Paul Kingsnorth wrote a very intelligent post reflecting on the symbolism and significance of Queen Elizabeth’s funeral.
What happened today was a rolling, dense mat of symbolism, replete with historical meaning, anchored in a very particular nation and time period. What did it symbolise? Above all, I think, it symbolised something that our culture has long stopped believing in, and as such can’t really process effectively, or even perhaps quite comprehend. This was brought home to me by one particular moment in the ceremony.
You can see that moment in the photograph above. It’s a view from the height of the tower of Westminster Abbey, looking down onto the Queen’s coffin below. The Abbey is, of course, laid out in the shape of the cross, and the coffin was set down at the meeting point of the nave and the transept, where the two arms of the cross meet. At one point in the proceedings, the camera showed us this view, and then focused in on the scene, and the impression was that of some energy flowing down from above and into the coffin, then out across the marble floor and into the gathered crowd.
It struck me then that this was an accurate visual image of the world which this Queen’s death marks the final end of, and it struck me too that this must be one of the reasons why her passing has had such a huge impact – one way beyond the person she actually was. What we were seeing as the camera panned down was a manifestation, through technological trickery, of the ancient notion of sacral kingship.
This notion was the rock which the political structure of all medieval societies was built, and in theory at least it is still the architecture which supports the matter of Britain, whose bishops still sit in parliament with the power to amend laws, and whose monarch’s crown is adorned with a cross. Authority, in this model of society, flows downward, from God, and into the monarch, who then faces outward with that given power and serves – and rules – his or her people.
Forget for a moment whether you’re a Christian, or a monarchist, or indeed whether you just think this is so much humbug designed to disguise the raw exercise of power. I’m not trying to make a case here: I am trying to understand something that I think at least partly explains how we have got here.
The point of the model of sacral kingship is that all true power resides in and emerges from the great, mysterious, unknowable, creative power at the heart of the universe – the power which we call, for want of a better word, ‘God.’ Any power that the monarch may exercise in this temporal realm is not ultimately his or hers. At the end of the funeral today, the orb and the sceptre, symbolising the Queen’s spiritual and temporal authority, were removed from the top of her coffin, along with the crown, and given over to the care of the church. At that point, Elizabeth became symbolically what she had always been in reality, and we all are – small, ordinary people, naked before God.
This notion – that any power exercised by a human ruler ultimately derives from the spiritual plane – is neither British nor European. It is universal. Pharaonic Egypt recognised it, and so did Native America. The Anglo-Saxons believed it and so did the Japanese Emperors. Cultures large and small, imperial and tribal, on all continents over many millennia, have shared some version of this understanding of what the world is. Power, it tells us – politics, it insists – is no mere human confection, because the world is no mere human confection. There is something – someone – else beyond it, and if we are silent, in these cathedrals or in these forests, we can hear it still. Those who take power in this world will answer to it at the end. It is best that they know this now.
What is meaningful about this royal death is that the late Queen really believed this. So, I think, does her son, the new King. But the society around him very much does not. The understanding now is that authority flows upward from below, from ‘the people’ and into the government, which supposedly governs on our behalf. In this model there is no sacred centre, and there is no higher authority to whom we answer. There is no heavenly grant of temporary office which will one day be returned, and a tally made. There is only raw power, rooted in materiality, which in itself has no meaning beyond what we ascribe to it. There is only efficiency. There is only management. There are only humans.
The Daily Mail reports happily on our handbaskets speedy progress toward Hell.
Why pretty boys have ousted beefcakes as Hollywood hottest heartthrobs: Tom Holland and Harry Styles are the poster boys for ‘non-toxic masculinity’ who appeal to Gen Z with ‘enlightened’ views, experts say
Stars like Timothée Chalamet and Tom Holland are modern A-List heartthrobs
Younger fans are attracted to their anti-leading man looks, experts claim
Facial symmetry makes them popular on social media because photograph well
Changing attitudes towards gender and sexuality also made them popular
Ten years ago, baby-faced men were passed over in Hollywood for rugged looking stars with more traditionally masculine looks.
But today more feminine-looking actors with delicate features, shorter stature and symmetrical faces are more in demand because they appear to younger viewers, experts claim.
Gen Z audiences are drawn to celebrities like Tom Holland, Timothée Chalamet and Harry Styles who embody a ‘brand of enlightened non-toxic masculinity’, according to beauty expert Laura Kay.
Their symmetrical, heart-shaped faces also make them more photogenic and therefore more popular on Instagram, which has become a key part in the Hollywood marketing machine.
