- The Latest From Post Apathy
- January Reading
- From Post Apathy
- Culture & Society
- Governance & Statecraft
- Political Economy
Post Apathy in 2021
We’re back after a short winter break, and entering into year three of the coronavirus and its consequences for the human race. It’s also going into year three for Post Apathy, and I’m glad to look back on the past years’ reading and writing, and in anticipation for the work to be done in the year ahead.
In 2021, I published several articles on Post Apathy. Below, you can find the most widely read pieces (and my personal favourites):
- Notes on Great Founder Theory - Reviewing Great Founder Theory and exploring the role of industry in shaping material reality and being core to political sovereignty.
- The Genesis & Succession Crisis of Islam - Re-interpreting the political crises of the early Islamic period as a crisis of succession - one whose seeds were planted right at its formation, and arguably, had to have occurred. Instead of being a source of confusion, these events should be a source of humility when we think about the political nature of man.
- A Problem of Allocation - Looking at how institutions play the roles of allocators, and how this is one of the metrics by which to judge the functionality (or non-functionality) of an institution.
- An Era of Wolves - Understanding why young men are a problem in society, but why contemporary discourse around male violence is misplaced.
The bulk of my reading in 2021 has been centred around the themes of industrial policy (particularly tracing its genealogy back into early modernity), the continued success of China in the coronavirus era, elite composition in the American empire, and the role that scientism and high modernism plays in society. These themes and their intersections remain somewhat vague, but a picture is starting to form - one in which an American elite, reliant on a managerial bureaucracy that ran the empire, is now lost about its purpose and has haemorrhaged its manufacturing base, while China’s elite goes from strength to strength as it continues to acquire a larger share of the global economy.
Power is not an abstract phenomenon. It is made up of millions of individuals with their own factions, self-interests, and ideologies. States, companies, secret societies, and other forms of institutions and organisations are part of the shifting landscape of competition, both foreign and domestic, and no one arena is the same as the other. Each nation and industry requires its own framework for analysis, let alone attempting to integrate the entire picture into one macro-analytical framework. This is the only way we can understand who has power, what motivates them, why they succeed or fail - and more importantly in our age of discord, who are the counter-factions looking to replace them. We’re lucky that this research is being conducted by motivated individuals, many of whose works I’ve endeavoured to share through my digests.
I’m looking forward to sharing further articles, book reviews, and of course, my monthly digests with you all in the coming year. Without further ado, you can find January 2022’s reading list below.
January ‘22 Reading
From Post Apathy
- Why Democracy Fails in the Arab World - Analysing a ‘complex systems’ paper on the Arab Spring, and a seminal work of political science, I explore possible reasons for the failure of revolutionary factions such as the lack of ‘democratic social technologies’ and elite patronage. Ultimately, constructing complex societies isn’t just a matter of ballot boxes and the popular will, nor can it be achieved without significant elite buy-in.
- Notes on Forging Global Fordism - I’ve published my book notes on Forging Global Fordism, looking at the industrial competition between states in the interwar period, the critical role of the Ford Motor Company in the aspiration of industrialising nations around the world, and consequences for the future. I’ll be pulling on certain threads in this book for articles in the near future. My Notes on Great Founder Theory shares a lot of themes with this book.
- Here be humans - An exploration of the diverse origins of mankind, looking at the rise and decline of Neanderthals and Denisovans.
- Horror & Prehistory - A tantilising read on the deepness of time and human origins, combining archaeological observations with Lovecraftian horror. What did our ancestors know and feel in the time before time?
- On the Party and the Princelings - A review of the memoirs of a former high-flying Chinese billionaire, offering a different view of Chinese politics: more often than not, infighting results out of inter-elite factionalism and rivalries, not ideology or policy.
- 2021 Letter | Dan Wang - An extraordinarily well-written reflection on the nature of China’s economic, social, and political structures, and the diversity of each of China’s megaregions.
Culture & Society
- The Lost Virtue of Skull and Bones - An under-the-hood look at what was once one of Yale’s premier secret societies, and its inglorious fall owing to generational shifts in values and cultural attitudes. The failure of elite succession in America is one of the key themes to follow to understand both domestic and foreign failures in American statecraft.
- The Secret is Crime - An enjoyable piece of literature exploring the relationship and shared tactics between the ‘low’ (the underground world of crime) and the ‘high’ (aristocrats, emperors, and empire-builders). They’re closer than we think. Change comes from their convergence, not from the ‘stable middle’ that is unable to produce new ideas.
Governance & Statecraft
- The Procedure Fetish - A long read on how proceduralism has been adopted as a modus operandi in America’s legal and political system. Proceduralism is death by a thousand cuts - a faction ties down another faction through legal technicalities, loopholes, and other ‘minor’ obstacles that ensure any proposal or ambition is killed. The problem is that what was once a convenience tactic becomes truth and defines the entire system of governance.
- Public Choice Theory and the Illusion of Grand Strategy - Hanania summarises his new book, exploring how American ‘grand strategy’ has remained un-updated since the Cold War, and how the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were not based on grand strategy but on domestic politics.
- Liberal Education is Applied History - An exploration of the evolution of Harvard, and the development of ‘applied history’ as the new curriculum of choice to cultivate an elite.
- The Rise And Fall of Civilizations: A Reader Course - A juicy, 29-book long course on the rise and fall of civilisations. A great guide for either personal, directed reading or even a book club.
- Dismal Economics - A review of multiple books criticising one of academia’s reigning orthodoxies: neoclassical economics. Economics curriculums have been stripped of historical study or context, gatekeeping academic journals in favour of abstract, theory-based papers that have no correlation with reality.
- The Debtors' Revolt - A fantastic long read into the rise of the ‘debtor-aristocrats’ and the use of war to subvert the creditor bourgeoisie and extract wealth from them. Debt is often viewed as a form of bondage, but if you’re powerful enough, your creditor is the bonded. It goes back to the old adage, ‘if you owe your bank a million dollars, it’s your problem. If you owe your bank a billion dollars, it’s their problem.’
- Against Technological Inevitability – On 20th Century Critics of Technology - A long read looking into the ideas of 20th-century critics of technology, going well beyond our own narrow understanding of tech as being a small slice of large software companies, but the fuller range of technologies that apply to daily life.
- Does Not Compute - A timely warning against over-quantifying life, and how what we perceive as logical is not necessarily how the universe operates.