Power Politics on the Indigenous Continent

Professor Pekka Hamalainen wrote the book I was going to write. The book I had started research on in 2019 and planned to write since 2015. However, taking on lots of research and writing projects outside of this field slowed my normal breakneck speed for such things to a crawl. With the release of Indigenous Continent: The Epic Contest for North America, however, it looks like I lost the race. You might think I am going to whine about this, but I am not. Hamalainen is possibly my favorite currently active historian and I cannot think of a person I would have rather lost this race to. I constantly recommend his work to people, especially The Comanche Empire, which I still regard as his best book. Additionally, and this I realized the day after I learned this book was going to come out, having the general meta-historical narrative out there and completed actually frees me to focus in the future on the real core of my specialty: the geopolitical theory of large Native American confederacies. My opening still exists, and may even be better by being more focused. No longer having to include as large a historical section means it might even end up being a very large article or book chapter rather than a whole book. So my options for publication increase.

I believe this background means I am one of the most qualified people to review this book. I would first like to start with the positive aspects, which are the largest number of reactions I have.

Hamalainen gives us a very 5,000 feet above and looking down view on Native American history from precontact until the late 19th Century and the final round of ‘Indian Wars.’ Works like this are inevitably going to avoid too much hyper-specific detail and focus instead on broader strokes, but despite this the book manages to be almost as complete a narrative as it is possible for such a work to be. This big picture focus is on the political power, autonomy, and dynamism of Native American actors even deep into the period when colonists began seizing land and becoming powers in their own right. As a theme, this focus is kept consistently throughout the text. In providing this service, Hamalainen gives us a macro-history that restores Native Americans to their rightful place as part of the continents balance of power rather than simply being either ‘savages’ or ‘helpless victims’, which is what the two dominant strands of hyper-ideologues in North American history tend to reduce them to. This recognizes the importance of understanding these polities in ways separate both from progressive and reactionary Eurocentric scholarship.

The geographic space covered is from the desert border separating Mesoamerica from North America (a major cultural divide that predates colonization in many ways) up to the Canadian arctic. The focus naturally tends towards the bigger and more geopolitically significant nations and alliance networks, such as the Haudenosaunee, Cherokee, Anishinaabe, Comanche, Lakota, etc.

While it is apparent to anyone widely read in Native American history, particularly in niche specialist books about specific areas and time periods, that some of these confederations (especially the Haudenosaunee and Comanche) were most often the strongest powers in the region, general macro-historical narratives often ignore or downplay this despite their ability to outlast and defeat multiple European colonial projects. Hamalainen’s book’s primary contribution is showing how for the first century after colonization native powers were the strongest all over, and how even in the century after that both the Lakota and the Comanche still maintained dominance in particular regions. This is important and necessary work for the field. And long overdue in a generally accessible format like this work is.

I do, however, have some critiques.

The first and more minor one is that two major actors in this narrative still get a fairly short shrift. I do understand from personal experience one must always highlight some things and de-emphasize others. I did it quite a bit of this selection in my own book. But a person reading Indigenous Continent with little preexisting knowledge of the subject would definitely not quite get the power of the Blackfoot Confederacy at its height nor the uniqueness of the Tlingit experience. The second in particular would serve as a great example because of it mostly fighting the Russian attempt to colonize America to a stalemate, but more importantly because of its maritime and naval character. The Tlingit and Haida had canoes that were so large they were more like longships or small galleys and small cannon were often mounted on them. They wore body armor made of washed ashore Chinese and Japanese coins that was often bulletproof to musket fire. They lived what might have been the highest standard of living in the pre-Victorian world due to their ability to exploit the Pacific Northwest’s natural riches in such a way as to develop an extremely sophisticated material culture without having to engage in farming or urbanization.

A more substantial critique I have is that the (correct) fixation on Native power and autonomy in the book can sideline the very real existential dangers faced by native people from the start, and so once the tables turn against the native powers it can come across to the reader as extremely jarring and almost unexpected. A few paragraphs near the start really explaining why Natives were so disproportionately effected by Eurasian disease (it was because of there being far more domesticatable animals in Eurasia giving people who grew up around them for generations far greater disease resistance but also greater ability to spread them) would have helped the general reader. This would show clearly that these persistent and proportionally deadly outbreaks turned North America into a place of pure chaos and destruction from the 16th Century onwards. This was the single most post-apocalyptic setting human beings have ever found themselves on a hemispheric scale in recorded human history. Rather than diminish the narrative of Native power and autonomy it actually increases it by making the achievements of these countries that survived and for a time even thrived all the more impressive.

These events are of course talked about in Hamalainen’s book but not in a central way. This means that the constant background of irreplaceable losses among natives is sidelined along with the concurrent growth of the settler populations not only due to immigration but also a truly staggering and long lasting baby boom. This was something the more destabilized native powers could not replicate, and thus by the early 18th Century the tide really had turned against them and they were clearly headed towards perpetual underdog status through demographics. Yet in Hamalainen’s narrative settler advantage seems to only really appear about 50-100 years after this, which could throw a reader for a bit of a loop.

None of these critiques of mine sabotage the point of the book or its importance, however. I believe this is the correct book to introduce general audiences to the importance and awesomeness of Native American history and finally rewrite the focus of the narrative around North American history. The history of the peoples before the rise of what we now call modern North Atlantic society is every bit as important in understanding this continent and how to live on it as that which has come since.

Cancelled (A Special Halloween Grindhouse Trailer Script)

A Bit of a Halloween special for my regulars. I had the idea for a mock trailer in the style of 70s and 80s B-horror movies but since I lack the ability to quickly turn out a film in time for the holiday you get a short script instead. Anyway, enjoy ‘Cancelled‘ (released in the UK under the title ‘Polypans‘ and in Italy as ‘Zombi V: House of Deadness.’

A large van with an early 60s design but with futuristic accents such as hydrogen power plugs and slick almost hovering wheels pulls up to the end of an abandoned looking dirt road at the edge of the woods. Four teenagers dressed in a hybrid style between the 90s and the early 60s but with new and unprecedented fashion accents exit the car. They are all fit and attractive people. Two males, two females.

NARRATOR: This Halloween, get ready for a homecoming.

HANDSOME LEADER GUY: Here it is.

DUSHKU LOOKING GIRL: We’re going to stay HERE?

Cut to what they are looking at. An abandoned suburban neighborhood. Long neglected and being taken over by overgrowing woods. Autumn leaves are changing and multicolored leaves swirl through the air.

