, and you start to have the same generation coming of age (being created) and creating history at the same time.  A generation cannot create itself!  So some time before AL gets this short we have to shift from having a recessive and dominant generations to just having dominant ones.   In other words the modern system (called by saeculum II by Sean Love) that I have been discussing turns into the system I discussed earlier, which Love calls saeculum I.  I place the split at the American Revolution 4T, which has an unusually long liberal era in Schlesinger’s scheme.  He has the 1765-1787 period as one liberal era.  I extend this period to 1765-1789 and split it into two at the 1774 break point: 1765-1774 and the 1775-1789.  The first of these creates the recessive generational line and the latter creates the founders of the dominant line.

Print this item

  America has never been so ripe for tyranny
Posted by: Emman85 - 05-06-2016, 02:28 AM - Forum: Theory Related Political Discussions - Replies (1)

Here's an interesting article about Trumps rise and potential path to victory. The gist of the article is that we are in a late stage democracy that is very vulnerable to populist demagogues. Here's a link to the whole article - america tyranny donald trump


Quote:As this dystopian election campaign has unfolded, my mind keeps being tugged by a passage in Plato’s Republic. It has unsettled — even surprised — me from the moment I first read it in graduate school. The passage is from the part of the dialogue where Socrates and his friends are talking about the nature of different political systems, how they change over time, and how one can slowly evolve into another. And Socrates seemed pretty clear on one sobering point: that “tyranny is probably established out of no other regime than democracy.” What did Plato mean by that? Democracy, for him, I discovered, was a political system of maximal freedom and equality, where every lifestyle is allowed and public offices are filled by a lottery. And the longer a democracy lasted, Plato argued, the more democratic it would become. Its freedoms would multiply; its equality spread. Deference to any sort of authority would wither; tolerance of any kind of inequality would come under intense threat; and multiculturalism and sexual freedom would create a city or a country like “a many-colored cloak decorated in all hues.”

This rainbow-flag polity, Plato argues, is, for many people, the fairest of regimes. The freedom in that democracy has to be experienced to be believed — with shame and privilege in particular emerging over time as anathema. But it is inherently unstable. As the authority of elites fades, as Establishment values cede to popular ones, views and identities can become so magnificently diverse as to be mutually uncomprehending. And when all the barriers to equality, formal and informal, have been removed; when everyone is equal; when elites are despised and full license is established to do “whatever one wants,” you arrive at what might be called late-stage democracy. There is no kowtowing to authority here, let alone to political experience or expertise.

The very rich come under attack, as inequality becomes increasingly intolerable. Patriarchy is also dismantled: “We almost forgot to mention the extent of the law of equality and of freedom in the relations of women with men and men with women.” Family hierarchies are inverted: “A father habituates himself to be like his child and fear his sons, and a son habituates himself to be like his father and to have no shame before or fear of his parents.” In classrooms, “as the teacher ... is frightened of the pupils and fawns on them, so the students make light of their teachers.” Animals are regarded as equal to humans; the rich mingle freely with the poor in the streets and try to blend in. The foreigner is equal to the citizen.
And it is when a democracy has ripened as fully as this, Plato argues, that a would-be tyrant will often seize his moment.
He is usually of the elite but has a nature in tune with the time — given over to random pleasures and whims, feasting on plenty of food and sex, and reveling in the nonjudgment that is democracy’s civil religion. He makes his move by “taking over a particularly obedient mob” and attacking his wealthy peers as corrupt. If not stopped quickly, his appetite for attacking the rich on behalf of the people swells further. He is a traitor to his class — and soon, his elite enemies, shorn of popular legitimacy, find a way to appease him or are forced to flee. Eventually, he stands alone, promising to cut through the paralysis of democratic incoherence. It’s as if he were offering the addled, distracted, and self-indulgent citizens a kind of relief from democracy’s endless choices and insecurities. He rides a backlash to excess—“too much freedom seems to change into nothing but too much slavery” — and offers himself as the personified answer to the internal conflicts of the democratic mess. He pledges, above all, to take on the increasingly despised elites. And as the people thrill to him as a kind of solution, a democracy willingly, even impetuously, repeals itself.
And so, as I chitchatted over cocktails at a Washington office Christmas party in December, and saw, looming above our heads, the pulsating, angry televised face of Donald Trump on Fox News, I couldn’t help but feel a little nausea permeate my stomach. And as I watched frenzied Trump rallies on C-SPAN in the spring, and saw him lay waste to far more qualified political peers in the debates by simply calling them names, the nausea turned to dread. And when he seemed to condone physical violence as a response to political disagreement, alarm bells started to ring in my head. Plato had planted a gnawing worry in my mind a few decades ago about the intrinsic danger of late-democratic life. It was increasingly hard not to see in Plato’s vision a murky reflection of our own hyperdemocratic times and in Trump a demagogic, tyrannical character plucked directly out of one of the first books about politics ever written.
Could it be that the Donald has emerged from the populist circuses of pro wrestling and New York City tabloids, via reality television and Twitter, to prove not just Plato but also James Madison right, that democracies “have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention … and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths”? Is he testing democracy’s singular weakness — its susceptibility to the demagogue — by blasting through the firewalls we once had in place to prevent such a person from seizing power? Or am I overreacting?

