Thursday, December 3, 2020

Mixology: Introducing "The Frost"

Well, it seems it's time again for another visit to the Gauntlet's colorful but not frequently visited mixology feature.

Today's creation is somewhat seasonally inspired, and I think, came out fairly well, especially in light of the fact that there was a distinct danger that this drink could have turned out absolutely atrocious.

However, it did not, and my daughter coined its name as "The Frost" - due to it's shimmering silver quality. In general it's a light, dainty, fruity, and whimsical, sort of cocktail. 

So let's get right to it.

You will need:

1 ounce of Peach Schnapps

I ounce of Butterscotch Schnapps

I ounce of Vodka (preferably Tito's)

1/2 ounce of Simple Syrup

3 drops of Vanilla Extract

Shake with Ice

Mix with 4 ounces of Club Soda

Optionally garnish with a Slice of Light Syrup Peach

Enjoy!

Please feel free to try out the previous beverages presented in Mixology department - "The Emerald City", "The Brookside", and "The Island Leprechaun".

Till next time.

Monday, November 30, 2020

From the Writer's Studio: Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White...and Sometimes Bad Guys Do! - Writing Complex Villains

Welcome back to the often loquacious Gauntlet of Balthazar for another foray into the deconstruction of literary archetypes, and hopefully a growing primer of techniques that will enable you to arm your growing screenwriting palette with the "oomph" necessary to craft the greatest possible scripts your abilities will allow. For all the rest, if you prefer only to consume art, then hopefully this post will just make for some compelling reading.

In this installment of the Studio I'd like to take a look at the hero versus villain duality, and how the grey areas even within seemingly polar opposite foes, can be laced with nuance and counter-indications which will help make those characters come alive off the page. In this, I'm talking about full extremes - not just moving the characters into the protagonist versus antagonist zone. So, you're welcome!

Back when I was a kid, my father used to take me to the movie theater, and afterwards would sometimes announce, "The quality of the hero is defined by the qualities of the villain", and in this he was for the most part correct. I say that he was mostly correct only because in my mind if all that defines the hero is his or her opposition to the villain, then while this is a motivation that can be easily understood by audiences, oh what a cardboard character must he or she be. 

Saying that, the audience has to in general understand what has driven the villain to "evil", or the character will appear to them as a melodramatic caricature, and in the worst cases will seem all but comical. To address this an element of loss, suffering, abuse, or a slow change over time can be inserted to justify the reality of the character.  Notwithstanding, evil for evil's sake does have an appeal. But even the most archetypal baddies - the prideful Christian Lucifer, Shakespeare's scheming Lady MacBeth and Hamlet's presumptuous Uncle, Star War's tragic hero cum villain Darth Vader, The Manchurian Candidate's manipulative Eleanor Iselin, the despicably self-motivated Colonel William Tavington of the Patriot, Disney's mysterious Maleficent, the Wizard of Oz's Wicked Witch of the West, Batman's chaos-psyche filled Joker, Harry Potter's sinister Lord Voldemort, and any other looming figure in print or on celluloid all possess a history of causal events, sometimes justifiable doctrinal beliefs, and / or personal motivations that can be easily understood by everyone - even if their actions and machinations are revolting to the average person.

One practical exercise that could serve as a technique for building nuance into your villain might be to think of superhero costumes. Yes, I know. Silly. But yet, we routinely find both sides donning masks. The hero has only two reasons for obscuring his or her identity. One, to protect the identity of his or her loved ones from being drawn into his or her conflicts and and suffering reprisals, and two, to appear as symbolic of an ideology, such as Captain America, standing for, uh, the American way - liberty, freedom, individuality, and all that.

Villains on the other hand, wish to conceal their identity so they are harder to identify by the authorities, right? But this is simplistic approach, since the majority of masked malefactors are in positions where their evil persona is all that they are, or have become. Sure they can wear their costume as a symbol of their ideology just as some heroes do, but true villains - especially the very worst of them, don't really care about the fate of their loved ones, right? So why bother with a mask? Well, it could be that the villain is aware on a deeper level that what he or she is doing is absolutely repugnant, and so the mask is worn out of shame. 

Shame is the fulcrum on which a villain teeters - the miasma between the actual human part of their personality and the persona they have adopted. It is this conflict in which you can explore the grey areas of these sort of characters souls while maintaining their status as your book, script, or film's overarching threat.

Of course, implied or overt threat can be presented without malevolent intent - such as the shark in "Jaws", who merely hunts, as is her nature. But it is that lack of malevolent intent that defines a threat generator not as a villain, but as an antagonist. You might fear or hate the shark, and project intent onto her, but the feeling is not mutual. Sharks don't feel hate for you. They are what they are.

But back to characters who possess malevolent intent and have an overarching plan - the two main definers of villainy. If the character you have designed appears to pursue his or her "plan", with consistency and malevolence, then by default, they will not be perceived as simply an antagonist - no matter how much shame, introspection, sympathy, regret, or even likability, you imbue them with.

I personally really enjoy writing compelling villains, (especially in an serialized context), who present the trifecta of "P" motivations - personal, philosophical, and plan. Add to this the malevolence, and all you need is back-story, interpersonal relationships, and the power structure in which they enact their villainy. 

It has often been said that a villain believes he is the hero of his own story, and this is absolutely not only true, but it is essential in designing a nuanced and layered villain. Marvel's ultimate bad guy, the Mad Titan Thanos, is a great example of this, in that he fulfills all of the requirements listed above. However, I should point out that in the comic books and graphic novels of yore, one of his primary personal motivations for his proposed "universal reset" was that he was in a relationship with Mistress Death - a personification of death itself. Thus, he was in it for love. This element was unfortunately removed from the Marvel Cinematic Universe films, probably because it would have presented as "too weird" for the average movie-goer, and the writers instead shifted his Thanos' love relationship to his adopted daughter, Gamora. I personally would have included the original element in some way. Then again, I would have also included Thanos's brother, Eros (the embodiment of love), as well as his anti-hero nemesis, Adam Warlock, as well.

But hey that's just me.

Well, that's about it for now. So go out there and craft your protagonists, your heroes, your antagonists, and even your out-and-out villains. But remember, if sometimes good guys don't wear white, then sometimes villains do!

Till next time.

Monday, November 23, 2020

The Great Electronic Music of the Day Give-Away Catalogue Reconfiguration

Hi all, and welcome back to the wily and wordy Gauntlet of Balthazar.

I have to admit that I've been holding back on penning several fiery articles here, mostly political in nature, probably because they're not based in fact or historical events. Within reason I sort of despise just ranting about personal feelings regarding larger issues, so let's just leave it at that for now, and let me get back to the point of this post - which is what I'm referring to as "The Great Catalogue Reconfiguration".

