Archives for category: History

These United States have endured three reboots.

The first (and fledgling) republican federation rebooted under the Constitution of 1787.

The second republic rebooted to a nation-state with the Civil War and Reconstruction, 1860-65.

The nationalist republic rebooted to neo-empire in a series of ratcheting acts (Spanish-American War; Progressive advancement of the administrative state; World War I; Great Depression and the New Deal; World War II) finalizing with the formation of the national security state.

So now we are due for another such restarting, grand revision, and we are about on schedule. You can smell it in the air. And see its necessity on a variety of spreadsheets, not all of them financial — but the debt hangeth like a Damoclean blade strung up on the slenderest of threads, over our heads. Some reset, great or evil or heroic or messy, is coming, perhaps soon.

What’ll it be?

Democrats say Republicans are fascists, Republicans say Democrats are commies: so the safe bet is technocratic totalitarianism, with commie and fascist elements.

Could be something else though. But anything else will take bloodshed, which I doubt Americans really have much stomach for. They’d rather stay home and be stamped by the Mark of the Beast — for COVID.

twv

Our culture’s moral center is an antipode

The video, directly below, is the finale to a series of lectures on the history of unbelief from medieval to modern times. It strikes me as quite good — good enough that I just ordered the lecturer’s book on the subject. (I also cued up the audio version in Scribd.)

Alec Ryrie’s novel argument in this lecture is that the modern humanist consensus is not based on any of the major arguments or strains of intellectual atheism, but, instead, on the replacement of Jesus Christ as the center of our civilization’s moral universe WITH HITLER . . . as the Devil. What unifies most parties and certainly most citizens today is actually the Argumentum ad Hitlerium. The humanistic consensus, in Christian, non-Christian, and anti-Christian forms, is derived by inverting Hitlerism Popularly Understood. Hence our obsessive focus on one type of vice — racism, sexism, and other x-isms that intellectually congeal around the in-group/out-group antagonism — to the exclusion of other vices or any coherent set of virtues.

And this allows me to understand why I am so at variance with our general culture.

For I definitely did not derive and hone my normative thought via inverting Adolf Diabolos!

I find this devil-inversion method witless, and today’s cultic focus on this new Devil as sub-intellectual.

The reason for the former is that the method allows people to be manipulated by ideological propagandists and Deep State psy-op masters. The reason for the latter is that Hitler Popularly Understood is a hothouse flower, carefully cutivated and not enough of the real thing.

Hitler is in many ways far worse than his image, because the bulk of his ideas are now so mainstream. The welfare state itself was one of his crowning achievements, and it was an outrage, and quite integral to his designs. Yet many of the nutters who today think they oppose Adolf Diabolos in every possible way actually promote many of his key programs, and their commitment to these programs corrupts their politics generally. Sure, sure; I know, I know: They pick and choose — just as did the American military when it rescued thousands of Nazi scientists and engineers under Operation Paperclip and organized the post-war Deep State as this strange and quite dangerous echo of the Third Reich’s hidden core.

So now we have Boris Johnson and Joe Biden openly planning to regulate speech in a totalitarian fashion, and most people do not see this as the culmination of Hitlerism. I do.

And don’t, for it is also the culmination of the love of leftist socialism.

I am just not into setting up binaries and normative inversions. For I think we Hyperboreans must be mindful of the Law of Nemesis.

Which is in truth the real, animating spirit that is bringing an end to this age of the humanist consensus.

And Ryrie is surely right to prophesy that the current consensus will not last. And yes, I think it is in the process of collapsing right now, in a spectacular way.

twv

…as reviewed on Goodreads & LibraryThing….

I may, some day, write a full review of this book, and of Ralph Ellis’s major contentions. This is not that review, not that day.

A hint to the reader, though: Ellis’s books are inquiries.

Sure, Ellis offers radical revisions of historical understanding, but he does not write histories using the standard narrative technique, or historical treatises plying what has been called the “rhetoric of conclusions.” Ellis’s approach often runs in an unfamiliar manner to many readers’ expectations, demonstrating a “rhetoric of inquiry.” We follow the author, in his many pages, from one problem to the next, with many offered solutions. He offers numerous conjectures, and ably backs them up. But his techniques are often unorthodox, usually resting on unraveling many layers of wordplay.

