Backward Causality and the Current Year

One of the best things about getting older is that the “amusement quotient” increases, almost geometrically.

So now the “1900s” is so  long ago that it’s not really relevant to 2017, which presumably sprang sui generis from the Womyn’s Studies department of a $50,000 a year liberal arts college. (more…)

Rise of the stoics

I tie Walker Percy, Harper Lee, gay marriage, and southern resistance all together in my latest Taki’s Mag piece. An excerpt:

Percy was careful to separate Southern stoicism from Christianity. Where the Stoic watched carefully over the rights of the underclass, he did so not out of love for human dignity but to retain heritage and tradition passed down from before. Christianity actually welcomed integration of public schools. “The Christian is optimistic precisely where the Stoic is pessimistic,” Percy wrote. With the forcing of same-sex marriage on the nation, it appears now that even Christian Southerners are forced to push back on federal overreach.

Nonparticipation is one of the few remedies left to take in a country where majoritarian impulses rule. As public life becomes secularized, faith is forced into private life. As much as I admire the social cohesion that defines a country and its people, it’s becoming increasingly clear that in America, anyone with a conservative Christian mind-set is no longer welcome to express their views. The only course of action left to take is a retreat in the form of opting out.

Read the rest here, before the Southern Poverty Law Center demands it be disappeared.

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Secession lagniappe

Grab-bag of pieces on the Civil War and reasons for Southern secession.

How the South skews America

Buchanan on civil disobedience in polarized times

Brief and nothing new here, but linking anyway:  The United States of Secession

Amidst all the recent pieces on American cultural fault lines (see last lagniappe as well), I’m linking to an interesting one from back in 2013.  Here’s the full version, the abbreviated one via WaPo, and the book. The gist of the project:

Colin Woodard, a reporter at the Portland Press Herald and author of several books, says North America can be broken neatly into 11 separate nation-states, where dominant cultures explain our voting behaviors and attitudes toward everything from social issues to the role of government.

Excerpt from Randy Barnett’s forthcoming book on the real meaning of the Declaration of Independence.

S.C. Senate votes 37-3 to take down the Confederate flag. The House followed suit, and down it went.  Makes me think of this.

Small Mississippi towns removing state flag

Trinity county in upstate CA will consider a State of Jefferson vote.


The Kurdish HDP took 13% of the vote in Turkey’s parliamentary elections in June, landing seats in the legislature for the first time ever.  Meanwhile in Syria, the Kurdish YPG and YPJ continue to consolidate territory in their battle against ISIS. Recent gains are highlighted below in red.  This control is helping form a contiguous strip of Kurdish-run territory along the northern border of Syria.

Recent territorial shifts in Syria and Iraq, via Foreign Policy

Recent territorial shifts in Syria and Iraq, via Foreign Policy

Both the election results and the Kurdish Syrian “statelet” have irked Turkish President Erdogan, who had this to say about the latter:

“I am saying this to the whole world: We will never allow the establishment of a state on our southern border in the north of Syria.  We will continue our fight in this regard no matter what it costs

A particularly helpful Foreign Affairs summary of the Kurdish momentum concludes:

In Turkey, the PKK-sympathetic HDP will be an increasingly powerful advocate for granting the Kurds some semblance of autonomy within the nation. As the cease-fire between the PKK and Ankara continues, it is becoming more and more possible that the Kurds can achieve their dream of autonomy through democratic means. Whether the PKK’s ambition to establish autonomous Kurdish regions on both sides of the Turkey-Syria border is ever realized, the progress it is making toward that goal has already altered the political maps of Turkey and the Middle East.

Countering some of the above enthusiasm is a good Q&A on how battling ISIS is actually delaying Iraqi Kurdistan’s progress.  Fair enough in the short term, but the opposite is quite possible down the road if Kurdish sacrifices are recognized with greater international support for statehood.  Make no mistake, the Kurds are doing the globe a huge solid, which has already been enough in the eyes of some influential Western lawmakers.

Important news on numerous fronts:  Turkey just bombed ISIS as well as PKK positions in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Where are all the moderate Syrian rebels?

The Vatican signed its first treaty with Palestine, which it will not show to an angry Israel.  Related: The Death and Life of the Two-State Solution.

Tibet’s Tough Road Ahead

More violence in East Turkestan.  Turkish protests form against Chinese treatment of Uighurs.

