Retired U.S. diplomat and Senate Republican foreign policy adviser Jim Jatras is not afraid of espousing outspoken views—whether on American politics, ‘wokeness,’ or matters pertaining to the Orthodox Church. In an interview in Athens, Greece on the occasion of his first visit back to his ancestral homeland in nearly a half-century and just days before the November 2022 U.S. midterm elections, Jatras discussed what a Republican majority in the U.S. House would mean for American politics going forward, the contradictions between establishment Republicans and their electoral base, his views on the potentially catastrophic outcome of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, the destructive impact of ‘woke’ ideology on American and European society, and how that ideology has infiltrated the Greek Orthodox Church, as well as what, in his view, can be done about it.
How might the Republicans taking back the House of Representatives change the course of U.S. politics and the 2024 election?
As the great American philosopher Yogi Berra once said, “it’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future.” I’ll go ahead and admit it: I’m an election denier. I don’t think that Biden legitimately won the 2020 election. And if you can get away with that in a presidential year and no efforts are made to actually correct the prospects for fraud, like, for example, massive mail-in voting, why should we think it would be any different this time?
I know some will say, “Oh, you’re depressing the vote, people won’t think their vote counts, so why bother to vote?” I’m just saying I expect that there could be some serious anomalies here. What does it mean when Biden goes out there? Tucker Carlson said this on his show recently, that instead of making a pitch for your vote, Biden is out there warning against people who are going to deny the results of the election. Does that sound like a man who thinks he’s going to lose big? Rather, he sounds like a man who thinks, “Oh, you may be surprised how well we do, and why would you doubt those results?” And then you have somebody going to testify in Congress saying that election deniers are working for the Russians and the Chinese and the Iranians.
There’s was a lot of talk that if the Republicans take the House, they will impeach Biden. Frankly, what’s the point? To get that cackling moron who’s his vice president in instead? Why would you bother to do that? In a sense, we don’t have a president or a vice president. We simply just have a decrepit face on the deep state. And I just don’t see them making that much difference. God knows there are ample grounds for impeaching him, but I don’t think they would actually bother to do it.
On the substantive part of things, what does having a Republican House do? “Well, we have the House where we can’t do anything unless we have the Senate. Oh, we can’t do anything with the Senate, too, because we don’t have the White House. Oh, well, from 2017 to 2019, we had the White House, the Senate, and the House, but we couldn’t do anything because we didn’t have cloture strength in the Senate.” There’s always an excuse for inaction. And when all is said and done, the Republican leadership is not that different in terms of what its agenda is from the Democratic leadership, especially when it comes to crucial issues like war and peace.
There are a significant number of Trump populists and the ‘evil’ MAGA Republicans, the “fascist Republicans,” as Biden calls them, and they will be a thorn in the side of the Republican leadership, but they are still a small minority of the Republican officeholders in the House and the Senate. So, I think that we’re going to see as a sort of an advancement of the kind of a political awakening and, let’s say, the more populist wing of America that realizes that there’s the evil party and the stupid party. The Republicans are the stupid party. The Republican leadership will continue to be stupid and essentially be in cahoots with the Democrats. But there will be a stronger base, a minority base within the Republican Party that will say these guys do not represent us. And a further awakening among the American people, realizing that if you look at the problems that face our country, we aren’t going to vote our way out of them.
What do you think a Trump candidacy in 2024 would mean for the U.S. and for political developments in the next couple of years, especially considering all everything that’s going on legally against Trump?
As I’ve written in many columns over the years, the thing about Trump is not so much Trump himself, but because he is sort of like the embodiment of what’s left of an American ethos, that he is evil not because of what he is or says or does. But the thing about Trump is, his vices and his virtues are the same qualities. The things people love about him are the same things that people hate about them. But what he does is, he channels what used to be called the silent majority, or what Sam Francis called the “middle American radicals.” It’s just the regular, ordinary, you might say, legacy Americans who just don’t buy the direction our country is going in. But even though he doesn’t really represent that base all that well in terms of what he does, he does represent it symbolically. And that’s why the establishment, not only the Democrats, but within the Republican Party, are so adamant to stop him any way they can.
