August 23, 2019

15-year cover song echoes: "A Whiter Shade of Pale"

Both the original by Procol Harum and cover by Annie Lennox are from a manic phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle (1967 and 1995). Both are slow songs, showing that "manic" does not mean constantly bouncing around in a frenzy, but sometimes feeling carefree and almost invincible -- as opposed to the refractory period feeling of the vulnerable phase, or the return to normal energy levels during the warm-up phase.

This pair also fits into a pattern that I've discussed before, one with very few examples. That is, a mellower cover of an intense original -- but using more synthetic instrumentation than the original, rather than more acoustic. The usual move is to switch from electronic to acoustic in order to reinforce the mellower interpretation (e.g., the "Unplugged" era of the 1990s).

Here, the original is not fully acoustic, but it does have a piano, and sounds more naturalistic at any rate compared to the distinctly more synth-y and danceable cover version. You'd think the synthetic timbre and danceability would be reinforcing a higher-energy interpretation of the original, but it's much more mellow -- a pleasing surprise.

August 21, 2019

Political junkies are all busty women and boob men

I've had a hunch about this for awhile, but three posts today drove the point home (here, here, and here). Political junkies are either busty women or the boob men who are drawn to them, rather than what you'd see in the population at large -- some boob men and some ass men, some buxom women and some bootylicious women.

Those three are from the anti-woke part of the Left, but you see the same boob orientation on the Right, where they're fixated on AOC and Ben Shapiro's sister (e.g., here, and the MAGA grifter women who show off their front rather than backside).

The only ones from Twitter who I recall carrying some meat in the seat are "haramgirlfriend" and "as_a_woman". But they're both busty, too, so it's not such an exception to the rule. And most of their reply guys focus on their boobs, not their asses. I don't read many accounts, so there could be others, but the basic point remains. I can't think of one who is a member of the IBTC, while having curvaceous hips-ass-and-thighs, which is a common body type.

You see this with political figures as well: the majority of junkies obsess over AOC's chest, while Tulsi's apple bottom goes sadly unnoticed.

The only place I've seen ass appreciation is in the subreddit for Cumtown, but then they're the least strictly political. Some of the Chapo Trap House hosts use "PAWG," though only ironically, as far as I can tell. (If they really are ass men, they're using an ironic tone to cover that up, being surrounded by boob men in their social / online circles.)

In what way is the political junkie world unusual, so that it's far more boob-oriented than the ordinary world? Not something that distinguishes Left from Right, since this holds across the ideological spectrum.

The main difference to me seems to be cerebral vs. corporeal, with cerebrals being boob people and corporeals being ass people. Wanting to engage in online discourse all day long could not be any less kinesthetic of an activity, compared to wanting to work with tools / crafts, play sports, or go out dancing.

The link is how animalistic their inclinations are -- using tools, physically playing around, and dancing are found throughout the animal kingdom, where the default sexual position is from behind, hence the focus on the hips-ass-and-thighs. Symbolic language, abstract concepts, logical arguments, rhetorical tricks, irony, meta-ness, etc., are uniquely human, as are the face-to-face sexual positions, and the focus on the front-facing body parts.

August 19, 2019

Elizabeth Warren is 2016 Ted Cruz, a cosplay insurgent attacking the populist realigner, a polarizing culture warrior with no broad appeal

As Warren continues to rise in the Democrat primary polls, while Bernie stagnates or declines, it's worth emphasizing what her role is. Quite simply, she is the Democrat version of Ted Cruz from the 2016 GOP primaries -- a total insider and supporter of the status quo, but who has branded themselves as a rebel who will take on the system. Their purpose is to eclipse the actual realigner candidate, who is running on a populist platform with broad appeal, as opposed to the polarizing culture war platform of the pseudo-rebel.

The What's Left? podcast has been covering this relationship of Warren to Bernie for months. Warren's faux populism is detailed in this excerpt by Aimee Terese:

I pointed out the need for the Sandernistas to keep Warren out of the primary, back in January 2018, after the complete failure of the Trump realignment meant that Independent populists had to look to the other populist realigner to pursue their goals -- El Bernarino. Warren would only confuse matters and split much of the vote away from him:

Zogby polling for potential candidates shows Bernie with a solid 10-15 point advantage over Warren, as of late 2017. So the first move is to persuade Warren not to run, and better yet to endorse Bernie early on to solidify his status as the only populist candidate...

So please, let's encourage as many Oprah Winfreys, Mark Cubans, and Mark Zuckerbergs to run as possible [to split up the Establishment vote]. And lean on Warren to not run herself, if she were considering it, rather than split up the populist / progressive team.

Obviously that effort failed, if Bernie's people took it to begin with. Now we're seeing a repeat of the 2016 GOP primary, where the conservative media were either in the tank for Cruz, or at most said they "liked both" Cruz and Trump, to not alienate their audience. Now the lefty media, both MSNBC and Jacobin alike, are either 100% committed to Warren and glibly dismissing Bernie, or are at most saying "we like both," so that they hold together as much of their customer base as possible.

The only problem is that the Democrat voters are much bigger pussies than the Republicans were in 2016, and are pissing their diapers at the thought of taking down the rigged system and putting something better in its place. Liberals would rather troll the conservatives, even if it means losing again. As the opposition of this historical era (going back to 1980), they are used to being the losers -- so why not at least make the enemy miserable, to not feel so pathetic in certain defeat?

Well, the libtards may be content with Warren -- eager, in fact -- but what will non-partisans think about her? Especially ones who were pedal-to-the-metal populists last time? Why don't we just ask one -- me from 2016.

As early as April 2016, I wanted a Trump / Sanders unity ticket, mainly for ideological coherence (realigning the system out of neoliberalism, into something populist, and dropping the culture war as a political issue). But also for strategic value -- Bernie could've helped Trump rack up bigger wins in the Northeast, Great Lakes, and Pacific Northwest, while Trump would shore up Bernie's abysmal performance in the Deep South and Florida. I said that would defeat an Establishment unity ticket of Clinton / Cruz, even allowing Texas to go for the status quo choice.

Before Trump, the last person I voted for was Ralph Nader in 2000, the first time I could vote. If I'd have been old enough and thinking politically, I would've voted for Perot in '92 (my mother's side of the family was really into him).

A hardcore Trump supporter (at least back in 2016), who wanted Sanders as the running mate, and whose only prior vote was for Nader -- if that person doesn't resonate with Warren, none of the other Independent populists will.

And resonate she did not -- I vaguely approved of her before, but came to bitterly despise her during the 2016 season, when she went all-in for Crooked Hillary over Bernie. She turned into Hillary Clinton's even more annoying Mini-Me.

Right after Warren endorsed Clinton (various comments to this post):

That's basically what sellout pseudo-prog Pocahontas Warren said in her endorsement of Crooked Hillary -- other people's lives are on the line, so the Bernie voters can't in good conscience vote 3rd party, write in Bernie, or stay home. If they don't fall in line behind the Wall Street warhawk, they've got innocent people's blood on their hands. Very subtle, very persuasive...

It's waking up a lot of well-meaning progs to the fact that supposed icons like Pocahontas Warren never were progressive, but were only putting on an act -- kind of like Ted Cruz pretending to be an outsider fighting for the little guy, when his roots are in the Dubya administration and Goldman Sachs...

Warren et al. are not progressives -- they don't give a damn about providing a more generous or secure social safety net, let alone bringing back good-paying jobs for those who are chronically relying on welfare. Instead, they only want to grandstand about their superior moral values, rather than do anything about the problem.

Later in July:

One of the party-wide changes this season has been the unmasking of supposed fellow travelers in the media, who now stand as bald-faced shills for the Establishment, against their populist-craving audience. For the Democrats, it began with Elizabeth Warren and then Rachel Maddow, right as Hillary clinched the nomination.

And while live-blogging their Convention (comments from here):

Michelle, Warren, Booker... Christ, this coalition.

Sassy mammies, naggin' grannies, and prolapsed fannies

Last time around, the Bernie delegates booed the hell out of Bernie himself when he endorsed the neoliberal Establishment candidate and told them all to vote for her to stop Trump. This time around, will they bother boo-ing? So many have become crippled by Trump Derangement Syndrome, they may actually cheer Bernie on as he says to forget all about populism, and vote for the Joe Biden / Bill Kristol ticket, because the specter of white nationalism is simply too menacing to focus on mundane economic issues for the foreseeable future.

Since Bernie will not get the nomination, the worst he could do is to allow himself and his supporters to be folded back into the neoliberal status quo, on the most risible grounds imaginable ("it's always going to be Germany in the 1930s"). He might as well go down fighting and martyr himself for the populist cause (figuratively speaking, to any feds listening in). He'll live on as a legend and inspiration, rather than fade out into obscurity.

He should not follow Trump in cucking to the Establishment -- look at how bitterly hated Trump has made himself even among his own voters, for refusing to fight for his platform upon taking office, and becoming just another generic Republican piece of shit. Not to mention what the other side will think of you no matter what -- at least make them respect you as a fighter.

That goes for Bernie's supporters as well -- if the neolib Establishment is intent on wiping out your faction, you have to be willing to take them down with you. Otherwise your loss is their gain -- your loss must be their loss too.

