False Spirits & Jacobin Jackals

Nathan Allen
21 min readJan 3, 2019

James Davenport tried to be pure in a world where only good was possible. Born in Stamford, Connecticut, educated at Yale, and employed by the Congregational church in Southold, Long Island, Davenport decided to become a travelling hellfire preacher in 1738 after hearing Great Awakening preachers Gilbert Tennent and George Whitefield and randomly opening his Bible to 1 Samuel 14, in which the son of the first anointed king of Israel defeats the numerically superior Philistines. Reverend Davenport took this as a sign to rid the colonies of Philistines, which he could conveniently find everywhere. Davenport’s specialty was public Bonfires of the Vanities in New London, Connecticut wherein the citizens were encouraged to burn luxury items and immoral books, after which a singing parade embarked down Broad Street. Davenport took his carnival of purification on the road, and was arrested in Stratford, Connecticut for breaking a new law against bothersome traveling preachers. Davenport reportedly called out “Strike them, Lord, strike them!” as he was being arrested. Whereas Davenport strained to disturb the universe, the Lord did not, and the Connecticut Assembly found Davenport “under the influence of enthusiastical impressions and impulses, and thereby disturbed in the rational faculties of his mind” — not guilty by reason of insanity — and ordered him deported back to his own church.

The idea of “deporting” an insane preacher to another town or colony reveals the Puritan conception of state structure; care for the poor and ill was community-based, with each community responsible for its own poor and ill, but not for anyone else’s. For this reason, port cities were sensitive to the unending boatloads of poor that kept arriving. As ship after ship of Scots-Irish kept arriving in Boston in the 1720s, Bostonians grew frustrated and advised the newly arrived to immediately leave town. Taxes were high, currency availability was low, and the last thing the tax-payers of Boston wanted was hundreds more added to the poor rolls. And by the 1750s, Rhode Island grew suspicious that the poor in that colony originated in other colonies, so the Rhode Island Assembly began a multi-decade survey to discover the origins of its poor. Colonists would contend that each town was responsible for its own poor because each town was responsible for raising educated, hard-working and moral citizens; if the town failed with its children, then the town paid the price for supporting them as adults. Such a conception of government structure was amplified by the fact that most taxes and most spending occurred entirely at the town level, thus permitting town residents to carefully scrutinize town expenses. Town leaders took their obligation to assist the poor seriously, but they also took seriously their obligation to manage tax-payers’ money. Increasingly over the previous century, Europeans fought for state, not faith, and this new orientation would feed the authority and credibility of nation-states. But the Puritans had always put faith first, and given their history of persecution and occasional truces with the state — usually punctuated with deception and more persecution — the Puritans had not much faith in the state. Thus their conception of community, governance, and responsibility continued to be based around the congregation and the town.

With Reverend Davenport deported from Stratford and his ecclesiastical shenanigans reported in the newspapers, the great opponent of the Great Awakening stepped in from 130 miles away. Charles Chauncy was the long-time minister at Old Brick in Boston, and he manned the pulpit at Congregationalism’s most important church from 1727 until 1787. In his 1742 sermon and pamphlet Enthusiasm Described and Caution’d Against, Chauncy described those who preached Great Awakening ideas as “under no other influence than that of an over-heated imagination.” The sermon was subtitled “to the Reverend Mr. James Davenport.” In response, Davenport went to Boston, found all the church doors closed to him, and took to the streets and fields. The Boston Evening Post reported that the precession appeared to be “more like a company of bacchanalians after a mad frolic than sober Christians who had been worshipping God.” The leadership of Boston was not amused, and Davenport was arrested, found “non compos mentis” — not guilty by reason of insanity — and again deported to New London. This sent Reverend Davenport into full bezerker fury. On March 7, 1743, perhaps because the long winter had given him cabin fever, he and some followers held a more animated than usual bonfire, with Davenport encouraging his followers to burn immoral books, wigs, jewelry, and fine clothes — which apparently included Davenport’s pants. A woman in the crowd grabbed his pants from the fire and told him to put them back on. Davenport was shaken; he then consulted his local ministers, and they helped him recover whatever sanity he had left.

