From Machiavelli to Trump

In Machiavelli’s  “The Prince”, Chapter IX (Concerning a Civil Principality), Machiavelli writes:

 

But coming to the other point—where a leading citizen becomes the prince of his country, not by wickedness or any intolerable violence, but by the favour of his fellow citizens—this may be called a civil principality: nor is genius or fortune altogether necessary to attain to it, but rather a happy shrewdness. I say then that such a principality is obtained either by the favour of the people or by the favour of the nobles. Because in all cities these two distinct parties are found, and from this it arises that the people do not wish to be ruled nor oppressed by the nobles, and the nobles wish to rule and oppress the people; and from these two opposite desires there arises in cities one of three results, either a principality, self-government, or anarchy.

A principality is created either by the people or by the nobles, accordingly as one or other of them has the opportunity; for the nobles, seeing they cannot withstand the people, begin to cry up the reputation of one of themselves, and they make him a prince, so that under his shadow they can give vent to their ambitions. The people, finding they cannot resist the nobles, also cry up the reputation of one of themselves, and make him a prince so as to be defended by his authority. He who obtains sovereignty by the assistance of the nobles maintains himself with more difficulty than he who comes to it by the aid of the people, because the former finds himself with many around him who consider themselves his equals, and because of this he can neither rule nor manage them to his liking. But he who reaches sovereignty by popular favour finds himself alone, and has none around him, or few, who are not prepared to obey him.

Besides this, one cannot by fair dealing, and without injury to others, satisfy the nobles, but you can satisfy the people, for their object is more righteous than that of the nobles, the latter wishing to oppress, while the former only desire not to be oppressed. It is to be added also that a prince can never secure himself against a hostile people, because of their being too many, whilst from the nobles he can secure himself, as they are few in number. The worst that a prince may expect from a hostile people is to be abandoned by them; but from hostile nobles he has not only to fear abandonment, but also that they will rise against him; for they, being in these affairs more far-seeing and astute, always come forward in time to save themselves, and to obtain favours from him whom they expect to prevail. Further, the prince is compelled to live always with the same people, but he can do well without the same nobles, being able to make and unmake them daily, and to give or take away authority when it pleases him.

Therefore, to make this point clearer, I say that the nobles ought to be looked at mainly in two ways: that is to say, they either shape their course in such a way as binds them entirely to your fortune, or they do not. Those who so bind themselves, and are not rapacious, ought to be honoured and loved; those who do not bind themselves may be dealt with in two ways; they may fail to do this through pusillanimity and a natural want of courage, in which case you ought to make use of them, especially of those who are of good counsel; and thus, whilst in prosperity you honour them, in adversity you do not have to fear them. But when for their own ambitious ends they shun binding themselves, it is a token that they are giving more thought to themselves than to you, and a prince ought to guard against such, and to fear them as if they were open enemies, because in adversity they always help to ruin him.

Therefore, one who becomes a prince through the favour of the people ought to keep them friendly, and this he can easily do seeing they only ask not to be oppressed by him. But one who, in opposition to the people, becomes a prince by the favour of the nobles, ought, above everything, to seek to win the people over to himself, and this he may easily do if he takes them under his protection. Because men, when they receive good from him of whom they were expecting evil, are bound more closely to their benefactor; thus the people quickly become more devoted to him than if he had been raised to the principality by their favours; and the prince can win their affections in many ways, but as these vary according to the circumstances one cannot give fixed rules, so I omit them; but, I repeat, it is necessary for a prince to have the people friendly, otherwise he has no security in adversity.

Nabis,(*) Prince of the Spartans, sustained the attack of all Greece, and of a victorious Roman army, and against them he defended his country and his government; and for the overcoming of this peril it was only necessary for him to make himself secure against a few, but this would not have been sufficient had the people been hostile. And do not let any one impugn this statement with the trite proverb that “He who builds on the people, builds on the mud,” for this is true when a private citizen makes a foundation there, and persuades himself that the people will free him when he is oppressed by his enemies or by the magistrates; wherein he would find himself very often deceived, as happened to the Gracchi in Rome and to Messer Giorgio Scali(+) in Florence. But granted a prince who has established himself as above, who can command, and is a man of courage, undismayed in adversity, who does not fail in other qualifications, and who, by his resolution and energy, keeps the whole people encouraged—such a one will never find himself deceived in them, and it will be shown that he has laid his foundations well.

