There are advantages to learning about history. One of the big ones is that patterns repeat themselves across historical time, and if you know what happened just before other societies went through the important inflection points in their life cycle, you can tolerably often figure out when one of those is about to happen in the place and time where you happen to be living. I was reminded of this last week when news dispatches from Afghanistan started showing up in the news aggregator sites I watch.
Afghanistan, in case any of my readers spent the last twenty years living under a rock, was invaded and mostly conquered by the United States in late 2001. Officially, this was in retaliation for the terrorist attacks that year; in the world of unmentionable facts, it was one of two beachheads established as part of the Bush II administration’s monumentally stupid attempt to conquer and pacify the Middle East—the other was of course Iraq. A puppet Afghani government was duly installed and propped up by a steadily increasing expenditure of American dollars, munitions, and lives, while the US military went through the usual pantomime of nation-building and the corporate media took turns alternating between fawning over the latest imperial project and pretending to disapprove of it.
By 2016, however, the great majority of Americans were sick of this and other “forever wars” pursued by our elite classes. Revulsion against Hillary Clinton’s enthusiastic cheerleading for a new war in Syria was thus one of the factors that gave Donald Trump his narrow win in that year’s election. I predicted in early 2021, once it became clear that Joe Biden had scraped out an equally narrow win in the 2020 election, that his administration would quietly copy as many of Trump’s policies as Biden’s handlers thought they could get away with. That turned out to be true, of course, and one of the policies they adopted was the withdrawal from Afghanistan that Trump tried to carry out.
US ground troops were duly withdrawn, and the puppet government we put in place promptly imploded without further ado. When I started writing this post last week, flacks from the US intelligence (sic) community were earnestly warning that the Taliban might be ready to advance on the capital at Kabul within ninety days; before I finished writing it, just a few days later, the Afghan National Army we spent trillions of dollars arming and training had deserted en masse, Kabul had fallen without any significant resistance, and desperate US embassy staff were trying to claw their way onto planes at the Kabul airport. Meanwhile US secretary of state Blinken angrily insisted at a press conference that it was unfair to compare the fall of Kabul to the fall of Saigon in 1975. Of course he was quite correct, in one wry sense: the US puppet government in South Vietnam was able to cling to power for three years after the US pulled its troops out, while its equivalent in Afghanistan didn’t manage much more than three weeks.
Perhaps the loudest result so far has been an orgy of fingerpointing. Our European client states are especially shrill about this, which is funny in a way. If they really want to change the situation on the ground in Afghanistan, after all, they can always send their own armies, air forces, and bureaucrats to replace ours, and commit to pouring Euros down the rathole that swallowed so many dollars. Of course they’re not willing to do anything of the kind—as usual, they’re begging us to do it for them. Meanwhile the political classes here in the United States have been blaming the consequences of their own abject stupidity on poor vacant-eyed Joe Biden, and wringing their hands about the end of this latest imperial adventure without ever quite suggesting that anyone should do something about it. Since more than two thirds of American voters are sick enough of the endless, pointless wars in the Middle East to vote people out of office for supporting them, there’s really not much more they can do.
In all the fuss, an important lesson is in danger of being missed: it’s one thing to go through the motions of building a nation and quite another to accomplish that difficult task. In particular, if nation-building is done with the distinctive mix of arrogance, incompetence, and venality for which American officials have become so deservedly famous in recent decades, you don’t get a nation. Instead, you get what people of an earlier generation used to call a Potemkin village.
There’s a story behind that useful phrase. Back in the eighteenth century, when Catherine the Great was on the throne of the Russian Empire, she decided to tour some southern provinces that had just been wrested from the Ottoman Empire. Those provinces had been devastated by decades of war and weren’t especially enthusiastic about becoming part of Russia, but the Empress didn’t want to hear that—nor, more importantly, did she want to see that. So her chief minister Grigori Potemkin sent his staff ahead to set up fake villages along Her Majesty’s route, where they pretended to be loyal peasants cheering the Empress. Once she was out of sight, they folded up the temporary hovels and hauled them to their next scheduled position.
Some historians these days doubt that this actually took place. It doesn’t greatly matter whether the original Potemkin villages are a detail of Russia’s long and colorful history or an unusually funny urban legend, because the same kind of pretense has happened over and over again in history. It’s inevitable, in fact, whenever political power becomes too concentrated. There’s a reason for this. That reason was memorably summed up by the late Robert Anton Wilson as Hagbard’s Law: communication is only possible between equals.
Let’s take a moment to unpack this. Imagine two people in an unequal relationship, such that person A gets to tell person B what to do and can punish person B at will, while person B is obliged to follow orders and put up with abuse: that is to say, the normal relationship between the privileged classes in American society and their underlings. Is person B going to tell person A the truth under all circumstances? Of course not. Person B is going to tell person A what he thinks person A wants to hear, in order to avoid punishment.
Now imagine that person A has beliefs about the world that don’t correspond to what’s actually happening, and person B has access to the facts on the ground. In this situation Hagbard’s Law kicks into overdrive. Most of the time, as we’ve all seen, person A will insist that the facts on the ground must be doing what they’re told, and if person B dissents, he’s lying and deserves to be punished. Like Grigori Potemkin, person B in this situation is stuck trying to cater to the fantasies of person A no matter how delusional those get. So Person A blunders serenely along, convinced that all is right with the world, while the plans he orders person B to carry out cause one disaster after another.
Consider along these lines what would have happened if a senior staff member in the National Security Council had tried to tell George W. Bush’s inner circle of lackeys that their crackbrained daydream of turning the Middle East into a collection of happy little democratic nations under the thumb of the US empire was guaranteed to end badly, as of course it always was. That senior staffer would have been a former senior staffer in short order. Since the US political class at that time was largely united behind that gargantuan folly, in turn, the staffer’s chance of getting any job that didn’t involve asking “Would you like fries with that?” would have been fairly low. So the staffers did what subordinates in that position nearly always do: they told their superiors what the superiors wanted to hear, and hoped for the best.
This is how we got twenty years of total failure in Afghanistan. Ours is a profoundly caste-ridden society, in which members of the privileged classes fondly pretend that they alone know what’s really going on in the world and can ignore any contradictory data that might filter up from below. Meanwhile the people who have to live with the consequences of the resulting policies face a torrent of abuse if they mention that the facts on the ground are not behaving according to plan. Nor was this effect limited to one overseas war. Keep in mind that the same elites who were responsible for those twenty years of total failure in Afghanistan are also responsible for the current state of affairs here at home, and a great deal suddenly makes sense.
If you want a specific example, look at the infrastructure bill currently lurching its way through Congress. If it passes, it commits the federal government to spend more than a trillion dollars it doesn’t have to repair the crumbling infrastructure of the United States. If you’ve been paying attention, dear reader, you know that this is only the latest and largest of a long series of bills that were supposed to deal with said crumbling infrastructure. None of these bills has actually done anything to repair our infrastructure, of course, and the current bill will do nothing more.
That’s because this bill, like its predecessors, is pure Potemkin policy. If the bill passes, more that a trillion dollars will be conjured out of thin air by the simple expedient of having the US government buy even more of its own bonds. That notional wealth will then be “spent on infrastructure.” That is to say, the great majority of it will go to pay for bureaucratic makework, inflated salaries and consulting fees, planning conferences at posh resort hotels, lavish corporate handouts, good old-fashioned graft, and an assortment of vanity projects pushed by state and federal officials. All of these, in turn, will accomplish about as much to fix our nation’s dilapidated infrastructure as all those dollars we spent on the Afghan National Army did to defend Kabul.
Doubtless a few dollars here and there will actually go into repairing a bridge or a highway somewhere, but that’s incidental. What matters is that Congresscritters and Joe Biden will get to claim that they are “doing something about infrastructure,” federal and state bureaucrats will expand their fiefdoms, the professional-managerial food chains that depend on government handouts will batten on another more than ample feeding, and corporate slush funds will swell like Thanksgiving parade balloons. The only ones who will lose out will be the American people, who will go on having to deal with a built enviroment that resembles the Third World more and more with every year that passes.
Another example? Consider the ongoing charade concerning carbon emissions and global warming. Every year scientists show up on the media to warn us all in glum tones that this is the last chance we’ve got to keep a climate catastrophe from happening. Every year politicians and celebrities make appropriate noises about the climate, and climb aboard their private jets to belch carbon into the atmosphere so they can go someplace fashionable and tell us that we all have to burn less carbon. Meanwhile carbon emissions keep on climbing steadily. It’s all Potemkin policy, as Joe Biden demonstrated last week: after making the usual pious noises about using less carbon, he told OPEC to hurry up and produce more oil and gas so we can use more carbon.
There are plenty of other examples. We’ve got welfare programs that don’t improve anyone’s welfare, except for that of the well-paid bureaucrats who administer them. We’ve got defense programs which are incapable of any military function other than carrying out devastating raids on the federal budget. I could also talk about our more than ample supply of leaders who can’t lead, or about a government that no longer seems to know how to govern, but I think the point has been made. Most programs that have come out of Washington DC over the last forty years or so have been Potemkin policy, meant to create the appearance of action without doing anything about the problems they supposedly address. They have done this because addressing those problems would require the people who profit most from our society to settle for less than everything they want. As a result we Americans live in a Potemkin nation, a land of glossy facades and false fronts covering the stark but unmentionable reality of a society in freefall.
As the current situation in Afghanistan demonstrates, however, a Potemkin village will only stay up as long as everyone involved continues to play along. If anybody had walked up to one of the portable faux-villages Grigori Potemkin put along the route of the Empress and given one of the hovels a good hard shove, the hovel would have collapsed, and so would the entire structure of pretense that depended on it. That’s what the Taliban has just done. One good hard shove was all it took to bring down the Potemkin village of “democratic Afghanistan” that was installed at gunpoint and sustained the same way for twenty miserably wasted years.
Sudden shocks along these lines, however, are not restricted to conveniently distant countries. One of the repeated lessons of history is that when Potemkin politics become standard operating procedure in a nation, no matter how powerful and stable that nation might look, it can come apart with astonishing speed once somebody provides the good hard shove just discussed. The sudden implosion of the Kingdom of France in 1789 and the equally abrupt collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 are two of the most famous examples, but there have been many others. In every case, what happened was that a government that had stopped solving its nation’s problems, and settled for trying to manage appearances instead, discovered the hard way that governments really do derive their power from the consent of the governed—and that this consent can be withdrawn very suddenly indeed.
We are much closer to such an event in the United States today than most people realize. A recent poll discovered that close to a third of Americans would like to see this country broken up into smaller regional nations. That view was shared more or less equally by Democrats, Republicans, and independents, and it was as common in liberal regions as conservative ones. Those are unprecedented numbers, and a few more fatuous blunders on the part of the political classes might be enough to push them well over the line to a workable majority.
Nor would it take scenes like those currently unfolding in Afghanistan to finish the job. As I pointed out a while back in my novel Twilight’s Last Gleaming, the thing could be done legally and peacefully, by the simple expedient of passing a constitutional amendment dissolving the Union and permitting the states to make other arrangements for the welfare of their people—something that state legislatures and a constitutional convention could do all by themselves, without the approval of Congress. Whether or not this particular process describes the shape of our future, the fact that so many people are ready to see the American experiment written off as an obvious failure is a warning sign that should not be ignored.
This doesn’t mean the apocalypse is nigh. (That’s another of the lessons of history.) It means that it’s increasingly likely that sometime in the not too distant future, some good hard shove or other will send the empty facades of our Potemkin nation toppling to the ground, and those of us in the former United States will find ourselves living in a poorer, more troubled, and more marginal society under new management. When will that happen? It’s impossible to say, though I sometimes suspect it may not be all that long. What combination of elite stupidity and blind chance will deliver the push that sends the United States of America as currently constituted down the same well-greased chute as Bourbon France and the Soviet Union? That can’t be known in advance either.
What we know is that if something is unsustainable, sooner or later it won’t be sustained, and if most of the people in a nation no longer trust their leaders or believe in the system under which they live, those leaders and that system are not long for this world. With that in mind, I’d like to suggest that those of my readers who plan on leaving the United States in the event of political upheavals probably shouldn’t delay too long; it won’t do you much good if you wait until the president has fled the country and delivered his resignation speech from a hotel in Ottawa, and 15,000 people are at your local international airport desperately trying to board the last five planes out of the country. If you’re planning on staying, as I am, it might be a good idea to make sure your cupboards are well stocked with food and other necessities, and that you’re prepared to weather periods from weeks to months in length when local stores will have a lot of bare shelves and the other details of what used to pass for ordinary life will be disrupted.
Meanwhile, of course, there are broader arcs of history in which the rise and fall of the United States is a minor detail. One of those arcs may just have passed an inflection point we were warned about half a century ago. We’ll talk about that two weeks from now.
(Quick update: Malcom Kyeyune, one of the best social critics around these days, has a typically brilliant essay on this same theme on his blog. Check it out.)
Some historians have argued that Potemkin’s villages were not props, but were hastily constructed-like the boom towns in the American west. Russian peasants would have been happy to have new land, a consequence of being on the right side of a wee bit of ethnic cleansing. It is likely that the Potempkin village story was created by disgruntled courtiers, etc. Nonetheless, it makes for a useful image….
It seems like it’s not just the federal US government that’s interested in wasting huge amounts of money through an infrastructure bill, either. I found these two news articles that may be relevant to the situation in the drought-stricken parts of the US:
Las Vegas To Build $4 Billion USD Arena in Hopes To Get an NBA Franchise. Granted, $4 billion may be less than the federal infrastructure bill, but it’s being used to build a stadium for an NBA team they don’t even have yet.
U.S. declares first Western reservoir water shortage, triggering cuts. The Lake Mead reservoir, which services Las Vegas among other areas of Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico, is drying up, seeing reduced water apportionments to their unfortunate residents. I wonder how much $4 billion could help here instead of building a stadium for a Las Vegas NBA team that may or may not exist in the future.
Is there a way of categorising societies similar to the four humours and four temperaments in people? If so do they suggest remedies like they do in the healing arts?
thx JMG — good read! btw — there was a general who did tell congress Bush the jr’s plan was ill advised — and he did quickly get shown the door (https://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/the-general-who-understood-iraq-from-the-start).
Quick — look – UFOs!! 🙂
Harbard’s Law worked in the Cuban Missile Crisis from the Soviet side. Khrushchev came up with the idea of putting nuclear missiles into Cuba. Soviet generals went to Cuba to assess. Even though Cuba’s largest trees were palm trees that were shorter than the missiles, the generals had to agree with Khrushchev, so his bad idea went forward. The missiles were discovered before they were operational, with a few exceptions, sticking out of the palm trees.
Excellent article by the author, though suspect the Potemkin Nation might be accelerated by the Covid vaccine situation.
Something in my gut told me to get back into hunting and stop depending on others.
Minor quibble: the president won’t be delivering his resignation speech from Ottawa: Canada is even more of a Potemkin society that the US, and currently depends on the US in so many ways that if you collapse, we’ll be failing too. In fact, I suspect that the push which causes the current North American political system to fail will come from here and not the US….
An excellent summary of where we are now. Bringing back the term “Potemkin” into use is long overdue imo.
Although what you say can be perceived as bleak, I take comfort in you writing about what I am seeing. It’s like getting a diagnosis from a doctor for a chronic condition – at least I have a label for it. Even if it is “bad news”, I now know and can plan accordingly.
The Afghanistan disaster is still unfolding and the hard shove could come from it. I saw the State department wants to have all Americans out by Aug 30th but they have no idea how many Americans remain and where they are (military contractor I’m assuming?). So much can happen in two weeks and its not hard to picture Americans lined up and gruesomely handled by Taliban on video beamed into living rooms. That would be a final straw for many.
The last thing I’d like to report to see if others are experiencing it, there is a discontent and low-grade anger out here. People are done with the ever changing rules around Covid, tired of feeling like everything is a minefield, and just want their life back to normal. People are still willing to do anything – more vaccines, passports, anything just to have their life back with no restrictions. I don’t think the PMC will leave them alone no matter what rules are followed. I’m interested in if you think nationally imposed covid restrictions or vaccine mandates would be the shove?
I was struck by the press conference the Taliban gave after taking control of Kabul. Here is a brief synopsis,
“- Starts with a Koran recitation congratulating the victorious and another one on unity.
– We had legitimate right to liberate the country.
– Pardoning all who have fought against us.
– We want no external or internal enemies.
– Strong Islamic and inclusive government.
– No Talib casualties in Kabul.
– Assures security in Kabul.
– Assures embassies of security.
– We want no chaos or inconvenience in Kabul.
– Confirms Talib only went into Kabul for security on streets. Rioters, thieves wanted to abuse Taliban name to search houses etc.
– Assures security for all neighboring countries.
– Assures international community that no country will be harmed from Afghan soil.
– Rights for women within framework of Sharia. Education, working etc allowed.
– Will build infrastructure for Afghan economy.
– Asks international community to contribute.
– Assures media activity. Can continue to report. But nothing against Islamic values. Should be impartial. Shall critique Talib work so Talib can improve.
– Media shall not work against national values or unity of the nation.”
I told my New York Times worshipping friend that other than the references to Islam and Sharia Law I would vote for a presidential candidate, or mayor of Portland with that platform. As the Elites veer off the road in to a forest of Potemkin Villages they also lose the ability of Plain Speak. I am afraid they will learn nothing from this.
Mr Biden turned out to be right in a way, this wasn’t like the fall of Saigon, in that it actually looked quite a bit worse and even more humiliating for the US.
More to the point though, it put out a few very pointed messages to the rest of the world: Future US collaborators, the US values your lives considerably less than those of dogs:
and the message to US allies is also pretty stark: you’re on your own.
The Taliban victory in Afghanistan will probably give way to tribal based conflict once the flush of victory runs its course. Any nationalism which existed was an illusion that only we bought into. The misery of the Afghan people will no doubt persist for some time to come.
Whether the USA will actually split up as envisioned by some depends on how willing people are to take a plunge into the unknown. It is well to remember that ‘divide and conquer’ is a favored strategy among certain nations which are no doubt rubbing their hands waiting for us to crumble in our turn. Any breakup will surely be exploited and resources looted not by us but foreign nations. Some might think this poetic justice. Our misery may not be over any time soon either.
I’m wondering if we do take the plunge, if we might come to regret it and attempt to reunite. How successful would that be? The winds of change seem to be approaching hurricane strength and may eventually engulf China and Russia in their turn. What will it all look like in the history books (if any) centuries from now?
JMG, which news aggregator sites can you recommend?
Afghanistan is a “graveyard of empires” because of its’ remoteness and rugged geography. No foreign army, ancient or modern, can live off the land in Afghanistan. Supply chains were long in ancient times and are long and expensive in our own times. Alexander marched through Afghanistan but did not linger; Seleucus wasn’t able to hang on to it, and Chandragupta, I believe, had the sense not to try, contenting himself with the reconquest of the upper Indus Valley.
The Afghans will have the government they want just as we Americans have the govt. we want. I am convinced that many, if not most, of us like having a corrupt govt. and corrupt workplaces because of the opportunities for grift and easy living.
I don’t know if resettlement in the USA of umpteen thousand Afghan grifters and opportunists with housing and important perches provided in the midst of a looming eviction crisis for many of the rest of us will prove to be the inflection point of which you speak, but I do think it may well bring on Republican political dominance for some time to come. Me, as a certified non-conformist weirdo, I do not enjoy living under Republican regimes.
“An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted… A retreat began from the old confidence in reason itself; nothing any longer could be what it seemed… A sort of political surrealism came dancing through the ruins of what had nearly been a beautifully moral and rational world… The whole place was becoming inhuman, not only because an unaccustomed fear was spreading so fast, but more because nobody would admit to being afraid.”
I really sense a lot of what is going on in the end of the Boomer Era and it’s illusions.A bull stock market in the middle of an economic depression which some companies like Royal Caribbean should be bankrupt but still relatively afloat.Waiting for the 10th shot of the vaccine to finally work on the 15th varsity of Covid.Great comparison to our times in your article,Team Fantasy running the show into the ground faster every day now.Team Reality on the ground is just waiting for the straw that breaks the camel’s back and honestly the sooner the better.
Thanks so much for this post. What a relief. A long time ago I read a couple of book chapters about organizational change. The author pointed out that unless people have a safe place to stand, they will ignore dis-confirming information. The idea was that a leader would make changes that were good for the survival of the organization, but only after the change had been made, would the people in the organization be able to integrate the obvious and formerly unsafe facts into their world view and be able to talk about it. (The author ignored collapse.) For those of us not drinking so much of the kool aid, it’s a challenge to one’s sanity do watch others gulp it down as fast as they can. Thanks for being a (relatively) sane voice as we watch this process unfold.
It is old news now (amazing how much difference a week makes!), but I was reading one article where a person of authority was arguing that “a stalemate was still possible” as the Taliban were swallowing province after province. When statements like that are being made in earnest, you know the game is lost.
Breaking my wholesale departure from the platform, I took a quick peek over at PolticalWire, just to see what was being talked about. Of the first-page stories, only one touched on Afghanistan. All the others were about COVID, Ted Cruz’s book purchases, or Nancy Pelosi’s leverage (??) in the House fray. (That last was for subscribers only, so I couldn’t find out what leverage the author thought she has.) Having no interest in getting caught back up in those energies, I left the site after that quick perusal. ‘Twould seem to me there be a conspicuous silence on the topic…
I was heartened by your noting of the poll results regarding dissolution. Not that I’d prefer that route (thought I would if the alternative were civil war), but if enough people get fed up with DC, then we might actually be able to pull together that constitutional convention and propose some amendments reeling in and constraining federal power. Under the right circumstances, we could prolong the Union (with the economic and trade benefits thereof) while re-establishing the looser confederation of semi-autonomous states we were at the outset. A far more resilient arrangement, I would argue. (I still have my list of proposed amendments, should that convention ever become reality.)
great summary of what we’re going through!
Putting things in perspective helps – just like you I find comfort in knowing how “small” we are, not only in the cosmic but also in the historical sense.
As I was going to work today, I was thinking how the soviet bureaucrats must have felt in 1989. At my work, things appear normal on the surface. People even stopped mentioning the miracle jab.
The feeling is surreal and I am struggling to convert my philosophical worries into down to earth actions. I know your recommendation for the next months. I felt prepared a couple of months ago but now I am thinking of a lot of last minute additions – extra tires for the bicycles, more rice and beans, a good woodstove…
In my opinion the American experiment is not a failure still in a vastly larger perspective. It’s a paradox in a way where it did work but it didn’t. Granted there’s no war and everyone is in a mutual agreement of splitting up, the power is reduced and split up as compared to a mass conglomeration of states like we have now where each region has vastly different aims but can’t do what they need because of the total opposite. More power would most likely be given back to the people (unless you’re part of the blue state confederacies). Technically it shouldn’t be like that originally but much of the damage was caused by the federal government via the state’s at one point or another becoming thinking it was a good idea to inflate the federal government past its constitutional limits during and after war time. The only issue is possibly something like what happened with the articles of confederation with the whiskey rebellion and the like. But there’s no reason to think it’s the end of the world but it should alleviate some kind of pressure in the long run. I think Trump was one shove, AF being the second shove, who knows what’s the last shove to have it all crumbling down and the masks of Democrats specifically are ripped away and shown up for the tyrannical monsters they are? He’ll if that’s the case it would be hilarious to see people reinstate the US as it is now and demolish an entire political ideology. But that’s wishful thinking. I’ll be getting into the dirty middle of it and I’d be lucky if I survive, thrive and raise my own, and teach others in a time of extreme balance.
I keep hearing the poem “The Second Coming” by W. B. Yeats
Thanks for the posting JMG
I shall look forward to two weeks from now, then. Warned about 50 years ago… I bet it’s something in the limits to growth. Judging by what you said two weeks ago, you might be talking about peaking worldwide population. I’m honestly not so sure that has peaked yet. The article you poked us at was depending more heavily on modelling and less on empirical data than I’d like, especially since the world population counters are still ticking up. Those could be wrong, though, if births vs. deaths has changed and they’re still running on old algorithms.
But if that’s the topic in two weeks, I probably shouldn’t try to talk about it this week! Especially since this week’s topic is interesting to me.
What makes the difference between a democratic governance structure that only hears what it wants to hear and one that faces reality? One key piece is that when expectations of the electorate have drifted far into the unattainable, reality becomes unacceptable and facade is the only option. You simply can’t be elected if you are too attached to telling the truth in that setting. You have been saying this is the likely trajectory after the myth of progress implodes and it is happening.
There are certain occupations that have people facing reality all the time: independent farmers, businesses that make stuff or deliver services, nurses and front-line medical staff, etc. My interactions with most members of the US military have also often given me a sense that they are living in the real world. But in our age, we tend to choose political leaders from the media, entertainment, law, and finance professions who are focused on manipulating abstract worlds fabricated by humans. In some ways it makes sense that they win elections in our age because they have been trained to maintain a facade and that is what the electorate is looking for.
I suspect our ability to bully the rest of the world around just got taken out back and shot. I’ll go out on a limb and predict that within the next few years Afghanistan will have negotiated some very beneficial agreements with Russia and/or China that will serve as inspiration for other nations that want out of the US empire.
On thing on the secession chart that I noticed but haven’t seen talked about: independents are consistently aligned with conservatives. I suspect this would hold even at the state level. The referendum on secession seems like it’s really a referendum on the Democratic Party.
@ JMG – If anyone get’s too excited about asking you to pick a date, you can always point to contrary periods of history, too. For instance, the Qing Dynasty looked on the verge of collapse in the early 1860s, after the defeat of the second opium war and the facing the Taiping Rebellion. Yet, thanks mostly to some reasonably competent and, perhaps as important, loyal generals, the regime lasted until 1912…
A friend of mine asked the hive mind, what we thought the will be likely course of the new Taliban government going forward. His set of options included the obvious, going down the path of Vietnam after 1975, or maybe the Iran route, the ISIS/IS route, or fill in the blank. I chose to fill in the blank, by pointing out that none of those examples included hordes of climate refugees fleeing an increasingly water-starved Indian Subcontinent. He replied that we would “all be living in Saskatchewan by then.” I replied by asking him when he thought ‘by then’ would be, and asking the question, which I will put to you; might a religious government like the Taliban, fare better than a secular one, as the climate continues to destabilize?
I’d been looking at what was happening in Afghanistan, and going ‘wow, that escalated quickly’, it’s the end of an era, all right, and good riddance to that era.
I do feel sorry for the people living there. The Taliban was horrible when they were in power last time, and I would not want to be a woman living in Afghanistan right now.
But hanging on to Afghanistan longer to prevent that wasn’t practical. It has been 20 years already, and so much blood and treasure had been poured into it. And what has all that accomplished, 20 years on? Nothing that lasts. If the people there are unable or unwilling to stop the Taliban, or actively prefer the Taliban, then that’s what they’re going to get.
I wish that a bit more effort was put into getting people who’d helped the western powers out so that they don’t get murdered (and I’m aiming that comment at Canada, Britain etc as well as the USA), but leaving was sensible, necessary, and should have been done years ago.
“Perhaps the loudest result so far has been an orgy of fingerpointing. Our European client states are especially shrill about this, which is funny in a way. If they really want to change the situation on the ground in Afghanistan, after all, they can always send their own armies, air forces, and bureaucrats to replace ours, and commit to pouring Euros down the rathole that swallowed so many dollars. Of course they’re not willing to do anything of the kind—as usual, they’re begging us to do it for them”
Spanish leader keeps on…holidays.
Oh, JMG, you cannot forget in this orgy of fingerpointing the feminists weeping and gnash of teeth…
Most of casualties in Afghanistan NATOs armies had been MEN, of course…It doesn’t matters to them.
Spain and other countries offer help to Afghan refugees.
However, how many refugees is the limit? Are we going into another refugees crisis in Europe?
Here in upstate New York we have mastered the art of Potemkin infrastructure. Slap a coat of paint or vinyl siding on some old downtown buildings and hope something other than vape stores and bad pizzerias appear.
My guess is that in two weeks you will be talking about the inflection point of running out of literally all materials (down to the very sand!) we require to maintain our technological society. AKA “peak everything.”
My wife and I have been thinking about this likely future for about a decade now. Like our host, we’ve decided to stay. We’ll simply do our best to survive whatever happens here.
And New England seems to us better situated for our own survival than many other parts of the country, both in terms of its very old political institutions of local governance and in terms of its likely future climate. Though we were not born in New England, we have lived here (in Rhode Island) for 54 years now. It is our home, and all our current networks of support are local.
It is also the land of our earliest immigrant ancestors, who settled here in the 1620s and the 1630s, although not one of them was a Puritan. We know where they are all buried, and we have visited most of their graves at one time or another. They became part of the New England ecosystems long ago, and through it they still speak to us eloquently and clearly. We are staying here! In time we shall die here and join them as parts of those ecosystems.
I’m a few days short of 79; my wife is less than two years younger. We are not as resiliant as we were 50 years ago, but also whatever future we end up having will not be as long-range as it was 50 years ago.
And our only grandchild (as I have remarked before) has spent almost all of her life in France, so she is far more a European than an American in terms of her culture. She will live out her life on her own European terms, not our American ones; the future of the United States will not impact her survival all that strongly.
EU has its own Potemkin policy. It’s a living dead after Brexit. And populism is growing…
I was living in Seattle, WA when Dubbia/Chaney pulled that stunt. The USA is one of 8 different countries on 3 continents that have had the dubious pleasure of hosting me for at least 3 years, either for study or work.
I remember that after the twin tower bombings he appeared to take time to get his response “together”. I had dared hope this would presage restraint. I certainly hoped more gravitas might be reflected in the decision ultimately taken. Instead the leader of the free world chose to embody the spirit of the school bully. And like many bullies … he actually thought that after weeks of bombing, he’d be welcomed as a liberating hero by those left among the ruins of their former lives. Here’s where the elite’s disconnection from the majority’s reality borders on lunacy.
I also remember “knowing” with absolute certainty that this very moment spelled the end of America’s hegemony – sow the wind and reap the whirlwind. What amazed me most was the apparent ease with which America accepted, and even hailed, the bold new advance into the Middle East. As one who had drunk the cool-aid of American propaganda growing up in post WW2 Western Europe, I was shocked by the petty vengeance and greed that drove policy in the country I always admired as holding the moral high-ground. Man it was ugly to watch … for everyone on the planet, I might add. Seeing the vassal allies jump on the bandwagon (although later France would refuse to go along) was utterly grotesque, yet somehow the local media sold it well, focusing on the tragedy of the victims of 9/11 (to justify the “just” response of 1000 random brown heads for each American head), and barely bothering to report beyond the victorious roar of jet-engines over the jingoistic “Piercing Fury” and “Desert Storm”.
Yes, I too expect the road to ruin hasn’t run its course in the USA … and “the West” in general. I guess my ancestors, the Romans, felt many of these emotions toward the end of empire; anger, nostalgia, sadness, disbelief. A sense of wasted opportunity, of what might have been … And then, one fine day the Taliban crossed the Tiber.
As the “Saigon or Kabul?” meme made its rounds, I was reminded of the Aircraft Carrier on a sandbar photo from your novel, Twilight’s Last Gleaming. I don’t know if this foreign policy disaster will hit the same way as the sandbar photo did in the novel, but I’m getting the distinct impression that somewhere in the American Psyche a switch has been flipped that can’t be unflipped.
I actually got a chance to revisit the Potemkin nation in July on a long overdue road trip. It was my wife’s first time seeing the true state most of the nation lives in outside of the Left Coast. It was a very eye-opening experience and one I’m glad we got to have together. As I braved Colorado flashfloods and Tornado Alley thunderstorms on our way to New York City, I got the feeling that this was going to be our last chance to see the country for a while. Now with Afghanistan unraveling before our eyes, I wonder if the reason behind this feeling will reveal itself before long.
The blogosphere is lighting up with people having weird dreams and bad feelings that SOMETHING is coming. Something big. Don’t know what it means, but data points are coming in from all corners and I’m keeping an eye on it. Thanks for another thoughtful, well articulated post!
“Spot the difference.” Well, one’s an H-46, which I flew and which has been retired, and the other is an H-47, which is still in use and which I long to get my grubby paws on….
I for one, will make my last stand at my home. Considering my neighbors, most of whom are of like mind, I won’t lack for company. My ancestors came to the Boonslick area of Missouri in 1811. My 5x great grandfather John Yarnall was in a military company at Fort Hempstead at Franklin MO during the War of 1812. He was 15 years old. The site of Fort Hempstead is about 5 miles from my house, as the crow flies. John Yarnall still has a lot of descendants living in this area.
One of the astonishing parts about this is that the new regime taking power in AF is a religious one. That’s inconceivable, even more so since a definitely scary and intolerant movement has been able to take over a country in a somewhat quite skilled fashion.
It definitely goes against the mythology of progress in the Western conception : moving away from the intolerance of dark ages and religion, towards the enlightenment of science and atheism.
Religious freedom is a real progress in my view though, so it makes me really sad (and unjust!) that the same takeover wasn’t led by some other less intolerant faction. Let’s not forget that at some point the current Taliban’s political leader was released from prison by Western powers, so they didn’t do their things without our help either.
The other hard-to-mention fact is that this development plays perfectly in the hand of China and its new Silk Road initiative. They accepted to negotiate with the Tal. and thus they are well on their way to achieve a more limited goal than just trying stupidly to conquer what was, after all, called the ‘graveyard of empires’…
If the New Silk Road is secured in Afghanistan, this is going to mark a return to normal, in historical terms, into a new era where Asian nations represent major powers on equal or more superior terms than the powers of Europe (and their offshoot in the Northen half of the Americas).
And the same Potemkin logic will eventually apply to the way the rich Western societies currently operate. Take IT, for instance. A sector that is providing invaluable tools to people in their daily lives… at tremendous social costs and upheavals. It’s not uncommon here to walk into a big retail store in an important retail area (of those enthusiastically developed outside city centers, which have gutted the city centers that the city councils are now concerned about redevelopping…) and to hear the shopkeeper struggling with the IT which is supposed to let her/him do the job.
Take the Internet ecosystem in its current form, as another instance: the number of inconveniences is becoming increasingly visible, not only for the common people (scams, online fraud, etc…) but also for institutions (ransomware attacks…) and nations as a whole (social networks relaying hainous messages, ‘lone wolf’ terrorist attacks almost justified by the guaranty to be in the headlines of those same social networks). Let alone the environment (deiivery trucks driving repeatedly over unfortunate roads that need more maintenance as a result, etc…)
Take the field of Information Security, which is basically a vassal sector from the IT sector. Actors in that field rarely mention returning to using pen and paper as a more secure way of handling information… But the security solutions of today are also more costly than those of the past. So I fully expect that pen and paper are precisely the solution which will get adopted since it’s the only one not serving the interests of both the attackers and the industry which both claims to defend against, and does profit from them.
It’s a weird moment, where things look really settled in place, but also really uncertain… Hard to explain it in a better way. I expect human abilities to prevail much more against big machines, though.
Kudos, this is the best big picture take I’ve read on the Afghanistan debacle and I’ve read a lot in the past few days, mostly armchair generals from Team Blue or Red.
Regarding the big picture, I wonder how you feel about being on the East Coast, so close to the seat of imperial decay in DC. Wouldn’t it be more rational to be far away as possible from the imploding crater, somewhere secession can take hold and has a chance, e.g. your native Cascadia?
I enjoyed your well-written article; and I’m not commenting to disagree, but to present a perspective which I’m sure you’ve heard before. I’m concerned these days with the “psychology” of the citizens of America. Specifically, I doubt that Americans as a whole have the critical thinking skills and moral development to sustain any sort of organized government. Sustaining any aspect of civilization or culture requires a requisite amount of logical thinking, not to mention an appreciation for high ideals.
Here is a simple way to make homeless people trillionaires.
1. Build tiny homes, so popular in California and give them to the homeless.
2. Call your friends on Wall Street and ramble the words: ESG, SPAC, REIT, Federal Reserve MBS 80 billion a month and most importantly coworking and cohabitat.
This unleashes the monumental value converting industry of the great market makers.
Move the tiny homes into a company where the tiny homers gets equal share. Let Wall Street pump that baby into valuations only seen by unicorns and then push it onto the pension funds as it is listed as one of the biggest companies in the world. The tiny homers can now either cash out or ride that wave into Potemkin valuation land.
As I commented on the other site, I think the “new American century,” a neo-con fantasy right from the beginning, has already come to an end. “Nobody could have foreseen” … (fill in the blank). Really?
I think that this post is exagerately pesimist.
Wr must remember that the Potemkim trick had a complete sucess; the Romanov rule lasted many decades, resisted the French invasión and could become older if Rusia didn’t fought in WWI.
You know its interesting you bring up the idea of secession as that is what I see most Americans talking about these days – whether on youtube, twitter or average news comments. It is like the people have given up on the nation and want to start afresh. They realise that if they want to have a better future, breaking the country up is the way to go.
So my thoughts on this matter.
1) Afghanistan to America I would say is the equivalent of Chernobyl to the Soviet Union. People have realised since 2008 that the country has been going in the wrong direction but this – THIS is the big one. Those pictures of fleeing embassy staff, the Taliban gloating in Kabul and Afghans clinging onto aircraft wings has really hit it home hard to people that America is “done”. Its no longer the invincible country it once thought it was. This is bigger then Vietnam which was more of a Varian defeat which the country could recover from due to its strong economy. This is a real huge blow in peoples morale.
2) The “knockout blow” I think is going to come in the 2024 election. Should Trump choose to run again (I think he is the only one who is that popular with the base) I think two options will occur:
He narrowly loses, screams that no Republican can win legitimately anymore due to corruption, changing demographics and what have you and ends up using the words “secession”. That kicks off a huge shit storm with more Repubs backing Trump (realising he is right) and that leads to events for a breakup.
Second, he narrowly wins, the Democrats scream blue murder (literally) and end up collapsing the whole thing, leading to secession. No way will they tolerate Trump back in the white house. No bloody way.
3) US does have one huge problem. Unlike the Soviet Union that had many different ethnicities that broke away to form their own nation states, America is mainly divided on ideology. People support either left or right but live all over the place. The divide is between conservative rural areas and liberal cities. So if a true left vs right divide happens….who goes where? You could end up with lots of independent cities surrounded by secessionist counties….it would be a huge mess.
Not to mention that Americans do not really have clear, regional identities like they used to have. Sure, there is still a Dixie culture going on but the strong identities of the past such as the New Englanders, the Californians, the Texans etc have been pretty blurred out due to globalisation, immigration, etc. So that is a huge problem.
4) Whatever happens, I suspect the EU will follow suit as will the UK with their own independence movements. As I always sau, Elizabeth II is the Franz Josef of the 21st century.
Anyway just my thoughts.
I passionately opposed the Iraq war and thought at the time Blair’s experience of Northern Ireland meant he should have known better. If people vote along sectarian or ethnic lines and those locked into a permanent minority are persecuted then democracy can’t function. Here we have the UK, one of the oldest Western democracies, and we’ve had all this trouble in Northern Ireland. So how did we imagine we could make a shiny new democratic Iraq?
Democracy can’t be imposed: it has to grow over time in an organic way. The UK democracy has roots that go back centuries all the way to Runnymede.
Having said that the Taliban triumph is a tragedy for Afghan women. I suspect even if the US empire is in terminal decline we’ll miss it once it’s gone. I certainly don’t believe the world will be a better place if China becomes the hegemon.
I interpreted this somewhat differently. To me, it looks like the US has detonated a wildcard bomb in Asia. Let’s see in which direction it goes off. Will it destabilise Europe and Russia’s satellite states further or perhaps wreak havoc in Xinjiang? The BBC believes the Taliban will enjoy good relations with Russia and China, but who can truly tell when those two are involved?
I’d like to hear the more liberal-minded explain that Islam is not a political and legal system now (one of their ridiculous go-to arguments).
The US does not care about human rights and neither does the EU. I don’t believe they ever have. They care about markets and access. If human rights mattered, China would never have been favoured the way it was (Tibet, anyone? Decades before the very predictable developments in HK). To this day, SA funds mosques around the world to spread their hardline beliefs. The list of hypocrisies goes on and on. So any cries from the client states and US elites are just theatrical hand-wringing, as per usual. They don’t care and never will.
What perplexes me is this notion of splitting up the US. Where did it come from? Since when has it been around (not counting the civil war)? It seems to me there are several countries who would be more than pleased to feed that narrative and sell people on the idea. Divided, you are weak. Do you want to become like Europe, a bunch of nations too close together for comfort, each secretly convinced they are better than all the others?
Gerard, as I said in the post, it doesn’t matter whether the story is accurate or not — it makes a fine image for a commonplace of overly hierarchical societies.
Ethan, thank you for these! Keep in mind that what’s actually going on with that stadium has nothing to do with sports, and everything to do with construction companies owned by organized crime syndicates getting another handout. I did mention good old-fashioned graft…
Yorkshire, good question. You might consider seeing if you can work one out.
Jerry, hmm! I didn’t happen to know about that. Thank you.
Tomriverwriter, one of many examples!