August 17, 2019

Taylor Swift lezzes out to late '80s singer-songwriters with "The Archer" and "Lover"

Earlier posts here and here have looked at the regular appearance of the dream pop genre during the vulnerable, refractory phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle, among both indie and mainstream artists.

"Delicate" by Taylor Swift comes pretty close to fitting into this pattern, but doesn't have enough of an instrumental drone, or vocal echoes / self harmony, to fully qualify. However, a new non-single song "The Archer" does (from her upcoming album). This is the final year of the current vulnerable phase (late 2010s), so it's just sneaking in before closing time at the emo bar.

Her new single, "Lover", is another good fit to the current mellow and vulnerable atmosphere. Between the two of them, I pick up vibes from a previous vulnerable phase -- the late '80s. Especially the singer-songwriters who were actual lesbians, or were popular among them: "Sweet Jane" by Cowboy Junkies (itself a phase-matching cover of a Velvet Underground song from the early '70s vulnerable phase), "Baby Can I Hold You" by Tracy Chapman, and even a little hint of "Rockin' Back Inside Your Heart" by Julee Cruise (or similar Angelo Badalamenti tune for David Lynch).

Taylor Swift is a closeted lesbian herself (her last girlfriend being Karlie Kloss), so it's natural for her to channel those vibes. It is unusual, though, for such a babyfaced lipstick lesbian to do so. She could use them to pivot toward a more mature audience during the upcoming restless, warm-up phase, which will echo the early '90s. That's when people are worn out of being worn out, and are intent on overcoming whatever vulnerable state they had just been in.

I could easily see her covering -- or at least channeling -- songs by lesbian / androgynous artists from the early '90s, like "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover" by Sophie B. Hawkins or "Why" by Annie Lennox. These are not about letting yourself drown in vulnerability, but about rebuilding yourself or finding new confidence after being so beaten down during the vulnerable phase. It remains to be seen, though, if Millennials can pull off a mature persona.

These singer-songwriter tunes from Taylor Swift remind me of a photo shoot she did for Wonderland at the very end of the last manic phase, as it was about to shift into the current vulnerable phase (late 2014). These were included in an earlier post covering the revival of intimate portraits during the vulnerable phase. No matter how many times I see them, I still can't believe that's her. She's so smolderingly dark and hot, whereas she normally comes off as a libido-less lipstick lezzie. Maybe it's that these songs are about taking the risk of exposing herself, rather than hide behind her closeted persona. Whatever it is, they go very well together.

"The Archer"


August 14, 2019

Dem running mates are more right-wing than nominee, so Biden's will be a Never Trump Republican

With the fragmenting of Bernie's coalition from 2015-'16 -- some going for Warren, some for Biden, some for the nobodies -- it's guaranteed he won't be the nominee this time around either.

For a year or so, I've been hammering the theme of this election cycle being a repeat of the frustrated realignment of 1856, at the end of the Jacksonian era, when the opposition (Whigs) split into a realigning party (the GOP, for abolition of slavery) and a status quo party (American, Constitutional Union, etc., against abolition).

Typically, an ineffectual end-of-an-era president like Trump (or Carter, or Hoover) gets replaced by a realigner from the opposition party, which then becomes the new dominant party and establishes a whole new historical era. Carter was replaced by Reagan, who ended the New Deal and inaugurated neoliberalism. Hoover was replaced by FDR, who ended the Progressive Era and inaugurated the New Deal.

So after Trump's one term, that's it, right? Not so fast -- with polarization as strong as it was just before the Civil War, we're getting a fragmentation at every level of political organization. The two major parties are polarized, factions are polarized within a single party, camps are polarized within a single faction, all the way down until only micro-cliques are left that show basic solidarity within themselves.

With no organized, cohesive opposition to the status quo -- indeed, with a major faction of the opposition running on a solidly status quo platform -- there will be no dethroning of the dominant party and its era this time around. Maybe after the next recession / depression, that will force the opposition to get its act together and come up with something radically different.

I think most Bernie supporters have accepted the high probability that he won't get the nomination, and that one of the status quo candidates will -- literally anyone other than Bernie, including Warren. She was such a defiant neoliberal Reaganite that she only switched to the opposition in 1996, after Clinton had a proven track record for destroying the New Deal.

What will be hard for them to imagine -- but which they must steel themselves for in advance, so that they don't get wiped out later -- is that Biden's running mate will not be a populist, socialist, left-winger, progressive, or whatever, as an appeasement to the Bernie supporters to keep them on board for the general election.

On the contrary, he will be further to the Republican side than Biden himself -- and given how staunchly neoliberal and militaristic Biden's record has been, that leaves little room for anyone other than a Never Trump Republican.

This issue always comes up during Democrat primaries, and the dumb left-wingers never, ever learn. So let's review the history.

2016: Hillary's running-mate was Kaine, further to her right. NOT Bernie, or anyone close.

2008, '12: Obama's running-mate was Biden, further to his right. NOT Kucinich etc.

2004: Kerry's running-mate was Edwards, further to his right. NOT Dean or similar.

2000: Gore's running-mate was Lieberman, the furthest right of any Democrat. NOT Bradley, Nader, or anyone like that. Zombie Biden may well dig up zombie Lieberman's corpse as his running mate.

1992, '96: Clinton's running-mate was Gore, further to his right. NOT Jerry Brown or another liberal. In the early '90s, Gore was not an environmental activist -- he was most distinctive for being one of a few Democrat traitors who voted for Bush's Gulf War. And his wife, the would-be Second Lady, was the head of the Parents Music Resource Center -- the busybodies who forced the "Parental Advisory" stickers on album covers. She was to the right of Hillary.

1988: Dukakis' running-mate was Bentsen, further to his right. NOT Jesse Jackson.

1984: Mondale's running-mate was Ferraro, further to his right. NOT Jesse Jackson. Mondale was a Minnesota New Deal liberal, Ferraro was a moderate-to-conservative who had made her brand NOT being a bleeding-heart liberal.

You have to go all the way back to 1976 to find a running-mate to the left of the nominee -- Minnesota liberal Mondale as the running-mate for conservative Southerner Carter. They were chosen again in '80, as incumbents.

Of course, 1976 was still the New Deal era, when the Democrats were the dominant party. Ever since Reagan won in 1980 and realigned the system into neoliberalism, the opposition Democrats have used their running-mate to try to placate the voters of the dominant party who are closest to them -- potential swing voters -- and not those who are within their own party, but further away from the dominant party (anyone to the left of Dukakis, Clinton, et al.).

Republicans in the Reagan era can afford to choose more extreme figures for their running mates -- Palin, Cheney, Pence (more conservative than Trump), etc. They're in the dominant party, so they'll win just by inertia. Putting up a ghoul like Cheney isn't going to rub off on Bush, who most will see as Reagan's inheritor, and most voters wanted more of Reaganism in the 2000s.

Since we're still stuck in the neoliberal era, the Democrats will not select a running-mate for Biden who is to his left, but one to his right, who might coax some Republican swing voters over to the Democrats' side. Because the Democrats are rejecting populism, and insisting on elitist austerity, they will not try to coax over the legions of Trump voters who might give Bernie a chance for his populist and anti-militarist stances (two of Trump's signature issues from 2016).

Nope: they're going to try to lure a handful of socially liberal or moderate yuppie suburban Republicans who chafe at Trump's tone, "the tweeting," up-ending of norms, making Republicans look racist and xenophobic and bla bla bla. If you don't want Trump's stink on you, make the change to Biden and -- who, exactly, will entice them? Joe and Joe! Biden / Lieberman 2020. If not that, then some Never Trump Republican.

That brings us back to 1856 -- the presidential nominee for the status quo faction of the opposition was the most recent president for the opposition, Millard Fillmore. His closest counterpart today is Obama, but he's term-limited, so his second-in-command will have to do -- Biden it will be.

Fillmore's running mate was not someone further away from the dominant party (the Jacksonian Democrats, controlled by Southern plantation slaveholders), such as someone from the abolitionist faction of the opposition. Hell no, they wanted a bipartisan unity ticket, and chose a former operative from their enemy's party, Andrew Donelson. He was mainly involved in the Jacksonian Democrats' media organizations.

If the parallel holds this time, that would mean someone who was an operative for the Reaganite GOP, mainly in the media sphere, and who would defect from that party -- but not to realign the system, only to ensure the status quo. Some anti-populist, anti-Trump Republican from the neocon media -- Bill Kristol? Max Boot? They're common enough figures on liberal media, Democrat voters might actually recognize their names.

At any rate, whether it's Biden / Lieberman or Biden / Kristol, the Sandernistas had better be prepared to burn down whatever remains of the Democrat party after this election cycle, just as the abolitionists killed off the Whig party and founded a new one, the GOP, to pursue realignment. They must also be prepared to welcome aboard those legions of populist, anti-militarist Trump voters -- otherwise they've got less than nothing, no takeover of their own major party, and no defections from the other party.

None of that will happen by the 2020 election, so like the end of the Jacksonian era, the end of the Reaganite era will last for two unbearable back-to-back terms, not just the usual one. (Trump is not going to be the nominee, as documented here before. It doesn't matter who it is instead -- everyone in the GOP is a Reaganite, after the failed populist insurgency of Trump's 2016 campaign.)

Bernie supporters should carry out the rest of this cycle's work with an eye beyond it, toward the 2024 realignment, when they will be better able to kill off the Democrat neoliberal establishment, and convert legions of populist Trump voters.

