The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Open Thread

I’m rather under the weather, so please use this post to talk among yourselves, if you so desire.


Steve Bannon In (and Out?) of Donald Trump’s Imperial Court


British General Election Called for May 8th


  1. Or at each other….

  2. Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    May the Ascended Madoka grant IW a swift recovery.

  3. Brian

    Get well soon Ian.

  4. Jack McKinley

    Hope you are soon on top of the weather – and again writing nuanced prose!

  5. Dean Flemming

    Series 10 of Doctor Who with Peter Capaldi is out. The universal cure.

  6. I got banned from, partly because I posted a link to a diary of yours, “Trump is Now Breaking His Core Promises”.

    So, I started r/The_Donald_GoodAndBad @

    So far, my great fear about being overwhelmed with traffic hasn’t materialized. At all.

    So, if anybody feels like posting about GOOD TRUMP, BAD TRUMP, or both, feel free.

  7. S Brennan

    Get well!

  8. Tom

    @ Ivory Bill Woodpecker

    That is a good anime. Too bad they only made one OAV, a spin off, three movies, and aborted the Concept Project.

    Still a good anime.

  9. Joe

    listening to my old rediscovered freewheeling Bob Dylan record. Very current subjects especially masters of war, hard rain and WW III blues yikes.

  10. Thomas

    Ian, my best wishes for a swift recovery.
    I guess I know what you are suffering from…

    I am just reading a(nother) very interesting book:
    Straw dogs: thoughts on humans and other animals
    Absolutely fascinating !!!
    anybody interested, check it out at
    there are two books available, one is the better one-page-version,
    but I forgot which
    you should now all sing Hymns for/to me, because you still have
    no idea what a treasure-box this site is ! But you’ll find out !
    Lots – I mean L O T S of great stuff!
    I give them a few bucks every now and then… when I have some…
    which is not as often as I’d like to – as a little Thank you!

  11. MojaveWolf

    Feel better, Ian. I’ve been barely functional due to severe pollen allergies the last couple of weeks. Worst ever for me. I’m hoping they go away before June. Hope your illness is more short term.

  12. Oaktown Girl

    @Dean Flemming – I’m not a “Whovian” (that’s the term I’ve seen online), but in the mid-aughts I did fall in love with Peter Capaldi’s character Malcom from the show “In the Thick of Its’. I found him hysterical and utterly refreshing. I’ll link a clip.

    Ian, this clip will definitely make you feel better… if you’re in the state where this sort of thing makes you feel better. Me, I’m almost always in that state (flagrant and colorful cursing with a Scottish accent).

    Hi Stirling!

    4/17/17, 8:17 pm PST

  13. Oaktown Girl

    Sorry for the typos – retrograde is kicking my ass. 🙂 I miss that brief period of time when we had the preview function here! That BBC show with Peter Capaldi is, of course, “The Thick of It”.

    4/17/17, 8:32 pm PST

  14. tony

    Wanted to ask some questions.

    I’ve been looking into multiethnic democracies and they don’t seem to work. The quoted successes are places like India, where half the kids suffer from malnutrition and Naxalite rebels hold a large part of the territory. Apparently, the criteria for success for a multiethnic democracy is: no ongoing genocides.

    I’m I wrong here? Is it possible to have a stable and functioning multiethnic democracy?

    Assuming I am right, will and should the left simply abandon democracy and support dictatorships?

  15. Ian Welsh

    Added preview back, I deactivated almost everything to help with performance, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the issue.

    Thanks all for the best wishes. Feeling quite a bit better this morning, after 12 hours sleep, hopefully it will stick.

  16. bob mcmanus

    Is it possible to have a stable and functioning multiethnic democracy?

    Of course it is.

    The historical project, and I don’t know how far back I have to go perhaps as far back as Upper and Lower Egypt, is about creating nations (not always states) out of tribes. Often this was by conquest, seldom by genocide, usually by various methods of inducing assimilation and/or inclusion. Imagined communities are based on cost/benefit calculations.

    … will and should the left simply abandon democracy and support dictatorships?

    The Marxist-Leninist proletariat, and its temporary dictatorship, was a Romantic ideal of a global nation opposed and dominant over another, global capital. We keep democracy, but abandon liberalism. They are very far from synonymous.

  17. bob mcmanus

    I think about nations or imagined communities and how they work all the time, maybe it is all I think about. Currently reading Paul Gilroy on Black Atlantic solidarity and authenticity, oh Marsalis versus Miles Davis, Mandela listening to Motown.

    Conquest and war is expensive, and often unprofitable. Bribing minorities to stay peaceable is better. There is an old city in England named “Bath.”

