Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Hate that Dare Not Speak its Name

As the United States stumbles toward the last act of its electoral process two days from now, and the new administration prepares to take over the reins of power from its feckless predecessor, the obligatory caterwauling of the losing side has taken on an unfamiliar shrillness. Granted, the behavior of both sides in the last few decades of American elections can be neatly summed up in the words “sore loser”; the Republicans in 1992 and 2008 behaved not one whit better than the Democrats in 1980 and 2000.  I think it’s fair, though, to say that the current example has plunged well past the low-water mark set by those dismal occasions. The question I’d like to discuss here is why that should be.

I think we can all admit that there are plenty of reasons why Americans might reasonably object to the policies and appointments of the incoming president, but the same thing has been true of every other president we’ve had since George Washington’s day. Equally, both of our major parties have long been enthusiastic practitioners of the fine art of shrieking in horror at the other side’s behavior, while blithely excusing the identical behavior on their side.  Had the election last November gone the other way, for example, we can be quite certain that all the people who are ranting about Donald Trump’s appointment of Goldman Sachs employees to various federal offices would be busy explaining how reasonable it was for Hillary Clinton to do exactly the same thing—as of course she would have.

That said, I don’t think reasonable differences of opinion on the one hand, and the ordinary hypocrisy of partisan politics on the other, explain the extraordinarily stridency, the venom, and the hatred being flung at the incoming administration by its enemies. There may be many factors involved, to be sure, but I’d like to suggest that one factor in particular plays a massive role here.

To be precise, I think a lot of what we’re seeing is the product of class bigotry.

Some definitions are probably necessary here. We can define bigotry as the act of believing hateful things about all the members of a given category of people, just because they belong to that category. Thus racial bigots believe hateful things about everyone who belongs to races they don’t like, religious bigots do the same thing to every member of the religions they don’t like, and so on through the dismal chronicle of humanity’s collective nastiness.

Defining social class is a little more difficult to do in the abstract, as different societies draw up and enforce their class barriers in different ways. In the United States, though, the matter is made a good deal easier by the lack of a fully elaborated feudal system in our nation’s past, on the one hand, and on the other, the tolerably precise dependency of how much privilege you have in modern American society on how much money you make. Thus we can describe class bigotry in the United States, without too much inaccuracy, as bigotry directed against people who make either significantly more money than the bigot does, or significantly less. (Of course that’s not all there is to social class, not by a long shot, but for our present purposes, as an ostensive definition, it will do.)

Are the poor bigoted against the well-to-do? You bet. Bigotry directed up the social ladder, though, is far more than matched, in volume and nastiness, by bigotry directed down. It’s a source of repeated amusement to me that rich people in this country so often inveigh against the horrors of class warfare. Class warfare is their bread and butter. The ongoing warfare of the rich against the poor, and of the affluent middle and upper middle classes against the working class, create and maintain the vast disparities of wealth and privilege in contemporary American society. What upsets the rich and the merely affluent about class warfare, of course, is the thought that they might someday be treated the way they treat everyone else.

Until last year, if you wanted to experience the class bigotry that’s so common among the affluent classes in today’s America, you pretty much had to be a member of those affluent classes, or at least good enough at passing to be present at the social events where their bigotry saw free play. Since Donald Trump broke out of the Republican pack early last year, though, that hindrance has gone by the boards. Those who want to observe American class bigotry at its choicest need only listen to what a great many of the public voices of the well-to-do are saying about the people who votes and enthusiasm have sent Trump to the White House.

You see, that’s a massive part of the reason a Trump presidency is so unacceptable to so many affluent Americans:  his candidacy, unlike those of all his rivals, was primarily backed by “those people.”

It’s probably necessary to clarify just who “those people” are. During the election, and even more so afterwards, the mainstream media here in the United States have seemingly been unable to utter the words “working class” without sticking the labels “white” in front and “men” behind. The resulting rhetoric seems to be claiming that the relatively small fraction of the American voting public that’s white, male, and working class somehow managed to hand the election to Donald Trump all by themselves, despite the united efforts of everyone else.

Of course that’s not what happened. A huge majority of white working class women also voted for Trump, for example.  So, according to exit polls, did about a third of Hispanic men and about a quarter of Hispanic women; so did varying fractions of other American minority voting blocs, with African-American voters (the least likely to vote for Trump) still putting something like fourteen per cent in his column. Add it all up, and you’ll find that the majority of people who voted for Trump weren’t white working class men at all—and we don’t even need to talk about the huge number of registered voters of all races and genders who usually turn out for Democratic candidates, but stayed home in disgust this year, and thus deprived Clinton of the turnout that could have given her the victory.

Somehow, though, pundits and activists who fly to their keyboards at a moment’s notice to denounce the erasure of women and people of color in any other context are eagerly cooperating in the erasure of women and people of color in this one case. What’s more, that same erasure went on continuously all through the campaign. Those of my readers who followed the media coverage of the race last year will recall confident proclamations that women wouldn’t vote for Trump because his words and actions had given offense to feminists, that Hispanics (or people of color in general) wouldn’t vote for Trump because social-justice activists denounced his attitudes toward illegal immigrants from Mexico as racist, and so on. The media took these proclamations as simple statements of fact—and of course that was one of the reasons media pundits were blindsided by Trump’s victory.

The facts of the matter are that a great many American women don’t happen to agree with feminists, nor do all people of color agree with the social-justice activists who claim to speak in their name. For that matter, may I point out to my fellow inhabitants of Gringostan that the terms “Hispanic” and “Mexican-American” are not synonyms? Americans of Hispanic descent trace their ancestry to many different nations of origin, each of which has its own distinctive culture and history, and they don’t form a single monolithic electoral bloc. (The Cuban-American community in Florida, to cite only one of the more obvious examples, very often vote Republican and  played a significant role in giving that electoral vote-rich state to Trump.)

Behind the media-manufactured facade of white working class men as the cackling villains who gave the country to Donald Trump, in other words, lies a reality far more in keeping with the complexities of American electoral politics: a ramshackle coalition of many different voting blocs and interest groups, each with its own assortment of reasons for voting for a candidate feared and despised by the US political establishment and the mainstream media.  That coalition included a very large majority of the US working class in general, and while white working class voters of both genders were disproportionately more likely to have voted for Trump than their nonwhite equivalents, it wasn’t simply a matter of whiteness, or for that matter maleness.

It was, however, to a very great extent a matter of social class. This isn’t just because so large a fraction of working class voters generally backed Trump; it’s also because Trump saw this from the beginning, and aimed his campaign squarely at the working class vote. His signature red ball cap was part of that—can you imagine Hillary Clinton wearing so proletarian a garment without absurdity?—but, as I pointed out a year ago, so was his deliberate strategy of saying (and tweeting) things that would get the liberal punditocracy to denounce him. The tones of sneering contempt and condescension they directed at him were all too familiar to his working class audiences, who have been treated to the same tones unceasingly by their soi-disant betters for decades now.

Much of the pushback against Trump’s impending presidency, in turn, is heavily larded with that same sneering contempt and condescension—the unending claims, for example, that the only reason people could possibly have chosen to vote for Trump was because they were racist misogynistic morons, and the like. (These days, terms such as “racist” and “misogynistic,” in the mouths of the affluent, are as often as not class-based insults rather than objective descriptions of attitudes.) The question I’d like to raise at this point, though, is why the affluent don’t seem to be able to bring themselves to come right out and denounce Trump as the candidate of the filthy rabble. Why must they borrow the rhetoric of identity politics and twist it (and themselves) into pretzel shapes instead?

There, dear reader, hangs a tale.

In the aftermath of the social convulsions of the 1960s, the wealthy elite occupying the core positions of power in the United States offered a tacit bargain to a variety of movements for social change.  Those individuals and groups who were willing to give up the struggle to change the system, and settled instead for a slightly improved place within it, suddenly started to receive corporate and government funding, and carefully vetted leaders from within the movements in question were brought into elite circles as junior partners. Those individuals and groups who refused these blandishments were marginalized, generally with the help of their more compliant peers.

If you ever wondered, for example, why environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth changed so quickly from scruffy fire-breathing activists to slickly groomed and well-funded corporate enablers, well, now you know. Equally, that’s why mainstream feminist organizations by and large stopped worrying about the concerns of the majority of women and fixated instead on “breaking the glass ceiling”—that is to say, giving women who already belong to the privileged classes access to more privilege than they have already. The core demand placed on former radicals who wanted to cash in on the offer, though, was that they drop their demands for economic justice—and American society being what it is, that meant that they had to stop talking about class issues.

The interesting thing is that a good many American radicals were already willing to meet them halfway on that. The New Left of the 1960s, like the old Left of the between-the-wars era, was mostly Marxist in its theoretical underpinnings, and so was hamstrung by the mismatch between Marxist theory and one of the enduring realities of American politics. According to Marxist theory, socialist revolution is led by the radicalized intelligentsia, but it gets the muscle it needs to overthrow the capitalist system from the working classes. This is the rock on which wave after wave of Marxist activism has broken and gone streaming back out to sea, because the American working classes are serenely uninterested in taking up the world-historical role that Marxist theory assigns to them. All they want is plenty of full time jobs at a living wage.  Give them that, and revolutionary activists can bellow themselves hoarse without getting the least flicker of interest out of them.

Every so often, the affluent classes lose track of this, and try to force the working classes to put up with extensive joblessness and low pay, so that affluent Americans can pocket the proceeds. This never ends well.  After an interval, the working classes pick up whatever implement is handy—Andrew Jackson, the Grange, the Populist movement, the New Deal, Donald Trump—and beat the affluent classes about the head and shoulders with it until the latter finally get a clue. This might seem  promising for Marxist revolutionaries, but it isn’t, because the Marxist revolutionaries inevitably rush in saying, in effect, “No, no, you shouldn’t settle for plenty of full time jobs at a living wage, you should die by the tens of thousands in an orgy of revolutionary violence so that we can seize power in your name.” My readers are welcome to imagine the response of the American working class to this sort of rhetoric.

The New Left, like the other American Marxist movements before its time, thus had a bruising face-first collision with cognitive dissonance: its supposedly infallible theory said one thing, but the facts refused to play along and said something very different. For much of the Sixties and Seventies, New Left theoreticians tried to cope with this by coming up with increasingly Byzantine redefinitions of “working class” that excluded the actual working class, so that they could continue to believe in the inevitability and imminence of the proletarian revolution Marx promised them. Around the time that this effort finally petered out into absurdity, it was replaced by the core concept of the identity politics currently central to the American left: the conviction that the only divisions in American society that matter are those that have some basis in biology.

Skin color, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability—these are the divisions that the American left likes to talk about these days, to the exclusion of all other social divisions, and especially to the exclusion of social class.  Since the left has dominated public discourse in the United States for many decades now, those have become the divisions that the American right talks about, too. (Please note, by the way, the last four words in the paragraph above: “some basis in biology.” I’m not saying that these categories are purely biological in nature; every one of them is defined in practice by a galaxy of cultural constructs and presuppositions, and the link to biology is an ostensive category marker rather than a definition. I insert this caveat because I’ve noticed that a great many people go out of their way to misunderstand the point I’m trying to make here.)

Are the divisions listed above important when it comes to discriminatory treatment in America today? Of course they are—but social class is also important. It’s by way of the erasure of social class as a major factor in American injustice that we wind up in the absurd situation in which a woman of color who makes a quarter million dollars a year plus benefits as a New York stockbroker can claim to be oppressed by a white guy in Indiana who’s working three part time jobs at minimum wage with no benefits in a desperate effort to keep his kids fed, when the political candidates that she supports and the economic policies from which she profits are largely responsible for his plight.

In politics as in physics, every action produces an equal and opposite reaction, and so absurdities of the sort just described have kindled the inevitable blowback. The Alt-Right scene that’s attracted so much belated attention from politicians and pundits over the last year is in large part a straightforward reaction to the identity politics of the left. Without too much inaccuracy, the Alt-Right can be seen as a network of young white men who’ve noticed that every other identity group in the country is being encouraged to band together to further its own interests at their expense, and responded by saying, “Okay, we can play that game too.” So far, you’ve got to admit, they’ve played it with verve.

That said, on the off chance that any devout worshippers of the great god Kek happen to be within earshot, I have a bit of advice that I hope will prove helpful. The next time you want to goad affluent American liberals into an all-out, fist-pounding, saliva-spraying Donald Duck meltdown, you don’t need the Jew-baiting, the misogyny, the racial slurs, and the rest of it.  All you have to do is call them on their class privilege. You’ll want to have the popcorn popped, buttered, and salted first, though, because if my experience is anything to go by, you’ll be enjoying a world-class hissy fit in seconds.

I’d also like to offer the rest of my readers another bit of advice that, again, I hope will prove helpful. As Donald Trump becomes the forty-fifth president of the United States and begins to push the agenda that got him into the White House, it may be useful to have a convenient way to sort through the mix of signals and noise from the opposition. When you hear people raising reasoned objections to Trump’s policies and appointments, odds are that you’re listening to the sort of thoughtful dissent that’s essential to any semblance of democracy, and it may be worth taking seriously. When you hear people criticizing Trump and his appointees for doing the same thing his rivals would have done, or his predecessors did, odds are that you’re getting the normal hypocrisy of partisan politics, and you can roll your eyes and stroll on.

But when you hear people shrieking that Donald Trump is the illegitimate result of a one-night stand between Ming the Merciless and Cruella de Vil, that he cackles in Russian while barbecuing babies on a bonfire, that everyone who voted for him must be a card-carrying Nazi who hates the human race, or whatever other bit of over-the-top hate speech happens to be fashionable among the chattering classes at the moment—why, then, dear reader, you’re hearing a phenomenon as omnipresent and unmentionable in today’s America as sex was in Victorian England. You’re hearing the voice of class bigotry: the hate that dare not speak its name.


Marcu said...
The first meeting of the Green Wizard's Association of Melbourne, for the new year, will be
held on the last Saturday of January. All interested parties are invited
to attend. For those people who are unsure about the nature of our meetings, imagine a long descent support group with some intentional living discussion mixed in.
If you are interested in joining us, meet us on Saturday the 28th of January 2017 at 13:00. The venue is, Vapiano, 347 Flinders Lane, Melbourne Victoria, Australia. Apologies to everybody who is tired of Italian food! One of the items of discussion this month will be alternative venue choices.

Send queries and comments to limitstogrowth1972[at]

Just look for the green wizard's hat.

I have created a webpage where I will post the details of the next
meeting and any further details for those who don't frequent the
comments here. The webpage can be found at

1/18/17, 3:16 PM

The Cloudwalking Owl said...
Great post.

I suppose one of the many things that confuses people about class is that it doesn't really just boil down to how much money you make. I work at a very good unionized workplace that has "jobs for life", benefits, and, pensions. (Not many people can still make this claim.) But I work with the odd person who identifies with Donald Trump for what I can only assume are cultural reasons. These are folks who think of themselves as "hillbillies" and hate anyone with any sort of education or worldview that is informed by any more than the simplest of self-interest. (One of these people once told me about my concerns about climate change "your problem is that you want to save the world---all you really should care about is your family and nothing else".)

This is the sort of issue that really muddies politics is that race/class/culture all bleed into each other. As you rightly point out (IMHO), lefties in general have a "tin ear" to these subtlties, which means that they cannot come up with any sort of program or agenda that is appealing to the majority of people who are suffering under the status quo. Hilary Clinton seemed particularly unable to understand these people, which is why so many folks didn't bother voting.

1/18/17, 3:38 PM

Clay Dennis said...
Here in Portland, the local entertainment weekly paper devoted its "seen around town" section to pictures and two line quips from millennials on the street regarding which inauguration day protest they would be attending. Apparently there are any number of protests to choose from , from women's marches to health care rally's. The interesting thing is that from an income and economic insecurity standpoint ,all the folks interviewed would be categorized as working class. But so powerful has the democrats focus on identity politics been that these young bar tenders, uber drivers and hair stylists have been sucked in to carrying water for the Salary Class. The current democratic party will be truly doomed once this generation of urban dwellers begins to identify with the actual working class.

1/18/17, 3:51 PM

Joel Caris said...
I have to say I enjoyed this one. I have some serious problems with Trump, but I'm also fascinated to see what he does over the next four years--and I'm hopeful that some of it will live up to his better promises and improve this country. If he wants to normalize relations with Russia, start extracting us from the mess in Syria, implement some tariffs and trade barriers to encourage home-grown industry, bully corporations who are moving jobs overseas, and push through a big infrastructure bill--sign me up for all of that. I'll be thrilled. I don't trust him on health "care", despite the fact that I despise our current health insurance system, and I worry that he and Republicans are going to throw a number of people under the bus and cause a good deal of unnecessary pain both there and in other realms. But honestly, one of the things I'm fascinated to see is how he interacts with Congressional Republicans, who in many regards are pushing a VERY different agenda than him. Sometimes he seems to be going along with it, and then suddenly he pulls the rug out from under them. I find it compelling.

Some of the reaction to the election has seemed completely over the top to me. The Russia nonsense is embarrassing and, I have to admit, slightly infuriating to me. Let's say that Russia did indeed conduct the DNC and Podesta hacking and released the documents purely to harm Clinton and help Trump. So? What's your point? This country has been jaunting all over the world for how many decades now undermining democracies, overthrowing governments, starting color revolutions, meddling in the affairs of any country we so desire to, and now that someone MAY have turned around and done a very mild version of the same to us, we've gone into complete meltdown hyperventilation mode and are screaming at the top of our lungs for blood. Are you kidding me?

The hypocrisy is disgusting and contemptible. The level of propaganda that has emerged after this campaign is a mixture of hilarious and terrifying. Frankly, I'm sick of all of it.

(too long for one post, continued below...)

1/18/17, 3:52 PM

Joel Caris said...
(...contined from above)

I'm pretty sure Trump is going to do some terrible things over the next four years. With luck, he'll also do some of the good things he's talked about doing and put in place some good people who would never stand a chance under a traditional administration. I'm pretty sure Congressional Republicans will attempt far worse than him; I'm popping some popcorn in anticipation of the fights between them and Trump. But I don't think all those actions are going to tear this country apart over the next four years--at least any more so than we've already been slated to tear ourselves apart. And the sheer hyperbole and terror of his term is bizarre to me. Just listen to the guy: he's a narcissistic blowhard who talks a huge game in order to brilliantly manipulate the media and rally his supporters to his side, with some good ideas and some bad ones thrown in the mix, and who very consistently walks back the most extreme statements he makes and likely won't follow through on most of them to the rhetorical extremes he states them. That's a mix of unnerving and entertaining, but I don't find it terrifying, and I think the obsessive focus on worst case scenarios is weird and self-defeating (and also virtually guarantees an impotent opposition for him; if Democrats can't focus on winnable issues and instead play the "Trump is evil and we must scream about every breath he takes" game, they're going to lose, and badly).

In addition to class bigotry, I think there's also a good share of mental breaks over the hit to the idea of progress. Believe me, I've talked to people who are all in on Obama and all out on Trump, and some of them have stated quite clearly their disillusionment at the break in their religious (progress) beliefs. They simply did not believe this could happen, they are trying to regain their footing, and the battle against Trump is essentially a religious one: the fight to put progress back in place. It's messy out there on the leftward end of things right now.

But I'm still fascinating to see where this all goes. I just hope it doesn't go too far awry, because everything feels a little dangerous to me right now.

(P.S. I hope you don't mind if I ask people to go check out the latest blog post at Into the Ruins and contribute their thoughts about what they plan to do in 2017 to help mitigate the many crises facing us. Contributions will be considered for printing in the fourth issue of the magazine as a letter to the editor. Also, I'm offering free shipping on issues of the magazine this month as well as discounts on issue bundles; click here for more, if you haven't already checked out the magazine or want to gift it to a friend or spread the word amongst potential readers.)

1/18/17, 3:52 PM

Patricia Mathews said...
And yet --- my friends include a number of people whose class standing is all over the lot, clear on down to a pre-school teacher on tiny wages, and someone on the gig economy who cleans houses among other things, and a woman whose entire background and work history is far more typical of the Trump supporters.

The note they are sounding, all but the one whose experiences have so toughened her that she out-Stoics the Stoics, is fear. Panic fear, despair, and doom, enough that they are doing ritual against these negative emotions. Not so much fear of losing their privileges, though those with Social Security and Medicare are indeed afraid of losing those, but terror of the entire 80-years-ago-in-Germany scene. Seriously. That I'm hanging in there to see what actually happens with what result, seems to put me on the "she doesn't get it yet" side of the fence.

Of course, the parallels are there if you look, as are the parallels to the days when Big Julie made himself Dictator-for-Life in Rome over 2,000 years ago. Or France in the 1790s. Or ....

But in this particular crowd, there is none of that "Oh, that nasty, vulgar mob" sentiment the way there is among some who have been most freely quoted and whose heads deserved to be knocked together hard. Most of us either work or have worked in just that milieu. Including my ex, when the Army got him out of the bubble he was born into to his surprised delight, back between Korea and 'Nam.

This is, of course, off topic, since the topic is the very real class hatred of today's rich for the average folks. But just to round the picture out a bit among the Nonaffluent Aging Hippie gang. Who may simply be today's equivalent of the cast of La Boheme.

1/18/17, 3:56 PM

Justin said...
Cloudwalking Owl, in fact, as a member of the coastal liberal class, "we" really hate it when "those people" make good money. I saw plenty of this vitriol during the oil sands boom in Canada, when a 19 year old with a year of trade school could easily make $100,000 a year 'out West'. Of course, part of the irony is that trade schools, at least where I am, being relatively underfunded compared to universities, at the time had a 2-year backlog - so you had to sign up in Grade 10 to get into a trade school straight out of college. So for those of us in the salary class who were learning from our parents to have a bit of disdain for the 'less educated' types who knew when they were 13 they were going to trade school and not a four-year college, suddenly realized that many of them would be handsomely outearning them. So of course, there was all kinds of bashing of those who were making big money in Alberta, claiming that they were too stupid to spend the money 'properly' and would only come back with a coke habit and a lifted truck (there's certainly an element of truth there, but this behavior was hardly universal). A very working class high school friend of mine did that and now owns a house, an automotive garage and has kids as a result of a relatively frugal three years in the oil sands. Most people who were like me in high school and had a similar familial background are perhaps decently compensated, but nowhere near enough to escape the rental treadmill unless there is a major housing price collapse.

1/18/17, 4:06 PM

Jbarber said...
I am still waiting for the next installment of your proposed "How to Learn" series of essays; unfortunately I have to skim through another post about your disdain for the American left. Ok, I get it. May I suggest that you create another blog for purely political posts, in the same vein that you created The Well of Galabes for more occult posts? I am looking forward to getting back to learning from you, and I am getting no new information from the several anti-left posts of late. Unless there will be similarly scathing criticisms of the American right? I would be interested in reading critiques of both sides, as I think both extremes need raked over the coals. A compare/contrast of the failings of both sides could be eye-opening to many readers.
Meanwhile, I am trying to read The Iliad!

1/18/17, 4:16 PM

Bob said...
As someone who is dismayed by the policy platforms of our political parties, I find it difficult to understand the motivations of those who still bother to vote. Something to do with hope?

The hate fest against Trump might die down if he leaves the wealthier portions of the electorate alone. He may even offer them more tax cuts, or public private partnerships. Only mad dogs and Englishmen will insist on biting the hand that feeds them.

The intelligence and geopolitical arms of government do not trust Trump. They are worried that he will disturb their plans for cold war with Russia. They'll use whatever means they can to control him or bring him down.

If Trump does not deliver to the working class what they yearn for, the Old Left will say: told you so! Of course, the New Left will say the same thing.

Ordinary people are remarkably patient compared to activists and armchair analysts. Makes for miscommunication and frustration all around!

1/18/17, 4:21 PM

Damaris Zehner said...
This was a satisfying article. I was worried, at the beginning, that you were saying that disapproval of Trump's policies and even his character as so far displayed was an inevitable sign of class bigotry -- but you weren't. You were making a more nuanced point, and I think you're right in what you say. A few years ago, I wrote an article on the internet analyzing what was behind the mouth-foaming hatred against the "takers" and "parasites" among us. The tide of vitriol, willful misunderstanding, and frustration that greeted that post was in fact a perfect proof of what I was saying. (It's here:

I also wanted to mention that today on NPR I heard of research conducted that showed that it is possible for hackers to interfere with the operations of cars not their own -- disable brakes, mess up speedometers, etc. When the "expert" being interviewed about the issue was asked what we should do, he could only suggest piling on more layers of technological complexity as protection. The interviewer then asked if we shouldn't start cutting back on our reliance on this sort of high tech; the expert gasped and said, "You can't turn back progress!" I marked that one on my Bingo card.

1/18/17, 4:23 PM

Pantagruel7 said...
Having voted for a third party candidate in the general election, I've tried to remain silent regarding the winner of this mess. The losing side, Obama/Hillary Clinton, combined neo-conservative foreign policy with neo-liberal economic policies. How's that for confounding the left/right continuum? If policies like these are today's "liberalism" I think I'll stop identifying myself as a "liberal." Perhaps I'm a conservative socialist!? One of the groups with which I'm quite familiar is the local Quaker meeting. Judging by their parking lot, today's Quakers are liberals - you're much more likely to find a row of Prius's than a row of pickup trucks parked there on a Sunday morning. The NRA is anathema. Lesbian couples are numerically at least on a par with the heterosexual couples, though I haven't actually tallied them up. Historically, the Quakers were supposed to have been pacifists, but most were supporting Hillary Clinton last year despite her record over the previous eight years. How can that be? I admit that some may have been holding their noses, given the alternatives, but many were actively supporting her candidacy. I think they were willing to accept some perceived advantages to themselves (perhaps having to do with "identity politics") in exchange for tacitly endorsing endless war, globalization, tax cuts, privatization of the public sphere, and the list goes on. End of rant. We'll see what we will see. Unless we don't.

1/18/17, 4:30 PM

Clay Dennis said...
I have found that some of the most strident anti-trumpf folks are academics. This is because they see themselves as Salary class but are quickly being driven in to the same income and insecurity as the working class but with downwardly mobile anxiety. It is also a profession where they have very little contact with the actual working class short of bumping in to the landscapers or janitors on campus. I would guess that as a group college professors ( plus lecturers etc) were one of the most solid support groups for Hillary. Probably ,even more so than the ethnic or gender groups touted as 100% backers of Clinton.

1/18/17, 4:31 PM

jessi thompson said...
Archdruid Greer and Community,

I thoroughly enjoyed this post, and I hope it sees a very wide audience! I particularly hope it gets circulated among the Kek worshippers, because this sentence speaks volumes:

"The next time you want to goad affluent American liberals into an all-out, fist-pounding, saliva-spraying Donald Duck meltdown, you don’t need the Jew-baiting, the misogyny, the racial slurs, and the rest of it. All you have to do is call them on their class privilege."

I can't sit through 30 seconds of an alt-right diatribe because of all the racism and misogyny, but if they took your advice on this one, I would certainly grab the popcorn. I might even chime in to agree with them on occasion. I've seen how quickly the relatively affluent rise to the bait and how blind they are to even the most obvious evidence of unearned privelege.

I did want to mention (I know you already know this, as do your regular readers, but if any new readers are here it might help broaden understanding): While a lot of the left-right differences can be explained by class differences, most of the rest is clearly a cultural divide based on urban vs. rural life. On the Hispanic vote, I wonder how long it's been since anyone in the media mentioned the interests of legal immigrants. Just a thought, since illegal immigrants can't vote.

Jessi Thompson

1/18/17, 4:31 PM

Doctor Westchester said...

I started noticing just before the turn of the century that the stories that I was being told weren’t fitting very well with the reality on the ground. Were all those internet startups really worth more than the underlying brick and mortar business on which they were leveraged? The first housing bubble seemed so obvious. As was the observation that most people in this country around this point were starting to be pushed to wall financially.

I bought into the story that the George Bush administration might possibly start a Fascism overthrow of our democracy. Then the Obama administration come along and the ugly reality of the bi-partisan censuses because obvious. What was even uglier was how most people I know are in totally denial of it.

Amazing how we have forgotten right now about the evil, evilly, one percent, who are responsible for all of the suffering of common folk (which naturally includes us too). It’s so frustrating listening to people, who know they always are on the side of right, be bigots.

My church is giving a “De-Escalation and Non-Violent Resistance Training” this weekend. It is for people who are “looking for tools to disrupt and de-escalate hatred and bigotry” and “are searching for non-violent ways to resist the growing culture of dehumanization”. I don’t plan to attend. I would have too great an urge to ask why this wasn’t given four or even eight years ago, to point out the hate that dare not speak its name.

1/18/17, 4:33 PM

Island Poet said...
Thank you for making this critical point! I have always said that all social violence comes down to economic violence.

I do question your line, "As Donald Trump becomes the forty-fifth president of the United States and begins to push the agenda that got him into the White House..." Do you see ANY signs that he actually intends to push anything remotely resembling his populist promises? It looks just the opposite to me.

I think he played the working class for chumps and will do nothing but enrich HIS rich friends at the expense of the environment and everyone who isn't a billionaire buddy of his. He genuinely admires Putin and would love to emulate him. Unfortunately for Trump, Putin is a genuine wolf (Warlord) and Donny is just a pampered rich boy with delusions of adequacy.

1/18/17, 4:35 PM

Shane W said...
Queer wage/working class Trump voter here.
Excuse me, but I thought we had a pretty well elaborated feudal system here in the South at one time, I thought we were feudal Europe transplanted to the New World?
JMG, I'm wondering why you've abandoned the welfare, wage, salary, investment class hierarchy you outlined in the post you linked to? I thought that was one of your best ideas.
Sigh, I'm just old enough to remember conflict and debates amongst the queer community for "selling out", "assimilating", and "going corporate" as the original Mattachine/GLF (Gay Liberation Front) hippie elders gave way to the desire for "respectability" and "upward social mobility" as the elite finally deigned to let openly queer people into their club.

1/18/17, 4:45 PM

Sven Eriksen said...
Meanwhile in Europe, working people are desperately trying to avoid being recognized as (and thus treated like) "those people" by identifying with the attitudes of the American affluent classes with even more verve than the affluent themselves. They are even competing amongst one another to see who can scream the party line at the highest volume (mostly online, and mostly in the form of memes, but still...). This is of course particularly true of millenials, who are now dropping dead like flies from suicidal depression induced by severe levels of cognitive dissonance. It really does seem that the more fracked over they have been by neoliberalism, the more intensely they will chant along with the anthem of their abusers (if necessary I'm sure the lady with the Phd. in gender studies who works at your local Burger King will provide an example).

It's getting absurd, really, like Stockholm syndrome or something.

1/18/17, 4:58 PM

James M. Jensen II said...

I've felt for a while now that the Left would be much better served with a "class-first" approach to issues. That is, without denying the reality and importance of other issues, try to explain as much of a situation in terms of class as you plausibly can before moving on to anything else. While that no doubt will introduce a bias in favor of class issues, it seems like a worthwhile correction right now.

You might be interested to know that there's a small movement of people calling themselves the "Alt-Left" or "Realist Left" who advocate for social-democratic and socially liberal ideas but against identity politics and the excesses of the social-justice bullies. Some links and a brief manifesto of sorts can be found here:

While the movement still seems really small, what makes me think it's worth watching is how many people in the "anti-SJW" crowd lean left-wing overall.

1/18/17, 5:14 PM

Adam Jarvis said...
A salient post. Would you then see the trend/movement which might be encapsulated as the 'attack on free speech' as primarily an attempt to avoid the inherent contradiction of the ideology, or could I draw you into comment on other aspects of it?

1/18/17, 5:18 PM

Jay Moses said...
the issue of class in the u.s. now coincides in substantial part with another of the great divides in our history; that of urban v. rural. rural residents are very much more likely to own guns, serious workboots and pickups, to be religious and to have jobs that are more concrete than abstract such as agriculture, mining or retail rather than finance or law. this lends the conflict a cultural dimension. certain issues thus become articles of faith as with gun control, globalization and raising the minimum wage (likely to hurt more poor people than it helps in the long run).

the electoral map of the u.s. is clear. cities both large and small, voted for clinton. rural areas and small towns voted hugely for trump. this division between rural area and urban has been with us since the federalists duked it out with the democratic-republicans. it has become more intense as rural areas have become progressively poorer and cities wealthier over the last 200 years. the contempt for the countryside goes back to the origins of the u.s. and can be seen in william bradford's 1620 description of the "hideous and desolate wilderness" outside the puritan settlement. i expect that hillary clinton would agree with that assessment.

i suspect that the conflict you write about will only become worse. congresswoman maxine waters has already demanded impeachment hearings, even before trump is sworn in. progressives who, until very recently, knew that the intelligence agencies were not to be believed or trusted are citing their assertions of russian electoral influence the way that fundamentalist christians cite the book of revelations. cognitive dissonance is hardly an adequate description of what's happening today and i can conceive of no way to bridge this gap. to the modern, urban, affluent class formerly secure in it's cultural and economic superiority, trump represents the greatest threat in recent memory.

1/18/17, 5:33 PM

Ray Wharton said...
Here in rural Colorado even the leftist understand the deeper issues, and even though they really despise Trump, the Class Bigotry isn't serious. My friends who relocated to major cities how ever are pretty feisty. One buddy posted:

Ann and Tom were friends. Tom voted for Trump. Ann refuses to normalize Trump and stopped being Tom's friend. Be like Ann.

Weird, but my ear on the ground suggests that that fringe is imploding rapidly into mutual blame. The seriousness of opposition to Trump coming from mainstream institutions raises my eyebrows much more. They are acting like they don't know how much of their own credibility they are spending on the hysterics. Especially strange with the bluntness of the Spook factions which are, uncharacteristically, drawing alot of attention to themselves.

Oh, this seems like a valid place to mention my expectations of the Trump Presidency.

1. Trump will rock the boat, and potentially either stall or even reverse a lot of the catastrophically stupid policies that were dictated by the departing Globalist faction.

2. Trump and his appointments will Banana Republic the country a bit, and cozy up with power centers looking to run profitable, and potentially exploitative, industries in America. Basically running the country like the third world country it is. I cannot really put a value judgement on this, because I really anticipate a lot of unfair and unwise profit motive, but I don't know how that compares to the violence caused by the old policy of trying to force a 3rd world country to act like a Nation-State Messiah. Probably a wash.

3. The on going Red Queen race of decline will continue, and America's necessarily eroding position in Global affairs will be very rought on America's total prosperity. Many will attribute the effects of this cause to Trump, which will cause confusion and frustration for all with in shouting distance.

4. Powerful segments in American government will death grip onto the old order, and though the fate of the Global regime is settled, factions will try to follow it to the grave, causing many problems and unless a lot of people get a clue quick this is likely to gum up the more sensible policies that Trump might pursue. No calling what will gum to a halt, and what Trump will push through, likely to be very case by case.

5. The conflict mentioned is 4. will absorb so much attention from Trump's critics that it will hobble proper practices to resist corruption and Fraud snuck through by Trump, or his less socially minded allies.

6. No idea how the rest of the world will arrange to reflect these changes, it looks like Russia and China have some idea about how to divvy up the spoils of an American withdraw. But, refering back to point 4. I am concerned about insane freak outs from American Exceptionalists and other 'western powers'. Ideally America could pull a 15c China or a 20c Brittan... but frankly that is a tough needle to thread at this point, and even if it is attempted (which I don't think is a smal dunk yet) things could fall into a stupid war all too easily.

1/18/17, 5:39 PM

W. B. Jorgenson said...
I have another point to add: I'm aware of a few members in the LGBT community who had to deal with people questioning sexual orientation/gender identity, all because to them, members of the LGBT community can not be anything other than horrified by Trump. Of course, many of the people doing it were actively complaining about other people doing the exact same thing. The cognitive dissonance Trump creates in people is frankly incredible.

Different topic, but in regards to the wealth pump comment last week, if you read the comments on the article, it's fairly depressing. The general consensus is that this gives the average person in the societies benefiting from the wealth pump no benefit. Sigh.

1/18/17, 5:41 PM

SamuraiArtGuy said...
As usual, an insightful, if subtly terrifying post. But it is consistent with what I have been seeing and experiencing out there. The howling and rage on the part of my Left side antiscience is startling, and the revealed contempt is dismaying. Tho' the "suck it up you lost, libtards" chest-beating is not helpful either.

"When you hear people raising reasoned objections to Trump’s policies and appointments, odds are that you’re listening to the sort of thoughtful dissent that’s essential to any semblance of democracy, and it may be worth taking seriously." – it's likely to be drowned out by the screaming. There's a lot of noise out there, precious little signal. I've picked up a fair amount of abuse for suggesting that Trump voters weren't ALL racists, bigots, misogynists and proto-fascists, that they might have legitimate grievances and fears, and it might be insightful to discover why they feel that the notion of "more of the same" under Sec. Clinton was intolerable.

However, my concern is that they have choosen a poor champion in Donald Trump, who seems his own special destructive snowflake. As a former NYC dweller, there is a yiddish word, "shyster." But like a good con man, he sized up the marks and fed them the tale they wanted to hear. And as a sector of the electorate exploited and betrayed by the Establishment Right, and kicked to the curb and derided by the Affluent Left, it was a fertile audience.

Be that as it may, the divisiveness, the "Enemies Game" is the path to civil war. That worked out really well last time, given the lasting wounds self-inflicted on the Republic.

1/18/17, 5:42 PM

Vesta said...
Great post.

It speaks to the most remarkable feature of this election among many of my With-Her Democrat friends (mostly affluent), which is straight-up hysteria and a forthright refusal to discuss issues, while in the same breath ironically insisting that anyone who voted for Trump must be incapable critical thinking.

Another interesting pattern I've noticed is that discussion of the role in the election of class privilege and predation by the affluent on the working class is immediately met with the familliar assertion that "everything I have I earned". This from people who routinely ridiculed the exact same argument when it was used by their political rivals to object to handouts based on approved bio-class distinctions.

These and similar patterns I've noticed following the election require degree of mental compartmentalization and internal hypocrisy that I simply can't comprehend. How this is possible among folks who otherwise seem self aware, and what conditions enable it generally, would be make a fascinating post...

Thank you-

1/18/17, 6:07 PM

dfr2010 said...
"the illegitimate result of a one-night stand between Ming the Merciless and Cruella de Vil,"
Oh now that one is priceless! I even read it aloud to hubby just now, and he agrees it's quite good.

1/18/17, 6:13 PM

Greg Belvedere said...
First I heard people saying, "don't normalize Trump." I'm not totally sure what they meant by that, but I'm pretty sure his election did more to normalize him than anything else anyone does or says. Now people are calling him illegitimate. This sent me to the dictionary to make sure I hadn't misusing this word. I'm pretty sure his stake to presidency meets the definition of being lawful. In any case, when I hear this kind of talk my translator comes back with : I hate Trump and can't handle that he is going to president (a sentiment I have cribbed from you).

The identity politics of the left is known for virtue signaling; showing how enlightened and tolerant they are towards disadvantaged groups. The alt-right reacts against this and engages in vice signaling by trying to be as offensive as possible just to push buttons.

I find it funny that dems are debating whether they need to spend more time getting out the vote in cities, or if they need to focus on rural white male vote. If they were paying attention they would realize they need to become the party of the working class again and they would solve both problems. But they have to squeeze everything back into the box of identity politics.

1/18/17, 6:29 PM

Rita said...
A member of a discussion group I am part of (we discuss each issue of The New Yorker) actually used the phrase "those people" in reference to Trump supporters. I told her it was offensive and she responded "its meant to be." Then I reminded her that the term "those people" had been applied to the ethnic group she was part of and asked how that felt. No response.

Splitting the working class by letting some have prosperity and labeling them middle class instead has worked very well for our elite. We are told over and over again that America is a middle class country. Part of this is based on rates of home ownership. But of course few actually own their homes, as mortgages take decades to pay off. And, I have noticed from commercials on the morning news show my mother watches, that the "use your home as a bank" meme is starting up again in ads for equity loans. Also seeing more ads for reverse mortgages.

I figure that so long as you rely on a paycheck and will lose your home and car and security if that paycheck stops, you are working class. Even people who are highly paid tend to have insufficient savings or investments to weather a prolonged period without a job. I realize that this collapses your categories of wage vs. salary, but back in the 70s when Boeing was laying off employees it occurred to me that the engineers would end up in the same line for unemployment checks that the janitors stood in. So I don't think that earning enough to make payments on a car, a boat, a RV, etc. makes someone middle class.

There are a few comments on lower class whites self-identifying as an ethnic group in the last chapters of _White Trash_, but the book was researched and written well before the current election. It mainly discusses such identification at the semi-serious, "proud to be a redneck" level.

I just finished _The Year of Voting Dangerously_ by Maureen Dowd. Comprised of her columns on Hillary Clinton and on Donald Trump, some dating back to the 90s. A lot about Hillary's political faults, including her willingness to attack the women with whom Bill dallied, the mistakes she made with the plans for a health bill in the 90s, the disastrous demolition of the Libyan state, and the whole email thing. Also some columns quite critical of Obama's failures to step into the political fray and fight for the causes he advocated. Even things as simple and obvious as inviting Congress members to meals and events at the White House were neglected.

I am frankly disgusted by those who act as though Obama has been the greatest president of our times. But I suppose it is impossible to criticize the first Black president without branding oneself a racist because his most vehement critics are genuinely racist. In a way the crazed racists have done him a favor.

1/18/17, 6:29 PM

Jason B said...
While I agree with your analysis of the history of the left in US politics, I wonder why you don't introduce statistics showing that the average Trump voter makes more than the average HRC voter (in order to counter those arguments). Based on my small sampling of Trump supporters, they seem generally to be of white and middle class stock. How does your analysis square with this, for instance:

Also, it does seem that Trump's cabinet appointments might be a bit more outrageous than would HRC's picks. Steve Mnuchin, for example, has strong ties to George Soros. I suspect that the potential outrage from the right, were HRC to nominate someone of his ilk, might dissuade her from doing so. I saw a good interview on this subject on the Corbett Report with the interviewee being Micheal Krieger from Liberty Blitzkrieg. I guess if anyone's interested they should google it.

You're really doubling down here JMG. I've heard from a few 'people of color' now who are just flat out innervated by the divisive tone that Trump constantly sets forth with. He certainly seems to be sending strong signals not so much to working class voters but to middle and upper middle class white voters who might have moved to gated communities to escape the rabble.

I am related to people like that (upper middle class white gated community Trump supporters), and to working class folk in flyover country who say they would never ever have voted for someone like Trump. I guess we just hold differing realities.

1/18/17, 6:31 PM

J. Gamer said...
Thanks for the laughs tonight John Michael. Bludgeoned about the head and shoulders indeed. Personally, I’m finding myself more and more sandwiched between the sparring factions. Members of my fairly well-to-do family and more than a handful of friends from university become apoplectic whenever I start to question the current narrative that the Russians tipped the election. On the other side of the coin, I have a number of ‘working class’ co-workers whose dander is raised more than a little whenever I start critiquing several of Trump’s appointees. The chips on their shoulders become visible from miles away.

1/18/17, 6:36 PM

Unknown said...
Excellent post as always JMG,

The topic of class bigotry makes me question whatever happened to the concept of noblesse oblige. It seems like somewhere along the line, the American elite stopped seeing the middle and lower classes as their fellow citizens that they had some level of obligation to lead and help("with great power comes great responsibility.")

I wonder if it is just a consequence of the old-school WASP power class who were homegrown in America for the most part being replaced by a rootless global elite that views countries as temporary bases of operation rather than as homes to be protected and bettered. Perhaps this explains some of the Donald's success, as he does a good job of projecting the image of the elite from a century ago that at least the older generations of the working class still have memory of.

1/18/17, 6:37 PM

Justin said...
JMG, I'd like to thank you for your critique of Marxism: It's altogether too rare to find critiques of Marxism which aren't rooted in capitalist cheer-leading, conspiracy theories or antisemitism.

I wonder if you'll do an article on the postmodern deconstruction of gender. After all, the entire alt right, and probably 90% of Trump's online base is disaffected young men. I imagine that women are similarly disaffected, but for a variety of reasons I don't think it's resulted in as much radicalism.

Of course, this whole notion that women and men are on separate teams (and yet gender differences are a social construction) is absolutely tragic, and I'm glad that so many women are seeing through it these days.

1/18/17, 6:41 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Owl, those who profit from the status quo very often have a hard time coming up with a program or agenda that appeals to people suffering from it! As I see it, that was the great weakness of Clinton's campaign -- she aimed her appeals at the minority that benefited from the established neoliberal order, and ignored or vilified the majority who suffered under it.

Clay, I'm glad to hear that it appeared in the arts and entertainments paper, since protest marches without grassroots political organizing are nothing but entertainment. Do the people who will be deciding which march to attend really think that Donald Trump gives a rat's posterior how many people parade down a street in Portland yelling about this or that cause?

Joel, I ain't arguing. One possibility that's emerged in recent days is that Trump may pursue a major nuclear weapons reduction treaty with the Russians; he's floated the proposal that the Obama administration's sanctions could be taken down as part of a strategic weapons treaty, and the Russian government has made cautiously optimistic noises about that as well. If Trump manages to cut a deal sharply reducing both sides' nuclear arsenals and thus decreasing the risk of nuclear war, I can easily imagine the left suddenly deciding to march in favor of nukes...

Patricia, fair enough. What do you think motivates the absolute conviction that Trump is evil incarnate among the people you know, then?

Jbarber, if the only thing you're getting from this post is the notion that I disdain the American left, may I suggest that you might want to work a bit on your reading comprehension?

Bob, on the other hand, why not vote? It doesn't cost anything, and can sometimes lead to the most entertaining results.

Damaris, thank you for getting my point! Of course there are valid reasons to disagree with Trump, or for that matter with any other politician (cough, cough, Hillary Clinton, cough, cough). Those valid reasons don't justify the convulsive hatred being flung at Trump, any more than they justify the bizarre heroine-worship being directed at Clinton by some of her more breathless fans. Thank you also for the anecdote about self-driving cars -- that's priceless.

Pantagruel, I'd be much more confident about the future if we had conservative socialists! More generally, the attempt to force every imaginable issue into the Procrustean bed of a rigid binary division -- all these things belong to this party, all the opposite things belong to the other, third options aren't permitted -- has played a massive role in creating the mess we're currently in.

Clay, that certainly fits my experience. I wonder if they've realized that there's going to be payback. At a time when the academic industry is perched on the top of a massive financial bubble propped up solely by federal loan guarantees, and more dependent than ever before on other sources of government funding, that kind of rigid partisanship was a bad move -- and the insistence by various universities that they're going to flout federal immigration law just hands Trump the excuse he needs. After all, it would take him all of one executive order to make every "sanctuary campus" ineligible for federally insured student loans, federal research grants, etc., etc.!

1/18/17, 7:04 PM

Tower 440 said...
Greetings to the assembled Wizardren!
The Spring joint meeting of the Green Wizards’ Benevolent and Protective Association, Tower Number 440, and Ruinmen’s Guild, Local 440 will be held at 12:30 PM on Saturday, March 18, 2017. Our location is Ruko’s Family Restaurant, 9385 Mentor Avenue, Mentor, Ohio 44060, (440) 974-1914. Shining the Green Light! Public Welcome! Tables for Failed Scholars. Look for the table topper with the Green Wizard Hat. Contact us at [email protected]
Our speaker will be Green Wizard Gene Ainsworth, the first member of Tower 440 to travel with a GWB&PA issued “passport.” (Email us for the template.) Gene will report on his People to People trip to Cuba, particularly his research and interviews with the Cuban People to learn about how they have coped with the difficulties, of the electrical grid, lack of utilities and refrigeration.
Many thanks to John for the posting space on his blog.

1/18/17, 7:13 PM

patriciaormsby said...
Oh, heavens! "Gringostan" is lovely! Lots of nice quotable bits here. I do love your advice to the alt-right.
Thank the gods I've been too busy to pay any attention at all to politics for the past month. A job I love--good grief I am so lucky! We were in Thailand the last month for my husband's health (and it did him a lot of good, too, I may add), and although he is addicted to TV, he kept it on nature programs and Korean dramas that you can sort of follow even if you cannot understand a word of what is being said. Back in Japan now, I immediately noticed on Shinobu's TV and a read-through of the titles in Rice Farmer's latest news that nothing has improved at all in America, and in fact it appears they've bullied Trump into going along with the story that Russia hacked the DNC, something I thought had been long discredited. One thing seems clear to me: they absolutely desperately need a war with Russia, and by golly, they're going too do whatever they can to get it. Massing tanks along Russia's border? And humorists noting that Hitler did the same thing (and seeming to approve of this)? Turning on the TV is like finding a can of food that you opened and left out somewhere for a month and having somehow to deal with the contents. I put up the screen and put in my earplugs. Shinobu occasionally fills me in on the latest worm's turning.
I am pretty sure Putin has some plan or other if the tanks make a move, so none of it really interests me in the least.
Still, if I weren't so busy, I'd probably pop up some good home-grown corn and...rather than watch TV, read up again on how to make a decent bunker in a wet climate.

1/18/17, 7:16 PM

onething said...
Cloudwalking Owl @1/18/17, 3:38 PM

I find myself feeling a bit defensive at your post: '(One of these people once told me about my concerns about climate change "your problem is that you want to save the world---all you really should care about is your family and nothing else".)'

I wonder where you live. If I don't live with the true hillbillies, who does, and yet I wonder what rock you found such a person under? I never hear such sentiments. Although of course there are always a few people of any type, they are not typical.

1/18/17, 7:19 PM

Paulo said...
regarding working class:

I am one of those people with feet in different camps. I have been a carpenter for almost 40 years, a pilot for almost as long, and a high school teacher for 17, (Shop...carpentry, electronics, and metalwork/welding). No, I am not 100, but instead drifted back and forth between the careers, and often did all three somedays.

When I was attending UBC to obtain my teaching certification at age 40, (5th year), I asked a guy who had returned for his masters degree what his school colleagues actually thought of shop teachers? His reply, "Well, for the most part they think we're a bunch of knuckle-dragging dummies, until they need their car fixed. Then, it's a whole new ball game". Sound familiar?

At my school one of my colleagues asked if I could help her? Her new SUV had a 'low tire pressure warning light' come on. I told her to send her son down to the shop at lunch and grab a tire gauge to check all her tires.
She replied, "He won't know how to do that" (a grade 10 academic student).
I said, "Sure he will, it's the same as his bicycle. Every kid knows how to check a tire on his bike".
She replied, "Noooo, I'm pretty sure he won't know how to check the tire pressure. He's never done it".
So, I sent one of my 'dummies' (probably thought to be a school deplorable....usually referred to by academic kids as a 'skid'), up to the parking lot with a gauge and portable air tank. Just who was the dummy, anyway?

When my own son was casting about for a profession I suggested 'electrical'. He completed an apprenticeship and was one of the 'dummies' making more than our 60 year old school superintendent with a PhD. Son now runs his own business and is quite successful at age 33.

I did 6 years of university but consider myself to be a 'working man', and proud to be one. My son asked me last year if I considered myself to be a pilot, teacher, or carpenter? My reply was, "Builder".

I have never ever understood the lack of respect the so-called educated have for working people. Take physics, for example. Who do you think knows more physics, the instructor, or the school dropout faller cutting down 200' old growth douglas fir year after year. I have a friend who can drop a tree and pound down a stake with it.
Every worker deserves our respect. All work is worthy. Some, is just more honest than others.


1/18/17, 7:25 PM

patriciaormsby said...
(Addition to a too-long post)
One thing I noted in Thailand (I was not in a hermetically sealed environment after all) was that at a temple we frequented for a mountain climb with appropriate respects paid, there was a steady stream of foreign female visitors, all Caucasian, all dressed inappropriately in an identical fashion, as if it were some sort of uniform: tank top and extremely short shorts. Any guidebook will tell you this is offensive to the Thai at places of worship. The guys they were with, ironically, dressed with reasonable, if minimal acceptability: knee-length shorts and short-sleeve t-shirts. It's a hot climate.
The problem was bad enough the shrine had taken to stationing police at the entrance, who would blow the whistle on offenders and provide them a sarong and shawl to cover up, on the presumption they were sincere about worship, just misguided. Their efforts couldn't catch more than about 50% of these ladies.
Now I am unphonely, so I don't twitter, but it looked just like a coordinated assault. The only ladies among them I managed to talk with were American, one asking me if she really needed to keep the sarong on while climbing the sacred mountain (I suggested climbing out of sight, then doing what she needed). My impression was it was European, Australian and American women, 20s to 40s. The reason I bring it up was it struck me as an imposition of social mores from a group of people who have become quite callous toward divergent, more conservative views. And it goes beyond America, being international Anglo-European. Amazingly, there is a visible racial component to it, though the ladies may not be aware of it.

1/18/17, 7:29 PM

onething said...
Clay Dennis said:

"But so powerful has the democrats focus on identity politics been that these young bar tenders, uber drivers and hair stylists have been sucked in to carrying water for the Salary Class."

Hmm, it would seem that the Republican side of the salary class got a chunk of the erstwhile democrats by playing the Christian card, and now the Democratic side of the salary class is getting a different chunk by fanning flames of resentment with identity politics.

Because neither of side actually wants to represent them.

1/18/17, 7:32 PM

Repent said...
Excellent essay ! You've put to words many things I have felt as someone who is a middle age white male, working class, blue collar sub-human.

How many times when I was raising my kids did the thought come up 'Why can't I afford to take my kids to Disneyworld?' With silence as my only response.

At work I recently heard the comment, "He's so NEW money". Meanwhile, his dad was also a real estate mogul, and he was born rich. How OLD money do you have to be in order to qualify for the stiff upper lip social elite?

'Sore loser' is too tame a result for his attackers. Michael Moore, who has various social critique movies to his fame, is poster child for these antics. Why can't this guy figure out that this vote was as much of a 'Throw the bums out' vote than anything else? As you have written previously, in this case the devil you know was by far the worse vote than the devil that you do not know.

Most of the attacks don't attack his policies either, but focus instead on character assassination; like this not so subtle one:

I was thrilled recently when he wouldn't give CNN a question at a formal press conference because they aren't a real news organization. It is worth some personal economic pain and suffering coming down the line from his policies; just in order to see him 'Put them in their place' for awhile.

Trump is the Zorro of his age, the one who betrayed his class for the people. I can see political cartoonists portraying him as Zorro before long.

1/18/17, 7:32 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Jessi, me too -- I've got a modest number of readers who identify with the Alt-Right, and I hope they give my advice a try!

Doctor W., I wonder if it ever occurred to the people in your church who are talking about de-escalation that the best way to start that process is to stop roaring extreme insults at their political opponents. Oh, I know, silly me...

Poet, in fact, yes, it does look to me as though he's gearing up to pursue several important aspects of the agenda he announced during the campaign. Border taxes on imported products are on the agenda; so is the enforcement of existing immigration law; so are sharply improved relations with Russia. The rest? We'll see.

Shane, nah, you had a protofeudal system in the South. People whose fathers had been dirt farmers managed to claw their way into the plantation aristocracy -- look at Jefferson Davis for a good example. You don't get that in a fully articulated feudal system. As for the class analysis, I didn't want to have to rehash that when I was trying to make a different point, thus borrowed the more common terminology for the sake of convenience.

Sven, I suspect there's another issue at work on your side of the pond. Western Europe has been able to fund a variety of lavish welfare state programs because the US has covered the cost of Europe's defense; if Trump gets his way and forces Europe to pay its own defense bills, a lot of Europeans are going to lose benefits they took for granted -- and so they're screaming like banshees at the prospect. That's my take, at least.

James, that's really good to hear. I was hoping that at some point, at least some of the left would come to their collective senses; an alt-left movement of the sort you've sketched out is a big step in that direction.

Adam, nah, I'd say the attempt to regulate speech and thought on the part of the social-justice left is a typical expression of the totalitarian side of leftist thought -- the sort of thing that, taken to extremes, gave rise to Stalin's show trials, the Cultural Revolution in China, and the killing fields of Cambodia. The left is just as susceptible to the totalitarian temptation as the right, after all.

Jay, I'd agree in part -- but I don't see the current situation as remaining frozen in place. As US global hegemony falls apart, we're seeing the beginnings of a transfer of economic and political authority from the coastal urban regions to the rural hinterland. As that accelerates, the current political establishment is going to be left twisting in the wind. More on this in a future post.

Ray, I've seen the same blamefest getting under way, too, so I won't argue at all. As for your predictions, they seem reasonable enough -- but we'll see, of course.

WB, that's priceless. "You can't be gay! You don't support my candidate!" -- as though there's some necessary connection between sexual orientation and political convictions. Bizarre...

1/18/17, 7:35 PM

Patricia Mathews said...
@JMG - I've been asking myself the same question - why they see Trump as evil incarnate, just as they did Dubya (who turned out not to be.) It certainly isn't any Marxist analysis of anything; they're more likely to believe in flying saucers or fairies. My guess is a combination of taking Trump literally, and identity panic with some roots in reality. That is, those who are gay see then entire GOP agenda as fanatically anti-gay, and most of them are old enough to remember gay-bashing times. The woman living on SS Disability knows she's be either out on the street without it, or back with a family that has treated her like a total incompetent and a nuisance. And so on.

Those of us who are women note Trump's bragging on groping women, and it sets off a visceral revulsion and fear rooted in the reality of jerks on all economic levels acting like that. Of course, the man who would have been First Gentleman is just as much a houn'dawg, but he doesn't go around saying so.

Then add the gut feeling of being not only in a crisis era, but at the very climax of one, with all the disorientation that brings. And wondering if they will survive it. I won't say that covers it completely, but it's all I can think of for now.

1/18/17, 7:36 PM

pygmycory said...
@Ray Wharton,
one of my friends posted that thing too - despite the fact that neither of us are US citizens or live in the USA. I was rather weirded out and didn't reply.

1/18/17, 7:39 PM

Mark said...
So why, then, do affluent Americans have trouble facing class issues straight-on? Back in my youth in the UK, certain members of the affluent middle and upper classes were quite straight-forward in their attitudes towards "the workers" - workers were considered, quite simply, to be coarse, grimy, unpleasant and generally to be avoided. Now this blatant snobbery was not a great way of dealing with a large segment of society, but it was at least more honest than wrapping-up basic economic and cultural differences in mis-directions of class and race, etc.

So do affluent middle class Americans just like to pretend they are beyond simple and irrational fear-based prejudices, or is there something else going on? Some guilt, maybe? Fear of losing their own privilege? It would be interesting to get to the root of it. I suspect it's mostly a base-level fear of rougher, grittier people who don't defer to middle-class touchstones (fancy education, fancy experiences, fancy this and that). I'm a product of an affluent middle-class upbringing myself, and for various reasons I live in a working class rural neighborhood. I work with my hands and can handle myself physically. I'm not particularly fancy. But I know I will always be out of place in this neighborhood. I use the wrong words, I laugh at the wrong things. I'm different and always will be. Class differences can't easily be erased and perhaps this fact bothers the progressive imagination.

1/18/17, 7:40 PM

KevPilot said...
As an ardent follower of this blog, I agree fully with Jbarber. I truly love this space as a safe harbor from the political raid apple throwing contest that is US media. I see this most as a philosophy blog.

While I do enjoy (in very small portions) the Left skewering, I think I'd like an order of right kebabs every now and again as well.

1/18/17, 7:53 PM

pygmycory said...
Today I went and talked to the Green party candidate in my riding for the BC election. It somehow turned into an in-depth discussion of automation and the likely impacts. His take is that you can't turn back progress, but I did suggest moving payroll taxes onto capital expenditures instead to discourage automation. I think it was the first time he'd run across that idea.

I've seen both worse and better candidates before. Now I need to find and corner the NDP incumbent and talk her ear off about housing policy... that email response she gave didn't satisfy me.

1/18/17, 8:05 PM

Cottage Crone said...
Thank you, thank you, John Michael Greer. Nowhere else have I read what you so succinctly write: this is indeed about class, and every "liberal" i know will deny it to their dying breath. Who, me? And in the next instant tell me again what a bigot, misogynist, etc., etc. that jerk-soon-to-be-in-the-White House is. Only their refined language is much more coarse.

Thank you again.

1/18/17, 8:16 PM

nuku said...
Re upward directed bigotry in social classes based on wealth:
I used to mentor teen-aged boys. I would sometimes hear the boys from lower and middle classes talking about this and that well known rich person, describing them as a----holes, and saying that “all rich people were bastards” et.
Interestingly enough I also heard them talking about what things they’d buy if they had heaps of money and their plans to get rich.
When I pointed out that they hated The Rich in the one hand, but one the other hand wanted to be rich themselves, and if they did get rich they’d be the bastards they hated, I got some strange looks. Some got it, others didn’t.
Hatred and envy, mixed emotions, climbing the social ladder by stepping on these below while currying favor with those above.
Basic primate behavior...

1/18/17, 8:33 PM

mtnmvr said...
Hi John-
First off, great piece. The left needs to hear this shouted from the rooftops. The left got away from it’s roots, got too establishmentarian, and finally got walloped for it. Good.

That said, I don’t see Trump as creating anything new. He too, is simply the latest establishment figure to dupe the masses. He’s putting a few cherries on top to pander to his base, but soon enough the “working class,” however you define it, will still find they are eating a neoliberal sundae. As I’ve said repeatedly over at Ian Welsh’s blog, Trump is just the newest shiny object dangled before the public’s eyes to get them to ooooh and ahhhh while the 1% (of which Trump firmly belongs) continue to rob them blind through rent extraction.

# Neoliberal Shock Doctrine -- Episode #367 “The Orange Oligarch”

# Never Trust An Ivy Leaguer -- Ever.

1/18/17, 8:42 PM

Les said...
Thanks for another mind altering instance of the ADR.
With your example of the lawyer and the "white guy in Indiana", is this hypothetical, or is there really some guy with a big mouth in Indiana that now has a legal eagle vampire squid stuck on his face?
An Australian pig farmer who prefers audiobooks to what passes as “news” is curious…

1/18/17, 9:03 PM

Carl Dolphin said...
Dear JMG,
Richard Spencer from the Alt-Right started a new web site on Monday : Already some interesting articles posted that some of your readers would like (snowflakes will be quickly melted).
He maybe reading you, as they're focusing on spearing the affluent elite and avoiding the "Jewish question" so far. He advocates a white state similar to what the Jewish people have in Isreal.
In the future, followers will be wearing green armbands as Richard S. is an environmentalist and against surburban sprawl and wonders why we don't have a public transportation system like Japans. If identity politics continues on its course, the Alt-Right will get stronger under Trump.

1/18/17, 9:14 PM

gwizard43 said...
Another insightful look into the maw of the American political system...I hope it gains a widespread readership!

Based on my experience of numerous friends who fall on the left side of the political chasm (the majority of my friends), I'm seeing two distinct responses: the foamers-at-the-mouth that you describe comprise the larger segment, but there are an appreciable number of leftists of my acquaintance who have honestly been shocked into a desire to truly understand what happened, and are now being hammered by the former group, so that they are really beginning to wonder about their former allegiances, and are being effectively driven out (purity politics in practice). No danger of them going to the right, but they really are seeking answers and realizing these are apparently, to their surprise, not to be found where they thought.

All of this to say that it may just be that we're seeing a serious (?) schism on the left which will lead to a sizable (?) number of disaffected liberal voters come next election cycle. I suspect if Sanders and Warren made noises about forming a new party, or even a new movement, offering a home to bewildered, baffled and bemused Democrat orphans, they make have quite a few folks taking them up on that offer.

In addition, I sure do hope the alt-right Keksters take your advice, and that this movement begins to shift toward something more pragmatic and engaging.

1/18/17, 9:18 PM

aNanyMouse said...
Gripping stuff as usual, JMG. But I wouldn't call this "The Hate that Dare Not Speak its Name", so much as "The Snobbery that Dare Not Speak its Name". The well-connected don't hate those lacking such connections, so much as they have contempt for the impudent rabble who Don't Know Their Place.
But I'll grant that, when the impudent rabble dare to point out the extent to which Their Betters became such through their better connections, it can turn to outright hate. Stay tuned!

1/18/17, 9:51 PM

Kevin said...
Good analysis, IMHO.

I can't help noticing the extraordinary flexibility acquired by the term "left" these days. How odd it seems to me that neoliberal globalist policies that export jobs and import cheap illegal labor for the undoing of the working class, that gift trillions in public money to unscrupulous Wall Street operators while millions of people lose their homes through dubious financial manipulations, that attack and destroy nations from Libya to Ukraine, and that aggressively seek out military confrontation with Russia, should pass as "leftism." To compound the last points, the alleged "liberals" now engage in anti-Russian rhetoric that, to my mind at any rate, is reminiscent of nothing so much as classic McCarthyite red-baiting. To suppose that these things are features of liberal policy strikes me as bizarre and grotesque in the extreme. It suggests that language and the meanings of words are more malleable by far than the softest sculptor's or potter's clay.

Am I the only one here old enough to remember that liberals once were, or at least purported to be, anti-war activists and free speech enthusiasts who were typically devoted to social and economic equity, and for whom social justice meant something other than screaming insults at those whom we wish to insist are racists, sexists, etc.? What happened to them? There is no left left, that I can see.

