Not the Monthly Post

Present at the Death

Well, the penny finally dropped.  I’m not sure why it took me this long to realize that the collective tantrum that’s seized America’s mass media, intelligentsia, and privileged classes generally for the last two and a half years, since the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, was described right down to the small details back in the 1970s by pioneering grief researcher Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. Granted, she was talking about the five psychological stages that people go through when coming to terms with the reality of a terminal illness, but it makes an accurate model for what we may as well call the five stages of Donald Trump.

The first stage, of course, is denial: in Kübler-Ross’ sequence, the stunned refusal to admit that what’s happened has actually happened. The iconic protester shrieking “NO!!!” as Trump took the oath of office makes a good poster child for this stage, but I’m thinking here also of the widespread fixation among Democrats on the popular-vote totals, the insistence that it was all a mere fluke or must have been rigged by the Russians, the public figures who announced that they would never utter the phrase “President Trump,” and so on. All this was a straightforward if pointless attempt to deny the fact that the American people, according to the rules set out by the Constitution, had just elected Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States.

The second stage is anger:  in Kübler-Ross’ sequence, blind unreasoning rage kindled by the sudden appearance of a yawning gap between expectations and reality. Here again, the internet promptly provided a poster child for this stage, but no one who had any contact with the mass media or the privileged strata of American society can have missed the torrents of futile rage poured out, not only at Trump himself, but at anything and everything that could conceivably be connected or associated or lumped together with him.

The third stage is bargaining. It’s important not to misunderstand this stage, as the bargains in question aren’t made with whatever has kickstarted the process.  In Kübler-Ross’ writings, this is the stage at which terminally ill people repent their sins and make sweeping promises to God or their family or their doctor, in the hope that this will make the unwanted reality go away. The bargaining stage this time around had plenty of manifestations; the two most visible were the Mueller report, on the one hand, and such pledges of collective virtue as the “Green New Deal” and reparations for slavery on the other. In the former case, Democrats acted as though loudly professing faith in Robert Mueller would guarantee that the man’s report would bring down Trump’s presidency; in the latter—well, I don’t think there was even that much logic in it, since a political party that wants to win elections isn’t wise to pledge allegiance to policies supported by a fifth of the electorate at most. The actions of the bargaining phase, as Kübler-Ross points out, don’t have to make sense to anyone else.

The fourth stage is depression, and we’re starting to see the first stirrings of that now. As frantic efforts to twist the Mueller report around to mean what Democrats want it to mean fall apart, Trump’s opponents are starting to take the measure of the uphill struggle that will be needed to defeat an incumbent president with a passionately devoted base and a campaign fund that’s already reached gargantuan size, when the economy is booming, the anti-Trump media has discredited itself in the eyes of many voters and is shedding viewers at an impressive rate, and the Democratic party is split down the middle by bitter internal feuds. Websites on the leftward end of the blogosphere have accordingly started to post a scattering of glum essays on what it will mean if Trump wins a second term in the White House.

Off in the distance, finally, is the fifth stage, which is acceptance. Here again, it’s important not to misunderstand this stage. Acceptance doesn’t mean you have to like what’s happened. Acceptance means dealing with the fact that it’s not going to go away just because you don’t like it. It’s the process of coming to terms with the fact that the world has changed, and it has a payoff that none of the other stages have: it allows you to do something meaningful about the new reality. If you’re dealing with a terminal illness, it allows you to make the arrangements that will allow you to die with some degree of dignity and ensure that your estate is settled the way you want it. If you’re dealing with a new political reality, it allows you to find your feet again and figure out how to offer the voters what they want, instead of what you want them to want.

We live in the opening stages of just such a new political reality now. Among the best measures of the rise of the new reality is the recent flurry of denunciations of “populism” in the mainstream media. And what, pray tell, is populism? It’s the political stance that says that the majority has the right to have a voice in the making of collective decisions. The opposite of populism, though you won’t hear that mentioned in the denunciations I have in mind, is elitism: the viewpoint that only the self-proclaimed Good People have the right to a voice in decisions. That’s a core feature of the ideology that’s going to bits just now.

We can talk about the emergence of the new political reality in various ways, and I’ve explored some of them in previous posts here. The one I’d like to consider this week derives from the metaphor I’ve just used, the stages of grieving that Kübler-Ross discussed in her books. That is to say, we are talking about a death.

In a post three years ago, in the heat of the 2016 election, I described what was then dying and is now settling into rigor mortis under the label “American liberalism.” That was a flawed label, I now think, because it’s considerably too broad. American liberalism is a fabric that includes many different strands, many of which have been shoved out of sight in recent decades and some of which could well have a great deal to offer in the post-Trump future. The specific political stance I have in mind belongs to that subset of liberalism we can call progressivism—the belief that this complicated thing we call “history” has a one-way motor hardwired into it, so that it moves inevitably in the direction that liberals think it should go. At the same time, there are many flavors of progressivism, and it’s one of these in particular that has dominated political discourse in the US over the last six decades or so.

We can call it privileged progressivism: the belief that history always moves toward better things, and that this necessarily involves giving the already privileged more of what they want.

Let’s take a step back and talk a little about the realities of class and privilege in American society. I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts more than once that the most effective way to sort out where someone fits in the convoluted caste system of today’s America is to note how they get the majority of their income. Does it come from return on investments? Does it come from a monthly salary with benefits?  Does it come from an hourly wage, usually with no benefits worth mentioning? Does it come from government welfare payments?  In the US today, it’s usually one of those four—and the investment class, the salary class, the wage class, and the welfare class are thus the four great classes of modern American society.

Are there people who don’t fall into those categories? Sure. I’m one of them; I make most of my income from royalties on my books. People in my classlet fit into the holes and corners of the class structure just outlined.  If they make the sort of modest but decent income I do, they exist somewhere between the wage and salary classes, with salary class educations but wage class income and benefits; if they make incomes in the upper middle class range and display all the right attitudes and values, they can win acceptance into the salary class; if they strike it rich and end up with serious investment income, they’re in the investment class, and the other people in that class treat them as they would any other nouveau-riche aspirant to gentility. The four main classes provide the framework into which eccentric classlets like mine have to fit.

Ever since the Second World War, furthermore, the salary class has been in the ascendant. Read novels from between the wars, and it’s taken for granted that what sets people apart as members of the privileged classes is the possession of enough investment income that they don’t have to work. I’m thinking here, because it’s a favorite book of mine and I reread it not too long ago, of Somerset Maugham’s novel The Razor’s Edge.  In the denouement, the thing that tells you that Larry Darrell is on his way to a destiny most of the other characters can neither follow nor understand is that he has gotten rid of his investments, given the money away, and thus irrevocably removed himself from among the self-proclaimed Good People of his era.

If Maugham were writing today, Darrell’s quest for freedom would have involved quitting a job with a six- or seven-figure salary and an ample benefits package, because that’s what marks you in today’s world as one of the Good People, or in other words a member of the privileged classes. The ascendancy of the salary class is why in 1920, the CEOs of major corporations were the obsequious lackeys of the boards of directors, while now it’s generally the other way around; it’s also why interest rates, the most basic measure of the returns that provide the investment class with their income, have spent so many years at such rock-bottom levels. Members of the salary class borrow more money than they invest, and so benefit from low interest rates; members of the investment class invest more than they borrow, and so the level at which interest rates are set is a fair measure of the balance of power between the two classes.

The ascendancy of the salary class also explains why every proposal enacted to help the two less prosperous classes, to benefit the environment, or to solve some other problem, always benefits the salary class more than it does the purported beneficiaries of the proposal. People living on welfare in today’s America scrape by with a wretched standard of living, but that can’t be said of the legions of salaried bureaucrats who administer those same welfare programs. Similarly, the big push to send unemployed wage class Americans to college, there to get job training for jobs that didn’t happen to exist, turned into a disaster for millions of people who were lured into taking out student loans they will never be able to pay off and cannot discharge by bankruptcy. On the other hand, it was a huge success for the salaried employees of universities and banks, who prospered mightily from the scheme and ended up carrying none of the costs.

This is also why the environmental reforms promoted by well-funded think tanks and corporate media outlets impose costs solely on farmers, coal miners, and other people outside the salary class, while the earth-wrecking behaviors of the salary class—the long commutes in SUVs, the vacations in Puerto Vallarta or Mazatlan, the sprawling, amenity-laden, and nearly uninsulated McMansions that use as much electricity as a city block in eastern Europe or an entire town in Indonesia, and the rest of it—get a free pass. Any time you see an environmental protest that focuses on demanding that governments do something, while neglecting the massive carbon footprints of the people involved in the protest, you’re looking at privileged progressivism on the hoof.

Perhaps the most extreme example of this sort of privileged self-interest, though, came recently from R.F. “Beto” O’Rourke, currently a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.  He was asked by someone at a campaign event how he would solve the problem of “food deserts”—that is, areas that have no grocery stores. We’ll set aside for the moment the far from minor issue that under the US constitution, regulating the geographical distribution of grocery stores is not a duty assigned to the federal government, much less the office of the president. The point relevant here is that O’Rourke’s answer was that there ought to be a sustainable organic farm-to-table restaurant in every neighborhood.

Even the reporters choked, because farm-to-table restaurants are a current fad among the well-to-do, and a modest dinner for two at one of these establishments generally costs enough to keep a wage class family of four fed for a week or more. Nobody from the wage class or the welfare class, the two classes that have to deal with food deserts, can afford to eat at a farm-to-table restaurant—for that matter, neither can I—so O’Rourke’s suggestion amounts to saying that the best solution to the problem of inadequate food for the poor is to give salary class people more options for fine dining. Somehow the words “Let them eat organic arugula” come forcibly to mind.

It’s important to realize, though, that the people who benefit from these arrangements by and large don’t see themselves as riding roughshod over the public good or profiting off the sufferings of others, even when that’s basically what they’re doing. That’s what differentiates privileged progressivism from the privileged conservatism of the pre-Trump Republican Party, an ideology that can summed up tolerably well with the words “I’ve got mine, Jack.” Believers in privileged progressivism are convinced that they are the Good People, that their attitudes are really shared by every morally good person and their lifestyles are what every human being really wants. What’s more, they believe that the arc of history bends inevitably toward them: that eventually, as a result of the unstoppable march of progress, every single human being on earth will have the same attitudes they do and lead the same lifestyles they do, because their attitudes and lifestyles are what goodness, truth, right, and justice are all about.

If you want to see that belief system in action, watch the way that people of color who want to become members of the upper ranks of the salary class are expected to systematically discard everything that sets them apart from other members of the salary class. (Note that I’m not talking about athletes, musicians, university professors, or other people in the entertainment sector, who are expected to flaunt their differences from the salary-class norm, so they can be patronized accordingly.) If it’s not a matter of raw biology—for example, skin color—out it goes:  attitudes, values, lifestyles, all must conform to the privileged-progressive template. There is no room for anything but the most harmlessly cosmetic of variations.

This isn’t simply a matter of ordinary conformism, tbough of course that’s involved as well. To the privileged progressives, their attitudes and lifestyles are the hallmarks of the glorious future everyone will eventually embrace, whether they want to or not. Every person who embraces these things in advance of that final triumph, discarding their own values and preferences in the process, hastens the coming of the privileged progressive utopia, where people of every continent and gender and ethnic group without exception will all believe exactly the same set of rigidly dogmatic ideologies and embrace exactly the same suffocatingly narrow range of lifestyles.

That, in turn, is why privileged progressivism started coming apart at the seams when Donald Trump broke free of the pack of Republican candidates in the 2016 election campaign. He did that, as my readers will remember, by addressing the concerns of the millions of wage class Americans who were being expected to foot the bill for the attitudes and lifestyles of the salary class, and who had been plunged into destitution and misery by forty years of policies that benefited the salary class at their expense. Like most ideologies of the privileged, privileged progressivism only made sense so long as its proponents could pretend that theirs was the only viewpoint that mattered. Once the viewpoints of the excluded forced themselves onto the public stage by way of Trump’s electoral victory, that was no longer the case.

The new political reality we face in today’s America is one in which it’s no longer possible to pretend that history has a motor driving it in whatever direction will give the salary class whatever it happens to want. That means, in turn, that members of the salary class who want something may just have to bargain for it, and provide members of other classes with some of the things they want, even when this inconveniences the salary class. It also means, as some of my readers may have noticed, that some of the underprivileged groups who’ve been told to wait patiently for crumbs to fall from the table of the salary class are beginning to speak up for themselves and demand that their needs be taken into account now, thank you very much.

It’s indicative of this that the media is belatedly starting to talk about the yawning gaps between what salary class politicians say they believe and the way they live their lives. New York mayor Bill de Blasio is the latest poster child for this phenomenon: the proponent of a grandiose set of green reforms, he also drives ten miles every day in an SUV to work out in a fashionable gym. Could he have some exercise equipment installed in Gracie Mansion and spare the atmosphere a lot of unnecessary carbon? Sure, but until recently the rule that members of the salary class get whatever they want shielded him from criticism. The criticism he’s now fielding shows that the rule in question no longer applies.

That is to say, we are returning to politics as usual. As the shrieks of denial and anger, the chatter of bargaining, and the moans of depression fall silent, what’s beginning to emerge is ordinary politics, in which different sectors of the electorate offer their support to politicians in exchange for the policies they want and need, and politicians who don’t follow through on their promises can expect to have the sectors that supported them turn to someone else next time around. What this shows, in turn, is that the period that came to an end in 2016 was a period of politics as unusual, in which the interests of a single class temporarily eclipsed the needs of everyone else.

Yes, there have been such periods before in American history, and it’s interesting to note that each of them ended in a hotly contested election in which the candidate who won was cordially hated by the establishment and its tame media. If you want a list, dear reader, I encourage you to sit down with a good history of the United States and make one yourself; a basic knowledge of American history is rare enough these days that the experience will probably do you good.

What makes for a period of politics as unusual, finally, is the same theme I’ve been developing here since the last months of 2018: what happens when all of reality is expected to conform to a single, self-interested narrative that privileges the experience of one class, or species, or group of individuals over all others. More than two centuries ago, the poet William Blake gave a cogent name to that habit of thought: “single vision.”  In the posts ahead, we’ll gather up the threads of our exploration of single vision, and try to glimpse something of what lies beyond it.


  1. Calling all Greerheads!

    The May meeting of the Green Wizards Association of Auckland will be held on the 25th of May 2019 at 13:00.

    Our inaugural meeting was a huge success with a bigger than expected turnout and the mailing list keeps growing.

    We are still on the lookout for a permanent venue but for now we will meet up near Aotea Square, 303 Queen St, Auckland, 1010, New Zealand.

    Please RSVP, or send queries and comments to GWAA[at] or better still sign up for e-mail reminders at

    We look forward to meeting you.

  2. After some thought I think the best thing we could do is take a page from the Chinese Cultural Revolution and instead of requiring all future members of the Salary class go to college, require 4 years of old fashioned labor in hard scrabble organic farming. That would do wonders to reorient their world view.

  3. Wow. Just wow. Happy May Day! So grateful to have found the most cogent analysis of American political economy and social study available on the interwebs. Such a huge fan. I’m in awe. So relieved to follow your eminently sensible outlook as it’s a rock of sanity in strange times. Very much looking forward to this summer’s solstice and the Weirdness of Hali book event in Brooklyn to continue the conversation in person. I’ve been lurking since the blog’s inception and on ADR for many years before that, heard many podcasts, even commented once or twice anonymously on Magic Monday, but never was moved to post like I was by this incisive observation of our contemporary media’s mythic cyle and its epic coverage of the imperial elections. Bravo!

  4. Hi JMG. Another, as usual, informative post. It brought to mind an encounter I recently had with a colleague at the war factory. We are both members of the salary class, but for years I suffered from the malady of privileged progressivism. I am in the Ecosophiac program of recovery for that. Anyway this colleague, a rabid Republican conservative (the inappropriate use of the term to which you often allude) came to my desk foaming at the mouth about Bernie Sanders. He ranted about how Sanders would not answer press questions about how he would pay for his SOCIALISTIC policies. I said he would tax the rich. I only said this to stir the pot. His profanity laden response about taxes was an example of how the salary class believes they are entitled and how it is the way things are supposed to be and how unaware many of them are. I won’t go into all the SUVs and giant pickup trucks in the War factory parking lot. Thank you!

  5. Greetings all, Given the above, then there is return to a healthier form of politics, closer to the needs of the majority. Who, then will be the privileged class in the US in the years to come?

  6. Cogent as always and I’m looking forward to the next installment. However, I don’t think you can provide a complete picture without discussing the American aristocracy; those that live above the 4 groups you’ve already mentioned.

  7. Ha! “University professors, or other people in the entertainment sector.” You nailed it , John Michael! As you did in the words that follow: “who are expected to flaunt their differences from the salary-class norm, so they can be patronized accordingly.” So true! But a savvy university professor can use that shtick to “con” the salary-class “marks” that control the university purse-strings.

  8. I think your analysis here applies to much of the Western world (Europe included).

    Here in Canada we now have a carbon tax and consequently the cost of groceries has noticeably gone up. The working class and working poor generally oppose this tax, but enough of the middle-class allowed it to proceed.

    Meanwhile I am jogging past the soccer field and see nothing but SUVs parked nearby. High school students from all over were evidently driven to some event. It got me thinking how laborers and the working poor, and those receiving welfare, bear the burden of these “green policies”. I doubt most suburban residents notice when their box of generic pasta rises $0.50, but the poor certainly do.

    Increasingly the poor in this country have to buy their staples at the dollar store, since grocery stores are increasingly gentrified even in city centers. Few seem to notice the discrepancy between the apparent middle-class “green lifestyles” and their fresh organic kale shipped thousands of miles from sunny California into a -40’c winter landscape.

  9. Your class division is an interesting one and you have gone a stage further than I had previously noticed, in stating that people are class conscious in those terms eg how to be accepted into the salary class.

    I don’t think it fits the UK in quite these terms as the shift to monthly salaries has been very widespread to the extent that the Tory (and coalition) government’s latest failing welfare reforms have transitioned to monthly payouts to bank accounts, to educate claimants in the ways of work! We would have to identify different markers.

  10. A blessed Beltane to you and your readers! When I first made that wish on The Archdruid Report five years ago, it inspired me to post pictures and videos of drum and bugle corps dancing around maypoles. This year, coincidentally befitting your going through the five stages of grief, I shared a drum corps show about sending out a distress signal. Unlike the corps, your essay says what passes for the American Left will have to figure out a way to rescue themselves. No one else is going to do that for them.

    Speaking of which, you wrote “a political party that wants to win elections isn’t wise to pledge allegiance to policies supported by a fifth of the electorate at most.” That’s a good point, but it misses at least part of the motivation. The Green New Deal is the kind of proposal (stolen from the Green Party) that is designed to excite activists, which are needed to win the primaries and get to the general election. It’s also the kind of issue that gets a candidate to stand out, such as Jay Inslee making climate change his signature issue. Climate Change and reparations may have the support of a fifth of the electorate, but that fifth of the electorate may be a majority of Democratic primary election voters, without whom the candidates may not get the chance to run against Trump.

    That this circles back to your point about acceptance only reinforces its importance. Beto O’Rourke, who you rightfully ridiculed for his proposal, is the beneficiary of concerns about electability. Now that Joe Biden is running, those concerns are likely to help him. He’s less likely to support fringe ideas, which will help him in the general election, should he win the nomination. That’s not certain.

  11. Marcu, I hope it goes well. Er, “Greerheads”?

    Fenian, I ain’t arguing. When your sense of entitlement includes the notion that the whole arc of human history bends the way you want it, that’s kind of hard to top.

    Clay, I doubt that would work. History seems to have a better plan: let them experience the slow unraveling of their entire scheme of privilege, while they go through the five stages over and over again until reality can finally get a word in edgewise.

    Jay, thank you! And a happy Calan Mai to you and yours.

    Mac, oh, granted, privileged conservatism (the ideology of “I’ve got mine, Jack”) can be just as noxious as privileged progressivism. It doesn’t make a good example of single vision, though, nor are its true believers melting down quite as entertainingly at the moment.

    Karim, that hasn’t been determined yet. It’ll depend on which economic sectors, and which modes of economic activity, take the lead over the next decade or so.

    Bakerpete, they aren’t above the four categories just mentioned. The old aristocracy is the upper end of the investment class; the newer and much larger sector of the US aristocracy is the upper end of the salary class. It’s been a common gimmick on the part of salary class aristocrats in recent years to insist that the elites are somebody other than them, since that way they can shout abuse at someone else for the consequences of policies they themselves have created and enforced.

    Robert, of course! One of the eternal verities of caste-ridden societies is that those who are sufficiently canny and unscrupulous can use a position in the entertainment sector to get what they want from clueless elites. Cagliostro comes to mind here, so you’re in distinguished company. 😉

  12. This is d**n good stuff. The American Salary class’s utter blindness to their own failings is truly something to behold. Betto Boy seems to be operating on Marie Antoinette levels of clueless-ness.

    One of the things I’ve been seeing as I watch American politics from the sidelines is the centre left’s increasing animosity and hatred toward its own left “fringe”. Trump taught them to hate again and they are turning that energy onto their own kids in a desperate attempt to avoid facing the reality that corporate left-ism (socially progressive policies in the front, brutal capitalist exploitation in the back) is a failure.

    I’m currently a salary person myself, but my days are numbered. I can’t take this biometric crap.

  13. John–

    Pointed and direct, which I appreciate.

    I somehow missed that story about Beto’s “solution” to food deserts. For crying out loud…even I’m not so thick-skulled as to offer up something like that (and I can be pretty clueless sometimes).

    I’m not sure if this falls under denial or bargaining, but I still see much discussion about how it was “racism” and not “economics” which pushed people into the Trump camp. Just from today, for example, another such study of Iowa Democrats who crossed over in ’16:

    How can the Democrats effectively deal with the reality if they won’t acknowledge that reality in the first place? I’m guessing the answer is they can’t–and it might take another loss for them to fully wake up.

    I see talk of how “working class Joe” will be able to win back the Midwest, but if the policies proffered do nothing for the working classes, and all that is being put forth is theatrical window-dressing, are the voters not sensible enough to see through this? Admittedly, Trump is a lot of bluster, but he has Done Things to change the status quo. Biden is little more than a re-tread of the same old package as before. I don’t understand this strategy at all, even though I can see why it is being pursued from the perspective of those who have the world-view you have described.

    Blue Wave redux. Mueller’s report. Impeachment. Fluke of history. Worthless independent voters. Ignorant, racist, sexist tribal cultist base (seriously, people talk like that). This is what I see being discussed out there. I see little in the way of reasoned assessment as yet, at least in the one corner of the the liberal blogosphere in which I lurk.

  14. A very lucid accounting, I think your class markers are spot on. When my wife and I decided to dump the salary class life that we previously lived in Portland, OR and go off-grid in rural NE Washington State, we received some interesting reactions. A minority of my ex-coworkers confided, in private, almost hushed tones, that they were envious and would love to do the same thing. They hinted at how stifling they considered the expected ideological conformity in that progressive “paradise” (I fully expect a “Portland is Dying” documentary to come out any day, if just to ‘keep up’ with Seattle!) that is salary-class Portland. Some co-workers seemed incredulous and almost sneered at me as if I were a traitor. The largest portion, however, simply seemed baffled and confused that someone could want a different way of life, one that might involve manual labor and dirt, no less! My family has never been happier, nor I more hopeful, and living without debt has allowed me the breathing room to explore many new ways of making a living, I’m having a blast doing it!

  15. You talk about a wage class you person who goes college, accumulates student debt, can’t get a salary class job and can’t default on the debt. But that is new; the 2005 Bankruptcy Act made it harder to default on student debt, and included debt for for-profit school. The Act also made it harder to default on credit card debt. Both of these provision hurt the wage class, and it was passed by the Bush Congress. Republicans, or “privileged conservatism” as you call it, were responsible for this Act. In general, Republicans have served the needs of the investment class, and the bankruptcy act is one example.
    What I don’t understand is why you defend President Trump, a privileged conservative, whose major legislative accomplishment is reducing business taxes, which clearly serves the investment class. Trump isn’t the wage class’s friend, nor are the Republicans. Trump’s explanation of wage class distress — it’s the fault of immigrants — is intended to set white wage class members against brown wage class members, in a classic investment class tactic of dividing the wage class.
    Privileged progressives are easy to mock; David Brooks has been doing it since he wrote “Bobos in Paradise.” At least the privileged progressive are trying to do something, which the privileged conservatives are not.

  16. @Mac–you could have told the raging conservative that Sanders could pay for his socialistic programs the same way his party pays for all their wars. That would be a little unfair, since neither party can plausibly claim to be the party of peace; but it might have made him think, just for a minute.

  17. Good recommendation on obtaining a basic working knowledge of Colonial/U.S. History. Hint: From bonded labor schemes to chattel slavery to immigration, one of the landmarks of the American Way is that Labor must always get screwed. Whether Labor is screwed by a precious few or a smothering many is irrelevant to the working class in effect, and much to my grim amusement, the politicos who are still talking about the “Middle Class” still haven’t figured that out. Good luck in the next election!

    A professional bureaucracy only exists when the coordination of a vast empire is needed. As this empire crumbles, the old way of things will return, with the broken promises of liberal educations shattering along the way. Progressives are now talking about blanket student loan forgiveness plans – what better evidence do we need that the promises of forty years came to nothing for the current generation? None of my friends went to college with a return-on-investment mindset: PhDs working as waiters and ringing up customers at the liquor store.

    The pretense of progressivism is fractured and dying, giving way to rank identity politics. A quick look at the identity politics of the 1930’s gives us a shuddering glimpse of how well that is going to work out.

  18. John,
    Funny, witty, and insightful as always. As someone who enjoys eating at trendy farm-to-table restaurants on occasion as well as having run a small organic, grass-based farm myself (I also know many others who do) I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the quote from Beto. That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all week. It rings eerily similar to what our governor Phil Murphy here in New Jersey said in an interview. Someone asked him a similar question about how does he plan to insure “access” to healthy food in these so-called food deserts, and his response was “farmers markets”. It’s part of the reason I “left the left” not long after the 2016 elections. Having lived in the New York area for many years I began to realize that most of the so-called progressives I spent most of my time around weren’t any closer to the truth than the FOX-News-watching, rest-of-America that they all made fun of.

    For what it’s worth, not everyone in the “sustainable agriculture” movement is a pretentious out-of-touch hipster. If you would like some faith in the human race restored, look up Joel Salatin at Polyface Farm in VA for someone outside the progressive establishment who is actually doing something constructive where local, healthy, organic food is concerned.

  19. Very sharp analysis, thankyou.

    Deserves a front page somewhere ?

    Very unlikely to get one !

  20. You make many great points about the current class stratification in America. I often like to joke that I live in the shadow of billionaires. Unfortunately it is not a joke. I have a tiny 390 sqf apartment in a very nice neighborhood in Manhattan. It cost a fortune and I find myself embarrassed by the price. A half mile away is “Billionaires row”, a collection of megalithic skyscrapers that arisen over the last few years that literally cast their shadows over much the city. An apartment just sold in one of these buildings for $238 million dollars. Of course, the developer and the purchaser figured out some loopholes to not pay the standard purchase tax.

    I eat a lot of beans and rice and ferment my own kefir, mostly because I have come to believe there is little joy in consumption. My political views have varied over the years as my experiences have changed me. I grew up in the salaried class and went to what you would consider “elite” schools. I did not know it as a youth, but I was afforded great privilege due to the circumstances of birth. My path has led me to place where I reject most of the material in favor of the non-material, call it spirit or whatever. Most of my family and former school friends think I have lost my mind for rejecting their reality. I say this to give context to my questions.

    In all my amateur philosophizing and meditating, I can not come up with any satisfactory theories on why hierarchies and caste systems seem inevitable. Is it a function of complexity and evolution? I know of no society that functions without one. I agree our current system seems unbalanced – is it just a natural part of the cycle? How can we create a more equitable system?

  21. Where would you fit retired salary class professionals living off of pensions (i.e. investment income) into this class scheme?

  22. Judging by this year’s proposals from the Democratic Party, their group of privileged salarycrats have a way yet to go before attaining sense, never mind enlightenment. Not a word about reviving passenger rail or using canal networks–the Barge Canal, which replaced the old Erie Canal around 1900 or so, is fully usable right now– or even extending bus service to rural towns, something which could also happen right now with modest investment.

    I find it interesting that a number of the Democratic candidates are in fact representatives of various tribes and interest groups, from whom they clearly, I think, receive financial support, Buttigieg for gays, for example, and Gabbard for the Hindu/Sikh/Jain diaspora. Yang is, I think, sui generis; his family are Taiwanese and have no cause to love the PRC, which, in any case, has other ways of influencing American elections and policy. His support may be coming from the tech sector. I wish he would run for Senate or a governorship and build up a record of accomplishment outside of business.. I suspect Jay Inslee is attempting to get across a point that if the Democrats are going to continue to count on PNW electoral votes they had better pay some attention to PNW environmental concerns. Once upon a time candidates like Inslee, Klobuchar, Warren, and Hickenlooper would have been favorite sons or daughters, financed by regional business interests with instructions as to what deal they must make to release their delegates to the winner..

    Gillibrand, the sleeper in the race, is Mme. Clinton without the scandals and better political instincts; she represents Wall Street, with Booker, a neo-liberal true believer, for backup. This is, of course, a cynical ploy to get African-American voters to support the WS candidate, either because of one of ours, or first woman president.

    I believe that Sanders gets his backing from the same folks who promoted him last time, supporters of Israel who are horrified and dismayed by Bibi’s antics, and I think they made the same approach they did last time; we don’t have anyone else, we will finance you , we can run it through small donations, that nutcase Bibi along with the neo-cons are set to blow up the entire Middle East and the world will hate both Israel and the USA for the next 500 years.

    The group behind Gabbard seem to me to have made a very sophisticated calculation. I think this Hindu /Sikh/ Jain diaspora feels threatened by the immigration policies of the current administration, and, in order have policies more to their liking, has decided to back a candidate from their midst who will offer a program attractive to large numbers of Americans but not previously heard in national campaigns. A program which includes things like closing overseas bases, support for sustainable ag, promoting GND, Medicare for All, and many Americans might indeed agree that for those policies I guess we can live with a generous immigration policy.

  23. Jeffrey, those are excellent examples of what I’m talking about. Thank you.

    Matt, that doesn’t surprise me — the US and Britain have diverged quite a bit since 1776. 😉 I suspect the class structure is somewhat different on your side of the pond, though privileged progressivism is alive and well there (cough, cough, Tony Blair, cough, cough).

    Varun, thank you.

    Vincelamb, yes, but that simply shows the bind that the Democrats have gotten themselves into. If they proposed policies that offered anything significant to the wage class, their candidates wouldn’t be dependent on the activist fringe; as it is, by waving around the Green New Deal and the like, they’re simply handing Trump a club with which he can belabor them in the general election campaign.

    Andrew, the center left is in an unenviable bind. They’ve spent the last forty years talking liberal and acting neoconservative; now they’ve got their own left wing demanding that they live up to all those decades of talk, and Trump’s GOP demonstrating that it can do a better job of being conservative. If things go as they’re going, 2020 may be the center-left’s Waterloo — and a good thing, too, as that might just clear the ground on which a genuine liberalism could take shape again.

    David BTL, you know that one side of a struggle is doomed when it puts more energy into reassuring its followers than it does into winning. That’s basically where the Democrats are now. The blue collar voters in the Midwest know perfectly well why they voted for Trump, and it didn’t have anything to do with racism; the Democrats are insisting otherwise because that allows them to keep believing that they really are the Good People.

    Astronomer, congratulations! It takes courage to bail out on a failing privileged class and go do something worthwhile with your life. I’m not at all surprised to hear of the reactions you field; I hear much the same things any time people in the salary class find out that I bailed out on a middle class lifestyle, and my wife and I are perfectly happy with our very modest income and surroundings and wouldn’t take a six-figure salary class lifestyle if it were served up to us on a platter.

    Tomriverwriter, no, they’re not trying to “do something,” if by “doing something” you mean anything but feathering the collective nest of the salary class. That’s exactly my point. As one of my other commenters noted, what the privileged progressives offer is “socially progressive policies in the front, brutal capitalist exploitation in the back.” The problem they face now is that the rest of the population has realized that it has the chance to have its own voice heard and get its concerns met. The privileged progressives won’t offer them that, any more than the privileged conservatives did — but Trump’s done that, and is continuing to do that. That’s what propelled a loudmouthed reality TV star into the highest office in this country, and it’s going to keep him there unless some other political force starts listening to the wage class instead of trying to tell them what they ought to think.

    DaShui, interesting. If we start seeing “Thanos was Right” buttons, that’ll be a sign that some basic sanity is beginning to trickle back into our culture.

    Hew, good. My working guess is that it was precisely America’s expansion into a global empire that propelled the salary class, which is also the administrative/bureaucratic class, into its recent condition of political and cultural dominance. Now that the US empire is unraveling, we need a lot fewer bureaucrats and a lot more plumbers and engineers — and the salary class is likely to shrink drastically over the years to come. I don’t envy those who’ve bought into the self-glorifying ideology of the salary class; they’re facing a shattering collision with an unwelcome reality in the years immediately ahead.

  24. Hi JMG, I’m contemplating your analysis that low interest rates are a function of the needs and interests of the salary class. I’ve never really thought of it that way, and always thought of it as more a function of the financialization of the economy and vast expansion of debt, both public and private, since interest rates peaked in 1982. In other words, interest rates need to be held low in order to service all of the new debt.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think your analysis takes mine to its logical conclusion by explaining why debt has grown so much. The vast expansion of debt has benefited privileged elites, particularly those at the top of finance, education, and government (who often shuttle between the private and public sector in order to protect their perks). Their business models require the growth of debt, preferably to be paid by someone else, so they can continue to expand their share of the economic pie and pay themselves out-sized salaries. High paying jobs in finance and education (particularly administrators) are supported by debt taken on by the two lower classes and even some members of the salary class, while the investment class “pays” by getting a paltry return on their savings. It’s really rather ingenuous how most of the benefits of the current system flow from every other group to the one privileged group.

    That leads me to a question: as the retiring members of the salary class enter the investment class will they have an effect on this model in addition to push back from the investment, wage, and welfare classes?

    Thank you for a thought provoking post.