In 1744, Davenport published a confessional pamphlet in which he admitted that he had been “under the powerful influence of the false Spirit.” The Boston Weekly Post Boy had earlier concluded in a March 28, 1743 article that Davenport seemed physically stressed, and all concurred that he could again take the pulpit, though that new pulpit would be in far-away New Jersey where he could be ignored and forgotten. The Davenport episode exhibits some curious features of evolving New England culture. The Puritans began (and got their sobriquet) with a desire to purify their church and culture, and that impulse clearly still burned strong (though not strong enough to justify igniting one’s pants). The press, as used by Chauncy, was a powerful device to name and shame, but it was also a powerful device to publicly seek penance, fulfilling Calvin’s conviction that “without forgiveness no man is pleasing to God.” And had Davenport removed his pants in a town square and admitted to being “under the powerful influence of the false Spirit” in the 1650s, he may very well have joined his pants in the fire. But the Assemblies and courts and newspapers all charged Davenport with having a mental illness, though they would possess neither the nomenclature nor the knowledge to diagnose it further. Rationalism had firmly taken hold in the context of Congregational confession and redemption. A sense of community filtered through rationalism and individual responsibility empowered the press to act in the stead of a public witch trial and further enabled the community to effectively deal with madness, and a unifying ethos to begin to form. Though still driven by a desire to purify, these New Englanders weren’t too fond of pants-liberating “over-heated imagination.”

The Davenport imbroglio demonstrates a remarkable petri dish of institutional cultivation, as new ideas quickly develop, grow, and die or further reproduce into significance. We find the issues of institutional control, governance, the press, social cohesion and rebellion being acted out in the grand theater of institutional instability, of overt threats to established institutions and cultural exhaustion at the beginning of the second millennium of feudalism.[1] And in Davenport’s flaming pants we find the questions how do institutions conceive, gestate, birth, mature and die? And yet, the question of institutional viability so often encapsulated in why did Rome fall is never a reasonable entry point. The reasonable question is: how did Rome survive for centuries? Or, perhaps the more brazen question: how did Byzantium survive for a thousand years? Historians put the usual existential defenses and threats under a microscope — invaders and water supply and droughts and taxes — and yet miss the profundus primae.[2]

The deceptive fragility of institutions

Societies are defined by their institutions, which wield power and influence among groups, individuals, lesser nodes of influence and power and are fueled or incinerated by their Davenports and the march of history. Typically, institutions include the government (that entails systemic power such as bureaucrats), government leaders (king/queen), church/religious leaders, the very wealthy (often, land owners), military leaders (who may or may not be aligned with any of the foregoing), and many others. Regardless whether an institution is good or bad (whatever that means), they are stabilizing forces because they are known quantities. Known quantities are always better than unknown quantities for social cohesion and stability, even if one is opposed opposed to them, one is at least opposed to something and has a target.[3] And this stabilizing quality also makes them targets.

Institutions are not just fulcra of power but also targets of competitors and casualties of the march of history — entropy. Individuals who are institutions (king, wealthy feudal landowner) may be targets individually, but institutions wherein the power is systemic are targets systemically; the objective isn’t to replace an individual but rather to replace the system. Alignment between and among institutions may occur to increase power and influence but also for defensive purposes (e.g. between church and state, as in modern Saudi Arabia). Similarly, an institution may be targeted by new forces or by other institutions (new forces such as the Reformation or other institutions, such as Henry VIII’s abolition of the monasteries).