    What we need to offer say white working class Midwest males to set aside their racism, homophobia etc and whether that would be too much to keep the black and feminist and gay coastal factions productively in the party has been a Democratic problem for like fifty years. A faction gets successful, forgets about compromise, alienates their allies. Genocides the Melians, scares their neighbours, loses everything to Sparta. Wait, where was I?

  18. The Stephen Miller Band

    Trump goes out of his way, contradicting his staff and the hollowed out shell of a State Department, to call Erdogan and congratulate him on becoming an official dictator in perpetuity. I assume Trump is doing this because he would be gratified if and/or when Trump makes his dictatorship official, Erdogan reciprocated and called him with congratulations.

    One wonders, will Trump call Erdogan and congratulate him when Erdogan gasses his own people? Or do tyrannical dictators only gas their own people when the western establishment says they do, otherwise, never?

    If the 9/11 hijackers were from Syria instead of Saudi Arabia, we can be sure there never would have been a civil war in Syria. Stupid Assad. He should have known better. His father should have told him, “Bashar, if you want to be in America’s good graces, then you must fund & train hijackers to hijack planes and navigate them into the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. When you do, America will love you as they do Saudi Arabia.”

  19. Tom

    Numbers starting to come out now as the official results are published from the Turkish Referendum.

    58,365,078 eligible voters. Turnout was 85.32% with the Army literally carrying the infirm to the polls who wished to vote and then carrying them back home. Some areas where not able to vote due to PKK violence and intimidation, some areas the Military had to bring the ballots in by helicopter due to PKK violence. But every effort was exerted for the people to cast their votes.

    49,799,163 people voted.

    Evet had 25,157,025 votes while Hayir had 23,777,091 votes. The Kurdish vote was decisive and swung the referendum to Evet.

    Compared to the last US Election, this vote truly represented the will of the majority and thanks to the new constitution, the majority will always rule with the minority unable to impede their progress unless they can convince voters in subsequent elections to vote them into the majority. Since everyone runs at the same time, voters will always have a fixed date to vote instead of trying to keep up with a series of off-year elections that lower turnout. Everyone is elected by popular vote so no electoral college nonsense.

    The people of Turkey have spoken, and they chose democracy.

  20. What Tom is describing is not democracy.

  21. Anyway, I wrote about the referendum at one of my other gigs.

  22. Tom

    @ The Stephen Miller Band

    Assad destroyed his country.

    Erdogan saved it.

    Assad kills children.

    Erdogan feeds and clothes children.

    Assad flattens cities for daring to ask for democracy.

    Erdogan gives the people a referendum for how they want their democracy.

    Night and day difference.

    Erdogan is no dictator, he was elected by popular vote in an election with 98% turnout. Assad rigged a sham election.

  23. Tom

    @ Mandos

    Yes it is democracy. Unless you have some different definition I’m not aware of. That or you’re an idiot who rather dictators rule.

    Turkey’s referendum was far more democratic than the US Election and reflects the will of the people who decided they wanted a presidential system with proper checks and balances which they currently do not have and leaves the state vulnerable to coups and weak governance.

    This election is a clean sweep of a deep state that has left large segments of the country impoverished and disenfranchised for decades. From here on out the people will rule through their chosen representatives who must obey the popular will or be booted out in the next election. This is as it should be in a healthy democracy.

  24. The Stephen Miller Band

    Okay Tom, thanks for the clarification. I don’t know what I was thinking. Turkey is Democracy Gangnam Style. Nice.

    What’s Democracy these days? Anything you want it to be, but most of all, especially if you’re an Islamist and/or a Western Intelligence Operative (pretty much one and the same these days), it’s a means to an end and that end is Islamic Autocracy in the Middle East.

    For Trump, It’s Strictly Business.

    Easy Access To Trump

  25. Democracy does not involve the creation of a majority-rule system designed to prevent the minority from procedurally impeding attacks on itself. Absolute rule of the majority is not democracy — in the new Turkish system there is too much incentive for the Erdoğanist practice of legitimizing every violation of individual and minority rights as the National (majority) Will. It is unstable, and the razor-thin win, assisted by Turks not living in Turkey, will drive Turkey further into long-term political instability.

  26. The Stephen Miller Band

    The Achilles Heel of Democracy. Those hellbent on using it as a pathway to Autocracy find it’s actually quite useful in this regard.

    Just ask the Muslim Brotherhood, they’ll tell you. They used it to attain power in Egypt, fleeting as it was, and then once in power went about shutting Democracy down (as Trump would like to do in America if he has his druthers like Erdogan & Putin).

