Transcript of EP 230 – James Lindsay on a National Divorce

The following is a rough transcript which has not been revised by The Jim Rutt Show or James Lindsay. Please check with us before using any quotations from this transcript. Thank you.

Jim: Today’s guest is James Lindsay, mathematician, free thinker, skeptic, Southerner, author, and independent thinker. He has written multiple books spanning a range of subjects including religion, the philosophy of science, and postmodern theory. He’s the co-founder of the website and stream of informational artifacts called New Discourses. You can learn more about James and New Discourses at He’s also got a fairly raucous Twitter stream, @ConceptualJames, which I have followed for a long time, both informative and humorous. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not so intentionally. Welcome back to The Jim Rutt Show, James Lindsay.

James: Yeah. Thank you, Jim. It’s good to see you again.

Jim: Yeah, it is. It’s great. James is a returning guest. Back in episode 73, James came on to talk about his book, Cynical Theories, a book he co-authored with Helen Pluckrose. It’s actually one of our more popular episodes. So if you’re interested in checking out some of James’ earlier work, check that one out. Today, we’re going to talk about his relatively recent essay on New Discourses titled National Divorce is National Suicide. So, let’s start. What is this national divorce possibility that we’re going to be talking about?

James: Well, it actually refers to a little bit of a range or as the kids say these days, a spectrum of possibilities, but the idea is, in essence, that the United States would, in some way, intentionally, split apart and no longer be a unified nation of the 50 states that we have. How they would split is a matter of some debate. Maybe it’s just one state like Texas goes rogue and splits off. Maybe it’s a number of them go together forming some kind of a new… I don’t want to call it a confederation of states because that obviously carries rhetorical implications that are maybe more than need to be there. Maybe some of the states split in pieces such as you see sometimes these Pacific Coast states like Oregon and Washington. The eastern halves of them have talked about splitting off from their metropolitan dense Seattle, Portland-ruled, Left Coast nonsense, and maybe joining either Idaho or whatever. Maybe they could split off from their respective states.

So what it means in general though is somehow intentionally saying, “Look, there are conservatives and normal people throughout this country. They are primarily located in rural areas, and there are leftist wingbats, and they’re supporters and enablers primarily located in cities that roughly split into these red state, blue state things, and maybe we just can’t live together under one set of laws any longer, and it’s time for us to undergo the process of divorce,” which, in my opinion, feels like a very Gen X solution to a problem.

Jim: All right. I did a little research to figure out if I could find the history of the ideas they like to say. The earliest thing I could find was a book called National Divorce: The Peaceful Solution to Irreconcilable Differences by Thomas J. Woods in August 2022. Then, I saw it break out into higher spectrum media with Marjorie Taylor Greene in February 2023. Does that correspond to your sense of the recent, at least, history of the idea?

James: Yeah. I feel like it is a very recent idea. It probably, of course, was fomenting online for some months or years before that. I have a sense that more or less, since the 2020 election, there’s been this drive on the conservative side of the aisle to split apart from the Democrat-controlled parts of the country that they feel are engaged in, basically, utterly intolerable behaviors, which it might be two-tiered justice system. It might be some of the identity politics, whether in race, and sex, and gender, especially that where it comes with children or it be other issues: Environmentalism, regulation on business, ESG requirements, and all of these different things.

Jim: I’ll point out I’m a fairly heterodox person. I hang out with people from far-left to far-right to people you can’t put where they are on the spectrum, and I can tell you that in some far-left or relatively far-left communities, the idea has also occurred and has been for the same two, or three, or four years. Of course, they’ll often talk about expelling those bad red people, right? There’s at least some libido across the spectrum. Though you’re probably right that this exact moment, it may well be more on the right than the left. I actually sometimes advocate for a version of this, and as I’ve said in the email inquiry I sent you to see if we could do this podcast, I am though not of a deep conviction one way or the other. So I’m actually looking forward to this conversation to see where I end up landing. Yeah. I think as I said, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’m in favor. On Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, I’m opposed, and on Sunday, I drink.

James: Yeah. Well.

Jim: So I don’t come to this with a firm view one way or the other, and just to be clear, for simplicity’s sake, you are very clear about this in the essay. You have decided not to get into the nuance on, “Is it one state? Does Texas secede, or is it five independent mini republics versus one Russia, big northern tier thing, or what?” So we’re going to, basically, be talking relatively generically about any such split. Is that correct?

James: Yeah, that’s fair to say. There are a lot of shapes that it could take, and there are the possibilities. There are even maps people have drawn of the different philosophical or political contiguous or semi-contiguous regions of the country so that it could split into as many as four, or five, or six states. It could just be a state seceding. It could be Texas goes and 22 others go with it. My purposes for the essay that I think that this prospect is a suicide mission for the people that undertake it, it doesn’t matter which one of those things happen. I think that you end up in the same conclusion space no matter which of those approaches is undertaken.

Just to your comment that the left wing is also saying this. You know what it feels like? Honestly, it feels like I’m going to move to Canada if I don’t get my political way, but knowing that nobody can move to Canada because Trudeau sucks so bad that nobody wants to go there, so they have to say, “No one wants to go to Mexico. Nobody wants to go to Canada, so where do they going to move to? Well, we’ll just have a divorce.” Like I said in a few minutes ago, it’s the most Generation X solution to a problem I’ve ever run into.

Jim: I will push back a little bit because I do think that the nature of the split does have very different attributes and affordances. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday when I’m in favor of the idea, lightly held, of course, I envision something like 10 or 15 states ranging in size from 10 million maybe at the low end to 50 million at the high end, but no Russia, no pace way bigger than anybody else, and I see those 10, let’s call it 10 new polities exploring the high dimensional space of civilization design and that that would be good, right? Let’s imagine. We could have a group of ultra red, culturally repressive, they’re just state-driven economies, et cetera. Fascism, plus or minus, right?

You could have wackadoodle Portland and its neighborhood drifting towards 1970s European socialism. You could have hardcore libertarians probably in Texas, maybe the eastern parts of New Mexico, and in parts of most Oklahoma, and then you could have bland WEF, World Economic Forum, bland land in the northeast parts of the United States, for instance. Who the hell knows which of those is the right way to run a society in 2024? Wouldn’t it be interesting to see the experiment run in parallel of these different people formulating how they want to live together? See which one works better, and I think that it’s quite different than a binary split, right? For sure.

James: Sure.

Jim: Which is also quite different than one or two states seceding or trying to secede. For today’s discussion, we’re going to eliminate all those differences. I do think that they are quite, quite different. The other thing I just want to put on the table, which is in the modern world, small states are quite viable, right? Republic of Georgia, 3.7 million. Estonia, 1.3 million. Slovakia, 5.4 million, and the Czech Republic, 10 million. So when they were in the same bed, it was 15 million, not very big, 20th the size of the United States, and even they decided that their breadth annoyed each other, and so they peacefully split Sweden. One of the hallmarks of high civilization by many measures, 10 million. Netherlands, 17 million.

