Book Review: The Brave and the Bold, Volume 3 of “The Hidden Truth”

(Previously: A review of the second book in the series, A Rambling Wreck. A bit about the first volume, The Hidden Truth, in the post The Right Sort of Reactionary Fiction)

Producing a good novel is hard. Producing a better sequel is harder (I’m in the middle of trying; trust me). While I very much enjoyed and favorably reviewed the first two books in Hans Schantz’s Hidden Truth series, it turns out the best was yet to come. The Brave and the Bold is bigger and, well, bolder. It’s a precisely aimed missile that hits its targets in the x-ring, and provides the reader a hell of a good time getting there.

The Brave and the Bold is not just an excellent continuation, it represents a big step in the evolution of the author and his Hero, Peter Burdell, now more a man than a youth transitioning to adulthood. In this third volume he operates more independently, much of the time without his friend/sidekick Amit, his mentors or his Uncle Rob to advise him. Deep in the enemy camp, he must negotiate with ambiguous allies and make big decisions on his own. The maturing of his character is deftly and subtly handled, and is one of the delights of the book.

The Brave and the Bold is beautifully crafted, bigger and longer than the first two books in the series, but a smoothly unified whole. All of us would hope that we would grow as writers over time. Schantz has grown and developed as a writer, even as his character Peter Burdell has matured. As before, there are nicely integrated bits of science and engineering and a humorous skewering of the Social Justice sacred cows of our time; but there’s an increase of seriousness, of urgency in the Brave and the Bold as Pete has to balance serious risks, the risks of working with possibly questionable allies and getting himself and those he values hurt or killed, to stop an evil organization with big plans to transform the world in a way that he and the reader would certainly find unendurable.

The bulk of the action takes place on (in)famous Jekyll Island, Georgia, where, as The Fed officially acknowledges, “A secret gathering…in 1910 laid the foundations for the Federal Reserve System.”

jekyll-map

It’s the things not on the map–the secret tunnels, the underground vaults and the…things that lie within them that made for extra fascination for this reader. There is a wondeful sense of place to the action on Jekyll Island. I presume the author must have visited and documented the setting to be able to pull this off. It’s a wonderful achievement.

jekyll2.jpg

Typical NWO Outpost

The Grand Conspiracy being hatched in this beautiful setting this time is much, much grander than a US central bank–though perhaps the Fed was just a step along the path to what the “Civic Circle” has in mind.

The battle to stop that plan from coming to fruition is a thrilling, satisfying and epic conclusion to an excellent book. Luckily for his readers, Schantz has indicated that if The Brave and the Bold gets to 100 Amazon reviews, he’ll deliver us the next volume within a year. So buy and read the book, and review it. It’s an entertaining thriller that reflects the values that (I’m assuming if you’ve read this far) you and I hold dear.

Meanwhile, I understand that Dr. Schantz is working on a popular physics book with some ideas about how to resolve the so-called “paradoxes” of quantum mechanics.

Yes, please.

Advertisements

Book Review: Love in the Age of Dispossession by Loretta Malakie

Love in the Age of Dispossession by Loretta Malakie

This is a deceptive book.

Oh, it delivers what it promises, and more, but in the beginning there’s a little essay about the decline of rural America, farm country (in this case, Upstate New York) and Le Grande Remplacement. Then for a while it seems to be a Generation X teen romance. A high school Goth girl is sitting on a park bench in a small town in Upstate New York:

“It’s 1993, and when a boy loved a girl he made her a mixtape.”

Catherine “Kitty” Burnes is an Irish-Catholic wannabe rebel who’s been accepted at Ivy League schools, but there’s a sense that Something Is Not Right with her world. The first part of the novel subtly hints at the coming troubles, the emptying and degradation of small town America and the great White die-off that would follow. But on first reading you might think it’s something else, an almost photo-realistic description of one young American woman’s life, upwardly mobile, out of the sticks and away from the hicks and on to New York City, the vibrancy and the multiculturalism and the thousand different ethnic restaurants. The media ecology around her, and us, relentlessly tells us this is what we want, the pinnacle: Freedom! Freedom from, from neighbors who know your business, your stupid high school friends and limits on your “self-expression” and, most of all, freedom to have sex when you want, with who you want, without pain or fear or guilt. By the time Kitty arrives to live as an adult in New York the relentless propaganda for Erica Jong’s Zipless F*** is well into its second generation. And instead of fulfillment, it delivers anomie.