Now, this is dangerous stuff, in that one might easily abuse language in the course of unraveling past abuses — too easily mistake a homonym or mere phonetic echo for a pun for a past fact — but Ellis’s method may be characterized, at least in part, as an archeology of nomenclature. And his archeological sense is not dominated by fantasies of creation, at least not in the books of his I’ve read.

But there is no avoiding an archeology of names. In written records, especially of a religious nature, that is mostly what we have to work with.

Ellis is trying to make sense of the history of Judaism and Christianity and related religions. All religions engage in word magic, marshaling artful puns and the like. This is especially involved in Jewish writings, where we see some astounding evasions using such methods, such as the pesher technique in the Talmud. Many of the words used in scriptures and in ancient times have multiple — even obscure and even opaque — meanings, sporting etymologies that are open to contest. A word that once meant one thing comes to mean something else, and when these usages change mark important points in history. Accepting some ready-at-hand or traditional meaning may be accepting a long-embedded error, or even a lie.

The Hebrew Bible depicts the Jews’ history as developing in the context of two great civilizations, Egyptian and Mesopotamian. But one of the peculiarities of Judeo-Christian history is that most of its major figures, though dominant in their scriptures, are not recorded outside those scriptural documents. Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Jesus — these people do not appear in Egyptian and Mesopotamian records, or in surviving monuments or actual archeological sites. Not a few scholars regard all pre-Babylonian stories as all or mostly myth, and authors like Richard Carrier speculate that there never was a historical Jesus — he was made up; a religious fiction. Ellis, in his books, looks at these issues anew, consulting Manetho and Josephus and the Talmud and to-us-obscure Syrian historians, expecting to find historical figures, if dislocated in place and time. And boy, does he find them!

In previous books he identified the Hebrew patriarchs with the Hyksos “Shepherd Kings” — as frankly stated by Manetho and Josephus; he found David and Solomon among the later, post-Ramesside pharaohs of the Nile Delta; and he discovered an ancestry for Jesus in, of all people, Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, and Parthian royalty!

More astonishingly, Ellis daringly became the first to lay claim to unearthing an ancient conspiracy of the Flavian emperors, in which historian Josephus serves as a master propagandist, appearing as both the Apostle Paul, the founder of what Ellis calls “Simple Judaism” (or Christianity) and as Rabbi ben Zakkai, the inventor of post-conquest rabbinical Judaism. This grew from Ellis’s attempts to make sense of what Josephus was up to — a very complicated man, and even on the face of it not dissimilar to Saint “All Things to All People” Paul. Noting the Josephan histories’ many evasions, animadversions, odd nomenclatures, inconsistencies, and weird parallels with the gospels and the Book of Acts, Ellis identified the historical Jesus, too . . . as “Jesus of Gamala.”

In this book, Jesus, King of Edessa, he goes further, investigating the kingdom of Edessa and its monarchs, drilling down behind Josephus’s slippery characters Jesus of Gamala and “bar Kamza” et al., finding a man with a place in history and even surviving pictorial images: King Manu VI, a cousin or some other relative of Josephus, all bound up with the Jewish revolt put down by Vespasian and Titus, whom Josephus wound up serving.

Whereas the big evasion and lie at the heart of the “Old Testament” is the hiding of the truth about the Egyptian origin of Judaism, the whopper in the “New Testament” account is the moving the story of Jesus back in time from the Jewish Wars to the comparatively peaceful period of Pontius Pilate. The dislocation is chiefly in time, though the dislocation in geography is the existence of a Syrian kingdom “beyond the Euphrates” in Harran and Palmyra, and its dominance by an Egypto-Jewish dynasty that started out as a tax-free buffer state between Rome and Parthia and, under the direction of Jesus (Izas/Izates/King Manu) instigated a revolt against Rome. And was put down.

