Thursday, September 28, 2017

Electronic Music Piece of the Day Give-Away

"Clara and Natalia" is track number twenty-eight in the BandCamp hosted 391 & the Army of Astraea electronic music piece of the day give-away.

The name of this piece is a reference to Clara Petacci and Natalia Sedova, who were respectively Benito Mussolini's mistress and Leon Trotsky's second wife.

Both eventually met their premature demises due to their involvement with politics and their significant others.

I personally perceive this piece as an aural refutation of political extremes.


Till next time.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Catalonia, European Regional Separatist Movements, and the European Union

In the wake of the August 17th Barcelona terror attacks and the upcoming Catalan Independence Referendum, set to take place on October, 1, 2017, the government of Spain has made it abundantly clear that they oppose any move toward secession by any province of their nation. According to the Spanish Constitution, the referendum is wholly illegal, and as such, they have arrested key legislative and political figures, shut down pro-Catalan-independence websites, upped police presence, and are poised to exercise military intervention by the national army, if need be.

As a student of Medieval Spain as well as contemporary regional political and folk movements around the world, I find this situation extremely interesting, and I suspect this to be just the first in a new wave of regional secessionist dominoes that will fall largely due to a variety of factors. These factors include, I feel; economic self-interest, sub-cultural identitarianism, and most importantly, that this is part of a general global push away from collectivism and a romance with local self-determination and national sovereignty. 

But first, let's take a little look at the back-story here.

In the Muslim period, Catalonia was a unique player in the regional wars called the “Reyes de Taifa”. These wars are probably best described as the petty turf contests of regional kings which commenced in the aftermath of the fall of the Ummayad Caliphate of Cordoba in 1031 C.E. Just three hundred years earlier, Berber, Yemini, Moorish, and Syrian immigration to Spain started, following the Berber invasion by Tariq Ibn Ziyad, (and assisted by the Jews of Spain) in 711 C.E., which deposed the Visigoth Arian Christian King, Roderic. During this era Spain was not only under Muslim military control, but was highly influenced by eastern culture in general. Andalusia, and the south in particular, as well as key cities such as Seville and Cordoba were hotbeds of cultural interplay, but also of a growing religious divisiveness between the Christian faith of the majority and the Muslim (and Jewish) faith(s) of the elite.

While the north, i.e. Castile and Aragon, were gearing up hard for the Christian Re-Conquest of the nation, the coast straddled the middle path between these two forces. Sure, the Catalans were Catholic, but they were also no strangers to Muslim influence. As a striking example I should probably point out that at one point in the tenth century, the city of Valencia was ruled by a junta of self-emancipated slaves who were pagans of Eastern European extraction, and were Arabic speaking. While this might seem odd to those who think of Spain as a cultural monolith, I think this example serves to illustrate the complexities of the origins of modern Spain and its persisting regionalism.

In this local context of the wars of the petty Kings, Catalonia chose to offer their services universally as acknowledged prodigious cavalrymen to the highest bidder, and frankly, the highest bidder was often Muslim. Needless to say, in this culture of mounting dogmatism, and outspoken ideologue monk come-martyr, many other Christians, in the other provinces, didn’t take kindly to fellow Catholics that chose to not side with them against the Muslim threat, and so, the Catalans developed, or rather, fortified a perception that their regional independence and culture was far more important to them than Christendom as a whole, or of the notion of a unified Spain.

The re-conquest ended in 1492, and by 1614 the process of the "de-Islamization" of Spain was “complete”. A century later, in 1714, the War of Spanish Succession firmly brought an end to Catalan independence, and it would not be on the table again for until the restoration of democracy after the death of rightist dictator Francisco Franco in 1975. Under Franco, Spanish regionalism was suppressed, and generally, the political face of various regional movements took on a leftist orientation. Starting in the late 1960’s the hyper-violent Basque nationalist movement, ETA, shattered the image of the mild-mannered regional folklorist by launching attacks against the central government that would continue to their permanent cease fire in 2011. While parallels between ETA and the Irish Republican Army can easily be made, the Catalans seemed much more interested in going about their separatism primarily by legal means. Parties proliferated and a general paradigm shift occurred starting in the 1980’s, when many of the newer movements veered to a more Conservative bent. I suspect this is a clear reaction to the leftist regime in Madrid, as well as to the globalist anti-sovereignty agenda of the European Union. Like Brexit, or Donald Trump’s election in the US, the Catalan Separatist movement is in many respects a reaction, knowingly or unknowingly, to global trends and shifts to and from various levels regarding the implementation of economic and cultural Marxism.