The sequence of events here is a deadpan, devastating parody of what Cosmopolitan and Sex and the City and a score of network comedies have sold to rest of America as The Good Life: Kitty goes to Cornell, Kitty goes to Europe (though we read only the barest details of her time there), Kitty goes to New York City, Kitty goes to law school and clerks for a federal judge. And none of it satisfies or fulfills or brings any real happiness, because she’s detached, from her people and her nature as a woman. She knows something is wrong. Always something is missing.

It’s tribe that’s missing, the home ground, people who know you, knew you as a towheaded child and still see that sun-kissed hair when you pass them on the street as an adult, people who know what to expect from you. New York is the land of constant, wearing uncertainty, except for those for whom it is the home ground.

Ms. Malakie delivers a surprisingly complete and colorful picture of those for whom the city is home ground, especially the Orthodox Jews that Kitty ends up spending time with. She captures the essence of their comfort with each other and the city. For a time, during law school and after, Kitty associates with them almost as a substitute family, though eventually the inherently unsatisfactory nature of these relationships comes home to roost. The novel also has two vividly drawn, college-educated black New Yorkers and one black affirmative action nightmare. As unrepresentative as former may be of the average, they lend a certain verisimilitude to work life in the city.

The art of the book is in the building; building complexity as Kitty grows up, building realization of the existential crisis she and her people are facing. The last section, which could only be spoiled by any explicit description of events, builds toward Kitty’s realization of her true nature and of what can redeem her, and us.

The novel has some imperfections that a good editor would have caught. There is some rather heavy-handed foreshadowing earlier in the book that could have been cut, and also an instance of the third-person narrator being an “I.” There’s one paragraph that looks to have got mangled in processing. These imperfections are far outweighed by the skillful, gradual increase in tension and depth as the story unfolds, and a moving last section that delivers on the book’s premises and the promises the reader has come to expect from what came before.

Love in the Age of Dispossession subtly and movingly shows the pathologies of feminism, modernism and materialism. More importantly, it artfully discovers and describes the life-affirming alternative.

Love in the Age of Dispossession is available on Amazon

Loretta Malakie tweets @lorettatheprole

Neovictorian is the author of Sanity, a Novel.

“The Powers of the Earth” by Travis J. I. Corcoran–a Review and an Appreciation

About a year ago I opined on The Right Sort of Reactionary Fiction here, while I was in the middle of writing Sanity. As I wrote then:

What’s needed is an interesting story and interesting characters. What’s needed is what any good novel needs, making the reader care about what happens next…What I’ve found is that if you just write the story, there are plenty of opportunities to slip the Dark Enlightenment and the Red Pill and whatever other points you want to make in as a natural part of the narrative.

I just finished Travis J. I. Corcoran’s The Powers of the Earth, and while it’s not necessarily, precisely DE/RP, it’s…a great book. It’s great as “hard” sci-fi, it’s great as satire on Political Correctness and the various idiocies of Current Year and politicians and DC and socialism. But what makes it more than good is the way these strands come together in a great, big story, a story in which the reader an hardly wait to find out what happens next.

I’ve read thousands of novels, friends. This is the Real Deal.

I’ll let the Author explain his own plot (from the Amazon description):

Earth in 2064 is politically corrupt and in economic decline. The Long Depression has dragged on for 56 years, and the Bureau of Sustainable Research is hard at work making sure that no new technologies disrupt the planned economy. Ten years ago a band of malcontents, dreamers, and libertarian radicals bolted privately-developed anti-gravity drives onto rusty sea-going cargo ships, loaded them to the gills with 20th-century tunnel-boring machines and earthmoving equipment, and set sail – for the Moon.