For quite some time I've been vexed by the past releases in the Gauntlet's "Electronic Music Piece of the Day Give-Away" series. Not that I have a problem with the tracks themselves or releasing them piecemeal online, but more so how they were compiled into albums on Bandcamp and elsewhere.

Therefore, I've made some changes to the "filing system" and extracted a number of tracks from the three 391 & the Army of Astraea compilation albums issued in 2018 and have retroactively released them as "singles" (and EP's). In all, these extracted tracks now supply five issues, and the compilations are, obviously, somewhat shorter and more focused on covering periods of releases rather than being "best of" samplers. 

The albums, "Sweetmeats for Little Turks", "Battles and Realms: Catalogue Vol.1", and "Battles and Realms: Catalogue Vol.II", are still available on Bandcamp, and the original "best of" version of "Sweetmeat for Little Turks" has been left as is (for the time being) on Soundcloud. 

The retroactive singles are now: "The Aeon / Anaapotheosis" (2016), "Bipedal Locomotion / Urbitariot" (2017), "Clara and Natalia / Nine Hostages" (2017), "Veritas" (2017), and "Easter Fool / Subway Hat" (2018) (pictured above). While they're in no way pop music, I'm pretty sure they each deserved individual release status in the first place, and besides, I think the cover art came out quite nice for the most part. 

Anyway, the embed players for the five releases are directly below. So enjoy, share, and please, please, please, follow us on Bandcamp if you can. Thanks so much.

Till next time.

Monday, October 26, 2020

The Dark Gauntlet Rises: A Happy Gauntlet of Balthazar 40,000th Page Visit!

Welcome back to the Gauntlet of Balthazar for this little post celebrating our 40,000th page visit. 

I have to admit that I've sometimes been confused, but more often very pleased, at the growth of this blogs audience. And while I'm fairly inconsistent with the frequency of uploads, as well as the content itself shifting gears based on my whims, I nonetheless appreciate each and everyone's time spent visiting these pages. So, whether you first came here for the the writing, the politics, the music, the art, or the reviews, I hope that at the very least you've found the diversity of content respectable and of interest.

Saying this, I'd like to turn to the Gauntlet's readers in Hong Kong, who have recently supplanted the United States as the dominant supplier of page visitors. As I've mentioned before, I've never explicitly penned an article in support of the Pro-Democracy Movement in Hong Kong, but I expect that the consistency of the Gauntlet's anti-Communist messaging and disparaging of Marxist Intersectionality, Post-Modernism, Critical Race Theory, Regressive Progressiveness, and the historical hypocrisy of the American Democratic Party, as well as the UK's Labor Party, has made this abundantly clear.

As a Right-Leaning Libertarian, or as I like to deem it a "Neo-Whig", I must say that I am overtly adoring of the accomplishments of American founding fathers like Jefferson, Adams and Madison, as well as the U.S. Constitution. This has led me to be, let us say, highly critical of Marxism, Socialism, and Communism, which I might add, I was fairly intrigued by when I was but a lad. 

Likewise, as a Jewish kid growing up in New York, (like most Blacks, Latinos, Irish, Asians, Women, Gays, etc.) I was expected to be a lifelong Democrat, regardless if they as a political party didn't reflect my core beliefs in any other arena, let alone if they overtly conflicted with principles that I had come to feel were more important to my overall identity. 

The Democrats, specifically in their 1990's Neo-Liberal "kleptocrat" manifestation, told me to keep voting for them, even as they contradicted not only my beliefs, but their own. Soon after, the DNC started to embrace the  same far-leftist doctrines that I had moved away from as far back as the middle of my college years. Much of this was later called "identity politics", which seemed to be designed not to help different people to get along, but rather to divide them, not to mention attempting to force me to feel apologetic, embarrassed, or even hateful, towards what I was, or held dear - yet, keep up the good votes, sucker. 

One could say that the dissonance I felt is what led me to resist further the media brainwashing that I experienced and saw all around me as par for the course. I imagine that people supporting the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong can easily relate to this. as they were expected to slowly abandon the society and principles they had lived under for a century, and let it give way to the slow creeping entrenchment of Chinese Communist Party surveillance, social media scoring, and repression of free speech.

In recent years we have seen Big Tech, Big Government, Mega-Corps, and the Media, all fall under the shared spell of far-leftist ideology, ushering corporate and globalist political interests to overlap. While we have seen agreement in that they all like money very much, these once-disparate forces nonetheless appear to prefer forced "equality", authoritarianism, and censorship far more.

Though Hong Kong had incorporated some aspects of British and Western society, they also never left behind their Chinese culture. One could in fact argue that China's "Great Leap Forward" attempted to destroy and rebuild Chinese society in order to create Marx's "New Man" - a goal that is highly questionable, and is as unattainable as the false utopia proposed by misguided street thugs the world over for upwards of two centuries. 

This is indeed why the most infamous, so-called "right wing dictators", such as Hitler, Mussolini, Ataturk, etc. were all actually products of Communism, Socialism, and Progressive politics, no less than Mao, Stalin, Castro, Pol Pot, and Chavez. It is absolutely amazing that academics and the media were even able to get us to accept the notion that a Socialist like Hitler - who believed in gun control, abortion, universal health care, the influence of the state on the entrepreneurial economy, and was anti-church and anti-free speech, was on the right side of the political spectrum. Nonsense!

Thus, we Classical Liberals, Pro-Democracy Protestors, Moderates, Skeptics, Independents, Libertarians (right and left), Republicans, Conservatives (religious and not), and the true working classes, need to support one another in resisting the expansion of Communist authoritarianism and the leftist-brainwashed "latte liberal resistance" - who are in  actuality the establishment they have long protested they stand against.

I hope that the future holds in it a greater day for liberty. 

Thanks again. Till next time.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Not So Electronic Music Album of the Day Give-Away: "Working Backwards - A Collection of Collaborations"

Hear ye, hear ye, and welcome to, or back to, the Gauntlet of Balthazar for another installment of the Bandcamp hosted Electronic Music Give-Away of the Day feature. 

This release marks a departure from the usual 391 & the Army of Astraea electronic fare of the last few years, as the recordings included in today's new release, are dominated by guitar, bass, vocals, drums, etc. It is also comprised only of collaborations, is archival (1980's-1990's), and features Punk, Post-Punk, Power-Pop, Alternative, Industrial, and Soundtrack pieces.

The tracks included on this album have been culled from a number of collections of digitized and re-mixed recordings, and is being released today under the title, Stubborn God Productions - Working Backwards: A Collection of Collaborations

For the most part I'm pleased with the general quality of the tunes as they turned out, but in some cases the original sound has been long lost or (if a live performance) may represent the only existing recording of track in question. I'm likewise very happy with the cover art for the project, as well as the album art of the various collections the tracks have been taken from.

Below is a composite of the individual track art, and below that the embed of the album. So enjoy, share, and "follow" 391 & the Army of Astraea on Bandcamp if you can. Thank you all for your support, and as always, till next time.



