Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Watching the Rockets

Rockets are important. They are symbolically important, as the most virile, masculine, phallic manifestation of the superpower contest. To wit, the US national anthem: "the rockets red glare... gave proof through the night... that our flag was still there." No rockets—no flag—no "home of the brave." Rockets are strategically important: if the other side's rockets give it the ability to destroy your side with impunity, then your strategy is to negotiate the terms of your surrender.

They are also tactically important. Your navy would be loathe to sail into foreign waters knowing that they could be sunk without so much as a chance to fire back. It is terrible for morale to have rockets falling out of the sky and exploding sporadically among your civilian population while your military stands by helplessly.

All of this makes rockets worth watching, as I have been doing, and I couldn't help but notice some rather peculiar developments that portend major changes in how superpowers must interact. Suddenly—or not so suddenly if you've been paying attention—we seem to be living in a slightly different world.

Here I could launch into a lengthy historical discussion of why the US went nuclear in Japan, why US plans to destroy the USSR using a nuclear first strike never came to fruition, why Reagan's Star Wars failed and much else—but I won't bother and simply assume that you know all of that. Instead, I'll just issue an update.

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Monday, July 12, 2021

A Case Study in National Shame

The American occupation of Afghanistan is, thankfully, over, and the way it ended was remarkably fitting to an effort that was thoroughly misguided. The US pulled out in the middle of the night, not warning its allies and leaving behind a rapidly collapsing puppet state which they established and propped up for two decades at the cost of $2.26 trillion. To give you an idea of these numbers, Afghanistan's population is 38 million; its per capita annual income is $581. By multiplying the two together and the whole by 20 years, and we get $441.56 billion. Thus, the US spending on Afghanistan exceeded the country's GDP by a factor of five!

And what is there to show for it? Well, while under the control of the US (which was in many cases more notional than real) Afghanistan became responsible for 90% of the world's opium supply, valued at around $58.5 billion a year. Even as a corrupt scheme to use government funds to get at some dirty drug money, the Afghanistan venture has been a pitifully, pathetically ineffectual one, and that is probably why the topic hardly ever comes up. Being ruled by a mafia government may not be particularly shameful for people who have no shame, but being ruled by a mafia government that can't even come up with the ink is, among thieves, the ultimate dishonor.

Perhaps an even greater dishonor is in leaving behind scores of people whom the Taliban consider American collaborators: translators and other service personnel recruited and employed by the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan over the past two decades. An honorable thing to do would be to fly them out to the US and to give them places to live and pensions. A dishonorable thing to do is what the US usually does under such circumstances: abandon its allies as soon as they become unnecessary. The whole world is watching and the lesson they are learning is this: the US is in rapid, chaotic retreat, and it is manifestly unsafe to be an American ally or, worse yet, an American collaborator.

But such important topics are being studiously ignored. What is talked about instead is... cue the sound of silence. Joe Biden recently let us catch a glimpse of his internal mental void, saying, "We went [into Afghanistan] for two reasons: to... to..." Then he froze with a blank stare and eventually came up with two expedient explanations: getting Osama Bin Laden (who was in Pakistan, a US ally at the time, enjoying his quiet CIA retirement living next to a military college) and fighting terrorism (which is now a worse problem than ever).

From this we might conclude that US blundering into Afghanistan and staying there for two decades was a horrendous mistake and, surely, it was, but this does not explain why the mistake was made. Why are empires, especially dying ones, drawn to Afghanistan like moths to a flame? The case study below is from my book The Five Stages of Collapse. It is about the Pashtuns, but to simply just a little, the Taliban, who will, by all indications, soon will once again be in charge of the whole of Afghanistan, are ethnic Pashtuns (they have recruited a great many ethnic Tajiks in recent times, but this does not change their basic nature).

Beyond satisfying an interest in US foreign policy, the story of Afghanistan, and of Taliban in it, offers a valuable opportunity for attitude adjustment. You may not think highly of them; in turn, what they think of you is that you should shut up, get out and stay out. You may be tempted to expound to them your tender feelings about freedom, democracy, human rights, social and technological progress, environmentalism, gender equality and the reproductive rights of women. They will simply ignore all of that as idiotic, childish noise.

Chances are, your entire civilization will crumble into dust and nothing will be left of it except some rusty rebar sticking out of cracked concrete and they will still be there, same as ever. Your challenge is to learn to respect them, knowing full well that they will never, ever have any respect for you.

Case Study: The Pashtuns

Among the world’s many ungoverned spaces, there are few as long lasting and as able to withstand the relentless onslaught of empires as the Pashtun tribal areas, which straddle the porous and largely notional border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, including the Pakistani tribal area of Waziristan. To invaders, this is an invisible yet impregnable fortress that has withstood all attempts by centralized government authorities to impose their will. The term “ungoverned” is, as usual, misapplied here: the Pashtuns have an alternative system of governance whose rules preclude the establishment of any centralized authority. At over forty million strong, they are one of the largest ethnic groups on the planet. Their ability to resist the British, the Pakistanis, the Soviets and now the Americans/NATO makes them one of the greatest anti-imperialist success stories on our planet. What makes up the shell of such an uncrackable nut? This is an interesting question, which is why I have decided to include an exposition on the Pashtuns, the toughest nut in the whole tribal nutsack.

An equally interesting question to ask is, What compelled a succession of empires to continue to make futile attempts to crack it, throwing life and treasure at the task of conquering a rugged, fiercely independent, inaccessible and mostly worthless piece of land? Wouldn’t it be much easier to just leave the Pashtuns alone and continue using rifles against Pygmies armed with ripe fruit? The compulsion to conquer and to subjugate is by no means new, and tribes have continuously conquered and subjugated other tribes since prehistoric times, but with the emergence of global empires a new element seems to have been introduced: complete intolerance of complete independence. Every pocket of the planet, no matter how small, has to be assigned to an internationally recognized state that has been bound to other states through treaties and state-legal relations. The global political order can no longer tolerate a single white spot on the political map. Its imperative seems to be to force every single group of humans to at least sit down at the negotiating table, at which the most powerful (or so they think) always have the upper hand, and to sign legally-binding documents. The existence of any such white spot poses an existential threat to the entire system, which is why the efforts to eliminate it are often disproportionate to either its value or its threat. Like space aliens, great big empires swoop in and say, “ Take me to your leader!” And if there is no leader, and the only bit of foreign policy this particular tribe ever happens to have developed is exhaustively described by the words “go away and leave us alone,” then a misunderstanding inevitably results and things end badly for both sides. Appointing a local stooge to sign legally-binding documents on behalf of the ungoverned territory that is supposed to behave like a nation-state does not work.