You know, obviously, we had ‘Russiagate’ during the years he was in office and then all the things having to do with the impeachment and now, of course, whatever they can try to find connecting the so-called “January 6 insurrection,” getting ahold of his tax records, whatever they can do. I think so much of what they’re trying to do now with the insurrection is to try to get them under that old post-Civil War act [the Insurrection Act] to actually keep him off the ballot in the key states. I think then the question is, who would the alternative be? Someone like DeSantis, who’s Trump without the baggage, as they say. And you do have to sort of wonder, does that make him essentially kind of a controlled opposition, somebody who can maybe do some good things when it comes to COVID and a few things like that, but in terms of the real issues of war and peace and the agenda of the deep state, is he really going to buck the system? I don’t think he really would. And then, of course, you have Mike Pompeo and Nikki Haley and the other people out there who are going to be essentially trying to bring Bush-McCainism back into the White House.
I think Trump, at this point in time, is the only person that a decent conservative—I use that with a small ‘c’ with populist spin to it—can really support. But I think that what it does is it simply moves us toward a starker polarization of American society, which is really inevitable. I wrote a piece two years ago, saying that Trump could be an Octavia. He could have been somebody to restore the Republicans some way [and] trash what couldn’t be saved, to try to go forward with what can be saved, what was left of America. He really turned out to be more Mikhail Gorbachev. He became the catalyst for the breakup of a system that had no longer become viable. I think we’re moving steadily in that direction. Whatever happens to Trump, he will continue to have that catalytic effect on the awakening of most Americans that the old republic simply doesn’t exist anymore, and we have to find a new path forward.
There’s frequently talk in conservative and also ‘alt right’ circles that there is this sort of ‘red awakening’ or a ‘red-pilling,’ as they like to call it, of certain sectors of American society, including some minority groups that are increasingly turning from being traditional ‘blue’ voters to ‘red’ voters, especially in favor of Trump. Do you think this is enough to really play a role in 2024, considering everything that takes place with regard to American elections?
I think it could play a significant role, but not a decisive role. If you look at American politics, traditionally about 65% of white voters vote for the Republicans, and about 10% of black voters vote for Republicans, and about a third each of Hispanic and Asian voters vote for the Republicans. Now, given how overboard the Democrats have gone with Black Lives Matter and that African Americans are sort of the political beneficiaries of their ministrations, that could shift somewhat and even alienate some black voters. You might see some growth in the minority vote for the Republicans, which in a sort of ass-backwards is what the Republicans have been trying to do for decades: “Oh, how do we get more minority votes? How do we get more minority votes?” I mean, it’s amazing that the only people out there who would ever talk about white voters were, first off, Andrew Yang and then Tulsi Gabbard. You know, nobody else—not even Trump, by the way—ever dared utter the word ‘white,’ which is his primary demographic base. He has always said, “Look what I do for black people. Look what I did for the Hispanic people.” Did that actually register during the time he was president? I don’t think it really did.
Could a shift occur a little bit more now, with the increasing disorder and violence that that is starting to engulf our country—which frankly, you know, minorities don’t like any better than white people? It could have an effect. But that still gets back to the fact that we have a Republican Party leadership that is not fundamentally different from the Democrats. They’re part of the same ‘woke’ establishment, as far as I’m concerned, and that duopoly is as thoroughly entrenched in power as the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was as a monopoly in the Soviet Union.
I think Georgia Meloni in Italy is probably controlled opposition as well. But look, in a country like Italy, with a parliamentary system, you can go from 4% of the vote a few years ago to become prime minister a few years later. That simply can’t happen in America, given the way the two parties are entrenched. The only way to power is to take over one of the two established parties. Trump managed to do that in 2016 but blew his opportunity, and I don’t know if that opportunity is going to knock like that again.
Will the Republicans taking back the House of Representatives have an impact on U.S. foreign policy as it concerns Russia and Ukraine?
Well, a lot of people made a big fuss out of [new House Speaker] Kevin McCarthy’s statement that we may not be able to get automatic funding for the Ukrainians as much as we have up until now. There have been efforts to explain that away. We’re just as supportive of the Ukrainians as we’ve ever been. Mitch McConnell in the Senate said this is the number one priority for our country. I think, unfortunately, a lot of the Republican leadership, the only impact it will have on that will be that they will try to outflank the Biden administration by demanding even more militancy, trying to list Russia as a “state sponsor of terror” and things like that. I’m sad to say, I don’t expect any good and, if anything, they’re even more militant and they will see an opportunity: “Let’s show how weak Biden is, gaining us some political points.”