HANDSOME LEADER GUY: Where my parents grew up. Where they had to flee from due to the war. I’m taking it back.

FUNNY BLACK GUY: And you just brought us along to help fix up pretending it was a camping trip?

GOTH GIRL: I like it, it makes a STATEMENT.

Cut to puffy eyes behind cat’s eyes glasses looking through the bushes at the teens and heavy breathing.

The teens have made a ‘camp’ inside one of the overgrown suburban buildings, fire roaring in the fireplace being the only thing keeping the dark at bay.

DUSKU LOOKING GIRL: So what’s the story with this place?

HANDSOME LEADER GUY: Ever since my folks left in the Culture Wars, no one has been here. Only now that we are rebuilding did I find out I still have the deed.

GOTH GIRL: It was places like these that they originally came from you know. The Cancelers.

Sudden look of fear passes between all the teens.

GOTH GIRL: For years they reigned. Anyone could be fired, shunned, or disappeared for offending them.

Cut to the basement, POV of looking up through the floorboards at the teens. Sounds of multiple people breathing heavily.

GOTH GIRL: Living standards declined, the people suffered under the feudal reign of technology companies who used them to divide the populace. Society was given only identities in recompense for their trouble. But then, the uprising began-

FUNNY BLACK GUY: Yeah, this is primary school stuff. Why did no one come back out here though. Free land.

GOTH GIRL: The suburbs were tainted and left to rot. After the purges people thought the few surviving Cancelers would return there.

DUSKU LOOKING GIRL: Then why are we here?

Back to the POV of whatever is under the floorboards.

(O.S.) AGED VOICE: Take them.

GOTH GIRL: Nothing has been seen of the survivors since.

HANDSOME LEADER GUY: Its time to take back the heritage robbed from us-

The trapdoor bursts outward into the campers in a spray of wooden shards as multiple emaciated scuttling forms emerge and assault the teens. They are middle-aged and withered, looking like meth heads.  They wear weathered Mardi-Gras style anime girl heads that obscure their faces.

NARRATOR: But this home is no safe space.

Rapid flashing of dark scenes under ground as the anime-headed skinny men beat and carry the teens down earthen tunnels filled with pastel-colored children’s toys and broken electronic equipment.

The four are dumped in a kind of throne room akin to a hoarder’s nest. From a tunnel that recedes into blackness comes a mechanical whirring that grows ever closer.

NARRATOR: It the nest of things better left buried.

The four scream as a bloated woman with no legs emerges from the dark on a mobility scooter. Her hair is asymmetrical and blue, her eyes milky under cracked cat’s eye glasses.

BROODMOTHER: Xze, Xzi, Xzo, Xzum. I smell the blood of CISCUM.

The anime heads prostrate in front of her and then scuttle about. The Broodmother points to the Funny Black Guy. ‘He will do nicely to start.’

He screams as two anime-heads pick him up and carry him forward. Broodmother spreads her legs.

BROODMOTHER: Welcome to the polycule, you will know honor here, Pee Oh Cee.

FUNNY BLACK GUY: (desperately) Wait! I’m gay! I can’t! No women sorry!

Broodmother’s face become livid.

BROODMOTHER: DID YOU JUST ASSUME MY GENDER?

The anime-heads recoil in shock.

BROODMOTHER: POLYCULE! LEAVE NONE OF THESE FASCISTS ALIVE!

The anime-heads raise their ‘faces’ into the air and let out a keening wail in unison as the four teens struggle free and flee down the darkened corridors.

NARRATOR: They did not know the folly of coming. They did not heed the warnings of those who said stay out of the suburbs.

Montage of scenes of the characters struggling with anime-heads in the dark, sudden ambushes and rusted torture chambers flash before our eyes as horror synth reaches a manic crescendo. Handsome Leader Guy is clearly shown on a leash, scrambling about on all fours and forced to eat viscera from a dog bowl. Dushku Looking Girl knocks an anime-heads mask off, recoiling from the neckbeardish face beneath which we briefly see has an impossibly expanding mouth opening ever wider like a gateway into a portal of tongues.

NARRATOR: Now it is THEY who are…

Goth Girl clutches a hatchet in panic as she hides under a desk in what looks like an abandoned human resources office while the Broodmother looms in the doorway in silhouette.

BROODMOTHER: There’s no room for your problematic edginess in this wholesome home, sweaty.

NARRATOR: CANCELLED!

(Rated R. Coming to theaters near you this Halloween. Don’t See it alone.)

The Aughts Were Better for Gays Than the Woke Era (reprint)

I just became aware that an article I was quite proud of is no longer available due to the site it was hosted on going offline. RIP Twink Revolution. Your podcast and written content will be sorely missed. Thankfully, I still have the old file and so am going to repost at least my own contribution to the magazine here as it was when first uploaded in December of 2020.

I do think that in the time since this piece has aged well and remains relevant.


The Aughts were cringe. Dane Cook was one of the most popular comedians. Carlos Mencia had a television show. You couldn’t enter a movie theater without being forced into seeing the trailer for ‘Stealthat least once. The United States had invaded Iraq as part of a rage-induced post-9/11 pathos despite that country having literally nothing to do with those attacks. Heritage Foundation interns then attempted to reconstruct the Iraqi government from a hermetically sealed governing pod called ‘The Green Zone,’ no doubt while listening to the rapidly degenerating solo career of Gwenn Stefani as she told the world that her shit was bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S. 

Shit may have been bananas elsewhere, but one area where the culture was decidedly on point was on the immense strides made by the gay rights movement in that decade. Successes which, in retrospect, could not exist in today’s utterly homogenous and moralistic dominant culture. 

One of the advantages afforded by the period of chaos unleashed by 9/11, Iraq, The Great Recession, and the calamitous collapse of the Bush regime from top of the world to leaving office with around a twenty percent approval rating was that cultural norms were questioned. Not in some superficial issue-by-issue basis like we have now, but in a way that fundamentally interrogated the very foundation of our concepts of morality. Public opinion went from decidedly hostile to homosexuals and bisexuals (Jerry Fallwell even blaming them for 9/11 on live television) to overall societal ambivalence with young people moving firmly into a generally positive disposition towards such minorities over the course of roughly a decade. It is worth remembering that this change occurred in a time when both political parties were at least somewhat hostile, and no major politician willingly embraced the cause of gay rights. The rhetoric of gay rights had little to lose, so could be suitably mean. Politicians were bullied relentlessly. The endless numbers of homophobic closet cases in the GOP became a running gag. It was about asserting divergence from the norm as a point of pride rather than spreading a gospel of gay. It worked not in spite of lacking decorum but because it had no such performative scruples. No one wanted to be a “good person”, they wanted to be effective advocates. Sometimes, that meant being bad.

