EDITOR’S NOTE (Nick Stamatakis): This is an exceptional speech by an exceptional mind, James George Jatras. Jatras, a fellow Greek-American and practicing Orthodox, has a vast experience as a former U.S. diplomat and adviser to House Republicans on foreign policy issues. Last year Jim was very pessimistic about his outlook on America’s future, and I clearly remembered how depressed I felt after hearing his candid, factual analysis of our post-2020 election prospects. What changed? You can read his whole speech at the Young Scholars program of the Ron Paul Insitute (delivered on September 8).
One snippet to whet your appetite: “We are not going to vote our way out of this mess!!”
I personally prefer the video – please link here: ‘It’s Even Later than You Thought’ – Jim Jatras at RPI Scholars Seminar (rumble.com)
Delivered to the 2022 Ron Paul Scholars Seminar, Sept. 2nd 2022, Washington, DC.
Allow me to say at the outset how pleased and not a little surprised I was to be invited to address this seminar for the second year in a row. Pleased, because I can’t think of a better place than the Ron Paul Scholars Seminar to encounter bright young people who can afford even the most cranky old Boomer like myself grounds for hope. Surprised, because as I recall following last year’s presentation the organizers were constrained to confiscate your predecessors’ belts and shoelaces and place them under 24-hour protective watch. As I asked them last year: “How do I tell you that, in the layman’s terms, your lives will probably suck? At least in the near future. But there is hope. I will return to that.”
My talk last year was called “It’s Later than you Think,” and of course now it’s even later still. On the off-chance that none of you has memorized that text, I will give a brief summary of what I said then – which as I noted even then ended with a dim glimmer of sunlight – and then review how the past year has, I believe, confirmed my assessment then and, somewhat paradoxically, made that glimmer shine just a bit brighter. All in all, I think we have grounds to be cautiously pessimistic.
In brief, my thesis last year was that the gathering clouds were not just those of a political crisis (presumably one that would be amenable to change through political means – “Vote harder next time! Vote harder, boy!”) or just an economic and financial crisis (is two quarters of negative GDP growth by definition really a recession, or not – ah, the rollercoaster of the business cycle!). No, it was something more fundamental. Rather, the America we oldsters had grown up with, and which had been declining for decades, had fundamentally ceased to exist.
Indeed, what we’re seeing here is something of world historic proportions that in some essential way breaks with anything seen in the lifetime of anyone now living. Sure, back in my day –
– there was corruption, yes there was influence-peddling, yes there was contempt for truth and common decency. But these were debasements within what could still be argued was a structure built on a Constitution and the rule of law. That is, something existed, though as with all human affairs, it was only as good as the people operating within that something. One could still, with a straight face, contend that if the good guys win, if wise policies prevail – audit the Fed, cut taxes, stop our interventionist foreign policy, ban abortion, legalize dope, whatever you want – there was enough integrity to the something to allow for such improvements. We were still living in a normal moral universe, where virtue and vice contended for dominance. We were still living in America.
‘We really can’t say that anymore. It’s not just that laws and the Constitution are violated – when were they not? – but that they now have almost no relevance to the nation, or perhaps former nation, we have become. When I say nation, I mean the core, founding [state-building] American ethnos characterized by European ancestry, by the English language, and by the Christian religion, mostly Protestant. The constitutional order established by the Founding Fathers – you know, those racist, gun-toting transphobes in knee britches and powdered wigs – for themselves and their posterity is a secondary epiphenomenon, the ethos of the founding ethnos, their folkways and values. You know, all that quaint Anglo-Saxon due process, habeas corpus, presumption of innocence, limited powers stuff. The primary phenomenon, without which the erstwhile constitutional order would not have existed in the first place, from which it derived its values, principles, and structure, is the ethnos. That is what is under attack, even more than the order itself, which in my opinion is effectively gone.’
‘It is difficult to look back on the events of the annus horribilis of 2020—and to anticipate worse to come—without a foreboding that the world is nearing some sort of crescendo. The Gnostic tendency described by Eric Voegelin, in his landmark 1952 book The New Science of Politics – “Hey, don’t immanentize the eschaton, bro’!” — and fitfully growing year by year, decade by decade, century by century, seems to have achieved an unprecedented and decisive degree of domination in a few short months, and not just in America. It is increasingly difficult to see any signpost of restraint, much less of restoration. [A year later, there’s no looking back.]