I’m not really sure the constituencies feel quite the same way, although sad to say, I think there are many conservative Republicans and populist Republicans who are very, very suspicious of the American establishment in Washington, what they see doing in their lives when it comes to crime and immigration, COVID and this and that, but they believe that when the same America ventures abroad, it’s all sweet as apple pie and they rally around the flag, thinking that we’re just promoting American values. No, this kind of ‘woke’ rainbow social agenda is the heart and soul of America’s foreign policy that we’re trying to impose on the rest of the world. I don’t expect that to change when the Republicans take over either House of Congress, or both.
Since we mentioned Russia and Ukraine, where do you see things going with that conflict and for the West?
There are two people I follow very closely in terms of what they’re saying about Ukraine. One is Col. Doug MacGregor, who in terms of his military analysis, I take very seriously. He’s basically saying that the Russians have this won, they’ve had it won for a long time, that their initial effort to try to force Ukraine to sue for peace with a limited military expenditure and sort of tiptoeing into Ukraine didn’t work. He says now they’re about to change that, go big and, we will see a decisive change in the military situation in the fairly near future.
The other person I follow very closely is Dr. Srđa Trifković, who writes for Chronicles magazine, and who believes, with a high degree of anxiety, that Putin is making the same mistake that the Serbs made in the ‘90s: that wherever you had a military advantage, you then hold off because, “Aha, now they’ll come to the table and see things our way.” I agree with him on this point. That’s the worst thing that could happen, despite a lot of people who are calling for a negotiated solution to this war to end the fighting and come to an agreement. To my mind, what it means is that the Russians would end up with a kind of a Minsk III. And that, to my mind, not only would spell the almost certainty of a future war in the not-too-distant future that would be even more devastating than this one, but a complete destruction of Ukraine and maybe of the world, maybe Europe.
This really is a global war. It’s not confined to Ukraine. Ukraine is, if you will, the 5% of the war that’s kinetic. But most of the war is financial and economic. And despite what people say, that “Oh, the Russians are destroying Europe by denying them energy,” no, the Europeans are doing this themselves with their own stupid sanctions, which they then try to find ways to circumvent to keep their economies afloat. You’ve got German Chancellor Olaf Scholz going to Beijing now to try to jawbone the Chinese into putting pressure on the Russians. So, what’s his pitch to the Chinese? Is he saying, “Oh, we want you to help us crush the Russians so that we, once we’re done with them, can turn our full attention to crushing you?” Why would the Chinese go along with that? How stupid do they think the Chinese are?
So, I think the long and the short of it is, we are going to see some—maybe collapse is too strong a word—but some very severe dislocations in Europe over the next few months. I think we’re going to see that in the United States at some point in the future, too. I’ve been saying for some time, at some point, when the global American empire, the ‘GAE,’ goes belly up, it’s going to have the same impact that the collapse of the Soviet Union’s empire had on the Soviet Union itself. We’re going to go through the same kind of experience that the Russians went through in the ‘90s, and that will have very profound impacts for the future of whatever was left of an American empire in an American nation. But Europe is going to go through it first.
Now, how that results in the change in the political leadership in these countries, I don’t really know. I think the real question for all the European countries that I can see, with the exception of Hungary, where they already have such leadership, is can they get leadership that actually gives a damn about the people of their own country rather than simply taking orders from Washington? And that’s still a very tall order.
It was Viktor Orbán that said he’s not going to let his population freeze, in reference to the sanctions. But we see that most European governments are going ahead with these sanctions. Do you think public opinion in Europe may turn against these sanctions?
I think it does. I think public opinion will shift despite the best efforts of these governments saying, “Shorten your shower, it’s all Putin’s fault.” I think a lot of people will say it’s actually the fault of their own governments.
But the question that keeps occurring to me is, well, these are the ‘democracies.’ What difference does public opinion make in these democracies? Annalena Baerbock, the German foreign minister, said they will continue with these policies no matter what the voters think. What kind of democracy is that supposed to be? I understand in concept the idea that when things get really bad, when people can’t buy food, when they can’t keep warm, that will somehow lead to a change in leadership in this country. What I don’t see is the transmission belt, how you get from A to B. How does popular discontent result in a change in leadership when, frankly, all the parties and all these countries agree on all these things, just like with COVID, for example, that you had a complete unanimity among the ruling classes in every single one of these countries left, right, center. They all had the same view on the crucial question.
