Serapis Bey

Unqualified Reservations

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On the near eve of the Fourth of July, here's a wonderful find - a book called True History of the American Revolution which is quoted from in Chapter V of Yarvin's "An Open Letter":

The link is to a Google books search screen.

The book was published in 1902 by none other than the J. B. Lippincott Compsny, the company where I was an editor in the 1970s.

Here's some of Yarvin's discussion.  The Shortest-Way, which he references, was a "black propaganda" pamphlet by Daniel Defoe, full title The Shortest-Way with the Dissenters.


You go back to poking through old books. And you find another one.

This one is a history book. It is only 100 years old—a spring chicken, really. I had never heard of the author and I can’t find any biographical information on him. He is simply a historian. A rather good one, too, as far as I can tell, and quite reputable in his day.

But the book is a little stick of dynamite. It is a critical reevaluation of the foundation myth of the most important government on earth. It is deeply subversive.

According to the official story, the founders were prudent and principled men whose rights had been violated once too often by a tyrannical occupation regime, whose love of freedom finally overcame their love of peace, and who prevailed by their courage and force of arms after a desperate struggle. According to the historian, however…

But why spoil it? The book is Sydney George Fisher’s True History of the American Revolution. (Here is the original New York Times review.) I believe Fisher was an American himself, which is remarkable considering his results. As he puts it in his first paragraph:

The  purpose of this history of the Revolution is to use the original authorities rather more frankly than has been the practice with our historians. They appear to have thought it advisable to omit from their narratives a great deal which, to me, seems essential to a true picture.

To a revision junkie like me, a paragraph like this produces an almost physical excitement. Imagine you’re a crackhead, just walking down the street looking for car windows to smash, when suddenly on the sidewalk you see an enormous rock the size of a softball. Whose is it? Who left it there? Will it fit in your pipe?Who cares? You’re on it like a wolf on a baby.

What (if we are to believe Mr. Fisher) did the historians omit?Let’s resort again to the method of mysteries. Here are some questions about the American Revolution for which you may find you have no good answer:

[I'll skip the questions - the curious may find them in Chapter V.]

There is actually a slight clue to two of these questions in the text we just left—The Shortest-Way. Defoe, or rather his hyper-Tory alter-ego, writes:

The first execution of the Laws against Dissenters in England, was in the days of King James I; and what did it amount to? Truly, the worst they suffered was, at their own request, to let them go to New England, and erect a new colony; and give them great privileges, grants, and suitable powers; keep them under protection, and defend them against all invaders; and receive no taxes or revenue from them!

This was the cruelty of the Church of England! Fatal lenity! It was the ruin of that excellent Prince, King Charles I. Had King James sent all the Puritans in England away to the West Indies; we had been a national unmixed Church! the Church of England had been kept undivided and entire!

(I think we can take it for granted that the difference between sending the Puritans to Massachusetts or Jamaica is not, at least in the narrator’s mind, a matter of climate. Oh, no.)

We learn three things from this passage. One, the issues of the Revolution were already in play 70 years earlier. Two, since Whiggery is the political projection of Puritanism (elsewhere our narrator refers to Fanatical Whiggish Statesmen), this is indeed a conflict of Whig and Tory. And three, at least from the Tory perspective, New England—far from being subjected to unprecedented despotism—has enjoyed a unique set of privileges.

Indeed. As Fisher puts it:

The British government, only too glad to be rid of rebellious Puritans, Quakers, and Roman Catholics, willingly gave them liberal charters. This explains that freedom in many of the old charters which has surprised so many students of our colonial history. Some of these liberal instruments were granted by the Stuart kings, with the approval of their officials and courtiers, all of whom showed by almost every other act of their lives that they were the determined enemies of free parliaments and free representation of the people.

Connecticut, for example, obtained in 1662 from Charles II a charter which made the colony almost independent; and to-day there is no colony of the British empire that has so much freedom as Connecticut and Rhode Island always had, or as Massachusetts had down to 1685. Connecticut and Rhode Island elected their own legislatures and governors, and did not even have to send their laws to England for approval. No modern British colony elects its own governor; and, if it has a legislature elected by its people, the acts of that legislature can be vetoed by the home government. A community electing its own governor and enacting whatever laws it pleases is not a colony in the modern English meaning of the word.Connecticut and Rhode Island could not make treaties with foreign nations, but in other respects they were, as we would now say, semi-independent commonwealths under the protectorate or suzerainty of England.

One of the many neat things about Fisher’s history is that it was written when the British Empire was actually a going concern, not a shadowy boogeyman from the past. From the British perspective, the condition of the “semi-independent commonwealths” was irregular at best, and corrupt at worst.Generally the latter. This space is too short to contain the vast tapestry of corruption and venality that Fisher presents—read the book


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On 7/1/2020 at 6:31 PM, Ellen Stuttle said:

Here's some of Yarvin's discussion.