  25. Ethan, oh, trust me, I know that there are a lot of people in the small-scale organic agriculture field who are the opposite of the pretentious-hipster class. The farmer’s market where I shop in season here in relentlessly working-class East Providence does a lot of business with SNAP recipients and the working poor, and the farmers who show up are pleasant, down-to-earth people who don’t look down their noses at anyone. The same was true when I shopped at the University District farmer’s market in Seattle, buying cheap tasty vegetables from Hmong refugee market gardeners. I’m just sorry that the pretentious-hipster crowd has given organic agriculture a bad name in some circles!

    Justin, that would be “Awen” in Druidish, chanted in three syllables — “ah-oh-en.” Thank you, and a happy Calan Mai to you and yours!

    Neil, you’re welcome and thank you. No, I’m not holding my breath either.

    Docshibby, all social primates organize their societies in hierarchical form, with some apes more privileged than other apes, so I think we’re probably stuck with it. The best we can do is try to work out ways that the different classes all have their voices heard and at least some of their needs met.

    Curtis, when you retire from the salary class with a pension, you move into one of the lower rungs of the investment class. For as long as there’s been a salary class, it’s been standard for its more prosperous members to try to get into the investment class, and the current scheme of pensions and retirement investments simply systematizes what used to be a more catch-as-catch-can process.

    Nastarana, that seems like a good analysis. Gabbard’s strategy is particularly clever, because — unlike other Democratic figures — she’s clearly interested in cutting bargains with other power centers and interest groups, offering them what they want in exchange for the things her faction wants. That used to be ordinary politics, and since most of the other Democrats have forgotten how to do it, her chances of ending up in the White House in 2024 or 2028 are, I think, not small.

  26. A brilliant essay as always.

    As someone who works with small farms and local food systems, I see some value in farm-to-table restaurants. Food is vastly undervalued relative to the cost of production; if proper care is given to the land and a decent wage is paid to workers, farms simply can’t compete in a global race to the bottom. Farm-to-table schemes help to subsidize the small farm economy by eliminating some middlemen and injecting much-needed cash into farms from high-paying salary-class patrons. They help to keep farms afloat, but only a small fraction of the food is sold this way. Most of it finds its way into grocery stores and markets where it is cost-competitive with the prepackaged precooked food on the shelves – if folks are willing and able to cook at home. Due to unreasonable quality standards, a significant fraction (up to 25% in some cases) is unsaleable and ends up in food banks where it benefits the welfare class. Certainly farm-to-table restaurants aren’t the answer to food deserts, but they can be helpful to revitalizing local food systems in areas where there are enough wealthy patrons to serve.

    You claim that there is not a separate “aristocracy” class, but what would you say to the following observation? The revolving door between big corporate money and government administration that has gone on for the last 40+ years has continued under Trump, and if anything has become more transparent. Goldman Sachs execs still run the treasury, big pharma folks still run the Department of Health, etc. It seems to me that there is a group of very wealthy Americans who do not feel threatened by the shift currently underway and who are simply positioning themselves to remain on the top of the angrily frothing and tectonically shifting volcano beneath them. Most of Trump’s fiscal policy (especially the tax cuts) has favored those at the top, while his ideological policy (and his carefully-crafted image) has appealed to the wage class.

    I know you’ve said in the past that by and large the investment and wage classes are united on the right and the salary and welfare classes are united on the left. I thought that to be a particularly useful generalization, and it makes sense: Economic growth creates both a rise in investment income and a rise in wages/creation of new jobs, so in a growing economy their interests can align. Salary and welfare incomes are less directly tied to the economy, and both can be viewed as leeches/drags on a healthy economy by the other two classes.

    It seems to me that the alliance between wealthy investors and wage earners cannot survive a recession, when the former complain about losing the yachts and the latter find themselves facing a pay cut or else are laid off and cast into the welfare class. I have to assume this is why Trump is willing to throw fiscal conservatism and all manner of environmental regulations under the bus to grow the economy at all costs. If this is a time of divisive reckoning on the left, I suspect the next one will happen on the right whenever the wheels come off of our current economic bubble.

  27. Ryan, members of the salary class have been retiring on pensions since there has been a salary class. When they retire, they leave the positions that give them power, and so their concerns drop in importance in terms of the current national elite.

    Marcus, got it — you’re in the contest.

    Mark, if small farmers can make good money supplying the well-to-do with fine dining experiences, I have no objection to that; anything that encourages people to milk the overprivileged is a good thing in my book. As for the American aristocracy, um, did you notice that the people who are earning salaries from Goldman Sachs and Lockheed are then earning salaries at the Treasury or the Pentagon? The exchange of personnel from private salary-class jobs to public salary-class jobs and back again is a central mechanism by which the salary class maintained its power in the age of American empire.

  28. So the phrase “threat to our democracy” keeps coming up in the media referring to what they call Trumpism, while two breathes later they denounce populism as dangerous. How is what they call “true democracy” not the same thing as populism?

    And you explained it in your post with identification of The Self-Proclaimed Good People™. I just gave it the trademark sign because I really think you should own that phrase. It summarizes so much of the zeitgeist.

    Perhaps The Self-Proclaimed Good People™ are also realizing the death or absence of these things that have disappeared in the last few years:

    Solar City – they magically come and install solar panels on your house at no cost to you and your electric bill goes down!

    Solar Roof Tiles – replace your roof with magical roof tiles that are also solar panels!

    Self-Driving Cars – we are all going to speeding down the highway no longer stuck in traffic jams and able to watch our favorite TV shows while blissfully relaxing during our commutes!

    Bitcoin – this easy investment is guaranteed to make you a millionaire several times over and the best part is you can create the currency yourself!

    Affordable Health Care – once the young and healthy enroll in health insurance, the cost will go down for everyone instantly!

    You also touched on something I’ve been pondering a lot lately….the number of people that get paid really good money to sit in a series of meetings all day talking about things they could do. It’s such a bunch of malarkey. The pre-meeting for the planning meeting and then post meeting to strategize for the next pre-meeting. And people think this work is vital. The money flowing in their direction needs squeezed shut like it did in the 2008 meltdown.

    One more thing – We need this paragraphed meme’d: “To the privileged progressives, their attitudes and lifestyles are the hallmarks of the glorious future everyone will eventually embrace, whether they want to or not. Every person who embraces these things in advance of that final triumph, discarding their own values and preferences in the process, hastens the coming of the privileged progressive utopia, where people of every continent and gender and ethnic group without exception will all believe exactly the same set of rigidly dogmatic ideologies and embrace exactly the same suffocatingly narrow range of lifestyles.” It caused me to cringe and laugh in recognition at the same time. It’s a powerful idea!

  29. You’re going to write about, as you put it, “. . .what happens when all of reality is expected to conform to a single, self-interested narrative that privileges the experience of one class, or species, or group of individuals over all others.”

    According to my understanding of how almost all complex civilizations have been organized, this would be the m.o. of just about every one of them throughout history. At least our elite class doesn’t require the daily sacrifice of hundreds of human beings, as did the Aztecs. And did we ever have a period in the U.S. when the decision making was truly a group effort across classes? If so, it was, I think, a historical anomaly.

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to do better, but really, this may be as good as it gets. Jesus and Paul were preaching millenia ago against the injustices, cruelty, and plain wrong-headedness perpetrated by the Roman Empire. The empires may change, but the criticisms stay pretty much the same. Once in a while some people go and upset the apple cart, and send people like Marie Antoinette to the guillotine. But then the same old stuff comes back. Why? Maybe because it works well enough for enough people, even those who say they hate it.

  30. @docshibby
    “In all my amateur philosophizing and meditating, I can not come up with any satisfactory theories on why hierarchies and caste systems seem inevitable. Is it a function of complexity and evolution? I know of no society that functions without one. I agree our current system seems unbalanced – is it just a natural part of the cycle? How can we create a more equitable system?”

    I’ve wondered the same thing many times, and have long fantasized about a more equitable society. Part of it is probably evolutionary, as JMG said in his reply. Partly I think it is an outgrowth of societal size and complexity. Small tribal societies tend to be rather non-hierarchical, but transition into strong hierarchies as they grow into empires. Similarly, simple multicellular lifeforms (i.e. sea sponges) tend to have little difference between the experience of any given cell, while complex lifeforms have vast differentiation. Brain neurons live for 80+ years in a carefully controlled idea environment, while skin cells have comparably short and brutish lives.

    It is hard to argue that simple societies are better than complex ones, or vice versa – but there are perks to living in a complex society and it does seem that inequality might be an unavoidable consequence of increasing complexity. So…my perspective is gradually changing from “end inequality” to “encourage respect and reciprocity.” A body could not survive for long if heart cells decided to stop pumping blood to the hands to have more oxygen for themselves, or if the brain neglected to respond to the signals from the burning feet saying “move away from the fire!”. Similarly, a civilization requires concentration of wealth to accomplish great works, but it cannot be sustained if those in positions of power and authority do not appreciate the working peasantry as essential to the whole, use their authority to protect the whole and all of its parts from harm, and provide offerings to the whole that would not be possible in a less complex society (parks, museums, disaster relief funds, libraries, food aid in times of need, and all other forms of noblesse oblige).

  31. Two things;

    One, going through the 5 stages seems to be a sticky process. I see most of my friends and family who voted for HRC spending most of their time and energy in stage 2, even after 2.5 years. I did see a lot of activity that could be called stage 3, and now that the report is out I see some stage 4 activity – mostly in the form of doubling down on the collusion theory. When they can’t convince anyone outside their bubble they revert back to stage 2. Did Kubler-Ross say anything about having to fully get past a stage w/o returning to it?

    Two, I suppose there’s no real point in quibbling about definitions. I agree with your analysis, it’s just that we use words differently. I use “progressive” to mean people who support most of what Bernie is proposing. I see them as distinct from “Liberals” or run of the mill Democrats. Liberal and Conservative are, imo, largely meaningless terms. To the extent I use the term liberal it simply means someone who will vote blue no matter who, even if that who is largely indistinguishable (based on policy) from most Republicans. I don’t see most people in the salary class as being genuinely progressive at all. They may engage in some progressive signalling, but it’s insincere. They want to signal how good they are but they certainly don’t -genuinely- care if blue collar jobs go overseas. I understand the way you use ‘progressivism’ but I don’t use it that way because my working class friends who support Bernie are all too keenly aware that the “arrow of history” can point any direction depending on who’s in power. As an aside, I’ve seen self identified conservatives using progressive and liberal interchangeably thereby muddying the definitions even more.

  32. @JMG

    “The exchange of personnel from private salary-class jobs to public salary-class jobs and back again is a central mechanism by which the salary class maintained its power in the age of American empire.”

    Agreed, but then my questions become: Why is Trump continuing to pack his Cabinet with the top of the salary class? Is this some sort of temporary compromise, or is he really just a salary-class lackey doing a really good psychological con job on the enraged working classes to preserve a few more years of current power structure? Is he really fundamentally different from his predecessors in regard to the American political power structure? When push comes to shove, will he listen to his base or to his Cabinet? (The rapid turnover in his administration might suggest the former, but then why doesn’t he find a really good school superintendent from flyover country to lead the Department of Education rather than out-of-touch billionaire Betsy DeVos, to give one example?) Sorry about all the questions…

  33. “Bakerpete, they aren’t above the four categories just mentioned. The old aristocracy is the upper end of the investment class; the newer and much larger sector of the US aristocracy is the upper end of the salary class. It’s been a common gimmick on the part of salary class aristocrats in recent years to insist that the elites are somebody other than them, since that way they can shout abuse at someone else for the consequences of policies they themselves have created and enforced.”

    I’m looking into moving out of Massachusetts for exactly this reason. I’m currently thinking of moving to somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Don’t get me wrong, I love Massachusetts, my entire family is here, but I’m tired of not being able to hold any view that is even slightly conservative. Reasoning with the salary class is next to impossible; it feels like Massachusetts is nothing but a salary class/socialist cluster***k. The past few weeks I’ve been doing every odd job I can find, cleaning chicken coops, doing yard work, painting etc. A good rule of thumb I’ve found is that if there is a Mercedes in the driveway of the yard you’re going to be cleaning, then you can expect to really be treated like s***.

    A minimum wage job doesn’t allow me to even begin addressing my student loans. I have a BS of environmental science and 36K in student loans, in default unable to find a job in my field. And – I don’t care at this point about that. I didn’t want to go do college the way I did – I wanted attend Jr. college then transfer to a four year school. (Don’t just go to the best school you’re accepted to; go to the school that is most economical) Idk anymore – The college loan bubble is partly being fed by parents scaring their children with what will happen to them if they enter into the wage class. It’s also being fed by parents holding their children’s hand as they sign on the dotted line for student loans; parental coercion is something not talked about in regard to the student loan bubble, although it’s perfectly all right to talk about helicopter parents hovering over their kids in college.

    Independence is something we don’t talk about anymore. This whole thing about the brain not being developed until you’re 20 is a hunk of bogus in my opinion. It reeks to me of elitism. If you have a good sense of the world, what if does it matter if you’re still growing? Isn’t growth something that should be lifelong? You’re brain reaching it’s final state is when you’re dead.

    I just know there is no future for me here in Massachusetts. If you’re in the salary class or didn’t buy into the college scam, Massachusetts is not a bad place to be for the long decline. Anyone have any advice about moving across the country?

  34. I have to ask.

    If the future is so golden for all right-thinking progressive people, and utopia will arrive for everyone because everyone is a true believer, then who will scrub the toilets?

    A wonderful essay as always.

    Teresa from Hershey

  35. Good catch. I saw this up close and personal right after the 2016 election: Almost all of the members of the UU neo-pagan group I was associated with showed stunned disbelief transitioning into anger until we declared meetings a no-politics zone. We wouldn’t have gotten anything besides venting done otherwise. It didn’t affect me because of the Michael Teaching: my spiritual cosmology is just too different. It had been obvious for a long time that the current situation was unsustainable and the level of change we were facing would require really deep adjustments in directions that most people would consider starkly unthinkable. I wasn’t expecting a Trump win originally, but it did seem like we were on a parallel where Trump won a couple of weeks before the election – so it wasn’t a surprise.

    I think things are going to move a lot faster than most people are expecting. In the last month I’ve been seeing opinion pieces in the Atlantic and the Guardian suggesting that at least a few pundits are beginning to deal with something approximating reality. The Guardian, for example, is running a series on the failure of capitalism.

    I don’t believe that traditional politics (compromise, etc.) are going to survive, although I don’t have a clear idea of what will replace it.

  36. JMG, I always wondered how the Hmong SUNDS found its way into your Monsters book. That seemed to be too much specialized, even for an occultist. So I guess you heard the stories from them in the Seattle farmer’s market. Nice.

    It’s interesting how people from all walks of life talk about those-things-that-should-not-exist when they know you will not sneer at them. From speaking about my own encounters, I heard about others from all kinds of people.

  37. Another thing that has changed the power dynamic toward the salaried class is the changing nature of the economy since about 1980. Prior to that we were more of an industrial economy and a smaller percentage of jobs were the the Salary Class. But since then we have become more an economy of credit expansion and financialization which creates a more of its jobs in the Salary Class. Compare the percentage of the Salaried class in a Steel Mill to that in an investment bank or a university. In addition to finding themselves left out in the cold politically many in the current salaried class will also find themselves downwardly mobile as the bubbles in higher education, sick care, and finance among others deflate.

  38. John—

    I’m glad you made the additional observation re Beto’s remark, about the federal government not regulating store placement, as it is something both close to my idealist’s heart and, equally, something glossed over today—namely, the notion of limited government. We have, inevitably perhaps, allowed a great centralization of power over the decades and made the federal government the default controller of most things. I suppose such things are inherent in the course of empire, but it makes it no less an overturning of the original principles on which our nation was based. I’d gladly support a candidate who sought to return to something closer to the original arrangement, or even a half-step again towards the Articles. Rather than fighting over the central levers of power, dismantle most of them and allow the various states/regions construct and manage their own solutions. Allow disagreement rather than enforcing conformity.

    I don’t see anyone on the horizon, however, with such a platform. Perhaps in time.

  39. From “Why Liberalism Failed” by Patrick Deneen:

    “Liberalism has failed—not because it fell short, but because it was true to itself. It has failed because it has succeeded. As liberalism has “become more fully itself,” as its inner logic has become more evident and its self-contradictions manifest, it has generated pathologies that are at once deformations of its claims yet realizations of liberal ideology. A political philosophy that was launched to foster greater equity, defend a pluralist tapestry of different cultures and beliefs, protect human dignity, and, of course, expand liberty, in practice generates titanic inequality, enforces uniformity and homogeneity, fosters material and spiritual degradation, and undermines freedom. Its success can be measured by its achievement of the opposite of what we have believed it would achieve. Rather than seeing the accumulating catastrophe as evidence of our failure to live up to liberalism’s ideals, we need rather to see clearly that the ruins it has produced are the signs of its very success.”

  40. I suspect a certain amount of antisemetism seen on the right (that which isn’t pure trolling, that is) is motivated entirely by the fact that the salary classes contain a higher proportion of jews than the general population. That is: it’s misplaced hate.

    I also wonder if this allience between investors and workers is not merely an American phenomenon. I think of working-class blackshirts rubbing shoulders with contesssas in Mussilini’s Italy. (To say nothing of the S in NASDAP). In other words, to those in the salary class, of a liberal bent: it could sure be worse!

    (Disclosure : they made my job salary so they could get more hours out of us for the same price. So I am technically salary-class. Insurance sure is nice.)

  41. Dear Mr. Greer,

    The marketing department came up with the slogan, I’ll let them know to tone it down!

  42. Denys, I’ve got to figure out what set of keystrokes will put that delightful little ™ at the end of various words; it would be so expressive. (I cut-and-pasted it from your comment to put it here.) For example, the “democracy” that the media is talking about is not constitutional representative democracy, the system we more or less have here in the US; what they’re talking about is Democracy™, defined as a system in which privileged progressives get whatever they want even when the great majority of people don’t want it. Unquestionably Trump is a serious threat to Democracy™, because he’s responding to the concerns of the wage class, which has been systematically shut out of the political process since the 1980s.

    LarryB, thank you. I can already feel the cool breeze of sanity beginning to waft away the clouds of clueless self-interest…

    Ruth, no, you’re taking what I’ve said a good deal further than I meant it. Of course every complex human society is riddied with injustice; human beings being the decidedly mixed bags that they are, that’s pretty much inevitable. What’s not inevitable is that an elite group should become so entranced with its own glorious self-image that it loses track of the real world. America in the 1930s, to offer a counterexample, had plenty of injustice and unnecessary misery, but there wasn’t the sort of monolithic groupthink I critiqued in this post; there were people who blindly supported what had been the status quo of the 1920s, but they faced constant challenges from New Deal Democrats, and from political radicals of a dozen different stripes, most of them forgotten today. Disadvantaged ethnic groups at that time had their own independent political organizations that were perfectly willing to say, “Yes, but what have you done for us lately?” The working classes turned to unions as a way of counterbalancing the abuses of the bosses, banks faced competition from a credit union movement that hadn’t yet been coopted and gelded by big money, and so on. You might want to read up on that era; we’ll be seeing something not too different in the decade immediately ahead.

    Christopher, first, I think a lot of what’s happening is that people are reverting to earlier stages because they can’t handle the consequences of acceptance. Some people do cycle through the stages repeatedly before reality finally gets a word in edgewise. Second, no question, words are slippery; I use the term “progressive” the way I do because it implies faith in progress, in much the same way that the word “Christian” implies faith in Christ. There’s a lot of similarity there, since believers in progress treat their abstract god as an omnipotent source of salvation who will bring a perfect world sometime very soon…

    Mark L., Trump has to work with the political establishment he’s got, and that means handing out Cabinet offices to people who will please the power groups he’s got to conciliate in order to get anywhere at all. Nor do I think that he has a fixed agenda along the lines that I’ve sketched out. As so often happens in periods of major historical change, the leaders are stumbling blindly forward in response to shifts in political power they sense but don’t fully understand; it’s only in retrospect, for example, that the fumblings and flailings of Franklin Roosevelt’s first term took on the importance as a historical turning point they later had.

    All Austin, you might consider moving a much shorter distance — south across the border into Rhode Island. Attitudes here are rather different, state taxes are vastly lower, the state government is much less intrusive, and there are a lot of working class neighborhoods where you can find an inexpensive place to live and get by much more easily than in the state to the north. It’s certainly worked well for me.

    Teresa, ssshhhh! You’ve just revealed the unmentionable secret of the privileged progressives: their utopia is always only for the few. The toilets will be scrubbed by illegal immigrants, or some other group of people that has no effective civil rights and can be abused by the privileged progressives freely, without risk of consequences.

    John, I think you’re quite right that things are going to move very fast, but I wouldn’t give up on politics as usual so quickly. That approach has the huge advantage of being workable in the real world — something most alternatives rarely manage.

    Packshaud, actually, no — I read about it first while following up leads on David Hufford’s book The Terror that Comes in the Night. The Hmong people I knew in Seattle were very quiet about SUNDS, since in their view it had to do with evil spirits — and you don’t talk about them with strangers, especially white strangers.

  43. Blessings this Beltane, JMG.

    I have repeated ten thousand times to privileged liberals, that the $7/hr I made working for Samsclub in 1993 was about 2xs what most service employees make today.


    Those same liberals support all the economic rules that have led to the ruination of the land and water and pollinators and many a small community here in Minnesota. But that is all Republicans fault, apparently.

    Russia, Russia, Russia, Trump, Trump, Trump, Putin, Putin, Putin….Dems 2020!!!

    Here is to any politician who can talk to working people, about the health of the local, of the land and the waters and the economic.


  44. I like the addition of nuance in some of the comments. Here is another: in addition to those four classes, there is also the small entrepreneur, much in evidence, say, in an urban Mexican American community of relatively recent immigrants, but there are other examples as well. Some employees of small businesses are salaried; some are wage earners. There are also the syndicalists, who are both investors and employees. They are few, but they exist. There is also some bleeding over, which has been alluded to, but here is another: some wage earners invest. These nuances are important, because they can affect the outcomes of elections, and because they are concrete, and we have said that abstraction is the enemy of truth, or reality (though not necessarily in these words), and it is abstractions that characterize both the academy in particular and Western society in general (which we have also said).

    I wonder whether some of the antipathy towards Donald Trump might not be related to the fact that he doesn’t seem to care about what some other people care about. They might interpret that as his being against those things, but I think that he just doesn’t think about them. I think he only cares about a few things, which he enunciates, and that’s it. For some people, that might be considered “outrageous.”

    To go back to an earlier posting, Trump is a change agent, a transformer. Once he’s gone from the scene, he’s gone, but “the world” will never be the same. If this is not what one had been envisioning, one might well find oneself in a state of shock.

  45. Dear Mr. Greer – A couple of observations. Things I’ve noticed that I point out to anyone who is interested. Just to set the scene (which your familiar with) I live in Lewis County, Washington. Which may be the most red county in Western Washington State. The two largest towns are Centralia and Chehalis, about 27,000 population, between them. Our State Capitol complex is Olympia, Tumwater and Lacy, 30 to 40 minutes north of us.

    Our county is mostly wage workers and rural. What I’ve noticed is that a large part of the upper salary class (can I say management?) works here, but lives around the capitol area. No matter if it’s retail, restaurants, the school system, the library system, banks and credit unions, etc.. Management, if they can swing it, don’t live here, but commute. And there’s a lot of turn over. Once they’ve got something to put in their resumes, they’re off to the bigger cities. And the salaries they make here? They don’t spend much of it here. So in a way, we’re a wealth pump.

    Another thing I’ve noticed is that layers of lesser paid salary workers are put between the higher paid salary workers and the public (the great unwashed). The less contact they have with the public, the greater their status. I especially noticed this in Library Land, where I worked for many years. Also, the less public contact, the higher the salary.

    That’s my perception. Don’t know how accurate it is. Lew

  46. I appreciate your clarity of vision more than I can probably say without getting mawkish and gushy about it. I know I’ve said this here before, but “the end” of my support for and believing the tales the privileged left tells about itself came when that utterly revolting hate-fest erupted over those Catholic-school kids from Kentucky who found themselves targeted by two opposing groups of mentally-deranged activists. The crowning irony was that this happened around Martin Luther King Day. It must have made MLK do several three-sixties in his grave that the legacy he tried to establish came to something so awful and so antithetical to what he preached!

  47. @ JMG, in reference to your response to John Roth regarding politics:

    For the past few days I’ve been attending my local town meeting. A proposal that would have bulldozed a First Nations sacred site and felled about 400 trees to build a synthetic turf field was defeated by only four votes. During the debate on this article, I had the pleasure of approaching the microphone to ask a rather pointed question on the wording of the proposal. Given the narrowness of the margins of defeat, I feel that my participation may have made a difference, and that more generally, involvement in local politics is *extremely* important and significant for contentious local issues.

    Also it bears noting that with local issues one has much greater latitude for operative occultism. What’s to stop one from carrying a carnelian stone and some five finger grass, rubbing a High John the Conqueror root, and wearing lots of Hoyt’s Cologne when going up to make a case at town meeting? Nothing! What’s to stop one from casting divinations *during* a local political event to decide upon the very best wording and intent for public speaking? Nothing! What’s to stop one from the many possibilities of prayer and offering? Nothing! For that matter, what’s to stop one from the benefits of regular banishing, meditation and the very careful consideration of wording that operative magic cultivates? Nothing!

    And so I offer to this forum the thought that local politics are something well within the ambit of meaningful individual participation. It really is possible to go to a local political event and, in certain limited circumstances, make a difference. And so I see no reason to give up on compromise and traditional politics. Indeed, rather I see many reasons to be involved at the level where personal participation has the possibility of having a meaningful impact.

    I’ll also note, briefly, that reading _The Weird of Hali_ novels, especially the third and fourth volumes, had a major impact on my decision to participate more fully in local politics, so thank you for that, JMG!

  48. JMG,

    “[M]embers of the salary class have been retiring on pensions since there has been a salary class.”

    That certainly used to be true, and still applies to government employees. However, only around 10% of private sector workers today have access to traditional pensions*, and many of those are wage-class unionized workers. The interests of salary class workers with defined contribution plans will change as they try to figure out how to manage their retirement savings and generate the investment earnings they need to cover their retirement expenses. That’s why I think private sector salary class retirees may eventually align with the investor class.

    If there is a realignment, I think it will further weaken the power of the salary class relative to the other classes. For example, as fewer private sector workers at all levels can rely on pensions, they will be less apt to support ever increasing taxes to pay the pension benefits promised to salary class government workers. In effect, the pension issue may serve to split and weaken the salary class. It’ll be interesting to watch this play out over the coming years.


  49. Hello JMG and all,

    One of the things you touch on n this week’s post is something that a friend and I recently had a short discussion about. She works for a university and we were talking abut a recent push for more diversity and inclusion, and why such things usually turn out to be pretty unsatisfying and do not achieve what they appear to want to achieve- often to the frustration of those who have been included as qualified individuals bringing “diversity” to the pool of employees.

    The invitation to the formerly underrepresented folks was -not- a call to come participate as fully who they are, bringing with them the influence of where they come from and their unique POV to contribute fresh perspectives. It was only an invitation to come participate in the system as it already is, and only if they shed anything that differs from the system as it is (besides the superficial qualifiers that got them invited in in the first place). For heaven’s sake, don’t come in talking about (actual) change. Certainly let’s not start in about economic disparities. Just be grateful you were invited in the first place was the general vibe. How predictable, how disappointing.

  50. Clay, true enough, but that happened in large part because of changes in trade policy that encouraged companies to offshore manufacturing jobs, thus driving down the price of consumer goods and increasing profits for the already rich.

    David BTL, that’s exactly why I made that comment. The notion that the federal government ought to control every aspect of our lives is perhaps the most antidemocratic of all the antidemocratic beliefs of the privileged progressives. State control, local control, and (best of all) letting people respond to things themselves — anything less subject to centralized control, it seems to me, is a step in the right direction.

    The irony, and it’s a rich one, is that I know people who were demanding “relocalization” ten years ago, but who are screaming bloody blue murder now that the current administration is pursuing relocalization…

    Archrevenant, that’s certainly one way to look at it. I’ll be presenting another two weeks from now.

    Dusk Shine, one of the complexities of politics is that political movements routinely bridge class divisions. I expect to see a lot of that over the next decade or two…

    Marcu, I’m just a little flummoxed by it, is all. This is not about me, it’s about certain ideas that I didn’t invent and am not the only one suggesting.

    William, exactly. Get past the posturing and it’s all about giving the privileged even more goodies than they already have.

    Aporia, of course — and I mentioned the existence of other, smaller classlets in my post, you know. The profit class (entrepreneurs and business owners who make their income in the form of profits from business activity) used to be huge, and may well become huge again as the salary class wanes. As for Trump as a change agent, exactly.

    Lew, that matches accounts by other people I know in similar areas. One of the distinctive features of aristocracies — and of course that’s what the upper end of the salary class amounts to — is that they like to live in enclaves of their own, where the rabble can be excluded and ignored.

    Alacrates, got it. You’re in the contest.

    Mister N, if I’d had any respect left for them at that point, that would have done it in. The good news is that the kid who was targeted most shamefully and dishonestly by the mainstream media has good lawyers, and just filed another lawsuit, this one IIRC against MSNBC. I hope he takes them to the cleaners.

    Violet, huzzah! I’m delighted to hear that that misbegotten project was voted down — and kudos to you for being one of those crucial four votes. Local politics is essential, since that’s where any real political movement has to begin.

  51. According to the snippets of MSNBC I catch, the center-left press is still going full-bore for impeachment. The initial release of the Mueller report made them stagger a little, but now they’re grasping at whatever straws they can to keep the oh-so-profitable story going.

  52. Ryan, thanks for this. I’ve noticed interest rates beginning to nose up again — I actually made a noticeable amount of money from interest last year, for the first time in well over a decade — so I think the rebalancing toward the investment class may already be under way.

    Bonnie, thanks for this also. I’d had a strong sense that that was what was going on, but since I don’t belong to the salary class and don’t have much direct contact with its culture — thank the gods — I’m going on what I’ve heard from others. Thanks for adding to the store of data points!

    Cliff, I bet. I really think some of these people need professional psychiatric help at this point.

  53. JMG you want to grab a cup of coffee or lunch sometime the next few weeks? I’ll bet you know a good joint =) Thank you. I just looked at rental rates in Rhode Island and they look much more manageable than Massachusetts. Rhode Island is close enough that I would like to scope it out; I always assumed Rhode Island to be another Nantucket Island and Maratha’s Vineyard. You’ve got my email.

  54. I think the fact that interest rates are low is not an indicator that the investment class is not doing well, as might have been the case in decades past. The investment class now relies on asset prices, which are quite high, and continually supported by the Fed to the detriment of other classes. And in California, the rentiers are devouring the salary class. The NIMBY mindset and myriad obstacles to building mean the cost of housing is very high, so the big salaries of tech workers don’t go anywhere as far as might be thought but instead are eaten up by long-time owners of housing, who have become quite wealthy for no virtue of their own and who pay little property tax, thanks to Prop 13. Of course, the wage class is completely screwed. Everyone talks about the lack of affordable housing, but it is incredibly difficult to do anything about it because the housing rentiers pull out all stops to resist any building or densification. In California, it’s the investment class (housing or tech stocks) that is doing well — the salary class is barely keeping their heads above water, and the wage class is drowning.

  55. Privileged progressives aren’t remotely ready for the ramping down of their perks, no matter how slight. Trump serves as a reminder of their fears — he is ugly and doesn’t try to appease them — which is why they hate him. They are just smart enough to sense their way of life has got to come to an end sooner or later. They hope to die before it happens and many succeed.

    Their houses are too large to maintain while they are young and energetic. Imagine what will happen when they reach Baby Boomer age, under reduced circumstances… They have a collective lack of practical skills to take care of their houses, because that is what armies of low wage brown immigrants are here for. You would be hard-pressed to find a rich suburbanite who can patch a hole in the wall, let alone build one from purchased wood and drywall it. Their kids are shuffled across town and state to various organized sports since the age of five, so any outdoor activity that does not involve astroturf is strange to them. Gardening? Very few do that, and those who do grow ornamental plants.

    The upper middle class has no idea how to be poor. None. They think they are a type of poor because they don’t have as much money as richer people in more glamorous locales. I remember my upper-middle class friend expressing her bitter jealousy of a famous director’s daughter; she honestly thought of herself as suffering a type of poverty because her bourgeois parents did not have A-list director money or influence to host her creative projects. Multiple pals from my childhood could not understand why the working poor cannot afford to go on a single international vacation in their human lifetime: according to them, EVERYONE can afford to do so as long as they find a way to save the money because travel is so “cheap”.

    Asian-Americans, including those from India, are some of the worst pie-in-the-sky-ists. They raise their children with the insistence the bubble will go on forever. Every kid is going to become a doctor or a scientist or marry one.

    Ask yourself why the upper middle class jam-packs their schedules with school, work, and frenzied “experiences”. Perhaps the idea of being alone with silence and their own thoughts is too much to bear? They’re frightened of silly things, such as bugs, dirt under the fingernails, and the notion of living in a neighborhood where poor people live right next door to you because you are one of them. They don’t see themselves as rich because they have almost no capacity for genuine self-reflection, at least not yet. They laugh at the idea of being genuinely grateful for potable water or a restaurant meal. The idea of NOT taking it all for granted is unfathomable at this point. They don’t know they are living in a bubble. It follows they don’t realize it’s actually easier to live outside it!

  56. The mention of “single vision” instantly reminded me of the Queen song “One Vision,” which now strikes me as a rather appropriate theme song for privileged progressivism:

    “There’s only one direction,
    One world and one nation,
    Yeah, one vision.”

    “One true religion,
    One voice, one hope,
    One real decision.”

    “Just gimme gimme gimme
    Fried chicken.”

    Also, I wonder if the cessation of politics as unusual will eventually lead to the death of the two-party system as well. It’s just insane how fractured the Democratic Party is right now, and the Republicans, too, are deeply split along class lines. I just don’t know how much longer they can chug along like this, unless, as you say, they learn to bargain and change their opulent lifestyles.

