As America reflects upon a decade of error — BLM, “Russian collusion,” ungraceful military retreats, pandemic response failures, government debt, inflation, and social retrogression — I remembered my conversation with a French foreign exchange student. It reminded me of how to confront the naysayers and manic cheerleaders of America with logic and historical fact, since our decade of error is driven by disinformation, manic cheerleaders, naysayers, and exploitative special interests. The world’s answer to systematic national failure has usually been oligarchy, tyranny, and increased centralization of power and wealth. America has been dangerously following that formula, and we need to deactivate that temptation. We’ll start by paraphrasing my conversation with Damond:
Les Années Folles en France
I met a French foreign exchange student named Damond in my first inorganic chemistry course at Virginia Tech. He annoyed me rapidly during our first lunch together. He ridiculed Americans as fat, lazy, stupid, gullible, slow-witted, last-to-know, snakeoil-seeking, superstitious fools. He said that we are the only ones in the world who would invent artificial food that slowly poisons us, then mass produce it and make it the standard American diet. He said we’re the only ones who would turn a perverted drug-brained gangster into a music icon while allowing violinists and pianists to wither on the vine.
And he concluded, “With all of your wealth, you still have the worst educated population in developed nations.”
I replied, “Then what are you doing here, Damond? Surely you wouldn’t lay your future career at the feet of a nation that fails to educate?”
”See, this is what I’m talking about. You think that because overall Americans perform so poorly in education it means that great colleges like this can’t exist. Yes, America has incredible colleges. No, most Americans are not even qualified to utilize them.”
I smirked and replied, ”Now you’re starting to see my point. It seems as though you have a problem discerning hierarchies, scope, and continuums.”
”What do you mean?”
”As a European, particularly, a privileged Frenchman whose parents had the cash to send him abroad, you’ve been indoctrinated with arrogant, oligarchical collectivism. That’s one click below the evil of totalitarian socialists such as communists and fascists. You think that democratic socialists are so much better than those monsters? Your French dirigisme is the reason I stopped studying your language in my second year, despite straight A’s for two years. When we did a month-long module on French culture and modern history, it disgusted me so deeply that I had no interest whatsoever in wasting my time on French society and language. Your democratic socialists brought the immorality and ignorance of disarmament and pacifism, which was the castrated anvil that Hitler needed to forge his invasions. Your parasitic welfare state and dirigisme has plagued the French economy and currency throughout the twentieth century, laying waste to the unique capability of your citizens to do something that matters.
And your nation kicked off this century of moral, spiritual, and materialistic squalor with les années folles en France. Preceding Germany’s Weimar depravity, your nation emulated concubines and sultans, while other nations prepared for war. With democratic socialist pacifism infesting your nation like a disease, your educators instructed their children to rip out pages of war history from their textbooks — erasing anything that could glorify the honor of military sacrifice and heroism.
Or should we go back even further, to your sickening Jacobin revolution that defines the beginning of modern France? You had a problematic monarchy and Catholic social order, which was redeemable, yet your peasants became intoxicated with regressive materialism, anti-religion, mob-rule, kangaroo courts, ideological fanaticism, and pre-socialist Jacobin social and economic imperatives. So you traded a corrupt monarchy and Catholic social order for a murderous, deranged Napoleonic empire, massacres of thousands of innocent citizens, and anti-Christian cults like The Cult of Reason and The Cult of the Supreme being. And then you let Napoleon use the French faith that remained just like Hitler used “Positive Christianity” to co-opt, corrupt, and turn Christian faith towards the interests of the godless tyrants.
All of this, and you think that France is such a proud nation?
So congratulations on having a generally superior education within the average French citizen. But average people can’t improve society alone. That includes the average Frenchman’s modest advantage against the average American. While a nation does not need everyone to be Mozart or Oppenheimer, those geniuses make the breakthroughs with the support of the average citizens. These hierarchies are crucial. Are you starting to understand why France is infinitely inferior to America in innovation and prosperity? I would bet that’s why you chose to come here for your education. We have the best in the world. We also have an average that is slightly lower than the average of other nations. We also have the prosperity to provide a better living for the fat, lazy Homer Simpson that you just described.”
