In an email exchange with Ironbear earlier I mentioned the incomparable onetime blogger Billy Beck, who I used to correspond regularly with back in the day. We were like those “brothers from different mothers” i’ th’ adage: both of us working guitar-slingers, military aviation buffs, and RightwingNaziDeathbeast Hitlerbloggers with a penchant for expressing ourselves in a totally unrestrained and, shall we say, plainspoken fashion.
I somehow lost touch with Billy some years back, and find myself wondering now about where he might be and what he might be getting up to out there. Though some of the more staid blogosphere denizens in those days regarded him (and me, let’s face it) as way too offbeat, obnoxious, and extreme for civilized company (if not actually crazier than a shithouse rat), as it turns out, what Billy in fact was was a fucking prophet. It’s positively uncanny how many of the things he was sounding the alarm about years ago have come to pass, no matter how seemingly outlandish or outside the odds the prediction might have seemed at the time.
Unfortunately, his blog archives were long ago cast into the outer darkness and are now unavailable anywhere, near as I can make out. Despite this grievous loss, I’m sure almost all CF Lifers will be familiar with his best-known apophthegm: “All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war.” Bizarrely, and to Billy’s horror and disgust, that one was later hijacked for nefarious purposes by none other than a certain William J “Bill” Clinton:
Since inception, the line “All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war” has been listed on or near the mastheads of a number of politically-oriented websites, among them Sipsey Street Irregulars and Western Rifle Shooters Association, as well as a popular signature phrase in the posts of Usenet newsgroup participants at the time. (The quote was later cited in HL Goodall’s 2010 book, Counter-Narrative: How Progressive Academics Can Challenge Extremism and Promote Social Justice.)
Clinton’s mangle, in a speech to the Center for American Progress, April 6, 2010:
“…One of these guys the other day said that all politics is just a prelude to the ultimate and inevitable civil war. You know, I’m a southerner. I know what happened. We were still paying for that 100 years later when I was a kid growing up, in ways large and small. It doesn’t take many people to take something like that seriously. So I don’t want the whole story of this retrospective just to be about this, and trying to turn everything into politics….”
Naturally, Billy returned fire at The Creep with a characteristically eloquent, thunderous, yet laid-back salvo that was pure 180-proof Billy Beck™:
“Here is my conjecture: the ex-president either briefly eyeballed that blog himself, or accepted a memo from one of his flunkies which included the line that I wrote.
I have made up my mind that I would be no more interested in hearing his apology than I am offended by his presumption. It is simply a matter of note that The Lying Bastard of The Ozark Long March knows nothing of which he speaks, amid his insinuations that I advocate violence in this poor country’s current straits.
Here is a word for that despicable person: I am “a Southerner”, too, you strutting ignoramus. I was born in Little Rock, and my mother graduated Central High School six years before Eisenhower finally saw fit to roll out the National Guard. Don’t even try to hand me your threadbare sanctimony about “paying” for the Civil War. For many reasons which I will not attempt to relate to you, I am quite beyond your ex cathedra pose in the matter. You have nothing to say to me. Sit down and shut your insipid mouth.”—Billy Beck, April 21, 2010
Oof. I mean, just…OOF. Also: OUCH.
In casting about trying to locate other traces of his former online presence, I did manage to run across a few more good ‘uns, the first from another sorely-missed Dearly Departed colleague:
Billy Beck nails the auto industry “bailout”
“Things will start to get better when the last indignant buggy-whip maker is strangled with the entrails of the last commissar.”
– Billy Beck, 8 December 2008
Tasty stuff, no? And then there’s this, which is so dead-on descriptive of where we find ourselves today as to make the hair on the back of one’s neck stand straight up and salute:
I keep saying it: the basic conflict in American politics is individualism vs. collectivism in all its pretense forms and manifestation. I keep saying it because no arrangements of coalition electoral politics will address this fundamental schism: as the necessary economic implications become real, so-called ‘democracy’ becomes impotent to manage coalition demands, all while the force of ‘law’ becomes more arbitrary at coalition demand.