Put that in context of American states. Texas, 29 million. A lot bigger than any of them. Virginia, 8 million, where I live. How big is Tennessee, your state? 7 million people. So you’re bigger than Slovakia, a bit smaller than the Czech Republic. So, in principle at least, if we look at other countries around the world, yeah, 10 million, 8 million, 7 million person company works. Though, of course, you’d also have to have broad… In my vision of it, I do have the broader concept that there’s a NATO plus EU type agreement amongst most or hopefully all of the participants. But anyway, let’s move on from there.

The other thing I looked up was where’s the American people at around this idea, and I found an Axios-Ipsos poll that was done on the question. The share of Americans who say they support the following scenario by party ID, a national divorce where Republican-leading states form a separate country from democratic-leaning states. This was in March 10th, 2023, so almost exactly a year ago. 16% of Democrats were in favor, 25% of Republicans, and 20% of independents. So it’s certainly an idea that’s in the air.

James: It is an idea that’s in the air, and I find that to be extremely concerning even given the possibility of these different experiments that could be run. I’m glad that you acknowledged that you have the background assumption of a NATO type compact amongst these entities or that most, if not all of them, would be part of because I don’t think that that’s actually the background conditions. Much of what I put forth in this essay as we go to explore why I think it’s a national suicide mission takes into account the background that I don’t think that that would be the circumstance and the broader global background that the remaining superpower in the world would be China which is a hostile communist state. I don’t think it’s nearly as friendly as it puts forth while being checked by American power. So those assumptions are things that I think, yeah, have to get on the table as well. But further, I want to also point out that I’m not necessarily opposed to a national divorce in principle, just I’m opposed to a national divorce in the United States, in particular, at this time. For example, there is a discussion in Belgium, believe it or not…

Jim: Well aware of that.

James: … of having a national divorce there between the Flemish in the North and the Walloon Region in the South which… Northern is far more Dutch, southern is far more French, and northern is two-thirds or maybe three quarters leans strongly conservative. Southern leans strongly socialist. They somehow manage to be one country that equals each other out in the parliament or whatever, and it’s just this fractious thing. But the circumstances for, I think, a state like Belgium, which on the one hand is geographically organized in a way that would be easy to split and far more importantly, not exactly a world superpower or different than the conditions we find in the United States, which is why I think it’s a suicide for the American experiment, and the people they’re in, and in fact, I think for much of the world for the United States to undergo a divorce, particularly at this time, whereas… I’m not opposed to the concept. I actually am at least vaguely in favor. I may be like you, but I favor it four or five days a week that Belgium might split along the Flanders versus Walloon line.

Jim: Yeah. I’ve talked to some Belgians about it, and I haven’t talked to one yet who doesn’t think the split is a good idea.

James: Yeah, that’s also how I’ve encountered.

Jim: Yeah. They all say, “Oh, those goddamn Walloons, those goddamn Flems. Rah, rah, rah.” Of course, the classic Freudian narcissism of small differences like the Northern Irish, the Southern Irish, the Palestinians, and the Israelis, et cetera. It doesn’t take a lot to get humans to hate each other, unfortunately. So, suicide mission, but you start out the essay as you should, I was glad you did, which is steelmanning the argument for the other side. So why don’t you lay out what is the Marjorie Taylor Greene case? What is the steelman argument for the national divorce?

James: It’s pretty simple. It’s that our politics have become intractable. So there’s two arguments. One is that we could get out of each other’s way, the classic divorce argument. We are a dysfunctional couple in some sense. We’ll say left and right in this country. We don’t get along. We don’t have a shared vision for the future. We’re not making it work under one roof or within one set of national borders so to speak. Therefore and in particular, the southern border being a major issue in that department. So if we were to split since we don’t agree, each part could go its own way. It could take under its own vision, its own management, and everybody could stop being at each other’s throats. We could massively bring down the polarization by allowing each of the two political entities to go in the direction that it wishes to go and stop trying to force it under one dysfunctional roof.

So that’s the classic divorce argument. The second argument is one that sees the situation as far more dire, which many of the proponents of national divorce do. They think in not so many words that the Constitution and the American experiment is a failed experiment, that things have already gone too far awry, and in a sense, what would be afforded by a national divorce is for what I call in the essay the red team or eventually, red state to be able to circle its wagons, organize, not only afford its citizens the ability to live the lives that they want to live under political arrangement that they desire, which is the whole consent of the governed declaration of independence thing, but furthermore, to rally to their own national defense, whether that’s from border invasion, whether that’s from hostilities, from external forces, be those China, be those the former blue state, be those United Nations forces, or whatever else.

But if this is the big bid to have a revolution against the United States, a communist revolution, for example, of some form or another and this new model that they’re using, then it gives the people who don’t want that, the ability to actually organize, and develop, and consolidate their power to be able to fight back against that. It’s therefore an answer from the United States, “There’s nowhere to run, so let’s create a place where we can at least circle the wagons and hole up for a maybe Custer’s last stand kind of fight if that’s what it’s coming to.”

So those are the two primary arguments for national divorce, and certainly, if such a thing were able to be affected peaceably, it would be the case that both of those circumstances would be more tenable than they are under very divided United States. For example, many of the people who are concerned with this don’t like the politics that we see coming out of Washington DC and the Biden administration where they could organize and live their lives under politics very different from those which they think would be more amenable to their ways of life, their pursuit of enterprise, and so on. That’s almost without doubt, supposing these things could get off the ground.

On the other hand, a second example, many of these same people don’t trust the United States military under the direction of its current leadership and would very much like to have a military they can trust for their own national defense, whether that’s against enemies, foreign or domestic, as it were. So there’s a lot of plausibility to the case that they make that we would find ourselves in better circumstances from what they think is happening around them and in the world politically and in a militaristic sense should we undergo a divorce.

Jim: Yep. That sounds well-stated. I’ve got a third one. It’s a little bit of a subtle interpolation amongst and around them is some of the circles I hang out in, we’re constantly pinging each other with events that occur. We say, “What’s the probability this one will cause the Civil War II?” We’re all complexitarians who believe the future is not directly predictable, but we can talk about ensembles of trajectories, and one trajectory that we see as quite plausible is a Civil War II, and it won’t actually be a clean North versus South, as you point out. The real divide is rural versus urban with ex-urban going one way and suburban. Very complex, messy, more of a Lebanon type situation than a US civil war situation. So whenever something weird happens, we say, “Oh, what do we think the chances of this are?” and we’ll say, “0.1% or 1.3%.” It’s a little game we play. So I would suggest one potential benefit from a no-fault, peaceable, fair divorce, assuming all those things are possible, which I know you don’t believe, would be to reduce the chances of a Lebanon style state of really bad civil war of all against all. So I think that’s a pretty important one to put on the table.

James: It should be, by the way, because the World Economic Forum, for example, specifically says that one of their predictions as they call them for the world is an all-against-all, messy civil war not in the United States, but in every nation or virtually, every nation. So that’s important to have on the table. Yeah.

