META-NOMAD

What Are You Waiting For?

As a culture, in fact, as a species, we have one clear obsession which we all share, the future. We’re absolutely obsessed with it, aesthetically, ideologically, politically, physically and – primarily – technologically. We can’t wait to see and use the latest car or latest phone, we’re enthralled with trailers for upcoming TV shows and movies, even the latest burger release warrants multiple prime-time advert slots, which is enough social proof to garner that we adore even the immediate future as opposed to any past or any present.

We like to think we’re no longer utopian, that we no longer lust after any of the – seemingly – archaic visions we did way back when, we believe we’ve gone beyond the World of Tomorrow ideals, but it doesn’t seem that way to me. The problem is the utopias we now subconsciously believe in are ones in which no change is enacted. There’s nothing different about new cars or new technologies, they’re simply previous technologies with aesthetic alterations. You could argue an electric car is something different, but ultimately it still runs on the same premise of an engine, fuel etc. It’s still reliant on a massive disruptive system of roads and networks which are ghastly to look at and dull to partake in.

We don’t want change, we just want the illusion of change. Aesthetic progression is apparently enough for us to not demand anything different, anything new. Except, even the aesthetic progressions of our ‘future’ aren’t anything new, if one is to look back at films made in the 60’s and 70’s which predict the future we have today, you’ll find that much of what is being built today is simply a creation of a past fantasy. Star Trek told us what phones and communication would be like, so that’s what we turned it into. Futuristic sci-fi films gave everything round edges and curved design styles, so that’s the way we’ve designed things. This is a shoddy example of hyperstition if there ever was one, those kitsch, lame ideas of what the past thought the future would be like, actually becoming the real future.

When you look at this from afar it becomes quite clear that we don’t really want change, the onboarding process for any drastic change is far too sharp. Everything is built and constructed from pre-defined parameters we’re all comfortable with. KFC have released a new burger which is a chicken burger between 2 donuts. It’s as if the whole thing has reached its end and no longer has anything left in the burner, we have a limited amount of options and our future is simply the reiteration of different mixtures of these items. Actual innovation, difference-in-itself…genius, is thrown out in favor of complacency and acceptability.

We’re focusing on the future to make sure it doesn’t stray too far from the present. Buddhists and Taoists have been telling us for years to be more present and to be mindful of the now, I don’t think they meant for us to stretch the general present as far as it will go until it breaks. In fact, this is the antithesis of ‘living in the present’. If your idea of living in the now is simply attempting to stretch the now on forever, you’ve missed the point. The ‘now’, the ‘present’, is ever-changing, it’s something you have to accept will change and alter whether you like it or not. Being mindful, being present is a way of being which is averse to ignorant ideas of control and authority. You can’t tame the river, but it seems like we’re trying really hard to.

Once again, the things of primary and secondary importance have switched places. We believe that regarding the future what’s going on physically is of the most importance, whether or not things appear new and progress continues in the stereotypical manner, these are what seem to be important and we’ve relegated our mental state to the sidelines. But we need to turn back to how we think about the future, how we feel about it, how we are going to act towards it. But also we need to revert to a more personable and local form of thinking, the way we think is global, hegemonic and downright authoritarian.

Our thoughts regarding the future are gargantuan; we’ve allowed the realm of abstraction to become so commonplace that the general public has an understanding of relatively niche subjects. We talk about global and national debt, dopamine fasts, min-maxed lifestyles and diets, foreign policy, meta-levels of society and behavioral psychology to name just a few, we’re mentally tied up with a bunch of abstract assessments, arrangements and arguments regarding the future that we have no say and no real feelings about. Whereas we should be targeting our energy and our analysis to that which can directly effect: ourselves and our immediate surroundings. (There are of course the Musks, Gates and Thiels of this world, but they’re rare, not everyone can be a genius or a multi-millionaire entrepreneur, that’s not how things work.)

Begin to ask yourself ‘Is this actually how I want my future to look?’ Well, is it? Did you ever agree to this consensus, that this is how the future has to be?  The general consensus is that the future has to be futuristic, and yet, the word ‘futuristic’ already has inherent connotations relating to technology, social arrangements and speed. When you hear ‘futuristic’ you think of Neuromancer or Blade Runner, you think of the information and attention economy running wild and immanentizing themselves into a cyberpunk aesthetic. But is that even close to the future most people are going to get? I don’t think so, I think most people’s future is one of complacency and acceptance, complacent in the fact that nothing will change in its essence, and acceptant of the comfortableness of stagnancy.