I’ve been saying it for at least fifteen years: “The pace of this thing is picking up.”
I hate to keep saying it, because I know it’s no fun to hear it and it just wears my narrow white ass out to keep-ass saying it, but the real problem under all this is fucking enormous.
I really don’t think it can be fixed before it really goes the way of the pear. We’re really in it. In our lifetimes.
Billy Beck, Two-Four – What Really Happened
A decade and more ago, Billy was an adept enough visionary to pierce the fog and discern the Big Issues clearly, when the rest of us silly kids still went around acting as if elections mattered.
Time was, stuff like the above sounded genuinely over the top and excessive to most people even on this side of the Great Divide. Now those placid days grow ever harder to recall, while the steady march of history goes about guaranteeing that Billy Beck’s wisdom and insight won’t be forgotten. As I said to ‘Bear: Poor Chicken Little is always laughed at as a nut and a hysteric by more sensible people. And then, one day, the sky comes crashing down on everybody.
Billy, wherever you are: my deepest respect and fondest regards to you, my friend. Hope you’re well.
Try the Wayback Machine – http://web.archive.org/web/20040112233316/http://www.two–four.net/weblog.php/
Point taken – from 2008:
“I find it almost absurd that “The United States” is a single nation. I traveled a lot as a kid — Dad being in the Air Force — and even more as an adult: thirty-one years of rock-show touring means I’ve seen just about every nook and cranny in fifty states. From here to there and everywhere in this country, the cultural differences among American geographies are often as vivid as anything in Europe, possibly excepting for the language but that’s often very remarkable in this context, too.
Think about “The United States”. These days, you hear politicians and other mouthy twits rattling on about “unity”. Of course, this is part & parcel of the entire socialist theme, but it also has a most unfortunate aspect in its standing in the American political heritage. It’s a long-bone in our political lexicon. What’s grievously unfortunate is that the only thing about American politics that “united” this country was dying lip-service (known as “the Constitution”) to the ideals originally set forth in the Declaration of Independence. It was the essential idea of freedom that was the object of the “union” — no matter how badly it was served, ever after.
No socialist idea was ever a part of that, and this is the ghastly perversion of the concept of “union” that we face now: the socialists have something in mind that is simply not American. When they talk about “unity”, they are not talking about agreement on fidelity to the idea of freedom. They’re talking about a hive.
But the word “union” has such a grand American ring to it, doesn’t it?
The “sort” is inevitable, I think. This is because of the political dynamics of collectivism. As every individual life becomes more and more subject to cannibal-pot ethics, it becomes more and more necessary to get into the political fight, for sheer survival. In the very nature of things, this means herding: join a gang or get thrown to one.
The essential political conflict of our time is between collectivism and individualism. Very few people can see the thing in those truest terms, and this is why most individuals’ practical politics can’t be distinguished to precisely one or the other of those two sides: the nice lady who wants free meds doesn’t know “socialism” from a tuna sandwich, and the gun-toting farmer usually has only the dimmest concepts of “rights” or the implications of his stand on weapons. They don’t know the fullest context or implications of their politics. However, the power of principles does not diminish from ignorance.
Very roughly, the “sort” is taking place along the individualist/collectivist divide. It has all kinds of distortions (for instance: instinctive individualists joining pressure groups — e.g., NRA) compounded by cultural geography, etc., but I say that what you’re really seeing is the last stand of the American idea.
I’ve said it before: all politics in my country now is dress rehearsal for civil war.
Or: “Politics is war by other means.”
The socialists might eventually achieve the “unity” they want. It’s going to be right bloody hell — one way or another — in doing it.” http://web.archive.org/web/20080718080319/http://www.two–four.net/weblog.php/
I am a Southern fan of both Beck’s. The only thing better you could have done with that post is video link Jimmy Hall singing Jeff’s version of Goin Down, or a stroked Sportster burning out. Bravo
I know of Billy Beck from Ironbear, somehow having missed him back in the day. Enlightening he certainly is. Prescient is probably not a strong enough word.