Jim: I mean, that could happen because this polarization is not just in the United States. It’s everywhere. I got friends in Canada, a lot of friends in Canada. I have helped build two companies in Canada. I worked for the second-largest company in Canada for six and a half years, used to have a cottage on a lake in Ontario. I know a lot of Canadians, and there are a lot of right wing Canadians. If they had a Second Amendment, they’d be gunning up, let me tell you, because Trudeau has gone way farther down the tyrannical road than anything we’ve ever seen in the United States at least since World War II. So the polarization is not just a United States phenomenon. It’s probably across the whole… Look at France. Polarization going there, et cetera.

Then, the other… This isn’t really at the same level as these three, but when I’ve talked to people about this, I sometimes use the following analogy. Think of Alabama and California as the equivalent of two heirs to some family asset that was left in a will. “Okay, you kids. You guys all own the farm jointly.” Right? That’s Alabama and California both having senators in the Congress, both having two senators, and they just annoy the fuck out of each other. They veto each other’s desires and running the farm is fucking impossible with all four siblings, two of whom are Alabama and California. Wouldn’t it be simpler just to divide the farm up into four pieces and everybody could do what the hell it is they want to do?

James: Well, yeah, that’s certainly a point, and I think that that is the mentality of the majority of the people that have this. Not to get too biblical, but there is that piece with Solomon dealing with it. It depends on the thing that we’re cutting up. Are we cutting up a farm, or are we cutting up something more essential like a baby?

Jim: A baby.

James: Yeah.

Jim: Just before we move on to why this is such a bad idea, I just want to point out some of the real divides and how strong they are. I just looked it up this morning. As of this morning, 27 US states have constitutional carry. Meaning, you can carry a concealed pistol without a permit. I strongly suspect, because I know a bunch of these folks, the coastal blues have no idea this is so pervasive. If it was, they would be afraid to travel probably. If most of the coastal blues had their way, the amount of gun control would go up. I mean, you can’t get any more anti-gun control than constitutional carry. I mean, frankly, I’m amazed it’s come on so fast, but it is 27 states majority versus gun-grabbers in the far west in the… as you say, far west, west of the mountain ranges. I mean, the people east of the mountain ranges, they’re fucking rednecks. I mean, big time, right?

James: Oh, yeah.

Jim: Where the population density is, they’d love to grab guns. They do in fact ban assault weapons to the Green Lake, and they do make it almost impossible to get a concealed carry permit. Though, finally, that nonsense has been defeated by the Supreme Court, so that’s a huge thing. Abortion is another one. Now, this is interesting. This also speaks to just how fucked up our politics is. As it turns out, I’m both a gun rights man and an abortion rights man. Call me an old-fashioned liberal, 19th century liberal. “Goddammit, government. Why the hell you telling me what to do with my body or my peace? Either one is bullshit.” But that said, the country is also highly divided on abortion in ways that partially overlap with the gun thing.

Interestingly, Kentucky voted in a constitutional amendment to guarantee the right of abortion. So, Kentucky, which is a very strong gun state, I used to live in Kentucky in Lexington, it’s an abortion rights state. Kansas also turns out to be an abortion rights state. But anyway, those two are really strong dividers, and some data I just looked up about the Big Sort, which we’ll talk about in a moment. I looked in my own county, Highland County, Virginia. Very rural. In 2012, it went 65% for Romney, 35% for Obama. It went 71% for Trump. So, just eight years later, it shifted a bunch, and you got to say Trump was a much more questionable candidate than Romney. In my own precinct, it was 72% for Romney in 2012, 86% for Trump in 2020. Not only was the divide big, but it’s getting sharper, faster. Let’s turn now to the concept of the Big Sort as you called it, divorce light.

James: Yeah, divorce light. So the Big Sort could be a precursor to the divorce essentially through the forming a bubble, an ideological bubble, an echo chamber. People who share values start naturally voting with their feet. As it said, they move to the places where other people share their values are. Certainly, as a Tennessean, we’ve received a very large number of conservative Californians, and I’ve seen that Idaho has become effectively overrun by conservative Californians who think that they know how to run Idaho better than Idahoans because they know what it means to be a conservative apparently, having come from a borderline communist state, and this is a thing that’s happening all over the place. We’re seeing this sort where people are… The meme on the internet has been move out of cities for your own safety, especially these deep blue cities with Soros, DAs, and crooked democratic mayors or whatever else.

So you have this rural and urban divide increasing. That’s actually the technical definition of the thing that was called the Big Sort in the first place by a man named Richard Florida, an urban planner. Just to be forthright, utter globalist, total loon, but he wrote a book called The Great Reset as an answer to the Big Sort. The term came from Bill Bishop a year earlier than that in a book called The Big Sort. Bill Bishop is not a globalist idiot from what I understand. He’s just trying to describe a situation, and it was this urban-rural divide in this movement from state to state so that the politics, as you were pointing out, the proportions of who supports, say, Republican or Democrat, Trump or I guess Biden, Obama, whatever, those proportions in locales are increasing rather than decreasing. So the population is sorting itself according to its political and moral views which Bishop outlines in the book creates an increase in instability in the polity. It creates more political enmity rather than solving political enmity that eventually finds its solutions in bad places. The best of which is an amicable divorce. Hence, me calling it divorce light.

As I said, the next year, so Bishop’s book was in ’08. In ’09, Richard Florida proposes his solution to both the banking crisis of the era, but also to this sorting of the population and what he calls a great reset. A great reset in how we organize our communities, how we live our lives, and it’s the intellectual precursor to the things we call 15-minute cities or smart cities today in a very real sense as a new plan of urban planning. So I brought that up in the essay particularly, first, to talk about the Big Sort and its relevance to increasing polarization rather than decreasing it, and secondly, to point out that at least one proposed solution to that problem bears the name that all the scary World Economic Forum guys have been using, which is the great reset, which I’m sure they borrowed from Richard Florida because there’s an awful lot of borrowing in that side of the intellectual world. If we look at Harvard, for example, we see an awful lot of borrowing going on there.

Jim: I call that copy-paste actually.

James: Yeah, that’s right. Well, it turns out a lot of these guys that are at the World Economic Forum are Harvard man as well. So a lot of them were… Klaus Schwab, for example, is a Harvard man himself. So it’s an intellectual tradition along certain circles that we don’t find to be terribly respectable when it comes to light. But at any rate, I did want to connect to the reader that the idea is that if this political polarization gets great enough, national divorce ends up on the table, but one proposed solution to that is a great reset of how we organize our societies into a completely new social and political order bearing that name which has come to represent one of the maybe three or four big evils of our current time or big watch words of our current time.

Jim: All right. So, now, we’ve set the table. Now, let’s eat. Why is national divorce a disaster?

James: Well, it’s mostly because of the United States’ position as still the world’s leading superpower and the effectiveness of its constitution at preserving individual liberties. We just, of course, saw the Supreme Court make a big decision. I mean, it was an obvious decision about whether or not Trump could be on the ballot in Colorado, but that even went nine-zero. So our Supreme Court certainly as a constitutional entity is not wholly dead. It’s still alive. It’s still kicking. It’s still defending the Constitution to some degree, but the Constitution represents I think, as to paraphrase Ronald Reagan on this, and then to paraphrase Reagan paraphrasing Lincoln, the last best hope for individual liberties in the world.