So even when people are maybe dying in the streets or freezing in their homes, how does anybody who dissents from the policies that brought them there actually get into the seats of power? I don’t have the answer to that question. And even if they did, by the way, would they be subjected to the same kind of color revolution undermining to try to get them out of power? It’s being threatened against Orbán, for example.
I think this is a good transition point to talk about the broader decline of the West. One of the issues that comes up with this is this idea of ‘wokeness.’ Where do you see the West headed, and is there any force that can reverse this trend?
Somebody somewhere has said that if you can’t buy food, if you can’t heat your home, you don’t really care as much about somebody’s pronouns. So maybe there will be some ‘wake up and smell the grass’ aspect of this, where people decide that there are more fundamental things in life than virtue signaling and what color hair and making TikTok videos and things of this sort. Part of this depends on what we call the ‘West.’ We tend to think of the West as North America and Western Europe. I suppose most of Eastern Europe too, minus Russia and Belarus, have been integrated into the West. If you look at polling, for example, social attitudes on many things in the eastern part of Europe, what had been communist Eastern Europe, are much more conservative than you find in Western Europe. So, I guess in some rather odd way, communism was less corrosive of some traditional values than all the ‘-isms’ we have in the western part of Europe under so-called ‘democracy.’
A large part of what we’re seeing right now is an effort to try to drag out Europe, kicking and screaming, into those self-destructive ‘woke’ values. I don’t know to what extent ‘wokeness’ is a luxury good that will be in short supply once the conditions of life are more elemental. You also have the problem that it’s not just governments pushing this: it’s all the corporations that run the Western economies and, to some extent, have achieved a kind of a state capture, where you almost have a sense that through the data companies, the media companies, the pharmaceutical companies, and others, that the governments have been essentially privatized to these big corporations. I guess the short answer I have is goes back to what I said earlier regarding a potential collapse in Europe and that North America is the only way out of our mess. ‘Wokeness,’ you might call it ‘rainbow Gnosticism’ in the same way that Eastern Europe and Russia got out of ‘red Gnosticism.’ There has to be some collapse in the system, and then something new can come out of the rubble. I don’t think there’s any way to get from point A to B without going through that rather horrendous process.
If we look at Europe, there are a lot of trends that were in place long before ‘wokeness’ was a thing. Declining birth rates, for instance, were a problem in Europe going back several decades. Currently, I think the only country that is actively trying to enact policy to reverse this is Hungary. What do you think precipitated this sort of decline, not just in the birthrate, but in general in the European conservative tradition?
The short answer is prosperity, ‘La dolce vita.’ People had a lot of goods; life was all about enjoying yourself. “The kids are just a burden. Why bother to get married? Why bother to have kids? I’m having too much fun spending money.” And so, there’s that. But also, then you have social movements like, first, feminism, and then also the alphabet soup that came after that, all of which have one bottom line, so to speak, which is no babies.
You have to ask yourself: is that coincidental? Have there been powerful interests in not only government, but the think tanks and in the corporate world and so forth, that for their own reasons, don’t want a whole lot of people being born, and a lot of people are happy to go along with that because they find it more comfortable to do that? You know, it’s going to be rather inconvenient. You know, you have to spend a lot of money and spend a lot of effort taking care of them.
There are too many trends that are all sort of parallel to each other to be accidental. And I can’t say I know where they really come from, but they have been consistent over the decades through many, many countries. And of course, nowadays would say a lot of that is maybe crystallized from the World Economic Forum: Klaus Schwab, Davos, and all of that kind of stuff, that is taking it to the next level, especially using COVID and the lockdowns and the vaccines and all of that stuff as a catalyst to try to bring us to the end of human society in a way that even the communists could not really have envisioned—that something that really involves no property, no future, no kids, eating bugs, whatever it is, that’s going to be our future. And a lot of people say, “Yeah, that sounds good to me.”
