Preparing for WorldCon and Talking About Conservatism

Chaos Manor View, Sunday, August 14, 2016

Liberalism is a philosophy of consolation for the West as it commits suicide.

James Burnham

If a foreign government had imposed this system of education on the United States, we would rightfully consider it an act of war.

Glenn T. Seaborg, National Commission on Education, 1983



It’s late Sunday evening, and at o-dawn-thirty — actually well before dawn here at Chaos Manor – on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning I am off to WorldCon in Kansas City. I’ll be taking the Surface Pro as my mail system and in the off chance that I’ll have a bit of time I’ll have a ZenBook that has a keyboard I can use easily, but I doubt I’ll get any real work done. I might, but they’ve got me on a bunch of panels, I have business meetings, and lots of old friends to see, most of them for the first time since the stroke, and some I haven’t seen recovering from brain cancer. The chances of having time to work are low. I won’t be back until a week from Monday, so things may be thin here.

Worse, for this place, the preparations have eaten a lot of time. After all this is the first trip I’ve taken since the stroke. Yesterday and today was spent getting mu luggage out, emptying it of congealed lotions and other stuff that deteriorated over time, and locating what I will need on the trip. I have put in two closable garbage bags which ought to serve to contain the mountain of dirty laundry I am likely to accumulate, made up bags of pills for seven days – 14 bags, 7 morning and 7 night – and tried to anticipate any other special needs I’ll have. I’ll keep a log, and let you know if there are any adventures that ought to be shared.

We have reservations on Delta. My walker must be checked, but I can check it at the boarding gate, so I don’t need a wheelchair. I’ll manage to get on board with a cane. Alex and Michelle are coming, and Larry Niven, and Mike Donahue, so I’ve got a lot of companions, and don’t anticipate any problems.


Conservatism isn’t an ideology; Russell Kirk called his book “The Conservative Mind”, and when specifics were demanded he wrote a book for his times, A Program For Conservatives; not an ideology.

He was my mentor, but we were not in full agreement. I understand technology better than he did, and technology can be very disruptive; indeed that is my main difference with nearly all paleoconservative groups. I don’t hate technology. I welcome it. I have some sympathy for people who can only do mind-stultifying endlessly repetitive work, but I have more for those who have no choice but to do work they not only dislike, but despise. We all dislike some aspects of our work, but we should not hate it, and we we are all better off if no one is forced to spend his life at tasks he hates.  I embrace technology that liberates us from drudgery even if it robs some people of the only jobs they can do.

Example: a very long time ago I was set the task of reducing high turnover in the miniplug soldering department. Miniplugs were terribly important to airplanes – still are – and it was exacting, boring work. It took a while to train intelligent people to do the job, after which they soldered wires into plug connections. There were a lot of them on any given airplane, and hundreds of copies of each airplane were sold, each with dozens to hundreds of miniplugs. I was in human factors then, and not concerned with manufacturing, but I was also the only guy in the company with advanced psychology degrees, and someone thought of asking me to take a look at the problem, so I did.

Solved it too. The problem was that since getting the work exactly right was important, the job specification included reasonably high intelligence. It paid accordingly. But even for high pay, above average intelligent people soon got bored out of their minds doing the same meticulous task day after day. My solution was to hire retarded people. Not all of them could learn it, but most could; it wasn’t a difficult job, you just had to be meticulous, getting the right color wire soldered into the right pin or socket. Educable mentally retarded could learn it. For them it was a high paying job. It took no intelligence to get the right color to the right pin, just diligence. You could also hire EMR to be quality inspectors, and they didn’t cost much. The solderers got paid what skilled riveters did, and were proud of their work, as they should have been. They didn’t mind doing the same thing over and over again; they were proud to do it.

Of course miniplugs are soldered by robots now, and far fewer are needed because of LSIC. That’s progress, and it had to come.

I suppose you could call me a conservative who promotes high technology, but I retain a bit of nostalgia for work that the EMR can proudly do.


We will now get on with some comments on the nature of conservatism.


Ten Conservative Principles

Dear Jerry,

“I urge you to follow this link and read this. It shouldn’t take long.”