Rod, that’s valid. Our Potemkin vaccines don’t immunize against the virus, don’t slow transmission, and are racking up harmful side effects (including sudden death) at a rate two orders of magnitude higher than all other vaccines put together. Maybe we should call them Afghan National Army vaccines…
DMekel, a case can be made.
Anonymous, nah, Canada’s always six months to a year behind the US. I figure your government will implode about that long after ours.
Denis, that’s a possibility. A lot depends on whether the dissident physicians and researchers who suggest that the vaccine causes illnesses worse than Covid turn out to be right…
Clay, I suspect a lot of people are thinking in those terms just now.
Synthase, I hope none of our Afghan collaborators thought that they were going to get any better treatment when push came to shove. It’s that final message that I think could start bringing things down in a hurry.
Jeanne, the US — and especially its political classes — need to give up on the fantasy that they can turn the rest of the world into Massachusetts. They haven’t even managed it with most of this country! The Afghan people will have to decide what kind of government they want and what they’re willing to risk to make that happen. As for the US, I’m hoping that we can avoid dissolution, preferably by embracing a renewed federalism in which each state makes its own social policy and the federal government is restricted to certain limited fields of action — you know, the kind of thing our constitution specifies.
Mary, I like reading Zero Hedge and Naked Capitalism — they disagree on just about everything.
Patrick, that seems like a fair analysis to me.
Bradley, you’re welcome and thank you. It’s those of us who are willing to stick to our own take on things, and not believe whatever crap gets sluiced into millions of brains via the media sewer, who are going to be explaining things to a lot of shell-shocked survivors down the road.
David BTL, thanks for the data points. I’m not surprised they’re avoiding the subject of Afghanistan — too close to reality, you know.
NomadicBeer, I’ve talked to people who lived in the Soviet Union in its last years, and yeah, this feels very similar. I’ll be picking up more rice and beans this afternoon.
Copper, I don’t think the American experiment is a failure. I’d like to see us keep the Union together, but reining in the federal government and giving a lot of concerns back to the states where the constitution put them is a necessary step.
Raymond, brrr. Yes, I think that’s very apropos.
Pygmycory, good. But it’s not population I have in mind…
Ganv, I won’t argue. The drunken orgy of American empire has been profitable for a lot of people and comfortable for many more. It’s just that when you wake up the next morning sick as a dog with your house trashed, your yard trashed, your furniture trashed, and a policeman nudging you with his boot because you’ve been cited for umpty dozen violations and get to go for a ride in his car, it may not seem like quite so good an idea…
Slithy Toves, yes, I noticed that. I hope the Democrats have noticed too.
Ben, so noted! I expect the Taliban to do as well at governing Afghanistan as anyone ever has. Admittedly that doesn’t amount to much!
Pygmycory, we needed to get out, but it would have been nice if somebody bothered to come up with a plan, or otherwise act the way governments are supposed to act when they’re not hopelessly incompetent to the point of drooling idiocy.
Chuaquin, I think it would be a fine idea for the feminists to organize their own brigades, raise funds, and go in there to rescue Afghani women from the Taliban, I’d be willing to contribute the cost of an AK-47, in fact.
Chris, nope, but you’re not entirely off track.
Robert, Rhode Island strikes me as a good place to ride things out also, which is why I’m here. Once the virus thing is over, we can get together over a big tasty pot of rice and beans!
Chuaquin, the EU is dominated by the managerial class to an even greater extent than the US is, and the airy disregard of policy for mere realities is accordingly even more extreme. The populists at this point are one good crisis (or one good demagogue) from power.
Brazzart, exactly. I had very similar sentiments watching my country launch its idiotic wars of choice in the Middle East. It reminded me very much of the way Crassus marched against the Parthians in 53 BC…
StarNinja, it occurred to me more than once that this could be our sandbar moment. But we’ll see.
Michelle, excellent! Spoken like a true copter geek.
Danaone, you won’t need to make a last stand. Lessons of history, remember? If you’ve got roots where you are, and are comfortable living there, stay put and brace yourself, and odds are you’ll be fine.
Naej-Nieviv, I’ve read that intelligence agencies around the world are going back to typewriters and filing cabinets, because those can’t be hacked and any computer, anywhere, can be. The rest of us will be following in due time. Me, I have a filing cabinet and a very nice typewriter, and I know someone who’s busy reviving mimeograph technology, so I’m set…
Brian, nope. To begin with, the west coast is turning into the rust belt of the 21st century as the tribute economy that drove its boom collapses, and the inland west — as I noted a couple of weeks ago — is on its way to desertification and uninhabitability. As for the seat of imperial decay, there were plenty of small cities in Italy that did tolerably well during the fall of the Empire, especially after the Goths got through with Rome.
Eric, if that were true there would be no governments anywhere, ever. Most people do not think logically and give, at most, lip service to their ideals. “Out of the crooked timber of humanity was no straight thing ever made.” Here as elsewhere, we get the government we deserve.
Gest, ssssshhh! Start up that company pronto, with a snazzy name and a good website, and cash in. You can put my 10% consulting fee in the tip jar. 😉
Phutatorius, I ain’t arguing.
Anselmo, your opinion is duly noted. Now we’ll see who’s right.
Ksim, “Elizabeth II is the Franz Josef of the 21st century” — ouch. Dead on target. As for the rest, a great deal depends on what happens between now and then, but yes, those are possibilities.
Robert, nobody can ever impose democracy on anyone else. How could they? Democracy by definition must be chosen by the people who have it. Many of those who don’t have it don’t want it, and shoving it down their throats — especially when it’s done with the sort of clueless arrogance that your empire and mine both displayed in such abundance — is not a good way to convince them to want it.
Piglet, er, the secession in 1860 is kind of a big deal in our nation’s history, you know. I’m not in favor of it, but as long as people in one region insist that they ought to shove their social ideas down the throats of people in other regions, it’s going to have an obvious appeal.
Good piece JMG.
With regards to the map of a split-up USA, I don’t know if that will happen…yet. What I do know is the continued lies, obfuscations, corruption ad nauseum initially divided the country into those who adore federal government and following edicts (EO’s are effectively edicts IMO) and experts and those who distrust government implicitly at some or all levels.
These groups are spread all over, with enclaves within larger groups. Making a “clean split” is going to be tricky as things stand today. So it’s going to take something more than just Covid madness, as people have to leave their enclaves for other parts.
What is readily visible on our horizon is that the depth of the lies and corruption has been revealed to those who want to bear witness. Others cannot even countenance the possibility. The net result of this will, I believe, be people simply ignoring the folks in DC because they have clearly shown they are detached from both our reality and the rest of the globe. They are clearly working for their own interests – there is now very little debate about that even between red and blue teams, once you remove the Covid division.
So we are looking at some point in our near future where people simply cease to believe the elites (politicians, officials, experts, CEOs, media, etc.). Some of us have been at that point a very long while, waiting and watching to see what is birthed when this thing we call the federal government finally collapses from the weight of corruption.
I agree with several people who have stated that laying up food and similar things is likely to be a very good idea – because nobody knows which timber will burst first in the hypercomplex chains we have become wrapped in.
The center is not holding – Afghanistan is just much more visible than many other points of failure.
Biden begging OPEC for more production is a great illustration of the ignorance of politicians about oil – in his mind (or what remains of it), you just turn a valve and more oil comes out….
Also, perhaps very far-fetched, but I interpreted Biden’s statement that if Afghan soldiers weren’t willing to fight for their own country, US soldiers wouldn’t do it for them as a subtle warning to the EU. If Russia ever felt the stupid need to march in and ride this white elephant, EU resistance would likely be short-lived and the US might not intervene.
But all is well in the minds of the elite as long as they control the narrative (they lost that, too, quite some time ago).
Perhaps it’s worth quoting journalist Julian Assange’s 2011 take on the war in Afghanistan here since it’s in line with the general message of your excellent essay although slightly different w.r.t. the point of the war in that country:
“The goal is to use Afghanistan to wash money out of the tax bases of the US and Europe through Afghanistan and back into the hands of a transnational security elite. The goal is an endless war, not a successful one.”
Probably another reason he’s currently rotting in a British jail awaiting extradition to the US.
The implosion of the Afghan regime was extra-ordinary. Even the Taliban were surprised by the speed of it all. They clearly couldn’t believe their stoke of luck, so much so that they joked about it before the cameras.
As Clay Dennis says, I also was struck by the Taliban press conference. Even if they manage to honour only half of their promises, they will have changed Afghanistan for the better for a long time. Still we’ll see.
What also stuck me is that the Afghan US debacle is really the debacle of the West. Given that all major western countries like the UK, France, Germany and Canada supported the US to the hilt.
The ruling elites of the West will now be seen as they really are: thieves, looters and murderers who are corrupt, wholly incompetent, arrogant, abysmally foolish and with no hints of common sense. In my view, the west has lost most if not all of its credibility in the eyes of the non-western world who will now realise that the west has no vision, no principles and no understanding of how the world really works. It has a large stick but no brains to use it competently. It can only lash its large stick around injuring defenseless civilians.
I was also surprised by the swift statements coming from China and Russia concerning future collaborations with the Taliban. They are the real winners of that debacle. I would not be surprised to hear that these countries have worked together to topple the US led regime.
For some years now I have waited to see a clear shift of the Muslim world towards alliances with China and Russia. With the Western Debacle, I may well see that.
I wonder what the final push in the US will be? A nasty new variant? The replacement of an ailing president with an even more unpopular vice? An invasion of a place where the West gets a lot of it’s it stuff from – followed by a humiliating lack of response? Any of these look plausible to me although my money is on the latter unfortunately.
At this point it seems that the UK will follow a similar fate too. Despite regular stories and rumours of malice, incompetence, or even corruption, the SNP remains firmly in power in Scotland. The conclusion is obvious, they retain support simply because they are there to do one thing, in a similar way that Boris became PM to do the one job that he has since completed. I should think that things will stay static until the passing of Elizabeth as there is a great deal of sentimentality about her. After she’s gone, things will move rapidly. There are very few north or south of the border who retain any sentiment for Charles. That died with Diana.
@JMG Events like Afghanistan or Scottish Independence don’t come out of the blue, does this seem consistent to you with the early impact of the Grand Conjunction or is it still too soon?
@Danaone – we’re cousins! I am descended from Daniel Yarnell who settled in Anderson County, Tennessee in the 1790s. And his children’s children’s children are still here. My understanding is that all American Yarnells come from two Quaker brothers who emigrated to Pennsylvania. One branch moved to TN and then some of them moved on to Missouri. Greetings and best wishes and yes, stay put!
Amazing post. True, true.
I’m going to guess that the subject in two weeks will be peak industrial output, both per capita and absolutely, which the LTG graph predicted arriving in the early ’20s.
Regarding Canada, although the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives are hardly Trumpist populists, they surprised pollsters with a majority-government win. It’s not much, considering how reprehensibly the unelected premier (the last one retired) has behaved in his few months in office, but it is interesting.
Just in time, my city of Providence has instituted a test of a “guaranteed basic income” plan, which will give $500/month to a hundred or so families. Of course, more than half of the money spent will go to administrative salaries, overhead, etc, etc. Yet another well meaning experiment in supporting the PMC.
I’m glad to see that 32% of my fellow future citizens of the Republic of New England and the Maritimes are getting prepared. We here in Rhode Island did vote down ratifying the Constitution by a vote of 10 to 1 in 1788, and only finally joined the United States after the shipowning oligarchy ensured a special session of the Legislature appointed a Special Commission which voted to ratify as ordered on May 29,1790.
@Ethan La Coursière — with respect to Lake Mead — not sure if more money would fix/mitigate the issue (except to maybe relocate people). I personally plan to be watching this unfold over the next few years — especially once the litigation starts. Maybe the supreme court can order the Colorado to produce more water 😉
(and thanks for the link!)
Trillions of dollars. You literally can not get your head around that big a number. Do you know many years 1 trillion seconds are?
#1 – You should be able to feed and protect your loved ones.
Good advice from Charles Huge Smith. You need a network of good people. Social capital he calls it. Leaving. Don’t even dream of living off the land farming or hunting. Grow a garden for sure. Not much wildlife left out there either. About the cabin in the woods. Every dirt bike rider and hunter in the county knows where that cabin is. And they will recognize the new stranger in town as an outsider when you visit.
Foreign country. Speak the language? Strong rule of law. Do they even like Americans?
Trudeau’s Canadian lock downs are worse that ours and just look at pictures of a young Fidel Castro compared to Justin and tell me you still believe he is really Peirre’s son.
I grew up being told the southern hemisphere was safest in a nuclear war. Remember ‘The Beach’. Not if the South China Sea lights up. And how about troops locking down civilians in Sydney right now. And New Zealand locked down for 1, that’s right, 1 covid patient. Hint – It ain’t about Covid anymore Dorothy.
Remember we are spiritual beings having these experiences for a reason. I’ve been to places were the goal is escape. I kind of like it here. We’ve been drawn to a place that teaches how to work with and through these experiences. Breath, Practice, Think, don’t react. Everything changes. This will pass. What has been is killing the Earth and us. We are here for this for a reason.
Keep good intentions and practice your path. DenG
Oh ya. 1 trillion seconds = 31,700 years. What you thought 10, 100 years:)
PS. Sorry forgot to add. The right move within the US seems like a very good idea for many people depending on where you are and what you are facing! Maybe a plan B or move to a state or area that is more like minded as you. DenG
I don’t comment very often, but I just wanted to let you know that I read your posts every week, and they give me a great deal to think about; thank you.
So here’s a question: the USA has been in decline for many decades now, through depressions, wars and uprisings, yet it still continues as a country. What would be some key indications that things are diffferent this time? Of course we’ve had recent riots or uprisings, and the military had to flee an occupied country, but we’ve seen all these things many times over the decades, as you pointed out in comparing this to the fall of Saigon.
Also — and I apologise if someone has asked this already — you once cited Polybius’ cycle of strongmen, oligarchies and democracies, and seemed to imply that Trump could be the next strongman. Was I interpreting that accurately? If so, how does his defeat affect that theory?
The official conversations regarding Afghanistan and climate change strike me as eerily similar.
Even after major cities fell to the Taliban the media was still quoting government officials saying that they were concerned about Afghanistan heading towards a civil war. This seems to be the equivalent of someone watching sailors fight off sharks for three days and remarking that they were worried about the seaworthiness of the USS Indianapolis.
Crises are always in the future and just avoidable. They never quite internalize that the status quo is seriously threatened until its far too late. If the narrative holds true we can expect to see government officials concerned (unless we act now) about the potential impacts of climate change after Miami and Las Vegas are abandoned.
Re: Potemkin villages: The most important effect (in the long run) may not be that they show the ruler what the ruler wants to see, but the PROVE to those tasked with building them to trust nothing, not even what they see with their own eyes. They’ve seen how easy it is to construct the facade. I explained this perspective once, to a gentleman who was lecturing on the “happy North Korean villages” visible across the DMZ. “They’re not trying to fool us,” I explained. “They’re training their own people not to believe what THEY see across the border.” There was a thoughtful pause, before he said “I never thought of it that way. You’re probably right.”
Modern economies are based on debt. Car loans, mortgages, credit cards, … and government bonds. Debt is based on trust. The lender trusts the borrower to repay the debt (with interest, wherever that might come from). When anything, or everything, could be an illusion, why would anyone invest in anything?
When there is no trust, you get a culture in which anything of value will be stolen, because “if I don’t steal it, somebody else will. Why should I be the last honest man in town?” This explains, for example, agricultural aid projects which (for example) donate a tractor to a village. Dig a well, and lay some irrigation pipe. The payback time, when used properly, may be a decade. The profit on stealing the infrastructure is next week.
For a soldier in the Afghan army, “surrender now, peacefully, or surrender later (or get killed in the mean time)”. The Taliban had a decade to get the message out.
Almost forgot. I did my 1st SoP today:)
Ksim – The retreat from Afghanistan is not the US’s Chernobyl. Fauci’s “coronavirus gain-of-function research in Wuhan” is the US’s Chernobyl. Big science? check. Good intentions? check. Reckless operations? check. Global impact? check. Know risk? check. Inadequate safety measures? check.
Afghanistan, to the US, means the same thing as it meant to the USSR: some regions of the world are not governable. The tribute you can extract will never be worth the effort of extracting it. It’s just “low-grade ore”. I wonder if we’ll get to see the Chinese learn the same lesson.
JMG, Slithy Toves (#22):
I’m not sure I’d call it a referendum on the Democratic Party per se, but more a question of who’s be happier if the nation split along the lines of the map. The Democratic Party would definitely rule in (what’s left in) the Pacific and the Atlantic Coast North of the Potomac, the Republican Party would own the South and Mountain States, and I could see a Right-Center coalition in the Midwest.
The Republicans and Independents seem to be consistent in their support (no area below 24/25%), whereas the Democrats only support separation where they’re sure to dominate (Support outside their two areas is less than 15%, well below that in the Mountain area).
In short – I could see a wild dash towards the coasts if a breakup happens, as I’m betting that the West Coast expats/migrants are being tolerated elsewhere solely because they have money to enrich the local landowners and business owners. Should the Dollar take on the ultimate value of all currencies (nothing), the people from the west coast will experience a radical collapse in various forms of status and, if not directly told to get out, would find themselves pushed away from their new “homes.”
I did not vote for Trump but really liked when he attacked globalization.
I did not vote for Biden but really liked when he pulled the troops out of Afghanistan.
And yes I do agree strongly with JMG’s comment and I only implied in the first post – The strongest and most valuable social capital is a strong network of family and friends you can count on. And that usually means home.
JMG and Robert,
watching the unholy messes that the USA keeps making when they try to make democracies in conquered states, I keep wondering…
why have Germany and Japan been successful democracies ever since? Did the people there simply decide that they wanted to be a democracy, based partly on previous experience with democracy? Did the USA do a much better job of nation-building, thereby making democracy look good? Were the previous governments so awful that they had completely discredited themselves to the point where the people were ready to go with literally any other system?
Some mix of all of the above?
chauquin @ 25, American feminists, an upper and PMC class breed now, lost any right they might have had to opine about foreign women when, to a chick (I refuse to give them the honorable title ‘women’) they ignored the heroic women fighters of Kurdistan who were actually fighting back against ISIS, even in some instances committing suicide in a way that took as many of the enemy out with them as they could, because..Assad. A baad dude, remember. Who is still there. Oh, but, I was told on another forum, it is More Important to take out Assad the Baad Dude.
Speaking of ISIS, Pepe Escobar (see his latest reprinted at Vineyard of the Saker) has it that the Russians and Chinese have already informed the new Afghan govt. they had better not be offering sanctuary to such persons. I think that is what the statement that no other countries will be attacked from Afghan soil is about, reassuring the Shanghai Cooperation Org. that they will be good neighbors. I don’t have much use for the Saker, and as far as I am concerned he absolutely does not get to decide who is or is not a good American, but he does get good writers on his site.
Denis @#9, there is plenty of low grade discontent in progressive circles following Nina Turner’s loss in the Ohio 11 special primary election. The attitude is sort of.. If the Zionist/bourgeosie alliance is what you folks prefer, don’t ask us for help again. A week later, the new CIA director went to Jerusalem and told the Israelis no, the USA will not attack Iran for you, that even after the chief of Mossad unveiled the whole propaganda campaign ready to send to the NYT about how Iran’s new president is the evilest limb of Satan ever seen on earth since Tamerlane. So, it looks like the Democratic Majority for Israel might have dumped a whole bunch of money into Ohio for nothing.
Thanks for this. My following comments I think amplify your points.
Many of us in the Southern-Middle part of this country have suspected something like this was going to happen eventually– but I don’t think we expected it in any of our lifetimes. In fact, back in 2018 Texas opened its own precious metal repository. “Experts” at the time panned (pun somewhat intended) the decision, citing the usual shibboleths about ROI and the like. Or, worse, they suspected this was some move to placate the “Alex Jones/Qanon” types elite liberals insist are the base of the GOP.
Of course, those of us with eyes to see could observe what was really going on: that at least some people in the state legislature there knew that they were looking down the barrel of a weak dollar future. They also knew that Texas, and perhaps other nearby states willing to flock to its banner, might have to go it alone economically in the near to medium term. There was simply no incentive for federal officials to have sane economic policies. Then COVID, or whatever it turns out this whole thing was actually bout, happened and it was off to the races in the precious metal markets that took off last summer and have remained volatile since.
So, the point was never to turn a profit on gold, or to placate fictional crazy people, or what have you. Rather, metals are a convenient medium to redenominate currencies in a hurry–it’s a standard move for the super wealthy when the currency they are currently “in” crashes. It could also back a new currency issued by the State of Texas itself. Either way, it suggests crashing faith in the federal reserve system. But it also reflects optimism that the sovereignty of individual states, or regions, to weather the storm.
All this said, I’m not saying this or that program or remedy would “work”. Nor do I advocate for Texas’s discourse about itself– it may well be uninhabitable 100 years from now even if they don’t manage to suck all the oil wells dry before then. I just point out that it looks like some actors are already preparing for a regional crack-up that day by day seems more immanent.
On a more pleasant but related note, I recently spent a few days hunting and fishing on a working farm my buddy owns in a region of my home state that is relatively unspoiled by the ravages of deindustrialization and heroin. You would have no idea any of this madness was going on. Perhaps these events will be the catalyst that allows my grandchildren or great-grandchildren to live in a Republic made up of a patchwork of yeoman farmers and more or less sustainable merchant cities. Likely not, but one can hope at any rate….
I concur. The beauty of the American Experiment is that it is predicated on the individual’s role in the world and his importance over the federal government rather than the opposite of which most of human history has followed. But unfortunately to get personal responsibility back, we have to sacrifice a lot, and that’s where things get more than hairy of which dividing ourselves at the wrong time may mean total annihilation. Its needed but at the same time we are at the same crossroads that our founding fathers were at while drawing up the Constitution and fighting Britain yet again in the war of 1812. I believe Trump set the ball rolling in a sort of reform, which is why those synchronicities did not happen a second time around, because he did his job, now we get to see people nut up more often as they try and figure out how to navigate the labyrinthine machinations of a badly spray tanned business man. Actually now that I think of it, this kind of reminds me of how President Taft, The GOP and the Progressives really struggled after Theodor Roosevelt left office.
My personal theory is that one of the main reasons the soviet union collapsed before the U.S. is that as a communist country it did not have a large scale method of creating debt and credit ( borrow from the future) as the U.S. did. As the era of industrial growth ( 1950’s-70’s) grew to a close the U.S. replaced it with a system of financialization where growth was fueled by increased debt. The Soviet union had no way to patch up its empire in the same way. I thinks this means that the U.S. will collapse differently than the USSR. As long as the dollar remains the worlds reserve currency and the government can print up as much as it wants and hand it out we won’t see collapse or secession on a large scale. Too many Americans are hooked on federal transfer payments in the form of SS, food stamps, medicare, medicaid, and federal pensions. But it is inevitable that the rest of the world will tire of taking our printed money in exchange for valuable resources or manufactured goods. Because the elites will want to retain their global purchasing power ( got to have champagne) my theory is that at some point they will create a second currency to hand out to the plebs instead of real dollars. This new “money” will only be usuable within the U.S. and will be handed out to the recipients of all the above transfer payments ,plus any new “Stimmies”. You will be able to pay rent, mortgages, utilities and domestically produced food with this new greenback, but not much else. Once people find they can no longer buy gas, or TV sets or electronic gizmos the riots will start. So keep your eyes peeled for the appearance of a second currency and head for the hills when it first shows its head.
I find it hilarious that some media talking heads are saying the Taliban “must” respect human rights and be inclusive, as if there is any force to back those demands up.
As far as the next set of tectonic shifts in the global order, causing heads in the political classes to explode out of sheer disbelief, I think a reintegrated Taiwan would easily accomplish that. The headline of this article strikes me as a possibility too vivid to ignore, although I don’t know enough to agree or disagree with the contents:
I will share this article, because I think it makes some good points:
Are you taking guesses about your article in two weeks? Will you be doing another peak oil article in two weeks? US oil production peaked in 1971, though Hubbert’s paper was from 1956. I will guess peak oil. I am sure whatever you write will have your usual clear insight.
Two thoughts on the breakup of the USA.
One. Color me optimistic but I think the new smaller nation-states that emerge after the final “good hard shove” will be more likely to actually fix problems. After all, what breaks down once can break down again until the govt. actually makes things better. Maybe there will be multiple breakdowns ? Maybe as far as City-States in some cases? I see each breakdown as positive as we get nearer the size of govt that would respond to citizen’s needs.
Two. I’m not sure we will split into recognizable states, as per the map above. To me it seems like the greatest political/socail divide is rural/urban. Like vieins of ore in a mine there are veins of conservative/liberal belief in many, if not all, states.
clay dennis – “You will be able to pay rent, mortgages, utilities and domestically produced food with this new greenback, but not much else. ”
At the moment, lots of people find that paying rent and/or mortgage is unnecessary. (‘Cuz the CDC says so, temporarily nationalizing a large part of the nation’s housing.)
Remote work would cut down on commuting expenses. (A good idea, perhaps, but then, there’s this: “A handful of white-collar workers say they’ve doubled their salaries by secretly working two full-time remote jobs simultaneously.” (a story on LinkedIn.))
And, as for food: “Starting in October, average benefits for food stamps — officially known as the SNAP program — will rise more than 25% above pre-pandemic levels.” (NPR)
Utilities? Maybe a “Green New Deal” will make utilities so expensive that only the government can cover the bills.
Oilman2, are you familiar with the partition of British India into the nations of India and Pakistan? Millions of people fled from one or the other as the borders got drawn. I hope we can avoid that here.
Piglet, I hope that was on his mind — or more precisely the minds of his handlers. It’s long past time to say it.
Hereward, that makes it all the more interesting that it’s been shut down.
Karim, that strikes me as a very sensible analysis; thank you.
Andy, this is the sort of thing you can expect in the wake of a Grand Mutation, yes. As you can see from my discussion of the chart, with Sun square Moon and Mars in his rulership and in an angle, we’re in for a lot of disruption. I commented at the time: “Expect the next 199 years to be an era of turmoil, as centralized governments committed to crisis management in an era of technological regress have to contend with constant pushback and hostility from the population.” And again: “In this chart, two planets—Mars and Neptune—are in their rulerships. […] The two planets in rulerships show that war, ruled by Mars, and religion, ruled by Neptune, will be major influences over the next 199 years.” Starting off with a military triumph by a religious movement strikes me as apropos…
Dana, thank you.
Justin, you’re getting close.
Peter, I heard about that. I wonder how much in the way of bribe money is changing hands as people vie to be among those 100 lucky families!
Brian, equally, somebody in Bourbon France in 1788 or the Soviet Union in 1990 could have insisted that they’d been declining for a good long time and hadn’t fallen apart yet. I noted in the post that I don’t claim to be able to predict exactly when the organic fertilizer will hit the wind turbine; what I’m confident of is that the collision is coming. As for Trump, it’s quite common for various people to vie for the role of strongman before someone gets the part. You might read up on the last century of the Roman Republic sometime for a good refresher course on that…
Jo, excellent! Yes, precisely — and if your chattering classes are used to deploying the crisis du jour to get more handouts from the public purse, it never occurs to them that one of those crises might be real.
Lathechuck, I could see that. In this case what we’ve all learned is that the US government is much less in control of the situation than it thinks — and that could spiral into a world-class flustered cluck very quickly indeed.
DenG, good. Be sure to do your second one tomorrow.
Godozo, fair enough.
Skyrider, agreed. I’m not impressed with the way Biden got us out of the latest imperial quagmire, but at least he got us out.
Pygmycory, that’s a very good question to which I don’t have an answer. Anyone else?
Anonymous, thanks for this. Yes, I’ve been watching the states that have started to stockpile gold — a weather glass with the pointer heading toward “Hurricane.”
Copper, a good metaphor!
Clay, interesting. That’s at least possible. Keep in mind, though, that the dollar is shedding its role as exchange currency very quickly just now…
John, yes, I’ve been watching that and chuckling. The sense of entitlement on the part of our media stooges is pretty breathtaking…
BCV, stay tuned and find out!
Christophe, a good sharp political transformation, with a clearing away of legislative, bureaucratic, and other forms of deadwood, could do that kind of improvement for the US as a whole — and that would obviate the problem with the intermixture of liberal and conservative Americans. I’m hoping for that.
Have you heard of the new novel called, “Let Them Look West” by Marty Phillips (published by Antelope Hill Publishing)? It is about a NY Times reporter who is sent on an assignment to interview the new governor of the break-away republic of Wyoming. The governor is a popular charismatic Christian, and he had built a monument to the Crucifixion called Mount Calvary in the middle of Wyoming that’s drawing the faithful from around the world. It’s a very interesting, well written book, and I’m sure you would enjoy it. I bet they’d be thrilled to send you a free copy if you asked (they defiantly read your material).
I’m waiting on the mail to bring me another one of their new releases of selected essays called “Why We Fight”. If anyone is interested what’s it about check: http://www.antelopehillpublishing.com
A quote from the article i shared:
“The problem with this, as a few intellectuals such as Stanley Kurtz tried to tell them (us; I served on the National Security Council staff from 2001-2005) was that, while pre- and intra-war Germany and Japan were not democratic, they possessed many features that support advanced democracy, including civic institutions, strong and pervasive education systems, first-world infrastructure, and functioning industrial economies, among others. Democratizing these countries was thus much more within the realm of possibility—especially after they had been utterly defeated and occupied.
Which, needless to say, never happened in Afghanistan. And even if it had, that country, then as now, lacked all the features listed above. Moreover, its culture and traditions are utterly antithetical to many of them.”
One of many things I found instructive in the article.
regarding water, there are some useful things that money could have done to make the available water go further, even if you can’t drink money.
I understand that there’s a lot of aging water infrastructure. You could use some of that money to plug the leaks. That’s probably the biggest bang for your buck. You could also offer rebates for people buying water-efficient appliances, and offer free rain barrels. You could build desalination plants, but the water produced would be expensive, and there’s probably better uses for the electricity. Building facilities for treating wastewater to higher levels so that it could be used for agriculture might have promise.
None of these things are going to stop the west from drying out, but they can soften the impact and delay the date at which people become water refugees. Would have been worth a try.
Wasn’t the alleged reason for the invasion of Afghanistan, the fact that they had terrorist training camps there, post 9/11? Well, it turns out that the US was to a large extent responsible for that. Problem-Reaction-Solution.
“The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) worked in tandem with Pakistan’s ISI to create the “monster” that is today Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban, a leading US expert on South Asia said here. Harrison said: “The CIA made a historic mistake in encouraging Islamic groups from all over the world to come to Afghanistan.” The US provided $3 billion for building up these Islamic groups, and it accepted Pakistan’s demand that they should decide how this money should be spent.
He had meetings with CIA leaders at the time when Islamic forces were being strengthened in Afghanistan. “They told me these people were fanatical, and the more fierce they were the more fiercely they would fight the Soviets. The Taliban are not just recruits from ‘madrassas’ (Muslim theological schools) but are on the payroll of the ISI (Inter Services Intelligence, the intelligence wing of the Pakistani government). Now it is Pakistan that “holds the key to the future of Afghanistan,” Harrison said. The creation of the Taliban was central to Pakistan’s “pan-Islamic vision,”
It’s an old article but very apropos. http://emperors-clothes.com/docs/pak2.htm
Also, I think the US political class did achieve its goals in Afghanistan. The goal was to give trillions of dollars to the industrial military complex (Raytheon, Halliburton etc) and that was certainly achieved. I really hope this puts the nail in the coffin of the American Empire but as war is extremely good for business, I doubt it. The US is currently bombing Somalia at the moment.
Mary Bennett #64: American feminists are mostly of the libfem, woke, “choice feminism” variety these days…focused on labeling any decision a woman makes as ‘feminist’, while refusing to acknowledge the possibility of coercion or class or economic issues that could be influencing those choices. They’ll complain about kink-shaming or misgendering but will ignore offenses committed against women unless a cis white Christian man did them. (Wouldn’t want to appear racist or Islamophobic or otherwise unwoke, right?) They should take a page from Korean feminists and Kurdish feminists.
Your stop sign photo reminded me of an intersection on US 52, just south of Kennett Square, Pa about where the Encore Consignment shop is located. According to the highway department — IIRC — you can drive north and south on the road *AT THE SAME TIME*. It could have been east and west.
I’ve never seen this anywhere else.
This type of scenario (quoted below) obviously brings with it all kinds of problems. One of them would seem to be a major impact to the value of the dollar (especially if the country backing it literally no longer exists). Tangible goods would increase in value due to their immediate scarcity and utility. I know you have typically argued against hoarding precious metals. But, it seems like some sort of currency protection would be wise. And, some precious metals would seem like a logical strategy. Thoughts?
“It means that it’s increasingly likely that sometime in the not too distant future, some good hard shove or other will send the empty facades of our Potemkin nation toppling to the ground, and those of us in the former United States will find ourselves living in a poorer, more troubled, and more marginal society under new management. When will that happen? It’s impossible to say, though I sometimes suspect it may not be all that long.”
I recognized your map of a divided U.S.A. It’s very similar to the nine nations of North America by Joel Garreau. That book was written forty years ago and it seems truer than ever.
One question about our senile elites. Is this a function of age and not being properly challenged?
That is, ristos (even if they don’t call themselves that) can do as they please and so can their descendants while stockpiling wealth. But they do not face what previous aristocracies did sometimes face: their sons going off to war to fight for God and country.
Knowing you have to lead from the front and risk death or avoid it and risk utter humiliation to you AND your children must provide some kind of winnowing process on elites.
Some thoughts; let’s see if they get through.
1. Most significant of all: there are American citizens still in Afghanistan, and the US government has told them it cannot help them. Estimates of numbers range from 10,000 minimum; higher levels range from 15,000 to 40,000. Let that sink in. Even if it’s the lower range, that’s 10,000 citizens being abandoned. JMG, you’ve often said that a marker of imperial collapse would be overseas bases being abandoned. Well, here it is – but it’s civilians, not soldiers, being cut loose. Word seems to be spreading. I wonder if this is going to have consequences as people learn about it?
(Stranded Americans are told to make their OWN way to Kabul airport past Taliban check points but to stay home ‘if they don’t think it’s safe’ as shambolic evacuation of at least 11,000 US citizens continues)
2. The Taliban are still active on Twitter, unlike the 45th President of the United States. This is also being noticed. Facebook have banned the Taliban in the last few days; apparently, until they actually won, they were more acceptable than the last US President.
3. Iran is now a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Afghanistan is likely to integrate rapidly with the Belt and Road Initiative / Eurasian Economic Union. France and Germany are already trying to normalize relations with Russia; they’ll be joined soon by Hungary, Italy, Greece, and others. Many African states are also integrating. The Five Eyes are being shut out of Eurasia, politically and (more significantly) economically. Expect more shrieking, cognitive dissonance, and doubling down as their economies run into climate change, Limits to Growth, and being frozen out of the markets that have all the important raw materials.
The ancients, including the folks of the Middle Ages, ascribed to a doctrine of Ages. Gold, Silver, etc. And a lot of folks including some nominal Christians and Jews, took the idea of Fate more seriously than the idea that we are mostly “in control” of our lives. Fate, luck, movement of the ages. To some extent, even karma (what you sow, you reap, morally and materially).
We’ve had a good run so far, folks. My vote is to stock up on anything you can reasonably stock up on, and hold on intelligently. Looks like we’re in for a bumpy ride. There’s no telling exactly how the slide will work in the near term. I can imagine all kinds of horrors, but most of them are not things I can affect or prevent. I’m gonna focus on the ones near to hand. And being a good neighbor and friend, to the extent that’s given to me to do… That also seems to me to be a sort of summary of the comments so far.
I’m ranting in my journal about the whole “leaders who can’t lead, government that can’t govern, and citizens that seem unable to fix the problem.” There are few topics that grate on my nerves more than watching this whole crisis unfold and the hapless weaklings that have the audacity to call themselves leaders. Say what you will about Biden, but I’m glad he had the spine to go through with ending the war. Sucks that he isn’t capable of doing anything else to hold the country together.
I have the option to out from the US, but I’m staying here. I don’t know, for whatever it’s worth I want to the US to hold together. The collapse of this country would be a tragedy to me, but I realize that many and more people don’t share my opinion. Which gods to we pray to in this case, which spirits will actually help us hold our country together?
I remember your forecast of Biden’s election. He’d be walking into a buzz saw.
I’d say that he’s gotten more than one by now. How many more buzz saws are waiting in the wings?
Your grasp of history, and more importantly, the social forces of it, never ceases to amaze me. Like Brazzart and yourself, I saw the events unfolding after 9/11 to be worse than the attack itself, and my anger towards the terrorists was quickly replaced by frustration with the American people allowing the response to move forward. As former military, I thought there was an element of protecting the Middle Eastern oil supply by flanking Iran on two sides, but I also knew there was a component of the military “racket” in the mix, to prolong an unwinnable war to maximize profits.
9/11 to me was the “hard shove” that started the dominoes teetering, and we’re paying more for that now. To manage a Republic successfully takes a lot of personal sacrifice from a healthy percentage of citizens, and I think if the U.S. does break up into smaller chunks, the more citizens that take an active role in monitoring the government will fare better.
As far as the decline timeline goes, it does indeed look like a doozey of a step down is on the horizon. I’m rereading your book “Dark Age America”, and I can more fully grasp the concept of it taking centuries to bottom out and begin rebuilding. Of course, the Long Descent will be more abrupt in the U.S. (we have further to fall), and the regions across the world will bottom out at different times. But this step down coming here in the U.S. may be what I was focusing on, in my self-centered view of the world – and I’m sure glad that I was exposed to the concept of collapse now and avoid the rush. The rush is picking up big time steam.
Before 9/11 there was “9/10”. As the 20th anniversary approaches, we would do well to recognize the erosion of civil liberties that has occurred since September 11, 2001. That alone legitimates serious talk of secession. But before we resort to that, let’s try taking seriously the 9th and 10th Amendments to the constitution. By stating that the enumeration of certain rights in the Constitution was not meant to disparage other rights not mentioned, the 9th Amendment reminds us that the Constitution doesn’t grant rights, it recognizes them. The 10th Amendment reminds us that the powers of the federal government were meant to be relatively few and defined, in contrast to our many, and often undefined, rights. Outside of those enumerated powers, governance reverts to the individual States or to the people. Also, local control sits better with the current phase of slow-motion collapse of large-scale arrangements.
Secession invites invasion from long-standing foes, alliances that lead to war, and even continued war between the original combatants. If the South had won, would we have had trench warfare here in the U.S., with the British-allied South fighting the German-allied North? In the actual War Between the States, there was considerable dissension among the Southern States; many Southerners thought the rich plantation owners fomented secession for their own benefit and at the expense of everyone else.
BTW, it wasn’t a “civil war”; the South wasn’t trying to take over the country; they were trying to secede from it. But calling it “The War of Northern Aggression” is tendentious in the other direction. “War Between the States” is both accurate and neutral.
What precipitated the War Between the States was the insistence on Southern plantation owners on expanding slavery into the territories. (The need to expand in order for a system to survive–a recurring theme.) It would have been nice if opposing the expansion of slavery, was also opposing slavery, but in the main, it wasn’t. People wanted the territories for homesteading by the many, not plantations run by the few. (Per the Corwin amendment, the South could have retained slavery where it already existed.) When the War between the States proved to be bloodier and longer than originally supposed, people tried to redeem the carnage by turning it into a crusade against slavery, leading to the 13th amendment.
Put another way, Americans were willing to tolerate slavery for the sake of peace as long as it wasn’t going to be shoved down their throats–which, if slavery had been allowed to expand, it would sooner or later have done. If there is an internal war within the U.S. it may well come about because a modern-day “plantation-owning’ elite insists on shoving wokism and all its works down everyone else’s throat.
Or, everyone can back away from the abyss and tolerate each other without insisting that the other side embracing their culture. Taking the 9th and 10th Amendments seriously could provide a way forward on that basis.
@Yorkshire This is a fascinating idea! I however find myself thinking about the difference between healing a society and healing an individual.
Using pre-revolutionary France as an example, the focus of a concerned Frenchman shouldn’t be on keeping the Ancien Regime alive, but on how to either let it die or change in a way that doesn’t cause something as chaotic as the French Revolution.
I thought it was poignant that one of the Taliban spokesman trolled the west by pointing out that facebook engages in censorship now. He’s right, of course. We’re seeing the moral legitimacy of the US empire disappear before our very eyes. I think that’s actually far more important than the military defeat.
Interesting little side note: both Australia and New Zealand had to scramble to try and get planes to Kabul to get our people out. The US couldn’t even protect its allies. Meanwhile, Australia recently asked the US for more doses of the vaccine and was denied. We ended up buying some from Poland. At least in the US, you have already begun the painful process of moving to what comes next. Here in Australia, we have no clue at all.
Any ideas what history shows about vassal states when the empire that rules them falls?
The view from Taiwan:
(looks around nervously)
Bogatyr (no,81) (hey, are you a Roerich fan?), Iran is not yet a full member of the SCO, although analysts expect that will happen soon. Right now it is only an observer.
