Case Study: Soccer

(or, “when autism strikes”)

It seems that many of us when finding something to “fix” go straight for society at large, governments, economies, etc. This strikes me as entering a gym and immediately putting three plates on each side of your bench. Particularly with politics aka hard mode.  I thought for a fun change I’d try my hand at fixing something that doesn’t arouse as much passion: soccer.  To be clear, the main goal here is not to tackle the rather hilarious corporate governance issues at FIFA (like their burgeoning film enterprises), but rather the rules of the sport as such.

Assume FIFA grants you supreme power to remake the rules of the sport, and that all the respective associations will obey your word as law. Basically you are granted the ball of Fnargl.  Let’s further assume your goal is to improve the overall aesthetic of the sport, its efficiency and aggregate enjoyment of players and spectators. What changes to the rules do you make?

Some conservatives may consider the very proposition sacrilegious, as if the rules of the game were handed down from the Mount by the Lord Himself.  Which is of course nonsense, the rules having changed plenty of the years. It’s also ludicrous to suppose the rules we currently have, the result of path dependence, historical chance and politics, are the absolute perfection of rules and therefore any change is negative. Clearly absurd.  The most recent rule changes include changes in the offside rule in 1990 to give advantage to the attacker, the backpass rule in 1992 and the recent implementation of goal-line technology at the last World Cup.

There is something though to a reticence with altering fundamental aspects of the game. Superficial changes are likely ok, but the more serious the change the more we ought to think about leaving it alone unless we have an excellent reason for doing otherwise. If not out of some Burkean sensibility for tradition (and epistemological humility) at least out of an understanding that the game is wildly successful (most popular sport on the planet). In tinkering with fundamentals we may destroy that which makes it so and end up causing more harm than good. Primum non nocere.

And keep in mind throughout the sport’s relative simplicity is part of its appeal.  Any kids with something kickable and somewhere to try to get it to are in some way playing a version of soccer; a huge advantage relative to say ice hockey, basketball and others which require more specialized equipment and so on.

As such, here are some of what I consider higher marginal return changes; small changes with a big bang for the buck that should be obviously done.

END CONTINUOUS TIME:  One of the interesting aspects of soccer is that the clock runs continuously, unlike say basketball where every play is stopped the clock is stopped. This is a fundamental part of what makes the last few minutes of a basketball game usually the most exciting part as the clock enters play. American Football plays under a hybrid rule where the clock is strategically stopped at times according to certain plays/specifications and time management becomes an important part of play.

Soccer also has time management as a part of play but unfortunately the continuous time clock creates perverse incentives.  Virtually every soccer game in which one team is ahead on the scoreboard sees said team plagued by injuries during the final fifteen minutes of play in an almost comedic manner.  Players fall down at the slightest contact (and sometimes without any, simulating cramps), are taken off the pitch and immediately spring back up as if by divine intervention.  Many fans and casual spectators are rightly turned off by such behavior, but few see that outrage at a result is all for nought if we do not attempt to fix the real cause: the incentive structure.

Changing the clock from continuous time to in-play time similar to basketball immediately removes the incentive to waste time while the ball is stopped. One can of course strategically attempt to control the ball in play to waste time, but that is part of the game and valid.  Falling down though would cause a whistle and a stop to the clock, thus granting no advantage whatsoever (other than arguably time for the team to catch its breath, but then again time for the other team to do the same, so little marginal benefit).

The implementation is quite easy: have a time-keeper or 4th referee manage the clock stopping at every foul / ball out of play and starting again at every resumption of play. We have a clear model to copy in basketball (and American Football). Of course, to keep play time roughly the same (on average roughly 55-65 mins for most major leagues) instead of a continuous 90 minute clock we’d have a 30 (or 32 or what have you) min “in play” clock.  Games would last roughly as long, little would change in terms of the sport and one of the perverse incentives for off-putting behavior would be removed.

There is one valid objection to the rule change, which is that it opens up the possibility of someone on a breakaway being prevented from scoring due to time running out in the play. In current soccer the referee generally (but not always) waits for a position in which no immediate goal scoring opportunity is available to blow the whistle. This is valid objection, that the fixed end to the game might ruin last play goals, is easily addressed in several possible ways.

You could:
A- have the time running out simply grant the referee discretion to end the game at the nearest possible “no threat” moment as currently done
or if something more objective is preferable
B- have the game end at the next out of bounds after the time runs out (effectively ending the game if the winning team has possession as they kick it out of bounds, but giving the losing team a chance if they have possession of still trying to score until ball goes out of play)

My preference is for the latter, more objective, less discretion to be blamed on the ref, and everyone knows exactly when the game will end. I’m not the first to make this observation.

There is another objection though to “real-time” dealing not so much with the game itself (where I believe it is unassailably superior to the current continuous time) but rather the danger of the inherent commercialization of the sport on TV leading to advertising breaks. This is certainly a possible danger, but note that that there is little need for both to be linked. The non-break play of soccer is a part of the sport, and allowing for 5 minute breaks at 15 minute intervals constitutes a far change to the sport than simply changing how the clock counts down the (roughly) same amount of play.  European soccer is an enormous moneymaker already to all concerned so I see little to fear in terms of letting in advertising breaks, something that would clearly be resisted by most concerned.

ONLY CAPTAIN MAY DISPUTE WITH REFEREE: Once again, another low-hanging fruit. There are few spectacles more revolting than seeing a referee mobbed following a penalty call or red card by players screaming in his face sometimes even engaging physically pushing/pulling and surrounding him in an attempt to intimidate.  The situation has gotten so out of hand leagues have started fining players and teams in sporadic manner for doing so excessively. The problem though is that enforcement is lax and arbitrary, a recipe for disaster

Rugby of course, with some of the toughest human beings alive as players (occasionally transcending gender), deals with the matter in a quite simple manner: only the captain may dispute a call with a referee. Period. Implementing the rule is trivially easy and when everyone knows what will happen everyone tends to obey and the game works better in general.  (One could draw parallels to British Imperialism in India/Egypt…).

SIN BIN: This one has been gaining traction of late.  The yellow/red card system is simply too inefficient. Noted legal scholar Epstein wrote an opinion piece in which one of his two major proposed reforms touched precisely on this. I could scarce do better than quoting him at length:

“The current penalty system has many internal defects. The first is that the differential impact of the free kick and the yellow card is just too great, relative to the seriousness of the two offenses. Remember that the yellow card counts as a 50% down payment against expulsion. The time-honored formula is two yellows equal one red card, which equals one automatic expulsion. The yellow card in one game often carries over to the next, so that playing a star with a yellow card in the next game risk expulsion. Why carry over infractions from one game to a second? And why treat an expulsion that occurs in the 10th minute equal to one that occurs in the 70th?

To remove these bizarre incentives, soccer should follow the ice hockey approach to penalties, after correcting for the difference in team size (six players for hockey vs. 11 for soccer) and game length (60 minutes for ice hockey vs. 90 minutes for soccer).

Here is how it works. In hockey a minor infraction sidelines the player for two minutes for an instant short-term advantage that doesn’t come with a yellow card. If there is a second infraction by a team, part of it is served concurrently with the previous penalty until the first player returns to the ice. If the other team commits a minor penalty when it is ahead, its player goes off the ice as well. In hockey there can be periods of play where the teams are six to five, six to four, five to five, five to four, even four to four. Obviously the first situation is the most common, and that advantage ends once a goal is scored. (…)

To make this system work for soccer takes only two small modifications. The first is that minor penalties should carry a three-minute penalty, not a two-minute penalty. Major penalties that carry a five-minute penalty in hockey could carry seven minutes and 30 seconds in soccer. Today’s red card expulsions could require a team to play 15 minutes short-handed until a new player is bought in. Since a soccer team is larger to begin with, all penalties should run concurrently until a team has three players in the penalty box.

Note that if several players are off the field, the game opens up, thereby increasing scoring changes. Players also have to learn to confront novel tactical situations and to shift positions on the field. Coaches have to plan for more permutations to cover the eventuality of nine vs. nine players. Imagine how to defend in an 11 vs. eight situation.”

MORE REFS: This is another one that has been toyed with, and in fact many junior level leagues without the use of assistant referees use a two-ref on pitch system.  For serious collegiate level play and above (pro) though it seems quite an easy fix to simply increase the number of referees in play. By way of comparison, basketball, with a fraction-sized play field, has a crew chief and two referees for a total three officials. The NFL has 7 man crews plus “replay assistants” in the booth. Baseball from four to six. Rugby uses three (one ref two assistants) but also extensive use of replays (which we will deal with later).

Given all the complaints regarding the quality of refereeing in soccer, one quick fix would be to have two refs on the pitch in addition to the two linesmen.  For professional play or tournaments we could go even farther and have four linesmen as well as two referees (one in each half, one given seniority for final call in case of disagreement), as well as replay booth.  A referee is therefore statistically more likely to be close to play, cardio plays less of a factor, multiple fields of vision, and so on.

The “cost” issue may be relevant for lower leagues, in which case the system as is may be fine, but certainly professional leagues would benefit from this relatively easy fix.

CHANGE PENALTY RULE:  We’ve all seen games altered by a stupid play on edge of the box with little goal threat in which a foul or accidental handball causes a penalty (roughly 85% certainty of goal) and changes a game. The idea of the penalty is sound: to prevent the use of fouls from stopping a goal scoring situation. The gross implementation though via a large penalty box and most any foul occurring within though is highly problematic.

The best way to fix this is to only grant penalties when ref determines situation was a “goal scoring threat” or “imminent threat thereof” or “purposeful foul”.  Some may decry the room for discretion while missing that said discretion already occurs in many aspects of play (what card to hand out, ruling “gray area” fouls like pushing, pulling, etc). The goal would be to end idiotic penalties from say a ball on the edge of the box on the side with no immediate threat to goal hitting a defenders hand by accident, or a trip foul there with little in the way of immediate goal threat. The latter is particularly egregious as it has turned a very high percentage of attacks on goal into a game of “fall down in the box”.

Instead, grant an indirect free kick from the spot. Still dangerous and thus the defender does not have an incentive to commit the foul, but not an 85% goal which encourages the striker to fall (sometimes in a comical (but effective) manner).  In fact, the rules ALREADY allow for indirect free kicks from inside box, all we are doing is raising the bar for a penalty shot to require immediate threat of goal.  Indirect free kicks from inside the box are also interesting tactical situations.

CHANGE OFFSIDE RULE:  There are few aspects of the game more frustrating than the constant interruption at the point of most excitement (goal threatening position or goal) by an offside ruling; in particular given how often it can be incorrect with game altering consequences. Some non-fans may argue for simply scratching the rule altogether. While I have my sympathies for such a view, the fact of the matter is the offside rule does have its place in encouraging good play.  That said there is scope for some changes in how the rule is implemented.

The main problem with the offside rule in soccer is the moving back line, making enforcement quite arbitrary at times.  This problem is avoided in hockey by use of a fixed offside line. Hypothetically in soccer this would create an attacking zone in which there are no offsides, but entrance of which is only permitted after the ball. This very much removes referee interference, allows for free play in the attacking zone worry-free about some bureaucratic implementation of offside rule, and preserves the fast break element of the game that offside rule fans are such fans of.  Interestingly, the MLS precursor, NASL, had a 35 yard offside line as an experiment approved by FIFA. This was eventually repealed due to worries that it would turn the game into an athletic competition (sprinting in fast breaks) rather than technical skills. Which given the high important of physical training/nutrition/steroids in the game over past 40 years has become an irrelevant complaint.