Your ‘futuristic’, your future can mean whatever you want it to mean, it can feel how you want it to feel. Within the general consensus of the term ‘futuristic’ there’s no space for leisurely strolls through the woods, day-dreaming or taking-your-time, but there can be, if you simply alter your perception. Are you simply waiting for what is going to be given to you? Are you simply waiting for whatever happens to become your future, or are you actively creating the future you want, both personally and locally?


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Boomers, Millennials and the Sovereign Individual

The Boomer, with their minds that seemingly crave work for its own sake, determine whether one is successful by what they own and determine whether one is authoritative and in control by the amount of awards and letters next to their name; the boomer, in short, is completely controlled by bureaucratic abstraction, the niceties which they developed to prove to themselves that they were doing ok and that everything they were doing was good, proper and correct.

Except, such things as goodness, properness and correctness aren’t universal or cosmic, they’re developed under the systematic control of some culture or other, whether or not those morals and etiquettes are agreeable to you isn’t entirely your choice…until you really start to question your absolute base assumptions.

As to why the boomer generation are as they are, I simply don’t know, but this essay isn’t about dunking on the boomer generation, it’s about questioning the notion of the ‘boomer’ and where it comes from. I briefly defined the boomer generation in the opening paragraph, a generation which adores control, authority and status whether they believe it or not and a generation which adores material comforts over anything else and can only understand much of the world via some form of materiality. They’re often called out for their incessant desire to be awarded, their incapacity for empathy, their mindless consumption and their status grabbing games, and yet, if you look at these things one-by-one, you’ll notice that no generation has ever really differed, has it?

Many millenials will berate the boomer generation for needing countless objects, things and trinkets as a means to fulfill their desires and their life, and yet, the millennial generation is ignorant to their own abstract-material worship. The boomer’s clarity of purchase (cars, houses, handbags etc.) makes them easy targets for the label of ‘mindless consumer’, but at least they’re only consuming a clear material end as opposed to a lengthy identity. Where the boomer consumes the object as the desire in itself, the millennial consumes what the object represents and assimilates it into their identity. Say what you like about the boomers who proclaim ‘I drive a Porsche!’ it seems clear to me that they see it as an externality as opposed to extension of their self.

People will now be calling me out for muddling up desire, getting it all wrong. Post-structuralists and post-modernists will be up-in-arms, ‘These acts of consumption signify the desire-structure!’ Yes they do. Everyone desires and what everyone desires is relatively empty, fleeting and changing, you can’t get a hold on desire as much as you can get a hold on what the object of desire represents.

The boomer desires the status handed to them by a large corporate event, the millennial desires the status handed to them via countless likes and retweets on a post-ironic meme; the boomer desires an accountable award for each course they undertake, the millennial desires to know they’ve completed X amount of TV series etc. The list goes on, each has its counter…and why is that?

It’s because there’s no such thing as generations. Or at least, there’s no inherently verifiable difference between generations except on an aesthetic level, which is to say, there’s no difference of essence. In Rome there are written complaints about teenagers joy riding in their chariots, the Victorians rallied against the new classical music liked by the youth, people went crazy over the thought of a car hitting 30mph, each war has had its anti-war demonstration, each king his jester, each generation has had its ‘We’re the best generation and here’s why’ essay and each generation has had an essay just like this one, explaining why there’s no such thing as a greatest or worst generation, because generations are made up of individuals, movements, leaders, companies, events and catastrophes.

Generational thinking is for those who believe generations exist, those who believe that things can be neatly summed up into chunks and explained in comparative and binary manners, namely, the herd. Outside of the sleeping herd are individuals and individuals like to think. The notion of the sovereign individual isn’t one that’s really sympathized with anymore. Many people believe it to be a Randian notion or a pro-capitalist notion, the idea of the entrepreneurial thinker who’s out only for himself. In reality the sovereign individual is someone who simply doesn’t get caught up in the form of thinking which has one believing in generations, or catch-all isms and universals.