”Thanks for the history lesson, professor. And I’m glad that you admit that America is the Homer Simpson nation. I must say that I have never encountered another student who knows as much about French politics and history. You know there are a lot of my fellow citizens who are trying to change these problems. We do suffer from remnants of our past, just like America has its own shameful legacies.”
”The difference is, I don’t greet foreign citizens with the instigating insults that you so joyfully dole out to Americans. And so now, can we admit that perhaps part of your European disdain for America is a neurotic reflexive defense mechanism to your shame that you had to come to America in order to get a better education than you could get in France? Hurts your French national ego? That the Homer Simpson nation has better education for you than France does?“
”I don’t think we can admit that, a**hole.”
”Ok. Well, think about it later. You might discover that no civilization has attained perfection, but some are better than others. I don’t easily relate to the Homer Simpson in America. And he doesn’t relate to me. But we need each other as fellow countrymen, and we share some superficial or even deep religious things in common. He can’t understand my math and science. I don’t have the time or interest to learn his skills at fixing my car.
But I also don’t like the American traitors who have borrowed the worst from French dirigisme, German democratic socialism, British Labour and Fabian Society, and Weimar libertine culture. So can we now stop pretending that Europe is such an enlightened panacea of human civilization? Your experiments with socialism and libertine culture brought the world to its knees in the twentieth century and yielded some of the most evil things humanity has seen since pagan barabarism, Chinese dynasties, Latin American tribes, and Islamic theocracies. And I don’t think that your socialist, anti-Christian, and economic plague is done raping the world yet, by the way.”
“Well I guess you can be the big bad American Arnold Schwarzenegger, and save the planet from the bad guys.”
”Ooooh, my Austrian blood just tingled through my veins at the idea. Go Arnold. Thanks for that.”
We laughed, made light of the tense argument, and became amenable classmates for the rest of the semester, albeit we did not become friends. He was more comfortable with the wide-eyed, “globally-minded,” urban liberals who were enchanted irrationally by all things foreign. My accelerated post-graduate level of humanities education made me a poor substrate for Damond’s French pride.
What if Damond was right?
After a decade of closely observing modern American civics and activism, I am reminded of Damond’s keen observations. Alvarism subscribers are not average Americans. They are exceptional Americans. But no honest person could disagree that the average American is fat, lazy, stupid, and gullible. Our obesity is a thing of empirical fact, and it costs us $173 billion per year. Depending on how fat a person is, they are spending $1,900 to $3,100 per year to cope with their obesity-related health issues.
Our laziness is not exemplified only by fast-food preferences, instant-gratification impatience, and our world ranking as the 12th in leisure. We are desperate for immigrant blue collar labor, because for some reason modern generations stopped making their kids get jobs at age 15. They prefer that young adults should spend the first third of their lives producing nothing of value for anyone, as they accrue debt, waste taxpayer serf money, and sometimes learn things, much of which can be considered miseducation or irrelevant. Apprenticeship and the studious self-education of men like Abraham Lincoln with classical methods? How antiquated! That sounds like hard work!
America’s manufacturing revenues are also made by a low volume of expensive high tech products and virtually no consumer products. Making aircraft? Ok. Making shoes, clothes, and electronics? Not so much. America is also the global leader in administrative, financial, and chit-chat jobs such as the one-million-worker-strong “Caring Industry” of psychologists, social workers, counselors, and lifestyle coaches. Because sedentary people who have a lot of time on their hands tend to get trapped in boredom, depression, and other dysfunctional states. Studious people with zeal for life lack the omphaloskepsis required for such self-indulgence.
And what about ignorance and stupidity? Even worse than America’s low international educational performance against other countries, are the qualitative features of the leisure Americans choose. We buy books like “Fifty Shades” of dumbed-down reading (if we read at all). Then we tune in nightly to dumbed-down news reporting, dumbed-down music, dumbed-down movies, and smash-button mindless console video games that replaced the puzzle and strategy games of the 90s PC niche gaming market.