Monday, October 12, 2020

Electronic Music Give-Away of the Day: An Existing Release Release

Hi all.

I just thought I'd check in for a bit in lieu of tomorrow's release of Stubborn God Productions - Working Backwards: A Collection of Collaborations, with a retro-active update to a previous Stubborn God release - The Sovereignty Soundtrack Extended Play Single, which was uploaded in December 29th, 2019. 

"Sovereignty" is a hard-science-fiction episodic series designed by the award-winning and multi-nominated screenwriting and media content company, Nevekari Enterprises

The audio release originally contained four tracks, but over the course of the last year, others were begun, and I must admit that I started to conceive that a "Sovereignty Volume II" might be in hiding in the wings. However, at present, I have decided to augment the album into a five-track sampler instead.

The additional track in question is now the finally of the album, and it is the overtly bombastic anthem for a fictitious crypto-fascist entity within the series called the "New Order Earth Sphere Government" - which is a global-military administration that is dominant on Earth, and on colonies in space, in the story now of 2158. The exact title of the piece is "Renovare Et Supra" - which is a neo-Latin phrase for something like "Rebirth and Beyond" - which is a palpable element to the characters of the post-dystopian reality they inhabit.

Anyway, the embed is below, so listen, enjoy, share, and if you'd like - click on the "follow" button on Bandcamp - from whence the album, and all the others, have their primary home. 

Till next time.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

September Hiatus Complete: Upcoming Album Release Announcement

Welcome back O mighty Gauntletarians!

From the top I must apologize for my the lack of posts logged here through the month of September - especially in light of the incessant political and media manipulation, as well as social chaos, originating from those beholding (knowingly or not) to the utopian religious tenets codified by that misguided authoritarian (and self-hating Jew) Karl Marx. Oh well, there goes the culture war!

Likewise, while I often pondered over the last month which bit of film media to rake over the review coals (then again I repeat myself about Marx's insidious influence), or which aspect of screenplay writing I might feel like dissecting, I instead spent the last few weeks finishing off a series of final mixes for a collection of music tracks I decided would be released this October. 

Unlike the last few electronically-driven outings by 391 & the Army of Astraea, this forthcoming release is a very different kind of animal. First of all it features mostly guitar, bass, and vocals. Second of all it's historical and represents some of the earliest analogue recordings Stubborn God Productions ever made - dating as far back as the summer of 1984. Third and last of all, the collection features no solo work - only collaborations. And so, it's mostly duets, but also trios and in a few cases four-part band. Genre-wise we've got Punk, Post-Punk, Alternative and Power-Pop, Industrial / Electronic, and some very embryonic Soundtrack works. 

While I had literally dozens and dozens of source tracks to choose from, I eventually settled on just twenty that I feel cover the period in question nicely. Needless to say the repair work required to force many of these pieces up to suitable audio quality was extensive, and so in some cases they are as good as they will ever be. 

The album, Stubborn God Productions - Working Backwards: A Collection of Collaborations, will be released on Bandcamp on the morning of October 13th, 2020 (Yeah, I'll admit it - I'm a sucker for the long since replaced record store Tuesday release day), and will be embedded here on the Gauntlet. It may or may not be uploaded to Soundcloud or other platforms, so if you think it's worth sharing, please forward the link to people you think might appreciate it. 

Anyway, I have a few other posts ruminating in the corners of my mind for after the release, so hang in there figuratively and literally...Yes I'm talking to you Hong Kong. Keep up the good fight!

Till next time.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Why the West is Becoming Clockwork Orange

Welcome all. 

I think I'll just jump right in.

In Anthony Burgess's pivotal novel (1962), and the classic film directed by Stanley Kubrick (1971), the hyper-violent dysfunctional protagonist, Alex DeLarge, stands as a seminal paragon of the real world psychosis we currently see all around us, or well at least in urban areas of western nations.

His tale is a cursory warning to the cultural elite and extremists on both sides of the political spectrum that a society lacking in positive role models, morality, civic values, which relies solely on the extremes of authoritarianism and over-indulgence, would inevitably create a generation of, well, monsters. 

In my opinion that rushing train car has almost arrived at the station, and the clown world we now see in American cities like Seattle and Portland, puts on full display the monsters that the neo-liberals slowly created over the last few generations. Liberals, through their control of media outlets, and most importantly, their influence over the educational system - have made youth culture their preferred weapon in the culture war. Likewise, their knowing or unwitting goal of impressing Post-Modernist relativism and Marxist Intersectionality (in all of its class, race, and gender war splendor) on those youth in their formative years has become their guiding principle. 

Alex DeLarge is very cultured. He likes Classical Music. He knows some Russian, and he lives in a welfare state overwhelmingly populated by older people (much like the impending age discrepancy demographic of many nations maintaining low birth rates...so, I suggest, 2045?). His gang of droogs take drugs, steal cars, fight with rival gangs, beat up homeless people, dodge corrupt police officers, and in general rob, rape, and pillage.

As the story goes on, the conservative tendency flexes its muscles and Alex ends up in prison, where he soon volunteers to undergo an experimental violence-aversion therapy in exchange for early release. The more sympathetic (liberal) characters, who wish to indulge, are very hopeful, but they have a hard time dealing with the fact that aversion therapy is pretty much torture, and so, later they regret what was done to "the poor lad". In the end the aversion procedure is erased and Alex is used by the media as a poster boy for the well-meaning nature of the recently elected liberal opposition party. In his lengthy absence Alex's old gang mates have become, you got it, corrupt police officers, and we are left with expectation that he will eventually return to his old ways. 

In the real world, when you undermine traditional family structure, when you discourage a work ethic, when you pit races, classes, and genders against one another, and when you deny basic shared civic values, and even principles of reality - submitting that "truth" and "facts" are relative, you can't help but create children guided not only by their "ID", but more so by narcissism. 

In the U.S. these narcissistic virtue-signalling Post-Modern Marxists have no choice other than to take to the streets and force their opinion on others through intimidation and coercion. Because, as narcissists, they've hit on the golden ticket, and so, everyone good must be like them, right? All that's left is choosing their target and then...berate, attack, and in some cases, murder those who they suspect don't agree with them (yes, even when they're...gasp, black!). The fact that the supposedly moderate left in the halls of power will not condemn their little Frankenstein's is no different than the elites in Clockwork Orange giving Alex DeLarge a pass for his past crimes, 'cuz he's the victim, right? 

Last week members of the fascist, yet supposedly anti-fascist, crypto-organization, Antifa, finally did what I suspected they would have gotten around to much earlier - burning books. While they pose as righteous zealots, they employ overt fascistic methodology, and so, I knew it was just a matter of time. I also knew what book it would be. Of course there was a chance that it could have just been a book with language that they have deemed "Un-PC" such as Tom Sawyer, or it could have been a book written by someone they actively dislike, like Ben Shapiro, or maybe even Trump's autobiography...'cuz Orange Man Bad! But face it, those printings just aren't foundational enough. So one guess...yes, you got it, The Bible. How could it have been anything else? So brave, Such magnificent warriors!