It would appear that the state cannot impose its authority on an area if its underlying, local system of governance is non-hierarchical, self-enforcing and decentralized, and has a strong tradition of uniting solely for the purpose of ganging up on outside threats and an equally strong tradition of attempting to avenge all wrongful deaths (such as a family member who has been killed by an American Predator drone). This happens to be the case with the Pashtuns. Their ancient and eternal code of conduct is Pashtunwali, or “The Pashtun Way.” The reason for following Pashtunwali is to be a good Pashtun. In turn, what a good Pashtun does is follow Pashtunwali. It is self-reinforcing because any Pashtun who does not follow Pashtunwali is unable to secure the cooperation of other Pashtuns, and has very low life expectancy, because ostracism is generally equivalent to a death sentence. Among the Pashtuns, there is no such thing as the right to life; there is only the reason for not killing someone right there and then. If this seems unnecessarily harsh to you, then what did you expect? A trip to Disneyland? Needless to say, the Pashtuns cannot be seduced with offers of social progress and economic development, because that is not the purpose of Pashtunwali. The purpose of Pashtunwali is to perpetuate Pashtunwali, and at this it is apparently very, very good.

Pashtun society is classified as segmentary, a subtype of acephalous (leaderless). The main figures of authority are the elders (maliks) who serve a local tribal chief (khan), but their leadership positions remain at all times contingent on putting the tribe’s interests first. All decisionmaking is consensus-based, severely restricting the scope of united action. However, when faced with an external threat, the Pashtuns are able to appoint a dictator, and to serve that dictator with absolute obedience until the threat is extinguished.

Pashtunwali defines the following key concepts: honor (nang) demands action regardless of consequences whenever Pashtunwali is violated. It is permissible to lie and kill to protect one’s nang. Revenge (badal) demands “an eye for an eye” in case of injury or damage, but crucially allows payment of restitution to avoid bloodshed. Incarceration is considered unacceptable and unjust under any circumstances. It is seen as interfering with justice, since it complicates the process of exacting revenge and precludes the payment of restitution. This is why Afghanistan has been the scene of spectacular prison escapes, where hundreds of inmates are freed in a single military-style attack; the attackers’ goal is not just to free prisoners but also to later kill them or collect restitution from them. The law of hospitality (nanawatai) demands that any Pashtun must welcome and provide sanctuary to anyone who asks for it. As a matter of nang, the guest must be kept perfectly secure and safe from all harm while a guest. Once over the threshold and no longer a guest, he can be sniped at one’s leisure should such an action be called for. Laws against harboring fugitives, serving as accessory after the fact, impeding official investigations and so forth are meaningless and attempts to enforce them automatically result in badal.

The local Pashtun governing body is the jirga, which is convened only on special occasions. It takes its roots from Athenian democracy, although some scholars argue that it predates it. The participants arrange themselves in a circle, and everyone has the right to speak. There is no one presiding, in accordance with the principle that no one is superior in the eyes of Pashtunwali. The decision is based on a majority consensus. Those who defy the decision of the jirga open themselves up to officially sanctioned arson and murder. It is significant that the jirga does not allow representation: it is a direct rather than a representative democracy. It is also crucial that the jirga reserves the right to abnegate any agreement previously entered into, making treaty-based state-legal relations with the Pashtuns impossible. Lastly, only those who follow Pashtunwali can participate in a jirga; all outsiders are automatically excluded.

This should give you some idea of why Pashtunwali presents an intractable problem for any empire that wants to dominate the Pashtuns. Now let us briefly glance at the long and tangled historical record of such attempts.

Empires break their teeth

The first modern empire to tangle with the Pashtuns was the British, who optimistically tried to impose the Indian Penal Code on them. When the Pashtuns refused to recognize this code as just, the result was a considerable amount of carnage. The British then abandoned attempts at imposing a system of justice and resorted to administrative means instead: their Closed Border Policy attempted to segregate the plains tribes from the hill tribes. This policy failed to stop the carnage and was abandoned after thirty years. Eventually the British were compelled to resort to accommodation by recognizing Pashtun tribal law. Then they bled profusely and departed in unseemly haste, leaving the Pashtuns to the Pakistanis, who mostly practiced accommodation as well. The Taliban movement, which is predominantly Pashtun-led, was recognized by Pakistan. Pakistan was content to allow Pashtun self-governance until September 11, 2001. Since then they have been compelled to at least make a show of imposing authority on the Pashtuns, in order to at least appear to cooperate with their American allies, although little remains of this cooperation today.

The Soviets blundered into Afghanistan in a misguided effort to defend socialism against regressive counterrevolutionary tendencies in accordance with the Brezhnev Doctrine. They made a futile attempt to eradicate ethnic and religious identities through a strategy of suppression, and succeeded, for a time, in consolidating control of urban areas while the predominantly Pashtun resistance established footholds in the hills surrounding the capital Kabul. They also relentlessly bombed the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to create a no-man’s land. In doing so, they failed on a grand scale, creating a very large refugee crisis and thus ensuring that their enemies had plenty of international support. Once, thanks to the efforts of the CIA (working closely with Osama bin Laden) the Pashtuns acquired Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, the Soviets gradually lost the ability to continue the air campaign.

The Soviets’ effort to win the Pashtun hearts and minds was likewise a spectacular failure. Pashtunwali demanded revenge for the Soviets’ military actions from even the most ambivalent Pashtuns. The few elders the Soviets were able to co-opt through intimidation or bribery swiftly lost the support of their followers. The Soviets withdrew in 1988, having made zero headway, and having lost the political will to succeed. It was a costly conflict with no benefits.