  57. My family are wealthy—investment class, with a few business owners or upper tier salary class who moved to the city to work while waiting for their inheritances. The wealth comes with strings, however, and quite possibly the defining aspect of my personality is that I absolutely cannot stand to have my strings pulled, so I very quickly dove off the socioeconomic cliff, turning down a few offers from the Ivies to attend a state school, and then proceeding to eke out a living doing whatever irritated me least, and have ended out living in a truck doing seasonal minimum wage work. What is interesting is the reactions from different classes. I still read as (albeit eccentric) investment class to most people in that class, and they actually don’t tend to think much of it—kids of wealthy families do plenty of odd stuff, really. Wage class persons tend to just think I’m not doing so hot, because of the truck thing, and think it’s weird that I don’t have/want steadier or better work, but are generally pretty go along-get along about everything. Welfare class get the lack of steady work, but think it’s weird I don’t get/want welfare, and are a little suspicious and kind of offended by this. But the salary class—! Their faces freeze into these rictus grins when I troll them casually with the fact that I live in my truck and make minimum wage. You can actually see them frantically reviewing everything they’ve been saying to me, because they suddenly realize that I am one of Those People, and not the Good Person they thought I was based on social clues. The nicer/more condescending ones feel awkward instead of disdainful, and embark on semi-coherent apologia on the subject of why I’m not actually like Those People at all, but am clearly just a temporarily embarrassed Good Person (which they expect me to be relieved and grateful about). It’s funny, because I was raised to look down on them, rather, and personally tend to find them entitled and spineless and vulgar most of the time, so I derive a certain amount amusement from being pitied by them. I and even most of my investment-class family members find the values and manners of the wage class more agreeable than those of the salary class—although once you drop to welfare class the disdain comes out. The family members who have gone into business or the professions are generally considered to be a bit grating and to have somewhat forgotten how to behave.

  58. “university professors, or other people in the entertainment sector”



  59. JMG,

    As you might recall, I’ve largely agreed with your philosophical approach to these things, I’ve had my own encounters with the hissy-fits you describe, and I have no loyalty to or investment in the Democratic Party or Beto O’Rourke. That said, I wonder if you’re not misinterpreting his words.

    Any establishment that takes food from a garden or farm, cooks it, and puts it on your table is arguably “farm-to-table,” whether it be a local inn, tavern, pub, coffee shop or street vendor. In wartime Britain neighbourhoods devoted a vacant lot to growing vegetables or raising pigs and chickens, and they consumed the food waste of the area, while here in Ireland schools, pubs and hospitals used to have gardens outside that provided meals for the people in them.

    I would argue this is exactly what we need more of, as it would solve many problems at once – it would eliminate food waste, give people local control of their food, offer young people employment and put unused space to good use. It’s actually a relief to hear a presidential candidate say something like this.

    Of course, this all hinges on my broader interpretation of “farm-to-table,” as I’m not assuming it refers only to chi-chi hotspots for the wealthy, as I’m just not familiar with such places. If your interpretation is correct, then I agree with you.

    I also agree that it is not the responsibility of the federal government — although in fairness Mr. O’Rourke did not say that it was, but merely that it would be a good thing.

  60. @Theresa RFLMAO I listened to a Tim Ferris podcast where he was interviewing someone who was a Silicon Valley type and as they are chatting about “morning routines” and maximizing their day like they are machines, I thought what you said – “Do they even scrub their own toilets?” And the answer to that is no, I think, as they hire out anything that doesn’t need their unique talents on it. The world is so in need of their unique thoughts and ideas, they simply can’t spend time on things like grocery shopping, cleaning or cooking. There’s a world to save with their brilliance! (Barf)

  61. It’s amazing how adding the trademark symbol to a word makes it hilarious. I laughed myself to tears just now with Democracy™. It reminded me of the joke that Congress needs to wear logos on their suits like Nascar cars do, so we can see who their biggest donors are.

    Under the Edit menu on my web browser I have “Emoji’s & Symbols” where I get the TM btw.

    Two more thoughts -the salary class controls its members by threatening to kick people out of its club for not saying the right things and holding the right beliefs (much like the cool kids at the lunch table in high school). They speak of diversity, but they don’t really want it, it’s just something you say to show you are in with the right crowd. The salary class is the first to tell you “you can’t say that”, which is what they say to everyone who doesn’t toe the line. The response to which should always be a certain appendage.

    The mental programming people have from all those years in salary jobs doesn’t fit the current world and it’s causing them to short circuit. Part of the social benefit in the salary class is you literally spend all day telling other people what to do in direct and indirect ways. You use your influence, persuasion, and manipulation skills to gain social status and get “points” to show to your superiors to work up the chain. The salary class work is done 24/7 with the constant internet connection. Notice how with the more technology we’ve added with their promise of efficiency, the more salary class jobs we created, not less? Because those at the top of the salary class need a bottom to cajole and boss around, so they hire lots of lower run salary class to meet that need. I’m thinking hospitals, dr. offices, universities (as you pointed out), as well as the usual financial institutions and tech companies.

    As an aside – have you heard of the Twitter feed @TitaniaMcGrath ? It’s been around for about 6 months and there is a book by the account now called “Woke”. I won’t give away the “how” of the account.
    Here’s a couple of gems:
    “If you are [a woman] attracted to men that means you are attracted to the patriarchy and you’re part of the problem.”
    “We will never defeat the scourge of racism until people of color have their own spaces away from whites. I suggest we start with schools, restaurants and drinking fountains.”

    The responses to the posts immediately signal what class the person is in. The replies are amazing. It’s constantly reported for harassment from both sides and it’s glorious.

  62. Here’s something fascinating to watch – this man running for one of the at large city council seats in 50 years of Democratic controlled Philly. He also runs a group called Black Guns Matter and wants black residents of Philadelphia to arm themselves against crime.
    Look at his photo – . He is making the rounds on Fox News shows which the chattering classes will tell you is not what black people watch. He has t-shirts he sells: “Make the Hood Great Again” and another “All Gun Control is Racist”.

    Woooo-eeee things about to get lit in Philly.

    “Maj Toure is a Solutionary Libertarian Candidate running for an At-Large seat in Philadelphia’s City Council.

    If you’re like Maj, you’re a REAL Philadelphian who actually wants our city to thrive. You’re tired of the promises and lies from FAKE, low vibration, “public servants” who only come around when it’s time to coax your vote. More and more, our city is run by self interested, politically corrupt posers. Their reign ends now.

    When is the last time you saw one of these posers on your block? At your child’s school? Or in your place of work? Exactly. Because they’ve lost touch. You’ll see them in ads before you see them in action.

    Maj Toure is running to address the blatant disregard for the will & ideas of REAL people. We know that innovation & fresh ideas always come from the grassroots, boots-on-the-ground voices of Solutionarys. We don’t revolve around the problem. We implement solutions.”

  63. JMG – “people need professional psychiatic help…” According to my wife, who knows a mental health provider, the business HAS been booming since Trump got elected.

    A story in the WashPost yesterday revealed that Trump’s tax changes have NOT had the disastrous effects on “blue states” that were forecast as the bill was being debated. Based on that, and just looking at the world around me, I imagine that there must be some serious bewilderment in some parts of society. “They told me She would win. She didn’t. They told me that His presidency wouldn’t last. He’s still in office, and looks stronger than ever. They told me that His presidency would bring ruin upon us. Everything looks about the same. They told me that approaching migrant caravans were just campaign alarmism. The caravans arrived, and now everyone laments the “crisis” at the border. How am I supposed to believe anything they say?”

    (I could go on… “They told me that going to college would make me prosperous and happy, so I stayed in college long enough to get a Master’s in Philosophy, and I’m still just serving coffee, and can barely pay my phone bill, even with Mom & Dad covering the rent”…)

  64. “Note that I’m not talking about athletes, musicians, university professors, or other people in the entertainment sector”

    I know of folks whose sole income traveling the world giving the same lecture repeatedly to different classes for a large cash fee each time. That too me looks fairly similar to how entertainment works.

  65. So, JMG, I have a question to ask with regards to the fall of privileged progressivism: do you think it’ll happen at roughly the same time in all the first-world countries, or will it take a bit longer in places where it has more of a foothold? The reason I’m asking is because, in the UK, a Trump-esque figure by the name of Carl Benjamin is trying to get elected, and, just like with Trump, Britain’s resident tame media is throwing everything they have at him. I haven’t noticed populist leaders in the other privileged countries besides Maxime Bernier in Canada, so I just wanted to know if it’s a fluke, or the beginning of something major.

  66. Hi John Michael,

    Not to be fatuous but I have a couple of observations about the photos that you posted in your fine essay above:

    First photo: The guy has to be careful opening his mouth so wide in a moment of disbelief because a fly or other insect might land in there. And then he’d choke and die. Although, I’d also consider that he may be trying to get a deep breath and/or he is yawning.

    Second photo: Well, she does look like a bit of a Galah. But I am genuinely concerned that her eyeballs may in fact pop out of her skull. That would be bad because she could possibly die from such an occurrence. The lady in the background to her left looks either bored or troubled, and maybe a bit of both.

    Third photo: The lady to the left hand side has excellent calligraphy skills. I’m just guessing though that by the firm set of her mouth she is not a lady to be trifled with, and such people probably make good poisoners. Yes, she is not contemplating her own demise, but death may well be in there somewhere.

    Fourth photo: Sad face. Possibly someone she knew was poisoned.

    You know as an outsider to the political goings on in your country, the whole thing just seems bizarre. Your President doesn’t seem any better or worse than plenty of the others that have been before him. What gives? Generally I don’t comment about your politics due to being an outsider and it is not my place to do so – thus my humour about the photos instead as a way to get people off their guard and into a calmer space with which to T-A-L-K instead of all the unpleasant shouting business.

    Your term privileged progressivism, is a very good descriptor. It reminds me too of discussions of electric vehicles because they’re so expensive that you have to be privileged to own one. They’re not for the masses. You mentioned a long time ago a term that I’d heard in my youth: “The Jet Set”, and your observation at the time was very astute and in accordance with this weeks blog.

    I just wanted to add that Trump haters look and sound a lot like monomaniacs to me.

    The thing that annoys me about the college situation is that we were duped into paying for our own education. Back in the day of the apprenticeship model, the cost was borne by the employer. How foolish we have become.

    I too chose to reject such rigidly dogmatic ideologies and that pushed me back a class. The ideologies make no sense to me and they fly in the face of lived reality.



  67. One more thing to add – Camila Paglia talks about how feminism sold women the idea that should drop everything about womanhood and go live and work in the men’s world. Be in all their spaces, clubs, meetings, and work, and demand to be treated as equal. Women obeyed their feminist overlords and went to work in droves leaving behind everything that made women women: children, home, meals, traditions. Paglia said women traditionally gathered together to do chores and support each other, and they had their own songs and sayings. All that is now lost, and for what?

    Women now stab each other so hard and so fast when one achieves too much or doesn’t tow the feminist line. Women like myself who dropped out of the salary class to raise children turn invisible. I lost every friend I had and was belittled for becoming a “housewife”.

    Maybe women sense what they lost or are missing, and maybe that is why they shriek and demand the loudest now? They invested more in the promises of progress than men did and didn’t get what they thought they’d get.

  68. @dashul–THANK YOU! That’s exactly what I felt at the end of Endgame. I saw that Thanos’s gambit was heavy-handed and ham-fisted, but that his premises merited further reflection. FYI, I wrote a play based on my reaction to the end of Infinity War, when I realized that the disappearance of half of humanity was in a way merciful. It was unfortunate, and sure, it went to Thanos’s ego. But in the second movie, I did find it enlightening that Thanos accepted his death at the hands of the Avengers and wasn’t sorry for his action. I found the plot around the villain to be utterly incomprehensible and convenient, with the upshot that it almost made like the first movie never happened. So, yeah, put your fingers in your ears, go “la-la-la” and whistle ourselves into self-selection. At least we get to enjoy flashing spandex along the way.

    (My play has a rather unwieldy title: “Worshipping at TEOTWAWKI’s Altar/Part I: Depaving Paradise LLC.” I don’t know what Part II will be called yet, but I have the structure in mind. Now that Endgame has come out, I will need to figure out how to build that into the story for Part II. Should be fun!)

  69. @Docshibby Have you read Kafka’s Metamorphosis? The way you describe living in NYC is similar to the way the main character describes his life.

  70. @JMG: Awen! Of course… that makes perfect sense. (Just flip the M to a W.)

    —Now on to my comment about the bougie & the progressively privileged—

    Soccer. Or Futbol. JMG has written here before about how American’s of the bougie class want to be anything but American. The current craze of Futbol fandom is a case in point. I’m not a big sports fan. I like physical culture and used to be a little punk skateboarder, so that’s where I come from in terms of sports. And the missus and I do go see the rollergirls maybe once a season -but that is still a DIY kind of thing.

    But this craze of loving soccer is really getting to me.

    It wouldn’t get to me if the city I call home didn’t want to demolish a poor, mostly black neighborhood and kick out people who’ve lived there for generations, and tear down their homes, using tax money, to build another stupid stadium so all the bougie white people who like watching soccer all of a sudden can have a place to go to watch FC Cincinnati -even though they lose all the time. Just like the Bengals and the Reds, whose games I never even go to. Not even the cheap seats at the Reds. But at least baseball and football are real American sports and the people who like them aren’t posing as some cultured Europeans.

    Yes the rest of the world does like soccer. Yes the rest of the world does use the metric system. But has that ever stopped us…?

    My late grandpa used to live in Cincinnati’s west end where they are razing homes now to build this dumb stadium. The thing is, now it is cheap to go see FC Cincinnati (if ya wanted to and I don’t know why you would) because they share a stadium with the university. Once they build the new stadium it’s going to be much more expensive to take your family there -so people will get displaced, and the city will lose money, and the FC Cincinnati team, which isn’t a proven thing, may disappear, etc.

    Liking soccer and all that is just another one of these class signifiers. If sports is a private enterprise, as I think it should be, if people want it, the companies behind the times should have to raise all the capital themselves to build stadiums and the like. They should get no help from the government. Then the sports can flourish or fail like any other business.

    Thanks, I had to get that off my chest.

  71. You mentioned solutions to problems that really just schemes to benefit the salary-class more than they are the people supposedly being helped. I think I don’t even need to say that “Obamacare” is the exemplar of such schemes. I’m pretty sure it will go down in history as the thing that killed the absolute power of privileged progressives visa-vis the Democratic Party. Of course, try to say that on, and you will be pretty much automatically downvoted into oblivion. And what is the most heavily represented demographic on Why, millennial members of the urban managerial/ professional salary (MPS) class or children of that class.

    That also brings to mind why my home state of Wisconsin would appear to be firmly in the hands of hard-right Republican ideologues: We just don’t have enough jobs here for aspiring members of the MPS, so they move to the Twin Cities, Chicago, or some urban coastal privileged-progressive enclave. The only reason Scott Walker was just barely ousted as governor last election was that Wisconsin Democratic Party’s desperation-move of coming out for marijuana-legalization was marginally successful. There were so many advisory referendums in various “bluish” counties on legalizing medical or recreational marijuana that it made the lautish party-animal types (or at least the ones more likely to vote Democratic when they bother to vote, and as a drinking state, we have more than a few of those) get up off the couch to show up at the polls. But I am very hard-pressed to imagine the lautish party-animals as any sort of force for change of the political landscape of the state, not in the least because legalizing cannabis is at best a “window-dressing” change, as much as I might personally support it.

    Those kids on probably expect me to continue voting for a vapid and clueless Democratic Party even though they moved away and left me and my immediate family to fend for ourselves against the plunder-freak Walker Republicans. They just might be disappointed in that expectation, and considering that our structure of national government puts its thumb on the scale to give more weight to lower-population, more rural areas (think the Senate, the Electoral College), that doesn’t bode well for those kids and their expectations at all, does it?

  72. @ Aporia

    Re Trump as change-agent

    He is most certainly that, even if he isn’t the change-agent I’d have selected. It is somewhat refreshing, however, to see long-stuck gears begin to creak and groan. And as haphazard and slip-shod as Trump appears to be, the very fact that he is Changing Things makes him a better choice than any status quo (ante) alternative.

    @ Lew

    Re class and demographics

    What you describe is one reason I have rather fallen in love with the small-town Midwest here. My city (technically, a fourth-class city) has a population of ~11k and is very personable. I’ve seen our library director manning the reference desk during the week, for example. And this intimacy and down-to-earthness is exactly what I don’t want to see lost in a misguided attempt to increase property values that results in us becoming a gentrified enclave for second or third vacation homes of the upper middle class folks from Chicago or Milwaukee.

    I am very much salary class, but I’m quite proud of our modest 1929-vintage house on the working-class south-side of Two Rivers. And I tell people so. I have no issue with old and unused industrial land being re-purposed as riverside condos or the covenant neighborhood expanding in and of themselves, so long as we don’t lose sight of the fact that ordinary people need a place to live as well.

    @ JMG

    Re the de-centralization of governance

    I whole-heartedly agree that any step moving away from centralization is a good step. I hope we see some strengthening of that sentiment over the country in the near future.

  73. On food deserts

    My gardener & ham friend Pete across the pond turned me on to the work of Ron Finley…the gangsta gardener.

    Here is a bit about him…
    “Having grown up in the South Central Los Angeles food prison, Ron is familiar with the area’s lack of fresh produce. He knew what it’s like to drive 45 minutes just to get a fresh tomato.

    In 2010, he set out to fix the problem. Outside his front door, that is. Ron planted vegetables in the curbside dirt strip next to his home. And quietly, carefully, tenderly started a revolution. I wanted a carrot without toxic ingredients I didn’t know how to spell, says Ron.

    His was an exceptionally creative, cost-effective and simple solution; however, it was also an act of spirited rebellion that led to a run-in with the authorities.

    The City of Los Angeles owns the “parkways” the neglected dirt areas next to roads where Ron was planting. He was cited for gardening without a permit. This slap on the wrist did little to dissuade his green thumb. So Ron fought back. Hard. He started a petition with fellow green activists, demanding the right to garden and grow food in his neighborhood and then, the city backed off.

    This caught the eyes of creative leaders and media voices that lauded his courageous act of ebullient defiance. Ron has continued to share his story and vision with the world, giving a TED talk and planning many exciting ways to continue his involvement in mitigating Los Angeles food prisons.”

    All this just goes to show that any change we want to see we have to make ourselves. It’s a DIY world and those of us who aspire as green wizards especially need to just get on with it. Ron Finley shows that we can’t wait around for politicians to decide how to fix our problems/predicaments. We need to work out those solutions ourselves.

    Not that the political process doesn’t have a place…but I ain’t gonna wait around for a policy change before taking action.

    If you see something that needs to be done, do it.

  74. Hi all,

    A sadly funny reflection of these specific caste markers was recently reflected in a blog post critiquing a movement in higher ed (particularly in the and liberal arts and humanities) called “alt-ac.” This movement recognizes, without ever stating it baldly, that the market for these degrees crashed decades ago and has never recovered, and consequently it seeks to help doctoral students see the many skills they have (hopefully) developed in the pursuit of their PhDs, with which they can seek gainful non-tenure-track or non-academic employment. Some of the critiques of this movement are quite valid, but what struck me about this clickbait-titled blog post was the explicitly classist nature of the rhetoric.

    “Transferable skills” are a lie, the piece says. It then goes on to list specific examples of the sorts of transferable skills that the alt-ac movement points out and says that, yes, these are correct, but they are not skills. They are – drum rolls please – “collections of competencies.” A linguistic sleight of hand rooted entirely in class. “Skills” is a wage-class idea, while “collections of competencies” is salary-class, specifically crafted by those who claim to speak on behalf of the oppressed. “Privileged progressives” indeed. Smash.

  75. Thanks for the rude awakening. In the 60s we protested the War and establishment. I was so focused on the priveleged conservatives, I was blind to the priveleged progressives, because I still think like that, but am working on it. I am a better Greerhead now😉 I imagine my vision will clear some when I retire in July.

    So I can see the phenomenon better, is Hillary Clinton the poster child for Privileged Progressivism or is there a more deserving candidate?

    Hope you and Sara had an enjoyable Beltane.


  76. Lew: my father had a name for people like your Washington state salary classes. “Carpetbaggers.”

  77. Very cogent political essay, JMG. I’m a member of the salary class (software engineer) from a wage class that no longer exists (union electrician dad). Needless to say, I often feel out of place at progressive dinner parties, where conversations trend towards parrot shreiks of “Mueller Report!”. I’ve made the mistake of suggesting that maybe blue collar people had rational reasons for voting Trump. Heresy. They were tricked! Hoodwinked! They didn’t know what’s best for them!

    I didn’t vote for Trump, but he did bring change and err… force a conversation, particularly on immigration and trade, two things that have devastated wage earners, but have enriched the investment class (“Record Dow”) and the salary class (“Designed in California”), including myself.

  78. JMG You write: “We can call it privileged progressivism: the belief that history always moves toward better things, and that this necessarily involves giving the already privileged more of what they want.”

    In my town there is a prominent Unitarian Church. A few years ago I attended two sermons that were *literally* about the development of branches of science! Of course, I didn’t return. Walking past the church last week I saw a sermon that was advertised with the title: “She Was Ahead of Her Time,” (!) which I was nearly tempted to attend for the purposes of taking notes.

    During the recent town meeting people invoked Progress both for and against projects. To be honest, it seemed to me though that the folks who promoted the big technocratic, earth-destroying projects were able to invoke Progress a bit more robustly then those who said “Progress means saving trees and leaving a livable planet to our grandchildren.”

    Last night at a community theatre I saw a hagiography about a female scientist. While there were a lot of jokes and fun during the first act, the second act took a swerve into the rather drab ritual theatre of She Was Ahead of Her Time. Given how important this person’s discoveries were for her branch of science she pretty much got a *literal* halo at the end!

    Point being, The UU congregation in my town at least more or less worships Progress, a local community theatre puts on ritual theatre concerning the lives of the Saints of Progress, and Progress is a massive political fact that, as mentioned in my prior comment, nearly prevailed in Progressing a First Nations sacred site, many hundreds of trees, and a beautiful lotus covered pond into a plastic encased dead zone!

    Clearly, many of the adherents of this faith are freaking out. At the town meeting, for instance, there were three motions to reconsider the turf field article, and two motions to change a subsequent article’s wording to make it as close as possible to the defeated article, and one person who approached the microphone to, from my perspective, angrily lecture the moderator! My perspective was that these people were freaking out because Progress had failed them.

    And that’s the thing; Progress failed all of the people who stand opposed to Trump. That makes Trump, at least in their eyes, a numinous figure. He has become, perhaps, the reification of People Who Stand in The Way of Progress, making him the Great Enemy of Progress. For awhile, it bears noting, that national politics did begin to take on the vestments of the Ritual Theatre of Progress: one could even say in 2016 the ritual pageantry of “She Was Ahead of Her Time,” was thwarted by the “Great Enemy of Progress.” To my mind that puts the following events, in all seriousness, on the level of _When Prophecy Fails_.

  79. Hello Mr Greer

    Great essay and analysis. Could I add a question, why now the psychological breakdown? Not when Bush the younger was elected? Or his father, or Reagan? You have given the correct answer to my question in that those below the Salary class have been getting poorer for forty years, most visibly among the white working class. They have fallen the furthest, and are now getting too poor to imitate the salary classes’ lifestyle or values. This has turned into an identity crisis for the salary class, the mimesis of progress from poor to working class to middle class to salaried professional/managerial class is breaking down. The salary classes’ identity as the ’good people’ that everybody else wants to become is failing, those below them are ceasing to see them as something they could or would want to emulate, and subconsciously at least, the salary class knows it (their claim to ‘goodness’ has mostly come from co-opting successful social movements from other parts of society; black civil rights, LBGQT rights, feminism, environment, immigration, higher education, and healthcare, and then claiming the successes as due to their own ‘Good’ leadership).

    The salary classes’ reaction has been to blame the classes below for being ‘deplorables’, for turning to ‘The Dark Side of politics’ and to double down on the ‘Good’ social movements they co-opted in the past, driving them to extremes of intolerance, or opening them up to blatant racketeering in the name of inclusion. As you say this is not going to end well. They may well settle for being the dominant minority as the attempted soft coup against Mr Trump is evidence for, though they would have to compete hard with the conservative elite for the title. Either way I think we are at the point where we will visibly see for those who will look, significant sections of the American public turn away from the meme of progress and the ‘good people’ and go do something else, though I doubt the MSM will notice.

    Much the same in the UK, though Brexit is the lightning rod rather than Mr Trump, though I reckon we are a few years yet behind the US in the level of liberal psychosis, and the progress meme is still working here largely, though there is a lot of propaganda pushing it these days (BBC especially).

    Local council elections in England today, went to vote early, wrote none of the above on the ballot, and cross out the name of each candidate. There were five, all from the neoliberal centre left to centre right. After the last few years of UK politics I will never again vote for a ‘liberal’ party (this includes the Conservative Party), they now have too long a history of bad faith for me to stomach them. The general mood in the country is that very large numbers will stay home, and of those who will vote many will go for independents or minor parties. I smell tar and feathers!

    Regards Philip Hardy

  80. ™ © ®
    In Windows 7 hold Alt while entering number.
    ™ 0153
    © 0169
    ® 0174
    If you do this a lot it is possible to remap the keyboard. Before you remap copy the eliminated characters into Notepad and save them. I wanted a return on the left to make it easier to use the mouse and keyboard at the same time so the unused ~ key became an additional Enter. When editing art and photos I needed a Tab key on the right so the \ became an additional Tab. Then I can use my left hand on the arrow, number keys and Tab while using the mouse with my right.
    I’m not happy with the remapping program I used because I have not found a way to change it back.
    Character Map is the Windows accesory to these crimes.

  81. A few thoughts this morning after catching up on the discussion:

    1. I’m not convinced we have that much control over interest rates, such that the balance of investment/salary class determines where they are set. The Fed rate is a bit of an exception perhaps, but typically interest rates track overall economic growth within a percentage point or two, and I see the recent low rates as just part of a ragged overall decline from the 10+% rates in the 80s at the peak of American empire and global population growth to a long period of near-zero rates looking forward.

    2. Here in Oregon, our largest political problem revolves around PERS, our Public Employee Retirement System. The problem can be summarized as follows: The pension agreement given to all state employees (which includes state universities and state teaching hospitals, so some rather high salaries: guaranteed a fixed monthly payment in retirement based on salary, time employed, and a few other factors. This was to be funded through a monthly state contribution to a PERS investment fund during the time of employment.

    As you might guess, the problem arose when the high interest rates of the 1980s and 90s proved to be a temporary phenomenon, and the fund failed to produce the necessary returns to pay its pensioners their guaranteed benefits. The solution – so far – has been for the state to pay the difference at the expense of rising taxes and cutting services across the board. As of now the unfunded liability is $25 billion and rising (that’s $6000 per resident of the state), and that’s with the “investment return assumption” still at a wildly unreasonable 7.2%.

    Bringing this back to classes, we now have a significant number (~130,000 people) of salary class retirees who have entered the welfare class, so to speak, in that a large fraction of their compensation comes directly from state taxpayers, no work is performed in return, and their political motivation is to convince the state that they deserve what they are getting. Given the alliance of salary and welfare classes in the Democratic party, and the fact the Democrats have uncontested control of the state legislature, there have been no solutions forthcoming except cost-cutting and taxing to pay for PERS. They have changed the formula for new state hires so that they don’t contribute to the deficit, but no one has so far been willing to tell the current retirees that a portion of the money they were promised is simply not there, and taking it from everyone else is not an acceptable option. Of course, some of what is getting cut is much beloved to progressives – including actual welfare programs – so the pushback is building.

  82. Violet: Bravo! I haven’t been to any of my towns meetings, but I have worked to support local candidates. I mostly hear people in my city talk about national politics and candidates, but almost never about local candidates that when elected will have a far greater and more immediate impact on their lives then anyone on the national level. Lets hear it for participating in local politics.

  83. All Austin,

    Since you asked for advice, here’s mine (with all the usual caveats, YMMV, etc.), as someone who is also in the process of radically changing my life circumstances:

    Above all, act from love, rather than from fear. Like you, I have circumstances that I want—and need, for the good of my soul—to get away from. But I’m truly empowered not by focusing on those, but rather, by focusing on what I’m drawn toward. It’s that “being drawn toward” that I refer to as “love” here: when I keep my mind fixed on what I’m called to achieve in this life, on the people/communities/circumstances/opportunities that fill me with joy and excitement, that at some level I feel as though I could not live without, then (and only then) do I find myself brimming over with the energy I need to actually make things happen. I say this not as a criticism, but because it’s something I need to remind myself of fairly regularly.

    On the level of concrete action, JMG makes a good point. While I too have felt the temptation to go far, far away, there’s a real value in staying close to where you already have a network of support: family, friends, people you can turn to in a pinch who will have your back, and who can be there in a hurry, if necessary. In a totally new place, it will take time to build that network, during which time you may be on your own in some challenging ways.

    Good luck on your journey!

  84. Violet,

    Congratuations on the victory at the town meeting, and kudos for taking the time to be involved in something that matters!

    You make an excellent point about the possibilities for operative occultism, re: local politics. I see this already implied by what you wrote, but I’ll state outright the general principle that seems to be at work here: If the most effective magic is self-transformation, then it follows that the closer a situation is to myself, the more power I have to affect the outcome through whatever means, magical or otherwise.

    Thank you for the inspiration, and the reminder!

  85. Another data point from the salary class: rich just ain’t what it use to be! Together, my wife and I working full time in salaried positions have apparently clawed our way up to between the 90th and 95th percentile on household income. Sounds pretty good, and certainly we are very fortunate. That said we drive used cars, built our own house, cut our own firewood, grow and preserve food, and generally live pretty simply. We’ve got some savings, but certainly not enough to live on for too long. I have no faith in any retirement program, except the obvious one to work until you die. Point is, you might think our bracket would be all jets and caviar. As far as I can tell the only way upper salary class people pull that off is through debt. I’ve been a parasite on the salary class for most of my life, by which I simply mean knowing that one cannot have their cake and eat it as well.

    JMG, I suspect many among the privileged progressives are quite aware they are seriously underwater, and that must contribute to their intense fear of a future that doesn’t favor them. Perhaps more even than their half hearted principles.

  86. I might add, to the discussion about food deserts and farm to table, is among what Beto did NOT say was allowing inner residents to grow their own vegetables and aggressively going after the property owners and commercial entities who are responsible for ground and water contamination in those areas, which going after would include forcing those entities and owners to clean up their properties.

    Dear Mark L, Mr. Trump is an American businessman. It has been axiomatic, if unstated, in American business for decades that you do not merely hire “the best person”. Employment decisions are part of deals and exchange of favors. Rumor has it the last president who tried to fill his cabinet with best of the best was called to order by a special envoy from Wall Street. I can’t say if that is true.

    Dear Lew, I suppose you have an elected county govt. and city councils? Maybe the time has come for voters to contact those elected officials and demand that govt. salaried personnel at least must live in district. Why should your property taxes pay out of area salaries?

  87. JMG: The classes you mention are nationwide if not world wide, but do regional differences still matter? I was rereading Colin Woodard’s American Nations and found it hard to fit today’s Left Coast elite into the same box as the elite of the Deep South. I’m sure those differences hold on every level.

    Then you contrasted Massachusetts with Rhode Island in an answer to a comment, and it occurred to me that New Mexico is the Rhode Island of El Norte. Or at least the Rio Grande Valley is. (The east side of the state being known as Little Texas, with some justification. )

  88. Is there any difference between Democrats who complain about populism and right-wingers who insist we are supposed to be a republic and not a democracy? Isn’t that the same sentiment?
    Doesn’t it point up to the aristocratic notions of the right being pretty much the same thing as the elitist notions of the left?

    I also wanted to say my job is salary class, but our family’s culture is very much working/wage class. My wife and I were raised in working class families, so that’s what we know. We are one income because one of my kids has special medical issues and my wife stays home. So we have the income of a wage class family – two incomes from semi-professional work would equal what I make. We are comfortable but our lifestyle is fairly spartan and we shop with price in mind. We are willing to go without extras if our budget demands.
    I suppose we could afford a meal at a “farm-to-table” restaurant occasionally but I’ve never been to one unless “Tender Greens” counts and I rarely go there because of cost although they are very good IMO.
    Why are the salary class such food snobs anyway?

    I’ll also point out that the choice of giving up membership in the salary or investment classes is a luxury mostly afforded to members of those classes. You had to do the dirty deed to come out looking clean on the other side and even then you are probably still belching more CO2 than the average human. So don’t lecture the rest of us, right? If you aspire to these classes you never had it. To each his own. “Sweet dreams are made of these…” We deal in moral absolutes way too much when it comes to the human condition.

  89. @ JMG The ™ symbol is in the Edit/Emoji&Symbols menu in the 3 browsers I have on my Mac, and also in Insert/Special Characters menu in Libre Office.
    In a Mac, Option + 2 (from the main keyboard) gives you ™.
    For more info, see Wikipedia.
    Unicode: not yet part of the Crapification of Everything™!

  90. Dear Kay,

    Thank you! Personally I have a hard time getting emotionally involved in national politics since there is pretty much no way I can have much direct influence as things are now. With local politics things are very, very different. So I second hearing it for local politics!

    Dear Barefootwisdom,

    Thank you and you’re welcome! I think you understand what I was attempting to convey precisely.

  91. @ Violet

    Re local governance

    I’d meant to respond previously and thank you for your engagement in the process. I am a firm believer that everyone should be engaged in local government so some degree, even if only knowing what topics the agendas of the meetings include and occasionally speaking out at a public hearing. I’ve been involved with my city one way or another for the past 9 years (7 years on the planning/zoning commission as a citizen member and these last two years on city council) and I encourage everyone to look into opportunities to serve in some way–there are usually boards or commissions needing public members and these often have a very modest time commitment (our planning/zoning body, for example, meets once a month).

    Of course, I’m an idealist who enjoys Thoreau, Emerson, and Whitman, so take my thoughts for what they’re worth 😉

  92. @ Dante

    Re “they don’t know what’s best for them”

    That kind of paternalism is and has generally been at the heart of the progressive mindset from the get-go. And of course, what is “best” for the underclasses conveniently happens to benefit the overclasses. Odd how that works.

    A jolt of populist independence as push-back now and then is good for the res publica.