Future historians may view the founding of the SCO, Asian Development Bank, and so forth as the key political events of our time. Or who knows, maybe China will collapse (please God please!) and it will all come to nothing.
Anyway, we should certainly hear less talk of the US invading Iran now. This is good, because I support Armenia (as do Iran and Russia), and NATO supports Turkey (which supports Azerbaijan). In other words, I broadly support US policy in the Western Pacific, but hope that it is frustrated in Europe and the Middle East.
Illyria, thank you for the response. You clearly know a lot more than I do about the world of feminism these days. I never heard of libfem, or kink shaming (What is that?). I thought the young Kurdish women actually fighting back against ISIS was one of the most inspiring things of which I had ever heard. One young woman, about to be captured, waited until she was surrounded and then pulled the pin on her grenade. Most of the left these days is simply bought and paid for, or might as well be. The list of important issues ignored by leftist activists because of Uncle Hiram’s investments or cousin Joe’s job, or “nation states are obsolete” ideology or their donors asked them not to is getting long enough to pave the White House (non) Rose Garden.
I have no problem at all being described as anti a religion which still permits enslavement and the buying and selling of human beings. Not that we Catholics have a good record in that respect, but we have, I think, I hope, learned better.
@Bradley Which book were you reading on organizational behavior?
From my own experience inside a 100+ year old corporation, I could tell you that corporations can operate in various “zombie” states for quite a long time. Collapse doesn’t happen as advertised in economic textbooks. If you’ve read any Schumpeter I think his description of creative destruction vs corporate sclerosis is spot on.
So…we’re actually beginning to get some analysis of just how the Afghan army wound up collapsing as quickly as it did, and its a real doozy.
It turns out that the Afghan military establishment the US built may have been one of the most stunningly corrupt organizations on Earth. To start with, military officers and recruiters would frequently create “ghost soldiers”-enlisted men who only existed as a name on a piece of paper, but who were still paid a salary that some battalion commander somewhere got to collect and add to his own income. These “ghost soldiers” were included in the official statistics the Afghan government kept on its military, which in turn made the Afghan military appear much larger than it actually was. Biden frequently claimed Afghanistan had over 300,000 men under arms, which was the number the Afghan government was giving him; it may have been closer to 50,000
Second, the Afghan defense establishment was not content with siphoning off the pay of soldiers who didn’t exist-they eventually got greedy enough to include the ones who did exist as well. The majority of the Afghan army was not paid at all in 2021. Worse, people in the military’s logistics departments often sold ammunition and food that were supposed to go to the army on the black market-which meant that, when the Taliban launched their offensive, many Afghan military units were short of these rather important items. Furthermore, much of the Afghan military outright depended on the US for logistics-and they lost that earlier this year when we withdrew.
In other words, the US spent at least 900 billion creating a military that turned out to be incapable of very basic military stuff.
Something of note to add here-Ashraf Ghani, president of Afghanistan since 2014, actually spent most of his career in the US. He came here sometime around 1980, and was an Anthropology professor at Johns Hopkins University before being hired as a consultant by the World Bank, where he worked for several years. He then left this job to found a think tank that focused on rebuilding failed states, and even wrote a book on this topic in 2009. Basically, the guy was as much a part of the US managerial elite as one can be without actually being born in this country, and he got selected to go back home and be president because he was An Expert Who Knew How To Fix Things. Look how that turned out.
I’m glad you wrote “the ruling elites of the West”, as most people know that what constitutes the West has been long gone, for at least a century. It’s run by people who have no allegiance to country. I’d say the final nail in the coffin for the US was 1913. That was the year we saw Senators elected by popular vote with the 17th Amendment. This allowed Senators to vote for interests outside of their respective states and it eliminated an important check on Federal power. Also created was the income tax (which was supposed to affect only the top 2%.) Finally, the creation of the Federal Reserve, a private bank. The Fed allowed the US to go into debt and that is why we could enter WWI and start our warmongering in the first place. The rise of corporations didn’t help much either.
If we get rid of the ruling elites, America certainly, and probably much of Europe, including Russia, will return to some of its original core values. Here in the US we might see a federalist republic as JMG pointed out. The Northwest Ordinance and the Federalist Papers are good sources for that. So are the anti-Federalist papers.
The trans-national elites treat citizens as consumers, and see no problem transferring millions of people from one country to another, as culture to them is merely an impediment to their goal of stealing trillions. I wonder if there is going to be a backlash from the natives of every country sometime soon against unbridled immigration. Orban of Hungary has proudly stated that he has taken zero refugees from the Middle East.
What will the West in Europe become? I don’t know. But I do know that in Germany, AfD laughs at what the US thinks of as culture. In their minds, they created Beethoven, Mozart and Neoclassical and Gothic architecture. Perhaps Hungary and Poland are an example of future European culture.
I might also add that I currently see no other option emerging to replace the West except a temporary scramble of alliances with possibly China as the leader. I seriously doubt Russia, India, Africa and Iran will allow China to boss them around any more than they let the US do it today. They could be trapped by debt, as that is the strategy behind the Belt and Road initiative. Do you expect the Taliban to kowtow to Beijing?
Anyway, just my 2 cents (now worth 0.0008 cents since 1913.)
Varun (#83), if I may,
Regarding which Gods to pray to in this case, one of Violet’s recent posts suggests one starting point: “A Speculation on the Loud-Thunderer.”
Someone would need to do the statistics to check for significance, but at a glance the independents seem closer in step with the Republicans than they are with themselves. The only region where the independents are more than 2 percentage points out of step with Republicans is in the Mountain area, where their support for secession is at 34%, above the 25% baseline you propose, and in the South, where half of Republicans are in favor, 49% of independents are as well.
Now, one complicating factor I can’t control for with the data at hand is contrarianism: a lot of independents may just be reflexively against whichever party is in the White House, rather than the Democratic Party specifically.
I have to quibble with the map the pollsters produced. Texas will not be part of “The South”. Texas will be Texas.
Stocking up on beans, rice, and popcorn.
O.E.P. (Whose ancestors crossed the Sabine river in 1835).
Hi John Michael,
Greetings from the lock down capital of the world. 200+ days in lock down is an enviable estate.
As government support for businesses and their employees declines, I’ve noticed a significant upswing in mental health issues in the community. Please hang with me, this does relate to this week’s topic.
When asked about the mental health outcomes which recently included a number of alleged suicides amongst young females, the Chief Health Officer apparently walked out of the interview. It especially interests me that there is a stark comparison in the reporting of the issue between our local news and the international reporting of this incident.
Local news: COVID-19 highlights Victoria’s poor mental health infrastructure and lack of funding, experts say.
International news: Emotional Brett Sutton abruptly walks out of Covid briefing as he discusses eight teen girls who took their own lives in lockdown – before Dan Andrews explains the ‘difficult decisions are weighing on him’.
The governments down here appear to be persuing an eradication policy, which is laudable. However, they’ve shown themselves time and time again to be utterly incompetent when handling the quarantine of returning Australians. The powers that be just don’t seem to be able to hear the concerns of the population and they are making decisions without having consulted the population and driving vast swaths of the population into poverty and economic distress. It is all rather strange.
it occurred to me that Kabul might not have been a Saigon moment but in fact the American Empire’s Suez Crisis,
a final over reach that backfired and the Empire could never reach as far again,
there’s a point where you can’t come up with enough fossil fuels to keep your existing domestic economy going, let alone find extra to power Imperial military follies abroad,
on the subject of the possible breaking up of the Union I remember seeing articles by Colin Woodard about his system of dividing the USA up into nations characterised by their ethnic make up at the time of colonisation,
I found it an interesting lens through which to identify the many nations that make up the USA.
I’ve been ensconced in a project which could perhaps be considered a metaphor for what you suggest is happening. I’m preparing two separate nurses logs to be inoculated with two kinds of dowels of edible fungi .. let’s, for the sake of discussion, refer to each as the red fungus .. and the blue fungus. So, the logs in question are two different groups – similar, but with different spore. These inoculated nurse logs will be placed leaning against one another ..to decompose slowly, with the respective future mycelium eventually intertwining amongst one another, to change their environment for the benefit of both, thus sporting a new flush of flowering development for all, whilst ridding their immediate environ of an ever stiffening, and wooden decadence!
The most obvious event that might push us in the direction of dissolution is likely related the covid-19 vaccine push, but the public has been generally pretty accepting in being guinea pigs, so my gut tells me this won’t be the nail in the coffin. I have a feeling it will be some sort of black swan thing, a little hard to imagine right now but in hindsight we’ll all wonder why we hadn’t seen it coming.
Your warnings both in this post and the Open Post over on the dreamwidth page are appreciated. I’ve been one of those who has been suffering grinding of teeth of late, and I’m getting cold sores like crazy on my lips (a sign of being stressed that is common with me). The astral plane is without a doubt getting even messier. Something big is coming, intuition is communicating that a change is happening..
Correction to my last comment to godozo: I had misread the independents’ support for secession in the South as 49%, when it’s actually 45%. That does affect my argument somewhat. I’m looking into doing the relevant statistics now to see how significant the correlation actually is.
Tucker Carlson on Fox Nation today 8/18 with Lara Logan on Afghanistan. Money. Propaganda. Details. Bad details. Someone wanted this outcome she says. Lots of insight. Worse than we think. Purposeful external destruction of the American narrative to mirror the internal destruction we have been experiencing. If you subscribe watch it. If you don’t consider a trail and cancel. I compare this hour to the Dr Malone Covid video.
China is getting ready to provide the shove. It wont be too long now.
As the chairman of Huawei recently said: “the lights in the East will be burning brightly long after the West goes dark” and “the United States no longer represents the world.”
By the way, nations of the East (including both China and Japan in my recent experience) are happy to accept immigrants that work hard and provide skills that they need.
Right on point. But it’s not just the leaders who have these illusions. The actual event of the tumbling down of the Potemkin nation, similar to Afghanistan, is going to hit like a lightning bolt for most, because Americans especially literally cannot comprehend ‘there is no more thing’ (re; stores, supplies, etc).
God Almighty has decreed there will be Coke and Burgers aplenty for all with the wealth to obtain His works. That’s literally how people act, from retail experience. If you tell them “No, there’s not, the warehouse literally burnt the fuck down,” they react like you just pulled your dick out and start acting like it must be your personal fault. Or you’re lying. or don’t want to do your job and “Get it from the back,” wherein all earthly wealth is stored in infinite abundance, if only employees would go do their job and seek it.
(Taken from a discussion with a friend).
My own addition to this is that Hagbard’s law works both ways. Something I read in a book (possibly even a novel) many years ago. When someone enters the upper echelons of power such as politics, entire new vistas of expertise are open to them. They have access to privileged analysis, secret information. This immediately puts them in a special upper caste, one segregated by security clearance. Anything a lower caste says to them cannot be true if it contradicts their privileged analysis. Thus anyone who does speak up with facts is just ignored. We’ve seen this in action over and over again. The people on the ground for Hillary’s campaign said “There is massive support for trump” and those in control dismissed them; “That’s not what our models show.”
My ex son-in-law is retired US Army. He worked in reception and interpretation of spy satellite images. He spent about 9 months in Iraq training Iraqi army in the tech. Also, of course, knew fellow soldiers who had been in Afghanistan. He remarked that everyone below the rank of Major knew what would happen, but that no one listened. Also that Middle Eastern countries are not nations in our sense: people will fight for their family, tribe or village, not for a government they have no loyalty to.
The above may be a partial answer to Pigmycory on successful democratization of Japan and Germany–Germany and Japan both had a strong national identity before the war. They also had a culture of submission to authority. In the case of Japan–literally a sacred king to tell them “it’s over, we lost, surrender”. So, if leaders that were respected told them that their new path was democracy (which they both already experimented with earlier) there was a likelihood of success.
A right wing talk radio host I heard last night while driving speculated on what would happen if China took this debacle as an opportunity to move on Taiwan. Good question. He also wondered about US public reactions if we were to see photos or videos of US citizens arrested and mistreated, or even executed, in Afghanistan. IMO that would be a very stupid move on the part of the Taliban, pointless too. I don’t know how much central control the Taliban has over their local fighters and leaders. If it is loose there could be a possibility of such an incident, if a local leader encountered members of an NGO doing something that he regarded as morally reprehensible, for example. Or if US military contractors were captured in an area where they had done something that made them very disliked. But either event could spark real outrage in US. My personal opinion is that my local Girl Scout Council could have planned and executed a better retreat.
I would think that the main obstacle to Afghan/China alliance is China’s persecution (which some label a genocide) of Muslim minorities.
To remind us that “plus le change, plus le meme chose ” I recommend a few works by English writer Evelyn Waugh–_Waugh Abroad_ contains his observations of politics in what was then Abyssinia, and other parts of the Middle East as the British government sized up various tribal leaders for their potential as allies. He tells of one such who was known to be virtually a drooling idiot, managed by the women in the harem except when he had to be propped up for public display. Two novels are in the same setting. _Black Mischief_ on diplomats caught in a coup and _Scoop_ on journalists in the area. Waugh is best known for _Brideshead Revisited, and _The Loved One_ a satire of Forest Lawn cemetery and American funeral practices.
As for means of reproducing print material, don’t forget the humble hectograph, which does not rely on reviving production of mimeo masters, etc.
The ballots have gone out for the California Gubernatorial recall election. Vote yes/no on recall, then if in favor of recall, choose one out of 40+ candidates ranging from a high school graduate, an entertainer, former Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, to more serious contenders. Issues include Newsome’s handling of COVID 19, lack of action on homelessness, lack of action on fire prevention, high taxes and regulation.
One thing that people in the East and Midwest sometimes forget about the West is how much of the land is in the direct control of the Federal Govt. At least one county in California is 99% National Forest. There have been allegations that the Federal bureaucrats either favor a “let it burn” strategy or simply don’t have the resources for early containment. I have read accounts of CalFire (the state fire control agency) showing up to fight a fire on federal land and being sent away only to be asked to return after the fire is out of control. Lots of room for resentment there.
@ksim (#39) wrote:
“Americans do not really have clear, regional identities like they used to have. Sure, there is still a Dixie culture going on but the strong identities of the past such as the New Englanders, the Californians, the Texans etc have been pretty blurred out due to globalisation, immigration, etc. ”
This is true only of salary-class Americans, who are required to be extremely moble by their employers. Americans of the wage class and below, in my own experience, still have very strong regional identities. And these are the majority of Americans, and thus the Americans who really matter for the future of the nation.
Similarly, Christophe Hope (#70) wrote:
“I’m not sure we will split into recognizable states, as per the map above. To me it seems like the greatest political/socail divide is rural/urban. Like veins of ore in a mine there are veins of conservative/liberal belief in many, if not all, states.”
You are quite right that most states are a mix of conservatives and liberals, but this political division hardly seems to me like the primary reason for the break-up, merely a convenient pretext, one among several that will be exploited by those who are most invested in their own regional identities.
Teresa from Hershey (#80) called everyone’s attention to Joel Garreau’s prescient The Nine Nations of North Amerca (1981), which I think gives the best broad-brush analysis of the continent’s regions. (He does not confine his analysis within the borders of any single nation.)
The wikipedia article on it gives a map showing his analysis:
There is also a later analysis along the same lines by Colin Woodard, American Nations (2012), which works from a map of eleven major regions. IMHO, Woodard has much less knowledge of the microhistories of each of his posited regions, and his map therefore is seriously flawed.
Interestingly enough the map of the major dialects of American English, prepared without any reference to either Garreau or Woodard, liones up rather werll with the nine regions of Garreau’s book. See William Labov, Shron Ash & Charles Boberg, The Atlas of North American English (2006), which, alas! has not been released online, so far as I know See however, the one-page advance summary with a map, “North American Dialects,” in the National Geographic for December, 2005, I will be uploading that page to archive.org momentarily.
When I heard that the US was leaving Afghanistan I thought it was ominous. The only way the Army would give up on one it’s greatest sources of graft is if something big was being planned elsewhere. The broad scattering of US forces is a reason why a conflict with a major power hasn’t occurred yet. I would assume that there has been withdrawals occurring in many of the lesser known conflicts in Africa as well right now.
However, the quick collapse of our puppet government in Kabul had to take our military planners by surprise, it could lead to a crisis on the frontiers: will Iraq be the next to fall?
@Teresa from Hershey (#78):
There is a similar stretch of highway around Boston, which is simultaneously a segment of three separate numbered highways. One of the three numbers is “North” and “South”; the second number, “South” and “North”; and the third number, “East” and West.” It is a single highway segment, with a single pair of directions across the land.
I don’t comment very often but read every week and learn so much. So thank you JMG once again for hosting this space. I spent the first 30 years of my life in England and the second 30 in New England. As a young man in the 70s I experienced living through various post-imperial crises – a series of difficult challenges spread out over 20 years before Britain stabilized. England lost its Empire after WWII, but didn’t really face up to it until the Suez crisis in 1956 (Potemkin on the Nile perhaps), and by the 60s there was crap hitting the fan with regularity: widespread popular rejection and disdain for the old elites, devaluation of the pound, economic weakness and crises, strikes and industrial strife, regional challenges to London rule (IRA, welsh and scots nationalism), political instability, street protests, energy crises and rolling power cuts. But the country held together through all of this, my parents raised a family of four on one income and it was actually a pretty great time to be a teenager. By the later 70s the pubs were all full of “retired colonels” holding forth about the glories of the old Empire. And then along came Thatcher, and Britain shuffled under America’s skirts for a few more decades. We of course don’t have that option in the US now.
So it’s hard to tell how it all plays out here. It seems likely that the end of this most stupid of wars in Afghanistan will be our Suez moment, when it becomes clear to all in the US that the old Imperial power really is gone, the elites are further humiliated and a rolling period of crises intensifies. But does it play out slowly as it did in Britain, or do we get bigger shocks that cause quicker changes? I’m guessing the former, but anything can happen of course, a very volatile time, happening within the broader arc of industrial civilization’s crisis. Either way I’m deepening the pantry, extending the gardens further and getting ready for trouble. At least it’s one way to relive my youth I guess.
Thank you so much for the sage warnings 10 years ago of troubles to come. They are surely coming.
You could say that the “democratic Afghanistan” was gone in a Blinken of an eye!
I don’t know if the original Potemkin villages were real or not, but I have it on good authority that the tradition is alive and well in modern day Russia (examples below), so the United States is not alone in this:
Unintentional Comedy of the Day:
In response to continued skepticism about climate change and the refusal of governments to actually do anything of substance on the issue, The New Republic, a leading mouthpiece of the liberal establishment, says “We Need Better Climate Propaganda”.
One doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but at least they are being more honest than usual. Especially since we already know nothing of substance will actually be done, except to provide politically connected grifters ranging from professional activists to corporate lobbyists with more opportunities to milk the system while passing the costs on to everyone else in the name of “saving the planet”.
pygmycory, JMG, BCV – Re: What did Japan and Germany have that Afghanistan didn’t, that they became functioning democracies after WW-2? Just off the top of my head (and corrections and clarifications invited):
1. They had visions of themselves as citizens of A COUNTRY, not as members of tribes within a territory.
2. And they had the US (and allies) on one side, and the USSR on the other; Japan was fully occupied by the US, but Germany was split between them. Limiting the influence of the USSR was important to all of us. Being a US ally has not been important to the Afghan people, and having them as an ally has not been important to the US.
3. It’s been about 80 years since WW-2 started, and the US STILL has troops quartered in Germany and Japan, though their influence has been diminishing in recent decades. We were in Afghanistan “only” 20 years.
4. Literacy: the German and Japanese people had a lot of it; the Afghan people have much less.
5. Communications: The German and Japanese people had relatively few channels for getting news, but widely available; the Afghan people (I suspect) have either the full Facebook, Youtube, Tiktox, etc. flood of news, spins, hoaxes, satire, and propaganda from all sides, or word-of-mouth at the market (for the illiterate and un-connected).
6. Resources: Germany and Japan had well-developed industries that could compete in world markets. Afghans grow poppies (and raisins, but poppies are more profitable).
All of these factors contribute to the success (or lack there-of) of the post-war countries, synergistically.
Divided States of America
I can see the United States falling apart after the 2024 elections. The inept response to COVID, the Afghan fiasco, the rising food costs, the eviction crisis that is bound to happen on Biden’s watch – he can’t extend the moratorium forever. Thousands of people hungry and without a roof over their heads. Anger and resentment build up. The only way to make things better is to elect a populist candidate who will solve the problems of the people.
And such a candidate shows up right on queue. They have a program that 80% of the nation can get behind, they run against a bland corporate flunky (the Elitist), basically a Biden 2.0. The Populist is winning in polls, during the first day of the elections they gather 90% of votes they need to become President and victory seems inevitable, except that overnight count completely changes the picture and the news channels say that the Elitist candidate won by a slim majority, they are declared President Elect. Evidence of election fraud starts to surface, most people lose all faith in the election process.
The Populist candidate is more hardcore than Trump and calls for the people to take to the streets. Angry mobs storm Washington D.C. and other major cities. The National Guard is deployed to stop them, but they are too demoralized so they stand down. The congressmen and the Elitist flee to safety. The Populist declares themselves to be the President. The country is split into two. Civil was ensues.
Now all that said I’m NOT in favor of a civil war OR a peaceful divorce for that matter. Mostly because other countries will continue to exist and some of them might want to attack and annex what’s left of the US. How is your micronation going to stop 2.6 million Chinese soldiers? It won’t.
There are other concerns too. How will the new nations of the South West region feed themselves in permanent dust bowl conditions? They won’t.
The question is – can we do anything to prevent this scenario from playing out?
@pygmycory #63, if I may:
I don’t know about Japan, but in Germany
1. some city states had republican traditions dating from the 13th or 14th century
2. the old Holy Roman Empire had a parliament and Supreme Court since the 16th century (though very inefficient)
3. some southern territorial states had constitutions and elections since Napoleon was kicked out (1815)
4. the new empire, starting in 1871, had universal male suffrage (more democratic than the UK at the time), though the government was not responsible to the parliament
5. from 1919 to 1930 there had been a brief but thorough experiment with democracy on a national level.
So when the Western Allies went about installing democracy, starting in 1946, they didn’t start on a blank slate. Characteristically, they decided to first implement local and regional governments and only in 1949 federal government.
The other side is that the two Germanys were not even theoretically sovereign until 1990, much less in practice, with hundreds of thousands of allied troops stationed everywhere. Effectively, people were bought into the idea of democracy by 40 years of economic growth, knowing all the time that any deviation from democracy would be stopped by allied troops. It seems to me that democracy did take hold over those 40 years, certainly in the West, but we will see how it does during degrowth.
If the US is lucky it may end up a backwater full of people bickering with each other.
On the other hand, events since the last election suggest it’s heading to a more authoritarian version of Nth Korea. I wouldn’t have thought so last year but underestimated what can be done with divide and rule and control of the media.
If it is really unlucky Nato and the US may have a sudden rush of blood to the head and attack Russia or China, in which case Nato countries and the US will cease to exist twenty minutes later.
Then again, the future is a vast potential and we are usually wrong about it, being limited by, I can find no word for it, our presence in a particular time and the limits that places on our perception.
thanks for that. You’re saying that the pre-existing conditions were a lot more conducive to democracy than in Afghanistan or Iraq, and that therefore putting democracy in place was easier.
That makes sense, and I can add that both countries had some experience with democratic or semi-democratic institutions for part of the interwar years. Germany had the Weimar republic for a while, and Japan had a working parliament with significant power for a while, and seemed to be heading towards a democratic style of government, before taking a hard right with the military gaining more and more power.
Related to this, a lot of post-colonial governments fell or ceased to be democracies once their countries became independent. India is a famous exception, and I’ve heard people complaining that it shouldn’t work. And insisting that the only reason it does is a love of beaurocracy and arguing on the part of the people living there. Don’t know enough about the workings of India to really have an opinion on that one, but maybe since the british had been there so long, the institutions related to democracy had come to feel like their own, and the lack of an outright war of independence helped avoid an overly-powerful military gaining control.
Hey hey JMG,
A couple of thoughts on Afghanistan and Potemkin Politics.
Who won in Afghanistan? Anyone who stayed out. -Gary Brecher
It also reminds me of Iran. 1st because Iran was the clear winner of the Iraq war in much the same way that China and Russia just won the Afghan war. 2nd because we toppled the secular, democratic government of Iraq and installed the Shah. The result was a theocratic regime that has lasted 40 years.
Also, I’ve talked to a couple of people about the government / media estimates for the Afghan government holding out vs what actually happened and no one was the least bit surprised. Also, please note, the only comments in your blog’s comments expressing surprise are by the media and the Taliban themselves.
Regarding Hagbard’s Law, it gets even more interesting when you add multiple layers. There is a serious danger for people at various levels to believe their own propaganda. It seems that Covid, the US economy, climate change, you name it, have been suffering from an overly large number of talking heads who have started believing their own propaganda. Never a good sign.
My guess for the post two weeks from now is also Limits to Growth, specifically entering a phase of continuous economic contraction, a permanent recession in much the same way the last century was one of permanent growth.
Karl, I’ll consider it at some point. At the moment I’ve got so many books on my to-read stack that it’s going to be months before I have any spare time at all.
Bridge, I ain’t arguing. My take all along was that the “terrorist camps” were a pretext.
Teresa, funny. I’ve seen it a few other places, but not too many.
Erickson, sure, if you don’t mind having an armed band blow you to smithereens to get your precious metals, or kidnap your family members and torture them, starting with the children, in order to get you to crack and hand your stash over. Learning productive skills is much more useful, and much safer.
Teresa, yep. Our managerial aristocracy has become decadent precisely because it’s arranged to shelter itself from any possibility of failure.
Bogatyr, Bagram Air Force Base was a major overseas base, and it’s been abandoned. So have a bunch of other bases. Imperial collapse? Yep.
Clarke, that seems like good advice to me.
Varun, I’m staying here as well, and doing what I can. As for what gods to invoke, why, that’s a good theme for meditation.
Teresa, based on the Libra ingress for the US (which I’ve just posted on SubscribeStar and Patreon), he’s in for more grief. Much more grief.
Drhooves, I ain’t arguing. The rush is here; if anybody wants to collapse ahead of it they’d better get a move on.
Greg, I’d love to see the 9th and 10th amendments actually enforced. As I’ve noted repeatedly, I’m not in favor of dissolution — I want to see the US reorganized as a federal republic, as it was originally intended, with each state’s people responsible for social policy within that state’s borders.
Simon, it depends on the vassal states. If they’re weak, they usually go scampering after a new imperial power to protect them. If they’re strong, they might figure out how to stand on their own feet.
Tolkienguy, thanks for this. The thing that makes me shake my head is that anyone thought it would turn out any other way.
Piglet, people outside of Texas very often make that mistake.
Chris, do you think they’ve just lost their minds and are repeating the same failed policy because they can’t stand their own powerlessness and failure, or what?
Matt, that’s an interesting parallel!
Polecat, a good lively metaphor. Thank you.
Prizm, I’ve heard from a lot of people now who sense something big on its way. Interesting…
Mots, that’s one possibility, certainly.
Rita, a fine example of Hagbard’s law at work! Everyone below the rank of major — that is, everyone who actually had boots on the ground.
Nathan, not necessarily. They may have given up their major source of graft because the wheels are falling off the US military machine.
Yupped, Britain after the Second World War would have been a permanent basket case without the US stepping in. We don’t have anybody to play the same role for us.
Ecosophian, thanks for these! Grigori Potemkin would be proud. 😉
Galen, thanks for the belly laugh. I needed that — and it may be part of my next substantive post.
Ecosophian, one scenario out of ma ny, but it’s not implausible.
David, that does need a single word label, since it’s so pervasive a factor.
Tim, trust the War Nerd to sum it up memorably!
“Chuaquin, the EU is dominated by the managerial class to an even greater extent than the US is, and the airy disregard of policy for mere realities is accordingly even more extreme. The populists at this point are one good crisis (or one good demagogue) from power.”
I’m just wondering here if you’ve read ‘Adults in the Room’ by Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek Finance minister during the early Syriza government of 2015, charged with negotiating with the EU for debt relief for greece. He gives a truly gut wrenching harrowing account of how the EU really works. In a nutshell, the EU PMC know perfectly well that their polices are a REALLY bad idea and are totally unworkable, but keep doing them anyway, because they are too committed to them to do anything else (this is what one top EU official more or less openly said to Varoufakis)
“The replacement of an ailing president with an even more unpopular vice? ”
I doubt that will happen, and if it does it will not be good for the Democrats. Why? The US Senate is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans 50/50. Kamala Harris as VP can cast the decisive vote on any issue where there is a deadlock.
However, if Biden were to leave office/be removed and Harris became president, Republicans in the 50/50 Senate might choose not to confirm her choice of new VP – and she won’t be there anymore to break the tie. Without a VP to give them that one small edge, the Democrats would be in a decidedly worse position than they are now.
When I first started blogging a wise friend said to me, “Ian, insiders know what is possible, and outsiders know what the consequences are.” So, of course, us outsiders who pay attention always knew how this would end.
Back in the twilight period between 9/11 and the Afghan invasion, someone interviewed the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan (can’t find the piece, but I remember it VERY well.)
Paraphrasing, he said, “you will invade, take the cities and we will retreat to the countryside. Eventually you will leave and we will re-take the cities.” At the time I knew he was right, and so he was.
I do get tired of being led by such stupid elites, though. This isn’t even Potemkin stuff, you just need to have read some history and understood what you read.
Ah well, this too shall end. Let us hope it ends peacefully, as you suggest. America and the world would be better off if America just peaceably split into 4 nations.
Its not a failure for the military industrial complex who made record profits from the perpetual war.
Neither would the Neo-Cons so enthusiastic in war actually care about failure. None of the Neo-cons have actually risked their lives in the field of battle like the Generals and Kings of Old.
If Bureaucrats actually died as a result of their failures at the hands of the enemy army then they will be far less likely to fail.
They get to posture because they don’t get to be killed or injured for their choices.
At least Crassus was killed when he failed his Army against the Parthians.
“There’s not even a US embassy left. Even the flag has been evacuated. This is not even Saigon. It’s more like Hitler’s bunker, May 1945!”
The US and Vietnam normalized their interstate relations in 1995, with the US today as one of the most favorably viewed countries in Vietnam. The engagements and wars of 1960’s and 1970’s are to most Vietnamese one part of a tragic civil war where the US happened to back the wrong side (America could never have sustained the efforts without some local support). Vietnam itself was at war roughly from 1945-1975. WW2 saw almost no combats as the French colonial rulers administered a care-taking government under Japanese protection until the last months of the Pacific war when the war in Europe was over. Once the French had been liberated form the Nazis in Europe, they tried to restore their colonial rule in Asia (as did the Dutch and British btw).
If history rhymes, it could suggest a favorably relationsip for the US with Afghanistan in a generation or two.
The whole Afghanistan campaign seems to be an embarrassment for the USA and their allies just like the Soviets and British embarrassed themselves before by trying to conquer this part of the world. So, this tragic ending fits the whole narrative well. I am still confused by the fact, that the Taliban recaptured the country that fast. As I am nowadays very skeptical about official narratives, I am thinking about the possibility about any deals between the USA and the Taliban, that happened behind closed doors. I have read that shortly before the USA invaded Afghanistan, the Taliban prohibited drug production in their country. Maybe now they have made a deal with the USA to still provide drugs (and resources like Lithium) but otherwise do with the country as they want.
Regarding the elites far removed from reality, I can tell you that the situation in Germany is nearly the same as in the USA, since we are aping your country since 1945. I have some distant relatives who were very successful managers (CEO level of multinational corporations). When I talked with these relatives at a family meeting, I immediately realized that they live in their own world which is totally separated from the one where most people live. They could not believe the stories from the base of the society, as they never experienced it at all. As they had contact to the highest ranks of politicians, I suppose that they live in the same separated world.
“why have Germany and Japan been successful democracies ever since? Did the people there simply decide that they wanted to be a democracy, based partly on previous experience with democracy? Did the USA do a much better job of nation-building, thereby making democracy look good? Were the previous governments so awful that they had completely discredited themselves to the point where the people were ready to go with literally any other system?”
I can only speak for Germany, as I am German. I am still trying to grasp this whole topic but my understand is that the Industrial Revolution in Europe was followed by an upheaval of the power structures. The monarchy and clergy were losing their positions of power to the bourgeoise, a new form of government with an elected parliament (Democracy) was implemented first in England. In Germany, we were lagging behind this evolution a little bit. We had the failed German revolution in 1848/1849, which resulted in a strong counterrevolution by the monarchy resulting in the founding of the Kaiserreich in 1871. The Kaiserreich and the whole aristocracy blew up due to Germany losing WW1 and the following German revolution of 1918/1919. After that the first try at democracy was set up, the Weimar republic. The Weimar republic was riddled with a lot of issues, which ultimately led to his demise by the National Socialists, the neck breaker seemed to be the economic crisis of the late 1920s. During this time, former fringe parties like the communists and fascists became strong until the fascists took over. The fascist then committed atrocious crimes during their reign and started the fateful WW2. So, I would say, it was a combination of wanting democracy and previous governments being a lot more awful with a slight nudge by the Americans in the form of denazification.
Funnily, our so called “Grundgesetz” reads a lot like the constitution of the failed German revolution of 1848/1849. So you could argue that the Germans struggled around 100 years to finally get the democracy they wanted.
Bei Dawei @8: Sources I follow, and which are usually credible, say that the agreement has been made, and that Iran is now a full member as of last week. It’s possible that they’re wrong – but even if they are, it’s only a matter of time, as you say. Roerich? Yes, fantastic artist, and a very interesting man.
JMG @115 The troops at Bagram were evacuated, as I’m sure you know. Your example of collapse has always been when large numbers of Americans are left stranded in place overseas – and 10,000+ civilians being told ‘sauve qui peut’? If the media start picking up on that, the Administration will be in deep trouble.
Hi Jon Goddard!
In my humble opinion, I expect some form of alliance between China, Russia, Brazil and Iran as the main block (Shanghai Co-operation council?) to which other nations will gravitate, e.g. South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Turkey?
EU countries may have to decide if they are going to stand with the US as it goes down or edge their bets.
I suspect Germany may decide that it is high time to get very friendly to Russia. If so, I can imagine an axial alliance that stretches from Germany to China.
A loose alliance based on trade, military and industrial co-operation. Not the useless EU that wants to regulate everything down to the size of bananas.
If the Taliban play the game of trade and non-aggression, then there will be no need to kowtow to anyone.
It could well be the very premises of a new arrangement that leaves the US and its allies in the cold. For instance India has refused to join the Belt Road Initiative and so is being by-passed by China who didn’t even bat an eyelid.
I dont want to be grandiloquent but the fall of Kabul sounds very much like the opening rounds of a new gigantic geopolitical chess game.
My guess is that during the last 10 years, preparations were afoot by China and Russia and now the show has begun.
Please enjoy the show, its going to be quite long…
If the US military can’t defeat a poorly armed ragtag guerrilla resistance in Afghanistan, I wonder how it might fare against similar adversaries in its own national territory. Though of course having a sufficiently woke military should help immensely.
If the USA breaks up, I’m afraid the Pacific seaboard, where I live, will become a vassal state of China. I think I might maybe sorta kinda prefer that didn’t happen. I see suspect Newson or his ilk would sell us to them in a heartbeat. Maybe we should apply to become part of Mexico.
Just a couple of days ago my 16-year-old said to me, “the United States isn’t a real country, it’s just a bunch of regions in a trench coat.” Most likely he was repeating something something he saw on social media, so the idea of dissolution is circulating among young people.
Now whether it arose naturally or was planted is another question. The world being how it is, I lean towards the second option, but either way the idea is getting around.
Wow. This post from Rod Dreher contains some material that’s just astonishing if true. Shouting matches between the commanding officers of British and American forces at Kabul airport. British paratroopers told to keep a close eye on the Americans in case they try to leave without warning. I can’t find any other sources to verify this but will keep looking. Anyone else able to verify the story?
John, I wonder have you read Heather Cox Richardson’s “Letters From An American”? She, like you is a student of history and is in my opinion very good.
Her post for the 18th, discusses how Afghanistan depends on foreign aid and how the West has frozen it, now that the Taliban has taken over.
“Post for August 18th, 2021
There have yet to be reports of wide spread atrocities by the Taliban, perhaps due to their desire for that critical aid. Who ever takes over for us there, China perhaps, is going to face an immediate request for aid themselves. Perhaps this will temper any rush for involvement. The humanitarian crisis on top of a refugee crisis in the region could have huge unexpected complications for the surrounding nations (Iran and Pakistan, and by extension India especially).
An afterthought on my comment #57 – I talked about how our economy runs on “debt”, but maybe someone will point out that people with spare cash also invest in “equity” (stocks) and real-estate. That doesn’t change my argument, though, because the value of a share of stock is based on the faith that the company will (sooner or later) show a profit, and the profits will (sooner or later) be distributed to the shareholders in dividends. Shareholders give up a relatively large chunk of cash today, for a stream of dividend income later. Similarly, real-estate (other than owner-occupied) is purchased with the expectation that (sooner or later) rent payment will be collected.
Without trust in future payment streams, there’s no reason to buy the assets.
I think your hypothesis, that what is going on is stacked and “accidentally ordered” incompetence instead of intentional (planned) is highly unlikely. I know you are familiar with Occam’s Razor. Have you explicitly applied that to your model, going back to the beginning of last year, and considered all the chessboard moves required to get to this exquisite level of “clown show” unfolding in such perfect order? Have you considered “Cui bono”?
Even by chance, assuming an IQ of zero as the guiding deep state intellect, look at the “ordered withdrawal” from Afghanistan. The obvious things to be withdrawn or protected include (a) soldiers (b) US citizens (c) Key Afghanis and their families (d) the embassy/ infrastructure. Could the Biden administration have done a worse job if they tried? Maybe they did try – and everything went perfect.
Now consider the full chain of geopolitical events going back at least as far as the beginning of last year, in large scope, with all the important world powers on stage. Cui bono? Who would benefit from the US, as a whole, coming across on the world stage as a complete, self-destructive basket-case, PLUS incompetent, PLUS corrupt? Make sure all that dirty laundry gets aired at the right time, of course! Consider that even the Democrats hated Kamila Harris, as they demonstrated during the primaries. But they get her anyway? And play out all the key “random” events and turning points. And stack on the key Biden-Harris actions once they got power: (a) Wide open the southern border (b) shut down US oil production (c) heavily incentivize people not to get back to work (d) let out that Covid likely DID come from China, after all, that Fauci WAS compromised, after all, and that the US likely DID both “illegally” fund the virus work and “hide” the adverse effects and deficiencies of the non-sterilizing vaccines (most of which were known as early as last September). Push the narrative of forcing people to take the vaccines anyway, and – of course – insist that their children get vaccinated too.
And then add the Afghan “withdrawal”, with cameras rolling so all the world will see, as a cherry on top, showing the US military as unable to even tie its own shoelaces.
Cui Bono? I can think of a LOTS of obvious beneficiaries, including some nation-blocks, some economic powers, etc. Consider the whole thing on a chessboard as a series of strategic moves — and then ask yourself whether deliberate chess-moves might make a lot more sense than a vast number of complex strategic moves being done, in near perfect synchrony and order, such as to cause maximal loss of face, loss of morale, and havoc.
I know you’ve read The Art of War. I’m curious why you’ve, seemingly out of hand, dismissed that as having any relevance to what’s going down? I know you’ve looked at a lot of history. So I know you know, quite well, that the Russian “communist revolution” – as one well known example – didn’t happen “by accident”; primarily because of “incompetence” by the RUSSIAN elites. Why such a simplistic view in this case?
Thank you for the link to Malcom Kyeyune’s excellent essay. (Also, anyone who can begin one of his (earlier) blog-posts with “I am a grinch” is a bit of all right. Now if only I could really read Swedish …)
David S #114 Chronolocked, or some such word might work. Meaning “The time you are living in is thought to be all that matters” Or, again, something similar
As usual, a very entertaining piece.
However, I may add that Afghanistan has a very strict dichotomy in how it views the world. On the one side is the Great Satan and Little Satan, and anyone who agrees with them. Drugs, prostitution, homosexuality, atheism, etc, are all on this side. The other side is the Taliban. Lawfulness, Islam, sobriety, virtue, etc.
Complicate things however you want, to try to make Afghanistan relevant to arguments in the States, but the Taliban is the popular movement because Satanic liberality is scary and after so many years of war, who can blame the Afghans for choosing safety? Or at least law and order.
Two things caused the puppet regime to fall. The first, was that Biden said Afghanistan wasn’t his problem. The second is the disruption in shipping that is a problem for any gangster regime that the USA tends to set up. Afghanistan is remote, and this allows the USA to get away with things that it couldn’t in a country like, say, Mexico. And you may say that shipping shouldn’t matter since Afghanistan is landlocked and how much could they possibly have shipped in or out anyway? But what little they got was absolutely vital to them, and to the people who supported the USA’s puppet regime.
We’re not going back to Afghanistan any more than we went back to Vietnam. (Though we did keep going back to Iraq, I think that was because of the oil.) We’ll have to keep having wars and puppet regimes in remote places where we can get away with things. Somalia, for example.