I think that it is in fact stronger when more people are bound underneath it. So to fracture the United States at the very least will lead to two constitutions which probably will not say the same things. You can see that the left right now, for example, is very interested in changing the Constitution, and the right is even proposing amendments to the Constitution as well. Parental rights amendments, for example, not being enshrined in anything, except the 14th Amendment and judicial interpretation thereupon. So there are some concerns on both sides, so we can expect that we would see differences in the Constitution. The left really doesn’t like divided power so much right now as they’re calling in the wake of this decision about Colorado to say abolish the Supreme Court. They’re haranguing Justice Sotomayor as a conservative now. I think I saw the article earlier that said she’s an originalist now which on Sundays, we drink I think is what you said. What response to that is there?

Jim: I also like to say, “And they ask me why I drink.”

James: “And they ask me why I drink. Hank, why do you drink? To get drunk.” That’s the old country song. The constitution holding over a lot of people is I think extremely significant, but it’s the global context in which this would happen and the specific context in which the provocation is occurring from my perspective that I think that national divorce is a catastrophe in the making. The people that the conservatives want to divorce from, recognizing that this is desired to some degree on both sides, are not particularly content with having power over their own domains, or they would run their states into the ground and not worry about federal law so much. If they are what I think they are, which is I think motivated by Marxist ideology, there’s only one end point to Marxist ideology which is that everybody believes Marxist ideology or put more poignantly, everybody who’s still alive believes Marxist ideology. Nobody else is tolerated.

So I think that the media has given us a very clear indication as to how this would be treated. It would be immediately framed as Neo-Confederacy. It would be immediately framed as a rogue state that’s now splitting off from the United States to destabilize democracy and end of the world order, blah, blah, blah, the whole thing. Meanwhile, they’re going to point out that within whatever… It doesn’t matter. There is going to be geography to these new political entities, these new nations, and some of that, you have the United States government, we can assume, will stay on what we would call blue team as it’s blue team right now, and that’s what people want to get away from.

Then, you have the problem of United States military bases and United States nuclear installations located inside of what would be these red areas or other political entities. This is the exact circumstance that we saw in South Carolina during the Civil War, Fort Sumner. South Carolina has seceded. Fort Sumner remained a US naval base, I think naval, US military base off the coast of Charleston, there in Charleston Harbor, at the mouth of Charleston Harbor. This led to this intrinsic conflict that led to the shelling of Fort Sumner from Charleston Harbor and vice versa, which led Lincoln to declare war.

That means that when we look at something like Fort Hood or something, or any of these, the installation of nuclear weapons that’s near Amarillo or in any of these western states that are probably going to go on Team Red, the United States government on Team Blue is not going to give those up. In fact, they’re going to declare international emergency of their military installations being surrounded and their nuclear arsenals being also de facto captured. What we’re left with is a new order where there is this United Nations conglomerate working on that side plus China versus this thing or things that have split off from the United States that are identified as dangerous rogue actors that have potentially captured nuclear weapons that have to be quelled and put down at any cost. So what I think we see at that point is every stop being pulled in order to try to make that control get reestablished.

Jim: Yeah. I think that’s one possibility. I think there are plenty of others, right? It may well be that depends on who is in control of the national government at the time. It may be that Team Red takes the national government and expels Team Blue, right? If I were a red schemer, which I’m not, that’s what I’d do. I’d wait till we had all three branches of government, and then I would expel the other guys. Right? I’d keep all the military, but also point out that at least more modern precedent than the Civil War. By the way, this is just a point of weird information. I happen to know way too much about military history. Fort Sumner had a very ambiguous legal status. Seven of the coastal forts were defined by statute, though not by the constitution, to have the equivalent legal status of Washington DC. They were not part of the states in which they were in.

The union actually acquiesced the confederacy taking over all the other military bases, but other than those seven ports, they pointed to the statute and said, “These are not part of the state of South Carolina. This is solely federal territory with approximately the same status as Washington DC.” It was the army that was there because that’s how the… It was the army that managed the forts for coastal defense. So there’s a bunch of weirdness in that particular example. The South took over all the rest of the forts all through the south of the shipbuilding, places, everything else. Further, we have later examples. For instance, the breakup of the Soviet Union where the countries that had nuclear weapons kept them. Right? Ukraine had 1,200 nuclear weapons until they were bamboozled in the Budapest accords to give their weapons back to Russia and return for inviolable guarantees of security by the US, Britain, later France, and Russia. Yeah, and how useful that was. They should have kept their fucking nukes, right? Kazakhstan also had a bunch of nukes.

When Czechoslovakia broke up the Slovakia and the Czech Republic, they divided their military assets. When Yugoslavia broke up into a whole bunch of successor states, various regions grabbed the assets that were in their region. They had some very minor wars, won big war, and then the various factions kept their military assets. So anyways, lots of different ways this could go. You lay out one scenario where red secedes, blue interposes, does not allow the nuclear control codes to be passed over to the new holders because the holders aren’t going to give the nukes up. I can tell you that for damn sure, right? As we say, possession is 90% of the law. I don’t care how good they think their security is. I’d be very surprised if the technoids of Team Red don’t figure out how to hot wire the nukes pretty quickly. I would be very surprised if they weren’t able to do that. So anyway, your scenario is one scenario and a pretty dire one, but I don’t see historical precedent actually supporting it. It’s being very likely.

The other, and this is from your essay, that you imagine that… I’d say it’s an even split, an amoeba split. You’re happy. Everybody takes their shit. I do think you’re right that the two constitutions now start to evolve in different directions. I do think you’ll see some evolution on the Team Red constitution, directions you pointed to. That’s interesting when we talk about the constitution. I sometimes just say all the constitution really means is to intersperse some things in square brackets like we actually mean this or underline things, right, because in truth, we haven’t actually had the constitution since 1933.

We’re supposed to be, and it’s in writing, a limited government of enumerated powers, but that has not actually been the case for a damn long time. So I would expect the Team Red evolving constitution to move back more in that direction, even if only by interpretation that their Supreme Court won’t allow the elastic clause to be elasticized to include everything. They’re not going to allow the interstate commerce clause to ban what’s allowed in terms of gun sales in a state, for instance, without any change to the Constitution, just the change to the culture which it’s interpreted.

You actually said you expect their constitution to look more like Canada or California on the other side. I think that’s actually a clever way to phrase that. In fact, after I read that, I went and did a bunch of thinking and some research about, “Okay. What does it really mean for Team Blue or Country Blue to become like Canada?” Canada is not socialist country exactly in the same way that France is not exactly a socialist country nor is Sweden. It’s one of these mixed systems and not as quite as dire perhaps as some of the wording in your essay about them being this Marxist powerhouse. Again, I know lots of Canadians. I followed Canadian politics. It’s a divided country. It swings between right and left. Sweden. Good old Sweden. Call me fucking Sweden, which it never was actually. It was always very capitalist, but they have a right wing government currently. Right? So I think you perhaps overstated how far apart the red and blue entities might well be after a period of constitutional evolution. What do you think about that?

