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Thursday, October 30, 2003
To those who've been complaining that my comments feature is broken, sorry about that. I think it's some screwup at enetstation, which I don't know how to fix. I'm going to be moving off blogspot to a site at University of North Carolina shortly, which should solve the problem.
posted by Eric at 2:23 PM
Great War II:
Donald, I buy your scenario in the West (Germans go home, keeping Alsace-Lorraine) but I think Steve is right that your take on German war aims in the East was too benign. What we'd have been looking at here is a continuation of the Age of Imperialism, which in our history was finished off by the exhaustion of the victors after WWI and WWII.Steve writes:
Right enough. Let's carry this forward. As Donald has pointed out, the drive on Paris revealed serious problems in Germany's C3 and infrastructure. There would have been a pause of, I think, about six to eight years while the Germans consolidated their gains and built up their road and rail net. Their most serious internal problem in the short term would have been sporadic anti-German revolts in the eastern client states.
Meanwhile, after the defeat of the Allies, isolationist sentiment in the U.S. would have become stronger in the U.S. than it was in our history. The Wilsonian "War Party" and anyone associated with them would be completely discredited. American ethnic Germans who in our history were finished off as a coherent political force by WWII, would have gained more clout. President Lindbergh, maybe?
With the U.S. neutralized, the big fault line in geopolitics would have been the British Empire versus the German Reich. One important thing that would probably *not* have changed would have been the development of Italian Fascism -- but it wouldn't have taken root in Germany without the post-Versailles disaster.
The Tsarist regime in Russia was on its last legs. But Germany, as victory, would have been in a position to turn on its agent Lenin and back the White Russians just enough to keep Kerensky's govenment in power (but not enough for them to actually end the simmering civil war).
About 1922 or so, the line-up might have looked like this: The British Empire and a weakened, fractious Russia against a more powerful Imperial Germany allied with Italy, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottomans. But there's something wrong with this picture; it ignores geopolitical rivalries within the Central Powers themselves. So, remembering the British grand strategy of sea control and alliances of convenience with land powers, I'm going to suggest that England's course would be to snuggle up to the Ottomans and pry them loose from the Axis. This would have made sense to the Ottomans, too; they would want to constrain the rising power of Germany and Austria, and I can imagine the British Foreign Office handing them back southern Persia as a sweetener.
So the next confrontation would open with an Anglo-Russian-Turkish alliance against a Germano-Austro-Italian one. France, even more seriously mired in defeatism than in our history, would hardly be a player. The U.S. would be neutral, possibly with a slight pro-German tilt.
Before general war broke out there would probably have been a pattern of escalating friction on the imperial margins. Germany would probably have flexed its muscles in Africa, first. Another leading indicator would be the size of the German fleet. With no Treaty of Washington in 1921, a serious naval arms race among Germany, England and Japan would have been pretty much inevitable.
Imperial Japan would have been in a much stronger position than historically, as well. With Russia weaker and the U.S. isolationist, her main rival for influence in the Pacific would be the British. So she would likely wind up on the Axis side, expanding onto the Asian mainland even more agressively than in our timeline.
So the eequivalent of World War Two would have have been a bigger and bloodier clash of empires.
UPDATE: Sombody commenting on VodkaPundit's blog said:
Take your scenario a little further. With France as the crippled defeated party, internal French politics mirror what historically happened in Germany. I think you get the rise of French fascists, who in turn blame French Jews for a "stab in the back" (Dreyfus redux). The Holocaust has a Gallic flavor. Instead of Teutonic efficiency, you get spontaneous mass killings by "citizen's commitees". Horrendous to ponder, but anti-semitism is not an exclusively German trait.
Very plausible. I can take this further: on their way to power the French Fascists have an ugly, low-level civil war with conservative royalists that resembles the Spanish Civil War in our timeline, except in this one Germany backs the royalists. The Spanish Civil War itself happens more or less on schedule, but plays out completely differently, too. Kerensky's Russians would have had neither the means nor the motivation to intervene that Stalin did, but the Germans might very well have still backed Franco in restoring the Spanish monarchy against the anarchists. So the likely outcome there was Franco taking power sooner, probably as a generalissimo under a weak Spanish king in Germany's orbit, glaring across the Pyrenees at France.
