Feb 17, 2022·edited Feb 20, 2022Author

A small Canada update, via The Economist:

"Mr Trudeau’s government has expressed shock that racist symbols were displayed during the protest. It appears to be planning to reintroduce an “anti-hate” bill that could lead to the imprisonment of people who use racist speech. This could include a clause which would allow individuals to take other people to court if they fear that they may be about to say something which falls under the definition of “hate propaganda”. They could also be charged for contemplating an offence “motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or any other similar factor”."

Hate pre-crimes! Spectacular. I don't think even Mr. Putin or Mr. Xi has had the audacity to conceive of such a useful measure. Trudeau's Liberal party is truly trying hard to live up to its namesake.

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Feb 16, 2022Liked by N.S. Lyons

This framing of the issue in terms of Virtuals vs. Physicals cuts right to the heart of the matter. Has anyone else put the argument in this way? It’s astonishingly brilliant analytically and clearly simplifies things in a way superior to the Woke vs Anti-Woke or Progressive vs Classical Liberal framing. New essays in Upheaval are rapidly becoming my most anticipated Substack destination.

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Feb 16, 2022Liked by N.S. Lyons

1. Did not George Orwell teach the masses thusly? "All tyrannies rule through fraud and force, but once the fraud is exposed they must rely exclusively on force.” What we are seeing now is what happens after the fraud is no longer working.

2. If the Truckers tell us nothing else, they ought to tell Trudeau and his coterie just how seething mad with white hot incandescent rage a lot of people are. And it don't take a hell of a lot of people.

Imagine if this were happening in the US, where a significant proportion of Physicals have access to all manner of firearms, not to mention the training to use them.

3. Re: Physicals and Virtuals. It is often said that the Virtuals are incompetent, but that is not strictly speaking true. Rather, they are very competent players at a very abstract sort of status game, but real-world Physical expertise is, if anything, a detriment to winning that sort of game.

Something I wrote a while back:

The US in general and its elites in particular, in and out of MSM, government and the military, live in a world increasingly consumed by symbol, spectacle and abstraction. Not only that, but they confuse wish-fulfillment with reality. Decide that you're going to identify as a different gender, race, ethnicity, hell, decide that you're a member of a different species and woe betide anyone who doesn't go along with the charade. They might even get themselves "cancelled" or "deplatformed". Hell, even the consequences of their (symbolic) actions are themselves largely symbolic. Melvin didn't get to put on a TED talk because someone dug up an old Tweet of his and now he's "literal Hitler" for a while.

For that matter, the truly Great And Good rarely even face those kinds of consequences. They can cause institutions to fail everywhere they go - but as long as they parrot today's approved platitudes, they glide from internship to government sinecure to think tank to academia to financial services to corporate board to consulting gig to MSM Talking Head, sometimes more than one simultaneously. Most probably never having had a 9-5 job, much less done farm or factory work, in their lives. These days, they may never even physically show up to work, ever, but their bank accounts rarely seem to reflect this.

They can even engage in outright fraud, but a big enough fish will only pay a fine, a portion of his ill-gotten gains. Meanwhile, he remains as free as a bird, and probably doesn't even face social ostracism. Last I checked, Jon Corzine is not on the naughty list of the people who matter.

Since results don't matter and there are few consequences for losing, even for catastrophe, everything becomes a matter of spin. All problems can be solved with better P.R., and there is no greater triumph than when some newscaster recites that glib talking point you just coined or when your FB post went viral, your instagram noticed by the right kind of influencer. In other words, winning is a matter of successful symbol manipulation. Speaking of spin, virtue signaling is an obsession, even unto rank hypocrisy, and the Davos Set think nothing of flying a private jet to a conference where they can congratulate themselves on their commitment to stopping climate change. Again, if there are to be any consequences, then those are for the little people to deal with.

Even in their dwindling contact with the physical world, the elites live in a world of wish-fulfillment. Push a button and whatever food or whatever else you want is brought to your door by some peon, paid for seamlessly by some electrons exchanged between banks that may not even have a physical location within a thousand miles of your location, if they have locations at all. Hell, you can even get laid via internet, just swipe right on the lucky profile. Everything is taken care of in the background, your credit card billed and airline miles accumulated automatically and the food or the girl just show up. Somehow. By Uber, I guess. Mundane questions like "How do I feed the kids this week and pay for school supplies and make the rent?" never come into the equation.