I don’t think Afghans were even riding the planes because they were desperate to get out of Kabul. Rather, I think some would love a free ride to the developed world, but they’re not so primitive that they don’t know how planes work. They ride the big slow planes and jump off. Sometimes they leave a coat or something on the wing that falls. Afghanistan has this amazingly playful culture, and they’ll just do things because it’s funny. Of course the mainstream media can’t admit that anyone does things because it’s funny. Everything has to be crisis, or racist, or desperation! But in real life it’s not.
I think Afghanistan will do just fine. At least as well as Kazakhstan, maybe even better than Pakistan. After all, they’re going to get a country run by bureaucratic veterans, some of whom are world travelers, governing over goat farmers who would see any improvements as nothing short of miraculous.
(As for the “women and girls” well, they’re not going to be much worse off than women and girls in Saudi Arabia, Iran, or certain places in the USA.)
<< Nobody can impose democracy on anyone else. How could they? Democracy by definition must be chosen by the people who have it.»
There is a big difference between "democracy" and "the institutions of liberal democracy", the institutions can well be created from the outside, whether or not they end up being successful is something else.
The main reason why the neocons like "the institutions of liberal democracy" could be that they are based on representative bodies with elections of representatives, and experience shows that representatives can be easily "sponsored" because they constantly need campaign funds, unlike local strongmen, who often have their own sources of funding and power base and so get uppity.
«Many of those who don’t have it don’t want it»
There is some difference between “don't want it” (in the sense of rejecting it) and "are not willing to die for it", especially if it is "managed representative democracy" that ends up representing the interests of foreign or local "sponsors" more than that of people.
I’ve worked in the Infrastructure field for the past 20 years and I can attest to your claim about the spending bills.
Also, I think there’s a typo above. You said 3 weeks but I think you meant 3 hours. 😉
To nellperkins #48 – greetings cuz! In 1683 Francis Yarnall emigrated to America aboard a ship named the Bristol Comfort. The Yarnall-Yarnells were Quakers, and were persecuted in Britain for daring to read the Bible themselves. Dana
Many thanks for the post!
After read only the title for some seconds I thought you had used the metaphor from the film “Battleship Potenkim” instead from the real Potemkin anecdote, that I didn´t know…
In any case people don`t lose their sense of humor, which is important, some of the more funny comments about the Afghanistan disaster as for example “The Dumbkirk Evacuation”, or another one that says: “At the end the Afghan people has freed themselves from a foreign regime that forces the population to cover their faces, destroys the statues, and sexually mutilates the small children”
Well, given that it is the same kleptocratic regime, and the same rotten bureaucrats, regulators and “intelligence” community that “manage” the Irak invasion (WMD), the Lybian catastrophe, the Syrian destruction, the 737 Maxx disaster, the GoF experiment pandemic, etc…you can bet how the Covid vaccines experiment will end.
“I have to quibble with the map the pollsters produced. Texas will not be part of “The South”. Texas will be Texas.”
Yes! I have spent a lot of time in Texas and worked with many Texans…You cannot take the Texas out of Texans, no matter how long they spend elsewhere, and they’re never totally happy outside Texas..My wife also has had dear friends and colleagues living in the North for decades, and she has seen all of them ultimately move back to Texas….
Great piece JMG! I just hope, for the sake of posterity, that the breakup can be relatively peaceful….Don’t think that’s very likely, however…
Hi JMG and all,
Data point for you.
Here in the UK my partner has just had a letter from her GP advising her that there is a national shortage of blood test collection bottles so her surgery will only be able to do urgent tests for ‘however long’ until more arrive. And that is also whatever urgent is defined as – doesn’t say on the letter. Guessing the bottles are plastic produced in China. This does suggest additional black swan events could well be medical – imagine if insulin supplies suddenly become intermittent for instance.
The image of the western town frontage held up with flimsy supports and no substance behind is a strong one in my imagination. One that has repeatedly come to my mind as ‘optics’ and image seem to have become more important in our culture than content and substance.
I found this on another feed…
I went and took a look at the nine nations thing, and found that it put me in ecotopia, with the capital in San Francisco.
My gut reaction was revulsion. I do not want to be part of the same thing as California, and do not want San Francisco as capital or model.
Make of this what you will…
OK, I’ve done some statistics on the secession data: the correlation between Independents and Republicans is 0.9553, with a p-value of 0.0112. The 95% confidence interval is (0.4650, 0.9971), so we can reject the null hypothesis that there is no correlation. This is consistent with, but does not prove, the hypothesis that the independents are more soured on the Democrats than they are on Republicans.
If anyone can point me in the direction of statistical techniques to better test my interpretation against godozo’s, I’d really appreciate it, but I’d really love to see which of us is correct, even if I turn out to be wrong.
I’d also like to test against the state level data. I’ve downloaded the full dataset for June, but it’ll take some work to process it.
So related to this, the Taliban just announced the creation of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan today at around noon. Running up a quick chart shows this would put the Sun conjunct the MC in Leo and Jupiter conjunct the IC in Aquarius, with Mercury and Mars conjunct in the 10th house of Virgo as the most prominent energies to my eye. I believe you mentioned that this country, given it’s islamic heritage, would know how to select a proper birth point for the new gov and I don’t think they could have done much better then this selection.
thank you for the detailed info. That jives with what I know, and adds to it. I think we can fairly conclusively say that conditions were a lot more conducive to democracy in postwar germany than in 21st century Afghanistan. There’s a large amount of history with democracy prior to conquest, plus the USA did the work to foster it. It looks like the people there decided for themselves that they wanted it, which I think is needed to make democracy last. It takes worse to keep it functioning over the long-term.
Well once more I felt like laying out and dying on the Wash. Post but then I remembered I’ll get covered in newsprint. Then I remembered I am still reading a “dead tree” publication. That cheered me up. I am in Wash. D.C. (PMC) central, and of course have a front row seat to all of this stuff. After all, it IS LOCAL news here.
After the last “what about the women?” article and “unvaccinated person regrets getting Covid” article and “wildfires a result of climate change” article, I decided that everyone has gone totally and completely passive.
No one seems to have an ounce of gumption to do anything except wave signs and moan. They seem to want someone to come rescue them from the boogey man or whatever lives under the bed in the dust bunnies. I mean shame and guilt i.e. emotional blackmail doesn’t do diddly when faced with troubles. People can sign me up for all sorts of guilt trips, I am not taking any of them. I except people to solve their own problems or be quiet.
I have a brain injury (as everyone probably knows) and I work for as much independence as possible. So why are the PMC and company being so dependent on others?
You’ve mentioned a number of times over the years that you’d expect the leadership deposing our current elites to come from outside the present structure of power. Given the communication issue you’ve outlined above, is it possible for *any* president to get an honest assessment of the situation? If we’re talking about succession via regular order, then we’re still talking about an elected official who still has to deal with the entrenched professional establishment (one of the things which bedeviled Trump). There are so many layers of bureaucracy buffering the upper echelons from the real world. If we got an earnest and honest change-agent, how might he or she go about ensuring that the information reaching him/her is good?
We’re looking forward to that day!
Thanks for the reply.
I ain’t arguing! I strongly suspect China will overplay its hand in the long run. I think India has a better chance of running a long-lasting alliance in Asia and perhaps, East Africa. I think the history of Russia and China shows that any alliance is only temporary. They had territorial fights when they were both communist!
I definitely see grand, continent-spanning empires, such as the SCO as coming to an end. Walls are going up everywhere and multi-ethnic countries are beginning to disintegrate. China is printing money as furiously as the Fed, which is a time bomb happening. They have ethnic conflicts there, too.
Anyway, we’ll see!
Re popular sentiment and our leadership
Poll results show popular expectation in line with some of the thinking here:
I find it interesting that a (very slim) majority expects Biden to not last his term.
I forgot to add that much of what has happened was predicted by Samuel Huntington’s, “The Clash of Civilizations”, written in 1996. It was a response to Fukiyama’s, “The End of History.”
Huntington was ridiculed for his ideas, if I remember correctly. I’ve always thought his ideas were very sound.
OK this is somewhat off topic, but it is quite crazy so let’s talk about Potemkin magic(k) of modern American Witches. Apparently witches on Reddit r/witchcraft are trying to organize a mass hex/curse of Taliban and some are apparently trying to hex the entire religion of Islam and ahem Allah himself. The subreddit is already swarming with trolls who love to poke these people.
Talk about privileged western people being divorced from reality! I rolled my eyes so hard I can see the insides of my skull. To me this sounds nothing much more than an attempt to virtue signal. I don’t think even they believe their magic would work, nor do they care. Its all for show, in other words its Potemkin magic(k).
Maybe you should make another post on “How not to do magic” on your other blog, JMG?
This is a good one:
Potemkin Afghanistan: Beware the phony baloney. Realize if you’re reading about Afghanistan in American English on American English media websites, you are at a remove. Priority is to be reading Afghanistan news and blogs that are written in the native Afghan language as a priority.
Kudos to the wise person who pointed out the US started 20 years in Afghanistan and Taliban, in a country without health care, should be older, rocking-chair, bent, grizzled warriors. The pictures of all the YOUNG MEN look phony baloney: were they even alive 20 years ago?
Related to this posts also, because the Covid vaccines are quite an “event”, I would like to talk about them.
When they say yes to the EUA for the Covid vaccines why they did not consider important the lessons from ALL the disatrous SARS-Cov-1 vaccines they tried in the past?; knowing the SARS is the coronavirus in humans more close to the SARS-Cov-2….This is beyond my comprehension.
Take for example this study from 2014!:
You have only to read the title to rise your eyebrows:
“Antibody-dependent SARS coronavirus infection is mediated by antibodies against spike proteins”
So ALL the vaccines in the market now are using an epitope to produce the antigens that it is known from at least 7 years that produce ADE with ALL the previous SARS vaccines with their waning immunity, and despite that the risks of ADE is the most catastrophic risk of all possibles in this “experiment”, they proceed with the EUA with the following phrase in page 52 of the EUA approval repport about this risk:
“Vaccine-enhanced disease .
Available data do not indicate a risk of vaccine-enhanced disease, and conversely suggest effectiveness against severe disease within the available follow-up period. However, risk of vaccine-enhanced disease over time, potentially associated with waning immunity, remains unknown and needs to be evaluated further in ongoing clinical trials and in observational studies that could be conducted following authorization and/or licensure.”
This document is in the web of the FDA:
Because as they know, the natural long lasting immunity is NOT based in the S-protein epitopes, but from other proteins of the virus:
They say: “That the majority of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were activated by non-S viral epitopes…”,
And very important also they say:
“Eliciting more robust antibody and CD8+ T cell responses against non-S epitopes during vaccination could be important, as there are probably non-S targets of immunity that promote the resolution of infections and that can mediate broad immunity against SARS-CoV-2 variants.”
Too late for the vaccines….
So Mother Nature use non-S epitopes to base our natural immunity with at least two (and probably many more) purposes:
a) To avoid producing antibodies prone to ADE when waning.
b) To combat variants that could scape the antibodies, because it seems that the S-protein is the part more subject to evolution (change) to adapt the host, but seems less likely with the rest of proteins.
What an amazing thing is Nature, why don’t we imitate she more?
But we had no time, we were at Warp Speeeeeed!
Meanwhile in my country they want covid-recovered people to be vaccinated after only two months from the infection, and in some region only after 1 month. They are the stupidest über-reckless of the world:
Re foolishness and magic
Hexing a god just seems like a dumb idea to me…
I spent this weekend in a weird vortex of nostalgia, remembering what X or Y was like 20 years ago when all of this started (I know, I know, it started much earlier – Noam Chomsky’s always a reliable guide to that sort of thing – but I mean *this*, the Forever Wars hitting home). One of many tiny things – there was a folkish song by Ani DiFranco called “The Arrival Gate”, and I’d gotten so used to how it has been for two decades that it took me some time to remember that once upon a time, people who weren’t getting on a flight could go to an arrival gate and wait for their loved ones.
There’s this overwhelming feeling for me of failure – complete, utter, dismal failure. From COVID to Kabul, failure upon failure. Housing bubbles, “hope and change”, “infrastructure week”, just more and more rebranded failure. Sidewalks crumble, incomes stagnate, and all we have to show for it are smartphones and embarrasingly-shaped rockets carrying gazillionaires like Jeff Bezos halfway to space (again, failing to actually get to space!). Like Michael Moore tweeted, when is the last war America actually won? 20 years, over 2 trillion dollars, countless Afghan lives, countless American casualties (fewer deaths now but more lifelong disabilities, conveniently easy to overlook statistically), and for what? For 80-90 percent of that 2 trillion ultimately flowing out of taxpayer pockets back to American companies. This culture of toxic positivity has permeated the American workplace and everything else. Tell the truth in a corporation and you’re out. It’s a consensual hallucination.
And then I realized maybe it wasn’t a failure after all. I mean, the elites got theirs, right? It was a rip-roaring success for the executives and the SES’ers and the pundits. Just like the housing crash. Just like COVID ultimately will be. And I’m sure they’re gambling that when the pitchforks finally come for them or the skies finally empty over their houses and climate change comes home, they or their kids’ll be able to board the last flight to Aotearoa/NZ or the last ship to Greenland.
And maybe they’re right.
Dear Ecosophian, If I may: I’m sorry to write that this is not the first time that the witch-contingent has made the attempt to curse the gods: I remember reading that some attempted to _assassinate_ Zeus, as well (https://krasskova.wordpress.com/2021/07/09/the-incredibly-stupid-it-buuuurrrrnnns/#comment-10262). Also I remember that some witches were working to publicly curse the Moon. So there are recent precedents for the level of stupidity you describe. In fact, it seems that much of the witch movement has become incredibly diabolical in the sense that it opposes any sort of cosmic unity whether said unity comes under the name of Zeus, the Moon, or the God of Islam.
Kudos to science-fiction writer Joe Haldeman, who gave a science-fiction novel of his the title “The Forever War”, and thereby gave us a name for what we’ve been through.
Late to the party- Wednesdays are long for me and I usually don’t get to the blog until Thursday. I always appreciate your writing and insight, JMG and I really enjoy the comments from everyone as well. I don’t comment a lot, I’m more of a reader/listener. I do feel like the Afghanistan situation is significant to us in a way that isn’t fully knowable right now. I just wanted to thank you for this blog and your body of work. Sending my best to everyone as we live through interesting times.
BB, I did indeed. That’s one of the reasons I’m convinced that the EU is going to implode messily; the only question is whether it’s going to fall apart into quarreling states or get taken over by a dictator.
Ian, I remember that as well.
Info, the game’s not over yet. Societies that fail this spectacularly quite often end up shedding their failed elites, sometimes quite messily.
Herman, especially if the US gets out of the empire business and ditches the buffoons who made this happen.
Secretface, it didn’t surprise me at all; we relied for the defense of Kabul on a make-believe army and a Potemkin government, and it imploded the moment we backed away. As for your CEO relatives, yeah, that sounds like what we have over here!
Bogatyr, well, there you have it. I suspect it’s going to get very ugly as things proceed.
Kevin, I’m quite sure there are people with guns thinking exactly those thoughts right now.
Industrial Alchemy, funny. Thanks for the data point.
Bogatyr, I haven’t, but it seems plausible to me.
David, no, I haven’t. I’ll put it on the get-to list.
Gnat, one of the reasons I roll my eyes when people bring up this kind of conspiracy theory is that no matter what happens, people like you will find some way to spin it so that it’s all a sinister plot on the part of whoever you don’t like. I’ve already seen similar theories blaming it all on (a) the Chinese, (b) the Russians, and (c) the Pakistanis — all using the same sort of rhetoric you’re using here. (Any day now, I expect to see someone blame it on the Jews.) As I see it, this sort of thinking is an attempt to defend a fantasy of human agency in the face of a universe that does what it wants — if every historical event is the result of some omnipotent group of people planning it, then it’s possible to keep on pretending that the world does what human beings tell it to do, and to avoid dealing with the terrifying reality, which is that the world is governed by chance and impersonal forces, and most human events weren’t planned by anyone.
As for the Russian Revolution, that’s a fine example of what I’m talking about. If not for the immense incompetence and military bungling of the Tsarist regime, no revolution would have happened; if not for the even greater incompetence of the Kerensky regime, Lenin would have been shot or driven back into exile sometime in 1918 and the Russian Republic would have gone through its own set of changes thereafter. In Russia in 1917, just as in Afghanistan in 2021, there were plenty of contending forces and parties, all seeking their own advantage in a turbulent situation, and many of them were “conspiracies” in the accurate sense of the word; one happened to end up on top when the dust settled — but the stunning ineptitude of the existing regime, and assorted blunders on the part of various groups and people, were far more important in how things turned out than any one group’s malevolent plotting.
Robert M., you’re most welcome. His essays generally are worth savoring.
Womensatlasrc, I think you’re oversimplifying the matter more than a little.
Robert C., of course you can impose Potemkin institutions — as we’ve just seen. Actual democracy? A lot harder.
Blue Sun, I was being generous. 😉
DFC, “Dumbkirk” is a keeper. Yeah, I’m concerned that the War on Covid will end the same way as the war in Afghanistan…
Pyrrhus, that’s one of the reasons why I’ve made a point of letting people know that there’s a peaceful way to do it.
Jay Pine, that same image has been very much in my mind. Do you recall the fake town in Blazing Saddles?
Marlena13, this reads to me like an insider insisting that everything was fine until somebody else (in her case, the Pakistanis) messed things up. At least she admits the corruption…
Slithy Toves, thanks for this.
Tamanaous, thanks for this. I’ll be casting and delineating the chart; it’s a fine example of a foundation chart and should make a good test case.
Neptunesdolphins, that’s fascinating — thanks for the data points. Decadent, failing elites quite often go totally passive right before they get swept aside…
David BTL, it’s going to require someone who comes to power with a strong mandate and enough backing from Congress to cashier a lot of career bureaucrats, abolish their power centers, and establish a new framework for information collection and government action. FDR did it, so it’s not impossible, but it would take that. Thanks for the poll — my latest ingress suggests the same thing, for whatever that’s worth.
Ecosophian, oh dear gods. I thought we’d seen the ultimate plunge into stupidity and fecklessness on the part of the dying Neopagan scene, and now this…
Jenxyz, er, has it occurred to you that young men may have joined them since then? You know, during the twenty years of fighting against the corrupt regime we imposed on their country?
PM, I doubt they’re right. Again, history has quite a few lessons to teach about this.
Paradoctor, now there’s a blast from the past!
Wendy, you’re most welcome.
DFC (offlist), I’ve got an open post on my Dreamwidth journal for discussion of the vaccine mess. Please keep it there, not here.
Am I wrong to perceive our culture as being uptight about sex? The reason I ask is because there seems to be a tie-in with sociopolitical explosions and built-up sexual repression. The current round of world lockdowns seems to be an overreaction to the licentiousness and hook up culture that preceded it. One of our fellow Ecosophians alerted me to some extremely strange practices among the COVID paranoid: socially distanced sex. Meaning, having “sex” via mutual masturbation or through a wall or glory hole.
To JMG and his fellow historian-Ecosophians: Were people ever this paranoid and overdramatic about sensuality, sex, and physical touch in other eras? Do you suppose the buildup of sexual repression in the Victorian era had anything to do with WWI?
‘Jay Pine, that same image has been very much in my mind. Do you recall the fake town in Blazing Saddles?’
More beans Mr Greer? 🙂
Always-industrious Archdruid, I know you don’t do video, and perhaps you have not yet seen a transcript of an interview done with “The Joe Biden” yesterday on the Afghanistan situation, so here it is:
The transcription is a good one, with all verbal tics and flaws that were in the interview.
A transcript of the “Joe Biden” teleprompter address about the Afghan situation on Monday may be available too, but the main thing I and my wife extracted from watching that earlier event was the stark pacing difference between the beginning and the end of the address: by the end (only about 20 minutes) the “Joe Biden” was noticeably slower in diction and obviously struggling to make out and articulate what was on the teleprompter he was reading from. The entire thing was, in an understated way, quite spooky. A Potemkin Village in a suit…
“It might be a good idea to make sure your cupboards are well stocked with food and other necessities, and that you’re prepared to weather periods from weeks to months in length when local stores will have a lot of bare shelves and the other details of what used to pass for ordinary life will be disrupted.”
Well I tend to always have a lot of food in my cupboards anyway, (Taurus here!) but can you explain why we might have food shortages? People stockpiling or people getting sick or dying and therefore not able to harvest and process the food? The Global supply chain breaking down? All of the above?
@ Chris at Fernglade #97.
Has the Australian government thought about how they’re going to quarantine all their people fleeing Afghanistan for Covid-19? I doubt if that region vaccinates many people so the foreign population is more exposed.
If they aren’t handling “normal” travelers, screening for Covid, well, an exodus from Afghanistan will be a real challenge.
To what degree does the abandonment of Afghanistan begin, in earnest, the process by which the National Security complex brings the War on Terror home–rebranding it as something like the “War on Domestic Extremism” to target their domestic political opposition, chiefly (though not solely) composed of right-wing, conservative Americans? All those annual dollars that had formerly been committed to Afghanistan surely won’t dry up, and must go to a new enemy?
pygmycory – Japan
The success and failures of modern Japan fall squarely on the Liberal Democratic Party. It was two conservative parties that was forced into a shotgun marriage by the business elite in Japan. Its first leaders were supported by the CIA and had connections to the previous administrations including the disastrous Tojo administration. They have been able to neutralize nationalism within its own ranks with pragmatic business administration.
Because they held a steady if unexciting course and many of its best have a steady connection to local communities they are entrenched in power for the most part.
JMG and Gnat about conspiracies.
I agree with JMG that most people prefer order and assign human agency to all historical events. I wonder is this is specific to some religious sensibilities (like christianity) that prefers a single source of control (God) despite all the contradictions that result (the problem of evil etc).
For me though last year proved that the consensual reality that societies create can be manipulated to an incredible extent. Just see how easy is to convince people to let go of all their freedoms and even risk their health. So I accept the possibility of large scale conspiracies but I also accept that “they” (whoever they are) are not superhumans ( weird thought here – most antisemites really do seem to believe that jewish people are supermans and can control everything which is a very interesting inversion of the nazi philosophy).
And that is why to me this Afghan fiasco is quite liberating – not even the MIC or the PMCs can make money out of this so I am quite sure it is not a conspiracy. So they are not only human but also surprisingly stupid, isn’t that good news?
Hi, JMG and others!
1. That is one example of a secessionist movement in the US: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKUAkgj2-Kg
“These Oregonians Would Rather Join Idaho Than Be in a Liberal State”
2. John, do you like to eat mushrooms and if so, do you go mushroom hunting yourself?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boletus_edulis That, for example, is a highly valued edible species, Italians especially love them.
Garreau’s analysis is very broad-brush. A finer analysis would have recognized, for example, that there are at least five regionally distinct Californias, none of which think very highly of the others.
There are at least four Massachusettses, three Rhode Islands, several distinct Connecticuts, and the Northern Tier of New Englang (Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine) has maybe as many as ten distinct regions. But just as most polities represent the triumph of history over revulsion, so do each of Garreau’s regions.
The salary class, as a whole, is almost completely oblivious of these local nuances, as they are of nearly everything of real historical importance. (There are exceptions–there always are–and Garreau, though a salary-man, noticed more than most.)
Yet, even so, his larger regions have significant shared elements in theirr histories which makes his analysis useful.
On money and Afghanistan – have not analyzed, am just passing this on. Includes discussions of refugees, the effect on other nations, and what Russia is likely to do or not.
@JMG If what I wrote is so simple, how come nobody else can see it? It’s like a joke I have to keep to myself. Listening to one expert on CSPAN talk about how the Taliban might go to war with Iran, thus cancelling out two of the USA’s enemies was particularly hilarious. Talk about delusions and wishful thinking!
(The Potempkin village in all this, I fail to see. Though Hagbard’s Law is there in plenty.)
Meanwhile the UK Parliament just had a special meeting on Afghanistan so they could “it’s complicated!” their way into sending more aide into the rathole. Really, they know that there are lots of resources in Afghanistan that the world “needs” and when Afghanistan is as rich as Saudi Arabia, they’ll put down in their history books that they uplifted the ungrateful savages. Again. The UK loves that story. When they’re feeling good about themselves they tell it all the time.
It doesn’t really matter though, does it? It’s as remote as Xinjiang, China. There’s no voting on what happens to it. Not by Estonia in the United Nations, not by the U.S. Congress. Interventionism takes it in the teeth again, because interventionism is just another form of colonialism, and once those locals start to conspire together it’s all over. Well, except for trying to pay off the “savages” with more aid money, and checks in the mail for that!
The language de-humanizing Afghans who happen to support the Taliban is a bit sad but predictable. Talk about “a terrorist breeding-ground.” Seriously! As though terrorists can’t just get trained anywhere that doesn’t mind a little dynamite going off. Now that so many people have the internet, I question whether “advanced torture techniques” are all that advanced at all, once SafeSearch is turned off on the search engine. Humans have been hurting each other for centuries, so why would the ivy-league educated CIA agents think they’d have anything over anyone in central Asia? They think they’re better at getting their victims to tell the truth, or better at keeping them alive? Ha!
Next couple of decades, citizens of the USA are going to get to see a lot of history that isn’t taught in schools, spread out on the line, flapping in the wind. (As in, dirty laundry.)
@ gnat # 133
Never assume conspiracy when you can assume incompetence, willful blindness, and sheer cussedness (i.e. you can’t tell me what to do even when it’s for my benefit).
Coincidences do happen.
Sometimes the holes on 100 slices of swiss cheese really do line up.
Even if only most of the holes line up, swiss cheese is still not lead. It is permeable.
When I was in the Navy, I worked behind locked doors at two facilities: CincPacFlt and OpTEVFor. The debriefs were very thorough so I don’t remember much but I do remember this, augmented by experiences at my last command at a MEPS (a joint, unclassified command that processes young men and women and ships them off to boot camp).
“They” are not that smart. “They” really are not. “They” tread water with the best of them.
As a writer, I think about story all the time. We see story in action in books, tv shows, video games, movies, and so forth. No one is ever as all-seeing, competent, foresighted, and aggressively physically fit in real life as they are in a book or a movie.
If we are to listen to Peter Turchin or Peter Zeihan, establishing a functional state in Afghanistan was a nigh-impossible task, especially as an occupying power with no ideology to bind the people together. (At least the Soviets exported communism which some locals would be willing to die for).
JMG’s point about our elites being surrounded by “yes-men” and corporate lobbyists to the point that they can’t actually see reality seems about right, sadly.
I used to be really into “figuring out” how the world worked, but as it seems more and more pessimistic, and looking at how little control we have as individuals or even collectives, I sometimes find it hard to stave off individualistic “Depressive Hedonia.”
“If nothing I do matters, why not just live for oneself? Oh, it turns out that fulfilling one’s own happiness is most efficiently fulfilled with addictions!” Bad cycle to be in. Even if I focus on the other people in my life (spouse, parents, work colleagues, fellow citizens), fulfilling their desires seems to put me into that “slave mentality” state illustrated by that Tarot Card “The Devil.” Loose chains, but worn hypnotically, so as to be able to call yourself a “good person.” All the time resentful at all the unequal exchanges taking place.
What seems to help break the hypnosis the most right now is this (admittedly neoliberal) philosophy of “earning to give” . I think the basic aspect is we need something outside of ourselves to work towards. That cliche “Think Global, Act Local” mantra.
I used to think I would be a collector of knowledge and wisdom, as JMG has done, and let that be my contribution to the world (as I complete my doctorate). But as I get older, I see how in the end, many thinkers are just “pundits” and “brands” jockeying for eyeballs and status. While teaching and original research is engaging, I am looking forward to switching back to being an engineer for now. Fix the things in front of me. Gain practical knowledge. If I build up some wealth, support my community and those “pundits” who echo my views. If the world is slowly falling apart, better (for me) to be a fixer/builder than a teacher or researcher under the thumb of the Cathedral.
Admittedly, the image of those earnest, down-to-earth, but strained small-town professors presented in Shoggoth Concerto did give me a glint of hope about a quiet life of teaching and research. In my experience, it does seem that college profs from lower-ranked schools seem more in touch with reality, care more about students, and are happier overall than the neurotic high-ranked profs caught up in the status game.
P.S. Forgive the confessional style. Too much isolation here with COVID. Need to get sh*t off my chest. Not much about Afghanistan, but a reflection on where this big-picture thinking takes me. Thanks.
The media here isn’t talking much, if at all, about US citizens getting left behind in Afghanistan. What we’ve been hearing about is Afghanis who were former interpreters etc., getting left behind. does speak to a higher level of disaster than I’d realized.
@ Neptune’s Dolphins #149
Maybe our PMC behave this way because they’ve never had to do the hard work themselves?
I vividly recall going to school functions with our kids (the youngest is 21) and seeing projects from elementary school to high school which were obviously the work of the parents. My sister says the same thing happened at the very good school her son attended. His project looked amateurish compared to the professional work surrounding it. Of course, like my kids, he did the work himself.
I’ve read far too many anecdotes about high-powered parents writing their kids’ COLLEGE papers.
Since this level of helicopter parenting has gone on for over a decade or more, perhaps we’re now seeing the results.
I forgot to post these:
Afghanistan topographic map:
Alpide belt is at its narrowest in Afghanistan, so it holds a potential land trade route between Indian subcontinent and Central Asia (and Russia and Western Europe). I suppose India and Russia would like the corridor be open, and why it wont be in Pakistans interests as well. Now India-Russia trade has to be done by ship via Suez Canal either to the Black Sea ports or port of St Petersburg and vice versa.
@ Nico re: Depressive Hedonia
The best remedy I have found so far is the satisfaction that comes from building a useful, beautiful, functional thing with my own two hands, and from midwifing new life into this world. But then I’m a farmer, your mileage may vary.
Kimberly, it happens quite often, especially but not only in the western world. With regard to the First World War, however, remember that Victorian sexual morality collapsed pretty thoroughly in the Edwardian period.
Jay Pine, why do I hear “The Blue Danube” in the background? 😉
Bryan, thanks for this. Biden’s definitely coming unglued.
Bridge, normally during times of serious political unrest, food supplies become unreliable for a variety of reasons — supply chain interruptions, currency problems, general strikes, employees fleeing for places perceived to be safer, etc., etc. Since that happens so often, I figured it was wise to suggest people take steps to deal with it.
Balowulf, that’s a good question. They might attempt that — in which case the same thing is likely to happen here as there…
NomadicBeer, I see the blind acceptance of medical authoritarianism in today’s America as the logical outgrowth of the abandonment of pro forma dissidence I discussed in an earlier post here. Now that the system is visibly destabilizing, members of the comfortable classes are dumping all the forms of mild and harmless dissidence they once embraced and pledging total mindless loyalty to the corporate regime, with the vaccine as one of the symbols of loyalty being most heavily promoted just now. As I noted at the time:
“What we’re witnessing is thus the opening round of a sharp redefinition of what counts as acceptable behavior for the privileged classes in American society. If this keeps up in the years immediately ahead, and I expect it to do so, the whole range of popular spirituality and alternative culture that played so large role in the lives of the well-to-do from the late 1960s to the late 2010s will be condemned, and those who participate in any of those things will get to choose between their commitment to Buddhism or yoga or what have you, on the one hand, and their social status and high-end employment on the other. I’m sure I don’t have to tell my readers which way I expect most of those frogs to hop.”
Sim, no, I’m not much of a mushroom eater, but thank you anyway.
Patricia M, thanks for this.
Womensatlasrc, if you find it useful, by all means. It still seems overly simplistic to me.
Nico, Stoicism is a good antidote to depressive hedonia.
Looks like Bunker Boy has gone back into hiding, just like he did during the 2020 campaign. Doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, does it?
JMG re: your response to NomadicBeer,
One data point: the flight from Buddhism has apparently already started. According to David Chapman, what he calls “Western consensus Buddhism” (essentially a combination of mindlessness meditation and Buddhist-flavored virtue signalling) is well into collapse at this point. There’s a growing disillusionment with existing traditions and institutions, and people’s reports of experiencing meditation-induced dissociation or psychosis are getting harder to ignore.
In my recent reading-up on Buddhism, I’ve seen another factor: what looks like an uptick in interest in Pure Land Buddhism, the most popular form in Asia and one of the hardest to reconcile with secular materialism. (Also, Japanese Pure Land traditions tend not to emphasize meditation; the Chinese traditions encourage, but don’t require, mixing in Chan practices.) If that trend turns out to be real and picks up, secular Buddhism may find itself shunned as a gateway drug to “woo.”
Do you think the military troops were withdrawn so they could be used to impose more restrictions in the U.S. in regards to vaccination status?
It feels like if they thought it would punish Trump supporters they would do it in a heartbeat.
Relevant to the Yanis Varoufakis book mentioned above (great book btw – one of the key books, along with JMG’s writings about Trump) that changed me from a Remain voter to a Brexit supporter a couple of years later), there is a informal private meeting he describes early on with Larry Summers, which is very interesting. Summers tells him (I’m completely paraphrasing, the scene in the book was much more insightful) something along the lines of “You can choose to be an insider and have all the prestige and power and know what’s going on and all the perks, but not be able to change anything or speak your mind,or you can be an outsider, forever excluded from the circles of power and influence but have all the freedom you want to say anything and do anything”
“If what I wrote is so simple, how come nobody else can see it?”
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” — Upton Sinclair
“There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.” — Thomas A. Edison
Most people absolutely hate, hate, hate being asked to think new thoughts, and they particularly hate being asked to come to new undertstandings.
Grumpy Old Curmudgeon
More coming out, this time from the British government, on just how badly Bunker Boy Biden botched the pullout from Afghanistan while failing to keep anyone else in the loop, including our nation’s oldest and closest ally.
Skimming the recent comments, here are two excellent articles about Afghanistan’s relationship with its neighbours. Both are from sources I regard as excellent.
The Taliban Will Govern Afghanistan. What Does the Future Hold for China and the Central Asian Region?
China, Russia are stage-managing the Taliban
Jay Pine @143: funnily enough, I was in Boots yesterday and overheard a pharmacist telling an elderly gentleman that his prescription medicine hadn’t arrived, because of “problems”.
Apparently, the Taliban are completely up to speed with the 21st century (being more out of touch with social media than the Taliban are, I had to look up the Joe Biden / ice cream meme).
Do you know of a good, relatively unbiased source of statistics on severe/fatal reactions to the COVID vaccines?
My suspicion is that the mRNA vaccines are simultaneously more dangerous than other vaccines by about two orders of magnitude (ballpark 1/10000 disability+fataility rate against 1/1000000 for normal vaccine), but also safer than actually getting COVID by about two orders of magnitude while reducing the odds of death if infected by about one (ballpark 1/100 fatality rate unvaccinated against Delta variant, 1/1000 if vaccinated). If my crude guesstimates are right, it’s a better idea to get vaccinated than not despite the fact that it’s a riskier vaccine than usual.
With that sort of crude reasoning, I went ahead and got vaccinated. But I’d love to have actual data to see if my hunch is correct, and I’m entirely open to the idea that it might be a better idea not to get vaccinated. My attempts to search for true numbers haven’t yet gotten past the misinformation smokescreen so I’d be grateful if you know of anything.
Writing here from the country whence the term “potemkin village” came. Interestingly, the term seems to have much more broad usage in figurative speech in English than in Russian, which has simpler and more colloquial ways of describing this entirely common situation.
Many readers of this blog are probably famiiar with the work of Dmitry Orlov, who has been quite presicent in comparing the impending collape of the US with the collape of the Soviet Union. Dmitry lived for a long time in the US but has since returned to Russia. On that note, I recently had occasion to be in the office for migration of the Department of Internal Affairs in Moscow. I had a nice chat with a lady who processes paperwork there. She told me there has been a noticeable uptick in Russians returning to Russia from the US. I don’t know if that means a net inflow or not, so it could be misleading, but I thought it an interesting data point. I have not been to the US in several years, but based on what I can tell about what’s going on there, I am awfully glad to be here and not there.
One thing I have been thinking about is the nature of the ruling elite. Through most of human history the elite of a society has been some sort of patrician class with identities shaped by blood, land, ancestry, religion, etc. Among other things, this made the ruling elite readily identifiable. I suppose one of the reasons these people might be so invested in the perpetuity of their status was that they would be clearly identified as members of a priviledged class in the event of some sort of upheaval.
But who exactly constitutes the American ruling class? Do they have any sort of markers beyond their adopted values and behavior? Can’t anyone join as long as they are willing to toe the line? Although it seems that the prevailing narrative still tries to pin elite status on the old-guard “wasps,” these folks are no longer running the show as a class (although there are many individual members of this cohort in the new ruling class).
Isn’t it quite unusual to have a ruling class that doesn’t really have roots in a traditional patrician class –but yet is so uniform in its application of privilege? But in this sense the US ruling class is similar to that of the USSR in its twilight, which was also a rather patchwork group who had managed to climb up through the Party bureaucracy. And I think this proved to be a real weakness (from the standpoint of keeping the system going). As soon as it became clear that the USSR was doomed, much of the ruling class casually shrugged off its ideology and mannerisms and dissolved into the maelstrom of the nascent new society. Many of them changed their stripes, tapped their connections in lucrative privatization deals and reemerged among the new elite of the 1990s. But at the very least they avoided the type of retribution often suffered by a deposed elite. This can be contrasted vividly with the revolution in 1917 when it was much more difficult for the Russian aristocracy — a true patrician class — to become factory workers overnight. And of course many of them were entirely opposed to the revolution on moral grounds and were willing to die rather than accept the revolution.
Won’t the American ruling elite dissipate quickly, given that these people aren’t united by anything substantial? Much as the Soviet apparatchiks proved completely unwilling to put it all on the line for the moribund system that they served when it became clear that the ship was running aground, won’t the disparate American ruling class scatter like leaves rather than come together under some ancient coat of arms to make a last stand?
I would guess that about now ( Kabul Exit debacle) that Joe and his Democratic handlers wished they had not sandbagged Tulsi in the primaries and had choosen her as the VP, instead of the current female version of Dan Quayle. I think the administration would be in better shape today if the V.P. (Tulsi) had been on the tarmac in Kabul pulling the scared Americans aboard the helicopters instead of hiding in a bunker like our current leaders. But as you predicted this will all work toward making Tulsi an even more powerfull candidate in 2024.
I would not count on China being a hegemon for very long. They have a population crisis brewing of unimaginable proportions.
At current fertility rates and three child policy or not, they seem to be getting worse, within fifty years China is expected to lose up to half its population without fixing the inverted population pyramid. Going from 1200 million to 600 million should slow the decline some. . Also they have serious environmental issues.
Worse if that doesn’t fix in maybe a hundred years they will drop to 300 million what it was around 1799. That should be sustainable at least.
Now near future USA won’t be divided on political grounds alone, there will be serious ethnic conflict and social conflict as starting in little as a decade folks in Western states start heading east as they have no water.
A few areas will survive, New Mexico seems to have some rain and may get more and it has population decline as well but the rest of the west, anything to the West of Eastern Colorado is toast.
This is a a heavily armed population with a different ethnic mix and entirely different cultural ideology pushing into more fertile lands while the Imperial state is unable to respond, The Westerners are essentially Visigoths or the like.
@Robert Mathieson, re: #105
I think I agree with Ksim, #39. America is divided by ideology. I don’t think there is a strong sense of regional identity except perhaps for the former Confederate states. In reference to the map in the body of the essay, I don’t see why, for example, MI and NE would share a sense of regional identity. They are both in the “Midwest”, but one is the greaat lakes whereas the other is the great plains. Their voting patterns are quite different. I don’t see why they’d seek to be partners in a new “more perfect” union.
Once the splitting starts where does it stop? Doesn’t it become the default way of dealing with serious disagreement?
Galen, well, if they leave him in the public eye, that doesn’t inspire confidence either…
Slithy Toves, oh thank the gods. “Western Buddhism” was a misbegotten mongrel in the first place, and the sooner it gets put out of our misery and replaced by the real thing, the better. Due to my background, I’m rather more interested in the esoteric sects — Shingon and Tendai, for example — but anything’s better than the pastiche of cheap atheism and empty pseudomeditation that’s been marketed so heavily in recent years; if Pure Land traditions take off here, I won’t be weeping.
Denis, no, I think the troops were withdrawn because the wheels are falling off the US military machine. Look at how few of our military aircraft are ready to fly just now — that can be found quite readily online. It’s a frighteningly low figure.
Dynamic, now you know why I stayed out here on the fringes.
Galen, well, it’s nice to know that Parliament realizes what we’ve got in the White House.
Bogatyr, thanks for these.
Cloven, I’ve been thinking of Dmitry’s work a lot of late — his work on the impending collapse of the US remains top-notch. If I weren’t American born and bred, I’d consider going back home, but this is my home, and that counts for something, you know. As for what constitutes the US ruling elite, it’s exactly parallel to the Soviet elite; instead of climbing through the Party, our elite climbed through elite universities and corporate hierarchies, but it amounts to the same thing.
Clay, Gabbard’s really the only hope the Democrats have left at this point. If the party apparatchiks force through another time-serving duffer, they’re going to be creamed.