Clicking the link the first time, and then the links on the page, returns an error “404”. I just realized that you can click the wayback machine and get the original, and it’s a treat.
“To be in an airplane all alone for the first time is a big deal.”
From Billy’s “Solo” link. It’s been almost 50 years since I soloed, but I still remember that, and the first time I flew cross country on my own.
I’ll slowly read all of Billy. Thanks for the link Mike!
Yeah, like Mike, I was friends with Billy from back in the early days of the war blogger community, probably back around 2002 or 2003. I think we first started corresponding regularly back when I was a regular at Misha’s and a co-blogger at Denita Twodragon’s blog.
According to Bill, Beck is still active on Facebook these days, but since I don’t Faceplant and never will, we’ve dropped out of contact. The phone number I had for him went dark by the time I got back on the ‘net back in 2012.
I’m not sure how I missed him, probably because I did not participate online very much at the time. Still, seems odd.
But I do appreciate writing of a certain style, and Billy has that covered.
Billy also coined the now infamous and widely disseminated “There is no voting our way out of this” that you see everyone in the blogosphere and elsewhere quoting these days. I first saw that stated in one of his comments back in the good old, bad old, wild old days of Usenet.
Thank you, all.
I’m still here. … & there, around.
I’m currently doing my seventh 30-day jail term at Facebook in the past year. (Big surprise.) My original Twitter account was shut-down the week before the New York Post affair last November, after I tweeted right-at AOC and said that she’s a “silly little lying bimbo.” I’ve since cranked-up my first-ever clandestine account over there: never before in about 35 years since CompuServe have I posted anything but under my own real name.
Why would I do that? Well, Twitter is a thoroughly despicable septic hole, but it’s where a great deal of the fight is now going on. I fucking hate that place (it’s impossible to really write there), but there’s no ignoring it, to me.
It’s the same with Facebook, where I’m able to (sort-of) strike discussion sparks that remind me of Usenet, except of course, that Usenet was completely wide-open to anything that anyone wanted to say. I still marvel at what the whole internet has come to. I once did an article for J. Orlin Grabbe’s Laissez Faire City Times in which I fired the Boston Globe: letting them know that their days of ex cathedra “journalism” were over, because little guys like me could tell the truth to a global audience.
Now, of course, what’s called “Big Tech” is a functionary of the state. That’s one thing I never saw coming.
I hate it that was was right, back in those years. I want you to try to understand that it was my burning passion for America that drove me to the extremes that you saw. I cannot honestly apologize for any of it. I know that I pissed-off a lot of people, including now big names who I won’t mention. I look at some them and I’m even more …”disappointed” (that isn’t quite the right word for it, but it’ll do, for now) with them, for what I see as a comfortably cynical adaptation to what it’s all come to. (Again: I could name names, but I won’t. That’s not really important, now.)
As for the blog:
What happened was that I reached a point of pretty serious intellectual depression with the election of Obama. I’m not very emotionally-driven, but it really just felt like that was a crucial turning point (I’m sure that you can see what I mean) and that I just didn’t have anything to say to it all anymore. The fat was in the fire, you see. And now, we’re living out the implications of that event, and they’re getting bigger all the time.
I can also look back, for instance, at the implications of Bill Clinton and China, and know that “The Cold War” (which began in 1789 with the French Revolution) is now more menacing than Joe McCarthy or even George Kennan ever imagined.
I’ve begun a series of video podcasts, but I’m not real proud of it yet, because I’m still adapting to the medium, and weighing it against what I immodestly consider a fair talent for prose: whether it’s the right thing for me to do. I’m also fairly intellectually exhausted, and need to find a way to recoup some of the energy that I burned through from about 1985 to 2010 or so.