    Thankfully (sarcasm ahead), in Egypt at least, the military intervened and now Egypt has restored its Military Dictatorship. The Muslim Brotherhood, a Western Intelligence sponsored and enabled organization, has been trying to do the same in Syria forever now it seems.

    So many wonderful choices for the Arab people. A dictatorial Islamic Autocracy or a dictatorial Military Dictatorship. Paper or Plastic. Oppression or Oppression. Suffering or Suffering. Death or Death.

    Sweet. It’s nice to have choices.

  27. Oaktown Girl

    Hey Ian, glad to hear you are feeling better. Thanks for restoring the preview function!

  28. Ian Welsh

    Tom’s views on appropriate matters always align with Turkish state views. As for Turkey’s referendum, I’m seeing too many irregularities, I’m more willing to allow rule of majority, but I’m not sure that’s what this was.

    Multi-ethnic states which work are common. Canada is one. The US was one for many many years (remember, Irish and Italians and so on were definitely considered ethnic). The rule is simple enough, when times get bad, people divide along pre-existing lines. If those lines still exist, then they will be ethnic. The Irish and Italians aren’t up to much these days, but they were once.

    In good times, if a group has access to success, it will integrate and start identifying as the mainstream. France has a problem because France did not have good times and did not integrate. (Good times must be enough for EVERYONE.)

    Rome was multi-ethnic. Various points of Egypt. Skin color was considered largely irrelevant in the medieval era (religion, otoh). There are always divisions based on perceived identity, but what they are varies.

  29. Oh, I agree that the pre-Erdoğan Turkish state was hardly democratic either. What we are looking for, I think, is majority rule with protection of the ability of the minority to actively defend some legitimate interests as well as allowing it a fair opportunity to make its case. The most recent “version” of Erdoğan’s political program has decidedly tilted the balance away into nationalist majoritarianism.

  30. StewartM

    Get well soon Ian.

  31. The Stephen Miller Band

    Whatever happens — The Rich are prepared. Who says prepping doesn’t have its perks, and hey, you know the saying, build it and IT will come.

    What’s the point of spending all this money on luxurious Bomb Shelters of you don’t get a chance to use them?

    Bring It On!!

    For the rest of you who don’t have one and can’t afford it? Too bad — suck it up. You should have thought of it when you decided to be poor instead of rich.

    Billionaire Bunkers: How The 1% Are Preparing For The Apocalypse

  32. BlizzardOfOz

    Whistling past the graveyard …

    Irish and Italians in the USA were racially close to the founding WASP stock, and they still caused a lot of trouble. Let’s not forget that the nation-busting Hart-Cellar act was sponsored by two Irishmen and a Jew. And of course blacks cannot and will never be assimilated.

    Rome is not a good analogue to the modern multikult, because then the nations were allowed to live separately and semi-autonomously. Now, separation or independence in any area of life (schools, businesses, neighborhoods) is denounced as the ultimate evil, racist.

    Under the cover of “diversity” dogma, what’s happening in the West looks suspiciously like the age-old story of a faction importing a foreign army to defeat its domestic opponents. This is succeeding best in the north-western Euro nations; you can see those outside the Hajnal line like Poland and Hungary resisting forcefully. North-western Euros will have to overcome their congenital individualism quickly, or they’re going to be genocided by the left-Islam alliance. Houellebecq’s “Submission” only looks more prophetic with each passing year.

  33. Willy

    One must ponder the meaning of this:

  34. highrpm

    you speak with certainty on Syria. the opposite view from other sites I frequent. how do I discriminate? move there? how many years have you lived there? under assad’s rule.

  35. tony

    @bob mcmanus

    That was incoherent enough to convince me I might be right.

    @Ian Welsh
    Nice trick you pulled there. Of course multiethnic states work, empires are always multiethnic, so is Singapore. That is why my question was about democracy, not state.

    Canada was not really multiethnic. There were a bunch of people who looked the same and shared roughly the same values, with some language divisions. Should you try to oppress the French speakers same as blacks, they could defect in a generation by learning English at a native level, assuming they lack it at the moment. There is no real difference between a Canadian, a German-Canadian and a English-Canadian, assuming they all speak native english.

    The US was clearly white nationalist until about the 70s-80s. The immigration policy, segregation and support for South-Africa made that clear. It’s true the Irish were a separate ethnicity, but they quickly became ‘White’ which is the main American ethnicity.

    Your other examples are Rome an imperial slave economy, where non-Romans had no political rights, and eventually pretty much no one had. And Egypt, a totalitarian bureacracy where most people had no political rights. And few non-political rights.

    I also was not talking about skin colour, which is only one possible aspect of ethnicity.