Simon, the rest of the world is also facing steady population contraction in the years ahead — and since population is a source of costs as well as advantages, a contracting population is not that severe of a problem. Europe’s had contracting population for more than a century now…
Grebulocities (offlist), as I just said to someone else, I have an open post on my Dreamwidth journal for discussion of the vaccine situation. Please take it there. (And I won’t comment about this again — I’ll just delete attempted comments.)
@ JMG – In your fine essay you mentioned, “… US intelligence (sic) community …”. Saw the “(sic)”. Certainly brings to mind the the classic oxymoron “military intelligence”. Ha! Mission accomplished – so, who benefits?
Am I the only one who finds it strange that MSM is getting even more shrill about COVID and downplaying recent events in Afghanistan – which they cannot ignore so they have to cover it in the usual US-centric way?
@ Jon Goddard (August 18, 7:33 pm) – You asked “Do you expect the Taliban to kowtow to Beijing?” I believe they are aware of Beijing’s treatment of the Uyghurs. Could get interesting.
Cloven (and others) — Orlov and Kunstler just had an audio chat. The file is at Kunstler’s site https://kunstler.com/podcast/kunstlercast-348-revisiting-reinventing-collapse-with-dmitry-orlov/
It’s a good listen
It’s good to see a quote from Robert Anton Wilson. I remember a similar law from him: the SNAFU Principle, which states that communication cannot cross a power gap. Same idea, differently phrased.
You may want to tell the boss what he needs to hear, but you need to tell the boss what he wants to hear.
All of the Anglo world will be affected by what happens to America now. I mean, the UK, Canada, Australia and to a lesser extent Ireland. We together have formed the foundation stone for an order and civilization which has lasted hundreds of years, even if the distribution and center of it’s power base has varied somewhat over the centuries.
I have been hearing a rant this morning by a friend in the UK. A lot of people feel let down by the manner in which the USA has dealt with its allies. Expected phone calls were not made and there was a lack of communication, and even spats on the ground between American and British troops at Kabul in the last few days, from what I hear, due to the lack of cooperation from the Americans with regard to security of the remaining British civilians and contractors. There is much political turmoil going on as a result now in the UK, with people trying to find scapegoats for some of the more glaring perceived miscarriages of justice .
Just as reminder, there was blood and money spent by the UK in a war the British public overwhelmingly did not want, in support of America after 9/11, and revenge terrorism attacks at home in the UK mainland too, in which many lost their lives – and now the lack of even basic courtesies from the American governing class (let alone consideration for British lives) here now at the end, is not going down well in my old homeland.
I do not think it is just pique either I am seeing, but also shock and fear, because there was a comfortable perception about the dependability of America, held even there in the UK, which has just been shattered by this turn of events. I am somewhat in shock myself – truth be told. I am trying, (and failing) to visualize the new world order which appears to be on the horizon. I can’t help but think, actually, that the word “order” is not going to be very applicable to the coming decades.
Great insights and analogies JMG!
FWIW – Americans do not, on average, have the balls to break up the country. Safer just to let the Ship of State take on water and, hopefully, settle down in a shallow area. Besides, the real question is “What do the financial elites want?” Our opinions (if we have any that were not transplanted from the MSM) don’t much matter.
The playbook seems call for the use Covid and Climate Change as the drivers of a new reality where poverty is good and ignorance is bliss. As mentioned before, the elites will continue their orgy is excess consumption made all the sweeter by the contrast with the newly impoverished masses. Sociopaths are funny that way.
Again FWIW – climate change is happening but the firm link between CO2 generated by civilization and global warming is far from confirmed. Just because 9 out of 10 scientists whose take-home paycheck is dependent on government and university grants say so does not make it so. JMG’s analogy with the Potemkin Village and the distortion in communications between the powerful (i.e. rich) and those dependent of the largess of the rich (professionals including scientists) comes to mind.
Solar physicists have their own theories about climate cycles. Data on past warming events suggest that CO2 may be a lagging indicator. There goes my credibility at this website:)
The foregoing is not to say that the world will not deplete liquid and gaseous fossil fuels. That is a certainty. Transitions to other sources of energy are inevitable. I prefer nuclear power using a closed fuel cycle supplemented by hydropower but that is just me. It could be anything except fusion.
Regarding the Taliban, astute observers noted that the Taliban have already established links with Russian, China, Iran and Pakistan. The Tabiban values mentioned in their press conference were likely vetted by their new friends. I have a lot of confidence that the Taliban will be no worse and likely better than the typical Mid-East nation. One loss to the US not widely mentioned is the Taliban’s committment to end the flourishing opium/heroin business. This will hit the CIA where it hurts all the way to Langley.
Say what you will, you and your wife/sister/daughter will be much safer walking down a street at night in most Middle East countries than anywhere in the US. There is a genuine openness, friendliness to strangers and brotherhood in those countries. Western communities tend, by comparison, to be harsh, paranoid and fear-based; not everywhere but more often than not form my experience.
good point on China. Much of the current fear of China’s “rise” simply ignores certain geopolitical and economic realities.
1) China goofed big-time with the One-Child Policy. They will NOT be able to sustain their elderly population over the long-term. Their birth rates are nowhere near replacement.
2) China is an export-based economy. U.S companies have been leaving since 2008, and that went into overdrive last year. We don’t need to make junk there anymore, and we don’t need to buy it from them. We can make it cheaper in other places. Long story short: China can’t continue to manufacture cheap goods because they can’t sell all that excess inventory to themselves because aging populations don’t buy iPhones (see above)
3) By all metrics, China is still a third-world country. Only a very small minority of Chinese living in the coastal cities have benefited from the last 30 years of “growth”. The majority of the country lives below the poverty level. China’s so-called “growth” has been completely debt-fueled (as has ours, but I digress…). They have some of the highest debt-levels of any country in history. Those of you who have any background in finance might know that the yuan has very little hope of ever being a reserve currency.
4) For all of the rhetoric about how China is developing such an awesome navy, here are a few things to consider: China hasn’t fought a naval battle in over a hundred years, and they lost the last one. China has only two aircraft carriers, and both of them used to be casinos. China is not a seafaring nation. In an all out naval battle with Japan, my money’s on Japan since they are a seafaring nation, have a solid navy, and came pretty damn close to defeating the US navy once before. In a battle between China and the U.S, Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Australia, India, and the UK…. well, let’s just say it wouldn’t end well for them. Yes, we could talk about how the U.S has left Afghanistan with its tail between its legs, but keep in mind that was a ground war in a region that NO EMPIRE IN HISTORY HAS EVER SUCCESSFULLY CONQUERED. The Pacific theater is a different animal entirely. Fun fact: in terms of sheer fire power, the entire world’s combined navies could go up against two U.S super-carriers , and it would be over in 6 hours. The U.S navy is the single most dangerous fighting force in the history of the planet. This is not “The Myth of Progress”. This is just a fact. It doesn’t mean we are not a declining civilization. It just means you don’t want to mess with the United States Navy. If China wants to take their chances now that the Taliban are back in power, they can be my guest. I’ll pass. Do I believe that everything will be fine because “we’re America, and we always bounce back! Yay!”? No. It just means that our navy has some major fire power.
5) China doesn’t have enough farmland or water to sustain their (declining) population. They have a big country, but little arable land. Half of the country will probably starve to death in the next decade.
6) China has very little oil. Most of what they get comes from the Middle East. With the U.S pulling out of the Middle East it means the Sunnis and Shiites (read Saudi Royal Family and Iran) will be so busy trying to blow each other off the map that trying to get oil tankers out of the Gulf will be like trying to get tickets to see the Beatles perform live (hint: it’s not going to happen). Which brings me to the next point:
7) IF that oil makes it out of the Gulf, it has to make it past India (in case you hadn’t noticed, they’re not too friendly with China right now), the pirate-infested Indian Ocean, through the Straight of Malacca (the busiest sea lane in the world. It’s why Singapore is a thing), then past the disputed South China sea. Without the U.S patrolling these shipping lanes as they have for the past 80 years, China is going to have to do it themselves. I don’t see that happening. No oil, no China.
8) The only reason countries like China have seen such rapid economic growth over the last 30 years is because the U.S was the de-facto world empire once the Berlin Wall came down. Their growth has been directly tied to the fact that it was U.S hegemony that made globalization possible. Now that the U.S is retreating from that role, they are royally screwed. If we go down, we are taking the entire world with us. This is not only the decline of the U.S. It is not only the decline of the West. It is the decline of modern industrial civilization AS WE KNOW IT.
Dear JMG and commentariat, Forgive me if this was mentioned regarding the Afghanistan situation, but it now appears that the US government is demanding $2000 to rescue it’s nationals, on top of offering no help whatsoever to get to the airport or what-have-you: https://www.rt.com/usa/532548-charging-americans-kabul-evacuation/
Frankly of all the mishandling of the evacuation this struck me as the most embarrassing, especially after all of those trillions of dollars were poured into fighting the war. I’m deeply impressed with how appalling bad the withdrawal has gone and so quickly. What could say more forcefully that the US global empire is now over?
@10 Clay Dennis I may be mistaken but I believe you’re quoting MoonofAlabama’s 8/17 post “Afghanistan – Taliban Press Conference Notes” without attribution.
Bernard is a great analyst and deserves credit for his work. Apologies if I’m mistaken and you both have identical notes.
Nice, there is already, right now, a great and ever increasing need for competent and honest engineers, tinkerers and people that can make those mysterious boxes (appliances, circuit boxes, etc etc) work. If you can get by with reasonable fees or barter and are available to all, not just your own tribe, you can be one of the most popular persons around. In times not so far off, when small communities are abandoned by the centers of power, guys like you who can explain how to keep roads from washing out, how to put in a culvert, where and how to plant a shelterbelt, where and how to put in a swale, and so on, will be worth your weight in gold.
Another sign things are falling apart in Potemkinville, though too early to say how much impact it will have, is that the FCC lost a court case filed by Children’s Health Defense Fund (Robert F. Kennedy Jr.)and the Environmental Health Trust regarding its failure to review wireless safety standards since 1996 based on new evidence of physical harm. The court decision (2:1, with one dissenting judge) noted that the FCC was incompetent to determine the safety of wireless radiation.
Here is a communique from an activist, whose name I will not release at this time because I have not got permission, regarding the matter:
“Dear Mayors, Council, and State Politicians,
If you haven’t seen this in mainstream news, that alone should tell you something. On 8/16, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled against the FCC concerning the threat of wireless systems to environment and health. https://www.cadc.uscourts.gov/internet/opinions.nsf/FB976465BF00F8BD85258730004EFDF7/$file/20-1025-1910111.pdf
As I’ve written too many times to count, the FCC is criminalized (FDA involved as well, another criminalized agency), and has been blatantly lying to America about wireless since 1996. The lie has been and is: “No credible scientific studies exist…” “But we’re keeping our eye on it.” The harms were known, as I have reported, decades before 2G came out.
We now have solid corroboration. Harvard Ethics has issued a PDF entitled
How the Federal Communications Commission Is Dominated by the Industries It Presumably Regulates
Just the Harvard document should be enough. But I sincerely hope these two developments are enough finally for people in positions of responsibility to wake up, take notice, and above all, take steps to protect our source of life and this community. Above all, please remember always: The greatest direct threat is to ecosystem.
I know. It just doesn’t seem likely that anyone would do such a thing. Merely recall tobacco, or look into it. Of course, a difference is that this is worse by orders of magnitude: No avoidance or escape.
One of the first things all this means is getting all wireless devices out of our schools. In that regard, I ask you to forward this information to Superintendent Deacon and Christopher Knuth at the Health Department (he’s found a way to make my emails report “Permanent Error” 🙂
This will be the best thing as well for all officials, to be sure no legal action eventuates for willful negligence. You have been informed.”
Is this another fissure in the dam?
He closes the letter, much longer than I wanted to present here, with;
“PS – There’s an agonizing question I intend to address in detail in a forthcoming article. So, the telecom industry controls FCC; the medico/pharma industry controls NIH/FDA. Toxic Industrial Ag controls USDA. Anyone control these industries?”
Dear JMG and commentariat, if I may, it seems events are happening rather quickly and RT has already updated the article I posted to say that after much outrage, the US won’t now ask for $2,000 for repatriation from Afghanistan. So that seems less embarrassing, but still, that said, the flailing about is still rather bad optics…
Hopefully sir, whatever little each of us can do will be enough to maintain the Republic while the empire collapses. I’ll take your advice and meditate on which gods and spirits to call upon to help guide us through the crisis.
Thank you, this will certainly be helpful as I start to explore this avenue.
people are clearly still having sex – there’s an epidemic of STDs. In particular, syphilis rates in Edmonton have now reached levels last seen in 1948.
A lot of the resources going into preventing STD transmission have been going elsewhere the past year, and there are consequences for that.
Hi John Michael,
I tend to believe now that it is an: ‘or what?’ situation. Tell ya what though, you know what I see. It is a weird form of the sphere of protection – almost perverted actually. The person held in thrall is stuck in an echo chamber. My observation is that it is difficult to get people to listen who are caught in that web. In fact if I had to posit a theory here, my gut feeling suggests that the powers that be are attempting to replicate the weird subset of social interactions and control mechanisms that are the norm on this here interweb thing, in the real world where social interactions actually take place face to face. It’s a theory I’m working on at this stage, but you did mention to me once a long time ago that mages can get caught in their own spells, and I took your warning to heart and only ever act in that regard to benefit others. I’d be curious as to your thoughts upon this speculation?
PatriciaT, yes, I noticed that. Have you ever seen a cat trying to cover up a mistimed bowel movement on a linoleum floor? The corporate media reminds me of that just now.
Paradoctor, yep. I suspect he reframed it for people who haven’t read the Illuminatus trilogy.
Naomi, please tell your friend in the UK that the American ruling elite is having a collective nervous breakdown right now, and those of us not in the elite apologize for the annoyance.
Observer, it depends on which Americans you have in mind.
Violet, yes, I heard about that. Our empire is running on fumes.
Patricia O, glad to hear this!
Chris, that makes an uncomfortable lot of sense.
Regarding the dissolution of the US: Far-right webcomic artist Stonetoss has a good one : http://stonetoss.com/comic/war-flighters/
Apologies to Nico for misspelling your online name.
Can anyone say why India declined to participate in China’s road building project? I don’t know if that was a good decision or bad decision, but I do wonder what was the reasoning?
About China allegedly not being able to feed its’ population: I haven’t been there and am no expert, but I do know how to read a map. China appears to be the fortunate possessor of three enormous river valleys. Think Mississippi Valley times three. And all three are located in the temperate zone, not frozen half the year or desert. There is also the extremely long coastline. The Chinese are supposedly experts in intensive farming techniques, so why can’t they feed themselves? What am I missing? They seem to be able to export agricultural products.
A possible data point: The state agency I work for has seen a steady stream of retirements this summer, and I’m out the door the end of September.
Planned to work another year, but nah. Enough with the ever-changing procedures, unreliable software, chronic understaffing, and flaky boss. It’s amazing the wheels haven’t come off the bus yet. I’m in Idaho, so vaccine mandates are unlikely, but who knows?
Mentioned this to the guy who cuts my hair, and he remarked that a surprisingly large number of his clients are also retiring early.
Thanks as always for doing what you do.
Will respect, I could not find anything in your post about China that aligns with reality. Having been to China on several occasions, having traveled through the 2nd, 3rd and 4th tier cities, having negotiated purchases of Chinese industrial products and studying published data, on the Chinese economy there is zero validity in your characterizations. None.
I have also extensively traveled in Japan. I really like Japan and its people. But, China is more dazzling, more dynamic and simply more powerful. They know that the pendulum of history is swinging their way.
The cities are simply beautiful, not just coastal cities but interior cities as well. China has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty and will soon have no one living in poverty unless by choice (yes, some people may choose such).
The US has lost its ability in numerous key manufacturing and those abilities are not coming back. That is why I had to travel to China. If you want high quality equipment, China is a good place to look.
Perhaps you are not old enough to remember when Japan was synonymous with junk and trinkets. China is going through the same evolution toward quality.
One thing about that succession poll that I found interesting was that it specified broad regions that most people serious about breaking from the federal government wouldn’t support. I suspect if the question broke the states apart along county lines in more culturally and geography appropriate ways there would be majority support for succession.
“Info, the game’s not over yet. Societies that fail this spectacularly quite often end up shedding their failed elites, sometimes quite messily.”
I hope the bad bureaucrats get what they deserve.
“5) China doesn’t have enough farmland or water to sustain their (declining) population. They have a big country, but little arable land. Half of the country will probably starve to death in the next decade.”
Hence the criticality of the Sea to Chinese food supply and the rest of the supply lines and the Silk Road.
China will seek control of the oceans and their trade routes to be able to keep feeding their populations.
You know I was just about to ask if you had seen the Malcom Kyeyune piece but thankfully saw your update as I was about to post. However, I would like to add that I have seen that article crop up in several places now and some of them are quite far afield from your particular grotto in the great internet forest.
I must admit that I was a little surprised by the speed of the recapturing of Afghanistan by the Taliban. That this would happen after the USA and their vassals would leave the country, was clear for me. I just thought that maybe a part of the population (especially women) would fight to keep the system set up by the USA, but apparently this part of the population was so small that no serious fighting took place at all.
If the population contraction in Europe is not seen as a severe problem, why are the Europeans importing so many people from outside of Europe that the population of Europe is still growing?
@ Teresa from hershey #167.
“If they aren’t handling “normal” travelers, screening for Covid, well, an exodus from Afghanistan will be a real challenge.”
At least in Germany, I would expect that they set a lower standard for them than for the normal travelers/citizens. It already happens with “protected” groups like Muslim clans, which could conduct their funerals with a large attendance with the police only watching while birthday parties of native Germans with a lot less participants were crashed by the police. This way the whole Covid crisis was also used to further stir up hatred of ethnic minorities.
Last time I asked about a Chinese invasion of Hawai’i and you allayed some of my fears (nobody wants Pearl Harbor 2.0) but after reading the comment about elites selling out California it is making me nervous because we currently get 90% of our food imported and our political class are corrupt feckless morons. My fellow farmers and I try to do what we can, but I get the feeling that our PMC would hand us over to the PRC very quickly if the boats full of goodies significantly slowed down. As a vocal religious anti authoritarian this would probably not go very well for me.
We are also sitting on a pile of conventional and nuclear weapons which we would not be able to disarm and decontaminate on our own. If the US started to come apart I am sure a large percentage of our local population would leave and at least then housing would no longer be an issue, except where it is blocking otherwise productive farm land. Getting to the point…what do you think we have to “look forward” to way out here in the middle of the Pacific given your most likely scenario?
In terms of rising strongmen, keep an eye on this fellow:
JMG, Thanks for this post. You have trained us well. Your posts between 2006 and 2016 covered the decline of our civilization in every angle possible. More often than not, I notice that I am rarely ever surprised by events, no matter how seemingly earth-shattering it is — ISIS, Brexit, Trump, the virus, globalization becoming unglued — all are just speed bumps in the longer downward slope of collapse. It I hear on the radio that there is a pileup in one route, and I decide to take another route just for the day — it may slow me down, but I reach my destination just fine. Sometimes I look up the TADR post and read it for old time’s sake.
A tip of the hat to you, and a deep bow as well.
One more thing. Here is Trump’s recent statement on the withdrawal:
“First you bring out all of the American citizens. Then you bring out ALL equipment. Then you bomb the bases into smithereens—AND THEN YOU BRING OUT THE MILITARY. You don’t do it in reverse order like Biden and our woke Generals did.
No chaos, no death—they wouldn’t even know we left!”
I let out a chuckle. For a man who lost the presidency, he is having a great time! I also remembered this: “Don’t interrupt your enemy while he is making a mistake”. Only in this case, the mistake was using every trick in the book to swing the election.
I also hear that Newsom’s in trouble in California. Sen. Feinstein, at a ripe old 88, is fading away. Under California law, the Governor can nominate a replacement Senator. If recall succeeds and a Republican becomes Governor (Larry Elder is leading the pack), things will become even more interesting.
Not speaking for all vassal states of the US here, only for my own country which was rather independant until 2007 when Sarkozy reinstated full NATO membership.
France armed forces left Af-stan for good in 2012 after a 11-years deployment there first under the aegis of the UNO (IFAS) and then under US-led NATO force as far as I can remember.
I don’t know if there was some french money poured into that hell of a country since then but I guess the EU payed the puppet regime of Karzai/Ghnai so our tax-money went there anyway.
Regarding recent events, I couldn’t help but comparing this to Saigon’s fall in 1975. I have relatives who were there and were rescued by US troops. Bear some kind of similarity to me. One thing though, it didn’t surprised me. What surprised me was that the country was overrun within weeks with little to no bloodshed. Given pashto taste for revenge I’m still wondering what could happen in the near future.
A piece of news. China’s Global Times threatened Taiwan’s gov recently (https://www.insider.com/chinese-media-warns-us-ally-taiwan-afghan-chaos-2021-8). It’s a bold move to harass the US a little bit further. I think China is going to get full hybrid war on the US at a point in the near future. This promises interesting times.
Hi John Michael,
Forgot to mention that as part of the spell, people end up listening only to themselves with the programmed words. And I feel that this is maybe why they can’t hear other people. It’s all very odd you know. The dispell is simple, but getting it through to peoples minds is not as easy a task as you’d imagine.
Oh, and by way of explanation I used the word ‘perverted’ to describe the process that a person does not of themselves seek protection using their own will for their own purposes, no, the idea is sold and provided to them, and therein lays the trap.
Anyway, I’m ferreting away on this matter, but that is about as far as I have gotten with it.
thanks for your answer. I do remember your post, I guess it’s just hard for me to imagine the kind of conformism you predicted.
Coming back to the conspiracy conversation – I don’t know what’s worse, a group of supervillains that manipulate people using the best psychological techniques OR the fact that majority of people are willing to sell their soul for some money and fitting in.
Ethan @200, I don’t entirely agree with your view of China.
1) Demographically, yes, China is on course for a massive decline and, yes, for a couple of decades to come much of its economic productivity will go towards looking after a growing number of elderly. The one-child policy was ended a couple of years ago but the people of working age are too tired and financially precarious, and don’t want more children. In most of the world, female education and emancipation lead to lower fertility and it’s usually a good thing – and China is far from alone in its demographic trends (hi, Europe!). The government is actively seeking policy solutions as well, such as the recent fiat forcing all private tutoring companies to become not-for-profit; that sort of thing really helps ordinary working families. One thing to add is that these demographic trends mainly apply to the Han. Ethnic minorities were exempt from the one-child policy, and their birth rates remain high – which is probably all you need to know about current policies in Xinjiang, Tibet, and Inner Mongolia.
2) Economically, ever since they joined the WTO, China has made no secret of its intention to move from export-oriented to domestic consumption, and that transition is well under way. They’re following the pattern established by Japan and Korea; they will still export, but high-value; they aren’t interested in being ‘the workshop of the world’ any more, particularly as their own population is becoming more vocal about pollution (and the factories are being automated). The way policies have developed over recent years suggest tehy;re no longer all that keen on having foreign companies manufacturing there. Oh, and these days their middle class buys Chinese-made phones that are a fraction of the price of an iPhone but have many more features.
3) I’ve lived in China, and while rural areas are indeed deeply impoverished, the standards of living have improved dramatically across the board, and the evidence of economic development is everywhere. There are many people who remember what life was like before 1949, and everyone knows that they are much better off than previous generations.
4) Navies are basically obsolete, and that includes the US Navy. Carrier groups are good for one thing and one thing only against a peer enemy, and that’s to illuminate the night while they burn to the sea line. Hypersonic missiles will sink the US navy without it being able to defend itself. Russia can launch them from land, sea and air; China’s are land-based at present (and that’s why they want the island chains) but that’s sufficient. Sea warfare is a thing of the past at this point.
5) The loss of farmland is a problem, and they are very aware of it – which is why they are buying farmland in other countries (hi Ukraine!). Anyway, the sanctions imposed on Russia after 2014 forced them to finally invest in their agricultural sector, and Russia is now a major exporter of grain. They won’t let China starve.
As for water, yup another big problem – but they’re hardly alone in that. Also, their cloud-seeding technology has got much better, and I hear it’s having an effect in Tibet (and look at how many major rivers of Asia originate in Tibet, and that’s all you need to know about Chinese policy there).
6) Oil: more and more of their energy is coming from Russia, of course. Plus, moving to renewables is a national priority; I’d put money on them succeeding. China and Iran are both in SCO; Iraq, Bahrain, Qatar are all trying to get in – as are the Saudis. As the US leaves, I think it’s actually less likely that the area will go kinetic. (Israel is the wild card, of course).
7) The Chinese have been trying since at least 2004 to bypass the Straits of Malacca. They’ve been talking to the generals in Myanmar about a port far upriver on the Irrawaddy, where oil can be fed into pipelines to Kunming. Likewise to Pakistan. Plus, of course, Russia. I think they’ll find a solution.
8) You’re absolutely right that Chinese development has been due to the US-led global market. They’ve taken advantage of it, but they didn’t like the way the US used its bully pulpit. Nor did many other countries. That’s why they’re building the Belt and Road, and cooperating with the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union. They’re building an entirely new integrated market that covers most of Eurasia, and includes much of Africa and South America. A lot of the EU will join (some are already in) as the Europeans tire of US ‘leadership’. The US will be frozen out; if it’s allowed to join, it will have to do so on equal terms, producing things people want (and they don’t really want iPhones any more).
Just thought I’d add this to the conversation.
Jon Goddard @93 @152
Karim Jaufeerally @127
Although the USSR and Mao-era China had a conflict, that was more of an internal feud between factions of global communism. Now that Russia is no longer communist, there’s no cause for dispute.
Many Russians do worry about Chinese migration to resource-rich Siberia but I think the Kremlin doesn’t. It is an issue, for sure, but the general trend of China’s demographics mean it will be less of a problem in future and anyway, the population of the Chinese provinces bordering Russia are collapsing fast because – surprise! – Chinese don’t like living in the cold any more than anyone else and, now that they can, the young people are all hot-footing it to the warmer southern provinces.
People say that China has a long memory and it does – and it remembers that Russia was the only European country to sign treaties with China on an equal basis; treaties which were honoured for centuries.
Despite what the Western media says, China doesn’t want to be a hegemon in the way the Anglo-Americans have been. They want to be safe and prosperous within their own borders, and to have their own political system in their own country. Where possible, they’ll try to make tributaries out of smaller, weaker states, but they depend too much on Russia for mutual defence against the West to try it there.
Putin was talking back in the early 2000s about a market stretching from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Back then, Russia was a supplicant to the EU. I think his vision will indeed come to pass, but now it will be the EU, or parts of it, coming as supplicants to the Eurasian Union.
The fallout from all this is just beginning. It’s beginning to sink in for the entire British establishment – from government ministers down to the squaddies – that they’ve been played for fools by the US. How this is going to play out in Iraq, Eastern Europe, etc is going to be VERY interesting to observe. How can any British minister ask British soldiers to die for an American-led cause ever again?
JMG: Back in the eighteenth century, when Catherine the Great was on the throne of the Russian Empire, she decided to tour some southern provinces that had just been wrested from the Ottoman Empire.
About the passivity and the PMC, I pondered more about that in regards to American culture.
The reminder of graft and the mob in the posting had me checking my library of organized crime books. I lived in a Mafia controlled neighborhood for awhile. That meant no crime and everyone minding their own business.
Anyway, extreme violence has been a part of American culture since the beginning, it seems. Gang violence seems to have come later. It seemed that World War Two and the aftermath made people long for a civilized calm world. So the PMC grew out of that. They were the order to the gangsters’ chaos.
Supposedly starting in the 1980s, the ordered classes erased the chaos classes but then took their eye off the ball in 2001 (9/11). However, the folks who created chaos never stopped.
At the same time, the PMC folks started gun control efforts and the like until now where they are simply besides themselves that nothing they do is working. Violence has become what it originally was.
I heard the Bradys speak years ago. What I sensed was that they believed in an ordered world with an ordered government to keep them safe. Because Jim Brady was shot by an insane man, Sarah Brady decided that insane people had to be stopped. (Chaos versus order.)
The passivity came about in an atmosphere where the PMC could stop chaos and keep it at bay by simply wishing it was so. However, the walls are down and chaos has engulfed everyone.
As part of living in the decline is to embrace the chaos, and navigate the uncertain seas.
“Info, the game’s not over yet. Societies that fail this spectacularly quite often end up shedding their failed elites, sometimes quite messily.”
There is a reason for the Romance of the traditional Warrior Aristocracy. Those Leaders who will inspire Men on the Battlefield and share the hardships of those on the ground despite their higher rank.
And being the first in a cavalry charge modelling heroism for those who follow him. Like Alexander the Great tried to embody himself.
This King was as much a Comrade in the trenches as the rest of the Men he led. More of an Elder brother who can be relied upon.
There is scarcely romance in pushing pens that results in Men doing the fighting for them whilst they themselves sit in an air conditioned office. Filling in forms with little to no risk to themselves.
Once Elites were able to insulate themselves from their traditional skin in the game. Where the failures of his subordinates is his failures and their successes his successes in a more immediate way then Justice is far delayed and far more messy and imprecise.
That’s the downside of the Bureaucratization of society away from Traditional Warrior Aristocracies that featured Knights, Lords and Barons.
Great post. Have you come across a geopolitical analyst called Peter Zeihan? Recently finished his book Disunited Nations, which is v good.
His thesis, in a nutshell, is that the demographics in most of the world is now turning grey, which means the end of economic growth by the early 2020s (sound familiar?). At the same time, America is withdrawing from its world policeman/empire duties and returning to its North American heartland.
The withdrawal of American military protection and the end of the de facto American empire will trigger widespread geopolitical and supply risk chaos around much of the world, including parts of South America. That’s the big picture.
Its interesting to compare his views on America with yours. He is way more optimistic about Americas future – big, surrounded by friendly neighbours and oceans, relatively self-sufficient with access to the vast resources of the entire Americas with a self-insulated domestic economy integrated with Canada and Mexico.
Whatever disruption is in store for North America the Americans can mitigate. The rest of the world, not so much.
His take on Europe and basically everywhere outside North America is fairly grim. His writings (and predictions can be found here – http://zeihan.com/newsletter/)
I’ve taken your advice and stocked up on rice and beans. Also, think, as per my latest blog post, that supply shortages as we go into a worsening inflationary picture is coming.
Officials of the Trump administration began talks with the Taliban a year ago to arrange an American withdrawal. A year ago. Plenty of time to get bribes assembled and paid, documentation made (those Americans are so obsessive about pieces of paper) networks of influence activated. My guess is that anyone who had anything to fear has already left. The crowds at the Kabul airport are chancers.
A Republican administration started this and now a Democratic president has done the right thing and ended it. And the Republicans will benefit electorally.
The people of Kurdistan, which has no national identity, and won’t be allowed one–that is one point on which Turkey, Iraq and Syria all agree, fought back against ISIS and Al Qaeda militants, and I have yet to hear any American pundit say we might owe them something. Whatever financial and military support we might have suppled, they seem to have made good use of it, something, which, we are learning, did not happen in Afghanistan.
Important (not really) off topic announcement.
August 14, 2021 Rain fell for several hours on the summit of Mount Vormithadreth in Greenland.
Bogatyr @ 227, does that mean that the next time Europeans start a World War, we won’t have to fight it? I think quite a few of us here on our side the Atlantic are not mourning the end of the special relationship.
Others may have done well out of the End of the Cold War so-called peace dividend, but Americans outside DC-NYC never saw any of it.
Honu, should the USA disintegrate, the best option for Hawaii might be something like what prevails in Antarctica now, a UN protectorate with independence and neutrality guaranteed by Australia, Japan and Canada, none of whom would care to see Hawaii become a Chinese naval base. Perhaps, Hawaiians who want a say in their own future might want to begin planning now?
Thank you for that. I noticed tinnitus in my ear shortly after buying my first cell phone in 2001. I think it’s permanent now. I didn’t put two and two together until just a few years ago. I wonder if others have the same problem?
Pygmycory @63 I think all of the above. The USA had a very strong interest in democracy succeeding in Germany and Japan, so we probably did do a better job because results mattered. Also, Afghanistan never asked us to invade and build them a “democracy,” whereas Japan and Germany “eff’ed around and found out,” to use the parlance of our times.
I think we might already have the second currency you mentioned – maybe it’s Bitcoin.
I think there would certainly be a problem with the British public if the UK government proposed getting involved with any further American-led overseas adventures, similar to what Bush initiated, within the short term. There are also definitely feelings of betrayal and anger (and disbelief!) at the moment, I think.
But, in the long term, I would say the British are very tribal. We like our own race far better than any other race, even when we don’t like them (if you know what I mean!), so in the long term, I am sure we would still gravitate towards alliances with the Anglo family, of which America forms part, rather than anybody else. We are also not stupid and, as we benefited from American hegemony, it’s in our interests to shore it up. So, I wouldn’t bet on us not going to war again, with the USA, under the right circumstances. The English/Welsh/Scottish/Irish seem somewhat inclined to the occasional war anyway every so often, either with ourselves or with others, by way of a national characteristic. As it’s been that way for probably a thousand years, I cannot see it changing in the near future.
But right now, yeah we are not over impressed with how it’s all gone down. Biden has copped the most criticism though and he has definitely gone up in flames in British public opinion. I would guess along with that there might be a fall out for the current Democrat party, by way of association, which, up until now, has been perceived as closer to the British establishment in terms of their more secular, globalist, and more totalitarian (that’s a personal view!) approach to world affairs.
I am wondering now as well if this whole debacle might well result in a lurch to the right by the British ruling class in favor of Trump or his chosen successor, for the sake of their own self interests and to put a distance between themselves and the military/logistical failure of Afghanistan?
This is an excellent description of China and its motivations:
Ouch. Here’s a scathing and honest piece on the decline of American Empire. A lot of similar points made by our esteemed host, including the loss of authority by the management class.
So. Has Joe Chernenko turned into Joe Gorbachev yet?
Thank you for this post, and for the link to my own essay. I spent my 20s waiting patiently for every new post on The Archdruid Report, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that most of my intellectual habits (measure ideology against what reality is actually like, not the other way around, learn to know history before you think about the future, and so on) are things I’ve learned, however distantly, from watching your example. So I can say with some humility that most of what is correct in that essay of mine came from you, and most of what is incorrect in it is probably just due to my own various faults.
A few quick points: regarding us Europeans, you’re mostly right about the complaining, but the situation is slightly more complex here. Though there’s a lot of chickenhaws in Britain who love to play empire by proxy through the americans, most of the anger at the Biden administration comes from not actually telling its NATO allies that the US was pulling out. From what I gather, Angela Merkel and Boris Johnson were more or less left to learn about the chaos in Kabul on the morning news, and then had to scramble to come up with their own plan to evacuate their civilians. To add insult to injury, Boris Johnson tried to call Joe Biden to ask what was happening, at which point he had to wait 36 hours (!) before finally getting through. That sort of thing is so rare – when an allied prime minister calls, you pick up the phone – that the only realistic explanation is that Biden was simply too sick to be physically capable of having that phone call. All in all, the retreat from Afghanistan isn’t the big disaster for the US, it’s just how incompetently it was handled, and how it dumped a massive crisis in the lap of the chancelleries of its putative coalition partners.
Finally, your point about the human logic behind potemkin villages is going to be really important going forward. Most americans I talk to think that “the empire is coming home” means the future of America is going to be some sort of hyper-competent eye of sauron tracking their every move and smashing dissent with brutal efficiency, and this is I think a form of motivated reasoning. Ask any russian, and they’ll probably tell you that they’d much rather live in the 80s Soviet Union – KGB spying and all – than enjoy the “freedom” of the 90s. Better to have a competent tyrant, than incompetent oligarchy.
In reality, the war against the “american taliban” is going to be just as ineffective, badly run, and useless as the original version!
>This is not only the decline of the U.S. It is not only the decline of the West. It is the decline of modern industrial civilization AS WE KNOW IT.
Hmm. You’re making the case for another Bronze Age type collapse? Pandemics? Check. Overly complicated trade networks? Check. Overly dependent on one scarce finite resource? Check. State run economies dependent on fragile knowledge? Check.
But who knows? What’s unsustainable eventually has to go away for sure.
@teresa from hershey #175: Thank you for your comment. The implausibility of conspiracy on such a vast scale bothers me very much. I don’t want to be gas lit; and have spent some time questioning my own rationality, and will probably continue such “check up from the neck up” moments in meditation. There are a lot of data points. Some are doubtless noise. But some, such as (a) opening the borders extra wide – almost as if they are making up for lost time; (b) shutting down US oil production so summarily during a time when you would think they would grant a little extra time, if only because of the massive Covid impacts and economic concerns; and (c) massive, coordinated censorship on a scale are simply “conspiracy FACTS”. I wouldn’t have thought these things possible, but they are now FACT. The gas lit and out to lunch are those who can’t face those realities.
We have TWO US Presidents’ words on the subject of US large scale “conspiracy”:
FDR: “In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way.”
Eisenhower: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial-complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.”
These guys have — literally — orders of magnitude more political and organizational expertise and genius than JMG, you, and I put together. It is beyond naive to discount their warnings, and to disregard dozens of such things as are now known history, such as Kennedy, Jeffry Epstein, and Edward Snowden (I could probably name hundreds of additional names and events if I put my mind to it, and I doubt any of us could credibly, confidently discount more than a trivial number of them).
I don’t come to my recent concerns, easily, nor without cause, nor without a lot personally riding on the outcome. I try really hard to deliberately not engage in conversations which do not have actionable and testable (through the lens of long term, substantial investment) hypotheses.
I made my first post in the hope that JMG or the forum would provide some solid rebuttal of, at least, some data points. I haven’t seen any yet. I have, as I said, taken recent heavy positions based upon my hypothesis; I can’t stand still, sucking my thumb, without taking heavy losses on existent positions. I am sure I won’t get everything right. I doubt we will ever know even half the story on most of these geopolitical moves. But I suggest you, JMG, and all of us, learn better how to think like a criminal. Hedge your bets, but don’t stand flat-footed waiting for history to arrive. Again, a substantial amount of what I am using to extrapolate and act, comes from good thinking or facts from this forum (thanks). Much of the rest is simply fact; mostly from more credible sources than anyone here; a good portion is from my intuition. My intuition is not always right – but it has been correct enough, often enough, to pay off repeatedly and big-time. Mostly, I regard myself as very conservative (in a good sense) and grounded. I try not to speculate but, rather, to investigate and invest.
Justin, that’s funny in a gallows humor sort of way. I suspect a lot of people are thinking along those lines just now.
OtterGirl, that’s worth noting. I wonder if part of the implosion of the system we’re facing will be driven by the simple fact that the people who’ve been running the bureaucracies all these years are sick of it and are walking away.
Misty, you may well be right.
Info, unfortunately, history rarely plays favorites that way.
Other Dave, I’m delighted to hear this!
Secretface, (1) perhaps the most pervasive delusion of the current US elite is that everyone really wants to live like modern American liberals, and if you just give them the chance they’ll hand over their freedom for some simulacrum of that lifestyle. Turns out it ain’t so. (2) It’s seen as a severe problem by elite classes who are panicked over the end of growth. I know for a fact, having talked to them, that plenty of people in Britain, say, would be delighted to see their population decline.
Honu, Hawai’i will have to make a deal with somebody. I’d suggest Australia, Japan, and India, which are moving into ever closer military alliance right now. They could use a first-rate naval based in the central Pacific.
Phil, thanks for this.
Collapsenik, I’m delighted to hear this! I read Trump’s statement, too — I wonder how many Democrats are squirming over the fact that Trump would have managed the withdrawal from Afghanistan much more effectively than the guy they installed…
Sébastien, I wish your country had had the good sense to stay out!
Chris, hmm. Interesting. Most of the time, when I see people screening out everything other people say, they know they’re wrong and they know that they’re going to pay for it in blood, but they can’t admit that to themselves…
NomadicBeer, that kind of conformity has been pervasive among human beings since the beginning of recorded history, so it doesn’t surprise me to see it here.
Bogatyr, the article I read didn’t specify which region the Russians had just conquered. Thanks for the data point.
Neptunesdolphins, fascinating. Yes, that makes sense.
Info, once the habit of obedience to institutions breaks down — and it’s breaking down now, of course — personal leadership is the only kind that counts, and that requires leading the charge.
Forecasting, I have indeed read Zeihan; I think he’s mistaken about some things, but he’s very much worth reading. As for supply shortages, oddly enough, I’ll be discussing that soon.
Janitor, I heard about that. The four peaks should start to become visible through the ice in another few decades.
Jon, a very good piece — in fact, I linked to it in an update at the bottom of my post. 😉
Owen, no, he’ll be replaced by Kamala Gorbachev shortly.