Of course, they wouldn't have had the guts to burn a single copy of the Quran, now would they? But hey, dissonant narratives are funny like that.

In the end these narcissist-elitists will continue playing working class heroes and fomenting violent revolution. They will maintain their disdain for civic nationalism as well as their neighbors while displaying their overriding ignorance of enlightenment liberalism. And most sadly, having inculcated the post-modernist sub-text, they will continue to burn flags and holy books. 

Alex DeLarge would have been proud.

On that cheery note...Till next time.

Monday, August 3, 2020

From the Writer's Studio: "Clowns to the Left of Me, JOKER to the Right - Stuck in the Middle with You". The Gauntlet Reviews JOKER.

Welcome back, Gauntletarians.

Well, it looks like I’ve finally gotten around to penning my review of DC’s “Joker” (2019), featuring Joaquin Phoenix as the dysfunctional antagonist-protagonist, Arthur Fleck.

I should mention that while I'm a fan of superhero (or super-villain) films, in my youth I was far and away much more into the Marvel brand than DC. Nonetheless, “Joker” is not the usual sort of comic book adaptation, with the closest parallel perhaps being the X-Men derived series “Legion”; which also features a protagonist with delusional psychosis. Regardless, Arthur’s mental illness is primarily characterized by radical mood swings between tragic melancholy, violent anger, and disturbingly manic giddiness. However, he also occasionally blurs the line between outward reality and his internal imagined reality - so, bi-polar schizophrenia? I personally think that the filmmakers were going for the touch of the old maxim, “in an insane world, it's the sane man who appears insane”, but let’s face it, not- withstanding any post-modern moral relativism re-write, the Joker is coo-coo for cocoa-puffs.

I’d like to break this review down into a few elements; the first being some general observations about various aspects of the film making, then the screenwriting, then the movie’s influences, and lastly, the political context of the film.

In General

So first, what I liked about “Joker”.

Joker is remarkably filmed, with some nice establishing shots. It is consistently lighted, comprehensively designed, adequately edited, and Joaquin’s acting is, well, it’s impressive - not- withstanding that he is almost typecast to play characters with mental, emotional, or substance abuse problems.

The film holds the viewer’s attention, tightly, and the script is solid. At times the dialogue is fairly minimal. The only deviation from the original comic book origin of the Joker is that in this revision there’s no mention of Arthur’s immersion in a vat of chemical waste, which frankly, could have played nicely into a botched suicide attempt by the protagonist, as the film gen- erally chronicles a man being beaten down by life one nail at a time.

But hey, that's just me.

The Setting

Supposedly set in “Gotham City”, the film appears as mostly identical to the Kingsbridge and Spuyten Duyvil sections of the North Bronx, New York circa 1979-1984 - graffiti covered subway train cars and all. As someone who grew up nearby, this was an eerie flashback to my youth, and I can’t count how many times I trudged up the massive set of steps located at 237th Street, which Arthur desperately scales, and euphorically dances on, throughout the movie.

The Story

The story is fairly simple.

Arthur lives with his elderly (and ill) mother in a dreadful apartment while barely eking out a living as a paid clown. He is essentially a modern Incel, and aside from his mother, the only other relationships he seems to have are with a state-appointed social worker / shrink, and his co-workers at the clowning agency. He is infatuated with a fetching neighbor, but from afar. We learn early on that government funded has been cut and that his therapy, and the medicine that comes with it, will be coming to an end. It’s a nice element, (an information bomb, as I like to call it), because it creates a sense of impend- ing doom as we expect this will just accelerate Arthur’s slow descent into violence.

This motif is paralleled by a literal “Chekhov’s Gun” being introduced in the first act, after Arthur is attacked by gang of miscreant youth, and a co-worker offers him a handgun for protection.

Needless to say, the Wayne family plays into the story, and we learn that Arthur’s mother was once a maid in Wayne manor. We also learn that she may have imparted her own psychosis through hereditary to Arthur, and as the film progresses he makes several discoveries about his origins that further push him over the edge. Within reason Arthur feels that everyone in his life is either mocking him, is insincere, or is flat-out lying to him, and thus, he begins to take action, or rather, revenge.

The Influences

There are three or four filmic antecedents that immediately come to mind when watching “Joker”.

The obvious would be Heath Ledger’s portrayal of Joker in Dark Knight (2008), but that’s a minor thematic parallel. What is more visceral are two Robert De Niro films originally made in the period presented in Joker. The first is “The King of Comedy” (1983) and second is “Taxi Driver” (1976).

De Niro appears in Joker as a late night talk show host, Murray Franklin (a homage to Joe Franklin?) assuming the Jerry Lewis role in “King of Comedy”, while he played a delusional comic, similar to Arthur, named Rupert Pupkin, who is so desperate to gain notoriety; that he kidnaps the host in order to force his staff to allow him to guest host an episode of the show. While “King” possesses a similar theme to Joker, the descent into violence seen in Joker is actually more reminiscent of De Niro’s passive-turned-vigilante cabbie in Taxi Driver.

This element was also manifested in Michael Douglas / Robert Duvall film “Falling Down” (1993), which chronicled a middle of the road guy snapping and going on a violent rampage across Los Angeles – so, another relationship.

The Politics

When Joker first came out there were a number of media reviewers who immediately labeled it a “white supremacist” film. These were of course the same people who effusively lauded “Black Panther” (2018), which I might remind, presented a zenophobic isolationist ethno-state that regularly engaged in wars against their own nation’s minority ethnic groups, and covetously guard their intellectual property and maintain an immigrant-free impenetrable border. Had the characters in Black Panther possessed white faces, those brilliant geniuses would have rightly noted that the paradigm was borderline Hitlerian, but hey, maybe they’re just that simplistic and aren’t capable of seeing politics and philosophy past melanin.

Anyway, I was puzzled by their assessment, and still am. I understand that clowns wear “white face”, but these reviewers couldn’t be so uninformed to think that lead white paint, which evolved in bubonic plague ridden Italy, and probably mimicked a dark irony about the unimaginable scale of death occurring all around them, was somehow tied to current issues of American race divisiveness.

In the aftermath of the film’s release and the scuttlebutt about clowns being racist, the meme gurus of 4chan soon created the rainbow-wigged “Honkler the Clown”, obviously a making reference to “Honky” – an outdated Black slur against white people. The leftist mob ate it up and, as expected, they declared that this indeed confirmed their suspicions and that clowns were indeed a symbol of white supremacy, just like Kek / Pepe the frog. While the ease by which 4chan manipulated the paranoia of Marxist-inclined folk is humorous, the Libertarian fellas at South Park chimed in with “Mexican Joker”, making light of not only the clown meme, but also of school shooters emulating Joker.