The Americans (and a few NATO troops) are currently in the process of repeating the Soviet experiment, with very similar results. Here is a nice little fact to illustrate this point: on March 18, 2012, Hamid Karzai, the American-imposed President of Afghanistan and an ethnic Pashtun (but an obvious apostate from Pashtunwali) denounced the Americans as “demons” engaged in “Satanic acts.” The Americans swiftly reacted... by saying nothing and doing even less. Then they trotted out some well-spoken media robopundits who said that Afghanistan is still, potentially, “a good war.” Thus, the result of the American invasion of Afghanistan is predictable: the Americans will pretend it never happened. When forced to discuss it, they will remain delusional. But mostly it won’t be in the news, and Americans will no longer know, or care, what happens there. The US initially blundered into Afghanistan under the delusion that they would find Osama bin Laden there (while, if you believe the news, Osama was in Pakistan, living quietly next to an army college). If jet airliners start crashing into skyscrapers again, odds are some other tribe will get “bombed back to the Stone Age.”

An approach that works

It is difficult but not impossible to constructively engage the Pashtuns: during better times, the Pakistanis came closest to doing so. They freely offered the few important gifts the Pashtuns were willing to accept and appreciate. They offered the Pashtuns a sense of participation by giving them a big audience and a voice. They provided an unlimited time horizon for engaging the Pashtuns as permanent neighbors, building traditional ties and long-term relationships. These activities were informed by an understanding that attempts to impose order without legitimate authority are bound to fail, coupled with the realization that with the Pashtuns any such legitimate authority must of necessity come from within and remain autonomous and decentralized.

Part of what made such accommodation succeed is the fact that Pakistan is a weak state with limited resources. But as long as there are mighty military empires stalking the planet (not for much longer, we should hope) we should expect that one of them will periodically come along and, just like the ones that came before it, break its teeth on Pashtunwali. You might think that they’d learn from each others’ mistakes, but then here is a simple rule for you to remember: the intelligence of a hierarchically organized group of people is inversely proportional to its size, and mighty military empires are so big, and consequently so dumb, that they never, ever learn anything.

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

The United Boomerang Outlet

A boomerang is a throwing stick used by certain Australian aboriginals. The better-known kind is the returning boomerang: upon reliably missing its target, its flies around in a circle and back to the person who threw it, possibly whacking him upside the head for a comical effect. Most of the ones in existence are Australian souvenirs, along with the didgeridoo, which is a hollow stick that makes a funny noise. Such must been the life in Australia before the White Man descended upon it: you went out and try to hunt with a crooked stick that flies back and eventually hits you upside the head, then gave up and went home, where you sat around making funny noises with a hollow stick. To complete the technology suite, there was also the digging stick, for digging up some wild tubers when you got hungry.

Outside of a niche application of flushing out small game animals, it is a joke weapon that is rarely, if ever, offered for sale in serious hunting shops. Anthropologists working in Australia did find an old skeleton with skull and rib fractures they thought were made by a boomerang, having ruled out the didgeridoo and the digging stick for lack of a sharp edge. This led them to think that the boomerang could have been used as a weapon of murder and war. An alternative theory is that the poor person who once owned this skeleton simply had the habit of throwing his boomerang and then forgetting that he threw it. And so he just stood around gawking until it flew back and hit him.

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Sunday, June 20, 2021

Biden's Big Ask

The much talked about the US-RF summit in Geneva came and went and yet no commentator so far has ventured to ask a very simple and very necessary question: What was Biden there to ask?

We know that the American side asked for this meeting while the Russians merely agreed, seeing in it a risk-free chance to clear the air and perhaps restore a modicum of international cooperation on key issues such as cybersecurity. Negotiating some major new agreement with the Americans was never the plan: the Russians have decided some time ago that the American side is nedogovorosposóbnaya—non-agreement-capable. If the Americans don't honor the treaties they have already signed, such as the intermediate-range missile treaty or the open skies treaty, what is the point of entering into more agreements with them—for them to also not honor?

On the other hand, a tête-à-tête with Putin was by no means a risk-free endeavor for Biden. The American body public has managed to paint itself into the corner of demanding that its president be "tough on Russia" "Nobody was tougher on Russia than me," quoth Trump recently from the sidelines. Indeed, right after his confab with Putin Biden found himself confronting screechy journalists declaring him at fault for not extracting a confession from Putin for things Putin hadn't done. There is an entire litany of nonsense that Biden was required to recite—the Skripal and Navalny attempted murder, election meddling, hacking attacks, etc.—all unproven and therefore all nonsense—and to all of them the Russians react with a typical Russian gesture of twisting their index fingers at their temples, indicating that the ones who spout such nonsense are non compos mentis. That was a no-win situation for Biden, and yet he took the risk. What for? What was the big prize for him?

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Sunday, June 13, 2021

The Technosphere chokes on a chip

The technosphere, which I defined in my 2016 book Shrinking the Technosphere as a nonhuman global emergent intelligence driven by an abstract teleology of total control, has seen its interests greatly advanced in the course of the 2020-21 coronavirus pandemic, with large parts of human populations forced to submit to control measures that made a mockery of their vaunted human rights and democratic values. This is as expected: the technosphere's most potent technologies are its killing technologies, and the way it goes about using them reflects its profound hatred for all living things, especially the willful and hard to control ones. But then the technosphere started to shrink—in certain locales. It is still going strong in others, but it not to early to imagine (dare I say, predict?) how it might continue shrink and what the consequences are going to be.

In my book, I described the reasons why and the methods how we should avoid becoming trapped under the inert hulk of the technosphere. I even provided a worksheet which readers could use to track their progress in freeing themselves from the technosphere's clutches. This was, as was to be expected, to no avail. The only how-to books in this world are cookbooks; the rest are read mainly for entertainment—first alone and, later, at cocktail parties. And the purpose of writing them is to make a bit of extra money to pay baby-sitters (at least it was in my case at the time).