Malcom, thank you for this! I’d wondered why so many of your essays seemed so spot on to me. 😉 With regard to Europe, thanks for this — I’m glad people on your side of the pond are aware that Biden’s deep into senile dementia at this point, and his handlers are scrambling to get him doped up enough to stumble through a twenty minute speech. What we’ve got at this point is a bureaucratic state in terminal decay, staffed by people whose sole qualifications for their jobs are obsequiousness and a high tolerance for graft and failure. There will be many more such blunders before the system falls apart completely. As for “the empire coming home,” agreed — the people who think that we’re going to see some kind of functional authoritarian state here haven’t yet noticed that the privileged classes who are supposedly going to impose that state basically can’t wipe their own noses without help.
Gnat, you’re still caught in the trap of assuming that whatever happens must have been intended for some nefarious purpose, and as long as you stay there, well, that’s the world you get to inhabit. As for “thinking like a criminal,” it’s a standard rule among detectives that most criminals get caught because they can’t think through the logical implications of their own actions…
I think partly because of my upbringing (military brat), I was at one time, decades ago, for the idea of war as a way to promote the ‘American Way’. Until someone asked me if I would I want my son to die for this? Or someone else’s son (friend or foe)? That made me think about the reality and horror of war. The very few who profit would never put their children harms way. And the media all but ignores the effects of war on the people and land of invaded country, and, for soldiers returning home it’s “thank you for service (now go be quiet)”.
Will petro dollars be mentioned in the post two weeks from now?
“… Faced with mounting inflation, debt from the Vietnam War, extravagant domestic spending habits, and a persistent balance of payments deficit, the Nixon administration decided in Aug. 1971 to suddenly (and shockingly) end the convertibility of U.S. dollars into gold. …”(https://www.investopedia.com/articles/forex/072915/how-petrodollars-affect-us-dollar.asp)
I have just been reading a translation of Aristotle’s “Politics”, where it says this:
“For that which can foresee by the exercise of mind is by nature intended to be lord and master, and that which can with its body give effect to such foresight is a subject, and by nature a slave; hence master and slave have the same interest.”
And I am circling around to the point you make above, to the effect that “communication is only possible between equals”. This, together with the multiple experiences that I myself have gained, of being among folk ranking low on a particular totem pole who have PLEEENTY of “that which can foresee by the exercise of mind” in terms of foresight about “how THIS is going to go…[*roll of eyes*]”, but too little rank to make it worth more than keep stocked with popcorn, while the higher ranking suits carry blithely on with whatever it is they are doing… until….
And it strikes me that Aristotle (along with many other people who favour the idea of “natural” hierarchies of competence) seems to have missed this point. That “exercise of mind” cannot match the “exercise of enquiry eliciting the insights of other minds”…. Also, maybe Aristotle’s idea that master and slave [or, nowadays, subordinate] naturally have the same interest needs a small bit more examination.
In theory (perhaps) it makes sense to put the person who “can foresee by the exercise of mind” into the position of “lord and master”, in *practice” it never happens that way, and the people who “can foresee by exercise of mind” are too often in a position where, due to their a) lower status, and b) lack of shared interest in the success of the mission, they will never, ever tell what they foresee, because it is “more than your job’s worth…”
@ Gnat #244.
I forgot to add luck, both for and against you to my list of things to consider instead of or in addition to conspiracy. Never discount the power of ‘and’.
You are correct about the borders being opened. But that doesn’t make it a conspiracy. Instead, I’d look for who benefits right now or, more likely, who THINKS they benefit right now from opening the borders.
Do you recall Ross Perot back in 1992 with NAFTA and that giant sucking sound? Plenty of businessmen thought NAFTA was a great idea and they’d make piles of money and they’d never have to cope with a single bad consequence. They were wrong, but I’ll tell you, someone made money. The people who voted for NAFTA could not control the tiger they unleased. They thought they could, but they were wrong.
Most people and I include myself in this group are terrible at thinking long-term and considering that what is a benefit right now (for present me) will turn out to be a terrible decision in the future (future me). That’s the reason why most people you know live one paycheck from disaster. If we were capable of long-term thinking, you’d see a lot less consumer credit devoted to consumables like movie tickets.
Having seen flag officers (CincPacFlt was thick with them) in action, they aren’t that smart. I remember them racing from crisis to crisis. There were a few admirals who were pointed out to me as having been noticed as ensigns that they were going places. But very few.
Worse, many of the really smart officers I remember from Officer Candidate school were joked about in this manner: would their crew wait for a dark and stormy night to shove them overboard because they were impossible to work with and get along with.
It’s hard and we do the best we can. We’re always up against greedier, more powerful people who can’t see past the end of their nose.
An outstanding example of that type of thinking is some super-mogul buying a bugout location in New Zealand. The balloon goes up and he’ll race off in his private jet. Except is the pilot really going to abandon his family to the rampaging zombie hordes to rescue super-mogul? How about those bodyguards?
It looks like Canada has some of its citizens left behind in Afghanistan too. Looks like part of the reason is bureaucracy, the rest is how messy the situation is.
My engineer spouse just told me something new about 5G: It apparently interferes with weather data collection. Apparently its frequency interferes with the sensors which collect moisture data. May be one reason why we’ve had such little warning that Hurricane Henri will apparently make landfall in RI on Sunday. I live on Aquidneck Island right where it’s supposed to make landfall. Well, this house survived the ’38 hurricane so… And JMG, up there in the city you have the hurricane barrier–good luck.
Anyway, this is another example of something touted as so great (5G! Super fast data for your smartphone!) that isn’t even just distracting from, but is actually worsening, an actual problem: Less accurate weather forecasting.
I’ve been following the covid discussions on your other blog so haven’t been paying as much attention here this week.
Just wanted to say that I noticed there’s a rare Hurricane Watch posted for your neck of the woods. Best wishes in weathering the immediate storm ahead.
Mary @ 227: does that mean that the next time Europeans start a World War, we won’t have to fight it?
Given that this conversation is happening in response to JMG pointing out the many secessionist trends in the US, who do you mean by “we”?
in the long term, I would say the British are very tribal. We like our own race far better than any other race, even when we don’t like them (if you know what I mean!), so in the long term, I am sure we would still gravitate towards alliances with the Anglo family
I’m guessing that you’re English 🙂 As a Welsh nationalist, I would say nope to all of that.
>Owen, no, he’ll be replaced by Kamala Gorbachev shortly.
Ahem. Rumor is that she was screaming about not wanting to take responsibility for any of this though. I think that nobody up there wants to take Joe’s position away from him, at this point. Maybe 6 months ago, that was the plan – but now? I don’t think anyone up there is mature or brave enough to do it.
@teresa from Hershey
There was an outstanding article about the billionaires-buying-in-New Zealand phenomenon a couple of years ago (it may even have been posted here on Ecosophia).
It was written by some kind of security/survival consultant guy (job unclear) but the thrust of it was that he was hired to consult (ie, have a meeting) with some super-wealthy Silicon Valley guys who had New Zealand plans if there was a real apocalypse (pre corona). Apparently there was a lot of hemming and hawing and asking irrelevant questions till he figured out that what they really wanted to ask him was how they could stay in charge and remain the boss in their compound/bunker if there was an apocalypse and their billions were irrelevant since banks didn’t exist anymore. In particular, why would their security forces – the men with the guns – take orders from them anymore?
Apparently they had some really baroque sci-fi type ideas – explosive collars on the security forces which the Boss could trigger, or poison them and give them a daily antidote that only the Boss had and stuff like that.
Apparently it was extraordinarily hard to explain to them that in that situation they would be in trouble and gimmicks wouldn’t help them and they really needed to have some kind of skill that the men with the guns valued (even if that skill happened to be “leadership”) when their money became irrelevant.
While I don’t think we are going quite that far, some less serious version of that scenario may be coming down the pike..
teresa from hershey (no. 248), I remember reading an interview with marketing guru / comic book writer / techno-esotericist Douglas Rushkoff, who mentioned having been hired for a day by some rich tech guys, and flown out to California for a consultation. They asked him a bunch of questions along the lines of, in the event of some kind of global emergency where they all have to pack up and move to their bunkers in New Zealand, what’s the best way to ensure that their staff (in the bunkers) remain loyal and obedient? Some of the mooted suggestions struck me as unethical, and did not exactly fill me with confidence in their contingency plans.
@Kimberly Steele #163
The reason I ask is because there seems to be a tie-in with sociopolitical explosions and built-up sexual repression.
Right symptoms but perhaps the wrong diagnosis.
Dating apps have resulted in 80% of women dating less than 20% of men… the rest are involuntarily celibate and not happy about it. High numbers of sexually frustrated young males usually leads to violent unrest, the “Arab Spring” being one of the most recent examples.
@Patient Observer #199
Americans do not, on average, have the balls to break up the country.
It cannot be restated often enough that revolutions start within a very small percentage of the population — typically less than 5%. Furthermore, Americans are only now beginning the suffer the hardships that tend to bring out the torches and pitchforks. Give it time.
@Anonymous Collapsenik @221
If recall succeeds and a Republican becomes Governor (Larry Elder is leading the pack), things will become even more interesting.
You notice LATimes now has an OpEd stating Larry Elder is a white supremacist?
“I’m staying here as well, and doing what I can. As for what gods to invoke, why, that’s a good theme for meditation.”
If you’re doing magic to help the Republic weather this storm it might be the ultimate test of just how powerful magic can be. But I wanted to ask – do you have to do it alone? I mean, you have a lot of regular readers who are also practicing magic and many, I bet, would like to help rather than just sit idly by and helplessly watch the world slip slowly down around our ankles.
Most of them may be novices, but perhaps you could devise group workings similar to those employed by Dion Fortune in her Magical Battle of Britain? You would be the most qualified person to do so. Then hand pick the people you trust to do the working and distribute the instructions among them, a far cry from posting it online for all to see.
As we are going through these dark times, I’m sure the American people could use every little bit of divine help and guidance. In other words I think its high time for the Magical Battle of America to begin. At least consider it.
Victrix Fortunae Sapientia
Pygmecory asked, why have Germany and Japan been successful democracies ever since? I would like to recommend a book by Seagrave, “The Yamado Dynasty”. In sum, Japan is not a democracy. Since the Mejei Restoration, 5 wealthy families ran the country. They used the Emperor as a front, such that anyone who criticised the Royals could receive the death penalty. When he appeared in public, no one could look at him, the safest position was on your knees with your forehead on the ground. Naturally no one questioned Hirohito’s edicts, including especially Hirohito. Before this period, the Yamado clan were iirc, Shinto priests, somewhere in the sticks. Fast forward to MacArthur, who was skilfully played by the 5 richest families, and remain in control to this day, exercising power from the shadows.
A nice companion book: Jerry Docherty’s, “The Hidden History of WW1” which tells of an eerily similar story of Britain after Victoria.
Thanks to Ksim for the Franz Josef reference I had to look that up. Elizabeth II, and another Sovereign head of state (in exile) HH the 14th Dalai Lama may not be functional pivots of history, but they may be a pivot on some esoteric level.
JMG and Commentariate
As the powers would have it our prime minister Justin Trudeau here in Canada just called a federal election in an attempt to gain a majority almost immediately before the catastrophe in Afghanistan.
Poor timing to say the least. Our public broadcaster the CBC is continuing to run standard distraction and really barely reporting on situation at all let alone in a meaningful way.
I pray that Canadians are paying attention and that the veil of confusion is lifted, even if it is just slightly, before we go to vote.
do you have a recommendation for a non-paywalled national news source for Canada? I agree with you that CBC’s reporting has holes.
what do you think Papa G’s BEEN doing???
he’s already doing what you say he oughta’ do; he’s doing the global version of what Marina Abramović did when she looked into people’s eyes and soul one at a time.
we’re all In Play… can’t you tell?
PatriciaT, wait and see!
Scotlyn, well, I was never much of an Aristotelian anyway. To the extent that he’s correct, he neglected the fact that someone “by nature intended” to have a managerial position won’t necessarily get it.
Cary, hmm! Fascinating. This is among other things a great example of Joseph Tainter’s theory of complexity as a cause of collapse — going to the further complexity of 5G is having negative returns on the far more necessary job of weather prediction.
Mark, I’m looking forward to it. We’re well above high water here, in a house that’s weathered more than one hurricane already — and now they’ve moved the expected landfall to the middle of Long Island. If it makes one more shift westward New York City’s going to face a direct hit from a Cat 1 hurricane.
Owen, I bet — but when Biden keels over or becomes too senile to read a speech, she’s going to be stuck with it.
Ecosophian, Fortune could do the specific kinds of workings she did because there were many hundreds of well-trained occultists in Britain in her time and she could rely on existing networks to draw them together. I’m in a different situation — and so have chosen a different approach…
Ian, I’m going to have popcorn going when you and your countrypeople head to the polls!
Erika, ssshhh! 😉
It was “survival or the richest” by Douglas Rushkoff
Well worth the read. “For them, the future of technology is really about just one thing: escape.”
They know that all of their wealth and power are going to be inadequate to fix things or even provide a bolt hole when things go bad, but they are unwilling to make the changes that might afford them some personal security because those changes are to their lifestyle, not simply objects for sale. If they could just buy a solution they would.
It is a bitter irony that 17 years ago I engaged in an intense argument with some Americans. I described exactly what has happened, exactly when it would happen. Their shrieks and howls and denunciations caused me to leave said online group, but not before I said my piece. I was right.
There was no objective in Afghanistan other than to “git them terr’ists” and there was no victory condition and so there could be only one possible end to the war. It might have been possible if the goal had been to completely conquer the place and install an American regime, but that does not comport with our current self-image. I wonder if much of the PTSD isn’t from a deeper knowledge that this time “our” side were not the ‘good’ guys. I do feel for the soldiers who, having suffered from the extreme stress of a combat zone more intense than the Western Front, (i.e. no rest and no relief from possible sudden attacks, where the armies of the Entente spent 2 days and nights in reserve, 2 in the front line, and 4 days in the rear echelon out of range of the guns) now must deal with the heart-wrenching knowledge that it really was all in vain: we just lost.
Like you, I can see patterns of history unfolding according to the same patterns that have been before and will happen again. Confident claims that ‘it’s different this time’ based on the myth of American Exceptionalism and our awesome technology get repeated almost as a defensive mantra, but only by the best-and-brightest, the wealthy, educated (or at least according to the textbooks written by their professors), and somehow the most gullible. Much of their beliefs have lost touch with the ground. Glossy magazines puff up the latest innovations and styles as if everything is just continuously getting better and better. And yet, affordable housing is a major election issue. The historical maltreatment of indigenous children is a flash-point, as is the make-up-your-own-definition of “colonialism” and “cultural appropriation” and “cultural genocide”. We have millions suddenly unemployed because of virus restrictions, we have small businesses which were struggling against the high-tech, just-in-time big-box stores going under at an astounding rate (the whole consumer economy was a house of cards and a cough blew it down). But still the magazines directed to the elite are full of pieces lauding the latest innovations and shiny new technologies. Even the Green Party is pushing new Green Technology in their vision of the future (I walked away when they began to become social justice warriors instead of rational beings).
Still looking for a farm in the region when I can go train horses. Meanwhile, I’ll stay and eat at the table, because there I can accumulate the skills I’ll need when it finally does fall, but that won’t happen just yet. Cracks in the foundations, yes, but they aren’t going to crumble for a while.
Bogatyr, I disagree with JMG about the extent to which the USA will splinter. We for sure won’t hold on to Hawaii, Alaska and the tropical territories, and there are likely to be no go tracts throughout the country, but that has been the case throughout most of our history. I think we are headed back to Hatfield and McCoy times. BTW, we took the Sussexes off your hands. Here slightly bizarre celebrities are a dime a dozen. You are welcome.
As for the Trump admin would have handled the pull out better, that is the same admin which, after cat 5 Hurricane Maria wiped out everything standing on Puerto Rico, couldn’t get a navy hospital ship from Norfolk, VA, to the Caribbean for about a month, as I recall. Wealthy Puerto Riquenos like Jennifer Lopez and a famous baseball player were chartering planes and flying the injured to the mainland for medical treatment.
“Info, once the habit of obedience to institutions breaks down — and it’s breaking down now, of course — personal leadership is the only kind that counts, and that requires leading the charge.”
Indeed. Once a King was a first among equals. Kings were themselves Knights once. I pray for this day to come again.
Re: JMG, #42,
Re: your answer to Naej-Nieviv. My question, I’m embarrassed to admit, may well seem flippant, but really isn’t, it’s just a tangent. So: what typewriter(s) do you use or like? (No offense taken if you don’t put this up.)
Ah, here it is (the Douglas Rushkoff piece):
“Erickson, sure, if you don’t mind having an armed band blow you to smithereens to get your precious metals, or kidnap your family members and torture them, starting with the children, in order to get you to crack and hand your stash over. Learning productive skills is much more useful, and much safer.”
Indeed. Either as a Man one is useful to armed Men who will guard you or join the local armed forces providing security. Unlike during Frontier America being lone farmsteads isn’t a winning strategy against invading armies.
@Teresa, John Michael Greer
“Teresa, yep. Our managerial aristocracy has become decadent precisely because it’s arranged to shelter itself from any possibility of failure.”
We can also call to mind how the Jan 6 breach into the Capitol building on a guided tour made elected leaders very afraid compared to the BLM Antifa riots that never reached where they themselves live.
Likewise the Aristocracies of Old like Julius Caesar had very loyal Men who are part of a very well oiled War machine coming back from Gaul crossing the Rubicon after his victories over them.
Leaders that risk it themselves and have the personalities to be able to manage those situations will have far more people falling all over themselves to be loyal to them.
“Communication is possible only between equals.” Wow. I have been chewing on that one for about 24 hours. It explains so much, not only in the failure of the creme-de-la-creme to see what’s going on, but also among the strata at work. Machiavelli advised his ‘Prince’ to select one courtier who could tell the Prince the truth, with no consequences–and to occasionally change which person it was. I wonder if any Prince tried it, and did it work?
My wife and I moved to Canada from the US in 2015, partly because we had family connections at the time that made it easier, and partly when it became apparent that human rights had been bypassed in the workplace, and anti-trust laws in the US were no longer being enforced. It is likely that we moved just in time– It has been extremely difficult to get the paperwork done for a move from the US to Canada. I am not sure what would happen if we tried to start moving here now.
That said, if you are a US Expat, it is becoming more difficult each year to satisfy the increasing regulatory burden from the US. Even if we were to become Canadian citizens (for example), we would be required by the US to continue to file US tax returns for ten more years, and pay taxes on them if applicable.
Best of luck to all of us in the coming turmoil– I am definitely getting some beans and rice laid in, and hope to learn how to use a pressure-canner this Fall.
A random fact: I’ve just found out that the 19th of August is Independence Day in Afghanistan, marking the date in 1919 when the British Empire signed the Treaty of Rawalpindi and left. Did anyone else know that? I certainly haven’t seen it mentioned in the media. It adds an extra frame for current events.
@BXN #255 & bei dawei #256
I got curious and I think I found the interview you’re talking about: https://onezero.medium.com/survival-of-the-richest-9ef6cddd0cc1
Thanks for mentioning it!
From the article:
“The future became less a thing we create through our present-day choices or hopes for humankind than a predestined scenario we bet on with our venture capital but arrive at passively.
“This freed everyone from the moral implications of their activities. Technology development became less a story of collective flourishing than personal survival. Worse, as I learned, to call attention to any of this was to unintentionally cast oneself as an enemy of the market or an anti-technology curmudgeon.”
I’ve seen this too. I’ve seen powerful people talking like they have no influence over the future, and when I’ve pointed that out and suggested they might take action to affect the future, they’ve reacted like I scared them or something. I didn’t understand why–I guess they may have thought I was “an enemy of the market” or something?
An engaging description of the situation echoing many of the themes here, in the Tablet:
@ Mark Grable re “Elizabeth II, and another Sovereign head of state (in exile) HH the 14th Dalai Lama may not be functional pivots of history, but they may be a pivot on some esoteric level.”
The Dalai Lama, obviously. And the Queen has been the heart and soul of England for a long, long time. When she goes, the effect on British morale will be shattering. Whether people will then turn their hopes to Will and Kate or not is a good question, because Charles may live a good long time, and Camilla is not popular.
The Globe and mail; some articles are paywalled when you start getting into specialized information like investing. I don’t see any national news articles paywalled on their website right now. It is ‘not supposed’ to be biased though it’s not as biased as the CBC, it isn’t directly funded by the government anyway.
National Post; run by Conrad Black or ‘Baron Black of Crossharbour’ as he’s called in some circles. Over the top publication but one of the few in Canada that isn’t left leaning.
BBC; British publicly funded news is doing a better job currently of reporting on Afghanistan than the CBC, no paywalls, definitely biased to the left. They do report on Canadian national news through in their US and Canada section. I often pair these articles with Russia today to get a good idea of what the middle ground is.
There are other networks as well like Global News, CTV, Canadian Press. I don’t usually read those publications but I understand they’re kind of all the same.
The perspectives put forth on this blog are a great filter for what passes as news I think.
If there’s another thing that Afghanistan demonstrates, it’s that in “Jihad vs McWorld”, Jihad has won and McWorld has suffered a humiliating defeat. In fact, I’d go ahead and say that if you’re the smart ambitious political type, you probably shouldn’t run for office or do anything that has to do with government at all – you should go into whatever the popular religion that your region likes to worship. Or start a new religion that resonates with the populace.
I’m not sure this is a good thing but considering the mess that McWorld keeps making of things, it can’t be any worse at this point.
@ TJandthebear re “Dating apps have resulted in 80% of women dating less than 20% of men…”
80% of *the women*? Or “80% of the really, really HOT women?” Which advertising and porn have conditioned them to see as “women” – desirable women to go after – and the Plain Jane’s dismissed as out of the running because they’re not the ones you see in the ads? It makes a difference, you know.
And then, the attitudes some of the incels express would put off any woman who isn’t actively suicidal. Or a masochist.
Just a quick note on the Biden/Harris situation –
I imagine that The Powers That Be don’t want Harris to take over the presidency until early 2023. If Biden resigns and she takes over with less than two years left of his term, that would leaver her eligible to run for two full terms of her own. If she takes over before Biden serves two full years, she’s only eligible to run once on her own.
Now, does that make any practical sense? Of course not; Harris is wildly unpopular and will likely be even more so after she’s been in the presidential seat for a while. And it looks increasingly unlikely that Biden can manage to last through January 2023. (I think he’s declining even more rapidly than predicted – certainly it seems faster than I’ve seen a lot of other people with dementia go downhill.)
But I suspect that a resignation after two years was the plan. Remember, TPTB looooved Harris – she was pushed very heavily in the primary, and, after she failed to win any delegates, was installed into the VP slot anyway. Whoever has been behind the scenes running the Democratic party apparatus clearly desperately want President Harris in office, and likely for as long as possible.
Not saying it’s going to play out that way, just that I suspect that was the thought process/plan.
@Mark and JMG:
Here’s my personal experience of RI hurricanes and hurricanes* (hit us after they stopped being officially hurricanes).
Gloria (1985): A neighbor’s tree fell on our house and damaged it. We lost power for a short time but weren’t really affected because we had an old furnace which didn’t need electricity to turn on (RIP).
Bob (1991): A large limb from the other neighbor’s tree fell on our car and destroyed it.
BTW Gloria’s path and intensity seem similar to the currently predicted ones for Henri.
Floyd (1999): Hit west of us after downgrade to tropical storm, did extensive damage to beaches.
Irene (2011): Hit us during transition to extratropical. Power was out for a few days.
Sandy (2012): Hit us after transition to extratropical. A neighbor’s tree fell on our house and damaged it. Power was out for a week, which was no fun in the cold since we now had a newfangled furnace which, though not fueled by electricity, did require it to turn on. We discovered this new “feature” due to Sandy.
(Another example of increasing complexity and worsened basic function. This was intended as a safety feature but all it did was make us miserable during the power outage. Of course, the designers assumed there’d never *be* a power outage…)
In RI I expect less rain, but higher winds and worse storm surge, now that Henri is forecast to go west of us (unless it goes even further west, which it might). AIUI that’s what happens on the east side of a tropical storm. (https://colors-newyork.com/is-the-east-or-west-side-of-a-hurricane-worse/) The ground is already wet from the remnants of Fred, so I expect trees to come down (and power outages).
It’s late in the comment cycle, and this is a little OT, maybe. But I wanted to drop this data point, for you and anyone else here interested:
This lady is a professor at an IL university, and I read her to keep tabs on the latest academic insanity. She says her school’s library just purged, without notice, 80% of the humanities books in the library’s collection, and is destroying them. Not giving them away or selling them to raise money. Destroying them.
This worries me more than anything else that’s crossed my newsfeed in the last year.
@PatriciaT — talk about synchronicities! I just saw a podcast where the interviewee (a guy named Dave Smith) — just mentioned the gold standard move — and said “That’s why the wages of workers peaked in the early 70’s” — I had never made the connection — and here you are, noticing a similar trend…..
I have much to ponder (especially how long things can go on and on).
It occurs to me that online news bots (and search bots, ad bots, etc.), that it to say any software that makes “suggestions” or “recommendations” to you, precisely fits the role of Person B in the kind of unequal information exchange you describe. The user, of course, is person A. The bots are programmed to show you only what you want to see, as measured by what you show interest in by clicking or spending time reading or viewing. More accurately, they’re evolved by trial and error to attract your clicks or attention (not “everyone’s,” yours specifically) better than previous generations. Because that evolutionary process is a ruthless competition between versions, your choices reward and punish those bot algorithms as directly and effectively as any disappointed Empress can punish a chief minister.
Potemkin villages: they’re not just for heads of state or other clueless elites any more. Nowadays we each get to live in our very own.
This is proving to be something of a problem.
In an age of television it’s easy to hide what you don’t want people to see. Did you see this?
@methylethyl Many archives and academic libraries remain closed to the public. Their staff were some of the most vocal BLM supporters and Trump TDS affected in 2020. They seem to have shifted into full DEI (diversity equity and inclusion) and anti-racism mode and feel it is their duty to get rid of harmful materials.
In other words, I’m not surprised. The National Archives in DC is also implementing a DEI plan in a few weeks. They said they don’t plan on tossing any archival materials which I take to mean that archival materials will go missing shortly. I own a printed copy of the catalog last published in 1999 so I’ll be able to point to what is missing, but won’t be able to do anything about it other than point.
I’m relieved to hear you don’t think there will be a military imposed covid/vaccination restriction. Can move on to worrying about something else 😉
Our state went to masks for “unvaccinated” back in April or whenever that rule set in. In reality it meant people stopped wearing masks. I was at Costco to do a stock up run two weeks ago and it was 90% masks. Same store yesterday it was 40% masks.
I went maskless and none of the masked gave me a dirty look or said anything. Its very “live and let live” energy and I would love if we could keep that going.
My attitude – Do what you you feel you need to do to keep yourself healthy and shut up about it. But I felt that way about vegans, keto fanatics, and food “allergy” people too.
Have you been following the memes and trolling the Taliban has done against Biden? It’s really amazing. It’s not against the American people, just the administration. I’m left with an unexpected feeling of respect for them.
What do you think about Dave Smith making a presidential run? His message is one everyday working people could get behind. Michael Malice said he would be his Press Secretary. If the corporate press wasn’t destroyed by then, Malice would finish them off. And all the slimy policy shills.
My husband had the privilege of working for someone who was a policy writer in the Obama Whitehouse. That man went from graduate school to think thank to Whitehouse and then to private sector. He was the most clueless individual and the company moved him around several times to find somewhere he couldn’t cause damage. The stories my husband told of things he would say and the complete lack of ability to get anything done was so unbelievable it looked like a Candid Camera set-up.
@TJandTheBear #257: Yes, I did. That reeks of desperation. Elder’s no saint, but California is so far gone that the voters may decide to do a Hail Mary. After all, what have they got to lose?
if this link works, please share wherever/whenever on here if you WANT.
it’s my first unfinished mock up and i GIGGLED so hard!
i’m on a sewing bender to finish-
“Fortune could do the specific kinds of workings she did because there were many hundreds of well-trained occultists in Britain in her time and she could rely on existing networks to draw them together. I’m in a different situation — and so have chosen a different approach…”
Plus, who’s there to go to war against here? Our corrupt and decadent aristocracy aren’t a foreign power, they’re us.
Anyway, what ever you are doing is greatly appreciated. I’ll contribute in whatever small way I can, and hopefully it’ll be enough.
The thing is, you don’t really need the archdruid to organize a magical movement to preserve the republic. That’s a thing you can take on yourself by invoking the founders, national heroes, and whatever gods might be interested in aiding such a project. It might not be as fancy as Fortune’s magical battle for Britain, but the American version was always going to be a muddy insurgency from the sticks.
Plus, when you do it yourself you pretty much overcome the collective action dilemma from the word go.
Renaissance, I’m going to disagree about one thing — “gittin’ the ter’rists” was never more than an excuse. I know this is hard for anyone outside the US elite to understand, but members of that elite really do believe that everyone in the world wants to become a happy, subservient American liberal if only they can be freed from the grip of the evilly evil ideologies that make them think otherwise. The Bush II administration, drunk on the fantasy of transforming the Middle East into a collection of client states along the lines of post-WW2 Germany and Japan, seriously thought they could impose American values on the Middle East and make them stick. Iraq and Afghanistan were supposed to be the first targets; Iran was next, and from there, the rest of the region could be absorbed a few countries at a time. Drool-spattered idiocy? Sure, but remember these were people who seriously believed that reality was whatever they said it was. Nor could they cope when their scheme failed: we spent 20 years and all those dollars and lives on Afghanistan because nobody was willing to admit just how stupid the plan always was.
Info, true enough. The English word “king” — cyning in Old English — literally means “son of the kin.”
Lunar, I have a very nice Olivetti Lettera 22 portable, which I got for an absurdly low price. If publishers start accepting typed manuscripts again, I’m ready.
Info, the thing our current elites have forgotten is that you can’t expect loyalty from your subordinates unless you are loyal to them. If you treat them as though they’re disposable, as America’s managerial aristocracy does as a matter of course, they treat you the same way.
Emmanuel, it had the same impact on me when I first encountered it. It really does explain a lot!
Bogatyr, thanks for this.
Andy, many thanks for this! That’s a very thoughtful piece.
Owen, and now you know part of why I chose to be public about my religion from the beginning of my blogging career…
El, that’s quite plausible.
Cary, thanks for this. At this point we’ve been downgraded to tropical storm conditions over here in East Providence, and there are no trees too close to the place we live, so I’m not too worried. 😉
Methylethyl, this has been going on in university and public libraries for more than a decade. That’s why I put something about it into my novel The Shoggoth Concerto. Worrisome? You bet.
Walt, that’s why I use adblockers and stay away from websites that make recommendations!
Blue Sun, well, of course. I’m aware of the border situation, for whatever that’s worth.
Denis, it’s a good attitude! As for the trolling, I have indeed. Those guys have a sense of humor. As for Dave Smith, well, we’ve got a clown in the White House now, so why not?
Erika, it does indeed work. In more than one sense… 😉
Varun, thank you.
Sorry if I wasn’t clear. My point wasn’t the border situation itself, but that the mainstream TV stations have stopped covering it, according to a study cited in that article. Thus your average TV-watching American isn’t aware of the border situation.
Potemkin by omission, it seems to me.
Dear Mr. Greer and fellow Commenters:
I saw the following data point which i think is significant. The following link is to a BBC article that fact checks President Biden’s speech of Friday, August 20, 2021
It can be summarized as: “Liar, Liar, Pants On Fire”.
This is the BBC, a stalwart of the Mainstream Media. If they are questioning the narrative, the Potemkin Village is collapsing in front of everyone.
Ian Duncombe, The last time I tried to look at something in the Globe and Mail, it was paywalled, but it sounds like it’s worth another look. And then there are those others you mentioned. Thanks, I will be investigating.
Thank you. I had not previously plumbed much of the distinction between Aristotle and Plato, which has often been mentioned. I have got here by a roundabout route. 🙂
I will say this, though. What Hagbard’s Law highlights very powerfully is what *I* mean when I say I am in favour of “equality”.
And no, I am not talking about the common caricatures that build up around the word “equality” – eg. equality of outcome, or universal “sameness”.
What I am usually thinking about is something else. But, that something else does have a great deal to do with the fact that any way of organising things such that one person is *automatically* placed in a position over another, or that one person *by right* is placed in the charge of another, is going to lead to inadvertent problems that multiply.
For example: the lack of free flow in *essential* interpersonal communications highlighted by Hagbard’s law, raised here.
For example: the prevention of consequences of actions from teaching significant lessons, when they can be too easily shunted onto others.
For example: the divergence of common ground between sets of interests, such that eventually there are abysses – including abysses of understanding – that separate them.
And so on…
This, of course, may simply be an argument in favour of the more local and the smaller type of polity, in which (say) encouraging the free flow of communications, acknowledging the proper role of consequences in learning, and easily finding common places among one’s fellows, might reasonably lie within the aspirational reach of an ordinary person.
My mother was born near Barry, in South Wales ( her father didn’t speak a word of English until he was 13) and my father in Co Tyrone, N Ireland. I was born in England, due to my father’s RAF career. The Celts did a lot of the fighting in the British army in the past – and I think that is likely to continue, myself, for the same reasons it happened in the past.
I have a lot of happy memories of childhood holidays in Wales. Her culture and people are held close to my heart.
With regards to magic for protecting the US, I read over on JMG’s Dreamwidth site about some people invoking Columbia for help.
JMG, would it be wise of me to to get involved in a group like praying to Columbia for help with less than a year of magic under my belt? Is Columbia an egregore, or is she something greater, perhaps a god that lived here before the Europeans?
If I get your ok, I would be willing to take part in a group that prays to Columbia.
Varun, you hit the nail on the head. Many of our problems are here simply because people did not practice their civic duty and act as an important check on the powers running this country. We have become complacent because everything seemed to be working and we could go on with our distractions of entertainment, sports and taking pictures of our food to post on Instagram.
I am heartened to see all the videos of people standing up against school boards with their critical race theory courses and also against city councils with their Covid policies. If this keeps up, things will be just fine. Remember, Texas built a gold depository about ten years ago, North Dakota has its own bank and several states have said that they will ignore unconstitutional executive orders (but have not yet done so, as far as I know.) I think the momentum is gaining strength. We thrive best when we are less centralized. This will also lessen the need for secession between “blue” and “red” states.
For quite a few years, I and my partner (since gone to Dreamland) earned quite a fine extra income vacuuming up high quality books discarded by rural and small town libraries in Michigan and reselling them on ebay and Abebooks, etc. About seven or so years ago, that market had reached its saturation point and (I believe) just with those books from “insignificant” libraries. The process has continued apace for well over twenty years, perhaps more. Most of the books I acquired that way that I kept for myself are in storage, which I keep paying the fees for in hopes that someday I can either use them or pass them on properly. Made my blood boil. But you have to have been paying attention to have learned about it before the current stage of the dissolution of the West. Quick, this process ain’t. Just too damn fast.
“Which gods to we pray to in this case, which spirits will actually help us hold our country together? Regards, Varun”
I have Lady Columbia and her sister Liberty in my altar space. I address her asking she uphold freedom of religion in this country, especially, since that was one of her founding principles. I’m not interested in living under Christian Taliban rule, either.
@TJandtheBear and @Patricia Mathews
@TJ is correct about the dating app thing. There was an excellent book by the founder of the OKCupid dating site a few years ago conducting a deep dive data analysis of the millions and billions of messages exchanged on his platform using anonymized but otherwise perfectly accurate data about real world behaviour (ie, not self-reported survey answers etc).
There were many interesting conclusions in the book, but one of the main highlights he conclusively proves is the point TJ makes about 80% of the women only being interested in the top (as measured by popularity) 20% of men, leaving the “bottom” 80% of men to fight over 20% of women – ie, basically nothing.
This was NOT the case the other way around. 80% of the men did not focus on only the top 20% of the women. Of course the prettiest women at the “top” got more messages and more attention, but men tended to message women all down the scale fairly evenly – that incredibly sharp dropoff in female interest between the “top” men and “the rest” simply didn’t exist when looking at male interest in women (note: not the “incels” or losers vs the rest – this is not about the “losers” or the bottom 10% getting nothing – it’s about the top 20% of men vs the rest – for all practical purposes, the “average” guy who isn’t particularly good looking or charming or famous but has a decent job and would be a good husband is in the same boat as the incel in online dating.)
I want to be clear here – of course (almost) all the men would have liked to date a Hollywood actress (or whatever their ideal was), just like all the women would have liked to date a famous sports star or Hollywood star or someone out of their “league”. This is true for both sexes – of course everyone wants the best, and wants someone out of their league even if they can’t get them.
The difference is in actual behaviour – the men may want the Hollywood actress, but they are quite realistic and pragmatic in terms of who they actually message online. The women are much much more likely to hold out for the “top”, even if not an actual Hollywood star – they are much much less likely to respond to an average man *even if they are average themselves*.
As for the reasons why that is kind of a complicated point and this post is already long – it has to do with the drives of evolutionary biology, the impact of social media and online dating and increasing the size of the functional dating pool etc.
The point: Most Washington DC programs over the last 40 years or so have been Potemkin policy, meant to create the appearance of action without doing anything about the problems they supposedly address, because addressing those problems would require the people who profit most from USA society to settle for less than everything they want. As a result Americans live in a Potemkin nation, a land of glossy facades and false fronts covering the stark but unmentionable reality of a society in freefall.
The comment: Obviously the USA government has been captured. By whom? By those who profit the most from American society. Why? So that they can keep on getting everything they want. How? Simple, they bought both parties (and the media to boot) thus ensuring that whichever one is in power it will produce policies which will benefit them while only pretending to address problems of ordinary Americans. So the government stopped being of, by and for the people and instead it became of, by and for those who profit the most from USA society.
Makes one wonder what’s the election related fuss all about? (Since the elite wins and the people lose whatever the outcome.) But of course, there are good reasons for that. (If heated elections were detrimental to the ruling class they would make sure that it becomes boring.) One, as per divide and rule maxim, the people need to be divided so that they can be ruled. Two, the elections give to the people the illusion of control, as if they can determine or influence gov. policies, thus preventing them from organizing rebelions, from seeking ways to overthrow the government. There’s no point overthrowing gov. which you yourself elected, right? You don’t need to conquer power if it already belongs to you, right? Thus both parties are Potemkin parties, the elections are Potemkin elections and the USA democracy is Potemkin demokracy.
The capture of USA government is unfortunate, but hardly surprising. Throughout history the capture of government by a small minority or private interest is a norm, and a functional democracy is a rare exception.
Those who captured USA government are not a secret organisation but rather it’s a class. They don’t have a plan of how to capture and keep the government but rather it happens by itself, as a social process propelled and directed by a network of feedbacks. This process is probably the one which most strongly influences economic living conditions of Americans, but it is not the only process happening. In particular there is one political process which demonstrates the amazing vitality and power of American democracy – the avalanche of marijuana legalizations. How they spread with democratic legitimacy on the local state level in brazen opposition to the top federal level is truly something that can happen only in America. Although marijuana prohibition was and is a monstrously harmful and lying absurdity in plain sight, it was usefull to various financial and political interests. It is also a business worth billions of dollars which was determined by law to be a tax-free monopoly of organised crime. So wrestling it back to the people is an astonishing achievement of democracy.
So, although it is possible that the Potemkin America of today will disintegrate tomorrow, it is not a solution to trust in. One, it might happen in 50 or 100 years, too long to wait. Two, the chances are that among the states which would replace the USA a decent democracy would again be an unstable and threatened exception. Three, once the USA breaks there’s no guarantee that it will ever be put together again. So don’t go for that lightly. Four, instead of giving up on the USA perhaps the American people should fight to reclaim it, to take it back. Five, in any case, democracy needs to be worked upon, for now and for future, for the USA and for anything that might replace it. New checks and balances need to be found to prevent future captures by the rich class. The current system of representative parliamentary democracy has been constructed in and for the circumstances of 250 years ago, when messages travelled with the speed of pony express. Surely that can be improved upon. We need democracy 2.0.
I hear there is serious talk of another stimulus check….. surely these checks are the Potemkin Economy on parade???? JMG what do you think?
Hi John Michael,
Perhaps, but I’m not entirely sure that there is that level of self awareness underlying the binding. What I’m observing is that it manifests to me as: “if I just believe hard enough, do the right things, and say the right things, me and mine will be looked after.” The thing is, they’re wrong, for what a system can do to one, it can do to any or all.
The rural areas are now locked down again – and there are no cases anywhere near where I live. The city is in a 9pm to 5am curfew. All very strange. In the city of Melbourne there were some riots yesterday. As a casual observation it was less of a protest, and perhaps more of a melee. One bloke didn’t make any pretense, he just went straight in for a fist fight with the constabulary. The footage is very telling.
It is worth recalling that many Australian military personnel were also killed and injured in the two decades long war. And to sum it all up, we are now back where the whole mess began – perhaps at a lower level, because the forces now in control of that war torn country, are probably embolden to a level they weren’t before. And your countries enemies are our countries enemies – and I have no doubt they were watching the utter inability to even stage an orderly retreat. There will be hell to pay for this display of sheer impotence.
Didn’t the last Oil crisis kick off around the end of the Vietnam war?