These are people who confuse their fantasies with reality to the point where they actually believe their own press releases. They give an order and it happens. They proclaim their puppets in Kabul to be wise and stable technocrats, their well-trained military striding from triumph to triumph and So Let It Be Done, So Let It Be Written. "So let it be written" - that's the word, that's all that need be done and the little people just somehow make it happen. For sheer lack of contact with the real world, these people make Marie ("Let Them Eat Cake!") Antoinette look like a medieval gong farmer or a pygmy tribeswoman by comparison.

Contrast the Taliban. Pious, impoverished, and tough as nails. Not only that, but mistakes can get him killed. As in "dead". Permanently.

Symbol, spectacle and abstraction mean very little to them. Doordash doesn't operate in their area and if a Talib wants a vegan option, he'll have to provide for it himself. It has probably never occurred to a Talib that he could cancel his enemies simply by digging up their old tweets, sent under a long discarded Twitter ID, and he doesn't have time for that, anyway. He lives in the world of concrete and material things, he thinks nothing of killing and in his world, there are bullets waiting to kill him quite literally dead and transport him to a very earthly and very earthy sort of paradise.

You can't wish those things away, your credit cards are no good and probably rifa, anyway, and the bullet flying towards him isn't concerned with word games, his upcoming struggle session to root out unconscious racism. It cannot be reasoned with or convinced to bother someone less virtuous.

The world of American elites collided with the world of the Taliban and got its ass kicked. Biden and his crew cannot deal with this, because that kind of reality does not select for success in symbol manipulation, any more than skill at football selects for an ability to do math problems.

The clownish Western response to the COVID is similar. The virus can't be negotiated with, can't be bought off, can't be distracted, and is unimpressed with you and how highly you may think of yourself.

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If the Physicals stopped working for a week, the Virtuals would starve. If the Virtuals stopped working for a week, the Physicals would not be affected at all and the world would probably be a better place.

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Feb 17, 2022Liked by N.S. Lyons

This is so good. Reading it was beyond satisfying. There is clarity! I had been thinking of them as the globalists vs localists but that never felt correct. It's absolutely the virtuals and the physicals. I find their virtual world terrifying so let's get to work figuring out how to shore up the future for physical reality.

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This is a terrific column. You have absolutely nailed it!

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I would add to this that the Virtuals are no longer the thinking class. They don't think at all, they merely parrot the same trite phrases and canned opinions, leading to the NPC meme that is so apt. The new thinking class is actually the rural and suburban Physicals that they so abhor. We are the ones questioning Covid. We are the ones studying political philosophy and questioning the rights of man and the role of government in our lives. We aren't blindly following, we are probing and pondering and trying to find a path forward, much like the men who brought us 1776 and touched off an upstart rebellion against entrenched and moribund power that changed the world forever.

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There's so much to love here, not the least of which is "the vital Sumatra-to-latte supply chain."

But some of the stuff that struck me hardest (because true):

"what the Chinese Communist Party refers to as 'public opinion management,' is now the entire strategic response of the Virtual class to every political problem."

"The post-modern fish swims in a narrative sea, and their first reaction is always to try to control it (through what the CCP calls 'discourse power') because at heart they well and truly believe in the idea of the 'social construction of reality...'"

"...this is merely the culmination of a long, inevitable political realignment that’s occurred across the West as the 'left' became the party of the Virtuals, the socialist revolution became a revolution against fixed reality, and the Physicals became the backwards, reactionary others standing in the way of Progress."

This post more than anything gave me a small amount of hope that the current state of things might be overcome. Maybe I'm delusional, or just really, really need to hope.