  36. Hugh

    Tom never gets around to explaining why Erdogan is so “popular” among the Kurds even though he has mounted a brutal war against him. He doesn’t mention at all that the main conduit for foreign fighters to ISIS was through Turkey or that virtually all of the oil smugglig that funded ISIS went through Turkey or that Erdogan’s own family was involved in this smuggling.

    Democracy is not just about elections. As Stalin said, it doesn’t matter who votes. What matters is who counts the votes. Dictatorships often have elections precisely to give them “legitimacy”. But what legitimacy is there in “Vote for me, or else”? Democracy is also about having strong civil institutions. Erdogan’s jailing tens of thousands civil servants, lawyers, judges, and journalists obliterates Tom’s assertion of Turkey as a democracy.

    Personally, I think we should get our H bombs and ourselves out of Incirlik, and push to expel Turkey from NATO. We already have too many “allies”, most notably Israel, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, and Pakistan, of whom it can be said, “With friends like these, who needs enemies?”

  37. Even if there were never any successful multiethnic states, we’re going to need to invent one quickly and on a global basis, one way or another. Luckily relative to the most advanced state forms of each time, there are lots of successful multiethnic states. Modern democracy is not that old in the first place.

  38. Tom


    Kurds voted for Erdogan because he recognized them as citizens and a separate ethnicity and gave them their rights.

    Also Erdogan is fighting the PKK, not the Kurds, and the PKK started the fight not Erdogan.

    Your argument of Turkey being ISIS rear support doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. The Turkish Border was lawless due to Gulenist Infiltration of the State Security Services and the PKK was also free to move around as well. It was only in the wake of the Coup and building of a border wall that Erdogan could finally clamp down the border crossings and break up the IS, Gulenist, and PKK cells operating in Turkey and with Euphrates Shield plug the Turkish route for IS. Also Turkey turned away thousands of IS supporters at their borders and cancelled tens of thousands of visas even before the coup. So your allegations hold no water.

    Also the people Erdogan jailed were criminals arrested for treason, terrorism, and other crimes punishable under the law and were legitimately arrested for legitimate reasons. Its not a difficult concept to understand, if you break the law, you get arrested, doesn’t matter what your station is. Sob stories don’t hold up in court.

    This referendum was legitimate, period. If CHP doesn’t like it, they can drop neo-liberalism, laicite, and offer the Kurds the same rights Erdogan gave them and try to win the next election. Otherwise they can continue to be an opposition party that offers the failed models of Europe and the US to the electorate and keep losing.

  39. The Stephen Miller Band

    Hey Stirling, are you by any chance related to this fella? I see some similarity aside from the name, but maybe I’m reading too much into it.

    Edward J. Newberry

    Reason I ask is because I’m currently investigating the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) and I ran across this fella’s name as someone belonging to an organization that lobbies on behalf of the Saudi’s.

  40. The Stephen Miller Band

    What would we do without lawyers? They’re the glue that brings, and holds, it all together whether or not it wants to fit or was meant to fit. Lawyers In Love.

    Squire Patton Boggs Inks Syrian Opposition Pact

    International law firm Squire Patton Boggs is providing legal and strategic policy advice to Syrian opposition bloc the High Negotiations Committee of the Syrian Opposition.

    High Negotiations Committee

    The HNC is an umbrella organization established to represent political and military groups that oppose the Assad regime. Considered Syria’s broadest opposition bloc, it was also formed to lay out a democratic Syrian transition plan and establish a delegation that would serve as a reference for negotiations with Syrian regime representatives.

    The organization, which is not owned or controlled by anyone, was formed in late 2015 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Members include Syrian groups ranging from Damascus-based oppositionists to moderate armed opposition groups. It is led by chief coordinator Riyad Farid Hijab, who is Syria’s former prime minister.

    Squire Patton Boggs will advise HNC on U.S. policy issues and may also advocate on behalf of the opposition group within the United States, according to Foreign Agents Registration Act documents filed in February.

    Squire Patton Boggs managing partner Edward J. Newberry, a former staffer to Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and the House Appropriations Committee, will lead day-to-day efforts for the account. He’ll be joined by former Senator and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS); former Senator John Breaux, (D-LA); and Jack Deschauer, former director of Senate affairs for the Department of Defense, as well as other professionals as needed.

    Squire Patton Boggs will bill HNC $50,000 per month for the work. The pact ends in September.

  41. different clue

    Here is a funny and true and on-point little video called The Syria Strikes: A Conspiracy Theory. Here is the link.