Compare this record to the recent dip in the growth of acceptance of sexual orientation minorities. Considering that religiosity among the young is not increasing right now, it is hard not to see this as a result of the woke culture war backfiring. Being for gay rights is no longer an anti-moral values alternative, but part and parcel of integrating into the moralistic politics of a country whose first settlers were Puritans and whose dominant culture has never broken out of their mold. The secularization of politics did not change the unchallenged assumptions of the missionary that still lurked within. The liberal adoption and promotion of a very specific and suburban subset of LGBT issues focused on marriage and personal expression rather than addressing critical disparities in homelessness and housing security shows how these issues have become just another liturgy.  

This enables social conservatives to pretend to be a brave counterculture when appealing to people neutral on social issues and thus to make gains using the same methods used by gays last decade. This is a ridiculous farce that shouldn’t even be possible as there is nothing rebellious against an ideology about the maintenance and defense of the status quo, but in the Woke Era, it is gaining traction under the auspices of the liberal establishment. The neoliberals are the dominant establishment of the discourse now and anyone too close to them will be painted in the same brush as their declining socio-economic system.

How did we get here? 

The final and drawn-out collapse of the decades-long power of the theocratic Moral Majority, which was one of the dominant trendsetters of cultural commentary in the 1980s, became a power vacuum where straight people could declare independence from a dying order by adopting causes such as equal legal rights for gays. But as more people raised within the confines of conventional American morality adopted these causes, these causes, in turn, became reflections of the morality with which the gay rights movement had made so much success opposing in the first place. 

The turning point for this resurgence of cultural reaction had to have been around 2012. While the world failed to end according to the then-popular misreading of the Mayan calendar, the Era of Edge gave way to the Era of Woke. The world may as well have ended, so far as oppositional subcultures were concerned. The reason for this was simple, the establishment realized that the new hip cause of gay rights had now become popular enough that it could be co-opted in support of maintaining their entrenched power, supplanting the role culture war had played for conservatives until this point. 2012 would go on to give us Upworthy and Kony2012 among many other imitators, the former being an example of the coming Breitbart-style degeneration of liberal media over the course of the 2010s and the latter the first go at weaponizing progressive caremongering for the facilitation of further military interventionism. Both of these would become mainstream trends as the new decade ticked on. Woke evangelism would expand part and parcel with these new trends. A social credit prosperity gospel that exists to assure its followers that they are protagonists of their own story, and all they had to do was have strong opinions on social issues. If you believe Burkean conservatism laundered through a progressive HR department is the best way to combat the forces of reaction and entrenched power, I suppose it is a success.

A movement propelled to success by being offensive, contrarian, and against the (then) cultural zeitgeist is now held up to be the very model of our intersectional empire with much of its history sanitized for mass consumption by being presented as an inevitable outgrowth of cautious patience and faith in progress. In fact, it has so much cache that it’s increasingly common for de facto heterosexuals to call themselves ‘queer’, usually for just having a bad haircut and gangrene-tinted dye job. But being an agoraphobic nerd is not a sexual orientation. The hijacking of the discourse around sexual orientation by what are effectively Habanero Heteros is precisely why the contrarian gains of the past have been watered down into nothing more than a public performance and recycled versions of old-timey moral panic. What better way to keep ideological competition from piercing the bubble of establishment media than a new and obscure litmus test? 

What is to be done about this? While no future will ever be identical to a past era, these types of moralistic fads do tend to come and go. But rather than just wait for the woke tide to recede out the way of its evangelical predecessors (who can even tell when that will be?)  we could learn from one of the few good things of the Aughts…its delightfully oppositional and contrarian rhetoric. Reject unity with the discourse and embrace divergence and rebellion, even if that makes you, gasp, an edgelord. Have the courage to have views based on knowledge and experience rather than the dogmatism of trendy and ephemeral alliances and established ideological camps. Minorities do not do well under forcefully homogenized societies and it is our task to create a new subversive counterculture to this bloodless liberal pantomime whose only purpose is to stroke its own ego as society decays around it. Woke techno-neofeudalism vs an empowered and invigorated far right as its only opposition is not an acceptable choice, but it is the only choice left if we do not break with the pieties of the present era for something else entirely. If we do not provide an alternative our enemies will do it for us.

The Mamluk Sultanate: A History (Book Review)

Mamluk Cavalry Riding Amongst the Pyramids of Egypt- art generated using Midjourney

It should not come as a surprise that my favorite (post-ancient) state in the history of North Africa and the Middle East is the Mamluk Sultanate. As a collector both of unique governing systems and ‘barbarian’ run states from the Liao Dynasty to the Haudenosaunee, it should not be surprising that this entity that ruled Egypt, Palestine, and Syria in the late medieval period is the state from that place and time that most stands out to me. Perhaps more pertinently, it was the favorite state of the most influential intellectual on my own life, Ibn Khaldun. He would eventually relocate to this empire and serve as an educator and informal ambassador under its employ. Most famously in this capacity he would meet the conqueror Timur during the siege of Damascus.

Ibn Khaldun’s fascination with the Mamluk state is easy to discern. His own philosophy was about noticing the trends of barbarians to conquer the civilized, set up new vigorous states, and then gradually succumb to complacency and corruption as they became as overly civilized along the lines of the people they once replaced-opening them up to displacement by the next phase of barbarians as the cycle repeated itself. The Mamluks wanted to keep their Turkic and Circassian military character and so recruited new members of the elite by purchasing slaves from what is now the southern steppe regions of Russia. These slaves would then become the personal property of the Sultan (himself a former slave or descendent thereof) and be educated and trained to become the military and ruling class. Distinct from the general population, their internal culture was quite egalitarian and merit based (though frequently unstable when it came to determining succession). Though this model is incredibly distinct both to its time and place (what isn’t?), Ibn Khaldun thought it worth learning from as it addressed many of the problems in premodern governance he had diagnosed.

The question certainly could be asked of us today. What outsider-yet-amenable class can we draw an elite from to keep things going without sliding to poorly into entrenched decline. It is a question that is worth answering, even if it may never be solved.

Art by the late and great Angus McBride in Osprey Publishing.

