A sensible moderation policy might involve automatically holding back any comment from a commenter who hasn’t yet been approved. But agnostic holds all new comments under moderation by default and sometimes just doesn’t choose to approve them. Knowing this, I saved a copy of the last one I tried to submit in reply to this, and am pasting it below.

Declaring that lawyers are a leading indicator sounds like an epicycle introduced after I pointed out that lawyers grew more in the 30s & 40s than the 20s, after you previously said this declined in the New Deal era.

“It got flattened after a brief surge”
What got flattened? Is there some measure you’re referencing?

“Europeans did not conquer most of the world — the Spanish did […] And the British conquered the rest”
If we’re going by population, South Asia has a lot more people in it than South America (although the most populous South American country was Portugese rather than Spanish). And of course the British also conquered places outside South Asia like Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, Rhodesia, South Africa, Australia, Singapore & Hong Kong (which they retained until 1997). They gained a lot of these territories even after losing the 13 US colonies. By what standard is the British empire, on which the sun proverbially never set, “the rest” compared to the Spanish?

“They didn’t colonize anybody, even after they had nationally unified and industrialized.”
Wrong. They colonized Somalia, Eritrea, Libya, and while they were defeated in their first war with Ethiopia, they conquered it in their second. How did they do that with their lack of asabiyah? Better technology.

Russia was expanding to the east around the same time western European countries which the Mongols never reached were forming overseas empires.

“Disease played a role, but mainly it was who was strongly unified and who was fragmented.”
This discussion of the conquistadors downplays of their technological advantages, but it also makes plain they were so disorganized as to often fight among themselves and against the government to which they were nominally subject:
https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/ivpKSjM4D6FbqF4pZ/cortes-pizarro-and-afonso-as-precedents-for-takeover

“The tech-heavy view is that they should never have dropped their colonies or their campaigns against one another in Europe (i.e., Germany should have instantly tried to invade and dominate the more backward Balkans).”
Colonies may have been profitable for a relatively small number of colonizers whose operations were being subsidized, but they were mostly a cost for the parent country (something Greg Cochran brings up a lot). Lenin was wrong about the viability of those imperial powers once they lost their colonies, just as Hitler was wrong about the necessity of acquiring lebensraum.

Afghanistan is the “ESPN Zone of empires”: a place where a number of wasted time & expense before returning the normal. The British eventually had enough of it, but continued being an empire, and even acquired more territory after WW1.

“The rising vs. falling asabiya view makes perfect sense of the decolonization and non-colonial policies of Europe today.”
I say Sailer’s “dirt theory of war” explains its decline (and that so many wars since WW2 have been intrastate rather than interstate). We don’t really see any empire rising to take the place of the ones that receded.

I don’t follow Aimee, but has she ever acknowledged the existence of this blog?

Another post, another comment

Agnostic created another post on meta-ethnic frontiers, and again one of my comments was approved while a follow-up was not. In reply to this I wrote the following:

I don’t recall Turchin claiming the Romans had a meta-ethnic frontier with the Carthaginians, seeing as how there was a sea separating Carthage from Rome, rather than a land border where marcher lords where constantly squabbling. And the Romans only butted up against the Carthaginians because they’d already expanded enough to dominate all the Italians between them, and then gone on to Sicily (then colonized by Greeks).

I agree that east coast accents are relatively distinct (partly because they’re older and had more time to diverge). But my understanding is that Midwest is still considered more generic than West coast/California. I think the Californian working-class today would tend to sound Mexican.

A sequence of two posts, where only my comment on the second was approved

The first post was titled Collapsing trust where empires collapse — and trust preserved where empires never existed and the second was Imperial collapse and cratering trust: the former Ottoman Empire, and Italy. More commonly my first comment under a post will get through while follow-ups will not, but I’m not sure why none got through on the former though one did on the latter. I do have a follow-up on the second in reply to this, which I’ll wait to post here on the off-chance that it might get through (UPDATE: It’s now below). Here’s my brief comment on the former.

What is the single mega-corporation for finance?

Gabriel Kolko wrote in such works as “The Triumph of Conservatism” that the natural tendency of capitalism was toward fragmentation rather than centralization. Of course, being a Marxist, he didn’t view capitalist competition as such a good thing.

And now the withheld follow-up to that second comment

Riyadh is in Najd, and the Ottomans conquered it when the Saudis attempted to establish their first state there. The next time they tried to establish a state, the Rashidis (who cooperated with the Ottomans though they were Arabs rather than Turks) defeated & exiled them. I suppose if the Rashidis had gone from being loyalists to rebels overthrowing the Ottomans out of a base in Ha’il the parallels to Moscow might be closer.