To understand what seems likely to unfold, have to first delve into the technosphere's ontology: what does its emergent intelligence software it run on? It turns out that, seen as a network operating system, it runs partially on human brains but mostly on various microchips, with a wide assortment of optical, electromagnetic and mechanical sensors attached. Although humans still (think that) they exercise a modicum of control over the technosphere, it is the technosphere's natural tendency to take control away from humans even unto life-and-death decisions, as evidenced by a recent event in Libya where an unmanned military aircraft autonomously made the decision to kill someone. And exercising control requires control circuitry.

Having had successful careers as an electronics engineer and then as a software engineer, I am something of a walking, talking museum of automation technology, and can take you on a brief tour of its development. The dumbest control element is the light switch. It has no memory and it decides nothing. The next slightly less stupid control element is a toggle: it remembers whether the light is on or off and when pushed turns it off or on, respectively. This is already surprisingly far along: to build a computer, we need just a few more elements. We need a threshold switch with two buttons, which, depending on what you want, turns the light on when either button is pushed (called an "or gate") or when both buttons are pushed (called an "and gate"). We also need a "not": something that turns the light off when actuated. Finally, we need an actuator; instead of turning on a light bulb, all of these elements should be able to push each others' buttons. And now we are off to the races!

Saturday, June 05, 2021

Putin fully agrees with me

"The United States are making sure-footed strides directly along the path of the Soviet Union."
It's been 16 years since I published my article "Post-Soviet Lessons for a Post-American Century." It was based on realizations I made a decade earlier, back in 1996, upon returning to the States after observing the aftermath of the Soviet collapse. Since then I have been focused on what I saw as the main causes of collapse in both the Soviet and in the American case: exorbitant debt, problems in the energy sector and unreformable political systems mired in corruption, their elites delusional in their feelings of omnipotence. And now comes a truly eerie analogy: the powder keg that detonated under the USSR was ethnic nationalism and separatism; and the powder keg that is currently detonating under the US is "woke" (anti-)racism: another brand of ethnic fascism but with American characteristics.

That article opened with the following paragraph:
A decade and a half ago the world went from bipolar to unipolar, because one of the poles fell apart: The S.U. is no more. The other pole – symmetrically named the U.S. – has not fallen apart – yet, but there are ominous rumblings on the horizon. The collapse of the United States seems about as unlikely now as the collapse of the Soviet Union seemed in 1985.
At the time my message was perceived as being provocative but very far from the political mainstream thinking of the time. But the world has since caught up with me. The following quotes (translation mine) are from Vladimir Putin's address and the currently running St. Petersburg World Economic Forum.

Мы слышим угрозы, продолжающиеся из Конгресса, еще откуда-то. Все это делается в ходе внутриполитических процессов США. Вот люди, которые это делают, они исходят, видимо, из того, что мощь, экономическая, США, военная мощь, политическая, такова, что это не страшно, что это мы переживем, они думают

We are hearing threats coming out of US Congress and elsewhere. This is happening in the course of internal political processes within the USA. The people who make these threats are assuming, it would seem, that the power of the USA, its economic, military and political power, is such that this isn't serious, that they will survive this. That's what they think.

Вы знаете, в чем проблема, я вам расскажу как бывший гражданин бывшего Советского Союза. В чем проблема империй – им кажется, что они такие могущественные, что они могут позволить себе небольшие погрешности и ошибки. Этих купим, этих напугаем, с этими договоримся, этим дадим бусы, этим погрозим военными кораблями. И это решит проблемы. Но количество проблем нарастает. Наступает момент, когда с ними уже не справиться. И Соединенные Штаты уверенной поступью, уверенной походкой, твердым шагом идут прямо по пути Советского Союза.

But I'll tell you what the problem is, as a former citizen of the Soviet Union. The problem of empires is that they imagine themselves to be so powerful that they can allow themselves small miscalculations and errors. Some they'll bribe, some they'll scare, some they'll make a deal with, some they'll give glass beads, some they'll frighten with warships—and this will fix problems. But the number of problems continues to grow. There comes a moment when they can no longer cope with them. The United States are making sure-footed strides directly along the path of the Soviet Union.

It is one thing for such thoughts to be expressed by a little-known blogger; it is quite another for them to be voiced by the long-standing leader of a world superpower at a very prestigious and well-attended international forum. Those of you who have not been paying attention, or have but see the collapse of the USA as a somewhat whimsical, futuristic notion, need to pinch themselves.

If there is anything at all that you can do to prepare, your time is short. This is not a drill.

The Arctic Fox is at your door. 

Thursday, June 03, 2021

The Order of the Arctic Fox


Why the Arctic Fox?

And wherefore cometh he?

There arise occasions in the course of human affairs that cannot be properly characterized without resorting to the strongest possible language. In situations when nothing can be made to work and all has come undone the term “collapse” tends to get a lot of use, but it is too abstract and too technical to do justice to the visceral experience of the event. It comes from the Latin col-labi—to slip together—but the exclamation “Goodness gracious, we slipped together!” just doesn't resonate.

What one is more likely to hear is something more along the lines of “Holy shit, we are totally fucked!” or some other string of obscene expletives, and this rather spoils the solemnity of the occasion. What is called for is a way to ennoble our suffering, not to cheapen it with vulgar expressions.

The connection between the sacred (that which is holy) and the sacral (that which is related to the pelvis and its varied functions) is a most intimate one. Both derive from sacrum, which is an anatomical term: it is the triangular bone in the lower back formed from fused vertebrae and situated between the two hipbones of the pelvis. The word is a Latin translation—os sacrum—of the Greek term—hieron osteon (holy bone)—for the Ancient Greeks believed the sacrum to be the seat of the soul. There may be something to this belief: when we suddenly realize that we may be about to die and as our soul makes emergency preparations to leave the body, we tend to experience a pronounced tingling sensation centered on the sacrum. The entire pelvis also tends to become affected: the anal sphincter relaxes, sometimes resulting in something vernacularly referred to as “losing one’s shit,” and, in men, the scrotum tightens and the testicles retract.