I’ve been saying this since my 2012 modules on the education market: if you want to judge the quality of a nation’s education, don’t look at the test scores and graduation rates alone — self-serving educators are lowering the standards year by year. Look at the intellectual characteristics of what people choose to do with their free time and money. If the most popular book is A Tale of Two Cities? The population has high standards. If Snoop Doggy Drug Brain is the most popular artist? The population has low standards. Snoop Doggy Drug Brain has very little appeal to most well-educated people. Perhaps he might entice a few spiritually or psychologically challenged ones.
And finally, what of Damond’s accusation that Americans are gullible, slow-witted, last-to-know, snakeoil-seeking, and superstitious?
While some people are genuinely skilled at sales and marketing, succeeding brilliantly in MLM business, twenty million Americans have served an MLM organization, even though half ended up losing money while almost a third didn’t make any money at all. Meanwhile, psychic entertainers have grown to a $2 billion industry in 2018, and 41% percent of Americans actually believe in psychics. Snakeoil-seeking and superstitious?
Despite black Americans enjoying their status as billionaires, the most cherished actors, athletes, authors, and politicians, and despite the fact that statistics prove police brutality and discrimination to be less prevalent than lightning strikes, Americans bought into the conspiracy theory of Black Lives Matter, and ruined their law enforcement and criminal justice systems in the process. So they pretend to care about black communities, while their rogue District Attorneys (DAs) and defund-the-police policies have actually harmed normal black Americans while aiding and abetting criminals of all races. Gullible?
Russia feared nothing from Democrat presidents Obama and Biden, as Putin invaded Ukraine during both democratic presidencies. Yet Americans fed a 3.5 year “Russia collusion” conspiracy theory against Trump — the Republican president whose appointees terrified Russia into abstaining from more wars of aggression. Gullible? Just like BLM — we should remember that the Trump-Russia collusion conspiracy theory was not just an obscure fixation of alternative media. It was actually mainstreamed by the most powerful corporations, politicians, and/or news venues of the nation.
Let’s not forget America’s history of Christian “awakenings,” whereby the best parts of mature and transcendent religion give way to magic thinking, neurotic defense mechanisms, escapism, flamboyant convulsions, lifestyle “church community“ domination, and cult-like isolation from the mainstream of society. It’s kind of hard to evangelize to functional, cogent, and emotionally stable people when you’re driven by cognitive and psychological defects. And to be sure, the religious “awakening” dissociation from mainstream society is driven by fear, disappointments, and neurotic ideation. Oneida Community is just one of many in our history. Superstitious and gullible?
And what better to measure the character of modern America than a pandemic? On one side, we had COVID fanaticism. Despite medical bureaucrats failing to confront the problems intelligently, COVID fanatics (Branch Covidians) gobbled up their nonsense like little serfs abiding the king. They advocated economic destruction, inflationary robbery with trillions in government spending, and totalitarian social controls that have harmed millions of people as patients were dissuaded from medical services for things like cancer. Just check the excess death statistics to understand this concept. Throngs of Americans cowered in their homes, or else were denied adequate access to healthcare services for time-sensitive services like cancer screenings.
They supported Big Tech censorship that would have made Hitler and Stalin proud, which eliminated intelligent public opinion about COVID, and inadvertently made a self-fulfilling prophecy for COVID denialism, feeding the extremists on the other side. What better to lend credence to the paranoid delusions of conspiracy theorists than to flaunt your power to control people, their speech, their thoughts, and even their bodies?
Despite the likely Chinese lab origins of the virus, its six-million death count, and ten percent of victims suffering Long-COVID chronic illness, the other extremists (COVID denialists) preferred to fixate upon “globalist oligarchs” (Fauci, Bill Gates, Bagman Peter Daszak, CDC, WHO) rather than the Chinese socialist government and scientists who actually made the virus. They preferred to fixate upon masks and low numbers of adverse vaccine reactions, rather than the millions of people crippled or killed by the virus. The histrionics of the COVID denialists and fanatics alike buried intelligent and nuanced opinions of social, economic, and medical pandemic response.