     (*) Nabis, tyrant of Sparta, conquered by the Romans under
     Flamininus in 195 B.C.; killed 192 B.C.

     (+) Messer Giorgio Scali. This event is to be found in
     Machiavelli's "Florentine History," Book III.

These principalities are liable to danger when they are passing from the civil to the absolute order of government, for such princes either rule personally or through magistrates. In the latter case their government is weaker and more insecure, because it rests entirely on the goodwill of those citizens who are raised to the magistracy, and who, especially in troubled times, can destroy the government with great ease, either by intrigue or open defiance; and the prince has not the chance amid tumults to exercise absolute authority, because the citizens and subjects, accustomed to receiving orders from magistrates, are not of a mind to obey him amid these confusions, and there will always be in doubtful times a scarcity of men whom he can trust. For such a prince cannot rely upon what he observes in quiet times, when citizens have need of the state, because then everyone agrees with him; they all promise, and when death is far distant they all wish to die for him; but in troubled times, when the state has need of its citizens, then he finds but few. And so much the more is this experiment dangerous, inasmuch as it can only be tried once. Therefore a wise prince ought to adopt such a course that his citizens will always in every sort and kind of circumstance have need of the state and of him, and then he will always find them faithful.

 Now, of course, the US being a republic and not a principality, the context is not exactly the same, but it is not entirely different, either (especially as the Founding Fathers thought of the President as a kind of a temporary monarch).
Machiavelli speaks of the “popular” and the “oligarchic” princes, but there is a subtlety that he himself was very well aware of  — the nobles (what we now call `the elites’) usually draw on the support of their client rabble. In other words, in many ancient as well as modern societies, the population would be naturally segmented into
  1. The nobles (in ancient times this would be primarily the military aristocracy, now it is the bureaucratic, military, commercial, and academic elites).
  2. The people – in ancient times the productive members of society – the highly trained blue collar workers, small merchants, professional military and so on.
  3. The rabble: the slum-dwellers, the criminals,  the slaves, the gladiators in ancient times, and the systemically unemployed, the ghetto dwellers, the criminals in modern times.

Historically, the first group employed the third group to counteract the second group (which was, and remains, much more numerous than the first, and usually more numerous than the third). The third group generally lacked the education and leadership to act on its own behalf.

Now, if we examine the modern political landscape, we see how little things have changed in two millennia.  On the one side we have the “liberals” (the quotes are there to distinguish them from traditional pro-liberty small government liberals), represented by the Democratic party, and representing the elites (notice that the left is universally backed by the Press, and the vast majority of academia, as well as the currently dominant Silicon Valley commercial aristocracy, as well as the majority of the financial aristocracy of Wall Street). The elites have co-opted the rabble (the ghetto blacks and Hispanics, the illegals, the disaffected youth) and have put themselves in opposition to “the People” (capitalized, because group number 2 is exactly who the Founding Fathers had meant by the term). The power of the elites is so great that the very word “populist” has become pejorative. And yet, here we are with a “populist” president (himself a member of the elites, just like the populists of ancient times).  The People are oppressed, and part of their oppression is the punitive taxation to keep the rabble in bread and circuses (and Obama phones). Other oppression is more ideological – the People are made to sing paeans to the latest perversions of reason by the elite.

Enter Trump, the civilian prince. I now encourage you to go to the beginning of this article and read Machiavelli’s summary. While I am not certain Trump has read Machiavelli, his strategy aligns closely with what this last proposes. Notice that Trump speaks directly to the public, and not through magistrate – this is what causes the uproar about his constant tweeting – the Trump’s administration IS Trump (Louis XIV would have approved), the “magistrates”, as Machiavelli calls them, are clearly secondary, and the rather high turnover in the Administration keeps them that way. People understand that if they are not to be oppressed, then Trump is their best and only hope.

By contrast, the opposition is squabbling, just as the elites always have – it is more important for them to maintain primacy in their circle than to fight for the common cause, and in the event of the (frequent) failures of their policy they fall back on blaming each other (something Trump cannot do even if he wanted to, since he has taken all the responsibility, just as Machiavelli suggested).

All this fills me with hope (as well as with wonder).

 

 

One man’s view of the Trump doctrine

 

(this post, in a very slightly different form, was published on LinkedIn on June 12, 2018).

