Monday Morning Movie Review: Aniara (2018)

What happens when a luxury transport ship on a routine voyage to Mars is thrown off course, set adrift on an endless voyage across the cosmos?  That’s the premise behind 2018’s Aniara, based on the 1956 Swedish epic poem of the same name.

The answer, ultimately, is quite bleak.  Aniara fits fully into the nihilistic ennui that Scandinavians—materially prosperous but spiritually adrift—relish so stoically.  Seriously, the Swedes seemed obsessed with existential crises and a sense of meaningless in life.  At its best, that gives us the likes of Danish Christian existentialist philosopher Søren Kierkegaard; at its worst, it creates the kind of mindless pleasure-seeking the passengers of the film’s title ship indulge in here.

For all the film’s depressing messaging about the futility of life (to be fair, being trapped on an endless voyage in space, eating only algae to survive, would be a fairly depressing and psychologically destructive experience), it’s a fascinating look into how a society might develop, survive, and perish in the depths of outer space.

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Trump’s One-Two Punch

Trump won in 2016 running on a strong “America First” platform.  A major component of America First-ism is prioritizing the interests and the well-being of American citizens first—before the interests and well-being of foreign-born workers and immigrants, legal or otherwise.  The appeal and the concept aren’t difficult to understand:  a government should, chiefly, operate in the interest of its citizens before anyone else.  We can discuss the best immigration policies as a nation, but those policies should always place American citizens at the forefront.

It’s such a simple and pure political philosophy, it’s a wonder it comes under such fire.  But such is the world of globalists—who want cheap labor and sacrificial offerings to Efficiency—and progressives—who think anyone who is white and cares about having a job is a racist.  Take out the mercenaries (the former group) and the insane (the latter group) and you have reasonable people, those folks that might quibble around the edges of America First doctrine, but can’t disagree with its fundamental premises.

Trump has been better than most of his predecessors on immigration, though his waffling and equivocating—likely the product of Jared Kushner’s influence—have soured his some of his earliest supporters.  His turn on Jeff Sessions and the former Attorney General’s ultimate defeat in the Alabama Republican primary this summer seemed to many Trumpists to be a betrayal of immigration patriotism.  Sessions was, indeed, the leading voice in the United States government, pre-Trump, in denouncing open borders and unlimited immigration.  With Sessions leaving the national scene, immigration patriots and restrictionists have reason to worry.

That said, it bears remembering that Trump won the presidency campaigning on building a wall, prioritizing Americans over foreign workers, and keeping American industries at home.  No one in meaningful national politics (other than Jeff Sessions and Pat Buchanan) was beating that drum prior to Trump.  Trump tapped into a deep well of resentment over the Obama administration’s decade of putting middle-class Americans last, and several decades of neglect and open scorn from national politicians.

I also don’t expect Trump to reverse the postwar consensus overnight, or to get the whole loaf all at once.  I think Trump’s basic instincts are to put Americans first, while weighing the complexities of various interest groups and economic factors.

But Trump is at his best when he cuts the Gordian Knot and drives to the heart of the issues.  If Americans are losing jobs to foreign visa holders, well, make those visas less valuable.  He’s done that with an executive order barring H1B visa holders from working in federal government jobs, and barring the government from using contractors who use H1B visa holders.

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The Tuck for President

The 2020 election is looming, and while Trump is struggling at the moment, I am praying that he can pull out another victory and another four-year term.  The stakes are high:  a Trump victory, at minimum, allows us to forestall a progressive Armageddon for another four years; it also undermines both the Never Trumpers (who can no longer write off Trump’s 2016 victory as a “fluke”) and the ultra-progressives.  I don’t think the modern Democrat Party has much of a moderate wing left, but that small, dying minority might be able to convince the Party that going full-on progressive is a bad move.

A Trump defeat, however, would be catastrophic.  Z Man wrote Tuesday that a “Democratic sweep” would essentially mean the end of elections in America—at least, the end of meaningful national ones:

More important, there is no electoral option either. The Democrat party is actively cheering on this lunacy. Joe Biden is running an extortion campaign, where a vote for him means an end to the violence and Covid lock downs. How realistic is that when his party is cheering for the mayhem, promising to take it to a new level after they win the final election. It is not hyperbole to say that a Democrat sweep in November means the end of elections. What would be the point?