Alvarism’s position on COVID from the start:
Yes, it’s a serious pandemic
No, it’s not an apocalyptic pandemic
Mitigating programs, debt, and expenditures (vaccines, therapeutics, social and market controls) must consider unintended economic, health, security, labor, and economic consequences that can be worse than the virus itself, and citizens must retain the right to accept and pursue the options they feel are best for themselves
This accurate and mature mentality about COVID was demonstrably overshadowed by special interests in the American medical bureaucracy, powerful transnational corporations, unscrupulous sensationalizing journalists, and animated activists.
Finally, let’s not forget the Occupy Wall Street conspiracy theory, whereby mainstream reporters, expensive propaganda movies with A-list actors, and nearly all of the democratic party duped more than half of the nation. Their fictitious narrative? That Wall Street profits were responsible for the financial and real estate problems, rather than the “affordable housing” programs imposed upon markets, such as the Community Reinvestment Act, HUD, FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. They blamed those who optimized their activities according to the rules (Wall Street, and your retirement portfolios), rather than those who created the financial crisis with government policies and voter conformity. Scholars like Thomas Sowell articulately demonstrated the origin of the financial collapse. But it takes time to read post-graduate books. It’s much easier to tune in to a comedy clown like Jon Stewart or John Oliver for twenty minutes who deliver the false narratives in entertaining ways.
And what about all of those billionaires that they stigmatize? Nine of the ten wealthiest Americans are Democrat sponsors. Even when they try to associate billionaire fortune with Republicans, they use a sleight of hand. They presume that the audience doesn’t understand the difference between the Freedom Caucus and the likes of Mitt Romney. Show us any of the supposed “Republican” billionaires who have donated to organizations like Alvarism, Hoover, Hillsdale, AEI, and Heritage and have also advocated shrinking government and protecting liberty. They are overshadowed by the “Republican” donors who support the enlargement of American dirigisme. So here we are years later, watching the democrats and half of the Republican party spend trillions of dollars, begging for trillions more, which will continue to feed the “inequality“ that they pretend to care about.
Gullible, slow-witted, last-to-know, snakeoil-seeking, superstitious? The fact that shows like Firing Line and Uncommon Knowledge from Stanford’s Peter Robinson are not the most popular news shows, tells us all we need to know about the average American who instead tunes into the ignorance-propagating mainstream news talkers.
What if Damond was wrong?
The doom-and-gloom assessments of American society can feed dirigisme and erode liberty. When enough people believe that the majority of their neighbors are stupid, corrupt, and dysfunctional, they’ll naturally cede their own liberty and wealth in order to control their fear of a “Homer Simpson” society run amuck. On the other hand, “positivity” attitudes can effectively deny, whitewash, and apologize for the truth of America’s social deficiencies. The “positivity” acolytes thus enable and impel the intransigence and enlargement of American dysfunction.
As realists, Alvarism prefers to simply be honest about the overall situation. Comparing our history to that of foreign nations? We come out on top, and should be proud. Only ignorance of World History enables visions of America as a shameful pariah. Does America have serious problems with its culture and economy? Absolutely. And we need accurate problem definitions, and the willpower to confront them. Can each American improve themselves for the betterment of their own lives and the vibrancy of our nation? Absolutely. We have myriad opportunities for joyful remediation — for our health, spirit, mind, intellect, knowledge, security, and prosperity.
Do we need to fret about the fact that America’s average citizen lags behind foreign average citizens? Not much. In the real world, when the average is “good enough,” the exceptional have everything they need to do incredible things. And if we can remember to honor, reward, respect, and admire the average American, we will enjoy a happy synergy.
Fame, fortune, knowledge, and intellect come and go, but our character and legacy remain for all to witness for better or worse. That should humble us away from elitism even as we acknowledge the occurrence of distinction and hierarchy. So I can proudly say that I’m glad America taught me to favor my average neighbor over “superheroes,” celebrity, and oligarchs. E Pluribus Unum. I hope Damond learned the meaning of this essay and brought it back to Europe.