Elections, pop culture and the future of Hawaii democracy: An exclusive interview with D.M.J Aurini
BY DANNY DE GRACIA III - As a special exclusive to Hawaii Reporter readers, I interviewed YouTube social media sensation and author of the new post-apocalyptic thriller As I Walk These Broken Roads.
Commenting on generational dynamics, elections, the decline of the West and more, Aurini is one of YouTube’s most preeminent video bloggers and a personality you won’t want to miss.
Here now is a transcript of our exclusive HR interview, with light edits:
Danny de Gracia: Let’s start out with introductions. You’re former Canadian military infantry, a history alum of the prestigious McMaster University, a popular YouTube commentator and now a new author of the post-apocalyptic thriller As I Walk These Broken Roads. For the benefit of your first-time Hawaii readers and video viewers, tell us a little bit about yourself and your new book.
D.M.J. Aurini: You covered the major bullet points. It certainly isn’t your standard career path, and I can’t say I’d recommend it to most people; for one thing, “infantry soldier” doesn’t have much demand outside of the military, and we all know how dumbed down the Humanities Departments have become – heck, you can get a better education over at Khan Academy - for free, no less!
That’s to say I regret it, however. Understanding history is absolutely critical for understanding the present, and I was lucky enough to have a couple of throwback professors who actually taught us scholarship, not the institutional Pablum most courses offer. I owe those guys a lot, especially for their insightful ways of analyzing the intersection of technology and societies, especially social technologies like Property Law. They were head and shoulders above the ‘storytelling’ that most profs settle for.
So that’s the background that went into this novel. The military aspect is obvious – one of the characters is a soldier, after all (I promise, the jargon is kept to a minimum) but as for the historical aspect – well, what I was trying to do was create a world that made sense, one that was believable to a Historian’s eyes. While the novel isn’t a prediction – it’s fiction, after all, where catharsis matters more than accuracy – the rhythms and patterns in Broken Roads are those of real societies. It’s an extrapolation of present day patterns, projected onto the future: what would happen if secular Liberalism took over completely, and destroyed civilization? This is the backdrop and it serves to contrast the protagonists, a pair of men who are capable of critical thinking, of seeing beyond the historical biases they were born into.
Outside of that, when I’m not writing, or researching, or trying to compile enough numbers so that I can speak intelligently about things? I’m out riding my motorcycle during the summer, or hiding in a nice, warm bar and waiting for the winter to pass.
DDG: When I read your book, the sense I got was that this is basically a thinly veiled wake-up call to Western society saying, “Hey, the democratic ‘end of history’ your public school teachers and social workers had trained you to hope for is turning out to be the end of the world instead. Western society is becoming every bit as culturally bankrupt as your governments.” The culture wars have essentially ravaged America and “nuked” the virtue out from top to bottom.
Now those of us who came from earlier generations who know what it’s like to be responsible, proactive, alert, discerning, virtuous and productive members of society are basically scattered survivors in a perpetual state of wandering through the Western wasteland in cognitive dissonance saying “What the heck happened? Who started the ‘war’ and who fired the first shot?” and we’re essentially out of place and a dying breed. Am I on to something here?
Aurini: You nailed it; it really is an allegory for present times, and the challenges the young generations are going to face. The first book is about the personal challenges that the soldier and the mechanic face, but as the series progresses it becomes more and more about the survival of humanity.
Here’s the funny thing about progressives; their “progress” gives us more of the stuff we want, at the cost of the stuff we need. In the fifties people were sexually repressed; nowadays we’re so liberated that families are falling apart and women spend the most fertile years with men who abuse them. In the fifties the poor had to rely on churches for charity; nowadays 42% of the population relies on government support, with no hope for the future. Back then candy was expensive; nowadays it’s cheaper than real food, and we have an obesity epidemic.
And of course there’s the issue of technology.