Being an individual is hard work, especially in a world and society that doesn’t respect such an idea. There’s a certain amount of scorn targeted at those who would rather go it alone and do all the work themselves, it’s seen as not-sharing, as opposed to self-improvement. It’s also difficult to be a sovereign individual because everywhere you turn is another torrent attempting to drag you into its binary, collective and complacent ways of thinking, the ones which wish to atomize your thought into a multitude of pithy currents which can never adhere to a whole, a collective that wishes not for you to use yourself, but to use you as its own collective-self. A thousand institutions that structurally cannot work without the formal notion of collective, group and communal action being agreed as good prior to undertaking any work.

When I hear ‘boomer’ or ‘millennial’ all I hear is laziness, ignorance and resentment. It’s a form of language used by those who are content with the top layer of thought, the easy route. They don’t want to try understand people, ideas or vectors of energy, nor do they want to ask why, how, who or any question at all, they are complacent with confinement. They don’t want to understand, they want simply to know, and their definition knowledge consists of collective blocks being placed together neatly. Knowledge isn’t something that can be owned, only worked with and understood. To own knowledge is to end thinking, is to stop the journey and accept conclusions and truth. Once you’ve accepted a truth, you’re already latched to a one way track heading straight towards intellectual death.


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Identification and Normalcy

“Knowing many stories is wisdom. Knowing no stories is ignorance. Knowing only one story is death.” – Knowing Only One Story, John Michael Greer.

When I started Hermitix one the major things I wanted to achieve was to have such an eclectic array of guests that as many stories as possible were heard. I’d seen multiple left-wing podcasts, a few right-wing ones and a lot of ‘hot-take’ podcasts. These all bored me, why you ask? The answer is simple; they all only knew one story. Their entire world view could be filtered through a single lens. Often these lenses take odd and unexpected forms. Some people funnel their entire existence through Marxism, others Kant, but then again, some people will find the meaning of everything to be in the study of UFOs or microbiology. Sometimes it’s always chemicals, other times it’s always spirits or outside forces. The point being – as Greer states quite clearly – that viewing life this way is death. Not a literal death, but an intellectual one.

We all have that one friend who can find a way to fit whatever it is you’re talking about into their latest interest or phase, what they don’t realize however is that we live in a world of communication, production and consumption.  Everything communicates, whether parasitically as an invader, as amicably as a gesture. Certain things are antagonizing others and certain things are helping others. Sometimes X will produce Y, sometimes Y will consume Z, and on and on it goes.

The problem with a single story is that it is always going to be utopian, it’s a false limitation applied over various growing and decaying structures, which unfortunately for Hegel, can’t be constrained in such a manner. Once again there are constraints, but this time, instead of constraining your general freedom, they’re constraining your freedom of common sense, they are making you believe that everything makes sense within a single framework. Whereas the only framework which can intuit the whole is one which is ever-changing, dynamic and fluid.  So then we have this singular representation of reality which we abide by and try to form all things to fit, such a way of thinking is purely identification.

Identification and consciousness (pure awareness) are opposites of each other, you can’t identify and continue to be conscious of yourself, it’s simply not possible. When you believe you desire a certain food you’re identifying with something, possibly with some advert which has ahold of your will. When you identify with a character from a TV show, you’re identifying with a box-of-tropes made for your consumption; someone else’s idea of what it is you should be.  Your experience of these singular stories isn’t meant to include your consciousness of your engaging with them, they are the master and you are the slave. But it’s not the story itself which acts as master, but the authority you allow it.

Think of identification as a form of fascination or subtle hypnosis, the more you identify with something, be it a story of personality, the more it takes you away and takes away from you. You even identify with emotions, especially negative ones. The problem with identification is that it’s often apathetic, like watching TV, it doesn’t actually take any effort to identify. It’s just something that happens. One moment you’re consciously sitting down, the next you’re believing in the creation of ego.

You wake up and identify with a certain kind of Western life, filled with comforts, enjoyments and entertainment. You get in your car and identify with a form of normalcy and work, believing it’s the thing that good, normal people do. You identify with the need to promote excess chatter and fill the workplace with random opinions on things you didn’t really pay attention to. You identify with lunch-breaks even though you’re not hungry, productivity reports even though nothing of merit has been produced and most of all, you subconsciously identify with the idea that this is how it is, and this is how a person is formed, slowly, with no shocks.