You are opening a curiosity itch in me. I might dig into Yarvin sooner than I intended (and, groan, push aside some other things for a bit to make space).

But this excerpt you posted of the 1902 book along with Yarvin's comments reminded me of a video I just saw with Steven Crowder and David Barton.

It is fashionable in our corner of the world to crap on David Barton because he is so pro-Christian when he talks about history, but, the fact is, he has a massive collection of original American history documents and other related items. Not only that, he is extremely familiar with them. He actually reads them (or, probably, at times has his staff read them and give him summaries and quotes).

In this video, which I know is not your favorite form of consuming information, I learned something extremely interesting about black history and Barton illustrated his points by showing original documents and publications. I will summarize it from memory (leaving out Crowder's humor, which was not up to his usual par) as I don't have time for more right now. This means I will leave out names of documents and books. I may even be leaving out something important or getting it wrong somehow (although I doubt it). Later I might clean up the transcript Google provides so you can read it (reading it raw is impossible for getting a correct understanding), but don't hold your breath. 🙂 

In short my impression goes like this.

1. Many, many blacks were important to American history since the beginning--and slavery was not fundamental to their importance.

2. A lot of these blacks were pretty famous at the time they lived and after. They were prominent in the culture. There were even books about them or that made reference to them. (Note, I stopped to look up one of the books just as an example with a Wikipedia link: The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution, With Sketches of Several Distinguished Colored Persons: To Which is Added a Brief Survey of the Conditions and Prospects of Colored Americans by by William Cooper Nell. This included an introduction by Harriet Beecher Stowe and was published in 1855 by Robert F. Wallcut. In other words, this was published before the Civil War.)

3. Before Woodrow Wilson became president, he wrote history books where he stripped out most all famous blacks or denigrated them (and blacks in general). After he became president, he promoted his view of history with his own books to back it all up and shoved them into the education system with the big hand of the government. The main future books on history used in American schools were based on Wilson's books.

4. Thus, to modern people, it looks like slavery was the be-all and end-all of black history in America until the Civil War, which makes for a much better victimization story than the horrible one that was reality. But this view actually insults blacks as a race because it is premised on a position that there were no black achievers except for one or two until White America fought with itself to release the incompetent blacks--meaning the entire race. This was the view of the progressive's favorite president who literally shoved a revisionist history about blacks into the American education system that endured for decades and decades.

5. So it is not racist America that modern black historians are correcting nor are these modern historians the first to write published books about famous black people who were forgotten for over a century. It is the racist efforts and actions they are correcting of a powerful progressive (President Woodrow Wilson) and his cohorts since the beginning of last century .

Even with Barton's emphasis and over-emphasis on American Christianity in history, I find these efforts to be extremely valuable. So I make room in my mind for Barton to have his own defects and slants without throwing out all the good stuff he does.

If reading Yarvin is something like this, that is, it allows for reframing popular core stories based on original documents in context, even if the author has noticeable flaws and biases, I am interested. Definitely.


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On 6/30/2020 at 7:10 PM, Dglgmut said:

You're too modest.

Who, her critics? I didn't see many quotes on her Wiki page either. I've had arguments with people who couldn't quote anything from her (on the Internet, of course). By that I mean, they couldn't find quotes of hers to support their characterization of her. Someone said she was all about "greed," I said show me where she uses the word greed... of course he didn't.

"The Utopia of Greed" is the second chapter of part three of Atlas Shrugged.


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Not exactly the Gordon Gekko speech people expect to find, though, the name of a chapter. Has she used the word "greed" as a quality of virtue? She has used it derogatorily.


In today's climate she could have called it The Utopia of Racists, where Dagny noticed there were actually people of all races in the Gulch.

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One of the many good points Yarvin makes:


The movement that ended the Soviet Union was not, as it still superficially appears, one of pure rejection and nihilism. It had a positive and constructive plan around which everyone who cared to be a dissident could agree. It had a red button, and under that red button was a little heat-printed plastic strip that said, in Cyrillic: SURRENDER TO AMERICA. Or more precisely, as it turned out, to George Soros.

Which turned out to have its disadvantages. (Frankly, I think the jury is still out on the transition from Brezhnev to Putin; a case can be made for either, but the nadir surely lies between.) But the Soviet Union could fall because this single clear option, quite unsusceptible to any decoration or amendment—surrender to the West—formed a Schelling point around which large numbers of its subjects could trivially coordinate. (Note also the original Bolshevik slogan.)