  42. Hugh

    Erdogan’s son who was involved in ISIS oil smuggling would be a Gulenist under Tom’s revisionist history. Apparently if it’s a cloudy day in Turkey, the Gulenist’s are behind it. Also he ignores that Erdogan’s under the table support of ISIS had been going on for several years before the recent coup attempt. It is important to understand that the Turkey-ISIS connection is not that different from the Pakistan-Taliban one. These countries become our “indispensable” allies in our War on Terror and they give tacit support to the groups we are fighting to make sure that we remain dependent on them in that war.

    Erdogan has only rather recently, and grudgingly, modified his support of ISIS after ISIS started setting off bombs in Turkey, i.e. challenging Erdogan’s authority and biting the hand that was feeding it.

    The US and Europe really need to cut Turkey loose. Or to put it another way, we need to acknowledge that Turkey under Erdogan is going down a path that neither of us wants to be a part of and is flagrantly not in our interest.

  43. Peter


    It’s difficulty to unlearn a storyline you have swallowed and the generators of this misinformation almost had me convinced. Erdogan’s son Bilal is in the oil shipping tanker business transporting Kurdish oil that flows through the pipeline in southern Turkey. There is some relatively small amount of oil from the IS held fields mixed with this, supplied by smugglers and bought by greedy pumping station owners all the way back to Kurdistan.

    Erdogan’s son-in-law the oil minister is the family member that is portrayed as the IS connection for oil sales but he manages legal import and export of oil in Turkey and no one has shown he is involved in the illegal smuggling outside of normal controls.

    The best Putin could do was produce pictures of oil tank trucks and smuggling routes when he claimed to have proof of Erdogan’s direct involvement in IS oil business along with some statistical data that proved nothing.

    As Tom mentioned above the central government of Turkey didn’t have control of the southern border before the coup attempt so there was confusion about what was being done there and by whom. It looked to me, being ignorant of the facts, that Erdogan was at least turning a blind eye to IS and other group’s free use of the area but that changed immediately when the government regained control of its border after arresting many of the military personnel involved in undermining the government.

  44. tony

    There have been plenty of successful multiethnic states, and typically diversity was what they relied upon. The British would have ethnicity A slaughter ethnicity B when they rebelled, creating hatred that could be used to divide them. They would move groups around, creating diverse populations so they would fight each other.

    Antique slave economies too would prefer diverse workforce, the masters knowing the slaves would have difficulty organizing.

    What I am reading in your post is: get rid of democracy, because reasons undefined.

  45. Hugh

    Note all the fictions above. Turkey has armed forces numbering around 640,000, but they couldn’t control their southern border even though many of them were deployed along it. Oil trucks, hundreds of them, would head south empty and drive north full, but we are being told that somehow the Turkish government never figured out what was going on, again even though their were only a handful of points where these trucks could transit the border. Oh, and the Italian police were investigating Erdogan’s son Bilal for money laundering (from the family’s ISIS connected oil smuggling) but he was able to flee Rome with the help of the Saudis who gave him a forged passport and a plane to make his getaway. Wikileaks published 57 thousand emails of Berat Albayrak the Turkish Energy Minister who also happens to be Erdogan’s son-in-law documenting the family’s profiting from ISIS oil smuggling. But pay no attention to your lying eyes. Rather believe Tom and Peter’s fantasies.

  46. The Stephen Miller Band

    There is a theory that’s been floating around for quite some time that the destabilization and failing of Syria is just the next logical step in the implementation of The Yinon Plan. This is a more appropriate and factual fit than the Gas Pipeline theory promulgated by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and parroted by the more radical Liberal Lackey Apparatchiks.

    My only beef with this is, or one of my beefs with it is, it doesn’t explain Turkey’s or Saudi Arabia’s or Jordan’s cooperation. Do the rulers of these countries, both Jordan and Saudi Arabia are governed by monarchies by the way and Erdogan in Turkey has just made himself a dictator in perpetuity, not hate the Zionists of Israel as most Arabs do? If they do, hate the Zionists of Israel, how then do they justify destabilizing and failing their neighboring Arab states and effectively doing the bidding of the Zionists in Israel?

    It’s no secret that the Terrorists cum Rebels fighting the Syrian Military in Syria are substantially backed by both Saudi Arabia and Turkey as well as Jordan. If you look closely at The Yinon Plan, the Zionists who created and control Israel (who are not Jews by the way but instead more akin to the Nazis of Nazi Germany who sought to exterminate The Jews) must be smiling from ear to ear because the Arabs are doing precisely what the Zionists want them to do without them having to, quite literally, lift a finger.

    Jesus, you Arabs are as dumb as a box of rocks. You’re incapable of overcoming your base, visceral impulses no matter how smart and clever you think you are.

