“A lot of people are feeling relieved, or saying they’re ‘grateful to Admiral Yamamoto’ because there hasn’t been a single air raid. They’re very wrong: the fact that the enemy hasn’t come is no thanks to Admiral Yamamoto, but to the enemy himself. So if they want to express gratitude to somebody, I wish they’d express it to America. If the latter really made up its mind to wade in on us, there’d be no way of defending a city like Tokyo.”
– Isoroku Yamamoto
“A war is not lost until you consider it lost.”
– Erich von Manstein
In recent days, the phrase ”Let’s go Brandon!” has taken on a life of its own. At one point, four out of ten songs on the Spotify top 10 list were called ”Let’s go Brandon”. People are saying it as a form of greeting, or wearing it on t-shirts. For some, this is just a funny gag. For others, it is a source of significant and growing dread; dread about what is happening politically in the United States, and what the future now looks to have in store for them.
For those of you who don’t know the context: at a recent NASCAR event in New Jersey, the crowd could be heard chanting ”Fuck Joe Biden!” after the race. During an interview with the winner of the race – a man named Brandon Brown – the flustered reporter, hearing the chant, then says on camera that the crowd must be very enthused for Brandon, as they’re all chanting ”Let’s go Brandon!” in his honor. Of course, they crowd is doing no such thing, and she and everyone else knows it. This little episode, on its own, is hardly very remarkable or significant. Others slowly pick up on the story and mock the journalist involved. But at this point, it is merely just another day of ”fake news”, another day of the liberal media being the liberal media.
However, like a dangerous respiratory virus, this little ”Brandon incident” then incubates for a week or two, before blossoming out into something far more serious, into a true social event. People start saying ”Let’s go Brandon!” at random, both as a mockery of the sitting president, but also as a way to mock the now increasingly toothless media apparatus, who fewer and fewer seem to take seriously at all. And this is where things become truly interesting: as at least one pilot then tells his passengers ”Let’s go Brandon!” before takeoff, liberal America starts to actually freak out. At this point, think pieces are produced by NPR and others claiming that there’s a new form of conspiratorial ”code speak” that ”racists” are now using to note their displeasure with the sitting president. Others demand the offending pilot be fired, as it is obvious that he isn’t really saying ”Let’s go Brandon!”, he’s actually saying ”Fuck Joe Biden!”. The irony here should be quite obvious, as liberals are now decrying people for playing along with the very same cover story they invented out of thin air to cover up what is clearly growing dissatisfaction with president Biden.
Some have taken this to be just another funny episode of ”internet humor” leaking into the real world. But this is, to put it frankly, the delusions of an intellectual class who themselves enjoy being ironic on the internet, and who then quite myopically assume that everyone else must think and act the way they do. Middle aged female nurses, as a rule, do not use 4chan, nor are they versed in, or at all interested in, the finer points of ironic ”internet humor”. Political humor, coming from normal, working class people, might superficially resemble that of irony-poisoned college graduates. But in reality, they have very little in common.
Moreover, there’s a very large, very obvious flaw in this explanation of events. Again, the crowds at that NASCAR race weren’t chanting ”Let’s go Brandon!” they were chanting ”Fuck Joe Biden!”, and by all accounts, they certainly weren’t being ironic about that. No coded language was intented, no mental jiu-jitsu performed. Only when the media tried to use its incredibly hollow and thoroughly unimpressive powers of ”mind control” did people start with ironic mockery, and that mockery was aimed both at the president as well as the clear powerlessness of the chattering classes to control the narrative or get people to believe them. And so, perhaps unsurprisingly, when airplane passenger hear the phrase ”Let’s go Brandon!” spoken over the intercom, they don’t necessarily hear just a joke, but also a reminder that a political conflict they had tried to suppress is very much still real.
But even with all this said, many a reader will probably want to ask a simple question: why does any of this matter? Though I would argue that the sudden explosion of ”Let’s go Brandon!” in American culture actually means a very great deal, to truly explain why this joke is so funny to some, and so unnerving to others, we have to do so by way of a metaphor. To truly understand why many liberals are so scared of what others consider to still be merely a harmless joke, we have to talk a bit about a concept known as Kantai Kessen, the Japanese naval war doctrine during World War II. Do not worry, the relevance of this concept to today’s America will hopefully become clear as we go along.
Kantai Kessen translates literally as ”naval fleet decisive battle”, but in western parlance it is often simply called the ”Decisive Battle Doctrine”. To understand this doctrine, it’s worth talking for a second about why the Japanese attacked the US at Pearl Harbor in 1941.