When I was a child in the Soviet Union, it was a generally accepted fact that the satellite state (Warsaw Pact countries) had a higher standard of living than their imperial overlords (by the way, the Russians certainly did not think of themselves that way), and that the Soviet government was supplying them with direct and indirect aid to keep it that way and to keep them in the fold (they also enjoyed greater personal freedoms, for the same reason).

Now, what is peculiar is that the USSR was not the only superpower to practice that form of bribery: the US (starting with the Marshall Plan) was doing exactly the same thing, except that, due to the strength of the US economy, the US still enjoyed a higher standard of living than its vassal states. The US aid was somewhat indirect: the US has been willing to tolerate protectionist policies of its European and Asian vassals and has been bearing the lion’s share (very close to 100%) of the defense expenditures. Instead of enjoying greater personal freedoms, the Europeans chose to use their aid to subsidize Socialist policies, and to steep their youth in anti-American sentiment (to their credit, the Japanese and South Koreans have been far more honorable).

After the end of the Cold War (over 25 years ago now), inertia kept the status quo (it was not just inertia – the American Left believed that EuroSocialism was a superior social order, and so chose to keep subsidizing it), but finally, the chickens have been brought home to roost by President Trump, who has realized that the subsidies are counterproductive – they feed our enemies, and they do too much damage to the US economy – this point (usually applied to the defense budget strictu sensu) has been realized by much of the US defense establishment (including the current Secretary of Defense) for decades (see David Stockman’s The Great Deformation), and something is now being done. This is an example of Trump keeping (yet again) his campaign promises and has no downside. Indeed, to the extent that it might lead to the collapse of the EUSSR (the European Union) it is a win on all sides.

Global warming through the ages

`While it is clear that human activity affects our environment, the recent global warming alarmism seems deeply misplaced. Global warming long predates the Industrial Revolution, and here is a quote from Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (published in the middle of the 18th century, at the very start of the Industrial Revolution:

Some ingenious writers have suspected that Europe was much colder formerly than it is at present; and the most ancient descriptions of the climate of Germany tend exceedingly to confirm their theory. The general complaints of intense frost and eternal winter are perhaps little to be regarded, since we have no method of reducing to the accurate standard of the thermometer the feelings or the expressions of an orator born in the happier regions of Greece or Asia. But I shall select two remarkable circumstances of a less equivocal nature. 1. The great rivers which covered the Roman provinces, the Rhine and the Danube, were frequently frozen over, and capable of supporting the most enormous weights. The barbarians, who often chose that severe season for their inroads, transported, without apprehension or danger, their numerous armies, their cavalry, and their heavy waggons, over a vast and solid bridge of ice.2 Modern ages have not presented an instance of a like phenomenon. 2. The reindeer, that useful animal, from whom the savage of the North derives the best comforts of his dreary life, is of a constitution that supports, and even requires, the most intense cold. He is found on the rock of Spitzberg, within ten degrees of the pole; he seems to delight in the snows of Lapland and Siberia; but at present he cannot subsist, much less multiply, in any country to the south of the Baltic. In the time of Cæsar, the reindeer, as well as the elk and the wild bull, was a native of the Hercynian forest, which then overshadowed a great part of Germany and Poland.3 The modern improvements sufficiently explain the causes of the diminution of the cold. These immense woods have been gradually cleared, which intercepted from the earth the rays of the sun. The morasses have been drained, and, in proportion as the soil has been cultivated, the air has become more temperate. Canada, at this day, is an exact picture of ancient Germany. Although situate in the same parallel with the finest provinces of France and England, that country experiences the most rigorous cold. The reindeer are very numerous, the ground is covered with deep and lasting snow, and the great river of St. Lawrence is regularly frozen, in a season when the waters of the Seine and the Thames are usually free from ice.

Note that Gibbon (just like Al Gore) attributes the warming to human activity, though, unlike Al Gore’s, his point of view is not currently accpted.

It actually gets better: Kyle Harper’s The Fate of Rome advances the theory that global COOLING was one of the factors responsible for Rome’s collapse, and the golden period of ”Five Good Emperors” (the end of the first and most of the second century AD) coincided with the warmest period of the time of the Roman empire.