  47. The Stephen Miller Band

    And, of course, another beef with it is, it’s too simple and resorts to the cliche Blame The Jews meme, not that there isn’t truth in it, because there is. Everyone is using everyone for their own selfish ends, damn the means.

    Blaming it solely on the Zionists via The Yinon Plan lets American Imperialism off the hook.

    No, there’s more to it than just The Yinon Plan, but the intent of The Yinon Plan, to reshape the Middle East, is part of the answer.

    I’m afraid the other part of the answer is Perpetual War Without End and Syria is one of the unlucky countries to have chosen the short straw even though it didn’t choose and instead the straw was chosen for it.

    That last statement is disturbing but it’s what fits the facts most precisely. My Moloch Metaphor is only barely a metaphor and in fact, it’s plausible the metaphor is actually quite literal.

    There Will Be Blood — and so there is. Forever and ever, Amen.

  48. tony: No, what I’m saying is that even if no modern liberal multiethnic successful states have existed (a disputable proposition!),

    1. world government is presently necessary, ideally democratic world government, so we must invent such a thing. The necessity of world government follows from nuclear weapons and global environmental threats.


    2. modern liberal states are fairly recent. Reference to previous times must properly compare to forms of governance in those previous times, not against modern forms of governance. The Romans were definitely not modern liberals but the question is “did they manage to have a governance and prosperity that was superior to their competitors in their heyday while having diversity” and the answer is yes.

    The apparent edict that requires prosperous democratic states to be monoethnic requires that the deck be stacked in advance and also requires a certain sort of metaphysics to be slipped in under the logical radar.

  49. Peter


    You seem to dismiss the influence the Gulenist cult had throughout the military and police in Turkey. Erdogan described them as a parallel government after he broke with their leader realizing the coming threat. The Gulenists showed their true nature during the rushed coup attempt killing hundreds of their unarmed countrymen and women, bombing the parliament and sending troops to capture or kill the elected president Erdogan.

    Erdogan his son and S-I-L could all be as crooked as the Clintons but not be involved in the IS oil smuggling, there are much less complicated ways to get rich on graft from the legal oil business.

  50. tony

    1. “World government is necessary.”
    TINA. In truth there are alternatives. Also there is no reason to believe such a thing is even possible. There are limits to the size of government and with constrained resources we are likely to see relocalization of governance. Imperial structurea are of course still possible, however, how do you deal with the rebels? Traditionally, Rome and Britain etc. successful multiethnic states, used genocides and massacres.

    2. We have examples of modern multhiethinc states. I mentioned Rome etc, because that was what was brought up as the shining examples of multiethnic democratic states, although the the democracy seems to be dissappearing from my opponents’ arguments.

    Plenty of multiethnic democracies were created in Africa and Asia. As a rule they failed. Yugoslavia was not that successful either.

    You can not simultanously argue, “Look Rome was successful” and ” Oh, we can’t use Rome as an example”, which you did. Rome was built on slavery and conquest, and the majority had no political rights. I have repeatedly said, you can have a multiethnic empire, and I would say it is useful for the rulers as they can make the ethnicities kill each other.

    Then you make vague statements about metaphysics, which I just interpret as the sort of vague statement with no actual meaning, but effective at silencing the intellectually insecure.

  51. TINA. In truth there are alternatives.

    No, there aren’t. The invention of weapons of earth-scale mass destruction as well as the ability to have world-scale environmental effects has only two outcomes in the limit:

    1. those abilities are eventually used, and we destroy ourselves.

    (distant) 2. we remove the reasons for national-scale conflict, tragedy of the commons situations, etc. Or at least stave (1) off for longer.

    That requires some form of widely agreed-upon global governance with “teeth”.

    Also there is no reason to believe such a thing is even possible. There are limits to the size of government and with constrained resources we are likely to see relocalization of governance.

    We may see increased subsidiarity (not always a bad idea), but unless there’s a catastrophic breakdown of the sort that leaves humanity with the population of a handful of million (possible), the knowhow and for the most part the ability to ruin the earth will remain and will eventually be used.

    Imperial structurea are of course still possible, however, how do you deal with the rebels? Traditionally, Rome and Britain etc. successful multiethnic states, used genocides and massacres.

    The construction of conventional nation-states of the type presently being idealized also involved genocides and massacres. Or did you imagine that the language of Spain is Spanish? Spain is a genocide interrupted, that’s why there is a Catalán independence movement. Of course, Catalunya also contains minorities! There is no nation-state without violence, any polity of any size comparable to the average 1960s nation-state size is multiethnic, smaller polities are always going to be dominated by larger ones, to the point of war.