Near the end of the film there are widespread anti-capitalist riots (inspired by Joker) which all but prophetically look like real life in leftist-dominated urban areas of America in 2020. Mind you, De Niro has been an almost brutish and outspoken adversary of President Trump, and Phoenix is likewise an Eco-warrior, so pretty much leftists who have been conditioned to reflexively fight back against those who either don’t agree with their ideology, or at the very least, don’t politely lie down and shut their mouths – unlike street-fighter Trump.

I personally think that all of these films - Taxi Driver, King of Comedy, Falling Down, and Joker, all actually reflect an internal cognitive dissonance within leftist psychology, and not at all in those to the center and right. The latent violence and authoritarianism of the left has become globally visceral and visible over the last few decades, yet this is routinely suppressed or re-framed by the media, or I should say, their media.

The far left generally has always sought to radically change society, (and even human nature) forcefully if need be, and they are fine with compulsion, media warfare, collateral damage, fire and death, in the name of their utopian end goal, yet, handguns – they’re “icky”. They have historically advocated for blacks and other minorities, yet they do this with the soft bigotry of low expectations, and of course, as a general rule, these valiant nobles have no black friends.

Let’s be honest here, it’s leftists that fantasize about reliving past protests movements…and epic riots, and are apt to rampage through the streets. Their elected representatives will not condemn, and even express admiration, for masked fascists who terrorize the public and murder blacks while insisting they are ant-fascist and pro-black.

Joker, in my opinion, is symbolic of the cognitive dissonance between positive change and radical destruction creates in the leftist heart. Yet while the Joker is sympathetic to the cause, he is still at heart only interested in his own agenda - motivated by revenge and chaos. 

Conclusion

All in all, I suggest you check out Joker. 9/10 Gauntlet’s up!

Till next time.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Unwitting Post-Modernists

Welcome back to the wily and elusive Gauntlet of Balthazar for some passing obser- vations regarding cultural indoctrination and the conformity of thought.

You know, the little stuff.

We are of course all products of our particular environments, the time period in which we were born, and the cultures in which we were raised, as well as being strongly influenced by our nationality, economics, family, and broader sociological interactions. But, in the current Culture War, the philosophy of Post-Modernism has largely succeeded in gradually altering core sensibilities on a global scale.

I personally don't think that most people know what Post-Modernism is, nor do they even realize that they are Post-Modernist in their thinking - hence why this article has been titled "The Unwitting Post-Modernists".

Now obviously, some folk are more naturally immune to the effect of Post-Modernism, and I can't imagine hearing a member of a rural tribe in Papua New Guinea ever state that "Truth" is a "Relative Construct", but for those in the West, and all those influenced by modern urban culture, thoughts and statements such as this have become standard parlance, and in this, Post-Modernist philosophy has succeeded as an element of Cultural Marxism where Socialism has largely failed in political practice.

According to Wikipedia:

"Post-Modernism is a broad movement that developed in the mid-to late 20th century across philosophy, the arts, architecture, and criticism, marking a departure from modernism. The term has been more generally applied to describe a historical era said to follow after modernity and the tendencies of this era. 

Postmodernism is generally defined by an attitude of skepticism, irony, or rejection toward what it describes as the grand narratives and ideologies associated with modernism, often criticizing Enlightenment rationality and focusing on the role of ideology in maintaining political or economic power. Postmodern thinkers frequently describe knowledge claims and value systems as contingent or socially-conditioned, describing them as products of political, historical, or cultural discourses and hierarchies.

Common targets of postmodern criticism include universalist ideas of objective reality, morality, truth, human nature, reason, science, language, and social progress. Accordingly, postmodern thought is broadly characterized by tendencies to self-consciousness, self-referentiality, epistemological and moral relativism, pluralism, and irreverence.

Postmodern critical approaches gained purchase in the 1980s and 1990s, and have been adopted in a variety of academic and theoretical disciplines, including cultural studies, philosophy of science, economics, linguistics, architecture, feminist theory, and literary criticism, as well as art movements in fields such as literature, contemporary art, and music. Postmodernism is often associated with schools of thought such as deconstruction, post-structuralism, and institutional critique, as well as philosophers such as Jean-François Lyotard, Jacques Derrida, and Fredric Jameson (not to mention Michel Foucault - pictured to the right 👉).

Criticisms of postmodernism are intellectually diverse and include arguments that postmodernism promotes obscurantism, is meaningless, and that it adds nothing to analytical or empirical knowledge."

Fair enough - but this goes far beyond simple skepticism and deconstruction.

While an Asian Empiricist might deem this as a "Baizuo" idea, or a less eloquent Western Conservative might frame this whole approach as "book-smart Libtard thinking", there is no denying that we live under the philosophic yoke of the Post-Modernists. Well, at least most of us.

When I personally encounter someone who unconsciously promotes relativist thought, I like to regurgitate a nice maxim I've develop- ed specifically in order to address this creeping malaise. Try it on yourself - it goes like this: "YOUR Truth is that you believe that Gravity is a construct. THE Truth is that when you jump out of a skyscraper window - you die." Simple, eh? I've also had numerous discussions wherein any number of Post-Modernists insist that all sexual relationships are equally valid and beautiful. While this sounds "nice", it invariably puts them in the uncomfortable pos- ition of defending pedophilia, which through history, and in almost every human culture, has been collectively seen as an absolute wrong. But hey, a child's agency, or the lack thereof, is a construct too, right? So feel free to also put them on the defensive. It's a jolly good time.

Post-Modernist thinking in league with third wave radical feminist theory and the general swell of interest in antiquarian Socialist ideology has made it's home in university settings since the early 1980's, and over time has aided in inculcating the "educated" youth of the world into re-framing their thought along lines that now seem "normal". 

Sadly, for those of us who lean to Enlightenment liberty and /or Conservative values, our antecedents - rather than push back against the insidious influence of Post-Modernism, went along with it, because hey, we're supposed to respect everyone's beliefs, right? I guess the reasoning was, "Better to err on the side of being polite instead of contradicting someone". Thus, over time, the right ceded the moral high ground in the Culture War to a philosophy that proposes that there is NO MORALITY.

Nice hat trick, if I do say so myself.

Ironically, as a writer I'm a bit of a relativist, and I firmly believe in the maxim that a villain believes that he/she is the hero of their own story. However, while I try to dispassionately present all sides of a given philosophy, a Post-Modernist writer prefers to present everything as equally meaningless - but they will invariable avoid presenting a character who is not a Post-Modernist. They think this makes them inclusive and diverse, but they are missing the fact that not only are many people not Post-Modernist in their thinking, but many are overtly anti-Post-Modernist. That is the reality of diversity, and no matter how many "sensitivity advisors" one might find on a modern movie set, or human resources office pool, the fact is that while they might control the dominant narrative, they do not control how and what people think - nor should they. Conversely, I am quite aware of how many readers or viewers, simply because they have been strongly influenced by Post-Modernism, might perceive a characters as a "bad guy", just because the character in question reads as an "absolutist".