They can start by telling their fellow libs to STFU about crying racism, white supremacy, fascism, Nazism, etc., whenever someone puts the American masses' welfare over integrating the entire globe into an American-run empire-and-labor-market. Nothing could be more contrary to populism, and alienating of potential defectors.

August 11, 2019

Epstein in the bigger picture

The elites have killed off Jeffrey Epstein to protect their own reputations -- formally and in the precise details -- informally and big-picture, people already know what's going on.

I'm not interested in the Epstein case for its own sake, but rather how it relates to other topics I've covered over the past several years. So in lieu of a comprehensive and definitive post, below is a loosely structured series of remarks on the case as it relates to broader topics.


Mostly it's the Right who are following the case, since it straightforwardly advances their party's interests against its rivals. Almost all of the criminality and shadiness in the Epstein orbit was from the Left / liberals / Democrats. The only exception on the Left are the diehard Bernie realignment supporters, since they too want to see the Democrat establishment blown apart.

But this partisanship means nothing will be done about it. Something this big needs broad bipartisan support, and right now it's a large chunk of socially conservative Republicans and a small minority of Bernie Democrats. Even combined, that's too small to achieve anything.

Social conservatives can't even get their own party's politicians to uphold basic sexual morality, forget anything bigger -- the Reaganite Supreme Court defended internet pornography, struck down sodomy laws, and sanctified gay marriage, while the New Deal era was famous for moral censorship of movies, TV, music, and comic books, vice squads breaking up gatherings at gay bars (Stonewall), and so on and so forth.

And Bernie Democrats have yet to reverse the sanctification of deviance among their fellow Democrats. So far, they are deferring to the "do anything" sexual morality, and minimizing their concerns about the exploitation of the weak by the powerful. Once you go with laissez-faire sexual morality, you're committed to libertarian outcomes like obscenely wealthy elites buying underage girls from poor countries to sexually traffic them among fellow elite members in the first world. Hey, "no one held a gun to their heads"...

In order for there to be bipartisan action about a large-scale public sex scandal involving underage victims, the perpetrators would have to be enemies of both sides, perhaps in different ways. The last such event was the revelations during the early 2000s about the Catholic church's abuse of underage boys, mostly from the '70s and '80s. The Left hated organized religion, and the Right hated the particular church -- Catholic rather than Protestant, and representing Ellis Islanders rather than founding stock. That combined pressure caused the organization to conduct a massive internal review, which was made public, and the awareness of that scandal persists to this day on both sides of the spectrum.

So far, the organizations of the Right that are just as responsible for covering up widespread sexual abuse of minors, have emerged unscandalized and unscathed, because there was no buy-in from the Right on the attack.

The most notorious is the Boy Scouts, whose abuse was part of the broader trend during the '70s and '80s. During the early 2010s, the LA Times spent enormous amounts of media capital exposing the full extent of this abuse, making troves of original documents freely available online. But there was almost zero mainstream conservative / Right / GOP interest in this story, because they like the Boy Scouts in general. They may not like homosexuals serving as scoutmasters, but that's not inherent to the institution, which they fundamentally like and trust, leading the Right to circle the wagons around their own organized cover-up of homosexual underage abuse.

And it's a joke to imagine that none of the Protestant churches had a similar record to the Catholic church during the '70s and '80s. But again, the Right fundamentally likes and trusts these institutions, so they'll see any abuse of underage boys, and organized cover-up thereof, as a regrettable anomaly and not something inherent to it. That would leave only the Left that hates all organized religion as the ones who'd be interested in abuse among Evangelicals or Mainliners.

Sectors within elite society

The elite is not a uniform class on a material level, so it is not uniform on a cultural level either. Some sectors of the elite gain their wealth from overseeing activity that is labor-intensive, and other sectors from activity that is informational and not labor-intensive. The labor-intensive sectors are moral conservatives, the informational sectors are moral liberals.

This difference in the forms of economic activity within the elites, and the correlated difference in moral worldviews, gives rise to the informational sectors being more prone to sex abuse scandals like the Epstein case, the Weinstein case, etc. And why so many in academia -- but not so many in military contracting -- are implicated in Epstein's crimes.

That's the best way to explain the Jewish angle in all these cases -- they cluster in the informational sectors (high verbal rather than visual IQ, cerebral rather than corporeal), and will be over-represented in the evil done by such sectors. But so will the gentiles who are involved in those sectors, or their political vehicles like the Democrat and Labour parties -- Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, and so on.

The material sectors are not dominated by Jews, so any evil done there will reflect poorly on the Celtic and Germanic groups who dominate them. Rapes by the military stationed in Okinawa -- not Jews. Groping the immigrant peasant women who work on industrial-sized farms in Kansas -- not Jews. Texans trading underage boys with fellow oil barons from the Gulf -- not Jews.

The only solid Republican who is squarely involved in Epstein's crimes is Les Wexner, magnate of the Victoria's Secret (etc.) empire. Wexner's business is industrial-scale manufacturing, which means he supports Republicans, primarily so they can sign de-industrializing trade bills that allow his company to off-shore production to cheap labor colonies in the third world. Labor-intensive businesses have a vested interest in lowering the cost of labor. And yet, here he is mixed up with informational-sector elites. Why?

Because the Victoria's Secret fashion show, the Angels models, etc., made an interface between the media / entertainment sector (informational) and the manufacturing sector. Blind Gossip's insider source says that the VS models were among those who sexually served Epstein's clients, although it's unclear whether those models were underage or the more famous older ones.

This also explains why Trump ever got mixed up with Epstein. Contrary to widespread belief, Trump is not one of the rare Republicans who is linked to Epstein, and his link does not support a "both sides" argument. Trump only registered as a Republican in the early 2010s (after a stint as GOP during the '80s), preparing for his 2016 campaign. During the period of Epstein's underage sex trafficking ring, Trump was either Reform party, Independent, or Democrat (he publicly called for Speaker Pelosi to impeach President Bush, on CNN in the late 2000s, over the Iraq War).

And during the 2000s, Trump was not involved in the material sectors -- he was only a real estate developer back in the '80s, and gave it up after the early '90s recession wiped him out. He then pivoted to media / entertainment, and became the star of The Apprentice, and made big bucks by licensing out that media brand to actual real estate developers (and water bottlers, steak producers, etc.). During the Epstein years, Trump was a non-Republican from the media industry, who got Bill and Hillary -- not George W. and Laura -- to attend his wedding. He fit right in with the others in that world.

Still, I doubt that Trump did anything with the underage girls. His sexual deviances have been well known for a long time, and no one ever said he wanted to pay for or otherwise coerce young / underage girls into sex. He definitely gets off on pursuing socially taboo sexual targets -- his friends' wives, pornstars / Playboy bunnies, and most notoriously, his incestuous desires toward Ivanka. That's the only underage girl he's ever given a bad touch to, though desiring her because she was his daughter, not because she was underage.

Elite initiation ritual, or supplying demand?

On the general topic of elites having sex with underage boys and girls, in an organized and institutionalized fashion, there are two main explanations. The first is that the elites do not really want to have sex with underage people, but submit to doing so in order to assure their fellow elites that there now exists sufficient blackmail material that they can be trusted within the elite circle. It's an initiation ritual to cement trust within the in-group. The second is that the elites are guided by overweening ambition, given to an unusual degree of sin and perversion, and use their high degree of wealth, power, and influence to get what they want, even if it's not legal.

I favor the second, since initiation rituals are rare in frequency (usually one-time only), intense, and painful for the initiate. Getting jumped into a gang, getting hazed into a college fraternity, jacking off while sealed in a coffin to get into Skull & Bones (or whatever it is they do), and so on and so forth. In primitive societies, initiation rites may involve getting kidnapped without warning, beaten down, having to sexually service the older high-status males, and the like.

With the Epstein case and related cases, the events are periodic and ongoing, not rare or one-time only. They appear to be garden-variety sexual encounters, aside from the underage of the boy / girl -- not some incredibly intense sensation like getting the shit beaten out of you. High-intensity would be all-day orgies or some Rome-in-decline level decadence. And it doesn't seem painful for the "initiate" -- they seem to be eager participants who are getting pleasure out of it.

And it's not clear what organization or institution they're being initiated into -- "the elites" doesn't work, since they're elite by their wealth, power, or influence. Initiation is always into a particular gang, a particular fraternity, a particular secret society, a particular boarding school, a particular church, a particular monastic order. Commonalities can be found across all of these institutions, but they also come with their particulars to distinguish membership in their group as opposed to a rival group.

What is the organization that the Epstein activities are initiating the clients into, as opposed to some other elite organization with similar yet distinctive rituals? There's no answer.

So then we go with the "supplying demand" explanation. It could not be more obvious how sinful our elites are, and how willing they are to use their wealth, power, and influence to get what they want, legal or not.

This also explains why we didn't see such things during the New Deal era. We had elites back then, but they did not pursue hyper-competitiveness and laissez-faire -- they had bad memories of the near explosion of all societies by hyper-ambitious elites circa 1920. JFK had an affair with Marilyn Monroe, but did not retain the services of a sex trafficker of underage girls. Elites reined in their sins and ambitions more. Someone should look into the elites of the Gilded Age and the Fin de Siecle, who were more degenerate.