I just got this breaking news, and apologies if anyone else has posted this before me (I will respond to a couple of you when I get some time later today.) Facebook has declared that the “Disinformation Dozen” narrative manufactured by the “Center for Countering Digital Hate” is faulty and not based on any evidence. See this https://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/breaking-disinformation-dozen-faulty-narrative-no-evidence-says-facebook-despite-1?utm_campaign=Daily%20Newsletter%3A%20BREAKING%3A%20%22Disinformation%20Dozen%22%3A%20A%20%27Faulty%20Narrative%27%20With%20No%20Evidence%2C%20Says%20Facebook%2C%20Despite%2016%2C000%20News%20Headlines%20%28WZJy3e%29&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Weekly%20Newsletter&_kx=EzP-28P7uR8sWdezMK213tQUHuunqH9ppbaNalCjv8k%3D.K2vXAy and note that it is mostly to do with the topic that belongs elsewhere this week, which I won’t mention.
Since Facebook is calling it a “false narrative” that CCDH has put out, the exact words used in an anti-terrorism bulletin put out by the Department of Homeland Security this year, this may be significant.
I’ve done some poking about. Every article I tried in the Globe and Mail is paywalled. But I took a look at some of the other sources, and they were interesting enough I will almost certainly do so again in the lead up to the election. Thanks for that.
@Patricia Mathews #278
80% of *the women*? Or “80% of the really, really HOT women?”
It is actually 80% of all women chasing 20% of men — there’s widely available statistics on that. The “hot” women are only chasing after the top 1%. That’s why marriage rates are historically low and divorce rates (among those few that actually do marry) are historically high.
POTEMKIN AUTOMOBILES !!
POTEMKIN RACISTS !!
Ironically enough, for people who professed to hate Neoconservatism’s guts, the Obama era left would become enamored with its own version of Neoconservatism: “Responsibility to Protect”, or as it was known in the world of International Relations scholars, “R2P”.
The Responsibility to Protect doctrine held that state sovereignty only exists so that states can protect the security and property of their citizens. When a state commits genocide against some portion of its own population, or abuses its citizens in some other egregious way, R2P doctrine holds that the state is misusing its sovereignty and therefore loses it. The “lost” sovereignty devolves on the “international community”, which now has not only the right, but the moral duty to military intervene in the state to stop whatever bad things its doing.
R2P was first formulated in the early 2000’s, and by the mid 2010’s your typical starry-eyed, cosmopolitan, idealistic Liberal who “Just wants to make the world a better place” had (if they paid attention to the IR field) totally bought into it. Arguements for R2P were usually presented completely in moral terms-if you opposed it, you usually got accused of just not caring about victims of Third World genocides, and quite often your debating partner would imply that the reason for your lack of concern was because most of those victims aren’t white. If you pointed out that R2P, taken literally, would oblige the US to get involved in dozens of conflicts in the developing world, some of them extremely complicated and intractable-well, PEOPLE ARE DYING! What’s so complicated about that!
When Obama became president, a lot of R2P advocates-including Samantha Power, one of its most vocal proponents in academia-got prominent positions in his administration, and proceeded to start reshaping American foreign policy according to their idealistic vision. The first target was Libya, and at first it went almost exactly how the R2P crowd wanted it to go: Ghadaffi was “killing his own people”, so the US went to the UN Security Council, which judged him unfit to rule, and then the militaries of the US and Europe worked together to overthrow him and thus stop his evil deeds. Of course, the new government that replaced Ghadaffi very quickly fell into chaos and civil war, but the R2P advocates simply argued that we should have put more boots on the ground and taken more control of the situation, and then turned to their next target, Syria.
And here, things began to fall apart. The chaos in Libya, and memories of the Iraq debacle, made the US government unwilling to forcefully intervene to overthrow Bashar al-Assad the way the R2P lobby wanted us to, but they were able to get the US to start funneling money into an assortment of insurgency groups. Of course most of these in turn got creamed by ISIS, which thus got a lot of American military hardware, but the US continued the same strategy, trying to make a Liberal “Third Force” in Syria that would oppose both al-Assad and ISIS-and eventually, they would settle on secular Kurdish militias as the closest thing.
And then, Putin forcefully intervened in Syria in support of al-Assad. And finally, the hopes of the R2P lobby were dashed-there was no way the US was going to risk a war with Russia over Syria, and even the most starry-eyed, idealistic R2P scholar or State Department bureaucrat had to concede that fact. This, incidentally, is what would lead the R2P crowd, and the Liberal foreign policy establishment generally, to pioneer the rabid hatred of Putin that’s become standard in left-wing circles-he’d ruined their dream of a war-crime-free world under UN (and implicitly, US) hegemony, and they were furious.
As to the present, well, I’m pretty sure Samantha Power is a Deputy Secretary of Something in Biden’s State Department, but I haven’t heard much serious advocacy of R2P, or the type of frequent humanitarian interventions it would involve, recently-and after the Afghanistan debacle, we probably won’t for a while.
some of us aren’t chasing anybody. Just saying…
Small isn’t necessarily a big amount better, politywise, but one advantage is that it tends to have smaller problems. I was able to participate in an Odawa (Ottowa) Indian Council Fire week (really ten day) in northern Michigan. Basically a family/village corporate board meeting, or a safe place to raise concerns and grievances. I observed that it sometimes took members(who knew each other intimately and really well) YEARS to find a way to say what was really on their minds. It was both inspiring and disheartening.
People crazily persist in being people even in small self-governing communities. They hold grudges, and also don’t speak their concerns directly to the people who have given rise to them, resulting in all kinds of devious and backwards self-defeating behaviors until the issues are addressed. Often discovering the reason for the grudges previously held aren’t real. Council fires don’t happen every year, they happen only when a sufficiently well and widely respected elder calls for one. The good news is that eventually many things are worked out. The bad news is that a lot else isn’t. There are all kinds of speech taboos in their community of course, but they are well known. Amazing. Thank you, grandpa Roland.
What I’m saying is to echo what others have said here: we have to downsize our polity, but bear in mind that with that we also have to be prepared to live that out with our own skin in the game, which means downsizing our expectations about what our polity can do (and how fast) even then. Just sayin’. What with the evidence of an eventual disintegration of the kinds of public life we’ve grown used to shown to us by ‘stan and the Potemkin goodies. I’ll get off my soapbox here. Really appreciate all the mind, experience and insight this forum offers.
Blue Sun, well, of course not! They didn’t say a word about “children in cages!” when it was Obama who was doing it, after all.
Cugel, that’s pretty impressive. As I see it, the chickenhawks in the British elite are apoplectic that we’re not willing to stay in the Middle East for their benefit, and the BBC (their soapbox) is flogging poor senile Joe as a way of expressing their rage and spite. You’re right, though, that it’s shortsighted of them — how many people will start asking hard questions about their other pet narratives?
Scotlyn, fair enough.
Jon, yes, you can do that, but be very sure you aren’t being lured into something shady. It’s quite common for corrupt groups to parade around some seemingly harmless thing like that, and then try to draw recruits into something else.
Clarke, thank you for doing that.
Goran, no, that’s not “obvious” at all. Political corruption does not by definition mean that some nefarious group has “captured” the goverrnment. It does happen, you know, that politicials just become corrupt…
Austin, they’re frantically trying to bribe the electorate. The whole thing smacks of extreme desperation.
Chris, you may well be right. Watching the news from Australia gives me the very unusual experience of thinking that, bad as it is, my government isn’t quite that crazy.
Oilman2, oh my. Larry Elder can now annihilate them by pointing out that the reason the LA Times hates him so much is that he refuses to be the white establishment’s house n*****.
Tolkienguy, they didn’t hate Neoconservatism at all. Obama Democrats were Neoconservatives with a micron-thin layer of liberal spraypaint. R2P was their fig leaf.
From Tolkienguy at #308:
….”there was no way the US was going to risk a war with Russia over Syria”….
Had the Hildabeast been elected in 2016, I’m afraid there was a high likelihood that this is exactly what would have happened. She was, after all, advocating the US creating a “no fly” zone in Syria, even while Russian jets were pounding the ISIS Orcs.
Yes, it is quite common for people to experience tinnitus as a result of excessive EMR exposures. Our ears are designed to channel soundwaves into the middle ear, and presumably do similarly with electromagnetic waves. One researcher has suggested an experiment with EMR-blocking earphones to provide people relief. The worst tinnitus I have experienced was working on a laptop with a refrigerator on the opposite side of the wall in front of me. It sounded like rapid Morse code. Where I used to sit to use my computer there was electrical wiring on my left side and I couldn’t escape exposure to that. I thought the tinnitus that resulted from that would be permanent, but it seems to be nearly gone now. My current situation is better for low frequency radiation, but much worse for radiofrequency radiation, so it seems the former is more likely to cause it, and I heard just this past week from one researcher that it is the bundling of a wide range of frequencies in modern telecommunications transmissions, from the roughly 10 Hz Wi-Fi pulsing to various modulations and the GHz carrier frequency, that is responsible for the tinnitus observed. You might be able to recover somewhat if you look into your exposure to low frequency radiation.
Another really common condition that tips people off to their own sensitivity is insomnia. Sleeping well in a different room or after taking someone’s advice and turning off gadgets can be persuasive.
My big tip-off was immune dysfunction, but I had been experiencing occasional sudden vertigo for a few years before that. I had been considering getting a cellphone at that point, but never did.
Regarding Pygmy Cory’s question and the responses regarding Japan, I think everyone has made good points. Regarding the Yamato Dynasty, that’s the Emperor’s family. How much control they have over Japan is a matter of controversy. My impression is quite a lot but not as much as I hear discussed from overseas sources.
Because the role of the Emperor is mostly religious, criticism is taboo here. The other foreign Shinto priestess in Japan, from Australia, made the mistake of criticizing the Emperor while speaking as a priestess invited to talk at the Meiji Jingu shrine, which I turned down as I didn’t know enough then (and she obviously didn’t either). The upshot of that was retribution so broadly directed that she never recognized the fact that she was the cause of it, but a group of about 50 of us had to sort of work off the sin together and we still face restrictions. Foreigners, I’m afraid, are like a bull in a china shop. The Emperor is considered the unifying force of Team Japan, and everyone recognizes that his life and the lives of everyone around him are not easy. If they still lead Japan, it is because they are widely perceived to be contributing to the general welfare of the citizens.
My impression of Japan is that it has managed an admirable degree of democracy in the past, though that was always clearly under the control of, we speculate, the CIA. The media seem to be divided between a pro-US faction and an anti-US one, with the pro-US given prime-time access.
For about 250 years prior to the Meiji Restoration, the Emperor (and presumably the imperial clan) had no power outside of rubberstamping whatever the military leaders ordered, and my impression is that aside from being more publicly visible due to TV, that is the current situation as well.
Because very few alive now were even born during the Meiji period (they’d be 110 or so), I don’t have any direct insight, but it was typical for a samurai family to lose all of its assets in the early years because they were suddenly called upon to adopt capitalism. The former fourth-class citizens of the merchant families rose to the top. It was a time of idealism and emulation of the west and its ideals, especially those of Germany and secondarily Britain, whose discipline they admired. That was the Victorian era then.
What led a military clique (perhaps among the Imperial clan–I don’t know) to dominate Japan politically prior to WWII was a victory over Russia a few years prior to WWI.
After the war, I hear the people were delighted at the prospect of democracy, and went straight out and voted for candidates of their choice, including women, only to find out rather soon that it was a sham democracy. Politics plays very little of a role in what happens here. There was 80% opposition to the States Secrecy Act, which was passed under pressure from the US in 2014. About twenty years ago when a junior bureaucrat shredded the records of pension payments by millions of hard-working citizens, who were then left with no or vastly decreased pensions, that was perceived to be in support of the war on Iraq. Also, they are still diligently carrying water for the global Empire with regard to the topic that belongs elsewhere this week.
JMG: Sure, but remember these were people who seriously believed that reality was whatever they said it was.
That was regarding Bush II and the neocons, but exactly the same is true of the woke. It seems to me that this is something that keeps popping up in your comment threads: the nature of the real division in the Anglosphere, and it’s not Left vs Right. On the one hand, those who believe that Inner Reality is dominant: if you want something hard enough, reality will conform (and if it doesn’t, must be made to). On the other, those who believe that External Reality is dominant, and if it isn’t what you want, it’s up to you to adapt. Of the two, the former have been in the driving seat for the last two decades.
Or perhaps I’m wrong, and it’s something else, of course.
“What I am usually thinking about is something else. But, that something else does have a great deal to do with the fact that any way of organising things such that one person is *automatically* placed in a position over another, or that one person *by right* is placed in the charge of another, is going to lead to inadvertent problems that multiply.”
Its a feature of human behavior and our far greater agency or individualism compared to ants and termites. That hierarchy becomes necessary to have the group as a unity.
Dunbar’s number of only knowing 150 people at a time makes that inevitable.
@Andy, @John Michael Greer
“An engaging description of the situation echoing many of the themes here, in the Tablet:
So far no ruling class managed to remain in the wilderness whilst ruling over a civilization. Avoid it like the plague as much as possible. Whilst letting the wilderness experience keep them as hardy as possible.
Seems to explain why the Golden Horde remained the longest out of all the sections of the Mongol Empire.
But then again Empire is a fools errand in the end. Better to focus building up the Nation whilst keeping oneself disciplined especially if you are a Man.
Its like going to the gym. You have to keep going to keep yourself sharp. Just like those who are in the field most of the time are the most honed.
6 days of work and of regular fasting. 1 day of feasting. Rinse repeat.
Hi John and friends,
So I have been having a think about the latest situation over the past week. All I can say is – it is one huge Afghanistan fest. Non stop coverage which is either blaming Biden or coming to the realisation that Western civilisation is on the path of irreversible decline. It reminds me of the non-stop news coverage back in 2001 of September 11th or Afghanistan.
However it is all falling into place, just as I predicted. This is the huge psychological version of Chernobyl to the West. This really is the event that is causing the entire population to lose faith in the current trajectory of the West.
The big question is though – where is this all going to lead? It seems the main talking heads that want to reverse this decline also espouse very typical right wing values. “Gay marriage bad, too much immigration, no transgender in schools, political correctness is evil, our white majority is dying out”, etc people. It does make me wonder if the West can decline into simple non-intervenionist states or if in the long run with its current liberal values or if people will blame liberal policies and institutions as helping to destroy the West and advocate a return back to the 1950s as a way to solve societies ills? It is a very, very good question.
I was also reading about Jacques Attali and his famous “a brief history of the future.” He did predict that the American empire would die out but be replaced by a polycentric world of naion states. However, he also predicts that globalisation will carry on regardless and the whole world building some kind of global mono civilisation of global nomads who settle where they please, leading to one huge caste system on a global scale of a wealthy elite, the “middle class” IT workers and the poor who start rebelling over ethno-nationalist/traditionalist concerns.
My own thoughts on Attali is that he got it mixed up. The global nomad world was very much in place under the American empire. The global IT caste firmly established during this time. I think the collapse of the empire is not going to lead to more globalisation but actually less. A lot less.
To be fairly honest, all of the talk I hear these days of the future vary between countries. In the West, it is about break ups, ethno states, farming communities and in general rebuilding from the ashes. Many actually are welcoming this as they want something new that actually benefits them in the long run. Russia, it is all about being an individual, working hard to make your own money, taking destiny into your own hands and basically being like Switzerland (which really annoys me – couldnt the Russian youth have actually paid closer to the Wests decline before jumping onto this stupid mindset? It is beggars belief).
So yeah, just my thoughts.
Interesting Chinese perspective on America:
Hmm, somehow when I saw the post title, my mind translated it into “Pokemon Nation”! Not knowing many details about Pokemon myself, I don’t know how to interpret that.
There is an interesting article on the Afghanistan situation in The Military Times. Basically, we made poor assumptions; despite our wonderful “…training (of) host nation forces in the importance of the rule of law and civilian control of the military” the civilian leadership was corrupt and deal making. The Taliban coerced civilian and military leaders to not resist the Taliban takeover. And if only the U.S. had anticipated the swift fall of the Afghan government, we (of course) would have evacuated all U.S. citizens before our military left, so darn those weak Afghan leaders!
Note the observation that “…there is a kind of circular firing squad within the U.S. government assigning blame for the Afghanistan debacle.” Just the phrase you’ve used before as describing what is happening among the intellectual left-wing. The article sides with the “blame the White House” contingent.
I was also thinking of praying to Columbia for the U.S. I also wondered if some invocation could be made to the Founding Fathers. I’m picturing the Capitol rotunda painting “The Apotheosis of Washington”, where Father George looks very protective of his nation
Columbia, along with several other deities, is pictured with Washington. Supplications could be made to all of them, perhaps?
From Maureen Dowd’s column of Aug 21, titled ” A ROUGH BEAST RETURNS:
” We didn’t know 9/11 was coming, even though we should have. We didn’t know Jan. 6 was coming, even though we should have. We didn’t know the Potemkin government in Afghanistan that we’d propped up for two decades would fall in two seconds, even though we should have.”
@ Clarke aka Gwydion – Thanks a million for that perspective on small polities. And yes, it accords with my experience in small groups. (Although I lack experience of such formal Council Fire type events as you describe, which sound good to me).
While it is CERTAINLY true that “smallness” of polity alone does not help communications flow, nor interests align, nor consequences to be consistently capable of teaching*, one might surmise that the added ingredient of wisdom, as distilled in elders, who are also known and respected within such a small polity, can be a very great help to all of these.
Still, it is practically certain that all of these “goods” are lost to the point of complete vanishing in large polities, which require the kind of layering and loss of substantive communications discussed here, to exist at all. And which, likely for the same reasons, seed their own inevitable downfalls the more layered (or “complex”) they become.
*What I mean by this is that a consequence can teach best when it falls upon the same person whose action caused it. Inequality has this characteristic, that some actors can act without directly suffering the consequences of their actions, while others suffer consequences that arise from actions they themselves did not take – and, crucially, when the direct connection between action and consequence is thus disrupted, it turns out that NEITHER the actor nor the sufferer is well placed to learn any lessons at all.
Trump had four years to get us out, and didn’t. At least he signed the agreement for May, which put the fire under Biden.
Trump also would not have gotten us out in a smoother, more competent way. It was always going to be totally crazy and incompetent. That’s where we are. Again, he could have proven it by doing it while president.
No one believed the US would actually get out. That’s why the withdrawal is such a kerfuffle, why it looks like we didn’t prepare or have a plan. President after president has been talked out of it, so no one believed Biden would go through with it.
Honestly, I think half-asleep (and surely with dementia) Joe Biden tripled down as a grumpy old man rather than yielding to the generals, and that unexpected miracle got us out of Afghanistan. I’ve been thanking the gods.
Looks like Henri might go right over Rhode Island. May you and Sara ride this one out safety.
If the eye, if it still has one, goes over Providence, then in the calm go outside and look for the rotating eye wall. It is quite an awesome sight. I saw one in Houston where I grew up and will never forgot it.
John of Red Hook
That’s a statistic from a dating app… so yeah maybe 20 % of men go on 80 % of the dates, but that’s not quite the same as what you’re saying. Also, dating apps just show a picture and bio, actual attraction has more to do with vibes, smells, personality, sense of humor… which don’t really translate super well onto a dating platform.
I was at one point a “nice guy” until I realized that self-pity is a huge turn off for women. Then I worked on myself and became more loveable, and I have a gorgeous partner who adores me (and before that, dated more than a few beautiful women.)
By the way JMG, great piece, as always.
I have not read all the comments, so please forgive me if this has already been mentioned.
Some people have commented on the difficulty of breaking up the US into regions due to the vast conservative land areas being laced with liberal ‘veins’. I don’t see this as a problem.
If the US breaks into regions, the existing red/blue, democrat/republican, liberal/conservative mindsets will quickly fade into irrelevancy. Mutually assured survival will become the order of the day. Country and city people will suddenly be face to face haggling in open air markets. Food will be traded for… what exactly? Diesel fuel? Ammunition? Old cans of insecticide? Extra clothing? Some sort of local scrip? Until regional currencies are established, barter will rule.
Greenback dollars will have about the same value as Confederate dollars did after the US Civil War. Without federal dollars most social safety nets will disappear. People depending on the federal payroll will be suddenly destitute. Once again, staying alive will depend on being productive in some way.
I have heard that in present day Alaska you have some of the most liberal people and some of the most conservative living side by side. They all tend to get along with each other, because of the harshness of the environment, they can’t afford not to.
Arguing over politics will eventually become another luxury we can no longer afford and no longer need.
@ Denis, JMG
Re policy writing and policy writers
To me that anecdote brings to mind the question of who _should_ be developing policies, in that case. Part of me (at least the part who wanted to be on city council) has seen that role as an important one, key to managing the ship of state. Is it that said role is not important, or is it that we’ve created a pipeline of incompetent professionals? If the latter, how does one properly train an effective policy-maker/developer?
Thank you for your wise council. I’m learning about your experiences with magical groups from other posts. I’ll stay away for the time being.
I’ve learned from your description of Fortune’s project during WWII and always pray for the best possible outcome for everyone involved.
“High numbers of sexually frustrated young males usually leads to violent unrest…”
– Though I think a good part of this angry potential is currently bound and diverted through
electronics, porn, games and junkfood and so on, including a most basic but persisting level of social guarantee for a roof over the head and nutrition in many parts of Europe, still.
These hobbies tend to make the young addicts weak and meek, which makes that demographic a harmless generation.
On the other hand, at least I know that many Arab new migrant families don’t own a computer other than a smartphone, and this new demographic contiues the historic trend of a poorer and poorer working class/service class, so plus tight apartments these bad habits of slouching and screen timing might take an end.
Especially if there may be more severe and enduring shortages of electronics and other components from China.
I can say for my big Central European city, that violence as such has done a certain shift, also on the country side.
When I was about 17 in 2005, I went to social gatherings of youths in the countryside in the near vicinity of a small rich city. They were like farmers boys with families that used to be lower class till the 1980s, until the value of their lands increased manyfold through a growth in tourism, international trade, and most of all urban and sub urban settlements.
These boys were still rather violent, but markedly different from their elders. The elders as I k now, like people now being 74, used to like to brawl at the inn. It was a competition, wild, sometimes accompanied by injury, but like a sport, not with ultimate malintent.
The next (my) generation of farmers boys (mostly working class then) already wore the expensive hip hop crap clothing from the USA and had expensive mobile phones. They brawled for territory, competition and status. Rather in contempt of their victims and adversaries.
My elder peers who were say 16 in 1991 tell me that in the 1980s in the city the young working class boys were in subcultures like punks, skinheads, football hooligans and the like and would brawl on. It was normal back then that as an adolescent, you would be slapped and optionally mugged now and then. However, rarely with any serious health consequence; a nuisance, but not extreme.
In my generation, I experienced some more violent muggings, there were cases often in the Newspapers around 2006 of youths beating someone to death in a rage.
I think this was markedly already a phenomenon of more than one shift … an aging of the populace with less youths, drifting apart of social classes, upsurge in influence of unhealthy modern habits, and here also the mental consequences.
Eventually it got a little quieter in the early 2010s, and by 2015, the next big shift occurred:
Violence has shifted from the center of society (formerly brawling among working class youth) to the new periphery, the New Middle Eastern and African Demographic that was installed in Europe rather swiftly at the time.
Since then, these peripheries show knifings and killings, while the former working class is either “rising” to lower middle class office jobs, or in some cases socially losing but due to the aging, infertile demographic it is, but silently and unspectacularily so.
So the center of society of lower to upper middle class has become super tame. My city that has always decidedly mixed rich and poor across districts to enable some form of coherence is now also forming and show new demarcation lines between the aging, infertile center and the periphery hot pots.
The demarcated public sphere is rather low on violence, and also still bigger than in more polarized cities,
while the bubbling violence has migrated to these new twilight zones.
Also, an strong shift towards overhang of young males over females, ie more young boys than girls pre 25
is quickly forming. Just look at the sex ratio of the Swedish City Uppsala.
Another anecdotal story to the whole topic of violent young men:
The PMC “communists” and other leftists always demonstrate against the anti-corona measures crowd.
“They are Nazis!” Hurr Durr.
I see an aging demographic of middle class or higher working class people losing their status and career,
hanging on to many of these rather alternative theories on the net where our Host has mentioned that might
have a method behind it and Id agree.
So very harmless, those lots.
But a *fraction* of the left has demonstrated against the turks in our cities south- the kurdish left, little bit more
serious than our PMC middle class hobby Marxists.
The Turks, completely out of control. Beating the police, throwing bricks, demolishing wildly.
THOSE are the kinds of people that college leftwards cannot demonstrate against. Try, and your physical health cannot be guaranteed by the police…
Far apart, those two worlds are;
I can imagine, that young male violence as you mentione may start surging from there.
On “80% of women pursuing 20% of men”
I think you misinterpret this quoted statistic because the quote omits the other side:
It shows that mens approval rating of women is on the other hand a rather flat bell curve.
(You can look this up: OK Cupid study on dating amongst others)
Which may mean that it is not incels pursuing only “hot” women (a common accusation in the debates of the past from the left ward spectrum), but the opposite: women pnly want the top most successful, best advertised guys while guys are much less picky.
That’s how I’d interpret this and how it is according to my experience.
A narrow focus on “hot women” is more the pick up artist style, mostly themselves rather opinionated men which tilt the pendulum to the other side, a mirror of the leftwards opinion, an extreme end reversed.
@Mary Bennet (#211): India declined to participate in China’s road building project because the two countries are bitter enemies. Their animosity first flared up in 1959 with China’s invasion of Tibet and India granting asylum to the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan refugees. Then there was the Sino-Indian War in October–November 1962 along their disputed Himalayan border. The border situation has been tense ever since and in recent years there have been major aggressions by the Chinese against Indian troops along the border. The last thing India wants is to facilitate the increase of wealth, power and influence of its main rival.
@JMG #311 A post on corrupt groups, how to recognized them and avoid them would be very useful. I was once a member of one. It took me from 1978 to 1982 to extricate myself. I wouldn’t want to go through that again. I wonder about what karmic stain might remain, and how to erase it.
On tinnitus: loud music will also cause it. I play violin. An unamplified violin right under the player’s ear is pretty loud. I experimented with an RF blocking knit cap to see if my tinnitus would be reduced. It wasn’t.
For those who are interested in how the men who spilled and left their blood in the Afghan hills actually feel, NCScout’s piece at AP is an outstanding example of how everyone knows they have been used and abused by the PMC.
Also note, they are looking forward not back and consider their time in theater as an extended training exercise for what comes next in the USA.
Americans aren’t cowards and outside of the deep blue cities, there is little reason to concern oneself with PMC mandates when local matters are much more important. The gentle shove will come soon enough because the PMC fools have already weakened already brittle structures from within. Jan 6 showed the uselessness of peaceful protests when dealing with the PMC. I’d much rather see a national divorce than a civil war but we’ll see.
Phil Knight @ 319 I read the brilliant article to which you linked.
I take the liberty of quoting a small snippet. he sees a society that only looks at social or spiritual or civilizational problems in terms of an evasive technological fix:
I would say that, contrary to popular belief, we Americans are not optimistic at all but we do tend to think that problems exist to be solved. American so called optimism was a Hollywood fantasy. I would say that we are not just individualists, but pragmatic individualists.
A couple more points: yet another complaint about how Americans treat their elders, of which I am one, BTW. We do not think that an honorable retirement means our parents should have to be unpaid babysitters and housekeepers. When I was raising two girls alone, I thought that was my job, not my parents’. I have known families where assets are considered common property and family comes first, and what that has meant in practice is that the most irresponsible family member soaks up the lion’s share of money and time, and prevents the advancement and personal development of the more responsible and hardworking members.
As for Allan Bloom’s complaints, The USA isn’t Europe west. The subcontinent which produced the Western Tradition also provoked two world wars which we had to go in and clean up after, so it is not at all surprising that we would be looking for intellectual and cultural inspiration elsewhere. Marxism has turned out to be not a good fit in North America and it would seem, neither has Buddhism. Islam has taken hold here, but like in India, it is tolerated but doesn’t get to rule. I wish our host every success in his attempt to revive the the hermetic traditions.
It is unfortunate, to say the least, that for many of us, the cultural vacuum has been filled by Hollywood and Madison Avenue.
@ericalopez, I dig your art; but is that teeth, or a zipper lacking a pull? I’m pretty sure you were instructed to pull the zip tie 😉
(It took some work to get your song inspiration right – I first went for Poets, but I think it’s The Darkest One, courtesy as always, our poet laureate, the Dark Canuck):
“What you believe you say without shame, “I just do”/ To say what you mean you don’t mean what you say or you do/ Where the wild are strong/ And the strong are the darkest ones
Where you’re real instrumental or supple or sexy as hell/Where you say, “I believe” or say without shame, “I can’t tell”
“And one can only ask what sobering influences might have been by which those monsters of the great big “I” were rendered human and humane.
My own first guess…is that it was by the influence of art. For since mythology is born of fantasy, any life or civilization brought to form as a result of a literal mythic identification or inflation, as a concrete imitatio dei, will necessarily bear the features of a nightmare, a dream-game too seriously played–in other words, madness; whereas, when the same mythological imagery is properly read as fantasy and allowed to play into life as art, not as nature–with irony and grace, not fierce daemonic compulsion–the psychological energies that were formerly in the capture of the compelling images take the images in capture, and can be deployed with optional spontaneity for life’s enrichment.
Moreover, since life itself is indeed such stuff as dreams are made on, such a transfer of accent may conduce, in time, to a life lived in noble consciousness of its own nature.”
– Joseph Campbell,Oriental Mythology, p. 96.
David by the Lake @ 328: The Romans taught the young men of their leadership classes literature, philosophy and history. In addition, every young Roman man of the equites class and above was expected to perform hard military service before he even thought about attempting the cursus honorum.
I think the home schoolers have the right idea, which, crudely expressed is teach the kids stuff which is real. I also do think we need a national service, which would include but not be limited to military service, two years after high school, and something like two weeks to a month a year thereafter for all adults between ages of about 20-60 or thereabouts, doing all the needed tasks which private enterprise neglects. No exceptions except for extreme disability and maybe small children at home, and maybe for farmers who actually do live and work on their farms. Women included, no you don’t get to keep the wife at home in purdah if you want to live here.
I’m not chasing anyone as well. I had my 10 for 34 wonderful years and miss her dearly. And yes, the best way to get a good partner is make sure you’re the best you can be first (and avoid the superficial dating apps).
Bogatyr, you aren’t wrong. The most intractable problem we’ve got in the United States these days is that members of our privileged classes (a category which includes “woke” activists, of course) have been taught all their lives that the world is whatever they want it to be. Thus they have essentially no capacity for reality testing and no emotional resources when the world doesn’t play along with their games.
Info, nations rise and fall. So do their ruling elites. Sometimes a nation succeeds in shedding a failed elite and doing better with a different group; other times the nation goes down. We’ll see what happens in the present case.
Ksim, keep in mind that what gets into the media is not necessarily what’s going on at the grassroots. I think you’re quite right that Attali has it scrambled; globalization was the late 20th century kluge to try to keep the American empire going, just as free trade was the late 19th century kluge to try to keep the British empire going. Both failed. Here in the US I expect to see a lot more regionalism and a lot more variation among them, but most of the people I see talking the loudest about ethnostates and farming communities, if they tried to take up subsistence farming, would last about as long as the Afghan National Army.
Phil K, thanks for this.
Joy Marie, and thanks for this — it’s amusing to watch the military joining the pass-the-buck game. Yes, you can invoke the honored dead as well as archetypal beings such as Columbia.
Marlena13, too funny. I wonder if she got that from my post.
CS2, we’ll never know, as the Pentagon fought Trump tooth and nail to keep him from withdrawing troops. I’m not at all sorry that we’re out — quite the contrary — but it could have been done with a little basic competence.
John, thank you! We didn’t get to see the eyewall, more’s the pity — Henri broke up on landfall, and all we got was some rain and some blustery wind.
David BTL, that’s a fascinating question to which I don’t know the answer.
Jon, that’s probably the smartest approach. Mind you, that doesn’t keep you (and plenty of other people) from doing something on your own…
Phutatorius, I’ll consider it.
BobinOK, thanks for this.
“As I see it, the chickenhawks in the British elite are apoplectic that we’re not willing to stay in the Middle East for their benefit, and the BBC (their soapbox) is flogging poor senile Joe as a way of expressing their rage and spite. You’re right, though, that it’s shortsighted of them — how many people will start asking hard questions about their other pet narratives?”
I think the basic problem is that the British elite across the board have absolutely no idea how internally fragile and divided the USA really is. They think America is still basically the same country as it was in the 1990’s, or even in the 1950’s, only with a bit more eccentric but ultimately harmless noise (c.f. Trump). It acts as a kind of permanent comfort blanket that does not merit any sustained curiosity, and so the British fascination with the US is obsessive but extremely shallow. Sure, the Americans are a bit crazy, so they think, but that’s just them being Americans.
As such, the British establishment genuinely see the Afghan pull-out as a kind of perverse flounce, that has no identifiable internal logic. If and/or when the USA does collapse, there will be nobody more astounded. You will hear the shrieking coming out of the House of Commons from outer space.
Re tinnitus: Your inner ear is very sensitive to your blood sugar levels. Does the tinnitus get worse after a meal? It’s the elevated sugar in your blood. The solution is to cut out sugar and junky carbs, and drink plenty of water.
methylethyl, #281: Do you suppose it’s possible that the library flushed 80% of the “humanities” books because they were actually not worth keeping? (That’s not a rhetorical question which assumes the answer is “yes”, but seriously…) Citing “Sturgeon’s Law” (“90% of everything is crap”, or (as Wikipedia quotes Kipling: “Four-fifths of everybody’s work must be bad. But the remnant is worth the trouble for its own sake.”)) How much of the humanities collection at the library was the product of scholars just punching their ticket to the PhD, or to tenure? How much was novelty for the sake of novelty, rather than quality? (Here, I risk re-opening some old debates in this forum regarding music and art, but I don’t intend to hijack the thread.)
As the great mathematician G.H. Hardy said “It is one of the first duties of a professor, for example, in any subject, to exaggerate a little both the importance of his subject and his own importance in it.”
@ Jon (# 297) – JMG gave you very wise advice. I remember decades ago I was very nearly pulled into a ‘spiritual’ group that had some very sensible-sounding do-gooder projects to attract earnest young people who wanted to do great things to save the world. I was a total front for a cult (switch and bait). The great sounding projects somehow went away once people were sucked in. Because of outside intervention, the group didn’t get far, but the many were left emotionally scarred and somewhat poorer (it could have been much worse). Most likely the only reason I never got pulled in was because my husband-to-be saw right through them and raised the alarm.
Mista Shape Shifta, the impediments to breakup of the USA are not cultural but geographic and even geological. From the Atlantic shore to the Rocky Mountains there are simply no defensible boundaries. See the history of Poland for the difficulties of maintaining an independent nation without such boundaries, and then think about the nightmare which would ensue if Canada were a hostile power. It may be that the future Great Intermountain Desert will be such a boundary and the future USA will begin at the Front Range.
Having just read The Divine Comedy for the first time, suddenly my entire world is seen through the eyes of the 14th century Florentine poet. In Canto IX of the Purgatorio, Dante is approached by an angel who inscribes seven “P”s on his forehead, for the seven deadly sins (Peccati in Italian). Each time he climbs to another level of Purgatory, one of the sins fades away, until he is able to entire Paradise cleansed.
Our sins have just been stamped onto the forehead of our nation, for all the world to gawk at. Will we be able to make the hard climb up through Purgatory, or are we doomed to be sent back to spend eternity with 13th Century Popes?
This is the artist Liam O’Broin’s view of that moment.
I’m working on a trial run on training people on project planning and implementation with two of the groups that I work with. I think the biggest thing is that people need to have experience with hardware projects. It teaches them to bind the abstract to the material, which project planning for medium or large groups certainly does not. Working in a bureaucracy all you see are paper trails and reports of failure or success, there’s very rarely any material feedback.
Thank you for your advice, I will take it to heart. I hope I can do some good.
Glad that Henri didn’t do much damage in your neck of the woods.
To all in CT, LI, MA – stay safe and dry!
Here in Windsor County, Vermont, we’re on the far outer edge of the storm, rain started a few hours ago, not torrential but steady; tomorrow is forecast to be somewhat worse. We are getting nasty gusts of wind now and again and the unknown is how many trees will fall on power lines or across roads, as the state has a lot of tree cover and the power company isn’t too conscientious about keeping the lines clear. There’s a tendency to leave the darn things, even dead ones, just leaning over roads until one storm or another knocks them down, almost always in the most inconvenient spot.
You’re certainly right about Hollywood and Madison Avenue. I wonder how much genuine American culture is left untouched by their grubby fingers – perhaps only those things that cannot be monetized, as they seem to have packaged and sold off most of everything else.
I agree with JMG: we just can’t know how well Trump would have managed a withdrawal from Afghanistan, because the forces benefitting from our involvement would not cooperate in a drawdown. I’d go a little further and say that there are probably a many other beneficial things Trump might have been able to accomplish if not for the gale force winds of entrenched Washington government creatures and the might of the media aligned to instantly denounce everything he did. Of course it’s also possible that he would have gummed it all up, too, but I just can’t imagine the Taliban would have been able to play him the way they’re playing Biden.
On that note, has everyone seen the photo of the Taliban reenacting the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima? That’s some master-level trolling going on there.
Thanks for this excellent essay and moderated discussion.
Ethan’s concluding remark @#200 “This is not only the decline of the U.S. It is not only the decline of the West. It is the decline of modern industrial civilization AS WE KNOW IT.” strikes me as being fundamentally accurate. Other commenters have speculated about your teaser at the end of the post and I have to chime in with my agreement that it must relate to the hallmark 1972 Limits To Growth projections.
One peak metric mapped there has a very sharp decline…”Industrial Output” is peaking right
now and may have a great deal to do with the panicky unease settling in all over the overdeveloped world. The original graph shows the downhill grade of this descent as super steep for at least the next 30 years. For some reason that calls to mind Leonard Cohen’s 1988 classic: Everybody Knows.
I’m very grateful also John Michael for the Dreamwidth open posts on the current health crisis…been following it closely and it’s genuinely helpful. Your “A Hypothesis” post a few weeks ago has really been haunting me so constant inquiry and questioning is most apropos.
Thanks to all the fine commenters as well…I’m jumping back in at #201.
@Peter van Erp, re: Dante
I read the Divine Comedy just after I graduated from university (in my late 20’s). It was a revelation to me. Oddly enough, I started with the Paradiso. This canticle helped me understand the significance of the Platonic relationship in university that I shared with the commentariat back in the “Metaphysics of Sex” thread, a few years ago.
Dante has a way of “speaking” to just about everyone, regardless of religious belief. Symbolically, Dante helps the reader to understand that the only path to the Kingdom of Heaven goes straight through the center of Hell. Yep, we have to face down our demons, every last one of them.
Another great book by Dante is the Vita Nova (or Vita Nuova) written when Dante was young. In it, he describes forcefully his Platonic affair with the young Beatrice Portinari. The best translation into English, fo my money, is the one by Andrew Frisardi. It contains the first great poem Dante wrote, “Donne ch’avete intelletto d’amore” (“Ladies who have intelligence in Love”).
Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s translation is here:
Frisardi’s more contemporary English translation is here:
https://digitaldante.columbia.edu/text/library/la-vita-nuova-frisardi/ (scroll down to Chapter 10 for the poem itself).
For those who (like me) have had a “Beatrice” experience in their lives, this poem will be meaningful. For others, it may leave them cold. Let the reader decide.
Another couple of possibilities that could be the case if the university library suddenly decides to purge 80% of the collection in the humanities, is that the book-burning faction on the library committee realises it might not be in the ascendant for ever, so had better act now.
Alternatively the university has or plans to radically cut back what it does in its range of humanities courses.
I’ll try that as a link instead of an imbed This is the artist Liam O’Broin’s view of that moment.
A couple of late and random thoughts:
My front garden in my corner of WMass has had 2″ of rain from Henri thus far.
I spent a semester in England on exchange in 1988. The old men on the stoops loved to find out I was a Yank. The students my own age (22 at the time) had opinions best summed up by the young woman across the hall in the dorm from me: “I don’t like Americans, except for any of them I’ve ever met.” (and there was no irony in this)
I named one of my female goats Columbia. She’s skittish but a good milk producer.
@ Mr. Shape Shifta, re: #327
How the break up goes down may depend upon what stage of decay our empire is in when succession takes place. It’s possible that we could do it relatively peacefully, and in a somewhat planned way. This would require willingness to let the states go theiir own ways, unlike what happened in the 1860s. It might, for example, be akin to Sweden being agreeable (more or less) to Norways declaration of Independance in 1905. For example, if TX and CA became very serious and set a date for their independence, it would give the rest of us time -but not too much time- to decide whether or not to suceed, and with what other states to join in forming new countries. It’s possible of course that certain states will decide against secession and there will remain a USA, albeit smaller.
Your vision of city people with pockets full of worthless greenbacks desperately trying to obtain food strikes me as leaning towards the apocolyptic end of the spectrum. I’m not sure the breakup has to be that rough. There will come a day when ag is very different but that will be due to shortages of petroleum, not succession.