One would think that such relativists wouldn't be so quick to jump to judgement, but since the hallmark of their thinking is narcissistic and ideologically fueled, this has led leftists to move further into the "Social Justice Warrior" motif, to the point at which western societies are being torn apart by the monsters they created - misguided idealistic youth who believe they are rebelling but are at their core actually authoritarians dedicated to supporting big-tech, mega-corps, the state, and their utopian ideals of "changing" and "saving" the world.

Sadly, what most ardent Post-Modernists, as well as Marxists, fail to grasp is that human nature can not be changed, and thus, all that their movement will accomplish in the long run will be social and inter- personal nihilistic destruction. This is why the so-called Anarcho-Communist anti-fascists (Antifa) are essentially fascist in their approach, and their stated anti-racism has been corroded with the soft bigotry of low expectations, inverted self-hatred, and rabid antisemitism.

In the end, I expect that Post-Modernism will eventually fade into the annals of history, and one day people will read the ponderous term papers and meandering novels that encapsulate the bourgeoisie Frankenstein psychosis of this period, and will try to relate to a world captivated by lack of beliefs. Well, aside from the belief of virtue signaling held together under a veil of Marxist utopianism and the tools it has always used to place, and keep, itself in power - class, race, and gender warfare.

Till next time.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

From the Writer's Studio: The Importance of World Building Architecture

Welcome back to the Gauntlet of Balthazar for another foray into screenwriting and media critique (as well as hopefully useful advice). This time I'd like to focus on world building and story / character architecture. By this I mean the designing of building blocks which supply the infrastructure of a literary work with what it requires to move the audience through the story-line in both a logical and cathartic fashion, until its conclusion. Personally, as a Myers-Briggs INTJ (introverted-intuitive-thinking-judging) personality type, (otherwise known as "the architect"), you can see why someone like myself finds this element so crucial to successful screenplay and story writing, and why this approach works so well with my artistic inclinations, and in general, the structural endeavor of world building.

In essence all artists, and writers specifically, are world creators / builders. While some scribes excel at coming up with clever scenarios, penning effective and realistic dialogue, relaying complex emotions, setting a specific mood, or are adept at general character development, beyond this lays insightful and methodical structural plotting, progressive inter-related character arcs, and the comprehensive world building of a reality. In my opinion this is the most essential element for immersing the reader or viewer in the suspension of dis-belief. Thus, the term story-architecture is perhaps the most appropriate way of referring to the core elements of world building.

A GENERAL NOTE ON ACT STRUCTURE

I think I should start by pointing out that world building goes far beyond just adhering to one or the other philosophies of act structure or organizing scenes within those acts. However, without a solid act structure, generally, all is chaos, and so, a brief mention of general script architecture should be noted before moving on.

The rule of thumb for act structure (going back to the ancient Greeks) is that the first act is "set up", the second is "conflict", and the third is "resolution" or "climax". Overlaying this, in the most traditional terms, is the "hero's journey" - which can aid in the development of the protagonist in an archetypal manner - paralleling his or her movement through the act structure. In tandem to act structure and the hero's journey are the emotional "beats" or "notes" that occur within the acts. These emotional setups and resolutions are usually referred to as being part of "Freytag's Pyramid".

Most plays, films, novels and series episodes rely on a three act structure, though a short play or film might be encompassed in a single act and larger works might opt for a five act layout. It is much rarer to find a "two act", "four act", or "six act" work of fiction. In ancient and Shakespearean tragedies the five-act structure was king and generally presented the final act as the ultimate "catastrophe" (as in Hamlet). However, in the twentieth century J.R.R. Tolkien of Lord of the Ring's fame added an element called a "eucatastrophe", which allowed for an inexplicable unraveling of tragedy into an unlikely happy resolution. I mean, hey, who doesn't like a happy ending, especially when it seems all but impossible.

In the modern milieu, the five-act structure of teleplay scripts exists simply due to the historical placement of advertisements on commercial television. Structurally these scripts really are still three-act plays, with a teaser (setup) at the beginning and a coda at the end. Obviously, the teaser occurs prior to (and sometimes following) the main title sequence of the show, and the coda returns just before the end titles / production credits - often to establish a new element, set up the next episode, or merely to insert a cliff-hanger. Within reason, the coda of an episodic script is synonymous with Freytag's "denouement", or the "tying up loose ends". For me, I personally tend to prefer a five act structure, simply because I gain great artistic satisfaction from writing scripts which are part of an ongoing arc within an episodic series.

Regardless, adhering to your chosen philosophy of act structure is, in my opinion, an invariable necessity - as crucial as choosing the tense in which you are writing your novel in and sticking with it all the way through. But in terms of overall creativity, a good screenplay writer must move beyond just depicting an interesting scenario or holding to an act format and become a world building architect. Arguably, it is the most important aspect of "larger" works. So let's jump right in, shall we.

NARRATIVE ARCHITECTURE IN THE REAL WORLD

As an example of effective world building architecture, one must intuitively, and intimately, understand the reality one is creating. If the architecture works, then all the characters you create will occupy their niche within the structure, and their place in that reality supplies them within the parameters by which their interactions with other characters function within that architecture.

The bottom line is that you must start to think like an architect, or at least a literary one, in order to build an effective and believable universe through which your characters navigate. Obviously, the more fantastic the reality, the more you must think it out, because if the audience picks up on contradictions (consciously or not), or starts to feel that the internal logic of the reality is not sacrosanct, they will inexplicably "fall out of love" with the otherwise amazing world you have created. 

In order to explain what I'm talking about, I'd actually like to start with a few real world examples of successful and flawed architecture in non-literary systems, for, what better way to sort out fiction than to dwell on real life architecture - especially if you want to get your own "created" architecture down. Now, don't get me wrong, it's not that you can't present a character, or group of characters in your film or episodic scripts that possess imperfect rationales for their actions, or that take incorrect or surreal actions which don't match their rationales, but for the most part even the most doltish viewer or reader will be thrown out of the suspension of dis-belief by a nonsensical disconnect from the linear "jenga" of logic and structure.

Therefore, witness Marxism / Socialism / Communism as a belief system. Clearly, for all the truly optimistic, utopian elements of Marx's theory, the installation of global Communism as true to Marx's vision as it is presented on the printed page has yet to have been implemented in the real world. In fact, it has panned out as quite the contrary, and has instead proved at every instance to engender authoritarianism and oligarchic hierarchies rather than the "equality" the philosophy promises. In fact, even Socialism (or as I like to term it: "Communism lite") generally requires a healthy dose of watering down in order to make it work within a democratic framework, which should stand as no surprise, since when Marxism is implemented as full Communism, invariably a large death toll is somewhere creeping over the horizon or lurking in the past.