James: No. I mean, I’m still pretty well convinced that the desire for the divorce is so significant that they would actually drift pretty far apart. So I have to put my priors on the table here because everything that I’m saying only makes sense if these priors are there. For example, when you said that, I don’t think that there’s historical precedence for the very dire claims that I make in my military bases and nuclear weapons, and I do think that the right would figure out how to hot wire them. I also think we’d find out very quickly if Washington DC controls space lasers to stop them from hot wiring them.

Jim: They don’t. They don’t.

James: I’m just saying, but I think there would be an awfully big effort to prevent those weapons falling into the hands of what’s declared by the international messaging apparatus to be a rogue actor state with unclear intentions. The priors that we have to put on the tables. I don’t think that we’re in a historically precedented moment. I think that we actually are seeing genuinely a bid for a global takeover by a global conglomerate that is at least in cahoots with, if not spearheaded through the CCP, through communism. I think there were agreements made. In particular, I mentioned Harvard man. I mentioned Klaus Schwab. Well, Klaus Schwab’s mentor was Henry Kissinger, and Henry Kissinger was Harvard man who made agreements with Deng Xiaoping after Mao left power and helped build China into the model that it has today. It turns out that that model is virtually identical to what we see from the UN and the World Economic Forum in the sense of the ESG policies.

I think that this is an attempted silent takeover of the West, and I don’t think that it’s merely a Biden administration. I don’t know how deep the Deep State as it’s called goes, but I think that there is a concerted effort to bring the entire world into some kind of a new order that I think is some elaborate blend of neoliberalism, and fascism, and communism with a heavy emphasis on the last. We might call it productive socialism to spin one of their oxymoronic phrases about it because I think that that’s a term that has precedence in the 1960s and 1970 literature, Marxist literature specifically. So, in that situation, I think that the amount of white knuckling for power and the amount of outright propaganda to stop the, what we’re calling, red state from organizing itself and in particular, organizing military power is going to be far more outsized than historical precedent would suggest. I think there would be every effort to sanction, and limit, and if not, outright crush, and contain this red state.

Now, in the essay, I actually give a very paradoxical to your expectations picture to what would happen in red state and blue state if they separated. I think in fact that in red state, I present two possible options that I call the fast option and the slow option. The fast option is the international community says, “Oh, no.” Under the assumptions that I’ve just put on the table, they react overwhelmingly, and something very bad happens, and something like a last stand occurs, and maybe red state can prevail, but it’s not going to be pretty. On the other hand, the slow option, this is the paradoxical one. I think that what would actually happen is for a period of time, both sides, if we assume a binary split, an amoeba split, both sides of the divide would be given an awful lot of leeway to start to develop under the conditions of the world environment that they find themselves in and within themselves a few years at least, maybe a decade.

What you would see is that, I think, the sanctions, the international concern as it might get phrased would be very high. That would very much allow red state to grow, and develop, and consolidate its strength. However, not in exactly advantageous conditions, not exactly helping them out to do so. Meanwhile, I actually think that what we would see in the blue areas, blue state is very much what happened when Xi Jinping visited San Francisco. I think they’re going to clean up. They’re going to go smart city very quickly. They’re going to move into the so-called Brave New World or whatever they want to call it as quickly as possible, efficiently as possible, and to make it as nice as possible so that life is generally free but difficult in red state, but controlled and wonderful in blue state or as wonderful as they can actually manage.

I think that they’re mismanaging things. Many of the things that I think they mismanaged on purpose would no longer be mismanaged on purpose, and it would be up to whether or not they can scheme this out for a few years to make everything seem like it works really well. The goal being to draw off the population of red state in particular to do a brain drain and get them to move to blue state so that red state is further crippled. This is to be combined, of course, with the last big point that’s not on the table. I’m sure we were getting to it. Both of these states when they come into existence, but more poignantly, red state is going to be heavily infiltrated because the split isn’t geographic. It’s rural versus urban.

I had this conversation with Jesse Kelly the other day who’s a big proponent, actually, of national divorce, not because he thinks it’s a good idea. He thinks it’s a very bad idea, but he also thinks it’s inevitable, so we should figure out how to make it work. He’s in Texas, so I asked him, “How does the population of Texas break down? How many of the Texans are there that live in Dallas, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio, just to pick the four, I think, largest metropolitan areas, and what do their politics look like?” Because what you have is these massively dense cities in lots of otherwise sparsely populated areas that skew pretty heavily close to 50-50, and sometimes much more blue than that as we code it in our political maps.

So you have this problem that a subversive political ideology is already deeply embedded inside your new project, and I don’t think that they’re going to give up their ideological commitments and say, “Oh, I’m a Texan now.” We can’t even figure out how to expel illegal aliens at this point, and we’re supposed to figure out how to expel citizens who happen to be subversives that are embedded by the tens of thousands in the hearts, the capitals of what would be red state. It’s going to be a very intractable problem.

The blue state I don’t think is going to have a terribly hard time dealing with that problem because, sure, they’ll allow and encourage people maybe to move to red state, but they’re just going to impose a social credit system because they have no compunction against that. I think Canada would also, under these circumstances, impose a social credit system, and maybe you’d see the Albertans rise up. I work with the Albertans a lot, by the way, the Albertan. I love the Albertans. They’re the most inspiring people on this continent, in my opinion. Some of my favorite people but I don’t think it’s going to be amicable under any possibility because of the ideology that’s driving the desire for the split and the nature of how that split plays out.

I think, like I said though, that we’ll see a… It’s either going to be an immediate reaction by the international community in concert with the blue state, or it’s going to be a paradoxical situation where we watch blue state appear to thrive under a Chinese style model that becomes incredibly productive very quickly. By the way, all the power plants and things will get turned back on once they have their political will achieved. I think that this is an instrument of revolution to degrow our nation, not a permanent state of affairs. We see that with the Russians. The Soviets, I should say. They purged all of the bourgeois scientists, and then the minute they needed missiles, physics became the most important thing in Soviet Union basically overnight.

I think that the same kind of… We saw that with Mao as well, whatever this stage of the revolution needs. I think it’d be the same. I think that blue state with consolidated power would immediately turn the power back on. It would be a very Chinese style, very thriving kind of environment, and they’d hold out the olive leaf, “Hey, you want to come? You want to immigrate? All you got to do is sign up for the social credit system and move out of your red state. We have all this business opportunity. We have all this growth. We have all these things working, flourishing. Everything is great.” Sure, you’re free in Texas, but it’s hard, and I think that they would drift therefore because this is how… your question. I think that they would drift to different political environments far more dramatically and far more radically than merely California or Canada as they are at the moment, but more in the trajectory, I think, that they’re taking which, in my opinion, the end road for that is the system we see currently in China under some ideology or another.

Jim: Okay. Well, I would say I probably just have a different prior, as you’d say, which is I tend to believe don’t ascribe to malice which more easily ascribe to incompetence. So, as I mentioned, I do know lots of progressives, and they are way more fractious than the right historically has been. They famously produce circular firing squads and destroy each other, fight each other to the death over tiny little differences of interpretation. So I don’t think that California is intentionally fucking up their state. I think they’re just incompetent, and the nature of progressive politics leads to these bizarre tensions between the bleeding hearts on one hand and the pretend to be bleeding hearts, but really avaricious financially-driven people on the other, and you end up with something like San Francisco. So I am far less conspiratorial, I suspect, than that scenario that you laid out.

