Thursday, November 9, 2017

Why the dominoes fall

Election Poster for the Lega dei Ticinesi (Italian canton of Switzerland), an "isolationist, national conservative party" (Wiki). Currently, it holds 21 out of 90 seats in the Ticino legislature (Wikicommons: NAC)

My last post was on the collapse of communism in 1989, specifically why it began in Hungary and Poland and why it spread so fast throughout Eastern Europe. At the end I mused that the same two countries were once more the bad boys on the block.

History doesn't repeat itself, at least not exactly. Today, the actors are different, as is the dominant ideology, which for want of a better term I will call "globalism." The cultural context is also larger and more diverse. In 1989, the dominoes fell within a geographic space that was not only smaller but also more homogeneous socially and culturally. Even if we ignore earlier points in common (Catholic and/or Slavic heritage of most countries, largely agrarian social order until recent times), these societies all shared the historical experience of the postwar era: occupation by the Red Army, destruction of the prewar elites, imposition of a new socioeconomic model, and transnational integration into the Warsaw Pact and COMECON.

Today, the dominoes are falling within a larger and more diverse geographic space—Europe in its entirety, as well as overseas societies of European origin. People do share points in common within this space, notably a long history of Christianization and a consciousness of being "white" in relation to the rest of the world. For most, however, this commonality has become a source of ambivalence and, increasingly, shame. Furthermore, this larger geographic space is marked by differences in political and social development that dwarf those of Eastern Europe in 1989.

So what makes the dominoes fall? Beissinger (2007) called this phenomenon "modular revolutionary change" and tried to identify the processes that drive it:

I use the term "modular" in the way in which Tarrow used the term to describe the spread of collective action across groups. Modular action is action that is based in significant part on the prior successful example of others—a model being, in one of Webster's definitions, "an example for imitation or emulation."

[...] Modular phenomena based in the conscious emulation of prior successful example constitute only one form of cross-case influence; spillover effects, herding behavior, path-dependence, and reputational effects are other ways in which cases may be connected with one another.

To explain this power of example, Beissinger (2007) proposed "the elite defection model":

[...] once example gains momentum and crosses the tipping point where modular behavior accelerates across groups, a general expectation about the direction in which events are flowing demoralizes those representing established institutions, potentially promoting defections among them and encouraging bandwagoning behavior. Here, established elites entertain doubts about their own legitimacy and the future of the structures they are defending, so that a demonstration of the vulnerability of such structures in other contexts leads them to co-opt opposition demands or to seek to bail out before it becomes too late.

This bandwagon effect isn't inevitable. If the elites of one country see what is happening in another, they may try to prevent the same thing from happening in theirs, either through negative measures (harsher repression) or through positive ones (reform). Beissinger (2007) mentioned only the possibility of negative measures:

[...] established elites opposing modular change learn the critical lessons of the model from its repeated successes and failures and impose additional institutional constraints on actors to prevent the model from succeeding further. Under this model, established elites retain a belief in the future of current institutions, hold that established elites in other contexts where modular change was previously successful squandered that future as a result of foolish moves, and respond to the threat of modular change by moving aggressively to prevent such challenges, repressing them and raising the institutional constraints that they face.

There are reasons why this kind of situation causes elites to respond with negative measures rather than positive ones. First, even modest reform can spin out of control if people strongly desire change. Second, the elites themselves may fall prey to their own propaganda, particularly their demonization of the opposition. They may thus double down and strive even harder to portray opponents as wicked traitors who must be stopped at all costs.

Third, the elites don't necessarily have the same self-interests as the rest of society. This was less so in communist Eastern Europe, where social distances were relatively small, partly because of socialist ideology and partly because the prewar elites had been eliminated. In 21st century Western Europe and North America, however, the top 1% live in a very different world and accordingly have a very different view of self-interest. In particular, over the past half-century they have greatly improved their position at the expense of their fellow citizens by outsourcing work to low-wage countries and by insourcing low-wage workers for those jobs that cannot be outsourced. In short, the elites can relocate labor and money to maximize return on their investment, while the Western working class cannot so easily relocate itself.