At that point many people also involuntarily utter sacrilegious profanities (there’s sacrum again!) which freely combine references to sex, defecation, genitalia, motherhood and God. Across many languages much use is made of vulgar terms for female genitalia: they form a sacred portal through which all human (and even some divine) life enters this world, and this makes references to them particularly potent in this context.

The holy and the obscene are really one and the same; swearing is a form of prayer and the female pelvis is the altar to which we spontaneously direct our prayers when we suddenly find ourselves in extremis. One often hears that there are no atheists to be found aboard a foundering ship but a lot of cursing/praying to be heard; are these two in some sense not the same?

The need to be vivid and evocative yet polite when referring to financial, commercial, political, social and cultural collapse forces people to resort to euphemisms. One nation that has a recent and profound of experience of collapse is Russia, having lost an estimated ten million people to alcoholism, violence, emigration and despair in the wake of the collapse of the USSR during the 1990s.

Referring to collapse, the Russians tend to make references to “the white furry animal,” thereby indirectly referring to the arctic fox, Vulpes lagopus. The Russian word for it is песец (peséts). It is a polite substitute for the term пиздец (pizdéts), which is reasonably well conveyed by the English exclamation “Holy shit, we are totally fucked!” It is in turn derived from the word пизда (pizdá), which is a vulgar term for female genitalia.

Take this white fluffy animal into your heart, and you will no longer have to wanly banter about collapse; instead, you can now harness the full depth of the sacred and the profane and refer to it as “the advent of the arctic fox” or, if you want to be coy and use a euphemism, you can instead obliquely mention “a certain furry animal.” Those in the know will appreciate this bit of finesse while those who have no idea... well, what of them?

Witnesses to the advent of the arctic fox need a sacred symbol, which I am happy to provide. In keeping with the light-hearted, whimsical nature of the subject, it is a talisman that symbolizes Golgotha, with four crosses rather than the usual three. One cross is, perforce, for Jesus Christ. At the center is the symbol of Death, which Christ vanquished through His resurrection. Two more crosses are for St. Petrov and St. Boshirov, the intrepid time-traveling GRU agents who will have had been crucified together with Jesus, cleverly disguised as the two thieves. And the fourth cross is for your own good self: on it you will be crucified during the advent of the arctic fox but will, with any luck, be reborn into a new life once the arctic fox departs.


Please order your copy of The Arctic Fox Cometh, available locally wherever has a foothold (now including Australia).

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Brave Soldiers Petrov and Boshirov at the Arsenal in Vrbetice, Czechia

Text of the investigative report by J. Hašek, Bellingcat

His excellency said: "Petrov and Boshirov, you are scoundrels! But since you want to serve, go and learn to work with guncotton. It will do you good."

And so brave soldiers Petrov and Boshirov went to work at the arsenal, learning to pack guncotton into artillery shells. It's a tricky business: you could get blasted up in the air at any time, and then it's curtains!

But brave soldiers Petrov and Boshirov did not shy away from this work. Quite contented, they spent their days in a separate barrack, sitting between casks of dynamite, ecrasite and guncotton, packing artillery shells with these frightening substances and singing battle hymns.

After some rousing battle hymns there followed heartfelt songs about dumplings the size of a person's head, which Petrov and Boshirov swallowed with indescribable pleasure.

Monday, May 24, 2021

The Arctic Fox Cometh [new book]

I am happy to announce that my newest book of essays is finally ready to order. It contains a choice selection of essays which I have written over the past year and a half, carefully edited and proofread and typeset in easy to read 12-point type on ecologically benign paper in a tastefully designed paperback tome of 300 pages. Thousands of my faithful subscribers on Patreon and SubscribeStar have already been given access to these essays as soon as I wrote them. And now I am very glad to be able to offer them to the whole wide world.


We don’t know when it will come.
We don’t know what it will be like.
But we do know that it will come
and that we won’t like it
at all.

There arise occasions in the course of human affairs that cannot be properly characterized without resorting to the strongest possible language. In situations when nothing can be made to work and all has come undone the term “collapse” tends to get a lot of use, but it is too abstract and too technical to do justice to the visceral experience of the event. The need to be vivid and evocative yet polite when referring to financial, commercial, political, social and cultural collapse forces people to resort to euphemisms. Referring to collapse, the Russians tend to make references to “the white furry animal,” thereby indirectly referring to the arctic fox, Vulpes lagopus. Take this white fluffy animal into your heart, and you will no longer have to wanly banter about collapse; instead, you can now harness the full depth of the sacred and the profane and refer to it as “the advent of the arctic fox” or, if you want to be coy and use a euphemism, you can instead obliquely mention “a certain furry animal.”


Why the Arctic Fox?

My Political Credo

Putin, Kipling and the Russian Man’s Burden

Putin’s Latest Warning

Real Life

Real Life—The Redux

Getting Hyperinflation Right

Why Trump was bound to fail

The Great Reset as a Suicide Pact

A Beautiful Plan

How American Propaganda helps Russian Propaganda

Voices from the Grave by Microsoft

The Petrochemical Pandemic

Genghis Khan does America

How the World has Changed Lately

World Satanic Society Year-End Report

The Stupidest News Story of the Year

Lunar Soil Revisited

Are Americans Rational?

“Watch this!”

Nefarious Objectives

The Novichok Spa Treatment

Harder, Faster, Deeper!

How to vote for Satan

The Virtuous Collapse Sequence

Charting the Collapse of the American Empire

Beheading the Statue of Liberty

Post-Collapse Administration

Repent&Pay™ Considered Harmful

The Great Wall of Russia

The Coronavirus of Kindness

Gaslighting the Coronavirus

The Clay Machine Gun

Bat-eating Troglodytes of Wuhan

The Global Warming Apocalyptic Cult

2020: New Decade, New Rules

Predictions for the 2020s


Saturday, May 08, 2021

My Political Credo

Given the high level of political polarization in the US and, increasingly, in Western Europe, it seems rather important to avoid getting caught in the crossfire. Some inquiring minds may wish to know what my political stance is: am I perhaps a Trumper or a Bidenoid? Am I a communist or a fascist? It is no use telling people that I am none of the above. People automatically assume that if you are not one thing, then you must be the other. Luckily, I do have a principled political credo. It's not even individually mine; I share it with my colleague Sergei Vasilyev and probably a whole lot of other reasonable-minded people who will gladly accept it as their own once they have read it. And so, without further ado, here is my (and Sergei's) political credo.