James: I think that is the key difference in our perspectives. I think I’m quite a bit more conspiratorial about the moment that we find ourselves in.

Jim: Yeah. I’ll throw this out here. Rutt’s heuristic for believability of conspiracy theories. Take the number of years in which it has lasted times the number of people who must know about it. If that number is above some figure of merit, so use 250, then it’s probably not true. Of course, it’s a heuristic. All heuristics are occasionally wrong, but it strikes me if the WEF was something more than a fancy talking club for neoliberalism, it would’ve gotten out by now.

James: My heuristic for conspiracy theories is did the Southern Poverty Law Center say it’s a conspiracy theory nobody should believe because that’s exactly what’s happened. If you haven’t read my profile on the Southern Poverty Law Center website, I encourage you to do so. It’s one of the best pieces of reading.

Jim: I’ll have to do that. I have followed them a little bit, and they used to be a good organization, but now they’re just nuts, right?

James: Yeah, they’re totally nuts. By the way, one of the things they criticize me for at the very beginning, just as a tangential point of humor, they criticized me for mocking George Floyd on January 6th. That’s one of the things that they’re most upset with me about which I laugh so hard every time I see that that I just have to share it every opportunity I get.

Jim: Yeah. I don’t even pay attention to them anymore other than, as you say, maybe as a counter-indicator. Whatever they say, it’s probably got 80% wrong. It’s probably an 80% chance it’s actually right. But now, let’s talk about this somehow, the conspiracy to fuck up California as reversed and make California the garden state that it was in 1965. Let’s grant it as a thought experiment, even though I doubt that it’s actually true. So I went and looked up, “What’s the difference in per capita income in the US and Canada?” As of 2022, it is big, bigger than it even used to be because US growth rates have been higher. Canada growth rates has been slower. Currently, US per capita, GDP, 76K. Canada, 55K. That’s huge, right? That’s about as big as the difference between incomes between Blacks and whites in America. A little bit less, not much.

I also then looked up how much immigration really happens, right? Remember, after 2026, half the far-lefties that we knew all were moving to Canada, right? Turns out the actual number of people that moved to Canada each year from the United States is 12,000. I probably heard of moving from Canada from 12,000 lefties, right? Obviously, none of them actually did it to my knowledge, so it’s a tiny number. The number that moved from Canada to the US is a lot larger as you might expect, the economic gradient and the weather gradient, but it’s still only 100K. It’s not a gigantic number. It’s a small fraction of 1% per year, and that’s with a very large GDP difference, huge, on the order of a third.

Yeah. There would be a GDP difference for a little while, but I might turn around and take the Hayek and Von Mises argument that even if Team Red is poorer on day one, which I’ll have to go through and total up the GDPs per state. I expect it probably would be because some of the red states are lower income, most of them. But if we actually believe our Austrian economics, Team Red ought to outcompete Team Blue over time by getting rid of lots of government regulations and nanny rails on… LLMs without nanny rails. There’s a concept, right? There’s so many ways that Team Red could actually fire up its engine and have a considerably higher growth rate than Team Blue.

James: No. I think that it would actually, at least in the long run, but I don’t predict a long run. I predict a short run. I think that Team Blue would have to put up a good show of it, again, a very Potemkin, Kabuki theater kind of show of a very productive society for a handful of years which they primarily could do just by spending down because I think they only have to make five or six years because the goal is actually to try to create conditions within some window of time to provoke the red team into doing something stupid in a word so that then there would be the justification for the international community to lock down on the rogue state. “Oh, we tried. We gave them their freedom. We tried to give them space to do what they did.”

Again, it’s a hallmark of this ideology that nothing that ever happens on the left is the left’s fault. It’s always the conservatives. It’s always the other side, the deplorables, the anti-vaxxers, the anti-maskers, the anti-something, the racists, the transphobes. It’s always somebody else’s fault. So I think that the goal would actually be to provoke conditions to where the red team believes that it has one and only one option which is to defend itself in some way or another that falls outside of the boundaries of tolerance. When they put the toe across the line, they use it as the justification to say that the red state is out of control, and then they justify what I called in the first place, the fast option.

I don’t think of this as a 20 or 30-year-long experiment. I actually think on the order of 5 to 10 years before, as they say, the shoe would be dropping. So, again, my priors are a lot more conspiratorial than yours. I do think actually and genuinely believe that we are in a global bid for tyranny right now, and that the global bid is not going, by the way, nearly as successfully as they’d hoped. That probably is due to large amounts of incompetence, bad ideology, over-optimistic predictions on how things would go, maybe just some straight bad hops of the ball. I don’t know where Omicron variant of COVID came from, but it certainly mucked up the drive to put us all in vaccine passports against this horrifying variant situation. It seems that biologically… I guess biologically is a little too strong of a word, but genomically, Omicron is somehow a little bit off the line of the other variants. It’s a mysterious origin to some degree, but it also derailed those plans. So there’s maybe just some bad hops of the ball.

Jim: The other thing I’d point out is the whole ideology of intersectionality inevitably leads to war of faction against faction against faction. I often say intersectionality eventually equals Lebanon. Right? So this is where the incompetence actually or the inability to execute consistently over time comes from because if you tell people that instead of being assimilation to one national ethos that we need to divide up into 74 factions of left-handed lesbians in wheelchairs and fat, redneck, old dudes in Virginia, and that that is who we are, goddamn it, and that they’re incommensurable, they can’t even understand each other because my lived experience defines my reality, that is not an ideology that produces a high-function civilization. So I’m not too worried about it, frankly, in that regard.

James: See, again, this is where I’m going to sound very conspiratorial, but my historical precedent is looking at Mao. I think that Mao Zedong is actually the origin point of the logic of intersectionality. A lot of people don’t know. We don’t have to diverge in… the tangent of talking about his identity politics model that he used with the so-called red classes of people and black classes of people, and pitting them against each other, but he, in effect, created not only a proto-critical race theory about Han racial identity to disrupt the nationalists versus the 55 or 56, whatever it is, other minority nationalities or races within China. So he had a proto-critical race theory, but he also had this weird communist intersectional identity politics model where the farmers and the landlords were on one side with the counter-revolutionaries, and the bad islands, and the right-wingers, and the revisionists, and all those guys. Then, the other side, you had the laborers and the peasants, and they were teamed up with the revolutionary cadres, and leadership, and intellectuals who stood for the people.

I don’t think that the point of intersectionality is, in fact, to make a system that works. I think it’s to force what I call the politics of compliance on the one hand with the group that is joining the revolutionary bands and that are under the token category such as laborers and peasants in China or the various racial, sexual minorities and so on here in the West. But the point is to cause division, and Mao’s big point again, and again, and again is different forces or different conditions are needed at different stages of the revolution. So, in the stage of breaking down the Kuomintang, he needed one thing, which is very fractious. But in the stage of building socialism, he needed something different which was a new unity under a new model.