The initial challenge of any institution is chaos; conjuring order from disorder requires tremendous resources. The ongoing challenges are both as accidental and intentional target and inevitable systematic entropy. In thermodynamics, entropy explains why the resources of a system aren’t all available for work, or why output can never equal input (among other reasons).[4] All closed physical systems increasingly produce less. The output will be increasingly less than the input, or achieving the same output requires increasingly greater input. To put it simply, closed systems decay in the physical world.

One of the institutions that developed and hardened in the modern world is the corporation. After WWII, these corporations rose to become major institutions in the U.S. and most of the developed world (in fact, “developed world” could be defined as the nations whose corporations qualify as national institutions). And nothing defines ‘corporate institution’ as well as the Dow Jones Industrial Average. Of course, that none of the original twelve 1896 components of the Dow still exist perhaps isn’t surprising. But corporation-as-national-institution really took hold in the 1950s, and the Dow was revised in 1959 to reflect these titans of the new world order. Of the 30 components of the 1959 Dow, only 14 still exist and only three are still part of the Dow. So in barely a half a century, most of the largest companies in the largest economy (and, in many cases, these were the largest companies on earth), have significantly declined; almost half these mid-century titans no longer even exist. While it is perhaps comprehensible that the largest company ever to exist — the Dutch East India Company, with a valuation of about $7 trillion in current USD and essentially responsible for building Amsterdam — evaporated into nothing a century after the height of its global domination, one should consider that it’s perfectly reasonable — in fact, evidence suggests — that most of today’s Dow components won’t be on the Dow in fifty years and about half won’t even exist. Robespierre awaits the next modérés.[5] Apple? Boeing? ExxonMobil? IBM? McDonalds? Walmart?

Sclerotic institutions, such as large, old corporations, must fight both competitors and entropy. To combat decay, increasingly greater input is required, but increasingly greater input eventually becomes impossible or wildly inefficient, so that all systems (corporations, nations, universities) are hurling willy-nilly toward gross inefficiency. At which point the system collapse (becomes disordered) and must be constituted anew.[6] There’s no evidence of success against entropy. The system must be rebuilt, reconstituted, revised (which itself involves entropy).[7]

Countries and their institutions are deceptively fragile. The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica was one of the monuments of its time, filtering the promise of Linnaeus and Diderot through late Victorian hubris; it contains entries for 152 countries. Though these 152 countries rest on the firmament of encyclopedic entry, over the century that followed, the number of countries that suffered revolution, civil war, invasion or national vivisection is 146. Only six of the 152 countries did not suffer existential threat; most did not survive the vicissitudes of history. And that’s fairly standard for a century on Earth.

The core overt dynamic of a nation is the competition among its institutions and its challengers. These challengers aren’t always openly seeking the destruction of institutions; Martin Luther did not initially intend to rend asunder Catholicism just as the American rebels did not initially intend to extract a continent from the United Kingdom, and entropy — the irreversible yet deceptive competitor — does not possess a bias other than the forward march of time.[8]

The long march to les pantalon enflame

Since about the second century, feudalism provided the general framework that enabled more stable institutions, which established themselves not merely as a source of influence and power but also within the ordered ecosystem of influence and power of the feudal structure. Feudalism promised an orderly and stable universe at the price of freedom and mobility. The first strike against feudalism was in the Catholic Church’s tenth century establishment of equality before the law; the Church operated moral courts (essentially analogous to modern criminal courts). If all Christians had souls and hence would be judged equally before God, then they would be judged equally before the court.[9] The argument extinguished Christian slavery. And while slavery metastasized to non-Christians, about whom Christians were optimistic did not possess souls, the recognition of the individual soul was the primogenitor of agency.[10] And agency is fertile soil for growing friction.