It remains to be seen if Catalonia will persevere in light of Madrid’s aggression, but I suspect that the more the powers that be attempt to put down the regional movements, the more they will fuel the fire of the secessionists. Like the left in the US, who have been in attack mode since last November, they have only emboldened the “man on the fence”, and pushed him to the right. Likewise, Madrid will push the Catalans.

I expect the next move for the Catalans will be the invoking of EU aid in negotiating with Madrid. But I think that is an endeavor that is doomed to failure, as the EU is overtly collectivist, and I find it highly unlikely that they will side with Catalonia over Spain. Thus, this will play into the separatists hands, who can then illustrate to their followers that the EU has abandoned them, not that they were going to apply to be a member state anyway. Regardless, this will stir up the secessionist movements in the other provinces, not only in Spain, but I expect in France as well. We must note here that Marine Le Pen scored her best in French departments in the eastern Occitan as well as in Aisne and Calais, for obvious reasons. If these reasons combine with regional linguistic identity, all the more gunpowder for the keg. 

In the event that Catalonia does succeed in gaining her independence from Spain, I suspect that Valencia, La Franja, the Islands, and El Carche in Murcia, could merge together to form a Catalan-speaking majority super-state. It is fairly unlikely that Catalan-speakers on the French side of the border would be included in this, but who knows how far this unraveling might go. Likewise, if emboldened enough, the Basque separatists might return to their once radical goals and “Spainexit” as well, taking Navarre, in hopes of uniting with Basques, once gain, over the border in France. Though not as wealthy, and historically less vocal about secession from Spain, the Celtic provinces of the north; Asturias, Cantabria, and Galicia might then seek a Hispano-Celtic state, hoping to unite with their Gallego brothers and sisters in the mountains of northern Portugal.

But, this cultural regional sovereignty impetus need not end with only Spain and Catalonia. From Barcelona it could easily move into several other sectors of Western and Central Europe, powered by the success, or even the failure, of the Catalan struggle, and serve to protest or undermine the indeterminable reach and faux-lawful hegemony of the European Union in their comfy offices in Brussels.

To sum up, within reason Spain possesses several provinces that are ripe for regional independence, not just Catalonia, and we’ll just have to wait and see how hard Madrid, and the European Union push back. As a historical supporter of all regional self-determining, and democratic, multi or uni-ethno-super-states culled from existing entities, such as Kurdistan, I fully support Catalonia’s effort to shake off the yoke of Madrid’s cultural dominance and the umbrella of the European Union.

Bona sort i lluita contra el poder, Catalunya.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Indian Summer Hijinkscery

This could well be filed in the "far too much time on his hands" category, but I thought this was just too adorable, and far too self-promoting, to not post it immediately. Likewise, be sure to check out the 391 & the Army of Astraea page at Bandcamp and our main site at Nevekari Enterprises.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Science Versus Fiscal Conservatism, and NASA's Failure to Launch

I'll start this by simply stating that it seems to me that a great many liberals are thoroughly convinced that anyone who falls politically even slightly right of center must by default ascribe to a general "anti-science" stance. I suspect this belief primarily hinges, at least in regard to the media, on the hotly contested issue of climate change, and the secondary fact that there is indeed a "Creationist" demographic within the Conservative Evangelical fringe. Neither are universal principles, from my perspective, and I must add that out of all of the Conservatives, Republicans, Libertarians, etc., that I'm personally friendly with, a grand total of ZERO could be described as Creationists, anti-science, or what is called "climate deniers". 

In fact, as relating specifically to the issue of creationism versus creation science, in a previous article posted here (check the post history) on the Gauntlet I even mapped out a step-by-step guide for religious Conservatives, explaining how easy it is to synchronize biblical creationism with evolution science. I did this as a service for any religious Conservatives who might possess "questioning" philosophical thoughts about Creationist dogma, and wished to open their mind to a more holistic viewpoint.

Climate change, on the other hand, has become such an ideology fueled debate that it has led to leftists freely pairing the concept of belief in climate change with the method of how to fix the problem as one in the same. Thus, if a Conservative even questions a fiscal plan, such as a "carbon tax", the US's involvement in the Paris Accords, or even any plan concocted or statements broadly uttered by any outspoken leftist media science-ideologue, such as Bill Nye, they are mercilessly attacked in the public forum for the heresy of non-belief in the science of climate change. 

I personally believe in climate science. But tackling methods of how to solve it are just not high on my agenda - which as a statement is more than enough for a climate dogmatist to get their triggers in a bunch. As emotional ideologues (and Socialists) they expect the same emotion level of everyone they encounter to be the same, and uniform. But, as I often tell my leftists friends, you can not force me to care about issues in the same manner or intensity that you do. To me, if the situation is indeed as dire as the drum-beaters claim it is, there seems little that me investing emotional energy in the issue will do to fix it. Thus, the parsing of this belief with the larger globalist gestalt of international wealth re-distribution is clear, and to many ideologues, and to those influenced by them, both these beliefs are not in sync with those who ascribed to conservative side of the spectrum. Generally, leftists imagine that as far as science goes Conservative are just maybe one step ahead of medievalists, but not the medievalists of the Muslim world, who are, of course, the more acceptable medievalists to the left, as they represent the "approved" ethnic victim narrative that they oh so adore.