Print this item

  Harvard IOP Spring 2016 Poll
Posted by: Dan '82 - 05-06-2016, 01:29 AM - Forum: The Millennial Generation - Replies (1)

Somehow I missed this when it came out last week.


http://iop.harvard.edu/youth-poll/harvar...-2016-poll

Quote:A new national poll of America’s 18- to 29-year-olds by Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP), located at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, finds Hillary Clinton the clear front-runner over Donald Trump to win the White House in 2016. Among likely voters, Clinton has 61% of young voters and Trump 25%, with 14% of likely young voters unsure.
The IOP’s newest poll results – its 29th major release since 2000 – also shows that a majority of America’s 18- to 29-year-olds rejects both socialist and capitalist labels. 42% of young Americans support capitalism, and 33% say they support socialism. A detailed report on the poll’s findings is available online at http://bit.ly/IOPSpring16Poll.
“Millennials care deeply about their futures and in this election cycle they are laser-focused on issues like access to educational opportunity, women’s equality and the economy,” said Harvard Institute of Politics Director Maggie Williams. “This survey reflects their passion, their worries and most importantly, a growing awareness that their voices have power.”
“Young Americans are sending a strong message. They care deeply about the future, but are concerned that the current state of our institutions and our politics are not sufficient to meet our nation’s challenges,” said Harvard Institute of Politics Polling Director John Della Volpe. “We hope that in the remaining months of the campaign, candidates from both parties work to rebuild the trust that’s been eroded and inspire Millennials to not only vote, but engage in civic life.”

http://iop.harvard.edu/youth-poll/harvar...-2016-poll

Print this item

  Why the 4T started in 2008 and NOT in 2001: Repost?
Posted by: MillsT_98 - 05-05-2016, 08:13 PM - Forum: Old Fourth Turning Forum Posts - Replies (3)

Can someone please repost this thread into the "Theories of History" forum? I really like that thread (it's one of my favorites), and I would like to contribute more to it.

Here's the link to the thread on the old forum

Thanks!

Print this item

  Fantasy, and ISIS as cosplay caliphate
Posted by: Odin - 05-05-2016, 07:57 PM - Forum: Beyond America - No Replies

The Return of The King: The ‘cosplay Caliphate’ of ISIS is a deadly fantasy, but a familiar one in the West. It feeds the same urges as Tolkien

Quote:What accounts for the persistent appeal of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (or ISIS) to recruits from Chicago, Bradford or Melbourne? This year, the question became urgent to commentators and policymakers in Europe and the United States. The group’s battlefield successes, its territorial ambitions and viral spectacles of cruelty were made only more ominous by the small but steady stream of recruits it attracted from wealthy democracies.

Some of the proposed explanations have been familiar: the marginalisation and alienation of Muslim minorities in the West; a religious zeal that transcends the smallness of secular life; even the group’s thrillingly extreme apocalyptic vision. It’s not hard to see ISIS as another gruesome camp-follower to modern democratic capitalism, one in a series of terrorist movements and guerrilla insurgencies that feed upon the discontents of the age and the psychoses of their members.

But the story of the arrival and lingering global charisma of ISIS features something that sets it apart: the idea of the Caliphate. Last June, the ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared himself caliph. The grandiosity of the claim was likely lost even on many educated non-Muslim observers. A position that has been gone from Islam in anything but name for 1,000 years, the caliph has to meet certain requirements: he must control territory, must enforce sharia law within it, and he must descend from the Quraysh tribe, the tribe of the Prophet Muhammad (the Ottoman emperors claimed the title into the 20th century, but their claim is widely rejected because they did not descend from the Quraysh). Pledging allegiance to a valid caliph, when one is available, is an obligation that ISIS supporters view as binding on all Muslims. And while Baghdadi’s claim has been divisive even in the world of violent jihadism, groups in Nigeria and Libya have apparently made this vow of allegiance.

In English-language accounts, the idea of the caliphate and its evident appeal seems by turns exotic and ridiculous. ‘[T]his kind of transnational Islam seems to hold special appeal to young Europeans caught between competing identities,’ wrote Malise Ruthven in The New York Review of Books this February. For all the violence of ISIS, the idea of the Caliphate encodes ‘a moral order that transcends not just the boundaries of the national state, but the moral logic underpinning it’. Or, in the words of Nick Danforth writing in Foreign Affairs last year, it is ‘a political fantasy – a blank slate’ for the demands and ambitions of local politics.

Whether its central claim is an inscrutable dream of religiously legitimated sovereignty or a malleable delusion, the appeal of ISIS is easily abstracted from motives available to outsiders. It is, in the incisive words of the New York artist Molly Crabapple, a ‘cosplay Caliphate’, a dress-up festival of blood-soaked nostalgia whose very pretensions to antiquity mark it as the rankest kind of modern innovation.

ISIS and its ideology are violent, reactionary, wholly at odds with the ethos of democracy and progress cherished by modern secular societies. But the myth on which its appeal hinges – and the historical dress-up it seems to engage in – is not as foreign as it seems. A lot of people like cosplay. ‘One of the Islamic State’s less bloody videos shows a group of jihadists burning their French, British and Australian passports,’ Graeme Wood reported in his lengthy study of ISIS ideology in The Atlantic this March. ‘This would be an eccentric act for someone intending to return to blow himself up in line at the Louvre.’ Apparently, these people actually want to live under a caliph.

Far from being a parochially Islamic impulse or a nerd’s fantasy – something you can get involved in from ‘your mama’s basement’, as one counter-terrorism expert has said – the myth of the Caliphate echoes dreams of transcendent legitimacy that are deeply embedded in European culture and literature. To find a story of a sovereign authority long lapsed in kingship but still entitled to the allegiance of all the just, and fated to reappear at an auspicious moment, we need look no further than The Lord of the Rings (1954-55).

J R R Tolkien’s sprawling, leisurely epic – itself a bit of literary cosplay – has managed only to grow in commercial and critical stature since was first published. It has at its heart the revelation of Aragorn as the king of men and his return to his long-vacant ancestral throne. As the story begins, Aragorn is preternaturally competent yet rustic. Over time, he proves himself both a biological heir and a worthy mirror of his kingly ancestors. His transcendent authority occasionally flashes forth, like ‘a king returning from exile to his own land’. Haloes of light gather around his head at particularly kingly moments, such as extracting aid from potential allies at sword-point.

Halo or no, however, the problem of legitimacy and allegiance endures throughout the story. The royal line has been extinguished in the kingdom for 1,000 years, during which a line of non-royal stewards has ruled. But ‘10,000 years would not suffice’ to make the best of a bad situation and simply round up the stewards to the rank of kings. The ancient signs of royalty – most notably a 3,000-year-old sword – are critical for Aragorn to persuade a long-kingless people to accept him. He has a tendency to cry out the name of his most illustrious ancestor when crashing into battle, and attracts dream-like expressions of allegiance. A ‘light of knowledge and love was kindled’ in the eyes of a man restored by Aragorn’s particular – and uniquely kingly – gift for healing. ‘My Lord, you called me. I come. What does the king command?’

Such moments, which savour somewhat of kitsch, do not adequately convey the tug of this myth of inherent legitimacy. Tolkien was not difficult to surpass as a writer of action scenes or characterisation. His exceptional accomplishment was very different. He created a history nearly as long and broad as Europe’s. Then he put at its centre an idea of transcendent, divine-right power that – unlike its balderdash real-world inspiration – actually makes the engine move. Tolkien’s history is an automaton with a beating heart.

The parallel between Tolkien’s version of restoration and Baghdadi’s is limited. Aragorn displays magnanimity in victory rather than mass beheadings. Tolkien’s mythology, unlike that of ISIS, is steadfastly un-apocalyptic. But many readers, it seems, thrill to the notion of finding a king to whom they can pledge their swords without scruple or hesitation. Indeed, it is sometimes claimed that the patently adolescent politics of Tolkien’s Middle Earth represent a true and valid model for real-world humans.

Legitimate authority vouchsafed by blood and virtue, by descent from, and imitation of, the heroic past, can slice through the pragmatic reciprocity of government based on social contract. The novel even makes a sidelong allusion to this facet of its own appeal via the character of Arwen, Aragorn’s half-elven, half-human betrothed. Forced to choose between elven immortality and a mortal life with the restored king, she chooses the latter. Her competing identities resolve in this heroic gesture. She sacrifices the higher attainments and comforts of elvish civilisation and burns her passport.

In his tale of a lost line of kings emerging from ancient obscurity, Tolkien adapts a fairytale pattern identified by the 19th-century English scholar E S Hartland as the Sleeping Hero. The sleeping hero, or the king in the mountain, is a great personage who exists, so to say, in suspended animation until a moment of historical crisis. Neither Aragorn nor any of his fathers, it should be noted, attempted to reclaim the throne of Gondor during a national debate on road construction. At a signal – often the sound of a trumpet – the sleeping hero awakes and sets things to rights in the land.

The most famous English example is King Arthur, ‘the once and future king’, shrouded in the mists of Avalon until a time of dire need. Arthur is paralleled by King Wenceslaus of Bohemia, who by some accounts goes out with his riders each night, and whose return will be heralded by the unseasonable blossoming of a certain tree. (Not to be outdone on this score, Tolkien gives Aragorn a sacred tree of his own to restore to Gondor.) Germany has Frederick Barbarossa, the Holy Roman Emperor dead since the First Crusade but waiting to be revealed again.

Hartland claimed that every sleeping hero was a lightly historicised version of a pagan god vanquished by Christianity. But Jesus himself combines the figures of the lost scion and the sleeping hero. According to the Gospels, the crowds in Jerusalem greeted the Galilean prophet and healer as ‘the Son of David’, heir to a divinely instituted royal line lost for half a millennium, come back to redeem the people from their bondage to the Roman Empire. At the same time, Christians confess that He ‘will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead’, echoing many such promises recorded in the New Testament. Christian Europe never successfully housed a myth of universal earthly rule analogous to the Caliphate. But Christian Europe did look for the return of Jesus at times of famine, plague and particularly unjust government.

Much of the Christian US does so today. The visions of His return were not necessarily peaceful and conciliatory. The role of Jesus in ISIS eschatology – He will return to kill the armies of ‘Rome’ in the last battle – is not so terribly different from the role assigned to Him in Christian apocalyptic writing.

With the closing of Europe’s folklore frontier in the 19th and 20th centuries, the sleeping heroes were forced to migrate, along with many other fairy-world figures, from communal myth to modern literary culture. Even the wild and dangerous Jesus awaited by the peasant rebels and mad monks of the Middle Ages was largely domesticated by political theology.

But something strange happened: this world of mass-market publishing, parliamentary coalitions and industrial towns loved the old heroes as much as the oral culture that cultivated them ever had. An Arthurian revival stretched from Romantic verse to animated film to serial comic strip to Broadway. Civic groups formed to imitate the virtues of Arthurian legends. And Arthur’s shade was hardly the only one summoned by countrymen in crisis. Hitler named his invasion of the Soviet Union after Frederic Barbarossa.

As European political and religious institutions teetered, frayed or fell altogether, a desire for irrefutable alternatives was perhaps to be expected. Stories that could collapse past and present across the fallow years in between, stories in which the lost heroism and inherent legitimacy of the past overwhelm the compromises and half-measures of the present, had a new urgency. From Aslan to Captain America, sleeping heroes and lost scions arose to fulfil that desire. Ancient and undefiled kingship – even the consciously anachronistic echo of such kingship – could perhaps claim the loyalties of people riven by class struggle and pauperised by failed leaders. Modern echoes, in the Muslim world and beyond, are not hard to hear.

The desire to see the sleeping hero wake and return in a blaze of undeniable authority is not simply a childish reverie. It is no mere reactionary filigree in 20th-century literary fantasies. The ghost of transcendent personal legitimacy still stalks the modern world. It lingers in the background of every democratic attempt at a political dynasty. It can even attach to impersonal forces. A movement of scholars and advocates in the US characterises the Constitution itself as being ‘in exile’, awaiting restoration through devoted judicial activism.