I reread them.  I was already well familiar with them, having subscribed to National Review in my late teen years in the mid-1970s.  You may recall that subscribers in those distant days received complimentary subscriptions to Dr. Kirk’s “University Bookman”

And unsubscribed from N-R in 1992 after Desert Storm when eighteen years of US Army service had already demonstrated to me that most of “Conservatism” as defined and continuously redefined by NR and WFB was arrant nonsense at best, with the remainder composed of equal portions of tawdry self-seeking careerism and cowardice.

Rereading these precepts now makes its more plain than ever they are mainly subjective and lacking in fixed anchor points.  Almost all of it could be offered without editing as a political philosophy suitable for Salafist Islam, Shi’ite Ayatollahs in Tehran or even the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah.   Here’s a good example:

“First, the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order. That order is made for man, and man is made for it: human nature is a constant, and moral truths are permanent.”

Without further definition, such the New Testament, this can mean anything or nothing.  Maybe the moral order is defined by the Koran, or the Babylonian Talmud, or the Kabbalah, or the Egyptian Book of the Dead.  It certainly had and has utterly no relationship to the America of the late 1940s when this idea was being formalized.

Principle Ten in particular is so lacking in specificity that it forms an entryway through which NASA crawler-transporter size liberal programs can and have slowly rumbled like juggernauts in the decades since Dr. Kirk’s post-World War II articulation of these supposedly timeless verities.

The Conservative defeat and surrender on point Eight – “voluntary community” – has been so thorough that contemporary “conservatives” at National Review joyfully sanction anyone even daring to mention it, let alone attempting to practice it.

In response I invite the ever dwindling band of “Principled Real Conservatives” – whoever they may be and imagine themselves to be – to consider this article by Dr. Paul Gottfried:

Best Wishes


I would have said Judao Christian ethics myself.  When I was young nearly every public ceremony had an invocation by a protestant minister and a benediction by a catholic priest although sometimes they switched places, and important ceremonies usually had a couple of each plus a rabbi.

You may or may not be aware that Sam Francis and I corresponded amicably, I have always found Distributism and Trust Busting important, and I opposed the First desert invasion headed by my West Point classmate. Why the hell did I care which set of thuggish enemies held Kuwait? Although if April Glaspie had done her job, Saddam would still be running Iraq and pounding Iran.

Ah well.

Jerry Pournelle

“You may or may not be aware that Sam Francis and I corresponded amicably”

I wasn’t specifically aware of it but I’m not surprised, either.  The paleocons were few enough in the 1990s I’m sure most of you kept in loose contact.   The seeds Francis and others planted have since grown into the “Alt-Right”, which is the only place on the Right that shows signs of vibrant intellectual life. 

“I have always found Distributism and Trust Busting important”

Distributism is far more practical now than when Belloc and Chesterton were articulating it in the very early 20th Century.  The trend of technology a century ago still greatly favored massive centralization of industrial and economic structures.  They were definitely far ahead of their time in some senses.  Hilaire Belloc’s “The Servile State” is a much underrated classic.  Its freely available online at Gutenberg and elsewhere.  Belloc foresaw our time far more clearly than virtually any of his contemporaries.  He joins a handful of far seers like Alexis de Tocqueville, who also clearly foresaw the dim outlines of the USSR ninety years in advance in the mid 1830s.  The raconteur and impoverished nobleman Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn was over a century late in his statement that “Democracy” in no way precluded a totalitarian dictatorship.  de Tocqueville clearly stated this in “Democracy in America” in 1836.

However, Distributism was never popular with the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy and it never will be.

Kirk probably reflected some influence from Belloc and Chesterton.  Unfortunately Distributism never occupied his and Conservatism’s central attention the way it should have. 

“For a nation is no stronger than the numerous little communities of which it is composed.”

This is an axiom.  The same thing is true of armies.  Unfortunately 20th Century “Conservatism” was almost content-free on means by which “numerous little communities” could be sustained and strengthened.

I didn’t know Russell Kirk, of course.  My perception at several removes is of a real “Christian gentleman” with aspirations to petty nobility.  An “eccentric antiquarian” who apparently hated automobiles, “electronic computers”, mega scaled universities and almost all other manifestations of the 20th Century would be another description.  He appears to have thought he would have been happier living in the early 18th Century, probably in one of the Habsburg dominions in central Europe.