As a fiscal Conservative, I find the Paris Accords wholly misdirected, and built out of the same Socialist-globalist re-distribution of wealth premise involving the first world, i.e. America and secondarily Europe, paying for the pollutants generated by the second and third world, i.e. China, India, and the continent of Africa. Since most first world countries create far less pollutants than those regions, even if we eliminated our pollutant output 100%, it would only change the global picture by 1% over the next 80 years. So I have come to believe that the ultimate cure for global pollution is the growing middle classes of those nations and regions eventually putting their collective feet down and forcing their governments to clean up their acts. I assure anyone who believes in endless committees and panels, that an angry missive from some faceless EU bureaucrat will do little to force China to do anything but laugh at the audacity and self-importance of these "theorists", while, the voices of 500 million of their own citizens just might do the trick.

Saying all this, as it turns out, Conservatives have actually funded far more scientific endeavors than liberals, including the space program, which, as you might tell from the name of this post, is an issue that I feel should concern us all.

As  a disclaimer I must say that I am extremely favorably disposed to the sciences, and none more so than space exploration. As a child, like many born around the same time as I, I was enraptured by the Apollo missions, the space shuttle, orbital stations and the like, and this fire was fueled and paralleled by the copious quantity of science fiction film and literature flooding the market at the time. Star Wars, Star Trek, etc., etc., ruled the day, even much more than now, and offered a glimpse into the possible futures of space-born technology that could come to be. Whether these were of the positive-futurist branch of thought, as in Gene Roddenberry's case, the fantasy-driven, hard Sci-Fi, or even those dystopian outings which offered cursory warnings of the potential downsides of invasive technology in all its social and mechanical manifestations.

But, even in light of NASA's past accomplishments, we must always look into the future practically, and in my opinion, the future does not seem to be NASA's "bag".

Yes, we have launched probes that have left our solar system. Yes, they've plopped a few very expensive rovers down to the surface of the red planet, and yes, they talk a big game about securing space in the future, but for the most part, I see NASA as a bloated arm of the US military that spends most of its time padding its coffers while engaging in eighth grade zero gravity science projects, on Russian Federation space stations, after our "astronauts" hitch rides on, you guessed it, outdated Russian rockets.

It is odd that with all the manufactured "Russo-phobia" that followed in the wake of the 2016 US presidential election, that leftists are still quite enamored with working side-by-side with the Russians and are so smitten with phrases like " the International Space Station", even if space is heavily controlled by the Russians. I guess the appeal of Socialist-Globalist "internationalism", such as embodied in "earth" institutions like the EU and UN, are merely a side show when it comes to fantasy space colonization. One can only assume that leftists expect that the Red Planet will truly be a "Red Planet" - pun intended. 

But onto the crux of the Gauntlet's ire and the impetus for this post's creation. 

It came as a great shock to me when I recently learned that NASA's annual budget breaks down to an unbelievable $60 million dollars a day. Yes, you better believe it, that's $60 million each and every day, 365 days a year, all drawn from US taxpayers. 

Now, I fully understand that NASA is a huge, 60-some-odd year old industry, and that all of her workers need to bring home a paycheck every Friday, and such a huge dinosaur like that needs to be fed on a consistent basis. However, I must add, and I say this with no sense of arrogance or entitlement, but merely with a sense of entrepreneurial practicality, that if I (or someone like me) were suddenly (and I guess magically) given 60 million a day, I'm fairly certain that I would be able to build a space program from scratch. Surely, it would be a lean, small endeavor, but it would look like full-blown Sci-Fi in comparison to NASA's launching of bacteria-filled balloons into the atmosphere during an eclipse, or US astronauts hitching rides with Russians to space stations that we couldn't afford to build without help. 

I hear that funding to upgrade Houston has been approved, even before the recent hurricane, and NASA has been talking a big game as usual, probably spurred on by entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk and Richard Branson threatening to fill the space gap, but I personally think their plans are also quite limited. 

What we might need is not just an aggrandizement of "ground control", low orbit tourism, or an eighth grade science project base on Mars, but maybe an entirely new agency altogether that has a very specific focus and very specific goals, which also won't conflict with dismembering national economies here on earth by mining asteroids that are full of gold, diamonds, etc. 