While the Church’s establishment of equality before the court provided the tableau to challenge the feudal structure, it did not necessarily provide the means. Slaves became serfs, the wealthy still had better legal representation, and some confection of monarchy-oligarchy generally prevailed. And yet with increasing industrialization and urbanization, and the advent of the printing press in the fifteenth century, individual agency grew as a force. Cromwell dealt a glancing blow, more effective to Charles’s head than to the feudal structure, but the American revolution dealt the fatal blow to the feudal structure. The Declaration of Independence was feudalism’s death sentence and was written in the hothouse of ideas — such as the social contract and the right of rebellion — that fundamentally challenged the old institutional order.[11] In the same century, we find Linnaeus attempting to label the natural world and Diderot attempting to catalog nearly everything else. The tools they created — neat labels and boxes for every idea, person, institution and action and classifiers capable of categorizing everything — provided the foundation necessary for challenging the established institutional taxonomies.

Shortly thereafter we have the invention of public school, first with (somewhat) universal grammar schools and, by the end of the 19th century, with the invention of high school. The work of Linnaeus and Diderot continued with Darwin, Freud, and Marx. Importantly, Marx was not a producer of policy — Marxist policies are later inventions by various demagogues; rather, Marx is a theorist of history whose foremost contribution was first to enshrine struggle as the goal and then to establish the rejection and reinvention of consciousness as the means by which new societies are created. Marx, in seemed, promoted the rejection of reality as currently constructed and its replacement with a new reality.[12] Many were attracted by the means to apply Linnaeus and Diderot to attack institutions and aggregate power; their efforts percolated in dark academic alleys for decades, but on this fertile ground the unholy jackals of neo-marxists established themselves.[13] These neo-marxists sought to implement the Marxist vision with the “enthusiastical impressions and impulses” of a man who had just enflamed his own pants, altering language to the point of nonsense, cataloging the obvious as if it were new consciousness, fomenting without discrimination the destruction of institutions, and atomizing the young into a generation of Raskolnikovs. These deconstructionists and new historicists, awed by their own creation like a toddler with a dirty diaper, focused all of their publishing and tenuring efforts — which is to say, all of their efforts — on violently reducing institutions until there remained but a tiny reflective speck in which to transfix their gaze to view a distorted reflection of themselves.

The origin of governments may be organic but they transform into inorganic institutions; they typically do not participate in the market of institutions because of their ability to coerce. Though with the advent of individual agency (and attendant results, such as increases in the franchise), states sought to conceal their newly exposed coercive power with soft power. And so, just as the church wins souls, the state began to win minds via the cooption of education.[14]

By the 1950s, we have the general establishment of universal K12 education, and a vast increase of college attendance (largely via the GI Bill). Prior to this period, colleges were largely irrelevant to nations (the bulk of the Enlightenment did not occur in colleges). Education — both K12 and higher ed — as institution was then firmly established by the early 1960s. Through massive government subsidies, education rose symbiotically with large corporations as new institutions, nodes of massive national power and influence. Media and entertainment also rose as great national institutions (MLB, then NFL, then NBA; of course, Hollywood grew more influential with the pandemic of television, which reached critical mass in the 1970s as color television became pervasive).[15]

Private institutions don’t always start organically, but they do typically seek inorganic perpetuation — legal monopolies, barriers to entry, etc. — in order to combat both competitors and entropy.[16] Generally, both public and private universities are exceedingly fragile because they rely on the patronage of a fragile institution, the government.[17] Universities conceal their inorganic perpetuation under the guise of ‘contributions to the nation’ or ‘humanity’ or some veneer of national importance, clearly evident in college football (yes, what humanity requires is more brain damage).[18] Corporations sometimes attempt but usually fail to sustain such patronage (though they do, cf. defense industry re “keeping us safe” and banks re regulation; regulations disproportionately affect smaller companies and are barriers to entry, and thus are a form of rent-seeking.)[19] Of course, in a non-virtuous cycle, the primary proponent of rent-seeking regulations are the rent-seeking universities.

“The people are drinking, the educated youth are burning themselves up in idleness, in unrealisable dreams and fancies, crippling themselves with theories.”