Of course a die-hard Socialist or Communist will insist that the failures of Socialism or Communism was due to human error - and that the reason it failed to institute Marxism as written, was that it was not implemented properly. As they see it - the next time they'll get it right. One would think after seeing a system fail so many times it would be sort of like building a house and watching it fall down over and over, and never realizing that the blueprints are flawed. But since this is a religious, yes, religious belief system - powered by the rocket fuel of human emotions and idealism, true believers have a hard time admitting that the actual cause of the failure of Marxism is that the architecture developed by Marx is innately flawed.

The origin of these flaws are simple, and were ingrained from the start, and have persisted, simply because good old Karl believed that human nature could be changed by economic policies, and thus, the implementation of his architecture from book to real life proposed a "mortar" that in no way is able to hold the bricks of his philosophy together. You might wish to argue the point, but from the first American and French communes in the 18th and 19th centuries, to Marx, to Russia, China, Cuba, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Venezuela, to the CHOP in Seattle, none of those endeavors have arrived at the end vision of their ultimate creator. No need to mention the Faux-Socialist Nordic Capitalist varieties, as well as apparently frequent mutations from Globalist Socialism into Ethno-National Socialism; which gave us nifty authoritarians like Hitler, Mussolini, Milosevic, and Ba'athists like Saddam and Assad.

Unlike the flawed architecture of the Socialist umbrella philosophies, the religion of Islam possesses a near perfect architecture - at least for what it is designed to achieve. Every element, such as a negative prohibition on apostasy, the simplicity of the creed, a tax levied on non-believers implemented whenever Muslims exceed 50% of a population, and the faith being seamlessly integrated with political and ethno-cultural elements, enabled Islam to spread to twenty-two nations in under a century, and to become dominant in every one of those lands within the next three hundred or so years after that.

Certainly the entrenchment of the language, religion, and culture of Islam took some time to inculcate the populations of the lands Muslim armies conquered, but in grand scheme, even a population dense nation (multiple millions) such as Egypt (which was majority Christian, with sizeable Pagan and Jewish minorities in the seventh century C.E.) was Islamized by an initial force of some 4,000 Bedouin Arab warriors to almost 90% Islamic compliance by the Mamluk period. Christianity, on the other hand took almost 1000 years to reach its final extent in Europe, ending with the formal conversion of Lithuania's King in the mid 13th century. Nigeria, which was majority traditional polytheist prior to World War One, now only boasts about 10% of their population still clinging to their traditional beliefs. The rest of the formerly pagan nation's denizens are rapidly approaching Muslim-Christian parity, and realistically, one can expect a slight Muslim majority within a generation.

In my opinion the historical socio-cultural effectiveness of the Muslim model is beyond reproach, and this is because of the well thought out architecture that Mohammad and the Malikite compilers of the Hadith codified in the mid-seventh century. Therefore, no matter how you feel about Marxism or Islam, the contrast in the effectiveness of the architecture of their machines is clear - at least if you're honest with yourself, and dispassionately study the statistics of their respective successes and failures.

Objective observations of systems is an ability that most people possess, especially on the interpersonal side of life. For instance, in regard to your own sensibilities, how many times have you been able to point out when a friend is walking face-forward into a relationship or decision blunder? And how often have you been unable to see or change your own course, even though your friends have advised you otherwise? This phenomena occurs because it is easier to discern the flaws in an architecture that is external to your own - free of personal biases and emotional baggage. But look on the upside, since you are a world builder, it should be a comparatively easy task to stand back and look at your creation with some quotient of empiricism.

RULES AND THEIR DECONSTRUCTION

So, now that you've created the world behind your story and are poised to look at it empirically, you need to apply rules to the reality. These rules are internal to that reality, and may, or may not, comport with actual reality. Some realities possess an established set of rules governing certain character types, such as Vampires not being able to enter people's homes unless invited.

As world creator, you are of course free to invent a world in which Bram Stoker's rules do not apply, but you must them explain why this rule does not apply. It could be as simple as having a character quip: "What? That's just a bunch of folklore. Of course I can just sneak in for a bite."

Regardless, it has to be addressed.

The governing mechanism here is - if you break a rule, you are in effect creating a new rule.

To establish a set of consistent and coherent rules, I suggest mapping them out, like a script outline, and then deconstructing the reality. For example, let's say you've created a world in which, I don't know, all toys are sentient individuals, as in Toy Story (Yeah, I know, I've written about Toy Story before, but hey, just go with it!). Anyway, it isn't enough to just insist that the toys are characters, you must explain why their owners never notice their toys chatting with one another. Toy Story does this by explaining that Toys possess the uncanny ability to feign inanimate status whenever a human is near. While it is highly likely that a toy would eventually be caught being sentient, that is left to the suspension of dis-belief. The other rule of Toy Story is the causal factor that children outgrow, or lose toys - supplying the toy characters with a sense of inevitability.

The mental exercise of deconstruction serves as the creative "What If?". What if a human caught a toy speaking, what if some toys weren't capable of sentience?, what if a child never outgrew a toy?, and what if an adult had a relationship with a sentient toy (which occurred in the film "Ted"). I personally like to invent characters that don't actually appear in my film and series scripts and imagine what their life is like. For me, this really aids in my understanding of the world I've built. Needless to say, this is also very helpful when designing tertiary or incidental characters who inhabit the reality.

In the end, for a world creator it's all about forging the most realistic and believable reality possible, no matter how outrageous or unbelievable the overall premise or governing rules are. If this is done in a consistent, holistic, and comprehensive manner, with the pointers I mentioned earlier, I believe your scripts, stories, and novels, will all benefit and stand as superior pieces of writing.

Till next time.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Republicans Versus the Race Party...I Mean the Democrats: Part II - 1825-1854 > > > [re-issue]

Welcome back the Gauntlet of Balthazar for a re-issue of "Republicans Versus the Race Party...I Mean the Democrats Part II: 1825-1854", now broken up into smaller segments, and methodically tracing the evolution of political party philosophy in the United States from the founding until the present day.

Within reason the premise of this series of posts is to demonstrate that there has been only two dominant political trains of thought throughout our history - those being, Pro-Central Government versus the Liberty of Individual Rights. It is my contention that the push and pull of these philosophies is, and has been, an intra-party struggle within the Republican Party, while the primary focus of the Democratic Party was, and still currently is - simply race. From the DNC's founding as the pro-slavery party in the 1830's, to  being the party of anti-desegregation in the 1960's, and currently fomenting division by plying Marxist Intersectional race, class and gender warfare initiatives, race politics has served as the primary means (hand-in-hand with Globalist Corporatism) by which the DNC has cemented its power base.