Arab identity predates the House of Saud, and it’s based on them all speaking dialects of Arabic. What’s new is nation-states, and that’s because of Europeans. The Saudis don’t even have a republic. It’s the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan among Arab states which is most akin to Saudi Arabia. And in fact it was the Hashemite Sharif Hussein who was proclaimed King of the Arabs by the British for his role in overthrowing the Ottomans alongside T. E. Lawrence (while the Saudis fought the Rashidis, who were as noted Arab allies of the Ottomans, although the Saudis had nearly become Ottoman allies before WW1 broke out and rendered their secret treaty null). It was only in the 1920s, years after the Ottomans were gone, that the British switched to supporting the Saudis over the Hashemites.

A 2nd comment on an unrelated post

While making an initial comment responding to his praise of the “historical preservation” keeping real estate ossified & expensive, I also questioned agnostic’s assumption that his favorite podcasters read his blog. His response was that they both used the same term to describe the same phenomenon within a short time of each other, to which I responded with this short reply that wasn’t let through:

It’s not that odd for people to independently come up with similar things around the same time. You’re both reacting to similar things. Were there any incoming links to those posts?

A comment I couldn’t even submit due to blogspot’s comment length limits

The conversation did eventually go back to asibiya/empire type stuff. After leaving a single comment here, agnostic made multiple comments in response. I had hoped to post all the following as a single comment, and since I was unable to I decided to just add it here from the first rather than waiting to see if a shorter follow-up would ever get approved.

My statement about Korea wasn’t about the “scale” of the involvement in terms of casualties, or even about its place in the national psyche. It was that we intervened to stop an invasion, which we did. Korea was divided at the 38th parallel in 1945 (Germany was also divided with a communist side at the end of WW2). The invasion was in 1950, and the fighting ended with an armistice which set the border along a demarcation line which crossed the 38th parallel (where the communists wanted the border to return to) but on net added territory to South Korea. I responded because I think it being a different case from South Vietnam (where we withdrew and a subsequent invasion actually did topple the South) means all else is far from equal and their end shouldn’t be analyzed the same way.

The current US government is too stupid to be analyzed like a self-interested empire. The idea of a government’s primary duty being toward its citizens or that foreign policy should be directed toward the national interest is repulsive to many elites. There was never an actual goal or possibility of “winning” in the occupation Afghanistan.

“If you sit on your hands while the other football team runs down the field unopposed, for the entire game, you didn’t really lose because you accepted it beforehand!”
We didn’t sit on our hands when they rebelled against our occupation, we put that down.

“Somehow the American state did not accept that as fait accompli in 1898 or in the decades just afterward. Not until after WWII.”
The Jones Act of 1916 explicitly committed the US to granting them independence (after already distinguishing the citizenship of Filipinos vs Hawaiians). In the years following we still appointed Governors-General to the Phillipines even as they got to elect the lower house of their legislature, until in the 1930s they got to directly elect their official executive (in an election the primary leader of the defeated rebellion competed in & lost) while the old position of Governor-General took on the title of High Commissioner. Presumably the folks involved in Afghanistan were selling their higher ups that eventually the government we were propping up there would be a similarly functional client state that didn’t require such massive flows of money.

“It was only the superfluous taking of hostages that left bad memories, not our geopolitical defeat.”
Like I said, Americans don’t care that much about foreign policy. But if soldiers are going to die, it had better not be in vain. Wars sometimes get prolonged because nobody wants to be left holding the bag and admitting that was the case.

“We used force directly and indirectly to try to remove both Chavez and Qaddafi.”
Did the “direct force” involve airstrikes against Chavez like we did to Qaddafi? It would seem to be a radically different situation.

“Using force doesn’t require a ground invasion and indefinite occupation by 100s of thousands — look how swiftly the Mongols or other nomadic barbarians knocked out their enemies and brought them under vassal / tributary status.”
Did the Mongols use airstrikes rather than ground troops?

“And of course the empires of WWI thought one of them could’ve won big — that’s a sign of their decadent cluelessness!”
I was referring to post-WWI governments, hence Russia invading Poland & Finland. By “Germany” I was obviously referring to Hitler.

“It was less than a fucking week after WWII ended, you hair-splitter”
Since no one said the quote before that, you can only be accusing yourself of that.

“In both cases — total and complete failure”
Total and complete failure would be more like Vietnam.

“So bad in the Korean case that the winning presidential candidate ran on GTFO.”
We didn’t GTFO, we kept troops in the country and retained the territory we’d gained. Armistice talks had already started in 1951, Eisenhower just concluded things (over the objection of Syngman Rhee, though the National Assembly did eventually come around).

The limit of one comment per post is now explicit

I had wondered, and now he has said it. As such, I will immediately put my reply here rather than waiting for it to (never) appear there:

I don’t even have a Reddit account, and I don’t know who you think was on the other side of the “debate” against John Snow if it wasn’t the miasma theorists like William Farr.