    May it be so! 🙂

  93. [don’t know if the comment is a reject or did not get through. Logging in through Google caused problems]

    Naomi Wolf on Green New Deal

    I would prefer this in writing but is all I can find.

    From her view the GND is completely undemocratic.
    There is no draft legislation.

    Jan 9, 2019

    @3:24 not draft legislation

    @4:00 an addendum to house rules

    @4:36 a new process for house rules

    @7:30 giant gift to private sector

    @8:00 a select committee is established, they decide what happens – not the voter.

    @18:50 they don’t have to have public hearings.

    7,230 views. Why so few?

    GND text:

  94. If you go up to someone on the street and tell them you’ve been “putting in a lot of hours at work lately,” their response will immediately reveal whether they’re wage or salary class. Salary class workers view work as a malevolent tax on their time. They get paid the same regardless of how much they get done (as long as they don’t get fired), so they put their hours in and go home to their families, hobbies, and relaxation. Wage workers are perpetually underpaid and often eligible for overtime – and even if they aren’t, 45 hours at work will bring home more cash than 40 or 35. They don’t often get vacation or sick days, so if school is cancelled or the kids are sick it’s another financial hit, but if they can find a job that promises 50 or 60 hours a week of good work they’ll jump at it. This puts them in natural alignment with the investment class (which would rather pay overtime to a few workers than pay benefits and workers’ comp to a bunch of people who are 80% busy).

    I bring this up because for many people “wage class” conjures an image of a union autoworker, who has a lot more in common with today’s salary class member – not only in having a decent paycheck that can support a family, but in having a benefits package with health insurance, vacation days, and some job security, and very rarely ends up putting in much overtime. The American wage class instead includes people like Uber drivers, freelance web designers, and family farmers, along with the traditional carpenters, electricians, and plumbers – all people who have a general attitude of “get out of my way and let me work more” which aligns well (not perfectly, but well) with free-market conservatives.

  95. You’ve struck an optimistic note this week! Politics as usual, as you describe it would certainly be a relief from what’s occurring now in the US. It will be fascinating to see what progressive organizations and movements gain traction over the next few decades. I mean progressive in the New Deal sense: Labour unions etc. It’s probably not going to look much like your grandfathers labour movement but we desperately need a massive populist movement with real teeth to address the precarity of the gig economy, the obscene swindle of higher education that is hampering a huge section of younger workers and how we are to deal with steadily rising rates of automation. How to configure the economy to take into account a growing pool of surplus labor that cannot be employed on a full time basis but do not deserve to live a life of squalor and misery.

    An obvious problem is that a large portion of the working class has repeatedly voted against their self-interest for decades now. The policies of those who suckered them into voting into office have only hurt them while further enriching the investor class: wholesale offshoring of manufacturing, tax policies that allow companies like Amazon and Exxon to pay $0 in tax on annual profits of several billions. You know better than anyone that the future of large-scale coal mining is going to only decline so why is Trump’s assertion to his voters that he’s going to bring all the coal jobs back (a lie) good for the working class?

  96. @Denys:

    Maj Tour is definitely onto something important, especially on the subject of Black’s 2nd-amendent rights. That’s been a huge issue since the days when the Black Panthers were founded in the San Francisco Bay area.

    One of my students long ago told me a story: her father was a police officer in the Pacific Northwest, and he was on patrol with another officer when they happened upon an abandoned handgun. The other officer took it up with some eagerness, saying something along the lines of “Now I’ve got another [N-word] gun!” My friend’s father was like, “Huh, what?” and his fellow cop said, “You know, the gun you throw down when you’ve killed a [N-word] who wasn’t armed after all.” Well, they still had to work together, but that was the end of that friendship between the two men.

    Not too long ago I saw, somewhere on the web, an interview with a (former, IIRC) police officer, where she said something along the lines of, “When I joined the force, I thought police work was aimed at eliminating undesirable behavior. It wasn’t long until I learned that police work was aimed at eliminating undesirable people.”

    Finally, there’s this on-target piece of uncomfortable political humor (3 minutes long):

  97. Yes, that tottering and potential collapse of a system that advantages the wage class is indeed a major feature of our era. Something like this has been standard throughout human history. Some group corners access to certain resources and advances their interests, keeping as much as they can and helping others only to the degree that is necessary to optimize their own interests with a veneer of piety to manage perceptions. The last few decades has seen a specific kind moral double-speak created to allow progressives to think of themselves as working in the interests of all while pursuing mostly their own interests. But similar things were done by successful groups during colonialism, feudalism, and ancient empires. Your blog is intrinsically caught in this double-speak too. Are we advocating for public proclamation of the truth…that creatures are usually pursuing their own interests and you had better develop enough power and alliances to protect your own interests or you’ll get trampled? Or are we advocating for selfless pursuit of the common good of all the creatures on the planet? There is a deep problem with the second option: it is not clear that such a common good exists. Exponential growth delicately balanced by competition for resources seems to be built into human nature and the ecosystem. There is a clear error on the side of the utopian progressives who think their self-interested prescriptions will allow harmony without losers, and this error is particularly egregious given their penchant for proclaiming their rational good will. The error of the pseudo-conservatives is more obvious, and often explicitly embraced: they plan to defend their inherited privilege as long as they can against encroachment by the less privileged or by the laws of ecology and physics.

  98. @ Denys

    That’s one way to frame the second wave feminist movement and I’m sure there’s some truth to it but consider that a lot of women found the realities of life as a suburban housewife to be deeply unfulfilling and for good reason. I’m sure you’d agree that women have the right to pursue a galaxy of passions and professions outside the home just like the menfolk, right?

  99. JMG–re social classes. I find your breakdown of the social classes quite helpful. I have said for years that middle class America is a myth. The traditional middle class, of small to medium sized business owners, independent professionals such as physcian, lawyers, and dentists, and farmers, etc. has long been diminished. The drug store on main street is a chain, the doctors and dentists work for group practices or HMOs, the farms were sold to agribusiness. What we did have for a “one brief shining moment” was a very highly paid working class–the unionized manufacturing and building trades, truckers, miners, etc. who benefited from years of hard fought organizing followed by the post-WW II prosperity. These workers, some of whom, as in the aerospace industry, overlapped with your ‘salary class” were able to afford a nice house, car, vacations, stay at home moms, and all the other things that were identified as middle class. But, they were always, just a few paychecks away from losing that. When the aircraft plants suffered in the 70s the engineers were in the same unemployment line as the company janitor. The more ‘working class’ folks got their camper or motorboat repossessed or sold, the more ‘educated class’ ones had to give up their season tickets to the symphony or sell the vacation house. If you get laid off instead of accepting a golden parachute you are IMO, working class in some sense.

    Some may be surprised that I list stay-at-home moms as a token of prosperity. But working class women have always worked. Sometimes it is in other people’s homes as maids or nannies; sometimes in their own homes taking in laundry or ironing or piece work of some type, or taking in boarders, or watching other women’s children while they go out to work; county women worked in the fields. When my grandmother was too far pregnant to climb ladders to pick apples she picked up the windfalls and backed pies to sell. When she was a child her family lived beside the railroad track and her mother put up lunches for the rail-men each morning to sell.

    Mister Nobody–I also thought it was outrageous the way the Catholic School kids in Washington were attacked. I read Facebook comments to the effect that they were going to grow up to be the next Kavenaughs. Not blinking likely, I thought, coming from a school in a middling sized town in Kentucky. I looked up the school and only one prominent alumnus was _not_ a professional athlete. The exception, whose name I can’t recall, works in the White House. Now we know why they were there on a school field trip.


  100. All Austin, I bet I do. 😉 As soon as the current rush is past, I’ll drop you an email and we can plan something.

    Tortoise, fair enough. My take is that the various asset bubbles are the quid pro quo handed to the investment class to keep them from using their remaining influence (which is still considerable) against the salary class. As for the salary class drowning, sure, the bottom half or so is being pushed down toward wage-class status — it’s standard practice for the aristocracy in a failing empire to throw their own subordinates to the wolves to try to prop up their own lifestyle. It’s a bad idea, since it means that people with managerial, political, and information skills have good reason to make common cause with the working classes, but failing empires rarely have a shortage of bad ideas.

    Kimberly, I’ve read that prices on McMansions are sinking, because a lot of salary class Boomers are trying to sell them to extract the money for retirement, and not enough people want to buy. It’s causing blind panic in some circles, since those blemishes on any imaginable landscape were supposed to be investments… That is to say, you’re quite right that the salary class has no clue what kind of future is waiting for them.

    Sam, thanks for that! As for the two-party system, my take is that the parties will simply be taken over by various rising factions. The GOP is pretty much on track to turn into the populist party, while the Dems are in the middle of a struggle to see whether they become a European-style social democrat party or remain what they are now, the party of the status quo. (My money’s on the latter, at least for now, but we’ll see.)

    Jen, fascinating. I’m not in the least surprised; I was raised salary class, and fielded any amount of disdain and faux-pity you care to name because I dropped into the wage class for a while to support myself while beginning my career as a writer. These days I much more often field the sort of patronizing tolerance the salary class directs toward musicians, athletes, university professors, and other denizens of the entertainment sector; it’s easier to turn to my advantage, but frankly no less annoying.

  101. I think university professors occupy a grey zone. Those in the sciences function as priests, while the further you get from that the more they serve as entertainers, but if my experience with the salary class is anything to go by, there’s a certain amount of reverence for even the most obscure and (to their minds) pointless fields.

  102. JMG: “It’s standard practice for the aristocracy in a failing empire to throw their own subordinates to the wolves to try to prop up their own lifestyle. It’s a bad idea, since it means that people with managerial, political, and information skills have good reason to make common cause with the working classes, but failing empires rarely have a shortage of bad ideas.”

    Our society has adopted the contradictory view that housing should be: 1) a good investment, and 2) affordable. Both can’t be satisfied, and it is the first that wins out. And in California, the investment class is parasitizing the incoming members of the salary class — they get high salaries, but does them no good since it all goes to pay for the high cost of housing. The population of renters is growing and growing, and I expect that eventually there will be enough political power to start overturning all the laws and regulations benefiting the investment class and upper salary class.

    In the meantime, we see strange bedfellows. The state is considering some laws that would force cities to allow greater housing density to be built near transit centers — lots more housing would be built in a heartbeat if widespread single-family house zoning could be overturned. And yet you will see putative conservatives vehemently complain about the “socialism” of the state legislature in forcing cities to allow more of a free market in housing development.

  103. I really appreciate this analysis, JMG. Shaping a broader perspective on what’s happening right now is crucial.

    Quick notes: First off, the eBook discount codes just went out to Patreon patrons. If you haven’t already, please consider supporting my effort to move dedicate more time to publishing books at Founders House Publishing. (Here’s the link to the page again: Our kind host has plenty of great fiction coming your way.

    Also, at the end of the last post, I mentioned the Green Wizards magazine concept. If you’d like to discuss its viability, your desire to participate, etc. please send me an email (sckilgore AT or through the website contact form.

  104. “Among the best measures of the rise of the new reality is the recent flurry of denunciations of “populism” in the mainstream media. And what, pray tell, is populism? It’s the political stance that says that the majority has the right to have a voice in the making of collective decisions. The opposite of populism, though you won’t hear that mentioned in the denunciations I have in mind, is elitism: the viewpoint that only the self-proclaimed Good People have the right to a voice in decisions. That’s a core feature of the ideology that’s going to bits just now.”
    If this sounds a bit Ontario-centric, I apologize, but I believe the same phenomenon playing out in the U.S. is also playing out here, for much the same reasons.
    My soc-media feed has been full of fulminations both for and against populism and our current Premier Ford and his Trump-like behaviour since his election 9 months ago. It is also filled with tearful, frightened predictions of dire horrors by the Socially-Concerned about the current election to power of Conservative Parties in 7 of our 10 provinces in the past 2 years and concomitant gloating from the pseudo-conservatives, salivating like a hungry dog presented with a nice steak, about how they have been taking over province after province and how they are poised to take over the country in the fall election and how then everything’ll jump back to some wonderful golden time of prosperity and social order when people didn’t worry about grocery bills and weird people stayed comfortably out of sight. Their path into the seats of power is ‘populism’ and it’s ultimately going to fail as miserably as it always does. I don’t think that President Trump’s policies are actually achieving any significant benefits to the conditions of the working classes, but, unlike his predecessor, he is at least apparently trying something instead of just sympathetically listening and doing nothing.

    But no one, particularly of the Socially-Concerned, is asking why. Why are so many turning in this direction? The simplistic official excuse of the self-proclaimed Good People is that all those others are just idiotic, racist misogynists. That, of course, is the easiest way to let themselves off the hook for their own mistakes and abject failures of their own prescriptions to improve life for certain defined hard-done-by groups over the past 50 years.

    I’d say populism is less the political stance you describe, and more of an opportunistic exploitation of the sad fact that, for increasingly large numbers of people, despite the demurring, and the reports, and the statistics, and the proofs, &c., &c., continually trotted out by academics with lots of letters after their names and other assorted highly-paid Knowledgeable Experts with lots of titles in front of and letters after their names, that ‘everything is just fine’ and that we, the common folk, should just settle down and let them keep on running everything, that in fact everything is very much not fine at all and none of their social and economic prescriptions are working at any meaningful level.

    The reason I say this is because I have been watching populists elected to office in my city, Toronto, when Mayor Ford turned into the most embarrassing, melted-down puddle of goo that made me afraid to look at a news feed and Toronto a staple of late-night talk-show jokes around the world. (Seriously, I was in France and he appeared on the nightly news. Augh!) His older and arguably less capable brother just became Premier of Ontario last year and has begun a Trump-like populist program that is horrifying all the Good People(tm) who are out ineffectively protesting on cue. I’ve also looked at every populist across the globe and what they have in common is none of them have any coherency in their platforms (if they have platforms at all).

    What they present is a grab-bag of simplistic, wrong answers on hot-button topics that have riled people up. I believe what is underlying this is the fact that in the past 20 years, the cheap, plentiful energy that gave us the unsustainable, suburban-sprawl, two SUV, drive to the local shopping plaza to buy overseas-made cheap plastic stuff from underpaid factory workers in south-east Whocareswhereistan lifestyle (which 2 generations have been assured is the ne-plus-ultra of all human living arrangements), becomes increasingly scarce and therefore expensive, the price of everything has risen, except wages and earnings. I believe this has begun to create a low-level subconscious anxiety in the psyche of the general population, and, as any psych 101 student can explain, this tends to be ascribed to the most proximate, plausible cause. Thus any minor irritant becomes a hot-button issue of overspending. So, to cite one example, gas prices in the past two months rose almost 20c per litre, up from $1. Canadian Conservative Parties are blaming the utterly ineffective, mostly symbolic 4c per litre “carbon tax” on gasoline put into place by the Liberal Party and promising to fight or repeal it. People are angry at purportedly overpaid civil servants (who have to tolerate dealing with these same people and who are probably underpaid IMO), they are angry at purportedly overpaid unions (who collect their massive amounts of garbage), they are angry at spending on “cultural events” (that occur only in the core of the city) while their sidewalks (that they rarely use) are not plowed right after a snowstorm, &c. &c.. None of these issues has anything in common except that they cost money and people are feeling squeezed for money.
    Hence the populists sing a soothing song about returning to some barely-remembered golden age when they had lots of money and the future was going to be ever-rosier place to live and technology was going to give everyone a life of mostly pleasurable leisure.
    None of the populist “money saving” solutions to any given issue ever produces the desired result, any more than the expensive solutions advocated by the elites did. What they do is acknowledge concerns of the majority and place primacy of those concerns over the issues raised by marginalized minorities.
    So here we are, on the increasingly tilted down-slope of decline. I’m just wondering what happens when the next big bump hits and drops everyone down another notch and many wonderful things we take for granted, like super-high-tech health-care, becomes even more unaffordable, and the masses of people turn to really dangerous demagogues.

    Bruce, AKA Renaissance Man

  105. “Read novels from between the wars, and it’s taken for granted that what sets people apart as members of the privileged classes is the possession of enough investment income that they don’t have to work. […] The ascendancy of the salary class is why in 1920, the CEOs of major corporations were the obsequious lackeys of the boards of directors, while now it’s generally the other way around; it’s also why interest rates, the most basic measure of the returns that provide the investment class with their income, have spent so many years at such rock-bottom levels.”

    Seen from that perspective it almost seems as though the rise of the salaried class actually undermines the narrative of progressivism. The transition to the salaried class also means no more overtime which means extended work hours to come with the boost in income and extended benefits. The fact that people have to work long days and weekends and take constant conference calls from home to maintain the same social status and privileges that didn’t even require employment a century ago tells a story of its own. The story of the rise of the salary class can be read from another angle as the story of a downwardly mobile aristocracy who has to work harder to maintain less.

    It’s not uncommon to see a family in which an investment class millionaire grandfather has a salaried class child and a wage class grandchild who either lives with or is heavily subsidized by their parents. Meanwhile, already among the younger generations things like home ownership, having children, or marrying are laughed off as unattainable extravagances. You’ve already discussed the role of that trend in the 4chan Kek Wars and in the rise of socialist candidates in the last mid-term election. In another two or three elections the roll filled by today’s six figure salary class may be filled by married families who earn hourly wages that amount to 30,000 to 40,000 a year each, own a two bedroom house and one used sedan, eat at a restaurant once a week, take a vacation once a year and have one child and that will be what privilege looks like (since this is the face of privilege for the generations who will be running the show in 20 years).


  106. Farm to Fork
    Some relatively rich people eat Farm to Fork, as well as the poorest people. Examples of the latter are immigrants and farm workers. I worked on a farm for a number of years, and retired 5 years ago at the age of 73. I was paid in food that we grew. Most of the people I worked with were young people in their 20s, living almost literally hand-to-mouth. Some of them very well educated but unable to get better paying jobs. We all ate what we grew.

    The small farms are dependent on selling directly to the public or selling to restaurants. The restaurants pay better, and so are preferred. Selling at farmer’s markets is risky…a cold rainy Saturday and the farm ends up with unsold and unsalable products. Much of this is donated to the very poor.

    The sad fact is that most low-income people who were born in the United States have no idea what to do with farm produce. Jamie Oliver, from Britain, as astonished that the poor people in bad health that he tried to help could not identify the vegetables he showed them. This is a sign of the degradation of knowledge about plants and health among the lower income people in the US. It was not true during the Depression…people still knew about growing and cooking real food.

    There is some hope. My food co-op uses a ’round up’ system (rounding one’s bill to the next higher dollar) to raise money to feed hungry children during school holidays when they don’t get fed at school. Quite a few of the children are ecstatic at getting to eat a real blueberry.

    Don Stewart

  107. Although I doubt that Marvel will do this it would awesome if they did.

    At the end of the previous Avengers movie ½ of the world was wished out of existence, by the end of the new movie (5 years later) those people (3.8 billion) were wished back into existence.

    So suddenly after five year of adapting to the new situation there are 3.8 billion more people on the earth, they need to be fed, and housed and they probably want their stuff back. So that should be causing Famine, War, Economic and ecological disruption, in other words plenty of fodder for new stories to flow directly out of consequences of the decision to wish all those people back.

  108. @Dashui – the point you raise (that movie villains may be given the unpopular truths to express), and the link you provided, is very interesting.

    Still, I wish to enter a dissenting view, and I put it thusly:

    (From the link)
    “P3) We have now reached the point of widespread environmental destruction resulting from us trying to make finite resources support a population that is too large for those finite resources to support.”

    I have been thinking about this point because I have lately seen a rash of posts connecting overpopulation with environmental destruction and the subtext (often not even that subtle) is that if only poor people would stop breeding, it would solve “our” environmental problems, and if they won’t “we’ll” just have to make em stop – for the sake of the environment!

    (The last post on this theme that I pushed back on was illustrated with an image of an overpacked railway train in India, with people up on the roof, and hanging out of the doors. NOT, you may note, a picture of, say, the US sports field a commenter noted above, which was packed with SUV’s, for ferrying one child – or possibly two children – each between home and event.)

    So, what I did was rephrase the assumptions in P3 as follows:
    “We have now reached the point of widespread environmental destruction resulting from a subset of the human population that might be called the extractive class trying to make finite resources support their infinitely expanding fortunes”.

    Let’s imagine that the “Thanos solution” occurred tomorrow and randomly removed half of the population, what would it accomplish? If most of the population that is removed had as small a carbon footprint as the commuters hanging on to the outside of an Indian train, we’d still be no better off than we were within the last 30 years or so when our population WAS half as big as it is now.

    It is the extractive activities of a much smaller subset of people that are, in fact, unsustainable, and will therefore not be sustained.

    Meanwhile, I reckon people will continue to bear children and engender families as readily as they always have, with the overall population rising and falling in accordance with the mix of demographic and environmental circumstances people will encounter once born.

  109. @All Austin,

    I agree with everything else you said, except this:

    The frontal lobe finishes development somewhere between age 23 and 25, and ut’s related to risk-taking behavior. The frontal lobe is very important in decision-making. This is why people suddenly seem a lot more sensible after that age. That’s the last part of the brain to reach maturity.

    Whether you consider them adult or not is a matter of culture, though. Early cultures considered people adults at puberty, and brain development doesn’t give anyone a free pass to act like an idiot, either.

    Jessi Thompson

  110. [Grrr. Still getting “Error: Google failed to return an expected code.” when posting]

    Should have done this last week but couldn’t bring myself to read a little. Off topic now.

    Faux environmentalism marketing and branding.
    Long detailed and linked. Sad and ugly.

    The Manufacturing of Greta Thunberg – for Consent: The Political Economy of the Non-Profit Industrial Complex [ACT I] – Wrong Kind of Green [6 parts]

    “the financialization and privatization of all nature – on the entire Earth.”

  111. John–

    Re the death of liberalism

    You may recall a book I found on the “new” shelf at my local library a ways back:

    The Jungle Grows Back:America and Our Imperiled World

    Well, I found another one just a bit ago, right next to the first one:

    The Empire and the Five Kings: America’s Abdication and the Fate of the World

    A few points here. First, it at least acknowledges that the US was/is an empire, which is at least “progress.” Secondly, from the summary at least, it appears to acknowledge, too, that Trump is not the beginning of our “retreat from leadership” nor the end of it. But as much as I would like to examine the argument, just perusing the work makes it questionable that I could manage to get through it without losing my sanity and my lunch.

    From the jacket:

    The United States was once the hope of the world, a beacon of freedom and the defender of liberal democracy. Nations and peoples on all continents looked to America to stand up for the values that created the Western world, and to oppose autocracy and repression. Even when America did not live up to its ideals, it still recognized their importance, at home and abroad.

    But as Bernard-Henri Lévy lays bare in this powerful and disturbing analysis of the world today, America is retreating from its traditional leadership role, and in its place have come five ambitious powers, former empires eager to assert their primacy and influence. Lévy shows how these five―Russia, China, Turkey, Iran, and Sunni radical Islamism―are taking steps to undermine the liberal values that have been a hallmark of Western civilization.

    The Empire and the Five Kings is a cri de coeur that draws upon lessons from history and the eternal touchstones of human culture to reveal the stakes facing the West as America retreats from its leadership role, a process that did not begin with Donald Trump’s presidency and is not likely to end with him. The crisis is one whose roots can be found as far back as antiquity and whose resolution will require the West to find a new way forward if its principles and values are to survive.

    I thought “cri de coeur” was a particularly nice touch–and effective class maker, to boot!

    No wonder the working class populace holds intellectuals in such disdain…

  112. @Brian Kaller, it’s fair to say the situation here in Ireland differs a lot from the US. All of our beef is grass fed and growing your own food locally is much more well established (I’m in East Clare) though Dublin may be different. I am still in the salary class here but I make almost half of what I made as a aerospace engineer back in Arizona but the quality of life is a lot better. I think JMG made a good choice in RI as a place to live from my experience on the East Coast. Personally I think decentralisation is the right path and any laws or rules which prevent people from growing food etc (safety and health issues to be considered) should be removed. In Arizona, we were not allowed to dry clothes outside, grow gardens in the front or even work on our cars because only poor people do that and we should not look “poor”. Needless to say all of the above brought me back to Canada and then to Ireland.

    I am surprised no one has mentioned Cuba which dramatically increased urban food farming when the Soviet Union withdrew it’s financial support (

  113. Long time lurker, first time commenter. Thank you for another thought-provoking read; while I may not always agree with all points you make, I always find a lot to think on and consider, and I appreciate you continuing to raise subjects which are typically avoided or shouted down in our current era, as well as providing this safe space for discussion. I was late to catch the prior installment and by the time I had read through all the comments, this had been posted; before I review all the comments on this post I feel I must share two links with you, because I believe they build on and tie into some of this long-running discussion.

    First, on the return to some form of normalcy; Robert Wilkinson at Aquarius Papers believes we have been in a long-term astrology configuration between the outers from approximately the mid-90s through 2017 or so, an aspect he dubbed ‘The Grand Irrationality’. He posted on it regularly during the years it was most powerful (especially the big Cardinal squares of 2015 which I definitely felt, as my natal Sun/Pluto/Moon conjunction was squared by Pluto and opposed by Uranus almost exact to the degree). His interpretation is that the worst of the effect has passed and we are indeed on the ‘arc of return’ to normalcy, but due to the current Uranus/Pluto biseptile, we’re in a phase of increased mass irrationality that echoes the prior configuration but is much shorter. Still dealing with the outers so not a quick transit (expected to end in 2021), but that is far more tolerable than another couple of decades of craziness! Here’s a good link on The Grand Irrationality:

    Second, on the rage and conformity so prevalent in western (esp American) society: At least one commenter in the prior installment linked to The Last Psychiatrist and made the point that what you are describing sounds a lot like mass, society-wide narcissism. I’d like to echo that thought and provide another link from the same blog which touches on quite a lot of the same points you’ve made recently, but from the psychological perspective, and sadly this man is no longer blogging on this topic because I was deeply affected in the most positive way by reading the essays on this site:

    Now to read through the no-doubt excellent comments on this post!

  114. JMG, if they’re really annoying me, I just mention that I haven’t any health insurance anymore, since Obamacare drove my rates up beyond what I can pay, and that usually finishes them off.

  115. What a fascinating analysis! Tangential (and pressed for time here), but I heard from someone in Venezuela that the folks there don’t care what the American public thinks regarding their situation, which is a major topic of heated debate right now. It seems whatever the US public thinks, the elite just go ahead with whatever plans they have anyway.

  116. I don’t know, Josh; I’ve always worked pink-collar jobs and my colleagues would speak of staying home with their children the way a starving man speaks of food.

  117. Jen @5:43: If I could post a gif here in response, it would be one of a bright flash and an expanding orange mushroom cloud! 😀

  118. Sunnnv, hmm! Thanks for this. I haven’t really followed Hufford’s work since I did the revised version of my book Monsters, which quotes from him extensively.

    Scotlyn, just one of the services I offer… 😉

    Brian, here in the US the label “sustainable farm-to-table restaurant” refers to a specific phenomenon in the restaurant industry. I’ve been to little places that get their produce from farmer’s markets — or in one case, a really good chicken joint in Chicago, had a garden in the vacant lot next door! — and they don’t use that label, since that would chase off their wage and welfare class customers.

    Denys, no, I hadn’t encountered @TitaniaMcGrath — that’s absolutely priceless. One of the dangers of the current frenzy for “woke-er than thou” is precisely that it lends itself to this sort of self-parody. As for Maj Toure — oh my. Here we go. This is a sign I’ve been waiting for — the point at which energetic reformers in minority communities realize that Trumpismo can be an effective way to blow corrupt local elites out of the water. Hang on to your hat; things may get really, really, really wild over the next few years.

    Lathechuck, well, I live in a blue state, and my tax bill was dramatically lower this year. I suspect that’s true for a fair number of people in my income range — and that’s got to have an impact.

    MichaelV, yep. “That’s Entertainment!” 😉

    Ethan, it’s happening fairly broadly at this point. 23 of the 28 EU nations have a populist Euroskeptic party represented in the national legislature, for example. I hadn’t heard of Carl Benjamin — thanks for the heads up; I’ll check him out — but watching Nigel Farage’s newly founded Brexit Party take the lead in polls for the upcoming European Parliament election has got to be a wake-up call.

    Chris, I was waiting for your characterization of the fifth photo! You’re quite right that what’s going on in the US just now is on the far end of bizarre, and yes, the term “monomaniac” has occurred to me now and then as well.

    Denys, I’m old enough to remember when feminism meant something other than trying to become a surrogate male — when it involved hard questions about gender roles across the board. I personally don’t see anything wrong with women pursuing careers if they wish, just as I don’t see anything wrong with men becoming homemakers — I was quite happy as a househusband, back when my wife’s health allowed her to work full time. That said, when women are being told that they can’t become homemakers, because feminism means doing what’s ideologically correct rather than being free to make their own choices, I submit that something has gone very, very wrong.

    Justin, since colonial times it’s been standard for the privileged classes in America to pretend that they’re not really American, no, just temporarily displaced Europeans. I have no objection to soccer; granted, it bores the bejesus out of me, but then all spectator sports bore the bejesus out of me. But soccer as a way of flaunting your class status strikes me as even more boring!

    Mister N, Obamacare is the granddaddy of such schemes, in more than one way. The whole idea of having a law requiring everyone to buy health insurance came up shortly after a series of studies showing that Americans were turning away from th mainstream medical and pharmaceutical industries and seeking alternative health care, because it’s (a) orders of magnitude cheaper, (b) as effective for the minor issues that cause most health care visits, and (c) much less likely to have crippling or fatal side effects than mainstream medicine. The medical, pharmaceutical, and insurance industries are huge centers of salary class employment, and my take all along has been that Obamacare was first and foremost an attempt to force people who didn’t want mainstream medicine to pay for it anyway. As for Wisconsin — yeah, that makes sense.

    David BTL, that’s one of the reasons I’m talking about it here… 😉

    Justin, if a presidential candidate came out in favor of local gardens I’d be all for him or her.

    Monster, yep. I suspect another reason they don’t want to talk about skills is that this leads to questions about which liberal arts degrees actually teach any skills worth noting, and which do not. I was fortunate enough to get one that did, but I know other people who came out the other end of the degree mill knowing how to do precisely nothing that had any use outside the university setting.

    Mac, Hillary’s as good an example of privileged progressivism as I can think of. Most of her most vocal followers rank right up there with her.

  119. Dear David,

    for whatever it’s worth your comments concerning your ongoing involvement in local politics definitely have inspired me so please permit me to offer a hearty thanks!

  120. Just letting everybody know: Carl Benjamin is known on YouTube as Sargon of Akkad. I found him interesting for a while when I was on an anti-SJW kick back in the middle years of the decade but quickly tired of him when he started sounding more and more like just one more confirmation-bias channel on YouTube.

  121. David BTL, not at all. Notice that they’re floating the IPO in the US stock market and getting a Western bank to back it. I don’t happen to know the Chinese phrase for “soak the clueless white folks,” but I’m sure there is one — and when the IPO gives way to bankruptcy and that $206.31 million is nowhere to be seen, the merry pranksters who pulled this one off will be chugging Tsingtao beer by the pitcher and laughing until their sides ache.

    Dante, thanks for bringing up a point central to the entire rhetoric of privileged progressivism — the notion that people in the wage class can’t possibly have their own opinions about issues that matter. I run into that all the time. It doesn’t take much research to find out that it’s not true — it’s not that Trump “misled” the voters who backed him, it’s that he listened to them and did what they wanted him to do — but the fantasy that only the Good People™ can come up with reasons to do anything, and everyone else simply listens to them and does what they’re told, runs very deep.

    Violet, when I talk about belief in progress being a religion, I don’t mean that in a metaphorical sense. Many people in today’s America have exactly the same sort of faith in progress that religious people have in their gods. What’s more, many churches these days — some of them ostensibly Christian — are churches of progress; they recount the myths of progress, urge the faithful to trust in progress, preach sermons about how to bring progress into your life and heart, and so on straight down the line. I hope one of these days to see good cogent Christian and Jewish challenges to the idolatry of progress; that’s essential if either religion is going to survive the death of that particular false messiah.

    Philip H, the thing to remember about the Bushes is that they shared salary class values and pursued policies that benefited the salary class; their privileged conservatism didn’t have the ideological overlay of privileged progressivism, but it supported the same policies. What puts Trump utterly beyond the pale is that he rejects those policies — free trade, tacit encouragement of illegal immigration, metastatic government regulation, and the rest of it — that are essential to the ascendancy of the salary class. What’s more, he gives a voice to the despised wage class, the “Deplorables” that the salary class has spent forty years throwing under the bus. Thus the screeching — and yes, part of it is because they know full well that tar and feathers may indeed be in their future.

    John, thank you! The keypad number is entirely satisfactory for me, as I’m not a Tech Geek™. 😉

    Mark, quite a few states have wildly inflated pension liabilities. The backlash is on its way, though it may be a while before it gets to Oregon.

    Red Oak, that wouldn’t surprise me at all.

    Nastarana, bingo.

    Patricia M, I’m quite sure that regional differences do matter. The end of the salary class that sets the national conversation is concentrated on the coasts, for example, and the two coasts have noticeably different salary-class cultures.

    DT, as I’ve noted already, there’s a lot of common ground between the privileged progressivism of the establishment Democrats and the privileged conservatism of the pre-Trump GOP. You can find spokescritters from both sides denouncing populism, what’s more.

    Peter, good to know. I use a cheap laptop running Windows 7 these days, but I’ve had used Macs as my internet computer before and will probably have them again.

    John, it wasn’t a reject. As you see! Thanks for this.

    Dave, true enough!

  122. As for the whole toilet scrubbing thing, this is why boboism requires techno-utopíanism: all the yucky jobs like toilet scrubbing were supposed to be automated away. I, myself, writing a science fiction story, imagined a sampling toilet in a future medical facility that not only cleaned itself and the user, it also took samples so patients didn’t have to deal with the whole peeing-in-a-cup thing. And it never got the samples mixed up.

