Neronian Ruling Class Fiddles While West Burns
Above, Nero fiddles while Rome burns. We in the West are led by a claque of Neros.
Look, I don't like that Russia invaded Ukraine, and I don't like that they are succeeding in their aggression. But they have won this thing. Why? Because the West cannot afford to continue this proxy war with Moscow. Item:
The other day, a major energy supplier in Vienna announced that it is facing the prospect of bankruptcy over losses on energy futures. And now, here in late August, another European gas monolith teeters:
In Poland, homeowners are lined up in their cars for days, hoping to buy enough coal to last the winter. Excerpt:
Artur's household is one of the nearly 4 million in Poland that rely on coal for heating (granted, these households are probably in better shape than the ones relying on nat gas whose price is rising by 10-20% every day and is now almost literally in the stratosphere) and now face shortages and price hikes, after Poland and the European Union imposed an embargo on Russian coal following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine in February. Poland banned purchases with an immediate effect in April, while the bloc mandated fading them out by August.
While Poland produces over 50 million tonnes from its own mines every year, imported coal, much of it from Russia, is a household staple because of competitive prices and the fact that Russian coal is sold in lumps more suitable for home use.
Soaring demand has forced Bogdanka and other state-controlled mines to ration sales or offer the fuel to individual buyers via online platforms, in limited amounts. Artur, who did not want to give his full name, said he had collected paperwork from his extended family in the hope of picking up all their fuel allocations at once.
Yesterday in Rome, I talked to a couple of Poles who are terrified of the coming winter. If you are Polish and have the possibility of burning firewood, you are stocking up on it. But very many Poles do not. Nor can they burn coal in their flats for heat. What are they going to do? They're not sure.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Russia is rolling in cash from selling oil and gas in this current market. David "Spengler" Goldman states the obvious -- which is by no means obvious to European and American leaders, but which is already becoming painfully clear to ordinary Europeans:
As rich as the West is, it can't keep its people warm in the winter by burning cash. And so, European households are now being forced to ask if freezing in the dark for Ukraine is something they really want to do. This is not going to happen to Americans -- but you should think about how you would react if this were you, and your elderly parents, and your kids. Yes, Putin is an SOB, but this is the real world.
Meanwhile, in today's Wall Street Journal:
The war in Ukraine has depleted American stocks of some types of ammunition and the Pentagon has been slow to replenish its arsenal, sparking concerns among U.S. officials that American military readiness could be jeopardized by the shortage.
It might be worth it if we stood a chance of prevailing against the Russians. But we don't. They are fighting on what they believe is their own territory. Russia's a big country, and it's making a ton of money selling gas and oil in this distorted market created by Western sanctions. It by no means insults Ukrainian valor, which is considerable, to point out that they simply do not have the resources to prevail.
Let's look at Iraq, where the Green Zone was overrun by supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric:
"Democracy! Whiskey! Sexy!" 'Memba that? I do. George W. Bush and his government led the United States into this catastrophe. We spent blood and vast sums of treasure for this. Because see, we are America, we are the West, and as Karl Rove told the New York Times on background back in 2004, "We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality."
The Taliban would like to say something about that. Somebody call them at government HQ in Kabul. Muqtada al-Sadr would like to add to the conversation. And above all, Russia would like to comment.
Never, ever forget who has caused these catastrophes: the ruling class of most Western countries (Hungary is a notable exception). It was the United States leadership -- primarily the Republicans, but most Democrats went along -- that led us into the humiliating defeats in Afghanistan and Iraq. (I don't have any time for Republican partisans today who blame Biden for the shitshow of Afghanistan; I'm happy to give him grief, but we can't forget that Afghanistan was unwinnable, if by "winnable" we mean establishing a stable liberal democracy.) It is the Biden Administration, aided by Republicans in the Senate, that has been pouring money and weaponry into Ukraine, and it is the US political leadership, as well as the European Union leadership, that has pressed this catastrophic policy of energy sanctions on Russia -- a policy that is now going to immiserate Europeans this winter, and destroy their economies.
I can't stress this strongly enough to American readers: this is really happening in Europe. What if you were facing the winter with the prospect of rolling blackouts, not knowing if you will be able to heat your home or cook your food? What if you were facing the prospect of economic collapse taking your job away? What if your small business -- or the factory where you work -- is going to have to close because it can't afford energy? That's happening here in Europe. It's not wild speculation: this is a reality bearing down on Europe like a freight train.
None of it justifies what Vladimir Putin has done and is doing in Ukraine. But it does reveal, and reveal in a very harsh way, the limits of Western idealism and wishful thinking.
Western strategy in this war is based on four pillars. It is a sensible strategy on paper, and perhaps even has numbers to back it up. The first was that Ukraine cannot win a war against Russia on its own, but it can do so with training from the Anglo-Saxons and with NATO weapons. That was the first claim.
The second strategic claim was that sanctions would weaken Russia and destabilise the leadership in Moscow.
The third strategic element was that – although they would also affect us – we would be able to deal with the economic consequences of the sanctions, so that they would be hurt more and we would be hurt less.
And the fourth strategic consideration was that the world would line up behind us, because we were in the right.
As a result of this excellent strategy, however, today the situation is that we are sitting in a car with four flat tyres. It is absolutely clear that the war cannot be won like this.
The Ukrainians will never win a war against Russia with American training and weapons. This is simply because the Russian army has asymmetric superiority.