Japan had been an incredibly isolationist country for hundreds of years until – ironically enough – it was the Americans who forced them to open up in the middle of the 19th century. The Japanese at that point wished for nothing more than to be left alone on their island forever, but the American navy told the Japanese quite bluntly that unless they agreed to trade with them, the American ships would open fire on the city of Edo (a city which has since then been renamed to Tokyo), using their very modern guns that the isolationist Japanese had absolutely no way of defending against.
The Japanese quickly realize that while they’ve been living in splending isolation on their island for several hundred years, the rest of the world has changed dramatically. The rest of Asia is now being colonized by Europeans, and even great China – the ancient middle kingdom itself – is completely powerless to stop the barbarians. At this point, the Japanese adopt the attitude that they can either themselves become imperialists like the westerners, or they can become colonized, like China. Or, as the Japanese themselves so prosaically put it: jakuniku kyoshoku. This phrase can be translated a few different ways (most often it is translated as ”the law of the jungle” or ”survival of the fittest” ) but its literal meaning is ”the weak are meat, the strong eat”. Having the choice between eating their fill or being the main course at someone else’s dinner party, the Japanese quickly opt for the former.
Two civil wars and a very painful process of industrialization and modernization later, the Japanese now have a modern army, a very powerful navy, and a growing industrial base. And so they start eating their neighbors, invading and annexing first Taiwan, then Korea, setting their sights on further expansion. At first they encounter little resistance; they have been very eager students of the westerners, and are now just as dangerous to the unprepared as the other colonial powers. But as the Japanese empire grows, they increasingly come into friction with the US, which is clearly beginning to see Japan as a rival that needs to be taken down a peg or two.
This is the runup to Pearl Harbor. Not long before the attack itself, the Japanese have invaded China yet again, in order to carve out even more ”meat” for themselves. While all imperialists come up with various pretexts to justify their actions, the Japanese truly do believe (and for quite good reason, given the fate of their neighbors in Asia) that they must never become weak enough for others to push them around like Commodore Perry once did. As a response to this latest bout of japanese expansionism, the US then begins embargoing oil shipments to Japan. Without that oil, Japan will figuratively and literally starve. The Japanese are not about to voluntarily dismantle their own empire and leave themselves to rely on the kindness of America – the weak are meat, and the strong eat, after all. Guided by this national logic, Japan then must attack, and it must attack soon.
Of course, the Japanese know that a fight against America is a total nightmare. The countries simply are not comparable: Japan is an island nation quite poor in the resources needed to run a modern military, while the US by comparison has nearly unlimited manpower and fully unlimited natural resources. Japan can be bombed, encircled, and starved into submission easily by the Americans, while the Japanese, no matter how well prepared, will never be able to touch the continental United States. But still, the japanese must attack, because standing still is impossible with the embargo hanging overhead, and retreating means becoming weak, and thus food for someone else.
As such, the Japanese put their unlikely hopes of prevailing over the Americans in the idea of forcing a ”decisive battle”, a fight where the utter inferiority of Japan in a long-term struggle hopefully won’t have time to matter. To brutally simplify the Japanese military thinking behind this doctrine, the Japanese hope at the start of the war is to attack Pearl Harbor and do as much damage as possible to the unprepared Americans, to tilt the odds in the short term heavily in their favor. Then, the Japanese hope that the Americans will be so enraged at this surprise attack that they fairly quickly gather what forces they have lying around and send them to battle against the IJN, which will destroy the less trained and technically inferior American force in detail. At this point, after having sustained heavy casualties in one large set piece battle, the Japanese hope the Americans will simply conclude that fighting with Japan is just too much trouble for too little reward, and agree to simply leave Japan alone to do as she wants in southeast Asia.
It should be noted that many people inside the Japanese high command think this plan will never work. But nobody can actually come up with a better idea; this method of forcing a large, decisive battle and then having the Americans agree to call the match there is the only way a war against the US can succeed.
Unfortunately for the Japanese, Kantai Kessen quickly fails. The attack on Pearl Harbor itself goes swimmingly, and the Americans are indeed incredibly angry as a result. After that, however, things begin to go catastrophically awry. Roosevelt goes on radio and predictably promises the Japanese pain and suffering, and then… then nothing happens. The Americans are furious, yes, but they don’t seek the quick and decisive battle the Japanese are hoping for. Instead they simply wait, and wait, and wait, focusing on the land war in Europe while building ships and preparing plans for when they will eventually take the war to Japan. And this is of course precisely the scenario in which the Japanese simply cannot win. If the Americans make this war about production and manpower, Japan will crumble; it is only a matter of time. The Imperial Japanese Navy isn’t defeated at Midway – it has in fact already lost the war the second the Americans refuse to follow the script the Japanese had – quite naively – laid out for them.