So I don’t necessarily think… Now, this would be very interesting in practice. So I don’t think that we would see, if we have my paradoxical model proceeding, that Team Blue is going to remain so vigorously intersectional in its new model. That’s only going to get used to the degree that it’s actually useful. The reason that becomes spicy and interesting is they have a bunch of broken people who live by this now who are going to be operating within their polity who are not going to be very happy about it when it’s not bouncing their way anymore.

Jim: Exactly.

James: Mao, of course, as a historical figure, did not have a problem with this When the red guard whack achieved what he needed them to achieve.

Jim: Whack, whack.

James: That’s right, whack. He sent them off to the countryside to die or unleashed the PLA on them and just ended that problem. I don’t know that what we’re dealing with is that ruthless, and I don’t know how powerful a social credit system would be at overcoming that. We’re seeing a taste of it now, honestly where we’re watching the various Palestinian-branded struggle sessions against the Democratic Party being waged by the more radical activists, and we’re watching the Democratic Party not fully going along with this and appearing to not know what to do about it which is, in a way, endlessly entertaining. In another way, positively horrifying, but in the relevant way, somewhat instructive that I might be exaggerating the ability for blue state to be able to have its shit in order or manage its affairs in a way that creates the dire situation that I’m talking about.

Jim: That’s my belief, that the inherent contradictions… I’m actually getting much giggles out of how Hamas Israel is destroying the… or causing a huge fissure amongst the Democrats, but this happens all the time, right, because the problem with the far-left or the far-ish-left is they don’t treat politics as a pragmatic means to live a good life. For them, it’s a religion, right? There’s a brilliant book. I don’t know. I know you. If you haven’t read it, you could have written it, right? John McWhorter’s book about wokery as a new religion. Wonderful book. I recommend everybody to read that. In fact, I also recommend people read Kendi’s How to Be an Antiracist and DiAngelo’s White Fragility, and then to read McWhorter’s Wokery is Racism, and Shelby Steele’s White Guilt as the two antidotes. So then, you can actually see what we’re up against and what’s going on here.

See, I’m with McWhorter in that wokery has been so embedded, particularly into the Zoomers and the millennials. There ain’t no getting it out, right? The only thing you can do is take power out of their hands that if they have power, they’re going to be inherently fractious. They’ll become Lebanon. They have to. The logic of wokery is Lebanon, and so I’m much less concerned about the big bad blue conspiracy that’s going to get its shit together suddenly and stop tearing each other apart, and going to oppress everybody else, but, again, that’s just a different set of priors.

James: Yeah. Well, it is, and it depends on, again, how efficacious would a social credit system be at containing that problem, or conditioning it, or nudging it. I suspect that they think it would be far more powerful over radicalized Americans than it probably is because it is very efficacious over, not radicalized, but fully tamed Chinese. The reason is because Mao got rid of all of the radicalized people wholesale like he did. He just shipped them off to the countryside to go learn from the peasants in farming where they died in rather miserable deaths by the millions or tens of millions in some cases, maybe.

So that is an open question. I totally agree with you that I find this to be an interesting moment to watch, and I am deriving quite a bit of entertainment from watching how this… Maybe we call it a bad hop, I don’t know, of the ball, what happened on October 7th that has led to the left pointing its guns at one another for the first time in a number of years in a really meaningful way. It does color how well they could get their act together. I think the tool will be social credit. I don’t know how effective it will be. I also think in the long run, if there is the long run to have, that, certainly, red state would outcompete blue state, and what you would start to see is members of blue state wishing to come crawling back more than likely maybe. So the divorce wouldn’t be permanent, but these are all just possibilities.

As for it being, by the way, a new religion, I actually quibble with McWhorter just to throw it out there. It’s a very old religion. I’ve identified it, I think, pretty cleanly at this point as being the old gnostic heresies re-conceptualized in politics and society instead of in some spiritual transcendent realm. It’s theosophy. Karl Marx is no different than Deepak Chopra, and I fundamentally mean that. Maybe Deepak is more positive and heartwarming, and Karl is more… Literally, he wrote, “I’ve struck my deal with Satan.” So maybe there’s a little bit of a difference in temperament, but other than that, the theological architecture underneath is virtually identical.

Jim: All right. Well, let’s now turn to what your essay concludes which is let’s now just grant you all your arguments. They’re true, deem them to be true.

James: This is my favorite part of the interview.

Jim: Yes. Of course. Why not? Too bad I don’t have a bourbon here, but we can still have a drink, right? So deem all your arguments to be true, what should we do? What should those Americans who want a great future for this amazing experiment that’s been running since 1776, what should we do if we’re not going to divorce?

James: The first thing that people have really got to do if we’re not going to divorce is I think that you and I definitely would agree on this when you said that we haven’t had our constitution effectively since 1933. I think we could pick a lot of different dates. I have several friends who pick the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, and they blame Lincoln for all of our woes, but we could pick a number of dates at which we’ve departed from the original founding intent and the Declaration and Constitution Bill of Rights. So I think the first thing people that want to preserve this union need to do is start to get much more familiar with those.

I do think there is a massive educational problem in the United States regarding its founding documents and its founding purposes. It’s awareness of the intentions and aspirations of its founding fathers, stuff that we would have learned in a much more rigorous and engaged schooling system that hadn’t been corrupted with Howard Zinn and all those other anti-American nonsense that came from whether it’s cultural Marxism, or whether it came from American studies, or whatever they call them. So, this critical history.

I think that we need to find some time to look back to that. That’s, I think, very important and to advocate for that, but I think that the people, whether in what we would code now as red, purple, or blue states, and very much in particular, purple and blue states, need to be willing to take the fight to their state. I think it would be a tragedy whether initiated by left or right to see a star peeled off the flag, and it’s just one of the ways that I like to phrase it. So I would love to see what’s happening.

For example, I point out Garry Tan near the end of the essay in San Francisco. Granted Garry Tan isn’t like your average dude off the street. He created Y Combinator. He’s got a couple of dollars in his hands. He knows how to do a thing or two, but Garry Tan has basically started to wage a one-man war to take back San Francisco to sanity. San Francisco is still a hot mess, but he’s not done badly given the limitations on the fact that he’s a single human being, and he’s an inspirational story in that we see other people in California go up and down the state fighting. Erin Friday is just an attorney who’s picked up a battle to try to get the gender stuff on the ballot as a referendum item as opposed to letting the state legislature and Senator Scott Wiener determine these things any longer. That’s a valiant effort even if it doesn’t turn out to work.

I’ve seen the fight in Pennsylvania where it’s probably the ugliest. I’ve seen the fight in Connecticut where it’s probably the least likely to go anywhere, but I would love to see more encouragement of the people fighting in those states. Not to flee, but to stay and fight, and to try to turn their states back around, to bring them back to a more constitutionally-centered… You don’t have to have right wing politics by any stretch, but to have a basis back in the constitution and to see this initiative. I wanted to call it, such an initiative, A 50-Stars Project a long time ago, a couple of years ago, and I think that that’s a very valuable thing to do. I think that if we start running, we’re going to… If my priors are right, which we’ve now granted, so I’m just right, if we start running, we have to continue running to a smaller and smaller area until I feel like we find ourselves with very little space left to run. I’d rather turn and stand on the soil.