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Thursday, April 29, 2021

Putin, Kipling and the Russian Man's Burden

In his speech, of 21.04.2021 Putin made a very sharp cultural reference which, if unfolded, offers some major insights as to current events and what is likely to unfold.

First, some background. In February of 2021 Josep Borrell, EU's chief diplomat, made a trip to Moscow which was roundly declared a disaster. While in Moscow, Borrell demanded that Russia release Alexei Navalny, who had just serving out his sentence for a previous fraud conviction. In return, Borrell was shown a video montage of human rights atrocities perpetuated by European police against demonstrators in a number of EU countries and was told that such behavior was unacceptable, implying that the EU was in no position to lecture Russia on human rights.

His trip coincided with the expulsion of a group of European diplomats who had interfered in Russia's internal affairs by becoming involved in political protests there, this being inconsistent with their diplomatic status. Thereafter, minister Sergei Lavrov declared that although relations with the EU are almost dead, Russia will continue to develop its relations with individual European nations. Then, a little less than two months later, several European countries, all of them formerly part of the East Bloc but now part of NATO, started expelling Russian diplomats on a thought-up pretext.

And then came Putin's speech of 21.04.2021, which contained the following passage: "We want to maintain good relations with everyone who participates in the international dialogue. But we see what is happening in real life. As I said, every now and then they are picking on Russia, for no reason. And of course, all sorts of petty Tabaquis are running around them like Tabaqui ran around Sheer Khan – everything is like in Kipling's book – howling along in order to make their sovereign happy. Kipling was a great writer." Upon hearing these words, much of the Federal Assembly he was addressing smiled and laughed. Putin's arrow found its target.

What does this all mean?

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Friday, April 23, 2021

Putin's Latest Warning

Putin picked the 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century, in the 21st year of his illustrious reign as an auspicious date on which to give his annual address to Russia's Federal Assembly. You can read it yourself here. What follows is my own opinion as to what it means.

Here's a very short summary:

1. The "war" of 2020 is over and Russia has won
2. Russia is going to be very busy making life better for its people
3. Anyone who tries to interfere with Russia will regret it.

Now, let me unfold this for you.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Putin's Ukrainian Judo

A terrible war is about to erupt on Russia's border with the Ukraine—or not—but there is some likelihood of a significant number of people getting killed before project Ukraine is finally over. Given that around 13 thousand people have been killed over the past seven years—the civil war in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine has gone on for that long!—this is no laughing matter. But people get desensitized to the mostly low-level warfare that has killed over ten thousand people. Just over the past couple of weeks a grandfather was shot by a Ukrainian sniper while feeding his chickens and a young boy was killed by a bomb precision-dropped on him from a Ukrainian drone.

But what's about to happen now is forecasted to be on a different scale: the Ukrainians are moving heavy armor and troops up to the line of separation while the Russians are moving theirs up to their side of the Ukrainian border, a position from which they can blast any and all Ukrainian troops straight out of the gene pool without so much as setting foot on Ukrainian territory—should they wish to do so. The Russians can justify their military involvement by the need to defend their own citizens: over the past seven years half a million residents in eastern Ukraine have applied for and been granted Russian citizenship. But how exactly can Russia defend its citizens while they are stuck in the crossfire between Russian and Ukrainian forces?

The rationale of defending its citizens led to conflict in the briefly Georgian region of South Ossetia, which started on August 8, 2008 and lasted barely a week, leaving Georgia effectively demilitarized. Russia rolled in, Georgia's troops ran off, Russia confiscated some of the more dangerous war toys and rolled out. Georgia's paper warriors and their NATO consultants and Israeli trainers were left wiping each others' tears. Any suggestion of arming and equipping the Georgians since then is met with groaning and eye-rolling. Is the upcoming event in eastern Ukraine going to be similar to the swift and relatively painless defanging of Georgia in 2008? Given that the two situations are quite different, it seems foolish to think that the approach to resolving them would be the same.

Is it different this time and is World War III is about to erupt with eastern Ukraine being used as a trigger for this conflagration? Do the various statements made at various times by Vladimir Putin provide a solid enough basis for us to guess at what will happen next? Is there a third, typically, infuriatingly Russian approach to resolving this situation, where Russia wins, nobody dies and everyone in the West is left scratching their heads?

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Thursday, April 01, 2021

Real Life


I am in the midst of thinking out the next big essay. In the meantime, here is a small vignette from my day-to-day life that I thought you might enjoy.



Monday, March 15, 2021

Getting Hyperinflation Right


Profligate money printing by the US Federal Reserve and by other Western central banks has amounted to around $10 trillion over just the last year. The amount of currency in circulation has grown to $2 trillion, breaking a record set in 1945 and showing an almost 12% increase over 2019. The US federal budget deficit stands at just about $3.5 trillion, which is over 16% of GDP—the highest it's been since World War II. Meanwhile, the US federal debt has just topped $28 trillion. Over the past year the US has overspent its revenues by a staggering 194%.

Prices are going up everywhere even as the underlying economy remains in coronavirus-inspired doldrums, specifically because consumption has been repressed, with the coronavirus as an excuse, to delay the onset of hyperinflation. And then the Chairman of the Federal Reserve steps in and calms the troubled waters by publicly claiming that "There is no reason to be afraid of hyperinflation." This sounds a lot like denial, which is the first of the five stages of grief, after which come anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Powell said "hyperinflation"; therefore, there shall be hyperinflation.