These non-traditional leading men also benefit because younger generations are more tolerant of things which would have seen as ‘abnormal’ in the past, such as height differences or attitudes to gender, says dating and relationship expert Alex Mellor-Brook.
Tom Holland, 25, who is dating his co-star Zendaya, also 25, for example, is 5ft 8in, shorter than one might expect for a Hollywood A-lister, while Harry Styles, 27, proudly steps out in feminine clothing and has released a range of nail polishes.
Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: Destruction, 1833-1836, New York Historical Society.
Michael Anton contemplates gloomily what form the hell towards which we are rapidly proceeding in a handbasket is going to take.
He is ultimately unable to arrive at a conclusion, other than noting that the folly and decline of no previous known people, state, or culture has ever featured anything like the same levels of irrationality, self-hatred, and elite treason as our own.
[T]here is the endless insistence that every new dawn must begin a fresh Year Zero; we must start continually anew. What was acceptable yesterday is anathema today and will be more so tomorrow. All that came before must be swept aside and destroyed with extreme prejudice, on a rolling basis.
The most ferocious revolutionaries of yesteryear didn’t do this. The Jacobins changed the calendar and guillotined a lot of nobles but otherwise allowed France to remain French. The Bolsheviks did not touch the Russian literary or concert canons; to the contrary, they celebrated both. Mao made an attempt to start over—until the more sensible Party bosses realized that the old man (and especially his wife) had lost their minds and were destroying China, sidelined him, and quietly put an end to the Cultural Revolution four years before formally declaring mission accomplished. The Ayatollah did not ban Nowruz or other cornerstones of Persian tradition beloved by the Iranian people, but which predated his puritanical version of Islam.
Our overlords, by contrast, insist on changing everything and will not stop until everything familiar is gone. When this is pointed out, they smirk about the “slippery-slope fallacy” and gleefully lie. That will never happen, they say, until they insist on it, and, once accomplished, move on to the next target. They are cultural locusts devouring everything in their path. If the internal “logic” (if one may use that word in this context) of their passionate hatred is allowed to play out, no statue can be left standing, no traditional holiday observed, no name unchanged. If that outcome does not come to pass, it will not be because those driving toward it have a change of heart, nor is it likely to be because the Right suddenly becomes effective in opposition. It will rather be because the locusts destroy too many of the country’s remaining functioning parts too soon, causing the system to collapse before their program is complete, thereby making further “progress” impossible.
Any one of the above elements would appear to be unprecedented; just a few of them in combination surely are. All of them together?
How, therefore, can anyone be confident that he “knows” what is going to happen—whether imminent collapse, drawn-out decline, or centuries of tyranny?
If forced to bet, I would have to place my chips somewhere between imminent collapse and drawn-out decline. I occasionally read theories of triple bank-shots and four-dimensional chess—they really know what they’re doing!—only to marvel. Our regime cannot, at present, unload a cargo ship, stock a store shelf, run a clean election, handle parental complaints at a school board meeting, pass a budget bill, treat a cold variant, keep order in the streets, defeat a third world country, or even evacuate said country cleanly. And that’s to say nothing of all the things it should be doing, that all non-joke countries do, that it refuses to do. If our ruling class has a plan, it would seem to be to destroy the society and institutions from which they, at present, are the largest—one is tempted to say only—beneficiaries. Do they think they can benefit more from the wreckage? Or are they driven by hatreds that blind them to self-interest? Perhaps they’re simply insane?
Whatever the case, couple all this unprecedentedness with all this incompetence, and going long on Wokemerica seems a sucker bet. But, to end where we began, the very unprecedentedness of our situation means that all bets are off.
Cockburn thinks he has found the key explanation: Western elites let Afghans see what Western elite culture is like. Naturally, and inevitably, they took down their AK-47s from the wall and fought tooth and nail to prevent being assimilated into that!
[A]longside the billions for bombs went hundreds of millions for gender studies in Afghanistan. According to U.S. government reports, $787 million was spent on gender programs in Afghanistan, but that substantially understates the actual total, since gender goals were folded into practically every undertaking America made in the country.
A recent report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) broke down the difficulties of the project. For starters, in both Dari and Pastho there are no words for “gender.” That makes sense, since the distinction between “sex” and “gender” was only invented by a sexually-abusive child psychiatrist in the 1960s, but evidently Americans were caught off-guard. Things didn’t improve from there. Under the US’s guidance, Afghanistan’s 2004 constitution set a 27 per cent quota for women in the lower house — higher than the actual figure in America! A strategy that sometimes required having women represent provinces they had never actually been to. Remarkably, this experiment in “democracy” created a government few were willing to fight for, let alone die for.
