Freedom and Servitude: Why We Rattle Our Hidden Chains

“The populace consists of individuals and free men, while the state is made up of numbers. When the state dominates, killing becomes abstract. Servitude began with the shepherds; in the river valleys it attained perfection with canals and dikes. Its model was the slavery in mines and mills. Since then, the ruses for concealing chains have been refined.”
—Ernst Jünger, Eumeswil

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“Old Bubba” Got It Right

The public opinion pollsters have failed four times in the last 18 months. They thought that Netanyahu would be defeated in the contest for Israel’s prime ministership. They did not foresee the defeat of the peace referendum in Colombia. They were sure that Brexit would be defeated in Great Britain, and they were equally sure (with the exception of a few outliers like the LA Times longitudinal poll) that Hillary would be our 45th president. In all four cases the surveys reflected the pollsters’ attitudes but not the public’s. Like the New York Times, which has been eating crow over its election coverage, the pollsters need to get out in to the countryside more. The same holds true for the Hillary operatives who were caught by surprise. As a DNC source explained “it was all about analytics with them. . . . They were too reliant on analytics and not enough on instinct and human intel from the ground.”

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On Two Versions of the Counterculture

“There were actually at least two countercultures in 1968. The street mutineers dreamed of a political revolution, which was acted out as theater, using old scripts. In the second, politics became personal; emancipation came in the form of consumer choices. The first was collectivist and failed, the second was libertarian, individualistic, futuristic, and carried the day. In the United States Stewart Brand, the visionary who founded The Whole Earth Catalog in 1968, pithily described the difference as between ‘Berkeley and Stanford’: ‘Around Berkeley, it was Free Speech Movement, “power to the people.” . . .’ In Germany this kind of technology-as-revolution mindset was much more difficult to launch, given the entrenched romantic aversion to technology in the counterculture. . .”

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Mechanized Warfare and the Fate of the Individual

“The vastness and deadly desolation of the field, the long-distance operation of steel machines, and the relay of every movement in the night drew an unyielding Titan’s mask over the proceedings. You moved toward death without seeing it; you were hit without knowing where the shot came from. Long since had the precision shooting of the trained marksman, the direct fire of guns, and with it the charm of the duel, given way to the concentrated fire of mechanized weapons. The outcome was a game of numbers: Whoever could cover a certain number of square meters with the greater mass of artillery fire, won.”
—Ernst Jünger, Sturm, describing the Battle of the Somme, whose centenary is this year.

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On Late Capitalism

“The idea of a revolutionary, ‘post-materialistic’ subject, personified by marginal actors, was popularized by Jean-Paul Sartre, who viewed outcasts and criminals, like the writer and petty criminal Jean Genet, as enlightened critics of bourgeois society. In Germany, Frankfurt School theorists like Claus Offe proposed that in ‘late capitalism’ ever more social groups—the unemployed, the mentally ill, the lawbreakers—would be pushed to the margins and could eventually pose a real threat to the social order. The problem, as one wit put it, was that ‘late capitalism’ kept arriving too late.”

—Elliot Neaman, Free Radicals: Agitators, Hippies, Urban Guerrillas, and Germany’s Youth Revolt of the 1960s and 1970s

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The Perception of Space

“The human receives a particular historical consciousness from his ‘space,’ which is subjected to great historical transformations. The variegated forms of life correspond to equally differentiated spaces. Even within the same time period, the environment of individual humans for the practice of daily life is already defined differently by their different life occupations. An urbanite thinks the world otherwise than does a peasant farmer, a whale-fish hunter has another living space than an opera singer, and to a pilot the world and life appear otherwise not only in other lights but also in other quantities, depths, and horizons.”

—Carl Schmitt, Land and Sea: A World-Historical Meditation

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