  123. Josh and Pogonip re women in the workforce. As I noted in my earlier post, working class women have always worked–either in or out of the home. Before modern appliances merely cooking, cleaning, shopping, sewing clothes by hands, etc, was a full job. Grandmothers, unmarried aunts, older daughters helped but there were also children terribly neglected. Read Engels on the condition of the working class. It was not uncommon for babies to be swaddled and left hanging on a hook while mother’s worked in factories or fields. Middle class women also worked, either directly in doing the fine sewing, delicate cookery and decorative arts but also by managing servants, doing the household accounts and teaching the same skills to their daughters. Upper class women did no more physical labor than their husbands did, but a wide reading of Victorian era novels will make it clear that a husband’s success depended very much on his wife’s personality and management skills. If she whines and pouts until he maintains a London house or a carriage that he can’t really afford, or if she can’t hire or manage good servants or organize the type of entertainment that makes all the difference for men in certain careers, a man’s life will take a very different course. Look at Jane Austen’s Mr. Bennett. He marries a pretty, but silly woman and is stuck for life with a woman who is a drag on his abilities and ambitions rather than a helpmate.

    But, as the industrial revolution removed most production from homes intelligent women naturally wanted to use their talents in something other than tatting antimacassars or organizing the altar decorations for the parish church. Not surprisingly, the desires and needs of upper class women were not identical to those of working class women. Some overlap was there–fighting male violence, neglect of female health concerns, unjust marriage laws, are among those issues. But it is true that many working class women would love to be able to afford to rear their own children–but changes in divorce laws, changes in welfare laws, and the gutting of the wages of working class men have made that difficult. It is a shameful fact that the women’s movement of the 70s turned away from working women’s issues and became more concerned with moving already salary or investment class women into the professions, executive suites and political office without stopping to think that these changes were made possible by the underpaid labor of, not just day care workers, but also women in food processing plants and every other factory or service that made housework less time consuming. Part of that process was, IMO, caused by the exaggerated fear of anything that could be labeled socialism. In addition, there was the commercialization of the movement–everything from those stupid Virginia Slims ads to the backlash against sensible shoes.

    I occasionally commit the ‘sin’ of listening to right wing talk radio. Sean Hannitty was talking today about evidence of H. Clinton’s campaign trying for dirt on Trump’s campaign from the Ukrainian government. He also mentioned a story that Biden had pressured the Ukrainian government to fire a prosecutor looking into a company that Biden’s younger son had dealings with. Yet the NY Times headline on the story made it sound like something more connected to the Trump campaign. Looks like we are in for a round of payback if Barr puts those investigations on the front burner. Sigh.


  124. I’m no expert in trademark law, but I call dibs on Orange Julius™️ and Greer’s Law™. 😉

  125. @Jessi:
    In republican and imperial Rome, male citizens were called “adolescens” until 25, and “iuvenis” (young man) until 35. After that, they were “vir”, and only much later they got to wield real political power. Which is to say, getting recognized as adult was a long-drawn out process, not one threshold at 14, or 18, or 21.

  126. I have lost track of whom I am replying to, but I would like to point out that stay-at-home moms today inevitably do something to earn income. Often direct selling, music lessons, watching a neighbor’s kids, something. Selling LuLaRoe may not look like taking in laundry, but it amounts to much the same result: the customer has more money than time to fill a need.

  127. May I suggest a book? Mind to Matter, by Dawson Church, is a WEIRDo’s tour through things like ki and New Thought and meditation and magic, showing that, even by western materialistic/scientific standards, This Stuff Works. The reason I would like to bring it up now is that, if your library can’t get it but you have a kindle, you can get a copy for $1.99 during the month of May 2019.

    WEIRD=Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, small-d democratic. The term was coined by some sociologists who belatedly realized that the standard psychology-experiment subject, a college student from what was until very recently the richest country on earth, did not necessarily produce experimental results that extrapolated to the rest of mankind.

    Hoping that our host will indulge me, and hoping even more that he adds this book to his book discussions, I now return you to the regularly scheduled topic.

  128. What’s most damaged the wage class is the various free trade agreements. Most products contain a portion of labor, and if this product is produced in another country, then you’ve effectively exported the labor to that country.

    Free trade agreement work because each partner specializes in work they do most efficiently. The wealth of all partners increase, though each country will have sectors that are less efficient and will be hard hit. Since the U.S. has high labor costs, shifting production to countries with lower labor costs reduced the cost of the product.
    Any products with U.S. labor are more expensive and are generally driven out of business, shifting labor entirely offshore.

    A rational government would have provided support for the sectors that would be hit, but that didn’t happen in the U.S. Brute capitalism left the manufacturing wage earners to sink or swim.

    The free trade agreements were jointly sponsored by the privileged conservatives and the privileged progressives. I’m sorry to say, but the agreements worked as advertised. The U.S. was flooded with lower cost goods, such as clothing and electronics, which benefited the wage class as much any other class.

    Because the agreements made everyone more wealthy, few people want to abolish them. Trump tried to renegotiate NAFTA and other trade agreements, but he was only able to make relatively small changes. The negotiation is still in process with China, but no one is expecting a large change. Trump didn’t have the support of the majority to change the agreements, because the majority benefits from them.

    What’s the wage class to do? It separated from the Democrats over the last forty years over social issues like abortion and gay rights, and foolishly allied itself with the investor class. So the Democrats came to represent the salary class.

    I think the wage class should move back to the Democrats, who want to represent them. But the investment class has succeeded in labeling the salary class as elites, and creating a hatred of the elites, though the true elites are the investment class.

    The only other option I see is some kind of socialism, where the state transfers wealth from the investment class to the wage class.

    I’m sure you’ll disagree with me, and I look forward to your response.

  129. You’d probably make more money taking in laundry than joining a pyramid scheme!

    The lack of interest so-called feminists have in everyday women can be seen in the silence of the feminist lobby about pyramid schemes. These companies prey on women who are desperate to stay home with their children. One would think that cons pulled on women would be of some interest to genuine feminists?

  130. Josh, I tend to be very suspicious when people insist that the wage class votes “against its own self-interest.” Nearly always what that means is that they vote against what some sector of the salary class thinks the self-interest of the wage class ought to be — which amounts in practice to something that benefits that sector of the salary class. Au contraire, the wage class chooses whichever of the very limited selection of options available to it will advance its interests a little; in recent years, that’s often meant the GOP, because the mestasasis of government regulation under the Democrats has been a far more serious economic burden than most Democrats are willing to admit. (Talk to a small business owner sometime about how the regulatory environment is biased in favor of huge corporations, and you’ll get an earful.)

    Ganv, au contraire — did you think that I was advocating some kind of altruistic program for the good of all? No, I’m talking about (a) what I see coming down the road, and (b) what my readers might want to do for their own benefit and that of their families and communities. My take is that some of the things I recommend for (b) will benefit other people further down the road, or at least leave room for benefits to be passed on to them, but if you collapse now to avoid the rush, you know, you’re going to have certain advantages that other people will not have, and that may amount to you surviving while they do not. In a time of decline, such things happen.

    Rita, that’s a good point. The history of social class in the US has not been well chronicled yet, as far as I know.

    Will J, depends on the science in question. Carl Sagan was pure entertainment, for example.

    Tortoise, that seems like a fair analysis to me.

    David BTL, that sounds like Trump! Also like Jackson — another pivotal figure, of course, just as controversial in his day, just as epochal in terms of the nation’s history.

    Shaun, thank you! For those of my readers who are still of two minds about the Patreon, I should mention that Shaun and I have discussed another fantasy series, which I plan on starting as soon as The Weird of Hali and its shoggoth-related spinoffs are out of th way — and it’s going to be a lot of fun.

    Joan, interesting. Thanks for this.

    BGHearns, of course populism isn’t coherent — yet. No political movement is coherent in its early phases, because a galaxy of competing interests and ideas still have to be brought together into some kind of structured program, and that’s not something Trump and his equivalents are concerned with — they’re the business ends of the battering rams that are punching through the obsolete consensus politics of a failed elite. I think you’re quite mistaken, though, when you say that Trump’s policies aren’t benefiting the wage class here in the US. Au contraire, hiring is up, unemployment is down, and the rate of small business creation — always one of the primary engines of prosperity in the US — has soared, particularly in minority communities. Tariffs, enforcement of immigration laws, and cutting back the metastatic growth of government regulation (which imposes a disproportionate economic burden on small business) have all helped bring that about.

    Eric, ding! We have a winner. Yes, exactly — the rise of the salary class is among other things an indication of just how much frantic scrambling it takes today to hold together a society that used to be much less brittle. Partly that’s a function of excess complexity, but of course there are other factors, and the twilight of our civilization is heavily involved in many of them.

    Don, understood, and as I said above, I don’t fault the farmers for selling to expensive restaurants; anything that extracts money from the clueless rich and puts it into the hands of working farmers is a good thing in my book. No, the fault lies entirely with “Beto” O’Rourke, who seems to think that providing the rich with fine dining is a response to the hunger of the poor.

    Jim, no doubt!

    John, thanks for this.

    David BTL, those would be funny if they weren’t so sad. Sigh…

    V.V., thank you for both of these. By all means disagree with me, by the way — I don’t expect anybody to agree with everything, or anything, that I say; I’d encourage people to think about what I’m saying, but if that leads you somewhere different, by all means.

    Jen, I’ve used the same gambit, and cited the amount of money it would cost my wife and me to get really lousy coverage (as in $6k deductible and 40% co-pays). Hint: it was more than our mortgage, back when we owned a house. That usually shuts them up very quickly.

    Patricia, well, of course. After all, we’ve got Democracy™, which means whatever CNN says it means this week.

    Joan, point taken.

    Ryan, as I recall, “Orange Julius” was yours originally, but I’ve been using “Greer’s Law” since before I started blogging, so I think I’ve got prior use!

    Pogonip, thanks for this. I don’t do e-books — mumble mumble glass screens mumble mumble — but the libraries here in Rhode Island are pretty good about getting interesting new books.

    Tomriverwriter, to my mind you’ve only gotten a third of the issues that matter, and you’re still approaching them from within a free trade orthodoxy that works only on paper. You’re right that free trade has been a huge burden on the wage class — what happens under free ttrade is not that “everyone does what they’re best at,” but rather that every job that can be moved goes to wherever wages are lowest, driving down wages to bare subsistence levels — but it’s also the case that tacitly encouraging unchecked illegal immigration does the same thing, by establishing a huge labor pool that has no rights and has no choice but to accept substandard wages and working conditions — if they complain, a phone call to ICE takes care of the matter. That also forces down wages and benefits, and drives the wage class into poverty and misery. Finally, government overregulation benefits big corporations at the expense of small businesses, and the latter are much more efficient producers of jobs, especially entry level jobs in rural and small town settings. All three of these factors have had a tremendous negative impact on the wage class for the last forty years, and the current administration’s efforts to reverse all three are having very positive results out there in flyover country.

  131. @Violet: I was a member of a UU congregation in Phoenix for seven years. Towards the end, I was on the board of directors, so I was fairly deep into the culture.

    And yes, you nailed it. JMG’s essay and most of the comments here describe them as well: A privileged class that’s desperate to maintain its faith in Progress, because without it, they’re hollow. They think they’re the world religion of the future (one of my more devout acquaintances called it “the last best hope of religion in the 21st Century”), but they’re an artifact of 20th Century Imperial America.

    I could go on at length, but complaining about them has become a vice for me, and I try not to indulge very often.

  132. Actually I think I might have the jump on introducing ‘Orange Julius’ to our discourse . So I will dibs the trademark and the blame for that groaner, unless a prior example in the Archdruid archives can be found.

    One of my talents in life is the abulity to code switch between the social cues of the various classes, though more and more I am hamming up the working class affect, because I find that the most profitable way to interact with the Sals is to be very underestimated until I can lash out with a zinger. Most my community knows me to be such a shape shifter at this point which give me a pass as a jester, or as it was put abovethread, a member of the entertainer exemption.

    Interestingly when I press sals about the impact of their lifestyle on all the victims they make airs of caring about their generally defensive gambit tends to be faux agnostism. The last conversation I had on the matter was broken off with the following move “The future is unwritten Ray. Let us hope and try for a good one tho’ eh? Anythings possible” Which I noticed is as useful to defend a habit of drunk driving as it is useful to defend a habit of rabid consumption.

  133. Great, thank you very much.
    What came to my mind while reading this great article, was Joseph Tainter’s tale of how, in the 7th century, the Byzantine Empire saved itself from collapse by reducing its complexity: The essence of their remedy was that they reduced their the salary class.
    In James Howard Kunstler’s “World made by Hand” novels the salary class is almost none existent any more. Most former members of the salary class have become farmworkers and some are entrepreneurs or self employed craftsmen.

    The salary class is the class with the highest dependency on fossil fuels and complexity. In fact they make their living with increasing the complexity which needs ever more energy. They may feel and fear, rather than understand, that the prerequisite of their existence has already started to wane. Gail Tverbergs article , which shows the need of ever decreasing interest rates to compensate for the rising costs of energy production extends this picture. In Europa the interest rates are already blow zero. What defines the interest rates in Europe today are not longer the usual requirements, but it is how much it costs to store huge amounts of cash. Thus now, in 2019, they prepare to lower the interest rate by banishing the 500 Euro bills. Now there seem to be Banks in Germany which are stockpiling up to 10 Billion Euro in cash to avert paying negative interest rates to the European central bank. Stockpiling gold is on the rise too.

  134. I would have thought populism meant what the people want. Isn’t that democracy? I don’t believe that progress actually exists. People simply do things in different ways according to their life circumstances. My progress might well be your “What?”

  135. @JMG
    Virtue signaling will always be with us, from the top of the heap to the bottom of the barrel. The attempts of males and females to forge partnerships involves a boat-load of virtue signaling.

    The actual crisis comes when children can identify french fries immediately but cannot identify a potato…which is the current situation for a very large section of American society. And the larger society suffers from epidemic chronic disease and resists identifying the underlying causes.

    I don’t know if Beto can correctly describe what is wrong or if he is a shallow man doing his best to virtue signal. What I disagree with is tarring everyone who has worked (such as Alice Waters) to re-establish the connection between small farmers (and gardeners) and real food with the brush of ‘virtue signalers’. The vehicle of farm to fork dinners is used for all sorts of worthy goals. For example, a local church has been using farm to fork dinners to re-establih connections over the dinner table between people in our community who seldom talk to each other. Several communities have used communal dinners since the days of the conflicts over Civil right in the 1960s.

    With all due respect, you have the hammer of ‘virtue signaling’ and seem determined to see everything as a nail to drive into the ground.

    Don Stewart

  136. Hi JMG, I think you have to consider that the Investment Class, especially the 0.01%, has been making away as Bandits since The Great Recession. Witness now that Dimon and Blankfein are Billionaires and they are so because they made their masters earn 10% a year, with share buybacks…and tagged along too, of course, with the help of their crony boards.

  137. I really don’t understand that the same screeching is going on in Europe, with the mainstream media pushing out several anti Trump narratives a week. Trump is a continent away and at any rate seems less likely to get involved in yet another disastrous foreign adventure than Hillary would have been and yet the media don’t let up. Then again, the worship of Obama in Europe was also a strange phenomenon. Giving him a Nobel peace price for getting elected was a tad over the top, certainly in light of his later actions.

  138. @JMG
    My experience watching the birth, maturity, and death of a farm to fork restaurant. I go to an inexpensive country inn once a year for many reasons. In the town, a very blue collar place, a young couple opened a farm to fork restaurant about 10 years ago. I was one of their first customers. And also one of the last.

    The chef stopped at farms as he drove into town in the morning and bought the food that was available and that he thought he could use. When he got to the restaurant, he laid it all out on the table and made up his menu for the day, and wrote it on a blackboard.

    When you got to the restaurant, you looked at the blackboard and decided what you wanted to eat from what was available.

    The advantages are obvious: clean, fresh food from hard-working farmers and from a hard-working chef who happened to have a whole lot of talent. Was it the cheapest place in town to eat? Of course not. The chain restaurants peddling junk food sourced from anonymous factory farms all over the globe and using enormous fossil-fueled supply chains are the cheapest. They are also heavily implicated in the process which is producing the current crisis in medicine and chronic disease and government deficits and insurance debacles.

    The disadvantages are that it is very hard to make money in a blue collar town with hand-crafted food when one can buy multiples of the calories of junk food for the same amount of money.

    And so, eventually, the young couple moved to Florida where their talents will yield them a lot more money.

    Don Stewart

  139. JMG reply to David BTL: The irony, and it’s a rich one, is that I know people who were demanding “relocalization” ten years ago, but who are screaming bloody blue murder now that the current administration is pursuing relocalization…

    Exactly! John Michael, it is strange how you can read my mind! I think what is going on is, if progressives are the ones floating the plans/actions which line up with what they believe is right and true, it’s GOOD, but if it’s the other side promoting similar plans/actions for what progressives believe is wrong and hateful, it’s BAD. Localization of organic, sustainable food marts for working class food deserts, GOOD; localization of industry to support working class jobs, BAD. 1999 Seattle WTO protest against globalization, GOOD; present day actions by Trump against globalization, BAD. Obama’s military actions in Syria and Libya, GOOD; Bush’s military actions in Iraq, BAD. Damaging info on Guantanamo Bay, the Afghanistan War, and the Iraq War revealed by hackers, GOOD; Clinton campaign missteps, dirty deeds and other info damaging to the Democratic Party revealed by hackers, BAD. Freedom of speech and fighting censorship in the 1960’s (when it was aimed against the Left), GOOD; Freedom of speech and fighting censorship in the 2010’S (when it was aimed against the Right), BAD. I’m sure you can think of many other examples. Progressives flip-flop more than a fish out of water. I’ve had my head spinning the past several years over how things have shifted, and while I never called myself a progressive, I did think of myself as liberal. I don’t think I want a label anymore.

    Joy Marie

  140. I found an interesting article from The Atlantic on why accidents happen, and while the article is referring to technological issues, I think has some application to our topic. Progressives think making things bigger and better, as in centralizing, nationalizing, and universalizing, will improve people’s lives (more justice, equality, safety, etc.) and put us on the trajectory towards that shiny, happy future world they seem so sure is going to appear. However, the bigger the system, the more complex it becomes, and that comes with its own negative possibilities.

    “Take Charles Perrow, a sociologist who published an account of accidents occurring in human-machine systems in 1984. Now something of a cult classic, Normal Accidents made a case for the obvious: Accidents happen. What he meant is that they must happen. Worse, according to Perrow, a humbling cautionary tale lurks in complicated systems: Our very attempts to stave off disaster by introducing safety systems ultimately increase the overall complexity of the systems, ensuring that some unpredictable outcome will rear its ugly head no matter what.”

    When Making Things Better Only Makes Them Worse:

    “…some unpredictable outcome…” Hmm, Taleb’s Black Swan Theory at work?

    It’s kind of scary comparing one’s country to the Boeing 737 Max crashes.

    Another problem with globalism: “Perrow argued in Normal Accidents that two conditions must hold for there to be significant threats in technology designs that turn safety systems against themselves: One, the systems must be complex. Two, the parts or subsystems in the design must be “tightly coupled”—that is, interdependent in such a way that a failure in one can cascade through the others to a global failure.”

    Of course, capitalist systems are also very interconnected, and can domino into catastrophe when one business or bank tumbles–and the article does briefly mention the 2008 real-estate collapse as an example.

    Joy Marie

  141. @Josh That question invalidates my experience as a woman. Where did I say in what I wrote that all women need to not pursue what they want? I talked from my experience as a women who worked in a corporate environment wearing suite for a decade then quickly shifting to motherhood. Does you question come from the same experience?

    I asked tif they feel they lost something they once had. If you are a long time reader of JMG you might know that we talk about past lives here occasionally. I believe there is something we as women are missing in the modern structure into which we force ourselves. The use of the verb force is intentional. I breastfed two children for a year each. If I had to use a machine at my place of work every couple hours to collect breast milk so I could hand it off to someone else to feed my child – well I would need to be forced to do that. Quite frankly it feels like something we would make prisoners do for punishment.

    We restructured the laws so women can do whatever they want for employment. I think that’s great and took too long to do.

    But to say that all women should do one kind of thing with their life and especially other women telling women their life is empty and meaningless because they didn’t choose their choice (women do this to each other on both sides of this debate) – that is completely different.

    This comment section doesn’t fit into two opposing views on every issue. And not everything is a matter of “right” and “wrong”.

  142. @Mark L re: PERS Go pull up the financial statements on PERS on your state website. It’s somewhere because they have to disclose it. Look for the fees paid to the financial advisors/investment company that runs PERS.

    I probably should warn you first to have a stiff drink before you look.

    It’s usually outsourced and not run by state employees. In PA a small investment firm of a couple of men were paid $660 million per year to run our state employee investment into the ground in similar fashion to yours. PA taxpayers have also been making up the difference in the pension funds needed with tax increases.

    I’m sure if I traced who the people in the small investment firm are and their relationship to state leadership, it would be insightful.

  143. @JMG…If you really want to move the needle

    Taking pot shots at Beto may give you a momentary jolt of happy chemicals, but it does nothing to solve our existential dilemmas. Those are, first, the effects of the junk food which are destroying our society. Second, the fact that if fossil fuels go away, we are likely to have to reduce our use of exosomatic energy in the food system by 96 percent. To illustrate the calculation, today, in order to consume 10 calories of food, we expend 100 calories in the US. But historical agricultural societies consumed only 4 calories to produce the 10 calories. 4 is 96 percent less than 100.

    Many of those calories are consumed in our homes, rather than on the farm…refrigeration, cooking, prep utensils such as food processors, etc. We know that in Edo Japan, a high percentage of meals of urban people were prepared by professionals who operated very small restaurants or take out places. A fancy ‘seasonal farm to fork’ example is the famous Priscilla Timberlake and Lewis Freedman Friday night dinners in Ithaka, New York. You can read The Great Life Cookbook for their story and recipes. Those dinners pulled people together in a joyous celebration. Between the simple meals served in Edo and the simple but nutritionally sophisticated and life-affirming meals in Ithaka we can see a common denominator: together is better and more energy efficient.

    A problem is governments. I don’t know if Timberlake and Freedman had trouble with the local government, but the typical couple who tried to set up such a business in most places in the US would face a daunting task of overcoming the barriers erected by governments.

    So if you really want to make a difference, insist that Beto and other politicians make it a policy to get the government out of policies and practices which will make it more difficult for ordinary people to adjust to the reality of a 96 percent decline in exosomatic energy usage.

    Don Stewart

  144. Re: working mothers.
    There’s a fine book I read last year, “More Work for Mother” by Ruth Schwartz Cowan (available used from Amazon, I think it’s out of print) which chronicles changes in women’s work in the US from the pre- industrial revolution era to the present. The author also addresses time- and labor-saving inventions which, while making some jobs easier, have in a lot of cases increased the amount of work individual women need to do to support a household.

    Re: impact of illegal immigration on blue-collar jobs
    The idea that migrants ‘take jobs Americans won’t do’ has been repeated until it seems to be gospel, but it’s not entirely true. A relatively small percentage work the grimiest of jobs (farm labor, slaughterhouses), but a much more significant number work in landscaping, construction, and related fields, jobs which Americans most certainly will do. My husband is a union electrician (commercial/industrial construction) and he has seen with his own eyes a garbage truck drive onto one or other union jobsite and disgorge a dozen or so workers from the hopper – after hours, of course. These workers are not only taking – stealing, actually – income directly from the union workers, they’re also impacting the unions’ long term pension funds; not only are they not paying into the funds, they’re displacing workers that would be. David Frum recently wrote a very good article outlining the price countries pay for increased immigration as well as the benefits, and despite what you may hear from left-of-center sources, poor immigrants cost us much more than they contribute financially.

    Re: extracting money from the clueless
    Chef Tunde Wey, originally an illegal immigrant from Nigeria (“He grew up in a comfortably middle-class Yoruba family; his grandfather had been second-in-command during the military junta that ruled the country from 1966 to 1979”), charges for his food based on race. “In New Orleans, where he now lives, he opened a lunch stall at which white people were asked to pay two and a half times more for a plate of food than people of color, the rough equivalent of the income disparity between the two groups. In Ann Arbor, white customers lined up to experience the highs and lows of random wealth distribution at Wey’s food truck, which utilized an elaborate algorithm to choose which diners would receive lunch for their money and which would get stuck with empty boxes.” He’s got quite the scam going, picking the pockets of ‘woke’ whites whose willingness to pay several times more for the same food screams virtue signalling.
    The glowing-with-wokeness GQ article about Wey:
    A more critical take on the Wey phenomenon:

  145. Hello, I am no fan of privileged classes – progressive or conservative. That said, I do not see any rationale that proves Trump’s trustworthiness. He was born privileged and continues to live privileged, albeit now, with taxpayer help. You say that he has implemented policies that help the wage class and that we live in a time of economic boom. Where is the evidence of the economic boom? It’s like modern medicine – every day I read an article that contradicts the article I read the day before. So, I’m wondering what you are relying upon to support that statement? And I don’t understand why privileged people are not to be trusted but Trump, who is also privileged, should be. Setting aside any position on the state of the American economy, from watching him, it’s pretty clear to me that everything he does is about him. He doesn’t care about people, unless they love him. If the privileged progressives are wolves in sheep’s clothing, Trump is just a wolf in frog’s clothing. I don’t disagree with much of your analysis – your glee at the current state of discomfort waving through the privileged progressives’ class is warranted – but I do not understand why you consider Trump to be trustworthy. Please explain so that I may understand better. Thank you.

  146. @Docshibby, I see others have beaten my to responding to you with, “That’s just what social primates do”, but I’d like to add that when I become flummoxed about “Why the %@#$ are those people acting like that?” that all of life can be explained by studying troops of baboons or cliques of middle schoolers… 🙂

  147. Dear All Austin,

    Our situations regarding housing seem to be roughly parallel; I too am currently living in Massachusetts and seeking to move. If I may be so bold, I think it may be in our interests to consider the possibility of combining resources as splitting the rent for a two bedroom house tends to be cheaper than renting a one bedroom apartment. If this idea is something that might appeal to you, I’d be delighted to discuss meeting up and discussing further possibilities. I can be reached at violetcabra[at]gmail[dot]com. If this idea does not appeal to for any reason, no worries and, regardless, I wish you the best in your housing search.

  148. I hate to change the subject from Trump, but is it too late for another term of opprobrium? One such that I remember hearing frequently when I was in the Air Force, 50 odd years ago, was “knuckle dragger.” It generally referred to an airman in some less intellectually demanding area of specialization than one’s own.

  149. @ Lew

    As a salaried class commuter I can tell you that there is one and only one reason why I don’t live in the community I work for: my children. It would be rather heroic to live in the warzone of the city near me, but I cannot in good conscience subject my kids to what I endured growing up there – right or wrong. Big picture, people like me may appear to lack integrity, but if that is the price of keeping my kids out of prison and/or the morgue I am fine with that.

    For the community administration’s part, they turn a blind eye to where employees live, because it is the only way to obtain and, more importantly, retain qualified staff.

  150. Pogonip-direct selling isn’t pyramid. It’s more like a single person franchise. In direct selling, you buy at price X from the company and sell at price X+Y to the consumer. Unlike a franchise, you don’t hire five teenagers at minimum wage to sell for you, nor are you allowed to operate a storefront. They’re deliberately set up to cap the amount of market one person can serve, so more people total can earn some money.

    In a pyramid you buy from the person who recruited you at a markup and they buy from the person who recruited them at a markup and so on.

    Figuring out the difference between the two? Well, that’s for law enforcement and the savvy would-be entrepreneur.

    However, if I tell salary folks I’m a stay at home mom I get pity for being oppressed. If I tell them I’m a musician, I get respect. If I tell them I sell Mary Kay I get less pity than Stay at Home Mom gets and much less respect than musician gets. Guess which one is the most profitable per hour worked? Guess which is most profitable per year?

    If your whole purpose is to bring in an extra $500 a month without having to put your kids in daycare and public school, it’s definitely a route to that.

  151. On a second point, I love your definition and explanation of the real class system in our so-called ‘classless’ societies. The mythology that, because we got rid of formal aristocratic titles and because we get to vote, that we therefore also got rid of fixed classes is powerful, but, as you pointed out, quite untrue. For one thing, property is still the defining factor, but whereas property was understood in the agrarian society of medieval times was farmland, we live an industrial one in which the ability to produce, or more particularly, to direct production, is the primary value, but the equipment on a factory floor (even if the factory is on the other side of the world) is still property. I have no idea if Mathew Stewart’s piece in the June 2018 issue of The Atlantic “The Birth of the New American Aristocracy” ever read your work, but his piece on the upper 9.9% functioning as a new aristocracy reads like he is using exactly your perspective. The New Aristocracy is exactly what you call the Salaried Class and Investment Class.
    Regarding the said class system, it occurs to me that, as a general observation and way of summing up, many, if not all, of the fashionable policies and attitudes favoured by the righteous champions of social justice are ones that only wealthy people can afford. Moreover their official prescriptions seem carefully crafted to have no effect whatsoever on the economic well-being or social status of those people who make up this aristocracy, and precious little effect on the people they are purportedly helping. There is no cost at all for them to laud entertainers who have sex-changes, or, as you point out, athletes who are expected to flaunt their not-mainstream-whiteness. It costs nothing to cheer for Colin Kapernick’s “Bold Stand” (or kneel, to be more accurate) but people who merely look different, never mind hold different values, attitudes, &c., are definitely NOT welcome in their neighbourhoods. I can recall that this liberal hypocrisy was being looked at with disdain over 40 years ago. I wonder the degree to which the abject failure of prescriptions to alleviate poverty and rectify injustice for particular identified marginalized groups currently officially favoured by the Good People stems from this fundamental hypocrisy.

  152. Thanks for the post John

    The salary class has many layers, from the low end of engineers, technicians, heath care professionals, etc… to the “managerial class”, that I think you mainly are talking about; because in fact most of the “salary class”, at least in other developed countries have also suffer from the concentration of wealth, the over-regulation, the destruction of business opportunities, the masification of the college education, the dismantling of the industrial base, etc…

    I think this dynamic was quite well described by David Ricardo exactly two centuries ago (1817) when he explain two economics “laws”, one of then is the “competitive advantage law” of the international trade (that the comenter Tomriverwritter has used as argument in defense of “free trade”), but also Ricardo defined “The Iron Law os Salaries” that says: “in an open economy the salaries trend to the strict subsistence level”, this last law was used by Marx to formulate the notion of the “the reserve army of labor”, combined with the “enclosures acts” that moves the peasants from the fields to the cities, through the disposession of the commons or of the subsistence farming, to increase the amount of cheap labor.
    This was the case of NAFTA, when the very subsidized cheap corn exports from US detroyed the livelihoods of the small mexican corn farmers (around 3 millions people) and drive those people to the Maquilas factories, with very low salaries and working conditions; factories installed by US corporation to extract huge profits, desgtroying, at the same time, the livelihoods in the rustbelt people
    The same process happens even at much bigger scale with China and the OMC, and that is the main reason fo the “populist” blowback in all the developed countries.

    The most benefited are the corporation’s managerial class and the investment class with their financial minions. They are the solvent lenders for the general population, because the new social control tool is debt. Indebted people are very compliant and docile, and debt is the virtual reality that maintains the fiction of a “middle class” standard of living in developed countries at a huge price of anxiety and dependence. They manage the society through debt; and I thinkt the “veil of Maya” is close to be lifted with a huge financial crash


  153. I’ll grant you reparations is divisive and doesn’t poll well, IIRC not even a majority of African Americans, but: “Poll: Majorities of both parties support Green New Deal”

    Admittedly they avoid partisan framing of the question, But even with explicit framing “dems want to repubs oppose” It still gets majority support in all but 6 states.

    People hate the insecurity with the status quo that defines full employment as 4% of the people who want to work being told they are not good enough. They also don’t want to be seen as moochers either.

    Of course since this is by far the worst country that has ever existed, and people only have the illusion of having a say in governance so it will never happen.

  154. @ Beau

    Re Trump and trustworthiness

    If I may, I’d like to offer a partial answer to that form my own perspective. I did not vote for Trump in 2016, although I will admit that I stared at his name on the ballot for a long time before finally filling in the oval next to Stein. I’d listened to the man over the course of the primary and general campaigns, finding myself shocked to realized that there were things he was saying with which I did not disagree–economic nationalism, for example, and tariffs–but he was such an unknown and I could not tell if he would actually follow through with any of his statements, which is why I ultimately cast the ballot I did.

    After these past two years, however, I have some data in hand. He did, as promised, deep-six the TPP. He has, in fact, utilized tariffs. He did, as he said he would, renegotiate aspects of NAFTA (most importantly in my view, reducing or eliminating the ISDS provisions)–the Senate has to ratify the treaties, but he did his part. He has sought to pull our forces out of some of our frankly stupid never-ending wars–unsuccessfully, given the immediate push-back from establishments of both parties–but an indication that given his ‘druthers (as one would say down South), he’d have done so.

    If I had known that his actions would have been of this nature back in 2016, I’d have voted for him then. As it stands, given the likely candidates from whom the Democrats will be nominating for 2020, I fully expect that I will be voting for Trump next November, because he will be the candidate who actually seeks to move (generally) in the direction I believe we need to go. Economic nationalism. Fewer foreign interventions. Less centralization. He is a poor fit to my ideal platform, admittedly, but he is an infinitely better fit than what the Democrats will in all probability be offering as an alternative.

  155. @tomriverwriter:

    You know, as long as one stayed in the ’90s, kept one’s sights at the newly sprouting big boxes and liked the idea of buying ’90s [fill in your favorite consumer item here] at ’70s prices and learned the pleasures of gazing at one’s navel, your point is valid. For a while everyone got “richer” (i.e. able to afford more stuff with what they had).

    Thing is, even the dimmest bargain-shopper fan™ would probably have noticed by now that the nearby town has suddenly emptied out of both businesses and people, and the larger town that’s a half-hour drive away isn’t doing so well either (but the State Capitol’s doing well enough to stylize their expressway overpasses – and no, I’m not joking on THAT). And the pot and alcohol issues of one’s youth have been replaced with crank, crack and opiates – drugs that come with a body count that goes beyond accidental. And those wonderful items that used to be both good and cheap now seem rougher, tackier and a bit more costly to boot – when they don’t disappear to be replaced by intentionally crappy rebranding of said items.

