Traveling the Far East with Lord Curzon

In the last few months, I have found myself reading and enjoying what I think of as a “family” of blogs. First, there is Thomas Barnett’s blog, wherein he covers his own travels and doings, promoting his vision of the Core and Gap and how to shrink the latter by expanding the former, through enterprise resilience and development in a box amongst other means. Barnett has a small selection of blogs on his blogroll, among which the ChicagoBoyz are honored to have a place (due I think primarily to this and this). A few of these blogs have been engaged in something like a polymorphous, attenuated and elaborated conversation with Barnett, and with each other, which is greater than the sum of its parts. In particular, I would mention Mark Safranski’s excellent ZenPundit, the unique TDAXP, Coming Anarchy, and in a somewhat more distant orbit, the distressing future visions purveyed at Global Guerillas, as well as T.M. Lutas of Flit(tm) (and sometimes – though I wish more often – of ChicagoBoyz as well). These guys comment on each others’ blogs, pour forth frequent and high quality posts, about Barnett’s theories, about globalization, Fourth Generation Warfare, John Boyd and his OODA loop, political and military trends worldwide, and all kinds of other cool stuff, including abstruse topics, obscure people, and acronyms and terminology I barely understand. (In light of my own recent and near-total blog exhaustion, I am heartened and amazed at the quantity and quality from these guys.) Dan from TDAXP in particular has these posts with amazing charts and graphics, e.g. this one entitled “Secret Warriors Walk without Rhythm, Won’t Attract the Worm”. Dan’s posts often go plunging over the edge of my capacity to comprehend, but are still interesting.

Though it is hard to pick, the Coming Anarchy blog is probably my favorite, though is a damned near-run thing. It features three pseudonymous authors, who go by the names of distinguished Victorian men of letters and men of action, Curzon, Chirol and Younghusband. I get a kick out of this Neo-Victorian tone, which reminds me of my favorite recent SF book, Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer (Bantam Spectra Book) (source of the word “Anglosphere”, btw), and it appeals to my own retro-Victorian Anglophilia.

(Speaking of martial Victoriana check out this incredibly good version of Men of Harlech, sung by the Royal Regiment of Wales’ Band on the 120th anniversary of the battle of Rorke’s Drift, recorded in the church at Rorke’s Drift. From here.)

Coming Anarchy is named after The Coming Anarchy: Shattering the Dreams of the Post Cold War by Robert D. Kaplan of the same name. Kaplan is the source of their motto: “Speak Victorian, Think Pagan”, and is something of a patron saint of their blog. The Coming Anarchy team focuses on what might be called “strategic geography”. And in the footsteps of their hero, Kaplan, they go to remote places and report their findings.

Curzon recently had a a post introducing an excellent travelogue through Vietnam, China and Japan. This travelogue is a true labor of love, with many photos and even ambient sound from the various locations. This is journey very much worth traveling along with namesake of the erstwhile Viceroy of India. Bravo, Curzon.

Check it out.

Lyrics to Men of Harlech in the recorded version linked-to above:

Tongues of fire on Idris flaring,
news of foe-men near declaring,
to heroic deeds of daring,
calls you Harlech men

Groans of wounded peasants dying,
wails of wives and children flying,
for the distant succour crying,
calls you Harlech men.

Shall the voice of wailing,
now be unavailing,
You to rouse who never yet
in battles hour were failing,

His our answer crowds down pouring
swift as winter torrents roaring,
Not in vain the voice imploring,
calls on Harlech men

Loud the martial pipes are sounding
every manly heart is bounding
As our trusted chief surrounding,
march we Harlech men.

Short the sleep the foe is taking,
ere the morrows morn is breaking,
They shall have a rude awakening,
roused by Harlech men.

Mothers cease your weeping,
calm may be your sleeping,
you and yours in safety now
the Harlech men are keeping,

ere the sun is high in heaven
they you fear by panic riven
shall like frightened sheep be driven,
far by Harlech men.

If that song does not lift your chin and straighten your spine and stir your blood you, sir, are not alive.

(The Harlech men, as depicted in this version seem to combine both Leviathan and SysAdmin functions.)

5 thoughts on “Traveling the Far East with Lord Curzon”

  1. Many thanks for the kind words, and the links. I can’t speak for my cobloggers, but I at least actually also found you through Barnett’s blog. And as for your description, “patron saint” is the best one I’ve heard yet!

  2. Plunging Over the Edge of Comprehension, today.
    Plunging Over the Edge of Comprehension, tomorrow.
    Plunging Over the Edge of Comprehension, forever!


  3. FYI: when I recently did training session with mid-career intell analysts, I gave them all snapshots of these blogs, explaining much the same stuff that Lex does here.

    I was a bit surprised, but blogs were completely alien to these guys and gals. I was sort of stunned.

    Won’t say this is true through Intell Community, but I do believe there is a profound insularity at work there.

  4. Tom, I suspect that they don’t know how to get initiated into the “blog world” since it is like a vast jungle and you need a “native guide” to get started.

    However, as you know, the better ones are written by knowledgeable people who have all kinds of real-world knowledge, and they have much good thinking, including off the wall thinking, that could be a source of good ideas and insights and “out of the box” mental provocation — all of which might be useful for the professionals.

    I think the blogs on your blogroll would be a good place for the intell folks to start, and they could fan out from there.

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