I think we may have come to the end of the line for the kind of activism that is based on the notion that "the personal is political." I have the impression that, as I think you have often suggested, economics and class interests are much more central and compelling at this time in history, in the United States and elsewhere.

A few days ago, as my much dented and diminutive jalopy took me across an Oakland overpass, I spotted an encampment of easily 100 tents, each presumably occupied by at least one homeless person. I gather this sort of settlement would once have been called a "Hooverville." I suggest that "Obama Village" would now be a more appropriate appellation.

1/18/17, 10:06 PM

Robin Datta said...
Among your many skills is basketweaving; in particular weaving the basket to hold the deplorable irredeemables like me. much needed, thank you!

1/18/17, 10:44 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Samurai, oh, granted. I'm hoping to encourage the less shrill end of the conversation by pointing out some of the problems with the other end, but I'm well aware that it may not do much.

Vesta, oh, I know! The state of mind that seems to be guiding soi-disant Democrats as they declare their absolute trust in the CIA and mouth anti-Russian slogans that would have warmed the cockles of Joe McCarthy's heart is, well, interesting. The problem with doing a post on it is that I'm still trying to make some sense of it, with very limited success so far...

DFR, you're most welcome.

Greg, maybe it's just me, but calling someone illegitimate used to be done with a somewhat more robust word. ;-) That the Dems are terrified of people "normalizing" Trump suggests to me that they're beginning to become aware that he might just become the new normal.

Rita, I remember the Boeing layoffs as well! Of course you have a point, but I'd note that the middle classes self-identify as different from the working classes, and support policies (such as economic globalization) that mostly benefit the middle classes at the working classes' expense.

Jason, statistics are inherently slippery, and never more so than when that weaselly word "average" comes into play. Democrat voters have lower incomes on average than Republican voters because Democrats get a lot of votes from the very bottom of the income scale, while the bulk of GOP votes come from the working classes, who are poor but not as poor as the urban-ghetto population. As for Trump voters, I've noted here repeatedly that my experience doesn't correspond to yours; the first place in town that got Trump signs was the poor mixed-race neighborhood south of my house, while the Clinton signs were almost entirely confined to the rich part of town.

Gamer, I get that. I wish it were possible to have both sides march off to Nevada or somewhere, batter each other into a collective coma, and leave the rest of us alone...

Unknown, thank you. I certainly won't argue about noblesse oblige: those who have privilege, to my mind, are obligated to give more back to society, which grants them that privilege -- but I know that's heretical in today's culture of entitlement.

Justin, you're welcome. One of these days, time and a book contract with a decent advance permitting, I'd like to do a book-length takedown of Marxism as a failed civil religion of secular apocalypse. With regard to the construction and deconstruction of gender, that's quite a can of worms, isn't it? I'll ponder the subject, and see if I have anything to say about it.

Patricia, I'm hoping that it's just a final middle finger to Russia from the Obama administration, and that the tanks and troops will be coming home as soon as we have a less feckless Commander-in-Chief. Still, we'll see.

1/18/17, 10:47 PM

Carlos M. said...
The recent developments around the anti-Trump "Women's March" illustrate perfectly the sort of hole that American leftists have dug themselves (and digging even deeper) into.

A few weeks ago, a protest organizer told prospective white attendees "listen more and talk less" and "check their privilege constantly." Then, a few days ago, pro-life women's group New Wave Feminists registered to be a partner. They were initially accepted, and the story was picked up the Atlantic. Not soon after, they were dropped since apparently you can't be "anti-choice" and "feminist" at the same time.

Apparently, this Women's March is about groups of women fighting off other women who don't think exactly like them. In order to be a check on Trump's misogyny and the abuses his administration, or something. If I was Donald Trump I'd feel very good about my prospects come 2020.

Incidentally, feminism used to be very closely associated with the anti-abortion movement. That remained so until around the 60's, after which the whole Progressive movement sold itself to the establishment. Old-school feminists considered abortion to be a social injustice, a way for powerful men to engage in sexual misbehaviors without consequence. So in a way, "New Wave Feminists" aren't pushing for a new thing at all, they're just bringing back an old thing which modern feminists stopped fighting for. We can't have that now, can we? If not, very soon the women might be demanding actual stuff that women need, like maternity leave, flexible hours, childcare...

1/18/17, 10:49 PM

Thomas Daulton said...
You didn't even bother to quote Noam Chomsky: "Just say the word 'class', and everyone falls over dead. 'There's some Marxist raving again.'"

1/18/17, 11:00 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Paulo, I won't argue a bit. The notion that real intellectuals ought to be incompetent when it comes to dealing with the material world is deeply rooted in our culture, and deeply mistaken.

Patricia O., that makes perfect sense to me. I'm not sure why the contemporary culture of toxic entitlement has made so much more of an impact on women than on men, but there it is: everybody I know who's worked retail, as I have, knows that your average middle- to upper-class white female customer is far more likely than her male equivalent to assume that the entire universe revolves around her and her alone. :-(

Repent, yep. The kind of treatment you've received is one of the core reasons why Trump will be standing at the podium Friday and Hillary Clinton will be glowering at him from a distance.

Patricia M., fair enough. I appreciate the data points.

Mark, it really is an interesting question! I think part of it is the way that the self-image of affluent Americans fixates on the claim of moral goodness. "We're the good people, the tolerant, enlightened, virtuous people; it's those awful people below us in the class hierarchy who are racists and sexists and so on" -- that's the implicit, and very often explicit, logic behind a lot of American class barriers. That said, I think you're right about some of the other factors.

KevPilot, I've served up regular orders of right kebabs here; do you recall my discussion of the Republican shibboleth of "American exceptionalism," for example, or my repeated comments about the Thatcher-Reagan counterrevolution? Or perhaps the piece pointing out that "Christian" Republicans behave like Satanists? Just at the moment, though, it's the left that's front-and-centering their idiocies, and they deserve their share of archdruidical jabs. In the meantime, just as I gave Obama the benefit of the doubt when he first took office, I'm waiting to see what Trump actually does once he's in the White House before passing summary judgment on him.

Pygycory, thank you! It's through conversations like yours that useful ideas might just get out into circulation.

Cottage Crone, you're most welcome.

Nuku, yep. Primates will be primates!

Mtmmvr, well, we'll see, won't we?

Les, nope -- the stockbroker in my example is based on people I've encountered in the peak oil and sustainability scenes, the guy in Indiana on my neighbors.

Carl, I have very mixed feelings about that. I'm not interested in living in an all-white country -- I was raised in a mixed-race household in a down-at-the-heels suburb that had plenty of people of different ethnic backgrounds, and I prefer that to lily-white monotony -- and I'd hate to see environmentalism get turned back into a cause of the extreme right. That said, maybe it's a transitional stage, and as identity politics dries up and blows away, the alt-right will mutate into something less shackled to the preconceptions of its opponents.

Gwizard43, I've heard the same thing: a significant minority of people on the left who are staring in disbelief at the bizarre things being said by the majority, and are beginning to say, "No, this is way overboard." It's possible -- at least I can hope for this -- that they and the people who've already gotten disgusted with mainstream corporate pseudoconservatism will get together, take over the abandoned center of American politics, and turn into the political mainstream of the future.

1/18/17, 11:11 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Mouse, what I'm hearing at this point sounds a lot more like outright hate than mere snobbery. It's getting pretty shrill out there.

Kevin, "there's no left left" -- that succint summary earns you tonight's gold star. You're quite correct, for that matter -- after all, that's what happens when the left gets entirely coopted by the affluent and privileged!

Robin, you're most welcome. My two favorite t-shirts on that theme so far: "Adorable Deplorable" (a woman's t-shirt, btw) and "I was Deplorable Before it was Cool." All we need now is the musical: "Les Deplorables" -- that would be "Le Dep" for short!

Carlos, if I were Donald Trump I'd already be making plans for my second inauguration. The increasingly savage infighting among the various anti-Trump factions is making his reelection campaign look more and more like a shoo-in.

Thomas, thank you. I don't usually read Chomsky -- his particular style of intellectual arrogance irritates and bores me -- but that's a good quote.

1/18/17, 11:33 PM

Gottfried Wilhelm Melvin Hicks-Leibniz said...

"Had the election last November gone the other way, for example, we can be quite certain that all the people who are ranting about Donald Trump’s appointment of Goldman Sachs employees to various federal offices would be busy explaining how reasonable it was for Hillary Clinton to do exactly the same thing—as of course she would have."

That's not certain at all.

Take all the people who voted or not at all, and you will have a statistically significant amount who would still rant about Clinton doing the same thing as Trump.

1/18/17, 11:37 PM

rapier said...
The Clinton and post Clinton institutional Democratic party of neoliberalism and neoconservatism was crafted to win elections by moving to the 'right' and so they did win. Not only that but the GOP while they despised the Clinton's and Obama, like Alabama fans hate Auburn fans so just because, they were as happy as can be to go along with the financialization and corporatization of the system and wars in the Middle East and beyond manned by Jihadists recruited from the masses indoctrinated by the Saudi ultra fundamentalist Islamic sect, and throw in bringing NATO to Russia's Western border.

It's impossible to say how Trump feels about the ultra liquid financial world and it's ever compounding debt but he has come out against all those foreign so called policy stances. However his party which controls congress is still in the thrall of the neocon consensus on the latter. (I admit neocon isn't the best term for it but will have to suffice) At any rate ascribing some overall strategic plans or goals to Trump is a fools errand. Giving him far too much credit for deep thought. He is likely to support perfectly opposite goals on any given day depending upon who he last talked to. His appointees have few or no unified goals and the aforementioned Congress just wants to piss of liberals, just because. Which is hardly a prescription for anything good. The cure of Trump is not going to be any better than the disease. The one saving grace is it finally will push the system out of its faux stability. That's good to the extent one thinks the bleaker future detailed here is good. Inevitable fine, but good?

1/19/17, 2:16 AM

Zachary Braverman said...
Such a good point about the "breaking the glass ceiling." How is it that that's an expression we all recognize, but "raising the glass floor" is non-existant as a phrase and, practically, a concept?

1/19/17, 2:43 AM

Justin said...
JMG, that's an interesting way of thinking of Marxism, that it's repackaged apocalyptic millennialism with a prophesied golden age afterwards. It seems to me like the kernel at the heart of it all is "We think the universe should be fair (which means everyone should be identical), and therefore the only reason why it's unfair is nefarious behavior on the part of those who are luckier (or different) than others". Of course, that's often true, but on the other hand Pareto distributions are rooted in the fundamental nature of statistics. The history of communism, and the tendency of some of those who are more equal than others to end up fabulously rich as a result of worker's revolutions suggests that attempts to put a boot on the Pareto distribution ends up creating massive discontinuities on both ends of the distribution even if the middle is fairly flat (the ones on the poor end are the ones who starve to death in gulags for some real or imagined thoughtcrime).

Again with the Jordan Peterson stuff, about one of the strangest parts of 2016, our friend Pepe:

Note that part one, although interesting, is not necessary to watch this video.

1/19/17, 2:56 AM

Steve said...
>you don’t need the Jew-baiting, the misogyny, the racial slurs, and the rest of it.

They don't need it, but they don't need to commit it either to get accused of it. So how much of it is actually real?

I'd wager the actual incidences of this are very low, and the rest is mostly projection, with a little oft-ignored box to the side for false flags. If men are gathering, it's misogynist. If white people disagree with oppression rhetoric, they are being white supremacists, and if Islam is criticised, it's xenophobia. If the accused try to defend themselves, they are denying their privilege and are labelled even bigger bigots. This is so common that the typical progressive activist can't even coherently explain the difference between alt-right, MRA, PUA, gamergater, or any other instant-spray-on tar and feathers. But if it turns out that a graffiti spaztika was planted by a left wing activist, then the outrage cycle is all out of fucks to give, and if you still insist, it was just an "art project" meant to "start a conversation", and the real problem is structural and symbolic aggression perpetrated by the white patriarchal complex.

The fact that it was the progressive left who pioneered the shaming and mobbing tactics on social media has also conveniently been swept under the rug, despite years of behavior to look back on in many different online communities.

It would be comical if it wasn't all taken so seriously.

My favorite incidence of this is how the Guardian proved how their female writers were being uniquely harassed by aggressively deleting any comment that disagreed with them, and then considering every deleted comment to be harassing. This was published as a full on report with fancy looking graphs and everything, shared by a bunch of well meaning folks in my network, none of them noticing what was up.

1/19/17, 3:16 AM

Chester said...
I've tried to keep my own thoughts/fears/hopes filed away so they don't get unduly influenced by the hyperbole going on in D.C. about inauguration. A man literally tried to set himself on fire the other day to protest Trump. It's at a fever pitch, and will only get more interesting.

In any case, I wanted to offer a belated thanks, having finished Twilight's Last Gleaming a month or so ago. It was awesome to see non-federal D.C. and our long-suffering reps in Congress finally get a nod SOMEWHERE.

1/19/17, 4:36 AM

Mean Mr Mustard said...

Same over here, it would seem...



1/19/17, 4:39 AM

Nestorian said...
I do not think it is accurate or fair to label those who objected to the results of the 2000 election as "sore losers." The fact is that Gore ought to have won, but the Supreme Court refused to allow all the votes in Florida to be counted on patently political grounds. That is simply a grievously outrageous state of affairs, and objecting vehemently to it ought not, in justice, earn one the label "sore loser."

By contrast, Trump clearly won the 2016 election "fair and square" according to the rules in place for adjudicating elections.

The elections of 2000 and 2016 are light years apart in the crucial area of basic justice, and abiding in good faith by rules of fair play.

1/19/17, 4:40 AM

Justin said...
Another thought:

In terms of class warfare, what professions are perhaps the most guilty of all? On a per capita level, probably C-level executives, but there are relatively few of those. I think university professors and administrators are probably the worst of the bunch, because their salaries and campuses, in addition to a whole lot of government money are primarily funded by wasting years of 18-24 year old's time and putting them in debt for life or until we simply write off student loans. There's a specter haunting America, and it's not communism, it's higher ed.

(I'll make a prediction that student loan forgiveness will be a major issue of the 2020 presidential elections - in fact it might come up in the 2019 elections in Canada). Of course, whatever coalition forms that represents the interests of the coastal elite will be against it, because it would be the death knell for at least 75% of post-secondary education (and much of what will survive will be trade schools).

1/19/17, 4:58 AM

Andrew said...
Paulo. Thank you for your post. I reminds me of something that David Fleming said, that craft work teaches a certain honesty because you can't make the materials lie.

One other thought on all this. I've seen a few commentators crying wolf because the poorest of the poor didn't vote heavily for Trump. It reminds me of Toynbee on the internal proletariat - actual economic wellbeing is less important than the feeling that they have been deprived of a birthright. Such as a 'great' America, perhaps?

1/19/17, 5:06 AM

drhooves said...
Another fine post, JMG. The caterwauling of the losers is absolutely more shrill this election, which I believe will only get more shrill as time goes on and it becomes apparent to more and more liberals that their views are economically nonviable and that yes, unfortunately, man is basically evil. Conservatives will also soon be more vocal, as "making America great again" stumbles down a far different path than what they had in mind.

And while the Marxists may have lost out on some of their theory, the left has definitely left an imprint of government solutions being the preferred way to address problems. Obamacare won't be repealed, but will be "replaced" - and is far more likely to occur versus The Donald's wish to reduce Federal employees by 20%. Social bigotry is definitely a characteristic of crossing the Rubicon on our way to an even worse version of a police state, one that's more poor and more violent.

1/19/17, 5:35 AM

asr said...
I agree with you're overall point. That there is an element of classism, but I think it's more cultural. It should be noted that Trump won by the largest margin among those who make between 50 and 100,000 a year. Those making less than that went to Clinton by significant margins and incomes above were basically split according to this exit poll. Are people in the 50-100,000 income group the working class when I believe the median household income is 53,000 a year or so?

1/19/17, 5:59 AM

asr said...
I do note however, that when I clicked back to look at the exit polls for 2012 and 2008 Trump did significantly better among those who made less than 30,000 and between 30 and 50K. His margins were similar to what George W. Bush earned in 2004.

1/19/17, 6:03 AM

Bill Ding said...
All that middle class and working people want is a fair shake. That must be why they vote for Republicans year after year.

1/19/17, 6:05 AM

Bob said...

I don't want to vote for an entertainer. Bland is fine if it includes policies that will help ordinary Canadians. Our current crop of politicos are about as entertaining as watching paint dry. This would be tolerable if they could think outside of the box that mainstream economics has placed them in. Along with the myth of progress we have the myth of austerity.

1/19/17, 6:10 AM

Phil Knight said...
The state of mind that seems to be guiding soi-disant Democrats as they declare their absolute trust in the CIA and mouth anti-Russian slogans that would have warmed the cockles of Joe McCarthy's heart is, well, interesting. The problem with doing a post on it is that I'm still trying to make some sense of it, with very limited success so far...

My take on this, FWIW, is that the West had the choice of two mutually-exclusive options when it came to its energy policy: either pro-Russia or Pro-Saudi Arabia/Gulf States.

The neoliberals and Neocons went in hard for the latter option, which meant the West has had to generally adopt pro-Saudi and pro-Sunni Islam policies and anti-Russian ones. This, to me, goes a long way to explaining much of the very odd behaviour of Western leaders, such as supporting the Jihadists in Syria, and facilitating large influxes of Muslims into Europe. It is noteworthy that Theresa May's first state visit as Prime Minister was to the Gulf Co-operation Council, and the UK remains particularly hawkish towards Russia, even with Trump as president:

I find that if you view global policy not as the US vs Russia or China, but as the Arabian Gulf vs. Russia, things tend to make a lot more sense.

1/19/17, 6:26 AM

Mark Homer said...
Two things to add. I note the relative paucity of Harvard/Yale folks in the administration, and the disavowal of Trump by Penn (especially Wharton School) as being representative of its brand. I do think Trump does represent Philadelphia's relatively fluid mixing of the classes.
Second, many educated white men were reminded by the stridency of the Democratic rhetoric of their loss of career opportunities and self-respect since the seventies and eighties. Why sign up for a repetition and further loss?

1/19/17, 6:33 AM

MichaelK said...
Even though I don't agree with all your points and conclusions, as usual there are many worthwhile obsevations and arguments.

I married into a family who, I suppose, qualify as southern aristocrats. For the older members, Sherman's march to the sea, seemed like a recent occurance. They were rather sceptical of me because they assumed for some reason that I was a Marxist. In truth I had read an awful lot of Marx, Engels, Hegel, Lenin, Gramsci, but I'd read a lot of other stuff too, and I wasn't a Marxist. The political philosopher I identified with most closely was... Machiavelli. Anyway my beautiful southern belle's family warmed to me after I said that Sherman's march would be decribed today as something like a warcrime or even a bordeline case of genocide, or even terrorism that is, an attempt to wipe out a people or way of life, though it was aimed at a specific geograhphical area. Wow! That did he trick. I was in and part of the family and more importantly the US class system. I liked being near the top, rather than the bottom. But being a European meant that I observed most of it from the outside.

Class in the United States is a very strange beast indeed. Trump is an extraordinary character in the American political narrative. Here's a child of privilege and a billionaire, who somehow has become a champion of the people against elite rule, which is some kind of paradox.

The number of liberals who looked at me in stunned amazement when I said I thought Trump was 'on to something' and stood a good chance of winning the election, well, I lost count. Fascism, I was informed, wasn't coming to the United States!

It's been a strange year, a year in which the two candidates with the most enthusiastic support, were a 'fascist' and a 'socialist' respectively, that's some change. I don't think one should take these labels too seriously, because elections here are so full of partisan rhetoric and wild emotions that it's like people have gone temporarily crazy indulging in a wild political carnival.

Though my ex-wife's family were clearly southern aristocrats I also got on really well with people way down the social and economic scale, the so-called 'deplorables', isn't that what one labels them now? It's strange. For some reason I've always been able to go up and down the 'class ladder' with relative ease. One needs to show people respect and interest, and be cautious. Like when somebody tells you that the tavern isn't a place for strangers after the sun goes down.

Perhaps it was because I was a foreigner that people gave be some slack? What I alwasy found appalling was the attitude of well-off liberals and leftists towards the 'white working class' especially those in rural areas and extra-especially in the South. I found their prejudices close to a form of 'racism' that was... okay to express, and that troubled me a lot.

So Trump's triumph didn't surprise me at all, on the contrary, I'd been expecting it. The big question is, what happens now?

1/19/17, 7:25 AM

Bob said...
OK, I will take the bait. While I can't claim to fully represent my Leftist Coastal Elitist Social Bigots, I can at least express my own personal views on this post. I tend to assume that the average American voter, regardless of their preferences, is uninformed, misinformed, uninterested in policy details, and guided primarily by emotions. Yes, my friends and I would scoff at working class Republicans voting "against their own economic interests," as if the Democrats had their back somehow, and how these same voters were distracted by abortion and other issues - essentially tricked into helping the rich. Fair enough. But this actually is something different, and we all know it. One way to cut through campaign rhetoric is to look at a person's history. Hillary has plenty to atone for, but Trump - who is not a very good businessman - spent his entire life amassing wealth and attention, and helping no one, despite having ample opportunity. Why assume he is capable of anything new? Why choose the blowhard over the Neoliberal liar? Trump voters may have bought his lie about wanting to help the working class, but no one else did. Do I think Hillary was going to? No, but she acknowledges climate change, can find Jordan on a map, and so forth. You speak of Trump's tweets and the Alt-Right's overt bigotry as tactics, when I have zero reason to believe they are anything but representations of genuine personality flaws and disgusting beliefs. He sure is using that tweeting move a lot AFTER winning, yes? A question that I have is: what separates the working class Americans who voted for Trump from the ones who voted for Hillary? Where do their beliefs diverge? The answers I come up with disturb me. And I am not alone:
Elections bring out the worst in our country, and the bar has been lowered.

1/19/17, 7:26 AM

Unknown said...
Thanks for once again making my week with your insightful writings. One measure of Trump's success may well be how angry he makes both the Republicans and Democrats. After all, the DC swamp has both alligators and crocodiles and both must go in order to save the country. One of my favorite books "How to have fun at work" - Livingston explains in detail how changing an organization as large as the Federal Government is impossible unless you implement the changes immediately. Otherwise, the establishment will erect barriers that can not be breeched.


1/19/17, 7:26 AM

Greg Belvedere said...
Another thing this week's blog made me reflect on was my own class prejudices towards the ultra-wealthy. While Trump represents the working class for many people, to me he represents the top .01% as much as Clinton or Obama. Matt Taibbi commented that when he would criticize Trump during the campaign he would immediately get inundated with tweets from Trump supporters denouncing him. He has not received this when he has pointed out that Trump is appointing people from Goldman Sachs (an organization Trump criticized his opponents for having ties to). It will be interesting to see what his supporters think of him next time around. The way the dems are doubling down on their failed approach it may or may not matter.

1/19/17, 7:38 AM

MichaelK said...
Chomsy has done some really excellent work examining the structure of the US mainstream media. Like, why does it inform people so poorly? Why doesn't it reflect the views and attitudes of the population more accurately? The concept of 'manufactured consent' is also rather interesting.

But I'm not a slavish acolyte of Chomsky by any means. I'm really disappointed that he and most of the left, haven't reached out to Trump's supporters and attempted to form an 'anti-estblishment' alliance. If one were to combine Sanders' 'socialists' with Trump's 'fascists', that would be, potentially, a powerful political force for 'revolutionary' change. It's bizarre to see Trump being demonized as Satan incarnate by the left, in a way that's so similar to the methods used to demonize Saddam Hussein, Gadaffi and Putin! Are we being prepared for 'regime change' here too?

That Chomsky has nothing to say about the attacks on Trump, calling him 'Putin's puppet' implying he's a traitor and a Russian agent, is extraordinary. The rhetoric of the political coup has come to the United States and the left and liberals are so sanguine about it, it's scary. It's gotten so bad that if Trump was assassinated an awful lot of people would say he had it comin'. Which is an awful state of affairs. A coup against a democratically elected leader, is still a coup, even if one doesn't like the guy. Or maybe the left think a coup is justified because, though democratically elected, Trump is really an outlaw?

1/19/17, 7:41 AM

Joseph Bloch said...
One of the many things that unnerved the left so much about Trump was the way he approached racial minorities. He didn't treat them as such. He just treated them like he treated any other group of Americans, and they responded better than anyone expected. Blacks and Hispanics want jobs, too, and that speaks to issues of class rather than racial identity politics, just as you lay out in the OP.

1/19/17, 7:44 AM

Scotlyn said...
@pygmycory I am fascinated by your suggestion of working payroll taxes into capital expenditure to disincentivise automation. I wonder could you provide, or link to, a worked example?

It reminds me if a suggestion I once heard that if you put a company's shareholders down as a cost in your P&L sheet, and put liability to employees on the balance sheet, you might quickly turn around the drop in share of profits labour has been getting for decades. There must be other tweaks to accounting conventions that would reveal unexpected ways to reckon & apportion costs & benefits.

1/19/17, 7:51 AM

Carl Dolphin said...
JMG, I saw yesterday that Project Veritas undercover filmed far left anti faststs planning on disrupting the Disploraball in DC on Friday. Sulfuric acid, sprinklers coming on on building, chaining metro doors. Doesn't sound too PC to me. Not much in the MSN about it. If it was the far right planning this terrorism it would be all over the news.

1/19/17, 8:04 AM

redoak said...
JMG, Great post as usual! In my experience coastal blue state elites tend to emphasize trivial grievances while ignoring luxurious privileges. What qualifies as "hard work" in my particular "industry" (higher education) is simply a bad joke. But the water cooler talk is always about how hard everyone is working, please... that's not work! Not being apocalyptic here, but I'm convinced my peers will not understand their privilege and consequent responsibilities until they see it in the rear view mirror of the Joad family truckster.

1/19/17, 8:04 AM

Eric S. said...
One of the things that I have the hardest time understanding regarding today's politics is the way political opinions have been flattened out into all or nothing positions. When I ask people on the left why pursuing policies that could help out the working class, such as the trade stances Trump is adopting or policies that haven't yet been explored such as legislative penalties on the pursuit of increased automation in the industrial sector those questions are unthinkable... meanwhile, on the other end of the political spectrum, there are some issues that affect low income Americans just as strongly that are just as unthinkable to discuss, such as say, a slight increase in the minimum wage so that people with full time jobs can actually afford to live in a home, buy food, and receive basic healthcare or barring that, something to help keep people whose jobs can't provide them these things from becoming homeless or dead. I just have a very difficult time understanding why keeping people employed and keeping poor people from dying are mutually exclusive goals in today's political discourse. I can’t exactly talk to friends who are very poor and currently looking at their medicaid, food stamps, or income-based housing and wondering if they’ll still have them this time next year about the completely unrelated things the party in power is doing that might help the working class. Or in the case of environmental legislation, attempts to avoid a tragedy of the commons are usually seen as opposing goals to offering jobs, as though we can either have basic quality control, clean air and water, and national parks -or- employment, pursuit of both is off the table. It’s frustrating. We can talk about helping the poor or we can talk about helping the working class. We can talk about maintaining the commons through basic business regulations and maintenance of public lands, or we can have a functioning economic system that actually employs people. I know a lot of these things are beyond policy of any sort. but at the same time, it does seem to me that politics could pursue many of the working class oriented goals of the Trump administration with a bit less callousness, and that the left's interests in protecting the commons and providing assistance for the poor and vulnerable could be pursued with a bit less cluelessness, but things have gotten to a point right now where even so much as discussing a path forward that addresses both sets of concerns is just not an option.

As for the volatility of this transition: one thing that I am finding very interesting with this whole thing is the way that Trump seems to be using social media to direct and channel that volatility towards his own ends. Some of the comments he's gotten the noisiest about on Twitter are fairly typical criticisms you'd see from certain outspoken left leaning celebrities under any Republican president, and would usually have fallen into obscurity, but by being as affronted as he is at anyone who speaks out against his good name, he's managing to galvanize his opponents and supporters alike, with one group rallying behind the lukewarm and not particularly unusual words of celebrity X as though they're a special degree of hero, while the other group organizes itself into boycotts and outrage protests of every single person who speaks out against Trump's good name. And in doing so, he basically identifies all his opponents with a few high-brow celebrities his supporters never cared for anyway, while maintaining his image as a martyr to the snobby over-educated elites. The big question is what would be the long game on this? In the short term it generates a lot of attention and keeps his core narratives as the people's candidate who is having to resist the suits at every turn. But in the long run that sort of crowd thaumaturgy could easily backfire.

1/19/17, 8:06 AM

Breanna said...
I have been reading everything from my usual left wing sources through the lens you recommended - that of interests versus values - to see if it really was a values-driven movement, and virtually everything I've found is extremely based on interests. I tend to read more niche blogs than mainstream media, but the overwhelming bulk of the articles are things like "here is how X Trump policy or Y Trump cabinet pick will materially harm me or my family."

Also the vast majority of left people I know personally, and many sources I read, are not at all clueless about the rural right - over and over, they say "I was born there, my family all holds these views, and I had to leave to the city due to being harmed directly by these attitudes."

So as other commenters have noted, I'm not seeing hate so much as moderately well-founded fear.

Also, a question: Are you going to do a post of predictions for 2017?

1/19/17, 8:19 AM

Dammerung said...
Whatever may come, I don't think the white identity genie is going back into the bottle. A declaration to make 2017's defining narrative separating white identity from Jewish identity, in order to emphasize the latter's rather disproportionate influence in finance, media, and politics, was met with a broad consensus on /pol/. Donald Trump is going to continue to face mounting attacks, not from the left but from the right. The only thing I can even imagine capable of sending this rarefied strain of right-wing politics back into quiescence is a thorough buy-out by the Powers that Be. Even then, it's starting to dawn on young white males that when they partner with anything other than a white female, the resulting offspring has a noticeably dissimilar phenotype from one produced by hundreds of generations of white European mating pairs. Oh well - it looks like the CIA needs to be replaced root and branch. Maybe there will be some job openings for an entrepeneuring - terrorist is such a strong word. Let's say political activist.

1/19/17, 8:24 AM

pygmycory said...
you're welcome. The more I've thought about that particular idea, the better it seems to me, so I thought I'd give it some airtime. Beyond its potential usefulness, it works to make people think beyond 'automation is inevitable, we must learn to live with the consequences even if they scare both of us silly', and realize that they have some choice in the matter. So I think I may see if I can air that particular idea some more. I like it.

1/19/17, 8:32 AM

Sheila Grace said...
Thank you JMG for your words and insights. Thank you for sowing the seeds that have attracted some of the most thoughtful and brilliant comments by (repeat) readers I have seen anywhere on the blogosphere.

I offer this link:

Uranus-Pluto, Correspondences in the 2010's by Bill Herbst is a fascinating piece as it contains echos of both the AD posts and the workings of Well of Galabes and walks us through the relationships of the last go-around in the 1800's and early 1900's, and the go-around we've entered (set point 1961) through all four phases, to the last quarter finish line in 2077.

Perhaps even subtle illuminations of the energies involved in forging Lakeland: "As more and more people realize and face the fact that they are on their own
and must fend for themselves, we may see a re-emergence of what might
appear similar to the communal movements of the 1960s. The differences
between then and now will be profound, however. In the 1960s, communes
were largely youthful experiments in alternative culture based on naïve idealism.
In the 2020s, these bandings together will be practical rather than experimental,
based on necessity rather than idealism. Alliances will not be age-related — the
generational polarity of the 1960s will not repeat. Instead, millions of people of
all ages will find a common purpose in helping each other through local
reorganization by sharing and resuscitating commerce to keep alive the
exchange of goods and services required for survival."

I'd wish to add; thrival :) and grounded practical optimism

1/19/17, 8:48 AM

David, by the lake said...

Minor data point, but much in the PoliticalWire commentariat re looming cuts to NEA, NEH, and CPB. Philistines, barbarians, destruction of culture, etc, etc.

I pointed out that federal taxpayer funding brings certain liabilities and that perhaps purely state and public funding may be a better model. As an example, Wisconsin Public Radio is, I believe, celebrating its centennial, which means it predates the CPB by 50 years. Perhaps we just fund the things ourselves, sending money to support the things we value? (Which, for the record, I do for both WPR and WPT.)

1/19/17, 8:58 AM

Myriad said...
I've put a lot of thought over the years into why there's so much contempt (not just in present times, but at times throughout history) for "honest" (read: strenuous, dangerous, and/or uncomfortable) work, however skilled the work and however necessary to society that it be done. Contempt for the work itself turn seems to be one of the fundamental root causes of contempt for the people who do it.

There's a dangerously fine line between applauding people who better themselves or their children via education and professional careers, and contempt for those who do not, have not, or cannot do so. Of course, our present society went careening across that line in a spinning wheels-locked skid a generation or two ago, as the routine yet actually reprehensible use of the word "better" in the previous sentence reveals. It's okay, nowadays, to have an ancestor who scrubbed floors, but only if it's "so her children wouldn't have to." God forbid she did it to support a tolerable life for herself (which present economic policy implies she has no right to be able to do).

And yet, floors still need to be cleaned, by somebody.

The driving emotion behind this commonplace attitude, I've tentatively concluded, is fear of the unknown. "If I had to do that work under those conditions, I'd be throughly miserable every moment. That justifies whatever I feel I have to do to make sure that can't possibly happen." One way to be certain it can't happen is if only an altogether different variety of human being can possibly do the work. Hence, caste systems in all their variety, overt and masked. Fear leads to hatred, or however Yoda put it.

JMG, I've encountered a number of present-day people with attitudes similar to yours and mine (and most people's, if you go back those two generations) about the compatibility of an intellectual life with getting one's hands dirty. In just about all cases, they've been people who have actually experienced comparable (though greatly varied in detail) transitions between such different lifestyles. In many cases that experience came from military service; in my own, it accompanied one of three events in my life that I believe I can call "initiatory" in the sense you'd use the term. Specifically, academia and I became disillusioned with one another at just about the same time, resulting in my socioeconomic status changing from elite university student to young day laborer in a Dickensian eye blink. What seems to start out as a cautionary tale instead taught me counterintuitive lessons that stuck. (One of the lessons has ever since been one of my Laws: "There's no such thing as an unskilled job.") Most counterintuitively of all, it became one of the happiest, most serene, and most creative periods of my life, and the shed fears stayed shed. In fact after long subsequent stretches in much more prestigious (yet, as per the times, increasingly dubious) economic sectors, my latest career change, as of a few months ago, has me once again professionally acquainted with the mop and pail.

Without being so forward as to actually ask, I'll comment that this makes me curious about where in your background you acquired your own perspectives on such matters.

1/19/17, 9:01 AM

Ursachi Alexandru said...
Forget about Trump, Brexit, and all the rest of it. The Archdruid has uttered the word "kek." It can be now said with utmost certainty that times are, indeed, changing.

Meanwhile, on our side of 2017:

I am less willing to give our new-old corruption-ridden government the benefit of the doubt, but wait and see we shall. Also, it bears mentioning that Central-Eastern European NATO members Poland and Estonia are among the few member countries meeting their defense spending quota requirements:

1/19/17, 9:06 AM

Anon-y Mouse said...
Great article. Thanks.

I'd add something additional: the elite class has become so accustomed to being culturally and politically ascendant, that the threat to that ascendancy represented by Trump is making them more anxious than Trump himself. What I mean is: the innumerable articles I've read about Trump's racism/sexism/etc. etc. haven't, for a long time, seemed to me to express a concern that actual racist policies might be enacted. I mean, there's never any specificity. Instead the message seems to be: "what are you doing? We told you he was racist! Why are you still voting for him? The issue is closed!"

It's this hurdle that I think needs to be overcome before we can start to have a conversation. Take a look at FiveThirtyEight today. It's headline article ("The Real Story of 2016") against makes the assertion that "racism" played a big role in the way Trump voters voted. But "racism" is never defined, and I suspect it means stuff like "is distrustful of welfare programs". That attitude needs to change.

I think a lot of us have enjoyed watching parts of the Left meltdown over the past few months (and I say this as a Leftist). But the rubber meets the road tomorrow, and I'm not nearly as sanguine about the next four years as I think you and your readers are. I'm glad to see the forgotten people in our country finally speaking up. I think, though, that Trump may end up being a very serious disaster. But here's hoping.

1/19/17, 9:17 AM

Vadim said...
Mr Greer,
I can not help mysef but eagely read your new post again.
And I am quite disappointed again.
Allow me to point your attention to the fact, that most “media and pundits” got it right as to the number of the people (or, proportion of the total vote) that would (and did) vote for Trump. It is outside of my competence and would be too time-consuming to discuss here how he became elected with such a few people voting for him.
Your take on the “Coalition” is, as the saying is, would be funny if it was not so sad.
The biggest trait for a Trump voter is not a gender, income or education. Reasonably so, because that agenda lacks any ideological, social, economic or scientific base. What it has is slogans, promises and feel-good rhetoric. Somewhere earlier in the year there was a research published (I may remember the source wrong, but would say, based on Gallop polling) that indicated the major predicting question for the Trump vote was about the corporal punishment.
Most of the people that do not accept it as a way to discipline children are better educated, white, better off and mostly residing in the coastal areas, or, as you call us, left-liberal elites. As to the Why and how this phenomena happened, and what will come out of this election cycle, we will wait and see.
What bugs me, is, How you and many smart folks around me do not see it, and what else you got wrong. BTw, of the few Trump voters I’ve met personally, all are with advanced degrees and doing very well moneywise, one is black, two are immigrants.

1/19/17, 9:18 AM

Herbert Pagg said...

Have you read any of Richard Rodriguez' works? He is from a "minority" (Mexican parents, grew up in a mostly white-middle class suburbia, brown skin color), got affirmative action on his behalf but turned down the prospects of Academia and began a career as a writer instead.

The link is to an interview which I think is relevant to this weeks' post.

Another link, more related to culture than class but still tangiable to the post this week:

To give just one quote, "[There is in America] the dilemma of those who speak the private language of the lower class in a society where one must speak the public language of the upper class to participate.

In America, we tend to discuss such issues in bureaucratic terms, in statistics about race or ethnicity. By doing that, we totally ignore the whole drama of social class that's implied by the educational journey."

1/19/17, 9:23 AM

Vesta said...
@James M. Jensen II, et al,

Thank you for the link, and thank goodness, it's about time!

As a working-class, queer-friendly jew married to an ethnic minority and living in Seattle, it's become nearly impossible to discuss a whole range of important topics that have become rigid ideologies on the left, but are being fruitfully and vigorously re-examined by the alt-right. I've been frozen out by at least 2 friends as a result of trying.

A visible alt-left movement could be a great tool to broaden the discussion and help to pry loose some fixed minds among self-identified liberals. I expect it would pull many people like me from the alt-right, who may not share their ideology, but go there because we are interested in their treatment of certain key issues.

Interested readers should follow James' link and help shape the movement while it is still young and small, lest it be co-opted.

My best to all-

1/19/17, 9:35 AM

anton mett said...
I would like to know what a "good trump presidency" looks like. Most of the things Trump campaigned on are already being thrown out: build a wall, lock her up, repeal and replace (Obamacare), drain the swamp, etc. The only thing he's stuck with the entire time is "Make America Great Again". Are we going to have a greatness-meter?
"Make America Great Again" sounds like another pile of buzz words (or thought-stoppers) that we'll never be able to assess, much like the "War on Terror" or "War on Drugs". i.e. Do we have more or less terror now? Are our strategies helping or hurting terror? How will we know when we've beaten terror?

There's been a lot of talk of personal responsibility, but from what I've seen so far, we are not setting up an expectation for results.

What are the outcomes that we should expect?
How will we measure if they've been achieved or not?

It appears America's plan is to flounder about nebulously for the next four years, then everyone will move the goalposts to suit their own talking points.

1/19/17, 9:36 AM

BoysMom said...
I think part of what Robin is getting at, perhaps, and certainly something that would have cemented me strongly in never-Clinton, had I not been there already, is that calling a great many people 'unredeemable' is a religious statement. The mainstream media didn't quite grasp that, perhaps because most of them aren't particularly religious and especially not of the Christian religion. The general Christian belief is that everyone is redeemable, and that only God can know who is and who isn't redeemed. I doubt it cost her the election--she made plenty of other missteps, but it did energize some voters who otherwise leaned towards staying home or voting for neither of those two. Calling people 'a basket of deplorables' is bad enough (though the Les Deplorables memes have been hilarious, I know enough French history to wince--also my French was once good enough to read Les Miserables) but 'unredeemable' is a synonym for 'permanently damned', and I mean that in the Christian theological sense, not the common cuss word sense, and is a status reserved among the living for those who have committed the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit (which Christians have argued about precisely what that means ever since). Mrs. Clinton abrogated to herself the power of God, and as someone raised in and attending an United Methodist Church she really ought to have known better even if her speech writer didn't.

If I had to pick a political group to throw my hat in with, I'd have to pick the alt-right, specifically the alt-west branch. Yes, they have their fair share of jerks and spoilt brats, but they have more room for a traditional, Christian, one-income, home schooling, mixed-race, family with six kids than the more mainstream political movements have. I've known some of them for internet values of known for years, as a site I've frequented since the early 00's has become one of the intellectual homes of the alt-right over the last couple years.

I had to point out to a friend recently that while she may comfortably call herself a feminist as an elementary teacher, feminists have only sneering hatred for women who put family over career. It's a divide that shouldn't, as we both have young children and grew up together, have to be there, but she can be a feminist and even if I wanted to, I can't. Which I have no interest in being.

Patricia, what do you think of Hillary Clinton enabling her husband's behavior towards women and helping him intimidate his victims? I think she would have had somewhat more support from the young women of my generation had she divorced him back in the '90s, when we were all learning about things one could do with a cigar thanks to him and NPR. We got a pretty mixed message: on the one hand, support your girl friends if they tell you about something bad a guy has done to them, on the other hand, the First Lady supports her husband who is doing and has done plenty of bad things to plenty of women, and that's okay.

Brother Greer, I realize I used a word that may be inappropriate for your blog, though is precisely what I mean to say. If so, I have copied and saved this comment, and if you choose not to post it, will try to find another, less concise, way to say the same thing.

1/19/17, 9:45 AM

David, by the lake said...

Slightly OT, but a quick personal impression.

I was just at one of my favorite local diners for lunch (locally-owned, which I like to support, plus the food is healthy, well-prepared, and the owners -- who also work the kitchen -- are very good people). They have a modest-sized flat-screen TV high on one wall (sound muted, CC on, so less intrusive), tuned as usual to a news channel. As I sat at my table, I happened to catch live footage of Trump arriving at Andrews base. He and Melania descended the stairs and I watched as he returned the salute of the military officer (looked AF, which I assume it was, as Andrews used to be purely an AF base) waiting at the bottom. He and Melania then stood there, chatting with the officer and several other personnel for several minutes before entering the waiting vehicle and heading into DC.

I don't know if this was his first salute (certainly not as President, since he isn't President yet), but I had a sudden awareness that I was, in much more than a conventional sense, witnessing history. This country is at an inflection point -- for good or for ill, our course has been changed. (Given that the status quo would have been less-than-good, change is not necessarily bad, though as you've pointed out, not all change is good either.) Whatever these next four to eight years bring, at a fundamental level, things will not be the same after this.

I will be curious to see. I wonder what future historians will make of this.

1/19/17, 10:05 AM

mh505 said...
I'd like to do a book-length takedown of Marxism as a failed civil religion of secular apocalypse.

JMG - if and when you get there, you may want to keep in mind that Marxism almost certainly was the invention of Engels and that therefore, in a "true" sense, Marxism never existed.
Marx himself, in his last years, is reported to have stated: "I am not a Marxist", this of course in German.

As to Donald Trump preparing for his 2nd inauguration - how can we be sure he will last that long?

1/19/17, 10:09 AM

pygmycory said...
I work retail and find that my most aggravating regular customers who spring to mind are a)a middle/upper class east-indian? middle-aged woman with kids, b)a white man with spiky hair, c)a couple of asian men with very strong accents who wear hospital scrubs and d) an asian man. I'm not counting the children who throw temper tantrums on being told they can't have an x. I've never had any of the women get threatening or demand discounts with the words 'don't you know who I am?'. They're also less likely to demand to see the store owner or my male coworker.

1/19/17, 10:15 AM

PunditusMaximus said...
A lot of us have LGBTQ friends and are frightened by the idea of our abusive uncle that we try to avoid even at Thanksgiving being in charge.

Sometimes the simplest explanation is the best.

1/19/17, 10:17 AM

PunditusMaximus said...
I have experience with New Wave Feminists. They're deeply difficult to work with and are basically a trolling group. Letting them into the Women's March is the functional equivalent of inviting the Westboro Baptist Church to your interfaith seminar.

1/19/17, 10:19 AM

Owen said...
Praise Kek. You should write something about Meme Magic. It's something that you're a professional at, after all. Magic, that is.

I found it amusing the amount of defensive whining that went on when a journalist asked his peers whether they had ever owned or know someone who owned - a pickup truck.

I can only imagine the drama if he ever asked them about country music.

Sigh. These cultural/economic divisions have always been there, it's just all the decades of bad decisions and mismanagement has brought society finally to the breaking point. And the cities and the rural areas no longer have much in common.

I dunno, maybe the coastal cities need to break away and find their own path?

1/19/17, 10:30 AM

NomadsSoul said...

Excellent essay.

For those interested, Frontline has an excellent two part special called Divided States of America available online for viewing.

It focuses on the politics of the last 10 years ending with Trump's election.

Very instructive in the context of your thoughts.

1/19/17, 10:40 AM

Owen said...
Re: "*those* people" -

1/19/17, 10:40 AM

Ploughboy said...
So right you are, in your description of the so-called left’s failed exploitation of perceived (if not actual) class divisions. I acknowledge your purpose, which is to shed light on the dynamics that placed Donald Trump in the White House, but let’s not stop there. Let’s also acknowledge this is the lingua franca of American politics. It is because (to crib a line by Mr. Sutton to paraphrase) this is where the money is.

Having the perspective I do as a resident of a “blue” enclave…which is to say a community with many black voters… inside a “red” state in the heart of Dixie, I believe your point about biology bears emphasis. It intersects of course with the politics as practiced in the South for centuries, on both sides of the divide, but the role it played in electing Trump was not lost on anybody down here. The difference is only that class bigotry can still be given a pulpit while the racial kind has largely been driven to whisper in the corridors. Not that it has gone away entirely, or is ever likely to, but the pundits who saw this element in some of Trump’s constituency as purely a racial bigotry missed the obvious. It is more about class, and always has been. (It is also about rural vs. urban, as many commenters have noted) That your face might be brown is only a convenient and handy way of identifying you as the competition. Largely, it ain’t personal, it is just business. For the Republicans this time around, the Southern Strategy went national. It is just a quirk of the electoral map that the coalition of class-threatened and class-exploiting Republicans eclipsed the Democrats’. It is of course not a fool-proof strategy and there will always be those who will want to throw in with the predicted winners, regardless of the abysmal historic record predicting they will not likely get what they want, and many did that in this election too. This has given Trump supporters a degree of cover, but like I said, nobody I know is fooled, on either side.

I’ve spent some time in your necka Mr. Greer, and these forces are always just below the surface there too, I believe. As your thesis predicts though, the descent of any society brings this ever to the fore. We will all be pitted against one another, fighting over the scraps as we collectively become a poorer society.

1/19/17, 10:40 AM

BFM said...
Unfortunately, we've never found even the beginnings of a good way to talk about class in the USA. Income levels as a determiner for class are increasingly irrelevant in Britain -- with a plumbing contractor who proudly calls himself "working class" making twice as much as a book editor distantly related to a duke -- but the UK still has class consciousness, which makes the whole topic at least easier to discuss without falling down a slippery hill of semantic non-agreement, as is the case in the US. I'm not saying that class consciousness in itself is some noble thing, but rather that at least it leads more directly to the working class looking out for the economic self-interest of those who share a similar economic history and background.

In a country like the US, where everyone (at least traditionally) believes that they can become rich, and in the meantime that they are middle class (barring a particularly economically deprived background one choose to highlight as part of one's life story), what is the motivation for voting for "working class" interests? (The very term "working class" itself was rarely found in the US outside of textbooks, until recently.) Voting like a "poor person" only increases the difficulty of personally becoming rich, because doing so increases taxes and regulation and only really helps those that are "truly" poor, or so I believe the reasoning goes in a great many cases.

It's true that many decades ago, "blue collar" folks could be counted on to vote reliably for Democrats, but we've also seen how easily this was disrupted when non-economic issues were added in to the mix. In other words, economic self-interest is easily trumped (pun not intended) by a galaxy of other factors. In contrast, I believe the (usually proudly) self-declared working classes of the UK stayed reliably on the Labour side of the ballot for economic interests alone -- at least until about the 1990s. Political alignment has changed there now as well somewhat, partly at the moment due to Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, I'm aware, but my point is that the working class had always self-identified as thus, and therefore weren't deluded as strongly or as quickly as Americans of lower incomes into supporting platforms and policies designed to help the wealthy.

On another note, how insane and ridiculous is it that a man who almost literally can't bear to spend a night away from his gold-plated faucets in midtown Manhattan is the hero of conservative, lower-income, interior America? You honestly can't make this stuff up. Yet now we have to live with it all.

1/19/17, 10:58 AM

Crow Hill said...
Paulo: "the school dropout faller cutting down 200' old growth douglas fir year after year. I have a friend who can drop a tree and pound down a stake with it. Every worker deserves our respect. All work is worthy. Some, is just more honest than others."

I don't find this example is a good one for the kind of manual jobs we need to create; extractions from the biosphere are already much too great.

1/19/17, 11:10 AM

John Christensen said...
One thing I told a lot of my liberal family members over the phone in regards to a Trump victory the weekend before the election is that "just because something has not yet happened does not mean it will never happen." And one way I would respond to many commenters here is "just because America has never slid towards autocracy does not mean it will never become an autocracy." That is to say, I think there are a lot of valid objections to the incoming administration, and, considering the team he's assembled, I think it's doubtful that Trump will follow through on most of his campaign promises, most especially his promises to disrupt the neoliberal consensus and replace Obamacare with something better. We are a late stage democracy muddling through late stage capitalism, and, as Plato demonstrated two thousand years ago, such a scenario provides ideal conditions for tyranny. I have a feeling that many people applauding Trump at the expense of Clinton, be they die-hard Trump supporters, bemused centrists, or spiteful Bernie bros, will be disappointed, and possibly even remorseful, in four years. That's not to say that Clinton would have been a benign sheep, but just because a candidate campaigns against the status quo does not make that candidate the default best choice (such an attitude would have a hard time gaining traction in a place like Germany).

1/19/17, 11:24 AM

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...
I truly appreciate your stand against the speech of hate and for the speech of reason.

Re class: In my life I have noticed that class can be a slippery notion, and one can have the experience of being in different classes at different periods of one's life, or even--and this has happened to me--that of being in several classes simultaneously!

Furthermore, I think the term "working class" might be something of a misnomer. Many of the "working class" people being discussed are folks that at one time were once middle class, like my brother, who have suffered since 2008, forced into ever lower-paying jobs. The real "working class" people I see are in the urban area where I live: mostly people of color, they work at retail, med tech and other low wage, low status jobs, and make the kind of money that "working class" aka formerly middle class folks used to disdain.

Furthermore, I know folks who grew up poor and who now, well-to-do, look down on those less fortunate than themselves more than do some born-affluent folks I've met. Then again, there are those who left their small towns to come to the city, and embrace urban life to the fullest. Their relationship with what they left behind can be very problematic. So I see class as a very complex set of constructs.

Which by no means obviates the need for discussion, but in fact begs for it.

1/19/17, 11:27 AM

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...
Regarding the election: climate change is not stopping.

It seems unfortunate that, regardless of what we may think about Trump, his cabinet nominees appear hostile to the concept, much less the facts, and thus do not seem likely to do anything to help our nation deal with that large, complex, threatening situation and the challenges it is already bringing.

To me, this is a very big deal, speaking not as a "liberal environmentalist," whatever that label means (different things, according to who's using it), but as an earth-centered person aware of the scientific data that's been locally "groundtruthed" by my own and friends' observations and experience.

1/19/17, 11:38 AM

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...
Regarding anti-abortion, pro-choice, and feminism:

It is possible to be pro-choice, anti-abortion and a feminist all at the same time--without one's head exploding.

JMG used to encourage readers to practice non-binary thought. This example offers a good opportunity to exercise that ability.

1/19/17, 11:49 AM

Unknown said...

Just let me note that I don't consider the observational premise correct: partisan vitriol hasn't been more acrid than expected, taking all trends into account. It also hasn't been particularly sided - there has been quite an army of trolls calling Hillary Clinton any kind of insult that you've ever heard, and then some. To the point that Trump called her the devil. Class bigotry runs both ways - you can easily find people willing to rant about "the elite" directing their lives too.

On a different subject, the EU currently spends 1,4% of its GDP on military. Upping it to the NATO target of 2% would merely be the difference between a good and bad economic year - marginal compared to the average of 17,5% spent on social expenditure (ranging from 13 to 30%) (

For comparison, that's 37% of the USA defense budget, or 342% of the Russian budget. It's more than adequate for defense. The only problem is the structure that makes it hard to coordinate.

1/19/17, 11:51 AM

Eric S. said...
@Jbarber: One thing I'd consider as far as the left bashing goes, is that for many of us, especially the older readers (there are a few readers who came new to the blog over the course of the last year or so since the initial conversations on Trump came forward), are active in alternative religions, the environmental movement, the permaculture/organic gardening/sustainability communities, or all of the above, and those are movements that have a tendency (though not universally) to lean left, and be subject to many of the very issues that are being put up for display in some of these posts. So for a lot of us this isn't so much a dragging of the American Left over the coals, as it is advice on how some of our movements (that have historically been captive left wing movements for various reasons), can avoid the same pitfalls we're seeing in things like the current presidential election. The posts on the failure of the climate change movement, for instance, are pretty specifically directed at climate change activists, who make up a decent portion of the blog's original audience so that they can achieve small goals even if the broader movement implodes. And, for the people on the left who are willing to listen, the basic bit of advice that is being repeated here over and over again (if you want to achieve your goals, you have to appeal to those outside your base audience, and sometimes purity politics has to be abandoned and you have to be willing to work with unpleasant or unlikely alliances to advance a goal), all of which is useful and constructive advice that people on the left can use to rebuild from the ground up and avoid the mistakes the party leaders have been making. That's one of the things that's interesting about this blog to me, it's one of the only places I know of where active members of the alt-right, leaders in the progressive left (one of the regular contributors here if I recall correctly was one of the leaders in the Coffee Party movement at one point), and everything in between coming together to discuss common solutions... And since many of the people here are leaders or contributors to grassroots movements that are attempting to get off the ground or already have, looking at case studies like contemporary politics to see what fails and what works (even when we don't like or agree with the things that seem to be working), is a useful way to avoid making those same mistakes.

1/19/17, 12:03 PM

brokeboater said...
He hasn't even been sworn into a first term and already he's shoo in for a second. Count me among those with apparent reading comprehension problems.

1/19/17, 12:15 PM

Stuart Jeffery said...

While I have often disagreed with your stance on left / right politics, I think you have summed up neatly the key reason that I am uncomfortable with much of the rhetoric of the liberal middle classes that talk about liberation groups yet seem to somehow sneer at the working classes.

I particularly liked you drawing attention to the glass ceiling effect as a focus for feminism. This is completely the wrong focus IMHO, for example it is failing the women on very low incomes who are in poverty looking after a child or two after the father has left. Poverty is a far more important feminist issue that somehow gets less attention than the glass ceiling.

Thank you!


1/19/17, 12:18 PM

Mark Luterra said...

Certainly there is plenty of bigotry directed toward the working class from the top, but too much of the bigotry of the working class is directed farther down the ladder rather than toward the top. This needs to change before we can see structural reforms to address wealth inequality.

I've said this before, but I see Trump as very talented at harnessing working class anger and directing it in all of the wrong places. He has an exceptional sense of entitlement and has never personally experienced anything like the daily struggle for survival experienced by the working class. I appreciate your unpacking of the emerging class war in the United States, and I agree with most of your ideas, but if you are going to convince me that Trump will be some sort of warrior for the working class rather than yet another con artist promising hope and change while enriching the privileged and immiserating the masses, you will have to work harder.

I would also like to say that it is not necessarily hypocritical to malign Trump for behaving the same as Clinton. Clinton, as a representative of the salary class, could be expected to fill her cabinet full of corporate fat cats. Trump, elected by the struggling working classes, ought to appoint a cabinet that will uphold the interests of his electorate. If he doesn't, then the hypocrisy is on him...

1/19/17, 12:23 PM

NomadicBeer said...
Another great post that takes me back to the time when I first started reading this blog.

The reason your writing resonates with me was my difficulty to express the problem that I saw in the rich leftist Seattle when I first moved here. I discovered that all the leftist slogans sound nice and match my background (Egalite, Fraternite and all that) but in real life they end up just being a pretense to support aristocratic privileges. US is one of the most classist societies that I have seen (and also historically based on credible research).

I still have problems explaining that to my friends here - I even pointed them to this blog and all I heard back was crickets. I think the denial runs very deep here. Same people that shop around for a cheap illegal Mexican gardener have no problem spending millions on a McMansion.

On a different subject, can you talk about how the class war in US fits with the larger context of the empire?
One subject that you touched on is Europe not paying for its own defense. I disagree completely - Europe is far enough from the center of the empire that it pays to US much more than it gets back in defense. By the way, I consider Britain separate from Europe, they obviously get a lot of imperial benefits!

Thank you!

1/19/17, 12:42 PM

RAnderson said...
In one of MLKs very last speeches, I believe it was at Riverside church, he was beginning to turn his attention to the matter of civil rights for, and the rampant injustice and discrimination against, ALL of the poor underclass in this country, pointing out class division as being ultimately the most important issue facing our society and the actual cause of unrest. Shame he did not have the further opportunity to provide further leadership in opening the eyes of the elite to an issue whose chickens have finally come home to roost.

1/19/17, 12:49 PM

wagelaborer said...
I still remember the mix of feelings I had as a teenager, when they took us on a field trip to a play, and the teacher, who was sitting behind me, said to his student teacher "These kids are upper lower class and lower middle class, and this is probably the only play they'll ever see in their lives". His arrogance was unsettling.

I just had a long argument with my friend, who wants me to go to the anti-Trump women's march. I told her that I am not in the mood to be around people frothing and screaming about the horrible, racist, xenophobic, misogynist white male haters, who need to learn to be tolerant and loving.

Maybe if the Hillary supporters would go back to the anti-Bush days, and be anti-war and anti-repression, I would go. Unfortunately, the same people on the anti-Iraq war bus I took to Wash, DC, who also signed anti-Patriot Act petitions, are now fully on board with the over-the-top demonization of Putin and Russia, and fully support censorship of the media and the internet, because, you know, it was the release of information that got us Trump. Information sharing must be stopped now!

No way I'm going to go march around screaming "What do we want? War with Russia! When do we want it? Now!" She'll have to go without me.

On your observation about nuclear weapons....already been there, done that.

Apparently, Trump tweeted something about modernizing nuclear weapons, which caused a great uproar among the democrats. See? He crazy! He must be stopped. He's going to get us all killed! When I pointed out that Obama has already started a trillion dollar nuclear weapon program into motion, you should have seen the skid marks, as they backtracked. Well, we can't have old nuclear weapons, don't you know? It just isn't done. We must have the newest, shiniest nuclear weapons on the block. That is not the same thing as what Trump wants.

It's just all too much.

1/19/17, 12:51 PM

Keith Hammer said...
Worrying about stuff we have no control over is a bad idea.So said Epictetis a Roman slave whose wisdom was probably hard earned.For me a white working class guy who did not vote for trump his inauguration falls into that catagory.That said I can see where his presidency could be highly amusing- until it isnt.What you see in this caracter baffles me.There is no way he can bring back middle class jobs to us wage earners. That train has left the station.If Obama was the place holder who kept the system limping along with duct tape and chewing gum trump is going to be the bag holder.

1/19/17, 12:59 PM

streamfortyseven said...
Chances are good that that identification will never occur; the history seen for the last 70 years or so (see Vance Packard, in "The Status Seekers") is that they recoil in horror from the working class from which they arose, being themselves "temporarily embarrassed millionaires". And, due to the ballot access laws which the Duopoly have had enacted in each state, short of revolution, it will be impossible to replace either the Republican or Democratic wing with anything else. Perhaps if they were to organize themselves along the lines of the Wobblies, and brought back the notion of a General Strike, they might have some success.

1/19/17, 1:14 PM

Esn said...
@JMG: "he's floated the proposal that the Obama administration's sanctions could be taken down as part of a strategic weapons treaty, and the Russian government has made cautiously optimistic noises about that as well"

Actually, while the Russian government has indeed made "cautiously optimistic" noises about weapons reduction treaties (though they also said that Trump should study why previous ones have failed - that is, the US's attempt to attain nuclear primacy with the missile shield installations in Europe and Qatar), they also stated that the sanctions will be off the table during any negotiations - that the US can add more sanctions or remove them as they like:

This may be a sign that the political forces in Russia who're in favour of continuing to try integration into the Western system, and those who want economic and political independence (which the sanctions are helping with) are finely balanced right now. More elites are in favour of the former, while the population is massively in favour of the latter. Both sides are willing to compromise for the sake of avoiding conflict (the comparative lack of which has been very good for everyone).

It's worth remembering, perhaps, that despite the economic shocks caused by the sanctions and counter-sanctions, many Russians still have the best quality of life in living memory, with enormous, visible improvements in just the last 10 years. When I visited Russia in 2015 (I visited a whole bunch of cities and towns, northern and southern), the quality of life for average people seemed comparable to that in Canada, though different to be sure (e.g. people had lower wages, but much lower costs too. Urban design was VERY different, and I would say better).

There also seemed to be not a hint there of the sort of worry about the future that I see in some people around me here in Toronto, and on your blog - about the stopping of progress, the potential for collapse, the worry that society has reached a dead end, etc. I guess people think that Russia will continue to have plenty of oil/natural gas even if most other countries run out, and global warming didn't seem to worry people at all (actually, most seemed to find the idea kind of campy, and suggested that it might be a good thing to make Russia warmer). The number one anxiety, rather, was that the West will eventually declare war and invade (as they seem to do periodically, once or twice per century). Western views about Russia are widely broadcast and debated, with people becoming steadily more and more worried.

1/19/17, 1:15 PM

Professor Pan said...
You are correct, but I think you are overemphasizing the class/social elements of the resistance to Trump and not giving enough emphasis to the other reasons so many are appalled by the incoming president—his appointment of nitwits and people with zero experience to head federal agencies (including one, Perry, who didn't realize the DOE actually does, and one, Carson, who previously claimed his lack of governmental experience would disqualify him), along with those who have stated their distaste and desire to eliminate the agencies they're going to head; Trump's blatantly authoritarian pronouncements and actions; his refusal to release his taxes or follow laws designed to prevent being compromised by foreign business dealings; the continuing disgust over his rape-y comments caught on tape (which would have derailed any other candidate); and so on and so forth.

There are enormous reasons to be very, very afraid of what this man can do to our country, particularly as he is abetted by Republican control of Congress.

So I applaud your calling to attention to the hypocrisy of the salaried class and identity-politics-driven liberals, I think there is a very principled, thoughtful opposition growing in response to what many of us see coming down the pike as we watch the ongoing transition.

1/19/17, 1:23 PM

streamfortyseven said...
The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can ‘throw the rascals out’ at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy.” Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope, 1965

And, for the Establishments of both Republican and Democratic wings of the Duopoly, this holds true and was dramatically illustrated by large numbers of Republican Establishment types - including the Bushes - endorsing Hillary after Trump became the Republican nominee. I don't know what they would have done if the Democrats had had a democratic nomination process and nominated Sanders. The usual Left-Right analysis no longer applies, things break along class lines and along rural vs urban lines as well (see

1/19/17, 1:35 PM

Clay Dennis said...
As if on que from your previous post, one of the weekends planned protests in Portland is called " We are not going back". And if that didn't make your point clear enough, it is sponsored by the LGBT community who is apparently not aware of the its own history as per your post.

1/19/17, 2:02 PM

Joe said...
I don't usually read Chomsky -- his particular style of intellectual arrogance irritates and bores me

A perfect example of the pot and kettle.

1/19/17, 2:14 PM

Michael Cain said...
I smiled through most of this -- it's the same things I've been saying for years, although I tend to use "torches and pitchforks" more often than you. The question at this point in time is how well the working class will do economically given: (1) the Cabinet-level nominees that will presumably set economic policy for the administration have spent collective decades pandering to the wealthy and fighting the whole idea of a "living wage"; and (2) the Congressional Republicans seem inclined to their long-time policies of tax cuts for the wealthy and decreased spending on programs that benefit the working class and down.

1/19/17, 2:15 PM

Glenn said...
" Carl Dolphin said...
Dear JMG,
Richard Spencer from the Alt-Right started a new web site on Monday : Already some interesting articles posted that some of your readers would like (snowflakes will be quickly melted).
He maybe reading you, as they're focusing on spearing the affluent elite and avoiding the "Jewish question" so far."