    And even if you can find something at ’70’s prices (or even proper ’90’s prices) at anything near the quality you faintly remember from when the big boxes were newly sprouting, you’re less likely to be able to afford what you could, as the food prices have risen in lock-step with the times and faster than your wages/retirement has risen. And it’s not just your situation – you’ve started noticing that the housing stock of the town has slowly become less kept-up and more dingy – and that’s if you don’t pay attention to the houses (and apartments) that stand empty or have been blessed with Section 8 inhabitants who have been subjected to three generations of being taught not to care for the places they happen to sleep in overnight and their surroundings – a lesson too many of them has taken to heart, as they’ve had little or nothing to counter the lessons. You also notice that the services have gotten a bit crappier (or less useful, as in the case of Libraries and Schools) and that the town and its residences seem less able to respond when needed.

    And as for the idea that they should be Democrats, why? As 2016 has shown, the Democratic party has no problem shouting down their constituents and selling certain groups down the river. Seriously – had Hillary picked someone more progressive to run as VP, I would have had no problem voting for her – but she picked a Confederate running mate and proceeded to ignore the rumbles of rebellion for the sake of Corporate Loot (Trump choosing Pence made sense; unlike Hillary, he saw party egos that needed salving and proceeded to salve them.). When the people supposedly on your side have made a habit of harvesting your votes and ignoring you otherwise, you look for alternatives – hence Trump, hence Brexit, hence the rise of Populism.

    And trust me, when you hear long-time residents of midwest towns talk about how their town keeps going downhill, you learn that Two Pickups in every garage may be nice but it doesn’t keep the local downtown from permanently losing core businesses when Casey’s plants a gas station/convenience store/pizza place at the edge of town or Walmart places one of their TempStores nearby (remember those? they placed a bunch of smaller stores nearer smaller towns, and when the downtowns of those towns closed up Walmart proceeded to do the same with THEIR newly-built stores) – nor does it stop your doctor from putting you on “non-addictive” pain pills that somehow lose the memo about their non-addictiveness. Switching from a party that at least acknowledges the spiritual problems they’re going through to a party that sees them as a crop to pay attention to only when it’s time to harvest their votes isn’t going to happen – not without real efforts towards change.

  156. I find myself once again wondering how much of what’s been discussed here is New Thought taken too far – the thought that moral progress could have culminated in the current era is naked heresy in the church of Progress. Still, it might be seen by some an acceptable lie if ‘we are the Good People’ were a mantra that creates its own truth through repetition. The focus on optimism in new thought would also be closely aligned with a belief in Progress, and it would explain the amount of effort spent reassuring the base – after all, their belief is what will ultimately determine the outcome!

    Which brings me to a question I’ve been thinking about lately: You’ve mentioned that a small number of skilled practitioners can make use of raw power from a lot of acolytes. Could there be efforts based in a new-thought system to manipulate reality by manipulating belief, e.g. by fudging poll or employment numbers? Economists are well known for trying to manipulate the economy by manipulating belief, but I’ve never heard of anyone trying to further channel the belief after it’s raised – I know it’s not the system you work in (not sure if anyone here is more familiar with it) but I’m curious if that seems like something that could happen.

    Ryan S, I think that’s a very interesting analysis! My experience has been that in Canada at least, many members of the Salary class simply don’t retire – many had aspirations to be investment class but never really spent any time or mental energy preparing for the transition. And the leverage that they used to live in larger houses for most of their lifetimes becomes more of a hindrance at that point. Anecdotally, a lot of the young professionals I’ve interacted with would much rather be in the low end of the investment class than the upper end of the salary class, and the trends in minimalism that brings with it has been pretty encouraging.

  157. That last bit about single vision and trying to fit everything into a single narrative, made me think of the reply you gave to the person who asked about the characteristics of the demonic on this weeks Magic Monday. You said it was characterised by the complete absence of reflection. I also remember you describing it as a state of unredeemable fixedness (my understanding, not your particular words) where learning is not possible, and I suppose as a result a being is stuck enacting a set pattern and experiencing the painful results over and over for an effectual eternity (again, my understanding, not your particular words) with nothing else ever becoming available.

    It really does seem to reflect what is going on here, isn’t it. Experienced reality simply does not exist for these people, only The Narrative™. Talking to neoliberal middle class true believers is frankly bizarre now. They will say that they are against skewed income distribution and corporate power and whatnot, and when you point out that the current administration’s policy has done a lot of good rectifying that and European populism will do the same in due time, they shriek “But [doing anything other that what we are already doing] isn’t the answer!” Another one commonly heard is “Trump [or insert any European populist that comes to mind] is dividing us!” As if there actually was a single “us” that was dutifully united behind The Narrative™ up until the Bad Orange Man came.

    Another characteristic you gave of the demonic in “Monsters” was the sheer weirdness of it, and that seems to apply, too, in spades. It has also struck me that whenever I brush up against people who try to fit everything into a single narrative, whether they be privileged progressives, scientific materialists, SJWs or what have you, I tend to have a strong emotional response I can only describe as instinctive fear of evil. This has always puzzled me (and I’ve always had it), as these people are always so docile and incapable and thus not able to pose a threat in any way, seemingly. It’s kinda starting to dawn how unsound all of this really is, right down to its spiritual core (or lack thereof).

  158. Ray, yeah, I’ve seen the same faux-agnosticism in the same context, and more than once from people who’ve also insisted that we absolutely positively how-dare-you-doubt-it are going to have a Glorious Future in Space™. It’s funny, in a bleak sort of way.

    Christoph, two excellent points. Thank you.

    JillN, “populism” these days means what the people want but the salary class doesn’t. I’m delighted to hear that you don’t believe in progress; that’s one false god who could use fewer worshipers.

    Don, please show me where I was tarring Alice Waters or anyone else, other than “Beto” O’Rourke, with anything at all.

    Tawal, last I checked, Dimon and Blankfein earn salaries. They’re at the top end of the salary class — making the transition to the investment class, sure, but they got there as salaried employees.

    Lievenm, I admit that has me scratching my head as well. The one way it makes sense is if you assume that the privileged classes in Europe see themselves as clients of an American imperium, and so having an emperor they don’t like is a very big deal to them.

    Don, okay, and what does this have to do with the subject of this week’s post? Or do you simply repeat that story whenever someone mentions farm-to-table restaurants?

    Joy Marie, yeah, the flipflopping is pretty remarkable! Many thanks for both articles — the one on failure is particularly important just now.

    Don, and here again, this isn’t what this week’s post is talking about. Is this just a hobby horse of yours, or are you trying to draw the conversation away from a topic you find too uncomfortable to discuss? It kind of sounds like the latter.

    Beekeeper, many thanks for all three of those. I noted a long time ago that most labor-saving inventions don’t…

    Beau, perhaps first of all you can show me where I said that Trump was trustworthy. It really does help if you argue against what I’ve actually said, rather than making something up and arguing about that!

    Phutatorius, I’ve heard Trump described at least once as a knuckle dragger, so you may not be as far off topic as all that! It’s a good term of abuse, too, worth adding to the list.

    BGHearns, bingo. I’m not a fan of Marx, but he scored a direct hit when he pointed out that control over the means of production is at the heart of struggles between social classes. Every aristocracy bases its power on its control of the property that produces wealth — as you point out, that’s spelled “farmland” in feudal societies and “factories” in industrial societies. The control can be straightforward or it can be cloaked in a tangled web of indirection — today’s situation, where salary class control of the means of production is unconnected with the formal ownership of those means, isn’t as atypical as it might seem. You’re also dead on target in pointing out that the virtue signals that matter to today’s aristocracy are one and all things you have to be well-to-do in order to afford. Hybrid cars are among my favorite examples there, but there are countless others.

    DFC, of course the salary class has its internal gradations, and of course those at the top benefit much more than those at the bottom. To speak of the four primary classes isn’t to erase all the other intricate distinctions among people in our caste-ridden society! Yet it’s not just the upper end of the managerial class that enjoys benefits from the current system or defends that system by all available means, you know.

    Userfriendlyyy, I’d like to ask you to clarify something. When you say that “this is by far the worst country that has ever existed,” do you mean that seriously, or are you being ironic?

    Christopher, I’d agree that there’s a strong element of decadent New Thought in the mindset of the privileged progressives, and indeed I plan on discussing that as we proceed. As for the systematic use of propaganda to try to create a collective reality, yes, that’s a known thing. Sane practitioners avoid it as they would a rabid grizzly, because what normally happens is that it results in a feedback loop that spins promptly out into psychosis — think Jonestown or the Solar Temple, or on a much larger scale, Nazi Germany.

    Sven, I think you’re on to something very important. I’ll want to ponder that for a while…

  159. I’m sure you’re right about Greer’s Law. As much as I’d like to take credit for Orange Julius™, I thought that was you too, but if not it was another commenter with a great sense of humor.

  160. To JMG: Thank you for your comments. I didn’t comment about immigration because I didn’t want my post to be too long, but I agree with you. I can’t comment about business regulation because I haven’t done the research.

    Where I disagree with you still is that trade agreements don’t work just on paper. The trade agreements of the last forty years reduced prices of imported goods substantially, and even despite its pressure on the wage class, overall the country is wealthier. To prove that point, I noted that Trump is having difficulty making significant changes to trade agreements, because he doesn’t have domestic support for it, and that’s because trade agreements made the country as a whole wealthier.

    It is class warfare, where the salaried and investment classes are better off, so they don’t care what’s happening to the manufacturing wage workers. Wage workers should be furious, and I understand perfectly why they have supported Trump. I see that Trump is trying to deliver on his promises, and that this is being blocked by the other classes.

    I just don’t think the wage class should ally with the investor class; the investor class doesn’t have the wage class’s interests at heart.

  161. @ Phillip Hardy

    I too am still trying to get rid of the bad taste left by voting in the English local elections. I did cast a vote for a liberal party, only because the administratively fairly competent council run by liberal party A was in danger of being replaced by one run by liberal party B who’ve made a complete mess of neighbouring boroughs.

    It’s interesting to think about how JMG’s class breakdown applies to the UK. I did read about a distinction drawn by someone whose name I have forgotten between two groups I think he called the ‘somewheres’ and the ‘nowheres’. The somewheres are people who feel themselves attached to a particular locality and concerned to maintain its integrity, steady jobs, local services, affordable housing etc. The nowheres are people who feel a loyalty to an international and cosmopolitan culture/ elite. As Matt said, we don’t really do weekly pay in the UK, but the nowheres are generally in what we would call ‘professional’ employment and most of them have a university degree, albeit often one whose economic value is strictly proportional to the price of toilet paper. This seems to go a long way to explain the Brexit divide, which is basically a surrogate for a debate about immigration. It chimes with my own experience. There is something about Brexit that obviously runs deep in a lot of people’s sense of identity and Remainers seem to be going through the same sort of grieving process as Trump’s opponents. Working in an office in which the two tribes are mixed is my only relief from an otherwise very tedious job.

    The attitude of our Green party is quite interesting in this respect. Paul Kingsnorth wrote an essay a while back pointing out that the Greens should at least have had their misgivings about an international union whose explicit aim was to destroy locally based economies and whose Common Agricultural Policy was an ecological disaster. Instead, they’re at the forefront of parties trying to stop Brexit. The Greens are drawn almost entirely from the liberal/ professional classes (‘nowheres’). The EU is also a leading exponent of their favourite sort of environmentalism, government backed schemes providing lots of professional jobs and serving as a distraction from their own holidays to Italy and fondness for imported avocados. It would be interesting to know what JMG thinks about the possibility of a populist party or movement emerging that actually takes ecological issues seriously. Outright denial is bound to start wearing thin once realities hit home (in so far as they haven’t already). Thanks anyhow JMG!

  162. Don Stewart’s exhortation to “insist” that Beto and other politicians take certain positions raises an interesting question. To my mind, you’re already insisting that, by disregarding them as long as they fail to do so.

    How else might we insist? Yelling and screaming a lot, and then voting for them anyhow when they ignore you, is not my nor (I hope) anyone’s idea of effective insistence. (Not that I’m not guilty, along with uncounted millions of others, of having done exactly that for years.)

    But is there another option now, for voters who are fed up with both major parties and the incumbent alike? A threat to vote orange if the opposition doesn’t offer something better should carry more credibility than usual, given the force of Trump derangement and the fact that it’s already happened once. Might there be any way to get that threat heard ahead of time, instead of the consequences being seen (again) after the fact as having come out of nowhere?

  163. @All Austin and Violet,

    Though I agree that Rhode Island is an excellent option, you might also consider the south coast region of Massachusetts (which is near there, between RI and Cape Cod). That won’t help if your problem is with Massachusetts state laws or state tax rates, but if you’re just looking for reasonably priced politically diverse working class neighborhoods, Fall River, New Bedford, Wareham (my current digs), and a few other south coast towns are worth a look.

    Anyone in Boston will tell you these places are “sketchy” (just like the North End in the 60s and 70s when my wife raised her daughter there, and Somerville in the 80s and early 90s when we both lived there.) Translated, that means there are working class people and affordable and low-income housing options.

  164. Please ponder, and I will certainly do the same. This has been haunting my mind of late (pun intended), and rather forcibly so.

    And, if I may, re: Your response to Lievenm, “The one way it makes sense is if you assume that the privileged classes in Europe see themselves as clients of an American imperium, and so having an emperor they don’t like is a very big deal to them.”

    Dead on target. The most common non sequitur that is currently chanted by the privileged, particularly among the champagne socialists who are overrepresented among the salary class bureaucrats here, goes like this: “The U.S. is bad and evil because of their active military dominance over other countries, and because they suck the world dry through their trade policies, and therefore it is absolutely unacceptable that they should stop doing it now!”

    Weird simply doesn’t cut it…

  165. @Christopher @BGHearns,@JMG

    I don’t believe in the end it’s not about who controls the means of production, it’s about how well those in control treat their employees. I look around my small corner of Western Massachusetts and many people around here
    would rather work for the the big retail stores because there is an opportunity for advancement, however miniscule. (Certainly not worth a university diploma) Still a better opportunity than a local business.

    When you look into local businesses all of them are owned by people of the salary class. There are a few co-ops, and I have grown to hate the coops because most of them again, are owned by the salary and investor class, and not the local populations. (The only exception I know to this is a certain Creamery over in Cum -)
    I have observed that many local business owners are the worst sort of people. One business I know of has six employees working at it. One of these employees has several “benign” tumors the size of golf balls growing on his arm and ear; meanwhile the business owner has two houses, one on Cape Cod, another McMansion up here Amh – (This was partly why I never considered moving to Rhode Island, I just assumed it was another batch of Salary-Salad-Bigot-Brandywhoppy-Slug-Fest)

    Sufficer to say this particular business owner, who could easily spared the 3K to help her employee of 20+ years did give a damn about his welfare. She called it once to me a “happy family business.” Looking back on that conversation my response is yea right you *#&^$*&$*$. I’m tired of dealing with such people – Also I’m afraid. I can’t get onto Mass Health Care because my former employer, one of these Salary Class 122holes, keeps putting me into the system as still working for them when I’m not. So I can’t get health insurance. I kinda want to just get as far away from them as I can.

    There is another thing I have to put out there, the Golden 122hole Resume. I know I’ve complained here in the past about my town’s Democratic Party appointing a 19 year old kids as its chair… (He was on the Ballet for Steven Kulik’s seat, Chairman of the Massachusetts ways and means committee, last year.) He took the leftover money from his campaign and bought a house. He lost by 27,000 votes namely because he couldn’t win the town Worcester. What ticks me off about specimens like him is that he was made a manager of a restaurant at 16, so by the age of 23 he has more on his resume than most adults do by 45. (Except a college degree)

  166. Dear BoysMom, Mary Kay is still around? I don’t use cosmetics, but if you can make some extra cash selling them, you go girl!

    Dear David by the Lake, I was seriously considering voting for Trump, much as I detest him on a personal level, for pretty much the reasons you gave, and then came the involvement in Venezuela. I voted against Clinton primarily because of Honduras, Haiti, Libya, Ukraine and Syria, and I expect I shall be voting against Trump, or not voting for president, because of Venezuela. The neo-con faction needs to be behind bars, not handed some random small country they can shoot up, and Trump the Macho Man doesn’t seem to be able to tell them no.

    I just wish the Greens would find a credible candidate, as in someone with governing experience.

  167. @ St. Louis – You’ve got it backwards. I was talking about people who live in the war zone of a city (with their kids), who commute to our rural, bucolic small towns. If their kids safety was in issue, they’d be moving here.

    Qualified staff? Employers need to try harder. It’s amazing how many people that live here, have to commute to the bigger cities (and seem to have no problem measuring up to big city qualifications) because the jobs here, are taken up by qualified people from the big cities.

    I watched a friend of mine who was considering moving here and buying a house. At the time, you could buy three times the house, at half the price and have much lower property taxes. At first he was enthused, than that waned. And, he finally ended up buying in the city. The best I could figure out is that he bowed to subtle (and not so subtle) social pressure.

    Oh, well. As the price of gas goes through the roof, these problems will eventually be worked out. Lew

  168. I’ve had a thought similar to Sven’s: is it possible there are so many human bodies there aren’t enough souls to fill them all, and so a large number of human bodies are being occupied by something else? It might explain an awful lot….

    As for Carl Sagan, I think in a sane world he’d have that status of entertainer at best. But he is really treated as the Pope of Progress™ by a lot of the salary class, or at least the upper end of it.

  169. Oh, also, speaking of the well-to-do wanting an exemption for their actions, I find it fascinating how there’s a massive fight over whether the Canadian carbon taxes should apply to the airlines or not. Of course, there’s no debate it should apply to food, but air travel? Of all the things to fight over, this is the one people find unacceptable?

  170. I’m noticing a trend – the only people who oppose Trump who get any mention here are the most unhinged, “not my president” types. Can you make room for the idea that there are a lot of us who see negatives in this president without lumping us all together under one lazy stereotype of a campus activist?

  171. Ryan, I’m quite sure I didn’t invent Orange Julius, as I recall laughing hard when I first read it on the comment page for a blog post of mine.

    Tomriverwriter, the fact that the country is wealthier on average simply reflects the fact that the profits to the salary class from free trade agreements are somewhat larger than the losses to the wage class. If a millionaire makes another million and a thousand other people lose $999 each, if you lump it all together there’s an increase in wealth, but that doesn’t help the thousand who lost out. Free trade agreements *always* — as David Ricardo pointed out, btw — a way to drive down wages for the working classes so that the privileged can prosper even more. Thus it’s not at all surprising that defenders of privileged progressivism cling to their free trade agreements — those satisfy the invariable rule of privileged progressivism, which is that the well-to-do should always benefit.

    Sven, that’s just giddy. I suppose it’s not surprising, though, as I suspect a lot of European countries are trying to forget the fact that their overseas empires were even more brutal than ours…

    All Austin, but if the people we’re talking about didn’t control the means of production they wouldn’t be able to do that to their employees — they wouldn’t have employees, in fact. One of the basic rules of life in today’s America, by the way, is that being someone’s employee these days is strictly for chumps.

    Will, I don’t think it’s that. I think it’s more that the barriers between the human and demonic realms are very thin just now, and it’s easy for the clueless to be sucked into patterns of thought (or non-thought) that are basically demonic in nature. As for the carbon taxes, well, of course — nothing can be allowed to interfere with the privileged classes’ pursuit of wretched excess!

    David, if I saw more people like that I’d talk about them more often. Tell me this: can you, without immediately turning around and denouncing the man for something else, name one thing Trump has done that you wholeheartedly agree with?

  172. Don Stewart (offlist), as I said, this week’s conversation is not about food deserts et al. — it’s about a certain kind of self-interested cluelessness well displayed in O’Rourke’s comments. There are plenty of places online where you can rant to your heart’s content about topics of your own choosing; this is not one of them. Now go away.

  173. @ Nastarana

    Re Trump and voting

    I certainly can not fault your assessment. Personally, while I’m encouraged by his attempts to withdraw from Syriaquistan (one of the best terms I’ve found for that whole mess), I’ve been disappointed by his approach to both Venezuela and Yemen, not to mention the military budget generally. Given the alternatives, and given what he *has* done on the trade front, I’d much rather he have another 4 years than have a status quo ante Democrat (e.g. Biden) undo even the little that has been accomplished. The US empire needs to be dismantled post-haste and our integration into the global trade system reversed in favor of an economic nationalism and economic self-reliance. While that isn’t Trump’s platform by any stretch of the imagination, his actions have furthered those goals to a degree no one else has remotely approached so far, so I’m likely going to take what I can get. Yes, I too would prefer a coherent and systematic execution of that platform I’ve outlined before, but I’m starting to think that at this particular point in the game, only someone like Trump would be able to accomplish anything along those lines. Perhaps further along, as the system continues to unravel, there will be opportunity for a more deliberate leader to step into the role.

  174. RE: Mind to Matter book recommendation. I looked inside the book. He was endorsed by a ripe collection of the Think Yourself Rich Crowd. And his bibliography was “EFT for This, EFT for That…..” a long list.

    He’s selling something. Even if his finger is on what makes this stuff work.Sorry.

  175. says Mary Kay, like most “direct selling” outfits, is a pyramid scheme. (I was surprised they’re still around too!)

    A pyramid scheme, such as Amway, is where you make your money recruiting other people to recruit still other people; each of those people pays you, the “upline,” part of whatever they pay for their initial cost to join ,plus part of the commission they make on the occasional sale of the product. Eventually everyone has recruited everyone else and the pyramid collapses. The money’s in the recruitment, not the product. That’s why the products from these outfits cost so much; a whole lot of people are getting a cut. The U. S. allows pyramid schemes as long as sale of a product is used as a cover, on the theory, I guess, that if the smiling Mary Kay lady is recruiting every woman in a small town to recruit every other woman, you’ll have sense enough to see that something’s fishy (legitimate salespeople have territories, they don’t go around recruiting other salespeople to saturate their own market).

    Direct sales, such as Avon, is classic door-to-door sales; they do have territories and the focus is on the product, not recruitment. claims Avon is slowly morphing into a pyramid scheme; if so, that’s too bad.

    Unless you get into a pyramid scheme at exactly the right moment and you know a whole lot of innumerate people you can recruit, you’re unlikely to make any money. Direct sales, on the other hand, can work—if you are employed in an office full of women and you leave Avon catalogues in the break room, bored women will take those catalogues, read them, and many of them will buy something. Make sure you know if the company you’re contemplating is legitimate direct sales or a pyramid scheme.

  176. JMG, why are the barriers between the human and demonic realms so thin right now? Is this something that happens in natural cycles, like the weather, or is there a specific cause?

  177. I’m not a US voter, but I agree with Trump’s assertion that the US needs better relations with Russia, if only because both sides have nuclear weapons. (If I were a US voter, I would have been a Sanders write-in.)

  178. David (not BTL), sure, there probably exist plenty of reasonable, non-deranged people who dislike Trump to varying degrees, but the extent to which a deranged refusal even to accept the President’s legitimacy has broken through to the top-tier prestige media and the leadership of the opposition party is new, and indeed in my view the defining aspect of our politics just now. It bears talking about, because it’s really, deeply weird.

    Honestly, nothing would make me happier than to see the left (such as it is) drop the hysterics and start talking about policy again. And of course there are voices on the left trying to keep it at least somewhat substantive; Bernie and Tulsi Gabbard come to mind.

  179. @ Christopher Henningsen

    I also know people whose plan is to never retire in the US. Sometimes, however, life has other plans and it’s best to be as prepared as possible. I’m not familiar with the Canadian retirement system, but the US is about to undergo a huge experiment where individuals (at least private sector workers) are largely responsible for their own retirement investments. Salary class workers who have saved prudently and consistently may have the ability to enter the lower rungs of the investor class. Many more workers will have significant investments even if they do not qualify as members of the investor class from a net worth perspective. These new retirees will have different interests than pensioners whose only interest is to make sure the checks keep coming.

    I agree that trends in minimalism (collapsing early, if you will) are very encouraging and may help some people transition to the new retirement system here in the US. Minimalism has the dual effect of encouraging people to consume less, while increasing the chances they will be able to live comfortably off their investment returns.

  180. At a wedding within the last year, I spoke with some friends of the family who I have not really talked to since I was a child. They are very salary class, very progressive types. They have a son and a daughter. The daughter is doing fine as a public servant, but the son is not. Their son doesn’t like academics and is of average intelligence (so he’s got little chance of entering the salary class except through pure nepotism, which isn’t going to happen because the people I am talking about do have principles). They were lamenting the fact that he doesn’t have much of a future, with soaring housing costs and stagnant wages outside of elite fields. Obviously, this was a happy occasion and I was not remotely interested in getting into how the Bad Orange Man’s policies might help their son, but I found the lack of self-awareness coming from two very smart people to be a little disturbing. Surely, they have the intellect to understand why mass immigration and low interest rates raises housing costs, and that mass immigration likewise lowers wages for the working class. Ironically, their son in law is a computer programmer, another field that has seen large salary increases under Trump, because of a crackdown on essentially fraudulent H1B visas tightening the labor supply in that industry.

    I find the discourse surrounding intelligence in our society to be incredibly disheartening – many privileged people in the salary class act as if the problems facing deplorables are God’s punishment for the stupidity of the deplorables. We know that intelligence is a polygenetic trait that is somewhat influenced by epigenetics and environment, just like just about every other way the human body can be measured, like height or bone density or red blood cell count. Imagine if we had a society of tall supremacists who insisted that short people are less worthy and don’t deserve the products on the top shelf. Obviously, as Solzhenitsyn pointed out, to make people equal you have to enslave them, and to make people free you have to let individual differences loose – of course I think it is better to be tall and smart than short and dumb, and that smart people will always make more money and tall people have an easier time getting laid – but if the smart tall people aren’t careful, they will find themselves on the receiving end of a lot of short dumb people’s rage.

    A lot of my family is in academia, and although I don’t personally fault them or think they are bad people, I can’t help but do the mental math on how many people are put into poverty every year by the student loans that pay their salaries. I’m aware that if there actually were a communist revolution™ in the USA/Canada that they would be lucky to get put up against a wall and shot rather than worked to death in a cornfield (the alt-right would do the same). In short, I know a lot of people who are still in disbelief. I love these people dearly and think highly of most of them. And yet they don’t get it, and are completely incapable – I think – of getting it. I’m 29 now, and first ‘got it’ at 15 when an essay I was writing for a high school biology class lead me to learning about the issues with industrial agriculture and the finite nature of the fossil fuels and fertilizer that makes it possible. And yet, the massive inertia and the desire to live up to the expectations of those around me led me to get an engineering degree, and work as an engineer for many years before shifting gears a little into something that is still unsustainable but less so.

  181. @ Sven,

    The comments you made that both you and JMG intend to ponder are marvelous. With just a few minutes of mulling them over, I’m finding a lot of meat therein, and things of a highly practical nature. Your comments are also very timely for some events occurring at my job right now. Well said and of perfect timing. I’ll be pondering this as well.


  182. Excellent essay! Three sorta factual observations;
    Society overheads -banking /financial complex, government, medical complex, educational complex, legal complex , etc exceed the capacity of the real economy to support (deficit spending $1 trillion per year)
    The “real” society needs – infrastructure, education, the urban environments are in collapse
    I have experienced and observed real poverty (parts of 2nd world and most 3rd world) and we do not have actual poor people, only perceived poverty. For example, Mumbai, Rio favelas, etc. (a long list).
    My opinion is the elites are quite corrupt (and I get that, nothing historically new), but they are unbelievably incompetent ; the ongoing attempted coup against Trump of the last 3 years makes the 3 Stooges or Keystone cops almost credible.

  183. Unfortunately I cannot tie this to the topic of the current article, but it’s relevant to things you’ve said many times, JMG, about the salaried class justifying their lifestyles. A woman writes about flying.

    “My conscience was temporarily relieved when I made a donation through and invested in some new stoves for a group of women in Kenya. These stoves use about 50 per cent less firewood than the stove these women currently use, and are made by local artisans.”

    She cannot possibly give up her huge emissions, but she would like some other people to give up their small emissions to make up for it.

    “In my opinion it is not sustainable to give up flying.”

    I am reminded of the man who wrote, “all men are created equal” who continued to hold slaves because it would be inconvenient for him not to.

  184. Have you encountered Yoram Hazony and his ideas on nationalism? He has a book out now called the Virtue of Nationalism and what’s interesting to me about his approach is he doesn’t start with the premise that human beings are rational at all times and decide what’s best based on logic.

    In this podcast on Econtalk he gave a summary of his thoughts. The link has full transcript and link to the audio.

    He covers empirical basis for political systems, social cohesion, freedom, imperialism vs. nationalism, and free trade.

  185. Why is it the people who most support America – fly the flag, serve in the military, participate in local politics – are the working class, while the salary class regularly says they hate this country? The salary class is constantly trying to remake this country into some utopian vision telling the people that are already here that they aren’t welcome. No matter it’s an inner city black neighborhood where whites move in, or hard labor jobs where they ship it overseas, or communities they shut out of the internet by not running cables to them. The salary class just pushes the working class out and puts them down constantly and yet the working class still loves America.

    If there was another War of the Rebellion would it be working class vs. salary class where the salary class has regulated things to such an intolerable extant that the working class revolts? Would the salary class ever be capable of taking up arms against the working class? I suspect not.

  186. @Docshibby and all others interested in hierarchical vs. egalitarian behavior: the human tendency to create hierarchies is something I also ponder. A book on my reading list that I haven’t gotten to yet is Christopher Boehm’s “Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior.” May be worth investigating.

  187. This has been percolating for a long time. I think much of what you outlined was originally penned by C.S. Lewis in “Funeral of a Great Myth”. Very good stuff, keep it coming!

  188. Here’s a thought experiment regarding “the Donald” that I’ve been entertaining myself with for a couple of days: What if, instead of Trump, the Republicans had nominated the late Hugh Hefner and he’d gone on to win the White House? How would the religious right be behaving? Would it be any different than they are behaving now?

  189. JMG: “David, if I saw more people like that I’d talk about them more often. Tell me this: can you, without immediately turning around and denouncing the man for something else, name one thing Trump has done that you wholeheartedly agree with?”

    I can’t speak for David, but my experience is that even outside the bubble of antisocial media we’re not particularly common. The issue that I wholeheartedly agree with the president on also neatly encapsulates some of my frustrations with the present political madness. To give you a sense of where I’m coming from, I’m a swing state Obama/Obama/Clinton voter. I won’t be voting for Trump in 2020. However, given how things are shaking out so far there’s a pretty good chance I won’t be voting for the eventual Democratic nominee this time around either, but that’s a whole ‘nother comment.

    Specifically, I thought his criticisms of the postal union treaty were spot on, and it’s an issue I had literally never heard anything about from any political corner prior to him. The fact that we have a system where it’s cheaper to ship something to me from China than from a neighboring state is utterly ludicrous. Fixing that would simultaneously encourage production to move A) closer to the ultimate customer and B) from a country with lax environmental laws to one with stronger ones. Why isn’t every environmentalist worth their compost giving him a standing ovation for that? Not to mention the strategic possibilities of a pro-environment measure that could be wildly popular with rural and wage class voters! Even if he’s doing it to assist the domestic manufacturing sector or to stick it to China, who cares? A win’s a win.

    But no, he’s Wrong™, so I guess that’s that.

    (I post here once in a while under a different name, but given the nature of the Internet I didn’t want these personal details associated with that name.)

  190. I can’t find who I am replying to, but for the person who mentioned the “people from ‘nowhere’ versus the people from ‘somewhere'”, here’s where that came from. I found it while reading the Brexit Central newsfeed this AM:

    “The election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the US has reminded us that hard-left politics is not dead, but there is a new ideological struggle, highlighted at one point by Theresa May, which is fast overtaking it. In 2016, at the Tory Party Conference, she lumped tax-dodging global companies along with idealistic metropolitan liberals, and gave them a blunt message:

    “If you believe you’re a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere. You don’t understand what the very word ‘citizenship’ means.”

    Her words offended the jet-setting London elite but her ‘citizens of nowhere’ speech nailed her colours firmly to the mast alongside the citizens of ‘somewhere’, those who believed that a nation state should be in legal control over its own land, people and laws – the basis of the Leave argument. Nick Timothy, who is said to have written the speech, is not an academic, but it is striking how important his ideological vision contributed to the pre-election Theresa May. When she lost the man who was frequently described as her ‘brain’, the ideological drift set in and the Civil Service were only too pleased to fill the vacuum. The Prime Minister’s Brexit plan was hijacked by the europhiles in the civil service and their collaborators in the establishment made sure her earlier vision never became a reality.

  191. Dear Archdruid Greer,

    Greetings from central Europe. It’s interesting for me to read your opinions on immigration and free trade. You make quite a lot of sense (especially if I try to put myself in the shoes of a working class person in Wisconsin or Michigan), but something seems to be missing: what exactly does the United States, as you envision it, have to offer long term to the largely Hispanic population of states such as New Mexico or Texas? I would imagine that, if I were a Hispanic US American living close to the Mexican border, I’d feel more affinity with people living south of the Mexican border than with people living up north near the Canadian border. Quite likely, I’d favor much greater freedom of movement between my state and Mexico. Furthermore, Mexican culture is far better adapted to the local (SW USA) conditions than the culture of people whose ancestors came from rainy areas such as the British Isles or Scandinavia. Sure, given massive amounts of mostly fossil fuel energy, New Mexico can be adapted to English tastes (more or less), but as cheap energy goes away, an exodus of people with such tastes from (today’s) SW USA seems likely. (Certainly, some people will adapt. But in this context, doesn’t adaptation largely mean “becoming Mexican”?) Combine that with relatively high birth rates for Hispanics (compared to those of non-Hispanic white Americans), and that region is likely to become more and more Mexican.

    So, isn’t it likely that those southwestern states will secede (and possibly merge with Mexico)? Why not? What’s in it for them and their residents (especially those who can live there with no air-conditioning) in the Archdruid’s program?

  192. @Lew

    My apologies if I misunderstood.

    It sounds like there are very different situations where we live – no amount of money could induce me to move my family into the city near me, it is simply too dangerous with no safety to be found in any of the urban quarters.

    The self-perpetuating cycle of true poverty (ignorance) and violence in decayed urban centers is difficult to address by local governments because it represents failures on so many levels. What has traditionally been done over the past 40 years appears to be the implementation of ‘containment’ strategies which involve heavy use of law enforcement to keep crime from spreading to the suburbs. One of the effects of this in my area is that it makes criminals of a high percentage of the inner city population before they are 18. Throw in a low tax base = failing schools, zero healthcare, no employment options (even if you haven’t been in the system) and you have a city that is imploding and everyone with the means escaping further and further into suburbs and towns surrounding. I don’t blame anyone for trying to move out – it is about survival at this point.