Now, consider the political situation in the United States in 2021, and what has transpired during the last twelve months. In a way, we have all been witnessing the execution of a modern political form of the Kantai Kessen, a decisive shock-and-awe campaign that is now clearly starting to run out of steam. To quickly recap the lead up to the current moment: in 2015, the Republican party was all about ”business as usual”, and the primary lineup was hailed as the most impressive crop of politicians on stage since those halcyon days of Ronald Reagan. Then, Trump descended that escalator, and he quickly upended the stable order of things completely. The impressive candidates were defeated quickly, almost effortlessly, by a notorious showman and an army made up of the angry, forgotten people of middle America.
At first, the democrats cheered, seeing this orange clown as easy prey for their putatively ”impressive” candidate, Hillary Clinton. But then Clinton lost, and this unlikely orange tribune of the deplorables became the most powerful person in the world. Large parts of the republican establishment refused to accept what had happened; the credentialed classes of America, almost to the last genderfluid xhe/xhim, violently refused to accept it. From day one, the election was widely seen as illegitimate, a result of ”Russian interference”, and at every turn, the Trump administration was met with bitter resistance from all corners of the media, the deep state, and the NGO world.
By mid-2020, it was clear that no one in America’s ”email job caste” would accept Trump winning another election. And from the death of George Floyd, until the aftermath of January the 6th, the email job caste of America put their own doctrine of Kantai Kessen into action. They gathered their strength and prepared for a mighty showdown, looking to strike such a ringing blow against the intruding plebeians and flyover deplorables that they would simply never be able to even think of fighting back again.
The George Floyd riots were famously hailed as ”fiery but mostly peaceful” by reporters standing in front of burned and destroyed buildings. And here, like a Japanese carrier group preparing to strike Pearl Harbor, all elements of the liberal ”woke” battle line now came together: they controlled the universities, they controlled the media, they controlled the NGOs, the upper echelons of big business, the tech companies, and command great majorities in such important professions such as judges, doctors, and teachers. In the runup to the elections, all elements of this war machine came toghether to make sure – by fair means or foul – that the election simply could not be won by Trump. Huge sums of NGO money flowed into various activist organizations, and the CEOs of some of the largest American companies eagerly lent their aid and economic clout to the war effort itself.
And just like the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, they succeeded. The overwhelming power behind this mighty fusion of media power, corporate buy-in, limitless NGO money, radical activists taking the battle to the streets, and constant political backup from the Democratic party and various state legislatures, city mayors and state governors was laid bare for the entire world to see. The social media companies banned the sitting president from having a platform, and censored stories (such as the Hunter Biden laptop) that were potentially harmful to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ chances.
Every sector of America’s ”knowledge worker” caste came together from the middle of 2020 up to the election and into its aftermath. Every single one. And it worked, in fact it worked perfectly – Joe Biden was, after a few interrupted vote counts here and there, hailed as the single most popular president in American history. Nobody could dispute this, and the sorry people who did (if they could even be called ”people” at all) were swiftly denounced as terrorists and traitors to the nation. The vote totals spoke for themselves, after all! In other words, the ”woke” really did it; they scored a perfect victory, just as the Japanese scored a perfect victory at Pearl Harbor. In 2016, the ”forgotten people” of America had, incredibly, used the power of their votes to narrowly push Trump over the finish line. In 2020, the very much not forgotten people of America’s urban cores and prestige institutions gathered all their might and routed the deplorables from the field.
Or so they hoped. It turns out that the liberal Kantai Kessen suffered from the same fatal flaw as the Japanese one: it is all well and good to sink all the ships in Pearl Harbor, but what do you do if the enemy then refuses to concede defeat? The significance of ”Let’s go Brandon!” spreading like wildfire outside the jaded internet set in this context is that it reveals for everyone just how powerless the media machine has now become. Nobody believes Joe Biden is the most popular president ever – nobody among the ”chuds” and the ”deplorables” would believe the likes of CNN about pretty much anything. And rather than being humiliated and broken, the American plebs are now acting just like the American sailors and soldiers did during World War 2: though none can deny that they have lost some battles and suffered real losses, surrender doesn’t seem to be forthcoming any time soon. Maybe surrender isn’t coming at all, ever. The ”decisive battle” that was the 2020 election was indeed decisive enough, but it increasingly looks like that simply doesn’t matter.
In a world where nobody is actually convinced by the media, the fact that you control the media doesn’t actually help you. Moreover, just like the Japanese in WW2, the ”email job caste” of America has a war machine that has already been maxed out. There are no reserves of fence-sitting journalists that can be drafted to fill in the holes and somehow make the message control more far-reaching or effective than it already is. There are no huge reservoirs of apolitical, unwoke university professors that can be drafted into talking some more sense into the chuds. What we all saw in 2020 represents, to some fairly significant extent, the full scope of the political, social and economic power of team blue in America today. And that team took its best shot in 2020, only to find out in 2021 that all that power has now decisively failed to settle any issues or end any conflicts in America. Team red is still there, and like the ”sleeping giant” that was America in 1941, they are now slowly waking up and starting to use their own power, on their own terms, in order to fight back.