There, they built their retreat. A lunar underground border-town, fit to rival Ayn Rand’s ‘Galt’s Gulch’, with American capitalists, Mexican hydroponic farmers, and Vietnamese space-suit mechanics – this is the city of Aristillus.

There’s a problem, though: the economic decline of Earth under a command-and-control economy is causing trouble for the political powers-that-be in Washington DC and elsewhere. To shore up their positions they need slap down the lunar expats and seize the gold they’ve been mining. The conflicts start small, but rapidly escalate.

Yes, there will be fighting.

The thing I’d point out, though, is just how vivid are the characters. They’re masterfully built up so that shortly after the first chapters I cared about them. And some of the most interesting and memorable characters are Dogs, with a capital “D”–I won’t say too much about them, except Dogs are people too…

I am a great admirer of Robert Heinlein’s work and anyone who’s read Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress will soon realize The Powers of the Earth has some interesting echos of it. Corcoran even brings them up himself, with characters discussing TMIAHM within the book. He manages to pull off exploring some of the same themes as Heinlein, giving tribute to Heinlein but taking things in new (and often surprising) directions. This is not rehashed Heinlein, nor is it really Galt’s Gulch on the Moon–though it has some elements of Atlas Shrugged, too (especially Rand’s gift for creating Bad Guys and Gals That Work for the Government).

The Powers of the Earth is a vivid, riveting page-turner that had me caring a great deal about its characters, and what’s going to happen next. And it ends on the perfect cliffhanger…luckily the second book Causes of Separation is already loaded, so I’m going to go find out.

Sanity – a Novel is Published

It took longer than gestating a real baby, but I published the novel yesterday, for Kindle only so far. The print version requires a lot more work to get right, but there will be one within the week–I personally like to read books.

The eminent Nick B. Steves was an early reader and I trust he won’t mind me quoting a bit of his response:

I had the chance to read in on a flight to Phoenix. It was dynamite. Couldn’t put it down…

SANITY is soaked in an anti-modernist critique that long-time lurkers will find as comfortable as an old shoe. It doesn’t preach, but rather assumes the sale. For those who’ve drunk deeply at the NRx water-cooler, there will be many cleverly hidden Easter Eggs.

I previously posted about the process of writing and the part fiction could play in making our culture and society less worser. I hope you will buy and read the book and if so inclined, review it.

I’ll have more to say about the details soon. One more time:

Sanity – a Novel

 

Steelmanning Liberalism (I)

I’ve loved the term “steelmanning” ever since I first read it, somewhere in Slate Star Codex. Scott Alexander seems to have used the term many, many times and I don’t know exactly in which piece I first saw it, but credit where credit is due.

I was reminded of it again a few days ago when the estimable Geoffrey Miller pointed out that Conor Frieders… okay, I don’t want to get into that, or him. Let’s just leave it that the tweet inspired me to at last begin a post I’ve been contemplating for some time:

Steelmanning Liberalism

As to what liberalism is, what it is exactly that we’re steelmanning here, let’s refer to La Wik, for its universalism (heh):

Liberalism is a political philosophy or worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally they support ideas and programmes such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, free markets, civil rights, democratic societies, secular governments, gender equality and international cooperation

I’m sure that my target demographic here experiences a certain distaste, perhaps even physical revulsion to “Liberalism” because for the discerning, the term conjures up images like this:

gp

Or perhaps this:slt

These are the seeming fruits of liberalism, and by their fruits ye shall know them; all of us experiencing sanity feel a natural and healthy revulsion at such things. But let’s be honest. These are the strawmen of liberalism, or, perhaps one could say, merely the products of mental illness. What are the very best arguments for liberalism? What are the Steelmen?

I identify four, in descending order of importance:

  1. Liberalism prevents or makes very unlikely destructive war between nation-states
  2. Liberalism prevents or makes very unlikely civil war within nation-states
  3. Liberalism in general prohibits and discourages the killing of individual humans
  4. Liberalism provides the maximum opportunity for individual humans to develop their “human potential”

Today, we focus on (1). Obviously if this were true,  it would be a powerful argument that everyone, everywhere should adopt a liberal political system. War does not further good “reactionary” values like strong families with a committed father and mother in their complementary roles, like subsidiarity, like voluntarism and local control and craftsmanship. War produces single moms and orphans, national emergency governments running roughshod over all forms of local outlook and control, the involuntary military draft and mass production of material that is not for construction and admiration but for the express purpose of destruction and dealing death.