‘The Mamluk Sultanate: A History’ by Carl F. Petry seeks to give us a thorough examination of this original form of statehood. Extremely comprehensive, Petry’s narrative begins with a summary of the reigns and events of Sultans in the new government, its shaping in the crisis of the Mongol invasions (the only successfully defended country from those assaults in the region), the seizure of power by the nomadic slave-class and their erection of a new form of oligarchy on the ruins of the Ayyubid order, and their initial expansion. This was a ruling class more based on lifestyle than on ethnicity, as even the great defeater of the Mongols, Baibars, aped Mongol court customs and actively tried to recruit defected Mongols into his army. We then see how restrained the Mamluks were once they had direct control over Egypt, Syria, and the Hejaz. For the remainder of their over 250 years, the large and powerful state would act mostly defensively in upholding this order. (The invasion and vassalization of Cyprus being a big exception to this, but that itself was provoked by constant pirate attacks). Considering the quality of its elite troops in its early years and the weakness of many of its rivals, this is impressive and most likely aided the longevity of its regime. Additionally, being a hub of trade, more of its money could go into works of public infrastructure and building than one might expect from a military government largely made up of foreigners who kept themselves apart from most of their subjects.

The coming of the Ottomans, however, would change the situation. Another rising power that gained traction in the post-Mongol world, the Ottoman commitment to technological innovation would be the one thing the Mamluk edifice was not prepared to handle. The fatal flaw of their system was not the occasional coup and counter coups (this never actually divided the realm when it happened), but the requirement of a military based off specialist cavalry warfare. The Ottomans had no such restrictions as their system was hereditary monarchy and they were forged in far more apocalyptic circumstances after the Timurid incursions lay waste to their core regions. Therefore, the Ottomans had become innovators in both technology and tactics in the use of firearms. Something the Mamluks had only just started experimenting with just a few years before in the attempt to recruit a Nubian infantry gunner corps. This experiment, however, was extremely controversial towards guardians of the social order and it was hard to move forward with it before Selim the Grim descended onto Egypt and Syria in what would be the Ottoman Empire’s largest scale and most efficient conquest in its history. As an independent state the Mamluks would be no more, but as a class they would retain their regional rule in Egypt until their decisive defeat by Napoleon and the subsequent modernization programs of 19th Century Egypt as it moved out of the Ottoman orbit.

The remainder of the book breaks down various internal and structural topics of the Mamluk state. Petry is extremely thorough and his work, especially in regards to the political economy, jurisprudence, and promotion of the arts is to be commended. What we are left with is a work that, while lacking general audience narrative flow, has a well organized structure and lends itself well to referencing and citation. This was, no doubt, the intent. And for those of us whose primary fascination is that of the stranger states in history, this book is well worth the time.

Worming Through the Ruins of the Dying Earth

‘He who has trod the shadows of Zothique
And looked upon the coal-red sun oblique,
Henceforth returns to no anterior land,
But haunts a later coast
Where cities crumble in the black sea-sand
And dead gods drink the brine.’

[I made the images used in this post in midjourney]

I have written before about my love for the horror, science fiction, and sword and sorcery genres. But my top fiction loyalty, which contains elements from all of the above, is a more niche subgenre of both pulp and literature known as the Dying Earth subgenre. 

The specific origins of this subgenre are debatable. End of humanity stories are as old as mythology itself. End of the universe stories also date back quite a bit. But stories specifically about the end of Earth (and/or the end of the Sun which presupposes the end of Earth) as an event of finality for the entire world but not the greater universe are a more recent fictional innovation. It is an apocalypse, yes, but one of a specific place. William Hope Hodgeson’s House on the Borderland and The Night Land are probably the first instances of this that everyone can agree fits the model to a tee. Though I would say most of the imagery we have of these settings come from Clark Ashton Smith’s Zothique setting and Jack Vance’s collected works in his Dying Earth setting, which is where the name originates.

What is this dying earth and why is it so evocative? It may be more of a mood than a specific definition.

Imagine you awake after some kind of artificially imposed slumber from deep within a sealed tomb. You were preserved while the solar system drank in the aeons. You now find yourself in a world that is far past its prime. A fading and bloated reddish sun lingers in the sky, flickering like a lamp that at any moment could go out. The horizons of Earth below it are strewn with crumbling ruins and titanic monuments from empires long forgotten which had yet to exist when you last were among the realm of the living. Perhaps vague continental outlines remain that have some degree of familiarity-if you are lucky. But for the most part old Earth is now even more ancient and its cultural trappings are now utterly alien to you.

As you walk through a landscape stalked by alien creatures-some partially recognizable as evolutionary or genetically modified descendants of familiar beasts- some not (perhaps imported from the stars in a now forgotten era of human off-world expansion or alien invasion?) you realize you are in a world where the fragments of future-pasts exist as highly advanced technology which has now degenerated into sorcery and alchemy. Perhaps a few well connected people remember them as sciences and keep this knowledge under lock and key, or perhaps no one does and they are now magic in everyone’s mind no matter how learned. You know only that the ghosts whose tombs you rob to survive on the road are of people who were millennia away from being born when you last walked this planet.

Should you survive in this lower-light world of perils where the stars can often been seen in the daylight and the temperatures are on average lower to what you remember, you may be so…lucky…to come across something more than a ramshackle farming village or merchant town but rather a whole city. The city, no doubt, will have seen better days in its past. Its crumbling monuments are now used as places for washer-maids to affix clotheslines. There is no dearth of unused space, however, so rather than teeming hordes one finds a place where even the poor can live in a kind of graveyard opulence. Here, where the security towards beasts is greater, the insecurity towards humanity increases. The stately and floral language that is the final overripe fruit of humanity often conceals duplicitous and nefarious intent. Should you successfully navigate this minefield of strange and often divergent social norms, you may just find yourself recognized as a fascinating relic from a golden era and elevated into the inner circle of some decadent aristocrat or scholar…or perhaps as the plaything and slave of a mad wizard-scientist. 

Clark Ashton Smith’s Zothique was focused on a Gothic yet romantic conception of bloated exhaustion itself. The last continent on a far future Earth possessing an immense beauty that occasionally shines through its decadent terror. Jack Vance’s Dying Earth, which I confess is my favorite of all fiction collections anywhere, takes this inspiration and really cranks up the comedic and pompous elements of it, with primary characters as bombastic and tragicomic as the faded temples and gods that served as set pieces in Smith’s works. Vance takes great pleasure in presenting a kind of Epicurean end times, where laconic detachment and petty foibles reign over humanity’s twilight epoch. Even the cannibalistic monsters engage in witty repartee with their intended victims. The sun could go out at any minute, why not engage more heavily in the arts, petty squabble, and gourmandism? Reflecting this dynamic perfectly, the Dying Earth tabletop roleplaying game has endless amounts of pettifoggery-based social skills which players can not only employ against NPCs but also each other. Where Smith saw the bloated corpse-worms crawling over a stiffening Earth, Vance saw the immense amusement of the corpse-worms dressed like they were going to the Venetian masquerade ball to play games of wit and compete over social status.