And so in the first millennium, we have the establishment of institutions — government, church, military. Adjacent institutions, such as the law and entertainment, begin to form (often from and increasingly independent of these initial institutions, as evidenced by the relationship between the Church and medieval theater).[20] By the middle of the second millennium, these initial institutions suffer from irreversible entropy, at which point competitive threats become existential threats; the Reformation, the press, an ever-growing franchise, urban merchants and rural machines all menace the ordered universe of agrarian feudalism. By the nineteenth century, these institutions are fundamentally weak and generally replaceable. The press expands, individual identity and agency broadens in force and application, education-as-institution takes root. By the twentieth century, we find collapsing in quick succession the empires and institutions of millennia past. And challengers rushed the field from all directions.[21] The establishment of feudalism required centuries and so will its dismemberment; digital institutions will not replace traditional institutions more quickly but rather their viability to do so can be assessed more quickly. And many institutions sense their own fragility, which is perhaps one explanation why Facebook demonstrates such morally questionable behavior. Facebook is aware that as it established itself quickly, so too can it be quickly replaced. Thomas Jefferson, reflecting on the Revolution, wrote, “What country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.” He was, of course, referring to not just government but all institutions, including Facebook and the components of the Dow.[22]

The invention of the individual and the weaponization of taxonomy are the key features from the post enlightenment that enabled the jackals of 20th century to prowl weakened and entropy-ridden traditional institutions.[23] If history doesn’t repeat, it stutters, then the university is stuttering medieval monasticism at its obscurantist extreme; yet while the church invented individual agency, the university has cankered it until the reductio ad absurdum smolders like the embers of a minister’s pants on a cold New England night. Davenport’s prodigal purge and the Great Awakening had threatened church, state, and Yale. Connecticut and Yale titularly regrouped and recovered; the church splintered but, more importantly, transformed its talents for introspection and purification into the political animation required to commit an act as insane as declaring war on the world’s greatest empire. Structural fragility and libidinous jackals are standard features of any civilization; pants will be ignited. The test is whether a civilization possesses the dynamism to harness and transform the heat of its burning pants into something new and good or whether it ossifies into an institutional desperation to maintain power or whether it burns to nothingness in a quest for the pure.


[1] Individual Puritan congregations were the sole source of religious power at the time; so much so that ministers were only ordained when employed by a congregation (so essentially, a congregation ordained or unordained a minister; there was no higher authority … or ‘controlling authority,’ as Al Gore would say). So if a crazy congregation hires a crazy minister, then that minister is fully ordained, and there’s no authority that can limit or reverse such decisions. From the Davenport mess was developed presbyters in the Puritan church; these church elders were a new, greater authority over individual churches. Of course, per custom, many Puritan churches treated this new Presbyterian order as a new plague and went their separate ways. The drama of a small group of people with unchecked power to exercise their insanity and ignorance to appoint an insane leader explains the election of U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

[2] I made up this bit of Latin, meaning “the deep first.” Shakespeare also made up words.

[3] Note for Hillary Clinton: this is why a stable but evil regime in Libya is usually preferable to chaos.

[4] Should note that Boltzmann’s work on the second law of thermodynamics became to be known as the law of disorder; that systems probabilistically increase entropy until they reach (“achieve”) maximum entropy, which is to say, maximum disorder (which is a kind of order, but that ouroboros of thermodynamics is for another essay). From another perspective, the second law of thermodynamics describes perpetual and increasing rates of decay. I won’t get into the supposed paradox of the irreversibility of such decay (explained, I think, by some connection unknown to us cognitive monkeys between the creation of the universe and the direction of time), but I will point out that I’ve surreptitiously connected all this to A.I. The “second law of thermodynamics” Boltzmann is the Boltzmann machine Boltzmann, restricted or otherwise.

[5] Robespierre Constant: there are always people/institutions willing or motivated to kill you, your institutions and your culture. The variables are opportunity and access. Motivation may be direct or indirect. Result is the same. The early Soviets and their French historian valets tended to admire and praise Robespierre.

