Category Archives: Americana

Society requires memory

Alas, Mrs. Surak was not feeling well enough to travel today. We have postponed our plans. But I will still share some pictures with you, as I promised!

This region is within the boundaries of the USA. It is a little bit different from Baltimore, Berkeley, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Portland, St. Louis, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington DC, and the like.

Here are some of the people.

They live as most of our ancestors lived up until about 200 years ago. They work very hard six days per week, producing much of the food we eat. They then devote one day per week to the worship of almighty God. They are very productive, self-reliant, and close-knit. As in many religious communities, those who dare to question and to leave are “shunned”.

Could you live like that now? Your ancestors did. If there were an electromagnetic pulse weapon directed at the USA, their lives would continue mostly unaware. They would survive more easily than you.

Would you live like that now? Should you live like that now? Their educational level goes up to the eighth grade, I believe. My mind could not accept such constraints. I hunger to know the architecture of God’s mind (logic, mathematics) and the glory of His universe (science, history, philosophy). I revel in the beauty uncovered by musicians and artists. I cannot be satisfied merely to labor.

Yesterday, I offered you an introductory interview with Alexander Dugin: https://www.countere.com/home/an-interview-with-russian-philosopher-alexander-dugin-countere-magazine I do not want to make too much out of Mr. Dugin, but in a time of social collapse, I open my mind to those who have questioned the basic foundations of our society.

As I recall, Dugin and others distinguish between two types of societies. One type, with which we are more familiar, lives closer to the sea, engages more in foreign trade, engages in more intellectual speculation, and is more comfortable altering the parameters of its life. Here, we might be referring to coastal America, Britain, Greece and Rome, and so on.

The other type of society is more continental, more inland, more insulated from outside influences, more traditional, and less willing to change. Presumably Russia is the archetype of such a society. These two types of society are destined to conflict.

Dugin pushes further and identifies the stable societies as those characterized by an ethnos: a specific cultural-ethnic-linguistic identity. China, India, Japan, and Russia all have that distinctive character. So did Britain, France, Germany, and Italy until the late 20th century.

A society does not need to be 100% ethnically pure in order to have a dominant culture, provided assimilation is demanded of immigrants, and the dominant culture is respected by minorities. Once that demand and that respect are declared “racist” (but only in some countries!), that society’s cohesiveness is dead, and it is but a matter of time until the country itself fractures.

I love to visit the area pictured above. I feel calmer and more grounded. Yet my intellect needs to continue to work and to strive upward. In such times, I think a lot about a particular Psalm.

A Song of Maalot [the Temple steps] of David. Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty; nor do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, like a child who is weaned from his mother; my soul is like a weaned child. Let Israel hope in the Lord from this time forth and for evermore.

Psalm 131

I think this may be the secret of the people in the pictures above.

(picture credits: Wikipedia, DiscoverLancaster.com)

The National Museum of the Civil War Soldier

Dear Surak readers, I have returned. I have accumulated a lot to share with you. Let me start with one of our activities today, on the way home.

The 13 original states are full of history. Virginia is especially full of military history, on top of everything else. Our drive up old route 1 today took us past the National Museum of the Marine Corps and the National Museum of the Army. With limited time, I chose Pamplin Historical Park: The National Museum of the Civil War Soldier.

This museum, as the name implies, does not focus on the causes, the campaigns, or the social changes involved in the war. It focuses mostly on the experiences of the common soldier, whether Union or Confederate. You can browse among musical instruments and card games to pass the time. You can also browse among surgical implements and artificial limbs. Some lucky soldiers had the good fortune to be sedated by opium during their operations.

Near the beginning of the exhibit was a remarkable color infographic published on a full newspaper page in 1861. It displayed the results of the complex 1860 presidential election, in which there were not two, not three, but four viable presidential candidates.

Abraham Lincoln got an outright majority of electoral votes, as well as a plurality of popular votes. But although he was the favorite candidate of more voters than any other candidate, he was also the least favorite candidate of more voters than any other candidate. It is arguable that the other three candidates split the anti-Lincoln vote.

One of my research interests is in voting methods for multi-candidate elections. The 1860 presidential election has long been a classic case study in what-if. Suppose different rules had been used to tally voter preferences. Might the result have been different?

There are some scenarios under which northern Democrat Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois could have won the election, including under a voting scheme I favor. If he had been elected, would South Carolina have fired on Fort Sumter? Would the South have seceded? Even if there had been secession, would there necessarily have been war?

To be clear, I am 100% opposed to slavery for anyone. That does not imply that I look back happily on the hundreds of thousands killed, or even reject the prospect of an independent South, that might have reduced the modern imperial overreach of Washington, DC.

Here is a photograph of some old veterans from both sides meeting long after the war’s conclusion. (That glare in the middle was my smartphone.)

Seeing what is happening in today’s society, I feel reasonably confident that these two sets of former opponents would realize that they have far more in common with each other than with their descendants. They, and the veterans of the world wars and more recent conflicts, might well regret the blood they shed for more recent ungrateful, decadent generations. We are not fit to shine their shoes.

Upon my return, I found a delivery of “Irresistible Revolution: Marxism’s Goal of Conquest & the Unmaking of the American Military” by Matthew Lohmeier, a lieutenant-colonel in the US Space Force who was relieved of his command for writing this book. (Isn’t it interesting that the highest quality people usually top out at Lt. Col.?)

We have a lot of catching up to do in the coming week!