Pushing for statehood in Delhi

Sarawak independence celebrated, despite the Inspector General of police trying to squash it for fear of secessionist motives.  Local government downplays secession.

Quebec’s separatism as a lesson for the SNP, who is again causing ripples with talk of another referendum

Greece voted “no” a few Sundays ago, presumably to current austerity terms, by a healthy margin.  Interestingly the polls were way off beforehand.  For all the antics and high-stakes jockeying, it looks as though the Greek people may get a package very similar to what they already had, and thought they were rejecting.  Greek 10 year govt bond yields are back down in the 10-12% range.  Difficult to see how this whole episode doesn’t put Syriza down in history as one of the worst governments ever in modern Europe.

Catalan leaders on same page: will push for independence if parliament’s election goes their way.

The Brexit Ramp

Russia taking a second look at the legality of Baltic independence from the Soviet Union.  Yikes.

“Surging” Siberian nationalism

Ukranian Right Sector nationalists, Putin, and Transcarpathia

Activists for a Romania-Moldova unification

Serbian PM pelted with stones at commemoration of Srebrenica massacre

Republika Srpska will hold a referendum on the authority of Bosnia’s national court.  That is big news.  Surprise, surprise: the E.U. and the U.S. disapprove and Russia, well, doesn’t.

ISIS is recruiting in Bosnia.

Hargeisa: Inside Somaliland’s Would-Be Capital City

Burundi remains on the brink as a controversial vote for a third term for Nkurunziza is a go


Is nationalism on the rise more generally?

It turns out that “globalization” hasn’t doused, let alone put out, the embers of nationalism. It has inflamed them. Global and regional frameworks — from the EU to the UN to seemingly stable balance-of-power standoffs –– are under assault amid a renewed obsession with national identity.

Patri Friedman on NRx and anti-entryism

Defining exit

Fascinating piece on Cold War era Russian mapmaking

Soviet map of San Francisco circa 1980

Soviet map of San Francisco circa 1980

More city-states please

Sanctuary cities?

Against marriage privatization

Evaluating the charter school movement 25 years later

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Conservatives should embrace sanctuary cities, not demonize them

From my article in Taki’s Mag today:

Understandably, the concept of cities ignoring the rules has incensed law-and-order conservatives. But they should take a step back and think through the issue. From a limited-government standpoint, doesn’t more local autonomy make sense? Aren’t decisions made at the local level better than those at the state or federal level? By slamming sanctuary cities, conservatives are wasting a great opportunity. Wouldn’t the country be better off if San Francisco became its own communist republic and left the rest of us be? Let them have their sanctuary, and the accompanying lawlessness it engenders. It’s their problem to deal with, not America’s (or, by extension, my wallet’s).

Conservatives could even start championing their own sanctuary cities. El Rushbo has it right: If liberals are going to have cities where they flout the law, conservatives should have them too. Think of them like conclaves of what Rod Dreher calls the “Benedict Option.” If liberals can have communities that welcome illegal immigration, open drug use, and sodomy, why can’t conservatives have communities that uphold traditional marriage, ban destructive substance abuse, and maintain a faith-based culture? If ISIS can do it, so can we.

Read the rest here.

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An open letter to Silicon Valley

Dear Silicon Valley,

Get out.

No seriously. Leave the country, or stop furtively trying to tinker with it through the Democratic Party.

As a conservative, I’ve had it up to *here* with your quest to redefine humanity through technology and idealistic visions. Haven’t any of you watched Terminator? You’re creating Skynet, and don’t seem to have any qualms about it. The time has come for you to vacate America and leave us sensible people to our traditional ways.

Now, I realize my demands might sound mad, hysterical even. But this is no joke. Silicon Valley is poisoning the country. It’s time for you to break off and form your own techno free-for-all land of fake girlfriends and endless pornography. I implore you to expedite the process before you further corrupt America’s impressionable minds.


Secession lagniappe

A long overdue lagniappe = a long lagniappe.  Continued apologies for gated links, but they are good, so I include them!  Commence!  & Happy 4th!