The second fact that we must face up to is that the sanctions are not destabilising Moscow.
The third is that Europe is in trouble: economic trouble, but also political trouble, with governments falling like dominoes. Just since the outbreak of the war, the British, the Italian, the Bulgarian and the Estonian governments have fallen. And autumn is still ahead of us. The big price rise came in June, when energy prices doubled. The effects of this on people’s lives, which are creating discontent, are only just beginning to arrive, and we have already lost four governments.
And finally, the world is not only not with us, it is demonstrably not with us. Historically the Americans have had the ability to pick out what they identify as an evil empire and to call on the world to stand on the right side of history – a phrase which bothers us a little, as this is what the communists always said. This ability that the Americans used to have of getting everyone on the right side of the world and of history, and then the world obeying them, is something which has now disappeared. Most of the world is demonstrably not on that side: not the Chinese, the Indians, the Brazilians, South Africa, the Arab world, nor Africa. A large part of the world simply refuses to take part in this war, not because they believe that the West is on the wrong side, but because for them there is more to the world than this war, and they have their own problems that they are wrestling with and want to solve. It may well be that this war will be the one that demonstrably puts an end to that form of Western ascendancy which has been able to employ various means to create world unity against certain actors on a particular chosen issue. That era is coming to an end and, as they say in the bombastic language of politics, a multipolar world order is now knocking on our door.
Did you read any of this in the United States? I bet not. The only thing the US media cared about was Orban's remarks about how Europe doesn't need to be "mixed-race" (by which he meant that members of the Islamic nation should not be imported into Europe). It's insane. Here was a European leader sounding the alarm that the West was losing this war, was walking off the cliff, and explaining why -- but the only thing our idiotic media class cared about was a tossed-aside comment that it misinterpreted. This is what happens when the media has been ideologically captured, and when journalists care more about managing the Narrative than reporting about things that matter in the real world.
Do you get it? Do you see how we are being lied to? Do you see what our political leaders -- Democrats and Republicans both -- and in the media, and in cultural institutions, are doing to us?
You might laugh, but I mean this: there is a clear connection between the lies that our media and our ruling class tell us all, and themselves, about the Ukraine war, and the lies they tell themselves and the rest of us about transgenderism and racism. Over the past few days, the very popular Twitter account Libs Of Tik Tok was kicked off of Twitter because Chaya Raichik, who runs it, does not believe the lies that children's hospitals around the country are telling about whether or not they are mutilating minor children with "gender confirmation" surgeries. What got her booted was that she posted audio of having phoned the Children's Hospital of Washington, pretending to be the parent of a dysphoric 16-year-old, and asked if they perform "gender-affirming" hysterectomies on children. Two employees -- two! -- said yes, they do. Raichik posted the audio. Twitter kicked her off for telling the damn truth, using the words of the hospital's own employees!
The rot is very, very deep. When the lies can no longer be sustained, it's all going to fall apart. Over the weekend in Rome, I spoke to a French person who told me that her family and a number of their neighbors have started making concrete plans to support themselves and each other through the coming severe crisis. Nobody trusts the government anymore. They know that they are on their own -- that their government is filled with liars who prefer to defend the progressive Narrative instead of the concrete interests of the French people.
We are somewhat insulated from this in America because we don't face the hideous energy crunch that Europeans do. Do you really think, though, that the US is going to be fine when one of our largest trading partners goes belly up? We are going to crash too, and crash hard. A word to my fellow conservatives: if you think the return of the buffoonish Donald Trump is going to be sufficient to deal with what is here, and what is coming, you are almost as deluded as the libs. You are as much a prisoner to emotionally satisfying Narrative as they are. We are in bad, bad trouble, and it's going to get far worse before it gets better.
And I didn't even mention the coming food shortages! But hey, we have affirmative action in senior financial leadership, so it's all good, right?
Blake Masters, the GOP Senate candidate in Arizona, tweeted out a criticism of this mentality. Naturally, our media being ideologically insane, accused him of blaming "diversity" for our economic problems. Masters responded:
“I don’t care if every single employee at the Fed is a Black lesbian as long as they’re hired for their competence and not because of what they look like or who they sleep with,” Masters said. “News for Joe Biden: We are done with this affirmative action regime.”
I agree! But the damage has been done. The media, which lives by lies, are more concerned with smashing a RACIST than with truth, or dealing with the substantive point Masters is making about how ideology is no substitute for competent dealing with reality. Here's a link to the video in which Masters explained himself.
Get daily emails in your inbox
So: as much as I hate to say it, Russia, at great cost to itself, has won its war with Ukraine. It's going to drag on for longer, but the West's backing for Ukraine cannot go on much longer. This winter, we will likely see massive crowds of cold, angry Europeans out in the streets demanding to know why their governments are destroying their economies, and the lives of their own people, for Ukraine. And then what?
Our leaders are liars and ideologues who are destroying the West. The ruling class -- the State, the media, the financial sector, woke capitalism, the universities, every institution -- is actively betraying the people they are meant to serve. This is not just crackpot Internet speculation. It is actually happening, right now -- and as far as I can tell, the American people are being kept in the dark, figuratively. It's about to become literal in Europe. Watch this clip from Tucker Carlson, one of the few major journalists who tell the truth. He's pointing out that Americans aren't being told that Europeans are teetering on the edge of catastrophe.