INSTANT REPLAY: This is the big one. Other than the goal line technology that FIFA finally relented on, a limited amount of instant replay flags for the coaches seems an obvious next step.  Purists decry it as making everyone question every play and instantly look for the replay.  Which is of course silly; everyone ALREADY questions every play and looks to linesman for offside and the ref for a call of a foul, any foul. Instant replay is a last-step safe measure allowing a coach to question potentially game changing situations like a questionable offside or penalty or this crap.  Use the example already established in sports from US football to tennis: allow each side a limited number of flags to ask for replay, maybe two per half or per game. In US football the replay can be used quite rapidly in a matter of less than 30 seconds, which is often how long a “complain to ref about questionable call” huddle lasts anyways.

The above all seem to me to be relatively easy and straightforward reforms that could be trivially implemented to dramatically “improve” soccer as a game. The excitement would remain but the inefficiencies inherent in it as a sport would be dealt with through a combination of superior social tech, logistics, and some actual tech.

Much like naive Republicans hankering for a Fair Tax though, the meta-issue is of course dominant. There will be no above reform until the governance issue is sorted out. IFAB is a mess and FIFA, well, the less said the better. Compare with the NFL, where for better or worse the team owners have delegated authority to a commissioner representing them and the league (technically a trade association). Not ideal, and certainly with its fair share of stupidity but certainly capable of rational decisions on a sporadic basis.

So all the above is just an autistic “what if I had ultimate power” wish-list.  Though certainly a smaller waste of a time, effort and money than the Republican Party and the “conservative movement“.

When Progs Attack: Fall of the Portuguese Empire edition

“History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” – (Dubiously) attributed to Mark Twain

“Then I might be tone deaf cuz the more history I read the more it seems like the same f tune played over and over and over again.” – Magus Janus


Little Portugual used to have an empire.  At one point it was quite large including the now 5th largest country on the planet, Brazil, which explains why it’s one of the few exceptions to an all Spanish speaking Latin America.  How it acquired said large landmass is an interesting tale involving colorful personalities and a megalomaniacal geographic ignorance. The loss of the Brazilian part of the empire came about due to a series of events beginning with one of the more bizarre happenings in modern history, when the entire Portuguese court was evacuated from Napoleon’s invading armies in 1807 leading to the colony becoming the metropolis of the Empire.

After the end of the Napoleonic wars the Portuguese threw a hissy fit combining a desire for constitutional monarchy with a return to the subordination of Brazil to the status of colony rather than equal to Portugal.  The state of affairs was further complicated by a dynastic dispute and foreign interventionism from that so dependable meddlesome power on the side of the proto-progressives (the prog good guys) against the absolutists (our good guys).  Seriously, even this douchebag was in on it, on the wrong side as usual. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.  During all this nonsense Brazil became independent and following a brief bit of remarkable stability it went down the path of progress and never had problems again.  (If you believe that I have some property with a great view in Rio to sell you.)

But that’s a story for another day.  Portugal continued limping along the 19th century as a bit player in the world’s longest continuing alliance, sort of like the waterboy to the star quarterback.  Mox is usually pretty cool helping you move out in a pinch as discussed above, but he can also be a bit of a dick sometimes.  And we get some charming terrorism of the 19th century variety, culminating in the terrorists winning (Southpark understands this of course).

But, just when things start going down the oh-so-predictable path we get that usual Iberian/Latin habit of a military man imposing order on the chaos.  Carmona joins the long list honorable men who had the will to take action when duty called, alongside the Chilean, the Brazilian, the Spaniard and others.  Where Carmona truly surprises is in his choice of the main hero of our story, Salazar, as finance minister and eventual de facto ruler of the new order in a peaceful transition managed very well by both men.  One is reminded of the Five Good Emperor’s avoidance of internecine struggles and peaceful common sense successions (that is until Dumbledore appoints a rapper as Augustus, with predictable results)


Salazar is a fascinating historical figure.  Particularly because we see that despite being on the “wrong side of history” we see many prog historians express admiration for his character and achievements; heck even a lifelong commie and enemy did as well.  My nigga ruled from 1932-1968!  For comparison’s sake in the same period the oh so stable Anglos saw 9 PMs in 10 premierships (Churchill pulling a Big Steve) and the Italians something like 20 (seriously and made all the more impressive with Il Dulce’s sucking up 11 of those years).  Political stability is important in that from it follows (usually) institutional stability, necessary for long-term economics calculation and investment.

So to the indisputable facts:
1- Salazar was never caught with his hand in the cookie jar and was never corrupt.  That’s quite something; I mean I personally don’t care if a leader of a nation enriches himself reasonably as long as he does well by the country.  Formalizing this is of course preferable as the Singaporeans do, for if a CEO is paid millions if not tens of millions then surely the “worth” of a proper ruler is in the hundreds of millions if not billions (or tens of billions for larger nations). The prog “outrage” at a political figure making money strikes me as nothing more than political posturing and hypocrisy… the US having at this point come up with the celebrity “lecture circuit” and post-office “consultant” crap to enrich politically connected figures after their term of office and sometimes during.  That said, Salazar does fit in startling genuine fashion the more traditional puritanical “public service” category having by all accounts lived in a very modest if not spartan manner and dying with little in assets to his name.

2- When he rose to power in late 1920s early 1930s Portugal had been racked by years of chronic instability and default, with little credibility abroad, a high public debt, and an impoverished people illiterate people.  Salazar managed to strictly maintain a balanced budget throughout the Great Depression and WW2 as well as maintain current account balanced if not in surplus, ultimately paying down ALL of Portuguese floating external debt.  Heck the Portuguese economy managed to grow at roughly 3% per annum throughout the 30s, which prompted that holy pulpit Time Magazine to remark:

“”it is impossible to deny that the economic improvement recorded in Portugal since 1928 is not only without parallel anywhere else in the world, but is an achievement for which history can show but few precedents””.  

Not to be outdone, Life Magazine:

“”The Dictator has built the Nation. Most that has been built in Portugal can be credited to Dr. Salazar… he has balanced the budget, built roads and schools, torn down slums, cut the death rate and enormously raised Portugal self-esteem. Unambitious Salazar took the dictatorship by army request and holds it by popular will. The Salazar dictatorship is easygoing and paternalistic, with wide freedom of speech allowed to his enemies… Friends of democracy may deplore Salazar the dictator but they cannot deny that under the republic Portugal made an unholy mess of itself and Salazar pulled it out.””
3- Economic performance really took off in the post-war period.  While the economy had been arguably overregulated in the name of political control and social stability in the first half of Salazar’s reign and thus limiting growth (plus, you know, Great Depression, tariff wars and WW2 putting a bit of a damper on trade and investment), the rising class of technocrats pushed for economic liberalization on top of the already attained sovereign credibility.  The reforms implemented throughout the late 50s and early 60s sparked the “Portuguese miracle”.  Portuguese GDP per capita as a % of Western European GDP per capita went from 35% when Salazar took office to 42% by the end of the war to 58% before the progs overthrew the regime in 1973 while managing an incredible industrial modernization and urbanization with social stability.  Those with an axe to grind attempt cliche leftwing descriptions of the Portuguese economy as still having a large poor population at that time.

This is of course true but fails to ask the more important questions: what % were poor when the regime took over and what % were still poor (on absolute basis) when it was finished? What was the trend? How did the regime compare to a benchmark of other European countries? What was the trend in gdp per capita? In social indicators like total population, infant mortality, literacy, life expectancy, etc.  Because to ask those questions would bring uncomfortable (to the prog) answers: on virtually any metric one can think of and ESPECIALLY so by usual Iberian/Latin historical standards the Estado Novo was a riveting success.

4- La Wik’s description of the regime perhaps says it better than I can:

“Opposed to communism, socialism, anarchism, liberalism and anti-colonialism,[a] the regime was corporatist, conservative, and nationalist in nature, defending Portugal as Catholic. Its policy envisaged the perpetuation of Portugal as a pluricontinental nation under the doctrine of lusotropicalism, with Angola, Mozambique, and other Portuguese territories as extensions of Portugal itself, and it being a source of civilization and stability to the overseas societies in the African and Asian possessions.”

This was my reaction on reading said beauty and that I expect of most NRx minded readers.  I’d recommend reading the link in its entirety as it is surprisingly fair for what was effectively an approximation of modern cameralism with a stable CEO.  (Beware of the usual prog sneaky attacks such as comparing an “Absolute” metric (illiteracy) with other Europeans to show Portugal’s relative backwardness when the important one is the change in said metric during the life of the regime. If you take a shtty company and turn its relative performance around you should be judged on what it was when you took over versus what it is when you left it and hypothetically against peer performance.  NOT on a “where was it absolutely” when you left it.   But I digress).

The basic gist is one of a paternalistic socially conservative regime.  It may be hard for our prog dominated world to understand that there were alternate paths to the seemingly unstoppable prog wave.  The motto in that Lusitanian Norman Rockwell’s painting is God, Country and Family, as a riposte to the slogan of the bad guys (Trigger warning: vomit inducing prog smugness of the ‘put my fist through the screen and root for Team Meteor‘ variety).  Though his regime would eventually fall to the forces of darkness when his liberalizing successor took over, Salazar held the line culturally for 4 decades.

5- He skillfully managed foreign policy through one of the most trying periods in European history.  Portugal lent tacit support to good guys over the bad guys in the Spanish Civil War, and later signed basically a neutrality pact that played a not insignificant role in keeping Spain out of the war, (something the UK in a one of their rare fits of rationality actually realized and didn’t press them on.)  Hundreds of thousands of refugees escaped the Great European Civil War via Portugal, including tens of thousands of Jooz (though that hasn’t stopped them complaining of course), all while Portugal maintained a careful balance.  Seeing the fate of those that got involved this may have been Salazar’s ultimate accomplishment.  Now, a good argument could be made that he should have joined the anti-communist front, but since the end result was communist victory and Portuguese intervention would hardly have changed it then he can hardly be blamed for prudentially guiding his country through it unscathed.

6- “All of the above are fine and whatnot, but he was a DICTATOR! MUH FREEEEEDOM!” yelps the leftist. Okay, well, let’s tackle that.  Irene Pimentel, Portuguese prog historian supreme of the PIDE years, has dug through archives, records, interviewed former operators (and those arrested/tortured), etc.  In her estimation roughly 400 prisoners were detained a year from ’45 through ’74 by the Portuguese secret police for a total of about 12000 prisoners (that’s roughly half the amount the US covered up that Stalin had had killed in ONE MONTH) detained during the post war period.  But what horrific fate awaited those “detained” for political purposes to support this evil totalitarian regime? The overwhelming majority (95%) were kept for under 2 years, and the small percentage kept longer were usually hardcore communist party members or repeat offenders.  Not exactly Ivan Denisovich territory.