You seem not to have heard of the specifically anti-Jewish march he's planning in my wife's birthplace of Whitefish, Montana as payback for locals boycotting his mother's business because of his Nazi beliefs. Needless to say, there will be counter-protesters from all over the Northwest.


in the Bramblepatch
Marrowstone Island
Salish Sea

1/19/17, 2:24 PM

latheChuck said...
Re: homeless camps

Here near Washington DC, we have some species of tree (a flowering pear, I think), that sprouts up in thickets wherever it isn't regularly cut back. A typical location is in the loops and wedges within highway interchanges. Local homeless people have found these thickets to offer shelter (from the wind, the sun, and prying eyes). I'd begun to notice narrow trails leading into some of these thickets, and a rare flash of tent fabric in the brush. Now the highway maintenance crews have cleaned out the undergrowth, leaving just a carpet of splinters and a few mature trees. As I told my teenage son... they can't catch and remove homeless people, but they can destroy their habitat.

[And, on "consciousness"... as I edited the paragraph above, I changed "the homeless" into "homeless people". I'm somewhat stunned at the difference in feeling, within myself, that results from even such a small change in language (applied according to my will, so to speak).]

1/19/17, 2:30 PM

Glenn said...
The difference I see between the upper middle and upper class British and the same in the U.S. is the presence or absence of an official class structure. The British are secure in their place. Even if they go broke, they are shabby gentry, but gentry, none the less. In the U.S. we are more defined strictly by income. So for the middle class, and to a lesser extent, the rich; it is a constant Red Queen's race to maintain one's position. Whereas us poor folk have no place to fall, and are more secure, miserable though we might be. That, I think, is part of the root of the hate, and the reason for not saying it out loud, right or left, from the top towards the bottom.

On the right, there is the added factor that the very existence of the poor, whether undeserving "welfare queens" or poor shlubs working three jobs to make ends meet, reveals the lie of the free market meritocracy where anyone can succeed through hard work. They thus resort to Social Darwinism, Ayn Rand philosophies and the concept of the undeserving poor to justify their positions and wealth.


in the Bramblepatch
Marrowstone Island
Salish Sea

1/19/17, 2:35 PM

Mike said...
JMG, I'm afraid you have a terrible blind spot here. Your impulse to claim "both sides are equally bad," and your resolute contrariness with regard to whatever you think is the received wisdom of most people, have led you astray. This is not just another "R replaces D" or "D replaces R" changing of the guard, with the attendant normal feelings on both sides. This is far beyond the range of normality in our society. I'm surprised you haven't noticed that Trump is seriously mentally ill, that he's a stunningly corrupt con artist, that he's habitually dishonest, that he's extraordinarily volatile, that he's scatterbrained and has no attention span or ability to focus, that he's wholly ignorant on most of the topics he talks about, and that he's so mean-spirited that one of his main motivators seems to be personal vengeance. He has all these qualities in doses that are vastly larger than any previous President. This is a very, very, dangerous man. The people who are angry and sacred about what happens next to our country aren't expressing bigotry toward the working class, they fear for our nation in the hands of a madman. And this is without even discussing the horrible polices he apparently supports, or the amazingly unqualified people he wants in his cabinet. This is a new and awful threshold we're crossing here. and to try to minimize or normalize it is really unwise.

1/19/17, 2:59 PM

pygmycory said...
It looks like the student loan bubble situation is coming into the open.
Behind a paywall, so I couldn't see most of it.

1/19/17, 3:06 PM

Owen said...
>calling a great many people 'unredeemable' is a religious statement

Nah, that's standard SJW M.O. They *are* religious. Left wing fundies.

However, some of the people they've demonized? They're really good at playing demons, much to their downfall and chagrin.

1/19/17, 3:07 PM

Cherokee Organics said...

Oh my! So many comments. You've clearly hit a nerve here. Nice one, and I'd call that a knock-out blow. :-)! The champ is against the ropes and down…

The thing is that distraction techniques get used all of the time. And speaking of time, they are time wasters, which is what they intended to be in the first place. I've seen community groups descend into chaos and endless bickering, meanwhile there are people in the background quietly benefiting from that arrangement. A recent charity which I support seems to have been hijacked. They are definitely going to score a letter.

In the particular case that you wrote about, the endless bickering over approved subjects is a smoke screen designed to hide the fact that with a declining resource base and increasing population, benefits for some are costs to many others. It is not a one for one arrangement at all.

The correct response that does not end up with lamp posts is really to share the pain as far and wide and as evenly (not necessarily fairly as we don't seem to expect that as a species) as possible, and also to communicate that strategy. You still end up in the same place, but to arrive anywhere with good grace seems to be the more palatable option to me.

Hey, I have been rather bemused by the mainstream media of late and I wonder how many of their advertisers have captured the opinions of the editors and owners of the media and what that means to them as people turn away from that mainstream media. Even Blind Freddy can see if they continually keep predicting major events the wrong way then eventually someone has to wake up and ask the hard question as to who is consuming this media where money is being spent when clearly the majority that matter aren't? Just sayin...



1/19/17, 3:17 PM

Carl Dolphin said...
it was a different group planning that protest. They postponed to next month. The story's a little more complex then you make it out to be. Basically, his mother was bullied to sell her property when she has nothing to do with his political beliefs. Lots of Freedom of speech issues going on. Carl

1/19/17, 3:56 PM

latheChuck said...
Dolphin- Re protesters using "sulfuric acid" as an anti-personnel weapon, I think there's a technical misunderstanding. I believe that I saw the same new article, and the organizer was referring to BUTYRIC acid, not SULFURIC acid. What's the difference? Butyric acid occurs naturally in human body odor, vomit, and rancid cheese. (See Wikipedia's entry for details.) I have no idea where protesters could acquire it in pure form, but it's been used as an agent of protest before. (It's also used to make artificial fish bait attractive to carp.) Sulfuric acid, of course, can cause severe burns to exposed skin... and is easy to get, for lead-acid batteries, and extreme drain cleaning.

1/19/17, 4:10 PM

Armata said...
Speaking of Social Justice Warriors, circular firing squads and the Oppression Olympics, have any of you seen this yet? It seems there are people in the "fat acceptance" movement who are attacking "smaller fats" for not being obese enough.

Sounds like something The Onion would come up with, doesn't it? These days, truth is often much, much weirder than fiction, especially when one is talking about the postmodernist Left.

1/19/17, 4:21 PM

latheChuck said...
Re: Trump's use of social media. A friend of mine claims to have heard that Trump dislikes using Twitter, but explains that only when he keeps his communications Twitter-short can he get them delivered to his mass audience without them being distorted by the media. That makes a lot of sense to me. If the news media have only enough time/space for crawling headlines and sound bites, the news "source" might as well personally edit his message to fit. It seems like a natural consequence (i.e. blowback) of reporters selecting what to present to their audience.

When we were told that automation would make many occupations obsolete, we didn't think that a robot could write a news story. It turns out, Twitter (with the help of biased, clueless reporters) made the short-form news story itself obsolete.

1/19/17, 4:21 PM

Patricia Mathews said...
@Michael K re " Here's a child of privilege and a billionaire, who somehow has become a champion of the people against elite rule, which is some kind of paradox."

The Tyrants of ancient Greece were all members of the aristocracy. Julius Caesar was a patrician born, as was the populist demagogue Publius Clodius - who became a plebian to further his political career. It's a fairly common pattern.

1/19/17, 4:53 PM

JacGolf said...
To all of te gay, oppressed, yadda yadda yada people out there, this is not about what is between you legs or the first 1/4" of your is about what is right and wrong. If you only justify your cause with who you choose to sleep with or the pigment in your skin, get over it...get onto what your actual dreams are instead of
fighting against a class or race that you feel 'oppresses' you. I am a white male, I feel the same thing when 35% of the money I negotiate and earn for myself is stolen by the feds. In the end we all want to do what we love. JMG is better at writing about it, but in the end, truth is better than fiction.

1/19/17, 4:58 PM

anonymous said...
Millenial checking in here. Perspicacious as usual, Mr. Greer. To amplify your points, it seems appropriate to indicate I was born in the last year of Mr. Reagan's presidency; 9/11 happened when I was thirteen. Therefore, the term "American prosperity" is utterly meaningless to me. All I have born witness to in my adult life was a phantasmagoric five act German opera of fecklessness on the part of the "liberal" and "conservative" elite--as you often say, God knows what either side seeks to liberate or conserve.

Frankly, I consider myself lucky in that the 2008 crisis made it so that I did not graduate from college; I was forced to go to work and become something of an autodidact-- or dilettante to put it in uncharitable terms. The vast majority of my friends, doctors and lawyers all, are now trying to tread water in a sea of debt knowing they are a bad case of pneumonia or car accident away from utter destitution--that effectively can never be discharged. Ever. Furthermore, by the time the pay it off, if they ever will, they'll be in their late forties--so, in a few years, forget about consumer goods purchases that actually drive an economy. And they are the lucky ones! As for me, I work for a large commercial bank and would be on food stamps if I had children. I, too, am a lucky one-- God help you if you are cast into the outer darkness that is food service or home healthcare or temp work.

Meanwhile we are treated to condescension and outright hatred from the preceding generation-- caricaturized as spoiled special snowflakes who don't have the sense to get a job with a pension. Nevermind any objective metric indicates we are more productive, work longer hours (if we can), are paid less, and may not live as long as our parents. This should make us more sympathetic to Mr. Trump's followers, but I think too many of my generational brethren are too well educated (in the Stalinist sense of the phrase). That said, we shall see if Mr. Trump delivers on the populist side of his policies given the state of the congress. If the smug glee on the face of Speaker Ryan's face is any indication we ain't seen nothing yet.

1/19/17, 5:10 PM

Howard Skillington said...
Looking back upon my childhood as a kid whose default mode was to question authority, I am mystified as to how I could have been duped by the hoary civics class myth that America is a “classless society.” It’s easy now to understand whose interests are served by preempting class resentment in as many young proles as possible, but it certainly did not serve me well to enter college, still oblivious of the extent to which class would undergird the rules of the game in the bigger world out there.

I remember regarding the Brits as quaint and silly for persisting in seeing the world through the lens of an elaborate class system. Now it strikes me as a definite boon to be given that understanding upfront – whether to acquiesce in it or resist it.

1/19/17, 5:14 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Well, that seems to have hit a nerve! One comment before I start: I fielded several posts that included profanity, and they were deleted. You know the rules, folks; if you want your comments to be put through, keep 'em clean. If those who sent in posts with profanity want to clean them up and resubmit, I'm fine with that.

With that out of the way, on to the comments!

Gottfried, I'd have believed that, too, until I watched Democrats who spent eight years denouncing George W. Bush for drone strikes, human rights violations at Guantanamo, and regime-change operations spin on a dime and spend the next eight years excusing Obama for doing exactly the same things. I'm far from sure there's any hypocrisy too extreme for the Dems at this point.

Rapier, obviously I disagree. One of the things that's amused me repeatedly about the last year is the efficiency with which Trump gets the intelligentsia to treat him as stupid, and then uses that against them.

Zachary, that's an excellent point!

Justin, exactly. Marxism, like all prophetic faiths, starts out with the assumption that there must be a real world more congenial to human cravings than the one we actually experience around us, and then sets up some more or less elaborate scheme for getting from here to there. The thing that differentiates it from other prophetic faiths is simply that it uses the language of political economy, rather than that of theology, to frame its prophecy of salvation.

Steve, er, I've spent enough time lurking on 8chan and other alt-right forums to know from ample personal experience that there's no shortage of Jew-baiting, misogyny, racial slurs, and the like in the alt-right scene. (I encourage anyone who doubts this to go there; the board you want to visit is /pol/.) Mind you, you're correct that the social-justice left also loves to fling accusations of antisemitism, racism, misogyny, etc. at any convenient target, but that doesn't mean all such accusations are by definition wrong, you know.

Chester, you're welcome!

Mustard, doesn't surprise me a bit.

Nestorian, election fraud is as American as apple pie. Both parties engage in it constantly. Thus I do think that the tantrums of the Democratic Party in the wake of the 2000 election class them as sore losers.

Justin, the impending collapse of the academic industry is a huge issue, and one that's going to get at least one post here. I have friends and readers who work for a tolerably wide range of universities, and they regularly forward me harrowing details about what's going on in that industry. That is to say, you're almost certainly right, and the student loan bubble is going to be only one of several overinflated things to come crashing down to earth in the not too distant future.

Drhooves, I suspect you may be wrong about the size of government. As the US moves into the post-imperial period of its history and loses the ability to cover deficits with the printing press, sharp cuts to federal bureaucracies are going to be on the agenda; certainly The Hill is reporting major steps in that direction by the incoming administration. But we'll see.

1/19/17, 5:36 PM

Jbarber said...
@Eric S
Thank you for your response, it actually helps me very much. I too belong to an alternative religion, am an organic food consumer, and I consider myself an environmentalist; however, while I lean left I do not buy the entire platform. I think guns are useful, some forests need cut down to avoid wildfire dangers and provide a renewable resource, those are some of my thoughts that would make a liberal elite go pale! So I will read JMG's political posts in order to parse out what the movements I hold dear can do in order to avoid the pitfalls of the far left.
@JMG, I am sorry you think I need to work on reading comprehension, I need to work on writing more than anything. I am not good at getting my thoughts presented. Like I said in my original comment, I did not read this post, I skimmed it. Your tone has gotten very acidic and I don't care to read that no matter who it's directed towards. That's from a personal conflict avoidance trait of mine, not a political preference. I am not one to spit furious venom at Trump or his supporters; in fact, it was one of your posts that convinced me to avoid that behavior! I am not optimistic about a Trump presidency, but I am not a doomsayer either. Either he does good things for most of the country, or things go downhill like they are going to anyway once the oil runs low.
So I am going to re-read the previous posts that I skipped or skimmed, keeping Eric S's words in mind. In addition, my "Classics" reading list compiled from your suggestion has grown to include The Tale of Genji, works by Voltaire, Lovecraft, and Tacitus(really looking forward to that one). Since I am borrowing them from the library, I was able to pick the oldest editions available. I am hoping to avoid modern dumbing-down that way.
I'm fairly sure I won't be able to find any response from either of you by scrolling through so many comments, but I want to thank both of you for your words of wisdom.

1/19/17, 5:37 PM

SCA Heretic said...
JMG, I respect and admire you and your work. However, I have to say that you have repeatedly pointed out the error of others thinking that "its different this time." It seems to be that this week's post is you saying that its different this time.

1/19/17, 5:40 PM

Ray Wharton said...
As I think about it I am less and less convinced that class in an economic sense is the most precise way to identify the axis of bigotry. As I think,one by one, of friends of mine who cannot comprehend someone voting for Trump a very clear pattern emerges among that set. Bigotry against the uneducated. The assumption that ignorance or lack of education, or inadequate esteeming of education, is the root of all Trumpism. In this perspective correct media is a form of education. That is to say that I perceive the prejudice on precisely religious grounds, it is built around the assumption that the detested has failed to internalize a true and redeeming creed.

Among my age mates I know very few wealthy enough for class to mean a tinkle. Pay check to pay check is as it does. But, the divide based on education level holds strongly if I adjust for my friends who have joined me in disparaging the value of university. Beyond my age group the cases I can think of are fewer, but considering teachers, trades folk, elder relatives, and neighbors the loudest critics of the Trump are educators or people who are proud of being educated.

The cases of actual hate speech from Trump critics are in fact a very loud and very tiny fraction of all the people I can think of, even in those cases there is a sense that Trump support is irrational or ignorant.

Consider how Trump used the tactic of addressing the non-rational mind, I think that offended those folks whose ego is founded in their value as a rational being.

1/19/17, 5:49 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Asr, exit polls are notoriously inaccurate, not least because it's so easy to massage them statistically. Furthermore, do you notice any attempt to divide working class from welfare-dependent poor in those numbers? No, I didn't either -- and I did specify the working class, not the poor as a whole, as the basis of Trump's support.

Bill, but they don't vote Republican year after year. A lot of them voted for Obama in 2008, and would likely have voted for Sanders if the DNC hadn't rigged the nomination process against him.

Bob, true enough. I'd be happy to see some austerity being applied to the people who can actually afford it, i.e., the affluent.

Phil, hmm! That's an intriguing analysis, and I'll want to think it over.

Mark, two solid points. Thank you.

MichaelK, thanks for this. I'm sure our class system looks pretty strange from a European perspective! As for what happens next, though, that's a heck of a good question, but we may not have to wait too long to find out.

Bob, of course Trump's still using his Twitter account. He knows he needs to keep an open channel with his constituents, so that he can use them to bring pressure to bear on the political system in DC, and he's also extremely good at using Twitter rants to impact the political system directly. Oh, and of course people on the left are still insisting at the top of their lungs that the people who voted for Trump must all be Nazi storm troopers or what have you; doing anything else would force them to confront what the policies they've supported have done to millions of Americans in the working classes. It's so much easier for the left to keep on flinging hate speech at the people they despise...

Unknown PRC, we'll see!

Greg, no question, a lot depends on how Trump's policies play out over the next four years. If he's able to mitigate the permanent depression in the flyover states, back away from the permanent Mideast war of the Bush and Obama years, and get rid of the Obamacare mandate, I suspect he'll have no trouble rallying his supporters in four years -- though you're right that the way the Democrats are doubling down on a failed strategy, he may not have to worry.

MichaelK, people on the left are calling for a coup because many of them don't actually care two farts in an EF-5 tornado about all those fine ideals they like to parade around. We've seen that clearly enough over the last eight years, as Obama's fans rushed to excuse him for everything they denounced to the skies when done by George W. Bush.

Joseph, a very good point.

Carl, of course it would be. "But we're the good guys!" is the left's refrain, even when their actions are indistinguishable from those of the people they hate.

1/19/17, 6:05 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Redoak, thank you. I hope you have plans for another career when the academic industry falls on hard times; that may not be too far in the future, you know.

Eric, good. That kind of frozen opposition is very common in political systems on the brink of convulsive change; once change hits, everything is up for grabs, and the alignments that come out of it are usually unrecognizable from those that existed beforehand. As for Trump's long game -- to be honest, I have no idea. Could his tactics backfire in a big way? Of course -- but they could also succeed in catalyzing an extensive political realignment, in much the same way that the New Deal did.

Breanna, fair enough. That's a data point I'll add to my analysis. As for predictions, I did the closest you'll get to that at the beginning of this month, and my main prediction was that we're entering a period of convulsive change in which no accurate prediction is possible.

Dammerung, that's too bad. From my perspective, an abstraction based on skin color is a very weak foundation for a meaningful identity, and it also forecloses a lot of potential alliances. That said, the alt-right, like the rest of us, gets to make its own decisions and take the consequences thereof.

Pygmycory, I'm very glad to hear it. I'll probably do another post focusing on the way tax policies subsidize automation, just to try to stir up some more interest.

Sheila, thank you -- I'll check that out as time permits.

David, yes, I've been hearing the same thing. The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities are slush funds controlled by little cliques of cognoscenti, and the sooner they're given the axe, the better. All the great ages of artistic creation have taken place when artists had to convince non-artists to pay good money for their creations.

Myriad, of course you can ask that! I figured out in my early twenties that I wanted a writing career, but it took me quite a few years to break into print. In the meantime, I worked in a variety of poorly paid service jobs -- nursing home orderly, microfilm photographer, copy-machine operator, dry cleaning drop-shop clerk -- in order to help make ends meet. That experience taught me a great deal about class and American society, among many other things. Now, fortunately, I make a modest living from my writing and don't have to compete in the job market -- but I haven't forgotten.

Ursachi, that's good to hear. As NATO comes apart, I hope the nations of eastern Europe will look to their own defense collectively; it seems to me that everyone would be safer if Russia was counterbalanced, not by a declining United States, but by an alliance of eastern European nations.

Mouse, of course the next four years are going to be a crapshoot. We've got an outsider taking over the executive branch, with a set of largely untested ideas about fixing the serious problems this country faces, and all the wider problems I've traced in this blog are still out there. I think, though, that there's a chance that ditching neoliberal economics and neoconservative foreign policy, and pruning some of the other excrescrences of the late bipartisan consensus, may give us a less dire future than we would otherwise have had. Still, we'll see.

1/19/17, 6:27 PM

avalterra said...
I'm glad you mentioned the alt-right as that was my exact thought when you mentioned relying on identity politics. The obvious response was "okay, if that's the game - we'll play it". But to that end it also struck me, as I read this weeks post, that human tribalism plays a large part in what is going on. All the way back to the deal made in the 60s and 70s - "we'll let representatives of your tribe into the elite as junior partners. You can identify with them and feel that your tribe has been given a seat at the table."

1/19/17, 6:35 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Vadim, then you're going to be disappointed repeatedly as this blog proceeds, because I disagree with what you're saying and I don't see any point in finessing that fact.

Herbert, no, I haven't. Thank you; I'll read the links as time permits.

Anton, what does a good Trump presidency look like? Try this: (a) we don't have a war with Russia; (b) US troops come home from the Middle East; (c) sensible tariffs and trade barriers stop the offshoring of jobs and bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States; (d) the federal bureaucracy undergoes a serious pruning. That's a decent start. Oh, and the repeal of the Obamacare mandate, so that people aren't forced to buy insurance at whatever sky-high rates the industry wants to charge, would also count as a big plus in my book.

Sister BoysMom, nah, you're fine. I have no objection to the use of the verb "damn" in its proper theological sense, nor do I object to the noun "hell" when it's used for the place (or condition of being). I'll leave it to Phil, the Prince of Insufficient Light, to darn people to heck. ;-)

David, yep. Of all people, it looks as though it's going to be Donald Trump's job to maneuver the US through the crisis phase of anacyclosis I talked about in an earlier sequence of posts. The world, and the US in particular, is going to look very different four or eight years from now.

Mh505, if that book ever gets written, I'll certainly talk about Engel's reinvention of Marxism, and the repeated re-reinventions of it by later authors as well. As for Trump, he might not -- but given the way the Democrats are mishandling their response to him, if he does make it to 2020 and the Dems haven't yet gotten a clue, he won't have much to worry about.

Pygmycory, interesting. When I worked at a dry cleaner, the customers we all feared were the overdressed, expensively made up women, for whom treating the counter staff like dirt was apparently routine. I've heard similar things from friends who work in restaurants.

Punditus, you do know that Trump's record on LGBT+ rights is considerably better than most of the politicians in DC, don't you?

Owen, good heavens, do you want me to give away my trade secrets? ;-)

NomadsSoul, thank you.

Owen, thanks for the link.

1/19/17, 6:46 PM

Dammerung said...
I have, over time, come to believe that race is more than just skin color. I think genetics influences things like time-preference, aggression, intelligence, and other traits that create meaningful cognitive differences between people. When you talk about dog breeds this is considered self-evident. When you try to apply these ideas to humans, most people take leave of their senses. What's more, I have a cornucopia of recessive traits that human beings tend to prize. In 300 years, I still want there to exist blue-eyed; fair-haired; and fair-skinned people. If we're going to preserve that phenotype, it's going to take some deliberate husbandry of the human genome and defense of white diversity.

As for how we became a noticeable political movement, I mean, words cannot express how baffled I am. If you asked me ten years ago which of my campus political activities - some of which, I hasten to add, were quite left wing! - was going to be the most effective and get the most splattered ink over a decade later, "posting Hitler did nothing wrong to an obscure hobbyist imageboard for people who love anime because it gives the lads a case of the giggles" would emphatically not have made my list. For all intents and purposes I'm one of the founding fathers of the alt-right (we prefer "National Socialist." Alt-right is controlled opposition.) I was a /b/tard in 2005. In chan-years, that makes me like a tottering old Mandarin sage who's got a Fu Manchu that reaches down to the floor and who claims to be 200 years old. I should be able to write a doctoral thesis on all this but I'm just as confused as the horrified journalists they occasionally send into our midst to try to figure out what the heck is going on.

If it were just internet Nazi frog wizards maybe I could still work my way out. But anime-loving internet Nazi frog wizards, it's just too much. When I was a kid, I used to set my alarm for 6am on Saturdays so I could get up and watch anime on the Sci-Fi channel, because that was the only time and place you could see it on American TV. You should check out the #AnimeRight hashtag on Twitter. It's 80% anime girls in MAGA caps, 20% anime girls in SS uniforms. I mean, how do you even? How do you even? It's both bewildering and hysterically funny, but it's also a counterculture that's so good at self-promotion that it's actually being addressed by the legacy media. They have to comment on anime girls in Nazi uniforms now! The kek business went from sekret club shorthand for LOL to a full-blown attempt to use Jungian psychology to weaponize confirmation bias and assume direct control over the Western noösphere. No wonder the conventional political establishment is at such a loss.

It's always interesting to compare notes on this with someone who's from a more, ah-heh, organized magical tradition.

1/19/17, 7:05 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Ploughboy, of course. As things heat up, though, expect strange alliances, and those who come out on top will be those who can see past the conventional wisdom and put together coalitions that the other side can't imagine.

BFM, I'll freely grant that we don't know how to talk about class in America! Social mobility is still too much of a factor, and again, the lack of a fully articulated feudal system in our past doesn't give us the vocabulary that, say, Brits have. As for the mismatch between Trump and his supporters, though, hasn't it occurred to you that gold-plated bathroom fixtures are exactly the sort of thing that appeals to the working poor? Trump is their ideal, the kind of rich person they'd like to be, so of course they place their hopes in him.

John, no doubt the boy who cried wolf could have made the identical case -- "Look, just because there wasn't a wolf the last three times I shouted doesn't mean that there isn't one this time." Since the only evidence anybody's offered for Trump's supposed fascist inclinations amounts to the usual partisan handwaving, I see no more reason to take this shout of "Wolf, wolf!" any more seriously than the last ones.

Adrian, an excellent point on class. It really is a complex phenomenon, and yes, it's also one axis of privilege among many others. As for climate change, I won't argue at all; in November we faced the unenviable choice between a candidate who dismissed climate change and a candidate who was perfectly willing to make the right noises on it, but would almost certainly have done exactly as much about it as Obama did -- that is to say, nothing. I'll be doing a post on the climate situation in the weeks ahead.

Unknown Mox, hmm. I well recall the level of partisan nastiness during and after the 1980, 1992, 2000, and 2008 elections, and this seems more extreme to me. As for NATO, the US currently pays 70% of NATO's operating expenses, and also maintains massive military formations and armaments on its own nickel that are only relevant to the defense of Europe. Europe is going to have to pick up those costs, because we can't afford it any more.

Brokeboater, apparently so. If you'd read more closely, you might have noticed that I was talking about the way the Democrats are doubling down on a failed strategy, which promises to hand Trump reelection on a gold-plated platter.

Stuart, exactly! To use Zachary Braverman's useful turn of phrase, raising the glass floor -- making sure that the poorest women have access to child care and economic opportunities -- is far more important than breaking any number of glass ceilings. If, to quote Madeleine Albright, there's a special place in hell for women who won't help women, what are we to say about the Madeleine Albrights of the world, who have done less than nothing for their poorest sisters?

Mark, if you think I see Trump as some kind of idealistic warrior for the working classes, you're quite mistaken. Of course he's in it for his own reasons -- but he was clever enough to realize that he could win power by discarding the conventional wisdom and talking to working class voters in their own language. His ego being what it is, it's a safe bet that he wants to win reelection -- preferably by a landslide -- and again, he's clever enough to know that delivering on at least some of his promises is the easiest way to achieve that. As for the rest -- well, we'll just have to see, won't we?

1/19/17, 7:10 PM

onething said...
"Most of the things Trump campaigned on are already being thrown out: build a wall, lock her up, repeal and replace (Obamacare), drain the swamp, etc."

I've seen a lot of commentary in this vein around the web, and while it appears quite possibly true, my question is, in that case why is nearly every one among our rulers so against him?

All this anti Trump hysteria - almost all of it was spoon fed via propaganda to the populace. I've lost most of what respect I had for people due to their amazing gullibility to all this propaganda but at least I can say that this loss is quite free of class bias.

1/19/17, 7:13 PM

Unknown said...
"Oh, and of course people on the left are still insisting at the top of their lungs that the people who voted for Trump must all be Nazi storm troopers or what have you; doing anything else would force them to confront what the policies they've supported have done to millions of Americans in the working classes. It's so much easier for the left to keep on flinging hate speech at the people they despise..."

True enough, but the Democrats had willing accomplices in that; Republicans. The electorate that voted for Trump seems to be missing half the picture. Besides, to me, it looks like a bunch of folks fell for a fast-talking New Yorker. Given the alternative though, it's hard to blame them.

1/19/17, 7:21 PM

John Michael Greer said...
NomadicBeer, the relation between social class in the US and US imperial hegemony is complex enough that it probably needs a post of its own. As for Europe paying for its own defense, er, you might want to look at the share of NATO's budget that the US pays, and the amount of our military that's specifically geared to the defense of Europe.

RAnderson, hmm! I'll have to find that and read it.

Wagelaborer, I could so easily imagine the protest marchers in their "pussy hats" chanting that!

Keith, I take it you don't ride trains much. When the train leaves the station, you just have to wait a while; it'll be back. Neoliberal trade policies, not any law or force of nature, caused industrial jobs to leave the US; more sensible trade policies can bring them back.

Streamfortyseven, except that they're in the process of taking over the Republican party. Now if someone sensible will simply do the same thing to the Dems...

Esn, of course. If Trump knows his business, and I think he probably does, he'll cut a very broad strategic arms treaty with the Russians, replace the misbegotten efforts toward US primacy with the stabilizing strategy of deterrence, withdraw the missile shield installations to our side of the pond, and then push for a bilateral trade deal. Such a grand bargain would benefit both sides and allow for a major reset in the international order -- one that would make our retreat from empire a good deal less traumatic than it would otherwise be.

Professor Pan, and that's why I mentioned in my post that there are valid reasons to disagree with Trump and to organize political opposition to his administration's policies. If more of his opponents would ditch the class bigotry and concentrate on actual issues, you might even have a chance at effective action.

Streamfortyseven, it's a commonplace of democratic politics that it sinks into that kind of bipartisan rut at intervals, and then gets jolted out of it by the rise to power of figures who ditch the conventional wisdom and reset the terms of debate. That's what's happening now.

Clay, now surprise me.

Joe, tastes in intellectual arrogance differ. If you don't like mine, why are you bothering to read this blog?

1/19/17, 7:25 PM

Donald Hargraves said...
Old news. I had a friend who was active in the pro-fat movement (before she got creeped out by some of the non-fat male hangers-on) and I saw two consecutive issues of a pro-fat magazine that intrigued me. The first had a pictorial of a 180 pound woman (with various levels of nudity, of course), the second had three pages of defense of that pictorial (seemed the readers thought she wasn't fat enough for a pictorial).

1/19/17, 7:28 PM

Donald Hargraves said...
"dilettante" has the same root word as "delight," and used to be a positive word connoting love of, if not the ability to live off of, an art form or scientific discipline. It's high time the word regained its positive connotations.

1/19/17, 7:37 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Michael, that's indeed the question. One of the things we don't yet know is whether sensible tariffs and trade barriers on the one hand, and enforcement of immigration laws on the other, will bring back enough jobs and put enough upward pressure on wages at the bottom end of the scale to counterbalance the inevitable giveaways to the already rich. I tend to think they will, but we'll have to see.

LatheChuck, typical -- instead of addressing the cause, we cover up the symptom. Nice bit of word magic, btw.

Glenn, that's a fascinating supposition -- and, I think, a plausible one.

Mike, that is to say, you've decked out a straw man you've named "Donald Trump" in a Ming the Merciless outfit and are thwacking him with gusto, and you think I have a blind spot because I won't join you in that sport. Sorry; I get my aerobic exercise in less useless ways.

Pygmycory, hmm! Fascinating. If it's true that the Feds have been falsifying those numbers, it could get ugly really fast. I hope those of my readers who work in the academic industry have made plans for a second career.

Cherokee, thank you. Blind Freddy is as astute as usual, I see! You're right, of course; one of the things I expect to see in the years ahead is a massive decrease in the amount of money going into advertising, as it becomes clear that ads no longer get the response they once did -- and what that will do to all those industries that depend on ad revenues for their survival (cough, cough, the entire internet, cough, cough) is again an interesting question.

Armata, once you set things up so that being oppressed is treated as a sign of virtue, of course you're going to get people competing for the prize of Most Victimized.

LatheChuck, that makes a great deal of sense to me. The way Trump uses Twitter to do end runs around the media and the other official channels of information is fascinating to watch.

JacGolf, remember that most people -- no matter what identity category they do or don't belong to -- take on the identities their culture assigns to them. It takes an unusual degree of self-awareness and self-knowledge to create an identity for oneself.

Anonymous Millennial, many thanks for the report from the trenches! The snowflakes I've encountered among millennials are a small minority, and most of them have trust funds. I'll repeat what I've said before: your generation has been screwed, blued, and tattooed, as we used to say in my misspent youth, by and for the benefit of the Boomers. If the new administration has the brains the gods gave geese, they'll recognize that, and take steps to dismantle some of the things (such as predatory student loans) that have been used against you.

Howard, excellent! Exactly; it's all very well to question authority, but when the entire issue you should be questioning has been erased from the collective conversation, how do you get around to questioning it?

1/19/17, 7:46 PM

Armata said...
Recent guest post from Dmitry Orlov's blog, arguing that Donald Trump was right when he criticized Reichskanzlerin Angela Merkel's failed immigration policies that she has forced on Germany and the rest of the European Union, with results that have indeed been "catastrophic", as Trump put it.

We can already see a huge backlash growing in Europe over the failed policies of the EU's clueless liberal elites. More and more, I think Lord Beria called it correctly when he predicted Marine Le Pen will probably be the next President of the French Republic and I think it very likely we will see other right-wing populist politicians and parties come to power in Europe in the not-so-distant future. Oh, and Le Pen has already said that if she becomes president, she will officially recognize Crimea as Russian territory. She has already called for a Frexit referendum. The Brits are quite right in leaving the sinking ship that is the EU before things get really bad and I suspect we will see several other European nations voting to leave within the next few years.

Trump also correctly pointed out something we have discussed on this blog, namely that the EU is little more than a tool for German economic interests and that Germany's beggar-thy-neighbor economic policies have been disastrous for the rest of Europe.

Things are changing very rapidly in America and in Europe, in spite of frantic and ultimately futile efforts by the senile elites to maintain the status quo.

1/19/17, 7:46 PM

Jay Cummings said...
You seem to have an especially cold place in your heart for those you see as classists. I agree that some of the noise coming from the left are wealthy elites, but I think you're missing a great swath of resistance coming from the left from two places - the Bernie supporters who are more aligned with unions and workers rights, Medicaid for all, free college etc. And a growing group of political actors who are eschewing party in favor of establishing common ground around the obvious - that Trump isn't a representative of the poor and working classes. Farther from it than any candidate I'm history by an order of magnitude. You say Hillary or whatever other Democrat would be putting people in place who are just like the ones Trump is choosing - but that begs the question of what news sources you follow because many of his choices are baffling in their outright obvious givaway to the 1%. That's perhaps not an error of kind (though debatable), but most certainly one of scale.

I know you think Trump fits into the mold of how you've broken down the world of American politics and etc etc. I also know you're better than anyone I've ever read at tearing down your opposition, and so my plea here will likely fall on deaf ears. Trump isn't like any president this country has ever seen. He just isn't. A great deal of what you refer to as good opposition is focused on just that fact. Robert reisch and dan rather are doing some good work, for example.

honestly, the angry, ascerbic tone you have in this post is so far outside what I've come to expect from your writing that I wonder if you're okay.

As what's uniquely aweful about Trump starts to translate into reality, look for more and more coalitions of everyday people coming together to demand an end to this surreal chapter.

I miss the archdruid who takes wry amusement in the things he sees as upside down. This new angry archdruid isn't so much fun.

1/19/17, 7:50 PM

Moshe Braner said...
I think there's too much of an emphasis on the presidency, both in mainstream American discourse and on this blog, while real power is in the hands of Congress. If there really is a "bipartisan consensus", then Congress can override the president's vetoes. It's going to be interesting, but I doubt that actual policies will change a whole lot very fast.

The gaps between the new president and the party that he is supposedly affiliated with will become clearer as the party's congresscritters overreach with the mandate that they now think they have. Smirk on Paul Ryan's face indeed! The dems may well regain some congressional power in the 2018 midterms, and then we'll be back to gridlock. Or not. It all depends on who gets the blame for the upcoming financial and military debacles.

1/19/17, 7:53 PM

Armata said...
Check out this headline from The Burning Platform: US Government Caught Massively Fabricating Student Loan Default Data.

Can't say I am in the least bit surprised...

1/19/17, 7:58 PM

Bob said...
...defense of Europe.

Against who?

1/19/17, 8:01 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Jbarber, my apologies -- that was snappish of me, wasn't it? Still, these posts aren't an expression of disdain. If anything, they're an expression of frustration with the left, which could be doing quite a few productive things if it wasn't so deeply caught up in class prejudice and a variety of other unhelpful habits.

Heretic, how on earth do you read this week's post as saying "it's different this time"? I'm simply pointing out that class bigotry plays a significant role in the way that some people are responding to the victory of a candidate who based his campaign on appeals to the working class. That victory was nothing new; Franklin Roosevelt and Andrew Jackson did the same thing in their day, and so did plenty of figures in the classical Greek and Roman republics -- and the shrieks of outrage because the candidate of the deplorables won are nothing new, either.

Ray, that's fascinating. I wonder if it's a regional difference.

Avalterra, right on both counts.

Dammerung, if you wanted to talk about actual ethnicities, I'm not sure I'd argue. I'm pretty close to half Scots by ancestry, and I can see a lot of the classic Scots national character in myself. But "whiteness"? To use your canine metaphor, it's as though you were to claim that all brown dogs have some special characteristics in common that set them apart from black dogs, gray dogs, etc. But that's neither here nor there, of course; we all choose the lines we draw.

With regard to the alt-right, though, may I encourage you to consider writing a narrative history of your experience with the whole current, from /b/ to the Triumph of the Frog this last November? It would be worth reading -- and should you want to see it in print, I'm pretty sure a publisher could be found in short order.

Unknown, I've met a lot of people who voted for Trump with open eyes, saying, "He may turn out to be a complete disaster, but there's no way he'll be worse than Clinton, and he might just be better."

Donald, understood. It so happens that my tastes in femininte pulchritude tend toward the unfashionably plump; it also happens that my broader attitude toward body size is that it's nobody's business but the person who happens to wear that particular body. But yes, I've seen a lot of weirdness.

1/19/17, 8:07 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Armata, if Le Pen does win the French presidency, it's all over for the neoliberal world order. I don't have a sufficiently good sense of reality on the ground in France to know how much of a chance she's got, so won't hazard a prediction, but if that happens, it's game over.

Jay, nah, I don't find class bigotry any more offensive than other kinds of bigotry, though the hypocrisy with which so many class bigots cloak their hatred does jar on me more than a little. I'd also point out that this is hardly the first time I've had plenty of sharp words for people with whom I disagree -- but of course a good many of those have been on the rightward end of things, so you may not have felt stung by them, as you clearly do by this week's post. Finally, you're right, of course, that I think I understand where Trump fits in the landscape of US politics, and that my analysis differs sharply from the establishment view that you're repeating here; I don't consider that a particularly powerful argument against my take, though.

Moshe, the balance of power between Congress and the executive branch is one of the more complex issues just now. The last two presidents have massively expanded the reach of the executive branch, using executive orders, findings, and other dubiously constitutional gimmicks to enable something close to rule by presidential decree. How that will play out over the next four years is one of the major unanswered questions just now.

Armata, speaking of game over! I'm going to have to move my post on the coming crash of the academic industry up on the stack, or I may just be behind events...

Bob, depends on the exact shape of events over the next few decades. The one certainty in world politics is that if you don't prepare for war, you're more likely to get one.

1/19/17, 8:26 PM

Armata said...
This just out: Donald Trump has announced his plans for his first day in office.

Among the top ten things on his list:

— Freeze hiring for the federal government to reduce payrolls, although the military, public safety and public health agencies would be exempt.

— Ban White House and congressional officials from becoming lobbyists for five years after they leave the government.

— Announce plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico or withdraw from the deal.

— Formally withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

— Stop all federal funding to "sanctuary cities," places where local officials don't arrest or detain immigrants living in the country illegally for federal authorities.

1/19/17, 8:34 PM

Ray Wharton said...
I think that it is a perspective from my specific view of the world. In person I ooze philosophical blather and code shift from hill billy roots to sophisticated phenomenological existentialist and back again in a paragraph, and can pull it off with folks from most classes equally well. My friends know me as that guy who rants about learning and philosophy... basically my default relationship with people brings to the front the topic of education and learning and such. So, I assert that the data that I described previously is presented honesty, and believe that it represents a real part of the picture (in Colorado and from my Coastal friends) but this picture is taken with a 'polarized' lens; opinions on education and ideology pop out in my view of the world at the cost of other details.

1/19/17, 8:35 PM

Eric said...
Dear Archdruid, et al,
Thanks for this article, I think it is a good start. I live in the little blue electoral map dot surrounded by a sea of red in northeast Kansas, and I have seen a variety of Trump reactions. They run the gamut of tone and volume that you have described. To say that the divide in our society breaks along class lines is as good a way to address the issue as any, I guess, but to say that class strata correlates with wealth or income is very much an oversimplification. I know working class conservative Republicans who hate Trump so much that they voted for Gary Johnson. I know salary class Democrats who voted for Trump. Many of my friends earn a paltry living that would get them labeled “working class” but they identify as artists or educated creative people like the Portlanders in the comment above, and vote for Democrats mostly. The people I know who are in the solid floor of the manual labor class mostly don't vote. The majority of the successful small business owners that I know voted for Trump, but don't want to talk about it. Nearly everyone at the University voted for Hillary with their nose held, but really wanted Bernie. It is complicated out here.
Perhaps because party politics got even more complicated this year. Donald Trump isn't a Republican. He has donated to the Democrats for years, and the Republican establishment threw everything they could at him trying to stop him. The favorite candidate in the Democratic primary wasn't a Democrat. Nobody was enthusiastic about Hillary in the primaries. Everyone wanted Bernie to win except the people with power in the party. But even those partisans weren't enthusiastic about Hillary.
Anyway, enough election post-mortem, we are all sick of it. I think the important thing to remember is that politics is team sports, and you will never get a Red Sox fan to root for the Yankees. So how to pick your team?
We have two parties who naturally are based on the guiding principle of our nation, which is theft. This nation was begun by the theft of land and labor from the natives. When the locals got wealthy enough they stole the loot from their king so they could have more for themselves.
One of our parties relies upon theft for its wealth and protects its favored thieves, but feels guilt and believes that we need to apologize for theft sometimes when someone catches us at it. There is never any interest in giving up the thieving or the loot. Just act sorry every now and then. This is the party of Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy. We call them Democrats.
The other party believes that theft is morally wrong and must be punished in the strongest way. One of their founding platforms was ending the theft of the labor of enslaved Africans in the South. This is the party of Lincoln, we call them Republicans. Unfortunately, they also rely upon theft and protect the thieves, but since their identity requires a sense of moral purity, they must define their theft as the will of God or Manifest Destiny, or some other pleasant lie that allows rich people to continue stealing the land and wealth of the continent and the world. It is not possible to steal what is already yours, and the Republicans believe that all wealth is rightfully theirs.
So you pick your party. Do you prefer fine moral outrage or the pretense of being a caring person? Pick your party and hate the other one. Quibble about the details of the distribution of the loot.
None of us are interested in giving up the benefits of the founding theft of this nation or the continuing theft that is driving our present lifestyle economy. If anyone tries to say anything about the rot that this whole country is floating in, either ignore them or shout at them. The shouting is a sign that the walls of denial have a crack or two, but all of us are steadily denying the true nature of what we are doing here.
Thanks for listening.

1/19/17, 9:18 PM

Bob said...
John, can't I do both? Can't I lament the failure on multiple levels of the Democratic party and the American Left AND be angry at those who voted in someone who I expect to do irreparable harm to our democracy? You joke about "deplorables," as if the fear my non-white friends are experiencing is irrelevant (and they are not "special snowflakes;" they are working families legitimately afraid for their safety - and, to be clear, they are not afraid of Clinton voters.) I happen to believe that Trump will not improve the employment situation of the poor or working classes AT ALL (at best, we will see a temporary boost that may last until the 2018 elections, but you know much more than I do about bubbles), and that those who believe he will are deluded or, yes, stupid. Clinton would've been a lousy president, but Trump thinks his first work day after the inauguration is Monday. He is, in a word, incompetent. I didn't believe most of what came out of Clinton's mouth during the campaign, as I understand what campaigns are. You seem to embrace much of Trump's rhetoric as honest when it comes to Russia and job creation, but as strategic insincerity when it comes to attacking Mexicans, African Americans, Muslims, and women. Why? Why is he to be believed about caring about working class Americans, but given a pass for everything else? He has had decades to promote an agenda that shows he cares about America, as some other business leaders do, but he has done nothing but promote himself and his children. Why do you believe in him? Why do you excuse his supporters as "disillusioned" and "neglected" when he will throw them under the bus as soon as it benefits him? "Throw the bums out" is never a sensible voting approach, and this year, it will prove to be a highly dangerous one. I have no problem whatsoever with rejecting politics as usual; that is why I voted for Sanders in the primary. But this man openly mocked a journalist with a disability, asked more than once why we have nukes if we don't use them, refused to denounce the KKK, and wants to modify the first amendment, and his voters were okay with all of that. They are willing to sacrifice the environment, the Supreme Court, the Bill of Rights, voting rights, the social safety net, net neutrality, and more, for the PROMISE of more and better jobs from a man who refused to release his tax returns. Forgive me if I don't feel a strong need to reach across the cultural divide and get to know them better. I saw their behavior at his rallies during the campaign, and want to hear their side of the story as much as they want to hear mine.

1/19/17, 9:38 PM

Shane W said...
I have to ask, Dammerung and others, was it really the alt-right that punked the legacy media into reporting on Trump, prostitutes, and golden showers in the Russian hotel presidential suite. I never thought I'd see the day that that would be considered fit for MSM. Truth really is stranger than fiction these days.

1/19/17, 9:54 PM

nuku said...
JMG and others,
I’m interested in that old staple of the America’s vision of itself, “The American Dream” or “unlimited upward mobility“, and how that intersects with the concept of class in America.
I was born in the USA in a family with 4 grandparents who were immigrants. My father worked at a shipyard during WW2 as a draftsman. After the war, he started his own business, and I grew up in a household of increasing middle class affluence. Both my parents had a strong desire that I get a university degree so I could be a “professional” (doctor, lawyer, scientist). It was assumed that anyone with intellectual aptitude would naturally choose such a career over that of a tradesman. It was both a money thing and a status thing, and it seemed to fit in perfectly with the meme of America as the land of unlimited opportunity, where your birth class wasn’t a life sentence.
It was unthinkable that anyone would be content to remain in the working class or even middle class if they could possibly rise out of them through education, hard work, and luck.
Maybe class in America is becoming more fixed in the sense that people don’t have the opportunities for upward mobility they once had in an expanding economy.

1/19/17, 9:59 PM

PunditusMaximus said...
"when the political candidates that she supports and the economic policies from which she profits are largely responsible for his plight."

What keep striking me about these posts, and one can take or leave this, is that as truly unacceptable as the Democrats are, the Republicans are either just as bad for white working people or so much worse.

The place where I keep seeing this most strongly is health care. One reform that legitimately improved the lives of millions (including me) was the Medicare expansion under the ACA. Yet, it was almost struck down by a Republican SCOTUS and dozens of Republican governors refused to implement it out of sheer loathing for their constituents.

The top 10% doesn't profit, exactly, from gottundamerung capitalism. It is true that an African-American female stockbroker massively benefits from social programs, implemented over many years, that allow her to exercise her talents in a way that lets her be more satisfied with her life and enjoy a much higher standard of living than her parents did. But a lot of what the 10% does is run constantly in place, and their working conditions are generally awful. This is one of the deep weirdnessness of life in the 10%.

This is the one area of the blog where I can't go on this journey -- Trump is going to be much worse than Clinton in every area that people were rightfully upset with Clinton about (with the possible exception of the TPP). All the discussion of the "good" Trump Presidency is fantasy, it just is. The man is deeply abusive in both his day-to-day life and his business dealings. He's removed from ordinary people's lives in an even more profound way than HRC was.

Working-class voters have had the opportunity to abandon the Republican Party and its transparent loathing of them for decades to work with the pro-working-class faction in the Democratic Party that has no equivalent in the GOP, and they keep voting their racism. This is a big deal, and it's impossible to understand the learned helplessness of the Dems without it.

1/19/17, 10:11 PM

Joe said...
Joe, tastes in intellectual arrogance differ. If you don't like mine, why are you bothering to read this blog?

I check in from time to time to possibly see more of the brilliance like that found in, say, "The Wealth of Nature". Sorry to say it but, in recent months, that kind of insightful analysis is getting more and more sporadic. I'll check back in a few months when you've gotten all the venom out of your system.

1/19/17, 10:31 PM

Crow Hill said...
JMG: “Patricia O., that makes perfect sense to me. I'm not sure why the contemporary culture of toxic entitlement made so much more of an impact on women than on men, but there it …your average middle- to upper-class white female customer is far more likely than her male equivalent to assume that the entire universe revolves around her and her alone.”

According to these observations, it would seem that women better than men fit the description of Homo economicus (Femina economica here?), one of the basic concepts of neoclassical economic theory which lies at the heart of the “contemporary culture of toxic entitlement”:

He is individualistic. He has insatiable desires. His satisfactions come from the commodities he consumes. He has no ethical values and no concerns for other people’s satisfactions or sufferings unless these can be mediated through some market transaction, like buying a gift etc.

Maybe women are more ruthless in their consumerist urges than are men because they are more targeted than men by publicity/branding that aims at making them feel insecure if they don’t get product X now. Publicity/branding actually promotes the model of Homo economicus as an ideal.

1/19/17, 11:00 PM

John Beasley said...
Dear JMG,

Excellent column as usual, but I wanted to make a couple quick comments. First, as someone else noted above, I also wish you'd used your own class divisions in this piece. I saw your comment above about your good reasons to do so, and thought I would add that when I talk about the wage/salary class divisions to people, they seem to understand it intuitively without me needing to explain it.

On your main point though, you may be interested to hear that last night, here in Chevy Chase, a bunch of LGBT protesters decided to host a loud protest in front of Mike Pence's new house - on a school night in a residential neighborhood! While just about everyone who can stand to live here already agrees with the protesters (if they don't, they know better than to let anyone else know), everyone I talked to agreed that this was over the line.

If I were Pence, I'd seriously consider taking up residence in a Zeppelin or something out of range of protesters, just for some peace and quiet. One thing I'm sure he's not considering as a result of the protest is nice ways to reconcile or compromise with the LGBT community.

1/19/17, 11:07 PM

Crow Hill said...
Unknown: I very much appreciate your reminder of the concept of noblesse oblige.

1/19/17, 11:15 PM

Asher the Basher said...
Thank you, John. I'm a new reader, but your writings help me to make sense of a confusing world.

While off-topic for this week's post, I've also linked below to a recent HSBC report on the state of global oil production that might be of interest to many people here. It paints a stark picture about the realities of oil production in 2016 with a damning long-term forecast.

1/19/17, 11:22 PM

Kevin Warner said...
You talk about hatred towards the wage class but I wonder if at heart what is actually going on is a deep fear of them in play here. Other commentators like Breanna & Myriad have also noted this fear-hate mix. What triggered this idea for me was the reaction to Trump's win by a New York editor that made the rounds several weeks ago that was beyond bizarre ( This man was actually frightened for his safety, especially because he was jewish. At the end of it all he did not blame his fear on his own over-reaction but blamed Trump's voters for it. So, no self-examination needed.

At the moment there seems to be no real focus for those who oppose Trump and all these clumsy attempts to depose a president-elect have all the elegance of a beer hall putsch. The Democrats are still in denial while making a dash for cash and all this crazy talk about how Trump is guilty of treason because Russia stole the election for him is just making America a global laughing stock. One example has become emblematic for me why liberals will always stuff themselves up. A facebook mob was set up called Pantsuit Nation which had some 4 million people sign up. As a focus for an opposition it could have been invaluable. Instead, taking a leaf out of the Clinton playbook it was monetized as a coffee book of stories - "A book of YOU. A book BY YOU. A permanent, beautiful, holdable, snuggle-in-bed-able, dogear-able, shareable, tearstainable book." Gaach!

Sorry guys, but some of the reactions to Trump to me is hilarious as an outsider. The Washington press corps, for example, is in meltdown with demands that everything stay the same as it was and Trump, whose guts they hate, should follow their protocols. When it was announced that they were being moved to a larger room as more alternate media was going to be invited to form part of the press pool they went ballistic ( Personally, I love the sound of breaking rice bowls in the morning - it smells like change.

1/19/17, 11:26 PM

PunditusMaximus said...
Medicaid, rather.

1/20/17, 12:04 AM

John Michael Greer said...
Armata, it'll be interesting to see if he follows through on all of those.

Ray, fair enough.

Eric, I suppose that's one way to think about it. Simplistic, to my mind, but your mileage may vary.

Bob, by all means keep whacking that straw man. I'm sure you'll find it very comforting.

Nuku, I think that's exactly it: the long era of economic expansion that made the American dream possible is over. Young people in the US today by and large make less money and have fewer opportunities for advancement than their parents did -- and that's a huge shift, one that has only begun to shape our collective dialogue.

PunditusMaximus, au contraire, the top 10% profits directly and massively from neoliberal economics. Wages go down but salaries don't, meaning that people who earn salaries pay less for the goods and services they want; furthermore, the less business earnings are paid out in wages, the more can be diverted to the pockets of the affluent. The "learned helplessness of the Democrats" is simply a reflection of the fact that they sold out their ideals in the backwash of the Sixties, and threw the working class under the bus in order to prop up the lifestyles of the affluent.

Joe, that is to say, when my jabs don't hit you in quite so sensitive a spot. Got it.

Crow Hill, good question. All I know is what I've observed, and what people I know in other retail and service industry jobs have mentioned to me.

John, so noted. The post where I introduced the wage class/salary class distinction is the most read post in the history of this blog, with two and a half times as many page views as the next runner-up, so odds are the concept is getting out there -- but I'll see about using it elsewhere as we proceed.

Asher, many thanks for that. If that's correct, we may get the next oil price spike sooner than I expected -- I was figuring 2020 or 2021. If the spikes and crashes start hitting closer and closer together, the economic damage is going to accelerate pretty remorselessly...

Kevin, I saw that article. If the plumber had been black, and the writer had used an equivalent set of stereotypes to justify his terror, you know as well as I do what the media reaction would have been. As for "Pantsuit Nation," I hadn't heard of that. In a bleak sort of way, that's priceless -- can you think of a better emblem of the self-worship (autolatry?) of the people involved. Gaach indeed!

1/20/17, 1:17 AM

Unknown said...

You might find this piece by JOhn Pilger about Obama's presidency and what it leave Trump interesting. It is certainly a stinging rebuke by a very left leaning journalist of the old school.

A sample, but Democrat supporters be warned, you will definitely not find it pleasant or soothing.

"The seedbed is Obama’s Weimar Republic, a landscape of endemic poverty, militarised police and barbaric prisons: the consequence of a “market” extremism which, under his presidency, prompted the transfer of $14 trillion in public money to criminal enterprises in Wall Street.

Perhaps his greatest “legacy” is the co-option and disorientation of any real opposition. Bernie Sanders’ specious “revolution” does not apply. Propaganda is his triumph."


eagle eye

1/20/17, 1:30 AM

Phil Knight said...
Phil, hmm! That's an intriguing analysis, and I'll want to think it over.

I should have added that it's no accident that the two most prominent non-Western national "propaganda" channels are Russia Today and Al-Jazeera. Both Russia and the Gulf Arabs are in a proxy political war for dominant influence in the West, with the "populists" being backed by Russia, and the status quo establishments being heavily backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The level of Qatari investment in the UK is enormous, and its purpose is to keep the UK "onside". Here's an example of what this war looks like:

I should say that personally I don't have a dog in this fight, but it is one of the reasons why the battle between the populists and the neoliberals is so bitter. Many influential Westerners' wealth is reliant on the largesse of the Gulf Arabs, while for the Arabs themselves, their very existence is probably dependent on the outcome of this struggle.

1/20/17, 2:05 AM

Crow Hill said...
pygmicory: “.an in-depth discussion of automation and the likely impacts” Here is a link to an entertaining article about automation:

The author reaches the interesting conclusion that : “if the human population remains the same, and all those humans are still eating and holidaying and so on, then adding a population of robots on top of them certainly does not lead to an overall efficiency…So…when the claim is made that robots will be better overall, ecologically speaking, what the speaker has in mind, either consciously or unconsciously, is a society where robots are not merely replacing human labour; they are replacing some humans altogether.”

JMG, Paulo, Myriad:

Retrotopia in the Alps ? (… well, on the apprenticeship versus academic issue maybe…)

Article: Focus on apprenticeships –
the Swiss system proving a successful export

Extracts from the article that may be of interest re the education/class discussion:

Two thirds of all young Swiss people opt for an apprenticeship over pre-university education spent entirely at a grammar school.

Interestingly, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is a regular critic of the Swiss education system. It complains that the rate of those obtaining entrance qualifications for higher education is the lowest of any European country. While well over 60 % of all young people achieve such qualifications on average in Europe and then go on to enrol at university, the rate only stands at 20 % in Switzerland.

From an historical perspective, the Swiss dual track vocational education and professional training system has been developing for over 200 years – emerging from the guild system that put great emphasis on and took pride in craftsmanship. Artisans’ professions shaped their identity and ensured social status. That continues to apply today.

But the success of training is heavily dependent upon its prestige. Whereas Swiss apprentices proudly point to the education pathways open to them, there are often huge reservations about application- led training in the destination countries of the “educational export”. Trades are often seen as having a lower status and offering few prospects. In 2015, the USA signed an agreement with Switzerland on vocational training.

1/20/17, 3:10 AM

Scotlyn said...
@Dammerung - I don' know any other way to find out what I want to know than not to hold back on the question that's at the tip of my tongue. And it is this:

When you posted "Hitler did nothing wrong" was it *only* for the KEKs? Or do you believe it is true? Or do you have a reason to want others to believe it is true even if you don't?

And if you do give this question your considered attention, I will thank you. I can't think of any other forum where I could even ask that question and have a hope of getting a reasoned answer.

Best, Scotlyn

1/20/17, 3:32 AM

Scotlyn said...
@JMG such a lot of comments in the 48 hours I've been mulling my response to your post. I thank you for it. I feel one of the "left behind left" just now, and class (well, wealth pumps of every hue) covers much of what I want to focus on and I appreciate your treatment of it. Like yourself, I also do not appreciate the kind of discourse that backs everyone into corners they cannot emerge from without fighting and annihilating the other.

You have defined bigotry as follows:
"We can define bigotry as the act of believing hateful things about all the members of a given category of people, just because they belong to that category."

It strikes me that "the act of believing... things about all the members of a given category of people, just because they belong to that category" defines how the human mind works - we create low- resolution categories into which we can fit a lot of random incoming information that we are not ready to closely examine just now, and as we make mental maps of the world and its features and terrain, our minds are full of such low-resolution boxes in which whole swathes of people may appear in a short hand such as "Aussies - stubbies, Crocodile Dundee, Ned Kelly, koalas". "Yanks - loud voices, chew gum, clueless" Or, as one of my own early, evangelically formed low-res category boxes would have unpacked, "Catholics - candles and incense, idols in church, weirdly obsessed with wombs". (This was before the evangelicals became weirdly obsessed with wombs, too).

Ideally, at some point we get the opportunity to focus on the contents of such a category box and repack it with higher resolution and more accurate detail - in my case by dint of long living in countries with high populations of Catholics and running up against hundreds of examples of complex and unique individual Catholics and getting a better sense of what they are about, both jointly and severally.

However, given that we can't ever have the chance to unpack all our low-res category boxes in that way, and given that some of the stuff packed in there at any given time could be described as "hateful", under the terms of your definition it's a pretty sound bet that any one of us could be called a bigot about somebody at any given time.

The thing is that the prejudices others hold about me cannot hurt me at all, provided (and this is a biggie), they themselves have no power to hurt me. What turns racial bigotry (which can go two ways) into a system of racial oppression, or class bigotry (which can go two ways) into a system of class oppression (also known as a wealth pump), is the power that helps you ensure that the other class of people must give way to yours on any of a number of contested grounds - living space, means of production, access to extractable resources, access to education and opportunities, access to decent wages, the terms of discourse, morals, meaning, etc, etc, etc.

Coupled with that power, any background bigotry can become the ideological justification of why it is just and good that "they" should cede to "you" and that "you" may leverage "their" effort to your benefit and pass "your" cost off onto "them" in a disproportionate manner.

It is the disproportion in the relations of exchange between two groups that power alone can create, and this is why, although it is true poor people may hold as bigoted a view of what rich people are like as vice versa, poor people are unable to leverage their prejudice into a class advantage, and money and resources therefore flow away from poor people and towards rich people.

That is why addressing bigotry or prejudice alone are insufficient to halt the operation of a system of oppression. Bigotry can be found everywhere that the human mind is busy working as a human mind does, but most of the time is completely impotent, and therefore of no consequence to anyone but the holder of the bigotry (who may be missing out thereby).

1/20/17, 4:16 AM

Nestorian said...

OK, but if election fraud is indeed endemic to the system (an assertion I tend to agree with, by the way), then why bother voting at all?

Under such circumstances, it seems like an act that is worse than useless, since there is a decided element of self-abasement in willingly participating as an easy mark in a confidence game that involves being made an object of manipulation and contempt by those who orchestrate the frauds.

1/20/17, 4:18 AM

Doc Tim said...

While your premise that much of the divide is class warfare has a lot of merit, I think your secondary case that this is primarily tied to money is somewhere between off the mark and oversimplified. I'd argue that as much a part as money is formal education and what we often refer to with a broad brush as "intellectualism". I'm hesitant to use the word intelligence as I've met many highly intelligent people with limited formal education as well as those with doctorates who were less than impressive. While academia comes with its own baggage of questionable things in its narrative, there are clear correlations with understanding in the scientific process and belief in various superstitions and formal education although it is not as strong as many would think. I've seen the studies that argue that the highest predictor for Trump support was an authoritarian view on life.

As one in the pro-education camp, I'll admit upon self reflection that I have biases against Trump voter. The strawman that forms in my head though when I think of one isn't that of someone who is poor (as I know many highly educated folks who are not very wealthy such as those with advanced degrees in literature) but one who is anti science and holds a variety of odd superstitions (think climate change, Pizzagate, the Obama birther controversy, etc.). The counter strawman to this argument is that of Hillary supporters being out of reality eggheads who don't understand the real world. Surely as you often note, there is plenty of room for the excluded middle here, but I'd argue that this is more of a factor than purely the amount of money one makes. Surely there is a correlation with education and salary/wealth, but I'll argue that the the view of formal education and science are a better indicator of divides.

1/20/17, 4:21 AM

Bob said...
John: straight, white males in this country (like you and me) have a long and storied history of minimizing and looking the other way when marginalized groups are getting screwed. Yes, poor and working class white Americans are marginalized, but you seem to want to downplay or ignore the role that xenophobia, racism, sexism, and religious bigotry played in this election, arguing that if people say they voted based on the jobs issue, then that's good enough for you. You know more about cognitive bias than I do, but seem to be focussing your awareness on the affluent left, as if poor and working class white Americans are immune to self-delusion, and are the only rational voters in the electorate. Time will tell how emboldened White Nationalists become over the next four years, and how much Trump plays to them in his desire for re-election, but your tacit acceptance of that group - by acknowledging them only in passing in your essays, and occasionally chumming up to them in the comments section - is, frankly, not a good look. I don't know much about Burkean Conservatism, but I assume inciting violence at political speeches is not part of the philosophical framework.

1/20/17, 4:37 AM

David, by the lake said...

In terms of anacyclosis and the patterns from our previous rounds, would you then parallel Obama with Buchanan and Hoover, respectively?

It is going to be interesting, without doubt.

1/20/17, 5:12 AM

Mister Roboto said...
Every worker deserves our respect. All work is worthy. Some, is just more honest than others.

This line from a commenter really hit home for me. I work for a grocery-store chain that has a penchant for hiring really, really bad managers (which is just one reason young people in the urban county in which I live are taking their grocery business to other stores). Seriously, a good many of these brain-dead screw-ups would be either starving to death or wards of the state in most other countries in the world. But throughout our society, the socio-economic tyranny of the salary class gives these people relatively well-paying jobs with benefits while people who are genuinely talented, valuable, and useful are in such dire straits financially that they are rolling the dice with a personality-disordered charlatan such as Donald Trump. Every day I ask myself how did we go so very wrong? The reason I read your blog is you provide much more credible answers to that question than anybody else on the Internet, at least of whom I know.