Kirk’s home base on “Piety Hill” in the village of Mecosta Michigan is an area I know well.  The summers of my youth were spent in that latitude about 70 miles west around Ludington, Michigan, and also further north around Traverse Bay, Grayling, and the UP.  It is or ought to be impossible to virtually tour these towns on Google Street without a deep sense of mourning for the stasis and slow decay to which “Free Trade” and the media monopolies have subjected them and wide swaths of the Midwest. 

Your friend Greg Cochran (and the rest of the Alt-Right) are precisely correct.  The 21st Century is about clan, tribe and identity.  The Neocons, more accurately labeled NeoCohens, never lost sight of this.   I think anyone who refuses to deal with this will be well advised to catch the next trip back to 1985 or 1955 on Doc Brown’s DeLorean Time Machine. 


Russell and I disagreed on technology; I argued that as its advance was inevitable, and with that advance came military power, we had no choice but to embrace it. But of course I was an associate of Possony and coauthor of Strategy of Technology and I took the Cold War very seriously.

I think Marx was right in saying that capitalism inevitably concentrates more and more wealth into fewer and fewer hands, and David McCord Wright was correct in his analysis of the importance of trust busting rather that building bureaucracies to control that. But then I am not an ideologue, just an old operations research man.



Dear Jerry,

First, I don’t expect you to publish any of this.  The “Purge” of professional writers that Paul Gottfried documents is very real, and extends well past “Conservatism” to any professionally published writer who strays off the strictly defined reservation of acceptable thought.  I know you know this.  I think you are hoping that your oeuvre will provide Mrs. Pournelle and your other heirs with some continuing income.

Nor do I think it matters in the Big Scheme of things.  The “USA” is already as dead as door nail and merely awaits interment, decent or otherwise.  And I’m also grateful to God that I grasped the essential outlines of this well before 9-11-01.  Grasped well enough to begin a non-stop lecture to three then middle school aged kids on 9-12-01:  “Not your war!”  “Not your people!”  “Stay out!!”  “Follow the example of the Clinton and Bush daughters (ouch)”.

I have no regrets whatsoever.  In the alternative I offer Col Andrew Bacevich, US Army Retired.  He kept his respectibilities.  And as a consequence of this lieutenant son has been stone cold dead for 13 years now.  “Wasted” as they used to say in Vietnam.  The Colonel himself wanders from internet pillar to post in ashes and sackcloth attempting penance and expiation.  None of which will ever return his son to life.  No thanks.  I prefer my way, determined in advance of the event.

So mostly I’m doing this for my own edification.  I ceased thinking of myself as a “Conservative” in the mid 1990s when I terminated my NR subscription and switched my registration from Republican to Independent.  If you find any value in it, good enough.  My present beliefs are an amalgam of “Alt-Right”, Jeffersonian-Jacksonian ideas on yeomanry and the economic ideas of the Catholic Distributists like Hilare Belloc and E.F. Schumacher.  Plus a component of white separatism or white nationalism.  So no, I don’t despair.  I ceased to despair for the USA when I said “goodbye to all that” a long time ago.  And I’m even somewhat optimistic for my family.  “God and family”.  So-called “country” fell out along the way.

My remaining purpose is to begin a post-mortem on an intellectual Movement that has utterly failed the nominal Base to which it was directed in 1953.   I don’t even propose to debate the fact of this epic failure.  The present condition of the Supreme Court and the enduring revolution that will occur there should Hillary enter the White House are enough evidence in themselves.  The dwindling number of Brian P’s can continue to “double down” on Free Trade and Minority Outreach until they’re cleaned out by the rigged casino they’re playing in, a bustout that will occur very soon now.

“Perhaps it would be well, most of the time, to use this word “conservative” as an adjective chiefly. For there exists no Model Conservative, and conservatism is the negation of ideology: it is a state of mind, a type of character, a way of looking at the civil social order.  The attitude we call conservatism is sustained by a body of sentiments, rather than by a system of ideological dogmata. It is almost true that a conservative may be defined as a person who thinks himself such. The conservative movement or body of opinion can accommodate a considerable diversity of views on a good many subjects, there being no Test Act or Thirty-Nine Articles of the conservative creed.”