So I guess, bottom line, what I'm saying is: can anyone say "Star-fleet"?

Just something to think about. Till next time.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

From the Writer's Studio: The Unforgivable Conundrum of Quentin Tarantino

"Quentin, Quentin, Quentin". I occasionally find myself muttering beneath my breath in irritation. It is a rare, yet consistent condition I suffer from, like a form of artistic eczema or a theatrically nagging cough, that I wish were not so, but nonetheless the complaint persists. Now I'm certain a good percentage of otherwise satisfied individuals, who you may be numbered among, might very well respond, "What ever could you possibly find wrong with Academy Award winning director, Quentin Tarantino now, oh, Gauntlet of Balthazar?"

Well, since "hashing stuff out" is an integral part of what social media and blogs are all about, I think this might be a perfect time and place to delineate my seemingly eternal internal battle of pros and cons regarding Tarantino's directing, writing, often smarmy screen presence, and the sub-text presented within his various art products.

So here it is.

Like many film aficionados, Tarantino appeared on my radar with the opening of 1992's "Reservoir Dogs", which was also his first major release. It's a stylish and clever neo-noir crime-thriller which broke new ground, won the fawning accolades of film critics, and perhaps more to the reason that I chose to lay down cash and see it, was that it was a "hit" with many of my schoolmates who held film degrees. Not to be rhetorical, but, what do you think it was that they liked so much about Tarantino? I suspect that it was the sense and feel that young Quentin was very aware of film history, particularly in respect to the manner in which he paid homage to the B-movies of the 1970's that he, we, I, grew up on. His films reeked of the second-hand perfume of Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns so much so that you could almost hear Ennio Morricone's horn section viscerally interpolated through almost all of his films, from his first outings to even his current works.

His penchant for inserting intentionally "difficult" characters who exist on the periphery of society, and who often display extremely brash, politically incorrect dialog, was welcomed by those who saw Tarantino as fighting the establishment film hierarchy in the same way Lucas and Spielberg had in the previous generation. To this day Tarantino devotees laud him like staunch protective partisans, fighting in proxy the power of the academy, but of course not a critical colleague like Spike Lee so much, 'cuz, he's, uh, you know, a victim identity, so he's off limits. I imagine these fans, in and out of the industry, believe themselves all the more progressive for enjoying Tarentino's films as if they were conducted directly to their minds by some weird form of visual osmosis, and they believe that he knowingly speaks for them, and in a very real way, promotes their agenda, and helps move it forward.

I can find no more an apt anecdote that forced me to scratch the poison ivy that is Quentin to my sensitive skin just a few years ago, shortly after Django Unchained was released. I was serving as a chaperone on a school field trip with my daughter's class to a museum in another city. During the long bus ride there I got to know several of her classmates, all of whom were about nine years of age or so at the time. One young man in her class asked me if I had seen Django Unchained. I responded, "Have you seen Django Unchained?", shocked that such a young child would have been allowed to see a movie that was preceded by an extremely violent reputation. He said yes, and that his parents let him see it and they watched it together, repeatedly. I inquired what was it that he liked about the movie, as he was clearly very taken with it. He quickly replied that he liked it so much because "Django gets to kill a ton of white folk in it". Needless to say, the student was African-American, and though some people, particularly on the left, might find his statements somehow empowering, I view it as absolutely counterproductive to healing racial relations in our country. Mind you, racial tensions, particularly from the African-American activist side, and aimed at the authorities, rose steadily during President Obama's second term, and culminated with the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement and riots such as those that passed in Ferguson, Missouri. By turning Django Unchained from a slavery epic into a spaghetti western revenge yarn, Tarantino may have given ample room for both white guilt and black anger about slavery to float to the social surface, he also capitalized on the rising tide of hate, as well as using it to virtue signal his own opinion to his peers. At the same time this film was symptomatic of white far-left identitarians encouraging African-Americans to feel universally slighted and to take revenge on "the man". Not them of course, they were "good white people", they meant white people who were different from them. So convenient with an election coming up, huh?

Despite the previous tirade, one of my actual biggest disappointments vis-à-vis Tarantino has nothing to do with his directing or acting, but probably with his screen-writing of his film "Inglorious Bastards", which I otherwise find to be his finest bit of film-making. I understand that right now many of you are probably scratching your head, wondering why the contradiction of such an accolade tethered to the "greatest problem" qualifier with what I'm also calling arguably his best film. So, I'll explain why.