What happens to the value of money when a government prints lots of it—to spend or to simply hand out to people—is that the money becomes less valuable because there is more money per unit things to buy with it. The expectation that this trend will continue then triggers a continuous process of increasing prices, called inflation, while the resulting expectation that the rate of inflation will continue to increase triggers hyperinflation.

My view is that hyperinflation is hardly a problem at all and that, quite the opposite, it is a solution to a great many pressing problems. Here we will look at hyperinflation as nature's gentle way of solving the problems of a society that has forgotten how to live within its means. But nature needs help. Just as a radical weight loss program can go better given some input from an expert nutritionist, hyperinflation too has its best practices, which I am eager to impart.

Friday, February 26, 2021

A Conversation with Piero San Giorgio about the Great Reset and the Pandemic



Lots of questions on the magic building material I mentioned at the end. It's called arbolite. Another example of crazy Soviet engineering that deserves a second look. 5 buckets of wood chip to 2 kilos of cement, 2 kilos of stone dust (from making crushed stone), just enough water to wet it through, liquid soap enough to break surface tension, any one or several of a number of common chemicals to bind the sugars in wood that interfere with cement curing. Mix, pour, tamp down. Looks ugly (but holds plaster beautifully, preferably sawdust plaster with some lime and just a bit of cement), has thermal characteristics very close to those of solid wood, a specific weight of around 0,7 (so it floats), doesn't burn or rot, nothing will eat it, strong enough to hold up 3 floors and a roof. Not a good material for taller buildings unless a frame is used. Great filler for post-beam-and-filler (e.g., Fachwerk) architecture. Except for cement the materials are all free (better than free if you get paid to haul them away). Can be drilled and sawed easily, holds nails. Unlike brick and other types of masonry, doesn't crack and can take a ridiculous amount of distortion before failing. Sledgehammer blows produce a dull thud and make it shrug. Great stuff, highly recommended. A total redneck lifehack (don't repeat that too loudly!). Email me if you want to give it a try.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Why Trump was bound to fail

American society is at this point so polarized that the vast majority cannot see a thing—any thing—for itself. They can only see each thing from the right or from the left, and so all they can see is what it looks like from the right or the left, not what it actually is, because to see that they would have to soar above it—above politics, that is. But if I were to tell you that I can soar above politics and give you an eagle's eye view of Donald Trump's presidency, you would be quite reasonably suspicious of my own political biases, whether conscious or not. To get around this problem, what I will present is a view of Donald Trump's presidency from the vantage point of one of America's enemies—of those that America has publicly singled out as its enemies—namely, Russia. Russian analysts—the ones I particularly respect, being a very choosy connoisseur of Russian analysts—tend to see Trump as a useful idiot. They are somewhat disappointed that Trump turned out to be insufficiently useful and a bit too much of an idiot.

This is interesting but not too important; Trump's presidency is over, Trump's (second!) impeachment trial is over, and waiting for the outcome of future criminal cases alleging that Trump led an insurrection is like waiting for the cat to catch the last mouse. But Trump's movement, his followers and supporters, have not gone anywhere, and given the non-negligible likelihood that the Biden administration will turn out to be a much larger disaster than Trump's was, we may yet live to see a Trump 2.0 and a Trump 3.0 and so on, none of which, according to my favorite Russian analysis, will work any better for a whole set of well understood reasons. Do you want to know what they are? Well, then, read on!

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Monday, February 08, 2021

The Great Reset as a Suicide Pact

The recent virtual meeting of the world's richest at Davos made quite a bit of noise. In the run-up to it the perennial fluffer of plutocratic egos Klaus Schwab published a very short book about what he's been calling The Great Reset. It has given rise to catchy slogans such as "You’ll own nothing... and you’ll be happy about it." One of the people invited to speak at this meeting was Vladimir Putin. What he said put people in a state of shock. "But what about Europe?!" Schwab cried out plaintively as soon as Putin finished speaking. "Mr. Putin, will Russia save Europe?!" "Possibly," said Putin. Of the assembled worthies, 80 immediately signed up for a closed conference with Putin to find out how to get in on that. After taking all of this in and letting it simmer in my brain-pan for a couple of weeks, I believe I now understand what the Great Reset is: it is an oligarchic suicide pact. Please allow me to explain...

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Saturday, January 30, 2021

A Beautiful Plan

It looked great on paper. Get Joe Biden into office, get Janet Yellen to print many more trillions of dollars, inflate the Everything Bubble to astronomic proportions and then... pop it, of course, but in a delicately choreographed manner so that those who are well connected and in the know head for the exits first and make a killing while everyone else ends up sleeping in cardboard boxes on median strips under highway overpasses. What did you think they were going to do, make America great again? That bit of populist demagogy was a bit too transparently bogus even for The Donald. He just wanted to sell some hats.

In any case, back to the plan. It was a beautiful plan, and it could have worked out just great for Biden's presidential coffin and all who sail in her, except for one tiny problem... 

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Thursday, January 28, 2021

How American Propaganda helps Russian Propaganda

Which kind of propaganda do you prefer, the Russian kind or the American kind? Since neither can be said to be the actual unbiased truth (the term "propaganda" is a dead giveaway) and since it seems important for you to know the actual unbiased truth (please tell me why) you may like neither. But it's one of those situations where you have to choose because telling the actual unvarnished truth in a sufficiently detailed and factual way would surely put you to sleep. By now I have learned how to keep an audience awake, and it's by telling a story—a narrative, if you will. And a story, to be interesting, has to have a main protagonist and one or more antagonists. That's just how our monkey brains are wired, so don't blame me!

Speaking of brains, American propaganda seems a bit brain-dead: it is sedative, somniferous, somnolent and stupefying (that's a poetic device called alliteration, by the way). Just look at these silly headlines (slightly edited for effect):

• "Evil Russian dictator poisons leading Russian opposition candidate with chemical weapon"

• "Evil Russian dictator arrests leading Russian opposition candidate"

• "Millions of Russians protest against arrest of leading Russian opposition candidate"

• "Americans ready to impose more sanctions on Russia for the poisoning and arrest of leading Russian opposition candidate to stop a German-Russian consortium from completing an economically necessary natural gas pipeline to Germany" (Oops! One of these things is not like the others!)