‘Perhaps this crescendo will be similar to earlier ones: collapse of the Western Roman Empire, the Islamic conquest of the Eastern Empire, the East-West Great Schism and the Crusades, the neopagan humanism of the Renaissance, the religious strife of the Reformation, the misnamed Enlightenment with its malign offspring Revolution and “Progress,” the world wars and [socialist] totalitarianisms of the modern era. Yet with each seeming turn of the wheel, with each ebb and flow between disorder and partial re-stabilization, the net linear advance of Gnosticism is undeniable.’
A watershed was passed with Covid and the measures – the lockdowns, the masks, social distancing and monitoring, the clot shot, censorship of dissent – supposedly intended to deal with a virus, accomplishing within a few short months what decades of climate hysteria could not, summed up under the moniker “the Great Reset” and its ubiquitous slogan “Build Back Better.”’
‘Taken together [what we have been seeing has] all the appearance of a controlled demolition of all established human interactions in anticipation of their replacement by something we are assured by our betters will be an improvement. The contours of the “new normal” in the post-American America hurtling in our direction have already become so familiar as to need little elaboration: infringement on traditional liberties based on “keeping us safe”; “cancel culture”; blurring of the lines between Big Government, Big Finance, Big Pharma, Big Data, etc., amounting to corporate state capture; and, not directly based on supposed anti-virus measures but closely tracking with them, joint government and corporate promulgation of socially destructive, historically counterfeit ideologies (“intersectionality,” LGBTQI+, feminism, multiculturalism, “critical race theory,”) … with principal targeting of children subject to sexualization and predation by those expressing what were once quaintly known as abnormal appetites and identities.
‘… ‘these [so-called] “values” in turn accelerate longstanding trends towards infertility and demographic collapse (decline in marriage, family formation, and childbearing) pointing to population reduction and replacement via post-human society, transhumanism, and bio-engineering.
‘This brave new world, my young friends, is your world. This is not something that is going to get fixed by the next election, or any election, by a new political party or movement.
‘In the end, … the impact any one of us can expect to have in the face of world-historic trends before which the fates of nations and empires fly like leaves in the autumn winds is vanishingly small. Already baked into the cake will be, I believe, hardships for you that we’ve become accustomed to think only happen to “other people” in “other countries” far away, not seen here since the Revolution and the Civil War, or maybe in isolated instances during the Great Depression: financial and economic disruption and, in some places, especially in urban areas, collapse; supply chains, utilities, and other aspects of basic infrastructure ceasing to function (what happens in major cities when food deliveries stop for a week?), even widespread hunger; rising levels of violence, both criminality and civil strife. These will be combined, paradoxically, with the remaining organs of authority, however discredited, desperately cracking down on the enemy within – no, not on murderers, robbers, and rapists, but on “science deniers,” “religious fanatics,” “haters,” “conspiracy theorists,” “insurrectionists,” “gun nuts,” purveyors of “medical misinformation,” and, of course, “racists,” “sexists,” “homophobes,” [“Christian nationalists,” “semi-fascist MAGA Republicans”], and so forth. [To paraphrase Barry Goldwater, extremism in defense of “democracy” and Joe Biden’s “soul of the nation” is no vice. Moderation in pursuit of “social justice” and “equity” is no virtue.] It’s the late Samuel Francis’ “anarcho-tyranny” nightmare come to life with a vengeance.’
Now. there’s where I would have left it last year. We are a year further into a very dark tunnel, and there’s nothing (in my very fallible opinion) anyone can do to stop an accelerating rush into the abyss.
But we can talk about probabilities. A year ago, if I had to guess, I’d have said chances of any kind of happy ending for this country or the world would be very slim indeed. Limitless tyranny at home, endless war abroad. George Orwell’s boot stomping on a human face forever, but dragged out in rainbow glitter and a feather boa while carving up your kids’ sexual parts. America: sliding quietly under the Woke waves never to be seen again while imposing the same poison on the rest of the world. There is no Transatlanticism without transgenderism! As Craig Murray memorably observed regarding the United Kingdom and the collapse of Boris “BoJo the Clown” Johnson’s Prime Ministership, we could anticipate that America would draw to a close not with a bang … but with a fart (albeit one generating hurricane force winds).