Then again, who cares about those detained, the prog may counter.  Get to the nitty gritty, how many comrades did the evil fascist secret police kill during those thirty years?  First, replies the reactionary, some perspective.  Stalin, say 15 mio.  Pol Pot (later in time) 1.5 mio or thereabouts. Mao of course leads the pack at 35 mio+. Ah, but those are much larger countries or you know, really dedicated Asians. What about more culturally similar communists?  Well, the Spanish “republicans” only took down about 50k in just a few years, though they surely get points for targeting priests and nuns.  And Castro we get from 10k to 30k depending on calculations, mostly frontloaded around the Revolution, retaliations and cementing power until everyone got the message.

So enough perspective.  How many did PIDE kill in Portugal during its thirty year reign of white terror?


Stop laughing. No seriously, stop, you’re making the lefties uncomfortable.


Which at long last sets the stage for the Fall of the Portuguese Empire.  The Eye of Sauron had set its eyes on bigger game first of course: its age old enemy, which had basically brought said disaster on itself.  Salazar though was made of sterner stuff and the old man would go down fighting before surrendering an empire outposts of which existed before the settlement of the future United States.  So Sauron did what he always does:  boycott, embargo, war and Cathedral intellectual penetration.  The startling fact is that the former three mostly failed while the Portuguese had resolve (much as with South Africa).  It was only when the prog infection spread that Portugal gave up a Colonial War it had effectively won, coincidentally concurrently happening in the US.

The Portuguese (Third) Empire in the post war period consisted mostly of Portuguese Guinea, Portuguese Angola and Portuguese Mozambique.  Technically some small Indian enclaves and outposts like Goa (a Portuguese colony for almost 500 years) were also still around and kicking but their fate was quite farcical and mostly forgotten by anyone with white skin.  Seriously any international conflict with only double digit casualties is best written off as “well that was remarkably silly.”  Macau (which yours truly visited pre-handout) was also around but pretty much useless and handed over peacefully by the post ’75 leftist regime, which worked out pretty well for them all things considered.  Chinese fascism > European progs.  Someone should make a t-shirt of that.

But it’s in fair Africa where we lay our scene.  The progs declared war on the Portuguese Empire (and others) in 1960.  War broke out in Angola in ’61, Guinea in ’63 and  Mozambique in ’64.  Presumably it took time for carrier pigeons to reach different areas to tell them the prog world rulers had determined they should be set free.  Due to the clusterf- that are African independence movements we’ll break the wars up:

Angola- The Angolan Communist Party (PCA) merged with the Party of the United Struggle of Africans in Angola (PLUA), and then with the Movement for the National Independence of Angola (MINA) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Angola (FDLA).   Presumably initially called the PCAPLUAMINAFDLA, they settled on MPLA, the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola.  Among the founders were:
1- Viriato Cruz, a poet Maoist who was exiled after infighting to China where he was apparently starved to death (seriously)
2- Mario Pinto Andrade, a poet who studied Philosophy at Lisbon and Sociology at Sorbonne (color me shocked) and after infighting was exiled from Angola and died in London
3- Agostinho Neto, a poet (wtf is it with poets!?) the infighting winner who therefore has his birthday as a public holiday, National Heroes Day.  A Marxist Leninist, he was the first president of super happy free Angola, had an unclaimed bastard child in Bulgaria he never recognized, was buddies with Che, had Cuban funding and support (though not direct USG aid, the US backing FNLA instead, though Cathedral soft support of the headline variety is arguably more valuable), Lenin Peace Prize winner in 1977, and killed about 10-18k members of the Fractionist movement after an attempted coup against him in ’77.  Oh and his poems are national anthems, obviously.  Cathedral connection extraordinaire: late Brown University professor and “father of modern african literature” Chinua Achebe wrote a laudatory poem about him.  Seriously.

The war began in earnest in ’61 with a worldwide drop in cotton and coffee prices.  The Portuguese cut back wages (free markets and all that) and the Angolans (becoming accustomed to booming population and rising gdp per capita courtesy of Western institutions and governance) proceed to rationally air their grievances.  lol.  They commence a campaign of widespread violence against Portuguese settlers, industrialists, traders and farmers including a particularly nasty episode when the Union of the People’s of Northern Angola (UPA) led by Holden Roberto (on the USNSC payroll since mid 50s.  Seriously) killed 1000 white civilians and 6000 black civilians including women and children subjected to mass rape.  Most of the blacks killed were Ovimbundu, whereas Holden’s militia members were Bakongo, and though to Western eyes they all pretty much look the same (black) they REALLY f hate each other with ideological differences serving more as an excuse to settle very old grudges and get your dick wet.  Roberto would mostly operate out of the Kongo region and Zaire during the war (and ensuing post independence civil war) and basically fight the Portuguese and more importantly his internal black rivals.  Oh, and guess who educated this mass murdering rapist “freedom fighter”?  Well, here’s the money quote from Stanford’s Fearon and Laitin (2005):

“the Portuguese reluctantly allowed
Protestant missionaries to work in the colonies. The three leading insurgents
in Angola were all educated by these Protestant missionaries: Roberto
(Baptists), Neto (Methodists), and Savimbi (Congregationalists). Van der
Waals suggests that the ideology of liberation was fostered not only by
communists and Afro-Asian nationalists, but by Protestant missionaries as
well (van der Waals 1993, pp. 30, 43). ”

You can’t make this sht up my NRx brethren.  Van der Waals btw was a South African brigadier General who wrote a not too shabby book on the war, though colored with some progressive sentiment.

The borders with neighboring Zaire and later Zambia provided safe havens for the rebels, and UN protection of international boundaries and squeals of outrage at transgressions by the Portuguese (though never by the insurgents) effectively gave the insurgents a free home base.  Rather similar to Red USG issues when fighting N Vietnam facing issues with “neutral” Laos and Cambodia (and when fighting N Korea and dealing with explicit Chinese intervention for that matter), though curiously enough not an issue when fighting the Germans in WW2.  Imagine the USG fighting the Germans in France and Italy and Africa but never bombing or invading Germany itself and you’re imagining a very different world, something Francis Parker Yockey would point out in exasperated fashion. But I digress.

War between the Portuguese and the UN backed forces and between different factions of those forces (presaging the two decade long civil war that would ravage the country) continued.  Roberto, after turning UPA into FNLA, would actually get funding from the joooooooooz against Portugal, and a splinter group from FNLA would found UNITA (these acronyms I swear), spreading the war to Southeast Angola.  The Portuguese response to the UPA massacres was devastating, and led by the likes of Fernando Robles and his “special hunter units” (seriously) enacting some Lex Talionis UPA/FNLA were expelled from the Bakongo region of Angola and sought refuge in Kinshasa and the Congo.

The Portuguese meanwhile pursued a policy of increasing Africanization, not too dissimilar from Nixon’s  plan to end Vietnam War.  The % of Africans serving the Portuguese colonial army in the war rose sharply from 20% to close to 50% by the 1970s, and Portuguese casualties in Angola were minimal:  less than 3k over the 14 years.  Specialized all-black native “Flechas” units (arrow) wrought havoc on the MPLA in the Eastern Front via local knowledge (and incidentally were the inspiration for the infamous Selous Scouts of Rhodesia) and ruthlessness augmented by foreign black “leais” (Zambian refugees) and “fieis” (Zairean) loyal to Portuguese forces, and South African raids in Moxico ravaged many guerrilla training bases (The Lusitanians would affectionately refer to the Boer as “primos”, the “cousins”).  By 1974, on the eve of the Carnation Revolution the war had been all but won with the vast majority of Angola pacified, the opposition heavily splintered and beset by infighting (Revolta Activa a new group led by poet Mario Andrade left MPLA in 1974 and fought for foreign commie funding in the Chinese and Soviet courts), and the remaining MPLA mostly reduced to escaping with Neto to the Republic of Congo.

It was by all accounts the most successful of the three counter-insurgent campaigns by the Portuguese.  In fact by the 1970s the colony was booming with heavy building of roads, schools, trade with Portugal flourishing and increased investment (particularly oil-driven in the Kabinda enclave) among the increased security outlook.  Angola’s future seemed very bright indeed.

Mozambique- The Mozambiquean war is a little easier to understand if only due to lacking a veritable salad soup of infighting acronyms.  The Marxist-Leninist Liberation Front of Mozambique (FRELIMO) were the main insurgent movement, and commenced the war in earnest in 1964.  FRELIMO Dramatis Personae included:
1- Eduardo Mondlane, attended Oberlin college of Lena Dunham fake-rape fame, degrees in sociology and anthropology (shocking!), worked as a researcher in the UN (double shock!), married a white chick from Indiana, taught at Syracuse Univesity and set up their East African studies department (electrifying!), and with funding from Scandinavian countries (damnit Sweden, wtf) China, Soviet Union and Julius “wreck my country” Nyerere set up and was elected first president of FRELIMO. Died in a book bombing.
2- Uria Simango, poet (damnit not again), vice president and cofounder, lost power struggle to Machel and was exiled, returned after happy happy glorious independence to start a party to contest the election (lol) only to be arrested, tortured and executed in late 70s.
3- Samora Machel, cofounder, no education past lower school at a Mission, won the power struggle for supreme power, wrecked country with one-party state and ensuing civil war, died in plane crash under dubious circumstances.

FRELIMO gradually escalated activities throughout late 60s, particularly among the more sparsely populated Cabo Delgado region bordering Tanzania, where it used the old guerrilla “border hopping” hit-and-run technique.  FRELIMO would pressure tribal leaders, the majority of which were content with Portuguese rule, to join the insurgency “or else”, a fate over 2k would face. Soon over 1/7th of the population in 1/5th of area of Mozambique were under Frelimo control with the insurgents numbering about 8k fighters.  The southern regions meanwhile remained under Portuguese control and over half of Portuguese troops were located in concentric defensive rings and bases in the Western Tete district protecting the Cahora Bassa dam. The dam, constructed from 1969-1974 was (and still is) the largest hydroelectric system in Southern Africa, so of course the nationalist insurgents repeatedly attempted to attack construction workers and blow it up… for the good of the country and all that.  Oh, and of course the UN condemned the building of the damn in UN resolution 2873 in 1971.  Apparently opening up 8 million acres of land to agriculture and providing 4 millions kilowatts of electrical power to Southern Africa are absolutely evil if done by the wrong white people.

Things came to a head in the awesomely named Gordian Knot operation of 1970 (back when military operations still had real names and not PC bs) by the equally awesome named Kaulza de Arriaga all but wiped out FRELIMO’s ability to operate.  Kaulza was a fascinating hard-right figure; a mathematics and engineering major from Porto University (Portugal’s best) he traveled to the US to consult with Westmoreland and US experts on counterinsurgency warfare and was a member of the Portuguese Institute of Higher Military Studies, which sounds, well, awesome.  His elite paratroopers outfit were crucial in preventing a palace coup against Salazar in 1961 by Botelho Moniz sponsored by the US (in part due to Salazar’s intransigence vis a vis JFK in relinquishing the colonies to “independence” aka the State/Blue Empire).  Kaulza definitely represented the right-wing faction of the Salazar regime.  Upon arrival in the theatre in 1970 he backed the use of helicopter gunships to support ground operations in search-and-destroy missions as well as asking for increased funding and troops for Gordian Knot.