Where this is leading is that in Great War II, the France that joins the allies is Fascist...
FURTHER UPDATE: With Bolshevism dead in Russia, the beau ideal of the world's anti-monarchist left becomes not "scientific socialism" but anarcho-syndicalism on the Spanish model. At the extreme end this movement fuses with what's left of 19th-century romantic nihilism. As a result, terrorism becomes an important tool of the fringe left decades before the analogous development in our 1960s.
The British Labor Party turns increasingly syndicalist; in reaction, British Tories increasingly link arms with French and other fascist movements, which in this timeline are often genuinely reactionary rather than being Marxism with a nationalist/racialist paint job.
In the U.S., trade unions also increasingly turn syndicalist and anti-German. American conservatives tend to line up with the Bund and the Kaiser; when Great War II breaks out in 1923. American industrialists sell weapons to the German Empire. After a bitterly-fought election in 1924 U.S. policy begins to tilt pro-British, but the change is slow because many Americans are revolted by Fascist France.
posted by Eric at 11:06 AM
Wednesday, October 29, 2003
What Planet does Naomi Wolf Live On?
Naomi Wolf's essay The Porn Myth strongly suggests that she lives on some other planet. It has been pretty well fisked over at Haight Speech and elsewhere. But so far, all of the people I've seen shredding it are women.
Perhaps this is because it's politically incorrect for us panting, grunting persons-of-testicle to trash-talk a feminist icon like Ms. Wolf or say anything nice about porn. But here at Armed and Dangerous, we are fearless — and, more to the point, we have cleverly prepared our ground by having previously written an essay entitled Why does porn got to hurt so bad? in which we analyzed in detail why most porn is so intensely ugly.
So I'm going to say a few words about Ms. Wolf's viewing-with-alarm, speaking as a man. A man who is quite in touch with his own desires, thank you, and has studied (yes, I mean studied) the effects of porn on his libido with some care.
In brief, my response to Ms. Wolf is: Haw haw haw har har hee hee hyuck *snort* giggle. Ma'am, you clearly have no freaking idea what you are talking about.
You show a young woman who makes herself sexually available but has trouble attracting the interest of a young man away from porn, and I'll show you a young man who is either homosexual or stone dead.
Well, OK, I can imagine one exception. If the young woman in question is hideously deformed, the can't-compete-with-porn insecurity you describe might be justified. But in general, it's safe to predict that an offer of pussy from any woman who is not aggressively ugly will easily outbid the young man's hand for the attention of his penis.
This is so not because young men are in any way enlightened, but because they are fizzing with hormones and instincts that are designed for the express purpose of inducing them to fuck...you know...women. Lots of them. Young men are not noted for being excessively discriminating in this regard. A biologist would explain this as r-type strategy — since his energy investment in reproduction is low, promiscuity is optimal.
Show me a young woman who thinks she can't compete with porn for a man's attention and I'll show you one of two things. Either (a), she's having galloping insecurity for some other reason and doesn't notice that the man enjoys having sex with real women a hell of a lot more than he enjoys porn, or (b) she's not having sex with that man.
There is one truth buried, oblique and nearly invisible, in Ms. Wolf's informants' reports. Sex with a real woman trumps porn, but porn trumps women who dangle sex in front of men and don't deliver. Again, this has nothing to do with enlightenment, and whether the dangling is a deliberate tease, a product of inhibition, or simple ineptness at the courtship dance doesn't matter much either. The most relevant causal fact is that young men get erections a lot, and when they get erections, having an orgasm tends to move to the top of the to-do-list and stay there.
Ms. Wolf, here is some simple advice you can give any woman who thinks she can't compete with porn. First item on the checklist: is she fucking him? If the answer is "no", then I regret to inform you that her grounds for complaint against the fact that he likes to jack off while looking at or thinking about pictures of porn babes are nil. Zip. Zero. You might as well try resenting water for flowing downhill.
On the other hand, if she is fucking him, he is not going to swap that for feelthy pixels. Trust me on this. I have a penis. I've been fucking women for nearly thirty years, and not once was I even remotely tempted to trade an actual roll in the hay for a fantasy image and my hand. Not even as a confused adolescent, and not even with the ones who were, relatively speaking, lousy in bed.