One of the major themes in the book is how – in the post-apocalyptic world – people don’t know how to rebuild any of the technology they use, and that over the years it’s rusting. Things aren’t so different today. Few people have any idea what goes on inside the black boxes they own, and even worse, most of them aren’t even curious. Back in the fifties young boys had chemistry sets, telescopes, and build-your-own radio kits. Nowadays we have videogames with complex rule systems that require a wiki to understand, but serve no purpose in reality.
Scott Locklin and Jay Teitel have pointed out that our technological progress has stagnated. When you compare the 1850s to the 1900s or the 1900s to the 1950s you see complete revolutions in technology and society: internal combustion engines, heavier than air flight, refrigeration, and antibiotics! But since then? Some refinements, some miniaturization, but nothing new and earth-shattering.
We have tons of technicians, but only scattered scientists. Inventors? Maybe search engines would qualify – but they use Lisp, a computing language invented in the fifties. No one seems to be innovating anymore; just improving last year’s model, slapping on a fresh coat of paint, and telling us we need it to be happy.
In our world, anybody who actually wants to understand how the world works, who wants to build something worthwhile, is just a mad prophet, ever at risk from the angry mob who demands that we all be democratically “equal”…
DDG: Bear with me a moment but I remember a song growing up by the group Whitesnake that goes, “I’m just another heart in need of rescue waiting on love’s sweet charity, and I’m gonna hold on for the rest of my days cause I know what it means to walk along the lonely street of dreams.” That song kinda makes me think of the story in As I Walk These Broken Roads and as one of the final guys from Gen-X it’s sort of an anthem for how I feel about the dysfunctional direction Hawaii and the United States have been going: we’re just a bunch of wandering hearts in need of rescue, hoping that things are going to work out but just pressing on because it’s all we can do right now.
What do you think? How do you feel going about your day to day life, watching the direction society and the people around you are going?
Aurini: The morning after Obama’s reelection, I had Johnny Cash’s “The Man Comes Around” going through my head. I guess I’m just a silly old Austrian, who believes in disproven theories like “You’ll eventually pay for your debts – one way or another,” but if you ask me, it’s a very dark time here in the West.
It’s funny to watch, isn’t it? The party’s going on as if nothing’s changed, even though each round of musical chairs kicks another party-goer into the gutter. Those who remain smile a little harder, bug their eyes out a little more, and chatter about the road to recovery. Standing on the sidelines, there’re plenty of us with solutions – “Stop paying people to be failures!” “Don’t bail out loser corporations!” “Spend within your means!” – but on the rare occasion we’re not outright ignored, we’re viciously attacked with torches and pitchforks.
Everyone wants a hero to save them, but none of them are willing to become that hero.
All our lives we’ve been taught to obey authority or to rebel in the prescribed, socially approved of manner, but not to think, not to act, just to cower and wait for the authorities to arrive.
The musical-chairs zombies – those who’re still playing the game, the ones who’ll eat you if they realize that you’ve got a beating heart – they won’t admit that anything’s going wrong until it completely falls apart. Those of us who notice the problems? Right now is the time for us to start working and planning for a way to fix this mess when it all comes crashing down.
The only real heroes out there are the heroes we become in our own lives.
DDG: I first learned about your commentaries earlier this month on Election Night. I had seen the results of the U.S. Presidential Election which in many ways affected our local races and was just outright disappointed. It wasn’t how I had hoped it would go at all levels of government, national and local. One of my colleagues forwarded me your Election 2012 Recap video and I watched it and I said to myself, “Good grief, now here’s a guy who is saying all the things I’m thinking.” I shared that video with my friends and I said “Watch this and pay attention!”
What’s it like putting together those videos and what got you started on those commentaries? Do the topics just come to you randomly or do you plan those out?
Aurini: Lately a lot of it has been viewer feedback – questions and requests.
But aside from that, it’s hard to explain. I read a lot, tons of different perspectives, and my brain is always playing about with the patterns. Ideas have a certain sort of logic to them, and when I grasp on to a new one I tend to obsess about it, following it to its deepest extremes. Then the idea starts mating with another, and what usually happens is that I’ll stumble upon a book or a blog that crystallizes their progeny into something new.
An idea is nothing more than a model of reality. I’m always trying to improve my modeling software.