Currently, I am reading through Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun for the third time. It is the most literary of the Dying Earth subgenre entries. The author’s intention was to create something that gains value the more it is re-read, and in this he succeeded admirably. Having far future technology described in the first person to you by someone who both thinks it is normal but is unaware of what it actually is is a fun puzzle to piece through as you read. When you realize that what sounds like a giant mediaeval castle (for it is used as such) is actually a long-parked spaceship whose utility is forgotten, or that archaic classically tinged terms for military units are in fact describing laser-gun armed cavalry mounted atop genetically modified monster-horses, it creates a fun dynamic between author and reader. The archaic nature of terminology from the South America-based protagonist stomping ground becomes even more interesting when you meet the Ascians, a North American people (who I would unseriously posit are descended from Zoomers despite the books publication in the early 80s) who can only speak in ultra-modernist political jargon-slogans. While Wolfe is always a pleasure to read and I recommend this work, I do have to add the caveat that I prefer Smith and Vance in this subgenre overall as the best part of the Dying Earth subgenre (to me) is the inevitability of the Sun/Earth extinction and the effects this knowledge has on the cultures subject to it. In Book of the New Sun (and also in Philip Jose Farmer’s Dark is the Sun) there is not just hope in revival, but real paths to take towards making it a reality. There is nothing wrong with that of course, but it is hardly peak Dying Earth. The emphasis, of course, is on the Dying

If you would like to get a strong dose of the overall atmosphere of this wonderful subgenre in under eight minutes, there is a stunning spoken version of a prose poem from Clark Ashton Smith himself that I believe does the job magnificently. Additionally, if you would like the overall Vancean attitude that I take from such heavy questions coupled with more AI generated art (albeit this time not my own) why not take in the generated visuals of a classic song?

And now we return to a variant of the original set.

Losers and…’Winners?’…of the Ukraine War

Building off of my past post about 6 months ago which was reacting to my first big geopolitical prediction fuck-up, I would now like to list how people are fairing in the ongoing war. I would have much rather done this at the end of the war, but an end is not in sight so now is as good a time as any.

The two losers of the war are Ukraine and Russia. Ukraine, obviously, because the war takes place in their country and is doing all kinds of untold long term destruction. Russia, because to make such small gains on an immediately adjacent and much smaller nation with a flat land border when one has so many military advantages is quite simply embarrassing. The Z-oid cope was that ‘well actually the advance on Kiev was a big feint.’ This is bullshit. It involved too many troops, special forces, and necessary goodwill from Belarus to be anything but an attempt at regime change decapitation. And it failed miserably in front of everyone. The vehicular losses were enormous and the damage to the morale and prestige of the Russian army immense. Now, the war swings back to advantage Russia because of its more narrow focus and one cannot underestimate their advantages at staging a comeback here, but Russia will be incapable of large scale conventional military offenses elsewhere for some time due to the need to replenish stocks of arms and army formations. Ukraine meanwhile, despite having lost so much and no doubt posed to lose much more, has also had gains. A previously fractious society has found a new civic nationalism and unity. An unexpectedly strong military performance implies that much like Finland in the Winter War, even a quantified loss could be a thing of pride going forward. Nevertheless, there is no way to classify being a country sized battlefield but as a loss.

This brings us to the more mixed bag. People who are not outright losing but who are not winning per se either. This is where I would lump in the United States, the United Nations, and many small developing nations. The United States because the immense cost of bankrolling Ukraine’s fight (something overwhelmingly borne of the US with its allies contributions barely noticeable, comparatively). This is a cost paid for the benefit of a non-allied nation and one that should never be an ally considering there is no sustainable solution but a neutral buffer Ukraine. While the U.S. is obviously sabotaging Russian efforts in the country, it risks being sucked into a perpetual involvement right on the border of Russia which badly stretches U.S. advantages and commitments for something that could only be a burden down the line. The United Nations, meanwhile, shows it could play a role in negotiating the end of the war but also at the same time shows off its immense impotence and irrelevancy when actual crisis occurs involving major powers. Finally, smaller nations-especially those who unwisely decided on crash course industrialization at the cost of their local agricultural sector have shown just how enslaved they have become to the global market and the vagaries of fate. If one’s food supply is suddenly a conflict zone everything can go wrong. That being said, the shock of this will almost certainly cause many of these countries to diversify their economy and open up more opportunities for agriculture to be internationally viable in the global market. Right now they suffer, but many of them will find new opportunities going forward if they are wise. Re-localization will not destroy globalization but it will return geography to the forefront of conceptualizing supply chains.

I also want to include myself in this mixed results faction. Because while I totally screwed the pooch on if the war would happen in the first place, the reason I thought it would not (outside of the Donbass anyway) turned out to be right. I thought, considering the increasingly battle hardened army and changing attitudes towards Russia in Ukraine since 2014, coupled with the influx of many heavy weapons meant that a major conventional war in Ukraine would become an enervating quagmire for Russia. Having come to this conclusion about a year before the war broke out, I thought if this looked apparent to me Moscow would also see it too. But the level to which Putin’s government apes Bush Era cult of positivity and stifling of dissent in the higher echelons is truly impressive. If anything, Russia has performed even worse than I expected-and I expected their performance to be far worse than most others did. So, I got the outbreak wrong, but the course of it I got more right than most people-with the majority opinion among analysts seeming to be “Russia will attack and will roll right over Ukraine.” Mine was “Russia will not attack because it would become a suppurating horrorshow right on their border.” Well, Moscow should have listened to me.

So out of all of this, who actually is winning? Who is gaining at a far more noticeable rate than they are losing? This list is the smallest of all. And I’m avoiding talking about defense contractors because no matter the war they always win. This would be the NATO alliance, for finally having a purpose and renewed relevance again after decades to merely exist as an arms buying network, China, for having inherited an even more compliant and subordinate Russia tied to its interests and providing alternatives for people to get around NATO aligned sanctions on that country, and above all Turkey. It pains me immensely to give Erdogan credit in anything but he really has played this crisis extremely well. His country is a rival with Russia yet he has personal rapport with Putin. He allows rich Russians to park their assets in Turkey while still supplying Ukraine with weapons and logistical support. Turkey’s ability to close the Straits into the Black Sea gives it the critical geographic leverage of the conflict and everyone knows it. Its above-average but significantly affordable and easy to maintain Bayraktar Tb2 drone is being ordered all around the world by countries that could not afford more shiny models, ushering in a new era of Turkish influence by exploiting the niche of practical-yet-technical that is going to be the major growth market in most countries. If current trends continue it will be in Ankara, not Moscow, Washington, or Kiev, that the biggest gains of the war are likely to be made.