The story is complex. As is the book itself. The unraveling of the layers of myth-making, evasions and even outright lies was an astounding labor. Ellis is quite convincing, though I can imagine many reasons why a person might start out incredulous and remain, even after reading, more than a tad dubious. As for my part? I am more than half-convinced. But the work of untangling the thorns from these old stories is far from over.

For the record, I suspect Ellis misses a major wrinkle in the story he tells by not confronting Josephus’s discussion of Pontius Pilate’s career-ending routing of a religious pilgrimage in Samaria, a region close to Jerusalem he never mentions. I hazard it could be key to unraveling the full story of the stones from the Ark of the Covenant that became so important to Edessan religious tradition. And which Heliogabalus later brought to Rome when he became emperor, a short “meteoric” rise that seems to have weirdly accomplished what Jesus “of Gamala” aimed at.

Ellis sure has written some long books. He pores over seeming minutia. Not every single one of his conclusions can possibly have the same value. And, perhaps, it would have been helpful had he taken the rhetoric of inquiry a tad more seriously and in a more overtly Popperian manner, offering his arguments even more rigorously as conjectural rather than, as he occasionally writes, “proofs.”

There are a few stylistic oddities in the book. Example? Ellis spells verb and noun forms of “prophesy” the same, while I try always to remember to make my noun form with a “c,” “prophecy.” I cannot tell you how much this bugged me! (Is this an English thing? I will look it up later.)

Ralph Ellis ends Jesus, King of Edessa with a discussion of the fate of Edessa at the hands of Islamic civilization. This will be off-putting to those who believe Islam “is a religion of peace.” Since I regard this statement, repeatedly made by American drone bombing gamesmen Bush and Obama, as a ‘noble lie’ at best, I was not at all disturbed by Ellis’s concluding thoughts on the possible destruction of western civilization by Islamic memes and corrupt, craven politicians of a decadent post-liberal culture. I say, instead, Bravo!

I live-blogged my reading of this book on Gab.com (@wirkman), where Ralph Ellis also micro-blogs. I have interviewed Mr. Ellis twice for my podcast, locofoco.net: they were long and profitable conversations, I think.

twv

Anthony Comegna returns to my podcast for his third outing. The video will go up soon, but the podcast is ready on multiple podcatchers and at SoundCloud (LocoFoco.net):

To connect with Dr. Comegna, try Twitter, where he is known as Dr LocoFoco.

The latest episode of the LocoFoco Netcast, my podcast, is online in both video and audio forms. Like the previous episode, we wander into an extra-controversial topic for controversial reasons. I interview Ralph Ellis, the author of a number of books including King Jesus (which I finished reading only after I chatted with Mr. Ellis for this episode) and Jesus, King of Edessa.

LocoFoco Netcast, Season Two, Episode Four: February 21, 2021.

This is a tricky subject, of course, in no small part because many people, around the world, are believers in one of the three major religions herein discussed: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Like Ralph Ellis, I’m not a believer in any of these religions. But, also like Ralph Ellis, I do not think disbelief in a religion gives the disbeliever license to kill and otherwise abuse members of the religion in question. Religious warfare and genocide are despicable things. They are not acceptable when done in the name of one religion against another, or by disbelievers in all of the major religions. We are living in strange times, when the lid that has been placed, culturally and politically, against mass religious warfare could blow off at any moment, leaving us with a bloodbath — and perhaps no civilization to speak of.

But it is also the case that many people orient themselves politically and morally using religion. This has always been the case. Indeed, this is one of the things religion provides: a mechanism (or, if you prefer, organism) for ego-transcendent morality. Now, I believe that the evidence suggests that just about any metaphysical system could provide that service, but undoubtedly some work better than others. Along with Ralph Ellis, I judge Islam deficient in this regard. Though I did not inquire deeply into Mr. Ellis’s “Islamophobia” (a detestable name for opposition to some specific bad memes), or explicate my own, I can with some confidence state that there are crucial components to the Islamic memeplex that enable it to grow and thrive — while not really allowing freedom to grow and thrive. Muslims have been backwards for a thousand years, and for obvious reasons, not excluding the hegemonic beliefs that squelch liberal developments, especially including notions like Dhimmitude, taqiyya, capital punishment for apostasy, and the simple gambit that Mohammad was to be “the last Prophet.” These are all pernicious notions, integral to Islam.