Look, this is above my pay grade. I don’t really know where this all comes from or where it’s going, but it does strike me as something demonic. I wrote the epilogue to a book recently, Antichrist: The Fulfillment of Globalization: The Ancient Church and the End of History, published by Uncut Mountain Press, written by Dr. Jim Davis, about how this is really the culmination of trends have been going on for some centuries. And, you know, maybe we are reaching some kind of an end point where perhaps there can be a restoration, some kind of revival of normal human values and, dare I say, Christian values. But I don’t think that’s a given. We may end up where there is a kind of an ‘end of history’ that’s even more malign than Francis Fukuyama could have imagined.
If we look at the example of Greece, it certainly has not been immune to a lot of these European trends that we’ve been talking about. Politically, it has not been immune to the European norm in terms of the types of policies that have been implemented regardless of government. You haven’t visited Greece in 50 years, but this may allow you to compare and contrast the Greece you remember 50 years ago to Greece today. Why, in your view, has Greece gone in this direction as well, and why hasn’t there been any sort of conservative political counterweight that has emerged in the society, despite everything the country has gone through, such as the economic crisis or the immigration crisis?
You could add to that the COVID crisis, too, where here the authorities were absolutely brutal with how they enforced the various mandates. I can’t claim to be an authority on Greece. Maybe I’ll wait to come back in another half century and give you my verdict on what happened after that, and then we’ll check the half century after that. I think there are a couple of answers, at least from my, say, distant perspective. One is, obviously, Greece is a small country, so its ability to withstand the larger trends and the edicts coming from Brussels and Washington and Frankfurt are a little more difficult than, let’s say, an Italy, which in principle has the wherewithal to resist more effectively than Greece.
You also have, sort of what you see in Ireland for example, this kind of living down your reputation that, oh, you don’t want to seem like a small ‘backwater, not really with it’ country. You want to show that we are part of the ‘big Europe,’ that ‘we are like everybody else, we’re modern, we’re all of these things.’ So, I suppose you have some of that and then you have, as I’m sure most people with any familiarity with Greece know, just the utter chaos that is typical of the political system here. Parties are vehicles for either strong personalities or personalities who are associated with historic families that have been involved in politics and things of that sort.
The other answer is, and let’s be honest, the impact of corruption. I mean, one of the things that has struck me when you look at the first signs that Europe was trying to be somewhat independent of American policy in the ‘90s is when there was talk about the European Army or when you look at, for example, when France and Germany did not go along with the Iraq war in 2003 and people were talking about a Paris, Berlin, Moscow axis that would be opposed to American dominance, I think there was—I don’t know what all the details are, but I have a sense that there are an awful lot of the political leadership in Europe that are simply compromised, that they are either complicit in various corrupt schemes or they’re blackmailed or in some way they are owned by the various intelligence services in the deep state. I would be very surprised if Greece were immune from that. If they can get the Germans and the French with a very uncomfortable hold by a very powerful hand, they can certainly do that with Greek politicians.
While this may not be widely known outside of Orthodox Christian circles, where there might even be a perception that the that Orthodox Christianity in general is highly conservative, what we actually see if we look at the Greek Orthodox Church, including the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, the current Patriarch Bartholomew, going all the way back to the ‘90s, has marketed himself as the first “Green Patriarch.” You see a lot of these elements having made their way into the Greek Orthodox Church. Why has that happened and why has the Greek Orthodox Church split ways with the Russian Orthodox Church?
As an Orthodox Christian, I do take some comfort in the observation that someone once said that the devil can never subvert the Orthodox Church because he can’t figure out the organizational chart. So, I think there’s a sense in which, yes, we have a lot of this hubbub and noise and sound and fury, but at the end of the day, I don’t worry about the Church herself being subverted, although sadly I do feel some people will fall away.
I just saw something recently about another one of these instances of a concelebration with Ukrainian Greek Catholic clergy and then the fake schismatic church created by Constantinople. I think there’s definitely some kind of an ecumenical trial balloon going on there between Rome and Constantinople, that is using Ukraine as its focus. You know, there are so many aspects to this. I remember under the previous Archbishop here in Athens, Christodoulos, you had some pretty good, solid leadership coming from the Church here, not so much anymore. And I think, let’s face it, the Greek government has a lot of influence over the Greek Church and, of course, who has a lot of influence over the Greek government? The United States and Brussels do. As people have pointed out, the Phanar has essentially been owned by the Americans since 1948, when Truman flew Athenagoras I in to replace Patriarch Maximos.