The notion that “Democracies don’t fight each other” was expressed by George W. Bush in 2004 and by his almost equally liberal predecessor Bill Clinton in 1994, but as helpfully pointed out by the BBC:

Immanuel Kant’s Perpetual Peace, [was] published in 1795. Kant’s theory is that democratic leaders are restrained by the resistance of their people to bearing the costs and deaths of war. And a democratic culture of negotiation and conciliation, plus the hurdles to taking swift action, favours peace.

For simplicity we here use “democracy” and “liberalism” interchangeably. In Current Year, all significant “liberal” regimes are democracies, whether parliamentary or American-style, and all actual “democratic” systems (those with voting and a regular, peaceful transfer of state power) are considered “liberal” under the definition above. The fact that a number ill-liberal nations hold sham elections is, in itself, significant. The fact that many “democracies” still have (powerless) monarchies is irrelevant. Luxembourg is as cute as a button; we will discuss it no further, unless it goes to war.

Now, it’s possible to dispute whether, in fact, liberal regimes or democracies have never, ever, gone to war with each other; the Guardian provides a helpful summary of possible exceptions. The best the good Professor could come up with was the (maybe, possibly) the War of 1812 and the Peloponnesian War.

Athens’s attack on Syracuse refutes the hypothesis, yet it is questionable whether the Athenians knew that Syracuse possessed a democratic polity or whether the rule of democratic peace applies to ancient warlike republics.

Color me unconvinced. One could argue that the US-Mexican War of 1846-8 qualifies, but the Mexican government in 1846 wasn’t liberal, or indeed outside of Mexico City much of anything but a mess. So I’m not buying. Some fools try to claim that Hitler was “elected” (he was appointed Chancellor). Germany was a democracy in 1933. Anyone want to make the case that it was still in 1939?

The American Civil War of 1861-5 belongs to Part II.

Liberalism has, arguably, been around as an important idea since Locke and other thinkers of the 17th century (see Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle for a great fictional treatment of the era). Modern liberal political regimes have been around since 1776. They have steadily increased in numbers since then, and they’ve not gone to war with each other. If all nation-states were liberal in construction, war would be extinct, or very, very rare.

This is the most important fruit of liberalism.

Consider it Steelmanned, Part I.

How Scientology Could School the Neoreaction

A couple of years back I wrote a piece at The Mitrailleuse, Opus Dei Could School the Neoreaction, of which the eminent Nick. B. Steves wrote, “He gets very much very right.”  High praise.

Recently I read Anti-Puritan’s post Scientology, training routines, and the post-rationalization of abuse and it occurred to me that Scientology also might “school” the NRx and that my personal knowledge-set made me the man to write about it. As I commented:

 I have a good deal of knowledge of Scientology, and a somewhat different take on the results of these exercises. Enough to finally do a new post on my own blog, which will appear in a day or two.

As that was approximately 26 days ago, let’s just say that I was pondering all this time about the right approach.

Ars longa est.

Continue reading

America 3.0, Richard Fernandez and Prophets Without Honor

Outside in pointed us to this column by Richard Fernandez (nee “Wretchard”) from the other day.

“Opportunity”:

If people go their separate ways such a divorce would be an astonishing defeat for the Left. For the first time since 1917 it would be giving up its claim to guide the entire in order to settle for parts.  As late as 2016 it was possible to imagine an America led to a “progressive” future by Hillary Clinton;  an EU guiding all of Europe to a similar destiny and the G20 taking the whole world to the same destination.  Indeed everyone told they were fated to follow an Arc of History.  Yet after Brexit, Trump and G-Zero it is no longer possible to visualize this outcome.  A blue-red division would confirm the failure to create a “progressive” world. No conceivable rollback will ever put Humpty Dumpty together again.