Step back. What stories, narratives and structures are you identifying with? You wake up at a certain because… And that life you identify with, the 2-up-2-down 5-day working week life, the one you were taught in school, did you ever step back to see how much of your identity had been formed around this thing you never had any say in? What about work, commuting, eating certain things, chatting, opinions, productivity and complacency, did you ever stop to question whether or not ‘you’ (your ‘I’) had been built upon false building blocks, on foundations which aren’t supporting your authentic self, but simply dragging it under?

And that’s the story of the average Western person isn’t it? Identification with presupposed normalcy. 8 hours work, 8 hours at home, 8 hours asleep, 3 meals a day, suburban housing, 1 hour commutes, unquestioned-enjoyment, no striving. That’s the problem with identity and identification, it builds an idea of what you supposedly are without the actual you ever interjecting. Fortunately, it only builds externally, but these external barriers can be quite tough to break. But guess what? They can’t be broken externally, an internal flame is needed, a deep-seated desire to be prepared to suffer and undertake training and exercises, finding yourself takes discipline and work, especially in a world which means and wishes for you to become lost.


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Thoughts on Joseph Azize’s ‘Gurdjieff’

 

George Gurdjieff, like the majority of occultists, mystics and esotericists, is someone who is extremely difficult to define. In fact, the very act of definition would be something I imagine Gurdjieff would frown upon. It is an oh-so modern trait to pick up and book and consider a subject ‘complete’; it is the modern trait to consider the possibility of completeness. It is this ambiguity and purposeful inaccessibility which draws me to Gurdjieff’s work and makes me wonder how books can be written about him. There have been quite a few books written about him or his work, though rarely both together. The works that have been written about him are usually written by students or students of students, and the texts on his work are oddly specific. This isn’t the case with Joseph Azize’s Gurdjieff.

Gurdjieff is a Gurdjieffian book. There’s very little pomposity about it, it’s to the point and yet it begs further study. Azize’s method of writing, heavy with references, makes it immediately clear that if we can say anything of our understanding of Gurdjieff it’s that it is always fragmented. One of the overarching messages I get from both this text and Gurdjieffian study is that one should be suspicious of completion, unification and universal conclusions. Gurdjieff’s system wasn’t necessarily a mismatch of other systems, but more a working through of connections, routes and pathways. He understood that it would be ignorant to assume that each system was an island, and that there was a form of circuitry connecting all things, even if this circuitry was ultimately hierarchical.

This brings me to the first two points in my title, modernity and accessibility. The latter can be subsumed into the former in abstract. I always thought one of the reasons Gurdjieff’s work never quite made its way into public light as much as Crowley’s or LaVey’s was because he made it very clear that it was work…very hard work. Arguably another reason could be because Gurdjieff’s systems lack the sexiness and danger of Crowley or LaVeys, but in balance, his systems also lack their stupidity. The idea that something is being purposefully obscure or difficult is no longer seen as a challenge, a bet or quasi-wager by society/modernity, but it is seen as a chore, or insult. If something isn’t immediately accessible in infantile terms then modernity turns its nose up at that thing and declares it useless, hucksterish, too-complex or a waste of time.

The last entry here is of note. A ‘waste of time’ implies a correct usage of time, which within modernity usually means profitable work. Many of these systems are seen by modernity as a waste of time not because of the actions themselves, but because the presumed conclusions should be able to be purchased, and the idea one has to work towards what one already has within them is an abhorrent idea. Both Gurdjieff and Azize’s Gurdjieff make it strikingly clear – The tasks, exercises and contemplative routes are here, work at them, or don’t; either you push through the inaccessibility with the force needed to break into it, or you don’t deserve what’s on the other side. Of course, once again, modernity hates the idea that something can’t be had right now via purchase, and anything that doesn’t fit into this schema is quickly named ‘stupid’.

Azize’s biographical sections on Gurdjieff are as enlightening as any other text on Gurdjieff, that is, rather vague, yet inquisitively intriguing. It often seemed to me that a keen reading of Gurdjieff’s past – what one can find of it – would be an exercise in itself, a reading between the lines of what it is one  is ‘supposed’ to do. And this is the difficulty of accessibility, if I give away all that I have learnt, then what value is it? And not only this, anyone who’s undergone any type of training, whether mental or physical, understands that quickly explaining the conclusions to someone is not the same as undergoing them yourself. This is also the difficulty of writing any text on mystical or occult practice, if the conclusion/answer/enlightenment could be put into words then the practice wouldn’t be needed! Suffice to say, many initiate into many different schools often forget the ‘work’ part of any system.