Since there is no credible alternative to USG, its opponents have no Schelling point. Moscow could surrender to Washington. Washington has no one to surrender to. The East had a West; the West has no West. Thus, its only option is to live forever. And thus, the Tianming strategy for bringing it down: create a credible alternative. Ergo: become worthy, glasshoppa.

The USSR, for pretty much its entire lifetime, had also been indoctrinating its subjects to hate the West like the Devil hates garlic. The Schelling point was extant; the target was well-adapted and resistant. Nonetheless, the Soviet youth, educated for three generations to resist Western bourgeois decadence, succumbed instantly and with hardly a whimper.

USG has no possible resistance to a new Schelling point. Therefore, according to some optimists, constructing one should make it at once turn black and drip into the bedsprings, like the corpse of M. Valdemar. Everyone will be amazed in retrospect that this 18th-century relic survived into the early 21st. Even if this rosy scenario does not occur, the device once assembled creates many practical options.

Here's a bit about the sort of philosophy behind his imagined process of reaction:


The spiritual core of the First Step is the famous and ancient Chinese principle of the Mandate of Heaven, or Tianming. This can be condensed as the principle that power flows toward the worthy. To attain power: become worthy to rule. Since becoming worthy is a worthy exercise by definition, it satisfies our need for quantum Buddha duality. It is simultaneously harmless and deadly—both, at once, completely. Moreover, no one can laugh at it, because I did not make it up myself. Tianming is quite literally ten times as old as American democracy, and far better proven by experience.

To defeat the Modern Structure, create a New Structure which is more worthy to rule. Much more worthy to rule. Once this (perfectly passive) task is complete, the New Structure has only to wait. The law of Tianming tells us that power will flow to it—as the rains return to the ocean.


I think that the problem of transitioning to a largely voluntarist society entails building structural elements of that future society within the confines of the current system. That means replacing the things people are most attached to within the current system before those parts are removed.


I agree with him that conservatism really makes no sense and is counter intuitive. It's an attempt to create order out of chaos... that's what the left does and we see how it works. I don't know about an oligarchy, even one extremely carefully designed. It seems like it could work, but is it necessary? If the goal is ultimately a free, capitalist society, without democracy, of course, the problem of engineering a rational political structure is similar to engineering a rational political system, no? If there are ways to ensure an oligarchy works for the people, shouldn't there be a way for the people to work for the people? The liability of the oligarchy is to become corrupt, while the liability of the people is to become manipulated. It seems to me possible to engineer a modified democratic system.


His idea for an "Antiversity" is good. He didn't really have any compelling explanation for how it would work, but the idea that something of the sort would be helpful, I agree with. His roadmap for the Reaction was entertaining, and I his willingness to look at the traditional villains of history objectively is valuable. Again, I don't think every part of his plan is actually necessary. I do appreciate the emphasis on capturing the minds of the capable and responsible as a priority over the minds of the many. Quality over quantity is a good start when you don't want something to degenerate and go off course.


I've only read the Gentle Introduction, so I can only comment on that, and I suspect it will be hit-and-miss from chapter to chapter for OL people.

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One more thing that relates to the quality over quantity initial stage: if you've noticed both sides of American politics are capable of making parodies of the other's lowest common denominator. Sacha Baron Cohen has done both, though obviously he focuses on the right. However, the right has successfully parodied the top echelon of leftist thought: Sokal Hoax. This has not been done in the inverse, as far as I know.


This simply implies to me that, that like with most groups of people, the differences are more noticeable at the extremes.

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16 hours ago, Brant Gaede said:

"The Utopia of Greed" is the second chapter of part three of Atlas Shrugged.


3 hours ago, Dglgmut said:

Not exactly the Gordon Gekko speech people expect to find, though, the name of a chapter.


I get tickled by this form of argument. It goes like this.

Person A: XXX doesn't exist and the idiots who claim it does are dopes.
Person B: Here is an example of XXX that has existed for a long time.
Person A: That one doesn't count.


btw - I own the Objectivism Research CD-ROM, so I looked up greed. There are way too many appearances of the word "greed" in Rand's published works to cite. Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, and We the Living are full of examples, as are her newspaper articles, essays, journal entries and letters. (Anthem didn't pop up, though. 🙂 )

Here is a typical example I picked at random. It's from The Ayn Rand Letter, Vol. III, No. 4,  November 19, 1973, "The Energy Crisis--Part II"


Those who observe it, will realize that the demagogues' spook of "financial greed as the root of all evil" is a cover to deflect attention from a real and deadly motive: power-lust.

The way anti-Randians, progressives, etc., would read a statement like this is to infer that, to Rand, greed is not "a real and deadly motive." That means (to them) that greed is OK (to her) as a motive.


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