Even if this whole ship goes under, I would consider farewell serenades to America worth the effort for the sake of posterity, if there ever is any to speak of. I’ve said it many times: “The children will never know what got lost, or how.” Maybe I can help that.
In any case, at least: remember America. It was always worth it.
Loves you, all.
Ps. — I’m also writing and recording original music.
This might make sense to some of you.
Heya, Billy. Long time. Good to see you’re still alive and kicking.
I hear you.
I’m pretty sure that if I hadn’t dropped offline due to a bout of homelessness at that time, I’d have gone through the same thing. Obama’s election was disheartening. And it was a crucial turning point – led us directly to here and now.
It’s a very small but real consolation now and in retrospect that we may have dodged a very real pair of bullets in that, by virtue of the fact that both McCain and Romney would have been absolute disasters wearing Republican skins. But that’s the sort of thing that’s only obvious in hindsight, and a hindsight that wouldn’t have been possible at all if Trump hadn’t caused both of them to rip off their masks and reveal the lizards beneath.
Oh well. No political solutions for the problems created by politics. Just wish that more people would realize that fact.
Good to see you again, man.
Thank you, Bear. I hope you’re well.
The Trump years were a thing to behold. I’ve said many times that he’s a damned fool.
The day he came down the escalator, I knew he could win. When the nominations were cinched at him and Field Marshal Rodham, I knew that he would. I saw him as the answer to Rick Santelli’s original “tea party” rant on CNBC in 2009 (which I saw when he did it, live; I was watching CBNC that hour). She was running a strictly Old School Demshevik campaign in the first decade of real American Idiocracy and hadn’t sunk quite far enough below the level of, say, Hubert Humphrey-type hackery to really herd-up the New Lumpen.
Trump is a New York City lout. He’s a gamer, which is naturally because he grew up in that real estate “market” (if we want to call it that), along with everything that goes into it: the mob and the unions and every variety of government from City Hall to Albany to Washington. So; anyone who understands, for instance, coercive market distortions (von Mises & Hayek, ladies & gentlemen) and “the politics of pull” (Ayn Rand) can easily account for certain aspects of his ethics.
The thing is; he still has a gut-level appreciation of and love for America. Even if America isn’t really him, he’s still really American.
He went wading all that energy of his into D.C. with an attitude like he could deal with those people in dollars, as if that sort of power were the coin of that realm. He didn’t understand that it was a very different sort of power: the well-oiled and loaded .45 at the bottom of every stack of government paperwork, and; everything that means.
For instance: he didn’t really understand (if he ever really even imagined) intelligence tradecraft; the applied power of the state in defense of itself.
When I first heard the term, “deep state,” I thought, “That’s pretty good. I wish I’d thought that up.” I soon saw it lensed against the left, which is arguably fair enough (e.g.; in the context of the five year-long coup attempt manifest in all the transparent commie horseshit about him and Russia). What I had mind, however, was the whole state, per se. Like; the entire administratum comprised in all the alphabureaus and their career apparat that’s virtually never subject to electoral politics, even if their appointed chiefs come & go.
Trump didn’t have the sense to take a chainsaw to that much of it, and spent a lot of his time in running fights with it. Now, he likes to fight, but that was a vicious waste of the time that America had left.
His spending was profligate (but now paling into shadow under what’s going on today).
One important thing came in his consequence: he scared the living shit out of the commies. They now have to make some really big plays to get their whole wagon back in the lane of trans-nationalist “transforming of America”. This is, for instance, why we’re seeing the whole disaster at the border: they’re importing voters. Stealing the 2020 election was an emergency maneuver. Pretty well-done, but maybe not well-enough to prevent it from going down correctly in honest history. We’ll see.
In any case, the lines that I drew back in the day are far deeper and one can watch America separating like a microscopic cell budding into halves. “The pace of this thing is picking up.”
Communist China is a monster.
I see anti-lockdown riots all over Europe which, dammit, is actually sort of encouraging.
I don’t know, man. I just hate it all.