And yet there were still elite initiation rituals during the New Deal era, for fraternities, secret societies, churches, monastic orders, and so on and so forth. As usual, they were rare, intense, and painful.

Any theory of what's behind the Epstein-type sex rings needs to also explain why there was no such thing during the New Deal, and only the "supplying demand" explanation works there.

This also explains why Epstein-style revelations are doing so much to destroy the public's trust in the elites. If it were only a bizarre initiation ritual, we'd just write it off as the goofy stuff that weird elites get up to, to make themselves feel special. We would look down on their behavior, but not on the institutions they represent or control.

The public can tell that it's not just some initiation ritual -- can't you just beat the shit out of each other, or starve each other, or make each other clean up filth? That's how the institutions do it that the public still trusts -- the military, frats, churches, etc. Having sex with underage boys and girls? Uh, why do you need to do that in order to join the organization? Sounds more like you actually want to participate in that, knowing it's illegal.

So the public concludes that this Epstein stuff is just the elites abusing their wealth and power to satisfy their own individual sins, even if they're illegal, rather than pursue the collective welfare. That destroys our trust in them, in a way that their undergoing an initiation ritual does not.

Other topics in the comments

Those are the three big topics I've discussed over the years, and that relate to the Epstein case. But if I think of anything else, I'll write it up in the comments section.

August 10, 2019

Cover songs have disappeared, while movies & TV are all remakes

I've started looking more systematically into whether cover songs choose original versions that were from a matching phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle. Probably won't have the full results and discussion for a few days.

But I did notice something striking so far -- there hasn't been a single cover song to make the year-end charts since 2006 ("Life Is a Highway"). That ends a tradition of cover songs being popular.

Even more bizarrely, this is the same period during which all hit TV shows and movies have become remakes, reboots, and other derivative forms.

What's the difference?

Songs are lyrical and more personally tied to their creators, whereas narratives are more impersonal and only loosely tied to their creators (except where the narrative is considered the distinctive work of an auteur).

Songs are also more tightly defined formally -- by their melody and lyrics, whose alterations turn it into a different song. Narratives are more loosely defined, with an overarching plot, themes, and character types, which can be altered somewhat without turning it into an entirely different story.

So, covering a song commits you more to the efforts of someone else, and is less of a showcase of your individuality. Remaking a movie requires less faithful of a commitment, and allows more individuality to show.

Whether the void of original ideas during the 21st century, and the rise of individuality since roughly 1980, is due to the production or consumption side does not matter here. The point is that, although the culture overall seems bereft of new ideas among producers, and/or uninterested in them at the mass audience level, the two types of media are reacting in opposite ways to the same trends.

In both of them, the makers want to showcase their individual awesomeness, despite a lack of originality. Movie makers can dress up someone else's child in their own individual styling and pass it off as their own creation, while songwriters cannot because everyone has such a narrowly defined expectation of what that other person's child is supposed to be like.

August 8, 2019

15-year cover song echoes: "Denise" and "Denis"

I haven't done a systematic look into whether cover songs fall within the same phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle as the original version, as I just did with nostalgia songs that pine for a particular cultural moment. (I have discussed examples every now and then, just not systematically.)

My sense is that they do, although the effect might not be as strong as it is for nostalgia songs. With nostalgia for a narrowly contained historical-cultural moment, you can't help but be in the same mood. But with cover songs, they're more open to interpretation, allowing an artist to take a bouncy, upbeat, carefree song from a manic phase and give it a more mellow, vulnerable, emo rendition during a refractory phase. I think it's still more natural to cover a song from the same phase that you're currently in, but there is more room for artistic license.

At any rate, until I have time for a more systematic investigation, I'll put up mini posts like this one to showcase examples.

Both of these songs were produced by the restless warm-up phase of the cycle, when people are stirring awake from their emo slumber of the refractory phase. They want to get their bodies moving -- giving rise to simplified, easy-to-dance-to music -- as well as exercise their social muscles, which have atrophied during their withdrawn phase -- marking a turn in tone toward the flirtatious.

Stylistically, this phase tends to be more stripped-down and back-to-basics, since it's the start of a new cycle. A cycle could hypothetically end after any stretch of three consecutive phases, but the prolonged emotional crash and drain, as happens during the vulnerable phase, is the most salient marking of the end of a series of cultural moments. When the energy level re-sets to the baseline, it's possible to start something new again.

The original is from the extraverted and cheerful form of doo-wop from the early '60s warm-up phase, which contrasted against the moody form of doo-wop from the emo late '50s. The cover is from the disco-punk late '70s warm-up phase, which felt nostalgia for pop music of the early '60s -- before the moody prog rock of the early '70s emo phase.

The original was a hit in the US, while the cover was only big in Britain and Europe, where the punk genre actually found chart success.

"Denise" by Randy & the Rainbows (1963):

"Denis" by Blondie (1978):

August 6, 2019

Gen Z is not yet a culturally self-aware generation

It's striking how long it's been since there were pop culture narratives that announced a new social-cultural generation.

Millennials started with the indie hit Thirteen in 2003, and really thrust themselves into the mainstream with Mean Girls in 2004. Those two set the tone for the rest of the 2000s (Juno, Superbad, etc.), and their influence runs right up through the latest major generation-defining movie, Lady Bird from 2017. That movie is Millennial to the core, starring later Millennials who are portraying earlier Millennials. It is set in 2002, perhaps imagining itself to be a "Millennial movie before it was popular," i.e. before Thirteen or Mean Girls.

That span of time has also seen a proliferation of reality TV portraying Millennials, mainly on MTV. For shows following a social circle over time, it began with Laguna Beach in 2004, which was spun off into The Hills in 2006, and culminated in two series -- Jersey Shore, and 16 and Pregnant, each beginning in 2009.

Rather than a new series of reality shows following a new generation, those original ones are still on the air, only now showing the Millennials not as teenagers but as adults 25 and older. Jersey Shore: Family Vacation portrays 30-somethings rather than early 20-somethings, as does The Hills: New Beginnings. Teen Mom OG has changed the format from showing current teenagers who are mothers, to those who are late 20-somethings but who were teenage mothers a decade ago.

You might offer the younger characters in Stranger Things from 2016 to now (but the other half of the young cast are Millennials in their 20s), or those in the indie movie Eighth Grade from 2018. Maybe in five years we'll look back and see them as the first in a series of Gen-Z narratives. Still, where's the first mainstream movie like Mean Girls or The Breakfast Club?

Until we see something like that, it's premature to refer to Gen Z as a social-cultural generation. They must have a collective self-awareness of their culture being a distinct break with the last generation before them. And so far, just about all narrative "youth" culture is still focusing on the Millennial audience, many of whom are now over 30.

Gen Z may (or may not) be aware of themselves as a distinct group in the technological, economic, or political domains of life, but certainly not as a distinct social-cultural group.

It seems like the first generation-defining movie comes out around the time when a generation's earliest members are 20 years old -- The Graduate (1967) for Boomers (late '40s births), The Breakfast Club (1985) for Gen X (late '60s births), and Mean Girls (2004) for Millennials (mid-'80s births).

This suggests that, given the absence of such a movie by 2019, Gen Z does not include late '90s births, who are more like late Millennials. Then Gen Z begins at least in the early 2000s -- possibly later -- and we won't know until the first defining mainstream movie comes out. Eighth Grade may be the indie prelude, though, so the major hit may arrive sooner than later, which still puts Gen Z as those born sometime during the 2000s.

August 4, 2019

Nostalgia songs reminisce about matching phase of 15-year cultural excitement cycle

Last year there were two competing songs expressing nostalgia for a clearly defined zeitgeist of the recent past -- "1999" by Charli XCX and "2002" by Anne-Marie. Both were the products of the current vulnerable, refractory phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle (2015-'19), when energy levels are drained after the last manic, invincible phase (2010-'14), before they will recover during the next warm-up phase (2020-'24). But one was referring back to a previous manic phase ('95-'99), and the other to a previous vulnerable phase (2000-'04). One did not match, the other did.

So far, the phase-matching song -- "2002" -- has been far more successful, and you still hear it being regularly played over a year later. Its creators and its audience are more able to resonate with it, since the zeitgeist of the song's setting matches their own, at least regarding the phase of the excitement cycle. Expecting people in a refractory period to resonate with a manic, high-energy zeitgeist -- "1999" -- may be asking too much of their physiology.

To investigate, I checked out Wikipedia's category list of nostalgia songs, which includes both of the above. I also looked through the Hot 100 year-end charts for titles with a year in them, in case the category list was missing some.

I'm interested in ones that are nostalgic for a narrowly defined cultural period -- one year, or less than five years at any rate. That eliminates songs that refer back to longer periods like several decades. And it eliminates those that are nostalgic for a certain stage of the lifespan, or for a previous romance, without any reference to what historical or cultural period it took place during.

I kept only those that resonated with audiences at all -- they had to make it onto some chart. Not necessarily the Hot 100, perhaps the rock or R&B charts, and just making it to the weekly charts (rather than year-end) was fine. Otherwise there aren't many to study.

Still, this leaves only 12 songs, which are listed below by their release date (album or single, whichever was first, not that it affected the phase it appeared in), which phase they were released in, the time they're set in, that setting's phase, and whether or not these phases matched. They are sorted by the phase of release date. Click for full-size.