So, let's return to the methodical march through time and pick up the next phase of American political history with the election of 1824.
  
Part Two: 1825-1854 (Republicans, Whigs and the Pro-Slavery Party)

The first great internal watershed of doctrinaire proportions that shook the political landscape of America was the election of 1824 - which pitted an ardent Federalist, John Quincy Adams - the son of Federalist Party founder, John Adams, against a southern populist war hero known as Andrew Jackson.

Reformulated themselves into the National Republican Party, and headed by J.Q. Adams and Secretary of State Henry Clay, the NRP was initially referred to the Adams-Clay Republicans in order to differentiate themselves from the Jeffersonian Republicans - but these were clearly Federalists. The National Republican Party was in essence the fusion of the earlier Democratic-Republican party and the Federalist party - the once bitter rivals agreeing on one thing: that Jackson and his ilk had to go!

While Adams won the 1824 election, he savagely lost the election of 1828 election to Andrew Jackson. The Jackson camp (the Jacksonian's) quickly adopted the moniker "the Democratic Party", and the origin of the current political party of the same name dates from that year. If we are to believe their rhetoric (and wikipedia) there is an unbroken line of thought here, or at least that is what we are led to believe. True, Jackson attacked the institution of central banking as an evil, and in that he was largely correct, and within reason the DNC did indeed inherit many of the socially left ideals of Jefferson's Democratic-Republicans. But more so the Jacksonian's utilized the individualism of the platform and states rights sovereignty to justify and support the continuation of their most prized issue - the institution of slavery in the south (and Native American culturcide and genocide, if we're being fully forthcoming).

Having lost to Jackson in the 1828-1837 period, The National Republicans went into a tailspin, but in the long run the defeat galvanized them into a stronger platform, gathering their former members together with disaffected Democrats, as well as the Anti-Masonic Party - which supplied a strong third-party alternative to Jackson in the 1828 election. Honestly, by today's standards the Anti-Masons would frankly seem at home with the conspiracy theorists and the soft Alt-Right, or at least "Alt-lite". Nonetheless, these three streams all coalesced into what was called the Whig Party, which formalized itself in 1833. Indeed, such was the appeal of the party that four US Presidents after Jackson were Whigs.

As a party the Whigs (or "Clay" Whigs) took their name from the powdered wigs that the colonial founders sported, belying their pride in the revolution and their patriotism. They were a center-right party, which favored economic interventionist policies such as protective tariffs, national infrastructure development, and an "America First" outlook (sound familiar?). Unlike the earlier regional divisions of the parties, the Whigs had supporters in both the north and the south, notably from the entrepreneurial class. Due to this, or maybe because of this, the Whigs opted to not have a strong platform regarding slavery, either way, and chose to kind of ignore it.

By today's standards I feel that the closest parallel to the Whig Party of the 1840's would be to that of the Tea Party movement of the early 2000's. Both were Federalists, but not extremely so. Both were Classical Liberals - with a Conservative streak. And both prized Entrepreneurial Capitalism but not war- mongering and Corporatism, and I like to imagine that the Whigs and the Tea Party would have shared a similar heartfelt disdain for Neo-Con's (and Neo-Lib's).

I personally like to think of myself as a bit of a Whig, and if President Donald Trump thought about it, he would too, even though his brand of populism has had a similar divisive effect on the opposition party and the media-indoctrinated partisan populace as Jackson did in his time.

As you might have premeditated, I'm about to talk about Whigs "chicken's coming home to roost" effect due to their avoidance to taking a stand on the slavery issue. And if you did guess that, you'd be absolutely right.

You see, it was due to, or maybe because of the neutral approach the Whig's took on the issue of slavery, that several single-issue abolitionist splinter parties came into existence in the 1840's - such as the Liberty Party (1840-1848), who responded to southern Democrats (and somewhat northern Democrats) who were pushing for the expansion of slavery in the newly acquired south-western territories. Ironically, Southern Whig's leaned to being even more pro-slavery than their Democratic Party counterparts in either the south or north, while Northern Whigs tended to being more anti-slavery than Northern Democrats. However, as Southern Democrats started to suggest the concept of secession over the issue of slavery, Southern Whigs moved away - their Federalist-born national patriotism being more important than what was in many ways seen as a "regional issue".

However, slavery was of course not just a regional issue, it was a moral issue. So, in the end, morality caught up with the Whigs, who promptly divided into two major factions: the anti-slavery Conscience Whigs and the Pro-Southern Cotton Whigs. While the Conscience Whigs were noted for their opposition to slavery on moral grounds, the Cotton Whig's association with the New England textile industry led them to consistently downplay the slavery issue. During the 1850s, several Conscience leaders played an important role in the founding of the Republican Party - displaying the abolitionist stream of Republican thought even prior to the technical founding of the party.

It should be mentioned that the Whigs and their denial of the issue of slavery first led to them loosing elections, and finally to a collapse, and then dissolution in the wake of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. This led to a reunification or a re-absorption of their party back into the National Republican Party. Likewise such were the times that the Liberty Party, the Conscience Whigs, and many Barnburner Democrats (who left the DNC), soon formed the Free Soil Party in 1852 - a centrist anti-slavery political party. No shock here - the Free Soil Party and the NRP then merged on March 20th, 1854 to form the GOP (Grand Old Party) then as now known simply as the Republican Party.

I should make it clear that the Democrats were not immune to the push and pull of the slavery issue, and at least in the north, a radical anti-slavery wing of the Democratic Party called the Barnburners, or Barnburner Democrats came into being. They were opposed within the party by a group called the Hunkers. The Barnburners (like current fiscal Conservatives) while not against large entrepreneurial businesses, opposed expanding the national debt and aggrandizing the power of large state-subsidized corporations. They also stood for local control, as did the Jeffersonian's. The Hunkers also wished to minimize the issue of slavery, like the Northern Whigs, but unlike the Federalists they favored state banks rather than a national bank.

While Democrats of the time insisted they were still less socially Conservative than Republicans, and reflected some of the leftist leanings of Jefferson's original Democratic-Republican Party (minus the moral qualms over slavery), just as at it's inception under Jackson, the issue of race (and pro-slavery) became the purview of the Democratic Party leading up to, and after, the Civil War.

In retrospect it is clear that the Democrats of the 1824-1854 period only supported states rights in order to insure that African-American's would not be freed, and that Native American land could be freely confiscated. Add to that their Anti-Catholicism, and it should come as no surprise why the DNC would later come to be the home of secessionists, anti-de-segregationists, eugenicists, and the KKK until the 1980's, and is in my opinion a political party that is currently still obsessed with race in the form of post-modern language deconstruction, Marxist intersectionality and identity politics.

But that's for the later posts in this series.

Till next time.