DDG: Your videos certainly also attract a lot of rage, particularly from the Left. But when you look at some of these hateful online comments people leave, some of them are really … well, disturbing is one word, stupid is another.
As a political scientist I dabble quite a bit into the multidisciplinary fields of social psychology so when I read things like that I sort of have a microscope in my mind that I put the words under and it seems to me that the Internet, with its relative anonymity allows us to see perfectly what people are really thinking on the inside. These are not vetted, sanitized comments that people make, this is what they really believe. And I just think to myself, “Oh gosh, if this is what people really think on the inside and if this is the attitude of people out there, the Western world is toast! Do we really want people like that voting?”
I mean some of the online comments are absolutely hysterical to read, I find myself laughing at the top of my lungs reading some of them. Maybe a bunch of them writing these things are Millennials, the rest who knows? But the information revolution seems to be making people faster and more efficient at being stupid rather than deeper in wisdom. That’s just my thoughts. Maybe I’m wrong. What do you think?
Aurini: It’s hard to say if there’s more stupidity out there, or if it’s just being given a platform to spout off on; but I’m sure you’ll agree with me that people say a lot of stuff online that they wouldn’t in real life… usually because they’d get bopped in the nose if they acted that rudely.
We’re seeing the ugliest parts of humanity come out in certain places; mobbing/bullying behavior, only with hundreds, instead of dozens. I find it depressing to think about; these hordes of people who enjoy ridiculing and gawking at others out of sheer schadenfreude. I recall a video some years back of a young woman having a bout of diarrhea in a hot tub – the poor girl was mortified. This is the sort of thing that could happen to anybody – in fact, I’ll guarantee it has happened to most of us, only we weren’t in a hot tub, and nobody was filming. But instead of feeling empathy for this girl’s embarrassment, people spread it through social networking sites, laughing at her misfortune.
We’re not talking about the angry kids on 4chan, either – I can at least understand their rage – we’re talking about ‘normal’ people engaged in this bullying behavior. I don’t understand it and it sickens me.
When it comes to political mobbing the style is very similar, and almost exclusively performed by those on the left. Generally what happens is that a popular liberal website will pick the weakest target they can find – a new blog, or a new YouTuber without many subscribers – and then they’ll attack them, ignoring any of the more widely read blogs saying the same thing. What happens next is a flood of personal attacks and comments, false DMCA claims, and threats to report you to your employer; very little of it is rational discourse. I’ve seen a few channels shut down because of that sort of thing.
And let’s not forget the hypocrisy from these paragons of tolerance; feminists in particular are the first ones who’ll accuse you of being a homosexual (this is especially funny when the blogger actually is gay and is open about it).
While this isn’t exclusively a liberal behavior, it is primarily their side that does it, and the reason is rather simple; the liberal and the totalitarian are two sides of the same coin. On the right we mostly just want to be left alone, while the liberal seeks to dominate, to recast us all in their own image; they’re tolerant of everything except intolerance… and intolerance is anything that disagrees with them.
Some people say Ayn Rand wrote cartoony villains; the Internet is showing us that she saw into the liberal soul.
DDG: It seems like being level-headed and reasonable these days is offensive to people. I’m not even talking about political spatial theory, I’m just talking about being a guy who doesn’t rely on other people or government to save him from slipping on random banana peels on the street or doing something that common sense says is stupid.
Today it seems like people love to be in intentional ignorance and persecute discernment and common sense. People just love being helpless these days. Everything today is “Oh no! Such-and-such happened! Government has to save us with a multibillion dollar plan powered by solar panels and staffed unionized workers and if you disagree, you’re a racist!” What do you say? Can you see that?
Aurini: What we’re seeing is the logical conclusions of “equality.” In day to day life, most people don’t believe in equality; this dog’s good at herding, that dog’s good at hunting; this car has better mileage, that one has more storage. We certainly don’t treat our close friends and coworkers with equality – we discriminate! I’ll ask dad to help me with the car, and mom to help me with my cooking. Hire an accountant for this, a lawyer for that.