Translated into action “where the rubber hits the road”, this broadly means we can have pro-abortion and anti-abortion “conservatives” (hereinafter “Cons”); pro and anti Hate Speech Code Cons, pro and anti Sodomite Liberation Cons, pro and anti gun control or even outright gun ban Cons, pro and anti Israel Uber Alles Cons (an idea however denied by ‘Neocons’ like David Frum), pro and anti racial discrimination directed exclusively against whites, pro and anti Free Trade cons, etc etc.  This in fact is the position that Jonah Goldberg at National Review maintains and which prevails in the GOPe.   Examined at the root source it increasingly appears that modern post World War II Conservatism was always about “whom”, not “what”.  This is confirmed by the essentially policy free Republican primaries we’ve experienced from 1968 until roughly this year.

Those rank and file “Conservatives” upset by their never ending betrayal by GOPe types and “RINOs” on subjects like abortion, gun control and immigration need look no further than here for the source explanation.  Alternately they can “double down”, which a great many of the ever diminishing numbers of True Believers do.

“In essence, the conservative person is simply one who finds the permanent things more pleasing than Chaos and Old Night. (Yet conservatives know, with Burke,”

Burke.  i.e. Edmund Burke, Anglo-Irish Tory and likely crypto-Catholic.  This is one of the biggest ‘foreign parts’ I alluded to previously.  I have found zero point zero evidence that Burke exerted the slightest influence on any of the “Founding Fathers”, roughly defined as the signatories of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.  On the contrary, it is known that Edmund Burke redistributed in London pamphlets authored by Thomas Jefferson.  Influence was clearly running the opposite direction!  The sources of Kirk’s and modern Conservatism’s Edmund Burke Fetish is therefore a topic of some interest.  Perhaps it arose from Russell Kirk’s doctoral studies at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.  Perhaps it arose from cosmopolitan William F Buckley own lack of connection to flyover country in his youth.  

Equally mysterious is Conservatism’s general suppression of Thomas Jefferson.  At least mysterious until Jefferson is actually read.

that healthy “change is the means of our preservation.”) A people’s historic continuity of experience, says the conservative, offers a guide to policy far better than the abstract designs of coffee-house philosophers. But of course there is more to the conservative persuasion than this general attitude.

At this point in history we can therefore describe as “Conservative” a Big Government Liberal who absolutely hates working class white people and loves the barely disguised Clausus Numerous enacted against all white people under the rubric of Affirmative Action, and thinks it should continue until the white birth rate drops to zero.  This is likely why repellent white hating creatures like the grotesquely obese Kevin Williamson thrive at National Review.   Such a person clearly wants to preserve the present ‘permanent’ order.

“First, the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order. That order is made for man, and man is made for it: human nature is a constant, and moral truths are permanent.”

This is almost directly contradictory to Kirk’s introduction.  But as George Orwell had already explained in 1948 in “1984”, all Goodthinkers must learn to master the art of Doublethink.  And in the absence of any absolute definition of that Moral Order – which Kirk never provides in this essay –  this is just as relative as everything else before and after.  One is left to pick and choose which Holy Writ one subscribes to, or simply reject them all and believe in nothing.  This surely explains the easy editorial cohabitation at National Review of the many Catholics, Jews, atheists and agnostics who populated its editorial ranks, lightly salted with a few lapsing Protestants enroute to their own Catholic conversions.  Russell Kirk himself, for example.

Among the original Founding Fathers (signers of the Declaration of Independence or Constitution who numbered 56 + 39) I’ve found exactly three Catholics.  Two were members of the Carroll family of Maryland, plus Thomas Fitzsimmons.  There were no Jews, no avowed atheists and no Muslims. 