Intersectionality II

Interestingly the Nazis and the SJWs have more in common than their loathing of the Jews – they are actually two sides of the same coin, and what they have in common is the belief that someone else is responsible for their shortcomings – be it “The Patriarchy” or the “Elders of Zion”. This is actually a well-known psychological phenomenon, known as “external locus of control“. What is particularly interesting is that as pointed out in the Wikipedia article:

Richard Kahoe has published work in the latter field, suggesting that intrinsic religious orientation correlates positively (and extrinsic religious orientation correlates negatively) with internal locus.

As we know well, leftist and totalitarian movements are very anti-religious (this goes for both Nazis and SJWs, of course), thus bearing out Kahoe’s thesis.

 

Intersectionality

An interesting factoid. The neo-Nazis/alt-right/Aryan nation types do not consider Jews to be White, and hence view them as a major part of the racial problem. On the other hand, the intersectional SJW/BLM/snowflakes do consider Jews to be White, and thus a major part of the White privilege/patriarchy problem.

Conclusion (as pointed out by Tom Lehrer some sixty years ago: Everybody still hates the Jews.

 

Gun and other kinds of crime

The New York Times published this screed, which compares the numbers of mass shootings in the US versus those in Russia, China, and India. The  article is cringe-worthy for a number of reasons:

  1. In the period under discussion, China had its cultural revolution (which killed 30 MILLION people)..
  2. In the same period, millions of people starved in India while the incompetent and corrupt elite enriched itself.
  3. The Soviet Union killed tens of thousands of people in the GULAG, and impoverished and deprived of basic human rights hundreds of millions of others.
  4. The article claims that race and diversity has nothing to do with gun crime. In fact, as the interested reader can see, fully half of the homicides in the US are committed by Blacks (half the victims are Black, too). That means that “White America” is one of the safest countries on the planet, despite the one of the highest legal gun ownership rates.
  5. The authors claim that “diversity” has no correlation with mass murder rates in European countries. I suppose the massacres at Bataclan, Charlie Hebdo, and Manchester (among many, many, others) have occurred in times immemorial.

A review of “The Black Edge”

A depressing book on what a giant flaming asshole Stevie Cohen is, and what a cesspool his eponymous firm was. Also depressing in that Stevie skated on all the charges, while at least some of his minions were given serious time (Cohen did not even have to go through the indignity of a trial). This is pretty much par for the course, and echoes in some ways “the Spider Network” (a better book) – comparing the two books shows that while the US system is screwed up, it is a model of efficiency and good sense compared to the cluster **** that is the UK political and legal “system”.

On the other hand, one might ask: are insider trading laws really a good idea? Many people believe they are not – all they do is muck around with the free propagation of information (which is very difficult – really impossible, since for a company like Google, literally hundreds of people know the numbers before they are out, and you can’t really blame them for trying to make a buck). Of course, this does not exonerate the perpetrators.

Trump’s Inauguration

The last few days (really three months) have seen a lot of excitement, especially on the left, where my FaceBook feed is full apocalyptic pronouncements. The question is: why? The answer is: the Trump phenomenon is a reaction. It is a counter-revolution, to the Cultural Revolution which has been in progress for the last seventy years, and, as Die Internationale says: he, who was nothing, has a chance of becoming everything (and vice versa, which is why the dominant group is quaking in fear). I feel funny saying this, since, having grown up in the Soviet Union, being a “reactionary” or a “counter-revolutionary” was a bad thing, and yet, here I am, being one. My main concern vis-a-vis Trump have always been that he was all talk, and after the election we would have exactly the same thing as before, with some orange hair on top, but Trump’s cabinet selections, and the first few days’ activities allay my fears somewhat.

Where did the Cultural Revolution come from? There is the benign view, expressed by David Gelernter in America-Lite: that the Revolution was a by-product of the the transformation of American universities in the middle of the century, and the increasing power of the chattering class (especially the Jews, with their contrarian intellectual tradition). Then, there is the not-so-benign view, expressed by M. Stanton (Stan) Evans in Stalin’s Secret Agents. This holds that there was a concerted (and very successful) effort by the agents of Comintern to subvert American government and culture. Interestingly, the major agents of this change have, again, been the Jews who left Germany in the late twenties and early thirties – Communists (among whom there was a disproportional number of Jews) were losing the civil war against the Nazis, and so were fleeing to the New World. Once there, they had no intention of stopping their Communist ways. So, on this Gelernter and Evans agree.