As a script and film, I.B. moves along wonderfully for 95% of its length. It is shot beautifully, it is intriguing, acted very, very well, and is highly suspenseful, until the last five minutes. All of the time the viewer invested in the film falls away as the Sex Pistols blare in to an over the top melange that seems like a child's daydream. All sense of reality and the suspension of disbelief is exchanged for a fantasy where Tarantino virtue signals to the world that he hates Nazis (No way!, it must be only you and Antifa Quentin!) and in this fantasy gone wrong, he has the Jewish female protagonist and her American aides literally kill Adolf Hitler and his senior staff. Obviously this event never occurred in reality and my disbelief, bordering on the suspicion that this might have been a story taken from life was shattered beyond recognition. I had apparently just wasted two hours of my life investing in a story that ended up being an absolute fantasy yet seem to be presented as an almost real story. This was just another virtue signal of the highest order, with Tarantino messaging his peers that he is indeed a champion of anti-fascism, social justice, black empowerment etc., etc.

Like James Cameron, who I slammed in a previous post here for his overt promotion of the progressive Marxist-globalist agenda in his film Avatar, I believe Quentin is guilty of the same charge. In addition to his consistent signalling, he often casts himself in his own films as a character who annoyingly pushes around other characters who in real life would have none of it, reflecting either his personal need to be powerful, or in an attempt at making social commentary about certain types of people who would push around even tougher people or people who are in oppressed identity categories. He is thoroughly not enjoyable to watch as an actor, and I have many questions about his motives as a screenwriter, but I have to admit he is an extremely talented director. So, I'll give you that, Q.T.

Perhaps one of the most well-known images associated with Quentin is "Pulp Fiction", which deals with gangsters in all of their uncharacteristic retro pastiche oddness. Likewise "Jackie Brown", which was a homage to the "blaxploitation" movies of the '70's, and does not obscure its intentions, much. But  aside from Django and Basterds the other film of his that I have a major problem with is one that he did not direct - "Natural Born Killers". This gratuitous and macabre tale glorifies a dysfunctional couple's anarchist-tinged killing spree as somehow a wonderful political statement of the disaffection that modern youth have with modern culture. This was, I felt, a point made much more cogently in Malcolm McDowell's 1968 debut film, "If" - the story of a young man at a British "public school" who decides that the system of societal controls should be removed by him and his like-minded nihilistic friends, by hyper-violent means. A great film, and much less syphilitic than NBK.

As result of Tarantino's endless virtue signalling, his manipulation of different identity groups, and his espousal of the progressive agenda as a bridge in his relationships to people within the Hollywood elite, this make him seem to me all the more predictable. Certainly by now it is clear that I find Quentin irritating to watch on screen and in interviews, but I also suspect that he might be interesting to socialize with, and I'm certain his wonderful knowledge of film history is probably quite impressive. Nonetheless, he irritates me to no end, but, unlike Rodger Waters I will refrain from awarding him the Gauntlet's "REGRESSIVE RETARD OF THE MONTH" (or YEAR) award , but I will still hold him in general contempt, of the Cameron-Avatar sort, for what I feel is his duplicitous and opportunistic tactics in promoting his agenda and ruining the experience of his films for me...not that he would care in the least.

Till next time.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A Tale of Two Dogmas: The Innate Human Drives of Capitalism and Socialism, and Their Manifestations in the Culture War

The debate relating to the ultimate cultural and philosophical origins of what we generally call the impulse to insure land property rights and financial inheritance, i.e. "Capitalism", as well as the altruistic impulse of communal equity and shared group cooperation, i.e. "Socialism", have been retroactively extended backward in time by historians, anthropologists, theorists, and political scientists, to our earliest emergence as a species. As a historian, I have always been drawn to the school of historical analysis known as Euhemerism, which, to offer a short description, is the extrapolation of provable fact from the dissection of literary myth, and thus, I am ultimately most intrigued by origins that are placed in the earliest pre-history, and reflect core aspects of human nature. This guiding philosophy has hugely effected my fiction writing as well as my overall belief system, and has ingrained in me an holistic approach to sub-textual elements in regard to character development in script and story, and in real world in regard to interpersonal communication, where political dogma and ideology have increasingly come into play in day to day interactions in oblique and often subtle modes. 

It is probably no great news flash that I am on record as an ardent anti-Socialist, and I'm sure that for many of my intellectual peers, even hearing such a description is quite disturbing. This reaction is largely due to the cultural fallout of the left generally "winning" the culture war for the soul of western societies. Having moved past their classical liberal / socially liberal democratic values, these assumptions were born in the aftermath of the waves of counter-cultural revolutions that gained speed following World War II, and culminated first in the Beatniks, then the Hippies, and then the Punks. Of course, there was no "rule" to force a Beat, Hippie, or Punk to be a Socialist or Communist, but the assumption was made by, well, Socialists and Communists, that if you "had issues" with "the system", you probably ascribed to further left beliefs. This only made sense since the establishment was always depicted as a bastion of Conservative-Capitalist philosophy and the epitome of "the powers that be".