And here we come to the real imbalance in the class war that currently rages in America, because it is now clearly very much a war between a great many people who have ”email jobs”, and the people who have jobs that keep the lights on, the garbage from piling up, that make sure that the fires are extinguished and the planes are flown. This imbalance of power is in some sense even more crippling than the one between Japan and America in World War 2, and one only needs to look at the growing number of empty shelves in America’s supermarkets, the stranded planes in her airports, and the growing mountains of garbage piling up on the streets of New York to see why.
In the conflict between the ”woke” and the ”deplorables”, the latter by and large work the kind of jobs where if people walk off the job, it takes days or even hours before one or more critical parts of modern society starts shutting down. If pilots call in sick, planes simply do not get flown. If truckers quit their jobs, every facet of the entire productive economy – from the smallest bakery to the biggest car manufacturer – will quickly become paralyzed and then starts to suffocate. If firemen refuse to go to work, the cities will quite literally burn down in short order.
But what happens if people at the average NGO stop showing up to work? What happens if an university professor in critical gender studies refuses to come into the office until this or that issue is solved? How many months or years will it take for the average citizen in flyover America to notice that this person is missing? And when they finally do notice that some gender commissar is refusing to show up at work, will they even care?
Here, the average member of America’s credentialed classes might point out how ridiculous such an argument is, that only a philistine, a luddite or a white supremacist would consider their jobs within academia, the media, and middle management to be useless. These jobs are really completely vital to a modern economy, and the fact that I even dare to question their necessity makes me a racist, a nazi, and a white supremacist. And maybe this is all true, but it actually doesn’t matter. I could be be the mongolian reincarnation of Adolf Hitler himself, but this will not change the fact that the guy who handles garbage collection is simply much, much more willing and able to go for long stretches without the oh-so-necessary Critical Race Theory commissars, than these commissar are able or willing to go without any garbage pickup. The HR manager might be ”just as important” as the truck driver on the level of platonic forms, but the truck driver is still willing and able to carry on forever without the HR manager showing up to work, while the HR manager will quite literally start starving to death in short order if the trucker doesn’t do his job. No moral hectoring or impotent crying about racism and white supremacy will ever change that basic imbalance between these two groups.
In 2020, the HR manager and CRT commissar pulled off their own little Pearl Harbor attack on the trucker and the pilot, and it was a very well-executed attack. All the targets were hit, all the objectives fulfilled. But when the trucker now refuses to go to work over Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates, and the pilot openly mocks the power and legitimacy of the media and the credentialed classes over his airplane intercom, the utter hopelessness of the woke position is increasingly made manifest. They had hoped for a decisive battle, after which the ”forgotten people” would go back to being forgotten. Instead, the email job caste of America now finds itself locked into a hopeless conflict against people whose work and toil they rely on, but who do not need them to anything close to the same degree. The media has failed at controlling the narrative or shaping public opinion, but there’s no more media that can be used. Censorship on social media platforms has failed to stop the spread of forbidden thought and subversive opinion, but there aren’t any big platforms left that didn’t partake in some way in 2020. The email job caste has almost exhausted all the tools in their arsenal, and the more traditional means of tyranny – such as sending in the armed forces – are clearly incredibly dangerous to use, given the demographics of the lower ranks of the armed forces. The power that’s been used thus far has not been enough, but it’s increasingly unclear where the email job caste will get more power from.
On the other side of the tangles of barbed wire, however, the sleeping giants that are America’s ordinary working men and women, her shopkeepers, firemen, nurses and train drivers, are now slowly freeing themselves from their torpor. Today, they are once again beginning to use muscles that some had forgotten were there all along. Unlike the email jobs caste, this caste of people are far from being ”maxed out”, indeed, they seem to have almost no limit on their potential power at all. It is by their work alone that the big cities where the email caste lives can keep going, and the more they are willing to use this power to fight back, the more doomed the email caste becomes.
Having spent much of their stored power on a shock and awe campaign that neither shocked nor awed the working men and women of America, the woke now increasingly hunker down for a long political war of attrition that they on some level must know they structurally cannot win, no matter how disciplined, fanatical, or moral they may be. So please, have some understanding if they choose not to find the humor in the simple phrase ”Let’s go Brandon!”. They have all the right in the world to not find any of this particularly funny.
After all, they know what that phrase really means.