Second, the conservative adheres to custom, convention, and continuity. It is old custom that enables people to live together peaceably; the destroyers of custom demolish more than they know or desire. It is through convention—a word much abused in our time—that we contrive to avoid perpetual disputes about rights and duties: law at base is a body of conventions. Continuity is the means of linking generation to generation; it matters as much for society as it does for the individual; without it, life is meaningless. When successful revolutionaries have effaced old customs, derided old conventions, and broken the continuity of social institutions—why, presently they discover the necessity of establishing fresh customs, conventions, and continuity; but that process is painful and slow; and the new social order that eventually emerges may be much inferior to the old order that radicals overthrew in their zeal for the Earthly Paradise.

Conservatives are champions of custom, convention, and continuity because they prefer the devil they know to the devil they don’t know. Order and justice and freedom,

In practice in the Year of Our Lord 2016 this means no change in: 1) the present system of higher education (a position being actively advocated by a “conservative” here:, 2) untrammeled Free Trade irregardless of the demonstrated destructiveness of this ,3)  the open subversion of the immigration laws in an effort to “elect a new people”, 4) codified anti-white racial discrimination in the form of Affirmative Action and other measures, 5) the rapacious anti-white male hate expressed in contemporary family law, 6) our present military deployments,  etc etc etc

Fifth, conservatives pay attention to the principle of variety. They feel affection for the proliferating intricacy of long-established social institutions and modes of life, as distinguished from the narrowing uniformity and deadening egalitarianism of radical systems. For the preservation of a healthy diversity in any civilization, there must survive orders and classes, differences in material condition, and many sorts of inequality.

No Real Conservative anywhere has any remaining reason to complain of the Diversity of having hordes of illiterate Somalian migrants injected into their communities.  Or of other similar methods by which anti-white race haters are “rubbing their faces in it”, as the British Labor activists said of their immigration surge.

“Eighth, conservatives uphold voluntary community, quite as they oppose involuntary collectivism.”

If this means anything it means the right to discriminate on the basis of race, religion, national origin and gender in one’s personal, professional and commercial relations.  But all of Modern Conservatism long ago ran away from this principle.  Conservatism now enthusiastically joins “the Left” in instinctively persecuting anyone taking this matter up.  In the interests of intellectual honesty “Eighth” should  be replaced with <deleted>

“For a nation is no stronger than the numerous little communities of which it is composed.”

There no longer is any ‘nation’, which the Bible and I both define as groups of genetically related people of reasonable closeness.  There are simply regions of increasingly atomized Walmart consumers going to and fro as they trundle cheaply made Free Trade goods back to their Federal Reserve System mortgage crushed “homes”.   These cannot be described as “communities” by any stretch unless this word’s definition is devalued to only mean an area where residential dwellings stand in close proximity to each other.   Nor is this is accidental in my view.  “Divid et impera” is an ancient and effective practice for neutralizing potential political opposition to one’s activities and goals.

But I absolutely subscribe to this idea in general.  This is why I’m now a Jeffersonian-Jacksonian Distributist rather than a “conservative”.  And I’m also favorable to aspects of E.F. Schumacher’s “Small is Beautiful”.  On this account I have a question.  Had you read this book at the time you condemned it in “A Step Further Out”?  It wasn’t until later that I discovered E.F. Schumacher’s brother-in-law was Werner von Heisenberg. 

Best Wishes,


I reject Schumacher as an ideologue; I embrace technology. I also understand that it cam be disruptive, particularly if unrestrained, one of my many objections to Free Trade as we practice it. Technological progress should be used properly which means it should not be an instrument of blind and unrestrained “progress.”

At the same time I reject Federal Regulation as a means of focusing technology. Building a powerful bureaucracy is almost never the answer, even though bureaucracy is the only tool governments have in many situations. I prefer many bureaucracies to one Federal one. Which means I would leave many regulatory matters to the States; let them compete. Some will prefer unrestricted growth, but others will not, and stability at least has a chance in that situation.

Actually. I would leave a great many matters to the states, including “growth”. We are obsessed with growth, when many people would prefer a bit more stability; companies that make high quality goods and sell them at a small profit, and don’t try to grow at super rapid sates. But this was once a nation of states.

But that’s another discussion, as is distributism (as opposed to growing state bureaucracies with high taxes as a means of diminishing inequalities). Again a matter for another time.






Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.



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