As it turns out, there is no bias for nostalgic songs to be made during any of the three phases of the cycle -- each phase has produced 4 songs. There's no significant bias for the phase of the setting either -- 4 manic, 5 vulnerable, and 3 warm-up, barely distinguishable from the even distribution of 4, 4, 4.

However, there is a significant matching between the phase that the song was produced in and that it was set in. See footnote [1].

By the way, "December, 1963" originally came out during the late '70s warm-up phase, but it was remixed with a more modern dance sound, and charted once again during the early '90s warm-up phase. I left out that second recording, but including it would only strengthen the conclusion, adding another phase-matching song (since the early '60s were a warm-up phase).

So, rather than artists and audiences resonating with any old phase earlier in the excitement cycle, they are inclined to resonate with the same phase that they are currently experiencing.

To my ear the most resonant matches are "Summer of '69" for the manic phase, "December, 1963" for the warm-up phase, and "American Pie" for the vulnerable phase.

As for the mismatches, if only "1979" had been released a year earlier in 1994, that would have made it perfectly 15 years in sync with its setting. It doesn't really sound like a proper manic phase song of the late '90s anyway, but more of a "just getting the motor going" song typical of a warm-up phase.

All other things being equal, if you're going for nostalgia for a 1-to-5-year period, make it match in phase with the current phase of the excitement cycle.

[1] If the artists were choosing years to tell stories about without an inclination toward any of the three phases, then each phase would have an equal chance of being chosen, 1/3. So the chance of a match between the phases that the song is released in, and that the song is set in, would be 1/3. There are 12 independent songs. So the number of successful matches should be binomially distributed, with n = 12 and p = 1/3.

You'd naively expect 4 matches (12 * 1/3), and yet there are 8 matches.

The probability that there is a result so high above the expectation, or even higher, is less than 0.02.

We can therefore reject the initial assumption that the artists are just choosing years to tell stories about without an inclination toward any particular phase -- they are clearly inclined toward reminiscing about the same phase of the cycle as the one in which they're released.

July 29, 2019

Trans-radicals: Commissars who adopt radical personas to trigger their own desire for suppressing dissent

Would you cancel me? I'd cancel me.
I'd cancel me hard. I'd cancel me so hard.

During this time of realigning political coalitions, many of those who had presented themselves as radicals have revealed themselves to be supporters, and even hardcore enforcers, of the status quo.

Before, their false nature remained hidden, with no real opportunity to shake up the system. Now that that chance has finally arrived for the first time in 40-odd years, they have decided to double down and intensify the status quo, rather than do something fundamentally new and different.

In particular, they want to keep the political coalitions exactly the same -- they are against the very hallmark of realignment, when a major chunk of one side defects to the other side, upsetting the existing balance of power, and resulting in a newly negotiated compromise on how the society is to be run.

The casual analysis of these pseudo-radicals is that they are cosplayers or LARP-ers -- play-acting as something cooler and more impressive than their everyday reality. They put a rose emoji in their online profile, but they belong to no organizations that are making solid gains toward whatever socialist system they're imagining themselves to support.

The truth, though, is that they are more like a different category of false-presenters -- the transgenders, especially men who pretend to be women. The characters of cosplay and LARP-ing are usually from the world of fantasy or a bygone past, with no current true examples that could challenge the cosplayers and LARP-ers for status in such roles. In politics, however, there really are realigners who want to shake up the system and rearrange the membership of coalitions to hammer out a new agreement about the social order. These figures directly challenge the radical cred of the enforcers of the status quo, who only present as something novel.

A material and structural analysis could look into what role these trans-radicals play in the economy, and where the realigners are coming from, to see how this tension reflects their opposing material motives. But the similarity to trannies calls also for a psychosexual analysis of what motivates these trans-radicals, and why they treat the true realigners the way they do.

For male-to-female transgenders, their primary type is the "autogynephile," or a man who gets sexually aroused from imagining himself as a woman. There's a link to narcissism, since no existing woman could possibly satisfy his sexual desires -- only he himself, the supreme human being, could do so, if only he were female. Hence the drive to become sexually female.

Note that they do not try to become female in other ways, including the defining way of becoming pregnant, giving birth, and nurturing children, or even the related way of being domestic and like a housewife. Nope: their only focus is on the woman's role as a sexual arouser, and their attempt to become female is to become more seductive, slutty, and bangable.

Their goals of altering biology involve only getting a pair of fake tits, crafting a fuckhole between their legs, and maybe taking hormones to make their features softer. They aren't looking to build an artificial womb, to deliver an artificial baby through an artificial birth canal, or to nurse real or artificial infants with artificially enhanced mammary glands.

Their desires are egocentric -- sexual self-stimulation -- rather than social -- nurturing babies. Their desires are non-productive -- masturbatory thoughts and actions -- rather than constructive and productive -- raising children. If anything, they dismiss and often denigrate real women's reproductive function as being "breeders," sexually bland and undesirable. They viciously compete against real women, whether in sports, in fashion, or some other gender-segregated domain.

Because no real woman is good enough to arouse them, they dial up the sluttiness to 11, presenting an utter caricature of "the sexually arousing woman" -- the clown-like make-up and hair, the costume clothing, the exaggerated sexual aggressiveness, and so on.

To sum up, there is an activity (sexual pursuit) with a subject (the man) and an object (the woman). The subject wants to become the object as well -- the man wants to sexually pursue himself-as-a-woman, who provokes his sexual drive like no real woman could. The desire is egocentric and non-productive, bordering on anti-social.

For the trans-radical, the activity is suppressing realignment, the subject is the commissar, and the object is the realigner, who is truly a radical bold new thing on the political scene.

The commissar's libidinal desire to suppress dissent and police the boundaries of coalitional membership leads him ever in search of targets -- and yet, none of the existing radicals could trigger his cop instincts as much as if he could do it himself. Step aside, you so-called system-changers, and make way for the super-duper revolutionary -- who, however, does not want anyone new to join the team, lest their entry destabilize the longstanding order of things within the coalition.

By adopting the skin of a radical, he can act as both commissar and dissident, punisher and criminal. Which is fundamental? The role that he fervently engages in, not the one that he invests little energy, resources, and time in. Trans-radicals are always cracking the whip on political criminals, and rarely bringing new members on board from the other side in order to tip the balance of power in their favor to get radically new things done. The cop is their fundamental role, the dangerous rebel their affected role to trigger their own desire to punish deviants.

And like the autogynephiles, the trans-radicals don't merely mimic the true realigners -- they present an extreme caricature of someone so far away from the ideological center. Anarcho-communist, literal white nationalist, whatever. "Economic populist" just doesn't sound extreme enough, and would not so intensely trigger the commissar's desire to crack down. If the commissar really wants to get off on suppressing dissent, it has to be "far to the left of Bernie" or "far to the right of Trump".

Nor do the trans-radicals mimic all aspects of the true realigner -- or even the key feature, namely, that the realigners are open to shaking up the agreement of how to run society, in order to cause mass defections from the other side, to gain political capital that is sorely needed to make real changes. That is the realigner's other-directed and constructive role in realignment, whereas the trans-radical is focused on the egocentric and the non-productive (leveling up their own status points for how out-there they are ideologically).

Indeed, the trans-radicals are as dismissive of the realigner's crucial feature of shaking up the coalitions, as the transgenders are of women's reproductive function. If you bring about mass defections from the other team, then you're polluting the purity of our existing in-group with the filth coming from the out-group -- that's tantamount to treason, aiding the enemy in a hostile takeover of our own team.

Just as sexual arousal holds no relation to reproduction, for the transgender, so too for the trans-radical do radical positions hold no relation to realignment. They are pursued for themselves, to satisfy individual libidinal urges.

For the realigner, a radical position is meant to spark realignment, which will require shaking up the coalitions' membership. Realigners will therefore be open to compromising on other issues that are not central to the realignment -- either they share those positions with the potential defectors from the other side, or they do not but are willing to bury the hatchet on those issues, while more pressing issues are pursued.

That is a defining aspect of realigners, without which they could not accomplish their pro-social constructive goal of forging a new coalition to implement bold new changes to the social order. And that is what most angers the trans-radicals, as though it were a total misallocation of resources -- just as the transgender thinks reproduction is a total waste of a woman's time that ought to be spent on amping up the sexual arousal factor.

And in much the same way that Buffalo Bill carries the tranny's competing-against-women bias to an extreme -- serially killing women for their skins, the better to pass himself off as sexually female -- so do the big commissars not only try to stifle dissent, but to run the dissidents entirely out of existence, then appropriating some of their radical positions, the better to pass themselves off as politically radical. Just as Buffalo Bill was not interested in the women's wombs, neither are the trans-radicals interested in the realigners' ability to forge a new coalition.

Something greater is going on than the straightforward policing of dissent by the powers that be, understood for material and structural reasons. Why go through all the trouble of adopting a radical persona? Most literal prison guards and wardens don't style themselves as prison abolitionists, Black Panthers, anarchists, etc. There's some deep psychosexual pathology that's feeding into this political phenomenon of trans-radicals.

In fact, it may only be one member of a broader class of trans phenomena. Future posts may look into trans-racial and trans-queer cases, to establish more general principles.

In the meantime, be alert around the caricatured radical -- there could be an intersectionally means-tested Medicare plan tucked between her legs.

