Situation Report: Killing off the Libertarian Hellscape Timeline
Could reality be making a comeback?
We’ve got a very full update this week, so we’ll try to keep this as compact as possible. While world events are still incredibly troubling, there are some glimmering reasons for optimism. As Ian Dury might say, “Reasons to be Cheerful.” Let’s dive in!
What’s Happening Now
The situation in Ukraine remains tense. Several countries have been sending weaponry and supplies to Ukraine, including the US, UK and the Baltic states. Germany, notably, is playing games, saying their “anti-war” stance complicates their decision. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, a member of the Green Party, says, “Our restrictive position is well known and is rooted in history.” Okay, that’s very special. The reality is that if you want to avoid war, the right answer is to arm Ukraine to the gills and wait for Putin to go home, as Anne Applebaum pointed out this week. And it seems UK supply planes have been avoiding German airspace, also, giving rise to speculation that the German-Russian alliance represented in the Nordstream 2 pipeline may be cozier than previously realized—and echoing the historical shame of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between the Soviets and the Nazis.
The United States has begun evacuation of diplomatic families stationed in Kyiv, and analysts are starting to very seriously consider what invasion scenarios might look like. President Biden this week said that he thought it likely that “Putin would move in” but declined to speculate publicly about what that might mean for the United States.
Americans need to discard previous conceptions about what “wars” look like, for this engagement, if there is one, will be one where reality is assaulted in ways we may have a hard time imagining. This will be the first full-blown “hybrid war” that Americans have experienced, and we should not pretend to imagine its scope or scale. And we accordingly should seek to avoid it, through containment and deterrence, just as rigorously. This war is coming to every one of us; we won’t have to go to it.
If, by some miracle, we make it into March, when the ground will thaw and Putin goes home with his tail between his legs, former Estonian president and influential tweeter Toomas Hendrik Ilves points out that NATO will have to go do some homework, as we will have gone through a real-life war game simulation that shows where all of the organization’s alliances are strong and weak.
Crypto takes a dive… and you love to see it. Look, I take no pleasure when people lose money—I’m a WAGMI kind of guy. But seeing money redistributed from the likes of Michael Saylor and Mike Novogratz gives my sense of justice a lot of warm fuzzies. This week, Bitcoin, Ethereum, and related assets all took a major dive in tandem with many frothy tech stocks. Notably, gold (and gold-related assets) did not — they were stable or went up. I am by no means a gold bug, but it’s definitely worth pointing out that Bitcoin did not behave in this instance anything like gold did, but rather more like a speculative tech growth stock. Given that the crypto ecosystem is very much manipulated by assets like Tether, that should not be too surprising. Crypto is simply not connected to anything happening in the real world and anyone engaged in it should expect to lose everything. And Michael Saylor’s Microstrategy certainly got a taste of that, with an inquiry from the SEC around its bogus accounting around its Bitcoin holdings.
Crypto faced several other headwinds this week. As the Fed gently signals intent to gradually increase interest rates, the era of “easy money” is coming to an end. This hurt equities, too, but Russia’s announcement that its central bank would ban cryptocurrencies also seemed to put a damper on things. Overall, Bitcoin is now hovering around $35,000 and Ethereum is as low as around $2,300, representing lows not seen since last year. What happens next is anyone’s guess.
If you’re still finding yourself flummoxed by crypto (and in fairness, any normal person should be) this explainer video (above) features top notch writing, visuals, and production values. It’s a couple of hours, so give yourself time, and don’t worry if you don’t catch every detail… but let it soak in. It covers the fundamentals extremely well and can help you sort out the crazy talk you’re hearing from your cousin or nephew.
Libertarianism Seriously Needs to Go Away
I’ve said it many times here, but American libertarianism is a close cousin to Italian fascism, and rooted in the same kind of John Locke propertarian philosophy that anchored the slave trade in the United States and animated the Civil War. This is covered beautifully in Nancy MacLean’s excellent book, Democracy In Chains.
I’m going to insist that everyone reading this find an hour or so to read this piece by Mark Ames from 2013 which informed authors like MacLean and Jane Mayer (Dark Money) in their analysis of American libertarianism and its influence on the Koch brothers and their subsequent efforts to shape American culture. I’ve read it before, but on subsequent reading I realize just how important understanding Robert LeFevre is to grokking American libertarianism and our current moment in history.
Meet Charles Koch's Brain.pdf (PDFy mirror) : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet…
This public document was automatically mirrored from PDFy.Original filename: Meet Charles Koch's Brain.pdf URL…
Brexit, January 6th, Bannon, Putin, and Dugin are all facets of the same libertarian phenomenon contained in the “Sovereign Individual” agenda as formulated by William Rees-Mogg and James Dale Davidson in 1997. This is what has animated Thiel and Musk. And it underpins LeFevre, Kochs, and all of their network, from Cato to Alec, from Reason to Quillette.