Remember: the opposite of discriminate is indiscriminate.
And yet in our political lives we worship at the fount of equality; it’s utterly verboten to say that one person is smarter than another, let alone to look at group differences. So when we see someone who is successful and hardworking equality assumes that they were born into it; meanwhile, someone who winds up in prison is a victim of their circumstances. They take something with a kernel of truth, and blow it up into a manifesto.
So in an effort to prove that we’re all equal, we’ve lowered everything to the lowest common denominator. People celebrate their failings and injuries, Oprah puts them on TV, and we reward them with free money. And if you’re one of the people strong enough to stand on your own? Well, you must be oppressing others, since they can’t stand on their own, and we’re all equals.
Use a crutch like everyone else, you pig!
DDG: You’re a historian. Let’s talk a little bit about the trend towards Marxism. I know people, psychologically speaking, are conformity creatures so in ambiguous situations they often look to peers and perceived authority for how they should feel. It’s sort of a, I don’t know, sanity dipstick test if you will. The problem we have today is that increasingly people seem to think Marxism is cool and the things – the policy ideas – I hear when I sit down at the table to eat with people or share a drink seems to be trending more and more towards Marxism. It’s like “Want to be cutting edge? Be a Marxist.”
I first learned about Marx when I was in middle school, maybe eight or nine years old and my first thought was “This is total nonsense.” I still think its total nonsense. But maybe that’s becoming a minority opinion. What is going on here? Why is the West is embracing this stuff so readily? Few people doing the sanity dipstick get a reading these days saying “Cultural marxism is stupid.” What’s happening here?
Aurini: What happened is that Marxism won World War II; that’s when it metastasized in the United States, and McCarthyism was too little, too late.
I’m going to have to go into theology for a moment to explain this.
The core of Marxism is not an economic system – well, yes, technically speaking the core of Marxism is, but the genetic seed of the idea lies elsewhere – we need to look at Christianity. Throughout most of Europe’s history, Christianity acted as a temper against our more violent urges. What Nietzsche called slave morality served to tame the Kings and Nobles from abusing their power; it helped created a civilization that was civilized in a way that Rome never was.
But in the 1700s and 1800s, as technology began to free us from material wants, this civilized niceness began to turn in on itself. Speaking softly and carrying a big stick is the chivalric ideal; speaking softly while sitting in a tea house is called simpering.
Nietzsche tried to counter this with Nihilism – growing off of a Christian background, he created an ideology which strove for greatness – but with Nihilism comes a very real danger of losing all moral compass, “when you stare into the abyss it stares back into you” and all that.
The Marxists are those who let the abyss consume them.
Their ideology is a twisted, upside down version of Christianity; a religion with a Satan, but no God. They are a group of masochistic cowards who’ll use ‘kindness’ to kill us.
In the United States this started as the Frankfurt school in 1935; an organization formed by communist refugees from Nazi Germany, closely affiliated with Columbia University. These guys gave Dialectical Materialism a new twist; instead of trying to turn the workers against the capitalists (it was clear by that point that Marx’s strategy was failing) they reapplied the theory to sex and race, relabeling it “Critical Theory,” with the goal of deconstructing the foundations of Western Civilization.
Betty Friedan – one of the original feminists – was closely affiliated with this group. When she described the life of the housewife as “a comfortable concentration camp” she wasn’t speaking about her own experience (she was never married), but rather with a subversive desire to turn wives against their husbands. Later on another influential feminist, Simone de Beauvoir, in 1975 would say "No woman should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.”
The feminist goal – which they’ve largely accomplished – was to dissolve the family, and turn men and women into interchangeable worker units.
The Frankfurt School began a slow march through the institutions, installing their protégés in many of the critical posts throughout government, the media, and the educational institutions. They reason that if they can utterly break us down – morally, financially, institutionally – then we’ll finally be ready to become the New Soviet Man.
The funniest part about all of this? They wrote about these plans openly; heck, even the Wikipedia article lays out the basic strategy.