Look, politics are nothing new to Orthodox Christianity. You always had this ideal of a symphony between church and state, and that’s when you have an Orthodox state as well as an Orthodox Church. It gets a little more complicated when the state is not particularly Orthodox. You know, certainly when you’re under the communists or under the Ottomans, during the Ottoman centuries, Sir Steven Runciman’s book, The Great Church in Captivity, the chariots played very good political games as the head of the Rūm millet because what else could they do? I mean that was the circumstances they found themselves in. But I think unfortunately, many in the church leadership see this as an end in itself; being on the good side of power. I mean, you look at these smiling faces with Joe Biden, who is even topping Obama’s the most anti-Christian president we’ve ever had, with Archbishop Elpidophoros, or “Elpidoktonos”—“The Hope Slayer,” as he’s known—with Father Alex Karloutsos and his leadership that’s very, very tightly controlled to the Democratic establishment. I’m not saying they should be tied to a Republican establishment. It should not be a partisan thing. But how do you go around associating in a beaming, happy way with people who are militantly pro-abortion?
There’s something definitely very wrong in parts of our church. When I say our Church, I’m not talking about just the Greek Archdiocese or the Greek Church. You know, sometimes people want to oversimplify it, “Oh, the Greeks this, the Greeks that.” It’s not as simple as that. There are a lot of very, very good, solid people in the Greek Church, a lot of very good priests, some very good bishops like Bishop Isaiah of Denver, who is an excellent bishop in the Greek Archdiocese. But, you know, unfortunately, the influences that are in the larger society, which is increasingly, I would say, neo-pagan, but that’s still sort of an insult to the ancient pagans when I say that, is that those winds, whether of they’re of socialism or feminism or the ‘rainbow agenda,’ all that stuff, they find their way in the Church as well. They’ve already destroyed the Protestant denominations. They’re in the process of destroying the Roman Catholic Church. Orthodoxy is the last thing left. Some people think it will subvert us as well. I don’t think it will, but there will be some losses. And playing these political games with Washington or with the European Union and so forth, they’re a symptom of that. And unfortunately, there are people within the church who are happy to go along with those agendas.
There was a film recently about some of these groups like the Florida Knights at Loyola University, the Huffington Center, the International Orthodox Theological Association, where there’s some good people in there, by the way. But again, the whole thing is obviously there to put on the discussion agenda, things that should not be discussed. “You know, well, we need to have a respectful dialogue about how the church can maybe look at sexuality in a new way.” Really, we should have a respectful dialogue with iconoclasts, with Aryans or with Monothelites? No, you would not. So why would you have that kind of dialogue with people who think that the church’s moral teaching should be reformed? That’s the problem we find ourselves in, and a lot of it has to do with essentially power, state power, if you will, a form of Satanism, which is the experience of the Russian Church under communism. As I say, it’s the same Gnosticism. Red Gnosticism, rainbow Gnosticism—it has its impact on the church. It corrupts souls and corrupts some of our leadership. At the end of the day, the church will withstand it because, unlike the Roman Catholic Church, you can’t just subvert the Pope and then you have the whole thing in your hands. But it’s not a good situation. It’s something we’ll just have to struggle through.
We’re talking now just a few days after Elon Musk took over ownership of Twitter. Do you think Musk will do as he has promised, which is to restore free speech on Twitter? And do you think that his definition of free speech includes bringing back conservative voices and dissenting voices that have been banned from the platform in recent years?
As it says in the Psalm, “Do not put your trust in princes,” I think you could also say, “Trust not in oligarchs.” There’s really no difference there. They’re both worldly rulers in one sense or another. So, I suppose just like you do with politicians, you say, well, there’s not one I can really put my faith in, but who’s the one who’s going to do the least damage and hopefully accomplish some good? I hope Musk is able to do that. I say that as a proud Tesla owner, by the way. And so, I hope he will do something. But the signals from him have been mixed, including, I guess, appointing his own kind of board to review content or something like that with even input from the ADL [Anti-Defamation League]. So, I have no idea where he’s going with this thing. I hope he will do the right thing.