The main purpose of the operation was to, as its name implies, sever FRELIMO’s frustrating ability to use international niceties and double standards to attack the Portuguese while being supplied from Tanzania and having a ready escape route.  La Wik’s description is fairly spot on:

The objectives of the campaign were to seal off the infiltration routes across the Tanzanian border and to destroy permanent guerrilla bases. “Gordian Knot” was a seven-month campaign employing ultimately thirty-five thousand men, and was almost successful. The brunt of the effort was in the Cabo Delgado district, in the northernmost area of Mozambique, on the border with guerrilla sympathizer Tanzania. Tactics consisted of lightning quick airborne assaults on small camps. Continual artillery and aviation bombardment rained down on larger sites while bulldozer guided, motorized armies converged. These tactics were effective and Arriaga pursued the guerrillas relentlessly; however, the exertions of “Gordian Knot” could not be continued indefinitely.

The Portuguese had excellent coordination between light bombers, helicopters and reinforced ground patrols. They utilised American tactics of quick airborne (helibourne) assaults supported by heavy aerial bombardments of FRELIMO camps by the Portuguese Air Force (Força Aérea Portuguesa or FAP) to surround and eliminate the guerrillas. These bombardments were accompanied by the use of heavy artillery. The Portuguese also used cavalry units to cover the flanks of patrols and where the terrain was too difficult to motor transport, and units of captured or deserted guerrillas to penetrate their former bases.”

The operation was by any military estimate a success, killing over eliminating close to 3k FRELIMO fighters at the cost of 130 Portuguese troops.  In said document Kaulza in his own words lays out the objectives and accomplishments of the campaign and subsequent operations in the region:

Counter-Insurgency in Mozambique
According to the doctrine I established as Professor at the Portuguese Institute of Higher Military Studies, counter insurgency in Mozambique has the following objectives:
a- Elimination of “liberated areas”, as was the case in Operation Gordian Knot adn those immediately previous and subsequent to it
b- Security and defense of important and sensitive areas such as Cabora-Bassa
c- Development of territory and promotion of security for the population, especially in the fields of education, healthcare (…)
d- Combat those who aimed to increase the insurgency and stop the development of the territory and the security of the population
What followed
A- Operation Gordian Knot was executed with the total elimination of FRELIMO bases and “liberated areas”
B- Cabora Bassa was defended with 100% success
C- Construction of over one thousand villages with schools, health centers, farms and civic centers etc.
D- Initiated Operation Frontier, the construction of modern villages along the Rovuma river on the frontier with Tanzania
E- Strongly increased access to schooling and university for Africans
F- Development of efficient system of General Sanitation Assistance
G- Nomination of several Presidents of the African Chamber
H- Establishment of a Provincial Legislative Assembly in Lourenco Marques composed of 50% whites and 50% blacks
I- Improvement and construction of thousands of kilometers of roads, hundreds of landing strips and small airports and several ports
J- Augmented system of Population Self-Defense in which weapons were supplied to native forces that would rid themselves of subversive groups
K- Establishment of Special Paratrooper Group (special forces) constituted of African volunteers from diverse ethnicities and tribes, highly trained in combat and amenable to the population
CONCLUSION: The attempted subversion by the USSR and China and their groups, particularly FRELIMO, was a failure. FRELIMO faced an imminent total collapse after Operation Gordian Knot and was equally situated when the 25th of April (Carnation Revolution) movment occurred.  The Counter-Insurgency operations realized by Portugal based on mixed white and black populations was a total success.

Frelimo, facing a total inability to effect a victory by purely military means, turned to explicitly terroristic actions, as per Henrikssen 1983:
 “The mine is a weapon of the semi-skilled and as such fitted into Frelimo’s reliance on village youth to conduct its campaign. Its effectiveness was great, however. Two out of every three troops, or 70 percent, struck down by the guerrillas were mine victims.”
By 1973 the UN supported FRELIMO was laying mines in civilians areas with casualties in the thousands, the purpose being to strike terror into the hearts of neutral civilians and to turn the domestic political tide against the Portuguese, though this proved far more unsuccessful domestically than it would internationally.

Just as the victory in Vietnam would be betrayed by political events driven by the media, in 1973 the Cathedral octopus struck hard against the Portuguese military efforts in Mozambique.  Some soldiers, mostly black, in the Portuguese army on a routine search mission in a FRELIMO infiltrated village in Dec 1972 killed around 150-300 civilians in what appeared to be a classic case of war frustration retaliation to an ambush they’d suffered that had killed 6 of their own.  The “Wiriyamu Massacre”(dwarfed by equivalent actions by FRELIMO throughout its existence) was divulged by a Cambridge (check) educated anti-colonial (check) Vatican II supporting (triple check) anti celibacy (and in fact later married) enthusiast priest Adrian Hastings.  Hastings relayed the information to uber-prog Louis Heren, at The Times, and later would speak at the UN on it.  The revelation, coming within a few years of My Lai,  was timed perfectly one week before Caetano (Salazar’s succesor) visited England in commemoration of the 600th anniversary of the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance.  It shocked the “respectable international community” and corroded Portuguese educated opinion on the war.  Heren incidentally is a BINGO if I ever saw one of prog checklist:  anti-Thatcher, supportive of commie spy Anthony Blunt, accompanied MLK on his ‘freedom’ rides, friends with LBJ, etc.

The Cathedral’s propaganda victory in Mozambique would overwhelm the military victory accomplished by the Portuguese forces in the face of a ruthless terrorist campaign at the cost of 3.5k Portuguese soldiers, and was a large contributor to the Carnation Revolution that would lead to the destruction of the Empire.   UK Labor leader and later PM Harold Wilson for instance called the Portuguese regime guilty of “genocide” and “with no parallel since Nazi times” (conveniently forgetting the largest massacre in history, the 30-40 mio casualties Mao had just committed in 1959-1961) due to the revelation of a couple hundred civilians killed.  Kaulza’s one mistake was not realizing that the real war was not against FRELIMO but a much more powerful enemy, the international prog community.

But first, to the last and most troubled of the colonial conflicts:

Guinea- The Marxist African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) initiated the rebellion in 1963. Among key figures were:
1- Amilcar Cabral, while studying at the University of Lisbon founded student movements opposing the Salazar dictatorship and urging the end of the Empire, founder of PAIGC and helped Neto found MPLA for double points, set up a Sweden supplied/funded roving hospital for wounded rebel PAIGC troops, assassinated by internal rival Inocencio Kani with PIDE help, darling of Western intellectuals for boilerplate Marxist nonsense i.e. “incredible intellectual”
2- Luis Cabral, the above’s brother and successor and first president of independent Guinea, ran country into the ground as single-party state and overthrown in military coup in ’80, known for ordering execution of roughly 7.5k Guinean black troops that had fought for Portuguese after victory in ’75 and buried in mass graves (it is unknown if Harold Wilson commented on this)
3- Joao “Nino” Vieira, member of Papal minority ethnicity (as opposed to Balanta majority in Guinea),  rising military leader during independence, overthrew Cabral in ’80 coup representing “black” interests against the mulatto Cape Verdean led regime of Cabral, became de-facto president for life of Guinea-Bissau until his death in 2009 with a brief 4 year interlude following losing civil war in ’99, hacked to death (seriously) by rivals in 2008.

The costal areas of Guinea had been run by Portugal as trading outposts since the 1450s making it one of Portugal’s oldest colonies.  The interior jungle-ridden tribal areas were only brought under Portuguese de facto control in the 19th century and it was in those areas that the PAIGC focused their efforts, both due to difficulty Portuguese army had in chasing them as well as PAIGC’s ability to use the borders with Guinea-Conakry and Senegal for safe haven, bases and supplies.  Guinea-Conakry was led by Ahmed Toure, first president aka dictator for life and killer of roughly 50k in concentration camps throughout his 26 year regime.  Fun Fact: Toure was friends with Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichae and considered JFK his ally and “only true friend in the outside world”.  Ghana also provided training camps and equipment particularly during the early years of the movement, as it was run by anti-colonial leader and Fidel and MLK buddy Kwame Nkrumah.  Kwame, a philosophy major from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania and Philosophy major from University of Pennsylvania, was the first president aka dictator of Ghana, a post he’d hold until being overthrown in a (shock!) coup in the late 60s after running his country into the ground as yet another failed Marxist experiement.

The foreign funding, jungle territory and easy access to international border safe havens and resupply depots turned Portugues Guinea into what was dubbed somewhat hyperbolically as the “Portuguese Vietnam”. Whereas in Angola and Mozambique the majority of the territory was always in Portuguese hands even during the nadir of the counter-insurgent efforts, in Guinea large swathes of the country were rebel controlled or disputed/threatened.  While the capital and key ports remained in Portuguese hands the rebels ability to operate increased steadily throughout the 60s.

Coinciding with the renewed vigor in the Mozambiquean campaign, 1970 saw the Portuguese launch Operation Mar Verde (Green Sea), which was basically a “f this international borders hypocrisy bs” moment.  200 black guinean soldiers led by Portuguese white officers launched an amphibious covert operation of Israeli-like ballz to destroy PAIGC supply ships and depots, release POWs from torture/starvation/execution from infamous Camp Boiro (and later political prison/mass execution site), and burn down Toure’s summer house cuz, well, f him. The mission was a success in a military sense with one Portuguese white loss and 7 Guinean blacks versus hundreds of rebel scum casualties. Unfortunately the attempted overthrow of Toure failed as he managed to hide (as did Cabral), and exacted domestic revenge in paranoid fashion in an internal purge of roughly 100 high-ranking casualties.

The real cost though came, as in the Angolan and Mozambiquean campaigns, in the international realm.  The real evil behind the conflict passed several resolutions condemning both the invasion and the existence of the Portuguese empire as a “threat to African security” (cue NRx lol) and the Russian branch of global communism dispatched several warships to the region to explicitly protect the PAIGC and prevent a repeat of Portugal actually trying to win the war.  The Soviets increased funding to PAIGC, equipping them with shoulder-fired Strela’s, not too dissimilar as more primitive version of later Stingers of Charlie Wilson fame, limiting Portugal’s ability to use combined arms and air support in counter-insurgent activity.

Unlike the Portuguese de facto military victories in Angola and Mozambique, a decisive military victory in Guinea proved elusive. At the same time PAIGC never presented a tangible military threat to removing Portugal from the region while Portuguese will remained to keep it.  Portuguese casualties  over the 9 year conflict were 2k KIA, about 200 per year, mostly in the late 60s and declining thereafter. Africanization of the Portuguese armed forces in the colonial conflict had proved a success as a large % of native blacks did not want to be ruled by marxist and terroristic guerrilla forces of PAIGC, preferring (rather rationally one must comment) to stick to Portuguese governance.  Of special note were General Spinola’s establishment of all-black counter-insurgent special forces Comandos (led by black Marcelino Matas, one of the most decorated soldiers in Portuguese military history) and Fuzileiros as well as the ruthless Milicianos, who would operate throughout Guinean rivers in amphibious small-troop operations destroying rebel strongholds and supply depots.  The war continued as such in stalemated fashion through to the ’74 Carnation Revolution.