My assessment radically changed on February 24, 2022, when Russia began what it called its Special Military Operation in Ukraine. Without going into all the details of the war itself and the reasons for it, I believe that the reverberations of that war are having and will continue to have serious consequences for the smooth fade into oblivion that had been our most likely doom. In a nutshell, the entire globalist program – Build Back Better, plans for Biden’s renewable Gangrene New Deal energy economy, “you vill eat ze bugz,” more “genders” than Heinz varieties – may come crashing down along with its premier instrumentalities, the evil twins NATO and the European Union. Can it be that there’s a “soft landing” to this second cold war, that the US-led so-called “rules-based international order” might dissolve as (relatively) peacefully as did the Warsaw Pact and the USSR? Do miracles on that scale happen twice in one lifetime?
Put another way: what we’re seeing now is in fact World War III between the Global American Empire (the G.A.E., or “the GAE”) and a loose set of countries led by Russia and China: Eurasia. Only a small portion of that war is military, confined for the moment to Ukraine but with the danger of spread. There is also the potential for an outbreak in the western Pacific over Taiwan., not to mention other flashpoints like Iran and North Korea. Most of this global war, though, is financial and economic, and of course in the informational and propaganda sphere. Bottom line: I see no way for the GAE to win, nor any way for its leaders to accept defeat. The risk of an accidental escalation to a nuclear conflagration exists, as does the possibility (albeit a slim one, I hope) of a so-called “Samson Option,” deliberately bringing down the temple crushing all inside.
Well, if the worst happens, we won’t have to worry because we’ll all be dead. If it doesn’t, what comes next won’t be pretty though: a combination inflation/deflation in the form of inflation of daily living needs (food, fuel), deflation of stored wealth (stocks, bonds, crypto, real estate, maybe metals, durable goods and discretional purchases that people can’t afford because all their money goes for food, gas, and keeping lights on). For the short term, cash will be king but eventually – maybe in a year, two years? – the US dollar will go down the tube as well. At this juncture it’s hard to see what could replace it, but it sure won’t be the Euro or the Pound.
In our post-industrial debt-based virtual economy we will be painfully educated as to how much our ability to buy underpriced imported stuff at Walmart and on Amazon rests on dollar “seigniorage,” which in turn rests on global perceptions of American military superiority. As the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman put it, “McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15.” Just as the USSR’s international standing was inextricably linked to its internal stability, the visible failure of the empire will feed a crisis of legitimacy at home in the US and in our vassal states. The chickens of the US establishment’s post-Cold War misguided and needless ideological quest for world domination, waged with all the Manichaean messianic zeal of 1920s Bolsheviks, are coming home to roost. It is a house built on sand: “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”
The real question I don’t know the answer to is when we cease from a downward sloping glidepath to a sudden plunge. It will certainly hit Europe first. Indeed, that’s already happening, with smelly Germans being told not to shower but wash with a wet rag and to gather firewood for the coming winter. There will be civil disorders and toppling of governments by non-constitutional means, as we already saw some time ago in Sri Lanka. But unlike the AstroTurf color revolutions the US and our satellites have specialized in for decades these will be true grassroots outpourings of desperation. Some countries like France and Italy have a real proclivity for that sort of thing, others like Germany not so much.
What about the US? Maybe there’s too much Anglo-Saxon law-abidingness – and for the time being, too much danger of harsh repression à la the January 6 “insurrection,” crushing of alt-lite groups like the Proud Boys and Patriot Front, politization of law enforcement, and so forth. Things would only get “kinetic” here when cities dissolve into chaos and people outside rural areas starting pondering who gets to eat today and who doesn’t, but I don’t know how soon that might happen.
How bad will it get? Two of my former Senate colleagues, now at a major Washington think tank, on a recent podcast urged us to remember (specifically, in the aftermath of the Dobbsruling overturning Roe v. Wade) that “we’re fellow Americans, we’re fellow citizens. We are not enemies. … [to] quote Lincoln …, he says in the first inaugural address, ‘We are not enemies, but friends. We must never be enemies.’ It’s a nice thought, a pious wish. But is it true? Was it true in Lincoln’s time? Bear in mind that both Northerners and Southerners –
‘In 1861 … worshipped the same God, read the same Bible, honored the same Founding Fathers, claimed fidelity to the same Constitution. In today’s America, like in the rest of the Woke Woke West, we can’t even agree on our pronouns [or on what a “woman” is. We are moral aliens to one another. We are not “fellow” anythings except in the most superficial, formal sense.]. … The term “cold” civil war, a war that might possibly turn “hot,” has become a commonplace in American discourse. That should not come as a surprise when we remember how the Red Gnostic seizure of power in Russia [a century ago], to which many draw parallels to America today, didn’t triumph without bloodily overcoming ferocious popular resistance. The rising tide of Rainbow Gnosticism in America now, whether it succeeds or fails, may turn out to be just as destructive. Let’s remember too that, if you credit the William Strauss and Neil Howe “Fourth Turning” cycle, we are only about halfway through a crisis that will totally transform this country, assuming there’s a country left at all by the end of it.’
