The Long View 2005-12-29: Generations, Thermodynamics, Defeatism
I took a long break from the blog for Thanksgiving, but I'm back refreshed. Here we are at the end of another calendar year of John's blog. John's book reviews tend to be the most popular, but sometimes a blog post or two will sneak into the top ten.
Items about Tradition are perennial favorites. Evola and Guénon represent something genuinely different than anything mainstream Western politics have to offer. I don't think we really want to find out what will happen if Tradition gets its day in the [black] sun.
Generations, Thermodynamics, Defeatism
My regard for Strauss & Howe's model of American history remains undiminished. This is one of the class of models that view history as a recurring sequence of generational types. I still get mail asking whether the Crisis has begun yet. Be that as it may, even back in the tranquility of the late 20th century, it was clear the model would be capable of generating a kind of millenarianism among its adherents. Consider, for instance, The Fourteenth Generation, an essay by recent college graduate Hans Zeiger, which seems to be a realization of this possibility. There are some novel elements, however:
If, as President Bush said last year, it is to be “liberty’s century,” the members of the Fourteenth Generation are the appointed guardians...The first chapter of Matthew’s Gospel opens the New Testament with a genealogy...Matthew 1:17 summarizes the genealogy. “So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.” Fourteen is a Providential number....Fourteen generations ago was the age of the men and women who first called themselves Americans. It was the elder generation of the Founding Fathers, the contemporaries of the Great Awakening: Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams. About fourteen generations before them lived Christopher Columbus...The vanguard of the Fourteenth Generation is now graduating from high school, in college, entering the work world, and defending America in the Middle East. ...We are not protesters or slobs like the Baby Boomers. We are not slackers or radical individualists like the Xers.
For comparison, you might want to look at the model of Joachim de Fiore, the 12th century abbot who created the prototype for the three-stage outline of history (and who is usually remembered, quite unfairly, for predicting that the world would end in AD 1260):
For Joachim, the basic unit of history is the Status (Status=age or stage). History is divided into three ages, each with seven steps. The first status is the age of the Father, captured in the Old Testament, with seven steps represented by the seven seals mentioned in the book of Revelation. This first age had a germination period of 3x7 = 21 generations from Adam to Jacob and a fruition period of 3x7 = 21 generations from Jacob to Ozias. The second status is the age of the Son, with seven step represented by the opening of the seven seals in the book of Revelation. This second age had a Germination period of 3x7 = 21 generations from Ozias to Jesus and a fruition period of 3x7 = 21 generations from Jesus to St. Benedict.
As for the 14ers themselves, their defining characteristic so far is that they have haircuts like new chia pets.
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Here is an embarrassment for you, from Granville Sewell, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Texas El Paso and visiting professor at Texas A&M University, who defends the proposition that Darwinian evolution is incompatible with the Second Law of Thermodynamics:
Anyone who has made such an argument is familiar with the standard reply: the Earth is an open system, it receives energy from the sun, and order can increase in an open system, as long as it is "compensated" somehow by a comparable or greater decrease outside the system...In these simple examples, I assumed nothing but heat conduction or diffusion was going on, but for more general situations, I offered the tautology that "if an increase in order is extremely improbable when a system is closed, it is still extremely improbable when the system is open, unless something is entering which makes it not extremely improbable." The fact that order is disappearing in the next room does not make it any easier for computers to appear in our room -- unless this order is disappearing into our room, and then only if it is a type of order that makes the appearance of computers not extremely improbable, for example, computers. Importing thermal order will make the temperature distribution less random, and importing carbon order will make the carbon distribution less random, but neither makes the formation of computers more probable.
This is, of course, a good argument for why hurricanes could not occur. Hurricanes are quite complicated structures that are possible because Earth is an open system. Under the influence of Coriolis Force, they form spontaneously in the atmosphere over the oceans. Complicated things routinely form out of simpler things. No one, as far as I know, has ever argued that the fact a system is open is an explanation for why that happens, just that openness is a prerequisite
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So you want a lost war, do you? Here some oddly familiar spin from Francis Parker Yockey, the American Nazi spy and later Soviet agent. The excerpt is from Imperium, the magnum opus that he wrote in the late 1940, which is now, perhaps not altogether fortunately, available online here:
Not only Europe, but also the American People, lost the War. Since the Revolution of 1933, this People has been working, producing, and exporting. It has given its treasures and the lives of hundreds of thousands of its sons; it has blindly obeyed Culturally alien leaders not of its choosing, and in obedience to them it has curtailed its standard of life and parted with its soul — and in return it has received nothing of any kind, spiritual or material. Nor is its time of sacrifices over. It will continue to pay for the Second World War, which it lost, for many a year. In America's cup of "victory," there was poison for the soul of America.
This is exactly what the extreme Right and the extreme Left say about the Iraq War. I, for one, find this coincidence disturbing.
Copyright © 2005 by John J. Reilly