Trump’s defeat would also embolden the Jonah Goldberg/David French neocons of Conservatism, Inc., who are essentially abstract ideologues offering token resistance to the Left.  There’s a reason the joke “The Conservative Case for [Progressive Goal Here]” exists, because National Review tends to put up tortured, weak resistance to the progressive fad of the moment, before finally caving and accepting the latest lunacy as a “bedrock conservative principle.”  What conservative site goes around pitching “magic mushrooms” as conservative—and has done so repeatedly?  The conservative publication of record possesses the quality and depth of a college newspaper.

Regardless, Trump’s defeat would mean not just Biden’s marionette presidency, in which ultra-progressive handlers pull the strings; it would also mean a return to boring, ineffectual, tired, defeated neoconservatism.  National conservatism, social conservatism, traditionalism, populism—these movements and others, which have enjoyed a renewal since 2015, would wither on the vine—or see themselves pruned from “respectable” Beltway “conservatism.”  That would only hasten the victory of progressivism in the absence of any real opposition.

But there is hope.  2020 looms large, but 2024 is is not that far away.  On the Right, there is a good bit of speculation about who will fill Trump’s shoes.  VDare offers one compelling optionTucker Carlson.

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Lazy Sunday LXVII: Phone it in Fridays, Part I

It’s a hot weekend here in South Carolina.  It’s been a mostly mild summer so far, but today the brutal combination of heat and humidity hit with their full rancor.  I’m currently writing this post from the third story finished attic at my parents’ house, as it’s been another big family weekend, this time to celebrate my maternal grandmother’s birthday.  Like every protagonist from Stephen King’s early work, I’m typing shirtless and drenched in sweat—an image none of you needed.

It occurred to me Friday that I’ve (improbably) hit twelve editions of Phone it in Friday, so I thought I’d cheekily dedicate the next few Sundays to looking back at past PiiF installments—a month of Fridays for a month of Sundays.  Chalk it up to laziness—I mean, that’s the point of these Sunday posts—-but I’m running out of umbrella topic ideas, and this lame tactic gives me a month to dream up some more.

So, without further ado, here’s the first installment of our Phone it in Friday Lazy Sundays:

  • Phone It in Friday – Musings & Reflections on NATO, Brexit, Etc.” – The very first PiiF goes back to 13 July 2018, before I was doing daily posts.  I believe I was sticking to a thrice-a-week MWF schedule.  The astute observer will note that I capitalized the “I” in “It” for this first installment, and lowercased it for (I believe) the rest.  The post covered Brexit, why I believe Turkey should not be in the NATO alliance (the alliance itself is probably obsolete, anyway), and President Trump’s visit to England.  Remember when Theresa May was still the Prime Minister of England and kept delaying Brexit?
  • Phone it in Friday II: Boris, Bond, and Borders” – It would be slightly over a year, on 26 July 2019, before I resorted to another PiiF.  That pithy PiiF celebrated Boris Johnson’s election as Prime Minister of Great Britain (which presaged the victory of true Brexit), the literary death of James Bond, and a Chicago Chamber of Commerce piñata bashing for illegal children.  ¡Ay caramba!
  • Phone it in Friday III: Video Killed the Blogging Star” – This PiiF featured two videos, one from the uncuckable Tucker Carlson, the other from YouTube personality RazörFist.  Watch them—they’re good.

That’s it for this week!  Time to descend from this stuffy attic and rehydrate.  I can’t be losing any water weight if I want to keep my portly status, can I?

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Screwed by SCOTUS

My brother sent me a meme the other day:  a picture of nine Clarence Thomases under the heading “The Ideal Supreme Court“:

Memes are often pithy statements of the Truth, and, boy, this one nails it.  Given the treacherous and boneheaded rulings from the Supreme Court this week—particularly from perennial traitor Chief Justice John Roberts, joined in one ruling with milquetoast toady Neil Gorsuch—we could do for a Court full of Clarence Thomases.  Such a Court would understand the Constitution and the role of the Supreme Court in relation to it better than any Court we’ve had since the 1920s.