There’s also the ethnic factor, to which I alluded earlier. In addition to their terminal (and it may be terminal) law-abidingness, Americans have a poor understanding of their identity as an ethnos. If you ask the average American who doesn’t belong to a “hyphenated” identity like African, Asian, Latinx, etc., or specifically Polish, Italian, Jewish, Greek, Cuban, Haitian, Japanese, whatever “What makes you an American, what is an American? Who and what are you?” – he or she would have no idea what you were talking about. “Uhhh…. muh ‘Constitution’ … muh ‘democracy’?” “Uhhh… [looking at his arm] … I guess, uh, I’m ‘white’?” “Uhhh … my grandfather was Dutch I think… or was that Danish?” “Uhhh … I think my mom’s Presbyterian…?”
When I was a kid more than half a century ago, from a family of relatively recent immigrant origin, if you told the average non-hyphenated American that Americans weren’t a nation, he’d have punched you in the nose, and deservedly so. Now, after decades of multi-culti propaganda based two great lies – one: that we’re a “civic” nation, not an “ethnic” one, and two: that America is a “nation of immigrants” – we don’t know who or what the hell we are. This is one reason, as the late Samuel Huntington put it, our relationship with the world is so messed up, dominated by foreign and corporate lobbies: if you don’t know who you are, how can you tell what your interests are?
Mind you, I’m not saying the Constitution is unimportant, but as I mentioned, it’s an epiphenomenon, not the foundation but an expression of something more fundamental: the people who created it who were, well, Englishmen who’d fought for their rights as Englishmen and separated from the Crown as a consequence. Hint: that’s why we’re speaking English. That’s why we have the Constitution we do. That’s the identity to which those of us not of Anglo-Saxon stock assimilated to, before assimilation became a hate concept. Observed John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court: “Providence has been pleased to give us this one connected country to one united people – a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs.” Writes Huntington: “Subsequent generations of immigrants were assimilated into the culture of the founding settlers and modified it, but did not change it fundamentally. … Would America be the America it is [or was?] today if in the 17th and 18th centuries it had been settled not by British Protestants but by French, Spanish, or Portuguese Catholics? The answer is no. It would not be America; it would be Quebec, Mexico, or Brazil.” Theethnos makes the constitution, not the other way around.
Point of illustration: We’ve only had two constitutions, the first one, the Articles of Confederation, was only in effect for a few years. How many constitutions has France had? Hint: the current setup since 1958 is called the Fifth Republic. Plus lots of monarchy, a couple of Napoleons. Yet France remained France because there are these people, an ethnos, called “Frenchmen,” a unique historical mélange of Germanic Franks (hence the name) and Romanized Celtic Gauls. Sure, since even before the recent influx of migrants from Africa and the Middle East, there are other ethnoi indigenous to France: Basques, Bretons, German-speaking Alsatians (as Bonaparte – himself a Corsican, really a kind of Italian – once said, “Let the Alsatians speak German so long as their swords swing French”). But none of these are the “state-building nation” as it’s known in political theory. We don’t call that country “Alsatia,” “Corsicania,” or “Bretonia.” France exists because of French people specifically, not these others.
My point here isn’t really about France, which has its own elite pathologies. (The ridiculous current president, “Li’l Macro” as I like to call him, once said there is no such think as “French culture,” notwithstanding the millions of people around the world who both know it and appreciate it.) The point is that states and their constitutional orders depend on the self-awareness of the people who created that state and their desire for a sovereign, independent political expression – even one along the lines of a limited, minimalist state most of us would prefer. To a greater or lesser extent, that self-awareness, which is usually though not always ethnic, is still to be found in some European countries (especially, and paradoxically, in the former communist countries) and even more so outside of Europe. In America that self-awareness is more questionable. Put another way, many Frenchmen still know they are French, Russians Russian, Poles Polish, Japanese Japanese, Yorubas Yoruba, and so forth. Americans – eh, it’s at best an open question. In my opinion, that doesn’t bode well for our long-term future as we enter a period of existential turmoil.