    2. We have examples of modern multhiethinc states. I mentioned Rome etc, because that was what was brought up as the shining examples of multiethnic democratic states, although the the democracy seems to be dissappearing from my opponents’ arguments.

    I don’t know if democracy in the modern sense ever appeared explicitly in the argument — I didn’t bring it up, at least. It makes no sense to argue for modern democracy using ancient societies before modern democracy.

    Plenty of multiethnic democracies were created in Africa and Asia. As a rule they failed. Yugoslavia was not that successful either.

    Colonial states imposed by force by exterior powers.

    You can not simultanously argue, “Look Rome was successful” and ” Oh, we can’t use Rome as an example”, which you did. Rome was built on slavery and conquest, and the majority had no political rights. I have repeatedly said, you can have a multiethnic empire, and I would say it is useful for the rulers as they can make the ethnicities kill each other.

    But that is not what I argued. I argued that Rome was successful given the political concepts available for its day. We can use it as an example: as a successful multiethnic state. We cannot use it as a successful multiethnic modern democracy, because that hadn’t been invented.

  52. The metaphysics part is the way nation-state membership is defined, and how it is to be distinguished from “multi-ethnic” in the real world. Not easy, and almost always involves death.

  53. Hugh

    Peter, if you are a dictator and you appointed your son-in-law Energy Minister and you are aiding and abetting oil smuggling across your territory, it is kind of a no-brainer that you and yours are going to be taking a cut of the action.

    I mean as President, Erdogan is pulling down a salary of around $60,000 a year. Yet somehow he has managed to accumulate a personal fortune of around $200 million. And this does not count the $1.4 billion or so he is having the Turkish state spend to build his obscenely lavish palace in Ankara. Or the tens of millions his sons and daughters have amassed.

    And how many thousands of Kurds has Erdogan killed in the last few years? And how many tens of thousands of judges, journalists, civil servants, and teachers has Erdogan imprisoned or fired? Seems as if anyone who is not vociferously pro-Erdogan is a Gulenist. In other words, you are either a supporter of Erdogan or you are an enemy. But while Gulenism is demonized, it is important to remember its philosophy was one of secularism and moderate Islam, which kind of puts where Erdogan is coming from in relief.

    I should add that I have little interest in Gulen. What I find interesting is how a corrupt Islamist like Erdogan cultivates enemies like the Kurds and Gulen in order to justify his own grabs of greater and greater dictatorial power for himself and to distract from his personal corruption and domestic failures. He is essentially hollowing out the Turkish state by destroying its civil institutions and culture. At some point, Erdogan will die or be offed by any one of a huge number of competitors and/or opponents. When this happens, it will become abundantly clear the damage he has done to Turkey, even to the point of bringing its viability as a state into question.

  54. The Stephen Miller Band

    I mean as President, Erdogan is pulling down a salary of around $60,000 a year. Yet somehow he has managed to accumulate a personal fortune of around $200 million. And this does not count the $1.4 billion or so he is having the Turkish state spend to build his obscenely lavish palace in Ankara. Or the tens of millions his sons and daughters have amassed.

    Shit!! No wonder Trump called him to congratulate him. This is Trump’s kind of guy. Erdogan is Trump’s paradigm. His ultimate goal. His benchmark.

    Pursuant to that, I wonder if Trump, along with Mattis & McMaster, are plotting the Preemptively & Purposefully Spoiled Coup as a pretext to squash dissent and set up a military dictatorship with the Trump Family as the titular leaders much like the Mubarak’s and Erdogan’s and, gasp, the Assad’s?

  55. The Stephen Miller Band

    And how many thousands of Kurds has Erdogan killed in the last few years?

    So long as he doesn’t gas them, he can kill as many as he likes. Hell, I bet he gets a special dispensation even if he gases them.

    Trump calls Assad a Butcher yet Trump, by sticking the final knife in the heart of the EPA, is many times more a Butcher considering how many women and children (I’d say men too, but no one gives a shit about us men) will perish from the poisoning of our environment.

    By virtue of what Trump is doing to the already feckless & neutered EPA, he is ordering the use of chemical weapons against his own people. Ozone is a chemical weapon that kills slowly and cruelly.Particle Pollution is a weapon that kills slowly & cruelly. Chromium 6 is a chemical weapon that kills slowly and cruelly.

    The list goes on and on. There are so many chemical weapons that will be used against the American People because of Trump’s gutting of the EPA, they’re too numerous to count, track & document.

    Trump is the True Butcher.

  56. BlizzardOfOz

    Refer to Hiroshima and Detroit for the relative merits of nuclear holocaust versus diversity. (Hint: you can recover from the former in a generation or two.)