Interestingly, while Trump himself is extremely sympathetic to Jews (much of his team, and, indeed, his extended family, is Jewish), his supporters have a certain tendency toward anti-semitism (nationalism is  anti-globalism, and Jews are traditionally viewed as espousing globalism [in Stalin’s time, they were branded rootless cosmopolitans, and this has now been resurrected by the alt-right movement). As a member of the Chosen People myself, I am, of course, somewhat troubled by this phenomenon, but it is my hope that getting these sentiments out in the open will normalize the situation.

 

Here is hoping.

Our Future Overlords? Part I

There has been a widely publicized Muslim invasion of the West, in particular of Western Europe, who have brought with them some of their culture and social customs. It is thus of particular interest to know a little more about this culture and social customs, and their broader effects. Here, we will describe a couple of tings.

Calendar and Ramadan

The Islamic calendar is unquestionably the world’s absolute worst. Almost every ancient calendar is a Lunar calendar (because the phases of the moon are obvious to the most casual observer). The problem, of course, is that the Lunar month is not an integer fraction of the Solar year, and  every civilization since (and including) the ancient Babylonians and Egyptians has tried (with some success) to address this problem, by some combination of varying the length of months slightly and introducing leap years  – the Gregorian calendar has leap days every four years (more or less), the Jewish calendar has leap months and so on. Having these fixes is what makes the calendar have some predictive power, so that we know that February is usually pretty cold, while April is a good time to start planting.

The Islamic calendar has no such adjustments, and having the date (without the year) gives absolutely no information about the season.This is perhaps explicable by the provenance of Islam as a religion of conquest, whose first practitioners were nomadic Arabs – these people lived in a tropical climate, and agriculture was not a high priority, so they just did not bother to make the adjustments.

However, now comes the Islamic part. Mohammed, by copying (poorly) the Jewish religious observance (which has a number of fast days), introduced the month of Ramadan, wherein the faithful are  forbiddent to eat or drink between sunrise and sunset (and generally feast after the Sun goes down). From all accounts, the first Ramadan was in the Winter (when the days are short), and did not seem particularly arduous, but the error of this observance was obvious only a few years later, since not eating or drinking during the longer (and hotter) Summer days is quite an ordeal. To make this worse, no one consulted the womenfolk, and they seem to be the ones most affected, especially when pregnant  – actually, not so much the women, as the embryo they are carrying (it should be noted that fasting while pregnant is not, strictly speaking, required. However, as we all know, it takes a while to determine whether or not someone is pregnant, which means that there is a high probability of someone fasting at the early stage of pregnancy , which is precisely when fasting has the most deleterious effect.

To read the gruesome details, you can see this article by Jordan Schemerhorn,  and for a more encyclopedic treatment, see the wikislam article. We quote the part particularly relevant to the current post:

Pregnancies

A new study by scientists in the United States has revealed that pregnant Muslim women who fast during Ramadan are likely to have smaller babies who will be more prone to learning disabilities in adulthood.The researchers also found that the women were 10 per cent less likely to give birth to a boy if they had fasted during Ramadan. The trend was clearest if the fasting was done early in the women’s pregnancy, and during the summer months, when long hours of daylight called for them to go longer without food.
. . .The study, which used census data from the US, Iraq and Uganda, also discovered long-term effects on the adult’s health and his or her future economic success.

“We generally find the largest effects on adults when Ramadan falls early in pregnancy,” the Independent quoted Douglas Almond, of Columbia University, and Bhashkar Mazumder, of the Federal Research Bank of Chicago, the authors of the research, as saying.

“Rates of adult disability are roughly 20 per cent higher, with specific mental disabilities showing substantially larger effects. Importantly, we detect no corresponding outcome differences when the same design is applied to non-Muslims,” they added.