This was perhaps quite true in the time before the establishment itself moved further and further to the left, but as it stands now in most western democratic (and not so democratic) nations, as well as in many second and third world nations, academia, media and prominent figures in the arts have held enormous power and cultural sway over the slow entrenchment of Socialist philosophy to the otherwise oblivious general public. This has culminated in the increasing co-opting of the government by politicians who may not always define themselves as Socialists, but for all intensive purposes, that is indeed what they are. Saul Alinsky's subversive and adversarial tactics, and his Marxist goal of the destruction of the middle class, and the philosophic foundations of the United States and other western nations, were / are still in effect by the far left, but in the aftermath of this unilateral co-opting of government agencies and political parties, even a Tory in Great Britain, a Republican in the US, or just short of a full Nationalist in France, etc., could easily be seen spouting pseudo-Socialist, Globalist talking points to an audience largely unaware that such a shift had so deftly and subtly overtaken them.

As a counter-reaction to the clear leftist dominance in culture and the takeover of the apparatus of state, Conservative parties were now the opposition to "the man", by default. They revamped themselves in movements such as the Tea Party and Brexit, in the realization that their founding philosophies were indeed still worth fighting for. Many of these classical liberal beliefs were once shared by both right and left but now had been seemingly abandoned by the left for the more outward Socialist and Communist goals of the greener pastures of the further left. This in turn gave the right the fuel to embrace these values all the more as part of their heritage. To be fair, moderate leftists still hold these beliefs as sacred, or at least as semi-sacred, as any of those on the right, yet, in all of this, the far left was / is still convinced that they are carrying the torch of revolution and resistance to imagined enemies of a status quo that they actual control. Ironic, huh?

So this is where we are at now. A state of "Political Schizophrenia", as Vladimir Putin recently disparaged the state of political and societal affairs in the US. But, let's go back to the discussion of origins, shall we?

In the most ancient times mankind primarily worked cooperatively in small hunter-gatherer bands that were primarily based on blood kinship. While this could be seen by many to be the basis of the Socialist tendency, I would argue that because this paradigm thrived in an extended blood bond structure highlighted by hunting ground territoriality, that this was oligarchic in nature, and that the "prime hunter" was given much latitude in "running" the tribe. Essentially, a chieftain-hood is still a monarchy. If the chief was chosen by a council, it was a constitutional monarchy, if he was as appointed by a shaman, this was a theocratic monarchy. The parity of those beneath the chief might very well be described as Socialistic, at least in the pre-Marxist context, though we could equally describe it simply as "familial".

Enter Capitalism. As civilization spread, the ownership of unique physical structures i.e. huts, led to the apportioning of crop fields or more elaborated houses, which were held to "belong" to a specific immediate family group, and thus, the patriarchal concept of inheritance was born. Capitalism's true definition is simply the right to private property and honoring your contractual agreements. Just like mom and dad told us when we were kids - Don't take other peoples things and don't lie to them! This philosophy, far from having a negative effect, reflected man's desire for continuity, and fueled the fire of civilization, as much as civilization was fueled by it. It may have been working counter to the illusion of "collective community", but it allowed for the legal framework in which a man could pass the ownership of his wealth to his offspring, and to provide for his spouse or other chosen relations. This philosophy, and the legal systems that grew from it were not a nefarious plot of male supremacy, as many third stream feminists might contend, but rather a method to insure the stability of civilization in an all too fragile world filled with the threat of famine, warfare, and disease that looming near at hand. Marx describes this as well, and thus the origins of Capitalism is affixed to this paradigm, and I see no reason to doubt that this is indeed the starting point that led to mercantilism and global trade.

Socialists, particularly Democratic Socialists, often contest that any social services, such as police, infrastructure, road upkeep, and the care for the less advantaged are evidence of Socialism working inside the Capitalist framework, but I think not. Despotic Kings as far back as the dawn of Mesopotamian civilization financed roads, building projects, sanitation, and gave charity to the unfortunate. These are all essential parts of Capitalism, and keep the mechanism of commerce from stagnating. I contest that in respect to this line of thinking Socialists are looking for something they have already found.

Through the ages collectivism often reared its head, many times wrapped in the guise of religious movements, specifically those that embraced the utopian image of global equality as synonymous with the utopian premise of the religion or culture in which it was practiced. In its most zealous forms, this manifested in the "disdain of greed" motif often presented in various religions as a sin or vice. This pairing should be of no surprise since it still continues till today, and religious people of all faiths are often taught to downplay wealth and to praise the poor as somehow more in line with "God's plan". As if God, or the Gods, wish their human "subjects" to suffer. That is clearly not a plan a deity would concoct, but rather the temporal powers that be. Nice try, though.        