The initiatives piled up one after another. Do-gooders established a “National Masculinity Alliance”, so a few hundred Afghan men could talk about their “gender roles” and “examine male attitudes that are harmful to women.”
Police facilities included childcare facilities for working mothers, as though Afghanistan’s medieval culture had the same needs as 1980s Minneapolis. The army set a goal of 10 percent female participation, which might make sense in a Marvel movie, but didn’t to devout Muslims. Even as America built an Afghan army ended up collapsing in days, and a police force whose members frequently became highwaymen, it always made sure to execute its gender goals.
But all this wasn’t just a stupid waste of money. It routinely actively undermined the “nation building” that America was supposed to be doing. According to an USAID observer, the gender ideology included in American aid routinely caused rebellions out in the provinces, directly causing the instability America was supposedly fighting. To get Afghanistan’s parliament to endorse the women’s rights measures it wanted, America resorted to bribing them. Soon, bribery became the norm for getting anything done in the parliament.
But instead of rattling off anecdotes, perhaps a single video clip will do the job. Dadaism and conceptual art are of dubious value even in the West, but at some point some person who is not in prison for fraud decided that Afghan women would be uplifted by teaching them about Marcel Duchamp. (See above)
First it was the woke CIA ad, now it is a super-woke woke animated army recruitment ad featuring a lesbian wedding, an LGBT rights parade and women "shattering stereotypes" by joining the world's largest killing machine. pic.twitter.com/xDqP39EQei
Alexander Zubatov takes a walk through the Dante’s Hell that is Bill de Blasio’s New York City and reflects on the experience of living in the ruins of a formerly great civiization.
The subway is on the next block, and there should be at least two or three more trains stopping here before the 1 a.m. post-pandemic subway curfew hits. I descend one flight of steps, turn the corner past the curled-up form at their base, take another flight down and arrive at the turnstiles by what I know no name for other than the manned “token booth,” though tokens have not existed in years, the function of dispensing their MetroCard replacements (themselves already on the way out) was ceded to machines long ago and, so far as I can tell, the individual “manning” these booths does little more than grudgingly give out occasional traveling directions. As though to prove the point, a young thug wearing an expensive jacket and sneakers rushes past me and vaults the turnstile, sagging jeans and all, and the bloated woman in the booth sits stone-faced. I flash my hands in a half-hearted “are you really gonna do nothing?” gesture. She fails to manifest so much as recognition.
I turn away, pay my fare, and go through. I think of the politicians who’ve betrayed us, who’ve shamelessly lied to us and told us that punishing fare evasion penalizes poverty, as if it’s the poverty of put-upon unfortunates rather than the apathy of an entire society that has led to a whopping 13.6 percent of subway riders not bothering to pay their fair share, costing the MTA nearly $40 million a year even as it faces a near-unprecedented budget crisis and contemplates fare increases that only we paying customers will have to shoulder.
This is what this entire city, this nation, has become: a shrinking reserve of law-abiding citizens shouldering every burden for a growing mass of fat, lazy leeches, slugs, thugs, gangbangers, rule-breakers, whiners, and perpetual ne’er-do-wells comically beatified by walled-off, gated-away elites who never set foot in the subway and spin out contemporary fantasias on Rousseau’s theme of the “noble savage,” virtuous “oppressed,” “marginalized” and “vulnerable” victims heroically bearing their daily yoke while living in fear of the mythical, perpetual great white crackdown. This is our modern-day version of Joseph Goebbels’ “big lie”—an audacious, supremely ironic, 180-degree reversal of reality that only a well-off, sheltered, would-be white savior could possibly believe, blinded by opaque layers of ideology and inexperience borne of never having walked warily alone through a sketchy urban neighborhood at night.
A moment’s reflection—bolstered, if need be, by reams of statistical data that would only prove the obvious—would reveal that we are the ones living in fear, of course. The chances that an unarmed civilian, regardless of his race, will be brutalized, much less killed, by police is vanishingly low (particularly if he avoids doing the kinds of things that tend to garner police attention) when weighed against the chances that that same blameless civilian passing through the same urban neighborhood will be the victim of a crime.
The biggest duh-story of the past several years that somehow remains less than perfectly apparent to many muddle-headed blatherers today is that the far greater danger all of us face is from criminals, not from cops. But because that simple truism would tend to reverse the racial polarity of the media’s favored narrative, this is not a question facts and science can be brought into the picture to address. To do so would dispel the hysterical conspiracy theories on the Left—“systemic,” “institutional” and/or “structural” racism, “white supremacy” and so forth—that are the equivalent of Trump’s election fraud and his supporters’ Q-Anon conspiracies on the Right.