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Episode 41 : Nations of America, Tolkien, and Monogamy with J. Daniel Sawyer
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Episode 41 : Nations of America, Tolkien, and Monogamy with J. Daniel Sawyer

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In this episode of Walt Right Perspectives I speak with J. Daniel Sawyer, an essayist and novelist who writes here on Substack at Unfolding the World.

You should also follow him on Twitter and check out his personal website.

Topics include:

  • Dan’s childhood growing up in academia and his formative experience watching the Berlin Wall come down with four history professors

  • His ideological trajectory from evangelical Christianity into iconoclastic politics

  • Is nativism in America implicit white nationalism or based on the English common law tradition?

  • How the geography of Germany, France, England, Russia, and the United States selected for very distinct cultures and political systems

  • Dan’s argument that letting in Germans was worse than letting in Mexicans

  • Walt and Dan compare the westward expansion of America to the eastward expansion of Russia

  • The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Kievan Rus as major powers

  • East Slavs would have been more libertarian and western-looking if the Mongols hadn’t come and Kiev had stayed dominant over Muscovy

  • The different nations of America—Puritans, Cavaliers, Borderers, Germans, French, Blacks, etc.

  • Were American racial heuristics distorted by the presence of African slaves?

  • The Haitian slave population was descended primarily from criminals

  • Should Borderers resent the Cavaliers for getting us all killed in the Civil War?

  • Utopian dreams of white ethnogenesis vs. the reality of American ethnopluralism

  • How similar is America to Rome culturally?

  • How Rome and America both maintain culturalism chauvinism and pluralism

  • You need pluralism for an empire but it needs to play second fiddle to chauvinism

  • Does Dan believe in the Faustian Spirit of European man?

  • Does Islam hold back MENA peoples?

  • Are the different sects of Islam ethno-religions for Arabs, Persians, etc.?

  • How the “talented tenth” of black society separated itself from black labor

  • Was the end of segregation a bad thing for black people insofar as it created an incentive for black elites to defect?

  • Continued insularity of Chinese and Korean Americans

  • Dan’s argument that Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films ruined every character by infantilizing them (i.e. removing Aragorn’s conspiracy against Sauron and Frodo’s agency in destroying the ring)

  • How the Victorian “Cult of the Child” plays into the proliferation of pedophilia, Millennial narcissism, and shitty young adult fiction

  • Was Lord of the Flies written by a pedophile?

  • When you anathematize something you sacralize it and thereby eroticize it

  • In the books Frodo is a badass who uses the One Ring to enslave Gollum

  • In the movies the One Ring was like heroin, in the books it was like Adderall

  • People who watched the Peter Jackson films first project their plot onto the books

  • The decline of coming of age stories, from Heinlein to Harry Potter

  • How the “chosen one” dynamic of YA enabled Greta Thunberg and David Hogg

  • How Hook subverts the original message of Peter Pan

  • Why are we reaching adulthood so late mentally despite puberty happening so much earlier these days?

  • Boomer restiveness stemmed from their huge size relative to the Silent Generation and their refusal to step down is preventing Gen X from developing the necessary gravitas to lead

  • Gen X public figures are either Rachel Maddow kiss asses or renegades

  • Boomer rule in Silicon Valley to require “adult supervision” (Boomer on the board)—Dan is not a fan of the Boomers or the Millennials

  • Boomers and Millennials are a mirror of each other

  • Will there be a Holocaust against Millennials?

  • The role of the artist in keeping the culture fresh

  • The Total Perspective Vortex in Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy—most humans can’t handle being insignificant

  • Most people can’t handle “redpills”—it is psychologically devastating to fixate on one heuristic about human behavior and overfit it to every situation—this is what creates incel culture etc.

  • It’s easier to date women who are very attractive than mid women because they are nicer and have more generosity of spirit

  • Dan’s article The Progressive Myth of Monogamy

  • Dan talks about his pet rooster

  • The Coolidge Effect—men will have a shorter refractory period with sexual variety

  • You need shared risk to build a healthy monogamous union

  • Do you need to hook up with a girl first to know if you actually like her?

  • Dan’s experience being chaste until marriage

  • Are men inherently afraid of female sexuality?

  • To what extent do men vs. women control the culture?

  • Why are women so much more bisexual than men?

  • Is there any social incentive structure that will meet everyone’s needs?

  • How East Asian countries deal with prostitution

  • Are Gen Z girls more comfortable with their boyfriend having a side chick?

  • How modern people dress up cheating in respectable clothing (girlfriend stealing, “taking a break”)

  • How the Victorian romantic appeal ties into progressive sensibilities

  • Does polyamory have to be symmetrical?

  • Polyamory vs. swinging vs. concubinage vs. harem-keeping

  • Was sexual hospitality / wife swapping common in medieval Europe?

  • How the Reformation and Age of Discovery stimulated sexual moralism

  • How the Restoration brought back sexual libertinism until the Napoleonic Wars and imperial encounters with tribal sexuality brought back puritanism

  • How the unprecedented PTSD stemming from World War II caused intergenerational trauma for four generations

  • You can’t apply unicausal mechanistic heuristics to organic beings, which operate in complex feedback loops

  • Dan’s advice for aspiring writers to have irreverence towards their values and focus on inducing a dream state in the audience

  • How to avoid audience capture

  • How an autistic person can avoid falling victim to over-systemization

  • How the modern lack of sex-specific cultures makes adolescence more traumatic

  • Homogenization of internet culture in the late 2010s

  • Substack encourages interaction across age and social class in an incredibly healthy and intellectually generative way

  • How the government established control over the tech industry in the late 90s

  • Is Substack going to be resilient? Is it too good to be true

  • Chris Best is the best

  • Dan isn’t worried about oversaturation

  • Is anyone making porn of armadillos?

  • Technological progress always benefits some artists and hurts others

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