  57. Peter


    The EPA was ripe for restructuring and was already known for allowing chemical exposure, see Flint MI. They had moved on from their regulatory mandate to more glorious activism selling the Climate Change agenda that they have no mandate to pursue. Trump has blocked some of Obama’s last new regulations not the already existing ones which the EPA can now concentrate on enforcing along with the many other pollution problems it should be addressing.

    I especially enjoy how Statists writhe in pain at the sight of their administrative state being deflated. Bigger is always better no matter how inefficient or failure prone or politically corrupt it may be. Stevie the ludicrous hysteric is now equation regulatory reform with chemical warfare.

  58. Refer to Hiroshima and Detroit for the relative merits of nuclear holocaust versus diversity. (Hint: you can recover from the former in a generation or two.)

    Hiroshima was a city-sized bomb (a nuclear war under present conditions would be far far worse, even a little one such as between Pakistan and India), and Detroit’s problems aren’t because of “diversity”.

  59. Hugh: while I agree overall with your points, Gülen was a highly problematic figure — many anti-Erdoğan Turks and Kurds, while laughing hollowly at the sheer number of people accused of being “Gülenists”, still consider him in most ways more insidious. It’s hard to say whether Erdoğan is personally more of a religious fanatic than Gülen — he is using a religious divide in Turkey (created originally by extreme Kemalism) to cover up his ludicrous corruption.

    Turkey’s deepest political problem is that there isn’t a non-Erdoğan alternative that, first and foremost, assures the religious part of Turkey’s population that e.g. their daughters would still be able to go to school wearing headscarves, without being subjected to “persuasion rooms” and psychological pressure, loss of opportunity, etc. The CHP still contains a lot of old-school Kemalists, the HDP is perceived as too close to the PKK and/or Kurdish independence (taboo in most of the rest of Turkey), and the MHP is kind of neo-Nazi and aside from Akşener (maybe) completely in hock to the AKP anyway.

  60. Peter


    It was only a few months ago that I read an informed essay that explained the complicated reality of todays Turkey. Most everything else I see is some form of western propaganda and Islamophobia short on detail and long on projection. Erdogan was elected to the presidency before taking power not the other way around that despots use for legitimacy. He received large numbers of votes from Turkish Kurds many of whom are members of his party.

    The PKK does not enjoy the support of all Kurds especially after they reverted to fanaticism and broke the long standing truce with bloody attacks on Turkish troops, police and civilians. This was the result of the IS bombing of Kurds that was blamed on Erdogan because of the rumors that he was secretly allied with the IS. That rumor grew because the Gulenists were controlling the border area allowing the IS access that appeared to be sanctioned by the central government.

    There seems to be a large contingent of western people of all political persuasions who are deathly frightened by the idea of even a moderate Islamist gaining power especially through their beloved democracy. They will support almost any undemocratic methods, lies and force that is used to stop this heresy. We saw this behavior in Egypt where a military coup was quietly celebrated and it was immediately evident during the coup attempt in Turkey when the European media spread lies to assist the coup and the blogs buzzed with anticipation.

    The Turkish people may be divided but with Erdogan’s changes they will make the decisions for Turkey without becoming a vassal state of the West or Russia.

  61. The Stephen Miller Band

    @ The Pumpkin Eater said: The EPA was ripe for restructuring…

    Oh, is that what it’s called — restructuring? I’m declaring here and now that we have finally reached, like Peak Oil, Peal Euphemism. Restructuring — what a hoot.

    Restructuring = Chemical Weapons Attack.

  62. tony

    Meaningless and dishonest statement. Comparably, how much death was involved in the creation and maintenance of the Roman Empire you used as an example of a successful multiethnic state, when compared to the successful enthonationalist states like Norway?

    Your thinking is on the level of those arguing Gaddafi must be deposed because
    he was a bad guy.

  63. different clue

    The problem with “restructuring” the EPA is that the “restructuring” is intended to “restructure” the EPA out of functional effective existence so as to set all the infinite-polluter wannabes free to pollute infinitely. The Bannon-Moore plan would need to be opposed for now at the Congressional level.

  64. Peter


    That’s utter BS and you know it, the EPA is still a $6billion powerhouse. They will no longer be a career center for climate scientists and will need to direct their efforts towards their core mandate of regulating real dangerous pollution that still injures people..

    Republicans will certainly push the cost side of the cost/benefit equation now that they have the power but that is expected after years of overreach. The other think the EPA won’t be doing is bypassing congress and imposing foreign agreements on Global Warming snake-oil cures.

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