STATE OF AFFAIRS- The state of affairs in 1974 in the colonial war was as follows: total victory in Angola, large though not total victory in Mozambique with guerrilla forces only able to strike sporadically in sparsely populated rural areas, and stalemate in Guinea.  Angola and Mozambique were undergoing an economic boom, with large construction projects, Portuguese investment, constant flow of white settlers to the region and increased commodity exports.  GDP per capita and population were both increasing both for white minority as well as black majority under Portuguese governance. In Guinea the conflict had caused havoc in PAIGC-run areas but the coastal and more populous (and economically important) Portuguese run areas experienced declining infant mortality and increased commodity exports (particularly cashews and peanuts), with total population growing by 20% from ’65 to ’75.

The Portuguese metropole itself was experiencing an economic boom throughout the colonial conflict period.  The liberalizing reforms of late 50s/early 60s had led to dramatic growth, and though the war took up roughly 40% of the government budget Portuguese per capita growth continued steadily, making it easily affordable and sustainable.  Portuguese casualties had dropped remarkably with the success of Africanization in the 70s and the stabilization of the conflict on two fronts (in particular the more contested and larger Mozambiquean front with completion of the Bassa Dam).  Furthermore, the discovery and exploration of large Angolan oil deposits promised a bountiful source of medium and long-term wealth and thus strategic independence.  The Portuguese Empire from a strictly factual standpoint seemed alive, well and prosperous with a bright future for both its white and black inhabitants, in the face of Soviet, US and UN opposition.

Politically though the situation had changed dramatically.  79 year old Salazar had suffered a stroke in ’68 after 36 years of rule, and President Americo Tomas appointed Marcelo Caetano to the role of PM.  Caetano’s power though was not as absolute as Salazar’s had been, with the government being effectively split between the “right” Tomas and the “left” of Caetano.  Caetano was known as a reformist, having been Law professor of Lisbon University and Rector of the school.  When Salazar cracked down on communist student groups the students went on strike during the so-called “Academic Crisis” of ’61/’62 and marches and riots were put down by riot police, prompting the moderate Caetano to resign as Rector in protest.  His rise to power thus prompted much skepticism from the ranks of the military and in particular the more conservative members such as Kaulza, who became a constant source of worries regarding a possible reactionary coup.

Caetano intended to politically liberalize the (incredibly successful and long-lasting) regime.  Among the list of changes he pursued as part of the so-called “Marcelist Spring”:
– Changing the name of the regime from Estado Novo (New State) to the more feel-good Estado Social (Social State)
– Changing the name of the PIDE to DGS (General-Directorate of Security)
– Increased welfare expenditures such as rural pensions to non-contributors, taxing the budget and driving increasing inflation via higher monetary printing to fund it
Allowing first labor (read, communist infiltrated) unions in 40 years
Easing press censorship

And so on.  One unintended beneficial side effect of Caetano’s foray into prog appeasement was a concomitant hardening of the colonial war to appease the right-wing generals angered by his domestic “reforms”.  Kaulza, Spinola and others were given higher funding and freer rein in the conflicts, allowing them to turn the tide in Angola and Mozambique and stabilize Guinea as shown above.  The domestic reforms though proved a disaster, predictably failing to quench the prog thirst for power.  Louis XVI, the UK with the US, Czar Nicholas II, nominally right-wing rulers repeatedly commit the same mistake of attempting to negotiate a “moderate reform” with ruthless Left opposition, only to find themselves overthrown and exiled if lucky, beheaded/shot if not.

What Caetano had done was the equivalent of liberally (heh) spreading gasoline throughout a house. And a house in a neighborhood on fire: worldwide student protests in ’68 mirroring 1848 with France rattled by a Leftist quasi-revolution and De Gaulle briefly fleeing the country; the US undergoing radical student anti-war protests, civil “rights” riots and the Watergate scandal growing in importance in 73-74; explosion of Irish “Troubles” from 70-73, etc. Against this backdrop Caetano would allow the genie of progressivism out of the bottle with greater student freedoms and press freedoms.  The groundwork was set for revolutionary change not due to material conditions but due to  political misgovernance (naivete?) by Caetano, the only question remaining was where the spark would come from to ignite the fire of revolution.

REVOLUTION- The Carnation Revolution is best understood as an in-house palace Left Wing coup against the right-wing Estado Novo regime and Portuguese Empire.  The culprit was the (communist infiltrated) Movement of the Armed Forces (MFA), composed of Left-wing army officers and whose principal agenda included:
– immediate end to the Colonial War i.e. surrender of Portuguese Africa to communist guerrilla forces
– free elections aka socialism
– abolition of secret police PIDE/DGS and their ruthless reign of terror (ELEVEN!)
– a minority in favor of establishment of communist regime in Porgual

The official motto was “Democratization, Decolonization and Development.”  The first two were to be achieved, the latter, well, not so much.

The immediate cause of the revolution was the passage by the Caetano administration of a misguided new military reform law that, in an attempt to lower the costs of military and the prosecution of the war would allow militia forces who completed a brief training program to be commissioned at the same rank as military academy graduates.  That’s what not listening to Severus gets you.  The younger academy graduates were incensed at the dilution of the prestige of their commissions and the political intervention in the running of the military.  In ’74 the coup took place establishing a “National Salvation Junta”during the tumultuous “Revolutionary Course in Process” (PREC) time of ’74-’76 which brought the country to the brink of civil war before the first democratic elections of ’76, won by a “moderate” (not stalinistic communist) left wing general.

The chief plotters:
1- Otelo Carvalho, named after Shakespeare’s Othello with equally disastrous decision-making skills, communist supporter and main strategist of the coup, stopped a counter-revolutionary coup in’75 only to attempt his own radical left failed coup in November ’75 that was in turn ousted by a moderate left counter radical left coup (seriously), ended up leading FP25 terrorist faction in the 80s that bombed police stations and robbed banks Patti Hearst style, ended up as an arms dealer to African nations.  Oh, and in 2011 he stated “If I’d known how the country would turn out I’d never have made the revolution”.
2-Vasco Goncalves, named after heroic Portuguese explorer and empire builder Vasco da Gama and would play key role in bringing down said empire, prime minister during the PREC years his goverment, as La Wik puts it,
“nationalized all Portuguese-owned capital in the banking, insurance, petrochemical, fertilizer, tobacco, cement, and wood pulp sectors of the economy, as well as the Portuguese iron and steel company, major breweries, large shipping lines, most public transport, two of the three principal shipyards, core companies of the Companhia União Fabril (CUF) conglomerate, radio and TV networks (except that of the Roman Catholic Church), and important companies in the glass, mining, fishing, and agricultural sectors. “
He also nationalized vast swathes of the country’s agriculture (2.2 mio acres) with predictable results: collapse in efficiency, failure to modernize, etc.
3-General Antonio Spinola, centrist and elder statesman figure, played a minor role in the Revolution as such but became a key player following Caetano’s insistence that he would only surrender to Spinola made him the public face of the Revolution and first post-coup president of the Junta,  gradually saw the light and attempted to block the MFA’s radical left economic and political program, resigned in late ’74, attempted a counter-coup in ’75 appealing to the “silent majority” (hollah Nixon) but alas failed and was exiled to Spain and Brazil though rehabilitated in his later life due to role he played in the Revolution initially

So that’s the basics.  From still (though not as much) right-wing authoritarian government in early ’74 to moderate junta from April to September, then firm left-wing program until a radical-left communist failed coup in November ’75 followed briefly by a moderate democratic left coup allowing for elections in ’76.  The economy of course tanked, the obvious result of the instability and economically insane program implemented with exploding fiscal and current account deficits.  It would take Portugal until the early ’90s to recover its equivalent % of per capita GDP ranking to rest of Europe, as well as leaving a strong legacy of government control of the economy and indebtedness  that haunts it to this day.

The decolonization program was a disaster.  The colonies were turned over to Marxist terrorists who attempted to outdo one another in terms of economic irrationality, kleptocratic plundering of their nations,  and devastatingly destructive civil wars. Over 1 Mio Portuguese fleed the former colonies in the years following the Carnation Revolution, the so-called “Retornados”

The fate of the colonies briefly:

1- Angola: estimated casualties during 13 year war against Portugal was in the 30-50k range (with 3k Portuguese), the war effectively over by ’74.  Following Portuguese evacuation it erupted in a 26 YEAR (!) clusterfuck of a civil war between UNITA/FNLA and MPLA and virtually every foreign power imaginable (Cuba, South Africa, Soviet Union, China, US, UN) with an estimated over 500k (!) civilian casualties, the displacement of over 1/3 of the population (4.5 MIO people) and the conflict spilling over into the Congo Civil War involving child soldiers, blood diamonds, mass spread of aids and all manner of horror.  Billions spent in aid by the Western powers and the UN in those decades did not stop the nation in 2003 from having 80% of Angolans lacking basic medical care, 30% of children dying before the age of 5 and a national life expectancy lower than 40 (est 2003 gdp per capita, 800 USD, since then catching up a bit with oil and commodity boom to 5k per capita).  Of course this was all worth it for a glorious democracy in which the President  has been in power since 1979.

2- Mozambique: estimated 50k casualties during independence war (which remember had effectively ended by ’74), erupted in a 15 year civil war following Portuguese evacuation between different factions.  Casualties?  1 MILLION including a mass famine, displacement of five million civilians, total destruction of the nation’s economy and infrastructure and mass use of landmines causing problems to this day.  Large scale nationalizations, expropriations, government planning, debt and inflation further wrecked the economy with GDP per capita hit a low of about 100 USD (per year!) in the mid 90s and though to be fair it has since had a glorious recovery to 600 USD in 2013.  Progress!

3- Guinea: roughly 5k civilian casualties in the independence war (3k Portuguese).  As discussed following Portuguese evacuation the Guinean president/dictator Cabral exacted retribution on over 7k soldiers who had fought for the enemy and buried them in mass graves.  His successor via coup Vieira (and self dubbed “God’s gift to Guinea”, seriously) would be briefly ousted in a civil war in the late 90s with 500k displaced and 1k casualties, which by African standards is pretty damn good.  The economy of course is a total disaster, GDP per capita currently USD 500 (fun fact, it takes 233 days to start a new business in Guinea, second most in the world! come invest!) and basically started using a French backed-currency to stabilize its economy.  70% of the population lives in extreme poverty, but on the bright side they have very low carbon emissions.  You’re welcome Gaia!

4- East Timor: my bad. We totally skipped little Timor in our above analysis, in truth because well, nothing really happened.  Unlike Indian exclaves they were not invaded during Portuguese rule nor was there a fun commie/UN backed insurgency worthy of mention (no Fretilin doesn’t really count).  If anything the Timorese were happy to have their Portuguese overlords back following Japanese occupation during WW2 that killed over 50k of them. Portugal had ruled the Eastern half of the island for 300 years, and with the exception of a revolt in early 20th century that cost 3k lives well, Timorese history is one of colonial boredom.  Following Portugal’s withdrawal though a brief civil war broke out to spice things up, and the Indonesians invaded 9 days after their declaration of independence.  The death toll was roughly 150k out of 800k, not quite Crimson Cambodian levels but a worthy effort nonetheless. Following acquisition of “Western darling” status the Indonesian withdrew in 1999 and the UN ran it as a colony until granting it “independence” in 2002.  I for one hope after all that excitement and international attention they can get some boredom back, but let’s not hold our breath.