We also, in the short term, need to take into account a looming regime crisis: Uncle Joe Biden is incompetent and everybody sees he needs to go but there’s nobody capable who will replace him – certainly not that cackling moron set to take his desk in the Oval Office. Meanwhile, the GOP, with very few exceptions, isn’t much better. Also – spoiler alert! – watch for election fraud in November, for which we’re already seeing the media spin, and which could itself be a trigger. In any case, we ain’t gonna vote our way out of this. As someone on Twitter put it, “America today is like a corpse being consumed by maggots. Liberals are rooting for the maggots. Conservatives are rooting for the corpse.”
All in all, it’s a real Shinola Storm in which we’ll be faced with a lot of what are called “known unknowns” – information deficits of which we are aware – plus no doubt a bunch of “unknown unknowns”: you don’t know what you don’t know; too many variables, not enough constants. I do take some comfort in the hope that whatever happens, it very well may take down the globalist Davos Great Reset crowd. What comes next, I don’t know. Once the GAE Sauron tanks, will it be replaced by a Eurasian Saruman – or will there be a genuine opportunity for global pluralism and, domestically, revival of some kind of healthy order reflecting our country’s best traditions and values? Maybe I’m a giddy optimist after all….
I do hope that once the ordeal is over, some sort of decent America can arise, perhaps only in part of what used to be the United States. Anticipating something comparable to what the Soviet Union went through in the 1990s, I reckon the whole thing should be over by about 2027, hopefully sooner but by 2030 at the latest.
But first we have to get through it. Which brings us back to my parting admonitions to your predecessors last year, which I see no need to change:
‘I think your ability to impact the “big picture” regarding any of this is slim to none. Even our ability to discern the signs of the times in an era of pervasive Gnostic deceit abetted by technologies unimaginable just a few years ago is limited.
‘Nevertheless, for what it is worth, I put before you three practical tasks for your consideration.
‘Firstly, be vigilant against deception, in a day when assuredly evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. Admittedly, this is a tough one, given the ever-present lying that surrounds us and the suppression of dissent. Try to sift truth from falsehood but don’t become obsessed because, in many cases, you won’t be able to be sure anyway. Focus most on what’s proximate to you and on the people most important to you. … Be skeptical – about everyone. … There may be a cost. As Solzhenitsyn said, “He who chooses the lie as his principle inevitably chooses violence as his method.”
‘Secondly, as stewards of every worldly charge placed on us by God and by other people—as fathers and mothers, as husbands and wives, as sons and daughters, as neighbors, as students, as workers, as citizens, as patriots—we must prudently care for those to whom we have a duty within the limited power and wisdom allotted to us. Start with yourselves. Be as self-sufficient as possible. Get involved in your community; that leftist slogan is actually a good one: think globally, act locally. Befriend your neighbors. Learn a real skill – electricity, plumbing, carpentry. Farm!Don’t go to law school, for goodness’ sake. Get in shape. Eat and sleep right. Have plenty of the essentials: food, fuel, gold, ammunition. Learn to shoot. Limit computer and phone time. Cultivate healthy personal relationships – real ones, not virtual ones. Marry young, have kids – especially women, don’t get seduced by all that “career” nonsense. [Nobody on his or her deathbed ever said, “Gosh, I wish I’d spent more time at the office.] Read old books. Cultivate virtue. Go to church.
‘Simply being what used to be considered normal and leading a productive life is becoming the most revolutionary act one can perform. With that in mind, find the strength to be revolutionaries indeed!
‘You’ve seen the meme: Hard times create strong men; Strong men create good times; Good times create weak men; Weak men create hard times. Well, take it from the weakling generation that brought them to you: the hard times, they is a-coming. But they won’t last forever. If you live through them – and some of you will not – we’ll see what possibilities, as of now literally unimaginable, might then exist. But you will need to be personally fit to take advantage of them. You will also need to be part of some kind of sustainable community of likeminded people.
‘Third, for those of you who are believers, particularly Christians, we must pray without ceasing, firm in faith that, through whatever hardships may lie ahead, even the very hairs of our head are all numbered, and the final triumph of Truth is never in doubt.
‘Thank you, and good luck. You’re going to need it.’