But every political idea set has some truly dangerous notions. Christianity led to our civilization, which has raised world health, wealth and freedom, but embedded in the core Christian notions are a number of incompatible memes, and warring notions can do much damage.

For this reason, I have long treated investigation into the origins of Christianity as more than a matter of mere curiosity.

I have read up and down and around the subject for years. Of particular interest has been what Albert Schweitzer called “The Quest for the Historical Jesus.” This is perhaps most famously instantiated in the modern Jesus Seminar scholarship, though, after decades of reading in this vein, and about Gnosticism as well (Hans Jonas and Elaine Pagels being the two main historians), a certain deep skepticism set in: the main scholars seemed not to get far, leaving the origins of Christianity in a deep shadow.

Ralph Ellis figured out why. He saw something kind of obvious — but one of those “too obvious” problems that, because of their obviousness could not even be admitted by most people as a problem. There was a historical mystery at the heart of the Gospels: why was an apparently insignificant figure like Jesus (a “peaceful” “carpenter”) so significant in Pontius Pilate’s day, and how did he relate to the epoch-making events of the Jewish Rebellion and its suppression by Roman generals (and future emperors) Vespasian and Titus? Something historically huge and “majorly” evident happened in the seventh and eighth decades of this epoch designated A.D., yet the purported most important man of the period, Jesus, is said to have barely made a world-shaking blip a few decades earlier?

Ellis saw that there had been some strategic fibbing. The historical Jesus had indeed been a revolutionary, as repeatedly suggested and alluded to in the gospels . . . and in the seventh decade in particular. But somebody (whom Ellis identifies in a daring and mind-blowing way) had insulated this revolutionary’s true identity by placing him back in time, in history and out of History.

And Ellis has made some astute observations about the accumulating evidence: at the heart of the matter was the astrological changing of the World’s zodiacal odometer, from the Age of Aries (the Ram) to the Age of Pisces (the Fishes), which began c. 10 A.D. And which gave both the Flavian emperors and the Christians their telltale symbols, the Fish:

The sign of the cross took on increasing importance, of course, as the message of personal salvation became central to Christianity. But to Jesus of Gamala — the historical rather than gospel Jesus — the fish was vitally important, for the gnosis at the heart of his variant of Judaism (he was a Nazarene) was ancient knowledge of the precession of the Earth. This was information that the Jews took out of Egypt shortly after the end of the Taurian Age (of the Bull).

Ralph Ellis is the author of a number of well-thought-out, fascinating explorations that upend what we think about the religions grounding our western civilization. His works can be found at his own publishing house, Edfu Books. His “Illumination Lecture” series on YouTube is also worth consulting. I was extremely happy to have interviewed him, now for a second time. The interview, as published now, lingered “in the can” for a few weeks of difficulties, including technical difficulties (I need a decent mixer) and regional (an ice storm hit and I was without power for too long). Now it is up. I hope people can give it an open-minded review, as an introduction to a new way of looking at the beginning of our age.

For, we are all Pisceans, fishers of men. To those who accept the gospel accounts, they will of course not enjoy this exploration, for it is deeply, deeply heretical. Even apostate. But then, I’m merely another heretical apostate, seeking the truth.

I can assure you, I realize that these matters of history and religion are not irrelevant for our age. For one thing, if Ralph Ellis is right, they show that much of our lives has been deeply influenced, if not to say determined, by myth-makers long ago, men consciously engaged in psychological warfare. A grand psy-ops. These propagandists sought to bring peace to an empire by manipulating our species’ religious sense.

And many, many folks do likewise to this very day.

twv

The LocoFoco Netcast can be found at LocoFoco.net and via various podcatchers.

Who started the libertarian movement?