CONCLUSION- Which brings us to the end of this overly long and sad tale.  The main historical lesson to draw from this as a NRx is to never give in to the Left on principle.  As a strategic withdrawal yes there may be times where that is necessary (or geopolitical reality dictating that Goa was untenable), but never, NEVER out of a conviction that “progress” is inevitable or resistance futile. The fall of the Estado Novo regime, largely self-caused though certainly with a prog push, led to millions of casualties in Africa in a totally predictable manner, economic crisis in Portugal, and the end of Portuguese as a unique or sovereign state as it converted into yet another prog suzerainty “social democracy” (and narrowly avoided a worse fate).  The Carnation Revolution also had a direct impact on events in their Iberian neighbors the following year.

Whether Portugal could have continued holding onto its empire in the face of what would be increasing prog resistance is debatable, especially following the end of the Cold War, though certainly possible and especially so if Rhodesia and South Africa survived.  The real problem in my eyes would be how to handle an African demographic explosion, something the progs seem unable to have an answer for.  But that is a topic for another day.

A new world Silo Wool part 3 (spoilers)

“In 2007, the Center for Automation in Nanobiotech (CAN) outlined the hardware and software platforms that would one day allow robots smaller than human cells to make medical diagnoses, conduct repairs, and even self-propagate.
That same year, CBS re-aired a program about the effects of propranolol on sufferers of extreme trauma. A simple pill, it had been discovered, could wipe out the memory of any traumatic event.

At almost the same moment in humanity’s broad history, mankind had discovered the means for bringing about its utter downfall. And the ability to forget it ever happened.”

Excerpt From: Hugh Howey. “First Shift – Legacy.

In Shift, the prequel to Wool, we see the events that led to the creation of the Silos and the apocalyptic wasteland above. At some point in the recognizable near future (2049 to be exact) we see the (new) protagonist Donald meeting with Senator Thurman, basically a symbol for the power behind the throne, the one who gets things done.  The name Thurman of course meaning “protector” or “guardian”, attached to “Thor”, God of thunder but also protector of mankind.  The Senator (as he is often referred to) has a cynical (realistic) view on human nature and a willingness to entertain any means for a particular end. His ultimate goal:  save the species and civilization in the long run.  Certainly a Good.  Perhaps the ultimate one in a non-theological sense.

Here is The Senator talking to Donald about the costs of space travel:

“In fact, why do you think those eggheads are always dreaming of colonizing some other planet? You have any idea what would be involved? It’s ludicrous. Not cost-effective.”

Donald shrugged. He didn’t think it was ludicrous. He twisted the cap back onto his water. “It’s in our nature to dream of open space,” he said. “To find room to spread out in. Isn’t that how we ended up here?”

 “Here? In America?” The Senator laughed. “We didn’t come here and find open space. We got a bunch of people sick, killed them, and made space.” Thurman pointed at the folder. “Which brings me to this. I’ve got something I’d like you to work on.”

What Thurman is working is of course what will eventually become the Silos.  Under the guise of constructing a large “Containment and Disposal Facility” Thurman has gained the funds for a huge construction project that will house the remnants of mankind through the coming time.  He is able to pull this off via his power, connections (military, political and civil), and compartmentalizing the project so only a select few know of its real purpose.  To the rest it is simply a rather wasteful pork project to create some jobs to house nuclear waste.

Years later, the construction project well underway, Donald meets Thurman at a hospital in a Nano tank, a facility where a person enters a large cylindrical container the size of a small room and spends a day in there as the nanobots “fix” their body from all damage.  Effectively, an anti-aging room in many ways, or Aubrey De Grey‘s wet dream.  The nanobots enter the body and are programmed to shut down after a specific period of time after which the body just naturally urinates them.  The person being treated doesn’t feel anything other than a slight metallic taste in their mouths, and, well, effectively living forever.  But to light a candle is to cast a shadow:

“You see, you can’t make something for good without someone else figuring out all the bad it can do.”
Senator Thurman released the invisible pinch and studied the pad of his thumb for a moment. He blew a puff of air across it. “Anything these puppies can stitch, they can unstitch.”
He peered across the pod at Donald. “You know why we went into Iran the first time? It wasn’t about nukes, I’ll tell you that. I crawled through every hole that’s ever been dug in those dunes over there, and those rats had a bigger prize they were chasing than nukes. You see, they’ve figured out how to attack us without being seen, without having to blow themselves up, and with zero repercussions.”
Donald was pretty sure he didn’t have the clearance to hear any of this.

“Well, the Iranians didn’t figure it out for themselves so much as steal what Israel was working on.” He smiled at Donald. “So, of course, we had to start playing catch-up.”
“I don’t understa—”
“These critters in here are programmed for my DNA, Donny. Think about that. Have you ever had your ancestry tested?” He looked Donald up and down like he was surveying a mottled mutt. “What are you, anyway? Scottish?”

 “Maybe Irish, sir. I honestly couldn’t tell you.” He didn’t want to admit that it was unimportant to him; it seemed like a topic Thurman was anything but apathetic about.”

“Well, these buggers can tell. If they ever get them perfected, that is. They could tell you what clan you came from. And that’s what those crazy Iranians are working on: a weapon you can’t see, that you can’t stop, and if it decides you’re Jewish, even a quarter Jew—” Thurman drew his thumb across his own neck.
“I thought we were wrong about that. We never found any NBs in Iran.”
“That’s because they self-destructed. Remotely. Poof.” The old man’s eyes widened.
Donald laughed. “You sound like one of those conspiracy theorists—”
Senator Thurman leaned back and rested his head against the wall. “Donny, the conspiracy theorists sound like us.”

The book’s suspension of disbelief is not that large.  If we accept the premise of the successful development of nanotechnology over the coming decades then something along the lines of what is described is a very credible threat.  An invisible enemy that is almost impossible to combat.  And we eventually find out, and the problem Thurman set out solve, is that the enemy is already amongst us:

“He gave me this to read.”
Helen frowned. “What is that?”
“It’s like an instruction manual for the—well, for the after. I think.”
Helen got up from the recliner and stepped between him and the coffee table. She nudged Karma out of the way, the dog grunting at being disturbed. Sitting down beside him, she put a hand on his back, her eyes shiny with worry.
“Donny, were you drinking on the plane?”
“No.” He pulled away. “Dammit baby, listen to me. It doesn’t matter who has them, it only matters when. Don’t you see? This is the ultimate threat. A world-ender. I’ve been reading about the possibilities on this website—”
“A website,” she said, voice flat with skepticism.
“Yeah. Listen. Remember those treatments the Senator takes? These nanos are like synthetic life. Imagine if someone turned them into a virus that didn’t care about its host, that didn’t need us in order to spread. They could be out there already—” He tapped his chest, glanced around the room suspiciously, took a deep breath. “They could be in every one of us right now, little timer circuits waiting for the right moment—”

“Very bad people are working on this, trying to make this happen.” He reached for his glass. “We can’t sit back and let them strike first. We can’t let them strike first. So we’re gonna do it.” There were ripples in the liquor. His hand was shaking. “God, baby, I’m pretty sure we’re gonna do it before they can—”
“You’re scaring me, honey—”


“I’m starting to think we’re building them, too. Tiny machines, just like the ones in the nanobaths that stitch up people’s skin and joints, only these would tear people down. And they would be able to unstitch anything.”

“I’m telling you they’re real,” he said, unable to stop himself. “They’ll be able to reproduce. They’ll be invisible. There won’t be any warning when they’re set loose, just dust in the breeze, okay? Reproducing and reproducing, this invisible war will wage itself all around us while we’re turned to mush.”

That’s the threat Thurman is up against.  And this is where the NRx analysis comes into play.  Thurman is not constrained by petty simplistic morality.  He has a problem and he has a solution, perhaps the only real one possible.  A final solution if you will.  The problem is a hypothetical attack at any point in the future by an invisible enemy against any people’s not their own.  The tool for that purpose may already be amongst us, invisible nanos in our bodies and air.  Just waiting for a trigger, for someone to give the go-ahead.  And like that we will all be wiped out.  And with no way of realistically stopping it.  And the response by the US (if in time) in retaliating with nanos as well to destroy the enemy would together mean a total end to mankind and its legacy on this planet.  All humans dead with nanobots scouring the Earth replicating and searching for any human DNA to destroy.

Thurman’s plan is to strike first.  But to do so means wiping out the human race. To prevent that Thurman creates the Silos.  He conveniently hosts the DNC on the project grounds, using all his political capital to make it happen.  And then stages a nuclear attack on Atlanta on the horizon to get the carefully chosen delegates and guests to run for cover in the Silos to avoid nuclear fallout.  Following that, the nanoweapon is presumably unleashed on EVERYONE above ground.  The entire human race with the exception of those in the Silos is destroyed.  Those in the Silos are given medication to make them forget the past, except for a few in Silo 1, the command Silos.  Each Silo is made to think that it and only it is all that exists.  The past is erased.  And mankind is, for lack of a better word, rebooted.

“Some of us remember,” the doctor said, “because we know this isn’t a bad thing we’ve done.” He frowned as he helped Troy onto the gurney. He seemed truly sad about Troy’s condition. “We’re doing good work, here,” he said. “We’re saving the world, not ending it. And the medicine only touches our regrets.” He glanced up. “Some of us don’t have any.”
The plan is to have all fifty Silos carefully monitored by IT in each Silo, coordinated with the head Silo, Silo 1.  The population of Silo 1 is limited, a few hundred tops, as its purpose is not as an ark for the future but rather to monitor and guide the other Silos (without their knowledge).  Silo 1 is run as a military facility.  Meanwhile, in the other Silos, population is strictly controlled (due to very real Malthusian conditions) by the mandatory implementation of birth control on all females.  A lottery picks those who will be allowed to breed.  And since the lottery is managed by IT’s systems, you have the perfect conditions to select for whatever genetic characteristics you choose.  The book of course paints this in the obligatory cliche progressive view of “horrible”, but it’s really quite common sense if you are in that situation.  With limited resources population control is a necessity.  And guiding the genetic process allows for the selection of traits most likely to succeed in the world after the Silo.

Because that is Thurman’s ultimate goal.  To save mankind from itself.  The populations will be kept in their respective Silos for 500 years.  Throughout Silo 1 will (secretly) be guiding their evolution and monitoring them, eliminating Silo’s that rebel or present a threat.  The IT of each Silo will manage said Silo, with ultimate authority to manipulate procedural outcomes, unbeknownst to the population at large.  The inhabitants of Silo 1 work in shifts, with cryogenic technology + nanobot recovery allowing them to sleep for years or decades at a time in different Shifts (hence the title of the book).  The nanobot war on the surface will have long since ended and the surface will have been clean for generations at that point.  The immediate area surrounding the Silos is still full of nanobots in a large dome as it were, but this is due to Silo 1 continually releasing new destructive nanos to keep the populations scared of the outside world (through witnessing the deaths of cleaners) and within their respective Silos (and not knowing the past or anything else).  The rest of the planet will be (free of humans) land for survivors to repopulate.