People in my generation are unique in all of human history. I saw the peak of human culture: born in America in the 1950’s. Although he had the same outlook as me, my father didn’t see the backside — over the hill — of the American ascent. When he died in 2003, it was all still just barely coasting near the peak. The children, conversely, will never know what it was really like: what got lost.
I’ve seen the whole rise and fall; what it really could have been, and what it’s come to.
I saw some wag or other describe it as “like the fall of Rome, but with cell phones.” Nobody else will ever see anything like it.
Doin’ fine, Billy, for certain relative values of fine. 🙂
I’ve described mine, accurately I think, as the last generation born in America. Born in the ’60s, raised in the ’70s, fucked in the ’80s. We’re the generation that came of age in time to see the death of America That Was.
Last generation to see a world where you could buy a gun mail order from Sears or shotgun news. Last to see below a dollar gas and the real American bigmobiles. Last to see an era where kids could grow up roaming far and wide on bikes and shooting BB-guns, and have your parents just shrug and say, “Call if you’re going to be out after dark.” Last to see the era of all day Kung-fu movie marathons where you and your buddies hit the matinees at Noon and walked home after 9pm when the last show finally let out. Last to see an era where you actually could “step out back” with a guy and have a fair fight.
We got to see the death of American culture in our teen years, and we’re both the richer and the poorer for it, for it ain’t never coming back.
People born after 1970 never really knew America. They just saw the pale ghosts and tattered remnants of it surviving in scattered pockets across the continent, but never experienced the totality of the thing in all of its glories and warts. The lucky ones came of age in the Cheyne-Stokes breathing era of Regan, before the ’90s pulled the plug on the life support.
The unlucky ones were born and came of age in post-America.
I think you have to keep in mind that America is not the government. In fact, the government has seceded from a lot of the Union. We’re at least two different countries, now, at least looking on from Kansas. There are some states which are pretty much split, too, mostly on urban vs rural lines. Upstate New York is in a different country than Downstate, Northern Virginia is its own state, having nothing to do with the rest of the state which has more in common with West Virginia – which was once a part of Virginia until it split off in 1860 or so. The same goes for Washington, Oregon, and California, and to some degree, even for Kansas, where two counties out of 104 seem to have a stranglehold on power – political, anyway. Most of the electrical power is made in the rural areas… So maybe what we’re looking at is a realignment, and maybe we need to draw new state lines. And we’d be a lot better going back to the original plan, the Articles of Confederation of 1777, which were in force until the Federalist coup of 1787 run out of Wall Street, Well, the Federalists have pretty much shot their wad, so far as I can see – and the Anti-Federalists predicted this – have a look at http://resources.utulsa.edu/law/classes/rice/Constitutional/AntiFederalist/09.htm – they seem to have done a pretty good job of predicting our current situation. As for getting out of the problem, voting won’t fix anything, the problem is structural: “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable, that all men are created equal and independent; that from that equal creation they derive in rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, and liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these ends, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government shall become destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing it’s powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. … but when a long train of abuses and usurpations, begun at a distinguished period, and pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to subject them to arbitrary power, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.” http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/documents/1776-1785/jeffersons-draft-of-the-declaration-of-independence.php You’d be shocked to see how well this translates into French, one of the sentences has a spelling error – the original is “rights inherent and inalienables” – in French, “droits inhérents et inalienables”… As a side note, people should see what the French are up to: https://streamfortyseven.substack.com/p/big-demo-in-paris-france-31-july – It looks like they got about a half million, if not more, out in the streets in Paris – and in hundreds of towns and cities across the country. In some small towns nearly all of the people turned up. Very few face masks, too, that’s becoming a hated symbol.
Truer words, truer words.
To your other points:
This map really helps visualize “the split/the sort”.
In my view, attempting any sort of actual, official “split” is really just kicking the can down the road. Leaving the inevitable to future generations. There will be a war for supremacy of this continent & it’s world class resources & natural defense advantages. We will either be on the winning or losing side of it. There is no changing that. The only thing we *might* be able to do is delay that war, to the advantage of our enemy.