This ghost can haunt the highest of high culture. In his longest poem, ‘The Wreck of the Deutschland’ (written in 1875-6), Gerard Manley Hopkins imagines a renewal of Catholic England. It’s a vision that reflects his own process of conversion, his plea to God to ‘Wring thy rebel, dogged in den/Man’s malice, with wrecking and storm.’ He prays that Christ would return to England – ‘Kind, but royally reclaiming his own’:

Quote:Remember us in the roads, the heaven-haven of the Reward:
Our King back, oh, upon English souls!
Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us, be a crimson-cresseted east,
ore brightening her, rare-dear Britain, as his reign rolls,
Pride, rose, prince, hero of us, high-priest,
Our hearts’ charity’s hearth’s fire, our thoughts’ chivalry’s throng’s Lord.

This prayer is, of course, very different from the sadistic ambitions of ISIS. There is no wave of purifying violence envisioned here. Even judged as verse, the poem is not reactionary; when Hopkins wrote it, it was too innovative in its rhythm and rhetoric for the editor of Britain’s Jesuit magazine. It wouldn’t see publication until 1918, decades after the poet’s death.

But then, as ever, the hypermodern form and the ancient fantasy combine with a persuasive force no mere nostalgia can attain. The king, the hero, the long-absent lord summons, personally and authoritatively, the louche, riotous knights of English minds to chivalry and greatness. The land has suffered the absence of Christ’s true Church for three centuries. It has endured pretenders – stewards, emirs – who have lacked pedigree, rectitude, or both. It has been subject to what Wood, explaining the appeal of ISIS in The Atlantic, calls ‘life’s hypocrisies and inconsistencies’, its slow drift toward shallow belief and low stakes. I’m neither English nor Catholic, but every time I read that stanza I share in its shudder of expectation.

The foreign fighters of ISIS ‘believe that they are personally involved in struggles beyond their own lives’, says Wood, ‘and that merely to be swept up in the drama, on the side of righteousness, is a privilege’. We might view such motivations as a pathology, or as a revulsion against modernity fuelled by poverty and oppression. But we can do this only if we overlook their prominence in stories that root much closer to home.

The horrific violence of ISIS raises questions that literary parallels can’t answer. Not everyone is so fortunate to have orcs (or, in the case of Hopkins, Anglicans) as a world-historical foe. Yet the allure of a ruler who promises to transcend the dreary give-and-take of democratic politics and the deeply compromised, deeply qualified goods it aims to secure, should be familiar. Its danger is not obviously confined to an insurgency in the Middle East.

Perhaps relatively few people, in the Islamic world or outside of it, actually believe they will see the vanquishing of mere politics by transcendent, legitimate authority. But a lot of us enjoy dreaming about it in one form or another, and unlike King Wenceslaus’ riders, such dreams do not always fade at dawn.
I am reminded here of what Spengler wrote about Caesarism.

Print this item

  New Categories
Posted by: MillsT_98 - 05-05-2016, 07:46 PM - Forum: About the Forums and Website - Replies (5)

I really like these new categories! Especially how all the generations are put together into one forum titled "Generations"! How do you like the new categories? Should any of them be changed?

Print this item

  Grey Champions and the Election of 2016
Posted by: Kinser79 - 05-05-2016, 06:57 AM - Forum: Theory Related Political Discussions - Replies (165)

As some of you may know some time ago on the old forum I said tat I believed that this 4T there would emerge two GC's.  It should be noted that by and large I view the GC itself as a title bestowed after the fact.  In any event it seems that we do indeed have two, and one will likely be the nominee for the GOP this go round.

I am speaking of His Imperial Highness, His Glorious Majesty Donald J. Trump (AKA Daddy).  What have we seen so far from him?

1.  An unexpected groundswell of support not only from likely GOP voters but from new voters.

2.  An inablity to be pinned down by the Establishment politicians or the MSM at all.  And not for a lack of trying either.

3.  Implementation of new strategies and tactics politically that disrupt the Establishment.

4.  Most importantly a clear and consistent message coming from the Jacksonian tradition.

As such I'm creating this poll (and hopefully it will work).

The question is:  Is Donald Trump the GC we've been looking for?  If so would you vote for him?


As the first vote, I not only think that Trump is the GC, but I will also be voting for him. Granted since Shillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee I'd vote for a potted plant if the GOP rant that too.

Print this item