When the 500 years are up Silo 1’s analysts and computers will determine which Silo has “progressed” the most according to their metrics for potential long term survival (presumably involving many factors such as avg iq, cooperation, social trust, empathy, etc.).  That Silo will be released along a long subterranean path to the surface outside the nano-dome (which will gradually dissipate in time), where equipment to begin a new civilization will be available.  Fertilizer, seeds of various kinds, tools, maps, etc.  And above all, the Legacy:  the preserved history of man (that was viewed as advantageous to preserve) that will be carried forth.

The remaining unselected Silos (including Silo 1 and Thurman himself) will be destroyed, having been built with explosives to destroy the top floor and that collapsing all the way to the bottom to wipe it all out.  490k will die, 10k selected to be the future of mankind will live.  Why only allow one Silo to live to colonize the (now new) world?  Because the point was to create one (guided) culture to rule to world.  Starting the world anew with 50 different peoples likely with different loyalties makes no sense and is a recipe for disaster.  And having killed 7 billion people, what’s another 490k to increase odds of success.

Do the math on how quickly (especially with modern technology) 10k people can repopulate the empty planet.  It would take 1-2k years if not less.  A blink of an eye.  Exponential growth is an incredible thing.

From a species’ standpoint, Thurman’s plan is to take a world of mutual hatreds and distrust and now equipped apocalyptic technology, and replace it with one carefully selected biological and cultural people.  It’s possible in time the new rivalries and destructive capabilities will emerge.  But ultimately this is a game of odds.  Thurman’s actions, which if successful really only “cost” us 2k years or so before a new repopulated world emerges, have been to take a world likely to destroy itself and replace it with one less likely to.  The ultimate problem, extinction, requires an Alexandrian solution.

We’ve seen a similar solution in a different medium before, albeit for much lower stakes.  Most readers will of course be horrified by the Wool series’s backdrop and what Thurman did.  Compared to a Total Reboot, what is a Mao or Stalin or a Tamerlane?  Irrelevant.  BUT… if Thurman’s judgement was correct regarding the respective probabilities of survival…. I am hardpressed from a NRx standpoint to fault him for his actions.  The new society will be unified, virile, capable of wondrous feats, with a far brighter future before it than that doomed civilization which it replaced.  Perhaps it will be able to transcend the bounds of Earth before falling to apocalyptic war, diversifying the species’ assets and ensuring our survival and continuation into the far great beyond.

It is the ultimate in whiggish history to assume that somehow things will work out for the best, that the linear progression of history will inevitably be upwards and forwards toward a brighter future.  It takes a Dark Enlightenment to understand that for mankind not all roads lead toward the light; some lead downwards towards darkness, others toward extinction.  And it is incumbent upon those of us who would carry the fire to not shirk from our duty when the time comes, however hard the task may be.

I heartily recommend the Wool series, if only to come face to face with this scenario in a very well created world. Though the ultimate conclusion is rather flawed, the story still holds together quite strongly.  I for one would add it to my recommended NRx-themed literary fictional canon.

Reboot the world: Silo/Wool 2 (spoilers)


This will include spoilers of the Wool/Silo series.  I can’t emphasize enough how much more fun and impactful the books are if you read them without knowing, so only read ahead if you’re fairly sure you won’t be reading them.


As discussed before, the setting of the book occurs in a silo mostly underground.  What’s left of mankind is living there for several generations with no memory of their history or world above… as far as they know, the silo is the world and all that has ever been. The top floor of the silo is on ground level, with a view to the apocalyptic wasteland around.  In the distance one can see destroyed ruins of what may have been a city.  The view is from a camera located outside.  There is a religious ritual called “cleaning” in a which a person doomed to death leaves the silo to clean the camera so as to allow those within a better view of the world outside.  For some unknown reason, everyone who leaves, even those promising to not clean, end up doing so.  They die soon after, their bodies littering the landscape in front of the camera, dozens if not hundreds now accumulated over the years.

The society in the Silo is described quite well.  Powered by natural resources acquired by digging down and a generator, growing their own food via UV light and extensive hydroponics, developing their own society.  The politics of the Silo is fascinating.  A Mayor is elected by the inhabitants, and a Sheriff appointed for day to day law and order.  But there is also an all-powerful IT department that we slowly find out is the real power in the Silo.  As far as the average citizen is concerned, the Mayor runs things.  But to those in the know, the IT department holds the power and they seem to know more about the Silo than they let on.  They also select their own successors, and are effectively not beholden to any form of democratic check.  On occasion, every 60-100 years or so, a rebellion occurs against the powers that be, an Uprising, and it is violently put down.  Little memory remains of the last one.

Juliette is a mechanic and main protagonist, who through a series of events comes to be Sheriff and eventually targeted by the Head of IT as troublesome.  The process through which she slowly learns the truth of the Silo is fascinating, as are the reveals to us the reader, and their not too subtle symbolism to our society.

For instance, the Silo is governed by “The Pact”, written in time immemorial to govern its inhabitants.  No one really remembers who wrote it (except of course, IT):

“The silo made less sense. It hadn’t been created by a God—it was probably designed by IT. This was a new theory, but she felt more and more sure of it. They controlled all the important parts. Cleaning was the highest law and the deepest religion, and both of these were intertwined and housed within its secretive walls. And then there was the spacing from Mechanical and the spread of the deputy stations—more clues. Not to mention the clauses in the Pact, which practically granted them immunity.”

Huh.  A real government behind the nominal government, that holds the real power for its own purposes.  Starting to sound familiar to the neoreactionaries out there?

More is revealed when the Head of IT is training his eventual successor.  A thick manual is revealed, titled THE ORDER, with precise instructions on what to do in case of virtually anything:

“You’ll want to familiarize yourself with this.” Bernard gestured toward a small desk which had a fragile-

looking wooden chair tucked up against it. There was a book on the desk unlike any Lukas had ever seen, or even heard of. It stood nearly as high as it was wide. Bernard patted the cover, then inspected his palm for dust. “I’ll give you the spare key, which you are to never remove from your neck. Come down when you can and read. Our history is in here, as well as every action you are to take in any emergency.”

Lukas approached the book, a lifetime’s worth of paper, and hinged open the cover. The contents were machine printed, the ink pitch-black. He flipped through a dozen pages of listed contents until he found the first

page of the body. Oddly, he recognized the opening lines immediately.

“It’s the Pact,” he said, looking up at Bernard. “I already know quite a bit of—”

“This is the pact,” Bernard told him, pinching the first half inch of the thick book. “The rest is the Order.”

He stepped back.

Lukas hesitated, digesting this, then reached forward and flopped the tome open near its middle.

• In the event of an earthquake:
• For casement cracking and outside seepage, turn to AIRLOCK BREACH (p.2180)
• For collapse of one or more levels, see SUPORT COLUMNS under SABOTAGE (p.751)
• For fire outbreak, see—

“Sabotage?” Lukas flipped a few pages and read something about air handling and asphyxiation. “Who came up with all this stuff?”

“People who have experienced many bad things.”

“Like . . . ?” He wasn’t sure if he was allowed to say this, but it felt like taboos weren’t allowed down there. “Like the people before the uprising?”

“The people before those people,” Bernard said. “The one people.”

Tantalizing, no?  Later, following a renewed rebellion, Lukas (the apprentice) has his training sped up.  He learns that the Order is meant to protect the Legacy, the history of the world before. The history the powers that created the Silo think best to conserve that is, for the future.

Lukas pinched a thick chunk of the Order and flopped it to the side. He skipped past all the recipes for averting silo disasters and checked out some of the more academic reference material toward the back. This stuff was even more frightening: chapters on group persuasion, on mind-control, on the effects of fear on upbringing, graphs and tables dealing with population growth—

He couldn’t take it. He adjusted his chair and watched Bernard for a while as the head of IT and acting Mayor scrolled through screen after screen of text, his head notching back and forth as he scanned the words there.

After a moment, Lukas dared to break the silence:

“Hey, Bernard?”


“Hey, why isn’t there anything in here about how all this came to be?”

Bernard’s office chair squealed as he swiveled it around to face Lukas. “I’m sorry, what?”

“The people who made all this, the people who wrote these books. Why isn’t there anything in the Order about them? Like how they built all this stuff in the first place.”

“Why would there be?” Bernard half turned back to his computer.

“So we would know. I dunno, like all the stuff in the other books—”

“I don’t want you reading those other books. Not yet.” Bernard pointed to the wooden desk. “Learn the Order first. If you can’t keep the silo together, the Legacy books are pulp. They’re as good as processed wood if no one’s around to read them.”

“Nobody can read them but the two of us if they stay locked up down here—”

“No one alive. Not today. But one day, there’ll be plenty of people who’ll read them. But only if you

study.” Bernard nodded toward the thick and dreadful book before turning back to his keyboard and reaching for his mouse.

Lukas sat there a while, staring at Bernard’s back, the knotted cord of his master keys sticking out of the top of his undershirt.

“I figure they must’ve known it was coming,” Lukas said, unable to stop himself from perseverating about it.

He had always wondered about these things, had suppressed them, had found his thrills in piecing together the distant stars that were so far away as to be immune to the hillside taboos. And now he lived in this vacuum, this hollow of the silo no one knew about where forbidden topics didn’t dare tread and he had access to a man who seemed to know the precious truth.

“You aren’t studying,” Bernard said. His head remained bent over his keyboard, but he seemed to know Lukas was watching him.

“But they had to’ve seen it coming, right?” Lukas lifted his chair and turned it around a little more. “I mean, to have built all these silos before it got so bad out there —”

Bernard turned his head to the side, his jaw clenching and unclenching. His hand fell away from the mouse and

came up to smooth his mustache. “These are the things you want to know? How it happened?”

“Yes.” Lukas nodded. He leaned forward, elbows on his knees. “I want to know.”

“Do you think it matters? What happened out there?” Bernard turned and looked up at the schematics on the wall, then at Lukas. “Why would it matter?”

“Because it happened. And it only happened one way, and it kills me not to know. I mean, they saw it coming, right? It would take years to build all—”

“Decades,” Bernard said.
“And then move all this stuff in, all the people—” “That took much less time.”

“So you know?”
Bernard nodded. “The information is stored here, but

not in any of the books. And you’re wrong. It doesn’t matter. That’s the past, and the past is not the same thing as our legacy. You’ll need to learn the difference.”

“The difference between our past and our legacy.”

“Hm.” Bernard nodded. He seemed to be waiting on something.

Lukas thought about the difference. For some reason, a conversation with Juliette sprang to mind, something she was forever telling him—

“I think I know,” he said.
“Oh?” Bernard pushed his glasses up his nose and

stared at him. “Tell me what you think you know.” “All our hope, the accomplishments of those before us,

what the world can be like, that’s our Legacy.”

Bernard’s lips broke into a smile. He waved his hand to continue.

“And the bad things that can’t be stopped, the mistakes that got us here, that’s the past.”

“And what does this difference mean? What do you think it means?”

“It means we can’t change what’s already happened, but we can have an impact on what happens next.”

Bernard clapped his small hands together. “Very good.”

“And this—” Lukas turned and rested one hand on the thick book. He continued, unbidden, “—the Order.

This is a roadmap for how to get through all the bad that’s piled up between our past and the future’s hope. This is the stuff we can prevent, that we can fix.”