I’m not claiming to know how it will play out, but I am suggesting it need not be violent, messy, and a real life version of the hunger games. Post breakup need not be a dystopia.
Of course, I could be wrong. Time will tell.
Hi John Michael,
The news down here, well it isn’t all that good right now. It interests me that there appear to be class issues emerging with this whole health subject which dare not be named. And as a disclaimer I work in small business and have no benefits of any sort. Despite what you may believe, the vast majority of the population down under works in small to medium businesses, and they’re the ones taking the economic hit. Big corporates and government entities are doing just fine from what I can observe. It is my opinion that the will and ability to continue taking that economic hit is failing, and the repercussions and pressure are building.
When the government of the day (including the opposition) abandon the centre, it paves the way for a third option, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the rise of such a thing. And third options might have jackboots, a propensity for violence, weird symbolism and kooky beliefs. But if they get the job that needs doing done…
The thing with changing the social arrangements down here so as to restrict incomes for an unknown period of time, is that the underlying economic arrangements were also not changed. So you can have a situation – which is playing out all around me right now – where a person is restricted to earn an income, but them old bills keep on rolling on in. People know that this is a path to poverty. And they are deeply unhappy about it.
An alternative point of view is that things could be worse though and traditionally these sorts of internal pressures were released via a war, and people have had it pretty good for many decades now. Governments by and large are fairly lazy and sluggish entities – unless they want to quietly disappear you or tie you up in the legal process (they seem pretty good at that). And the problem they have is that they can’t respond fast enough and will probably wreck things.
They can’t manage an orderly retreat from that two decade long war (which we were also involved in), so why does anyone expect them to do better on other policy fronts? It seems to be a foolish assumption.
JMG: unless Henri has knocked your power out, you’ve likely already seen this:
If I had seen this headline two weeks ago, I would have seen it in the Babylon Bee!
The American Forces: the gift that keeps on giving!
I’m sure, whoever the next up-n-coming British High Chancellor who comes into power, will be appropriately apoplectic.
“I want EVERYONE to know that it is T H E Y W H O N E E D U S !!!”
Phil K, that makes a great deal of sense to me. British attitudes about America are precisely as disconnected from reality as American attitudes about Britain!
Peter, if you want to post an image, it has to be on a website that my site can access, and you have to link directly to the image (the URL should end in the graphics format, such as jpg or png) using the img src html command in angle brackets, just as if you were cutting raw html.
Beekeeper, thanks for this! We were down to mild gusty winds and a little drizzle by 3 pm.
Jim, wait and see! 😉
Chris, I’ve been thinking for some time that if you’ve got any competent demagogues down under, now’s their chance, since both mainstream parties have gone barking mad. Have you considered trying to seize power? You probably could…
Ron, I have indeed seen that — a lot of people in the southern part of the state lost power but we didn’t even briefly. You’re right, though, that the Bee is once again going to have to scramble to stay ahead of actual events.
We do indeed have such a demagogue. Not only that, he’s an elderly, overweight, billionaire who, in normal course of events wouldn’t have a chance, except for the staggering incompetence of the established parties. It used to be said that Australia was twenty years behind the US. Maybe that’s gone down to six.
@John Michael Greer
“Jim, wait and see! 😉
Chris, I’ve been thinking for some time that if you’ve got any competent demagogues down under, now’s their chance, since both mainstream parties have gone barking mad. Have you considered trying to seize power? You probably could…”
Woah that may have landed us in a watchlist. Don’t be encouraging Warlordism too soon 🙂
Re: The Evisceration of University Libraries
One thing that people are looking over: There are fewer and fewer people attending college nowadays, and these places are looking at where to cut corners. One easy way to cut costs is to no longer lease storage space you no longer need, and if you can clear out space in the stacks you can cut costs.
Add to that the fact that many of the books in The Humanities (philosophy, literature, and probably older artists) haven’t been checked out in years, and you have a lot of space being used for what the (present-day) college-attending public has deemed unnecessary. I remember looking through the stacks at Michigan State quite a few times, and saw plenty of books that had taken up stack space unread for years – do you need multiple copies of long-forgotten puff-piece biographies of Stalin and Trotsky from the mid-thirties? Maybe one of each for historical reasons, but they were three copies of each of those books at MSU, along with plenty of other (bestseller) books which had had their own fifteen weeks of fame when first bought into the library and then sat unread thereafter. Add in whole collections of author’s works that look like they hadn’t been touched for years (outside of the singular book that everyone knows about), and you get the idea.
And now, add in the comment from Clarke aka Gwydion (#298) noting how many of the smaller libraries had gotten rid of their books in the past (after years of stale collections with little new added for many years, this bit from a friend of mine) – and how the market saturated itself in 2014-2015 just from the smaller, insignificant libraries. All those books waiting in the library, and nobody wanting them for their private collections.
If you were a library looking to cut down on what you needed to use, noting that certain books hadn’t been checked out in years, and seeing that there was no longer a market for what you had, what would you do? Hold onto them hoping for a renaissance in reading and greater funds to chase it, or clear out the space to store what’s needed (books still being checked out, periodicals for historical reasons, your collection of Eastern Religion/Philosophy that you’ve been directed to get – and which gets plenty of use). Since STEM seems to be the major focus of college nowadays (never mind “finding yourself”), that leaves philosophy, literature, and the arts – aka The Humanities, aka The Liberal Arts – to be cleared out for expansion space. That The Woke now find themselves in charge of The Liberal Arts, Libraries and The Social Sciences colors what gets removed (and note that my points do not negate the issues about The Woke now running things), but the libraries would have had to get rid of many books in any case and, given trends with The Humanities bearing the brunt anyway. Nobody’s going to dare remove The History of Pesticide Spraying or How To Dress For Success (in all its rewrites by lesser authors in addition to the John Molloy classic) from the college library, so <Critique of Pure Reason and Mein Kampf are what gets targeted, amongst everything else.
Re: The Evisceration of University Libraries
One thing that people are looking over: There are fewer and fewer people attending college nowadays, and these places are looking at where to cut corners. One easy way to cut costs is to no longer lease storage space you no longer need, and if you can clear out space in the stacks you can cut costs.
Add to that the fact that many of the books in The Humanities (philosophy, literature, and probably older artists) haven’t been checked out in years, and you have a lot of space being used for what the (present-day) college-attending public has deemed unnecessary. I remember looking through the stacks at Michigan State quite a few times, and saw plenty of books that had taken up stack space unread for years – do you need multiple copies of long-forgotten puff-piece biographies of Stalin and Trotsky from the mid-thirties? Maybe one of each for historical reasons, but they were three copies of each of those books at MSU, along with plenty of other (bestseller) books which had had their own fifteen weeks of fame when first bought into the library and then sat unread thereafter. Add in whole collections of author’s works that look like they hadn’t been touched for years (outside of the singular book that everyone knows about), and you get the idea.
And now, add in the comment from Clarke aka Gwydion (#298) noting how many of the smaller libraries had gotten rid of their books in the past (after years of stale collections with little new added for many years, this bit from a friend of mine) – and how the market saturated itself in 2014-2015 just from the smaller, insignificant libraries. All those books waiting in the library, and nobody wanting them for their private collections.
If you were a library looking to cut down on what you needed to use, noting that certain books hadn’t been checked out in years, and seeing that there was no longer a market for what you had, what would you do? Hold onto them hoping for a renaissance in reading and greater funds to chase it, or clear out the space to store what’s needed (books still being checked out, periodicals for historical reasons, your collection of Eastern Religion/Philosophy that you’ve been directed to get – and which gets plenty of use). Since STEM seems to be the major focus of college nowadays (never mind “finding yourself”), that leaves philosophy, literature, and the arts – aka The Humanities, aka The Liberal Arts – to be cleared out for expansion space. That The Woke now find themselves in charge of The Liberal Arts, Libraries and The Social Sciences is a great problem (and note that my points do not negate the issues about The Woke now running things), but the libraries would have had to get rid of many books in any case and, given trends, with The Humanities bearing the brunt anyway. Nobody’s going to dare remove The History of Pesticide Spraying or the varying rewrites of How To Dress For Success from the college library, so Critique of Pure Reason and Gravity’s Rainbow are what gets targeted, amongst everything else.
I think that for anyone growing up in the latter half of the twentieth century in Britain, America is almost an archetype. A successful, happy, wealthy country. Everything works, every family has Dad working, Mum at home housekeeping (homemaking), and two and a half kids. That was the image pumped into our heads as kids by popular culture and of course there are no filters at that age. Even TV produced in the UK aped this. As a three year old I was obsessed with Gerry Anderson’s ‘Thunderbirds’. I thought it was describing the US and I must have been a teenager before I discovered that it was homegrown. It certainly sounded American. All this is still going on, the M+D+2.5 is the basic setup of the Simpson’s.
Adults may develop a more nuanced view, particularly if they travel around a bit. You actually have to spend time embedded there to see how much of this is a facade. Hardly anyone does this though, and the British Establishment is not noted for its ability to think things through. MPs even less so. So when the mask slips a bit we see a good deal of cognitive dissonance.
Even when you are aware of the reality, the fantasy side of the US exerts a grip. I may have to visit in October – COVID regulations permitting. The destination is a business district without much in the way of entertainment, natural beauty, or tourist attractions. Even knowing what I know, I’m still hoping that it happens. A final chance to visit the magical place where that three year old wanted to live.
David, by the lake “Under the right circumstances, we could prolong the Union (with the economic and trade benefits thereof) while re-establishing the looser confederation of semi-autonomous states we were at the outset. A far more resilient arrangement, I would argue.”
It would be a good idea, but we humans seem to be getting very good at making wrong decisions! I suspect dissolution / collapse is the more likely option. The model already exists, of course, it’s called the European Union, which is not without its faults, but the safest and most prosperous place in the world to live, for ordinary people.
Hi John Michael,
Fortunately for everyone, I have no will to power. Things would get done, most people would be happy, but alas I’d be tempted to disappear folks in order to get things done and this is sometimes the way things happen under such circumstances. Probably better if things stayed as they are, and I wasn’t involved. 🙂
Actually, if I had to draw a parallel, it would be to the fictional character: Bombadil, who was clearly aware of outside goings on, but set and knew his boundaries well, despite the fact that inside those boundaries also carried risk. Dunno, I help where I can, and act as my will allows, but control, nay I seek not that. It’s a poisoned chalice.
I tend to believe that your current President and his handlers might discover that the job is not that it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be before too long.
I’m definitely going to do something on my own! I’d like to say what it is, but you know: shut the heck up.
Any news on Texas getting its gold back? A Texas dollar backed by gold would be a good thing.
Thank you. It’s time to start looking for ways to reduce RF radiation. I’ve already limited my cell phone use. Unfortunately, none of us can escape WiFi unless we are in a rural area.
phutatorius, Thanks for sharing your experience. I didn’t know there were hats that limited RF radiation. That’s something I’d like to try, even if it doesn’t work out.
Martin Back, thanks. I eat or drink almost zero sugar every day. I have noticed though, that if I eat a chocolate bar, the tinnitus flares up for a few hours. Sugar certainly has an effect.
PatriciaT, that’s terrible to hear. I’m glad it wasn’t worse. Preying on idealistic people is tragic. I’m going pray by myself for the time being. After I’ve got at least 1-1/2 years under my belt I think I can start looking at higher magic.
Patient Observer 199:
I am not on the fence about the biodiversity crisis, but Re Climate change, I do understand that the experts disagree on whether or not it’s anthropogenic. However, when sceptics say it’s up to those who believe it’s down to AGW to prove that it is, I wonder whether those who don’t can prove that it isn’t. I am no scientist but, for example, if all the coal and oil reserves in the world were burned, that would do something to the carbon cycle, wouldn’t it? I don’t understand the idea that it would have no impact on the world. Makes no sense to me.
Please let me know what you think, and how you think — thank you!
@David by the Lake Why would you want a policy writer? The less policy the better. Let people resolve their disputes with one another before a judge/mediator or their congressional representative like they used to do in the 19th century. Did you know the majority of laws passed prior to 1910 were private laws? Our government representatives used to care about everyday people and address their needs as part of their job. Now they employ hundreds of thousands of people to enforce policies on us “for our own good.”
Been reading alternative blogs at Straight Line Logic. They all agree it took an act of courage to leave Afghanistan.
After watching the Sunday pundit shows, I agree. The people on the shows – the Admin. people and Congress folks were ranting and raving spewing out foam. Only one Republican – Ben Sasse of Neb. made the point of well I am glad that is over. Now comes the time for accountability.
My husband, the executive secretary at the State Department, has been ranting about Biden ignoring all of the warnings that were sent his way. I guess the old adage of people only hear what they want to hear holds true. And of that, believe only a small bit of what they hear.
Personally, I believe that when Trump decided to start to eave in 2020, they had enough time for bribes, and all the rest to get people out before the pull out.
@David by the Lake What people are interested in is being treated as equals with functioning brains and legitimate interests. Using policy to govern has those elected point to it to justify their actions or lack of action and dehumanizing all involved.
I’m at lashing out at the idea of policy, not you personally. In our local area state policy has been used recently to pave over a historic cemetery (rather than move the building 3 feet) and lease our well water reservoir in our neighborhood to a publicly traded water company (yes, they are pumping out our water and selling it but of course we don’t have rights to it, the state does). Law suits in both cases were unable to stop policy in both cases. If there was no state policy, neither would have happened imo.
JMG I’ve been pondering about the idea of naiveté. A lot of talk out there on how stupid or brainwashed people are, but I think it might be more naiveté or not wanting to cause conflict with others or stand out.
When I think about the Civil War, it looks like a lot of naiveté on both sides in terms of what they were volunteering for in the beginning and what the likely outcome would be. Then in WW1, people were forced to sign up for the draft and they didn’t protest it widely (despite many labor strikes over working conditions for a couple of decades). Again, I don’t think they really knew what awaited them or why they were fighting that war.
The propaganda put out by the government and newspapers for both wars was very simplistic and childish, making me think again that people were naive. Am I over simplifying what people were thinking in both cases? We always think of people in the past as being better read and more intelligent than people now, but maybe not so much when it comes to how their governments walked them straight to their deaths on the battlefield?
For WW2 and the various conflicts after it, the propaganda occurs to me as different than before and perhaps its audience was one that was one of the first generations thru mass national standard public schooling. The messaging could reinforce what was learned in public school classrooms.
In terms of our current predicament, the propaganda seems to be least effective on Gen X and Gen Z (Boomers and Millennial seem to lap up each side’s messaging and are unaware they are being used). Gen X was abandoned by their parents and left to fed for themselves. Gen Z have been raised on steady diet of apocalyptic fiction, horrid schooling, and the world at their fingertips thru the internet their whole lives. Neither generation are naive about what the government could do or has done. But the knowledge doesn’t lead to action, seemingly.
Am I on to something here? I don’t know what to do with this idea but I feel like its interesting.
@ Michael Miller
Re reform of the Union versus possible dissolution
What I’d like to see happen would be the adoption of several constitutional amendments (mostly likely via an Article V convention, as Congress would be unlikely to reform itself) that introduced hard limits to federal power: things like limits to consecutive congressional terms, proportional representation within state delegations to the House, restatement that the federal government possesses *only* those powers *specifically* delegated to it by the Constitution, a procedure for state secession from said Union, and hard limits on the deployment of military forces beyond the territorial borders of the nation.
In other words, something closer to (though not necessarily identical to) the original framework of a loose confederation of quasi-sovereign states with a (strictly) limited federal government authorized to deal with things like defense (not empire) and foreign relations.
Policy is necessary for the implementation of law and the active management of a polity. Done properly, it effectively translates statute into actionable programs. Done poorly, it creates a mess.
Good policies would be things like administering tariffs (previously enacted into law, of course) which support the aim of promoting the national economy an national self-reliance by shielding domestic production from cheap foreign competition. Good policy would also be things like taking a non-interventionist stance to world conflicts and staying out of other nations’ affairs. (Enabled by the development of self-reliance and reduced dependence on foreign resources mentioned previously.)
On a more local level, some things I sought to get enacted during my three years on city council were the creation of a road utility (everyone pays $10-$15 a month based on length of frontage rather than hitting people of thousands of dollars in special assessments when a road gets rebuilt) and the establishment of a Residential Development Authority which would be authorized to purchase foreclosed properties and “flip” them for a specified margin (say 3%-5% over cost) to rehabilitate the worst of our housing stock and immediately improve the surrounding properties’ value. (Neither of these happened. I couldn’t even get front yard vegetable gardening legalized.)
Policy, like administrative rulemaking, helps to set priorities, develop programs, and implement strategy. Someone has to do it. The question is who and how they can be best trained for that task.
@Patient Observer, did you used to post on SQV?
@ Denis (#370)
I think the biggest factor in Gen-X’s high resistance to propaganda is the fact that they never comprised a large enough demographic to be of any interest to advertisers or policy makers. They were, however, there to witness the effect of spin-doctored advertising on people around them who were in targeted demographics – and thus gained an opportunity to see behind the masks, as it were, to the motivations of the persuaders.
@Chris at Fernglade – have you considered encouraging your countrymen to just follow New Zealand’s advice? Those protests seem ripe for superspreader events.
And now they’ve got horses, may I suggest reviving a tradition from my alma mater? A few hundred Lady Godivas ought to do it…
(I’ll show myself out).
The more this year unfolds, the more it seems to me that by narrowly winning the presidential contest, keeping their House majority by the skin of their teeth, and achieving nominal control of a tied Senate with the VP’s tie-breaker, the Democrats have found themselves with enough control of the federal government to have responsibility for what occurs, but not enough control to really achieve anything. (Today’s procedural vote in the House will be interesting.) Last November is looking more and more like a Pyrrhic victory for the Democratic party.
Christopher Hope – just thinking that in a post-breakup scenario, it is likely that things will diverge in the new polities. You’ll probably get some that do better than pre-breakup in many ways, while there are others that are worse off, and even the odd dystopian nightmare.
JMG, et all,
My apologies for sending this late in the comment cycle but this caught my eye as another data point you would want.
It goes without saying, the GOT vets are downright POed about the arrogance snd incompetence on display in the District of Criminals. I did 9 years active, so this is my tribe….I’ve never seen so many ready to say screw this. Keep in mind, alot of their dads and grandpas fought in Vietnam so the anger is multigenerational. Curse of growing up in a small town I guess.
I’m grateful to have missed W’s foolish crusade by getting out in ’99, Clintons and Madeline Albright were bad enough for me to call it quits.
“Do you suppose it’s possible that the library flushed 80% of the “humanities” books because they were actually not worth keeping?”
I used to work in a library, and I do understand a bit about how culling the stacks works. This doesn’t sound like your average cull.
Did you read the linked post? They did it to make room for “sleep pods”. And they didn’t give away the books or sell them, or offer them to anyone or even leave them out on the curb… they destroyed them. Even my home library, when it culls the stacks, offers up the discards for pocket change, or puts them on the “free books” cart.
The blogger in question is reporting that the library is insisting that professors return overdue books that they have checked out for legit research purposes… so that those books can be destroyed.
TA DAH! — i just finished the first 15 armbands/masks combos of an official edition of 100, with bonus COVID POM POMS.
and Pixelated, thanks for the compliments and i’ll listen to the songs. i cannot overstate the fact that i’m having a hard time with how all the artists and musicians aren’t speaking against anything and willingly bringing the “muzak-al” accompaniment as we burn, instead of doing anything truly different badass punk hip hop… or remotely interesting. any Nero doesn’t even have to do as much as pick up the bow, and can go look at online porn instead while the muzak drones on at their serum-soaked concerts….
Ah, our New Zealand friends sure know how to party! 🙂
Thanks for the laughs. And well, as a general policy your tradition has much to recommend it.
Don’t know much about the guy, but he does seem to keep turning up.
Way back in the day it was usually tacitly acknowledged that already wealthy folks generally sought election not out of a sense of civil duty, but in order to line their own pockets. I could be wrong there, but that used to be an understood motivation.
Mate, the next election I’fully intend to do a deep dive into the candidates – and I was a rusted on labour voter, but now this is not the case.
I think you’re right.
Jon, Leah, Joy Marie, and any others,
I believe you may be missing someone rather important. I asked on Magic Monday, seeing as I’m not polythiest, and our host suggested I post about this here as well.
A year or so ago I was looking for goddesses for a religion for a fiction work, specifically USA American goddesses. Immediately Liberty and Justice came to mind, being portrayed all over our country as they are, but that felt unbalanced and after some digging I came up with Columbia as a third. This triumvirate felt right or balanced to me, for lack of better words.
Justice is depicted on or in pretty nearly every courthouse in the nation if not all of them, and mentioned in our pledge of allegience together with Liberty, though as principles rather than deities. She is perhaps our most ubiquitusly honored civic diety, if not as often invoked as her sister Liberty. Both are imports, as, of course, are most of us (all of us, if you agree with the archeologists).
Perhaps you would consider invoking Justice as well as Columbia and Liberty? It is, of course, your work, and not mine, and so I would not say you must or should do any specific thing, just ask that you would consider this.
@David by the Lake – your examples refer to local things under your direct control. You proposed a solution to people who live in the same place as you and worked together. I don’t consider that policy. Those are proposals or agreements.
Policy as I’m referring to in my stories are when people, usually college graduates with multiple degrees, in far away places write white papers speaking to an ideal world of how things will operate. Government agencies then adopt these policies – no vote from elected representatives, little debate or alteration.
These policies are then used by government as reasons for action or inaction, sometimes as weapons.
Here’s another story for you – a neighbor moved into a property with a creek running through it (2 feet across at most and ankle deep). Next to the creek was a pit with stagnant water in it – about 8 feet across and 2 feet deep. Neighbor rented a back hoe and filled it in thinking he was doing a good thing to eliminate standing water for mosquitos. Unfortunately for him someone from the DEP drove by, took note, and fined him $10,000 for filling in the pit with water. The policy is (not written anywhere for the public to view because it isn’t a law – we can view the laws online) that the creek on so many feet and the water is owned by the DEP including the water in the pit. No one told this guy, not on the deed, etc. Neighbor said fine and rented the backhoe again and re-dug the pit. DEP fined him $20,000 for not getting a permit to do the work and consulting with them first because that is the policy. He took the DEP to court but he lost because of the DEP policies.
Apparently we are all just supposed to live every second of our lives by following government policies set by people who know nothing about the situation.
I have ten more of these. I surprised that you don’t given your time in government.
@ David, by the lake
One way we might limit federal power would be to limit federal taxes. This is what I have in mind –
I currently pay 15% of my income in taxes to the feds. About 4.25% goes to my state. My city gets 1%. Most cities don’t have an income tax.
What if this were inverted? What if I paid 15% to my city, the same to my state, and 1% to the feds? What if 1% were the cap on federal income taxes? That would be a hard limit on their power, not so much in a legal sense but in a practical sense.
Of course my city would have to step in and take up the slack. Those who live in cities could pay their largest share to their county or township.
“Farmers Are Hacking Their Tractors Because of a Repair Ban”
Those are fine machines. Maybe its planned obsolescence?
Climate is a hugely complex process. The focus on global warming seems entirely focused on CO2 levels yet water vapor is a much more potent greenhouse gas and its concentration is highly variable. Cloud cover is another variable. Solar variability may have an impact on our climate per this paper. The paper was published in 2002 but it is not overly technical and was free.
It’s not changes in the sun’s output but rather its spectrum, especially in the UV range which strongly affects the ozone layer and air temperatures in the stratosphere. Another variable is cosmic rays which are linked to the amount of cloud cover. Cosmic rays ionize the air which creates nucleation sites hence promoting cloud formation. Cosmic ray intensity is a function of many variables including the varying strength of Earth’s magnetic field and solar activity.
Some solar physicists are predicting a global cooling in the 2030’s from changes in sunspot activity and cosmic ray generation. We shall see on that one.
CO2 has a role in global warming but seems greatly exaggerated per a lecture I saw on YouTube given by a scientist with impressive credentials. IIRC, he claimed a doubling of CO2 levels would have a negligible impact on global warming and presented charts showing the diminishing impact of CO2 as its concentration increases. I will look for the lecture and post a link.
The climate does seem to be more erratic but on the other hand when we pay attention to something we see patterns that were previously ignored. I live in the Great Lakes region and have lived there long enough to see a good deal of annual variability from the summer of 1988 where highs often exceeded 100 F and other summers where the highest temperate never exceeded 90 F.
Final thought is that AGW is becoming a religious dogma. It appeals to a psychological desire for a change in our way of life which I can fully appreciate. We live in excess in every way and want to stop but few people want to be first. Also, it gives the posers and virtue signalers a stage like they never had before. This all nicely dovetails with the social controls being imposed due to Covid-19; all of course for our own good.
Personally, I don’t need the threat of AGW to realize we live an unsustainable lifestyle.
@Donald Michael #372
No, that was not me unless it was a one-off post that I no longer recall.
On communication between equals:
There is a quirk in German and Greek imperatives. “Come here” would be in German, literally, “Komm her”. However, that sounds impossibly harsh for most situations, it sounds like an armed person commanding an unarmed one. Usually, one would say “komm mal her”, literally “come here this time”. In other words, this time it is me asking you to come, but next time it might be you asking me.
This became clear to me when I learnt classical and Koine Greek. The present imperative has the sense of an everlasting command – it can be used for general ethical commandments proclaimed by a philosopher or prophet. In everyday situations, one uses the aorist imperative, which stresses the one-off nature of the request.
So some languages encode the situation of communication between more-or-less equals, or at least fictional equals, differently from the eternal subordination.
@ John Goddard RE: Au
Some things are best not bandied about…
Simon S: Clive Palmer doesn’t have a shot until he figures out that the key to Caesarism is to actually side with the plebian interest over that of the elites, for real, and not just make lip-service to it. If the entire elite establishment isn’t obsessed with him with hourly spittle-flecked Two-Minute Hate sessions, it’s clear that he hasn’t picked up the trick.
This gave me a good laugh when I found it.
“Abbott & Costello’s famous skit “Who’s on First Base.” Updated to COVID”
Bud: ‘You can’t come in here!’
Lou: ‘Why not?’
Bud: ‘Well because you’re unvaccinated.’
Lou: ‘But I’m not sick.’
Bud: ‘It doesn’t matter.’
Lou: ‘Well, why does that guy get to go in?’
Bud: ‘Because he’s vaccinated.’
Lou: ‘But he’s sick!’
Bud: ‘It’s alright. Everyone in here is vaccinated.’
Lou: ‘Wait a minute. Are you saying everyone in there is vaccinated?’
Lou: ‘So then why can’t I go in there if everyone is vaccinated?’
Bud: ‘Because you’ll make them sick.’
Lou: ‘How will I make them sick if I’m NOT sick and they’re vaccinated.’
Bud: ‘Because you’re unvaccinated.’
Lou: ‘But they’re vaccinated.’
Bud: ‘But they can still get sick.’
Lou: ‘So what the heck does the vaccine do?’
Bud: ‘It vaccinates.’
Lou: ‘So vaccinated people can’t spread covid?’
Bud: ‘Oh no. They can spread covid just as easily as an unvaccinated person.’
Lou: ‘I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore. Look. I’m not sick.
Lou: ‘And the guy you let in IS sick.’
Bud: ‘That’s right.’
Lou: ‘And everybody in there can still get sick even though they’re vaccinated.’
Lou: ‘So why can’t I go in again?’
Bud: ‘Because you’re unvaccinated.’
Lou: ‘I’m not asking who’s vaccinated or not!’
Bud: ‘I’m just telling you how it is.’
Lou: ‘Nevermind. I’ll just put on my mask.’
Bud: ‘That’s fine.’
Lou: ‘Now I can go in?’
Bud: ‘Absolutely not?’
Lou: ‘But I have a mask!’
Bud: ‘Doesn’t matter.’
Lou: ‘I was able to come in here yesterday with a mask.’
Bud: ‘I know.’
Lou: So why can’t I come in here today with a mask? ….If you say ‘because I’m unvaccinated’ again, I’ll break your arm.’
Bud: ‘Take it easy buddy.’
Lou: ‘So the mask is no good anymore.’
Bud: ‘No, it’s still good.’
Lou: ‘But I can’t come in?’
Lou: ‘Why not?’
Bud: ‘Because you’re unvaccinated.’
Lou: ‘But the mask prevents the germs from getting out.’
Bud: ‘Yes, but people can still catch your germs.’
Lou: ‘But they’re all vaccinated.’
Bud: ‘Yes, but they can still get sick.’
Lou: ‘But I’m not sick!!’
Bud: ‘You can still get them sick.’
Lou: ‘So then masks don’t work!’
Bud: ‘Masks work quite well.’
Lou: ‘So how in the heck can I get vaccinated people sick if I’m not sick and masks work?’
Bud: ‘Third base.
@ info – Thank you!
“…hierarchy becomes necessary to have the group as a unity.”
That is to say, [structured] hierarchy becomes necessary to people who value “unity” (even though it will remain ever elusive, even so). For those who value dissensus, [structured] hierarchy is not at all necessary.
In saying this I do not at all disregard the social importance of respect for competence and for skill and for wisdom, careful emulation of those you hold in respect, and other such common human social behaviours. It is just that I see that these social behaviours are compatible with situations in which no one is “structured” into pre-hierarchical layered roles, such as set them automatically above and below one another, whereby the deference or contempt, reward or punishment, flowing upwards or downwards, attaches to the role, and not to the competence, or skill, or wisdom (or lack of same) of the person set into that role.
My own orientation is towards that kind of dissensus, and most definitely AWAY from any promise/threat of “unity”…
but – of course – your mileage may vary… 😉
That kind of busniness model is propably related to planned obsolescence. If the machines wont break down otherwise, some electronics parts do:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EPYy_g8NzmI&t=1s “Farmers Are Hacking Their Tractors Because of a Repair Ban”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnfYQmOCpD0 “Montana Family Farms Right to Repair”
Maybe the companies making tractors and other similar heavy machinery are desperate for cash? The same applies to newer cars too.
It could be possibly a difficult retreat for USA troops:
The only evacuation route is by air for US and other countries troops there…
Re the administrative state and policy
You’ll certainly get no argument form me regarding the excesses of our bloated administrative state! I can give you some fine examples of mind-numbing bureaucratic nonsense from my handful of experiences with the feds, both form my work in the utility industry and from my time in local government. (From the latter: we had to return federal grant money for a bike & pedestrian trail project because the list of requirements that came along with the grant turned what ought have been a $400,000 project into a $2,000,000 project and made the thing unaffordable. From the former, I once had a conference call with folks from FERC–the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission–staff who insisted that we had to use a discounted cash flow analysis to set the rate of return for a municipal utility’s cost-based tariff because that was the current policy, the problem being that a DCF analysis uses stock price and dividend flows, which a municipal utility doesn’t have.)
This is something of a baby-with-the-bathwater situation.
My broader point still stands. Policy is a tool for governance and a necessary one. Like most things, it can be used well or poorly, within bounds or improperly. We need administrators to administrate. We *don’t* need useless office-creation as a work-guarantee program for the professional/managerial class, as our host has often pointed out. It’s not that administration is bad or that policy development is bad. It’s rather that at this stage in our imperial trajectory, we’ve gone far past the point of effectiveness into overshoot. My question is, in a well-balanced polity, how does one a) keep administration within bounds of the necessary and not allow it to bloat, and b) properly train those who do take on the needed tasks of governance?
@pygmycory – cue up “Breaking Up is Hard To Do.”
We got our affes handed to us in Ghanistan. I’m going to cue up “Goodnight, Saigon,” and then accept the loss. The flood of Monday morning quarterbacking in the media is enough to drive a reader to turn off the commentary and go read a book. Possibly a Weird of Hali book? And to JMG: This has been an enlightening and educational discussion. I knew things were bad, but reality can still surprise me.
What a great idea. Liberty, Justice and Columbia.
Leah and Joy Marie:
If you have any suggestions on your approach, I’d love to hear them!
Mum’s the word….
Re the fall of Kabul …
The God Abandons Antony
by CP Cavafy
When suddenly, at midnight, you hear
an invisible procession going by
with exquisite music, voices,
don’t mourn your luck that’s failing now,
work gone wrong, your plans
all proving deceptive—don’t mourn them uselessly.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
say goodbye to her, the Alexandria that is leaving.
Above all, don’t fool yourself, don’t say
it was a dream, your ears deceived you:
don’t degrade yourself with empty hopes like these.
As one long prepared, and graced with courage,
as is right for you who proved worthy of this kind of city,
go firmly to the window
and listen with deep emotion, but not
with the whining, the pleas of a coward;
listen—your final delectation—to the voices,
to the exquisite music of that strange procession,
and say goodbye to her, to the Alexandria you are losing.
Simon, many thanks for the data point! I’ll keep an eye on him.
Info, I figure I’m already on half the watchlists there are…
Andy, if that’s generally the case I suspect a lot of Brits are going to have some very serious shocks ahead of them…
Chris, we’ll see. My guess is that Joe doesn’t have many opinions of his own these days, and his handlers have plenty of good reasons to cling to power.
Neptunesdolphins, it was essential that we left Afghanistan. What was embarrassing was that it was done so ineptly.
Denis, you, you’re not oversimplifying. When I say that people were better read and more intelligent than people now, keep in mind that people now are by and large astonishingly clueless, so better than that is not exactly high praise.
David BTL, that has occurred to me as well.
BobinOK, none of this surprises me at all. That said, thanks for the data points!
Sim, of course it is. Rent-seeking is the basic strategy by which our system maintains itself at this point.
Matthias, fascinating. That’s worth knowing.
Rod, okay, that’s really funny. Thank you!
Chuaquin, so Biden’s failure is a gift that just keeps on giving.
Patricia M, I’m going to go read a novel too!
Lark, many, many thanks for this. Clearly I need to read more Cavafy.
The problem with policy is that it seems to be entirely rigid and dogmatic. Virtually every issue has its peculiar situational aspects to it which are ignored when “policy” is blindly applied.
Policy should be regarded as a rather loose set of guidelines, flexible enough to account for those unique situational realities in whatever issues are being addressed.
@Lark: I am re-reading Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet right now, the Cavafy poems are about the best parts in it!
@Patient Observer (this is the kind of discussion I would have loved to have on the climate post two weeks ago!):
Thanks for your paper on solar physics. I read it from beginning to end with great interest, since I know very little about this area. I do note that its finishing sentences go a long way to undercut the argument you were making here:
“After 1980, however, the Earth’s temperature exhibits a remarkably steep rise, while the Sun’s irradiance displays at the most a weak secular trend. Hence the Sun cannot be the dominant source of this latest temperature increase, with man-made greenhouse gases being the likely dominant alternative.”
I do agree that change of water between different phases (droplets vs. vapor) may be more important in explaining current climate change than it is usually given credit for. Somebody posted an extremely interesting discussion on this subject here some years ago, but I haven’t kept the reference.
I’ve no idea if he’d be to your taste stylistically, but my friend Hopalong Ginsberg (pseudonym) has got some parodies that are howlers.
I believe he’s also on spotify.
Someone in DC ought to have read Thucydides, or any decent history of the Peloponnesian
War about what happened to the Athenians left behind at Syracuse. When the host country wants you out, you leave.
Rod @ #390: Love the routine!
My wife suggested a change to the final line, in accordance with what “CovidVax” supporters do in the face of reasonable arguments:
Bud: Let’s talk about something else…
Felicitations to all!
many many thanks for the huzzah– i soooo needed that after i catching so much hell last night after i proudly sent it out to a ton of pro writers and waited for the incoming hits. it was like getting jumped in to earn my fair use. / was so amped up from my debut, i couldn’t sleep til 4am-ish and i’m in a post-beat down haze now. you’ve gotta ravage your idea in secret first, like pre-wearing something in private so you’ve got eventual “this ole thing?” swagger.
but still very wobbly as i plan on wearing it live everywhere tomorrow first time. hope i make it home. (smile)
had to go in another zone to answer their free and open condescension without ever being defensive / held my own, doubled and tripled down without flinching.
next morning i got a begrudging blessing from one, and i’m sure they all think i’m the devil in tin foil, but it showed me the edge of this fishbowl so i can better focus my blows.
the best thing i got out of it is half of an insult that i’ll flip and use as my best confuse-a-cat answer as i walk away leaving them jacked up and babbling: “nah, they’re just two tortilla chips.”
‘Pisssst’.. You all here hear that sound?? …. that’s the sound of the facade of the shrine of St. Anthony finally pitching over, after ponticating from upon his media dias regarding what she owned like forced mandates a the begrudging public ..
God! I hope so.
God how I despise SPELLCHECK!
‘she owned’ translates into ‘sounds’ like ..
Re: The romanticisation of America (from the point of view a NZ millennial)
For some reason I’ve always had a far less rosy image of the US, that’s despite having grown up with all the exposure to American media (movies, tv shows etc). The place always seems a bit too larger than life for me.. too loud, to big, too giddy, too overconfident.. It always felt like a bit of facade. beneath all the grandiose self confidence lies a not so rosy reality….
I guess if there is a country I have romanticized its probably Britain. Yes I’m fully aware its no longer a country of bowler hats, quiet rural cottages or maids cycling to chruch etc, (the place is an utter mess now from what I’ve heard) of course,. Still the romantic image never quite goes away completely.
anyway just a few thoughts.
Hi John Michael,
Mate, I hear you about that. The thing is the politics is really a secondary matter, as is the health subject which dare not be named. My understanding is that by losing the war (and we were involved up to our eye balls in that too) that other powers have seen our weakness. The land of stuff has shut down one of it’s largest container ports, and we should well expect to see throttled supply of stuff on the shelves within weeks and months. The Russians have ditched the US currency. Why is everyone talking about health matters, when there are other more pressing concerns? That’s what I don’t get.
That is to say, [structured] hierarchy becomes necessary to people who value “unity” (even though it will remain ever elusive, even so). For those who value dissensus, [structured] hierarchy is not at all necessary.
Hard to find a place not dominated by at least one form of government which is the manifestation of said hierarchical structures.
“In saying this I do not at all disregard the social importance of respect for competence and for skill and for wisdom, careful emulation of those you hold in respect, and other such common human social behaviours. It is just that I see that these social behaviours are compatible with situations in which no one is “structured” into pre-hierarchical layered roles, such as set them automatically above and below one another, whereby the deference or contempt, reward or punishment, flowing upwards or downwards, attaches to the role, and not to the competence, or skill, or wisdom (or lack of same) of the person set into that role.”
Its scales pretty well only to a very local level. But not so good when facing a complex agrarian society.
“My own orientation is towards that kind of dissensus, and most definitely AWAY from any promise/threat of “unity”…”
Sounds good. But such societies need to be cloaked from the view of larger Empires by virtue of dwelling in lands that cannot support complex civilizations or in areas that aren’t desirable.
Or by being nomadic which makes it hard to audit and tax in order to support the hierarchical structures of government.
Dear Mr. Greer – There’s another one to keep an eye on, out here in Washington State. Someone mentioned him, further up the blog. Joe Kent. Ex-military, great hair, fit. What’s not to like? 🙂 . Lew
@ Erika – love the armbands and pompoms! Maybe it’s time to do some satirical Fauci cartoons.
Matthias – You’ve illuminated a puzzling faux pas that I made many years ago. I was visiting a military outpost (as a civilian contractor), and had an (apparently casual, it seemed to me) audience with the top officer. One of his men tapped on the office door, and peeked in. “Komm Right In”, I invited him, and the eyebrows went up! I immediately realized that access was not mine to grant, and I apologized. But now, it seems that I was not even issuing an invitation, but a command. (Fortunately, I was forgiven.)
Re: JMG, your reply #162 to B.B. – as a European I can’t imagine that the whole EU could be led by one single dictator, or occupied by one single foreign power. It would split apart long before that.
And re: clueless managerial elites – they are constantly trained to “think different” because if they agree with or think like common people the whole excuse for their privilege would vanish into thin air… this goes to the point where they discover facts well known to common experience and drag them through scientific studies and editorial pieces as if they were the first to ever think about them…
I have to say I find Neptune Dolphins observation upthread to be the best news I’ve heard in a long while. I can imagine a situation where the woke bureaucratic PMC in Washington would simply walk away once they realize they’ve conducted themselves into a Charles Ives err, symphony. Foreign leaders were after all calling Hillary Clinton because no one was answering the phone just last week. what a sweet and tender Mercy it would be if our handlers and betters just walked away.
@everyone discussing the OKCupid study
You forget that this is a study of *OKCupid users*–not the general population–plus it’s old, from back when fewer people used OKCupid. There’s no guarantee these users are a representative cross section of the public. There could easily be different selection effects operating on the women vs. the men.
Another possible explanation of the findings is that a cross section of women used OKCupid (at the time), but only the least attractive men did. This would lead to the skew seen, where female OKCupid users wanted only the top 20% of male OKCupid users. In this situation this top 20% wouldn’t be the top 20% of all men, but would instead be “the best of a bad bunch.”
Not saying that’s definitely how it is, just pointing out it’s another possible interpretation. Some people are more inclined to assume “Oh the OKCupid users had no (or exactly equal) selection effects -> therefore women must be pickier”; others are more inclined to assum