1/20/17, 5:21 AM

Bill Pulliam said...
The average Trump voter was middle income and suburban, So how is this a class thing? I think you may be stretching the narrative to fit your hypotheses

1/20/17, 5:22 AM

Bill Pulliam said...
P.s. I have no argument that the downwards class bigotry is very real and have been talking about it myself for many decades. But I don't think that is the real story underlying Trump

1/20/17, 5:24 AM

NZ said...
Enjoyed the post very much. Thanks.
One thing I am noticing more is the forced duality in everyone's thinking. When discussing political matters with my co-workers, inevitably, any positive statement about possible Trump policies is attacked, not on the merits of the policy, but as a statement of belief. Trump=Bad. Breaking through this conditioning in maddening, but a positive exercise in patients building. The same can be said for trying to discuss the failures of the left- you are immediately branded as a right wing ignoramus. This line of attack only makes me feel sad though. In less stressful moments, it can become humorous in a tragic sort of way. The same tactic is also exploited by the right. Liberal=Bad. Thus leading to unthinking support for endless war and unchecked corporate greed. This duality and polarized thinking only leads to negative outcomes, but individuals are too heavily invested in the status quo and seem unconcerned about coming to a compromise position.

As your post illuminates, class consciousness, in all its forms, is key to getting things done in society. It's difficult wading through all the hubris and hypocrisy though. What should be first and foremost in everyones mind thought is to prevent outward violent class warfare. This is where we are headed. The shrillness of the left can almost be ignored as the truly militant, and violence capable factions have been eliminated, or are recognized and quickly dealt with. Trump must deliver relief for the working class though, or the formation of violent groups to achieve political ends will most certainly form.

I would also agree that if Trump succeeds in lowering tensions with Russia and reduces nuclear arms, his presidency should be
viewed positively. No sane person could object to those goals. However, the underlying class tensions will remain and only increase- the positive will be to gain more time to work out a solution instead of blowing ourselves to pieces.

1/20/17, 5:46 AM

Patricia Mathews said...
The "Pantsuit Nation" book and blog --- are you sure that isn't a crude parody put out by someone who honestly sees us as "the precious little dears" he thinks infests the female left? Or Mad Magazine? (Too crude for The Onion.)This is marketing to Da Littul Woman with a vengeance, and the editors of a 1960 written-by-the-advertising-department women's magazine would gag at that sales pitch as OTT, even for their view of Little Jenny Housewifey.

You can't make this stuff up, I swear.

1/20/17, 6:04 AM

Owen said...
Re: academic bubble

If'n I had to advise a youngun in this era, I'd tell them don't bother going to college, unless it's clear from your incarnational karma that you were destined to be college material in the first place. And even then I'd say think about it very carefully, especially if it puts you in debt.

In this era, just stay out of debt. That's all you need to do. Stay out of debt and you win. In fact, I'd take that one step further and also advise a youngun - stay away from banks. Go "Mexican" and go unbanked. With the stupid immigration policy of this godforsaken country, they've made it very easy to get by without needing a bank account.

1/20/17, 6:25 AM

redoak said...
JMG, Agreed with your comment to Armata regarding the accelerating troubles in higher education. I've been a beneficiary of this system for 20 years. That it is so pleasant a life is evidence enough that it cannot last. That said, the spending these institutions do from beer and pizza to massive construction projects is pretty unbelievable and essential to many forms of "business as usual." As this spending continues to tighten up, either by fiscal constraint or the inevitable realization that for most students a BA is not worth $100K in debt, the knock off consequences are potentially pretty significant. (For that matter, I'd suggest the same about the eventual unraveling of "big Med.")
I think a post on this topic would initiate a very cool series of responses from your many readers in the "soon to be abandoned" front lines of higher ed.
On a personal note, yes, I've been diligently attending to my post-salary future building community, skills, and cultivating a modest hill farm. Many thanks to your work and steady encouragement to face this future with eyes open.

1/20/17, 6:45 AM

Bob said...
The one certainty in world politics is that if you don't prepare for war, you're more likely to get one.

Why then is the US of A involved in so many wars?
One definition of a defensive war is one fought on your own territory. None of the wars America is involved in is taking place in your homeland.

Taxpayers should be skeptical of wasting resources on the military. I believe that sentiment is prevalent in Canada. I hope that Europeans will consider the opportunity cost and resist calls to militarize.

p.s. Most likely invaders of Canada? Yankees!

1/20/17, 7:05 AM

Ray Wharton said...
Personally one of the frustrations at this time is that I really want there to be a solid opposition to Trump. Even if his suggested breaks from the Beltway consensus make sense to me, I know that the alternatives that emerge will be ripe for corruption. I want there to be an opposition wing in government which can guide and force compromises, and give a stern looking over to the systems implemented to replace the old system. The most frustrating part of this is that I know there are a lot of folks with the capacity to respond critically but openly with Trump, and they are as of yet drowned out of the conversation by chicken littleism and wolf crying.

Considering interests I get the strong anti-Trump reaction in one way. The policies that are currently being suggested would in a very real way be opposed to millions of American's interests. The folks who were on the winning side of the ACA wealth transfer, those who benefit from cheap labor, and so on could face a abrupt slide in their wealth. Having been raised in a community which was left to die by the Globalists I don't have a great deal of sympathy with them... but then again I do, because its tough to be on the loosing side of a power swing. It is brutal actually, especially if you are an unfortunate creature which long ago forgot that you could lose, a true believer in an ideology which justified ones position is horrified by the crushing of that ideology by facts. In the horror they see Trump, and they see the imps that underlie ideology in the same glance and associate them.

Expounding my ideology of the head space of others is starting to feel sticky.

Still the rise of Trump is a real and practical lose for many... and hopefully more can be done to rebuild from that lose by those who aren't crippled by the emotional impact. I have no idea how it might affect me; but since I have spent 8 years emotionally prepping for the mortality of Western Civilization, and already had the view that the Globalist consensus was certainly lethal, I don't feel the too common panic. The time to panic (and in time get over it) was decades back!

1/20/17, 7:52 AM

anton mett said...
JMG, first off, thank you for your thoughtful reply. Your answer is consistent with what you've written in your earlier posts, and I apologize if it came across as I was accusing you personally. I think you've done a good job of stating your expectations and reflecting on them later, in your yearly predictions for example.
I've not seen or heard a hard list of expectations from any of the analysts or acquaintance until I specifically ask for it, so my previous question was directed at our culture not at you specifically (though again thank you for your answer). If I may ask a follow up, I'd be interested to hear your theory on why is this practice of prediction and reflection so rare? Why do we not demand it?

1/20/17, 7:52 AM

Tidlösa said...
I suspect that the Kekists, Kekites or whatever is the correct term for Pepe´s Foul Minions won´t understand the class aspect of the situation, since they are themselves middle class!

As for the New Left, and what´s left of the Old Left, I always considered U.S. leftists slightly surrealistic. They talk about "the most oppressed" also being "the most revolutionary", and then go off to a university campus to recruit?! Judging by their racial make-up, most of them are still White! But sure, perhaps things have changed. Maybe today they also recruit privileged Blacks and Latinas...

BTW, the bizarre anti-Trumpista hatred just got worse, now CNN discusses what would happen if Trump is assassinated (under the deceptive headline "Developing Now"), and people on Twitter "joke" about an assassination. Let´s hope the chickens never come home to roost!

Of course, the best US president would be as tough as Trump and as progressive as Sanders.A bit like Bull Moose bully boy Teddy Roosevelt? :D

1/20/17, 7:53 AM

Kittric Guest said...
Great food for thought as always. On another level, I find it rather funny that didn't put this post on their website this week (they are pretty good about quickly linking all your blog posts).
Just goes to show, no one is above a little censorship of ideas. I wonder how many of their readers (me included) will be turned off by this?

1/20/17, 8:00 AM

latefall said...
Re Le Pen etc. @armata, jmg, lordberia

I found lordberia's predictions reasonable on the whole. From a gut feeling I'd go a little longer on Wilders, shorter on Le Pen. I can't claim special insight, but it appears enough of the Moroccan community (and Erdoganists) in the Netherlands are managing to make themselves unpopular enough for it. Among other factors, in contrast to France there is much less in terms of historical failings of their hosts to point to. The Dutch seem to keep enough numbers to have a debate on this, and I think that there may be enough liberals who think a different approach to the problem is more advisable.

Le Pen I'd say is definitely in the cards, but can be a pretty complex game before they are all on the table. The fault lines in French society do not run too similar to the ones in Anglo countries. For example very many voters want to see geopolitical independence from the Anglo bloc (she claims NOT to be an Atlanticist). So much so that it is possible that Trump & May could block that development.
At the same time I don't see her as isolationist (e.g. when she defended the Harkis in France, or the pushes for Francophonie in Africa, being a Zionist, etc). I'm sure (military) involvement will look a little different though.
Lavish social systems are a specialty of France, and so far I've seen less overt indications to do something there from FN than from most other parties - because that is really a point that costs votes in many demographics, very much including FN's. This brings me to:

"Western Europe has been able to fund a variety of lavish welfare state programs because the US has covered the cost of Europe's defense*"

At the same time France spends a higher fraction of GDP than Britain on defense, has a much higher gov spending than China (how is that for neoliberal?), and is neither particularly threatened (remember the elite wanted to sell carriers to Russia - guess who called that off), nor shy about using their expeditionary oriented force.

With regard to Scandinavian countries there is an interesting discussion to be had about well intended advice from the USA. Suffice to say that the Finns are direct neighbors of Russia, not in NATO, and their highest spending (1.9%) was actually when the USSR was in collapse (perhaps an important point?).

Re central Europe I'd want to point out the main contribution to German security by the US was nuclear warheads that were intended to be dropped on German cities and the countryside by the US, Brits and partially the Germans themselves (see the tactical nukes).
Of course there were prepo conventional forces as well, but those were not with the scale or intent to secure Germany. Now the crumple zone finally moved east one set of borders and German society is really not thrilled about bringing it back.

Germany had conscription from 1956 to 2011! (which may make the numbers look low)
Most of spending post 2001 (in the West as a whole) was decidedly ill advised and Germany does not view the military as a "EDC multitool", but a more like a "safety harness". And if you're concerned with Russia I'd start looking around Rambouillet, or the British Russian expat community really.

1/20/17, 8:05 AM

latefall said...

Currently spending really is pretty low, but already on the up-tick. But I would argue the ones who should be looking over their shoulders most are Russia's direct neighbors.
If you look at EU money transfer into that region - there is your spending on security (or defense if they decide to spend it that way).

That is the foremost point of the EU from a continental perspective. It won't help Estonia to ramp up their defense spending to 50%. A functional European defense will (EU or not, 0.5% spending or 2.5% isn't even an issue if focused on territorial protection). Germany is hardly is not exactly standing in the way of a defense integration, nor does it want to outspend others and mandate their view on everyone.

If you want to talk numbers:

*A lot of AfD people would call it more loyalty than defense. Those US installations also cut down mission costs significantly, and allowed (industrial) espionage to operate much better (

I am happy to argue these points but I may need a bit to come back to you.

1/20/17, 8:08 AM

Dammerung said...
Shane W, so it would seem. A 4channer claiming to be the originator of the document posted a couple other excerpts. He says he's in talks with a publisher and a lawyer, and I hope he, like I do, keeps a loaded pistol on his nightstand. Playing practical jokes on the CIA is a pretty dicey game and this isn't the only one we've pulled off recently (anonymous also spoiled a CIA plot to frame Assange as a pedophile a couple months ago.)

If the 4/pol/ack is to be believed, the originating document is full of chanspeak about tendies and waifus, so it's hard to believe how anyone was stupid enough to fall for it. Maybe they just excised the bits they thought were plausible to run with. Maybe Trump's friends in military intelligence set the CIA up and made 4chan the untouchable patsy - what are you going to do, hunt down a bunch of "harmless" idiots who spend half their time arguing whether Rei or Asuka is the better grill? But that's just the thing! SEC whistleblowers dump gigabytes of dox on /pol/ when their superiors bury them under the rug. The FBI stops by occasionally, and suggests things we might want to dig into. A hobby imageboard that started because Something Awful goons banned you for animeposting has somehow become a major player in global politics, and none of us are quite sure how it happened, either.

1/20/17, 8:14 AM

mh505 said...

Thanks much for your response, JMG !

I was actually alluding to the fate of JFK; which - if PCR is even remotely to be believed - may well happen to Trump as well.

1/20/17, 8:52 AM

RAnderson said...
JMG: a link to King's famous Riverside speech, probably one of his greatest and most prescient:

1/20/17, 8:52 AM

Emmanuel Goldstein said...
A Double Dactyl, While Watching the Inauguration

He has ascended, who wears the red tie and hat,
Is he a lead(or mis-lead)er of all?
He was elected by
Onward we must,
Though we rise, or we fall...

1/20/17, 8:59 AM

David, by the lake said...
Watching the inaugural address. Holy crap. Full-bore populist. I've only witnessed a few inaugual addresses, but I cannot recall one like this, even remotely.

1/20/17, 9:10 AM

James M. Jensen II said...
My work schedule kept me from seeing the swearing-in of President Trump but I caught the last part of his inaugural address and the closing prayers this morning.

The talking heads were saying how divisive the address was but the only part that I heard that wasn't about unity and solidarity were the jabs at the establishment. Perhaps if I get a chance to watch the whole thing I'll see what they were talking about (or perhaps not).

I quite appreciated the three closing prayers, the first by a Rabbi calling for harmony and justice, the last by a black minister quoting Mahalia Jackson, with Franklin Graham shooting off his big mouth for just a bit in the middle. The Rabbi especially was such a great middle finger to the alt-right.

1/20/17, 9:55 AM

Seth said...
Class vs race/identity is key. Class issues are continually being ducked by offering distracting identity issues or other hot-buttons (eg abortion, prayer in schools, etc.).

If you look closely, there's a continuity between Romney and Trump. Romney made his money by stealing workers' retirement funds. It was all done legally and Romney always made an effort to be very upper class about everything. Trump made his money by stealing from various investors, partners, suppliers, and many unwitting customers. But he kept a showy style that always came across as working class -- "blue collar billionaire" indeed.

Middle America found Romney snooty and off-putting, but thought Trump was worth a try. Now we'll see if hiring a con man to improve the lot of American workers actually does the trick. I'm skeptical, not least because his cabinet are pretty much the usual Republican crowd of not-exactly-working-class people. But one must hope for the best ;)

1/20/17, 10:12 AM

latefall said...

Similar sentiment here.


"Had the election last November gone the other way, for example, we can be quite certain that _all_ the people who are ranting about Donald Trump’s appointment of Goldman Sachs employees to various federal offices would be busy explaining how reasonable it was for Hillary Clinton to do exactly the same thing—as of course she would have."

That looks to me like a false binary.


Thanks for your perspective - sounds reasonable, but Colorado is a bit of an outlier (to a smaller degree than Boulder to be sure) in the US isn't it?

1/20/17, 10:14 AM

anton mett said...
"Most of the things Trump campaigned on are already being thrown out: build a wall, lock her up, repeal and replace (Obamacare), drain the swamp, etc."
onething said...
I've seen a lot of commentary in this vein around the web, and while it appears quite possibly true, my question is, in that case why is nearly every one among our rulers so against him?

I'm not sure I understand your question. By "our rulers" whom do you mean? Trump is taking the single most important political position in our government, so I say he's "our ruler". Do you mean the Senate, Congress, and Governors? If so, the majority of them have put up very little fuss over his cabinet picks thus far, and give the impression that they'll be going along with everything he'd like. Perhaps they should be "against him" for going back on almost everything he and his party campaigned on, but they do not seem to be.
Do you mean the Democrats or the media? If so, I guess I still don't understand your question. He promised during the campaign to do a bunch of things that are the opposite of what they value. Just because he doesn't seem capable or interested in following through doesn't let him off the hook.

wolf:"I'd like to break into your house and eat your babies"
piggy:"I find that upsetting and do not like you very much"
wolf:"well considering you just hired a bunch of armed guards, I guess I was just kidding"
piggy:"I don't feel I can trust you"
wolf:"oh my gosh, that was like 5 minutes ago, don't be so sensitive"

That's just a little fun, but I'm genuinely interested in understanding your question better.

1/20/17, 10:43 AM

Brian said...
Sure, Hillary couldn't hide the fact that she has been bought and paid for by Wall Street, and sure, beaten-down wage-earners are very tired of being spat upon by arrogant liberals, salaried and otherwise.

But Donald Trump is a very strange working class hero. His promises to bring back manufacturing jobs will fail. Slapping tariffs on imported products will only make them more expensive for the poor, and trying to force the dollar down and the yuan up will only make the Chinese richer - just as doing the same against Japan in the 80s made the Japanese richer.

We might get a bit of real, positive change if the Trump administration wages less war than its predecessors, but I'm not particularly hopeful. It's just as likely that they'll end up waging war because of blundering stupidity instead of Machiavellian shrewdness. And whether or not bombs are being dropped, Trump can't shut down the war economy without throwing even more patriots out of work.

What will the downtrodden working classes think when they realize their hero's given the biggest tax breaks ever to the ultra-wealthy and taken away Obama's noble but pathetic attempt at providing them with universal health care?

This isn't going to end well.

1/20/17, 10:45 AM

Patricia Mathews said...
Historian David Kaiser analyzed Trump's personality and temperament in terms of former world leaders. His conclusion: "Kaiser Willie."

BTW, I have also been interested in matters of temperament for some time, and think both Hillary and Obama had precisely the wrong temperament for our times. THis is merely personality, not policies, intelligence, honesty, nor even sanity - just temperament.

Hillary is a bureaucrat/CEO type - in personality terms, if you grew up on the Peanuts cartoons, think Lucy Van Pelt - who would have done well in the late 1990s. It also occurred to me this morning that some of the votes for her were less idolatry than the sort of "magical" thinking which says "if we vote for a BAU president, we can hold back the onrushing tide of the crisis climax we (rightly) fear so much." I hate to insult a famous Danish King of England so, but call it the King Canute Complex.

Obama, OTH, in my opinion, would have made a perfect Eisenhower-type post-Crisis president, steering the ship safely into port after another captain brought it safely through the hurricane. Come to think of it, Truman did precisely that as well.

And I tuned in NPR too late to catch the inaugural address, and got, instead, a lot of opinion, speculation, and the sort of commentary one can't even call analysis, with heavy overtones of "How will we cope with this and get him to do what we want?" Including Al Gore on "maybe he'll come to his senses about climate change." I found myself thinking that, as you said, Trump not only does not give a rat's rear end about what the people who do commentary for NPR want; he would delight in flouting them.I am shaking my head --- useless. Less than useless. Ads the late Robert Heinlein put it, "puppies yapping in a basket."

1/20/17, 10:56 AM

latefall said...
@Mike, Prof Pan

From an outside perspective (US-German, in France) I feel your uneasiness as well. However, I would not say this is wholly unprecedented - George W Bush looked a lot like Trump from the outside.

Dubya was probably a similar distance from the "baseline presidential aptitude level" as Trump appears to be from the current. His advisors and much of PNAC are perhaps comparable as well. I fear that if Trump does to the US domestically what Dubya did for the US on the international stage then you are in for some critical damage.

Perhaps to the degree that the de Maistre quip will be uttered in its original language more often than in English: "Toute nation a le gouvernement qu'elle mérite." ("Every nation gets the government it deserves." which is not necessarily something I agree with by the way).

I'd say it would probably not hurt to start shopping around for other ways of running a society in case this preliminary experiment comes to a conclusion.

1/20/17, 11:11 AM

Donald Hargraves said...
A word for everyone sounding warnings about how Trump's going to turn the United States into a satanic hell where the lower 98% beg for the wealthy to enslave them, promising them (an ever paltry) everything they can for the sake of a slice of (soot encrusted, poison-flavored) pizza a day with their water-tainted liquid lead:

Yeah, I get it, given the fact that Trump is putting businessmen into the various offices instead of the usual suspects. And with the 1,000 seats (just the federal and state offices, with plenty more in the local level not yet noted) that have been shifted from Democratic to Republican control, it looks like Trump is ready to sign laws that define women solely as sex objects and breeding stock just AFTER signing a version of the TPP set up to place the USA under the economic rule of China, all the while handing Europe to the Russians so that the US military can turn the drones and (rural poor, may I add) trained killers to the task of bombing and destroying our own cities, all the while setting up the court system so that it doesn't become Conservative or merely vicious, but Vengefully Corporatist until the time comes to hand power over to China (as they have the money to pay off Trump's Debts, of course...).

But the Democrats as the heroes of the working class? The party that deregulated Trucking and the Airlines in the late seventies (PATCO wouldn't have supported Reagan had they not seen what was happening in the Airline industry, thanks to Carter and the Democrats in office back then)? And when they had the chance to do something about it in the '90s, Clinton proceeded to do everything in his power to hand the nation to the strong and powerful – WITH BIPARTISAN SUPPORT (i.e. The Democrats Rolling Over)! NAFTA, GATT, China as Most Favored Nation status, The Telecommunications act of 1996, Welfare Reform, the Revocation of Glass-Stegel, and probably quite a few others I haven't remembered yet – all instituted so as to remove protections that helped local markets and hand power over to the powerful. This has been going on for forty plus years plus – Check out this article if you want some more details.

So if you want me to believe that the Democratic Party is indeed the Party of ALL Workers and ALL the lower classes, act like it. Fight Republicans (even when it's quixotic) and support workers when you get back in power. Until you figure that out, you'll just keep losing seats as people become more desperate (and yes, Trump was a beneficiary of desperation).

1/20/17, 11:34 AM

RUKidding said...
I'm on the fence re Trump and not feeling sanguine that he'll do much, if any, "good" for our nation. His cabinet choices are really off the charts, including many from the Goldman Sachs contingent that Trump so resoundingly disparaged and mocked that this is what you'd get with Clinton. Why is OK if Trump does the exact same thing that he said was wrong? On top of which is the ship of fools like Rick Perry who wanted to close down the DOE (which he couldn't remember the name of and knew nothing of what it does) but now is all keen and eager to run it. Yeah, right. That's not even getting to Ben Carson and a mega-super carpet bagger like DeVos who only wants to suck the life & money out of public education in order to enrich her Amway Pyramid scheme butt.

I like what you said, Mr. Greer, about the class issues in the USA and the fear of being working class (not exactly what you said, but that's the drift). I completely agree about how the Democratic party is totally out to lunch, off the rails and is completely worthless and beyond contemptible. Clinton very publically chose to go after the votes of rich white Republicans, while refusing to LOWER herself to campaign in working class areas of WI, MI and PA, and guess what? She lost... bigly. My loathing of the Clintons knows no bounds, and I am not sorry that they are gone from the political stage hopefully forever (and no third acts from Chelsea, please).

I don't have the optimism that you seem to have, JMG, that Trump is going to be good for the USA. I do hope I'm wrong, and certainly some of his ideas/policies are worth pursuit, such as either dispensing NATO or making Europe pay their fair share, for one example. However, I have friends who come from a range of African nations (now naturalized citizens), who echo my fears that who Trump most readily resembles is not Hitler, but some long-time plundering African dictator, ala Robert Mugabe. Trump's cabinet picks emphasize this for me, as they are clearly there to rob and plunder. Trump is STILL talking about his worthless wall, which, if somehow that useless monstrosity comes into being, will be solely about Trump (and maybe some of his cronies) making money hand over fist - off the backs of his supporters and foes alike... all while the rest of our infrastructure crumbles and falls to bits.

I am currently re-watching Michael Apted's UP series of films (google it), which follows the lives of a group of British kids from the age of 7, revisiting some of them every 7 years (up to the age of 56 now). There's a lot of discussion and highlighting of class differences amongst those in this series. Several of the children come from upper class backgrounds, where they attended the best of private schools up through Oxbridge and most went on to professional high paying careers.

What was most striking was that most of those of the upper class commented often throughout the series that they recognized that there was inherent unfairness in terms of them being born into a wealthier family and have certain privileges. However, they all commented about needing to give back to their country and other citizens because they HAD enjoyed privileges the other kids didn't.

Can you imagine rich, privileged Americans saying that? We've been trained and brainwashed by our Oligarch overlords to hate and despise the poor, hold them in contempt and view them as deserving of their fate because surely they must be lazy and disgusting.

Sad thing how things have turned out here in the USA. And no wonder there's such classism going on here... everyone is worried that they might fall off the gravy train and end a worthless working class (or worse) slob whom everyone else will hate and feel disgust for.

1/20/17, 11:36 AM

Ed-M said...
Hi, JMG!

Excellent post on the mass psychological meltdown by the mainstream PC/Left -Liberal/Progressive side of the political spectrum. I have to put up every day with their antics everytime I go on Facecrack! (Today I posted two items there that'll really make 'em flip!)

But I have to agree somewhat with Jbarber, in that you come off in this post as disdaining and criticizing the American left, because it is clear you said squat (or not very much if you did say something) about the mainstream pseudoconservatives who were also freaking out about Russia "hacking" the election in favor of Donald Trump, the most visible and hysterical examples being Senators John "Bad Temper" McCain and Lindsey "Light in the Loafers" Graham.

1/20/17, 11:51 AM

M Smith said...

I was going to reply to you anyway when I saw what JMG had said: "JacGolf, remember that most people -- no matter what identity category they do or don't belong to -- take on the identities their culture assigns to them. It takes an unusual degree of self-awareness and self-knowledge to create an identity for oneself."

You said in your post that you were one of the lucky ones, in that you got a job at a commercial bank. OK, you might have been "lucky" to find a job opening when you needed a job. But most of it, IMO, is your self-discipline and focus. You're 29 now, if my math is right, and you have no children. That gave you an edge in not becoming impoverished, and probably in getting the job over some woman with 3 kids, who has alienated her family and has no friends so has to seek paid day care, but has no money for decent day care so will be calling in sick/late a lot. Don't sell yourself short. You deserve a lot of credit.

1/20/17, 11:54 AM

M Smith said...

I'm stealing "instant spray-on tar and feathers" and "spaztika."

And oh yeah, we've got one on our local news site who's always deflecting the bad things his beloved minorities do with the excuses of "raising awareness" and "conversation", and above all, the "systematic racism" for which "we" "must" do penance.

Not coincidentally, he often browbeats others demanding to know whether they "caaaaaaaare" if that phenomenon were anything more than a certain sequence of fired synapses which improves the life of exactly no one.

1/20/17, 12:05 PM

Esn said...
@Phil Knight & JMG:
The US asks the Saudis to sell their oil exclusively in US dollars to keep the dollar's status as the world reserve currency, which allows the US to endlessly run up its debt because they can control the interest rate at which it's paid back to creditors (making it de facto not really "debt" but "tribute"). In return, the US supports everything the Saudis do. That's been the deal since the 1970s, after the dollar was removed from the gold standard:

It is indeed a bit odd that the enormous importance of this alliance remains largely unrecognized by the American public, because it is central to the entire American way of life, and it explains a good deal of the wars the US has launched, such as against Iraq (Hussein was planning to sell oil in euros) and Libya (Gaddafi was planning to sell oil in a new pan-African gold-backed currency).

Would Russia be able or willing to replace or join Saudi Arabia in that role? Maybe the US hope is that they might if they become unable to protect themselves, which may be one of the reasons that US nuclear primacy is being developed.

@JMG: "withdraw the missile shield installations to our side of the pond"

Although that would terrify Poland, it would still mean that the US could launch a nuclear strike without having to worry about Russia's nuclear response hitting anything in the US.

An interesting section of Putin's recent year-end press conference was his answer to a question that the Wall Street Journal posed about Trump's tweet about modernizing nuclear weapons. This part of Putin's answer seems to not have been widely translated into English:

Putin: "In 2001 [sic: it was actually 2002], the US unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. This treaty was, without question, the cornerstone of the entire system of international security. At that time, we were told: "We're not doing this against you, so you can..." To which I said: "We'll have to react somehow, and will need to improve our strike systems so they can overcome the missile defense systems". We were told in reply: "You do what you want, our position is that it's not against us." And so we're doing exactly that. Many prefer not to notice it, but we're simply doing exactly that to which we seem to have mutually agreed, by default, without signing any papers."
(he says it 40 minutes into the video: )

And so while the US has been building the missile shield, Russia has been upgrading their missiles and developing plans for alternative responses: bombarding the oceans to create tsunamis, making the Yellowstone caldera erupt, etc. All pretty scary stuff. I wish there was actual public policy debate about these things.

1/20/17, 12:39 PM

None said...
"Listen and you can hear the sneering “elite” liberal left narrative about how the big dumb white working class is about to get screwed over by the incoming multi-millionaire- and billionaire-laden Trump administration it voted into office. Once those poor saps in the white working class wake up to their moronic mistake, the narrative suggests, they’ll come running back to their supposed friends the Democrats.
It’s true, of course, that Trump is going to betray white working class people who voted for him in the hope that he would be a populist champion of their interests – a hope he mendaciously cultivated. But there are three basic and related problems with the scornful liberal-left storyline. The first difficulty is that the notion of a big white proletarian “rustbelt rebellion” for Trump has been badly oversold. “The real story of the 2016 election,” the left political scientist Anthony DiMaggio notes, “is not that Trump won over working class America, so much as Clinton and the Democrats lost it"

From Paul Street at Counterpunch...

I used to be a democrat. I quit them back in the 90's. I didn't vote for The Clown or The Witch - just to be clear.

1/20/17, 12:58 PM

temporaryreality (Wendy) said...
I'm not sure I can articulate why I came to this conclusion, but did anyone else who watched the Inaugural speeches also feel that Schumer's (D-NY) speech was in poor taste? Maybe it's just because I'm reading The Coming Fury, but I question the impetus behind his choice of who and what to quote at a time when Americans all across the country are feeling fractious. Nothing like waving a weird 'winners are inevitably right" fake piousness in front of everyone. And that's inspiring, how? Oh, to remind us of who we're supposed to sacrifice our petty peon lives for, I guess (answer: the government). I can only imagine how southerners feel, but out here in evilly evil CA, I wasn't amused.


1/20/17, 1:20 PM

Unknown said...
(Deborah Bender)

@Dammerung--I'm a brown-eyed brunette. My brother (full brother; there is no doubt that we have the same parents) is a blue-eyed, fair-skinned brunet. One of our grandparents was red haired. My brother hasn't had his genome checked, but I have. National Geographic says that I am one percent Neanderthal, eighty-nine percent Diasporic Jew, and the rest of my ancestry is split between Scandinavians and Western Asians. None of this surprised me. Our family was highly endogamous--that's the Jewish part of the genome. The rest makes sense because one side of the family used to live in Hungary and the other side hails from the Ukraine.

Fair skin and some recessive traits like blue eyes get passed down even in families that have no interest in preserving them. My ancestors selected mates for intelligence, good character, and Jewishness. If your justification for your politics is preservation of a particular set of visual traits, maybe you can relax about that.

1/20/17, 2:06 PM

Gottfried Wilhelm Melvin Hicks-Leibniz said...

Just from a pure probabilities perspective, is it not more likely to experience future war if preparing for one now?
I'm open to data disputing that.


1/20/17, 2:10 PM

PunditusMaximus said...
I'm sorry, but leaving out the Dickensian working conditions of the top 10% misses an important part of the dynamics.

1/20/17, 2:38 PM

cat said...
First look at Trump's substantive policies as President:

About an hour after President Donald Trump was sworn in on Friday, his administration suspended indefinitely a scheduled cut in mortgage insurance premiums—effectively raising costs for working and middle-class borrowers by about $500 a year.

He talks like a populist, but he walks like an oligarch.

1/20/17, 3:00 PM

Cherokee Organics said...

You are probably already aware of this, but just in case you are not...

Have you noticed the German concerns about rising inflation (dismissed as temporary due to oil price hikes! Funny huh?), continuing money printing (sorry, bond buying) exercises combined with concerns over negative interest rates. If I was a betting man, you know I reckon the negative interest rates on deposits are the thing they are annoyed about the most. ;-)!

This all tells me that stresses in the Euro zone are reaching critical mass.



1/20/17, 3:16 PM

Marissa said...
I would suggest class analysis along the lines of Pierre Bourdieu. In short, considering three kinds of capital: economic, social, and cultural. What you have, who you know, and what you value. Assuming that you or your interlocutor lacks all three because they lack one is at the root of a lot of the difficulty Americans have in talking about class.

For instance, I know many fellow academics who are making pennies and use this to brush off any talk of class interests because they too are "poor," but they also have much more in the way of connections -- social capital -- and attended private schools or "the right" public schools from day one, are crying over the NEA -- cultural capital. Consider how these three kinds of capital are self-reinforcing (going to the right school gives you a certain network, and your parents likely have wealth you will inherit). This can be a negative too, of course... for example, sharing cultural and social capital with the more wealthy can make one much more willing to put up with a lot of crap from those with much more economic capital. (One of my students did a brilliant analysis of how minimum-wage employment at Whole Foods involves being encouraged to feel that as a cashier you are sharing the tastes of the affluent customers.)

Unfortunately, Bourdieu also has the concept of "social field," and in my academic experience this has been used to argue that there are more solidly defined and bounded groups, fitting nicely with the rampant snobbery of academia. I find it very paradoxical that this analysis made not only my own presence, but also Bourdieu's, in Ivy League/Ecole Normal Superieure-type academia inexplicable (we share nouveau-salary class rural origins).

Bourdieu also gets very little citation nowadays, especially compared to his critic Butler, who turned his concepts to gender politics and performativity...

1/20/17, 3:25 PM

Varun Bhaskar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

1/20/17, 3:37 PM

Marissa said...
Also, we are seeing the fallacy of assuming if one doesn't have one kind of Bourdieusian capital, they don't have any, applied to Trump. Think of the claims along the lines of "he's not even rich." I would caution everyone against underestimating the extent and character of his networks (and there is more than one Establishment, after all).

1/20/17, 3:41 PM

Nastarana said...
Dear Bob. I invite you to consider the possibility that the presidential vote of 2016 may have been in large part an anti war vote. I think it was; I thought the same about the primary vote which removed Rep. Cantor from congress. By this reasoning, while one might not have much liked the new president, he at least wasn't threatening to start WWIII.

Dear James M. Jensen, you do understand that the one thing America's upper class will not tolerate is collusion between white and non-white working classes? Back at the turn of the 19thC, Wall Street openly funded the KKK, while also covertly funding civil rights organizations using their model minority Jewish bagmen. We see the same pattern today, with Soros funding BLM while the Koch's are funding the Tea Party.

Dear jbarber, please allow me to congratulate you on picking up The Tale of Genji. I am sure you will love it, just as I did. Love, eros, sex, desire are treated with all the grace and delicacy which those interesting subjects deserve and so seldom receive in the first and best of all romance novels. Tacitus is good too, and may I respectfully recommend that you provide yourself with a historical atlas of the classical world, if your library has not yet discarded it.

1/20/17, 4:13 PM

Kevin Warner said...
"Patricia Mathews said...
The "Pantsuit Nation" book and blog --- are you sure that isn't a crude parody"

Sorry Patricia - I wish I was. Here are good two links that should give you the background to this story. I should have included them with my original post-

1/20/17, 5:22 PM

Vesta said...
Writer Sherman Alexie's post-inauguration radio meltdown on Seattle's KUOW 1/20/17 at noon is hysterically funny, and almost the whole hour illustrates this post (and others) beautifully.

1/20/17, 5:35 PM

Vesta said...
re Trumps inauguration speech and the theme of this weeks post, I'm sure that if it were edited for grammar and sensitivity, and read by Bernie Sanders, most of the salary-class D's I know would love it.

1/20/17, 5:39 PM

Dammerung said...
@Scotlyn - Well, that's definitely not an easy one to answer. In the course of human events there are times when a people is entitled to levy just war against its oppressors. A nation-state should have the right to define and defend its borders; define and defend its unique conception of citizenship; and, as has been said in certain more extreme forums, defend the existence of its people. National Socialist Germany did nothing that hasn't been done before, since, or in far greater numbers. I am compelled by evidence to believe that her crimes have been greatly exaggerated. Some of the claims made strike me as a "throwing Kuwaiti babies out of incubators"-level of preposterousness.

Had the Germans won, or had the Allies been more willing to come to a comfortable peace, I find it enormously unlikely that Europeans would be threatened in the heart of Paris, Berlin, and Oslo today by radical Islamic terrorists. I find it highly unlikely that European nations would be undergoing demographic replacement by people whose culture and genome is radically different from those indigenous to European homelands.

Or you can just believe one of my favorite /pol/ introspection quotes - "We're sincere Nazis pretending to be ironic Nazis."

@Unknown - I don't think we're going to be able to reason together effectively. After finding out as much as I have about the Israeli role in illegal organ trafficking and human slavery; PizzaGate and Marina Abramović's nasty little brand of black magic; and teaching myself as much as I could about the mechanisms of finance a couple years before the housing bubble collapse - I have come to believe that blood libel is real. As a matter of fact I know it's real. I bear a scar from it on my own body, courtesy of my credulous evangelical parents. They use the foreskin tissue in facial creams if you can believe that.

1/20/17, 5:39 PM

SCA Heretic said...
JMG-To clarify, this is what I was referring to when I said that it seems as though you are saying "Its different this time."

" I think it’s fair, though, to say that the current example has plunged well past the low-water mark set by those dismal occasions."

I see little to no difference.

1/20/17, 5:44 PM

Wendy Crim said...
(I'm late to the party this week- sorry.) I am so surprised you didn't learn anything from this. Every single post of ADR is a learning experience for me. As someone born and raised in and still completely surrounded by total left/liberal end of things, I find what you term "anti-left" to be some of the MOST educational. I am certainly learning how to learn from every installment of this blog. I honestly don't think I would be who I am today without it challenging me over the years.

1/20/17, 5:58 PM

Cortes said...
Our parents (dad plumber, mum - premarriage - chrome plater) brought up five of us. Two went into the military and two more to university in the late 1970s/early 1980s). None of us had any illusions that people of more fortunate economic backgrounds did anything other than hate us for being more talented. My youngest brother could not buy membership in mediocre golf clubs when he was setting out in business but now his money makes him welcome at a prestigious club.
I watched the inauguration ceremony and was impressed by the new President and his speech. The only explanation I can find for the official response in The Guardian (the "liberal " paper) is pure snobbery, AKA class hatred:

Just shameful.

Thanks once again for the excellent article.

1/20/17, 6:10 PM

Jay Cummings said...
No, jmg - I would not point out that your positions in this post seem solidified as an argument against them, but rather that I rarely see you respond to a comment with a change of heart. So many responses you field are misguided (many of mine have been over the years) that mine now must seem so too.

I am saddened that you chose to normalize Trump's hideous behavior by lumping his behavior and political choices in with what hilary (or insert your [least] favorite politician) might have done in this post, but I guess I don't expect you to see the other side of a coin you've already tossed.

I really value your point of view, it brings a kind of rigorousness to discussion. Again, you're not wrong about elite leftist bigotry, you're just missing a much bigger story.

1/20/17, 7:03 PM

hadend said...
I'd reiterate what some other commenters have said: Trump's base is and always was middle-class whites not the working-class. That's what the numbers say over and over again. By and large, the working class and poor didn't turn out. The election really highlighted an interesting feature of the presidential election: the number of people that will turn out to vote for the Republican candidate is fairly consistent while the same thing can't be said for the Democratic candidate. It was Clinton's election to lose and she face-planted - losing counties Obama won safely.

1/20/17, 7:14 PM

Allie said...
Hard hitting post this week, JMG. I enjoyed it.

Had "Didn't Vote" run for president, he/she/it would have destroyed both Trump and Clinton by about 20 million votes. Trump would have been a very distant 3rd place in the popular vote. That's just how bad both candidates were.

I am still surprised so many working class folks really think he's actually going to go to work for them. You would think after being hoodwinked by the affluent year after year, decade after decade they would get the trick. But as you point out, the way Trump lured the mainstream media into sneering and snarling at him, it just got the working class to fall in behind him even more. In America, if a person who is wealthier than you is trying to "help you out", "do you a favor" or "hook you up"; they are simply trying to screw you and steal from you. Plain and simple.


"When you hear people raising reasoned objections to Trump’s policies and appointments, odds are that you’re listening to the sort of thoughtful dissent that’s essential to any semblance of democracy, and it may be worth taking seriously."


"When you hear people criticizing Trump and his appointees for doing the same thing his rivals would have done, or his predecessors did, odds are that you’re getting the normal hypocrisy of partisan politics, and you can roll your eyes and stroll on."

Kind of nitpicking here, but what if someone points all that out and claims that is a good reason to expect that he won't be such a change agent for the working class as they hoped?

That's personally one of my main arguments why I think his whole "champion of the working class" shtick is totally fake. All those Goldman alums and other billionaires profited handsomely from shaking down the lower middle class and working class. They are smart people too, they know that they profited more than they otherwise would have by that very class looting. So I seriously doubt they have found religion and are going to sacrifice their privilege to help that dude in Indiana working three part time jobs...

1/20/17, 7:39 PM

Robert Tweedy said...
Re: the Cult of Kek:
In the online computer game World of Warcraft, "kek" in the Orcish language translates as "lol". It also seems to predate today's Cult of Kek meme by several years. Hmm.

1/20/17, 7:47 PM

nuku said...
Re “so, in a few years, forget about consumer goods purchases that actually drive an economy“:
Suggested correction/addition, its also government/tax funded infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, water supply, flood control, plus defense, border contol, various regulatory agencies, education, etc that drive an economy.
The economy isn’t just “consumers“ (boy do I hate that word) consuming new bright and shiny gee gaws.
End of rant...

1/20/17, 8:22 PM

Wendy Crim said...
I live in midtown KCMO and agree it's complicated out here. I think how you describe it is accurate. And I also agree it's "impolite" to talk about the rot. I am interested to see what happens over the next four years.

1/20/17, 8:36 PM

Bill Pulliam said...
Thinking about this more... the people I know who are sincerely and severely upset about the incoming administration are so because of things that he and his appointees have directly said about things like climate change, government lands, minorities, immigration, women, constitutional freedoms other than the second amendment, and so on. Your continuing to trivialize and dismiss these very sincere and deep feelings that have nothing to do with class warfare has actually gotten pretty offensive to me. So it seems I just have to be done here, indefinitely.

It was an interesting decade. Sorry you decided to finish it up on such a bizzare note.

1/20/17, 9:51 PM

DoubtingThomas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

1/20/17, 9:54 PM

nuku said...
Re upward mobility and the American Dream:
The rest of my story and how it might relate to the topic I raised;
I did indeed go to University (UC Berkeley and San Francisco State in the 60’s and boy was that an experience!), got 2 degrees and dropped out to be a “tradesman” building replica harpsichords for 14 years. Then I spent 2 years in law school in a futile attempt to be the “professional” my parents always wanted. I eventually made enough $ to retire and cruise the world on a small sailboat through the combination of lucky investing of the proceeds of my craft, some “green weed” gardening, being incredibly frugal with my funds, and choosing not to have kids.
The point is that I did voluntarily give up the American Dream of getting “rich and famous” in favor of creating my own life, and I did it before the death of the American Dream. Maybe I dimly saw the writing on the wall beginning in the 80’s. That, plus what’s personally important to me is creativity, looking for the bigger picture, simplicity, and the freedom to shape my life and my time, not wealth as an end in itself and status in the eyes of others. Call it “early social collapse” if you will.

1/20/17, 9:55 PM

onething said...
Dear Pundit Maximus,

I, too, have benefitted from Obamacare. I sometimes say it saved my life, not because I didn't have health insurance, but because it allowed me to afford it while working fewer hours; that is, it decoupled it from my job which kills me with stress.

But the whole shebang is a boondoggle that will, WILL bankrupt this nation if it is not pruned way back. The boondoggle of course predated the ACA, but seems to have perhaps only worsened it. I'm talking about the corrupt pricing and monopolistic practices which, according to the blogger on Market Ticker (a rather pugnacious fellow that I hardly like) are already illegal. I'm talking about price fixing, pharmaceutical monopolistic practices and nontransparent pricing which leave the populace helpless. Also, it is apparently already illegal to take advantage of people in extremis. I would say that someone lying on the side of the road needing to be life flighted to the nearest hospital is in extremis. So I called a helicopter company in my nearest city and found out that a flight for 4 people for an hour, a joyride over the city, would cost 1499 if booked in advance but about 2000 if done on the spur of the moment. How much do you think my patient's flight cost her? Would 30 grand surprise you?

1/20/17, 10:21 PM

onething said...
One of the two strong Trump detractors listed among his upcoming sins the repeal of the first amendment. But wasn't it under Obama that a new law was just passed, or at least presented to congress, to restrict free speech because of "fake news"?

1/20/17, 10:42 PM

Bob said...
Dear Bob. I invite you to consider the possibility that the presidential vote of 2016 may have been in large part an anti war vote. I think it was; I thought the same about the primary vote which removed Rep. Cantor from congress. By this reasoning, while one might not have much liked the new president, he at least wasn't threatening to start WWIII.

I believe most people are opposed to war. Most are opposed to excessive military spending and aggressive foreign policies. I believe this is common sense. The "leadership" believes otherwise.

1/21/17, 1:32 AM

Scotlyn said...
@Dammerung - thanks for taking my question seriously. You've tendered three responses to my question.
1) Hitler didn't do anything others haven't done. (You know this doesn't add up to "not doing anything wrong").
2) what Hitler is accused of isn't *entirely* true or is exaggerated (so which is it? no worse than others or not at all? What do you accept he did do? And was *that* wrong or not wrong.)

3. Europe would have been different now if he had won. Indubitably, but neither you nor I can say how it would look. (But this also does not begin to address the claim that what Hitler did was "not wrong").

That is to say, I am still not clear as to whether you actually believe "Hitler did no wrong" or do you just want to disseminate that meme because you have sympathy with his ends, and are therefore willing to give his means a pass.

When you say "In the course of human events there are times when a people is entitled to levy just war against its oppressors"

I presume you have present day references in mind for "course of human events" (which events?) "there are times" (now, I presume?) "levy just war" (what war do you propose to levy? what makes its cause just?) and "oppressors" (who are they?)

Like I say I can't think of any other forum where I could ask these questions with a hope of a serious answer. I thank you, and the Archdruid for making it possible.

1/21/17, 2:35 AM

Scotlyn said...
@Onething, I don't dispute your larger claim re industry price gouging, but you've twice mentioned the helicopter example. I live in a fishing port, worked as a ships agent and am somewhat familiar with the workings of rescue helicopters that serve fishermen in time of need.

The cost does not surprise me. Your patient was presumably not on a pleasure trip, but in a helicopter ambulance staffed by paramedics You need to pay their salaries, not just the pilot's. You need to keep their training and skills up to date. You need to kit out the helicopter with all necessary emergency response equipment. You need to have admin back up to maintain quality and safety systems and pay to have them audited and certified. You need surgixal cleaning and disinfectiom staff between trips. Regulatory compliance adds more costs. And then you have to maintain and pay for all of that even while stood down between emergency calls. So, yes, there is more to a helicopter ambulance than a joy ride. I can't say whether 30 grand is reasonable, but it isn't as far out of line as you suggest.

1/21/17, 3:27 AM

Fred the First said...
I've been reflecting about distraction lately. Its clear the main media channels focus on unimportant details fill their stories with many "what if's". I appreciate this blog even more because you deal with what is actually so, not many possible futures. Even when you make a prediction, like Trump as President, it was all based in what had been happening for the past few decades or longer.

What remains of the Democrats and this protesting, anarchist mob that they won't disown, is deep into the distraction of Trump. Trump and his team continue to bait the left with words, "I can't believe what Trump just said", and they fall for it every time. Its the classic magician's trick, isn't it? Watch the hands flutter, the arms wave, the cape swoosh and you miss how the trick was done.

Somehow in the left's thinking, one must respond to every word said that is offensive and out of line. Wouldn't just ignoring Trump be more powerful? Especially Trump since he obviously can't stand to be ignored. Go out and build something in opposition rather than burning down stranger's personal property.

I've been in arguments with my friends on the left. Their position is Trump must be opposed, we must be on the street protesting. I asked "about what". And it comes down to who he is and what he represents. So I say "isn't that intolerant and racist to protest someone for being white and having money? He didn't set any policy. He just said words, mostly about himself." And the argument comes back that we can't allow people like Trump to be in power.

The left is obsessed and distracted by Trump and they don't even see it. It is a convenient reason to use for why they don't accomplish anything though. Its must easier to complain and comment about someone else, rather than go build something or make something on your own or with others.

1/21/17, 4:59 AM

Ray Wharton said...
@Bill Pullman
I hope you come back around, for most of the time I have read this blog its been a toss up between you and just a couple others for commentator I find most interesting. Especially the fact that more than most regulars you have repeatedly shown capacity to present effective counter points to Greer.

1/21/17, 5:48 AM

August Johnson said...
JMG - quick comment - I think you're far from correct when you say that this time the left has set the new low. When Obama was running and elected for the first time you lived in Ashland, OR (A place, now that I've seen it, I consider to be a liberal bastion of hippie wanna-bees but with lots of money) and I lived in Lakeside, AZ. This is in the middle of a very rural, conservative part of AZ. The crying and wailing you now see from the left is nothing compared to the incredible threats of "we're gonna take our country back from that damn Muslim fake." I'd dare you to walk into the feed store and confront the armed jackass sitting on the stool and ranting about how that Black Muslim will never make it to the White House, he'll be stopped. There was plenty of this stuff going around, you just never heard it in Ashland. I'd far rather face one of today's "enraged" Liberals than even one of the conservatives I saw back in 2008-9. Today it's just downright disgusting, those days it was freakin' scary!

I do have to agree with Bill and others that you seem to be going on a rant against the left of a kind that you've never done against the right. I usually enjoy and agree with your rants against both "sides" but the last few seem to be all about slashing Clinton and, if not justifying Trump, certainly excusing all his lies and and other massive failings. His entire cabinet is populated with those who not only caused the 2008 crash, but profited highly from it. This won't end well.

I saw nothing worthy of either candidate in this election, I was more than totally disgusted that neither party had a candidate that actually represented anybody but the tiny minority elites. I like some of the things that Trump "said" during his campaign, but I have not even the slightest expectation that the tiniest fraction of them will turn out to in any way actually benefit the working class that need them.

1/21/17, 6:23 AM

EnergyLens said...
I haven't had the chance to read the comments yet, so apologies if this has already been referenced... I experienced a bit of synchronicity today as a friend in another medium posted the article "Trump's Jews and Obama's Jews" which outlines the class divide within the Jewish community... not really discussed or acknowledged in the mainstream media.

I also wanted to note that in my experience the multi-ethnic liberal elites of Silicon Valley are typically upper-class (wealthy) elites in their country of origin and with very few exceptions don't recognize economic class as a dimension of their privilege (they're just "smarter"); they don't see the unwashed masses and have been culturally conditioned not to.

1/21/17, 6:50 AM

Bob said...
This is how you stand up to Trump:

1/21/17, 7:54 AM

Nastarana said...
Dear Mr. Greer, I would like to add a few observations with apologies for lack of coherent order as I am still sorting out what I think about the election just past and the Democratic Party in particular.

First, I do find it heartening that members of the up and coming generations are not being intimidated by Conservative rhetoric. Nor do they seem to be retreating into the helplessness of lets all be civil here. Can it be that rightist scorched earth name calling tactics might have become ineffective?

Second, I would like to point out that the old left is not the new left. The new left, "committed radicals" as they called themselves in the 1960s had an intellectual background steeped in Marx, as you said, Freud and classic Russian novels. It never occurred to them that their intellectual preparation might be an inadequate basis for understanding, never mind changing, an Anglo-Saxon society. Contrary to what is believed in some quarters, Protestantism in all its variety is not an updated form of Judaism, and American society owes as much to its' inheritance of law and custom from the Middle Ages as it does to later influences. The English Reformation may have discarded Rome, and the Pope, but English Common Law remained.

A large part of New Left, SDS, membership, and nearly all of its' leaders, with the possible exception of Mr. Haydon, were children of first and second generation migrants from various parts of Central Europe, like Senator Sanders for example. The problem I have always had with this group then and now, is that they can't seem to figure out what country they are living in. The USA is not and never will be Europe West, just as it will never become the northern extension of Mexico or an eastward province of China. Life in even NYC will never resemble life in Vienna or Paris for the simple reason that American cities are not a thousand years old.

From the time of the Port Huron Statement to the present, the New Left and its' latter day descendants have always had a profound and unshakable urban bias. For this group, cities are good places, especially multicultural cities with a vibrant arts scene, and the countryside, home in their minds of uncultured bigots and racists, is to be avoided. When leftists began to acquire some political power, they were quite content that farm policy could be left to the tender mercies of multinational agribiz, just as a hereditary nobility had ruled in the countryside in their family's countries of origin. Besides, multinational is good, remember?

1/21/17, 8:18 AM

onething said...
Again, one of the strong Trump detractors scolded JMG to the effect that this new presidency is not like any other. I agree. (From my posts one would get the impression I really like Trump. That is not the case. I'm one of those people who voted for him with my eyes wide open.)

It is not like any other, not because Trump is truly more heinous, but because of the new low of hysteria, frank dishonesty and propaganda that the media is engaging in. And the new hagiography of Obama (and Hillary) reminds me of nothing so much as the "our dear leader" type designations of some communist countries.

I think the article previously linked is a must read:

"That the menace of rapacious power – rampant long before the rise of Trump – has been accepted by writers, many of them privileged and celebrated, and by those who guard the gates of literary criticism, and culture, including popular culture, is uncontroversial...Across the Review section of the Guardian on 10 December was a dreamy picture of Barack Obama looking up to the heavens and the words, “Amazing Grace” and “Farewell the Chief”... a line from a Marvin Gaye song, describes seeing the Obamas “rising out of the limo, rising up from fear, smiling, waving, defying despair, defying history, defying gravity”. The Ascension, no less...
“I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being,” said Obama, who expanded America’s favourite military pastime, bombing, and death squads (“special operations”) as no other president has done since the Cold War.

According to a Council on Foreign Relations survey, in 2016 alone Obama dropped 26,171 bombs. That is 72 bombs every day. He bombed the poorest people on earth, in Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan.

Every Tuesday – reported the New York Times – he personally selected those who would be murdered by mostly hellfire missiles fired from drones.

Like the fascism of the 1930s, big lies are delivered with the precision of a metronome: thanks to an omnipresent media whose description now fits that of the Nuremberg prosecutor. “Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically…. In the propaganda system… it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons".

Obama, the constitutional lawyer, prosecuted more whistleblowers than any other president in history...
In 2011, Obama said Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi was planning “genocide” against his own people. “We knew… that if we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”
This was the known lie of Islamist militias facing defeat by Libyan government forces. It became the media story; and Nato – led by Obama and Hillary Clinton – launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. Uranium warheads were used; the cities of Misurata and Sirte were carpet-bombed. The Red Cross identified mass graves, and Unicef reported that “most [of the children killed]were under the age of 10”.

This is why I now have such contempt for the left, perhaps for Americans in general. They whine about drivel while supporting the killing of other people and will not care.

1/21/17, 8:19 AM

onething said...
Anton Mett,

"I'm not sure I understand your question. By "our rulers" whom do you mean?"

I meant the deep state, and the entities you mention are more visible minions.

1/21/17, 8:30 AM

Nastarana said...
(continued from above) that brings me to my third observation.

The party of apparatchiks, nomenklatura and the various sycophants and social climbers who surrounded the Clintons throughout this last campaign have not only discarded traditional religions in favor of fervent belief in Progress, they are consumed by a particular variant of the Religion of Progress. If I had to put a name to their ideology, I would call it the Cult of Multicultural Internationalism. Adherents of this cult believe beyond any possibility of doubt or recantation that they are the fortunate members of an elite vanguard, the favored of history, that their peers are Socrates and Shakespeare, not the slobs and ignoramuses who happen to inhabit the buildings or gated communities wherein they have their merely physical existences.

A little thing like loosing a national election won't shake the faith of True Believers. As recently as yesterday, I found myself being told in earnest accents on another forum that nation states are a thing of the past, that the US is no longer a nation but the hub of a multinational trading web--something like that. Think Venice in the 13C I guess. That such a trading empire must be upheld by massive military installations and interventions around the world, is either ignored or cynically suppressed by the cultists.

The USA, of course, is not a city state, but a nation of continental dimensions which can live quite comfortably on its own resources, if not with the waste and luxury of recent decades. The parts of the oligarchy which are backing the new president seem to have done some calculations and figured out that the overseas empire will have to be scaled back if one wants to get Americans shopping again. Me, I think they waited too long, spending on infrastructure, which benefits them, notwithstanding. I think that current and coming austerity and destitution are having and will continue to have so emotionally and psychologically devastating an effect on Americans as to banish the pleasures of happy shopping for at least another 80 year cycle.

1/21/17, 8:49 AM

Caryn said...
When Trump's "Grab-em-by-the-p****" tape 'scandal' broke - the 'gentry' were astonished and up in arms at how ANYONE could support such a horrid oaf. "THIS must SURELY end it for him". I was among them. At the time I was working 2 low paying retail jobs and was very enlightened to hear 3 of my female co-workers explain (simply spouting off - they didn't mean to explain) that this is how all the men in their lives talk and act. "So (effing) what?" "We girls talk trash too". They've been grabbed and worse. "So What?" "What kind of special little snowflake are you, think this is crude, wrong or anything to blow a gasket over? This is real life, Get over yourself!"

Incidentally - Both at my retail jobs and now in my daycare/preschool, I've heard within my first 5 minutes of meeting co-workers: and consistently since; openly and casually dropped details of how they were sexually abused as children, battered by boyfriends or fathers, family members in and out of jail, which one died of an overdose, their own illegal addictions, etc. Things that in most of my previous experience would be considered horrid skeletons one tries to avoid or at the very least keep in the locked closet. Their lives and worlds really are, what I would consider, brutish. I don't know if they are the minority, but their world-views an mine are galaxies apart. This IS their real world.

Now, I grew up in a poor working class and military family, we were not isolated. This was not OK, none of the men (or women) in my family or neighborhood would have tolerated such 'low', 'dirty' behaviour or talk. It's not a purely economic issue. I've spent a chunk of my life amongst very wealthy expats and globalists - some would not tolerate it, some would shrug, some would express, (just like my working-poor retail co-workers) "Thank God, FINALLY a politician who's keepin' it REAL!"

I also think that some people simply WANT a strongman, a warlord to carry them - equal opportunity, democracy, sharing are mamby-pamby, weak and effete. The more brutish and bullying he presents himself, the stronger he seems. Maybe they're on to something in our collapsing world. IMHO the only thing Trump could do to lose his supporters is to appear weak or compromising. (The theory that Putin has a golden showers sex tape to blackmail him with is laughable. "Who cares?")

Yes, this brutish world-view or maybe just the open acceptance of it is probably more common and a result of lower economic life, but IMHO, it is the world-view, not the cash on hand that makes the difference, this also explains the overly-educated, under-employed Starbuck's baristas and Uber drivers.

THIS intellectual/cultural divide is far more important and influential than economics and yeah, in America it cuts across income lines. To ignore this is simply putting blinkers on.

I'm not even going to bother with the weird, Byzantine, fake divide of political 'lefties' vs. righties'.

Lastly: Bill Pulliam: I do hope you'll reconsider and drop in from time to time. I've enjoyed your contributions here.

1/21/17, 9:04 AM

onething said...
Doubting Thomas,

"I could ask why didn't those "working/middle class" get off their back sides over the last 40 years and create a new party or candidate that they funded grassroots style ?"

Actually, Ron Paul was such a candidate, But he could not overcome the sidelining by the media.

1/21/17, 9:16 AM

Glenn said...
"Bill Pulliam said...
Your continuing to trivialize and dismiss these very sincere and deep feelings that have nothing to do with class warfare has actually gotten pretty offensive to me. So it seems I just have to be done here, indefinitely.

It was an interesting decade. Sorry you decided to finish it up on such a bizzare note."

I'll miss you, Bill. You have been a consistent voice of of reason here.


in the Bramblepatch
Marrowstone Island
Salish Sea

glennwoodbury(at sign)gmail(dot)com

1/21/17, 9:29 AM

Caryn said...
Not sure if my first comment, (part 1) didn't go through. I'll try to recreate it, but if the first one did go through, please delete one. :)

Thank You again, JMG & Fellow commenters, for another enlightening discussion.

I'm in the camp of social and cultural divide theory - far less, the economic divide. This explains the statistics of more middle-class and comfortable Trump voters outnumbering the poor working class ones. In today's America, incomes are too fluid to establish a culture/income pecking order. IMHO, It also explains the intense visceral apoplectic hatred hurled at 'the other side', from both sides - especially the losing one. It explains the over-educated under-employed baristas and Uber-drivers. As I tried to illustrate in my post above, it explains 'grab-em-by-the-....." gate non-scandal. It explains the sheer horror at those golden toilet bowls coming soon to the White House.

Ypu. It's all about the gold toilet bowls.

Yes, I would enjoy a future discussion on education, the education system and intellectualism. I do think this subject is at the heart of the cultural divide. The 'Gentle Folk' who value education for it's own sake, knowledge it's own reward; and 'The Great Unwashed' who see it as, at best, a hurdle to higher paying jobs/more money/security/creature comforts; at worst a cudgel to beat them and keep them down with. It is not even who is educated and who is not. It is who values education and who does not. The arts, sciences, humanities and other markers of 'culture' are included in this. 'You can take the bum out of the gutter, but you can't take the gutter out of the bum', 'You can take the toff out of the mansion, but you can't take the mansion out of the toff'.

In such a discussion, I highly doubt I will agree with you, as you've already made clear that it is something you see scant value in; another 'Emperor's New Clothes'. OTOH, even when I totally disagree with your essays, the discussion and commentary provide great food for thought for me. Great learning - and for it's own sake. I appreciate that.

1/21/17, 9:37 AM

Jason B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

1/21/17, 10:39 AM

Carl Dolphin said...
Richard Spencer of Alt-Right fame, got sucker punched in the face as he was talking to an Australian reporter on the streets of DC yesterday. He's ok but probably has a concussion. His assailant had a mask on and ran away after hitting him like a coward.
Predicable that most of the comments from the left are that he deserved it, though he's never hit anyone on the street and in his white identity talks, he doesn't mention any kind of violence towards other people. So much for Anti-facist left being peaceful.

1/21/17, 10:46 AM

Matt said...
Scotlyn (and JMG)

it seems to me that Dammerung is being give way too much latitude. He is self identifying as a Nazi and laying on a bit of an ironic smile or the impression that he's not really made his mind up to give us pause. I don't buy it.

What, he's suddenly started thinking that race is more than skin colour? You don't say. And notice, nowhere making explicit the connection between that and the other 'genetic' characteristics he happened to mention. This is dog whistling with an actual analogy to dogs!

Hitler didn't do anything particularly bad? And then read on... He's coming over as a shy Holocaust denier, who's done his research but doesn't really want to share the view he's formed.

And Hitler would have stopped those darned Islamic terrorists in their tracks - good grief. How much terrorism might we encounter as he and his chums try to carve out their Aryan enclave?

I like the breadth of the commenters here, but that's leaving a bad taste.


1/21/17, 11:43 AM

Varun Bhaskar said...
Archdruid, Bill Pullinam, Shane, Dammerung, Justin, Bob, and others...

With the heated discussion of class, ethnicity, and political identities taking place on this forum I thought I would offer an outsiders perspective into the alt-right and their racially tinged rhetoric.

From my perspective the alt-right represents the emergence of a clearly defined working class white political identity. Don’t mistake my meaning, all racial identities are political identities. Black, Latino, and Indian are not ethnic groups rather they are groupings of ethnic group advocating for mutually beneficial interests. These ethnic groups largely do not advocate for themselves in exclusion to other political groups, but it just so happens that certain policies they advocate can negatively impact another group.

If the alt-right is the first stirrings of the political identity of the working class whites, then it is a major break from American historical standards. Working class whites traditionally relied on upper class whites to advocate for their common interests. Since the election of Regan the mutually supportive relationship between working class and upper class whites has broken down, leaving the working class white population largely adrift without any advocacy of their own.

To people in minority political groups this is a strange development, because of the way working class whites were traditionally linked with the upper class whites, they were, that is the working class whites, were the face of a very oppressive system. Black, Latino, or other works rarely interacted with upper class whites, but the majority of their interactions were with working class whites.

Compounding that position as face of the system was the fact that working class whites were the primary market for much of the cultural output of the country. Arts and entertainment, ideas of beauty, virtue, and many other facets of cultural life were directed toward and based on white cultural standards. The remains of that are still evident in Hollywood where the main target demographic is the white working class, or the under representation of Blacks and Latinos on Wall street, and etc…Admittedly those two locations are elite dominated, but they are also the most visible representation of the connection between upper and lower class whites. Since the white working class were attached to the privileged they are still seen as guards and beneficiaries of those centers of power, although they are often quite the opposite.

In the last eight years the privilege of the whites was under direct assault, even where is did not exist, and often by the privileged themselves. The response of the white working class is the emergence of a political identity, and their language a direct response to perceived or real oppression. Similarly the language of black political identity was a direct response to perceived or real oppression. In this sense the nationalistic tones, the absolutism, the exclusionary ideology basically mirror each other. The only difference is that a black politician dare not utter similar sentiment if they only have the support of black political groups.