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Feb 17, 2022·edited Feb 17, 2022

As Lyons suggests in the post, the Virtuals are eroding, and will continue to erode, the control that the Physicals have over the physical world. The rise of the Internet of Things is a huge step in this direction. Every simple analog device is becoming a WIFI-connected "smart device", which means it can be hacked, adjusted, or turned off by far-off Virtuals. Pretty soon, truckers will not be able to just drive their trucks wherever they want. Virtuals will be able to remotely disable the vehicles or, eventually, lock the misbehaving truckers inside and remotely drive the trucks straight to the local police station.

Even setting aside any active malevolence on the part of the Virtuals, the complexity that they introduce with their computer chips has the practical effect of reducing the autonomy of people who work on physical equipment for a living. A 1975 car could be more or less fully understood by an expert mechanic, but a 2022 car has many components that are effectively black boxes to even the best mechanics.

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Feb 17, 2022Liked by N.S. Lyons

This is excellent commentary, and as others have said, you have cut to the heart of the matter! I am based in New Zealand, where we are currently experiencing our own smaller version of this freedom movement, and a Prime Minister who is copying Trudeau almost move-for move. I will be dedicating the next episode of my podcast (The Dispatches) to your article (it will be live in the next 24 hours on Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/nz/podcast/the-dispatches/id1584922518 AND Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/04DlgKR0sYPYLmQD3kkHbK?si=2lRzaPL_S9OesjHaf4K6fA plus all the other usual platforms!)

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You know a concept is really good when you put it on like a pair of glasses, and suddenly you see things more clearly. That was my experience with the Virtual/Physical distinction. Thank you.

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Your distinction between physicals and virtuals rings true. I am an acquisitions editor and I spend most of my days reading, writing, or talking (virtual).

For a period of time I was also a member of our volunteer fire department (physical). It's hard for me to imagine two realities more different. It snows and editor me stays home. It snows and the pager rings, firefighter me gets in the car and responds.

The first time it happen I realized how much I am conditioned to a virtual life and how profoundly different this from much of the rest of the world!

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I find it unlikely that some women in care professions aren't incredibly aware of the real world. Birth, health, and dying are likely to snap you back to reality. So does abuse, malnutrition, and foster care.

I know plenty of male managers that live with their head in the clouds, and male programmers that have delusions of being almost transhuman online.

Anyway, its not that your thesis is wrong, I just don't think this boils down to men versus women; I don't even think that difference is worth mentioning.

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This is an alterntive to the new divide proposed by David Goodhart: The Somewheres and Anywheres (in The Road to Somewhere).

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This did put it in stark terms but the sheer grasping and erratic nature of the response by Trudeau and co has been interesting to watch, as if shouting "Transphobia!" was somehow going to work. Because they do this when the normal methods fail - truckers aren't going to "Read the Room" or know what "Problematic, my dude" means as a social cue.

In terms of mobilizing physical power, hard to do that in February in Ottawa, so the normal rent-a-mobs didn't make a large showing.

But yeah I think in the end, digital financial system police state tactics of the kind that Canada's Foreign Ministry rightly condemns in places like China and Belarus where it is particularly bad, are effective. Very few of the participants are people with nothing to lose - if they were, their behavior would have been much different. The counter for this seems tough to figure out - crowdfunding and financial institutions are captured entities. Crypto is volatile, not all that fungible, has a learning curve that turns off a lot of people (particularly the older workforce that makes up the workers and contractors of physical world), and only remains in good graces as long as it doesn't threaten more important actors. The only thing I can think of would be radical reform of how the financial sector is directed and regulated by the state.

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While technically a member of the Virtual Class (at the moment, termination date rapidly approaching since I refuse to comply with the vaccination demand), it may be my Mississippi roots which makes me relate well to the Physical Class, or my stubborn insistence in putting my faith in God's power and not human wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:5). Thank you for writing this. It is an important essay on these times. I am a well-educated white female, born in the South, a Christian, an advocate of true inclusion, mother of two, wife of a true public servant who tries every day against all odds to teach critical thinking to his public school students. Following his lead, I have taken a deep dive into black history month. There are so many famous civil rights leaders, black men and women, fighting for freedom, whose words then apply 100% to today. So many fascinating parallels, which, again, exposes the hypocrisy we now see with this division into the Virtual and Physical. Thank you for sharing.

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