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The Invasion and Alienation of the South

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the changing, dying rural communities I observed on a trip through western South Carolina.  You’re not supposed to say as much, but I don’t like that the culture and the world I grew up in are changing.  I’m not sure when it became taboo to say, “This is my home and these are my kin,” but apparently that’s no longer acceptable if you’re a conservative Christian in the American South, especially if you’re a white man.

Around the time I wrote that post, I stumbled upon two excellent posts from the Abbeville Institute that express that sentiment beautifully.  One, “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Leslie Alexander, is a poetic, heartbreaking glimpse at a personal sense of alienation:  the writer, a Louisiana native with deep roots, finds herself adrift in Dallas, a land that lacks not only has “no regional culture here—one of common language, mores and manners–there is not even an American one.”

The other, from Nicole Williams, is a more technical and historical dive into the emergence of the “New South,” the story of how an economically devastated postbellum region, in a search for economic opportunity, ultimately sold its culture and identity for a mess of pottage.  The title says it all:  “What Price Prosperity?

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TBT: Deportemal

The unintended theme this week has been back on immigration, particularly the kind that swamps small communities and results from one-sided tolerance.  Since I’ve already uncorked that bottle, I figured I’d like the wine flow with this week’s TBT feature.

This piece, dating back to late May of this year, was a full-throated screed against the manifold injustices of illegal immigration.  Few topics make my blood boil more:  the flagrant violation of the rule of law, the entitled attitude (“we have it tough, so we have a right to be here”), the two-tier system of justice—all are make my stomach turn.

So, here’s my prescription to cure our ills:  a healthy dose of “Deportemal“:

I have little patience for illegal immigrants.  Their illegality encourages ethnic cloistering.  Their very presence constitutes a persistent state of lawlessness, which seems to breed further criminality.

Then there’s the matter of the vast gulf between mainstream American culture and the virtually premodern peasant cultures from which most illegal migrants come.  Child rape is serious problem among men of certain Latin American cultures, as a recent piece from The Blaze demonstrates.  A twenty-year old illegal immigrant impregnated an eleven-year old.

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One-Way Cosmopolitanism

A major theme—perhaps clumsily conveyed—of yesterday’s post was that Americans should be able to keep their culture and local identity without shame.  As I noted, struggling rural communities are particularly susceptible to being swept away by large-scale immigration, legal or otherwise.  Thus, we see small South Carolina towns gradually hispanicize, turning into little replicas of various Latin American cultures, rather than the old Southern culture that predominated.

One often hears that Americans should be tolerant and open-minded to other cultures, and to extend maximum understanding and patience.  That is a generous and worthy view:  I don’t expect the Chinese foreign exchange students at our school to speak accent-less English and understand liberty their first day off the plane.  In that instance, we go out of our way to attempt to understand the cultural background from which those students came.

It’s another matter, though, when it involves the permanent or long-term relocation of foreign aliens to our land.  Remember the expression, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do?”  That rule always seems to apply to Americans—who are routinely criticized for being uncouth abroad—but never to any other ethnic group, and especially not to cultures outside of the West.

It’s an enduring frustration of mine:  one-way cosmopolitanism.

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The Hispanization of Rural America

This weekend I drove through some very rural parts of western South Carolina to check out some small-town festivals (Subscribe Star subscribers will get the full story this Saturday, and read my ode to candy apples, which this same trip also inspired).  My route took me north from Aiken through Ridge Spring, South Carolina, then up through Chappells and Saluda to Clinton, located on the cusp of the Upstate.  Then it was a 90-minute drive back south through Saluda, Chappells, and Johnston on the way back to Aiken.

Most of this section of South Carolina is farmland, dotted with small towns or unincorporated communities.  Some of these towns were once thriving little railroad junctions, or the communities of prosperous farmers or textile mills.

Now, they often feature quaint but dilapidated downtowns (often full of barber shops and wig stores, but plenty of boarded-up windows), a few stately old homes, and a great deal of poverty.

What I noticed on this most recent trip, however, was the clear uptick in Hispanic residents and businesses.

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