The silo can best be thought of as a ship, only instead of taking people safely from one location to another it is taking them from one point in time to another, hundreds of years later, to survive a catastrophe that has afflicted the Earth.  For the greater good.  And to survive such an extended journey in a very unnatural and cramped environment, strict control has to be exercised for the greater good.  The illusion of elections and controls helps keep the population in line, but IT is there to manage the real problems.  And people having knowledge of all this would only lead to problems so it is better that they don’t, that a religion is developed to keep them in line, believing the Silo is the world and their day-to-day lives have meaning when they are really just seeds for the future.

The people know what they need to know, and those in charge know what they need to know.  And we eventually find out a big secret:  there is not just one Silo.  There are many.  Run by another silo, Silo 1, without an extend population.   A silo built solely for IT, for those controlling the other Silos.  The ultimate power.  And they must approve of the IT selections of every individual Silo.  And the only people who know this are IT.  For it would not benefit the people of the Silo to know of other Silos… it would only confuse them.

They communicate via a system of phones to the IT departments of each respective Silo.  And the initiation ceremony of Lukas is both terrifying and revealing:

“What is your primary duty to the silo?”

Bernard had prepped him on likely questions.

“To maintain the Order.”

Silence. No feedback, no sense if he was right or wrong.

“What do you protect above all?”

The voice was flat and yet powerfully serious. Dire and somehow calm. Lukas felt his mouth go dry.

“Life and Legacy,” he recited. But it felt wrong, this rote façade of knowledge. He wanted to go into detail, to let this voice, like a strong and sober father, understand that he knew why this was important. He wasn’t dumb. He had more to say than memorized facts —

“What does it take to protect these things we hold so dear?”

He paused.

“It takes sacrifice,” Lukas whispered. He thought of Juliette—and the calm demeanor he was projecting for Bernard nearly crumbled. There were some things he wasn’t sure about, things he didn’t understand. This was one of them. It felt like a lie, his answer. He wasn’t sure the sacrifice was worth it, the danger so great that they had to let people, good people, go to their—

If anything is worth defending, worth the sacrifice, it is human civilization.  The future.  But the next reveal is jaw-dropping:

“You are next in line for the control and operation of silo eighteen,” the voice intoned.

“Thank you sir.”

Lukas reached for the headphones, was preparing to take them off and hand them to Bernard in case he needed to say something, to hear that it was official.

“Do you know the worst part of my job?” the hollow voice asked.

Lukas dropped his hands.

“What’s that, sir?”

“Standing here, looking at a silo on this map, and drawing a red cross through it. Can you imagine what that feels like?”

Lukas shook his head. “I can’t, sir.”

“It feels like a parent losing thousands of children, all at once.”

A pause.
“You will have to be cruel to your children to not lose them.”

Lukas thought of his father.


“Welcome to Operation Fifty of the World Order, Lukas Kyle. Now, if you have a question or two, I have the time to answer, but briefly.”

Lukas wanted to say that he had no questions; he wanted to get off the line; he wanted to call and speak with Juliette, to feel a puff of sanity breathed into this crazy and suffocating room. But he remembered what Bernard had taught him about admitting ignorance, how this was the key to knowledge.

“Just one, sir. And I’ve been told it isn’t important, and I understand why that’s true, but I believe it will make my job here easier if I know.”

He paused for a response, but the voice seemed to be waiting for him to get to the question.

Lukas cleared his throat. “Is there—?” He pinched the mic and moved it closer to his lips, glanced at Bernard. “How did this all begin?”

He wasn’t sure—it could have been a fan on the server whirring to life—but he thought he heard the man with the deep voice sigh.

“How badly do you wish to know?”

Lukas feared answering this question honestly. “It isn’t crucial,” he said, “but I would appreciate a sense of what we’re accomplishing, what we survived. It feels like it gives me—gives us a purpose, you know?”

“The reason is the purpose,” the man said cryptically. “Before I tell you, I’d like to hear what you think.”

Lukas swallowed. “What I think?”
“Everyone has ideas. Are you suggesting you don’t?” A hint of humor could be heard in that hollow voice.

“I think it was something we saw coming,” Lukas said. He watched Bernard, who frowned and looked away.

“That’s one possibility.”

Bernard removed his glasses and began wiping them on the sleeve of his undershirt, his eyes at his feet.

“Consider this—” The deep voice paused. “What if I told you that there were only fifty silos in all the world, and that here we are in this infinitely small corner of it.”

Lukas thought about this. It felt like another test.

“I would say that we were the only ones—” He almost said that they were the only ones with the resources, but

he’d seen enough in the Legacy to know this wasn’t true. Many parts of the world had buildings rising above their hills. Many more could have been prepared. “I’d say we were the only ones whoknew,” Lukas suggested.

“Very good. And why might that be?”

He hated this. He didn’t want to puzzle it out, he just wanted to be told.

And then, like a cable splicing together, like electricity zipping through connections for the very first time, the truth hit him.

“It’s because—” He tried to make sense of this answer in his head, tried to imagine that such an idea could possibly verge on truth.

“It’s not because we knew,” Lukas said, sucking in a gasp of air. “It’s because we did it.”

“Yes,” the voice said. “And now you know.”

They did it.  They wiped out the world. All of it.  All of human civilization has been wiped out other than 50 Silos holding 250k-500k people total.  An ark for the future.  And the people behind the project, World Order Operation Fifty (W O O L) did it.  They pushed the button.  They hit the reboot.  The most horrific act of genocide in the history of mankind.  What could possibly justify this?  The deaths of over 7 billion people.   And for what purpose?

The reset button: Wool/Silo series

aka World Order Operation Fifty.

The prophet has different plans for taking out the USG and Cathedral.  Some involve game changing technological/sociological advances like secession/cryptography/seasteading.  Others have to do with setting up a rival to the Cathedral that would take over via increased perceived legitimacy.

My favorites though are the ones involving outright taking over of power and hitting the reset button.  These usually take the outright seizing of sovereign power according to some program.  There is historical precedent which is both criticized for being unrealistic and yet viewed as possible with modifications (some Party attaining victory with exclusive goal of completely reorganizing govt as we know it along reactionary lines, whether absolute monarchy or neocameralism).

And of course, the most straightforward and time tested one of all:  the military coup.  The problem with the military coup is that while it is possible quite easily if enough of the upper echelons of the military agree to it, the conditions for that to happen require the almost total loss of civilization first.  And the more loyal and used to civilian leadership the armed forces are, the worst said conditions have to be before they step in.  The Anglo-Saxon world such as it is is not Brazil or even France.  Imagining how bad the economy/social breakdown would have to be before they decide to say enough is a frightening thought experiment indeed.

There is something to post-apocalyptic fiction that naturally makes it beholden to reactionaries.  And so your author was quite pleasantly surprised indeed to come across the Silo series.

Wool begins the series.  The basic gist is that for some unknown reason all that remains of our species lives within a silo underground.  Why?  What happened?  Why can no on remember?  You know what, just read the following nine pages excerpt free online.

Have you read it?

Good stuff, right?  Gripping?  How bleak an ending was that?  While not incredibly original, the execution is quite flawless for those 9 pages and for most of the first book.  The mystery of what happened, who knows/who doesn’t, and above all WHY.

The first two books, Wool and Shift, are very good.  Wool sets the stage and the world, and Shift explains what happened and how we got there. Sadly, the conclusion, Dust, left much to be desired of, sinking to some basic cliches (in particular a very stupid shoehorned religious angle).  But the first two are gripping page turners of a dark world.  And the gradual revelation of what happened and why is as NRx as any I have read.

I will in short order write a separate post discussing it in more detail, but it will be filled with spoilers.  My recommendation?  Buy (or just dl the books online, the author is on the record saying he’s ok with this) the books and enjoy the mystery and reveal for yourselves.  And then come back to discuss the implications.

Political Officer

Someone I know worked for a number of years at one of the top investment banks in the world.  This was pre-2008.  He had a value seat on a trading floor under one of the top producers of that firm; basically one of the top traders on Wall Street.  On said trading desk and on the sales desk linked to it were several very high ranking members of the bank, some of whom would go on to senior management positions.

To the extent finance is an army, this was the special forces.  The allocation of billions of USD (and other currencies) worth of capital was determined by the choices made by those individuals. Some economic systems have bureaucrats and well, it usually doesn’t pan out so well.  Capitalism, while certainly not perfect, has these voracious workaholics who ruthlessly chase profit (economic efficiency) like prepubescent males after porn

However, said efficient operators are not left to play their games alone.  Upon rewatching for the umpteenth time the glory that is Sean Connery’s accent in a certain movie, I realized we have a very clear parallel here.  The exact same function played by the political officers in the Soviet Army is that played by HR in corporate america.  They supervise, monitor, chastise, admonish, control, and punish the economic operators who manage the wealth on which the power of the West relies while maintaining a stricter ideological straightjacket than a radical communist could dream of.  Since wealth can lead to political power, Inner Party members must be strictly monitored for deviant thinking.  

And you’d be surprised how spending 12 hours a day 5-6 days a week strictly monitoring what you say/write easily becomes internalized.  This of course after the cursory k-12 years of education, 4 years at an Ivy, and often an MBA/JD/etc.  One’s social circles commonly involves true believers, and a simple comment/joke/email out of line can ruin a career.  Wearing a PC mask all day, and sometimes all night, one finds one’s mask becomes one’s face.

Which brings us to the personal connection at the belly of the beast.  Working on an international desk, our acquaintance witnessed the following spectacle:  One of the top traders at the firm laughed at a joke over the speaker by a colleague abroad, involving the spanish word for gay/faggot.  In that language and culture they have not yet reached the level of enlightenment the anglo world has, but give them time.  Unfortunately for our Master of the Universe a member of the new aristocracy took umbrage at said outrage and brought the issue to the attention of the political commissars.

And thus the spectacle occurred of a high ranking member of the econ elite having to kowtow to an infected aristocrat for violating the religious mores of society.  Only after a public apology/humiliation in front of the high priest was our Paul Allen spared the loss of job, status and prestige.  Never was a more clear example made of power over money.  

The system worked.  And all who witnessed it loved Big Brother a little more.

Humans need not apply

“First they came for the horses, and I did not speak out- 
because I was not a horse.”  – Skynet wins poetry contest on subject of humans in 100 years (closest contender)

Say what you will about progs, but they occasionally really “get it.”  Their proposed solutions of course are hilarious (none in that video as pointing to a problem is far less divisive than attempting to solve it).  

At some point though we as a society (or rather, those who run it) will have to make a decision with regards to what to do with those who are superfluous.  A few come to mind, undoubtedly less entertaining than watching them burn down their own neighborhoods, but probably more efficient.  Maybe the owners of capital can truly come into their own (excellent read and a subject for another day):

“Rather graciously because it delights them and puts them into good spirits; for those who are cruel enjoy the highest gratification of the feeling of power.”

Some form of sterilization of the lower orders is long overdue.  Perhaps a guaranteed life income of 1k USD a month in exchange for permanent sterilization at age 18.  Or 16 the way things are headed.  The type of person willing to take that deal is probably the type you want taking it.

Of course, the “what to do” is trivial relative to the “how to get it done.”  One thing is for certain:  that which cannot go on forever… will not.

Regardless, this is at best a temporary solution for the lower orders.  As automation climbs the job ladders, those now enacting the solution may soon find themselves being enacted upon.  And, whether voluntary or not, let us not forget the fate of the Solarians.