So as to why Marxism is so popular nowadays? It’s because the United States has been a Marxist country for decades. Their mad experiment to prove that man is programmable is close to ending in utter failure – this misery was largely orchestrated.
DDG: We mentioned your famous Election Recap video. Let’s talk a little bit about voting. When you vote, is there a process or test that you go through in selecting the candidates that you vote for?
Aurini: One question I like to ask is “Does this person have any private industry in their background? Have they ever worked for a living and do they understand the value of a dollar?” So many of today’s politicians are career civil servants; they’ve never had to worry about layoffs or firings.
That said, there are exceptions. The content of a man’s character matters; look at what they do, and how they are as a person.
I’m generally pretty cynical about the whole thing… but the times they are a changing. I think we might see the new generation bring some integrity back into politics. Especially in local politics. That’s where your vote really counts.
DDG: What are some of the major policy issues that distill the candidates you choose?
Aurini: Here in Canada my number one concern is immigration. We’re currently inviting one percent worth of our population to immigrate here every year – which is a lot, it’s faster than we can assimilate them. In the past decade we’ve added ten percent to our population, a ten percent which is largely made up of people who don’t have experience living in a Western society and need to be taught.
Not to mention a few who have no interest in assimilating.
Already in Toronto we’re seeing Muslims rioting and demanding sharia law, while attacking Canadian born citizens for the ‘insult’ of walking their dog down the street; the response from the police is generally to arrest the dog owner and pretend nothing happened.
Certainly, both Canada and the United States are countries founded upon immigration, but we also taught our immigrants how to conform to the dominant culture. As recently as twenty years ago immigrants were required to live in a particular community, with the expectation that they’d befriend native Canadians and learn their ways. Nowadays we mock and ridicule western society, while encouraging our immigrants to practice their cultural norms.
I think we should all be asking the question “How does bringing in these people (or this person) benefit our country?” From the left you’ll hear that we have a moral obligation to allow everyone in. What utter nonsense! What we should be doing is allowing other countries to be successful in their own right through non-interference, and preserving our national character at home.
DDG: Right before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Erich Honecker famously gave a speech in which he said “the future belongs only to socialism.” Back then we laughed. But was he right, looking back from 2012?
Aurini: He might have been right for a time, but the experiment is failing.
As I said earlier, the Marxist goal is to reprogram mankind into becoming the New Soviet Man; an interchangeable cog with the ethical code of an ant. Everybody needs to be identical and interchangeable, working for the betterment of the collective rather than for themselves, their family, and their community.
The first communists tried to do this through economic redistribution and elimination of national character; “We are all Soviets now! Identifying as Polish or Ukranian is racist, and against the Party!” It worked well enough at first – by the 1920s marriage was dissolved, children were raised in daycares, and men and women toiled beside one another in the field – but in the end they just weren’t able to break our biological programming, no matter what they put us through.
This time around they’re trying to break down our institutions; instead of church and community we have flex-time and daycare (maternity leave for both sexes!); instead of traditional culture, we have mass-produced music (comes in 8 exciting flavors!); instead of ethnic/familial identity we have subcultures (pick yours today, so we can target you with advertising!). False dichotomies, and manipulated choices; the ultimate goal is to break down any sense of self we have, so that we’re ready to love the State like Winston in Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Only the thing is, humans aren’t ants.
Their social experiment will be coming to a close soon; the fact that you and I are having this conversation, and that so many others are reading it, is proof that it’s doomed to fail. Orwell predicted the future as looking like “…a boot stomping on a face for all eternity.” I’m a bit more optimistic. The boot is as close to victory as the Left will ever get; and a people with nothing left to lose will fight back against oppression.
DDG: Talking a little bit about pop culture – I have a confession to make: this is going to sound crazy, but I have not watched television for at least fifteen years since I was a senior in high school. People will talk about their favorite television shows, they’ll mention Dancing With The Stars, Game of Thrones, some reality TV show or whatever and I’m just completely out of the loop when they do that. I have a television, I might watch a DVD or a BluRay from time to time but I just cannot turn on the thing and watch shows. I don’t even watch the news, the only time I turn it on is when there’s a crisis on. I had to watch the election debates because of my job, but that’s a super rare thing. I will certainly watch YouTubes or read articles online, but I’m ultra-selective.