…as answered on Quora….

The libertarian movement evolved. It was started by the first person to articulate the notion that initiating force is a bad idea not only when private citizens to it, but also when people in government do it.

Modern libertarianism, as understood in the sense usually discussed in America, is a revived and refined classical liberalism, with ties also to 19th century individualist anarchism, which was itself called “philosophical anarchism” in its heyday, and, most astutely, “unterrified Jeffersonianism.” The main libertarian idea can be found in a diversity of liberal writers, such as John Locke and Thomas Jefferson, but received its first clear discussions in the middle of the 19th century in writers like William Leggett, Henry David Thoreau, Herbert Spencer, Frédéric Bastiat, and Gustave de Molinari. The American brand of anarchism (which I do not regard as a form of anarchism) was invented by utopian experimenter Josiah Warren and jurist Lysander Spooner. But by the end of that century, though the obviously libertarian theory received a great deal of careful elaboration by writers who called themselves “individualists” — Auberon Herbert, J. H. Levy and Wordsworth Donisthorpe to name three — classical liberalism had collapsed as a movement, and for half a century only a few obscure figures and their favorite authors (like Albert Jay Nock) survived . . . as “a remnant.” (See Nock’s essay “Isaiah’s Job,” and his book Our Enemy, the State; see also Garet Garrett’s The People’s Pottage.)

Now, three American women novelists might be said to have “created” modernlibertarianism in the middle of the 20th century: literary critic Isabel Paterson (esp. in The God of the Machine), journalist Rose Wilder Lane (daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder), and Russian expatriate Ayn Rand (The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged). The revival of classical liberalism in the writings of two Austrian economists — Ludwig von Mises and F. A. Hayek — spurred the movement, intellectually, especially with their more overtly political books, the elder Austrian’s Socialism and Omnipotent Government, and the younger man’s Road to Serfdom. By the time Murray N. Rothbard made a name for himself in the 1960s, the intellectual movement was well underway. Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State and Utopia basically sealed the deal, and, as an intellectual movement, libertarianism appeared on the American scene as quite robust by 1976, with Nobel Prizes in economics going to Hayek and the astoundingly brilliant Milton Friedman. Milton and his wife Rose Director, and their son David D. Friedman, were all important exponents of variants of modern libertarianism, with the son being the more daring and radical.

As a political movement, libertarianism erupted out of the Young Americans for Freedom organization in the 1960s and a political party forming after Nixon took the U.S. off the gold standard, which helped disenthrall libertarians from conservative politics.

The definitive account of libertarian history was written by Brian Doherty in Radicals for Capitalism.


N.B. The Jeffersonian reference is to a passage from Benjamin R. Tucker:

The development of the economic programme which consists in the destruction of these monopolies and the substitution for them of the freest competition led its authors to a perception of the fact that all their thought rested upon a very fundamental principle, the freedom of the individual, his right of sovereignty over himself, his products, and his affairs, and of rebellion against the dictation of external authority. Just as the idea of taking capital away from individuals and giving it to the government started Marx in a path which ends in making the government everything and the individual, nothing, so the idea of taking capital away from government-protected monopolies and putting it within easy reach of all individuals started Warren and Proudhon in a path which ends in making the individual everything and the government nothing. If the individual has a right to govern himself, all external government is tyranny. Hence the necessity of abolishing the State. This was the logical conclusion to which Warren and Proudhon were forced, and it became the fundamental article of their political philosophy. It is the doctrine which Proudhon named Anarchism, a word derived from the Greek, and meaning, not necessarily absence of order, as is generally supposed, but absence of rule. The Anarchists are simply unterrified Jeffersonian Democrats. They believe that “the best government is that which governs least,” and that that which governs least is no government at all. Even the simple police function of protecting person and property they deny to governments supported by compulsory taxation. Protection they look upon as a thing to be secured, as long as it is necessary, by voluntary association and cooperation for self-defence, or as a commodity to be purchased, like any other commodity, of those who offer the best article at the lowest price. In their view it is in itself an invasion of the individual to compel him to pay for or suffer a protection against invasion that he has not asked for and does not desire. And they further claim that protection will become a drug in the market, after poverty and consequently crime have disappeared through the realization of their economic programme. Compulsory taxation is to them the life-principle of all the monopolies, and passive, but organized, resistance to the tax-collector they contemplate, when the proper time comes, as one of the most effective methods of accomplishing their purposes.