Any woman who thinks this is happening is evading a problem with the relationship, not with his sexual response. By pointing at porn, she is giving herself leave to ignore real issues. Like: am I joyful in bed? This has nothing to do with facials or Brazilian wax jobs — and, actually, as much to do with the capacity to receive pleasure from that man's touch as the capacity to give him pleasure.
Here's another secret about most men, most of the time: given a choice between a buff "porn-worthy" chick with a drawerful of sex toys who's grudging or unresponsive in bed, or a plain jane with rudimentary technique who orgasms easily and generously, plain jane is the one we're going to go back to. Again, this has a sound basis in evolutionary bio; orgasm is a sperm-retention behavior that increases the probability of conception, so an orgasming woman is saying pre-verbally "I want your child!".
Having delivered a smackdown on Ms. Wolf's silly thesis, I will now thump a number of her critics. Pretty much all of them report this exchange:
Several of the fiskings I've read avoid Ms. Wolf's dim-bulbed ascription of that response to the insidious effects of porn only by writing off the kid as a callow, ignorant doofus. By doing so, they miss his point as completely as she did.
In fact, the kid is right. There is no mystery to sex. The mystery is in the stuff that is modulated onto sex like a signal onto a carrier wave, Relationships. Love. Intimacy. Mysticism. What this wise child is saying is that he wants to get the purely sexual tension out of the way so that he can get to the mystery.
Shame on Ms. Wolf for being in such a swivet about porn that she failed to notice this. But a greater shame on her fiskers, who had no single axe to grind and time for reflection — and thus, not even a bad excuse for their lack of perception.
posted by Eric at 2:24 AM
Monday, October 27, 2003
Stupid Like A Fox:
For the kind of articulate extrovert who tends to go into politics or the media, it can be very difficult to believe that a stumble-tongued, inarticulate man can be other than an idiot. As an articulate extrovert myself, I've had to struggle with this. Like most of our media and chattering classes, my instinct too was to write George W. Bush as an idiot who had stumbled into the Presidency through no merit of his own.
Events have forced me to nearly the opposite conclusion. George W. Bush is no idiot. In fact, he now appears to me to be an extremely cunning man who makes repeated and effective use of his opponents' inability to take him seriously.
Over and over again we've seen the pattern. Bush says he's gaing to do something. Opponents rant and rave and scream about what an idiot he is. Amidst all the name-calling, an effective opposition fails to materialize. When the smoke clears, events unfold pretty much according to the Bush script.
It's pretty much been that way on every issue bigger than judicial nominations. Now, mind you, in this essay I'm not going to express or even imply a judgment about whether or should be that way. What I'm trying to point out is that even the U.N. has pretty much ended up dancing Bush's tune. All of the Franco/German/Russian talk of thwarting that mad cowboy has come to this in the end: U.S, troops in control of Iraq, Saddam gone, and the U.N. formally committed by resolution to support the U.S. reconstruction without either a timeline or any U.N. authority over Iraq.
Once or twice could be luck. But Bush keeps doing this. He is such an effective political operator that his opponents find that their ability to block him has quietly vanished while they weren't looking. The pathological rage now endemic in Democratic circles is fueled by impotence. They know they were suckered, swindled, had somehow, but they can't pin down why or how the majority voters stopped listening. Bad enough to have Reagan pound the crap out of them — they thought he was an idiot too, but at least they could console themselves that he was a glib idiot. Being shellacked by a Republican who sounds like a moron behind a microphone is more than their blood pressure can take.
Well, Democrats, I've got news for you. Bush is using your rage to make you into idiots. I think, early in his political career, he somehow learned how to push this button reliably, and has been sucker-punching his opponents ever since. Clever of him — but then, as I belatedly realized when I was thinking this through. he has to be brighter than he looks. The dude flew fighter planes! Simpletons can't do that; the Air Force screens pilots for intelligence because it has to.
Want to stop Bush? Then, Mr. J. Random Democrat, call Dubya evil if you want — but accept that, on his record, he is pretty damn bright. Stop screaming, take his brains seriously, and outsmart him. That is, if you can.
posted by Eric at 7:14 PM