As the world keeps moving away from unipolarity it is worth keeping in mind that this does not mean a return to US-China-Russia of the 1970s and everyone else waiting with bated breath. It actually means countries like Turkey, Iran, Japan, India, Germany, Indonesia, Brazil, and South Africa will increase their roles between the shatter zones of the great powers. You can read more about this here. This process is only accelerating because of the war and Turkey is the first country to make such overt gains. Policymakers in Beijing, DC, and Moscow best factor this in for their future calculations.

Sovereignty and the Missionary Pestilence

There is an interesting legal case brewing in the Pine Ridge Reservation about trying to restrict the activities of an obnoxious white missionary. I suggest reading this for more details. But it kind of sums up a lot of more obscure ideas that I have kept on this blog only and why I am continuously evolving them. Especially given the background of the Pope’s recent apology tour which means nothing while the Spanish/Portuguese version of neoconservatism, The Doctrine of Discovery, remains on the books.

The Iroquois made great sport of burning Jesuits-a group that had been allowed to infiltrate and infest the Huron. I would content this played a part in the Haudenosaunee Confederacy outlasting its Huron and French rivals in addition to their skillful diplomacy.

The purpose of these missionary people, as it always has been since their rise to prominence in the Late Classical Era, is to find the most psychologically diseased and desperate members of a society and elevate them out of their rightful place at the bottom and put them at the top as compliant puppets. To achieve a kind of rule by and for the psychologically frail. This explains its popularity in certain parts of the world where philosophical tradition already paved the way for the disembodied ideal to take precedence over the value-neutral adaptably pragmatic. That or parts of the world with the misfortune to be conquered by those with such idealist hang-ups. Which is also why North Sentinel Island did nothing wrong.

Tribal law will serve as a test case in internal politics here in the U.S. But it also goes to show why even though I take generally pro immigrant views I will never endorse Open Borders nonsense. The ability to regulate who can enter a community and what they can do upon doing so is vital to prevent forced homogenization and to provide protection from trendy fads that claim to be the future. Because I am fine with Central American immigrants does not mean I am fine with all potential groups of people out of some bland statement of common humanity. One day, a group might arise somewhere that is overwhelmingly beholden to some fanatical ideology that demands mass conformity to its doctrine in a way people from Latin America presently do not.

Strong states and societies can keep missionaries (and their fellow travelers like many preachy humanitarian NGOs) out. Only weak societies let themselves be walked over by militant carelords whose stated humility runs part and parcel with their ballooning hubris that they are the vanguard of a new world order bringing enlightenment to those who have yet to bow to them. And if the laws and customs are the same everywhere (the Christian-Muslim-Victorian-liberal dream) where do you go to when the laws become insufferable? Are you complacent enough, even if you support the monoculture, to assume it will always be good to you? Nothing stays the same forever. World history reaches no predetermined and uniform endpoint save perhaps entropy or creative destruction and reboot/recycle. Therefore, world views that promise such a thing can be confidently stated as either lying or deluded. Yet their appeal to the weak and bitter is its own form of self perpetuating power, like a democratized pyramid scheme. Of course, the irony of such totalizing views is that they cannot live without enemies to compare themselves with. But unlike others that can acknowledge this division as natural they cannot, and so their moments of triumph inevitably give way to sectarian division and mutual cancellation…for where go the self righteous when there is no one left to convert? They turn inward and wreak their missionary activities upon each other as the pyramid scheme of conversion must continue. Division always reasserts itself and no belief complex last forever. Even if, as I have written about professionally, they take on changed and more contemporary forms.

The problem is not that they will succeed, for they will not. It is a problem of how much damage they inflict on their doomed quest before they inevitably fail. How many alternatives to monoculture are destroyed or assimilated unnecessarily to sate this lust for mandatory togetherness in service of a project that will fail but make everything more insufferable as it does so anyway? In the end even this comes to naught of course, but living through it in real time is the thing to be avoided.

With the power of sovereignty, however, this problem can be situationally mitigated. This is why Japan didn’t become the Philippines in the age of discovery. Sovereignty itself is a fake concept of course, but one which has more truth to it than any messianic religion or social fad. This is because when it fails it is acknowledged to be lost, and can only be a concept of import when it works. To work it must have both some in group consensus and some external recognition of territorial rootedness. Those things, unlike vague and odious monocultural concepts of salvation, grace, enlightenment, social justice, [Current Year] or ‘the end of history’ can actually exist in a concrete way in the material world. Likewise, the assertion of sovereignty begets other different sovereignties, which, in turn, protects distinctiveness. It should come as no surprise that the most obnoxious missionaries of today-the ones who prey on war refugees and impoverished native communities, come from the United States, a country that has for most of my lifetime held itself up as the universal empire and arbiter of what is right and wrong in the world. It is only by asserting such sovereignty (be at tribal or international level) that one can choose to exclude what seeks to forcibly assimilate.

Thankfully, human tribalism is intrinsic and cannot be defeated by any ideology. But I would much rather live in a society capable of suppressing and interdicting the worst of the carelords. And I support others who wish to do so in their own way as well. In our particularly Anglo-Protestant culture complex this is especially hard. We are every bit as close to the heart of the beast as sane people who live in Saudi Arabia are. But, as I have stated before, I do believe there is a way for the sane to work within our cursed traditions to achieve a far more optimal outcome.

In the meantime, support for tribal sovereignty (and indigenous religion) within the context of U.S. domestic politics remains an imperative someone like myself who follows the ideas of The Black Longhouse must uphold to the utmost.

A Selection of My Favorite Short Stories

Every year for awhile now a friend of mine sends me an image for my birthday which is usually Clark Ashton Smith themed. I figured one of these would go well here.