What is frightening to many people, myself included, is that the sentiment of the nascent white working class political identity is blatantly exclusionary of other political identities. Meaning that there seems to be little space in the world they are trying to create for the existence of Indian, Black, Latino, or others. Even worse their sentiment is echoed by people who have the power, both legal and financial, to implement this exclusive system. Those of us in minority communities do not know if this new political identity is a threat to us, or is just finding its place. Until we know we are going to be on guard. It would be much easier to know the intentions of this new political identity if its members didn’t insist in parading around in the symbols and rhetoric of a group of people who were violently xenophobic.



1/21/17, 1:06 PM

Twinruler334 said...
College is a waste of money! I agree with Owen.

1/21/17, 1:47 PM

Clarence said...
it seems, whether intentional or not, to be one of those essays you run when you want to prune back your readership. you're unlikely to lose me.


1/21/17, 3:03 PM

escher said...
I'd chalked the anti-Trump hysteria up to the typical media diet that the liberals I've known tend to consume. That said, there's no denying that an ugly streak of class hatred runs through the heart of present-day American liberalism. At this point, I don't think it's going too far to say it practically defines it.

As for possible realignments, my guess? In the foreseeable future, any policies recognizable as populist will come out of the Trump faction of the Republican party, not the Democrats. The Democratic Party will ride special-snowflake liberalism and identity politics (and, apparently, now absurd anti-Russian jingoism) all the way into history's dustbin.

I do hope Trump catches wind of the idea of making student loans dischargeable in bankruptcy again. (Any Trump staffers reading this, do pass the idea along!) It seems like the kind of common-sense, centrist reform he could get behind. (Would it have happened under Clinton? Not in a million years.)

1/21/17, 3:38 PM

Peter VE said...
@ Cat
"... About an hour after President Donald Trump was sworn in on Friday, his administration suspended indefinitely a scheduled cut in mortgage insurance premiums—effectively raising costs for working and middle-class borrowers by about $500 a year."
What's missing from the story is when the cut was enacted: last Tuesday. If I were a cynical person, I would suggest it was enacted by the Obama administration just in time to be suspended by the incoming administration. The result would be howls of indignation, without affecting the fees earned by the insurers. If I were a cynical person...

I went to my local Wimmyn's March today. It was a lovely mid January day, 55° and sunny. Three quarters of the speakers were salary class women and men, decrying the evil thoughts of the incoming administration and its racist and bigoted supporters. No one seemed to realize that decrying people for what you think they are is a lot less likely to win friends and influence people that convincing them to change what they do.
Only one speaker, an immigrant women from Jamaica just elected to the RI legislature, included class among the problems the liberals face.
I didn't notice any of my Tea Party acquaintances amongst the crowd. ;-) I did notice an enthusiasm for using "Hamilton" motifs: I suppose no one got the message that Hamilton was the architect of much of the financial system we live by.

1/21/17, 4:51 PM

donalfagan said...
Assigning anti-Trump feelings to class bigotry sounds about the same as chalking up pro-Trump feelings to white supremacy.

1/21/17, 4:57 PM

onething said...

"Your patient was presumably not on a pleasure trip, but in a helicopter ambulance staffed by paramedics You need to pay their salaries, not just the pilot's. You need to keep their training and skills up to date. You need to kit out the helicopter with all necessary emergency response equipment. You need to have admin back up to maintain quality and safety systems and pay to have them audited and certified. You need surgical cleaning and disinfection staff between trips. Regulatory compliance adds more costs. And then you have to maintain and pay for all of that even while stood down between emergency calls. So, yes, there is more to a helicopter ambulance than a joy ride. I can't say whether 30 grand is reasonable, but it isn't as far out of line as you suggest."

I'm pretty sure it is very unreasonable. What a reasonable cost might be, I'd like to know, but it isn't possible to run up 28,000 dollars to pay a couple of medics who probably make in the range of 30 dollars per hour, and as for the infrastructure you mention, that is also overhead the regular helicopter company doesn't have, but all of it is part of the structure of staffing at the ER. They don't do anything different, they attend the same CPR and ACLS renewal classes as other nurses and EMS personnel. There is medical equipment to be sure, but not as much as you might think. Mostly a few meds, IV equipment and oxygen. And it's true that you have to pay for the down time, but that is also true of the joyride company, and they must be making some profit or they wouldn't be in business.

I tell this story because I want the American people to wake up and get mad. We are being taken advantage of big time, and many people are only dimly aware of what's wrong. We are approaching 20% of the entire GDP going to medical expenses. That is not sustainable. I'm also wanting people to realize that just because they may have insurance does not mean their care is paid by magic.

1/21/17, 5:24 PM

DoubtingThomas said...

Obama, the constitutional lawyer, prosecuted more whistleblowers than any other president in history...

A president doesn't get to decide who does or doesn't get prosecuted does he ? I thought the idea of separating judiciary from executive was to prevent such favouritism. I can't really see how Obama got to choose which Whistleblowers were prosecuted. Isn't that decision making process out of his hands?

I read a Guardian ( article that tried to paint a similar picture but it was a bit vague on specifics of how Obama got to dictate law. I'm a fan of whistleblowers. ;)

On the other hand, according to reports, Obama, did choose to exercise his executive powers and commute one of the Whistleblower's (Chelsea Manning's) sentence. - I'm glad Chelsea got his sentence commuted. Obama did a good thing there.

Actually, Ron Paul was such a candidate, But he could not overcome the sidelining by the media.
Isn't Ron Paul a Republican ? If so wouldn't his attempts be restricted by the two party system dynamic and their respective selection mechanisms? Also, you say he could not overcome the media. That's kind of my point, its not Ron Paul or Bernie Saunders role to overcome the media its the role of the "disaffected working/middle class" who needed to overcome their default programming of buying in to messages from the media. To stop expecting to be provided a hand crafted set of options to vote for that spout pledges (lies) and then repeat the process every years expecting a different outcome.

[ god I detest class taxonomy but JMG used it so lets stick with it for now. I don't subscribe to any class. ]

1/21/17, 6:14 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Before I get into comments, I'd like to remind my handful of alt-right commenters that Nazi Germany, Holocaust revisionism, and similar subjects aren't topical for this blog, and they're also the kind of subjects that make people on all sides of the various debates stop thinking and start screaming. I'm therefore imposing a moratorium on further discussion, until and unless I do a post on the subject -- which I doubt I'll be doing anytime this side of the twelfth of Never. Thank you, and we now return to our regularly scheduled Archdruid Report.

Unknown Eagle Eye, yes, I saw that! To my mind, the slow rise of that kind of reflective (rather than reactive) response is a very good sign.

Phil, hmm again. That really does sound worth considering.

Crow Hill, thanks for this! It sounds to me as though Switzerland has its head on straight...

Scotlyn, of course! Just as the two-year-old calls all four-legged animals "goggie," and only later figures out that there really is a difference between dogs, cats, horses, et al., the human mind falls very easily into huge overgeneralized categories, and only with time, experience, and education -- well, not modern education, but that's another matter -- realizes that the world is more complex and less easily categorized than all that. That's why it's helpful to point out when extreme overgeneralizations are being used to dump hatred on entire categories of people -- the more often that's done, even in the face of pushback, the more likely that at least some people will back down from their bigotries.

Nestorian, because election fraud isn't omnipotent. Since both sides do it, to roughly equal degrees, there's still some chance that your vote will still make a difference.

Doc Tim, fair enough; as I noted in my post, there's a lot more to social class than how much money you make.

Bob, I never said that working class voters are immune to self-delusion; I've simply pointed out that my own experience, and a great deal of other evidence I've cited, shows that the reasons people voted for Trump were not the reasons attributed to them by the mainstream media and the affluent left. I'd also point out that it wasn't the right that was smashing windows, setting fires, and beating up their political enemies over the last two days! We will indeed see how things work out; as I noted in my post, there are plenty of good reasons why people might object to Trump's policies and appointments -- but there's also a great deal of frankly hysterical demonization going on.

David, that's the way it seems to be shaping up.

Bill, if your sample contains one person who makes half a million a year and nine who are scraping by on ten thousand a year, the average member of the sample is middle class -- even though not one person in the sample fits that definition. For heaven's sake, you have scientific training -- you know how slippery averages are when you have a complex multimodal distribution!

NZ, exactly. That's just it -- all sides have valid points to make, and forcing every political choice into the kind of rigid dualism you've described makes it impossible to get past the kind of deadlock we've got in place right now.

Owen, I've given that advice to young people, and never regretted it.

Redoak, glad to hear it. I'll definitely do a post on the end of the academic industry soon -- and yes, one on the parallel trajectory of the medical industry should also be in there.

Bob, the US is engaged in constant warfare because it's trying to maintain a global empire, of course. Have you noticed, though, that the nations it chooses to pick on all have substandard militaries?

1/21/17, 6:56 PM

latheChuck said...
Perhaps this will lighten the mood for a moment... In today's comics section, the "Sally Forth" cartoon lightly addresses the larger theme of this blog.
1st panel: daughter says "Mom, it's cold in this house!"; Mom replies "Put on a sweater."
2nd panel: "But we have a heater." "We also have heating bills. Put on a sweater."
3rd panel: "I feel like that by putting on a sweater instead of turning on the heat I'm going against all civilization has been building towards." "Civilization lost. Put on a sweater."
(emphasis added) It goes on for three more panels, and there's a nice nod to parliamentary procedure, but that's the part that resonated with me.

"Civilization lost. Put on a sweater." (OK. So I lied about lightening the mood.)

1/21/17, 6:58 PM

Justin said...
JMG, I see you deleted my post. That's fine, I just wanted to clarify that Nazi Germany did murder Jews, Gypsies and other people on an industrial scale, I was only arguing that this did not take place at Auschwitz and explaining the fallacies behind modern holocaust denial.

1/21/17, 7:09 PM

latheChuck said...
I got an appeal from The Sierra Club this week, which asks: "Will you kick off the New Year by joining the team who'll block Trump in every way we can?" I understand the concerns about the new administration's favoring energy development over environmental issues. But this strategy statement doesn't even mention environmental goals.

I am reminded of the story that ran in a recent Washington Post about the Jewish college student who cultivated a social relationship with an anti-Semitic white separatist student, and simply gave him personal experiences to contrast with his theoretical indoctrination. The separatist ended up "separating" from his racist parents. I am reminded, that is, by the contrast between a strategy which can be ignored, and one which was effective.

When a mere teen, I ran across Eric Berne's book on interpersonal dynamics: Games People Play. I can't tell whether the Sierra Club is inviting me to play a round of "Ain't It Awful" (how our problems never get solved), or "Let's You and Him Fight" (while I hold your coat). Either way, I'll pass.

1/21/17, 7:13 PM

Ray Wharton said...
I think that Gergory Bateson's observation about rivalry in hierarchies is important to untangling the mess of how factions are separating. Specifically he observes that the strongest rivalry in a hierarchy is between levels of neighboring prestige. The paradigm case he gives is of a society with a series of initiation grades where the odd levels in the hierarchy tend to support each other against an alliance of the even numbered layers in the hierarchy; even comparing it to fraternities where Freshmen and Juniors are paired against sophomores and Seniors. Similarly there is a very rough and imprecise stereotype of the Welfare and Salary class sharing one party against another party of the Working and Investment classes. Speaking very roughly of course.

How useful do y'all think this schema is to the current situation?

1/21/17, 7:27 PM

The other Tom said...
Ever since the election I've been considering why I have such a deep instinctive distrust of Trump, apart from his bizarre behavior and capricious tweets.
What sets Trump apart from any other politician I can think of is that he is a man who has never had to face consequences. He is a rich man's son who has always had a wall of bodyguards or good lawyers to protect him from the consequences of grabbing women, blowing off contractors by not paying them, or declaring bankruptcy through one of his Limited Liability Corporations when things go wrong. He has never had any reason to think of anyone but himself and at age 70 he is not going to change. Sorry, all you Trump supporters and apologists but I think your intuition is impaired here. This is not even so much a matter of political positions but of entrusting our security to someone with a cool head and knowledge beyond his own interests, because his bodyguards and lawyers cannot protect US from his actions. This is what sets Trump apart from the Clintons, the Bushes, Dick Cheney, or anyone else you care to loathe.
The thought of an impulsive, overconfident man who does not have to read briefings being Commander in Chief scares the hell out of me.

1/21/17, 8:01 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Ray, granted. The people who've benefited from neoliberal policies over the last thirty years or so are facing real losses, and not all of those people are among the affluent; as with any major political realignment, people are going to be hurt who haven't done anything in particular to deserve it. What's more, I agree wholeheartedly that there should be a coherent opposition to any administration -- that's essential. I wish there were more of the thoughtful opposition I discussed in my post and less of the hysterical demonization.

Anton, that's a complex question that I'm going to have to think about, hard, before I can suggest an answer. Reflection and prediction, as opposed to reaction and the projection of wish-fulfillment fantasies, are hard work -- but I'm not at all sure that's all of it. Hmm...

Tidlösa, I rather like Pepe's Foul Minions; what's more, I suspect the Kekists will like it, too. ;-)

Kittric, they've been letting a fair number of my posts slide recently. I don't greatly mind, as their audience and mine don't have a lot in common.

Latefall, that's kind of my take on Le Pen, too, but we'll see. With regard to defense expenditures, when European nations start covering more than half of NATO's expenses, I'll gladly amend my views! The crucial point here is that we can't afford to keep paying for Europe's safety -- the US is falling apart economically. Europeans are going to have to step up to the plate, because we're broke.

Mh505, we'll see. I tend to suspect the situation with JFK was rather more complex, and ugly, than either the Warren Commission or its opponents tend to think.

RAnderson, thank you!

Emmanuel, funny. If you gave it wings, would it become a pterodactyl?

David, yep. It's rather pleasant to hear a politician talking in forthright terms about the reality I see around me every day. Every. Single. Day.

James, the alt-right may end up less than happy with the president whose victory they cheered. Still, we'll see.

Seth, I certainly don't consider Trump a particularly virtuous person, or what have you. My take, though, is that he's realized -- and more importantly, the interests who are backing him have realized -- that the working class vote in this country is potentially the backbone of a massive political coalition that could keep them in power for a good long time, so long as they give working class voters what they want. I'm perfectly willing to see a scoundrel do the right thing for a selfish reason!

Latefall, okay, that's a fair call. I should have said "many of".

Brian, the downtrodden working classes didn't get health care from the ACA -- they got mandatory double-digit cost increases every year for plans with deductibles and co-pays so high they couldn't afford to use the coverage they were required by law to have. People out here in flyover country are already celebrating Trump's executive order suspending the penalty for not having insurance -- that means they'll have some hundreds of dollars more this year to try to make ends meet. As for whether Trump's attempts to bring jobs back to America will fail, we'll see, but the US built its industrial economy behind trade barriers, you know; there's at least some chance he'll succeed -- and if that happens, and we see a significant improvement in economic conditions in non-coastal America, what will you say then?

1/21/17, 8:07 PM

onething said...
Hello doubting Thomas,

About prosecuting whistleblowers, I thought the president actually had a lot of choice but most of that comment was quotes from the article I linked to. I'm not entirely sure how it works.
As to Ron Paul, yes he was a Republican and even a libertarian. I don't get the point about him being therefore restricted by the two party system? And I agree with you that the people in general are too given to default programming, but to discount the power of the media would be to hold a very high bar – perhaps almost a revolutionary bar. He did incredibly well with the young who had a relationship with him via internet and who also supported his campaign financially in a grassroots way. There were lots of excellent youtube videos of him speaking. He and they took it pretty far. But to be excluded from debates meant he simply didn't have the ability to get his message out. And when he was doing well in the primaries, as we watched the actual returns on some website, the media simply didn't talk about it, more or less ignoring him. This made it very difficult.

I sometimes have this eery feeling that “they” (ha, ha) have been doing an ongoing experiment in societal control in which they played hardball in the USSR and softball here. Here, it's like the proverbial frog getting into pleasant water and the heat is turned up exquisitely slowly. It is true that our media was controlled even 100 years ago, but nothing like now and it must be disconcerting for the older generations to come to terms with how unreliable it has become.

1/21/17, 8:47 PM

Shane W said...
I just want to chime in to agree with Matt and Varun's comments regarding Dammerung and white working class identity. I also want to agree w/those who feel that they are politically adrift right now.

1/21/17, 8:48 PM

onething said...
While I'm pontificating on the media, I've decided it is useful to dust off the old theory of projection which, in this case, seems to manifest out of a deep soul need to speak truth or something. Take nearly every accusation and simply realize that they are speaking about themselves.

Interfering in the elections and government of other countries? Check.
Have leaders of other countries who are our puppets? Check.
Russia threatening aggression toward little nations? Hmmm. Who does that?
Engaging in terrorism? Check.
Hate speech? Check.
And so on.

1/21/17, 8:53 PM

Dammerung said...
@Scotlyn - When I say "Hitler did nothing wrong," I'm not trying to make a statement of fact. Indeed, I'm not even making a value judgment. I say it because it's a memetically powerful idea that's survived for over a decade on the most brutal proving ground for propaganda in the history of the world. I was a student of Scott Adams over the course of the past year. He did teach me a lot, but what he really did is help me put into words unconscious ideas that I already had from being immersed in chan culture for so long. Saying that is a cognitive dissonance trigger. It puts people momentarily off-guard because you don't expect anyone to ever say anything like that. To put it in hacking terminology, it puts people into buffer overflow, and you can run unsigned code on their hardware while they're busy trying to emotionally process the gall.

To try to answer the rest of your question, I am deeply unsatisfied with the way my nation handles citizenship, and I have a great deal of talent to propagandize against it so I do. I'm sick of illegals running for the border so they can give birth on our side of the line and have me and my tax dollars go to pay for it. These are people who have no roots in this country, whose ancestors did nothing to build it, and whom are not of our blood and whom have no claim to our soil. I'm tired of diversity. I'm tired of diversity bidding up rent; depressing wages; and breaking into my car. I think the benefits of diversity belong in the same garbage bin as the myth of progress. What we believed to be a panacea was actually a poison.

I'd also like to thank our host. Very, very few venues are willing to allow a discussion like this to take place nowadays. It's not politic. I've got this funny idea that anything that isn't said somewhere might as well be illegal to say, and the more I see talk that used to be common sense 100 years ago and common-place 40 years ago pushed out of the national conversation entirely, the more I think that there's something in it that needs to be said. Chan culture is a kind of Samizdat. We live in a society that has made the everyday feelings of regular folk, in all their majesty and their prejudice, into something people are terrified to express.

1/21/17, 9:48 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Patricia, that's an interesting analysis. I'm not sure I buy the Kaiser Wilhelm comparison, all things considered -- Trump is far better at shameless self-promotion of a kind that suggests a very different kind of big ego -- but I won't argue at all about Obama; he'd have made a much better president in a time of relative peace and stability. As for the faux-magical thinking surrounding Hillary Clinton -- yeah, I could definitely see that.

Donald, thank you. I've been trying to point that out for a while now, with no apparent success; maybe they'll listen when you say it.

RUKidding, the reason I'm feeling relatively confident about Trump just now is that the bar is so low. The last three presidents we've had have done so much damage to this country by their pursuit of neoliberal economics and (in the last two cases) neoconservative foreign policies that a president who did nothing would be a noticeable improvement. As it is, Trump has already axed the ACA mandate penalty, which was hurting a lot of working class Americans; he seems to be quite serious about backing away from a war with Russia over Syria, and letting the nations of Europe pay for their own defense for a change; and if he follows through on his promise to impose import tariffs, the kind of sensible trade barriers that helped create the US industrial economy in the first place, why, he'll have done much more to help ordinary Americans than all three of his predecessors put together.

Ed-M, fair enough. I've spent so much time battering the pseudoconservatives over the last ten years that I figured it wasn't necessary to reiterate that this time; still, I could certainly have included some stunning examples of Republican class bigotry while I was at it.

Esn, if I understand correctly, the reason the Russians are on edge over our missile installations in eastern Europe is that those same missiles can be used offensively as surface-to-surface missiles, for a first-strike capability aimed at the Russian nuclear arsenal. If we move them back to our side of the pond, they're far enough away that Russia's missile-defense systems would have a good shot at taking tham out -- while they could still provide antimissile defense for our side. To my mind, moving them to North America is a win-win situation, and if Trump can include that in a grand bargain that cuts both sides' nuclear arsenals to a few hundred warheads -- still more than enough to cause the other side to cease to exist as a functioning nation, which is why China's kept their arsenal at that level -- that would be a win-win deal for everybody on the planet.

None, all I can say is that I live in the rust belt and what you're saying doesn't match my experience. What's more, has it occurred to you -- or to the people who are making those claims about Trump and the working class -- that Trump and the people who are backing him know perfectly well that they have to deliver on at least some of their promises to the working class in order to win the 2018 and 2020 elections? To my mind, the Democrats are whistling past the graveyard when they insist that "of course" Trump will betray his supporters. If he doesn't, after all, they're facing massive headwinds in their attempt to reverse the steep decline in Democratic Party office holders since 2008.

Wendy, I didn't see it; I'll see if I can find a transcript. I'd be surprised, though, if anything Schumer said wasn't in bad taste!

1/21/17, 11:39 PM

Bob said...
JMG, I've noticed that the United States has been losing the wars it engages in. Perhaps a substandard military is less of a problem than having to control the outcome of a war. This is a lesson the US seems unable to learn, but perhaps China, Russia and Europe can avoid making similar mistakes.

There is no global empire to defend, merely spheres of influence. It is possible to strengthen and maintain these spheres through economic development and trade. This is a more sensible approach than laying waste to other lands in a futile attempt to dominate them militarily. The US has become, in the eyes of many people around the world, a rogue state. You have become a threat to peace.

I have not seen a pledge to reduce American military spending. You're supposedly broke and unable to provide for Europe's "defense", yet there's every indication that any savings from cutting NATO will be redirected towards new projects, such as expanding the navy.

1/22/17, 12:02 AM

John Michael Greer said...
Gottfried, not at all. Remember that your country's actions don't take place in a vacuum; there are also neighboring countries, which may be inspired to consider invading you if you let your guard down far enough to make that a paying proposition. Just at the moment, nuclear weapons put sharp limits on the possibility of invading those countries that have them, but non-nuclear nations have to consider the possibility of war with their neighbors.

Punditus, "the Dickensian working conditions of the top 10%"??? Come out to flyover country sometime and let me show you what real Dickensian conditions look like!

Cat, that cut in mortgage insurance rates was part of an ongoing attempt to reinflate a housing bubble like the one that popped in 2008-9. The last thing we need right now is another incentive for people who can't afford real estate to buy it anyway!

Cherokee, no, I'd missed that! Thank you -- and I think you're quite right about the Eurozone. Long messy implosion beginning in 3, 2, 1...

Marissa, I haven't read Bourdieu. Can you recommend a good work of his to start with, in either English or French?

Vesta, yep. You really can't make this stuff up, can you?

SCA Heretic, fair enough. To me, it seems even more shrill than the caterwauling of the GOP when Obama won, but I suppose that could be a matter of what I've seen compared to what you've seen.

Cortes, class bigotry is a large part of it, but it's also relevant that many of the people who make up the Guardian's main audience have done very well by the neoliberal consensus of the last thirty years or so, and they've got to be in shock that the gravy train is coming to an end so abruptly.

Jay, what can I say, other than that I've considered the claims you've made, and find them unconvincing?

Hadend, the numbers say that when suitably massaged, sure.

Allie, as I've noted here already, the thing you need to keep in mind is that Trump and the people who are backing him are capable of learning from Obama's mistakes. They know what happens if you win the presidency promising change, and then don't deliver. That's why I think we're going to see the Trump administration go out of its way to make sure at least some of its major promises are kept. Of course they're not going to do anything that will cut into their own profits, but there's a lot of room for change even with that stipulation. Steve Bannon in particular seems to be up on the cycles of American history I've discussed here using the old Greek terminology of anacyclosis -- he's supposed to be using Strauss and Howe's generational theory as his template, in which case he'll see this election as the opportunity for a massive realignment in American politics which could leave the Democrats and the Republican pseudoconservatives alike hung out to dry for decades. If Trump just does another four years of business as usual, that's not going to happen -- and all the evidence I've seen suggests that both Bannon and Trump are aware of that. But we'll see, of course...

1/22/17, 12:05 AM

John Michael Greer said...
Robert, yep. You might find this article useful.

Wendy, yep also. It's going to be colorful.

Bill, well, I'm sorry you feel that way; you've been an asset to the commentariat. That said, I noted in so many words that there are valid reasons to criticize Trump, and tried to differentiate that from the hate speech that's being flung at Trump and the people who voted for him by the privileged end of the left; if you can't or won't hear that, then yeah, you should probably go somewhere else.

DoubtingThomas, thank you for finally commenting on my current post; as I note above the comment box, I respond to comments to the current week's post only, so your various comments on old posts are going to go unanswered. It's always possible to dismiss an essay of modest length as "simplistic," meaning that it doesn't cover every conceivable detail of the case it makes; you might want to go back and read my earlier posts on politics and Trump's rise to power if you want to understand what I'm saying here. As for your substantive points, sure, it's always convenient to insist that the people on the losing end of a political-economic shift are responsible for their own predicament; so? Other than distracting attention from those who pushed that shift and profited from it, this doesn't seem useful to me. As the pendulum swings the other way and the classes that benefited from the global economy lose out in the years ahead, will you agree that they, rather than Trump et al., are responsible for their own difficulties?

Your other comments have been answered in previous posts already and I don't propose to rehash those points here.

Nuku, I'd say you collapsed well ahead of the rush!

Onething, yep.

Fred, good! That's a very good point, of course -- and it also shows that another of Spengler's predictions has come true. He argued that as Western ("Faustian") culture fossilized into its final form, ideology would give way to personality, and the final struggles of our culture would be fought by people who had no idea why they were fighting, and were simply for this person and against that one. Here we are...

August, so noted. I saw a lot of vitriol flung at Obama online, but you may be right that I was missing the worst of it. As for singling out the left, though, I've belabored the pseudoconservative right at great length here; it so happens that the idiocies of the one side have gotten more recent attention than those of the other, but that's the nature of a commentary on current events.

EnergyLens, fascinating! Thanks for posting that.

Nastarana, hmm! Fascinating. That does make a lot of sense of things.

Onething, I know. Eight years of watching Democrats excuse Obama for everything they denounced in George W. Bush left me unable to believe that the American left actually takes any of its highly touted values seriously.

1/22/17, 12:46 AM

John Michael Greer said...
Nastarana, good! The nation-state's a very resilient structure, which is why it's replaced every other form of human political organization. No doubt it'll eventually be displaced by some other, even more resilient form in the future, but we've already seen what happens when multinational corporations go head to head with a nation-state that's well enough armed to keep regime change off the table -- think Russia in Putin's first term -- and it's not especially promising for the multinationals. One thing that's often forgotten is that we had an earlier era of free trade and open borders in the late 19th century, and plenty of people were convinced that it was the wave of the future and such inconveniences as war had been rendered impossible by the pervasive power of business. 1914 showed just how much truth that claim had...

Caryn, as I said in my post, there's a lot more to class than income, but income makes a workable ostensive marker. I'm a bit unsettled that you would label the women you talked to "brutish," by the way, just because their attitudes differ from yours!

Carl, here again, it's impressive in a bleak sort of way how quickly the left ditches its supposed ideals under stress. That said, punching an alt-right activist in the face may not be that wise an idea; I suspect the alt-right will respond in kind, and escalate.

Matt, understood. I tolerate a very wide range of ideas here, but as you'll have noticed, I've asked the handful of alt-right readers here to stay a little more on topic and a little further away from the issues you've indicated.

Varun, I hope you're wrong -- and I note that the alt-right people I've met aren't working class at all, they're the same sort of downwardly mobile middle class that usually produces disaffected intelligentsia. Still, we'll see.

Clarence, every time I post an essay that has people yelling at me, my readership goes up, and so do donations to the tip jar. The people who get offended by the kinds of things that I like to talk about are a much smaller fraction of my readership, and of blogosphere readers in general, than I think they realize.

Escher, that seems sensible to me. My guess is that by the time the current round of political realignment is over, the Democrats will be the conservative party, demanding a return to a neoconservative imperial foreign policy and trickle-up economics to benefit the salary class, while the GOP will be a populist party advocating trade barriers, less foreign entanglement, and economic policies that put the wage class first. As for discharging student loans by bankruptcy, absolutely -- that would be the simplest and most effective way to let air out of the student loan bubble and get money back into the productive economy.

Donalfagan, now go back and read the places in my post where I explicitly said there were valid reasons to criticize Trump.

LatheChuck, that certainly improved my mood! Thank you.

1/22/17, 1:04 AM

Somewhatstunned said...
@ Bill Pulliam @ Ray Wharton

Can I second Ray's comment? Please don't go away, you're always interesting (and I'm also a fan of Big Whiskers!)

1/22/17, 1:10 AM

John Michael Greer said...
Justin, so noted -- but it was still off topic. (And your attempted repost was also deleted. When I say that a topic is closed, I mean that, and will enforce it.)

LatheChuck, excellent! Yes, Berne's book would be a very helpful introduction to contemporary politics; I also recommend Claude Steiner's Scripts People Live, which covers a great deal of closely related ground.

Ray, to my mind that makes a huge amount of sense. Thank you.

The other Tom, and just how does that differentiate him from Hillary Clinton, or the rest of the US political class?

Shane, so noted. I hope you don't feel any particular interest in drifting in a Kekward direction, though!

Onething, true enough!

Bob, imperial overstretch is a commonplace of world history. A military that's more than adequate to dissuade other countries from hostile acts may not be enough to win wars of choice against other peoples on their own ground. As for America's bankruptcy, I won't argue that an oversized navy is a bad place to sink the funds saved by letting Europe pay for its own defense; the fact that I see some reason to hope for some positive changes out of the new administration doesn't blind me to its adherence to policies I see as deeply mistaken. (As I noted many times during the campaign, there are tens of thousands of American citizens better suited to be president than Donald Trump; it's just that Hillary Clinton wasn't one of them.)

1/22/17, 1:14 AM

Cherokee Organics said...
Bill Pulliam,

You and I have had our differences in the past. Fair enough, we can't all get along and we will never all agree. That is life. However, I value your input, your point of view, and your voice.

Mate, I don't want to belabour an issue and it is definitely not criticising the point that you made, but very few people talk any sense at all about the issues surrounding: climate change, government lands, minorities, immigration, women, and constitutional freedoms. So of course, we are not all going to agree and sure I don't agree with everything written here either.

Like you, I live in a small rural community. Most of the people I like, however a minority of them I don't really care for that much and I'd be happy if them and their opinions were elsewhere. But you know what? I've learned how to get along with them. How to disagree with them. How to fight them. And basically how to live with them when I know they mean me no good. That is what it is like to be an adult.

Taking your bat and ball and sulking your socks off in the corner is something else altogether. And despite our differences I for one would miss your erudite opinions.


1/22/17, 2:10 AM

Scotlyn said...
@dammerung - thanks for giving such a refreshingly honest account.

You say: "These are people who have no roots in this country, whose ancestors did nothing to build it, and whom are not of our blood and whom have no claim to our soil. I'm tired of diversity."

I put it to you that the last line of your quote invalidates any claim you yourself might make to "soil" "ancestors" "building" or "roots" in America. Unless your ancestry is 100% native, then it is plain that your claim rests among those of immigrants (like my own immigrant ancestors who settled in New England in 1640 and in Virginia in 1659). And no immigrant ethnicity or race in America has a claim greater than any other. The immigrants who built the US, and their descendants, were and are ethnically, racially, religiously, and culturally diverse. If you dispense with diversity, you may as well dispense with any just claim to your stake in American soil. You simply can't make that claim.

As to people "dashing across the border" are you aware that before there were borders, there was a settled Spanish-speaking colony that comprised what is now Mexico, California, New Mexico and Arizona as a single cultural linguistic entity? Those people and their connections with each other, and with that "soil" predate several iterations of that border, and the fact their connections and movements survive despite the border's current configuration is another one of those quirky American realities that *make us who we are*.

You are positioned to make good propaganda, and I hear you saying you wish to make war on who we are, and I foresee your war may ultimately be prosecuted against any red-haired, white-skinned daughters or granddaughters of mine who shall presume to choose a mate from among men of different so-called "phenotypes"?

Have you asked yourself whose freedom you are prepared to restrict in order to breed your blue-eyed progeny?

1/22/17, 3:33 AM

Scotlyn said...
@onething Like I said, I am broadly in agreement with your assessment of the state of play in what passes for a healthcare system. I just think examples you use should be robust enough to survive scrutiny.

1/22/17, 3:36 AM

DoubtingThomas said...
@onething: As an external observer it seems to me that the two party system is so corrupted and manipulated that any attempt of a break away movement would be stillborn. That is what I meant by being restricted by the two party system.

1/22/17, 3:43 AM

MichaelK said...
I don't think RT is all that different from the western media, but being a Russian news source, it is, different, but should one expect anything else, is there only one 'right' way to see or report on the world?

Isn't it just a little bit arrogant to assume that RT is pure Kremlin propaganda, but the BBC, the Washington Post and the New York Times, aren't full of 'propaganda' too? The main difference being that we agree with it and don't define it as state propaganda? The best programmes on RT are made by Europeans and Americans and have a host of Americans on as guests and they have very lively debates. But it's true, these Americans could be described as 'dissidents' and critics of aspects of US society and foreing policy, but does that label automatically mean they aren't 'real Americans' or stooges of the Kremlin?

I take RT with a large pinch of salt, but I do that with all news media. RT's real 'crime' can be boiled down to the fact that it doesn't accept American leadership and the American 'framing' of news and current affairs. Don't people have the right to disagree with the way Washington sees the world? Doesn't the election of Trump indicate that tens of millions of ordinary Americans are probably just as critical of Washington's agenda as many Russians are?

1/22/17, 4:07 AM

DoubtingThomas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

1/22/17, 4:13 AM

Scotlyn said...
@dammerung One other thing, if I may. It strikes me that if you make propaganda war on who we are, it is because you do not know who *you* are. You do not know who you can be. You don't know your own potential, whether for good or evil. Until you know that, you will be futilely possessed by defining who you are not.

You have potential, therefore I have hope.

1/22/17, 4:21 AM

Fred the First said...
So the women's marches on Saturday....does it occur to you as "we just don't like this guy" as the reason for the march? I read some of the coverage and it sounds like the reasons to protest were diverse and people just came out in their pink pu**y hats to be seen. It was only my white salary class friends who went - mostly doctors interestingly - and marched with hats. Maybe all those years of medical school they enjoyed a body part knitted cap. Anyway the women's march looked like the upper 10% protesting that they just don't like Trump.

It stirred a long conversation between my husband and I about what was happening. My husband doesn't like Trump and it comes down to his apparent lack of intelligence, inability to talk like a president, and not surrounding himself with experienced political types. He's convinced Trump will get us into WW3 be sending the wrong tweet. My husband doesn't read ADR, along I've shared with him and read aloud some of your thinking. He works at a major financial services firm and all the hours spent there has his brain awash in politically correct corporate thinking and its hard for him to see Trump in a different light.

It was a good discussion and I pointed out that with Trump its important to separate what he says from actual actions. He says a lot of words and they are like fireworks for people. But look at what he is actually doing and stay focused on that. When he spent most of his campaign time flying in the Trump jet to rural cities, and just talking to people in regular words, that sealed the election for him. He talked to regular people and didn't surround himself with political operatives. No wonder Washington hates him.

In other random news, Disney World has added Imperial Stormtroopers marching down the streets of ones of its parks as entertainment. I can't help but think Disney is making a political statement with that.

1/22/17, 4:21 AM

DoubtingThomas said...
@JMG: Yes I would agree that everyone ( including Trump not "rather than Trump et al." ) is responsible for whatever happens next, just as they are all responsible for what lead to now. I doubt I would ever agree that one side is completely responsible for anything. It takes the participation ( and non-articipation ) of all parties for a situation to manifest. I tend to stay away from losing/winning/victim/abuser language since it leads to disempowered/victimised ways of thinking [ i.e. ways of thinking that promote inaction of an individual to effect change in their situation or much more crudely put people who do nothing to help themselves and blame their abusers/the winners for their lot. ] Absolutely, there has been deliberate actions taken to attempt to engineer the current situation but I am also saying that those on the receiving end of those actions have allowed it to come to pass - over a long time line. If someone doesn't like their situation then I feel it is much better for them to look at what they can do to improve it perhaps with the help of like minded people ( and whatever support systems are available ). If someone wants a different situation for themselves then they need to change their way of thinking rather than expecting someone else to change for them.

I did read some of your earlier Trump related posts and as I said in my comment I agreed with ( so liked ) a lot of it. I'll go further now and say they gave me pause for thought and much useful material with which to refine my own perspective. Not to worry about my earlier comments on prior posts I wasn't really expecting any responses. 😀 I appreciated they were old but I still felt the need to respond :) - it must be a job of work to keep up with just the latest material. I am still working my way through your time line. There is much I like and some I don't but thats ok - life would be rather dull if we all agreed.

My responses are also simplistic John. I have to operate within the limits of 4096 characters and as I tend to the verbose I struggle to nuance appropriately. It often takes me 10-20 attempts to get a comment to post - frequently running in to the size limits or blogger http error responses on a white screen... I remember one of your prior posts you mentioned the possibility of migrating to a new provider. Happy to advise if you wish 😀 you already have my email address. I recently emailed you about your books via the aodb.

1/22/17, 5:00 AM

DoubtingThomas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

1/22/17, 5:27 AM

Patricia Mathews said...
@JMG - I know why Caryn thought of her co-workers as "brutish" and not merely "because their attitudes differed from hers." Because she saw their attitudes as a gut-level danger to her physically. If women consider sexual assault and beatings as normal, and objecting to it as being a spoiled snowflake, then it's open season on not only them, but her as well. And she was not reared to it being open season on any woman, any more than I was.

I remember a survey once which asked men and women what they were most afraid of from the opposite sex. Which side said "physical violence" and which side said "being laughed at"?

And remember, even women with combat training are, on the average, at a disadvantage against men determined to hurt them. Especially men who think it's their right. And if the women around those men think it's their right ... I, for one, would be scared witless to be among the males of that culture. Or sub-culture.

Lower-middle-class-reared time-traveling snowflake who realizes why liberal women are terrified of working-class men - if this is indeed their attitude. Which in my day was a stereotype .... aaah, too many ins and outs to deal with at this hour. But do realize where a lot of women today are coming from, and why it matters.

1/22/17, 6:06 AM

David, by the lake said...

It is interesting to note the proliferation of the idea that "when Trump fails and his promises prove empty," all of those "unthinking" (to use the more charitable language) working/wage class voters will come back to the Democrats. Is it not a fundamental axiom that if your strategy is premised on your opponent failing, then you've already lost? It is way early yet, and perhaps a leftward populist movement may develop, but so far, I am not seeing the kind of acceptance of the facts-on-the-ground (with corresponding realization for the need for change) necessary for an effective response.

1/22/17, 6:08 AM

Nastarana said...
Dear Bob, about anti war, I have seen what I consider a quite remarkable change in attitude on the rightward end of American politics. You may not remember that the same sorts of people who were voting for the likes of Reagan were flag waving proponents of American interventionism; now the many of the same kinds of voters are all for staying home.

About an expanded navy, what I have seen referenced are proposals to discard carriers in favor of smaller, more mobile vessels which would be deployed mostly in American waters. We do have a right and necessity, as a sovereign nation, to defend our own borders, including from the murderous drug trade and from uninvited migrations.

Mr. Greer, the posting of outrageous statements is a familiar rightist takeover tactic. I, and I am sure, you and others here, have seen this movie before. This peaceful little erudite backwater of a blog seems to have ruffled a lot of feathers in many different quarters lately.

1/22/17, 6:15 AM

chemalfait said...
I've come to a new definition of politics- "one group complaining about another group for doing the same things they do"

1/22/17, 6:18 AM

August Johnson said...
JMG - Why is it that almost every time I read your blog, I find another book that I have to read? :-)

I don't disagree that some things will happen during Trump's term that need to happen, but that they'll be pretty much accidental. You're right, that it's completely unnecessary to start re-inflating the housing bubble. It may seem like it hurts some people, but it prevents a bigger mess in the near future. But I really don't see that the motive for the action is to achieve that end result, after all Trump has announced major increases in Military spending and I think any savings are intended to be spent there.

It was really disappointing (disgusting?) to hear that Trump had requested a major Military Show of Force for the Inauguration Parade, tanks and all, luckily that he was turned down by the Military both on the grounds that it wasn't such a good idea to see tanks rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue and that the tanks would do major damage to the pavement.

You said " I'm perfectly willing to see a scoundrel do the right thing for a selfish reason!" I wish I could be as "hopeful" about this as you but, at least in my experience, those hoping for this usually get royally screwed by the scoundrel. At least unless you're one of the scoundrel's crooked buddies!

1/22/17, 6:35 AM

Scotlyn said...
@JMG to continue with my earlier thought, this post, and the general trend of anti-bigitry discourse, tends to assume that fear and hate are drivers of oppression, whereas I see them as consequences, or symptoms of the process of divide-to-conquer. Fear and hate are expressions of impotence, and when they are being stirred up, someone, somewhere is stirring, purposely using stereotypes you can always find lying around, to weaponise a mob mostly aware of its impotence. Those who are moved by fear and hate are more likely to be the gun than the shooter.

1/22/17, 6:52 AM

August Johnson said...
JMG - In addition, it's Trump's comments like this that don't make me hopeful that we'll see much of the things necessary to improve the lot of the working class. The working class will be the ones paying for this, like all similar past "adventures". When I see this I keep thinking it's like us saying "What's our oil doing under their land? How dare they want it!"
In unprepared remarks introducing his pick to lead the intelligence agency, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), Trump told CIA officials that when the United States went into Iraq, we should have “kept the oil.”

“Now I said it for economic reasons,” Trump said. “But if you think about it, Mike, if we kept the oil, you probably wouldn’t have ISIS because that’s where they made their money in the first place, so we should have kept the oil. But, OK, maybe we’ll have another chance.”

1/22/17, 7:12 AM

Caryn said...

Thank You for your response.

But to clarify: "I'm a bit unsettled that you would label the women you talked to "brutish," by the way, just because their attitudes differ from yours! "

I wrote: "Their lives and worlds really are, what I would consider, brutish.", "...this brutish world-view..."

1) I never labeled THEM as brutish, but I'm sorry, I cannot think of any other word that can describe what these women have lived through, so consistently and ubiquitously that they display this immune nonchalant acceptance of it. Incidentally, have become fairly good friends with 2 of these women, (1 not-so-much, for unrelated reasons.) The 2 that are my friends I know are strong, generous, humorous...all the things one could hope to look for in a friend and I support them whole-heartedly. I cannot feel acceptance, only intense rage and sadness at all they've been through.

2) "... a bit unsettled..." Well, YES! I found more than a BIT unsettling not only that they had gone through these abuses and witnessed more abuses around them, to such a degree that they seem to find it normal.

3) "...just because their attitudes differ from yours! " I'm a little flabbergasted here. OK, I'm the first to admit, I've been away from the USA for 21 years and it's changed a LOT since I lived here, (I'm less than 6 months back and this happened in 2 different states); but are you actually indicating this is just another alternative lifestyle? That they've suffer these multiple traumas, that this abuse and behaviour is so ubiquitous, they've come to accept it as ho-hum and normal?
I do understand it happens, and across any socio-cutural-economic spectrum. I've just not experienced it being so accepted as 'differing attitudes'.

I mean - IS it normal? Or do you mean something else that I'm just not getting? It's kind of freaking me out and I'm trying to understand. I don't get it.

1/22/17, 7:42 AM

Karen said...
If what I'm about to ask has been addressed already, please forgive me. My greatest fear with the Trump administration is Mike Pence, particularly his role as transition team leader. He is stuffing the cabinet and advisory positions with Christian fundamentalists. Betsy DeVos, sister of Erik Prince, Rick Perry, Ben Carson, etc. Their domestic and foreign agenda(particularly regarding Islam and Jerusalem) seems to be taken from their interpretation of the Bible. Admittedly, several of the other Republican candidates would likely have had similar cabinet picks. I am interested in your thoughts on how their influence might play out with Trump's stated goals.

1/22/17, 8:03 AM

Bob said...
JMG, by the same token there are thousands of people in Europe who would make better leaders than the current lot. Ditching NATO and restoring relations with Russia could be an opportunity to change geopolitics for the better. Europe shrugging off America would limit the number of wars of choice by the world's remaining overreacher. Sorry to say I don't expect Europe's leaders to rise to the occasion.

In retrospect, it is Trump's slogan of boosting America's military that disturbs me the most. It makes little sense in light of his focus on domestic issues and disentanglement from foreign debacles. Hopefully it is just bluff and bluster. What is truly breathtaking, from an outsider's perspective, is the belief that America is god's gift to the world.

1/22/17, 8:25 AM

Owen said...
As a counter thought experiment, I suggest you try to bring up a class-consciousness discussion on one of the /pol/ boards and see where it leads you.

And perhaps you'll understand why the denizens of /pol/ don't really talk about class that much. They just don't think in that way. These are not the people who sit in cafes and endlessly smoke tobacco and drink endless cups of coffee while talking about political theory. Different era, different way of thinking.

Keep in mind in the *chan world, it's the memes that matter and talk about class just becomes another meme. And if nobody's willing to propagate the meme, then it quickly gets dropped.

Who knows why certain memes propagate and some - do not. But there's no point in trying to force a meme - people quickly pick up on forced memes and shun them even more once they're perceived to be such.

In some ways the overt and explicit offensiveness and taboo celebration is a defense against commercialization and corporatization. No megacorp wants anything to do with what goes on in /pol/, and for that reason you can be guaranteed a measure of authenticity that's absent in most other venues. If /pol/ was sufficiently inoffensive, it would be co-opted in fairly short order and then become uninteresting to most.

1/22/17, 9:07 AM

Moshe Braner said...
Scotlyn: all those additional expenses help explain some of the extra cost of an ambulance ride ($1500 or so around here) relative to, say, a taxi. Add another $2000 or so for helicopter maintenance etc. That still leaves $26,000 unexplained... Greed, on the other hand, can explain any charge, even the $84,000 pill.

1/22/17, 10:07 AM

Owen said...
>punching an alt-right activist in the face may not be that wise an idea; I suspect the alt-right will respond in kind, and escalate.

Actually no. They respond asymmetrically. What they did do, to the guy who punched him was to track down and publish who he was and find every picture of him they could get on the internet.

They *know* that the SJWs are expecting them to respond with violence. Remember, the whole world is watching in this era. And everyone has their camera phone out.

I think the guy who did the punching was a bit on the old side, and probably doesn't understand the realities of the present. Younger people on both poles of this new duality do understand - and when they engage in conflict, they tend to get out their camera phones and then proceed to yell at each other without engaging in violence. Again, the world is watching...

1/22/17, 10:08 AM

jeffinwa said...
Trump Inaugural Address transcript available here:

Have to admit it was most refreshing imo.

1/22/17, 10:25 AM

onething said...
Ray Wharton,

Very interesting. Your schema seems to fit.

Other Tom,

"What sets Trump apart from any other politician I can think of is that he is a man who has never had to face consequences."

Funny that. I'd say the whole elite cohort that have gotten away with illegal doings have set things up amongst themselves so that they don't have to face consequences, and Ms Clinton is very much one of them. In fact, it is an accusation against her I've seen written many times. If it's not the way she was raised, so much the worse for her.

"protect him from the consequences of grabbing women, "

I don't really know but I don't guess he has anything like the history of real aggression toward women that our Bill has, but as far as that comment, I'm up to here with it. What Trump actually said was (paraphrasing) "Holy cow! When you're a rich and famous TV celebrity, and IN THAT MUILEU, you can do anything to the women and they don't get offended!" Which is, uh, true. I'm sick of the male bashing and women can do whatever they want. Men like good looking young women, ain't nothin' gonna change that, and women like money and power. NOT everyone - but enough to make a fair stereotype.

If that's all you've got he's pretty clean. Compared to the scuttlebutt on Ms. Hillary, they're not even in the same league. And now a bunch of them went and wore pink pu-kittyhats on their heads in a parade about nothing. I am so ashamed.

"Sorry, all you Trump supporters and apologists but I think your intuition is impaired here."

Actually, my intuition is pretty nervous. But there was no one else.

"This is not even so much a matter of political positions but of entrusting our security to someone with a cool head and knowledge beyond his own interests,"

I agree he's volatile, but Hillary was called extremely reckless by the FBI. And in my opinion, although I am sure she was also speaking for her handlers, her intention to bait Russia into war was not exactly a cool head.

"The thought of an impulsive, overconfident man who does not have to read briefings being Commander in Chief scares the hell out of me."

I heard that Hillary fell asleep right during the Bengazi affair when she was supposed to be handling it. Her competence is a myth I'm afraid.

1/22/17, 12:09 PM

Kimberly said...
I agree that classism is a major factor in American political discourse right now, and it is one that no one dares name. However, class encompasses an entire culture of its own. Donald Trump may be extremely wealthy, but he has retained the tastes of a blue collar person, like eating McDonalds. Therefore I think the issue is much more complex than one's literal socioeconomic class. People have a class identity beyond what their income may determine.

I disagree, however, that class bias is the motivating factor behind the outrage and protests. Most of the people I know personally who voted for Trump are middle class or upper middle class, or even extremely wealthy. They do not represent the aforementioned blue collar culture at all. Many of them are one-issue voters or devoted Republicans who have fully bought into the Red Team vs. Blue Team mentality. I work in a high-poverty area, and quite frankly, I can't blame them for voting for the person who claimed he might bring the factory back to their town from Mexico. That alone would be the logical thing for anyone to do under the circumstances, and I can even understand turning a blind eye to some of Trump's flaws.

However, as an earlier commenter posted, there is a real tendency in rural manufacturing communities to see the "other" as the problem, and to direct prejudice downward rather than upward. It is the Mexicans coming for our jobs who are the problem, they would claim. (In the 1930s, it was African Americans.) I think what frustrates many observers is that the economic forces at work are far more complicated than people with a different skin color showing up and wanting a job. Blowing out someone else's candle is not a good way to make your light shine brighter, as they say. The answer is not simply to create another class below the ones we have so that everyone gets a higher rank. I am not suggesting that the Democrats advocated a better solution -- they didn't -- but the mentality on the right that anyone outside the center of the bell curve of society is responsible for our problems (essentially xenophobia) is frightening and illogical. This is why people are allegedly "biased" against the blue collar class.

Then there is the issue of Trump's very evident mental instability and his moral bankruptcy, both of which were papered over or excused by people who claim to believe in "family values." If he had been a typical, mentally stable Republican campaigning on a populist platform, and he held a consistent set of values, I do not think that you would see this degree of backlash, regardless of class considerations.

1/22/17, 12:32 PM

Ed-M said...

Well I'm going to have to add another qualifier to my first comment in this thread. The shock and reaction to Trump's minority popular vote electoral majority election wasn't just among the salary-class liberals -- their captive constituencies, i.e., most of each of the LGBTs, Blacks, Latinos, East and South Asians, American Indians, Women, Scientists (not JUST Climate Scientists -- the rest science not marginalized by the government will now be TOTALLY corrupted by the large corporations or as if it's not bad enough already), etc., have expressed a lot of fear from the results of this election and Bill Pulliam had to remind you of this, as he closed the screen door on his way out.

"Ed-M, fair enough. I've spent so much time battering the pseudoconservatives over the last ten years that I figured it wasn't necessary to reiterate that this time; still, I could certainly have included some stunning examples of Republican class bigotry while I was at it. "

Could have? SHOULD have included BOTH, JMG! You should also have addressed the fearful constituencies. The angry hatred of the pseudoliberals/pseudoprogressives unfortunately has taken front and center because the Lamestream Media has put the fears expressed by their captive constituencies I mentioned above under a cone of silence.

Two post-mortems on the Democratic Party -- they are the new Whigs for they have not learned a g-----n thing.

1/22/17, 1:50 PM

Ed-M said...
Varun (1/21/17, 1:06 PM),

"What is frightening to many people, myself included, is that the sentiment of the nascent white working class political identity is blatantly exclusionary of other political identities. Meaning that there seems to be little space in the world they are trying to create for the existence of Indian, Black, Latino, or others. Even worse their sentiment is echoed by people who have the power, both legal and financial, to implement this exclusive system. Those of us in minority communities do not know if this new political identity is a threat to us, or is just finding its place. Until we know we are going to be on guard. It would be much easier to know the intentions of this new political identity if its members didn’t insist in parading around in the symbols and rhetoric of a group of people who were violently xenophobic."

I hear you. The white working class (well those who didn't stay home or voted Dem) are also Christian and the Christian Right, b/c The Donald pick Pence for impeachment insurance, are in the catbird's seat to appeal to their values in order to exclude us Gays, and the LBTIQs, too. I was actually impressed with Trump's overtures after the Pulse shooting and the RNC convention, but now that the White House has deleted all mention of LGBT issues from its website, I am not so sure and very wary. This will be an ugly four years no matter what. Worse if the GOP gets 2/3 majority in each house of Congress and 3/4 of the state legislatures, because then they can do whatever they want, and they'll do it, too.

1/22/17, 2:06 PM

M Smith said...
Doubting Thomas,

The president gets to pick the head of the Department of Justice as well as the head of the IRS (and they can really put 'em in a vise if they don't like you). Those appointees probably think as he does in the first place, and they know if they rock the boat, their lucrative positions are gone. So yes, he does get to pick and choose who gets prosecuted, though it's supposed to appear impartial and nonpartisan.

This president got special treatment, though, because of his skin color. Anyone who spoke against his policies was deemed a racist.

1/22/17, 2:09 PM

windjammer said...
You missed the mark on that bit about "fire-breathing activists" of the Sierra Club. It was John Muir that got that club started, and there probably wouldn't be many national parks or wild areas left without his passion, and his ally Teddy Roosevelt. Back in those days, loggers were blithely dropping ancient Redwoods 20 feet in diameter and whooping as they shattered into fence posts and kindling.

Sierra Club was also an early voice about overpopulation and uncontrollable immigration in the American southwest, since water is quite unreliable. Sensible foresight if you ask me. The "firebreathing" came from those who cannot comprehend or accept limits to growth.

1/22/17, 2:34 PM

M Smith said...
About the mortgage insurance, aka PMI:

First, thank you, JMG, for noting that it was passed Tuesday. I didn't know that it was even discussed, much less that it was smacked down. I think you nailed the reason, too.

But 0bama's move made no sense. PMI is supposed to protect some of the bank's investment in case of default. The banks are indeed courting the people who should not be homeowners for one reason or another. They are likely not to have a 20% down payment, and they are likely to dump when they default because they do not make good decisions like, "We should sell the house because we can't afford it," and instead have been trained to whine to Big Daddy Govt to "hep" them.

So why in the world is anyone trying to do away with PMI? I borrow Dave Ramsey's phrase and call PMI "a tax on stupid." Except for a change, the decision maker, not strangers, has to pay for the stupid.

1/22/17, 2:37 PM

donalfagan said...
"Donalfagan, now go back and read the places in my post where I explicitly said there were valid reasons to criticize Trump."

That's not relevant. I can't think of anyone I know who is objecting to Trump on the basis of class bigotry. I think they are generally afraid of change, but only Humpty-Dumpty would equate one with the other.

1/22/17, 2:50 PM

nuku said...
Re your thread about abused women accepting their abuse as normal:
Some years ago here in New Zealand I went to a movie called “Once Were Warriors” which depicted contemporary life in the Maori under-class (the Maori are the Polynesian settlers of NZ who predated European colonisers). Most of the audience were young teen Maori of both sexes. The movie contained a lot of domestic violence against women and children by the main male father character.
Given my middle-class Western values and world experience, it was an extremely sad upsetting movie and I came out of the theatre in tears.
To my utter surprise, the majority of the Maori audience came out laughing, pumping their fists in the air, and talking about how cool the father was “wow, did you see the way he punched her up”. In essence they saw it as an “action” movie which truly reflected their day to day experiences; to them it was a kind of celebration of their culture. So yes this acceptance/normalization of abuse does occur and not just in the USA.

1/22/17, 3:34 PM

kalaloscope said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

1/22/17, 4:00 PM

Patricia Mathews said...
@Doubting Thomas and Scotlyn - AMEN!~says this very, very late immigrant to Aztlan. Most everyone in Northern New Mexico has a longer history in this country than we Anglos and can tell you at great length if they so choose. And that's just the region I know best. Though Albuquerque is, at heart, a Rocky Mountains city, with Denver as our Big City and Los Angeles as foreign territory.

And you all know how Texas became part of the United States? A bunch of Anglo carpetbaggers kept moving in and moving in, buying property, marrying daughters of the old Mexican families, and flooded the region until they outnumbered the original inhabitants - and had more money - and then essentially took over. Which makes me wonder when I hear about how They are flooding over our Southern Border with intent to outnumber Us, if there isn't a cowboy face looking back at the speaker in the mirror. Friends, the Alamo is only part of it.

1/22/17, 4:06 PM

Patricia Mathews said...
@Jeffinwa: This is not a transcript. This is a video. A transcript is in print and can be taken in by the eye, put on a page and pasted into a notebook. A video is directed at the ear, of which I have two low-functioning specimens. I need to get hold of yesterday's WSJ, which I had a chance to do and didn't.U

Oh - everybody - the weekend USA Today published a series of "The Constitution in 140 characters" intended as a civics lesson for the president in his native language, I think. Samples: "You can be impeached." "Congress makes the laws. Congress makes the laws. Congress makes the laws." Not only amusing, but I'd give it to my youngest grandson in a moment if it were more complete.

1/22/17, 4:17 PM

Robert Mathiesen said...

Teddy Roosevelt may have felt that he was John Muir's good buddy, but Muir (ever the canny Scotsman) was doing his level best to use TR in the service of his cause, and largely succeeded. Lots and lots of Californians opposed what Muir was doing. Look into the history of California water politics and the damming of Hetch Hetchy Valley, which Muir thought was an even more sute than Yosemite Valley. Californian opposition to Muir went far beyond the lumbermen and the redwoods.

1/22/17, 4:37 PM

August Johnson said...
OK, we've learned a new synonym for Lies today. The White House calls them "Alternative Facts". From this point on I don't believe anything the White House says. Nothing.

If they'll lie on something as inconsequential and obvious as the Inauguration crowd size, and then doubles down on it when called on it will they tell the truth on anything? Will you believe the given reason when we're told we need to go to war? Need to give some more tax cuts to the rich? Build a bigger Military? Trump sure seems totally unable to tell the truth. Now we're told he never will release tax returns. That's devolved from a promise to "when the audit is done" down to a "Hell No, you're not interested"!

OK, I'm done... Trump has settled it. He's blown any chance I've given him. He's a far bigger liar than Bush/Cheney. The consequences for the country are going to be far bigger too...

I'm sorry JMG, but even though I know politicians are congenital liars, carrying the campaign lies into the day-to-day White House briefings and basically everything emanating from the White House has done it for me. He doesn't give a d**n that we know, either. We're fracked. You may hope for something positive to come from this scoundrel, but I think you're far, far too much of an optimist.

I'm spending my time on far more worthwhile things like community building here in my local area. Lots more fun and lots more productive. A group of us spent time putting insulation in our new Ham Radio clubhouse/workshop/shack.


1/22/17, 4:43 PM

DoubtingThomas said...
@msmith: I recognise the risks of cronyism and general sucking up in any hierarchy but if someone fails to hold to their oaths of office ( I'm guessing the head honchos in Justice for example have to swear an oath ) then they would be committing a crime of some kind. I'm sure it happens from time to time but unless there is specific actionable evidence of cronyism it seems a bit of a stretch to simply assume that all 8?? ( is it ) whistleblowers during Obamas terms in office were specifically prosecuted at his request rather than being prosecuted because there was evidence that could not be ignored requiring a judicial process to be carried out.

I'm afraid you lost me though when you said "This president got special treatment, though, because of his skin color. Anyone who spoke against his policies was deemed a racist.". I'm fairly certain the members of the House of Representatives/Senate and the media had no problem blocking or speaking out against Obamas policies. Is it possible that there were examples of people who reached for the racism card? Sure. No doubt just as likely as those who played the card in ernest or just to muddy the waters. However, as an encompassing general rule, i can't see that as being valid. I would need a lot more evidence to support such a generalisation.

1/22/17, 4:58 PM

Shane W said...
yes, it really is THAT bad in wage class America, and yes, it has fallen THAT far in the 20 years you were gone. May I make a suggestion? You live in Wyo., which is close to the northern border. You shouldn't be that far from either Alberta or Sask., Can. Make plans to take breaks from America, and when you cross the border, exhale, b/c you're not in the belly of the beast anymore. Follow JMG's other blog and make your acquaintance with disembodied spirits, etc., b/c the embodied ones around you are going to be there for you. The bottom really has fallen out from under the wage class, and they really are at the grab-a-gun, start shooting point. The social support networks are gone. Civility is gone. Substance abuse amongst my coworkers is sky high. We're all at each others' throats and nobody trusts anyone, and everyone throws everyone else under the bus. Being well adjusted makes you a target. This Trump thing BETTER work out and bring some relief FAST (and even then, it might not be enough) to avoid a repeat of 30s-40s Europe.
Things aren't any better amongst the salary class elite, either. I feel no more comfortable around them than I do my wage class coworkers, they really have totally lost it and gone batshale, padded cell crazy over this whole election. I was saddened by Bill's leaving, though I didn't find it unexpected, b/c it just goes to show how far some people have lost their marbles over this election. Zombie apocalypse indeed, it feels like I'm losing people right and left to insanity. I wonder if this is what it felt like in the run-up to WW II in Europe...

1/22/17, 5:01 PM

DoubtingThomas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

1/22/17, 5:16 PM

Robert Mathiesen said...
Dammerung, you wrote:

"I'm sick of illegals running for the border so they can give birth on our side of the line and have me and my tax dollars go to pay for it. These are people who have no roots in this country, whose ancestors did nothing to build it, and whom are not of our blood and whom have no claim to our soil. I'm tired of diversity."

Unfortunately, your own view of how the United States was built is profoundly false, especially where Mexicans and the Southwest are concerned. From Texas to the Pacific Ocean, Mexicans were there first, and Mexicans started the process of building a new Spanish-speaking nation on North-American soil about two centuries before the Declaration of Independence was signed, and even some decades before the Mayflower made land at Plymouth in 1620. (The oldest known Christian Church on North American soil is in Santa Fe, and it was built by the Spanish.) Similarly, the French were starting to build permanent settlements in what is now New England and the Mississippi River Valley throughout the 1600s and the 1700s. And northward from the limits of the Spanish settlements in California, the Russians had claimed and started to settle the coast all the way up and down the coast as far as Alaska and the Bering Strait.

So even from the standpoint of European law, none of these territories counted as "no man's land" (nullius terra), open for colonization, by the time English-speaking colonists muscled their way into them over the strong objections of the nations that had been colonizing them. In point of fact, English-speaking adventurers simply stole those territories, pure and simple, though they regularized their thefts later through treaties forced on the original colonizers under economic and military duress. (My own ancestors were among the thieves here, so I claim to speak with some authority about this.)

The border in the Southwest was variably drawn during the 1800s, and it was wholly open until the early 1900s. The Spanish-speaking families in that region have been going back and forth across it for centuries. So when some Mexican parents cross the border to give their child birth-right United States citizenship, it is by no means unlikely that some of their grandparents and great-grandparents had birthright United States citizenship, and they remembered that fact. Indeed, when by treaty Mexico ceded the territory now called New Mexico to the United States, that treaty provided that New Mexico's government would be officially bilingual, in Spanish as well as in English. Unless something changed recently, it still is a legally bilingual state.

In a nutshell: Mexicans do have a legal and moral claim to that part of "our" soil (as you call it). Many of them have family roots in that soil that run deeper than any Anglo's roots ever can there.

And I would not be so sure that the "blood" of any old English-speaking family there is as pure, as free of Mexican input, as you appear to suppose. Unless you are of recent immigrant stock, you yourself may well not be as pure-blooded as you think.

As one old man said to me in my youth, "When an ugly fact kills an elegant theory, it is not a murder, but a praise-worthy assassination."

1/22/17, 5:26 PM

Kevin Warner said...
A small data point here though probably off-topic. A few months ago I read the account of a Los Angeles reporter that went to the New York Times. He was surprised to discover that instead of editing the news and putting in their newspaper, a central office would each day come up with a narrative of events and reporters would be expected to shape, omit or make their stories fit that narrative. You know that I am not making this up. I think that I am now seeing this concept in wider use.

Yesterday they had the women's marches and the theme was unity of, mostly women, around the world marching against Trump. OK, fair enough, though a few months late. I realized that nothing was going to be allowed to spoil this narrative in the news by what happened during the women's march in Sydney. In a case of epic trolling, or just an Aussie sense of humour, a group of blokes coughed up the money to have the word TRUMP placed in sky writing above the women's march ( And yet there was no mention of this from what I could see in the news on TV and little in the newspapers. Hmmmm. Narrative intact.