And by the way, that’s my only social media platform, Twitter, @JimJatras. And, you know, it’s a messed-up platform in some ways. First off, it allows porn on the site, which a lot of other social media don’t. I don’t think Musk has even talked about doing anything about that, and I’m not going to say whether he should or not. It’s his platform. But in terms of political content, political speech, if he doesn’t follow through with it, then why would he have bothered with the whole thing? Did he bite off more than he can chew? You know, look what happened there with StarLink. He gave StarLink to the Ukrainians, was footing the bill for it, and then at some point decides, “I can’t continue to pay for this.” You guys should pay. And they basically said, “Oh, yeah, well, you keep providing it for free or else we’re going to crush you,” because after all, he does a lot of business with the government, the SpaceX launch and all this stuff. So, he might find himself in a position where he’s hamstrung.
You’ve got the European Union already telling him, “You will fly by our rules.” I hope he can go a long way toward free speech. By the way, I’ve heard a lot about how famous people may get—Kanye West got his Twitter back. There’s talk that Trump is going to get it soon if he hasn’t already. I don’t know whether he will [return to Twitter] or whether Trump invested too much in his own social media [Truth Social], which I don’t really expect to go much of anywhere. I would like to see that there’s some procedure for a lot of the ordinary non-blue checkmark people who have been banned for Twitter for life to be able to apply to get their accounts back. If Musk really wants this to be the public square for discussion, I think there’s a real opportunity for him there. But he’d better be awfully, awfully tough because there are an awful lot of people who really want to destroy him over this thing. And I hope he has got the guts. He’s certainly got the money. Does he have the guts to flesh this out? I don’t know.
You spoke recently at the Ron Paul Institute. What was the nature of your talk there and what was the response to it?
I didn’t speak for the full gathering. I spoke to the full Ron Paul Institute conference about four years ago. Last year I spoke at the student seminar. My theme was “It’s Later Than You Think,” borrowed from Father Seraphim Rose. I was a little bit surprised to be invited back to speak to that same group again; a new group of students, for which my title was, “It’s Even Later than You Thought.” And in a sense, it was kind of an update of where we had been the year before toward what I described earlier, toward a major breakdown in American society, also Europe, but also in American society, the difference being is that, if you asked me a year ago, before the war in Ukraine started, I would have thought the future of the West would be a triumph of ‘woke’ totalitarianism, what Rod Dreher calls “soft totalitarianism,” that what was left of a historic American nation, which I define primarily in an ethnic sense, I realize that people don’t really talk that way. It talked about most Americans conservatives and patriots thinking either in terms of solely civil or civic patriotism, you know, Constitution, Bill of Rights, all that stuff, or some of them, a minority, think in racial terms, none of which I think really addresses the real existence of an American ethnos, people who are essentially of an English stock and as integrated in with other people, immigration over the over the last few centuries, Christian, mostly Protestant, English-speaking. When I was a kid, we were aware that they were an ethnos, that they had an ethnic character. Certainly, when my parents, as the children of immigrants, were kids, they understood, oh, we’re Greek, but they’re Americans.
I think that America is in very dire straits in terms of self-consciousness. Will a breakdown of the system bring that consciousness back to life in a way that some kind of an American ethos can survive, even if the American Republic, as we knew it, has gone? And by the way, I do think it is gone. I think that for the first 80 or 90 years until 1865, America was a confederal republic. From about 1865 till the end of World War II, we were a federal democracy, and then in the post-World War II period, we’ve been increasingly becoming a consolidated, demagogic state, heading toward tyranny, which is the natural course of a republic. I don’t think John Adams would have been surprised. I don’t think Aristotle would have been surprised. This is what happens to popular governments.
Two hundred and fifty years is a pretty good run for a republic, so now, rather than crying in our beer over whatever happened to that America, I think at some point we have to be shocked into saying, “Okay, that America’s gone, what America can be built in the future?” I think that’s why, in a paradoxical way, the war in Ukraine and the prospect of the collapse of the American global empire may provide a way forward for what’s left of America, because that smooth glide, the path to the triumph of ‘wokeness’ over a subdued America and its eventual extinction may be interrupted. Just as the Soviet Union establishment and their nomenklatura came crashing down, maybe ours will come crashing down, too. So, I would say I’m cautiously pessimistic.