July 26, 2019

Demographics are never destiny in a world of negative feedback mechanisms

Leftoids love to triumphantly brag about how urbanized the American population has become, and at the supposed demographic destiny that will ripple throughout the political world. Sorry, non-urbanites, you've been canceled. Lotsa luck staying alive.

Right-wingers love to parrot the same narrative, only with the emotional value reversed -- it's a sick, cruel joke of the universe that our societies keep getting more and more dominated by urban centers. Cities never sleep from hunting down a nearly extinct species -- the non-urbanite.

In reality, cities have been around for literally thousands of years, and they have never reproduced their own populations. They are endogenous population sinks, as high population density leads to greater epidemic disease burden, higher crime rates, and lower fertility rates. The material standard of living is far lower on average, although with far greater variance -- a few super-wealthy people who cannot be found in rural areas, but teeming hordes of quasi-slaves, who are worse off than their rural counterparts who toil in fields (disease, crime, etc.).

Cities only reproduce and grow their populations from exogenous sources -- migration from country to city, internal to the nation, or immigration of foreigners.

If those external sources dry up, or if there is higher migration out of cities for any reason, then the demographic destiny turns in the other direction -- a supposed future of depopulated cities, ever to be ruled over by country bumpkins and suburbanites. The emptying out of cities has already happened once in recent history -- during the rising-crime period of 1960 to 1990 -- and it will happen again during the next crime wave. Today's return to cities is in no small part due to falling crime rates from around 1990. But crime rates go in cycles, not in one direction.

And the same is true for other forces that affect the degree of urbanization, such as status-striving (pro-city) vs. restrained ambition (anti-city). They move one way for decades, then the opposite way for decades.

These various negative feedback loops keep civilization from heading off in one direction only toward further and further extremes. At most, there is logistic type growth that saturates at a certain level, without going further, such as urbanization resulting from an agricultural economy -- it got more and more urbanized after we adopted farming, but only to a certain point.

In fact, the more common dynamic is an oscillating one -- decades or centuries in one direction, then a reversal for decades or centuries. That prevents a triumphal narrative for either the country or city cheerleaders. The only constant over the long term is tension between the two, not steady erosion of one by the other.

See also: long-term tension between sedentary crop farmers and nomadic livestock herders, where either one could be in the ascendant position for decades and even centuries, only to surrender those victories over the following decades and centuries.

The same is true for the supposed demographic destiny of multi-racial migration. It's possible that diversity will beget diversity, up to a certain point anyway -- that happened when the Indo-Europeans invaded the dark-skinned natives of the Indian subcontinent. And it's apparently happening now in Brazil ("apparently" because of the shorter time scale there, compared to thousands of years in India).

Notice, though, who has maintained dominant status ever since the beginning of those migrations -- not the darker-skinned and tropical-adapted groups, but the lighter-skinned and temperate-adapted groups. So, be careful about wishing for demographic destiny involving racial or ethnic diversity.

But it's also possible that diversity will show oscillatory behavior, whether like an ongoing pendulum or a one-time rise-and-fall. It doesn't look like whites will be returning to Zimbabwe or South Africa anytime soon, after being driven out in the post-Apartheid era.

The Germanic migrations of the medieval period left minimal genetic or cultural traces outside of their original homeland, including where they had been the rulers of the post-Roman period (Spain, Italy). The longstanding genetic and cultural roots of those places proved resistant to even large-scale and centuries-long migrations of foreigners.

Nor did the North African diversity within Moorish-occupied Iberia continue on and on forever -- they got expelled back to where they came from.

And of course the diversity that arrived in North America with the Europeans did not sustain itself -- one group largely wiped out the other, eliminating the temporary diversity of the initial colonial period. Before the Europeans, the Athabaskan wave of Native American migration wiped out the much earlier Amerindian wave in large swaths of Western North America.

This quick overview has left aside the adaptive nature of the political coalition system, which adds yet another source of oscillation to the dynamics. In one period, rural and urban may team up against upstart suburbanites (like the New Deal). In another, rural may side with suburbanites to team up against out-of-control mega-cities (like the Reagan era).

A follow-up post will look at what would happen, just within the left or liberal side of the system, if urbanites determined the future. The black-humor punchline is that the Democrats would only ever nominate Hillary Clinton, and never Bernie Sanders. But stay tuned for a more in-depth discussion.

July 20, 2019

Crunk was the black dance-punk: Post-9/11 end of the world party music, with no revival today

A recent post looked at the lack of a dance-punk revival during the current vulnerable phase of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle. That genre was one of the distinguishing features of the early 2000s vulnerable phase, and yet there's hardly anything like it today, unlike all the other similarities between pop music styles from both periods.

That made me think of another distinctive genre of the early 2000s that felt too fun and danceable to belong to such a mellow phase -- and yet still channeled the dark tone and aggro attitude of the emo phase that it came from.

This genre, too, has not been revived during the late 2010s, when the similar zeitgeist should allow it to be reborn. The only major difference from dance-punk is that it was from the black rather than the white side of the production world.

Crunk music exploded from out of nowhere in 2003 and '04, far too early to be explained by the decadent and dance-crazy atmosphere of the late 2000s, which was a classic warm-up phase of the cycle, akin to the disco late '70s and the neo-disco early '90s. The early 2000s should have been too oppressively emo and low-energy to produce such bounce-heavy party-people music.

Like dance-punk, crunk appealed to girls, as well as guys, despite the dark aggro tone that turns most girls off in other cases. The aggressive tone is less of a whiny cry for help, and more like a team of drill sergeants chanting orders that the girl's inner submissive hoe wants to obey, after locating the nearest random hot guy. Listening to these songs, I still feel two or more cuties surrounding me to get their grind on. Such a wilder time.

Also like dance-punk, crunk did not suffer from the spastic rhythms and grinding-to-a-halt bridges that characterize dance music from a vulnerable phase. And it was not over-produced and multi-layered, unlike the dream pop style characteristic of a vulnerable phase. The beat was driving and easy to follow, and the instrumentation stripped down to garage-band levels, with a few simple riffs to keep you engaged the whole way through. The shouted chorus did not come off as emo screaming that might put individuals into a downward spiral, but more like chants at a pep rally to keep the group's energy levels high.

I attribute an anomaly like crunk to the same cause of the anomalous dance-punk -- the response to 9/11, which put people in a more apocalyptic mood, discounting the future and emphasizing living in the now. If we have no idea when the next major spectacle of terrorism is going to strike, we might as well party it up and enjoy each other's company while we still can, though preferring a dark brooding tone to remind us of how ominous the climate has suddenly become.

In the old post on the cultural headiness after 9/11, I wrote mostly about dance-punk, but also mentioned that crunk has always been a guilty pleasure. I was dancing in rock-oriented clubs in 2004 and '05, and didn't hear much crunk when it originally came out. But when I started branching out into hip-hop clubs during the late 2000s, it was still popular enough to come on every weekend, even if it was 5 years old by then (an eternity in club years). It also had major crossover appeal, and broke into the playlists of rock and electronic dance clubs.

The fashion of both scenes overlapped as well, with girls wearing a white t-shirt or tank-top and American Apparel athletic shorts or dark skinny jeans with a contrasting white belt -- simple, bright, skin-baring, and easy to dance in. Guys had a more put-together look as well -- no baggy pants or basketball shorts or sweatpants, but slim / skinny jeans, a belt, and perhaps some eye-catching shoes (light-colored, to contrast with dark jeans).

Unlike the dance-punk post, I don't have a handful of exceptional examples of crunk to point to during the current phase, since I don't listen to rap stations. If you know of a lone counterexample that might be out there -- something that sounds like a buried Ying Yang Twins track from 2004 -- let us know in the comments.

Otherwise, we'll end with some of the original dark, brooding hoe anthems of the post-9/11 climate.

"Get Low" by Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz (2003):

"Salt Shaker" by Ying Yang Twins (2003):

"Shake That Monkey" by Too Short (2003):

July 19, 2019

Realignment in Australia / NZ will come from the right, since neoliberalism came from the left

In a recent episode of the What's Left podcast, Aimee Terese mentions in passing why she rarely discusses Australian politics, despite hailing from down under. She says there's nothing going on, that their politics are stuck in the 1990s, and there's no entry point for a genuine left-wing movement. She means populist left or socialist left, obviously the elitist and neoliberal left have plenty of power.

Why is there nothing like the Bernie movement in America, or the Corbyn movement in Britain? Because Australia is like the Mediterranean countries -- France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, and Greece -- in that the neoliberal realignment circa 1980 came from the left, which has remained the dominant coalition in politics ever since. And before that, the egalitarian and populist Midcentury era was overseen by a dominant coalition from the right.

Overturning the status quo comes from the opposition's coalition, after they get enough of the dominant coalition to defect. The dominant coalition just keeps on going in one direction, no matter how sclerotic and catastrophic their governance becomes. They are too invested in the system that they themselves built and of which they have been the primary beneficiaries.

So there will never be a realignment beyond neoliberalism that comes from the left in the Mediterranean -- it has already begun with Salvini's right in Italy, and will happen in France when Le Pen wins in 2022. Nor will any such thing happen in Australia or neighboring New Zealand. Realignment from the left will only happen where the neoliberal era has been dominated by the right (America, Canada, Britain, Denmark, etc.).