I tell people in States. I said it in Minnesota. I went up there. I went to George Floyd Square. I did did my tourism, but I went up there, and there’s a little town. I’m trying to think of what it’s called, but I forgot. It’s some little town just north of Minneapolis. It’s technically part of Minneapolis Metro, and they’re all proud. They just put up their little… No, it’s so Upper Midwest. They put up their sign for their town. It’s brand new on the highway, and it’s got the sign. It says the name of the city, and then right underneath it and all the letters say, “The place where we live. It’s Upper Midwest as a place could possibly be.”

I bring that up a lot because that’s the attitude that I want Americans to have. I want Californians… This is a place where we live. No, you don’t get to turn this into a dump. You don’t get to turn San Francisco into a raving shithole. We live here. I want to see that greater amount of purchase in the place where people live, a civic revival to where people want to see their own communities develop and thrive, but again, with a constitutional underpinning because I think that the Constitution frankly works when you have people who understand it and are willing to stand up for it.

Jim: I’m with you on fight in the belly of the beast. I’m engaged in a couple of what might seem quixotic battles. One of which is I’m one of the co-founders and the first president of the MIT Free Speech Alliance, which is part, and then one of… I passed it on to a younger generation of management after we got it stood up, and we now have an Alumni Free Speech Alliance which has dozens of chapters including at places like Harvard, right, which scores last on FIRE’s recent free speech thing.

James: They got negative points actually.

Jim: Ya. They have a new category.

James: They had to be given a zero because they got a negative 12 out of a hundred or something.

Jim: Yeah. They used to have four categories. They had to add a fifth. Fucking shit storm, right? I think they’re a little bit more politic than I, but anyway. Have we overturned the culture in MIT? No, but we did get the faculty to adopt a free speech code that’s about 90% as good as Chicago’s. We’ve got the Kalven Report at least on the table to be discussed. Right? It hasn’t been adopted, but to be discussed. Amazingly, in the job solicitation for the new head of… MIT produced some obfuscating new names. So they don’t call it DEI anymore. They got some other horseshit. But anyway, the person to be the head DEI person in the job call, they actually referenced the free speech statement and that all this stuff has to be done in the context of the free speech statement.

Holy shit. That’s just in three years. So it’s not anywhere near where Thomas Jefferson and James Madison would like it to be, but it’s a hell a lot better than it was. Even more importantly, it’s not moving in the wrong direction anymore. So take your point that if we can have courage and be willing to, wherever we find ourselves, make this our home and make it a better place, fight against nonsense, then there is hope. I mean, I’ve been saying for a while that I think peak woke was in 2021. I mean, woke is still very strong and still chops many heads, but the counter wave is building. It’s not as strong as it needs to be, but it’s building, and if we all keep working on it, there is still hope.

James: No. I agree with you. I think that peak woke, in a sense, has also already passed. ’21 might be the right date. I call it a zombie ideology at this point. Very few people, it’s not zero, but very few people, relatively speaking, support it at this point. A lot of people don’t even go along with it anymore. Think of the things that you can say here in Spring 2024 that were unthinkable to say out loud in a professional environment in 2021. We’ve come a long way, and like you said, they had to rebrand DEI because they’re on the run. I just saw in Forbes that the SEC is not going to require some weird environmental accounting, ESG bullshit, which is some work around because ESG is on the rocks. Larry Fink is trying to back off from ESG. Everybody is freaking out. All this crap is falling down.

We stopped their goofy ass proposal for what they called natural asset companies, which is probably the biggest environmental scam that’s ever been invented by humankind that was supposed to get voted on on the 18th of January, and they withdrew on the 16th because we put up such a fight. Really, we are genuinely moving in the right direction on a lot of this nonsense and putting resources into fighting these what seem like impossible battles, I think, is likely to be very fruitful.

On the transgender issue, for example, many states have passed these laws that say, “Well, you can’t cut up kids anymore. If you want to cut up an adult, that’s fine. They’re adults. Figure it out. But you can’t cut up kids. No more of this.” Of course, they’re suing, and the people that feel like they’re now being… having their so-called rights infringed are suing the states that have these laws. When these lawsuits come out, they invariably built themselves on the credentialism of the American Medical Association, Psychiatric Association, whatever, but also, in particular, WPATH, the World Professional Association of Transgender Health. That’s what WPATH is.

Now, we just see the other day, Michael Shellenberger releases the WPATH files showing that they knew that they were doing experimental medicine and telling the public that they were not doing experimental medicine on children who cannot possibly understand what they’re consenting to, and so WPATH is in big trouble. I’ve already heard from some people in some states that have these lawsuits on the table that the WPATH files are basically going to change the entire landscape for them to be able to fight these lawsuits. So we’re starting to see dominoes fall even in borderline communist Canada. Premier Danielle Smith fought back and has proposed policy that would prevent some of the more egregious abuses of the gender cult. So there are some very hopeful reasons to stand and turn where we are and say, “This is our home, and we’re going to make it a better place, absent this destructive nonsense.”

In particular, when we see big things like the DEI conglomerate, which is a multi-billion-dollar industry at this point, of basically grift, and when we see the ESG, which is the racketeering cartel that’s actually dragging the corporate world around and our government around in many cases hitting the rocks and maybe the ship is going to sink, these are big reasons for hope. So I would encourage people also that, say, are in these red states who say, “Well, what do I do?” First of all, you got to clean up your communities too. It’s in your kids’ schools as well, all this woke crap, so you got to work on that, but let’s work on trying to get your attorney general to pursue pathways of action, maybe antitrust stuff against some of this corporate collusion, or some of the banking collusion, or whatever else.

Google operates, and there’s an article just out after their Gemini debacle, their AI debacle that comes out and drawing… You can’t get it to draw white people, but you could say, “Draw me a picture of medieval kings eating watermelons,” and there’s a bunch of Black dudes eating watermelons. It looks like it was drawn during Jim Crow, and they’ve… $90 billion in shareholder value, they’ve lost over this in a few months. That’s a lot. These are pathways to action waiting to happen, and this article is… They’re outright admitting, employees of Google, that it operates like a monopoly.

Well, we have laws on the books to deal with that. People in these red states that are desperate to do something can very easily start to encourage these paths to action whether it’s through their attorney general, whether it’s through private or class action to start knocking these things down. “Hey, Dallas, Texas. Do you work for the Mavericks? Have you seen some of the stuff Mark Cuban very foolishly put on Twitter?” The EEOC chair did and said it was all illegal, so it looks like it’s time for a lawsuit. I think that we’re in a good position. I think we’re heading in the right direction.

Jim: That is pretty cool. I want to really thank you, James Lindsay, for an interesting conversation. Did it change my mind?

James: No.

Jim: Maybe. Maybe it did. I’m going to have to digest on this. Check out his essay, National Divorce is National Suicide. As always, the link to that essay and most everything else we mentioned in the podcast will be on the episode page at So, thank you again, James.

James: Thanks, Jim.

Jim: All right.