In any case, fewer and fewer countries can offer Western working people the standard of living they once enjoyed. We can debate back and forth whether globalism is raising the living standards of the world's poor—in some countries it has and it others it hasn't. One thing however is clear. Throughout the Western world, incomes have stagnated or declined for most people—largely as a result of a shift from high-paying, largely unionized jobs in manufacturing to much lower-paying, non-unionized jobs in services, where competition with immigrants is most intense.

This point was made by Bernie Sanders in an interview with Lou Dobbs on CNN:

SANDERS: If poverty is increasing and if wages are going down, I don't know why we need millions of people to be coming into this country as guest workers who will work for lower wages than American workers and drive wages down even lower than they are now.

DOBBS: And as we know, the principal industries which hire the bulk of illegal aliens, that is construction, landscaping ...

SANDERS: Lou, I just heard something.

DOBBS: Those are all industries in which wages are declining. I don't hear that discussed on the Senate floor by the proponents of this amnesty legislation.

SANDERS: That's right. They have no good response. I read something today that a lot of people coming into this country are coming in as lifeguards. I guess we can't find — that's right. We can't [find] American workers to work as lifeguards. And the H1B program has teachers, elementary school teachers. Well, you know.

DOBBS: And that H1B program, we got to watch Senator Ted Kennedy watch there with the sole witness being one Bill Gates, the world's richest man, telling him he wanted unlimited H1B visas, obviously uninformed to the fact that seven out of 10 visas under the H1B program goes to Indian corporations that are outsourcing those positions to American corporations in this country and that four out of five of those jobs that are supposed to be high-skilled jobs are actually category one jobs which is low skill.

SANDERS: Well, you raise a good point, in that this whole immigration guest worker program is the other side of the trade issue. On one hand you have large multinationals trying to shut down plants in the America, move to China and on the other hand you have the service industry bringing in low wage workers from abroad. The result is the same — middle class gets shrunken and wages go down. (CNN 2007)

And this is only one aspect of the economic, demographic, and political crisis that now faces people throughout the Western world, particularly those who thought they had a nation-state to defend their interests. Radical change, by its very nature, tends to do more harm than good, and the change we’re now facing dwarfs that of any previous revolution. Robespierre and Lenin didn’t attempt what the current leadership of the West is now attempting. In many respects the crisis we face is an existential one.


How many dominoes will fall? And how fast? Clearly, the process will be slower and more irregular than it was back in 1989. Compared to Eastern Europe, the Western world is much more heterogeneous culturally, politically, and historically. Its elites likewise have less in common with the average man and woman. Finally, they can rely on support from each other, most crucially from elites at the center of the Western world.

On the other hand, this same heterogeneity means that some countries have elites whose hold on power is weaker and whose legitimacy is correspondingly weaker. In such countries, repression may be harsher and yet less effective because there is so little collaboration at the grassroots level. If change is in the air, agents of repression may hesitate to act, for fear that they might later be held accountable for their actions.

So more dominoes will surely fall. For now, they'll fall where the elites are more peripheral in the Western world, where their hold on power is weaker, and where cultural affinity or shared historical experience can facilitate the bandwagon effect. In my next post, I will peer into this near future and the apparent surprises that lie in store.


Beissinger, M.R. (2007). Structure and example in modular political phenomena: The diffusion of Bulldozer/Rose/Orange/Tulip revolutions, Perspectives on Politics 5(2), 259-276.

CNN (2007). Lou Dobbs Tonight, June 21, Transcripts


German_reader said...

Great that you've started blogging again, many thanks!

Anonymous said...

The Catholic, Mitteleuropean countries have a more conservative and autocratic political tradition. This could be more a case of those countries reverting to their more conservative tradition than a case of dominoes falling and spreading.

Peter Frost said...

Hi German reader,

I'm happy to see some of my old readers coming back!


The autocracies of Eastern Europe were wiped out by the last war and the ensuing socialist regimes. But let's suppose that none of that happened. Would those autocracies be denouncing the demographic transformation of Europe? Or would they be firmly integrated with the elites of Western Europe and the postnational mindset? Let's look for example at the Royal Family in the United Kingdom. Have they ever indicated disapproval of what is happening to their country? We can ask the same thing about the royal families of Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden. Have any of them ever said anything? Not to my knowledge.

calculus said...