Read the Ames piece and you’ll understand why. (And yes, Mark Ames has his own baffling history with Matt Taibbi and Russia—even as this story is backed up by multiple primary sources. Such is the hall of mirrors we inhabit.)
It’s hard to read about LeFevre’s scammy “Freedom School” and not compare it to the upstart University of Austin, born of the same tradition and from the same networks. While UoA may appear to have a classier set of founders, it’s hard not to see it as pursuing the same libertarian goals, refitted for the 21st century.
Anne Applebaum and Timothy Snyder Testify on Rise of Authoritarianism
Historians testified on the global rise of authoritarianism before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. They spoke…
This week, Anne Applebaum and Timothy Snyder testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committeee about the global rise of authoritarianism, which is really just an expression of this libertarian, individualist turn. It’s well worth your time.
Jane Mayer has an excellent new piece about January 6th shill Ginni Thomas and the risk she poses to the Supreme Court.
And as the Senate failed to pass voting rights legislation this week, it’s a good time to remember that Kyrsten Sinema is receiving money from the libertarian/crypto lobby, and Manchin is tight with Koch family interests. Democrats simply don’t have control of the Senate and need to start acting that way. Arizona Democrats today censured Sinema for her failure to vote in support of rule changes that would have allowed the passage of the voting rights package.
Joe Rogan's Friends Assemble in D.C. to Do Something They Say Isn't an Anti-Vax Rally
A disgraced progressive PR professional and a host of anti-vax celebrities: the disjointed coalition against vaccine…
The network of weirdo libertarian anti-vax lunatics that surrounds Joe Rogan and Peter Thiel are having an “anti-mandate” protest rally in DC tomorrow. Thiel’s network, which is increasingly advertising its merger with UFO cultists, recently hosted an event called Hereticon featuring such thought crimes as tattooing and piercing—but yeah, also eugenics, Mars settlement, and UFO summoning. Really, though, I have to give them credit… they are simply going back to the real roots of American Libertarianism and the nutty cult nonsense of William Dudley Pelley (Silver Shirts) and Guy Ballard (I AM) before them.
And yeah, have you read that Ames piece yet? Go ahead and do it. I’ll wait.
The Influence Continuum with Dr. Steven Hassan: How we got here; the history of right-wing…
Dave Troy is a disinformation researcher, tech-entrepreneur, TEDxMidAtlantic curator, and data visualization expert. In…
And lastly, some shout outs…
- Huge congratulations are in order for my friend Carole Cadwalladr in her so-far successful confrontation with Brexit “bad boy” Arron Banks. Carole and I have been in touch with each other for the last five years as she has tirelessly and courageously been fighting and reporting on the scourge of libertarian nonsense happening in the UK and globally. I have a huge amount of respect for her and her team, and was happy to get to meet up with her and some friends in Edinburgh in 2019. There may or may not have been karaoke involved (Don’t Stop Believin’), and I dedicate that song once again to Carole. Please support her campaign.
- We reported a few months ago here about Everett Stern and his allegations against Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn and his operatives Ivan Raiklin and Velma Anne Ruth. This week the Guardian covered Stern’s story, lending new credence to his claims, which have consistently checked out.
- My friend Steve Hassan has a new podcast called The Influence Continuum and I was honored to be a guest on his show this week. Please have a listen! We have had a lot of positive feedback on the episode.
- For good perspective on what’s going on in Russia, I recommend folks check out the English language newsletter from The Bell.
- And if you’re looking to learn even more about Robert LeFevre, check out this podcast episode!
At the risk of speaking prematurely, Omicron appears to have peaked in the US, but remains a huge concern for the unvaccinated. That said, projections generally suggest that hospitalizations will be down to very manageable levels by March, implying that if no new variant emerges and if Putin can be kept in check, we may experience a healthy recovery this Spring. The trifecta would be to keep crypto nonsense in check, and banish the libertarian hellscape fantasy timeline for good. We’ll see how successful we are.
And on that note… what if we’re learning to process trends (and information attacks) more quickly? Wouldn’t that be a good thing? See you next time!
We’re interested in the major historical trends that shape current events. Tips? Ideas? Drop us a line via email or Twitter DM. Please note: this analysis is historical and political in nature; it is not intended as financial advice and should not be taken as such. If you enjoy my work, please consider making a donation to World Central Kitchen, to support their work feeding people in times of need.
For an even deeper dive, check out my series, The Big History Behind January 6th and my audio series Oil, Gold, Crypto, and Fascism: How We Got Here and How to Fix It.