Yet what can we say of mysticism now? If Azize’s book told me anything it’s that our distrust of anything immaterial or non-profit-oriented is only increasing. It’s clear to me that Azize utilizes many endnotes for need of academic referencing, but it’s also clear to me that this begets a larger picture. That is, the death of the mystic. If such a text were presented without referencing, as if the feats were all real, or at least could be considered real, then such a text falls by the wayside and is deemed unserious. The overton-window of reality is ever-tightening and as each side moves in more and more ambiguities get pushed out. All that will be left soon will be quantifiable material which can be plugged into the economic circuit.

What of the mystics, the monks, the ascetics, the druids, the wanderers, the nomads and the outsiders? The space of modernity expands into the mind and the mind follows you everywhere, even a brand new rainforest can be economized; you’re never free of modernistic thinking, unless you free yourself of patterns of thought. This is the same normalcy routine I often recite, who ever said X and Y is normal? And why do you follow that as truth.

Azize’s text is one of sincerity. There is little in the way of defense, nor discussion on whether there is even an attack. What stands is what is there, what is written. This may seem like nothingness, but almost ritualistically there are introductions and prefaces jumping to the beck-and-call of a constrained materialist history.  What is needed – and what Azize achieves – is a book that takes itself seriously and doesn’t bow to an abstract etiquette authority. There are other routes, they are allowed to be taken and they don’t have to defend themselves against suffocating normalcy.

Quarantined: Freedom From Limitation

In December John Michael Greer posted “Wind is Changing!”, in which he recounts the passage from The Lord of the Rings in which:

the cavalry of the kingdom of Rohan hurry to the rescue of their allies in the city of Minas Tirith. Hostile armies block the way and all seems lost, but in the nick of time Ghân-buri-Ghân, chief of the tribespeople of the White Mountains, comes to their aid, showing the king of Rohan a hidden route that gets them past the enemy and into striking range of the battle that matters. All the while vast clouds of volcanic smoke have blotted out the sun. As the riders of Rohan and their guides reach the edge of the battlefield, however, something shifts:

“Ghân-buri-Ghân squatted down and touched the earth with his brow in token of farewell. Then he got up as if to depart. But suddenly he stood looking up like some startled woodland animal snuffling a strange air. A light came in his eyes.

“‘Wind is changing!’ he cried, and with that, in a twinkling as it seemed, he and his fellows had vanished into the glooms, never to be seen by any Rider of Rohan again.”

As it turned out, Ghân-buri-Ghân was correct; the wind was changing, and with it a tide of events that was shaping the history of Middle-earth turned and began to flow the other way.”

Now I’m fairly sympathetic towards Greer’s philosophy and work as you all know, and I have a fair knowledge of the Occult. I don’t think Greer had Coronavirus in mind when he realized the winds were changing, but he most definitely intuited something large. The reason I use Greer’s piece as a springboard here is because it’s very much a ‘Greerean’ future we’re heading into. Well, with a few odd anomalies and peculiarities thrown in.

Recently I spoke to Greer about Coronavirus and Collapse, we ended up treading much the same avenues we always do, but doing so juxtaposed with recent Corona news. I mentioned to Greer a cartoon I’d seen a while back in which there’s an image of two people holding farming tools, tending to their veg patch. One of them is saying “We have everything we need and we’re happy with that.” and below them the caption reads ‘Capitalism’s worst enemy.’. I foresaw a few things coming from Coronavirus which seemed inevitable – at least to someone such as myself who is rightward leaning – namely, distrust of governments due to bad handling of a transparent X-risk situation or; the government aint got yo’ back! Increased fragmentation within hegemonic bureaucratic structures such as the EU and a slight increase in personal sovereignty. I am however largely a pessimist, or realist, or whatever they call someone who doesn’t bow to giddy normalcy these days. So I was surprised to find that people are…thinking once again.

So what happened to cause people to think? They were forced into isolation or quarantine. They were forced into a physical limitation that made itself clear in a multitude of ways, and this limitation began to strip back desire quite quickly.