[6] This explains why IBM buys RedHat. For 30 years, IBM has been in state of increasing entropy; it simply requires more input to achieve the same output. So in order to achieve the same output, IBM buys RedHat — a massive input. Of course, IBM will achieve a diminished output (entropy adoption is fairly significant in corporate acquisitions such that smaller acquired companies with less entropy tend to adopt the greater entropy of the larger acquiring companies).

[7] Curiously, thermodynamic entropy is also fundamental to the concept of irreversibility. For isolated systems, entropy never decreases and exists in an irreversible process. This is largely analogous to all systems; the solution for irreversible entropy among corporations and government is to not remain an isolated system, so IBM buys RedHat and Soviets invade Afghanistan. The second law of thermodynamics essentially requires that an isolated system become unisolated. Of course, in civil theory, there are no true isolated systems though one could argue that some nations have attempted this time to time, such as Japan prior to their Manchurian shenanigans.

[8] In a social context, entropy is often labelled “cultural exhaustion”; I suppose entropy could be termed energy- or thermal-exhaustion. I prefer the term entropy because “cultural exhaustion” is both too limited and too imprecise. Cultures may survive, depending how robust they are, in new situations and institutions. It is the exhausted institutions that decay; the exhaustion is most clearly in terms of supporting an institution as it may or may not apply to the culture itself. I would argue that the U.K. was reaching cultural exhaustion by the early 18th century and the U.S. is a resulting institution from that 18th century culture. The decline of the U.K. did not begin with WW1 or WW2 but rather occurred when the dialogue around social norms was removed from the church to the press in the first half of the 18th century. Victorian England attempted to reverse this decline but, as we know, entropy is irreversible.

[9] The establishment of the individual soul and its potential for salvation is the animating concept in all Western progress. Once the non-fungible soul is established, then all else — democracy, rights, education — is built upon it.

[10] A great ensuing conflict was whether to convert these non-Christians, as doing so would threaten the permissibility of enslaving them.

[11] Commentator Charles Krauthammer began an article with this sentence: “We’re in the midst of a great four-year national debate on the size and reach of government, the future of the welfare state, indeed, the nature of the social contract between citizen and state.” While it’s a given that a pundit’s job is to have opinions and not necessarily informed opinions, this was an unfortunate remark from a pundit who usually is above unfortunate remarks. First, to suggest that the “social contract” is between the “citizen and state” is a freshman mistake. The social contract is between the people, and the contract is an agreement to concede some of their rights to an objective (and presumably neutral) organization in order to secure other rights and privileges. Hence, the contract creates the state. The state cannot be a party to the contract, as the state cannot exist prior to the contract and does not have the ability to concede the people’s rights. That’s how traditional political philosophy construes the social contract. Second, many of our founding fathers, Otis chief among them, found the entire concept of the social contract absurd. It doesn’t actually exist and cannot exist, and no person alive recalls conceding their rights to the states. It’s an academic chimera and, as such, isn’t worth considering. My advice to pundits: First, don’t mention the social contract. It’s a silly academic meme that adds no value to the discussion and even many of our founding fathers recognized it as a meme to troll despots, not a productive concept for exploring social constructs; second, if you’re compelled to mention the social contract, at least learn what it is and is not. The state is not nor can be a party to it.

[12] The primary objective of early communists, after murdering assorted and supposed oligarchs, is consistently to establish government-by-propaganda. Most Marxists then devolve to inveterate classifiers, Stalin’s late regime almost comically so. One of the many diseases of political actors and community organizers is the fetish of labeling.