Hi all and Peter, I am an old reader too.

Remember, I once posted that Islam's values were basically alt-right in essence, based on patriarchal and conservative values, no marriage for all, no sodomy and so on. Yet, all Muslims voted nonetheless for the Left, which promotes the opposite values. This proved the hypocrisy of the Muslim's constant referral to their supposedly spiritual values and in fact, proved that they are just very materialistic people at core. A good blogger that explain this duplicity very well is Aldo Sterone on Youtube. A Muslim, or ex-Muslim himself, he lives in the UK but posts in French. I don't know if he posts some videos in English.

Anyways, regarding the opening thread here, I wanted to mention again the case of Greece. For 10+ years now Greece has mounted a full scale revolution, not inferior in scale to the French, American or Bolshevik revolutions. Yet it failed. There is no need to look for intricate spycho-economico-social reasons.
The only reason the Greek revolution failed is simple : non stop Repression.
The Greek State was completely bankrupted and yet, they found the money to fund their Police. Through endless loans, the EU funded the Greek police for as long as necessary to repress the populace.
In the case of the other revolutions mentioned above, when the State ran out of money, it meant no money for the Police forces too and therefore a police rather unenthusiastic.
In the revolutions of the past, at some point the Elite in place was just not sufficiently defended anymore. Then, one hundred thousand people in the streets for a few days was more than enough to overcome any regime. Paris streets in 1789 probably never totalized more than 100,000 for a few days. It is sad to think that the Greeks demonstrated by the millions, and for several years, and yet could not achieve anything. The greek situation was really tragic. Absolutely nothing worked, people were not even admitted in Hospital or simply fed. The only thing that was funded was really the police.
When a Police force can be outsourced, at least in its funding, it means that an isolated Revolution at the scale of a single Nation State is not possible anymore.
It was clear for Greece, but it would be the same for France, Italy or Spain. Look at the Catalan fiasco, whether or not independence was a good think is irrelevant, the important fact is that the Spanish police was in total control of the situation and even in a totally bankrupted Spain, it would still be in control because if there was one last penny left, loaned by the EU to Spain, it would go to pay the Police.
So the domino effect has to become global. And the last domino is of course the US.
Under which circumstances the US could not fund his army and police forces to repress a budding revolution domestic or abroad ? None in my opinion.
The US federal bank can print at will, which means there will be always a well paid repressive force, including private contractors if necessary, to prevent a US uprising or a revolution in a European territory.
Plus, the Elite has its secret police already, aka the Antifas, femen and other leftists and feminists activists.

Peter Frost said...

Greece is a small country with no close friends. Even if a nationalist party took power, it wouldn't last long. Look at what Turkey did in Cyprus. It moved in and ethnically cleansed the northern third of the island. The Greek government wanted to come to the defence of the Cypriots, but it soon realized the hopelessness of the situation. On the world scene, Turkey counts and Greece doesn't.

I assume you're talking about Golden Dawn. In my opinion, GD made a number of dumb mistakes, starting with their imagery. We can argue back and forth whether an upraised arm is a fascist salute or a Roman salute. What matters is not what you or I think. What matters is what most people think. And most people consider an upraised salute to be a fascist salute.

I don't want to argue this point because what's done is done. Golden Dawn will lead the nationalist revolution in Greece, for better or for worse.

Bartolo said...

Alas, the analogy between the communist collapse(s) and the possible collapse of the current globalist, anti-White regimes suffers from one decisive flaw. In the case of the communist regimes, it was enough for a *political system* to be changed. In the current situation, that may well happen (although I fear that the almost total control of the population that new technologies allow might make it more difficult). However, a second condition needs to be fulfilled if Europe is not to morph into something unrecognizable but recognizably non-European: several dozen million people would have to go back to their countries of origin. And I just don't see that happening, especially now that these "allogènes" are very close to originating a majority of births. We are doomed. Happily, Eastern Europe is not.

Bartolo said...

I hope my comment is not considered illegal in Canada :/