While this would be bad for the political ambitions of the Left, the people on the Left may actually benefit.  The alternative to the gloom doom scenario is to recognize that we may in fact be on a pathway to a new American century, a new epoch of world prosperity.  Except that it will be a different America and a different globe.

As I commented, this reminded me of the book America 3.0 by James Bennett (The Anglosphere Challenge) and Michael Lotus (aka “Lexington Green”).

I think it’s a good and informative read, but if you have no desire to get the book, the authors published an excerpt/summary at American Enterprise Institute.

America 3.0 came out over four years ago, before I was fully “NRx” but well on my way, and I think I first heard of it on Instapundit. Glenn Reynolds (who also wrote the preface) did a number of positive posts on the book. I started writing about it on a previous blog, but at the time I was puzzled at how little traction the book was getting on the “Outer Right.” I wrote, I commented, and with one or two exceptions, the reaction was, “Meh.”

I wasn’t really sure why the negative reaction, or just plain lack of it, but three guesses; 1) Too “mainstream,” doesn’t fit into Moldbug’s worldview” (I’d been reading Moldbug for a year or so by mid-2013); 2) Too optimistic, “Don’t even try to tell me that Progs aren’t going to succeed at bringing on the Gotterdammerung! What fun will the future be without some shit burning down?” and, related; 3) Too unrealistic, “DC will never, ever give up a scintilla of power over states, localities and every grain of sand, and Boomers will never, ever take a benefit cut!”

Experience of the last 100 years is, indeed, enough to make one cynical and suspicious of optimism about the evolution of government, but I think to be fair to the authors of America 3.0 we should review a few of their specifics (from the introduction and Chapter 1, much of which is available free on the Amazon “look inside”):

America 2.0 was, in many ways, great in its day. But it is over. The technological and economic changes we foresee are already happening, or about to happen. The government sector is in a state of decay reminiscent of the Brezhnev period of the Soviet Union, with apparatchiks with no new ideas repeating the same clichés and the same failed policies, seemingly unaware that their system is doomed…

We have a long way to go before we replace the twentieth century state and economy with their successors. It is too early to pick an end date for America 2.0, which will only become apparent in hindsight…

NEW MORNING

It is 2040…The Social Payments Resolution Fund is still making payments to [Boomers] , but most of them had accepted the lump-sum termination payment of 2028 during the Third Fiscal Reform…

The new manufacturing revolution has been instrumental in keeping material wants cheap…New England (minus, of course, New Hampshire) was the first to set up a multistate authority to take over their portion of the federal health care system…

As a result of the Reforms, the United States now has 71 states, none of which have more than eight million inhabitants. These have arranged themselves into a series of state compacts, and special-purpose agreements between compacts, so that the Northeast and Great Lakes areas form a network with relatively high taxes and levels of government supplied social services…

The Texases, as they are now called, since they exercised their right to divide into five states, form their own compact…

[N]umerous shareware programs are available for the standard house-printing machines…

The war on drugs is long over…

Decentralization encourages the “Big Sort” as families seek out the kind of communities they want to live in…

I think that’s enough to give you the overview without copyright violation. It is optimistic, though the authors acknowledge that pain that will happen during the transition…a transition which in 2013 they claimed had begun to stir, and which I think is farther along in some ways than they may have anticipated, just four years on.

I hope you have the time and inclination to read the book, for there is certainly a lot more to it than in my overview. It’s funny, but recently I have several times on Twitter read something that moves me to recite the words of Jesus (Mark 6:4-6):

A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house.

It seems to me that Bennett and Lotus haven’t gotten the long-term honor that they merit from the various flavors of the Right: Patchwork, Tech-Cap, Traditionalist communities of the like-minded; all are explicit or implicit in America 3.0 and the authors give what I think are excellent historical, practical reasons for their vision of the future.

I think the book is prophetic. Perhaps the transitions will be messier and bloodier than the authors envision, but they deserve a lot more honor on the Right than they have gotten to date.

(I touched on these issues and this book in the early days of this blog in On Implementation and Possible NRx Territories: Alaska. I think those pieces have held up pretty well, despite being positively ancient in Internet Time.)