Also, it was almost with a sense of betrayal that it WAS announced on the news that Trump was deep-sixing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal which was bad, m'kay, because free trade is good - right? There has been no coverage of just what this deal actually is here in Australia. Hint - it is not about free trade. No wonder more and more people are getting their information from the net and it is no wonder that the west and the fourth estate want to have the net censored with them determining what is 'real' news. Certainly you will not see talk about class being a thing at all that might be accounting for the tide of 'populism' sweeping the west. If ever JMG gets bored and want to post something that will get people's dandruff up and generate a lot of comments, I can think of no finer topic than the state of the 21st media.

1/22/17, 5:41 PM

onething said...
Michael K,

"The best programmes on RT are made by Europeans and Americans and have a host of Americans on as guests and they have very lively debates."

I've got a spouse who listens daily to programs in Russian and I have no idea if he ever listens to RT (probably not) but the thing that strikes me is that I often hear some sort of debate or discussion which may go on for ONE OR TWO HOURS!!! and in which I hear the same speaker going on and on - making their points and taking as long as they need to without being interrupted! As if there were enough time for such things! Like actual intelligent human beings who have complex ideas to convey...I am so jealous.

1/22/17, 5:45 PM

Dammerung said...
If JMG is right about the stress we've put on our environment and its approximate effects, I really don't see how you're going to prevent an ethnic war on the American continent, not even in theory. I don't know how it is in rural areas, but urban blacks do 0 minutes of introspection on why their communities are in such poor shape and why there's so much violence, the overwhelming amount of it committed against each other. Everything is whitey's fault. And not some generic whitey fat cat in a suit, you, personally, you right there, regular ol' white guy reading a book on the bus. I don't really see any way that mentality is going to be begged, bribed, or educated away. And if the economic situation is going to keep getting worse through resource depletion and the like, they're going to blame us more than ever.

The thing about an ethnic war is that nobody cares in the slightest what you believe. You're in a uniform you can't take off. You can be the most tolerant, loving, vegan hippie moralist and if anything it'll only make your enemy hate you more. I don't know if this vision of the future is inevitable; it might be. I certainly think white people ought to start preparing for it. Once the phenomenon we somewhat humorously call "history" starts moving, it doesn't brake for anyone's personal convenience.

1/22/17, 6:16 PM

Carl Dolphin said...
They haven't found him yet but there's a photo of him with his ski mask on. There's a web site where people are crowd sourcing for a reward to get him arrested. Last I saw it was up to $1400. I think he'll get caught.

1/22/17, 6:17 PM

Bob said...

I remember the Reagan years as a time of hope. The US and USSR had reached an arms agreement and their were clear signs that the Cold War was ending. I remember American involvement in Nicaragua, the hearings involving Oliver North, and shady deals between the CIA and Iran. I don't remember seeing much in the way of pro-war or anti-war sentiment until the First Gulf War. Ultimately it didn't matter as those movements were unable to stop the war drums.

Trump is not the first candidate to question the purpose of America's foreign policy. And even he seems reluctant to speak too harshly of the military and its strategic planners. But it was clear that Hillary was a proponent of actions that were more dangerous.

The navy article I read linked the expansion to the China/Pacific theater. It may well have multiple purposes; China will need to be reassured of this.

1/22/17, 6:59 PM

Karen said...
@Caryn, @Patricia,

Your comments about women and “brutishness” reminded me of a work situation I found myself in 30 years ago. As a newly graduated Architecture student one of my first jobs was to be the on-site inspector during major re-roofing of several buildings at a Reserve Air Force Base near Kansas City. Most of the roofers were hard core bikers. My job was to just watch them work and fill out various reports on the work progress. I overheard their conversations. I was appalled at how easily and frequently they talked about beating their women. During one of the conversations, some of the men seemed uncomfortable about it and tried to get the others to quit discussing that topic when I was around. The roofing foreman and apparently head biker, tried to ridicule me into saying it was no big deal. I coldly stared at him and in an unusually calm voice for me, told him that if a man ever beat me, I would cut his throat as soon as he fell asleep. I’m not sure what that said about me, but it stopped that topic around me, and they were much more respectful towards me thereafter.

My dad was the first in our family to graduate from college; his and my mom’s people were laborers and farmers. It was a huge family and they never beat women, that I knew, and we knew through whispers who was cheating, who was having drinking or financial troubles, all of the other stuff families try to keep secret. Same way in my neighborhood and with my school friends when I was growing up. Domestic physical abuse was not acceptable, period. I, like you Caryn, hope this is not being considered normal or just a new differing attitude. This also makes me wonder if there is an age cohort that tends to accept domestic violence because they’ve grown up seeing so much more of it on the screen.

1/22/17, 7:15 PM

Marissa said...
JMG, on Bourdieu I would recommend Distinction, Homo Academicus, and Ball of the Bachelors. Distinction is often assigned and, parts of it at least, more prone to the problematic uses I noted, the other two much less so on both counts.

1/22/17, 7:29 PM

PRiZM said...
This has definitely been a divisive political season! Differences in opinion have manifested themselves everywhere, from the Thanksgiving dinner table to even marriages. This blog, and it's author, thankfully helped prepare many of us for the changes that were coming so that we could approach the changes with an open mind, and further be prepared to make the changes needed to be made ourselves. There's no one who will make those changes for you.

So it is with some sadness, dismay, and a bit of anger that I see so much angst in the comments here. Especially with a valued member of our community, in Bill Pulliam. Many of us have appreciated your comments and insights. But now you've chosen to leave because ultimately, you didn't get your way. That has been the general attitude of many on the left. Don't listen to the points being made, then throw a temper tantrum, or threaten to leave. It's only serving to strengthen the aggression from the more right leaning. These sort of actions are ultimately more polarizing. If we really want to see some positive, beneficial changes, we must be willing to have discourse, to sometimes agree to disagree, and "be the change we want to see", but not to turn our back on our brothers and sisters.

So I can only hope more people can approach the coming changes with the intent to try to understand why they are happening and why the people who have asked for these changes asked.

Those who keep saying "look at what Trump is doing to climate change", and several other issues have a very important question to ask: "what have I done myself to change my lifestyle to help live in unison with the environment?" The reality is, most people have done nothing, and that is why both left and right parties have done nothing. The left has offered lip service. The same is said of nearly all other issues people raise.

Do you know who has pointed these things out for a decade? The author of this blog. Consistently. Without siding one way or the other. He's only asked for people to approach things with an open mind.

1/22/17, 7:53 PM

Candace said...
@ Onething

I am also tired of the corporate feminists conflating "they LET you grab..." With sexual assault. Not even close.

And yes, women who live on the lower end of the socioeconomic scale have bigger concerns.

1/22/17, 8:25 PM

Rita said...
ON Third Parties -- I will explain a little of the reality of third party politics in the US. In the 80s and 90s, while I was still a libertarian, the major job that the party had every election year was to get ballot access. Every state has different rules, some require petitions, others require a previous candidate to have obtained a certain percent of the vote, and so on. So immense amounts of time and money went into getting petitions signed and so forth. Then the party would try to get into the debates, which were then run by the League of Women Voters. The standard excuse for exclusion was that they would only admit candidates who were on the ballot in all 50 states. Then came 1992 and Ross Perot's candidacy. Perot was allowed in the debates, but the Libertarian candidate, who was also on the ballot in all 50 states was not. I don't recall what excuse was used. At some point they started holding a second round of debates, the first round between the Republican and Democratic candidates, the second round between the various "third" parties: Libertarian, Green, Peace and Freedom, etc. In short, it is practically impossible to break the two party system. In California the constitution has been amended so that anyone can vote for any candidate in the primary and only the top two vote getters are put on the November ballot. The result was that this election two Democrats contended for the vacant senate seat and the Republicans had no candidate at all.

I have unfollowed two people on Facebook over the Nazi punching incident. The level of self righteous inability to see the ultimate results of one's logic was too much to take. Decide that someone's political views are repugnant and you are entitled to punch them in the face. What could possibly go wrong?

The elite have always worked to divide the working class into hostile factions. The current white working class seem to have been convinced that they work and that black and brown people are the welfare class. Except when the brown people are stealing jobs from white people. This results in weird behavior as reported on the "Not Always Right" site, such as a white person screaming about "lazy who need to get a job" at the clerk or waitress who is trying to serve them. If you started talking about the Black working class people would probably give you funny looks. In truth, of course, most of those on various forms of government aid are working class, they just can't get work, or they do work but for poor wages, or they are disabled or old and unable to work but were, or would have been working class if able.

I have been completely unable to pin my liberal friends who worry about the immigrants down on what they believe the immigration policy should be. I suspect they are actually for open borders but are afraid to say so. They simply can't seem to understand that you can't conduct rational public policy on the basis of individual hardship stories. The current situation is immensely unfair to everyone concerned. Illegal aliens are in limbo, those applying for legal immigration face lengthy delays, citizens see exceptions made to give their jobs away to holders of special visas and so on. But where is the reasoned debate on how many immigrants the nation can absorb and how immigrants should be selected or banned? The Democrats seem completely tone deaf on the subject and continue to make statements that sound as though they care more about a DREAM child than the unemployed fourth generation American. If I were more cynical I might begin to suspect that the men behind the curtain want to increase the hostility between groups. I used to have a friend who would remark "ah, cynicism ill befits the young." Guess I am too old for it to apply any longer.

1/22/17, 8:38 PM

The Big Rant said...
I got my taxes mostly-done today. My husband and I make about 60 grand in combined income. Because we have both been clawing our way up the income ladder this year in a desperate bid to buy a cheap house in which to live out our years.

From what we have calculated, because of our jump in income, the Affordable Care Act requires us to pay approximately ten thousand dollars in unpaid subsidies. We were paying $211 a month, so when I started expanding my small business and my husband got a series of promotions at his blue collar job and went from 20K to 40K, the ACA responded in kind by cutting off our subsidies and insisting the money owed must be paid back. If we find out we have to pay it, we'll have to do it in installments over six years or so. As it is, I cannot afford health insurance at all in 2017 if I want to have nice things like groceries, toilet paper, and employee payroll. I am in perfect health and I think I have bragged about it in the comments here before, so please forgive the indulgence. My husband's not doing so well. Humans are easy to sicken and hard to kill.

So, at any rate, I hope there is some truth to this whole thing about Trump overturning Obama's ACA fines for my own sake.

Also, for the record, though I believe there were seeds of good within the Women's March, such as drawing awareness to the casual misogyny females face in this world, I still think think the march was very ill-timed and ill-conceived. It ended up being exclusive, mostly white, and representative of the top 10% who benefit at the sometimes-direct expense of the poorer classes.

It was very much a march of the upper-middle class against everyone lower than them. Telltale sign of this is that it happened on Saturday, which is a day the working class does not typically get as a day off because they are so busy serving the upper middle class their after-dinner drinks and cleaning their toilets.

1/22/17, 8:50 PM

livingstone said...
I admire and believe in your well-articulated vision, including the fecklessness of American liberalism. You are my go-to. But you too easily give a free pass to those on the other end of the specturm, who either willfully or stupidly embrace the hateful and careless mendacity of Trump and the Republican party. You never seem tone deaf in the least, so I have been trying to work out how it is that I am the one in this case. But on this particular theme that you pound again and again--that liberals are solely to blame for the mess we are in--leaves me shaking my head. You are not the only commentator who points out that it is unfair or condescending to say that all Trump voters were racists, or sexists, or that they hate foreigners. All right. I get that. (And btw I'm not one of those who condescends in this way; these voters are my family, and I love them). But if these Trump voters and the party hacks who enable his reckless abandon are not so bedeviled, they are in fact willing to accept an awful lot of racism and sexism and xenophobia and general disrespect for anything other than Trump's own precious ego. In the deal they made with their champion, Trump, and they have demanded precious few particulars in return. Their dismissive humanity and shallow spirituality have paved the way for the rocky road we are now walking. You have been making a big point the past couple of years painting the portrait of a leftist demagogue who would be the one to rise up and lay waste to the Republic. And I really did receive your point. But those green-tinged stories always seemed to me a feint, a woodshedding for liberals to learn a thing or two, rather than an actual prediction of things to come. And now we see that you were wrong all along about the end of the American political spectrum from which the demagogue would rise. Yes, it's true, you spotted Trump a mile away. But he wasn't wearing the colors you expected. Your long vision is sound, but your short game can be off. That's fine, as it goes. But I do fear that perhaps you are missing something important here. And if that's so, that frightens me, because I depend upon your vision. In my view it was always going to be the fact-loathing, worker-exploiting, anti-science, crypto-religious, violence-hungry, bigoted nativists who were going to run us into the bank of history. (This is my family, people I love.) True, the Democratic Party screwed up twelve ways til Tuesday. They dropped the ball in this election. But blaming them for the disaster that awaits us--the next acute angel of the long descent we are now sliding down-- is like blaming the haughty child for the beating he will now endure at the hands of his vengeful blood-thirsty father. Sure, maybe the child had it coming... but the violence at the slight is what we must attend to right now. Violence to the truth, to working people, to sick people, to women, to minorities, and perhaps most of all the vision of America that is now fading from sight.

1/22/17, 9:46 PM

jbucks said...
Off topic to the post, but on topic for the theme of your blog: the New Yorker just posted an article about Silicon Valley and financial industry types who are preparing for a collapse.

1/22/17, 10:29 PM

Phil Harris said...
Trump is America’s outcome and I was not going to comment from Britain, but matters cross the Atlantic and easily get personal, even enough for instance to disturb our family. This seems no ordinary politics despite my earlier attempts to see it that way. ‘Hissy fits’ on the part of ‘bad losers’ are not the issue here. I can make my point perhaps along the lines of narrative fantasy fiction.

Whatever the power is that the pumped up Man has kept in his Castle, it has broken loose now. I call it ‘Trump’s Bane’ (TB). He may think he controls it, but I guess it will control him and probably already does. Other dangerous beasts that have long inhabited American power structures are stirred up mightily and contribute their own energy. Indeed their reactions were meat and drink to Trump’s Bane during the campaign. Given the number of neglected chickens waiting to come home to roost and given the venal hierarchies, TB had a field day. I thought the successful campaign and the perfunctory but effective inauguration could be described as wholly cynical except for the personality of the man upfront – ‘possessed’ might be a better word, speaking non-literally of course.

And what of more ordinary human beings? Given our normal imperfections and our very imperfect collective structures (though we might normally expect to get along with these somehow), we are highly susceptible to corrupt power. Grievances and such, especially those of whole segments of the populace, can so easily congeal into hatreds. Even if personally we try to hold a sensible line, disagreement degenerates under subtle influence into a failed forum; from family and friendship groups to core social institutions the small cracks open up. (I am sorry ADR has been affected and Bill has gone.) Most importantly in my view, a very wide range of people fear quite rightly the growing, it has to be said ‘fostered’, active ill will of fellow citizens. TB grows a certain delight in its own volition.

‘To avoid war, prepare for war’. Hmmm … I’m not sure that applies to civil war. Sadly matters go so easily beyond the scope of analysis or fair negotiation. And we can forget the sociology statistics. But we have closed the potential cracks in our family without needing to come to terms with TB. We have made a choice for ourselves. We declare we do not side with ill will. This one in particular is wrong and is fed from a toxic source.

Phil H

1/23/17, 2:56 AM

Tyler August said...
You know, I'm surprised that the Alt-Right's embrace of Nazi imagery has been met with such shock, here. JMG predicted a rise in young Marxists due to overuse of the snarl word 'communist'-- and here, at least, there was a flowering of Hammer-and-Sickle iconography at the local university.

When we choose to demonize 'cis-het-white-male scum' as 'literally hitler'... well. Cis-het-white-males and those who love them are going to take another look at Hitler, just like campus leftists are taking another look at Lenin. "I hate you, and you hate that guy, so..."

Ugly? Sure is. That Wiemar America now seems on its way to end with Communists and National Socialists fighting in the streets is as distressing as it is surreal. "Once as tragedy, twice as farce"? We can only hope. Admittedly, the street fighting so-far seems to be limited to sucker punches, but.... The way the vitriol online seems to be spreading into face-to-face interactions, I do worry the second time will be tragic, too.

1/23/17, 3:52 AM

David, by the lake said...

I, for one, still believe in the usefulness of reasoned compromise between people of sincerely-held but differing perspectives. Perhaps I am in a minority.

This is not to say that we will necessarily be able to find sufficient common ground to remain as we are. It may be that a looser, less centralized structure is needed to allow for regional differences. Or it may very well be that the only agreement that can be reached is that there needs to be a divorce, because the marriage just isn't going to work. This can still be done in a reasoned and reasonable manner. I would certainly prefer that to the alternative.

1/23/17, 4:06 AM

Mean Mr Mustard said...
What Brian Eno, late of Roxy Music, reckons...

Just imagine if Hillary Clinton had won and we’d been business as usual, the whole structure she’d inherited, the whole Clinton family myth. I don’t know that’s a future I would particularly want. It just seems that was grinding slowly to a halt, whereas now, with Trump, there’s a chance of a proper crash, and a chance to really rethink.”

1/23/17, 5:29 AM

MichaelK said...
I found the women's march a bit disturbing. I was particularly disturbed by Madonna, an entertainer who's sold her 'P' in almost every video she's ever made. What a role model she is for young girls and women. A few decades ago he antics would have been outlawed on tv and confined to Las Vegas strip joints. Times change, but for the better, I sometimes wonder.

Hearing her shouting about her terrorist fantasies of blowing up the White House because the wrong guy won it after a democratic election, made me feel really uneasy. But the screams of crazed approval from the huge crowd made things far, far, worse. Okay, some will say it's only rhetoric and Madonna was carried away by her emotions, but other people, Muslims, have been imprisoned or even killed by US drone attacks, including US citizens, without due process of law, for expressing similar thoughts. I suppose because it's Madonna, she won't be prosecuted for incitement to commit an act of terrorism like an ordinary person raving on-line? But I wonder if she isn't helping to legitimize the thought that terrorism aimed at an illegitimate President is justified?

Perhaps I've mentioned this before. When I was last in the US visiting my family in the South, I felt like I was in a country riven by a deep-seated religious schism with a visceral irrational hatred just hidden below the surface. I really began to feel like this was what the build-up towards the American Civil War must have felt like. It was scary how angry people seemed. But don't even get me started on the Civil War! What was that all about? I've often wondered. I know my own ancestors were paid an absolute fortune in compensation by the British Parliament, millions in todays money, to agree to free their Jamaican slaves, and they did. So I speculated about why one didn't follow a similar strategy in the US, rather than going to the expense and terror of fighting a war to end slavery? Or was it, and now I go out on a limb, really a war to 'end the South' and the rest was merely a powerful peice of state propaganda that turned a war of aggression into a holy crusade for freedom?

Whoops! What a digression, sorry. The point is, one can release feelings and passions today, which are difficult to control and understand where they might lead, especially when one demonizes the other side and calls them fascists and Nazis. Where does it end? What do the left/liberals want to do with all the Deplorables if they refuse to shut up and do what they are told and they keep voting 'wrong'?

1/23/17, 5:54 AM

Scotlyn said...
@dammerung - the uniform I can't "take off" is red haired, white skinned, green-eyed and freckled.

Nevertheless, I have to tell you plain that I consider you yourself more of an existential threat to me and my freedom and that of my people, than anyone involved in the work of anti-racism. They are only asking me to budge up and make a bit of room at the table which they (your uninformed caricature notwithstanding) helped build and stock.

Whereas, you (or those moved to action by your propaganda memes) might kill me for even *thinking* of doing so. Solidarity is apparently your enemy, and so, apparently, is the truth of our shared, and diverse history. My white skin will not save me from the likes of you.

Your views, if translated into effective action, threaten my freedom and my life, and the freedom and lives of those I care about. Do you really expect me to overlook, or brook, such a threat?

1/23/17, 6:12 AM

Scotlyn said...
@Varun - I just want to add my voice to those who appreciate your astute insights both in this week's comments and last week's.

@Patricia and Caryn - I hear you both.

1/23/17, 6:13 AM

DoubtingThomas said...
@damerrung: I don't know how it is in rural areas, but urban blacks do 0 minutes of introspection on why their communities are in such poor shape and why there's so much violence, the overwhelming amount of it committed against each other.

That's a sweeping generalisation that serves simply to bolster your prejuduce. It's as false as trying to make a similar case that urban whites do 0 introspection. It's meaningless and readily disprovable. People of every shade of colour introspect. There are many who even put words on paper and write at length about their introspections. Some of those introspectors are black, famous for their introspections and internationally acclaimed while others make it to high office.

The thing about an ethnic war is that nobody cares in the slightest what you believe. You're in a uniform you can't take off. You can be the most tolerant, loving, vegan hippie moralist and if anything it'll only make your enemy hate you more. I don't know if this vision of the future is inevitable; it might be. I certainly think white people ought to start preparing for it. Once the phenomenon we somewhat humorously call "history" starts moving, it doesn't brake for anyone's personal convenience.

Your attempt to reclassify resource wars as ethnic wars falls flat. Oh your personal desire to use your prejudice as an excuse to justify violence towards others in order to improve your flagging self-esteem is plain as day. In this instance I would suggest that it is you who needs to learn to introspect and work out what's going on in you rather than looking to blame others for your situation. There are plenty of psychology books & case studies about the psychology of hate & prejudice to consume that would educate you. You are doing exactly the same as you accused urban blacks.

You don't speak for everyone else. There are generations of mixed-race marriages and their open minded offspring that disprove what you believe. I think you will find that they don't care about your need for hate or your projections. I think you also will find plenty of the younger generation are thoroughly disgusted by the tired playbook of hate as well.

I hope JMG is wrong about his predictions of further resource wars and while there may well be those individuals like you who allow their prejudice to justify the demonisation necessary to kill others in order to steal from them but don't think for one minute that there won't be people shining a light on that uncomfortable truth all the way.

1/23/17, 6:26 AM

MichaelK said...
What strikes me is that the hatred is manifest on both sides of what we call the political spectrum. I'm especially critical of the media, showbiz, Hollywood, and the music industry, television.

It's just so easy, and I think lazy, to go after Trump and the Deplorables. I also think it's dangerous. Calling Trump an idiot means one thinks the people who support him and voted for him are idiots as well, doesn't it?

It's bad enough that the Deplorables have seen their dreams and aspirations vanish as mass-employment has ravaged huge swathes of the country, good working-class jobs replaced by a huge rise in temporary and low-paid work in the various service sectors, but then to add insult to injury liberal millionaires on television ridicule you night after night. Satire was supposed to be about humour aimed at the pretentions and views of the powerful, aiming downwards from a great and privileged height, is something else. It's distasteful. Being poor is one thing, but then being told you're a fool as well, is something that's hard to take.

I'm not really sure that Americans appreciate how dangerous this kind of 'cultural warfare' or cultural stimatization can be and what it can lead to, because the US has been so peaceful a place since the carnage of the Civil War. Americans have gotten used to watching people overseas slaughtering each other in civil conflicts that the thought that it could happen in the United States again seems absurd, fanciful, impossible. It can't happen here.

1/23/17, 6:42 AM

August Johnson said...
Oh, so now it's back to "will release taxes after audit is completed". Total B.S. I don't believe a fracking thing that this White House says.

@livingstone - Yes, I have to go with your post, I'm not very good at putting my thoughts down into writing, but you've expressed my disappointment very well. Something seems very different about JMG's theme the last few months. It's like all the fault is on the left, no matter what Trump does or says, if there's any hope that he'll do the smallest thing that might help the working class, everything else is totally excused. It's so true that the left is massively at fault, but come on now, lies and threats and total BS'ing isn't a proper response from the Right. Just today there are new threats by the White House of punishing the press if they don't cover Trump the way he feels they should. This truly looks like we've entered the Twilight Zone of a new Banana Republic.

1/23/17, 7:40 AM

Dammerung said...
@Robert Mathiesen - I've seen this point made by a few people, so I'll give a response, to you and the others.

Each generation writes its own history out of the available facts. What you're telling me is Boomer history, an interpretation that allows you to be blithe to the tens of millions of illegal aliens who are here, sucking down our resources at a breakneck pace and crowding our cities with alien people and an alien culture. My generation feels the economic effects of this acutely. Yours appears not to. I don't care what the Third Fifth Treaty of Hidalgo signed 150 years ago says. I want them gone. Hoover them up, dump them into refugee camps on the other side of the wall, and let Mexico sort it out. That's my opinion when I'm feeling compassionate rather than ruthless. My generation is rapidly coming to conceive of its history like this: "We murdered our way into ethnonationalist dominion in the United States once; we can do it again."

The thing is, nobody's in charge. Nobody is in a position to dictate attitudes on /pol/ or otherwise. You've got a generation of white youth on your hands who think the Nazis are breddy good guys who doesn't afraid of anything. Data point - yesterday, PewDiePie, the world's most popular YouTube personality with 52 million subscribers, most of them young people, became the toast of /pol/. How? He dropped a video with 2x "Hitler did nothing wrong," a "Death to all Jews," a "I want the shekels because I'm a greedy reptilian Jew," and more. Sure, it was presented as a joke, but that makes it all the more - insidious, if you like. Millennials respond to Boomer hand-wringing over morality with contemptuous laughter. I have no particular advice for how you might bring them back into your program.

1/23/17, 8:41 AM

Raymond Duckling said...
@Bill Pulliam,

You will be sorely missing. You were first amongst us to call JMG when he overstepped the line. I can tell this forum will be at great risk to go down in sycophancy with your departure, and we will must work harder to predict that outcome.

1/23/17, 8:49 AM

Raymond Duckling said...

Thank you for your exposition about what the alt-right meme magic is all about. It's been very instructive.

Still, I think you are on the wrong side of history. You are clearly inner-proletariat, yet by building an identity around "aryanness", you are identifying (and aligning) yourself with the Empire's elites, while opposing the brown skinned outer-proletariat. It makes me think you may be among the number of loyalists that take the brunt of the hit once a coalition is formed between inner and outer proletariats and they go to take down the Empire and its elites.

You also seem to have a vibe, as someone already said, as of some decent people talking themselves into doing some pretty indecent, violent deeds. You can deceive yourself that you are suceeding that way, but that will not be the case. It is relatively easy to commit attrocities against unarmed civilians, but once the warlords get moving into your land, you wont know what hit you.

Your emasculated army has to rely on drone strikes because the sight of returning bodybags is too emotionally taxing to your people. You are routinelly fought into a standstill by underresourced irregular forces by exploiting that fact. You'd be the laughting stock of the world if the whole matter where not so tragic.

On the other hand, we come from a race that routinelly fought wars of choice with sublethal weapons; so that lots of able bodied men would end up maimed and brought back to the pyramids for human sacrifices. They literally believed the Sun would stop comming out in the morning if the War God would not be fed with still beating hearts. Christianity tamed this wild, wild Spirit up to a point; but just in case you are getting undue hopes, I have two words for you: Spanish Inquisition.

You simply don't have the capacity of sacrifice to fight an all out war of anihilation with us. Or the Chinese, for the matter. I think it was Mao who said you'd run out of bullets before he ran out of Chinese men, and it was several hundred millions ago.

1/23/17, 8:49 AM

Scotlyn said...
Now here is a good story. And like all good stories, it shines a light. There is hope. Always.

I offer it to you, especially, @Dammerung. While I do put you on notice here and now that neither you (nor your magic meme factory) shall choose my enemies for me, decide who I may or may not associate with, nor control who my daughters or sons choose to marry unopposed, yet I say to you, I have hope. I have hope of you.

1/23/17, 9:12 AM

Juhana said...
I have wrote here, in the comment section of ADR, about rise of Second Religiosity and how it eats away humanist, secular world order from periphery inwards. Spengler was right, again.

That Islamic world has abandoned secularism is already fact that has happened, and to which rest of the world just has to adapt. Only delusional Western elites and their groupies can fool themselves to believe otherwise. No honest person living in Turkey, Pakistan, Sudan, Malaysia, or any Muslim country can say that religious matters have not started to merge with political ones a long time ago after "peak secularism" from 50's to 70's. Fight is over. Religiosity won.

But this phenomenon has gained ground in Christian lands also. Large parts of Eastern Europe have already began their slide into theocracy, away from "godless liberalism". I believe that we can wait same legitimating factors which defined legitimate power before Great War to have established themselves again in minds of people in one generation. In those areas where traditional way of culture has already corroded away, core areas of secular Western Europe, it shall be replaced by more virile, patriarchal cultures from without and within. If nukes don't start to fly. Then it is game over for everyone.

Chance of mood in large parts of eastern Europe is very concrete, real thing. Yet, it is hard to describe, especially with language alien for me. Here are some clips from Russia, which until '91 was atheistic state based on absolutist form of humanist thought (socialism), highlighting the rise of the Church. Even Mr. Putin is shown here, paying his respects to One True King above earthly rulers, like all other czars before him.

Wind is blowing, blowing from the past, and it shall tear down rotten edifice of secular humanism. Good riddance. Even US electorate seems to be tired and rebelling against their globalist puppet masters of "secular humanism", monsters in disguise.

Putin attending ceremony in Valamo, old Finnish monastery now in Russian territory:

Church parade in Petrograd. Look at the flags!

Army and Church, together:

1/23/17, 9:19 AM

pygmycory said...
@JMG "the same sort of downwardly mobile middle class that usually produces disaffected intelligentsia. "

That's a pretty good description of me as well, even if I'm emphatically NOT alt-right.

1/23/17, 10:09 AM

pygmycory said...
@ Dammarung,
the main result of you're 'Hitler was right' comment on me was to make me feel physically sick, resolve never to take anything you say without a heap of salt the size of a mountain, and take a couple of days off from reading the archdruid report comments.

1/23/17, 10:12 AM

Ray Wharton said...
It is appropriate that this country is called the United States, and not the United Peoples. For though 50 states, and more political entities beside, are united by a system of Government there are still here many peoples and herds. The sign is clear, and well described before by Fredrick Nietzsche: where there are peoples and herd each speak their own tongue of Good and Evil, and do not understand their neighbor's tongue, looking upon it with an evil eye.

This blog, more that other forums of discourse I am aware of, is a meeting and debating place between many peoples and the proof is that in these discourses attempts are made to articulate several different and not entirely comparable moralities. Beyond this forum there are few such gathering places where peoples with differing tongues of Good and Evil attempt to understand in good faith their neighboring tongue. When the topic is philosophical and the meaning is projected into an image of the future this conversation goes well, but in recent events the abyss of uncertainty has become neck deep to the tallest souls, and above the nostrils of most. And as more uncertainty flows in, who among us can learn to swim?

The same writer who observed that peoples each speak a tongue of Good and Evil all it's own, not translatable into the terms of another because it grows upon a different soil of different experiences, also observed that the State speaks in all tongues of Good and Evil, but in doing so lies. The lie cannot be avoided for the State as a captor of many peoples must obscure the differences so as to take an appearance of Goodness to the diverse observers.

The danger of our era is this, for a Generation the State has lied very poorly, and has more and more only made the bother of stealing the tongue of Good and Evil from ever shrinking circles of peoples under its aegis... and the values of the rest has turned ever more resentful and reactionary against that state, unaddressed as those who refused to speak as the state speak were seen as inconsequential and beneath contempt. Even contempt is an honor to those who long lived beneath it.

Though always the actions of our Government only hold up as moral in the sense held by a tiny clan, it has honored many to speak flattery of their morality, and captured their hearts with flattery. Now the voice of the Government flatters a different people, or a different union of peoples. Those who are deprived of their flattery are flooded with a new fear, and project what is most frightening onto this uncertainty, that is to say their demons. It is easy to see what demons haunt a people, they show themselves as that peoples object of fear. Those who have long been beneath contempt are long desensitized to Evil speech from the State, and even where it seems evil to them today that is a familiar sensation, and provokes only the fear of unreliable times, mixed with the hope that their morality might rise at least to the level of contempt, and who knows how much further.

1/23/17, 10:43 AM

Marissa said...
Thanks for sharing that New Yorker article jbucks... first couple of paragraphs in and already caught... Telling that this guy trusts his laser surgery over glasses! I have made the opposite call myself...

1/23/17, 12:10 PM

Dammerung said...
@Raymond Duckling - You understand my signalling at least, so that's good. I don't really consider the US military representative of the military strength "we" wield. Our military strength comes from a couple million riflemen, some of whom have combat training and experience, many of whom are quite ingenious when it comes methods of committing violence. We're also very talented at certain forms of persuasion and certainly media manipulation. Getting rid of an overwhelming percentage of illegal immigrants is something I consider an achievable goal and it's one /pol/ is already working on through reporting people they know to ICE and doing various kinds of records searches. Expelling some or most Mexican-Americans is also possible, though current political conditions don't favor it. Actually conquering and depopulating Mexico is a project for which I see no consensus at all so you're probably good on that. Of course, it can always go the other way as well. If America starts to really Balkanize large numbers of whites might cede territory as lost in order to maintain racial integrity. The NorthWest Front proposes exactly that.

@Scotlyn - You may well find that preferences change "organically," depending on how well Trump steers us through the numerous opportunities for politically-motivated violence over the next 4 years. Really digging into the civil war in Iraq is a good example of how a multi-ethnic society can slowly dissolve down racial lines. I doubt a lot of Shia were getting the hots for Mosul Sunni when wandering over there as a Shiite was an awfully effective way of getting your throat slit.

Wew! What a frank exchange of views. I know that the idea that society is going to break down along class lines is a pill that goes down a little easier, but I think both history and recent events suggest that a racial breakdown is more likely.

1/23/17, 12:40 PM

Vicky K said...
When your most intelligent commentator decides it is time to leave my impulse is to join him. You seem to have missed an opportunity to improve your model, but chose to instead impugn Bill's ability to do statistical analysis. I also recall that the demographic that overwhelming voted for our current President was middle to higher income males. My memory seems to hover in the 80% realm. Actual working class men (by income) voted in smaller percentages. Given the squew towards higher incomes for white men, that meant that the same demographic that is the core of alt.right was the same that voted overwhelming for the egomaniac.

Working class voters lined up for reasons that Joe Bageant chronicled. Not a new phenomenon related to our current problems.

Dismissing the pink pussy hat push back as leftist and meaningless is premature.

1/23/17, 1:00 PM

Cherokee Organics said...

The German response is interesting isn't it?

If it means anything to you, I reckon you were right to write this essay. As my mind floats over most of the comments here, I noticed that there is a simmering anger. People of all stripes don't seem to realise that none of this was even remotely sustainable and of course they have built their lives around the lies that it was sustainable. Most of the futures and wishes that people have written about here are not sustainable either... It is mildly surreal. Our culture which stresses the perquisites of the individual - even when those perquisites runs contrary to that individuals self interest - is now attempting to double down on formerly successful strategies (eg. via the process of escalation). It is clearly a dysfunctional response.

The arbitrary and abstract models that people are running in their heads are failing to meet up to the reality that people are experiencing and of course this leads to stress. They know no other story and refuse to accept the possibility of loss on theirs and their children's investment.

The funny thing is that I've also noticed that people who consume a lot of programming by way of television seem to be even more dissatisfied and angry than usual. I worry about that.

Of course reality will provide the best dispel in the long run.



1/23/17, 1:10 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Fred, the coverage I saw suggested to me that there was a pretty fair mix of the three kinds of disagreement with Trump I mentioned in my post. There were marchers who had serious disagreements with Trump's policies and appointments, or with what they believed he was likely to do; there were marchers who would have protested any Republican; and there were marchers who seemed to fit your description of the 10% denouncing the rest of us. As I've been trying to point out -- apparently with little success -- it really is a mixed bag.

DoubtingThomas, here again, I tend to think that the opposite of one bad idea is another bad idea. The opposite of blaming someone else for someone's predicament usually amounts to blaming the person in question for their own predicament, even when the blame is nicely giftwrapped in language of empowerment. Sure, there are times when it's worth pointing out that people are often complicit in their own oppression, but there are also times when it's worth pointing out that others may be heavily involved in making the situation what it is -- especially when the latter are preening themselves on their moral virtue.

Patricia, I'm not trying to justify or condone violence against women. I'm finding it uncomfortable that Caryn would use so loaded a term as "brutish" when talking about the coping mechanisms other women use to deal with the ugly realities of their lives.

David, yes, I caught that. What's more, I'm sure Trump's advisers have caught that, too, which means the Dems have just broadcast their entire strategy to the other team and told them how to win. Sigh...

Nastarana, yep. We'll be veering in a different direction this week, which will doubtless ruffle a different set of feathers.

Chemalfait, certainly that's a good definition of American politics these days.

August, I won't argue at all about the stupidity of a major military buildup at this point. I'm pretty sure that's the bribe the Trump team offered the military in return for its support, but it's still wasted money.

Scotlyn, from my perspective, neither of the two alternatives you've sketched out are complete in themselves. While fear and hatred can be deliberately stirred up, they also spring up all by themselves, especially under conditions of rapid change and economic stress. Which came first, the demagogue or the emotions he manipulates? It's a chicken-and-egg question.

Caryn, as I commented to Patricia earlier, I'm not condoning the violence these women have suffered. I'm raising an eyebrow at the very pejorative label you've put on the coping mechanisms they've found appropriate to use in response.

Karen, it's a reasonable concern. As an outsider to the GOP power structure, Trump has had to take steps to conciliate some of the important GOP power centers in order to build the support he needs to push his own agenda. Choosing Pence as VP was part of that, a reaching out to the evangelical wing of the party (which was feeling pretty humiliated, as their pet candidates got their backsides handed to them in the primary). To cement the deal, Trump will probably have to give them some of the things they want; the question is which things. Effective political pressure from the opposition -- that is to say, grassroots organizing, not just mediagenic protest marches -- can draw red lines around important issues; I'm not at all sure, though, that the left can get it together and get those lines drawn.

1/23/17, 1:35 PM

Vesta said...
@Raymond Duckling et al, regarding Bill Pulliman,

I too will miss Bill, although I expect him back.

However, I call BatShale on the idea that Bill was valuable because he called JMG out over crossing some sort of line. One of the many reasons why this blog is so great, and especially why the comments are so fantastic, is exactly because our host draws essentially no lines for anyone to toe, beyond the admonition to stay on topic and be polite.

The discomfort I'm seeing in the comment thread this week is especially interesting to me, in an unhappy and ironic way.

1/23/17, 1:39 PM

James M. Jensen II said...
This week's comment section is the closest thing I've ever seen to a train wreck on this blog. You know, the kind of hung that's a regular feature of every other blog on the planet.

Major props to our host and everyone here for keeping things much more civil than I could expect from anywhere else online.

1/23/17, 1:45 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Bob, I won't argue at all about what I've called American delusionalism -- this bizarre cult of national messianism, in which the US somehow substitutes for Jesus as the salvation of the world. I hope we outgrow it one of these days.

Owen, I'll leave discussion on /pol/ to the inhabitants thereof. Fortunately memes are not the only game in town. As for symmetrical vs. asymmetrical responses, so noted and thanks for the clarification.

Kimberly, now go back and read the passages in my post where I said explicitly that class is a great deal more than income, and that class bigotry is only one of the things involved in the reaction against Trump.

Ed-M, again, I noted several times, in so many words, that there are people who have valid concerns about Trump. It's been educational, and not in a good way, to watch so many commenters here pretend that I didn't say that.

Windjammer, I'm speaking of the Sierra Club as it was in the 1960s and 1970s, not as it was in John Muir's day. I thought that should have been obvious from the context.

M Smith, yep. The PMI insurance is there to cover the costs of default, and in a time of serious economic turmoil, it's a necessary precaution. Cutting it right now makes zero sense, except as a way to try to reinflate a speculative bubble -- which is the last thing any of us outside of the Too Rich To Fail class need.

Donalfagan, sorry, that won't wash. You accused me of claiming that everyone who objected to Trump was doing so out of class bigotry. I demonstrated that you were wrong. Care to try again?

August, er, moderate Syrian rebels? Saddam's weapons of mass destruction? The Tonkin Gulf incident, for heaven's sake? US administrations have been manufacturing their own "alternative facts" en masse since before I was born. The one difference this time is that the mass media aren't playing along the way they used to.

Kevin, can you find that article by the Los Angeles newspaper person? That would be well worth following up on.

Dammerung, once again, you're conflating race and ethnicity, which is another form of the same simplistic thinking that lost Clinton the election. Will there be ethnic strife? Sure, and I talked about it in an earlier post. But there will also be struggles between regions, between social classes, and -- as Spengler points out -- as things proceed, more and more of the strife will be between undifferentiated masses following charismatic figures. Attila the Hun's army -- in fact, all the armies, Roman as well as barbarian, of the Empire's last years -- were motley hodgepodges composed of anyone and everyone willing to carry a weapon.

Marissa, thank you.

Prizm, thank you. With all the shrieking going on, it's good to hear that somebody's noticed what I've tried to do.

1/23/17, 1:59 PM

Ray Wharton said...
Thank you for sharing your perspective, I think that conversation across wide gulfs is useful, and that... well if you cannot talk, you fight.

That being said, I should mention that I hope that your movement doesn't gain footing in my neck of the woods. I work closely with Ute, Navajo, African, Asian, Jewish, and Mexican friends and any threat to their peace and prosperity would as a consequence be a direct threat to me. So, knowing more about your ideology it is fair that I warn you I am minding your thoughts as one spies on an enemy, listening for tells I might find useful to undermine ideologies like yours from gaining power in my area.

Perhaps there are moderate forms of your ideology where the identity you love can be preserved with out posing a danger to my allies, and if that is so, then I needn't have any opposition to some group making a breeding project of itself, and would even wish you well in preserving a living fossil. Though personally I think very highly of intermarriage of groups, even my vegetable seeds I cross pollinate, and the arrival of new genotypes thrills me; and my eyes do enjoy the look of people born from crossed heritages.

Most of the people I have known in my life are white, and most of my friends are as well. But a much higher fraction of the non-whites I have known have become friends. Truth be told I am very slightly skeptical of whites, in so far as there is specifically white culture it seems to me thread bare. At its base it is viscous and its summit is snowed in with hubris. Of the new and vital and living culture today, I feel most inspired by the products of Japan, Latin America, and Africa. A disproportionate amount of kindness has been shown to me by Mexicans and Asians than any other groups, though I don't know why.

So, if your ideology sees much more growth it will be a threat to me, even now I am making preparations to oppose white nationalism and any influence it tries to cast over my region, and to that end I thank you for sharing your ideas.

If I may ask, how do you feel about whites such as myself who thrive by collaborating with other races, how intractable is our opposition?

1/23/17, 1:59 PM

Izzy said...
As a leftist feminist etc etc etc, I have some sympathy for the Trump voters who are actually working-class and often older. I think they're wrong about what a Trump presidency will produce, but I don't think they're bad people.

*However*, the alt-right and the younger population of Trump voters I've encountered have largely been middle-class white men in their thirties, often with CS degrees, who are puling and whining because women won't go out with them and their favorite media now includes women and minorities in active roles. (Also something something manly libertarianism something something masturbation to Ayn Rand.)

I marched because the current administration is actively trying to limit women's reproductive rights (and access to effective birth control and abortion is one of the best tools for improving women's economic status), because health care is a human right and also one of the things that screws over the working class*, because I'm fed up with risking multiple lives so that people can indulge their paranoia and overcompensation, and because I have no patience with fragile masculinity, among other reasons.

There are issues where I could have compromised with the conservative rhetoric I saw in the eighties and nineties. The agenda I see coming out of the GOP (and this is not Trump, this was the agenda at the convention, although Bannon etc are not doing a great job of representing any non-Republic-of-Gilead views Trump has) is not okay on any level.

*And yeah, Obamacare is flawed and I'd much prefer single-payer, but at the moment it's also one of the things keeping a bunch of people with pre-existing conditions alive. I'd certainly be up for a better alternative, but I need to see one before I support abandoning what we've got.

1/23/17, 2:24 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Big Rant, I get that. My wife and I, even after a trickle of subsidies, would have had to pay more for health insurance each month than we pay for our house -- and that includes property taxes and mortgage insurance -- for a plan with a $6K deductible and 40% co-pays. It'll be nice to skip the fine this year.

Livingstone, if you think I've said that liberals are solely to blame for the mess we're in, then either you haven't been reading this blog very long or you really need help on your reading comprehension. I've been hammering on the pseudoconservative right for a decade now. I'm the guy who pointed out that the evangelical wing of the GOP has for all practical purposes taken its social policies from The Satanic Bible, remember? It's ironic, and not in an amusing way, that so many people on the leftward end of this blog's readership have been screeching about how I only pick on the Left, when that demonstrably isn't true; it makes me think that Donald Trump isn't the only person out there with really, really thin skin...

Jbucks, fascinating. Thank you.

Phil, that's just it -- I don't think it's Trump's Bane. I think it's America's Bane, and it's equally present and active on both sides. The mendacity and anger on display in the new administration is equaled by the mendacity and anger being displayed by its enemies. I hoped, after the election, that the shouting would wind down after a while; at this point I'm less sure of that. It's been a very dispiriting week, all things considered.

Tyler, and of course you're quite correct. The return of the repressed comes to mind.

David, I'm inclined to agree.

Mustard, good to hear a reflective response to all this. Thank you.

MichaelK, the wave of glorification of violence on the part of the left, Madonna among them, is just one of the things I find troubling about all this -- though it's nothing new.

Juhana, has it occurred to you that your reasoning here is identical to that of the jihadis you've denounced on this blog?

Pygmycory, it's a good description of me, too, and I'm not alt-right either. I sometimes think it might be a good idea to start an alt-center -- a movement that takes its stand on the old ideals of civility, community, equal protection of the laws, and democratic process, and tries to fend off attacks on those things from right and left alike. So many people on both sides seem to be committed to tearing those things down in order to have more room to beat up their enemies!

Ray, Nietzsche is really one of the few useful guides to the present mess, isn't he?

Vicky, I pointed out the fallacy in Bill's comment, which is also present in yours. The figure you're quoting comes from precisely one statistically dubious analysis of exit polls, which are themselves notoriously inaccurate. As for the protest march, I've been saying all along that protest marches are meaningful only if the marchers follow up with grassroots political organization and the rest of the tools of practical politics. So far the left has shown embarrassingly little awareness of that fact, which is one of the reasons it loses so often. Will they learn their lesson this time? Believe it or not, I hope so -- because grassroots political organization would take the Democratic Party out of the hands of the self-regarding clique that's been running it and put it back into the hands of its constituents, who have their own ideas about how the country ought to be run.

1/23/17, 2:30 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Cherokee, thank you. It's been educational, and not really in a good way, to watch people repeatedly insisting that I said things I didn't say, storming and sulking and pounding their fists. Still, I suppose I should have expected it, given the comment in the post about Donald Duck meltdowns.

James, thank you. Yeah, it's been an experience.

Izzy, and as I've said repeatedly, there are certainly valid reasons to object to the policies and appointments of the Trump administration. (And there are also valid reasons to make fun of guys whose major political motivation seems to be their inability to get laid.) Now that you've done the march, though, I hope you'll follow it up by getting involved in grassroots political organizing, if you aren't doing that already -- because Trump can afford to ignore any number of women in funny pink hats walking through Washington DC, but he can't afford to ignore a sustained political mobilization on the part of his opponents.

1/23/17, 2:41 PM

BoysMom said...
There is a good deal of schadenfreude among the Libertarian/Republican/Constitutionalist/Alt-Right types right now, and I confess to be enjoying it as much as anyone else. 'Alternative Facts' were just fine when it was Secretary of State Clinton blaming a you-tube video for the death of our Ambassador in Benghazi, but they are a problem now? Really? Sauce for the goose and gander, and all that.
But I'm also trying to keep fences mended with a couple cousins right now, so biting my tongue, well, fingers, since we communicate over the internet.

I know the alt-righters I've hung out with online for years are and always have been big into martial arts--not chan or /pol, I'll say that much--also concealed carry, open carry, etc. They are the sort of folks who find improving themselves pleasurable. The attack on Spengler was thoroughly addressed and the suggestion to take a buddy to watch your back, as always, reinforced.

1/23/17, 2:42 PM

Justin said...
JMG, I'll agree that ethnicity is the fundamental thing, but of course, what would you say to say, a fourth generation white American who's descended from people everywhere in Britain and Europe? I don't think anyone would claim that because they're largely regarded as different ethnicities, that say, Poles are equally different than Swedes as are Danes or Norwegians. Anyway, true ethnicity formation requires extreme bottlenecks - you can't get an entire country of people who look as alike as say, Japanese people, or who all have recessive genes for hair and eye colour, without some seriously small seed groups.

However I also have noticed that media manipulation of opinion is very effective in homogeneous countries and leads to absolutely toxic social forms like Jante law - a good thing perhaps, sometimes, but when the national conversation is controlled by um, hostile, actors it is incredibly destructive.

JMG, I agree about the alt-center. If anything though, much of Trump's rhetoric is decidedly alt-center, and although that center is definitely white and middle class, well, aside from the basic unsustainability of the middle class, I don't see much wrong with that as long as it isn't exclusionary. If america, or parts of it, are to exist as multi-anything (where anything is race, religion, ethnicity, basically anything more important than sports teams), there has to be one common identity with subgroups within that identity, not warring identities of any kind. And white people are not going to go along with that in any number if it involves endless nauseating guilt trips and a complete erasure of anything but the darkest moments in the history of the European diaspora. I do think the alt-right is factually right about some things which we aren't supposed to talk about, and I think not talking about them is a perfectly viable option, but if there's going to be a detente about these things then all parties have to respect it. Right now the modern left insists on breaking the terms of the detente, and I see the alt-right as a response to that. Not the right response, but Pandora's Box is full of a lot of nasty stuff. Unfortunately, I think elements in the modern left see this as a valid political strategy to create division and strife.

Dammerung, I think you especially know exactly what I'm talking about - the detente was good, we put something truly horrible but very real in the box, and unfortunately it's been opened - and it seems like the way we get rid of it is by ignoring all the demons - including the ones that give 'us' power. Of course, the left has their own demons from inside the box that empower them, so we have to find a way to fight fire without fire, so to speak.

1/23/17, 2:50 PM

Izzy said...
@JMG: Oh, definitely. I'm in super-blue Boston, so calling my reps only does so much, but I'm going to keep working. One day feels good, but you have to sustain it. My feeling is that the march was there for morale (and to annoy people like Piers Morgan*) and to make connections--now people are breaking into smaller groups to focus on individual issues, picking our battles as we can.

On a bipartisan note (and as someone whose family lives in former-coal-mining country) I'd love to see some action on the RECLAIM act:

* Who says that men are being creepingly emasculated by feminism. I didn't know it was so easy to do: have y'all considered wearing cups of some sort? ;P Seems like a girl can't order pizza these days without destroying someone's manhood.

1/23/17, 2:54 PM

Bob said...
Jimmy Dore is a comedian who is reminding his listeners that corporate Democrats have to go, else the Democratic Party will never change. The 'traditional' left may not have a choice but to form a 3rd party. Built it and they will come...

1/23/17, 3:00 PM

M Smith said...
Ray Mathiesen,

Just so you know: not all whites are Anglos. Not all people of European descent are Anglos. There's such a thing as diversity among whites, though you'd never know it from the way we're dismissed as a monoculture. It's no less insulting to call all whites "Anglos" than it is to call all latinos "Mexicans", and white people are no less deserving of respect than nonwhites.

1/23/17, 3:05 PM

wbricex said...
Maybe this has already been said and I’m a little slow on the uptake, but it kinda clicked for me today. Besides class bigotry, another reason that so many people are upset is that Trump’s victory represents serious damage to identity politics. Sexist cards, racist cards, homophobic cards, etc. have been effectively taken off the table or at least placed in the discard pile. All of these were played hugely during the campaign and those card players still did not win. Cue the tantrums.
PS - Thanks for maintaining this forum.

1/23/17, 3:06 PM

Kevin Warner said...
"John Michael Greer said...
Kevin, can you find that article by the Los Angeles newspaper person? That would be well worth following up on."

I think that this is the article that I found once-

There was another article that I found once that I cannot find anymore. It describes an office at this newspaper where this narrative is actually made. Editors come together with say, the Syrian opposition, to make the fall of Aleppo sound like the Fall of Rome (forget the fact that most of those fighters were the local franchise of Al Queda). I suspect that the deals are made elsewhere by interested parties but here is where plans are actually coordinated. And this makes the New York Times different to Pravda how?

1/23/17, 3:06 PM

Dammerung said...
@Ray Wharton - Naturally, and of course I'm doing the same. All diplomatic meetings are at best two steps removed from a knife fight.

The very threadbare nature of white American culture might have a great deal to do with why so many people are quietly cannoning up to preserve whatever can be said to be left of it. Someone overhead mentioned Wiemar America, and that's a persistent meme on /pol/, as well. Many people have become revolted by the decadence and perversion that's being marketed to us as "culture." Exactly where we draw the line differs, even among ourselves, but there was recently a commercial for some Fox "comedy" that elicited hundreds of comments of raw, untempered revulsion for featuring a little boy in BDSM gear.

As for how intractable we are, that's a question that I myself have wondered at to no avail, despite the sheer amount of time I've been immersed in it. There's no right-wing opinion too extreme for representation on our board. Sarcasm, irony, and absolute sincerity are blended together to such a degree of sophistication that it almost doesn't make sense to try to talk about them as a separate intentions. Were I to try to express this feeling in the form of a meme, here's the one I'd choose (don't worry, it's G-rated)

There's a certain sense that we're all in it to see what we can get away with at this point. I've heard the game expressed as follows: to get on as many government watch lists as possible without getting v& - ie, hauled off by the FBI. Clearly this translates into real world action - /pol/ made the news again for showing up at Shia Le Bouef's "He Will Not Divide Us" cam and praising Hitler; regurgitating /pol/ memes; and throwing up Roman salutes. I got numerous responses to a comment suggesting that we're practicing militant Dadaism; that's usually a fair indicator of a comment that has broad community appeal. But /pol/ has a kill count and we're quite proud of that fact. Several times this year, a bunch of guys would watch ISIS training videos, pick up on unique terrain features, triangulate the location of the facility, and then send it to the Russians only to see the sites in question bombed a week later to the childlike glee of all. Then, to celebrate, the /pol/sg/ crew took our web URL and logo, stylized them to look like an ISIS flag, and set the flag as the background to video with an ISIS Nasheed for audio accompaniment. If you can figure out how many layers of irony that is operating on, you're probably in high demand in the Intelligence community.

1/23/17, 3:15 PM

August Johnson said...
JMG - I understand your point, however the difference between the previous "Alternative Facts" and the ones that Trump has are that the evidence is in front of his and our eyes at the moment that he says them. He's gone as far as to deny that he said something that he said on tape just a couple days before. We didn't have the direct evidence in front of our own eyes as Johnson, Bush or Obama said them. Trump is saying these things as he and we see that they are false. And then doubling down and saying those who didn't see the Emperor's New Clothes are the liars.

All previous versions of these "Alternative Facts" gave the person presenting them some "credibility" as the reality wasn't available for us to see and dispute at the instant they were being presented. This one was. How does anyone who is insisting, for example, that you are being attacked by a Grizzly Bear when you are actually eating an Ice Cream Cone, have any credibility? This is what Trump is asking for.

BTW yes, I think that the Mortgage Insurance, ACA, TPP and NAFTA orders he signed desperately needed to happen. But many other very bad heads of state have done some things that were needed also. As Cherokee Organics said, none of this is remotely sustainable. When I look at it from this angle, maybe it's better to get the collapse started in earnest... The fall won't be quite so sudden and steep, still gets to the same place, but better to get going...

I guess what's gnawing on me about this time, is that the lying is totally out in the open and it's made clear to everyone who is able to see the lies that nobody in the government gives a **** that we see them. Maybe I have to look at it from a different perspective, like I said before that one of my Father's associates from the UNAM in Mexico told him in the early 1970's. "What's the difference between Mexico and the U.S.A.? We admit our politicians are liars."

It's just not easy seeing such bastards.

1/23/17, 3:21 PM

Raymond Duckling said...

An honest and civil exposition deserves a response in kind. Thanks for engaging in the discussion. It was probably too much to ask to see the quagmire of American Empire to be settled peacefully.

I personally do not wish ill or harm to you, though you will understand that my simpaties are with the victims of *any* side's witchhunt.

You styled yourselves as warriors; may you have worthy opponents.


It is sad to see you dismiss Bill's contribution as one of the elders of this tribe. Even the kings of yore were in need of their jesters to tell it as it is and not pull any punches. Our host, as bright as he might be, can be a bit ham fisted when dealing with contrarian views. I am yet to see malice there, but that does not mean counterweights are not needed.

1/23/17, 3:26 PM

onething said...
Big Rant,

"From what we have calculated, because of our jump in income, the Affordable Care Act requires us to pay approximately ten thousand dollars in unpaid subsidies. We were paying $211 a month, so when I started expanding my small business and my husband got a series of promotions at his blue collar job and went from 20K to 40K, the ACA responded in kind by cutting off our subsidies and insisting the money owed must be paid back."

Yes, you got caught in a vise. I can imagine that people in Europe or Canada would be horrified. We also had to pay back 800 dollars our first year on Obamacare because I underestimated my income. Having to estimate your income is quite difficult sometimes. But those subsidies are given based on low income, and yours jumped by 20 grand or so. I sometimes think that this kind of thing, hitting hard at "normal" people who have always had insurance that was reasonably affordable, is actually a good thing. Because Americans just don't seem to think about where the money comes from when they don't have to deal with the bills. And when most customers don't deal with the bills, no one pesters the person behind the desk about just what this procedure is going to cost, and no one balks at not being told in advance what it will cost. When you've got 1700 dollar ER visits that constitute a bag of IV fluid,(that you have no clue about while you're incurring that cost) and 30 thousand dollar helicopter rides, insurance can't be affordable because medical care isn't.

1/23/17, 3:32 PM

Ray Wharton said...
Yeah, my annual reading of Zarathustra going on right now is very helpful. Tarantulas, know what I mean! By the way, I want to mention Seung's 'Nietzsche's Epic of the Soul: Thus Spoke Zarathustra' just discovered it, and I glowingly recommend it to Nietzsche nerds. Since college I have argued that TSZ needs to be read as a novel, a work of fiction with a changing main character and a plot. But it is also one of the most difficult books to actually sort out the plot. Seung's book is a companion that offers his take on what is going on with Zarathustras development and epic adventure in the soul. I disagree with large parts of Seung's version of the story, and I have my own take on the plot, but he has a lot of jems too in making sense of details I had never noticed. Sorry for being off topic, but its worth saying so for down thread.

Back on topic. Greer, you have been emotionally preparing for something you knew not what for a long time, and have said well in the past how much hard work there is in it. I think that your diagnosis in this post failed to reach the depth of the distress currently circulating. When I posted my guesses about what may happen earlier one option I would currently emphasize more is that the rejection of Trump will cripple the country. Maybe that's not in the cake yet, but I am concerned a mindless mob of problems might persist long enough to really ham string things. To avoid this Trump needs to play a very top game, I don't know. Under the best of circumstances the amount of hens coming home in the next few years would be difficult, but if Trump gets blamed for the chickens that were already in route that will be a mess.

Trump needs to be help accountable to a very high degree, not out of unfairness to him, and not compared to the dead end path of the last generation, but because a high level of performance is needed.

Now that you have chased off the people I don't want to say this in front of, even with current events I am more fearful of left wing authoritarianism, even though I am naturally predisposed to liberalism. The key sign that Trump is not a Fascist is that he has no ideology or youth movement.

But, on the other hand, I still need to think more carefully about Spengler's suspicion that the end game of the west will be under charismatic instead of ideologic leadership... I have meditated to some degree about ideology and its dangers, but it occurs to me at this very moment that ideology may no longer have the power. That the impotence of ideology is the lament of the left, which on its fringes has never really let go of the dream of Marx. Still, I think that Trump is an early and still hazy image of the rule of personality. The meaning of ideological rule is now known, in its horrors. But, I know not the nature of personality as law... though in effect it is the superseeding of the rule of law in the long run.

I think for a very large group of people this is a real religious crisis, which of course is the disadvantage of a this-worldly faith, one must be ready to be wrong! The prejudices that this post lampooned are I think much deeper than matters of class. They go down to epistemological roots.

1/23/17, 3:59 PM

DoubtingThomas said...
@JMG: I try not to think in terms of opposites at all at least not in this sort of context. I am not a fan of blame culture [ or the ego's need to punish but thats a different topic ] so I assign no value to the blame game. I come at all of this from the perspective that we are individually responsible for what we attract in to our field of experience ( a bit like the LOA ) and that we are all one so what happens to someone else happens in some way to me.

I have no problem with pointing out "oppression" or challenging it or going after it but I prefer that to be accompanied with "and this is what someone hasn't done or can do in order to not be oppressed". [ I'm sure I have said that before but perhaps not as clearly and perhaps on one of the old posts I commented upon or perhaps even on your other blog.. I don't remember. ]

If highlighting the oppression comes by itself then it can encourage people to simply do the endemic thing of "oh it is their fault, I can feel superior|better because it is something over there's fault and there is nothing I need to do.". That is kind of how oppressors get away with using demonisation of minorities by trigger latent prejudices and fears ( for example ).

You might have made the mistake of "assuming" something I did not intend. I, like you, do try to be clear in my communications but I'm not perfect at it. As an aside, and perhaps to facilitate understanding I quite like the 4 Agreements ( by Don Miguel Ruiz ) - one of which is "Make no assumptions" - not always easy but I try.

So this [ "I tend to think that the opposite of one bad idea is another bad idea." ] and [ "The opposite of blaming someone else for someone's predicament usually amounts to blaming the person in question for their own predicament, even when the blame is nicely giftwrapped in language of empowerment." ] are both way off base in the context of my comments.

I did use a turn of phrase above akin to "people getting of their backsides and doing something about their problems" but that wasn't intended in a blame game punitive fashion but more of an attempt to get them to recognise their own power so yes "empowerment".

I think empowerment is a great word especially around the oppressed who might be inclined to believe that they lack power because they feel oppressed. Other useful concepts are humility ( which leads to true understanding ) & forgiveness ( releasing old negative patterns ) as they are the tools that need to be employed to break cycles of abusive relationship dynamics.

You lost me somewhat towards the end where you referred to "especially when the latter are preening themselves on their moral virtue". I'm not sure what you are referring to there. You seem to want to apply it to the abusers but I'm not sure what you are relating that to. Please explain. I'm curious.

When I point out the role of the individual in their situation quite often they reach for "blame" and then I go through an explanation like this. [ I apply the same rational to health or dis-ease but again a different topic. First time I discussed that with mother who has had cancer 7 times she said "Oh so my cancers were my fault were they". It took me about a year to shift her from "blame" to "empowerment". ]

1/23/17, 4:30 PM

Dammerung said...
@Izzy - It took me a little while to figure out why your comment filled me with visceral hatred. Then I finally realized it. See, the thing is, everybody knows that the price of a woman nowadays is a couple drinks, especially if you're a Level 2 fascist and lift weights or have a ruggedly manly hobby or something. But when it comes to having a family - the age of marriage; divorce rates; STD infections; and below-replacement level childbirths tell a story all their own. Your comment was a grim reminder for just how degenerate our society has become.

1/23/17, 4:44 PM

DoubtingThomas said...
@Ray Wharton: You had me in fits with one of your comments above. It related to fossils. Thank you. I had started to get a bit grumpy given the tenor of some of the above.

@Damerrung: No offence intended. Really. I say what I think especially in this arena. It needs it. I appreciate that you need to big yourself & your alleged affiliated "millions?" of cohorts up in order to feel powerful. It is of course just trash talk for now. Something to massage the ego. It's quite a normal response. Don't worry. Nothing to feel bad about. Certainly not a criticism just an observation. No doubt the people you want to blame your problems upon and expel also have their trash talkers who would rise to your psyching out challenge. If John's visions of a future post oil comes to pass then you can obviously say good bye to your weapons & machine transport. As I recall the Vietcong managed to do a lot with much less. I suspect the gangs of Mexico, Central America & South America, who seem to be well versed in low tech tactics, would be up for a challenge. They are not big on forgiveness and have no problem with wiping out lots of people while they sleep. Machismo seems to be a popular pastime down that way as well. Still, its up to you of course how you choose to be. Thank you for sharing your perspective. It has been educational watching you interact. Good luck.

@PatriciaMatthews & AugustJonstone - Thanks to you both too. I appreciated your comments.

1/23/17, 5:13 PM

Armata said...
Wow, I am gone for a couple of days and things get really interesting. Glad to see Juhana is back. The reality is that "Winter is Coming", to paraphrase George RR Martin, and people need to decide which side they are on. It seems to me the secular liberals and leftists are on the losing side of history, they just haven't grokked it yet.

Speaking of the points Juhana made, Spengler made a couple of specific predictions. One was that the Second Religiousness would appear in the West, probably taking the form of a resurgence of Christian traditionalism reminiscent of Medieval Christianity. I think we can already see that in Eastern Europe and we will probably see that trend spread into the rest of Europe in the future as the Long Descent, the failures of secular liberalism, the Islamic invasion of Europe and the rise of radical Islam become too obvious to ignore.