Benjamin R. Tucker’s Instead of a Book, by a Man Too Busy to Write One (1893/1897).
Additional Reading:

What are we supposed to make of “experts” who do not confront the most important data in front of them?

That’s a problem these days. And it has been a huge issue on the CO2 theory of “anthropogenic global warming.” One problem I’ve had with this well-funded “climate science” is that its pushers cannot explain the biggest climate change in our most-relevant geological past: the cycles of Ice Ages. So I invited Ralph Ellis, co-author of the paper “Modulation of ice ages via precession and dust-albedo feedbacks,” to explain what others do not seem able or . . . willing. Here is our conversation, in video, with a few visual aids (“as they say in the ‘ed biz’”):

It turns out that Ralph Ellis is an inveterate challenger of accepted paradigms. So after the one-hour mark, our conversation moves to ancient Egypt and a curious possibility about the true identity of the ancient Israelites. And note: this possibility has been staring us in the face all along. It occurred to me, and if you knew who The Hyksos were, it probably occurred to you. But only Ralph Ellis has taken up the clue to see where the ancient path leads.

The audio version of this podcast can be found on a variety of podcatchers and at LocoFoco.net:

LocoFoco Netcast, “Ice Age and Exodus,” Season Two, Episode Three (January 4, 2021).

Provide feedback at LocoFoco.locals.com. Thanks for stopping by.

Timothy Virkkala

Posted earlier, my notice of the new episode of the podcast. Now it is time to share the video version — is it called merely a vlog or a vlogcast?

LocoFoco Netcast #16, vlog-version, June 29, 2020.

With the kicking of Stefan Molyneux off of YouTube, I have to admit, putting anything up on YouTube bothers me. But we shall survive?

twv

Anthony Comegna returns to the LocoFoco Netcast. The latest episode is up on SoundCloud right now, and is probably wending its way out to the podcatchers as I type these words.

LocoFoco Netcast #16, June 29, 2020.

I disagree with Dr. Comegna on very little, though I don’t use his conception of left and right, and I do not see the divisions in the libertarian movement quite the way he does. I will obviously have to talk more about this, and perhaps I can cajole @DrLocoFoco to come back on the podcast again!

Obviously, on the history he knows quite a bit more than I do. His notion of a research program to trace out what Herbert Spencer called “the filiation of ideas” is heartily seconded by me.

twv

Something I just learned: associating the “right” with both “west” and “moral rectitude” (“dexter”) and “left” with both “east” and “evil” (“sinister”) goes back many millennia to ancient Egypt, when the Theban priests expelled and crushed the Amarna pharaohs and their Atenist cult. The worship of the Aten, you see, was a rite directed at the rising sun. The Theban priests who re-took complete control of Egypt under Horemheb reinstated the worship of the setting sun, the worship of Amen.

So Akhenaten’s religious revolution was not an aberration, not a mere foreshadowing. It was a forming feature of our civilization. Well, we can regard it as so if more linkages with our traditions can be found. And I think there are many such linkages.

But regarding directions: the victorious Amenists won.

It is amusing how “left” and “right” in politics has so transformed our values, though, for in popular discourse “right” no longer carries the implication of moral rectitude, “left” does. Right-wingers are generally despised as evil — by our cultural elites, I mean. Yes, these highly influential left-wingers think of themselves as utterly good, their causes wholly just because (they think) for the good of all, while rightist causes are only for the good of some.

Of course, in truth, popular opinion is filled with illusions.

The drollery here is rich, for, as everyone knows, whether something is to our left or our right depends on where we are looking.

But it is fun to see a memeplex sport such deep roots in our civilization.

Which we can watch burn, livestreamed.

twv