    The bigger issue is that we need to find new ways of living because what we have been doing isn’t working now and is not sustainable.

  193. John—

    Somewhat OT but I just wanted to let you know my copy of The Blood of the Earth just arrived with today’s mail. I’m looking forward to delving into it. Physically, it in an impressive and handsome book, which as an old-school bibliophile I rather appreciate 🙂

  194. JMG –

    Re: the Kubler-Ross schematic and the Progressive meltdown, I don’t know whether this falls into the denial or rage phase, but I have to mention the machinations of the Psychology Industry over the past several years:

    I have a Trump-hating relative who is a psychologist, and every time I mention that Trump is doing some things that benefit the wage-earning class, she rails that it doesn’t matter because the majority of American (and for all I know, international) psychologists have studied Trump’s behavior patterns and have come to the conclusion that he is without a doubt a psychopath. Petitions with thousands of signatures have been signed, whole books have been written to this effect, she tells me. Wow, talk about conversation-closers. What’s it matter what your president has done or wants to do when he’s a real life psychopath?

    For me, the Psychology Industry is on par with the Higher Ed Industry when it comes to sheer decrepitude and snob elitism. Right, as if psychologists aren’t as prone to group-think fashion as any other elitist faction eager to be in with the in-crowd. They treat as sacrosanct notions that they will probably drop like hot spuds in a decade’s time. Remember the “hypnotic recall” phase of the 80’s, the results of which were so widespread that the FBI launched a 3 year investigation into whether children really had been abused by their Satanic ritual-inclined parents? The FBI came up with zilch, of course. Well, a whole lotta psychologists and therapists were onboard with that scam. Now the scam is “Trump is a psychopath, impeach him!”.

    Btw, to the departed Don Stewart – it’s spelled “Ithaca”, not “Ithaka”, unless you’re making a reference to the town’s fascist KKK leanings – in which case, brother, do you have the wrong town. Ithaca happens to be a a slice of Progressive Manhattan in upstate NY. I know, I live in Ithaca.

  195. Hi Denys,

    “I can hire half the working class to slaughter the other half.”— J. P. Morgan

    “Great idea!”—Any 21st century salary class member

    And, unfortunately, it’ll still work.

  196. Hi Patricia Matthews,

    Well, he sold me something, but for only two bucks, and it’s worth it because it’s darned interesting!

  197. Any interest I might have mustered for ‘Beto’ O’Rourke was lost when I heard that he live-streamed his dental appointment. Perhaps in the interest of being an informed person I should have watched it before coming to an opinion, but I raised three boys and am therefore intimately familiar with adolescent male behavior and don’t really need to see any more of that.

    I’m quite sure there are plenty of non-crazy opponents of Trump, there are fine people in our village who fall into that category, but the genuinely unhinged – louder and more brazen – seem to have sucked all the oxygen out of that room.

    In my limited experience, your friend may have looked around your rural, bucolic small town and decided that some/many/almost all of the people who live there are not like him. Maybe their political positions were not as ‘enlightened’, maybe the school did not offer enough virtue and class signalling activities, maybe he feared being away from the excitement and opportunities of the city. Regardless, this may be a bullet dodged for you. We used to live in a rural area that was just within a 90-minute drive from good jobs in The City so lots of urbanites moved in and immediately began to demand our beautiful rural district become more like the city they left: they wanted street lights (and run the darn things all night), a lacrosse team at the school (this in an area where the local kids worked on the family farm after school), trendy new class offerings at the high school, and additional support staff for their children (who need extra guidance because their parents are away commuting all day). They didn’t like stinky livestock either. You can guess what happened to property taxes. We used to joke that we should have found out how far people were willing to commute and then bought a house 15 minutes further away, but in the end we threw in the towel and moved to a house on a really rural dirt road on top of a mountain with very few neighbors a five hour drive from that city.

  198. Dear Varun and Kiashu, I will believe that a no flying movement has had an impact when I see a serious revival of mass transit OUTSIDE of large cities.

  199. Denys–the worst case I have heard of involving women bullying other women over lifestyle choices was a woman with a double mastectomy being told she should still try to breast feed.
    Of course breastfeeding advocacy is no longer a matter of mothers helping other mothers. It is a profession-lactation specialist- and as such develops the same conflicts between client interests and the interests of the professional as any other professional monopoly.

    Yesterday I met with the most pronounced incident of Trump Derangement Syndrome that I have seen to date. The other party, although he admitted to only a BA in psychology, confidently parroted the diagnosis of Trump as suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, being completely dependent on other people for validation. The speaker claimed that this was due to Fred Trump having hated his son and rubbing it in whenever Donald failed at something. I have no idea whether this is true, nor do I particularly care. I turned to another member of the discussion and remarked that if we were talking about a Black inner city youth, or a Latino gang leader with the same explanation for their anti-social deeds, someone would express some iota of sympathy or pity. Another human being despised by their parent–That is an awful thing–don’t you feel something? Nope, not a single person at the table seemed to feel anything other than unalloyed dislike.


  200. @Pogonip – When I checked, the quote “I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.”, was attributed to Jay Gould. If somehow, someway people in the working class and salary class found common ground and began to work together the results would be quite interesting. Ain’t gonna happen.

    @ St. Louis – a visitor stopped by our store. He is originally from this area (which has been described as a sea of mediocrity with islands of excellence; it also has many areas with very sub-par conditions) but moved out of state years ago; he and his family are doing well. While misses the area, he doesn’t miss what he left; many people he knows who stayed are dead from alcoholism, drugs, violence; he was in town for the funeral of a relative who had died too young.

  201. Investment class.

    Yeah, sure.

    How can there be an upgrade to investment class without much really worth investing in? Risk is way too high. Interest is way too low.

    The stocks and bonds markets have been casinos for years. The financial industry keeps coming up with more fictions. You might get richer and more likely you will get poorer. When investment vehicles crash could it be that the rich are cashing in first which promotes the panic?

    The USA looks to have more debt than it can ever repay. Buying US bonds looks less and less desirable. China is cashing in. When interest rates go up a bit the USA will need to borrow even more than it already is to pay interest on the national debts.

    Fraud is punished on a limited liability corporate level. Have any Wells Fargo execs gone to jail?

    Why would anyone buy anything from a stock broker who gets paid on commission?

    From the noise coming from economists I would expect them all to be wealthy but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Mainstream economics has failed to predict some very large and obvious bubble crashes. Why take advice from them?

    The amount of “paper gold” is greater than all the gold that has ever been mined. Gold is of no value to me until I can use it to buy groceries.

    Bitcoin miners seem to create Bitcoins by solving a puzzle (finding the next greater prime number?). As this gets more difficult to solve the computer power and electricity use is getting gross. Investors have to be patient to get their “investment” returns. Some of their facilities have simply collapsed.

    Financial industry profits are somehow counted in the GDP (which is a phony statistic anyway.) Money chasing money is productive? There is income from skimming but where is the real world production?

    The little local banks are being regulated out of existence by excessive record keeping and reporting to “authorities”. Christmas time I cashed in a couple of $100 dollar bills for $20s and the credit union teller asked if it was for xmas presents. Was that personal or regulatory snoopiness? It felt like she had been trained to ask.

    Americans in EU are giving up their citizenship because the banks don’t want to mess with the excessive reporting to the USA. I believe Boris Johnson is an example.

    I wonder if the Trumpists are working on reducing the above busy work.

    What I and many others see is a house of cards. That it has not collapsed – years ago – is interesting. Might it be supported by corruption and fraud? Maybe when Boeing goes down…

    If anyone wants to make a wonderful investment I have houses in Seattle to sell you.*

    *Just kidding. I don’t want to go to jail.

  202. Irena

    The US SW was Mexico.

    Mexico might pay for Mr. Trump’s wall if it is placed properly north of California, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas.

    There were people living there who never bothered to learn English for a century after the takeover. During the 1930’s depression greedsters said they didn’t own the land they had farmed for a very long time just because and had them deported to Mexico, a place they might not ever have been.

  203. I know we’re not talking about insults anymore, but I heard these on YouTube today and had to share:
    You stick of unsalted butter
    You vitamin-D deficient rodeo/circus clown
    You un-installed Ikea shelf.
    You uncultured Neanderthal (which I think is unfair to our heavy-browed partial ancestors, but whatever)

    They’re all silly and made me laugh.

  204. On demons… if the human population is so large that animal souls are being quickly processed via a jump in evolution, perhaps the surge in demonic influence is simply the counter-pull of devolution. I think Dion Fortune had a statement about the demonic being anything that pulled you towards regression, but I’m not sure.

    Someone who was embodied as a factory farmed pig all of twenty years ago may find himself easily seduced by the allure of television, get rich quick schemes, or Ouija boards. Modern life is confusing enough and tries to suck us into following our own worst instincts as it is — add a dash of bad parenting, glitzy advertising, and little to no opportunity to find decent work in one’s adult lifetime and the population becomes a wave for demons to surf. I don’t know much about astrology (doing my best to remedy my ignorance) but isn’t our age profoundly influenced by Pluto and therefore Hades? The NPC Non-Playable Character phenomenon among privileged progressives makes sense: what demon parasite would want his host to start critically analyzing their own behavior and trying to do better?

    Also, from that fatuous article where the woman tries to justify her compulsive air travel by buying some stoves for women in Kenya: “Flying may actually be required for us to experience the world with open eyes and without prejudice.”

    Yeah, I think I barfed in my mouth a little. Who does she mean by “us”? Probably not Kenyan women or middle class deplorables. She reminds me of Kelly Osbourne, daughter of Ozzy, who stumbled into a major cringeworthy gaffe when she asked who would clean Trump’s toilets once he managed to deport all the Mexicans. She’s yet another snobby scatterbrain who doesn’t see the people who clean up rich people’s messes as actual people. She made me glad I went from upper-middle class to lower. I am not proud to admit I was just like her once, even if I didn’t have the opportunity to make my horrendous ignorance known on TV.

  205. JMG what are you using for a source of statistics?

    I often read the government reports are phony.

  206. Patricia, so noted. Thanks for the heads up!

    Pogonip, it’s more or less a natural process. What happens is that ordinary human stupidity and nastiness gradually colors what occultists call the lower astral plane, which is the level with which most people mentally resonate; there’s a feedback loop, so that the crud on the lower astral reflects itself into the minds of people who think on that level, and their thinking adds more crud to the mess; eventually it reaches a point at which there’s not that much of a gap between the bottom end of human thinking and the upper end of demonic thinking, and the demons perk up and start playing their little games with more than the usual amount of verve. You know this is happening in a big way when summoning demons all of a sudden becomes much more common in pop occultism — yes, that’s happening now, just as it happened at the turn of the last century.

    What happens then is some concatenation of natural and unnatural disasters that causes a lot of human beings to die messily. That discharges the buildup of stupidity and nastiness. The two world wars were what happened last time. This time? Anybody’s guess.

    Kfish, I ain’t arguing.

    Justin, I get that. I hear a lot of stories like yours: accounts of really nice, pleasant, thoughtful people who don’t get the fact that their lifestyles are creating the problems they wish they could do something to solve…

    Varun, I think you’re right — that kind of jawdroppingly specious argument wouldn’t even have had to be made if the privileged progressives were still comfortably wrapped in their dreams of a better world.

    Robert, that last point of yours is important. The degree of absurd incompetence among our current soi-disant “betters” is really quite stunning.

    Kiashu, giddy indeed. It seems to me that you’ve addressed the topic of my post very precisely!

    Denys, no, I haven’t — thanks for the heads up. As for the absence of patriotism among the privileged, that’s something that goes straight back to colonial times in the US. The privileged classes here have always tried to pretend that they aren’t really Americans — no, they’re temporarily disadvantaged Europeans. This allows them to place loyalty to their class interests ahead of anything as inconvenient as loyalty to their country.

    Dave, thank you! I try to put an original spin on these ideas, but they’re certainly not new, and Lewis (by way of The Abolition of Man in particular) has influenced my thinking along these lines more than a little.

    Phutatorius, funny! It depends on what policies Hefner had pursued, of course. The populist right supports Trump because he’s actually delivered on many of his campaign promises; I honestly think they’d vote for Xaviera Hollander with equal enthusiasm if she’d promised to impose tariffs, crack down on illegal immigration, and put the breaks on the metastatic growth of government regulation.

    Handle, thanks for this. The capacity to respect the constructive actions of people whose other actions you dislike, or even detest, is essential for basic political sanity…and it’s very rare these days.

    Lydia, fascinating. Thanks for this!

    Irena, the southwestern quarter of the US used to be the northern half of Mexico, before we took it from them at gunpoint in the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848. I expect it to be part of Mexico again, probably not within my lifetime but within a century or so; it’s quite possible that as the US slides down the chute of decline and fall, that quite a bit of the western 2/3rds or so of the US could end up at least temporarily Mexican. That doesn’t change the fact that right now, unlimited illegal immigration is being used here — as it is in Europe — to drive down wages and benefits for working people, for the advantage of the middle and upper middle classes. That’s the thing I’m trying to discuss at the moment; I wrote at some length abou tthe long-range future of the US in my book Decline and Fall.

    David BTL, of course they think that. If they actually grasped that Trump was the inevitable consequence of their own actions, what would they do then? Glad to hear you got the book — since you’re a longtime reader of my blogs, you may notice certain familiar passages…

    Will M, there’s an intriguing book by James Hillman and Michael Ventura called We’ve Had A Hundred Years Of Psychotherapy And The World Is Getting Worse. To my mind, it doesn’t go to the root of the problem, which is the way that therapists inevitably got sucked into the game of trying to make people well-adjusted to a sick society. The trial by diagnosis you’ve discussed is a great example of the outcome. I suppose it won’t do any good to say, “So? I could care less about his psychology; I’m talking about his actions…”

    Pogonip, ha! Funny indeed.

    Beekeeper, er, um, what the ever-loving unmitigated absolute bandersnatch? He live-tweeted a dental appointment? Gah.

    Archrevenant, and also in the reign of quantity….

    John, I ain’t arguing. Just remember that hallucinations are not affected by the law of gravity.

    Victoria, thank you! Those are good; they remind me of the French knights in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. “Your father was a hamster and your mother smelled of elderberries!”

    Kimberly, no question, all those are factors. The pandemic idiocy that clutches ruling classes in their last years has many causes…

    John, of course the government statistics are phony. By and large, though, when they get worse things are usually getting worse, and when they get better things are usually getting better — it’s just that things are normally a lot worse than they claim, and never as much better. You can check for a rundown on just how things are being massaged.

  207. Thanks for the explanation, JMG, and also thanks to the person whom I can’t find now, sorry, who corrected my misattributed quote.

  208. Thank you for the reference. I saw the $175 to subscribe and ran away years ago. Now I see that is for the newsletter and detailed stats, not the bare stats.

    I depend on websites I have learned to trust for the details. Lots of new jobs at low pay and short hours or one person working 2 or 3 jobs counting more than once in the gov stats.

    Shadowstats shows about 21% unemployment and has been in the 21 to 23% range since 2010. Can’t tell if that includes those who have given up but really want to work. Didn’t you say there is a recent Trump driven improvement?

  209. @John Kincaid & JMG

    Fascinating! I knew that parts of SW USA used to be part of Mexico, but I had no idea it was such a huge part.

    So, I guess Mr. Trump will build his wall, and it’ll reduce the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico into the United States, and that will, in turn, relieve the pressure on working class wages. And then, in a few decades, that wall will go down, and when it does, the event will be celebrated by the Mexican (and more generally, Hispanic) population the way that the fall of the Berlin Wall is celebrated in Germany (and in much of Europe in general).

  210. Hi John Michael,

    Glad to hear that you have also considered the term: “monomaniac”. They’re very dull people and best avoided unless of course you want to be bored out of your brains. Of course Mr Kunstler has posited the: “Trump, Trump, Trump”, phenomenon as a sort of smoke screen for much larger nefarious acts and he may well be right. If I were your President, I’d leave the momentum build for a very sharp and very public rebuke for a little bit longer because don’t you guys have an election next year? Timing is everything with this sort of stuff and if you can work your enemies to your own ends then – why the heck not?

    Ha! I was deliberately dodging the fifth photo, but since you politely asked. Well he looks like a person who can appear confident and satisfied with his works. Now of course it is not lost on me that such people are often also very good: ‘puppet masters’, and when I look at the photo I wonder if he is not holding the strings and saying to himself: “Dance and sing for me”, which of course appears to be what his opponents are doing.

    Why ever they continue to speak disparagingly about your President as a form of strategy is a complete mystery to me. But even down here, I’ve heard people say how awful this bloke is. To me he doesn’t seem any better or worse than plenty of other former Presidents, and there may be a case that he maybe better because at least he hasn’t engaged in any new wars of late. And in a lot of peoples minds, him not identifying and in fact being singled out by the powers that be is like a form of major endorsement.



  211. “David, if I saw more people like that I’d talk about them more often.”

    Somehow I manage to encounter them all the time. Why aren’t you? If the majority of Trump critics you encounter are hyperbolic, that sounds an awful lot like an echo chamber of some sort or another.

    This is a game I see all the time:

    1. Find an ideology that you disagree with
    2. Only pay attention to its worst messengers
    3. Apply their behavior to everyone who holds that ideology.

    Bear in mind that there are 70+ million registered Democrats in this country, and a vast majority of them oppose Trump. I do not believe that all of them match up with the overused caricature of a activist left incoherently screaming to the heavens (as seen in the images you included with your post).

    We have a president who, when asked if he would respect a peaceful transfer of power, replied “I’ll keep you in suspense”. That was the most reckless statement I’ve ever heard from an American politician, and a primary reason why I believe Trump is dangerous. That kind if talk should have been the death knell of a presidential candidate. It is not irrational to be vociferously opposed to this president.

    “Tell me this: can you, without immediately turning around and denouncing the man for something else, name one thing Trump has done that you wholeheartedly agree with?”

    Easily. Withdrawal from the TPP.

  212. Beekeeper,

    “I’m quite sure there are plenty of non-crazy opponents of Trump, there are fine people in our village who fall into that category, but the genuinely unhinged – louder and more brazen – seem to have sucked all the oxygen out of that room.”

    And yet here we are, breathing just fine. I’m going about the work of campaigning for 2 different presidential candidates who I believe would be a better alternative, manning booths at farmers markets, etc. Donald Trump is my president, I just happen to believe that he’s doing more than any other single person to drive a permanent wedge between left and right in this country, or otherwise drastically exacerbate what was already there.

    I think part of the issue here is that we’re all encouraged to look at the half of the country that broadly disagrees with our political philosophy and render them into caricatures. That is emotionally satisfying but only gets us to a place where we’re fighting like rats in a sack.

  213. Escher,

    “Honestly, nothing would make me happier than to see the left (such as it is) drop the hysterics and start talking about policy again.”

    If you honestly believe that then I find it hard to believe you’ve ever listened to a single stump speech by Warren, Yang, or Sanders.

    Bernie in particular repeatedly states that it would be a mistake to make this election all about Trump, as Hillary did. Buttigieg goes out of his way to repeat the same thing.

  214. JMG: with respect, I must take issue with your hammering on gov’t regulation. I think large corporations are vastly underregulated, while, perhaps, small businesses are as you say overregulated. I remember reading “The Omnivore’s Dilemna” by Joel Saladin and appreciating his comments on how food safety regs were making his chicken processing operation nearly impossible. On the other hand, for example, large hog farms known as CAFOs are uniformly harmful to the surrounding environment. We have a new one going in here in Michigan, despite opposition, about 2 miles from Lake Michigan, sited on a creek that runs into the lake. I wonder how long before hog manure is running into the lake, probably after a big rainstorm. Then it will be “Oh, how awful! How can we prevent this from ever happening again?” Not to mention the misuse of antibiotics in CAFO operations or the cruel conditions for the animals housed in them. A week or so ago a poultry factory farm not far from here burned, killing an estimated 250,000 hens. And that was just one barn that burned. Trumps deregulation agenda is one of his policies I don’t buy at all. .

  215. @ Beekeeper and @ Lew

    Re gentrification

    This is one of my concerns about my small city. I had a conversation with a colleague at work who also lives in my town about our city’s utility rates and economic struggles (declining usage, increasing or level costs of infrastructure, therefore rising rates, leading to fewer commercial/industrial users, leading to declining usage). I mentioned my fear that we become the gentrified northern suburb of the larger city just to our south, who has good utility rates and is attracting business b/c of these (this is the utility I work for, so we’re doing a good job!). He was of the mindset of “if that’s what we need to do to survive.” We aren’t anywhere near that yet, but certainly the efforts of city council could take us in that direction if we aren’t careful. I am concerned about the poor and working class folks who generally get pushed out of an area when that occurs.

    Also, I’d hate to see my city lose the genuineness and character that attracted me to it in the first place. Well, that and my wife 🙂

  216. @Rita Wow. Sometimes I think everything has turned in to the National Enquirer. Thank you for the summary of feminism earlier. Good summary of the the movement and blindspots. The fact that they are more likely to support men transitioning to women, than pink-collar job women – thank you @Pogonip for the term! – says it all. It’s about grabbing all they can in capitalism and that’s about it.

  217. John—

    Re The Blood of the Earth

    Given that it was published in 2012, I fully expected variations on your major themes, of course. What I didn’t expect was the clear and unambiguous answer to my previous question re political magic that you give in Chapter 2 (Plato’s Republic), particularly the paragraph leading your discussion of political thaumaturgy on page 50:

    “The would-be political thaumaturge, the person who wants to use magical manipulation to make people do what he thinks is the right thing, is subject to the same rule. He’s trying to do the same thing Plato wanted to do in his imaginary republic by a different means. As thaumaturgy is subtler than jackboots, the political thaumaturge gets his disastrous results in a subtler way.”

    Your points in that chapter are well-made. I understand what you were trying to say in our earlier conversations now.

  218. John Kincaid:

    No, no, no, you’re playing that game wrong. When bank tellers and cashiers ask about personal things you need to have a roster of untrue, but plausible, replies at the ready. This may require a little forethought, especially if, like me, you’re not especially creative on the spot. This goes for other things too: when I use one of the store kiosks to print photos, the kind that demand a name and email address before it will develop the photos, I make up a new and different identity and fake email address every time. I will note that when I’m shopping in a brick and mortar location I always pay with cash so I’m not giving it all away with my name on a credit card.

    As for your bank teller, in my youth I’d have been tempted to say that I need $20’s because my dealer won’t take $100’s. I’m disinclined to say provocative things like that nowadays, what with everything being recorded.


    No question that too many labor saving devices are more work than the labor they save, but one thing that surprised me (because I hadn’t given it much thought) in reading ‘More Work for Mother’ is that even when the invention truly does save labor, it can still reassign it. An example is that of washing laundry: before washing machines, dryers, and temperature-regulated electric irons, doing a family’s laundry was an enormous amount of work that stretched over several days. In the past, any family that could scrape up enough money would hire out the laundry washing, including families we wouldn’t consider particularly well off. This relieved the housewife of the entire job while providing an income opportunity for even poorer women and immigrants who took in other families’ washing (think Chinese laundries).

    With the advent of dependable, affordable washing machines – first in centralized locations (laundromats) and later in private homes – household laundry changed from a long, physically demanding job to one that was faster and relatively easy in comparison. However, the housewives who had formerly farmed out the whole mess now became responsible for the less onerous, but still time consuming work of family laundry, thus increasing their roster of chores. Although it made the job easier, the washer moved the work from hired help to each individual housewife. There were plenty of other really interesting examples of this phenomenon in the book too.

  219. Dear JMG,

    Your response to Pogonip caught my eye. I’ve noticed on various online occult forums a preponderance of discussion on demon summoning which is all rather confounding, since the established myths and literature is so incredibly and consistently hostile to this sort of work. Seriously, it strikes me as akin to swimming in a nasty, polluted, fetid pond just to have the pleasure of removing leeches! Indeed, even the learned sorcerer who coined the term “Dark Paganism” has written a very strong warning against demonic magic!

    The other thing too is that even in these times of darkness and lies, is that it really does seem like many divine beings are happy to work with people and delight in adoration, devotion, libation and prayer. Indeed, some even offer sincere friendship the same way, perhaps, we might offer friendship to a precious weed in the garden or a sonorous cricket under the floorboard.

    I’ve wondered more than once if those of us who practice occultism of the more theurgic variety may help in some small way ameliorate the lower-astral. Certainly, natural magic techniques has made the energy of my family’s house much more agreeable and the air seems brighter; in fact, my family has made mention of it. That said, it’s one thing though to clean out a basement and the like, quite another to do the equivalent with a neighborhood or small town, let alone a nation.

  220. To Godozo: I agree with almost everything you say.

    To JMG: the recent trade agreement have been good for the Mexican and Chinese wage workers. Trade agreements aren’t always bad, it just depends of which side you stand on.

    I won’t be posting more. I’ve found the explanation that I sought. I think that Trump is a true representative of workers, but that workers have an alliance with investors through the Republican party that hurts workers. I hope workers will find better leaders in the future, though I expect they’ll continue to hate salary workers. I’d like to see an alliance of them against the investors, but that won’t happen while I live.

    BTW, I live in flyover country, in Chicago, and grew up in an Indiana town. I worked as a janitor and in a factory but saw quickly how difficult that life would be. I became an entrepreneur, another of JMG’s nichelets, and have tried hard not to get sucked into any of the classes’ ideologies. I’m semiretired and am writing philosophical novels based on paganism.

    Good luck to you in your political quest.

  221. @lievenm says:

    > I really don’t understand that the same screeching is going on in Europe, with the mainstream media pushing out several anti Trump narratives a week. Trump is a continent away and at any rate seems less likely to get involved in yet another disastrous foreign adventure than Hillary would have been and yet the media don’t let up. Then again, the worship of Obama in Europe was also a strange phenomenon. Giving him a Nobel peace price for getting elected was a tad over the top, certainly in light of his later actions.

    As a European I have some ideas…

    1) Many European countries are just serving as satellite states for US interests (especially smaller ones, through diplomatic pressure, sponsoring of candidates to power, deals with certain elites, etc).

    2) The big European country elites are self-serving, and could not care less about their own country, much less EU as a community. They use their state (country) to push other EU countries into submission (to vote favorably in the EU for them), and to promote their own private interests. Sometimes those are in conflict with the US, sometimes they are working as US lackeys (to e.g. get a share of the middle eastern plundering).

    3) European journalists are the same 10% salaried class, and share the same ideology, for the most part, hook line and sinker, as the US journalists. Including SJW ideals and so on, and thinking of the working class as “deplorables”.

    4) But also, them shouting against Trump is a warning (from European elites) against the same kind of “populist” movements and tendencies within EU, e.g. anything that is against globalist policies, unchecked immigration, and suppression of the working class. And they use the hysteria against Trump as political weapon against EU reaction from the traditional (non globalist, pro worker) left, and the populist working class (e.g. Farage, the yellow vests, and so on).

  222. On Beto O’Rourke:

    The Daily Beast has a delicious and very funny article about how Beto O’Rourke blew his lead in the Democratic presidential horse race in which the author writes, “According to my unscientific poll asking every woman I see, Beto reminds them of the worst boyfriend they ever had”. Ouch.

  223. Re: feeling guilty about air travel

    Oh boy! Making a contribution for stoves in poor countries is a lousy, self indulgent, virtue signalling way to assuage the conscience of the environmental elite about air travel. However, that shouldn’t take away from the genuine value of improved stoves. In many places women spend hours a day collecting fuel for cooking and in some of these regions venturing too far from the safety of home or community risks exposing them to physical danger and attack. Once they get home, their existing stoves or open fires can produce so much smoke and airborne particulates that women are at increased risk of lung diseases. A stove that requires less fuel and produces fewer toxins is a dramatic improvement in people’s lives. Too bad the Folks Who Care Deeply can’t just skip the plane trip AND contribute to organizations that provide safer, better, cooking options – including solar cookers where they’re appropriate – to people who need them.

  224. JMG wrote

    “did you think that I was advocating some kind of altruistic program for the good of all? I’m talking about (a) what I see coming down the road, and (b) what my readers might want to do for their own benefit and that of their families and communities.”

    Thanks, that is a very clear and helpful answer. It also points toward how communication across the verbal firing lines of our age might be restored. If we stopped using moral arguments on people who don’t agree about moral frameworks, and instead talk about alliances and compromises that could advance our common interests, we might be able to restore some rational understanding of why people do what they do.

    One way to summarize some of your last posts is that much of the left’s moral framework has dissolved into subjective moral outrage over injustice, and they don’t know how to use tools for convincing anyone to join their side.

  225. David,

    Let me ask you a question: do you think there are any reasonable, justifiable reasons to have voted for Trump?

  226. To everyone, the southwest “belonged to” Mexico? What is Mexico? Do yo really think that today’s “Mexicans” are any relation to the indigenous people of the North American Southwest? Any more than most “Americans” are? You’re all talking about one colonial power fighting another colonial power over land and resources. Perhaps I (as a 4th generation Californian) should insist I should rule Scotland or Hungary (genetically where my ancestors are from)?

    Most Mexicans are mainly descendants of the Spanish Conquistadors, and have no more of a “right” to the American Southwest as anyone else living there. Did they conquer it “fairly” while the “Americans” obtained it “unfairly”?

    And no one seems to want to talk about the Indigenous Native Americans along the border that want immigration laws enforced… Somehow some borders=good, other borders=bad. I can guarantee those walls around the rich peoples “properties” sure do need enforcing. But that’s not racist, it’s property rights and economics.

    So much hypocrisy, so little time.

  227. Dear Beekeeper, I do that plausible stories stuff all the time. My kids used to pretend they didn’t know me when I would, for instance, say I was born on Feb. 30, 1917. My favorite line when the clerk checks my cash for counterfeiting is to say I just made those, of course they are good.

    I can’t figure out what is the rational for the O’Rourke campaign. Who is backing him? The only explanation I can come up with is that he did show himself to be a decent organizer during the senate campaign, gave money to down ballot candidates, some of whom went on to win their seats, so maybe national ticket! was dangled in front of him to keep him off the Democratic National Committee, where his talents are actually needed.

  228. Oops! I forgot to include a link to The Daily Beast article:


    How do you know the commenters here haven’t listened to stump speeches by Warren, Yang, and Buttigieg? Because they disagree with you? I’ve been paying attention but remain unimpressed by most of what I hear. (It might come as a surprise to you that from the time I first registered to vote years ago, I never once cast a ballot for any Republican until the election of 2018. I did not vote for Trump and I don’t know that I’d vote for him next year.) Elizabeth Warren’s plan to make college tuition free, a position she shares with an increasing number of democratic candidates, amounts to a massive transfer of wealth from lower income Americans to the wealthier. Even Pete Buttigieg has thrown cold water on that one: “Americans who have a college degree earn more than Americans who don’t. As a progressive, I have a hard time getting my head around the idea a majority who earn less because they didn’t go to college subsidize a minority who earn more because they did.” I agree.

    I’ve noticed that the candidates who are proposing single-payer health insurance and tuition-free college and money for child care and all kinds of other things are either pretty reticent to explain how we’re supposed to pay for all of that or else they claim that ‘taxing the rich’ will produce sufficient funds for all of the goodies. Meanwhile, there’s no shortage of people much smarter than me who have run the numbers and found that even confiscating all the wealth of all the richest Americans won’t come close to being enough. This means that instituting any or all of these proposals will require a dramatic tax increase on every one of us, so I’d appreciate hearing candidates be honest and own up to it. As far as I know, that hasn’t happened yet.

    By the way, take a look at my name and you’ll know where I live so I’m well acquainted with Bernie Sanders. In the past I’ve supported him as senator, but I wouldn’t vote for him for president.

  229. WRT what you said about the build-up of lower-astral-plane energy being discharged in a situation that causes a lot of people to die messily: That build-up really is so bad, I’ve been thinking the same thing lately about how it’s going to end up.

  230. “In my opinion it is not sustainable to give up flying. I believe we should all be allowed to discover every continent of the world and visit friends and family living far away from us without being frowned upon”

    Not sustainable. Words have no meaning and everyone is now entitled to insurmountable privilege. Haha, this is too much. Thank you Varun, for pointing to this psychedelic read. Reminds me of that time I argued with a 30 Seconds From Mars fan about them not needing to fly to the Arctic to make a music video about melting ice caps.

    If we were an interstellar species, there’d be people justifying a form of space travel which requires blowing up planets because you need to “be there” to experience the culture shock first-hand and to report on all the crises happening in the universe. I guess this solves the Fermi paradox. Privilege blindness will make short work of most any civilization long before astronomic/geological events come along to put the nail in the coffin.

  231. @ Tomriverwriter:

    If the NAFTA was so good for the mexican workers, why in the begining of 90’s just before the NAFTA accord (in 1993) the estimation was 2,5 – 3 millions illegal mexicans living in all the US and 10 years after NAFTA there were around 11 millions?. And why the GDP of Mexico was flat per capita also 10 years after NAFTA? Why the wages and working conditions of the industrial mexican workers sank after NAFTA?

    Yes, in 1993 US exported less than 3 millions tons of corn to Mexico, the mexican government have high tariffs to protect millions of families thar grow corn in small farms, in 2016 US exported 14 millions, and all that farms were out of business and the people lost their way of living, going to the Maquilas or to the US, and the strong young joined the ranks of war bands and drug traffiquers; now is a country with increasing social problems. The rich of both countries benefit from the destruction of the working class.

    Similar process happens in China, with this “story” of “hundreds millions people out of poverty thanks to the off-shoring of industrial jobs fron western countries”, but if you look deeply you will see the same process of dispossession that push the peasants to the sweat shops, it was the same enclosure process used again and again, is the way to build the “reserve army of labor” that benefits mainly the owner of the means of production that control also the supply chains and the market, and their minions

    Curiosly, the US trade representative with Mexico for the “new” NAFTA (USMCA) is pushing to :

    “The agreement calls for 40 to 45 percent of automobile components to be made by workers who earn at least $16 an hour by 2023. This provision specifically targets Mexico and is meant to bring wages there up to US and Canadian standards.”

    “Mexico has to pass laws giving workers the right to real union representation, to extend labor protections to migrants workers (who are often from Central America), and to protect women from discrimination.”