(note: I have first learned of these problems from Levitt and Dubner’s Freakonomics)

Inbreeding

For whatever reasons, inbreeding (more politely known as consanguinity) is extremely wide-spread in Muslim societies (if I had to think of a reason, I would guess that the discouragement of contact between men and women leads to most people of opposite sex you know being close blood relatives. However, this is not a full explanation, since historically most Hindu marriages are arranged, without the same phenomenon occurring). A very valuable resource in this field is

Bittles A.H. and Black M.L. (2015) Global Patterns & Tables of Consanguinity. http://consang.net

The key quantity used in the Brittles and Black study (which is an aggregate of a number of other studies) is

As a working definition, unions contracted between persons biologically related as second cousins (F ≥ 0.0156) are categorized as consanguineous. This arbitrary limit has been chosen because the genetic influence in marriages between couples related to a lesser degree would usually be expected to differ only slightly from that observed in the general population. Globally, the most common form of consanguineous union contracted is between first cousins, in which the spouses share 1/8 of their genes inherited from a common ancestor, and so their progeny are homozygous (or more correctly autozygous) at 1/16 of all loci. Conventionally this is expressed as the coefficient of inbreeding (F) and for first cousin offspring,F = 0.0625. That is, the progeny are predicted to have inherited identical gene copies from each parent at 6.25% of all gene loci, over and above the baseline level of homozygosity in the general population. In some large human populations genetically closer marriages also are favoured, in particular uncle-niece and double first cousin unions where the level of homozygosity in the progeny is equivalent to F = 0.125.

Brittles and Black now give the following startling graphic:

Globalcolorsmall

The reader will see heavy prevalence of consanguinity in the Middle East, but in fact, studying the tables thoughtfully provided by them, we see that in the only major mixed-religion country (India), the high percentages of consanguinity are specific to Muslim populations, and are very low (though a little higher than in Western countries) in the Hindu population. We can quote Bittles and Hussain:

An analysis of consanguineous marriage in the Muslim population of India at regional and state levels

A. H. BITTLES and R. HUSSAIN

 Edith Cowan University, Perth, Australia

University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia Received 24 August 1998; revised 21 April 1999

Consanguineous marriage is widely favoured in a large majority of the world’s Islamic populations. According to recent estimates, the resident Muslim population of India is over 100 million. However, apart from a few numerically small or geographically de® ned surveys, little is known about their patterns of marriage preferences since partition of the Indian Subcontinent in 1947. This study seeks to determine the prevalence and patterns of consanguineous marriages contracted among Indian Muslims at regional and state levels during the last two generations. Data from the 1992/93 Indian National Family Health Survey (NFHS) were used in the analysis. The NFHS was a nationally-representative survey of ever-married women aged 13± 49 years, conducted across 25 states of India. Of the initial 9845 respondents, 8436 were included in the final weighted analysis sample. Overall, 22.0% of marriages were found to be contracted between spouses related as second cousins or closer, ranging from 15.9% in the eastern states to 32.9% in the western states of India. In all parts of the country   first cousin marriages were the preferred form of consanguineous union, and in four of the five regions paternal first cousin marriages predominated. Despite predictionstothecontrary,there was no evidence of a significant change in the prevalence of consanguineous unions over the course of the study period, which extended from the late 1950s to the early 1990s.

Now, you may ask: who cares? Well, we all should. Here is a relevant study:

Behavior Genetics, Vol. 18, No. 5, 1988

Consequences of Consanguinity on Cognitive Behavior

Mohammad Afzal 1’2

Received 6 Sept. 1985–Final 19 Jan. 1988

In order to study the effects of consanguinity on IQ, a survey was con- ducted among the Ansari Muslims of Bhagalpur residing in suburban and rural areas. Both outbred (N = 390from suburban areas and N = 358 from rural areas) and inbred (N’s = 300 and 266, respectively) children aged 9 to 12 years from socioeconomically middle-class families were administered the Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children–Revised [WISC(R)-74]. The coefficient of inbreeding, F, was .0625. The inbred children showed lower verbal (20 and22%) and performance (30 and20%) subtest scores and lower verbal (11 and 11%), performance (17 and 12%), and full-scale (15 and 12%) IQs. A three-factor analysis of variance per- formed on the full-scale IQ scores indicated that both consanguinity and locality affect IQ. The interaction between these two factors was also significant. Neither age nor sex affected these scores. Overall, subjects’ performance scores were lower than verbal scores.

Summary

We see that both the Ramadan problem and (more seriously) the inbreeding problem individually have a serious detrimental effect on mental development. But, to follow Mercier and Camier:

Now we must choose, said Mercier.

Between what? said Camier.

Ruin and collapse,

said Mercier.

Could we not somehow combine them? said Camier.