I feel like the short story gets too little attention. Proportionally speaking, I read them (and write them) much more than full length novels. In the future, perhaps, I will list some of my favorite novels. But make no mistake, this list is more important to my interests then that of the novels would be. The short story, much like the film (compared to , say, the currently in vogue television season) is a much more self contained creature whose focus tends towards a focused approach. That being said, I do tend to prefer longer rather than shorter short stories. The difference between a novella and a longer short story can be hard to pin down, but personally I would classify it as whether you could read something in 1-2 sittings on average. Therefore, for example, I will not be listing anything from my favorite author Jack Vance (who I have written about here before and will do so again), whose best books are mostly novellas requiring more than 2 sittings to complete. Though ‘Guyal of Sfere’ is his best short work, for what it is worth.

I will not be listing all of my favorite stories. Nor will I be ranking them in a specific order. I have also limited the list to only one story per author, lest a few people (and especially Clark Ashton Smith) dominate this list overmuch. What I like most in short stories is a strong evocative mood whose power is unique to a particular tale, and I will try to get one author per the type of story I most like. Obviously, this being me, this is heavily biased towards horror and sword and sorcery. If I feel so inclined, I may include a ‘runner up’ from the same author of another tale I almost made the entry. There are no (major) spoilers and descriptions are meant to say why the story is good rather than great detail about its contents.

I also will not be including stories that are not as good if read just on their own and thus require other stories for better context (sorry Lean Time in Lankhmar by Fritz Lieber). To be on this list, the story must be fully contained and not need any context outside itself.

Dead Authors

Clark Ashton Smith–The Dark Eidolon:

No point beating around the bush here since his name has already been dropped twice. Also, even though I am not ranking these, there is still such a thing as first among equals.

The Dark Eidolon, which is in the public domain and you can listen to it here, is a masterpiece of dark fantasy and lush vivid imagery. Smith, who is already like if Dionysius wrote tales in a setting part Kentaro Miura and part Baudelaire, goes all out to make a story of supernatural revenge involving mass necromancy and stunning visuals which he himself said was ‘among his best’ and that would have looked great in the then young field of film. As such, I have always imagined it rendered in lush high contrast interwar black and white within my mind when I read it. Overall, it is a feast of mental imagery that calls to mind the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch in prose.

(Runner Up: The Double Shadow)

H. P. Lovecraft–The Shadow Over Innsmouth:

The one extremely famous author on this list, so the one I am inclined to say the least about. Let us just say, all of Lovecraft’s best writing and pathos come together in a now famous tale of alienation, fear of the other, and ultimately, fear and embrace of oneself. People say this tale of exploration of a dying seaside town and the human-fish people hybrids within is an ultimate example of Lovecraft’s (even then) quite legendary racism, but if so it also predicts his evolution in later life towards more nuanced perspectives when he realized he was just as monstrous as everyone else and his true hatred was for humanity in general.

(Runner Up: The Music of Erich Zann)

Robert E. Howard–Black Colossus:

Of course the big three from the original Weird Tales heyday of the 1930s are all here! My personal favorite Conan tale combines many different elements that make the character and his setting so iconic. Conan as an adventurer who becomes a leader, aspects of survival horror, and epic battles where swords and pikes clash on shields. While the first tale I read to really hook me into Howard was (Runner Up:) The Scarlet Citadel, and thus it retains a special place in my heart, Black Colossus remains the ultimate Conan story.

Alice Bradley “Raccoona” Sheldon–The Screwfly Solution:

It is very hard to pull off a horror story that reads like a thriller and retain both the atmosphere and the pacing of watching events unfold in real time. Watching human civilization crumble through mass femicide and placed firmly in the context of zoological experimentation has a cold detached logic of its own, which in this case is expertly paired with the very real personal loss and madness of the observing characters for an impressive roller coasting of building tension.

Karl Edward Wagner–Lynortis Reprise:

KEW is hugely underrated and might just be second only to Howard in the field of low fantasy. While I personally prefer Wagner’s full book length fantasy tales most of the time, the one of his short stories that really stands out to me is Lynortis Reprise. (Runner Up:) Where the Summer Ends covers him for horror and may be a technically better story, but Lynortis is just so damn unique. It uses the nature of Wagner’s recurring immortal protagonist to his best extent, having Kane return to the site of an awful siege he fought long ago to find old veterans there still living as the horror of the combat made them too broken to go anywhere else. These living ghosts serve as a foil for the lingering effects of war long after history moves on, and they revere the brutal and amoral Kane for his role in the battle that made their new cursed life.

Living Authors

John Langan–Mother of Stone:

An astonishingly executed second person story that begins as an academic investigation into the statue of a lost god that gradually evolves into one of the moodiest and actually fear inducing tales to ever exist. The less I say about it the better, but it and its (Runner Up:) ‘The Revel’ from the same collection was what got me back into writing horror after a few years in hiatus and experimenting with new ways of style to do so. The sheer ornate power of Langan’s prose is unmatched and this is is simply his best story.

Laird Barron–The Carrion Gods in Their Heaven:

Well, you know me from past posts. I love coyotes and I love Coyote (singular). Here we have what seems a simple set up of two women on the run from one of their abusive ex’s who end up in the woods. There’s a coyote pelt, some shape shifting, and the best single example of that earthy pagan TerrorWonder (perhaps the author would call this ‘Mysterium Tremendum?) that only Laird Barron does so perfectly. Its a simple and shorter story, but its execution is flawless.

T.E.D. Klein–Nadelman’s God:

If you are like me and of a weird-creative bent, you will love (or possibly hate) this story. What if one of those strange monstrous characters you periodically invent actually came to life, but outside of your control? Nonsense song lyrics used to make an angsty tune in one’s youth ends up becoming a summoning ritual for a mentally ill person who years later happens upon the author’s work. And the ritual succeeds. And garbage made animate to the instructions of forgotten about lyrics now seeks reunion with its erstwhile creator.

(Runner Up: Children of the Kingdom–its like if the movies C.H.U.D. and Summer of Sam were combined in prose and were not only good, but *extremely good*)

Richard Gavin–Mare’s Nest:

Gavin is an underappreciated gem who I suppose would be considered a horror author, but is really more like the dark reflection of pagan wonder on the surface of an algae-shrouded pond in the forest on an overcast day. His ability to be poignant and moving while inspiring wonder in nature and the uncanny is always apparent, but none more so than in his tale of tragedy and renewal for an artist couple.

Honorary Yet Redundant Mention: Thomas Ligotti–The Shadow, The Darkness:

I have written about Ligotti before, particularly about my heretical view that his best work is his novella. However, the one story that stands out among the shorts is the one whose themes are already explored in this prior post here.

There are many, many more short stories I love of course. And yes, many of them are not even in horror! But these were the stand outs to me in this first foray into examining them as a concept.