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” – Pascal, Pensées

Well what if that man or woman was forced to sit in a room? Albeit not alone and I imagine not quietly, but for once in their entertainment and vitally saturated life they were forced to stop and adhere to a form of solitude. What would happen if such an event happened? And also what would happen if the clear risks of leaving said room were possible death, suffering and/or the causation of suffering to another or loved one? What would happen is what’s currently happening. A strange, stripping back of modernity and Western life in which is revealed its predatory and malicious roots.

People are being knocked out of their unconscious slumber and being forced to think, an act which in itself causes a positive feedback loop thinking, anxiety, worry and crisis the average Joe simply wasn’t ready for. But given the time and freedom to do so many people seem to be realizing that they’re not exactly where they want to be. A large percentage of the population have begun to realize they can do their job from home and that’s a possibility which is difficult to reverse, I mean, why would you now need to come back into the office? This has a knock-on effect of making people notice that they don’t really use or even see their homes and that the 6-10 hours a day they’re at work strips them of their health and energy. The limitations put on shopping, leisure, commuting and paid activities has been much like Wendy and co meeting the real Wizard of Oz. Those activities were just gimmicks, and much like work, simply filled the time and space that I can occupy. People are noticing that what they really miss is freedom, and what they really want is freedom. Freedom to choose and not choose.

So the winds are changing, but not necessarily in the way you might think. It’s not going to be some clear-cut overnight change, much in the same way that collapse is a long process. Greer calls collapse ‘the long descent’ and Kunstler calls it ‘the long emergency’, so perhaps it would be apt to call what we’re currently going through ‘the long exit’, or ‘the long revelation’, or even ‘the long revolution’. In much the same way that Fascism, Communism or Democracy don’t just suddenly show up one day, there isn’t sudden jackboots, red flags or committees, it’s a long, slow, drawn out process where little things are altered bit-by-bit, until eventually enough bits have been changed to alter the whole. That’s the parasitic nature of ideology, on personal, national and global scale. In much the same vein, the way in which Coronavirus will change our lives will not come all at once.

Already we’re seeing a lot more people than usual begin to understand that governments are just corporations, and the corporations they happened to be born within are run very badly by incompetent ‘leaders’ (CEOs). From this grows an understanding that perhaps complexity and unification is a bad thing and thermodynamically, sociologically and culturally unsound. We’re seeing forced critiques of consumption I never thought would see the light of day, people are being made to stay home and think about what they’ve bought, they’ve been given a limit to what they can do, repair, create and build, and from that we’re seeing many people realize they don’t need all that much stuff.

The economy’s worst nightmare is a momentary halt. Not because it will cause the economy itself to fail in its numeric and abstract existence, but because the halt allows for a chasm wherein a new cultural formation can take place. I’m not stating this will kill or end capitalism, anyone who thinks this way simply doesn’t understand capitalism; more than likely this halt will only make capitalism stronger. It will now have to find a way to commodify one’s existence at home and blank space in general. But this momentary halt and stopped the cycle of cultural consumption. Sure, people can still order things on Amazon etc., but the act of doing so is now so transparently attached to boredom that many are beginning to understand the purchase wont fulfill their desire. Not only this, but the secondary factor of having/wanting to save money for security purposes at the moment is making many question why they’d purchase what they ‘want’ to in the first place. ‘If we can get by without buying that thing now, why should we buy it at all?’ A sentence which sends shivers up the spines of many a stockbroker.

I like putting my neck on the line, so I’ll make a few predictions for the coming years:

– Religion – of all kinds – will make a clear comeback. People have had to deal with death and suffering firsthand again and they’re scared.

– There will be a momentous push/promotion of gardening, veg growing and homesteading.

– People will begin to shun government advice more regularly. Common sense returns!

– Van-dwelling, nomadism and communes begin a new era. More folk living in alternative means.

– More people will begin to demand to work from home. Atomization reaches its peak in the next 2 years and then slowly peters out into increased socialization.

– Less people will to get into debt and begin to understand what credit actually is.

– An even bigger movement of alternative and holistic health care, which is no longer deemed alternative, but simply sovereign.

– Nationalism is bolstered, but largely in relation to personal freedom, the competence of everyday living and useful traditions.

– Immigration policies are tightened under the guise of care, but ultimately the reasons are still the same ones as forever.