[13] Generally referring to Lacan, Foucault and Derrida, though I prefer to drag in the sophist I studied the most: Lefebvre. The hallmark of the jackals is their revelry in obscurantist ignorance; they enjoyed abusing the French language as much as they enjoyed abusing history (their knowledge of which was so severe one assumes it was intentional; unfortunately, their readers aren’t usually aware that mid-century French philosophers took Marx seriously and tended to reinvent the past in their own image). Before the neo-marxists, there were the Jacobins of the French Revolution. Largely similar but the Jacobins had not much beyond Diderot and the guillotine, whereas the nouveau jackals feasted on the corpses of so many Victorian fetishes.

[14] States move from “shock and awe” to “winning hearts and minds” in foreign action because this process mirrors their domestic strategy.

[15] The internet did not kill publishing; color television did. The Internet was just another nail in an already constructed coffin. Cf. all the bankruptcies of publications in the 1960s-70s.

[16] Most of Russia’s and China major corporations have inorganic origins. “Inorganic perpetuation” is often termed as “rent seeking.”

[17] Another form of university rent-seeking from the government is their (increasingly bizarre) non-profit status. Favorable and systemic IRS treatment is rent seeking. There are over 7,000 institutions of higher education listed with the U.S. Department of Education and over 1,700 non-profit 4-year colleges. How many would survive the absence of government patronage? Maybe a few dozen.

[18] Any institution that survives because it is isolated from competition, fed by patronage, and elevated to an existential protected status is almost certainly inherently weak.

[19] The internet would break if one were to attempt to catalog all the rent-seeking in which incumbent corporations engage. One of my favorites is National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and EPA regulations for cars. Since the NHSTA was established nearly 50 years ago, their regulations have not distinguished between a company producing millions of cars and a small business making a few custom cars. NHTSA’s regulatory bludgeon has nearly suffocated small car companies in the crib. In the first half of the 20th century, there were dozens of car start-ups. After NHSTA regulations, there have been almost none. In December 2015, Congress passed new legislation that differentiates between mass production manufacturers and small manufacturers, allowing small manufacturers some flexibility in vehicle production. According to the government, ‘mass production’ means making more the 325 cars per year. The new NHSTA regulations were to be promulgated within one year — by December 2016. As of now, December 2018, they still haven’t been issued. In the end, large corporations successfully suffocated competition under the guise of reasonable regulation.

[20] The law is often an original component of civilizations, but here I mean as an independent institution or, at least, robust enough to be considered its own institution and not merely the king’s adjutant. Accounting is similar; often present in the earliest iterations of civilizations but not initially developed enough to be its own institution. Accounting becomes its own institution in the late medieval, largely in Italian states and largely due to innovations around double-entry bookkeeping.

[21] Challengers to traditional institutions included everything from guilds transforming and reviving into labor unions, at first threatening then often aligning with government, to the invention of human rights, though the later was more of an ex post facto vindication of revolution bloodshed than a coherent ideology. The institutional melee of the 20th century began a century earlier and, of course, includes everything from the very popular utopian campgrounds of the 19th century to Scientology and Facebook.

[22] https://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/jefferson-the-works-vol-5-correspondence-1786-1789#Jefferson_0054-05_433

[23] From whence comes pseudo academia such a sociology and incoherent terms such as ‘transphobia.’ A flagrant display of taxonomic warfare is a recent report on digital influence; the report itself is but obscene confirmation bias, but the consciousness it attempts to create is such naked neo-marxism it seems impolite to bring it up publicly. Never-the-less: https://datasociety.net/output/alternative-influence/

About Nathan Allen

Formerly of Xio Research, an A.I. appliance company. Previously a strategy and development leader at IBM Watson Education. His views do not necessarily reflect anyone’s, including his own. (What.) Nathan’s academic training is in intellectual history; his next book, Weapon of Choice, examines the creation of American identity and modern Western power. Don’t get too excited, Weapon of Choice isn’t about wars but rather more about the seeming ex nihilo development of individual agency … which doesn’t really seem sexy until you consider that individual agency covers everything from voting rights to the cash in your wallet to the reason mass communication even makes sense….