Another is rise of Russia as an emerging civilization. According to Spengler, Russia is still in its late Pre-Cultural phase of development and its Springtime is probably some ways off. Still, as Spengler points out, civilizations in their Pre-Cultural and Early Cultural phases are intensely religious by nature. In the case of Russia, this took the form of Orthodox Christianity, followed by a Christian heresy known as Marxism-Leninism, followed in turn by a huge revival of Orthodoxy after the Soviet state collapsed.

So we have two related trends: the resurgence of traditional Christianity in Eastern Europe and the rise of an Orthodox Christian civilization in Russia. Spengler believed the next great civilization would emerge out of Russia and the next great spiritual movement would grow out of Russian Christianity. I think its pretty clear from watching recent events that he was correct, once again.

To add to the videos that Juhana shared, here is the Easter Sunday service from last year in Moscow, attended by Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev. Its quite an impressive display and well worth taking the time to watch, even if you don't speak Russian. The other link is to a blog post by the Saker, discussing the ties between the Orthodox revival in Russia and the VDV (Russian Airborne Forces).

The VDV even has portable churches that can be airdropped to units in the field, complete with icons and jump-qualified clergy. And check out this video of a pro-Russian insurgent artillery battery during the Battle of Debaltsevo in Eastern Ukraine. Notice the banner flying from one of the 2S1 Gvozdika self-propelled howitzers.

The Saker pointed out in an another blog post that during the Chechen Wars, Chechen insurgents would yell "Allahu Akbar!" and Russian soldiers would respond by shouting "Christ is Risen!". Like it or not, the post-modernist West is dying and ancient, atavistic forces are coming back to the fore. The religious and ethnic conflicts that will dominate the foreseeable future have only begun.

1/23/17, 5:14 PM

latheChuck said...
Dammerung - Assuming that you believe in evolution, you probably understand that your transparent skin (and mine), commonly referred to as "white", is a mutation which allowed our ancestors to populate cold northern climates when dietary sources of Vitamin D were scarce. It will persist, of course, when dietary sources of Vitamin D once again become scarce. You don't need to defend it. It will take care of itself, in that part of the world where it is needed.

And, speaking of evolution, this idea of trying to combine racial purity with territorial expansion is a social mutation which was driven practically to extinction when it competed against a diverse social order which recognized the value of sound science, effective medicine, and cooperative behavior when challenged. The problem, as has been discussed here in the context of political purity, is that the purification process leaves a small fraction of the original mixed substances behind. You may have heard that "quantity has a quality of its own."

Have you thought about the logistics of war-band operations? Your folk may need bread, and sauerkraut, for starters. Have you thought about figuring out how to produce them yourself? If you can stuff your own sausage, you have a meal. As empowering as it is to see one's words reproduced on the Internet, there's another kind of power one enjoys when sharing good food from your own hands before the mouths of others. Bread (especially whole-wheat) takes a few hours, sauerkraut takes a few weeks, and growing food takes months to years, so you'll need patient persistence; but the emergency is not yet upon us. The more self-sufficient we are now, the more resilient we'll be in the future. What have you done for the soil lately?

1/23/17, 5:47 PM

Caryn said...

Sorry, I seem to be consistently miscommunicating or articulating my question. I also apologize for dragging up this, "brutish"/culture-of-abuse/acceptace-or-normalization?" issue again. It is in fact OT or at best a side issue.
Gratefully, in you reply to Patricia, I think I can clarify.

"I'm finding it uncomfortable that Caryn would use so loaded a term as "brutish" when talking about the coping mechanisms other women use to deal with the ugly realities of their lives. "

I'm not disparaging my friends or their coping mechanisms. The word 'brutish' was, (or should have more clearly been) used to describe those very ugly realities of their lives. My biggest point in this was that upon returning to the US, I happened upon these ladies in 2 months, in 2 different states. IMHO, It's pretty extreme and I would have thought rare, or at least not so ubiquitous as it is appearing now. SO my question is: Is the openness, casualness and normalization of this abuse widespread? Is it a normal facet of life for pockets or swaths of our population? Has it always been this way and I've been living under a rock? Is it by and large unusual and yet just some weird coincidence that I've met a flurry of ladies with the same opening greetings? (I mean, you know, stuff does happen, it could be just some weird coincidence? It's pretty freaky though.)

I wasn't actually asking if you, personally condone it. I think I can safely say from reading your thoughts and philosophies for the past few years, that you most certainly would not.

Now: If this is still not clear, then I concede. I'll just stay quiet.

In my best Roseanne Roseanna Danna: "Nevermind".

Lastly: Whew! Tough crowd this week! LOL, I also wanted to say - I do appreciate that you take the time the reply to every single comment; & I can't speak for others, but for me, please don't feel obligated. Particularly if a comment is, (as this week) somewhat OT or peripheral.

1/23/17, 5:59 PM

Shane W said...
I haven't noticed a lot of domestic violence amongst the wage class women I work with, and as a gay man, I'm used to gaining the confidence of women who discuss a lot of intimate details. The big theme amongst my wage class female coworkers seems to be sex, sex, sex, toys, kink, more toys, more kink, more sex, did I mention sex, toys, and kink? I guess it's the aftereffects of Fifty Shades of Gray. I understand it, as I come from a region with a long history of sexual repression, it makes sense that the wage class, which is slower to change, is bingeing on the formerly taboo, though it does get tiresome, and I do sometimes long for good old-fashioned taste and discretion, even if I have no qualms at all about the practices and have indulged myself.
I'm reserved about just what might be possible in a Trump presidency precisely b/c of that underlying dark energy in the US that I mentioned in the comment last week that is finding expression. So what if Trump manages to end the neoliberal consensus and manage the crises that are to come if the nation has this underlying dark energy that's every bit as bad as 30s-40s Europe? It may not be enough. Simply handling the nuts and bolts policy, etc. may not be enough to diffuse the underlying dark energy that is dying to be expressed.
Along those lines, I must agree w/JMG about the disturbing trends in the leftward end of things. I've noticed minds shutting down as the election season has given way to the presidency. For God's sake, last year Tavis Smiley was writing about "black folk getting on the Trump train" and similar articles were appearing about Trump's LGBT overtures. Now, it's all ranting about "bigotry" all the time. I've seen people who were thoughtful in the aftermath of the election shut down into mouthing standard talking points about "bigotry".
As someone who is well aware of this history of the South, I cannot look towards reenacting the Reconstruction to Civil Rights period of racial animus and hostility without an overwhelming sense of dread. This is the most diverse region of the country, and anyone who knows the history of the South/Confederacy rightly would look upon racial strife with a sense of dread. Even here in KY, which modeled lawful desegregation. Even though my region was not part of Mexico, we share an agrarian, class stratified history and are kindreds in many ways, and I fully expect Mexico to be the most powerful nation in North America in not too many years, and I find the people, on the whole, to be extremely gracious, kind, generous, and well mannered. Honestly, based on my experiences and what I expect of the future, 10 Mexicans are worth 100 jüeros, based on thrift, community, industry, values, etc. Just look at how the jüeros are self-destructing over the election. On the other hand, I would have to say that, on the whole, the African-American community as a whole is going to keep its time-honored tradition of holding the bag, with notable exceptions. I'm thinking that Trump may be able to peel off some of the Democrats captive constituencies if his policies have tangible benefits for those communities

1/23/17, 6:23 PM

Shane W said...
Honestly, if you're from the South and over 30, I don't see how you can possibly interact with Mexican immigrants regularly and not be reminded of where we came from and what was lost. It's always in my mind: "I remember when we used to be like that."

1/23/17, 6:27 PM

Ozark Chinquapin said...

Have you ever considered that starting a race war could backfire on whites in a major way? The whole modern concept of race developed during a particular episode of history, one where the an inordinate amount of global power was concentrated in the hands of white people. That era is rapidly coming to an end. Conflict is sure to happen in future America and the rest of the world too, and if whites become known as being extremist fanatics who can't co-exist with anyone else, that's just going to unite others against whites. Since you bring up Nazi Germany, I have to say that whatever your personal opinions of them are, the fact is that they lost. The Nazis created a horrible mess for their own people as well as others. If Nazi Germany hadn't been in the thrall of such an extreme ideology, they may have gotten more allies and been able to win the war, or even have been able to improve their position in the world without starting the biggest war in history. Even if ethical matters don't concern you one bit, you have to admit that the Nazis were losers in the literal sense, and any group seeking to emulate them has a good chance of meeting a similar fate.

That's not to say that I think the complete opposite, open borders, is a good idea either. Securing borders, restricting new immigration and deporting illegal immigrants is one matter, but driving out citizens en masse solely based on their ethnicity is a can of worms that I hope never to see opened.

1/23/17, 6:29 PM

Robert Mathiesen said...
I'm not a Boomer, Dammerung. I'm a card-carrying member of the Silent Generation, the only generation in the history of the country that never produced a President, and who yielded far less than its proportional share of all kinds of elected officials. Don't confuse us with the Boomers, who (by and large) grabbed what they could from us as well as from you and felt entitled to do so.

We Silents grew up in a far more dangerous, sneaky, treacherous and divided world than the Boomers ever experienced -- more so, it seems to me, than the world of today. We, too, "are quite ingenious when it comes methods of committing violence." When we do fight we don't bother to fight fairly. Nor do we worry all that much about ethics or morality when the lives of our own kindred are at stake. And as we age, we trust more and more in the ancient adage: "Age and treachery nearly always win out against youth and strength." My generation, in its old age, has acquired a very deep understanding of treachery.

So thank you for exposing so many of your vulnerabilities in your posts this week. They show me and my generation very clearly how to win the war you hope to start. This week you have played Smaug to our Bilbo.

Along the lines of what Ray Wharton said, I should also mention that my wife and her relatives on her mother's side (who are very many) are all half Hispanic. Your program threatens them, and thus gives me a very personal stake in the coming conflict. 'nuff said.

Raymond Duckling, too, has a very good understanding of how this conflict will almost certainly be won by the Mexican side, and has spotted some of your side's most useful vulnerabilities. It is useful and inspiring to know what one's own ancestors were capable of doing in similar situations. If I were a betting man, I would bet that the Mexicans will win any future war for "ethnonationalist dominion" in the Southwest quarter of the US.

1/23/17, 7:15 PM

Jbarber said...
JMG, thank you. Eric S helped me see the posts as frustration, so my choice of "disdain" was off.
Also, is it odd that the introduction to The Iliad was harder to read than the actual text? lol. It was written by Richmond Lattimore, copyright 1951. Without his introduction I would have been rather lost, I must admit, but reading it was like walking through molasses for my brain.

1/23/17, 7:22 PM

onething said...
Something very strange is happening. Something almost occult, maybe karmic forces. The word “bewitched” keeps coming to mind. This thing is way bigger than Trump. Perhaps his presidency is a catalyst for it, but if things go bad, it will be because so many people wanted it to. Like the concept of a Manchurian candidate, who gets the right signal and then goes into a trance and commits a crime, it looks to me like huge chunks of the population have been given the signal.

Fred said, “The left is obsessed and distracted by Trump and they don't even see it.”

Yes, yes. Please listen to Fred. People are giving so much energy to erecting an edifice of explosives. Trump isn't building it, the reactive populace is building it. Who bewitched you?

Hateful and careless mendacity – isn't this true of many? Dismissive humanity and shallow spirituality? Why all the incredible attention that includes twisting of words and taking them out of context when the politicians that the left are mourning lie, cheat, steal, and keep bombing people? So they talk nice about Muslims and then bomb them? So Obama said the call of the Muezzin is the most beautiful sound in the world. But he bombs them. Oh, heck, Obama doesn't bomb them in a vacuum. There are so many collaborators.

"In my view it was always going to be the fact-loathing, worker-exploiting, anti-science, crypto-religious, violence-hungry, bigoted nativists who were going to run us into the bank of history."

Livingstone, you are in an echo chamber.
Right now it really looks like “the disaster that awaits us” may be coming from the left, not from the people you categorize above. I experience such cognitive dissonance when reading posts like yours because it is as if no matter how bad the crimes are on the democratic or left side of the equation, they are dismissed as somehow not amounting to much.

One anti Hillary friend a few months ago quipped, “What would she have to do, rip the heads off of kittens on live TV to get their attention?”

I saw this election as between a narcissist and a psychopath. Both are serious personality disorders, but one is worse. Apparently that is the best we could do. When I read certain posts, some of what they say is true enough, but large swathes of it are outright exaggerations. Suddenly Trump is under a kind of scrutiny (and I am all for that) but where was this scrutiny before? Why the free pass to the other side? So many accusations are equally true of large numbers of politicians and elites, certainly including Clinton. Maybe this proves my theory of projection, and because we are full of hate and guilt, we blame it that any way to handle things?

I think what we need is a national day of repentance in sackcloth and ashes.

1/23/17, 7:43 PM

Bryant said...
As a Person of Color who identifies with the Alt-Right, I'm very appreciative of this post. I think the left has somehow slipped into a world of their own, and have zero desire to actually compromise or respect the viewpoints of anyone else, even someone who is basically just trying to get away from them.

So, at this point, I'll rather be with people who might want to kill me later, than to accept people who basically want to destroy my sense of right and wrong now. Killing all meaning for me is worse than death.

1/23/17, 8:05 PM

sandy said...
@Vicky. Greetings from the Big Mango (BKK). I would be sorry to see Bill go also. However he is not the most intelligent commenter, I am. haha.

With regard to your comparison of voter income to core (30%, 70%,?) alt- right, please remember, correlation is not causation.

Relax and enjoy the ride haha. chill.

Regards, Pearce M. Schaudies.
Minister of Future

1/23/17, 8:29 PM

Caryn said...

I just want to thank Patricia, Karen, Scotlyn, Doubting Thomas and especially Shane for replying with helpful perspectives; and of course, our esteemed Archdruid and gracious host for having us here in his virtual living room and overseeing this difficult discussion.

1/23/17, 9:35 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Sister BoysMom, oh, granted. I don't think Conan said anything about watching your foes run about clucking frantically like frenzied chickens, but he probably should have.

Justin, exactly. There needs to be some basis for a national identity; Dammerung's mistake (and of course it's not his alone, or the alt-right's alone; there are plenty of people on the other side of the color bar who make the same error) is in thinking that race is the only possible basis. Given the popularity of Julius Evola on the far right these days, you'd think that his concept of Ghibelline-imperial culture as the unifying force would be more popular! An alt-center could very easily unite around traditional American ideals -- with an acknowledgment that those ideals haven't always been lived up to, but a celebration of the many times and ways they have been -- and such a unifying force, given its historical depth, could have great power. You're right that this would involve a forceful rejection of the radical left's demonization of men, people of European ancestry, and so on, but that's going to have to happen anyway, and I'd much prefer to see it happen on the basis of ideals that I value, rather than those that I personally detest.

Izzy, glad to hear it. This nation's political system only works well when there are two parties with strong foundations at the grassroots level. As for fragile masculinities, well, yeah; I remember being adolescent, and needing to learn some basic social skills in order to get laid; I also remember being a little older, and needing to learn a larger range of social skills in order to establish and maintain a lasting relationship. Somehow I didn't find any of it particularly painful, and my wife and I celebrated our 32nd anniversary last July. So I also wonder where all the shrieking is coming from.

Bob, I'm glad to hear that sanity is beginning to creep through the (wise)cracks.

Wbricex, you're welcome. Hmm -- you may well have a point there.

Kevin, thank you. I'll see if I can chase down the other one -- I saw it, too, and was fool enough not to bookmark it.

August, oh, no question, it makes a difference that it's right out there in the open -- and that's going to involve some dizzying shifts. I could see a really spectacular crisis of legitimacy spiraling out of this to embrace literally all the institutions of American public life -- not least because all of them have been cooking up their own "alternative facts."

Ray, that's possible. I've seen so much overt class bigotry directed at working class Americans in recent years that I'd be slow to discount its importance in the current mess, but this wouldn't be the first time that a cultural crisis was overdetermined! I'll have to mull that over, though.

DoubtingThomas, it's entirely possible that I read something into your comment that doesn't belong there. I should probably mention, though, that I don't consider the Law of Attraction to be generally valid -- I got to see way too many people bankrupt themselves in the housing bubble by following the advice of The Secret, for one thing, and of course traditional occult teachings don't support the claims made for the LoA. Still, that's really a topic for the other blog.

Armata, I have to admit the thought of jump-qualified staretsi made my day!

1/23/17, 10:34 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Caryn, okay, thanks for clarifying; I did in fact misunderstand you. I can't speak for women, of course, but the majority of women I know well enough to discuss such things have had to deal with at least some of the sort of sexual harrassment we're discussing, and this is nothing new -- it goes back many decades. I'm not sure if you've been living under a rock or just happened to escape it, but to judge from what I've been told, it's pretty ubiquitous and has been for a very long time.

Jbarber, thank you. I appreciate that. As for Lattimore's preface -- well, yes, there's a reason why Homer is world-famous as a writer and Richmond Lattimore isn't!

Onething, you know, actual repentance, with or without the sackcloth and ashes, might actually do the trick. I don't imagine we'll see that, with all sides zooming on a bad dose of moral self-righteousness, but if it could be done, it might work.

Bryant, I get that. A significant fraction of the American left has gone full-blown totalitarian, complete with such Orwellian touches as thoughtcrime and the frantic rewriting of history by the tenured academics of the Ministry of Truth. The one thing I'd suggest to you is that there are alternatives other than the activist left and the alt-right.

Caryn, you're welcome and thank you.

1/23/17, 10:41 PM

Vesta said...
@Raymond Duckling,

My bad, I was unclear. On the contrary, I respect and admire Bill, not least for his willingness to push back against JMG (and others as well).

What I disagree with is your suggestion that our host wants or encourages sycophants. Where are they hiding? It's been more than a decade, there ought to be a right chorus by now...

And if it really were so, then explain how folks with such disparate opinions, values, and backgrounds can here so fruitfully discuss so many important and sensitive issues? Much as I admire Bill, that's entirely JMG's doing, and he doesn't deserve your sly insult (nor does he need me to defend him, but I've been drinking).

And I do enjoy your posts Raymond. Cheers-

1/23/17, 10:47 PM

onething said...
Bryant your post was, as the English say, brilliant.

Alt-center, count me in.

1/23/17, 11:04 PM

Ray Wharton said...
I agree that class bigotry is very important. Following my line of thought from Nietzsche I am more and more thinking that the basis of the divide is on a fault line through of values. Wouldn't you agree that their is only a frog hair distinction between 'values bigotry' and moral hubris? If you hold to a moral system with hubris, conflating your values as something true or certain, then it is so tiny a distance to seeing other values as certainly faulty.

If your values are certainly true, than opposed values are false. Even if belief in objective truth is lacking, and a pragmatic take is assumed than to believe that your values cannot lose is a shiver away from believing opposed values cannot win.

The alternative of such hubris requires tolerance for uncertainty; radical uncertainty it is fair to day.

I think that there is class hubris, and I think that it is closer to the marrow. If I am right, then knowing what a person is proud of would show what they this in despicable.

Pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source. True humility is the only antidote to shame. - from one of my favorite cartoons.

Every complaint against Trump from a place of hypocrisy will glorify Trump. Because of that circumstances have deprived the left, from the first day, of many tactics to check him. Those who separate from the lies of parties past need not have this liability, and can effectively create political pressure to define the post Globalist ideology.

What would an Alt-Center look like?

This week's thread has been good process.

1/23/17, 11:33 PM

Jes Gallagher said...
Dammerung, please tell us more about yourself. I've yet to encounter such a silver-tongued Nazi. I imagine your story will be quite instructive.

1/24/17, 12:04 AM

Robert Mathiesen said...
I particularly like JMG's term alt-center. For decades, whe asked to specify my own political position, I've replied, "I'm a radical moderate." That answer generally makes no sense at all to the people who asked me. I think I will start answering "alt-center" now and see what happens.

1/24/17, 2:46 AM

Robert Mathiesen said...
Oh, I know, M. Smith, I know. I'm half Danish American, a quarter Pennsylvania Dutch, and the remaining quarter is mostly English, with a smidgin of Dutch and French Canadian. I'm a 14th-generation American, and my most recent ancestors came here from Denmark right after our Civil War ended. I was using the term "Anglo" loosely, as the usual cover-term for people in the Southwest whose first language is English instead of Spanish.

1/24/17, 2:51 AM

Fred the First said...
The alternate facts is on all fronts. One of the organizers of the women's march, Linda Sarsour, has been on recent TV interviews and on Twitter advocating for Sharia law to be enacted in this country, and the Huffington Post writes a piece talking about the "trolling" she is getting on social media for advocating Sharia law.

She does support Sharia law coming to the US, and people disagree with that position, expressed it to her on social media (the same forum she used to express it), so what is the issue?

And now celebrities and journalists with their precious blue check marks next to their names on Twitter are coming out in support of a woman who wants Sharia law to be adopted by states. Are they trying to start a civil war in this country? To ask Americas to adopt a completely different set of laws and values, ones with conflict with the liberal left in every sense, is going to push even middle-of-the-road people to the right. Plus its everything the alt-right media has been saying for years - the left wants to destroy America and will have Sharia here if they get their way.

I'm always confused that if someone wants to live in particular culture and law system, why they just don't go live in the country or region it originated in. Why try to change the place where you live to make it be like the place you left? Why did you even come to this country if you want to live like you did in your previous country? If it was for education or job opportunities here, then go back and create them in your country.

I'm starting to sound like my grandparents!

1/24/17, 4:30 AM

Fred the First said...
Thanks for your reply about the women's march. Did you see the comments of women, I'm assuming by the names, who said that "if you call a person a woman because she has a vagina and t*ts, then you are a sexist?" They were protesting the whole idea of the women's march being identified with women, or so called women.

It almost sounds like`an Onion piece. I mean really, when you have someone's attention you are going to use it to argue biology? The most evil person that ever existed is now the President of the US (this is the impetus for the march) and you take your five minutes of fame to denounce your fellow marchers for calling themselves a gender noun that has been in existence for thousands of years? Wow. (Slow clapping)

Where does this thinking originate? I keep hearing college campuses, but which ones? And its got to keep getting fed somehow.

I have daughters graduating high school shortly, and if they go to college, I want to avoid having their minds filled with this stuff.

1/24/17, 4:41 AM

Izzy said...
@Dammerung: There's so much wrong with your reaction that I can't begin to describe it. But as someone who's 34 and doesn't intend to marry or have a LTR, has a good deal of fun with the partners I choose, and finds a "below-replacement birth rate" a good thing on a planet with seven billion people, I figure if I'm inspiring visceral hatred in insecure white guys I'm doing something right.

@JMG: Yeah, I'm not sure either. My suspicion is that, as women are in more of a position to pick our own partners (thanks to birth control and jobs), are being increasingly less shamed for our sexuality and the physical components thereof*, (save by the equivalent of a couple people here, which, meh) and are also voting with our money for media that features women in non-disposable-love-interest roles, a certain population of young men today cannot deal. Or will not, rather: I'm of the opinion that they could pull up their socks and go to the gym more.

Agreed about the two parties. As a leftist, I would love to see a GOP with the principles it had in, say, the Eisenhower era, or even the Bush I era, where he signed the ADA and the Clean Water Act.

* As a romance novelist, I occasionally see links to articles about how romance is inspiring unrealistic standards in women, and I always suspect that the authors mean "any standards at all."

1/24/17, 4:48 AM

DoubtingThomas said...
@bryant: "As a Person of Color who identifies with the Alt-Right, I'm very appreciative of this post. I think the left has somehow slipped into a world of their own, and have zero desire to actually compromise or respect the viewpoints of anyone else, even someone who is basically just trying to get away from them.

So, at this point, I'll rather be with people who might want to kill me later, than to accept people who basically want to destroy my sense of right and wrong now. Killing all meaning for me is worse than death."

Hi Bryant,

1) I'm curious what the alt-right means to you? 2) What is your definition of the alt-right? You say you want to get away from them - the left. 3) Get away from what, specifically, and to where ?

You say that you want to get away from the Left because they want to destroy your sense of right and wrong and that begs 2 more questions. 4) Why would you allow your sense of right and wrong to be defined by anyone else? 5) What is it about your sense of right and wrong that is so assailable?

The left/right of any persuasion are just people and you will find them all over the planet, within families, within every social structure. Wherever you go to on the planet you will encounter left and right people. Even if you never moved around and stayed fixed in one location those other people would still exist and you run the risk of a "left" person manifesting within your own family - perhaps even one of your own offspring.

It seems to me that you are painting yourself as a victim when you say "people who basically want to destroy my sense of right and wrong" when in fact you are not a victim - it's a personal choice whether you subscribe to someone else's views or not.

My understanding is that the alt-right "is a loose group of people with far-right ideologies who reject mainstream conservatism in the United States. White nationalist Richard Spencer coined the term in 2010 to define a movement centered on white nationalism, and has been accused of doing so to whitewash overt racism, white supremacism, and neo-Nazism.".

It strikes me as rather extreme for you to say that you, a person of colour, would prefer to align yourself with people who don't value you at all because of your colour and they would actually want nothing to do with you. The likes of commenter Dammerung above has false beliefs of the type "urban blacks do 0 introspection" - that would be his way of demonising & dehumanising You in order to justify his beliefs about people of colour.

So you are aligning yourself with people who outright reject you in order to get away from people who cannot impose their beliefs upon you without your conscious permission.

I've asked 5 questions of you, a lot I know, but I would love to hear what your answers would be.

1/24/17, 5:18 AM

DoubtingThomas said...
@JMG: Oh I agree that the LOA as presented in The Secret is rubbish. Commercialised tat worthy of disdain. The Secret is a knock off from Hicks/Abraham who in turn knocked of their spiel from a tiny interpretation of small section the much larger body of work by Seth/Roberts. Having read around 15 of the Seth/Roberts books it is clear that there is much much more. 40-50 years prior to Seth, the Alice Bailey series of works from the 1930s are also good although I don't claim to have read all 27 volumes. Being the occult scholar you know all this I'm sure. My reading range on the larger topic is patchy. I mentioned LOA as a simplistic way ( given the space restrictions ) of raising the idea "that how we are and what we do attracts the experiences we receive". That condensed expression is itself highly simplified. The high ceremony magic side of things is also interesting although perhaps to elaborate for my tastes but I'm exploring it. As you well know it is just another framework within which to operate. So far my favourite conceptual one is Seth, its permissive and pretty much allows for the others that I have encountered. As you say, for the other blog.

1/24/17, 5:40 AM

David, by the lake said...
I know this post is not about Trump directly, but the class theme continues to run through events. More to the point, the blindness of Democratic leadership to the change in the game.

Apparently, "senior Democratic senators" have unveiled a massive infrastructure proposal in an effort to embarrass the administration, drive a wedge within the Republican camp, and more or less call (what they see as) Trump's bluff. Now, the devil is in the details, of course, but I could readily see this backfiring on them massively, as they are once again assuming that he is a standard conservative and not this new-thing to the game (a bone fide and irreverent populist who holds traditional Republican orthodoxy in low esteem). If he takes them up on their offer and rams that kind of spending through Congress (twitter-whipping Republicans as necessary), creating large numbers of working class jobs with the stroke of a pen, they will have handed him another four years right out of the gate.

1/24/17, 6:33 AM

Bogatyr said...
@JMG and Kevin Warner: I wonder if this American Conservative article might be the one you were looking for re the NYT deciding on the day's narrative? How the narrative is made.

Something is definitely in the air. As I've been telling my friends for a while now, the end of the post WW2 global system is upon us, and the change is becoming palpable. Things will change, and for most people it will be for the worse. In an age of scarcity, things like Faerie Festivals will become unsustainable, I suspect; I wonder whether the mass pearl-clutching this week, and Bill Pulliam's dramatic exit, reflect the fact that the decline you've been discussing for so long was a pleasant abstraction to lots of your readers, readers who now digesting the unwelcome news that it's them, not "other people", who are in the front line of collapse? Meanwhile, in the voice of Dammerung, we hear the gloating of nascent warbands... not an abstraction, but armed, planning, and waiting.

Manwhile, I've had to block old friends on Facebook; I feel it's no longer safe to have open and honest political discussions. These arguments have become so bitter, I worry about who might remember them, and I worry for my family. I'm very much mixed as regards Trump; I feel he'll be a disaster in many ways - but, in more important ways, he's far better than Clinton would have been. This, however, is anathema to the campus liberals who form a large part of my social circle.

Some of your readers say that it must have felt like this before the American Civil War. I can't comment on that, but to me it feels like February 1917 in Russia. The Tsar(ina) has finally abdicated, and the only system the people have ever known as been swept away. Abroad, the war continues but the soldiers are already coming home, angry and embittered. Diplomatically, the nation is stalemated, faced by opponents waxing in their power. At home, the Black Hundreds terrorize the streets, seeking to restore the ancient regime in which no-one but them believes any longer; in the provinces, former serfs burn down mansions while the authorities look on, helpless. The people are disillusioned; hungry, alienated, and sickened with the corruption of those in power.

A political adventurer, a mediocrity with a Napoleon complex, takes power. For all his failings, he's the country's last, best hope to establish a moderate system before the final slide into collapse. Meanwhile, revolutionaries no-one has heard of, in back rooms in farflung places, plot and hope for a lucky break.

I find myself wondering: is Trump America's Kerensky?

1/24/17, 7:05 AM

DoubtingThomas said...
@onething: “Yes, yes. Please listen to Fred. People are giving so much energy to erecting an edifice of explosives. Trump isn't building it, the reactive populace is building it. Who bewitched you?

Correction: Both pro-Trump & anti-Trump people alike are building it, including Trump.

Outpourings of divisive loathing and supercilious disdain emanate from both pro/anti Trump sides and Trump. It’s false to try to say only one side is. Some people on this blog are building it too by trying to blame one side to the exclusion of ( presumably ) their favoured side.

Plenty of anti-Trumpers are blinded to the faults of Hilary or Obama but most certainly not all of them.
Likewise, plenty of pro-Trumpers are blinded to the faults of Trump or any number of previous Republican candidates but again not all.

Going back to Obama’s 2 election wins, there was a significant amount of similar activity about “Obama not being someones president” about “the legitimacy of Obama to be president” ( n.b. Trump himself played that card back then ), about “the danger Obama represented to someones way of living/being/life/beliefs” etc and the list goes on … Everyone expressing those sentiments will have had their own unique set of reasons for doing so. None of this is really new.

I see plenty of self-serving hypocrisy from most of those involved.

1/24/17, 7:24 AM

DoubtingThomas said...
@onething: "I saw this election as between a narcissist and a psychopath. … Both are serious personality disorders, but one is worse"

Trump clearly has narcissistic traits. Hillary as psychopath? That’s a tough one to diagnose even for professionals well versed in the field but lets assume for the sake of debate that Hilary is a Psychopath. I struggle with the assumption that one is worse than the other. The actions of anyone with either of those personality disorders are going to lie on a spectrum with negative to positive scales. Both have historically done arguably bad things. The people on the receiving end of those “bad" actions will judge one to be worse than the other. I can point you to a Scottish community who are up in arms about the financial, coercive & abusive tactics engaged in by Trump. Equally, no doubt there are people in bombed out parts of the world who don’t have nice things to say of Hilary. Every accusation laid at the feet of one candidate can, in some way, be laid at the other ( perhaps with a slight change of form ).

2 rubbish candidates and Trump won. Time to stop pointing at Hilary. Pointing at her is a diversion/distracting tactic. Having won, Trump deserves the full cognitive attention of every person whose lives may be affected by his behaviours, his personality disorder, his insecurities, his actions.

“Maybe this proves my theory of projection, and because we are full of hate and guilt, we blame it that any way to handle things?

You might appreciate reading some books on Psychology then - “Projection” is a well known phenomena endemic in the world. It is done by pretty much everyone, but in my experience increasingly less so by those who have progressed (via psychoanalytical therapy or in other ways) a significant way along the path of “Knowing Thyself” ( one of the basic tenets of many belief systems ). Interesting things start to happen when a certain threshold of self knowledge is developed - but until that point “projecting” and “blaming others” is a fairly standard way of being in most people. I don’t usually recommend specific books since I believe it is better for people to choose their own. One of the hardest things for anyone to see is themselves - the good and the bad. Knowing Thyself requires brutal self honesty and a refusal to hide from the bad (relativistic term i know) within us - it’s the way to heal those darker corners.

Suddenly Trump is under a kind of scrutiny ... but where was this scrutiny before?

Does it really matter where it was before? The Now is where the power for change is. Focussing on past failings doesn't really help. Learning from the past sure but getting stuck in “blame” / “guilt” about the past is unnecessary and holds back development.

1/24/17, 7:25 AM

DoubtingThomas said...
@onethig: "I think what we need is a national day of repentance in sackcloth and ashes."

Love it! Perhaps more "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" than blame and mea culpas though ?

1/24/17, 7:27 AM

Dammerung said...
@Ozark Chinquapin - My version of history is a little more revisionist, naturally. I view Hitler as having lost against the same people and for essentially the same reasons as Qaddafi, though you've got to admit, Hitler put up a way better showing. The first thing the "rebels" did in Libya, before they even infiltrated the capital, is set up Libya's first central bank. Once they took the capital, they exported all of Libya's gold for safe-keeping. It really gets the noggin joggin'.

Well! You've certainly got to hand it to JMG for hitting this nation right in the angst. It's certainly a pretty motley crew that is drawn together to discuss environmental concerns and resource depletion; some of us strike me as downright disreputable.

1/24/17, 8:43 AM

Nastarana said...
Dear Rant, I think the women's marches were mostly white, if indeed they were, I will take your word for it for sake of discussion, because this is essentially a quarrel among white folk--women of color have their own issues, which are best left for them to deal with as they choose. I saw the marches, large and peaceful so far as I know, no broken windows or heads, as a way of saying to the Trump crowd, OK you got your superannuated, blowdried and botoxed strongman with his featherbrained decorative consort, but if you think that means all us ladies are going to meekly move back in with you and take up servant duties, think again. Most of us saved our money whilst you fellas were blowing yours, and for the older group, the impending cuts in social security are going to hurt, granted, but they will hurt men a lot more than they will us. Like the archdruid said a whiles back, this genie ain't going back in its bottle.

What a lot of folks fail, or don't want, to understand, is that feminism is not and never was about sex. It was always about money, about getting paid what one's work is worth and about having a say in how the wealth we create is to be used. So, the message to (mostly white American) guys is from now on you are paying your own way just like most of us do.

1/24/17, 9:06 AM

L said...
I have a lot of left activist/SJW types on my Facebook, and the thing that gets me is that even though Trump has ALREADY basically scuppered 2 international trade deals, TPP and NAFTA, that they were mostly opposed to the EU version of, and is making US companies build more things in the US, which makes things harder for multinational corporations, long a favourite bugbear for what I thought was the left, they are ignoring that and acting like the sky is falling and Trump will personally lock up all women, gay people and non-whites or something, which, even if he is a narcissist and a liar, he realistically probably won't. Especially since most of these people live in the UK, so they won't even be personally affected by any legislation he would bring in in that regard. They just fall for the mainstream media propaganda about him and jump in bed with the globalist capitalists... it was the same for Brexit, if less extreme.
The other discussion that I saw taking place was the one on whether it was morally ok to punch that alt right guy. Some of them thought that yes, it was, and some thought that punching was bad in all circumstances. Personally I think that most punching is unnecessary in society at the moment, and that you can morally punch someone, but you forfeit your right to complain about them doing the same to you...
This sort of nonsense is why I no longer consider myself a left libertarian, and have made up the label "community-minded eco-libertarian" as the most accurate short descriptor of my own views.

1/24/17, 9:34 AM

Kieran O'Neill said...
Having thought this through as well, I'm with Bill Pulliam, and I don't think I could phrase it better.

I'll also note that I share his concern about your figures and definitions of the working class: the exit polls I saw showed that a majority of poor Americans voted blue in the last election. The exact number shifted slightly since the previous two elections, but much of that can be attributed to lower attendance (at least some of which is due to targeted voter suppression campaigns by the Republican party). Concluding, from a few percentile point swing in the voting patterns of the poorest voters, that the election result was the will of the working class, just doesn't seem to be grounded in fact. It doesn't seem to match particularly well with your own definition of the working class (ie those earning day wages rather than salaries), either. Like Bill, I'm concerned that you're stretching the facts, and the narrative, to fit your hypotheses.

I've learned a lot from your writing over the years, co-published fiction with you, and have even credited you in the acknowledgements section of my PhD thesis. Writing has a feel about it, and your prose had a feel I've come to associate with enlightened discussion; comparators being DM Kraig, Dion Fortune, Peregrin Wildoak, or, for a less esoteric example, Siddhartha Mukherjee. This is something I've worked to incorporate into my own writing, as well as my life practice, since it seems to arise from deep within the psyche.

The last year has seen a substantial shift in much of your writing. I'm finding it more difficult to find that enlightened style and feel; rather, I'm getting more of a feel of Mathers at his worst, or even Crowley. This has been accompanied by a concerning rise in casual racism and sexism among the comments below your blog, including your own! "Hysterical" is a very poor choice of word immediately following a mass protest by women against losing their reproductive rights. Could it have been shadow projection? None of these things seem reflective of an inner state that I've come to expect from someone with your level of experience and work with the sacred, and I'm genuinely concerned about you.

But, like Bill, I'm also not sure that I can stay here. I'm sure I'll drop in from time to time, but I am disappointed, and saddened, by the turn things have taken.

(You are, as always, entirely welcome to take my concerns however you will.)

1/24/17, 10:11 AM

pygmycory said...
The US inaugeration and prior election seems to be taking over Canadian political discussion and making numbers of Canadians run around like chickens clucking frantically, or in a few cases insisting that THEY are going to be Canada's Trump. I have to admit I find it frustrating. It's not even our political mess and it's still messing us over.

Possibly because we have a significant number of underlying problems that are similar, even if we lack the giant military spending, and merely meddle in other people's wars instead of outright starting them.

But surely we could talk about our problems directly, instead of being distracted by the USA's ALL the time? Gah.

1/24/17, 11:13 AM

pygmycory said...
One thing I've noticed that disturbs me is a lot of the left-wing online petition/activism groups seem to have decided to focus on how evil Trump is, rather than attacking specific issues. This means that the injustices that need to be focused on and dealt with if they want to beat Trump won't get addressed! I TOLD them not to do this, and they've gone and done the exact opposite of what I was hoping for.

1/24/17, 11:16 AM

jeffinwa said...
Sorry. The linked to page went to the website that could have been searched for news releases.
This works for the transcript:

1/24/17, 12:15 PM

Tim Camper said...
re: R Spencer/Alt Right, Dolphin claimed "He advocates a white state similar to what the Jewish people have in Isreal."

Untrue. Israel is 25% non-Jewish. Most altright want to deport most/all minorities."Peaceful ethnic cleansing" is Spencer's phrase.

JMG claims Trump is like any other Pres. I argue he will be (w/ help from GOP), by far, the worst ever for the environment .Today's pipeline decisions. Pruitt for EPA (the worst head ever).Perry(!)for Energy. The coming drastic cuts in enviro regulations.The new rule that Congress must approve any new reg. Slashing of climate funding & scientific research. Climate denial (even scrubbed from website already). Slashing of alt energy funding. Tillerson pick for arctic drilling. and much much more already on the agenda. Roll your eyes if you want, but I side with the experts on this. They aren't reacting because they are hysterical SJWs.

1/24/17, 12:16 PM

[email protected] said...

As always, a perceptive and interesting post!

The reaction by some of your long-term readership has been truly fascinating. Those on the "progressive" wing of your readership have clearly been struggling with your thoughts on Trump for over a year now but it seems like the volcano has finally exploded! My own view is that your take that Trump, however unpleasant a individual he maybe, could be smart enough to get the fact that implementing policies which benefit the working/middle classes of America will make him popular is absolutely spot-on.

Naturally, it is a big question whether he will deliver sufficient changes that do materially benefit the bottom 80% of the population. As you correctly state, we can only watch and see in the coming months.

My own view is that the the majority of the progressive/left-wing wing of politics are too emotionally connected to a particular set of politically correct, liberal and values driven identity politics to really change now. Throw in the fact that many are from the upper income echelons and are quite comfortable with the status quo (or are wannabe elites like the protesting students from the elite universities of America) you are watching the end of liberalism as a significant force in politics.

I have found your interests versus values concept very useful in reviewing politics. The main objection to Trump appears to be based on his rejection of the values of modern liberalism and a class based disgust of his "vulgar" personality and tone rather than any appreciation of class based interests.

In Europe, it is interesting to see the growing signs of panic among the political establishment at the prospect of Trump forcing countries to spend money on their own defence. The Brussels bubble appear to hope that the European member-states will unite into some kind of European superpower but it is far more likely that the euro zone and the EU itself will implode in the coming decade.

Regarding Marine Le Pen, the French elections are definitely one to watch. I remain cautiously confident that she will pull off a victory but there are many stumbling blocks and if's before the May elections, so I could certainly be wrong in my forecast.

Keep up the good work and keep bashing away both sides of the political establishment, both the Republicans and Democrats!

1/24/17, 1:46 PM

avalterra said...
Yeah, I'm weighing in on this because I see this comment section as one of the few places where opinions can actually be expressed.

Bob said:
>> if poor and working class white Americans are immune to self-delusion, and are the only rational voters in the electorate.<<

I will not put words into JMG's mouth so I will say that I believe that *all* voters were rational and voted their self-interest. It is the poor working class who are consistently portrayed in the media as *not* voting rationally but rather being driven by ignorance, bigotry and xenophobia apparently even to their own detriment. The proposition being put forth is the radical idea that - no they are not ignorant, and though they may have some racist or xenophobic beliefs (as do most people) that was not their motivation for voting for Trump.

>>I don't know much about Burkean Conservatism, but I assume inciting violence at political speeches is not part of the philosophical framework.<<

"Inciting violence"? How about *actual* violence. I don't see anyone on the alt-right burning vehicles (owned by an immigrant, ironically), sucker punching people on the street, doxxing people or throwing bricks and bottles. If you don't like what they have to say then then meet them on the field of ideas and say something better!


1/24/17, 1:51 PM

Armata said...
As a follow-up to my previous comment, here is a fascinating look at the spiritual roots of both Russia and the Russo-American conflict, based on the theories and observations of Oswald Spengler and Russian thinkers like Fyodor Dostoevsky and Nikolai Berdyaev.

1/24/17, 2:01 PM

. said...
Western societies are going crazy. I've been involved in fairly grassrootsy politics since about 2003 and the contrast to today is hard to fathom. Back then, trying to get people to care much at all about politics was a problem. Today, noticeably since Brexit in particular, people are all over it! The same people who dismissed politics as boring, as unimportant etc seem to have gone from 'meh, whateva' to 'Omigod this stuff is soooo important' almost overnight. It's absolutely eerie to me.

I think a lot of it is the influence of social media. It has allowed people to take their tendencies for birds of a feather to flock together to extremes by creating 24/7 echo chamber reinforcement complete with the cocaine of belonging, status and approval provided by a 'Like' or 'Retweet' mouse click. And that's spilled out into real life.

The other thing I think is happening is that we've apparently never fully dealt with World War Two. It's as if people have been waiting and waiting for the opportunity to role play being heroic anti-fascist resistance fighters in the 1930's all over again. It's mostly the left, liberals and progressives doing that one.

Then the alt right, I think, is tapping into the reality of the end of Progress and the decline and fall of western civilization. But some of them are responding to it by trying to hold back that tide and by personifying it - blaming liberals, the left, feminists etc. - and frankly, overanalyzing it, rather than simply observing that, you know, the dissolution must happen, collapse happens to everyone, and it can only happen through humans actually doing the dissolving job.

And the job of the preservers is to counter them while acknowledging that, however infuriating it might be, the agents of dissolution (however you identify them) are as much a necessary and inevitable part of a dissolving ecosystem as we are. (I'm not alt right but I want to preserve the best of western civilization and culture through this dissolution).

1/24/17, 3:10 PM

Patricia Mathews said...

Data point: From New Scientist, just arrived in my mailbox this afternoon, p5:

"Protest? Yes, we can. We (a British science biweekly) mustn't let a superpower (the USA) turn its back on rationality." Or (from the last line) "...the US will jeopardise not only its own people, but all of humanity."

1/24/17, 3:10 PM

. said...
It's like western societies are collectively struggling with having suddenly heard a rumour that they might have a fatal illness. Or that God/Progress is dead.

Oh and actually I think a thing that might be giving people that feeling especially in Europe is the jarring and persistent appearance on stage of violent religious fanatics who want to recreate their imagined 7th century and who just won't go away. This was not what anyone expected to happen back in,say, the 1960's. People thought that Progress was doing His work and all of that time would take care of all that darkness.

But not only did it not disappear, it grew and spread since then. That's got to be niggling away in the subconscious of a lot of western believers in Progress. And loss of faith is one of the most painful things. I don't know how they're all going to get through it. I know how I did, kind of, but a whole society edging closer to that void just can't end well.

But I remember you saying that the civil religion of an era is basically that of the elites - or was it that the rationalist phase is? And that most people never entirely buy into that. So maybe the majority of people don't end up in the abyss?

Anyway, I suppose on the plane of religious belief the work of those who've been through it already is to help other people find their way across, basically by being demonstrably ok over on the other side. But I see people who I think can't handle it. I think they're too fragile to face it. But then who am I to judge that?

Sometimes it's like they're pushing for opposition, looking to be challenged. Part of that seems to be that opposition shores up their certainty about what they believe so I don't like helping with that because these are all Progress believers I'm talking about. But sometimes these days it feels like they know on some level that reality is not adding up the way it should and they're asking me to help demolish some of their narratives. That's scary though, because they're not really making a conscious decision to lose their faith that way and would they really choose to if they knew what it would involve?

Things feel very dangerous these days. I'm torn between political involvement vs hiding at home and knitting.


1/24/17, 3:11 PM

latheChuck said...
In the last few days, I've learned that the Women's March on Washington was for:
1. unrestricted abortion / reproductive rights,
2. fighting climate change,
3. using travel reservations made in anticipation of Clinton's inauguration,
4. showing Trump that some people don't like him,
5. showing Trump that women can be called back to march again, if the need arises (if/when he actually does something that upsets them),
6. showing solidarity with regard to a platform of issues, even though that was assembled during the march.

Before the march, I heard nothing about what it would be about, only that it would interfere with downtown traffic.

1/24/17, 3:55 PM

Justin said...
JMG, you're forgetting that almost nobody on the alt-right has actually read Evola, and many simply understand him as "Hitler wasn't right-wing enough" - which is perhaps true in a certain sense, but not in the sense that more gas chambers and secret police were the solution. Of course, the alt-right doesn't think there were gas chambers (I think there were to be clear), but that's getting back into the Gordian knot that I'm not supposed to talk about.

In any case, although I think Evola is good descriptively (in terms of describing the world of Tradition), I don't think we can go back to traditional theocratic monarchies except through the processes which created them in the first place, which is as good as saying that God has to do it. But I don't see much point in his prescriptions, because if you accept the world of Tradition as the best world, only circumstances which can be reasonably described as created by God can lead to that world, so mortal action in that direction is pointless. I've only ever read Men Among The Ruins, and plan to keep it that way, at least until I've gotten through a whole lot more philosophy. I doubt I'm part of any particular spiritual aristocracy so I'll pass on Ride The Tiger unless you think I should read it.

You are right that the unreasonable bashing of European people needs to stop. It does not serve anyone's interests, except maybe those who think they can achieve a people's revolution using sufficiently radicalized non-whites. We may have gotten lucky in terms of the power we once commanded, but we didn't use that power in a more noble or more mendacious way than anyone else did. I think Nietzsche said something about not mistaking clawlessness for pacifism after all. Telescopic philanthropy is also an entirely European invention, which feeds nicely into the themes of class warfare of this week's post.

1/24/17, 4:13 PM

Anthony Romano said...
As usual I'm late to the party. I'll have the second an earlier poster that this was one of the more "disorderly" responses to your essays that I've seen ever seen in 8 years of reading this blog.

Regarding the essay itself, I feel like part of why people are responding so dramatically to Trump is that he lays bare the plutocracy we live in. I think that to a lot of people, Trump as stripping away the veneer of legitimacy. There is no pretense, and thats causing a lot of people to freak out.

Trump clearly signposts the massive dysfunction gripping our country (I think right and left could agree to that, albeit with different notions about what is dysfunctional).

As regards the comment section. I too will miss Bill. Whether he was in agreement or not with JMG, he always brought something interesting to the conversation (I reckon thats a good deal more than I can say about myself).

As for the alt-right discussion that has peppered these comments. It has been interesting here from Dammerung and others, but I don't think it has made me any more sympathetic to that worldview. I still see it as same old white nationalism with a new coat of paint.

I believe it was Justin, who several essay back, link to a blog essay where the author identified a great sense of Anomie as the driving force behind the emergence of the Alt-right. I felt like the author hit on something true there, but his prescription was...a white ethnostate. Yikes, way scuttle an otherwise cogent point.

Class doesn't seem to have anything to do with it. The people bearing the brunt of this economy can't afford Adobe Photoshop and don't have the time to spend their evenings putting MAGA hats on anime schoolgirls, they got that second job to get to in order to keep the heat on.

Final note, my fiance works for the western arts foundation in their IT department. They have already held meetings about potential restructuring that may be necessary following cuts of the National Endowment for the Arts. Whatever you think of the NEA, that is one way in which Trump is tangibly threatening my families livelihood.

I work as a biologist for an environmental consulting company. If the new admin/congress manages to gut the EPA and Nixon's landmark environmental laws, my company may also endure "restructuring". Needless to say, Trump and his cabinet are not inspiring any confidence in me.

My two cents, take it as you will.

1/24/17, 4:14 PM

Armata said...
Good one about Linda Sarsour and the hypocrisy of the feminist Left when it comes to identity politics. It's especially ironic that so many self-identified feminists and "progressives" would embrace and defend someone who is openly pushing for Sharia Law, which is one of the most openly misogynistic legal systems in the history of the world. It would seem that the cult of multiculturalism and political correctness has deprived a great many otherwise intelligent people of the ability to think rationally.

Cultural Marxism and post-modern liberalism is the god that failed.

1/24/17, 4:18 PM

. said...
@ Bogatyr

"Meanwhile, I've had to block old friends on Facebook; I feel it's no longer safe to have open and honest political discussions. These arguments have become so bitter, I worry about who might remember them, and I worry for my family."

This is happening throughout the western world. I've lost count of the number of people I've seen from Russia, to Israel, Spain, Germany, the UK etc who have said the exact same thing. Word for word almost.

It's part of the same process that seems to be happening right here in the comments section of the ADR. And many if not most of the people experiencing it are disconnected from others who are in the same boat and are not aware that this is a collective phenomenon right now that has been building for a few years. It's not personal. It's a much bigger and weirder cracking up than that.


1/24/17, 4:24 PM

Raymond Duckling said...

Did I just insult JMG? Would you care to believe that English is not my native language, and that I have no idea what that has to do with the word "sycophancy"?

What I wanted to say is that over the years I have observed some traces of... fanboyism??? ... in the commentariat. I certanly know I have displayed those myself more than once. This does not need to be deliverately cultivated, is our social primate nature to look up to our leaders. There is nothing wrong with sicere admiration if it is well deserved.

The problem is that JMG can be, - and from time to time has been, - factually wrong. The Ebola panic of autum 2014 is the first case that jumps to mind. In those cases, we need people that is confident enough to propose altenative views; and knowledgeable enough to have those views being actually useful; and articulate enough to pass through the standard troll filters, - that are in place for totally different reasons, but that may end up working as de facto censorship. The list of people in the commentariat that meets all those requirements is pretty thin, and Bill has one of the top spots in that list.

Look at what's happening here. Dammerung has been having a couple of field days working his meme magic on this forum, though the channel being text-only it has worked mostly as a meme-magic-vacine, instead. But it is hard not to emphatize with Bill's concerns with those sorts of displays blatlanty in our colective faces. It is factually true that this is not what the week's post is about, but it is not obvious why we should not be taking it into consideration as well.

I am just sad that he could not find a more effective way to demonstrate his frustration than walking out of the door.

1/24/17, 4:28 PM

PRiZM said...
I'd like to echo the sentiment of Caryn by saying thanks for taking the time to respond to so many of these comments, but this time doing so while a good many of them have been condescending and/or opposed to you. It shows how important this dialog is to you, while it can be kept in a respectful tone. It also helps everyone appreciate the nature of the situation. While I hope you never join social media, this one time having access to Facebook has helped me realize that this situation is extremely volatile and not likely to fizzle away. Sadly, while this is the time when activism and grassroots movements are ripe for harvesting and developing, this time probably won't be much different from the Occupy movement, except I worry that it may carry us into conflict. How far away is conflict when people are readily turning their backs on dialog?

1/24/17, 4:48 PM

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...
Dear JMG,

cc other readers

Like Kieran, I have noticed a change in tone, style and intellectual content in your writing in this blog. This seems to date from around the time you stepped down as Archdruid and took up writing for a site that's behind a paywall. At the moment I don't remember the name of that site, and don't visit sites I can't read, so I have no notion of whether you are still writing for it. Also around that time you wrote that you'd had some changes in your ideas about the universe and our place in it, some new insights. All correlation, not causation, so possibly coincidence, but in everything I observe, being human, I can't help looking for patterns.

I've been reading your posts and some of your books for a very, very long time and your thinking and writing have been deeply influential in my life. I have a great affection and admiration for you--or at least your written persona, not knowing you personally--and will continue to read your posts. I have also valued a great deal the opportunity to read so many intelligent comments from such a wide variety of people. It has often felt like a real community.

However, I, like others, am finding some of the comments lately to be offensive: not because they are in disagreement with my beliefs (which many are), but because so many of them are so binary-thinking, and insulting to those not on their "side." This shuts down true dialogue and exploration. I fear that perhaps your newer, more emphatic writing style might encourage some of this, because people often don't read and interpret as carefully as they maybe should.

I hope I am not witnessing a devolution into the kind of forum that I generally avoid because there is so much pointless just-this-side-of-trolling (from variety of perspectives) that little is to be gained by reading.

In general, I believe in decency, in not wanting to harm others, in working together to improve life for all (including other species), whether in a family or community or on a larger scale. I believe in equal rights and freedom of religion for all, not merely for persons of any one particular religion, race, class or gender. I also believe that accomplishing anything truly worthwhile is not to be done by attacking others, throwing shade, accusing the other side of hypocrisy, employing casual slurs and so on. I realize my ideas about what is worthwhile might not be shared by all.

I'm sure many readers will find this awfully kumbaya, and it does sound simplistic when written down. However: peace takes courage, as a very wise person once said to me, and which I use as a sort of mantra when trying to resolve problems and issues in my own life, or discuss difficult topics with people with whom I do not agree.

I have always valued your posts for their thought-provoking ideas and have always valued this forum as a place of learning and understanding gained through thoughtful dialogue. I hope it will continue to be so.

Best Regards,

1/24/17, 4:48 PM

Justin said...
JMG, er, although I agree about the basic social skills necessary to get laid etc and the fact that lots of politics is driven by sexually frustrated young men, things are pretty dire these days for the majority of young men. There's credible evidence, for instance, that 20% of young men sleep with 80% of the women, an arrangement that has plenty to do with human biology, birth control and smartphones. Of course, I don't believe that the universe is obligated to produce fairness (and have a girlfriend), but the reality on the ground is that young men like myself, who have one sexual partner (not zero or several) are minorities these days. And of course, there's a religious-political system that doesn't need naming that uses polygamy as a way to produce both sexually frustrated young men and lots of children in order to spread itself.

Although I'm aware that a fairly diverse variety of sexual politics have produced civilizations worth living in, including matriarchal ones, the reality is that there might be consequences to our actions. For instance, it's hardly an original observation that a lot of feminists are unmarried women over 40 and there might be an element of sour grapes in their disdain for their married sisters. Or that young men with very little to lose, which in a rich society could be well-paid jobs, but in a much poorer one are probably girlfriends, wives and children, are easily radicalized. It's almost as if - and I'm veering into hardcore Nazi territory here - society needs to integrate male and female roles in a mutually acceptable way in order to have a future.

1/24/17, 4:57 PM

Colin said...
The idea that we should pay more to the empire for our “defence” looks a tiny bit ridiculous when you consider Finland. (not part of NATO, maximum defence expenditure 1.9% of GDP...)

1/24/17, 5:19 PM

Bryant said...
@DoubtingThomas, I don't usually answer questions but I'll give it a shot here.

1) I'm curious what the alt-right means to you?

Basically? What is called "reactionary" these days. I generally am more traditional than I am not, and would prefer to keep things that way. I was "conservative" in the 1980s when I was born, and as society continues to flow left, I'm ever closer to the fringe where only the Right would accept me.

I've been involved with the alt-right for awhile, and I've come to realize its a large tent that accommodates everyone from Pepe-posting teenagers to literal Nazis.

I'm okay being grouped with them, the truth is. Their hate for me is not nearly as frothing as the left is for me, and quite a few of them are accepting of my identity and my sense of meaning.

2) What is your definition of the alt-right? You say you want to get away from them - the left.

As above. I've grown up admiring much about the past, and have found it increasingly impossible to even adhere to my own standards or have any spaces away from leftist indoctrination.

3) Get away from what, specifically, and to where ?

As above. For better or worse, I scored among the best and got into college early, getting multiple degrees including marketing and then studied psychology vastly on my own. Its pretty evidence what the media is trying to normalize these days, and I'm rejecting it.

4) Why would you allow your sense of right and wrong to be defined by anyone else?

No man is an island. While liberalism teaches atomized individualism, its plainly a lie. Even free will might be an illusion. Furthermore, insofar as I have consistent notions of right or wrong, why would I inflict more or less psychological pain upon myself by endorsing or accepting what would mentally hurt me?

I totally get that liberals might not agree with my ideals. That's fine. I'll just push against them, and they can push against me. Thus, I pick my side with those would might agree with me on many issues.

5) What is it about your sense of right and wrong that is so assailable?

As above. Additionally, not only do I not like pain, but I also believe that my standards are correct and wage for them. It just so happens that my standards are not all for individual liberty at all costs. Bummer.

Bonus answer.

"The left/right of any persuasion are just people and you will find them all over the planet, within families, within every social structure."

Correct to an extent. An analogy would be that marble creation will create marbles of many shapes and forms - but then quality checkers toss out the ones that are defective. Likewise, surely many people can form, but society can and should defend its standards and I should be able to exclude people I dislike.

The alt-right allows me the liberty of such freedom of association, and in fact, allows me to belong so as long as I remain useful to them. The left despises me. I'll rather be an useful and disposable than included and hated.

There's much glory to the torch that burns away but had shed light, but none to be another grey and meaningless brick in the wall, interchangeable and fungible, forgotten and replaceable. The latter is the world that the left would create, the equality of utter lifeless meaninglessness.The former may be brief, it may be terrible, but it holds at least the potential of glory.

I'll rather live for that moment of glory for an hour, a minute, or a second than to forever in the hellscape of the equalism of liberal equality.

1/24/17, 5:45 PM

Shane W said...
the alt-right seems to be digitally based and internet dependent. Considering the unsustainability and fragility of the internet and digital technology, as JMG has written at length, how will your movement survive in a post-digital world? Will it be able to exist with 1980s-1990s or even earlier levels of internet access and connectivity? Or do you reject JMG's contention that the internet is unsustainable and destined to contract outright? Or do you think the widespread connectivity and current computing power will remain for the remainder of your life, even if if implodes or contracts afterward?
The US is based on a very fragile mythos which is collapsing in front of our very eyes, as I've mentioned at length before. First is the very flimsy civil religion of Americanism, which venerates the American institutions of government and the territory comprising the US. There is nothing exceptional about our particular form of democratic republic and the documents that make it possible. Indeed, there are many nations that seem to do a better job of representative democracy. It has become totally apparent that the con job we currently call America simply doesn't even come close to the ideals we claim to espouse. There's nothing particularly sacred about our form of government and the documents that make it possible, as it can easily be replicated or exported. Lastly, the whole civil religion of Americanism was just propaganda increasingly used to further national and imperial power starting with the Civil War going through the post-Cold War era that had nothing to do with the ideals it fervently whipped up. It simply did not exist before the Civil War.
The handmaiden to the civil religion of Americanism is the American Dream and upward mobility, which is backstopped by limits to growth. Even if Trump is successful in throwing the salary class under the bus and improving the lot of the wage class, it still marks a shattering of the American Dream, because most of those wage class people dreamed of getting that degree, getting that "cushy office job" and making that six-figure salary, or dreamed of their kids doing it--"I hope you don't have to work as hard as I did". So, even if Trump succeeds for the wage class, he still destroys their American dream in the process by destroying the class above them.
No wonder everyone is going batshale and everything is falling apart! A country founded on as flimsy a premise as Americanism and the American Dream is probably worse than a country like the USSR, founded on Communism and the "workers' paradise". We are looking into the void, right now.

1/24/17, 5:46 PM

Kevin Warner said...
"it's an ill wind that blows no good" - English proverb

1/24/17, 5:50 PM

Bryant said...
@John Michael Greer, I wish that was so, but not really. At the end of the day, power had a tendency to concentrate - and corrupt, so that surely whatever nobility the alt-right holds these days will eventually be gone by the time we win, even if we win. There's a reason why most seers have always spoke of engagement with the world as a mistake - its because it is. The only way to prevail is to become dirty, and then you've already lost your soul.

That's the reality of existence, I believe.

But then, so be it. At least I've chosen my side and I'm of the descendant of a long line of soldiers, and miss the notion of a time when valor mattered. I yearn to fight, to be honest. Truth be told, I've never truly felt alive except as part of a group fighting against someone else. I wouldn't even have known that if happy circumstance hadn't put me in a certain kind of danger before.

Finally, now, I can fight again. For something that feels beautiful. For the notion of order. for the honor of all those had came before me. For the last great hurrah.

1/24/17, 5:54 PM

Shane W said...
Honestly, I hope I'm not too hopeful, but I really think that all this noise on the left is just a tempest in a teapot and will prove to be benign. The left is not versed in the use of violence, and large swathes of it disavow violence outright. Coupled with all the unproductive ideas that are held with ideological rigidity, I'm pretty serene that it won't come to much, and certainly not any real malevolent power.
This has more to do with the other blog, but I remember an exchange between Bill and JMG about formal, ceremonial, initiatory magic vs. informal, anything goes magic. I also remember JMG saying, in so many words, to judge a magical practice by the results it produces in its practitioners. Well, here we have one person who remains unflappable in light of the goings on of our country, and another who has shown to be not so unflappable, to say the least. I'm so glad that I'm not a "nonjudgmental" person, and am able to judge for myself just who's practices work when the rubber meets the road. I remember JMG saying that he's cultivated a resilience that has allowed him to hit the ground right side up and thrive with whatever life throws at him. That is worth emulating.

1/24/17, 5:57 PM

Bryant said...

Adding this...

"It strikes me as rather extreme for you to say that you, a person of colour, would prefer to align yourself with people who don't value you at all because of your colour and they would actually want nothing to do with you."

That's quite fine. At least I'll get to push back at people I hate even more. Its really that simple, sir. As I said, I'm quite okay with people who want to kill me later. At least I can live now, as opposed to a meaningless life that liberals would prepare for me, where there is neither triumph nor defeat, a fate much worse than death.

1/24/17, 5:59 PM

Candace said...
Hopefully not a duplicate

Thought some might find this history interesting

1/24/17, 6:03 PM

Shane W said...
Honestly, the reaction to Trump by a lot of the commentariat has be bemused. Here we've discussed and prepared for every possible decline or collapse scenario over the last 10 years, and a measly ole President Trump has everyone apoplectic. Really, folks, if not Trump, how would you like your decline or collapse? In the grand scheme of things, Trump is no Khmer Rouge, Nazi, Cultural Revolution, etc. A little perspective is in order. Geez, third world countries elect people like Trump to the presidency regularly...

1/24/17, 6:09 PM

Shane W said...
One thing that Bill brought up for me is the shear bafflement by demonization and fear of Trump voters here in red America. I lived in Los Angeles County before, and I could certainly understand their disconnect from rural, red America. But for someone like Bill, and people in my own community, to react the way they did, is totally baffling to me. I mean, they're here in rural, red America. My state delivered Trump his 5th highest percentage majority. My county voted for Trump either by 3000 or 4000 vote margin. Trump voters are everywhere, so the disconnect is baffling. Shouldn't be that hard to find a Trump voter where I live and figure out why the voted for him and what they hope he will accomplish.
what do you make of the Hasadim and Orthodox in Trump's administration and his courting of Netanyahu? (Not to mention the Orthodox son-in-law on his staff and the Orthodox daughter) How does the alt right deal with this? Cognitive dissonance?