In their true modern "canonized" forms, Socialism and Communism obviously start with Karl Marx in the mid-nineteenth century, and came into psychological existence as a rebuttal to the abuses of Capitalism and the inequities that Marx saw in the world around him. This entire line of thinking could have only been born out of a middle class mind born in a Capitalist society. Capitalism may be a competitive system, but it is a system that seeks to give everyone the chance to better their lives. As Capitalism creates social mobility, it destroys traditional class structure and forges equality based solely on success. This equality in turn encourages classical liberal values, which eventually lead to a counter reaction against Capitalism, most often in the form of Socialism. A full circle of sorts.

But, as we know, the ultimate goal of Socialism, according to Marx, was to set the stage for eventual national Communism, and thence, global Communism. Regardless of the protestations, Democratic Socialism, Marxism, and other forms of "Communism-lite", are designed to slowly entrench actual Communism, and if Socialists are honest with themselves, and others, in discussing their ultimate vision of what they think would be the "best future" for the world, I'm fairly certain that regardless of the terminology used, it reads like Communism.

Sadly, the one problem with this system, which on paper reads like a wonderful Star Trek-Like future of no currency, no war, no want, one fair global government, and utopian equality, is that it doesn't work. The reason is simple, by re-distributing wealth and forcing this utopia, Marxism coalesces all people in a society into a single class, most often defined by deprivation and food shortages, since the arm of Capitalist production, and Capitalist money soon becomes scarce. As Maggie Thatcher, PM of Britain in the 1980's was once famously paraphrased, "The problem with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money". As it often goes, Capitalism facilitates the funds and altruism that allow Socialists to gain political control and implement their collectivist policies. As long as nations keep riding the pendulum between fiscal Conservatives and Labor parties there will be money for Socialist entitlements. As soon as Conservatives are out of the picture, leftists run out of money and their systems soon implode. England, and many other European nations, have long leaned Socialist on the backs of their fiscal Conservatives. When pressed for best case scenarios, sycophants frequently cite Socialism as working well in nations like the Nederland's and Sweden, which admittedly it did, in the past. The reason it did work so well is because those states started the process of increasing Socialist policy within a relatively homogeneous and law abiding population who boasted very high standards of living. This allowed for the large taxes Socialist entitlements required. South America on the other end of the spectrum, swung to extremes, while the US has traditionally been in the middle - allowing for the push and pull of Socialist entitlements under Democrat big government thinking and fiscal cutbacks under small government Republican thinking. For those who contend that Capitalism is not working well in the US, I should probably point out that our economic problems stem from the growth of Corporatism facilitated by big government and lack of constitutional controls, which have led to the increasing diminishment of entrepreneurial zeal and manufacturing, and paved the way to coalesce the population into an unbridled consumer culture.

Today, instead of working together to compromise on the road to improving society, the left has swung generally further left, and as extremists of all sorts often display, their lack of tolerance for those who they feel are impeding their progress toward this wonderful utopia has become more acute. We normally call that fascistic, but the left truly believe that they are immune to being fascist, and as I specified earlier, they are still convinced that they are holding the torch of revolution, regardless if their street-fighting Antifa Communist heroes are as much fascist as the fascists they claim to be so against. We must recall that George Orwell, the prime literary anti-authoritarian of the twentieth century, held Communists in special disdain, and viewed them as no different, if not worse, than from the rightist fascist dictatorships he fought against. Animal Farm was a metaphoric indictment of Stalin, and ask yourself, if you have read the "futurist" cautionary tale of "1984"; what is the political system presented in that work which rules over Winston Smith and the faceless masses of workers, and guides them through food shortages, universal surveillance, Stasi snitches, the destruction of religion, and the rewriting of their history and language. If your answer is not Communism, I think you may have read another book.

While the Alt Left is all the more enamored with the notion "bringing down the system" and installing global Communism, the world has collectively moved away from this deceptive form of tyranny, and as a result, over a billion people rose up out of poverty and joined the middle class in the last few decades in nations like China and India, thanks to Capitalism not to Communism. Grumpy old Socialists like Bernie Sanders or MP Jeremy Corbyn might mutter "Bourgeois pigs" under their breath, but Socialism did nothing for this starving billion for a century-and-a-half. Likewise, the Paris Accords and Carbon taxes will not fix environmental pollution, Capitalism will. As these new middle classes become more powerful they won't put up with their children playing in filth, and China and India, will be forced to clean up their acts, literally.