The Two Party Fundraising System is the Only Winner from Striking Roe v Wade

Knowing it was coming doesn’t make it any less awful now that its here.

People who know me know what I think of this and how fundamental I think abortion rights are, so I don’t really feel the need to say anything else about them now.

What I do what to mention is that since 2000 we have had a branch of government that is held up to be high and mighty and more ‘objective’ and ‘deliberative’ but has a record of voting along partisan lines more even than congress, even deciding the presidential election in such terms. We had one of those parties decide to wage war against reproductive rights over 40 years ago. And we had the supposed opposition to them refuse in all that time to enshrine abortion rights into law, relying on our fragile and stupid court consensus to maintain them (and other things) and even failed to to act when they held a supermajority and the cultural winds at their back in the late 2000s even though a certain hopey changey candidate promised he would.

This is because having a nation-wide policy either uniformly pro or anti was never the point for either of the two big parties in our country. They always wanted a state-by-state variance for abortion access. Why? Because if it was fully secure or fully banned they wouldn’t have anything to fundraise off of. It is in the interest of the party elite to retain loyal partisan mega-donors who are highly engaged in culture war issues and not looking at more structural ones. 10 or so years ago people in the know all knew a nation wide abortion ban was not what the GOP actually wanted, as they would lose a significant slice of their reliable voter base if it went through. Its time to realize the Democrats play the same game too.

Now both of these parties have what they want. And the cash will be flowing. Particularly towards the electorally competitive states.

Most likely, the dumbest people you know will view this as an outcome of the 2016 election and not a multi decade bipartisan process. But what have these people themselves done but been protoplasmic masses of purely reactive nerve endings who have shown themselves incapable, time and time again, of looking at long term processes? When someone calls you fundraising off this issue who was in office in years overlapping with 2008-2011 ask them why they didn’t do anything then then don’t give them a dime. Your money is far better served going towards organizations built around this issue as a health and access right and not just as a political football. The way this game is structured, even being a single issue voter on this one thing would likely only have delayed this preordained result by four years. The court has had a conservative majority for all of my conscious life, and the decision by many to allow rights to privacy sit on this consensus in perpetuity was always a foolish and dangerous assumption. The Roberts Court in particular has one consistent theme present from its birth under Bush through Citizens United and the rest: their core principle is to enable fundraising and donor power at all costs. Here, they are simply being consistent in upholding their desire to make civil society as neofeudal as possible.

Now we will all get to experience a further intensification of hyper-partisan screaming while the environment continues to deteriorate, civil society frays, and class inequality continues to skyrocket.

George, American Realism, and Me

Though I an unable to find the footage today, I have a very distinct memory of being in early high school right at the dawn of the disastrous George W Bush administration. He was speaking at some event in a historical library about the first President, George Washington. He ended on the note ‘George Washington…or as his friends knew him by, ‘George W.’ Heh. Heh.’

It seemed emblematic for how lame George Washington was. The guy on all the dollar bills who we were collectively shoe horned into liking via the educational system. Of course, my first (kid level) study of the Revolutionary War had convinced me that the guy was overrated as a general and a pampered failson in youth so naturally my contrarian nature made me a decidedly strong critic to show my independently thinking chops. This wasn’t wrong. Public education lies about a lot of things and this instinct largely has served me extremely well.

But its also a bit too easy and obvious to crap on an entire generation of (quite innovative) leadership because many of those people owned slaves or were involved in mass land theft. In an era which had yet to see the rise of a meaningful abolitionist movement anywhere outside congregations of Quakers, and where the economy had already turned into land expropriation as default generations before, it seems an act of pointless moralism to just write off everyone and everything by the standards of today. At least back then no one was knowingly barreling towards planet wide environmental disaster and refusing to do anything meaningful about it. Compared to the supposedly enlightened present, the 1776 generation will date extremely well despite its many faults.

After a decade of basically ignoring and avoiding American history to focus on my true Central and Eastern Asian fixations, I began to come back with my first (non-retail) job, at a library and archive dedicated to the American Revolution. Native American history had ended up becoming my capstone college topic (it remains among my very top interests to this day) and was pushing me, geographically, back to North America. It was here I realized that Washington’s war leadership was certainly still flawed at the tactical level, but was exactly the correct thing needed at the strategic level. He played a long game where using space, keeping his army intact, and dealing ruthlessly with the less than stellar subordinates would eventually increase the odds of decisive French intervention in the war, and thus ultimate victory.

As someone who almost certainly would have been a member of the Federalist Party in those early days, its hardly worth mentioning that my reconciliation with Washington’s legacy was easiest on the domestic politics front. But what made me go from hostile to fully approving of his term in office came as I studied his personal letters, diplomatic correspondence, and general foreign policy views. This is something I often come back to and reference today.

Washington, despite his lionization of today being so thoroughly connected to exceptionalists and chauvinists, was neither. The first country the U.S. had official relations with was Morocco, not France. And it was Washington (and others) who stressed in their correspondence with the king there going for years that their political experiment was meant for North America and not for export. Washington himself disavowed not only any messianic liberal project in foreign relations, but also that the new country was in any way a Christian state. It thus would not be committed to spreading any religion abroad nor would it have any trouble having full normalized relations with states of different religions (like so many European states had). It was for reasons like this, rooted as they were in geographic conceptions of sovereignty, that many historical figures of left wing disposition would come to admire him in future centuries.

These were not just statements meant to secure good relations, as they were diplomatic principles Washington would adhere to throughout his tenure in office. The ultra-pragmatic Jay Treaty being the emblematic manifestation of this world view. It was also the primary focus of his famous Farewell Address, as a small and weak nation looked with concern across an Ocean as Europe once again descended into one of its periodic bouts of warfare:

In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential, than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular Nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The Nation, which indulges towards another an habitual hatred, or an habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The Nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the Government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The Government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times, it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of Nations has been the victim.

So likewise, a passionate attachment of one Nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite Nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest, in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter, without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite Nation of privileges denied to others, which is apt doubly to injure the Nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained; and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens, (who devote themselves to the favorite nation,) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.

There is a lot there that runs in direct opposition to the assumptions of so many of the people who sing Washington’s praises today and view themselves his successors. Especially for those inclined to indulge in overly ideological and sentimental conceptions of diplomacy. But also for the entire military industrial complex which insists on a maximum number of permanent alliances in order to create perpetual markets (which in turn create perpetual lobbyists in DC).

So, it is worth thinking that in this presentist time of mass-cancelling the past that sometimes even the most worn out and overly-lauded figures can still have constructive legacies to present us with.