See the Appendix below for a concise overview of the history of left vs. right dominance during several political eras in both Australia and New Zealand.

No matter how much the blinkered partisans want to make "left" and "right" refer to "good" and "evil" (or vice versa), they are merely variations on a common theme, which is determined by the material laws of history. The wholesome and egalitarian Midcentury came in two variations -- a left version in the Anglo-Atlantic countries, and a right version in the Mediterranean and Anglo-Pacific countries. Likewise the neoliberal hellhole since then has come in two variations -- a right version in the Anglo-Atlantic, and a left version in the Mediterranean and Anglo-Pacific.

So, too, will the post-neoliberal system come in two variations -- left in the Atlantic, right in the Med / Pacific.

Resistance to these laws is futile. The moribund dominant parties of the neoliberal era will be in the impotent opposition status during the post-neolib era, while the opposition parties of this era will shake up their membership and become the new dominant parties. And neoliberalism has destroyed the industrial-scale manufacturing basis of the modern welfare state, as well as destroying the central banks of all major nations. So something new is going to take its place as a whole system. Whether the new order comes from the left or right makes little difference, and boils down to who is currently dominant but fading, vs. who is opposition yet rising.

Concretely, if you're a populist and want to see the replacement of neoliberalism, you must work on forging a realigned left party in the Anglo-Atlantic countries, and a realigned right party in the Mediterranean and Anglo-Pacific. See this earlier post on Brexit and the disbanding of the EU relying on a realigned left in Britain and a realigned right in France (and Italy) -- Corbyn and Le Pen (and Salvini), against Merkel in Germany.

As a pleasant side effect, anti-woke left women like Aimee will find better boyfriend material when they begin allying with the nascent populist right in their countries. Such women constantly complain about what limpdick killjoys the male leftists and libs are, and tell other leftists not to hold it against them if they seek to satisfy their desires with red-blooded guys, who are more culturally conservative -- the personal is not political. And the red-blooded guys aren't going to hold it against women if they happen to be culturally liberal, provided they aren't wokescolding feminazis. It's just the right union as Me Too runs out of steam this year, and guys and girls look to mix it up with each other again.


The neoliberal era began in Australia with the ministry of Bob Hawke (Labor) in 1983, and in New Zealand with David Lange (Labour) in 1984.

Currently, the opposition right is in power in Australia (Scott Morrison, Liberal), meaning the dominant party has yet to enter its ineffectual, disjunctive phase that immediately precedes realignment. That means the earliest that the disjunctive phase could begin would be after the 2022 election, if Labor wins and proves unable to handle the massive economic crisis headed our way (everyone's way). That would leave realignment until 2025, if the Liberal party provides a right-wing alternative to the neoliberal status quo.

In New Zealand, the dominant party is back in power (Jacinda Ardern, Labour), so they could be ripe for realignment if she proves disjunctive. Her party already had to form a coalition government with the populist, immigration restrictionist New Zealand First party (a kingmaking third party last time). Still, in most places, it looks like the big realignment elections won't begin until 2022 or later, so I'd expect New Zealand to enter disjunctive status after their 2020 election, if Labour remains in power, and then realignment to strike in 2023 or 2026, bringing the National party to new dominant status, after they commit to some system other than the neoliberal status quo.

Before neoliberalism, the proto-socialist Midcentury began in Australia with Joseph Lyons (United Australia, forerunner of the Liberal party, both of which were the main right-wing party). They came to power in 1932 after the Great Depression discredited the formerly dominant Labor party, which split in 1931 and delivered a large defection to the newly dominant United Australia / Liberal party, including the trailblazing Lyons himself. Their counterpart to FDR -- the long-serving, tone-setting leader, though not the founder of the system -- was Robert Menzies (Liberal). Their counterpart to Jimmy Carter -- the ineffectual disjunctive leader during the crisis of the 1970s -- was Malcolm Fraser (Liberal). During this 51-year period, only 11 years were governed by opposition prime ministers from Labor.

The story is a little more complicated for New Zealand. Before the Great Depression, from 1890 to 1930, the left was the dominant party (Liberal, then United from its remnants), while the right was opposition (Reform). During the depths of the Depression in the early '30s, the center-left and center-right formed a grand coalition (United-Reform), in order to stave off the further-left Labour party. This meant both the center-left and center-right bore the blame for the Depression, and since the further-left Labour party was the only alternative, they came to power to pull the country out of the Depression, from 1935 to '49. Perhaps if the dominant left (United) had been the sole party in power during the early '30s, their disjunctive phase would have given way immediately to a newly dominant right (Reform).

However, Labour's rule was not a realignment but more of an interregnum, a temporary emergency to get out of the Depression. Realignments are defined by a big chunk of former rivals defecting to the new dominant party, and Labour did not gain massive defections from either the center-left or center-right, despite instituting the Keynesian policies that ended the Depression. Rather, the realignment was the formal merger, not just an alliance of convenience, of the center-left and center-right parties into a single non-Labour party. United and Reform merged into the National party, the right-wing party that began their period of dominance in 1949, which lasted through their disjunctive phase until 1984. The longest-serving dominant prime minister was Keith Holyoake, and its disjunctive ineffectual leader was Robert Muldoon.

The Labour party changed from being a further-left third party, before and during the Depression, to the center-left second party during the Midcentury, an opposition party that only controlled the government for 6 years between 1949 and 1984.

To re-cap New Zealand: the late 19th / early 20th century was dominated by the left, and dominance switched to the right during the Midcentury, with a further-left interregnum during the Depression itself. As of the mid-1980s, dominance has swung back to the left.

July 10, 2019

Reviving the Big Labor - Wall Street alliance of the New Deal

In the comments to a post below, there's some discussion of how the Democrats can bring the working class back onto their side and become the dominant rather than opposition party.

In this comment, I review the argument I've been making for awhile here about how the next New Deal phase of the cycle is still a ways off.

But as for nearer-term solutions, I'll just cut-and-paste the comments here. The first is about how de-industrialization has destroyed the upper tiers of the finance sector, as well as the labor unions and working class, giving them a common cause to unite around. The second is about de-escalating the arms race within the finance sector itself, which was begun by the lower and middle-tier finance orgs circa 1980, not the Wall Street investment banks at the top of the pyramid, who only deregulated as a reaction to those below, 20 years later.

If you want to comment, do so to this post, as the other one is old by now and has a moderated comment section.

* * * * *

Concretely in the short term, unions and populists should highlight to the big banks and central bank how unfair it is that the manufacturers have moved so much production outside the country, where it can't be taxed, leaving Wall Street and Silicon Valley to have to pick up more of the tax tab for funding our government.

And aside from current spending, our government has taken on enormous debt since 1980, compared to surpluses under the New Deal, because mfg owners and their vast working class can no longer be taxed to pay immediately for govt, leading to debt instead.

All that debt will wreck the finance sector -- either by them having to monetize that debt, or by defaulting, either one ruining the credit score of our central bank. Their financial assets become worth a whole lot less (they're denominated in dollars, which become funny-money under such printing schemes).

Also, with less and less real production being done here, the central bank has had to fill the void by injecting more and more monetary stimulus in order to "keep the economy going". But since it's just a bankers' bubble, it's not real, and will pop. That's not an emergency, "lender of last resort" function -- they're being used as an emergency every day for 40 years.

De-industrialization is to blame for that, since industrial-scale manufacturing is an organic and endogenous source of job creation with good wages. No need to stimulate constantly -- only now and again when the credit cycle tightens. (There was not a single bubble during the New Deal era.)

And of course, finance cannot provide the jobs themselves -- they are not labor-intensive, and will never be hiring in large numbers. Only labor-intensive employers can fill the void -- but with de-industrialization, that means shitty service jobs.

Industrial mfg has high profits margins, meaning if employers compete for workers, they have to pass along a lot of that profit to workers in wages. Retail, food, etc., are very low-margin activity, and leave little for employers to pass on. Only industrial mfg is both high-profit margin, and labor-intensive / high employment numbers. That alone can sustain a modern welfare state and economy.

There's likely more to the story, but that's the basic pitch. De-industrialization has thoroughly compromised the finance sector, all the way to the top, in stark contrast to the stable finance system of our industrial mfg heyday under the New Deal.

* * * * *

As for concrete solutions in finance, the increasing precariousness was caused by deregulation since 1980. And that did NOT benefit the big Wall Street investment banks -- they did not get deregulated until the late 1990s.

Rather, early neolib deregulation was about "liberating" the middle and bottom tier financial orgs to claw their way up the pyramid to take on the stodgy old investment banks. Regional banks like Continental Illinois, the entire Savings & Loan sector, hedge funds, private equity (leveraged buy-out, corporate raiding), barely existed before 1980, let alone were they running riot.

That's who was soaring off the charts during the '80s and most of the '90s. It was all fake, so they kept going bust, but for awhile the investment banks did not have to bail them out. Continental Illinois was bailed out by the FDIC, the whole Savings & Loan sector by a special act of the federal government.

But when a big hedge fund, Long Term Capital Management, went tits up in the late '90s, it was the Wall Street investment banks who had to bail it out. Imagine that -- this new breed of finance animal has been unshackled and eating your lunch for 15-20 years, and then when one of them kicks the bucket, it's YOU who has to pay for their enormous end-of-life services and funeral costs!