I find that I just get irritable and impatient and just cannot sit still when the television is on. I have to turn it off. Really. I hate television. I’ll be in the gym and they’ll have some ridiculous reality show on the overhead screens about a guy who digs a hole in his front yard and hits a water pipe by accident, triggering his wife to yell at him about “Didn’t you know my sister is coming over for her birthday party?!” and I just have to look the other way and “pretend” the thing is not on. That drives me nuts.
You’re a cultural commentator. What do you think about this? Am I the only guy who is like that or what? Any theories?
Aurini: It just keeps getting worse, doesn’t it? As a Canadian – and please, don’t take this condescendingly, I love you Americans – I’ve always noticed the difference between American and Canadian television.
There was a certain Je ne sais quoi about American commercials that stood out to me since I was young. Back then we didn’t have as many stations as we do today, so half of the programming I’d watch was broadcast from United States, and I could always tell where the station was based upon the commercial breaks. The American commercials were louder, more obnoxious, more colorful… it made me appreciate the cheesy, laid-back ads for Tim Hortons and Canadian Tire.
But as the years went by the American commercials grew worse, and the Canadian ones were playing a game of catch-up.
It’s not just in the commercials, either. Again, don’t take me wrong – I am 100% behind the troops (it’s one of the few honest professions in government left), but my friend was just down in Miami catching a sports game, and he said the military propaganda was like something out of a science fiction story. I’m beginning to understand the hate-the-troop hippies; it’s getting frightening.
I think one of the factors might be that intelligent people are switching off the television and turning to the Internet, dipping the lowest common denominator ever lower but there also seems to be an erosion of decency, taste, and character.
DDG: So I gotta ask, in nearly all your videos you’re always drinking something. What’s your favorite drink to accompany sitting down, talking politics and culture?
Aurini: For a good, long political conversation Big Rock Traditional Ale is my favorite – it’s a local brew, but if you ever see some in a store, pick it up. It’s absolutely brilliant. A bit of alcohol mellows the brain, lets the ideas flow more freely, and loosens the tongue.
When I’m on my own, however, I need something a bit stronger; in that case Wiser’s Whiskey is my drink of choice. On the rocks. Even if that is an “Yankee bastardization” as my old Sergeant Major used to say.
DDG: Do you think maybe more of us ought to sit down, have a drink and talk politics these days?
Aurini: Abso-frigging-lutely. A drunken argument that doesn’t turn to fisticuffs is the hallmark of a civilized man.
Sadly, this is becoming increasingly discouraged; a couple weeks ago I made a friend at the bar, and we were having a great conversation, when the bartender interjected to tell us not to talk politics at the bar. Are you kidding me? The bar is the best place to talk about politics! You get a chance to meet people whom you wouldn’t normally talk to and hear fresh perspectives. If the population is too uncivilized to talk about politics, how can you possibly trust them to vote?
I’d like to emphasize that this conversation wasn’t heated – nobody was angry – and yet he thought we should stick to discussing celebrity culture and the weather.
We ignored him, and continued to discuss politics regardless.
DDG: Maybe you should throw people a curveball one day and randomly deviate the established pattern by eating in a video as a social psychology experiment or something. Make it a lunch discussion or something. How’s that sound?
Aurini: If I practice, and get the timing down pat, I might play a video in reverse one of these days and ‘vomit’ a perfectly intact sandwich, mid conversation.
DDG: I gotta ask: so are you an iPhone, Android or BlackBerry kind of guy?
Aurini: Android; I’m a sucker for anything Linux based. Plus I love the interface they employ.
DDG: Last but not least, any advice you’d like to leave us here in Hawaii?
Aurini: Get out of the cities and explore that paradise you call home; our last conversation inspired me to learn a bit more about your islands, and the geography is absolutely breath taking. I’m definitely going to visit there some day.
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