Please allow me to explain to you why this American propaganda onslaught is having the opposite of its intended effect.

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Friday, January 22, 2021

Voices from the Grave by Microsoft

In my 2016 book Shrinking the Technosphere, I wrote:

...[A] movement will develop to virtualize people in their entirety, their heads included, by replacing them with computer simulations. At first this will be done to keep your loved ones seemingly alive once they have passed away, but later people of child-bearing age will decide that having virtual, simulated children is much less troublesome than having physical ones, what with all of the expense of giving them neural implants and later having their bodies amputated. People in their advanced years, fearing the onset of dementia, will opt to have their brains digitized ahead of time to avoid embarrassing themselves on social media.

And this will set in motion the final, inexorable trend in which actual, physical humans will be replaced with computer simulations of them. By then computing power will have progressed to the point where the simulations will bear an uncanny resemblance to the supposed original, being able to text things like “OMG!” and “LOL!” and exchange selfies of their simulated duckfaces in front of simulated tourist locations just like the originals once did.

Monday, January 18, 2021

The Petrochemical Pandemic

I wonder, at what point will it become obvious to a critical fraction of people that the problem being addressed by shutdowns, lockdowns, curfews and various other supposedly epidemic control measures, which are really consumption suppression measures, is not epidemiological but petrochemical, driven by the need to curtail the consumption of oil in a systematic and symmetrical manner? After all, this has become obvious to me already. Can it really be that I am alone? Please allow me to clue you in.

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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Genghis Khan does America

The political situation in the US being rather confused at the moment, it would be foolish to add to the already ridiculously huge pile of political commentary another brick of political nonsense. To boot, I would have trouble laying such a brick since I truly, deeply, sincerely don't care. Over a decade ago I have successfully predicted the collapse trajectory the US would follow and can now sit back in Buddha-like contentment, repeating my favorite political mantra: "The US is not a democracy and it doesn't matter who is president." Recent developments have forced most sentient life forms to agree with me that the US is not a democracy; and it is a matter of time before they also concede that it doesn't matter who is president.

The path forward for the US is perfectly clear: there isn't one. At least there isn't a path forward for the US as it had been conceived of and constituted up to but not including the present. Of course, something or other will continue happening, no matter how nasty and dismal. For example, a viable though particularly nasty development would be to bring back the institution of slavery, in the form of prison labor. The system is already in place; it just needs to be enlarged. One traditional way of enlarging it, perfected during the Great Depression, is to dispossess millions of people, then arrest and imprison them for vagrancy.

I will have more to say about this later, but what I want to do here is take many steps back and look at an interesting hypothetical situation: what would Genghis do? What would come of the US if it were part of Genghis Khan's Empire of the Blue Sky?

The Mongol Empire, or the Empire of the Blue Sky, once encompassed most of Eurasia and the Russian Federation, in many ways its inheritor, still encompasses a major chunk of it. When the Golden Horde (the westernmost part of the Mongol Empire) faded out, it melded with the Russian Empire which was burgeoning at the time, and as the Russian Empire spread east toward the Pacific and China it absorbed peoples already inured to Mongol rule as a superior alternative to the horrible fate of endlessly fighting each other. It took some time for the Mongol term "yasak" (tribute) to be replaced with the Russian "nalog" (tax). It is Genghis Khan's great genius, and the ethos it produced, that has produced the world's largest land empire that, under different names, has persisted for seven centuries, and that neither Napoleon nor Hitler could destroy.

The Empire of the Blue Sky was prevented from expanding to the Americas by the geographic impediment of the Bering Strait (the Mongols were not seafarers, which is why they conquered and ruled Korea but not Japan). But Bering Strait was a land bridge as recently as 13000 years ago, and so this is just a quirk of timing. For the sake of this discussion, we'll assume that the descendants of Genghis were able to drive their herds and their wagons loaded with yurts across to the Americas and after a few decisive battles, and perhaps some slaughtering of the uncooperative and the unreasonable, peace was established. Let's imagine the empire died back a bit in recent decades because of drought on the prairie, but after a few years of plentiful rains its herds recovered and it came roaring back. Upon stampeding into Washington to sort things out once again... what would the Great Khan find on arrival? And what would he do about it?

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Tuesday, January 05, 2021

How the World has Changed Lately

A lot of prognosticators have been been busily prognosticating something or other for the new year, based on a belief that any given year is somehow distinctly and significantly different from any of the previous ones. Of course we all know that a timestamp is just a measurement of time to some specific precision, and any appeals to numerology smack of the occult—something that the Fathers of the Church once called "calendrical heresy."

Yes, the Earth does orbit around the Sun (overruling objections from the Globalist Flat Earth Society) and there are some interesting geometric points along its path called solstices and equinoxes, but that's about it. And, yes, there are some rituals connected with these interesting points, such as wishing everyone a "Happy New Year!" But as far as predictions, I'd be happy to leave that to the astrologers... except that some of my readers have been clamoring for a forecast of some sort, and so I'll try to oblige.

A few things have changed in the world of late that seem very important to know about. Unfortunately, these things cannot be explained to a great many people because they lack the basic concepts in their heads that are needed to understand them. Instead, their heads have been filled with various other synthetic concepts and beliefs that are of dubious consequence. For instance, a great many people seem to think that "globalism" is a thing. Sure, if globalism is the ideological conviction that the Earth is a globe rather than, say, a dodecahedron, then, sure, I believe in globalism. People believe all sorts of things—reptiloids, insectoids, human DNA-editing vaccines, Bitcoin, the Great Reset... You may believe whatever you want, but I am not really into any of that.

Instead, I'll just make some observations about how the world has changed in the last 1.5­±0.5 years (I believe that's the right time window). These are irrevocable, irretrievable changes of the "you can't squeeze the toothpaste back in the tube" variety. I think that they are fairly obvious, and I apologize for wasting your time if you do so too, but a great many people seem to have missed them, so I'll mention them.

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