The Greek referendum vote is on Sunday and it’s apparently legal.  A lot has happened in the last month.  Tsipras announced the plea to the Greek citizenry last weekend in a surprise move, building yet more tensions with the creditors.  The European Central Bank decided not to increase the amount of liquidity it was providing to Greek banks experiencing deposit flight.  Capital controls were imposed, by necessity, in the face of that decision.  The drama built from there, as Greece missed its payment due to the IMF, becoming the first “developed” country to default to the institution.  The creditors in general, and Germany in particular, refused to really consider last-minute proposals and pleas for extension from Syriza.

Now the referendum approaches, with the supposed interpretation being “yes” or “no” to more austerity-imposing terms and the more realistic, pragmatic interpretation being “yes” or “no” to the Euro and exit.  Both the prime minister and the finance minister have effectively said they would resign in the face of a “yes” vote, raising the stakes significantly.  Greece is much closer to exit than ever before while the costs of exit are also arguably lower than they’ve ever been, mainly because the banking system is back on its knees.

Here’s Anders Aslund’s take on Syriza’s job:

Link blast:  Pretty comprehensive, live-blog of the situation from The Guardian.  Here is a multi-page primer on the Greek situation for those starting from square one.  Lefty economist darlings are viewing exit favorably at this point: StiglitzKrugman.  246 Greek economists argue against leaving the Euro.  Also see Sachs and Rogoff‘s takes.   Beckworth on Grexit through a monetary policy lens.  And who could forget, Bitcoin tends to be helpful in times of capital controls.

The age factor in the referendum vote & betting markets continue to think the “yes” vote will prevail:


Leading on Politico: These Disunited States

An Atlantic long read on American culture

How Americans interpret the Confederate flag.

Why do some Europeans and foreigners fly the Confederate flag?

Would a State of Jefferson really increase freedoms?

“To secede from a town is a long process.” – Caribou, ME keeps churning ahead.

The standard urban-rural legislative tension, as applied to Oregon

Here’s a strange title for you:  Putin’s Plot to Get Texas to Secede

Texas Set to ‘Repatriate” Its Gold to New Texas Fort Knox

Flashback: Staten Island to secede from NYC? (1989)

New Orleans neighborhood trying to go its own way

Is the U.S. partially at fault for Puerto Rican default?  Should it be absorbed into the Union?


Scotland, nationalism, and religion

The SNP dominated U.K. parliamentary elections back in May

SNP clamoring for full Scottish fiscal autonomy

Catalonia’s pro-independence coalition is splintering.  Latest poll shows anti-independence vote ahead 50-42.

Southern Italy is lagging way behind the north.

Russian village prints its own currency.

Moscow not a fan of Ukrainian decentralization

300,000 Dominican Haitians may be forced into statelessness

Hong Kong officials veto China’s electoral reform package

Faces of the Somali Remittance Crisis

Kurdistan is trying to sell its own bonds

Secession top priority in Iraqi Kurdistan post-ISIS

Welcome to Basrastan:  Iraq frays further.


Are there a few key prerequisites for minority groups achieving statehood?  The Economist weighs in with an interesting piece:

The most important factor, says Eugene Rogan, a historian at the University of Oxford, is “critical mass”—whereby, despite being a minority in a larger polity, a group forms a majority in a particular, separable bit of it. That is the case for the Kurds in northern Iraq; it is nowhere true of the Assyrians, whose greatest concentration, in north-east Syria, has been dispersed by the civil war. Nor is it true, for example, of the Crimean Tatars, resident for centuries in the Crimean peninsula until their entire population was banished in one of Stalin’s monstrous relocations (see article).

It is useful if the minority have a long-standing, fairly legitimate claim to the territory they inhabit. Physical geography can play a role: some Iraqi Kurds speculate that their mountainous domain helped them both to resist invaders and to safeguard their culture. How such places were first subsumed by a bigger power matters, too.

& the conclusion:

Critical mass; plausible borders; sympathy abroad; a story; a diaspora; fragile overlords: where might these conditions next be met? Russia, itself an internal empire, could yet disintegrate. So, under the strain of democratisation, might China, perhaps opening a path to statehood for Tibet and the Uighurs, persecuted Muslims. Another realignment of the Middle East seems inevitable. If Syria falls apart, speculates Mr Ishak, the Assyrian, some of his scattered brethren might come back. In the very long term, there is always hope.

Chris Roth reports on more potential micronations.  Here is a general interview he did as well.

Another micronations round-up.

A summary of the Voice & Exit conference

The Tyranny of Majoritarianism

Google launches Sidewalk Labs, an incubator for urban technologies

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