Garland Nixon and The Duran: Only halfway there… Great cycles of history

Garland Nixon published a video analysis regarding the changes in the world and their implications. There is an error in his otherwise brilliant analysis. He sees the US as fighting against ‘modernity’, not against Russia and China. In his eyes, the US are tilting against windmills in their mind, though the windmills have a real-world similitude. Note 1.

This analysis I will present requires detailed documentation and complex analysis, which I will do in the future, but for now, I shall provide a simplified version.

 Garland Nixon and The Duran (Alex Mercouris) have the same weakness.

While they both recognise that the world is changing profoundly, they both consider these changes to be more superficial than they actually are. For both, there is a move from Unipolar to multi-polar but otherwise the world remains the same. Physics is physics. Not so. These changes are not under anyone’s power to control, nor does anyone know the configuration of this new world. It is far more complicated than simply the dethroning of the US. Exactly how this new world is going to work remains to be discovered. This aspect complicates for actors what options they are facing. There are those who are particularly ‘sensitive’ to the world/universe, who sense the enormous changes that have come and are coming. But there are others who seek to ‘think their way through’ the new changes. This attempt to think it all through will not work as one is effectively sampling past eras to estimate likely consequences in the future, which assumes the future will essentially be like the past. Ray Dalio makes a similar error.

A more thorough analysis requires a trip back to the greatest political philosopher of the 20th century – George Jackson. Jackson explained that the difference between authoritarian /fascist and liberal democracy was seriously misunderstood. The appearance of liberal democracy as tolerant and diverse reflected wealth and security. Nazi and other authoritarian regimes of the early 20th century were severely insecure. But even democracies, if they were under severe stress, would introduce serious restrictions on freedom for their citizens. When reactionary regimes were secure they were able to tolerate considerable amounts of dissent and diversity. After 9/11 the US showed that under quite small amounts of stress the US was willing to abandon much of its cherished ‘values’. Rejection of torture, rule of law, due process were all almost immediately and publicly abandoned. This Jackson predicted. According to Jackson’s perspective, the US did not abandon its true values after 9/11. It merely tore off the mask.

However, the greatest blindspot in Garland Nixon and The Duran is their inability to be able to understand great historical cycles. Ancient Egypt believed in great cycles. So much so that they believed that they, the Black Africans who were then known as the wisest and most beautiful people, would one day become known as the stupidest and ugliest. That would be the inevitability of historical cycles. With that in mind, they built pyramids that would survive the reversal and in the pyramids they encoded some of the secrets of their wisdom and civilisation so that it should never be forever lost. It would be there when the reversal reversed. When the cycle returned, the African people would be able to rediscover the glory of their past.

Queen Elizabeth 1 when confronted with the proposal that England become a serious slave trading state asked if there would not be some divine retribution or reversal? This sense that the great looting and enslaving must have a day of judgment never left the European mind. Then came Immanuel Kant with a solution. There may be a reversal of fortune in the future but if you have wiped out your victims there will be no descendants around to take revenge. Kant recorded his pleasure at the successful extermination of the native Americans.

This was the European answer to reversals. Extermination was explicitly considered by the Nazis as the ‘final’ solution, as there could not be a reversal of fortune if all Jews were dead. That is the meaning of ‘final’.

Another consequence of the lack of ‘judgment’ or retribution for widespread genocide, rape, plunder and looting was, on the one hand a precipitous decline in the belief in God. On the other hand, there was a development of a theology of the ‘elect’. Only some people were chosen by God before birth to be saved (all of them ‘white’) and they would be saved regardless of their sins on earth. The rest of humanity was condemned to eternal damnation from birth regardless of the quality of their lives. Not surprisingly, such doctrines were popular in The Netherlands whose rape and plunder of the spice islands had resulted in apparently unbelievable wealth and no retribution from the divine.

There was, however, another doctrine that when evil becomes triumphant, it is evil itself that brings about its own destruction. The Westerm empires destroyed themselves in two horrendous world wars just at a time when their eternal domination of the world seemed apparent. Evil destroys itself. At the end of WW2 the US, a ‘white’ power, enters the scene as the dominant world power. In retrospect, the Cold War largely mirrored racial divisions. Of course, racial empires often had many `allies’ or lackeys or askaris among subject nations, allowing those who do not wish to see or acknowledge the reality to continue to deceive themselves. The US was Europe’s protection against a reversal. Europe’s ferocity after WW2 to reestablish itself, for example, in Viet Nam, Algeria, Malaya , Kenya to name a few, must be seen as primarily a fear of reversal. The economics failed to justify or explain these endeavours. Putin laces this and many earlier speeches with strong hints at the racial dimension of the West’s engagement with the rest of the world using code words such as ‘Anglo-Saxon. This aspect of Europe seeing the US as a protector of the ‘white’ race is a stream that Garland Nixon does not see. It takes many streams to make a great river. 

Understanding this leads us to Putin’s great speech. The Duran misunderstood this speech as an appeal to the Global South. That would be a pointless and trivial speech. It is only Westerners who have not heard these matters almost ad nauseam from many Global South theorists, particularly senior thinkers in East Asia. Of course, many Western commentators simply yawned. They say to themselves: heard all this before, this is ‘blah blah blah’.

What Putin is doing is something different. He is publicly ‘calling time’. He is saying that the great cycle of history where Europe plundered the world is over, and a new historical cycle has started. For Europeans, he is saying: the great reversal is upon you. That is why Putin’s speech was so full of references to the sweep of history and placing Russia on a particular side of the reversal.

Garland Nixon was so close when he stated that the US was not really fighting Russia or China but some other great inner ‘ghost’. He came up with the word ‘modernity’, which term, however, has a technical meaning in Western cultural theory. One can see what he was struggling to define. Putin was declaring what the US elites fear more than armageddon – the Great Reversal is upon you.


  1.  EU leaders caught between an angry empire and an angry electorate