Immediately after LTCM's blow-up and bail-out, the investment banks demanded that they, too, be deregulated. If the middle and lower tier were unshackled, then the top tier had to be unshackled, too, in order to keep from going extinct at the hands of the upwardly mobile breeds.

It was only then that Glass-Steagall was repealed, and investment banks allowed to form into mega-banks.

That mega-ness directly caused them to blow up and need bailing out, in 2008. One didn't even make it -- Lehman Brothers. Think of it: every fly-by-night S&L from the '80s got bailed out, and now it was clear the upstart hedgies would always get bailed out. But one of the oldest investment banks on Wall Street? Sorry, don't count on it.

Now our central bank has gotten too big to fail, after jumping on a nearly 5 trillion-dollar grenade in order to "save the economy" after 2008. But it still has 80% of the shrapnel embedded in its body, meaning it can't absorb another blast -- and the next blast will be much bigger than 5 trillion. When the current bubble pops, the Fed will have a whole new order of magnitude of liabilities on its balance sheet, in the 10s of trillions of dollars.

And there is no higher bank to bail out the central bank that prints the world's reserve currency. No central bank of Planet Earth. No central bank of the solar system. No central bank of the Milky Way. No intergalactic central bank. No central bank of all parallel dimensions. This is, at last, the end of the line for bubble-blowing.

In order to de-scale the Wall Street mega-banks, we have to level the middle and lower tier of the finance world. That's where all the problems started. Impose regulations that put those actors back where they belong, where they're not challenging the investment banks at the top. Once its safe, the mega-banks can shrink back into Glass-Steagall style investment banks.

Big labor and their workers will have no problem with any of that. They don't thrive from the S&Ls, corporate raiders, and hedge funds -- if anything, they've gotten downsized into oblivion by them (private equity).

It can be sold as "all actors in the finance sector will be taking on a smaller role, and reining in their deregulated free-for-all behavior". But the real action will be caging up the sub-investment bank tiers, who started the arms race in the first place. De-escalation of the finance arms race -- a nice way to sell it to populists.

Again, only Dems can pursue that -- they're controlled by the Wall Street mega-banks and central bank, while the GOP was controlled by the formerly low/mid-tier finance orgs who wanted to take on the big boys from Wall Street (S&L, private equity).

June 29, 2019

No dance rock or garage rock revival during this vulnerable phase, unlike early 2000s, since no 9/11 this time

Earlier posts have covered the similarities between the music of the late 2010s and previous mellow, vulnerable phases of the 15-year cultural excitement cycle. First, dream pop as an indie phenomenon. Second, dream pop's influences going mainstream. And third, the dissonant and spastic turn that dance music takes.

The last mellow, vulnerable phase was the early 2000s, so you might expect to see another incarnation of garage rock revival bands such as the Strokes, or dance rock bands like Franz Ferdinand. But so far -- and there's only 6 months left in the current vulnerable phase -- those two have not materialized.

Why not?

Well, they were not staples of other vulnerable phases either -- the late '80s and the early '70s were not distinguished by these genres. To the extent that there was a mixture of dance and rock, it was dark, emo, down-tempo, and brooding -- glam rock of the early '70s, goth rock of the late '80s, and electroclash of the early 2000s.

That's distinct from the bouncy, upbeat genres of dance rock and garage rock revivals that started in 2002 and lasted into the late 2000s. They weren't as unreservedly upbeat as the music of the manic, invincible phase of the cycle, though. They were clearly marked by the brooding, emo zeitgeist of a vulnerable phase, creating an unusual fusion of brooding and bouncy.

You wouldn't expect to find something that body-moving and carefree during a refractory phase, so there must've been something unique to the early 2000s -- and that was the psychological reaction to 9/11.

I've covered that topic before here, detailing how the 5 years or so after 9/11 looked in some key ways like a rising-crime culture, a la the 1960s through the '80s, rather than the falling-crime culture that had prevailed since the '90s. That post discusses the "postpunk revival," as these genres were called back then, as evidence.

It was not rising violent crime rates from opportunistic individual criminals, but something similar -- a perceived rise in the risk of violence due to organized terrorism. Rising uncertainty about the safety of the near-term future makes us discount the future and want to live more in the moment. That really has an effect when the cause is a decades-long rise in violent crime rates, but 9/11 was such a spectacle that you couldn't help but be affected by it, at least for 5 years or so, until we didn't get any more spectacles and wrote off those risks.

And while there has been no widespread phenomenon or social scene around garage rock and dance rock this time around, there are still isolated songs that have taken a stab at it. They just can't find a broader resonance, since there's been no 9/11-like event to put people in a mood of "the end of the world is coming, might as well party while we still can".

Here's one that sounds like the Strokes reincarnated as a girl band, and another that could be a lost track from Franz Ferdinand's first album (maybe alluded to by "this fire" appearing in the lyrics).

"I Dare You" by the Regrettes (2019):

"Lash Out" by Alice Merton (2018):

June 26, 2019

When GOP replaces Trump as nom, Dems will implode since their focus is 100% Trump

At the Democrat debates tonight and tomorrow, 100% of the focus will be on the single individual named Donald J. Trump -- his evil nature, his coarse tone, his collusion with Russia, his treason, his far-right authoritarian subversion of American democracy, his love of similar far-right dictators (callback to Putin), and so on and so forth.

None of it will have to do with substantive issues. They could focus on healthcare, a major concern for voters, but that would heighten the people's awareness of Bernie being the only one who wants a single-payer system, while everyone else either outright rejects that proposal or dissimulates their opposition. The liberal media will be sure to rush right through that rabble-rousing topic.

Bernie's student debt jubilee is another topic that they'll allow five seconds of discussion on before rushing on -- it's too rabble-rousing, and too unconnected to Trump. The most important issue is to defeat Donald Trump, and restore American democracy to how it used to be.

These braindead morons are in for the shock of their lives when the GOP replaces Trump with literally anyone else (aside from a highly polarizing culture warrior like Ted Cruz). They will wait until late in the electoral season, to maximize the element of surprise. Suddenly, all of the Democrats' appeals to voters will go up in a puff of smoke.

"Vote for us in order to rid the White House of Trump! Wait, what's that? He's leaving after one term, so he won't be in office in 2021 no matter who wins the election? Uh, well, problem solved, I guess, but still... vote for us in order to... uh, prosecute Trump after he's already gone!"

They've been constructing their whole narrative based on the continuing threat that Trump poses in his role as the president -- so, once he voluntarily leaves in 2021, that threat vanishes. They cannot switch their message to one of pure vindictiveness, since that does not present some big common problem that we Americans must all unite together in order to solve. Acting like a bunch of petty vindictive middle school girls is not going to motivate anyone to show up to the voting booth.

After the GOP has preemptively neutralized Trump Derangement Syndrome as a potential GOTV issue, the Democrats will not have the monumental turnout that they did in the 2018 midterms. The seething rage will have no clearly defined target, and they will lose both attentional and emotional energy. There will be even more demoralized voters who stay home than in 2016. No high stakes, no point in leaving the house.

That collapse in Democrat turnout, more than a surge in favor of the Republican -- very unlikely since Trump has failed on his major 2016 themes -- will keep the Rust Belt states still very much in play for the GOP. Trump's replacement does not need to win all of them again -- just enough to clear 270. Ohio and Florida are already in the GOP column at this early stage (and North Carolina is not a blue state). If they get just Pennsylvania, it's over.

Only after the Democrats suffer total shock as the GOP snatches the rug out from under them, and they wake up from their concussion to discover that Trump's replacement has won the election, will they be forced to focus on populist material issues. Targeting individuals leaves the campaign completely helpless if that individual is no longer present, whereas targeting institutional and structural problems makes a campaign robust against the changing of particular individuals in the enemy's leadership.

That will also de-fang their obsession with fascism, Nazis, dictators, far-right authoritarianism, etc. Those systems all rely on a highly centralized command structure, and if we really faced such a threat, why would the purported dictator retire voluntarily after four short years? It's a retarded theory that makes no sense of the world and its problems, and it will lose any resonance that it might have enjoyed, once the so-called dictator bows out.

As usual, the technocratic geniuses behind the Democrat Establishment have absolutely no Plan B, and are blithely certain that Trump will be their rival. They are not even having a big debate over it and deciding overtly that Trump will be their rival, they're simply taking it for granted. And of course the clueless Left has been primarily focusing on the same issues as the neoliberal status quo Establishment -- far-right dictator, Nazi menace, etc. They will be of no use either during the campaign. It will truly be the blind leading the blind.

Only the people who are economically populist and morally conservative seem to have any hint of what is possible, and how to build a campaign that is robust to the potential major shocks. And they are marginalized by their supposed comrades on both the Left and Right, whichever they affiliate more with. It'll be a case of I Told You So after the 2020 election, and then a real effort to forge a real realignment after 40 years of neoliberalism.

I've decided not to rehearse my argument for why Trump will not be the GOP nominee, in the interest of space, but you can read my comments to a recent post beginning here. The evidence is extensive and plain to see, both historical parallels and current events (like the GOP refusing to endorse Trump as the next nominee during their meeting earlier this year).

Aside from all that evidence, just check your intuition -- does Trump right now strike you as someone who's preparing for the electoral fight of his life, or someone who's thoroughly checked out and only looking to save as much face as he can on his way out the door?