As far as history goes, and when the high death toll of Communist or Socialist-led states are pointed out to believers, they are apt to insist that those states "just didn't get it right", and that at some point in the future someone will. But there is no getting Communism, Socialism, and even Democratic Socialism right. Whenever they are involved in practical political structures, they are drawn to create oligarchic bureaucracies, such as the European Union in Brussels. The EU is a perfect example of Socialist thinking - its ruling body is composed of highly educated, but absolutely un-elected, and a mostly faceless bunch of politicos, who live the high life while distributing other peoples money. In historically full Communist states, such as Cuba and Russia, Communist Party members prospered while the common people lived in misery. Add to it if you complain about the system, you were either imprisoned or shot by Che or Josef's firing squads, especially when being of African descent or Jewish.

India flirted with Socialism for nearly a century, and China went Communist about 70 years ago. Yet, until their governments embraced Capitalism, they were incapable of eradicating the rampant poverty that plagued their nations. On the other hand, South American countries swung back and forth from authoritarian military dictatorships to Socialist and Communist governments, and the people suffered either way. Only the states that have embraced Capitalism have been able to approach the first world's standard of living. The more those nations relied on a Socialist economy the more fiscal problems they eventually suffered. The current mess in Venezuela stands as a stark testimony to that failed endeavor.

I think most Socialists are aware of this increasingly clear paradigm, at least on some level, but in order to remain true to their ideology, they are forced to be adversarial to Conservatives based on sociological concerns, which they tend to ply by stereotype. Ironically, the right has become highly diversified, and many fiscal Conservatives are socially very liberal. In some cases, I would suggest that they are even more so than classical liberals, and certainly more so than far left nanny-state scions. Psychologically this friction between perception and reality causes cognitive dissonance, and encourages leftists to try and depict those on the right as against what they stand for, even when they agree on an issue. Thus, they envision the right as against the social values they prize, even though those values are shared.

I personally think there is room on the spectrum for both ideas in the Democratic process, though I guess it would be nice if the Democrats could formulate a list of principles as to what it is they actually believe. If they are not Socialists, then let's hear it, and if it turns out that Socialism is what distinguishes a Democrat from a Republican, then I guess maybe they need to rename their party to make it clear that they are indeed Socialists.

Saying that, I expect the culture war will continue for some time, and in my opinion, the further left the left swings, the more they will marginalize themselves. In the US that is certainly true, as the recent elections have shown that the "average Joe" has finally reached the end of his patience with indulging the Socialists and cultural Marxists. In Britain, as it has been pointed out, no working class people actually support the labor party anymore, and those who vote labor are actual what I like to call "Starbucks Marxists". If in this party reshuffling, Capitalism eventually destroys class divisions, I wonder just what will the Socialists fight against? Theirs is a movement whose engine is powered by a "collective" spirit that thrives on identitarian class, race, and gender warfare.
In response to the left's hegemony in the media and academia, the right has been forced to look elsewhere to share information and organize. This was first achieved in the US on "Talk Radio", which has become a bastion of Conservative pundits, with just a few notable leftist parallels. With network news and periodicals closed to them, the next endeavor became the Internet, otherwise "the wild west" as far as information dissemination goes. Here everyone is equal, sans the powers that be de-monetizing voices they disapprove of. But, those voices can always appear suddenly elsewhere. All it takes is a new forum, a blog, or video provider. 

Trolling is a reaction to the left's dominance in the culture war, and ironically, much of it comes from button pushing contrarians who are not even on the right. It is an openly subversive way to fight the narrative that has dominated media and academia for decades. Trolling is the skeptics means to undermine the ridiculousness of SJW nonsense. Of course, since it is the wild west, some actually not nice people do get in the mix, as well as some actual fascists and racists, regardless of the normative Conservative movement distancing itself from them. This is very unlike Progressives, who almost uniformly refuse to condemn groups like Antifa and their use of fascistic violence, sometimes against minorities they insist they are "protecting". I expect this failure to continue for some time because leftists secretly welcome them as armchair proxy fighters in their "struggle". Many Socialists, if they are true to their vision of the future, know deep down that the actual end game of implementing Socialist policy - is global Communism.

Meme "Magic" and comedic images like "Pepe the Frog", and the entire 4chan and Reddit liberal skeptic "shitposter" aesthetic, exists simply because it irritates those on the left, who think this all means something it does not. The more the left and SJW's are triggered by an image, the more shitposters will bang that gong, and the more that they contest that an image reflects fascism or racism, or what have you, the more this cyber-space banter will continue. This is literally button pushing 101 - a sad side effect of the culture war that is best left to the cancerous comment sections of Youtube videos.

As for the Gauntlet of Balthazar, I will continue in what I feel is the noble endeavor of combating the mutant twin bane of globalism and collectivism, and to fight for the rights of individuals to express their opinions and creativity in the most constructive manner possible. Till next time.