    “And unlike NAFTA, the new deal allows each country to sanction the others for labor violations that impact trade”

    All of this demands are from the US labor unions to “level the field” for american workers, and I don not know why the democrats (Pelosy and others) are fuming about it….

    Also I do not understand why some part of the left is so pro-free trade, because if you want regulation, you cannot sustain it in an open market, you will only regulate closed factories because the factories will move where the regulations (environmental protection, workers’ safety, profit taxes, unions rights, etc…) are lower or nonexistent

    You cannot have good wages, worker rights, environmental protection for industries, good tax base, etc…in an open market. This is my corollary of the “Iron Law of Wages” of David Ricardo


  232. oh sorry!, I forget to say something more about the protectionist policies in US:

    In fact for me the main reason for the US civil war is the big differences in trade policies between the North and the South.
    The South was pro-free trade, and it is easy to understand why: all the countries that have slave labor conditions are pro free-trade, and all the countries that want to industrialize have protectionist policies, that is the reason why US was one of the more protectionist countries in the world in the XIX and the first decades of the XX century (in the growing phase of the american prosperity). If you read the texts of Hamilton and others you will see how deep industrial protectionism was the standard mindset of the american policy to avoid to be an english/european economic colony and to form an army capable to resist the big european powers (and later to build the empire)


  233. Pogonip, you’re most welcome.

    John, the shift under Trump has been a matter of more manufacturing jobs. The retail sector’s continuing to contract,so the raw number is more or less even.

    Irena, I suspect it will be celebrated more the way the Visigoths celebrated the fall of Rome, but other than that, basically, yes.

    Chris, yes, November 2020 is our next general election, and I’d expect a lot of things to happen in a hurry beginning roughly a year from now. “Monomaniac” really is a useful word these days, isn’t it?

    David, there’s another game, which involves insisting that any embarrassing behavior on one’s own side, no matter how widespread it is, is confined to “just a few people on the fringe.” (I’m sure you’ve seen that being played by the far right a few times.) I interact with a lot of people, and the great majority of those I encounter who are opposed to Donald Trump behave in ways that make me wonder about their mental health. That said, you’re on the other side of that divide; thank you for taking my question seriously. I found during the 2016 election that the single most effective way to sort out the sane people from the monomaniacs on both sides was to ask them to name something about the other side’s candidate of which they wholeheartedly approved. It still works quite well; I’ve met a good many Trump fans who would swallow their own noses before they’d admit to the possibility that Hillary Clinton might have a single redeeming feature, and even more Democrats for whom everything Trump has ever done, probably including taking a breath, was an evil deed — and an embarrassingly small number of people who can deal with the fact that we’re talking about politicians and not about theological entities.

    Phutatorius, granted, but have you noticed that every time government regulations get enacted, even if they’re supposed to be aimed at big corporations, they get twisted around so that it’s small business that gets shafted? If you have a way around that, I’m all ears, but doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results isn’t exactly productive, you know…

    Denys, thanks for this.

    David BTL, very glad to hear it.

    Beekeeper, fascinating. Thank you for this.

    Violet, that’s one of the reasons I talk so much about the value of regular banishing, It doesn’t just benefit the practitioner; it benefits the place, and in a small way, the entire world.

    Tomriverwriter, from my point of view you’ve both misunderstood and misapplied what I was trying to communicate. Still, whatever turns your crank…

    Beekeeper, funny! The adjective “cringeworthy” keeps coming to mind when I read about him.

    Ganv, yes, that’s a very good summary.

    Tude, so? Yes, history is full of examples of one country taking land that had been ruled by another. My point isn’t that this or that or the other country has some kind of permanent claim on land it once occupied; it’s that irredentism — that’s the technical term for the sort of political/military movement that seeks to reclaim territory once owned by a country and then lost — is a powerful driving force for instability, migration, and war. As the US slides down the curve of decline and loses its grip over its sparsely settled western regions, those regions are poised to fall into the hands of the nearest country with the spare population and cultural vitality to scoop them up — and I trust I don’t have to point out which country that’s almost certain to be. It’s not about right or wrong, justice or injustice, or any of that; it’s about politics and demographics — that is to say, about power.

    Mister N, it’s been on my mind increasingly for a while.

  234. Re the five stages

    I see much anger out there yet (probably to be expected). In particular, arguments still being made about how racist™ the Electoral College is and how such an evil thing ought to be abolished as it is a barrier to democracy™. (Of course, this is one of those bridges-too-far, as I am a supporter of the construct of our nation as a federal republic of states, so this is one reason Warren is not an option for me.)

    I find our new system of writing here with the ™ symbol useful. I am less annoyed at arguments like these, as racist™ obviously means something other than racist as I understand the word. Framing the verbiage being thrown about as a separate language allows me to see through the confusion which otherwise frustrates me.

  235. Nastarana:

    It is the sacred job of parents to embarrass their children, at least occasionally.

  236. Hmmmm, Privileged Progressives.
    These have been allegorically described as Martians in the 1996 Movie,’Mars Attacks!’

    They go around saying ‘Ack! Ack! Ack! We Come in Peace” while burning people to a crisp.

    The leadership of the country does not get it, right up to the point at which they are all burned to a crisp.
    Only a grassroots effort to play the music of a yodeling cowboy succeeds in defeating them.

    Does this have a familiar look and feel to anyone else?

    I am pretty sure the Democrats still don’t realize that they ran a Martian for President in 2016. It seems likely that they will run another one in 2020.

    Meanwhile, Trump continues to yodel and cause their brains to explode…

    I think I’ll take out my blogging pen on this one!

  237. @violet
    I found that article interesting, but amusing when contrasted to one of his entries which talks about invoking the spirit of Stalin to punish Trump and his supporters, heck I’ll admit I don’t know to much about any of this but the way he was invoking him if it had used an oriental name my ignorant self would think he was still summoning demons.

  238. Will J asked David: “Let me ask you a question: do you think there are any reasonable, justifiable reasons to have voted for Trump?”

    I’m not David, but I’ll answer this one also.

    Trump did talk in advance about various policies that he intended to implement, and he’s actually implementing a small fraction of them, at least to the very limited extent that any sitting president is able to change the nation’s course on any matter of policy.

    Now, as it happens, none of his proposed policies would benefit me (and those I care about) very heavily, and some of them would definitely harm me and mine. So I held my nose hard and voted for Clinton #2, despite my very strong hatred of political dynasties of any sort. She served my interests marginally better than Trump, which is not saying very much. And I thanked my lucky stars that I didn’t have to choose between Clinton #2 and Bush #3.

    But should be obvious to any thoughtful person that some of the things Trump proposed to do, and may actually get done someday, will indeed benefit some of my fellow citizens, and particularly my impoverished fellow citizens whom my more bigoted liberal colleagues condemn as “deplorables” living in “fly-over country.” (These are slurs which I find every bit as nasty as any of the vilest racial or ethnic slurs that were in everybody’s mouth in the San Francisco Bay Area when I was a boy back in the ’40s and ’50s.) Trump the Man is ripping us all off, but Trump the President may actually shift some national policies somewhat, and some of those shifts may bring some citizens somewhat greater benefits down the road than they do now.

    If you want examples of such policies proposed by Trump, I could mention tariffs, I could mention curbing the decades-long abuses of immigration laws (which basically make of the illegal immigrant almost a slave), I could mention taking down the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, and so forth …

    Citizens of that sort do indeed have rational, justifiable reasons for voting for Trump or any candidate like him, and those reasons all boil down to individual self-interest. The only way around that hard fact is to insist that voting on the basis of one’s own self-interest is never justifiable, or maybe even never rational–that one must always vote to favor of some lofty false concept of “national interest.” Balderdash!

    The United States is not one nation, and it never can or will become a single nation. The historical foundations for that sort of unity are just not there. The United States is as many as nine or eleven distinct large sub-nations (and a number of much smaller ones, too), each with its own distinct moral and ethical values and its own distinct economic and social interests. And then there is the cosmopolitan elite, which stands apart from them all, and scorns them all.

    No national policy that massively favors just one of these sub-nations, or–much less–the cosmopolitan elite, can possibly benefit the entire country and its citizenry. In fact, I’m reasonably sure that there is no conceivable national policy that wouldn’t severely harm some large sector of the citizenry. The best we can do is spread the harm around more or less evenly and fairly among the citizenry.

    So of course Trump, or someone cut from the same cloth, was and forever will be the rational choice for all the voters who are actively harmed by current federal policies more than they get benefit from them.

    You may ask, after this rant of mine, where I myself stand on the political spectrum? Right? Left? Center? I call myself a plague-upon-all-your-houses radical, situated somewhere off to the side of the spectrum, though closer to its center than either of its ends. If I had a banner, it would be emblazoned with Kant’s wise saying: “From the Crooked Timber of Humanity No Straight Thing Can Ever be Made”! Those words would surround a symbolic image of Utopia going down, like Atlantis, to eternal destruction beneath the waves.

    The best we can ever do by way of governing ourselves as a nation, IMHO, is an unending chain of very messy, unpleasant compromises between many incompatible interests and many incompatible values; and this chain of compromises tends toward no ultimate goal whatever.

  239. Not all farm to table restaurants are too expensive for the poor to afford. There is one in my nearest town (and there are others in other towns) that works on a “pay what you can” basis, also offering people the opportunity to volunteer in exchange for a meal (mostly doing dishes). It also features local food. I don’t see many poor people eating there, perhaps they don’t like the stigma of getting tokens, or they don’t like the hipster atmosphere, or maybe they are not used to the food.

  240. In my opinion, the growing polarization of American politics is being caused by the knowledge, deep down, that there is too much people for the carrying capacity of the environment, with ever lower EROEI on the oil production extraction plateau. This is spreading everywhere; the same polarization is starting to affect the country where I am from and live, Brazil.

    The two paragraphs that follow are quotes from an e-book, Plan B 3.0 by Lester R. Brown, page 119, available as a free download here. I’m not saying this book is good; I’m only quoting the example.

    In 1950, Rwanda’s population was 2.4 million. By 1993, it had tripled to 7.5 million, making it the most densely populated country in Africa. As population grew, so did the demand for firewood. By 1991, the demand was more than double the sustainable yield of local forests. As trees disappeared, straw and other crop residues were used for cooking fuel. With less organic matter in the soil, land fertility declined.

    As the health of the land deteriorated, so did that of the people dependent on it. Eventually there was simply not enough food to go around. A quiet desperation developed. Like a drought-afflicted countryside, it could be ignited with a single match. That ignition came with the crash of a plane on April 6, 1994, shot down as it approached the capital Kigali, killing President Juvenal Habyarimana. The crash unleashed an organized attack by Hutus, leading to an estimated 800,000 deaths of Tutsis and moderate Hutus in 100 days. In some villages, whole families were slaughtered lest there be survivors to claim the family plot of land.

    The point is, where society organizes in opposing factions is irrelevant. In fiction, there is the permanent war around the side where the egg should be broken from Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. In real life, there is the French Revolution, caused by a series of crop failures, culminating in the poor harvest and the strong winter in 1788.

  241. @Tude (and others discussing American SW)

    It’s been pointed out that a proto-people in the border is in the making. An Arizonan and a Sonoran may have more in common (in terms of their worldview, tastes and values) with each other, than with the average inhabitant of their respective Nations.

    At some point in the distant future, I expect to see a lot more countries covering the territories of North America. In the meantime, it is anyone’s guess what flag may or may not be flying over each town over there.

  242. Are you familiar with what has been called ‘Whig History’? This term has been coined nearly a century ago, and seems to be pretty much equivalent to your ‘progressivism’.

  243. So many great comments to chew on already, I just wanted to add a quick observation about what’s going on around me.

    We bought a house and moved into the downtown area of our community after 7 years of roughing it way off grid 8 miles outside of the same town. Admittedly there aren’t a ton of privileged Progressives around here, but I’ve seen this from enough members of both sides to feel comfortable making a generalization.

    My Trump-voting neighbors downtown and I have to deal with a passel of young children from Latin America. Every day. Guatemalans mostly, from the apartment building across the street. They come up and sit on our porches, look in our windows, want to borrow the scooters, scratch the dogs, blow bubbles, come over for sleepovers…you know, kid stuff.

    The telling thing though is how white Americans of different political persuasions react to this. The Trump-voting neighbors all seem to know most of the kids by name, spend time with them on the porch and in the yard, bring out snacks occasionally, even buy them basic needs like shoes and jackets when they don’t have what they need.

    Are the few Democrats we mix with doing that for the people they so desperately want to allow across the border? Surely you jest. One of our Hillarycrat friends has made an offer on the little Craftsman house across the street (and adjacent to the apartment building), and her first act as new owner will reportedly be to erect a 12′ wall between her and “Those People.” She said it exactly like you just read it in your mind.

    “I have concerns…”

    Another Dem-voting friend told me the other day that our mutual disc golf buddy had broken it off with his girlfriend because she was pressuring him to have a baby. And you know how these local (working class) girls are. They’ll have 3 or 4 if they have one.

    “You’re terrible!” I told him. Then he tried to excuse his comment a couple different ways before admitting that yeah, maybe I am…

    After Katrina my wife and I considered opening our house (in Florida at the time) to refugees. My yellow dog Dem grandmother responded to the idea with “ooh, no, I don’t think that’s a good idea. You never know what you’re going to end up with.”

    What, not who. I have more…

    And of course your mileage may vary.
    Great post! Carry on!

  244. have you noticed that every time government regulations get enacted, even if they’re supposed to be aimed at big corporations, they get twisted around so that it’s small business that gets shafted?

    An observation: I’m a little bit in danger of wading into something I don’t know that much about, but I did observe while living in Germany for a number of years that the proportion of independently-owned small to medium sized businesses to large businesses and multinationals was higher than over here in North America, despite an even more stringent regulatory environment. I believe it’s a similar situation in some other European countries. That small businesses get shafted in the US seems to be a feature particular to US business regulations rather than a general rule about the effect of regulation on small businesses (not that you said it was). Someone please correct me if I’m wrong!

  245. @JMG, you said in your reply to David: “…I found during the 2016 election that the single most effective way to sort out the sane people from the monomaniacs on both sides was to ask them to name something about the other side’s candidate of which they wholeheartedly approved. It still works quite well”.

    Ahhhhh. (Sorry – slow on the uptake, here). I now understand what you were asking last week, when you asked me the same question. I failed the test, by pre-emptively also naming things I didn’t like about or approve of with Trump.

    So, just curious: What is it you like about Hillary Clinton?

  246. @Tude says:

    > To everyone, the southwest “belonged to” Mexico?


    > What is Mexico?

    A state.

    > Do yo really think that today’s “Mexicans” are any relation to the indigenous people of the North American Southwest? Any more than most “Americans” are?

    Yes, a hella a lot of a relation. Much more than the WASPs and other Europeans that occupy the current US Southwest.

    The “white” predominantly Mexicans have been calculated about ~20%. The huge majority is mixed with very many predominantly indigenous.

    > You’re all talking about one colonial power fighting another colonial power over land and resources.

    So? If Mexico takes Texas, California, etc. today would you protest and cry bloody murder?

    Well, the US did the reverse dirty deed not much over a 1.5 century ago.

    > Perhaps I (as a 4th generation Californian) should insist I should rule Scotland or Hungary (genetically where my ancestors are from)?

    Mexicans didn’t insist they should claim the US. The US insisted they take (and took) Mexican territory.

    Whether that belong to indigenous people first is of no much consequence. At the time it was Mexican.

    Does the fact that most of the USA belonged to the ndigenous people too justify some third country to come and take USA land now?

    Mexico was as much a state at the time as the US was (and is now).

  247. Dear SpiceisNice, the revising of the meanings of words is an assertion of privilege with which I, and anyone working for wages, am depressingly familiar. It goes along with formulations like “What we are telling people..” and “I don’t think X meant (what X clearly just told you),…” In other words, a lie is not a lie if I, an important person who outranks you, you nobody you, say so. What I am wondering about the airplane article is why was it published?

  248. Beekeeper,

    This is what I was responding to – “Honestly, nothing would make me happier than to see the left (such as it is) drop the hysterics and start talking about policy again.”

    It’s something I see happen across the political spectrum, saying that the other side never mentions X when in fact they do, and often. Too often we have the arguments we want to have, and if we have to ignore a sizable chunk of what’s being said then we often will. You can find this whenever anyone accuses Sanders of refusing to talk about how he would pay for his policies (he has) or when anyone says Republicans have no ideas for improving healthcare (they do).

  249. John–

    The sputtering incomprehension seems to be alive and well in the responses to this post:

    “What the [frack] is wrong with this country?”
    “It’s the economy; these voters only care about themselves.”
    “We’re succumbing to anti-intellectualism and nationalistic demagoguery.”
    “It’s the media’s fault.” [!!]
    “It’s because we aren’t aggressively pursuing impeachment!” or, alternatively, “It’s because we’re being too aggressive talking about impeachment!”
    Etc, etc.

    But “Uncle Joe” will win back those [sexist, racist] white working class voters in the Midwest, so all is well…

  250. “David, there’s another game, which involves insisting that any embarrassing behavior on one’s own side, no matter how widespread it is, is confined to “just a few people on the fringe.”

    Your post on binary thinking a few years back rearranged my mental map immensely, and I’m finding is that too many of our political arguments now rely on an oversimplified left / right divide. My answer to that: talk to a communist sometime and ask them what they think of the Democratic party. Even AOC is an apostate (are you familiar with the term “sheepdog”?)

    A majority of the time, whenever a statement revolves around “the Left” or “the Right” you’re about to see distinctions get blurred into impressionism. I’m working on campaigns for Warren and Sanders. I think language policing and a never-ending oppression olympics are deeply stupid ideas. I also don’t buy into the magical thinking required to believe that ever social good automatically comes with a decent ROI; the market will not always provide. So am I part of The Left? And does the screaming campus leftist fringe figure we’re talking about speak for me?

  251. Have you heard of what is called ‘Whig History’? Though coined almost a century ago, the term seems pretty similar to what you call progressivism.

  252. John, et al.

    I had to relay this, just because I think it illustrates the bizarre place some in the Dem camp are coming from. One of the usual commenters, who often vents about Trump, on the post I linked to previously, regarding the President’s approval rating hitting a new high, in pertinent part and edited for this blog:

    Yeah, but don’t you think 40 to 46% of people that racist, that fearful, that ignorant, that hate-filled, that amenable to right-wing fascist propaganda, that [fracking] STUPID is dangerous in any democracy, particularly ours––hobbled as it is by our antiquated 18th century constitution with anti-democratic institutions like the Senate and the Electoral College??

    So now democracy™ is “hobbled” by antiquated institutions such as the Constitution, the Senate, and the Electoral College. I’m sure rhetoric like this will help the undecideds decide, but likely not in the manner the author of this diatribe wishes.

  253. One of my regrets going away this week was that I knew it would be an interesting post. I think this week’s post should be reprinted in a few places, like the Washington Post, Huffington Post.

  254. How does one go about getting their mind to resonate on a astral plane higher than the lower one?

  255. @ Beekeeper in Vermont – I have seen, heard and read all the things you mention, in our county. I agree. I had just never pulled the all together, before.

    As an addendum, I haven’t heard from that “friend” in years. He moved to the big city (Seattle) and became an entire urban creature. The breaking point came when he decided that e-mail was too old fashioned, and would only text. I don’t text. Just one of the technological lines in the sand that I have drawn. So it goes.

    Your mention of The History of Laundry 🙂 reminded me of something. Years ago, I saw a DVD about the treadle sewing machine. One interesting bit was that in days before the sewing machine, a skilled needle woman would come to a farm district and settle in, for awhile. She carried material and notions, and the latest paper fashion plates. Women from across the district would come to sew, socialize and generally reconnect. Not only were dresses made, but usually clothes for the entire family.

    Then came the sewing machine. Life got a lot more lonely, for the farm wife. Lew

  256. @ David BTL – Gentrification has come slowly, here. But, it’s come. In stealth, around the edges. We do have a Starbucks, or three :-). The powers that be are all growth, growth, growth, which they think will bring prosperity. But no other problems. Seems there’s always some big plan afoot that falls through. The last one was a big grocery warehouse that was going to employ 185 people. Our current housing vacancy rate is 1%.

    Generally, the Powers That Be, don’t want any change. Unless it’s lining their pockets. Then, whatever it is, is a good idea and roadblocks and regulations are smoothed away.

    I moved here in 1982, or so. There have been big changes, taking the 20/20 hindsight view. I’d say the three things that really changed the place were 1.) The Internet, 2.) Cable TV and 3,) a video store on every corner. Of course, some of those things have changed, or are gone. But at the time, they all arrived in short order. The world came crashing in. Lew

  257. JBucks, I’m fairly sure at least part of the distinction you noticed was a function of the Justinian versus Common Law legal regimes that hold sway in the two jurisdictions. Common law is very Ad hoc, much of it is decided during trials themselves and many legal decisions are made by ordinary citizens with no legal or rhetorical training. That system has advantages, but it also gives an individual lawyer who’s very good at his or her job much more power – and someone who can afford the best lawyer is more likely to get their way. The Justinian code is written so judges follow the law as written with no reference to precedent. That has some disadvantages, but it substantially reduces the advantage hiring the better lawyer brings.

  258. @Nastarana: A combination of confessing one’s climate sins & rationalizing/defending one’s privileged lifestyle.

    As delirious as this may read to anyone with a sense of proportion, far too many well-off virtue signalers will nod along with this article and say “Yep, how can we possibly be expected to change the way we live. Clearly the companies/scientists/government just needs to dream up the solution.”

    Remember when AOC, main proponent of the “Green New Deal”, defended her constant Uber/Lyfting and flying around the country by saying “I’m just living in the world”? They can’t help themselves. Their addiction to hypocrisy is a sad thing to watch.

  259. I just read this article over on, another take on what’s happening in the wake of the Mueller report. The author compares the reaction of Democrats to the findings of the report to that of various 19th century apocalyptic cults when Jesus failed to return on schedule. Having been part of a fundamentalist church in my childhood, it made a lot of sense to me:

  260. John,
    What do you think of UBI? Both the feasibility and the impact? I believe that many problems today have to do with the pervading anxiety of scarcity, which feels very real in this world. On the other hand, I see that some people need/want to be poor. Best regards.

  261. I can confirm that the economy has improved since Trump took office and there are more manufacturing jobs here in the south eastern part of the US. I’m pretty confident Trump is going to get his 2nd term in 2020.

    Speaking of the cluelessness of the elites and the faith in progress, a friend of mine recently visited a high level economic forum in Russia. The main topic was improvement of the economy and living standards in the country. All presenters agreed that more economic growth is required, particularly in the industrial sector. When my friend politely pointed out that industrial output may have reached (or is close to) a limit imposed by available natural resources the room went silent until somebody said “well, we shouldn’t look into such gloomy scenarios” and the conversation about growth continued. The ruling elites in every major country believe in progress and pursue economic growth. So its all up to individual actions and local politics which some readers of this blog engage in.

    Also, “Greerheads” would be a cool name for a metal band. 🙂

    I do wonder if we can find a collective name for the fans of JMG’s works though, it became such a lively group over the years. Inspired by the 18th century Anacreontic Society I even thought about writing a hymn for this hypothetical club which would start something like this:

    “To John Michael Greer in Gwynfyd, where he sat in full glee,
    Some children of wisdom have sent a request,
    That he their inspirer and patron would be;
    When this answer arrived from the jolly old Druid…”

    I don’t know how to continue yet and I have embarrassed myself enough with bad poetry for today. 😉

  262. John–

    I understand this yet don’t understand this at the same time:

    Psychologically, many on the left are in free-fall, however, from a practical standpoint:

    1) Pointless hand-wringing. 2) Makes one look like a fool. 3) Has the same hyperventilating characteristics as the build-up to the Mueller report. 4) The constitution is quite clear as to when a President’s term ends (noon, Jan 20th) and federal law has a clear line of succession. 5) This is the same song-and-dance that gets trotted out by each party since I’ve been voting (Clinton wasn’t going to leave office, then Bush II wasn’t going to leave office, then Obama wasn’t going to leave office, now Trump isn’t going to leave office). 6) Doesn’t exactly make an effective appeal to middle-of-the-road voters, whom the Democrats (presumably) wish to attract for 2020.

  263. It seems that Germany can’t get past physics/nature no matter how much they spend on “renewables”.

    (In Washington State we had a scientist governor Dixy Lee Ray 1977-1981. She couldn’t do common sense either.)

    snips from articles:

    Renewables Are Dead

    The stage is set: everybody’s favorite renewables producer has fallen flat on its face. And don’t forget, Angela Merkel, the Mutti behind the Energiewende, is a physicist by training. Thermodynamics must have been a class she missed.

    Germany has already spent $180 billion on its switch to renewables, only to find it doesn’t work.

    links to Spiegel (also machine translated to English)

    and Forbes

    But Germany didn’t just fall short of its climate targets. Its emissions have flat-lined since 2009.

  264. David, Korzybski used to do the same thing with superscripts. He’d have pointed out that racism^1 does not equal racism^2, and so on. But, yes, the ™ symbol does a fine job of that!

    Emmanuel, good heavens. I didn’t watch the movie in question, but yes, that does sound like a highly prescient vision in its own odd way…

    John, you’re welcome.

    Iuval, interesting. I haven’t encountered one of those — but then my taste in dining tends toward low-end Asian places with tacky decor and taquerias where the meat-and-fat-and-carb quotient is enough to send a food bully into shrieking hysterics on the spot.

    Packshaud, I think that’s an important part of it. Another, equally important part of it is that the imperial decline of the US means that all of us are soon going to be a lot poorer than we are now, and the frantic attempt to shove off impoverishment onto someone else is a major driver of the current hatred and rancor.

    Jean-Baptiste, indeed I am; the term has been used extensively in the history of science, which I studied at university. Whig history shares a historical consciousness with what I’m calling privileged progressivism, but I want to keep the focus on current political activity rather than the assumptions underlying it.

    Tripp, fascinating, Not at all surprising, mind you, but fascinating…

    Jbucks, I have no reason to think that you’re wrong; what I’m talking about is specifically what’s happened here in the US. It’s another marker of the extent to which policies that work on one side of the Atlantic don’t necessarily work on the other.

    Caryn, now you know one of my little tricks. As for Hillary Clinton, I admire several things about her. Her determination and persistence are impressive. She seems to be able to win the love and loyalty of the people closest to her, and that’s generally the sign of someone who has impressive personal qualities, however well or poorly those come across in a public persona. Finally, I recall being favorably impressed by some of the proposals she included in her campaign platform; it’s been more than two years and I don’t recall the details, but I could probably chase down a copy on and name some specifics if you like.

    David BTL, I suspect we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

    David, as I noted in my response earlier, you’ve demonstrated that you’re not in that category, since you were able to name something Trump had done that you approve of. I’d be delighted to see more people of leftward attitudes in your category and fewer in the realm of the campus screamers. Perhaps you can encourage some of those you know who share your views to speak out more, and distance themselves publicly from the realm just mentioned; if the Democratic party’s going to have a chance to pull out of its nosedive, that’s one of the things that could help do it.

    Nickel, yep. The distinction, as noted to Jean-Baptiste above, is between a historical tendency and a current political movement.

    David BTL, I see I did not prophesy in vain! Stay tune for people insisting that we have to impose a dictatorship to save democracy™…

  265. @pogonip I don’t know anything about your website, but that’s simply not how Mary Kay works.

    I make enough that I have to file a Schedule C with the IRS every year, and I have no recruits and never have. I buy at wholesale, sell at retail, and that’s it. I don’t buy from my recruiter, I buy directly from Mary Kay.

    This is probably not the week for it, but hit me up next free-for-all post and I’ll lay it out in more detail how the finances work, because I’m the suspicious-minded sort who had to have all of that in the first place. In the mean time, just understand that the percentage of any cosmetic of any brand you buy that covers manufacturing cost is very similar to that of soda.

  266. OT here, but – since the Weird of Hali books make heavy use of “The Poems of Justin Geoffrey”, wouldn’t it be a nice supplement to the series if we could buy such a book?

    Pat, checkbook just waiting.

  267. JMG- “a dictatorship to save democracy…” I think that’s not far off from what the Germans of the 1930s thought they were getting… a counterweight to the Communist agitators.

    I just ran across a phrase worth keeping “green nihilism”: that perspective that nothing sufficient can be done, thus nothing at all need be done, to minimize damage to the environment.

  268. …and Mitch McConnell just taxed the Democrats with working through the five stages of grief. Details? Here you go.

    Mitch, if you’re reading this, welcome to the blog. I know it would be politically damaging for you to mention that you borrowed a piece of rhetoric from a Druid, so don’t worry about that; if you’ve got a grandkid who likes fantasy fiction, though, you might consider getting him or her the first of the Weird of Hali books. 😉

  269. Onething, I wish! Mind you, some of my ideas have already been quoted without attribution in some fairly widely read periodicals and websites, so I’m not complaining; the important thing is to get the ideas out, not to have my name stapled to them.

    Space Monkey, it’s called “spirituality.” That’s the whole point of spiritual practice of every kind.

    Beekeeper, hah! They’re dead on target, of course — and it’s great to see historical literacy raising its fanged and dangerous head.

    Y. Chireau, in theory, it’s a great idea. In practice, landlords and other businesspeople who prey on the poor would simply jack up rents and prices to absorb the additional income. Changes in government policy to make jobs more readily available to unskilled and semiskilled workers seems like a better idea to me.

    Aspirant, funny. I’d be happy to see a band named the Greerheads, especially if they did death-metal tunes about planting turnip seeds in organic garden beds and putting in insulation. As for a collective name, hmm. I’ll have to leave that to my readers to come up with; I have no ear for such things.

    David BTL, it’s as close as they can get to dealing with the rising chance that they could lose the 2020 election badly.

    John, good heavens — now there’s a name I haven’t heard in a couple of half-lives of transuranic metals. I remember Dixy Lee Ray tolerably well; I lived in Seattle at the time, and her failure was one of things that convinced me that Plato was smoking his shorts and that a government run by intellectuals was guaranteed to crash and burn. (I say this as an intellectual, mind you; I’d be as bad a governor as she was.) As for Germany, yep — there are these awkward things called the laws of thermodynamics, and they do not care how many times you say “Energiewende” into a microphone…

    Patricia, I’ve got about a dozen poems by the eccentric Texan poet in a file. It may take a while before I can get him to finish “The People of the Monolith,” but we’ll see. He’s a minor character in the last book in the series, btw…

    Lathechuck, true enough. As for green nihilism, I wonder how often it’s just an excuse for a wasteful lifestyle!

    Ryan, too funny. I recall a parking garage in downtown Seattle that had a heliport on its top floor — after all, people were going to be commuting by helicopter soon, right? That I know of, from the time it was built in the 1960s to the time it was torn down around 2000, not one helicopter ever landed there.

  270. Re JMG’s remark to Y. Chireau, I always thought it would be a good idea to pass a Federal law that a college degree is a Bona Fide Occupational Quality. A BFOQ is a trait so prima facie discriminatory that an employer can’t use it to screen out candidates unless he can show a darn good reason, e. g. s manufacturer of breast pads wanting to hire people to test his product might get away with hiring only nursing mothers (although in these loony times even that might result in a ruinous lawsuit). College, and even more so, “some college,” has long been used to discriminate against people with the wrong kind of accent.

  271. Hi BoysMom

    Oh, it’s not my site. 43 years ago I went to a Mary Kay party and have had nothing to do with the company since; I was just citing it as an example since I had recently seen so it jumped into my mind.

    The lady who runs is challenging Mary Kay ladies to show her their schedule C, if you are interested.

  272. It sure seems like Trump is trying to goad the Dems into impeaching him over collusion or obstruction. The drama the networks would create around it would make it seem like a multi-series movie. It would consume the news completely and the Dem candidates would never get any media coverage to make their case for why people should vote FOR them. There is a small very vocal pool of people who will vote against Trump but not enough to move him out of office. All Trump has to do during the impeachment trial is declassify anything related to the investigation to turn the tide in his favor. And the lead candidate on the Dem side being the VP of the President who ordered the investigation into Trump…. can’t you see the debate confrontation already? “Joe, why did you weaponize the swamp against me?” We are living in a movie.

  273. Wanted to share this with you JMG – more argument that nuclear can’t pay for itself. From the paper today – PA’s nuclear plants demanded a $500 million bail out package from the state to stay in operation. The article doesn’t say this, but I’m hypothesizing it is cheaper to buy electricity from natural gas or coal generating plants so they can’t sell the nuclear generated electricity on the open market.

    It’s also worth noting that these plants were only set to operate for 30 years originally and they keep getting re-licensed to operate for additional decades by the Feds. Even with doubling the operating period, they still aren’t profitable. The timelines and costs to dismantle these things are fantasies too and I have little hope it will ever be done correctly at all never mind for the $$ quoted.

    Here’s some highlights…..

    HARRISBURG — Three Mile Island, site of the United States’ worst nuclear power accident, will begin a planned shutdown starting June 1 now that it is clear that it will not get a financial rescue from Pennsylvania, its owner said Wednesday.

    Exelon Corp.’s statement comes two years after the Chicago-based energy giant threatened to close the money-losing plant without what critics have called a bailout.

    The fight over Three Mile Island and Pennsylvania’s four other nuclear power plants invigorated a debate over the “zero carbon emissions” characteristics of nuclear power in the age of global warming and in one of the nation’s largest fossil fuel-producing states.

    Three Mile Island’s Unit 1 is licensed to operate through 2034, and shutting it down will cut its life short by 15 years. Power from the plant along the Susquehanna River is expected to be replaced by electricity from coal and natural gas-fired power plants that run below capacity in a saturated market.

    It will go offline by Sept. 30, Exelon said.

    Decommissioning Unit 1, dismantling its buildings and removing spent fuel could take six decades and cost more than $1 billion, Exelon estimates.

    The destroyed Unit 2 is sealed and its twin cooling towers remain standing. Its core was shipped years ago to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory. What is left inside the containment building remains highly radioactive and encased in concrete.

    Work to dismantle Unit 2 is scheduled to begin in 2041 and be completed in 2053, its owner, FirstEnergy, said.

  274. Pingback: URL
  275. Now, this thing about demons is interesting. My Hindu teacher’s basic thesis about what’s messed up is that there a lot more demons, and demonic patterns than people realize.

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