1/24/17, 6:34 PM

Tim Camper said...
avalterra said

" I don't see anyone on the alt-right burning vehicles (owned by an immigrant, ironically), sucker punching people on the street, doxxing people or throwing bricks and bottles. "

Well an alt-righter shot a protestor in the stomach the other day. He was released by the police , presumably on grounds of self-defense. It's worth bearing in mind that this guy brought a gun up-close to an easily avoided volatile situation (as well as purposely exacerbating the situation) & appeared to be looking for an opportunity to use it.

I don't want to harp on minutia, but doxing is something they are well-known for doing. Don't take my word for it. Just google it, you'll see them even attempting to dox rape victims who have been in the news.

Implicitly, if someone says repeatedly they want to ethnically cleanse you at a future date, they are not non-violent.

" If you don't like what they have to say then then meet them on the field of ideas and say something better!"

Popper discussed the problem with this (the 'paradox of tolerance'). In any event, that didn't work historically, and you'll find you won't be persuading modern day fascists either.

Sure, *some* of them are just trolls. But spreading around vicious racist rhetoric has been known to create real bloodbaths. And in more recent history than the 1930s. Of course, we Americans are immune to that, right?

1/24/17, 6:58 PM

DoubtingThomas said...
@RayWharton: "Pride is not the opposite of shame, but its source. True humility is the only antidote to shame. - from one of my favorite cartoons."

Love it :) *Applause* Thank you! Its heart warming to spot those recognise the value of humility, and I would hazard a guess forgiveness too..

1/24/17, 7:02 PM

Robert Mathiesen said...
In sharp contrast to Bill Pulliam, Kieran O'Neill, and a few others, I see no substantial shift in either JMG's tone or his principles over the years in which he has been writing this blog.

It seems to me that JMG prefers to think and write about these things with olympian detachment, and to react to them with eerie calm -- as they used to say, sub specie aeternitatis, "from the vantage point of all eternity." Since I generally think and react in the same dispassionate way -- even when I have seemed to be facing (on a past occasion or two) my own imminent and very painful death -- I value JMG's blog above almost all others precisely for his olympian detachment and eerie calm about history's inexorable meat-grinder.

What I think *has* changed recently is how urgent the issues discussed have become to many of us since November 8 (and especially since January 20), how immediate and lethal the threats have become to our lives and the lives of our loved ones.

It is an unpleasant truism that a person with great privilege tends to see loss of privilege as oppression -- which it generally is not. It ought to be a similar unpleasant truism that a person facing an immediate and deadly threat tends to see another's olympian detachment and calmness as offensive and insulting, or even as a reproach to their very existence -- when it generally is not meant to be any of those things.

And as for those few who have felt JMG's posts have become angrier than in the past -- are you not confusing pointed, sharp criticism of a person's first principles with anger toward the person? Are not these two things quite different?

1/24/17, 7:10 PM

Shane W said...
Americans are very fragile when it comes to having the American dream threatened. The last time it was seriously questioned/threatened (1970s), it drove a 30 year flight from reality. It's no wonder that now that it is seriously (dare I say terminally) threatened, it is provoking such a reaction?
I know you're all rah, rah Christianity, but what do you make of the resurgence of traditional Norse polytheism in much of Scandinavia? Aren't a lot of Europeans returning to pre-Christian religion?

1/24/17, 7:26 PM

Dammerung said...
Data point: /pol/ is crashing Shia Le Bouef's stream again tonight. So far, the Nazi meme spouters have been three white guys, a white-ish girl, a Puerto Rican, and an Asian.

/pol/ works in mysterious ways.

1/24/17, 8:42 PM

Patricia Mathews said...
Thanks, jeffinwa. Just what I wanted. Now in my whatsup-dot-doc file. 5 pages for such a short speech.

1/24/17, 8:58 PM

Maxine Rogers said...
Hi Everyone,
I watched Trump's inauguration speech and I noticed something very odd and possibly sinister. Very early on in the speech, a group of military officers turned up and stood behind the President. A few moments later, another officer joined them, whispered something to them and they all left.

I have some military background and discussed this with a senior naval officer here in Canada. He also thought this highly irregular. It looked for all the world as if the military were revoking their support for the President at this very formal event.

I would be very interested in hearing from American service personnel about what they think was happening.

Strange days indeed.
Max Rogers

1/24/17, 9:28 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Ray, I really am going to have to start talking about philosophy here, aren't I? To get to a way of talking about alt-center politics that makes sense, it's going to be necessary to step back from the current ways that claims about truth are framed, and take a hard look at why dissensus, tolerance, and an acceptance of the imperfection of all human institutions really are the least bad option. Hmm...

Robert, thank you. I've been brooding over that phrase since I coined it, and I'm coming to think that it's needed. Hmm again...

Fred, as far as I'm concerned, if the Dar al-Islam wants Sharia law, they can have it. We have different traditions here -- and that's one of those issues where it's worth drawing a hard line, not least because according to every account of Sharia law I've read, a polytheist like me doesn't even have the right to exist in a Sharia society: my choices amount to forced conversion or death. That's not something I'm willing to tolerate, for obvious reasons.

As for the claim that using the word "woman" is sexist, I wonder if the people making that claim have any idea how absurd they look to everyone outside their own increasingly airtight cliques. May I urge you, by the way, not to send your daughters to college for any reason? Take the same amount of money and buy them each a house -- that way they'll at least get some good out of it.

Izzy, the thing is, that's happened at other times in history -- the points I made about gay history in the last post could equally well have been made about the history of women and of attitudes toward sex -- and far more often than not it hasn't spawned the same sort of backlash. One of these days, as circumstances permit, I want to do some serious reading into the history of sexual customs, and see if I can figure out what the variables are.

DoubtingThomas, glad to hear it. I used to field comments fairly often from people who wanted to know why industrial civilization couldn't use the Law of Attraction to provide itself with limitless supplies of energy and resources. Have you by any chance taken a look at my book Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth? It's by way of a response to that sort of thinking, drawing partly on ecology and partly on traditional occult philosophy -- two branches of knowledge that have quite a bit to do with one another.

David, I saw that. The Dems may also have decided that they can cement their own standing with their constituents by getting plenty of old-fashioned pork out of Washington DC, in the time-honored fashion. You're right, though, that it could be a major feather in Trump's cap.

Bogatyr, that's brilliant. I hope it's inaccurate, but we'll see.

L, I get that. It really is becoming strange out there.

1/24/17, 10:19 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Kieran, I did not say that poor people voted for Trump. I said that a majority of working class people voted for Trump. Those two statements are not interchangeable. I've made that correction time after time for a solid year now, and the fact that you and others are still misrepresenting what I said after that many attempts on my part to point out what I actually said -- well, frankly, it's got me wondering if there's deliberate bad faith involved on your side. I could be wrong, but it's really left a bad taste in my mouth.

As for a substantial shift in my writing, when that claim was first made a few weeks back, I thought, "Hey, maybe they're right, I should check," and went through my archives. What I found instead was that I've been whacking any number of different groups of people all the way along, in terms not that dissimilar from the ones I've used over the last year. The sole difference is that I hadn't previously directed that treatment at American liberalism. I read any number of comment pages, in fact, in which you and others nodded and smiled in response to my challenging other people's opinions and values; it seems to me that the one significant difference is that this time, it's your opinions and values that I'm challenging, and I gather you find that uncomfortable. So noted, but to my mind, the points I've raised badly needed to be said.

Pygmycory, I hope that as the US goes into its postimperial era, Canada will become less culturally dependent on us, and pursue its own cultures and interests to a greater extent. As for the "Trump is evil because he's evil" business, that's really sad.

Tim, as I noted in my post and elsewhere, there are good reasons to object to Trump's policies and appointments, and his environmental policy is a good example. The one thing I'd point out is that the last eight years have shown us with painful clarity what the real difference is between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to environmental policy: Democrats give lip service to the environment, while Republicans won't even do that much.

Lordberia3, thank you. I think it's entirely possible that over the next decade or so, American liberalism as we've known it could turn into the preserve of a small and bitter fringe, leaving the field open to different constellations of issues and political agendas. The ease with which many people on the left have embraced what amount to neoconservative ideas -- demonizing Russia, for example, not to mention the eager chatter on leftward forums about how liberating it was to watch Richard Spencer being punched and how that ought to happen more often -- shows, I think, just how shallowly rooted the liberal ideology has become. But we'll see...

Armata, thanks for this.

1/24/17, 10:39 PM

John Michael Greer said...
.Mallow, I think it may be a bit more complex than trying to roleplay Heroic Resistance Fighter. One of the things that's central to the collective identity of most of the leftward ideologies on the political spectrum is a claim to permanent ownership of the moral high ground. As the gap between the affluent lifestyles of the industrial world and what the rest of humanity has to live with becomes ever more visible, that claim is becoming very hard to support, not least because of irritating people like me who keep on pointing out that the lifestyles of the affluent depend on the sufferings of the poor. Thus identifying an enemy over whom one can feel the warm glow of moral superiority has become increasingly necessary for a great many affluent people these days.

There's also a regular alternation in collective life between eras that are obsessed with spirituality and eras that are obsessed with politics. I don't know enough about Irish cultural politics to be sure, but here the last great political era trickled away in the 1970s, and spirituality took the lead. Now that's reversing -- the churches are emptying out, and so are New Age seminars and the like, while politics is once again becoming the obsession du jour. Give it thirty to forty years and it'll reverse again.

Patricia, thanks for this. (Sigh.)

.Mallow, understood. There's a case to be made for both the politics and the knitting, I think.

LatheChuck, I'm still waiting to see if effective grassroots organization comes out of it. Unless that happens, since I doubt anyone had any question that the marchers' demographic was by and large opposed to Trump and in favor of some of the issues you mention (and affluent enough to afford to fly to DC), it was aerobic exercise and nothing more.

Justin, I've had enough people who identify as alt-right talking enthusiastically about Ghibelline ideals and the like that I'd gotten the idea that Evola was tolerably well known in those circles; my mistake. The aspect of his work that I'd have thought might have appealed to, say, readers of Mencius Moldbug et al. wasn't the theocratic monarchic system of the World of (imagined) Tradition, but the later attempts at restoration that Evola discussed (and that, until the Second World War, he wanted to try to imitate). That said, there are better options.

Anthony, thanks for your comments. I certainly didn't mean to imply any particular connection between the alt-right and the working class voters who played so large a role in Trump's win. The alt-right provided some memes and some timely harrassment, but the decisions that put Trump in the White House, as I see it, were made in two places. One was in living room, laundromats, and corner bars across America, where people listened to Trump's speeches and decided that he spoke for them; the other was in Hillary Clinton's headquarters, where hubris led to nemesis via some of the most spectacular political misjudgments of modern times.

1/24/17, 11:07 PM

Ray Wharton said...
Yeah, I think the philosophy would be nice. There was a good point made about about your Olympian distance. One way to respond to that problem is to talk about important under lying philosophical factors, in a way where they don't step on the gang formation process. May all the fringe political faction improve their epistemology!

Considering the Fake News gag, asking the old philosophic bedrock 'What is Truth?'. Might be really interesting. Objective, Relative, and Pragmatic truth being the ones I hear people using around me.

I remember when I first started reading your blog it was a reference to Bateson that really made me take you seriously as and intellectual. Steps to an Ecology of Mind remains for me personally the book I go back to when ever I need to debug questions about truth.

1/24/17, 11:13 PM

team10tim said...
Hey hey JMG,

Working my way through the comments, sure are a lot of them this week, and I have a hunch as to why.

This isn't about politics, it's about teams. I have a limbic system in me head that classifies people as I'm walking down the street into my team or threats. It does this sorting before I really have a chance to think about things. For example, bears, guys with weapons in ski masks, people who made fun of me at work yesterday all get put on the threat list and my limbic system engages my fight or flight response way before the rest of my brain can think anything through in the limited rational thought space it has to work with. Interestingly, that guy that threatened my social standing at work the other day triggers the same magnitude of adrenaline spike as seeing a pack of hungry wolves, neither of them is on my team and that shuts down my thinking space and engages a fight or flight response. All of the shrieking this week is from people reclassifying you from my team to threat.

So why is this happening now? When times are good everyone can be on my team and when times are hard the circle of my team shrinks and far more people are excluded from being part of my tribe. Over the course of the last two years, but more so last year, and more so in recent months I have felt the pressure building. A hard to define and pin down, but palpable and obvious building up of the tension in the air. Times are getting tough. Things are getting more and more uncertain. I can feel it and so can everyone else. The circle of my team is shrinking and that means that far more people are outside of that circle and subject to my irrational fight or flight responses.

Couple this with the fact that the nominal teams have VERY little substance to them anymore. I would consider myself to be on the left except there isn't a left to be on these days (hat tip to this week's gold star winner). The blue team's champion was a war mongering Wall street paid hack, who pushed corporate trade agreements, hid her official government business on a personal server to avoid it ever coming to light, and...I digress. The red team had an arrogant, narcissistic, shallow and apparently bigoted and sexist orange comb-over who became a household name for being an jerk on reality tv.

Those aren't values that people can get behind, the nominal teams don't really mean much anymore, but the country has become highly polarized and people are uncertain about the future. They feel the coming crisis. Tensions are running high and so irrational screaming matches are the result. Like a riot at a sporting event, it's not about what the teams stand for, it's the teams themselves that matter. It's unfortunate because there is some really interesting material to discuss these days.

As always, nice work, and thank you for maintaining this space sir. It's appreciated.


PS Just finished The Great Crash 1929, The Druidry Handbook, and I'm on to Overshoot. Thought you might like to know.

1/24/17, 11:21 PM

James M. Jensen II said...

The problem I have with your analysis is that it seems to presume sex is a zero-sum game. Even if, as you say, 20% of men are having sex with 80% of women, what prevents the other 80% of men from having sex with those same women later on?

I think the more pressing problem is a failure of cultural wisdom to prepare young men for sex and romance. A young man today, especially one who spends a lot of time online, is going to be subjected to a bewildering amount of advice, criticism, and moralizing, much of which will be mutually-contradictory and sometimes just patently ridiculous. One feeling he's almost guaranteed to come away with is that he ought to know all the rules in advance or else.

Even the one constant—all sex must be consensual—has been problematized with different groups defining the edges of consent differently. The controversies over the "yes means yes" policies on university campuses are part of this, but I also remember one fairly infamous sign from the "I need feminism because…" campaign: "No means no but yes doesn't always mean yes." It's a bit of a mess.


I'd suggest the backlash and politicization of some young mens' inability to get laid has a lot to do with the extent to which the issue of sex was politicized as part of the cultural Left's* rescue games. From what I've gathered, many members of the alt-right are former leftists who broke away because they felt hated for being white and/or male. So there's a sense of betrayal that isn't there when the moralizing is coming from the Right.

Another identity that has felt threatened by the rescue games recently is "nerd" or "geek." For a lot of us, there's been a feeling that the Left singled out nerds and our hobbies as a punching bag because nerds are by definition already social misfits and thus easy to make into villains for the narrative they presented to the public. This, of course, is the issue that reached a head with #GamerGate** but it was building for at least a couple of years before hand. While some of the backlash has no doubt actually been about increasing diversity in comics, video games, etc. I'm willing to bet that for a lot more the issue is the way that it was tied to an already-existing campaign (one that seems to have picked up speed around 2011-2012) to label comics, video games etc. and by extension the nerdy males who have traditionally enjoyed them, as sexist and racist.

Add to this, again, the feeling of many of us of being betrayed by our own side and I think you have a lot of the reason why so many opted for backlash.

* I'm using the term in the sense used by Richard Rorty in Achieving Our Country: the heirs of the 1960's New Left who have abandoned economic issues in favor of cultural ones, for both good and ill. Fantastic book, by the way.

** I'm really sorry to have to bring that mess up. I wasn't part of it, honest.

1/24/17, 11:26 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Prizm, thank you. Yeah, I've found the reaction to this post particularly, er, interesting.

Adrian, I wrote for the Peak Prosperity blog for a short time in early 2013, and I stepped down as Grand Archdruid of AODA almost two years later at the winter solstice of 2015, so I'm a bit puzzled by your recollections. As I noted in my response to Kieran above, the first time someone claimed that the tone of my writing had suddenly changed in recent months, I went back through my archives, and all through the last decade of posts, found no shortage of the same sort of critique -- some of it very harsh indeed -- that you and a few others have pointed out as something new. I appreciate your comments, including this one, and I'm also glad that you've found this blog thought-provoking. In all seriousness, and with that in mind, I'd like to encourage you to reflect on the possibility that what's changed on The Archdruid Report is simply that for the last year, instead of talking about progress, neoconservatism, or any of the other lengthy list of viewpoints I've tried to hold up for critique here, I'm talking about beliefs and values that are important to you.

Central to the identity of many affluent American liberals is a claim, sometimes implicit, sometimes right out there in the open, to the possession of superior empathy and moral virtue. Over the last year, in various ways, I've been pointing out that the empathy has sometimes been applied very selectively indeed, and the moral virtue has sometimes been used as a defense of class privilege. It may be that such a critique is the third rail of contemporary American politics, the thing one simply doesn't talk about; certainly every time I've mentioned it, there's been a colorful shower of sparks! I think it's a point worth making, though -- not least because it's a point being made in much harsher terms by the other end of the political spectrum, with significant impact at election time.

You might consider how many of the state and federal political positions that were held by Democrats in 2008 and are held by Republicans today made that switch because the Democrats have come to be seen, by a great many Americans, as a party of privilege uninterested in the concerns of those outside a few narrowly defined groups. Until that changes -- and I'm sorry to say that it doesn't seem to be changing much, even in the wake of electoral defeat -- the Democrats, and the American left generally, will keep losing; and as I've noted repeatedly here, that's not something I favor. Both parties, and the wider landscape of diverse political opinions that make use of them from time to time, have something to offer the political conversation, provided they're willing to have a conversation at all -- a fading hope these days, and the fading seems equally distributed on both sides.

Justin, it's a complex situation, and one that is certainly making life miserable for a lot of young men. Among other things, certain cultural habits very strongly promoted by the media and the manufactured corporate pseudoculture generally have set up young men to fail, in their relationships as well as in many other contexts. One of these days I may risk doing a post on that, though it's going to require a lot of research in forums I find dreary at best, and it's also going to require me to talk about certain dimensions of magic, and also -- how's this for a third rail? -- about love. Still, I'll consider it.

1/24/17, 11:40 PM

. said...
Oh yes thanks JMG I had forgotten about those mini-cycles. There are so many processes in play at the same time. Yes that cycle applies in Ireland too. We adopt much of American culture. And when I think about it, the new arrivals to politics did almost all go through a phase of more or less getting into The Secret type stuff and above all Positive Thinking and that's now almost exactly what they're demanding from the political world. The people who were in politics the whole time, even on the left and far left, are overall a lot calmer about all of this and I've seen them trying to talk the rest down from the ledge.

The unease about the wealth gap fits too. More and more attention is being paid to, say, the working conditions of women in Bangladeshi sweatshops and similar because it's reaching the news here. Not sure if that's because of the mass death tolls from collapses or because, as I've heard, labour is starting to organize itself in poor countries and therefore has possibly figured out ways to get their conditions into western news media.

And among highly formally educated Europeans there's a culture that prides itself on being 'Cultured' and for whom American bible belters are a long standing target for feelings of superiority. They're a better target in fact than our own lower classes because of the Christianity factor (ergo being dumb and rejecting the Enlightenment project). Ours doesn't do much of rejecting evolution etc. because obviously we kicked our Christian fundamentalists out over there. So part of some Europeans' identification with the Democrat side certainly relates to that.

I'm sure someone will read that as my saying that all Europeans are snobs and all Europeans who oppose Trump do so because they like to look down on redneck creationists! Happens to me too, all the time, and I wish I were exaggerating.


1/24/17, 11:54 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Colin, excellent! Then I trust you'll contact your government and propose that it pursue a policy of having all the expenses of NATO being paid by European nations, instead of having 70% paid by the US, as is the case today.

Kevin, that is indeed good news!

Bryant, if that's your considered will in this matter, and you've chosen it with open eyes, then by all means.

Shane, thank you. It's been a bit of an eye-opener to watch the way this post in particular has hit a certain fraction of my readers, who -- as noted above -- were quite comfortable seeing the same treatment meted out to other viewpoints. As for unflappability, yeah -- many, many years ago, I read a passage in a book by Dion Fortune that talked about the magical adepts she'd met, and how they all seemed to have the ability to land right side up and smiling no matter what the world flung at them. It struck me then with great force, and strikes me still, that if magic can foster that kind of attitude toward life, it's a good thing.

Candace, no, it wasn't a duplicate. Thanks for this! A very solid bit of history, and one worth learning from.

Shane, you gotta stop doing this. Let's just say you'll find the theme of tomorrow's post here somewhat familiar! ;-)

Robert, thank you. I don't know that I'd claim to aspire to Olympian detachment; I try to write, not sub specie aeternitatis, but simply sub specie historiae, from a point of view that includes the consequences of the past and the prospects for the future, rather than fixating on the moment. I also tend to distrust the conventional wisdom on principle, partly from a lifelong habit of eccentricity but also because it's so often wrong. Of course you're right that at this point some people who felt relatively secure have to deal with potentially serious threats to their well-being -- and of course you're equally right that some people who benefited from previous arrangements are facing the loss of an assortment of perks and privileges, and are upset about that. I think, though, that there's more going on here, and that's what led me to suggest class prejudice as an unmentionable variable shaping the more over-the-top end of recent rhetoric.

Shane, and that's a good point, too. The interesting thing is that the changes now under way amount to a transfer of the American dream from one group of people who've more or less had access to it, to another who've largely been deprived of it. No wonder that's heated things up!

1/24/17, 11:59 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Maxine, interesting. I didn't watch the event, so didn't see that.

Ray, thank you! We won't be starting with Bateson, though we'll probably swing by at some point en route.

Tim, that makes sense. I suspect the lack of content is a major factor -- I noted early in the election process that neither party's candidate stood for the values the party did, which certainly must have put a schizoid spin on things! Glad to hear of your reading, btw -- the first and last books, certainly, are great stuff. ;-)

James, that makes a lot of sense. I'm old enough to remember when people still quoted Martin Luther King's hope that someday people would be judged not by the color of their skins but by the content of their character; it took embarrassingly little time for that to be ditched in favor of a doctrine of collective guilt in which the color of one's skin and the shape of one's chromosomes determined, by definition and without possibility of appeal, who was right and who was wrong. (The doctrine of collective guilt was invented by medieval bigots as an excuse for blaming all Jews everywhere for the crucifixion of Jesus, and it hasn't improved any from being applied to other targets.) The question now is how to insert a third option into the binary so it falls apart...

1/25/17, 12:09 AM

John Michael Greer said...
.Mallow, oh, granted, the relation between European countries of origin and their American diasporas is another complexity!

1/25/17, 12:11 AM

John Michael Greer said...
Dammerung (offlist), your response to Izzy, in my judgment, crossed the line into personal invective. Remember that this isn't /pol/.

1/25/17, 12:27 AM

Kevin Warner said...
"John Michael Greer said...
Among other things, certain cultural habits very strongly promoted by the media and the manufactured corporate pseudoculture generally have set up young men to fail...One of these days I may risk doing a post on that, though it's going to require a lot of research in forums I find dreary at best."

May I suggest that instead of re-inventing the wheel, you simply ask your readers here to send you any good links on this subject? It should give you a variety of viewpoints considering you have readers from different countries, genders and certainly viewpoints.

For my own contribution, may I suggest watching a bloke called Paul Joseph Watson (from inforwars) on YouTube? He has a narky sense of humour but he does bring up a lot of interesting points (prepare to be possibly offended). Two links that may be useful are

"Why Are Men Frightened of Marriage?"at and
"Neomasculinity: The Male Backlash Against Toxic Women" at

1/25/17, 1:08 AM

Izzy said...
@JMG: Ha! Doesn't take much to guess what he said, either. ;P

I would be very interested in reading about what's producing modern young men. (Yes, yes, #notallmen, but still #waytoomanymen.)

@Justin: "For instance, it's hardly an original observation that a lot of feminists are unmarried women over 40 and there might be an element of sour grapes in their disdain for their married sisters"

Er, citation needed? Most of the feminists I know, of a number of generations, are either happily married (and good for them, though it's not a state I've ever aspired to), happily single, or encountering the same ups and downs of the dating game as non-feminist women.

As for your larger point: not sure what you mean about "male and female roles," not sure I want to, but it seems that the problem you describe has two solutions:

a) young men can suck it up and accept that, as you say, the universe does not owe them a girlfriend, and that maybe their own habits and behavior are contributing to their lack thereof, or
b) women can all opt for sex with partners who don't interest them (there's a very unflattering name for that which the blog filters prevent me from using) so that young men don't get their precious little feelings hurt.

No thanks.

@James: I tend to agree with you in general re: preparation for sex and romance. (I would like very much to bring back a modern version of the hygiene-and-getting-along-with-people films of the fifties. Less sexual repression, but "you have to be a friend to make a friend" and "seriously, deodorant" are both pretty timeless messages.) As a leftist geek, I would say that pointing out problematic elements in geek media and saying it would be cool if they changed is not the demonization of geek culture that a lot of guys therein took it as.

I mean, I like men. But I also like female characters who aren't damsels in distress, and there's nothing wrong with pointing out that we could use more of that, for example. (As for GG: I can state with relative certainty that no useful social movement has come about from someone whining about his breakup.)

1/25/17, 4:46 AM

Robert Mathiesen said...
JGM: actually, sub specie historiae is probably closer to what I hoped to convey to the commentariat about you (and about myself) than sub specie aeternitatis. To ephemeral creatures like us humans, it's hard to distinguish between the two.

Team10Tim: The moment I read your comment, I was sure that you are right about the role the human limbic system plays in all this. I missed it at first because mine doesn't seem to be "wired" like most people's. (I'm close to being a congenital loner; there is something viscerally repellent to me, something downright squicky, about being part of of any group of my fellow humans working together. The one time in my life I actually went to a sports event -- a football game during my college years, in my college's stadium --, I had to leave my friends and the stadium before the end of the first quarter: watching people work together as a team, and especially seeing and hearing the multitudes cheering for their teams, made me physically ill to the point of nausea.)

1/25/17, 5:52 AM

Scotlyn said...
@dammerung (if this comment makes it under the closing deadline)

I do want to thank you for making yourself plain in this thread. And once again, to thank the host for permitting this kind of plain talk between people of disparate views, who I fear may, in short order, find themselves not only on different political sides but on different military ones.

You say: "@Scotlyn - You may well find that preferences change "organically," depending on how well Trump steers us through the numerous opportunities for politically-motivated violence over the next 4 years. Really digging into the civil war in Iraq is a good example of how a multi-ethnic society can slowly dissolve down racial lines. I doubt a lot of Shia were getting the hots for Mosul Sunni when wandering over there as a Shiite was an awfully effective way of getting your throat slit."

I am very familiar with how the multi-ethnic/religious society of Northern Ireland rapidly dissolved down ethnic/religious lines, and as best I can make out the Sunni v Shia "dissolution" is also more accurately described as an ethnic/religious dissolution than a racial one.

You are correct that a society of disparate groups who formerly rubbed along can quickly be brought to hate, fear and despise one another. In Northern Ireland this was accomplished by repeated acts of violence by which each inflicted pain on the other, but *to a far greater degree* both inflicted pain on those who persisted in acts of cross-community solidarity.

We now know that the paramilitaries on both sides of the Northern Irish conflict during that period were so thoroughly infiltrated by MI5, that it is hard not to attribute the ferocity of the atrocities on all sides to MI5's inspiration or covert incitement in pursuit of a single aim. The paramilitary campaign(s) were designed, above all, to break any vestige of civic solidarity between Protestants/Unionists and Catholics/Nationalists. That *some* of the native paramilitarists of both sides also wanted this, obviously helped the process along. However, the clearest beneficiary (at least short term) was the British government, as the cross-community solidarity that gave impetus to the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1960's was very quickly nipped in the bud, and any pressure upon the British elites to address political and economic injustice was thereby alleviated.

I believe a similar scenario was acted out in Iraq within a year or two of the American invasion, setting Shia and Sunni against one another, thereby alleviating the invading forces of the prospect of a concerted, cross-community campaign for economic and political rights. And I've wonder if tactics are not behind the conversion of the Arab Spring civic movements for economic and political justice into the more intractable (but from an elite point of view less demanding) religious/ethnic wars of hate we now see.

I don't doubt that you yourself, through propaganda and other means, hope to "steer... numerous opportunities for politically motivated violence" towards your evident aim of breaking long-standing bonds of solidarity that link marriages, families, friendships, business partnerships, clubs, churches and communities across whatever racial, ethnic, religious and cultural lines you think need reinforcing.

I will certainly apply everything I have learned and can learn, and what small resources I possess at thwarting any such project.

1/25/17, 6:22 AM

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...
Dear JMG,

Thank you for taking the time to write a lengthy response to my comment. I do appreciate your willingness to reflect on my and others' statements. (And yes, my own memory is faulty: I did not go back to check chronology.)

Quickly, because it's Wednesday :)
I understand what you are saying about equal-opportunity critical discussion, and have been engaging in my own self-reflection. Yes, many affluent liberals are annoyingly self-righteous. Yes, class is indeed a large, complex subject that is considered taboo. Yes, one does wish the parties would have a real conversation.

For myself, I do not condone hate and hate speech or assumptions of superiority over others, no matter which part of the political spectrum it comes from. I look for commonality when engaging with others. My values do not derive from political views. I'm not sure, as a Quaker, I hold political views in the commonly accepted sense. In truth, the more I think about it, the more I'm not sure what the words "liberal" or "conservative," "right" or "left" even mean anymore. Maybe I belong in your category of the "alt-center."

I do appreciate your depth of learning, breadth of knowledge, and your ability to analyze and discuss from a lofty, philosophical level--which, as Robert Matthiasson (sp?) and Ray Wharton have pointed out can be disturbing to those who are misinterpreting what you are writing--as I also tried to point out, in different words, in my previous comment.

Anyway, this is running longer than I meant it to; I've got a full day of work ahead of me, as do you.

In the light (as we Quakers say),

1/25/17, 6:32 AM

Scotlyn said...
@Jmg (if not too late past the close of a well moderated, if fraught, comment line)

"Scotlyn, from my perspective, neither of the two alternatives you've sketched out are complete in themselves. While fear and hatred can be deliberately stirred up, they also spring up all by themselves, especially under conditions of rapid change and economic stress. Which came first, the demagogue or the emotions he manipulates? It's a chicken-and-egg question."

To clarify, I agree fear and hatred do spring up "by themselves" often from individual circumstances which create a sense of personal impotence. The point is (and you have made this point yourself in the other blog), once "sprung up" like that, such strong emotions can become potent sources of energy which can be channeled to raise/reinforce power in a specific direction in accordance with will.

The direction in which such power may then be channeled is not a given, but obviously the people with the clearest goals (whether destructive or creative), and the strongest will, are best placed to stir/channel such energy in their preferred direction.

And one method for such channeling is to animate pre-existing, low-resolution stereotypes, prejudices and bigotries, previously powerless to cause harm, into meaningful foci for powerful and effective action.

I think there are still many contenders at this time, by the way. It is not yet clear who will take best advantage, or to what end, though some of those who hope to are making themselves known.

That there is a lot of fear and hate to work with, is sadly, all too evident.

1/25/17, 6:40 AM

Patricia Mathews said...
@JMG re " I read a passage in a book by Dion Fortune that talked about the magical adepts she'd met, and how they all seemed to have the ability to land right side up and smiling no matter what the world flung at them. It struck me then with great force, and strikes me still, that if magic can foster that kind of attitude toward life, it's a good thing."

When getting into Wicca, one of the first things you are asked is why you want to become a witch. Somewhere along the way I was able to articulate is as "I want to get in touch with the natural flow of the universe (or however I phrased it then) and learn to go with that flow or how and when to paddle upstream." Somewhere along the line I ended with the realization there was nobody I hated enough to curse, except in the sense of having them come to their senses or bear the consequences of their actions. Block, in self-defense, yes. And I started actually feeling thankful for every little victory and instance of having done the right thing. Until Herself told me to stop giving thanks for having done things right, but to step up and take the credit. AND things - little things - started going my way more and more, as if I were no loner throwing rocks in my own path - and as if I were no longer paddling upstream by brute force. For what that's worth.

Not that the universe has spared me the usual slings and arrows thereof. And it shouldn't. But when approached with "So what am I to learn from this" it seems to actually have a beneficial effect.

And BTW - as to the explosion on the left you got this week - you have to realize how many of us actually feel, deep in our guts, that what we stand for actually is truth, beauty, peace, love, civilization, science, reason .... here quoting or misquoting a yard sign now popular here in the People's Republic of Zip Code 87106 ... and that these values and virtues now have a gun pointed at their heads. It is truly a matter of faith --- it's their religion, overriding all denominational matters. And I'm not talking about the Crazy Fanatic Aunts or the Trash Talking Cousins all religions generate like fleas on a dog - who we know and are embarrassed by. Having looked very deeply into the mirror and found that at base it's like a being a devout medieval Catholic suddenly faced with an explosion of nations suddenly going Protestant in all varieties. Eeek! The Eternal Verities have fallen to the Barbarians!

As the author of Future Shock wrote, "I do believe you are shocked" should be said with compassion for those who are. Not telling anyone how to feel, but do know it's been a real punch in the gut for the true-believing sweetness and light crowd. (Exclusive of the ones now talking violence, let alone committing it.)

1/25/17, 7:11 AM

DaShui said...
Greetings ADJMG!

I'm a 10+ year reader and this has been the best comment stream I can remember.

Keep it up!

1/25/17, 7:40 AM

patriciaormsby said...
I just asked a couple of ranting affluent liberal rellies if they were okay with hate, and they told me it was their patriotic duty in this case, because Trump is just such a liar and so evilly evil. Well, at least it's out in the open now. But I dread what this is leading to.

Here at the tail end of 480 comments, I guess I'll chatter on a bit. Won't get read except by the most determined. The above rellies were two guy persons, but in general, I sense a lot of fear from women. Of course, some of the elite are afraid of the shake-up and they may be driving this. If women are really scared of captivity and coercion, which I could understand, then why are they reportedly in solidarity with the Muslims? And why are they eager for a war against Russia?

If you are looking out your window over there, things are probably still normal, right? But it looks like pandemonium has busted loose over there from my remote perch. JMG, are there historical cases of women in particular going through episodes of mass hysteria in certain stages of collapse? If so, how did it turn out?

This ties back with my New Year's dream, which I promised to tell you about when I had time (it's one a.m.--I'll just keep typing). The Japanese consider the dream on the morning of January 2 to be prophetic. I don't know why, and I have not met a single Japanese who can remember their dreams at will, so we can't compare notes, but after logging all my dreams of Jan. 1, 2 and 3 for several decades, I find the dreams of Jan. 2 to be especially meaningful and prophetic. Some are immediately true--part of daily life (my first dream this year was all kinds of coffee), some are clearly based on concerns and predictable outcomes (my second dream was that the birds went away, and when I attended monthly Fuji Sect services here, they spent quite a while talking about how crows and sparrows have disappeared--something I'd not noticed yet). And then there are others that talk about major events or trends, not necessarily in the coming year. They are vivid and there is often a Dream Master who tells me information as I proceed through. This year's was very relaxing, long, warm and detailed in a rural world where the people had decided to take a new path into the future, toward "a world that has ruinmen." The effort was led mainly by younger people, intelligent people like those I've met among followers of this blog. They had the ability to persuade people that happiness was better pursued by giving up impossible dreams and accepting the situation. There was kindness and sharing, hard work and rewards. Though locally focused, the movement was widely popular, because many people could see the wisdom in it. (More below.)

1/25/17, 8:02 AM

Bob said...
Some more sanity may have surfaced in the guise of "Justice Democrats". I shall be keeping an eye on their platform.

1/25/17, 8:02 AM

Scotlyn said...
@JMG as I cycled through wind and hail on my appointed rounds (for the sheer exhilaration of which, thanks!), this thread of thought spun out to where I think I can link it back to its starting point in your post. (if I'm not too late to post).

So, it's this: can we ever put an end to every conceivable prejudice and stereotype? I say we can't without putting an end to how the human mind functions, simplifying into low-res categories the sheer dizzying quantity of incoming information so as to prevent sensory overload. (Inasmuch as "abolishing prejudice could be said to define the liberal project, it has clearly failed - and especially it has failed to spot its own prejudices).

Can we prevent such categories (prejudices and stereotypes) from being powerfully "charged" with the power of fear, anger, resentment and hate so as to motivate meaningful action causing harm to living people who may be "snagged" by association with the stereotype in question?

Well, possibly, hopefully. In circumstances such as we face I think it is very, very hard, but more doable.

The path lies, I think, in promoting opportunities for people to meaningfully alter their circumstances, reducing the sense of impotence that heightens the kind of emotions that can "charge" a prejudice and turn it into action that harms.

This, in fact, is one of the things I've seen this blog itself do time and again - promote meaningful personal engagement with the time, place, circumstances in which each of us finds ourselves.

So finishes the thread. With thanks!

1/25/17, 8:11 AM

Nastarana said...
Dear Justin, I am going to exercise an old woman's prerogative to interject a not of crass realism here.

First, it ain't that hard to get laid. You just have to not be too choosy about your partners, forget the infamous 1-10 scale and the status obsessions. It is after all a natural instinct to want to form pairs and produce offspring.

Second, it strikes me that a great part of young (white) male angst is not caused by lack of sex but that Mommy is not there anymore and they have to do things for themselves, like cook, clean up, laundry and so on. Well, my generation of women were not brought up to make our own livings. We had to learn on the job, as it were, including learning, from often painful experience, the array of social skills needed to secure and retain employment. We also had to learn that if you want the bills paid and the kids fed, you can't allow the partner to sabotage your employment.

Now we have an up and coming generation who have been taught everything possible about to impress employers and secure the cooperation of co-workers and nothing about private resilience, arranging your life so as not to need large amounts of money.

It is my belief that productive people learn how to set aside hurt feelings so as to be able to focus on what has to be done.

It is my belief that productive people manage to learn how to set hurt feelings aside so as to focus on what needs to be done.

1/25/17, 8:20 AM

Dammerung said...
No worries about the deletion. I'm surprised I've been able to express this much in a satisfactory way. Let me try to rephrase that with more abstraction. If we really are slipping into warband formation, a warband needs mothers, and a warband needs strumpets, but a warband has no need for feminist studies majors.

I know I'm offering up a very big and very tangled ball of yarn that gets bigger and more tangled by the day. Due to its anonymous nature, it wears a thousand different masks, and some of those masks are mutually contradictory. There's no telling what this thing might do. With ISIS you know what you're getting - Islam. With National Socialism you know what you're getting - they documented it by law and enforced those laws very meticulously. With /pol/ you're getting a human hurricane of unknown million voices in a perpetual argument that's borderline incomprehensible to outsiders and which slowly transforms observers into itself. Maybe it's a real life version of those memetic hazards over at SCP. I don't know any better than the journalists who hear two rumors about us and write an alarmist hitpiece. I'll go back to my more sedate commenting routine for the next article, I'm sure, but I can't shake the feeling that this phenomenon is a weird fulcrum for the times that we're in.

Ethnic tension has been a reality of my life, almost all of it lived in California. When I drive through Los Angeles, I plan refueling stops around it. I currently live in a city that's 2/3 some combination of illegal immigrants and Mexican-Americans, and 1/3 whites. If the lights go out and stay out, that's a hugely dangerous position to find oneself in. When a dominant minority - or those perceived to be a dominant minority - lose state protection, they're often targeted with the most extreme and barbaric forms of violence. Iraqi Shia weren't shy about expressing their disdain for decades of Sunni Baathist rule with inventive applications for power tools. I can't really afford to leave the state I can't really afford to stay in despite having worked since I was 16. I want to move someplace with harsh winters that discourage people with high time preference due to the need to see winter as an indeterminate block that must be survived.

@ShaneW - I don't know if it could survive the loss of high speed internet. The anime is secretly important, I think. Posting a smug/angry/happy/sad anime girl expresses tone, which is infamously difficult over text alone.

Trump's Jewish ties are a hard point of contention, and one of the issues the mods go out of their way to sneakily silence discussion about. Opinions run the gamut from "Trump was a Jewish puppet from the start" to "this is another one of his sleight-of-hand gambits and he's going to expose them to consequences over the past 50 years of their policy."

1/25/17, 8:22 AM

patriciaormsby said...
(Continued from above) Of course, any society has its troubles, and it was the holders of power, the priestesses that I recall being the most terrifying aspect of your book. In a semi-asleep state, dealing with what was probably influenza, I thought it would be a real challenge to try writing from the perspective of a priestess within that elite, having witnessed women's power games--worse than men's, who are at least frank about their belligerence. The Dream Master then told me it would be women who put up the most determined resistance to the changes necessary to moving ahead, clinging to their old lifestyles and wheedling for what they want, with the guys determined to keep them happy somehow. Not all women, of course, but quite a prominent bunch of them.

Obviously this won't happen any time soon. My dream of 1996 was similar, except for being a cryptic, highly troubling dream of a poison man. He was popular and people didn't want to think he was dangerous. I saw him board an airplane and tried to warn the passengers and crew that he was dangerous and might kill them all, but they just laughed at me. So I decided to fly with my own wings and burst through the glass windows of the concourse. But I kept getting tangled in power lines. I spent the rest of 1996 trying to figure out which of our friends was the poison man. The psychopath who may be released this year after serving 20 for murder? My dear husband? Nothing fit. Well a few years back they started introducing wi-fi on aircraft, paying no attention at all to warnings of danger from various experts. I eventually learned the poison man's name. Born in 1996, he is the Telecommunications Act of 1996, that forbade health effects from being considered in the siting of antennas. He's much more notorious, though, for his role in concentrating control over the broadcast media into a few corporate hands. Perhaps he is most responsible for poisoning our information supply.

Similarly, I expect that the seeds for "a world that has ruinmen" will be planted this year in ways that may not be easily recognized, but will become apparent as time progresses.

1/25/17, 8:27 AM

MichaelK said...
'Virtue' is a complex term to get into. The concept of 'virtue siganaling' is interesting too. I get concerned with the rather dangerous idea that a terrible act committed by a virtous person for a noble or good reason, for example a 'cool' president ordering the extra-judicial, without a shred of due processs, assassination of a US citizen (living in Yemen, not for actually acts of terroism, but for mouthing-off that Muslims have right and duty to defend themselves from US attacks and aggression), that this isn't an act of state terror, but something different and worthwile, and morally acceptable, when ordered by a left/Democrat, but would be an outrageous, barbarous and blatantly uncostitutional crime if order by a monsterous Republican President, like Trump.

1/25/17, 9:04 AM

Patricia Mathews said...
Data points from Albuquerque - from the Journal's letters to the editor, about the women's march & rallies. Of course, all published letters are inherently cherry-picked; these, apparently, for a wide spectrum of attitudes.

1) Abortion - hard positions, totally polarized. Either abortion is a basic feminist position and so you can't be against it and be a feminist, or feminism is about equal pay etc, not the right to kill your babies. No compromise.

2) "Those who did not vote have no right to protest." Why he assumes the protestors did not vote is a good question, since New Mexico went blue this year. Or at least, Albuquerque did.

3) "I would much rather see these folks go out and get a job, pay their share of taxes, and learn not to depend on big government to make them happy...." And why he assumes that people out marching on a weekend are neither working nor paying taxes is a very good question.

4) "After protests, now's the time to get involved ... for public lands and the Wildlife Federation."

5) "Can Trump punish cities and women marchers?" Followed by the author imagining Trump asking himself "Can't I just deport all these women?" Mister, that's a very silly evasion of the real threat: that the federal government, having hooked every locality and agency in the nation on federal money, can simply vote to defund us, and probably will.

And finally, "Protesters should follow the path of Martin Luther King." With quotes from the 1963 pledge he had his marchers sign.

And of course, two complaints about the Journal covering a story about sledding in the Sandias at greater length than they did Our Cause.

Just FYI and showing where the battle lines are right now, down here.

1/25/17, 9:19 AM

MichaelK said...
JMG. I think the issues you are raising are important, disturbing and arouse strong emotions. People don't mind so much when the Republicans or the Deplorables are scrutinized, 'cause everyone knows those guys are ridiculous and wrong, unless one is one of the ill-bred and ill-educated morons oneself!

But the trouble starts when you start to scrutinize what good and decent liberals think and say, their core values and attitudes. The very idea that what they believe in, their virtues, might be open to criticism too, is unacceptable. In doing so you are crossing an invisible line which is supposed not to exist, because it's so obvious.

What you are doing is saying or implying that the left/liberals aren't as virtuous, clever and plain right about stuff as they like to think they are, and that's a kind of heresy.

1/25/17, 9:26 AM

Bob said...
A distinction should be made between Sharia law as applied to the civil code versus the criminal code. Accommodation based on religious beliefs is not unusual with regard to civil matters. I find it curious that these practices are only making headlines now.

1/25/17, 9:49 AM

Matt said...
Thanks, Patricia, for this:

Data point: From New Scientist, just arrived in my mailbox this afternoon, p5:

"Protest? Yes, we can. We (a British science biweekly) mustn't let a superpower (the USA) turn its back on rationality." Or (from the last line) "...the US will jeopardise not only its own people, but all of humanity."

The more I have been thinking about it over the week, the more significant it seems. Like some other posters, I can empathise (sympathise, even) with much of the handwringing going on in the protests. However much we might wish for reasoned, grassroots opposition to Trump, it doesn't do to imply that everyone who can't measure up to this standard is a class bigot.

I think we all agree that something big is going on. We're not the only people feeling it, clearly. And I think the biggest shock to many is the open disdain for truth and rationality. Those of us who read JMGs post The Sharp Edge of the Shell might have been somewhat prepared, but I'm still finding it disconcerting. Imagine the anguish of those who still imagined we would solve our problems by figuring out what's going on, coming up with solutions and convincing others of their desirability. Essentially, all bets are off! How do you expect people to feel about that?


1/25/17, 9:52 AM

Matt said...
avalterra says "I don't see anyone on the alt-right burning vehicles (owned by an immigrant, ironically), sucker punching people on the street, doxxing people or throwing bricks and bottles."

What do the people you see on the alt-right say about these things (wikipedia)?: the 2015 Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting (3 killed), the 2015 Charleston church shooting (9 killed), the 2014 ambush attack on Las Vegas police officers (5 killed), the 2014 Overland Park Jewish Community Center shooting in Kansas (3 killed), the 2014 Pennsylvania State Police barracks attack in Blooming Grove, Pennsylvania (1 killed), a 2012 tri-state killing spree by white supremacists, David Pedersen and Holly Grigsby (4 killed), a 2012 ambush of St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana police (2 killed), the 2012 Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting (6 killed), the 2011 FEAR group attacks (3 killed)

I won't be joining the chorus of commenters "thanking" Nazis for sharing their thoughts with us.


1/25/17, 10:04 AM

Owen said...
One last little thing to add before your a new post comes out. Left and right are quickly becoming quaint notions. People are using words like "alt-right" because they don't really have the right words to describe what things are changing into.

I would claim that the new political duality, isn't left-right anymore, but rather global-national, or corporate-local.

I think to some degree the body politic knows that changes have to be made for things to continue and that the current arrangements must be rearranged. And that requires a new duality.

If the Democrats insist on making identity politics the core of their ideology, I think you'll find them on that dusty shelf along with the Whigs, the Communists, the WTCU, etc. Not that the Republicans are in much better shape - although the old guard of the R's have more or less bitten their tongue and hope they can puppy train Trump into something more manageable, I think they too are almost as deluded as the Democrats, just in different sorts of ways.

1/25/17, 10:08 AM

pygmycory said...
This was one VERY fraught week of comments. Bit upsetting, to be honest.

It seems to me that if the left wants to keep our claims to moral superiority, we need to champion the interests of the poor and relatively poor against those of the affluent. And we should have more prominent members who have spent significant time with little money.

I think that those on welfare, poor women, and poor members of various minorities in the USA do have very real reasons to fear Trump, his cabinet picks, and the republicans in senate and congress. Those who have work are not more oppressed than those who lack it. Ever tried to live on welfare or disability? Or without them or a job? The USA is rather notorious in Canada, and also, I believe, in Europe, as to how low its rates are and how hard it is to get any help. Yet a lot of republicans resent the meager help given.

1/25/17, 11:05 AM

Fred the First said...
Wow oh wow Trump is moving so fast on so many things my head is spinning. We haven't had a president like this my whole life and I remember back To Ford.

Scott Adams refers to this as a technique called pacing and leading. What do you think of it?

1/25/17, 11:27 AM

Izzy said...
@Nastarana: Agreed, with the caveat that I never hit either of those instincts. Every society probably needs a good mistress or two as well, and every family probably is better off for a disreputable aunt. :)

For what it's worth, I'm an English major, and I consider myself a warrior/strumpet. It's a weird multiclass, but such is life.

1/25/17, 2:03 PM

DoubtingThomas said...
@JMG: I'll take a look. Thank you.

@bryant: Thank you for your explanation. :)

You said "I've grown up admiring much about the past, and have found it increasingly impossible to even adhere to my own standards or have any spaces away from leftist "indoctrination" and "Its pretty evidence what the media is trying to normalize these days, and I'm rejecting it."
- What are they trying to indoctrinate/normalise you into believing/accepting ?
- Do you have an example you can share? I'm missing your point. Sorry.

"No man is an island. While liberalism teaches atomized individualism, its plainly a lie. Even free will might be an illusion."
- I see that groups of generally like minded people can have a tendency to flock together, that is society, and that environmental reinforcement can ensue but only until such time as an individual recognises their own power to choose for themselves.
- Which brings back to the earlier question of how would you would handle someone you Love (children, partner, siblings, parents etc) who decided to "be" a way that you found "mentally painful" ?

You said "I scored among the best and got into college early, getting multiple degrees including marketing and then studied psychology vastly on my own.
- Me too. IQ 167-186. According to 3 child psychologists 40+ years ago. Recently spiritually awakened although I define my own belief systems that change as I learn more about myself and the world. Educated at a good University. Working class family (by other's classification systems). Multiple fields of parallel personal study including psychology, philosophy and more esoteric topics. Of course there are all sorts of intelligence - for me - learning emotional / social intelligence took decades of life experience. I'm still learning and desire to learn every day. The more I learn I realise the less I know.

I see/feel the manipulations/forces to conform (from other people, from the media, from the establishment - I didn't always) which enables me to choose for myself if I want to play along or go my own path. Going my own path means accepting the consequences and not blaming others. Lived half my life outside of the UK in very conservative countries (e.g. Saudi) and liberal/social societies with the several forays in the USA for lengthy periods. Spent some time in an American School in Saudi.

Some will point at my gender, my sexuality, my mixed race same-sex 19yr marriage to a recently deceased partner, my spiritual beliefs, my graphic deliberately chosen mixed-message tattoos, shaved head, my ever changing ideas in order to cast me in a negative light in their eyes. None of that touches me or defines me - unless I choose to allow it.

You said "why would I inflict more or less psychological pain upon myself by endorsing or accepting what would mentally hurt me".
- I agree but go further. I don't accept attempts to pain me but then I come at this from the idea that nothing anyone else does or says is because of me. It is inevitably a Projection from them. I don't expect others to be like me. I have friends who are racists, a tattooed neo-nazi, homophobes, gay, str8, muslims, christians, jews. I don't expect them to change for me or me for them.

You said "That's quite fine. At least I'll get to push back at people I hate even more."
- That seems to be a bit of a recurring theme. :( Hate. Yours & Theirs. Where is the Love?
- You've studied Psychology. Take the simple case study of a Pessimist. Such a person can receive millions of positive messages from others and still view what has been said in a pessimistic light. If that pessimist wants to see things differently then the power to do so is within them and only them but it requires a change of belief in them. They don't have to change though.

I wish you well :) and I hope you find a way to be at peace with yourself and the world.

1/25/17, 2:18 PM

Beth said...
It seems odd to me to think about my hatred of Trump as being class-based. I hate him because: he's a liar, he got rich at least in part by cheating people, he treats people like shit, and he - just like every other politician I dislike - cozies up to the groveling rich people who swarm around him wanting a piece of the power trip and Trump just loves that, it's sickening. I despise the rich people who are groveling up to him. If anything Trump just makes me hate rich people!

I don't blame the working class people for voting for him, although I do wonder how people could be willing to vote for someone so obviously pathological and disgusting, I completely understand their disgust with politics in general and their reaction to that being voting for someone who pandered to them so effectively (the hat!). I am a "progressive" and I'm disgusted by politics too. I do not hate the working class and I do not hate Trump because the working class voted for him. I hate Trump because he's a disgusting human being.

1/25/17, 2:19 PM

. said...

"A distinction should be made between Sharia law as applied to the civil code versus the criminal code."

A problem with that is that mainstream Islamic law doesn't divide into civil and criminal in anything like the way US law does. Murder is treated as primarily a private law matter which may be settled between the heirs and the perpetrator. Parents and grandparents may not be subject to retribution for killing their children or grandchildren because children are in effect treated as the property of those who produced them and society is not permitted to interfere with the exercise of that private property relationship. Apostasy, blasphemy, polytheism and adultery on the other hand are not civil matters but criminal ones.

Western concepts of the separation of religion and law or of where the boundaries between civil and criminal, public and private, should lie, are not universal. They reflect Judaeo-Christian origins. Islam is a different culture which western non-muslims know very little about so they tend to make all kinds of assumptions about it which are not accurate.


1/25/17, 3:24 PM

. said...

"A distinction should be made between Sharia law as applied to the civil code versus the criminal code."

A problem with that is that mainstream Islamic law doesn't divide into civil and criminal in anything like the way US law does. Murder is treated as primarily a private law matter which may be settled between the heirs and the perpetrator. Parents and grandparents may not be subject to retribution for killing their children or grandchildren because children are in effect treated as the property of those who produced them and society is not permitted to interfere with the exercise of that private property relationship. Apostasy, blasphemy, polytheism and adultery on the other hand are not civil matters but criminal ones.

Western concepts of the separation of religion and law or of where the boundaries between civil and criminal, public and private, should lie, are not universal. They reflect Judaeo-Christian origins. Islam is a different culture which western non-muslims know very little about so they tend to make all kinds of assumptions about it which are not accurate.


1/25/17, 3:33 PM

Justin said...
Izzy, you know, I'm not offended by women making their own choices, I'm offended by a media and academic apparatus that tells women (and men, but not nearly as much) that their choices do not inherently have consequences, and that any consequences are the result of The Bad People. It's both destructive and infantalizing. Honestly the fact that you are on a peak oil blog confronting some very challenging ideas makes you an abnormal person, and I am talking about normal people here.

1/25/17, 4:02 PM

Bryant said...

Not only is change not particularly possible because there is quite a bit about the brain is static, but I don't have any intention of destroying my identity just because it can accommodate more people I consider as freaks. So yes, I'll live and continue to fight. There's beauty and glory in it.

And trust me, the world around you can and will define you. If you studied psychology, then you would know how well marketing can work through something as simple as manipulating the availability cascade, presentation of images, and taking advantage of the recency effect.

So I can appreciate your ideology and faith of the individual as some sort of immutable entity resistant to outside control and influence. I'm sure like other religions, your faith in it is relatively strong. I can respect that.

You can also respect that I firmly believe otherwise. As for love, I love that which is beautiful which is why I hate that which is ugly. I will die for what is right, which is why I fight against what I find is wrong. There are aspects of the same coin.

1/25/17, 5:08 PM

Izzy said...
@Justin: I'd say it depends on the choices and the consequences--my thought is that it's the other way 'round, gender-wise. I see a lot of media telling guys that they're entitled to have hot women while putting no work at all into their appearance, or that bothering people is "charming" as long as they do it out of Twu Wuv*, or whatnot.

* I am a charter member of the Calling the Cops on Loyd Dobler Society. People are trying to sleep! Put your boombox down and accept the breakup of your high school relationship! It would have ended by Thanksgiving of your freshman year in college anyhow!

1/25/17, 7:39 PM

DoubtingThomas said...
@bryant: Oh I am mutable. Faith doesn't guide me in this. Don't do dogma. I rely on evidence from day to day experiences on this subject. I am not the man I was 10 years ago. I was very shy. Insecure. Unawake. Easily manipulated. A People Pleaser. Passive Aggressive. Blind to those manipulations of media & friends that you mentioned. ( BTW I'm 48. )

I'm not like that any more. My friends & family don't recognise me. Many of my old friends & some family are no longer in my life. No longer compatible. I changed. So I am different. Look back over my comments. Do I seem insecure? Shy? Ashamed?

Sorry the brain is not static. However you slice that statement. From a fundamental atheistic physical materialistic perspective with machines & tools to examine the brain - it Physically changes from birth to death. Starts out smooth ends up with grooves and ridges. From a psychological developmental perspective a child's psyche and personality changes with age and in response to each life experience. Psychotherapy, Talking and Cognitive Behavioural Therapies all have good success rates in deliberately effecting psychological change.

My psychosocial development was stunted because I was sexually abused as a child by an arab. After many years of psychotherapy in my 30s I had a breakthrough moment in which I was able to see the problems caused and as result for the first time in decades I felt joyous & happy. From that moment on I have changed dramatically - slowly to be sure - sometimes the change has been scary but for the good overall. I forgave the man.

Remember when I said I don't allow others to define me.

You just tried to define me (to me) by:

A) stating a psychological clinical falsehood in order to justify your belief "that we can't change". You are entitled to your belief but it is not backed up by Medical Science or Psychology.

B) "And trust me, the world around you can and will define you". No. Just No. Have your opinion, of course, but your opinion doesn't define me to me. You don't define me to me. I can't define you to you [ your choice of self belief systems do that for you. You choose you. ]. If I called you all sorts of boring nasty names or if I moved if you sat next to me in order to insult you. None of that defines you unless you allow it to. You said "Why choose psychological pain". Remember?

You could choose to Hate me thinking I was Ugly. (not suggesting you should) The only person that would effect is you.
Hate ultimately damages the hater not the hated (unless they allow it) but again as you said "Why choose psychological pain". Right?

You are right, plenty of studies and even courses teaching Sales manipulations. Those techniques can work but not on everyone. Used to work on me. Not for years. I tend to have fun with salesman who try to push their merchandise and don't understand the word No. I ignore advertising. I'm not a "consumer" but used to be. Use to always have to have that new more.

"Free Will" is about choice. Always a choice. Doesn't mean the options are always comfortable. I get you seem to feel you lack choice but even how we react to a feeling is a choice. Either you choose unconsciously or consciously. Being "Awake" grants the ability to increasingly more consistently choose consciously. Life is resulting calmer.

You mentioned Showing Images & Psychology. Reminds me of a double blind study where they showed random images and measured electrical responses from genitalia. Fascinating results. Suggested a strong correlation between latent/repressed homosexuality and homophobia. Maybe some traits are preselected and can be suppressed but it results in other symptoms - homophobia, fear, anger, depression, more.

A beauty and glory in fighting. If that works for you :) great!
I'm trying to learn true humility myself but thats a labour of love and perhaps the task of a lifetime.

1/25/17, 9:12 PM

Bob said...
., the implementation of Sharia law in Ontario was made according to Western concepts of what is and is not a civil matter. This article describes the specifics in place of the usual hysteria:

Not exactly newsworthy, was it?

1/25/17, 10:46 PM

. said...

Hysteria? Where? Was anything I said factually incorrect?

You're citing the socialist voice. Have you any concept of the relationship between the far left and political Islam? Try Foucault and the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Take a look at how the sharia family law courts operate in the UK. They breach the fundamental human rights of women and children systematically. Because mainstream Islamic law is incompatible with human rights as determined by the ECHR and House of Lords. Read sharia law. Read the court judgments. I don't do hysteria but I don't do far left propaganda either.

1/26/17, 3:07 AM

Bob said...
Mallow, by all means post your sources. My source reveals what happened in Canada and how it was blown out of proportion.

1/26/17, 2:51 PM

Bryant said...
@DoubtingThomas, as amused as I am that you fall on the playbook of "but you're actually gay", I'll rather just share this.

I'm sure that you have free will just like the patients of Dr. Michael Gazzaniga in "The Ethical Brain"

"For example, a patient with a collesotomy was presented with instructions to begin walking only in his left visual field, information that goes only to the right hemisphere of the brain as a result of a quirk of biology. When asked by researchers why he began walking, the interpretive part of the brain spontaneously created the explanation that he wanted to get a soda since it had no knowledge of the instructions."

But I'm sure that you wouldn't confabulate, that you're actually completely aware, and there's no way for external influences to define you because you're actually special, unlike most people.

Hooray for you. By the way, so do 96% of Americans, who believe that they are "above-average." But unlike then, I'm sure, you're actually special :)

Bye. This is why I don't engage with liberals. I hope this has been edifying for you, but probably not, because ultimately, people basically don't change. Sorry for wasting your time and mine.

1/26/17, 5:41 PM

lyme-mom said...
I never comment here as I dont "get" how to, this is my daughters gmail account, I dont have one.....

Terminal One : I think you are being too hard on yourself, as far as nothing to offer !! I also have chronic Lyme, which was undiagnosed for more than 5 years. total of 15 years now ill. Yes, I take antibiotics, and it is already hard to get these.

But, I went years before diagnosis in pain, and ill, self treating with herbs. I even worked one shift at the farmers market, and then collapsed for the next 3 days. At that time I took alot of Ca poppy saint johns wort tincture that I made. Once, a friend gave me some whole plant oriental poppy, and this made into tea was the best for pain. You can grow poppies. They are easy to grow.

I also think that skill and knowledge we get now is valuable. SO we are in pain, we may know how to instruct on how to get things done that others dont know. We may be able to mind school aged children, or read a story or mind the soup. Learn what you can now, and learn to grow a few herbs to self medicate later !

1/27/17, 8:09 PM

DoubtingThomas said...
(maybe 2nd comment - first one posted but didn't appear after few days so perhaps I made a mistake)

@bryant: I didn't say you were gay. I don't know if you are a homophobe. You have been quite obscure about what your 'thing' is that causes you to hate the Left and want ti fight - for glory - aligning yourself with those who may want to kill you ( as you put it ) . You shared details of an experiment with evidence of sales manipulation and I shared details about one where people chose to deny traits about themselves as evidence of people choosing how to be. Not sure why you would think that example applied to you. Prominent alt-right members are gay so your allegiance to the alt-right wouldn't make me think you were anti-gay.

Re 'The Ethical Brain' - I've not read it. No doubt it would be interesting to read. I suspect that consciousness is not found within the brain but rather operates through it. I suggest that you look in to Scientism though. Complete Awareness is not the result from going through a spiritual awakening but it is understandable that you confuse it as such. My understanding we couldn't cope with complete awareness.

As for being Special - I see the unnecessary attempt at sarcasm/put down - but it fell flat because I didn't described myself as such and certainly don't consider myself to be. Why would you? As far as I know there are possibly millions like me.

I love it when people try to label my values though. Liberal is far too restrictive a label. I'm more pick and mix ;)

Yes interacting with you has been edifying so no need to fear that you wasted my time.

I suspect that you avoid interacting with people capable of shining a light on the inconsistencies in your thoughts and thereby causing you to feel uncomfortable. It's a common response to Cognitive Dissonance and the act of avoiding those people it is a type of selection bias.

Thank you for your time. Good luck with it all.

1/28/17, 9:04 PM

chaugmo said...
The sort of bigotry described is definitely widespread among "liberals". However, I think the election of Trump makes it impossible to maintain the illusion that the federal government has any legitimacy, whereas the election of Hillary would have allowed her supporters to hang on to that illusion somewhat longer. I think this is the crux, the source of the stridency and hysteria. It is a protest against reality.

1/29/17, 12:00 PM

Kurt Cagle said...
Steve Bannon adds an interesting wild card to the mix. My take on Trump is that he is a figurehead, perhaps not as naive as his detractors paint him but a salesman who has generally been able to walk away before the implementing of what he was selling actually gets done.

Bannon, on the other hand, is a worthy foe. I think the most salient point with Bannon is that he is remarkably aware of both governing philosophy and post-industrial dynamics. He has, in the space of a week, gone for the jugular with executive orders (that by several reports bear his thumbprint on the keys) that are designed to sew confusion, chaos and discord, and to wrap the existing power structures in knots. He's a student of Strauss/Howe, and I would be surprised if he was not a reader of your blog.

My biggest question is his motivation. I think that Trump and most of his cronies are in it primarily for the opportunity to enrich themselves. Bannon is playing a deeper, darker game, one where I think his goal is to hasten the collapse, then to be in a better position to pick up the pieces.

I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on him.

1/30/17, 5:32 PM

Bill Man said...
Thanks for talking about this issue of people thinking the future holds Armageddon or perpetual progress. It's been so long since I've seen you discuss this topic and it hasn't been discussed often enough on your site. Besides the magical thinking of Armageddon or perpetual progress, what other magical thinking would you care to discuss? Maybe religion, besides yours I mean?

2/6/17, 2:33 PM

J Michael Sullivan said...
I enjoyed the points you made in this article. And while they hit the mark, it seems to me that there were many other things that had significant influence on the election besides the bafoonery of the the MSM and their elites. Here is one item that cannot be discounted:

2/22/17, 5:49 PM