I’m not a fan of balkanization or partition, for multiple reasons, not the least of which is, the not insignificant increased security costs of sharing a continent with an enemy that will constantly & ceaselessly seek war & advantage against us, which will bleed from us the surpluses that create prosperity, like they have done & continue to do to every other nation on earth. We are unique in the world in that we don’t have those costs currently. It’s a major component of our ability to accrue prosperity that is frequently overlooked, not well understood, or just not discussed & considered. It doesn’t make sense to reconfigure into an entity with increased & unending security costs, nor one which competitors will relentlessly play against one another to get at the resources, unique in the world, which we have.
A loose collection of states with maximum autonomy, collective pooling of resources for military & national defense & trade/markets/monetary policy. We already have this basic structure, & culture. People are used to it & comfortable with it. It’s far easier to keep what you already have than to forge something completely new. And I would offer, it’s far easier to kill the cancer we have, than to birth an entirely new organism; one which we are uncertain how it will fair, or whether or not it will be widely embraced.
If you think of it in terms of “branding”, every day & at every opportunity, our enemy goes out of its way to reject, malign, & divorce themselves from that brand, a brand which, in shorthand, really just stands for “freedom”. The enemy wants to implement something totally new, foreign, & uncomfortable to the people. “The Prince”, & world history, indicates that’s going to go very badly for them. However, for us, all we have to do to get the value & usefulness of that “brand”, the most valuable brand for “freedom” that’s ever existed in human history, is defend it. Seek to restore it. Comparatively speaking, the uphill battle is theirs, not ours.
Whatever advantages you may think you have are meaningless when your foundation is not sound. The enemy doesn’t understand or can’t accept this. Or perhaps it’s just that they understand they are already overcommitted & cannot change course at this point. Either way the fact remains.
All that being said,
If we wanted, we could offer autonomous/semiautonomous city-state status to the areas in the 3D map that are already sorted, as an attempt at some sort of compromise. However, I still think that’s just kicking the can down the road, a sort of short-term arrangement that would be little more than cosmetic window dressing. But it *might* be a way to avoid near term war. If they, the already sorted “city-state areas”, would accept, which I highly doubt.
Sorry, wrong link. I meant this one:
Thanks for being a voice that told us we were not alone. It’s not a happy thought to think that the worst has happened despite those who warned us repeatedly where it was headed.
I now find myself to be more radical than many of the people I thought were radical in the early days after 9/11/2001. Although I have become more radical since then I see THEM becoming less radical. More inclined to go with the flow or go back to a “past” that isn’t there anymore. They hope for a Big Midterm Victory and they minimize the Steal and maximize the “Insurrection”. It’s infuriating sometimes.
Anways, good luck to you and thanks for everything. Come back here y’all when you have a hankering to lay some Truth down. 😎
“…inclined to go with the flow or go back to a ‘past’ that isn’t there anymore.”
I sent a friend of mine over here to read Mike’s OP, and he pointed out:
“‘Civilized company’ will march themselves to the wall.”
Or, like the proverbial Self-Gassing Jews, onto the boxcars.
Rule Numero Uno: You NEVER get on the boxcars.
Damn, Billy, I didn’t imagine for a moment you might run across this and respond. WONDERFUL to hear from you, old son, simply wonderful. Glad to know you’re still kicking the dust off some deserving britches out there.
I was tipped to it in email.
I always hope you’re well, Mike. Thank you for this.
I’m a little late to the Welcome Billy party, but Welcome it is. It’s our good fortune to have you check in here at CF. I hope you visit often. Meanwhile I’m using the wayback machine to ramble through some of your work, and I enjoy it very much.
I’m thankful to Bill for slapping me upside the head way back in the usenet days, maybe around 1998. He detonated the monster patriot inside me.
You can see more of Beck here: